Sovereign Debt

88 Fleet Street 88 Fleet Street, EC4Y 1DH London

States found a way out of their self-made dilemma that taxing companies, on the one hand, provides them with the conditions of their economic success and, on the other hand, takes from them the very means of this success: money. Contrary to popular belief the growing mountain of debt is not a result of incompetent politicians and frivolous spending. Instead, with sovereign debt states made themselves independent from the confines of wealth already earned in their societies to provide the conditions of future growth.

For many years this worked. States owe debts, lots of it and on an increasing scale. Now, sovereign debt is in crisis and countries compete against each other to convince investors that their respective national economies are still worthy and secure investments.

In this workshop we don't want to focus directly on the current crisis but ask what is in crisis. We want to present and discuss what sovereign debt is, how it works, who the investors are and what makes sovereign debt an interesting investment to them.

Based on this we want to critique two common misconceptions. The first one is the notion of an “objective constraint” which posits that states have no choice but to fulfil the demands of finance capital against them. This notion misses that the premise of these demands is that states furnish and maintain a world where such demands can be made. Secondly, we want to show that criticising sovereign debt and bailouts as a redistribution from the bottom to the top trivialises how our lives are subjected to the calculations of profit – in and outside the financial sphere.

This event is part of a series

Austerity

88 Fleet Street 88 Fleet Street, EC4Y 1DH London

In this workshop we want to present and discuss what the bedroom tax has to do with the UK's AAA rating, why benefit cap is an apt austerity measure even though it only affects a small minority of people, why the government puts pressure on people to find work in a time of mass unemployment and why the government's agitation against “benefit scroungers” is agitation not only against people on benefits but also against other workers.

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Taxes

88 Fleet Street 88 Fleet Street, EC4Y 1DH London

That austerity is somehow related to how the state finances itself is well known. It then presents a bit of a riddle how someone with the power to raise taxes – i.e. chooses how much money to earn – can be in trouble with paying the bills. Indeed, one response to austerity – by groups like UK Uncut and beyond – is to remind the state of its tax raising powers and to demand “tax the rich” to plug the hole in public finances. So why isn't this happening?

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