by ilene - November 28th, 2010 6:07 am
Courtesy of Michael Hudson
Tax-Avoidance – The Worst is Yet to Come
“Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me.”
“The Rich Boy,” by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The 30-year campaign of the wealthy to rig our economic system – especially the tax component – for their own benefit will accelerate with the GOP capture of the House of Representatives and the likely capture of the presidency and Senate in two years. For a foreshadowing of what is to come, a dress rehearsal has been conducted in Latvia, Iceland, Ireland and other financially strapped countries. Latvia has been burdened with the world’s most regressive tax system, while Iceland and Ireland have become record setters in tapping taxpayers to bail out financial crime syndicates, a.k.a. banks.
The Irish bailout will encumber its people with perhaps as much debt as a $9 trillion bailout would be here in the United States. The Irish also are expected to also gut unemployment insurance, their minimum wage and similar social safety nets while boosting interest rates and home property taxes to pay tribute to the European creditor agencies that have “rescued” them. They will relinquish ownership of much of Ireland to their creditors, capped by ownership of government policy-making. The new banks will be owned by foreigners, who will put Ireland on a debt treadmill to transfer its taxable surplus to mainland Europe and Britain.
Just as the U.S. taxpayer saved Goldman Sachs and the other high rollers from taking a loss, the Irish are being forced to “socialize” (that is, oligarchize) the losses of the banks. Think of how the Federal Reserve gave the banks 100 cents on the dollar for the some $2 trillion of toxic assets they took off the books of the banks and you get a sense of how the Irish bailout money will be used. It will keep the banks and creditors whole.
Bad banking is going unpunished. Shareholders, bondholders, large depositors and bank executives are not facing constraints on moral hazard. The European Central Bank (ECB) has cleaned up their mess, enabling and their wealth to grow on its trajectory as before – at the price of impoverishing the non-financial parts of society. Every effort will be made to re-inflate the property bubble putting off the day of reckoning. Taxes – like accountability – are for what Leona Helmsley referred…
by ilene - October 29th, 2010 3:18 am
Courtesy of Gordon T Long of Tipping Points
In September 2008 the US came to a fork in the road. The Public Policy decision to not seize the banks, to not place them in bankruptcy court with the government acting as the Debtor-in-Possession (DIP), to not split them up by selling off the assets to successful and solvent entities, set the world on the path to global currency wars.
By lowering interest rates and effectively guaranteeing a weak dollar through undisciplined fiscal policy, the US ignited an almost riskless global US$ Carry Trade and triggered an uncontrolled Currency War with the mercantilist, export driven Asian economies. We are now debasing the US dollar with reckless spending and money printing with the policies of Quantitative Easing (QE) and the expectations of QE II. Both are nothing more than effectively defaulting on our obligations to sound money policy and a “strong US$”. Meanwhile with a straight face we deny that this is our intention.
It’s called debase, default and deny.
Though prior to the 2008 financial crisis our largest banks had become casino like speculators with public money lacking in fiduciary responsibility, our elected officials bailed them out. Our leadership placed America and the world unknowingly (knowingly?) on a preordained destructive path because it was politically expedient and the easiest way out of a difficult predicament. By kicking the can down the road our political leadership, like the banks, avoided their fiduciary responsibility. Similar to a parent wanting to be liked and a friend to their children they avoided the difficult discipline that is required at certain critical moments in life. The discipline to make America swallow a needed pill. The discipline to ask Americans to accept a period of intense adjustment. A period that by now would be starting to show signs of success versus the abyss we now find ourselves staring into. A future that is now significantly worse and with potentially fatal pain still to come.
Unemployed Americans, the casualties of the financial crisis wrought by the banks, witness the same banks declaring record earnings while these banks refuse to lend. When the banks once more are caught with their fingers in the cookie jar with falsified robo-signing mortgage title fraud, they again look for the compliant parent to look the other way. Meanwhile the US debt levels and spending associated with protecting these failed…
by ilene - September 23rd, 2010 9:40 pm
and Keep Its Economic Surplus for Itself
Courtesy of Michael Hudson
CDES Conference, Brasilia, September 17, 2010
I would like to place this seminar’s topic, ‘Global Governance,’in the context of global control, which is what ‘governance’ is mainly about. The word (from Latin gubernari, cognate to the Greek root kyber) means ‘steering’. The question is, toward what goal is the world economy steering?
That obviously depends on who is doing the steering. It almost always has been the most powerful nations that organize the world in ways that transfer income and property to themselves. From the Roman Empire through modern Europe such transfers took mainly the form of military seizure and tribute. The Norman conquerors endowed themselves as a landed aristocracy extracting rent from the populace, as did the Nordic conquerors of France and other countries. Europe later took resources by colonial conquest, increasingly via local client oligarchies.
The post-1945 mode of global integration has outlived its early promise. It has become exploitative rather than supportive of capital investment, public infrastructure and living standards.
In the sphere of trade, countries need to rebuild their self-sufficiency in food grains and other basic needs. In the financial sphere, the ability of banks to create credit (loans) at almost no cost on their computer keyboards has led North America and Europe to become debt ridden, and now seeks to move into Brazil and other BRIC countries by financing buyouts or lending against their natural resources, real estate, basic infrastructure and industry. Speculators, arbitrageurs and financial institutions using “free money” see these economies as easy pickings. But by obliging countries to defend themselves financially, their predatory credit creation is ending the era of free capital movements.
Does Brazil really need inflows of foreign credit for domestic spending when it can create this at home? Foreign lending ends up in its central bank, which invests its reserves in US Treasury and Euro bonds that yield low returns and whose international value is likely to decline against the BRIC currencies. So accepting credit and buyout “capital inflows” from the North provides a “free lunch” for key-currency issuers of dollars and Euros, but does not help local economies much.
The natural history of debt and financialization
by ilene - September 3rd, 2010 5:04 pm
Courtesy of MICHAEL HUDSON, writing at CounterPunch
What is the difference between today’s economy and Lehman Brothers just before it collapsed in September 2008? Should Lehman, the economy, Wall Street – or none of the above – be bailed out of bad mortgage debt? How did the Fed and Treasury decide which Wall Street firms to save – and how do they decide whether or not to save U.S. companies, personal mortgage debtors, states and cities from bankruptcy and insolvency today? Why did it start by saving the richest financial institutions, leaving the “real” economy locked in debt deflation?
Stated another way, why was Lehman the only Wall Street firm permitted to go under? How does the logic that Washington used in its case compare to how it is treating the economy at large? Why bail out Wall Street – whose managers are rich enough not to need to spend their gains – and not the quarter of U.S. homeowners unfortunate enough also to suffer “negative equity” but not qualify for the help that the officials they elect gave to Wall Street’s winners by enabling Bear Stearns, A.I.G., Countrywide Financial and other gamblers to pay their bad debts?
There was disagreement last Wednesday at the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission now plodding along through its post mortem hearings on the causes of Wall Street’s autumn 2008 collapse and ensuing bailout. Federal Reserve economists argue that the economy – and Wall Street firms apart from Lehman – merely had a liquidity problem, a temporary failure to find buyers for its junk mortgages. By contrast, Lehman had a more deep-seated “balance sheet” problem: negative equity. A taxpayer bailout would have been an utter waste, not recoverable.
Lehman CEO Dick Fuld is bitter. He claims that Lehman was unfairly singled out. After all, the Fed lent $29 billion to help JPMorgan Chase buy out Bear Stearns the preceding spring. In the wake of Lehman’s failure it seemed to gain the courage to say, “Never again,” and avoided new collapses by bailing out A.I.G. – saving all its counterparties from having to take a loss.
Was this not a giveaway? Fuld implied. Why couldn’t the Fed and Treasury do for Lehman what they did with other Wall Street investment firms and stock brokers: let it reclassify itself as a bank so it could pawn off…
by ilene - July 4th, 2010 1:07 pm
Courtesy of Michael Hudson
by ilene - June 20th, 2010 8:58 am
Terrific weekend reading with Eric at iTulip interviewing Michael Hudson.
Michael Hudson is Distinguished Research Professor of Economics at University of Missouri, Kansas City (UMKC), a Wall Street Analyst, consultant, and president of The Institute for the Study of Long-term Economic Trends (ISLET). He is also Chief Economic Advisor to the Reform Task Force Latvia (RTFL) and author of America’s Protectionist Takeoff and Super Imperialism – New Edition: The Origin and Fundamentals of U.S. World Dominance . His website is michael-hudson.com.
Based on an interview with Eric Janszen of iTulip
Courtesy of Michael Hudson
On April 10, 2010 I caught up with Michael Hudson and he was in rare form. Readers know that my personal view is that much of the right wing of the political spectrum doesn’t know what the problem is and all of the left wing, while nailing the problem, doesn’t know how to solve it. No one is too left wing or too right wing to get an interview here.
Interviewer (EJ): Thank you for your time this morning.
Hudson (MH): Glad to be here.
EJ: It’s been a while since I’ve interviewed you so let’s have a wide-ranging discussion today. I want to include your Thursday Financial Times article on the fate of the ex-Soviet debtor nations, the Bank of International Settlement report I sent you on New Europe and other industrialized debtors, and China, and see where it goes. Let’s start with the BIS report.
MH: I skimmed through it quickly, and it’s the same class war junk economics that the Peterson Institute for International Economics (the lobbyist for international banks) and other neoliberal (that is, anti-labor and pro-financial) lobbying organizations have mounted against public obligations to any parties but the Finance, Insurance and Real Estate (FIRE) sector. The aim is to prepare the ground for President Obama’s recently appointed “bipartisan” commission to scale back Social Security and Medicare.
The argument is that these two programs need to be pre-funded, with savings levied regressively in advance, to promote a balanced federal budget. The effect would be to prevent fiscal policy from providing the growth in money and credit that economies need. This would all be provided by private-sector banks – at interest. So recent focus…
by ilene - June 20th, 2010 2:25 am
Excellent interview by Guns & Butter with Dr. Michael Hudson on Europe’s Financial Class War Against Labor, Industry and Government. - Ilene
Interview with Dr. Michael Hudson
"Europe’s Financial Class War Against Labor, Industry and Government" with Dr. Michael Hudson. Economic crisis in Europe created by predatory lending; European Central Bank stranglehold on the Eurozone; the Euro; foreign banks decimate Greece’s social structure; Marx’s industrial capital versus fictitious capital; Latvia as a model for the rest of Europe; Hudson’s financial and fiscal plan for Latvia; the Cold War and its ruinous effect on progressive economic thought. Guns & Butter.