Sunday, January 27, 2008

Gamblers and 'market forces'

I make no apologies for reproducing below the whole of Tony Probert's letter 'Our economic future in the hands of gamblers' from the Bristol Evening Post, Friday 25 Jan. I've done it because I share his view exactly and have considered posting on it several times. What is going on in Davos (and in particular in France at bank Societe Generale) at present provides ample evidence to back what he says.

What a bizarre economic system we live under. Our very livelihoods depend upon the reactions of "the market", as though it were a supernatural entity hovering somewhere in an ethereal vacuum untouched or influenced by mankind.Let's get it straight - "the market" consists of "human" gamblers who wager vast amounts of money in their quest to make a quick buck.When they get cold feet, they withdraw their money by selling their holdings back to "the market" - very much like a poker player throwing in his hand.Their withdrawals are rapidly matched by their fellow gamblers, and very quickly panic sets in and the bottom falls out of "the market".This has been happening over the past month or two, and the effects are now being felt around the world. with the word "recession" being repeatedly heard.The media have been talking up a recession since the sub-prime mortgage problems emerged in America last September, and now their prophesies have borne fruit with the world's stock markets plummeting as more and more "gamblers" pull out.The upshot of all this is that millions and millions of people who have never gambled in this way are subjected to what is euphemistically called "market forces", and lose their jobs as the share price of their companies falls to such an extent as to make trading impossible.Meanwhile, until a warm feeling seeps back into the gamblers' bones and they start gambling again, the taxpayer gets stung to the tune of billions of pounds as governments use their money to subsidise the gamblers' losses in an attempt to lure them back to gamble their money once more.Margaret Thatcher once said, "you can't buck the markets", and this situation will continue until governments acknowledge that they have been elected to look after the interests of all of the people, and not just those who - through their reckless urge for riches - dictate economic policy across the world.

Tony Probert,Locking,near Weston-super-Mare.


  1. Every vote for more government control, higher taxation and centralisation is a just as much a gamble as any stock-market transaction.

    The only difference is that speculators gamble with their own money, whereas voters and politicians gamble with other peoples' money.

  2. I cant agree with your sentiments James. Government's are elected by us, speculators are not. You seem to assume that the letter or my support for it can only mean more government control, higher taxation and centralisation.

    People can and should instead vote for the empowerment of individuals and communities, radically decentralised government, higher taxation for those whose income is already very high and lower taxes for those on low incomes - that's what I want.

    I'd like to know how speculators are accountable to the voters.

    Was the man at Societe Generale gambling with his own money recently - certainly not. Was Nick Leeson gambling with his own money at Barings Bank in the 1990's?


Genuine, open, reasonable debate is most welcome. Comments that meet this test will always be published.