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The Structural Crisis of the Financial System

by Attac Switzerland Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2009 at 6:32 PM

"Introduction of taxation on speculative financial transactions must go along with a genuine nationalization that involves a change of the actual banking system into a public system and fixes the role of money as a neutral means of exchange for services."


By Attac Switzerland

[This press release on the crisis issued 10/21/2008 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web,]

On October 16, 2008 the Bundesrat, the Swiss national bank and the bank commission announced a bailout plan of over 60 billion Swiss franks for the UBS Swiss bank. Without democratic acceptance of this plan – by employees who regularly pay their taxes -, the Bundesrat socializes the losses of a private business that lost its money through financial speculation. Even the Tribune de Geneva, a Swiss daily that cannot be regarded as leftist, described this plan as “socialization of losses and privatization of profits.”

This so-called “financial” crisis represents a structural crisis of the capitalist system, the exploitation of the dominated by the rulers and the latter’s use of political power. This is increasingly clear. The bailout of the big banks, the purchase of worthless assets and the so-called regulation of the financial world – all this only benefits the interests of the dominant classes to the disadvantage of employees. Measures that improve the living conditions of people to overcome the crisis must be the priority.

Attac Switzerland calls for mobilization of unions, left parties, organizations, associations and citizen movements so the following points can be implemented at once:

a) Overcoming the crisis through regulations of the financial world and thus rescuing thousands of jobs is illusory. The real economy is gravely endangered. The origin of the sub-prime crisis is an unequal distribution of social wealth. A massive increase of wages through a sufficiently high minimum wage and a strong participation of paid laborers are indispensable measures for countering the inequalities. A union campaign for a minimum wage could be a beginning.

b) The UBS (mammoth Swiss bank) shows how the state lends money to the ruling class to bailout its banks and distribute from bottom to top. Instead the state should tax the high salaries, assets, corporations and dividends to facilitate a correct distribution from top to bottom and so end the hegemony of financial capital.

c) The first demand in the founding of Attac was introduction of the Tobin tax, taxation of speculative financial transactions. For this historical goal, control of all speculative transactions by taxation and a prohibition on leveraging and all financial instruments that do not serve the real economy and stock options are necessary.

d) Today nationalization of banks is discussed. But only a minimum participation of states in private banks occurs. Who ensures that banks are not seeking new speculative investments with the public money given them? Introduction of taxation on speculative financial transactions must go along with a genuine nationalization that involves a change of the actual banking system into a public system and fixes the role of money as a neutral means of exchange for services. This means a separation of investment- and credit-banks, public control of the credit system and orientation in the needs of the community and in small- and medium-sized businesses.

e) The future of their pensions is a burning worry of paid laborers. The 60 billion francs are more than the sum total of all pensions (old age insurance and estate/bequest insurance and the second pillar, work provisions) that is paid every year. Private pension funds are affected by the intense fluctuations of the financial world. The parliament has already resolved lower conversion rates (from 7.05% to 6.8%) and also lower minimum rates (from 4% in 2003 to 2% up to 2011). It is high time to dismantle the very unstable second pillar exposed to financial fluctuations and create a uniform pension (AHV) that is controlled by the collectivity. The lowest pension of AHV could be raised to 3000 francs and a subsistence level secured.

These social-political interventions are only a beginning for overcoming the current crisis – but they are a beginning that covers the indispensable elements enabling us to take charge of our own future.


“The Genesis of the Financial Crisis: Greed and Repression”

“From Real Estate Speculation to the Collapse of the Global Deficit Economy”

“The Financial Crisis in the 20:80 Society”

“Marx and the Credit Crunch”

“A Trillion Dollar Recovery” (and transcript of President-elect Obama’s address on the crisis)

“Obamanomics: Why the Stimulus Plan Will Not Revive the Economy”

“Beyond Rubinomics”

“Economic Meltdown Funnies”

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