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Daily Digest 4/16 - Ukrainian Banks Quit Crimea, Rising Interest Rates Affecting Loan Repayments

Chris Martenson - April 16, 2014 - 04:53
  • France denies wavering on deficit commitments
  • China expected to show slowest growth since 1990
  • Pain in Spain as bank warns of 10-year jobs blight and public debt leaps €8.1bn
  • Soaring Tuition Costs Force Students To Work More Hours: Analysis
  • Russia Axes Debt Auction as Yields Jump on Ukraine Violence
  • How much pro athletes pay in federal income tax
  • Tax Havens Leave U.S. Filers $1,259 Tab Each, Report Says
  • Bankrupt Detroit Nears Deal With Retiree Group
  • Ukrainian banks quit Crimea
  • Slowdown, rising interest rates affecting loan repayments: Moody’s Analytics
  • Kadner: Chicago water hikes spur suburban revolt
  • Lincoln Park joins growing list of cities in financial emergency
  • North Las Vegas faces budget deadline
  • Food prices rising due to California drought
  • Japan’s jobs go part-time amid Abenomics-led revival
  • Jobless benefits' end didn't spur Illinois hiring
  • Record unemployment with nearly half of EU’s jobless out of work for over a year
  • Police among critics of bill banning traffic cameras in Colorado
  • 46 per cent of SMEs under credit stress, may default: India Ratings

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Categories: Economics

6 Perennial Vegetables To Plant Once

Chris Martenson - April 15, 2014 - 15:28

As you look to plant your current garden this spring or start breaking ground on a new one, consider planting the following 6 plants to give you great produce year after year. 

http://www.treehugger.com/lawn-garden/plant-some-these-perennial-vegetables-keep-giving-year-after-year.html

Also check out the WSID Article on Planting Asparagus.

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Categories: Economics

Ridesharing Takes a Hint from Hitchhiking in Rural America

Shareable Magazine - April 15, 2014 - 10:51

“We’re not stuck in a traffic jam. We are the traffic jam.”

Categories: Economics

Spanish published a manual to help tax resisters "take your resources away from...

Community Currency Magazine - April 15, 2014 - 10:29
Spanish published a manual to help tax resisters "take your resources away from big business, from the financial system, and from the government, and put those resources instead at the service of people in your community by means of more personal, face-to-face gifts and exchanges in decentralized networks."


Comprehensive Disobedience: Occupying the Sharing Economy in Spain
www.shareable.net
Photo credit: Olmo Calvo Spanish war tax resisters and activist from the 15-M, or indignados, movement (the Spanish version of “Occupy”) have joined forces to organize a sharing economy network and to nourish it with redirected taxes.
Categories: Economics

Doing It for Science

Chris Martenson - April 15, 2014 - 10:07

Renown behavioral economist Dan Ariely has approached Peak Prosperity regarding new research he's conducting.

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Categories: Economics

The State of the European Sharing Movement

Shareable Magazine - April 15, 2014 - 07:46

The sharing movement in Europe is thriving. Due in large part to the endless hustle, focus, and connectedness of the OuiShare community, new networks are forming, growing, and connecting with each other.

Categories: Economics

Daily Digest 4/15 - Ukraine Begins Military Operations, A Salve For Ailing FL Springs

Chris Martenson - April 15, 2014 - 06:22
  • Want to Predict the Future of Surveillance? Ask Poor Communities.
  • Social Security, Treasury target taxpayers for their parents’ decades-old debts
  • Contrarian Value Investors Are Taking Large Positions In Gold And Miners
  • Ukraine Says It Has Begun Military Operation in East
  • U.S. Halts Effort to Collect Old Social Security Debts 
  • The Genius Entrepreneurs Who Turn E-Waste Into Usable Products
  • Florida Lawmakers Proposing a Salve for Ailing Springs
  • U.S. Gas Prices Rise, but not because of Global Factors

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Categories: Economics

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Community Currency Magazine - April 15, 2014 - 03:14

How do time credits make stronger communities? | Community Currencies in Action
communitycurrenciesinaction.eu
Early survey results from our community time-credit systems up and running in South Wales show some really positive impact. This data along with testimonials from participants will feed in to our ongoing work on evaluating the impact of community currencies, helping to build a comprehensive framewor...
Categories: Economics

Don't Leave BitCoin to the Libertarians! (Or, Why Your Movement Needs Open Source Money)

This article originally appeared at Wagingnonviolence.org.

Photo by Antana/ Flickr.

Among activists one often finds an aversion to even thinking about money. Associating it with the opponent—who has lots of it—they try to do without money themselves. Often, for as long as they can, they try to organize and resist without it, until burning out, quitting and getting into a different line of work just to keep up on rent. But, as the 19th century U.S. populist movement recognized, money is also a battleground. Today, as a new wave of sophisticated digital currencies are beginning to arise, this is perhaps more true than ever before.

Bitcoin (the open-source software and peer-to-peer network) and bitcoin (the currency) first appeared in early 2009—just after the housing bubble burst. It was heavily promoted by a tech-savvy, anti-establishment, libertarian community concerned with the power of big banks and government regulation. Critics have dismissed Bitcoin as being "by the privileged, for the privileged," while defenders have claimed with an equal lack of subtlety that it is somehow "post-privilege" altogether. Regardless of the label, however, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency platforms like it aren't going away, and they are poised to become increasingly disruptive.

To understand why, I turned to Devin Balkind, founder and director of Sarapis, which promotes the use of free/libre/open-source software among non-profits and popular movements. He has recently written (and is continuing to write) a public working paper on cryptocurrency, "Finance Without Force." Last year, we spoke about the role of open-source tools in the Occupy Sandy relief effort, in which he played a leading role. Before that, he had the distinction of being the first person to tell me about cryptocurrency in the first place, insisting that this was something I should be paying attention to. It has taken a while, but I am finally coming back to him for more.

Cryptocurrencies could fuel an underground economy that enables people with less to get more.

Nathan Schneider: What do social justice activists need to know about crypocurrency?

Devin Balkind: Cryptocurrency is open-source money. It lowers the cost of producing a means of exchange—a money system—down to almost zero. That means it's easier than ever to organize alternative monetary systems. Some activists know about time-banking and mutual credit systems. Cryptocurrency makes it possible for people to turn the hours or credits from systems like that into money that can easily be sent around the world or spent at a local store. It completely changes what's possible from the perspective of solidarity economics.

Schneider: Where does the "crypto" come in? What role does cryptography play, and why is it so important?

Balkind: The primary challenge with creating cash is that you have to produce a medium of exchange that can't be spent more than once. If you could simply photocopy a dollar bill to make more cash, the U.S. monetary system wouldn't work. The government uses security features such as special paper, ink, designs and holograms to prevent people from "double spending" cash. A unit of cryptocurrency, on the other hand, is just a string of characters—letters, numbers, symbols. This actually represents a "private key," and when you share it with someone, you give them the ability to upload it to the network for authentication. Through a process of cryptography, every transaction is checked against a public ledger on a peer-to-peer network. If it's illegitimate the transaction doesn't execute.

Schneider: What will it take to make cryptocurrency work in ways that are more democratic and just than the economy we already have?

Balkind: The existence of strong cryptocurrencies is already making the economy more democratic simply by giving people a choice when it comes to the type of money they want to use. Many people take for granted that there is only one type of money used in the United States, but this wasn't always the case. Scrip, bank notes, precious metals, whiskey and livestock have all been popular currencies in the United States over the past 200 years. While these might not seem like good currencies from a modern perspective, they all made it possible for people without access to official currency to trade and make deals with each other. From my perspective, that's precisely what we need today: more ways to exchange with and reward people. Cryptocurrency makes that possible today, just as barter or using silver made it possible 100 years ago. Cryptocurrency can be money by the people and for the people.

Schneider: A more open market doesn't necessarily mean democracy. It has been observed, for instance, that many of those benefitting most from cryptocurrencies are those who already have high-level technical knowledge and lots of conventional capital to invest. Won't this just deepen the inequality we already have, while perhaps also weakening the conventional social safety net? How can those most left behind in the current system use cryptocurrencies to build power?

Balkind: Yes, it's true that most cryptocurrencies are being deployed by privileged technologists, but so were websites in the 1990s, and I think we can all agree that the Internet has been a positive development for humanity. Over time these technologies democratize.

Cryptocurrencies, for instance, could fuel an underground economy in which vendors can accept substantially lower prices for their goods and services. That's because they don't report their transactions as commercial activity and thus deny consumers the protections that people often expect from conventional transactions. For example, if you buy a cookie from me with U.S. dollars and it gets you sick, you can sue me, but if you buy it with bitcoin, I can deny the transaction ever took place and make it very difficult for you to establish who is liable and for what.

Does that type of scenario create more or less inequality? On one hand prices are being reduced, enabling people with less to get more, but on the other hand it creates a lot of potential for abuse because of a lack of consumer protections. Indeed, it's not hard to imagine a dystopian future in which two separate economies co-exist: one for the rich who use official currencies, and have consumer protections, and one for everyone else who use alternative methods of exchange and have fewer protections. In general, I think more choices are better and that unregulated commerce, grassroots businesses, and alternative exchange practices are a great way for people left behind in the current system to build their personal and communal power.

Schneider: I hear a lot of talk about using cryptocurrency to bring access to financing to under-banked communities. Is it hard to get a cryptocurrency adopted? To what extent is this a community organizing challenge?

We're talking about the ability of normal people to take control over money.

Balkind: It's definitely hard to get a cryptocurrency adopted. Bitcoin didn't become popular just magically. People deliberately organized an online community with the intention of making it popular; there were forums, listservs, in-person meetups and apps built for the sole purpose of spreading Bitcoin. One such app was the Bitcoin "faucet," which gave people tiny amounts of bitcoin so they could experience it. The person who created that ultimately became one of the first leaders of the Bitcoin Foundation—which shows how important community engagement is for a project like this. But this is nothing new. Ask Paul Glover—the inventor of Ithaca Hours time-banking credits—what his secret to success was, and he'll tell you the key is relentless organizing. He'll tell you that he spent a decade calling businesses every day to discuss with them how they could meet their needs without using U.S. dollars. For me, organizing alternative money systems feels like a very natural and practical way for social justice activists to help the communities in which they live in material ways.

Schneider: What particular examples of cyptocurrencies in action are you most interested in?

Balkind: First of all, we need to give Bitcoin its due credit. It went from being worth pennies to hundreds of dollars in five years. Without Bitcoin we wouldn't be talking about cryptocurrency—so I'm still very interested in its proliferation and success. People are beginning to create all types of interesting "altcoins," which are modified Bitcoin software deployments that run on independent networks, and have their own configurations and market values. I really like Devcoin, which could theoretically fund lots of open source software production, and Permacredits, which propose a way for people to invest in permaculture projects. Maza Coin is now the official currency of the Traditional Lakota Nation, which has the potential to be really historic. The idea of giving these "altcoins" national identies is really catching on, with dozens of "national altcoins" now in existence.

The other really interesting development that's slowly maturing is that people are beginning to use cryptocurrency's components to do things other than mere "currency." The most promising of those projects is Ethereum, a platform for coding cryptographically secured contracts. The implications are immense when you consider how much of our society depends on contracts—corporations, constitutions, financial securities, laws, even games. Ethereum is being designed to give us the ability to create machine-readable and executable contracts that we can generate quickly, easily and at near zero cost, and administered not by bureaucracies but by computers. People who are interested should check out the project website. But first, they should read your article about it on Al Jareeza.

Schneider: It's striking to me that enthusiasts describe cryptocurrency as a "space" and an "ecosystem," when it seems so clearly divorced from physical space and ecology. But there has also been discussion about using cryptocurrencies to change how we govern natural resources. Do you think they could help fight climate change, for instance?

Balkind: Yes—though in ways we haven't thought of yet. Right now groups could get funding through cryptocurrency communities. Dogecoin, for instance, leveraged a meme to create a popular cryptocurrency, and then used that popularity to fund do-good projects that got their community excited, which then resulted in even higher values for dogecoins. I also think we'll see institutions that exist to maintain common assets like art museums and land trusts figure out how to generate valuable currencies that they'll be able to use to fund projects that align with their interests and support local economies. While having art museums become cryptocurrency banks might not sound revolutionary, it's an example of how we can create money systems around the resources we value most, rather than around government fiat. In the future, systems like Ethereum will create opportunities to rewrite how society operates. That process will present a historic opportunity for laws to be changed. Will the social justice activists be driving that change or will they be hiding from it?

Schneider: So this is really about power.

Balkind: Whenever we talk about money we're also talking about power. If we want to focus solely on cryptocurrency, we're talking about the ability of normal people to take control over money, to make it their own, to use it as a tool to better organize their communities and meet their needs. If we expand the conversation to focus on crypto-contracts, we're also talking about the "refactoring" of our society into something that can be read and processed by machines. Cryptocurrency and crypto-contracts go hand in hand—so yes, we're talking about a lot more than money. We're talking about a machine-readable society and potentially the biggest shift in law since the advent of lawyers. Society is poised to remake itself.

Schneider: What's the best way for people to start learning more about this scene and become involved?

Balkind: There are lot of news sites out there for cryptocurrency. CoinDesk is a good one. So is the Bitcoin subreddit. If you're in New York City, you can go to an event at the Bitcoin Center, but if hanging with libertarian men isn't your idea of fun you might not want to try that out. I highly recommend reading Hayek's Denationalization of Money for some economic, philosophical, and historical context. It was written in the 1970s and is a good reminder that people have been thinking seriously about alternative monetary systems for a long time, and that there is a lot of knowledge already out there about how these systems could work. Read part eight, "Putting Private Token Money Into Circulation," for a pretty simple plan for how to operate your own currency. Remarkable stuff.

Schneider: Remarkable, perhaps, but also profoundly destabilizing. It sounds to me like we're talking about not guaranteed liberation but a new battleground, and the outcome will depend on who fights and how.

Balkind: I urge activists to think about cryptocurrency as a set of new organizing tools—tools that the social justice community hasn't really begun to use. But when it does, it will find them quite powerful on the battlegrounds on which it fights. Crypto-contracts are also a tool, and with even wider implications because their adoption will create new types of interactions, entities and institutions. We're still in the early days with these technologies, but I urge people to start learning about them now so they're prepared to take advantage of the opportunities these tools will surely create.

This article was written by Nathan Schneider for Wagingnonviolence.org, where it originally appeared. Nathan is an editor at Waging Nonviolence. He has written about religion, reason, and violence for publications including The Nation, The New York Times, Harper's, Commonweal, Religion Dispatches, AlterNet and others. He is also an editor at Killing the Buddha. Visit his website at TheRowBoat.com.

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Categories: Economics

Water Filter Special Discount

Chris Martenson - April 14, 2014 - 09:54
15% Special Discount for PeakProsperity.com Readers

The ReadyStore is offering Peak Prosperity readers a special 15% discount on all water filter systems.

Having access to clean pure drinking water is very important to daily good health and a vital component of any emergency preparedness plan. Click Here to ensure you have a simple and cost-effective way to filter water in emergency situations and for everyday use.  Now is the time to get replacement filters for old and well-used ones or make sure you have backups for filter failure or to be able to help a neighbor out in their time of need.

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Categories: Economics

How Cities Can Be Designed to Help — or Hinder — Sharing

Shareable Magazine - April 14, 2014 - 08:42

Top image: Seattle skyline. Photo credit: Foter / CC BY-SA 2.0. Article is cross-posted from YES! Magazine and excerpted from Sharing Revolution, a publication of On the Commons.

Categories: Economics

Survival Uses for Newspaper

Chris Martenson - April 14, 2014 - 08:03

From using newspaper as a garden weed barrier to covering pipes and preventing drafts in window and doors, newspaper can have many wonderful uses around the home and in survival situations. 

http://www.survivopedia.com/newspuses/

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Categories: Economics

Inside Detroit’s Spring Clean Swap, Skillshare and DJ Party

Shareable Magazine - April 14, 2014 - 07:57

What’s more fun than a clothing and goods swap? A clothing and goods swap with a DJ and dancefloor, of course. Recently, a group of sharers in Detroit, a model of resilience, reinvention, do-it-together city-building, and the birthplace of oodles of great music—Motown, techno music and Funkadelic to name a few—organized the Detroit Spring Clean Swap + Skillshare.

Categories: Economics

Daily Digest 4/14 - Flowing Water Over Graphene Generates Electricity, The New Wild West

Chris Martenson - April 14, 2014 - 07:52
  • Financial Stability
  • 2014 Could Be A Yawner For Gold And Silver; Be Prepared For A Weekend Surprise
  • London hedge fund exec in $72,000 fare ‘dodge’
  • 'Modest hope' to slow warming, but no 'free lunch,' U.N. warns
  • U.N. Climate Change Report Says Worst Scenarios Can Still Be Avoided
  • Flowing salt water over graphene generates electricity
  • Frontcountry: The New Wild West
  • Eastern Europe has Nothing on Asian Energy Markets

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Categories: Economics

Jim Rickards: The Coming Crisis is Bigger Than The Fed

Chris Martenson - April 13, 2014 - 13:03

James Rickards, financier and author of the excellent cautionary best-seller Currency Wars, has recently released a follow-on book: The Death of Money: The Coming Collapse of the International Monetary System. In it, Jim details how history provides plenty of precedent for the collapse that has begun amidst the major world currencies.

The historical progression is predictable enough that Jim is comfortable claiming that the next economic crisis we face will be bigger than the ability of the Federal Reserve (and the other world central banks) to contain it. And that such a calamity will happen within the next five years:

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Categories: Economics

Market Jitters

Chris Martenson - April 13, 2014 - 10:21

The global stock markets have been trading as if risk has been entirely removed the equation. Fundamentals have had zero impact on the prices of equities as they have gone up on good news (hey, the economy is improving!) as well as bad (hey, there's more stimulus on the way!).

We saw this same level of rationalization in play in 2006 and 2007. It was as frustrating to those with an eye towards rational thinking then as it is today.

Only today is worse. A lot worse.

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Categories: Economics

Pop-up Stores Build Local Economies Through Sharing

Shareable Magazine - April 12, 2014 - 12:19

Recently I walked into a new storefront in San Francisco’s Upper Haight neighborhood called Second Act, a space featuring five culinary vendors, each of which are on three-year leases and conduct their business out of 100-square foot spaces. As I navigated my way through the enticing aromas, I came to a backroom with several tables, each advertising a different locally made product. PopUpsters, a new business connecting artisans with temporary spaces, organized the event.

Categories: Economics

Daily Digest 4/12 - What You Should Know About Financial Aid, Why Do Investors Make Bad Choices?

Chris Martenson - April 12, 2014 - 06:47
  • Social Security, Treasury target taxpayers for their parents’ decades-old debts
  • Everything You Need to Know About High-Frequency Trading
  • Why Do Investors Make Bad Choices?
  • Shipbuilding Orders Evaporate As Baltic Dry Collapses
  • What You Don’t Know About Financial Aid (but Should)
  • Greed Is Good: A 300-Year History of a Dangerous Idea
  • China Takes On Big Risks in Its Push for Shale Gas
  • White-Nose Syndrome (WNS)

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Categories: Economics

Two Weeks to Go

Chris Martenson - April 11, 2014 - 18:50

There are just two weeks left to go until the Peak Prosperity seminar in Rowe, MA. 

Not that these seminar weekends aren't always valuable, but this is one is going to be especially important. After 2+ long years of fabricated tranquility (the best market levitation $4 trillion can buy!), we are finally seeing the indicators that the central managers are starting to lose control of the system.

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Categories: Economics