All posts filed under: Economics

New Study on Rising Suicide Rates in the US Suggests Capitalism Is Quite Literally Killing Americans

by Grit Post Editorial Board, June 11, 2018 A study released late last week showed that suicide rates have risen significantly across the country. The culprit appears to be capitalism. t’s largely assumed that people who decide to kill themselves are suffering from a mental illness. Mental Health America estimates that 30 to 70 percent of Americans who end their own lives are suffering from either severe depression or bipolar disorder. However, according to a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 54 percent of Americans who committed suicide in 27 states in 2015 had no known mental health condition. The CDC study, which examined suicide rates in all 50 states between 1999 and 2016, found that the rate of Americans taking their own lives increased by an alarming 38 to 58 percent in 12 states, 31 to 37 percent in another 12 states, and 19 percent to 30 percent in another 12 states. The CDC found that on average, suicide rates jumped by more than 30 percent for all 50 states. The only state that …

AUDIO: Academic Propaganda Protecting US Financial Imperialism

Australia’s Renegade Economists radio show interviews US economist Michael Hudson (June 7, 2018). Prof Michael Hudson joins to review his critique of US financial imperialism in light of recent events. From the World Bank, IMF through to deep state strategy, Hudson is the best in the business at tying the economic pressures in our lives to the geo-political forces at work.

VISA Payment Crash and the Dangers of a Cashless World

Yesterday, Visa’s payment system crashed in Europe. Millions of people were unable to complete purchases. Some found themselves trapped overseas. It was a small glitch, apparently, but could have caused a major panic.

This situation should be a special warning to the people of the UK, who on average carry only £17 in cash at any moment, and where 1/4 of us will leave a store if paying by card is not an option. I count myself among those people.

Open Source Investigation: The War on Cash

Following last nights shutdown of Visa’s payment system across large parts of Europe, we thought this would be good time to revisit the topic of money. Cold hard cash is on the way out, following a sustained global effort to undermine its usage. Is that a good thing? Does the Visa crash exemplify just how little power the consumer wields in a world of universally digital payments? James Corbett has been running his Open Source Investigation into the “War on Cash” since 2016, here we post some of the more concerning findings. Feel free to contribute BTL if there are any further developments, or get in touch with The Corbett Report directly here. The Cashless Society List ARGENTINA – Argentina’s currency crisis has been known for some time. In short, Argentinians don’t trust the peso and are willing to pay premium for any currency they perceive as “more stable,” especially US dollars which are traded on the black market as “blue dollars” at prices far exceeding the official exchange rate. That’s why Argentina has been …

Globalization the EU and the Road to Serfdom

It might be a good idea to start with some theoretical clarifications. Firstly, nationalism should not be confused with national sovereignty. Nations which are effectively ruled by outside agents – from Greece to Honduras – are not sovereign; they are colonies or vassals of some larger agency. And since they are not sovereign, the cannot be democratic, since decision making, and policies have been abrogated to an external ruling power. Secondly, nationalism: the term which in general is generally regarded as the all-weather bête noire by the orthodox left, can be and often is aggressive, racist, imperialistic, and so forth.

US ‘Empire of Debt’ will go to war to stop emergence of petro-yuan

RT Reports: The imminent introduction of oil trading in yuan is a very bold move by the Chinese, because the US will not give up the basis of its hegemony – the dollar as the world’s reserve currency – without a fight, Max Keiser, host of RT’s financial program ‘Keiser Report’ has said. The Chinese plan to roll out a yuan-denominated oil contract before the end of this year is a very brave move, since countries who “tried to exit the oil-dollar matrix have met terrible ends,” Keiser pointed out. “Saddam Hussein wanted to trade oil in Euros and he was killed, Muammar Gaddafi wanted to trade his energy in something other than the US dollar – he was killed,” Keiser said. China, however, has the resolve and the resources to pull-off the de-dollarization, and besides, it’s backed by several major countries which are “resistant to America’s financial cartel,” namely Russia and Iran, Keiser said. “Kudos to China for taking this project on and of course they are rumored to be a big buyer in …

Another Europe is Needed

by Ernesto Screpanti, January 5, 2018, Lexit-Network Since the end of World War II, tribal rivalries and xenophobic sentiment in Europe have never been as strong as they are today. And this is but one of the European Union’s “successes”. Not to mention the resurrected warmongering vocation that led the Union to feed conflicts in Libya, Syria, Ukraine and, when the Union was still in the preparatory phase, to favor the explosion of devastating civil wars in Yugoslavia. Another series of “successes” has involved the social and economic sphere, with increases in unemployment, poverty, and inequality; the deterioration of labor conditions; reductions in workers’ rights; greater labor insecurity and precariousness; worsening welfare in the areas of education, health services, public utilities and social security; the proletarianization of the middle classes; rising uncertainty and, last but not least, the threatening of household savings by a predatory financial sector. Meanwhile, the process of convergence of the national economies, prophesied by the founding fathers as one of the most important effects of the Union, turned out to be …

South-East Asia Getting Killed by Logging and Mining

Text and Photos: Andre Vltchek, first published on New Eastern Outlook When an airplane is approaching Singapore Changi Airport, it makes the final approach either from the direction of Peninsular Malaysia, or from the Indonesian island of Batam. Either way, the scope for natural disaster under the wings is of monumental proportions. All the primary forest of the Malaysian state bordering Singapore – Johor – is now gone and the tremendous sprawl of scarred land, mostly covered by palm oil plantations, is expanding far towards the horizon. The predictable plantation grid pattern is only interrupted by motorways, contained human settlements, and by few, mostly palm oil-related industrial structures. On the Indonesian side, the Island of Batam resembles a horror apocalyptic movie: there is always some thick smoke rising towards the sky, and there are clearly visible, badly planned and terribly constructed towns and villages. Water around the island is of a dubious, frightening color. The environmental destruction is absolute. Batam was supposed to be the Indonesian answer to Singapore. Indonesia was dreaming about a modern …

Shadow Economy, Democracy and the Manipulation of Public Opinion

by Denis Churilov Let’s talk about drugs, pop-music, public opinion manipulation and shadow economy. There’s a sociological concept known as the Overton window (also known as the Window of Discourse). Simply put, it’s a system of various political, cultural and media techniques that can be used to make forbidden topics acceptable, popular, and even policy changing. The classical model deals with ideas in six distinct phases: 1) unthinkable, 2) radical, 3) acceptable, 4) sensible, 5) popular and, finally, 6) policy-shifting. Pulling an idea from “unthinkable” to “policy” stage may take a couple of decades, or just a couple of years, depending on how much media resources do people who are interested in shaping society in a certain way have. Consider the following imaginary example. If the elites wanted to, say, make people engage in coprophagy and to eat their own excrement for breakfast (which is simply unthinkable at this stage), they would first finance the media to make a report, or a documentary, about some mentally unstable persons consuming their own faeces. It would initially …

Capitalism Reduced Indonesian Cities to Infested Carcases

From Jakarta, Surabaya, Bandung, Samarinda and Pontianak, text and photos: Andre Vltchek Several years ago, a prominent Indonesian businessman who now resides in Canada, insisted on meeting me in a back room of one of Jakarta’s posh restaurants. An avid reader of mine, he ‘had something urgent to tell me’, after finding out that our paths were going to be crossing in this destroyed and hopelessly polluted Indonesian capital. What he had to say was actually straight to the point and definitely worth sitting two hours in an epic traffic jam: “No one will be allowed to build comprehensive public transportation in Jakarta or in any other Indonesian city. If a mayor or a governor tries and defies the wishes of the ruthless business community which is in fact controlling most of the Indonesian government, he or she will be dethroned, or even totally destroyed.” These ‘prophetic’ words are still ringing in my ears, several months after the complete destruction of the progressive Jakarta governor, known as Ahok (real name: Basuki Tjahaja Purnama), who tried …

Protests Planned Nationwide as Vote on FCC’s ‘Catastrophic’ Plan to Kill Net Neutrality Looms

by Jake Johnson, from CommonDreams.org With the FCC set to vote on chairman Ajit Pai’s plan to kill neutrality in just over a week, a diverse coalition — ranging from consumer protection organizations to progressive lawmakers to Harvard professors — is denouncing the FCC’s proposals and scheduling nationwide protests to combat the agency’s move to let massive telecom companies “cash in on the internet” at the expense of consumers. Ajit Pai may be owned by Verizon, but he has to answer to Congress, and lawmakers have to answer to us, their constituents.”Evan Greer, Fight for the Future This is the free speech fight of our generation and internet users are pissed off and paying attention,” Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future, said in a statement. “Ajit Pai may be owned by Verizon, but he has to answer to Congress, and lawmakers have to answer to us, their constituents.” Since Pai revealed his plan to gut net neutrality rules just before Thanksgiving, public outrage has continued to grow—even as corporate media outlets have …

A Balanced View of the Economics of Independence in Catalonia

by Angel Ubide, PIIE, September 15, 2015 Editor’s Note: In the light of the recent independence referendum in Catalonia, in which some 43% of the population took part despite police attempts to prevent the vote from taking place by means of violence, we are posting this 2015 article on the economics of the proposed secession. Two years after voters in Scotland rejected independence from the United Kingdom, Spain faces the threat of breakup as Catalonia holds regional elections on September 27. The Catalan president, Artur Mas, leads a pro-independence coalition for these elections, Junts pel Si (Together for Yes), with a single aim: to start a process of independence culminating in secession in 18 months. Polls show the independence coalition achieving a narrow majority in Parliament, though with just 40 percent of the popular vote. With its capital in Barcelona, Catalonia, a region of about 8 million people on the Mediterranean coast just below the Pyrenees, is one of Spain’s more prosperous regions. The pro-independence coalition argues that an independent Catalonia would be economically better …

Vladimir Putin’s 17 years in power: The scorecard

by Alex Krainer The Naked Hedgie Today, October 7, 2017, Russia celebrates the 65th birthday of Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin.  To mark the occasion, we are posting Alex Krainer’s review of Putin’s achievements since 2000. Mr. Putin can’t seem to get a break in the western media. I watched his recent interview with CBS’s Megyn Kelly with her tiresome, boring questions like, “did Russia interfere in our election,” “did your ambassador meet with Trump’s election officials,”  “isn’t it true that you’re a corrupt murderous thug,” etc. Only in response to Kelly’s last question did Mr. Putin get to name a handful of his achievements in Russia. But someone ought to better prepare his talking points on this score. The excerpt below from my upcoming book summarizes how Russia has changed during the 17 years since Mr. Putin has been at the helm. On 26th July 2014 British magazine “The Economist” published an article titled “A web of lies,” opening with the following two sentences: In 1991, when Soviet Communism collapsed, it seemed as if the Russian …

Greece has become the EU’s third protectorate

by Jan Zielonka, August 14, 2015, OpenDemocracy The EU looks increasingly like an empire, having just created its third protectorate in the Balkans. Greece will effectively be run by the EU the way Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina already are. The EU looks, walks and talks like an empire. After extending its borders into Central and Eastern Europe, the EU has just created its third protectorate in the Balkans. From now on Greece will effectively be run by the EU the way Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina already are. Empire is not a synonym of evil despite some bad historical connotations, especially from the colonial era. Power can be exercised in noble ways, and peripheries often prefer to be “conquered” than abandoned. However, the EU’s ambition to run dysfunctional countries by decree is doomed to fail and will represent yet another blow to the project of European integration. Formal involvement of the UN or the IMF in running the protectorates will not exonerate the EU. Enlargement to Central and Eastern Europe has been successful because it empowered local actors. …

The Single-party French State

by Diana Johnstone, via Counterpunch French legislative elections follow hard on the heels of the Presidential election.  The momentum virtually ensures a presidential majority.  So it was taken for granted that voters would give President Emmanuel Macron a docile parliament for his five-year mandate. But these elections were exceptional.  The victory of Macron’s personal party, la République En Marche (REM), is novel in several ways.  Not only has REM won an absolute majority of 350 out of 577 seats in the National Assembly.  REM’s victory has also bled the two traditional governing parties, the Republicans and the Socialists, perhaps fatally. With over 130 seats, the Republican Party of former President Nicolas Sarkozy and its allies came in second, and thus ranks as leading opposition party.  But since Macron successfully lured two Republican politicians into prominent positions in his government – Edouard Philippe as Prime Minister and Bruno LeMaire as Economics Minister – it is hard even for the Republicans’ current leader, François Baroin, to explain just what they will oppose.  How can they be a …

Euro-visions

Lexit’s Digest No. 14 Juncker’s recent ‘State of the Union’ address was widely applauded by Europeanist media outlets. For example, Politico was very impressed by the Commission President’s ‘bold vision for Europe’: One speed. One currency. One president. No to a multi-speed Europe, all 27 Member States shall join the euro-zone and the Schengen agreement rather quickly after Brexit. EU enlargement shall continue, in particular with the Balkan states. How the governments of these entities ‘adapt’ to the Greek style ‘labour market reforms’ expected by the EU from such poor peripheral countries – see an interesting interview on LeftEast on this with Aleksandar Matković (a researcher at the Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory at the University of Belgrade)  here. In that general context it is interesting to see that Andrew Watt – formerly a senior researcher at the European Trade Union Institute in Brussels and now working at the Hans Böckler Foundation of the German trade unions – was very positive about Juncker’s proposals. Equally interesting, his colleague Daniel Seikel, also of the Böckler …

The 6th mass extinction is a product of capitalism — not population growth

by Barnaby Philips, 25 August, 2017, via RCG ‘Every particular mode of production has its own special laws of population, which are historically valid within that particular sphere. An abstract law of population exists only for plants and animals and even then only in the absence of any historical intervention by man’ – Karl Marx, Capital, Volume 1, Chapter 25, pp783-784 ‘You don’t need to be a scientist to know what’s causing the sixth mass extinction,’ began Professor Paul R. Ehrlich in a Guardian article on 11 July. Given the ‘developed’ imperialist world’s throwaway consumerism and the well-documented destruction of the environment by multinational corporations, it should indeed be fairly obvious. Ehrlich however names one main culprit: population growth. His solution? Some unspecified form of ‘humane’ population reduction. Apparently the reason you don’t need to be a scientist is because the pseudo-science of eugenics suffices. Ehrlich must be refuted with science.  It is capitalism’s need for infinite economic growth that is destroying life on earth. Ehrlich is best known for his 1968 book The Population Boom, which warned that …

The German Election: The West’s Nervous Breakdown Continues

by Gregory Barrett, September 25, 2017 Following Sunday’s nationwide parliamentary election here in Germany I can hear the mocking laughter of 1989’s ghost, echoing throughout Europe and around the world. The great victory march of the “Free Market” Religion, which featured pompous, self-righteous politicians, pundits, and other worshippers at the altar of Big Finance strutting and crowing in the years following the fall of the Wall about the final demise and alleged failure of the supposedly evil and misguided socialist idea, has come to a grinding halt. The rapid growth of the anti-immigrant, anti-EU party Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) in Germany – which received almost 13% of the vote and will now be the third biggest party in the new Bundestag or parliament — has been driven, above all, by widespread rage and frustration in Germany’s Eastern states, the former communist German Democratic Republic (Deutsche Demokratische Republik, DDR), over the broken promises made at the time of German reunification regarding “blooming landscapes” (former Chancellor Helmut Kohl) and the associated affluence that was to be expected …

America is Regressing into a Developing Nation for Most People

by Lynn Parramore, April 20, 2017, via Institute for New Economic Thinking A new book by economist Peter Temin finds that the U.S. is no longer one country, but dividing into two separate economic and political worlds You’ve probably heard the news that the celebrated post-WW II beating heart of America known as the middle class has gone from “burdened,” to “squeezed” to “dying.”  But you might have heard less about what exactly is emerging in its place. In a new book, The Vanishing Middle Class: Prejudice and Power in a Dual Economy, Peter Temin, Professor Emeritus of Economics at MIT, draws a portrait of the new reality in a way that is frighteningly, indelibly clear:  America is not one country anymore. It is becoming two, each with vastly different resources, expectations, and fates. Two roads diverged In one of these countries live members of what Temin calls the “FTE sector” (named for finance, technology, and electronics, the industries which largely support its growth). These are the 20 percent of Americans who enjoy college educations, have good …

The Economics of Imperialism

by Philip Roddis, via Steel City Scribblings The most important book I’ve read in years is John Smith’s Imperialism in the Twenty-First Century: Globalization, Super-Exploitation and Capitalism’s Final Crisis. Here’s an abridged extract from its opening words: The collapse of Rana Plaza, an eight-story building housing textile factories, a bank and shops in an industrial district north of Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital, on 24 April 2013, killing 1,133 garment workers and wounding 2,500, was one of the worst workplace disasters in history. This disaster, and workers’ grief, rage, and demands for justice, stirred sympathy and solidarity from working people around the world— and a frantic damage-limitation exercise by the giant corporations that rely on Bangladeshi factories for their products yet deny any responsibility for the atrocious wages, living, and working conditions of those who produce all their stuff. Adding to the sense of outrage is the fact that, the day before, cracks had opened in the building’s structure. An initial inspection resulted in its evacuation and a recommendation that it remain closed. Next morning a bank and …