Posted December 23, 2013
by Jerry Alatalo
As one who has a healthy interest in learning as much as possible about the Earth’s financial, economic, and banking system(s), taking the time to find men and women “in the know” is a big part of the process. After viewing a very interesting documentary titled “Four Horsemen”, which does a real service for humanity by combining the views of 20 or so men and women experts in economic studies, I found the following interview of Ms. Ann Pettifor.
Let me first say that “Four Horsemen” is available for viewing on YouTube – on Renegade Economist channel (450,000 views) – and that I found it one of the best films on economics I have ever seen. In other words, this documentary film critic gives it a “big thumbs up!” and “four and a half stars!”. I will provide a link to the film in my next post, but for now, about an impressive woman by the name of Ann Pettifor.
Secondly, for those men and women who have an interest in economics and finance/banking, you would not regret spending some time and study of videos on Renegade Economist channel @ YouTube. Ms. Pettifor’s interview is one of those videos. Her story is interesting. What is impressive about her is that she led an effort called “Jubilee 2000” to bring about writeoffs of over $100 billion of debt faced by some of the world’s poorest nations.
To be honest, after all the articles and videos I have read and viewed, it is always somewhat surprising to come across men and women with great ideas that one has no previous awareness of. Most of the people in “Four Horsemen” are men and women who I have some familiarity with, having read and heard them before. Ms. Pettifor happened to get interviewed by the same organization that made the film, so there was the added “bonus” of listening to her speak.
She describes her journey of awareness regarding international banking problems as starting with somewhat mundane beginnings, like noticing her friends and family members obtaining hefty mortgages, although in financial conditions which would be seen as risky – where she felt the stage was set for a fall. Ms. Pettifor became looked upon as a “looney” when she wrote a book predicting the speculative housing bubble bursting, well before 2007-8.
In the years before the world economic crisis which began in 2007-8, Ann Pettifor “got it”. In 2013, soon to be 2014, Ms. Pettifor “gets it”, and she is currently involved in making sure that as many people as possible “get it” as well. Her description of three years of studying economics and banking, her “informal Ph.D.”, provides evidence of her gravitas as an expert of economics. She studied politics and economics in the country of her birth, South Africa, at the University of the Witwatersrand.
She describes the three years of study as ones which allowed her to gain an “eagle’s eye view” of world economics and politics, in contrast to the specialization, micro-vision, limited horizon view held by “silo mentality” academicians. She talks about how “blindingly obvious” was the credit bubble collapse which occurred in 2007-8, expounded upon in her 2003 book “Credit Crunch”. She believes that economics and finance have been taught at university level in a “very bizarre” way, with a failure to focus on more consequential, macro levels.
Ms. Pettifor speaks of constraints on professors’ freedom to speak truthfully due to the issue of tenure, where economics/finance experts without tenure self-censor because of employment concerns, and that many are afraid to “rock the boat” and risk losing positions at universities. She also speaks about economists becoming “hired guns” for the too-big-to-fail banking corporations, pointed out by the interviewer as evidenced by economists in the documentary “Inside Job” becoming visibly annoyed – acting cowardly – in response to inconvenient questioning.
She welcomes the “clash of ideas” as the only way to arrive at a new paradigm in economics and finance around the world. She points out her reading of a speech by Ben Broadbent, a top manager at the Bank of England, and thinking to herself that the speech was probably written by Goldman Sachs, and indicative of huge political and economic power held by financial corporations whose focus is on profits, without any focus on improving the economic conditions of citizens.
This “frozen view” has led to the current situation, where person(s) wanting to borrow capital for a wind farm have become ignored for speculative ventures which benefit small amounts of people, adding no jobs or real production of goods and services. She relates the cause/genesis of the problem being from the early 70’s, when deregulation allowed speculation to run wild without any controls whatsoever. She suggests permanently low-interest rates, laws which regulate and control the financial sector, as well as eliminating lending for speculative purposes.
She realizes that banks have bribed and co-opted politicians, and gives Franklin Roosevelt as an example of a United States president who waged an intense battle with Wall Street – a U.S. president who would not be bribed. She plainly states her placement of blame for the 2008-present world economic crisis on politicians, and strongly suggests the need to hold political leaders to account. She points out that the public has largely been ignorant of economic/finance issues, but holds the optimism that people are beginning to “get it”, in large part due to information democratization and the internet.
Her description of how the movement resulting in $100 billion of poor nations’ debts being cancelled began, in a bare-bones way – with a rustic office and no funding – to eventually getting support from world leaders and accomplished, gives inspiration to all who are interested in creating good changes on Earth.
Ann Pettifor believes that when enough men and women become aware and “get it” – the momentum for real change will become unstoppable.
Ms. Pettifor writes articles for debtonation.org.
(Thanks to Renegade Economist channel – YouTube)
- Autumn statement 2013: our writers’ verdict | Caroline Lucas, Patrick Diamond, Kwasi Kwarteng, Alvin Carpio, Ann Pettifor, John Cridland and Rhys Moore (theguardian.com)
- Five minutes with Ann Pettifor: “The UK is plunging down a metaphorical rabbit hole into the fantasy world of easy (if dear) money” (blogs.lse.ac.uk)