By Robinson Meyer for The Atlantic – It’s less obvious than it may seem. The global industry is a $65-billion business, and the United States has been involved in it from the beginning. NASA first improved and perfected panels for early satellite and Apollo missions. American firms have been manufacturing and selling solar panels for 40 years. Yet North American firms produce only about 3 percent of the world’s solar panels. China and Taiwan, meanwhile, make more than 60 percent of them. Labor in East Asia is often cheaper than it is in the United States, but that’s not the only factor. Consider the global semiconductor industry. Both computer chips and solar panels emerged from the Cold War research-and-development boom. Both were commercialized before 1980, as American-invented products sold by American-owned firms. And both markets were essentially controlled by the United States before the rise of Asian firms in the mid-1980s and ’90s. But chips, which first went to market a decade earlier than solar panels, did not suffer the same catastrophe that solar panels did. Today, the United States still leads the computer-chip industry, holding more than half of global market share for 20 years.
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 Staff of Public Banking Institute – Alarmed by the corruption and greed of Wall Street, many US cities and states are studying the feasibility of establishing public banks. Public banks are owned by cities, states or other jurisdictions and serve to keep funds local instead of being deposited on Wall Street. The funds are then used to support local economic activities like small business loans and student loans. Washington State has already cut its ties with Wells Fargo because they funded DAPL. Now they want to get rid of Wall Street as a place to park their money making use of the local economy and profiting the people of Washington instead of the bankers of Wall Street.
By Justin Sink, Elizabeth Dexheimer, and Katherine Chiglinsky for Bloomberg – President Donald Trump will order a sweeping review of the Dodd-Frank Act rules enacted in response to the 2008 financial crisis, a White House official said, signing an executive action Friday designed to significantly scale back the regulatory system put in place in 2010. Trump also will halt another of former President Barack Obama’s regulations, hated by the financial industry, that requires advisers on retirement accounts to work in the best interests of their clients. Trump’s order will give the new administration time to review the change, known as the fiduciary rule.
By Paul Keenlyside for the Sierra Club. What connects two proposed gold mines, one in the high-altitude wetlands of Colombia and one in the Carpathian Mountains of Romania? Both mines would require huge quantities of cyanide and threaten watersheds used by millions of people for drinking water. One would damage a unique, legally protected ecosystem and the other would destroy an ancient, UNESCO-nominated settlement. Both have been opposed by scientific bodies, protested by tens of thousands of people, and restricted by domestic courts. And in both cases, the Canadian mining corporations behind the projects (Eco Oro in Colombia and Gabriel Resources in Romania) have responded to the mining denials by using trade and investment deals to sue the governments in private tribunals.
By Max Abelson for Bloomberg – Hedge fund manager Whitney Tilson was feeling happy Wednesday morning. After Donald Trump ridiculed Wall Street on the campaign trail, the President-elect tapped former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. executive Steven Mnuchin to be his Treasury secretary and billionaire investor Wilbur Ross to lead the Commerce Department. Trump even met with Goldman Sachs President Gary Cohn inside Trump Tower. It would suit Tilson just fine if voters who backed Trump because he promised to rein in Wall Street are furious now that he’s surrounding himself with bankers and billionaires.
By Bernie Sanders for Medium – Our infrastructure is collapsing, and the American people know it. Every day, they drive on roads with unforgiving potholes and over bridges that are in disrepair. They wait in traffic jams and ride in overcrowded subways. They see airports bursting at the seams. They see the need for a modern rail system. They worry that a local levee or dam could fail in a storm. During the presidential campaign, Donald Trump correctly talked about rebuilding our country’s infrastructure.
By Jim Lardner for Inequality.org – Wall Street will set still another record for political spending this election cycle. So far in 2015 and 2016, banks and financial interests have put more than $1.4 billion into efforts to elect and influence holders of national political office, according to Wall Street Money in Washington, a new report by Americans for Financial Reform based on data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.
BY David Sirota, Avi Asher-Schapiro And Andrew Perez for IBT – When Massachusetts public school teachers pay into their pension fund each month, they may not realize where the money goes. Wall Street titans are using some of the profits from managing that money to finance an education ballot initiative that many teachers say will harm traditional public schools. An International Business Times/MapLight investigation has found that executives at eight financial firms with contracts to manage Massachusetts state pension assets have bypassed anti-corruption rules and funneled at least $778,000 to groups backing Question 2, which would expand the number of charter schools in the state.
By Zach Cartwright for U.S. Uncut – Your community’s tax dollars are getting quietly pilfered by Wall Street banks, and the banks are doing an excellent job of keeping the how away from you. The amount of public money spent on just bank fees and interest every year numbers anywhere from the hundreds of billions to the tens of trillions. The exact amount is available through Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports
By Pam Martens and Russ Martens for Walls Street On Parade – Yesterday we published our 1,007th article here at Wall Street On Parade on the insidiously corrupt financial system in the United States known as Wall Street. It’s a system that now operates as an institutionalized wealth transfer mechanism that is hollowing out the middle class, leaving one of every five children in our nation living in poverty, while funneling the plunder to the top one-tenth of one percent. Tens of millions of Americans clearly understand that an entrenched system of corruption such as this, perpetuated through a revolving door between Wall Street and Washington
By Josh Bivens and Hunter Blair for EPI – What this report finds: A well-designed financial transaction tax (FTT)—a small levy placed on the sale of stocks, bonds, derivatives, and other investments—would be an efficient and progressive way to generate tax revenues. Gross revenues from a well-designed FTT would likely range from $110 billion to $403 billion. And net revenues (including offsets from reduced income, payroll and capital gains taxes, and increased borrowing costs) would likely be substantially higher than some other recent estimates indicate.
By Mnar Muhawesh for Mint Press News – MINNEAPOLIS — An education crisis largely orchestrated by neoconservatives in both the Republican and Democratic Parties, has left some of the country’s oldest and most prestigious public universities struggling under deep cuts and severe budget shortfalls. Although these cuts are driven mostly by conservative think tanks, the changing face of education isn’t just about austerity.
By Kathy Kiely for Moyers and Company – Foreign corporations could sue to undermine US protections for consumers’ health, safety and financial security under a provision added to the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal (TPP) after executives of big banks pressed the nation’s chief trade negotiator, himself a former big-bank executive, to include it. A series of emails, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act and released last week byRootstrikers, an organization that opposes the trade deal now pending before Congress…
By Sarah Anderson for Other Worlds – In case there was any doubt, the presidential election fight has confirmed that blasting Wall Street, even eight years after the financial crisis, is still a vote-getter. Hillary Clinton has said she’d like to jail more bankers. Donald Trump has skewered the hedge fund managers who are “getting away with murder.” And Bernie Sanders has made Wall Street accountability a centerpiece of his campaign.