The Lehman 10th Anniversary spin as a Teachable Moment

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Wall Street did not let the Lehman Brothers crisis go to waste. The banks that have paid the largest fines for financial fraud are now much bigger and more profitable. The victims of their junk mortgage loans are poorer, and the economy is facing debt deflation. Was it worth it? What was not saved was the economy. Today’s financial malaise for pension funds, state and local budgets and underemployment is largely a result of the 2008 bailout, not the crash. What was saved was not only the banks – or more to the point, as Sheila Bair pointed out, their bondholders – but the financial overhead that continues to burden today’s economy. Also saved was the idea that the economy needs to keep the financial sector solvent by an exponential growth of new ...

“Creating Wealth” through Debt: The West’s Finance-Capitalist Road

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Michael Hudson Peking University, School of Marxist Studies May 5-6, 2018 Volumes II and III of Marx’s Capital describe how debt grows exponentially, burdening the economy with carrying charges. This overhead is subjecting today’s Western finance-capitalist economies to austerity, shrinking living standards and capital investment while increasing their cost of living and doing business. That is the main reason why they are losing their export markets and becoming de-industrialized. What policies are best suited for China to avoid this neo-rentier disease while raising living standards in a fair and efficient low-cost economy? The most pressing policy challenge is to keep down the cost of housing. Rising housing prices mean larger and larger debts extracting interest out of the economy. The strongest way to prevent this is to tax away the rise in land prices, ...

Could/Should Jubilee Debt Cancellations be Reintroduced Today?

By M. Hudson (University of Missouri) and C. Goodhart (LSE) As published by the Center for Economic Policy Research. Abstract In this paper we recall the history of Jubilee debt cancellations, emphasizing what their social purpose was at that time. We note that it would not be possible to copy that procedure exactly nowadays, primarily because most debt/credit relationships are intermediated via financial institutions, such as banks, insurance companies, etc., rather than by governments or wealthy families directly. But we argue that the underlying social purpose of such Jubilees – to keep debt within the reasonable ability to be paid without social and economic polarisation – could be recreated via alternative mechanisms, and we discuss the politico-economic arguments for, and against, doing so. Keywords: Inequality; Debt-Canceling Jubilees; Babylonian and Byzantine Empires; Equity Participation; Student ...

Socialism, Land and Banking: 2017 compared to 1917

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An article written for the hundredth anniversary of the Russian Revolution, to be read in Beijing today. Socialism a century ago seemed to be the wave of the future. There were various schools of socialism, but the common ideal was to guarantee support for basic needs, and for state ownership to free society from landlords, predatory banking and monopolies. In the West these hopes are now much further away than they seemed in 1917. Land and natural resources, basic infrastructure monopolies, health care and pensions have been increasingly privatized and financialized. Instead of Germany and other advanced industrial nations leading the way as expected, Russia’s October 1917 Revolution made the greatest leap. But the failures of Stalinism became an argument against Marxism – guilt-by-association with Soviet bureaucracy. European parties calling themselves ...

Are Students a Class?

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Students usually don’t think of themselves as a class. They seem “pre-class,” because they have not yet entered the labor force. They can only hope to become part of the middle class after they graduate. And that means becoming a wage earner – what impolitely is called the working class. But as soon as they take out a student debt, they become part of the economy. They are in this sense a debtor class. But to be a debtor, one needs a means to pay – and the student’s means to pay is out of the wages and salaries they may earn after they graduate. And after all, the reason most students get an education is so that they can qualify for a middle-class job. The middle class in America consists of ...

Jargon, Junk Reviewed

A Book Review by Peter Koenig via the Saker website The author, Michael Hudson, is President of The Institute for the Study of Long-Term Economic Trends (ISLET), a Wall Street Financial Analyst, Distinguished Research Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. Michael’s book, Junk Economics, reads like an economic thriller. It also provides all the answers to: “What I always wanted to know about Economics, but was afraid to ask”. It is a fascinating read, written for ‘experts’ as well as for economic novices. It is a factual account of what so called ‘Propaganda Experts’ want you to believe about economics, and it dismantles the myths. It explains ‘jargons’ that are on purpose coined, so that the average reader has no clue of their real meaning, but they create ...

Review of Steve Keen’s “Can we void another financial crisis?”

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At first glance Steve Keen's new book 'Can We Avoid Another Financial Crisis' seems too small-sized at 147 pages. But like a well-made atom-bomb, it is compactly designed for maximum reverberation to blow up its intended target. Explaining why today’s debt residue has turned the United States, Britain and southern Europe into zombie economies, Steve Keen shows how ignoring debt the blind spot of neoliberal economics – basically the old neoclassical just-pretend view of the world. Neoclassical's glib mathiness is a gloss for its unscientific “don’t worry about debt” message. Blame for today’s U.S., British and southern European inability to achieve economic recovery thus rests on the economic ...

The Real Russiagate: Obama’s Stasi State

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by Michael Hudson and Paul Craig Roberts Mike Whitney has written an excellent expose of the “Russiagate” cover story for Obama’s political use of national security to help his party oppose Republicans. Covert surveillance of politicians on Obama’s Nixon-like “Enemies List” has been going on for many years, but is only now being unmasked as a result of the failure of its cover story (“We weren’t spying on enemies; only on Russians to protect America”). Democratic-leaking mass media have passed on the cover story authored by former Obama-administration officials led by CIA director John Brennan, FBI director James Comey, the DNC, and Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff. The loose ends in this cover-up have now been so widely exposed as hearsay and political that only 13% of Republicans believe the fact-free story – ...

Wall Street First

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Trump is Obama’s Legacy. Will this Break up the Democratic Party? Nobody yet can tell whether Donald Trump is an agent of change with a specific policy in mind, or merely a catalyst heralding an as yet undetermined turning point. His first month in the White House saw him melting into the Republican mélange of corporate lobbyists. Having promised to create jobs, his “America First” policy looks more like “Wall Street First.” His cabinet of billionaires promoting corporate tax cuts, deregulation and dismantling Dodd-Frank bank reform repeats the Junk Economics promise that giving more tax breaks to the richest One Percent may lead them to use their windfall to invest in creating more jobs. What they usually do, of course, is simply buy more property and assets already in place. One ...