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US: Crop One launches Vertical Farm Opportunity Fund
Crop One will sponsor its first “qualified opportunity fund (QOF)” in an Opportunity Zone. The Vertical Farm Opportunity Fund #1 (the Fund) will invest in building and operating a new…
vertical-farming  financialization  horti-daily 
9 weeks ago by swordfish
Progressive capitalism – an oxymoron | Michael Roberts Blog
Stiglitz’s views are either pure naivety or clever sophistry –or maybe both. Does he really think that there was a period when capitalism benefited both workers and corporations; rich and poor?  The ‘golden age’ after 1945 up to the late 1960s was the exception in advanced capitalist economies and then only for those economies, not for Latin America, Asia, the Middle East and Africa.  For the greater part of the globe, those decades were ones of dire poverty and a battle against imperialist exploitation.

Anyway, it is a myth that in the 1950s and 1960s that everybody gained from ‘progressive’ capitalism in the West.  And what gains that were made in public services, a welfare state, relatively full employment and rising incomes were mainly the result of struggle and pressure by the labour movement, forcing concessions from the owners of capital.

And Stiglitz never explains why this supposed regulated, democratic progressive capitalism came to an end in the 1970s, except to suggest it was down to the vile politics of Reagan, Thatcher etc.  But readers of this blog know that there was a change of objective conditions from the mid-1960s, namely a sharp fall in the profitability of capital globally.
joseph_stiglitz  progressivism  income_inequality  postwar_boom  michael_roberts  financialization 
11 weeks ago by perich
Episode 906:The Chicago Boys, Part II : Planet Money : NPR
[This two-parter is, overall, super light-handed on the coup and doesn't investigate enough how Allende's policies were sabotaged by the US and thus the state of the Chilean economy in 1973 was not an indication of their effectiveness, but leaving it here for future reference.]

"This is the second part in our series on Marxism and capitalism in Chile. You can find the first episode here. [https://www.npr.org/sections/money/2019/04/10/711918772/episode-905-the-chicago-boys-part-i ]

In the early seventies, Chile, under Marxist President Salvador Allende, was plagued by inflation, shortages, and a crushing deficit. After a violent coup in 1973, the economy became the military's problem.

Led by Augusto Pinochet, the military assigned a group of economists to help turn around Chile's economy. They had trained at the University of Chicago. They came to be known as the Chicago Boys.

Today's show is about the economic "shock treatment" they launched. It eventually set Chile on a path to prosperity, but it did so at an incredible human cost. One that Chileans are still grappling with today."

["#905: The Chicago Boys, Part I" description:

"Chile is one of the wealthiest, most stable economies in South America. But to understand how Chile got here--how it became the envy of neighboring countries --you have to know the story of a group of Chilean students who came to study economics at the University of Chicago. A group that came to be known as the Chicago Boys.

In the 1960s, their country was embracing socialism. But the Chicago Boys would take the economic ideas they had learned at Chicago and turn them into policies in Chile. They ended up on the front lines of a bloody battle between Marxism and capitalism, democracy and dictatorship."]

[via: "Detainees would be electrocuted, water boarded, had their heads forced into buckets of urine and excrement, suffocated with bags, hanged by their feet or hands and beaten. Many women were raped and for some detainees, punishment was death." https://twitter.com/zunguzungu/status/1118167201846968320

who also points to the source of that quote: https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2013/09/life-under-pinochet-they-were-taking-turns-electrocute-us-one-after-other/ ]
chile  chicagoboys  economics  policy  politics  2019  history  pinochet  salvadorallende  miltonfriedman  dictatorship  coup  democracy  capitalism  socialism  authoritarianism  noelking  jasminegarsd  cia  us  intervention  propaganda  marxism  cuba  fidelcastro  cubanrevolution  neoliberalism  freemarketcapitalism  cuotas  finance  financialization  wealth 
april 2019 by robertogreco
Michael Hudson -- Up in Arms
'...#MH: The first U.S. business schools in the late 19th century described rentiers as unproductive. That is why today’s neoliberals are trying to rewrite the history of Institutionalism in a way that expurgates the Americans who wanted the government to provide public infrastructure to make America a low-cost economy, undersell England and other countries, and evolve into the industrial giant it became by the 1920s. -- #JS: That was Simon Patten’s teaching at the Wharton School — government-subsidized public infrastructure as the fourth factor of production. -- #MH: Yes. America’s ruling political class tried to make the United States a dominant economy instead of a rentier economy of landlords and financial manipulators. -- #JS: How did the robber barons fit into this story? -- #MH: Not as industrialists or manufacturers, but as monopolists opposed by the industrial interests. It was Teddy Roosevelt’s trust-busting and the Republicans that enacted the Sherman antitrust act. Its spirit was continued by Franklin Roosevelt. -- #JS: Is today’s economy a second age of robber barons? -- #MH: It’s becoming a second Gilded Age. An abrupt change of direction in economic trends occurred after Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher were elected in 1979/80. The result has been to invert what the 19th-century economists understood to be a free market — that is, a market free from a privileged hereditary class living on unearned income in the form of land rent, monopoly rent and financial extraction. -- #JS: I was in my first few years of college when Thatcher came in in 1979, and when Reagan was elected in 1980. I asked my economics professors what was going on, but I could not find a single professor to coherently describe the U-turn that was occurring. It certainly wasn’t in Paul Samuelson’s textbook that we were given. --- #MH: There’s little logic for neoliberalism beyond a faith that short-term greed is the best way to optimize long-term growth. It is natural for the wealthiest classes to have this faith. Neoliberalism doesn’t look at the economy as a social system, and it excludes as “externalities” concerns with the environment, debt dependency and economic polarization. It only asks how to make a short-term hit-and-run gain, regardless of whether this is done in a way that has a positive or negative overall social effect. Realistic economic logic is social in scope, and distinguishes between earned and unearned income. That is why economists such as Simon Patten and Thorstein Veblen decided to start afresh and create the discipline of sociology, to go beyond narrow individualistic economics being taught. -- The starting point of economic theorizing should explain the dynamic that lead economics to polarize and collapse. That is the lesson of studying antiquity that we have discussed in our earlier talks. Writers in classical antiquity, like Bronze Age Near Eastern rulers before them and the Biblical prophets, recognized that a rentier economy tends to destroy the economy’s productivity and widespread prosperity, and ultimately its survival. In today’s world the Finance, Insurance,and Real Estate [FIRE] sector and monopolies are destroying the rest of the economy, using financial wealth to take over the government and disable its ability to prevent their operating in corrosive and predatory ways. -- #JS: Why aren’t more people up in arms? -- #MH: They’re only up in arms if they believe that there is an alternative. As long as the vested interests can suppress any idea that there is an alternative, that matters don’t have to be this way, people just get depressed. In our third interview you spoke about Socrates and the Stoics producing a philosophy of lamentation and resignation. By his day there seemed no solution except to denounce wealth. When matters got much worse in the Roman Empire, wealth was abhorred. That became the message of Christianity. -- What is needed is to define the scope of the alternative that you want. How can the economy grow when households, business, and government have to pay more and more of their revenue to the financial sector, which then turns around and lends its interest and related income out to indebt the economy even more? The effect is to extract even more income. Rising government debt and tax cuts for the rentiers lead to the privatization of public infrastructure and natural monopolies. Higher prices are charged for tolls to pay for public healthcare, education, roads and other services that were expected to be provided for free a century ago. Financialized privatization thus creates a high-rent, high-cost economy — the opposite of industrial capitalism evolving into socialism to finally free society from rentier income.'
history  economics  debt  landlordism  rentseeking  financialization  "capitalism"  parasitism  MichaelHudson  obfuscation 
april 2019 by adamcrowe
Michael Hudson -- The DNA of Western civilization is financially unstable
'...#MH: Near Eastern debt cancellations continued into the Neo-Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian Empires in the first millennium BC, and also into the Persian Empire. Debt amnesties and laws protecting debtors prevented the debt slavery that is found in Greece and Rome. What modern language would call the Near Eastern “economic model” recognized that economies tended to become unbalanced, largely as a result of buildup of debt and various arrears on payments. Economic survival in fact required an ethic of growth and rights for the citizenry (who manned the army) to be self-supporting without running into debt and losing their economic liberty and personal freedom. Instead of the West’s ultimate drastic solution of banning interest, rulers cancelled the buildup of personal debts to restore an idealized order “as it was in the beginning.” -- This ideology has always needed to be sanctified by religion or at least by democratic ideology in order to prevent the predatory privatization of land, credit, and ultimately the government. Greek philosophy warned against monetary greed [πλεονεξία,pleonexia] and money-love [φιλοχρηματία, philochrêmatia] from Sparta’s mythical lawgiver Lycurgus to Solon’s poems describing his debt cancellation in 594 and the subsequent philosophy of Plato and Socrates, as well as the plays of Aristophanes. The Delphic Oracle warned that money-love was the only thing that could destroy Sparta [Diodorus Siculus 7.5]. That indeed happened after 404 BC when the war with Athens ended and foreign tribute poured into Sparta’s almost un-monetized regulated economy. -- The problem, as famously described in The Republic and handed down in Stoic philosophy, was how to prevent a wealthy class from becoming wealth-addicted, hubristic and injurious to society. The 7th-century “tyrants” were followed by Solon in Athens in banning luxuries and public shows of wealth, most notoriously at funerals for one’s ancestors. Socrates went barefoot [ἀνυπόδητος, anupodêtos] to show his contempt for wealth, and hence his freedom from its inherent personality defects. Yet despite this universal ideal of avoiding extremes, oligarchic rule became economically polarizing and destructive, writing laws to make its creditor claims and the loss of land by smallholders irreversible. That was the opposite of Near Eastern Clean Slates and their offshoot, Judaism’s Jubilee Year. -- #JS: So despite the ideals of their philosophy, Greek political systems had no function like that of Hammurabi-like kings — or philosopher-kings for that matter — empowered to hold financial oligarchies in check. This state of affairs led philosophers to develop an economic tradition of lamentation instead. Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, Livy and Plutarch bemoaned the behavior of the money-loving oligarchy. But they did not develop a program to rectify matters. The best they could do was to inspire and educate individuals — most of whom were their wealthy students and readers. As you said, they bequeathed a legacy of Stoicism. Seeing that the problem was not going to be solved in their lifetimes, they produced a beautiful body of literature praising philosophical virtue. -- #MH: The University of Chicago, where I was an undergraduate in the 1950s, focused on Greek philosophy. We read Plato’s Republic, but they skipped over the discussion of wealth-addiction. They talked about philosopher-kings without explaining that Socrates’ point was that rulers must not own land and other wealth, so as not to have the egotistical tunnel vision that characterized creditors monopolizing control over land and labor. -- ... Socrates said that if you let the wealthiest landowners and creditors become the government, they’re probably going to be wealth-addicted and turn the government into a vehicle to help them exploit the rest of society. -- ... #MH: Socrates’s problem was to figure out a way to have government that did not serve the wealthy acting in socially destructive ways. Given that his student Plato was an aristocrat and that Plato’s students in the Academy were aristocrats as well, how can you have a government run by philosopher-kings? Socrates’s solution was not practical at that time: Rulers should not have money or property. But all governments were based on the property qualification, so his proposal for philosopher-kings lacking wealth was utopian. And like Plato and other Greek aristocrats, they disapproved of debt cancellations, accusing these of being promoted by populist leaders seeking to become tyrants.'
history  economics  debt  landlordism  rentseeking  financialization  "capitalism"  parasitism  MichaelHudson  obfuscation 
april 2019 by adamcrowe
Michael Hudson -- Mixed economies and monopoly
'...#MH: The key public concern throughout history has been to prevent debt from crippling society. That aim is what Babylonian and other third-millennium and second-millennium Near Eastern rulers recognized clearly enough, with their mathematical models. To make an ideal society you need the government to control the basic utilities — land, finance, mineral wealth, natural resources and infrastructure monopolies (including the Internet today), pharmaceuticals and health care so their basic services can be supplied at the lowest price. -- All this was spelled out in the 19th century by business school analysts in the United States. Simon Patten [1852-1922] who said that public investment is the “fourth factor of production.” But its aim isn’t to make a profit for itself. Rather, it’s to lower the cost of living and of doing business, by providing basic needs either on a subsidized basis or for free. The aim was to create a low-cost society without a rentier class siphoning off unearned income and making this economic rent a hereditary burden on the economy at large. You want to prevent unearned income. -- To do that, you need a concept to define economic rent as unearned and hence unnecessary income. A well-managed economy would do what Adam Smith, David Ricardo, John Stuart Mill, Marx and Veblen recommended: It would prevent a hereditary rentier class living off unearned income and increasing society’s economic overhead. It’s okay to make a profit, but not to make extractive monopoly rent, land rent or financial usury rent. -- #JS: Will human beings ever create such a society? -- #MH: If they don’t, we’re going to have a new Dark Age. -- #JS: That’s one thing that especially surprises me about the United States. Is it not clear to educated people here that our ruling class is fundamentally extractive and exploitative? -- #MH: A lot of these educated people are part of the ruling class, and simply taking their money and running. They are disinvesting, not investing in industry. They’re saying, “The financial rentier game is ending, so let’s sell everything and maybe buy a farm in New Zealand to go to when there is a big war.” So the financial elite is quite aware that they are getting rich by running the economy into the ground, and that this must end at the point where they’ve taken everything and left a debt-ridden shell behind. -- #JS: I guess this gets back to what you were saying: The history of economics has been expurgated from the curriculum. -- #MH: Once you strip away economic history and the history of economic thought, you wipe out memory of the vocabulary that people have used to criticize rent seeking and other unproductive activity. You then are in a position to redefine words and ideals along the lines that euphemize predatory and parasitic activities as if they are productive and desirable, even natural. -- ... As the Greek philosophers recognized, wealthy people define their power by their ability to injure the rest of society, so as to lord it over them. That was the Greek philosophy of money-lust [πλεονεξία, pleonexia] and hubris [ὕβρις] — not merely arrogance, but behavior that was injurious to others. -- Rentier income is injurious to society at large. Rentiers define a “free market” as one in which they are free to deny economic freedom to their customers, employees and other victims. The rentier model is to enrich the oligarchy to a point where it is able to capture the government.'
history  economics  debt  landlordism  rentseeking  financialization  "capitalism"  parasitism  MichaelHudson  obfuscation 
april 2019 by adamcrowe
Michael Hudson -- The Delphic Oracle as their Davos
'... #JS: let’s start with Rome. What do you want to say about the nova libertas, the “new liberty” proclaimed in Rome after the last king was expelled and the Republic was founded? Didn’t Brutus and his wellborn friends boast that they were the institutors of true liberty? -- #MH: Liberty for them was the liberty to destroy that of the population at large. Instead of cancelling debts and restoring land tenure to the population, the oligarchy created the Senate that protected the right of creditors to enslave labor and seize public as well as private lands (just as had occurred in Athens before Solon). Instead of restoring a status quo ante of free cultivators — free of debt and tax obligations, as Sumerian amargi and Babylonian misharumand andurarum meant — the Roman oligarchy accused anyone of supporting debtor rights and opposing its land grabs of “seeking kingship.” Such men were murdered, century after century. -- Rome was turned into an oligarchy, an autocracy of the senatorial families. Their “liberty” was an early example of Orwellian Doublethink. It was to destroy everybody else’s liberty so they could grab whatever they could, enslave the debtors and create the polarized society that Rome became. -- #JS: OK, but this program worked. The Republic grew and grew and conquered everyone else for century after century. Then the Principate became the supreme power in the Western world for several more centuries. -- #MH: It worked by looting and stripping other societies. That can only continue as long as there is some society to loot and destroy. Once there were no more kingdoms for Rome to destroy, it collapsed from within. It was basically a looting economy. And it didn’t do more than the British colonialists did: It only scratched the surface. It didn’t put in place the means of production that would create enough money for them to grow productively. Essentially, Rome was a financial rentier state. -- Rentiers don’t create production. They live off existing production, they don’t create it. That’s why the classical economists said they were supporting industrial capitalists, not British landlords, not monopolists and not predatory banks. -- #JS: This has all been forgotten, both in the United States and in England — -- #MH: Let’s say, expurgated from the curriculum. -- #JS: Worse than forgotten! -- #MH: That’s why you don’t have any history of economic thought taught anymore in the United States. Because then you’d see that Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill and the “Ricardian socialists” and indeed most of the 19th century had a completely opposite idea of what constituted a free market.'
history  economics  debt  landlordism  rentseeking  financialization  "capitalism"  parasitism  MichaelHudson  obfuscation 
april 2019 by adamcrowe
Demographic demise | Michael Roberts Blog
There is one outstanding statistical feature of 21st century capitalism.  Capitalism is increasingly failing to develop what Marx called the “productive forces” (namely the technology and labour necessary to expand the output of things and services that human society needs or wants).  As measured by gross national product in all the economies of the world (or per person), world capitalism is finding it more and more difficult to expand.
capitalism  r_vs_g  productivity  financialization  globalization  michael_roberts 
march 2019 by perich

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