Economy Watch

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War on Women

While the rest of the world debates America’s role in the Middle East or its use of drones in Pakistan and Afghanistan, the U.S. Congress is debating just how drastically it should cut food assistance to the 47 million Americans - one out of seven people -  who suffer from “food insecurity,” the popular euphemism for those who go hungry. 

by Ruth Rosen

from openDemocracy, 12/16/13

The Corporate Invasion

Imagine what would happen if foreign companies could sue governments directly for cash compensation over earnings lost because of strict labour or environmental legislation. This may sound far-fetched, but it was a provision of the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI), a projected treaty negotiated in secret between 1995 and 1997 by the then 29 member states of the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) (1). News about it got out just in time, causing an unprecedented wave of protests and derailing negotiations.

by Lori M Wallach

from Le Monde diplomatique English edition, December 2013

Financing the New Economy

For the last three years, labor organizer Ellen Vera has been piecing together Our Harvest Cooperative, an inspiring project launched primarily by the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) and Mondragon USA, the U.S. arm of the famed Basque co-op network. The goal? Generating 150 to 200 family-wage jobs in farming, food processing, and delivery in the rust belt city of Cincinnati. Regional restaurants and institutions like Cincinnati State University are eager for fresh, locally cultivated food without the huge carbon footprint generated when produce is transported from afar.

by Abby Scher

fron Dollars & Sense, December 2013

Forever Blowing Bubbles

When 42-year-old hedge fund manager Mark Spitznagel wants to forget about his high-stakes business for a while, he heads to the goat farm he and his wife Amy purchased in the bucolic hills of Michigan. There, he produces cheese according to environmentally sustainable methods, because he views modern agriculture, with its large-scale pesticide use and automated factory farms, as degenerate. In fact, he says, factory farming is "an ideal metaphor" for the economy.

by Martin Hesse and Anne Seith

from Spiegel, 12/3/13

Bum TRIPS

The proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership on intellectual property rights being negotiated secretly, as exposed by WikiLeaks recently, is breathtaking in its overweening ambition to cement the corporate takeover of as much knowledge as possible.

by Jayati Ghosh

from Frontline (Mumbai), 12/13/13

Welcome to the Casino

The impressive rise and sudden fall of the Greek, Irish and Spanish economies after they joined the EuroZone is often framed as a story of profligate governments and lazy citizens who spent too much and ended up deep in debt. The international community – notably the European Union (E.U.) – has been portrayed as a misguided group of bureaucrats who gave these foolish people billions to save them from their own recklessness and overspending.

from CorpWatch, 11/13/13

The Detroit Bankruptcy

The City of Detroit’s bankruptcy was driven by a severe decline in revenues (and, importantly, not an increase in obligations to fund pensions). Depopulation and long-term unemployment caused Detroit’s property and income tax revenues to plummet. The state of Michigan exacerbated the problems by slashing revenue it shared with the city. The city’s overall expenses have declined over the last five years, although its financial expenses have increased. In addition, Wall Street sold risky financial instruments to the city, which now threaten the resolution of this crisis.

by Wallace Turbeville

from Demos, 11/20/13

Chevron vs. Earth

The global oil major Chevron has used all the dirty tricks that money and political power can buy to avoid paying for the damage it has caused to the Ecuadorian Amazon and its indigenous communities.

BIG multinational oil companies usually do an impressive public relations job. Advertisements and laudatory media reports show how “green” and people-minded these companies are, and how their technicians and professional employees are concerned with the rights of local communities and with bringing to everyone access to safe, clean energy.

by Jayati Ghosh

from Frontline (Mumbai), 11/29/13

Why Do We Take It?

The economy continues to lag and only sputter along, unemployment remains a seemingly intractable problem, wages stagnate and personal debt grows, Tea Party zealots force the House Republican majority to shut down the government on the fool’s errand of defunding Obamacare, something that had no chance whatsoever of happening; and while these selfsame zealots crow about their “success” even as they had to surrender in the end, their shenanigans cost the still-reeling economy an additional $24 billion. [John W.

by George Fish

from examiner.com, 10/30/13

The Grim World of Women at Work

It is now more generally accepted that most women work, even when they are not recorded as “workers” by official and other data gatherers. The tasks associated with social reproduction and the care economy are largely (though not solely) borne by women, but in many societies these are not counted among economic or productive activities.

Similarly, many women are engaged in what is recognised otherwise as productive work but as unpaid household helpers who are, therefore, only marginally seen as workers in their own right.

by CP Chandrasekhar and Jayati Ghosh

from Business Line, 10/14/13

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