06/22/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The People's Hedge Fund & Fighting For Economic Justice Using Boycotts Tied to Short-Sales: My Interview in Playboy France

This interview in Playboy France has never been translated into English and made available outside of France. Since this interview first appeared, books like Naomi Klein´s The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism have put renewed emphasis on deconstructing the underlying assumptions of neo-liberal capitalism by looking closely at the destructive assumptions that buttress suicidal American economic policies.

Playboy Upset against ethical funds "that are useless," America's Max Keiser, owner of Karmabanque, wants to make Coca-Cola and McDonald pay by calling for a boycott and by capitalizing on the parallel decline in their shares on the stock exchange.

Playboy What are the main objectives of Karmabanque?

Max Keiser We try to provide some balance in the world of economics and of the market. The theories developed two centuries ago by neo-classical economists like Adam Smith and David Ricardo are totally obsolete and the neo-liberal world policy advocated by the Anglo-Saxons is clearly much more harmful than beneficial. For each unit of profit achieved by corporations of these countries, there are more than one unit of environmental damage in the world. The Washington Consensus, which governs the main companies of our planet is in the process of killing her.

PB Why?

MK Because at the time, Adam Smith and David Ricardo considered the environment and resources around the world as infinite and at zero cost. However, we know today that this is false. The neo-liberal model has become a sort of extremely dangerous "corporate virus".

PB You advocate an economics based ethic with Karmabanque, but the so-called ethical funds have existed for a long time. Are they effective?

MK They are a waste of time for two reasons. First, they don't directly integrate activists, as Karmabanque does and are unable to give a monetary value to the dispute, the boycott, and to include it in the real value of the stock of any corporation. Secondly, to grow, these companies need a financial bubble, or a financial expansion system which is not our case. Our system can operate in decreasing economy, and this is what we are fighting

PB How can you change the system?

MK By bringing more balance. As George Soros said, the markets are "very far from the notion of balance" and capitalism can only function with real balance, if all costs (human, social and environmental) are taken into account. I am not anti-capitalist or anti-market or anti-profit ... I think these things can work if we find that balance. Our system is plagued by the horrors of speculation that ignores human and environmental rights. They see them as a luxury..

PB Why did you choose Coca-Cola, McDonald's or Starbucks as priority targets?

MK These companies have designated themselves as targets. We filter the data and we make it available to activists. Coca-Cola has generated anti-Coca campaigns in nearly two hundred countries and financial markets, which think about nothing else but sales figures, are vulnerable to any form of boycott. By boycotting Coca-Cola, we bring it's stock down on the exchanges, because its prospective sales will erode. It's the same thing for Starbucks or McDonald's. But not for Exxon. This company is not vulnerable to boycott because it does not sell directly to consumers.

PB How can Karmabanque fight against these companies?

MK By informing, on the various boycotts happening, those who buy shares, and by education. The more activists will understand the rules of the financial system, the more effective they will be in their boycotting actions. We believe that an intelligent boycott as a meeting between George Soros and Gandhi.

PB Is your strategy successful?

MK Coca-Cola's stock has lost ground since the beginning of our campaigns and various articles published in the press, including the The Ecologist magazine.

PB You are going to launch an investment fund of 750 000 euros and you say that its profits would be redistributed to victims of companies that you fight. But how do you plan to identify these victims?

MK community activists on our Web site and The Ecologist magazine will help us determine the people to whom we should send money.

DB What will your next target be?

MK We have a list of target companies on the site. The market self-indicates its own targets and Karmabanque indicates them to activists. We are a sort of broker in a protest, or a protester's Dow Jones index, if you prefer.

Original article by

Yqnn Quélennec

Translated from French to English by Jay Walker

Playboy France Link to French Version

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