All posts filed under: Economics

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 …

Venezuela Under Siege by U.S. Empire

by David William Pear, July 20, 2017, The Real News Network It is all about the oil. Whatever else one hears about Venezuela, it is all about the oil. That is what one needs to know first about why the U.S. Empire has Venezuela under siege. It is about the oil. When President Trump says, “Venezuela is a mess; Venezuela is a mess, we will see what happens”, it is all about the oil. When the U.S. Empire imposes sanctions on Venezuela, it is all about the oil. When the mainstream corporate media (i.e. Fake News) cries crocodile tears about democracy, human rights and political prisoners in Venezuela, it is about the oil. When the U.S. calls into session emergency meeting of the United Nations and the Organization of American States, it is about oil. Venezuela has the largest known reserve of oil in the world, and Venezuela controls its own oil, not international corporations; and it uses its oil for the benefit of its people. The U.S. Empire instead wants to control that oil and …

How Prison Labor Is the New American Slavery

by Sara Burrows, June 13, 2016, via Return to Now If you buy products or services from any of the 50 companies listed below (and you likely do), you are supporting modern American slavery. American slavery was technically abolished in 1865, but a loophole in the 13th Amendment has allowed it to continue “as a punishment for crimes” well into the 21st century.  Not surprisingly, corporations have lobbied for a broader and broader definition of “crime” in the last 150 years.  As a result, there are more (mostly dark-skinned) people performing mandatory, essentially unpaid, hard labor in America today than there were in 1830. With 5 percent of the world’s population and 25 percent of the world’s prison population, the United States has the largest incarcerated population in the world.  No other society in history has imprisoned more of its own citizens.  There are half a million more prisoners in the U.S. than in China, which has five times our population.  Approximately 1 in 100 adults in America were incarcerated in 2014.  Out of an adult population of 245 …

China: World’s Leading Defender of Human Rights?

by Kevin Kennedy, May 20, 2016, CanadianPatriot.org “Your question is full of prejudice against China and arrogance … I don’t know where that comes from. This is totally unacceptable,” Was part of the translated response of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, at a recent press conference with Canadian Foreign Minister Stephane Dion, when an iPolitics reporter audaciously asked why Canada is pursuing ties with a China which is ‘mistreating human rights advocates.’ CBC later released a scathing ‘analysis’ comparing President Xi to Chairman Mao, and citing Soros hit-squad Human Rights Watch saying, the regime “has unleashed an extraordinary assault on basic human rights and their defenders with a ferocity unseen in recent years …Senior Chinese leaders, perceiving a threat to their power, now explicitly reject the universality of human rights, characterizing these ideas as ‘foreign infiltration,’ and penalizing those who promote them.“ Many people complain about the ‘human rights record’ in China, and ask how someone can align with such an ‘undemocratic,’ ‘cruel and corrupt regime.’ Many of these people seem to have a prejudice and an unmalleable memory, which is either frozen, …

‘Inclusive Capitalism’, Nancy Pelosi, and the Dying Planet

by Paul Street, July 21, 2017, via CounterPunch A recent Washington Post and ABC poll finds that just 37 percent of Americans think that the Democratic Party “stands for something.”  Fifty two percent say it’s about nothing more than opposing Trump. The 37 percent is right. The Democratic Party stands for something, alright.  It stands for the socio-pathological system of class rule and environmental ruin called capitalism – and for capitalism’s evil Siamese twin imperialism. So does the far more openly right-wing Republican Party, of course, but that’s fairly common knowledge.  It’s more complicated with the Democrats, who like to pose as being “on the left” while carrying water for Big Business. It’s nothing new. Long before the rise of dismal, dollar-drenched neoliberal era Dems and Robert Rubin associates like Bill Clinton and Barack Hamilton Project Obama, the Democrats stood in the lead of the profits regime. This goes all the way back to that savage Indian-killer Andrew Jackson and up through that quintessential corporate liberal Woodrow Wilson, New Deal hero Franklin Roosevelt (who boasted about having saved the …

Number of European working poor doubles in a decade

by Elisabeth Zimmermann , 12 July 2017, WSWS More and more people in work in Europe are being forced into poverty. This is demonstrated by a new study by the Hans Böckler Foundation which was made public last Thursday.  The study, titled “Activation policies and poverty,” notes that a growing proportion of the population of Europe live in poverty, although they are working. The researchers from the Economic and Social Sciences Institute (WSI) of the Böckler Foundation examined the effects of labor market and social policy measures in 18 EU countries from 2004 to 2014. All of the measures were aimed at forcing unemployed people into low-wage labor. According to their research, an average of about 10 percent of the workforce aged between 18 and 64 in the countries studied were “working poor.” This means they earn less than 60 percent of the average income in their country. The proportion of working poor was highest in Romania at 18.6 percent, followed by Greece, 13.4 percent, and Spain, 13.2 percent. In Germany, the number of working …

Nicolas Sarkozy: “No Way To Let The French Colonies Of Africa Have Their Own Currencies!”

by Matthew, via How Africa In an interview with the BMTV television channel, [former president of France] said that the best way to preserve the health of the French economy is to keep the FCFA as the only currency usable in the former French colonies in Africa. France can not allow its former colonies to create their own currency to have total control over their central banks . If this happens, it would be a catastrophe for the public treasury that will lead France to the rank of 20th world economic power. There is no question, therefore, of letting the French colonies of Africa have their own currencies What is the CFA Franc? The CFA franc is the name of two currencies common to several African countries, partly comprising the Central African franc zone (CEMAC) and the franc zone of West Africa ( UEMOA). How does the CFA Franc work? Principle 4 is the most technical. First, it should be noted that the Banque de France opens an account for each central bank (one for …

It’s The Economy Stupid: The Gathering Storm

by Frank In the face of deteriorating global economic conditions the financial and economic powers-that-be seem fixated on policies which are both ineffective and inappropriate. Anyone who entertains the notion that central banks around the world actually know what they are doing, and have the magic box of tricks to get the world economy back on track, really ought to take another look at where we have arrived, and where we are going. Recently the Chairman of the Bank of England (BoE) and former Goldman Sachs employee, Mark Carney, announced new a monetary stimulus package designed to get the UK economy moving again. It consisted of the following measures: Interest rates at a record low of 0.25%, a level not seen in the BoE’s 322-year history with more to come. An extra £60bn of newly created money to buy government bonds, drive down gilt yields and force investors into riskier assets A new £100bn scheme to encourage banks to lend cheaply to UK companies A pledge to buy £10bn of corporate debt issued by UK …

If they don’t want more austerity, racists & non-racists should vote Le Pen

by Ramin Mazaheri The fundamental problem in France today is that racists aren’t polling for Jean-Luc Melenchon. Who? He ran 4th in France’s presidential election in 2012. Same as Jill Stein and you’ve heard of her. He has created the superbly-named Disobedient France Party. You don’t hear about him for the same reason that what you likely read about the recent Austrian election were exhales over the “far-right loss”, when you should have heard “a Green Party wins for 2nd time ever in Europe” (after Latvia). The reason for this is that Western mainstream media is fundamentally capitalist when private and fundamentally status quo when public – that they have no interest in promoting leftist victories, ever. Not even a left-center one like in Austria. For them, history is over – there is no alternative to right-wing economics like austerity as well as the continental domination of Brussels. This rightward fundamentalism is why most of the world knows who ran third in France’s 2012 election – Marine Le Pen of the National Front. Le Pen …

Globalization: The Endgame

by Frank The Federal Reserve Board’s decision to implement a rise in interest rates this month is widely expected. However, this is only the second time in 8 years that this has occurred, the first 0.25% in December of 2015 and, as seems likely, 0.25% one year later. This is hardly tight monetary policy; 50 basis points in 8 years is largely symbolic, although, having said this, the January 2015 hike did cause quite a kerfuffle in the markets. The Fed’s monetary incontinence has been replicated by central banks around the world in their attempts to deal with the bust of 2008, and the sluggish growth since that time. Monetary policy (to be distinguished from fiscal policy) has been used to counter deflationary trends and act as a prop to stave off complete economic/financial collapse. The policies involve several guidelines which include control of interest rates, bank reserve ratios, and Quantitative Easing (QE). The theory and practice of QE is not new. Once called Open Market Operations it involves the Central Bank – in this …

A View From Afar: Trumped! It was the economy, stupid

by Dennis Broe Everyone, meaning mostly the neoliberal elite, is searching for answers at the moment for why the billionaire Trump beat the corporate candidate Clinton. Was it his xenophobic rhetoric which drew angry white Americans, his macho humiliation of women in the face of which his supporters had to hold their noses to vote for him, or was it the (Trumped-up) charges of “Crooked Hilary” aided and abetted by the FBI “October Surprise” of a new treasure trove of (probably mostly irrelevant) emails that are now being “investigated.” A revealing article here in Paris in Le Monde on the eve of the election seems instead to contain the answer for why solidly union and industrial states like Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania would abandon the Democratic party and vote for Trump, who after all was not the choice of the Republican elite. For decades now, politicians have looked to the October economic, labor and jobs report, released last week, to boost their status just prior to the elections. And indeed, the report showed the creation …

“Militarized neoliberalism” and the Canadian state in Latin America

by Jen Moore, via The Monitor Stories of bloody, degrading violence associated with Canadian mining operations abroad sporadically land on Canadian news pages. HudBay Minerals, Goldcorp, Barrick Gold, Nevsun and Tahoe Resources are some of the bigger corporate names associated with this activity. Sometimes our attention is held for a moment, sometimes at a stretch. It usually depends on what solidarity networks and under-resourced support groups can sustain in their attempts to raise the issues and amplify the voices of those affected by one of Canada’s most globalized industries. But even they only tell us part of the story, as Todd Gordon and Jeffery Webber make painfully clear in their new book, The Blood of Extraction: Canadian Imperialism in Latin America (Fernwood Publishing, November 2016). Rather than a series of isolated incidents carried out by a few bad apples,” they write, “the extraordinary violence and social injustice accompanying the activities of Canadian capital in Latin America are systemic features of Canadian imperialism in the twenty-first century.” While not completely focused on mining, The Blood of …

Media Silent as Anti-Corporate Trade Deal Protests Take Europe by Storm

by Carey Wendler, via Antimedia, Oct 17, 2016 Over the weekend [October 15-16], thousands of protesters across multiple countries condemned impending trade deals promoted by governments and their corporate partners. Though the protests received little coverage from mainstream media, they stretched from Paris to Warsaw. The demonstrations came amid the Commission on International Trade of the European Parliament’s plans to finalize the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) this week. The policy has been likened to so-called “free trade” deals pushed by President Barack Obama and other Western governments. CETA, which has been in the works for seven years, would eliminate tariffs between Canada and European nations, which proponents argue would foster increased trade and create jobs.  Nevertheless, the deal has been criticized for granting too much power to multinational corporations, the Guardian reports. Though the European Commission recently drafted a statement claiming “environmental and health standards will not be diluted,” not all policymakers are convinced. Passage of CETA hit a roadblock after the parliament of the Wallonia region of Belgium rejected it.  Wallonia’s minister-president, Paul Magnette, vowed …

How the Gig Economy Profits off Desperation

by Paris Marx, via The Bold Italic, Oct 12, 2016 “Children are running the company [Homejoy] and they act like they are still in college. The poor cleaners are being treated like slaves; the children make fun of them behind their backs; this company is a tax-evader and a moral concern to the working class.” —anonymous former employee of house-cleaning startup Homejoy While the gig economy promises to free workers from the traditional, drab 9-to-5 work environment, the reality is quite different. Many contractors employed in gig economy–type jobs lack health care and retirement benefits, are at the mercy of their employers’ scheduling needs, and — despite being promised so much freedom — find themselves little more than glorified service workers. While the term “gig economy” is sometimes vaguely defined, the Bureau of Labor Statistics describes it as a workforce characterized by “single project[s] or task[s] for which a worker is hired, often through a digital marketplace, to work on demand.” You’re not just imagining all those Ubers trolling Market Street on any given day: the gig economy has gotten big, …

Reforming the international institutional framework – Part 1

by Bill Mitchell, Economic Outlook Net This continues the unedited excerpts that will appear in my new book (with Italian journalist Thomas Fazi) which is nearing completion. This material will be in Part 3 where we present what we are calling a ‘Progressive Manifesto’, which we hope to provide a coherent Left philosophy to guide policy design and policy choices for governments that are struggling to see a way beyond the neo-liberal macroeconomics. In this blog I examine how the international institutional framework has to be reformed to serve a progressive agenda where rich countries (and the elites within them) do not plunder then pillary poor countries. Central to this new framework is the abolition of the World Bank, the IMF and the OECD, all of which have become so sullied by neo-liberal Groupthink that they are not only dysfunctional in terms of their original charter but downright dangerous to the prosperity and freedoms of people. Former World Bank chief economist Joseph Stiglitz told journalist Greg Palast in an interview in 2001 that the IMF …

Hillary Clinton and the big (neoliberal) lie

by Eric Draitser, Stop Imperialism This election season has brought to the surface an issue that, until recently, seemed to have become a neoliberal sacred cow, the holy writ of the lords of capital: free trade. And while this cornerstone of US economic hegemony has come under fire from a deeply reactionary, and to varying degrees racist and xenophobic, perspective, as expressed by Donald Trump, it has nevertheless sparked a much needed conversation about free trade and its destructive impact on both the American working class, and the Global South as well. But free trade having become a campaign issue has also spotlighted for the umpteenth time the breathtaking hypocrisy of Hillary Clinton who I have previously referred to as the high priestess of the Church of Free Trade and Neoliberalism. For it is, in fact, Hillary Clinton who has for more than two decades been one of the loudest and most resolute voices championing neoliberalism and free trade. And still, despite her record, Clinton today presents herself as a friend of the working class. …

Is The Nation-State And Its Welfare State Dead? A Critique Of Varoufakis

by Vincente Navarro, via Social Europe I always read the writings of Mr. Varoufakis with great interest, and I frequently find myself in agreement, particularly in his criticism of the Troika (the International Monetary Fund, European Commission, and European Central Bank) and of the Eurogroup (the Ministers of Economy and Finances of the European Union).  I also concur with his call for a European-wide mobilization to force democracy upon the institutions that govern the EU, although I disagree with his proposed way to do it. He believes (wrongly, I think) that the power of nation-states has practically disappeared in the EU. They do not count any longer.  Based on his Greek experience, when he represented the Syriza government in negotiations with the Troika, he concludes that nation-states do not have any power.  According to Varoufakis, governments and parliaments in these nation-states have been transformed into mere transmission belts of whatever is decided by the Troika and associated institutions.  He writes in one of his recent publications that “European governments transmit to the Parliaments whatever is …

After Greece and Cyprus, they prepare to attack Italy

by Simon Wilson, MoneyWeek Italian banks are on the brink of collapse and EU rules make bail-outs seem politically impossible. Will they fall – and who will they take down with them? Why the worry over Italian banks? A spectre is haunting Europe – the spectre of banking collapses in Italy, which could lead to renewed crisis in the eurozone, and a wider banking crisis affecting other countries with high exposure to Italian bank debt. Italy’s banks are in deep trouble, weighed down by €360bn of bad debt (“non-performing loans” in the jargon), equivalent to a fifth of Italy’s GDP (and about 18% of all the banks’ loans). Shares in the sector have slumped this year as investors began to price in the risk of banking collapses. One of the worst affected has been Monte dei Paschi di Siena, the world’s oldest bank. The sell-off has gathered pace since the shock of the Brexit vote on 23 June caused investors to reevaluate the risks facing European assets. Why are the banks so vulnerable? Most fundamentally …

A Decade of Evidence Demonstrates The Dramatic Failure Of Globalisation

by Graham Vanbergen, TruePublica According to wikipedia, globalisation is the process of international integration arising from the interchange of world views, products, ideas and other aspects of culture.  However, over the last ten years there has been a sea change decline in all the indicators that would measure the success of this model.  Democracy, economic growth, freedom and an interchange of world views and culture has all but been abandoned to a vice like grip of globalisation driven more  by the corporate principles of power and greed resulting in war, terrorism, a biblical refugee crisis, fear and a fully co-opted media. The Economist has just published its annual index on democracy.  They found that out of 167 countries, only twenty are “full democracie s”. Less than 13 per cent of the world’s countries can now claim to be a democracy.  Given that America has graciously forced so much democracy on the world, one could be forgiven for thinking all is not well. In the meantime, Freedom House have published their annual Freedom Index that makes for just as sobering reading. It found that …

European Commission serving a corporate agenda

by Colin Todhunter* A report released last year by the watchdog body Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) revealed huge conflicts of interests in the Scientific Committees under DG SANCO, the European Commission’s department in charge of consumer issues (see here ‘Chemical Conflicts’). These Committees assess the risk to humans and the environment of chemicals found in a huge range of everyday items, from shampoo to baby bottles. Their opinions guide European Commission regulators, who decide which chemicals are safe and at what levels and which should be banned. The research found that two thirds of scientists had at least one, and some many more, conflicts of interest due to their links to industries impacted by assessments. The research focused on assessment procedures involving the Scientific Committees with regard to four substances, including endocrine disrupting parabens and DNA-damaging titanium dioxide – in nano-form. All of the substances are already widely available on the market. Having gone through the annual declarations of the interests of all 57 members involved in the Scientific Committees’ opinions on the four substances examined (parabens, nano titanium-dioxide, nano silver, …