We have the first major scientific work on the architecture of global power, and not before time. You can check it out on the New Scientist website. A study by three complex systems theory scientists in Zurich has found that a group of powerful corporations really does control the world.
Those with a taste for the more exotic conspiracy theories on global domination may rue the results: the physicists found the super-entity of 147 companies which controlled almost 40 per cent of all transnational corporations did not entertain an intention to rule the world.
It was just corporations strutting their stuff, being amoral, not immoral. ”The Occupy Wall Street claim, that 1 per cent of people have most of the wealth, reflects a logical phase of the self-organising economy,” one of the scientists said.
The Zurich team studied a database of 37 million companies and investors around the world and selected all 43,060 transnational companies (TNCs) and the ownership structures which linked them.
As you might imagine, working out whether big passive investors such as fund managers exercised control was scientifically perplexing. When it comes to remuneration, they seem to vote with the powers that be!
From the group of TNCs, the physicists modelled operating revenues and shareholdings to map the structure of economic power.
The usual suspects, such as Wall Street banks, were at the top of the “super-core”. Banks proliferated throughout – there was only one manufacturer – and, despite the size and profitability of Australia’s banks, none was in the top tier of global domination.
If broker reports are correct though, and ANZ boss Mike Smith is preying on Macquarie Group, we may have a contender for global hegemony. Don’t bet on this one; Smith might be desirous of Asian expansion, but surely not that much.
Loath to dampen the euphoria of the European bailout – but it would be remiss to ignore the “heroin injecting room” perspective on this deal.
First to the suppliers. The idea is to leverage the rescue fund up to five times. More drugs please! More debt piled on debt.
Next to the junkies. Instead of being told to go cold turkey, get a job and pay some tax, our southern European debt addicts have been invited to wean themselves off the stuff. Here are some fresh supplies and a few cartons of smokes to be going on with. Now go and sort yourselves out while we keep an eye on you!
Oh, and we’d better prop up those dealers. Why not set aside some cash for the banks which pushed the substances in the first place? They can forgive half that lazy Greek fellow’s obligations, but we need to keep him as a customer.
Those skanky Brits have already stolen his Elgin Marbles and he can hardly lug that Parthenon to the pawn shop.
Loath also to stretch a tired line even more tautly but the EFSF (European Financial Stability Fund) – set up last year to provide short-term loans to buy more European debt – does bear some metaphorical resemblance to a pawnbroker who has just had his short-term public-housing lease extended until 2014.
It’s a temporary facility, designed for desperate circumstances and now destined to be geared five times. Here is the pawnbroker lending cash out for ever thinning collateral to a bunch of junkies who are promising to get a job.
What happens if they don’t pay? That’s what the leverage is for, to opiate them more, to maintain the status quo at all costs. Perhaps Australia could make a contribution: send Chopper Read over to Brussels to head up the collections.
We talk in trillions now; billions are so passe. This is a trillion-dollar rescue thanks to the EFSF leverage. The fund is guaranteed to €780 billion ($1045 billion) but has lending capacity of only €440 billion. So far, €9 billion has been disbursed – to Greece, Ireland and Portugal – and €119 billion of the €440 billion has been pledged.
As far as guaranteed funding goes, then there is €320 billion left for loans, bank recapitalisations and bond purchases. The thinking is that if Italy and Spain need to be saved, a cool €1 trillion would be required. Hence the leverage.
And there is another leg to the injecting room strategy, and that is a Special Purpose Investment Vehicle (and there just had to be a SPIV on this block).
It is proposed that the SPIV, although still at somewhat of a conceptual stage, should be funded by private sector and EFSF funds and may be spiced up with some “insurance” for “credit enhancement”.
Wasn’t it the very spivs of structured finance who brought the house down in the first place?
If this is Europe’s TARP, we should be mindful that, three years after Main Street bailed out Wall Street, the bonuses might be back but the jobs are not.
QE3 is mooted to kick off as soon as the Fed props up the sharemarket again, though employment stagnates and there are 40 million people on food stamps.
That the European leaders have prevailed in an historic political agreement to unite and save the euro zone is admirable. This is a region riven by centuries of conflict, the scene of two world wars.
Yet implementation is the greater challenge. And the outcome may well reflect the results of a drug rehabilitation where some addicts pulled themselves together and others simply didn’t make it.
It’s a good start, but no one-way street to fiscal nirvana.