The decade of living dangerously: CEOs and capitalism Jayati Ghosh

This has been quite a decade for global corporate leaders, volatile not only in terms of their actual fortunes, but perhaps even more so with respect to the shifting perceptions of society. When the decade began, large corporations and those at their helm were at the peak of their power, flush with riches delivered by the dotcom boom in the US economy as well as the vast opportunities created by easier access to global markets. Along with economic wealth came social approbation. The glorification of business leaders became the norm, not only in the US and other developed countries, but…

Corporate Catharsis Jayati Ghosh

Another day, another Wall Street scandal. The regularity and frequency with which "bad news" is coming out of the corporate world in the US, involving some of the giants of international business, is almost laughable. Each week, at least one major company is being forced to reveal that it has been involved in financial irregularities, often of breathtaking extent. Some companies "forget" to record their losses, or record them as loans to specially created subsidiaries. Other companies "just happen" to slip in normal expenses as "capital expenses", thereby removing them from the profit-and-loss account. In some instances, important flows of…

Shadowy Corporate Dealings Cast Shadows Over Workers’ Well Being

In the world of the nineties and after, where cutthroat competition is the reigning dictum and the corporate sector has seen major upheavals, workers' well being increasingly is treated as a rather superfluous concern that can be sacrificed as per convenience. This is true not only for the less developed economies, but also for the developed countries where workers' protection was supposedly operating at much higher levels. The growing number of job losses itself gives an indication of this emerging phenomenon. In an additional threat to workers' protection, we have new instances of corporate bankruptcies which are ever more frequent,…

The Merrill Episode: The myth of market self-governance C.P. Chandrasekhar

On April 26, David Komansky, chief executive of Merrill Lynch, one of the "big players" in world financial markets, apologised for a possible instance of breach of trust in the work of Merrill's stock research division. "We have failed to live up to the high standards that are our tradition, and I want to take this opportunity to publicly apologise to our clients, our shareholders and our employees," Mr Komansky said at the annual meeting of America's largest broker. Komansky's apology came in the wake of incessant pressure from Eliot Spitzer, the feisty New York attorney-general, who had launched investigations…

Return to Public Control, even if it’s not yet Renationalisation

There is growing evidence that the part-privatisation or sale of public utilities in the 1990s by governments that said they could no longer afford to put down money, neither ensured a cheap or efficient service for customers nor did it free governments of the burden of subsidy. The bluntest admission of the growing disenchantment with private-control of utilities and services has been voiced by New Zealand's Deputy Prime Minister┬áJim Anderton. Taxpayers in New Zealand, the United States and Britain have bailed out flopped companies or those teetering on the brink of bankruptcy. New Zealand's flag carrier, Britain's partly-privatised air traffic…

Hearings Reveal Enron at Center of California Energy Crisis Andrea Cappannari

In a hearing before the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee on April 11, California Public Utilities Commission President Loretta Lynch and California Power Authority Chairman S. David Freeman charged that Enron Corporation's manipulation of the energy market was at the root of California's energy crisis last year. According to authorities, by late 2000 Enron oversaw 30 percent of energy bought and sold in the state's deregulated market, giving it enormous leverage over supply and pricing. California is currently demanding Enron and other energy suppliers refund the state $8.9 billion because of unfair trading practices. Wenonah Hauter, from the watchdog…

Resistance to Neoliberalism, War and Militarism: For peace and social justice Call of Social Movements from Porto Alegre II

1) In the face of continuing deterioration in the living conditions of people, we, social movements from all around the world, have come together in the tens of thousands at the second World Social Forum in Porto Alegre. We are here in spite of the attempts to break our solidarity. We come together again to continue our struggles against neoliberalism and war, to confirm the agreements of the last Forum and to reaffirm that another world is possible. 2) We are diverse - women and men, adults and youth, indigenous peoples, rural and urban, workers and unemployed, homeless, the elderly,…