Japanese banking reconstruction

Chris Burford cburford at gn.apc.org
Wed Jul 1 23:29:45 PDT 1998

I want to catch the moment, and ask for more informed comments, when Japan appears to have addressed the need a) to accept the destruction of large parts of its old capital and b) to use public finance to re-establish confidence in its banking system to allow trade to proceed.

The announcement, coincidentally on the first anniversary of the Asian financial crisis (the devaluation of the Thai bhat - sp?) is of a bridging bank. I submit the announcement can be analysed in marxist terms.

The BBC reports that the bridging bank will take over the responsibilities of a large number of banks that have failed (largely because of a fall in the capital value of property assets). The aim is to permit trading. If no commercial buyer is found within 2 years, they will be nationalised.

It is assumed that this project will cost large amounts of public money (presumably from taxes). This is not unusual in capitalist economies. Reference was made to the bank solvency crises in the USA in the 80's. Also to Finland where it required 17% of GDP to reorganise its banking system. It is implied that Japanese financial reconstruction will require a very substantial proportion of GDP.

The Communist Manifesto asks: "And how does the bourgeoisie get over these crises? On the one hand by the enforced destruction of a mass of productive forces; on the other, by the conquest of new markets, and by the more thorough exploitation of the old ones."

That large parts of old Japanese capital have already been discounted is part of the destruction of a mass of the productive forces, together with unemployment, idle factories, unlet office blocks.

The phenomena also illustrate what I submit is implicit in the marxist analysis but to the best of my knowledge is more emphasised by green radical economists, that credit, - the sanction to issue credit - is a social phenomenon. It is socially sanctioned, approved and regulated. (As can be seen from the temples to capital that occupy prestigious sites in all cities - I mean the banks)

At crises we see that the society, under the control of the bourgeoisie, reorganises on a social level those institutions of credit. And what also underlies today's agenda, is the extent to which the capitalist governments of the world have been organising to press Japan to take such steps, probably with various hidden deals, pressures and inducements. Because while the west has benefitted so far from the Asian financial crisis, it is now poised to suffer if the world economy contracts.

Underneath the neo-liberal global agenda the capitalists know that capital may be privately owned, but in order for it to be privately owned, it must be socially controlled.

How long can they keep the secret quiet?

Chris Burford


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