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Author Archive | Rick Wolff

Rick Wolff

Nominating Palin Makes Sense

If something is better than nothing, then Palin’s nomination gives Americans just that choice and so another chance for the Republicans. For the last 30 years, Republicans systematically aided capital in keeping real wages flat while raising productivity.  That combination yielded exploding profits and exploding incomes for those who got their hands on those profits.  […]

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Remittances

US Economic Slide Threatens Mexico

Deteriorating economic and social conditions in Mexico have generated mounting social problems.  Private enterprises in Mexico and the government they control cannot manage, let alone solve them.  Huge demonstrations are rocking the country with more to come.  One chief cause of Mexico’s problems is the turmoil and decline in the US economy.  Rising US unemployment […]

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Consumer Debt Outstanding

What Dream?  Americans All Renters Now!

Until the early 1980s, homes in the US were mostly owned by the families living in them.  By 2008, all that changed.  Now US homes are actually owned — about 60% of the average home — by mortgage lenders.  The families in them own the other 40% of the home’s value.  The average US home […]

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Rick Wolff

Economic Blues

Housing and securities prices are going down; food and fuel prices are rising.  How will these opposite trends affect our economy looking ahead? The real estate bubble (US capitalism’s latest toxic mix of profit-driven over-investment, over-lending, and financial fraud) is in full “bust” mode.  Residential and now also commercial real estate prices are dropping quickly. […]

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Rick Wolff

Consumerism: Curses and Causes

US consumerism — citizens driven excessively to buy goods and services and accumulate consumable wealth — is cursed almost everywhere.  Many environmentalists blame it for global warming.  Critics of the current economic disasters often point to home-buying gluttony as the cause.  Many see consumerism behind the borrowing that makes the US the world’s greatest debtor […]

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Rick Wolff

Economic Reforms: Been There, Done That

Markets are key to the current economic meltdown.  First, the US real estate market drove up prices and provoked fantasies that unprecedented prices would not collapse.  Then markets reversed and plunged us into recession.  The misnamed “sub-prime mortgage” crisis began by hobbling mortgage brokers and lenders and big investment banks.  Their huge losses were then […]

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Rick Wolff

Market Terrorism

The intimate partnership between mainstream economics and right-wing ideology has long trumpeted the wonderful efficiency of markets.  In these partners’ fantasy, markets are truly wondrous coordination mechanisms that perfectly match the supply of goods and services to what buyers demand.  All this happens, they say with immense self-satisfaction, without the intervention of any government or […]

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Rick Wolff

Evading Taxes, Legally

Clever public relations make millions believe that taxes are “too high,” as if all citizens and all businesses were in the same boat when it comes to paying taxes.  Actually, we are in different boats, some sailing, some stalled, and some sinking.  Taxes on some of us are indeed high or too high, but others […]

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Rick Wolff

As Rome Burned, the Emperor Fiddled

As global finance’s house of cards implodes, Bush and Congress fiddle and Bernanke Fedles.  When sub-prime mortgages defaulted, debt-backed securities tanked, and credit everywhere contracted.  Business investment then shrank as did consumer spending.  Recession now looms in the US if it is not already here.  Worry deepens that it might get very bad and last […]

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Rick Wolff

Neo-liberalism in Globalized Trouble

Wild stock market gyrations and a global financial meltdown open 2008.  Around the world, old and new critics of neo-liberalism smirk and repeat “I told you so.”  Neo-liberal dogma — that private enterprise is good and efficient whereas state economic interventions are bad and wasteful — suffers deepening disrepute.  The private, deregulated capitalism of recent […]

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Rick Wolff

The Rating Horrors and Capitalist “Efficiency”

Many aspects of our “efficient” capitalism combined to produce the credit meltdown that now threatens ever more aspects of the global economy.  One was the private rating companies’ failure to accurately assess and honestly reveal the risks of securities based on a “bundle” of loans (securities that provide their owners with a portion of that […]

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Rick Wolff

Neoliberal Globalization Is Not the Problem

“O there are times, we must confess To harboring a whim — we Like to picture old Karl Marx Sliding down our chimney” — Susie Day “Help fund the good fight.   By contributing to MR, you help reinforce the left and reclaim the future.” — Richard D. Vogel “To do my part, I just […]

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Rick Wolff

Oil and Efficiency Myths

Everything Americans do requires transportation because our individualized homes, like our jobs and shopping locations, are all considerable distances from one another except in our largest, densest cities.  The private automobile rules.  Everything we buy in a store got there by truck.  Two-thirds of US oil consumption goes for transportation, most of that for private […]

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Rick Wolff

Twenty Years of Widening Inequality

The Internal Revenue Service tracks the incomes of Americans as recorded in their tax returns each year.  The latest numbers, covering 1986 to 2005, summarize one basic feature of this country’s evolving economy and politics: the sharply widening gap between haves and have-nots.  Consider the richest 1 per cent of Americans.  They filed 1.3 million […]

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Rick Wolff

Our Sub-prime Economy

What matters most in economics often gets the least attention.  So it is with the link between wages and productivity: what workers get paid versus the value of what they produce.  Most commentators focus elsewhere.  They hype what their employers want to see or what they want others to believe.  Stock boosters see market upswings […]

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Rick Wolff

Federal Reserve Twists and Turns

The Federal Reserve is led by an inveterate “free market solves all economic problems best” kind of guy.  Mr. Bernanke loves Milton Friedman passionately and says so.  This is what big business wants to hear when it is making lots of money, when it wants tax reductions to boost profits, and when it wants government […]

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Rick Wolff

Foreign Threat to American Business?

Foreign countries are awash in dollars because they sell so much more to the US than they buy.  Increasingly, their governments use some of those dollars to establish and operate investment funds.  The funds buy shares in companies around the world.  Sometimes they buy companies directly.  Called “sovereign investment funds,” the IMF estimates that they […]

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Rick Wolff

Financial Panics, Then and Now

The authors of the most widely read book on financial panics (Manias, Panics, and Crashes: A History of Financial Crises, Fifth Edition, 2005) refer to them as “hardy perennials” and document how they have repeatedly devastated large portions of modern economies and societies over the last three centuries.  Charles Kindleberger (a professor of economics at […]

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Rick Wolff

Mass Political Withdrawal

In regular high-school rituals, teachers berate students for their disinterest in, mockery of, and/or failure to focus on “the important issues” in elections for student government.  Students are forced to hear about cherishing their right to vote, taking the issues seriously, and participating fully.  Most never do.  Some notice that teachers likewise take little interest […]

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Rick Wolff

Today’s Haunting Specter (or What Needs Doing)

An attractive social democrat, Ségolène Royal, just lost the French presidential race to a neoliberal candidate, leaving French leftists debating the causes of their failures and what to do about them.  The center-left in Italy recently defeated the staunch neo-liberal, Sylvio Berlusconi.  Yet its incapacities to define a new and different social program or mobilize […]

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