Economic Articles from 2016

How Systems Break: First They Slow Down

How Systems Break: First They Slow Down
by Charles Hugh Smith
Posted April 22, 2016

complex natural systems mirror financial systemsComplex systems like ecological food webs, the brain, and the climate all give off a characteristic signal when disaster is around the corner. The key insight here is that financial systems and indeed economies function as natural systems. The dominant systems do not operate in a vacuum; beneath the surface dominance of one system are many other systems that are suppressed by the dominant system.

The signal, a phenomenon called ‘critical slowing down,’ is a lengthening of the time that a system takes to recover from small disturbances, such as a disease that reduces the minnow population, in the vicinity of a critical transition. It occurs because a system’s internal stabilizing forces—whatever they might be—become weaker near the point at which they suddenly propel the system toward a different state. More…

New Report Finds Many Large, Profitable U.S. Corporations Pay No Federal Income Taxes

New Report Finds Many Large, Profitable U.S. Corporations Pay No Federal Income Taxes
By Andrew Emett
Posted April 19, 2016

corporate tax dodgersBetween 2008 and 2013, General Electric, Boeing, and Verizon paid no federal income taxes. During that period, these three companies amassed more than $102 billion in combined profits, yet they ended up receiving over $4.1 billion in income tax rebates from the IRS.

According to a report last year from U.S. PIRG (Public Interest Research Group) Education Fund and Citizens for Tax Justice, nearly 75% of Fortune 500 companies tucked away $2.1 trillion in accumulated profits offshore to avoid paying U.S. income taxes. In 2014, at least 358 of these massive corporations maintained 7,622 tax haven subsidiaries throughout Panama, Bermuda, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and other havens. More…

Wall Street Should Pay a Sales Tax, Too

Wall Street Should Pay a Sales Tax, Too
By Sarah Anderson
Posted April 18, 2016

tax the bankersIn case there was any doubt, the presidential election fight has confirmed that blasting Wall Street, even eight years after the financial crisis, is still a vote-getter. Hillary Clinton has said she’d like to jail more bankers. Donald Trump has skewered the hedge fund managers who are “getting away with murder.” And Bernie Sanders has made Wall Street accountability a centerpiece of his campaign.

Of course, financial industry lobbyists aren’t about to take this lying down. In recent weeks, they’ve turned up the heat on lawmakers to block one particular measure that Sanders has mentioned in nearly every stump speech: taxing Wall Street speculation. More…

Regulators Reject ‘Living Wills’ of Five Financial Giants

Regulators Reject ‘Living Wills’ of Five Financial Giants
by Lisa Lambert
Posted April 17, 2016

bank living wills rejectsU.S. regulators gave a failing grade to five big banks on Wednesday, including JP Morgan and Wells Fargo, on their plans for a bankruptcy that would not rely on taxpayer money, giving them until Oct. 1 to make amends or risk sanctions.

The move officially starts a long regulatory chain that could end with breaking up the banks. Nearly a decade after the financial crisis, it underscored how the debate about banks being “too big to fail” continues to rage in Washington and exasperate on Wall Street. Wednesday’s announcement was the first time the two major banking regulators, the Federal Reserve and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, issued joint determinations flunking banks’ plans, commonly called “living wills. More…

The Lies of Neoliberal Economics (or How America Became a Nation of Sharecroppers)

The Lies of Neoliberal Economics (or How America Became a Nation of Sharecroppers)
by Michael Hudson and Chris Hedges
Posted April 4, 2016

sharecroppers So, we spoke in previously about the parasitic quality of the banks, hedge funds and the speculative class that has in essence cannibalized the country – including, interestingly, industry itself, and forced down the throats of the American public an unsustainable debt peonage, whether that’s through student loans, predatory credit card interest rates where it’s that bait and switch – where you get zero percent interest and next thing you know, you’re paying as high as 26 percent, 23 percent.

If you miss a payment. Mortgages, with many houses now underwater because of 2008. I want to look first at the self-identified liberal class within the Democratic Party, including Barack Obama. It often uses the language of economic justice, and will even chastise Wall Street rhetorically, but has been just as committed to this neoliberal project as the Republicans. More…

Land Worth = GDP and enough to replace all taxes with Land Rent

Land Worth = GDP and enough to replace all taxes with Land Rent
By Scott Baker
Posted March 31, 2016

time to tax landThe idea of using Land Value to pay for society’s needs goes back to biblical times in the old testament, what author John Kelly called “The Other Law of Moses” in his book by the same name. But a more formalized attempt at applying such a land value tax, or, more accurately, site value collection, only came in more modern times.

For reasons explained in detail in Progress and Poverty (1879) by Henry George, we would get far better use of the land if taxes were only collected on that (mostly location), and not on the buildings built on the land. We would get more buildings, with just a Land Value Tax, and more efficient use of the land too. And, as Henry George wrote, “There is enough, and to Spare.” More…

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