Posted tagged ‘virtual economy’

FOOD CRISIS AND ORGANIZED PANIC BY FOOD CARTELS & OLIGARCHY

May 1, 2008

Bro. Erle Frayne Argonza

[Writ 28 April 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila]

We’re having a production-related problem with rice today in the Philippines today, which looks more like an echo problem of a larger global phenomenon of food crisis. Riots have already been experienced in at least 33 countries, and we may expect the frequency to rise in the months ahead.

To single out production factors, and especially to pinpoint flawed land-use patterns as the cause of the crisis, tends to blur the real cause behind much of our peace and development problems in the world today. This crisis is one of the anarchic results of orchestrations done by financial speculators over a stretch of three (3) decades, followed through recently by food cartels’ machinations to heighten up their looting of the public’s resources via the food market.

Let us recall that as early as the 1980s, the move towards liberalizing the food markets and integrate this sector into the evolving ‘virtual economy’—by unleashing speculative practices on agricultural products via instrument of ‘commodities markets’—already crept into our national boundaries. Gradually did the pattern get integrated into a global mesh of transactions involving not only food but a long list of articles of trade and services being transacted via the secondary markets or hedge funds.

The objective, as far as this observer now sees it, is to emerge a few gigantic cartels globally that some day dominate a global oligopoly. Probably as little as five (5) such colossal mega-corporations will be well prepositioned to control global food, thus enabling their control not only of the gene stocks (intellectual properties) but of prices most of all.

This scenario is now happening in steel. As soon as we hit the 900+ tones per annum or TPA production of global steel in the 1990s, plans were already afoot to eventually cartelize steel via mergers of giant steel firms, with the participation of fund managers in the process and ownership structures. The merger of Mittal and Alcelor, which resulted to the gigantic firm that now produces over 100 tpa, had now clearly substantiated this long forecast move to cartelize steel. In the near future, just about 3-5 such giants, each one producing 150+ tpa, will be left to control the global market of steel.

Didn’t you notice the sudden fluctuations in the prices of metals globally beginning in the middle of this decade yet? Often than not, based on our experience of the depression-era Weimar Republic, this phenomenon of hyper-inflationary swings in base and precious metal prices are preceding events prior to a global depression. This time around, the panic created by the corresponding process would be the sweetening of the steel merger option (with fund manager participation or rather manipulation) and, voila! Steel cartels are up! Hail the Cartels to the highest heavens!

The pattern is getting to be noxiously obvious that even a mere high school student of economics and history could easily see them. This same pattern is now creeping thru the food sector, even as it has also been taking down aluminum, nickel, copper, gold, banking, retail, realty, and lots of more sectors, with steel being the prototype experiment.

For the sharp observers out there, do make your tallies now as to which of the present food giants would emerge the victors. I will not be surprised if one day, my country’s own biggest F&B group, the San Miguel Corporation, will be gobbled up, via a merger with a larger corporate fish, and melt out into existence except in mere concept and memory of a once mighty firm.

Start making your tallies now. Meantime, let’s also start tallying the riots and casualties due to famine and food-related problems, and see where the casualty level will reach before the 3-5 cartels will become sacrosanct global food market controllers. It surely takes so much blood spillage to advance the interests of the Global Oligarchy, this is what we can get from the picture.   

A NEW GLOBAL FINANCIAL ARCHITECTURE IS MOST EXIGENT

April 28, 2008

 

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

 

[Writ 23 March 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila]

 

From the early 1970s through the 1990s, the massive liberalization of the international financial system was executed with such dynamism, radically altering thus the international financial landscape. Look at the result of this gargantuan liberalization today: global economic catastrophe.

 

New Nationalism, in collaboration with old nationalists, socialists, and ideologies that articulate the interests of marginal sectors, argues for the immediate reform of the international financial system. It had to be admitted by everyone else that the system failed, it simply cannot be sustained under a regime of liberal capital, monetary and related financial policy regimes.

 

Both the USA and EU economies today are particularly affected by the failure of financial liberalization. The ‘virtual economy’ had taken over their respective domains, they were so badly de-industrialized notably the USA’s that there may no more be a semblance of once flourishing industrial economies there, their infrastructures are rotting and collapsing, and now the final death blow to their economic wellness had come as recession ravages like uncontrolled forest fire there.

 

On the international level, the problem can be addressed by convening at once the legitimate delegates of states, with market and civil society groups serving as observers. The task is to immediately reform the rotten international financial system, and concur a new global financial architecture. A ‘New Breton Woods’ would be apt as a label for this effort (to borrow from the economist Lyndon LaRouche).

 

The most urgent agenda is the re-examination of national currencies, return of the gold reserve standard or equivalent, institution of better regulatory mechanisms both of cross-border and  national levels, immediate economic recovery by provision of long-term low-interest rated financial instruments or ‘white knight’ finance, and clipping the predatory powers of greedy financiers such as hedge funds and ‘vulture funds’ operators.

 

A special topic would be the stock markets of each nation or region. It is now time to reform the stock markets, which have been used by greedy elements to loot national coffers and the public of direly needed financial resources. If the stock markets can’t be reformed, then the option for them is to face increasing ‘guerilla finance’ by groups that will seek to establish direct links between the market players who seek new capital funds and the potential investors from among the general public. In which case, if the latter succeeds, the stock market is out to die a painful dinosaur’s death, ditto for all those predatory stock traders whose role will become extinct overnight.   

 

The fundamental contention for the reform package, culled from the New Nationalism article, is reflected below.

 

Reform the international financial system.

 

The global financial system is indubitably a homestead of predatory financiers. Usury and global speculation, the masterpieces of financiers, are the enemies of nations. Usury in international finance is at an all-time high, raising questions about the legality and moral propriety of   current lending practices. Incidentally, the said financiers are the ones who exercise the clout within the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, whose chiefs have always been CEOs from the bank headquarters of the financiers. The said banks have always acted out as the marketing agents of financial cartels, even as many nations that have followed the austere ‘structural adjustments’ imposed by them have been reduced to paupers.

 

It is high time for ‘white knights’ to appear in global finance, lending money accordingly for developmental and investment purposes at very low interest rates (lower than 1.5% annually) and at very long-term payments (25-50 years). Such institutions are now beginning to appear, but creditors remain cautious about their moves. Such institutions are autonomous from the power orbits of the Western financial cartels, are well niched in Asia (e.g. China), and appear to be creditor-friendly.

 

The reform though should go beyond the ‘white knight’ route. We must actively participate in Asia’s establishment of its own monetary fund and a single-currency regime, and take a leading role if opportunities allow. It may prove beneficial yet to re-institute a regime of gold reserve standard, which should back up the Asian currency. This same monetary fund will then serve as the regional ‘white knight’ that will provide credit to nations in need in the region and continent. The actions will also accelerate the economic cum political integration of the ASEAN and the economic integration for the entire East Asia, steps that will further stabilize the national economies and continuously sustain their respective growth. Meanwhile, a regional currency can stabilize soon enough upon its launching, that it would be a difficult job for criminal financiers to manipulate it, such as the success of the ‘Euro’ now exhibits to the globe.

 

Still another key intervention measure is the control of predatory speculation through a ‘Tobin tax’ on cross-border currency and related purchases (J. Tobin’s proposal in the early 70s). A tax of 0.75% alone on the current cross-border exchanges, which amounts to $300 Trillions annually, would generate $2.25 Trillions. The said money will then be used to fund the operations of international organizations such as the United Nations, UNDP and authentic international NGOs for social development purposes. The money can also be used by ‘white knight’ financing institutions of international scale. This set of actions will then induce reforms in the other institutions, with chain reaction effects leading to declining speculation in the long run, as the oligarchic  bankers/financiers adjust their rates to more competitive rates in the face of challenges coming from global ‘white knights’.

SAVE THE PHYSICAL ECONOMY

April 28, 2008

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

 

[Writ 23 March 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila]

 

Globalization is not only destroying the nation-state. It has also been destroying the ‘physical economy’ that is the economic foundation of the nation-state. All in the name of the greed of the financier oligarchs, who bred the monstrous ‘virtual economy’ founded on predatory finance.

 

The New Nationalism, as contended in my meaty article on the same, argues strongly for a restoration of the physical economy of affected nations. The USA, which produces 22% of the world’s gross economic output, is now in the phase of advanced decay as its physical economy had been looted and eventually destroyed by predatory financiers. There is now way that we citizens of the global community can’t be concerned about this, as the eventual crumbling of this megalithic economy will redound to global economic turbulence that can lead to global war.

 

In East Asia we all witnessed the horror of the economic meltdown in the late 1990s. Though the impact of that meltdown is hardly felt today, we saw the horror of it just the same. We peoples of the region simply felt so helpless as the contagion smelted the mightily growing economies here, beginning by destroying the currencies and ending with the crash of the physical economies.

 

Incidentally, East Asia has a better chance to weather the storms being caused by predatory globalization. The physical economy here has better chances of being secured, even food security has better chances of crystallizing contrasted to the crashing economies of the USA and Europe.

 

The lesson should be clearly read by every development practitioner: destroy not thy physical economy if you want peace and development to go on in sustained levels. Absent the physical economy, and the nation will crumble, leading to civil disturbances and uprisings and even to global conflicts among the world powers.

 

Below is the entire subsection regarding the physical economy culled from the New Nationalism article.

 

Continue to stimulate growth through the ‘physical economy’.

 

This writer strongly argues that the greatest driver of the economy must be the ‘physical economy’. By ‘physical economy’ we refer to the combination of (a) agriculture, (b) manufacturing, (c) infrastructure, (d) transport and (e) science & technology (S&T) whose results further induce ‘production possibilities’ in the sectors a-d. An economy that is prematurely driven by the service sector, growing at the expense of the physical economy, will create imbalances in the long run, failing in the end to meet the needs of the population. A premature service-driven economy would be subject to manipulations by predatory financiers, who would do everything to destroy the national currencies and consequently the physical economy of the nation as well. An economy driven by derivatives and every kind of speculative pursuit is a ‘virtual economy’ such as what has dominated the USA since the era of Reaganomics.

 

I would hazard the thesis that our national economy moved to a service-driven phase prematurely. Look at all the fiasco after our ‘physical economy’ had rapidly declined in GDP contributions since the early 1990s, as the service economy advanced in its stead! Relatedly, the over-hyped Ramos-era ‘Philippines 2000’ economy was largely a ‘bubble economy’ driven by speculation and portfolio capital, and was more in kinship with the ‘virtual economy’ than any other one. We have not fully recovered from the bursting of that bubble, even as we are now threatened with another bursting of sorts—of the debt bubble, leading to fiscal crisis.

 

It pays to learn our lessons well from out of the immediate past experiences. And the clear message sent forth is: get back to the physical economy and re-stimulate the concerned sectors, while simultaneously perfect those services where we have proved to be competitive, e.g. pre-need sector, retail, restaurant/f&b. We should also strive to learn some key lessons from other countries’ positive experiences such as China’s, whose economy continues to grow enormously, and grow precisely because it is the physical economy that primarily drives it up and lead it—at an enormously rapid rate—towards development maturity, permitting China to outpace the USA’s economy on or before 2014 (using GDP Purchasing Power Parity indexing).