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Posted by: AGelbert
« on: May 21, 2018, 05:54:43 pm »



May 21, 2018

The Coming Collapse

By Chris Hedges —  Every day the foundations of our institutions decay more, but American society is emotionally unable to grasp the mortal danger that approaches.


The system is designed so we can never free ourselves from debt.

However, the next financial crash, as Prins points out in her book “Collusion: How Central Bankers Rigged the World,” won’t be like the last one. This is because, as she says, “there is no Plan B.” Interest rates can’t go any lower. There has been no growth in the real economy. The next time, there will be no way out. Once the economy crashes and the rage across the country explodes into a firestorm, the political freaks will appear, ones that will make Trump look sagacious and benign.

Full article:


Posted by: AGelbert
« on: May 18, 2018, 06:35:19 pm »

Economic Update: Another Gilded Age  💵 🎩 🍌

Friday, May 18, 2018

By Richard D. Wolff, Truthout | Audio Segment 🔊


Posted by: AGelbert
« on: May 12, 2018, 03:35:55 pm »

US-China Secret Trade Negotiations Are Not Going So Well  ;D

May 10, 2018

Chinese President Xi Jinping celebrated Karl Marx’s 200th Birthday, which professor David Kotz attended in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. We spoke to Prof. Kotz about US-China trade negotiations and the ‘Made in China 2025 Plan’

Posted by: AGelbert
« on: May 11, 2018, 05:52:39 pm »

More Vessels Carrying U.S. Sorghum to China Switch Destinations

May 10, 2018 by Reuters

bulk carrier By Lukasz Z / Shutterstock


BEIJING, May 10 (Reuters) – Three ships carrying livestock feed grain, sorghum, from the U.S. to China switched their destinations on Thursday to Japan and South Korea, according to Thomson Reuters Eikon ship tracking data, after Beijing hit imports with hefty anti-dumping deposits.

Full article:

Posted by: AGelbert
« on: May 09, 2018, 05:11:04 pm »

The Rise of Finance and the Fall of American Business – RAI with Rana Foroohar (1/6)

May 9, 2018

On Reality Asserts Itself, Ms. Foroohar says financialization delivers stagnant wages, inequality and economic crisis; the Financial Times columnist and author of “Makers and Takers” says the financial sector 🦀 represents only 7 percent of the U.S. economy, but takes around 25 percent of all corporate profit while creating only 4 percent of all jobs – with host Paul Jay

Video and Transcript:


Posted by: AGelbert
« on: May 08, 2018, 02:28:55 pm »

“Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau.” Irving Fisher 1929.

An earlier neoclassical economist believed in price discovery, stable equilibriums and the rational decisions of market participants, and what the neoclassical economist believes about the markets means can’t even imagine there could be a bubble.

The two elements of neoclassical economics that come together to cause financial crises.

1. It doesn’t consider debt

2. It holds a set of beliefs about markets where they represent the rational decisions of market participants; they reach stable equilibriums and the valuations represent real wealth.

Posted by: AGelbert
« on: May 02, 2018, 05:51:20 pm »

Posted by: AGelbert
« on: April 26, 2018, 06:10:01 pm »

Written by Michael Lebowitz | Apr, 25, 2018

The following article was originally a PowerPoint presentation that highlights several aspects of recent price movements across assets classes and within equity industry sectors. Many investors are unfamiliar with these relationships and their importance. While the current correction may prove only to be a speed bump on the way to higher prices, close inspection of asset class and security interactions often hold important clues about the future. The information contained in these pages argues for caution.

Nowhere to Hide

The messages from shifting cross asset and S&P 500 sector correlations

Why Correlations Matter

Correlation is a statistical measure that quantifies the relationship between two financial assets or securities. A correlation of +1.0 is perfect, meaning the two securities or assets move one-for-one with each other. A correlation of -1.0 means they move exactly opposite of each other. As correlations move away from +/- 1.0 the relationship weakens. A correlation of zero quantitatively implies no relationship in the movement between the two instruments.

Correlations between and within asset classes plays an integral role in portfolio management. From a big picture perspective, changing correlations can be a signal that broader market trends are changing. Investors may reduce risk during such periods. Also of importance, changing correlations may increase or decrease the value of “hedges” within a portfolio. For instance, investors tend to assume they are taking a more defensive posture moving technology to utility stocks, or from stocks to bonds when they sense a downturn coming. While such trades have been effective in the past, correlations allow us to observe changes and develop opinions about the future.

The following charts and notes provide recent and historical context on how correlations have changed since the equity market turned lower in late January. Whether these changes turn out to be a dependable warning of trend change, or a multi-month anomaly, is unknown. What is known is that the market is not behaving as it has for the last few years and investors should pay close attention to correlations for more market insight.

Under Appreciated Price Action

This graph, courtesy of Goldman Sachs, shows how correlations between S&P 500 stocks have increased at a rate greater than anytime in the last 40 years except 1987.

Cross Asset Correlations

S&P 500/UST Correlation

Given the popularity of formal and informal risk parity strategies, this graph showing the well below average correlation of the S&P 500 versus 10 year UST yields should be of vital concern if this equity sell-off continues and the correlation remains low.

S&P 500 Sector Correlations

To further highlight the uniqueness of current sector correlations versus the S&P 500, this graph compares the current period (green dots) versus the prior year (orange squares) and the prior 15 years (gray triangles).

Something is different this time

This graph serves as a reminder that passive investing has grown significantly over the past 10 years. In our opinion this popularity will play a role in making it more likely that correlations between asset classes and sectors will behave differently in the next downturn than they have in the past. As such alternative hedging strategies should be considered now.


• Passive funds and strategies have increased the likelihood that future correlations between asset classes and the S&P 500 and its constituents are higher

• Equity and fixed income correlations have increased recently, rendering fixed income hedges for equities not as dependable

• Gold and commodities as measured by the CRB index have also not been as good an equity hedge as in the past

• Long equity volatility (VIX) has thus far proven a good ballast for stock and fixed income hedging

• Traditional safety, low beta, equity sectors have been well correlated to other sectors and the equity market as a whole

• Higher beta equity indexes (Russel 2k and the NASDAQ) have moved nearly perfectly in line with the S&P 500

• It is too early to tell if the market is topping or just taking a breather, but the signals discussed in this article and others we did not highlight, should be taken seriously

Michael Lebowitz, CFA


Posted by: AGelbert
« on: April 25, 2018, 05:46:11 pm »

OOCL and Microsoft to Develop Artificial Intelligence 🤖 Applications for the Shipping Industry

April 24, 2018 by gCaptain

An OOCL containership calls at Eurogate Container Terminal in Wilhelmshaven, Germany. Photo: EUROGATE

Hong Kong-based shipping company Orient Overseas Container Line (OOCL) has teamed up with Microsoft’s research arm in Asia to advance the application of Artificial Intelligence research in the shipping industry.

The collaboration will look for ways to use AI to improve shipping network operations and achieve efficiencies within OOCL’s business. The project is expected to nurture over 200 AI developers over the next 12 months.

OOCL sees AI as key to the it’s digital transformation. The company already uses machine learning in some its operations and has as a talent base of over 1,000 developers located in San Jose, Hong Kong, Zhuhai, Shanghai and Manila. Each month, the company’s systems process and analyze over 30 million vessel data points. “By leveraging AI technology and machine learning, the company develops predictive analytics on vessel schedules and berth activities,” it says.

“With MSRA’s efforts and expertise, we expect to save around USD10 million in operation costs annually by applying the AI research and techniques for optimizing shipping network operations from our most recent 15-week engagement,” said Steve Siu, Chief Information Officer of OOCL. “Moving forward, we will embark on an 18-month joint-partnership in research and development to apply deep learning and reinforcement learning in shipping network operations.”

Microsoft Research Asia s Microsoft’s fundamental and applied research arm in the Asia Pacific region.

“Microsoft has been committed in providing cutting-edge AI solutions for companies across different industries to help drive digital transformation,” commented Cally Chan, General Manager of Microsoft Hong Kong. “With our Intelligent Cloud and Intelligent Edge vision, we are partnering with selected top customers worldwide to accelerate the adoption of AI innovations into products and solutions that can be applied in real business contexts. The partnership between MSRA and OOCL demonstrates our strong progress in revolutionizing the shipping industry.”


Posted by: AGelbert
« on: April 25, 2018, 05:28:05 pm »

Agelbert NOTE: I have read around five different news items on these giant cranes being delivered recently to major ports all over the world. This is evidence of a boom phase in the global economy (which means AN INCREASING ANNUAL AMOUNT of Greenhouse Gases, instead of the required reduction of these pollutants  >:(),  with nothing even remotely resembling an imminent collapse envisioned by the powerful oligarchs that run this profit over people and planet madhouse.

Catastrophic climate change will change all that, of course, but it may take a decade or so for the oligarchs to smell the climate change profit destroying coffee.   

For now, the fossil fuel worshipping suckers are enjoying the boom.

Tomorrow is Yesterday...

Giant Ship-to-Shore Cranes Parked Off New York

April 24, 2018 by gCaptain

Photo: Patrick Hamilton via Instagram

A heavy lift ship carrying four giant ship-to-shore cranes is at anchor off Brooklyn, New York awaiting the green light to pass below the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and into the Port of New York and New Jersey.

The cranes are destined for APM Terminals’ facility in Port Elizabeth where they will eventually handle ultra-large containerships arriving from Europe and Asia via the Expanded Panama Canal.

The cranes are arriving aboard the heavy lift ship Zhen Hua 20 from Shanghai, China, where they departed a little over two months ago.

Once offloaded, the cranes will be the largest ever installed at the Port of New York and New Jersey and perhaps even the largest on U.S. East Coast.

Before their arrival at Port Elizabeth, the crane booms will need to be lowered over the course of a few days so the vessel can fit below the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge followed by the recently-raised Bayonne Bridge. The vessel will also have to wait for low water, which combined will provide just enough clearance for the cranes to pass safely below the bridges. 

The Port of New York and New Jersey is the busiest port on the US East Coast and third busiest in the United States behind the Los Angeles and Long Beach Ports.

Posted by: AGelbert
« on: April 20, 2018, 05:56:30 pm »

America’s “Actual” GDP: The Shocking Truth


APRIL 19, 2018


Economists Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff have shown that annual economic growth falls 2% per year when the debt-to-GDP reaches 60%.

When it hits 90%… they conclude one dollar of debt yields less than one dollar of output.

Debt no longer lifts… but drags.

What is America’s current debt-to-GDP ratio?

Roughly 105%.  :P

When did the U.S. debt-to-GDP ratio cross the 90% red line?

This is, when did the wine start turning to vinegar?

In 2010, it appears… shortly after the great turning point.

After 2008, argues financial advisory firm Baker & Co., “something in our economy broke.”

Before 2008, what they term “actual” GDP had always risen alongside the rising debt — whether because of it — or in spite of it.

But no longer.

Full article:


Posted by: AGelbert
« on: April 20, 2018, 04:58:28 pm »

Agelbert NOTE: If you wish to know, without any doubt whatsoever, who are the oligarchs totally, not partially, responsible for the horrendously polluted, massively unjust, deliberately cruel and generally miserable condition of human civilization, the graphic below is sine qua non. It is not difficult to determine where the most numerous, and consequently most damaging, group of profit over people and planet parasites, euphemistically called the "ultra rich", reside. 

Where the World’s Ultra Rich
Population Lives


Posted by: AGelbert
« on: April 05, 2018, 02:56:17 pm »

Soybeans, Cars, Planes, and "To Hell With Wall Street"  ;)

April 5, 2018

by Mike Mish Shedlock


While the Trump list would affect 1,300 categories of goods, China critically is targeting a narrower range of 106 types of U.S. goods, many of them high-profile. Soybeans and smaller commercial passenger planes, mostly made by Boeing Co. , are the most valuable U.S. exports to China, worth nearly $23 billion last year.

Also prominent in China’s retaliation are sport-utility vehicles and other agricultural products, from beef to sorghum—goods that were chosen to hit U.S. states that supported President Donald Trump, according to people familiar with Beijing’s plans.

Not a Trade War 😇

Donald J. Trump 🦀
✔ @realDonaldTrump
We are not in a trade war with China, that war was lost many years ago by the foolish, or incompetent, people who represented the U.S. Now we have a Trade Deficit of $500 Billion a year, with Intellectual Property Theft of another $300 Billion. We cannot let this continue! 7:22 AM - Apr 4, 2018 120K 55.3K people are talking about this

Mercy me. Don't call this a trade war. It's really a peanut butter sandwich.

Read more: 


Posted by: AGelbert
« on: April 04, 2018, 07:14:17 pm »

  April 3, 2018

Wall Street Bankers' Executive Bonuses 😈 👹 💵 🎩 Highlight Worsening Inequality

Banks are collecting money from every corner of this economy, becoming "the special winner in the capitalist game of our time," says economist Richard D. Wolff. The bonuses "strike another blow for that growing inequality between the rich and everybody else in the United States"

Posted by: AGelbert
« on: April 04, 2018, 04:45:38 pm »

Authored by Adam Taggart via PeakProsperity.com,


Wed, 04/04/2018 - 13:54

To all those investors expecting the Fed to step in to backstop the recent weakness seen in the stock market, Wolf Richter warns: The cavalry isn't coming.

After years of force-feeding too much liquidity into world markets, the central banking cartel is now aware of the Franken-markets it has created. And now with a new head at the US Federal Reserve, and soon at the ECB, central bankers have shifted their priority from supporting asset prices to now actively engineering lower prices.

They just don't want prices to drop too far too fast.

Agelbert NOTE: I agree that the Fed will not keep the markets from sinkng slowly, but I totally disagree with the anti-Tesla baloney pushed in the above u-tube podcast. Based on that, Ford would have been bankrupt by 1920. Tesla has a LOT more going for it than Ford did when Rockefeller bailed it out THREE times. These bean counters like wolf Richter forget the "minor detail" called CATASTROPHIC CLIMATE CHANGE when they arbitrarily claim that Tesla is a "bad investment". Tesla's business model is what ALL corporations should strive to emulate. That model REQUIRES that you produce a product that benefits society AND that uses revenue to reinvest in plant and equipment, INSTEAD of using the revenue almost exclusively to bleed corporate coffers 😈 in order to pay investors greater dividends.

Tesla is probably the car manufacturing corporation with the greatest chance of success and profitability in the in-your-face reality that even the delusional fossil fuelers will soon be forced to deal with.

Posted by: AGelbert
« on: April 04, 2018, 02:27:41 pm »

Agelbert NOTE: Rather than the title given below, a more appropriate title woud be: Continuously Calculated Corruption.

Contours  🏴‍☠️ 🚩 Of The Correction 🌠

by Tyler Durden

Wed, 04/04/2018 - 12:49



Despite the recent correction, the U.S. equity markets still easily lead all major global markets in terms of valuation. This is not cause for optimism, it is a sign of extended risk. The outlook for earnings has improved due to tax reform and other recent fiscal policy measures, but even with that boost, earnings do not support these valuations. There is also a clear tension between the Fed and their monetary measures and those of the Congress undertaking new fiscal stimulus. Those paths will overlap and it will be bumpy at best with tightening Fed policy opposed by the forces of fiscal stimulus buttressed by tariffs and the threat of retaliation from other countries.

The markets appear to have sent an early warning to equity holders with the spike in volatility, but with the sustained optimism of the market since, it does not appear as though many have taken heed. Since early February, volatility has dropped back to less elevated levels but it remains significantly higher than the single digit readings commonly seen in 2017. Even if VIX stabilized to average 15 for the next few weeks, that would still be 36% above the average level of 11 for all of 2017. If interest rates remain elevated, to say nothing of rising, it will create further portfolio deleveraging pressure especially on the $1 trillion in funds managed under risk parity strategies.

Despite the bounce from the lows seen on February 8, the market seems uncomfortable and edgy. At the same time, it appears unconvinced that anything could be wrong. Investors 🙉 🙊 🐷  have enjoyed such a long period of extreme central bank 😈 accommodation and the easy returns 💵 🎩 that have gone along with it, they are reluctant to modify for the changes clearly taking place. Risks, both implied and explicit, are large 💣 and growing 🚩 but investors seem mostly unaware despite the early warning signal.

A fair characterization would be that it’s like living next to the city dump, if you’re there long enough, you eventually stop noticing the smell.

full article:


Posted by: AGelbert
« on: April 03, 2018, 10:06:41 pm »

Stock Market Bulls Don’t Want The Dow To Slip From Here! 🚩

by kimblecharting

Tue, 04/03/2018 - 10:25

The Dow Jones Industrial Average peaked at 26,616 on January 26th. Those highs set the stage for the stock market correction that investors are facing right now.

How and Why?

We’ve been warning since early this year that stocks were getting ahead of themselves. The chart below illustrates just how far ahead they got… the Dow’s momentum reading this year reached levels not seen since 1929, 1987, 2000, and 2007. At the same time, the Dow’s price reached the top side (point 1) of a 70-year rising channel (point A).

Decision Point

The stock market correction has taken the Dow Jones down to an important intermediate-term support point – its rising “monthly” trend line off the 2016 lows (point 2). What happens here could determine whether this is a “run of the mill” correction or something more ominous.

Any puncture of support would need to be short-lived for the intermediate uptrend to remain intact. However, if bulls fail to adequately defend this trend line, then the market decline could get ugly 💣 💥. Stay tuned!

Dow Jones Industrial Average Long-Term Chart

While many have been focused on the 200-day moving average test for the S&P 500, the Power of the Pattern is of the opinion this is one very Important “Support Test” in play for the Dow. Support is support friends until broken.

This post was originally written for See It Markets.com.

Posted by: AGelbert
« on: April 03, 2018, 09:57:04 pm »

Trade War 💣 Round 2: US Releases China Tariff List Targeting 1,300 Products

by Tyler Durden

Tue, 04/03/2018 - 19:11


Assuring that a second retaliation by China in the escalating trade war is just a matter of days if not hours, moments ago the US Trade Representative released a list of Chinese product subject to 25% tariffs as part of Trump's Section 301 crackdown on Beijing Intellectual Property abuses, focusing on China's high tech product push.

Below we list the top US imports from China. Not surprisingly, most are found in the new tariff list:

Telecom equipment
Office equipment
Seats (professional chairs)
Auto parts
Lamps & lighting
Suitcases & bags

What else is in the list? ???

Stuff that you put on your body: spared. Stuff you put in your home: targeted,” said Hun Quach, vice president of international trade for the Retail Industry Leaders Association. Some more details from Bloomberg:

In some cases the tariffs targeted raw materials and components used to assemble finished goods in the U.S., such as ingredients for insulin, while in others the items were complete products, like Chinese-assembled cars. Many of the affected products were machines used to make other things, vexing factory owners accustomed to being praised by Trump for manufacturing in the U.S.

While apparel and footwear won’t get additional tariffs, some equipment used to make them, like textile printers and injection molders for shoes, are getting taxed. “Tariffs on certain machinery will make American-made products more expensive,” said Matthew Shay, president of the National Retail Federation, in a statement.

With the list published, the National Association of Manufacturers will be consulting with its members about what specific products on the list it may oppose and try to get removed during the comment period, spokesman Michael Short said. The group urged Trump to pursue a bilateral trade agreement with China rather than act on its own.

Trade industry associations also said they are expressing their concerns about the tariffs publicly and privately with the administration and will be active during during the comment and review period to determine the final list of products subject to tariffs.

Full article: 👀

Posted by: AGelbert
« on: April 03, 2018, 02:00:39 pm »

Crisis Struck 10 Years Ago: What's Changed?

by Mike Mish Shedlock
April 1, 2018 -edited

The financial crisis and the massive federal response reshaped the world we live in. Or did it?

The Wall Street Journal has an interesting infographic series of 25 charts entitled 10 Years After the Crisis.

Here's eight of the 25.

Median Income Barely Up

Forget averages. The median is what counts most.

Real median wages fell in 7 out of the last 11 years! For details, please see Imaginary Wage-Inflation Conundrum.

My discussion pertains to "wages". The WSJ referred to "household income".

Public Debt Triples

The MMT crowd says "We owe it to ourselves".

Credit Rating Agencies

The guys 🙉 🙊 that rated everything AAA in 2007 are still 🐒 in charge of things.

Fannie Mae

They promised to unwind Fannie Mae. What happened?

More Ways To Invest

More ways to invest in fewer companies. Who can possibly find fault with that? The casino is open!

Revolving Doors Still Functioning

The revolving door concept still works.

Gotcha! 😇😉

Batting one out of a thousand is arguably better than expected.

Wealth Distribution Trends

Who couldda possibly thunk that might happen when you bail out the banks 😈, lower interest rates to zero 😈, foreclose on millions of homes 😈, send no one to jail 😈, and promote inflation 😈?

No one could possibly have predicted this result. 😇  ::)

Mike "Mish" Shedlock​ 

Posted by: AGelbert
« on: April 02, 2018, 07:35:20 pm »

On Contact: The Coming Collapse of the American Economic System with Richard Wolff


RT America

Published on Apr 1, 2018

Economist Richard Wolff discusses the coming economic collapse of the United States of America.
Posted by: AGelbert
« on: April 02, 2018, 05:46:01 pm »


The Oligarchs’ 😈 ‘Guaranteed Basic Income’ Scam

By Chris Hedges

A number of the reigning oligarchs—among them Mark Zuckerberg (net worth $64.1 billion), Elon Musk (net worth $20.8 billion), Richard Branson (net worth $5.1 billion) and Stewart Butterfield (net worth $1.6 billion)—are calling for a guaranteed basic income. It looks progressive. They couch their proposals in the moral language of caring for the destitute and the less fortunate. But behind this is the stark awareness, especially in Silicon Valley, that the world these oligarchs have helped create is so lopsided that future consumers, plagued by job insecurity, substandard wages, automation and crippling debt peonage, will be unable to pay for the products and services offered by the big corporations.

The oligarchs do not propose structural change. They do not want businesses and the marketplace regulated. They do not support labor unions. They will not pay a living wage to their bonded labor in the developing world or the American workers in their warehouses and shipping centers or driving their delivery vehicles. They have no intention of establishing free college education, universal government health or adequate pensions. They seek, rather, a mechanism to continue to exploit desperate workers earning subsistence wages and whom they can hire and fire at will. The hellish factories and sweatshops in China and the developing world where workers earn less than a dollar an hour will continue to churn out the oligarchs’ products and swell their obscene wealth. America will continue to be transformed into a deindustrialized wasteland. The architects of our neofeudalism call on the government to pay a guaranteed basic income so they can continue to feed upon us like swarms of longnose lancetfish, which devour others in their own species.

“Increasing the minimum wage or creating a basic income will amount to naught if hedge funds buy up foreclosed houses and pharmaceutical patents and raise prices (in some cases astronomically) to line their own pockets out of the increased effective demand exercised by the population,” David Harvey writes in “Marx, Capital, and the Madness of Economic Reason.” “Increasing college tuitions, usurious interest rates on credit cards, all sorts of hidden charges on telephone bills and medical insurance could steal away the benefits. A population might be better served by strict regulatory intervention to control these living expenses, to limit the vast amount of wealth appropriation occurring at the point of realisation. It is not surprising to find there is strong sentiment among the venture capitalists of Silicon Valley to also support basic minimum income proposals. They know their technologies are putting people out of work by the millions and that those millions will not form a market for their products if they have no income.”

The call for a guaranteed basic income is a classic example of Karl Marx and Antonio Gramsci’s understanding that when capitalists have surplus capital and labor they use mass culture and ideology, in this case neoliberalism, to reconfigure the habits of a society to absorb the surpluses.

In the wake of World War II, for example, the capitalists’ problem was solved by heavy investments in the military and war industry, ideologically justified by Red baiting and the Cold War, and by massive infrastructure projects, including the building of highways, bridges and houses, to move people out of cities into suburbs, where consumption rose. The social engineering projects were done in the name of national security and progress. And they made the oligarchs of that day richer.

“The development of a whole new suburban lifestyle (acclaimed in popular TV sitcoms like The Brady Bunch and I love Lucy which celebrated a certain kind of ‘daily life of peoples’) along with all sorts of propaganda for the ‘American Dream’ of individualized homeownership stood at the centre of a huge campaign to construct new wants, needs and desires, a totally new lifestyle, in the population at large,” Harvey says in his book. “Well-paid jobs were required to support the effective demand. Labour and capital came to an uneasy compromise at the urging of the state apparatus in which a white working class made economic gains, even as minorities were left out.”

This phase of capitalism ended once industry moved overseas and wages stagnated or declined. The well-paying unionized jobs disappeared. Jobs became menial and inadequately compensated. Poverty expanded. The oligarchs began to mine government social services, including education, health care, the military, intelligence gathering, prisons and utilities such as electricity and water, for profit. As a publication of the San Francisco Federal Reserve reportedly noted, the country—and by extension the oligarchs—could no longer get out of crises “by building houses and filling them with things.” The United States shifted in the 1970s from what the historian Charles Maier called an “empire of production” to “an empire of consumption.” In short, we began to borrow to maintain a lifestyle and an empire we could no longer afford.

Profit in the “empire of consumption” is extracted not by producing products but by privatizing and pushing up the costs of the basic services we need to survive and allowing banks and hedge funds to impose punishing debt peonage on the public and **** on tech, student debt and housing bubbles. The old ideology of the New Deal, of government orchestrating huge social engineering projects under the Public Works Administration or in the War on Poverty, was replaced by a new ideology to justify another form of predatory capitalism.

In Harvey’s book “A Brief History of Neoliberalism” he defines neoliberalism as “a project to achieve the restoration of class power” in the wake of the economic crisis of the 1970s and what the political scientist Samuel Huntington said was America’s “excess of democracy” in the 1960s and the 1970s. It achieved its aim.

Neoliberalism, Harvey wrote, is “a theory of political economic practices that proposes that human well-being can best be advanced by liberating individual entrepreneurial freedoms and skills within an institutional framework characterized by strong private property rights, free markets, and free trade.”

American oligarchs discredited the populist movements of the 1960s and 1970s that had played a vital role in forcing government to carry out programs for the common good and restricting corporate pillage. They demonized government, which as John Ralston Saul writes, “is the only organized mechanism that makes possible that level of shared disinterest known as the public good.” Suddenly—as Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, two of the principal political proponents of neoliberalism, insisted—government was the problem. The neoliberal propaganda campaign successfully indoctrinated large segments of the population to call for their own enslavement.

The ideology of neoliberalism never made sense. It was a con. No society can effectively govern itself by basing its decisions and policies on the dictates of the marketplace. The marketplace became God. Everything and everyone was sacrificed on its altar in the name of progress. Social inequality soared. Amid the destruction, the proponents of neoliberalism preached the arrival of a new Eden once we got through the pain and disruption. The ideology of neoliberalism was utopian, if we use the word “utopia” as Thomas More intended—the Greek words for “no” and “place.” “To live within ideology, with utopian expectations, is to live in no place, to live in limbo,” Saul writes in “The Unconscious Civilization.” “To live nowhere. To live in a void where the illusion of reality is usually created by highly sophisticated rational constructs.”

Corporations used their wealth and power to make this ideology the reigning doctrine. They established well-funded centers of propaganda such as The Heritage Foundation, took over university economic departments and amplified the voices of their courtiers in the media. Those who questioned the doctrine were cast out like medieval heretics, their careers blocked and their voices muted or silenced. The contradictions, lies and destruction within neoliberal ideology were ignored by those who dominated the national discourse, leading to mounting frustration and rage among a populace that had been abandoned and betrayed.

The propagandists for neoliberalism blamed the other—Muslims, undocumented workers, African-Americans, gays, feminists, liberals, intellectuals and, of course, government—for the downward spiral. Politicians who served the interests of the corporate oligarchs told dispossessed white workers their suffering was caused by the ascendancy of these marginalized groups and a cultural assault on their national identity and values, not corporate pillage. It was only a matter of time before this lie spawned the xenophobic, racist hate speech that dominates American political life and led to the rise of imbecilic and dangerous demagogues such as Donald Trump.

“Each of Globalization’s strengths has somehow turned out to have an opposing meaning,” Saul writes in “The Collapse of Globalization and the Reinvention of the World.” “The lowering of national residency requirements for corporations has morphed into a tool for massive tax evasion. The idea of a global economic system mysteriously made local poverty seem unreal, even normal. The decline of the middle class—the very basis of democracy—seemed to be just one of those things that happen, unfortunate but inevitable. That the working class and lower middle class, even parts of the middle class, could only survive with more than one job per person seemed to be the expected punishment for not keeping up. The contrast between unprecedented bonuses for mere managers at the top and the four-job family below them seemed inevitable in a globalized world. For two decades an elite consensus insisted that unsustainable third-world debts could not be put aside in a sort of bad debt reserve without betraying Globalism’s essential principles and moral obligations, which included unwavering respect for the sanctity of international contracts. It took the same people about two weeks to abandon sanctity and propose bad debt banks for their own far larger debts in 2009.”

The oligarchs mask their cruelty and greed with an empty moralism. They claim to champion women’s rights, diversity and inclusivity, as long as women and people of color serve the corporate neoliberal project. An example of this moralism occurred last Tuesday when NPR’s Ari Shapiro interviewed Lyft co-founder and President John Zimmer and former Obama administration official Valerie Jarrett, a member of the company’s board, about diversity and gender equality in the workplace. Shapiro asked about Lyft offering free rides to those marching against gun violence and donating to the ACLU.

“We serve our drivers, we serve our passengers, and we serve the employees that work for us,” Zimmer said in the interview. “And when it comes to [resisting gun] violence, when it comes to equality, those are things that we’re going to stand up for.”

America’s “gig economy,” as I wrote last week in my column, is a new form of serfdom. Corporations such as Lyft use lobbyists and campaign donations to free themselves from regulatory control. They force poorly paid temporary workers, who lack benefits, to work 16 hours a day in a race to the bottom. This neoliberal economic model destroys regulated taxi and livery services, forcing drivers who were once able to make a decent income into poverty, bankruptcy, foreclosures, evictions and occasionally suicide. By fighting gender, sexual and racial inequality in the workplace rather than economic inequality, by denouncing mass shootings rather than out-of-control police violence and mass incarceration, these corporations hide their complicity in societal disintegration. Their empty moralism and faux compassion is an updated version of the publicity stunt that John D. Rockefeller, whose personal fortune was $900 million in 1913, or $189.6 billion in today’s terms, used when he handed out shiny new dimes to strangers.

Neoliberalism heralds a return to the worst days of unregulated capitalism, after the Industrial Revolution when workers were denied a living wage and decent, safe working conditions. Oligarchs have not changed. They are out for themselves. They do not see government as an institution to defend and promote the rights and needs of citizens. They see it as an impediment to unrestricted exploitation and profit. Human beings, to oligarchs, are commodities. They are used to increase wealth and then discarded. Oligarchs don’t propose programs such as a guaranteed basic income unless they intend to profit from it. This is how they are wired. Don’t be fooled by the grins and oily promises of these human versions of the Cheshire Cat. The object is to spread confusion while they increase levels of exploitation.

“Alice asked the Cheshire Cat, who was sitting in a tree, ‘What road do I take?’ ” Lewis Carroll wrote. “The cat asked, ‘Where do you want to go?’ ‘I don’t know,’ Alice answered. ‘Then,’ said the cat, ‘it really doesn’t matter, does it?’ ”

The longer the elites keep us in darkness with their ideological tricks and empty moralism, the longer we refuse to mobilize to break their grip on power, the worse it will get.


Agelbert NOTE: I would add a graphic warning to the following accurate statements about oligarchs by Chris Hedges :

"Human beings, to oligarchs, are commodities. They are used to increase wealth and then discarded."

Posted by: AGelbert
« on: March 30, 2018, 02:56:31 pm »

March 28, 2018

Economic Update - Capitalism Breeds Inequality

Since 1980, the income of the top .001 percent went up by six hundred percent, but the bottom fifty percent saw no income increase at all, says economist Richard D. Wolff

Posted by: AGelbert
« on: March 24, 2018, 09:20:36 pm »

Posted by: AGelbert
« on: March 22, 2018, 06:10:31 pm »

My sentiment has changed. I think Trump's little trade war might be the droids you've been looking for....

I admire a man who is willing to change his position based on objective observation. Good for you! 

Posted by: AGelbert
« on: March 22, 2018, 04:34:07 pm »

Posted by: AGelbert
« on: March 21, 2018, 06:51:57 pm »

Dean Baker - How Globalization Was Rigged For The Rich

Washington Watch

Published on Jan 17, 2018

Economist Dean Baker talked about his book Rigged: How Globalization and the Rules of the Modern Economy Were Structured to Make the Rich Richer, in which he argues that government policies, not globalization or the natural workings of the free market, have led to the upward redistribution of wealth seen around the world over the past four decades.
Posted by: AGelbert
« on: March 16, 2018, 09:47:49 pm »

  March 15, 2018

Economic Benefits of Tax Cuts Should Have Arrived - Where Are They? 

Businesses have had plenty of time to take Trump's corporate tax cuts into account for their investment plans. However, as CEPR's Dean Baker reports, this has not happened. Instead, they 😈 spent their tax windfall on stock buybacks


Posted by: AGelbert
« on: March 16, 2018, 09:36:23 pm »

March 15, 2018

Senate 😈 Expands 'Lobbyist Bill' 👹 to Deregulate Real Estate

New measures added to the financial deregulation bill include the deregulation of commercial real estate, which threatens to re-create the conditions that led to the 2008 financial crisis, says Bill Black

Posted by: AGelbert
« on: March 16, 2018, 05:27:07 pm »

Economic Update: Capitalism   Breeds Inequality

Friday, March 16, 2018

By Richard D. Wolff, Truthout | 📢 Audio Segment

This week's episode discusses how globalization has worsened inequality and injustice, how Quebec's doctors are rejecting pay increases, the significance of the YMCA workers' strike in Chicago, and the growing Japanese co-op movement. This episode also includes an interview with single-payer activist Tim Faust on medical care and insurance in the US today.

Posted by: AGelbert
« on: March 15, 2018, 12:40:28 pm »

March 15, 2018

Trump's 🦀 Tariff Travesty Will Not Re-Industrialize the US

Trump's steel and aluminum tariffs will only make it more difficult for US producers that depend on these resources, while also initiating trade retaliation from trade partners says Michael Hudson

Michael Hudson is a Distinguished Research Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. He is the author of many books, including The Bubble and Beyond, and Finance Capitalism and its Discontents, Killing the Host- How Financial Parasites and Debt Destroy the Global Economy, and most recently J is for Junk Economics: A Survivor's Guide to Economic Vocabulary in an Age of Deception.


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