Power of the Financial Markets

The Press and the blogsphere have been full of talk of the financial markets over-ruling democracy. Now we’re talking about over-ruling democracy in Europe of all places – and most would see Europe as the global champion of human rights. Some see that is a negative step, for example, Skelton[1].

Others see this as a very much more positive step forward. Altman[2] would be in this camp and his position can be summarised as follows:

(a) Whislt he acknowledges that the short-term effects of markets wielding their sword can be painful, not least in terms of the impact on the individual, the long-term results are ‘often transformative and positive’.

(b) Economic globalisation (particualry the free movement of funds) provided markets with this sword.

(c) The power shift from states to markets is permanent.

Mr Altman is wrong I am afraid. The change is not permanent. The whole system of economic globalisation can be undone.  It may be unthinkable, but it can be undone just as we may see another unthinkable event in the next few weeks, the unbundling of the Euro. The fact is that globalisation has empowered not just financial markets but more importantly the people. Just look to the Arab Spring of 2011 to see examples of that new power in operation.

The real danger is that the financial markets may die by their own sword.

Be under no illusion, capitalism is facing its greatest test and the jury is out considering its verdict. If capitalism fails, there are others waiting to take its place. In the end the people will decide, not the financial markets.

[1] D. Skelton, “Government of the technocrats, by the technocrats, for the technocrats,” New Statesman, 16-Nov-2011. [Online]. Available: http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/the-staggers/2011/11/european-greece-technocrats. [Accessed: 19-Nov-2011].

[2] R. Altman, “We need not fret over omnipotent markets,” FT.com, 01-Dec-2011. [Online]. Available: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/890161ac-1b69-11e1-85f8-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1fHKcTLBn. [Accessed: 02-Dec-2011].

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