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John Michael Greer: The God Of Technological Progress May Well Be Dead

Chris Martenson - April 12, 2015 - 11:49

As we often state here at Peak Prosperity, the narratives we hold are immensely important. The stories running our heads influence everything from our beliefs to our values to our actions.

Which is why it's so dangerous when a society clings onto a narrative that is no longer serving it well, a narrative divorced from reality.

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Categories: Economics

Daily Digest 4/11 - Middle Class But Feeling Economically Insecure, More Than Honey

Chris Martenson - April 11, 2015 - 08:24
  • Middle Class, but Feeling Economically Insecure
  • Why Brazil's megadrought is a Wall Street failure
  • Stingray spying: FBI's secret deal with police hides phone dragnet from courts
  • Cops and Robbers
  • CA suspends millions of licenses, issues huge fines for minor violations that keep people in poverty
  • Borderlands Food Bank: Cutting Food Waste At The Border
  • New Sea Drilling Rule Planned, 5 Years After BP Oil Spill
  • More Than Honey

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Categories: Economics

Off the Cuff: That Sinking Feeling...

Chris Martenson - April 10, 2015 - 13:24

In this week's Off the Cuff podcast, Chris and John Rubino discuss:

  • The Police State
    • Too much evidence to ignore
  • How Low Can Interest Rates Go?
    • Looking for the limits to NIRP
  • That Sinking Feeling....
    • Why the next economic bust is going to be just horrible
  • Oil
    • What the heck is going on in that market?

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Categories: Economics

Daily Digest 4/10 - The Renegades of Junk, Who Will Control The World's Water?

Chris Martenson - April 10, 2015 - 07:25
  • How Wall Street captured Washington’s effort to rein in banks
  • Renegades of Junk: The Rise and Fall of the Drexel Empire
  • OID, SSJID defy federal fish flows
  • Canadians can now pay their rent by credit card — and millennials love it
  • Louisiana Bans Cash Transactions on Used Goods
  • Gold, Greece, The Death Of Paper Money And The Modern State
  • French media groups to hold emergency meeting after Isis cyber-attack
  • Who Will Control The World’s Water: Governments Or Corporations?

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Categories: Economics

What If Uber Were a Unionized, Worker-Owned Co-Op? These Denver Cabbies Are Making It Happen

Workers at app-driven companies like Uber don’t have the rights of full employees. But with the help of traditional unions, some are banding together into worker-owned cooperatives.
Categories: Economics

The Fatal Flaw Of Centrally-Issued Money

Chris Martenson - April 9, 2015 - 11:03

Centrally issued money centralizes wealth and generates systemic inequality. This is equally true of all centrally issued currencies.  But the inequity that is intrinsic to this system is politically and financially destabilizing, and so this system is unsustainable.

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Categories: Economics

The Future of Money

Chris Martenson - April 9, 2015 - 11:02
Executive Summary
  • Money functions as a store of value and a means of exchange, but it's possible to have 2 forms (or more) of money simultaneously serving as each
  • Having complementary forms of money can provide more resilience to a monetary system - history has a number of examples of this
  • A key success factor of such systems is that the forms of money are NOT issues and controlled by the State
  • Which new forms of money will arise when the current State fiat money regimes fail

If you have not yet read Part 1: The Fatal Flaw Of Centrally-Issued Money available free to all readers, please click here to read it first.

Separating Money’s Two Functions

Money has two basic functions: it is a store of value (that is, it holds its purchasing power long after you obtain it in trade for goods and services) and it is a means of exchange: there has to be enough in circulation to grease the exchange of goods and services.

Though we are accustomed to one form of money playing both of these roles, there is no reason why each function can’t be served by separate kinds of money—that is, one for exchange and one as a store of value.

This is precisely what we find in the historical record, where bills of exchange, letters of credit (in essence, credit money), paper chits from retailers and other ephemeral means of exchange greased trade while gold and silver or other scarce materials served as stores of value.

As anthropologist David Graeber established in his book Debt: The First 5,000 Years, money arose not from barter—the usual assumption—but from the rise of credit-based exchange and debt recorded on clay tablets, notched sticks or parchment.

In Graeber’s view, the key feature of money used for exchange is that it always has an end buyer.  The intrinsically worthless chit issued by a retailer can serve as money through dozens of transactions because everyone trusts that the issuer—the retailer—will accept the chit as being worth an established amount of goods, i.e. purchasing power.

If Joe’s Market issues a chit that can be traded for a can of beans, you and I can exchange that chit as payment of debt or purchase of some other good or service because we know we can always exchange the chit for a can of beans.  The chit serves as money.

When gold and silver were scarce in...

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Categories: Economics

Daily Digest 4/9 - Costs Of Easy Fed Now And Later, A Megacity Runs Dry

Chris Martenson - April 9, 2015 - 08:07
  • The Burden Of Denial
  • We’re Going to Step On a Mine before End of 2015-James Turk
  • Michael Lewis: 'I knew Flash Boys would be a bombshell'
  • Disruptive Stock Watcher Chris Berry Cautions Investors About the Real Potential of Deflation
  • How Chicago has used financial engineering to paper over its massive budget gap
  • Obama Adviser During Recession Is Given New Challenge: Climate Change
  • Dire costs of easy Fed now and later: Jim Grant
  • Top 12 Media Myths On Oil Prices
  • Saudi 'to borrow to finance soaring deficit', says report
  • Saudi Arabia crude output at record high in March
  • A Megacity Runs Dry
  • Fukushima disaster radiation detected off Canada's coast

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Categories: Economics

2015 Spring Newsletter

Beyond Money - April 8, 2015 - 15:31

In this issue:

  • Summer in Greece (and elsewhere in Europe)
  • The Greek Debt Crisis, an Opportunity for Innovation
  • California Events
  • African Currency Projects Proliferating
  • Good Reading, Listening, and Viewing

 Summer in Greece (and elsewhere in Europe)

The fates have conspired to draw me back to Greece this coming summer. I’ve recently had a lot of interesting correspondence with people in Europe who are working, in one way or another, on solutions to the intensifying global financial crisis. The eastern Mediterranean seems to be at the leading edge of the global debt tsunami so that’s the place to be.

I have been invited to serve as a Scientist in Residence at the holistic Kalikalos Summer School on the mythical Pelion peninsula near Volos, Greece. I will be there during the periods 12 to 19 June and 10 to 17 July, and possibly some other times in between or after those dates. During the 12-19 June period, Kalikalos will also feature a course, The Big Picture: Toward a new way of relating to self, community and planet, led by Jennifer Hinton and Theoharis Tziovaras, and during the 10 to 17 July period, Jonathan Dawson of Schumacher College (UK) will be offering a course, Economics of Solidarity, in which I will assist. My residency there will provide lots of opportunities for idea sharing and collaboration.

The school’s website describes it as follows: “The Kalikalos living learning centers in Pelion, Greece are dedicated to demonstrating the power of authentic community as a vehicle for building a new holistic world of peace, partnership and sustainability. Our three campuses offer an educational programme of workshops, retreats, workcamps, conferences and living-in-community guest weeks in the summer months that include healing (self, society & planet), creative arts, communication science, and Self-enquiry. For the latest information about the Centres, please subscribe to our bi-monthly newsletter at: www.kalikalos.com/eNews.”

In addition to my stay at Kalikalos, I expect to be spending some time elsewhere in Greece during June and July. Besides Athens and Volos, Crete and Cyprus are also possibilities. At the moment, August is open, but I plan to remain in Europe until early September. My return flight is booked from London, so I will be spending at least a few days in England prior to my departure. As always, I am open to visiting, presenting, and conferring in places along my routes. Proposals can be sent to me at thgreco@mindspring.com.

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The Greek Debt Crisis, an Opportunity for Innovation

Since the January elections there, and in anticipation of my summer visit, I’ve been looking closely at Greece,—researching its history, politics, and economy. A lot of media attention has been given to the new government of the Syriza Party and its populist agenda. Especially prominent in the news has been their new Finance Minister, Yanis Varoufakis who has been wrangling with Angela Merkel and the rest of Greece’s European creditors over restructuring the countries debt and relaxing the austerity conditions that were accepted by the previous administration.

Varoufakis has an impressive background and some unorthodox ideas about how to address the debt crisis that threatens to not only crush Greece, but to unravel the entire Eurozone. He is to be admired for his courage in standing up to the “troika” (the European Commission (EC), International Monetary Fund (IMF), and European Central Bank (ECB)), and for exposing the failures and pretense of the economics profession. Varoufakis’ blog provides links to many of his interviews and presentations, and his book, The Global Minotaur: America, the True Origins of the Financial Crisis and the Future of the World Economy, published in 2011 and updated in 2013, is now gaining wide attention.

That is not to say that he gets everything right. He may have the right approach to dealing with the immediate crisis of national insolvency, but he seems to be lacking when it comes to understanding the more fundamental flaws of money that is created by banks on the basis of interest-bearing debt, nor does he seem to appreciate the vast potential of innovative exchange mechanisms like mutual credit clearing and private currencies issued by trusted domestic producers.

He has however posted one currency idea on his blog that might be of some help if some features were to be changed. I have posted my suggestions about that as a comment to his post. You can find both his proposal and my comment at http://yanisvaroufakis.eu/2014/02/15/bitcoin-a-flawed-currency-blueprint-with-a-potentially-useful-application-for-the-eurozone/#comment-148955.

Besides accessing many web sources, I discovered, quite by accident in a local bookshop, a new book that is proving to be invaluable in providing me with essential background and insights into how things operate in Greece in the post-WWII era. The book is, The Thirteenth Labour of Hercules: Inside the Greek Crisis, authored by journalist Yannis Palaiologos (Portobello Books, 2014). Reading it has shown me the many dimensions of Greek politics and the domestic and foreign basis of the present crisis. It seems that there is plenty of blame to go around.

_____________________________________________________

California Events

I will spend the month of May going back and forth between California and the East Coast to visit family and friends. Then in early June prior to my departure for Europe, I will be occupied with events in California. On June 2, I will lead a discussion in Martinez (San Francisco Bay area). This event, sponsored the Mt. Diablo Peace Center and Friendly Favors, is titled, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea: What Greece needs to do to extricate itself from its economic and financial predicament. We will discuss the various options that Greece and other debtor nations might employ, both in dealing with their immediate problem of insolvency, and in rebuilding their sovereign domestic economies. Please see Details and RSVP at the Events page of www.favors.org.

Then, from June 4 thru 7, I’ll be participating in the conference, Seizing an Alternative: Toward an Ecological Civilization, to be held at Pomona College in southern California. This is shaping up to be a huge event with 12 sections and 80 tracks. I’ll be playing a major role in Section 1, The Threatening Catastrophe: Responding Now, Track 6: Political Collapse (http://www.ctr4process.org/whitehead2015/section-1-track-6/). I will be providing input on how the geopolitical order is determined by elite control of money and banking, and outline some promising strategies for empowering people and communities by reclaiming the credit commons.

_____________________________________________________

African Currency Projects Proliferating

We are finding great cause for optimism as we see successful programs in Africa being replicated and expanded. Will Ruddick and his team are continuing their excellent work, helping people to discover their own power by collaborating to establish exchange mechanisms based on the value of their own production. In a recent message Will reported that, in Kenya and South Africa, they are “in the process of implementing 8 community currency programs effecting [sic] well over 100,000 people.” Building upon their success with the Bangla-Pesa currency in Mombasa and the Gatina-Pesa in Nairobi, they expect these community currency projects will unlock the potential for local producers to greatly expand their trading with each other and to pull themselves up out of poverty. Will says, “We will be launching a 2nd community currency in Nairobi’s slums (Kangemi-Pesa) on April 4th… It will be a large event with marches through that area…These programs represent the foundation of what is rapidly becoming a global movement toward democratic and decentralized monetary systems. Creating resilient networks of markets across Africa is the path toward truly sustainable development”

Will also reports that they “have recently made the move to develop a non-profit foundation called Grassroots Economics to house these programs, and are looking for partners that really understand the seriousness of the monetary problem and the urgent need for community based solutions.” A quick update on the currency projects can be found here.

_____________________________________________________

Good Reading, Listening, and Viewing

Richard Werner is one of the few academic economists worth listening to. I recently read his

paper, How do banks create money, and why can other firms not do the same? An explanation for the coexistence of lending and deposit-taking. This is an excellent and clear explanation of the accounting sleight-of-hand that enables banks to create deposits (money) without the vast majority of people, even most bankers, realizing what is happening. Of course, many of us in the alternative exchange movement have long recognized that banks do this, but Richard’s explanation of HOW they are able to do this must be compelling even to his academic colleagues. This paper is a very important contribution to the literature of monetary and banking reform and transcendence because it also outlines the positive implications of some small changes in banking laws and regulations that could be made if there were the political will to do them.

Of course, understanding how the flawed money system operates is only the beginning, and political approaches to reform seem very unlikely. That knowledge must be used as a departure point from which to design and implement innovative market oriented approaches to extra-bank exchange. Mutual credit-clearing circles and private currencies spent into circulation by trusted issuers, can be organized by businesses and communities to provide “home-grown” liquidity. To my knowledge, there are at present no major legal obstacles in most countries that would impede such innovative technologies from being widely deployed. The Swiss WIR and the existing commercial “barter” exchanges are imperfect models that provide proof of concept. In the US at least, commercial barter exchanges are officially regarded as “third party record keepers” which are not subject to banking and money transfer regulations.

You might also enjoy viewing the documentary video, Princes of the Yen, which is based on Richard’s book by the same name (subtitled, Japan’s Central Bankers and the Transformation of the Economy). It makes me wonder if there might be a place for directed investment and allocation of credit by central governments in temporarily addressing the worst effects of the European debt crisis (other than bank bailouts, that is).

Students of innovation will be interested in The Innovators: How A Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution by Walter Isaacson. The audio version, which I have just finished, held my attention throughout the entire 15 CD set.

Since listening to his Black Swan in audio format a few years ago, I’ve been a fan of Nassim Taleb, so I’m now in the process of listening to his book, Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder. This is another work that is both iconoclastic and filled with original ideas. Highly recommend.

Finally, if you really want to understand what’s happening in the world, you need to follow Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. Dr. Roberts is one of the few commentators today who see what is really going on and is willing to tell about it. His recent interview by Greg Hunter is especially timely. View it in my post at BeyondMoney.net.

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Categories: Blogs

Daily Digest 4/8 - Massive Pension Liabilities Loom, China's Stocks Resume Rally

Chris Martenson - April 8, 2015 - 08:03
  • Massive Public Pension Liabilities Loom in Jacksonville
  • France to challenge 2016-17 EU structural budget target
  • Emanuel Leads Garcia in Polls as Chicago Veers Toward Insolvency
  • U.S. Government Bonds Weaken as New Note Sales Loom
  • ECB Hits March Bond Purchase Target
  • Spain Government Beats Italy to Borrow at Below-Zero Rate
  • Germany Owes $303 Billion War Debt, Greek Parliament Told
  • Overdue Greek Tax Debt Rose to 75.732 bln Euros in February
  • China’s Cloud Live Defaults on Local Debt
  • 1,837 La. bridges deemed structurally deficient
  • Medical costs in South Korea soar as difficulties of an aging society loom
  • One Quarter of Major Companies Unable to Pay Interest
  • No Fed rate hike needed until second half of 2016: Kocherlakota
  • China's stocks resume rally to seven-year high on stimulus bets

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Categories: Economics

10 Steps to a Healthier Community through Social Marketing

Shareable Magazine - April 8, 2015 - 08:01

Community-based social marketing (CBSM) encourages individuals to make life changes that are good for them and their community. Rather than trying to get people to buy cereal or a car, social marketers encourage them to do things like share more, reduce food waste, or stop smoking.

Categories: Economics

The New Me (Round 2)

Chris Martenson - April 8, 2015 - 06:52

Our longtime readers likely remember Chris' recount of his health transformation back in 2011, in which he trimmed off over 30 pounds through a process of prudent changes to his lifestyle.

I've gone through a similar transformation as Chris and have been meaning to share that story for a while now.

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Categories: Economics

Vertical Gardening Tips

Chris Martenson - April 7, 2015 - 15:58

A bunch of handy tips and methods of growing vertically to get the most out our your growing space and select crops.

http://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/vertical-gardening-zmaz89jazsto.aspx

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Categories: Economics

Daily Digest 4/7 - Bitcoin Foundation “Effectively Bankrupt," Will The Golden State Turn Brown?

Chris Martenson - April 7, 2015 - 07:20
  • Disaster Is Inevitable When The Two Decade-Old Stock Bubble Bursts
  • How to Stay Ahead of the Investment Herd
  • Bitcoin Foundation is “effectively bankrupt,” board member says
  • Waving Cash, Putin Sows E.U. Divisions in an Effort to Break Sanctions
  • The Iranian nuclear deal is deliberately vague, but parts are not hard to decode
  • California drought: Will the Golden State turn brown?
  • California: A Microcosm For Impending Global Water Crisis
  • California Olive Growers Cutting Down Orchards

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Categories: Economics

Creative Commons Launches Open Business Models Initiative

Shareable Magazine - April 7, 2015 - 06:56

In January, we wrote about Team Open, a project documenting some of the many artists, teachers, and scientists using Creative Commons licenses to share their work. Since then, Creative Commons launched a new project to help entrepreneurs, organizations, and governments use Creative Commons licenses and still generate income.

Categories: Economics

The Fed Is Destroying the World One Saver At A Time

Chris Martenson - April 6, 2015 - 21:25

I must confess to a deep-seated anger at just how insultingly stupid the world has become. As a sufferer of crisis fatigue I can be caught exclaiming You have got to be kidding me!!? several times per day, or perhaps shouting How dumb do they think we are?

Three choice outbursts came last week as I read Bernanke’s new blog and came across statements like this one:

 

 

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Categories: Economics

10 Items to Keep in Your Car or Truck for Emergencies

Chris Martenson - April 6, 2015 - 15:48

Learn about 10 essential items to keep in your car or truck that can help you greatly during a roadside emergency.

http://www.outdoorlife.com/blogs/survivalist/survival-skills-10-items-keep-your-car-or-truck-emergencies

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Categories: Economics

Rocks and Stones in the Garden

Chris Martenson - April 6, 2015 - 08:56

Rocks & stone can be a great addition to a garden or an orchard. Most gardeners will take the rocks out of their garden, but many times that is a mistake. In “Sepp Holzer’s Permaculture”, Sepp Holzer tells a story from his childhood about how he had the earliest, sweetest, biggest strawberries that he grew in a rocky area. He noticed his best strawberries were closest to the stones.

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Categories: Economics

Daily Digest 4/6 - Savers Suffer As Banks Cut Interest Rates, What's Earth's Growth Limit?

Chris Martenson - April 6, 2015 - 08:13
  • What's the limit to the planet's growth?
  • Savers suffer as banks cut deposit interest rates
  • Drug-Resistant Food Poisoning Lands In The U.S.
  • Who’s To Blame For The Oil Price Crash?
  • U.S. sardine fishery on West Coast to be shut down, scientists warn of collapse
  • Cakifornia Drought Tests History Of Endless Growth
  • Happy As A Pig In Mud
  • Fields Of Toxic Pesticides Surround The Schools Of Ventura County

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Categories: Economics