6 February 2010

Markets Beware Greeks Bearing Gilts

As Greece stumbles its way towards the humiliation of an IMF loan it is the way this latest economic tragedy is being reported that causes most concern. The hegemony of market domination is complete as journalists report on the need for the country to rapidly cut public spending with no voice given to those in the country who need public spending to continue.

The flight from Greek national debt is a demonstration of the growing power of the market makers, as they attempt to sideline and denigrate the more vulnerable of the European economies. Far from reducing their power, the financial crisis has emboldened the finance traders, since it proved that no government had the courage to make politics and public interest count for more than market profit. With a few exceptions, commentators who might defend the interests of the citizen against those of the speculators are excluded from the media so that the public debate is framed entirely in terms of what Greek politicians must do to please the markets. There is no sense of irony that, even in the home of democracy, the wishes of the people have become an irrelevance.

The speculative attacks on Greece and the lining up of the countries that are to follow - Portugal and Spain are in the firing line first, since Ireland kowtowed and put its credit-rating before the needs of its people - is reminiscent of the 1997 Asian financial crisis. The movements in value of national economies and their debt enables the gaining of arbitrage profit for the speculators, whose room for manoeuvre always expands during a crisis. Hence the credit-rating agencies and the media are working together to create opportunities for profit.

The case for a new international financial system, negotiated on a democratic basis, grows ever stronger. The original role of the IMF was to intervene in just this sort of situation, and in its early days its facilities were used mostly by the European economies who were taking the rocky road to reconstruction following the Second World War. The Greek crisis is a clear demonstration of the need for a democratic and accountable lender of last resort for the world economy to replace the disaster of a financial system dominated by private speculative interests.

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