Category Archives: Economy

Is Germany Already Signalling The Complete (Economic) Collapse Of The European Union?

Germany Already Signaling The Complete (Economic) Collapse Of The European Union?

Germany Already Signaling The Complete (Economic) Collapse Of The European Union?

by Sprout Money

In an attempt to try to divert a looming economic stagnation in the European Union, some leading German and French economists have launched some plans to try to revive (read: ‘resuscitate’) the economy of the Eurozone by tackling two issues which might have deteriorated the economic situation in the currency bloc.

Enderlein, an associate at a German school of Governance and Pisani, member of a French think thank have announced some ideas focusing on solving the issue of the rigid French labor market and the lack of government spending on infrastructure projects in Germany. This could be the perfect time to push some of these ideas through as the next elections in both countries are still 2.5 years away which means there’s plenty of time to implement new measures and restoring the popularity of the politicians before the next elections.

Read more » Zero Hedge
Learn more » http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-12-14/germany-already-signaling-complete-economic-collapse-european-union

India – Modi Govt is planning to reduce Retirement Age from 60 to 58: Financial Express News

Retire at 58 instead of 60.

Retire at 58 instead of 60.

In a move that would help curb the relentless increase in the Centre’s non-Plan spending and ease the way for infusion of more young blood and professionalism into the country’s largely moribund bureaucracy, the Narendra Modi government is planning to reduce the retirement age of central government employees from the present 60 to 58.

The move that comes at a time when the Seventh Pay Commission is mulling another sharp boost to the pay structure of the Centre’s 5-million-strong workforce is also aimed at creating the requisite space for lateral entry of technically qualified professionals into the government, official sources told FE.
Learn more » http://karnmk.blogspot.ca/2014/11/plan-to-reduce-retirement-age-from-60-to-58.html

Russian Rouble falls further

Rub

Rouble has tumbled more than 40 percent vs dollar in 2014

UPDATE 3-Rouble falls further as central bank seen intervening

Rouble has tumbled more than 40 percent vs dollar in 2014

* Central bank seen intervening on Friday to halt slide

* Rosneft’s dollar buying adds pressure – traders (Updates prices, adds extension of FX swap limit)

By Vladimir Abramov and Vladimir Soldatkin

MOSCOW, Dec 12 (Reuters) – The Russian rouble dropped to a new low of almost 58 to the dollar, continuing a slide that traders said led the central bank to intervene in the market on Friday after a rate hike failed to break the currency’s fall.

Read more » REUTERS
See more » http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/12/12/russia-rouble-idUSL6N0TW0KE20141212

Canadian dollar sinks to 5-year low on oil price war, ‘very dovish’ Bank of Canada

dollarBy MICHAEL BABADThe Globe and Mail

Loonie sinks
The Canadian dollar is at its lowest level in more than five years today, hit by an oil price war sparked by Saudi Arabia and a “very dovish” Bank of Canada governor.

The loonie, as Canada’s dollar coin is known, sank below 88 cents U.S., touching the lowest level since the summer of 2009, as crude prices tumbled again.

Read more » The Globe and Mail
Learn more » http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/top-business-stories/canadian-dollar-sinks-to-5-year-low-on-oil-price-war-very-dovish-bank-of-canada/article21436799/

Japan desperately needs economic reform

Abe’s last chance

Japan desperately needs economic reform; Shinzo Abe still offers the best chance of that

TWO years ago Shinzo Abe ran for office vowing to end Japan’s long economic malaise by banishing deflation and smashing the old habits that impeded growth. He promised to make a country suffering a collapse in confidence once again stand tall. Mr Abe won the election in a landslide, yet barely two years later he has called another.

One reason for this is painfully obvious: Mr Abe has failed to deliver on those promises. Japan is once more flirting with recession and deflation. Households feel no better off. Promised structural reforms have not happened. “Abenomics”, the prime minister’s slickly marketed programme, is looking to many Japanese like a prescription that is benefiting only the rich and big business. Mr Abe’s decision to hold a fresh election on December 14th is in part a cynical move to consolidate his power before his popularity falls further.

In political terms that gamble seems likely to pay off. Given a weak opposition, it would be a shock if his Liberal Democratic Party and its junior partner, Komeito, did not win again. But does Mr Abe actually deserve a second term? Our answer is yes—but only if he does what, in an interview with this newspaper (see article), he says he will by finally embarking on the structural reforms that his country badly needs.

Read more » The Economist
Learn more » http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21635488-japan-desperately-needs-economic-reform-shinzo-abe-still-offers-best-chance-abes?fsrc=scn/tw_ec/abe_s_last_chance

Toronto stock market suffers worst one-day loss since April 2013

By The Canadian Press

TORONTO – The Toronto stock market plunged over 300 points Monday, registering its steepest one-day drop since April 2013, as energy stocks were pounded amid weak Chinese trade data and a report suggesting oil has a long way to go before finding a bottom.

The S&P/TSX composite index closed off the worst levels of the session when it was down almost 500 points, ending the session down 329.53 points or 2.3 per cent to 14,144.17 on top of a slide of almost two per cent last week.

Read more » Times Colonist
Learn more » http://www.timescolonist.com/toronto-stock-market-suffers-worst-one-day-loss-since-april-2013-1.1654925

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Pakistan exempts taxes on import of solar panels

By Mubarak Zeb Khan

ISLAMABAD: The government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday exempted customs duty and general sales tax on import of solar panels for promoting alternative and renewable energy in Pakistan.

Read more » DAWN
Learn more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1149791/

CHINA’S STRATEGIC SHIFT TOWARD THE REGION OF THE FOUR SEAS: THE MIDDLE KINGDOM ARRIVES IN THE MIDDLE EAST

 

BY

Since the Arab Spring, China has been quietly asserting its influence and fortifying its foothold in the Middle East, while the United States pivots to the Asia Pacific after a decade of war.  It is aligning with states that have problematic relations with the West and are also geo-strategically placed on the littoral of the “Four Seas”–the Caspian Sea, Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea, and Arabian Sea/Persian Gulf. Paradoxically, the U.S. eastward pivot is matched by the resurgent Middle Kingdom’s westward pivot across its new Silk Road, and threatens to outflank the citadel of American geo-strategies in the region.

INTRODUCTION: CHINA’S STRATEGIC INTERESTS IN THE MIDDLE EAST

Energy Security

China’s interest in the Middle East is first and foremost energy-driven.[1] In 1993, when it became a net oil importer for the first time, Beijing embarked on a “go out” (zhouchuqu) policy to procure energy assets abroad to feed its growing economy.  The legitimacy of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) rests on continued economic growth and delivering a rising standard of living for the Chinese population.  As a corollary, China is also concerned about security of energy supply lines and Sea Lines of Communication (SLOCS).  Because the United States is considered its main opponent in the international system, China is wary of U.S. naval dominance and the risk of choking China’s energy supply through the Malacca Straits should hostilities break out over Taiwan.  This is referred to as the “Malacca Dilemma,” where 80 percent of China’s oil imports traverse this chokepoint that is vulnerable to piracy and U.S. blockade.  Indeed, given increasing tension in the three flash points of the South China Sea, the Korean Peninsula and the Taiwan Straits, this concern is even more pressing for the Chinese leadership.

Market Access

The Middle East is also a strategic logistics and trade hub for China’s exports and market access in Europe and Africa. China understands the importance of having strong economic foundations for military power and sees that continued market access for their exports to fuel China’s economy would build up their war chest to further underwrite military modernization.[2]  The EU is currently China’s largest trading partner ahead of the United States.[3] Moreover, China also has vast interests on the African continent–both via infrastructure projects and long-term energy supply contracts.  More than 1 million Chinese are in Africa (up from about 100,000 in the early 2000s), with trade at $120 billion in 2011.[4] In 2009, China overtook the United States to become Africa’s number one trading partner.[5]  As such, the Middle East is a strategic region that connects Europe, Africa, and Asia markets.

Thus, given the Middle East’s location as a trade hub linking the three continents, a vital region for market access, and site of vast energy reserves to fuel China’s continued economic growth, the CCP deems the Middle East as a high priority on its foreign policy agenda. As the United States “pivots” towards Asia, China will naturally seek strategic depth in areas that were once dominated by the United States and its Western allies.  This is even more so in the aftermath of the Arab Spring.

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Canada – Report paints bleak picture for Ontario auto industry

Overall, the Ontario auto sector is 15 per cent below pre-recession levels in terms of shipments with only 20 per cent of the 43,400 jobs lost having returned.

OTTAWA—A new report paints a potentially bleak picture for the future of Ontario’s key auto sector.

The paper from Royal Bank economist Josh Nye notes the sector has yet to fully recover from the 2008-09 recession, languishing below pre-slump levels in production, exports, jobs and investment.

Overall, the sector is 15 per cent below pre-recession levels in terms of shipments with only 20 per cent of the 43,400 jobs lost having returned — making it one of the worst performing manufacturing industries.

Read more » The Star

http://www.thestar.com/business/economy/2014/05/28/report_paints_bleak_picture_for_ontario_auto_industry.html

Why is Bolivia the fastest growing Economy in the Americas?

Bolivia has reduced poverty and inequality more than any country in the Western Hemisphere over the last ten years by increasing the minimum wage 87%, doubling investment in schools and healthcare, and lowering the pension retirement age from 65 to 60. The government paid for these programs by increasing taxes on oil profits from 18% to 82%, which also allowed the country to eliminate its debt and amass the world’s largest surplus. Bolivia is now estimated to have the region’s fastest growing economy this year and next, according to the IMF.

See more » http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/oct/14/evo-morales-reelected-socialism-doesnt-damage-economies-bolivia

Learn more » http://www.cepr.net/index.php/blogs/the-americas-blog/bolivias-economy-under-evo-in-10-graphs

Via Facebook

The Marxist Nightmare Of The 1 Percent

By 

“… between technology, globalization, trade, the winner-take-all superstar effect, inequality is rising. This is not just a ‘moral’ issue but also an issue of too little consumption too little savings that is bad for global growth. So it becomes vicious cycle. It’s a bit like the old Marxist idea that if profits grow too much compared to wages, there’s not going to be enough consumption, and capitalism is going to self destruct. So I think that insight of Karl Marx is as useful today as it was 100 years ago.”

If profits grow too much compared to wages, there’s not going to be enough consumption, and capitalism is going to self destruct.

That quote is from Nouriel Roubini, and it perfectly summarizes what a lot of the world’s elites were thinking about at the World Economic Forum.

Roubini’s words echoed the warning from MIT professor Erik Brynjolfsson, who told us:

…there are a lot of forces affecting inequality. There’s globalization, there are institutional changes, cultural changes, but I think most economists would agree that the biggest chunk of it is due to technology. And that’s because of what economists call skill-biased technical change — favoring skilled workers versus less-skilled workers.

Also we talk in the book about capital-biased technical change — you bring capital over labor like when you replace humans with robots. And the third category that maybe is the most important one, we call it superstar-biased technical change, maybe we should come up with a better name. But it’s the fact that technologies can leverage and amplify the special talents, skill, or luck of the 1% or maybe even the 100th of 1% and replicate them across millions or billions of people. In those kinds of markets, you tend to have winner-take-all outcomes and a few people reap enormous benefits and all of us as consumers reap benefits as well, but there’s a lot less need for people of just average or above-average skills.

Brynjolffson came to The World Economic Forum in Davos to warn policymakers that without changes, technology would exacerbate inequality, rather than benefit society as a whole.

The folks at the World Economic Forum in Davos are almost all doing extremely well. They’re the world’s 1% (actually probably more like the world’s 0.001%), and it’s well known that the recovery has been good to them. But there was also a sense — that Roubini gets at in his comment — that the good times won’t last if things keep becoming more unequal.

Figuring out a way to promote mass welfare and to ensure that more people have jobs and strong incomes becomes crucial to preserving what the elites have. Better to have some sort of rebalancing than a dramatic capitalist-destroying rebalancing.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/rich-tech-fears-2014-1#ixzz3KDVYHufQ

China launches ‘world’s longest’ train route: Cargo train from China to Spain.

Move over Trans-Siberian: China launches ‘world’s longest’ train route

The 82-wagon cargo train is expected to take 21 days to travel 6,200 miles, passing through six countries between China and Spain.

Dubbed Yixinou, the train left Yiwu, an industrial center less than 200 miles south of Shanghai, on Tuesday and is expected to reach Madrid in December after traversing Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany, and France, reports the Local.se.

Read more » RT
See more » http://rt.com/news/207447-china-spain-longest-train/

Why Marxism is on the rise again

Capitalism is in crisis across the globe – but what on earth is the alternative? Well, what about the musings of a certain 19th-century German philosopher? Yes, Karl Marx is going mainstream – and goodness knows where it will end

By The Guardian

Class conflict once seemed so straightforward. Marx and Engels wrote in the second best-selling book of all time, The Communist Manifesto: “What the bourgeoisie therefore produces, above all, are its own grave-diggers. Its fall and the victory of the proletariat are equally inevitable.” (The best-selling book of all time, incidentally, is the Bible – it only feels like it’s 50 Shades of Grey.)

Today, 164 years after Marx and Engels wrote about grave-diggers, the truth is almost the exact opposite. The proletariat, far from burying capitalism, are keeping it on life support. Overworked, underpaid workers ostensibly liberated by the largest socialist revolution in history (China’s) are driven to the brink of suicide to keep those in the west playing with their iPads. Chinese money bankrolls an otherwise bankrupt America.

The irony is scarcely wasted on leading Marxist thinkers. “The domination of capitalism globally depends today on the existence of a Chinese Communist party that gives de-localised capitalist enterprises cheap labour to lower prices and deprive workers of the rights of self-organisation,” says Jacques Rancière, the French marxist thinker and Professor of Philosophy at the University of Paris VIII. “Happily, it is possible to hope for a world less absurd and more just than today’s.”

That hope, perhaps, explains another improbable truth of our economically catastrophic times – the revival in interest in Marx and Marxist thought. Sales of Das Kapital, Marx’s masterpiece of political economy, have soared ever since 2008, as have those of The Communist Manifesto and the Grundrisse (or, to give it its English title, Outlines of the Critique of Political Economy). Their sales rose as British workers bailed out the banks to keep the degraded system going and the snouts of the rich firmly in their troughs while the rest of us struggle in debt, job insecurity or worse. There’s even a Chinese theatre director called He Nian who capitalised on Das Kapital’s renaissance to create anall-singing, all-dancing musical.

Read more » the guardian
See more » http://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/jul/04/the-return-of-marxism

Japan’s economy makes surprise fall into recession

Japan’s economy unexpectedly shrank for the second consecutive quarter, leaving the world’s third largest economy in technical recession.

Gross domestic product (GDP) fell at an annualised 1.6% from July to September, compared with forecasts of a 2.1% rise.

That followed a revised 7.3% contraction in the second quarter, which was the biggest fall since the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Economists said the weak economic data could delay a sales tax rise.

Read more » BBC
See more » http://www.bbc.com/news/business-30077122

Pakistan wins $42b Chinese investment

Pakistan, China sign 19 agreements, MoUs relating to China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and electricity generation New pacts pave way for Chinese state-owned companies to help build at least four new power stations in Pakistan Chinese president, PM Sharif say Pakistan-China are ‘iron friends’, aim to create green channel for release of funds for development projects in Pakistan PM assures crackdown on terrorist forces such as the East Turkistan Islamic Movement and maintaining regional stability    China on Saturday promised Pakistan investments worth $42 billion, an official said, as Islamabad promised to help Beijing fight what it calls a terrorist threat in its far-west.  Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif oversaw the signing of 19 agreements and memorandums mostly centred on the energy sector as he met Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People during his three-day visit to Beijing to discuss bilateral relations and the regional situation in Beijing.

Read more » Pakistan Today

http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2014/11/08/national/pakistan-wins-42b-chinese-investment/

Pew Survey 2014: Pakistanis Report Progress, Pessimism

The number of Pakistanis reporting they are better off now has increased from 25% in 2002 to 51% in 2014, according to Pew Research Center report from its 43-nation survey on life satisfaction around the world.

Read more » http://www.riazhaq.com/2014/11/pew-survey-2014-pakistanis-report.html

Bank of Canada Governor says Work for Free!

Poloz’s prescription for unemployed youth: Work for free

By TAVIA GRANTThe Globe and Mail

Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz has sparked controversy by suggesting young people ought to consider unpaid work as a way to gain job experience.

“When I bump into youths, they ask me, you know, ‘What am I supposed to do in a situation?’ I say, look, having something unpaid on your CV is very worth it because that’s the one thing you can do to counteract this scarring effect. Get some real-life experience even though you’re discouraged, even if it’s for free,” Mr. Poloz told reporters Monday in Ottawa.

Read more » The Globe and Mail
Learn more » http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/economy/poloz-having-something-unpaid-on-your-cv-is-very-worth-it/article21439305/

Canadian dollar sinks

 

Weaker loonie won’t save Canada’s low-skilled manufacturing sector, top economist says

By Greg Quinn, Bloomberg News

Canadian makers of goods such as dishwashers shouldn’t look to a depreciation of the nation’s currency to save their businesses, said Carl Weinberg, chief economist at High Frequency Economics.

Parts of Canada’s manufacturing industry will be wiped out by lower-cost Asian rivals, according to Weinberg, who said the country doesn’t have any competitive advantage when it comes to the business of bolting together cars and appliances from imported kits.

Read more » Financial Post
See more » http://business.financialpost.com/2014/10/02/weaker-loonie-wont-save-canadas-low-skilled-manufacturing-sector-top-economist-says/

30,000 Canadians are homeless every night

200,000 Canadians are homeless in any given year, national report says

By CBC News

Despite sporadic success in addressing homelessness in Canada, little progress has been made toward a permanent cross-country solution, says a national report into the extent of the problem.  The report’s initial numbers tell a grim story. Among the report’s findings:

At least 200,000 Canadians experience homelessness in any given year.
At least 150,000 Canadians a year use a homeless shelter at some point.
At least 30,000 Canadians are homeless on any given night.
At least 50,000 Canadians are part of the “hidden homeless” on any given night — staying with friends or relatives on a temporary basis as they have nowhere else to go.

Read more » CBC
See more » http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/30-000-canadians-are-homeless-every-night-1.1413016

 

Citizens of Mosul endure economic collapse and repression under Isis rule

Many Sunnis were glad to see the Iraqi army go when Islamic State took over – but for many the situation is now far worse

By Mohammad Moslawi in Mosul, in Irbil and The Guardian

Conditions inside Mosul, the largest city under Islamic State (Isis) control, have dramatically deteriorated, residents say, with severe shortages of food and water, no functioning public institutions, and the local economy in a state of near collapse.

In a series of interviews, locals in the Iraqi city paint a bleak picture of life under Isis rule. They say that discontent with the militants who swept into Iraq’s second city nearly five months ago is growing. Most public institutions have stopped working and provide no services. Almost all private sector activity and government-funded construction projects have been put on hold. Thousands of workers have been rendered jobless.

Read more » The Guardian 

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/oct/27/citizens-mosul-iraq-economic-collapse-repression-isis-islamic-state

Misrule of the Few – How the Oligarchs Ruined Greece


emonstrators shout slogans during a protest in Thessaloniki on Saturday, protesting against a planned gold mine operation by Canadian company Eldorado Gold Corp. (Nikolas Giakoumidis/Associated Press)

Photo credits: (Nikolas Giakoumidis/Associated Press)

By Pavlos Eleftheriadis

Just a few years ago, Greece came perilously close to defaulting on its debts and exiting the eurozone. Today, thanks to the largest sovereign bailout in history, the country’s economy is showing new signs of life. In exchange for promises that Athens would enact aggressive austerity measures, the so-called troika — the European Central Bank, the European Commission, and the International Monetary Fund — provided tens of billions of dollars in emergency loans. From the perspective of many global investors and European officials, those policies have paid off. Excluding a one-off expenditure to recapitalize its banks, Greece’s budget shortfall totaled roughly two percent last year, down from nearly 16 percent in 2009. Last year, the country ran a current account surplus for the first time in over three decades. And this past April, Greece returned to the international debt markets it had been locked out of for four years, issuing $4 billion in five-year government bonds at a relatively low yield — only 4.95 percent. (Demand exceeded $26 billion.) In August, Moody’s Investors Service upgraded the country’s credit rating by two notches.

Yet the recent comeback masks deep structural problems. To tidy its books, Athens levied crippling taxes on the middle class and made sharp cuts to government salaries, pensions, and health-care coverage. While ordinary citizens suffered under the weight of austerity, the government stalled on meaningful reforms: the Greek economy remains one of the least open in Europe and consequently one of the least competitive. It is also one of the most unequal.

Read more » Foreign Affairs
Learn more » http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/142196/pavlos-eleftheriadis/misrule-of-the-few

Mass protest in Italy

Italy job reforms: CGIL union organises mass protest

A mass protest is being held in the Italian capital, Rome, against Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s plans for labour market reform.

The turnout for the rally, organised by the largest union, the CGIL, was put at up to one million.

Mr Renzi has backed plans to loosen labour protection and make it easier for firms to fire workers.

The protesters are angry in particular at job prospects for the young – youth unemployment is at a record 44.2%.

Susanna Camusso, head of the CGIL, told the crowds: “We want work for everyone, and work with rights. This is a demonstration for those without work, without rights, those who suffer, who have no certainties for the future.”

Read more » BBC

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-29771540

The Corporate Assault on Direct Democracy

By Ron Fein, Truthout | Op-Ed

The direct democracy of ballot initiatives – where voters get to vote yes or no, without any politicians in the way – is a treasured part of the fabric of 24 states and many more cities. But around the country, there’s been a disturbing trend this year: When initiatives threaten corporate interests, lawyers run to court to prevent voters from even getting the chance to vote.

Read more » Truth Out
Learn more » http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/26982-the-corporate-assault-on-direct-democracy

Conversation Between Noam Chomsky, Paul Craig Roberts and Rob Kall part 1– the future of capitalism

Conversation Between Noam Chomsky, Paul Craig Roberts and Rob Kall part 1– the future of capitalism

By

Excerpt;

NC: Well the first point to mention is that we’re very far from a capitalist economy and have never been one — it’s a state capitalist economy with substantial state intervention that, in many respects from basic research and development to manipulating interest rates to determining the laws that administer regulations that permit CEOs to pick their own boards and hence to enhance their salaries, and thousands of other ways. What’s the future of it? That depends on how the public will respond to the circumstances in which there are. I mean, there is an institutional logic which will perpetuate things in a certain direction, but it is not graven in stone. It has been in the past, and can be in the future, influenced, modified, even radically changed by public engagement and action. And there’s no way to predict that — those are matters for action not for speculation.

Rob: OK, Paul?

PCR: Well I think that’s a very insightful view of it. All I would add is that in more recent years, the private interest groups seem to have taken control of the government. Wall Street, Military Security Complex, Agribusiness, the extractive industries — their campaign donations elect the House, the Senate, the President, and they then write most of the bills that Congress passes and the President signs, so it’s a form of state capitalism in which the capitalists seem to have the upper hand.

I think that greed has run away with them to such an extent that they have let it undermine the domestic economy on which they themselves depend. For example, they greatly increased profits in managerial or executive performance bonuses by offshoring so many of the middle class jobs, not only the manufacturing jobs but the professional tradable service jobs, such as software engineering, research, design — these things have left, or a large percentage of them, and it erodes consumer purchasing power. The middle class is damaged, the kids who graduate from university expecting jobs find that jobs are offshored, they’ve got debts, increasingly the big retail box stores just offer part-time employment — you can’t form a household on one of those jobs. You can’t get married, buy a house. You have to work two of those jobs, some people three. There are no benefits, no pension. The years of zero interest rate, in order to save the big mega banks, have caused the retired element to have to draw down their savings because they don’t get any interest income, and so inheritance for children is disappearing. And so the whole system has become a house of cards.

Massive debt/money creation is not matched by the increase in real goods and services. As Chomsky said, interest rates are rigged, the gold price is rigged, the stock market is a bubble, the dollar is a bubble — in a way it’s a house of cards. And the power of the United States rests, to a substantial extent, on the dollar being the world reserve currency. And yet, when you create massive new dollars to support quantitative easing but the goods and services don’t increase, you worry the whole world about their dollar holdings. And then you step in and threaten other countries with sanctions? That gives them an incentive to leave the dollar payment system, which means the demand for dollars drops.

So, I think the whole thing is a house of cards and that change could come from a substantial collapse that simply totally discredits the elites from both parties; and some kind of collapse of that extent would give room for the sort of thing Noam mentioned — that people could get back in and be determining factors in the process and some kind of new leadership could arise.

Read more » OpEdNews
Learn More » http://www.opednews.com/articles/Transcript-Conversation-B-by-Rob-Kall-Capitalism_Climate_Greed_Predatory-Capitalism-140928-11.html

China launches new World Bank rival

 

Beijing has launched the $100 billion Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). Australia, Indonesia and South Korea were absent following hidden pressure from Washington concerned about the new challenge to the World Bank and Asian Development Bank.

Read more »RT
Learn more » http://rt.com/business/198928-china-world-bank-rival/

Corporate Dictatorship

The Imperative of Revolt

TORONTO—I met with Sheldon S. Wolin in Salem, Ore., and John Ralston Saul in Toronto and asked the two political philosophers the same question. If, as Saul has written, we have undergone a corporate coup d’état and now live under a species of corporate dictatorship that Wolin calls “inverted totalitarianism,” if the internal mechanisms that once made piecemeal and incremental reform possible remain ineffective, if corporate power retains its chokehold on our economy and governance, including our legislative bodies, judiciary and systems of information, and if these corporate forces are able to use the security and surveillance apparatus and militarized police forces to criminalize dissent, how will change occur and what will it look like?

Wolin, who wrote the books “Politics and Vision” and “Democracy Incorporated,” and Saul, who wrote “Voltaire’s Bastards” and “The Unconscious Civilization,” see democratic rituals and institutions, especially in the United States, as largely a facade for unchecked global corporate power. Wolin and Saul excoriate academics, intellectuals and journalists, charging they have abrogated their calling to expose abuses of power and give voice to social criticism; they instead function as echo chambers for elites, courtiers and corporate systems managers. Neither believes the current economic system is sustainable. And each calls for mass movements willing to carry out repeated acts of civil disobedience to disrupt and delegitimize corporate power.

“If you continue to go down the wrong road, at a certain point something happens,” Saul said during our meeting Wednesday in Toronto, where he lives. “At a certain point when the financial system is wrong it falls apart. And it did. And it will fall apart again.”

Read more » Common Dreams
Learn more » http://www.commondreams.org/views/2014/10/20/imperative-revolt

 

What Pakistan can learn from the economics Nobel laureate

By Murtaza Haider

From food items to consumer products, Pakistanis pay significantly higher prices than others in the region.

Being left at the mercy of oligopolies, which have controlled markets since Pakistan’s creation in 1947, the consumers have been forced to pay higher prices for, at times, inferior quality goods.

Another newly minted Nobel laureate’s efforts may help Pakistanis break free of the tyrannical control of State monopolies and private oligopolies.

Professor Jean Tirole of France has received the 2014 Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel for his work on market power and regulation. His research has shown how firms gain market power and set prices at the detriment of consumers. His work is as relevant to privatisation-happy Pakistan as it is to developed economies.

Read more » DAWN

http://www.dawn.com/news/1138136

Anger grows as wages soar for health-care CEOs while services cut for patients.

Kathleen Wynne must clean up home-care mess: Hepburn

Workers on the front lines of health care are angry that executive salaries are soaring while vital health services are silently slashed.

By:

She sits in her car and cries after telling a war veteran suffering from Parkinson’s disease that she can’t approve visits by a nurse to his home to give him the insulin he needs.

Read more » The Star

Neoliberalism has brought out the worst in us

An economic system that rewards psychopathic personality traits has changed our ethics and our personalities

By theguardian.com

We tend to perceive our identities as stable and largely separate from outside forces. But over decades of research and therapeutic practice, I have become convinced that economic change is having a profound effect not only on our values but also on our personalities. Thirty years of neoliberalism, free-market forces and privatisation have taken their toll, as relentless pressure to achieve has become normative. If you’re reading this sceptically, I put this simple statement to you: meritocratic neoliberalism favours certain personality traits and penalises others.

There are certain ideal characteristics needed to make a career today. The first is articulateness, the aim being to win over as many people as possible. Contact can be superficial, but since this applies to most human interaction nowadays, this won’t really be noticed.

It’s important to be able to talk up your own capacities as much as you can – you know a lot of people, you’ve got plenty of experience under your belt and you recently completed a major project. Later, people will find out that this was mostly hot air, but the fact that they were initially fooled is down to another personality trait: you can lie convincingly and feel little guilt. That’s why you never take responsibility for your own behaviour.

On top of all this, you are flexible and impulsive, always on the lookout for new stimuli and challenges. In practice, this leads to risky behaviour, but never mind, it won’t be you who has to pick up the pieces. The source of inspiration for this list? The psychopathy checklist by Robert Hare, the best-known specialist on psychopathy today.

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Israeli Finance Minister Lapid threatens to topple Netanyahu’s government

Clash of Israeli Political Ambitions Fuels Budget ‘Street Fight’

By Alisa Odenheimer

The competing ambitions of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahuand Finance Minister Yair Lapid are turning this year’s budget process into a who-blinks-first battle between the leaders of the country’s two biggest parties.

Lapid is threatening to topple Netanyahu’s government, rather than raise taxes — something he has promised voters he won’t do — deepening the standoff between the two over spending plans for next year.

“What we have here is a political street fight,” Yaniv Pagot, chief strategist for Ayalon Group Ltd. inRamat Gan, a Tel Aviv suburb, said by phone. “It’s not the numbers talking, it’s the political agendas.”

The disputes have already held up submission of a draft budget to cabinet. Lapid says the Defense Ministry is asking for too much more money after the recent war in the Gaza Strip. He has said he’d rather see the budget gap increase than add taxes or abandon his flagship program to lift the 18 percent value-added tax for some first-time homebuyers.

“I will bring down the government and won’t raise taxes,” Lapid said in a videotaped interview posted yesterday on the Ynet website.

Read more » Bloomberg

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-09-16/lapid-says-he-ll-quit-israel-government-rather-than-raise-taxes.html

“Catch your dream – Utopia is possible.”

 

The Spanish Town Where People Come Before Profit

By Liam Barrington-Bush and Jen Wilton

In the south of Spain, the street is the collective living room. Vibrant sidewalk cafes are interspersed between configurations of two to five lawn chairs where neighbours come together to chat over the day’s events late into the night. In mid-June the weather peaks well over 40 degrees Celsius and the smells of fresh seafood waft from kitchens and restaurants as the seasonably-late dining hour begins to approach. The scene is archetypally Spanish, particularly for the Andalusian region to the country’s south, where life is lived more in public than in private, when given half a chance.

Specifically, this imagery above describes Marinaleda. Initially indistinguishable from several of its local counterparts in the Sierra Sur southern mountain range, were it not for a few tell-tale signs. Maybe it’s the street names (Ernesto Che Guevara, Solidarity and Salvador Allende Plaza, to name a few); maybe it’s the graffiti (hand drawn hammers-and-sickles sit happily alongside encircled A’s, oblivious to the differences the two ideologies have shared, even in the country’s recent past); maybe it’s the two-storey Che head which emblazons the outer wall of the local sports stadium.

Marinaleda has been called Spain’s ‘communist utopia,’ though the local variation bears little resemblance to the Soviet model most associate with the phrase. Classifications aside, this is a town whose social fabric has been woven from very different economic threads to the rest of the country since the fall of the Franco dictatorship in the mid 1970s. A cooperatively-owned olive oil factory, houses built by and for the community, and a famous looting of a large-scale supermarket, led by the town’s charismatic mayor, in which proceeds were donated to food banks, are amongst the steps that have helped position Marinaleda as a beacon of hope.

As the Spanish economy continues its post-2008 nosedive, unemployment sits at 26 percent nationally, while over half of young people can’t find work. Meanwhile, Marinaleda boasts a modest but steady local employment picture in which most people have at least some work and those that don’t have a strong safety net to fall back on.

But more than its cash economy, Marinaleda has a currency rarely found beyond small-scale activist groups or indigenous communities fighting destructive development projects: the currency of direct action. Rather than rely exclusively on cash to get things done, Marinaleños have put their collective blood, sweat and tears into creating a range of alternative systems in their corner of the world.

When money hasn’t been readily available – probably the only consistent feature since the community set out on this path – Marinaleños have turned to one another to do what needs doing. At times that has meant collectively occupying land owned by the Andalusian aristocracy and putting it to work for the town, at others it has simply meant sharing the burden of litter collection.

While still operating with some degree of central authority, the local council has devolved power into the hands of those it serves. General assemblies are convened on a regular basis so that townspeople can be involved in decisions that affect their lives. The assemblies also create spaces where people can come together to organise what the community needs through collective action.

“The best thing they have here in Marinaleda, and you can’t find this in other places, is the [general] assembly,” says long-term civil servant for the Marinaleda council, Manuel Gutierrez Daneri. He continues, “Assembly is a place for people to discuss problems and to find the solutions,” pointing out that even minor crimes are collectively addressed via the assembly, as the town has no police or judicial system since the last local cop retired.

In his time as mayor, Juan Manuel Sánchez Gordillo has managed to leverage considerable financial support from the state government, a feat which Gutierrez Daneri attributes to the town’s collective track record for direct action. “If you go ahead with all of the people behind you, that is very powerful,” he says.

As a result, the small town boasts extensive sports facilities and a beautifully-maintained botanical garden, as well as a range of more basic necessities. “For a little village like this, with no more than 2,700 people, we have a lot of facilities,” says Gutierrez Daneri.

British ex-pat Chris Burke has lived in Marinaleda for several years, and he explains that access to the public swimming pool only costs €3 for the entire summer. Burke recounts Mayor Sánchez Gordillo saying to him, “The whole idea of the place being somewhere good to live is that anyone can afford to enjoy themselves.” Burke adds pragmatically, “You can’t have a utopia without some loss-making facilities.”

From Occupation to Cooperation

In 1979, Sánchez Gordillo was first elected as the town’s mayor. He led an extensive campaign to change Marinaleda’s course, which began with hunger strikes and occupying underutilised land.

Read more » Truth-out

http://truth-out.org/news/item/24982-the-spanish-town-where-people-come-before-profit

Brics nations to create $100bn development bank

The leaders of the five Brics countries have signed a deal to create a new $100bn (£58.3bn) development bank and emergency reserve fund.

The Brics group is made up of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

The capital for the bank will be split equally among the five participating countries.

The bank will have a headquarters in Shanghai, China and the first president for the bank will come from India.

Brazil’s President, Dilma Rousseff, announced the creation of the bank at a Brics summit meeting in Fortaleza, Brazil on Tuesday.

A new player

At first, the bank will start off with $50bn in initial capital.

The emergency reserve fund – which was announced as a “Contingency Reserve Arrangement” – will also have $100bn, and will help developing nations avoid “short-term liquidity pressures, promote further Brics cooperation, strengthen the global financial safety net and complement existing international arrangements”.

The creation of the Brics bank will almost surely create competition for both the World Bank and other similar regional funds.

Brics nations have criticised the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund for not giving developing nations enough voting rights.

One of the goals for the bank – whose creation has been discussed for some time – would be to increase the amount of money loaned to developing countries to help with infrastructure projects.

Courtesy: BBC

http://www.bbc.com/news/business-28317555

Pakistan’s Latest Lahore Interchange Flyover

Courtesy: DailyMotion