Greeks, vote No to European Union austerity, economist Stiglitz says

This 9 April 2015 video on Greece and the eurozone crisis is called Yanis Varoufakis and Joseph Stiglitz.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Joseph Stiglitz: how I would vote in the Greek referendum

Neither alternative – approval or rejection of the troika’s terms – will be easy, and both carry huge risks

Monday 29 June 2015 17.02 BST

The rising crescendo of bickering and acrimony within Europe might seem to outsiders to be the inevitable result of the bitter endgame playing out between Greece and its creditors. In fact, European leaders are finally beginning to reveal the true nature of the ongoing debt dispute, and the answer is not pleasant: it is about power and democracy much more than money and economics.

Of course, the economics behind the programme that the “troika” (the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund) foisted on Greece five years ago has been abysmal, resulting in a 25% decline in the country’s GDP. I can think of no depression, ever, that has been so deliberate and had such catastrophic consequences: Greece’s rate of youth unemployment, for example, now exceeds 60%.

It is startling that the troika has refused to accept responsibility for any of this or admit how bad its forecasts and models have been. But what is even more surprising is that Europe’s leaders have not even learned. The troika is still demanding that Greece achieve a primary budget surplus (excluding interest payments) of 3.5% of GDP by 2018.

Economists around the world have condemned that target as punitive, because aiming for it will inevitably result in a deeper downturn. Indeed, even if Greece’s debt is restructured beyond anything imaginable, the country will remain in depression if voters there commit to the troika’s target in the snap referendum to be held this weekend.

In terms of transforming a large primary deficit into a surplus, few countries have accomplished anything like what the Greeks have achieved in the last five years. And, though the cost in terms of human suffering has been extremely high, the Greek government’s recent proposals went a long way toward meeting its creditors’ demands.

We should be clear: almost none of the huge amount of money loaned to Greece has actually gone there. It has gone to pay out private-sector creditors – including German and French banks. Greece has gotten but a pittance, but it has paid a high price to preserve these countries’ banking systems. The IMF and the other “official” creditors do not need the money that is being demanded. Under a business-as-usual scenario, the money received would most likely just be lent out again to Greece.

But, again, it’s not about the money. It’s about using “deadlines” to force Greece to knuckle under, and to accept the unacceptable – not only austerity measures, but other regressive and punitive policies.

But why would Europe do this? Why are European Union leaders resisting the referendum and refusing even to extend by a few days the June 30 deadline for Greece’s next payment to the IMF? Isn’t Europe all about democracy?

In January, Greece’s citizens voted for a government committed to ending austerity. If the government were simply fulfilling its campaign promises, it would already have rejected the proposal. But it wanted to give Greeks a chance to weigh in on this issue, so critical for their country’s future wellbeing.

That concern for popular legitimacy is incompatible with the politics of the eurozone, which was never a very democratic project. Most of its members’ governments did not seek their people’s approval to turn over their monetary sovereignty to the ECB. When Sweden’s did, Swedes said no. They understood that unemployment would rise if the country’s monetary policy were set by a central bank that focused single-mindedly on inflation (and also that there would be insufficient attention to financial stability). The economy would suffer, because the economic model underlying the eurozone was predicated on power relationships that disadvantaged workers.

And, sure enough, what we are seeing now, 16 years after the eurozone institutionalised those relationships, is the antithesis of democracy: many European leaders want to see the end of prime minister Alexis Tsipras’ leftist government. After all, it is extremely inconvenient to have in Greece a government that is so opposed to the types of policies that have done so much to increase inequality in so many advanced countries, and that is so committed to curbing the unbridled power of wealth. They seem to believe that they can eventually bring down the Greek government by bullying it into accepting an agreement that contravenes its mandate.

It is hard to advise Greeks how to vote on 5 July. Neither alternative – approval or rejection of the troika’s terms – will be easy, and both carry huge risks. A yes vote would mean depression almost without end. Perhaps a depleted country – one that has sold off all of its assets, and whose bright young people have emigrated – might finally get debt forgiveness; perhaps, having shrivelled into a middle-income economy, Greece might finally be able to get assistance from the World Bank. All of this might happen in the next decade, or perhaps in the decade after that.

By contrast, a no vote would at least open the possibility that Greece, with its strong democratic tradition, might grasp its destiny in its own hands. Greeks might gain the opportunity to shape a future that, though perhaps not as prosperous as the past, is far more hopeful than the unconscionable torture of the present.

I know how I would vote.

Joseph E. Stiglitz, a Nobel laureate in economics, is University Professor at Columbia University. His most recent book, co-authored with Bruce Greenwald, is Creating a Learning Society: A New Approach to Growth, Development, and Social Progress.

Nobel Prize Winner Joseph Stiglitz Says Euro Was Flawed From The Start: here.

More inequality than ever in rich countries

This video says about itself:

Thomas Piketty and Joseph Stiglitz on Inequality

8 April 2015

Thomas Piketty and Joseph E. Stiglitz discuss the causes of, consequences of, and remedies for inequality. With opening remarks from Clive Cowdery, George Soros, OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria, Institute President Rob Johnson and Institute Board Members Anatole Kaletsky and Lord Adair Turner.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Income inequality at highest point

Today, 17:38

Income inequality in most industrialized countries is now at the highest point since the OECD began measuring it, thirty years ago. The richest ten percent earn 9.6 times as much as the lowest paid ten percent in the 18 OECD countries.

That is bad for the poorer part of the population, but also detrimental to economic growth, the OECD writes.


In the Netherlands, income inequality is relatively low … However, the assets disparity here is very large. Only in the USA this is even greater. …

Furthermore, the OECD remarks that relatively many permanent jobs in the Netherlands have disappeared in recent years, while zero-hours jobs have increased.

Last week the New York Times released the results of an opinion poll, conducted in collaboration with CBS News, showing overwhelming and growing popular opposition to social inequality in the United States: here.

Economic crisis, new book

This video from the USA says about itself:

Joseph Stiglitz: Iraq War Caused the Great Recession

The complete lecture by Stiglitz is here.

By Roger Bagley in Britain:

MPs John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn praise Andrew Fisher book for exposing ‘very British’ City coup that led to crash

Friday 13th june 2014

MPs hail The Failed Experiment and How to Build a Future That Works, which exposes the follies leading to the 2008 financial crash

Two of Britain’s most active left MPs paid tribute to a “superb” new book from Establishment-challenging author Andrew Fisher in Westminster on Wednesday night.

Labour MPs John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn hailed The Failed Experiment And How To Build A Future That Works, which exposes the follies leading to the 2008 crash — and suggests ways forward.

Mr McDonnell told a launch event: “This book is an excellent piece of work. It will be used by all of us in our campaigning.”

It helped to expose the nature of the “very British coup” involving new Labour and big City players which undermined democracy and sent the economy spinning out of control, said Mr McDonnell.

Mr Corbyn declared that Mr Fisher had shown how governments could take control and stand up to global capital.

“The labour movement exists to organise people, it exists to bring about change. It does not exist to accommodate capital,” he said.

Mr Fisher’s book is the first in a planned new series from progressive publisher Comerford & Miller.

Among MPs and activists present at the launch was Erith and Thamesmead MP Teresa Pearce, the only woman member of the Commons treasury select committee.

She voiced concern that politicians and business had failed to learn the lessons of the 2008 crash.

“Nothing has changed,” she warned. “They are keeping their heads down until the storm has passed.”

Veteran campaigner Ted Knight told the gathering that Mr Fisher’s book would help to build a movement for change. It would help “provide people with a voice.”

United States military cutbacks

This video from the USA says about itself:

A panel discussion with economists Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes regarding their new book, “The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict.”

Location: Columbia University, School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA).

Date: Feb 28, 2008.

From daily News Line in Britain:

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

US ‘Defence Cutbacks’ are a cynical fraud!

WHEN the gullible read the headline paragraph, that US Defence Secretary, Chuck Hagel, has unveiled plans to ‘shrink’ the US Army to its smallest size since before the US entered World War Two, a frightening image could well be conjured up.

This might be of a USA stricken by an economic catastrophe that has led to its defences being denuded leaving 350 million Americans defenceless and vulnerable along with the majority of the world’s population.

Outlining his budget plan, the Pentagon chief proposed trimming the active-duty Army to 440,000-450,000 personnel, down from 520,000 currently.

Cold War-era, out of date, Air Force fleets including the U-2 spy plane, as used by Gary Powers over the USSR in the 1960’s, and the A-10 tank buster attack jet, used in Iraq in 1990, are also to be binned.

In fact, these weapons are definitively out of date and the Defence Secretary must have been seeking for a reason to scrap them.

Calling his action a risk taking measure, Chuck Hagel said that reducing the number of active-duty soldiers to its lowest level in 74 years wasn’t without risk and would likely compromise the ability to fight multiple conflicts simultaneously, but he was confident the US would still be able to to defeat any aggressor.

In fact, as everybody knows, the US public is intensely war weary after the Iraqi, Libyan and now the Syrian slaughters, and has had enough of the US policing the planet.

Obama has actually come up with plans to make his dependencies, such as the UK, Israel and Japan, fight his wars, while the USA plays the role of the director of operations and paymaster.

The 11 September 2001 terrorist attack was used to double military spending in the US, and has only very slowly started to decline in response to the extreme war weariness of US citizens.

Hagel has admitted that the country no longer felt inclined to engage in the kind of long and costly operations it had mounted in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

The financial crisis is the secondary cause of a reduction in US defence spending, the primary cause is the massive opposition of the US workers to new military adventures.

On Monday, even Hagel noted the US military had come under pressure to downsize after two costly foreign wars.

He added: ‘Since we are no longer sizing the force for prolonged stability operations, an Army of this size is larger than required to meet the demands of our defence strategy.’

The Pentagon chief went on to unveil plans for cuts to military pay and benefits, including curbing housing allowances and limiting pay raises. The massive armaments remain!

Winslow Wheeler, a defence budget analyst has labelled the Hagel proposals and propaganda as just a heap of hype.

He said that even after the cuts in troop levels and the elimination of the A-10 and U-2 aeroplanes, overall military spending, including for the war in Afghanistan and on the US nuclear weapons programme, will remain near 2005 levels.

He revealed that level of spending is ‘scores of billions above what we spent during the Cold War when the threats were real and huge.’

Wheeler added: ‘We will be spending multiples of what China and Russia spend combined.’

In fact US defence spending at $600.4bn is greater than the next high spending 12 countries combined. China spends $112.2bn, Russia $68.2bn, Saudi Arabia $59.6bn, UK $57bn, France $52,4bn, Japan $51bn, Germany $44.2bn, India $36.3bn, Brazil $34.7bn, South Korea $31.8bn, Australia $26bn, and Italy $25.2bn.

US imperialism outguns all of them taken together!

No wonder US workers are demanding huge cuts in military spending, and for the money to be used to provide jobs at decent wages and homes and health care for all, at a time when dozens of great cities like Detroit are bankrupt and in ruins.

In fact the interests of US workers and youth demand that US imperialism is not just disarmed but overthrown to bring in a new society whose economy will be based not on fighting imperialist wars but in providing for people’s needs.

Pentagon chief proposes $115 billion increase in military spending: here.

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United States greatest threat to world peace, opinion poll says

This video from the USA says about itself:

19 March 2008

A panel discussion with economists Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes regarding their new book, “The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict.”

From Common Dreams in the USA:

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Biggest Threat to World Peace: The United States

International polls shows that world, including significant portion of Americans, deem US as greatest obstacle to peace

– Sarah Lazare, staff writer

Over 12 years into the so-called “Global War on Terror,” the United States appears to be striking terror into the hearts of the rest of the world.

In their annual End of Year survey, Win/Gallup International found that the United States is considered the number one “greatest threat to peace in the world today” by people across the globe.

The poll of 67,806 respondents from 65 countries found that the U.S. won this dubious distinction by a landslide, as revealed in the chart below.

Countries seen as threats to world peace

The BBC explains that the U.S. was deemed a threat by geopolitical allies as well as foes, including a significant portion of U.S. society.

Predictable in some areas (the Middle East and North Africa) but less so in others. Eastern Europe’s 32% figure may be heavily influenced by Russia and Ukraine, but across most of Western Europe there are also lots of figures in the high teens.

In the Americas themselves, decades of US meddling have left an awkward legacy. Its neighbours, Mexico (37%) and Canada (17%), clearly have issues. Even 13% of Americans see their own country as a danger.

Jail bankers, economist Stiglitz says

This video from the USA is called Joseph Stiglitz: “The Price of Inequality: How Today’s Divided Society Endangers our Future”.

By Ben Chu, The Independent daily in the UK:

Joseph Stiglitz: ‘Jail the Bankers’

07 July 2012

Joseph Stiglitz tells Ben Chu that rogue financiers have proven that regulation must get tougher.

Also See Below: Full Transcript of Interview

The Barclays Libor scandal may have shocked the British public, but Joseph Stiglitz saw it coming decades ago. And he’s convinced that jailing bankers is the best way to curb market abuses. A towering genius of economics, Stiglitz wrote a series of papers in the 1970s and 1980s explaining how when some individuals have access to privileged knowledge that others don’t, free markets yield bad outcomes for wider society. That insight (known as the theory of “asymmetric information”) won Stiglitz the Nobel Prize for economics in 2001.

And he has leveraged those credentials relentlessly ever since to batter at the walls of “free market fundamentalism.”

It is a crusade that has taken Stiglitz from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, to the Clinton White House, to the World Bank, to the Occupy Wall Street camp and now, to London, to promote his new book The Price of Inequality.

And kind fortune has engineered it so that Stiglitz’s UK trip has coincided with a perfect example of the repellent consequences of asymmetric information.

When traders working for Barclays rigged the Libor interest rate and flogged toxic financial derivatives – using their privileged position in the financial system to make profits at the expense of their customers – they were unwittingly proving Stiglitz right.

“It’s a textbook illustration,” Stiglitz said. “Where there are these asymmetries a lot of these activities are directed at rent seeking [appropriating resources from someone else rather than creating new wealth]. That was one of my original points. It wasn’t about productivity, it was taking advantage.”

Yet Stiglitz’s interest in the abuses of banks extends beyond the academic. He argues that breaking the economic and political power that has been amassed by the financial sector in recent decades, especially in the US and the UK, is essential if we are to build a more just and prosperous society. The first step, he says, is sending some bankers to jail. “That ought to change. That means legislation. Banks and others have engaged in rent seeking, creating inequality, ripping off other people, and none of them have gone to jail.”

Next, politicians need to stop spending so much time listening to the financial lobby, which, according to Stiglitz, demonstrates its spectacular economic ignorance whenever it claims that curbs on banks’ activities will damage the broader economy.

“How Inequality undermines Economies” by NewsWatch: here.

Economist Stiglitz on inequality in the USA

This video from the USA is called Joseph Stiglitz – “Market Fundamentalism Is Dead”.

Joseph E. Stiglitz | The Price of Inequality. Joseph E. Stiglitz, Project Syndicate: “America likes to think of itself as a land of opportunity, and others view it in much the same light. But, while we can all think of examples of Americans who rose to the top on their own, what really matters are the statistics … Nowadays, these numbers show that the American dream is a myth. There is less equality of opportunity in the United States today than there is in Europe – or, indeed, in any advanced industrial country for which there are data”: here.

A new study by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities details the explosive growth in income inequality throughout the United States over the past three decades. The report, entitled Pulling Apart, is unique in that it breaks down data regarding inequality to the state level, demonstrating that “the growth in income inequality since the late 1970s has not been a geographically isolated phenomenon”: here.

Capitalist crisis ‘causing war’, pro-capitalists admit

This video from the USA says about itself:

23 July 2012

Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz argues that U.S. combat in Afghanistan and Iraq helped trigger 2008’s economic collapse. According to Stiglitz, rises in oil prices, a culture of deregulation, and the housing bubble all stem from America’s war involvement.

From British daily The Morning Star:

Capitalist crisis ‘causing war

Tuesday 02 June 2009

by Tom Mellen

The recession creates the conditions for war

A pro-business think tank admitted today that the market meltdown is dragging the world into political instability and conflict.

Publishing its annual Global Peace Index, the Sydney-based Institute for Economics and Peace said that it had established a “clear correlation between the economic crisis and the decline in peace.”

It estimated the economic impact of lost peace on the global economy at $7.2 trillion (£4.3 trillion) per year, contending that $4.8 trillion (£2.9trillion) “would be value-added from business activities that never see the light of day due to violence.”

And a further $2.4 trillion (£1.46 trillion) “relates to the redeployment of resources and expenditure away from industries benefiting from violence to those that benefit from peace.”

Many of the indicators which the institute uses to measure “peacefulness” – a country’s murder rate or its level of military expenditure and the likelihood of violent demonstrations – deteriorated as the world economy crashed.

The report, which was prepared in conjunction with the neoliberal Economist Intelligence Unit, observed that “rapidly rising unemployment, pay freezes and falls in the value of house prices, savings and pensions is causing popular resentment in many countries, with political repercussions.”