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Economics no image

Published on May 8th, 2012 | by Adam Hall
Image © [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="567" caption="© artemuestra"][/caption]   Anyone who wasn’t familiar with names of Moody’s and Fitch, Standard and Poor's and their ilk before 2008 is almost certainly familiar with them now. The ratings agencies as they are so informally known have become as much a part of our political discourse as the standard discussions about the role of the Prime Minister and his cabinet. Like all political sceptics I have always been incensed by the way that a single sentence from any of these agencies seems to send Government ministers into hysterical fits and plunges national markets into bouts of paralysis. How can it be that when a private firm (i.e. a business like any other) warns us that Britain is on a ‘negative outlook’ that the FTSE drops, our Chancellor gets all hot and sweaty and the Opposition rub their hands with glee? Surely they are no better placed to judge our economic plight than the Office of National Statistics, the Office for Budget Responsibility or the IMF (all of whom I hold in much greater esteem then those careerist economics graduates at the agencies)? Well apparently they are, and not only that but now they are of such prestige and might that they are on the cusp of influencing election results. You know the ones where members of the public of sovereign nations vote on which party they want to hold an elected office at either national or local level?  It seems that the agencies are afraid of a ‘perfect political storm’ in which voters in Britain, Greece, France, Italy and Germany will in the next few years have the potential to undermine the cosy (i.e. slow) economic malaise which has griped Europe. Apparently we voters are so dangerous in our anger at the political establishment that we may stupidly vote for extremist parties, some of which (horror upon horror) do not recognise the authority of the agencies and will pursue their own costly and damaging economic policies. I’m not here to argue about whether the agencies are right, or even whether the electorate can be trusted (these issues I think will keep for another day). What I going to argue with is the seemingly unquestioned assertion that they have the moral superiority to warn us sneeringly about our electoral prospects. It has never and shall never be the prerogative of agencies to dictate our election results to us. I refuse as member of the sovereign nation of Great Britain to be told that my actions will fundamentally harm the globalised economic model. This is an affront to my democratic right and a hideous blackmail attempt to preserve the current economic order. I have no desire to bring about a second catastrophic global economic meltdown, I do not feel it was my fault in the first place (I suspect though that the agencies would disagree with that) and I resent the implication that they should even consider their comments to be either appropriate or in any way relevant. What these unelected and unaccountable business men and women will learn is that democracy like all great beliefs must not be tampered with but by those who universally invest in it. As a voter I am sovereign in my choice, it will not ever be dictated by an unelected official who works out of an office block and spends their lunch breaks deciding which countries economic track record they should trash next. Whilst I think the work of such firms (who run at substantial profits from interested parties who themselves are not free from political or economic bias) are inherently unethical, this is not my primary concern. My greatest wish now is that they withdraw from the electoral debates, withdraw into insignificance and respect what little elements of democracy remain in Europe. The alternative is a grave prospect that we as voters must not allow ourselves to consider. A world in which unelected firms decide the outcomes of elections. In which politicians owe their victories not just to their backers and voters, but to an agency which rates their allegiance to neo-liberal economics with letters of the alphabet. To sum up I urge us to downgrade their relevance in our democratic choices to JUNK. A measure I’m sure will not be lost on Moody’s in its blissful irony.

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The Outside Track: Interest Rates and The Real Power in Politics

© artemuestra

 

Anyone who wasn’t familiar with names of Moody’s and Fitch, Standard and Poor’s and their ilk before 2008 is almost certainly familiar with them now. The ratings agencies as they are so informally known have become as much a part of our political discourse as the standard discussions about the role of the Prime Minister and his cabinet.

Like all political sceptics I have always been incensed by the way that a single sentence from any of these agencies seems to send Government ministers into hysterical fits and plunges national markets into bouts of paralysis. How can it be that when a private firm (i.e. a business like any other) warns us that Britain is on a ‘negative outlook’ that the FTSE drops, our Chancellor gets all hot and sweaty and the Opposition rub their hands with glee? Surely they are no better placed to judge our economic plight than the Office of National Statistics, the Office for Budget Responsibility or the IMF (all of whom I hold in much greater esteem then those careerist economics graduates at the agencies)?

Well apparently they are, and not only that but now they are of such prestige and might that they are on the cusp of influencing election results. You know the ones where members of the public of sovereign nations vote on which party they want to hold an elected office at either national or local level?  It seems that the agencies are afraid of a ‘perfect political storm’ in which voters in Britain, Greece, France, Italy and Germany will in the next few years have the potential to undermine the cosy (i.e. slow) economic malaise which has griped Europe. Apparently we voters are so dangerous in our anger at the political establishment that we may stupidly vote for extremist parties, some of which (horror upon horror) do not recognise the authority of the agencies and will pursue their own costly and damaging economic policies.

I’m not here to argue about whether the agencies are right, or even whether the electorate can be trusted (these issues I think will keep for another day). What I going to argue with is the seemingly unquestioned assertion that they have the moral superiority to warn us sneeringly about our electoral prospects. It has never and shall never be the prerogative of agencies to dictate our election results to us. I refuse as member of the sovereign nation of Great Britain to be told that my actions will fundamentally harm the globalised economic model. This is an affront to my democratic right and a hideous blackmail attempt to preserve the current economic order.

I have no desire to bring about a second catastrophic global economic meltdown, I do not feel it was my fault in the first place (I suspect though that the agencies would disagree with that) and I resent the implication that they should even consider their comments to be either appropriate or in any way relevant. What these unelected and unaccountable business men and women will learn is that democracy like all great beliefs must not be tampered with but by those who universally invest in it. As a voter I am sovereign in my choice, it will not ever be dictated by an unelected official who works out of an office block and spends their lunch breaks deciding which countries economic track record they should trash next.

Whilst I think the work of such firms (who run at substantial profits from interested parties who themselves are not free from political or economic bias) are inherently unethical, this is not my primary concern. My greatest wish now is that they withdraw from the electoral debates, withdraw into insignificance and respect what little elements of democracy remain in Europe. The alternative is a grave prospect that we as voters must not allow ourselves to consider. A world in which unelected firms decide the outcomes of elections. In which politicians owe their victories not just to their backers and voters, but to an agency which rates their allegiance to neo-liberal economics with letters of the alphabet. To sum up I urge us to downgrade their relevance in our democratic choices to JUNK. A measure I’m sure will not be lost on Moody’s in its blissful irony.

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