Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Pretty standard, actually

People are still aflutter over a financier saying candidly in a BBC interview that "governments don't rule the world; Goldman Sachs rules the world." Some have suggested the interview was part of a series of pranks by The Yes Men, an anti-globalization activist group, but the BBC is standing by its source.

The thing is, the statement about Goldman Sachs is simply a part of the general paranoid's worldview. Google something like "Goldman Sachs conspiracy" or "Goldman Sachs +NWO" and you'll get an eyeful.

In fact, the notion that Goldman Sachs, like other mammoth global corporations, has more power than most governments in some spheres isn't even really a paranoid fantasy, but one of those notions whose half-truth makes it all the more believable, without actually being true. Put another way, it's like people who write Cris (who does tenants' rights counseling by email) "Can the landlord do this or that??" She usually answers, The landlord can do anything, but whether or not you can then object to it before the rent board, or sue the landlord, is another issue. Goldman Sachs can and will do anything it wants to, in certain spheres. The question is whether it is possible to hold anyone accountable for its decisions, or whether any government has the political will to do so.

Of course, there's also something anti-Semitic about saying "Goldman Sachs rules the world" without making a broader statement about banks and financial firms in general.

Watching the video, I thought that in the first half he did come across a little like a prankster. But by the end I thought no, he's just a young guy who is nervous about being so candid. I believe he's real. (And maybe not even anti-Semitic. He was speaking off the cuff; maybe "Goldman Sachs" is simply a way of saying "the largest, most powerful multi-national financial institutions.")

Update the next day: Apparently the fellow who made those statements isn't much of a financier or a trader at all, but an "attention seeker." Actually that doesn't make what he said any less true; it's what a lot of people believe. While I'm sure the BBC is embarrassed for giving air time to someone who turns out to be no more authoritative on the state of the world economy than any other idiot, that doesn't mean he wasn't right about a lot of things.

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