By Flush The TPP! – Hundreds of local residents and representatives from international advocacy groups are gathering on the shore of Kā‘anapali Coast to express their opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) because it would sacrifice fundamental protections for public health, the environment, local jobs, and indigenous rights in order to enrich a few major corporations. “The TPP is a threat to our sovereignty as Native Hawaiians, and as human beings,” said Kaleikoa Ka‘eo, professor of Hawaiian Studies at the University of Hawai‘i. “This secret trade agreement would allow corporations to control decisions about how we live without any accountability to us, the people of this land. We call on everyone who cares about the environment, public health, jobs, and basic human rights for Hawaiians and all people to join us on Wednesday for a gathering on Kā‘anapali Beach.”
By Reuters – Twenty-two financial companies that have served as primary dealers of U.S. Treasury securities were sued in federal court on Thursday, in what was described as the first nationwide class action alleging a conspiracy to manipulate Treasury auctions that harmed both investors and borrowers. The State-Boston Retirement System, the pension fund for Boston public employees, accused Bank of America’s Merrill Lynch unit,Citigroup, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, HSBC,JPMorgan Chase, UBS, and 14 other defendants of illegally trying to profit on the sale of Treasury bills, notes and bonds at investors’ expense. According to the pension fund’s complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in New York, the banks used chat rooms, instant messages and other means to swap confidential customer information and coordinate trading strategies in the roughly $12.5 trillion Treasury market.
By Paul Mason in The Guardian – Postcapitalism is possible because of three major changes information technology has brought about in the past 25 years. First, it has reduced the need for work, blurred the edges between work and free time and loosened the relationship between work and wages. The coming wave of automation, currently stalled because our social infrastructure cannot bear the consequences, will hugely diminish the amount of work needed – not just to subsist but to provide a decent life for all. Second, information is corroding the market’s ability to form prices correctly. That is because markets are based on scarcity while information is abundant. The system’s defence mechanism is to form monopolies – the giant tech companies – on a scale not seen in the past 200 years, yet they cannot last.
By Costas Lapavitsas in The Real News – And it is–it is neocolonial for many reasons. I will mention three. First, the deal proposes the establishment of a privatization fund of 50 billion Euros which will basically sell public property under foreign management. 25 billion of that, the first 25 billion, will go to the banks by the agreement. If there’s anything left, and there won’t be anything left because they’ll never make 50 billion, it might go to repaying the debt and possibly to investment. Essentially, then, this fund will sell what it can of public property to recapitalize the banks. We’ve just agreed the deal that sells the family silver to recapitalize the failed Greek banks. We’ve also agreed to reforms of civil administration managed by the EU. We’ve also agreed to monitoring, and this monitoring will be very severe and it will last a lot longer than the three years that this deal will last.
By Mackenzie McDonald Wilkins in Flush the TPP – In less than two weeks, from July 28-31, “the United States will host a meeting of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Trade Ministers in Maui, Hawaii, preceded by a meeting of TPP Chief Negotiators from July 24-27” (USTR). People in Hawaii are leading the charge to organize protests in opposition to the meetings. The protests will educate and unite people on Hawaii against corporate imperial “trade” deals that will threaten indigenous sovereignty on the island, increase the use of GMO crops, diminish worker rights, and reward multinationals that pollute the environment on the islands and around the world. There will also be solidarity actions across the country. Many of the countries involved in the TPP negotiations are ready to close the deal, despite major concerns from other countries.
By James Moreland in Economy In Crisis – The New York Times has reported that the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations will see a wrap late July. However, many of the 12 countries still have big issues that need to be solved before this agreement can move forward. Regardless of any issues these countries may have, America is ultimately going to be the biggest loser with this trade deal. We are the largest consumer nation in the world. Countries like Vietnam, Malaysia, and Japan need our economy to continue thriving. Whatever issues they may have, they will soon get over it since they need us more than we need them. Regardless, citizens in their countries are protesting against the TPP in the streets and their protests have helped slow down the TPP. People in Japan, Canada, Australia, the U.S., and New Zealand have been up in arms about the TPP.
By World Nuclear Industry Status Report – Japan without nuclear power for a full calendar year for the first time since the first commercial nuclear power plant started up in the country 50 years ago. Nuclear plant construction starts plunge from fifteen in 2010 to three in 2014. 62 reactors under construction—five fewer than a year ago—of which at least three- quarters delayed. In 10 of the 14 building countries all projects are delayed, often by years. Five units have been listed as “under construction” for over 30 years. Share of nuclear power in global electricity mix stable at less than 11% for a third year in a row. AREVA, technically bankrupt, downgraded to “junk” by Standard & Poor’s, sees its share value plunge to a new historic low on 9 July 2015—a value loss of 90 percent since 2007.
By Michael Snyder in The Economic Collapse Blog – If the U.S. economy really is improving, then why are big U.S. retailers permanently shutting down thousands of stores? The “retail apocalypse” that I have written about so frequently appears to be accelerating. As you will see below, major U.S. retailers have announced that they are closing more than 6,000 locations, but economic conditions in this country are still fairly stable. So if this is happening already, what are things going to look like once the next recession strikes? For a long time, I have been pointing to 2015 as a major “turning point” for the U.S. economy, and I still feel that way. And since I started The Economic Collapse Blog at the end of 2009, I have never seen as many indications that we are headed into another major economic downturn as I do right now. If retailers are closing this many stores already, what are our malls and shopping centers going to look like a few years from now?
By John Hilary in Politics – If the Greek crisis has shown how the institutions of the EU will stop at nothing to force through their own brand of capitalist discipline, TTIP is confirmation that we will all soon be tasting the same medicine. This week sees the 10th round of negotiations towards the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), the controversial EU-US trade deal that threatens our jobs, our public services and our democracy itself. The talks come hot on the heels of last week’s pro-TTIP vote in the European Parliament, where MEPs turned their backs on their electorate in favour of a deal that will benefit only big business and the banks. The European Parliament passed a resolution on July 8 giving the green light to the continuing TTIP negotiations, despite the fact that a record 2.3 million people from across the EU have now signed a European Citizens’ Initiative rejecting the deal altogether.
By Helena Smith and Emma Graham-Harrison in Athens, Ben Quinn, Heather Stewart and Graeme Wearden for the Guardian – Five years into the worst crisis to hit their country in decades, Greek MPs voted by a large majority in the early hours of Thursday morning to accept draconian austerity as the price of further bailout funds but at great personal cost to prime minister Alexis Tsipras. In a vote that saw tensions soar in and outside parliament, the embattled leader’s radical leftist Syriza party suffered huge losses as 40 MPs revolted against the measures. A total of 229 lawmakers voted in favour of the internationally mandated measures, 64 against and six abstained.
By Deborah James in The Huffington Post – Negotiations in the WTO are heating up — and they are going badly. In November last year, WTO members agreed to come up with a “Work Program” for resurrecting the Doha Round by July 31. As you may remember, it had been stalled for years, but since the new Director-General, Roberto Azevêdo of Brazil, took over in September of 2013, he has been shaking things up. The first WTO expansion agreement, on “Trade Facilitation,” was concluded in December 2013, along with a promise to negotiate to reduce WTO constraints WTO on developing countries’ ability to feed their poor. It must be remembered that developing countries only agreed to launch a new round of negotiations in order to address problems with the previous round that resulted in the founding of the WTO in 1995.
By Michael A. Fletcher and Steven Mufson in The Washington Post – The sprawling pharmaceutical plants nestled in the hills of this town west of San Juan are testament to the unusual nature of this island’s struggling economy. The factories once employed a small army of highly trained workers that would be the envy of many other places in the United States. But those jobs — for engineers, chemists and others skilled in precision manufacturing — have been rapidly disappearing for largely the same reason they came here in the first place: policy decisions made in Washington. A generous series of tax breaks enacted by Congress shielded the profits of U.S. corporations operating here and helped transform Puerto Rico from a largely agrarian society to a manufacturing powerhouse. But what Washington gave, it also took away.
By John Pilger in CounterPunch – An historic betrayal has consumed Greece. Having set aside the mandate of the Greek electorate, the Syriza government has willfully ignored last week’s landslide “No” vote and secretly agreed a raft of repressive, impoverishing measures in return for a “bailout” that means sinister foreign control and a warning to the world. These reportedly include a 50 per cent increase in the cost of healthcare for pensioners, almost 40 per cent of whom live in poverty; deep cuts in public sector wages; the complete privatization of public facilities such as airports and ports; a rise in value added tax to 23 per cent, now applied to the Greek islands where people struggle to eke out a living. There is more to come.
By Mike Whitney in Counterpunch – Let’s cut to the chase: Leaders of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) realize that global security cannot be entrusted to a country that sees war as a acceptable means for achieving its geopolitical objectives. They also realize that they won’t be able to achieve financial stability as long as Washington dictates the rules, issues the de facto “international” currency, and controls the main levers of global financial power. This is why the BRICS have decided to chart a different course, to gradually break free from the existing Bretton Woods system, and to create parallel system that better serves their own interests. Logically, they have focused on the foundation blocks which support the current US-led system, that is, the institutions from which the United States derives its extraordinary power; the dollar, the US Treasury market, and the IMF.
By Staff for Jubilee Debt Campaign — This report finds that the level of such debts owed between countries has risen from $11.3 trillion in 2011 to $13.8 trillion in 2014, and predicts that in 2015 they will increase further to $14.7 trillion. Major global debtors, including the US, UK, France, India and Italy, have been increasing their debts with the rest of the world, whilst Germany, Japan and Russia have been increasing their surpluses. Debts owed by low income countries are also increasing rapidly, with Mozambique the most indebted country – public and private sector – in the world as a proportion of GDP. Lending to low income countries has trebled since 2008, driven initially by borrowing by countries to cope with the impacts of the global financial crisis. This has been followed by an increase in ‘aid’ being given as loans, including through multilateral institutions such as the World Bank.