Finance & the Economy

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership


An oft told tale at the start of international economic law modules is the failure of the Havana Charter of 1946 to establish the International Trade Organisation (ITO). Unlike its sister the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Group, the ITO failed to launch. This failure was largely down to the US’s reluctance to…

The TTIP: Back to the future?


In 1954 the ordo-​liberal economist1 W. Roepke was invited in the Hague to deliver a paper on the relation between (neoliberal) economics and international law. In this instructive speech entitled ‘Economic Order and International Law’2 Roepke observed that the 19th century being par excellence the time of economic liberalism lacked international legal documents on free trade,…

International Law 1914/​2014


Looking back to mid-​1914 from mid-​2014, it is hard to see beyond the piles of bodies. History barely seems up to the task of grappling with this tumultuous interstice. Perhaps, rather than approaching this interval as a sequence of historical contexts, we might conceive of it – and our relationship to it – in terms of a welter of styles, or…

Blockupy plan to disrupt ECB opening


The opening of the new European Central Bank headquarters should not take place without protests across the board in 2014. The Blockupy Alliance has called for disruption of the opening, planned for sometime in December 2014, with a foretaste coming with a week of action in May 2014. Around 450 Blockupy supporters met at the weekend in Frankfurt…

Sovereignty Regained? Ireland Exits the EU-​IMF Bailout


The bailout will soon be over. No longer will Ireland have to be subjected to the interference of external powers in its affairs. No more humiliating conditionalities imposed by mild-​mannered Troika functionaries with a stern economic vision. Instead, thanks to the credit facilities supplied by KfW Entwicklungsbank, which is mostly owned by the German federal government, Ireland will…

Critical Finance Law

Finance is Enlightenment's reenchantment of the world - within its labyrinthine corridors lie such becomings-animal that would devour our future imperfect.

Finance and teleology Critical finance law is the study of one of the most significant teloi of the modern era: the settlement of debt. Why is the settlement of debt a telos? Well it is perhaps no surprise that just as the Scholastic concept of the causa finalis, or final cause, was being questioned and would…

Euro Stability Mechanism proposes transfer of Greek assets to Luxembourg


The European Commission has been forced to rebuff a proposal by the Eurozone’s new bailout fund, the ESM, that Greek assets be transferred to a new Luxembourg-​based special purpose vehicle as a part of a wider privatisation scheme. The proposal, mooted by Finland in 2011, and on the radar of the IMF, was aimed at cutting through “Greek bureaucracy”…

An Ungovernable Italy: Interview with Bifo


Amador Fernández-​Savater: What is the context in which the Italian elections have taken place? Bifo: The political disintegration of Europe. Europe was born as a project of peace and social solidarity, taking up the legacy of the socialist and internationalist culture that opposed fascism. In the 90s, finance capital’s major centres of power decided to destroy the European…

A Bailout of the People by the People – Will it Work?

You're not aloan

From 15 November 2012, a part of the Occupy Movement in the U.S. led by Strike Debt will be operating a “Rolling Jubilee” which their website describes as:

“A bailout of the people by the people.

We buy debt for pennies on the dollar, but instead of collecting it, we abolish it. We cannot buy specific individuals’ debt — instead, we help liberate debtors at random through a campaign of mutual support, good will, and collective refusal.”

David Graeber, for example, has been tweeting about this enthusiastically and the Rolling Jubilee Facebook page has a picture of Slavoj Zizek holding the linked “Strike Debt” logo and a statement claiming that he too supports the campaign. My initial reaction to the plan was open-​minded bemusement and a question which I see keeps recurring on the Rolling Jubilee FB page: “How does this work?.”

Another Greek Myth: Freedom of the Press

Kostas Vaxevanis 28 Oct 2012

A warrant for Greek journalist Kostas Vaxevanis’ arrest was issued today [Ed. 28 October 2012] for the alleged crime of “violating privacy legislation” related to his bi-​weekly magazine HOT DOC which published a list of 2,059 names and associated professions of Greek nationals from the client database of HSBC in Switzerland. So, what does the Greek government…

In Germany insolvency law becomes financialised


The Amendment of the German Bankruptcy Act,1 which came into effect six months ago, has opened the door to widespread abuse alleges the industry association VID, which claims to represent more than half of liquidators. “A few influential and wealthy creditors now threaten to dominate proceedings”, the VID chairman Christoph Niering said in Berlin. “In addition,…

LIBOR (and other mythical beasts)


Martin Wheatley, British financial regulator charged with solving the LIBOR crisis, has returned from his Crusade carrying, we are told, a splinter of the True Cross which he assures us is capable of procuring miracles. Not common or garden miracles involving the lame, Galilean fish stocks, or talking asses, no. Something really impressive: announcing the actual…

Finance’s contribution to GDP — another sleight of hand?

Man Ray - Hands

Yesterday’s publication of further dismal GDP data for the UK is an opportunity to reconsider its basis as the justification for many aspects of the current neoliberal order. Bracketing out the question of whether economic growth is a valid lodestar for any just society, there comes the old but under-​frequented question1 about what constitutes growth and…

Securitisation outfit fined USD125m for obtaining false credit ratings

Mizuho Bank Head Office in Tokyp

In my previous post I asked somewhat rhetorically what else banks had felt able to do during the credit crunch if the belief had arisen that “market stability” (sc. bank survival”) trumped criminal law. The U.S. Securities and Exchnage Commission (“SEC”) has obligingly provided an example. Yesterday (19 July 2012) the Securities and Exchange Commission charged…

LIBOR: City absolutism and raison de marché

Peter the Great shaves his courtiers

What’s the difference between Monaco and the City of London? One is a micro-​territory governed by absolute fiat, hollowed out by property speculation, gambling, and the concealment of great crimes of wealth, and the other is Monaco. In case your wondering, Monaco does have branches of HSBC and Barclays, and, if you need anything tricky sorting out,…

Investment Arbitration: Restricted Area

Investment Arbitration – Restricted Area

With a Procedural Order issued on June 26th, an ICSID Arbitral Tribunal has made a decision concerning an amicus curiae petition filed on 23 May 2012 by an ensemble of Petitioners formed by an international NGO and four Zimbabwean indigenous communities. Reversing the recent trend toward transparency and participation in investment arbitration, the Panel has denied the…

The legal market has its Lehman Bros. moment

A lawyer leaving Dewey & LeBoeuf's New York offices for the last time

As partners and associates of 190 equity partner US law firm Dewey & LeBoeuf filed out of their 6th Ave. New York office, cardboard boxes of desk clutter in hand, one could not help noticing the similarities with the images of the collapse of Lehman Bros. The superficial similarity is not merely ostensible, however; the…