25 Jul , 2019  

Michel Feher claims in his new book, Rated Agency, that capitalized capitalism, which started in 1970, is akin to a Copernican revolution in that the new regime of capital accumulation no longer focuses on industrial companies based on vertical integration and internal growth, but on this regime both companies as well as the economies that are part of it, would have to relate to the financial markets dominated by large global banks and institutional investors (and one must add from the shadow banking system).

The financialization of developed economies can be measured by the relative size of the financial sector relative to GDP, the volume of profits realized by financial institutions compared to other firms, and the portfolio incomes of non-financial firms. What’s more, beyond such indicators, which show the transfer of funds from the real economy to the speculative financial circuits that lenders distinguish today, is their power to choose those projects that deserve to be funded, which, in turn, is the ones that depend on loans, constantly prove their attractiveness to investors, and thus not only profit from their economic activities,

Above all, stock corporations must not only strive to maximize the difference between revenues and production costs over the long term but also work in the short term in favor of shareholders in increasing stock prices that are valued by the financial markets. Thus, the real success of these companies does not only result from the realization of profits made through the sale of products and services but is based on the capital gain that can also be obtained from share buybacks. However, the hedge of credit not only affects the private sector, but also refers to national governments, which now need to increase the attractiveness of their national financial capital location. In order to increase the competitiveness of their companies in a global environment in which financial capital can circulate freely, states need to make their territory as attractive as possible to international investors by safeguarding their property rights. At the same time, governments and parties are forced to organize their re-election, which, according to Feher since the 1980s, has helped states to pay more and more for issuing government bonds rather than tax, that is, fueling public debt. so as not to exaggerate the tax burden on the population and to reduce the welfare state altogether. States and their governments are constantly increasing their dependence on the financial markets, which are then praised for promoting the economic discipline of the agents they credit to the satisfaction of all. To forestall the distrust of bond markets, as expressed in rising interest rates on government bonds, governments must increase labor market flexibility, cut social programs, reduce capital taxes, and cut back on any legitimate regulation of financial markets. In the 1990s, public debt, which was supposed to compensate for the loss of tax revenue, increased to such an extent that private lenders worried about the solvency of governments,

In a typically neo-liberal manner, it was argued that citizens would be encouraged to strengthen the discipline of managing their own lives as that of a business autonomously and on their own responsibility. And the issue of creditworthiness, of course, also affects individuals who can no longer rely on long-term jobs and state-guaranteed benefits, as companies and states that are themselves dependent on the evaluation of financial investors can no longer offer long-term employment contracts and adequate benefits, so that the job-seeking individuals have to make themselves assessable, for example through well-paid subject-related skills, flexibility and sufficient networking. Your ability to find a job now becomes more on the credit,

Material precariousness is compounding the need for larger sections of the population to borrow to gain access to housing, continue studying and meet certain consumer needs or simply survive. And for borrowing you have to prove collateral. If this is not the case then, in order to prove solvency, at least perspectives (increasing market value of the house) or reputation, which consists in the fact that, for example, the salary can be used to repay the loan, must be proven. The neoliberal reforms helped to bring the individuals obsessed with maximizing utility and income from the utilitarian calculus to the financialized subject, shifting their own value to the assets to be continuously valued,

Thus, the criticism of capitalism, which is directed against the profiteering of enterprises, has shifted to the financial institutions involved in the allocation of credit. Although the exploitation of wage labor by capital has by no means disappeared, it is the demands of financial investors that are widely disputed by the public, blaming them for the growing insecurity on the labor markets and precarious working conditions.

In his text, Feher reiterates Marx’s well-known theory of added value, in order to show that today’s financial investors do not simply assume the role of the classical capitalist. Specific to this type of investor is not absorbing huge dividends, interest payments and other financial income, which is crucial here, which is that these investors have the power to select the participants who need financial resources. It is not the acquisition of income, but the allocation of capital, which is constitutive for the role of the financial investor, that is, more than appropriation, the accreditation to book.

For Ferher, reinforcing criticism of the selective power of financial investors over exploiting capitalists does not mean that labor exploitation has declined; on the contrary, in companies set up especially for shareholders, managers must continue to do so strictly make an effort to reduce the ​labor costs. But it is not the new forms of enterprise management that are largely responsible for the transfer of income from labor to capital; on the contrary, for the stagnation of real wages and the dismantling of the welfare state, the rating power is the financial one Hold investors accountable. The removal of legal and administrative provisions, which freed the circulation of capital across national borders (as well as those of financial activities) and enabled the creation of new forms of assets, derivatives, meant that only financial liquidity traders would increase the competitiveness of companies and the economic attractiveness of national territories assess and evaluate. Accreditation as a form of valuation of capital is now to be determined. From the perspective of class identification, there is a fundamental difference between the classic entrepreneur and the financial investor. The functional difference has here to include the aspect of their operation. For the entrepreneur, it is the labor market where a commodity called manpower is offered by its owners. Investors, on the other hand, are in the financial markets, where businesses of all kinds are transformed into assets. Companies seek to extract and realize added value, while investors determine the allocation of credit and determine the creditworthiness of their clients.

The entrepreneurs run the business of acquiring the surplus value that the workers have produced, the investors decide what is actually produced. Investors are not characterized by the fact that they equal the industrial capitalists to profit, increase the prices of their products or minimize the production costs, to put it simply, but what the investors plunge, these are their projects increase their own capacity for credit. Such projects relate to the budgets of states, business plans of companies, student loans, consumer desires, the fictions of start-ups and the credit scores of wage-earners. For financial institutions, states, businesses, and households are legal entities that serve as objects, which creditworthiness or not. Investors are constantly evaluating these properties for their creditworthiness, and the reversibility between investors and those who receive them, which Feher calls “investee”, is not guaranteed, at least unlike that between entrepreneurs and employees who have a dual role as buyer and seller taking. While financial capital in its global, liquid, and anonymous forms may be called the “pure investor,” concrete institutions and individuals must include the “investees,” but they do not maintain a symmetrical relationship with the investors who own them Use funds and invest in projects that they themselves evaluate. At the same time, investors are also taking out loans. 

In the labor markets, the buyers and sellers of labor negotiate the prices. On the capital markets, pricing does not take place through bartering exchanges, but through the speculation of investors whose object is the “value” to which they assign tradable assets, depending on the attractiveness of the assets over which other market participants co-determine , Therefore, Minsky assumed that financial markets are structurally unstable because the operations on them never lead to the determination of an equilibrium price. Rather, asset price increases, which may be due to rumors and expectations, lead to further price increases, while conversely, in periods of mistrust, price reductions lead to further asset price reductions. The financial markets do not coordinate negotiations between traders, but instead they have to constantly generate liquidity in order to facilitate the speculation of investors. The optimization of the cost, which inspires the transaction in the traditional markets, is replaced by the calculation of future expectations of the various market participants.

What has happened here is shifting the interests of investors and their activities from extracting profits to crediting them. The freedom afforded by capitalism to investors as well as investors (those who borrow to launch projects that may well be profitable) is not the kind of negotiation with which both the capitalists and the capitalists Workers were faced with industrial capitalism, but it is the freedom to speculate or to speculate on the speculators of others to shape their own assets. More than the distribution of what has been produced, investors and investors are trying to influence the selection of what is being produced.

The restructuring of the taxing state towards the debt state has two consequences: On the one hand, institutional investors (pension funds, insurance companies and hedge funds) are always anxious to keep their investments safe in their investments such as government bonds, on the other hand allow the money flushed into the public purse funds certain governments to maintain state services, even though citizens were warned as early as the ’90’s that the welfare state was no longer sustainable and needed to be transformed. The combination of a growing government loan and a simultaneous reduction in taxes quickly led to growing deficits in government budgets during this period, which in turn worried lenders. The governments had no choice to use an increasing share of their debt repayment budgets, which further limited social services. As the growing deficits also increased interest rates on government bonds, an additional way had to be found to at least slow down this process. This was to encourage households to follow states in debt policy and to finance ever larger parts of the cost of reproduction by borrowing. Citizens should, as far as possible, go into debt themselves. Facilitating the conditions for private borrowing has thus become a means of keeping taxes low, Even the financial crisis did not significantly change these states’ policies. In addition, massive state deficit spending saved the banking system and deported costs to the populations by increasing austerity measures while still encouraging private debt. While government bond issuance should compensate for declining tax revenues, consumer credit has been used to limit the growth of the government deficit. Wolfgang Streeck speaks at this point of the transformation of the debt state in the consolidation state, but the consolidation is so far hardly successful, so that future generations can not be easily freed from the systems of debt. The bailouts of the big banks confirmed this once again. The “too big to fail” policy continues to focus on private investors, leading to three trends: lowering capital and corporate taxes, disrupting social programs and public services and making labor markets more flexible. ​The governments of the developed countries still prefer one policy of increasing the economic attractiveness of their territories, which operates under the heading of compulsory property, whereby private lenders can buy and sell government bonds in the secondary markets at any time, so that the pressure on governments, in contrast to the selective pressure that voters all four years of participating in the elections are a continuous one. While opinion polls are always oriented towards the next elections in their polls, investors’ “moods” are the object of permanent evaluation, or to be more precise, permanent anticipation. The slightest sign of market skepticism can affect the capacity of governments to issue more government bonds and thus also limit the resources of politicians to be re-elected.

But because voters cannot be completely ignored, politicians – living caskets – point to the exorbitant costs of applying to social programs, refugees and public infrastructures, and ignore the question of falling taxes on capital and deregulation of markets,

The advocates of a left-wing policy, which rely on the restoration of democracy and national and state sovereignty, point in this context again and again that the growing xenophobia is a result of deregulated financial markets, globalization and not least the un-elected supranational bureaucracies, The citizens would feel powerless and abandoned to the state, and in order to reduce the xenophobic mood among the citizens, it would be necessary for particular to restore state sovereignty and control over households and budgets. This kind of propaganda for a sovereign nation-state has always had difficulties to set itself apart from right-wing populist positions, the free flow of goods, capital, but especially from migrants to their countries. Since their phobia of foreigners is more coherent than left-wing populism, which desperately seeks to separate between xenophobia and protectionism directed against parasitic financial capital, ethnocultural nationalists can far more effectively enforce their border-closure policy.

But because voters can not be completely ignored, politicians – living caskets – point to the exorbitant costs of applying to social programs, refugees and public infrastructures, and ignore the question of falling taxes on capital and deregulation of markets ,

The advocates of a left-wing policy, which rely on the restoration of democracy and national and state sovereignty, point in this context again and again that the growing xenophobia is a result of deregulated financial markets, globalization and not least the un-elected supranational bureaucracies. The citizens would feel powerless and abandoned to the state, and in order to reduce the xenophobic mood among the citizens, it would be necessary in particular to restore state sovereignty and control over households and budgets. This kind of propaganda for a sovereign nation-state has always had difficulties to set itself apart from right-wing populist positions, the free flow of goods, capital, but especially from migrants to their countries. Since their phobia of foreigners is more coherent than left-wing populism, which desperately seeks to separate between xenophobia and protectionism directed against parasitic financial capital, ethno-cultural nationalists can far more effectively enforce their border-closure policy. ​Wagenknecht and Co. are trying to counter this by saying that stricter border controls are in the interests of local workers and employees, as this would prevent the influx of cheap labor, while at the same time referencing capitalist globalization as a source of refugee flows. However, this argument reinforces the impulsive policies of the rightists, who are quite capable of accepting criticism of imperialism for its protectionist and isolationist perspectives. However, protectionist ambitions are repeatedly disappointed, as the financial investors who trade government bonds are themselves exempting the efforts of newly elected governments to regulate capital flows and strengthen the control of credit institutions. anticipate and speculate on the prices of government bonds, yes, even countries can drift into ruin. Governments elected to restore state sovereignty are being penalized by the financial markets and, in the end, are themselves strengthening restrictive measures against the people.

An alternative to this rather helpless policy is to challenge the pre-emptive power of financial capital and its crediting strategies by attempting to occupy the functions and timelines of the financial markets themselves. To do so, one must break with a policy that seeks to create a safe haven in the state against the attacks of financial capital by relying on well-tried policies such as elections, demonstrations and similar actions. At this point, Feher points to movements such as 15-M and Occupy, who wanted to give their exit a vote with their occupations of public spaces, but also of banks, although for various reasons, these movements were doomed to failure.

Interesting in this context is the debt strikes that have emerged from the Occupy movement, initiatives by Rolling Jubilee and Debt Collectivein 2012 and 2014 were set in motion. Above all, these campaigns involved massive student borrowing through borrowing, with activities related to financial assistance and the elimination of individual debt and the mobilization of a larger number of indebted students to initiate political activity conduct. The student loans track a larger proportion of students today for the rest of their lives. In contrast to companies, students in the US can not declare themselves personally insolvent. The student loans whose repayment is uncertain (here mentioning the future precarious employment as well as the devaluation of the university degrees), They are bundled into loans and securitized and are rather poor investments in the eyes of the portfolio holders. Crowdfunding was the reason why the above initiatives tried to generate funds to buy these declining collateral. These were then burned in a symbolic act.

The financial investors, who focus primarily on the realization of short-term profits, are today important players in the financial markets. In their own interest in the markets, they observe all the news that points to better profits for companies, as well as their observation of the attractiveness of nation states, and it is particularly gratifying for governments to announce budgetary cuts, curtail social benefits and to reduce the regulations on the financial markets. The valuation of individual human capital also depends on similar criteria, such as the speculation about future qualifications and the question of flexibility and adaptability of the employees.

Just as the working-class movement has always denounced exploitation in wage-bargaining and sought new forms of negotiation and struggle, according to Michel Feher, today’s activists fighting in the sphere of circulation should use their opponents’ skills and forms of negotiation, In so far as it concerns the manner of speculation, to invent new forms of struggle itself, ie the Investee activism itself should change the conditions of accreditation of capital, even play the game of self-fulfilling prophecy of investors to something to that Feher calls “counter-speculation.” It is important to constantly confuse the governance of the states and the investment activity of the companies and at the same time increase the attractiveness of their own practical alternatives,

Today’s big companies always create a dominant shareholder / owner relationship with a number of other players, including managers who are not only responsible for increasing dividends over wages and reinvestments, but also constantly worrying about increasing stock market valuation of companies. This “corporative governance” is not geared to the endogenous growth of companies, as was the case with management in Fordism, but is primarily about the valorisation of the financial assets that companies represent in the eyes of investors. Instead of the long-term profits that result from the sale of goods, it’s about the methods of short-term capitalization,​
​On the one hand, a certain responsibility towards the stakeholders must be preserved, but without losing sight of the performance for investors for just one second. If it is the role of the managers to focus on the stock market value of the companies, this also very quickly affects the very different interests of different groups of stakeholders. If the social impact of measures that are necessary for investors to gain confidence in a company is generally negative for stakeholders, then they will have to consider whether to formulate their claims on investors together rather than their particular interests to follow. To develop a class consciousness of the stakeholders to share a common antagonism is therefore necessary, but not enough, to achieve joint mobilization. The organizations that represent the various stakeholder interests – trade unions, consumer groups, fair trade propagandists, environmental activists, etc. – must look after the various relationships and “links” between the particular interests of the stakeholders and strive for any kind of subversive cooperation. Stakeholders should also strive to “simulate” the methods of the credit rating agencies, which are important players in the financial markets when it comes to evaluating the short-term projects of financial investors, by creating their own organizations that send signals to investors that point to the social and environmental accountability of companies and the fact that Failure to comply with certain standards can even lead to business losses. This concerns, for example, the “global print” of companies, their influence on the climate, the health of workers, working conditions and the influence on state budgets. Feher calls on stakeholder organizations to develop something like a “common accreditation index” that takes into account labor laws, environmental protection, consumer protection and the fight against tax cuts for corporations. ​As financial capitalism became hegemonic, the influence of the tripartite relationship responsible for Fordism – entrepreneurs, workers, and state employees – receded and was overshadowed by the triangular interaction between shareholders, managers, and stakeholders. But even if the influence of the states has declined, they are not disappearing from the scene, but they are in a dual dependency in the developed countries. On the one hand, governments are still dependent on the electorate, but on the other hand, they must constantly defend the interests of the people consider financial investors. While the first aspect concerns democratic legitimacy, the second concerns the size and design of households.

The economic stagnation that hit most industrialized countries following the exhaustion of the Fordist model of capital accumulation, as well as new opportunities for capital owners (made possible by floating currencies, energy liberalization, and deregulation of financial markets), seriously curtailed the autonomy of states. When productivity in mass production stagnated in the 1970s, governments had to adjust wages to prices for fear of further worker and student protests. This kind of inflation, which was supposed to ensure social peace, quickly met with the reluctance of financial asset holders who refused to accept the depreciation of their portfolios. ​The savings moved more into speculative investments than productive investment, due to the collapse of the Bretton Woods system, with its fixed exchange rates, oil price volatility and new financial instruments/derivatives. It was Paul Volcker, the head of the Fed, who in the late 1970s focused the US government’s interests on the supply of money and the support of financial investment owners, triggering a dramatic rise in interest rates. In a period of declining growth rates, this shock led to the cessation of the inflationary developments that were part of Keynesian politics. Volcker’s monetary asceticism and Reagan’s corporate tax credits that speculators from all over the world went to the US capital markets because of the high returns of investment and the favorable fiscal regime. At the same time, while the sudden inflow of foreign money capital led to a rapid fall in interest rates, all developed-country governments made raising their investors’ financial attractiveness an absolute priority for investors. The monetary and fiscal policy of Keynesianism came to an end. that all the governments of the developed countries made investing in the financial attractiveness of their territories an absolute priority for investors. The monetary and fiscal policy of Keynesianism came to an end. that all the governments of the developed countries made investing in the financial attractiveness of their territories an absolute priority for investors. The monetary and fiscal policy of Keynesianism came to an end.

It is the power of financial investors to blame for declining wages and the dismantling of the welfare state. The abolition of legal and administrative barriers, facilitating both the circulation of capital at international level and financial activities, and allowing the creation of new financial instruments, was also a prerequisite for financial investors to be competitive both in business and in business States could influence massively. Therefore, the accreditation, the valuation of capital, should be judged regardless of the consequences for distribution and production. If, on the other hand, labor disputes are no longer as important as in Fordism, that does not mean that they have lost all their value, because the experiences which can be drawn from them also remain relevant to today’s social movements. But if we live in a time when capital accumulation is driven by finance, then new forms of struggle must necessarily be developed.

In the mid-1970s, Fordism, which consisted of class compromise, full employment, rising social security, and higher educational opportunities for youth from the working class, reached its limit, and now also women, migrants, and guest workers were more heavily involved in labor markets. At the same time, investors took advantage of the new financial opportunities made possible by the liberalization of currency trading, the liberalization of oil prices and the development of new derivative financial instruments. Conservative governments, Thatcher and Reagan, chose new priorities: the fight against inflation became more important than ensuring full employment, and supply policy was more important than Keynesian demand stimuli, which led to a stagnation of real wages and the gradual dismantling of the welfare state. Instead of tax increases or the printing of money, which serves to guarantee state financing, the system of state indebtedness has been forced and the private debt has been “democratized”.

Debt became the new social-economic engine to set economic growth in motion, which in turn meant debt was now more tied to the fluctuations of the financial markets. Although the concept of self-responsibility has been preached ever more massively, it has become relatively clear to borrowers that the new concepts do not lead to financial independence, but rather generate potentially infinite dependence on the financial markets.Borrowers should no longer escape the spiral of debt in the future, but rather constantly create a kind of trust through their risk management with the lenders, so that they could again borrow. Supposedly, this was a win-win situation in so far as the consumer wishes of the many were fulfilled and at the same time the portfolios of the lenders were filled to their satisfaction. But as the latest financial crisis of 2008 showed, neither the promise to borrowers to at least finance the lifestyle of the middle classes through credit, nor the profit expectations of the lenders were fulfilled to their full satisfaction.

If credit functions as a new engine of capital accumulation and a social control and disciplining mechanism, then new forms of resistance need to be considered, with union struggles being able to be linked with debtors sharing common interests and, at the same time, the Submission to the strategies of the lenders to delegitimize. However, indebtedness can not be understood by the subaltern as a weapon, as long as they regard debt as a moral problem. In addition, debt should not be reduced solely to the asymmetric relationship between the lender and the borrower; in addition, the triangular relation between lenders, governments who finance their budgets through loans and citizens, ​After the financial crisis of 2008, it quickly became clear that there was a symmetrical inversion of the »roles«: taxpayers became lenders for systemically insolvent creditors. The austerity measures that hit the population finally made them the lender of last resort. However, the financial institutions immediately went on the offensive and spread their fear of the bad conditions of the accounts of their rescuers in their departments.And since that also affected the states, governments had nothing better to do than dramatically reduce resources for social programs and services. By making fiscal consolidation its main task for ensuring confidence in the financial markets, governments have not only shifted the transfer of funds to the rescue of the financial system, but made the taxpayer to a third player who should take over the refinancing of the banking system in the event of a crisis for all eternity. For the taxpayers themselves, this meant borrowing on the basis of cuts in social benefits, and precisely for those who were just saved by them. So, after the crisis, you quickly went back to the “normal” relationship between creditors and debtors.

The speculative attacks on financial investors from 2010 onwards, especially against countries in southern Europe, gave rise to new messages: austerity policy should no longer be a temporary cure stemming from exceptional circumstances; rather, it should be a constant of the state Government policy. In doing so, the social state is directly linked to the form of the debt-state. And if social debt is related to financial debt, then it depends on which debt governments give priority, and governments’ answers to that are clear, because legality over financial investors is always paramount.

The various roles that citizens play in their credit – borrowers, lenders of last resort, social borrowers – should, according to Feher, become the subject of political appropriation by activists. As borrowers, activists should be concerned about non-fulfillment or transformation of their payments, as lenders of last resort they must engage in state debt policy and, as social borrowers, they can attack the policy that places their priority on financial investors and at the same time rely on a restructuring of the welfare state, are the illegitimate beneficiaries of the financial resources of the hard-working taxpayers. Conversely, neo-liberal policies assume that union members, some public officials, and above all the unemployed, are the illegitimate beneficiaries of the financial resources of the hard-working taxpayers. The neo-liberals are waging war for a new form of equality by attacking those who allegedly plunder ordinary taxpayers when they claim social rights. At the same time, they began early to empower citizens who were deprived of their social rights and services to lead a life without secure jobs and state benefits on their own responsibility.​ ​The task of the neo-liberal governments was to help citizens to help themselves. The denunciation of the unemployed went so far as to equate them with alcoholics and drug addicts who are unable to live a decent and orderly life. ​In Germany, this led consistently to the Hartz IV laws introduced by the Greens and the SPD, advocating the needy that they should be proud to no longer be dependent on state social benefits while being placed in precarious, underpaid or jobs which lay far below their qualifications. At the same time, they mobilized the unemployed and led them into state exercise and training programs that are often barely surpassed in meaninglessness, and prescribed working people’s lifelong learning program. Even those who were totally deprived were told that they were capable of accepting the so-called self-enhancement, if they only had the necessary flexibility and willingness to work, i.e. beyond a substantial portfolio of knowledge and skills, they should agree to work as long as possible in conditions of maximum insecurity and for low pay, and that would encourage the necessary respect for one’s own and recognition by others. In particular, social democratic governments in the 1990s, under the label of creativity and ownership, supported the transformation of large parts of the population into debtors who, through the credit card system and easier access to credit, were allowed to integrate into the financial system and surplus In order to create a reasonably “normal” life, not only the potential for employment but also one’s own solvency had to be taken into account. Whether it was a short-term job, a mortgage loan, or taking part in any start-up initiative, it was about creating a new “investees” that worked around the clock, trusting and crediting for Investors and companies, that is, constantly looking for new projects. Therefore, he differs from the typical wage worker in Fordism, who lived from long-term employment contracts and state social benefits, but also from the original self-responsible entrepreneur of small capital x. If the investees are responsible for increasing their attractiveness in the markets themselves and are constantly testing their employment capacity and solvency, then governments must strive to invest in the education and training of their citizens, at least to repay their loans In addition, they should also be trained for future payment. At the same time, unemployment insurance must be transformed in such a way that the recipients of social benefits are permanently driven into return-to-work programs and made fit for credit. Social democratic governments in the 2000’s need not only reduce capital and corporate taxes, deregulate labor markets and safeguard intellectual property rights, they also need to be financially attractive in order to make state territory attractive to financial investors Estimate the value (the credit potential) of one’s own population. All of this applies to territories that are political areas and have been composed of terra and terror since Roman legal principles.

The 9/11 event gave the governments of the leading countries the unexpected opportunity to place security as an absolute priority of their policies. Increasing inequality in income and wealth distribution, the dismantling of the welfare state and the increasing dependence of households on loans have been drowned out by the security campaigns of the states, while at the same time there has been some softening in the consolidation of budgets, because more of them are in the institutions national security should be invested. This had to be followed by further cuts in the welfare state and further easing of households’ access to credit. As mortgage lending increased to some low-income earners, the growth of bad debts inevitably increased. ​The so-called privatized Keynesianism by increasing the issuance of consumer credit led on the one hand to the fact that these loans were fed into the processes of securitization and the creation of synthetic derivatives (CDO), on the other hand, resources were freed up for the development of the security state. This expansion was then not only due to the need for an anti-terrorist war, but also to the so-called refugee problem, which was quickly accompanied by the militarization of the external borders and the tightening of asylum laws in Europe and the United States. Whereas, before the financial crisis, the projects of the governments of the leading countries were even more geared to supporting certain sections of the population in their quest to increase the value of their human capital, thus, after the financial crisis, the austerity policy intensified and the state turned on a massive scare against refugees. ​As a result of shareholder pressure and emerging globalization, large companies began to outsource parts of their activities as early as the 1980s (through subcontracts, temporary employment contracts, and foreign direct investment), but there was also an internal reorganization of companies. The company has been replaced by a modular organization that contains relatively autonomous components concentrated around projects with a limited period of time and is now giving birth to a precariat whose members have access to fixed-term jobs, with no prospect of social improvement. However, on the part of those affected, they quickly realized that flexibility and availability should become the basic conditions for further dreary employment.) Feher comes at the end of the book a little more detail on the Share Economy and the fighting on their fronts to speak. In contrast to the classical liberals, who see the market as a neutral space where traders and customers freely execute their transactions, the reality is different, because the digital interfaces that are today called platforms control and monitor the work all at once new labor market and set the number of service providers. The drivers Uber allows to pick up passengers are under strict control and are forced to follow the platforms’ algorithms. The routes they take are dictated by the GPS, while their efficiency, availability, and interaction with the passengers is the subject of constant assessments that determine how, when and where the driver is used. The drivers do not act as employees but as private contractors. Far from offering an alternative to precarious work, platform service providers commute between conditions of wage labor and the risk of self-employment, as well as depriving the platforms of any social security contributions. For many theorists, the big platforms are nothing but interconnected commercial contracts between a “principal authority” that can sign contracts on behalf of the company and a multiplicity of agents that value the company’s capital. The platforms thus multiply partnerships based on purely commercial encounters and offering services without regulated employment contracts. (However, a number of companies in various industries are still unable to produce without employing hired workers.) Providers of services using platform offerings are affected by the repression of wage labor, but also by those with their accompanying guarantees. Thus, they seem to represent the epitome of neoliberal subjects. ​Ultimately, however, they are not dependent on their own work, but on their involvement in a network of connections, meaning that the exploitation of their labor resources and their risk management depend on the credit that they must necessarily accumulate. Promoting their self-marketing skills requires constant positive feedback from customers, which are reflected in scores, likes, friends, and followers, and tweaking those ratings is the first thing to do. The accumulation of “reputational capital“, which must necessarily include an efficient credit score, serves to gain the trust of banks and insurance companies. The sustainability of service providers’ operations depends much more on sponsor approval than on the entrepreneurial ethos or human capital claimed by neoliberal ideologues. On their web pages, where providers and customers can connect, the platforms assign their users a specific set of continuously valued assets, which they must combine, move and manage as part of their “reputational capital“. Some theoreticians in the management of “reputational capital” already see a major resource that the actors have to manage and cultivate in order to ascend or simply survive. Everyone will eventually have to run a Facebook hyper page that lists various referrals from friends, mentors, lenders, sponsors, customers, and service providers. These open, algorithmically designed portfolios, according to Feher, make it possible to express a person’s attractiveness and trustworthiness, determine their reputational value, and thus demonstrate their ability to perform a task, line of credit, or partnership. The private asset managers must now speculate on their own “reputational capital” or follow the speculation of others on it. For the Resistance, this means combining the social safeguards still enjoyed by wage laborers with the autonomy that users of platforms possess to develop new win-win strategies. Therefore, in the precarious battles, it is not enough simply to demand the status and safeguards of wage laborers, but to try to take over existing platforms or to found new ones in order to introduce new rules and games. In counter-speculation files, the conditions of valorization of assets and credit allocation (by governments) must be fundamentally changed. The early trade union movement has often argued that, because of the validity of the law on the tendency of the rate of profit to fall, the struggle for higher wages implies a moment beyond the safeguarding of the workers’ costs of reproduction. And if Uber & Co’s service providers go to court to acknowledge their activities as pay-based employment, the strategic concern is not primarily to sue for the status of wage-laborer, but the collapse. These brands and platforms, whose model is to attract independent contractors and generate returns from them. The battles of contingent platform workers are still in their infancy. The new neo-liberal strategies, which rely on the integration of debtors into the financial circuits, allow increasingly nationality, race and flexibility to be considered as criteria for evaluation, thus opening the door to a new populism. The propaganda of the free movement of goods and capital, and to a conscience moment also of the people, which allegedly leads to a peaceful international community, assumed that it comes to hybridization of knowledge and skills to the successful competition under the observation of investors. Meanwhile, the governments propagandize no longer fear a world without borders. Instead, allegedly, border controls are being tightened daily due to terrorism and unbridled flows of refugees, economic patriotism is ramping up, and local people are being asked to recognize their national identity as a valuable part of their human capital. Without even the slightest effort to regulate monetary capital movements, governments are attempting to ignore the popularity of their policies (due to governance, which is mainly concerned with the stock market value of companies and thus an asset that markets can speculate on) by appealing to the fear of “migratory invasions” and increasingly to the restoration of trade protectionism. Governments’ efforts to increase the per capita value of a nation’s human capital serve to create governance that satisfies the interests of financial investors, who are concerned only with the usability of their assets. The own territory must be woven by the governments into a financially-friendly climate, in order to be able to spend government bonds for a not too high interest rate, and for that very reason also the austerity policy must be continued necessarily. At the same time, the productivity of their own populations must be mobilized by increasing flexibility, skills and availability, criteria that make a population financially attractive.

translated by Dejan Stojkovski


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