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This a revised and slightly expanded transcript of a talk given by Doug Henwood at the Brecht Forum, New York City, June 25, 1997. It was televised by C-SPAN on June 30 and July 1, 1997. The links were updated in April 2005; the rest of the text is unchanged.
With the Dow pushing 8,000, and our collective national attention focused on the stock market with a fervor unseen for almost 30 years - with the prominent exception of a little 500 point decline almost ten years ago - and people talking seriously about privatizing Social Security and putting all our public retirement funds in the hands of Wall Street, there's hardly been a better time to talk seriously about the real meaning of the financial markets. Unfortunately, with triumphalism the national mood, and pundits and politicians promoting the U.S. economy as a model for the world - an example being Clinton's strutting behavior at the recent G-7 summit - what I'm about to say runs sharply against the grain. By the way, I think the triumphalism is highly unwarranted, a theme I'll return to at the end of this talk. For now, let's just talk about Wall Street.