Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The top charts of 2015

The top charts of 2015

Keys to the economic situation.

The Melting of Social Democracy

Hotshot French economist Thomas Piketty, of the Paris School of Economics, looked at the major democracies with North Atlantic coastlines over the past couple of centuries. He saw five striking facts: First, ownership of private wealth—with its power to command resources, dictate where and how people would work, and shape politics—was always highly concentrated. Second, 150 years—six generations—ago, the ratio of a country’s total private wealth to its total annual income was about six. Third, 50 years—two generations—ago, that capital-income ratio was about three. Fourth, over the past two generations that capital-income ratio has been rising rapidly. Fifth, the flow of income to the owner of the dollar capital did not rise when capital was relatively scarce, but plodded along at a typical net rate of profit of about 5% per year generation after generation. He wondered what these facts predicted for the shape of the major North Atlantic economies in the 21st century. And so he wrote a big book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, that was published last year.

Friday, December 18, 2015

The Big Short - The Financial Crisis

Paul Krugman
In May 2009 Congress created a special commission to examine the causes of the financial crisis. The idea was to emulate the celebrated Pecora Commission of the 1930s, which used careful historical analysis to help craft regulations that gave America two generations of financial stability.
But some members of the new commission had a different goal. George Santayana famously remarked that “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” What he didn’t point out was that some people want to repeat the past — and that such people have an interest in making sure that we don’t remember what happened, or that we remember it wrong.

                  Sure enough, some commission members sought to block consideration of any historical account that might support efforts to rein in runaway bankers. As one of those members, Peter Wallison of the American Enterprise Institute, wrote to a fellow Republican on the commission, it was important that what they said “not undermine the ability of the new House G.O.P. to modify or repeal Dodd-Frank,” the financial regulations introduced in 2010. Never mind what really happened; the party line, literally, required telling stories that would help Wall Street do it all over again.
Which brings me to a new movie the enemies of financial regulation really, really don’t want you to see.
The Big Short” is based on the Michael Lewis book of the same name, one of the few real best-sellers to emerge from the financial crisis. I saw an early screening, and I think it does a terrific job of making Wall Street skulduggery entertaining, of exploiting the inherent black humor of how it went down.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Creamer: Dems Must Unite Against New Effort to End Unions | Democratic Strategist

Creamer: Dems Must Unite Against New Effort to End Unions | Democratic Strategist

News Reports Give 284 Minutes to Trump, 10 to Sanders

A new report finds the flagship news programs at major networks NBCCBS and ABC have dedicated 234 minutes this year to stories about Donald Trump—compared to just 10 minutes for Democratic presidential candidate Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. The gap comes despite Trump and Sanders often having similar levels of support in primary polls. The Tyndall Report found ABC’s World News Tonight, for example, has devoted 81 minutes to Trump campaign stories—and less than one minute to Sanders, for the entire year.
Dec. 15, 2015.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Donald Trump is Dangerous to Democracy

Choosing Democracy: Donald Trump is Dangerous to Democracy: Donald J. Trump called on Monday for the United States to bar all Muslims from entering the country until the nation’s leaders can “figure ...

Monday, December 7, 2015

Income inequality Happens by Design.

We Can't Fix It by Tweaking Capitalism

Income Inequality is form of Child Abuse
Portside Date: 
December 6, 2015
Steven W Thrasher
Date of Source: 
Saturday, December 5, 2015
The Guardian
The economic hoarding by those at the top has been termed “income inequality”, but that’s neither a strong nor accurate enough phrasing. I have never heard poor people complain about “income inequality”; poor people complain about being screwed out of housing [1] , or about working more hours for less pay [2] or about having to choose between medicine and food [3].
“Inequality” sounds like something that happens by accident and can be remedied by fiddling around the edges. It is not as if the rich are a little more equal and the poor a little less equal, and if we shift a bit we’ll all come out in the middle. What we’ve been calling “income inequality” might be better understood as a war waged by US political and economic policy on the poor.
A new report from the Institute for Policy Studies [4] issued this week analyzed the Forbes list of the 400 richest Americans [5] and found that “the wealthiest 100 households now own about as much wealth as the entire African American population in the United States”. That means that 100 families – most of whom are white – have as much wealth as the 41,000,000 black folks [6] walking around the country (and the million or so [7] locked up) combined.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

A Transition Economy- for Workers

A Superfund for Workers


Jeremy Brecher
Date of Source: 
Sunday, November 15, 2015
Dollars and Sense
When the Dominion Corporation proposed, On April 1, 2013, to build a liquefied natural gas export facility at Cove Point, Md., right on the Chesapeake Bay, seven hundred people demonstrated against it and many were arrested in a series of civil disobedience actions. But an open letter endorsing the project maintained it would “create more than 3,000 construction jobs” most of which would go “to local union members.” The letter—on Dominion letterhead—was signed not only by business leaders, but also by twenty local and national trade union leaders.
Similarly, in the struggle over the Keystone XL pipeline, pipeline proponents were quick to seize on the “jobs issue” and tout support from building trades unions and eventually the AFL-CIO. In a press release titled “U.S. Chamber Calls Politically-Charged Decision to Deny Keystone a Job Killer,” the Chamber said President Obama’s denial of the Keystone permit was “sacrificing tens of thousands of good-paying American jobs in the short term, and many more than that in the long term.”
The media repeat the jobs vs. environment frame again and again: an NPR headline on Keystone was typical of many: “Pipeline Decision Pits Jobs Against Environment.” A similar dynamic has marked the “beyond coal” campaign, the fracking battle, and the struggle for EPA regulation of greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.
Is there a persuasive answer to the charge that climate protection policies are job-killers? A common environmentalist response has been that environmental protection produces far more jobs than it eliminates. EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson explained, “environmental protection creates jobs—1.7 million of them as of 2008.” It is true that, on balance, environmental policies usually create jobs (see box, “Jobs: Clean Energy vs. Fossil Fuels”); unfortunately, this is of little comfort to the small number of workers in fossil-fuel producing and using industries who are likely to lose their jobs as a result of climate protection policies, including coal miners, power-plant workers, and oil refinery workers. And such workers can rapidly become Fox News poster children for the threat posed to workers by climate protection.
Fortunately, a strategy has been emerging to protect workers and communities whose livelihoods may be threatened by climate protection policies. Protecting those who lose their jobs due to necessary environmental policies has often been referred to as a “just transition,” a phrase popularized by labor and environmental leader Tony Mazzocchi of the Oil, Chemical, and Atomic Workers union (now merged with the Steelworkers) in the 1990s. (More recently, the term “just transition” is often being used in a broader way to include not only justice for workers and communities adversely affected by environmental policies, but the inclusion of broader social justice objectives within environmental policies.)