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A Taxing Question: Re-reading Piketty

Frank Lee reviews Capital in the 21st Century by Thomas Piketty

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This book by Thomas Piketty was first published in 2014 and became an instant best seller. It had taken the author some 15 years to research and complete, and deserves a detailed attention and analysis rather than the usual one-off, production-line tracts which are read and instantly forgotten. Piketty describes the end of an old epoch, the rise of the new – the golden age of welfare-capitalism, Le Trente Glorieuses, the Keynes/Beveridge consensus, call it what you will, circa 1945-1975 – and the re-emergence of a second rentier capitalism regime which began the early 1980s.

Using apposite literary references to writers of the first gilded age he quotes:

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”
Jane Austen – Pride and Prejudice

An immortal sentence which says a thousand words. Such was the moral zeitgeist in Europe during the 19th century; Piketty then drives home the point by adding Honorė De Balzac’s novel Pėre Goriot which focuses on the decadent, money-grubbing dispensation of the Bourbon Restoration. Arguably the moral climate hasn’t appreciably changed in our money worshipping age, but the origins of a ‘good fortune’ has. What concerns Piketty, is the source and nature of this ‘good fortune’ which is so sought after, and also where this latest historical configuration is leading.

The world of Austen and Balzac lasted from roughly 1870-1910 representing the first belle époque of rentier capitalism. The system[1] involves ownership of capital assets – in the 19th century mainly land – and living from the rent (in the broad sense) derived from these assets. Latterly, in what is the second golden age of the rentier regime, the capital asset base has changed from simply land to ownership of financial assets, real estate, stocks and bonds and high corporate incomes.

This is not to say that the old rentier classes have ceased to exist, but they have been supplemented by an emergent new class of hedge-fund managers, corporate executives and CEOs, investment bank chiefs, and former entrepreneurs like Bill Gates – which for a better term, we will call the working rich. As Piketty explains:

The top decile (10%) always encompasses two different worlds: the 9% in which income from labour predominates, and the 1% (of true rentiers) in which income from capital becomes progressively more important.”

Thus, former entrepreneurs such as Bill Gates cease to live off their labour as their accumulation of capital enables them to enter the genuine rentier class, the class able to live off capital. The new rentiers would also include Heiresses such as Liliane Bettencourt of L’Oreal and Paris Hilton, neither of whom have ever done a day’s work in their lives. Consequently, the rentier class grows with every passage of successful entrepreneurs entering its ranks. It might also be added that there has also been the rise of a parasitic speculative financial sector class who make a living by purchasing and selling various asset classes, in the main stocks, property and bonds.

Historically speaking Piketty asserts that the trend line for return on capital has been 4/5% – this has been an historical fact rather than some inexorable law – whereas growth has lagged at 1 to 1.5%. This process is expressed in the equation r>g where r is return on capital and g is growth. Accumulated capital (as stock) has tended to increase as a ratio to income (as flow). Moreover, the distribution of national income (GDP) has become increasingly skewed to the top decile. According to Piketty this has been a technical as well as a social/political process the consequences of which will be profound.

When the rate of return on capital significantly exceeds the growth rate of the economy (as it did throughout history up to and including the 19th century and as is likely to be the case in the 21st century) then it logically follows that inherited wealth grows faster than output and income … Under such conditions, it is almost inevitable that inherited wealth will dominate wealth amassed from a lifetime’s labour by a wide margin, and that the concentration of capital will attain extremely high levels – levels potentially incompatible with the meritocratic values and principles of social justice fundamental to modern democratic societies.

The rise of the neo-rentier, sector, i.e., Finance, Insurance and Real Estate (F.I.R.E) – consisting of banks, credit agencies, investment companies, brokers and dealers of commodities and securities, security and commodity exchanges, insurance agents, buyers, sellers, lessors, lessees and so forth – has now reached such a level that it has become larger, more ubiquitous, and profitable than productive industry. Prior to the ascent of financialised capitalism and the deregulation and privatisation mania/racket, the role of finance was usually restricted to greasing the wheels of the productive (value-creating) economy. Commercial banks took the publics’ deposits and funnelled it as credit into manufacturing and commercial enterprises. In this regulated environment commercial banks and other financial institutions were legally circumscribed in the level of credit they could extend.

This development was in large part given additional impetus by the “Big Bang” a term used in reference to the sudden deregulation of financial markets, by Margaret Thatcher’s administration in 1986. Finance was off the leash. Instead of producing real value as embodied in goods and services, selling of ownership titles and tapping into income streams was to become the chosen field of investment.

Thus, the rentier class, both then and now, accumulates and lives off what David Ricardo (1772-1823) once described as economic rent, income in his time derived from land ownership. Rent in this sense should be understood as a payment over and above the costs of ownership to the aristocratic, land-owning rentier class – who don’t actually produce any value as such. But economic rent is not restricted to land tenure; it is any income flow which contains a surplus increment over and above the costs of production, maintenance and ownership. Thus, monopolies and oligopolistic corporate structures are able to gouge economic rent from captive consumers.

As for banks they produce little in terms of value, loan money into existence and draw rental interest from these loans (mainly mortgages). It should be emphasised that economic rent is not be confused with profit (in Marxist terms ‘surplus value’). Profit involves the production of wealth and expansion of capital, rent is merely an extraction of wealth, it does not create any new value. Employees of Goldman Sachs, or any other financial institution do not produce profit, they produce rental monetary flows which are in fact a cost levied on productive value-creation. The financial sector in this sense is purely bloodsucking on the productive sector of the economy.

Not that this contemporary rentier regime has always had its own way. At a guess, and with due deference to Mr. P, I would say that the democratisation and equalisation process which ended the first epoch of the rentier ancien regime began with Roosevelt’s New Deal (1933) and continued during the war and post 1945.

The profound shocks, both political and social, of the period 1914-1945, tended to narrow both the capital/income ratio and the grotesquely unequal share of the rentier classes in national income (GDP). These shocks were of both a technical and political nature.

High rates of growth are both cause and effect of deep-going economic, social and political change: primarily war, preparation for war and post-war reconstruction. New economic functions and innovations were of necessity constantly being created and new skills were needed. Education, perforce, became more widespread and compulsory as the system revolutionised itself from within and new classes and work methods emerged which required increased rates of social mobility; in this sense the permanent revolution in the economic structures gave rise to changes in the occupational, political and social structures.

This process tended to spread the social product more evenly, tilting it towards more egalitarian levels. Additionally, political developments – trade unions, workers’ political parties and movements and the growing militancy of the working class – tended to add an additional momentum to this process. The increasing state regulation of the system which now introduced progressive taxation and the number of lost fortunes during the depression years, in addition to the capital destruction during World Wars 1 and 2 resulted in the ancien regime of rentierdom undergoing a severe contraction.[2]

Unfortunately, this was not to be a permanent fait accompli as revisionists like the Labour party grandee Anthony Crosland and his epigones imagined. From 1980-2010 reactionary forces were, to a significant extent, able to re-establish the status quo ante. The neo-liberal counter-revolution eventually overturned the post-1945 settlement and became the new orthodoxy. It was a return to business as usual but considerably more ruthless. This new age did not brook failure or poverty: In the words of the late Freddie Mercury and Queen (the band) there was ‘No time for losers.’

Pikkety’s mooted solution to this inexorable increase in income and wealth inequality is a progressive tax on capital which will, it is argued, prevent the ultimately unsustainable mal-distribution of wealth into fewer and fewer hands. This Land Tax policy was very widespread during the 19th century; it was a view shared by Ricardo and J.S.Mill – who noted the injustice of those landowners ‘who enriched themselves in their sleep’.

One of the leading proponents of this theory was Henry George (1839-1897) the American land reformer as contained in his popular writings[3] and who at the time was giving spellbinding performances during a lecture tour of England in 1882.[4]

In addition to land tax, Piketty stipulates taxes on capital which would generally include any levy on the flow of income from capital (such as corporate income tax, as well as tax on capital stock (such as real estate tax and/or a wealth tax). Capital controls could be used to stop inflows and outflows of ‘hot money’ which has been largely a function of tax competition between states and a generally destabilising force.

A contemporary of Pikkety – Michael Hudson – argues along the same lines:

Volumes II and III of Marx’s Capital describe how debt grows exponentially, burdening the economy with carrying charges. This overhead is subjecting today’s Western finance-capitalist economies to austerity, shrinking living standards and capital investment while increasing their cost of living and doing business. That is the main reason why they are losing their export markets and becoming de-industrialized.

The most pressing policy challenge is to keep down the cost of housing. Rising housing prices mean larger and larger debts extracting interest out of the economy. The strongest way to prevent this is to tax away the rise in land prices, collecting the rental value for the government instead of letting it be pledged to the banks as mortgage interest.

The same logic applies to public collection of natural resource and monopoly rents. Failure to tax them away will enable banks to create debt against these rents, building financial and other rentier charges into the pricing of basic needs …’’ Ergo. ’’The best protection against this rentier burden is simple: first, tax away the land’s rising rental valuation to prevent it from being paid out for bank loans; and second, keep control of banks in public hands. Credit is necessary but should be directed productively and debts written down when paying them threatens to create financial Armageddon.[5]

Agreed, all very well and good. However, at this point I must raise a particular issue. Piketty, like J.A.Hobson, Sismondi, Keynes, and most other underconsumption theorists[6] tended to think of capitalism’s malfunctions as problems of distribution. No problems were apparently situated on the supply side – production – of the economy.

This I believe is a glaring oversight. For it is the case that capitalism does have supply-side malfunctions which lead to a secular tendency toward stagnation regardless of the level of aggregate demand. This has been pointed out by inter alia: (Ricardo) diminishing returns, (Keynes) the collapse in the marginal efficiency of capital, (Schumpeter) disappearing investment opportunities (Marx) the tendency of the rate of profit to fall; none of which warrant a mention in the reformers lexicon. (see further below).

As an aside these theories are much to detailed to go into and beyond the scope of this article (I’m not trying to squirm out!) but deserved to be mentioned and form an article in their own right one day.

Moreover, the problem of increasing secular stagnation tends to be viewed as being a fundamentally technical problem: all that was needed was just get the macro-economic and fiscal variables correctly lined up and – bingo! Problem solved. Once all the technical ducks were in a row it was possible to have a system which produced the goods ad infinitum. This is not how capitalism, particularly in its mature (i.e. stagnant) stage really works, however. The system is characterised by laws of motion internal and intrinsic to the system. This raises the question whether capitalism – like the EU – can really be reformed at all. One V.I. Lenin certainly didn’t think so.

It goes without saying that if capitalism could develop agriculture, which today is everywhere lagging terribly behind industry, if it could raise the living standard of the masses, who in spite of technical progress are everywhere half-starved and poverty-stricken, there would be no question of a surplus of capital.

This argument is very often advanced by petit-bourgeois critics of capitalism. But if capitalism did these things it would not be capitalism; for both uneven development and semi-starvation levels of existence levels of the masses (particularly in the third world – my emphasis – FL) are inevitable conditions and constitute the premises of this mode of production.

As long as capitalism remains what it is, surplus capital will be utilised not for the purposes of raising the standard of living of the masses in a given country, for this would mean a decline in the profits for the capitalists, but for the purpose of increasing profits by exporting capital abroad to the backward countries.”[7]

At the present time debt is growing faster than output in an attempt to obviate the onset of diminishing returns, or in Marx’s terms the tendency of the rate of profit to fall. (See both the work of David Harvey and Michael Roberts). US public debt to GDP ratio was 30% in 1980, it is now in 2019 105%. The US sovereign debt is bigger than its GDP. (Let’s not even go to private debt and unfunded future liabilities, social security, Medicare and Medicaid, it might frighten the children)

Profitability, which drives corporate investment has declined and resulted in spare capacity, since as profits fall so does investment; corporations therefore attempted to fatten up the bottom line by; launching the offensive against organized labour by pushing down wages and working conditions; moved offshore to take advantage of lower costs; clamoured for corporate tax cuts; bought back their own stocks with free money courtesy of the central bank to push up stock prices; as well as engaging in some very dubious mergers and acquisitions, in an attempt to restore profitability or at the least to stay solvent. Thus, we have the emergence of a late capitalist zombie economy.

Low interest rates create zombie companies. Weak businesses survive (when they ought to have gone out of business) directing cash flow to cover interest on loans – but not the principal – that cannot be repaid but that banks will not write off. With capital tied up, banks reduce lending to productive enterprises, especially small and medium sized ones, which account for a large proportion of economic activity and employment. Firms do not dispose of or restructure unproductive investments.

The creative destruction of the slump when businesses of this type go out of existence and debts are wiped out and the reallocation of resources necessary to restore the economy does not, for better or worse, take place today. Thus, a zombie economy, where failed businesses are kept artificially afloat is one where the necessary adjustments including liquidation of unproductive enterprises and assets are allowed to continue and the necessary restructuring fails to take place. This thus results in a semi-permanent, depressed conditions, until the next downturn comes along.

All very Austrian, but it has to be said, basically correct. A debt saturated economy will increasingly stagnate. Debts must be written off or restructured as the sine qua non for any genuine recovery. Under neoliberalism? Fat chance!

Additionally, the problem is as much political and ideological as technical. History clearly evinces that the ruling elites will not give up their wealth and power without a tenacious struggle; and moreover, they won’t hesitate to use extra-parliamentary methods to defend their privileges. The programme advanced by Piketty, whilst worthwhile in a technical sense, is weak in political content in terms of what a popular resistance to the status quo would look like. He poses the question:

Can we imagine a 21st century in which capitalism will be transcended in a more peaceful and more lasting way, or must we simply await the next crisis or the next war (this time truly global)? On the basis of history which I have brought to light here, can we imagine political institutions that might regulate today’s global patrimonial capitalism justly as well as efficiently?”[8]

Good question, which brings us to the ‘class-struggle’.

Mindful of the expected petit-bourgeois sniggers, one of the great political truisms is that substantial economic, social and political reforms, tend to be achieved by a combination of irresistible and often extra-parliamentary pressure from below. Without the mass movement, and without the theoretical direction and programme of such a movement, such well-intentioned, well-thought out and sensible policies seldom get off the ground.

Such was the essence and creation of the Trente Glorieuses 1945-1975 resulting from the New Deal in the US in the 1930s and Roosevelt’s reforms and in 1945 of a strong Labour party/government and trade union bloc committed to fundamental reform under the theoretical tutelage of J.M.Keynes’ economic policies and William (Lord) Beveridge’s social policies, which provided a theoretical rationale for this movement, which was to lead to a fundamental changes in both the US 1930s and UK 1940s and Western Europe as a whole.

Alas this epoch is no more, it was swept away by the Thatcher-Reagan counter-revolution of the 1980s. Yet it still remains the blueprint for a more humane and rational society. Europe will I believe be the crucible for this struggle which in fact is already starting.

Game on.

NOTES:-

  • [1] Rentier capitalism refers to the derivation of rent from possession of assets that are scarce or artificially made scarce. Most familiar is rental income from land, property, minerals or financial investments, but other sources have grown too. They include the income lenders gain from debt interest; income from ownership of ‘intellectual property’; capital gains on investments; ‘above normal’ company profits (when a firm has a dominant position); income from subsidies; and income of financial intermediaries derived from third-party transactions.
  • [2] Picketty, p.275
  • [3] Henry George – Progress and Poverty
  • [4] George’s theories made a considerable impression on the newly formed Fabian Society and converted, G.B.Shaw to socialism. Land reform had a long history in England and goes back to the English Civil War 1642-1651 when a militant sect in the Parliamentary New Model Army – ‘the Diggers’ led by Gerrard Winstanley – attempting to farm common land (“levelling” land) and reform the existing social order with an agrarian lifestyle based on their ideas for the creation of small, egalitarian rural communities. Ironically the location of their attempts at land reform – Weybridge and Cobham – are probably two of the most affluent areas of Surrey which is also the highest per capita income county in the UK.
  • [5] “Creating Wealth” through Debt: The West’s Finance-Capitalist Road by Michael Hudson, Wednesday May 2 2018, Peking University 2018
  • [6] Under-consumption theory is based upon the premise that capitalist crises are caused by insufficient aggregate demand, in terms of both investment and consumption. This is, however, a half-truth. What needs explaining is why during an upswing, particularly when it reaches its most febrile levels of expansion aggregate demand disappears. Marx points out that:

    It is sheer tautology to say that crises are caused by the scarcity of effective consumption, or of effective consumers, the capitalist system does not know any other modes of consumption that are not effective…[Such a crisis that is caused by a fall in aggregate demand] are always preceded by precisely a period in which wages rise generally and that the working class gets a greater share of that part of the annual product which is intended by consumption. From the point of view of those advocates of sound and ‘simple’ common sense such a period should rather remove the crisis [rather than precipitate one].”
    Marx – Capital volume 2 p414

    Exactly so. Increasing and unstoppable aggregate demand eventually arrives at the inflexion point when asset prices outpace corporate and individual ability to earn and/or borrow sufficient funds to support such price levels, then the whole upswing of the boom/bust cycle goes into reverse. From the glut of aggregated demand to a scarcity of aggregate demand and the descent into bust.

    This was also a view voiced by Keynes when he spoke of the collapse in the marginal efficiency of capital.

    I suggest that a more typical, and often more predominant, explanation of the crisis is, not primarily due to a rise in the rate of interest, but a sudden collapse in the marginal efficiency of capital.
    The General Theory p315

    This bears comparison with Marx’s theory of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall, and Ricardo’s theory of diminishing marginal returns. All of which attributed causes of capitalism’s to supply-side conditions as well as demand-side factors.

    In the BoE paper, the two economists point out that the rate of return on capital has fallen since the early 1990s, but not by as much as the ‘risk free interest rate’ – so that the cost of borrowing for risky investment has increased by around 100bps. In other words, the cost of borrowing to invest has stayed up while profitability on investment has fallen, squeezing the ‘profitability of enterprise’ and lowering the incentive to invest. The BoE paper refers to the IMF World Economic Outlook April 2014 where the IMF finds that “investment profitability has markedly declined in the aftermath of the global financial crisis, particularly in the euro area the UK and Japan.

    Michael Roberts blog 2015

  • [7] V.I. Lenin. Imperialism, The Highest Stage of Capitalism
  • [8] Piketty, Ibid, p.471

Frank Lee left school at age 15 without any qualifications, but gained degrees from both New College Oxford and the London School of Economics (it's a long story). He spent many years as a lecturer in politics and economics, and in the Civil Service, before retirement. He lives in Sutton with his wife and little dog.

22 Comments

  1. John Giles says

    Much ado about nothing.

    Full employment and wage growth is the issue. This will require bigger deficits and more government jobs.

    Government debt per se is not the issue. It is the distribution of the asset side that is.

  2. John Giles says

    Piketty is a distraction. Outside of the Eurozone taxes don’t pay for anything at sovereign government level.

    Sovereign governments are self funding. They provide, through spending, the money that pays the taxes.

    But getting people to argue about taxes reinforces the illusion of scarce money and it sets up the left to argue an argument that they won’t win.

    Think distribution. Not redistribution.

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  3. Jay-Q says

    Very interesting article. It reminded me of a conversation I saw on the BBC where a small panel were discussing inequality, living wage, out of control rents and house prices (mainly in London). As the capital and rentier classes alike are making a fortune out of the property market. Panel members did discuss Council Tax and the income tax threshold, set at about £11,500 in the UK.

    The ‘elephant in the room’ was VAT but not once did anybody mention it. Why the silence about VAT? Surely the fastest way to liberate tens of billions of Pounds for the poorest in society would be to lower VAT to 5% or 10% rather than the punitive 20% where it is now. The State will still get its ‘share’ of VAT it would just take more transactions to accumulate it. Even if they adjusted the threshold for VAT onto goods over £500 would make a huge difference to the amount of money that the middle class, working class and poor had in the form of disposable income.

    This, for me, is the single most effective and simplest way in which some of our economic woes can be challenged. WHY does nobody talk about it? We are taxed on our income as part of our contribution to the social contract, why then should be we be taxed for a second time when our income is spent?

    Hard to imagine that two elephants can fit into the same room, but another subject never, ever mentioned when talking about the state of affairs in the UK is the huge amount of interest paid on the national debt. Solving the national debt crisis, rather than pretending it does not or that it is somehow essential to our economy, should be the number one priority of any government, unless they should be blamed for contributing to a grand theft from citizens.

    How has VAT become a topic that seems to exist outside of political, social and economic consciousness? All workers should see VAT as a crime against their person, as an abuse against their right to a private life. After all, what does it have to do with a State when a citizen chooses to engage in a transaction with a private business that a fraction of that transaction should go to the State?

  4. If a political solution cannot be found to return the political economy to r = g, then wealth destruction will inevitably occur through revolution and war unless an entirely new form of political economy not reliant on growth can be realized. The real promise of AI may be finding a solution to utilize the world’s resources to provide everyone with a developed lifestyle without destroying the biosphere.

  5. martk delmege says

    I’d argue Fair dinkum it could be Europe or the USofA as both are drowning in problems and you just never know whats around the corner.

  6. Atalanta69 says

    Austen died in 1817 and Balzac in 1850. So in what sense could the period from 1870-1910 be said to be ‘their’ era? This isn’t just a pedantic quibble; an end to sloppy journalism is surely Off-Guardian’s raison-d’etre.

    • Francis Lee says

      I stand corrected, the period in question was 1790-1830. That’s what I like about BTL comments, they have a disciplining effect on contributors.

      • bevin says

        I was about to say, to your critic, that great literature, by its nature has prophetic elements.And that both Jane Austen and, Marx’s favourite, Balzac lay bare the nature of a society as it was being born…
        And that it was not until the 1870-1914 era that that society came to its full fruition, and began to decay…
        And it was then that Balzac and Austen’s insights into its youthful nature became evident to all.
        But I won’t bother, because you wouldn’t.

        • Anna Zimmerman says

          You’re absolutely right to point that out, Bevin. But it should also be considered that Austen and Balzac would both have been absolutely appalled by the Gilded Age, given their shared belief that social privileges should be accompanied by social responsibilities. Austen in particular would have loathed the material excess and decadence of the late 19th century.

          • bevin says

            Appalled but not surprised. Balzac would understand immediately what is going on in France today. Austen would recognise the way that the Poor are being treated in England without any difficulty.

      • Anna Zimmerman says

        That’s very gracious of you to say :). By the way, I should have said that it is a great article in all other respects. I’m even going to use it with my students.

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        • Francis Lee says

          ”I’m going to use it with my students.” Thank You. I’m flattered. It’s one of the reasons people write I suppose. It was no less a personage than George Orwell, in his short essay ”Why I write” listing his reasons for being a writer. 1. Aesthetic enthusiasm, 2. Historical impulse, 3. Political purpose, and not forgetting, 4. Sheer egoism.

    • harry stotle says

      So in what sense could the period from 1870-1910 be said to be ‘their’ era?’ – in the sense ideas and concepts sometimes follow a different trajectory to the lifespan of the person who sctually produced them.

      Take Freud – the cigar chomping psychoanalyst died in 1939 although his theories didn’t really exert much influence on public consciousness until a few decades later, while the economic legacy bequeathed by the Gipper and Thatch’ informed a brand of neoconservativatism that soon evolvied into the toxic form of corporate extremism responsible for so much harm in the world.

      Maybe it was a slip-up by Frank Lee but it still doesn’t alter the fact it was a highly informative piece, especially for economic dunderheads like me.

      • Anna Zimmerman says

        I accept that (see reply to Bevin above). However my argument is really that what occurred towards the end of the 19th century is in many ways the antithesis of the kind of society that Austen, at least, favoured. It is often said that Austen was apolitical, but a careful analysis of her books reveals that this is simply not true. She disapproved of ostentatious display, vulgar social climbing, power exercised without care for the weakest, radical change for its own sake, unmeritricious appointments, and, of course, poor manners and ethics. Her ideal society was one where landowners exercised care and restraint as good custodians of their land and the people thereon. If one is looking for a harbinger of the late 19th century, a novelist like Thackeray would be a better choice…particularly his great novel ‘The Way We Live Now’.

        • bevin says

          Agreed. The idea that Austen was unaware of political matters has always struck me as being bizarre .
          On the other hand there is nothing like ignorance for breeding originality.

  7. mark says

    Good article, Frank.
    As recently as the 1970s, Finance accounted for 2% of the US economy.
    It is now 40%.
    What we have now is crony capitalism writ large, crapitalism. Parasitic finance crapitalism, Banks deliberately driving businesses into bankruptcy (particularly small and medium businesses) and then looting them like vampires and vultures. A poisonous giant vampire squid with its tentacles wrapped around the face of humanity. A looting kleptocracy, with manager CEOs pillaging their own companies to pay themselves telephone number salaries.
    The Goldman Sachs Bankster Elite contribute nothing to the economy or society. They are like poisonous maggots feeding off a body in an advanced state of decay.
    You only have to look at the recent history of banks to make the point. The endless scandals. The sub prime mortgages, the private pensions scandal, the PPI scandal, the MSE loans scandal, to name but a few.
    After 2008, Banksters should have been prohibited by law from having anything further to do with other people’s money, the same way that paedophiles are banned from going near children’s playgrounds. They have inflicted unrecognised misery on humanity. Millions have starved because of their activities. They should have been found other jobs where they could do no harm, like road sweepers or brussels sprouts pickers.
    In 2010, the Tory/ Liberal government doubled the National Debt by 2015, to bail out the banksters. It ballooned from £750 -1,600 billion in 5 years. It has since mushroomed further. It’s as if someone blows all their money on the horses, booze, drugs, and whores and tells you you have to pick up the bill. This pattern has been repeated worldwide. A figure of $23 trillion was given for the cost of the US bailout, but this is only part of the true figure.
    Banking should be a state monopoly, like the armed forces.
    Since 2008, we have had a zombie economy on life support, sustained by tens of trillions in money printing backed up by nothing but pure wind and hot air, giveaway negative interest rates, and austerity and misery for the bulk of humanity.
    The creation of money should be controlled by the state, not left in private hands.
    The system is rotten to the core. A collapse on a scale dwarfing 1929 cannot be avoided. It is only a question of exactly how and when this happens.

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    • John Giles says

      Government debt is private savings.

      Relax.

      • mark says

        So give me £10,000 to spend on the horses.
        Consider it as savings.
        Relax.

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        • Government debt instruments are bougbt with accrued government created currency i.e. private sector savings.
          If you wish to dispute that, do so honestly..

          • vexarb says

            Jag, so the Camoron regime blew 800 billion GBP on debt to Rothschild, then asked private savers to redeem their IOU?

            “I wish I’d blown my money like Chico did — on wine, women and song — instead of investing it wisely”. — Groucho Marx after the Wall Street crash.

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            • No idea of what you are trying to say.

              Your Rothschild fixation is not helpful.

  8. Fair dinkum says

    Europe the crucible for change?
    It certainly won’t be the US.
    Problem being; their addiction to war as an economic driver may douse the crucible before it heats up.

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