Archive for the 'capital's growth and development' Category

Work for the poor, commons put to work: the next market wave.

Friday, November 20th, 2009

The next disciplinary market wave — if it will come at all — will likely be greatly dependent on commons at every scale of social action. For this reason, a reasonably strong political recomposition wave around commons to contrast this market wave is the minimum that is necessary for social justice and for saving the planet,

. . . if only . . . .

Take this account on venture capital drying up and web companies start-ups looking somewhere else for their development. As the financial crisis intensifies, small start-ups companies mobilise circles of friends to type up code. If they are not able to mobilise enough commoners to turn into social capital, they will then subcontract to the poor. Non profit companies like samasource are devoted to this task, with an incredible zeal, self-confidence, creative-corporate cool image, and conviction of doing good. Just check them out for what a friend has defined an “unbelievable hubris.” They go out and train refugees, poor women and youth into microwork. This is part of a growing phenomenon quite interesting and scary at the same time. Like in those cases, in which reproduction services like reading bed time stories or helping children in their homework can be subcontracted to poor workers on the other side of the world, eager women- and men-fridays mobilised by www.getfriday.com. With some strong coordinated policy commitment this stuff could be part of a possible way forward for capital: the mobilisation of commons either directly (through the production of commodities), or indirectly (through cheapening of reproduction of labour) for the expansion of markets and diffusion of capitalist work. In this sense, microwork would complement microcredit as a strategy to put the planet to work masked as “war against poverty” . (By the way, on microcredit, it is crucial to remind of the riots it provoked in Nicaragua not long ago.

In short, innovation will be either “financed” by commoning — in the hope to reap a reward through creation of a competitive advantage — or it will be subcontracted to the poor, who in turn depends heavily on commons circuits for their livelihoods, something that gives them the “competitive advantage” vis others cyber workers. But not all is lost. Here an interesting hint on a spill-over affect of this training of the poor for microwork: the discovery of facebook.

Microfinance is good business

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

From The Financial Times www.ft.com

Helping the poor just got popular

Sophia Grene. Financial Times. London (UK): Nov 9, 2009. pg. 8

“Microfinance ; Investors are attracted by the sector’s crisis-proof qualities as well as the social aspect, says Sophia Grene

Since Muhammad Yunus won the Nobel prize in 2006 along with the Grameen Bank he founded for the poverty-bound entrepreneurs of Bangladesh, microfinance has entered the consciousness of the investment community.

The concept of lending small amounts to very poor women, each borrower part of a group that is jointly responsible for repayment, has been extended and modified as it moved to different economies with other requirements. The common thread is providing relatively small loans to people who would otherwise not have banking facilities.

While the original concept was all about lending a helping hand to lift people out of poverty, the inevitable result of the structure was that investors would see it as an opportunity.

Grameen Bank itself cannot look for investment from outside Bangladesh for legal reasons, but a myriad of other microfinance institutions are not so bound and globally some $7bn (pound(s)4.2bn, EUR4.7bn) is invested in MFIs. An equivalent amount is committed by donation, but the invested money is expected to be repaid with interest. (more…)

Nobel price, commons and growth

Sunday, October 18th, 2009

Maybe the “smarter factions of capital” knows that capital is doomed, but if that is the case, why do they insist on finding ways for “growth”, even if only through the oxymoron of “sustainable development”? Their intelligence, demonstrated for example by the awarding of the Nobel price to Elinor Ostrom, is to see the commons as the basis for new capitalist growth . . .yet you cannot have capitalist growth without at the same time capitalist enclosures. Their intelligence thus risks to push us all to be players in a drama of the years to come, the civil war of the XXIth century: capital will need the commons and capital will need enclosures, and the commoners at these two ends of capital will be reshuffled in new planetary hierarchies and divisions.

Elinor Ostrom Nobel price helps giving legitimacy to the discourse of the commons. After decades of neoliberalism this is certainly a victory. Elinor Ostrom gives us in principle all the elements we need for a discoursive counterattack, if we link her stuff to a sharp understanding of capital. Her basic point is that self government in commons is not only a viable solution, but preferable on many accounts to markets and states (sustainability, democracy, justice). Yet she also teaches us that for commons to work, they require basic conditions to happen. When you think about these conditions within broader dynamics of capitalism, you realise that many of these conditions are threatened by the working of global competitive markets, the wealth polarisation they create, the regimes of state intervention to limit in many occasions grassroots empowerment through commons, and the necessary enclosures than any regime of capitalist growth require. There is a strong incompatibility between a regime seeking economic growth and the universal creation of conditions that facilitate the development of commons. This incompatibility must be stressed and debated, and in this debate we cannot avoid to stress the role of capital in undermining the conditions for commons for all.

Carbon Trading receive a new boost from UN-REDD program.

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

Below is the “agenda-setter” video on REDD, which was sponsored by the UN-REDD Program, produced by the London based Television Trust for the Environment (www.tve.org/) and shown as a curtain raiser at the United Nations Secretary-Generals High Level Event on REDD held on September 23rd at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. Read also these two short pieces (from CNN and intercontinentalcry) reporting some of the problems with these programmes. In particular what is interesting here is that the REDD programme is a case of distorted commons, i.e. one in which the “sharing” is functional to capitalist growth and therefore it is a locus of frontline contradictions (such as preventing indigenous to self-manage their forest in the name of climate change). Interestingly, if existing (and not only newly planted trees) forests are given monetary value, and these in turn are turned into tradable credits that can be purchased on the market, a carbon credit glut seems inevitable with a consequent fall in price, making the entire carbon credit scheme even more of a farce.


Resource war in Congo and green capitalism

Tuesday, November 18th, 2008

video_button_white_dred.gifThis is a “democracy now” clip on the current Congo’s resource war and its links to green and communication capitalism. To what extent the new green capitalist governance paradigm that is being taking shape these days will depend on war like these? And to what extent war like these are fundamental to reshape Africa’s role in the new global political economy?


news from green capitalism: recession is bad for recycling

Monday, November 17th, 2008

Here is one example of how green capitalism will not save the planet: recession is bad for recycling. Why?because demand for recycling products drops in a recession, hence much of what we diligently pile up in different boxes may end up in a land incinerator . . .read on from the sector’s paper food production daily NOW is the time to campaign for recycling! When it cost them money!

Waste reduction urged as demand for recyclables drops
By Jane Byrne , 17-Nov-2008

Related topics: Supply Chain, End-of-Line Packaging, Packaging Materials, Primary Packaging

A push for waste minimisation and the production of high quality marketable recyclables is being promoted by stakeholders as demand and prices for recycled materials the UK drop significantly.
The drop in prices has been attributed to reduced demand from China in particular for recycled materials, with manufacturers reducing their output due to current economic restraints.

The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), the Waste Resources Action Programme (WRAP), the National Industrial Symbiosis Programme (NISP) and the Local Government Association (LGA), said they want to ensure that the recent slump does not undermine public confidence in the value of recycling, nor lead to unacceptable environmental consequences.

“Recycling remains a better, and cheaper, option than sending material to landfill so people should continue recycling,” claims the joint sector statement.

Consumer confidence

However, a spokesperson for the body representing the UK food and drink manufacturing sector, the Food and Drink Federation (FDF), told FoodProductionDaily.com that consumers want to be confident that their efforts to recycle bear fruit by saving valuable resources and the planet.

And the Confederation of Paper Industries (CPI) warns that as a result of the fall in demand, some material collected for recycling could, in the worst case scenario, go to incineration or landfill.

Steve Creed, Director of Business Growth at WRAP, said that the agency believes the current very low prices for recovered materials will be temporary but that there may be increased storage of some materials including plastics, paper, and metal products in the short term until the markets pick up again.

Quality

According to Creed, what has become clear is the importance of the quality of recovered materials, with high quality materials still in demand in the UK and overseas. “Dialogue between waste producers (including local authorities) collectors and waste processors is crucial, to ensure the right quality of material.”

He said that local authorities and their contactors need to ensure that they have a home for materials that are being stored in the short term, that the storage will not compromise the environment and does not lead to deterioration in the quality of the materials that will further reduce their recyclability or value.

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Recycling developments

Creed argues that, in terms of recycling levels, the UK has come a long way in the last seven years, before which, he added, there was a limited domestic market for the reprocessing of recovered materials.

He said that much of the increase in the UK’s recycling capacity is as a result of WRAP’s involvement and support, including a partnership with Shotton Paper Mill, providing funding for it to convert to using 100 per cent recycled fibre that has resulted in all newsprint produced in the UK now being made with 100 per cent recovered fibre.

“WRAP also helped fund Closed Loop London – which makes plastic milk bottles back into plastic milk bottles,” he added.

Waste reduction

Meanwhile, WRAP launched an initiative last month aiming at inviting proposals for projects to design, develop and trial innovative processes and approaches to reduce waste in the food supply chain.

The agency said that food companies can help reduce waste through such measures as the use of:

Divisible or flexible packaging to aid portioning of food/ingredients by customers such as side-by-side packs, or ‘eat me, freeze me’ packs
Resealable packaging to protect and maximise shelf-life and quality of food
Shelf-life extending packaging technologies such as breathable films, oxygen and ethylene scavengers
Customised, modified atmosphere packs or vacuum-sealed packs where appropriate
Smart labels that clearly communicate food conditions to customers and improve inventory control such as time and temperature indicators and radio frequency RFID technologies, and
Storage information
According to WRAP, an example of innovation in food manufacturing could be an increase in production efficiency and reduction in waste raw materials or products, reductions in product damage or enhanced freezability of the products.

The closing date for proposals is Thursday 20 November, with shortlisted projects announced on 2 December.

news from the senior management team

Monday, November 17th, 2008

So, the G20, the apparently new executive board of global capital, has so far delivered this:

a) yes, you can use “fiscal stimulus” if you so desire (Gordon Brown yes, Silvio Berlusconi no). . .(at least for now . . .)

b) . . .but you cannot increase barrier to trade for a year, hence for example, maintain existing tariffs even if food or other commodities price escalate again . . .

c) we’ll regulate our banks through some bank club, and we’ll see what that means

next episode around April

not much novelty here

Sunday, November 16th, 2008

the common ground of the new management board of global capital is clear:

“Our work will be guided by a shared belief that market principles, open trade and investment regimes, and effectively regulated financial markets foster the dynamism, innovation and entrepreneurship that are essential for economic growth, employment and poverty reduction.” g20 statement.

There it is, capital’s minimum common denominator among blacks and whites, men and women, rich and poor, center and periphery, “first world: and “third world”. And note, this is a belief.See report See text

Tobin Tax

Thursday, October 23rd, 2008

I was recently drawn back to some of my older writing on the Tobin Tax by a companera’s request to comment on it. So, I thought that since the Tobin Tax is and will be on the agenda of some sections of the movements, it has been raised in the Beijing declaration by Focus on Global South and TNI, and it has already attracted some critical comments in various lists, it would be important for us to give it a slightly more critical analytical consideration. In the following notes I will freely take from my old article “Capital Movements, Tobin Tax, and Permanent Fire Prevention: a Critical Note.” In Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, Vol. 22, No. 2, Winter 1999-2000.

First, for those who need an intro, the Tobin Tax is a tax levied on foreign exchange transactions and takes its name from James Tobin, who proposed it in 1974 in the midst of the then crisis back then. An element of that crisis was the rise of short term capital movements, which nevertheless were a fraction of what we have today.

There are three main rationales for the Tobin tax . . . . In the first place, this tax would be essentially a small transaction tax that would penalize short-term round-trip movements of speculative capital, thus helping to “put grains of sand in the wheels of international finance” (Eichengreen, Tobin, and Wyplosz 1995). In this way, the Tobin tax would reduce the profitability of short-term speculation and allow exchange rates to better reflect long-term factors in the real economy rather than short-term speculative flows. The second rationale is based on the greater autonomy this tax would give governments in pursuing economic policies, by being shielded from financial market discipline on domestic fiscal and monetary policy. Finally, the third rationale for such a tax is its revenue-raising potential. According to an older United Nations study, a Tobin tax of merely 0.05 % could raise $150 billion a year (United Nations 1994: 9) [this is of course a pittance in relation to current bailout regimes (a pittance which of course depends on the low tax rate, which — following the “grain of sand” logic — has to be low, otherwise capital movements would be brought completely to a halt, and this is something its proponents do not wish.]

There are three main interrelated criticism of the Tobin Tax. The first one comes from Paul Davidson, a post-keynesian economist, who argues that “the imposition of a Tobin tax per se will not significantly stifle even very short-run speculation if there is any whiff of a weak currency in the market. In fact, any Tobin tax significantly less than 100% of the expected capital gain (on a round trip) is unlikely to stop the sloshing around of hot money. (Davidson 1997: 678)” Thus, taking for example the case of the fall of the Mexican peso during the crisis of 1994-95, in which the peso fell by about 60%, a Tobin tax of about 23% would have been required to stop speculative run on the peso.

In our terms, therefore, the first argument against the Tobin Tax is that it is not a solution to capital movement and their disciplinary role of enforcing crises following profitability expectations.

The second argument is this: if we want the tobin tax because it transfers money from capital to labour, then it is legitimate to ask why the Tobin Tax and no other form of progressive taxation or wealth redistribution and reformulation of property right? This question is even more legitimate, assuming the validity of the first argument.

Third, and consequently, there is what Werner mentioned, that is the Tobin Tax “comprise well thought out ideas as to how to secure existing social relations”, i.e. capitalist relations. It is a mild form of capital control, that does nor prevent crises, it modest revenue raising powers gives the impression of addressing social justice, but it will be instrument for casting a new capitalist deal. With respect to this, for us the question will be to try to assess how — in today’s given context of crisis in its specificity — the tobin tax could in fact be used to secure existing social relations, as a part of a new deal.

But in general, let us hope that our marches and demos in the next months and years will see less of those awful banners with the “%” sign: I could never had thought that such a symbol of capitalist compound interest rationality could also become the symbol of part of a social movement.

The austerity to come: pensions

Friday, October 17th, 2008

In the US, the loss in the value of pensions (private and public) amount to $1 trillion. And they still dare to tell us to diversify investment portfolio in order to minimise risk. See the Statement by Peter R. Orszag, Director of the US Congressional Budget Office.