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 Host Jack Rasmus interviews guest members of the Labor Fightback Network and their recent conference held in Cleveland. The Network is an organization of local union activists, elected officers, and select union representatives attempting to return the US union movement to a tradition of independent political action, progressive economic demands like ‘Medicare for All/Single Payer’, and labor community alliances. Jack interviews Alan Benjamin, a member of the LFN steering committee, on the program of the organization. A lively discussion follows on the need to resurrect the labor movement in the US, now at a nadir, and restore it to the role it once had.  Discussion ranged from new forms of independent political action occurring, movements for $15 minimum wage, single payer, efforts to draft Bernie Sanders as a candidate for a Peoples Party, the accelerating rise of membership in the Democratic Socialists of America, DSA, grass roots electoral efforts like the Richmond Alliance, and others.  Rasmus argues union resurrection in US history were always associated with new organizational forms—from the Knights of Labor to the AFofL to the industrial union CIO—and today a new organizational form of struggle will be required once again, not just the traditional union structure that remains. Benjamin differs and sees a resurrection and lead by the union movement itself. Both agree new resistance from below, led by young workers, is beginning to occur. (For more information on the Labor Fightback Network and its program, go to the website, http://laborfightback.org.

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 Multi-trillion dollar corporate and investor tax cuts by December have moved to the top of the Republican Congress-Trump legislative agenda. Dr. Rasmus puts the proposals in historical context, describing the corporate-investor tax cuts from Reagan through Clinton and GW Bush to Obama and now Trump. From the $750 billion Reagan bill in 1981-82 to Bush’s $3.7 trillion to Bush-Obama $480 billion in 2008-09 to Obama’s $1.245 trillion in 2010-12 and Obama’s continuation of the Bush tax cuts in 2013 for another decade that cost $5 trillion.  Corporate-investor tax cutting as an essential element of Neoliberal economic policy since 1978. How Congress alternates between nominal tax rate reduction and token tax loophole reduction, then raises nominal tax rates and expands tax loopholes.  How for 40 years the share of total taxes paid by corporations and wealthy household investors has declined, while the share of taxes for working and middle class has accelerated. The key elements of the Trump-Ryan tax proposals to date are reviewed.

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Dr. Rasmus initially comments on the continuing slowdown of prices and the Federal Reserve’s 9 year long phony targeting of 2% inflation.  Rasmus reviews his just published article in the European Financial Review, “The Limits of Central Banks’ Emerging Policy Shift” (available on his blog, jackrasmus.com) and what’s next after the Fed’s Jackson Hole gathering in late August. Next a comment on the Scaramucci appointment by Trump and the further deepening of Goldman Sachs influence over US policies, and evidence of a stock bubble growing in the US. Most of the show then focuses on data and reports debunking the official hype that wages are rising in the US: how Moody’s data since 2014 shows only 0.5% average wage increases, reports that show nearly half US households lack 3 months savings to pay bills and 57%-81% households of color have no savings at all, and how a recent report by MIT economists, “Fall of Labor Share and the Rise of Superstar Firms”, how productivity gains and super profits  by Tech and other companies aren’t being shared with workers. The show concludes with a critique of the Democratic Party’s just released “Better Deal” appeal to working class and middle class households introduced last week, with its great gaps on single payer, trade, jobs, and tax cuts proposals.

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Dr. Rasmus explains how the global capitalist economy crossed a kind of economic rubicon with the 2008-09 global crash and has not been able to restore itself to pre-crisis trends.  With 2008, the growth in global trade as a percent of global GDP hit a wall, stagnated after, and is now declining as a percent of global GDP which itself has been slowing.  Rasmus explains further how total investment has been shifting from real investment to financial asset markets, reflecting the continuing post-2008 financialization trend globally. Another post-2008 development noted is that central banks worldwide have had to step in to subsidize banks and the system since 2008 at a cost of $15 to $20 trillion.  Another trend is household real incomes and global productivity. How new corporate practices since 1980 have simultaneously driven down wages are noted.  Studies show 80% of household incomes in the US have stagnated or declined since 2008; 75% in Europe; and 70% in all advanced economies, according to McKinsey reports. Meanwhile, productivity has collapsed from long term 2% per year average to only 0.4% in US by 2014 and lower still. Rasmus raises the question: have ‘neoliberal’ policies—at the heart of which are free trade, central bank subsidization of capital, wage compression, and global financialization—thus now approach a limit?

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Dr. Rasmus explains how the advanced capitalist economies—US, UK, Europe, Japan—have made monetary policy and their central banks the ‘only game in town’ since 2008, and provided more than $20 trillion in virtually free money to their capitalist banking systems, in effect creating a permanent subsidization of the banks since 2008. Now the Fed and other central banks are attempting to reduce the free money a little by raising interest rates and selling off their $15 trillion plus balance sheets of accumulated prior bank bailouts. Rasmus argues that having continued too long with too low rates (8 years), central banks now face a ‘grand contradiction’: they cannot raise rates or sell off very much without precipitating another crisis. He predicts a 2% federal funds rate and 3% 10 year Treasury bond rate are likely the limits. That means central banks’ solution to the last crisis, and the permanent subsidization of the banks since 2008, has created the conditions for the next crisis. Rasmus explains how and why this permanent subsidization of the banks regime has come about, including the takeover of the central banks, and their governments’ economic institutions, by the big banks themselves. Goldman Sachs now runs US economic policy from the Treasury to the Fed (and Cohn will soon replace Yellen). Rasmus challenges Yellen’s view that falling US prices are ‘transitory’ and will soon rise, and the US economy is strong, despite collapsing bank lending, government tax revenues, and stagnant prices and real wages.

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Dr. Rasmus explains how the global capitalist economy entered a new phase of evolution with the 2008-09 global financial crash and recession, and how central banks have become the primary economic policy institution for the advanced economies.  Central banks have been transformed since 2008 from institutions designed to bail out the private banks in periods of crises, into institutions that permanently subsidize the capitalist banking system by means of constant, massive liquidity injections to the private banks, shadow banks, and their investors. About $15 trillion in central bank liquidity has been provided by means of QE alone, and capitalist banking has become addicted to, and chronically dependent upon, central banks’ free money. Rasmus notes corporate debt has not been removed but only transferred to central banks’ balance sheets, and the global financial and real economy remains fragile and in the late phase of a real growth cycles that are now ending.. Rasmus explains the ‘Great Contradiction’ of central bank monetary policy, as the only policy game in town, is that the subsidization of the banking system since 2008 is providing the conditions for the next financial crisis of that system. The 5 major themes of his just released book, ‘Central Bankers at the End of Their Ropes?: Monetary Policy and the Next Depression”, Clarity Press, July 2017, are reviewed. For more book information, go to: http://www.claritypress.com/RasmusIII.html

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Dr. Rasmus reviews key decisions by central banks this past week that are making investors nervous about stock and bond market bubbles that have been created since 2008. Heads of central banks in Europe—the ECB and Bank of England—this week signaled they too may raise interest rates and sell off their QE balance sheets—following the US Fed’s announcements of last week. Is the free money provided by central banks to private bankers and investors now coming to an end?  QE free money alone has amounted to $15 trillion since 2009—feeding the financial bubbles in stocks, bonds, currencies and derivatives. Pulling this ‘life support’ of free money from the banks—i.e. off the free money oxygen ventilator—has investors now nervous, Rasmus explains. An emerging ‘bond rout’ may be the tip of the financial iceberg. At the same time, the US Fed this past week also announced its annual phony bank stress tests and it will allow banks to reduce their capital safety cushions by accelerating bank dividend and stock buyback payouts to shareholders. US banks are projected to increase payouts to 100% of this year’s profits. (Chase to 110% and $27 billion). Bank stock prices surged driving US stocks higher into bubble territory. Will the bond rout spread? Will the stock bubble end?  Central banks now perform a new function of ‘permanent subsidization of private banks’ in the 21st. century, Rasmus explains.

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Dr. Rasmus continues the review of the Federal Reserve Bank, showing how the private banks today control the Fed more than ever in recent decades. How the Fed’s structure permits private banking interests to dominate strategic decisions of the central bank, and how there control of the Fed is about to deepen further under Trump. Jack explains how the expansion of Debt before 2008 was the source of the crisis, and how $50 trillion more debt has been added globally since 2009. Debt is the appearance of the crisis. Excess credit has enabled it but excess liquidity provided for decades by the Fed and other central banks is the source of the excess credit and debt.  How the Fed and other central banks contributed to the last financial crisis and have been creating the next. The explosion of central bank liquidity under Greenspan from 1986 to 2006 is detailed, leading to multiple financial bubbles and culminating in the 2008 financial crash. Jack previews the show with comments on ‘Donald the Trumpet’s claim he saved 1100 jobs at Carrier Corp, but facts show Carrier is sending 600 jobs to Mexico and automating away the rest in the US. How ‘The Trumpet’ claims of jobs in auto and mining also are false. (Next week: The Fed under Bernanke and Yellen).

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Dr. Rasmus reviews the Federal Reserve’s interest rate hike decision this past week, showing how the Fed’s justifications for the rate hike based on ‘data’ are contradictory. How the data show no hike was justified. Rasmus explains how the Fed has been manipulating reporting the data on prices, unemployment and wages in order to justify 8 years of zero rate borrowing by the banks—i.e. 7 years after the banks were fully bailed out in 2010. More than $15 trillion in virtually free money was provided by the Fed to bankers and investors since 2009 as a result. Rasmus also addresses the Fed’s announcement this past week to begin selling off its $4.5 trillion balance sheet, but explains that will be token and temporary. Rasmus predicts the Fed’s recent string of 3 rate hikes has reached its limit now that the US economy is weakening once again.  The second half of the show returns to the theme of ‘Central Banks at the End of Their Ropes’ and the origins of the Fed as a creation of the private banks, a corporation funded by and run by the private banks. (Next week: The Fed under Greenspan and Bernanke).

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In the first half of the show, Dr. Rasmus reviews key economic events of the past week, including the collapseof ‘Banco Popular’ bank in Europe and what it might mean in coming weeks to Europe’s fragile banking system, the emerging problems in Junk Bonds and the retail sector in the US, renewed falling oil prices, the US House passing the ‘Financial Choice Act’ and new bank deregulation, and Turmp’s phony ‘Infrastructure Week’ announced this past week and why ‘infrastructure’  really means privatization.  Rasmus then discusses the origins of the US central bank, the Federal Reserve, in 1913 and how central banks evolved out of private banks and still retain deep connections to private banking systems.  How the Federal Reserve originated from the Financial Crisis of 1907 and was developed by big New York banks as a way to capture control of a monopoly of a single currency, become the national ‘clearing house’ of all banks, and create an institution, the Fed, that would provide money to bail themselves out during periodic bank crises instead of having to bail themselves. Jack describes the early structure of the Fed, and how it was owned, financed, and directly controlled by the private banks, with the New York Fed operating as the ‘central bank of the central bank’. (Next Week: The Evolution of the Federal Reserve from the great depression to the crash of 2008).

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