Posts Tagged ‘Spain’

The passing scene – August 5, 2015

August 5, 2015

Here are links to interesting articles I’ve come across recently.  I may add links during the day.  The comment thread is open to general and off-topic comments.

Businesses Flee Catalonia, Foreign Investment Plunges as Confrontation With Spain Comes to a Boil by Don Quijones for Wolf Street.

The Mother of All Storms Builds Over Catalonia’s Independence by Don Quijones for Wolf Street.

A coalition of parties in Catalonia say they will declare independence from Spain if they win the provincial elections September 27.   Madrid will not recognize the results if the vote is “yes”, so the worst case possibility is a new Spanish civil war.

Want to Know How the Banks Got Greece to Surrender? Explaining Bank Power 101 by Ellen Brown for the World of Debt blog (via Alternet)

ECB’s economic hitmen on the unbalanced evolution of homo sapiens web site.

The Costs of Accountability by Jerry Z. Muller on The American Interest.

Governments justify turning over decision-making to central banks on the grounds that they are thereby substituting objective metrics, benchmarks and performance indicators for fallible human judgment.  But at best, these metrics are human judgement once-removed and, at worst, masks for covert human agendas.

Who is Jeremy Corbyn? An international reader’s guide to the British politician by James Walsh for The Guardian.

Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters aren’t mad – they’re fleeing a bankrupt New Labor by Owen Jones for The Guardian.

Jeremy Corbyn, the emerging new leader of the British Labor Party, seems a lot like Bernie Sanders.  He is an aging, formerly obscure member of Parliament who wants to return the party to its original principles.   His strong grass-roots support surprises and alarms the entrenched party leaders.

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Austerity: the global reach of a bad ideology

January 23, 2015

2014-12-25-racetothebottom-thumbThe Western world is in the grip of a bad idea that its governments can’t seem to shake off—although its peoples are starting to.

The idea is called “austerity.” It is the belief that public goods must be destroyed in order to increase private wealth.

Banks impose this policy on indebted nations such as Greece.  They say the governments must curtail public services, including schools and public health, while raising taxes and adopting economic policies that will result in higher prices and lower wages.

Supposedly the money saved can be used to pay off the nation’s debts.  The problem is that so-called austerity destroys the nation’s ability to generate new wealth, and so, as long as countries accept the “austerity” meme, they stay in debt indefinitely.

Nations that default on their debts, as American states frequently did in the era before the Civil War, are threatened with loss of credit.  But the fact is that the banking system literally has more money than the bankers know what to do with.  In practice, lending always starts up again after a few years.

Members of the European Union that use the Euro as their currency have a special problem.  Historically the exchange rates of currencies fell when the issuing nation had a balance of payments deficit.  This tended to bring the balance of trade into balance, because their exports became cheaper in relation to foreign currencies and their imports became more expensive.

Under austerity, nations attempt to achieve the same thing by increasing prices, lowering wages and cutting government services.  Unlike with change in the exchange rate, the burden does not fall upon the whole nation equally, but only on the less wealthy and politically powerless.

Austerity involves raising taxes, but never taxes on the wealthy.  That is because the wealthy are considered to be the “job creators” who must be catered to in order to bring about economic recovery.

The “job creator” philosophy is popular here in the USA.  The saying is, “No poor man ever gave me a job.”  The conclusion is that the key to jobs is to have more and richer rich people.

Well, we Americans have made that experiment, repeatedly, and it hasn’t worked.

If we want mass prosperity, we need to invest in the things that create wealth—education, public infrastructure and scientific research—and then see that the benefits of the new wealth are widely spread, so as to create markets for private business.

We Americans once made that experiment, too, and it did work.

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The passing scene: Links & comments 11/12/13

November 12, 2013

Mondragon and the System Problem by Gar Alperovitz and Thomas M. Hanna for Truthout.

The Mondragon Corporation, based in Spain’s Basque country, is a federation of worker-owned cooperatives employing 80,000 people, which is often held up as an example of a successful alternative to the investor-owned corporation.

But recently one of its biggest units, Fagor Electrodomesticos, a manufacturer of dishwashers, cookers and other appliances, had to file for production from creditors under Spain’s bankruptcy laws.  Alperovitz and Hanna say that this is no reflection on Mondragon’s effective internal model, but that this model does not shield it from a bad Spanish and world economy.

Socialism in One Village by Belen Fernandez for Jacobin magazine.

The village of Marinadela in Andalusia calls itself a “utopia towards peace.”  It has full employment, affordable housing, no crime and free Wi Fi, thanks to a local economy based on a worker-owned farm cooperative.

Fernandez said it is not really a utopia.  It has not escaped the effects of Spain’s recession and its politics are dominated by its charismatic mayor and his clique.  But it sets an example to the rest of Spain and of the world as to what is possible.

All Can Be Lost: The Risk of Putting Our Knowledge in the Hands of Machines by Nicholas Carr for The Atlantic Monthly.

Computers on average are more reliable than human judgment, so we rely on them to fly airplanes, diagnose illness, design buildings and a whole lot of other things.  The problem is that for any human capacity, you lose it if you don’t use it, and that creates big problems when computers fail.

How Republicans Rig the Game by Tim Dickinson for Rolling Stone.

The Republicans are becoming a minority party, but they hold on to power by means of gerrymandering, voter suppression and abuse of the filibuster.  Why don’t the Democrats make an issue of this?

The unemployment rate for veterans remains incredibly high by Brad Plumer for the Washington Post’s Wonkblog.

The job market is tough for everybody, but tougher for veterans because of service-connected disabilities, lack of civilian work experience, and employers’ failure to recognize relevant military work experience.