Tag Archives: fiscal cliff

If We Don’t Overturn Citizens United, the Congress Will Become Paid Employees of the Billionaire Class

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I recently introduced an amendment at the Senate Budget Committee. It was pretty simple. It asked my Senate colleagues to begin the process of overturning the disastrous Supreme Court ruling on Citizens United, and to bring transparency and disclosure to the political process. The link to that debate on the amendment is here.

Here’s what I asked my Senate colleagues to consider:

Are we comfortable with an American political system which is being dominated by a handful of billionaires?

Are we a nation that prides ourselves on one-person, one-vote, or do we tell ordinary Americans you’ve got one vote but the Koch brothers can spend hundreds of millions of dollars?

Do we want a political system in which a handful of billionaires can buy members of the United States Congress?

Who are those members of Congress elected with the help of billionaires going to be representing? Do you think they’re going to be representing the middle class and working families?

The answers seem clear to me. Unless the campaign financing system is reformed, the U.S. Congress will become paid employees of the people who pay for their campaigns — the billionaire class. Needless to say, not everyone on the Committee agreed.

It was an interesting and informative debate. Not one Republican supported the amendment and it lost by a 12-10 vote. I intend to offer it again this week on the floor of the Senate.

Read more » The Huffington Post
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ee more » http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rep-bernie-sanders/sanders-to-senate-if-we-dont-overturn-citizens-united-the-congress-will-become-paid-employees-of-the-billionaire-class_b_6918468.html

Marches for ‘Bread, Work, Homes and Dignity’ Converge on Madrid – End w/Police Repression

BY

Madrid, March 21, 2015. Coinciding with the first anniversary of the massive March for Dignity last March 22, 10’s of thousands of people have returned this Saturday the streets of Madrid to demand ‘bread, work, shelter and dignity‘.

The protest was organized by over 300 social groups and 9 Dignity Marches converged on Plaza Colon in Madrid from virtually every corner of Spain shortly after noon today.

The main reason for the protest was once again unemployment, affordable housing, social rights and democratic freedoms, rejection of austerity cuts, corruption and privatization of once public services. Also banners against the free trade agreement between the European Union and the United States (TTIP, for its acronym in English) were seen.

Read more » http://revolution-news.com/marches-for-bread-work-homes-and-dignity-converge-on-madrid-end-wpolice-repression/

OECD cuts growth forecast for Canada in 2015 and 2016

Paris-based think-tank of wealthy nations says economy will expand by 2.2% this year

By The Canadian Press

The OECD has reduced its 2015 and 2016 economic growth forecasts for Canada, citing the drag caused by a significant drop in prices for oil and other commodities since its previous outlook in November.

The Paris-based organization is now estimating Canada’s economy will grow by to 2.2 per cent this year, 0.4 less than previously thought. Next year’s forecast has been trimmed to 2.1 per cent, down 0.3.

The OECD says Canada is among the countries that has been affected by the sharp decline in oil and commodity prices while others, particularly in Europe and Asia, will benefit from sharp drop in oil prices to six-year lows.

Read more » CBC
See more » http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/oecd-cuts-growth-forecast-for-canada-in-2015-and-2016-1.2999555

The rich are 64% richer than before the recession, while the poor are 57% poorer

Britain’s divided decade: the rich are 64% richer than before the recession, while the poor are 57% poorer

By NIGEL MORRIS

The gap between richest and poorest has dramatically widened in the past decade as wealthy households paid off their debts and piled up savings following the financial crisis, a report warns today.

By contrast, the worst-off families are far less financially secure than before the recession triggered by the near- collapse of several major banks. They have an average of less than a week’s pay set aside and are more often in the red.

Younger workers have fallen behind older people while homeowners – particularly those who have paid off their mortgages – have become increasingly affluent compared with their neighbours who are paying rent.

Evidence of Britain’s rapidly growing wealth gap was revealed by the Social Market Foundation (SMF), which analysed the changing incomes and savings of thousands of people. Its findings will be seized on by Labour as evidence that any recovery from the downturn is uneven and not shared across all income groups. However, the trends uncovered by the SMF began before the Coalition came to power, underlining the huge impact of the credit crunch on levels of affluence.

It found that the average wealth of the best-off one-fifth of families rose by 64 per cent between 2005 and 2012-13 as they put more money aside as a buffer against future shocks. They have average savings and investments of around £10,000 compared with £6,000 seven years earlier.

The proportion of people in this group with debts (apart from mortgages) dropped from 43 per cent to less than one-third. However, the SMF found the poorest 20 per cent are less financially secure than they were in 2005, with their net wealth falling by 57 per cent and levels of debt and use of overdrafts increasing.

Read more » The Independent
See more » http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/britains-divided-decade-the-rich-are-64-richer-than-before-the-recessionwhile-the-poor-are-57-poorer-10097038.html

Corporations are destroying human society, global culture and the environment. – Howard Zinn

Read more » Twitter »» Howard Zinn

Global banks: A world of pain – The giants of global finance are in trouble

New York: ONLY pop music and pornography embraced globalisation more keenly than banks did. Since the 1990s three kinds of international firm have emerged. Investment banks such as Goldman Sachs deal in securities and cater to the rich from a handful of financial hubs such as Hong Kong and Singapore. A few banks, such as Spain’s Santander, have “gone native”, establishing a deep retail-banking presence in multiple countries. But the most popular approach is the “global network bank”: a jack of all trades, lending to and shifting money for multinationals in scores of countries, and in some places acting like a universal bank doing everything from bond-trading to car loans. The names of the biggest half-dozen such firms adorn skyscrapers all over the world.

This model of the global bank had a reasonable crisis in 2008-09: only Citigroup required a full-scale bail out. Yet it is now in deep trouble. In recent weeks Jamie Dimon, the boss of JPMorgan Chase, has been forced to field questions about breaking up his bank. Stuart Gulliver, the head of HSBC, has abandoned the financial targets that he set upon taking the job in 2011. Citigroup is awaiting the results of its annual exam from the Federal Reserve. If it fails, calls for a mercy killing will be deafening (see next story). Deutsche Bank is likely to shrink further. Standard Chartered, which operates in Asia, Africa and the Middle East, is parting company with its longstanding boss, Peter Sands.

Read more » The Economist
See more » http://www.economist.com/news/finance-and-economics/21645807-giants-global-finance-are-trouble-world-pain

Germany Rejects Loan Request Saying Greece Must Meet Conditions

(Bloomberg) — Germany rejected Greece’s request for an extension of its aid program, saying its offer doesn’t meet the euro region’s conditions for continuing aid.

The Greek government is trying to agree bridge-financing without meeting the conditions of its existing rescue program, German Finance Ministry Spokesman Martin Jaeger said in an e-mailed statement. European Commission Spokesman Margaritis Schinas moments earlier had said the Greek letter could be the basis for a “reasonable compromise.”

The euro dropped 0.3 percent to $1.1358.

Read more » Bloomberg
See more » http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-02-19/eu-says-greek-letter-may-pave-way-for-reasonable-compromise-i6c3go5j

Technology And the Threat of a Jobless Future

The Typical Millennial Is $2,000 Poorer Than His Parents at This Age

More young people are living in poverty and fewer have jobs compared their parents’ generation, the Baby Boomers, in 1980

By 

The past is another country. In 1980, the typical young worker in Detroit or Flint, Michigan, earned more than his counterpart in San Francisco or San Jose. The states with the highest median income were Michigan, Wyoming, and Alaska. Nearly 80 percent of the Boomer generation, which at the time was between 18 and 35, was white, compared to 57 percent today.

Three decades later, in 2013, the picture of young people—yes, Millennials—is a violently shaken kaleidoscope, and not all the pieces are falling into a better place. Michigan’s median income for under-35 workers has fallen by 26 percent, more than any state. In fact, beyond the east coast, earnings for young workers fell in every state but Hawaii and South Dakota.

Read more » The Atlantic
Learn more » http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/01/young-adults-poorer-less-employed-and-more-diverse-than-their-parents/385029/

Richest 1% to own more than rest of world, Oxfam says

The wealthiest 1% will soon own more than the rest of the world’s population, according to a study by anti-poverty charity Oxfam.

The charity’s research shows that the share of the world’s wealth owned by the richest 1% increased from 44% in 2009 to 48% last year.

On current trends, Oxfam says it expects the wealthiest 1% to own more than 50% of the world’s wealth by 2016.

The research coincides with the start of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

The annual gathering attracts top political and business leaders from around the world.

Read more » BBC
Learn more » http://www.bbc.com/news/business-30875633

Italy’s finance ministry gets egged by #socialstrike protesters

 

By Magan Specia

Protesters hurled eggs at the country’s finance ministry and scaled the sides of the Colosseum on Thursday as nationwide labor demonstrations heated up.

Students and union members were the driving force behind the demonstrations, rallying on Twitter under the hashtag #socialstrike.

Several were injured in in Padua where protesters clashed with police. The violence erupted when members of the march headed toward the local offices of Premier Matteo Renzi’s centre-left Democratic Party (PD).

Read more » Mashable
Learn more » http://mashable.com/2014/11/14/national-labor-protest-italy/

Fueled by Recession, U.S. Wealth Gap Is Widest in Decades, Study Finds

CapitalistsBy

The wealthy are getting wealthier. As for everyone else, no such luck.

A report released on Wednesday by the Pew Research Center found that the wealth gap between the country’s top 20 percent of earners and the rest of America had stretched to its widest point in at least three decades.

Last year, the median net worth of upper-income families reached $639,400, nearly seven times as much of those in the middle, and nearly 70 times the level of those at the bottom of the income ladder.

There has been growing attention to the issue of income inequality, particularly the plight of those earning the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour or close to it.

But while income and wealth are related (the more you make, the more you can save and invest), the wealth gap zeros in on a different aspect of financial well-being: how much money and other assets you have accumulated over time, including the value of your home and car plus any investments in stocks, bonds and the like.

While those at the top have managed to recoup much of the wealth lost during the economic downturn, middle-income families have not made any gains.

“The Great Recession destroyed a significant amount of middle-income and lower-income families’ wealth, and the economic ‘recovery’ has yet to be felt for them,” the report concluded.

Read more » The New York Times
Learn more » http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/18/business/economy/us-wealth-gap-widest-in-at-least-30-years-pew-study-says.html?smid=tw-nytimes&_r=0

Swiss National Bank will cut interest rate to minus 0.25%

Switzerland’s National Bank (SNB) will bring in a negative interest rate cutting the value of large sums of money left on deposit in the country.

The Bank is imposing a rate of minus 0.25% on “sight deposits” – a form of instant access account – of more than 10m Swiss francs ($9.77m).

It is trying to lower the value of the Swiss franc, which has risen recently.

Russia’s market meltdown and a dramatic plunge in the oil price have led investors to seek “safe havens”.

The announcement sent the franc lower, and in early trading the euro was buying 1.2095 Swiss francs, fewer than the 1.203 it was worth before the news, just within the target.

Switzerland typically sees money flow in during economic uncertainty.

The new rate will be introduced on 22 January and will only affect banks and large companies who use the “sight account” to transfer funds quickly and without restrictions.

A negative rate means depositors pay to lend the bank their money.

Read more » BBC
Learn more » http://www.bbc.com/news/business-30528404

Is Germany Already Signalling 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

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

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

 

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

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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

‘Revolution is inevitable’: Russell Brand

 

‘Revolution is inevitable’: Russell Brand hits Wall Street, kisses RT interviewer (VIDEO)

Russell Brand and some 200 Occupy Wall Street protesters descended onto New York City’s financial district on Monday, where the celebrity called for a “revolution” within the US. Brand explained his viewpoint to RT – and even kissed the correspondent.

The gathering began as part of a promotional event for his newly released book, titled ‘Revolution.’ However, after a reading at Zuccotti Park – where Occupy Wall Street protesters made global headlines for rallying against social and economic inequality – Brand and other attendees marched to Wall Street.

Once they arrived, Brand spoke about the need for a social and economic “revolution,” something he writes about at length in his new book. Brand mentioned the high disapproval ratings that have been reported regarding American institutions like Congress, arguing that the last time vast swathes of the country were taxed by “elites,” a revolution was sparked.

Speaking with RT’s Aleksey Yaroshevsky at the event, Brand said the arrival of his book comes at a time when Americans are bracing for similar revolutionary action.

“I think it’s inevitable,” Brand said. “When universal change is required, people will formulate and organize, and bring about that change. Now we are living under galling inequality, at the point of ecological crisis. People are misinformed, but the means for new communication are merging, and people are awakening.”

Read more » RT
http://rt.com/usa/195992-russell-brand-revolution-wall-street/

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.

Continue reading Neoliberalism has brought out the worst in us

1 million workers across the UK walk off their jobs to protest pay and pension cuts in the nation’s largest strike in decades

Public sector strikes hit schools and services around the UK

Hundreds of thousands of people have taken part in rallies and marches across the UK as part of a day of strike action by public service unions. Teachers, firefighters and council workers joined the strike, which follows disputes with the government over pay, pensions and cuts. Thousands of pupils were affected as some 6,000 schools in England closed, the Department for Education said.

Read more » BBC
http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-28240683

 

The biggest threats to American workers

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A century ago, roughly one-third of U.S. workers toiled in agriculture. Now just 1.5% do. Yet agricultural output has skyrocketed, and the United States, after feeding itself, has plenty of food left over to export.

That explosion in agricultural productivity is considered a crowning achievement of 20th-century capitalism. Yet a similar trend that may now be underway in manufacturing and even the service economy isn’t viewed with the same reverential awe. Instead, the rise of robots and computers in place of workers looms as one of the great challenges in capitalism’s next century.

Read more » Yahoo News
https://ca.finance.yahoo.com/news/the-biggest-threat-to-american-workers-162716201.html#more-id

Empty wallets explain new levels of partisan hatred

Tricle downBy  | Daily Ticker

new study by Pew Research verifies much we already know about political extremism in America: It’s getting worse and interfering with social and economic progress. The big question is: Why?

Pew doesn’t address that question, but here’s a plausible answer: Voters are becoming angrier because living standards are falling and the middle class is shriveling. Prosperity breeds comity, but when it gets harder to get ahead, the natural inclination is for the losers to look for somebody to blame and the winners to feel more threatened. That’s been going on for nearly 30 years. Income inequality began to worsen in the United States starting around the early 1980s.

Read more » Yahoo News
https://ca.finance.yahoo.com/blogs/daily-ticker/empty-wallets-explain-why-democrats-and-republicans-hate-each-other-191155158.html

The jobs don’t pay enough and the rents are insane. Now New York City’s young add student loans to their misery 

Young and in Debt in New York City

Student Loans Make it Hard to Rent or Buy a Home

By 

For young people, moving to New York City hasn’t made much mathematical sense for decades. The jobs don’t pay enough, the internships don’t pay at all, and the rents are prohibitive by any sane standard.

But now add a new economic fact of life to that list: soaring student loandebt. More students are taking out bigger loans than ever before, and in the last 10 years alone, education debt tripled, reaching over $1 trillion. A record number of college students are graduating knee deep in a financial hole before they begin their adult lives.

Still, new research suggests that college is working, economically. Four years on campus nets the average graduate almost twice as much in wages as someone without a degree. Those odds may be comforting in the long run, but not when you’re young, deeply in debt and trying to nest in New York City.

Read more » The New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/08/realestate/student-loans-make-it-hard-to-rent-or-buy-a-home.html?smid=tw-nytimes&_r=0

European Central Bank hurls cash at sluggish euro zone economy, seeks to force bank lending

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – The European Central Bank launched a raft of measures on Thursday to fight low inflation and boost the euro zone economy, cutting rates, imposing negative interest rates on its overnight depositors and offering banks new long-term funds.

By John O’Donnell and Eva Taylor

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – The European Central Bank launched a raft of measures on Thursday to fight low inflation and boost the euro zone economy, cutting rates, imposing negative interest rates on its overnight depositors and offering banks new long-term funds.

The ECB cut all its main rates to record lows in a drive to fight off the risk of Japan-like deflation and bring down the euro’s exchange rate. For the first time, it will charge banks 0.10 percent for parking funds at the central bank overnight.

It stopped short of large-scale asset purchases known as quantitative easing for now, but ECB President Mario Draghi said more action would come it necessary.

Draghi outlined a four-year 400 billion euro ($544.86 billion) scheme giving banks that have been holding back credit due to looming stress tests an incentive to increase lending to businesses in the euro zone.

“Now we are in a completely different world,” Draghi told a news conference, citing “low inflation, a weak recovery and weak monetary and credit dynamics”.

The package, adopted unanimously, was aimed at increasing lending to the “real economy”, he said.

Other steps included extending the duration of unlimited cheap liquidity for euro zone banks, injecting about 170 billion euros by stopping tenders that withdrew funds spent on past government bond purchases, and preparing for possible future purchases of asset-backed securities to support small business.

Read more » MSN
http://money.ca.msn.com/investing/news/breaking-news/ecb-hurls-cash-at-sluggish-euro-zone-economy-seeks-to-force-bank-lending

“Are we finished? The answer is no.” – Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank says

Draghi Unveils Historic Measures to Counter Deflation Threat

Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank (ECB), reacts whilst speaking at a news conference where he unveiled historic measures to face down inflation in Frankfurt, Germany, on Thursday, June 5, 2014.

Bloomberg News reported:

The ECB today cut its deposit rate to minus 0.1 percent, becoming the first major central bank to take one of its main rates negative. In a bid to get credit flowing to parts of the economy that need it, the ECB also opened a 400-billion-euro ($542 billion) liquidity channel tied to bank lending and officials will start work on an asset-purchase plan. While conceding that rates are at the lower bound “for all practical purposes,” he signaled the the ECB is willing to act again.

“We think it’s a significant package,” Draghi told reporters in Frankfurt. “Are we finished? The answer is no.”

Courtesy: Bloomberg

Thomas Piketty’s Capital: everything you need to know about the surprise bestseller

The radical economist’s book Capital in the Twenty-First Century has angered the right with its powerful argument about wealth, democracy and why capitalism will always create inequality. Not read it yet? Here’s what it means

By The Guardian

That capitalism is unfair has been said before. But it is the way Thomas Piketty says it – subtly but with relentless logic – that has sent rightwing economics into a frenzy, both here and in the US.

His book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, has shot to the top of the Amazon bestseller list. Carrying it under your arm has, in certain latitudes of Manhattan, become the newest tool for making a social connection among young progressives. Meanwhile, he is beencondemned as neo-Marxist by rightwing commentators. So why the fuss?

Piketty’s argument is that, in an economy where the rate of return on capital outstrips the rate of growth, inherited wealth will always grow faster than earned wealth. So the fact that rich kids can swan aimlessly from gap year to internship to a job at father’s bank/ministry/TV network – while the poor kids sweat into their barista uniforms – is not an accident: it is the system working normally.

If you get slow growth alongside better financial returns, then inherited wealth will, on average, “dominate wealth amassed from a lifetime’s labour by a wide margin”, says Piketty. Wealth will concentrate to levels incompatible with democracy, let alone social justice. Capitalism, in short, automatically creates levels of inequality that are unsustainable. The rising wealth of the 1% is neither a blip, nor rhetoric.

To understand why the mainstream finds this proposition so annoying, you have to understand that “distribution” – the polite name for inequality – was thought to be a closed subject. Simon Kuznets, the Belarussian émigré who became a major figure in American economics, used the available data to show that, while societies become more unequal in the first stages of industrialisation, inequality subsides as they achieve maturity. This “Kuznets Curve” had been accepted by most parts of the economics profession until Piketty and his collaborators produced the evidence that it is false.

In fact, the curve goes in exactly the opposite direction: capitalism started out unequal, flattened inequality for much of the 20th century, but is now headed back towards Dickensian levels of inequality worldwide.

Continue reading Thomas Piketty’s Capital: everything you need to know about the surprise bestseller

CANADA – Economy slows to worst quarter since 2012

OTTAWA – Canada’s economy suffered through its worst quarter in more than a year during the first three months of 2014, as activity slowed in many key sectors, particularly business investment.

Due in part to the unusually harsh winter, economic growth fell to a surprisingly weak 1.2 per cent annualized rate, the slowest quarterly pace since the fourth quarter of 2012, when the growth rate was 0.9 per cent.

As well, for the month of March, gross domestic product inched forward by only 0.1 per cent, suggesting a weak hand off to the second quarter.

Statistics Canada also revised downward the fourth quarter growth rate from the previously reported 2.9 to 2.7 per cent, and January’s strong 0.5 per cent GDP reading was trimmed back to 0.4.

Read more » msn NEWS
http://news.ca.msn.com/canada/economy-slows-to-worst-quarter-since-2012-2

‘Warren Buffet Indicator’ Signals Collapse in Stock Market

Warning: Stocks Will Collapse by 50% in 2014

It is only a matter of time before the stock market plunges by 50% or more, according to several reputable experts.

“We have no right to be surprised by a severe and imminent stock market crash,” explains Mark Spitznagel, a hedge fund manager who is notorious for his hugely profitable billion-dollar bet on the 2008 crisis. “In fact, we must absolutely expect it.”

Unfortunately Spitznagel isn’t alone.

“We are in a gigantic financial asset bubble,” warns Swiss adviser and fund manager Marc Faber. “It could burst any day.” 

Read Latest Breaking News from Newsmax.com http://www.moneynews.com/MKTNewsIntl/Stock-market-recession-alert/2014/02/10/id/551985#ixzz32HUjruRV

The New 1% isn’t just the Rich, it is the Spoiled Oligarch Heirs (Krugman)

Economist Paul Krugman explains how the United States is becoming an oligarchy – the very system our founders revolted against.

Bill Moyers interviews Paul Krugman

” Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, a 42-year-old who teaches at the Paris School of Economics, shows that two-thirds of America’s increase in income inequality over the past four decades is the result of steep raises given to the country’s highest earners.

This week, Bill talks with Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, about Piketty’s “magnificent” new book.

“What Piketty’s really done now is he said, ‘Even those of you who talk about the 1 percent, you don’t really get what’s going on.’ He’s telling us that we are on the road not just to a highly unequal society, but to a society of an oligarchy. A society of inherited wealth.”

Krugman adds: “We’re seeing inequalities that will be transferred across generations. We are becoming very much the kind of society we imagined we’re nothing like.” ”

Courtesy: http://www.juancole.com/2014/04/spoiled-oligarch-krugman.html

Bill Gates: People Don’t Realize How Many Jobs Will Soon Be Replaced By Software Bots

Big changes are coming to the labor market that people and governments aren’t prepared for, Bill Gates believes.

Speaking at Washington, D.C., economic think tank The American Enterprise Institute on Thursday, Gates said that within 20 years, a lot of jobs will go away, replaced by software automation (“bots” in tech slang, though Gates used the term “software substitution”).

This is what he said:

“Software substitution, whether it’s for drivers or waiters or nurses … it’s progressing. …  Technology over time will reduce demand for jobs, particularly at the lower end of skill set. …  20 years from now, labor demand for lots of skill sets will be substantially lower. I don’t think people have that in their mental model.”

He’s not the only one predicting this gloomy scenario for workers. In January, the Economist ran a big profile naming over a dozen jobs sure to be taken over by robots in the next 20 years, including telemarketers, accountants and retail workers.

Gates believes that the tax codes are going to need to change to encourage companies to hire employees, including, perhaps, eliminating income and payroll taxes altogether. He’s also not a fan of raising the minimum wage, fearing that it will discourage employers from hiring workers in the very categories of jobs that are most threatened by automation.