Economic Articles from 2018
By Michael Brenner
Posted October 3, 2018
The United States today qualifies as a plutocracy – on a number of grounds, and it is having a profound impact on the media, education and think tanks–indeed on the whole of society.
Plutocracy literally means rule by the rich. “Rule” can have various shades of meaning: those who exercise the authority of public office are wealthy; their wealth explains why they hold that office; they exercise that authority in the interests of the rich; they have the primary influence over who holds those offices and the actions they take.
These aspects of “plutocracy” are not exclusive. Moreover, government of the rich and for the rich need not be run directly by the rich. Also, in some exceptional circumstances rich individuals who hold powerful positions may govern in the interests of the many, for example Franklin Roosevelt. More…
by Chris Hedges
Posted October 3, 2018
Instead of creating a middle class, it polarizes everything,it allows the top executives to go completely crazy with their pay packages. They are paid beyond what’s reasonable, beyond what their fellow capitalists receive in other parts of the world. There is a collapse of the ability to buy things. A company that saves all this money through a tax cut from Mr. Trump is not going to spend its money hiring people, buying machines, producing more.
They’re having trouble selling what they already produce. They’re impoverishing the very people they sell to. What do they do with the money? They take it and pay themselves. They give themselves higher pay packages. They buy back their own stock, which they’re legally allowed to do. It pushes the price of the stock up. Their [personal] compensation is connected to how well the price of the stock does. No jobs are created. No growth is created. The price of stock is going up even though the viability of the enterprise—because of the [company’s] collapsing market—is shrinking.
Capitalism is hollowing itself out. The capitalists refuse to face this because they are making money, for a while. That’s the same logic as the monarchs before the French Revolution building the fantastic Versailles without understanding they were digging their own graves in those lovely gardens. More…
Sanctions Backfire: US Is Being Left Behind
By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers
Posted October 2, 2018
The United States has a long history of dominating international economic institutions and has been able to use that power in the past to control other governments and enrich its industries. At present, the United States is waging an economic World War targeting much of the world economy, including allies who refuse to comply with US mandates.
Among the nations included in the US economic war are China, Russia, Iran, Turkey, Venezuela, Nicaragua and North Korea. The European Union is being threatened with economic sanctions if it does not obey US demands to blockade the Iranian economy. More…
How a Free Market Inevitably Produces Dictatorship
by Eric Zuesse
Posted September 30, 2018
Who rules the land? A deeper and truer version of this question is: What rules the land? Is it the money (the aristocracy), or is it the people (the public, the residents on that land)?
The propaganda for a free market is funded very heavily by billionaires such as the Koch brothers and George Soros, because control over countries naturally devolves into control by wealth, instead of into control by people (and certainly not by residents), if a free-market economy exists there. Billionaires do whatever increases their power; and, beyond around $100,000-per-year of income, any additional wealth buys no additional happiness or satisfaction, but only additional status, which, for individuals who are in such brackets, is derived from increases in their power, because, at that stage of wealth, money itself is no longer an object, only status is, and additional status can be derived only from additional power. More…
How Capitalist Utopia Became Everyone Else’s Dystopia
by Umair Haque
Posted September 27, 2018
I don’t usually write essays about charts— but this one’s different. It’s American collapse in four lines. It says that American elites mismanaged their economy so badly, so fatally, so totally, the rich world hasn’t seen the like since Weimar Germany. They created a capitalist utopia — but the problem is that that’s everyone else’s dystopia.
To understand the story of this gargantuan, historic failure — not managing a society in any way resembling “well”, or even “sanely” — it’s probably best to understand what Europe did right — and then come back to what America did wrong. Which, in short, is that it embarked on one of history’s greatest fools’ quests since alchemy, a utopian mission to turn the lead of capitalism into the gold of prosperity for everyone. But lead doesn’t turn into gold. More…
Ten Years After the Crash, We’ve Learned Nothing
by Matt Taibbi
Posted September 20, 2018
Ten years ago, on Saturday, September 13th, 2008, the world was about to end.
The New York Federal Reserve was a zoo. Imagine NASA headquarters on the day a giant asteroid careens into the atmosphere. That was the New York Fed: all hands on deck, peak human panic.
The crowd included future Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, then-Treasury Secretary (and former Goldman Sachs CEO) Hank Paulson, the representatives of multiple regulatory offices, and the CEOs of virtually every major bank in New York, each toting armies of bean counters and bankers.
The asteroid metaphor fit. In the twin collapses of top-five investment bank Lehman Brothers and insurance giant AIG, Wall Street saw a civilization-imperiling ball of debt hurtling its way. More…
Central Banks Have Gone Rogue, Putting Us All at Risk
by Ellen Brown
Posted September 17, 2018
Excluding institutions such as Blackrock and Vanguard, which are composed of multiple investors, the largest single players in global equity markets are now thought to be central banks themselves. An estimated 30 to 40 central banks are invested in the stock market, either directly or through their investment vehicles (sovereign wealth funds).
The result, as noted in a January 2017 article at Zero Hedge, is that central bankers, “who create fiat money out of thin air and for whom ‘acquisition cost’ is a meaningless term, are increasingly nationalizing the equity capital markets.” Or at least they would be nationalizing equities, if they were actually “national” central banks. But the Swiss National Bank, the biggest single player in this game, is 48 percent privately owned, and most central banks have declared their independence from their governments. They march to the drums not of government but of private industry. More…
Two Knockout Blows to US Imperialism: De-Dollarization and Hypersonic Weapons
by Federico Pieraccini
Posted September 17, 2018
In the current multipolar world in which we live, economic and military factors are decisive in guaranteeing countries their sovereignty. Russia and China seem to be taking this very seriously, committed to the de-dollarization of their economies and the accelerated development of hypersonic weapons.
The transition phase we are going through, passing from a unipolar global order to a multipolar one, calls for careful observation. It is important to analyze the actions taken by two world powers, China and Russia, in defending and consolidating their sovereignty over the long term. Observing decisions taken by these two countries in recent years, we can discern a twofold strategy. One is economic, the other purely military. In both cases we observe strong cooperation between Moscow and Beijing. The merit of this alliance is paradoxically attributed to the attitude of various US administrations, from George Bush Senior through to Obama. The special relationship between Moscow and Beijing has been forged by a shared experience of Washington’s pressure over the last 25 years. More…
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