Killing the Host: Michael Hudson’s Devastating Exposé of the Global Economic Crisis

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In Killing the Host, economist Michael Hudson exposes how finance, insurance, and real estate (the FIRE sector) have seized control of the global economy at the expense of industrial capitalism and governments. The FIRE sector is responsible for today’s extreme economic polarization (the 1% vs. the 99%) via favored tax status that inflates real estate prices while deflating the “real” economy of labor and production. Hudson shows in vivid detail how the Great 2008 Bailout saved the banks but not the economy, and plunged the U.S., Irish, Latvian and Greek economies into debt deflation and austerity. Killing the Host describes how the phenomenon of debt deflation imposes punishing austerity on the U.S. and European economies, siphoning wealth and income upward to the financial sector while impoverishing the middle class.

Viva Trump?

Were it not for the Donald, the electoral season so far would have been the bore that many of us were expecting and dreading. Trump turned it into a guilty pleasure, more interesting by far than any of his reality TV shows.

And it looks like the Trump phenomenon has legs. Unless something very unforeseen happens, or the man loses interest, it won’t flicker out anytime soon. Eager to feather their own nests, seasoned political operatives are already defecting to the Trump campaign. A joke barely a month ago, the Donald actually stands a chance of winning the early caucuses and primaries. After that, who knows!

But to get there, he will have to do more than attack other Republican candidates and Fox media personalities for being the phony ne’er-do-wells that they are. He will have to appeal to what is basest and most contemptible in human nature. More

Long Time Coming, Long Time Gone

On the day Pope Francis released his encyclical on the fate of the Earth, I was struggling to climb a near vertical cliff on the Parajito Plateau of northern New Mexico. My fingers gripped tightly to handholds notched into the rocks hundreds of years ago by Ancestral Puebloans, the anodyne phrase now used by modern anthropologists to describe the people once known as the Anasazi. The day was a scorcher and the volcanic rocks were so hot they blistered my hands and knees. Even my guide, Elijah, a young member of the Santa Clara Pueblo, confessed that the heat radiating off the basalt had made him feel faint, although perhaps he was simply trying to make me feel less like a weather wimp.

When we finally hurled ourselves over the rimrock to the top of the little mesa, the ruins of the old city of Puyé spread before us. Amid purple blooms of cholla cactus, piñon pines and sagebrush, two watchtowers rose above the narrow spine of the mesa top, guarding the crumbling walls of houses that once sheltered more than 1,500 people. I was immediately struck by the defensive nature of the site: an acropolis set high above the corn, squash and bean fields in the valley below; a city fortified against the inevitable outbreaks turbulence and violence unleashed by periods of prolonged scarcity. More

Looting Made Easy: the $2 Trillion Buyback Binge

Corporations are taking the retirement savings of elderly public employees and using them to inflate their stock prices so wealthy CEOs and their shareholders can enrich themselves at the expense of their companies. And it's all completely legal. Under current financial regulations, corporate bosses are free to repurchase their own company's shares, push stock prices into the stratosphere, skim off a generous bonuses for themselves in the form of executive compensation, and leave their companies drowning in red ink.

Even worse, a sizable portion of the money devoted to stock buybacks is coming from "massively underfunded public pension" funds that retired workers depend on for their survival. According to Brian Reynolds, Chief Market Strategist at New Albion Partners, "Pension funds have to make 7.5%," so they are putting their money "in these levered credit funds that mimic Long-Term Capital Management in the 1990s." Those funds, in turn, "buy enormous amounts of corporate bonds from companies which put cash onto company balance sheets...and they use it to jack their stock price up, either through buybacks or mergers and acquisitions...It's just a daisy chain of financial engineering and it's probably going to intensify in coming years."

So, once again, ordinary working people are caught in the crosshairs of a corporate scam that could blow up in their faces and leave them without sufficient resources to muddle through their retirement years. More

What It Takes for Families to Get By

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Source: Economic Policy Institute.

Exclusively in the new print issue of CounterPunch

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Atomic Power’s Secret Spills:
Paul Gunter exposes one of the nation’s hidden scandals: the systemic radioactive leaks plaguing America’s nuclear power plants; The Rise of Big Generic: Steve Hendricks on how we got to the $1,200 knock-off prescription; WWII Redux: Peter Lee on the rise of Neo-Fascism from Ukraine to Japan; The Masked Face of American Racism: Ruth Fowler on race mimicry by white women; Sick Behind Bars: Thandisizwe Chimurenga provides a grim assessment of the pitiful state of medical care inside US Prisons. PLUS: Kristin Kolb on the Great Northwest in flames; Chris Floyd on the radical economics of Pope Francis; Mike Whitney on how the Fed wrecked the recovery; JoAnn Wypijewski takes a drive across the blood-stained Great Plains; Jeffrey St. Clair on the once and future ruins of the American Southwest; Lee Ballinger the lethal legacy of Big Oil; and film-maker Ed Leer on the cinema of mass-shootings.

This Week on CounterPunch Radio
Margaret Kimberley & Sukant Chandan

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  • HOST: Eric Draitser
  • GUEST: Margaret Kimberley & Sukant Chandan
  • TOPICS: #BlackLivesMatter, Bernie Sanders, Imperialism in Africa and Asia + Much More!