This collapse comes hard on the heels of an acute economic crisis in south Korea.
In addition, a medium sized Japanese bank has folded in the past few days and Thailand is in the process of having to agree terms with the ubiquitous International Monetary Fund (IMF) -- the capitalist countries of the Pacific Rim and so-called "tiger economies" of Asia are in serious trouble.
The shock waves have been felt in all the world's stock markets. But the economic pundits assure us that, although there may very well be more Yamaichis to come, the dangsi of a global crash and major worldwide depression will be averted by the swift national and international action that is being taken.
But as with all mess -- someone has to pay for the clean up. And as usual that someone will be working people. For, although Some investors will lose money -- a risk they knowingly take when they invest their money (or borrowed money) in the hope of making more -- the shaky banks and other finance institutions will be baled out by governments (public money) and through a stepping up of anti-working class measures by those governments.
Already the Japanese government has pledged to underwrite the losses so far incurred in order to prevent a run on the banks and to reassure investors and markets abroad. But this must mean making economies in other areas -more belt-tightening for the Japanese working class.
The crisis in south Korea has led to the arrival in Seoul of the swat team from the IMF. They never come without bringing along an array of- conditions that must first be agreed and signed.
These conditions are always very bad news for the majority of the people who are made to suffer for the greedy activities of the rich and the roller-coaster ride which is capitalism.
Little wonder that south Korean trade unionists staged a sit-in last week at the Seoul stock exchange and protest actions against the government are mounting.
Judging by what the IMF has said so far, the crisis looks likely to lead to greater monopolisation of the finance and banking sector throughout the region.
Clinton has also been busy handing out plenty of self-serving advice to Japan. This includes pressing the Japanese government to boost consumer spending and to encourage more foreign imports.
The US has long complained that the Japanese market is not sufficiently open to US imports. Clinton clearly sees an opportunity for US big business in Japan's current difficulties that he can exploit -- but that is not good news for Japanese workers and Japanese jobs.
And this is the rub -- capitalism is incapable of resolving the contradictions within its own system. The overproduction crisis has not gone away -- there, are still too many goods for the markets to absorb, despite the fact that millions live in dire poverty and lack the most basic neccessities of life.
Capitalism wants it all ways. It wants workers to produce more and more goods at ever rising levels of efficiency. But it doesn't want to pay those workers a penny more than it can get away with. Workers are also the consumers and if wages and incomes are low the goods produced cannot be sold.
The capitalists, who are constantly struggling to maintain an ever increasing rate of private profit, do not want to raise wages or lower prices.
This unresolved contradiction also makes it increasingly difficult for capitalists to find new areas for investment -starting up more manufacturing industries is not a good idea when there is low consumption of the goods already being produced.
This has led to more and more money being invested in currency markets, futures markets and other very high risk speculative ventures. As with the collapse of Barings Bank these dealings can go spectacularly wrong.
There is an answer. Get rid of capitalism and put an end to the
dictatorship of the rich. Then we can begin to build a socialist society
in which the working class -- the majority of the people -- hold the reins
of state power. A socialist society would be based on meeting people's
heeds, not gambling with their lives and livelihoods. Capitalism serves
only a few -- let's work for a better way and a better life for everyone!
In fact he is going further than the Tories in pleasing the bosses by cutting corporation tax to just 30 per cent and abolishing advance corporation tax, paid by shareholders on dividends.
Meanwhile, for those workers who have endured real falls in living standards under the Tory regime, he gave no hope of a change of fortune. In fact he warned that pressure for wage rises will upset all his best laid plans.
This, coupled with the Bank of England's free hand to raise lending rates means that the brakes are being firmly applied to the economy.
The measures taken to keep inflation low and reduce spending will cut demand and so cut jobs.
He has promised some positive policies. Pensioners will get some extra help with winter fuel, £20 for most and £50 for those on Income Support.
This is welcome as far as it goes but it is very small beer compared to a whole winter's heating bills. And it takes no account of the differences in regional needs.
Pensioners in Scotland and the north of England, facing a colder climate, get no extra help to make up for their bigger heating bills.
Mr Brown announced plans to set up 30,000 new out-of-school clubs with one million places to be set up over the next five years for school age children to be cared for out of school hours while their parents are working -- evenings and school holidays.
This will be a boon to working parents, especially those with no partner. It will enable many of them to seek full-time jobs -but with no guarantees that the jobs will be there.
Mr Brown announced that he will introduce a 10 pence starting rate for tax for the low paid and allow tax credits through wage packets for working families on low incomes.
The bosses will he very happy with this as it will enable them to continue to pay very low wages.
Meanwhile all these tax cuts mean that we are going to see yet more and more public spending cuts. This was not said but it must follow.
After 19 years of Tory cuts, some public services don't have much left to cut.
But there are still some bits and pieces of state property left to privatise.
A few days ago the government produced its New Domesday Book -- a review of everything owned by the government and indirectly by all of us, down to the last paper clip.
Neatly half the total of the government's property belongs to the Ministry of Defence, including 98 Royal Navy establishments, 52 surface ships and submarines.
The army owns three rifles for every soldier. In addition the MoD owns 709 works of art, 226 antiques and 517 horses.
The Forestry Commission owns 2.5 million acres, the Scottish Office has 48 castles and the Treasury has 26 fork-lift trucks.
In warning workers not to press for higher wage rises, the Chancellor
also made it clear that he expects "modern working practices" and "flexibility"
In other words, worse conditions and longer hours for most of us while others remain on the dole.
One officer from the public sector union Unison said: "It is always public sector workers who are told to tighten their belts. They are always told they can't have a rise because the Public Sector Borrowing Rate is too high, but now it is low we are still being told to get to the back of the queue. We fear long-term may mean never.
There are definite signs the working class is losing patience
and will not take this from Labour much longer.
Junior social security minister John Denham admitted last week in a BBC television Newsnight programme that the government is looking for savings on the benefits paid to the disabled, which have increased from £4 billion in 1982 to £23 billion last year.
He said the governtment's aim is to get disablcd people "back to work" -- just as it is pressurising single parents "back to work".
The truth is that neither of these groups is responsible for the current, and now more or less permanent, high levels of unemployment.
It was not the disabled or single parents who demolished our industrial base nor inflicted the spending cuts on the public sector that have led to millions of job cuts.
But it means that for every job vacancy there are dozens of applicants and those who are disabled or who are experiencing problems finding the necessary childcare will always he pushed to the back or the queue.
The current proposals being considered include taxing Disability Living Allowance and Attendance Allowance; limiting Incapacity Benefit to 13 weeks; abolishing industrial injuries benefit and making employers responsible for the payments.
Even some of Blair's chosen Cabinet ministers are not happy with these plans.
In opposition, Labour strongly condemned Tory attempts to save money by cutting disability beneits.
Disability groups have called on Social security Secretary Harriet Harman to start consulting them, saying they were alarmed at what is being discussed in secret.
The head of cerebral palsy charity Scope, Brian Lamb, said: "We know documents are circulating about proposals to make changes to benefits and we challenge Ms Harman to come clean about the government's proposals."
And a woman claimant from Mid Glamorgan, who gets Incapacity Benefit and who's husband gets Disability Living Allowance, said: "We've been Labour Party members for 30 years; we've been councillors, officers, the lot.
"I never thought the Party would do this. I feel totally betrayed."
Earlier in the week more than 50 back-bench Labour MPs had signed a Commons motion calling on the government to postpone planned cuts in One Parent Benefit until an assessment could be done of its effects on families, who could lose up to £11 a week.
Just a year ago Harriet Harman herself had defended the benefit, attacking Tory plans to cut it.
"The abolition will make working lone mothers worse off and discourage work among this group," she said.
"Lone Parent Premium recognises that lone parents face additional
costs in bringing up their children -- they do not have a partner's time
or income to help with the children."
Now she is implementing those very Tory cuts herself.
MPs at a meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party denounced this policy U-turn, and not even Blair's spin doctors could paper over the cracks.
Other members of Labour's social security team came in for attack, especially Frank Field. But the Labour rebels made it clear their attack was targeted more at Chancellor Gordon Brown than anyone else. It is his inflexible insistence on keeping to Tory spending limits over the next two years that is forcing all other policies to follow Tory lines.
Audrey Wise MP, one of the leading rebels, said: "I have not had to go around looking for signatures, people are coming to me, keen to sign it (the Commons protest motion).
"Even some parliamentary private secretaries have said they would love to support it but are banned from signing motions against government policy.
"People are very sad about doing this. My own view is that this
is nothing personal against Harriet. It is the government implementing
Tory policy that is angering people."
And the Japanese government has strongly denied rumours that Tokyo too may soon he seeking IMF money following the crash of one ofJapan's oldest financial corporations. But there are mounting fears in the money markets of an Asian crash which could lead to a global crisis.
On Tuesday night the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation summit in Vancouver agreed to back an IMF initiative and Japan is being pressed to use its resources to prop up its own financial system which is riddled with bad debts and corruption.
Malaysian Premier Dr Muhammad Mahathir blamed greedy currency traders with billions of dollars who had managed to wipe out two decades of Asian economic growth in two weeks.
President Fidel Ramos of the Philippines said the financial crisis in Asia was now so big that IMF money might now not be sufficient to restore confidence and stability in the region.
South Korean President Kim Young Sam has begged the IMF to give him a $50 billion bailout loan and three IMF inspectors arrived in Seoul last Saturday to start negotiations. The exact amount of the rescue loan will be determined in talks over the next few weeks, and it is bound to result in a further loss of economic independence and cause dramatic upheavals in the economy of the American occupied south of Korea.
Figures for August revealed that the south Korean trade deficit had climbed to $381 million. This widened the trade deficit for the year to the colossal sum of $10,243 million.
Expects predict that the IMF will insist on a draconian "self-rescue"
plan which will lead to mass bankruptcies, a crash in property values,
mass redundancies and the suspension of large investment projects. South
Korea, once one of Asia's self-styled economic "tigers", will become even
more dependent economically on American and Japanese imperialism.
In the south a new wave of workers and students strikes is spreading as the regime prepares for controlled presidential elections next month. The scandal-hit ruling New Korea Party has patched up an alliance with one of its rivals to form the "Grand National Party", in a bid to remain in office while facing a challenge from the trade union backed "People's Victory 21" bloc. And its leader, Lee Hoi Chang, has denounced Kim Young Sam for corruption and urged him to quit the party.
Last month workers in the motor industry downed tools in a protest
against the threat of bankruptcies. Over 20,000 workers shut down the Kia
Motor Co in a day-long protest called by the Asia Motor Trade Union and
other democratic trade union federations in south Korea supported by other
blue and white-collar workers throughout the south.
Kim Young Sam's sleaze-ndden regime has outstripped its anny predecessor
in repression and brutality. Over 63,000 people are behind bars, 10,000
more than the official capacity of the regime's prisons, including 2,000
prisoners of conscience. The riot police have had their strength increased
by 39,000 men, now organised into 19 companies well-versed in the martial
As the Asian markets reeled in response to the turmoil in Seoul, confidence was further eroded with the news of the crash of one of Japan's major brokers, followed by the collapse of a provincial bank a few days later.
Shohei Nozawa, boss of Yamaichi Securities, sobbed as he announced the firm's collapse to the press in Tokyo on Monday. Yamaichi closed with debts of around £14.8 billion making it the biggest financial crash in Japan since the war.
Investors besieged Yamaichi branches across Japan on Tuesday demanding their money back as the Japanese stock exchange dived and the yen hit its lowest point for five years.
Yamaichi, which has traded for over a hundred years, was Japan's forth largest brokerage. It was forced to close in face of mounting debts and liabilities caused in part by involvement in organised crime racketeering.
In Tokyo the Finance Ministry accused international investors and credit-rating agencies of over-reacting after shares in some Japanese banks and brokers nose-dived over 30 per cent in the wake of the Yamaichi crash.
Tokuyo City Bank was the first victim of the fall-out, closing its doors for good on Tuesday and transferring its business to another bank. Tokuyo executives said the rapid fall in its share price had triggered panic withdrawals making it difficult to raise funds.
** Democratic Korea has agreed to talks in Geneva aimed
at establishing an enduring peace on the Korean peninsula. The talks, with
the United States, People's China and south Korea will begin on 9 December
and Democratic Korea has called for the withdrawal of the 37,000 US troops
from the south to be placed top of the agenda.
This will leave decisions about what is given priority on conference agendas and which resolutions even get discussed firmly in the hands of CND officers, full-time staff and council members rather than delegates as before.
As if to prove the point, a resolution submitted by Labour Action for Peace was not on the agenda.
Delegates were told that CND must have a "mission statement" which will "encapsulate our vision, the rationale for our identity".
Many members feel the title, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
is in itself a clear "mission statement".
There was considerable opposition to these changes in the CND structure. Many felt they smacked ofa "New Labour" approach and talking more in terms of multilateral disarmament than unilateral.
The conference opened with a report on the past year's activities, including the campaign against Trident, for the non-proliferation treaty, the Abolition 2000 round table and campaigning around the Faslane naval base, where the local authority has moved to evict the peace camp.
Scottish National Party MP Colin Campbell addressed the conference, pointing out his patry's opposition to Trident and First Strike tactics, but not totally opposed to Nato.
One important resolution warned of the danger of Nato expansion in to eastern Europe. It was moved by Rae Street but as it was unopposed, no time was allowed for discussion.
This was a great pity as this danger needs to be emphasised. Nato is bringing the nuclear threat right up to Russia's borders in preparation for the time when the Russian people decide they have had enough of the new capitalism and try to return to communism.
Another resolution concerned the necessity for the conversion of the nuclear weapons industry and the transfer of skills involved building Trident to civilian ship-building.
A resolution entitled "Trident and an ethical foreign policy" called for "multinational negotiations towards a mutually balanced and verifiable reduction in nuclear weapons" -- as stated in New Labour's manifesto.
During the debate on a resolution on the nuclearisation of space, those who campaigned against Nasa's launch of the Cassini space probe which was powered by a large lump of plutonium dioxide, claimed that Nasa has another 11 similar plutonium-powered probes in the pipe-line.
And the United States plans to deploy a new star wars style missile defence system by the year 2003.
Nuclear waste transportation will be another focus of campaigning. There is no safe solution to the long-term storage of plutonium yet the world keeps producing more.
Jeremy Corbyn MP, in a workshop on Nato expansion in eastern Europe and the European Fighter Aircraft, warned that the world's arms stock is increasing, in spite of the end of the Cold War.
An emergency resolution on Iraq condemned Prime Minister Tony Blair for his willingness to follow US warmongering and to deploy an aircraft carrier, Harrier attack planes (with nuclear capability) and RAF Tornado bombs in the region.
CND came out in favour of diplomacy through the United Nations.
Peace should be an essential part of all comrades' work.