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Jack Rasmus reports on the final positions of the Greek government and the Troika (IMF, ECB, EC) as they enter negotiations this weekend, June 27-28, before the expiration of the current debt payments on June 30 and a possible default on the debt.  Jack reviews the most recent positions of the Greeks, provided last week in a comprehensive 11page document, which was rejected by the Troika on June 24 in toto, the failed negotiations at the highest levels on June 25-26, and the two sides’ demands as last minute negotiations occur June 27-28.  The highly class nature of the negotiations are noted—with pensions (deferred wages), sales taxation (impacting workers more), Troika opposition to tax the rich, and Troika demand for full privatizations.  The Troika’s emerging ‘Plan B’ is described (i.e. push Greece to default and maneuver a regime change) vs. the missing Greek ‘Plan B’ (establish a parallel currency to the Euro) are contrasted.  The five major negotiating errors that the Greek government has committed since March are described.  The most likely scenario to the final deal on June 30 is outlined—based on extending the negotiations for months more, Troika paying itself for debt with funds it has been denying Greece, in exchange for more concessions still from Greece.’ (Listeners are encouraged to listen to the Alternative Visions shows of the two preceding weeks as background to the current show.

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Dr. Jack Rasmus provides an update on Greek debt negotiations since last week’s Alternative Visions show and discussion on the origins of the Greek debt.  Updates include Troika scenarios outlined at its June 12 meeting in Bratislava, the IMF walkout after, the failed meetings that occurred in Brussels over the weekend of June 13-14, and Greece’s proposals of June 15 rejected again by the Troika. Also discussed are the sabotage of the Greek government negotiators by their own Greek Central Bank, which on June 17 publicly declared Greece should sign the Troika’s latest package; Greek prime minister, Tsipras’, warmly welcomed visit to Russia on the same day; and the failed meeting of June 18 of Euro finance ministers in Luxemburg at which it was expected Greece would concede to the Troika’s position but didn’t. Jack notes the growing statements by German and IMF representatives that a managed default and Greek exit is preferable to continuing Greece’s unresolvable debt crisis.  Were Greece to agree to the Troika’s position, and generate a $2-$3 billion a year surplus (by cutting spending and raising sales taxes) that it would take Greece 150 years to pay off the Troika debt. Greece cannot pay and cannot ‘grow out of’ the crisis, Rasmus argues. Rumors continue to grow that Greece may rearrange its cabinet, replacing hardliners with more amenable cabinet members should it agree to more Troika cuts in exchange for some debt restructuring.  The political and economic risks for both sides of continuing negotiations and of default are noted. Default is quite possible, Rasmus notes, but the most likely 60-40 scenario is some kind of more concessions by Greece for some kind of debt restructuring over the next 90 days, as the current extension is extended yet again.

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Jack Rasmus discusses the latest events of the past week in the Greek debt negotiations, with the IMF ‘walking out’ of negotiations and both sides, the Troika and Greece appearing to issue ultimatums as to what is unacceptable.  Three choices remain as negotiations come down to a June 30 deadline: either Greece defaults (fails to make payments due on June 30 to the IMF when the current extension of the debt agreement expires; the Troika (IMF, ECB, European Commission (finance ministers) continue to insist on a ‘take it or leave it’ position, or both parties—Greece and Troika—agree to extend both the agreement and debt payments due for another 30-60 days and continue negotiating.  Jack explains how the latter is most likely, but may not happen nonetheless. Consequences of a default for Greece, the Eurozone markets, and the global economy and banking system are considered. In the second half of the show, Jack explains in detail how Greek debt rose to its current $300 billion, unsustainable levels. The explanation is to be found in the US ‘twin deficits’ (trade and budget) policies introduced successfully by US capitalists and government in the early 1980s to resurrect the US economy and solidify its global hegemony once again after the crises of the 1970s.  Twin deficits were a key element of US neoliberal policies that have worked since 1980 to ensure US dominance.  With the creation of the Euro in 1999, northern European bankers and governments attempted to create a similar arrangement within the Eurozone. It worked until the 2008-09 crash, the second European recession of 2012, and the chronic slow growth ever since in Europe.  Greek (and Euro periphery) debt rose ever higher with each event, to its unsustainable levels today. Why the Euro ‘twin deficits’ neoliberal strategy failed. 

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Jack Rasmus invites seasoned political activists, Steve Early and Alan Benjamin, to discuss the strategic significance, pro and con, of Bernie Sanders’ recent announcement of his candidacy for US President and run in the Democratic Party primaries against Hillary Clinton. Both Steve and Alan go back to working with Sanders on campaigns in the 1970s when Sanders entered politics, and then spent 40 years in union and local progressive politics in Richmond and San Francisco, Calif. Steve and Alan take slightly different positions in offering qualified support to Sanders’ just announced presidential run. Commentaries by Steve, Alan, and Jack range from applauding Sanders for raising desperately needed new ideas re. income inequality, taxing the rich, minimum wage, money in politics, free trade, college tuition and debt. In supporting Sanders more directly,  Steve critiques the failed history of independent challenges from outside the Democratic party, from Jesse Jackson to Ralph Nader and the Green party. Alan provides a more qualified approval of Sanders’ ideas and issues he’s raising, but argues Sanders’ declared support for the eventual Democratic Party candidate (most likely Hillary) is a political dead end for working and middle classes, as recent history also shows. Jack argues independent candidacies—whether within the left wing of the Democratic Party or just outside it (Sanders strategy) have not changed anything for decades, as conditions have actually gotten worse as Democrats increasingly support Republican-Corporate positions on free trade, destruction of unions, attacks on public workers, money in politics, business tax cuts, etc.  All agree change must come from below, in real independent grass roots movements. Jack raises the question, if ‘inside and outside’ Democratic Party strategies have both failed, why haven’t grass roots movements come together to discuss new strategies and form new ‘bottom up’ challenges to the status quo.’

 

Steve Early is a retired, long time CWA union organizer and staff rep, who has been active in local Richmond, Calif., political organizing and fights against Chevron oil. He is author of the recent book, ‘Save Our Unions’, by Monthly Review Press.

 

Alan Benjamin, is a delegate to the San Francisco Central Labor Council, a member of OPEIU, editor of The Organizer progressive socialist newspaper, and a member of the executive committee of the Labor Fightback Network in the US.

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In the first half hour of the show, Jack Rasmus takes on the professional economics forecasting establishment  and their continual missed prognostications about the condition and direction of the US economy. Reviewing the most recent US economic data for March and April, revisions of US first quarter 2015 GDP estimates in late May show the US economy performed worse in the January-March period than the 0.2% GDP initial estimated growth rate. Jack discusses how new data on business inventories, trade, and retail sales will show a -0.5% or even worse in first quarter US GDP.  Data for March and April already show a continuing soft trend, with US retail sales flat, and sales of autos and big ticket items collapsing. Contrary to economists’ past predictions, gasoline price declines of the previous six months have had little positive economic effect. What forecasters blamed on ‘bad weather’ in the winter they now explain as a ‘bad habit’ of continuing not to spend in the spring. Jack rejects both ‘bad weather’ and ‘bad habit’ arguments as just ‘bad forecasting’.  The second half of the show addresses the growing likelihood that Britain will exit the European Union, now that Cameron and the Tories have just won a major re-election in Britain. What are the party and corporate interests within Britain in favor of ‘Brexit’? The likely responses of other Euro countries?  Jack predicts a UK exit vote in 2016, sooner rather than the official later 2017 planned referendum announced by Cameron and the Tories.  Also discussed are the likelihood of a Greek exit from the Eurozone. Jack predicts Greece will have to go through agreeing to a bad deal imposed on them this summer by the Troika of northern European bankers and elites, avoiding a default at great social cost to the Greek people, before Grexit is on the agenda. As the Greek economy slips back into depression in 2015-16, Grexit will grow as the only remaining alternative to end its depression. To prepare, Jack suggests Greece launch a second, parallel currency (New Drachma?) in the interim, and then pay Euro debt with an inflated new currency, offering the Troika to ‘take it or leave it’.

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Jack Rasmus updates last week’s show on the decline in US GDP with new data for trade, productivity and jobs, and reviews events of the global economy in Europe, China and elsewhere including the Euro and global bond market sell off of the past week.  A preview of his new book, ‘Systemic Fragility in the Global Economy’ due later this summer, is offered, describing the 9 key trends in the global economy today that represent the ‘dead cat bounce’ recovery: slowing real investment, drift toward deflation, explosion of central bank liquidity and credit, rising global corporate debt, the shift to speculative financial asset investing, the restructuring of financial and labor markets in the 21st century, and why central bank monetary policy and government fiscal policies are failing to generate a sustained real recovery of the global economy. How it is all resulting in rising global income inequality in turn.

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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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