NO ADVERTISING, GOVERNMENT OR CORPORATE FUNDING

  • Latest News
  • Pitch a Story
  • Work with a Journalist
  • Join the Blog Squad
  • Afghanistan
  • Africa
  • Asia
  • Baltimore
  • Canada
  • Egypt
  • Europe
  • Latin America
  • Middle East
  • Russia
  • Economy
  • Environment
  • Health Care
  • Military
  • Occupy
  • Organize This
  • Reality Asserts Itself
  • US Politics
  • Why Government is More Afraid of Debt than Depression


    Michael Hudson: Deficit Hawks Want a One Two Punch Against the Economy -   December 16, 2010
    Members don't see ads. If you are a member, and you're seeing this appeal, click here

    Audio

      Share to Twitter
    Share to Facebook




    I support The Real News Network because it is news - David Pear
    Log in and tell us why you support TRNN

    Bio

    Michael Hudson is a Distinguished Research Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. His two newest books are “The Bubble and Beyond” and “Finance Capitalism and its Discontents,” available on Amazon. 

    Transcript

    Why Government is More Afraid of Debt than DepressionPAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Paul Jay, coming to you today from New York City. Now joining us is Michael Hudson. He's a distinguished research professor at University of Missouri - Kansas City. He's also the author of many books, including Super Imperialism: The Economic Strategy of American Empire, and Trade, Development, and Foreign Debt: A History of Theories of Polarization Versus Convergence in the World Economy. That's a mouthful. Thanks for joining us.

    PROF. MICHAEL HUDSON, UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI - KANSAS CITY: Thank you.

    JAY: So President Obama's deficit commission has reported. The press, the media, and most of the political punditry all seem far more worried about government debt than depression. Why?

    HUDSON: Because they're essentially appointed by the banking interest. When the government runs into debt, it has to borrow off the banks. They want to scale down government debt in order to scale down government taxes. So it's part of a one-two punch against the economy, basically. To the deficit commission, a depression is the solution to the problem, not a problem. That's what they're trying to bring about, because you need a depression if you're going to lower wages by 20 percent.

    JAY: And why do they want to do that?

    HUDSON: Because they have the illusion that if you pay labor less, somehow you're going to make the economy more competitive, and the economy can earn its way out of debts--meaning their employers, the banks and the companies--and make more profits and pay more bonuses and stock options, and somehow their constituency, Wall Street and the corporate economy, will become richer if they can only impoverish the economy. So essentially you can think of it as between a parasite and the host economy. A smart parasite in nature actually is in a symbiosis with the host and tries to steer to new food. It wants the host to find new food, doesn't want it to get bigger; the parasite wants itself to get bigger. But to do that, it has to take over the host's brain and make the brain think that the parasite, in this case the host, is the industrial economy, the real economy, production and consumption. The parasite is basically the financial sector. That's the deficit commission. That's the largest financier of the Obama administration. Obama appointed Wall Street lobbyists for the deficit commission, and basically their mind is a one-track mind: reduce labor's wages. So what we have here is a dumb parasite, not a parasite. That's the problem that's facing the American economy today. The problem is that the parasite's not only taken over the brain of the economy, which was supposed to be the government, but it's taken over its own brain in the process. And it actually imagines that corporations can make larger profits and the industrial--the financial system can survive if they just bring on a depression. In fact, it'll be the exact opposite.

    JAY: Well, back up a step, because if you go into the recent crisis, the lack of the amount of consumer debt as a result of lack of real wages and real demand is--I've always understood is one of the underlying reasons for the crisis. You create this bubble, but it's based on artificial debt. So if you take out even more consuming power by driving down wages, you take out even more consuming power by cutting unemployment insurance, you take out even more consuming power by various new kinds of taxes they're even talking about in terms of consumer taxes, so don't they actually exacerbate the problem, exacerbate the crisis? You're saying they want to.

    HUDSON: From their point of view, let's look at how Wall Street and the large corporations view of the economy. They look at two cost functions. One is the cost of doing business--the cost of hiring labor and producing goods. But the other cost is that of taxes. The object is to reduce their taxes by shifting the tax burden off finance, off industry, onto labor. And the function of the deficit commission is to change the tax system, to get rid of the taxes that fall on capital, and to make the taxes fall only on labor. That's going to at least free them from the government so that they can use all of the government's credit-creating power to bail themselves out. So the second thing they want to do after cutting taxes is to cut social spending so that as much of the government spending power as possible is available to bail out the inevitable collapse when it comes financially and to give subsidies to companies. So the idea is basically to reverse the progressive era's whole economic philosophy, and this involves impoverishing the economy in the process. But you have a mindset very much like you had in England for centuries that somehow thinks, if you can only hurt labor, you'll be helping capital. That's why England lost its industrial position. It's a wrong mindset. It doesn't work. But that's how they feel, because that's their mentality.

    JAY: Well, in terms of their mentality, is it simply apres moi, le deluge? Like, we'll make some short-term dough, and we'll worry about the long-term later? Or do they actually believe somehow this creates something long-term?

    HUDSON: The financial sector has always lived in the long term. Already a century ago you had financial books decrying the fact that banks and large lenders were hit and run: they would try to put investors into stocks, and then they'd leave them there and take their--take what they could. Right now they realize that the game is over. All they can do is try to play for a little more time, as long as they can, pay themselves bonuses, pay themselves stock options. And most of the money that the government was creating in the form of quantitative easing recently, it's--all the $600 billion is reported to have gone abroad. So it's going to the BRIC countries--Brazil, Russia, India, China--Third World countries, Malaysia.

    JAY: Where they can make money on the interest spread.

    HUDSON: Partly that, but they're buying foreign stocks, they're buying foreign assets, they're buying foreign real estate, mineral rights. They're buying everything they can. The rats are jumping ship.

    JAY: Okay. Now, you said because they realize the game is over. Why is the game over? And which game?

    HUDSON: For the time being, the ability to pay debts. They realize that a debt that can't be paid won't be. The economy is so deeply in debt--one-third of American real estate has mortgages in excess of its market price. So the Federal Reserve has come right out and said what we need is a reinflation. We need to restore the bubble economy. We need to push housing prices back up so that labor has to go into a lifetime of debt in order to afford access to housing. Now, you say quite correctly--but this is going to prevent labor from buying the goods and services. That's Say's law. But Alan Greenspan explained this very clearly a decade ago. He said there's something wonderful about debt: it's cured the labor problem. The workers are now one paycheck away from homelessness. If they go on strike or if they're fired because they complain about working conditions, all of a sudden their interest rate goes up on their credit card, all of a sudden they miss their mortgage payment, they're losing their home. Alan Greenspan said debt is what has created stability of wages in this country, meaning steadily falling wages. In America, despite the amazing rise in productivity we've had in the last 30 years, real wages have actually gone down. All of the increase in productivity has been taken by the finance, insurance, and real estate sector, called the FIRE sector, almost all of it by the financial sector. So all of this growth has been siphoned off, not taking the form of rising living standards, but taking the form of debt service, mainly interest and fees. The fees are as large as interest for the credit card companies. So it's all siphoned off financially. So instead of having industrial capitalism a century ago, we have a finance capitalism that actually is stifling industrial capitalism here. So what Alan Greenspan and others call the post-industrial economy is really neo-feudalism. It's a financialized economy where all of the surplus goes to the banks. And if you're a banker and somebody comes in and wants to take out a loan, you say, how much do you make? How much do you spend on food? You realize that most people, most workers in America have to spend 20 percent of their income just on basic goods and services--food, clothing, transportation to get to work. Everything over that, they think that's all available to be paid to the banks. The idea of a banker is for the entire economic surplus to be paid in the form of a financial surplus.

    JAY: Well this clearly doesn't seem to be sustainable on any long-term way. So where does this lead five, ten years from now? 'Cause we're not likely to see any significant changes from this Washington politics.

    HUDSON: Well, if you study biology, you know that there are more species of parasites than there are of hosts--of course it's not sustainable. But to a parasite, you don't have to be sustainable, because you're a parasite. That's your mindset. And you want to take what you can, and at a certain point you devour the host and skip to new hosts. That's what they're doing: they're going to shrink the American economy, and they're going to move to Asia or to other countries, which is why you have the economic split between the BRIC countries' currencies that are going up and the dollar and the euro that are going down.

    JAY: Thanks for joining us.

    HUDSON: Thanks.

    JAY: Thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.

    End of Transcript

    DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.


    Comments

    Our automatic spam filter blocks comments with multiple links and multiple users using the same IP address. Please make thoughtful comments with minimal links using only one user name. If you think your comment has been mistakenly removed please email us at contact@therealnews.com

    Comments


    Latest Stories


    Affirmative Action Ruling Will Further Racial Inequality
    Evidence For Russian Involvement In East Ukraine Based On Shoddy Journalism
    Ivy League Study Says The General Public Has Virtually No Influence On Policy
    The Modern History of Venezuela and Popular Democracy - Edgardo Lander on RAI (9/9)
    An Asia "Pivot" Should Mean Cooperating with China to Solve the Global Environmental Crisis
    Assessing the U.S. Environmental Movement
    Intimidation and Political Interference Goes Unpunished in UAW Case
    Exclusive Investigation Uncovers How BP Uses Bribes To Do Business
    The Modern History of Venezuela, The Protests and Democracy - Edgardo Lander on RAI (8/9)
    Greek Politics 4 Years After The Financial Crisis
    CBO Report Confirms U.S. Deficit Back to Normal Level
    Israel Uses Refugees as "Currency" in Arms Trade with Africa
    Who Will Pay for Climate Change Disaster?
    Canada Shifts to Right Under Harper, Mimicking the United States
    The Savings and Loan Crisis Demonstrates the Importance of Glass-Steagall
    South African Platinum Miner's Struggle Challenges ANC Leadership
    TRNN Original Report: Manning Determined to Fight Back After Army Upholds 35- Year Sentence
    Hundredth Anniversary of the Ludlow Massacre
    The Bundy Ranch Standoff Demonstrates Values Shared by Corporations and the Far Right
    The Resegregation of American Schools
    The Modern History of Venezuela, Why Still So Much Crime? - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (7/9)
    What Role Has Russia Played in Eastern Ukraine?
    Can Johns Hopkins Afford to Pay A Living Wage? (2/2)
    University Sit-In Targets World's Largest Private Coal Company
    The Modern History of Venezuela and the Need for a Post-Oil Economy - Edgardo Lander on RAI (6/9)
    Can Johns Hopkins Afford to Pay A Living Wage? (1/2)
    One Percent of Environmentalists Killings Lead to Convictions
    Investigation Finds Former Ukraine President Not Responsible For Sniper Attack on Protestors
    The Modern History of Venezuela from 1973 to the Caracazo Massacre - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (3/9)
    Ukraine Transitional Gov't Moves Militarily To Reclaim Seized Buildings
    IPCC Report Flawed By Narrow Focus on Carbon Emissions
    The Modern History of Venezuela: The Bolivarian Revolution - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (5/9)
    Obama Signs Directives to Reduce the Gender Wage Gap
    Eastern Ukraine Lacks Political Representation in Kiev
    Demystifying the Role of Mitigation in the Most Recent IPCC Report
    Hypersurveillance State Won't Prevent Another Boston Marathon Bombing
    The Modern History of Venezuela from 1973 to the Caracazo Massacre - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (3/9)
    Univ. of Maine Faculty Reinstated After Students Protest Against Cuts
    The Modern History of Venezuela from 1908 to 1973 - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (2/9)
    IMF Will Address Global Inequality, Says Managing Director Christine Lagarde
    Raising Big Banks' Leverage Ratio Good, But Not Nearly Enough
    TRNN Replay: Austerity Road to 19th Century
    Has Palestinian Maneuvering Revived Peace Talks?
    Late Jackson Mayor Lumumba's Son Wins Primary to Replace His Father, Runoff Election Ahead
    Quebecers Reject PQ and Elect a Liberal Government Representing Big Business
    TRNN Debate: Decriminalization vs. Legalization
    The Beginning of the Chavez Era - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (4/9)
    "Off With His Head": Court Upholds Obama's Power to Kill
    Workers at Nation's Top Hospital Strike For Fair Wages
    From Exile to Radicalization in Venezuela - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (1/9)
    Rwanda 20 Years Later: Genocide, Western Plunder of Congo, and President Kagame
    Ukrainian Protesters in the East Demand More Autonomy From Kiev Government
    Hunger Strikers Demand President Obama Halt His Record 2 Million Deportations
    Indian Parliamentary Elections - A Primer With Vijay Prashad
    West Looks to Carve Up Ukraine & Privatize Industries Held by Kleptocrats
    Where Are Israeli-Palestinian Peace Negotiations Headed?
    The Multiple Kingdoms of Saudi Arabia (5/5)
    Do the Afghan Presidential Elections Signify Progress?
    Republican Presidential Hopefuls Pay Homage to Billionaire Casino Tycoon Sheldon Adelson
    Will Extremist Lieberman Become Israel's Next Prime Minister?
    Why do the Saudis Want the US to Attack Iran? (4/5)
    Immigrant Advocates and Families Tell President Obama 'Not One More'
    Elections, Pipelines, and Protests - The Canada Panel
    Chris Hedges on "Israel's War on American Universities"
    Baltimore Residents Decry Lack of Affordable Housing
    Yellen Talks the Talk But Will She Walk the Walk?
    Hopkins Hospital Workers Speak Out against "Poverty Wages"
    Will Venezuela's New Floating Exchange Rate Curb Inflation?
    The European Central Bank's War on Wages is Pushing Europe's Economy to the Brink
    Supreme Court Decision Opens Floodgates for More Campaign Cash
    Charles Keating, the Financier Behind the Savings and Loan Scandal, Dies at 90
    Saudi Arabia and the al-Qaeda Monster (3/5)
    Maryland Residents Voice Opposition to Natural Gas Fracking Export Facility
    Supreme Court Ruling Gives Wealthy Individuals More Influence Over Elections
    What are the Saudis Afraid Of? - Madawi Al-Rasheed (2/5)
    Baltimore's MICA Adjunct Professors Set to Vote on Unionization
    Boycott of Israel Moving to Next Level?
    Hypocrisy Dressed Up as "Realism" Justifies American Alliance with Saudi Dictatorship
    Immigration Reform in the Shadows of Cesar Chavez's Legacy
    Leaked Senate Report Shows Use of Torture As "Ineffective"
    UN Report Says Climate Change Will Threaten Food Production Worldwide
    The Hypocrisy of US Calling for Enforcement of International Law
    How the Ecuadorian Economy Grew in a Global Recession
    'Shadows of Liberty' Trailer
    Kristina Borjesson on Why CBS Shut Down Her investigation into Flight 800 (2/8)
    Glen Ford on Racism in the American Media (3/8)
    Paul Jay on What Drives Corporate Media and What Drive The Real News (4/8)
    Creating a New Media Paradigm After Citizens United (5/8)
    Should The Left Engage with the Mainstream Media? (6/8)
    What Is the Financial Backing For The Real News? (7/8)
    Standing up to Character Assassination (8/8)
    Oligarchs, Fascists and the People's Protest in Ukraine
    TRNN Debate: Is Obamacare In the Interest of Workers?
    Too-Big-To-Fail Advantage Remains Intact For Big Banks
    Obama and the Saudi Agenda
    TRNN Replay: Investigating the Saudi Government's 9/11 Connection and the Path to Disilliusionment - Sen. Graham on Reality Asserts Itself pt 1
    The Iraq War's Real Legacy
    Petitions with 100,000+ Signatures Call for Snowden's Passport to be Reinstated
    We Need to Harness People Power - Andy Shallal on Reality Asserts Itself (4/4)
    BC Pipeline Fight and Quebec Elections - The Canada Panel
    Jonathan Schell - 1943-2014: Board Member of TRNN on Why We Need The Real News
    Teachers on Strike from the UK to Argentina
    Connecticut Poised to Become First State with $10.10 Minimum Wage
    Oil Spill Threatens Wildlife and Local Economy
    DC School Test Scores Up, But Poor Black Kids Are Doing Worse - Andy Shallal on RAI (3/4)
    Obama's Proposal To End NSA Bulk Data Collection Won't Protect Privacy
    How Google, Apple & The Biggest Tech Companies Colluded to Fix Workers' Wages
    An American Should be One that Questions Their Government - Andy Shallal on RAI (2/4)
    What's Driving Putin & Obama's Posturing on Ukraine?
    Hundreds of Students & Faculty Occupy College Campus to Fight Cuts to Public Higher Ed
    Due Process 'Impossible' In Harsh Death Sentencing Of Over 500 Muslim Brotherhood Members
    Has Anglo-American Capitalism Run Out of Steam?
    Being the "Other" in America - Andy Shallal on Reality Asserts Itself (1/4)
    TRNN Debate: Should Baltimore 'Ban The Box'?
    How Fallujah Became the Iraqi Government's New Battleground
    Why I Decided to Blow the Whistle on the NSA
    NASA Climate Predictions Show Serious Threat To Humanity
    Professor Who Teaches Israel-Palestine Conflict Accuses College of Violating His Academic Freedom
    CIA and NSA Wrongdoing Requires Independent Investigation, Says Former Church Committee Staff
    Are Tuition Breaks Enough To Combat High Student Debt And Low Graduation Rates?
    Industries Across the U.S. Are Stealing Wages From Their Lowest Paid Workers
    Who In Ukraine Will Benefit From An IMF Bailout?
    NSA Recording All International Calls From U.S.
    Israel "Making Lives Miserable" for Africans, Hoping They 'Self-Deport' (2/2)
    BP Gets Green Light to Drill in Gulf, But Has Safety Improved?
    Residents Still Not Drinking Tap Water Two Months After West Virginia Spill (1/2)
    Libya's Descent Into Turmoil Three Years After NATO Intervention
    From Pipelines to Peladeau - Canadian Report
    Israel "Making Lives Miserable" for Africans, Hoping They 'Self-Deport' (1/2)
    Congressional Progressive Caucus Budget Strikes Back Against Austerity
    Libya Three Years Later - Chaos and Partition
    Why Was Gaddafi Overthrown?
    Should Ukraine and West Accept De Facto Crimea Joining Russia? (2/2)
    Tony Benn Saw Socialism as the Culmination of Democratization
    Why Didn't Bush/Cheney Attack Iran and Can Obama Make and Sell a Deal? - Gareth Porter on Reality Asserts Itself (3/3)
    After Late Mayor Lumumba is Laid to Rest, What's Next for Jackson, Mississippi? (2/2)
    Crimea Referendum: Self Determination or Big Power Manipulation? (1/2)
    Sen. Graham: President Must Side with Openness About CIA and 9/11
    Manufacturing a Narrative for War - Gareth Porter on Reality Asserts Itself (2/3)
    Protesters Hit the Streets of Brooklyn to Demand $15 Minimum Wage
    Hammer: 'Moral Bankruptcy' Behind Massive GM Recall
    White House Withholds Thousands of Documents from Senate CIA Probe
    I Grew Up Believing in Time Magazine's Version of America - Gareth Porter on RAI (1/3)
    Western European Banks Vulnerable to Ukrainian Sovereign Debt Crisis
    TRNN Debate: What's Driving Inflation in Venezuela? (2/2)
    CIA vs. Senate: Who Is Obama Protecting?
    Will Tipped Workers Get Excluded Again From Minimum Wage Hike?
    TRNN Debate: What's Driving Inflation in Venezuela? (1/2)
    After Late Mayor Lumumba is Laid to Rest, What's Next for Jackson, Mississippi?(1/2)
    TRNN Replay: A Look at Who's Poised to Become No.2 at the Fed
    How Right-Wing Nationalism Rose to Influence in Ukraine (2/2)
    Netanyahu Attacks Boycott As Campaign Enters New Phase
    Moving Towards a Police State - Michael Ratner on Reality Asserts Itself (7/7)
    Fighting Reagan's Secret, Illegal Wars - Michael Ratner on Reality Asserts Itself (6/7)
    Puerto Rican Independence Movement and Cuba Further Radicalized Me - Michael Ratner on RAI (5/7)
    The Butcher of Attica - Michael Ratner on Reality Asserts Itself (4/7)
    MLK and a Radicalizing Moment in American History - Michael Ratner on Reality Asserts Itself (3/7)

    RealNewsNetwork.com, Real News Network, Real News, Real News For Real People, IWT are trademarks and service marks of IWT.TV inc. "The Real News" is the flagship show of IWT and Real News Network.

    All original content on this site is copyright of The Real News Network.  Click here for more

    Problems with this site? Please let us know

    Linux VPS Hosting by Star Dot Hosting