By Alyssa Aquino for Other Words - Collectively, America’s student borrowers owe $1.7 trillion. On average, each graduating senior this year is beginning their life around $37,000 in the hole. That looks like a lot, but when you’re living with student debt, you look at that number and don’t even flinch. The debt is so normal it’s like an inside joke for pretty much everyone in my generation. Except we’re the punch line. I graduated class of 2015 from a private, liberal arts college — a “most selective” one, U.S. News and World Report assures me. It was also an expensive degree, Sallie Mae reminds me. Monthly. Yes, I chose to go to a private, expensive college. There was a calculus there, and one part of it was “I liked the feeling of it.” I know, this type of sentimental idealism is a privilege. It’s no surprise I came out with the equally sentimental notion that I wanted to do non-profit work — which makes it that much harder to pay those loan bills. It’s baffling to my Filipino parents. They didn’t cross the ocean and consign themselves to discrimination and demeaning jobs because they liked the “feel of it” — or even on the promise that their lives would be better. They did it on the promise that my life would be better. And that I wouldn’t owe anyone anything.
By Steve Rushton for Occupy - Michael Blesa, the president of Caja Madrid bank from 1996 to 2010, was sentenced to six years. Rato took over as President of Caja Madrid in 2010. The bank then merged with six other banks to form Bankia. In the sentencing in late February, Rato was found to have replicated the "corrupt system" established by Blesa. The politicians and banking executives are appealing the decision. The case indicts both the Spanish and international political financial systems. Rato was Spain’s Economy Minister between 1996 and 2004, working for Partido Popular, the same political party that orchestrated the bailout. He was later the Managing Director of the IMF, from 2004 to 2007, another body essential in coordinating the bank bailouts. He undertook these roles before spinning back through the revolving door into Spain's banking industry.
By Michael Hudson for Counter Punch - The Next System Project’s Adam Simpson sat down with renowned economist and economic historian Michael Hudson to discuss economic deceptions old and new in the interview below. Michael Hudson is Distinguished Research Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri, Kansas City and a prolific writer about the global economy and predatory financial practices. Among his latest books are Killing the Host: How Financial Parasites and Debt Bondage to Ensure the Global Economy and its follow-up J is for Junk Economics. The transcript below has been edited for clarity.
By Lynn Parramore for Institute for New Economic Thinking - Does the question of morality have a place in the realm of banking and regulation? That it feels awkward to even raise the issue is convenient for bankers who engage in reckless and harmful activities every day without fear of punishment. Ed Kane, Professor of Finance at Boston College, believes it’s vital to discuss moral questions, in plain English, without abstractions.
By Steve Rushton for Occupy - Elites regularly profit with impunity from financial corruption. This is clearly demonstrated by the numerous billion-dollar financial scandals in recent years, including LIBOR rate fixing, tax evasion, commodity price fixing and financial mis-selling schemes. The political power of finance and its revolving door into government makes many bankers seem above the law. But this immunity is not unbreakable, as demonstrated by the wave of Spanish citizens now leading an anti-corruption charge unlike any that has come before.
By Staff of James Petras Website - The IMF is the leading international monetary agency whose public purpose is to maintain the stability of the global financial system through loans linked to proposals designed to enhance economic recovery and growth. In fact, the IMF has been under the control of the US and Western European states and its policies have been designed to further the expansion, domination and profits of their leading multi-national corporations and financial institutions.
By Alice Ollstein for Think Progress - Now, new data shows powerful hedge funds are profiting off of struggling families in Baltimore by buying up debts as small as $250, charging high interest rates, and taking their homes when they fail to pay. A report just released by the research and advocacy group HedgeClippers documents how the Wall Street hedge fund Fortress Investment Group and the Los Angeles-based Imperial Capital bought up hundreds of these small liens this year — on everything from an unpaid water bills to delinquent property taxes — and could take property worth tens of millions of dollars if the families can’t pay. Once the hedge funds buy up these small debts, they reap an 18 percent interest, according to the Baltimore-based research group The Abell Foundation.
By Helena Smith and Emma Graham-Harrison in Athens, Ben Quinn, Heather Stewart and Graeme Wearden for the Guardian - Five years into the worst crisis to hit their country in decades, Greek MPs voted by a large majority in the early hours of Thursday morning to accept draconian austerity as the price of further bailout funds but at great personal cost to prime minister Alexis Tsipras. In a vote that saw tensions soar in and outside parliament, the embattled leader’s radical leftist Syriza party suffered huge losses as 40 MPs revolted against the measures. A total of 229 lawmakers voted in favour of the internationally mandated measures, 64 against and six abstained.
By Seumas Milne for the Guardian. The worst outcome of this crisis would be for Syriza to implement the austerity it was elected to end. A yes vote in next weekend’s referendum, if it goes ahead, would probably lead to the government’s fall, and almost certainly new elections. But even a no vote, which would offer the best chance for Greece, would need to be followed by more radical measures if the government was going to strengthen its negotiating hand or prepare the ground for euro exit. The real risk across Europe is that if Syriza caves in or collapses, that failure will be used to turn back the rising tide of support for anti-austerity movements such as Podemos in Spain, or Sinn Féin in Ireland, leaving the field to populists of the right. Either way, any Greek euro deal that fails to write off unrepayable debt or end the austerity squeeze will only postpone the crisis.
Several thousand people marched from Cobo Hall to Detroit's Hart Plaza on July 18, decrying the destruction of democracy in Detroit. The rally, organized in part by theMoratorium Now! Coalition to Stop Foreclosures, Evictions and Utility Shutoffs, took place after a week of actions against the disconnection of water service to households unable to pay their bills. People previously blockaded to keep Homrich, a private contractor employed by the city, from shutting off people's water on July 10. Another blockade took place the day of the rally, lasting six hours before police arrested a pastor, a veteran journalist in her 70s, welfare rights organizers and others. . . . Acts of resistance and the creation of forward-looking alternatives are in their embryonic stages, and the various forms both take have implications for what democracy will mean in Detroit and elsewhere in the future. "So we have to restore democracy in order for us to be in a position where we can really control our own destiny," she said.
AN insidious trend has developed over this past third of a century. A country that experienced shared growth after World War II began to tear apart, so much so that when the Great Recession hit in late 2007, one could no longer ignore the fissures that had come to define the American economic landscape. How did this “shining city on a hill” become the advanced country with the greatest level of inequality? One stream of the extraordinary discussion set in motion by Thomas Piketty’s timely, important book, “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” has settled on the idea that violent extremes of wealth and income are inherent to capitalism. In this scheme, we should view the decades after World War II — a period of rapidly falling inequality — as an aberration. This is actually a superficial reading of Mr. Piketty’s work, which provides an institutional context for understanding the deepening of inequality over time. Unfortunately, that part of his analysis received somewhat less attention than the more fatalistic-seeming aspects.
A former banker visits the only member of Occupy Wall Street to receive a prison sentence: it sounds like the set-up of a joke or a parable of the modern age. Instead, it was a real scene last Thursday, when I went to see jailed OWS activist Cecily McMillan at Rikers Island. That the opposite would never have happened was not lost on Cecily or me: bankers don't get sent to jail, and, when they rarely do, they certainly don't get sent to Rikers. Rikers is New York City's largest jail, housing a population that is overwhelmingly poor – mostly people who can't post bail, which in some cases is as low as $50. It has become a short-term holding facility for those who can't muster $2,000 in a pinch, or who don't have the 10% of bail to lose to a bondsman. Since her 19 May sentencing for an assault on an officer, Cecily McMillan has lived in a barracks-like room with close to a hundred other women. Cecily herself is a banker-like rarity in Rikers: she has resources, both from the media obsession with her case and the OWS movement that she has come to partly symbolize.