‘State suicide’ of Italian pensioner

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CAPITALISM’S latest scheme to save failed banks claimed the life of an Italian pensioner who lost his £72,000 life savings following the collapse of Banca Etruria last month.

The pensioner, who hanged himself, left a suicide note placing responsibility for his death at the door of the bank and the ‘rescue’ plan that cost him his savings. Three other Italian banks, (Cassa di Risparmio di Ferrara, Banca delle Marche and CariCariChieti) had to be rescued by the intervention of the Italian government and three other major Italian banks who stepped in to prop them up.

In a statement the Italian Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi, said: ‘The Italian government intervened when it saw that four banks risked closing and losing thousands of jobs and deposits’ before going on to express the government’s ‘own pain and condolences to the family’ of the dead pensioner.

The leader of the right-wing opposition Northern League commented: ‘A pensioner kills himself because he lost his life savings due to Banca Etruria and the absent government. State suicide.’ Over 130,000 shareholders and depositors lost their investments and savings as a result of this rescue.

Behind the death of one pensioner lay the implementation by the Italian government of the new rules on rescuing failed banks by means of a ‘bail-in’ rather than a bail-out. Following the world banking collapse of 2008, every capitalist state embarked on rescuing the banks by assuming their debts.

These bail-outs cost trillions of pounds which drove up the national debts of countries, debts that the bankers insisted be paid for by the working class through austerity cuts. With the working class across Europe and America rising up and refusing to accept their lives being smashed up just to keep the capitalist banking system from drowning in a sea of debt, the concept of the ‘bail-in’ was developed several years ago.

But the main driving force behind bail-in is the fact that the trillions of pounds worth of debt incurred by the capitalist state is becoming impossible to sustain and is driving capitalism internationally towards an historic crash.

Under a bail-in, to stave off collapse, bank depositors along with bank shareholders will have their money confiscated in order to pay off the bank debts. In the Eurozone, bail-in rules, called the Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive (BRRD), will become law next month.

This bail-in legislation is not confined to the Eurozone; similar legislation is being driven across the capitalist world by the Bank for International Settlements through the various state central banks, including the Bank of England, the US Fed and the European Central Bank. Each country will enact its own version of the BRRD.

The bankers and governments are trumpeting BRRD as a means to protect taxpayers from having to pay for bailing out bankrupt banks by forcing creditors and shareholders to pay up. However, as the tragic death of a pensioner shows, it is not just bloated bank shareholders but everyone who has money deposited in a bank that will find their money confiscated.

When bail-in was first used in Cyprus two years ago, ordinary depositors were shocked to discover that the money they had in the bank didn’t belong to them but could be seized any time the bank faced collapse and bankruptcy.

Given that today everything is paid into bank accounts, it means that the wages and benefits of every worker can be legally seized in order to save a bank from collapse. With the entire banking system teetering on the edge of insolvency, the revolutionary implications are clear – there is no solution for the working class to this huge crisis except through the overthrow of capitalism itself.

Bail-outs have led to massive state debts, paid for through savage austerity, while bail-in means workers and the middle class losing everything as every penny they own is confiscated in the name of saving the banks.

The only way out of this is to put an end to capitalism with a socialist revolution and advance to socialism where the banks and industry are expropriated as part of a planned socialist economy.