Thursday, July 25, 2013


Germany wants its gold bullion back from the Federal Reserve, but it's been told to wait seven years.
One should ask, why does Germany keep its gold in a vault in New York City? Why not in its homeland? 
Short in the American dollar as reserve currency since end of WWII and fear of takeover by USSR.
Gold at the Feds is basically collateral for quick loans of American dollars. But if American dollars aren't wanted as much...countries ask to repatriate gold. 
Nixon took the dollar off the gold standard. Today, gold is being hoarded in many countries, including China, which has sold off a lot of its US bonds and is instead buying gold. This shows overall a lack of confidence in the US dollar and a growing confidence in gold. 
Also failing the confidence test, is the World Bank, mainly funded by the US, which is now refusing to allow the US Government Accounting Office to conduct an audit. We will be seeing a lot of scandals involving US directed financial institutions...but turning to BRIC economies won't necessarily be any better for the world economy, in my view. 
Yes, this is a public relations disaster for the Feds...really a laughing stock right now. But Germany wants to downplay everything, since it doesn't want to look like it 'lost' its gold!
BTW, I really like Max Kaiser for financial info ... outrageous but really intriguing. The National Taxpayers Union is a very good source.

Thursday, July 18, 2013


Please look at this list below of the top 25 of 147 ‘super connected companies’. What do you suppose are their countries of origin, or where they are based, legally? Ask yourself if they can be characterized as ‘transnational’.
Randal wrote “With this reference point in mind the authors of "The Global 1%" utilize data from Orbis 2007, a database listing thirty-seven million companies and investors, the Swiss researchers applied mathematical models—usually used to model natural systems—to the world economy. The study is the first to look at all 43,060 transnational corporations and the web of ownership between them. The research created a “map” of 1,318 companies at the heart of the global economy. The study found that 147 companies formed a “super entity” within this map, controlling some 40 percent of its wealth. The top twenty-five of the 147 super-connected companies includes:
1. Barclays PLC*
2. Capital Group Companies Inc.
3. FMR Corporation
4. AXA
5. State Street Corporation
6. J. P. Morgan Chase & Co.*
7. Legal & General Group PLC
8. Vanguard Group Inc.
10. Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc.*
11. Wellington Management Co. LLP
12. Deutsche Bank AG
13. Franklin Resources Inc.
14. Credit Suisse Group*
15. Walton Enterprises LLC
16. Bank of New York Mellon Corp
17. Natixis
18. Goldman Sachs Group Inc.*
19. T Rowe Price Group Inc.
20. Legg Mason Inc.
21. Morgan Stanley*
22. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc.
23. Northern Trust Corporation
24. Société Générale
25. Bank of America Corporation*
* BlackRock Directors

I wrote to Randal:
Note the nationality of these corporations...mainly US and Japanese based. No wonder Business English is one of the most sought after classes around the world.  I think this term 'transnational' is a misnomer. Maybe it will become so in the future, but this list bears out Sklair's research that 60% of so called 'transnational' wealth is in legally housed in either Japan and the US. What's also interesting is how many banks are in this list.

Sarah found an article in  the Economist on the global ruling class, which she writes, is a simplified term for the transnational class. “This article attempts to define a typical global class ruler as someone who attends either Harvard, Stanford, or the University of Chicago. They work at Goldman Sachs, and sit on the same direction boards. It is a revision of old money or WASP society redefined global style.”
Note here also, the preponderance of American universities, mostly Ivy League.
Global ruling class to me is a more accurate term than ‘transnational capital’ which implies that capital is being transferred around the world. Clearly it’s not, if you compare national GDPs:
USA=$15 trillion out of $70 trillion world GDP…approx.. figures according to the CIA Factbook. That’s 1/6th of global GDP. Compare to ratio of population: US=350 million. World=7 billion, roughly 5%. That means that 5% of the world’s population accounts for 22% of the world’s wealth.
 Compare to Russia: $2 trillion,  UK (a tiny island, but remember the City of London is the global center of banking) at $2 trillion; China : $8 trillion …an official figure that the CIA disputes and believes is higher…
To say that US wealth is bound by a ‘transnational state’ , as claimed by Robinson and Sklair…doesn’t make sense. Of course, there are offshore banks and islands, where corporations can siphon off profits in order to avoid taxation. President Obama is trying to call a halt to this.
Corporate loopholes don’t necessarily mean sheltering profits in the Cayman Islands. Lucrative legal headquarters exist in the US. Here is an example about Starbucks:
“Starbucks had already mastered the art of doing business on multiple continents as it grew from a niche coffee retailer in Seattle into a global brand with thousands of outlets from Saudi Arabia to Peru. Now the company smelled a fresh opportunity that required a presence in mysterious territory with its own unique culture: Washington, D.C.
It was 2004 and Congress was considering a law that would provide substantial tax breaks to nearly any company engaged in manufacturing. Though this term conjured images of textile factories and steel mills, Starbucks argued that the definition of manufacturing should -- for purposes of calculating its tax bill -- be stretched to include the roasting of coffee beans.
Starbucks hired an outside lobbyist, Michael Evans of the Washington powerhouse K&L Gates, paying his firm $60,000 that year, according to lobbying reports. Evans was only a year removed from his previous incarnation as a top lawyer on the Senate Finance Committee, the panel that writes the nitty-gritty of tax law. At his urging, lawmakers soon delivered what became known as "the Starbucks footnote," a clause added to a 243-page tax bill called the American Jobs Creation Act.
The provision enabled Starbucks to claim something called a "domestic production activities" tax deduction on each cup of coffee sold in one of its American retail stores. The measure has since saved Starbucks $88 million, according to the company.
Starbucks asserts that its tax savings are entirely legitimate. “

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


A student wrote in my INTL 5400 class:

"The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) found that the “poorest country in 2011 was poorer than the poorest country in 1980.  And much of humankind continues to live on less than $1 a day” (Jaura, 2013).  OECD believes that globalization is actually creating a larger gap between the rich and the poor instead of helping the entire world develop as a collective.  A series of studies by the OECD highlight both sides of globalization: in Brazil, a young professional manicurist left her rural home and moved to Sao Paulo and due to the economic growth in Brazil the future is looking very bright with a new car, health insurance and other commodities; on the other hand in Mali, a farmer is making less money for his cotton crops because of the additional charges from the state-run textile development company.  The inequality between the rising standard of living and declining wages are a big piece in the argument against globalization.  Pilger and his crew interviewed several families in Indonesia who were afraid they would not be able to pay for medication for their children and have to reduce their daily food intake from 3 meals a day to 2 meals day.  The article from Arab news highlights those same fears in other developing countries.
Jaura’s article also claims that China is somewhat of an exception to progress and growth from the developing world and that its good results distort the statistics from decreasing world poverty.  An OECD study shows that “in the last 20 years, rapid globalization has occurred alongside a worldwide decrease in extreme poverty.  Since 1990, the number of people surviving on under $1 a day has dropped by 25 percent” (Jaura, 2013).  China’s per capita income is increasing faster than most other developing countries and the large population means that a larger number of people move out of the $1 a day standard of living than in smaller countries.
I do not completely agree with Pilger’s perspective and the “hard data” from the Arab News article.  Statistics can always be drawn and manipulated to create the results a study wants to produce.  I believe the saying is, “there are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”  Certainly there continues to be inequality between the rich and the poor and in some place the gap is actually growing wider.  However, a lot of the statistics pulled for the antiglobalization argument are misleading.  An economist from Columbia, Xavier Sala-i-Martin, said many of the statistics from the 1999 United Nations Human Development Report depart from “standard economic procedures, like not correcting for price levels from country to country” (Postrel, 2002).  Some of the stats only included a selective number of countries.  The biggest error Sala found was that the report “looked at gaps in income of the richest and poorest countries—not rich and poor individuals” (Postrel, 2002).  Comparing small populations like Grenada to large populations like China and giving them equal weight in a report does not seem like an accurate way to describe wealth inequality.  With China’s (and India) rising economy during globalization, billions of people have increased their standard of living.  “From the point of view of individuals, economic liberalization has been a huge success.  ‘You have to look at people,’ says Professor Sala-i-Martin. ‘Because if you look at countries, we do have lots and lots of little countries that are doing very poorly, namely Africa’’ (Postrel, 2002).  The entire population of the continent of Africa is about half the population of China, so despite the continued poverty in Africa individuals have increased their wealth and standard of living.
Jaura, Ramesh.  “Globalization Makes Poor More Vulnerable.”  Arab News.  25 Apr 2013.  Accessed 6 Jul 2013.
Pilger, John. The New Rulers of the World.  Dir. John Pilger.  2001.  Accessed 6 Jul 2013.


The question is, who has the EU benefited so far? One student in my Summer 2013  INTL 5400 class has provided some promising statistics for the Eastern European countries, but that is not the whole story.
I was born in the UK, and go back there often. The media consensus there is the following. The EU:
1) Created a layer of EU politicians and members of the EU Parliament  who are making decisions unilaterally in Belgium, home of the EU parliament (and living high off the hog in Brussels!) Political integration has not followed economic integration.
2) The British don't want to adopt the Euro  and are confused by European measurements. Dealing with two different measurements...the lb (pound) and the kilo...has created a huge headache for retailers.
3) French cheese has flooded the British market, undercutting British cheese producers - applies to other products as well. Upset occurs when British food products are said not to achieve EU standards.
4) Floods of Romanian gypsies have arrived in Britain, begging on the streets. Britain's welfare programs have attracted many impoverished Eastern Europeans.
On the upside:
1) Cheap labor from Eastern Europe in  British restaurants, shops etc. Of course that's not great for the workers, and British workers' pay is being undercut.
2) Another human rights court (the  European Court of Human Rights) that supersedes British human rights courts (which some might think is not an advantage).
In countries like Italy and Spain, there is huge resentment against Germany, which is basically managing the Euro. If Turkey does join the Euro, ironically one would see the old WWI alliance of Turkey and Germany, BTW. Germany, being the strongest country in the EU, effectively runs it, and has imposed strict austerity measures on countries like Greece and Cyprus. This in turn triggered mass deprivations and then protests.