Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Financial Weapons of Mass Destruction
There should be no surprise that the banks are in trouble. Bankers were talking about this in 2006.
Bankers Fear World Economic Meltdown
By GABRIEL KOLKO July 26, 2006
There has been a profound and fundamental change in the world economy over the past decade. The very triumph of financial liberalization and deregulation, one of the keystones of the “Washington consensus” that the U.S. government, International Monetary Fund (IMF), and World Bank have persistently and successfully attempted over the past decades to implement, have also produced a deepening crisis that its advocates scarcely expected.
The global financial structure is today far less transparent than ever. There are many fewer reporting demands imposed on those who operate in it. Financial adventurers are constantly creating new “products” that defy both nation-states and international banks. The IMF’s managing director, Rodrigo de Rato, at the end of May 2006 deplored these new risks – risks that the weakness of the U.S. dollar and its mounting trade deficits have magnified greatly.
High-speed Global Economics
The global financial problem that is emerging is tied into an American fiscal and trade deficit that is rising quickly. Since Bush entered office in 2001 he has added over $3 trillion to federal borrowing limits, which are now almost $9 trillion. So long as there is a continued devaluation of the U.S. dollar, banks and financiers will seek to protect their money and risky financial adventures will appear increasingly worthwhile. This is the context, but Washington advocated greater financial liberalization long before the dollar weakened. This conjunction of factors has created infinitely greater risks than the proponents of the “Washington consensus” ever believed possible.
There are now many hedge funds, with which we are familiar, but they now deal in credit derivatives – and numerous other financial instruments that have been invented since then, and markets for credit derivative futures are in the offing. The credit derivative market was almost nonexistent in 2001, grew fairly slowly until 2004 and then went into the stratosphere, reaching $17.3 trillion by the end of 2005.
The rest of the story