Economy

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The Tower of Basel: Secretive Plans for the Issuing of a Global Currency Do We Really Want the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) Issuing Our Global Currency By Ellen Brown, "Global Research" April 18, 2009 -- In an April 7 article in The London Telegraph titled "The G20 Moves the World a Step Closer to a Global Currency," Ambrose Evans-Pritchard wrote: "A single clause in Point 19 of the communiqué issued by the G20 leaders amounts to revolution in the global financial order. "'We have agreed to support a general SDR allocation which will inject $250bn (£170bn) into the world economy and increase global liquidity,' it said. SDRs are Special Drawing Rights, a synthetic paper currency issued by the International Monetary Fund that has lain dormant for half a century. "In effect, the G20 leaders have activated the IMF's power to create money and begin global 'quantitative easing'. In doing so, they are putting a de facto world currency into play. It is outside the control of any sovereign body. Conspiracy theorists will love it."
The Financial Crisis and the Fourth World War Shawn Hattingh For the last three decades a vicious war, the Fourth World War, has been waged on the people of the world by the global political and corporate elite[1]. They have unleashed a whole array of economic weapons, from trade liberalisation to privatisation to financial liberalisation, to enrich themselves at the expense of the vast majority of people. As part of this onslaught, welfare systems have been attacked, workers rights have been undermined, and environmental legislation has been savaged. The aim of all of these measures was to spread capitalism into every aspect of people’s lives. Everything, including culture, social relations, the environment, water and even air were turned into commodities to be bought and sold. While the richest 400 people on Earth used this system to amass vast amounts of money (more money than the poorest 3 billion people combined), over 18 million people died every year for the last 20 years because of poverty[2]. When people protested that all of this inequality and deprivation were unfair – and demanded that people should be provided with quality education, quality healthcare, food, and clean water; they were told by the elite not to be ridiculous. In fact, people were simply told that no-one had the money to provide such ‘luxuries’ as food, quality healthcare and quality education. Yet, when some of the largest companies got into trouble in the last 20 years, states have rushed to bail them out. For instance, when the savings & loan debacle erupted during the Bush Snr years, the US government spent at least $ 200 billion in public money bailing out some of the corporations involved[3]. At very the same time, Bush Snr and then Clinton were working hard to attack the poor through cutting welfare. Such is the world we have come to live in. It is a world where profits have been privatised for the rich, while losses and misery have been socialized for the poor - a world of the Fourth World War.
Time for a 'March on Wall Street' to Nationalize the Banks Eric Sommer The time has come for a nationwide U.S. "March on Wall Street'. This march should be organized on a nation-wide basis inside the U.S. by the broadest possible coalition of progressive political organizations, trade unions, anti-poverty, anti-racist, anti-foreclosure, and environmental groups.. It should bring people from throughout the U.S. to culminate in a gigantic rally in Wall Street in New York.
Debt, Violence, and Impersonal Markets David Graeber If The Great Transformation will be remembered for anything a century from now, it willbe as the definitive rejoinder to the great liberal myth. This is, of course, the assumption that there is something natural about what Polanyi called "self-regulating markets", that they arise of their own accord as long as state interference doesn't prevent them. Polanyi examined the very period when this ideology first emerged, and managed to demonstrate just how crucial government interference was in creating "the self-regulating market" to begin with—just as it has continued to be necessary to maintain it. One need hardly point out that in the current, neoliberal age, Polanyi's insights are more relevant than ever. The ideology that Polanyi felt was gone forever in the '40s has returned with a vengeance—returned to reap a terrible vengeance, in fact, on the most vulnerable of the people of the earth. Yet at the same time the intellectual landscape has shifted dramatically. Among what passes as the intellectual opposition, grand sweeping theory in the Polanyian tradition has fallen largely out of favor. At the same time, the high theorists of neoliberalism—at least, the most sophisticated of them—often appear more than happy to incorporate many of Polanyi's insights. Most will, if pressed, be happy to admit that "the market" isn't really an empirical object at all, that when they refer to "markets" they are really talking about abstract models, constructed by selecting only certain features of reality and intentionally ignore all others; and that of course one needs constant political work to maintain conditions where those models will take on any semblance of empirical form. Of course, when giving policy advice, these same economists will then turn around and declare that "the market"—now transformed from an abstract model to a quasi-deity—will punish those who disregard its sovereign dictates.
SPECULATING ON THE CRISIS The Free Association 'We are an image from the future' (graffiti at the occupied University of Economics and Business in Athens, December 2008) When we wander the streets of Leeds, Mexico City, Mumbai the wealth we see seems somehow familiar, yet we wonder where it has come from. That wealth is familiar because we produced it. But we feel disconnected from it because it has come not from our past, but from our futures. It is this problematic, this peculiar relationship between the past, the present and the future, that offers one of the keys to understanding the present crisis of capitalism.
Finance and Social Production Adam Arvidsson P2P Foundation I’d like to expand a bit on a number of ideas that came out of a discussion with Christian Marazzi on the financial crisis, organized by the student movement at the University of Milano, last Friday. Marazzi has done a lot of innovative and thought-provoking work on the role of finance within the post-Fordist economy and the deep structural roots of the financial expansion that has marked the last two decades (or since 1979 and Paul Volker’s monetarist turn at the Fed). Indeed, the growing size and importance of financial markets is one of the two important structural trends that have marked the transition away from industrial Fordism (to an ‘information economy’ a ‘knowledge economy’ an ‘ethical economy’ or simply ‘post-Fordism’ the exact denomination is not an issue here). Indeed, with Geroge Soros, we can argue that the current crisis is the end of a financial ’super bubble’ that has run its course since the early 1980s. This has built on a continuous expansion of credit (refinanced by a massive inflow of cash from emerging economies like China). The consequence has been a substitution of credit and financial rent for wages as the source of income of the US (and Western European) middle class. The most visible structural consequence of this financial expansion have been a financialization of a number of services related to the reproduction of everyday life: credit card debt, housing and mortages, pensions, insurance, health care and education. To this transfer of the responsibility for the reproduction of life from the public sector and the welfare state to financial markets has corresponded a massive securitization of life conduct, that is; the invention of a number of often very complex financial instruments, the risks of which are are in the end related to the life conduct of human subjects (their liability to pay their mortages, to get sick and so on). Indeed Christian Marazzi argues convincingly that this link between finance and life conduct is one of the defining elements of the neoliberal political order, tracing it back to the New York City bancrupcy in 1975. At that point, the City relied heavily on the issue of municipal bonds. In turn, its ability to repay those bonds was contingent on its ability to reduce costs for social services and crime. This way, the financial rent that the middle class (that had purchased the bonds through, mainly pension funds) could receive, came to rely on the life conduct of the underclass (who were the main recipients of costly social services) and, consequently, policing the latter became a way of securing the income of the former.
The Biggest ‘October Surprise’ Of All: A World Capitalist Crash Loren Goldner “There will be periods of 30 years which will pass with the seeming importance of a single day, and single days with the importance of 30 years.” (old Marxist maxim) (Note: To avoid reinventing the wheel, and under the pressure of recent epochal events, I have used fragments of other texts I have written in the past few years, making up no more than 15-20% of the following article. I ask the reader’s forbearance for any annoyance.) Given the fascination of the events of the past 14 months of “credit crunch”, many people (myself included) have sometimes tended to neglect the “deeper” sources of this crisis in production and reproduction. Analysis of a credit crisis has now become almost banal in the mainstream media. But as Marxists we know that there is rarely, if ever, a “pure” credit crisis without a deeper dimension in the material reproduction process (1). We recall Hegel’s three stages of the introduction of a new idea: 1) total silence and indifference 2) great hostility and denunciation 3) “that’s what we’ve always believed” It’s amazing to see how the media have gone in a year and a half from 1) to 3), barely stopping at 2), a marginal pastime over the last 30 years when dealing with “skeptics”. Suddenly the word “capitalism” has reappeared in popular discussion after decades of euphemisms such as “free-market economies” and Barack Obama’s support for massive government bailouts of Wall Street is attacked as “socialist” when in fact it is nothing but the old capitalist refrain of “privatization of profit, socialization of costs”.
Notes on the "Bailout" Financial Crisis George Caffentzis 0. These notes on the political-financial crisis were written in the last month while many US financial corporations were, in effect, nationalized in response to the bankruptcy of several major investment and commercial banks. The notes have been prompted by the fact that there has been remarkably little political activity in the streets, union halls, retirement communities of the country demanding a resolution of the crisis in favor of the millions of workers who are now losing wages, houses and pensions. Certainly not even the most compliant unions and the retirement associations were invited to participate in the negotiations that were carried on concerning the legislation. Is this lack of attention to workers' interests due to the "shock" tactics that the Bush Administration used to push the "bailout" legislation? Perhaps, but we also think that money and the financial sector of capitalism that deals directly with it have been inherently opaque to working class political analysis and action for more than a century. (The last time there was a self-conscious working class debate on a national level concerning the money form was the 1896 election when the fate of the gold standard hung in the balance.) The purpose of these notes is to present in outline a way of understanding this crisis as developing out of class struggles taking place in the US and internationally in the last decade. This can be useful, I believe, since if class struggles had the power to create the crisis, then understanding them might guide us to the path that would lead us out of the crisis with more power. 1. Financial crises are difficult to understand from the point of view of class politics, for our model of class struggle to this day is still the factory where the workers' labor power is bought (through the payment of a wage) by capitalist firms and put to work along with machines and other inputs to produce a product that is sold for a profit. The workers are worked harder, longer, more dangerously and/or more productively in order to make a larger profit. They respond to this work regime by a combination of means, from compliance to a thousand and one ways of passive resistance to strikes to factory take-overs, while the capitalists devise strategies to resist this resistance. This struggle can take a myriad of forms (sometimes involving the most refined application of social and psychological sciences and sometimes the most brutal forms of assassination and torture), but the factory model is categorically straight forward: workers resist exploitation and capitalists resist their resistance; with profits and wages most often moving inversely. It is all apparently simple, but it can become complex because in a struggle there are many deceits and tricks each side plays both on each other and on observers (present and future). When it comes to money and the financial corporations that operate with it (banks, mortgage loan corporations, and other money market firms) this model of class struggle seems not to operate. Why? There are at least three primary reasons. First, money is quite a different "product" than either physical things like cars or services like massages. It is a bit mysterious. Words that combine the philosophical and necromantic like "magical," "abstract," "fetishistic," and "universal" are often used to describe money and to immediately give the impression that, compared to other commodities, the usual rules do not apply. For example, money is a unique kind of commodity, for it exchanges with all other commodities, a role that no other commodity plays. Second, while industrial or commercial firms require the production and sale of a non-monetary commodity in order to "make money," financial firms make "money from money." They seem to operate in an abstract realm without a spatial location. This adds to the weirdness of the financial firms that during the history of capitalism have always attracted both fascination and hostility from other capitalists and workers. Third, they claim a different form of income than other capitalists and workers: Interest. When it comes to making money they make it in the form of interest on loans to capitalists (who pay interest out of their profits) and workers (who pay interest out of their wages). In other words, the money financial firms "make" is created "elsewhere" by workers working for non-financial capitalists. The workers of the financial firms themselves may be exploited--e.g., be forced to work long hours and get paid in worthless stock bonuses--but the income that the firms' owners receive does not derive from these employees' efforts in producing a product. It comes from the profits and wages of those who received loans who are, in most cases, not their employees. Where does the right to earn interest come from? How is it determined? These kinds of questions haunt our understanding of financial firms, since it appears that in a society where work is the source of value, interest appears to be like "creation out of nothing"!
"Hank Paulson and the State of Exception" Malatesta, The "bad loans" i.e. the tender of high interest money to people who could not make the payments, have caused a banking crisis and Henry "Hank" Paulson seeks to take complete control to impose decades of austerity on main street America; nationalize the insolvent companies and give a handout to the banks of "treasury" money. Hmmmm....first off, wouldn't nationalizing a profitable company like an oil company make the money available and hurt far fewer people? Well, besides the obvious there is an amazing Constitutional crisis and a time for boiling anger. I wonder where and when some protests will erupt?
The Legalization of Squatting Punkerslut Until all governments are abolished in favor of a just, mutual, and cooperative relationship between all civilizations, until that day, all states, governments, and councils should legalize squatting; that is, they should allow people to sleep in unused buildings, even if privately owned. The rights to freedom of speech, press, religion, and association are powerful safeguards for the Democratic spirit of any people. These concessions made by the government in giving their people more liberty are never done peaceably The people must always demand, they must always fight, they must always struggle, and inevitably, to create a true social change, they must bring themselves to a violent standoff with their enemies. Martin Luther King changed America by marching in the streets and letting himself be subject to the torture of the police. When those images of vicious police brutality appeared on the television sets of every American, it instantly became a social issue that people had to face. King's campaign was to change the way the this country looked at race. He followed along the guidelines of Gandhi, who also subjected himself to the brutalities of a tyrannical and undemocratic government. Again, the revolution in social progress was made possible by making people look at the brutality of the status quo.
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