Turning the tables after the virus
Thanks to this crisis, our duty is to rebuild society on a solid basis, as well as making deep reforms to financial markets and getting rid once and for all of their intrinsic ability to cause harm. Because, once again and in quite the same vein, the economic and financial crash that is unfolding in front of our eyes this month of March 2020 is shedding a light on the asymmetry between the happy few who are time after time the beneficiaries of financial gifts, and ordinary men and women who have to struggle to feed their families in this time when their incomes are at risk.
The same goes for this social distancing that has been quite justifiably advocated by our authorities and that, for me, is representative of the very deep fracture in our current society. It is essential to know that financial markets have been practising it – this social distancing – for many years because it’s now been about thirty years that the stock markets – once an indispensable and exuberant place of meeting for bankers, brokers and investors – are now merely calm, meek, stale spaces. Finance is thus ready to live for a long time in the company of the coronavirus, while at the same time 70 million refugees crammed into camps across the globe wait with resignation to get infected.
Finance has basically become a deadweight that is dragging society downwards, an example of which being that infamous company called Boeing that has spent three quarters of its liquidities on buying back its own shares on the stock market, and whose consequent and excessive weakness in a time of deep crisis like today’s becomes a global problem. When the fate of many companies throughout the world is in the hands of megalomaniacs who have greatly privileged financial engineering instead of creating wealth (which is by the way the ultimate goal of finance meant to benefit the collective), the major companies in the world have in these last few years indebted themselves in the way of 13.5 trillion $ to buy back their own shares instead of investing in production facilities and the training of their staff.
In summary, we haven’t learned anything from 2008 and have even worsened our exposure, and exacerbated our risks, so much so that this extreme vulnerability is now infecting even the poorest members of our society. This is why the responses and programmes – while vigorous – that have been announced these last few days by Europe and the United States are barely appropriate because this interventionism does not assuage society’s legitimate preoccupations and worries. I dare to be the spokesman of an overwhelming majority of “ordinary” citizens by affirming that we will accept suffering this acute and unprecedented crisis (once again!) on the sole condition that our system’s structural and substantive vices are immediately put right.
May the statesmen and women who have enough moral fibre to reject the economy and finance continuing to reign as supreme leaders, while society is bound to follow them with servility, come out of the shadows. The economic catastrophe that is lying in unavoidable wait for us is making us ask the right questions, and is making demands for a deep cleansing. May this virus be thanked for it, and win the Nobel prize for economics, if it causes us all to mobilise.