Monday, December 8, 2014

Capitalism is crazy

Capitalism is crazy.
NY Times documents how a company is destroyed sending jobs overseas.  California Teachers Retirement System is part of the destroyer team.
Timken Steel of Canton Ohio.
…If he can’t, or if another company comes along with an offer too rich to refuse, Mr. Timken acknowledges what many in Canton would rather not say out loud. “If the number is big enough, the board is going to have to look at it and say, ‘Ugh, O.K., unless you can show me a plan that’s better than that, we’re going to take it,’ ” he said. “We’re a publicly traded company.”
As in all publicly traded companies, TimkenSteel’s board and top executives have a fiduciary duty to shareholders to maximize both profits and investor returns. For many companies in the region, that has meant cutting costs and moving production to places where labor is cheaper. Goodyear Tire & Rubber, for example, was founded in nearby Akron in 1898, but Goodyear hasn’t made regular tires in the onetime rubber capital of the world in more than three decades….
“The professor said we’d all be bankers and consultants and lawyers and health care professionals,” Mr. Timken recalled. “There’s a role for those people, but the ripple effect of manufacturing is dramatically higher than the ripple effect of banking. It creates wealth. And countries that have let it slip away have suffered.”

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Full Show: The Long, Dark Shadows of Plutocracy | Moyers & Company |

Full Show: The Long, Dark Shadows of Plutocracy | Moyers & Company |

Capital in the Twenty-First Century- A Review

 Capital, Kapital, and the Continuing Struggle  By Bill Barclay
Capital in the Twenty-First Century
By Thomas Piketty
What can you say about a book that has been reviewed dozens of times, was a New York Times best seller for three weeks, led to numerous book discussion groups, and has been a cultural phenomenon? You can say that Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century (here­after Capital) is worth the fuss. It has brought what socialists have known for a long time to the wider public.
Pushing Paradigm Change
In the last 40 years, the dominant paradigm in economics has been that of Friedrich Hayek’s “catal­laxy,” defi ned as “the
order brought about by the mutual adjust­ment of many indi­vidual economies in a market.” Translation: unregulated markets will eventually work out to the benefit of all. In support of that para­digm, Nobel Prize win­ner Robert Lucas has argued that “of the ten­dencies that are harm­ful to sound economics, the most seductive, and in my opinion the most poisonous, is to focus on
questions of distribu­tion...” And focusing on distribution is exactly what Piketty does. He analyzes the distribution of income and wealth and their determinants for the past 250 years to show that unregulated capitalism is making the rich richer and the rest of us poorer. This will not come as a surprise to those who have been paying attention. What’s new is that our economic and po­litical elites have taken notice, some favorably (Paul Krugman), others less so (the Wall Street Journal editorial board). Some whose praise we might not expect argue that the book raises important ques­tions (the World Bank’s Branko Milanovic). But none are ignoring it.
A major reason for the recognition, grudging or otherwise, of Capital, is its popular reception. Every­where, individuals, discussion groups, and meetups have been reading and talking about the book—or at least part of it. One analysis maintains that most people reading electronic versions of Capital do not get past page 26, but you can learn a lot from those pages.
A significant part of the cultural phenomenon is a matter of timing, but here luck and hard work rein­force each other. Although Occupy is given the credit for popularizing the 1% versus 99% meme fi rst artic­ulated by economist Joseph Stiglitz, it is Piketty and his colleague Emmanuel Saez who have been doing most of the heavy lifting, with more than a decade of work on income concentration. The combination resulted in what an economist might call a virtuous circle: Piketty and Saez labor in (relative) obscurity
to increase focus on the
top 1%, Occupy’s archi­tects use their work in a mass mobilization, and Piketty publishes a book that further opens the door for new politi­cal thinking and orga­nizing around the prob­lem of inequality.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Wall Street is Taking Over our Pensions

Wall Street is Taking Over America's Pension Plans
Portside Date: 
December 1, 2014
Murtaza Hussain 
Date of Source: 
Thursday, November 20, 2014
The Intercept
Coverage of the midterm elections has, understandably, focused on the shift in political power from Democrats toward Republicans. But behind the scenes, another major story has been playing out. Wall Street spent upwards of $300M [1] to influence the election results. And a key part of its agenda has been a plan to move more and more of the $3 trillion dollars in unguarded government pension funds into privately managed, high-fee investments — a shift that may well constitute the biggest financial story of our generation that you’ve never heard of.
Illinois, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island all recently elected governors [2] who were previously executives and directors at firms which managed investments on behalf of state pension funds. These firms are now, consequently, in position to obtain even more of these public funds. This alone represents a huge payoff on that $300M investment made by the financial industry, and is likely to result in more pension money going into investments which offer great benefits for Wall Street but do little for the broader economy.