Eight years ago today, 70,000 people formed Jubilee 2000's human chain in Birmingham to protest to world leaders about the unpayable debts of the world's poorest countries; today, the "first world" is mired in comparable levels of debt. Furthermore, these debts now pose threats to the global economy of a financial crash and of a period of sustained debt deflation similar to that Japan endured from 1990 to 2005.

There are many among the world's financial elites aware of the danger of housing and stockmarket "bubbles" financed by borrowing; of debt "imbalances"; of the potential of a crash and prolonged crisis. However they are caught on the horns of a dilemma: by discouraging heroic American and UK "debtor-spenders"(who have single-handedly spurred global economic growth) from borrowing and spending, they will puncture the bubbles - and that could be very messy. Yet by failing to take action now they make things worse when finally the bubbles are punctured, as they must be.

This is a terrifying lose-lose game. We are in it, because of the reckless abuse by the private finance sector of the powers granted them through deregulation and liberalisation.

Today, finance no longer acts as servant to the global economy but as ringmaster in a dangerous global balancing act. Consumers on the economy's high wires, heed the belated advice of the Bank of England governor: don your hard hats and beware.



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