Sunday 11 December 2016

Ruth Dudley Edwards: We're finally of the one mind -- but still clueless

The left and right share their resentment of the greed of the global financial elite, writes Ruth Dudley Edwards

Published 09/10/2011 | 05:00

One of the scariest aspects of the present crisis in the global economy is that no one really has a clue what to do.

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That fine thriller writer, Robert Harris, suggests we are heading for calamity because of the unintended consequences of a 1993 Congress decision to cancel the American Desertron, a more ambitious version of Europe's Large Hadron Collider. Its army of brilliant, naive physicists then headed for Wall Street, where they helped greedy financial traders develop financial derivatives so complicated as to be virtually beyond human understanding: Warren Buffet called them 'financial weapons of mass destruction'.

Throw in the world's increasing dependence on computers (73 per cent of share trades in New York require no human intervention), instant communications and the financial profligacy of politicians and public, and the result is a deadly mess. Harris's fear is "that the financial system itself has somehow slipped all human control -- that it has become the preserve of a profoundly anti-democratic, super-rich elite, and that it girdles the planet like some alien entity from an HG Wells novel".

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