30/12/2017 by socialistfight
Why neither Russia nor China are imperialist powers
By Gerry Downing 29-12-2017
- The US Dollar is by far the world’s leading reserve and trading currency for oil and almost every other commodity in the world (although Russia and China are challenging that now). It gives the US an enormous economic and political advantage over its rivals. Wars against Iraq, Libya, and Ukraine today are at least partially launched to protect this privileged position which enables it to rob every other nation. In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, the dollar’s share in the world’s foreign-exchange trades rose slightly from 85% in 2010 to 87% in 2013. The dollar’s role as the undisputed reserve currency of the world allows the United States to impose unilateral sanctions against actions performed between other countries.
On 1 May 2015 U.S. District Judge Lorna Schofield in Manhattan formally ordered the French bank BNP Paribas to forfeit $8.83 billion and pay a $140 million fine as part of a sentence that also called for BNP Paribas to enhance its compliance procedures and policies over claims that it violated sanctions against Sudan, Cuba, and Iran. These violations of U.S. sanctions were not laws in France or the other countries involved in the transactions. In 2014 Beijing and Moscow signed a 150-billion-yuan central bank liquidity swap line agreement to get around American sanctions, which may well now operate over charges that they have violated UN sanctions on North Korea.
- Today London continues to top the list of the world’s leading financial centres, with New York close behind in second-place, according to the latest edition of The Global Financial Centres Index. Sometimes referred to as Ny-Lon, these two cities have dominated global finance for the past couple of centuries. However, political uncertainty from Brexit and the US election has had a “significant impact” on the state of affairs, as London and second place New York fell 13 and 14 points respectively compared to the last Global Financial Centres Index by Z/Yen. Those were the steepest declines, bar Calgary, amongst the world’s top 50 financial centres. The top five financial centres remained unchanged with London followed by New York, Singapore, Hong Kong and Tokyo. But Singapore is fast closing in on the two cities ahead, rising eight points to be 20 points behind New York, having been 42 points behind in the last report. London was still comfortably ahead of other European cities – Luxembourg was 18th, Frankfurt 23rd and Paris 29th in the rankings.
3. Top 2,000 multi-nationals: We have abstracted these details from Forbes 2,000 top companies which gives a good indication of the balance of global economic forces: Of the top 2,000 firms in the world in 2017 U.S. companies account for the most members of the list, 565, followed by China and Hong Kong, which is home to 263 Global 2000 companies. The world’s biggest companies have gotten bigger, more profitable and more valuable in the past year. 58 countries were represented, down from last year’s 62. The 2017 list features public companies from 58 countries that together account for $35.3 trillion in revenue, $2.5 trillion in profit, $169.1 trillion of assets, and have a combined market value of $48.8 trillion. Of the top ten companies in the world, China has 4, including numbers 1 and 3, the US has 5 and the tenth is Japanese.
Note here that in 2004 when the list first appeared the US had almost 1,000 in the top 2,000. The decline since then is largely due to US transnationals locating their HQs abroad for tax avoidance purposes. In 2013 Ireland’s 17 companies apparently placed it in the same league as South Africa, Mexico and Saudi Arabia, a ridiculous comparison. In reality up to half of those ‘Irish’ companies are not really Irish at all except in name. Take its top company, Accenture plc, which is “engaged in providing management consulting, technology and outsourcing services”. It is 318th on the list with a market capitalisation of $53.34 Billion. A Fortune Global 500 company, it moved its HQ from Bermuda and has been incorporated in Dublin, Ireland, since 1 September 2009. In 2017, the company reported net revenues of $34.9 billion, with more than 425,000 employees serving clients in more than 200 cities in 120 countries. In 2015, the company had about 130,000 employees in India, about 48,000 in the US, and about 50,000 in the Philippines and only about 1,000 in Ireland. It is a US transnational, of course. And not only does the US have all these companies located abroad but the US dominate many others by its stock holdings. Some statistics on this would reveal the true nature of US imperialism’s domination of almost every aspect of the trade, commerce, and lives of most of the population the planet. And where it does not fully dominate it demonise and makes plans to bomb and invade.
Finance capital is interlinked in a global web of dominance spreading out from Wall Street and the City of London. If we take, for example, the role of Swiss banking is not a secret of the strong links it has with the City of London. Equally important are the so-called ‘tax havens’ such as Luxembourg in Europe for example. Also finance capital plays a major role in the Spanish banking sector – there is the curious phenomenon of its relations to the Basque and Catalan banks, which are not really Spanish and behind much of the separatist agitation. Financial capital of British origin plays a big role in maintaining Gibraltar as a ‘tax haven’.
4. Top Stock Exchanges Here are the statistic for the top 11 stock exchanges ($US billions)
- NYSE Euronext, United States, $21,377.
- NASDAQ OMX Group, United States, $9,585.
- Tokyo Stock Exchange, Japan $5,974.
- Shanghai Stock Exchange, China $5,043
- Euronext, European Union, $4,388
- London Stock Exchange, $4,297.
- Hong Kong Stock Exchange, $4,135.
- Shenzhen Stock Exchange, $3,688.
- TMX Group, Canada, $2,360.
- National Stock Exchange of India, Mumbai, $2,194
- Deutsche Börse, Germany, $1,486.
Note the two US stock exchanges are almost as big as the next 9 combined; with its allies, it is absolutely dominant.
5. The ranking of countries by Gross Domestic Product, this time the top 11: (Millions of $US),
- United States $19,417.144,
- China $11,795.297,
- Japan $4,841.221.
- Germany $3,423.287.
- United Kingdom, $2,496.757.
- India $1,897,608.
- France $2,420.440.
- Brazil $2,140.940.
- Italy $1,807.425.
- Canada $1,600.265
- Russia $1,560.706.
Obviously, if we take the more meaningful GDP per capita we get an entirely different picture. That is headed by tax havens and petro-states Liechtenstein, Qatar, Monaco and Luxembourg and the US comes in at 20, Germany at 31, the UK at 38, France at 39, Italy at 51, China at 106, South Africa at 117 and India at 160.
6. Biggest military Expenditure in 2016 and percentage of global total: The top 15 for military expenditure, ($US billions):
- United States $611.0, 36%.
- China $215.0, 13%.
- Russia $69.2, 4.1%
- Saudi Arabia $53.7, 3.8%
- India $55.9, 3.3%
- France, $55.7, 3.3%
- United Kingdom $48.3, 2.9%.
- Japan $46.1, 2.7%.
- Germany $41.1, 2.4%
- South Korea $36.8, 2.2%
- Italy $27.9, 1.7%
- Australia $24.6, 1.4%
- Brazil $23.7, 1.4%
- UAE $22.8, 1.3%
- Israel $18, 1.1%
Note the US expenditure is almost equal to the combined total of all the other 14 on the list, all NATO or close US allies apart from Russia and China.
7. Fleets, aircraft carriers, warships and submarines. The US has five battleship fleets, the Second Fleet in the Atlantic, the Third Fleet in the Eastern Pacific, the Fifth Fleet in the Arabian Gulf and Indian Ocean, the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean and the Seventh Fleet in the Western Pacific. No other nation gets a look in here. This is a list of the aircraft carriers in service in 2013: United States 10, Italy 2, United Kingdom, 1, France 1, Russia 1, Spain 1, India 1, Brazil 1, China 1 and Thailand 1. Some other nations have added or planned one or two more carriers since then.
10 of those American aircraft carriers are something known as supercarriers. These supercarriers are huge nuclear-powered war machines that can run for twenty years non stop without needing to refuel. Each of them can hold up to 90 fighter planes. In fact, just one of these supercarriers holds more firepower than 70% of the world’s militaries. The only other nation besides the United States that operates nuclear-powered aircraft carriers is France, but it only has one.
In addition to its 10 aircraft carriers, the U.S. Navy has nine amphibious assault ships, 22 cruisers, 62 destroyers, 17 frigates and 72 submarines. In addition to ships, the U.S. Navy has 3,700 aircraft, making it the second largest air force in the world – second to the US Air Force, that is. The USA has 14,612 military aircraft in total, Russia 4,827, China 3,000, France 223 and Britain 192.
8. Despite recently closing hundreds of bases in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States still maintains nearly 800 military bases in more than 70 countries and territories abroad (depending on what you count as a base) outside the US, 2,639 including US home bases in 1993 (59 full bases in the US today). It has 38 “named bases” having active-duty, national guard, reserve, or civilian personnel as of September 30, 2014. Its largest, in terms of personnel, was Ramstein AB, in Germany, with almost 9,200 personnel. In addition, other NATO countries, such as France and the UK, have a further 200 such military locations within the network of global military control. The biggest “host” countries are those that once lost a major war in which the US was involved. Germany, Italy, Japan, and Korea are the four biggest ‘hosts’. France and the UK mainly have bases in the remains of their colonial empires. The UK is strong in the South Atlantic and around the Mediterranean; France is strong in the South Pacific and in Africa. The US is military deployed in more than 150 countries around the world, with over 300,000 of its active-duty personnel serving outside the United States and its territories. US personnel are engaged in active combat in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria openly and covertly elsewhere as we recently discovered when 4 US troops were killed on the Niger-Mali border in October 2016.
Russia currently has 7 military facilities in former Soviet republics and one in Syria in Tartus and the Cam Ranh Base in Vietnam. The Crimean base is now part of Russia itself. India and Turkey have 6 each and China is building a massive base in Djibouti, in the Horn of Africa, next to a US base overlooking the Red Sea, guarding the access to the Suez Canal, vital for China’s oil imports from the Middle East. France, Italy, and Japan also have bases in Djibouti. The UK has 17 full overseas military bases and France 11.