Posts Tagged ‘Economics’

A huge swathe of Trump’s voter base are non college educated blue collar workers who he’s enticed and inveigled into his right wing ideology because they have the same limited understanding of political machinations as their new messiah has.
It’s not a personal triumph to vote for a failed (4 times bankrupted) businessman and reality TV Celeb to laud over you, but simply a sign of your lack of education and how you’ve bought into the cult of personality.
It would be a false syllogism to say ‘all republicans are morons; he’s a republican therefore he must be a moron’ this is a fallacy, as I’m sure there must be some republicans out there that are decent, it’s just I’ve yet to meet any.
Tragically, many of his fans don’t have a great deal of education and feel he’s offering them hope to make something out of their pathetic lives but the sad reality is they’re still going to be bottom of the heap whichever demagogue is preaching politics of division at them.
In the meantime, Trump has signed multiple Executive Orders that will have dire consequences for the World’s climate and the environment for many decades to come.
This is a kleptocracy, a Kakistocracy on steroids, and has to be fought every step of the way!
This demagogue is in position as an environmental terrorist who will instigate a deliberate Ecocide to ruin the Earth for generations to come!
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Author| John Perkins wrote Confession of an Economic Hitman. Here he covers the history of Globalisation from WWII to present day.

It’s a very familiar story. But a question it answers is; Does it really matter who America elected as their President when the country is an Empire to Corporatocracy?

Keep in mind that although the next president will be important symbolically, it’s essential to recognise that this is just a charade as the President is beholding to the Corporatocracy.


Does The Next President Matter?

As I travel around the country discussing my new book The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man  and meeting with people from all walks of life, I hear a great deal of discouragement over the U.S. presidential election. So I try to encourage people to look at the positive side and see what wecan affect. Here are a couple of key points:

1) The extreme divergence between the left and the right indicates that a huge segment of our population is very dissatisfied with the current system. I call this the Death Economy, one based on wars, fear, debt and the destruction of our Earth’s resources. This unsustainable economy is failing us on a global level.

2) Although the next president will be important symbolically, it’s essential to recognize that his or her powers are very limited. For example, we used to think that one of the most influential things the president could do was to appoint U.S. Supreme Court justices. Even that is in serious question now as many Republicans say they will not even consider an Obama nominee.

All of us must understand that we the people have the real power. Governmental systems, including most of our elected officials, are controlled by the global corporations who finance their campaigns and offer them lucrative consulting jobs if they lose or decide not to run for office. However, these global corporations are dependent on us, you and me, to buy their goods and services, invest in them, and support them through our tax dollars and government policies. So, during this election year, please commit to taking action, regardless of who is elected.

For more on our government systems and specific ideas on how you can act now, read my recent blog posts “Vote and Then Act in Favor of Democracy”and “Take Action in the New Year.

What you and I do every single day counts. There is a perceived reality that this Death Economy is the only reality. The truth is that revolutions have always occurred when people alter their perceived reality. In the 1770s, there was a perceived reality that the British army was invincible. When people changed that reality and understood that the British could be defeated by American farmers and hunters who stood behind trees and fired at the ridged lines of British troops, everything changed.

We are at one of those moments today. We are faced with a serious crisis as the rhetoric gets worse and political parties seem irrelevant. You and I need to understand the power that we have—each of us as individuals and as a community. So yes, vote in this next election but also realize that no matter who is elected, we must do our part every single day. We must convince the corporations that depend on us to move from a Death Economy based on fear, doubt, and the destruction of resources to a Life Economy based on regenerating destroyed environments, cleaning up pollution, and alleviating the causes of desperation and terrorism.

It isn’t so much about who next sits in the Oval Office or even changing the mechanics of economics. It is about changing the ideas, the dogmas that currently drive politics and economics: debt and fear, insufficiency, divide and conquer. It is about moving from ideas about merely being sustainable to ones that include regenerating areas devastated by agriculture, mining, and other destructive activities. It is about We the People taking control. It is about a revolution in consciousness and actions. It is about making the transition from a Death Economy to a Life Economy.

A turning point in the American revolution occurred when Thomas Paine helped change the perceived reality by writing, “If there must be trouble, let it be in my day that my child may have peace.”

This is another time of crisis, a time to follow Paine’s advice. It is a time to own up to our power and not expect the president or any other politician to change the world for us. It is a time for us to act in ways that will assure peace for our children.

About John Perkins

John is a founder and board member of Dream Change & The Pachamama Alliance, non-profit organizations devoted to establishing a world future generations will want to inherit & the author of the NY Times bestseller, Confessions Of An Economic Hitman.

 

One you doesn’t need to be a Professor to realise that we’re in deep sh*t. But if you ever needed it explained just “How Deep”,  Prof. Steve Keen is the guy to do it. Empirical data trumps theories built on sand any day, however, the economies of the western world are based on a failed neoclassical model, and the ideology of austerity is a busted flush!

 

Prof. Steve Keen – Published on Sep 23, 2016

Some papers that are remarkably critical of mainstream economics have been published recently, not by the usual suspects like myself, but by prominent mainstream economists:
ex-Minneapolis Fed Chairman Narayana Kocherlokata,
ex-IMF Chief Economist Olivier Blanchard, and
current World Bank Chief Economist Paul Romer.

I discuss these papers in a tongue-in-cheek introduction to another key problems of unrealism in economics — the absence of any role for energy in both Post Keynesian and Neoclassical production functions.

I also address Olivier Blanchard’s desire for a “widely accepted analytical macroeconomic core”, explain the role of credit in aggregate demand and income, and identify the countries most likely to face a credit crunch in the near future.

I gave this talk to staff and students of the EPOG program at the University of Paris 13 on Friday September 23rd.

5 years ago spoke at Occupy Sydney. The day before terrorists attacked the Occupy Protestors.


The Modern Debt Jubilee

Bill Buckler, author of The Privateer http://www.zerohedge.com/news/modern-debt-jubilee 

The modern “debt jubilee” is characterised as “quantitative easing for the public”.

It has been boiled down to a procedure where the central bank does not create new money by buying the sovereign debt of the government.

Instead, it takes an arbitrary number, writes a cheque for that number, and deposits it in the bank account of every individual in the nation.
Debtors must use the newly-created money to pay down or pay off debt.
Those who are not in debt can use it as a free windfall to spend or “invest” as they see fit.
This, it is said, is the only way left to restart economic “growth” and finally get the spectre of unending financial crisis out of the headlines.
It is the latest of a long string of “print to cover” remedies.

The major selling feature of this “method” is that it provides the only sure means out of what is called the global “deleveraging trap”.
This is the trap which is said to have ensnared Japan more than two decades ago and which has now snapped shut on the whole world.

And what is a “deleveraging trap”?
It is simply the obligation assumed when one becomes a debtor.
This is the necessity to repay the debt.

There are only three ways in which a debt can be honestly repaid.

  • It can be repaid with new wealth which the proceeds of the debt made it possible to create.
  • It can be repaid by an excess of production over consumption on the part of the debtor.
  • Or it can be repaid from already existing savings.

If none of those methods are feasible, the debt cannot be repaid.
It can be defaulted upon or the means of “payment” can be created out of thin air, but that does not “solve” the problem, it merely makes it worse.

The “deleveraging trap”, so called, is merely a rebellion against the fact that you can’t have your cake and eat it too. So is the genesis of the entire GFC.

Debt can always be extinguished by means of an arbitrarily created means of payment. But calling that process QE or a Debt Jubilee doesn’t (or shouldn’t) mask its essence, which is simple and straightforward debt repudiation.

(A “debt jubilee” is the latest attempt to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. It is the latest pretence that we CAN print our way to prosperity, but only if we do it in the “right” way.)


Glossary of economic terms: http://www.zerohedge.com/taxonomy_vtn/voc/3


A superb piece from George Monbiot, covering a lot of ground about a system that some people are not even aware exists. It is important that people start to wake up to the this. We are sleep walking our way towards disaster, be it climate change, economic and social collapse or catastrophic war.


Neoliberalism – the ideology at the root of all our problems

Financial meltdown, environmental disaster and even the rise of Donald Trump – neoliberalism has played its part in them all. Why has the left failed to come up with an alternative?

Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher at the White House.

 

Imagine if the people of the Soviet Union had never heard of communism.

The ideology that dominates our lives has, for most of us, has no name.
Mention it in conversation and you’ll be rewarded with a shrug.
Even if your listeners have heard the term before, they will struggle to define it.

Neoliberalism: do you know what it is?
Its anonymity is both a symptom and cause of its power. It has played a major role in a remarkable variety of crises:
the financial meltdown of 2007‑8,
the offshoring of wealth and power, of which the Panama Papers offer us merely a glimpse,
the slow collapse of public health and education,
resurgent child poverty,
the epidemic of loneliness,
the collapse of ecosystems,
the rise of Donald Trump.

But we respond to these crises as if they emerge in isolation, apparently unaware that they have all been either catalysed or exacerbated by the same coherent philosophy; a philosophy that has – or had – a name.

What greater power can there be than to operate namelessly?

So pervasive has neoliberalism become that we seldom even recognise it as an ideology. We appear to accept the proposition that this utopian, millenarian faith describes a neutral force; a kind of biological law, like Darwin’s theory of evolution. But the philosophy arose as a conscious attempt to reshape human life and shift the locus of power.

Neoliberalism sees competition as the defining characteristic of human relations. It redefines citizens as consumers, whose democratic choices are best exercised by buying and selling, a process that rewards merit and punishes inefficiency. It maintains that “the market” delivers benefits that could never be achieved by planning.

Attempts to limit competition are treated as inimical to liberty. Tax and regulation should be minimised, public services should be privatised. The organisation of labour and collective bargaining by trade unions are portrayed as market distortions that impede the formation of a natural hierarchy of winners and losers.
Inequality is recast as virtuous: a reward for utility and a generator of wealth, which trickles down to enrich everyone.
Efforts to create a more equal society are both counterproductive and morally corrosive. The market ensures that everyone gets what they deserve.

We internalise and reproduce its creeds. The rich persuade themselves that they acquired their wealth through merit, ignoring the advantages – such as education, inheritance and class – that may have helped to secure it.

The poor begin to blame themselves for their failures, even when they can do little to change their circumstances.

  • Never mind structural unemployment: if you don’t have a job it’s because you are unenterprising.
  • Never mind the impossible costs of housing: if your credit card is maxed out, you’re feckless and improvident.
  • Never mind that your children no longer have a school playing field: if they get fat, it’s your fault.

In a world governed by competition, those who fall behind become defined and self-defined as losers. Among the results, as Paul Verhaeghe documents in his book What About Me? are epidemics of self-harm, eating disorders, depression, loneliness, performance anxiety and social phobia.

Perhaps it’s unsurprising that Britain, in which neoliberal ideology has been most rigorously applied, is the loneliness capital of Europe. We are all neoliberals now.

The term neoliberalism was coined at a meeting in Paris in 1938.

Among the delegates were two men who came to define the ideology, Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek. Both exiles from Austria, they saw social democracy, exemplified by Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal and the gradual development of Britain’s welfare state, as manifestations of a collectivism that occupied the same spectrum as nazism and communism.

In The Road to Serfdom, published in 1944, Hayek argued that government planning, by crushing individualism, would lead inexorably to totalitarian control.
Like Mises’s book Bureaucracy, The Road to Serfdom was widely read. It came to the attention of some very wealthy people, who saw in the philosophy an opportunity to free themselves from regulation and tax. When, in 1947, Hayek founded the first organisation that would spread the doctrine of neoliberalism – the Mont Pelerin Society – it was supported financially by millionaires and their foundations.

With their help, he began to create what Daniel Stedman Jones describes in Masters of the Universe as “a kind of neoliberal international”: a transatlantic network of academics, businessmen, journalists and activists.

The movement’s rich backers funded a series of thinktanks which would refine and promote the ideology. Among them were the American Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute, the Institute of Economic Affairs, the Centre for Policy Studies and the Adam Smith Institute. They also financed academic positions and departments, particularly at the universities of Chicago and Virginia.

As it evolved, neoliberalism became more strident. Hayek’s view that governments should regulate competition to prevent monopolies from forming gave way – among American apostles such as Milton Friedman – to the belief that monopoly power could be seen as a reward for efficiency.

Something else happened during this transition: the movement lost its name. In 1951, Friedman was happy to describe himself as a neoliberal. But soon after that, the term began to disappear. Stranger still, even as the ideology became crisper and the movement more coherent, the lost name was not replaced by any common alternative.

At first, despite its lavish funding, neoliberalism remained at the margins. The postwar consensus was almost universal: John Maynard Keynes’s economic prescriptions were widely applied, full employment and the relief of poverty were common goals in the US and much of western Europe, top rates of tax were high and governments sought social outcomes without embarrassment, developing new public services and safety nets.

But in the 1970s, when Keynesian policies began to fall apart and economic crises struck on both sides of the Atlantic, neoliberal ideas began to enter the mainstream. As Friedman remarked, “when the time came that you had to change … there was an alternative ready there to be picked up”.
With the help of sympathetic journalists and political advisers, elements of neoliberalism, especially its prescriptions for monetary policy, were adopted by Jimmy Carter’s administration in the US and Jim Callaghan’s government in Britain.

After Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan took power, the rest of the package soon followed:
massive tax cuts for the rich,
the crushing of trade unions,
deregulation,
privatisation,
outsourcing and
competition in public services.
Through the IMF, the World Bank, the Maastricht treaty and the World Trade Organisation, neoliberal policies were imposed – often without democratic consent – on much of the world.

Most remarkable was its adoption among parties that once belonged to the left: Labour and the Democrats, for example. As Stedman Jones notes, “it is hard to think of another utopia to have been as fully realised.”

It may seem strange that a doctrine promising choice and freedom should have been promoted with the slogan “there is no alternative”.
But, as Hayek remarked on a visit to Pinochet’s Chile – one of the first nations in which the programme was comprehensively applied –

“my personal preference leans toward a liberal dictatorship rather than toward a democratic government devoid of liberalism”.

The freedom that neoliberalism offers, which sounds so beguiling when expressed in general terms, turns out to mean freedom for the pike, not for the minnows.

Freedom from trade unions and collective bargaining means;
the freedom to suppress wages.
Freedom from regulation means the freedom to poison rivers,
endanger workers,
charge iniquitous rates of interest and
design exotic financial instruments.
Freedom from tax means freedom from the distribution of wealth that lifts people out of poverty.

As Naomi Klein documents in The Shock Doctrine, neoliberal theorists advocated the use of crises to impose unpopular policies while people were distracted: for example, in the aftermath of Pinochet’s coup, the Iraq war and Hurricane Katrina, which Friedman described as; “an opportunity to radically reform the educational system” in New Orleans.

Where neoliberal policies cannot be imposed domestically, they are imposed internationally, through trade treaties incorporating “investor-state dispute settlement”: offshore tribunals in which corporations can press for the removal of social and environmental protections.

When parliaments have voted to restrict sales of cigarettes, protect water supplies from mining companies, freeze energy bills or prevent pharmaceutical firms from ripping off the state, corporations have sued, often successfully. Democracy is reduced to theatre.

Another paradox of neoliberalism is that universal competition relies upon universal quantification and comparison. The result is that workers, job-seekers and public services of every kind are subject to a pettifogging, stifling regime of assessment and monitoring, designed to identify the winners and punish the losers.
The doctrine that Von Mises proposed would free us from the bureaucratic nightmare of central planning has instead created one.

Neoliberalism was not conceived as a self-serving racket, but it rapidly became one. Economic growth has been markedly slower in the neoliberal era (since 1980 in Britain and the US) than it was in the preceding decades; but not for the very rich.
Inequality in the distribution of both income and wealth, after 60 years of decline, rose rapidly in this era, due to the smashing of trade unions, tax reductions, rising rents, privatisation and deregulation.

The privatisation or marketisation of public services such as energy, water, trains, health, education, roads and prisons has enabled corporations to set up tollbooths in front of essential assets and charge rent, either to citizens or to government, for their use. Rent is another term for unearned income.
When you pay an inflated price for a train ticket, only part of the fare compensates the operators for the money they spend on fuel, wages, rolling stock and other outlays.
The rest reflects the fact that they have you over a barrel.

Those who own and run the UK’s privatised or semi-privatised services make stupendous fortunes by investing little and charging much. In Russia and India, oligarchs acquired state assets through firesales. In Mexico, Carlos Slim was granted control of almost all landline and mobile phone services and soon became the world’s richest man.

Financialisation, as Andrew Sayer notes in Why We Can’t Afford the Rich, has had a similar impact. “Like rent,” he argues, “interest is … unearned income that accrues without any effort”.
As the poor become poorer and the rich become richer, the rich acquire increasing control over another crucial asset: money.
Interest payments, overwhelmingly, are a transfer of money from the poor to the rich.
As property prices and the withdrawal of state funding load people with debt (think of the switch from student grants to student loans), the banks and their executives clean up.

Sayer argues that the past four decades have been characterised by a transfer of wealth not only from the poor to the rich, but within the ranks of the wealthy: from those who make their money by producing new goods or services to those who make their money by controlling existing assets and harvesting rent, interest or capital gains.
Earned income has been supplanted by unearned income.

Neoliberal policies are everywhere beset by market failures. Not only are the banks too big to fail, but so are the corporations now charged with delivering public services. As Tony Judt pointed out in Ill Fares the Land, Hayek forgot that vital national services cannot be allowed to collapse, which means that competition cannot run its course.
Business takes the profits, the state keeps the risk.

The greater the failure, the more extreme the ideology becomes.
Governments use neoliberal crises as both excuse and opportunity to;
cut taxes,
privatise remaining public services,
rip holes in the social safety net,
deregulate corporations and
re-regulate citizens.

The self-hating state now sinks its teeth into every organ of the public sector. Perhaps the most dangerous impact of neoliberalism is not the economic crises it has caused, but the political crisis.
As the domain of the state is reduced, our ability to change the course of our lives through voting also contracts.
Instead, neoliberal theory asserts, “people can exercise choice through spending”.
But some have more to spend than others: in the great consumer or shareholder democracy, votes are not equally distributed. The result is a disempowerment of the poor and middle.
As parties of the right and former left adopt similar neoliberal policies, disempowerment turns to disenfranchisement.
Large numbers of people have been shed from politics.

Chris Hedges remarks that;

“fascist movements build their base not from the politically active but the politically inactive, the ‘losers’ who feel, often correctly, they have no voice or role to play in the political establishment”.

When political debate no longer speaks to us, people become responsive instead to slogans, symbols and sensation. To the admirers of Trump, for example, facts and arguments appear irrelevant.

Judt explained that when the thick mesh of interactions between people and the state has been reduced to nothing but authority and obedience, the only remaining force that binds us is state power.
The totalitarianism Hayek feared is more likely to emerge when governments, having lost the moral authority that arises from the delivery of public services, are reduced to “cajoling, threatening and ultimately coercing people to obey them”.

Like communism, neoliberalism is the God that failed.
But the zombie doctrine staggers on, and one of the reasons is its anonymity. Or rather, a cluster of anonymities.

The invisible doctrine of the invisible hand is promoted by invisible backers. Slowly, very slowly, we have begun to discover the names of a few of them. We find that the Institute of Economic Affairs, which has argued forcefully in the media against the further regulation of the tobacco industry, has been secretly funded by British American Tobacco since 1963. We discover that Charles and David Koch, two of the richest men in the world, founded the institute that set up the Tea Party movement.
We find that Charles Koch, in establishing one of his thinktanks, noted that
“in order to avoid undesirable criticism, how the organisation is controlled and directed should not be widely advertised”.

The words used by neoliberalism often conceal more than they elucidate. “The market” sounds like a natural system that might bear upon us equally, like gravity or atmospheric pressure. But it is fraught with power relations.
What “the market wants” tends to mean what corporations and their bosses want.

“Investment”, as Sayer notes, means two quite different things.

One is the funding of productive and socially useful activities,
the other is the purchase of existing assets to milk them for rent, interest, dividends and capital gains.

Using the same word for different activities “camouflages the sources of wealth”, leading us to confuse wealth extraction with wealth creation.

A century ago, the nouveau riche were disparaged by those who had inherited their money. Entrepreneurs sought social acceptance by passing themselves off as rentiers. Today, the relationship has been reversed: the rentiers and inheritors style themselves entrepreneurs. They claim to have earned their unearned income.

These anonymities and confusions mesh with the namelessness and placelessness of modern capitalism:

The anonymity of neoliberalism is fiercely guarded.
Those who are influenced by Hayek, Mises and Friedman tend to reject the term, maintaining – with some justice – that it is used today only pejoratively. But they offer us no substitute.
Some describe themselves as classical liberals or libertarians, but these descriptions are both misleading and curiously self-effacing, as they suggest that there is nothing novel about The Road to Serfdom, Bureaucracy or Friedman’s classic work, Capitalism and Freedom.

For all that, there is something admirable about the neoliberal project, at least in its early stages. It was a distinctive, innovative philosophy promoted by a coherent network of thinkers and activists with a clear plan of action. It was patient and persistent. The Road to Serfdom became the path to power.

 

ANOTHER FANTASTIC MUST READ ARTICLE By George Monbiot!

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/mar/18/corruption-rife-britain

 

It just doesn’t compute. Almost every day the news is filled with stories that look to me like corruption. Yet on Transparency International’s corruption index Britain is ranked 14th out of 177 nations, suggesting that it’s one of the best-run nations on Earth. Either all but 13 countries are spectacularly corrupt or there’s something wrong with the index.

Yes, it’s the index. The definitions of corruption on which it draws are narrow and selective. Common practices in the rich nations that could reasonably be labelled corrupt are excluded; common practices in the poor nations are emphasised.

This week a ground-changing book called How Corrupt is Britain?, edited by David Whyte, is published. It should be read by anyone who believes this country merits its position on the index.
Would there still be commercial banking sector in this country if it weren’t for corruption? Think of the list of scandals: pensions mis-selling, endowment mortgage fraud, the payment protection insurance scam, Libor rigging, insider trading and all the rest. Then ask yourself whether fleecing the public is an aberration – or the business model.

No senior figure has been held criminally liable or has even been disqualified for the practices that helped to trigger the financial crisis, partly because the laws that should have restrained them were slashed by successive governments. A former minister in this government ran HSBC while it engaged in systematic tax evasion, money laundering for drugs gangs and the provision of services to Saudi and Bangladeshi banks linked to the financing of terrorists. Instead of prosecuting the bank, the head of the UK’s tax office went to work for it when he retired.

The City of London, operating with the help of British overseas territories and crown dependencies, is the world’s leading tax haven, controlling 24% of all offshore financial services. It offers global capital an elaborate secrecy regime, assisting not just tax evaders but also smugglers, sanctions- busters and money-launderers. As the French investigating magistrate Eva Joly has complained, the City “has never transmitted even the smallest piece of usable evidence to a foreign magistrate”. The UK, Switzerland, Singapore, Luxembourg and Germany are all ranked by Transparency International as among the least corrupt nations in the world. They are also listed by the Tax Justice Network as among the worst secrecy regimes and tax havens. For some reason, though, that doesn’t count.

The Private Finance Initiative has been used by our governments to deceive us about the extent of their borrowing while channelling public money into the hands of corporations. Shrouded in secrecy, stuffed with hidden sweeteners, it has landed hospitals and schools with unpayable debts, while hiding public services from public scrutiny….

State spies have been engaged in mass surveillance. And the police, adopting the identities of dead children, lying in court to assist false convictions and fathering children by activists before disappearing, have infiltrated and sought to destroy peaceful campaign groups. Police forces have protected prolific paedophiles, including Jimmy Savile, and – it is now alleged – a ring of senior politicians who are also suspected of the murder of children.

Savile was shielded too by the NHS and the BBC, which has sacked most of the those who sought to expose him while promoting people who tried to perpetuate the cover-up.

There’s the small matter of our unreformed political funding system, which permits the very rich to buy political parties. There’s the phone-hacking scandal and the payment of police by newspapers, the underselling of Royal Mail, the revolving door allowing corporate executives to draft the laws affecting their businesses, the robbing of the welfare and prison services by private contractors, price-fixing by energy companies, daylight robbery by pharmaceutical firms and dozens more such cases.

Is none of this corruption? Or is it too sophisticated to qualify?

It just doesn’t compute. Almost every day the news is filled with stories that look to me like corruption. Yet on Transparency International’s corruption index Britain is ranked 14th out of 177 nations, suggesting that it’s one of the best-run nations on Earth. Either all but 13 countries are spectacularly corrupt or there’s something wrong with the index.

Yes, it’s the index. The definitions of corruption on which it draws are narrow and selective. Common practices in the rich nations that could reasonably be labelled corrupt are excluded; common practices in the poor nations are emphasised.

This week a ground-changing book called How Corrupt is Britain?, edited by David Whyte, is published. It should be read by anyone who believes this country merits its position on the index.

Would there still be commercial banking sector in this country if it weren’t for corruption? Think of the list of scandals: pensions mis-selling, endowment mortgage fraud, the payment protection insurance scam, Libor rigging, insider trading and all the rest. Then ask yourself whether fleecing the public is an aberration – or the business model.

No senior figure has been held criminally liable or has even been disqualified for the practices that helped to trigger the financial crisis, partly because the laws that should have restrained them were slashed by successive governments. A former minister in this government ran HSBC while it engaged in systematic tax evasion, money laundering for drugs gangs and the provision of services to Saudi and Bangladeshi banks linked to the financing of terrorists. Instead of prosecuting the bank, the head of the UK’s tax office went to work for it when he retired.

The City of London, operating with the help of British overseas territories and crown dependencies, is the world’s leading tax haven, controlling 24% of all offshore financial services. It offers global capital an elaborate secrecy regime, assisting not just tax evaders but also smugglers, sanctions- busters and money-launderers. As the French investigating magistrate Eva Joly has complained, the City “has never transmitted even the smallest piece of usable evidence to a foreign magistrate”. The UK, Switzerland, Singapore, Luxembourg and Germany are all ranked by Transparency International as among the least corrupt nations in the world. They are also listed by the Tax Justice Network as among the worst secrecy regimes and tax havens. For some reason, though, that doesn’t count.

The Private Finance Initiative has been used by our governments to deceive us about the extent of their borrowing while channelling public money into the hands of corporations. Shrouded in secrecy, stuffed with hidden sweeteners, it has landed hospitals and schools with unpayable debts, while hiding public services from public scrutiny.

State spies have been engaged in mass surveillance. And the police, adopting the identities of dead children, lying in court to assist false convictions and fathering children by activists before disappearing, have infiltrated and sought to destroy peaceful campaign groups. Police forces have protected prolific paedophiles, including Jimmy Savile, and – it is now alleged – a ring of senior politicians who are also suspected of the murder of children. Savile was shielded too by the NHS and the BBC, which has sacked most of the those who sought to expose him while promoting people who tried to perpetuate the cover-up.

There’s the small matter of our unreformed political funding system, which permits the very rich to buy political parties. There’s the phone-hacking scandal and the payment of police by newspapers, the underselling of Royal Mail, the revolving door a llowing corporate executives to draft the laws affecting their businesses, the robbing of the welfare and prison services by private contractors, price-fixing by energy companies, daylight robbery by pharmaceutical firms and dozens more such cases. Is none of this corruption? Or is it too sophisticated to qualify?

Among the sources used by Transparency International to compile its index are the World Bank and the World Economic Forum. Relying on the World Bank to assess corruption is like asking Vlad the Impaler for an audit of human rights. Run on the principle of one dollar, one vote, controlled by the rich nations while operating in the poor ones, the bank has funded hundreds of white-elephant projects that have greatly enriched corrupt elites and foreign capital while evicting local people from their land and leaving their countries with unpayable debts. To general gasps of astonishment, the World Bank’s definition of corruption is so narrowly drawn that it excludes such practices.

The World Economic Forum establishes its corruption rankings through a survey of global executives: the beneficiaries of the kind of practices I’ve listed in this article.

Its questions are limited to the payment of bribes and the corrupt acquisition of public funds by private interests, excluding the kinds of corruption that prevail in rich nations.

Transparency International’s interviews with ordinary citizens take much the same line: most of its specific questions involve the payment of bribes.

How Corrupt is Britain? argues that such narrow conceptions of corruption are part of a long tradition of portraying the problem as something confined to weak nations, which must be rescued by “reforms” imposed by colonial powers and, more recently, bodies such as the World Bank and the IMF.

These “reforms” mean austerity, privatisation, outsourcing and deregulation.

They tend to suck money out of the hands of the poor and into the hands of national and global oligarchs.

For organisations such as the World Bank and the World Economic Forum, there is little difference between the public interest and the interests of global corporations.

What might look like corruption from any other perspective looks to them like sound economics. The power of global finance and the immense wealth of the global elite are founded on corruption, and the beneficiaries have an interest in framing the question to excuse themselves.

Yes, many poor nations are plagued by the kind of corruption that involves paying bribes to officials. But the problems plaguing us run deeper. When the system already belongs to the elite, bribes are superfluous.