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LA STAMPA

Modern Slavery? Lessons From A Young Banker's Death In London

What the death of an overworked young German financial trainee tells us about the drunken carousel of the 21st century economy.

Moritz Erhardt was a trainee at Bank of America's London HQ
Moritz Erhardt was a trainee at Bank of America's London HQ
Massimo Gramellini

Perhaps, a balanced world was never possible. But what lurks behind the glorious banner of global progress looks ever more like a merry-go-round piloted by a drunk. In London, a fresh-faced German kid, just 21, named Moritz Erhardt, died in the shower of a dormitory after having worked in the City from 9 a.m. to 6 a.m. the following morning: twenty-one consecutive hours — for three days straight, feeding himself with only coffee.

At this young age, one can typically survive even worse hardships, and it is believed that Moritz may have suffered from epilepsy. Nevertheless, his death has turned the spotlight on a reality: While the majority of young people cannot find a job, those who do find a good position wind up being squeezed to the extreme by their employers. Trainees in the City work on average 14 hours a day and earn the equivalent of 3,000 euros a month — good money in many places but not in London, where renting a studio can cost 1,800 euros; indeed, Moritz slept in a hostel.

This striking contradiction between the few who work too much and the many who work too little, if at all, appears to be the result of a system devoid of government. Human history, which is a story of slaves often unaware of being such, has always been like this, with the exception of a short period — from the end of World War II to the 1970s — when, at least in the Western world, it was possible to distribute work and wealth, and thus create a middle class. But that period is over, and the drunk's carousel is running again. Only political leaders could stop it, but they've long since lost the keys. Or sold them instead.

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eyes on the U.S.

Eyes On U.S. – American Diplomacy Is Unable (Or Unwilling) To Adapt To A New World

Crises worldwide mean we need less nationalism and more cooperation, but the U.S., a weakened superpower, won't accept its diminished status.

Close up photo of a somber-looking flag of the U.S.

America the not-so-Great anymore

Juan Gabriel Tokatlian, Ginevra Falconi, Renate Mattar

-Analysis-

BUENOS AIRES — There is widespread international consensus that the post-Cold War period, which began around 1990, is over. Initially, it heralded a "new order" under the guidance of the United States, which promised stability, justice and equity but became instead a run of crises, challenges, conflicts and failures.

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