[DEBATE] : The finance-related peace prize
book at kaapeli.fi
Sat Oct 14 12:37:42 BST 2006
The choice of the winners of the Nobel Peace Prize for 2006 is a natural
continuation of the vaguely progressive line that Norwegian Nobel
Committee is following since many years.
Still it is news of some sort that the peace prize is being awarded to a
bank, that is Grameen Bank, and to its founder Mohammed Yunus. Would it
not have been more appropriate to give them the Nobel prize in economics?
It certainly would. We can congratulate dr Yunus and Grameen nevertheless.
Some seem to start from the assumption that Grameen is taking Capitalism
to the poor. That is a somewhat superficial analysis. Surely, Capitalism
has been plaguing the poor long before the coming of the microfinance
In the context of the grotesque financial system (or lack of system) that
the whole world suffers under today, Grameen is a wonderfully exceptional
capitalist business bank.
The efforts by Grameen to combine the microcredits with the microchips are
extremely interesting. The mobile phones and/or the computers (which can
be one and the same) are replacing the money, or rather, they are the new
money. Will the world's finances become more transparent and public? Could
the banks become more like the libraries - institutions that serve the
citizens with information and information technology?
Former president of Finland Martti Ahtisaari had been one of the favourite
candidates of the mainstream press for the Nobel Peace prize 2006. Here in
Finland, however, many citizens were drawing a sigh of relief when the
winners were announced. While dr Yunus is an example of a banker and an
economist who became a true social democrat, former president of the
republic Ahtisaari is yet one social democrat turned into a true
I am probably not alone with this opinion. In the webforum of the daily
newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, one of the first comments to the topic "Where
you disappointed on behalf of Ahtisaari?" , said: "This man supported the
war in Iraq, and only two days ago it became known that more than 600.000
Iraqis have died because of the aggression of the USA".
Yours in peace.
- - -
PS I sent this comment earlier today to the list wpf at sympa.kaapeli.fi ,
where "wpf" stand for "World Public Finances". Info on the list and
subscription via http://sympa.kaapeli.fi/sympa/info/wpf
Only after writing the comment did I read the interesting materials from
2001 on Grameen's accounting, which Patrick Bond sent yesterday. If the
accounting of Grameen is opaque, should we not try to come up with a
better accounting system?
In today's newspaper, dr Yunus says: "You cannot eliminate terrorism with
war. You can bring a country on its knees, but it does not solve the
problems. It is only counterproductive. People feel that a great
injustice has been done, and that is the source of the terrorism" (transl
from the Swedish-language "Hufvudstadsbladet" 14.10.2006, p 10). I agree.
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