The IMF “Defense” of it Actions against the Greeks is an Unintended Confession

By William K. Black
Quito: June 15, 2015

The IMF, the heedless horseman of the troika that announced it would stop negotiating with the Greeks and go home, has attempted to justify its position through Olivier Blanchard, its “Economic Counsellor and Director of the Research Department.” Blanchard entitled his defense “Greece: A Credible Deal Will Require Difficult Decisions By All Sides.” That is a “serious person” title, but it is also economically illiterate – and no one knows that better than Blanchard. After all, it is the IMF’s deeply neo-liberal economists whose research has confirmed that the IMF’s austerity policies are self-destructive responses to the Great Recession and that fiscal stimulus programs are even more effective than economists had predicted.

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TPP: Fast –Track, the Next Rounds In Congress

The roll call 126-302 vote (Roll call 361) defeating the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) bill was a result worth a little celebrating on Friday, since it was a very decisive victory on that particular vote, and also stopped the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) fast track bill from being sent to the President’s desk for signature. If the vote on TAA hadn’t failed, it would have been far more difficult (I don’t say impossible as many do) to defeat all manner of “free trade” agreements (aka multinational sovereignty agreements), including the currently scheduled Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and the Trade in Services (TiSA) agreements over the next year or so.

Everything we know about these agreements is that they would have been a disaster for all but an extremely small segment of the people of the United States. So, we ought to be overjoyed that, for now, fast-track is stalled in the House, and may get pigeon-holed there for quite some time to come, if the re-vote on TAA fails. Still as Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers, and Bill Black say in their recent posts, this stall may be short-lived if we don’t keep up the pressure and make sure that the Republicans and Democrats in Congress, along with the President are, unsuccessful in reversing Friday’s vote on the TAA. Continue reading

David Leonhardt Strikes Again

By June Carbone
Robina Chair of Law, Science and Technology
University of Minnesota Law School

David Leonhardt strikes again. As he now seems to do with some regularity, he takes a complex body of work and reduces it to a soundbite, eliminating the complexity and uncertainty that underlies the research.   His soundbite this time links two parent families to upward mobility, and notes that two different dynamics produce two parent families: high income and religion. He then replicates maps that purport to show these linkages.

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RIP TPP?

By William K. Black
Quito: June 13, 2015

My answer to the question I pose in my title is “no.” The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is far from dead and can only be defeated by heroic efforts by a broad coalition of Americans dedicated to the interests of our Nation and its people and willing to pay the price to oppose the triumph of corporate interests. The focus of this column, however, is on the New York Times’ coverage of Friday’s vote on a key component of President Obama and the Republican leadership’s efforts to make the TPP law. That focus requires some tangential discussion of the substantive arguments for and against TPP but I will minimize that discussion because I have explained previously in greater detail why I oppose the TPP and urge Americans to make our efforts to defeat it one of our highest priorities.

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The Climate (and Climate Justice!) Movement Cannot Remain a Genteel Environmentalist Movement

By Michael Hoexter, Ph.D.

In my last piece, I noted how little the climate movement and its leadership generally understood about the demand for energy and fossil fuels, or at least strategically continue to gloss over their importance.  I may have been too dramatic in calling this lack “fatal” but it is “fateful” and a critical blockage to the growth it needs to experience rapidly.

But there is I believe a political-strategic “reflex” within the current climate movement that is as or more damaging to the growth of the movement and a laser-like focus on stabilizing the climate system and creating the basis of human civilization in the post-carbon era. There is in my observation a naïve belief that by adding up all of the LOCAL environmental damages caused by fossil fuel extraction that one necessarily arrives at a GLOBAL, holistic understanding and movement to fundamentally alter humanity’s energy and transportation systems.  Philosophers might call this a “fallacy of composition”: the erroneous belief that the parts, if listed serially or together, will represent the whole. Climate movement activists think to themselves perhaps that these local damages are an “added perk” in their war against fossil fuels but I believe, unfortunately, that the movement has had over the last several years a tendency to devolve into the “same-old, same-old” environmentalism that has always been the concern of a fairly small minority of the world’s population.

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Fast –Track: It Looks Like It’s In Pelosi’s Lap or Maybe Not!

There are 246 Republicans and 188 Democrats in the House. Republicans, led by John Boehner and Paul Ryan, say they are confident about having enough votes to hold a successful floor vote on Friday, June 12th.. However, Politico reports that Republican sources are saying they will get anywhere from 180 – 200 votes for fast-track, which doesn’t sound very different from their at least 190 vote estimate as of June 3rd.

So, that leaves anywhere from 46 – 66 Republican opponents of the legislation. The top of this range is very near the maximum of 57 Republicans that TPP opponents have previously estimated could vote against it, except that on the high side it acknowledges the possibility that Republicans may have lost ground compared to a week ago.

Last week, also, supporters of the bill reportedly could not count on more than 17 Democrats to vote for it, and no more than 20 after all the maneuvering and politicking has occurred. Today, the number of committed TPP Democrats seems to be 20, with the recent addition of Don Beyer (D-VA), Kathleen Rice (D-NY), and Jim Himes (D-CT). So, it appears not much progress has been made toward the 218 votes required to carry the fast-track authority in spite of all the activity and much posturing from the pro-TPP forces. Continue reading

Roger Cohen Laments his Inadequate Schadenfreude because the Greeks Don’t Suffer Enough

By William K. Black
Quito: June 11, 2015

Schadenfreude” is a German word that describes taking a “malicious, gloating pleasure in the suffering of other people.” It is a form of sadism. Roger Cohen has written an extraordinary column describing how much he hates the Greek people. Change the name “Greek” to almost any other group and it is certain that the New York Times would refuse to print such a mass of ethnic slurs. The Greeks are fair game, however, for even the crudest slurs in the NYT.

But what causes Cohen’s June 8, 2015 column attacking the Greek people to reach a new level in hate speech is this paragraph.

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TPP: Jim Himes (D-CT), Another Putting “Free Trade” Above National Sovereignty and Democracy

This is another in a series on Democratic Representatives who recently decided that pleasing their President, and their minority leader in the House, and protecting the expectations of potential profits of multinational corporations, was more important than protecting democracy, national, state, and local sovereignty, American Jobs, the environment, the climate, the capability to regulate corporate behavior for the public good, and net neutrality, among may other valuable things. In my previous posts I covered the statements of Don Beyer, Democrat of Virginia’s 8th District and then Kathleen Rice, Democrat of New York’s 4th.

This time the focus of my attention will be Jim Himes (D-CT) who represents the 4th Congressional District in Connecticut. I’ll be doing a point-by-point critique of his reasons for announcing his support of the TPP. Continue reading

Geithner’s Ghost Writer and the Parable of the River of Risk

By William K. Black
Quito: June 9, 2015

Michael Grunwald has written a column attacking Senator Bernie Sanders. It is entitled “Don’t break up the megabanks.” As Grunwald appropriately discloses, he is Timothy Geithner’s ghost writer and a fervent co-religionist of Geithner’s gospel of adoration of and devoted service to the world’s most fraudulent bankers.

Grunwald gives the reader fair warning that he has no financial expertise and is prepared to say anything to try to defend the banksters and Geithner when he makes his first argument the claim that it is “un-American” to break up banks that pose a global systemic risk. To the contrary, few things could be more American if you are even remotely familiar with American views of megabanks from the founding of our Republic.

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TPP: Kathleen Rice (D-NY) Is the Latest to Put “Free Trade” Above National Sovereignty and Democracy

I blogged a critique of Don Beyer, Democratic Representative in the Virginia 8th Congressional District to protest his announcement of support for the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) bill followed by the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) legislation. This past Saturday, Kathleen Rice (D-NY, 4th Congressional District) became the latest to join President Obama’s effort to elevate corporations above the people through the TPA, followed by the TPP legislation, and, he hopes the passage later on of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA). This post is my reply to Congressman Rice’s justification, in talking point/response format, for joining the pro- fast track-TPP forces. Continue reading