No country has successfully challenged the U.S. dollar’s global hegemony—until now. How did this happen and what will it mean?
Foreign critics have long chafed at the “exorbitant privilege” of the U.S. dollar as global reserve currency. The U.S. can issue this currency backed by nothing but the “full faith and credit of the United States.” Foreign governments, needing dollars, not only accept them in trade but buy U.S. securities with them, effectively funding the U.S. government and its foreign wars. But no government has been powerful enough to break that arrangement—until now. How did that happen and what will it mean for the U.S. and global economies? Continue reading
The government wants your money. Continue reading
As Bitcoin prices rise, so will the incentive to mine it, creating a feedback loop that spells trouble for the climate.
For advocates of cryptocurrency, the promise of an economic future that is managed by a blockchain (a decentralized database that is shared among the nodes of a computer network, as opposed to being held in a single location, such as a central bank) is compelling. For anyone paying attention, the rapid expansion of cryptocurrency has been stunning. In 2019, the global cryptocurrency market was approximately $793 million. It’s now expected to reach nearly $5.2 billion by 2026, according to a report by the market research organization Facts and Factors. In just one year—between July 2020 and June 2021—the global adoption of cryptocurrency surged by more than 880 percent. Continue reading
Last month, for instance, Bloomberg reporters tracked down the world’s 25 richest families. Ten of the 25 happened to come from the United States. No other nation had more than four. Continue reading
Projection sums up the entire four years of Donald Trump’s chaotic administration in that while he and his cohorts were trying to convince the world that Joe Biden was tied financially in some way to Ukraine and China, his administration was bought and paid for by foreign interests. In addition to cash outlays to Team Trump, Steve Bannon’s international bloc of fascist parties and individuals contributed in kind with social media gaslighting and other propaganda campaigns designed to perpetuate unfounded rumor on Biden, Covid-19, and other subjects. Continue reading
A few years ago, after the 2007-2008 financial crisis, some clever people, whose identity is hidden behind the appellation of ‘Satoshi Nakamoto’, devised a decentralized electronic system of payments, which is independent of the existing traditional banking system. It is based on a new form of digital ‘currencies’ or ‘electronic currencies’, the ‘cryptocurrencies’. Some observers have called the cryptocurrency innovation a sort of a new 21st Century digital gold rush. Continue reading
Poverty in America disproportionately affects women and people of color, and that is precisely what hinders political action to address it—even when solutions abound.
An ongoing study conducted in Stockton, California, examines how the lives of low-income Americans can improve if they are simply given money—a modest, but reliable source of income with no strings attached. The Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration (SEED) randomly chose 125 participants from poverty-stricken residential areas and gave them $500 per month to simply use for whatever they wanted over the last two years. A majority of the participants were women (69 percent) and people of color (53 percent). Preliminary results from the first year are tantalizing for anyone interested in solutions to address rising inequality in the United States, especially as they manifest along racial and gender lines. Within the first year, the study’s participants obtained jobs at twice the rate of the control group. At the beginning of the study, 28 percent of the participants had full-time employment, and after the first year, that number rose to 40 percent. Continue reading
The reporters behind the Panama Papers and the Paradise Papers have more to share. We should pay attention.
On September 20, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) –the reporters who brought us the “Panama Papers” and the “Paradise Papers”—released the “FinCEN Files,” in collaboration with Buzzfeed News. Continue reading
A central bank-financed UBI can fill the debt gap, providing a vital safety net while preventing cyclical recessions.
According to an April 6 article on CNBC.com, Spain is slated to become the first country in Europe to introduce a universal basic income (UBI) on a long-term basis. Spain’s minister for economic affairs has announced plans to roll out a UBI “as soon as possible,” with the goal of providing a nationwide basic wage that supports citizens “forever.” Guy Standing, a research professor at the University of London, told CNBC that there was no prospect of a global economic revival without a universal basic income. “It’s almost a no-brainer,” he said. “We are going to have some sort of basic income system sooner or later ….” Continue reading
In what is being called the worst financial crisis since 1929, the US stock market has lost a third of its value in the space of a month, wiping out all of its gains of the last three years. When the Federal Reserve tried to ride to the rescue, it only succeeded in making matters worse. The government then pulled out all the stops. To our staunchly capitalist leaders, socialism is suddenly looking good. Continue reading
While U.S. advocates and local politicians struggle to get their first public banks chartered, Mexico’s new president has begun construction on 2,700 branches of a government-owned bank to be completed in 2021, when it will be the largest bank in the country. At a press conference on Jan. 6, he said the neoliberal model had failed; private banks were not serving the poor and people outside the cities, so the government had to step in. Continue reading
Although the repo market is little known to most people, it is a $1-trillion-a-day credit machine, in which not just banks but hedge funds and other “shadow banks” borrow to finance their trades. Under the Federal Reserve Act, the central bank’s lending window is open only to licensed depository banks; but the Fed is now pouring billions of dollars into the repo (repurchase agreements) market, in effect making risk-free loans to speculators at less than 2%. Continue reading
Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan called Paul Volcker “the most effective chairman in the history of the Federal Reserve.” But while Volcker, who passed away Dec. 8 at age 92, probably did have the greatest historical impact of any Fed chairman, his legacy is, at best, controversial. Continue reading
When the Federal Reserve cut interest rates on July 31 for the first time in more than a decade, commentators were asking why. According to official data, the economy was rebounding, unemployment was below 4%, and GDP growth was above 3%. If anything, by the Fed’s own reasoning, it should have been raising rates. Continue reading
After years of being kept in the doldrums by orchestrated short selling described by Roberts and Kranzler, gold has lately moved up sharply reaching $1,510 last Wednesday morning. The gold price has continued to rise despite the continuing practice of dumping large volumes of naked contracts in the futures market. The gold price is driven down but quickly recovers and moves on up. I haven’t an explanation at this time for the new force that is more powerful than the short-selling that has been used to control the price of gold. Continue reading
The Democratic Party has clearly swung to the progressive left, with candidates in the first round of presidential debates coming up with one program after another to help the poor, the disadvantaged and the struggling middle class. Proposals ranged from a Universal Basic Income to Medicare for All to a Green New Deal to student debt forgiveness and free college tuition. The problem, as Stuart Varney observed on FOX Business, was that no one had a viable way to pay for it all without raising taxes or taking from other programs, a hard sell to voters. If robbing Peter to pay Paul is the only alternative, the proposals will go the way of Trump’s trillion dollar infrastructure bill for lack of funding. Continue reading
Payments can happen cheaply and easily without banks or credit card companies. This has now been demonstrated—not in the United States but in China. Unlike in the US, where numerous firms feast on fees from handling and processing payments, in China most money flows through mobile phones nearly for free. In 2018, these cashless payments totaled a whopping $41.5 trillion; and 90% were through Alipay and WeChat Pay, a pair of digital ecosystems that blend social media, commerce and banking. Continue reading
The U.S. federal debt has more than doubled since the 2008 financial crisis, shooting up from $9.4 trillion in mid-2008 to over $22 trillion in April 2019. The debt is never paid off. The government just keeps paying the interest on it, and interest rates are rising. Continue reading
As alarm bells sound over the advancing destruction of the environment, a variety of Green New Deal proposals have appeared in the US and Europe, along with some interesting academic debates about how to fund them. Monetary policy, normally relegated to obscure academic tomes and bureaucratic meetings behind closed doors, has suddenly taken center stage. Continue reading
“Quantitative easing” was supposed to be an emergency measure. The Federal Reserve “eased” shrinkage in the money supply due to the 2008-09 credit crisis by pumping out trillions of dollars in new bank reserves. After the crisis, the presumption was that the Fed would “normalize” conditions by sopping up the excess reserves through “quantitative tightening” (QT)—raising interest rates and selling the securities it had bought with new reserves back into the market. Continue reading
Calls for a Universal Basic Income have been increasing, most recently as part of the Green New Deal introduced by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and supported in the last month by at least 40 members of Congress. A Universal Basic Income (UBI) is a monthly payment to all adults with no strings attached, similar to Social Security. Critics say the Green New Deal asks too much of the rich and upper-middle-class taxpayers who will have to pay for it, but taxing the rich is not what the resolution proposes. It says funding would primarily come from the federal government, “using a combination of the Federal Reserve, a new public bank or system of regional and specialized public banks,” and other vehicles. Continue reading
With what Naomi Klein calls “galloping momentum,” the “Green New Deal” promoted by newly-elected Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) appears to be forging a political pathway for solving all of the ills of society and the planet in one fell swoop. It would give a House Select Committee “a mandate that connects the dots between energy, transportation, housing, as well as healthcare, living wages, a jobs guarantee” and more. But to critics even on the left it is just political theater, since “everyone knows” a program of that scope cannot be funded without a massive redistribution of wealth and slashing of other programs (notably the military), which is not politically feasible. Continue reading
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
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
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
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
In May 2017, a team of researchers at the University of Oxford published the results of a survey of the world’s best artificial intelligence experts, who predicted that there was a 50 percent chance of AI outperforming humans in all tasks within 45 years. All human jobs were expected to be automated in 120 years, with Asian respondents expecting these dates much sooner than North Americans. In theory, that means we could all retire and enjoy the promised age of universal leisure. But the immediate concern for most people is that they will be losing their jobs to machines. Continue reading
The Trump agenda, it seems, is not set in stone. The president-elect has a range of advisors with as many ideas. Steven Mnuchin, his nominee for Treasury secretary, said in November that “we’ll take a look at everything,” even the possibility of extending the maturity of the federal debt with 50-year or 100-year bonds to take advantage of unusually low interest rates. Continue reading