What would you do with $700 billion?

I can’t get this out of my head.

I know this is simplistic, and I’d never have dreamt making this sort of comparison when I studied Development Economics two decades ago.

But wait a minute, when other, less powerful nations needed bailouts in the past, weren’t these accompanied by stringent conditions? At the same time the rich nations exalted the “invisible hand” of market capitalism, they also attached “conditionalities” to the loans called “structural adjustment programmes“. The poorest suffered the most. The bankers and government ministers did OK.

Of course, I’m not surprised by these double standards. It just leaves a bitter taste in the mouth when at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Gordon Brown advocates a “new global order, founded on transparency, not opacity”.

We do need a new global order. One based on fairness, equality, and justice for all. Not this.

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2 Responses to What would you do with $700 billion?

  1. Nick Booth says:

    Our banking system has behaved like it is teenage, with someone there to bail it out. We have confirmed that belief – and that’s my biggest problem here.

    Poverty has many causes. One thing that helps people rise out of poverty is a reliable way of storing and exchanging the value built up through effort and knowledge. That’s otherwise known as a reliable banking system.

  2. Gerhard Buttner says:

    Interesting comparison (and thanks for that oxfam link): obviously too simplistic as you point out, Steve, but it surely shows something is a bit rotten. It reminds me of how quickly Cancun and the Riviera Maya “recovered” after Wilma with a lot of help to rebuild the tourism industry – especially luxury hotels, yet many of the poorest who lost everything of the little they had – which would be immensely much cheaper too replace – are still waiting.

    One complication: any fairer redistribution work needs to be administrated (VERY NECESSARY – and distributing to millions is much harder work than distributing to a few banks!), and the administrators want to be paid, and want to be paid well, and others want their share of the pie to “smooth the way” (SHOULDN´T BE NECESSARY, BUT A REALITY IN MANY PLACES, that would need to be worked on first – costing even more etc. etc. and those Structural adjustment plans had very harsh yet actually superficial theoretical ways of wanting to solve this – and never did)

    And unfortunately $1.50 a day is also still poverty even in the poorest nations.
    http://www.oxfam.org.uk/applications/blogs/pressoffice/?p=1775
    has more examples of how much $700 billion is in a poverty context.

    But the bottom-line: Cracks are showing everywhere in our increasingly unsustainable economic and environmental global order.

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