Thursday, 18 September 2008

Petition (Avaaz)

On Monday Lehman Brothers, one of the world's biggest investment banks, went bust with debts of $613 billion, and other institutions and markets are plunging. Many are calling this the worst moment since the Crash of 1929 -- the global financial crisis is at the tipping point, and citizens everywhere must raise our voice for action in the public interest.[1] Our jobs, savings, pensions and public services are in danger because of the financiers' folly -- now the snowballing crisis risks triggering a global recession, hurting the poor most and drowning out all the other issues we care about. Trillions of public money are being staked to stop a global meltdown, but no-one’s addressed the basic causes yet -- so we’re launching an urgent campaign for regulation to stop the financiers’ risky practices, which have saddled the world with unsustainable levels of debt and risk.[2] A former prime minister has promised to help deliver our call to European leaders next week, we’ll bring it to US Congress and the next president too -- but we need a massive outcry to get them moving -- so please follow the link below now to sign the petition, then forward it widely to friends and family:
Global financial markets sometimes seem untameable -- but the rules that govern them are full of simple flaws and loopholes, and if we seize this moment and act together we can fix them. Cut free by deregulation and driven by greed, the financiers built up huge debts and risks without proper oversight, seeking short-term returns from tax dodges and engineering spaghetti-like financial complexity. Left without decent rules, they thought they could make up their own, and the profits rolled in for a wealthy few -- then it all came tumbling down, with the rest of us left to pay the price for the failure of their dangerous games. Even champions of the free market are now calling for better regulation.[3] We're finding powerful allies flocking to the cause, like former Danish Prime Minister Poul Rasmussen who's pledged to take our campaign to fellow European politicians at a key vote on proposals for global financial reform next Tuesday, saying "By taking action on this issue, Avaaz members can show European and world leaders the strength of public support for more transparency and better regulation. Reform of our financial markets is a vital step towards a fairer globalisation -- and your voice can help to make it happen."[4] Last week the US effectively nationalised its biggest mortgage providers, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac; last night, it did the same to the world's biggest insurance company, AIG. Still the crisis rolls on. Adjustments are inevitable, but if we fail to address the fundamental causes of the financial crisis global recession will be deep and long, and future disasters even bigger. For too long we've left global finance alone because it seemed too complicated for ordinary mortals to get a grip on; but it turns out that common sense and public scrutiny were needed after all.These markets touch the life and heart of every one of us, from the shop-floor worker to the chief executive, the woman giving birth in hospital to the pensioner facing a penniless old age. Society doesn't end where the market begins -- and with leaders apparently paralysed, our voices are urgently needed to help set a course beyond this crisis. So sign the emergency campaign today at this link, and forward this message to family and friends who might be affected too:
With hope and determination,Paul, Graziela, Ricken, Ben, Iain, Veronique, Brett, Pascal, Milena and the whole Avaaz team
Reuters: "Lehman fallout threatens global recession
For a detailed and authoritative explanation of the debt explosion and the dangers of complexity, see the Annual Report of the Bank for International Settlements (30 June 2008), particularly the introduction and conclusion:
Financial Times: "The end of lightly regulated finance", Martin Wolf, 6 May 2008."Seven habits finance regulators must acquire", 6 May 2008."Six principles for a new regulatory order", Lawrence Summers (former US Treasury Secretary), 2 June 2008
Avaaz met with Poul Rasmussen and other European and American progressives yesterday to coordinate our efforts. Among the key proposals are "capital requirements" (holding sufficient funds to back loans or debts) and "transparency" (telling regulators, investors and the public what you own and what you owe). For more background, see this interview:
Also: "Financial markets can not govern us", letter from Poul Nyrup Rasmussen and other former European presidents, prime ministers and finance ministers to European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, 19 May 2008:
ABOUT is an independent, not-for-profit global campaigning organization that works to ensure that the views and values of the world's people inform global decision-making. (Avaaz means "voice" in many languages.) Avaaz receives no money from governments or corporations, and is staffed by a global team based in London, Rio de Janeiro, New York, Paris, Washington DC, and Geneva.
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