Economics

The Slow Crash

An Interview with Michael Hudson, Guns and Butter, April 5, 2016

Most people think of the economy as producing goods and services and paying labor to buy what it produces. But a growing part of the economy in every country has been the Finance, Insurance and Real Estate (FIRE) sector, which comprises the rent and interest paid to the economy’s balance sheet of assets by debtors and rent payers. More and more money is being extracted from the production and consumption economy to pay the FIRE sector. That’s what causes debt deflation and shrinks markets. If you pay the banks, you have less to spend on goods and services.

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Muhammad Yunus Urges Grads to Think for Themselves

Nobel laureate wants more social-minded entrepreneurs

The San Diego Union-Tribune, June 11, 2016

Don’t get a job.

“Use your creative power to do more than get a job,” said Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and founder of Grameen Bank. “The job is the end of creativity.”

Yunus, the keynote speaker at the all-university commencement ceremony at UC San Diego on Saturday, has referred to jobs as “the tyranny of employment” that kill creativity and are based on an artificial economic system.
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China’s Silk Geopolitics

By Johan Galtung, TRANSCEND Media Service, May 16, 2016

China is changing world geography, or at least trying to do so.

Not in the sense of land and water like the Netherlands, but in the sense of weaving new infrastructures on land, on water, in the air, and on the web.  It is not surprising that a country with some Marxist orientation would focus politics on infrastructure–but as means of transportation-communication, not as means of production. Nor is it surprising that a country with a Daoist worldview focuses politics on totalities, on holons and dialectics, forces and counter-forces, trying to tilt balances in China’s favor. How this will work depends on the background, and its implications.
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Trans-Pacific Partnership under Fire From Both Right and Left in America

By David DeVoss, Asia Times, April 18, 2016

Foreign ministers spend most of their time persuading other countries to do their bidding. But last week US Secretary of State John Kerry flew to Los Angeles to convince a decidedly American audience to support the Trans Pacific Partnership, the newly controversial trade pact that would link the US, Mexico, Chile, Peru and Canada with Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Brunei, Australia and New Zealand in a tariff-free zone accounting for nearly 40% of global trade.

The agreement “establishes strong, balanced rules to protect intellectual property and the 40 million Americans working in creative and digital industries  — which I don’t have to tell you is a huge issue for California film studios and Silicon Valley,” Kerry proclaimed to the pro-business Pacific Council on International Policy. “In the 21st century you cannot only sell to yourself and expect to grow and survive, let alone compete and thrive.”
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Marxist-Christian Symposium on Common Challenges in Europe

By Michael Löwy, transform!, April 6, 2016

The election of Pope Francis obviously created a new climate for the relations between the Church and the European Left. At the meeting in September 2014 between the Pope, Alexis Tsipras and Walter Baier, the principle was adopted of beginning a new process of dialogue between Catholics and Marxists.

The first such experience took place from 31 March to 1 April 2016, at the Sophia University Institute, near Florence, Italy. The organizers were the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education, the Focolare Movement and transform! europe. In the statement on the motivation and content of the dialogue it is said by the three partners: 

“In the face of the current difficulties and dangers in the world all people of good will must unite independently of their philosophies, their religions and their practical and theoretical approaches, to find ways-out of the crisis. To quote Pope Francis, both transversality and a dialogue across the traditional dividing lines are necessary (...)”.
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Panama Papers: Act Now. Don’t Wait for another Crisis

By Thomas Piketty, The Guardian, April 9, 2016

The question of tax havens and financial opacity has been headline news for years now. Unfortunately, in this area there is a huge gap between the triumphant declarations of governments and the reality of what they actually do.

In 2014, the LuxLeaks investigation revealed that multinationals paid almost no tax in Europe, thanks to their subsidiaries in Luxembourg. In 2016, the Panama Papers have shown the extent to which financial and political elites in the north and the south conceal their assets. We can be glad to see that the journalists are doing their job. The problem is that the governments are not doing theirs. The truth is that almost nothing has been done since the crisis in 2008. In some ways, things have even got worse.
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Some Real Costs of the Trans-Pacific Partnership

Lost Jobs, Lower Incomes, Rising Inequality

A Paper by Jomo Kwame Sundaram, United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development in the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (2005-2015), published by Global Development and Environment Institute

In sum, the TPP will increase pressures on labor incomes, weakening domestic demand in all participating countries, in turn leading to lower employment and higher inequality. Even though countries with lower labor costs may gain greater market shares and small GDP increases, employment is still likely to fall and inequality to increase.

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The TPP and Its Implications for Beijing

By Amitendu Palit, China Daily

The Trans-Pacific Partnership signed at Auckland, New Zealand, earlier this month has 12 APEC members (Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam and the United States). Led by the US, the TPP is one of the largest free trade agreements in the world with its members accounting for about 40 percent of the global economic output.

Though all negotiating members have signed the TPP, it will need to be ratified by each member country, which could take a couple of years because their legislatures will minutely scrutinize it before doing so.

The implementation of the TPP will have major implications for the Asia-Pacific region, many of which are particularly significant for China. All TPP member countries are also members of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, and some other APEC members, such as the Philippines, Thailand, the Republic of Korea and Colombia, have expressed interest in joining the TPP.
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The Future of Work in the Transatlantic Alliance

By Steven Hill, Social Europe, February 11, 2016

What is the future of work, and the future of jobs? For the last several decades, the workers of Germany, the US and Europe have been the most productive and wealthiest in the world. But now that prosperity is in danger.

Where is this danger coming from? Is it from hordes of immigrants arriving from distant lands? Or foreign competitors stealing jobs? No, ironically the threat is self-inflicted.

The situation is most advanced in the United States, but it’s heading to Germany and Europe. The US workforce is undergoing an alarming transformation. Millions of workers are finding themselves on shaky ground, turned into freelancers, contractors and temps, with inadequate wages and a weaker safety net. Even many full-time and professional jobs are experiencing this shift. America is heading toward a “freelance society.”
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