➪ Finance as warfare Read ➲ Author Michael Hudson – Motyourdrive.co.uk

10 thoughts on “Finance as warfare

  1. says:

    This was a poorly-written and poorly-edited volume, although I did manage to slog through it nonetheless, it was an unpleasant experience to read.

    Perhaps I don't know enough to appreciate Professor Hudson's style or thought. That's possible, since I'm far from being a professional economist. However, the book really didn't have much abstruse mathematical jargon, charts, or terminology. It's Hudson's writing style that lacks clarity and is repetitive.

    Mr. Hudson's "diagnosis" of the economic ills of the world consists of blaming everything on debt - be it household debt such as credit cards or personal loans, mortgage debt, corporate debt, or even sovereign country debt. He is vehemently opposed to parasitic rentier income - that is, interest income that banks or credit card cos receive from debts. He complains about interest rates and the imposition of predatory loans on consumers and countries. He probably is correct in his diagnosis but I do not think all the world's ills can be explained by extortionate interest rates, predatory lending practices. He is right about folks electing to make money by financial chicanery rather than investing in actual plant, R&D, hiring employees. Hudson is right about many things - the only problem is, his book lacks intellectual clarity.

    Here are the quotes:

    "The financial sector has the same objective as military conquest: to gain control of land and basic infrastructure, and collect tribute."

    "What formerly book blood and arms is now obtained by debt leverage."

    "Historians find a military origin of coined money in Greece, in the form of booty being melted down and divided among the officers and troops, with a tithe donated to the city-temple."

    "It was cheaper to give [Britain's American colonies] political liberty, using credit and investment as more efficient modes of exploitation."

    "The more the financial sector can reduce the government's tax take, the more rent [household income] is available for new [home] buyers to pay interest to banks for [mortgage] loans to buy property."

    "Without contributing to production, rentier income is overwhelmingly responsible for the wealthiest 1% obtaining 73 percent of U.S. income growth since the 2008 crash, while the 99% have seen their net worth deline."

    "Wall Street, the City of London, Frankfurt and other financial centers have replaced government to become our epoch's central planners."

    "The effect of this [predatory financial] behavior [by the 1%] can be seen demographically in statistics of rising suicide rates, shortening life spans and falling birth rates, and with increased suicide rates and emigration [as well as the opioid epidemic]."

    "Tacitus reports the words of the Celtic chieftain Calgacus, c. 83 AD, rousing his troops to fight by describing the [Roman] empire they were to fight against: 'Robbers of the world, having by their universal plunder exhausted the land ... If the enemy is rich, they are rapacious; if he is poor, they lust for dominion; neither the east nor the west has been able to satisfy them. ... To robbery, slaughter, plunder, they give the lying name of empire. They make a wasteland and call it peace.'"

    "Across the globe, the top 1% have increased their share of wealth and income to the steepest extreme since the Gilded Age of the late 19th and early 20th century."

    "For-profit technical schools such as the University Of Phoenix have notoriously low graduation rates, but use government-guaranteed loans to create an artificial market selling dreams that end in jobless student-loan peonage taking its place alongside debt serfdom for home buyers paying mortgages."

    "...the "traumatized worker" effect, "one paycheck away from homelessness," too fearful to strike or even to complain about working conditions or the lack of wage increases."

    "...in contrast to the public interest in lowering prices - by subsidizing basic services to make economies more competitive - the aim of private owners is to install toll booths to extract economic rent."

    "This concentration of wealth was achieved by rent extraction, bribery and fraud, facilitated by ideological patter that claims any way of transferring property into private ownership would help society grow richer faster."

    "As in consumer advertising, ideological engineering is used to "manufacture consent," using the mass media to broadcast an anti-tax and anti-regulatory ethic."

    "The world is seeing a retrogression of economic democracy back into rentier oligarchy."

    "Extending credit to purchase assets already in place bids up their price."

    "Money created for capital gains has a small propensity to be spent by their rentier owners on goods and services, so that an increasing proportion of the economy's money flows are diverted to circulation in the financial sector."

    "...rent - revenues from ownership "without working, risking, or economizing," as John Stuart Mill (1848) wrote of the landlords of his day, explaining that "they grow richer, as it were in their sleep."

    "In his 'Progress and Poverty' (1879) [Henry George] ... observed that much of the wealth created by social and technological advances is captured by landowners and other monopolists via economic rents."

    "In its interactions with the government, the financial sector buys bonds (and also makes campaign contributions)."

    "The government also enhances the real estate sector by providing transportation and other basic infrastructure that enhances the site value of property along the routes."

    "...after Latvian property prices soared as Swedish bank branches fueled the real estate bubble, living standards plunged."

    "The Obama Administration has broken its 2008 campaign promises to Congress and to voters to write down mortgage debt to the ability to pay or to market prices reflecting realistic rental values."

    "In place of a new bubble, financial elites are demanding privatization sell-offs from debt-strapped governments."

    "It is creating a new neo-feudal rentier class eager to buy roads to turn into toll roads, to buy parking -meter rights (as in Chicago's notorious deal), to buy prisons, schools and other basic infrastructure."

    "[The financial sector] ... is making its gains not by lending money - as the economy is now "loaned up" - but by direct ownership and charging economic rent."

    "...it should come as little surprise that the adverse effects of debt are sidestepped by advocates of the idea that financial institutions rather than government planners should manage society's development."

    "Finance and banking courses are taught from the perspective of how to obtain interest and asset-price gains through credit creation or by using other people's money, not how an economy may best steer savings and credit to achieve the best long-term development."

    "Increasingly, the discussion of finance and debt has been limited to monetarists with an anti-government ax to grind and vested interests to defend and indeed, promote with regard to financial deregulation."

    "Eight centuries of warfare with France had pushed Britain deeply into debt."

    "[Adam Smith thought that] A nation's real wealth lay in its productive prowers, not its money or the buildup of financial securities."

    "From 1817 through the repeal of [Britain's agricultural tariffs] the Corn Laws in 1846 the great political struggle in Britain ... was between the free-trade Manchester School and the protectionist landed interest."

    "...the policy conclusion of Ricardo's comparative labor-time approach to international trade theory was not that nations should avoid going into debt, but that they should abolish their tariffs to lower prices."

    "[In the 19th century] The was little hint that financiers and real estate interests would join to form a rentier bloc."

    "[J.S. Mill] ... believed that rents (most of which were on inherited lands) should be returned to the public domain as the tax base, as it had been in feudal times."

    "As an enlightened democratic aristocrat, [Count Claude-Henri de] St. Simon saw hereditary privilege as a parasitic burden for society."

    "...for today's financial planners the short run effectively has become the only aim."

    "Today's market orthodoxy has inverted the 19th-century reformers' spirit by endorsing financial gains indiscriminately."

    "By 1931, [Keynes] ... was pointing out that "the burden of monetary indebtedness in the world is already so heavy that any material addition would render it intolerable... In my own country it is the national debt raised for the purposes of the war which bulks largest. In Germany it is the weight of reparation payments fixed in terms of money... In the United States the main problem would be, I suppose, the mortgages of the farmer and loans on real estate generally.""

    "...the administered prices for interest and underwriting fees are akin to economic rent, out of which the financial sector's bloated salaries and bonuses are paid."

    "What needs to be examined is how to cope with the inherent tendency of debts to multiply in excess of the economy's ability to pay."

    "...the ruler's fiscal ability to tax the economy and to finance deficits (mainly in times of war) through public debt."

    "...a rising proportion of liquid savings is coming from the world's criminals and kleptocrats."

    "...the government borrows from the IMF and is forced to enact an anti-Keynesian austerity program. IMF riots break out, the government falls and a dictatorship oriented to serve global financial institutions is installed, friendly to the capital flight which strips the economy of its resources all the faster."

    "The more libertarian the theory, the more authoritarian the economic pedagogy tends to be, precisely because its reasoning rests on specious foundations."

    "...in the end the economy shrinks precisely because this "faux wealth" [the inflated stock market and real estate bubble] serves as a distraction, drawing savings away from direct investment in tangible capital formation."

    "A relevant mathematical economics would include an analysis of how wealth is turned into political power by campaign contributions, ownership of the popular press and media, and the subsidy of education and culture."

    "...financial institutions have become the major economic planners of our epoch, usurping the former role of governments."

    "Monetarist models serve largely to distract popular attention from the extent to which more wealth is being generated bmore by asset-price inflation - than by building new factories to employ more people."

    "Monetarist planning subjects the world to austerity to pay debts to a creditor class absorbing a growing proportion of the world's wealth, leading to economic polarization."

    "...economists have been mobilized to serve creditor interests."

    "...financial conquest is seeking today what military conquest did in the times past: control of land and basic infrastructure, industry and mining, banking systems and even government finances to extract the economic surplus as interest and toll booth-type economic rent charges."

    "...when the Fed talks about the "the economy," it means asset markets - above all for real estate, as some 80% of bank loans in the United States are mortgage loans."

    "... [According to New York Federal Reserve chairman William C. Dudley] household debt has risen "faster than income growth...since the 1950s.""

    "Foreign countries are to serve as markets for a resurgence of U.S. industrial exports (and at least arms sales are taking off to India and Saudi Arabia), and most of all as financial markets for U.S. banks and speculators to make money at the expense of foreign central banks trying to stabilize their currencies."

  2. says:

    Good premise but as a book, it is poorly executed. There is no structure to the writing. It just sounds like a string of soundbites pulled from his interviews.

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