Category: Economy
Synopsis of ‘Central Bankers at the End of Their Rope’ Book
| August 15, 2017 | 8:06 pm | Analysis, Economy, Jack Rasmus | No comments

Synopsis of ‘Central Bankers at the End of Their Rope’ Book

Synopsis of ‘Central Bankers at the End of Their Rope’ Book

Now publicly available for order from the publisher, Claritypress/RasmusIII.html, from public bookstores, and from this blog, the following is the synopsis of the book, ‘Central Bankers at the End of Their Rope?: Monetary Policy and the Coming Depression’.

BOOK SYNOPSIS

“Central banks of the advanced economies—despite having been
designated by their respective economic and political elites as
their states’ primary economic policy institution—have failed
since 2008 to permanently stabilize the world’s banking systems or
restore pre-2008 economic growth.

Rather, central bank liquidity injections since the 1970s not only
produced the 2008-09 crisis, but they then became the central
banks’ solution to that crisis; and now promise to cause of the
next one, as a further tens of trillions of dollars of liquidity-
enabled debt has since 2008 been piled on the original trillions
before 2008.

Fed policy since 2010 has represented an historically
unprecedented subsidization of the financial system by the State,
implemented via the institutional vehicle of the central bank.
Central banks’ function of lender of last resort, originally
designed to provide excess liquidity in instances of banking
crises, has been transformed into the subsidization of the private
banking system, which today is addicted to, and increasingly
dependent upon, significant continuing infusions of liquidity by
central banks.

Taking away this central bank artificial subsidization of the private
sector, especially the financial side of the private sector, would
almost certainly lead to a financial and real collapse of the global
economy. It is thus highly unlikely that the Fed, Bank of England,
Bank of Japan or European Central Bank will be able any time
soon to retreat much from their massive liquidity injections that
have been the hallmark of central bank policy since 2008. Nor will
they find it possible to raise their interest rates much beyond
brief token adjustments. Nor exit easily from their bloated
balance sheets and extraordinary historic policies of liquidity
provisioning. That liquidity not only bailed out the banks and
financial system in 2007-09, but has been subsidizing the system
ever since in order to prevent a re-collapse.

Truly, as this book addresses in painstaking detail, central
bankers are at the end of their rope. Wrought by various growing
contradictions, central banks, as currently structured, have failed
to keep pace with the more rapid restructuring and change in the
private capitalist banking system. As a result, they have been
failing to perform effectively even their most basic functions, or
to achieve their own declared targets of price stability and
employment.

Official excuses for that failure are critiqued and rejected.
Alternative reasons are offered, including:
• the declining effects of interest rates on investment,
• the relative shift to financial asset investing at the expense
of real investment,
• failure of central banks to intervene and prevent financial
asset bubbles,
• the purposeful fragmentation of bank supervision across
regulatory institutions,
• mismanagement of the traditional money supply,
• rapid technological changes transforming the very nature of
money, credit and financial institutions and markets worldwide,
• monetary tools ineffectiveness and incorrect targets, and
• central bankers’ continuing adherence to ideological
notions of the mid-20th century that no longer hold true in the
21st—like the Taylor Rule, Phillips curves, and, in the case of ZIRP(zero interest rates) and NIRP (negative interest rates), the idea that the cost of borrowing is what first and foremost determines real investment.

Central banks must undergo fundamental restructuring and
change. That restructuring must include the democratization of
decision making and a redirecting of central banks toward a
greater direct service in the public interest. A Constitutional
Amendment is therefore proposed, along with 20 articles of
enabling legislation, addressing what reforms and restructuring
of central banks’ decision making processes, tools, targets,
functions, as well as their very mission and objectives, are
necessary if central banks are to become useful institutions for
society in general. The proposed amendment and legislation
defines a new mission and general goals for the Fed—as well as
new targets, tools and new functions—to create a new kind of
public interest Federal Reserve for the 21st century.

How Capitalist Central Banks Are Creating the Next Crisis–print
| August 13, 2017 | 8:56 pm | Analysis, Economy, Jack Rasmus | No comments

 

How Capitalist Central Banks Are Creating the Next Crisis–print

The following article appeared August 10 on Global Research, Canada, and other major blogs. The analysis is based on content from the just published book, ‘Central Bankers at the End of Their Rope?: Monetary Policy and the Coming Depression’, by Dr. Jack Rasmus, Clarity Press, July 2017

“As central bankers, finance ministers, and government policy makers head off to their annual gathering at Jackson Hole, Wyoming, this August, 24-26, 2017, the key topic is whether the leading central banks in North America and Europe will continue to raise interest rates this year; another topic high on the agenda is when the three major central banks – the Federal Reserve, European Central Bank and Bank of England – might begin to sell off their combined $9.8 trillion dollar balance sheets that they accumulated since the 2008-09 banking crisis.

But the more fundamental question – little discussed by central bankers and academics alike – is what are the likely effects of further immediate rate hikes and/or commencement of central banks’ balance sheet reductions? The assumption is further rate hikes and sell-offs will have little negative impact on the real economy or financial markets. But will they? The effects of hikes and sell off will prove the opposite of what they predict.

Central banks in the US and Europe were grossly in error predicting in 2008 that massive liquidity injections and zero interest rates would re-stimulate their economies and return them to pre-crisis real GDP growth rates. They are now about to repeat a similar error, as they presume that raising those rates, and retracting excess liquidity by selling off balance sheets, will not have a significant negative impact on the real economy or financial markets.

Central banks’ balance sheets have been growing for almost nine years, driven by programs of zero-bound (ZIRP) interest rates and the introduction of firehose liquidity injections enabled by quantitative easing, QE, bond and other securities purchases.

After eight years, the official consensus among central bankers and government policy makers is that the 2008 shift to unlimited central bank liquidity and zero (or below) interest rates is now over. The front page business press and media lead story is that central banks are now about to embark collectively in a new direction – raising their benchmark rates and selling off their massive, bloated balance sheets. But don’t bet on it. They may find sooner, rather than later, that rates cannot be raised much higher and that balance sheets—now totaling $9.8 trillion for the US, UK and Europe alone—may not be reduced much, if at all, without provoking a further slowdown of their still chronically weak real economic recoveries, or without precipitating a serious contraction in equity, bond and other financial asset markets.
Image result

Globally, balance sheet totals are actually far greater than the $9.8 trillion accumulated to date by the big 3 central banks—the Fed, Bank of England, and European Central Bank. When other major central banks, like Switzerland’s, Sweden’s, Canada’s and others are added, it’s well more than $10 trillion. And then there’s the nearly $5 trillion balance sheet of the Bank of Japan and the more than $5 trillion of the People’s Bank of China. Worldwide, central banks’ balance sheets therefore exceed well over $20 trillion…with the total still growing.

It’s equally important to understand that the $20 trillion in central bank balance sheet debt essentially represents bad debt from banks, corporations, and private investors that was in effect transferred from their private balance sheets to the balance sheets of the central banks as a result of nine years of bailout via QE (quantitative easing), zero interest rate free money, and other policies of the central banks. The central banks bailed out the capitalist system in 2008-09 by shifting the bad debts to themselves. In the course of the last 9 years, the private system loaded itself up on still more debt than it had in 2007. Can the central banks, already bloated with $20 trillion bail out bankers and friends once again? That’s the question. Attempting to unload the $20 trillion to make room for the next bailout—as the central banks now propose to do—may result, however, in precipitating the next crisis. That’s the contradiction.

Attempting to sell off such massive balance sheet holdings will prove far more daunting than those central banks now anticipate. And their coordinated raising of interest rates risks precipitating another recession – given their fundamentally weak economies with chronic low bank lending, slowing investment, stagnating productivity, contracting public investment, and lack of real wage income gains. For the global economy has undergone a major structural change in recent decades that has been rendering central bank interest rate policies increasingly ineffective with regard to stimulating real investment and growth, while simultaneously contributing to further financial fragility as well.1

The US Economy is Fragile and Weakening—Not Robust and Stable

All eyes are on the US central bank, the Fed, and what signals it gives at the Jackson Hole August 24-26 gathering, and the Fed’s subsequent policy committee in September. Will it continue to raise rates? Will it announce formally a schedule for balance sheet reduction in September? If the latter, will the announcement of sell-off be so minimal and token that it will generate a mere 0.25% hike in rates by year end 2018, as some pundits predict? Or will the psychological effects on investors – who have enjoyed eight years of record equity, bond, property, and derivatives asset price and thus extraordinary capital gains – consider the announcement as the signal to “cash in” and take their money and run, given the bubble levels already attained in equities, some bond markets, and real estate? And should the Fed continue to raise interest rates at a pace of 3 to 4 a year, what will be the impact on the US real economy?

Economic potholes are beginning to appear in a number of places. Bank lending to US business has declined sharply, now growing at only 2%; consumer loans for auto, mortgages and credit cards have halved over the past year; real investment and productivity have nearly collapsed; the so-called “Trump Bump” has dissipated; government investment has contracted below 2007 levels and infrastructure spending is still but a discussion envisioned for 2019 at the earliest, if at all; and job growth has been consistently low quality, resulting in wage stagnation or worse for the vast majority of the labor force.

In this unstable environment the Fed has nonetheless has announced plans to continue to raise interest rates and to begin selling off its balance sheet. The question is just how much and when? Consensus thinking at the Fed is that rates can continue rising 3 to 4 times a year at .25 basis points a crack through 2019 without serious negative effects. And that the Fed’s balance sheet can start selling off immediately in 2017, initially at a modest rate of $10 billion a month, accelerating further at a later date.

But these were the same central bankers who believed their QE and zero bound rate programs would return the US real economy to robust growth by 2010 but didn’t; who maintained the Fed’s massive liquidity injections would attain a 2% goods and services inflation rate, which it still hasn’t; who argued that once unemployment fell to 4.5% (in the US), wage growth and consumption would return to past trends and stimulate the economy, which has yet to occur; and who argued in 2008, also incorrectly, that Fed QE programs providing bankers virtually free money would stimulate bank lending and in turn real investment and growth. The Fed’s latest predictions could prove no more correct about the consequences of further rate hikes and balance sheet reductions than they were about QE, ZIRP, and all the rest for the past eight years.

It’s Not Your Grandpa’s Global Economy

To assume that selling off that magnitude of securities – even if slowly and over extended time – will not have an appreciable impact on nominal interest rates is the kind of assumption that resulted in previous predictive errors circa 2008 since the possible effects on investors’ psychological expectations of more rate hikes and balance sheet selling are completely unknown.
Image result

After eight years of treating symptoms and not the disease, the global financial system has become addicted to super-low rates and to continued central bank excess liquidity provisioning. What started in 2008 as a massive, somewhat coordinated central bank lender of last resort experiment – i.e. global bank bailout – has over the past eight years evolved into a more or less permanent subsidisation of the private banking and financial systems by central banks. The system has become addicted to free money. And like all addictions, the habit won’t be broken easily. That means central bankers’ plans to raise interest rates in the immediate months ahead will likely “hit a wall” well before the announced rate levels they are projecting. Plans to sell off balance sheets will almost certainly be limited to the US Fed for some time. The ECB and BOE – as well as Bank of Japan and others – will wait and see what the Fed does. The Fed will proceed at a snails pace that will represent little more than mere tokenism, and in the event of further slowing of real GDP growth, or US financial markets correcting in a major way, it will halt selling altogether. In short, there will be little Fed balance sheet reduction before the next recession, and a continued escalation of balance sheets by central banks globally. Central banks will enter the next recession with further bloated balance sheets.

After eight years of treating symptoms and not the disease, the global financial system has become addicted to super-low rates and to continued central bank excess liquidity provisioning.

The Fed is thus on the verge of another major disastrous monetary policy shift and experiment. It will be unable to raise interest rates as it has announced, by 3 to 4 times a year for the next two years. Nor will it be able to sell off much of its current balance sheet, since anything but token adjustments will accelerate rates even higher. In this writer’s opinion, the federal funds rate cannot be raised above 2%, or the 10 year Treasury yield much above 3%, without precipitating either a serious financial market correction or an abrupt slowing of real economic growth, or both.

What the eight years since the 2008-09 financial crash and great recession reveals is that the major central banks, led by the Fed, have painted themselves in a corner. The massive liquidity provided to their banking systems – engineered by zero rates and QEs – failed even to adequately bail out their banks. Today more than $10 trillion in non-performing bank loans still overhang the major economies, despite the more than $20 trillion added to their central bank balance sheets in just the past eight years.

The fundamental changes in the global economy and radical restructuring of financial, capital and labor markets have severely blunted central banks’ main monetary tool of interest rate management. Just as reduction of rates have little positive effect on stimulating real investment and economic growth, rising rates will have a greater negative impact than anticipated on investment and growth. The Fed and other central banks may soon discover this should they raise rates much faster and further or engage in more than token balance sheet reduction.
Central bankers at the Fed, the BOE and ECB will of course argue the contrary.

They will promise the economy can sustain further significant rate hikes and can commence selling its balance sheet without severe negative consequences. But these are the same people who in 2008 promised rapid and robust recovery from QE and ZIRP programs that didn’t happen. What happened was an unprecedented acceleration in financial asset markets as equity and bond prices surged for eight years, high end real estate prices rose to prior levels, derivatives boomed, gold and crypto-currencies escalated in value, and income inequality soared to record levels – all fueled by the massive $10 trillion central bank liquidity injections that drove interest rates to zero or below. And now they tell us they plan to raise those rates without serious negative effects. Anyone want to buy the Brooklyn bridge? I think they’re also trying to sell that as well.

Dr. Jack Rasmus is author of the just published book, “Central Bankers at the End of Their Ropes? Monetary Policy and the Next Depression”, Clarity Press, July 2017, and the previously published “Systemic Fragility in the Global Economy”, also by Clarity Press, January 2016. For more information: http://ClarityPress.com/RasmusIII.html.

He hosts the radio show, Alternative Visions, on the Progressive Radio Network. He blogs at jackrasmus.com.

Source

1. For the author’s 2016 analysis of global financial restructuring, Systemic Fragility in the Global Economy, Clarity Press, January 2016. How central banks’ policies are failing is addressed in more detail in the just published book, Central Bankers at the End of Their Ropes: Monetary Policy and the Next Depression, by Jack Rasmus, Clarity Press, July 2017.

The Limits of Central Banks’ Emerging Policy Shift
| August 2, 2017 | 6:50 pm | Analysis, Economy | No comments

 

The Limits of Central Banks’ Emerging Policy Shift–print

The following article was published in the European Financial Review, July 20, 2017, summarizing and presenting major themes from my just published, latest book, ‘Central Bankers at the End of Their Ropes’, Clarity Press, July 2017. (The book may be ordered from this blog or my website at discount. See the book icon. Or from the publisher, Clarity press at http://www.claritypress.com/RasmusIII.html. )

THE LIMITS OF CENTRAL BANKS’ EMERGING POLICY SHIFT’, by Dr. Jack Rasmus, European Financial Review, July 20, 2017.

“The major central banks have a plan, but its consequences are questionable. In this article, Dr. Jack Rasmus analyses past and present factors of the global economy, from balance sheets to policy shifts, which have significant influence on the possible future of the financial industry and the global society as a whole.
As central bankers, finance ministers, and government policy makers head off to their annual gathering at Jackson Hole, Wyoming, this August, 24-26, 2017, the key topic is whether the leading central banks in North America and Europe will continue to raise interest rates this year; another topic high on the agenda is when the three major central banks – the Federal Reserve, European Central Bank and Bank of England – might begin to sell off their combined $9.8 trillion dollar balance sheets that they accumulated since the 2008-09 banking crisis.
But the more fundamental question – little discussed by central bankers and academics alike – is what are the likely effects of further immediate rate hikes and/or commencement of central banks’ balance sheet reductions? The assumption is further rate hikes and sell-offs will have little negative impact on the real economy or financial markets. But will they?

Central banks in the US and Europe were grossly in error predicting in 2008 that massive liquidity injections and zero interest rates would re-stimulate their economies and return them to pre-crisis real GDP growth rates. They are now about to repeat a similar error, as they presume that raising those rates, and retracting excess liquidity by selling off balance sheets, will not have a significant negative impact on the real economy or financial markets.

The Central Banks Monetary Policy Shift

Central banks’ balance sheets have been growing for almost nine years, driven by programmes of zero-bound (ZIRP) interest rates and the introduction of firehose liquidity injections enabled by quantitative easing, QE, bond and other securities purchases.

After eight years, the official consensus among central bankers and government policy makers is that the 2008 shift to unlimited central bank liquidity and zero (or below) interest rates is now over. The front page business press and media lead story is that central banks are now about to embark collectively in a new direction – raising their benchmark rates and selling off their massive, bloated balance sheets. But don’t bet on it. They may find sooner, rather than later, that rates cannot be raised much higher and that balance sheets may not be reduced much, if at all, without provoking a further slowdown of their still chronically weak real economic recoveries, or without precipitating a serious contraction in equity, bond and other financial asset markets.

In 2008-09 the Federal Reserve quickly dropped its benchmark federal funds rate from 5.25% to a mere 0.15% by January 2009. It followed with its initial bond buying QE1 programme in early 2009. By 2013 the Fed’s net balance sheet rose to $4.5 trillion.

The front page business press and media lead story is that central banks are now about to embark collectively in a new direction – raising their benchmark rates and selling off their massive, bloated balance sheets. But don’t bet on it.
The Bank of England promptly followed the Fed. It reduced its rates from 5% in September 2008 to 0.5% by early 2009, followed by a launch of several QE-like bond and equity buying programmes and then its formal QE “Asset Purchase Plan” in early 2009. Its net balance sheet level rose to approximately $600 billion.

Lacking full central bank authority at the time of the 2008 crash, the European Central Bank lowered rates initially more slowly while injecting more than $2 trillion in liquidity by various pre-QE programmes from 2010 to 2014, eventually introducing its highly aggressive QE programme beginning early 2015. Its rate and liquidity programmes drove Eurozone sovereign nominal bond rates to negative levels, as its aggressive $2.5 trillion QE programme raised its balance sheet to more than $4.7 trillion.

That’s a combined balance sheet total of roughly $9.8 trillion as of mid-2017 for the three major central banks alone.

Globally, however, balance sheet totals are actually far greater than the $9.8 trillion. When other major central banks, like Switzerland’s, Sweden’s, Canada’s and others are added, it’s well more than $10 trillion. And then there’s the nearly $5 trillion balance sheet of the Bank of Japan and the more than $5 trillion of the People’s Bank of China. Worldwide, central banks’ balance sheets therefore exceed well over $20 trillion…with the total still growing.

Attempting to sell off such massive balance sheet holdings – even the $9.8 trillion of the three central banks in Europe and America – may prove far more daunting than those central banks now anticipate. And their coordinated raising of interest rates risks precipitating another recession – given their fundamentally weak economies with chronic low bank lending, slowing investment, stagnating productivity, contracting public investment, and lack of real wage income gains. For the global economy has undergone a major structural change in recent decades that has been rendering central bank interest rate policies increasingly ineffective with regard to stimulating real investment and growth, while simultaneously contributing to further financial fragility as well.1

The New Normal: Unstable Interest Rate Elasticity Effects

In 2008-09 all three central banks quickly reduced their benchmark rates and began to add trillions of dollars, pounds and euros to their balance sheets. But real investment and GDP growth lagged, and periodically stagnated in the US and UK, and even contracted again in the Eurozone. In economists’ jargon, the elasticity of real investment to interest rate cuts was highly “inelastic” – i.e. the collapse of rates and accelerated central bank liquidity produced insufficient real investment, employment, and wage incomes necessary to restore pre-crisis GDP growth.

Now that central banks are reversing those policies – with the Fed in the lead and the BOE and ECB expected to follow – a “mirror image” of the error of the past eight years may emerge: it will take very little in terms of rate hikes or balance sheet reductions (which will also raise rates) to generate a further contraction in real investment and growth, and may even precipitate a major correction in financial market prices.

In other words, the negative impact of pending rate hikes on investment may prove highly elastic, just as it proved in the past that rate cuts’ positive effects on real investment were highly inelastic.

This may seem anomalous – i.e. rate reductions post-2008 had little positive effect on real investment and growth, but rate hikes now will have a quick and major negative impact on investment and growth. But it is not. The same global forces and restructuring in financial, capital, and labour markets that have taken place in recent decades causally underlie both effects. The global economy crossed a threshold in 2008-09 that is still not very well understood by central bankers and economists alike. The anomaly is only apparent.2 The causes are the same.

What then are the likely scenarios with regard to the three central banks – Fed, ECB and BOE – in the next six to twelve months as they attempt to shift their policies of the preceding eight years by raising rates and selling off balance sheets?

Three Scenarios: BOE, ECB & the Fed

The Bank of England’s (BOE) initial QE experiment was temporarily halted when the Fed suspended expanding its QE programmes in 2013, but QE was re-introduced in 2016 in the wake of Brexit. As of mid-2017, moreover, the BOE shows no indication that it will not continue its QE programme and thereby expand its balance sheet. Embroiled an in increasing difficult implementation of Brexit, and what appears to be several more years of growing economic uncertainty, the UK economy has begun to show signs of weakening in recent months. The BOE will therefore continue to add liquidity, both by QE and traditional means, in order to prop up UK financial markets in the interim. Balance sheet sell off is thus not imminent anytime soon.

On the other hand, more likely is the BOE will follow the Fed should the latter continue to raise rates, raising its benchmark marginal lending or discount rate to prevent a further decline of the UK currency to ensure much needed money capital inflows and to slow rising import inflation that comes with currency decline. So expect more rate hikes from the BOE, as well as more balance sheet accumulation.

Nor will the ECB’s balance sheet be appreciably reduced any time soon. European Central Bank chair, Mario Draghi, plans to attend the Jackson Hole gathering of central bankers and friends. It will be his first appearance since three years ago, where in 2014 he signalled the ECB was planning to introduce its version of quantitative easing, QE, which it did in early 2015. But this time it is highly unlikely Draghi will signal the ECB to follow the Fed in any reduction of its own $4.7 trillion balance sheet. More likely is some ECB intent to slow its QE bond accumulation programme in 2018 – i.e. after it sees what the US Fed will do in what remains in 2017 and after it replaces current chair, Janet Yellen, with former Goldman Sachs banker, Gary Cohn, next February 2018. Meanwhile, the ECB will allow rates to drift upward from their former negative and zero levels. Like the BOE’s, the ECB’s balance sheet will therefore continue to grow, as rates are allowed to rise in coordination with the Fed.

All eyes are therefore on the US central bank, the Fed, and what signals it gives, and its follow up, to the Jackson Hole August gathering, and the Fed’s policy committee in September. Will it continue to raise rates? Will it announce formally a schedule for balance sheet reduction in September? If the latter, will the announcement of sell-off be so minimal and token that it will generate a mere 0.25% hike in rates by year end 2018, as some pundits predict? Or will the psychological effects on investors – who have enjoyed eight years of record equity, bond, property, and derivatives asset price and thus extraordinary capital gains – consider the announcement as the signal to “cash in” and take their money and run, given the bubble levels already attained in equities, some bond markets, and real estate? And should the Fed continue to raise interest rates at a pace of 3 to 4 a year, what will be the impact on the US real economy?

Economic potholes are beginning to appear in a number of places. Bank lending to US business has declined sharply, now growing at only 2%; consumer loans for auto, mortgages and credit cards have halved over the past year; real investment and productivity have nearly collapsed; the so-called “Trump Bump” has dissipated; government investment has contracted below 2007 levels and infrastructure spending is still but a discussion envisioned for 2019 at the earliest, if at all; and job growth has been consistently low quality, resulting in wage stagnation or worse for the vast majority of the labour force.

In this unstable environment the Fed has nonetheless has announced plans to continue to raise interest rates and to begin selling off its balance sheet. The question is just how much and when? Consensus thinking at the Fed is that rates can continue rising 3 to 4 times a year at .25 basis points a crack through 2019 without serious negative effects. And that the Fed’s balance sheet can start selling off immediately in 2017, initially at a modest rate of $10 billion a month, accelerating further at a later date.

But these were the same central bankers who believed their QE and zero bound rate programmes would return the US real economy to robust growth by 2010 but didn’t; who maintained the Fed’s massive liquidity injections would attain a 2% goods and services inflation rate, which it still hasn’t; who argued that once unemployment fell to 4.5% (in the US), wage growth and consumption would return to past trends and stimulate the economy, which has yet to occur; and who argued in 2008, also incorrectly, that Fed QE programmes providing bankers virtually free money would stimulate bank lending and in turn real investment and growth. The Fed’s latest predictions could prove no more correct about the consequences of further rate hikes and balance sheet reductions than they were about QE, ZIRP, and all the rest for the past eight years.

It’s Not Your Grandpa’s Global Economy

To assume that selling off that magnitude of securities – even if slowly and over extended time – will not have an appreciable impact on nominal interest rates is the kind of assumption that resulted in previous predictive errors circa 2008 since the possible effects on investors’ psychological expectations of more rate hikes and balance sheet selling are completely unknown.

After eight years of treating symptoms and not the disease, the global financial system has become addicted to super-low rates and to continued central bank excess liquidity provisioning. What started in 2008 as a massive, somewhat coordinated central bank lender of last resort experiment – i.e. global bank bailout – has over the past eight years evolved into a more or less permanent subsidisation of the private banking and financial systems by central banks. The system has become addicted to free money. And like all addictions, the habit won’t be broken easily. That means central bankers’ plans to raise interest rates in the immediate months ahead will likely “hit a wall” well before the announced rate levels they are projecting. Plans to sell off balance sheets will almost certainly be limited to the US Fed for some time. The ECB and BOE – as well as Bank of Japan and others – will wait and see what the Fed does. The Fed will proceed at a snails pace that will represent little more than mere tokenism, and in the event of further slowing of real GDP growth, or US financial markets correcting in a major way, it will halt selling altogether. In short, there will be little Fed balance sheet reduction before the next recession, and a continued escalation of balance sheets by central banks globally. Central banks will enter the next recession with further bloated balance sheets.

After eight years of treating symptoms and not the disease, the global financial system has become addicted to super-low rates and to continued central bank excess liquidity provisioning.

The Fed is thus on the verge of another major disastrous monetary policy shift and experiment. It will be unable to raise interest rates as it has announced, by 3 to 4 times a year for the next two years. Nor will it be able to sell off much of its current balance sheet, since anything but token adjustments will accelerate rates even higher. In this writer’s opinion, the federal funds rate cannot be raised above 2%, or the 10 year Treasury yield much above 3%, without precipitating either a serious financial market correction or an abrupt slowing of real economic growth, or both.

What the eight years since the 2008-09 financial crash and great recession reveals is that the major central banks, led by the Fed, have painted themselves in a corner. The massive liquidity provided to their banking systems – engineered by zero rates and QEs – failed even to adequately bail out their banks. Today more than $10 trillion in non-performing bank loans still overhang the major economies, despite the more than $20 trillion added to their central bank balance sheets in just the past eight years.

The fundamental changes in the global economy and radical restructuring of financial, capital and labour markets have severely blunted central banks’ main monetary tool of interest rate management.

The fundamental changes in the global economy and radical restructuring of financial, capital and labour markets have severely blunted central banks’ main monetary tool of interest rate management. Just as reduction of rates have little positive effect on stimulating real investment and economic growth, rising rates will have a greater negative impact than anticipated on investment and growth. The Fed and other central banks may soon discover this should they raise rates much faster and further or engage in more than token balance sheet reduction.
Central bankers at the Fed, the BOE and ECB will of course argue the contrary.

They will promise the economy can sustain further significant rate hikes and can commence selling its balance sheet without severe negative consequences. But these are the same people who in 2008 promised rapid and robust recovery from QE and ZIRP programmes that didn’t happen. What happened was an unprecedented acceleration in financial asset markets as equity and bond prices surged for eight years, high end real estate prices rose to prior levels, derivatives boomed, gold and crypto-currencies escalated in value, and income inequality soared to record levels – all fueled by the massive $10 trillion central bank liquidity injections that drove interest rates to zero or below. And now they tell us they plan to raise those rates without serious negative effects. Anyone want to buy the Brooklyn bridge? I think they’re also trying to sell that as well.

About the Author

Dr. Jack Rasmus is author of the just published book, “Central Bankers at the End of Their Ropes? Monetary Policy and the Next Depression”, Clarity Press, July 2017, and the previously published “Systemic Fragility in the Global Economy”, also by Clarity Press, January 2016. For more information: http://ClarityPress.com/RasmusIII.html. He teaches economics at St. Marys College in Moraga, California, and hosts the radio show, Alternative Visions, on the Progressive Radio Network. He blogs at jackrasmus.com and his twitter handle is @drjackrasmus.

References
1. For the author’s 2016 analysis of global financial restructuring, Systemic Fragility in the Global Economy, Clarity Press, January 2016.
2. The theme of how central banks’ interest rate policies are failing is addressed in more detail in the just published book, Central Bankers at the End of Their Ropes: Monetary Policy and the Next Depression, by Jack Rasmus, Clarity Press, July 2017.

More on Energy Imperialism
| July 26, 2017 | 7:32 pm | Analysis, Economy, Russia | No comments

https://zzs-blg.blogspot.com/2017/07/more-on-energy-imperialism.html

More on Energy Imperialism

– from Zoltan Zigedy is available at:
http://zzs-blg.blogspot.com/

Literally days after my last post on the changes in US energy policy and its influence on the trajectory of US imperialism, President Donald Trump and his energy secretary proclaimed those changes in their customary blunt and bombastic way. On June 29, Trump declared a US policy of “energy dominance” at a meeting at the Department of Energy. Reuters‘s headline on their coverage perfectly captured the meaning of this policy: “Trump Seeks to Project Global Power through Energy Exports.Bloomberg News’s Gennifer Dlouhy quotes Trump: “We are a top producer of petroleum and the No. 1 producer of natural gas. We have so much more than we ever thought possible. We are really in the driver’s seat.”

Clearly, Russia is a target of the emerging policy. The Administration’s Secretary of Energy, Rick Perry said that “… the entirety of the EU totally get it that if we can lay in American LNG [liquefied natural gas] … we can be able to have an alternative to Russia…” “The US will be able to clearly create a hell of a lot more friends by being able to deliver them energy and not being held hostage by some countries, Russia in particular.” (Reuters)
Lest anyone fail to get the message, Trump told cheering Polish people in Warsaw on July 6: “We are committed to securing your access to alternate sources of energy, so Poland and its neighbors are never again held hostage to a single supplier of energy.” (CNBC) Instead, they will be held hostage to the US.
Bloomberg’s Dlouhy notes that negotiations have begun to sell more LNG to the Republic of Korea. And Reuters’s Timothy Gardner comments that the US exports more petroleum products to Mexico than does any other country. In fact, according to Gardner, the US is already the world’s largest exporter of refined petroleum products.
Despite the near total neglect of the foreign policy implications of this emerging policy by US commentators and, especially, the left, they have not gone unnoticed in important circles internationally. Writing in the largest circulation UK paper, The Sunday Times, Irwin Stelzer stated on July 2: “LNG has created a new Great Game, with America’s ‘yuge’ reserves of natural gas giving Trump a weapon with which to offset Russia’s early lead.” Talk of “Great Games,” of course, invokes memories of the imperialist rivalries and clashes of the late 19th and early 20th century. While the “Russia-gate” controversies uncritically consume many US observers, even conservative Europeans are identifying the material interests, the imperialist interests standing behind the hysterical anti-Russia campaign.
Further, Stelzer sees the recent Gulf States’ aggression against Qatar for what it is: “… the Saudi royal family believe now is the time to wring a total surrender from Qatar… The implication for the global LNG market of a potential isolation of Qatar [the world’s largest exporter] could not be more consequential.” And it could not be more beneficial to the emerging US LNG shippers.
The recent Trump European trip was a sales trip for US LNG as much as it was participation in the G20 summit.
OPEC ‘Monopoly’ versus US Hegemony
It appears more and more likely that the era of OPEC dominance of energy markets is dwindling, broken by US energy production. Saudi Arabia attempted to reverse the expansion of US production by over producing and driving the price of oil below a level that would allow US shale producers to be profitable. Consequently, US operators lost $130 billion since 2015. But Wall Street has subsidized the shale industry by ploughing $57 billion back into the industry over the last 18 months, a move that shows both no fear of a price war and a determination to dominate the markets. The Wall Street Journal (7-8-2017) likened the investments to the tech boom of the past.
At the same time, the US is using political sanctions to hinder competitors. The recent Senate vote on Russian sanctions is one obvious example. But Iran is another competitor that the US hopes to discourage. The European sanctions are now lifted, but EXXON MOBIL and CHEVRON, as US companies, are still deterred from investing in Iran because of remaining US sanctions. BP is afraid of those sanctions and only French TOTAL has dared to invest, along with CHINA NPC. Where Iran is seeking $92 billion in energy investments, it has only secured $1 billion.
Worldwide, most energy investments have channeled to US shale oil.
The monopoly price-manipulation model enforced by OPEC discipline is eroding. Since competition is intensifying, pricing has become extremely volatile. With Chinese imports of crude oil up 13% this year, the Saudis have sharply cut the price of super light crude to Asia to garner a greater share of this burgeoning market.
The Future
Of course, it is impossible to spell out all of the foreign policy implications of the new energy imperialism. But it appears certain that the US drive toward energy dominance will reshape US imperialist designs and generate a strong international response.
The House of Representatives companion bill on sanctions passed 419-3, demonstrating again the ruling-class consensus on punishing oil and gas producers– Russia and Iran. The European Union wisely interprets this and its Senate companion as a challenge to existing energy relations. As The New York Times reported (July 25) immediately after the vote: “…the new sanctions have important implications for Europe because they target any company that contributes to the development, maintenance or modernization of Russia’s energy export pipelines.” It notes that: “Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, the bloc’s bureaucratic arm, has called for an urgent review of how the European Union should respond.”
Speaking to the “principles” behind the House bill, Russian “Alexey Pushkov, a legislator and frequent commentator on international relations, wrote on Twitter: ‘The exceptional nation wants to block Russian gas supplies to Europe and to sell expensive shale gas from the U.S. to its European servants. That’s the entire ‘morality’ of Congress,’” as reported by The New York Times (7-25-17)
And the price war between the US and OPEC along with its friends has left OPEC unity in danger and its policies in shambles. At the most recent meeting in St. Petersburg, disputes over production and exports have combined with frustration over the effectiveness of agreements. States are conflicted over protecting prices and earnings or fighting for market share.
Where unbridled competition arises, conflict is soon to follow. With economic interests joining with political maneuvering, as the US-contrived hysteria over Russia and Iran instantiates, the danger of aggression and war grows exponentially.
The new US imperialist “Game” is played to dominate energy markets, an even more perilous project that threatens friend and foe alike.
Zoltan Zigedy
Karl Marx- Wage, Labour and Capital 1847 (Part II)
| July 26, 2017 | 7:09 pm | Analysis, Economy, Karl Marx, Labor | No comments

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Karl Marx- Wage, Labour and Capital 1847 (Part II)

 https://communismgr.blogspot.com/2017/07/karl-marx-wage-labour-and-capital-1847_27.html

Wage, Labour and Capital.

By Karl Marx. 
First Published: April 1849.
Source: From the original 1891 pamphlet via Marxists Internet Archives.
 

(Continue from Part I)

 
PART II.
 
THE NATURE AND GROWTH OF CAPITAL 
Capital consists of raw materials, instruments of labor, and means of subsistence of all kinds, which are employed in producing new raw materials, new instruments, and new means of subsistence. All these components of capital are created by labour, products of labour, accumulated labour. Accumulated labour that serves as a means to new production is capital.
So say the economists. What is a Negro slave? A man of the black race. The one explanation is worthy of the other.
A Negro is a Negro. Only under certain conditions does he become a slave. A cottonspinning machine is a machine for spinning cotton. Only under certain conditions does it become capital. Torn away from these conditions, it is as little capital as gold is itself money, or sugar is the price of sugar.
In the process of production, human beings work not only upon nature, but also upon one another. They produce only by working together in a specified manner and reciprocally exchanging their activities. In order to produce, they enter into definite connections and relations to one another, and only within these social connections and relations does their influence upon nature operate – i.e., does production take place.
These social relations between the producers, and the conditions under which they exchange their activities and share in the total act of production, will naturally vary according to the character of the means of production. With the discover of a new instrument of warfare, the firearm, the whole internal organization of the army was necessarily altered, the relations within which individuals compose an army and can work as an army were transformed, and the relation of different armies to another was likewise changed.
We thus see that the social relations within which individuals produce, the social relations of production, are altered, transformed, with the change and development of the material means of production, of the forces of production. The relations of production in their totality constitute what is called the social relations, society, and, moreover, a society at a definite stage of historical development, a society with peculiar, distinctive characteristics. Ancient society, feudal society, bourgeois (or capitalist) society, are such totalities of relations of production, each of which denotes a particular stage of development in the history of mankind.
Capital also is a social relation of production. It is a bourgeois relation of production, a relation of production of bourgeois society. The means of subsistence, the instruments of labour, the raw materials, of which capital consists – have they not been produced and accumulated under given social conditions, within definite special relations? Are they not employed for new production, under given special conditions, within definite social relations? And does not just the definite social character stamp the products which serve for new production as capital?
Capital consists not only of means of subsistence, instruments of labour, and raw materials, not only as material products; it consists just as much of exchange values. All products of which it consists are commodities. Capital, consequently, is not only a sum of material products, it is a sum of commodities, of exchange values, of social magnitudes. Capital remains the same whether we put cotton in the place of wool, rice in the place of wheat, steamships in the place of railroads, provided only that the cotton, the rice, the steamships – the body of capital – have the same exchange value, the same price, as the wool, the wheat, the railroads, in which it was previously embodied. The bodily form of capital may transform itself continually, while capital does not suffer the least alteration.
But though every capital is a sum of commodities – i.e., of exchange values – it does not follow that every sum of commodities, of exchange values, is capital.
Every sum of exchange values is an exchange value. Each particular exchange value is a sum of exchange values. For example: a house worth 1,000 pounds is an exchange value of 1,000 pounds: a piece of paper worth one penny is a sum of exchange values of 100 1/100ths of a penny. Products which are exchangeable for others are commodities. The definite proportion in which they are exchangeable forms their exchange value, or, expressed in money, their price. The quantity of these products can have no effect on their character as commodities, as representing an exchange value , as having a certain price. Whether a tree be large or small, it remains a tree. Whether we exchange iron in pennyweights or in hundredweights, for other products, does this alter its character: its being a commodity, or exchange value? According to the quantity, it is a commodity of greater or of lesser value, of higher or of lower price.
How then does a sum of commodities, of exchange values, become capital?
Thereby, that as an independent social power – i.e., as the power of a part of society – it preserves itself and multiplies by exchange with direct, living labour-power.
The existence of a class which possesses nothing but the ability to work is a necessary presupposition of capital.
It is only the dominion of past, accumulated, materialized labour over immediate living labour that stamps the accumulated labour with the character of capital.
Capital does not consist in the fact that accumulated labour serves living labour as a means for new production. It consists in the fact that living labour serves accumulated labour as the means of preserving and multiplying its exchange value.
RELATION OF WAGE-LABOUR TO CAPITAL
What is it that takes place in the exchange between the capitalist and the wagelabourer?
The labourer receives means of subsistence in exchange for his labour-power; the capitalist receives, in exchange for his means of subsistence, labour, the productive activity of the labourer, the creative force by which the worker not only replaces what he consumes, but also gives to the accumulated labour a greater value than it previously possessed. The labourer gets from the capitalist a portion of the existing means of subsistence. For what purpose do these means of subsistence serve him? For immediate consumption. But as soon as I consume means of subsistence, they are irrevocably lost to me, unless I employ the time during which these means sustain my life in producing new means of subsistence, in creating by my labour new values in place of the values lost in consumption. But it is just this noble reproductive power that the labourer surrenders to the capitalist in exchange for means of subsistence received. Consequently, he has lost it for himself.
Let us take an example. For one shilling a labourer works all day long in the fields of a farmer, to whom he thus secures a return of two shillings. The farmer not only receives the replaced value which he has given to the day labourer, he has doubled it. Therefore, he has consumed the one shilling that he gave to the day labourer in a fruitful, productive manner. For the one shilling he has bought the labour-power of the day-labourer, which creates products of the soil of twice the value, and out of one shilling makes two. The day-labourer, on the contrary, receives in the place of his productive force, whose results he has just surrendered to the farmer, one shilling, which he exchanges for means of subsistence, which he consumes more or less quickly. The one shilling has therefore been consumed in a double manner – reproductively for the capitalist, for it has been exchanged for labour-power, which brought forth two shillings; unproductively for the worker, for it has been exchanged for means of subsistence which are lost for ever, and whose value he can obtain again only by repeating the same exchange with the farmer. Capital therefore presupposes wage- labour; wage-labour presupposes capital. They condition each other; each brings the other into existence.
Does a worker in a cotton factory produce only cotton? No. He produces capital. He produces values which serve anew to command his work and to create by means of it new values.
Capital can multiply itself only by exchanging itself for labour-power, by calling wage-labour into life. The labour-power of the wage-labourer can exchange itself for capital only by increasing capital, by strengthening that very power whose slave it is. Increase of capital, therefore, is increase of the proletariat, i.e., of the working class.
And so, the bourgeoisie and its economists maintain that the interest of the capitalist and of the labourer is the same. And in fact, so they are! The worker perishes if capital does not keep him busy. Capital perishes if it does not exploit labour-power, which, in order to exploit, it must buy. The more quickly the capital destined for production – the productive capital – increases, the more prosperous industry is, the more the bourgeoisie enriches itself, the better business gets, so many more workers does the capitalist need, so much the dearer does the worker sell himself. The fastest possible growth of productive capital is, therefore, the indispensable condition for a tolerable life to the labourer.
But what is growth of productive capital? Growth of the power of accumulated labour over living labour; growth of the rule of the bourgeoisie over the working class. When wage-labour produces the alien wealth dominating it, the power hostile to it, capital, there flow back to it its means of employment – i.e., its means of subsistence, under the condition that it again become a part of capital, that is become again the lever whereby capital is to be forced into an accelerated expansive movement.
To say that the interests of capital and the interests of the workers are identical, signifies only this: that capital and wage-labour are two sides of one and the same relation. The one conditions the other in the same way that the usurer and the borrower condition each other.
As long as the wage-labourer remains a wage-labourer, his lot is dependent upon capital. That is what the boasted community of interests between worker and capitalists amounts to.
If capital grows, the mass of wage-labour grows, the number of wage-workers increases; in a word, the sway of capital extends over a greater mass of individuals. Let us suppose the most favorable case: if productive capital grows, the demand for labour grows. It therefore increases the price of labour-power, wages.
A house may be large or small; as long as the neighboring houses are likewise small, it satisfies all social requirement for a residence. But let there arise next to the little house a palace, and the little house shrinks to a hut. The little house now makes it clear that its inmate has no social position at all to maintain, or but a very insignificant one; and however high it may shoot up in the course of civilization, if the neighboring palace rises in equal or even in greater measure, the occupant of the relatively little house will always find himself more uncomfortable, more dissatisfied, more cramped within his four walls.
An appreciable rise in wages presupposes a rapid growth of productive capital. Rapid growth of productive capital calls forth just as rapid a growth of wealth, of luxury, of social needs and social pleasures. Therefore, although the pleasures of the labourer have increased, the social gratification which they afford has fallen in comparison with the increased pleasures of the capitalist, which are inaccessible to the worker, in comparison with the stage of development of society in general. Our wants and pleasures have their origin in society; we therefore measure them in relation to society; we do not measure them in relation to the objects which serve for their gratification. Since they are of a social nature, they are of a relative nature.
But wages are not at all determined merely by the sum of commodities for which they may be exchanged. Other factors enter into the problem. What the workers directly receive for their labour-power is a certain sum of money. Are wages determined merely by this money price?
In the 16th century, the gold and silver circulation in Europe increased in consequence of the discovery of richer and more easily worked mines in America. The value of gold and silver, therefore, fell in relation to other commodities. The workers received the same amount of coined silver for their labour-power as before. The money price of their work remained the same, and yet their wages had fallen, for in exchange for the same amount of silver they obtained a smaller amount of other commodities. This was one of the circumstances which furthered the growth of capital, the rise of the bourgeoisie, in the 18th century.
Let us take another case. In the winter of 1847, in consequence of bad harvest, the most indispensable means of subsistence – grains, meat, butter, cheese, etc. – rose greatly in price. Let us suppose that the workers still received the same sum of money for their labour-power as before. Did not their wages fall? To be sure. For the same money they received in exchange less bread, meat, etc. Their wages fell, not because the value of silver was less, but because the value of the means of subsistence had increased.
Finally, let us suppose that the money price of labour-power remained the same, while all agricultural and manufactured commodities had fallen in price because of the employment of new machines, of favorable seasons, etc. For the same money the workers could now buy more commodities of all kinds. Their wages have therefore risen, just because their money value has not changed.
The money price of labour-power, the nominal wages, do not therefore coincide with the actual or real wages – i.e., with the amount of commodities which are actually given in exchange for the wages. If then we speak of a rise or fall of wages, we have to keep in mind not only the money price of labour-power, the nominal wages, but also the real wages.
But neither the nominal wages – i.e., the amount of money for which the labourer sells himself to the capitalist – nor the real wages – i.e., the amount of commodities which he can buy for this money – exhausts the relations which are comprehended in the term wages.
Wages are determined above all by their relations to the gain, the profit, of the capitalist. In other words, wages are a proportionate, relative quantity.
Real wages express the price of labour-power in relation to the price of commodities; relative wages, on the other hand, express the share of immediate labour in the value newly created by it, in relation to the share of it which falls to accumulated labour, to capital.
THE GENERAL LAW THAT DETERMINES THE RISE AND FALL
OF WAGES AND PROFITS
 
We have said: “Wages are not a share of the worker in the commodities produced by him. Wages are that part of already existing commodities with which the capitalist buys a certain amount of productive labor-power.” But the capitalist must replace these wages out of the price for which he sells the product made by the worker; he must so replace it that, as a rule, there remains to him a surplus above the cost of production expended by him, that is, he must get a profit.
 
The selling price of the commodities produced by the worker is divided, from the point of view of the capitalist, into three parts: 
 
First, the replacement of the price of the raw materials advanced by him, in addition to the replacement of the wear and tear of the tools, machines, and other instruments of labor likewise advanced by him; 
 
Second, the replacement of the wages advanced; and 
 
Third, the surplus leftover – i.e., the profit of the capitalist.
 
While the first part merely replaces previously existing values, it is evident that the replacement of the wages and the surplus (the profit of capital) are as a whole taken out of the new value, which is produced by the labor of the worker and added to the raw materials. And in this sense we can view wages as well as profit, for the purpose of comparing them with each other, as shares in the product of the worker.
 
Real wages may remain the same, they may even rise, nevertheless the relative wages may fall. Let us suppose, for instance, that all means of subsistence have fallen 2/3rds in price, while the day’s wages have fallen but 1/3rd – for example, from three to two shillings. Although the worker can now get a greater amount of commodities with these two shillings than he formerly did with three shillings, yet his wages have decreased in proportion to the gain of the capitalist. The profit of the capitalist – the manufacturer’s for instance – has increased one shilling, which means that for a smaller amount of exchange values, which he pays to the worker, the latter must produce a greater amount of exchange values than before. The share of capitals in proportion to the share of labour has risen. The distribution of social wealth between capital and labour has become still more unequal. The capitalist commands a greater amount of labour with the same capital. The power of the capitalist class over the working class has grown, the social position of the worker has become worse, has been forced down still another degree below that of the capitalist. 
 
What, then, is the general law that determines the rise and fall of wages and profit in their reciprocal relation? 
 
They stand in inverse proportion to each other. The share of (profit) increases in the same proportion in which the share of labour (wages) falls, and vice versa. Profit rises in the same degree in which wages fall; it falls in the same degree in which wages rise. 
 
It might perhaps be argued that the capitalist class can gain by an advantageous exchange of his products with other capitalists, by a rise in the demand for his commodities, whether in consequence of the opening up of new markets, or in consequence of temporarily increased demands in the old market, and so on; that the profit of the capitalist, therefore, may be multiplied by taking advantage of other capitalists, independently of the rise and fall of wages, of the exchange value of labourpower; or that the profit of the capitalist may also rise through improvements in the instruments of labour, new applications of the forces of nature, and so on. 
 
But in the first place it must be admitted that the result remains the same, although brought about in an opposite manner. Profit, indeed, has not risen because wages have fallen, but wages have fallen because profit has risen. With the same amount of another man’s labour the capitalist has bought a larger amount of exchange values without having paid more for the labour on that account – i.e., the work is paid for less in proportion to the net gain which it yields to the capitalist. 
 
In the second place, it must be borne in mind that, despite the fluctuations in the prices of commodities, the average price of every commodity, the proportion in which it exchanges for other commodities, is determined by its cost of production. The acts of overreaching and taking advantage of one another within the capitalist ranks necessarily equalize themselves. The improvements of machinery, the new applications of the forces of nature in the service of production, make it possible to produce in a given period of time, with the same amount of labour and capital, a larger amount of products, but in no wise a larger amount of exchange values. If by the use of the spinning- machine I can furnish twice as much yarn in an hour as before its invention – for instance, 100 pounds instead of 50 pounds – in the long run I receive back, in exchange for this 100 pounds no more commodities than I did before for 50; because the cost of production has fallen by 1/2, or because I can furnish double the product at the same cost. 
 
Finally, in whatsoever proportion the capitalist class, whether of one country or of the entire world-market, distribute the net revenue of production among themselves, the total amount of this net revenue always consists exclusively of the amount by which accumulated labour has been increased from the proceeds of direct labour. This whole amount, therefore, grows in the same proportion in which labour augments capital – i.e., in the same proportion in which profit rises as compared with wages.   
KKE Gen.Secretary D.Koutsoumbas: “People’s struggle against capitalism is what brings hope”

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

KKE Gen.Secretary D.Koutsoumbas: “People’s struggle against capitalism is what brings hope”

https://communismgr.blogspot.com/2017/07/kke-gensecretary-dkoutsoumbas-peoples.html
Source: inter.kke.gr.
 
On July 3 2017, a pre-agenda discussion in Parliament was held at the level of the party leaders on the issue of the economy, at the request of the President of ND, K.Mitsotakis, on the occasion of the recent agreement in the Eurogroup regarding the completion of the second “review” of the Greek economy.

As was expected, the Prime minister A.Tsipras, the President of ND K.Mitsotakis and the leaders of the rest of the bourgeois parties attempted to use confrontational language in order to conceal their strategic convergence around the basic demands of capital, swapping accusations about who “undermines” the aims of capital and who serves them better.

In contrast, the GS of the CC of the KKE, D.Koutsoumpas, noted that the real hope for the working class and people is not to be found in the plans and negotiations of the capitalists. Dimitris Koutsoumpas underscored that the biggest memorandum is the capitalist development path itself. He noted that the fairy tales about “just development” in capitalism, which allegedly benefits both the monopolies and the people, are collapsing every day in the workplaces, where the harsh exploitation of the workers is realized.

The GS of the CC of the KKE noted that the euphoric atmosphere, which the government is trying to create amongst a people that has been driven to its knees by the policies of all the governments until now, is provocative and outrageous. In reference to Eurogroup agreement on the 15th of June, he underlined that this confirms that capitalist development does not mean the “end of the sacrifices” for the people, but signals the beginning of a new round of the intensification of the exploitation of the workers. a constant anti-people offensive.

At the same time, D. Koutsoumpas lambasted the country’s participation in the NATO plans that serve the aims of big capital, with the danger that the Greek people will pay an even higher prices for the interests of capital.
The GS of the CC of the KKE stressed that real hope for the working class and people can only be created by coming into conflict and rupture with the current development path. With a powerful KKE, the revitalization of the movement, the Social Alliance, with a proposal for a way out in favour of the people.
 
04/07/2017.
Bernie Sanders Drops A Bombshell Report That Exposes Trump’s Infrastructure Scam

Bernie Sanders Drops A Bombshell Report That Exposes Trump’s Infrastructure Scam

As the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has released a report that exposes Trump’s infrastructure plan as a scam designed to benefit Wall Street.

Bernie Sanders Drops A Bombshell Report That Exposes Trump’s Infrastructure Scam

As the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has released a report that exposes Trump’s infrastructure plan as a scam designed to benefit Wall Street.

The report exposes how Trump’s infrastructure plan actually cuts infrastructure funding:

Under Trump’s proposal, billionaires on Wall Street, wealthy campaign contributors and even foreign governments would receive hundreds of billions in tax breaks to purchase our highways, airports and water treatment plants. They would then be allowed to impose huge new tolls and fees on the backs of American commuters and homeowners.

The reality is that Trump’s plan to sell off our nation’s highways, bridges and other vital infrastructure to Wall Street, private investors, and foreign governments is an old idea that does not work. Trump’s plan to rebuild America relies heavily on the use of public-private partnerships to finance infrastructure projects with private equity capital. Such financing, whether through private equity or traditional tax-exempt municipal bonds, is repaid by ordinary citizens through a combination of taxes
and user fees.

Private equity financing is markedly more expensive than traditional government financing, however – by as much as three to six times. Considering the scale of infrastructure development under consideration, that difference could be enormous. For example: the charge for a $100 million-dollar investment using traditional government bond financing (at 3 percent, over 30 years) is about $90 million. For private equity capital, at a 15 percent return, the total skyrockets to $450 million.

Trump’s infrastructure plan is to cut real infrastructure spending while giving tax cuts to corporations and billionaires so that they can buy the nation’s infrastructure and profit off of it with tolls and fees. Once the infrastructure is privatized, the new owners will be motivated to keep expenses down and profit up. The easiest way to accomplish this goal would be to spend less on the maintenance of roads and bridges while charging user fees to all.

Sen. Sanders said, “Donald Trump wants to hand over critical public infrastructure to private investors who will squeeze profits from the American people by putting up new tolls and exorbitant user fees. That is unacceptable. We shouldn’t be selling off our infrastructure to billionaires to make huge profits on the backs of working people.”

Trump’s plan is a con. Sen. Sanders and his report make an important point. While the Russia scandal consumes the bulk of the national spotlight, Trump is continuing his efforts to use the presidency to make the wealthiest Americans ever richer.