Archive for September 26th, 2012

The Pope on Redistribution

About the worst charge that the Right in this country can hurl at anyone is that they are in favor of “redistribution”. It’s a dirty word, and even Catholic conservatives join in the derision. But in truth, redistribution is an essential component of economic justice. Here is Benedict XVI, from his encyclical Veritas in Caritate:

32. Lowering the level of protection accorded to the rights of workers, or abandoning mechanisms of wealth redistribution in order to increase the country’s international competitiveness, hinder the achievement of lasting development. Moreover, the human consequences of current tendencies towards a short-term economy — sometimes very short-term — need to be carefully evaluated. This requires further and deeper reflection on the meaning of the economy and its goals,as well as a profound and far-sighted revision of the current model of development, so as to correct its dysfunctions and deviations.

36. Economic activity cannot solve all social problems through the simple application of commercial logic. This needs to be directed towards the pursuit of the common good, for which the political community in particular must also take responsibility. Therefore, it must be borne in mind that grave imbalances are produced when economic action, conceived merely as an engine for wealth creation, is detached from political action, conceived as a means for pursuing justice through redistribution.

37. Economic life undoubtedly requires contracts, in order to regulate relations of exchange between goods of equivalent value. But it also needs just laws and forms of redistribution governed by politics, and what is more, it needs works redolent of the spirit of gift. The economy in the global era seems to privilege the former logic, that of contractual exchange, but directly or indirectly it also demonstrates its need for the other two: political logic, and the logic of the unconditional gift.

39. Paul VI in Populorum Progressio called for the creation of a model of market economy capable of including within its range all peoples and not just the better off. He called for efforts to build a more human world for all, a world in which “all will be able to give and receive, without one group making progress at the expense of the other.” In this way he was applying on a global scale the insights and aspirations contained in Rerum Novarum, written when, as a result of the Industrial Revolution, the idea was first proposed — somewhat ahead of its time — that the civil order, for its self-regulation, also needed intervention from the State for purposes of redistribution.

42. The processes of globalization, suitably understood and directed, open up the unprecedented possibility of large-scale redistribution of wealth on a world-wide scale; if badly directed, however, they can lead to an increase in poverty and inequality, and could even trigger a global crisis. It is necessary to correct the malfunctions, some of them serious, that cause new divisions between peoples and within peoples, and also to ensure that the redistribution of wealth does not come about through the redistribution or increase of poverty: a real danger if the present situation were to be badly managed. For a long time it was thought that poor peoples should remain at a fixed stage of development, and should be content to receive assistance from the philanthropy of developed peoples. Paul VI strongly opposed this mentality in Populorum Progressio. Today the material resources available for rescuing these peoples from poverty are potentially greater than before, but they have ended up largely in the hands of people from developed countries, who have benefited more from the liberalization that has occurred in the mobility of capital and labour. The world-wide diffusion of forms of prosperity should not therefore be held up by projects that are self-centred, protectionist or at the service of private interests. Indeed the involvement of emerging or developing countries allows us to manage the crisis better today. The transition inherent in the process of globalization presents great difficulties and dangers that can only be overcome if we are able to appropriate the underlying anthropological and ethical spirit that drives globalization towards the humanizing goal of solidarity. Unfortunately this spirit is often overwhelmed or suppressed by ethical and cultural considerations of an individualistic and utilitarian nature.

49. What is also needed, though, is a worldwide redistribution of energy resources, so that countries lacking those resources can have access to them. The fate of those countries cannot be left in the hands of whoever is first to claim the spoils, or whoever is able to prevail over the rest.

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Visualize Derivatives

Millions, billions, trillions. These words buzz around us but few have any idea of just what they really mean; the eyes glaze over. The folks at Demonocracy have done us all a favor by giving us images of just what those numbers are:

SHORT STORY: Pick something of value, make bets on the future value of “something”, add contract & you have a derivative.
Banks make massive profits on derivatives, and when the bubble bursts chances are the tax payer will end up with the bill.
This visualizes the total coverage for derivatives (notional). Similar to insurance company’s total coverage for all cars.

LONG STORY: A derivative is a legal bet (contract) that derives its value from another asset, such as the future or current value of oil, government bonds or anything else. Ex- A derivative buys you the option (but not obligation) to buy oil in 6 months for today’s price/any agreed price, hoping that oil will cost more in future. (I’ll bet you it’ll cost more in 6 months). Derivative can also be used as insurance, betting that a loan will or won’t default before a given date. So its a big betting system, like a Casino, but instead of betting on cards and roulette, you bet on future values and performance of practically anything that holds value. The system is not regulated what-so-ever, and you can buy a derivative on an existing derivative.

Most large banks try to prevent smaller investors from gaining access to the derivative market on the basis of there being too much risk. Deriv. market has blown a galactic bubble, just like the real estate bubble or stock market bubble (that’s going on right now). Since there is literally no economist in the world that knows exactly how the derivative money flows or how the system works, while derivatives are traded in microseconds by computers, we really don’t know what will trigger the crash, or when it will happen, but considering the global financial crisis this system is in for tough times, that will be catastrophic for the world financial system since the 9 largest banks shown below hold a total of $228.72 trillion in Derivatives – Approximately 3 times the entire world economy. No government in world has money for this bailout. Lets take a look at what banks have the biggest Derivative Exposures and what scandals they’ve been lately involved in. Derivative Data Source: ZeroHedge.

1 Million, 100 Million, 1 Billion, 1 Trillion

One Hundred Dollars
$100 – Most counterfeited money denomination in the world.
Keeps the world moving.
Ten Thousand Dollars
$10,000 – Enough for a great vacation or to buy a used car.
Approximately one year of work for the average human on earth.
100 Million Dollars
$100,000,000 – Plenty to go around for
everyone. Fits nicely on an ISO / Military
standard sized pallet.

$1 Million is the cash square on the floor.

1 Billion Dollars
$1,000,000,000 – This is how a billion dollars looks like.
10 pallets of $100 bills.

1 Trillion Dollars
$1,000,000,000,000 – When they throw around the word “Trillion” like it is nothing, this is the reality of $1 trillion dollars. The square of pallets to the right is $10 billion dollars. 100x that and you have the tower of $1 trillion that is 465 feet tall (142 meters).

$2 Billion on Truck

Demonocracy.info - $100,000,000 - One Hundred Million Dollars

$100 Million Dollars = 1 year of work for 3500 average Americans
It takes 3500 Americans 1 year of work to make $100 Million dollars. The 155 million Americans who worked with earnings in 2005 on average made $28,567 / year.

In front of the 3500 people is the $100 Million pallet that they all have to work for 1 year to earn.
Look carefully to see a stack of $1 Million and the 35 average Americans required to earn that $1 Million in 1 year.

Bank of New York Mellon - Derivative Exposure

Bank of New York Mellon
BNY has a derivative exposure of $1.375 Trillion dollars.
Considered a too big to fail (TBTF) bank. It is currently facing (among others) lawsuits fraud and contract breach suits by a Los Angeles pension fund and New York pension funds, where BNY Mellon allegedly overcharged the funds on many millions of dollars and concealed it.

To see what the other Big Banks are “worth“: http://demonocracy.info/infographics/usa/derivatives/bank_exposure.html

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