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Tag Archives: Economy

The Post-Capitalist Hit of the Summer

On August 12, something extraordinary happened. The news broke that, in the first seven months of 2020, the United Kingdom’s economy had suffered its largest contraction ever (a drop in national income exceeding 20%). The London Stock Exchange reacted with a rise in the FTSE 100 by more than 2%. On the same day, when the United States was beginning to resemble a failed state, not merely a troubled economy, the S&P 500 hit a record high.

To be sure, financial markets have long rewarded misery-enhancing outcomes. Bad news for a firm’s workers – planned layoffs, for example – is often good news for its shareholders. But when the bad news engulfed most workers simultaneously, equity markets always fell, owing to the reasonable expectation that, as the population tightened its belt, all income, and thus average profits and dividends, would be squeezed. The logic of capitalism was not pretty, but it was comprehensible.

https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/covid19-and-postcapitalist-economy-by-yanis-varoufakis-2020-08

 
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Posted by on August 31, 2020 in Economy

 

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Un accordo storico e una sfida per l’Europa

Comunque la si pensi il 21 luglio il Consiglio europeo ha raggiunto un accordo di portata storica, perché per la prima volta l’Unione europea ha deciso di indebitarsi in modo consistente per finanziare dei trasferimenti tra i suoi stati membri. Una decisione simile era impensabile fino a pochi mesi fa. I 27 capi di stato e di governo dell’Unione hanno dato il via libera al cosiddetto recovery fund, un pacchetto di aiuti (390 miliardi per i sussidi, 360 miliardi per i prestiti) da destinare alla ripresa delle economie europee più colpite dalla pandemia di covid-19. Questi soldi si aggiungono al programma Sure (cento miliardi per finanziare misure di cassa integrazione), ai prestiti alle aziende della Banca europea degli investimenti (duecento miliardi) e alla linea di credito per il settore sanitario del Meccanismo europeo di stabilità (240 miliardi), senza contare gli oltre mille miliardi di euro che la Banca centrale europea (Bce) intende usare per comprare titoli di stato attraverso il Pandemic emergency purchase programm (Pepp).

https://www.internazionale.it/opinione/alessandro-lubello/2020/07/21/accordo-recovery-fund-europa-italia

 
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Posted by on July 22, 2020 in Economy, European Union

 

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Iran and China Turbo-Charge the New Silk Roads

Two of the US’s top “strategic threats” are getting closer and closer within the scope of the New Silk Roads — the leading 21st century project of economic integration across Eurasia. The Deep State will not be amused.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi blasted as “liesa series of rumors about the “transparent roadmap” inbuilt in the evolving Iran-China strategic partnership.

That was complemented by President Rouhani’s chief of staff, Mahmoud Vezi, who said that “a destructive line of propaganda has been initiated and directed from outside Iran against the expansion of Iran’s relations with neighbors and especially (with) China and Russia.

Vezi added, “this roadmap in which a path is defined for expansion of relations between governments and the private sectors is signed and will continue to be signed between many countries.”

To a great extent, both Mousavi and Vezi were referring to a sensationalist reportwhich did not add anything that was not already known about the strategic partnership, but predictably dog-whistled a major red alert about the military alliance.

The Iran-China strategic partnership was officially established in 2016, when President Xi visited Tehran. These are the guidelines.

Two articles among the 20 listed in the agreement are particularly relevant.

Item 7 defines the scope of the partnership within the New Silk Roads vision of Eurasia integration: “The Iranian side welcomes ‘the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road’ initiative introduced by China. Relying on their respective strengths and advantages as well as the opportunities provided through the signing of documents such as the “MOU on Jointly Promoting the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road’ and ‘MOU on Reinforcement of Industrial and Mineral Capacities and Investment,’ both sides shall expand cooperation and mutual investments in various areas including transportation, railway, ports, energy, industry, commerce and services.”

And item 10 praises Iran’s membership of the AIIB: “The Chinese side appreciates Iran’s participation as a ‘Founding Member’ of the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank. Both sides are willing to strengthen their cooperation in the relevant areas and join their efforts towards the progress and prosperity of Asia.”

https://www.opednews.com/articles/Iran-and-China-Turbo-Charg-by-Pepe-Escobar-China_China-Iran-Russia-Alliance_China-New-Silk-Roads_Iran-200713-123.html

 
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Posted by on July 15, 2020 in Asia, Middle East

 

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Priorities for the COVID-19 Economy

Although it seems like ancient history, it hasn’t been that long since economies around the world began to close down in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Early in the crisis, most people anticipated a quick V-shaped recovery, on the assumption that the economy merely needed a short timeout. After two months of tender loving care and heaps of money, it would pick up where it left off.

It was an appealing idea. But now it is July, and a V-shaped recovery is probably a fantasy. The post-pandemic economy is likely to be anemic, not just in countries that have failed to manage the pandemic (namely, the United States), but even in those that have acquitted themselves well. The International Monetary Fund projects that by the end of 2021, the global economy will be barely larger than it was at the end of 2019, and that the US and European economies will still be about 4% smaller.

https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/covid-2020-recession-how-to-respond-by-joseph-e-stiglitz-2020-06

 
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Posted by on July 15, 2020 in Economy

 

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Priorities for the COVID-19 Economy

Although it seems like ancient history, it hasn’t been that long since economies around the world began to close down in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Early in the crisis, most people anticipated a quick V-shaped recovery, on the assumption that the economy merely needed a short timeout. After two months of tender loving care and heaps of money, it would pick up where it left off.

It was an appealing idea. But now it is July, and a V-shaped recovery is probably a fantasy. The post-pandemic economy is likely to be anemic, not just in countries that have failed to manage the pandemic (namely, the United States), but even in those that have acquitted themselves well. The International Monetary Fund projects that by the end of 2021, the global economy will be barely larger than it was at the end of 2019, and that the US and European economies will still be about 4% smaller.

https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/covid-2020-recession-how-to-respond-by-joseph-e-stiglitz-2020-06

 
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Posted by on July 7, 2020 in Economy

 

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Working from home has a long history – be careful what you wish for not wanting to go back to the office

In the Wall Street Journal, Dana Mattioli and Konrad Putzier speculate that the white-collar workplace as we know it might soon cease to exist.

They cite Twitter’s plan to allow its 5,000 or so staff to work from home indefinitely, along with plans by OpenText Corp to cut more than 50% of its global offices.

“Many executives …” they say, “point to the success of an unprecedented work-from-home experiment, and how little productivity appears to have been impacted after millions of employees in technology, media, finance and other industries have been forced to work remotely for months.”

Yet if we’re to understand why some 74% of corporations, according to one study, now intend to employ at least some of their staff in that way, we should recognise work from home as neither “unprecedented” nor “an experiment” but rather a method of labour organisation crucial to the development of the modern economy.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/may/26/working-from-home-has-a-long-history-be-careful-what-you-wish-for-not-wanting-to-go-back-to-the-office

 
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Posted by on July 7, 2020 in Uncategorized

 

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Why Remote Work Is So Hard—and How It Can Be Fixed

In the nineteen-sixties, Jack Nilles, a physicist turned engineer, built long-range communications systems at the U.S. Air Force’s Aerial Reconnaissance Laboratory, near Dayton, Ohio. Later, at NASA, in Houston, he helped design space probes that could send messages back to Earth. In the early nineteen-seventies, as the director for interdisciplinary research at the University of Southern California, he became fascinated by a more terrestrial problem: traffic congestion. Suburban sprawl and cheap gas were combining to create traffic jams; more and more people were commuting into the same city centers. In October, 1973, the OPEC oil embargo began, and gas prices quadrupled. America’s car-based work culture seemed suddenly unsustainable.

That year, Nilles published a book, “The Telecommunications-Transportation Tradeoff,” in which he and his co-authors argued that the congestion problem was actually a communications problem. The personal computer hadn’t yet been invented, and there was no easy way to relocate work into the home. But Nilles imagined a system that could ease the traffic crisis: if companies built small satellite offices in city outskirts, then employees could commute to many different, closer locations, perhaps on foot or by bicycle. A system of human messengers and mainframe computers could keep these distributed operations synchronized, replicating the communication that goes on within a single, shared office building. Nilles coined the terms “tele-commuting” and “telework” to describe this hypothetical arrangement.

The satellite-office idea didn’t catch on, but it didn’t matter: over the next decade, advances in computer and network technology leapfrogged it. In 1986, my mother, a COBOL programmer for the Houston Chronicle, became one of the first true remote workers: in a bid to keep her from leaving—she was very good, and had a long commute—the paper set her up with an early-model, monochrome-screen PC, from which she “dialled in” to the paper’s I.B.M. mainframe using a primitive modem, sending screens of code back and forth. “It was very slow,” she told me recently. “You would watch the lines load on the screen, one by one.” The technology wasn’t fast enough for widespread use—hours could pass while the computers synchronized—but the basic template for remote work had been set.

In the following decades, technical advances arrived with increasing frequency. In the nineteen-nineties, during the so-called I.T. revolution, office workers started using networked PCs and teams embraced e-mail and file-sharing. People began spending less time in meetings and on the phone and more time interacting with their computers. As computer prices dropped, many bought comparable machines for their homes, using modems to access the same tools they used at work. In 1994, A.T. & T. held its first “Employee Telecommuting Day”; in 1996, the federal government launched a program to increase remote-work options for its employees. In the early two-thousands, broadband Internet made home connections substantially faster, and, in 2003, a pair of European programmers released Skype, which took advantage of this broadband explosion to enable cheap audio communication. In 2004, they added conference-call capabilities, and, in 2006, video conferencing. By the next year, their program had been downloaded half a billion times.

https://www.newyorker.com/culture/annals-of-inquiry/can-remote-work-be-fixed

 
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Posted by on July 7, 2020 in Reportages

 

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Which Economic Stimulus Works?

Governments around the world are responding forcefully to the COVID-19 crisis with a combined fiscal and monetary response that has already reached 10% of global GDP. Yet according to the latest global assessment from the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, these stimulus measures may not boost consumption and investment by as much as policymakers are hoping.

The problem is that a significant portion of the money is being funneled directly into capital buffers, leading to an increase in precautionary balances. The situation is akin to the “liquidity trap” that so worried John Maynard Keynes during the Great Depression.

Today’s stimulus measures have understandably been rolled out in haste – almost in panic – to contain the economic fallout from the pandemic. And while this fire-hose approach was neither targeted nor precise, many commentators would argue that it was the only option at the time. Without a massive injection of emergency liquidity, there probably would have been widespread bankruptcies, losses of organizational capital, and an even steeper path to recovery.

https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/stimulus-policies-must-benefit-real-economy-not-financial-speculation-by-joseph-e-stiglitz-and-hamid-rashid-2020-06

 
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Posted by on June 22, 2020 in Economy

 

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La corsa all’acqua è già cominciata

L’acqua, bene primario necessario alla vita in tutte le sue forme, comincia a scarseggiare. In particolare quella potabile, ma il problema ha un impatto crescente anche nell’agricoltura e nella produzione industriale. Per questo il possesso delle fonti e la gestione delle risorse idriche sono oggetto di un crescente interesse economico, spesso speculativo, ma non solo. Multinazionali del settore – per esempio quelle che controllano il mercato delle acque in bottiglia – e grandi gruppi finanziari stanno investendo in questo campo: chi infatti controllerà le risorse idriche del pianeta, le infrastrutture necessarie alla loro distribuzione, o gestirà le tecnologie per decontaminare l’acqua inquinata, si ritroverà per le mani un tesoro, e non solo in senso figurato.

L’“oro blu” potrà insomma diventare una materia prima in grado di alimentare formidabili business e drammatici conflitti. Nel luglio del 2010 l’assemblea generale delle Nazioni Unite ha stabilito che “l’acqua potabile e i servizi igienico-sanitari sono un diritto umano essenziale per il pieno godimento del diritto alla vita e di tutti gli altri diritti umani”. La pandemia di covid-19 ha messo in luce come un bene tanto essenziale per il rispetto delle norme igieniche di base non sia equamente distribuito: secondo l’Organizzazione mondiale della sanità (Oms) infatti, il 55 per cento delle strutture sanitarie dei paesi poveri è privo dei servizi idrici di base, l’accesso all’acqua in molti casi è all’esterno degli ospedali e non è possibile nemmeno lavarsi le mani correttamente, il che favorisce il diffondersi di infezioni e aumenta la mortalità.

https://www.internazionale.it/notizie/francesco-peloso/2020/06/10/acqua-risorse-idriche

 
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Posted by on June 12, 2020 in Reportages

 

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“Only when the tide goes out,” Warren Buffett observed, “do you discover who’s been swimming naked.” For our society, the Covid-19 pandemic represents an ebb tide of historic proportions, one that is laying bare vulnerabilities and inequities that in normal times have gone undiscovered. Nowhere is this more evident than in the American food system. A series of shocks has exposed weak links in our food chain that threaten to leave grocery shelves as patchy and unpredictable as those in the former Soviet bloc. The very system that made possible the bounty of the American supermarket—its vaunted efficiency and ability to “pile it high and sell it cheap”—suddenly seems questionable, if not misguided. But the problems the novel coronavirus has revealed are not limited to the way we produce and distribute food. They also show up on our plates, since the diet on offer at the end of the industrial food chain is linked to precisely the types of chronic disease that render us more vulnerable to Covid-19.

The juxtaposition of images in the news of farmers destroying crops and dumping milk with empty supermarket shelves or hungry Americans lining up for hours at food banks tells a story of economic efficiency gone mad. Today the US actually has two separate food chains, each supplying roughly half of the market. The retail food chain links one set of farmers to grocery stores, and a second chain links a different set of farmers to institutional purchasers of food, such as restaurants, schools, and corporate offices. With the shutting down of much of the economy, as Americans stay home, this second food chain has essentially collapsed. But because of the way the industry has developed over the past several decades, it’s virtually impossible to reroute food normally sold in bulk to institutions to the retail outlets now clamoring for it. There’s still plenty of food coming from American farms, but no easy way to get it where it’s needed.

https://www.nybooks.com/articles/2020/06/11/covid-19-sickness-food-supply/

 
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Posted by on June 9, 2020 in North America, Reportages

 

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