The bankers of the round table


There is no way that one person can rule the world, is there? It would take an absurd amount of comic book supervillain money. But at COP26 earlier this year, former Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said: “Hold my beer. ”

Welcome to the third entry in the “How Much Could a Banana Republic” series, where we use this question to help determine who and what is ruling the world. The first post set up our candidates: Big Guns (armies, militias and mafias), Big Graphs (technocrats and knowledge companies) and Big Green (investors, companies or individual plutocrats). The second explained why our formal politicians are not necessarily the only ones in charge using the example of the United Fruit Company’s de facto rule in Guatemala.

The third article was our first foray into all three theories, trying a “Monopoly” version of the Big Green approach. If this view is correct, then there are certainly rulers of particular pieces of the world like squares in a game of Monopoly, even though no one controls the entire board. Owning a small charter town or some other small part of the world might only cost you $ 40,000,000, a number much lower than the United Fruit Company attributed to the true historic Banana Republic of Guatemala: $ 202,014,343.21 in 2021 dollars.

But you might think Big Green is the right story about who’s running the world while also thinking there is something wrong with the Monopoly model. The approach to squares on a game board can be a bit too neat and tidy. After all, we live in a globalized and highly connected world, not a world of perfectly separable parts that have nothing to do with each other. The connections between and across different parts of the world determine what even local overlords can get away with. Guatemala’s elected government discovered this the hard way when it tried to challenge the United Fruit Company and its imperial backing in the form of the US federal government and its CIA. Future owners from different parts of the world party together– why wouldn’t we think they are plotting together? If they do, and if the richer plotters can effectively decide which other plots are likely to succeed or fail, then the ruling class monopoly theory might overestimate the separation of the various “boxes” on the game board. global game.

Let us call this different interpretation the “round table” theory. In the Round Table version of the Big Green theory, the world is under the control of a few wealthy or well-placed organizations who actively coordinate their efforts despite occasional conflict or rivalry, such as the legendary King Arthur. Round table of yesteryear.

Some of you may be thinking that this is already starting to sound like some of the craziest conspiracy theories that postulate an obscure group of secret elites, of the recent past. QAnon long-standing phenomenon Illuminati idea and it’s more anti-semite the cousins.

But it should be noted that secret storylines don’t have to be a big part of our theory at all. Over the centuries, the powers that be have tended to be less than timid in many aspects of their world domination. The Bretton Woods conference that designed the great institutions of today’s international system around the goals and interests of the richest countries in the world happened in a hotel in New Hampshire, not in an underground bunker.

IIf you wanted to find a roundtable of callers, you could do a lot worse than the banks. Even private banks have long played a central role in world politics. Senator Robert Taft bitterly described the political interest of the big banks in 1952 after losing the Republican presidential nomination to Eisenhower: “Every Republican presidential candidate since 1936 has been nominated by the Chase National Bank. The Haitian revolution abolished slavery and won national independence from France at a high price: France extorted the new country of Haiti for 150 million francs in 1825. Almost a century later, Haiti’s debt was pay again has been acquired by New York-based Citibank in 1921. This is just one episode of private banks and their “black finance” wielding power over entire governments at that time, as historian Peter Hudson recounts in the well titled book Bankers and the Empire: How Wall Street Colonized the Caribbean. And not much has changed since: Citigroup (which owns Citibank) was revealed by Wikileaks in 2008 as having essentially selected President Obama’s cabinet.

The political relevance of central banks is somewhat more evident. Central banks can affect the amount of money flowing in society and the behavior of commercial banks, both of which have implications for who can find work and who can afford goods.

But don’t sleep on asset managers. Since the 2008 financial crisis, asset management companies have exploded so much that the the top two asset management companies alone control nearly $ 20 trillion in assets – for scale, this value is roughly the size of the the whole American economy in 2017. It is this magnitude that gives managers like Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock, the world’s largest asset management company, “a voice in the international effort to combat global warming. “Larry Fink. Benjamin Braun and Adrienne Buller describe” asset manager capitalism “as a model that operates on a” socialize risk, privatize reward “model: forcefully arming governments to put in place public funds as guarantors of private investments.

Mark Carney kind of pulled Excalibur out of the rock and created a global capital roundtable involving both banks and asset management companies at COP26 this year. They are called the “Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net-Zero. “The banks, asset managers and companies at the Glasgow Round Table are a gargantuan 130 trillion dollars of assets under management – more than a quarter of combined wealth on planet Earth.

Larry Fink of BlackRock called climate change a “business opportunity” because addressing it requires “virtually every segment of the industry needs to be reinvented.” But the structure of industry is the structure of production: the processes which decide which material needs are to be satisfied, the working conditions of those whose labor meets those needs. Combined with the fact that we are also deciding who will have a lot of green in the future, you have a fundamental overhaul of our entire social and political system, not just our industries. And Braun and Buller give us a glimpse of how Fink and the Roundtable asset managers might vote for this overhaul: to let investors “bet on the shape of the future economy while presenting themselves as the best equipped.” to mitigate climate risk ”.

Who will be in charge of the new world that we must build in response to the climate crisis, at this rate? If you side with academics like Ann Pettifor, you can see the exit possibilities of a Big Green future: renationalise pensions, put “parallel bank”Under regulatory control, and generally find ways for public institutions to discipline capital.

But if you buy the Roundtable version of The Big Green Theory, then the smart money is on the Knights of Glasgow – and around $ 130,000,000,000,000. Don’t take it from me; take it from the U.S. National Climate Advisor, who admits that “the question will not be whether the private sector will join; the private sector will lead it. And if they’re pointing it towards what’s good for asset prices rather than vulnerable communities, well, you can’t say the roundtable theory hasn’t warned you.

About Virginia Ahn

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