In many parts of the world, May 1 is Labor Day, a holiday, and observances typically have a noticeably leftwing or socialist character.
But the U. S. Doesn’t recognize such subversive notions, preferring its very tame beer-hotdogs-and-baseball version in September. (That’s Labor — excuse me, Labour Day — in Canada also; I mistakenly thought that was their Thanksgiving Day, but they’ve slotted that in for the second Monday of October. I’ve also long believed that occasion is secretly focused on giving thanks that Canada’s long southern border remains yet unbreached from below since the War of 1812, which, by the way, they won.)
Instead, in keeping with long USA tradition, our federal government marked the occasion this year by bailing out a looted megabank, First Republic, to ensure its mostly well-heeled depositors felt no real pain.
But First Republic’s stockholders are not so lucky. As AP reports, they’re getting a multi-billion-dollar bath, or a pre-bankruptcy haircut:
First Republic’s stock traded at $115 on March 8, then plummeted in the following days and weeks and closed Friday at $3.15. About $20 billion in market value has been wiped out. Trading in the stock was halted before U.S. markets opened Monday.
JPMorgan Chase, which has agreed to buy the deposits and most of the assets of First Republic, stressed that it is not assuming any of First Republic’s corporate debt or preferred stocks.
After a bank’s failure, bondholders are among the last to get paid — stockholders are at the very end of the line. The FDIC does not give estimates on how likely any creditor is to get repaid.
But the agency did say that its deposit insurance fund, which banks pay into, could take a $13 billion estimated loss as a result of First Republic’s failure.
While conditions could change over time, that likely leaves nothing left over for investors to recoup. Stockholders at Silicon Valley Bank and Signature were wiped out.
The outcome was just fine with one interested observer.
“While depositors are being protected, shareholders are losing their investments,” said President Joe Biden during a Rose Garden event focused on small businesses, when asked about the bank seizure. “Critically, taxpayers are not the ones who are on the hook.”
The scene in many other places was quite different from here in Durham NC, as described in the AP report below. But before we get to that, we’ll pause to note the public display in our own mini-anarchic plot.
Here’s our nod to the color of the Left in many places abroad, and even in the U.S. during most of my youth and middle years. Richard Nixon won a Senate seat in 1950 by claiming his liberal opponent, Democrat Helen Gahagan Douglas, was “pink right down to her underwear” (tho he wasn’t asked how he knew that).
Our japonica bush, caught canoodling with a wild primrose. But we are assured they’re “just friends.”
This white honeysuckle is said to be highly invasive and might hanker to take over everything. But we’ll wait and see. The uninvited but perennial morning glories aren’t showing yet, and I think they’ll have something to say about who will be the top invader In The Yard.
But enough of this facade of domestic tranquillity. Here’s a look at what “May Day” is like “on the ground” in other places.
People squeezed by inflation and demanding economic justice took to the streets of cities across Asia and Europe to mark May Day on Monday, in a global outpouring of worker discontent not seen since before the Covid-19 pandemic sent the world into lockdowns.
French unions pushed the president to scrap a higher retirement age. South Koreans pleaded for higher wages. Spanish lawyers demanded the right to take days off. Migrant domestic workers in Lebanon marched in a country plunged in economic crisis.
While May Day is marked around the world on May 1 as a celebration of labor rights, this year’s rallies tapped into broader frustrations. Climate activists spraypainted a Louis Vuitton museum in Paris, and protesters in Germany demonstrated against violence targeting women and LGBTQ+ people.
Celebrations were forced indoors in Pakistan and tinged with political tensions in Turkey, as both countries face high-stakes elections. Russia’s war in Ukraine overshadowed scaled-back events in Moscow, where Communist-led May Day celebrations were once massive affairs.
Across Asia, this year’s May Day events unleashed pent-up frustration after three years of Covid-19 restrictions. This year’s events had bigger turnouts than in previous years in Asian cities, as activists in many countries argued governments should do more to improve workers’ lives.
Across France, thousands marched in what unions hope are the country’s biggest May Day demonstrations in years, mobilized against President Emmanuel Macron’s recent move to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64. Organizers see the pension reform as a threat to hard-fought worker rights, while Macron argues it’s economically necessary as the population ages.
While marchers appeared largely peaceful, police detained 22 people in Paris and dispersed protesters in Lyon with tear gas after troublemakers smashed bank windows and other property. French police have come under fire for using drones to film disruptions on Monday in some cities.
Union members marched from Calais in the north to Toulouse in the south, joined by environmental activists and other groups fighting for economic justice, or just expressing anger at Macron and what is seen as his out-of-touch, pro-business leadership. Activists opposed to the 2024 Paris Olympics and their impact on society and the environment also demonstrated.
In Turkey, police prevented a group of demonstrators from reaching Istanbul’s main square, Taksim, and detained around a dozen protesters, the independent television station Sozcu reported. Journalists trying to film demonstrators being forcibly moved into police vans were also pushed back or detained.
The square has symbolic importance for Turkey’s trade unions after unknown gunmen opened fire on people celebrating May Day at Taksim in 1977, causing a stampede. Dozens were killed.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government has declared Taksim off-limits to demonstrations, leading to frequent clashes between police and protesters trying to reach the square. Meanwhile, small groups were allowed to enter Taksim to lay wreaths at a monument there.
In Pakistan, authorities banned rallies in some cities due to a tense security situation or political atmosphere. In Peshawar, in the country’s restive northwest, labor organizations and trade unions held indoor events to demand better workers’ rights amid high inflation.
More than 70 marches were held across Spain, led by the country’s powerful unions, who warned of “social conflict” if Spain’s low salaries for the EU average did not rise in line with inflation. They also praised incentives to move Spain to a four-day working week to relieve the strain on workers.
In South Korea, tens of thousands of people attended various rallies in its biggest May Day gatherings since the pandemic began in early 2020.
In Tokyo, thousands of labor union members, opposition lawmakers and academics gathered at Yoyogi park, demanding wage increases to offset the impact of rising costs as their lives are still recovering from damage from the pandemic.
They criticized Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s plan to double the defense budget, and said the money should be spent on welfare, social security and improving people’s daily lives. Kishida has promised to focus on raising wages.
In Indonesia, rally-goers demanded the government repeal a job creation law they argue would benefit business at the expense of workers and the environment.
In Taiwan, thousands of workers took to the streets to protest what they call the inadequacies of the self-ruled island’s labor policies, putting pressure on the ruling party ahead of the 2024 presidential election.
In Lebanon, hundreds of Communist Party and trade syndicate members, as well as a group of migrant domestic workers, marched through the streets of downtown Beirut. The country is in the throes of a crippling economic crisis and spiraling inflation, with some three-quarters of the population now living in poverty.
In North Korea, the country’s main Rodong Sinmun newspaper published a lengthy editorial urging workers to lend greater support to leader Kim Jong Un, fulfill their set production quotas and improve public livelihoods.
Protests in Germany kicked off with a “Take Back the Night” rally organized by feminist and queer groups on the eve of May Day to protest against violence directed at women and LGBTQ+ people. Several thousand people took part in the march, which was largely peaceful despite occasional clashes between participants and police.
Numerous further rallies by labor unions and left-wing groups are planned in Germany on Monday.