Monday, December 30, 2013

Austerity is the Problem- Paul Krugman

Fiscal Fever Breaks

In 2012 President Obama, ever hopeful that reason would prevail, predicted that his re-election would finally break the G.O.P.’s “fever.” It didn’t.
But the intransigence of the right wasn’t the only disease troubling America’s body politic in 2012. We were also suffering from fiscal fever: the insistence by virtually the entire political and media establishment that budget deficits were our most important and urgent economic problem, even though the federal government could borrow at incredibly low interest rates. Instead of talking about mass unemployment and soaring inequality, Washington was almost exclusively focused on the alleged need to slash spending (which would worsen the jobs crisis) and hack away at the social safety net (which would worsen inequality).
So the good news is that this fever, unlike the fever of the Tea Party, has finally broken.
True, the fiscal scolds are still out there, and still getting worshipful treatment from some news organizations. As the Columbia Journalism Review recently noted, many reporters retain the habit of “treating deficit-cutting as a non-ideological objective while portraying other points of view as partisan or political.” But the scolds are no longer able to define the bounds of respectable opinion. For example, when the usual suspects recently piled on Senator Elizabeth Warren over her call for an expansion of Social Security, they clearly ended up enhancing her stature.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Everything Is Rigged: The Biggest Price-Fixing Scandal Ever

Everything Is Rigged: The Biggest Price-Fixing Scandal Ever

The Illuminati were amateurs. The second huge financial scandal of the year reveals the real international conspiracy: There's no price the big banks can't fix

Matt Taibbi

Thursday, December 5, 2013

What can you do? - immediate steps

14.  Things you and I can do to turn this state around after seeing Inside Job and taking this seminar.
1.     Vote against the candidates preaching  austerity.

2.     Vote for the funding of public education. See.
3.     Search for progressive democrats. Search for candidates honestly discussing the economy.  You can use social security as a test case.
4.     Talk to your neighbors about the issues.
5.     Shut off Fox News.
6.     Move your money to a credit union or a local bank.
7.     Join a union.  Or, a union support group.,
8.     Sit quietly for 10 minutes per day. Shut off all radio, TV, telephone. Think about additional ways to promote economic democracy.
9.     Copy this list.  Give it to friends, neighbors, colleagues. ( do not send via e mail. Personally give it to them).

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Schedule update

Nov.14. Our schedule for the seminar  this semester is filling up.- It is full. I therefor request that each presentation on the chapters be 20 minutes rather than 30.  I will be cutting other topics to get to the end of the semester.= such as the role of organized labor.
I tried to send this by email, but the group e mail function would not work.
See the post below for an update on Krugman. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Krugman- The Mutilated Economy

The Mutilated Economy

Five years and eleven months have now passed since the U.S. economy entered recession. Officially, that recession ended in the middle of 2009, but nobody would argue that we’ve had anything like a full recovery. Official unemployment remains high, and it would be much higher if so many people hadn’t dropped out of the labor force. Long-term unemployment — the number of people who have been out of work for six months or more — is four times what it was before the recession.
These dry numbers translate into millions of human tragedies — homes lost, careers destroyed, young people who can’t get their lives started. And many people have pleaded all along for policies that put job creation front and center. Their pleas have, however, been drowned out by the voices of conventional prudence. We can’t spend more money on jobs, say these voices, because that would mean more debt. We can’t even hire unemployed workers and put idle savings to work building roads, tunnels, schools. Never mind the short run, we have to think about the future!
The bitter irony, then, is that it turns out that by failing to address unemployment, we have, in fact, been sacrificing the future, too. What passes these days for sound policy is in fact a form of economic self-mutilation, which will cripple America for many years to come. Or so say researchers from the Federal Reserve, and I’m sorry to say that I believe them.

Pension Theft Crime Wave | Labor Notes

Pension Theft Crime Wave | Labor Notes

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Corporate Lobbyists and the Trans Pacific Partnership

Bill Moyers: The Corporate Plot That Obama and Corporate Lobbyists Don't Want You to Know About
The Trans Pacific Partnership is a threat to up-end the economy as we know it.

Photo Credit:  November 1, 2013  |  Alternet.
 A US-led trade deal is currently being negotiated that could increase the price of prescription drugs, weaken financial regulations and even allow partner countries to challenge American laws. But few know its substance.
The pact, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), is deliberately shrouded in secrecy, a trade deal powerful people, including President Obama, don’t want you to know about. More than 130 members of Congress have asked the White House for greater transparency about the negotiations and were essentially told to go fly a kite. While most of us are in the dark about the contents of the deal, which Obama aims to seal by year end, corporate lobbyists are in the know about what it contains.

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And some vigilant independent watchdogs are tracking the negotiations with sources they trust, including Dean Baker and Yves Smith, who join Moyers & Company this week. Both have written extensively about the TPP and tell Bill the pact actually has very little to do with free trade.
Instead, says Dean Baker, co-director of the  Center for Economic and Policy Research, “This really is a deal that’s being negotiated by corporations for corporations and any benefit it provides to the bulk of the population of this country will be purely incidental.” Yves Smith, an investment banking expert who runs the  Naked Capitalism blog adds: “There would be no reason to keep it so secret if it was in the interest of the public.”

The following is a transcript of the video: 
Let's turn now to another big story ... TPP -- the Trans-Pacific Partnership. It’s a trade agreement the United States is negotiating with Australia, Canada, Japan and eight other countries in the Pacific region. If you don't know about the TPP, and few do, it's because the powerful people behind it -- including President Obama -- don't want you to know.
The negotiations are shrouded in secrecy, and once they are completed, Obama wants to rush the agreement through Congress -- fast-tracking, they call it -- with our elected representatives given the choice only of voting it up or down. Last year, over 130 members of Congress asked the White House for more transparency about what's being negotiated, and were essentially told to go fly a kite. You can be sure of this, however: a select group of corporate partners -- companies like General Electric, Goldman Sachs, and Pfizer, the pharmaceutical giant -- are not likely to be in the dark. Players like these stand to be the real beneficiaries of the agreement, because like other so-called "free trade" agreements, TPP actually will reward those at the top, even as it creates rules to override domestic laws on the environment, workplace safety, and investment. Corporate lobbyists already are lining up in Washington to ram the agreement through once the White House hurries it out of the delivery room. How do we know this? Because some vigilant independent watchdogs are tracking the negotiations, with sources they trust, and two are with me now.
YVES SMITH is an expert on investment banking and the founder of Aurora Advisors, a New York based management consulting firm. She runs the “Naked Capitalism” blog, a go-to site for information and insight on the business and ethics of finance.

DEAN BAKER is co-director of the progressive Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, DC. He's been a senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute and a consultant to Congress and the World Bank. I rarely miss his blog, “Beat the Press,” and I’m a regular reader of his column in the “Guardian” newspaper.

The Legislative Attack on American Wages and Labor Standards, 2011–2012 | Economic Policy Institute

The Legislative Attack on American Wages and Labor Standards, 2011–2012 | Economic Policy Institute
The state-by-state pattern of public employment cuts, pension rollbacks, and union busting makes little sense from an economic standpoint. But it becomes much more intelligible when understood as a political phenomenon.
As previously noted, in November 2010, 11 states gave Republicans new monopoly control over their state government, putting them in charge of both houses of the legislature as well as the governor’s office. These historic gains were part of the Tea Party–inspired “wave” election that, at the federal level, saw the GOP regain control of the U.S. House of Representatives. They also reflected the impact of unlimited corporate spending, as the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision overturned restrictions on campaign spending at the state as well as federal levels. In Wisconsin, for instance, long-standing restrictions that limited corporate political spending were ruled invalid. As a result, the 2010 elections were the most expensive in the state’s history, with money flooding in from out-of-state business interests.15The officials who took office in January 2011 represented the first crop of legislators elected under the new rules of unlimited spending.

Much of the most dramatic legislation since 2011 has been concentrated in these 11 states. Particularly in states such as Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, which have traditionally upheld high labor standards, the 2010 election provided a critical opportunity for corporate lobbies to advance legislative goals that had long lingered on wish lists. Where Republicans found themselves in total control of states whose statutes had been shaped by a history of strong labor movements, employer associations and corporate lobbyists were eager to seize on this rare and possibly temporary authority to enact as much of their agenda as possible.

Why is the U.S. cutting the social safety net ? Reich

Robert Reich

Friday, November 1, 2013

House Passes Deregulation Bill Written by Citigroup

House Passes Deregulation Bill Written by Citigroup

Richard Wolff- Capitalism's withdrawal

Economist Richard Wolff.
U.S. Political dysfunction and Capitalism's Withdrawal ( from the U.S.)

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Financial Transaction Tax

Targeting Wall Street, Robin Hood Tax Comes to Washington
Portside Date: 
October 30, 2013
Karen Higgins
Date of Source: 
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Common Dreams
With Congress about to begin the next cycle of budget battles – mostly focused on how much more pain to inflict on Main Street communities across America – a far different message is bubbling up across the land.
Activists from across the land gathered in Washington October 29 to step up what has become an increasingly vocal demand for a change of priorities and tone – with a call to expand the revenue pie with a tax on Wall Street speculation, the Robin Hood tax.
“The fire in this room will light up the sky for a lot of people,” said Larry Hanley, international president of the Amalgamated Transit Union surveying the room in the closing session of an action conference for the Robin Hood Tax campaign.
“We have a revenue crisis, and we know where the money is, it’s on Wall Street.” –George Goehl, National People’s Action

The myth about what caused the financial crisis.

The myth about what caused the financial crisis.
Krugman in his book calls it The Big Lie.  Here is Senator Elizabeth Warren.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Corporations and the corporate state

Our Invisible Revolution

By Chris Hedges
“Did you ever ask yourself how it happens that government and capitalism continue to exist in spite of all the evil and trouble they are causing in the world?” the anarchist Alexander Berkman wrote in his essay “The Idea Is the Thing.” “If you did, then your answer must have been that it is because the people support those institutions, and that they support them because they believe in them.”
Berkman was right. As long as most citizens believe in the ideas that justify global capitalism, the private and state institutions that serve our corporate masters are unassailable. When these ideas are shattered, the institutions that buttress the ruling class deflate and collapse. The battle of ideas is percolating below the surface. It is a battle the corporate state is steadily losing. An increasing number of Americans are getting it. They know that we have been stripped of political power. They recognize that we have been shorn of our most basic and cherished civil liberties, and live under the gaze of the most intrusive security and surveillance apparatus in human history. Half the country lives in poverty. Many of the rest of us, if the corporate state is not overthrown, will join them. These truths are no longer hidden.
It appears that political ferment is dormant in the United States. This is incorrect. The ideas that sustain the corporate state are swiftly losing their efficacy across the political spectrum. The ideas that are rising to take their place, however, are inchoate. The right has retreated into Christian fascism and a celebration of the gun culture. The left, knocked off balance by decades of fierce state repression in the name of anti-communism, is struggling to rebuild and define itself. Popular revulsion for the ruling elite, however, is nearly universal. It is a question of which ideas will capture the public’s imagination.

Thursday, October 17, 2013


Guidelines for dialogue in the seminar

<EXT><P>Dialogue: Seminar on the Economic Crisis. 2013.</P>
<P>I search for basic agreements.</P>
<P>I search for strengths in your position.</P>
<P>I reflect on my position.</P>
<P>I consider the possibility of finding a better solution than mine or yours.</P>
<P>I assume that many people have a piece of the answer.</P>
<P>I want to find common ground.</P>
<P>I submit my best thinking hoping your reflection will improve it.</P>
<P>I remain open to talk about the subject later on.</P>
<P>I search for glaring differences.</P>
<P>I search for weaknesses in your position.</P>
<P>I attack your position.
I denigrate you and your position. </P>
<P>I defend my solution and exclude yours.</P>
<P>I am invested wholeheartedly in my beliefs.</P>
<P>I assume there is one right answer, and that I have it.</P>
<P>I want to win.</P>
<P>I submit my best thinking and defend it to show it is right.</P>
<P>I expect to settle this here and now.
I seek to silence those who disagree with my position. </P></EXT></BOX>
Adapted from, Choosing Democracy: a practical guide to multicultural education.  4th. edition. Duane Campbell.  2010.  Allyn and Bacon. <QSET><TTL>AdAdapted

Course Reading List

The Economic Crisis: Sources
Gar Alperovitz, America Beyond Capitalism: Reclaiming Our Wealth, Our Liberty, and Our Democracy.  (2005) John Wiley and Sons
Barofsky, Neil, Bailout: An Inside Account of How Washington Abandoned Main Street While Rescuing Wall Street. ( 2012)
 Baker, Dean.   Plunder and Blunder: The Rise and Fall of the Bubble Economy, (2009)
Barlett, Donald L., and Steele, James B., The Betrayal of the American Dream.  (2012).
Black, William, The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One.
Bivens, Josh,  Failure by Design, The Story Behind America’s Broken Economy. 2011.
Campbell, Duane.  Choosing Democracy: a practical guide to multicultural education. (2010)
Center for Popular Economics, Economics for the 99%.  July 2012.
Edelman, Peter,  So Rich, So Poor. Why it’s so hard to End Poverty in America.  2012.
Engler, Mark. How to Rule the World: The coming battle over the Global Economy. (2008)
Ferguson, Charles H. , Predator Nation; Corporate Criminals, Political Corruption, and the Hijacking of America. 2012.  The background for Inside Job.
Frank, Thomas,  Pity the Billionaire: The Hard Times Swindle and the Unlikely Comeback of the Right.  Metropolitan Books. (2012.)
Friedman, Thomas & Michael Mandelbaum, That Used to be US : How American Fell Behind in the World and How We Can Come Back. 2011.
 Fox, Justin.  The Myth of the Rational Market: a History of Risk, Reward, and Delusion on Wall Street. (2009)
Faux, Jeff.  The Global Class War: How America’s Bipartisan Elite Lost Our Future- and What It Will Take to Win It Back. ( 2006)
Johnson, Simon and James Kwak,   13 Bankers : The Wall Street Takeover and the next Financial Meltdown. 2010.
Galbraith, John K.  The Predator State.  2008.
Harvey, David. The Enigma of Capital and the Crisis of Capitalism.  (2010)
Hedges, Chris, & Sacco, Joe,  Days of Destruction: Days of Revolt. (2012)
Henry, James. The Price of Off Shore Revisited.  Tax Justice Network. July 2012.
 Krugman, Paul. The Return of Depression Economics and the Crisis of 2008.  (2009)
Krugman, Paul, End this Depression Now. 2012.
Kuttner, Robert.  A Presidency in Peril: The Inside Story of Obama’s Promise, Wall Street’s Power, and the struggle to control our economic future. 2010.
Levison, Andrew, The White Working Class Today: Who They Are, How They Think, and How Progressives Can Regain Their Support.  2013.
Lewis, Michael,  The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine. 2010.
McChesney, Robert W. , Digital Disconnect: How Capitalism Is Turning the Internet Against Democracy. (2013)
Miner, Barbara,  Lessons from the Heartland: A Turbulent Half-Century of Public Education in an Iconic American City. (2013.)
National Commission on the Causes of the Financial Crisis.  The Financial Crisis Inquiry Report. 2011.
 Prins,Nomi.  It Takes a Pillage: Behind the Bailouts, Bonuses and Backroom Deals from Washington to  Wall Street. (2009)
Smith, Yves,  Econed: How Unenlightened Self Interest Undermined Democracy and Corrupted Capitalism.  2010.
Stiglitz. Joseph.  Free Fall, America, Free markets, and the Shrinking World Economy.  (2010)
Some on line resources on the economy,
Baseline Scenario.
Chicago Political Economy Group.
Economic Policy Institute.
United for a Fair Economy.
Center for Economic and Policy Research.
Naked Capitalism.
New Deal.
To calculate the benefits that the rich in your state received from the Obama/Republican compromise.   Citizens for Tax Justice.
New Economic Perspectives.

Revised seminar reading list

Course Outline.
There will be changes to this list as the course develops. Updated 9/20/13
Sept 6
Introduction to course
Video- Inside Job,
Sept. 13
The economic crisis
Krugman, Chapter 1

How bad are things?
The bubble. Depression economics
Krugman 2
Sept 27
Bankers.  Was it criminal?
Inequality is.  Reich.
Krugman 3.-4.
Oct 4.
What about Glass-Steagall?
Inequality.- lecture.
Krugman 5
Presentation; Failure of Laisse Faire Capitalism
Oct 11
The Bail Out. 
Money, Power and Wall Street.  “The Untouchables”, Inequality.
Krugman 6
Use Stiglitz.
Presentation; Civil v. criminal law
Oct. 18
Efficient Markets hypothesis
Bob Curry : International economics
Krugman 7
Presentation: Stockman: the Great Deformation
No class

Administration policy
The retirement crisis
Social Security
Richard Wolff.

Krugman 8-9
Guest speaker
Alternative policies.
Trade, labor, The Koch brothers . 

Krugman  8-9
Nov 15
Immigration, Political stalemate.
Is Obama a socialist ?
Krugman  10-11
Pete Martineau
Nov 22
The corporation. Richard Wolf.
Krugman 12
Nov 28
No seminar

Dec.  6
Final seminar
Krugman 13
Please refer to our class blog.
For more information. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Krugman. The Shut Down

The Boehner Bunglers
The federal government is shut down, we’re about to hit the debt ceiling (with disastrous economic consequences), and no resolution is in sight. How did this happen?
   The main answer, which only the most pathologically “balanced” reporting can deny, is the radicalization of the Republican Party. As Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein put it last year in their book, “It’s Even Worse Than It Looks,” the G.O.P. has become “an insurgent outlier — ideologically extreme; contemptuous of the inherited social and economic policy regime; scornful of compromise; unpersuaded by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.”