Bank of North Dakota Soars Despite Oil Bust: A Public Banking Blueprint for California?
By Ellen Brown
Posted May 6, 2016
In November 2014, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Bank of North Dakota (BND), the nation’s only state-owned depository bank, was more profitable even than J.P. Morgan Chase and Goldman Sachs. The author attributed this remarkable performance to the state’s oil boom; but the boom has now become an oil bust, yet the BND’s profits continue to climb. Its 2015 Annual Report, published on April 20th, boasted its most profitable year ever.
The BND has had record profits for the last 12 years, each year outperforming the last. In 2015 it reported $130.7 million in earnings, total assets of $7.4 billion, capital of $749 million, and a return on investment of a whopping 18.1 percent. Its lending portfolio grew by $486 million, a 12.7 percent increase, with growth in all four of its areas of concentration: agriculture, business, residential, and student loans. More…
How Capitalism and Racism Support Each Other
By Richard D. Wolff
Posted April 29, 2016
The burdens of capitalism’s instability falls much harder on employees than employers, and much harder upon some employees than others. Capitalism thus always faced a basic legitimation problem. How could it justify its unequal distributions of income, wealth and the burdens of its systemic instability among the people whose condition of being “free and equal” capitalism was supposed to guarantee?
One of the major means of managing this legitimation problem has been an ideology of race (alongside other ideologies centered around concepts such as “productivity” and “meritocracy”). Capitalism repurposed race and racism. By dividing human beings, conceptually and practically, into intrinsically different subgroups, capitalism’s defenders could explain and justify why its economic benefits (e.g. the status of employer rather than employee) and burdens (unemployment, poverty etc.) were so unequally distributed (both within countries and globally). More…
How Systems Break: First They Slow Down
by Charles Hugh Smith
Posted April 22, 2016
Complex systems like ecological food webs, the brain, and the climate all give off a characteristic signal when disaster is around the corner. The key insight here is that financial systems and indeed economies function as natural systems. The dominant systems do not operate in a vacuum; beneath the surface dominance of one system are many other systems that are suppressed by the dominant system.
The signal, a phenomenon called ‘critical slowing down,’ is a lengthening of the time that a system takes to recover from small disturbances, such as a disease that reduces the minnow population, in the vicinity of a critical transition. It occurs because a system’s internal stabilizing forces—whatever they might be—become weaker near the point at which they suddenly propel the system toward a different state. More…
New Report Finds Many Large, Profitable U.S. Corporations Pay No Federal Income Taxes
By Andrew Emett
Posted April 19, 2016
Between 2008 and 2013, General Electric, Boeing, and Verizon paid no federal income taxes. During that period, these three companies amassed more than $102 billion in combined profits, yet they ended up receiving over $4.1 billion in income tax rebates from the IRS.
According to a report last year from U.S. PIRG (Public Interest Research Group) Education Fund and Citizens for Tax Justice, nearly 75% of Fortune 500 companies tucked away $2.1 trillion in accumulated profits offshore to avoid paying U.S. income taxes. In 2014, at least 358 of these massive corporations maintained 7,622 tax haven subsidiaries throughout Panama, Bermuda, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and other havens. More…
Wall Street Should Pay a Sales Tax, Too
By Sarah Anderson
Posted April 18, 2016
In case there was any doubt, the presidential election fight has confirmed that blasting Wall Street, even eight years after the financial crisis, is still a vote-getter. Hillary Clinton has said she’d like to jail more bankers. Donald Trump has skewered the hedge fund managers who are “getting away with murder.” And Bernie Sanders has made Wall Street accountability a centerpiece of his campaign.
Of course, financial industry lobbyists aren’t about to take this lying down. In recent weeks, they’ve turned up the heat on lawmakers to block one particular measure that Sanders has mentioned in nearly every stump speech: taxing Wall Street speculation. More…
Regulators Reject ‘Living Wills’ of Five Financial Giants
by Lisa Lambert
Posted April 17, 2016
U.S. regulators gave a failing grade to five big banks on Wednesday, including JP Morgan and Wells Fargo, on their plans for a bankruptcy that would not rely on taxpayer money, giving them until Oct. 1 to make amends or risk sanctions.
The move officially starts a long regulatory chain that could end with breaking up the banks. Nearly a decade after the financial crisis, it underscored how the debate about banks being “too big to fail” continues to rage in Washington and exasperate on Wall Street. Wednesday’s announcement was the first time the two major banking regulators, the Federal Reserve and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, issued joint determinations flunking banks’ plans, commonly called “living wills. More…
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