Showing posts from October 12, 2014

Public Trust Has Dwindled With Rise in Income Inequality

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[An article I just came across from last month... *RON*]

Association for Psychological Science News, 4 September 2014

Trust in others and confidence in societal institutions are at their lowest point in over three decades, analyses of national survey data reveal. The findings are forthcoming in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

“Compared to Americans in the 1970s-2000s, Americans in the last few years are less likely to say they can trust others, and are less likely to believe that institutions such as government, the press, religious organizations, schools, and large corporations are ‘doing a good job,’” explains psychological scientist and lead researcher Jean M. Twenge of San Diego State University.

Twenge and colleagues W. Keith Campbell and Nathan Carter, both of the University of Georgia, found that as income inequality and poverty rose, public trust declined, indicating that socioeconomic factors…

Slumming It: The gospel of wealth comes for Dharavi

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[A great read: looking at Asia's largest slum through capitalism's rose-coloured glasses. *RON*]

Daniel Brook, The Baffler, No. 25, 2014
In a speech to the financial elite of India delivered in Mumbai in 2010, president Barack Obama opted for an unusual form of flattery. He saluted “all the Mumbaikars who get up every day in this City of Dreams to forge a better life for their children—from the boardrooms of world-class Indian companies to the shops in the winding alleys of Dharavi.” It was a notable name-check. Despite the president’s mangled pronunciation, his audience of well-heeled Mumbaikars all knew what Obama was talking about. Dharavi is their metropolis’s most famous slum.

Were Indian prime minister Narendra Modi to come to America and do the same—hail the impoverished workfare mothers of Anacostia while on a state visit to Washington, say, or give a shout-out to the tenants of Harlem’s housing projects during a speech on Wall Str…

Former NSA director had thousands personally invested in obscure tech firms

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["No conflicts appear to exist" among Keith Alexander's investments, NSA said. *RON*]

by Cyrus Farivar, Ars Technica, 11 October 2014
New financial disclosure documents released this month by the National Security Agency (NSA) show that Keith Alexander, who served as its director from August 2005 until March 2014, had thousands of dollars of investments during his tenure in a handful of technology firms.

Each year disclosed has a checked box next to this statement: "Reported financial interests or affiliations are unrelated to assigned or prospective duties, and no conflicts appear to exist."

Alexander repeatedly made the public case that the American public is at "greater risk" from a terrorist attack in the wake of the Snowden disclosures. Statements such as those could have a positive impact on the companies he was invested in, which could have eventually helped his personal bottom line.

The NSA did not immediate…

World economies warn of global risks, call for bold action

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[Germany stands alone against the International Monetary Fund: "Crisis - what crisis?". I like the story title - when did the global economy develop agency? See also Paul Krugman's Europanic 2.0, and The Telegraph's How an unstable eurozone could topple the world economy. *RON*]
By Krista Hughes and Leika Kihara,  / Yahoo Finance, 12 October 2014

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The International Monetary Fund's member countries on Saturday said bold action was needed to bolster the global economic recovery and they urged governments not to squelch growth by tightening budgets too drastically, although Germany poured cold water on the idea of a new global "crisis."

With Japan's economy floundering, the euro zone at risk of recession and even China's expansion slowing, the IMF's steering committee said focusing on growth was the priority.

"A number of countries face the prospect of low or slowing growth, wit…

Germany grapples with investment outflow as economy slows

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[German corporations are feeling the effects of an austerity-based economic downturn. "North America is now much more profitable than Germany. If you had told me five or 10 years ago that would happen, I would have told you: never ever." *RON*]

By Chris Bryant and Stefan Wagstyl, Financial Post, 12 October 2014
BASF, the world’s biggest chemical maker by sales, is in the middle of a big upgrade of its main production site near the river Rhine in Ludwigshafen.

But chief executive Kurt Bock says Germany’s relative share of BASF’s total investment is set to decline, in part because of comparatively lower growth expectations in Europe, but also as investment conditions are more attractive elsewhere.

This outflow of investment is causing angst among the German establishment about the country’s longer term prospects, at a time when Berlin confronts the prospect of a new recession amid a wider eurozone slowdown.

BASF is considering investing more…

‘Zero chance’ of protest success, says HK leader

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[Democratic reform, Chinese style. *RON*]

By Patti Waldmeir, Financial Times, 12 October 2014
CY Leung, Hong Kong’s embattled chief executive, reiterated his calls for pro-democracy protests to end as a campaign of civil disobedience in the Chinese territory entered its third week.

Speaking in a Sunday television interview, Mr Leung said there was “zero chance” that Beijing would meet protesters’ demands for a change in the procedure for nominating the territory’s chief executive, and rejected calls for his resignation. “I believe my stepping down will not solve the problem since [the protesters] are demanding the National People’s Congress to withdraw its decision and [introduce] civil nomination, which is impossible,” he said.

Mr Leung also defended his decision to accept a £4m payout from an Australian company, which he said involved a non-compete agreement rather than the delivery of any services.

The NPC decided in August that Beijing would in …

Stephen Harper Says Government Is Committed To Girls' Rights In Canada And Internationally

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[As long as they don't try to make any decisions about their own bodies. Oh, and unless they're Aboriginal, of course. *RON*]
By The Canadian Press / Huffington Post, 11 October 2014

OTTAWA - In a statement marking the International Day of the Girl Child, Prime Minister Stephen Harper says Canada is committed to giving girls a strong foundation to succeed in life.

Harper says the government is promoting the rights of girls in a number of ways, including initiatives that deter violence, sexual exploitation and cyber-crimes.

Internationally, Harper says Canada continues to make significant contributions by supporting efforts that promote access to education, nutrition and health services.

The prime minister says that in too many places around the globe, girls are still denied access to quality education, nutrition and health services.

And he calls Canada a global leader on maternal, newborn and child health.

Harper also says he's looking forw…

Economists’ long-held beliefs make income inequality worse

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[The currently popular view that wages are set by capital rationally shopping among its options is not supported by reality. "Now pay has fallen too long and too far. The resulting chasm today equally hobbles capitalism. We as a society must solve the matter because markets will not." *RON*]

By Jonathan Schlefer, The Boston Globe Opinion, 12 October 2014

Though many economists today are sounding the alarm over rising income inequality, one culprit somehow has been overlooked: their own wage theory.

Wage theory — one of the sacred truths of modern economics — suggests that competitive labor markets are self-regulating. Each worker is paid his or her productive worth. Unions, minimum wages, or any other interference — all just cause unemployment. Nearly all contemporary public policy is dictated by some version of this theory, but it simply no longer holds up.

Adam Smith, often called the father of classical economics, told a very different…