Category Archives: Harm through the market

Oligopolies and monopolies are very important ways of obtaining income without providing a productive service. They produce goods, a productive service. However, they receive additional income by raising prices, and their oligopoly/monopoly profits are distinguished by economists from normal profits and other expenses, which are the returns to productive activity. There are other harmful aspects to concentration and large firms as well, including restriction of innovation, using patents to defend market position, labor market power, including non-compete requirements for their employees, and substantial political power.  It is important to bring out that this harm involves the productive sector. Goods are being produced, but part of the income is from harmful activity. This is very often true–harmful activity is intertwined with productive. Also see Obtaining income from the government as both are often involved. Tax havens are another way in which taxes can be minimized and income from corruption can be laundered.

Damage to the U.S. economic and financial system 2020

A revealing report on the mid-March financial crisis Nick Beams World Socialist Web Site November 19, 2020 See the Financial Stability Board’s full report (60 page PDF file)

As the Financial Times noted in a report on the crisis in September: “The US government bond market is akin to the investment world’s bomb shelter, a safe space where everyone can seek refuge when the rest of the financial system is exploding. In March, the bomb shelter itself started to rumble ominously.”

According to the FSB report, the crisis was set off when foreign investors, primarily central banks, sold off almost $300 billion worth of US Treasury debt. “Market dysfunction” was then exacerbated by “substantial sales” of US Treasuries as speculative and highly-leveraged trades, based on taking advantage of the difference between the price of Treasury bonds and their futures, became loss-making.

The large-scale unwinding of these trades, amounting to $90 billion during March, was “likely one of the contributors to a short period of extreme illiquidity on government bond markets,” the report said.

The storm lasted for a “short period” not because of any self-correction mechanism in financial markets but only as a result of the massive intervention by the US Federal Reserve and other major central banks that prevented a meltdown of the entire financial system going far beyond what took place in 2008.

A hedge fund bailout highlights how regulators ignored big risks Jeanna Smialek and Deborah B. Solomon New York Times July 24, 2020
The Dodd-Frank financial law succeeded at making banks safer, but empowered shadowy corners of finance that nearly wrecked the system in March.

Businesses are supposed to cut debt in a downturn. Why not now? Matt Phillips New York Times July 20, 2020
The Federal Reserve’s efforts to stabilize markets have touched off an even bigger borrowing binge than corporate America was already on. Investors have been so emboldened by the Fed’s actions that even companies viewed as especially risky are having no problem borrowing heavily…. The low costs of borrowing will inevitably keep some companies alive that would otherwise have gone bankrupt this year, creating a class of so-called zombie companies that stagger along but are too weak to invest and grow while sucking up cash that could be put to better use elsewhere.

Cover of the Code of Capital Credit: Princeton University Press

The Code of Capital: How the Law Creates Wealth and Inequality by Katharina Pistor

The Code of Capital: How the Law Creates Wealth and Inequality by Katharina Pistor Princeton University Press 2019

A review of Katharina Pistor’s ‘The Code of Capital: How the Law Creates Wealth and Inequality’ Massimiliano Vatiero Oxford Business Law Blog January 15, 2020

The best law Capital can buy Jomo Kwame Sundaram Inter Press Service June 25, 2020

Cover of the Code of Capital Credit: Princeton University Press

Tax havens 2020

The ominous rise of African financial centers: The case of Mauritius Pritish Behuria Review of African Political Economy December 1, 2020

Goldman Sachs Malaysia arm pleads guilty in 1MDB fraud Matthew Goldstein and Emily Flitter New York Times October 22, 2020
All told, Goldman will pay billions in penalties and disgorgement in Malaysia, the United States and Hong Kong for its role in the looting of the 1Malaysia Development Berhad fund.

Fincen Files: Thousands of secret suspicious activity reports offer a never-before-seen picture of corruption and complicity—and how the government lets it flourish Jason Leopold, Anthony Cormier, Jeremy Singer-Vine, Scott Pham, Richard Holmes, Azeen Ghorayshi, Michael Sallah, Tanya Kozyreva, and Emma Loop Buzzfeed News September 20, 2020
A huge trove of secret government documents reveals for the first time how the giants of Western banking move trillions of dollars in suspicious transactions, enriching themselves and their shareholders while facilitating the work of terrorists, kleptocrats, and drug kingpins. And the US government, despite its vast powers, fails to stop it.

Report documents criminality and corruption at heart of global banking system Barry Grey World Socialist Website September 22, 2020

Despite sanctions, the networks of Venezuela’s corrupt elite continue to reach the United States. Fresh revelations underscore the need to end anonymous companies, once and for all. Gary Kalman Transparency International July 2, 2020

Who is opening the gates for kleptocrats? Transparency International June 11, 2020

Dethroned Azerbaijani elites made big investments in Europe OCCRP May 30, 2020

The United Arab Emirates: A key piece in the global money laundering puzzle Transparency International May 11, 2020

Nothing to see here. Middle-men in the UK and Spain are falling short of anti-money laundering requirements. Theo van der Merwe Transparency International June 12, 2020

Rifaat al-Assad: Syrian President’s uncle jailed in France for money laundering BBC News June 17, 2020

Professional enablers of crime during crises Transparency International May 25, 2020 (Download the report from this page.)

How U.S. firms helped Africa’s richest women exploit her country’s wealth Michael Forsythe, Kyra Gurney, Scilla Alecci and Ben Hallman New York Times January 19, 2020

Doors Wide Open: Corruption and real estate in four key markets Maíra Martini Transparency International 2017 (40 page PDF file)
How the corrupt are able to purchase luxury real estate in Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Ten worst countries in the world for working people Credit: ITUC

2020 ITUC Global Rights Index: violations of workers’ rights at seven-year high

Ten worst countries in the world for working people Credit: ITUC

ITUC June 18, 2020 The breakdown of the social contract has been exposed in the 2020 International Trade Union Confederation Global Rights Index with violations of workers’ rights at a seven-year high.

This trend, by governments and employers, to restrict the rights of workers through limiting collective bargaining, disrupting the right to strike, and excluding workers from unions, has been made worse by a rise in the number of countries that impede the registration of unions.

An increase in the number of countries that deny or constrain freedom of speech shows the fragility of democracies while the number of countries restricting access to justice has remained unacceptably high at last year’s levels.

A new trend identified in 2020 shows a number of scandals over government surveillance of trade union leaders in an attempt to instill fear and put pressure on independent unions and their members.

The General Secretary of the ITUC, Sharan Burrow, said: “These threats to workers, our economies and democracy were endemic in workplaces and countries before the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted lives and livelihoods. In many countries, the existing repression of unions and the refusal of governments to respect rights and engage in social dialogue has exposed workers to illness and death and left countries unable to fight the pandemic effectively.

“As we look towards the recovery and build resilient economies, the 2020 ITUC Global Rights Index is a benchmark against which we will hold governments and employers to account.

“If the findings of the Rights Index are not shocking enough, we are already seeing some countries take things further. Under the cover of measures to tackle the coronavirus pandemic, they are advancing their anti-workers’-rights agenda. This has got to stop and be reversed.

“The Global Rights Index exposes a breakdown in the social contract that governments and employers have with working people. There’s a trend to restrict working rights through violations of collective bargaining, withholding the right to strike and excluding workers from unions.

“But the Rights Index is not just a list of violations. It is a stark picture of the rights deficits we need to address as we build the new economic model the world needs as it recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic. It must be a resilient global economy built on a New Social Contract: a new commitment to workers’ rights, renewed investment in compliance and the rule of law, and a foundation of workplace democracy.”

The Middle East and North Africa is the worst region in the world for working people, for seven years running, due to the ongoing insecurity and conflict in Palestine, Syria, Yemen and Libya, coupled with the most regressive region for workers’ representation and union rights.

The ten worst countries for working people in 2020 are Bangladesh, Brazil, Colombia, Egypt, Honduras, India, Kazakhstan, the Philippines, Turkey and Zimbabwe.

The seventh edition of the ITUC Global Rights Index ranks 144 countries on the degree of respect for workers’ rights. Key findings include:

  • 85 per cent of countries violated the right to strike.
  • 80 per cent of countries violated the right to collectively bargain.
  • The number of countries that impeded the registration of unions has increased.
  • Three new countries entered the list of ten worst countries for workers (Egypt, Honduras, India)
  • The number of countries that denied or constrained freedom of speech increased from 54 in 2019 to 56 in 2020.
  • Workers were exposed to violence in 51 countries.
  • Workers had no or restricted access to justice in 72 per cent of countries.
  • Workers experienced arbitrary arrests and detention in 61 countries.