Economic Articles from 2016

What Does It Take to Survive Where You Live?

What Does It Take to Survive Where You Live?
By Richard Eskow
Posted November 23, 2016

living wageHow much does it take to get by where you live? A new report concludes that current federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour doesn’t come close, anywhere in the United States. It takes more than $15 per hour to earn a living wage in most states. When you throw in the rising cost of student debt, low-income Americans are even further underwater.

The report, “Waiting for the Payoff: How Low Wages and Student Debt Keep Prosperity Out of Reach (pdf),” was issued this week by the People’s Action Institute. What does it take to get by where you live? A dollars-and-cents answer can be found in this chart, which lays out the living wage in every state. More…

From Higher Education to Water Treatment, Financialization Is Harming Our Economy

From Higher Education to Water Treatment, Financialization Is Harming Our Economy
By Carrie Sloan
Posted November 22, 2016

cheering for your teamOne of the standout features of our increasingly financialized economy is a systemic disinvestment in public goods such as infrastructure and education. As the finance sector hoards the wealth our economy produces, wages stagnate, corporations and the wealthy avoid contributing their rightful share in taxes, and money and power coalesces at the top, revenues at all levels of government have declined.

Correspondingly, we have witnessed a turn to austerity measures including big cuts to the budgets of the entities that provide vital public goods, from water to public education. This is no accident — it’s a feature of a rigged economic system in which austerity is the price most of us pay for the wealthiest to get even wealthier. More…

Trump’s $1 Trillion Infrastructure Plan: Lincoln Had a Bolder Solution

Trump’s $1 Trillion Infrastructure Plan: Lincoln Had a Bolder Solution
By Ellen Brown
Posted November 19, 2016

Lincoln created greenbacksDonald Trump was an outsider who boldly stormed the citadel of Washington DC and won. He has promised real change, but his infrastructure plan appears to be just more of the same — privatizing public assets and delivering unearned profits to investors at the expense of the people. He needs to try something new; and for this he could look to Abraham Lincoln, whose bold solution was very similar to one now being considered in Europe: just print the money.

Raise taxes, add to the federal debt, privatize — there is nothing new here. The president-elect needs another alternative; and there is one, something he is evidently open to. In May 2016, when challenged over the risk of default from the mounting federal debt, he said, “You never have to default, because you print the money.” The Federal Reserve has already created trillions of dollars for the 1% by just printing the money. The new president could create another trillion for the majority of the 99% who elected him. More…

Modi Heats Up Indian War Against Cash

Modi Heats Up Indian War Against Cash
By Jeff Berwick
Posted November 13, 2016

war on cashThe battle for a cash-only world is getting hotter. The latest battlefront? India.

Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi – beloved of Western elites for a variety of reasons – has just announced that all 500 Indian rupee Notes ($7.50) and 1,000 Indian rupee ($15) notes will no longer be considered legal tender. The 500 and 1,000 rupee, by the way, are the two largest denominations in India. Equivalent to the US banning the $100 and $50. More…

Here’s How Wall Street Is Ripping You Off, and What You Can Do About It

Here’s How Wall Street Is Ripping You Off, and What You Can Do About It
By Pam Martens and Russ Martens
Posted November 9, 2016

see no evil, speak no evil, hear no evilMembers of Congress were absolutely shocked – shocked! – that the employees of the commercial bank of Wells Fargo had created several million accounts and credit cards that their customers had never asked for simply to meet sales quotas set by the bank and/or to obtain bonuses.

But what is going on every single day at the brokerage firms owned by all of these banking giants is that the stock broker (variously called a financial consultant, financial adviser or Vice President of Investments) is able to triple the commission he collects on the bonds he sells you at his discretion. It’s been that way for 30 years, if not longer. More…

Anyone who thinks thinks that either Trump or Clinton will do anything about this, is living an illusion.

Wall Street Today: Fake Accounts, Fake Money, Fake Courts, Fake Regulators

Wall Street Today: Fake Accounts, Fake Money, Fake Courts, Fake Regulators
By Pam Martens and Russ Martens
Posted November 4, 2016

Wall Street fraudThe Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announced that Wells Fargo was paying $185 million in fines and penalties for allowing its employees to open “more than two million deposit and credit card accounts” that were not authorized by its customers. The employees were attempting to “hit sales targets and receive bonuses.” In one of the most audacious forms of bank fraud, according to the CFPB, employees actually “transferred funds from consumers’ authorized accounts to temporarily fund the new, unauthorized accounts.” This resulted in untold numbers of customers being charged for insufficient funds in their legitimate accounts or paying overdraft fees.

If anyone ever doubted Senator Bernie Sanders when he repeatedly said during campaign stops that fraud has become a business model on Wall Street, that debate is over. According to the CFPB, this conduct at Wells Fargo went on for five years. Yesterday, Fortune’s Stephen Gandel reported that the woman who headed up this division at Wells Fargo, Carrie Tolstedt, will be “walking away with $124.6 million in stock, options, and restricted Wells Fargo shares.” Fraud is not only a business model but a road to riches for the overlords on Wall Street. Just ask John Paulson, Sandy Weill, Robert Rubin, John Reed, and Jamie Dimon. More…

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