Welcome to our March newsletter. Spring is advancing fast and packed with exciting events…
We are also proud to announce Research for Action is two years old this month! If you would like to support our work with a birthday present, you can donate here. Thank you for everyone who has supported us this far.
Finance Capital & the Ghosts of Empire: Revisiting Colonial Debts, Extractive Nostalgias, Imperial Insolvencies
5-6 April 2019, University of Sussex
This two-day event will bring together scholars, artists and activists working in different fields to explore the role of the Empire in configuration of international financial markets and the role of finance, debt and speculation in the colonial and neocolonial project. It is organised by the Centre for Global Political Economy & Centre for Colonial and Postcolonial Studies, University of Sussex in collaboration with the Reimagining Value Action Lab, Lakehead University (Canada), and we will be speaking about our financial activism on Saturday as part of the panel “Making Finance & the Afterlives of Empire Visible” .
The Spider’s Web: Britain’s Second Empire
14 March 2019, 6pm, University of Greenwich, London
Rethinking Economics Greenwich, and the Institute for Political Economy, Governance, Finance and Accountability are hosting a free screening of the documentary that investigates the world of Britain’s secrecy jurisdictions and the City of London, and its impact on global tax revenues and public welfare. Joel is featured in the documentary talking about debt and PFI. There will be a Q&A afterwards with tax justice and accounting experts – full details on the event page.
South-Eastern Europe talks about Debt and Public Infrastructure
20 March 2019, Brussels, Belgium
Fanny will be heading to Brussels for a conference organised by several NGOs and think tanks from the Balkans. Participants will present research on the interlinked crises of public debt, infrastructure and the environment in the region, where the EU is promoting debt-financed infrastructure projects with financing conditional on public-private partnerships. The event will also outline policy alternatives to the models of financialization, mega-infrastructure and predatory extractivism in the region, hence providing an opportunity to discuss civil society perspectives and alternative models of public finance.
21-22 March 2019, Brussels, Belgium
Fanny will also attend the third meeting of the ReCommons Europe network, which does advocacy work with European policy makers in relation to development aid and financial policies that the EU and the European governments implement internationally, most importantly in relation to the countries of the Global South. It also aims to strengthen social movements in Europe working on those topics. The organisers of the network are CADTM (Committee for the Abolition of Illegitimate Debt), ERENSEP (the European Research Network on Social and Economic Policy), and ELA, the largest trade union in the Basque country.
IN THE MEDIA
The Municipal Journal reported in February that Research for Action is pressing for a review of the 2014 Local Audit and Accountability Act. This is the piece of legislation we have used extensively as part of our work on LOBO loans, both to acquire information and to file objections to council accounts. Although the Act has enabled us and local campaigners to get the LOBO loan scandal into the public eye, we have come across its limitations and are advocating for it to be reviewed. See our guide on how to use the LAA Act here.
FROM OUR NETWORKS
BankJob will write off £1.2m of predatory debt
Our friends at BankJob will this week send letters to hundreds of Walthamstow residents, notifying them that some of their debt will be written off. This is very exciting, and the first time there has been a systematic, political write-off of personal debt in the UK! For more about their project and future plans, see BankJob’s website.
Mozambique files lawsuit against Credit Suisse in the UK
In an amazing victory for debt justice campaigners in Mozambique and Jubilee Debt Campaign in the UK, the government of Mozambique has filed a legal case against the UK-based bank. Without the approval of Parliament and the knowledge or international creditors like the IMF, Credit Suisse and VTB loaned the country £2m for mega-projects that appear to have been spent illegitimately on military equipment. Read more on Jubilee Debt Campaign website.
Media Democracy Festival
16 March 2019, 10am-6pm, London
The Media Democracy Festival brings together media democracy campaigners, journalists, researchers and citizens to take part in discussions on a range of issues and to imagine a more democratic media. Workshops range from media ownership and diversity, to tech platforms and local media. The festival is co-organised by the Media Fund, an organisation set up to support independent media which we are part of.
City of London walking tour
24 March 2019, 4:30-6:30pm, City of London
Comic, economist and writer Susie Steed will lead a City of London walking tour that reveals how the city within a city wields power over the state. It promises to visit the City of London Corporation, discover how finance companies get to vote in UK elections and explain how money is flowing through the City and offshore. Tickets at Eventbrite.
Municipalism 2019: An International Exchange
4-5 April 2019, Leicester
The Centre for Urban Research on Austerity (CURA) at De Montfort University, Leicester, is hosting a two-day conference on New Municipalism. It is an international event in collaboration with University of Girona and the Betiko Foundation, and includes discussing the concept of New Municipalism as well as roundtables where experiences and reflections on how to deliver municipalism are shared.