Alternative Visions

Alternative Visions – US GDP Revisions + A Tale of Two Debt Deals-Greece & Ukraine – 08.28.15

August 28, 2015

Jack examines the big swing in the revised GDP figures for the 2nd quarter, and raises questions about the US Government’s ability to adjust for seasonality in the figures. How is it that every year for the past four years, the US economy (and GDP numbers) collapse to near zero or less in the winter and then surge above average in the spring-summer? Can it be just coincidence, occurring now four times? How reliable are GDP numbers, in the US and globally (China, India, Europe?). Jack then looks at the details of the recent revision, concluding that business inventories, net exports, and commercial building number swings have good reason to doubt the veracity or continuity of the numbers. In the second half of the show, the recent debt restructuring deals just concluded in Greece and Ukraine in recent weeks indicate a new kind of colonialism may be emerging in the periphery of Europe, where debt is used as the ‘product’ by the colonizers to extract wealth and an income stream from the ‘colony’ by means of financial asset transfer instead of direct low wage and low cost production of goods—as in the case of past forms of colonialism. Jack reviews in detail the recent Memorandum signed by Greece and the Troika, which not only reveals even more austerity but now a direct management of the Greek colony economy to ensure payments on the $400 billion plus debt continue to be made. Direct management is a new feature of the new ‘inside’ colonialism. Direct management is even more blatant in the case of the Ukraine deal, Jack explains, where former US and EU shadow bankers now run Ukraine’s economy on a day to day basis. Depressions will get worse in both countries and more debt restructurings are inevitable.

Alternative Visions – Global Stock Markets Plunge—What’s Next? – 08.21.15

August 25, 2015

Dr. Jack Rasmus looks at today’s, and this past week’s, plunge in global stock markets from Shanghai to New York and beyond. What’s driving the rout, which recorded nearly 10% drop in stock values in just one week? Jack explains the causes behind the stock bubbles’ rise before this summer, focusing on China’s 120% bubble in 2014-15, now sharply contracting by 35%, and the bubble in US stocks that have risen 180% since 2010, and are now about to follow China’s stock contraction. Europe and other Asian markets are following the China-US connection in turn. Jack explains how the stock bubble in the US has been a consequence of the US central bank pumping $15-$20 in excess liquidity into the economy since 2009 via its zero rate and QE programs. In China, the shift to a monetary first policy in 2013 has caused excess liquidity on a similar scale. China’s real economy has been slowing since 2012. To offset the slowdown, China policy makers focused on stimulating stocks for various reasons: to quell other bubbles in housing and industrial debt, to shift toward more private sector driven growth, and to attract more foreign money capital. How China lost control of its stock bubble is explained, as well as the failed attempts since June to control the stock collapse and restimulate its real economy. Jack predicts the troubles in the global economy are about to get even worse in coming months.’

Alternative Visions – Social Security’s 80th Birthday And Still Under Attack – 08.15.15

August 17, 2015

Jack Rasmus and guest, Eric Laursen, discuss the current condition of social security programs in the US today, on this month’s 80th anniversary of the passage of the social security law. A program which has immense popular support by Americans of all political persuasions is nonetheless still under attack, with plans by business and conservative forces to somehow privatize it and let Wall St. get their hands on the money to charge fees and interest. Jack explains how the privatization of defined benefit pension plans in the US since the 1980s and the ongoing privatization of health insurance have led to dual crises that will eventually explode in costs, loss of income, and great hardships. Social Security privatization would lead to the same. Jack and Eric discuss the different conditions of the various funds within social security—the retirement and disability funds, Medicare hospital and doctor coverage, and the prescription drug plan. Both explain how minor changes can ensure funding for all funds to the end of the century. Initiatives to expand social security to provide more benefits are also discussed.

Alternative Visions – Is the Global Economy Heading for Another Financial Crisis? – 08.08.15

August 8, 2015

Jack Rasmus follows up the previous show on the global economy with an assessment of financial instability that appears to be growing globally as well. Jack briefly discusses how excess debt and income decline and stagnation basically cause financial instability, and explains how the new 200,000 or so global finance capital elite continue to create financial asset bubbles worldwide and how those bubbles appear to be converging. Financial bubbles that appear most unstable include China’s stock markets (Shanghai and Schenzhen), but also global oil and commodity futures, emerging market equity and bond markets, US and global bond ETFs sold by mutual funds, the US and Euro corporate junk bond markets, tech stocks, Eurozone banks, and currency exchange markets that are becoming much more volatile. Also noted are potential serious secondary effects of a lack of liquidity in bond markets in general and effects on US repo markets in turn. The show concludes with a in-depth look at causes behind the current China stock market collapse which, Jack argues, has yet to run its full course and could destabilize financial markets worldwide in the near future. The role of China government policies in causing a runup of 120% in China stocks in just one year is explained, as well as government measures introduced since June 12 of this year to stop the stock slide.

Alternative Visions – Is the Global Economy Recovering or Slowing? – 07.25.15

July 25, 2015

To read the public and business press, it appears the US economy is about to accelerate, the Federal Reserve will soon raise interest rates, unemployment is at pre-recession lows, wages are about to rise, housing is recovering. Meanwhile, Europe is growing again now that the Greek crisis is resolved; China has stabilized its stock marke;, and the rest of the world is on a recovery path. But this public spin to the current US and global economic scene does not conform to reality. Jack Rasmus takes listeners on an ‘economic tour’ of the realities in the US and global real economy, where the US continues on a sub-par ‘stop go’ recovery, where China is really growing at 4-5% GDP, not the announced 7%, where China’s stock market collapse, begun in June, has only paused before another turn lower, where Europe QE is failing to generate a sustainable recovery and the ‘Greek Crisis’ is far from over, where Japan’s real economy has stalled (again for the fifth time since 2008), and where emerging markets from Indonesia to Brazil to Turkey are slowing and slipping into recessions. The global oil deflation is entering another decline, global commodities prices and sales are falling further, currency instability is rising, and money capital is flowing back to the US from everywhere, raising rates in the US and slowing economies elsewhere as the US dollar rises. (Next week: ‘Is the Global Economy Heading for Another Financial Crisis?

China’s Stock Market Falls, a New Global Financial Crisis Next? – Jack Rasmus

July 13, 2015

China’s two main stock markets, the Shanghai and the Shenzhen Exchanges, plunged more than 30% in recent weeks from their previous record highs of June 12. The Shanghai dropped 30%, and the tech-stock heavy Shenzhen by 37%. That’s the steepest stock decline in China since 1992. The markets briefly stabilized on July 9. But the question remains, will they continue their free fall again, as they had after several previous brief stabilization efforts since June 12? And what does it mean for China if they do? Or for the global economy in turn, given that China’s economy is at least as large as the USA’s and, by some measures, now larger? If the collapse resumes, does it signal the start of another global financial crisis? If the China stock market rout continues, it may likely spillover to China’s real economy and slow it still more than it has already. The contagion could spread to other financial markets in China—housing, local government debt, bonds and loans for industrial companies, all of which have recently continued to struggle with excess debt, speculation, and bubbles. The loss of $4 trillion in wealth so far will undoubtedly have an effect on consumer spending that

Alternative Visions – China’s Stock Bubble Bursts + Latest Greek Offer to the Troika – 07.11.15

July 11, 2015

On opposite ends of the world, two major financial instability events continue to emerge: China’s stock markets collapsing and Greece’s possible exit from the Eurozone. Both promise to produce significant contagion effects in the global economy, now already slowing. In the first half of the show, Jack reviews the latest Greek offer to the Troika delivered this past Thursday and compares it to prior Troika and Greek positions. The conclusion is Greece appears to have caved in to Troika concession demands in exchange for a ‘smoke and mirror’ restructuring of the Greek debt. If accepted, Jack argues, it will mean the Syriza government will eventually self-destruct—which has been the objective of the Troika from the very beginning. Traditional Euro social democracy (Greece’s proposals) is no longer acceptable to banker-investor governed Neoliberal Europe. Jack then takes a detailed look at the causes of the current freefall in China’s main stock markets and the possible consequences for China and the global economy. What’s behind the 150% rise in one year and now the collapse. Jack describes China’s latest emergency extreme measures being introduced to stem the fall, by injecting more de facto ‘QE’ money into the markets to stimulate stock buying again and introducing other extreme measures to stop stock selling. Likely potential contagion effects on China’s other markets (housing, local government debt, industrial debt) and its real economy are considered. Will China growth now slow further? What are consequences for the global financial system as contagion continues to spill over to other financial asset markets globally—stocks, bonds, commodities, currencies? Even more than Greece and the Eurozone, China’s markets collapse signal the global economy has moved one step further to another financial crisis event.

Alternative Visions – Greece’s Challenge to Euro Neoliberalism – 07.04.15

July 4, 2015

Jack Rasmus explains the northern Europe Neoliberal origins of the current Greek Debt crisis, and why the Troika cannot and will not accept Greece’s proposals which would upset the Euro-wide Neoliberal consensus. Greece’s proposals represent a return to traditional, pre-Neoliberal, European social democracy—which has been replaced with a new Neoliberal regime Europe-wide since 2000 with the creation of the Euro currency. Jack explains if the Troika agreed to Greece’s quite reasonable proposals, it would open a ‘pandora’s box’ that would undermine the Euro neoliberal regime and the Euro elites’ strategy for economic growth based on exports stimulus via QE plus labor cost reduction.  Ironically, allowing a Greek exit may destabilize Greece and the Eurozone in the longer run as well. Jack reviews the growing centrifugal forces within Europe that are building toward an eventual Europe breakup down the road: the inability to engineer a sustained economic recovery, the long run contagion effects from the Greek debt crisis, the Ukraine and sanctions against Russia, the massive immigration inflows into Europe from failed states in the middle east and Africa caused by US policies that Europe has joined as well, the rise of parties on the left and right in Europe advocating

Greek Debt Negotiations at 11th Hour – The Troika’s ‘Carrot and Stick’ By: Jack Rasmus

June 29, 2015

The weekend of June 27-28 marks the likely last comprehensive negotiating session between the Troika and the Greek government before the current extension of the debt agreement between Greece and the Troika formally expires on June 30, 2015.   As final negotiations come down to the wire, the class nature of the bargaining positions of the two parties is becoming increasingly clear. The Troika clearly wants Greek workers, pensioners, and small businesses to pay for any further debt deal, while the Syriza government desperately tries to have corporations and wealthy Greeks to pay more, and the Troika to absorb more of the costs of any restructuring of the debt.   Greece wants a solution that allows their economy to ‘grow out of’ the debt, while the Troika wants a continuation of spending cuts and tax hikes on workers, retirees and others—some now even more draconian than in the past—as the solution. Put another way, the Troika wants more austerity and economic stagnation, while Greece wants to lighten the burden of austerity in order to get some growth going.   Greece’s Latest Concessions   During the past week, bargaining has intensified between the parties. Earlier last week Greece offered new proposals

Alternative Visions – Greek Debt Final Negotiations This Weekend – 06.26.15

June 27, 2015

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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