Thursday, July 02, 2009

Capitalism's dirty secret

Just why is there so much debt in the Anglo-Saxon world? writes Ben Funnell, an asset manager.

"The answer is capitalism’s dirty little secret: excessive lending was the only way to maintain the living standards of the vast bulk of the population at a time when wealth was being concentrated in the hands of an elite."

He provides more shocking anecdote about just how far things have got out of hand.

"The Walton family, of Wal-Mart fame, is wealthier than the bottom third of the US population put together – about 100m people."

And he asks, reasonably:

"So why has there been no revolution? Because there was a solution: debt. If you couldn’t earn it, you could borrow it. Cheap financing was made widely available."

As we well know, the offshore system has enormously magnified the debt problem, both by driving a coach and horses through the regulatory world, and by providing offshore incentives to load up on debt. And we'd agree with his conclusion:

"We should all come to terms with the fact that these are structural issues needing structural solutions; they need to be enforced over a longer time period than any one government’s term. So we need a new political consensus, one aimed at reducing overall debt levels while reducing inequality by encouraging education, entrepreneurship and investment in innovation."

The long-term consensus has to include a central focus on the gaps in international finance that exist between sovereign states, which is all tied up closely with the offshore system.


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