Friday, March 20, 2009

Jump You Fuckers!

Dan Hind on the obvious (pdf)

"...we should try to establish exactly what caused the crisis, who is responsible, and how. And that does require a certain amount of finger‐pointing. Not because it is fun, although it is, but because we can’t afford to be magnanimous to the policy‐makers and opinion‐formers who steered us into this. If we do we’ll leave them in place to manage the crisis as confidently and ineptly as its prelude. They will seek to reconstruct a system on the same disastrous lines, they will fail, and they will, with every appearance of regret, resort to ever more desperate measures. You probably found this article online, so I shall say no more."

Thursday, March 19, 2009

What was once not so radical a notion

"The decadent international but individualistic capitalism, in the hands of which we found ourselves... is not a success. It is not intelligent, it is not beautiful, it is not just, it is not virtuous--and it doesn't deliver the goods. In short, we dislike it, and we are beginning to despise it. But when we wonder what to put in its place, we are extremely perplexed."

John Maynard Keynes, "National Self-Sufficiency," The Yale Review, Vol. 22, no. 4 (June 1933), pp. 755-769..

Via "Keynes, Capitalism, and the Crisis", John Bellamy Foster Interviewed by Brian Ashley, Co-Managing Editor of Amandla...

Monday, March 16, 2009

From the Crisis of Distribution to the Distribution of the Costs of the Crisis

From the Crisis of Distribution to the Distribution of the Costs of the Crisis:
What Can We Learn from Previous Crises about the Effects of the Financial Crisis on Labor Share?

by Özlem Onaran

"The paper analyzes the possible distributional consequences of the global crisis based on the lessons of the past crises experiences. The decline in the labor share across the globe has been a major factor that led to the current global crisis. What we are going through is a crisis of distribution, and similarly the policy reactions to the crisis are part of a distributional struggle. The paper presents the effects of the former crises in the developing countries and in Japan on income distribution, wages, and unemployment. This comparison is important not only because it compares developing vs. developed country cases, but also because it highlights the differences of the currency crises vs. domestic financial crises regarding the distributional consequences. However, despite differences, the cumulative effect is in both cases a dramatic pro-capital redistribution. Building on these lessons, the paper discusses the possible different effects of the current global crisis in the developed countries, Eastern Europe, and developing countries, and concludes with policy alternatives to avoid the socialization of the costs of the crisis."

Selected excerpt from policy alternatives:
In order to fundamentally solve the problems of this crisis, economic policy must most of all solve the distributional crisis. A new socio-economic and political paradigm is required focusing on full-employment, productivity led wage growth, and a shortening of work-time. This process should also decide on critical sectors for the society, in which the ownership rights cannot be left to the private sector and private profit motive. The crisis has indicated that the finance and the housing sectors are clear candidates for public ownership enhanced with democratic and transparent control mechanisms of all the stakeholders. The energy crisis is indicating that the energy sector and alternative energy investments also require public ownership. The problems with the private pension funds as well as private supplies of education, health, and infrastructure are showing that social services are also too critical to be ruled by private profit motives. A creative and participatory public discussion should question, in which other sectors public ownership would produce more egalitarian as well as more efficient outcomes. This does not mean to praise the public sector as such, but calls for the participation and control of the stakeholders (the workers, consumers, regional representatives etc.) in the decision making mechanisms within a public and transparent economic model. Such a shift in decision making also facilitates economy wide coordination of important decisions for a sustainable and planned development based on solidarity.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Violence? I'll show you violence

/ rage to beat the machine /

Getting angry at work may not be a bad thing, and may in fact help you move up the career ladder, researchers believe.

The Harvard Medical School study found those who repressed frustration were three times more likely to say they had reached a glass ceiling.

Thankfully it is noted that "Outright fury was destructive". One can thus assume that the rather intense outbursts of slave worker outrage, all around the world are not helping the upward mobility of those involved...

Also note the conflicting advice laid-off workers are presented with:
Experts warn against real displays of [email] anger [at being fired] over concerns that it could hurt a future job search. Many caution against even a hint negativity.

"Don't show any bitterness. Don't complain. Just be positive," says Donna Flagg, a workplace expert and the President of The Krysalis Group, a business and management consulting firm in New York.

... or prehaps venting your anger is ok only when employed. When you're fired it's a liability one should watch out for.

Reposted from The Ames Prophecy, which I'm trying to resurrect, by plugging here

Do Communists Have Better Sex?

Link: Liebte der Osten anders?

This film ["Do Communists Have Better Sex"], a mixture of scholarly research and light-hearted presentations of stereotypes about the role of sex in divided Germany (from the end of the Second World War to the fall of the Berlin Wall), is a welcome addition to recent discussions of sexuality in East and West Germany...
...But where the director might have offered in-depth analyses of the private and public topic of sexuality and sexual mores, the insertion of numerous "humorous animation sequences"... throughout the film take the place of critical discussion, offering the viewer instead facile stereotypes that all too often leave one cringing in embarrassment. It will be difficult for some scholars or students to get beyond one of the first animated scenes, in which a doctor measures the penises of a West German man (16.9 cm) and an East German man (17.5 cm). No evidence in the film backs up such an absurd cartoonish claim...

Distantly though clearly related in a very essential, if conceptual way, see Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries' masterpiece, titled Cunnilingus in North Korea, if you haven't already...

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Would you bank on them?

/ who hired these guys again? /
If you follow a disastrous path and not only fail miserably at your job but drag the whole Earth along with you, shouldn't you get another chance to implement the exact same philosophy that caused the disaster? Well yes, if the persons hiring you are the European Commission and you are among the elite economists that were proven so spectacularly wrong on anything they said prior to the crash. I paste from the executive summary of the Corporate Europe Observatory report "Would you bank on them?":

The financial crisis has unleashed a huge debate on the state of the global financial system.
As politicians examine fiscal solutions and regulatory reforms, the big question is how supervision and regulation should be changed to avoid a repetition of the present meltdown. In the EU, the Commission and the Council has set up a High Level Group of eight experts to advise them on how to reform the financial system in terms of supervision and regulation. Given the now obvious failings of the current system and individual financial sector
institutions, it would seem prudent to seek advice from a diversity of sources, including from independent experts who had expressed concern about the flaws in the current financial architecture.
However, the group - named the de Larosière Group after its chairman - is comprised of people closely linked to the financial industry, or to institutions that, to a greater or lesser extent, have been implicated in the crisis. Four members of the group are closely linked to giant financial corporations that have all played a major role in the current financial crisis, a fifth was the head of the UK Financial Services Authority that completely failed in its supervision of bust bank Northern Rock, a sixth is a fierce enemy of regulation and a seventh works for a company whose clients include major banks.
Beyond this, some members of the Group failed to warn of the impending financial crisis and lately they have even played down its extent and severity. The majority have expressed strong support for a deregulated financial sector and can be deemed to have supported hard-line, neo-liberal policies that arguably created the financial crisis. They are the very kind of people who got us in to the mess. The eight members are:

Jacques de Larosière: Co-chair of the financial sector lobby organization, Eurofi and until recently, adviser to the French bank BNP Paribas for a decade
Rainer Masera: Former Managing Director of a European branch of Lehman Brothers, which went bankrupt after heavy losses on subprime loans
Onno Ruding: An adviser to Citigroup, owners of Citibank that received billions of US dollars in a bail-out
Otmar Issing: Adviser to the financial giant Goldman Sachs
Callum McCarthy: Former head of the UK Financial Services Authority, accused of systematically failing in its duty over bust British bank, Northern Rock
Leszek Balcerowicz: A strident advocate of deregulation
José Pérez Fernández: Works for a financial market intelligence company, which counts big banks as clients
Lars Nyberg: A career banker, now vice chair of the Swedish National Bank.

That such a group has been selected to play a key role in the EU debate on the response to the crisis is deeply worrying. It is unlikely to open up any debate on real alternatives to the present financial architecture.
Policy capture by vested interests results in flawed policies and regulations. Europe’s leaders must end the privileged access to decision makers enjoyed by the powerful finance sector lobby. At the same time, they must also curb the power that the private sector holds over the political process in the EU and make decision-making democratically accountable.