Tag Archives | Recession

John Carpenter’s ‘THEY LIVE’ Turns Twenty-Five

They Live!John Carpenter’s They Live (1988) doesn’t sound like a classic movie: A drifter wanders into Nowheresville USA — a Los Angeles neighborhood devastated by an economic recession. After witnessing some suspicious activity surrounding a strange church, the man discovers a box of special sunglasses which reveal that the reality he’s come to take for granted is anything but what it seems. Add a starring role for professional wrestler “Rowdy” Roddy Piper and one would assume They Live was potboiler sci-fi with a clever gimmick and a B-list “star.”

The problem with this assessment is that it forgets that this is a movie made by a man who practically created slasher films with Halloween and whose ability to infuse cliche-filled genres with deep, emotional and subversive content made him a legend.

They Live is a conspiracy-laden masterpiece of popcorn paranoia that manages to be as entertaining as it is startling. A class war battering ram of a movie, the flick makes the moneyed into monsters while elevating its blue collar lead to the status of a revolutionary hero.… Read the rest

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Irish City Hosting The G8 Summit Gets Fake Storefronts To Create Appearance Of Prosperity

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Located in a region devastated by austerity and the global financial crisis, fascinatingly, Enniskillen will be turned into a movie-set-style simulation of a thriving town when global leaders pass through for the G8 Summit next month. Via PRI’s The World, Irish Times reporter Dan Keenan says:

These are basically empty shops that are being now made to look as if they are thriving businesses – what they’ve done is they have filled the shop front window with photographs in the windows of what was the business before it went bankrupt or closed. In other words, grocery shops, butcher shops, pharmacies, you name it. It’s an attempt to make the place look as positive as possible for the visiting G8 leaders and their entourages, and it’s really tried to put a mask on a recession that has really hit this part of Ireland really very badly indeed.

This initiative is stemming from the Foreign Office in London.

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What Would A World Without Work Be Like?

What comes next? Via the Guardian, Nina Power argues that work is becoming obsolete:

As with all major institutional entities – law, prison, education – to question work is to tamper with reality itself. As with law, prison and education, it is almost always “never a good time” to talk about reform, or the abolition of existing structures.

But as wages bear less and less relation to the cost of living, it seems as good a time as any to ask if the underlying fantasy is that employers will one day be able to pay their workers nothing at all, because all those issues like housing, food, clothing, childcare will somehow be dealt with in another, mysterious, way.

Against the backdrop of rising inflation, increasing job insecurity, geographically asymmetrical unemployment, attacks on the working and non-working populations, and cuts to benefits – a debate about what work is and what it means has been taking place.

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The Psyche Of The Wall Street Quant

Via Ghost Exchange, excerpts from a fascinating PBS interview with former hedge fund analyst Cathy O’Neil on the culture within Wall Street:

The basic cultural assumptions were not pleasant to me. The sort of most basic cultural assumption was that as a smart person, we have the right to take advantage of the system and of “dumb people.” And that is sort of — I mean, I guess I should have known, going into a hedge fund, that’s what people think.

I was thinking of it naively, more like, “Oh, there’s a system, and we should see what inefficiencies there are in the system and add information.” I mean, I just sort of drank that Kool-Aid. But once I was inside, I realized that’s not really how people think about it. They think, “Well, of course we’re going to take advantage, because we’re smart, and we can. We have better tools, and our tools are our brains.” Take advantage of absolutely everything and everyone that we can, in any way we can.

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Iceland Jails Bankers, Erases Citizens’ Debt, Recovers Strongly

 Seriously, the most advanced place on Earth. Bloomberg writes:

Icelanders who pelted parliament with rocks in 2009 demanding their leaders and bankers answer for the country’s economic and financial collapse are reaping the benefits of their anger.

Since the end of 2008, the island’s banks have forgiven loans equivalent to 13 percent of gross domestic product, easing the debt burdens of more than a quarter of the population.

The island’s steps to resurrect itself since 2008, when its banks defaulted on $85 billion, are proving effective. Iceland’s economy will this year outgrow the euro area and the developed world on average, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development estimates.

Iceland’s approach to dealing with the meltdown has put the needs of its population ahead of the markets at every turn. Once it became clear back in October 2008 that the island’s banks were beyond saving, the government stepped in, ring-fenced the domestic accounts, and left international creditors in the lurch.

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21st Century Folk Art: Foreclosure Quilts

quiltsQuilts often contain symbolic worlds reflecting aspects of the broader community or society. Artist Kathryn Clark creates “foreclosure quilts”, which are based on maps of cities, with holes representing foreclosed homes:

From 1999 to 2004, I worked for a private urban planning firm designing New Urbanist neighborhoods throughout the US. In 2007, as foreclosures began to occur I questioned my work. Did I add to this in some way? I was aware early on that these foreclosures were just the beginning of something bigger yet I felt alone when I mentioned it. Few agreed with me or seemed concerned.

It was important to me to present the whole story in a way that would captivate people’s attention and make a memorable statement. Making quilts seemed an ironic solution. Quilts act as a functional memory, an historical record of difficult times.

The quilt is pieced together using patterns of neighborhood blocks taken from RealtyTrac maps.

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Bank Of America Now Suing Itself In Foreclosure Cases

4501651351_6540d48316_nIn the latest phase of the foreclosure crisis, our nation’s biggest banks have reached a Zen-like state in which they resemble snakes eating their own tails, reports Forbes:

Here’s a sign of just how big and messy the foreclosure problem is: Bank of America has sued itself at least nine times in April.

That’s what lawyer and fraud expert Lynn Szymoniak discovered recently during a search for foreclosure filings in Palm Beach county Florida.”There are likely at least 100 examples of the same thing happening across the state,” Szymoniak says. “The company is literally seeking damages from itself in order to foreclose on the condo owner.”

“We are servicing the first mortgage on behalf of an investor and we own the second mortgage,” said Bank of America spokeswoman Jumana Bauwens [in regards to one case].

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Mainstream Pundits: Too Smart To Fail

apocalypseThomas Frank on the establishment economists, bankers, journalists, and foreign policy experts who create our consensus reality, via the Baffler:

A résumé filled with grievous errors in the period 1996–2006 is not only a non-problem for further advances in the world of consensus; it is something of a prerequisite. Our intellectual powers that be not only forgive the mistakes; they require them. You must have been wrong back then in order to have a chance to be taken seriously today; only by having gotten things wrong can you demonstrate that you are trustworthy, a member of the team. (Those who got things right all along, on the other hand, might be dubbed “premature market skeptics”—people who doubted the consensus before the consensus acknowledged it was all right to doubt.)

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Why The American Empire Was Destined To Collapse

dollarblowupVia Alternet, author and social critic Morris Berman says that the perverse American Dream made decline inevitable:

The crux of the problem remains the American Dream: even “progressives” see it as the solution — including, I have the impression, the Wall Street protesters — when it’s actually the problem.

The dominant thinking on the left, I suppose, is some variety of a “false consciousness” argument, that the elite have pulled the wool over the eyes of the vast majority of the population, and once the latter realizes that they’ve been had, they’ll rebel, they’ll move the country in a populist direction. The problem I have with this is the evident fact that most Americans want the American Dream, not a different way of life—a Mercedes-Benz, as Janis Joplin once put it. Endless material wealth based on individual striving is the American ideal, and the desire to change that paradigm is practically nonexistent.

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