Tag Archives | Economics

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

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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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Fast Food Strikes Go Global

Striking fast foodworkers in Chicago. Photo by Aaron Cynic

Striking fast foodworkers in Chicago. Photo by Aaron Cynic

What began as a single day walk out in New York City has now become a global movement to raise wages and allow workers to unionize.

Aaron Cynic writes at Chicagoist:

Hundreds of fast food workers in Chicago picketed the Rock and Roll McDonald’s in River North most of Thursday, calling for higher wages and the right to organize a union. The protest was part of a worldwide day of strikes that took place in some 150 cities worldwide. It was the fifth such strike in Chicago calling for a $15 an hour minimum wage, which has since spread across the nation and now across the globe.

“I’d be able to provide my family some of the most basic things,” said Martina Ortega, a mother of three children who works at two different McDonald’s locations on the South Side. Ortega was one of many fast food workers who participated in the strike, including two who walked out of the McDonald’s on LaSalle and Ontario.… Read the rest

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Tanked: The Financial Crisis is Still With Us With No End In Sight. It May be Time to Give War A Chance Once Again

Seal of Federal Reserve SystemEvery month, rise or shine, the Federal Reserve Bank, an institution that most Americans believe is a branch of government, or a federally run Central Bank has one of its computers add $55 billion—that’s dollars with a B—to its ledger and balance sheet.

In actual fact, the FED, as its known is actually a private institution in government trappings,  owned by,  and run by,  the very banks it is thought to regulate.  It actually has kept the economy afloat since August 2007 when the financial crisis began (not 2008 as most media outlets have it with a printing press with an infusion of $3.4 TRILLION.

At first, the Fed’s Economics Professor turned Bank president,  Ben Bernanke was called “Heliopter Ben” in an allusion to all the money he was bombing the economy with His term ended, but the practice, now barely questioned, goes on.

And why is that? To put it simply, the financial crisis is still with us, whatever talk there is of “recovery” because of structural realities that haven’t changed.… Read the rest

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The Bitcoin “Crisis” Explained and 5 Reasons it Can’t be Killed

BitcoinNear the end of last year, Bitcoin was being gobbled up at an unbelievable $1100 per coin. With a cursory glance, at today’s price ($500), you’d think that the Coca-Cola of cryptos is careening toward disaster. In order to understand why that’s not the case, you might need a quick recap on how we got to this juncture.

Via- Midwest Real

For Bitcoin, early 2014 was a PR nightmare. The crypto was constantly being linked to drugs and money laundering, most infamously in the case of The Silk Road. But, the most damning sequence of events was due to a known security vulnerability and good-old-fashioned ineptness. Enter Hurricane Gox. By February, major (but known to be sketchy) Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox had been having problems for quite awhile. Because of that aforementioned security issue, Mt. Gox halted some of their user’s ability to withdraw Bitcoin while they fixed the hiccup.… Read the rest

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