Wednesday, April 5, 2023

Holding The Wrong End

 Economic Anchors,

​  ​Considering the Collapse of Antiquity and the Bank Panic
(Michael Hudson's birthday  present to me​, extensively excerpted​.) Thanks Christine  
Danny Haiphong: Michael. I’m going to pull up — you have a new book that has recently released called “The Collapse of Antiquity: Greece and Rome as Civilization’s Oligarchic Turning Point”.​..​
​..​And there’s a lot of worry in the financial markets, among these large monopoly creditors. What is going on, and how does your book help us understand how we got to this place?
Michael Hudson: ​Well, what happened in Greece and Rome is very much like what is happening today. And there’s a common denominator in all of the Western Financial systems, debts grow by compound interest.
​  ​That is, any rate of interest has a doubling time. [Debts] sweep up steadily, and the real economy grows much more slowly, so that debts mount up without the economy being able to pay them and there’s a crash.
​  ​Well, before you had Greece and Rome, you had 3,000 years of Near Eastern civilization realizing this.
​  ​And periodically, every new ruler that would come to the throne in the Near East for thousands of years would simply wipe the slate clean of personal debts and start all over, in balance. Because they realized that if you didn’t cancel the debts, then you would have your citizens fall into bondage
and would have to work for their creditors and lose their land to foreclosing creditors. All the land would end up in the hands of just a few creditors who would usually overthrow the the government and try to take over.
​  ​Well, what made Greece and Rome and all subsequent societies, down to today’s United States, so different is they didn’t cancel the debts. They left the debts in place. And instead of having a ruler, or some central authority able to stop an oligarchy from developing and taking over and monopolizing all of the money and all the land, there wasn’t any central ruler.
​  ​This is usually called democracy.
But democracies for the last 2500 years have not been very good at being able to check the rise in credit or interest. And that’s why Aristotle said that many constitutions of the Greek states claim to be democratic but they were really oligarchic.
​  ​And Aristotle said, — Under democracy, creditors begin to make loans and the debtors can’t pay and the creditors get more and more money, and they end up turning a democracy into an oligarchy, and then the oligarchy makes itself hereditary, and you have an aristocracy.

​  ​And unless members of the aristocracy say, — Wait a minute, we’re bankrupting society, we’re reducing the whole society to poverty. Nobody’s going to fight for us anymore because they’re all in bondage.
​  ​Unless you have some member of the upper class or some family taking over, like Cleisthenes did in Athens in 506 BC, then you’re going to have what happened in Rome — a Dark Age.
​  ​And a Dark Age is when the creditors take over and reduce all the rest of the economy to bondage. Or today you call it “austerity” or “debt deflation”.

​  ​So what’s happening in the banking crisis today is that debts grow faster than the economy can pay. And so when the interest rates finally began to be raised by the Federal Reserve, this caused a crisis for the banks.
​  ​And the result is the Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) and the other banks that have gone under are just the tip of the iceberg.​..
..Whenever interest rates go up, this threatens banks with insolvency, because this is how the financial system is structured. The only hope of the financial system to avoid insolvency — which it did way back in 2008 — was for the Federal Reserve to flood the economy with credit and inflate the economy.
​  ​That’s what the Federal Reserve quantitative easing was all about. Low interest rates immediately raised the price of bonds, real estate, and stocks. And the Fed has said its job is to protect the banks by inflating the economy — inflating, not the economy really, but by inflating the asset markets, inflating the bond market, inflating the stock market...
​..​And we’re in the same kind of slow crash that you had in Greece and Rome and that you always have in almost any financialized economy where all the wealth is sucked up to the top, and there’s a transfer, not only of income, but of property — to the creditor class. And that’s what we’re having today.
​  ​The creditor class in the US is very much like the oligarchy in Greece and Rome or under feudalism, except that class today is no longer a landlord class, because rent is for paying interest and it’s a financial class, not a landlord class.
​  ​If you look at where all of this legal system came from that makes Western civilization so different from the rest of the world — well, it’s that Western civilization has a pro-creditor law that turns out to be a law that favors a minority at the top instead of trying to preserve all overall economic growth, which was the objective of economic takeoffs from the Bronze Age, Sumer, Babylonia, to the first millennium, to the Near East, to Asia, for almost every country outside of the West.​..
​.​.Today’s economic theory — it’s junk economics, basically. It imagines that the root of all inflation is labor wanting more wages, and the solution to any inflation — and in fact to any economic problem — is to pay labor less...
..So the result is that since 2008 home ownership rates have fallen in the United States from 58% or 59% in 2009 to where they are now, which is below 50%.
​​Less than half of Americans own their own homes, as a result of monopolists buying tens of thousands — millions — of homes as investment.
​  ​So the American economy is shifting, from a middle class economy, where people own their own homes, to an absentee-owned landlord-run economy, run by the landlords essentially borrowing from the banks in a kind of symbiotic relationship...
..Well, the real problem is that labor is making so little that it’s not able to buy the goods and services that it produces, because it has to pay higher mortgage costs, it has to pay higher credit card costs.
​  ​This week the Federal Reserve announced that the average credit card debt in the United States was $10,000. So the average credit card holder holds $10,000 in debt...
..When you wipe out the large deposits and the bank goes under, you wipe out debt. And what America needs — you could say what Western civilization has needed since Greece and Rome — is the kind of debt cancellation that kept Near Eastern economies growing for thousands of years before Rome took over the West...
..We have to monopolize all information technology so that now that we’ve deindustrialized the American economy, we can live without industry simply by monopoly rents. If we control the patents of information technology, and chemical patents, and the health patents for pharmaceuticals, then we can just live on our patent rights as if we’re landlords.
​  ​And in fact, monopoly rent, patent rent, and the rents from TikTok are very much like land rents. This was the whole point of Adam Smith and John Stuart Mill and David Ricardo in the 19th century warning against remaining a rentier economy...
..America has pulled a color revolution at the top, in Germany, Holland, England, and France, essentially, where the foreign policy of Europe is not representing their own economic interests. America simply said, — We are committed to support a war of (what they call) democracy (by which they mean oligarchy, including the Nazism of Ukraine) against autocracy.
​  ​Autocracy is any country strong enough to prevent the emergence of a creditor oligarchy, like China has prevented the creditor oligarchy.
​  ​Like Putin and Russia have been able to to check the kleptocrats that were sponsored by the United States in the 1990s and to say to the kleptocrats, — Well you can keep the money but you have to support pro-Russian policies, not simply sell out your oil to American companies to take over. Oil and natural resources are Russian companies. We’re not going to lose our national patrimony on that...
..So what he ​[Lavrov] explained in this article was that the mistake that Putin and the Russians made was I think a legacy of their Marxist materialist background. They thought that the politics of all countries was going to reflect the economic interests of their countries.
​  ​They couldn’t quite believe that Europe and other countries would support a policy that was directly against their economic interests, like refusing to buy Russian oil and gas, which meant ending the entire German steel industry, and the glass blowing industry, and the fertilizer industry, all of which required gas imports from Russia...
..You’re having countries essentially being driven out of the American Empire by the American policy of trying to have all-or-nothing...
​..The question is whether Trump and other Republicans are going to try to make the 2024 election precisely one of saying, — Well, if you’re for American prosperity, including employment for American wage earners, we’ve got to end the war economy.
​  ​Whereas the Democratic party said, — It’s worth cutting back Social Security here. It’s worth cutting back medical support, Medicaid and social spending in order to fight the war. Military spending is sacrosanct and the war is essentially what our State Department, our CIA, and the Federal Reserve, and Miss Yellen, is all about...
..Global South countries, especially Brazil — by the way, Lula is going early next month to China — they are in a squeeze today, especially now that the rise in the Federal Reserve’s interest rate has increased the dollar’s exchange rate.
​  ​All these Global South countries owe very heavy dollar debts. And they can’t afford to pay these dollar debts and at the same time pay more money for their imports of oil and gas and food. So what are they going to do?
​  ​Are they going to go without energy and turn off the lights and restrict their diets just so that they can pay foreign creditors? Or they’re not going to pay the foreign debts? ...
..Well you can see where all this is heading. At a certain point — we’re not there yet — but China will say, — Well, you owe a lot of dollar debts that are pushing you into austerity and pushing you into reliance on the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that is even more anti-labor than the Federal Reserve. You can deal with us and we’ll have our imports and we will have a mutually beneficial trade with you on easier credit terms that you can afford.
— We realize that if you trade with us, you’ll be sanctioned, just as countries that traded with Russia were sanctioned. So why don’t you trade with us — 75% of the world’s economy — instead of with the US and Europe dollar-euro bloc that’s only 15-25% of the economy. We’ll take care of you.​..​
..China says, — Well, we’ve organized our credit as equity. Our credit is basically for building ports, for building infrastructure that’s we’ve put in place that’s actually going to be earning an income for the countries. We’ve made productive loans.
​  ​The IMF loans, the World Bank loans, and similar bondholder loans are what’s called “odious debt” — they are debt that does not help the client countries
, the debtors, earn the money to pay the debt with the interest. And it’s debt that was negotiated by client oligarchies that were put in power and backed by the United States...
..So apart from a few vulture funds buying these debts at low prices, you have the domestic oligarchy — the domestic banking class, the financial class, the monopolist class, the old colonial class — owning this debt and, since they’re also the class that runs the central bank and indeed the government, they know they’re going to pay the foreign debt, because the foreign debt of Yankee dollars is paid to themselves.
​  The Brazilian ruling class is the recipient of the Yankee dollars. So at some point this debt crisis, certainly for countries like Brazil and I think Argentina also, are going to be involved, not necessarily a break simply with the US dollar, but with the domestic oligarchies that were client oligarchies of the United States...
​..​So you’re going to have what is not only a global fracture but it will finally be the domestic class war of socialism versus oligarchy, and that’s the wor​l​d that you had way back in Greece and Rome. That’s why it’s worthwhile seeing that all of these strains occurred long before. They’ve occurred again and again...
​..​In fact, the oligarchy almost always won by violence, and that’s certainly been the case in Brazil. I remember back in 1964 I met with Brazil’s former president I think Kubitschek, who had just been overthrown, who told me and a few others who were with me the story of what had happened and said, — You have to live with it, because America controls who’s in control of Latin America.
​  ​It’s its backyard, and it only trusts dictators.
It doesn’t trust democratically elected leaders, because America is frightened that a democratically elected leader might represent the voters who elected him, instead of the little US Embassy with envelopes stuffed full of dollars [for bribery], and the army trained in the United States to overthrow democratic leaders​..​.
..Since the epoch of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan in the 1980s, the wealthy class in the United States — the 10% — found that it could make much more money by financial means than by industrial mains.
​  ​And in fact, the corporate employers found they could increase profits not by lowering wages in the United States, but by simply moving their production facilities to China and other countries in Asia and producing at lower wages.
​  ​So the whole idea of free trade, especially under the Clintons after 1990, was an attempt to replace American industrial labor with Asian and other industrial labor, including the maquiladoras along the border with Mexico.
​  ​Maquiladoras were factories put just over the border to get low-price non-unionized labor, Mexican labor, as opposed to American labor.
​  ​So you had a decision led by the Democratic party to replace American labor with less expensive foreign labor, and under Clinton also to deregulate the financial sector and essentially turn what was a traditional commercial banking sector into a brokerage house sector, into financial gambling on derivatives, financial stock purchases, buying and selling companies...
​.​.So now you have a critical mass of countries, 75-85% of the world’s population, saying, — Wait a minute, if we’re producing all of the industrial products and raw materials that make industrial products, what do we need the dollar American and European rentiers for?​ ...​
..Well, the United States and Europe say, — Our role is to refrain from bombing you. Our role is not to treat you like we’ve treated Libya and Iraq and Syria. We can offer you not-bombing-you like we did in these countries...
​..It’s not only China, it’s Russia. Saudi Arabia for years, what it wanted more than anything else from the United States was military arms, especially when its Sunni leadership was thinking of military war with Shiite Iran.
​  ​So the one thing that Saudi Arabia did depend on United States industry for was armaments, airplanes especially. In the last few months, Saudi Arabia has begun to buy arms from Russia. You can imagine how this has upset the American military industrial complex, because this was where America was making enormous monopoly rents off its high-priced armaments...
..You can see what was happening with Saudi Arabia. [Their thought process is], — America’s always really wanted to control our oil industry and it’s always been threatening that it’ll become our enemy if we make peace with Iran. Well, we want to make peace with Iran because otherwise Iran may blow up our oil fields, and they may sink a ship in the [Strait] of Hormuz and prevent our exports from occurring.
​  ​The Saudi Arabians are deciding, you never want to put all your eggs in one basket. They’re diversifying, and that includes Russia...
..But your real question I think was about why China pulled ahead, and not the United States.
​  ​China is pulling ahead by doing exactly what the United States was doing in the late 19th century. It’s pulled ahead by using an active government sector to subsidize basic needs...this was all spelled out by the first professor of economics at the first business school in the United States, Simon Patten, who taught at the University of Pennsylvania.
​  ​He said, — The United States emphasizes a fourth factor of production besides labor, land, and capital, and that is public infrastructure spending. The Erie Canal has made possible the grain exports of the midwestern grain coming into upstate New York into the east coast.
​ ​He said that public railroads, public education, public health, all of this, the role of government infrastructure is to lower the cost of living by providing basic needs like education, healthcare, a job, freely or at least at a subsidized cost.
​  ​Well, this is what made American industry able to undersell industries that did not have as rapid or as well-developed a public sector in Europe.

​  ​Well, since Reagan and Thatcher privatized the public sector, now you have the public sector trying to make profit.​..​
..You had the privatization and carve up and break up of the public sector in the United States. The costs went way up. That’s why privatized healthcare in the United States absorbs 18% of GDP. Whereas, even in conservative England in the 19th century Benjamin Disraeli, the Conservative prime minister, said, “Health, all is health”, and wanted to provide healthcare. After World War II, Britain’s National Health Service was a model for the whole rest of the world...
​..​China has not only kept basic infrastructure in the public domain, but it’s kept the most important utility in the public domain: banking.
  ​You have the Bank of China creating the credit. The function of the Bank of China is not to create public credit for take-over loans to take over companies, break them up, and reduce employment. It’s to help the economy grow...
​..And that’s what the United States calls “autocracy” and says China is an autocracy because it has public banking instead of leaving it in private hands to do to China what our banks have done to the American economy...
​..​Democracies abolish the infrastructure, privatize it, usually selling it off to American or European buyers, and say that, — There’s no such thing as a basic human need. Land can be a commodity to make financial gains from by charging rent that people have to borrow money to buy.
​  ​[Democracies say,] — There’s no such thing as a public need. Health is not a basic right. It’s a monopoly opportunity for pharmaceutical companies and health insurance companies to make enormous gains. Having a job is not a public right. Losing a job is a right of the financial and corporate class to create enough unemployment to keep wages down so the profits ostensibly can go up.
​  ​So basically, a democracy is a country that lives in the short run for privatized financial gains and an autocracy takes long run planning into account and keeps planning in the democratically-elected sector, not in the hands of the financial centers such as Wall Street, Paris, the city of London, or other other banking centers...
​..​The IMF loan to Ukraine gives the Global South countries immediate reason to annul all debts owed to the IMF and the World Bank as agents of the US subversion of their countries, giving them loans on conditions that instead of helping them repay the debt, they impose austerity programs that actually prevent IMF clients from repaying their debts...

To Fight the State, Build Alternatives to the State​   Forwarded by Charles Hugh Smith.
 ​Thus, if we are meaningfully oppose state power, it is necessary to encourage, grow, and sustain institutions and organization over which states cannot so easily roll their enormous weight. When people support a local parish, raise a family, build a business, create mutual aid organizations, or foster local civic independence, they are doing work that is absolutely critical to fighting state power. While it is always good to speak ill of state power—and to oppose its countless violent and impoverishing grifts—this is not enough. We must also speak well of nonstate institutions and strengthen them in our daily work and daily lives. Without these institutions of kinship, religion, markets, and towns, nonstate society will be irrelevant.
​  ​Mere opposition to the state—without viable private or local alternatives—will never be sufficient. People want services like education and help for widows, orphans, and the disabled. They want safety, a sense of community, and solidarity with others. These benefits of society do not require states, but they do require institutions. Yet these institutions in our own time as so reduced as to offer little as alternatives to the state.

  ​Meryl Nass MD: ​Why Legislators Should Reject the WHO’s Proposals for Pandemics/ David Bell, MBBS, PhD
a wonderful summary of what is being proposed through the WHO to wrest sovereignty from the human population under the guise of public health

​  Charles also found this useful health information:  
​  ​Effective management of atherosclerosis progress and hyperlipidemia with nattokinase: A clinical study with 1,062 participants
​  ​Nattokinase (NK), known as a potent fibrinolytic and antithrombotic agent, has been shown to have antiatherosclerotic and lipid-lowering effects. However, data on human clinical studies are limited. In this clinical study involving 1,062 participants, our objective was to examine the efficacy of NK in atherosclerosis and hyperlipidemia and safety at the dose of 10,800 FU/day after 12 months of oral administration. Various factors, including lower doses that influence NK pharmacological actions, were also investigated. 
​  ​We found that NK at a dose of 10,800 FU/day effectively managed the progression of atherosclerosis and hyperlipidemia with a significant improvement in the lipid profile. A significant reduction in the thickness of the carotid artery intima-media and the size of the carotid plaque was observed. The improvement rates ranged from 66.5 to 95.4%. NK was found to be ineffective in lowering lipids and suppressing atherosclerosis progression at a dose of 3,600 FU/day. The lipid-lowering effect of NK was more prominent in subjects who smoked, drank alcohol, and subjects with higher BMI. Regular exercise further improved the effects of NK. Co-administration of vitamin K2 and aspirin with NK produced a synergetic effect. No noticeable adverse effects associated with the use of NK were recorded. 
​  ​In conclusion, our data demonstrate that atherosclerosis progression and hyperlipidemia can be effectively managed with NK at a dose of 10,800 FU/day. The lower dose of 3,600 FU per day is ineffective. The dose of 10,800 FU/day is safe and well tolerated. ​ ​Some lifestyle factors and the coadministration of vitamin K2 and aspirin lead to improved outcomes in the use of NK.

​  Also from Charles... 
​  ​Following a radically successful trial on cancer patients, a new blood test that promises to predict tumors more than a year before they begin to form is now being applied in hospitals across the United Kingdom.
“This is the first pan-cancer blood test,” said Ashish Tripathi, founder and CEO of Tzar Labs as well as chairman of Epigeneres Biotech, the Indian firm where the test was first developed in 2021. An updated report on their findings was published this month in the journal Stem Cells.
“We can detect [cancer] earlier than other known technologies … before the tumor has physically formed,” Tripathi continued during a new interview with author and medical advocate Deepak Chopra.
“Not only can I actually detect it at this stage — I can actually tell you which cancer and where it is forming, straight from a blood test.”​...​
..In a trial of 1,000 participants — 500 non-cancer and 500 cancer patients — researchers were able to accurately anticipate the formation of tumors across at least 25 types of cancer, including all of the most prevalent and deadly varieties, such as breast, pancreatic, lung and colorectal. Even some participants within the presumed “non-cancer” group were found to have a predisposition for future cancer diagnosis.
​  ​“We did not get even one false negative, not even one false positive,” Tripathi noted...

..Despite the numerous blood-based cancer screening methods that have recently been in development, Tripathi’s team’s approach differs by zeroing in on stem cells with a biomarker for cancer, as opposed to searching for full-blown tumor cells that may already be present. This allows them to determine whether cancer is on the horizon well before those cells have progressed to form a tumor.

​  Charles also sent this compelling explanation of the meaning of life. It is succinct:
​  ​Yes to Life, in Spite of Everything: Viktor Frankl’s Lost Lectures on Moving Beyond Optimism and Pessimism to Find the Deepest Source of Meaning
​  ​The young Viennese neurologist and psychiatrist Viktor Frankl (March 26, 1905–September 2, 1997) was taken to Auschwitz along with more than a million human beings robbed of the basic right to answer this question for themselves, instead deemed unworthy of living. Some survived by reading. Some through humor. Some by pure chance. Most did not. Frankl lost his mother, his father, and his brother to the mass murder in the concentration camps. His own life was spared by the tightly braided lifeline of chance, choice, and character.

​Embracing Life and Health (pictured by the flowering bush beans)​


  1. Thanks for finding and pub
    I always wondered how previous civilizations were able to last so long.

    1. I often feel compeleed to spend the hours going through Michael Hudson's interviews and excerpting them for brevity and clarity, which makes it easier to get the important core of what he is explaining.