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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

The Land Belongs to God

By , Permalink

Speech to the Union Theological Seminary, Columbia. The focus of my talk today will be Jesus' first sermon and the long background behind it that helps explain what he was talking about and what he sought to bring about. I've been associated with Harvard University's Peabody Museum for over thirty years in Babylonian economic archeology. And for more than twenty years I've headed a group out of Harvard, the International Scholars Conference on Ancient Near Eastern Economies (ISCANEE), writing a new economic history of the ancient Near East. The five colloquia volumes that we've published began in 1994. We decided we have to re-write the history to free it from the modern ideological preconceptions that have distorted much popular understanding. When I began to study Sumer and Babylonia in the 1980s, there ...

Financially Approved Financed History

By Permalink

A Travesty of Financial History – which bank lobbyists will applaud Review of William Goetzmann, Money Changes Everything: How Finance Made Civilization Possible (Princeton University Press, 2016) Michael Hudson Debt mounts up faster than the means to pay. Yet there is widespread lack of awareness regarding what this debt dynamic implies. From Mesopotamia in the third millennium BC to the modern world, the way in which society has dealt with the buildup of debt has been the main force transforming political relations. Financial textbook writers tell happy-face fables that depict loans only as being productive and helping debtors, not as threatening social stability. Government intervention to promote economic growth and solvency by writing down debts and protecting debtors at creditors’ expense is accused of causing an economic crisis (defined as bankers and bondholders not making ...

Socrates: debt and the cyclical rise and fall of societies

Last week I attended a wonderful conference in the university town of Tübingen, Germany, on “Debt: The First 3500 Years,” to bring ancient historians together to discuss David Graeber’s book Debt: The First 5000 Years. I was enlightened by two papers in particular. Doctoral fellow Moritz Hinsch from Berlin collected what Socrates (470-399 BC) and other Athenians wrote about debt, and the conference’s organizer, Prof. John Weisweiler, presented the new view of late imperial Rome as being still a long way from outright serfdom. The 99 Percent were squeezed, but “the economy” grew – in a way that concentrated growth in the hands of the One Percent. ...

Global Financialization 2015 – The state of play

Cross-posted from The Saker The Saker: We hear that the Ukraine will have to declare a default, but that it will probably be a "technical" default as opposed to an official one. Some say that the decision of the Rada to allow Iatseniuk to chose whom to pay is already such a "technical default". Is there such thing as a "technical default" and, if yes, how would it be different in terms of consequences for the Ukraine for a "regular" default? Michael Hudson: A default is a default. The attempted euphemism of “technical” default came up with regard to the Greek debt in 2012 at the G8 meetings. Geithner and Obama lobbied the IMF and ECB shamelessly to bail out Greece, simply so that it could pay bondholders, because U.S. banks had ...

Sovereignty in the Ancient Near East

Prof Michael Hudson on the Ancient Near East by Renegadeeconomists on Mixcloud 04/01/2015 An interview on the new book - Labor in the Ancient World, the latest in our series on the Ancient Near East, co-edited with Piotr Steinkeller. Support our work by buying a copy.  Karl: Welcome to the Renegade Economists with your host, Karl Fitzgerald. This week we’re stepping back in time, way back some 10,000 years BC into the world of archaeology, Egyptology and Assyriology. Yes, it’s time for another special with Professor Michael Hudson. That’s right, Michael Hudson back on the show, he’s got a new book called Labor in the Ancient World and I asked him to give a precis on the background to this very interesting study. Hang on for another riveting conversation here on 3CR’s Renegade ...