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Economic Articles from 2018

Central Vermont: “YES!” On Communications Union District

[Community]
Central Vermont: “YES!” On Communications Union District
by Lisa Gonzalez
Posted April 20, 2018

forming alternatives to the big telecomm corporationsWe recently learned that a group of communities in central Vermont had decided to ask voters if they should form a communications union district to develop a regional fiber optic network. On March 6th, twelve of thirteen communities who took up the proposal at Town Meeting passed it, and the thirteenth will address the subject in May.

Communities that passed the measure are Barre City, Berlin, Calais, East Montpelier, Marshfield, Middlesex, Montpelier, Northfield, Plainfield, Roxbury, Williamstown, and Worcester. In Berlin, East Montpelier, Middlesex, and Worcester the community took up the question with a floor vote and it passed unanimously. The town of Barre will bring up the question at its Town Meeting in May.

As an elected official, Hansen has heard many complaints from constituents about poor Internet access and inadequate customer service from ISPs in his town of Berlin. As he’s researched the problem, he’s found that other communities in the region have faced the same problems. More…

As Cable News Obsesses Over a Porn Star, Senate Prepares to Put the Next Wall Street Crash in Motion

[Economic]
As Cable News Obsesses Over a Porn Star, Senate Prepares to Put the Next Wall Street Crash in Motion
By Pam Martens and Russ Martens
Posted April 18, 2018

Senator Sherrod Brown, Democrat from OhioThe U.S. Senate is about to set in motion the next financial crash on Wall Street but you would never know it from watching cable news channels CNN or MSNBC last evening. Both news channels obsessed for endless hours over the Trump-Russia scandal and a hush money payoff to porn star Stormy Daniels, neglecting one of the most critical topics of the day: what was happening on the Senate floor this week.

Some of the most informed Democratic voices in the U.S. Senate are making impassioned and heartbreaking appeals to their colleagues this week on the floor of the U.S. Senate to vote down Senate bill S.2155, which carries the Orwellian title: “The Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act.” The bill is a Republican/Wall Street lobbyist masquerade to ostensibly help small community banks but will effectively gut enhanced oversight of banks with up to $250 billion in assets – mega banks by any measure – that want to dodge oversight of their derivative counterparty exposure to the largest Wall Street banks like JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup. More…

How a small town reclaimed its grid and sparked a community revolution

[Community]
How a small town reclaimed its grid and sparked a community revolution
by Aditya Chakrabortty
Posted April 14, 2018

time to take back public utilitiesIn the east German city of Potsdam, the privatisation of water pushed charges up by a third within two years – so it was cancelled. City after city has taken back bin collection in-house. And then there’s energy. In 2005, Wolfhagen was into the final straight of taking its grid into public hands. Since then 284 municipalities, including the second-biggest city of Hamburg, have followed suit.

Such cases don’t get much of a showing in the British press. The pundits and policy wonks who equate public ownership with Red Robbo, Bakelite phones and stale British Rail sandwiches never mention that across Europe there have been 567 instances of public services being taken into public ownership since the year 2000. Everything from care homes for the elderly to bus companies is now run by continental towns and cities. More…

What if People Owned the Banks, Instead of Wall Street?

[Community]
What if People Owned the Banks, Instead of Wall Street?
by Jimmy Tobias
Posted April 11, 2018

Main Street, not Wall StreetWhen Craig Brandt marched into the City Council chambers in Oakland, California, in the summer of 2015, he was furious about fraud.

The long-time local attorney and father of two had been following the fallout from the Libor scandal, a brazen financial scam that saw some of the biggest banks on Wall Street illegally manipulate international interest rates in order to boost their profits. By some estimates, the scheme cost cities and states around the country well over $6 billion. In June of 2015, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, and Barclays, among other Libor-rigging giants, pleaded guilty to felony charges related to the conspiracy and agreed to pay more than $2.5 billion in criminal fines to US regulators. But, for Brandt, that wasn’t enough. He wanted the banks banished, blocked from doing business in his city. More…

The Bayer-Monsanto Merger Is Bad News for the Planet

[Community]
The Bayer-Monsanto Merger Is Bad News for the Planet
by Ellen Brown
Posted April 9, 2018

Monsanto - Bayer merger is bad for the planetGlobal food control has nearly been achieved, by reducing seed diversity and establishing proprietary control with GMO seeds distributed by only a few transnational corporations, led by Monsanto; and by a massive, taxpayer-subsidized propaganda campaign in support of GMO seeds and neurotoxic pesticides. A de facto cartel of giant chemical, drug, oil, banking and insurance companies connected by interlocking directorates reaps the profits at both ends, by waging a very lucrative pharmaceutical assault on the diseases created by their toxic agricultural chemicals.

In the U.S., only about 0.6 percent of the total agricultural area is devoted to organic farming. Most farmland is soaked in pesticides and herbicides. But the need for these toxic chemicals is a myth. In an October 2017 article in The Guardian, columnist George Monbiot cited studies showing that reducing the use of neonicotinoid pesticides actually increases production, because the pesticides harm or kill the pollinators on which crops depend. Rather than an international trade agreement that would enable giant transnational corporations to dictate to governments, he argues that we need a global treaty to regulate pesticides and require environmental impact assessments for farming. More…

Transforming the way municipalities collect and spend their money

[Community]
Transforming the way municipalities collect and spend their money
by Oscar Perry Abello
Posted April 5, 2018

bypassing Wall Street It’s no surprise that Malia Cohen worries about what local public dollars are doing. As a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, the municipal legislative body, it’s her job to know how, where and why the city’s money is coming in and going out. But recently, Cohen has joined a growing number of public officials around the country who are wondering what happens in between — what happens when the money in the city coffers goes to sleep at night.

In fiscal year 2017, the city of San Francisco took in an average of $508 million a month in revenues and put out $467 million a month in expenses. But in between, the banks that handle all that cash sometimes used public dollars in ways that, in the opinions of Cohen and others, contradict the reasons why that money is coming and going in the first place. More…

Money Creation — What The World Thinks

[Community]
Money Creation — What The World Thinks
by Stan Jourdan
Posted April 4, 2018

should money be created privatelyA recent survey covering 20 countries concludes that only 20% of the population is aware that money creation is being largely managed by the private banking sector and 13% agrees this should be so. In contrast, nearly 59% would prefer that such a privilege be granted to public institution.

How many people are aware that private banks create money ; and is this system the favorite option of citizens? These questions were part of the Glocalities survey carried out by Motivaction International and the Sustainable Finance Lab that was held in December 2013 and January 2014. More than 23,000 people in 20 countries participated to the poll. The results (pdf) from this unique survey provide greater legitimacy to our money reform proposal which aims at making money creation managed by and for the public. More…

Alarm Bells Sounded on Wall Street’s Derivatives

[Economic]
Alarm Bells Sounded on Wall Street’s Derivatives
By Pam Martens and Russ Martens
Posted April 4, 2018

Andy Green, Managing Director,  Economic Policy Center for  American ProgressOn February 14, the week after the Dow Jones Industrial Average experienced two separate days of more than 1,000-point losses, the House Financial Services’ Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Securities and Investment convened a hearing to discuss various legislative proposals to return to the wild west era of derivatives trading on Wall Street. (Many, including Wall Street On Parade, believe that we’ve never left that era – the risks have simply been hidden behind a dark curtain.

One lonely voice for sanity on the witness panel, which was stacked with industry trade groups, was Andy Green, Managing Director at the Economic Policy Center for American Progress. Green’s written testimony stated that the legislative proposals “slice, dice, or otherwise poke holes – sometimes large holes – in the firewalls placed in the derivatives markets by post 2008 reforms….” More…

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