Lessons from Babylonia for Today’s Student Crisis

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As published on Inequality.org Societies have tended to polarize between creditors and debtors since ancient times, but this tendency can and must be reversed. NOVEMBER 21, 2018 Today, the wealthy depict inequality in glowing colors as a byproduct of economies pulling ahead, “creating wealth” by innovations that add to prosperity. This view is unprecedented in history. From antiquity to quite recently, personal accumulation of large amounts of wealth was frowned upon, because it usually was achieved at the expense of others. One party’s gain often tended to be at the expense of others, polarizing communities by pushing many below poverty levels. The most corrosive method of gaining personal wealth, from the ancient world to today, is interest-bearing debt that mounts up with compound interest. The inability to pay has led small farmers and the poor ...

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. ...

EVERYTHING YOU THOUGHT YOU KNEW ABOUT WESTERN CIVILIZATION IS WRONG

A Review of Michael Hudson’s new book .... and Forgive Them Their Debts As published on Naked Capitalism by John Siman To say that Michael Hudson’s new book And Forgive Them Their Debts: Lending, Foreclosure, and Redemption from Bronze Age Finance to the Jubilee Year (ISLET 2018) is profound is an understatement on the order of saying that the Mariana Trench is deep. To grasp his central argument is so alien to our modern way of thinking about civilization and barbarism that Hudson quite matter-of-factly agreed with me that the book is, to the extent that it will be understood, “earth-shattering” in both intent and effect. Over the past three decades, gleaned (under the auspices of Harvard’s Peabody Museum) and then synthesized the scholarship of American and British and French and German and Soviet ...

Banking Deep Dive

An interview with one of the best in the business, Bonnie Faulkner (Guns and Butter). 2018 marks the 10th anniversary of the stock market crash of 2008; the current financial malaise is the result of the bank bailouts, not the crash; an over-indebted economy cannot be saved unless the banks fail; debt deflation; the magic of compound interest; how pension funds, state and local governments adversely affected by the bank bailouts; growth of the financial extraction FIRE sector (finance, insurance and real estate); quantitative easing; asset price inflation; wealth concentrated at the top in Roman antiquity led to the Dark Age; Eurozone imposition of austerity Greek style; tariffs, economic sanctions and isolationism. This is Guns and Butter. You can’t bail out the banks, leave the debts in place, and rescue the economy. ...

Deciphering Geo-Political Games

Professor Michael Hudson discusses the globalisation fallout as new trading blocs distance themselves from US dollar denominated trade. Will the US be able to maintain its imperialist tendencies in light of these trends? How much further can the rentiers push their free-for-all? The show finishes with an overview of Michael’s new book ‘And forgive them our debts’. Show notes and subscribe.

Scenes from the Spider’s Web

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At the demise of empire, City of London financial interests created a web of secrecy jurisdictions that captured wealth from across the globe and hid it in a web of offshore islands. Today, up to half of global offshore wealth is hidden in British jurisdictions and Britain and its dependencies are the largest global players in the world of international finance.

The Lehman’s Limp

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10 Years Since Lehman Brothers Bankruptcy – Did the Economy Really Recover? September 19, 2018 MARC STEINER: Welcome to The Real News Network. I’m Marc Steiner. Great to have you with us once again. On September 15, 2008, the financial meltdown began with the bankruptcy of the Lehman Brothers. That was 10 years ago. The shock waves that hit the economy threw 9 million families out of their homes who could not afford to pay their rising mortgages. So Congress and the president in the 1990s killed Glass-Steagall, written in 1933 to save us from the excesses of the financial industry. And then Congress gave us Dodd-Frank in the wake of the 2008 crisis that bailed out Wall Street, but not America. And now Trump seems to continue the process with killing Dodd-Frank ...

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 ...