Category Archives: Finance and Economics

Economic justice and the true meaning of the parable of the talents

I have, of late, been attending Sunday services at Grace St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Tucson. What that might say about my views on religion is something I’ll save for a later time, but among the things that have drawn me to involve myself with that place are, first of all, its declared mission of caring, openness, social action and inclusion, and secondly, the deep insights into Biblical and related scriptures of its rector, Rev. Steve Keplinger.

In his sermon of November 19, 2017, Rev. Steve Keplinger explains the meaning of the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30). Looking at it in the context of the prevailing culture at the time of Jesus, and the audience he was addressing, Steve’s interpretation will surprise you, as it did me. It makes a great deal more sense than the interpretations I (and probably, you) heard in your earlier religious education.

The first part of the audio recording is a clip from the soundtrack of the movie, Jaws, in which two of the characters compare their scars from wounds suffered in previous encounters. That sets the stage for Steve to describe his spiritual scars that remain from his earlier encounters with incorrect interpretations of that parable. You can listen to it here or on the Grace St. Paul’s website, or you can read the transcript here.

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Central Bank Interventions and the Looming Catastrophe

In this recent interview below, Dr. Paul Craig Roberts describes the “house of cards” that is today’s global regime of money, banking and finance. Since the financial crisis of 2008, the major central banks around the world—the Federal Reserve, the Bank of England, the European Central Bank, the Bank of Japan—have all been active in the securities markets, buying huge amounts of government and corporate bonds and shares of private companies, a process that is euphemistically called “quantitative easing.”

As Roberts points out, these actions are being taken to support the big banks. I agree, but it goes much deeper than that. The underlying objective is to preserve the global interest-based debt-money system which requires continual expansion if debt, an inherent systemic flaw which I call the “debt growth imperative.” The result of these market manipulations, of course, has been the inflation of market bubbles in bonds, stocks, and real estate, and the massive transfer of wealth into the hands of a small segment of the population.

Roberts does not mention it, but the recurrent waves of tax cuts for the rich likewise seem to be designed to keep these market bubbles pumped up. The wealthy class, for the most part, does not spend these windfall gains, they invest them in, you guessed it, bonds, stocks and real estate. If tax cuts were to go mainly to the lower and middle classes, what would they do with the money? They would surely spend much of it, which would stimulate consumption of consumer goods and restore the real economy, but much of it would go toward reducing the massive amounts of debt that these people carry and make it unnecessary for them to borrow even more. A system that requires perpetual expansion of debt cannot tolerate that.
Now, do you understand?

 

Is Big Brother coming to the blockchain?

Financial advisor Jim Rickards thinks so. In a recent article titled, The Global Elites’ Secret Plan for Cryptocurrencies, he says,

“…the crypto-hysteria is distracting you from a scary truth no one is talking about. There is every indication that governments, regulators, tax authorities, and the global elite are moving in for the crypto-kill. The future of Bitcoin may be a dystopia in which Big Brother controls what’s called “the blockchain” and decides when and how you can buy or sell anything and everything. Furthermore, cryptocurrency technology could be the very mechanism used by global elites to replace the dollar based financial system.”

Rickards goes on to say “Blockchain does not exist in the ether (despite the name of one cryptocurrency) and it does not reside on Mars. Blockchain depends on critical infrastructure including servers, telecommunications networks, the banking system, and the power grid, all of which are subject to government control,” then lists a number of significant developments involving major banks, governments, and supra-governmental organizations like the IMF, all relating to their plans to legislate and control the use of blockchain technology, including its use in virtual currencies and financial transactions.

Can they really do that? Of course they can. In the mid-1800s, the U.S. government imposed a tax on banknotes issued by private banks driving them out of circulation; in 1933 the government made it illegal for private individual to own gold, requiring them to surrender their gold holdings in exchange for government sanctioned paper money at the arte of $20.67 per ounce of gold.

What will be the popular response to such measures against virtual currencies? Will people docilely comply, or will there arise massive disobedience and flaunting of the law, just as occurred in the 1930s during Prohibition, and has been ongoing more recently in the war against drugs? If there is such an uprising, I think it will be in defense, not of Bitcoin, but of some yet-to-be-created virtual currency that rewards virtuous behavior and contributions to the common good. –t.h.g.

 

 

 

 

What in the world is going on? — Part 4

In this interview below Paul Craig Roberts describes the neo-conservative ideology that has driven geopolitics since the end of World War II, and discusses the elite agenda, the prospects for the Trump presidency, and the US economy.

He comes closer than in his earlier statements to highlighting the key control mechanism of domination—the global money system, but still falls a bit short, as indicated by his statement that if there is a severe economic crisis in the US, the Federal Reserve “will have to abandon the banks and save the dollar.”

On that I disagree. Roberts seem not to realize that the FED, as well as virtually all of the other central banks of the various countries around the world, is controlled by the big transnational banks, and that they work together to, as Prof. Carroll Quigley said, create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert, by secret agreements arrived at in frequent private meetings and conferences.

The banking elite thereby control not only the dollar, but all of the other major world currencies. If the inflation rates or unemployment rates become too high in one country, the central banks can spread the misery around by monetizing various securities and manipulating interest rates and currency exchange rates.

For the past several decades the US dollar has been their primary monetary tool, but the dollar is not the be all and end all in their schemes. You can be sure that the banking elite always have a plan. At some time in the not too distant future when the dollar has outlived its usefulness, it will be replaced by a single global currency that will give the elite even tighter control over financial, economic, and political affairs around the globe.

The flies in the ointment of their plan are (1) a few governments that are bent on steering an independent monetary and financial course, and (2) the emergence of independent, non-governmental and decentralized exchange mechanisms and currencies. In the first case, Iraq under Saddam Hussein and Libya under Gaddafi were easily disposed of (but at tremendous costs). Russia and China pose a much bigger problem for the elite, hence the stalemate in Syria and the drum beat of propaganda against Putin and the fear mongering against the Chinese. With regard to alternative exchange mechanisms, the proliferation of virtual commodities like Bitcoin and others suggests that elite control may be vulnerable to innovative and disruptive technologies. But these virtual commodities mark only the beginning of the new paradigm in money and finance. Ultimately, ways will be found to create an “internet of credit” based on decentralized, personalized, local control and backed by real goods and services.

CBS Sunday Morning report-Creating new wealth on Sardinia, without cash

This recent report on the popular TV show, CBS Sunday Morning, highlights the effectiveness of direct credit clearing among buyers and sellers of goods and services–a way of doing commerce without the need for money or banks.

See also my own report from my 2015 visit to Sardex.

Human self-domestication or human extinction?

The final segment in today’s episode of Radio Lab (New Normal?) on NPR Radio was a fascinating report on domestication of wild animals, specifically foxes. By selective breeding of the few foxes who did not exhibit avoidance behavior (fear) when approached by humans, a Russian scientist was able, in ten generations, to produce docile domesticated foxes.

This naturally raises the question about the possibility of domesticating human to be less aggressive and more empathetic. In fact, the anthropological evidence suggests that since we began living in settled groups, the human species has long been undergoing a process of self-domestication, this perhaps as a necessary adaptation for living together in harmony. That idea, together with Steven Pinker’s argument that humans are becoming less violent (The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined), gives me cause for hope that humanity will not extinguish itself from planet Earth.

On the other hand, the fact that power is today so concentrated in the hands of a global elite who, by their threatening behavior and objectives of domination, seem not to have sufficiently evolved in that way, is cause for worry. That raises other questions: how can they be prevented from acting irrationally or how can the levers of power that they control be disabled or overridden?–t.h.g.

What can history teach us about the present?

Is there a science of history? Are there patterns in human affairs that tend to repeat themselves? Can we understand what is happening in our time by studying the past? These are questions that have intrigued me for a long time. Based on my study of systems, networks, political economy, and human behavior, my conclusions tends toward the affirmative in each case.

Based on his book, 1177 BC: The Year Civilization Collapsed, Prof. Eric Cline, in this fascinating lecture, looks back more than 3,200 years to describe the collapse of an earlier “global” civilization.  He presents evidence of an elaborate trading network around the Mediterranean which was composed of what he calls “the G8 of the ancient world.”

Here is a portion of the description from the YouTube channel:
“From about 1500 BC to 1200 BC, the Mediterranean region played host to a complex cosmopolitan and globalized world-system. It may have been this very internationalism that contributed to the apocalyptic disaster that ended the Bronze Age. When the end came, the civilized and international world of the Mediterranean regions came to a dramatic halt in a vast area stretching from Greece and Italy in the west to Egypt, Canaan, and Mesopotamia in the east. Large empires and small kingdoms collapsed rapidly. With their end came the world’s first recorded Dark Ages. It was not until centuries later that a new cultural renaissance emerged in Greece and the other affected areas, setting the stage for the evolution of Western society as we know it today. Professor Eric H. Cline of The George Washington University will explore why the Bronze Age came to an end and whether the collapse of those ancient civilizations might hold some warnings for our current society.”

On the same general topic, Ian Morris, Professor of History at Stanford University, in his lecture Why the West Rules — For Now: The Patterns of History, and What They Reveal About the Future, points to the same primary factors that lead to the collapse of civilizations.

Mass migration
Epidemic diseases
State failure
Famine
Climate change

Historically, each collapse had been followed by a “dark age.” Is that what’s in store for us in our time? View the full lecture at https://youtu.be/wnqS7G3LmMo.