Category Archives: Economy

China tariffs are a regressive tax on Americans, and risk a recession

“I am a Tariff Man,” Trump tweeted last week. “When people or countries come in to raid the great wealth of our Nation, I want them to pay for the privilege of doing so. . . . We are right now taking in $billions in Tariffs. MAKE AMERICA RICH AGAIN.” Continue reading

Trump takes on General Motors (and guess who wins?

Donald Trump’s “America first” economic nationalism is finally crashing into the reality of America’s shareholder-first global capitalism. Continue reading

The next crash

Sorry to deliver the news, but it’s time to worry about the next crash. Continue reading

Trump’s war on the Fed

October was a brutal month for the stock market. After the Fed’s eighth interest rate hike on September 26, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped more than 2,000 points and the NASDAQ had its worst month in nearly 10 years. Continue reading

One more time: ‘Payroll taxes’ are not taxes!

Anybody should have known the Trumpies significantly lowering federal income taxes for elite rich civilians would increase the budget deficit, as would significantly increasing military expenditures for poor soldiers, sailors, and airmen, and their staff, and their fat cat civilian corporate suppliers. Continue reading

The truth about the Trump economy

I keep hearing that although Trump is a scoundrel or worse, at least he’s presiding over a great economy. Continue reading

Breaking with Wall Street: L.A. takes it to the voters

“Wall Street owns the country.” That was the opening line of a fiery speech by populist leader Mary Ellen Lease in 1890. Franklin Roosevelt said it again in a letter to Colonel House in 1933, and Sen. Dick Durbin was still saying it in 2009. “The banks—hard to believe in a time when we’re facing a banking crisis that many of the banks created—are still the most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill,” Durbin said in an interview. “And they frankly own the place.” Continue reading

NAFTA 2.0 is another bad deal

US free trade deals are profoundly unfair. They facilitate offshoring of jobs to China and other low-wage countries. Continue reading

The three big lessons we didn’t learn from the economic crisis

Ten years ago, after making piles of money gambling with other people’s money, Wall Street nearly imploded, and the outgoing George W. Bush and incoming Obama administrations bailed out the bankers. Continue reading

Central banks have gone rogue, putting us all at risk

Central bankers are now aggressively playing the stock market. To say they are buying up the planet may be an exaggeration, but they could. They can create money at will, and they have declared their “independence” from government. They have become rogue players in a game of their own. Continue reading

More jobs fictions

According to Friday’s payroll jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the economy created 200,000 new jobs in August. These jobs, assuming that they exist, are reported to be in low paid domestic service jobs such as transporting and selling goods, ambulatory health care services, and waiting tables and mixing drinks. There are none in manufacturing or in the “high tech clean fingernail” jobs that neoliberal economists promised the American work force in exchange for letting the industrial and manufacturing jobs go to Asia. Continue reading

The economy is supposed to be great, so why are workers miserable?

Quantity is on one thing, but quality is what really matters when it comes to jobs

It’s practically unanimous: Nine out of 10 establishment economists agree that America’s solid job growth and the low unemployment rate truly make ours “The Land of Opportunity.” Continue reading

The next crash

September 15 will mark the tenth anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers and near meltdown of Wall Street, followed by the Great Recession. Continue reading

Our economy is more concentrated than ever

Just four tech superpowers raked in half of this year’s stock price gains by the 500 largest corporations.

America’s political history has been written in the fierce narrative of war. Not our country’s many military clashes with foreign nations, but our own unending war for democracy in the United States. Continue reading

How China’s mobile ecosystems are making banks obsolete

Giant Chinese tech companies have bypassed credit cards and banks to create their own low-cost digital payment systems.

The US credit card system siphons off excessive amounts of money from merchants, who must raise their prices to cover this charge. In a typical $100 credit card purchase, only $97.25 goes to the seller. The rest goes to banks and processors. But who can compete with Visa and MasterCard? Continue reading

How Trump’s war on regulation is trickle-down economics

When Trump’s not blaming foreigners for everything that ails America, he’s blaming regulations. Continue reading

Trump and the art of the no deal

Donald Trump promised to be America’s dealmaker-in-chief, touting his “extraordinary” ability to negotiate. But so far, Trump has shown he can’t make a deal. Continue reading

Americans live in a world of lies

The US government and the presstitutes that serve it continue to lie to us about everything. Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics told us that the unemployment rate was 3.9%. How can this be when the BLS also reports that the labor force participation rate has declined for a decade throughout the length of the alleged economic recovery and there is no upward pressure on wages from full employment. When jobs are plentiful, people enter the labor force to take advantage of the work opportunities. This raises the labor force participation rate. When employment is full—which is what a 3.9% unemployment rate means—wages are bid up as employers compete for scarce labor. Full employment with no wage pressure and no rise in the labor force participation rate is impossible. Continue reading

Trump takes on the Fed

The president has criticized Federal Reserve policy for undermining his attempts to build the economy. To make the central bank serve the needs of the economy, it needs to be transformed into a public utility. Continue reading

The City of London and Grand Theft Ethiopia

For decades now, going back to when Bob Geldoff handed over millions in cash to Meles Zenawi during “We Are the World” circa 1983-4 supposedly for food aid for the victims of what was then the Great Ethiopian Famine, the City of London has been at the heart of Grand Theft Ethiopia, grand theft Africa really. Continue reading

A public bank for Los Angeles?

City council puts it to the voters

California legislators exploring the public bank option may be breaking not just from Wall Street but from the Federal Reserve. Continue reading

What Big Meat doesn’t want you to know about slaughterhouses

It has happened at slaughterhouses run by Smithfield Foods, Swift and Agriprocessors. Continue reading

When it comes to the economy, Trump keeps two sets of books

The May jobs numbers were good last week—so swell, in fact, that our putative president couldn’t resist hinting about them in an early morning tweet last Friday morning, a major breach of confidentiality and protocol that instantly affected Treasury yields—basically, the interest rate at which the government borrows money. Continue reading

Is Donald Trump a new Herbert Hoover with his policy of isolationism and protectionism?

American president Donald Trump seems intent to isolate the U.S. economy from neighboring economies, and even from the world economy, and thus to break with three quarters of a century of closer economic cooperation between countries, established after World War II. There is a clear danger that the international economic system could become structurally unsettled for years to come, which does not mean that such a system is not in need of reform. Continue reading

Blackstone, BlackRock or a public bank?

California needs over $700 billion in infrastructure during the next decade. Where will this money come from? The $1.5 trillion infrastructure initiative unveiled by President Trump in February 2018 includes only $200 billion in federal funding, and less than that after factoring in the billions in tax cuts in infrastructure-related projects. The rest is to come from cities, states, private investors and public-private partnerships (PPPs) one. And since city and state coffers are depleted, that chiefly means private investors and PPPs, which have a shady history at best. Continue reading

Fox in the hen house: Why interest rates are rising

On March 31, the Federal Reserve raised its benchmark interest rate for the sixth time in 3 years and signaled its intention to raise rates twice more in 2018, aiming for a fed funds target of 3.5% by 2020. LIBOR (the London Interbank Offered Rate) has risen even faster than the fed funds rate, up to 2.3% from just 0.3% 2–1/2 years ago. LIBOR is set in London by private agreement of the biggest banks, and the interest on $3.5 trillion globally is linked to it, including $1.2 trillion in consumer mortgages. Continue reading

The dangerous deficit in trade understanding

I was chatting with my tobacconist the other day—I have no rabbi, no priest, no minister, no imam, no chiropractor, and no lawyer, but I do have a tobacconist—when it struck me that my trade deficit with him is astronomical. Continue reading

The war on the post office

The US Postal Service, under attack from a manufactured crisis designed to force its privatization, needs a new source of funding to survive. Postal banking could fill that need. Continue reading

Funding infrastructure: Why China Is running circles around America

“One Belt, One Road,” China’s $1 trillion infrastructure initiative, is a massive undertaking of highways, pipelines, transmission lines, ports, power stations, fiber optics, and railroads connecting China to Central Asia, Europe and Africa. According to Dan Slane, a former advisor in President Trump’s transition team, “It is the largest infrastructure project initiated by one nation in the history of the world and is designed to enable China to become the dominant economic power in the world.” In a January 29 article, titled “Trump’s Plan a Recipe for Failure, Former Infrastructure Advisor Says,” he added, “If we don’t get our act together very soon, we should all be brushing up on our Mandarin.” Continue reading

Why we need rise-up economics, not trickle-down

How to build the economy? Not through trickle-down economics. Tax cuts to the rich and big corporations don’t lead to more investment and jobs. Continue reading

How Uncle Sam launders marijuana money

Thirty states and the District of Columbia currently have laws broadly legalizing marijuana in some form. The herb has been shown to have significant therapeutic value for a wide range of medical conditions, including cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, glaucoma, lung disease, anxiety, muscle spasms, hepatitis C, inflammatory bowel disease, and arthritis pain. Continue reading

How one coal baron set an entire administration’s energy agenda

In a political system awash in money, it's Big Coal vs. democracy.

It’s common knowledge that our political system is awash with money. And that money, despite some flimsy legal barriers, comes with strings attached. Continue reading