Category Archives: Global elites

Meet the Economist Behind the One Percent’s Stealth Takeover of America

To put the success into perspective, MacLean points to the fact that Henry Manne, whom Buchanan was instrumental in hiring, created legal programs for law professors and federal judges which could boast that by 1990 two of every five sitting federal judges had participated. “40 percent of the U.S. federal judiciary,” writes MacLean, “had been treated to a Koch-backed curriculum.”

MacLean illustrates that in South America, Buchanan was able to first truly set his ideas in motion by helping a bare-knuckles dictatorship ensure the permanence of much of the radical transformation it inflicted on a country that had been a beacon of social progress. The historian emphasizes that Buchanan’s role in the disastrous Pinochet government of Chile has been underestimated partly because unlike Milton Friedman, who advertised his activities, Buchanan had the shrewdness to keep his involvement quiet. With his guidance, the military junta deployed public choice economics in the creation of a new constitution, which required balanced budgets and thereby prevented the government from spending to meet public needs.

via Meet the Economist Behind the One Percent’s Stealth Takeover of America


Μια αποκαλυπτική συνέντευξη της Μαρίας Εφίμοβα που λογοκρίθηκε

Όλο εκείνο το διάστημα, η Identity Malta δεν είχε εκδώσει την κάρτα παραμονής μου και η τράπεζα εξακολουθούσε να τo χρησιμοποιεί αυτό.

Στα τέλη του Φεβρουαρίου του 2016, όταν ήμουν ήδη εκεί για 6 βδομάδες, η Pilatus Bank έλαβε επίσημη ειδοποίηση από τη Μονάδα Οικονομικών Αναλύσεων (Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit), που έλεγε ότι οι ερευνητές της θα επισκέπτονταν την τράπεζα για ελεγκτικούς σκοπούς. Μετά από μια-δυο μέρες αφού είχε έρθει αυτό το γράμμα, η υπεύθυνη της τράπεζας για τις προετοιμασίες γνωριμίας με τους πελάτες, τη συνέπεια και τις συναλλαγές, ξαφνικά παραιτήθηκε και έφυγε, χωρίς καν να ενημερώσει. Θεώρησα πως αυτό ήταν ένα κακό σημάδι.

Ο κ. Ghanbari μου ζήτησε να αναλάβω το πόστο της μέχρι η τράπεζα να βρει αντικαταστάτη. Του είπα πως αυτό ήταν αδύνατο, καθώς το συμβόλαιό μου ήταν αυτό ενός εκτελεστικού βοηθού και ένας εκτελεστικός βοηθός δεν θα μπορούσε να γίνει υπεύθυνος για τη θέση της προετοιμασίας γνωριμιών των πελατών, της συνέπειας και της παρακολούθησης των συναλλαγών. Ακόμα δεν είχα πληρωθεί – μου χρωστούσαν μισθό 6 εβδομάδων – και ο κ. Ghanbari μου είπε πως αν ήθελα να δω τα λεφτά μου θα έπρεπε να συμφωνήσω. Ανησύχησα πολύ με αυτή την εξέλιξη.

via Μια αποκαλυπτική συνέντευξη της Μαρίας Εφίμοβα που λογοκρίθηκε

Growth Is Back! So What?

So what should we actually be concerned about? Instead of growth, well-being (human flourishing), resilience (resisting shocks) and sustainability (caring about the future) should become the collective horizons of social cooperation, of which economics is only a facet. Because these three horizons have been overlooked by mainstream economic thinking in the last three decades, our social world has been mismanaged and our prosperity is now threatened by inequality and ecological crises. At its best, economics measures what counts and provides societies with the means to make it count, among the most powerful of which are robust and relevant social and ecological indicators. Building, disseminating, and using them is thus a practical way to reclaim essential values and advance important issues and policies. Done properly, measuring produces positive collective meaning. Understanding how what matters to humans can be properly accounted for is the first step to valuing and taking care of what really counts.

via Growth Is Back! So What?

A Post-Christmas Carol: Scrooge And The Bankers

Private as well as sovereign debts have prevailed in the UK, the US and other advanced capitalist countries for the last three or four decades. Private debt to GDP ratios, according to analysis by Jorda et al. (2014) based upon historical data from BIS, increased from the 50-60 percent range in 17 selected advanced economies by 1980 to 118 percent in 2010.

Mortgage/equity loans) are the chief areas causing private debt, followed by higher education, vehicles and credit cards. Australia, Denmark, the Netherland, the UK and the US experienced a housing-induced boom (see Fernandez and Aalbers, 2016, pp. 75-6). ‘Middle class’ aspiration in post-World War II boosted these high-debt liberalised housing economies. The growth of mortgaged home ownership and steep house price rises as the result of high demand helped the financial sector to grow.

via A Post-Christmas Carol: Scrooge And The Bankers

Bill Mitchell in Helsinki: The Euro Crisis and Austerity – YouTube

Professor William F. Mitchell discusses the theoretical and political background of the austerity policy. Helsinki University 9th October 2015. Mitchell works as a professor of economics at the University of Newcastle, Australia and as a director of the Centre for Full Employment and Equity. Mitchell’s latest book Eurozone Dystopia (2015) traces the origin of the flawed macroeconomic framework that rendered the Eurozone dysfunctional by design. In the book Mitchell lays bare the foundations of neoliberal “groupthink” that has locked the Eurozone into a destructive path towards persistent stagnation and rising social instability.

via Bill Mitchell in Helsinki: The Euro Crisis and Austerity – YouTube

America Is the Richest, and Most Unequal, Nation

The world is awash in personal wealth: $153.2 trillion in total, according to Allianz’s new Global Wealth Report 2015. That’s enough to pay three times the world’s sovereign debt, the debts of each nation. The report, which measured 2014 wealth, found 2014 was the third consecutive year in which global wealth grew more than 7%.

The jump was largely the result of households pumping up their personal savings efforts. The U.S.—with $63.5 trillion in total private wealth—holds the largest amount of any country in the world. But that wealth is unevenly distributed, and nowhere is that more evident than in the U.S., which also has the largest wealth inequality gap of 55 countries studied, according to the report.

via America Is the Richest, and Most Unequal, Nation

Neoliberalism – the ideology at the root of all our problems | Books | The Guardian

Neoliberalism’s triumph also reflects the failure of the left. When laissez-faire economics led to catastrophe in 1929, Keynes devised a comprehensive economic theory to replace it. When Keynesian demand management hit the buffers in the 70s, there was an alternative ready. But when neoliberalism fell apart in 2008 there was … nothing. This is why the zombie walks. The left and centre have produced no new general framework of economic thought for 80 years.

Every invocation of Lord Keynes is an admission of failure. To propose Keynesian solutions to the crises of the 21st century is to ignore three obvious problems. It is hard to mobilise people around old ideas; the flaws exposed in the 70s have not gone away; and, most importantly, they have nothing to say about our gravest predicament: the environmental crisis. Keynesianism works by stimulating consumer demand to promote economic growth. Consumer demand and economic growth are the motors of environmental destruction.

via Neoliberalism – the ideology at the root of all our problems | Books | The Guardian

How the aristocracy preserved their power | News | The Guardian

Behind the beauty of the British aristocracy’s stately homes and the sometimes romantic and eventful lives they led, lies a darker story: a legacy of theft, violence and unrepentant greed.

Historically, the British aristocracy’s defining feature was not a noble aspiration to serve the common weal but a desperate desire for self-advancement. They stole land under the pretence of piety in the early middle ages, they seized it by conquest, they expropriated it from the monasteries and they enclosed it for their private use under the pretence of efficiency. They grasped wealth, corruptly carved out their niche at the pinnacle of society and held on to it with a vice-like grip. They endlessly reinforced their own status and enforced deference on others through ostentatiously exorbitant expenditure on palaces, clothing and jewellery. They laid down a strict set of rules for the rest of society, but lived by a different standard.

via How the aristocracy preserved their power | News | The Guardian

Η Google κατηγορείται ότι χρηματοδοτεί πανεπιστήμια για να υποστηρίζουν τα συμφέροντά της

Εκατομμύρια δολάρια έχει δωρίσει η Google για να «βοηθήσει» το έργο της επιστήμης. Τις αγνές προθέσεις της πανίσχυρης μηχανής αναζήτησης αμφισβητεί το παρατηρητήριο Campaign for Accountability (CfA),το οποίο εδρεύει στις ΗΠΑ.

Τουτέστιν πλήρωνε η Google σε όσους πανεπιστημιακούς δημοσίευσαν έρευνες που ευνοούσαν τα συμφέροντά της και την κυριαρχία της στην αγορά αποκαλύπτει η Wall Street Journal.

Η αμερικανική εφημερίδα φέρνει στο φως ένα δίκτυο καθηγητών σε πανεπιστήμια όπως το Χάρβαρντ και το Μπέρκλεϊ στην Καλιφόρνια, που λάμβαναν χρήματα από την εταιρεία χωρίς, συχνά, να αναφέρουν τις πηγές χρηματοδότησής τους.

via Η Google κατηγορείται ότι χρηματοδοτεί πανεπιστήμια για να υποστηρίζουν τα συμφέροντά της

Αποκαλυπτική έρευνα για τους «τέσσερις μεγάλους» της φοροδιαφυγής

Η διαρροή των Panama Papers αποκάλυψε, αν όχι το ίδιο το γεγονός, την έκταση της φοροδιαφυγής/φοροαποφυγής και του σαθρού καθεστώτος λειτουργίας των φορολογικών παραδείσων, στους οποίους δεν υπάρχει δικαιοδοσία ελέγχου και επιβολής του νόμου. Στα Panama Papers εμπλέκονται μεγιστάνες, πολυεθνικές και εξέχοντα πολιτικά πρόσωπα. Τι γίνεται όμως με αυτούς που τους ελέγχουν; Η παρούσα αποκαλυπτική έρευνα, που στην Ελλάδα δημοσιεύει αποκλειστικά το, παρουσιάζει αποδείξεις για την εμπλοκή σε φορολογικούς παραδείσους και τον αδιαφανή τρόπο λειτουργίας των τεσσάρων μεγαλύτερων εταιρειών ορκωτών λογιστών του κόσμου. Πρόκειται για τις «The Big Four»: Deloitte, PricewaterhouseCoopers ή PwC, EY (μέχρι πρόσφατα Ernst & Young) και KPMG.

via Tvxs Αποκλειστικό: Αποκαλυπτική έρευνα για τους «τέσσερις μεγάλους» της φοροδιαφυγής

All the Plenary’s Men – The case against Banksters

The King can do no wrong.”

—William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England

“When the president does it, that means that it is not illegal.”

—Ex-President Richard Nixon, interview with David Frost

The question at bar is why the U.S. Department of Justice has failed to prosecute any too-big-to-fail banks or—more importantly—their bankers, even for admitted crimes.

It’s a crucial question, because after eight straight years of unremitting prosecutorial failure, it looks very much as if a select group of top banks can, in fact, do no wrong. If that’s the case, then our constitutional republic isn’t merely in trouble. It’s dead.

via All the Plenary’s Men – YouTube

Spineless Social Democracy

What can other parties and countries learn from the experience of Iceland´s Social Democrats? Let me suggest three main lessons.

First, politicians must never lose sight of the need to respect democracy and human rights no matter what because, if they do, their moral authority plummets and public trust will be hard to restore; besides, respect for democracy is the right thing to do.

Second, politicians must not permit themselves to lose control of their destiny by selling their souls to oligarchs as many in the US Congress and the Icelandic Parliament have done, resulting in extremely low levels of public trust in the two legislatures. US congressmen spend three days a week on average raising funds for their re-election which may help to explain why Freedom House has recently demoted the US from top rank as a democracy, below that of most West European countries. Icelandic MPs in rural constituencies have been labelled “politically suicidal” if they rise up against the oligarchs.

Third, when constitutional reform is needed, politicians need to outsource the drafting to nationally elected constituent assemblies to ward off self-dealing as was done in the US in 1787 and in Iceland in 2011. While the US constitution was drafted behind closed doors in Philadelphia, however, the Icelandic one was written up in full view of the public, provision by provision, with significant input from ordinary citizens from all walks of life through the constituent assembly´s interactive website.

In sum, political parties need to be on guard against being perceived to behave like interest organizations of politicians for such perceptions tend to undermine public trust, a fundamental pillar of democracy.

via Spineless Social Democracy

Ντέιβιντ Ρόκφέλερ… πέρα από τις θεωρίες συνωμοσίας

Άκρως συντηρητικός, προωθούσε τις πλέον σκληρές συστημικές μεταρρυθμίσεις μέσα από κάθε «δεξαμενή σκέψης» στην οποία συμμετείχε, όπως την λέσχη Μπίλντερμπεργκ, όπου ήταν μέλος της ηγετικής της ομάδας.
Επίσης, από το 1970 έως το 1980, ήταν επικεφαλής του διευθυντηρίου της αμερικανικής επιτροπής διεθνών σχέσεων, του οποίου διετέλεσε επίτιμος πρόεδρος.

Από τις θέσεις αυτές κινούσε μερικά από τα νήματα της διεθνούς γεωπολιτικής σκακιέρας, έχοντας συναντήσει, επισήμως και μη, πάνω από 200 ηγέτες κρατών, εκπροσώπους πάνω από 100 χωρών και βέβαια είχε στενότατες σχέσεις με τους περισσότερους από τους Αμερικανούς προέδρους.

Θεωρούνταν εκ των σημαντικών «γεφυρών» με την Μόσχα, ενώ, επί της δικής του ηγεσίας η Chase άνοιξε το πρώτο κατάστημά της στην ρωσική πρωτεύουσα.

via Ντέιβιντ Ρόκφέλερ… πέρα από τις θεωρίες συνωμοσίας

Τουσκ: H Ευρωπαϊκή Ένωση αποκαλύπτεται επίσημα ως ολοκληρωτικό μόρφωμα

Από τότε η πολιτική του καριέρα απογειώνεται έως ότου καταλήξει να αναδειχθεί σε πρωθυπουργό της Πολωνίας (2007–2014). Από μια διαβολική σύμπτωση – που ακόμη και σήμερα προβληματίζει την Πολωνική κοινωνία και πολιτική – όντας πρωθυπουργός της χώρας, ο Τουσκ αρνείται να συνοδεύσει τον Πρόεδρο της Πολωνίας, το μεγαλύτερο μέρος του υπουργικού συμβουλίου, τον επικεφαλής της κεντρικής τράπεζας και τους επικεφαλείς των ενόπλων δυνάμεων, αλλά και άλλους κορυφαίους επισήμους της πολιτικής ελίτ της χώρας στο μοιραίο Τουπόλεφ της πολεμικής αεροπορίας που στις 10 Απριλίου 2010, επιχειρώντας να προσεγγίσει το αεροδρόμιο του Σμολένσκ θα καταπέσει.

via ΔΗΜΗΤΡΗΣ ΚΑΖΑΚΗΣ: H Ευρωπαϊκή Ένωση αποκαλύπτεται επίσημα ως ολοκληρωτικό μόρφωμα.

Robert Mercer: the big data billionaire waging war on mainstream media

Another couple of clicks and I discover that it receives a large bulk of its funding – more than $10m in the past decade – from a single source, the hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer. If you follow US politics you may recognise the name. Robert Mercer is the money behind Donald Trump. But then, I will come to learn, Robert Mercer is the money behind an awful lot of things. He was Trump’s single biggest donor. Mercer started backing Ted Cruz, but when he fell out of the presidential race he threw his money – $13.5m of it – behind the Trump campaign.

It’s money he’s made as a result of his career as a brilliant but reclusive computer scientist. He started his career at IBM, where he made what the Association for Computational Linguistics called “revolutionary” breakthroughs in language processing – a science that went on to be key in developing today’s AI – and later became joint CEO of Renaissance Technologies, a hedge fund that makes its money by using algorithms to model and trade on the financial markets.

via Robert Mercer: the big data billionaire waging war on mainstream media | Politics | The Guardian

Stubborn Germans: Stuck In Austerity/Stability

Led by the current and previous federal government under Chancellor Angela Merkel and her CDU, the advocates of a stability union for the most part favour preservation of the status quo of the EMU architecture. The fundamental reasons for the Eurozone crisis are from this angle to be blamed on the failure of the crisis states to stick to existing rules and economic policies, thereby harming their competitiveness. Accordingly, the paramount objective in combating the crisis and further developing the Eurozone has been to correct these purportedly “wrong” policies in these countries and close possible loopholes in the rules. A whole host of measures have been implemented along these lines, from the launch of national debt brakes in the guise of the fiscal compact to stipulating quasi-automatic sanctions with the reversed majority voting in the reformed Stability and Growth Pact. Additionally, structural reforms promoting competition and fiscal consolidation in the Euro Plus Pact and in the European Semester as well as the enforcement of these if necessary within the framework of credit assistance programmes have been brought on the way.

via Stubborn Germans: Stuck In Austerity/Stability

TNI: 29,8 δισ. ευρώ η ζημιά της Ελλάδας από τη διάσωση των ευρωπαϊκών τραπεζών

Σύμφωνα με έρευνα του Transnational Institute (TNI), με έδρα το Αμστερνταμ, οι τέσσερις μεγάλες εταιρείες ορκωτών ελεγκτών PricewaterhouseCoopes, Ernst & Young, Deloitte και KPMG είναι οι μεγάλοι κερδισμένοι από τη διάσωση των ευρωπαϊκών τραπεζών.

Χαμένες είναι οι ίδιες οι χώρες, οι οποίες τους ανέθεσαν την σωτηρία τους και δη με παρότρυνση της EE: η Ελλάδα είχε ζημιές 29,8 δισ. ευρώ, δηλαδή το 10% του συνολικού δημοσίου χρέους της, η Ισπανία 45,5 και η Ιρλανδία 46,6 δισ. ευρώ.

Από την έρευνα, με τίτλο “The Bail Out Business” (“Η επιχείρηση διάσωσης”), προκύπτει ότι οι τέσσερις αυτές εταιρείες αποτελούν ένα ολιγοπώλιο στην Ευρωπαϊκή Ενωση, των οποίων το μερίδιο ανέρχεται στο 60% της αγοράς. Σε χώρες μάλιστα οι οποίες βρίσκονται σε κρίση όπως λ.χ. η Ισπανία και η Ιταλία, το μερίδιό τους ανέρχεται σε 80%.

via TNI: 29,8 δισ. ευρώ η ζημιά της Ελλάδας από τη διάσωση των ευρωπαϊκών τραπεζών

Clueless in Europe

Schaeuble’s intemperate language illustrates a mindset that is blocking debate of European policy priorities and the economic myths that sustain them. The groupthink was evident as early as 2008, when the financial crisis rendered banks on both sides of the Atlantic desperately in need of capital and short-term loans. Joaquin Almunia, the European commissioner for monetary affairs, portrayed it as a U.S. problem, saying, “We are well-prepared to weather this situation.” Jean-Claude Juncker, who headed the group of euro-area finance ministers, was more belligerent: “We have to be concerned, but a lot less than the Americans, on whom the deficiencies against which we have warned repeatedly are taking bitter revenge.”

The European thinking proved disastrously wrong. In generously restrained words, Bernanke points out that U.S. gross domestic product is 8.9 percent above its pre-crisis level, while euro-area GDP remains 0.8 percent below. He could have added that Schaeuble also warned that the Fed would stoke runaway inflation. The Fed’s preferred measure of inflation remains below its target. The central bank recognized that the real danger was deflation.

via Clueless in Europe – Bloomberg View

Frightened by Donald Trump? You don’t know the half of it – George Monbiot

For years, Ebell and the CEI have attacked efforts to limit climate change, through lobbying, lawsuits and campaigns. An advertisement released by the institute had the punchline “Carbon dioxide: they call it pollution. We call it life.”

It has sought to eliminate funding for environmental education, lobbied against the Endangered Species Act, harried climate scientists and campaigned in favour of mountaintop removal by coal companies. In 2004, Ebell sent a memo to one of George W Bush’s staffers calling for the head of the Environmental Protection Agency to be sacked. Where is Ebell now? Oh – leading Trump’s transition team for the Environmental Protection Agency.

Charles and David Koch – who for years have funded extreme pro-corporate politics – might not have been enthusiasts for Trump’s candidacy, but their people were all over his campaign. Until June, Trump’s campaign manager was Corey Lewandowski, who like other members of Trump’s team came from a group called Americans for Prosperity (AFP).

via Frightened by Donald Trump? You don’t know the half of it | George Monbiot | Opinion | The Guardian

Why Has The White Working Class Abandoned The Left?

And, as has been forcefully argued by Mark Lilla, much of the politics from the liberal left in the US, including Hillary Clinton, has been focused on what is known as “identity politics”. In practice, this has resulted in targeted policies to women and various minority groups such as affirmative action and quotas to jobs and education. Instead of focusing on universal programs for all or very broad segments of the population, the Democrats and Clinton came to represent policies seen as favouritism (“corruption”) towards minority groups by the white male working class. Targeted programs are also very vulnerable to suspicion about malpractice in implementation processes because decisions about individual cases are often very complicated (who is eligible and how much preferential treatment is justified). Universal programs, once the hallmark of successful leftist policies, do not suffer from this problem usually.

“Identity politics” being perceived as favouritism may thus be the explanation for why Trump’s “corruption strategy” paid off among the white working class.

via Why Has The White Working Class Abandoned The Left?