Tag Archives | Economics

OpenBazaar: P2P Marketplace to Undermine our Corporate Overlords

Howard Pyle: The Buccaneer (1905)

Howard Pyle: The Buccaneer (1905)

Around the turn of the century, Amazon, eBay and other online marketplaces provided revolutionary new venues for small-business entrepreneurship, but they have since grown into heavy-handed corporate behemoths that treat sellers like share croppers while exerting an ever-expanding influence over government and the economy. In the future, online marketplaces will be publicly shared via distributed p2p networks. There will be no fees, no trade restrictions, no corporate overlords running the show. The concept is gaining traction; the technology is already here.

One promising effort in this direction is OpenBazaar. They hope to offer a full release in 2014, and are currently seeking beta testers:

OpenBazaar is an open source project to create a decentralized network for peer to peer commerce online—using Bitcoin—that has no fees and cannot be censored. Put simply, it’s the baby of eBay and BitTorrent.

Right now, online commerce means using centralized services. eBay, Amazon, and other big companies have restrictive policies and charge fees for listing and selling goods.… Read the rest

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The Business of America is Dirty Tricks: Meet the United States Chamber of Commerce

800px-65_Liberty_Street_9484

Former Chamber of Commerce of the State of New York | 65 LIberty Street by Gryffindor via Wikimedia Commons

Lee Fang writes at the Baffler:

Any glance at the inert state of political progress in our market-addled age has to leave even the most dogged investigator a bit bewildered. We live, after all, in an era of economic and ideological drift—of street occupations and ballot-box insurgencies. Yet our institutions of national government remain in shameful fealty to a laissez-faire fantasy. With metronomic predictability, the wise men of Washington preach austerity amid a raging jobs recession and wish away the bulwarks of economic security that make life in these United States (barely) tolerable for fixed-income retirees and poor people who have had the unpardonable bad taste to fall ill. As major manufacturing metropolises go bankrupt, as wages continue to go south while productivity climbs, as mortgages and pension plans are pillaged by the bailed-out banking class, we are trapped in a political consensus that urges government continually to shrink and depicts tax increases on the rich as an unholy abomination against the market’s righteous will.

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As Economic Disparity Widens, Dollar Store Business Booms

By Steve Snodgrass via Flickr. (CC BY 2.0)

By Steve Snodgrass via Flickr. (CC BY 2.0)

via The New Yorker (please follow the link to read the entire piece):

Every three years, the Federal Reserve conducts a survey to get a measure of how American families are doing financially. In the latest results, which were published last week, the Fed revealed that, between 2010 and 2013, the disparity between the rich and the poor had widened. This conclusion wasn’t all that surprising; other research has shown more or less the same thing. But the Fed’s report offered some striking new statistics about the nature of the income gap. Last year in the United States, more than thirty per cent of the income brought in went to the top one per cent of earners, up from twenty-eight per cent three years earlier. And across the surveyed period the share earned by the bottom ninety per cent fell, from fifty-six per cent to fifty-three per cent.

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Free Markets and Capitalism Are Not the Same Thing

Photograph shows stock brokers working at the New York Stock Exchange. 1963

Photograph shows stock brokers working at the New York Stock Exchange. 1963

Roderick Long writes about the problems with conflating the two at Bleeding Heart Libertarians:

Left-libertarians differ from the (current) libertarian mainstream both in terms of what outcomes they regard as desirable, and in terms of what outcomes they think a freed market is likely to produce.

With regard to the latter issue, left-libertarians regard the current domination of the economic landscape by large hierarchical firms as the product not of free competition but of government intervention – including not only direct subsidies, grants of monopoly privilege, and barriers to entry, but also a regulatory framework that enables firms to socialise the scale costs associated with growth and the informational costs associated with hierarchy, while pocketing the benefits – and leaving employees and consumers with a straitened range of options. In the absence of government intervention, we maintain, firms could be expected to be smaller, flatter, and more numerous, with greater worker empowerment.

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The best of capitalism is over for rich countries – and for the poor ones it will be over by 2060

A grim forecast for the future from Paul Mason, economics editor at the UK’s Channel 4 News, writing at The Guardian

One of the upsides of having a global elite is that at least they know what’s going on. We, the deluded masses, may have to wait for decades to find out who the paedophiles in high places are; and which banks are criminal, or bust. But the elite are supposed to know in real time – and on that basis to make accurate predictions.

Just how difficult this has become was shown last week when the OECD released its predictions for the world economy until 2060. These are that growth will slow to around two-thirds its current rate; that inequality will increase massively; and that there is a big risk that climate change will make things worse. Despite all this, says the OECD, the world will be four times richer, more productive, more globalised and more highly educated.

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The Impossibility of Growth

Battle of Actium

Battle of Actium

British political and environmental activist George Monbiot addresses the excellent question of why industrial nations all believe that economic growth is a necessity, at The Guardian:

Let us imagine that in 3030BC the total possessions of the people of Egypt filled one cubic metre. Let us propose that these possessions grew by 4.5% a year. How big would that stash have been by the Battle of Actium in 30BC? This is the calculation performed by the investment banker Jeremy Grantham(1).

Go on, take a guess. Ten times the size of the pyramids? All the sand in the Sahara? The Atlantic ocean? The volume of the planet? A little more? It’s 2.5 billion billion solar systems(2). It does not take you long, pondering this outcome, to reach the paradoxical position that salvation lies in collapse.

To succeed is to destroy ourselves. To fail is to destroy ourselves. That is the bind we have created.

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Utopia Through Digital Cooperation, Bitcoin and a Little Bit of Gin. Featuring Jeffrey Tucker

PIC: Philafrenzy (PD)

PIC: Philafrenzy (PD)

Via Midwest Real

“You can look at the historical trajectory.  From a technological point of view, we’ve gone to ever-more aggregated collectives… And now, in the last 15 years we’ve seen this great innovation of open source distributed networks and peer-to-peer relationships that distribute power equally… Bitcoin fits into this because it’s the ultimate peer-to-peer monetary system.  You don’t have to depend on some powerful third party… You just take the power on your own and possess it and own it and control your life, and that’s what we all want.” – Jeffrey Tucker

 image image

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Craig Hulet: Corporatocracy Dictatorship is the Next Step

Africa_satellite_orthographicCraig Hulet has been laying it out about the corporatocracy and economic fascism for thirty years. His most recent interview was particularly trenchant. Topics covered include African land and resources grabbing, oligarchy, the pointlessness of elections, Putin, Snowden, the possibility of revolution, fascism, corporatism, etc.

Craig Hulet 05-23-14

Craig Hulet radio interview archive

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The Mantra on Wall Street Is ‘Don’t Fight the Fed’, but Do You Know What the Fed Is Doing? And Where Did Belgium Get $141 Billion to Purchase U.S. Treasury Bonds?

via chycho

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The main mantra on Wall Street is ‘Don’t Fight the Fed’, implying that if monetary policy is geared towards easing – lowering of interest rates – then riskier markets are the game in town, and if monetary policy is geared towards tightening – rising interest rates – then volatile markets are to be avoided. But do we know what the Fed is up to?

I. DOW, S&P 500, QE, and Tapering

Both the DOW and S&P 500 are sitting at all-time highs. Since bottoming out in early March 2009 (DOW, S&P 500), the DOW is up approximately 150% and the S&P 500 approximately 180%. Astronomical returns no matter what period you compare this to.

It’s no secret that the only reason the markets have been soaring is because of unlimited quantitative easing [QE], i.e., stimulus, stimulus, and indefinite-stimulus – “fundamentally a regressive redistribution program that has been boosting wealth for those already engaged in the financial sector or those who already own homes, but passing little along to the rest of the economy.”

By December 2012, funds were being pumped into the markets to the tune of $85 billion a month – a last resort, desperate measure that the FOMC began so that their ‘growth’ targets could be met.

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Rethinking Democracy

rubio_jeffersonA pretty compelling read introducing the radical idea that maybe Democracy needs to be reconsidered. Old hat to postmodernism, of course, but maybe it’s time for some mainstream exposure for these notions.

via Salon:

This is what democracy looks like: grotesque inequality, delusional Tea Party obstructionism, a vast secret national-security state, overseas wars we’re never even told about and a total inability to address the global climate crisis, a failure for which our descendants will never forgive us, and never should. Maybe I’ll take the turtle costumes after all. The aura of democratic legitimacy is fading fast in an era when financial and political capital are increasingly consolidated in a few thousand people, a fact we already knew but whose implications French insta-celebrity Thomas Piketty and the political scientists Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page (of the “oligarchy study”) have forcefully driven home. Libertarian thinker Bryan Caplan sees the same pattern, as Michael Lind recently wrote in Salon, but thinks it’s a good thing.

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