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 David Roberts for Grist. Environmentalists these days love speaking in the language of economics — it makes them sound Serious — but I worry that wrapping this notion in a bloodless technical term tends to have a narcotizing effect. It brings to mind incrementalism: boost a few taxes here, tighten a regulation there, and the industrial juggernaut can keep right on chugging. However, if we take the idea seriously, not just as an accounting phenomenon but as a deep description of current human practices, its implications are positively revolutionary. To see what I mean, check out a recent report [PDF] done by environmental consultancy Trucost on behalf of The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) program sponsored by United Nations Environmental Program. TEEB asked Trucost to tally up the total “unpriced natural capital” consumed by the world’s top industrial sectors.
By J. Gabriel Ware for Yes! Magzine. Autre Murray, 24, never planned to go to college. He thought he couldn’t afford it—even with student loans. Besides, he wasn’t thrilled with the prospect of ending up in “debt up to the neck.” Instead, Murray planned to earn a high school diploma and find a job doing manual labor, maybe somewhere like a factory. He told himself he didn’t need a college education to become successful. But now he’s on his way to obtaining a bachelor’s degree, as are other members of his Kalamazoo, Michigan, hometown. That’s thanks to the Kalamazoo Promise, a scholarship program first announced at a board meeting of Kalamazoo Public Schools in November 2005. The nonprofit of the same name provides scholarships that cover 65 to 100 percent of college tuition and fees for all graduates of Kalamazoo Public Schools who meet certain criteria.
By Joseph E. Stiglitz and Martin Guzman for Project Syndicate. SAN JUAN – Puerto Rico’s deep and prolonged recession has led to a severe debt crisis. And the combination of economic contraction and massive liabilities is having dire consequences for the island. Everywhere in the United States commonwealth, private-sector jobs are being lost. Total employment in Puerto Rico has fallen from 1.25 million in the last quarter of the 2007 fiscal year workers to less than a million almost a decade later. Without employment, large numbers of Puerto Ricans (who are US citizens) have emigrated. But, despite this flight, the unemployment rate is now 12.4%. Without job prospects, the labor participation rate has plummeted to 40%, two-thirds of the level on the US mainland. About 60% of Puerto Rico’s children live in poverty.
By David Bollier. What is “value” and how shall we protect it? It’s a simple question for which we don’t have a satisfactory answer. For conventional economists and politicians, the answer is simple: value is essentially the same as price. Value results when private property and “free markets” condense countless individual preferences and purchases into a single, neutral representation of value: price. That is seen as the equivalent of “wealth.” This theory of value has always been flawed, both theoretically and empirically, because it obviously ignores many types of “value” that cannot be given a price. No matter, it “works,” and so this theory of value generally prevails in political and policy debates. Economic growth (measured as Gross Domestic Product) and value are seen as the same.
By Pam Martens and Russ Martens for The Public Banking Institute – The biggest banks on Wall Street, both foreign and domestic, have been repeatedly charged with rigging and colluding in markets from New York to London to Japan. Thus, it is natural to ask, have the big banks formed a cartel to rig the prices of their own stocks? And, are these dark pools behind the run-up in bank stock prices? This time last year, Wall Street banks were in a slow, endless bleed. The Federal Reserve had raised interest rates for the first time since the 2008 financial crisis on December 16, 2015 with strong hints that more rate hikes would be coming in 2016. Bank stocks never do well in a rising interest rate environment because their dividend yield has to compete with rising yields on bonds. Money gravitates out of dividend paying stocks into bonds and/or into hard assets like real estate based on the view that it will appreciate from inflationary forces. This is classic market thinking 101.
By Staff for New American Economy. New American Economy (NAE) released Map the Impact, an interactive showcasing the contributions of immigrants in all 435 Congressional districts, the 55 largest U.S. metro areas, all 50 states, and industry sectors across the economy. With information on immigrant tax contributions, spending power, entrepreneurship, workforce, home ownership, demographics, voting power, and more, Map the Impact shows that the foreign-born are helping to grow the economy everywhere. Map the Impact also features hundreds of stories and videos featuring local leaders in all corners of the country talking about why immigration matters to them. Today, business, mayoral, conservative, and cultural leaders are sharing the data and calling on Congress to pass immigration reform via 141 events and actions.
By John Boik for Local Futures – It’s not often that a scientist gets to use the words love, creativity, and wisdom in a paper, especially when writing about economics. Perhaps that’s because economics, the dismal science, is obsessed with dismal systems – make that abysmalsystems, relative to need. To be clear, I’m not speaking of the specific policies of the US, the EU, China, the World Bank or others. I’m speaking of dominant economic systems as wholes – especially their underlying conceptual models (macro and micro) and the worldviews upon which they are based. A human has only so many minutes in life. Time is the bedrock scarcity. If a person isn’t doing something meaningful in a given moment, he’s doing something less than meaningful. He’s wasting at least some of his potential. By meaningful, I don’t mean productive, in an economic sense. I mean important to the person, to her own wellbeing. The Chilean economist Manfred Max-Neef identifies nine categories of human need…
By Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese for Moving Beyond Capitalism. We’ve reached a tipping point in awareness of the effects of the current global economy that has erupted in a worldwide revolt as we can see in the Occupy, Arab Spring, Idle No More and Indignado movements. People are searching for alternative ways of structuring the economy and society that are empowering and more just and sustainable. Part of this work includes understanding and building the “commons,” which is the opposite of the predatory market economy. As we will describe below, concentrated wealth is derived by taking from the commons for personal gain in an undemocratic way. We can reverse the current trend toward privatization and wealth inequality by claiming the commons and using it for mutual prosperity. The commons cannot exist without a participatory governance structure. Therefore, building the commons is a fundamental step toward real democracy.
By Maurice Goldman for The Hill – As U.S. citizens why should we care about the deportation of Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos? Guadalupe was the focus of a highly publicized deportation that took place in Phoenix a little over a week ago. Many have heard the humanitarian reasons why someone like Guadalupe should remain: Coming to the U.S. as a minor; living in the U.S. for 21 years; two U.S. citizen children; and her crime was that she wanted to work and make a better life for herself and her family. Several have asked me, “Why didn’t she fix her immigration status?” Realize that most undocumented immigrants cannot simply fix their status and most face a 10-year-bar if they leave the U.S. to try and get lawful permission to re-enter. It’s a disincentive to leave the country. Our immigration laws make no sense.
By Lee Camp for Redacted Tonight. During a CNN Town Hall, Democratic House Rep Nancy Pelosi was caught off guard when a young man told her that more than half of Millennials aren’t exactly fans of capitalism. He had the stats to back it up: A Spring 2016 Harvard Institute of Politics poll of 3,000 Millennials found that 51 percent of them held this view. It’s no surprise this many Millennials shun capitalism given their massive student loan debts and difficulty in finding high paying jobs and affordable housing, among other struggles. But when he asked her if Dems could go farther left of right-wing views on capitalism, Pelosi’s reply only proves that her party needs to acknowledge how capitalism is destroying the world and its future if they want any hope of appealing to what could become one of the largest voting blocs in America. Lee Camp digs into Pelosi’s faux pas and more on the latest episode of Redacted Tonight.
By Staff of ABC – New figures put North America’s legal marijuana “green rush” above the dot-com boom of the early 2000s in terms of industry growth, according to Forbes. North America’s legal marijuana market posted $US9.3 billion ($12 billion) in revenue in 2016 — a 30 per cent increase on 2015 — according to a report by ArcView Market Research, a leading cannabis research publisher. The report said the industry could post sales topping $US20.2 billion ($27.9 billion) by 2021, assuming a compound annual growth rate of 25 per cent. The magazine reported GDP grew at 22 per cent during the dot-com boom, which saw dial-up internet replaced by broadband.
By Arnie Saiki for Imipono. As we move out of 2016, let us at least acknowledge that we have become estranged from the roots of democracy. Perhaps 2017 will reveal that our participation in social media and our willingness to provide streams of data driven information to the corporate plutocracy inhabits a different space in the world with people who are on the outside. Even if social media has been a tremendous tool for digging deeper and casting wider nets, it is not a replacement for our democratic institutions or practices. For as long as the U.S has capitalized from being an anti-communist, then unipolar hegemon, we’ve never been able to really live up to the fulfillment of equitable and democratic institutions. Now, much of the world seems to be moving in that direction, whereas the largest of the advanced economies seem to be moving in the opposite: towards greater nationalism, xenophobia and isolationism. How we reflect upon 2016 and what we carry into 2017 can make all the difference in the world.
By Staff of Tele Sur – The Venezuelan government announced it has proof the U.S. Treasury Department has been responsible for delaying the arrival of the new notes. Venezuelan officials announced Sunday the arrival of 13.5 million units of the new 500-bolivar bill, which the government has introduced as a way to combat the “financial mafias” wreaking havoc on the country’s economy. Jose Khan, vice president of the Central Bank of Venezuela, said that a plane had arrived at the Maiquetía (Simón Bolívar Internacional) Airport on Sunday from Sweden with 272 boxes of currency. He added that more than 60 million bills are set to arrive by Dec. 27.