Pawns for Pickings

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cross posted from The Nation Ukraine Is In Crisis. Here’s Why the West Can’t Save It. A video roundtable explains why the IMF, Europe, and Western corporations don’t have the country’s best interests at heart. Alexander Reed Kelly June 9, 2015 A Ukrainian national flag flutters in the wind at a position held by the Ukrainian armed forces near the town of Maryinka in eastern Ukraine. (Reuters/Gleb Garanich) Nearly a year and a half after the Euromaidan protests ushered a new government into power in Kiev, Ukraine is still in trouble. Some 6,200 people have been killed, more than 15,000 wounded, and 1.2 million internally displaced in a civil war that had by mid-March, according to the new president, Petro Poroshenko, destroyed “around 25 percent of ...

Ukraine Labor Dares Operation Vulture

Ukraine’s collapse since the February 2014 coup has become an umbrella for grabitization. Collateral damage in this free-for-all has been labor. Many workers are simply not getting paid, and what they actually are being paid is often illegally low. Employers are taking whatever money is in their business accounts and squirreling it away – preferably abroad, or at least in foreign currency. Wage arrears are getting worse, because as Ukraine approaches the eve of defaulting on its €10+ billion London debt, kleptocrats and business owners are jumping ship. They see that foreign lending has dried up and the exchange rate will plunge further. The Rada’s announcement last week that it shifted €8 billion from debt service to spend on a  new ...

Institutional Discontent

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Europe Tilts East Towards China (1/2) Michael Hudson Report: Britain, German, France and Italy are among those who joined Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank in an expression of their discontent over World Bank polices that force developing countries to depend on the US - March 20, 2015 SHARMINI PERIES, EXEC. PRODUCER, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Sharmini Peries, coming to you from Baltimore. The Asian Infrastructure Development Bank, an Asian rival to the World Bank, was launched by the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, last year. Initially it was an Asian initiative, but last week, U.K. was the first European country to join the bank information, causing some friction between U.S. and Britain. Now a few more ...

QE Intentions All Too Obvious

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“Quantitative Easing for Whom? TRNN, March 11, 2015. The European Central Bank’s trillion euro plan will only help keep the banks afloat. SHARMINI PERIES, EXEC. PRODUCER, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Sharmini Peries, coming to you from Baltimore. In an effort to relieve some pressure on the struggling European economies, Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank, announced a 1 trillion euro quantitative easing package on Monday. Quantitative easing is an unconventional form of monetary policy where a central bank creates new money electronically to buy financial assets like government bonds. And this process aims to directly increase private-sector spending in the economy and return inflation to target. Well, what does that mean and what might be wrong ...

T is for Trickle-Down

Part T in the Insider's Economic Dictionary Tableau Économique: The first formal national-income account, developed by the Physiocrat Francois Quesnay on the analogy of the circulation of blood within the human body. (See Economist, Say’s Law.) Taxation: The way in which a government gives value to money by accepting it in payment of taxes or for public services (see State Theory of Money and Chartalism). The basic fiscal-financial principle at work is that whatever revenue the tax collector relinquishes is available to be pledged for debt service. Without taxation, much more of the economic surplus would be taken by the financial sector, especially inasmuch as government money has less basis for issuing its own money and credit as the tax base shrinks. ...

Ukraine denouement

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The  Russian loan and the IMF’s One-Two Punch The fate of Ukraine is now shifting from the military battlefield back to the arena that counts most: that of international finance. Kiev is broke, having depleted its foreign reserves on waging war that has destroyed its industrial export and coal mining capacity in the Donbass (especially vis-à-vis Russia, which normally has bought 38 percent of Ukraine’s exports). Deeply in debt (with €3 billion falling due on December 20 to Russia), Ukraine faces insolvency if the IMF and Europe do not release new loans next month to pay for new imports as well as Russian and foreign bondholders. Finance Minister Natalia Yaresko announced on Friday that she hopes to see the money begin to ...

Big Fish, Little Fish

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US 2015 budget anti pension law, January 2, 2015. On the Senate’s last day in session in December, it approved the government’s $1.1 trillion budget for coming fiscal year. Few people realize how radical the new U.S. budget law was. Budget laws are supposed to decide simply what to fund and what to cut. A budget is not supposed to make new law, or to rewrite the law. But that is what happened, and it was radical. Wall Street’s representatives in Congress – the Democratic leadership as well as Republicans – took the opportunity to create an artificial crisis. The press called this “holding the government hostage.” The House – backed by the Senate – said that it would shut the government ...

The Koch Brothers’ Governors

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Butlers Selling the Public’s Silver…. A Dress Rehearsal for Hillary? by Jeffrey Sommers & Michael Hudson The Koch Brothers are the closest thing the United States has to Russia’s oligarchs. They fuse ownership of the economy and state, using the latter to enrich themselves while making private gains through the public’s losses. Their idea of a “market economy” is to buy government officials and the assets they privatize at giveaway prices. The top three butlers at the Koch’s nouveau riche ‘Downton Abbey’ are Governors Sam Brownback of Kansas, Wisconsin’s Scott Walker, and Chris Christie of New Jersey. All three ran elections based on the anti-Keynesian oxymoron of promoting job creation by balancing budgets with regressive tax plans. All declared that cutting taxes (chiefly on ...

Backfired!

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U.S. New Cold War policy has backfired – and created its worst nightmare 1. The world’s geopolitics, major trade patterns and military alliances have changed radically in the past month. Russia has re-oriented its gas and oil trade, and also its trade in military technology, away from Europe toward Eurasia. The result is the opposite of America’s hope for the past half-century of dividing and conquering Eurasia: setting Russia against China, isolating Iran, and preventing India, the Near East and other Asian countries from joining together to create an alternative to the U.S. dollar area. American sanctions and New Cold War policy has driven these Asian countries together in association with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization as an alternative to NATO, and ...