The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Finance:
Tottering Heights and the Next Crash

Feb 3, 2020

Translated from Lutte Ouvrière (Workers’ Struggle), the newspaper of the revolutionary workers’ group active in France.

2019 was a banner year for financial markets. But the real economy continues to collapse.

The financial numbers are impressive. The New York Stock Exchange index flew up by nearly a quarter, and the Paris Stock Exchange rose even higher. Shares of luxury group LVMH—owned by the world’s second richest man, Bernard Arnault—shot up 62%.

But these financial gains came while production ran out of steam and even fell. Finance sucked up ever more massive amounts of capital, depriving the real-world economy. But production is the only place where capital creates actual new wealth, thanks to human labor.

And the world’s big central banks continued to open their floodgates, even though they are supposed to regulate the amount of money circulating in the economy. They didn’t give small business people or small farmers access to credit to prevent them from sinking in these times of crisis, though. Finance strangled them through debt, squeezing them like lemons before letting them die. But central bank money did flow endlessly into financial markets. One financial expert admitted, “Central banks gave financial markets an oxygen mask.”

Bankers used this money to speculate, just like betting on the horses. Shares of companies or other financial products rise in value “according to political and economic events, even Donald Trump’s Tweets,” as another financial analyst explained.

Meanwhile, big companies reduced their workforce or closed plants, like the auto companies. Some small subcontractors shut down. The workers are the main victims. Unemployment hits all branches of industry and the services. The only available jobs now are contingent, gig-type jobs.

The French government ignores reality by daring to say there is no money to pay pensions. Meanwhile, financial markets break all their historical records from before the last recession. A new financial crash would be all the more destructive.