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What is to be Done with the Banks? Radical Proposals for Radical Changes

from the Committee for the Abolition of Third World Debt
April 17, 2016

Nine years after the outbreak of the financial crisis that continues to produce damaging social effects through the austerity policies imposed on victim populations, it’s time to take another look at the commitments that were made at that time by bankers, financiers, politicians, and regulatory bodies. Those four players have failed fundamentally in the promises they made in the wake of the crisis: to moralise the banking system, separate commercial banks from investment banks, end exorbitant salaries and bonuses, and finally finance the real economy. We didn’t believe those promises at the time, and for good reason. Instead of a moralising of the banking system, all we’ve had is a long list of misappropriations that have been brought to light by a series of bank failures, beginning with that of Lehman Brothers in 15 September, 2008.

No measures designed to avoid further crises have been imposed on the private finance system. Governments and the various authorities meant to ensure that the regulations are respected and improved have either shelved or significantly attenuated the paltry measures announced in 2008-2009. The concentration of banks has remained unchanged, as have their high-risk activities. There have been more scandals implicating the fifteen to twenty biggest private banks in Europe and the United States— involving toxic loans, fraudulent mortgage credits, manipulation of currency exchange markets, of interest rates (notably, the LIBOR) and of energy markets, massive tax evasion, money-laundering for organised crime, and so on. The scandal of the Panama papers shows how banks are using the tax heavens...

The New Free Trade Agreements (TPP, TTIP AND TISA), Aren't A Solution: They're Another Problem

from the Fourth International
April 6, 2016

Surreptitiously--like bandits who prey on their victim--and undemocratically, the elite which owns finance and the multinationals is driving the implementation of new “Free Trade Agreements”: the Trans-Pacific Partnership, (TPP); the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP); and the Trade in Services Agreement (TSA).

As on previous occasions--when the treaties that gave birth to the European Union or the North American Free Trade Agreement were imposed--the dominant classes present these initiatives as magic formulas to “eliminate poverty and increase wealth and prosperity." The balance sheets of the latter leave no doubt about what awaits those who are seduced by this siren song: new rules that will allow the multinationals to violate the legality and sovereignty of each nation where they are present; “private” courts to settle conflicts between companies and states; the privatization and commodification of public services that are still in the hands of the state (education, health, transport, water, and so on); telecommunications regulation to eliminate freedom of expression in social networks; dismantling of peasant and familial agriculture, expansion of monoculture and genetically modified food and insecticides; prioritizing greed over environmental protection laws; still more degradation of the living and working conditions of people in the city and the countryside; and the provocation of new migratory waves.

Assessing the Paris COP and Building on the Outcome

by Alan Thornett
February 5, 2016

The COP21 in Le Bourget Paris in December 2015 adopted an agreement on global warming and climate change, which was signed by all 195 participating countries... It is the first comprehensive agreement after 21 years of meetings and conferences conducted under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The 1997 Kyoto Protocol applied to just a few countries and was sabotaged by the USA and others. Copenhagen in 2009 broke up in acrimony and emissions were allowed to let rip without any international restriction, legal or political. Much of the media was euphoric about the deal. The governments that signed it hailed it as a great victory: as an historic breakthrough that has delivered a framework for the avoidance of catastrophic climate change.

This is clearly not the case. The deal as it stands is totally (catastrophically) inadequate when set against the scale of the task. There is no doubt about that. It would be wrong, however, in my view, to dismiss it as simply a failure, as if nothing positive was achieved. The issue post-Paris is not just whether the deal reached can resolve the issue of climate change (clearly not), but whether there were gains made that can strengthen the struggle against it. Whether gains were made that can improve the terrain on which the struggle takes place. The deal, from this point of view, is deeply contradictory...

April 17, 2016
from the Committee for the Abolition of Third World Debt
Nine years after the outbreak of the financial crisis that continues to produce damaging social effects through the austerity policies imposed on victim populations, it’s time to take another look...
April 6, 2016
from the Fourth International
Surreptitiously--like bandits who prey on their victim--and undemocratically, the elite which owns finance and the multinationals is driving the implementation of new “Free Trade Agreements”: the...
February 5, 2016
by Alan Thornett
The COP21 in Le Bourget Paris in December 2015 adopted an agreement on global warming and climate change, which was signed by all 195 participating countries... It is the first comprehensive agreement...

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