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2016 Theme #5: The Systemic Failure of High Finance

2016 Theme #5: The Systemic Failure of High Finance

This week I am addressing themes I see playing out in 2016.

A number of systemic, structural forces are intersecting in 2016. One is the failure of high finance to fix the global economy’s systemic problems.

The operative conceit of the past 7 years has been that high finance can fix whatever’s broken in the world’s economies. According to this narrative, all the world needed to boost “growth,” employment and profits was lower interest rates, more liquidity, reverse repos and some other fancy financial footwork.

Once all this high finance generated more borrowing by debt-serfs, property developers, students, corporations buying back their shares and financiers skimming billions from asset bubbles, systemic problems would be dissolved or mitigated.

Cheap credit, asset bubbles and immense profiteering by financiers would heal all wounds and make everything better for everyone, even those at the bottom layer of the economy.

Unfortunately, this isn’t true. High finance and cheap credit have intensified structural problems such as rising inequality, not resolved them.

The implicit promise of the neoliberal project is that liberalizing private-sector markets and credit will magically grease the processes of growth and widespread prosperity.

When economies have the right systems in place–decentralized, somewhat free markets, an entrepreneurial spirit, many unmet needs, idle productive capacity and a credit-starved real economy–freeing up static markets and credit can unleash the productive capacity of the bottom level of the economy.

But in economies dominated by state/private monopolies and cartels, neoliberalism simply funnels the profits of financialization to the few at the expense of the many, and at the cost of heightened instability and insecurity.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The War on Cash: Transparently Totalitarian

The War on Cash: Transparently Totalitarian

George Orwell once wrote “If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—forever.”

Not exactly a cheery thought, and one I don’t agree with.

While the forces pushing for centralization of power have been prevailing for decades, they haven’t won a total victory yet. Technologies that empower the individual and that tend toward decentralization—including the Internet, encryption, 3D printing, and cryptocurrencies—offer a powerful ray of hope, reasons to be optimistic about the future.

So the tug of war between the collectivists and the rest of us continues.

One thing that would tip the scales heavily in favor of the collectivists would be victory in the War on Cash. Their goal is to eliminate the use of hand-to-hand currency, so that governments can document, control, and tax everything.

It’s exactly like what Ron Paul said: “The cashless society is the IRS’s dream: total knowledge of, and control over, the finances of every single American.”

One way they are waging the War on Cash is to lower the threshold at which reporting a cash transaction is mandatory or at which paying in cash is simply illegal. In just the last few years…

  • Italy made cash transactions over €1,000 illegal;
  • Switzerland has proposed banning cash payments in excess of 100,000 francs;
  • Russia banned cash transactions over $10,000;
  • Spain banned cash transactions over €2,500;
  • Mexico made cash payments of more than 200,000 pesos illegal;
  • Uruguay banned cash transactions over $5,000; and
  • France made cash transactions over €1,000 illegal, down from the previous limit of €3,000.

I recently spoke about this with Dr. Joe Salerno, an Austrian economist with the Mises Institute. Joe is the best chronicler of the global War on Cash and is here to offer an Austrian rebuttal to the economic nonsense peddled by advocates of this war.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Cuba is Using Cooperatives to Decentralize its Economy

Cuba is Using Cooperatives to Decentralize its Economy

With the recent announcement that the US will normalize relations with Cuba, change is in the air for the island country. Just a few years before this, Cuba began shifting its economy from state-controlled enterprises to citizen-controlled cooperatives.

Worker cooperatives are nothing new in Cuba. Agricultural coops, which are responsible for 70 percent of the country’s farmed land, are a key part of the state’s subsidized food system. Until recently, however, worker coops were not found in other sectors of the economy. But in 2011, the Cuban Sixth Communist Party Congress approved a set of economic reform goals called the “Guidelines on Economic and Social Policy for the Party and the Revolution.” It contained 313 measures including the following actions:

  • Dramatically increase nonstate sector employment of the labor force
  • Encourage large-scale private sector business opportunities
  • Allow for the creation of nonagricultural worker cooperatives for the first time
  • Provide for the use of idle lands in usufruct
  • Decentralize the operation of state enterprises

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

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