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India’s Central Bank Cuts Policy Rate in Emergency Meeting, Warns of Muted Growth Due to COVID-19

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New Delhi (Sputnik): India has announced a $266 billion stimulus package to help the economy as part of its endeavour to enable the country sail through the COVID-19 crisis. The package was announced by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week.

India’s banking regulator, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), cut the key lending rate, the repo rate, on Friday to 4 percent from 4.40 percent. 

The decision is aimed at providing liquidity to businesses amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Announcing the policy rate decision, the central bank also addressed the pandemic’s grave impact on India’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth and warned that it may even turn negative. 

The macroeconomic impact of the pandemic is turning out to be more severe than earlier estimated and Indian growth may turn negative this year, said RBI chief Shaktikanta Das. 

“For the year as a whole, there is still heightened uncertainty about the duration of the pandemic and how long social distancing measures are likely to remain in place and consequently, downside risks to domestic growth remain significant,” said Das.

The inflation outlook is highly uncertain, the RBI warned. 

Apart from policy rates, the Indian banking regulator also extended the moratorium on term loans for a period of three months.

As a part of its COVID-19 relief to businesses, the RBI had announced a three month moratorium on term loans until May. This has now been extended through 31 August. 

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US Extends Policy to Immediately Reject Migrants at Southern Border Indefinitely – DHS

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EL PASO (Sputnik) – The United States has extended a policy indefinitely that permits US immigration enforcement to immediately return immigrants back to Mexico after being apprehended on the southern border, the Department of Homeland Security said in a statement.

“Today, the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention extended Title 42 public health restrictions at the borders until he determines the serious danger from COVID-19 has ceased,” the statement said on Tuesday.

Last week, US media reported that as of 21 March only two immigrants who entered through the southern US border have been granted refuge in the United States.

The Department of Homeland Security said in a separate document that the United States also extended its non-essential travel restrictions from Mexico into the United States at land ports of entry along the southern border to 22 June.

On 24 March, the United States closed the US-Mexico border to non-essential travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In April, US President Donald Trump issued an executive order last month to suspend immigration in the United States for at least 60 days, which will apply to those seeking permanent residency, in an effort to conserve jobs and medical resources for Americans in light of the pandemic.

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CNN Gives Gov. Cuomo A Pass On Disastrous NY Nursing Home Policy

You probably haven’t seen them (c’mon, who watches CNN), but every week, CNN host Chris Cuomo interviews his brother, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. They’re nauseating segments, with the two brothers claiming they make the best spaghetti or asserting that mom loved them most. Bleck.

But one thing Chris never does is get into his brother’s response to the coronavirus, which has been disastrous.

“While many are blaming Cuomo’s policies for the high death toll, one place you won’t hear any questions about it is on CNN, where experts point out the governor is instead lobbed softball questions during playful interviews with his younger brother, CNN anchor Chris Cuomo,” Fox News reports.

“The governor’s younger brother’s show on CNN has instead been the showcase for playful banter between the siblings. Governor Cuomo has been interviewed on CNN at least 19 times since March 8, with his younger brother conducting nine of them,” Fox says.

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Social media has taken note.

“Chris Cuomo just interviewed his brother, NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo on CNN. It was… interesting,” wrote one Twitterer.

    • This resembles an SNL skit, not news
    • Do CNN viewers trust him to cover his bro’s response to crisis objectively?
    • The sibling rivalry tension is PALPABLE
    • This is ridiculous

“CNN’s coverage of Andrew Cuomo has been consistent with much of the media, focus on the glowing verbiage and ignore the catastrophic mishandling of nursing homes that led to thousands of deaths,” Cornell Law School professor and media critic William A. Jacobson told Fox News.

“This problem is compounded by a serious conflict of interest arising from the relationship between Chris Cuomo, one of CNN’s highest-profile news personalities, and his brother the Governor,” Jacobson added. “Chris Cuomo should not be allowed to cover or comment on air about his brother, and CNN should appoint someone to monitor and review coverage of Andrew Cuomo to prevent this conflict of interest from bleeding over to other news coverage.”

If you’re a glutton for punishment, you can watch the clip below.

Here’s some stuff you won’t hear the brothers talking about.

New York state has the most coronavirus cases in the United States. There have been 27,169 COVID-19 deaths in the state, the fourth most populous in the U.S., with more than 19 million people. But California, the most populous state at nearly 40 million residents, has had just 2,789 deaths. Texas, second-most populous at about 29 million, has had only 1,121 deaths. And Florida, No. 3 on the list at 21 million and home to many elderly residents, comes in between the two, at 1,779 COVID-19 deaths.

In fact, New York has more deaths than the next five hardest-hit states combined, according to Johns Hopkins Center for System Science and Engineering.

New York state has also seen more nursing home deaths from the coronavirus than any other state. Why? The governor enacted a state directive that required nursing homes to take in any and all coronavirus patients, which then swept through the most vulnerable population.

“New York has seen over 5,300 coronavirus-related deaths in nursing homes, which is about one-fifth of the nation’s total of nursing home deaths (about 26,000). The Associated Press reports an average of 20 to 25 nursing home deaths per day in the state of New York,” the AP wrote last week.

“Gov. Cuomo recently reversed a March 25 order that forced nursing homes to accept patients who tested positive for coronavirus despite testing deficiencies for both residents and staff,” Fox reports. “Cuomo signed an executive order on May 11 stopping hospitals from sending infected patients back to nursing homes and ramping up testing for staff.”

Maybe the two can cover that topic on the next episode of the Chris & Andrew Happytime Talk Show.



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NYC Mayor de Blasio Argues His Sanctuary City Policy Is Legal and Constitutional …WTH? (VIDEO)

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio joined Maria Bartiromo on Sunday Morning Futures this morning.

The New York City Mayor is asking President Trump for $7 billion to bail out his city following years of failed far left policy and the recent coronavirus pandemic.

During the discussion Maria Bartiromo asked Comrade de Blasio about New York City’s illegal sanctuary city policies.

De Blasio argued his sanctuary city policies are “Constitutional.”
Wow.

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Mayor de Blasio: We follow the rule of law in this city and we respect the fact that there is a half-a-million people here who happen to be undocumented. And the US Supreme Court said in 2012 that the federal government does not have in a federal system that respects states and localities, does not have the ability because of its own policy preferences to penalize cities that are trying to provide security and safety. You know the funding that the funding the president originally threatened was for the NYPD and the terrorism efforts… So we’re going to stick with our policies that the Constitution protects. And we’re going to serve our people and create a place that is safe for everyone.

It is well documented that sanctuary city laws are unconstitutional.
De Blasio was just pushing his normal BS.

Via Sunday Morning Futures:

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‘High-Speed Car Crash’: Lib Dem Review Blames 2019 Election Disaster on ‘Stop Brexit’ Policy

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While the writings were on the wall for a long time that the party’s policy of unilaterally binning Brexit was irredeemably unpopular, the leadership continued to push for it, eventually suffering the harsh electoral consequences.

The December 2019 Liberal Democrat election campaign which called for the abandoning of Brexit was akin to a “high-speed car crash,” according to a new internal party report.

The 61-page damage assessment, led by Lib Dem peer Dorothy Thornhill, argues that the fiercely anti-Brexit party leader, Jo Swinson, and a band of ideologically committed close aides, “alienated large chunks of the population” because of their pledge to cancel Brexit.

The report damningly concludes that beyond the policy of revoking Brexit – despite 52% of the electorate democratically voting for it in a 2016 referendum – other party policies struggled to translate to the masses.

“Beyond stopping Brexit,” the authors say, “there was no overarching offer of the country we wanted to create that would appeal to the electorate at large.”

The December 2019 election then ended in “disaster” for the party, returning to the House of Commons with just 11 seats despite having 20 MPs beforehand following high-profile defections from the Labour and Conservative parties. Miss Swinson, despite advertising herself as a Prime Minister in waiting, lost her East Dunbartonshire seat to the Scottish National Party.

The report, which was based in part on almost 21,000 survey responses from Lib Dem party members and officials, also said that Swinson’s continued promise to ditch Brexit if the party secured a parliamentary majority meant that it “effectively ignored” what made up the largest demographic among UK voters: those who were neither hardcore Brexiteers or Remainers, and in fact even alienated people among Remain constituency who did not agree with canceling a democratic vote. 

Moreover, the report suggests, the party was almost blinded by its own enthusiasm for then-new leader Jo Swinson – elected in July 2019 – and her chances of becoming Prime Minister, which as a result, meant that it took a “high stakes gamble” by agreeing to a general election at the time of Boris Johnson’s choosing.

The authors say that it was “wishful thinking” for the party to believe that their own high level of confidence in Miss Swinson would be shared by the electorate. The idea “appeared unrealistic to the wider public, especially given that we were already falling in the polls.”

The memo also points to “structural problems” as accounting for their disastrous election result. Following her election as Lib Dem leader, Miss Swinson created “an ‘inner circle’ of advisers at arm’s length from the resources of the party machine, and put decision making in the hands of an unaccountable group around the leader.”

The report adds that the party also failed to appeal widely to black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) voters who could have made a big difference in many London voting constituencies.

“We adopted a bunker mentality, sticking rigidly to a single course of action despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Nobody intended it to be how it was, but the outcome was catastrophic. We were poor performers in an election which we helped to call, and in which poor planning, leadership and decision making compounded to give us such a poor result.”

The party’s current leader, Ed Davey, described the findings as “a raw & powerful document” in a series of Tweets, despite being an advocate for many of Swinson’s policies himself – including stopping Brexit. 



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Food Sovereignty Policy Prevents Hunger In Nicaragua

Food Sovereignty Policy Prevents Hunger In Nicaragua

Food Sovereignty Policy Prevents Hunger In Nicaragua2020-05-14PopularResistance.Orghttps://popularresistance-uploads.s3.amazonaws.com/uploads/2020/05/nicar-food-800×445-e1589481244184.jpg200px200px

Managua, Nicaragua – I think when many of us look at the world today we feel like we’re watching a science fiction movie: 22 million officially unemployed in the U.S. while analysts say the true figure may be double that[1],; predictions of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s; and lines up to 15-hours-long where they are giving away food[2].

In Ecuador, they give the families of people who die from COVID-19 cardboard coffins[3], while other victims’ bodies lie in the streets or people’s homes with no one to collect them[4]. In Brazil[5], Colombia[6], and El Salvador[7] the pots-and-pans protests and demonstrations continue, despite the curfew and militarization because they closed the borders while domestic food production was insufficient, which caused food shortages that raised prices. Hunger has come to the homes and stomachs of the poor.

The World Food Program estimates that in addition to the 820 million people already going hungry in the world, 135 million more will suffer acute food insecurity as a preliminary impact of the health crisis. The main victims are women, infants, and children (UN, 2020). This in turn has major repercussions on health, nutrition, and humanitarian aid, causing larger flows of forced migration, displacement, violence, and social conflict.

In Latin America and the Caribbean there are already 19 million more people suffering from hunger and 37.71 million unemployed. “Model” countries such as the United States and its lackeys in Latin America are now paying the price for shrinking the State, cruelly privatizing basic services (particularly public health), and abandoning small farmers. Meanwhile, the countries continuously demonized as the “Troika of Tyranny,” Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua, are demonstrating their moral superiority and capacity to effectively manage the crisis based on the strengths they have built in the public sector and with more organized and socially conscious societies, disciplined to work for the common good.

This once again reveals the lies, shamelessness, and cynicism of the hegemonic media that are concealing the truth: imperialism in all forms is not only bad, but its worldview continuously fails.

How are we doing in our besieged, slandered, and sanctioned Nicaragua?

I grew up in a Nicaragua that always appeared in public discourse as an object of pity. Its hand stretched out for charity in response to the hunger, extreme poverty, and pain afflicting our people. This was even worse in times of international crisis, such as the disaster created by Hurricane Mitch. I remember it as though it were yesterday. In the public schools, we children would get in line to receive a teaspoon of powdered milk wrapped in a sheet of notebook paper, and see some of our little classmates faint from hunger or simply be unable to pay attention or play outside. Our desk chairs, on which we had to make ourselves comfortable, were made from cement paving stones. And if you got sick, you were out of luck because there was no place to go for medical assistance. Not to mention the shoot-outs and nightly battles we heard between the “Come Muertos” and the “Galleros”—the two youth gangs in my neighborhood made up of ill-fed, barefoot boys.

Nowadays, Nicaragua is no longer on maps depicting the tragedy of extreme hunger or hopeless violence like its neighbors Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. However, this fact is deliberately hidden by the corporate media.

Nicaragua is facing a fierce international smear campaign, with lie upon lie told in the world press, while a completely different situation is experienced within the country. In the context of COVID-19, families feel more economic pressure due to the indirect impacts on our open and capitalist economy, but there are also signs of a sense of normalcy, peace, and calm.

Many Latin American countries rushed to impose lockdowns with draconian, but inconsistent, measures: closing working class markets and small businesses, while international supermarket chains remain open in a display of unfair competition[8] which causes tremendous losses for small producers, merchants, and distributors. In contrast, Nicaragua did not “cut and paste” such policies to handle the health situation. Rather, its approach has been wise, measured, tailored to our context and reality, and appropriate for the number of cases. The focus has been on protecting the peasant and popular economy and the lives of most of the Nicaragua people who live off of it. This is an example of Mariátegui’s maxim: the revolution in Latin American should not be “a copy or imitation… it should be a heroic creation.” To each unique problem, a unique solution.

These decisions are backed by tangible and intangible achievements over 14 years of significant progress in promoting human dignity. This is particularly true for healthcare, with more hospital coverage, diversity and trained personnel. It is also true of education, security, production, and the building of roads in rural areas. And it is sustained by the confidence, tenacity, and daily sacrifice of thousands of Nicaraguan families that struggle on a daily basis to uphold the popular economy. It is sustained by the strength of the community health brigades in which the population merges with the government. And it is sustained by the hundreds of thousands of families of small and medium-sized farmers who are a bastion of production, producing around 80% of the food we Nicaraguans eat[9] .

Today, thanks to our peasant families and the public policies of the Sandinista government, Nicaragua is no longer on the hunger map. Instead, we are well on the way to food sovereignty because our food production is local and it is distributed in small clusters—even more true if one considers the size of the country. For this reason, there is enough food in Nicaragua at this difficult time, and prices have remained stable or fallen slightly.

The country’s peasant culture, and its talent and capacity to work in harmony with the earth, ensures that the words of President Daniel Ortega last month will remain true: “We will not die of hunger.” The first round of planting is about to start and farm families are lovingly preparing for it. They are getting their seeds ready, putting yokes on the ox teams, and just waiting for the first downpours, the aroma of damp earth, and a good moon to sow the sacred seeds of corn, rice, and beans that will ensure our resistance as a people once again.

Yorlis Gabriela Luna Delgado – Mathematician, popular educator, agroecologist, and researcher. PhD candidate in Ecology and Sustainable Development at the Colegio de la Frontera Sur, ECOSUR, Mexico.

Translation from original version in Spanish, by Jill Clark-Gollub, Assistant Editor/Translator at COHA

Edited by Patricio Zamorano, Co-Director of COHA

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‘No Coherence’: Hawkish US Think Tank Blasts Pentagon’s Lack of Arctic Policy

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Academics at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a hawkish Washington, DC, think tank with heavy influence over US foreign policy, have criticized the paucity of the Pentagon’s Arctic policy, where it ostensibly aims to challenge growing Russian and Chinese presence as global warming opens the region’s icy sea lanes.

With Arctic sea routes expected to become ice-free in summertime as early as the 2040s, nations are rushing to position themselves to maximally benefit from the newly available sea lanes. However, for policy wonks at think tanks like CSIS, US policy toward changing circumstances in the region has been largely reactive and lacks depth.

‘US Does Not Know What It Wants’

“There’s no coherence to it,” Heather Conley, CSIS’ senior vice president for Europe, Eurasia and the Arctic, told the Washington Times on Monday about the US Arctic policy. “Our strategy ends up being a description of what Russia and China are doing in the Arctic because we are not really able to articulate what we are doing in the Arctic.”

“The US does not know what it wants. It does not know what it wants to accomplish. It does not have a positive policy agenda. And the problem is our adversaries know what they want. The strategy is just reacting to what they can do,” Conley told the paper.

In a May 2019 paper for CSIS, Conley blasted “stagnation” on the matter by both the Obama and Trump administrations, noting “the United States ‘makes do’ by ‘making it work’” with other nations in the region.


©
RIA Novosti .

Arctic Ice Melting

“Years of underinvestment now leaves the United States ill-prepared as other nations prioritize the region as one of future geostrategic value,” she stated, noting as one example the 800-mile distance between the strategically important Bering Strait waterway and the closest US deep water port, Dutch Harbor, in the Aleutian Islands chain.

“To date, the United States does not have a meaningful policy response to either Russia’s or China’s increased economic and military ambitions in the region,” Conley wrote. “For now, Washington is acknowledging Russia and China’s growing footprint in the Arctic, but it is allowing both nations to largely shape the region’s future. With the exception of the construction of a polar security cutter, there are no other significant infrastructure initiatives on the horizon.”

Pentagon Attacks Russia’s Claims

The Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy handed Congress its Arctic Strategy report in June of last year, in which it elaborated what policy it does have toward the region.

Curiously, while the report attacks Russia as “claim[ing] the right to regulate Arctic waters in excess of the authority permitted under international law,” the Pentagon levels the same criticism at US ally Canada.

“Russia views itself as a polar great power and is the largest Arctic nation by landmass, population, and military presence above the Arctic Circle,” the Pentagon report states. “Russia’s commercial investments in the Arctic region have been matched by continued defense investments and activities that strengthen both its territorial defense and its ability to control” the Northern Sea Route. The report notes increased Russian defense efforts in the region, including refurbishing old airfields and establishing “a network of air defense and coastal missile systems.”

“China’s operational presence in the Arctic is more limited. It includes China’s icebreaking vessels, the Xuelong and newly-constructed Xuelong 2, and civilian research efforts, which could support a strengthened, future Chinese military presence in the Arctic Ocean, potentially including deployment of submarines to the region,” the report states.


©
AFP 2020 / STR

Man taking a photo of Chinese icebreaker Xuelong, literally “snow dragon” (File)

Russia’s interest in the Arctic comes as little surprise: it has 15,000 miles of Arctic coastline, according to Russia’s Arctic Institute. China, however, is at least 900 miles from the Arctic Circle at the country’s northernmost point – even longer if the trip is by sea – and has little in the way of economic investment in the region, which is mostly closed to fishing.

‘A Polar Silk Road’

China spelled out its entitlement to the region, despite not having an Arctic shoreline, in a January 2018 white paper.

“China is an important stakeholder in Arctic affairs,” the State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China white paper stated. “Geographically, China is a ‘Near-Arctic State,’ one of the continental States that are closest to the Arctic Circle. The natural conditions of the Arctic and their changes have a direct impact on China’s climate system and ecological environment, and, in turn, on its economic interests in agriculture, forestry, fishery, marine industry and other sectors.”

However, the report states the Belt and Road Initiative, an increasingly expansive infrastructure network across Eurasia, Africa, the Pacific and even Europe, “will bring opportunities for parties concerned to jointly build a ‘Polar Silk Road,’ and facilitate connectivity and sustainable economic and social development of the Arctic.”

US, UK Navies Drill in Barents Sea

However, just four days ago, the US Navy and British Royal Navy dispatched warships to the Barents Sea, a waterway north of Norway that forms Russia’s primary northern gateway to the Atlantic Ocean, for the first time since the 1980s.


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Sputnik / The Norwegian Armed Forces

Battlecruiser Pyotr Velikiy

Four destroyers, accompanied by a P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft and an RC-135 Rivet Joint reconnaissance aircraft, performed their own drills in the area for a week while Russia’s Northern Fleet performed its own drills nearby, Sputnik reported.

“The Arctic is an important region and our naval forces operate there, including the Barents Sea, to ensure the security of commerce and demonstrate freedom of navigation in that complex environment,” US Adm. James G. Foggo III, commander of Naval Forces Europe and Africa, said in a May 8 news release by the US Navy. “Our operations with the UK demonstrate the strength, flexibility, and commitment of the NATO Alliance to freedom of navigation throughout the Arctic and all European waters.”

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Initial Reflections On ‘Debt Jubilee’, MMT, And Limits Of Monetary Policy

Initial Reflections On ‘Debt Jubilee’, MMT, And Limits Of Monetary Policy

Initial Reflections On ‘Debt Jubilee’, MMT, And Limits Of Monetary Policy2020-05-09PopularResistance.Orghttps://popularresistance-uploads.s3.amazonaws.com/uploads/2020/05/fed-1-e1589039877971.jpg200px200px

Above photo: End the Fed rally in San Francisco.

One of the readers of this blog recently asked me my views on topics such as the call by some left economists for a general debt forgiveness (Debt Jubilee), on Modern Money Theory (MMT or sometimes referred to as ‘Magical Money Tree’), and the Federal Reserve bank (central bank) pre-emptive bailouts of banks and non-banks underway and whether the latter will succeed in generating an economic recovery from the current deep Coronaviral impacted US economy. What follows are some of my quick reflections and commentary on these topics.

My views on monetary policy are somewhat summarized by the argument that in the current era of finance capitalism dominance, monetary policy has been the first and foremost choice of capitalist governments and policymakers. Push the bailout (and normal times economic stimulus as well) through the central banks and into the private banking system. The latter then distribute the money injection to the non-banks and financial investors of their preference. What trickles down to the wage earners, consumers and households is a residual in terms of income. Fiscal policy in terms of taxation is focused on business-investor tax-cutting and on expanding government fiscal spending on corporate subsidies. Deficits that remain are financed by global purchases of US Treasuries as the money capital is recycled back to the US from offshore where it accumulates due to US trade deficits with the rest of the world. Industrial policy is to compress real wages, weaken or destroy unions, incrementally shift the cost of benefits to workers, and deregulate and privatize what remains of public works and public goods. Monetary policy is designed to keep interest rates low and ensure a low dollar exchange rate to maximize US multinational corporations offshore repatriation of foreign profits into the maximum amount of US dollars.

In the 21st century both monetary and fiscal policy are about subsidizing capital, especially finance capital, and less and less about stabilizing or stimulating the economy. (See my recent book, The Scourge of Neoliberalism: US Economic Policy from Reagan to Trump’, Clarity Press, January 2020, for more of this argument in detail)

As a result of this view, needless to say, I am not a big fan of capitalist central bank monetary policy. Nor of monetary policy in general, since it has always been about subsidizing and/or bailing out finance capital. Debt is a means by which financial assets are subsidized as well. Money and Debt are thus central to maintaining the current 21st century capitalist system which requires excessive money injections (liquidity) and corresponding Debt accumulation as means to further expand capitalist wealth. Since it is central, I argue that capitalists and their governments will not entertain either a ‘debt jubilee’, and MMT is a theory that attempts to invert capitalist monetary policy and employ it for fiscal income redistribution to workers, consumers and households; thus that too is a contradiction to the system and would not be allowed. In short, both a Debt Jubilee or MMT require a virtual political revolution first before they could ever be introduced. The advocates of both Jubilee and MMT are politically naive to advocate solutions that cannot be introduced in the era of 21st century global finance capital hegemony. They are impossible ‘reforms’ of the system without a fundamental political change that drives capitalist interests from the sources of institutional government and state power.

Reader’s Questions:

My questions for you (Jack) are about the ‘Magical Money Tree’ (i.e. MMT, my italics). Does it exist? Can the Fed create money to pay for whatever it decided was necessary for the economy? If the decision was to pay off all student debt, could the Fed do so? If so, who gets stuck with the bill. Could there be a complete debt repayment for personal debts and corporate debts? If there is not a Magical Money Tree could one be created? If so, how? What if the government took back the constitutional power to create money and a new Greenback-era developed?

My Comments in Reply:

This is the old Modern Money Theory hypothesis, renamed ‘Magical Money Tree’. It assumes that monetary policy, as money creation, can stimulate economic growth. MMT is just QE flipped on its head. Instead of the Fed bailing out corporations and capitalists only (per its mandate) it can be used to bail out the rest of us. But there are limits to monetary solutions to a crisis, whether QE or a public interest QE that would transform the Fed into a kind of public bank. The problem with MMT is it is politically naïve. To create a Fed as Public Bank it will take a political revolution. The banks and investors behind the Fed (they’ve controlled it ever since 1913) won’t allow that without a political fight that changes the nature of the capitalist system itself.

Beyond that, the problem with monetary solutions is that it holds that the redirecting the money supply is sufficient. It ignores the role of money demand and money velocity. You can provide all the money supply you want by creating money electronically, as the Fed does, but that doesn’t mean there’ll be the demand for money or that money demanded will eventually be used for investment, employment, and real growth. In times of deep crisis like this, much of the money supply might be ‘borrowed’ but will be hoarded, redirected offshore, distributed to shareholders, or invested in financial assets that are more profitable but produce no real growth.

Can debt be ‘expunged’? Yes, but all the talk of debt jubilee is again political naivete. Why? Because it means the finance capitalists that ultimately ‘own’ the debt will not just take a haircut but will have their heads shaved at the neck. They will resort to any undemocratic violent response necessary with the help of their politicians to stop it. All private debt forms, including credit card debt, auto debt, mortgage debt, revolving debt, and private bank provided student debt are owned by big capitalist investors. Debt forgiveness means their assets would collapse to zero. What about public held debt? US government, government held student debt, fannie mae-freddie mac government held mortgage debt, state-local government debt? While that could technically be expunged since the government (taxpayers & citizens) own it, to do so would cause a collapse of private debt markets’ price values and, in turn, mean a major loss of asset values for capitalist investors. So the latter resist that as well. A progressive government might be able to introduce a staged reduction in student debt. Or as I have argued, stretch out the 10 yr. normal term of student debt to 30 yrs and reduce the rate of interest to no more than that for the 30 yr. Treasury bond, or forgive one tenth of the principal per yr. over ten years for all student debt holders. That might pass but not with the Neoliberal governments we’ve had. Again the concern of capitalists is that even student debt expunging will have a negative impact on the values of other assets held by the capitalists.

What about relief from rents and mortgages.? Same story here. Who puts up the money capital for multi-family apartments, and for both residential and commercial property mortgages? It’s the rich private investors and their financial institutions (hedge funds, private equity, etc.). They take major losses if there’s a rent or mortgage forgiveness. A moratorium for rent and mortgages is different. It just means they move the payments to the back of the term of the debt payment schedule. On paper it doesn’t change the value of their assets significantly. But forgive it, or expunge it, and it destroys their values.

The current crisis has only just begun, both in health terms and economic. The virus is a precipitating causal force, not the fundamental driver of the current crisis–which is still unfolding both in health effect terms and independent dynamics of economic contraction. There will be a second virus wave, likely worse than the first which always happens in these severe pandemics. The present reopening of the economy by Trump and business interests behind him demanding it will exacerbate the contraction in a second wave, moreover. It’s certainly not a V shape recovery; it will be more like a ‘W’ shape, with successive contractions after short shallow recoveries. And if defaults lead to general bankruptcies it will mean a financial crisis at some point that will exacerbate the contraction still deeper.

And there’ll be no re-shutdown once a second viral wave happens, later this year most likely. Trump and broad sections of the capitalist class have already decided that they’ll accept the death toll and stay open throughout the second wave. (and the third, which also historically follows about 6-12 months later).

That’s been the pattern with the 1918 and 1958 pandemics. The second wave is always the worst.

Ditto for the economy. In other words, there are forces economic released that are now independent of the health effect, although the latter will also continue to wreck havoc economically. The massive $9T Fed-Treasury liquidity injection (so far, more coming) should be understood as a pre-emptive bank and non-bank bailout. Massive defaults are coming, already spreading from oil, energy and retail sectors, eventually to other service sectors and state and local governments. The bailouts are designed to flood the banks with liquidity and the contain the defaults in the nonbank sectors. But once again, massive liquidity as money supply injection may slow down or even prevent some insolvency crises (i.e. defaults and bankruptcies) but that doesn’t mean stimulate economic investment and recovery. Once again, money solutions don’t necessarily result in boosting the real economy, and that means jobs, and wage incomes that will collapse. Most of the liquidity will be hoarded on balance sheets or to make minimal payments on debt. It won’t go into real investment that generates real jobs, wages, consumption, and recovery.

Can the government, using MMT, engage in direct spending to restore the economy? Technically yes. But that kind of Treasury provided funding will add to the government debt at a time when business and capitalists are demanding more funds (and debt) for them (i.e. raise the government debt to bail them out). So there’s a competition for who gets bailed out. Who do you think in the current Neoliberal era is going to get funded then: capitalists or consumers/households/workers? Corporations will come first, as we’ve seen in the bailouts of the last couple months: Trillions in loans and grants (mostly grants in the end since loans will be converted and forgiven eventually for businesses) for them vs. just $500b for workers. And there’ll be no more for extended unemployment benefits after July or supplemental income checks of $1200 forthcoming. That’s it. Go back to work and die. And if you’re on unemployment benefits now, if you don’t return to work you lose them.

The Fed ‘money tree’ is backed by US Treasury bonds sales. And those bonds add to the federal government debt. The Fed doesn’t simply create an electronic entry in its accounts from which banks and capitalists can withdraw funds. US Treasuries are created to allow the Fed to make those entries. And that adds to the government debt. You could have the US Treasury to perform the function of the Fed, as was the case before 1913. But the function remains the same, whether carried out by the Fed or by the US Treasury-Government. The Treasury was the Fed before 1913. So the problems of excess debt to bail out capitalism will continue even if the US Treasury took back the money supply creation function. Nothing really changes. The choice will always remain: create Treasury bonds for spending (or lending to banks, non-banks) for whom? Finance capitalists (bankers)? Non-bank capitalists? (airlines, oil frackers, etc.). Or consumers and workers? It again comes down to a political issue and whether the capitalist State will bail out capitalists or us. And who pays their politicians? So guess who they’ll bail first and foremost?

The Fed was created so that the politicians would not have to bail out the bankers and capitalists directly, by raising taxes. The bailouts funnel through the Fed, funded still however by T-bonds, which add to the national debt. How high can the US debt rise? It’s now well above 100% of annual GDP. But Japan’s is over 200%.

The US government is creating the money supply, but indirectly: by using T bonds to fund the Fed who injects liquidity into the banks (and now non-banks too). To say let’s get rid of the Fed as an intermediary and use the Treasury itself only changes the structure but not the actual process. The Fed now in effect transfers the private capitalist debt on to its own balance sheet each time it bails out the banks and corps now. The Treasury would do the same without the Fed. But that would pose a political problem for the politicians with the electorate, so they prefer an intermediary like the Fed, central bank, to do it so folks don’t understand what’s really going on. Simply put, the government ultimately bails out the banks and capitalists. So ending the Fed and giving money creation back to the Treasury changes nothing but the appearances!

MMT simply creates the fiction that somehow, if the Fed or Treasury could directly fund social spending, that the liquidity injection to households could stimulate the economic recovery.

To sum up my view: it doesn’t matter if it’s the Fed or Treasury. Pure monetary solutions don’t work well in a deep contraction and crisis. Liquidity injections get hoarded not invested. And they don’t stop, only maybe slow, insolvency crises (defaults, bankruptcies). And what we have today is a Fed massive liquidity injection trying to hold off a general insolvency crisis. I predict it will fail. What we’ll need is another even larger ‘New Deal’ direct government spending, including government hiring (per WPA). But you don’t need an MMT program for that. You don’t need a Fed. The Fed is there to provide cover for the politicians and capitalist State so they don’t appear directly responsible for bailing out bankers and capitalists to the electorate. (Check out my 2017 book, ‘Central Bankers at the End of Their Ropes: Monetary Policy and the Coming Depression’ for more on the limits of monetary policy in general).

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The Violence Of Non-Violence: Canadian Sanctions Policy In Times Of Covid-19

The Violence Of Non-Violence: Canadian Sanctions Policy In Times Of Covid-19

The Violence Of Non-Violence: Canadian Sanctions Policy In Times Of Covid-192020-05-08PopularResistance.Orghttps://popularresistance-uploads.s3.amazonaws.com/uploads/2020/05/nonviolence-statute-of-gun-e1588958319265.jpeg200px200px

Both at its birth, and later in the paradigmatic Alma Ata declaration, the WHO established a human right to health which required not only access to health care but the satisfaction of a broad range of human needs, such as appropriate nutrition, adequate housing, and personal safety. Decades later the notion that public policies beyond health policy shape health were consolidated in the concept of Health in All Policies. Foreign policy, which includes areas as diverse as trade, immigration, and matters of peace and war, has arguably dramatic implications for human health. However, few areas of public policy have received such scant attention as foreign policy. The health and social effects of Canada’s sanctions policy – an aspect of the country’s foreign policy – on civilians in targeted nations is a case in point. In this article, we attempt to fill this gap.

While there is no shortage of evidence for the economic, social, and health effects of sanctions, both state and nonstate actors – among the latter, many ostensibly averse to the use of military force – neglect, when not altogether ignore, the devastation caused by sanctions. Take, for instance, the case of sanctions on Venezuela: the policy has frozen assets, banned banks from transactions, and impeded the sale of oil, Venezuela’s main source of income, making the purchase of essential goods such as food and medicine all but impossible, thus targeting not only the Venezuelan government but the entire population.

Why, then, the widespread use of sanctions by the Canadian state on so many countries – 20 at the time of this writing, over 10% of countries in the world?

One reason proffered by supporters of sanctions is that this policy approach is a nonviolent way to put pressure on governments seen as involved in violation of, or reluctant to abide by international norms. And there exists indeed a dominant narrative – held not only by the Canadian corporate media but also by academics, including many on the left, that a “dictator” rules Venezuela, an allegation intended to legitimize sanctions on the country. Of note, it is a narrative that toes the line of notorious US regime-change operations – in the past conducted covertly by the CIA, and now overtly through creative “hybrid wars” – and that parallels Canada’s own elite interests – in mining, tourism, and banking, to name a few.

It is, we note, a supreme irony that to curb a government accused of violating international law, Canada should be compelled to violate those very laws. No less of an irony is that to avoid the (immediate) violence of military interventions a policy would be put in place that exerts no less extraordinary (even if delayed) violence on sovereign nations, preventing them to use their own resources as they see fit, choose how they wish to govern themselves, and most immediately, purchase essential food and medicine for their people, all of which have demonstrable effects on collective health and well-being. To mention one, US-imposed sanctions on Venezuela and enthusiastically endorsed by the Canadian government, have caused an estimated, completely avoidable 40,000 deaths  likely as many as 100,000 – for no apparent reason other than to achieve a US-style “democracy”.

In the meantime, democracy US-style is far from being welcome by “Third World” masses, or even the masses in wealthier countries – for instance, 60% of Germans appear to not care much for it. This unwashed opinion – often dismissed as a preference for “populism” over “democracy” – is shared by the majority of Venezuelans, who favor a mode of governance that has provided housing, food, health care, and education to millions over the last 20 years, notwithstanding the wrath this governance style provokes in Washington and Ottawa. In the meantime, the Canadian and US people are never told why Saudi Arabia, a human rights violator if there ever was one, has not made it to the list of sanctioned countries.

The targeting of civilians to achieve political goals, through sanctions or other means, is explicitly forbidden by international law and constitutes a crime against humanity, as stated in major international documents – the Geneva Convention (art.33), the UN Charter (Art. 2), the Organization of American States (Chapter IV), the Hague Convention, the Vienna Declaration, and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Indeed, these measures should not be called “sanctions” as sanctions refer only to measures in agreement with the United Nations, and not to unilateral coercive measures, which is what Canada, the USA, and Europe are imposing on Venezuela.

Be that as it may, these coercive measures, lethal as they can be in “normal” times, have not only not been eliminated even under the unprecedented challenge of COVID-19, they have been further intensified. More recently, they have even been exacerbated by a gangster-style operation that has gone as far as putting a price on the head of Nicolas Maduro, the democratically elected president of Venezuela, and on the heads of other government officials – on literally “trumped-up” charges of participating in a “narco-terrorism conspiracy”. These charges, we note, have been dismissed by Pino Arlacchi, former Executive Director of the United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention, as “basura politica” (political garbage), even as the move has been celebrated by the Western (so-called) liberal media.

While Canada has not openly participated in this assault, it has enthusiastically endorsed it, and, undeterred, continues to impose coercive measures that undermine the ability of Venezuela’s public health system to protect not only Venezuelans but also, given the interconnected nature of contemporary society, world populations, as recognized even by sources that are no friends of Venezuela. Which only indicates that this pandemic, unique as it is in many ways, is remarkably similar to other larger social disruptions in how it merely exacerbates but does not create, existing inequities in whose voices are heard and whose can be safely ignored, within and among individuals, social groups and nations.

It is about time that the Canadian state took seriously international law, the UN Charter, the right of self-determination of sovereign states, and plain human decency, in addition to the principles, although not always the practice, of health equity, enshrined in multiple of its own documents. This, we believe, is critical if Canada wishes to stand on the right side of history.

Claudia Chaufan is a professor at York University in Canada. Born and raised in Argentina, she has a long career in national and international teaching, writing, and activism.  She can be contacted via email at cchaufan@yorku.ca

María Páez Victor, Ph.D. is a Venezuelan born sociologist living in Canada.

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Village of Hoffman Estates Urges Citizens to Call the 911 Emergency Line on an Ice Cream Truck for Breaking Quarantine Policy, Not Wearing a Mask

Investigative reported Brad Edwards and CBS Chicago ran a segment this week where they snitched on the local ice cream truck.
The driver wasn’t wearing gloves or a mask.
So they snitched him out.

The Village Manager at Hoffman Estates where this took place asked citizens to call 9-1-1 i they see this unmasked villain again on their streets.

Sounds like a great place to live — Where they snitch out the ice cream man!

It should be noted that Swiss and Dutch officials reopened schools this month due to the fact that children are not at risk of coronavirus and are not carriers of the disease.

TRENDING: Breaking: Department of Justice Drops Case Against General Michael Flynn

Mike Cernovich weighed in.



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