Mutual Aid vs Moral Hazard

How the Bronze Age saved itself from debt serfdom There has been an explosion of discussion about whether to cancel student debts. Critics of the idea point out that wealthy people would be the main gainers, posing moral hazard. The debate has  has quickly slipped into a discussion of modern economies and whether it was moral to cancel the debts of people who are in arrears, when some people have struggled to keep current on their payments.” Bankers and bondholders love this argument, because it says, “Don’t cancel debts. Make everyone pay, or someone will get a free ride.” Suppose Solon would have thought this in Athens in 594 BC. No banning of debt bondage. No Greek takeoff. More oligarchy Draco-style. Suppose Hammurabi, the Sumerians and other Near Eastern rulers would have thought this. ...

Bronze Age Redux

A GATHERING OF THE TRIBES BRONZE AGE REDUX: On Debt, Clean Slates And What The Ancients Have To Teach Us The Michael Hudson Interview by Harold Crooks for A Gathering of The Tribes Magazine.         One of the most compelling sequences in the Oscar-winning Inside Job, Charles Ferguson’s indictment of Wall Street’s role in the 2008 global financial meltdown, involved not the banker culprits but their supporting cast. These were the Ivy League accomplices. Ferguson mightily skewered these economists for the cover they gave the sub-prime Hamptons dwelling wise guys whose rescue turned out to be a pretext for one of the largest reverse-Robin Hood wealth transfers in history. Though for the foreseeable future they enjoy their tenured posts, control prestigious academic journals and continue to prey on the ...

Jesus: the economic activist

Debt Jubilee, April 26, 2018 THE HUDSON REPORT: The history of debt cancellation and Jesus's economic justice activism   Here is the direct download link. Left Out, a podcast produced by Paul Sliker, Michael Palmieri, and Dante Dallavalle, creates in-depth conversations with the most interesting political thinkers, heterodox economists, and organizers on the Left.   The Hudson Report is a new weekly series produced by Left Out with the legendary economist Michael Hudson. Every episode we cover an economic or political issue that is either being ignored—or hotly debated—that week in the press. In this episode we discuss the ancient history of debt cancellation, the untold life of Jesus as an economic justice activist, and more largely Professor Hudson's forthcoming book, "...and forgive them their debts," out in summer 2018. Michael Palmieri: Professor Michael Hudson welcome back to another episode of ...

Resisting Financial Conquest

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As published on Counterpunch Back in January upon coming into office, Syriza probably could not have won a referendum on whether to pay or not to pay. It didn’t have a full parliamentary majority, and had to rely on a nationalist party for Tsipras to become prime minister. (That party balked at cutting back Greek military spending, which was 3% of GDP, and which the troika had helpfully urged to be cut back in order to balance the government’s budget.) Seeing how unyielding the opposition was, Syriza’s stance was: “We would like to pay. But there’s no money.” This kept throwing the ball back into the troika’s court. The Institutions were so unyielding that Syriza’s approval rating in the polls rose by 13% by June. Greek voters became increasingly incensed at the Troika’s ...

Incorporating the Rentier Sectors into a Financial Model

by Dirk Bezemer and Michael Hudson As published in the World Economic Association's World Economic Review Vol #1. ABSTRACT Current macroeconomics ignores the roles that rent, debt and the financial sector play in shaping our economy. We discuss the Classical view on rents and policy responses to the rentier sector in the 19th century. The finance, insurance & real estate sector is today’s incarnation of the rentier sector. This paper shows how financial flows can be conceptually and statistically studied separately from (but interacting with) the real sector. We discuss finance’s interaction with government and with the international economy. 1. Introduction Now that the Bubble Economy has given way to debt deflation, the world is discovering the shortcoming of models that fail to explain how most credit creation today (1) inflates asset prices without raising ...

Europe’s Transition From Social Democracy to Oligarchy

As first published in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung The easiest way to understand Europe’s financial crisis is to look at the solutions being proposed to resolve it. They are a banker’s dream, a grab bag of giveaways that few voters would be likely to approve in a democratic referendum. Bank strategists learned not to risk submitting their plans to democratic vote after Icelanders twice refused in 2010-11 to approve their government’s capitulation to pay Britain and the Netherlands for losses run up by badly regulated Icelandic banks operating abroad. Lacking such a referendum, mass demonstrations were the only way for Greek voters to register their opposition to the €50 billion in privatization sell-offs demanded by the European Central Bank (ECB) in autumn 2011. The problem is that Greece lacks the ready money to ...

Democracy and Debt

Has the Link been Broken? *This article appeared in the Frankfurter Algemeine Zeitung on December 5, 2011. Book V of Aristotle’s Politics describes the eternal transition of oligarchies making themselves into hereditary aristocracies – which end up being overthrown by tyrants or develop internal rivalries as some families decide to “take the multitude into their camp” and usher in democracy, within which an oligarchy emerges once again, followed by aristocracy, democracy, and so on throughout history. Debt has been the main dynamic driving these shifts – always with new twists and turns. It polarizes wealth to create a creditor class, whose oligarchic rule is ended as new leaders (“tyrants” to Aristotle) win popular support by cancelling the debts and redistributing property or taking its usufruct for the state. Since the Renaissance, however, bankers have ...

Australia’s Needless Foreign Borrowing

Michael Hudson and Shann Turnbull* (First published via Prosper Australia, written during Michael's recent Oz tour.) Confronted by the global financial crisis that is burying foreign economies deeper in debt deflation each month, Australia needs to protect itself – indeed, to liberate itself from as many costs and risks as it can. Fortunately, many of its costs and risks are unnecessary, merely a result of the inertia of old ways of thinking. 
Australia has the means to protect its growth and to keep more of its income at home. But if it is to remain immune to the GFC meltdown, it must escape from the risky environment of foreign financial dependency. This requires new arrangements to take account of the rapidly changing character of credit. 
Foreign credit is the most obvious yet also most ...