25 January 2010

Financial Services: From Servant to Lord of the Economy

Here is an interesting chart that shows the ascendancy of the financial sector in the US.

Commercial banking is largely an administrative function, with a few highly paid decision makers, and many lower paid functionaries and clerks that make a decent if unspectacular wage commensurate with a utility function.

Starting with the Reagan privatization revolution, the finance sector began to grow in importance, moving from a utility serving the capital distribution and storage needs of the real economy taking a relatively small percentage of real output, to a dominant force in the national decision making process, controlling the allocation of capital through its powerful influence and lobbying in Washington, placement of its supporters in political positions of power, and the consolidation of the mainstream media into an oligopoly of four or five major corporations.

Now we have a financial sector dominated by a relatively few number of multinational corporations that are certainly not utilities serving the productive economy. In reality the big multinational banks have become hedge funds speculating in a broad range of markets, often in competition if not contrary to the interests of their customers, relying on other people's money for capital to sustain an outsized leverage and a steady stream of rents and speculative winnings, and to cushion any losses in the event of the occasional market downturns.

And if we do not give the banks their demands, if we do not maintain the status quo, then they threaten that they cannot protect the world from financial ruin and a collapse of the money system, which they themselves control. And this is no mere extortion, no corruption of a single party or person, but the foundation of an enduring modern tyranny.

“Single acts of tyranny may be ascribed to the accidental opinion of a day; but a series of oppressions, begun at a distinguished period and pursued unalterably through every change of ministers, too plainly prove a deliberate, systematic plan of reducing a people to slavery." Thomas Jefferson