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1% of the population/households owns about a half of the stock.  Noam Chomsky, lecture 1999, ‘Case Studies in Hypocrisy: US Human Rights Policy, Rhetoric and Practice

 

 

Since the 60s news from the City has mattered to more and more people.  Between St Paul’s and Tower Bridge lies the City of London and its marketplaces.  No-one makes anything here except money.  For this is capitalism’s heart: one square mile of offices, typewriters and telephones.  Inside Story: The Market, BBC 1976

 

Banks: there are over 250 of them in the City.  ibid.

 

The Stock Exchange in its fine new plumage is capitalism’s holy of holies.  ibid.

 

‘The need of a constantly expanding market for its products chases the bourgeoisie over the entire surface of the globe.  It must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connexions everywhere.’  ibid.  Karl Marx

 

‘The largest foreign exchange market in the world.’  ibid.

 

At the heart of non-life insurance are men of substance called Lloyds of London.  A Lloyds underwriter makes his living from betting you your disaster won’t happen.  If it does, the underwriter who’s put his name to the risk must pay out down to the shirt on his back.  ibid.  

 

Every day the discount houses scour the banks for idle money.  ibid.

 

The health of the market is monitored with a morbid precision.  ibid.

 

 

‘Most Americans Today Believe the Stock Market is Rigged, and They’re right!’  New research shows insider trading is everywhere.  So far, no one seems to care.  Bloomberg online article, cited Keiser Show 7th October 2021

 

 

The GameStop Reckoning Was a Long Time Coming: This week, gleeful online hoards turned the stock market upside down.  This shouldn’t come as a surprise … on what the author Martin Gurri calls ‘the revolt of the public’.  New York Time online article February 2021

 

Smartphone-based trading apps like Robinhood changed that by introducing commission-free trades and an interface that made executing a gamma squeeze as straightforward as ordering a burrito from Uber Eats.  Suddenly, millions of amateurs could organise themselves, generate their own market research and investment theses, drum up excitement in Reddit threads and TikTok videos, and enter the casino with the big boys.  ibid. 

 

 

‘In every stock-jobbing swindle everyone knows that some time or other the crash must come, but everyone hopes that it may fall on the head of his neighbour.  ‘Après moi le déluge!’ is the watchword of every capitalist.’  Karl Marx

 

 

The stock market is not the economy, and the economy is not the stock market.  Kai Ryssdal, economist, September 2008

 

 

As Capone diversified he nonetheless cautioned everyone against investing in the booming stock market.  It’s a racket, he said.  Ken Burns & Lynn Novick, Prohibition IV: A Sea of Rum, PBS 2011

 

 

Somehow, I don’t think Jesus came to Earth to ring the bell at the New York Stock Exchange.  Michael Moore

 

 

When someone comes to write a history of the Great Thatcher Decade (the 1980s), one of their basic texts should be a little book by a former City Editor of The Times, William Kay.  Mr Kay called his book Tycoons, and based it on thirteen interviews with men who made millions in the early 1980s.

 

One of the self-made men was Gerald Ronson, whose Heron Corporation was unheard of when he launched his first ‘brilliant, daring’ takeover bid in 1981.  Ronson told Kay that Heron was a ‘very conservative business.’  He said he didn’t take risks, he just bet on certainties.  What’s more, he kept strictly within the law.  ‘There are plenty of crooks in the petrol business,’ he told Kay, ‘but they don’t come to work for us.’

 

This was surprising because perhaps the biggest crook of them all was Gerald Ronson.  He made his fortune not so much by ‘daring’ bids but by gambling on the stock exchange.  His greatest gamble was in 1986 when his friend, the super-swindler Sir Jack Lyons, asked him to buy some shares in Guinness to boost the share price in the firm’s takeover of Distillers.  Ronson obliged with a cool £25 million.  He lost not a penny on this investment of course, but as a reward for stumping up so much at an awkward time Guinness slipped him a personal donation of £7 million.

 

Ronson and Lyons were only caught when the biggest swindler of them all, the American stock exchange gangster Boesky, grassed on them to save his skin.  The crooked transactions by which Ronson and Lyons rigged the institutions they loved could not possibly have been exposed by ordinary journalists since there was no public record of them whatsoever.

 

Ronson and Lyons were not ‘rotten apples’ in the capitalist barrel, as has been pretended.  On the contrary they were both very close to the grandest apple of them all, the prime minister.  Lyons was a personal friend, and Thatcher’s two closest advisers, Tim Bell and Gordon Reece, both in their own right entrepreneurs of the kind she admires, were paid advisers to Guinness at the time.

 

The ruthlessness with which Thatcher and her cronies pursued the values of free enterprise did not extend to obeying the rules laid down by that free enterprise.  Indeed, in a way, one of the central tenets of that free enterprise was that its devotees should feel free to make up their own rules.  Paul Foot, article November 1990, ‘All Fall Down’

 

The stories of Ronson, Gunn and Ashcroft have been repeated over and over again in the last twelve months.  Celebrated Thatcherite entrepreneurs like Sophie Mirman of Sock Shop, George Davies of Next, Azil Nadir of Polly Peck, have all come crashing down.  Harris Queensway, the brainchild of another Thatcher knight, the carpet king Sir Phil Harris, is now bust (though Harris himself sold out well before the disaster, for a little matter of £60 million).

 

Even the two top spokesmen for the Thatcher miracle – Murdoch and Maxwell – are in desperate trouble.  Scandal after scandal has rocked the City: Barlow Clowes, Dunsdale, Ferranti.  What does it all mean?  ibid.

 

 

The answer has its roots in the other major social development of the 1980s: the enrichment of the rich.  This has been so stupendous as to defy statistics.  In all the countries of the world, including the poor countries, the rich have been enjoying the greatest bonanza ever.  The top 10 per cent of incomes in the United States of America, already far, far ahead of the rest of the population, increased their share of the wealth by another 7 per cent.  In Britain the value of shares on the stock exchange multiplied five times between 1983 and 1987, and even the stock exchange crash of 1987 did not stop the fantastic accumulation of riches for the already super-rich.

 

Old-fashioned ideas, especially in publicly owned state industries, that the chairmen and managing directors should keep their earnings down as an example to their workers, vanished.  As the public utilities in Britain were turned, ‘in the interests of competition’, from public monopolies to private monopolies, the chairmen and directors rewarded themselves for what they assessed as their ‘true worth’ – and promptly doubled and tripled their salaries.  Enormous fortunes were flaunted by the millionaires’ press.  At the start of the decade there were only a handful of billionaires in the world: at the end there were 157.  Millionaires increased four times – from half a million to two million.

 

Tax-cutting everywhere aided the process.  The highest rate of income tax in Britain was cut from 83 per cent at the start of the decade to 40 per cent at the end.  With this went cuts in all the taxes which affected the rich: corporation tax, capital gains tax, inheritance tax.  The poll tax, in abolishing property rates, put further millions into the pockets of the already rich.  Paul Foot, The Case for Socialism ch4

 

 

Just the usual ebb and flow of the stock market.  It appears I’m the victim of an unscrupulous broker.  Boardwalk Empire s4e9: Marriage and Hunting, Rothstein, HBO 2013

 

 

By rigging the game of course.  What else is the Stock Market good for?  Boadwalk Empire s5e3: What Jesus Said   

 

 

The uncertainties were over.  There seemed little doubt about what was going to happen.  America was going on the greatest gaudiest spree in history, and there was going to be plenty to tell about it.  F Scott Fitzgerald, Early Success

 

 

Occupy Wall Street means making Wall Street and the corporate power elite understand that the people affected by the binge of unregulated greed are not going away, and they are not going to give up.  Dana Spiotta

 

 

The Stock Market was down more than 6,000 points.  Frontline: Money, Power and Wall Street III, PBS 2012

 

 

In today’s world real power lies in the hands of an elite group of anonymous men in open-plan offices.  The men who control the world’s bond market … Bonds are the magical link between the world of high finance and the world of political power.  Niall Ferguson, The Ascent of Money e2: Human Bondage  

 

After the rise of banks the birth of the bond market was the next big revolution in the history of finance.  It created a whole new way for governments to borrow money.  ibid.

 

There are bonds out there worth around $85 trillion.  ibid.

 

Between around 1810 and 1836 the five sons of Meyer Amschel Rothschild rose from the obscurity of the Frankfurt ghetto to attain a position of unequalled power in international finance.  ibid.

 

The South’s idea was to use cotton as collateral to back its bonds.  ibid.

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