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Dr. Jack Rasmus analyzes US 1st Quarter GDP numbers, where US economic growth flattened out to a mere 0.2%--the fourth such collapse in the US economy in as many years.  Is it due to the weather, as some argue? Is there something wrong with US statistics, showing four collapses since 2009 all occurring in the winter? Or are there real economic explanations for why the US economy periodically surges in the summer then stalls out in the winter, as it has since 2011? Will this winter 2015’s stall be followed by another ‘temporary surge’ in growth this summer?  Jack looks beneath the numbers for real explanations for the US economy’s continuing ‘stop-go’ trajectory, identifying patters of one-off, temporary factors that typically have occurred in the 3rd quarter (July-September), only to dissipate in the winter quarters, in turn leading to an over-correction and decline in US GDP and growth repeatedly.  It’s not the weather. It may be outmoded statistical methods by the US government. But it certainly is due to temporary events that don’t result in a sustained economy recovery, Jack argues.  Government pre-election spending, restoration of defense spending, business inventory buildups, the global oil glut and US oil shale boom & bust, the US dollar decline and surge effects on US manufacturing-exports, diversion of US business investment into financial assets and offshore markets better account for the US stop-go trajectory, Jack argues. What’s missing is steady wage and income growth for 90% of US households and real job creating investment by business in the US.

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Jack Rasmus discusses the recent report that the wealthiest 1%, who own most of the stock in US corporations, will receive more than $1 trillion in stock buybacks and dividend payouts in 2015. Buybacks-dividends delivered $3.8 trillion since the end of the recession in 2009, with another trillion coming this year. And that’s only for the largest S&P 500 corporations, Jack explains. Net profits for US corporations totaled more than $5 trillion since 2009 as well. Jack explains how that $5 trillion in profits derived from cost cutting, mostly labor costs, and rising corporate financial asset investment and speculation as well.  $5 trillion in profits minus $3.8 trillion in buybacks and dividend payouts, leaves about the $1.3 trillion remaining in undistributed profits still on corporate balance sheets, Jack explains.  That’s how the rich get richer in America. But that’s not how business, politicians and even liberal economists explain income inequality—choosing instead to focus on productivity, tax, CEO pay as causes.  None dare touch the corporation as the real source and the conduit for distribution of income and wealth to the 1%, Jack argues.  Jack concludes the show with another look at US GDP numbers that will be announced on April 29 for first quarter GDP, following up his comments on a prior April 4 show.  There may be a big surprise, he warns, with GDP collapsing again (for the fourth time) to near zero growth, as the USA continues on its ‘stop-go’ economic scenario and as the current 5-6 years of ‘recovery’ since the last recession reaches its final years.

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Jack Rasmus welcomes grass roots organizers, Emmelle Israel of the AFL-CIO and Kali Gochmanofsky of Citizenstrade, who are helping to organize opposition to the pending passage in Congress of ‘fast track’ and the TPP, the Trans Pacific Partnership free trade agreement.  Emmelle and Kali describe what’s going on with  today’s (Saturday April 18) national day of actions against the free trade agreement and where listeners can go to participate today, Saturday, April 18, and in days to follow.  The participants explain how TPP will destroy jobs, lower wages, undermine environmental conditions, weaken human rights, and further limit democratic rights in the USA that are already being limited. Jack explains how TPP represents the early stage in the formation of a global Corporate Government system, preventing elected US representatives from proposing legislation in the future that contradicts the TPP deal terms in any way, as well setting up an alternative global corporate judicial system that takes precedence over US courts.  Why TPP has become the #1 priority of US multinational corporations since last November’s midterm US elections, and why corporations see it as a ‘now this year or never’ objective and key to the Corporate America agenda in 2015. Jack discusses as well the strategic role of TPP in the USA’s plans to ‘pivot’ to Asia to contain China. Failure to pass TPP means deep problems for the political and military side of the ‘pivot’. Emmelle and Kail describe today’s pending grass roots protests, rallies, and other actions against TPP, and explain what listeners can, and should, do today to protest as a critical ‘fast track’ legislation that is pending in Congress this coming week.

Listeners are encouraged for more information on where and how to participate in the fight against the TPP, to go to:

go.alfcio.org/fast-track-action  

stopfasttrack.com

globaltradeday.org

#stopfasttrack

or telephone 1-855-712-8441

Emmelle Israel is field Communications Representative for the western region of the AFL-CIO.  Kali Gochmanofsky is the Southern California regional organizer for CitizensTrade mobilizing against the TPP.

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Jack Rasmus interviews long time union representative, Jerry Gordon, and co-organizer of the upcoming Labor Fightback Network conference, to be held May 15-17, at Rutgers, New Brunswick, New Jersey. (For information on the conference, go to:  www.laborfightback.org/conference/  Gordon explains the objectives of the conference, where leading local union and community leaders from across the country are gathering to develop a plan of action for forthcoming labor-community struggles this summer—from the Carolinas’ fight against police violence with the People’s Organization for Progress, to union fightbacks against Koch brothers-financed right to work legislation in Ohio-Wisconsin, to support for the fight to stop the TPP and ‘fast track’, to defend against current efforts in Congress to make seniors pay more for Medicare, and other attacks on union workers benefits. Gordon explains the 3 objectives of the LFN and conference: 1. To get unions and community organizations to launch a ‘national mobilization’ in the streets to stop the attacks, to get local union and community leaders to initiate real independent political action (of the two parties) and run candidates outside the Democratic party, and to forge closer organizational ties between labor and social movements (like opposition to police brutality) now beginning to emerge nationwide.  Rasmus and Gordon discuss at length the recent status of developments like the ‘fast tracking’ of TPP free trade negotiations, the new emerging Koch-brothers funded right to work anti-union offensives forthcoming after Wisconsin and Indiana, cuts in Medicare in the pipeline in Washington, the bankruptcy of the two party system. Jack offers his view and explanation why Hillary Clinton’s coming Sunday, April 12, announcement that she’ll run for president will be followed by her attempt to co-opt Elizabeth Warren’s program, as she (Hillary) continues to gather tens of millions in campaign contributions from bankers and big businesses. Jack explains why, in the end, national union leaders will support her, with further disastrous long term results of unions and workers in the US.

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Dr. Jack Rasmus turns the focus of today’s show from the global economy to the USA economy specifically. Is the USA economy ‘exceptional’, i.e. growing robustly while the rest of the global economy slows or stagnates?  Rasmus explains that assumption of US Economic Exceptionalism is a myth.  The myth is based on US GDP growth last summer 2014 of 4-5% in GDP terms and the creation of more than 200,000 jobs a month throughout last year.  Rasmus looks at the data and economic forces behind the two arguments of exceptionalism—2014 GDP and jobs—to show the arguments were based on temporary factors which have already come to an end: GDP growth in fourth quarter 2014 already fell to 2.2%, and Rasmus predicts it will decline to well less than 1% GDP when first quarter 2015 GDP numbers are reported in May. Today’s latest jobs report for March is also a return to a sub-par 126,000 jobs created, when forecasts by economists were for 248,000.  Rasmus explains that 2014 temporary economic effects from manufacturing exports, government defense spending before elections, another business false inventory buildup, the shale industrial boom, and household retail and auto sales have dissipated in the past three months, with the result of the US economy returning to its longer term, below average, long term growth trajectory of 2% or less in GDP terms for the rest of 2015—i.e. more of the ‘stop-go’ scenario that has been the US case the past six years. First quarter GDP data, and lagging job data to come, will show US recovery has once again failed to ‘take off’. A scenario basicallyl no different than that for Japan and Europe (and now emerging markets that are sliding into recessions as well).  The USA economy is simply continuing to ‘stagnate’ at a 1%-1.7% long term growth level, while Europe and Japan stagnate and a lower growth level, Rasmus argues. There’s nothing at all ‘exceptional’ going on going on with this US economic scenario; just more of the same that has been occurring for six years—and not unlike the stop-go in Europe and Japan.

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Jack Rasmus and Alternative Visions show returns to air with new shows.  A two part show re-launches Alternative Visions today. In the first part, Jack interviews long time progressive activist, writer, journalist and educator, Michael Albert, of the ‘Z Collective’ to explain the new radical political online school being launched starting next week, called ‘Z School’. Z school is a new addition to the ‘Z’ media network consisting of ‘Z magazine’, ‘Znet’ global blog, and the recently established journalist reporting by Z writers for South America’s new tv network, ‘teleSUR’.   Albert explains how Z School works, providing online practical, progressive, political education classes by long-term seasoned activists from around the world for interested participants. Low cost, lower cost, and no cost classes are available.  If interested, more information on Z school, to start in April, is available by going to: https://zcomm.org/zschool/moodle .  In the second half of today’s show, Jack discusses examples of growing inter-capitalist competition globally, now beginning to assume new, more aggressive forms as US, European, Japan, and OPEC countries and capitalists are now beginning to embrace more aggressive forms of competition with each other, as the slowing global economy forces them into ‘beggar their (capitalist) neighbors’ in an ever-desperate seeking of fading economic growth.

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Jack Rasmus provides updates on the continuing negative effects of the Eurozone QE announced last month, the Greek Debt-Troika negotiations over the past week, and details on last week’s announced IMF-Ukraine bailout #2. In the first half hour, Jack describes how the Eurozone QE is intensifying currency wars and forcing other Euro countries into introducing negative interest rates, which will have major negative economic effects. Then an update on how the Greeks are succeeding to push the Troika closer to their (Greek) bargaining position, to provide them bridge loans and renegotiate the debt based on an ending of austerity. In the second half of the hour, Jack provides details on the 2nd IMF bailout deal for Ukraine also just announced this past week. How the bailout package has risen from $17.1 last April 2014 now to $40 billion—now approaching Jack’s forecast last April that Ukraine would need a minimum of $50 billion. Jack’s 2014 forecast of a collapse of Ukraine’s GDP of 10%, of its currency, and other indicators are now also realized. The second IMF bailout will not stop the decline of the Ukraine economy either, Jack argues.  The show concludes with an analysis of the ‘Grand Strategies’ of the USA, Germany-France, and Russia with regard to the Ukraine, the conflict over which has always been a proxy for a larger strategic fight between the USA and Russia, over the future of Europe it self and which way Europe will orient economically in the decades ahead.

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‘Jack Rasmus provides a recount of negotiations between Greece’s Syriza party and new government with northern Euro bankers, the ECB, and Euro Commission in Brussels during the past week.  What’s at stake for the Troika (ECB, IMF, and European Commission) in the current negotiations and why they are playing ‘hard ball’ during the first week of negotations.  Greek president, Tsipras and Greek finance minister, Yani Varoufakis’, tours of European capitals last week and the outcome of their meetings is discussed.  Tsipras’ modest successes talking to France and Italy politicians, Renzi and Holland. Varoufakis’ less than productive meetings with European Central Bank chair, Mario Draghi, on Feb. 4, and German finance minister, Wolfgang Schauebel on Feb. 5. Draghi’s refusal to continue providing ECB loans to Greek banks as a punishment for Greek refusal to simply extend the bailout program as is with austerity past Feb. 28. Schaubel’s refusal to agree to any changes.  Syriza’s strategy: lift austerity first and discuss debt over next several months; Troika strategy: continue austerity first, agree tp extend bailout, and then discuss changes—maybe. Potential for a run on Greek private banks if Greece’s central bank runs out of money to lend its banks. That will mean Greek exit, and unleash many unknowns for Greece, the Euro and Eurozone future. (Read Dr. Rasmus latest published article on the topic on the PRN website).  Next week: the ‘Dud’ (part 3 of ‘The Bomb, the Fuse, and the Dud’ series).  What’s the Dud? Tune in and find out on Feb. 14’s show.

Jack Rasmus continues the three part series (last week: the ECB’s QE ‘Bomb’), this week focusing on last week’s election of Greece’s Syriza party, which has promised the Euro ‘Troika’ (IMF, ECB, European Commission-SFSF Fund) forgive at least a third of Greece current 317 billion Euro debt. How is it that Greece ended up with 317b of debt? Why is 270b of that (85%) in hands of the public entities, i.e. the Troika, and only 15% held by private investors? How did Germany, Holland, and northern Euro banks benefit the most from creating the debt? And why have they been insisting on continued austerity, and therefore depression, in Greece? Jack explains how the origins of Greece’s debt lie in policies that followed the creation of the Euro currency union in 1999 and how that union specifically benefited the northern Europe economies at the expense of Greece and the rest of the Eurozone periphery. The arrangements, Jack explains, constitute  Eurozone’s version of Neoliberalism, a now failing caricature of the USA created global neoliberal policy answer to the crisis of the 1970s. The USA’s ‘twin deficits’  and global money capital circular flow neoliberal solution after 1980 was replicated in Europe on a smaller scale after 1999, but Eurozone neoliberalism began to fail after 2010, as Germany and northern Europe abandoned providing capital to Greece and the Eurozone periphery in favor of focusing on China and emerging markets after 2010. The residue left is unsustainable debt levels in Greece and elsewhere and the prospect of never ending austerity that ensures decades more of a debt driven depression in Greece.  The current negotiating positions of the northern Troika and banks vs. Greece’s new Syriza government are explained, and possible scenarios in coming weeks. Meanwhile the ‘fuse’ is lite in Greece for the Euro economy, as a 10 billion euro payment comes due in 90 days. Which side will ‘blink’? How will the standoff be resolved? Listen this week’s show for some possibilities to come. (Next week, part 3: ‘the Dud’)

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Jack Rasmus discusses yesterday’s big announcement of a massive $1.5 trillion Quantitative Easing (QE) money injection program by the European Central Bank, and its consequences for the Eurozone and global economy. After nearly $9 trillion in total QEs by US, UK, Japan and now the Eurozone, the global economy continues to slowly drift into recession and deflation. Claims by central banks and politicians that QEs are about growing the economy, lowering unemployment or raising inflation to a stable 2% are debunked as empirically false. QEs are about bailing out financial institutions and the new finance capital elite and then ballooning their balance sheets well beyond bailout as well. Jack explains the several flaws and consequences of QE: it doesn’t result in lending for real investment, leads to financial speculation and bubbles, accelerates incomes of super wealthy (via stock buybacks, dividend payouts, etc.), raises global private debt by business, reduces incomes of middle classes, sets off competitive devaluations and currency wars, leads to real goods deflation and financial asset market inflation (stocks, junk bonds, forex, etc.), and accelerates global income inequality trends. Jack explains the connections between QE and fiscal austerity policies. And represents a growing desperation by financial capital elites and their institutions to ensure growing incomes for themselves by artificial means (free money) and at the direct expense of incomes of the rest of society. The linkage of QE and ‘labor market reforms’ (attacks on wages) are noted.

 

(Next week’s show: Part 2 ‘the fuse’, the coming elections in Greece and ascendancy of the left party, Syriza. Will it mean the beginning of the end of neoliberalism and a fight back against QE, free money, and austerity?)

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