F is for FIRE sector

Part F in The Insider's Economic Dictionary Factoid: A hypothesis, rumor or story so consonant with peoples’ preconceptions that it is accepted as a fact or working assumption, even though it often is made up a priori. Among the most notorious examples are the ideas of diminishing returns, equilibrium, that privatized ownership is inherently more efficient than public management, and that trickle-down economics works. (See Junk Science.) Factor of production: Labor and capital are the two basic factors of production, creating value. Many classical economists also treated land as a factor of production, but it is rather a property right. It is needed for production, like air, but as a legal right it becomes an institutional opportunity to charge rent, via a ...

E is for Earned Income

Part E in The Economics Insiders Dictionary. Earned income: Wages or profits earned by labor or capital for their role in producing goods and services. As such, earned income excludes economic rent and interest, which are property and financial returns that must be paid out of profits and wages. Ebitda: An acronym for earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization. A more colloquial term is cash flow. Economic rent: See Rent, economic. Economist: Originally a member of the Physiocratic School (L’Économistes) founded by Francois Quesnay who developed the Tableau Économique as the first formal national income statement. They sought to replace France’s proliferation of excise and income taxes with a land tax” (l’impôt unique), on the logic that the sun and other forces of ...

D is for Debt

Part D in The Economic Insider's Dictionary Debt: Only pure assets and equity ownership exist without corresponding debt. For financial saving, one party’s saving deposit, loan or credit appears as another party’s debt on the opposite side of the balance sheet. (Even net worth appears on the liabilities side of the balance sheet.) Debt bondage: The obligation of debtors to provide their own labor and/or that of family members to creditors to carry the interest and principal charges on loans or other financial claims. In today’s postindustrial economy this obligation takes the form of homeowners and employees spending their working lives paying off their mortgages and other personal debts in an attempt to improve or merely to maintain their economic position. Debt drag: ...

C is for Camouflage

Part C in The Insider's Economic Dictionary Camouflage: A cloak of artificial attractiveness or even of invisibility. Financial debt-claims on the economy’s income and assets camouflage themselves as wealth, although the financial tactic is to strip it. (See Euphemism and Parasite.) Capital: From Latin caput, “head,” as the political seat of government, society’s guiding intelligence or brain. Economically, the term is used ambiguously to represent two antithetical forms of capital. Physical capital in the form of tools, machinery and buildings are means of production evaluated by the cost of producing or acquiring them. Finance capital represents the rentier claims on these means of production and their revenue. Its dynamics tend ultimately to strip the means of production via the claims of compound ...

B is for Bailout

Part B to the Insider's Economic Dictionary Bailout: Reimbursement to speculators and savers of losses incurred by bad loans, investments or deposits in banks that fail. The effect of this moral hazard is to preserve financial control in the hands of the economy’s wealthiest 10 percent, “making them whole” by shifting the loss onto the bottom 90 percent of the population in order to benefit those at the top of the pyramid (see Rentier and Oligarchy). Balance of payments: Every country has offsetting trade and financial movements. And as in any balance sheet, every country’s payments are in overall balance by definition. The balance of payments is an accounting statement of international credits or inflows such as export receipts, the run-up of ...

Obama’s Master Class in Demagogy 101

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Yesterday President Obama chose Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois (originally founded by anti-slavery activists in the 1830s) to float the economic program he has been working out with Wall Street investment bankers. His aim is to wrap this program in a democratic rhetoric. The speech’s actual content boils down to: “I’m doing fine and housing prices are recovering. The way to heal the economy faster is to make a Public-Private Partnership (with Wall Street) to finance new infrastructure investment. The government will guarantee a return – and if there’s any loss, we (you taxpayers) will bear it.” His political genius was not to sugar-coat the shady parts of ...

China – Avoid the West’s Debt Overhead: A Land Tax is needed to hold down Housing Prices

How can China avoid the “Western financial disease” – a real estate bubble followed by defaults and foreclosures? The U.S. and European economies originally sought to avoid this fate by taxing the location’s site value. A rent tax was the focus of Progressive Era reforms. Enacting a rent tax remains China’s main challenge to accompany its privatization of real estate and natural resources. If land rent were fully taxed, it would not be paid to banks as interest for rising mortgage loans – and governments would not have to tax income and sales. Holding down housing debt will reduce labor’s cost of living, but not its living standards. While Western ...

The Insider’s Economic Dictionary – Part A

Part A to the Insider's Economic Dictionary. The Antidote to Euphemism The fallacies that lurk in words are the quicksands of theory; and as the conduct of nations is built on theory, the correction of word-fallacies is the never-ending labor of Science. … the party in this country, one of whose great aims was, at one time, the perpetuation of slavery, owed much of its popular vote to the name Democracy. – S. Dana Horton, Silver and Gold (1895) Now, it is clear that the decline of a language must ultimately have political and economic causes . . . It becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish ...

The Bubble Economy as a 2 part play for Privatisation

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As published in the latest World Economics Association digest, the Real World Economics Review The Federal Reserve’s QE3 has flooded the stock and bond markets with low-interest liquidity that makes it profitable for speculators to borrow cheap and make arbitrage gains buying stocks and bonds yielding higher dividends or interest. In principle, one could borrow at 0.15 percent (one sixth of one percent) and buy up stocks, bonds and real estate throughout the world, collecting the yield differential as arbitrage. Nearly all the $800 billion of QE2 went abroad, mainly to the BRICS for high-yielding bonds (headed by Brazil’s 11% and Australia’s 5+%), with the currency inflow for this carry trade providing a foreign-exchange bonus as well. ...