Friday, April 28, 2017

Undoing Financial Regulation and the Evolving Neo-Feudal Economy


For over 100 years, governments have sought to regulate the crisis-prone financial sector.

In 1933, the Glass-Steagall Act was passed in the US to prevent another major financial crisis after those precipitating the Great Depression were judged to be so disruptive as to threaten democracy itself.

The central plank of the Glass-Steagall Act was a hard, legal separation between commercial banks that did business with the public and investment banks. Commercial banks became part of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, a collectivized insurance system designed to backstop losses for commercial banks doing business with everyday citizens.

In contrast, investment banks were allowed greater freedom of operations but were expected to be subject to market disciplines that punished excessive risk taking.

The financial industry found Glass-Steagall onerous and sought to dismember it. President Bill Clinton, under the leadership of Robert Rubin, Alan Greenspan, and Larry Summers, revoked the Glass-Steagall Act with the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act in 1999 (Wikipedia provides a nice summary here). Clinton also passed the Commodities Future Modernization Act, which de-regulated commodities trading.

These acts of de-regulation have been cited by many legal and economic scholars as playing important roles in causing the 2001 and 2007 financial crises.

In the wake of the 2007 crisis, efforts were made to re-regulate Wall Street with the Frank-Dodd Act. However, the financial sector fought tooth-and-nail to de-fang this act. One of the industry's major successes was their defeat of the Volcker Act, which aimed to re-instate aspects of Glass-Steagall that prevented financial speculation by commercial banks.

In my 2016 book, Crisis Communication, Liberal Democracy and Ecological SustainabilityI explore how the banks successfully stripped Dodd-Frank of the most onerous restrictions.

You can read an excerpt from my book of how this occurred here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/9qiiuuw5k6asxna/Undoing%20Dodd-Frank%202017.docx?dl=1

Now the Trump administration is planning on revoking Dodd-Frank entirely, creating a de-regulatory vacuum that will unleash the worst speculative crazes of an industry whose logics are antithetical to the collective well-being of us all:

Pete Schroeder. (2017). U.S. House banking panel looks to amend Dodd Frank legislation. Reuters, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-banks-choice-idUSKBN17S2VH?il=0

A U.S. Congressional banking panel is moving to advance legislation that would overhaul how the government regulates the financial sector, although it faces obstacles towards becoming law.

Representative Jeb Hensarling, who chairs the House Financial Services Committee, is considering amendments that would repeal large parts of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law.

After holding a hearing Wednesday to discuss the bill, the Financial CHOICE Act, the House panel is expected to vote on the bill in six days, according to a House aide.

But it's unlikely that the package will garner support from congressional Democrats, who criticized the bill at the hearing as sowing the seeds for another financial crisis like the 2008 banking sector meltdown.

Representative Maxine Waters, the top Democrat on the committee, described the measure as “dead on arrival,” adding, “This bill must not become law.”

Given that at least eight Democrats would be needed to back Hensarling’s bill for it to pass the U.S. Senate, Wednesday’s hearing was an indication that the House plan may not clear both chambers of Congress and become law.
Read in these posts why the bankers' logic is antithetical to democracy here:




PLUTONMY, DESPOTISM, DISPOSSESSION

The shock doctrine and the financial crisis Majia's Blog: The Financial Crisis and the Shock Doctrine

Great land and asset grabs http://majiasblog.blogspot.com/2011/06/great-land-and-asset-grabs-pursued-by.html

US is a plutonomy: http://majiasblog.blogspot.com/2011/07/us-is-plutonomy-here-comes-neo.html

Despotism: http://majiasblog.blogspot.com/2012/04/despotism.html

Regulatory Dispossession: http://majiasblog.blogspot.com/2012/07/returning-to-mid-19th-century-safety.html

Neofeudal book prospectus: http://majiasblog.blogspot.com/2012/01/neofeudalism-book-prospectus.html

Neoliberalism http://majiasblog.blogspot.com/2011/08/evolution-of-neoliberalism-in-us-and.html

Neofeudal Lords and the Dispossessed: Majia's Blog: Neofeudal Lords and the Dispossessed

Evolution of Neoliberalism in the US Majia's Blog: The Evolution of Neoliberalism in the US and the Rise ...

Consolidation of Ownership in the Neofeudal economy Majia's Blog: Consolidation of Ownership in the Evolving Neofeudal ...

Dispossessed: Majia's Blog: Dispossessed

The Dispossession of Population: Majia's Blog: The Dispossession of the Population

 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

"A Place Where They [workers] Can Work Without Worries"



Yesterday I noticed that the emissions from Fukushima Daiichi were up despite lack of precipitation:



The screenshot above was taken 4/26/2017 00:02, just past midnight. Later in the day I saw TEPCO using the crane to drop a device into unit 1.

Today the emissions are worse. I can see from the Futaba intersection that it did rain a bit, which always makes the reactor buildings steam:



It certainly doesn't look too healthy for workers but the Asahi Shimbun reports that the company's goal is to create a place workers can labor without worry:
Tomoyuki Tachikawa (2017, April 22). Six years later, some workers at Fukushima nuclear plant say they can do without protective gear. The Asahi Shimbun, http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/04/22/national/six-years-later-workers-fukushima-nuclear-plant-say-can-without-protective-gear/#.WQCmb9zdki8
....about 7,000 workers — 6,000 from construction, electronics and machinery companies and 1,000 from Tepco — work at the power station to deal with the aftermath of the meltdown and decommission the reactors.  “Our near-term goal is to create a place where they can work without worries,” said Daisuke Hirose, a spokesman for Tepco’s Fukushima No. 1 Decontamination & Decommissioning Engineering Co.
In order to create a place where workers can work without worries, some TEPCO officials suggest protective gear is no longer necessary, although the radiation level up on a hill that looks down at the reactors measures 150 microsieverts an hour:
On the hill, the radiation in the air was 150 microsieverts per hour, less than the amount received during a round-trip flight between Tokyo and New York. Tepco says there is no health hazard here as long as you wear masks and helmets and keep your stay short 

150 microsieverts an hour X 24 hours = 3,600 microsieverts a day X 365 days = 1,314,000 microsiverts a year ON A HILL overlooking reactors, or 1314 millisiverts when annual exposure in Japan prior to Fukushma was legally mandated at 1 millisivert.

The real problem of course isn't simply the gamma exposure from the high "background" radioactivity at the plant.

The real problem is the inhalation and ingestion of tiny radioactive elements - such as uranium, strontium, and cesium - that will be deposited in vital organs and bones, where they will decay and where their chemical toxicity will poison biological life.

Accordingly, those who wish to make workers comfortable, who wish to ease their worries with false reassurances about risk, are peddling an early and potentially protracted death.