The biggest banks in the United States have been engaging in practices designed to nudge US economic policy and banking regulation toward permitting nearly any sort of interest-rate manipulation and ignoring, or erasing, necessary anti-usury laws. It’s been part of a concerted effort to try to shape policy to make it easier for banks to come into fresh money and claim new levels of profit from what would otherwise be considered escalating risk.
We are often told it is the borrower who is responsible for all choices involved in any lending relationship. Taken dispassionately, this seems an odd analysis, considering the relationship cannot begin if the lender does not voluntarily choose to lend to that particular borrower. Banks argue that they attempt to allow credit to “flow” to as many borrowers as possible, in the interest of the general welfare, but that they must impose strict disincentives on borrowing beyond one’s means, such as penalties and aggressively escalating punitive interest rates for borrowers with poor credit or who fail to pay on time, even once.
Continue reading “Capping Credit Card Rates: How Usury Undermines Democracy & Capitalism”
2008 will be a year in which the integrity of election processes, the quality and resilience of cultivated soils, the availability of credit to consumers, the affordability of homes and rentals, and access to affordable vital staples like food and water, as well as the cost of transportation, will affect economies the world over. Some economic analysts have said the combination of these factors, resulting instability or environmental degradation, and migration of affected populations, could mean the world is facing an unprecedented level of economic precariousness.
2007 saw prices of commodities, ranging from grains, to metals to petroleum, skyrocket, with mining giants like Río Tinto tripling their stock value, and the price of bread in Mediterranean countries like Spain, jumping 40%. The Earth Policy Institute reports that world grain stocks are at an all-time record low, with only about 54 days of consumption available in case of crop failure or demand-driven scarcity. Drinkable water is also frighteningly scarce, with overpumping of fossil aquifers already beyond sustainable and on the rise.
Continue reading “Elections, Credit, Fuel Costs, Soil Quality, Water Policy & Access to Food Crucial in 2008”