ABC daily report – ‘Let them default’

While I was in Australia I recorded this interview with ABC’s daily show. This went out on 15th September. Watch it above or on ABC’s website here >

My tour of Australia - with the SEARCH Foundation

Read about my speaking tour of Australia below – from the SEARCH Foundation:

The SEARCH Foundation is currently touring eminent British economist and author Ann
Pettifor around Australia and she is visiting our shores with a warning; the GFC inducing credit
crunch is not over and Australia’s banking sector is vulnerable.

Ms Pettifor is visiting Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra and Brisbane for speaking
engagements over the next fortnight.

“Before the Credit Crunch of 2008-2009 Brits and Americans were convinced that the good
times could last forever. Our orthodox economists, central bankers and politicians encouraged
us in that delusion. Today millions of the unemployed, homeless and bankrupt are paying
a heavy price for the failure to understand the role of the private banking system in causing
systemic and widespread economic failure.” Ms Pettifor said.

“Australians would be well advised not to fall into the same trap.

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Savings and the alchemy of credit - my article for Aviva

Aviva has brought together a collection of prominent thinkers to provoke renewed debate and fresh ideas about future prosperity and creating a culture of sustainable savings. The group, names the ‘Future Prosperity Panel‘, published their report ‘Big picture thinking – Towards sustainable savings’.

My article is called ‘Savings and the alchemy of credit’ and is published alongside valuable work from Alain De BottonSimon TayPaweł Świeboda and Diane Coyle.

Read a summary of my essay on the Aviva site and watch a video interview with me here… >

An open letter to the people of Greece: restore the Drachma


Unemployment poster ‘jobless men keep going, we can’t take care of our own’, 1931.

We write to encourage you – to urge you on in your resistance.

In your defiance, you understand Greece is slave to the interests of private wealth.

You must understand too that it is private wealth that needs Greece. Greece does not need private wealth.

As is obvious to you – if not to EU finance ministers – Greek and other EU taxpayers are asked to shore up the immense wealth and reckless lending of private French, German, British and American banks.

Without your taxes, your sacrifices, the privatisation of your government’s assets, these bankers once again face Armageddon – as they did in autumn of 2008.

Just as then, so now they have rushed behind the ‘skirts’ of their defenders at the IMF and the EU. On their behalf, these unelected officials and some elected politicians demand that Greek and EU taxpayers shield private sector risk-takers from the consequences of their risks. The very antipathy of market principles.

In the process, the European Union is torn apart. Politicians, backed by officials, now defy the founding goals of the Community and, in the interests of private wealth, set the peoples of Europe against each other.

On 20 June, 2011 the acting Head of the IMF called for “immediate and far-reaching structural reforms, privatization, and the opening of markets to foreign ownership and competition.”

Which proves our point: private wealth needs Greece. Greece does not need private wealth.

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Is the banking system broke, as well as broken?

Much of the news of the last few weeks -

… can be explained by the  need for banks to urgently raise money to fix their balance sheets. Unfortunately their activities are akin to the little Dutch boy with his finger in the dyke. Just as they raise funds from e.g. commodity speculation to shore up balance sheets, those funds may be drained from some other part of the bank by e.g. a rise  in mortgage defaults or company bankruptcies as economic activity stalls, house prices fall,  foreclosures are held up by legal arguments, and the over-borrowed fail to repay.
This explains why the banking system may be broke, as well as broken.

Coming soon: another global financial crash? Capital mobility and the commodity mania

Tin produced at a Glencore plant in Vinto, Bolivia

“Experience shows that when policies falter in managing capital flows, there is no limit to the damage that international finance can inflict on an economy.”

Yilmaz Akyüz, “Capital Flows to Developing Countries in a Historical Perspective: Will the current Boom End with a Bust?”

Today, as speculation and leverage in global, financialised commodity markets reach manic levels; as we witness an ‘epic rout’ (FT 5 May, 2011) in commodity prices, and as the boom in capital flows peaks, is another crash inevitable? And is it coming soon?

I know from experience that while it may be possible to analyse fundamentals, it is always difficult to predict precisely what dynamic will trigger the next crisis, and when it will happen. Back in 2003, together with colleagues at the new economics foundation in London, and with very little funding, I assembled and edited a series of essays on the ‘outlook’ for the global economy. We titled it: ‘Real world economic outlook’, and added a subtitle, ‘the legacy of globalization: debt and deflation’. We intended the report to be annual, and to act as a counter to the IMF’s annual World Economic Outlook, which in our view was irrationally optimistic about developments in the global economy.

We were pretty pessimistic about global imbalances, and predicted a crash. Sadly, our timing was way out: the crash was four years away. It does not always help to be right on the fundamentals. Given the inevitability of the then forthcoming crash, we argued that there was once more a need for a ‘great transformation’ of the global economy. The starting point we wrote ‘will be to reverse the most pernicious elements of the ‘globalization’ experiment’ by the ‘taming of financial markets through the re-introduction of capital controls; restraints in the growth of credit; the establishment of an International Clearing Agency; and a Tobin Tax’.

Back then it was hard to talk/write about these matters – and be heard. Our cheerfully-titled report and predictions did not hit the best-seller lists. Funding for the project was withdrawn, and the project wound down. It’s major flaw? We had breached areas of economic debate that at the time were carefully circumscribed. It took the financial crisis of 2007-9 to loosen the intellectual chains to which orthodox economics had so heavily tied economic debate.   Today the Tobin Tax, or Robin Hood Tax is a high-profile issue, with some signs that EU governments are considering implementation of such a tax. (See point 8 of Euro leaders’ statement, March 11, 2011). So that taboo has been broken.

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The 'Robin Hood Tax'

10th February 2010

I have a comment in todays Guardian on the new campaign on the Tobin Tax – the ‘Robin Hood Tax’. Click here to read the whole article:

Ann Pettifor:

“The proposed currency transaction tax (CTT) represents the tiniest grain of sand in the wheels of global, mobile capital, and places very little restraint on the movement of international capital. For that reason CTT will be welcomed, ultimately, by international financial institutions. The proposal lacks a framework of democratic, accountable governance for the disbursement of funds collected under a CTT scheme. NGOs and treasuries are debating whether funds should go, for example, to national treasuries; to the Global Fund to fight Aids, TB and Malaria, or to the UN for mitigation and adaption to climate change. Until disbursement and distribution of CTT revenues are accounted for in a democratic, fair, and transparent way, the CTT will be vulnerable to attack.”

Unjust for Iceland to Take Sole Responsibility

7th January 2010,

Read Ann Pettifor and Jeremy Smith’s letter on why Iceland must NOT repay the debt in the FT today:

” Sir, The president of Iceland’s refusal to approve repayment to the British and Dutch governments should be welcomed (January 5). The pause gives the Anglo-Dutch governments an opportunity to withdraw their demand for full repayment from the government of Iceland, a country whose population at 317,000 is somewhat smaller than Leicester’s.

The UK and the Netherlands, with a combined population of 76m, should cease to use economic force majeure on a tiny country, and accept the principle of co-responsibility for the crisis. Repayment of the nationalised losses of a private bank amounts to €12,000 per Icelandic citizen, and will inevitably impact harshly on their lives and public services. By contrast the cost to Dutch and British taxpayers of the bail-out will be about €50 per capita.

We understand the strong desire of the present government of Iceland to restore the country’s tattered reputation.

But anyone reading the financial press in 2007 and 2008 (as opposed to the academic reports commissioned by Iceland’s chamber of commerce) would have known that Iceland’s banks were far from risk-free. That was why British and Dutch depositors enjoyed good rates of return on their deposits.

The British and Dutch governments have sound political reasons for protecting small savers lured into shark-infested financial waters. What is unjust is that the tiny population of Iceland should be forced to bear the full costs of the laxity of Icelandic, British and Dutch regulators and the reckless behaviour of private bankers and risk-takers. “

Read the letter on the FT website here.

The Motley Fool, plus You and Yours on Radio 4

The Motley Fool, September 2nd, 2009

Motley Fool blogger TMF Sinchiruna spotlights the Times interview, describing me as “once ridiculed, later vindicated…” TMF Sinchiruna goes on to say: “Peter Schiff, Jim Rogers, Niall Fergusson, Ann Pettifor … these are the voices that I believe investors need to hear. Turn off the tv and look deep into the events of last year and consider for yourselves whether anything more than a hail-mary reflationary maelstrom has been heaped upon the fire that started it all.”

Read the Motley Fool article >

Also just did an interview for You and Yours on Radio 4 which was broadcast Wednesday. You can listen to it here.

Times: Worst of slump yet to come, says economist

Article Published in the Times, September 1st 2009. Photo by Jon Enoch.

Ann Pettifor predicted a painful end to the good times. Now she says that only radical action can prevent further gloom

Phil Thornton

Ann Pettifor is a member of a select club — the seers who saw it all coming. Now the economist, who predicted the credit crunch as far back as 2003, believes that the worst is yet to come unless there is radical reform of the financial system.

Six years ago she parodied the International Monetary Fund’s annual economic forecast with her own — The Real World Economic Outlook. Then, in 2006, her book The Coming First World Debt Crisis, warned that rich countries were heading for a debt crisis that would overshadow anything seen in the developing world. Both were ridiculed.

With the British and world economies languishing in the worst recession since the Great Depression and with once-mighty banks reliant on government life support, she could be forgiven for being a little smug. Not a bit of it: “No, being Cassandra is not something I wish for. I hate this role of being a gloomer and doomer, as I’m an optimist by nature. But I am very pessimistic now.”

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