Shifts in the financial center of gravity

US imperialistic power is overtly demonstrated by its massive military that can be used to easily overpower most nations, though we have seen that controlling the aftermath is much more problematic. But a major source of US power is exerted more covertly, by controlling the financial centers of the world. Note how it uses that power to annex the assets of countries it has conflicts with and prevents them from having access to international capital or denying them the lines of credit and insurance that are necessary for trade.
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Raiding public pensions

I have written before about how public pensions are being looted by a combination of malpractice by elected officials and greed by investment banks and advisors. The way it works is like this. In order to for the pension funds to be solvent enough to pay out the promised benefits, the elected officials have to set aside a certain amount of money in highly rated securities that have lower returns. What some elected officials do is to divert some of that money to cover expenses since the tax-cutting mania has resulted in local governments not having enough money to meet their needs. Then when the pension funds run low, these elected officials turn to investment firms that promise high rates of return that they say will make up for the shortfall.
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Great article on Social Security

After being on the defensive for some time and trying to prevent the long-held dream of the oligarchy to either cut spending on Social Security benefits (so that they can provide more tax cuts for themselves) or to privatize the funds (so that they can loot it directly) coming true, some Democrats led by senator Elizabeth Warren have gone on the offensive by arguing, correctly, that the benefits actually need to be increased for low-income retirees, with the extra money for it coming from eliminating the cap on earned income subject to the payroll tax that currently stands at $118,500.
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Let the rate of looting accelerate!

Wherever there are large amounts of ordinary people’s money, you can be sure that greedy wealthy people are eying it and thinking up clever ways to siphon it away into their own pockets. Money for public schools, pension funds, and Social Security are the prime targets for their rapacity. The assault on the first has been going on for some time with charter schools being a prime vehicle for diverting funds.
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Piketty on the growing wealth and income inequality

I bought the much talked-about book Capital in the 21st Century by economist Thomas Piketty but have not yet cracked open its 700-odd pages. His basic thesis apparently is that when r>g, where r is the rate of return on capital and g is the rate of growth of economies, that leads to greater wealth and income inequality. His book looks at the data over a long period and suggests ways to reduce the inequality. Of course, his prescriptions will not be popular among the elites in the US who see the inequality as reflecting the fact that they are so much more valuable to society than the 99%.
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Rich getting richer

Not that this will be a surprise but via Kevin Drum, I learned that the Federal Reserve has released a set of economic data that among other things shows that the gap between the rich and the poor has indeed been getting bigger at an astonishing rate within the last 25 years, with the top 3% making enormous gains at the expense of the bottom 90%, with the balance 7% remaining relatively stable.
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Payday loans

It is true that these companies extort money from the needy and get them trapped in a cycle of debt. The problem is that they also serve a need. Many people live paycheck-to-paycheck, just barely getting by, and any sudden emergency (car repair, medical bill, broken furnace) can throw their delicately balanced finances out of whack and they often feel they have nowhere else to turn to at short notice.
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Corporate perversion

The latest gambit by American corporations to lower their taxes even more is to take advantage of what is known as ‘corporate inversion’. The way it works is for a big US company to buy a small company in a country that has favorable tax laws, Ireland being the current favored nation. They then ‘invert’ the relationship, claiming that the foreign company is the parent one while the US one is the subsidiary, even though nothing else has changed. This enables them to pay the lower taxes of the other nation while enjoying all the benefits of being in the US.
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