“Sooner or later the collapse will take place and then, of course, something will have to be invented“. In the documentary by Marc Bauder awarded at Locarno 2013, Master of the universe, Rainer Voss, “ruthless” former German financial trader, who worked for that market that now seem to command everything: “I know that I will depress everyone with this story” , we’re “in crisis” for a long time now, but it doesn’t end like that, “probably something much worse will come“. The assumptions are: a political action, a large external shock, such as a deeper crisis, or the proposal of a new economic model. “Certainly the finance’s market alone will not learn from its mistakes, but people can stop. The problem is that no one speaks first”.
Politics is still a blind eye. What on the surface is only suspected, deep down is known by everyone: the world is ruled by banks. Voss speaks of such a huge amount of money that is able to put a country on its knees. This has just happened with Greece: it was only the weaker European economy. Then came Portugal. No one knows the strong indebtedness of Holland – to 120% of GDP. An effort has been made to contain the crisis in Spain and Italy – about us with Mario Monti – because “the next step would be exactly the game over: France. In that case, the costs will be so high that even the ECB wouldn’t be able to meet them, achieving a real financial and sociopolitical crisis that I don’t think will have a happy ending”.
That all begins with a “double night”. That’s how new hires start their ascent in the big banks: spend two nights at work for the boss, which means invent anything to make earn 10% more the company that consulted you to have a financial advice. You stay up late until 2 in the morning. Then you fall asleep. The cleaning crew wakes you up at 5 and you start again until the next night. Do that a bunch of times, you get the promotion and start earning a lot of money. “I was less than 30 years old when I earned in one day more than my father made throughout his whole career, he was a craftsman”. The double night is a military demonstration of absolute fidelity, bank’s life must come before yours.
From that moment on, you really begin to feel as a master of the universe: “There’re all the ingredients. They create deformed people no longer able to see themselves out of that economic system, profoundly changed with globalization and interdependence among States: at the beginning the real economy and finance were on the same level. Then Americans came, we were hanging on their lips, they seemed to walk on water. Working in a bank was like playing in a sandbox, with paddle and bucket”.
Few gears in a restricted environment don’t cause damage. But when those become thousands, you really cannot predict what will happen. “So much business leads inevitably toward lawlessness. Now that sandbox can cause enormous damage”. In an excerpt of Goldman Sachs trial, you can see clearly the priorities of the banks, and so the financial market: “selling crappy products“, as shown by thick e-mail correspondence. Only customers don’t know nothing about it, “they lose anytime like spinning in roulette. Also when they win they forget about their previous losses”.
“It’s useless to talk of transparency in financial transactions because they should study millions of documents”, we rely on decisions drawn by lot. “As for the Higgs boson”, we don’t know if it exists or how it works, but we accept the theory.
Voss underlines that is the human component to cause sudden crisis, layoffs and bankruptcies in the world: “often there’s no evil or trickery, often they’re only human provocations, people that try to make deals that others had already done, but better. “Decision-making processes are very fast, in this way finance corners politics. In short, as already represented by “fiction” films too, we talk about human lives hunged on for play of a minority, “a crumbling social structure that leads people to plant potatoes where before they planted flowers”.
People who can do serious damage are far down the decision-making pyramid. The irony is that you look at them as super men – only thinking about the difficulty to understand completely what they’re explaining, including formulas and numbers, far from most of the world’s comprehension – but in reality they’re simple traders, “like master mechanics among workers“. Obviously as soon as they screw up, they’ll be denounced by the same ‘family’ for which they threwed their life. Like the case of a young broker in France, that on trial commented, “I was like a prostitute, they cared of me only to take more money, how I made it were my own problems”.
Just think about this: “some time ago the stocks were held on a average of 4 years, today 22 seconds, but if we think about them for what they are, holdings in companies, it doesn’t make any sense. You do not negotiate the value of something, as you did before, you just want to see the reaction of the market“, these abstract subjects that seem to decide everything. “It’s human to forget the outside world when you work in such a closed world “. You also forget about your wife and your children, imagine the rest. “There’s a kind of institutionalized detachment, that spreads like a virus.”Money machines. “Even when I went out with friends I realized that I had very little to share“. This is also a personal crisis.
Master of the universe is the shocking film that simply confirms what we knew, but it makes us very scared to admit. Yet according Voss, the remedy to this economic model, this finance, paradoxically, is all too easy, so much that seems naïve: “to stop speculation it’d be sufficient the decision will of an order from above, like closing a tap”.
Look for it on the internet, see it, and promise that you will never give up, to this idea: waste your life to make money for few people, at the expense of many unaware others. And tell anybody. That might be a start.