Archive for the ‘economics’ Category

. “How Economics Bolstered Power by Obscuring it.”

Originally posted on unsettling economics:

Nick Buxton and Madeleine Bélanger Dumontier, eds. State of Power 2015: An Annual Anthology on Global Power and Resistance, eds. (Amsterdam: The Transnational Institute

This is a collection of articles, despite the inclusion of one of my own,  “How Economics Bolstered Power by Obscuring it.”

You can download the book at

file:///D:/TNI_State-of-Power-2015%20(1).pdf

View original

. “How Economics Bolstered Power by Obscuring it.”

Nick Buxton and Madeleine Bélanger Dumontier, eds. State of Power 2015: An Annual Anthology on Global Power and Resistance, eds. (Amsterdam: The Transnational Institute

This is a collection of articles, despite the inclusion of one of my own,  “How Economics Bolstered Power by Obscuring it.”

You can download the book at

file:///D:/TNI_State-of-Power-2015%20(1).pdf

New frontiers in Transparency

Originally posted on unsettling economics:

http://online.wsj.com/articles/buyout-firms-push-pension-funds-to-keep-information-under-wraps-1415142588

We know we live in the world of perverse transparency: governments,
which are effectively shielded from having to provide information have
the right to get intimate information about our lives.  I think this
is supposed to be called transparency.

In the case of pensions, they are woefully underfunded. The only hope
they have of staying afloat while meeting their obligations is to
treat their finance as a form of what is known in the football world
as a series of hail Mary passes in order to gamble on getting
extraordinarily high returns.

The largest pension fund is California’s Public Employees Retirement
System, which recently announced that it would be withdrawing its
investments from hedge funds, but left unsaid that it would continue
investing with private equity operations.

Here we encounter a sad irony. The Mitt Romney campaign increase
public awareness of the damage that private equity does to workers.

View original 98 more words

New frontiers in Transparency

http://online.wsj.com/articles/buyout-firms-push-pension-funds-to-keep-information-under-wraps-1415142588

We know we live in the world of perverse transparency: governments,
which are effectively shielded from having to provide information have
the right to get intimate information about our lives.  I think this
is supposed to be called transparency.

In the case of pensions, they are woefully underfunded. The only hope
they have of staying afloat while meeting their obligations is to
treat their finance as a form of what is known in the football world
as a series of hail Mary passes in order to gamble on getting
extraordinarily high returns.

The largest pension fund is California’s Public Employees Retirement
System, which recently announced that it would be withdrawing its
investments from hedge funds, but left unsaid that it would continue
investing with private equity operations.

Here we encounter a sad irony. The Mitt Romney campaign increase
public awareness of the damage that private equity does to workers.
Workers have good reason to want to know about the fees that their
pensions pay to the private equity operations.  The high fees are a
matter of concern. In addition, recent revelations show that private
equity operations sometimes continue to charge fees from companies
after they have severed their official connections with the company.

People, presumably covered by their pension plan, petitioned the state
of Iowa to learn about the fees private equity charges. Private equity
companies pressure the pension plans not to reveal this information
unless they are willing to be blackballed from investing in private
equity.

The Anarchy of Globalization: Local and Global, Intended and Unintended Consequences

Originally posted on unsettling economics:

I am going to give a keynote lecture for a conference on the local effects of globalization in Turkey

Here are a few early sentences to give a sense of my talk.

GLOBAL

View original

The Anarchy of Globalization: Local and Global, Intended and Unintended Consequences

I am going to give a keynote lecture for a conference on the local effects of globalization in Turkey

Here are a few early sentences to give a sense of my talk.

GLOBAL

Extended Interview Regarding my New Book

Tom O’Brien is a very knowledgeable and insightful interviewer.  The URL for earlier interviews on his program is

http://fromalpha2omega.podomatic.com/entry/2014-06-27T15_00_18-07_00

The URL for the interview is

http://fromalpha2omega.podomatic.com/enclosure/2014-06-27T15_00_18-07_00.mp3

By the way, the latest title of the book is Work, the Economy, and Economic Ideology: And Exploratory Political Economy of the Dangerous and Paradoxical Interactions of these Three Faulty Pillars of Society.  I would very much appreciate any criticism and suggestions about the material discussed in this interview. Thank you very much.

 

The Ideological Fraud of Adam Smith, Beginning with the Pin Factory

Originally posted on unsettling economics:

The first sign of Smith’s pin factory appeared in a course of lectures to his students in Glasgow in 1762 and 1763, more than a decade before the publication of his great book. The discussion of the pin factory began on March 28, 1763, while he was explaining to his Glasgow students the importance of the law and government:

They maintain the rich in the possession of their wealth against the violence and rapacity of the poor, and by that means preserve that useful inequality in the fortunes of mankind which naturally and necessarily arises from the various degrees of capacity, industry, and diligence in the different individuals. [Smith 1762 1766, p. 338]

In order to justify this inequality, Smith told his students that “an ordinary day labourer … has more of the conveniences and luxuries than an Indian [presumably Native American] prince at the head of 1,000 naked savages”…

View original 445 more words

The Ideological Fraud of Adam Smith, Beginning with the Pin Factory

SMITHThe first sign of Smith’s pin factory appeared in a course of lectures to his students in Glasgow in 1762 and 1763, more than a decade before the publication of his great book. The discussion of the pin factory began on March 28, 1763, while he was explaining to his Glasgow students the importance of the law and government:

They maintain the rich in the possession of their wealth against the violence and rapacity of the poor, and by that means preserve that useful inequality in the fortunes of mankind which naturally and necessarily arises from the various degrees of capacity, industry, and diligence in the different individuals. [Smith 1762 1766, p. 338]

In order to justify this inequality, Smith told his students that “an ordinary day labourer … has more of the conveniences and luxuries than an Indian [presumably Native American] prince at the head of 1,000 naked savages” (Smith 1762 1766, p. 339). But then the next day, Smith suddenly shifted gears, almost seeming to side with the violent and rapacious poor:

The labour and time of the poor is in civilized countries sacrificed to the maintaining of the rich in ease and luxury. The landlord is maintained in idleness and luxury by the labour of his tenants. The moneyed man is supported by his exactions from the industrious merchant and the needy who are obliged to support him in ease by a return for the use of his money. But every savage has the full enjoyment of the fruits of his own labours; there are no landlords, no usurers, no tax gatherers …. [T]he poor labourer … has all the inconveniences of the soil and season to struggle with, is continually exposed to the inclemency of the weather and the most severe labour at the same time. Thus he who as it were supports the whole frame of society and furnishes the means of the convenience and ease of all the rest is himself possessed of a very small share and is buried in obscurity. He bears on his shoulders the whole of mankind, and unable to sustain the weight of it is thrust down into the lowest parts of the earth from whence he supports the rest. In what manner then shall we account for the great share he and the lowest persons have of the conveniences of life? [Smith 1762 1766, pp. 340 41]

Smith’s train of thought is confusing. First, the law is needed to constrain the fury of the poor; then the market provides for the poor very well; followed by the wretched state of the people who worked on the land the least fortunate of the workers. For his grand finale, after decrying the “small share” of the poor, Smith curiously veers off to ask what accounts for “the great share” that these same people have. His answer should come as no surprise to a modern reader of Adam Smith “The division of labour amongst different hands can alone account for this” (Smith 1762 1766, p. 341).

By March 30, Smith was confident enough about his success in finessing the challenge of class conflict that he became uncharacteristically unguarded in openly taking notice of the importance of workers’ knowledge:

But if we go into the work house of any manufacturer in the new works at Sheffield, Manchester, or Birmingham, or even some towns in Scotland, and enquire concerning the machines, they will tell you that such or such an one was invented by some common workman. [Smith 1762 1766, p. 351]

Read the entire article here

 

SMITH

Vietnam: Invitation to a Morass: Chapter 5 of the Matrix

The Matrix: An Exploration of the Dangerous Paradoxical Interactions

Between War, the Economy, and Economic Theory

Brief Introduction to the Introduction: The Paradox of the Matrix

What follows the introductory material is a chapter entitled:

Chapter 5: Vietnam: Invitation to a Morass.

The Matrix is an exploration of the intricate relationships between war, the economy, and economic thinking. Because of the complexity of our subject, we have tried to make our exploration more manageable by organizing our analysis around a simplified matrix, consisting of the natural world upon which life depends, together with the and three man-made subjects mentioned in the title, treated as separate pillars. Throughout history, the interrelations between these relationships have proved to be extremely dangerous, largely because of their paradoxical nature in which seemingly people in power confidently take actions that set off unexpected chain reactions with tragic consequences. The Matrix will explore that history in order to throw light upon the present.

Although people had already thought about economic matters in ancient times, the idea of an economy as a separate sphere of society had not yet developed. Instead, economic thinking was largely the domain of philosophers, such as Adam Smith, who was a professor of moral philosophy. Only later did economics become a separate subject of study. By the late 19th century, a few economists were beginning to frame their work as the science of economics ‑‑ a name intended to indicate an affinity with physics. Soon thereafter, supposedly scientific economic thinking acquired increasing authority, so much so that people often became convinced that they could disregard economic analysis at their own peril. Their fear may not have been well‑placed considering how often well‑regarded economic theories helped to create disasters.

The three pillars are intimately connected with one another. While the connections between war and the economy are more or less obvious, economists serve a peculiar role in linking the pillars of war and the economy by influencing the conduct of both war and management of the economy. At the same time, war, as well as economic activity, has influenced economic thinking. Continue reading

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 123 other followers