Friday, May 14, 2010

Banking & Finance: The Tide Turns...

For a long now it had been assumed in the English-language media that the word "world" was a synonym for the so-called Western-democracies. As mentioned in a previous note, it had become so commonplace to refer to all the other regions in the world with reference to this self-proclaimed "center" that it seems difficult to imagine that the Middle East, East and Far East could also have an opposite, Asia-centric reference.

When the bully-pair of Uncle Sam and his poodle needed an excuse for taking over the oil-fields of Iraq, they declared that "the world would not tolerate WMDs in the hands of a tyrant like Saddam Hussain".

For decades now it was assumed that this "world" had all the right answers to problems being faced by the rest of humanity. Institutions created under the Bretton Woods Agreement - IMF, World Bank and the UN - would coax, nudge and bully countries into making Structural Reforms which would speedily 'privatize and liberalize' their basic institutions - banking & finance, health-care, education, public utilities. It was, of course, an unmitigated disaster for many poor countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. A group of countries that acted contrary to the IMF & WB  "reforms" were to be feted later as Asian Tigers who emerged from the East Asian Miracle!

More recently, When the sub-prime mortgage crisis in USA unraveled the banking and financial system in USA and Europe, financial papers kept referring to it as the "Global Economic Meltdown" until a little bird pointed out that absolutely no crisis - let alone a meltdown - in the Emerging Markets.

The latest Economist now points out that the banking and finance sector from these markets have moved from the bantam-weight to the heavyweight category. China's two largest banks are also the largest in the world; Companies from Russia, Brazil and India are fast closing in on the largest Western financial firms; demand for credit is growing much faster than GDP; domestic savings is driving investments..."these counties were all on a journey where the ultimate goal was a fully privatized system that looked like banking in America or Europe. The crisis has changed everything governments are playing a proactive role to ensure that money keeps flowing into the economy"...

The tide is slowly turning...and I'm lovin' it!


* The Economist, May 2010: Special Report - Banking in Emerging Markets

* Democracy Now, April 1, 2009: Noam Chomsky on the Global Economic Crisis 

Chomsky explains the double-standards quite nicely - 
It is striking to see the difference between the advise that the Westerners are following and compare it with the instructions being given to the third world -

1. First pay off your debts (to us)
2. Privatize (so that we can pick up your assets on the cheap)
3. Raise interest rates (to slow down the economy)
4. Let the population suffer (to pay us back)

The USA does just the opposite...we lectured the third-world on free-trade and we choose to nationalize (the too-big-to-fail principle). It nothing but protectionism. Here is the instructions for you, the poor people, and here are the policies for us - the rich people.

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