Paul Lachine

Taming Finance in an Age of Austerity

Finance is supposed to serve the interests of the rest of society, not the other way around. Having gotten the world into its current economic mess, financial markets are now dictating fiscal austerity to countries that have no choice but to go along - and then betting against these countries when they do.

NEW YORK – It was not long ago that we could say, “We are all Keynesians now.” The financial sector and its free-market ideology had brought the world to the brink of ruin. Markets clearly were not self-correcting. Deregulation had proven to be a dismal failure.

The “innovations” unleashed by modern finance did not lead to higher long-term efficiency, faster growth, or more prosperity for all. Instead, they were designed to circumvent accounting standards and to evade and avoid taxes that are required to finance the public investments in infrastructure and technology – like the Internet – that underlie real growth, not the phantom growth promoted by the financial sector.

The financial sector pontificated not only about how to create a dynamic economy, but also about what to do in the event of a recession (which, according to their ideology, could be caused only by a failure of government, not of markets). Whenever an economy enters recession, revenues fall, and expenditures – say, for unemployment benefits – increase. So deficits grow.

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