May 262017

Banksters: Index

EMAIL THREAD, edited for brevity

SENT:   May 24

TO:  Janet

Thanks for the Larry Summers re Chrystia Freeland (Cdn Minister of Foreign Affairs) connection.

Sources:  I found Summers listed as one of Freeland’s  “friends in high places”.  He is a booted-out (controversial) President of Harvard,  she a graduate of Harvard.   Details below – – Summers’ role with the Wall Street robber barons.

New York Times supplies the student – professor relationship,

Chrystia Freeland, a former student (of Summers) who had become editor at the Financial Times, asked him to write a monthly column that became such an attraction that the paper soon promoted it with his picture atop the front page. . . .

Freeland was a journalist and has interviewed Summers a few times since 2007-08  (I had a quick look at only one video of interview – – the little I saw would have been conducive to “friendly relationship” – – no hard questions regarding Summers’ role, as a civil servant under Obama, in protecting Wall Street over Main Street.  And the millions he made from the Wall Street barons.

Maybe she didn’t know (excerpt from below):  Upon being nominated Treasury Secretary by President Clinton in 1999, Summers listed assets of about $900,000 and debts, including a mortgage, of $500,000.[57]   By the time he returned in 2009 to serve in the Obama administration, he reported a net worth between $17 million and $39 million.[57] He is a former member of the Steering Committee of the Bilderberg Group.[59]


There are  Larry Summers – Dominic Barton connections, too (below).  (Barton, head of McKinsey Co. based in London UK, appointed by Finance Minister Bill Morneau, to head up the Advisory Committee on Economic Growth to the Federal Govt.

My view on Summers remains the same, after doing a second review of the documentation:

he didn’t have an epiphany.   He’s part of the “Inclusive Capitalism Initiative“.    It’s not about change – – it’s about propaganda, after 2007-08 and the continuing excesses.

They are “re-branding” capitalism,  because of growing anti-capitalism.

There are links below to Summers’ role in deregulation of the banking and derivatives market.  He was advising the President.   Later – – don’t put caps on pay for executives who received Government bail-out money.  What a joke – – Summers was simultaneously making millions from the crooks:  Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Merrill Lynch and Lehman Brothers.

Larry Summers is corrupt (I don’t know what else you call such profound conflict-of-interest).  He provided bad advice to the U.S. Government that was of huge benefit to the crooks on Wall Street and in high places in the U.S..  He manifests the problem with “Wall Street” and the outrages leading up to and following 2007-08.  He enriched himself by being a courtier.  He is slippery, or his brain blows with the wind.  Get him out of Canadian affairs.

Everyday Canadians know the old adage, “You judge a person by the company he keeps”.

There are a few very good cabinet ministers in the current Liberal cabinet.   It’s a shame that ministers like Bill Morneau (Finance) and Freeland (Foreign Affairs) can drag them down, too.

Morneau appointed Dominic Barton to head up the Advisory Committee on Economic Growth.   Freeland is the rah-rah for Summers and for Trade deals that hand over control of the Canadian banking, investment, and financial industries to the international cartels.

To me, you don’t have to be too bright to have figured out on your own:  Once a nation parts with control of its currency and credit, it matters not who makes that nation’s laws  (quoted from a former Canadian prime minister in the COMER material submitted to court – – see below). 

Morneau and Freeland have the potential to take down their cabinet colleagues, the good along with the bad (damn the fact that elected representatives are also tied to a political party!).

Thank goodness for Beyond Banksters and the appetite with which Canadians are devouring it.

Remind ourselves to look abroad:  with corruption of governance comes poverty

Larry Summers and Dominic Barton, Bill Morneau, Chrystia Freeland  are a corrupting force when married to the Government.  Summers makes that clear.  They are in very serious conflicts-of-interest.  They represent the interests of the millionaires and billionaires, unabashedly.  But you have to cut through the snake oil to see it.

You have only to observe, you don’t need a book to explain it.  But there IS a great little book on the topic!  In the past, I’ve posted re Jane Jacobs’  Systems of Survival:  A Dialogue on the Moral Foundations of Commerce and Politics.  

And  Ha! ha!   In every copy of Banksters that I sent out, I inscribed,  Oh!  Canada!  We stand on guard for thieves!


Summers was brought in to help the Liberals develop economic strategy, in advance of the 2015 Federal Election.   Mental puzzle:  figure out WHY they would employ someone like Summers.  (It’s not hard to see that the people who Prime Minister J. Trudeau (the Liberal Party) surrounds himself with, especially in the Power Portfolios that involve economic matters,  will be their downfall – –  OR their salvation.)

The ANSWER (why would they even touch someone like Summers?), I think, is along these lines:   Pre-election, the Liberal Party was driven by “How do we beat the Conservatives?”.   They believed that their weak spot was economic policy.  Then comes fear – – the Conservatives were seen to be able to beat them on that issue.   (OR,  the Big-Business-Old-Boys in the Liberal Party run to the same tune as the Big-Business-Old-Boys in the Conservative Party – – and both embrace charlatans like Summers – – basically pimps for “Wall Street”.  Larry Summers and Dominic Barton chicanery delivers!   Re-branding – – “Inclusive Capitalism”.

THEY DON’T MENTION THE OTHER SIDE OF THE DEAL:  “the deal” for Canadians – –   we give away Canada, final nail in the coffin.   No longer a sovereign nation (to the extent we haven’t already reached that status).   No question left.    Once a nation parts with control of its currency and credit, it matters not who makes that nation’s laws.

The Liberals addressed the wrong question to the wrong people.   We were driven by the same question:  “How do we get rid of Harper?”.   Now we have to fight “the Old Boys”.   Hard.  They’ve globalized.    But we globalized, too.   And there’s way more of us than them.

But back to the evidence on Summers:

Scroll down, down – – see excerpts from FOUR EARLIER POSTINGS RE SUMMERS.

In 2009 John McMurtry alerted us to Summers’ role at Harvard.   (To this day, Summers rides on the “credentialing” that comes with having been a President of Harvard University (and other “prestigious” positions).  The fact that he got the boot from Harvard, and WHY he got the boot are trivialized – – it was just a backlash by feminists, his statements taken out of context, etc.   The fraud committed by his friend in the Economics Dept is not mentioned.  The fraud was such that the Government of the USA brought charges against Harvard University.  The settlement involved Harvard paying a fine of $26 million.

The apologists for Summers might tire?

  • I don’t know exactly how you apologize for first, his role in the de-regulation of the banking and investment industries, of derivatives – –  which contributed to the 2007-08 meltdown in which millions of Americans lost their homes – – then his role in “don’t put a cap on the remuneration paid to the Management” of the Corporations that received HUGE bail-outs, paid by the citizens on Main Street   – – while he receives millions from the same corporations.   You apologize for that whopper.  Then
  • A few years later,  you find yourself again making up fantasies about Summers – – this time over his departure from the position of President of Harvard.
  • What next?
  • Or, does it matter to an apologist – – as long as you’re riding the same wave as Summers?   And you think you’re money, as long as you’re rubbing shoulders with money.  – –  If the re-branding doesn’t work, if  the forces against “capitalism” in its current incarnation, are successful,  well then, the conflicts-of-interest, the corruption are threatened.  In-my-interest might be replaced by in-the-public-interest.  None of them want to be knocked off the wave.  . . .   Question is:  do we have the intelligence to see through the spin of the “new” “Inclusive Capitalism”?

Back to John McMurtry’s paper (2009)

(Sales pitches metamorphize reality into miracles of more value added in the market, and money sequences leave ever more money in the hands of money managers. This magical thinking is, of course, the very opposite of the search for truth. But the mind has become totalitarian.  . . . (more below))

– – I had forgotten the Summers name.  In 2012 it re-surfaced when his role in the Corruption on Wall Street, the 2007-08 meltdown and failure to prosecute the perpetrators came up in the movie, Inside Job.   . . .  THIS is the guy advising Canadians on Economic Policy?   Ya gotta be kidding.

Larry Summers and Dominic Barton (McKinsey Co.) are closely connected.

You may have read what Barton counsels business leaders – – what they have to do.   If they don’t “reform” capitalism they’re going to lose their grip on things.   Deny, deny, deny  is not going to work any longer.  Barton is seen as a guru because he’s calling things the way they are.   They have to do (the “remedy” for addressing all the anti-capitalism) —   “inclusive capitalism”.   (The Pope condemned the “exclusion” that the existing economic system engenders.)

A conference in London aimed at addressing some of capitalism’s shortfalls has been organised by the “Inclusive Capitalism Initiative” (ICI), convened by a senior member of one of the world’s leading financial-capitalist dynasties, Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild.

Dominic Barton is a co-founder of the ICI.

This other report names some of the “Big Business” participants:

2014-06-03   ICI (“inclusive capitalism initiative) Christine Lagarde, Mark Carney wouldn’t take a pay cut, so why talk up inequality?   Financial Post

Google, Unilever, GlaxoSmithKline, Dow Chemical and Prudential PLC

Note:  I think many people overlook the role of the Insurance Industry – – they are a significant part of the global cartel that is actively engaged in taking over financial infrastructure of countries.   So yes,  it is not a surprise to see Prudential among the ICI participants.

(Wikipedia:  Prudential plc is a British multinational life insurance and financial services company headquartered in London, United Kingdom. . . .  It owns Jackson National Life Insurance Company, which is one of the largest life insurance providers in the United States, and M&G Investments, a Europe-focused asset manager.[6]  . . . Products:  Life insurance, Investment management,  Consumer finance (loans).   It’s revenue (2016):  71.84 billion pounds (not dollars).

I was alarmed at how much Canada appears to be a target of “the banksters”.   Rothschild (organizer, promoter of ICI), Barton (co-founder), Summers – –   ICI.   Now we have:

  • Barton heading up the Advisory Committee on Economic Growth to the Fed’l Govt
  • Summers consulting with the Advisory Committee
  • You wrote re Summers … he became an advisor to the Trudeau economic polices i.e.  spend our way out of recession a sort of Keynesian approach.   Here’s a source,  Liberals heart Larry Summers , by Konrad Yakabuski, The Globe and Mail, Apr. 09, 2015:

    Will the Liberals live to rue their love-in with Larry Summers? 

    The former U.S. treasury secretary (under Bill Clinton) and top White House economic adviser (under Barack Obama) has become the go-to guru as Justin Trudeau’s Liberals look to craft a crackerjack election platform that can undo the seeming Tory advantage on the economy. 

    Mr. Summers, who was the keynote speaker at the Liberal Party convention in 2014, was back in Canada this week to offer his theories about why economies in the West have been growing so slowly and what he thinks they need to do about it.  He dubbed his talk: The Fierce Urgency of Fixing Economic Inequality Worldwide . . . . “

    So Summers sounds good.   Maybe he believes his own rhetoric.  That does not matter.  What they are actually DOING does matter.   Whether they, or I, am merely poor misled dupes is not the issue.   If there are fundamental flaws, they need to be known.

    Summers rides on his “credentials”.   But they are hollow:

    Why Women are Poor at Science, by Harvard President,  the Guardian, Jan 18. 2005.      (Warning:  this link will take you off my blog and the “back arrow” doesn’t bring you back.   I have to try and copy the article onto my blog; the technology to prevent copying is more and more pervasive.)

    Why Larry Summers lost the presidency of Harvard    (blogger argues that it wasn’t so much Summers’ problems with women and Afro-Americans, but the scandal under which Harvard was required to pay $26.5 million to the U.S. government).  There are links in the article to more information.

    Summers’ service to the Wall Street Crooks,  excerpt from Wikipedia:

    On October 19, 2006, Summers was hired as a part-time managing director of the New York-based hedge fund D. E. Shaw & Co. for which he received $5 million in salary and other compensation over a 16-month period.[55] At the same time Summers earned $2.8 million in speaking fees from major financial institutions,[56][57] including Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Merrill Lynch and Lehman Brothers.[58] Upon being nominated Treasury Secretary by President Clinton in 1999, Summers listed assets of about $900,000 and debts, including a mortgage, of $500,000.[57] By the time he returned in 2009 to serve in the Obama administration, he reported a net worth between $17 million and $39 million.[57] He is a former member of the Steering Committee of the Bilderberg Group.[59]

    . . .   According to the Wall Street Journal, Summers called Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) asking him to remove caps on executive pay at firms that have received stimulus money, including Citigroup.[69]

    . . .   On April 3, 2009 Summers came under renewed criticism after it was disclosed that he was paid millions of dollars the previous year by companies which he now has influence over as a public servant. He earned $5 million from the hedge fund D. E. Shaw, and collected $2.7 million in speaking fees from Wall Street companies that received government bailout money.[70]

    . . .   Summers hailed the Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act in 1999, which lifted more than six decades of restrictions against banks offering commercial banking, insurance, and investment services (by repealing key provisions in the 1933 Glass–Steagall Act): “Today Congress voted to update the rules that have governed financial services since the Great Depression and replace them with a system for the 21st century,” Summers said.[26] “This historic legislation will better enable American companies to compete in the new economy.”[26] Many critics, including President Barack Obama, have suggested the 2007 subprime mortgage financial crisis was caused by the partial repeal of the 1933 Glass–Steagall Act.[27] Indeed, as a member of President Clinton’s Working Group on Financial Markets, Summers, along with U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman Arthur Levitt, Fed Chairman Greenspan, and Secretary Rubin, torpedoed an effort to regulate the derivatives that many blame for bringing the financial market down in Fall 2008.[28]

I haven’t made time to go through the COMER website (the lawsuit to enforce Canadian law – –  the Bank of Canada, a publicly-owned central bank whose mandate is to lend to Governments at minimal interest rates).    Just this one posting – – very worthwhile.

2013-12-10   COMER, on our behalf. Read the “Relevant Quotations”.  “Once a nation parts with control of its currency and credit, it matters not who makes that nation’s laws. . . .”

CPPIB (Canada Pension Plan Investment Board)

Public pensions are a big part of the “remedy”.   Think how much money is in them.  They’re taking them over.  It’s part of the game plan:

Social Security” is the American version of the CPP.   Beyond Banksters, Chapter 13,  Hillary, Larry & Dominic:  More Looting Opportunities  lays it out.  What they’re doing to the U.S. (Social Security), they’re doing to Canada (CPP and other pension plans).

Pension plans going bankrupt.  Last fall I talked with a member of the Atlantic middle coastal area of the U.S. Teamsters Union, retired guy.  He became involved in the Union Administration to help combat  corruption in the organization, ended up being there many years.   Fall-out from the corruption on Wall Street (the 2007-08 collapse and bail-out of the big banks responsible)  – – the Union Pension Plan, supposed to support workers through their retirement, is good for another 6 years.   That’s all.   And,  there had been Government money put in a fund to guard against pension plan failure,  but it too, is caput.   Drained, gone.   While the banksters laugh their way, scot-free, millions in bonuses, bailed out by the Government, not even prosecutions.

(CPP Board of Directors:

To me, their agenda is:  Put a new face on capitalism.  “Re-brand” it.

BUT things get worse for citizens – – the Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB) is an important case-in-point.

How do we finance $180 billion in infrastructure spending?

  • First, generate some cash – – do that by selling off public assets  (at a fraction of what they’re worth.   The buzz word for it is “asset recycling”.   Of course, the only assets that get “recycled” (privatized) are the profitable ones.)
  • Then you do “partnerships” on other infrastructure.  Which means the Government has zero ability to regulate.
  • And then you Borrow, Big Time.   Debt servitude.   Canada does not have the population base to pay enough taxes to get ahead of the interest and servicing charges.   We have one tenth of the population of the U.S.    But that’s part of the “junk economics” of the day – – economic theories with no base in reality.

Trade deals – – publicly owned central banks are outlawed.   We are at the mercy of the international financial boys.   Whose money gets off-shored.  They don’t pay taxes.    They siphon off what we pay for debt servicing.

Yesterday’s CBC News  (credited to CP):

(Barton) was reluctant to share some of the council’s possible recommendations for job skills or for business investment, since it’s still early in the process.

Re Summers:   The group has already had a 90-minute session on the subject with Larry Summers, a one-time U.S. treasury secretary and former president of Harvard University.   . . . .

(Barton)  said the council hopes to build on existing research, including work conducted by the Conference Board of Canada, the C.D. Howe Institute and tax-policy expert Jack Mintz.   . . . .

In an interview Tuesday, Mintz said Canada should consider changes in two areas if it hopes to promote more business investment: regulation and taxes.   . . . .

. . .  (C.D. Howe)  paper, which recommended policy measures to promote business investment: liberalized trade, less-intrusive regulations, cheaper electricity and lower taxes.




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From: Janet    Sent: May 23, 2017        To: sandra Finley

Subject:  RE: Larry Summers: Trump’s budget is simply ludicrous

Hi Sandra

Yes I hestiated to post anything by him – other than that he has turned coat a bit now – for whateer reason he is now in a different camp- He has been posting about and defined the persitent slump which some see as the persistent economic future as – the age of secular stagnation. I find it interesting that he finally started to see the folly of globalization about two years ago- when he became an advisor to the Trudeau economic polices i.e spend our way out of recession a sort of Keynsian approach.  He was also Chrystia Freeland’s PhD thesis advisor at Harvard.

I wouldn’t be quite so cynical about him – he’s not been a politico so  much as an advisor and university head- who once was indeed the nemisis of the anti-globalization movement- the one who said – let’s ship polution to Africa becaue it could be diluted there since they don’t have the same degree of pollution or somethng like that.

However in the antiTrump campaign I think it is news that someone of his ilk now widely accepted as a journalist trying to use his economic knowedge to ferret a way through the crisis – even if it’s not the path you or I forsee as necessary. At least he’s much more liberal than he used to be and people do learn and change their perspective.

take care,

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From:                       Sandra Finley

To:                            Janet

Subject:                     RE: Larry Summers: Trump’s budget is simply ludicrous

Date sent:                  Tue, 23 May 2017

Hi Janet,

I assume this is the same Larry Summers as has been Chief Economist at the World Bank, etc etc etc  ??

I checked.   Yes, the same:

The Washington Post article is By Lawrence H. Summers

Lawrence Henry “Larry” Summers (born November 30, 1954) is an American economist, former . .


I copied the excerpts that are on my blog about him.

So what?    Summers is  now outside the ranks of power and wants to de-throne Trump, so that he can get back in?   (Not that I’m a Trump fan,  but this piece by Summers  has, as context,  Summers “contributions” to the financial barons over a long period of time.  Did he have an epiphany?)

The last excerpt, by John McMurtry  in f/u to an interview by the G&M of Summers is enlightening.

I’ve highlighted each time that Summers’ name appears – – you don’t have to read entirety.   Enjoy the summer, instead!


  1.   2016-08-25   Revisiting the lessons of the Battle of Seattle and its aftermath,   by Walden Bello.

Then by engaging in the defensive anti-regulatory war that they had mastered in Congress over decades, the banks were able, in 2009 and 2010, to gut the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of three key items that were seen as necessary for genuine reform: downsizing the banks; institutionally separating commercial from investment banking; and banning most derivatives and effectively regulating the so-called “shadow banking system” that had brought on the crisis. 

They did this by using what Cornelia Woll termed finance capital’s “structural power”.  One dimension of this power was the US$344 million the industry spent lobbying the U.S. Congress in the first nine months of 2009, when legislators were taking up financial reform. Senator Chris Dodd, the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, alone received US$2.8 million in contributions from Wall Street in 2007–2008. But perhaps equally powerful as Wall Street’s entrenched congressional lobby were powerful voices in the new Obama Administration who were sympathetic to the bankers, notably Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and Council of Economic Advisors’ head Larry Summers , both of whom had served as close associates of Robert Rubin, who had successive incarnations as co-chairman of Goldman Sachs, Bill Clinton’s Treasury chief, and chairman and senior counsellor of Citigroup.

  1. 2012-05-21    Heist of the century: university corruption and the financial crisis.   Extract from “Inside Job”.

Yet we should not be surprised. Over the past couple of decades medical professionals have amply demonstrated the influence money can have in a supposedly objective, scientific field. In general, medical schools and journals have responded well, adopting disclosure requirements. The economics discipline, business schools, law schools and political science schools have reacted very differently.

Over the past 30 years, significant portions of American academia have deteriorated into “pay to play” activities. These days, if you see a famous economics professor testify in Congress, or write an article, there is a good chance he or she is being paid by someone with a big stake in what’s being debated. Most of the time, these professors do not disclose these conflicts of interest, and most of the time their universities look the other way.

Half a dozen consulting firms, several speakers’ bureaus and various industry lobbying groups maintain large networks of academics for hire for the purpose of advocating industry interests in policy and regulatory debates. The principal industries involved are energy, telecommunications, healthcare, agribusiness – and, most definitely, financial services.

Some examples. Glenn Hubbard became dean of Columbia Business School in 2004, shortly after leaving the George W Bush administration. Much of his academic work has been focused on tax policy. A fair summary is that he has never seen a tax he would like. In November 2004 Hubbard co-authored an astonishing article, jointly with William C Dudley, then chief economist at Goldman Sachs. The article, How Capital Markets Enhance Economic Performance and Facilitate Job Creation, warrants quotation. Remember, this is November 2004, with the bubble well under way: “The capital markets have helped make the housing market less volatile … ‘Credit crunches’ of the sort that periodically shut off the supply of funds to home buyers … are a thing of the past.

Hubbard refused to say whether he was paid to write the article. He also refused to provide me with his most recent government financial disclosure form, which we could not obtain otherwise because the White House had destroyed it. Hubbard was paid $100,000 (£63,000) to testify for the criminal defence of two Bear Stearns hedge fund managers prosecuted in connection with the bubble, who were acquitted. Last year, Hubbard became a senior economic adviser to Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign.

Larry Summers has held almost every important government position in economics. Treasury secretary under President Clinton, in 2009 he became director of the National Economic Council in the Obama administration. Although sensible about many issues, Summers has made a succession of well-documented mistakes and compromises. And his views on the financial sector would be hard to distinguish from those of, say, [Goldman Sachs chief] Lloyd Blankfein or [JP Morgan boss] Jamie Dimon.

Most of our information about Summers comes from his mandatory government disclosure form. Summers ’ 2009 disclosure form stated his net worth to be $17m-$39m. His total earnings in the year prior to joining the government were almost $8m. Goldman Sachs paid him $135,000 for one speech.

Summers is a compromised man who owes most of his fortune and much of his political success to the financial services industry, and who was involved in some of the most disastrous economic policy decisions of the past half century. In the Obama administration, Summers opposed strong measures to sanction bankers or curtail their income.

Harvard still does not require Summers to disclose his financial-sector involvements. Both Harvard and Summers declined my requests for information.

The problem of academic corruption is now so deeply entrenched that these disciplines, and leading universities, are severely compromised, and anyone considering bucking the trend would rationally be very scared. Consider this situation: you’re a PhD student, or a junior faculty member, considering doing some research on, say, compensation structures on risk-taking in financial services, or the potential impact of public disclosure requirements on the market for credit default swaps. The president of your university is … Larry Summers .

The chairman of your department is …Glenn Hubbard. Or you’re at MIT, and you want to examine the decline in corporate tax payments. The president of MIT is Susan Hockfield, on the board of GE, a company that has managed to avoid paying hardly any corporate taxes for several years.

How much do these forces actually affect academic research and policymaking? The available evidence suggests that the effect is large.

Academic commentary on the financial crisis by economists has been remarkably muted. There are, to be sure, some notable exceptions. But for the most part, the silence has been deafening. How can an entire industry come to be structured such that employees are encouraged to loot and destroy their own firms? Why did deregulation and economic theory fail so spectacularly?

The release of the film Inside Job clearly touched a nerve with regard to these questions. I was contacted by a large number of students and faculty, and there has been a great deal of debate. Departments including the Columbia Business School have adopted disclosure requirements for the first time. But most universities still have no such requirements, and few if any have any limitations on the existence of conflicts of interest. The same is true of most academic publications. Newspaper reporters are strictly prohibited from accepting money from any industry or organisation they write about.

Not so in academia.

There has been one significant positive development. Earlier this year, the American Economics Association adopted a disclosure requirement for the seven journals it publishes. But most institutions continue to oppose further disclosure and, when I was making my film, refused even to discuss the subject.

This is an edited extract from Inside Job: the Financiers Who Pulled Off the Heist of the Century by Charles Ferguson, published by Oneworld at £12.99. Order a copy for £10.39 with free UK p&p here or call 0330 333 6846. Charles Ferguson will appear at the Edinburgh international book festival on Sunday 12 August.

  1.    2015-06-25   International Philanthropy Conference in Greece – Richard Heinberg’s talk on Sustainability, Growth Limits and role of Philanthropy

The “standard run” scenario from the Limits to Growth scenario series showed a peak and decline in world industrial output during the first half of this century, or right about now; indeed, many economists are today noting a slowing of growth worldwide (this is especially clear for the older industrialized countries—Europe, the United States, and Japan; however, it may also be the case even for the Asian tigers, principally China, which posted such dramatic expansion during the past two decades).  Economist Larry Summers, former Chief Economist of the World Bank, discusses the current deceleration in terms of secular stagnation, attributing its cause to demographic or financial factors, including too much debt.  However, it is hard to disregard the coincidence of the 43-year-old scenario study and the emerging reality.  Ecological and biophysical economists have identified causal factors linking energy resource depletion and accumulating environmental impacts with the economic slowdown, reducing the likelihood that the coincidence is merely one of chance.

Many of us who have been part of the growth limits discussion have arrived at a common view of the situation that can be summarized as follows: Economic growth may not be entirely over, but its limits are indeed within view. However, societies have become systemically dependent on economic expansion to provide jobs, returns on investments, and government tax revenues. Policymakers have made no plans to respond to the end of growth because the economists whom they listen to refuse to acknowledge that environmental limits to growth exist. This puts us in a bind. Policymakers, including central bankers, seem to have no choice but to tromp on the accelerator of monetary policy to achieve growth at any and all cost, even as physical scientists warn that further expansion will imperil both the environment and the economy.

– – – – – –

  1.   2009-04-07  The University Wars: The Corporate Administration versus the Vocation of Learning,  John McMurtry

Financialization of the Academy: The Totalitarian Drift

To get a sense of the academy’s increasing submergence in corporate-market values, consider the words of the past Harvard President, Larry Summers, now chief economic adviser to the Obama administration. He was interviewed by the Globe and Mail in glowing admiration after a lecture to University of Toronto. (May 24, 2003). “The essential truth”, he declared, is that all “basic value” – including “literacy” – is “linked to market growth”.

We may formalize the equation of the paradigm corporate president as follows: More/less money-value sales = more/less market growth = more/less “basic values” for the world. No substantiation of the given equations is deemed necessary. No explanation of contra-indicative evidence is conceived. Yet mind-staggering implications follow that are not seen. Whatever is without a market price is, therefore, without any value – the world’s biodiversity of species, for example. Life itself is of no value except as it sells for a market price. So too research and knowledge. If they are not marketable, they do not exist. The truth is what sells.

An unseen onto-ethic rules here. As with soaps, so with universities. Sales pitches metamorphize reality into miracles of more value added in the market, and money sequences leave ever more money in the hands of money managers. This magical thinking is, of course, the very opposite of the search for truth. But the mind has become totalitarian. Recently, the New York Times gave much page and blog space to Stanley Fish, an academic servant to money and power as Allan Bloom and Leo Strauss before him. Fish’s tirade against academics following “the inner light” – his words – required, he concluded, the use of coercive force against them. Professors need to be reduced to a master-servant relationship with “their employer” as all other employees: that is, with university CEO’s and designates who hire and fire by unilateral control of purse-strings with no ultimate accountability to academic standards.5 Fish’s prancings for the boss in the New York Times are a sign of things to come.

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From: Janet E   Sent: May 23, 2017

Subject: Larry Summers : Trump’s budget is simply ludicrous

He begins:

Details of President Trump’s first budget have now been released. Much can and will be said about the dire social consequences of what is in it and the ludicrously optimistic economic assumptions it embodies.  My observation is that there appears to be a logical error of the kind that would justify failing a student in an introductory economics course….

and concludes:

The president’s personal failings are now not just center stage but whole stage.  They should not blind us to the manifest failures of his economic team.  Whether it is Secretary Mnuchin’s absurd claims about tax cuts not favoring the rich, Secretary Ross’s claim that the small squib of a deal negotiated last week with China was the greatest trade result with China in history, NEC Director Cohn’s ludicrous estimate of the costs of Dodd-Frank, or today’s budget, the Trump administration has not yet made a significant economic pronouncement that meets a minimal standard of competence and honesty.   -Larry Summers, WP


Wonkblog Perspective

Larry Summers: Trump’s budget is simply ludicrous

By Lawrence H. Summers May 23 at 5:00 AM

Play Video 2:08

Trump’s new budget proposal: What’s in and what’s out

The Trump administration is expected to introduce its 2018 budget proposal on May 23, which will likely include major cuts to programs for low-income Americans. (Video: Jenny Starrs/Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

Details of President Trump’s first budget have now been released. Much can and will be said about the dire social consequences of what is in it and the ludicrously optimistic economic assumptions it embodies.  My observation is that there appears to be a logical error of the kind that would justify failing a student in an introductory economics course.

Apparently, the budget forecasts that U.S. economic growth will rise to 3.0 percent because of the administration’s policies — largely its tax cuts and perhaps also its regulatory policies.  Fair enough if you believe in tooth fairies and ludicrous supply-side economics.

[Graphic: What Trump’s budget cuts from the social safety net]

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Then the administration asserts that it will propose revenue neutral tax cuts with the revenue neutrality coming in part because the tax cuts stimulate growth! This is an elementary double count.  You can’t use the growth benefits of tax cuts once to justify an optimistic baseline and then again to claim that the tax cuts do not cost revenue. At least you cannot do so in a world of logic.

The Trump team prides itself on its business background.  This error is akin to buying a company assuming that you can make investments that will raise profits, but then, in calculating the increased profits, counting the higher revenue while failing to account for the fact that the investments would actually cost some money to make. The revenue generated by the investments might exceed their cost (though the same is almost never true of tax cuts), but that doesn’t change the fact that the investment has a cost that must be included in the accounting.

This is a mistake no serious business person would make. It appears to be the most egregious accounting error in a presidential budget in the nearly 40 years I have been tracking them.

Who knew what when? I have no doubt that there are civil servants in Office of Management and Budget, the Treasury and the Council of Economics who do know better than this mistake. Were they cowed, ignored or shut out?   How could the secretary of the treasury, the director of OMB and the director of the National Economic Council allow such an elementary error? I hope the press will ferret all this out.

The president’s personal failings are now not just center stage but whole stage.  They should not blind us to the manifest failures of his economic team.  Whether it is Secretary Mnuchin’s absurd claims about tax cuts not favoring the rich, Secretary Ross’s claim that the small squib of a deal negotiated last week with China was the greatest trade result with China in history, NEC Director Cohn’s ludicrous estimate of the costs of Dodd-Frank, or today’s budget, the Trump administration has not yet made a significant economic pronouncement that meets a minimal standard of competence and honesty.

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