Archive for the ‘Economics’ Category

Huffing, and puffing along tobacco road

2017-07-18

As we journey we look for the wondrous benefits of sugar-sweetened beverages, junk food, and tobacco, and have as companion a question, ‘Why should they be allowed to, if it is…’ A country, still developing and lacking in resources and institutions, and with pressing social and economic issues to address. Worse, an impoverished country. (more…)

Economics for the general reader

2016-12-28

Economics professor, John Quiggin, continues with his Economics in Two Lessons text. A draft piece he has made available at the crooked timber blog for comments and critiques, which may lead to a tightening up of the text directed at the general reader. (The privatisation of public enterprises is a timely topic.)

In the current post, Public Services: Excerpt from Economics in Two Lessons, Quiggin provides a link to the draft text to date, and in pdf format.

A slight investment of time should bear rich fruit, and confirm nagging doubts on the honesty of economic analysis so often proffered by the corporate MSM. The internet offers many rewards, and inexpensively – this is but one powerful example.

Tourism – the joys and sorrows

2016-09-04

A brief sketch. Imagine an idyllic island of some 30 thousand people. Beautiful and accessible, sandy beaches and calm, turqoise seas. Infrastructure and services, adequate to good. (more…)

A journey into useful economics

2016-05-28

Prof John Quiggin progresses along with his ‘Economics in Two Lessons’. The intended text, while much more substantive, is still aimed at the general reader. Its title, as is known, is a take-off on that of ‘Economics in One Lesson’ of Henry Hazlitt, which was rather popular in the US.

Quiggin posts his drafts for comment and critique over at the crooked timber blog, then tidies up his draft as he goes along. His current offering is a timely one, Intellectual property: Extract from Economics in Two Lessons (expanded and amended)

This chapter is quite useful to also better appreciate the arguments against the secretly negotiated, corporate-friendly ‘free trade’ agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), Trade in Services Agreement (TISA), and the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), under which the role of the state would be subordinate to that of the multinational/transnational corporations (MNCs/TNCs), especially of the US. (In essence, the corporate control will be reside in the US, with the power of its government and military).

Another element of the proposed ‘free trade’ deals, the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanism would represent another concession to the MNC, where the MNC can sue the state, but not the other way around, and even for potential loss of earnings. Thanks to citizen activism, continuing leaks and information secured through Freedom of Information (FOI) requests in the US have tended to strengthen the arguments against the trade deals.The deterioration in the economic fortunes of the average citizen since the 80s will increase, as those of the MNCs and their sponsors increase.

The draft Intellectual Property (IP) chapter should help shine a brighter light on the reliability, the credibility of media reports and pronouncements of politician advocates for such ‘free trade’ deals.

Honduras, model of export-led growth?

2016-04-13

Just a heavy dollop of irony.

The news is pleasant enough. In some local paper appears a photo or two of visiting corporate executives chatting with local officials. There is the confident good news: well-paying jobs and an improved standard of living for some community poor but rich in newly discovered natural resources, rapid economic development is around the corner. But in many cases bitter reality strikes, and hard.

Among the countries where such reality is very stark is Honduras, the most unequal country in Latin America and with a poverty rate of some 64%. A journalistic journey helps reinforce the saying, “To be forewarned is to be forearmed – coming to a community near you.” One lesson of caution to be heeded: they come to extract wealth, and the community pays the cost – as the community of Lago Agrio, Ecuador, has long learned as it still awaits resolution to a more than a decade old suit against Chevron.. (more…)

Thank goodness for that 13Apr

2016-04-11

Today, 11Apr15; ‘yesterday’, 11Apr02.

To remember is that Venezuela is, and has been, a country rich in natural resources, the benefits of which would always flow to foreign corporations and to the Venezuelan oligarchy. Poverty, illiteracy and hopelessness would be the crumbs thrown at the rest of the population – and then along came (the Caracazo and) Hugo Chávez and with him the rekindled hopes of the abandoned and dispossessed masses.

Predictably, such a turn of events was completely unacceptable, even as the results of such an election were too indisputable to overturn. The only reliable option that would guarantee success, a return to the status quo ante, was an old friend, the coup, a golpe blanco. And a coup it was – however short-lived – with US involvement.

TeleSUR takes us back, Anniversary of Venezuela’s 2002 Coup

On April 11, 2002 the Venezuelan right, with the help of media power, created a tense situation to pit Venezuelans against each other, leading to a coup for 48 hours against President Hugo Chavez.

TeleSUR’s series of reports and analyses on the event also shines a light on the role of complicit corporate media, especially of the US. And, yes, as recently as 2014 14Apr2013 there was that desperate, concerted, violent and deadly attempt at destabilisation, La Salida with its guarimbas.

To be remembered is that in March 2016, the US  President, and for the second straight year, has declared Venezuela a threat, yes, to the existence of the US – the height of cheek.

So Venezuela continues to struggle not only against droughts, a drastic fall in oil prices, hoarding or smuggling of subsidised food and essentials across the border into Colombia, and some weak economic policies; not only against such challenges, but also against the unrelenting machinations of the US with its loyal local allies – despite the recent electoral reverses for the Chavistas.

And the disadvantaged of Venezuela and the country’s neighbours and against such odds? During the administration of the late President Chávez, ‘minor’ accomplishments such as health care available to all, millions lifted out of poverty, lifted out of illiteracy, free education, and increased economic opportunities. And Alba for many of its neighbours.

Thanks to information technology, alternative media and blogs, the unremitting propaganda of US corporate establishment media and oligarchy-controlled media in such countries as Venezuela is fast, but not fast enough, becoming less effective, less credible, less acceptable even among the somewhat inattentive.

A sobering read – countries and corporate greed

2016-04-10

How easy is it to create a country? And one that suits your own nefarious purposes? Simple, if you are a powerful US financial mogul with significant financial and political influence in a powerful country, where both player and country benefit substantially – at the cost of the people of the new and the original, supposedly independent state.

The Guardian takes us on a journey to the tropics, Colombia. How a US president and JP Morgan made Panama: and turned it into a tax haven A teaser,  (more…)

Latin America – the indigenous, an endangered species

2016-03-15

This tragedy is being acted out throughout Latin America.

We have an article from the common dreams blog that focuses on the plight of the indigenous on their own lands, lands from which they are increasingly expelled. Violent death to activists is part of the strategy to ensure submission. Key players in this drama include the multinational corporation (MNC) and its country-of-origin political backer, development agencies, ‘cooperative’ local and state governments and death squads (government or private). As Sian Cowman and Philippa de Boissière report, For Indigenous Peoples, Megadams Are ‘Worse than Colonization’ An excerpt, (more…)

Econ101? Simple.

2016-03-10

Some good news for those who have had to suffer the cost of educating their children at university. Just one part of the agony: the cost of textbooks, textbooks that are basic at best – no key to happiness or success. And worse, there are the more advanced textbooks to add to the burden of debt. Non-sufferers can savour their advantage.

In any case… For those interested in acquiring a solid grasp of the economics of the real world comes an offer that is much better than what the children have had to endure – a free text (PDF) on the Principles of Economics. And a high quality one at that, Principles of Economics from openstax.org. The printed version sells for US$38.50, which when compared with Mankiw’s or even Krugman’s text, nets a savings of how much? Yes, indeed. QED

Caracas, 27Feb1989

2016-02-27

TeleSur takes us on an unpleasant but necessary journey back to the horrific events that began on 27Feb1989 in Caracas, Venezuela. And the overarching question should remain, “Why?”

A video captures in graphic detail some of the unfolding tragedy, wanton death and destruction, Remembering the Caracazo

One analyst’s perspective, Venezuela’s Caracazo: State Repression and Neoliberal Misrule

From the perspective of the survivors, Caracazo Victims: In Their Own Words

Or better expressed, ¿Por qué el Caracazo?

Then comes the obvious question, “Since that time, how far have the dispossessed, the socially excluded, reached in their quest for respect, social justice and economic opportunity in so rich country as Venezuela?”

Clearly not jaded is that aphorism of Santayana’s on the consequences of failing to to remember and understand history.