The Parasites of Big Finance
Morning after morning, New York City based casino capitalists trade with Greece and the latest rumors from Western Europe on their minds.
What will affluent Germany do to bail out the collapsing, debt-ridden country of Greece? Will France go along with those plans? Will the massive injection of liquidity by the European Central Bank help the banks to behave in ways that help Greece, among other countries? Day after trading day, the U.S.
Why? Greece is a country of just over ten million people with a GDP smaller than that of New Jersey. But because it is closest to the fiscal cliff, financial observers fear a domino effect. If Greece defaults badly, it could pull Portugal, Spain, Ireland and then possibly Italy closer to financial disaster.
And what is the chain that binds Greece to these nations and then to larger countries in the EU and across the Atlantic to the U.S.? It is the deep, interdependency brought about by corporate globalization and its massive financial speculators, piling derivatives such as credit default swaps and other intricate pyramids of bets, on additional bets. These are the banks, hedge funds and other financial entities that pool other peoples’ money into ever-more abstract and complex betting or gambling instruments of parasitic, big finance.
Not that much has changed since the Wall Street collapse of 2008 other than the renewed “Wall Street” belief that you, the taxpayers, will be forced once again by your government to bail out even larger financial giants who are so interlocked as to be “too big to fail.”
Traders making speculative money from speculative money, traded in trillions of dollars, now hold hostage the real economy wherein people make money from providing needed or wanted goods and services. The fate of American workers, their pensions and the real businesses that employ them, rests on the globalized dominoes that a teetering Greece could set in motion. This is the craven logic of a global casino economy, driven by split-second computerized algorithms and camouflaged by the phony theory of “free trade” which is really corporate-managed trade.
The U.S. does not need to be shackled by the global corporatists to what may happen in Greece or Spain or Portugal. We should be less dependent on financial economies abroad and more self-reliant and independent of the global economy’s dangerously contagious risks.
That is why the more community-based economic activity there is in our country – credit unions; renewable, efficient energy; community health clinics; community food markets, etc. – the more insulated we will be from global seismic ravages. Those same community economies would have helped shield the Greek people from the wily clutches of Goldman Sachs and other aggressive casino creditors.
Unfortunately, the intellectually impoverished presidential and Congressional campaigns never propose ways to extricate our country from the octuple straitjackets of global speculators. The two-party political tyranny – Republican and Democratic – is too busy kneeling before the check-writers of imperious corporatists to stand up for the people whose votes they strive to secure.
As U.S. citizens struggle, Wall Street and Washington worry about Greece.
Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, forthcoming from AK Press.