Saturday 19 October 2013

Where Is All The Money Going?

Ever since money was invented and so the ability to move wealth readily from one place to another in various forms of acceptable goods, tokens or titles to goods or tokens the question of who should control this and how has been central to rulers and the ruled.

Some forms are more movable than others.  They might be precious metals or stones or they might be edible domestic animals which have other by-products.  In primitive societies much conflict arises from raiding between groups as well as title to grazing lands.

For someone who grew up during the great age of the cowboy film much of the global financial system is explicable in terms of the Wild West of the USA. These bear a strong similarity to activity of earlier centuries.

Many of the riders and herders were the direct descendants from the medieval cattle thieves and raiders of the Atlantic Isles.  We might recall that in the USA indigenous arable peoples lost out but later the ranchers lost out to the farmers.

As for our modern "capital" expressed in terms of modern  currencies and financial products they have become not just portable but moveable in vast amounts in a digital instant.  A trader who has lunched too well can cause a financial hiccup or crisis at the tap of a key or a touch on the screen.

There are many reasons for capital to move.  Some are the basic ones of investing in projects or activity in other states in an open and fully legal way. Others might be between or involving governments with a political purpose embedded.

Increasingly, there are very large sums moving arising from criminal sources, tax evasion and avoidance.  More worrying are the surges of capital movement arising from the instability or collapse of either political systems or financial systems in one state to another reckoned to be more stable or at least friendly to those moving the money.

An article on this contemporary capital flight uses the term Lethal Liabilities about the human cost of debt and capital flight.  It is concise and its main reference is to The Third World contending that the ability to move wealth easily and at will has allowed extractive and predatory elites to grow very rich at the expense of leaving debts to the very poor.

What the various debates in the USA, Europe and the UK are about in relation to internal financial troubles have at their heart is that the same is happening in their own countries.  It is not just one state preying on another, it is the financial sectors extracting capital internally to move elsewhere.

That this is now intermingled with high leverages and substantial speculation creates huge risks.  Only it is not the movers and holders of the digital money who will lose it is the ordinary people doing ordinary work.  This is happening and it is getting worse by the year.

The picture above is of locusts.  This is not just a comment; it is a warning that too many locusts in some places could trigger a "Black Swan" event that may just be a tipping point for another serious financial crash.

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