Economic Articles from 2018

The 4 Biggest Banks Have Already Made $2.3 Billion Off Trump’s Tax Law

[Economic]
The 4 Biggest Banks Have Already Made $2.3 Billion Off Trump’s Tax Law
by Eric Levitz
Posted April 25, 2018

Trump tax bill is a windfall for big banksIn Donald Trump’s final campaign ad, the GOP nominee informed America that “those who control the levers of power in Washington” do not “have your good in mind,” as a sign reading Wall St. flickered across the screen. Moments later, the chief executive of Goldman Sachs appeared, cast as an embodiment of the global elite that has “robbed our working class.”

In the first quarter of 2018, President Trump’s signature legislative achievement made America’s four biggest banks $2.3 billion richer, according to a new analysis from The Wall Street Journal.

Last fall, Trump made an “explicit commitment that tax reform will protect low-income and middle-income households, not the wealthy and well-connected. They can call me all they want; I’m doing the right thing.” In February, House Speaker Paul Ryan boasted that his party’s tax law had given a “secretary at a public high school in Lancaster, PA” an extra “$1.50 a week” — a windfall that would “more than cover her Costco membership for the year.” More…

From North Dakota to Puerto Rico, Controversial Security Firm Profits From Oil Protests and Climate Disasters

[Economic]
From North Dakota to Puerto Rico, Controversial Security Firm Profits From Oil Protests and Climate Disasters
by Alleen Brown
Posted April 22, 2018

Tiger Swan profits from climate changeTigerSwan, the mercenary security company best known for its efforts to suppress indigenous-led resistance to the Dakota Access oil pipeline, is stepping up its pursuit of profits in areas hit by climate change-driven natural disaster.

At Standing Rock, TigerSwan operatives hired by the pipeline company Energy Transfer Partners used militaristic tactics to disrupt the massive opposition to the project, sending infiltrators into resistance camps, conducting aerial surveillance, and engaging in propaganda efforts. The private security firm routinely coordinated with law enforcement, sharing equipment and intelligence and assisting with arrests. Although preventing water pollution was the Standing Rock movement’s rallying call, many of its organizers were also climate activists; the earliest DAPL opponents were veterans of the anti-Keystone XL pipeline movement, which centered on the harmful climate effects of carbon-intensive tar sands oil.

In essence, TigerSwan has gone from suppressing a movement seeking to slow climate change to marketing itself as a company that can help clients survive climate change’s most severe consequences. More…

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…

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