Global Capitalist Crisis and the North American Free Trade Agreement: Reflections 21 Years On
By William I. Robinson
Posted June 6, 2015
Recent US Senate approval won by President Obama for “fast-track” negotiation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal has thrust “free trade” and capitalist globalization again into the headlines. Often referred to as “NAFTA on steroids,” the TPP is but the latest in more than two decades of “free trade” agreements that have helped open up the world to transnational corporate plunder.
If we want to understand such deals we would do well to reflect on the first of these, the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, which went into effect in January 1994. We cannot understand NAFTA without understanding the larger picture of which NAFTA and the TPP form part: the new system of global capitalism and the crisis of that system. More…
Bernanke & Greenspan Have Destroyed America, People Don’t Realize What Is Coming
By Peter Schiff and Mike Maloney
Posted June 5, 2015
Bernacke and Greenspan have absolutely destroyed America. People don’t realize what is coming from the stored up energy from the manipulations that they did.
When you’ve been on 0% for 6 years you develop an addiction to that. We have built an entire economy around free money. You can’t take that away even if the interest rates are still low, even if they went to just 2% to 3%. Yes that’s still low. But not low enough for an economy addicted to 0%. If you’re a heroin addict and your body is used to a certain amount of heroin then your pusher says “I can only give you half of what I normally give you, but you still have some heroin.” That’s not gonna cut it. You’re already gonna start going through withdrawal. More…
JPMorgan Tech Workers Have New Conspiracy Theories
By Pam Martens and Russ Martens
Posted June 2, 2015
Since December 2013 there have been a rash of unusual deaths among workers at JPMorgan Chase, including alleged leaps from buildings and two separate alleged murder-suicides in New Jersey. A noteworthy number of the deaths have been among technology workers. With the exception of Julian Knott, who was a high level technology expert for JPMorgan in both London and later at the firm’s high tech Global Network Operations Center in Whippany, New Jersey, all of the individuals were under 40.
The fact that JPMorgan Chase holds an estimated $179 billion in life insurance on its workers, and in some cases, prior workers, whose death benefit pays to the bank not the family of the employee, has raised concerns of more than just trading conspiracies at JPMorgan Chase. More…
The New “Water Barons”: Wall Street Mega-Banks are Buying up the World’s Water
By Jo-Shing Yang
Posted May 26, 2015
A disturbing trend in the water sector is accelerating worldwide. The new “water barons” — the Wall Street banks and elitist multibillionaires — are buying up water all over the world at unprecedented pace.
Familiar mega-banks and investing powerhouses such as Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, UBS, Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse, Macquarie Bank, Barclays Bank, the Blackstone Group, Allianz, and HSBC Bank, among others, are consolidating their control over water. Wealthy tycoons such as T. Boone Pickens, former President George H.W. Bush and his family, Hong Kong’s Li Ka-shing, Philippines’ Manuel V. Pangilinan and other Filipino billionaires, and others are also buying thousands of acres of land with aquifers, lakes, water rights, water utilities, and shares in water engineering and technology companies all over the world.
The second disturbing trend is that while the new water barons are buying up water all over the world, governments are moving fast to limit citizens’ ability to become water self-sufficient (as evidenced by the well-publicized Gary Harrington’s case in Oregon, in which the state criminalized the collection of rainwater in three ponds located on his private land, by convicting him on nine counts and sentencing him for 30 days in jail). More…
War Threat Rises As Economy Declines
by Paul Craig Roberts
(Assistant Secretary of the Treasury under Ronald Reagan)
Posted May 18, 2015
Just as the Soviet collapse unleashed US hegemony, it gave rise to jobs offshoring. The Soviet collapse convinced China and India to open their massive underutilized labor markets to US capital. US corporations, with any reluctant ones pushed by large retailers and Wall Street’s threat of financing takeovers, moved manufacturing, industrial, and tradable professional service jobs, such as software engineering, abroad.
This decimated the American middle class and removed ladders of upward mobility. US GDP and tax base moved with the jobs to China and India. US real median family incomes ceased to grow and declined. Without income growth to drive the economy, Alan Greenspan resorted to an expansion of consumer debt, which has run its course. Currently there is nothing to drive the economy. More…
Don’t Be Afraid of a Municipal Bank
By Otis Bullock
Posted May 14, 2015
A municipal bank can work and can grow Philadelphia’s economy. A prime example of a successful public bank is the public Bank of North Dakota (BND). BND earned $94 million last year in profits for North Dakota’s 740,000 residents. BND deposits roughly half its profits into the State’s general budget and uses the other half to increase its capitalization in order to make more loans. In the past decade, BND has returned over $300 million to the general fund. In addition to lending based on a formula that includes both its public deposits and its capitalization, BND also has access to low-cost Federal Home Loan Bank capital.
BND is not required to contribute to FDIC insurance because it is not a retail bank and it is backed instead by the full faith and credit of the State of North Dakota. This and its partnership arrangements with local banks lower its operating costs considerably. The BND has averaged more than 25 percent return on equity over the past 16 years. Since 2008, BND’s annual return on investment has been between 17 percent and 26 percent. More…
Free Trade is Plutocratic Propaganda
by Daniel Drew
Posted May 12, 2015
Like The Ministry of Truth in George Orwell’s 1984, sometimes, the most effective way to lie is to use the most innocent words. No word is more susceptible to propaganda-leveraging than “freedom.” Attach that word to any concept, and all of a sudden, it’s unassailable. That’s exactly what happened with “free trade.”
Proponents of free trade will often use the simplest analogies to convey their point, as if you were retarded. The reason they have to resort to such caveman illustrations is because free trade does not exist in the real world. There is no such thing as equality of bargaining power. If someone has ten million dollars and you have zero dollars, anything above zero is an “improvement” in your situation. The free trade economists will say this person with zero dollars is “free” to work for $1 per hour, and they will do so because it improves their situation. This is what “freedom” means to free trade economists.
If you doubt the free trade economists, they will call you a “protectionist,” as if protecting your country’s economy were some kind of grievous transgression. In fact, nothing is more American than shunning free trade nonsense. More…
Celebrating the Flash Crash With a Wall Street Sales Tax
By Dean Baker
Posted May 7, 2015
If a trader has designed a mathematical algorithm that allows them to jump in and buy large blocks of Apple stock just as a pension fund is looking to make a major purchase of shares, then the trader will get a portion of the gains that otherwise would have gone to the pension fund. This story applies to all areas of the market. Farmers that sell futures on their crops, airlines that buy futures on jet fuel, mutual funds buying government bonds, all can expect to see a part of their gains siphoned off by short-term traders that manage to beat them on market timing.
The traders now siphon off more than $200 billion (1.3 percent of GDP) a year from the productive economy. Much of this money is the income of super-rich bankers and hedge fund partners.
There is a simple and easy way to reduce the amount of money being drained away by short-term traders. A financial transactions tax, effectively a modest sales tax applied to trades, would drastically reduce the amount of short-term trading while raising a huge amount of revenue. More…
The Political Roots of Widening Inequality
By Robert Reich
Posted May 6, 2015
The standard explanation has allowed some to argue, for example, that the median wage of the bottom 90 percent — which for the first 30 years after World War II rose in tandem with productivity — has stagnated for the last 30 years, even as productivity has continued to rise, because middle-income workers are worth less than they were before new software technologies and globalization made many of their old jobs redundant. They therefore have to settle for lower wages and less security. If they want better jobs, they need more education and better skills. So hath the market decreed.
Yet this market view cannot be the whole story because it fails to account for much of what we have experienced. For one thing, it doesn’t clarify why the transformation occurred so suddenly. The divergence between productivity gains and the median wage began in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and then took off. Yet globalization and technological change did not suddenly arrive at America’s doorstep in those years. What else began happening then? More…
Iceland’s Economic Revolution
by F. William Engdahl
Posted May 4, 2015
When the dust settled, relative to the size of its economy, Iceland’s systemic banking collapse ranked as the largest experienced by any country in economic history. By the October 2008 the country’s three major banks–Glitnir bank, Landsbanki and Iceland’s largest bank, Kaupþing were placed into state receivership, nationalized. That was the same time US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, bailed out AIG, Goldman Sachs and his old buddies on Wall Street with “socialized” losses dumped on American taxpayers.
Unlike Greece or Ireland or other EU countries or the USA, the Iceland Parliament and government refused to give unlimited state guarantee to save the private banks.Iceland decided to go it alone and focus on rebuilding her devastated real economy.
The results are quite opposite the results in the EU where the brutal IMF and ECB and EU austerity policies have turned a banking crisis into a major economic crisis across the EU. More…