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You've Got No Job!

Chris Martenson - February 6, 2014 - 23:45

Today, the pundits are a-buzz making sense of the latest lackluster jobs report. Expect much hand-wringing over the impact of the 'polar vortex' and that Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow.

But most of us care more about the state of one particular job: our own. How relevant is this latest bit of data to that? Not very.

So, to better understand the trends in the work environment most likely impact our own paychecks, it will help to look at another bellwether similar to our fuzzy groundhog friend: AOL.

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Categories: Economics

The emerging market mess and US manipulations

Beyond Money - February 6, 2014 - 22:40

Anyone who wants to understand present-day geopolitical phenomena must pay attention to former Assistant Treasury Secretary, Dr. Paul Craig Roberts. Roberts is one of a handful of people who understands what is going on–and is willing to tell people about it. Explore his website http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/, and be sure to listen to his recent interview with Eric King, here.

In that interview, Roberts tells the story of how and why the US interferes in money and securities markets, and the effects those manipulations have on others around the world. He also predicts that the Federal Reserve will soon be faced with the choice of either saving the banks or saving the dollar, perhaps as early as the end of this year. But I suspect that the Fed may not quite yet have exhausted their bag of tricks. Because banking corporations dominate politics in most of the world, and because the dollar’s role as the global reserve currency has served the purpose of Western dominance, the Fed, in alliance with other central banks, will try to save both the banks and the dollar for as long as they can.

What is actually being protected is the global usury-based debt-money regime, that unholy alliance between politicians and top level banks that enables central governments to spend far in excess of their tax and other revenues, thereby thwarting democratic government and the popular will, while enabling banking institutions to privatize our collective credit and charge us interest (usury) to access it.

So what do the central banks have left in their bag of tricks as they taper off their massive amounts of  “quantitative easing” (currency inflation)? That’s the question to ponder. I think it’s obvious that they will (1) try to corral everyone’s savings and all surpluses into government securities and Wall Street equities (think, privatization of Social Security), and (2) outright confiscation of bank deposits via selective bank failures and assessments on depositors (ala the recent Cyprus trial balloon).

Still, those can only be, at best, delaying tactics, and not without serious social and political repercussions. The real solution will continue to be denied and delayed by the powers that be. Thus it must emerge from the bottom, from the creative instincts and talents of innovators in many fields who are bringing to market better ways of mediating the exchange of value and financing the creation of sustainable, Earth-friendly, and life-supporting products and services. –t.h.g.

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Categories: Blogs

You Did It!

Shareable Magazine - February 6, 2014 - 09:08

Wow, YOU did it. Shareable’s Sharing Cities Network crowdfunding campaign surpassed our $50K goal and raised $54,501, allowing us to earn the $25,000 matching grant from the SHIFT foundation! We are so grateful for your support. In the end we received 356 contributions—from people in 22 countries and 33 U.S. states—who are excited and committed to make sharing cities a reality.

Categories: Economics

Daily Digest 2/6 - Drought Impacting CA Cattle, Avoiding Money's Privatization

Chris Martenson - February 6, 2014 - 09:00
  • Christie's cancels Joan Miro auction intended to cover bank bailout
  • JP Morgan Holds Highest Amount Of Physical Silver In History
  • A massive leak cracks open the secrets of tax havens
  • Foreign exchange allegations 'as bad as Libor', says regulator
  • Turkish potato price surge adds political, economic pressure before polls
  • Canada senator, ex-senator charged with fraud on expenses
  • Marc Faber: Market volatility will continue, here’s why
  • Public Money: Avoiding Its Privatization
  • Drought Impacting California Cattle Industry
  • Diesel prices on rise in wake of refinery fire
  • Japan Looks at Dozens of New Geothermal Power Plants
  • Searching for signs of Fukushima radiation on North Coast
  • Doug Casey: ‘We are heading toward The Greater Depression’

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Categories: Economics

Off the Cuff: Down From Here?

Chris Martenson - February 5, 2014 - 20:24

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

  • Down From Here?
    • Odds are the market top is behind us
  • Lack of Fear
    • Despite the evidence, too much investor optimism remains
  • Why the Fed Cares More About Growth Than Consumers
    • Because the banks can't function without it
  • Europe on the Verge
    • Expect the big players to fail this time

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Categories: Economics

Resilience Seminar @ Omega Institute, Rhinebeck, NY July 18-20, 2014

Chris Martenson - February 5, 2014 - 18:05

Chris will be a featured teacher at the "Resilience From The Inside Out" seminar at the Omega Institute this summer.

For more information on the weekend seminar, click here:

http://www.eomega.org/workshops/resilience-from-the-inside-out#-workshop...

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Categories: Economics

Seminar @ Omeage Institute, Rhinebeck, NY July 18-20, 2014

Chris Martenson - February 5, 2014 - 18:05

Chris will be a featured teacher at the "Resilience From The Inside Out" seminar at the Omega Institute this summer.

For more information on the weekend seminar, click here:

http://www.eomega.org/workshops/resilience-from-the-inside-out#-workshop...

Join the conversation »

Categories: Economics

A "Pay-It-Forward" Approach to Funding Solar Power

Andreas Karelas of RE-Volv and Kaia Burkett of the Kehilla Community Synagogue (l to r), with signed papers that provide investment funds for the synagogue's solar power installation. Photo courtesy RE-Volv.

Solar energy doesn't spill or pollute, it's often cheaper for consumers than many other power sources, and three-quarters of Americans want more of it, according to recent polling. So why do so few buildings sport photovoltaic panels?

Payments are rolled back into a revolving fund, providing the seed money for the next solar project.

Any building owner or individual household that chooses to go solar must manage the steep costs of installing panels. Despite tax rebates and government incentives, such initial investments can run into the tens of thousands of dollars.

RE-Volv, a San Francisco-based nonprofit organization, is working to make solar more financially accessible to local community groups. The organization is building a program that allows community centers to make the switch to clean energy with no upfront costs.

Here's how it works: Money donated to RE-Volv by community members and a growing network of solar enthusiasts is used to finance the purchase and installation of solar panels for a community center. Then, instead of paying a power company, the community center makes a monthly payment to RE-Volv. These payments are then rolled back into the revolving fund, providing the seed money for the next solar project. With each new project, RE-Volv increases the size of the fund—making more financing available to facilitate the spread of solar.

For example, the group's first project put solar panels on the Shawl Anderson Dance Center in Berkeley, Calif., last year.

"We raise the money [and] finance the system," said Andreas Karelas, executive director of RE-Volv. "[The community centers] pay us back every month and the amount [we bill them] comes up to 15 to 30 percent less than what they were paying for electricity before. And they don't have to put any money down."

There are other organizations that use a crowdfunding model to invest in solar projects, including Solar Mosaic and Collective Sun. The revolving fund is the difference between RE-Volv and these groups. Rather than offering a gradual return on an initial investment, donations to RE-Volv are continually reinvested in solar installations, providing an opportunity for backers—such as community members and solar enthusiasts—to make an impact that lasts well beyond the initial donation. The intent of the donors is critical: RE-Volv's supporters are motivated primarily by a desire to facilitate the spread of solar, rather than to see a financial return.

Karelas says he hopes the project will eventually reach a critical mass.

Moreover, while other solar funders help to finance solar installations for a wide variety of businesses, RE-Volv only supports projects for community centers. Karelas lists several reasons for this. First, the mission-driven nature of community centers means RE-Volv's hard work will always go to an organization making a positive impact on people's lives. And by focusing its efforts on well-established community anchors, RE-Volv believes it is able to maximize its marketing impact. Solar panels go up. People talk about it. More people are turned on to the benefits of solar.

Like what you’re reading? YES! is nonprofit and relies on reader support.
Click here to chip in $5 or more
to help us keep the inspiration coming.

Karelas says he hopes the project will eventually reach a critical mass: Once the solar program has 12 projects sending payments back to the revolving loan fund, it should generate enough revenue to allow RE-Volv to fund one new project each year—without the need to crowdsource new funds to get started. As the organization grows, the number of active projects should increase.

RE-Volv recently raised funds to finance the installation of a 26-kilowatt system for the Kehilla Community Synagogue in Oakland, Calif., an LGBTQ-friendly, progressive faith community of about 350 families, which places emphasis on social justice and sustainability. RE-Volv estimates that the project will save the synagogue a total of $150,000 over a 20-year period and keep an estimated 18,500 pounds of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere each year.

Corey Hill wrote this article for YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas and practical actions. He is the membership and outreach coordinator at Global Exchange. Follow Corey on Twitter at @Newschill.

Read more:

  • Building a Solar Economy: 4 Lessons from Hawai'i
  • What's Cheaper than Solar, Slashes Carbon Emissions, and Creates Jobs in Kentucky?
  • Like Shopping at Local Businesses? Now You Can Invest in Them, Too
Categories: Economics

From Sharing Cities to a Sharing World

Shareable Magazine - February 5, 2014 - 11:21

Top image: Free Grunge Textures. Article adapted from Sharing.org

Categories: Economics

Daily Digest 2/5 - S&P Downgrades Puerto Rico, World Bracing For Retirement Crisis

Chris Martenson - February 5, 2014 - 08:34
  • Venezuela Selloff Worsens as U.S. Oil Exports Sink
  • Troika Estimates Greece Will Need Further Financial Support
  • Pennsylvania's cost of prisons tops $2 billion: Pa. budget 2014
  • Cyprus banks saddled with massive non-performing loans
  • German yields fall on talk Draghi wants to stop sterilisation
  • U.S. deficit to decline, then rise as labor market struggles: CBO
  • Health-Care Law Expected to Take Greater Toll on Workforce
  • Ruble Slump Prompts Large Intervention in January
  • Russia cancels domestic bond auction citing market conditions
  • Anthem to raise some premiums as much as 25%
  • World bracing for retirement crisis: Part 2
  • Cost, not 'invincibility,' keeps young people from buying health insurance: Cal State survey
  • S&P downgrades Puerto Rico debt to junk status

Join the conversation »

Categories: Economics

Success stories

Beyond Money - February 4, 2014 - 19:45

Every day brings new stories about the successful application of new exchange mechanisms that are helping people to survive and thrive in the face of monetary dysfunctions and misguided government policies that are becoming ever more prevalent.

This report from Kenya is a moving and inspiring account of one aging woman’s efforts to keep her family fed and housed.

Maciana Anyango’s husband died a long time ago, leaving her with 5 children to care for alone. Even though she is 64 now, and most of her children are grown, she still bears the burden for caring for her family. Her oldest son, who might have taken on this responsibility, also died, and her oldest daughter is disabled from a bout of TB. Her surviving son was trained as a driver, but he’s been unable to find work, so he, his wife, and his two children live with Marciana, along with Mariciana’s disabled daughter and youngest daughter (17 years). Marciana didn’t have the money to send her youngest daughter to secondary school. And, although she received some training as a tailor, she is also unemployed.

So, Marciana supports this household from the sale of porridge and a bean and maize soup. The porridge sells for 15ksh ($0.18) and soup for 10ksh ($0.12). She usually makes around 600ksh ($7) a day to feed a family of 7. Technically, this puts her above the international poverty line based on the lower cost of living in Kenya, but, as she leaned her forehead against a pole, looked down at her worn red flip flops and dust covered feet, and told us about her life, we could feel the exhaustion caused by her efforts to keep her family fed and housed, and some sadness at being unable to keep her daughters in school and in good health.

Things are improving for Marciana now. She became a member of Koru’s Bangladesh Business Network in December and started trading the Bangla-Pesa voucher with fellow members. More…

And a world away in the United States, commercial trade exchanges (sometimes called “barter exchanges”) are continuing to proliferate and develop in ways that promise to make moneyless trading mechanisms ever more effective and accessible. Trade Authority is an entity that is promoting the proliferation of member-owned trade exchanges and plans eventually to network these exchanges together to enable members to spend their trade credits over a wider area. View their introductory video here.

 


Categories: Blogs

The #SharingSpring is About to Bloom

Shareable Magazine - February 4, 2014 - 15:00

Image credit: Soniapr

Something amazing is about to happen in the sharing movement.

Categories: Economics

Learn to Jam: 20 Tips for Making Music with Friends

Shareable Magazine - February 4, 2014 - 12:08

Top image: brizzle born and bred / Foter. Cross-posted from Kim Alexander.

Since 2005, I have made a point of getting together with friends on a regular basis to make music. It's always on Thursday nights and it's called "Music Night." I recently shared my 20 Jam Tips with legendary folk singer Pete Seeger. He urged me to share them with a wider audience.

Categories: Economics

Chris & Adam "Sneak Peek" Presentation + Q&A in Sebastopol, CA - March 4 @ 7:00pm

Chris Martenson - February 4, 2014 - 11:40

If you live in Northern California, come join Chris and me in Sebastopol on Tuesday, March 4th. And bring along at least one friend or family member you think would benefit from becoming more aware about the issues we discuss here at PeakProsperity.com.

Why?

Because we've been hard at work over the past 5 months creating new video material. And we have a new 1-hour "accelerated" version of the Crash Course we want to take for a test drive, with both seasoned and brand-new viewers.

Join the conversation »

Categories: Economics

Daily Digest 2/4 - The Rise Of China's Super-Rich, Did Spies Sink Climate Deal?

Chris Martenson - February 4, 2014 - 09:55
  • Why are Taxpayers Subsidizing Big Mac Buyers?
  • The Story Behind 'Milk Road,' The Bitcoin Cookie Stand
  • The Federal Reserve Lies About Everything–Rob Kirby
  • The Middle Class Is Steadily Eroding. Just Ask the Business World.
  • The Rise Of China's Super-Rich
  • Pipeline rupture report raises questions about TransCanada inspections
  • Emissions impossible: Did spies sink key climate deal?
  • Why Iran's Economy Might Not Get a Big Break from Sanctions

Join the conversation »

Categories: Economics

As Trans-Pacific Partnership Falters, Opponents Go After Fence-Sitting Pols

Linda Newton, Vandana Whitney, and Eiya Wolfe (l to r) deliver a "spineless citation" to the staff of House Democrat Suzan DelBene, who has not taken a public position on fast-track legislation for the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Photo by Jeff Dunnicliff / Backbone Campaign.

Eric Ross spent much of the morning on Friday, January 31 standing on an overpass above Interstate 90 in Bellevue, Wash., holding a 30-foot-wide banner that read: "Stop Reichert's NAFTA. Flush the TPP. Vote No on Fast Track."

The "Reichert" called out in Ross' sign is Congressman Dave Reichert, R-Wash., and at issue is his active support of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a sprawling deal that would change the way international trade is conducted in 12 countries around the Pacific Rim, including the United States, Canada, Mexico, Vietnam, Peru, Australia, and Japan.

Volunteers with the Backbone Campaign hold a banner urging opposition to the TPP over Insterstate 90 in Bellevue, Wash. Photo by Jeff Dunnicliff / Backbone Campaign.

As opponents of the TPP frequently point out, the deal isn't just about trade: leaked sections of the text, which is not available to the public, reveal that the TPP would also lead to significant changes to policy areas such as intellectual property rights (especially on the Internet), the creation and enforcement of environmental protections, and the labeling and marketing of agricultural products.

Opponents of the deal say that the TPP would roll back the gains of almost every people's movement, especially those concerned with labor and the environment.

Ross says he received wide support for his banner, judging by the number of honks he heard from the vehicles passing beneath. An organizer with the Vashon Island-based organization Backbone Campaign, he says that illustrates that the work he and others have done to educate the public about the TPP over the past few years is starting to pay off.

"For the past 18 months, it was negotiated with essentially no media coverage, and activists had to teach their own representatives what the TPP was," Ross said. "But it isn't as secret as it used to be."

All eyes on fast track

On Friday, that secrecy took another hit as opponents gathered in more than 50 cities across North America in a noisy, colorful, continent-wide day of rallies, marches, and teach-ins. Events were held in New York, Toronto, and Mexico City, but smaller towns turned out as well. People marched and rallied in Red Deer, Alberta, held a press conference in Fresno, Calif., and protested in the downtown office of Republican Congressman Charlie Dent in Allentown, Pa.

Ross said he saw Friday's gathering in Seattle as more of a celebration than a protest.

The Allentown rally was intended to put pressure on Mr. Dent not to support Trade Promotion Authority. Also known as "fast track," this is special legislation that would allow the Trans-Pacific Partnership to move more quickly through the United States legislature. Lawmakers would get to vote yes or no on the deal, once it is approved by the trade representatives of the 12 negotiating countries, but would  be prevented from altering any of its specificities.

Critics of fast-track say that it harms democracy by putting unelected trade negotiators and corporate advisers in charge of trade policy, while specifically excluding input from elected representatives. Some call it unconstitutional, since the United States Constitution grants only Congress the right to make trade agreements.

Events on Friday showed a new focus on demanding that elected representatives commit to opposing fast-track legislation. The march and rally in San Francisco, for example, criticized California Democratic Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, who has refused to state her position on the fast-track bill since it was introduced by Senator Max Baucus, D-Mont., on Jan. 9.

In Washington state, volunteers with the Backbone Campaign entered the offices of  U.S. Representative Dave Reichert, a Republican who actively supports fast track through the "Friends of the TPP" caucus, and issued him a "spineless citation." Democrats Suzan DelBene, Dennis Heck, Derek Kilmer, and Rick Larsen also received "spineless citations" for taking no position on the issue, while fellow House Democrat Jim McDermott received a thank-you letter (with an illustration of a spine, of course). McDermott has pledged to oppose fast track.

Their positions matter because the TPP would almost certainly be approved if Senator Baucus' fast-track bill passes, Lynne Dodson, secretary-treasurer for the Washington State Labor Council, told the crowd gathered in Seattle on Friday.

"No trade deal has ever been defeated once it got to fast track," she said.

Cause for celebration

Eric Ross told YES! that he saw Friday's gathering in Seattle's Westlake Center as more of a celebration than a protest because, after years of hard work, the TPP’s momentum appears to be breaking down.

This vibrant movement seems likely to build on the victories it's already earned.

Two major chapters of the document's text were published by Wikileaks in December and January, resulting in renewed and largely critical media coverage of the deal.

Next, right on the heels of the second leak, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told reporters on Jan. 29 that he opposes fast-track legislation and might refuse to bring the bill to a vote.

That led writer David Cay Johnston to wonder whether fast track was now "dead:" "If Reid stands firm," he wrote in Al Jazeera, "it means new trade deals are likely to be worked out in the open, where the people and their elected politicians can debate the merits."

Like what you’re reading? YES! is nonprofit and relies on reader support.
Click here to chip in $5 or more
to help us keep the inspiration coming.

The TPP is also suffering from problems internal to its negotiations, which failed to meet the December 2013 deadline set for them by President Barack Obama. Talks in Singapore last December were bogged down over disputes about protections for agricultural products, among other issues, and no final agreement emerged.

In the wake of that failure, Japanese Economic and Fiscal Policy Minister Akira Amari told reporters that negotiators should meet again this month.

"The upcoming meeting is very important," Amari said, "as it will be held before U.S. midterm congressional elections in November."

Amari's statements indicate that Japanese negotiators will push for a deal to be hammered out before stateside electioneering begins in the summer.

For opponents of the TPP, that means that the time to act is now. If Friday's events were any indication, this vibrant movement seems likely to build on the victories it's already earned.

Eiya Wolfe holds a sign at Seattle's rally against the TPP at Westlake Center. Photo by Alex Garland Photography.

James Trimarco wrote this article for YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas with practical actions. James is web editor at YES! and you can follow him @JamesTrimarco.

Nur Lalji and Molly Rusk provided additional reporting for this story.

Read more:

Categories: Economics

The Unraveling Continues

Chris Martenson - February 3, 2014 - 17:03

The U.S. stock markets had a bad day, as did Japan's and Europe's. Of course, the whole world is linked now, so that's no surprise.

As goes one, so go the others.

Join the conversation »

Categories: Economics

18 Tips For Fire Prevention

Chris Martenson - February 3, 2014 - 15:54

A great list of tips and items to check in your home to reduce your risk of fire danger.

http://vigilprudence.com/18-tips-for-fire-prevention/

Join the conversation »

Categories: Economics

Daily Digest 2/3 - Capitalism Vs. Democracy, Rising Seas Infographic

Chris Martenson - February 3, 2014 - 09:44
  • Capitalism Vs. Democracy
  • The Rise of 200 Alternative Crypto Currencies
  • New Saudi counterterrorism law alarms activists
  • Corruption across EU 'breathtaking' - EU Commission
  • Rethinking the home ownership dream
  • S&P and Gold Extremes and Reversals
  • Shell to Sell Brazilian Oil Field to Qatar for $1bn
  • Rising Seas

Join the conversation »

Categories: Economics

A Review of Adam Greenfield's Against the Smart City

Shareable Magazine - February 3, 2014 - 08:40

Pictured above: A rendering of Masdar City, a "smart city" in the United Arab Emirates. By Forgemind ArchiMedia under a Creative Commons license from Flickr.com.

Categories: Economics