By Ernst Wolff.
American President Eisenhower warned in his farewell speech in 1961 of the interconnections and influences of the military-industrial complex (MIC) in the USA. He used a term that two American sociologists had created in 1956 to illustrate the close ties between the military, politics and economic elites in the USA.
In fact, both the large industrial corporations and the armaments manufacturers had experienced a tremendous upswing in the 1950s, which was to continue into the mid-1970s. But then the picture changed. With the end of the post-war boom, a new era began in which the balance of power shifted more and more, especially in two areas.
On the one hand, the deregulation of the financial sector marked the beginning of an increasing financialization of the global economy. The progressive abolition of restrictive rules in the banking sector led to an increasing number of investment banks in particular. On the other hand, the development of computers for the general public gave rise to a whole new branch of industry – digital technology. Among the pioneers of its development were the companies Microsoft and Apple, founded in 1975 and 1976, which experienced a meteoric rise.
At the turn of the millennium, the financial sector saw a gradual shift in the guard of investment banks to the ever-increasing hedge funds that now largely dominate the financial world. In the IT sector, the online mail order company Amazon, founded in 1994, the technology company Google, founded in 1998, and the social networking platform Facebook, founded in 2004, joined Microsoft and Apple and also experienced a rapid growth.
While the near-crash of 2007/08 brought numerous corporations and banks into difficulties, both the large hedge funds and the leading IT groups were among the winners. After the crisis, the technology giants also drove up their share prices by buying back billions in shares, prompting the world’s largest asset management companies such as BlackRock and even central banks such as the Swiss National Bank to invest ever greater sums in their shares.
Today, these companies dominate large parts of the global IT market, control data and money flows around the globe, and are in a position to exert a decisive influence on global markets thanks to their financial power and their association with major investors. In addition, they have expanded their mutual relationships, but have also gained political influence and – mainly through foundations – created the most powerful lobby the world has ever seen.
For example, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, created the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization GAVI in 2000. Its members include the World Bank and numerous vaccine manufacturers, whose market has grown sixfold since its inception. In addition, the foundation is now the largest single donor to the World Health Organization (WHO), which provided the global lockdown during the Corona crisis, thus helping Microsoft and the other IT groups to achieve even greater market power.
In 2012, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, together with the United Nations, the major U.S. bank Citigroup, Mastercard, the Ford Foundation, and others, founded the Better Than Cash Alliance, which now includes thirty governments and is also financially supported by the German government. The biggest beneficiaries of cashless payment transactions are Microsoft and Apple.
Both the vaccination business and the abolition of cash have been strongly boosted by the lockdown in the wake of the Corona pandemic and have brought lucrative contracts to IT companies. For example, Apple and Microsoft are leading the way with Google in the development of a contact tracing platform for Covid-19 cases, in which former New York Mayor and billionaire Bloomberg is also involved. Bloomberg, head of a financial data agency and intelligence service, donated $1.6 billion to the Johns Hopkins University two years ago, which has been providing the WHO with pandemic data for months.
Both the vaccination business and the abolition of cash have been strongly boosted by the lockdown in the wake of the Corona pandemic and have brought lucrative contracts to IT companies. For example, Apple and Microsoft are leading the way with Google in the development of a contact tracing platform for Covid-19 cases, in which former New York Mayor and billionaire Bloomberg is also involved. Bloomberg, head of a financial data agency and news service, two years ago donated $1.6 billion to the Johns Hopkins University, which has been providing pandemic data to the WHO for months.
Apple, Microsoft and Bloomberg will also meet ex-Google chief Eric Schmidt, who, together with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has been commissioned by the governor of the US state of New York to draw up a concept for reorganizing the health and education systems after the end of the Covid-19 pandemic. They will also be dealing with several private equity firms that will advise the Governor of New York on how to unlock and reopen the local economy.
So, while policymakers are now allowing IT companies to subordinate the US education and healthcare system in the wake of the Corona pandemic, they are allowing private equity firms known as “vulture funds” to use their advisory position to buy into as many of the mid-sized companies threatened by bankruptcy as possible.
Almost sixty years after ex-President Eisenhower’s speech, it is now fair to say that the military-industrial complex is a thing of the past, and the world has arrived in the age of the digital-financial complex.
Thanks to the author for the right to publish.
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