RSS

Tag Archives: Economy

Workers Should Be in Charge

Earlier this month, Univision announced it was selling Gizmodo Media Group (a digital media company comprising former Gawker sites such as Gizmodo, Kotaku, Splinter, Jezebel, and The Root) as well as the Onion (including its eponymous site, The A.V. Club, Clickhole, and The Takeout) to a private equity firm, Great Hill Partners.

No further layoffs have been announced for the 233 unionized employees at the two properties. But workers and contributors are probably right to worry that some or all of the sites will see mass layoffs or closure as Green Hill seeks to strip the companies for their most profitable parts while burning the rest. This is the private equity business model, after all, and it would be naive to expect anything else.

But what if there was an alternative? Wouldn’t it be better if the workers at the Gizmodo Media Group and the Onion had the right to block the Great Hill sale and buy the company themselves, turning it into a worker-owned business, with financial and technical assistance from the government?

https://www.jacobinmag.com/2019/04/worker-ownership-private-equity-cooperatives

Advertisements
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on May 14, 2019 in Economy, Uncategorized

 

Tags: ,

Europe has no power in the escalating US-Iran conflict

Brexiteers in Britain are denouncing the EU as an all-powerful behemoth from whose clutches Britain must escape, just as the organisation is demonstrating its failure to become more than a second-rate world power.

The EU’s real status – well behind the US, Russia and China – has just been demonstrated by its inability to protect Iran from US sanctions following President Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal of 2015. A year ago, Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron made humiliating visits to Washington to plead vainly with Trump to stay with the agreement, but were rebuffed.

Since then the US has successfully ratcheted up economic pressure on Iran, reducing its oil exports from 2.8 to 1.3 million barrels a day. The UK, France and Germany had promised to create a financial vehicle to circumvent US sanctions, but their efforts have been symbolic. Commercial enterprises are, in any case, too frightened of the ire of the US treasury to take advantage of such measures.

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/trump-iran-us-conflict-war-trade-sanctions-a8908741.html

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on May 11, 2019 in Middle East

 

Tags: , , ,

The New Silk Roads reach the next level

The Belt and Road Forum in Beijing was a graphic demonstration of how tactical adjustments are essential to enhance the appeal of a complex overall strategy. Talk about a turbo-charged 4.0 version of the legendary Deng Xiaoping maxim “crossing the river while feeling the stones.” – Advertisement –

For all the somewhat straitjacket approach of Chinese official pronouncements, President Xi Jinping stressed a sort of “three musts” for the advance of the New Silk Roads, or Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) debt sustainability, protection of the environment (or “green growth”), and no tolerance for corruption.

Add to that a growing battle against trade protectionism, more bilateral free-trade deals, more financing or investments, cooperation on third-party markets, and even a plan to sell Silk Road bonds.

In his keynote speech, Xi stressed how multilateral cooperation on “six corridors and six channels serving multiple countries and ports” is all go. He was referring to BRI’s six major connectivity corridors spanning Eurasia and the fact that BRI is still in its planning stage; implementation actually starts in 2021.

https://www.opednews.com/articles/1/The-New-Silk-Roads-reach-t-by-Pepe-Escobar-China-New-Silk-Roads_Economic_Putin_Russia-china-190429-872.html

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on May 10, 2019 in Asia

 

Tags: , ,

Dare to declare capitalism dead – before it takes us all down with it

For most of my adult life I’ve railed against “corporate capitalism”, “consumer capitalism” and “crony capitalism”. It took me a long time to see that the problem is not the adjective but the noun. While some people have rejected capitalism gladly and swiftly, I’ve done so slowly and reluctantly. Part of the reason was that I could see no clear alternative: unlike some anti-capitalists, I have never been an enthusiast for state communism. I was also inhibited by its religious status. To say “capitalism is failing” in the 21st century is like saying “God is dead” in the 19th: it is secular blasphemy. It requires a degree of self-confidence I did not possess.

But as I’ve grown older, I’ve come to recognise two things. First, that it is the system, rather than any variant of the system, that drives us inexorably towards disaster. Second, that you do not have to produce a definitive alternative to say that capitalism is failing. The statement stands in its own right. But it also demands another, and different, effort to develop a new system.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/apr/25/capitalism-economic-system-survival-earth

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 26, 2019 in Economy

 

Tags: ,

Why we stopped trusting elites

For hundreds of years, modern societies have depended on something that is so ubiquitous, so ordinary, that we scarcely ever stop to notice it: trust. The fact that millions of people are able to believe the same things about reality is a remarkable achievement, but one that is more fragile than is often recognised.

At times when public institutions – including the media, government departments and professions – command widespread trust, we rarely question how they achieve this. And yet at the heart of successful liberal democracies lies a remarkable collective leap of faith: that when public officials, reporters, experts and politicians share a piece of information, they are presumed to be doing so in an honest fashion.

The notion that public figures and professionals are basically trustworthy has been integral to the health of representative democracies. After all, the very core of liberal democracy is the idea that a small group of people – politicians – can represent millions of others. If this system is to work, there must be a basic modicum of trust that the small group will act on behalf of the much larger one, at least some of the time. As the past decade has made clear, nothing turns voters against liberalism more rapidly than the appearance of corruption: the suspicion, valid or otherwise, that politicians are exploiting their power for their own private interest.

https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/nov/29/why-we-stopped-trusting-elites-the-new-populism

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 8, 2019 in Economy

 

Tags: ,

Concrete: the most destructive material on Earth

In the time it takes you to read this sentence, the global building industry will have poured more than 19,000 bathtubs of concrete. By the time you are halfway through this article, the volume would fill the Albert Hall and spill out into Hyde Park. In a day it would be almost the size of China’s Three Gorges Dam. In a single year, there is enough to patio over every hill, dale, nook and cranny in England.

After water, concrete is the most widely used substance on Earth. If the cement industry were a country, it would be the third largest carbon dioxide emitter in the world with up to 2.8bn tonnes, surpassed only by China and the US.

The material is the foundation of modern development, putting roofs over the heads of billions, fortifying our defences against natural disaster and providing a structure for healthcare, education, transport, energy and industry.

Concrete is how we try to tame nature. Our slabs protect us from the elements. They keep the rain from our heads, the cold from our bones and the mud from our feet. But they also entomb vast tracts of fertile soil, constipate rivers, choke habitats and – acting as a rock-hard second skin – desensitise us from what is happening outside our urban fortresses.

Our blue and green world is becoming greyer by the second. By one calculation, we may have already passed the point where concrete outweighs the combined carbon mass of every tree, bush and shrub on the planet. Our built environment is, in these terms, outgrowing the natural one. Unlike the natural world, however, it does not actually grow. Instead, its chief quality is to harden and then degrade, extremely slowly.

https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2019/feb/25/concrete-the-most-destructive-material-on-earth

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 29, 2019 in Reportages

 

Tags: , ,

Capitalism’s New Clothes

In a series of remarkably prescient articles, the first of which was published in the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in the summer of 2013, Shoshana Zuboff pointed to an alarming phenomenon: the digitization of everything was giving technology firms immense social power. From the modest beachheads inside our browsers, they conquered, Blitzkrieg-style, our homes, cars, toasters, and even mattresses. Toothbrushes, sneakers, vacuum cleaners: our formerly dumb household subordinates were becoming our “smart” bosses. Their business models turned data into gold, favoring further expansion.

Google and Facebook were restructuring the world, not just solving its problems. The general public, seduced by the tech world’s youthful, hoodie-wearing ambassadors and lobotomized by TED Talks, was clueless. Zuboff saw a logic to this digital mess; tech firms were following rational—and terrifying—imperatives. To attack them for privacy violations was to miss the scale of the transformation—a tragic miscalculation that has plagued much of the current activism against Big Tech.

https://thebaffler.com/latest/capitalisms-new-clothes-morozov

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 6, 2019 in Economy, Reportages

 

Tags: , ,

StoreKing lures Amazon by connecting the dots of rural India

They call it the “red bike village.” In Sridhar Gundaiah’s hometown in the south of India, all 150 households own a red Hero Splendor motorbike.

This is not just a matter of keeping up with the neighbors.

For Gundaiah, the red bikes hold deeper lessons that he took to heart in 2012 when he set up StoreKing, an e-commerce platform aimed squarely at India’s 800 million rural residents. Unlike typical online retailers that deal directly with consumers, StoreKing sells through a vast network of local mom-and-pop shops — a business model that has attracted the likes of Amazon.com to forge tie-ups.

The Splendors helped Gundaiah recognize the power of villagers to influence one another. The residents of Hanchipura are “not buying to challenge others,” he said. The mindset is simply, “One has a bike, I will also buy another bike like you.”

More importantly, perhaps, he noticed how much local retailers guide residents’ purchasing decisions. Customers rely on local store owners’ opinions on everything from motorbikes to skin care products. “We know [the merchants] by name, we know what they’ve been doing,” Gundaiah said. “It became very clear that an end customer will piggyback on what the retailer is saying.”

So when Gundaiah established StoreKing in Bangalore, he decided to make rural shops the core of his business. This could prove prescient as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government tightens rules on major e-commerce players to protect smaller retailers, with new regulations to take effect on Feb. 1.

“We started out saying, ‘Can we give retailers enough power to start educating customers about accessing technology, digitalization, bank transfers?'” Gundaiah recalled. “So we became a distribution channel for companies, but largely driven by assistance” from local merchants.

https://asia.nikkei.com/Spotlight/Startups-in-Asia/StoreKing-lures-Amazon-by-connecting-the-dots-of-rural-India

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 5, 2019 in Asia

 

Tags: ,

What’s Wrong with Liberalism?

In 1826 the 20-year-old John Stuart Mill had a nervous breakdown. He had been raised by his father, James, as a utilitarian. Consequently, he had believed that all that mattered in life was pleasure and pain. Suddenly, nothing gave him pleasure anymore. Having been taught that his purpose in life was to spread happiness, he now realised, as he later reported in his Autobiography, that making other people happy would not bring about his own happiness. He emerged from this crisis when he realised that happiness is peculiar: it is a byproduct of doing something you care about, something you believe in. Paradoxically, he was now free to devote himself once more to making other people happy. His recovery began when he read the historian Jean-François Marmontel’s account of the death of his father and wept. Mill, having imagined the death of his own father, had begun to think and feel for himself.

https://www.historytoday.com/archive/feature/what%E2%80%99s-wrong-liberalism

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 5, 2019 in Economy

 

Tags:

How Can We Tax Footloose Multinationals?

In the last few years, globalization has come under renewed attack. Some of the criticisms may be misplaced, but one is spot on: globalization has enabled large multinationals, like Apple, Google, and Starbucks, to avoid paying tax.Apple has become the poster child for corporate tax avoidance, with its legal claim that a few hundred people working in Ireland were the real source of its profits, and then striking a deal with that country’s government that resulted in its paying a tax amounting to .005% of its profit. Apple, Google, Starbucks, and companies like them all claim to be socially responsible, but the first element of social responsibility should be paying your fair share of tax. If everyone avoided and evaded taxes like these companies, society could not function, much less make the public investments that led to the Internet, on which Apple and Google depend.

https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/corporate-tax-avoidance-end-transfer-pricing-by-joseph-e-stiglitz-2019-02

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 26, 2019 in Economy

 

Tags: