Thursday, March 28, 2013

The issue is not #capitalism under new management, but the transformation of #capitalism itself. #neoliberalism #cdnecon

More and more I tend to agree with George Monbiot that it is not neoliberalism in and of itself as an ideology or economic theory that is the root cause of our economic/political/social woes, but the ruling oligarchy’s alibiing use of that model to further their own wealth no matter the harm that results from that quest. (Is it any wonder they’re called “the feral rich.”) The distinction is important because it shifts the strategic focus to the plutocratic investor class itself and in turn their banking, regulatory, and corporate institutions - their agents of destruction -  which are served of course by compliant governments everywhere and nowhere more so than right here in Canada. Our banks are now “too big too fail.” This is, sad to say,  the point to which the financialization of the Canadian economy has descended: 80% of  financial assets are held in these institutions. Be prepared for the socializing of bank debt down the road now that the framework's in place; that is, you'll pay for any bailouts.

More and more too I find myself in agreement with both Greg Albo and Leo Panitch, who have argued persuasively that progressives groups here (including the Council of Canadians) and elsewhere are very big on tactics and “micro-politics” but woefully lacking in overall strategy and considerations of  long-term consequences. I would add to their basic argument that the self-interest of the progressive groups each with its own agenda determined largely by their executives - as is the case with political parties - will no doubt continue to inhibit any collectivizing co-operative movement towards a larger, focused pragmatic goal of institutionalizing social democratic controls.

For a brief moment, there was a ray hope with the establishment of CommonCauses, but apparently all they wish to do is replicate the actions of other progressive groups and to replace the Harper Regime. The issue of course is much larger than that simplistic goal. The issue is not capitalism under new management, but the transformation of capitalism itself. Else all is lost.

Is it hopeless? Perhaps not. Perhaps all that is required is patience, As Richard Wolff has said, "As has happened often in human history, what provokes change is less any clear vision of where we go next and more the intolerability of where we are. Capitalism is no longer "delivering the goods" for most people. The circle of its beneficiaries grows smaller and richer and more out of touch with the mass of people than ever."

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Inform your "fiscally conservative" friends please of this astounding failure

#neoliberalism Under Flaherty the #cdnecon since 2006 has been a debt-fuelled financialized one only with little real production, productivity, or significantly increased employment to drive demand. Credit card debt has gone from $35.6 billion in February 2006 to $77.4 in February 2012, a staggering 117% increase.  

Mortgage debt has gone from $672.5 billion to $1111.8 billion in February 2012, an eye-popping 65.3%. And these figures do not account for the past 12 month period, in which we already know personal debt has substantially increased even more.  The personal debt to income ratio is 165% - which ought to be an embarrassment to all Canadians not just the so-called Finance Minister.

 Why has Flaherty remained credible to the mainstream media? Because he's enabling them to make record profits, we know why he has to the financial community, especially since all his private sector economic consultants are from the banking sector. And of course it is these same consultants to whom the press turns for its stories. They're both inside the neoliberal bubble.

Yes, I'm repeating myself. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

To begin the process of democratizing the economy step 1 is to restore the banks to their status as public utilities

More at The Real News

This is Part 2 of a three part discussion with James K. Galbraith and Leo Panitch on whether any sort of New Deal is now possible in America. This segment crystallizes for me the difference between Keynesian reformers like Galbraith and Krugman, say, and revolutionaries like Panitch. Galbraith  continues to have faith in regulation and the government institutions that are capable of controlling economic and financial policies, claiming in effect it’s just a question of reform, of having the right personnel in those institutions and a reasonable government in power. Panitch recognizes that the problem isn’t a mere issue of personnel or government.  It’s a structural problem because these institutions are embedded in Wall Street, maintaining the financialization of the economy and undermining thereby a real industrial economy based on supply and demand. These institutions in fact serve Wall Street. 
What we need, Panitch argues - and I  could’t agree more - is to begin the process of aggressively democratizing the economy. The first step would be to restore banks to their status as public utilities, for it is the oligarchical control of banking corporations with their destructive neoliberal policies that is the root cause of all our social and economic malaise. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A 516.7 billion increase in personal debt and 140 billion in federal debt since Flaherty took over

Whatever economic movement we've had has been fuelled by essentially personal debt, an astonishing  516.7 billion increase since 2006, at a staggering 165% debt to disposable income ratio. Only #banksters and the investor class benefit from such a financialization of the economy. And we’re 140 billion deeper in federal financial debt since Flaherty took over with a net debt balance of 650 billion and a stagnating global economy - the effects of which will be hard to escape since, lacking a diversified domestic economy,  all our economic growth eggs are in export markets and in particular commodities - namely oil and mining. The classic neoliberal agenda has failed miserably. Time for Drummond, Hyder, O’Leary and Co. to wake up from the dream.


Saturday, March 9, 2013

Economic Forecast: Canada To See Years Of Stagnation, BMO Report Predicts

Deeply, dangerously indebted “consumers” (aka Canadian citizens) at a 156% debt to income ratio aggressively imposed upon us by banksters motivated by bottom line greed, an overpriced (by at least 10%) declining housing market with a potential bubble waiting to burst, the waning of a diversified export market and eroding commodity (read oil and minerals) prices, the absence of business (corporate or otherwise) investment plans, failing austerity and deficit reduction programs at all levels of government, an impoverishment of economic government policy and meaningful stimulus programs, stagnating wages necessitating the recessing of “consumer” spending* and the effect of that on demand, deepening income disparity and anti-union sentiment, the gradual disappearance of the middle class and the evil tenacity of the 1-10% plutocracy in clinging to their destructive neoliberal investor-oriented economic agenda - in short, we have a stagnating economy until at least all the oil runs out in 50 to 90 years and the inevitable forced shift to local economies the absence of that energy infrastructure will bring. Without a real revolution, we must wallow in this slough of despond for at least a generation unless global warming and climate change do us in first - which seems increasingly likely.
*“Canadian consumers were the linchpin of the economic recovery, contributing more than half of total GDP growth in 2010 and 2011,” the report says. “Unfortunately, a good chunk of that consumption was fuelled by debt, making it unsustainable.”
Note: Much of what I enumerate here applies to the U.S.. of course and other western capitalist countries.
 P.S. I sometimes like to think that moment of revolution is soon upon us with both the Canadian and global economies now settling into permanently stagnant conditions. An economic-social crisis would seem imminent. The complete and utter vacuousness of the neoliberal monster and all its evil tentacles will emerge of necessity from the dark pool of greed and avarice to be seen as the destructive horror it really is. And so every contribution to public discourse about this source of our all woe, this powerful engine of all our misery, helps - and that despite the embarrassing inadequacy of our Canadian media to deal with the matter in any meaningful way. How can they when they’re inscribed in the neoliberal myth as much as any true believer like the banksters, Flaherty, Harper, et al, though it's difficult not to wonder whether these last really know it’s fundamentally a  Ponzi scheme and always has been since at least 1970.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Economic Reality

#nogrowth #cdnecon - let me reiterate - for the foreseeable future with no more than a relative 2% forever

Even if one were a true believer worshipping daily at the altar of neoliberalism and its side altars the Dow and TSX, how can a mere 0.7%  growth of the Canadian economy in the last half of 2012 be remotely considered acceptable?  Isn't such a distressing figure an index of failing economic policy - of a failure to encourage and develop a diversified domestic economy  instead of  the weighted “natural resources”  (read oil and mining) export economy we have?  One can only take blaming appalling global economic conditions so far since it is the same neoliberal agenda responsible for those dire conditions. The global neoliberal agenda with its “market-based solutions” is slowly but surely imploding - which, with peak oil,  may lead to a forced but desirable shift to local economies.

"Sustainable Economy" an Oxymoron

All this talk of a “sustainable economy” swirling around the tar sands and the Keystone XL pipeline lately should remind us of just how oxymoronic such a concept is in the context of a non-renewable ”natural resources” based Canadian economy. For such a deep exploitative capitalist agenda is destructive at its core and even its perpetrators know this is so. With the exception of the wilfully ignorant, the world knows that the damage done to the land, to nature, to the environment  and the social and political radiating effects of that evil can never be repaired. And for what is this destruction wrought? To feed the bottom line of corporations, the 1%, the investor class, the plutocracy and those who gleefully serve it such as the Obama administration and the Harper Regime. Time perhaps for something beyond petitions, rallies, marches, and social media.