Economy

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The Tombstone Blues James Howard Kunstler The latest version of Pretend - going on a couple of weeks now - is the nation whistling past the graveyard of mortgage documentation fraud while skeletons dance around everything connected with the money system. Halloween came early this year. The USA is getting to look like one big Masque of the Red Death, so I suppose it's convenient that our pop culture has been saturated with vampires, zombies, and werewolves for a decade, coincident with the self-cannibalizing of our economy. Something in the zeitgeist told us to get with the program of a twilight existence. We're well-schooled now in the ways of the undead, operating under cover of darkness, going for the neck at every opportunity, even eating our young - if you consider the debt orgy, both private and public, as a way to party like it's 1999 by consuming your childrens' future.
IMF Considers Replacing the Dollar as Key Currency Telepolis Introduction of a World Currency Could Follow Attacks on the Dollar Ralf Streck The attacks of the BRIC-states on the US dollar have left behind traces. Almost unnoticed, the IMF in a study pondered replacing the dollar as key currency with a currency still to be created. The “Bancor” once proposed by John Maynard Keynes as a world currency is discussed. The reasons go beyond the Chinese and Russian proposals [1] to replace the dollar with special drawing rights of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The considerations go along with the growing influence of China whose voting rights in the IMF have increased. China has moved up to second place to Japan.
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Neoliberalism is destroying Europe Christian Marazzi The Guardian The European sovereign debt crisis, which was caused by member states' public debt but increased because of the actions taken to rescue the banks after the 2008 crisis, demonstrates at least three things. First, that currency does not exist without a state. Second, that capitalism cannot be managed by the market alone. And third, that the austerity measures will not bring Europe out of the crisis but will in fact continue to make it worse – until the euro crashes. However, the most important point to emerge from the crisis is that Europe's political reinvention will depend exclusively on the social struggle against neoliberal politics. Neoliberalism, the absurd idea of economic government based solely on the market and its ability to self-regulate, is at the root of the great illusion of a leaderless Europe supposedly unified by a euro that has controlled the internal economic and social differences according to the logic of the financial markets. And yet, neoliberalism is still the only language used by European politicians to confront the crisis and to face the social conflicts that will break out over the next few months. There exists no European government; only management of austerity measures and of repression.
Attention & Zones of Human Resistance: Interview with Franco ‘Bifo’ Berardi @ Autonomedia March 30th, 2009 With Malav Kanuga, Stevphen Shukaitis, and Jim Fleming You are suggesting that there is a reversal between the US and Europe. Bifo: Until six months ago, maybe three months ago, you could get the impression that Europe was where movements had a grasp on the institutional level and that the US was in very bad shape. Now all of a sudden it’s the exact opposite. I don’t know what is going to happen in the US but I feel that here – I mean I don’t know what is going to happen between in the relationship the state and US capitalism – but here I feel the ground is ready for a proliferation of social experiments, of cultural initiatives and so on. Europe, on the contrary seems to be eaten by a proliferation of fascist feelings. The economic crisis is probably worse here in the US than in Europe. But the difference is that in Europe we don’t have a federal budget. So what? So the different states are saying very bad things about protectionism but of course everybody is following a protectionist policy. You see Sarkozy against the Czechs, you see Angela Merkel in Germany saying we will not rescue the Lithuanian banks. You see Italy, Spain and Greece sinking more and more into a difficult situation and Germany and France pretending not to see. You see that everybody is going his own way. This could mean in the near future a real squandry of the European Union. The movements are charged with the political task of defending and protecting the cultural meaning of the Union. This could become interesting. The EU has been so far an economic alliance between banks. All of a sudden it could become the object of a social action. But at the same time the protectionists are producing very bad feelings in the population. Like fascism growing in Italy. The same can be said of Lithuania, Estonia, and the Baltic states. In France I have witnessed a very dangerous trend which is the militarization of the banlieues. Militarization in what sense? On one side police and on the other groups of young people using guns against the police. I mean the general trend of the EU landscape seems to be towards an aggressive and right wing radicalization. Of course things can change. But in general this is the trend.
From Marx to Goldman Sachs: The Fictions of Fictitious Capital Michael Hudson [As published in Critique, based on a presentation given at the China Academy of Sciences, School of Marxist Studies in Beijing in November 2009, and at the Left Forum in New York City, March 20, 2010.] Classical economists developed the labor theory of value to isolate economic rent, which they defined as the excess of market price and income over the socially necessary cost of production (value ultimately reducible to the cost of labor). A free market was one free of such “unearned” income – a market in which prices reflected actual necessary costs of production or, in the case of public services and basic infrastructure, would be subsidized in order to make economies more competitive. Most reformers accordingly urged – and expected – land, monopolies and banking privileges to be nationalized, or at least to have their free-lunch income taxed away.
The “New Normal”: More than One in Five Americans at Risk of Destitution Barry Grey More than one in five Americans in 2009 suffered a household income loss of 25 percent or more over the previous year, according to a new report sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation and entitled “Economic Security at Risk.” The report documents a steady increase in economic insecurity since the 1960s, and concludes that annual income losses of 25 percent or greater increased by 49.9 percent between 1985 and 2009. “Putting this tend in terms of population,” the report states, “approximately 46 million Americans were counted as insecure in 2007, up from 28 million in 1985.” The head of the research team that prepared the report, Yale University Professor Jacob Hacker, told an interviewer, “What we’re seeing, basically, is what we’re calling ‘the new normal.’ We’re slowly ratcheting up this level of economic insecurity.”
Great Decoupling of Corporate Profits from Jobs Robert Reich Second-quarter earnings reports are coming in, and they're making Wall Street smile. Corporate profits are up. And big American companies are sitting on a gigantic pile of money. The 500 largest non-financial firms held almost a trillion dollars in the second quarter, and that money pile is growing larger this quarter. Profits that plummeted in the recession have bounced back. Big businesses have recovered almost 90 percent of what they lost. So with all this money and profit, they'll start hiring again, right? Wrong - for three reasons.

Spacebank, Microfunding and Alternative Currencies
Fran Ilich interviewed by Artistic Bokeh in Vienna, Austria

A video recording of an interview with Fran Ilich about Spacebank, microfunding and alternative currencies, conducted by Artistic Bokeh (Wien, Austria), is available here: Spacebank

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