Bankers: Go The 'Latvian' Option

The "Latvian option" is the buzzword of the moment among European bankers and financial journalists. In October, the Latvian people voted in a coalition headed by the incumbent prime minister Valdis Dombrovskis, whose government had savaged social benefits, cut pay and inflated unemployment in 2009. Was this proof that austerity measures could not only work, but actually be popular? Was Latvia the model that Greece, Ireland and Spain should emulate? The Wall Street Journal, for one, has published several articles promoting this view. Most recently, Charles Doxbury advocated Latvia's internal devaluation and austerity strategy as the model for Europe's crisis nations to follow. The view commonly argued is that Latvia's economic freefall (the deepest of any nation from the 2008 crisis) ...

Financial Interests Dictate Sovereign Policy

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Interview with Michael Hudson, Eleftherotypia, Sunday December 12, 2010. 1. A recent article of yours, “Schemes of the Rich and Greedy,” cites the bailouts in Europe among such schemes. What are the main faults with bailouts, and for whom are they designed? The financial sector is trying to get politicians to siphon off money from labor and industry to pay bankers. This will impede capital formation and living standards. The banks misrepresented the real value of balance sheet and hence what they really were owed under actual market conditions. Now that they have taken the money and run, the «real» economy is being told to pay the off their bad loans. The arrogance of this demand prompted Angela Merkel to ask why governments ...

Deficit Hawks One Two Punch

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More at The Real News December 16, 2010 Why Government is More Afraid of Debt than Depression Michael Hudson: Deficit Hawks Want a One Two Punch Against the Economy Transcript PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Paul Jay, coming to you today from New York City. Now joining us is Michael Hudson. He's a distinguished research professor at University of Missouri - Kansas City. He's also the author of many books, including Super Imperialism: The Economic Strategy of American Empire, and Trade, Development, and Foreign Debt: A History of Theories of Polarization Versus Convergence in the World Economy. That's a mouthful. Thanks for joining us. PROF. MICHAEL HUDSON, UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI - KANSAS CITY: Thank you. JAY: So President ...

Obama's Bushism

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I almost feel naïve for being so angry at President Obama’s betrayal of his campaign promises regarding taxes. I had never harbored much hope that he actually intended to enact the reforms that his supporters expected – not after he appointed the most right-wing of the Clintonomics gang, Larry Summers, then Tim Geithner, Ben Bernanke and other Bush neoliberals. But there is something so unfair and wrong that I could not prevent myself from waking up early Tuesday morning to think through the consequences of President Obama’s sellout in the years to come. Contrary to his pretense of saving the economy, his action will intensify debt deflation and financial depression, paving the way for a long-term tax shift off wealth ...

Adam Smith critiques the Deficit Reduction Commission

What would Adam Smith have said about the Bowles-Simpson economic report last week? What a pity the great free marketer was not around to serve on the Deficit Reduction Commission. He not only would have rolled over in his grave, he would have risen up wielding an ax to the fiscal proposals that are diametrically opposite to the fiscal principles that he and his original free market contemporaries urged. Writing in the wake of the French Physiocrats with their Impôt Unique to collect the revenues that France’s landed aristocracy drained from the countryside and towns, Smith endorsed the idea that the least burdensome tax was one that fell on land rent: A more equal land-tax, a more equal tax upon the rent of ...