DEMOCRACY ALARM: FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT
By Heribert Pranti
After the stock market crash, financial management acts as though nothing happened. The democratic state does not resist.
[This article published in: sueddeutsche.de 7/31/2009 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web, http://www.sueddeutsche.de/finanzen/79/982534/text/print.html.]
Compensation for injury is a general legal principle. Whoever inflicts harm is expected to work to remove the harm.
In criminal law, this expectation is called "conduct after the fact." When a cu9lprit is concerned for his victim after the act, when he tries to lessen suffering, pain and injury, mitigating punishment is considered. This is clear in the law.
The most dreadful thing a criminal can do after the act is to simply continue without understanding, without repenting and without stopping. These deficiencies obviously exist in the financial crisis. Many banks and investment firms simply carry on as before; they pay exorbitant bonuses as before; they speculate as before. They risk money as before, only this time with the money of the state, the money of taxpayers. Many big financial managers are stubborn and intransigent, pigheaded, unteachable and insolent.
FAR WORSE THAN CAPITAL OFFENSES
Usually capital offenses are understood as crimes against body and life. After the experiences since September 15, 2008 and the collapse of the Lehman Brothers investment bank, crimes inflicted with capital can also be called capital crimes. In the criminal law statutes covering murder, "greed," "base motives" and "danger to the public" are emphasized. These characteristics also appear with the new capital offenses - even if these can hardly be grasped in the criminal law.
The usual perpetrator returns to the scene of the crime, the criminologist says. This is also true for the new capital offenses. However it is much worse this time. The culprits of yesterday do not return to the scene of the crime but simply remain there, feign insight and repentance for a while and simply carry on as before.
The investment bankers practice the same businesses that nearly drove the world to the abyss a short while ago. Even worse, they now do their business with billions wangled out of the state as emergency relief. In the world of criminal law, such brazen impudent conduct can have massive consequences like imprisonment on account of the danger of repetition. However the financial world thinks more state billions are due. Its motto is: enough is not enough.
The state was obviously only treated as a useful idiot by parts of the moribund financial management. The state should pull the assailed flagship of financial management into its dock, repair the ship with enormous sums of money and set out again on the capitalist ocean. It seems to function that way. The little taxpayers pay for the repair so the old crew and the old passengers can take the ole course again. If that is really true, we witness the greatest fraud of world history.
The banks are "system-relevant," the state said when it rescued the banks. Some are working in a system-destructive way, not system-relevant. Financial management destroys trust in democracy. The democratic state helps because it does not properly resist. The time is right for a democracy alarm.
"The Quiet Coup" by Simon Johnson: