Economic Articles from 2018
42 People Own the Same Wealth as the Bottom 3.7 Billion, Says Report
by Amanda Froelich
Posted March 12, 2018
Repeat after me: “I am free.” Now, say it again with conviction. Can you? Probably not. This is because the world we collectively share is anything but fair, and this is largely due to an imbalanced distribution of wealth. If you are doubtful, perhaps a new report by Oxfam will convince you. In their recent report, entitled “Reward Work, Not Wealth“, the non-profit organization reveals that 82 percent of the wealth created in 2017 “went to the richest one percent.”
According to the report, 2017 “saw the biggest increase in the number of billionaires in history.” 42 people now “own the same wealth as the bottom 3.7 billion people,” says the report. The trend is nothing new, but is becoming more noticeable as “the richest one percent continue to own more wealth than the whole of the rest of humanity.” More…
By Joseph Williams
Posted March 6, 2018
My trip from the middle class into the ranks of the homeless began with a ticket of sorts. I came home one afternoon in 2013 from another fruitless job search to find a summons taped to the front door of my $2,000-a-month apartment in suburban Washington, D.C.
Show up in housing court on the assigned date with the back rent, it read. Or be prepared to find another place to live.
I didn’t think about it then—I was too busy trying not to freak out—but I was about to enter the world of eviction, a portal to poverty that is a largely unseen but growing part of the nation’s housing landscape. What used to be primarily a scourge among the working poor is becoming a fact of life for the shrinking middle class. More…
Why China Is Running Circles Around America
by Ellen Brown
Posted March 5, 2018
“One Belt, One Road,” China’s $1 trillion infrastructure initiative, is a massive undertaking involving highways, pipelines, transmission lines, ports, power stations, fiber optics and railroads connecting China to Central Asia, Europe and Africa. According to Dan Slane, a former adviser in President Trump’s transition team, “It is the largest infrastructure project initiated by one nation in the history of the world and is designed to enable China to become the dominant economic power in the world.” In a Jan. 29 article titled “Trump’s Plan a Recipe for Failure, Former Infrastructure Advisor Says,” he added, “If we don’t get our act together very soon, we should all be brushing up on our Mandarin.”
On Feb. 12, Trump’s own infrastructure initiative was finally unveiled. Perhaps intending to trump China’s $1 trillion megaproject, the administration has now upped the ante from $1 trillion to $1.5 trillion, or at least that’s how the initiative is billed. But as Donald Cohen observes in The American Prospect, it’s really only $200 billion, the sole sum that is to come from federal funding. More…
Money creation and inequality – an underexposed topic for monetary reformers
by Lino Zeddies
Posted March 4, 2018
It is beyond doubt that the current money system has a huge impact on the distribution of power and wealth and heavily contributing to systemically worsening inequality. Even though there is growing public awareness and debate about the problem of inequality, so far the focus has been on the distribution of existing money and wealth, while the distributive effect of how and for what purpose money is created in the first place, seems to be a complete blind spot.
To raise awareness for these neglected dynamics, this article provides in the following an overview of the several direct and indirect channels through which the current money system worsens inequality and how a sovereign money reform could improve matters. Some of the mechanisms might seem at first glance not to be connected with bank money creation but it can be argued that they are part of the current money systems logical unfolding and would probably not, or to a much lesser extent, exist in a sovereign money system. More…
Guess Who’s Making Sure Many Huge Corporations Stay Profitable?
By Jim Hightower
Posted February 25, 2018
The hustlers claim that job incentives are a sound investment of our tax dollars, because those new jobs create new taxpayers, meaning investments soon pay for themselves. Hmmm … not quite. In fact, not even close.
Last year, Good Jobs First tracked the 386 incentive deals since 1976 that gave at least $50 million to a corporation, and then it tallied the number of jobs created. The average cost per job was $658,427. Each! That’s likely far more than cities and states can recover through sales, property, income and all other taxes those jobholders would pay in their lifetimes. Worse, the rise of megadeals in the past 10 years has made the job-incentive argument mega-ridiculous: New York gave a $258-million subsidy to Yahoo and got 125 jobs — costing taxpayers $2 million per job. More…
Big banks rack up $6.4 billion in ATM and overdraft fees
by Heather Long
Posted February 22, 2018
If you’ve ever had to pay $3 (or more) to get your own money out of an ATM machine, you aren’t alone.
Nobody likes those fees. Except banks.
America’s three biggest banks — JPMorgan Chase (JPM), Bank of America (BAC) and Wells Fargo (WFC) — earned more than $6.4 billion last year from ATM and overdraft fees, according to an analysis by CNNMoney that was verified by S&P Global Market Intelligence.
That works out to over $25 in fees annually for every adult American.
Despite public outcry, banks show no sign of scaling back on fees. The big three banks collected nearly $300 million more in ATM and overdraft fees in 2016 than they did in 2015. More…
No justice for consumers in Equifax probe?
by Alexandra Jacobo
Posted February 16, 2018
The head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau , Mick Mulvaney, has decided to retreat from a full-scale probe of Equifax’s inability to protect the personal data of U.S. consumers.
According to Reuters, government and industry sources CFPB efforts to investigate Equifax have “stuttered” since Mulbaney took over from previous CFPB direction Richard Cordray, who resigned in November.
CFPB claims that they have “The desire, expertise, and know-how in-house to vigorously pursue hypothetical matters such as these.” Yet, sources for Reuters say Mulvaney has “not ordered subpoenas against Equifax or sought sworn testimony from executives,” normally these are routine steps when launching a full-scale probe. More…
California Is Pondering a New Kind of Bank
by Kevin Drum
Posted February 12, 2018
States can legalize marijuana all they want, but it’s still a federally prohibited Schedule I drug. This presents legal marijuana dealers with a problem: where do they keep their money? Banks are under federal supervision, and few of them want to take the chance of knowingly accepting drug money that might later get them in trouble with the feds. California, as always a bellwether for the nation, thinks it might have an answer:
California’s treasurer and attorney general will study whether the state should create its own publicly owned bank to serve the state’s now-legal cannabis industry….There are numerous obstacles to creating such an institution, especially if the plan is for the bank to openly work with cannabis companies.
John Chiang and other public officials have said the lack of banking access for cannabis companies, which has left the industry largely reliant on cash, poses public safety risks and makes it more difficult for the state and local agencies to monitor the industry and ensure businesses are paying their taxes. More…
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