[OPE] Fw: Rothkopf on the superclass

From: Jurriaan Bendien (adsl675281@telfort.nl)
Date: Sat May 17 2008 - 11:39:47 EDT

Change is in the air for financial superclass

By David Rothkopf 
Published: May 15 2008 19:26 | Last updated: May 15 2008 19:26

Of the world's elites, none has flown higher than those who have led the financial community. The re-engineering of international finance has been one of the transformational trends of our times - in just a quarter-century, capital flows became massive, instantan­eous and controlled by a new breed of traders representing a handful of major financial institutions from a few countries. Their rewards have transcended any in history as shown by an estimate by Alpha Magazine that the top hedge fund manager last year made $3bn.

The concentration of power has also steadily grown. The top 50 financial institutions control almost $50,000bn (£25,600bn) in assets, roughly a third of the global total. Ten thousand hedge funds are estimated to account for 30-50 per cent of all equities trading worldwide but the top 100 control 60 per cent of hedge fund assets. (...) Several recent developments suggest that the financial crisis could signal the high-water mark of power for this group.

First, the crisis is prompting a re-regulatory drive. The power of financial elites had been evident in their ability to argue that global financial markets and markets in new securities should remain "self-regulating" (how many of them would hop into a self-regulating taxicab?), then when crisis comes - as with mortgage-backed securities - these champions of less government involvement have then persuaded governments to cauterise their wounds. Now, however, there are encouraging, if preliminary, signs of a push towards more effective collaboration between governments - the first steps towards creating the much needed checks on global markets that exist within nations. This could erode the agility of financial elites to play governments off against each other, with the weakest regulator setting the rules.

Second, the credit crisis is exacerbating the emerging backlash against corporate excess . Elites make billions on markets whether they go up or down and their institutions win government support while the little guy loses his home. Multinational chief executives 30 years ago made 35 times the wages of an average employee; today it is more than 350 times. The crisis has focused attention on the obscene inequities of this era - the world's 1,100 richest people have almost twice the assets of the poorest 2.5bn. There are signs of open and growing anger at this, as we have seen this week in the Netherlands with calls to address bonuses, and the attack on the world's financial markets as "a monster that must be tamed" from Horst Köhler, the German president.

Complete article http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/406952f2-2297-11dd-93a9-000077b07658.html


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