Economic Articles from 2019
Central Bankers’ Desperate Grab for Power
by Ellen Brown
Posted September 18, 2019
Central bankers are out of ammunition. Mark Carney, the soon-to-be-retiring head of the Bank of England, admitted as much in a speech at the annual meeting of central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyo., in August. “In the longer-term,” he said, “we need to change the game.” The same point was made by Philipp Hildebrand, former head of the Swiss National Bank, in a recent interview with Bloomberg. “Really, there is little if any ammunition left,” he said. “More of the same in terms of monetary policy is unlikely to be an appropriate response if we get into a recession or sharp downturn.”
“More of the same” means further lowering interest rates, the central bankers’ stock tool for maintaining their targeted inflation rate in a downturn. Bargain-basement interest rates are supposed to stimulate the economy by encouraging borrowers to borrow (since rates are so low) and savers to spend (since they aren’t making any interest on their deposits and may have to pay to store them). At the moment, over $15 trillion in bonds are trading globally at negative interest rates, yet this radical maneuver has not been shown to measurably improve economic performance. More…
Are You Ready To Consider That Capitalism Is The Real Problem?
By Jason Hickel and Martin Kirk
Posted September 5, 2019.
Before you say no, take a moment to really ask yourself whether it’s the system that’s best suited to build our future society.
In February, college sophomore Trevor Hill stood up during a televised town hall meeting in New York and posed a simple question to Nancy Pelosi, the leader of the Democrats in the House of Representatives. He cited a study by Harvard University showing that 51% of Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 no longer support the system of capitalism, and asked whether the Democrats could embrace this fast-changing reality and stake out a clearer contrast to right-wing economics.
Pelosi was visibly taken aback. “I thank you for your question,” she said, “but I’m sorry to say we’re capitalists, and that’s just the way it is.”
The footage went viral. It was powerful because of the clear contrast it set up. Trevor Hill is no hardened left-winger. He’s just your average millennial—bright, informed, curious about the world, and eager to imagine a better one. But Pelosi, a figurehead of establishment politics, refused to–or was just unable to–entertain his challenge to the status quo. More…
U.S. Economic Warfare and Likely Foreign Defenses
by Michael Hudson
Posted September 4, 2019
Today’s world is at war on many fronts. The rules of international law and order put in place toward the end of World War II are being broken by U.S. foreign policy escalating its confrontation with countries that refrain from giving its companies control of their economic surpluses.
Countries that do not give the United States control of their oil and financial sectors or privatize their key sectors are being isolated by the United States imposing trade sanctions and unilateral tariffs giving special advantages to U.S. producers in violation of free trade agreements with European, Asian and other countries.
This global fracture has an increasingly military cast. U.S. officials justify tariffs and import quotas illegal under WTO rules on “national security” grounds, claiming that the United States can do whatever it wants as the world’s “exceptional” nation. U.S. officials explain that this means that their nation is not obliged to adhere to international agreements or even to its own treaties and promises. More…
The Key to a Sustainable Economy Is 5,000 Years Old
by Ellen Brown
Posted August 30, 2019
We are again reaching the point in the business cycle known as “peak debt,” when debts have compounded to the point that their cumulative total cannot be paid. Student debt, credit card debt, auto loans, business debt and sovereign debt are all higher than they have ever been. As economist Michael Hudson writes in his provocative 2018 book, “…and forgive them their debts,” debts that can’t be paid won’t be paid. The question, he says, is how they won’t be paid.
Mainstream economic models leave this problem to “the invisible hand of the market,” assuming trends will self-correct over time. But while the market may indeed correct, it does so at the expense of the debtors, who become progressively poorer as the rich become richer. Borrowers go bankrupt and banks foreclose on the collateral, dispossessing the debtors of their homes and their livelihoods. The houses are bought by the rich at distress prices and are rented back at inflated prices to the debtors, who are then forced into wage peonage to survive. More…
Most people are aware that our societies have reached a level of debt that cannot be repaid.
The system is failing and perhaps it is time to consider following the wisdom of the ancients since what we are doing now is not working. Who would be the people pushing back against using this wisdom and do they have their own agendas?
An Economy Based on Plunder
by Paul Craig Roberts
Posted August 29, 2019
Capitalists have claimed responsibility for America’s past economic success. Let’s begin by setting the record straight. American success had little to do with capitalism. This is not to say that the US would have had more success with something like Soviet central planning.
Prior to 1900 when the frontier was closed, America’s success was a multi-century long success based on the plunder of a pristine environment and abundant natural resources. Individuals and companies were capitalized simply by occupying the land and using the resources present.
As the population grew and resources were depleted, the per capita resource endowment declined. More…
Equifax Might Owe You $125. Here’s How to Get It
by Lily Hay Newman
Posted August 26, 2019
If you’re one of the 147 million people in the United States affected by the egregious Equifax credit bureau hack in 2017, you were probably resigned to getting some free credit monitoring out of it and moving on. But nearly two years later, attorneys general from 50 US states and territories, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau finally have your back. Sort of. They’ve negotiated a settlement with Equifax that entitles all victims to 10 years of free credit monitoring or $125. Here’s how to make sure you get yours.
Of course, it’s tough to see how a payout that can maybe cover an IKEA dresser or a month of your wireless bill is adequate compensation for the loss of vital personal data, including Social Security numbers. But it’s all that most victims can collect. (Read on for more about possible additional payouts if you’ve suffered proximal damages as a result of the breach.) More…
The Cheapest Way to Save the Planet Grows Like a Weed
By Ellen Brown
Posted August 22, 2019
William Randolf Hearst, the newspaper mogul, owned vast tracts of forest land, which he intended to use for making wood-pulp paper. Cheap hemp-based paper would make his forest investments a major money loser. Hearst was a master of “yellow journalism,” and a favorite target of his editorials was “reefer madness.” He was allied with the DuPont Corporation, which provided the chemicals to bleach and process the wood pulp used in the paper-making process. DuPont was also ready to introduce petroleum-based fibers such as nylon, and hemp fabrics competed with that new market.
In fact, hemp products threatened the entire petroleum industry. Henry Ford first designed his cars to run on alcohol from biofuels, but the criminalization of both alcohol and hemp forced him to switch to the dirtier, less efficient fossil fuels that dominate the industry today. A biofuel-based infrastructure would create a completely decentralized power grid, eliminating the giant monopolistic power companies. Communities could provide their own energy using easily renewable plants. More…
U.S. Economic Warfare and Likely Foreign Defenses
by Michael Hudson
Posted August 21, 2019
Today’s world is at war on many fronts. The rules of international law and order put in place toward the end of World War II are being broken by U.S. foreign policy escalating its confrontation with countries that refrain from giving its companies control of their economic surpluses. Countries that do not give the United States control of their oil and financial sectors or privatize their key sectors are being isolated by the United States imposing trade sanctions and unilateral tariffs giving special advantages to U.S. producers in violation of free trade agreements with European, Asian and other countries.
This global fracture has an increasingly military cast. U.S. officials justify tariffs and import quotas illegal under WTO rules on “national security” grounds, claiming that the United States can do whatever it wants as the world’s “exceptional” nation. More…
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