World Financial Crisis Part 3

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DrConway
World Financial Crisis Part 3

Continued from here

DrConway

So. Shockingly, the IMF has tepidly endorsed controlling capital flows but insist all the usual Washington Consensus policy tools are OK for the job over a longer term.

Those terrible Chinese! How dare they insulate their economy and stimulate domestic spending! (Isn't that what Sweden and other countries tried to do during the Great Depression? Well shame on them, too. Never mind that Sweden recovered its 1929 industrial output by 1934. :P )

Dani Rodrik's article is a nice one. :)

The occasion was Brazil's decision to impose a 2% tax on short-term capital inflows to prevent a speculative bubble and further appreciation of its currency. When asked about the role of capital controls, Strauss-Kahn said he was not wedded to any rigid ideology on the subject. Nonetheless, according to the Financial Times which reported the IMF chief's views, "the IMF would not recommend them as a standard prescription either - as they carried costs and were usually ineffective." Unfortunately, this makes the new IMF sound too much like the old one.

Never mind that Malaysia slammed down controls over capital flows in 1998 and while the speculators whined and moaned about it, that country got on with the business of reflating its economy and putting everything back on an even keel.

Also: YAY! Brazil just imposed a financial transactions tax of 2% on all inbound and outbound flows. Eat that, USA! :P

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

Fred Magdoff and Michael Yates over at Monthly Review have written a book about the economic crisis. I think it's probably fair to say that the crisis is not merely a financial one, what with the huge job losses and so on. Anywy, the book by Magdoff and Yates is called The ABC's of the Economic Crisis: what working people need to know.

Here are some of the comments ...

Quote:
The economic crisis has created a host of problems for working people: collapsing wages, lost jobs, ruined pensions, and the anxiety that comes with not knowing what tomorrow will bring. Compounding all this is a lack of reliable information that speaks to the realities of workers. Commentators and pundits seem more confused than anyone, and economists-the so-called "experts"-still cling to bankrupt ideologies that failed to predict the crisis and offer nothing to explain it.

In this short, clear, and concise book, Fred Magdoff and Michael D. Yates explain the nature of the economic crisis. Contrary to conventional wisdom, the authors demonstrate that this crisis is not some aberration from a normally benign capitalism but rather the normal and even expected outcome of a thoroughly irrational and destructive system. No amount of tinkering with capitalism, whether it be discredited neoliberalism or the return of Keynesianism and a "new" New Deal, can overcome the core contradiction of the system: the daily exploitation and degradation of the majority of the world's people by a tiny minority of business owners.

... This book is aimed primarily at working people, students, and activists, who want not just to understand the world but to change it.

That last sentence is a good one.

They also have a SERIES of essays for reading on the Global Economic Meltdown over here. Reading the essays on political economy over the last year or two at MR, as well as picking up a copy of The Great Financial Crisis, has been very helpful in clarifying a lot of issues for me.

 

==============================================

 

Of course, we should not forget the materials from the CCPA - one of the supporting organizations of rabble. For example, there is the piece on The Global Economic Crisis and the Candian Dimensions by Bruce Campbell. On the whole, however, the theoretical focus of Monthly Review differs from the nuts and bolts approach of the CCPA. It's all good.

===============================================

Incidently, I found an Indian sister magazine to Monthly Review called Analytic Monthly Review. They have a good summary of (orthodox) economic thinking over the past decades and how we're come to the current impasse. It is also good reading. I've misplaced the link, however.

 

 

NDPP

Red Alert: The Second Wave:

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=16218

Worst Case Scenario: How to Prepare for Potential Global Collapse:

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=16171

Doug

Demonstrating once again that no good turn is left unpunished, American banks needing to come up with money to repay that portion of aid to them that was repayable are expanding the amount of work they outsource to India.

 

India may get $1 billion in outsourcing contracts

Doug

The public will not bail out the financial services sector for a second time if another global crisis blows up in four or five years time, the managing-director of the International Monetary Fund warned this morning.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn told the CBI annual conference of business leaders that another huge call on public finances by the financial services sector would not be tolerated by the “man in the street” and could even threaten democracy.

 

Well, it's less that it wouldn't be tolerated and more that there is just no way for most governments now to afford a second bailout even if they want to. This is why leaving financial regulation unreformed is such a danger, because if things go wrong again any time in the near future we go directly to Depression.

Fidel

[url=http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=16218] Red Alert: The Second Wave of The Financial Tsunami[/url] The Wave Is gathering force & could hit between the first & second quarter of 2010

Quote:
In a report to its clients, Société Générale warned that public debt would be massive in the next two years - 105 per cent of GDP in the UK, 125 per cent in the US and in Europe and 270 per cent in Japan. Global debt would reach US$45 trillion.

At some point in time, all these debts must be repaid. How will these debts be repaid?

If we go by what Bernanke has been preaching and practising, it means more toilet paper currency will be created to repay the debts.

As a result, debasement of currencies will continue and this will further aggravate existing tensions between the competing economies. And when creditors have enough of this toilet paper scam, expect violent reactions!

Matthius Chang on the toilet paper scam.

Doug

Now this is less of a result of a bad economy and more of possibly misplaced spending to prop it up. China has a new city - trouble is, it's almost empty.

 

China's empty city

NDPP

Dubai, DuBubble, DuBurst:

http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2009/11/dububble-duburst.html

"You know about Dubai's economic crisis. But do you know the background to - and fallout from...?"

We are all Palestinians Now

"The same ideology that brought carnage on Iraq and Palestine is the same ideology that makes you lose your home tomorrow.."

http://www.gilad.co.uk/writings/we-are-all-palestinians-now-by-maidhc-o-...

Fidel

Doug wrote:

Now this is less of a result of a bad economy and more of possibly misplaced spending to prop it up. China has a new city - trouble is, it's almost empty.

China's empty city

American commentator said: "Who wants to be the mayor of a city in China and report that he didn't achieve eight percent growth?"

Ya! Like US and Canadian city mayors are tripping over themselves to report eight percent growth, like a every day!

It's in the Mongolian hinterland region. I've read that they build one new city like that one about every two or three weeks in China. Eight percent? WTF? When have we ever had eight percent growth in the Northern Puerto Rico here?

NorthReport

Every day more hits on the system - how much more can it take. 

General Motors chief executive resigns sending shockwaves through industry

Fritz Henderson departs eight months after predecessor Rick Wagoner was fired by the Obama administration

 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2009/dec/01/general-motors-fritz-henderson-resigns

NorthReport

Now I hear Greece is having financial trouble - will they be next on the hit list? 

The new Iceland? Greece fights to rein in debt

Fears of default grow as years of profligacy come home to roost

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2009/nov/30/greece-iceland-debt

 

 

NorthReport

Manufacturing slowdown confounds City

• Purchasing managers' index shows output fell in November
• Export orders grow but domestic demand remains weak

 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2009/dec/01/manufacturing-slowdown-november

NorthReport

Well if the capitalist system can't sustain itself economically, there is only one thing left to do. Hasn't that been our pattern?  

NorthReport

Here we go again.
Who will be next?
Markets fret over Greece debt woes

 

Greece was jolted on Tuesday by the downgrading of its debt rating to the lowest level in the euro zone as worries grow about its public finances, driving bank shares, bonds and the euro down in its wake.

The financial blow came as the government struggled to calm two days of youth riots on the anniversary of the police shooting of a 15-year-old boy last year that triggered widespread violence fuelled by anger over the economy.

Citing a fiscal deterioration, Fitch Ratings cut Greek debt to BBB+ with a negative outlook, the first time in 10 years a major ratings agency has put Greece below an A grade.

Two other agencies, Moody's and Standard and Poor's, have put its credit outlook on negative watch due to a debt mountain forecast to hit 125 per cent of gross domestic product next year, making it proportionately the most indebted member of the 16-member currency bloc.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/markets-fret-over-gree...

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

Working people may be hurting, but it's a GOLDEN AGE FOR CANADIAN BANKS AS PROFITS SOAR.  That's capitalism for ya.

sandstone

taxpayers bailing banks... the new 'capitalism' displaying socialism in a favourable light... our 'conservatives' on a perpetual bender while the mainstream media pimps propaganda for them...

Doug
NorthReport

Will tumbling natural gas prices fell oil as well?

 

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/blogs/bureau-blog/is-liberal-caucus-disci...

NorthReport

Is Russia next on the s*** list?

 

Bad bank loans a threat to Russia: S&P

 

 

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/bad-bank-loans-a-threa...

Fidel

[url=http://michael-hudson.com/]Michael Hudson[/url] said about neo-socialism for the rich in 2008:

 

Quote:
"This is not industrial capitalism; it is asset stripping. The closest analogy I can think of would be to give the Mafia free reign to start a new crime wave "in the taxpayers' interest" so as to raise enough money to pay its fines to the Justice Department. Imagine how our world would look like if the economy had been turned over to Al Capone as head political capo and to Mafia financial manager Meyer Lansky as Treasury Secretary in the 1930s, with the pyramid schemer Carlo Ponzi heading the Federal Reserve and bank robber Willie Sutton as Attorney General."

 

The bailout money to banks could have funded another 50 years of social security, or socialized medicine for all Americans. But handing government powers to Wall Street is economic suicide.

Fidel

[url=http://www.montrealgazette.com/business/early+pull+plug+stimulus+spendin... early to pull plug on stimulus spending: Flaherty[/url]

 

Translation: We'd like to put the economy on its ass and drive the country into a debt hole as a favour to banksters and international creditors, like Mulroney and Chretien did before us. But this plan seems to be incompatible with democracy at the moment, and as well, at cross purposes with our chances for election to a phony-baloney majority next time around.

Frustrated Mess Frustrated Mess's picture

Just finished reading this: http://www.amazon.ca/exec/obidos/ASIN/0771046065/flatwave-20

Very good.  In a nutshell, globalization is dead.

Doug

I like this game!

Whack-a-banker

 

NDPP

Drug Money Saved Banks in Global Crisis Claims UN Advisor:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/global/2009/dec/13/drug-money-banks-saved-un-c...

"Drugs and Crime Chief says $35BN in Criminal Proceeds was effectively laundered by financial institutions.."

Fidel

[url=http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=16572]Congressman Ron Paul's "Free Competition in Currency Act" Won't Solve the Problem But Still Raises Vital Issues[/url]

Gotta hand it to lunatic rightwing fringe. They're at least trying.

NDPP

Afghanistan, Drugs and Bank Bailouts

http://redioactive.blogspot.com/2009/12/afghanistan-drugs-bank-bailouts....

"Ever wonder where some of the bank bailout money came from...?"

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

The following is from an interview in Amandla. The title is "A Failed Economy".

J B Foster wrote:
As a general rule, if an economic crisis is extremely severe, as in the present downturn, we can say that long-term forces are at work, going beyond what are considered the normal, short-term fluctuations associated with the business cycle. What then are the long-term forces operating in this case? This was the question at the center of our book The Great Financial Crisis. I think we can talk of three, possibly four: the concentration and centralization of production (or monopolization), secular economic slowdown (or stagnation), and dependence on financial bubbles (or financialization). Globalization is another, even longer-term, factor, indistinguishable from the expansion of capitalism itself.

As Foster points out, one of his predecessors as editor of Monthly Review, the late Paul Sweezy (1910-2004), was perhaps the best to outline the new role of the financial bubbles and the "symbiotic relationship" between stagnation and financialization.

Quote:
Foster: Deepening stagnation is now so clearly evident that even orthodox economics in its cocoon can't ignore it. Few believe in the efficient market hypothesis, which presented finance as inherently rational, any more. It is understood that financialization is unstable and capable of bringing down the whole economy. Neoliberalism, the notion of a self-regulating market, has taken some big hits...

... the leading capitalist states and their central banks seem to think they have no alternative but to reestablish the financialization regime. This is the dilemma of monopoly-finance capital. There is no alternative within the system, all attempts at system change are decried by the vested interests. The likelihood is that the present contradictions of the capitalist economy will therefore simply get worse. This is a failed economy, judged from the standpoint of the rational use of resources and the meeting of human needs.

 

Plenty more, including remarks on Galbraith's (the younger) new book, The Predator State, etc.

 

Fidel

Sounds like a good book. JBF has written excellent analysis on the latest crisis of capitalism. One analyst on the crisis pointed out recently that Obama's regulations are a good step in the right general direction, but he said that it does not go nearly far enough. The US senate has a chance to beef up the recently proposed regulations. But something he said everyone is concerned about are credit default swaps, or CDS. I wasn't exactly sure what they are, but the same financial analyst likens CDS to life insurance. If someone dies under mysterious circumstances, and there is a life insurance payout as a result, then the beneficiaries usually become prime suspects in a possible murder case. Not so with banks and other financial institutions. They are able to bet against other banks and are not typically investigated for working to cause another bank to collapse in the event that it happens. It's totally predatory and legal.

And there are something like $600 trillion in derivatives floating around the world. This is a going concern for masters of the universe in banking and finance right now. If derivatives markets fail, it would thoroughly collapse the western financial system far worse than it has since 2008. Apparently the problem in the US right now is that banks don't want to lend to small business or average Americans. They want little to do with supporting economic recovery at local levels. They just want to gamble bigger and better in global stocks and bonds and derivatives markets. That's where the big money is as far as they are concerned still.

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

There is also the following ...

 

 

... and the preface and first 2 chapters can be found OVER HERE.

Doug
Doug

Best argument for banning CDOs I've seen -

The research focused on collateralized debt obligations, or CDOs, an investment tool that combines many mortgages with the promise of spreading out and lowering the risk of default. The team examined what would happen if a seller knew that some mortgages were "lemons" and structured a package of CDOs to benefit himself. They found that the manipulation may be impossible for buyers to detect either at time of sale or later when the derivative loses money.

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

Thing is, those that were in the position to make the decision about whether such financial instruments should be allowed or not were bound to approve them ... because they were among the means used to help "investors" out of the last bubble that popped. I mean the dot com bubble around the year 2000.

The problem is not simply regulation, or re-regulation, of the system. Of course it would help, for a time, until the de-regulation fever seized the neo-conservatives again. No, the problem is the system of capitalist political economy, in which there is now so much capital chasing fewer and fewer opportunities for the high returns that the addicts took to inventing such worthless financial instruments in the first place.

The sooner people are clear about what the problem is, the sooner they can solve it. And the solution to this monstrous system that is now threatening the Planet itself is being constructed in places like Venezeuela, Bolivia and Cuba - full of problems to be sure - and what their political leaders are saying should be looked at carefully by those who genuinely want our political and economic problems to be solved.

NorthReport

Will ya take a look at that apple stock - people will pay for quality it seems.

NorthReport

At least someone is creating good jobs for their workers. If Harper had his way Canadian ships would probably be built there as well.

Putin estimates $5bln for shipbuilding in Russian Far East by 2020

http://en.rian.ru/business/20091228/157399626.html

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

Interestingly, Russia Today is available on my local cable network. I heard nothing about the addition of RT to the subscription, but from the web stuff that I've seen, it's very good indeed.

NorthReport

Here's a good idea - let's do this in Canada as well.

 

Move Your Money: A New Year's Resolution

guy cybershy

NorthReport wrote:

Here's a good idea - let's do this in Canada as well.

 

Move Your Money: A New Year's Resolution

  An excellent idea and one that might really catch on.

Doug

No unemployment insurance, no welfare, just food stamps - American welfare "reform" fails to cope with recession

 

With food-stamp use at a record high and surging by the day, Ms. Bermudez belongs to an overlooked subgroup that is growing especially fast: recipients with no cash income.

About six million Americans receiving food stamps report they have no other income, according to an analysis of state data collected by The New York Times.

NDPP

The US and China

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article24310.htm

"One side is winning, the other is losing.."

Fidel

[url=http://www.mobygames.com/game/dos/oligopoly/cover-art/gameCoverId,44679/... - (1987) runs on dos. Family game for 2-6 players

A PC-based game produced in 1987, the same year derivatives markets were created. Never played it myself. Has anyone? Anyone at all?

===

 

[url=http://www.huffingtonpost.com/huff-tv/arianna-calls-out-kudlow_b_408480.... Calls Out Kudlow For Dow '50,000' Prediction, Urges People To Ditch Bailed Out Banks (VIDEO)[/url]

 

...and for Americans to put savings into smaller community banks

 

siamdave

I've had a quick look through these three threads, and although there are a couple of related comments, I don't see any attempt at talking about what I think is the actual, root cause of the world financial cirsis, and lesser parts of it such as the problems we are having in Canada - 'we' supposedly democratic people are allowing private businesses to create and control our money. Prior to the 70s there were some limits on this money creation, both through regulation and the limitations of how money got around, but since the 70s, the period when the current neocon ascendency got underway seriously, the banks have gotten themselves almost entirely deregulated (by 'we the people' - they still face certain limits from their own international banking groups), and also the means available for money to get around electronically have exploded with electronic banking and the internet. And now we have a situation in Canada where some 95% of our 'money', mostly electronic, is created by commercial banks with no real oversight from 'our' government, and all else follows - massive government debt, systemic inflation as we pay interest on effectively our entire money supply every year, falling living standards etc as workers' incomes never keep up with inflation. A somewhat longer exploration of the whole issue in a recent essay I have written here - What Happened? http://www.rudemacedon.ca/what-happened.html

Fidel

I agree, SiamDave. Canada's Leo Panitch recently quoted Willem Buiter(LSE-CitiBank) as saying there is no need for banks to be private, for-profit seeking entities. Private banks cannot exist without public deposit insurance and central banks as lenders of last resort anyway. Buiter says banking should be brought under public control and used to finance public interests.

Meanwhile... [url=http://www.theledger.com/article/20100109/NEWS/1105048/1178?Title=Gasoli... Post writers predict oil to reach $100 dollars a barrel[/url]

Some even predict $200/bbl. And our genuses have handed US car companies $16 billion Canadian taxpayer dollars to bailout an uncompetitive car industry in North America. There will be a lot fewer people driving if prices of gasoline soar out of sight as a result. Our central planners in Ottawa and Toronto would have done better to invest in railway and commuter train expansions,.

India is using Russian Antonov cargo planes to transport railway equipment from Germany to India for a massive expansion of rail transport services in that country. The centre of gravity has already shifted to Asia and Pacific countries while North American economies remain mired in stagnationm rampant corruption and lacking new ideas among old line political parties in power for far too long.

 

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

The money supply,  and even the issue of having the central banks under democratic public control, doesn't address the fact that the current financial meltdown had its roots in the PREVIOUS dot com meltdown back in 2000. And that meltdown had its roots in previous crises; it was a remedy to them. The whole system, and having too much capital chasing too few "opportunities", has led to this. The whole system is rotten, and that is not simply a banking or regulatory issue. The additional environmental crises are also, in a related but different way, pointing to insoluble contradictions as well.

Capitalism as a socio-economic system is a failure and the most important message is to get across to people, as clearly and as convincingly as possible, is that another world is possible. I'm happy to call the alternative socialism but who cares, really, what the alternative is called? The clock, after all, is ticking ...

Fidel

N.Beltov wrote:
Capitalism as a socio-economic system is a failure and the most important message is to get across to people, as clearly and as convincingly as possible, is that another world is possible. I'm happy to call the alternative socialism but who cares, really, what the alternative is called? The clock, after all, is ticking ...

 Ideologues in the US and Canada care very much what it's called. The US has used nationalisations of various industries before to cover up  a number of market failures in the recent past and doing so today. They would never call it socialism though, and the nationalisations have never lasted for very long in between market failures.

 

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

If the nationalizations are a rescue FOR capitalist firms, and the intention is to restore private property as quickly as possible, then the democratic or socialist aspects are lost. Marx even wrote, 150 years ago, about the creation of a level playing field for capitalists by nationalizing all of the land; he noted, however, that the EXAMPLE of nationalizing would set a bad precedent (from the bourgeois point of view) and, therefore, wouldn't happen except as an exception.

There's been a lot of water under the bridge since Marx. We look at the actual content of the nationalization, who's in charge, is it being run to mimic a capitalist firm, etc., etc., and it's obviously our duty as socialists to draw attention to the actual content. Just look at how neo-cons govern in general; it's like foxes in charge of the hen house. They do their level best to undermine the financial and ideological foundations of the (democratic) state'; they make war on such a state from the position of power within the state.

siamdave

N.Beltov wrote:

The money supply,  and even the issue of having the central banks under democratic public control, doesn't address the fact that the current financial meltdown had its roots in the PREVIOUS dot com meltdown back in 2000. And that meltdown had its roots in previous crises; it was a remedy to them. The whole system, and having too much capital chasing too few "opportunities", has led to this. The whole system is rotten, and that is not simply a banking or regulatory issue. The additional environmental crises are also, in a related but different way, pointing to insoluble contradictions as well. 

- actually, it does - the 2000 meltdown could not have happened if banks were not creating money far in excess of what the actual 'wealth creation' in the country justified, and you can keep taking this back. Bubbles happen because banks create too much money - bubbles do not happen because people take money out of socks, or shift money from one asset to another - bubbles happen because a gang of speculators decide to engage in some asset inflation, and the banks are in on the act. No money, no asset inflation. And if money creation is confined to government, or at least much more strictly controlled, these things would stop.

Quote:

Capitalism as a socio-economic system is a failure and the most important message is to get across to people, as clearly and as convincingly as possible, is that another world is possible. I'm happy to call the alternative socialism but who cares, really, what the alternative is called? The clock, after all, is ticking ...

- well, at the risk of arousing ire and claims of promoting my own writing, that is exactly the reason I wrote a book called Green Island, to show how an alternative, very much NON-capitalist society would work. I don't see any other books out there like this, and I believe that it could be a powerful tool for helping people understand what is wrong with capitalism, and how things could be done much better for us all. Green Island http://www.rudemacedon.ca/greenisland.html

Fidel

[url=http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=17053]Wall Street’s Power Grab[/url] 
The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission Hearings  

Quote:
You almost could hear the bankers heave a sigh of relief when Haiti’s earthquake knocked the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission hearings off the front pages and evening news broadcasts last week. At stake, after all, is Wall Street’s power grab seeking to centralize policy control firmly in its own hands by neutralizing the government’s regulatory agencies. The first day – Wednesday, January 15 – went innocuously enough. Four emperors of finance were called on to voice ceremonial platitudes and pro forma apologies without explaining what they might be apologizing for. Typical was the statement by Goldman Sachs chairman Lloyd C. Blankfein: “Whatever we did, it didn’t work out well. We regret the consequence that people have lost money.” [...]

Avoiding regulation by having the Fed “regulate,” with neoliberal deregulators in charge...

I laughed when Hudson described Wall Street capitalists as parasitic of the real economy in one of his essays from 2003. The fat-cats are in charge, and it doesn't look good for average Americans. 

Fidel

[url=http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=17225]VIDEO:  USA is Bankrupt, Quit Buying Bombs or We're Done[/url] Ron Paul

It's amazing how this politician and others speak the way they do in Congress, and yet Pentagon capitalism continues. It's even more obvious today that what they have is a kleptocracy. And Canada's economic wagon of fortunes has been lashed to this? God help us.

 

NorthReport

Supposedly the safest investment around, gold is now a bubble - hilarious!

 

All those Wall Street socialists must be the cause of it. Laughing

Davos 2010: George Soros warns gold is now the 'ultimate bubble'
Gold is now "the ultimate bubble", billionaire investor George Soros has declared, sparking fears that prices for the precious metal may soon suffer a tumble.

 

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financetopics/davos/7085504/Davos-201...

Doug

Here's one reason why the employment situation in the US is likely to be weak for quite some time. Most of the jobs that have been lost are just gone - these employers won't be rehiring when sales improve.

The Growing Underclass: Jobs Gone Forever

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