By Blake Smith for Aeon. For nearly four centuries, the Atlantic slave trade brought millions of people into bondage. Scholars estimate that around 1.5 million people perished in the brutal middle passage across the Atlantic. The slave trade linked Africa, Europe and the Americas in a horrific enterprise of death and torture and profit. Yet, in the middle of the 18th century, as the slave trade boomed like never before, some notable European observers saw it as a model of free enterprise and indeed of ‘liberty’ itself. They were not slave traders or slave-ship captains but economic thinkers, and very influential ones. They were a pioneering group of economic thinkers committed to the principle oflaissez-faire: a term they themselves coined. United around the French official Vincent de Gournay (1712-1759), they were among the first European intellectuals to argue for limitations on government intervention in the economy. They organised campaigns for the deregulation of domestic and international trade, and they made the slave trade a key piece of evidence in their arguments.
By Andrea Seabrook of Market Place – Welcome to the post-Brexit world – a global economic outlook more uncertain than ever. Before we all go raising alarms though, remember: many of the economic fundamentals in the American economy are strong. Still, there have been signs of economic uncertainty. The Fed’s being cautious on interest rates. The May unemployment report showed poor job growth. And on the campaign trail, the talk is about economic fairness and jobs lost to trade deals.
By Alexander C. Kaufman for The Huffington Post – The editorial board of the Financial Times isn’t exactly stacked with bleeding-hearted environmentalists. Just a month ago, the British paper defendedExxonMobil’s right to question climate change amid legal probes into whether the oil giant covered up evidence of global warming. But in an editorial published Saturday, the FT urged the oil industry to “face a future of slow and steady decline.”
By Ellen Brown for Web of Debt – “Reckless,” “alarming,” “disastrous,” “swashbuckling,” “playing with fire,” “crazy talk,” “lost in a forest of nonsense”: these are a few of the labels applied by media commentators to Donald Trump’s latest proposal for dealing with the federal debt. On Monday, May 9th, the presumptive Republican presidential candidate said on CNN, “You print the money.” The remark was in response to a firestorm created the previous week, when Trump was asked if the US should pay its debt in full or possibly negotiate partial repayment.
By Jack Rasmus for Telesur. This past week the U.S. government announced the contry’s economy rose in the January-March 2016 at a mere 0.5 percent annual growth rate. Since the U.S., unlike other countries, estimates its GDP based on annual rates, that means for the first quarter 2016 the U.S. economy grew by barely 0.1 percent over the previous quarter in late 2015. Growth this slow indicates the US economy may have “slipped into ‘stall speed’, that is, growth so weak that the economy loses enough momentum and slides into recession”, according to economists at JPMorgan Chase. Has the U.S. economy therefore come to a halt the past three months? If so, what are the consequences for a global economy already progressively slowing? What will an apparently stagnating US economy mean for Japan, already experiencing its fifth recession since 2008?
By Rachael Boothroyd Rojas for Venezuelanalysis. Caracas, April 20th 2016 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelan Oil and Mining Minister Euologio del Pino has accused the US government of deliberately scuppering the efforts of major oil-producing countries to put a cap on global production levels amidst a historic slump in oil prices. Referring to a major meeting convened between an array of 18 OPEC and non-OPEC countries in Doha on April 17th, Del Pino stated that the US had deliberately put pressure on countries not to attend, as well as to adopt hardline positions against the proposed measures. “This political agenda is against our country… because it is supposed that by maintaining low oil prices, they will bring the downfall of Venezuela,” said the minister on Tuesday.
By Mike Whitney for Counter Punch – “Contrary to the rising-tide hypothesis, the rising tide has only lifted the large yachts, while many of the smaller boats have been dashed on the rocks.” Joseph Stiglitz, economist American plutocrats and their political lackeys in congress have implemented a plan that’s putting pressure on wages and further decimating the already-battered middle class. By sustaining high levels of unemployment over a long period of time, US elites have “restructured the labor force”…
By Michele Gilman for The Conversation – Economic inequality is now firmly on the public agenda as candidates and voters alike look for someone to blame for stagnant wages, entrenched poverty and a widening gap between rich and poor. Bernie Sanders blames Wall Street. Donald Trump points his finger at companies moving overseas. Hillary Clinton identifies middle-class families who are working harder but staying in place as the root cause. While all these factors and others helped increase inequality, they overlook the role of a key American institution that has also helped widen the gap between rich and poor: the Supreme Court.
By Charles Eisenstein for Local Futures – Do mortgage debtors, credit card debtors, and student loan borrowers have a moral obligation to pay back their debts? Is it unethical for debtor nations to default on their loans? Most folks, thinking themselves to be honorable people, feel a strong moral obligation to “make good” on their debts, to honor their debts, to follow through on what looks very much like a promise to repay. Today, however, a burgeoning debt resistance movement draws from the realization that many of these debts are not fair.
By Nichoe Lichen for Green Fire Times – The crash of 2008 just keeps on giving. We didn’t make it happen, but somehow it’s ours to fix. Historically, governments look to raising taxes and cutting jobs and services to “fix the problem.” So it goes in the city of Santa Fe this year. This may be a short-term necessity, given the city’s current financial crisis, but Banking on New Mexico believes the time is right for a better long-term strategy that includes a public bank that will invest our public funds—interest earned from those taxes, fees and fines we all pay—back into our community.
By JP Sottile for Truthout. Big Oil is a bad investment fueled by irrational exuberance, chronic cronyism and an increasingly indefensible misallocation of capital. And decades of throwing good money after bad has produced a distorted economic system that socializes risk, privatizes profits, externalizes costs and misallocates capital. This continues because policy makers sustain it with taxpayer-funded subsidies, costly tax breaks and low-overhead access to publicly held resources. By failing to institute much-needed cost internalization mechanisms and by completely avoiding the key problem of government subsidization, the cork-popping cadre of COP21 tacitly admitted what most cynics already knew – policy makers still believe “Big Oil” is far too big to fail. But, like other distorted markets in history, the correction is coming. The growing impact of climate change is exposing the key fallacy at the heart of the hydrocarbon economy: Big Oil cannot simply exempt itself from the natural economy governing all things in this closed system called planet Earth.