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The power of the financial lobby

In this startling documentary, WDR TV reports the impact of financial lobbyists in the EU institutions. (German with English subtitles)

“A bank crisis a week”

Did you know?

That the banks have become uncontrollable? They are controlling almost the entire derivate market, good for 600,000 billion dollar. That is forty times the world trade in products and services or the equivalent of almost ten years of economic world output or almost 100,000 dollar per inhabitant of the planet. i

That the 23 biggest banks are twice as big as the GDP of the entire European Union? ii 1 2 3 4

That it’s not the high wages but the monopolies, the shamefully low corporate tax, and the high profit margins that are responsible for the crisis? So says chief economist of the Financial Times in a commentary on Spain. iii

That 9,000 billion dollar were pumped into the financial system to save the banks? That amount is twenty times the GDP of Belgium or more than the yearly shared income of the 4.7 billion people in the South. iv

That as a result of the financial crisis four million jobs disappeared in Europe alone? v

That the economic loss of the eurocrisis equals about 9,000 euro a family? vi

That the banks are not being properly regulated despite the big promises? vii

That today, banks are again booking the biggest profits since the start of the crisis? viii 1 2 3

That today, there is more speculation than before the crisis? ix

That the European Central bank in the process of the debt cirsis made billions of dollars in profit out of the peripheral countries (Greece, Portugal, Spain, Italy, and Ireland)? x

That they speculated on the Greek debt? And that a hedge fund made 500 million euros out of it? xi

That in Spain, out of all people, the former president of the bankrupt Lehman bank became minister of economics? It was the bankruptcy of Lehman that caused the current financial crisis. xii

That to this day not a single banker went to court and was sentenced? Too big to jail… xiii

by Marc Vandepitte

iii) Financial Times, 15 februari 2013, p. 9.
iv) Financial Times, 16 september 2009, p. 13; UNDP, Human Development Report 2010, New York 2010, p. 187 en 210.
v) Financial Times, 9/10 januari 2010, p. 1.
ix) Demos T., ‘Trading volumes hit record levels’, Financial Times, 11 augustus 2011, p. 11.

“Austerity till the grave”

Did you know?

That austerity is a bad medicine and that it only worsens the crisis? Even the IMF says so. i

That the industrialisation rate in France dropped with 10% since 2008, in Spain with 22%, and in Italy with a whopping 25%? ii 1 2

That Europe today is retaking the exact same disastrous course it took in the ‘20s and ‘30s? That course existed out of debt disputes, austerity, soaring unemployment, and political radicalisation, and finally resulted in war. iii

That Lithuania is us a sample of what the crisis could mean? The country was the first that was hit by the credit crisis. The subsequent austery measures were highly destructive. The economy shrunk by 25%. Unemployment rose from 7% to 21%, youth unemployment to 28%. Government employees saw their wages drop with 30%, and poverty rose from 14% to 20%. Between 2000 and 2012, the population is thought to have diminished by one sixth through emigration. iv 1 2

That the youth unemployment is 37% in Portugal and Italy, 52% in Greece and an incredible 57% in Spain? v

That that is causing the youth to flee their countries in big numbers? Since the start of the crisis about half a million Italians and Portuguese, and one fifth (!) of the Irish youth. By 2020 four million Spanish youth will have left their country. vi 1 2 3 4

That in Spain young people are prepared to take on a fulltime job for 300 euros a month? vii

That in Italy, in the region of Napes alone, 54,000 children are wlorking full time, often for less than one euro an hour? viii

That today 116 million Europeans are living below the poverty line or in social exclusion? That is one out of four. Another 100 to 150 million are living on the edge. In total that is 43% to 53% of the population. ix 1 2 3

That in Spain 400,000 people have been evicted? x

That the Greeks, just as in many third world countries, now have to bring their own medicine when they are admitted to a hospital? xi

That since the crisis 54% of the Greeks have felt depressed regularly, and that the number of suicides in Italy caused by economic motives has risen by 25%? xii 1 2

That the resistance against the antisocial measures is rising and that the indignados in Spain are supported by 80% of the population? xiii

by Marc Vandepitte

v) figures Eurostat May 2013

“Tax haven Europe”

Did you know?

That the richest Greeks parked about 600 billion Euros on Swiss bank accounts? That is almost twice the amount of the Greek debt… i

That the super rich Greek evade about 30 billion Euros in taxes yearly. That’s more than enough to pay for the yearly debt and to end the crisis. ii

That the crisis in Greece could have been avoided if Europe had intervened on time? iii

That big business in Belgium, just as in other countries, barely pays taxes, just under 4%, and that this is not smart, economically speaking? Economists have worked out that an ideal tax rate would be about 36% percent. iv 1 2

That since the start of the financial crisis the profits of the biggest corporations have risen by 25 to 30%? v

That the crisis is being used as a lever to break the resistance of the European people? “Crises also offer interesting opportunities. We can get things done that we could not get done without one,” or so says Wolfgang Schäuble, minister of finance of Germany. vi

by Marc Vandepitte

“Bratwurst, Lederhosen and Minijobs”

Did you know?

That one out of five employees in Germany only makes 4 to 6 Euros an hour? In the rest of Europe that is one out of six, in Sweden only 3%. i

That 35% of the vacancies in the German labour market are temporary jobs, and that in Western Germany only half the employees work under a collective working agreement? ii

That Germany helped cause the crisis? The low interest rates of the Euro were needed to get Germany out of the economic doldrums (caused in part by the reunification) and have played an important role in the financial crisis. iii

But that Germany is also making a lot of money out of the crisis? A weaker Euro is good for export, and the trust crisis in financial markets is causing people to look for safe havens. This situation is allowing Germany to borrow money for cheap. iv

That the regional differences within Europe are increasing? Since 2007 Greece’s GNP has dropped more than 13%, in Portugal and Italy the GDPs shrunk by 8%, and in Spain and Ireland they went down by more than 6%, while in Germany and Austria there was a rise of 3% and 4% respectively. v 1 2 3 4

That the crisis in Europe is mostly being used to thoroughly change the employment regulations? We’re talking working longer, lower wages, and easier dismissals? Germany had started this early. Since the crisis the peripheral countries (Greece, Portugal, Spain, Italy, and Ireland) have been the test sites for the rest of Europe. vi

by Marc Vandepitte

“What kind of Europe do we want?”

Did you know?

That the power of the national parliaments is being hollowed out by the European Commission? i

That before the Irish government announced the major austerity measures, she first had a secret meeting with big business and the banks? And that the banks won? ii

That even Merkel admitted that we are living under the dictatorship of the financial markets and that politicians are listening to them instead of to their voters? iii 1 2

That Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the Eurogroup phrases it the same way himself? “We make decisions. Then we present them and wait what happens with them. If there is no protest or resistance, as most don’t understand what is being decided, then we go on. Step by step. Until there is no way back.” iv

That Irish people who are having trouble paying their mortgages have to give up their satellite TV and cannot travel to foreign countries? They also are designated a budget for food, heating, and leisure expenses. This is happening to about 200,000 families. v

That only a small minority in Europe is happy with the current economic course? In France and the United Kingdom that is only 30%, in Italy and Spain 10%, in Greece barely 2%. vi

That the popularity of the Greek governing party Pasok has dropped to 6%? vii

That 96% of the Spanish think that the political corruption is “very high” and that 85% has no faith in the Spanish prime minister? viii

That the traditional parties in Italy can count on the support of only 10% of the population, and that 45% of the Italian youth voted for Beppe Grillo in the last election? ix

by Marc Vandepitte