A debt Jubilee for America?

by Paul Craig Roberts As school children my friends and I were very interested in archaeology and ancient civilizations. We read all the available books. My best friend intended to become an archaeologist and to explore ancient ruins about which we imagined more than we actually knew. As far as I can discern these days no one in the general population has any thoughts of Sumer, Babylonia, Assyria, Ur. For the American young the 1940s, not 2,500 BC, is the ancient past. A time so long ago that it predates the Old Testament by 2,000 years is probably imagined as a brutal and politically incorrect time of inhumanity and human sacrifice. In short, a script for a horror fantasy movie or a video game. In actual fact, these civilizations were ...

Up in Arms

The Delphic Oracle Was Their Davos: A Four-Part Interview With Michael Hudson: A New “Reality Economics” Curriculum Is Needed (Part 4) Cross-posted from Naked Capitalism By John Siman, who is also the author of Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 in this series John Siman: I want to spell out the implications of the points that Socrates brought up, and with which you and I agree. That leaves the question facing us today: Is the American oligarchy and state as rapacious as that of Rome? Or is it universally the nature of oligarchy in any historical setting to be rapacious? And if so, where is it all leading? Michael Hudson: If Antiquity had followed the “free market” policies of modern neoliberal economics, the Near East, Greece and Rome would never have ...

The DNA of Western civilization is financially unstable

The Delphic Oracle Was Their Davos: A Four-Part Interview With Michael Hudson: (Part 3) Cross-posted from Naked Capitalism By John Siman, who is also the author of Part 1 and Part 2 in this series John Siman: It seems that unless there’s a Hammurabi-style “divine king” or some elected civic regulatory authority, oligarchies will arise and exploit their societies as much as they can, while trying to prevent the victimized economy from defending itself. Michael Hudson: Near Eastern rulers kept credit and land ownership subordinate to the aim of maintaining overall growth and balance. They prevented creditors from turning citizens into indebted clients obliged to work off their debts instead of serving in the military, providing corvée labor and paying crop rents or other fees to the palatial sector. JS: So looking at history ...

Mixed economies and monopoly

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The Delphic Oracle Was Their Davos: A Four-Part Interview With Michael Hudson: Mixed Economies Today, Compared To Those Of Antiquity (Part 2) John Siman: Could you define what you mean by a mixed economy? Michael Hudson: There are many degrees of how “mixed” an economy will be — meaning in practice, how active its government sector will be in regulating markets, prices and credit, and investing in public infrastructure. In the 20th century’s Progressive Era a century ago, a “mixed economy” meant keeping natural monopolies in the public sector: transportation, the post office, education, health care, and so forth. The aim was to save the economy from monopoly rent by a either direct public ownership or government regulation to prevent price gouging by monopolies. The kind of “mixed economy” envisioned by Adam Smith, John ...

The Delphic Oracle as their Davos

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A Four-Part Interview With Michael Hudson About His Forthcoming Book The Collapse of Antiquity (Part 1) Cross-Posted from Naked Capitalism. By John Siman Note: Michael Hudson published … and forgive them their debts: Lending, Foreclosure, and Redemption From Bronze Age Finance to the Jubilee Year in November of last year. It is the first volume in what will be a trilogy on the long history of the tyranny of debt. I have interviewed him extensively as he writes the second volume, The Collapse of Antiquity. John Siman: Michael, in the first volume of your history of debt — "… and forgive them their debts", dealing with the Bronze Age Near East, Judaism and early Christianity — you showed how over thousands of years, going back to the invention of interest-bearing loans in Mesopotamia in ...

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 ...

Palatial Credit: Origins of Money and Interest

Origins of Money and Interest: Palatial Credit, not Barter Neolithic and Bronze Age economies operated mainly on credit. Because of the time gap between planting and harvesting, few payments were made at the time of purchase. When Babylonians went to the local alehouse, they did not pay by carrying grain around in their pockets. They ran up a tab to be settled at harvest time on the threshing floor. The ale women who ran these “pubs” would then pay most of this grain to the palace for consignments advanced to them during the crop year. These payments were financial in character, not on-the-spot barter-type exchange. As a means of payment, the early use of monetized grain and silver was mainly to settle such debts. This monetization was not physical; it was administrative ...

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 ...