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Any link's presence here is not necessarily an endorsement of it's content. To see the Healthcare Hijack or Medicare and Social Security Stealth Capture - or Global Good Jobs Theft links click the links on the upper left.
review of: This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly

"Building on a historical narrative that uses an extensive data set of their construction, Reinhart and Rogoff (hereafter R&R) show that periods of excessive public debt accumulation generally do not end well. Over time, many countries have defaulted on their debt (including restructuring) for a variety of reasons and by a variety of methods (inflating away the real value of the debt has been very popular). These defaults, they show, can produce detrimental spillover effects. Recent defaults by Russia (1998) and Argentina (2001) come to mind, and the possibility of a future restructuring by Greece looms large for its foreign creditors (for example, European banks)—and for European policymakers. One drawback of R&R’s analysis, which they readily admit, is that it focuses almost entirely on debt issued by governments, or sovereigns, rather than by the private sector. In the financial crisis of 2007-09, which they term the “Second Great Contraction,” the accumulation of private debt (chiefly mortgage debt of the dodgy variety) and the collapse in nominal house prices eventually helped trigger a banking and financial crisis of immense proportions and a collapse in economic activity. In response, federal government outlays in the United States and other advanced economies rose enormously, which resulted in huge budget deficits that have significantly boosted debt-to-GDP levels. Since emerging and developing countries tend to rely heavily on foreign creditors such as large multinational banks, sharply higher debt-to-GDP ratios in the context of weakening economic fundamentals can lead to “sudden stops”—that is, credit is withdrawn abruptly, leading to a cascade of defaults. In advanced economies, which have better credit and inflation histories, and thus sharply lower probabilities of default, rising debt-to-GDP ratios tend to weaken economic growth."

Inside the battle over water privatization and whether there should be a human right to, (or a corporate right to sell) precious drinking water.

"ALICANTE, Spain — Last week, U.N. Special Rapporteur On The Human Rights To Safe Drinking Water And Sanitation Léo Heller presented a report on privatization in the water and sanitation sector to the United Nations. Little was mentioned, however, of the behind-the-scenes controversy leading up to it, including a vicious clash between pro- and anti-private sector advocates, accusations of “interference” and bias on both sides, and an appeal to the U.N. Human Rights Council. The report aims to act as a guide to states as they decide whether or not to privatize water and sanitation services by laying out the human rights risks — such as unaffordable services, neglect of sustainability, no improvement or deterioration of services, and corruption — and how to mitigate those risks. The process of putting the research together began at the end of last year with a series of consultations with various entities, followed by a questionnaire."

TiSA: Not our Future

A new report (TiSA: Not our Future!) prepared for the IUF by Professor Jane Kelsey of Auckland University reveals the scope of the corporate power grab through a close examination of TiSA's potential impact on workers across the IUF sectors and TiSA's broader implications for the labour movement, society and democratic governance. The report explains in plain language the meaning and context of TiSA's complex rules and how they are designed to lock in the corporate agenda. TiSA -and 'trade in services' components of other mega-trade deals like the reborn Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement on Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP, ex-TPPA) - are, on the one hand, a continuation of long-standing efforts to complete the corporations' unfinished agenda at the WTO by establishing enforceable global rules on public and private services, finance and investment, domestic regulation and government procurement. But the new model 'trade in services' fuses these familiar objectives with the potent force of digitally-based technologies expressed in the rise of Big Tech. 'E-commerce' rules in TiSA are not about online shopping. They are about the control of the algorithms and data flows which are essential to the corporate-driven digitalization of everything, including work. When the WTO rules were established over two decades ago, digital 'high precision' agriculture fed a data stream from cloud computers did not exist. Nor did lab-grown meat and dairy, 3D printed meals, 'smart fishing', Airbnb, Amazon Prime food deliveries, UberEats, and digitally-based worker surveillance technologies. Under current WTO rules, the products of IUF sectors like food processing and beverage manufacturing, agriculture and fisheries are treated as goods the moment they cross borders. TiSA introduces another layer of rules, under which every current and future task performed by workers in these sectors can be treated as a discrete, stand-alone 'service' to be outsourced to a transnational 'service provider' who is liberated and protected by TiSA's rules. These service providers would not be required to have a physical presence in the countries they operate in, shielding them from regulation and liability. The same rules would apply to all other manufacturing sectors and to the extractive industries. In the IUF sectors already treated as services - hotels, restaurants, catering - TiSA gives new impetus and encouragement to the ongoing process of outsourcing and casualization. The report identifies the many ways in which TiSA will deepen the concentration of corporate power over all the IUF sectors and accelerate the fragmentation and precariousness of work in each of those sectors, eroding the capacity of workers to organise and to bargain on a workplace, national and international scale. TiSA would accelerate a process of digitalized automation potentially resulting in massive job destruction, while its rules would radically reduce the possibility for workers to negotiate the application and impact of these new technologies. At the same time, TiSA's rules on financial services effectively preclude meaningful efforts to regulate the crisis-prone financial sector through new laws or regulations. The volatile, speculative flow of money which increasingly drives food production and the global economy acquires even greater power to disrupt. Understanding TiSA and similar provisions in the new generation of trade and investment deals is crucial to defeating them. As the report notes, the TiSA negotiations are currently suspended because opposition has made them - for the moment - politically toxic. In the immediate term, the task is to ensure that they are definitively abandoned. Defeating TiSA is both possible and necessary. But in a world where everything is now a 'tradeable service', they will resurface in another guise, just as the investment provisions of the defeated Multilateral Agreement on Investment have regularly resurfaced in the regional and bilateral trade and investment deals. The larger task facing the labour movement and its allies is to unwind the thickening web of trade and investment deals to reclaim the democratic policy space needed to defend worker rights, sustainable livelihoods, public services, the environment and the world's food resources.

From Dictatorship To Democracy

"A short but impressive guide to how to run a democratic revolution. Reportedly rather influential and certainly provides an interesting structure for thought." (Aaron Schwartz)

Poor Economics (book+web site)

"Part of why running a nonprofit is so hard is that pretty much all nonprofits are delegation. Donors aren’t buying a particular thing they know they want, they’re buying a chance to help others, without knowing exactly what it is they want. And that’s why randomized controlled trials have been transformational for the nonprofit sector — they’ve converted a delegation into a service. Great nonprofits don’t have to guess at what will help people the most; they just need to look up the most helpful service and then purchase more of it. Poor Economics is a remarkable book if only because it shows how crucial this is. It’s full of tales of small-scale experiments where well-intentioned do-gooders try hard to help some people and fail catastrophically. But they only notice because there are academics there collecting data; in the typical nonprofit, where the decisionmakers are far removed from the evidence on the ground, they’d probably never know that much was going wrong (assuming that they even cared)."

Private Firms Working in the Public Interest-Is the Financial Statement Audit Broken? Abigail Bugbee Brown

2007 - "The Big Four accounting firms have become the object of much scrutiny following the string of financial statement fraud scandals at the beginning of this century. The apparent involvement of the large auditing firms in the accounting misdeeds comes as a surprise, since the academic literature on auditor incentives predicts that large, reputable firms will not engage in collusion with their clients. The lace of a consensus economic framework to understand the incentives facing the audit firms that reflects the historical reality has hindered consensus building in the policy response to the scandals. This dissertation develops a principal-auditor-agent model that suggests there may well be socially sub-optimal levels of audit intensity, even among the best audit firms. It explores archival historical evidence to identify examples of how these incentives have shaped the profession and develops a more nuanced reading of the root causes of the recent scandals. This work also identifies the gaps in our understanding of the cost and occurrence of fraud that hinders a proper cost-benefit analysis of policy options designed to improve the quality of information available to the market."

Veolia loses ISDS case against Egypt – after six years and millions in costs

Veolia, the giant French corporation which operates in Australia and world-wide, has finally lost its claim against Egypt over a waste management contract dispute in which they claimed compensation for an increase in the minimum wage under a new labour law. Its claim was for €174 million (A$268 million), and was launched in 2012. On May 25, 2018, the IAR Reporter stated that the ICSID Tribunal had dismissed the claim by Veolia. Veolia has not issued a statement, nor has ICSID, the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes of the World Bank, published the details.

Video: Papering over Poverty

This mess is arguably caused by GATS, and Britons, like we Americans, are being kept in the dark about that connection. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cft52h89roU

For Covid-19 Vaccines, Some Are Too Rich — and Too Poor

"CAPE TOWN — A few months from now, a factory in South Africa is expected to begin churning out a million doses of Covid-19 vaccine each day in the African country hardest-hit by the pandemic. But those vials will probably be shipped to a distribution center in Europe and then rushed to Western countries that have pre-ordered them by the hundreds of millions. None have been set aside for South Africa. The country, which will help manufacture the vaccine and whose citizens have enrolled in clinical trials, does not expect to see the first trickle of doses until around the middle of next year. By then, the United States, Britain and Canada may already have vaccinated more than 100 million people. The first year of the Covid-19 pandemic revealed that a country’s wealth would not spare it from the virus. Overconfidence, poor planning and ignored warnings felled some of the world’s richest nations. But now, money is translating into undeniable advantages. Over the past few months, rich nations like the United States and Britain have cut deals with multiple drug manufacturers and secured enough doses to vaccinate their citizens multiple times over. China and Russia have conducted their own trials and begun mass vaccination programs. Yet countries like South Africa are in a singular bind because they cannot hold out hope for charity. Although its government is nearly insolvent and half of its citizens live in poverty, South Africa is considered too rich to qualify for cut-rate vaccines from international aid organizations. “Where you’re not rich enough but you’re not poor enough, you’re stuck,” said Salim Abdool Karim, an epidemiologist who leads the country’s coronavirus advisory council."