Monday, August 24, 2009

Slaves to debt

In a previous post I mention some intriguing and profound dialogue in the movie, The International that I saw on a flight to Hong Kong. Well guess what?
I just flew Brisbane-LA and so I watched the beginning of the movie again. It made a bit more sense second time around. I wrote down the dialogue I found so intriguing.

An Interpol investigator (Clive Owen) and a NY Assistant District Attorney (Naomi Watts) are trying to figure out what the IBBC bank is really up to. All they know is that the bank is suspected of money laundering and whoever starts to find out too much ends up dead. The investigators meet with an arms manufactor (Calvini) who explains what the bank is doing.
Investigator: Mr. Calvini, Why is the IBBC committing so much of its capital and resources to financing small arms deals?

Calvini: IBBC wants to be the exclusive broker of Chinese small arms to third world conflicts.

Investigator: But why would such a bank commit billions of dollars to simply control the third world arms trade?

Calvini: This is not about making profit. It is about control.

Investigator: So this is about controlling the flow of weapons. He who controls the weapons flow controls the conflict?

Calvini: No. No. IBBC is a bank. Their objective is not to control the conflict but to control the debt that the conflict produces. The true value of the conflict is the debt it creates. You control the debt, you control everything. You find this very upsetting. But this is the very essence of the banking industry. Its goal, whether we are nations or individuals is to make us all slaves to debt.
An hour later Calvini is assasinated.....

and just so you don't think IBBC is all Hollywood fantasy consider the story of the real BCCI
and controversial allegations made in the book, Confessions of an economic hitman.

1 comment:

  1. I've often considered what would be the outcome here if China were to call in all the American debt, or even simply refuse further lending. I was shocked when I first learned that it was China who was financing the bulk of America's debt. I also found it ironic, since that was one of the means by which the English settlers were able to obtain land from the Native Americans - letting them borrow in anticipation of future furs acquired. When the numbers of furry critters dwindled, the natives found themselves holding a bill and no means to pay. Thus they began forfeiting territory. Of course it would never be that simple in this global economy. There is a sense in which China needs us too, in which our collapse is their collapse. It is so strange, I must say, having grown up an American during the cold war, to find my nation so soon in bed with the greatest remaining communist power. They say politics makes for strange bedfellows, but it's clear to me that economics is no better.