From Volume 36, Issue 44 of EIR Online, Published Nov. 13, 2009

Global Economic News

'Decameron II': Banking Oligarchs' Attempts To Hoard Flu Drugs Fail

Nov. 6 (EIRNS)—Accounts of bankers' tries to "corner" scarce drugs against H1N1 flu, for their own and employees' exclusive use, are infuriating citizens of several countries—and also call to mind Classical stories of the great plagues at previous times of economic collapse and threatening dark age, brought on by toleration of those oligarchs' folly.

Against the Black Plague, as Boccaccio told of it in his Decameron tales, the oligarchs of 14th-Century Florence, Italy, attempted to lock themselves and their families away "with everything wholesome" and shut out the poor, the artisans, the already-sick, leaving them to die untended.

Today, with vaccine and medication against the swine flu pandemic in very short supply due to oligarchical concentration of their production in a few giant global firms, we read of follies and scandals of bankers:

* In New York, three giant financial firms—Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and Citibank—were found to have had supplies of between 1,000 and 3,000 H1N1 vaccination doses each, shipped to them directly by pharmaceutical companies, bypassing the national distribution system of the Centers for Disease Control, which has fallen far behind the pandemic. When exposed, the financial oligarchs claimed they were distributing the vaccine to their employees "in strict compliance with the CDC's priority groups," including pregnant women and people with chronic health conditions. But the public shaming was great enough that Morgan Stanley was compelled to announce it was giving its hoard to a hospital clinic to distribute.

* In Seoul, the Korea Food and Drug Administration said it raided the office of Tamiflu maker Roche Holdings on Nov. 4, and seized computer files and other documents. The agency said Roche is suspected of helping the Korean units of London-based banking giant HSBC Holdings, and Novartis of Switzerland, to buy large stocks of Tamiflu. HSBC and Novartis were found to have bought enough for more than 5,900 people, it said. The amounts involved show an intent to have a "private stock" in case of emergency, rather than to speculate with it.

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