Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Karl Marx on public debt

Karl Marx: Economic Manuscripts: Capital Vol. I - Chapter Thirty-One:

...The only part of the so-called national wealth that actually enters into the collective possessions of modern peoples is their national debt. Hence, as a necessary consequence, the modern doctrine that a nation becomes the richer the more deeply it is in debt. Public credit becomes the credo of capital. And with the rise of national debt-making, want of faith in the national debt takes the place of the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, which may not be forgiven.

The public debt becomes one of the most powerful levers of primitive accumulation. As with the stroke of an enchanter’s wand, it endows barren money with the power of breeding and thus turns it into capital, without the necessity of its exposing itself to the troubles and risks inseparable from its employment in industry or even in usury. The state-creditors actually give nothing away, for the sum lent is transformed into public bonds, easily negotiable, which go on functioning in their hands just as so much hard cash would. But further, apart from the class of lazy annuitants thus created, and from the improvised wealth of the financiers, middlemen between the government and the nation-as also apart from the tax-farmers, merchants, private manufacturers, to whom a good part of every national loan renders the service of a capital fallen from heaven-the national debt has given rise to joint-stock companies, to dealings in negotiable effects of all kinds, and to agiotage, in a word to stock-exchange gambling and the modern bankocracy.

Zizek's Joke

Includes greek subs:

Friday, February 19, 2010

Mark Weisbrot, "Central Bank Independence: From Whom?"

Mark Weisbrot: Central Bank Independence: From Whom?:

There is no obvious reason why monetary policy -- the central bank's decisions with regard to interest rates and money supply -- is so different from other major policy decisions that it should be specially insulated from the electorate. There is no valid analogy, for example, to the independence of the judiciary -- which is based on a theory of separation of powers, or checks and balances, ostensibly to limit abuses of power or infringements on civil rights and liberties.

The argument for an independent central bank is more purely an elitist argument. It really boils down to the idea that monetary policy is too important for the "uneducated" masses to have an influence over it.

Ironically, the reality is quite the opposite: monetary policy is an area where pressure from the majority is sorely needed. There is a grand conflict of interest between the financial sector and the rest of society.