Masthead graphic based on a painting by Gudrun Thriemer.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

James Cumes, "The Black Death of financial collapse," Asia Times online, April 10, 2008.

[A former member of the sinking ship's crew--from Australia this time--recommends the lifeboats. He makes frequent use of the term Ponzi. -jlt]

The financial and economic crisis now upon us is by far the most menacing of the past century - even more so than the Great Depression of the 1930s. It is not just a "subprime" crisis; it is systemic - affecting the entire financial system. It is also global, affecting various countries in various ways but affecting them all. In achieving a certain "globalization", we have been uniquely successful in globalizing collapse, chaos and misery. It is a globalization which, in our short-sighted negligence, we never envisaged.


The speculative, Ponzi mania spread especially to Anglo-Saxon countries and to other developed countries in lesser degree. Australia took to "free" markets, "free" trade, free-floating currencies, deregulation, privatization, globalization, derivatives, hedge funds, private equity, wildcat mortgages and leverage-without-limit as a duck to water. Consumerism raged. Industry was gutted. Debts ballooned. The value of the currency fell at home and abroad. Despite low-cost imports, inflation flourished. In 2008, the Australian dollar can perhaps buy as much in real terms as five or 10 cents did in 1969. [In Canada, coffee was a dime in 1973. Refills were free. -jlt]


Will the Rudd government this time listen to the Americans and the likes of US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke? If they do, catastrophic outcomes might not be in short supply.

Our only real hope lies in clear, independent thinking by those not too steeped in the flawed policies responsible for our current crisis. We must see clearly that fundamental, comprehensive financial and economic reform is imperative. We must adapt that fundamental reform to our own needs, as the John Curtin and Ben Chifley governments did between 1941 and 1949. As we did then, we must simultaneously try to guide the international community out of the calamitous course that has evolved since 1969, and return it to the goal of stable, peaceful, global change which, as a primary objective, we pursued between 1945 and 1969.

While we embark on this journey, a high level of political volatility in Canberra is inevitable....

Read the whole =>

James Cumes is a former Australian ambassador to the European Union and Australian representative at the United Nations. He is the author of among other works The Human Mirror: The Narcissistic Imperative in Human Behaviour.

(Copyright 2008 James Cumes.)Recommend this Post

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