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(en) France, UCL AL #313 - Culture, 101. Trial: Breaking the Bank (ca, de, it, fr, pt)[machine translation]

Date Tue, 2 Mar 2021 10:21:42 +0200

Through an autobiographical account, Jérémy Désir-Weber draws up a series of chilling analyzes and asserts that the only way for banks to influence their ecological policy would be through their self-dismantling. ---- After ten years spent between grandes écoles and high-frequency trading, Jérémy Désir-Weber resigned with a crash from his managerial position in the market risks department at the global headquarters of HSBC bank. He delivers his testimony to tell the " genesis of a revolt ", its course, its gradual awareness, especially ecological, in our time " where to abstain from choosing is still choosing ". He now refuses to contribute to " what Riesel and Semprun called the administration of disaster and lasting submission ." Radically.

Animated by " this paradigmatic criticism " which is so lacking in his fellow students, " future scientific elites of the country whose outlines of political consciousness seem severely atrophied ", Jérémy Désir-Weber plans to infiltrate finance to effect a change in the inside. He joined the École des Mines de Saint-Etienne, then the Imperial College in London, followed by a first internship in the risk management of Crédit Mutuel, then a second in the European subsidiary of Tudor Investment Corporation, then a master's degree in probability and finance and a quantitative analyst position overseeing algorithmic trading models at HSBC's London headquarters.

The story of his career is the occasion for a series of technical analyzes, but perfectly accessible, of the Greek crisis, the subprime scandal, the Kerviel affair, that of the SwissLeaks which sheds light on the financing of terrorism. by the Saudi customers of HSBC, that of the Panama Papers ... His explanations are often chilling.

From the Greek crisis to the Panama Papers
It explains the limits of the controls put in place on high frequency trading. It takes twenty pages of descriptions for an investigator from the Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF), " the policeman of the stock market ", to describe 20 milliseconds of exchanges and his Excel spreadsheet is limited to a million lines while he has to handle a billion and a half orders. Another example, Swiss law limits fines for money laundering to five million Swiss francs. " The authorities delegate to the banks the power to control themselves." When joining HSBC, he is especially invited " to watch for any suspicious attitude of a potential whistleblower !".

The discovery of its uselessness in the face of inertia and impunity, its ecological awareness took place when the yellow vests movement began at the end of 2018 (initially mobilized against a carbon tax that would prove to have been designed to compensate for the reduction in employer contributions), the campaign of Greta Thunberg, then the actions of the Extinction Rebellion movement in April 2019. Participating, with his companion, in the blockade of Parliament Square, he heard for the first time about the Group of intergovernmental experts on climate change (IPCC) and discover the gravity of the climate situation.

He then dissects all the documentation available at HSBC relating to its commitments in terms of sustainable finance, in order to write a report of about fifty pages for his superiors, of which he gives a long summary here.

He first of all recalls the multiple destructive effects of our industrial civilization based on growth, the immense responsibility of fossil fuels in climate change and their inevitable correlation with growth, even when it is (allegedly) green. Based on the objectives of the COP21 Paris Agreement, he warns that " the financial industry is sailing blindly regarding the climate crisis, all of its products and instruments having been structured without taking into account their influence. on a factor, however, conditioning their own viability and, more broadly, that of economic and social organizations."

Direct action and civil disobedience
Faced with the lack of reaction from his hierarchy, he resigned and, hoping to amplify the echo, made it public in an open letter which began with these words: " Capitalism is dead." In conclusion, he stated that direct action and civil disobedience are the only solutions to alert public opinion and that the only way for banks to positively influence their environmental policy would be " self-dismantling . "

It invites to " reappropriate the conditions of its own subsistence by bringing together the know-how allowing one to emancipate oneself from this system ", " to intensify and link together the citizens' alternatives and mutual aid networks ", "to adopt, develop , enrich, in addition, an offensive approach, by attacking the heart of the system "," identify the weaknesses of institutions and infrastructures - energy, industrial, petrochemical, financial, etc. - responsible for the ongoing ecological and human disaster, impossible to reform, then encourage, or even participate in their dismantling ".

Ernest London (UCL Le Puy-en-Velay)

Jérémy Désir-Weber, Breaking the bank - The role of finance in the ecological disaster , Divergences, 2020, 250 pages, 15 euros.

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