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Finance and the Economy

Newsflash: Inequality In Neoliberal America

If anyone is perplexed or surprised  why Americans are so upset about the economy, they should look no further than the Income Distribution and Dynamics in America (IDDA) recent report by the Federal Reserve Board of  Minneapolis and its data site that looks at the stagnation of American income and economic mobility in America.  It unfortunately confirms what we already know—the neoliberal state benefits unevenly and in ways that confound an ability to challenge it.. America is built upon two myths, the myth of equality and the myth of the American dream. The myth of equality is the idea that we all have an equal opportunity to succeed. 

Is India’s Economy Truly Thriving? Or Is It Exaggerating Its Growth?

As many of you will know, general elections are currently underway in India, elections which the ruling BJP and the Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi, are expected to win easily. Victory would give Modi a third term in government, a feat previously accomplished only by the country’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru. Sections of the Western media and most of the Indian media are poised to attribute any such victory to Modi’s economic management, which has allegedly made the Indian economy boom as never before. However, as the elections proceed, this near-certain victory is receding into the distance, and a very different reality is coming into view. With us to discuss this is a most distinguished guest, Professor C.P. Chandrasekhar.

Tackling California’s Budget Crisis: Taxes, Cuts, Or Form A Public Bank?

In 2022, the state of California celebrated a record budget surplus of $97.5 billion. Two years later, according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office, this surplus has plummeted to a record budget deficit of $73 billion. Balancing the budget will be challenging. Unlike the federal government, the state cannot just drive up debt and roll it over year after year. The California Balanced Budget Act, passed in 2004, requires the state legislature to pass a balanced budget every year. The usual solutions are to cut programs or raise taxes, but both approaches are facing an uphill battle. Raising taxes would require a two-thirds vote of the legislature, which would be very challenging, and worthy public programs are in danger of getting axed, including homelessness prevention and funding for low-income housing.

The Land And Sea Blockade Against Israel Is Working

Israel’s aspirations to become the region’s transportation hub have taken a hit. The maritime and land blockade against Israel to stop the genocide in Gaza is working, as one of Israel’s main plans for a prospective “land bridge” connecting the Gulf countries with Israel and Europe has suffered an irrevocable setback.  The Israel-centered India Middle East Europe Economic Corridors project (IMEC), which was first proposed by U.S. President Biden in September of last year during the G20 meetings, is facing an existential threat.

Industrial Policy Is A Good Idea, But So Far We Don’t Have One

In a remarkable and comprehensive book, forthcoming from Cambridge, Marc Fasteau and Ian Fletcher provide a theoretical, historical, and up-to-date review of industrial policies, in the United States and elsewhere, as well as a decent summary of the main Biden initiatives: the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Inflation Reduction Act, and the CHIPS Act, as of late 2023. Their goal is to justify, defend, and extend the case for industrial policies, which they do with admirably fair attention to unsuccessful past cases. Mine in this essay is narrower: mainly to describe the specific goals of President Biden’s programs.

Vacant Storefronts Are Killing Our Downtowns

One of the long-term effects of the Covid-19 pandemic is the way it has transformed office use, threatening the viability of storefront retail in downtown office buildings. Owners of such commercial properties are now often exploring converting vacant retail space into restaurants and other experiential venues. But the range of alternative options needs to be expanded – and small-scale manufacturing offers a proven, yet often overlooked, solution. The need for alternative options is apparent from the scale of the problem. In the last quarter of 2023, the national office vacancy rate hit a record-breaking 19.6%, per Moody’s Analytics.

Last Year, You Spent Over A Month’s Rent On Pentagon Contractors

Ever wonder where your taxes go? Each year, the Institute for Policy Studies releases a tax receipt so you can find out. One item always stands out: the Pentagon — and the contractors who profit off it. In 2023, the average taxpayer spent $2,974 on the Pentagon. Of that, just $705 went to salaries for the troops, who often have to rely on programs like food stamps. A much larger sum — $1,748 — went to corporate Pentagon contractors. That’s more than the average American’s monthly rent, $1,372. From Lockheed Martin to SpaceX, these corporations don’t need your support. And they aren’t operating with your well-being in mind.

Bidenomics And Its Discontents

Unemployment is low. Inflation has fallen. Real earnings are rising. GDP growth has held up—so far. The economists are happy, but for some reason the voters are not! It must be their own ignorance and obtuseness—so says Paul Krugman, house economist of The New York Times. The other possibility—however horrible to contemplate—is that perhaps the voters are sensible and the economists are obtuse. And perhaps the indicators on which economists rely no longer mean what economists suppose them to mean. Take the unemployment rate. It is a ratio of those seeking work to the whole active labor force.

The Dali Disaster Is What Profit-Driven Economics Looks Like

On March 26, the day after the commemoration of the 113th anniversary of the Triangle factory fire that killed 146 mostly female immigrant garment workers in lower Manhattan — a crew of a half-dozen immigrant men in a non-union paving crew fell 185 feet to their deaths from Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key bridge after it was rammed by the Dali, a rudderless massive cargo ship that was trying to leave the port without a tug escort. Police were able to close the bridge to traffic just before the catastrophic collision took place after the powerless and adrift Singaporean-flagged Dali got out a mayday call at 1:30 a.m. on Tuesday.

The Supreme Court May Give Us Another 2008 Financial Crisis

The United States Supreme Court will soon decide a case that could decimate consumer protections against abusive banking practices — potentially allowing banks to disregard state laws meant to prevent the kind of predatory lending that led to the 2008 financial crisis. Legal experts say that the case, Cantero v. Bank of America, could invalidate a host of state laws that protect people from predatory lending, junk fees, and other financial scams. The case is ostensibly about a New York statute that forces banks to pay interest to consumers on certain mortgage accounts — but big banks are fighting for the court to rule they are exempt from that law and many others in states across America.

The Truth About China’s Economy: Debunking Western Media Myths

China’s breakneck growth has not only aroused envy in the West, but also prompted the proliferation of doomsday predictions about China’s economy. We are told that we are at “peak China”, that China can only go downhill from here, that China’s property bubble is about to burst and throw China into a morass of Japanification and secular stagnation, that China has been stealing technology all these years, and the stolen technology has been powering the growth. And now that President Biden is going to make it impossible for them to do so, that China will stop growing, that China has a serious unemployment crisis, that President Xi’s authoritarian leadership is stifling growth by stifling innovation and entrepreneurship.

It’s Not Apathy; You’re Not Listening

One of the popular narratives that was disseminated in mainstream America media to explain Hilary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign loss to Donald Trump was post-Obama voter apathy in the African American community.  According to the Washington Post, “In 2016, a seven-point drop in black voter turnout was perceived to have cost Clinton the election. Political commentators often cite black voters’ “enthusiasm gap” as the primary reason for low turnout. This short-sighted perspective fails to consider that Mrs. Clinton ran a terrible campaign.  She took the African American vote for granted and failed to craft a message that spoke to the needs and interests of the Community.

Joe Biden’s Parting Gift To America Will Be Christian Fascism

Joe Biden and the Democratic Party made a Trump presidency possible once and look set to make it possible again. If Trump returns to power, it will not be due to Russian interference, voter suppression or because the working class is filled with irredeemable bigots and racists. It will be because the Democrats are as indifferent to the suffering of Palestinians in Gaza as they are to immigrants, the poor in our impoverished inner cities, those driven into bankruptcy by medical bills, credit card debt and usurious mortgages, those discarded, especially in rural America, by waves of mass layoffs and workers, trapped in the serfdom of the gig economy, with its job instability and suppressed wages.

Corporations That Pay Their Executives More Than Uncle Sam

Corporate tax dodging and CEO pay have both gotten so far out of control that a significant number of major U.S. companies are paying their top executives more than they’re paying Uncle Sam. Tesla is perhaps the most dramatic example. Over the period 2018-2022, the electric car maker raked in $4.4 billion in profits but paid no federal income taxes. Meanwhile, Tesla CEO Elon Musk became one of the world’s richest men. When it comes to fleecing taxpayers while overpaying executives, Tesla is hardly alone. A new report we co-authored for the Institute for Policy Studies and Americans for Tax Fairness analyzes executive pay data for some of the country’s most notorious corporate tax dodgers.

China’s Future: Economic Decline Or The Next Industrial Revolution?

China’s economy is what we’re going to talk about today. Where is it at after decades of breakneck growth, after executing the greatest industrial revolution ever? Where is it headed? Trying to understand this is not easy. The disinformation that is fake news and even what I often call fake scholarship that distorts the view that any honest person may be trying to take on China’s economy is simply overwhelming. It’s absolutely wall-to-wall propaganda, no matter which Western publication or website you open.
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