Patrice Riemens on Tue, 5 Apr 2016 18:24:18 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Ten Theses on the Panama Papers

The theses factory is churning on ...

10 Theses on the Panama Papers

1. Never before have so many people owed so much wealth.

Even though an even smaller minority of people owe an increasing 
proportion of the world's wealth, their absolute number have been 
rising, especially during the last economic boom of triumphant 
neo-liberalism. Since the crisis their number has stabilized, or even 
dwindled a little, but it still remains considerable.

2. Never before has wealth been so 'liquid'.

Traditional wealth constituted mainly of material stuff: factories, real 
estate, land, or even money/gold - and not to forget, 'social capital'. 
All this is still there, but it has been largely 'securitized', 
transformed into financial instruments leading their own life. Property 
titles used to be the token for really existing assets, now the roles 
have been reversed.

3. Never before has wealth been so mobile.

Unlike 'solid' assets, financial instruments can be moved around at will 
- and will be. Here again, traditional profitability was a measure of 
the actual performance of the 'real' assets. Now it is their financial 
profitability, bwo 'virtual' positions, which plays that role.

4. Never before has wealth been so velocious.

'Solid' assets always have been acquired and sold and even speculated 
with, for sure. But this was a process that took sometimes months or 
even years to take place, with some exceptions taking may be a few weeks 
or even days. Money itself was moving faster, but banks  took one day or 
two to clear transactions. Nowadays the latency is rather measured in 

5. Wealth has been digitized.

The above points 2, 3, and 4 have been greatly enhanced by information 
technology (IT). At the same time IT has become mandatory to achieve the 
objective of profit maximization. This cycle has become vicious, and is 
the source of the 'accident' befalling Mossack Fonseca, the Panama 
law/management firm 'victim' of the massive leak referd to as 'the 
Panama Papers'.

6. Leaks have become an 'integral accident'.

In the 'analog' days, a leak the size of the 'Panama Papers' would 
entail physically taking over the target's premises, and a fleet of 
lorries to truck the loot out. Now, this is just one (albeit very 
sophisticated) mouse-click away.

7. Leaks have become unquestionable.

With earlier disclosures, the authenticity of documents leaked could 
always be credibly disputed. Nowadays the authenticity of materials 
obtained thru electronic leaks, due to its sheer magnitude and the one 
to one nature of a digital reproduction, is much more difficult to 

8. But the more we know for true, the less it bears to consequences ...

The Panama Papers will most probably confirm that we have swiftly 
transitioned from 'after Snowden 1.0' to 'after Snowden 2.0'. At the 
time of the Snowden revelations, the general mood was one of 'we always 
suspected something like that, now we know' - and now things must and 
will change. Now we still know, and then even some more, but we also 
know that nothing will change.

9. ... rather, it bears to negative consequences.

My hunch is that even more cynicism and delusion will result from the 
'Panama Papers'. A few individuals may go for the chop, but in most 
cases, the remaining impact will be PR-massaged away, the more so since 
a majority of ongoings featured in the leaked materials are probably 
legit - if ethically spurious/illegitimate. It is the 
(financial-economic-political-social) system itself that is sick to the 
core, the Panama Papers merely shed lights on its usually more concealed 

10A.  And the Society of the Spectacle marches on ...
10B.  All little bits help to break down the walls of Jericho ...
      Soon the Saints come marching in ...

(choice is yours! ;-)

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