A flurry of recent activity indicates that evolution is beginning to occupy center stage in economic debates--and not a moment too soon.Recently published books include Robert Frank's The Darwin Economy: Liberty, Competition, and the Common Good (in which he predicts that Darwin will eventually be regarded as the father of economics), Yochai Benkler's The Penguin and the Leviathan: How Cooperation Triumphs Over Self-Interest, Geoffrey Hodgson and Thorbjorn Knudsen's Darwin's Conjecture: The Search for General Principles of Social and Economic Evolution, and my own The Neighborhood Project: Using Evolution to Improve My City, One Block at a Time.Behind the trade books is a growing academic movement, including a recently concluded conference organized by Denise Dollimore and Geoffrey Hodgson titled Evolutionary Thinking and Its Policy Implications for Modern Capitalism. As president of the Evolution Institute, I am privileged to function as a coordinator in addition to my own contribution, including a collaboration with NSF's National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent) on integrating economics and evolution. One result has been a white paper submitted to NSF titled "The Relevance of Evolution for Economic Theory and Policy", co-authored with economist John Gowdy and with 64 signatories, including luminaries such as Pulitzer prizewinner E.O. Wilson and Nobel laureate Elinor Ostrom....
Friday, September 30, 2011
[Princeton professor Cornell] West, who compared the "U.S. Autumn" to the so-called Arab Spring, believed in the longevity of Occupy Wall Street, as long as protesters stay strong."I think we gotta keep the momentum going, because it's impossible to translate the issue of the greed of Wall Street into one or two demands," West stated."In the end, we are really talking about what Martin King would call a revolution - a transfer of power from oligarchs to everyday people of all colours. And that is a step-by-step process, it's a democratic process, it's a non-violent process – but it is a revolution."
#OccupyWallStreet has accomplished a great deal in the past week and a half, with virtually no resources. The following are some of the things the participants have done that allowed what might have been a negligible and insignificant protest to achieve a remarkable level of success:1. They chose the right target.2. They made a great poster.3. They gave their action time to build.4. They created a good scenario for conflict.5. They are using their momentum to escalate.
Martin Wolf is the chief economics commentator at the Financial Times and is one of the most influential economics writers in the world. He’s no radical for sure but today’s article entitled “Time to think the unthinkable and start printing again” could have been written by Abba Lerner himself. It completely debunks the accepted wisdom that we need austerity, that we’re tied to the whims of the financial markets, and that government deficits are some dire problem....
California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris will no longer take part in a national foreclosure probe of some of the nation's biggest banks, which are accused of pervasive misconduct in dealing with troubled homeowners.Harris removed herself from talks by a coalition of state attorneys general and federal agencies investigating abusive foreclosure practices because the nation's five largest mortgage servicers were not offering California homeowners relief commensurate to what people in the state had suffered, Harris told The Times on Friday.The big banks were also demanding to be granted overly broad immunity from legal claims that could potentially derail further investigations into Wall Street's role in the mortgage meltdown, Harris said.“It has been a process of negotiating and sitting at a table in good faith, but ultimately I have decided that we have to go our own course and take an independent path. And that decision is because we need to bring relief to Californians that is equal to the pain California experienced, and what is being negotiated now is insufficient," Harris told The Times in an interview.Harris delivered the news in a letter sent Friday to Iowa Atty. Gen. Tom Miller, who has been leading the 50-state coalition.
Not only did the global financial crisis catch the vast majority of economists completely unawares, they instead expected tranquil and even buoyant times just as the biggest economic crisis since the Great Depression began. My favourite such observation is from the OECD‘s Economic Outlook for June 2007—in which the Chief Economist suggested that, “the current economic situation is in many ways better than what we have experienced in years . . . Our central forecast remains indeed quite benign.” But there are countless other such utterly wrong prognostications about the economy, from the profession that is supposed to be the font of wisdom on the economy.Those “in the know” understand that this is not an isolated failing. The Neoclassical model that dominates economics today is riven with logical and empirical fallacies. If economics were a real science, it would have long ago been overthrown and replaced by something more realistic.Yet at least 90% of academic economists believe in this model, as do almost all economists working in government and private industry. Left to their own devices, they will continue thinking that this model does describe the economy as the real economy falls deeper and deeper into a crisis, even though their model says that this can’t even happen.Since economics has failed to clean out its own intellectual stable, it will be the public that finally forces reform upon it – as once-supporters like Anatole Kaletsky of The Times calls for “a revolution in economic thought” and George Soros funds an Institute for New Economic Thinking. With luck, in a decade or two, a more realistic approach to economics might emerge. But in the meantime, here’s a simple guide for the public: Anything the vast majority of economists believe is likely to be wrong.
...Since capital is destroyed when trade is liberalised, the watertight argument that trade necessarily improves material welfare springs a leak. If economics were a real science, this real-world complication to Ricardo’s argument would be considered, but it has never been seriously addressed.These and many other failings that explain why, when Dani Rodrik took a careful look at the empirical record of trade liberalisation, he found that it had frequently reduced material welfare rather than increasing it. Writing back in 2001, he summarised his findings for Foreign Policy magazine with the statement that:“Advocates of global economic integration hold out utopian visions of the prosperity that developing countries will reap if they open their borders to commerce and capital. This hollow promise diverts poor nations’ attention and resources from the key domestic innovations needed to spur economic growth.”As an economist who has specialised in dissecting the empirical claims for the role of free trade, Rodrik has the might of the majority of the profession against him. As noted above, that’s a good rule of thumb that Rodrik is right.
Thursday, September 29, 2011
...All this [cutting vital spending] would be bad enough if the economy were functioning normally. For these cuts to happen now is morally indefensible.Yet Republicans won’t consider increasing taxes on the rich to pay for what’s needed – even though the wealthiest members of our society are richer than ever, taking home a bigger slice of total income and wealth than in seventy-five years, and paying the lowest tax rates in three decades.The President’s modest proposals to raise taxes on the rich – limiting their tax deductions, ending the Bush tax cut for incomes over $250,000, and making sure the rich pay at the same rate as average Americans – don’t come close to paying for what American families need....
Energy regimes shape the nature of civilizations... how they are organized, how the fruits of commerce and trade are distributed, how political power is exercised, and how social relations are conducted. The locus of control over energy production and distribution is beginning to tilt from giant fossil fuel based centralized energy companies to millions of small producers, who are generating their own renewable energies in their dwellings and trading surpluses in info-energy commons.Distributed CapitalismThe new era will bring with it a reorganization of power relationships across every level of society. While the fossil fuel-based First and Second Industrial Revolutions scaled vertically and favored centralized, top-down organizational structures operating in markets, the Third Industrial Revolution is organized nodally, scales laterally, and favors distributed and collaborative business practices that work most effectively in networks. The "democratization of energy" has profound implications for how we orchestrate the entirety of human life in the coming century. We are entering the era of "Distributed Capitalism."
We can quibble over numbers and the exact set of calculations, but the data I observe indicate that as of last year, we were wasting something like 86 percent of all the energy we threw at the economic process.That means that, as an economy, we are only 14 percent energy-efficient! As one might imagine, that massive level of waste imposes an equally huge array of costs that further constrain the development of our larger economy. The five pillars in Rifkin's Third Industrial Revolution may be the only smart way forward as the synergies of each pillar lift the economy into a higher level of energy efficiency, economic productivity, and sustainability.The good news is that many in the business and policy communities increasingly see energy efficiency as a smart, no-regrets investment opportunity for the U.S. Just one example?It turns out that our current system of generating and delivering electricity to our homes and businesses is an anemic 32 percent energy efficient. That is, for every three units of coal or other fuel we use to generate the power, we manage to deliver only one unit of electricity to our homes and businesses. What we waste in the generation of electricity is more than Japan needs to power its entire economy! What is even more astonishing is that our current level of (in)efficiency has been essentially unchanged since 1960 -- since Eisenhower was in office.And yet, there are larger numbers of Third Industrial Revolution technologies that can improve our performance. Combined heat and power (CHP) systems, for example, can deliver efficiencies of 70-90 percent or more, at a substantial economic savings. There is also an incredible array of waste-to-energy and recycled energy technologies that can further increase our overall resource efficiency and save us money.My colleagues at the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy and I are working on an analysis showing that we could reduce our cumulative energy consumption by as much as one half even as we nearly triple the size of our economy by 2050.
Expanding their reach beyond the confines of Wall Street, a dozen activists from the ongoing Occupy Wall Street action disrupted an art auction at Sotheby’s last week.The protest supported 43 union art handlers, members of Teamsters Local 814, who were locked out August 1 by the tony art seller.Occupy Wall Street, organized mostly through social media, began protests in lower Manhattan 12 days ago, calling on “the 99%” to confront the “greed and corruption of the 1%.”Disguised as potential bidders, the activists entered the building and interrupted the auctioneer one at a time as bidding on an item reached $130,000.The protesters staggered their interruptions through a period of 75 minutes with shouts to “end the lockout” and “make Wall Street pay.”They were escorted off the premises by security with no arrests....
Major Unions Join Wall Street ProtestThe Teamsters Union and New York Transit Workers Union have thrown their support behind the Wall Street protests.Alexander Higgins – reporting live from the protests – notes that United Airlines pilots marched in the protest wearing their full pilot uniforms....Much more
Here is an interesting email from reader "Kevin" regarding the crashing loan-shark market in China....
The Shanghai stock market depicts a credit bubble that collapsed in 2008, partially rebounded, and is sinking once again.China did not decouple from the global economy, nor is there any reason to believe it will, or should. China's debt bubble, housing bubble, and copper Ponzi financing schemes are collapsing.Copper Ponzi Scheme: See Ponzi Financing Involving Copper Trade Gone Wild In China for details of a copper financing scheme now gone bust.Shark Loans: See Ponzi "Shark Loans" Fuel China's Housing Bubble; Home Sales Plunge 44% in Xiamen; Bubble Busts in Tianjinfor details on how loan shark operations fueled China's real estate bubble.Ghost Cities: I have done many stories on China's ghost cities, most recently World's Biggest Property Bubble: China's Ghost Cities Revisited; 64 Million Vacant PropertiesProperty Loans Halted: Property Loans Halted in China's 2nd and 3rd-Tier Cities; Is China's Spectacular Real Estate Bubble About to Pop?All of these schemes are starting to unravel in a major way.
Given some of my key subjects, I can’t help but be interested in the “occupy” movement that, at the moment, has a few hundred protesters more or less living in Zuccotti Park near the New York Stock Exchange in lower Manhattan, and is apparently starting to engage in similar protests in other cities. You can’t find out much about this action via “mainstream media,” and even much of the left media, such as it is, has been critical in some cases, and outright dismissive in others, regarding the movement’s evident formlessness and absence of specific goals.That absence is pretty much undeniable. Still, in Salon, Glenn Greenwald has shrewdly criticized liberal-Democrat scorn for Occupy Wall Street. On the other hand, Mother Jones criticizes the movement on bases other than those that Greenwald attacks. . . .But I write about the deep, founding roots of rowdy, American populist protest and insurrection, often visionary and even utopian, yet informed and practical too, specifically over money and the purpose and nature of public and private finance. And despite my pop-narrative books on the subject, and despite my articles here, and in such place as Newdeal20.org (articles picked up by AlterNet, Huffington, Salon, Naked Capitalism, and others), key indicators of my relative impact (like royalty statements!) give me a sneaking suspicion that most people still don’t connect the American founding period with a rugged drive on the part of ordinary people for equal access to the tools of economic development and against the hegemony of the high-finance, inside-government elites who signed the Declaration and framed the Constitution and made us a nation.Sometimes people even ascribe democratic ideas to the famous upscale American Revolutionaries, who to a man actually hated democracy and popular finance. Paine, the exception, was ultimately rebuked and scorned by all of the others...
Thus we’ve arrived as a society, and at a very late stage in the game, at the same point that classical philosophy reached after the execution of Socrates, when it became uncomfortably clear that having a small minority of people passionately interested in asking and answering the right questions was no guarantee against catastrophic levels of collective stupidity.The Neoplatonist answer was a personal answer, the development of a toolkit to make clear thinking and decisive action possible for anyone with the self-discipline, patience, and persistence to put the tools to work, and it’s as valid an approach now as it was in the days of Iamblichus—though it’s only fair to say that there are other ways of getting to the same place, some similar, some very different.The question that comes to many minds these days, though, is whether something similar can be done on the large scale—whether, to be precise, it’s possible to banish enough baboonery from our collective conversation about the future that we as a society can confront the real sources of our problems and do what has to be done. We’ll talk about that next week.
Over at TPM, Ryan Reilly has an intriguing post about the interest of some tea partiers for a new circulating dollar coin because it supposedly will save the federal government money. This follows a story in the Huffington Post from a week ago about how Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ) introduced a bill that would eliminate the dollar bill and substitute dollar coins.Here's some very personal and U.S. history about the dollar coin and why this is a terrible idea that is really nothing more than a corporate subsidy....
SummaryEven at face value the reported 1.34% growth rate is either sluggish or pathetic, depending on your chosen inclination to spin. When a more reasonable "deflater" is used to calculate the "real" numbers, the second quarter is actually shown to be in contraction. And when using such alternative BLS inflation data the most recent past quarter is the 2nd consecutive "real" quarter to have such negative growth -- meeting one of the common definitions of a new recession.The restive public clearly understands this -- even if the academicians at the BEA don't. The public has been seeing their (per-capita) "slice of the pie" contract now for six months, and no amount of well spun "sluggish growth" can alter their view of a shrinking reality.
With polls showing strong public support for tax hikes on the rich, Republicans should hardly relish a fight with President Obama over “class warfare.” And yet, for weeks, GOP leaders have been bashing the White House for a tax plan that affects just 2 percent of U.S. households and lets the rest of us off the hook.How is this smart politics?Maybe it isn’t, but sticking up for the rich is more popular than one might think – and not just in Palm Beach. America is a famously aspirational country and Republicans have long sought to ally themselves with that ethos. If you want to make a pile of money, the GOP is the party for you – or so they say. It vows to clear away barriers to getting rich, like pesky employer healthcare mandates and environmental rules, and let you keep more of your winnings.Meanwhile, the conservative story goes, all the left cares about is social leveling. Democrats want to punish the successful in order to subsidize the losers, leading us toward a dreary future in which America’s hot shots no longer even make an effort and everyone ends up poorer. As Fox News puts it, Obama favors “takers” over “makers.”
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
No currency will work unless people accept it from each other so this novel money will be put into circulation as a way of rewarding those who are accepting and spending it most.
Americans’ frustration with the federal government is at or near all-time highs. Peter R. Orszag, President Obama’s former budget director, expresses a similar sentiment. In an article for the New Republic, he argues for taking power away from a gridlocked government and giving it to “independent institutions” that will make decisions without undue pressure from politicians or voters.As Mr. Orszag is well aware, this approach is hardly foolproof. See Catherine Rampell’s response for a good critique.But I want to note how popular the plan is. It might be less unpopular than you would think....
Hundreds of thousands of disillusioned Indians cheer a rural activist on a hunger strike. Israel reels before the largest street demonstrations in its history. Enraged young people in Spain and Greece take over public squares across their countries.Their complaints range from corruption to lack of affordable housing and joblessness, common grievances the world over. But from South Asia to the heartland of Europe and now even to Wall Street, these protesters share something else: wariness, even contempt, toward traditional politicians and the democratic political process they preside over.They are taking to the streets, in part, because they have little faith in the ballot box....
"So employees and employers pay much more into the system than is paid out.
That’s the idea: to save enough in advance, beyond what you currently have to pay, to lend the revenue to the government to cut taxes on the rich. It’s pay-in-advance rather than pay as you go. Pay much more than the government needs at present, so that the Treasury has enough money to slash the income tax that wealthy people have to pay. You can follow the Treasury Bulletin or the Federal Reserve Bulletin to see how the savings of the Social Security Administration go up every year – and are lent to government. (George W. Bush wanted to put this money into the stock market to create a stock-price boom that would enrich Wall Street – and would collapse once the flow of funds was reversed and more stocks were sold to pay retirees than new employees paid in. Thank heavens that potential bubble was averted.)
The result that we have today is not really a Social Security system. It’s a system of taxing employees instead of the rich. This tax shift increases the cost of employing people in the United States. That is one of the reasons, in addition to the housing costs, that prices America out of world markets.
The system that financial lobbyists have put in is designed to tax labor and siphon off so much that American labor cannot compete in any market in the world except in arms markets and special markets, and food. So what they call free-market efficiency is crippling the efficiency of the United States by adding to housing costs and adding needlessly to the Social Security and Medicare costs.
There’s no need for these pre-savings to have taken place. Workers could have kept much more of their wages and the government would have had to maintain higher taxes on the rich. But the Republican policy was to tax labor and un-tax wealth – class war with a financial fist.
Since we’ve talked about Social Security, what about the new Super Congress – the Committee of 13, with Obama being the 13th member? What is the composition of this committee, and what automatic budget cuts will go into effect in November if Republicans reject the Obama budget?
The Super Congress is made up of people that President Obama has selected largely because they want to cut Social Security. They pretend that it must be paid as user fees, in advance, to stem the budget deficit that has resulted from untaxing the estates of billionaires – the super-rich – and continuing the regressive tax shift that has been underway since the 1980s.
The basic rule of high finance is that big fish eat little fish. Millions of Americans have put their paychecks into Social Security. Just as corporate raiders set their eyes on emptying out pension funds to pay themselves (and their stockholders and bondholders), so financial lobbyists are seeking to raid the Social Security fund. Their motto is, “Let’s take the employees’ money and give it to ourselves.”
President Obama’s “Main Street” is Wall Street. His talent as a politician is to get votes from Main Street and deliver policies to Wall Street. He actually seems to believe that Social Security should be cut back to give money to his major campaign contributors. The rich are his constituency today, just as they were for George W. Bush. So Obama may cast the deciding tie-breaking vote, but as we’ve spoken on your program before, he’s already appointed people to the Budget Commission and the Social Security Commission when he was first elected, people who want to cut back Social Security by pretending that there’s a crisis. Their working assumption is that if the government needs money the poor should lose, not the rich.
It’s hard for congressmen or senators to vote against Social Security and Medicare, because most voters are in favor of these programs. So President Obama’s strategy is to take the Social Security issue out of Congress – and give himself an opportunity to posture during late September and October to propose pro-labor policies that he knows a Republican Congress will reject, thereby triggering the “automatic” budget cutbacks he negotiated in August with the Republicans.
If you look at who the campaign contributors of the Super Committee, they’re mainly in the financial sector. Even if they committee members are unpopular, they’re going to be able to retire with such high paying jobs in the financial sector. This is what the Japanese call Descent from Heaven. They’ll get their payoff for taking the heat on stiffing the Social Security recipients for their Wall Street constituency.
I’m amazed that there’s not more of a political reaction against this. People have worked hard to save for Social Security out of their paychecks. These are real savings. For Republicans to characterize these payments as an “entitlement” is to treat the elderly as if they’re mere welfare recipients freeloading off the rich – while it’s actually the banks and big fortunes that have been given the handout.
If the Bush and Obama Administration can give $13 trillion to the banks to save them from taking losses on their bad investments, then why can’t they give another trillion to Social Security? The reason is, there’s a class war on. If you don’t realize this, then you’re not going to understand what politics is all about these days.
However, it’s not the kind of class war that people talked about a century ago. It’s fought in the financial arena. The idea is for the big sharks to take the savings of the little savers. They exploit labor not by employing it – as in Marx’s description in Vol. I of Capital – but financially, by loading it down with debt and making labor spend a working lifetime to pay it off. So instead of the wage slavery socialists used to talk about, you have debt peonage today".Read the entire article here.
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
The Third Industrial Revolution is the last of the great Industrial Revolutions and will lay the foundational infrastructure for an emerging collaborative age. The forty year build-out of the TIR infrastructure will create hundreds of thousands of new businesses and hundreds of millions of new jobs. Its completion will signal the end of a two-hundred-year commercial saga characterized by industrious thinking, entrepreneurial markets, and mass labor workforces and the beginning of a new era marked by collaborative behavior, social networks and boutique professional and technical workforces. In the coming half century, the conventional, centralized business operations of the First and Second Industrial Revolutions will increasingly be subsumed by the distributed business practices of the Third Industrial Revolution; and the traditional, hierarchical organization of economic and political power will give way to lateral power organized nodally across society....Like every other communication and energy infrastructure in history, the various pillars of a Third Industrial Revolution must be laid down simultaneously or the foundation will not hold. That's because each pillar can only function in relationship to the others. The five pillars of the Third Industrial Revolution are (1) shifting to renewable energy; (2) transforming the building stock of every continent into micro-power plants to collect renewable energies on-site; (3) deploying hydrogen and other storage technologies in every building and throughout the infrastructure to store intermittent energies; (4) using Internet technology to transform the power grid of every continent into an energy-sharing intergrid that acts just like the Internet (when millions of buildings are generating a small amount of energy locally, on-site, they can sell surplus back to the grid and share electricity with their continental neighbors); and (5) transitioning the transport fleet to electric plug-in and fuel cell vehicles that can buy and sell electricity on a smart, continental, interactive power grid....The creation of a renewable energy regime, loaded by buildings, partially stored in the form of hydrogen, distributed via smart intergrids, and connected to plug-in, zero-emission transport, opens the door to a Third Industrial Revolution. The entire system is interactive, integrated, and seamless. When these five pillars come together, they make up an indivisible technological platform--an emergent system whose properties and functions are qualitatively different from the sum of its parts. In other words, the synergies between the pillars create a new economic paradigm that can transform the world.To appreciate how disruptive the Third Industrial Revolution is to the existing way we organize economic life, consider the profound changes that have taken place in just the past twenty years with the introduction of the Internet revolution. The democratization of information and communication has altered the very nature of global commerce and social relations as significantly as the print revolution in the early modern era. Now, imagine the impact that the democratization of energy across all of society is likely to have when managed by Internet technology.The Third Industrial Revolution build-out is particularly relevant for the poorer countries in the developing world. We need to keep in mind that 40% of the human race stills lives on two dollars a day or less, in dire poverty, and the vast majority have no electricity. Without access to electricity they remain "powerless," literally and figuratively. The single most important factor in raising hundreds of millions of people out of poverty is having reliable and affordable access to green electricity. All other economic development is impossible in its absence. The democratization of energy and universal access to electricity is the indispensible starting point for improving the lives of the poorest populations of the world. The extension of micro credit to generate micro power is already beginning to transform life across the developing nations, giving potentially millions of people hope of improving their economic situation.
Europe looks set to shrug off US objections and go it alone with a financial transactions tax, an EU source said Tuesday, with Brussels due to imminently release proposals likely to raise a storm even within the bloc's ranks.
Today, postal workers and their supporters are holding events across the country to press their demand for repealing the benefit-funding mandate and push back against calls for their workplace to be privatized. For months, Americans have heard dire warnings about the impending collapse of the United States Postal Service due to fiscal insolvency and a drop in the use of mail service. In early September, the U.S. Postmaster General told Congress that the USPS is close to default and unveiled a series of radical proposals to cut costs by firing up to 120,000 workers, closing several thousand facilities, scaling back deliveries, and reducing benefits for retirees. But many postal workers say the much-touted crisis facing the U.S. Postal Service is not what it seems. They argue the greatest volume of mail handled in the 236-year history of the postal service was 2006. They also point to a 2006 law that forced the USPS to become the only agency required to fund 75 years of retiree health benefits over just a 10-year span, and say the law’s requirements account for 100 percent of the service’s $20 billion in losses over the previous four years, without which the service would have turned a profit....
David Graeber — With No Future Visible, Young Activists Have Few Options but to "Occupy Wall Street"
Is it really surprising that young protesters on Wall Street and around the world would like to have a word with the financial magnates who stole their future?
On Thursday, the government’s checkbook increased by $500 billion. Just like that.
Where did it come from?
Was a tax levied on people and businesses in that amount?
Did they find it laying around in some gov’t warehouse?
Did we dig it up out of the ground? Perhaps a quantity of gold in that amount?
It came from nowhere. We just said, we now have $500 billion more.
That’s it. By decree, which is exactly where all fiat money comes from.
And that’s where all fiat debt comes from, too.
And fiat debt is paid with fiat money so there is no debt per se, or at least not in the sense that most people imagine.
Is it inflationary?
No. Just ask gold traders who bought on that belief. Or forex traders who’ve been selling the dollar on that belief.
That $500 bln allows the government to keep writing the checks.
And it’s all about who writes the check.
Monday, September 26, 2011
Most people would probably say they would prefer to live in a more just world to a less just one. There is a strong moral basis for preferring justice. But is this a consideration that states and large international organizations need to take into account as they design their strategies and plans for serving their present and future interests? Do national governments have good practical reasons to think about the consequences their policies and actions may have on the circumstances of justice in the world? What about policies and actions through which states attempt to secure their future economic wellbeing -- do policy makers need to pay attention to the social justice consequences of these actions?There is a strong empirical and historical case for thinking that the answer to this question is "yes." Injustice is a source of resentment, indignation, and conflict. In the long run, the victims of injustice will not be ignored. Justice is a security issue for states and supra-national organizations, and simple prudence demands that policy makers take it into account. To put a simple label on this idea, justice is a security issue....
THE global financial crisis, the latest episode of which boiled over last week, did more than destroy wealth and jobs, or embarrass the rating agencies. It exposed the malaise within the economics profession and the deep flaws in its orthodox theories.George Soros, the billionaire financier and philanthropist, was among those who joined the search for new ideas. Mr Soros funded a new organisation called the Institute for New Economic Thinking which for the past two years has handed out millions of dollars in grants, funding research projects that look at economics in fresh ways.This month, the institute gave more than $125,000 to an Australian.Steve Keen, Associate Professor of Economics and Finance at the University of Western Sydney, has won a grant to turn his money-based model of the macro-economy - which draws on the theories of economists such as Hyman Minsky and John Maynard Keynes - into a computer program for students and economists.
The technology needed to cut the world’s greenhouse gas emissions by 85% by 2050 already exists, according to a joint statement by eleven of the world’s largest engineering organisations….The statement says that generating electricity from wind, waves and the sun, growing biofuels sustainably, zero emissions transport, low carbon buildings and energy efficiency technologies have all been demonstrated. However they are not being developed for wide-scale use fast enough and there is a desperate need for financial and legislative support from governments around the world if they are to fulfil their potential.
"Behind the glass facade of ECB headquarters in Frankfurt, a fierce battle over fundamental beliefs has been smoldering for months. ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet and the majority of his colleagues are willing to rush to the aid of embattled EU finance ministers and to make major purchases of the sovereign bonds of debt-ridden euro-zone countries, such as Greece, Portugal and Italy.
For his part, Weidmann is strictly opposed to these measures. He believes they amount to an unacceptable means of financing states through effectively printing money. In fact, he has come to assume the mantle of the last staunch defender of monetary stability".
Read the rest here.
As per Tom Hickey's post below...it's getting ugly.
Sunday, September 25, 2011
You may recall hearing that earlier this year, J.P. Morgan began to accept gold as collateral for some types of loans. The story can be found here. Here is an excerpt:"Gold hasn't reinvented itself as a currency yet. But it is getting closer."J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. said it will allow clients to use the metal as collateral in some transactions. For example, a hedge fund wanting to borrow money for a short period can put up gold as collateral and use the borrowings to invest elsewhere, betting on making a better return. Typically, banks accept only Treasury bonds and stocks in such agreements."By making the announcement, J.P. Morgan is effectively saying gold is as rock solid an investment as triple-A rated Treasuries, adding to a movement that places gold at the top tier of asset classes. It also is trying to capitalize on all the gold now owned by hedge funds and private investors that is sitting idle in warehouses."
Saturday, September 24, 2011
With a serious investment under the Recovery Act, WAP increased the numbers of homes weatherized by 1000 percent over any previous year since 1976. This means we are close to weatherizing as many homes in one month (25,000) as we previously did in one year. By the end of ARRA’s three-year lifespan next March, the WAP will almost double the number of homes upgraded in the first year of the program — bringing the total number of energy efficiency projects to 720,000.
Speaking to Germany’s Der Spiegel newspaper Sunday, Siemens CEO Peter Loscher explained that the company did not see a future in building new nuclear plants:"'The move is a response to the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan in March,' chief executive Peter Loescher said. He told Spiegel magazine it was the firm’s answer to 'the clear positioning of German society and politics for a pullout from nuclear energy'. 'The chapter for us is closed,' he said, announcing that the firm will no longer build nuclear power stations....."Meanwhile, Siemens will continue to focus on renewable energy like wind, concentrating solar power and geothermal. Siemens’s Loscher told Der Spiegel that the switch to renewables is “the project of the century” and explained that Germany’s transition to 35% renewables by 2020 was very realistic.
The multi-trillion dollar rescue of the banks that started in 2008 has not ended. It continues today under the guise of sovereign debt bailouts. And the cutbacks – to pensions, education, welfare, and public sector jobs – that wreak havoc on the lives of millions are all about funnelling public wealth to banks, pure and simple.