Paul Krugman’s Economic Blinders

In Mr. Krugman’s reading, private debts need not be written down or the tax system made more efficient. It is to be better subsidized – mainly with easier bank credit and more government spending. So I am afraid that his book might as well have been subtitled “How the Economy can Borrow its Way Out of Debt.” That is what budget deficits do: they add to the debt overhead.

Iceland's Fair Value Vultures

The New Bank Disaster Olafur Arnarson, Michael Hudson and Gunnar Tomasson* The problem of bank loans gone bad, especially those with government-guarantees such as U.S. student loans and Fannie Mae mortgages, has thrown into question just what should be a “fair value” for these debt obligations. Should “fair value” reflect what debtors can pay – that is, pay without going bankrupt? Or is it fair for banks and even vulture funds to get whatever they can squeeze out of debtors? The answer will depend largely on the degree to which governments back the claims of creditors. The legal definition of how much can be squeezed out is becoming a political issue pulling national governments, the IMF, ECB and other financial agencies ...

EU: Class War Declared

Concentration of financial power in non-democratic hands is inherent in the way that Europe’s centralized planning in financial hands was achieved in the first place. The European Central Bank has no elected government behind it that can levy taxes. The EU constitution prevents the ECB from bailing out governments

EU: Politics Financialized, Economies Privatized

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Breakup of the euro? Is Iceland's rejection of financial bullying a model for Greece and Ireland? This article is an excerpt from Prof. Hudson’s upcoming book, “Debts that Can’t be Paid, Won’t Be,” to be published later this year. Last month Iceland voted against submitting to British and Dutch demands that it compensate their national bank insurance agencies for bailing out their own domestic Icesave depositors. This was the second vote against settlement (by a ratio of 3:2), and Icelandic support for membership in the Eurozone has fallen to just 30 percent. The feeling is that European politics are being run for the benefit of bankers, not the social democracy that Iceland imagined was the guiding philosophy – as indeed it was when ...

Why Iceland Voted 'No'

About 75% of Iceland’s voters turned out on Saturday to reject the Social Democratic-Green government’s proposal to pay $5.2 billion to the British and Dutch bank insurance agencies for the Landsbanki-Icesave collapse. Every one of Iceland’s six electoral districts voted in the “No” column – by a national margin of 60% (down from 93% in January 2010). The vote reflected widespread belief that government negotiators had not been vigorous in pleading Iceland’s legal case. The situation is reminiscent of World War I’s Inter-Ally war debt tangle. Lloyd George described the negotiations between U.S. Treasury Secretary Andrew ...

Will Iceland Vote “No” or commit financial suicide?

A landmark fight is occurring this Saturday, April 9. Icelanders will vote on whether to subject their economy to decades of poverty, bankruptcy and emigration of their work force. At least, that is the program supported by the existing Social Democratic-Green coalition government in urging a “Yes” vote on the Icesave bailout. Their financial surrender policy endorses the European Central Bank’s lobbying for the neoliberal deregulation that led to the real estate bubble and debt leveraging, as if it were a success story rather than the road to national debt peonage. The reality was an enormous banking fraud, an orgy of insider dealing as bank managers lent the money to themselves, leaving an empty shell – and then saying ...

Norway's Sovereign Wealth Risk Vortex

What does Norway get out of its Oil Fund, if not More Strategic Infrastructure Investment? For the past generation Norway has supplied Europe and other regions with oil, taking payment in euros or dollars. It then sends nearly all this foreign exchange abroad, sequestering its oil-export receipts – which are in foreign currency – in the Oil Fund, to invest mainly in European and U.S. stocks and bonds. The fund now exceeds $500+ billion, second in the world to that of Abu Dhabi. What do Norwegians get out of these financial savings, besides a modest interest and dividend yield? The export surplus is said to be too large to spend more than a small fraction (a Procrustean 4 percent) at home without ...