“Capitalism’s War on the Earth”: The existential challenge of a moribund socio-economic system
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Labor / Economics
Stories about Labor and Economics.
Although the repo market is little known to most people, it is a $1-trillion-a-day credit machine, in which not just banks but hedge funds and other “shadow banks” borrow to finance their trades. Under the Federal Reserve Act, the central bank’s lending window is open only to licensed depository banks; but the Fed is now pouring billions of dollars into the repo (repurchase agreements) market, in effect making risk-free loans to speculators at less than 2%.
In fact, the political economist Eleanor Ostrom actually won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2009 for disproving the long-held belief known as the “tragedy of the commons,” a theory which held that resources held in common by communities would naturally be overused and depleted. Ostrom’s work demonstrated that this assumption is false, and that it is in fact very possible for resources to be managed collectively without privatization.
Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan called Paul Volcker “the most effective chairman in the history of the Federal Reserve.” But while Volcker, who passed away Dec. 8 at age 92, probably did have the greatest historical impact of any Fed chairman, his legacy is, at best, controversial.
For tens of thousands of years the Arctic’s carbon sink has been a powerful dynamic in functionality of the Earth System. However, that all-important functionality has been crippled and could be permanently severed. According to new research based upon field observations conducted from 2003 to 2017, a large-scale carbon emission shift in the Earth System has occurred.
‘Today is Cuban workers’ day!’ a Cuban friend told me in late June, beaming at the news that all employees of the island’s ‘budgeted’ state sector would receive significant salary rises, commencing from 1 July 2019. Cuba’s budgeted sector incorporates organisations and entities which operate with a state budget and mostly provide services free to the population without returning revenue to the state. This includes public health , education, culture and sport, public administration, community services, housing and defence.
Earlier this month, Pacific Gas & Electric, the investor-owned utility company that supplies power to much of California, cut off electricity to over 700,000 customers. The company argued that such a drastic measure — the largest planned power outage in the state’s history — was necessary to prevent wildfires.
Yet for some activists, this bleakly framed choice served as another reminder that investor-owned utility companies are not positioned to manage our energy futures, especially as climate change raises the stakes.
Conceding that their grip on the economy is slipping, central bankers are proposing a radical economic reset that would shift yet more power from government to themselves.
Most scientists, politicians, and business leaders tend to put their hope in technological progress. Regardless of ideology, there is a widespread expectation that new technologies will replace fossil fuels by harnessing renewable energy such as solar and wind. Many also trust that there will be technologies for removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and for “geoengineering” the Earth’s climate. The common denominator in these visions is the faith that we can save modern civilisation if we shift to new technologies. But “technology” is not a magic wand. It requires a lot of money, which means claims on labour and resources from other areas. We tend to forget this crucial fact.