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Off The Cuff: The Path Forward

Chris Martenson - August 11, 2017 - 11:14

In this week's Off The Cuff podcast, Chris talks about:

  • Our Ecological Budget Is In The Red
    • Our short-sightedness is dooming us
  • Our Economic Budget Is In Similar Danger
    • Again, we are living way above our means
  • Politically, We're Stumbling Badly, Too
    • North Korea, Russia, Syria, domestically...the list is long
  • We Can Do Better
    • There are plenty of better models out there, if we look for them

Recording from vacation on a small island in Maine with no power, this is different than our standard Off The Cuff. Chris takes time to reflect on the repercussions of our poor policy choices and how those are manifesting in the world. What makes our mistakes so regrettable in his eyes is that there are clear ways to do things better -- we don't need new magical solutions to appear; there are models that work right on the table, ready for use; if only we're bold enough to embrace change.

Click to listen to a sample of this Off the Cuff Podcast or Enroll today to access the full audio and other premium content today.

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Categories: Economics

Daily Digest 8/11 - Good News Friday: A New Kind Of Classroom, Saving Wild Sunflower Seeds

Chris Martenson - August 11, 2017 - 08:19
  • A New Kind Of Classroom: No Grades, No Failing, No Hurry
  • Smog-Eating Bikes Are About To Take On Beijing
  • SpaceX is launching a supercomputer to the International Space Station
  • Goat Owns Cop, Refuses to Get off His Patrol Car
  • Hard Lessons In Living Off The Grid
  • Meet the Scientists Hunting and Saving Wild Sunflower Seeds
  • EPA Reverses Course On Ozone Rule

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Categories: Economics

Fight Fascism With a Dance Party

Where fascism aims to instill fear, joy is the perfect resistance.
Categories: Economics

Daily Digest 8/10 - Next Market Crash Will Not be Televised, Towards An Ecology Of Agriculture

Chris Martenson - August 10, 2017 - 07:10
  • U.S. Credit-Card Debt Surpasses Record Set at Brink of Crisis
  • Surface Calm in the S&P 500 Masks a Spate of Blowups
  • Estimating Market Losses at a Speculative Extreme
  • Record Number Of Officers Leaving Dallas Police Department
  • Gold 'could be used in cancer treatment'
  • The Next Market Crash Will Not be Televised
  • Russia Eyes Rapid Middle East Energy Expansion
  • Study: Philadelphia Tax Makes Soda More Expensive Than Beer
  • US federal department is censoring use of term 'climate change', emails reveal
  • Towards an Ecology of Agriculture: An Interview with Steve Gliessman

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Categories: Economics

Ghent's Quick Rise as a Sustainable, Commons-Based Sharing City

Shareable Magazine - August 9, 2017 - 11:34

A renewable energy cooperative, a community land trust, and a former church building publicly-controlled and used by nearby residents — these are just a few examples of about 500 urban commons projects that are thriving in the Flemish city of Ghent in Belgium. A new research report (in Dutch) shows that within the last 10 years, the city has seen a ten-fold increase in local commons initiatives.

Categories: Economics

Daily Digest 8/9 - Chicago OT Costs 'Out Of Control,' Consumers' Total Debt Climbs To Record

Chris Martenson - August 9, 2017 - 08:22
  • Large employers say health plans will cost more than $14,000 for an employee in 2018
  • Chicago’s Overtime Costs ‘Out Of Control’
  • Venezuela inches closer to default
  • Comptroller Says Governor is Stalling on Bill Backlog Borrowing (Illinois)
  • Pension deficits: have bean counters got the sums wrong? (UK)
  • ECB stretches bond-buying rules with oversized Italian purchases
  • AP EXPLAINS: Daunting budget deadlines loom for government
  • U.S. Credit-Card Debt Surpasses Record Set at Brink of Crisis
  • Consumers' total debt climbs to a fresh record
  • The Fed’s economic ‘experiment’ isn’t over, KC Fed’s Esther George says

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Categories: Economics

3 Up-and-Coming Sharing Cities You'll Want to Explore

Shareable Magazine - August 8, 2017 - 13:26

More and more, we're seeing community-based sharing projects around the world. While Seoul, South Korea, is often spotlighted as a model "Sharing City," there are many others that have incredible sharing initiatives, including Berlin (Germany), Cape Town (South Africa), and Buenos Aires (Argentina). From tool libraries to car-sharing setups to projects linking dumpster divers with hungry vegetable lovers, these three cities have worked their way to the forefront of the global sharing ecosystem.

Categories: Economics

3 Up-and-Coming Sharing Cities You'll Want to Explore

Shareable Magazine - August 8, 2017 - 13:26

More and more, we're seeing community-based sharing projects around the world. While Seoul, South Korea, is often spotlighted as a model "Sharing City," there are many others that have incredible sharing initiatives, including Berlin (Germany), Cape Town (South Africa), and Buenos Aires (Argentina). From tool libraries to car-sharing setups to projects linking dumpster divers with hungry vegetable lovers, these three cities have worked their way to the forefront of the global sharing ecosystem.

Categories: Economics

Podcast: The Rules' Alnoor Ladha on Local Economics, Decentralization of Power, and More

Shareable Magazine - August 8, 2017 - 10:38

Playing for Team Human today, activist trainer and executive director of theRules.org, Alnoor Ladha.

Categories: Economics

Podcast: The Rules' Alnoor Ladha on Local Economics, Decentralization of Power, and More

Shareable Magazine - August 8, 2017 - 10:38

Playing for Team Human today, activist trainer and executive director of theRules.org, Alnoor Ladha.

Categories: Economics

The War On Gold Intensifies

Chris Martenson - August 8, 2017 - 10:27

The War on Cash is now spreading to gold.  The Powers That Be want to assure that you have no escape hatches, no means of avoiding the financial and economic pain they are about to visit upon you and yours.

They hate gold because it represents a vote against them every time someone chooses gold over their own poorly-managed fiat currency.  They hate cash to the extent that real cash (i.e., physical banknotes) held outside of the banking system might allow you to avoid having your savings stolen during an overnight application of new banking rules (e..g, a bail-in) that would transfer your wealth into whatever financial hole your idiot bank executives had managed to dig for themselves.

These ridiculous moves tell me that we're nearing the end-stage of this long-running farce.  Too many years of stimulating borrowing above and beyond any reasonable expectation of ever paying those debts back have now driven the system to a terminal stage.

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Categories: Economics

Daily Digest 8/8 - The Quitting Economy, Have Smartphones Destroyed A Generation?

Chris Martenson - August 8, 2017 - 07:43
  • Have Smartphones Destroyed A Generation?
  • The Soft Control Human Hack of the Private Market Rise of “Chip Culture”
  • The Quitting Economy
  • How U.S.- Chinese Tensions Could Impact Energy Policy
  • The Cost Of Light Through The Ages
  • Trump White House Says U.S. Will Join Climate Talks, Despite Leaving Paris Deal
  • Nations Will Start Talks to Protect Fish of the High Seas

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Categories: Economics

Richard Sylla: This Is An Inherently Dangerous Moment In History

Chris Martenson - August 7, 2017 - 11:42

"The rates we’ve had in recent years, including right now, are the lowest in history. The book that I co-authored on the history of interest rates traces back to the code of Hammurabi, Babylonian civilization, Greek and Roman civilization, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and early modern history right up to the present. And I can assure our listeners that the rates that they’re experiencing right now are the lowest in human history."

So says Richard Sylla, Professor Emeritus of Economics and the Former Henry Kaufman Professor of the History of Financial Institutions and Markets at New York University's Stern School of Business. He is also co-author of the book A History Of Interest Rates

We invited Professor Sylla onto the podcast after hearing his work favorably referenced by the panel convened at the recent hearing held by the US Congress titled: “The Federal Reserve’s Impact on Main Street, Retirees and Savings.”

Based on his deep study across the scope of millennia of human history, Sylla warns we are at a dangerous moment in time.

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Categories: Economics

CBS Sunday Morning report-Creating new wealth on Sardinia, without cash

Beyond Money - August 7, 2017 - 08:50

This recent report on the popular TV show, CBS Sunday Morning, highlights the effectiveness of direct credit clearing among buyers and sellers of goods and services–a way of doing commerce without the need for money or banks.

See also my own report from my 2015 visit to Sardex.


Categories: Blogs

Check Out Toy Cycle, a New Platform for Families to Swap Toys

Shareable Magazine - August 7, 2017 - 08:02

Entrepreneur Rhonda Collins's twin daughters are the inspiration behind the new online community, Toy-Cycle which launched this month. The toy exchange site will help parents save money by buying fewer new toys for their children while allowing their kids to enjoy a number of different toys.

Categories: Economics

Check Out Toy Cycle, a New Platform for Families to Swap Toys

Shareable Magazine - August 7, 2017 - 08:02

Entrepreneur Rhonda Collins's twin daughters are the inspiration behind the new online community, Toy-Cycle which launched this month. The toy exchange site will help parents save money by buying fewer new toys for their children while allowing their kids to enjoy a number of different toys.

Categories: Economics

Daily Digest 8/7 - Tenants Under Seige, A Tale Of Two Countries

Chris Martenson - August 7, 2017 - 07:56
  • Tenants Under Siege: Inside New York City’s Housing Crisis
  • Struggling Americans Once Sought Greener Pastures, and Now They're Stuck
  • A Tale Of Two Countries (Or How The Fed Enabled Corporate Kingpins To Scalp Billions)
  • How to Catch a 147% Gain in 7 Days
  • There’s a debate raging in science about what should count as “significant”
  • Miranda Devine: Perth electrical engineer’s discovery will change climate change debate
  • NAFTA’s ‘Broken Promises’: These Farmers Say They Got The Raw End Of Trade Deal
  • DA wants agriculture subjects in elementary, high school

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Categories: Economics

The More Education, the Wider the Gender Pay Gap—Wait, What?

Seattle women make less than men, but especially those with advanced degrees.
Categories: Economics

Basic income currencies

Matslats - August 6, 2017 - 09:50

As a complementary currency engineer, I come across basic income ideas of social justice all the time, but I don't see them as my territory. It is a way of sharing wealth which we collectively own or create. Ideally it would be enough money to reduce or eliminate the imperative on people to sell their labour, say, a few hundred Euros per month.

That means basic income is very difficult for grass roots organisation or NGOs to practice, because it necessitates finding enough money to do something meaningful, giving it away to the people least qualified to handle money (for some reason the 'trials' that happen are always on the poor), and then a more-or-less subjective impact assessment. So most of the few experiments afforded in the west are financed by governments, such as the current trial in Finland and the coming trial in Barcelona. Another strategy I admire is a German crowdfunded lottery in which the prize is basic income for a lucky individual for one year.

Some projects though like Grantcoin (soon to be relaunched as 'Manna') or Gradido, GroupCurrency are trying to implement basic income by simply issuing currency (or cryptocurrency tokens) to all participants. This has the advantage that they at least don't have to commandeer vast amounts money, or change government policy, but raises the problem that the tokens come into existence with no spending power. Consequently all these projects seem to me a bit ill-conceived. Take the Occcu, launched in 2012 and silent ever since.

I'd like to point out some common problems with this approach in case anyone is reading.

First of all inflation. Basic income implies a monthly distribution of tokens into the economy. If the tokens aren't being removed the from the economy using, say forced taxation, negative interest, transaction fees, fines etc, and if members aren't saving these units up for a rainy day or speculating on their future value, and if membership is not reducing, then the purchasing power of the tokens should constantly decline. One current project, Duniter copes with the growing volume of tokens in relation to goods and services by declaring a fixed rate of inflation as a fact of life. This is actually a sound mechanism, but counter-intuitive and calculated to raise the hackles of every eminent economist and middle class citizen. The same effect could be achieved with a constant token supply by say, adjusting all wallet balances half way back to 100 on the first of each month.

Secondly most alt-currencies and cryptocurrencies do nothing to foster the development of a marketplace. What I've learned in all these years of creating complementary currencies is that a currency without a marketplace is not even a currency in the sense that it has nowhere and no reason to flow (although that doesn't stop speculators pumping up the price). To justify its existence, a currency must direct energy and/or resources which otherwise would have lain idle or gone elsewhere. This was the breakthrough of the LETS model - it incorporated a not only a system of accounting but a directory of member-2-member services. Further, I would argue that marketplaces must exist before currencies and that currencies are tools that have utility only in the context of an existing marketplace. Creating a currency without a marketplace is all-but guaranteed to fail. And that is even without stressing the marketplace by redistributing stuff from producers to non-producers via a basic income.

Redistributing the community's resources, which basic income necessarily does, requires not only that resources be traded in the marketplace but that somebody has the authority to take from some and give to others. This is how the national economy already works but complementary currencies have voluntary membership and no enforcement, so the sales pitch to the rich is much harder.

Too many people who discover the problems with fiat money imagine that citizens can design a superior currency and the people, in the face of the the most efficient, acceptable, powerful, supported, habitual, liquid and legal currency, will vote with their wallets. Some people use Bitcoin this way, seeking to earn and spend it, and telling their friends, but after 8 years and loads of PR, and tens of billions market capitalization, most cryptocurrencies are used for for speculation, not their intended functions. For me a currency needs to have users and trades going on during the design phase, not to seek a market after being released! Inventing a complementary currency as a vehicle for basic income is absolutely the wrong way around.

In conclusion I think that basic income is only meaningful when done with 'current' money, i.e. widely circulating money and that only government has the legal and political tools to redistribute resources in an organised and socially just way. Basic Income is a policy instrument which sits on the shelf next to public services, welfare and tax rebates. That's why this tweet caught my attention, more than the projects linked above.

"Universal #basicincome paired with a local cryptocurrency is the way forward." - candidate for mayor of Detroit https://t.co/sglKL9hih7 pic.twitter.com/t7wmFcYgxv

— Scott Santens (@scottsantens) August 6, 2017
Categories: Blogs

Daily Digest 8/5 - "Inflate Or Die," Distracting The Public From Economic Decline

Chris Martenson - August 5, 2017 - 07:14
  • Geopolitical Tensions Are Designed To Distract The Public From Economic Decline
  • Only Ten Years After the Last Financial Crisis the Banks Are At It Again
  • STUNNING RESULTS: Four Top Primary Silver Miners Production Plummets
  • “Inflate or Die,” Peak Silver and Gold’s Coming Breakout
  • Kevin Myers
  • Peco bill to hook Chesco man's solar array into grid: $45k
  • David Stockman Warns Trump "The Swamp Is Undrainable"
  • Choosing Your Ride

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Categories: Economics