19 Nov 2008

Sub Rooms Stroud talk: Green economics not greed economics

The chance to hear joined-up policies to solve the triple crunch of the credit crisis, climate change and high oil prices comes to Stroud. It looks set to be great....read more below plus links to a several articles looking more at the issues re the Credit Crunch and Iceland including a petition.

Photos: More shots of Randwick woods - trees are loosing leaves rapidly now but still look sensational

The Stroud launch of the 'New Green Deal' will be at the Subscription Rooms in Stroud at 7.30pm on Thursday 27th November. The speakers will include Colin Hines, author and co-director of Finance for the Future, Cllr. Martin Whiteside, the Green Party Parliamentary candidate for Stroud, and Molly Scott Cato, Green Party Economics Speaker and European Parliamentary candidate.

Martin Whiteside, speaking at a Green Party meeting in Stroud earlier this month, said, “We need Green economics, not greed economics. The planet is the source of all real value. It is errors in the systems of accounting, most fundamentally in the system of national accounting and the use of GDP as a measure, that have led us to undervalue so significantly our fundamental resource. Politicians in Europe and elsewhere are beginning to argue that the recession will make finding a solution to climate change more difficult. This only illustrates their inability to grasp that the real problems facing the planet are economic in nature, and that we need to change the way our economies are designed and directed.”

Molly Scott Cato, who lives in Stroud said, "A capitalist economy is like a shark - without forward motion it dies. This explains the roller coaster of boom and bust. A green economy would aim for a steady state, meeting human needs without exceeding the capacity of the planet to provide. Taking limits seriously, and recognising the need to end economic growth, underlines the importance of sharing the available resources fairly rather than competing over supplies of oil or water.”

Read more interesting stuff:

Insightful article on how the crisis has hit Iceland, a nation of 300,000 people. Read how the country's banks - virtually unregulated - borrow more than 10 times their country's gross domestic product from the international wholesale money markets - then effectively gamble to create the current financial meltdown:

'As the New Scientist' Special Issue Oct24th editorial says, "we might be able to bail out the banks when they run out of assets, but we can't do the same for the planet."

Amazingly to tackle the Iceland banking crisis, last month the British Government invoked Anti-terrorist legislation, aimed at the people of Iceland. There is a petition to Gordon Brown sign here:

Looking more closely it would seem that Iceland was an experimental station for neo-liberalism - even more so than Thatcher's Britain was in the 1980s. A Green colleague sent a link here to the Mont Pelerin Society, which gives some background including that it was in 1991, Oddsson became Prime Minister and instigated an ambitious (and successful [/sic/]) programme of reform, liberalisation, deregulation, privatisation, stabilisation and tax reduction.'Indeed there is more on Trollblog here.

Naomi Klein, author of The Shock Doctrine comments: “The more details emerge, the clearer it becomes that Washington’s handling of the Wall Street bailout is not merely incompetent. It is borderline criminal,” says . See/listen to more here. Plus of course Stroud's own Gaian Economics blog here with various comments on recent stuff re Credit Crunch.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


SchNEWS, Issue 657, Friday 28th November 2008




"Even on TV and radio phone-ins callers are saying that maybe anarchy
isn't such a bad idea after all," Siggi Pönk, lead vocalist of
Icelandic punk band Dís explains, "people are saying capitalism in
Iceland is dead, kill capitalism."

The crisis facing the global economy is particularly acute in
Iceland. Before the credit crunch Icelanders were, per capita, the
world's fifth richest population. According to the UN Iceland is the
most developed country in the world (whatever that means).
Unemployment and homelessness was virtually unknown; the island of
just over 300,000 people was one of the greatest success stories of
neo-liberalism. Now, precisely because of the Thatcher inspired 'good
years', the odds are strong on it being the first 'developed' country
to collapse into full economic depression.

So it's fair to say that Icelanders are mildly angry. There's been an
upsurge in grassroots mobilisation as the scale of the damage to the
economy has become apparent. Approximately 9,000 people (3% of the
population) hit the streets in the last weekly
anti-government-bank-billionaire demonstration. Open forums
discussing the current situation are packed out - and politicians
aren't allowed through the door - unless they're ordered to attend.
New political groups are everywhere - 500 people even physically
attacked Reykjavik's main Police station and broke out a political
prisoner. The collapse of capitalism in Iceland seems to have
re-awakened the island's traditional spirit of independence.

Precisely who caused this crash is the main unanswered question. What
is perfectly clear is that it was the governments free market economic
policy in the 80's and 90's which caused the nosedive. The
Independence Party has ruled in every government since Iceland won
it's sovereignty in 1944. Now, for the first time, it has had to hire
private bodyguards for it's members, not least for Davíð Oddson (Mayor
of Reykjavik 1982-1991; Prime Minister 1991-2005; Governor of Central
Bank 2005-present), its most vigorous exponent of neo-liberal

Unlike other Scandinavian countries, Iceland closely followed a
Thatcherite route of privatising all its major industries and banks;
slashing or abolishing corporate, inheritance, net wealth, income and
company turnover taxes; signing National Accords (suicide pacts) with
trade unions. The right-wing thinktank Economic Freedom of the
World's annual survey rated Iceland 53rd of the 72 'free-est' (read
deregulated) economies in 1975, while it was one of the poorest
countries in Western Europe; by 2006 it had risen to be the 12th out
of 141 and was amongst the richest on the planet. (Britain went from
23rd to 5th in the same period).

How does being 'economically free' translate into being ridiculously
rich? Any fishmonger will tell you that no matter how many tax cuts
you get, selling fish, Iceland's main export, hardly makes you a
millionaire. Instead their wealth came from debt. Icelandic bankers
stuck their interest rates high so that foreign investors would leave
their money with them. They then went on spending sprees across the
world, especially in the UK and Denmark. Amongst the UK companies
bought by the Icelandic Baugur group were Topshop, Debenhams, Iceland
(the supermarket, for novelty value) and the biggest toy shop in
Europe - Hamleys (well if you're a billionaire you can't just buy
your kid an action man). Iceland's glorious wealth however, was based
on borrowed money.

Then the credit crunch bit the world, investors wanted their money
back and it became blindingly obvious that the Icelandic bankers
couldn't pay. When all three of its main banks collapsed and were
nationalised in the beginning of October (keeping most of the same
management, of course), it was revealed that Iceland owed foreign
investors $60 billion, 12 times their GDP! But, as these banks were
now owned by the nation, it fell on the population as a whole, not
the bankers and billionaires who'd taken out these loans, to repay.
That's a debt of about $100,000 per person! And of course, with
foreign debts there's interest and exchange rates to add on. The
children of todays Icelanders will still be facing the hangover of
the Good Years.


Out of the $11 billion package to 'rescue' its banks, the Icelandic
government signed a $2.1 billion "International Monetary Foundation
(IMF) conditionality agreement". In Godfather like tones the IMF once
described themselves as "the credit community's enforcer." Whereas the
logic of investment is usually based on getting money for the risks
you take, just like betting on Kazakhstan winning the World Cup would
make you rich if they came through but would hit you in the face if
they didn't; the IMF guarantees that it will get its investment back
regardless, like someone who bets on Kazakhstan and then points a gun
at the bookie to demand their 'winnings' when they lose.

The IMF has ruined countless poorer countries with its
debt-enforcement, forcing countries to repay loans by raising
interest rates; increasing tax whilst reducing public spending;
selling off public industries and property; removing restrictions on
the movement of money; taking out more loans...and so on. In short
it'll be business as usual for the current Icelandic government,
which is probably why their only comments on the conditions for the
loan (there are always conditions to IMF loans) were that they
wouldn't have to do anything they wouldn't have needed to do anyway.
Meanwhile they raised interest rates to 18% - step one of the

With billions of pounds of British cash nestling in the now decimated
Icelandic banks the government has frozen assets using anti-terrorism
laws. The Icelandic government was distinctly unimpressed, but has
bigger issues to deal with on the home front.


The movement that's erupted in response to all of this has some
unifying demands. 1) Immediate elections - for individuals instead of
parties. 2) The entire Icelandic elite be jailed and forced to pay
their debts themselves. 3) The entire finance regulatory organisation
be replaced, including Davið Oddson, now the most hated man in over a
millennium of history. 4) That nobody should lose their home - after
Christmas unemployment is predicted to jump to 7% and you can bet
that under the gaze of the IMF the already inadequate benefits will
be cut.

One shred of good news is that the last 15 years of ecological
devastation on the island is grinding to a halt. There's simply no
money to build more mega-dams, geothermal energy plants and aluminum
smelters, especially as the aluminum industry itself has gone belly
up from the credit crisis.

On a recent demonstration someone climbed on top of the Icelandic
parliament and hoisted the symbolic flag of the billionaire Baugur
Group, a grinning fat pink piggybank - the logo of their supermarket
Bónus. The idea being that Iceland's recent and hard won parliament
was nothing more than an office for the arrogant super-rich and so it
should fly its own flag. But while on a university trip to Parliament
two weeks later, the same protester was spotted by an MP who got him
nicked and locked up for an action against the aluminum industry that
he participated in two years ago.

Word spread and 500 people turned up outside the police station, at
first demanding his release and then forcing their way in, lobbing
stones at the building's windows and ramming its doors down with
poles. Police responded with teargas. Someone paid for his release
because a giant group of riot cops were forming behind the station to
attack supporters. Once out of nick, the protester gave a speech to
the cheering crowd, shouting "Such unity and power that you were
upholding in front of this station should not be focused on getting
some punk out of a prison cell. I'd rather you used this energy to
bring the government to their knees. Launch a complete and general
and immediate revolution!"

All this, and yet, the effects of the crisis have yet to even set