from the transcript:
PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I’m Paul Jay in Washington.
Most central banks around the world preach fiscal discipline. Inflation is their biggest concern. And even when they do enter into some stimulus policies, the final objective is still the issue of lowering debt. Well, one central bank in the world apparently has a growth agenda, and that’s in Argentina.
Now joining us to talk about this is John Weeks. John just was in Argentina not very long ago. He’s a professor emeritus at the University of London School of Oriental and African Studies. He’s the author of the book Capital, Exploitation and Economic Crisis. He runs JWeeks.org. And he now joins us again from London. Thanks, John.
JOHN WEEKS, PROFESSOR EMERITUS, UNIV. OF LONDON: Thank you.
JAY: So what did you make of what the central bank’s doing in Argentina?
WEEKS: It’s tremendously important, because in the 1990s Argentina was the epitome of a neoliberal monetary policy. It had something called a currency board, and that currency board involves taking the foreign exchange you hold, which is, in the case of Argentina, dollars, and that your domestic money supply is rigidly tied to the amount of dollars you hold. Of course, the amount of dollars you hold is a result of your imports and exports, the balance between the two, and so in effect you have no independent monetary policy. And it tended to be quite deflationary, that is, it tended to cause not only very low inflation, but actually negative rates, and also very slow growth.
At the end of the 1990s, the disaster that that policy had inherent in it was realized, and in 2001 and 2002 Argentina could no longer maintain that policy, because what it meant, basically, is that if you began to lose dollars because you were—Argentina was running a trade deficit, it meant you had to contract the economy, because you had to take your domestic currency out of circulation, more and more of your domestic currency out of circulation. And that led initially to a severe recession in the economy. When that could no longer be maintained and they temporarily went off the currency board, you had hyperinflation for a year.
Okay. The current government of Cristina Fernández has repudiated that policy. They have introduced a new central bank law (they had actually been practicing it, but they formalized it in this last March, just two months ago) which completely ends the currency board regime and replaces it with a central bank that facilitates a growth-oriented policy of the government. And it also is concerned about inflation, but inflation no longer becomes a constraint, the tail that wags the whole dog.
Banking on GreedJuly 13, 2012
Just when you think the reputation of banks couldn’t get any worse, comes word that we’ve seen nothing yet. As many as 20 banking institutions, including Barclays Bank, Deutsche Bank, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, UBS and HSBC, are reportedly under investigation for illegal and unethical practices toward protecting their profits at all costs and letting others pay for their mistakes. In this episode, financial expert Sheila Bair talks with Bill about the lawlessness of our banking system and the prognosis for meaningful reform. Bair was appointed in 2006 by President George W. Bush to chair the FDIC. During the 2008 meltdown, she argued that in some cases banks were NOT too big to fail — that instead of bailouts, they should be sold off to healthier competitors. Now a senior adviser to the Pew Charitable Trusts, Bair has organized a private group of financial experts including former Fed chairman Paul Volcker, former Senators Bill Bradley and Alan Simpson, and John Reed, once the chairman of Citicorp, to explore ways to prevent the banking industry from scuttling reforms created by the Dodd-Frank Act.
Also on the show, Bill talks to scientist and philosopher Vandana Shiva, who’s become a rock star in the global battle over genetically modified seeds. These seeds — considered “intellectual property” by the big companies who own the patents — are globally marketed to monopolize food production and profits. Opponents challenge the safety of genetically modified seeds, claiming they also harm the environment, are more costly, and leave local farmers deep in debt as well as dependent on suppliers. Shiva, who founded a movement in India to promote native seeds, links genetic tinkering to problems in our ecology, economy, and humanity, and sees this as the latest battleground in the war on Planet Earth.
Footage from Bitter Seeds courtesy of Teddy Bear Films
Paul Jay says until police and their political masters are held responsible under the criminal code, it can all happen again:
from the transcript:
It’s been two years since the Toronto G-20, two years since more than 1,000 people were arrested, hundreds of them brutally clubbed and violently assaulted by police. There’s been a series of reports looking into the police activities. First the Ontario Ombudsman issued a report. Then there was a civilian report looking into the activities of the RCMP, then the Ontario Independent Police Review Director, and now the Independent Civilian Review into matters relating to the G-20 summit—that’s the report issued by the civilian oversight board responsible for the Toronto Police.
Now that all the reviews and reports are in, the question remains: have people responsible been held accountable? And can it all happen again?
But before we dig into all of that, let’s remind ourselves what the G-20 was all about. Let’s take one more look at the big picture.
The 2010 G-20 in Toronto was a declaration by the global governing elite that the economic crisis, largely triggered by banks and financial institutions, would be paid for by ordinary people everywhere. It was also a declaration that force and the violation of basic civil rights would be used against those who protest and resist bearing the consequences of a crisis they didn’t cause. The more than 1,000 arrests at the Toronto G-20 was a statement by the governments of Canada, Ontario, and Toronto that mass protest would be met by mass arrests.
As I pointed out in a previous report, the missing words in the G-20 declaration were higher taxes on the wealthy and higher wages for workers—both obvious solutions to the stated goal of fighting deficits and dealing with a serious lack of demand in the economy.
What the G-20 leaders did agree to was this: “[The] advanced economies have committed to fiscal plans that will at least halve deficits by 2013 and stabilize or reduce government debt-to-GDP ratios by 2016″—we know that means cuts to pensions/social services and other austerity measures. We see this plan being played out across Europe and North America and other countries. The arrests at the G-20 were made in defense of this global strategy.
And now reports from the Ontario Independent Police Review Director and the Ontario Ombudsman have made it clear: the police services responsible during the G-20 violated citizens’ right to free assembly and used excessive force in doing so.
Is Labor A Lost Cause?July 6, 2012
Bill opens this week’s show by explaining how last week’s Supreme Court decision not to reconsider Citizens United exposes the hoax that Citizens United was ever about “free” speech. In reality, Bill says in a broadcast essay, it’s about carpet bombing elections “with all the tonnage your rich paymasters want to buy.”
Also lost in the Supreme media chatter last week: a disturbing ruling in Knox vs. SEIU Local 1000 that restricts labor unions from directing collected dues toward political causes. There’s no similar limit on corporations, naturally – yet another indication that the power and status of modern unions is waning, especially when compared to the unbridled influence of Corporate America. With a sharp decline in union membership, a legion of new enemies, and a series of legal and legislative setbacks, can unions rebound and once again act strongly in the interest of ordinary workers?
On this week’s Moyers & Company, Bill talks to two people who can best answer the question: Stephen Lerner and Bill Fletcher, Jr. The architect of the SEIU’s Justice for Janitors movement, Lerner directed SEIU’s private equity project, which worked to expose a Wall Street feeding frenzy that left the working class in a state of catastrophe. Fletcher took his Harvard degree to the Massachusetts shipyards, and worked as a welder before becoming a labor activist. He served as Assistant to the President of the AFL-CIO, and is author of the upcoming book “They’re Bankrupting Us!”: And 20 Other Myths about Unions.
Later in the show, Bill talks with and invites readings by poet Philip Appleman, whose creativity spans a long life filled with verse, fiction, philosophy, religion… and Darwinism. Appleman’s latest collection is Perfidious Proverbs.
There’s no evidence that a low capital gains tax rate boosts the stock market, investment, or the economy [New]
There is no sound evidence that cutting capital gains taxes to levels far below ordinary income tax rates contributes to economic growth at all — let alone enough to outweigh the significant economic cost of doing so.
- - Federal Reserve economists concluded in 2005 that the 2003 capital gains and dividend tax cut had little effect on the stock market: European and U.S. stocks performed similarly both after the announcement of the tax cut and after the tax cut itself, as this chart shows. As the Wall Street Journal stated, the study “concludes that the tax cut … was a dud when it came to boosting the stock market.”
- - “[T]here is no evidence that links aggregate economic performance to capital gains tax rates,” according to University of Michigan tax economist Joel Slemrod.
- - There is no statistically significant correlation between the top capital gains rate and economic growth (see chart).
- - As Len Burman, Syracuse University tax professor and former director of the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center (TPC), has explained of this chart, “Many other things have changed at the same time as [capital] gains rates and many other factors affect economic growth. But the graph should dispel the silver bullet theory of capital gains taxes. Cutting capital gains taxes will not turbocharge the economy and raising them would not usher in a depression.”
- - There is also no statistically significant correlation between the capital gains rate and the amount of real business investment.
Check out the other 9 things you need to know too.
Confronting the Contradictions of America’s PastJune 29, 2012
Bill opens this weekend’s Moyers & Company with a reminder that behind this Fourth of July holiday are human beings, like Thomas Jefferson, who were as flawed and conflicted as they were inspired, who espoused great humanistic ideals while behaving with reprehensible racial discrimination. That conflict – between what we know and how we live – is still a struggle in contemporary politics and society.
No stranger to the contradictions of history and their racial touchpoints is Bill’s studio guest Khalil Gibran Muhammad, head of the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and author of The Condemnation of Blackness. Muhammad and Moyers discuss the importance of confronting the contradictions of America’s past to better understand present issues of race and equality.
In the 2nd Part ‘America has an Industrial Policy – It’s Run by the Pentagon’ Robert Pollin argues that we need an industrial policy aimed at jobs and a green economy, not massive public spending on the military:
from the transcript:
PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I’m Paul Jay in Baltimore.
As the American economy remains mired in recession, there’s a lot of debate, as there has been in the past, about whether or not America needs an industrial policy, that is, a government-led policy directed at growth and employment. Well, when one hears talk of this, you hear the critique, no, the free market must reign, you can’t have an industrial policy, government doesn’t know how to do any of this, it should stay the heck out. The problem is that in this debate, often not taken into account is the fact that there already is an industrial policy in the United States. The problem is it’s being led by the Pentagon. And the question is: is that the right place for an industrial policy to be housed?
and in the 4th part ‘What Would a Green Industrial Strategy Look Like?’ Robert Pollin argues that shifting spending from the military-industrial complex to a green economy would create more jobs and build a sustainable industrial base:
from the transcript:
PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I’m Paul Jay in Baltimore.
We’re continuing our series of interviews about the question: does the United States need a new industrial policy? And I say new because as we have pointed out in these series of interviews, there is an industrial policy in the United States and it’s called militarism. Some people have called it the military-industrial-congressional complex. So does America need a different industrial policy than that?
1. Matt Taibbi and Yves Smith on the Follies of Big Banks and Government: Matt Taibbi and Yves Smith join Bill to discuss how the folly and corruption of both banks and government leaves deep wounds in our democracy (26:58).
2. Peter Eldelman on Fighting Poverty: Bill talks with the author and advocate about continuing efforts to fight poverty, and how to keep the needs of the poor on the American political agenda (25:48).
How Big Banks Victimize Our DemocracyJune 22, 2012
JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon’s appearances in the last two weeks before Congressional committees — many members of which received campaign contributions from the megabank — beg the question: For how long and how many ways are average Americans going to pay the price for big bank hubris, with our own government acting as accomplice?
On this week’s Moyers & Company, Rolling Stone editor Matt Taibbi and Yves Smith, creator of the finance and economics blog Naked Capitalism, join Bill to discuss the folly and corruption of both banks and government, and how that tag-team leaves deep wounds in our democracy. Taibbi’s latest piece is “The Scam Wall Street Learned from the Mafia.” Smith is the author of ECONned: How Unenlightened Self Interest Undermined Democracy and Corrupted Capitalism.
Meanwhile, for anyone who wants to understand why, in one of the richest nations in the world, so many poor people are teetering on the edge, author and advocate Peter Edelman talks about continuing efforts to fight poverty, and what it will take to keep the needs of poor people on the American political agenda. A former aide to Robert F. Kennedy and faculty director of Georgetown University’s Center on Poverty, Inequality, and Public Policy, Edelman’s new book is So Rich, So Poor: Why It’s So Hard to End Poverty in America.
Do you see ‘Tax Cuts’ there? No? Me neither. How about ‘Tax Code Loopholes’? No? No. Apparently spending less on ‘Tax Cuts’ or closing tax code loopholes is not an option. Conservative hegemony at work as Paul would say.
Rebecca Ray, a Research Associate for the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), explains in her Real News interview:
Transcript at the link:
REBECCA RAY: So the remarkable thing about Ecuador’s experience with the recession is that they came out of the recession after only three quarters of declining GDP, and it only took them four additional quarters to reach their previous GDP levels. Meanwhile, their poverty, unemployment levels, these are all lower than they were before the crisis already, well below. [Unemployment's] at a record low.
What an excellent film! I wonder how did I miss it all this time. Missing describes the story of the disappearance of U.S. citizen Charles Horman in the violent aftermath of the the 1973 military coup in Chile. Horman was in Chile at the time along with his wife, Beth Horman, and his friend, Terry Simon. His father, Ed Horman, flew to Chile to join Beth in trying to find Charles. Ed was under the impression the U.S. embassy in Chile would help him.
Here’s the description on the Wikipedia article:
Missing is a 1982 American drama film directed by Costa Gavras, and starring Jack Lemmon, Sissy Spacek, Melanie Mayron, John Shea, Charles Cioffi and Janice Rule. It is based on the true story of American journalist Charles Horman, who disappeared in the bloody aftermath of the US-backed Chilean coup of 1973 that deposed leftist President Salvador Allende.
The film was banned in Chile during Pinochet‘s dictatorship, even though neither Chile nor Pinochet are specifically mentioned by name in the film (although the Chilean cities of Viña del Mar and Santiago are).
Both the film and Thomas Hauser‘s book The Execution of Charles Horman were removed from the United States market following a lawsuit filed against Costa-Gavras and Universal Pictures‘s parent company MCA by former Ambassador Nathaniel Davis and two others for defamation of character. A lawsuit against Hauser himself was dismissed because the statute of limitations had expired. Davis and his compatriots lost their lawsuit, after which the film was re-released by Universal in 2006.
There is a fascinating interview with Peter Kornbluth, director of the National Security Archive’s Chile Documentation Project at George Washington University, in the 2nd disc. As you can imagine the State Department took issue with the film at the time. When Bill Clinton declassified some relevant documents things changed. Can you imagine Barack Obama doing such a thing? Me neither.
Krugman wipes the floor with the two pro-austerity guests:
And the segment where Krugman detailed his view of the current situation to the BBC host:
UPDATE: There was another segment with Paul Krugman and an ex finance minister of Greece. It’s at the 6 minute mark:
And here’s the entire BBC program:
My latest op-ed at Al Jazeera English is here. It begins like this:
NATO Summit Highlights Neo-con/Neo-liberal Overlap
More similar than different, both of America’s recent imperial ideologies have failed.
By Paul Rosenberg
As the general election phase of the American presidential election gets underway, the recent NATO summit serves as a potent reminder of just how little difference there ultimately is between the neo-con extremists who dominated US foreign policy under George W. Bush, and the neo-liberals who run just about everything in the Obama Administration.
Most notably, dozens of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans returned their medals in a mass action that recalled Operation Dewey Canyon III, in April, 1971, when more than a thousand members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War held five days of marches and demonstrations against the Vietnam War in Washington, DC, including a memorial service near the Tomb of the Unknown and a ceremony on the Capitol steps where more than 800 veterans returned their combat medals.
Sgt. Alejandro Villatoro introduced the other veterans at the NATO protests: “At this time, one by one, veterans of the wars of NATO will walk up on stage. They will tell us why they chose to return their medals to NATO. I urge you to honor them by listening to their stories. Nowhere else will you hear from so many who fought these wars about their journey from fighting a war to demanding peace. Some of us killed innocents. Some of us helped in continuing these wars from home. Some of us watched our friends die. Some of us are not here, because we took our own lives. We did not get the care promised to us by our government. All of us watched failed policies turn into bloodshed.”
To read the whole piece, click here.
A Long Beach hospital charged Jo Ann Snyder $6,707 for a CT scan of her abdomen and pelvis after colon surgery. But because she had health insurance with Blue Shield of California, her share was much less: $2,336. Then Snyder tripped across one of the little-known secrets of healthcare: If she hadn’t used her insurance, her bill would have been even lower, just $1,054. “I couldn’t believe it,” said Snyder, a 57-year-old hair salon manager. “I was really upset that I got charged so much and Blue Shield allowed that. You expect them to work harder for you and negotiate a better deal.”
Unknown to most consumers, many hospitals and physicians offer steep discounts for cash-paying patients regardless of income. But there’s a catch: Typically you can get the lowest price only if you don’t use your health insurance. That disparity in pricing is coming under fire from people like Snyder, who say it’s unfair for patients who pay hefty insurance premiums and deductibles to be penalized with higher rates for treatment. The difference in price can be stunning. Los Alamitos Medical Center, for instance, lists a CT scan of the abdomen on a state website for $4,423. Blue Shield says its negotiated rate at the hospital is about $2,400. When The Times called for a cash price, the hospital said it was $250.
“It frustrates people because there’s no correlation between what things cost and what is charged,” said Paul Keckley, executive director of the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions, a research arm of the accounting firm. “It changes the game when healthcare’s secrets aren’t so secret.” Snyder’s experience is hardly unique. In addition to Los Alamitos, The Times contacted seven other hospitals across Southern California, and nearly all had similar disparities between what a patient would pay through an insurer and the cash price offered for a common CT, or computed tomography, scan, which provides a more detailed image than an X-ray.
I rolled my eyes when I read Mrs. Snyder’s comments. Not that I disagreed with her expectations about health-care costs. But Blue Shield and the rest in the AHIP cartel don’t care about the price American’s pay. They care how to make the most money they can and if that means screwing the public that’s what will happen.