What Will We Think of the Banks in Years to Come?

IN this TED talk, Michael Metcalfe wonders how will we look back on banks in the future. Will we think of the banks as an unethical industry that contributed greatly to climate change or as a tool that can be used to help the environment.

Will we do whatever it takes to fight climate change? Back in 2008, following the global financial crisis, governments across the world adopted a “whatever it takes” commitment to monetary recovery, issuing $250 billion worth of international currency to stem the collapse of the economy. In this delightfully wonky talk, financial expert Michael Metcalfe suggests we can use that very same unconventional monetary tool to fund a global commitment to a green future.

8 Development Banks Combine Efforts for Sustainable Development

Eight development banks from around the world have decided the best way to encourage more sustainable transit development is to combine their efforts. They are looking at accelerating their investments in transport solutions that are better for the environment than current transport solutions. Transportation consumes a heck of a lot of oil and even marginal decreases in oil consumption can save money and reduce the rate of climate change.

In their statement, the African Development Bank (AfDB), Asian Development Bank (ADB), CAF-Development Bank of Latin America (CAF), European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), European Investment Bank (EIB), Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Islamic Development Bank (ISDB), and the World Bank (WB) pledged to speed up action on:

  • Climate Finance: MDBs have recently committed to substantially increase financing for climate change mitigation and adaptation over the next few years. Transport is expected to play a key role in that commitment.

  • Low-carbon Transport Solutions: The MDBs will increase their focus on low-carbon transport solutions and will continue to harmonize tools and metrics to assess transport-related GHG emissions.

  • Adaptation: The MDBs will jointly develop a systematic approach to mainstream climate resilience in transport policies, plans and investments.

Read more.

We Need to Hold Banks Accountable (again)

The financial sector is like a hydra and we need to get it under control. The bad news is that bankers have been able to get away with some unethical practices for the last decade or so. The good news is that finally American politicians are taking notice of this and are talking about what to do.

This discourse is needed now while the banks are stable to try to ensure that the their crazy actions don’t lead to yet another financial boondoggle.

Yes, the banks are back. As the New York Times’s Neil Irwin reported, employment has returned to 2007 levels; the gap between the pay of Wall Street workers and everyone else is back near record levels, and the profits of the financial sector are soaring.

This is, as Irwin notes, a glaring contrast to what occurred after the crash that led to the Great Depression in the 1930s. Then banks were shackled, tightly regulated and greatly diminished in scope and license. The result was decades without major financial crises, during which the economy boomed and the United States grew together, with inequality decreasing. Now, however, while Dodd-Frank reforms have forced some changes, the big banks are more concentrated than ever. They continue to profit from high leverage, exotic trades and very high risk. They remain too big to fail — and apparently the bankers are too big to jail.

More and more studies, including one by the International Monetary Fund, hardly a radical bastion, suggest that a bloated financial sector is bad for an economy. It generates destructive booms and busts. Its high pay entices the most creative to use their talents on financial schemes rather than in more productive activities. Its culture of greed corrupts not just Wall Street but also our politics and economy more generally.

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Canadians Like the Occupy Movement

Even the right-leaning Canadian press can’t disagree that the Occupy Movement is a positive thing in and of itself. A new poll reveals that almost 60% of Canadians view the movement in a positive light, while some others tend to have problems because it is “leaderless”.

It’s great to see Canadians (who have not suffered as much as their neighbours to the south) talking about the concerns that the Occupy Movement has brought up. Issues like subsidies to big oil, the problems with current financial markets, joblessness, and even democratic accountability are all being discussed in the mainstream media.

Without the Occupy Movement these issues would in all likely hood not have been brought up. You should go to your locally occupied park and see what you can do to help.

Can’t get to a local occupy camp? Here’s what you can do online.

From the Globe and Mail:

Occupy activists have pitched tents in at least eight Canadian cities, building on a protest movement that started in New York’s financial district nearly two months ago. Participants have no official demands, but are advocating for a variety of social justice and economic issues, including nationalizing Canadian banks, closing tax loopholes for the wealthy and increasing the minimum wage. Most say they are frustrated that a small number of people control most of the world’s wealth.

“For many Canadians, they might not necessarily agree with those views, but they think that they are valid. Those are legitimate concerns that are being raised about our democratic and financial system,” Mr. Nanos said.

The most significant demographic that views the Occupy movement favourably is people who are between 18 and 29 years of age, the poll found, which may be reflective of a tough job market for new workers. Nearly 73 per cent of people under 30 said they have a favourable or somewhat favourable impression of the protests.

Read the rest.

Still don’t know how to help? Here’s 10 simple ways to help the Occupy Movement.

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