Number of Global Billionaires has Doubled since the Financial Crisis

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Courtesy of Jamie Merrill @ The Independent:

The number of billionaires has doubled since the start of the financial crisis, according to a major new report from anti-poverty campaigners.

According to Oxfam, the world’s rich are getting richer, leaving hundreds of millions of people facing a life “trapped in poverty” as global “inequality spirals out of control”.

The report found that the number of billionaires in the world has more than doubled to 1,646 since the financial crisis of 2009, and Oxfam says is evidence that the benefits of a return to economic growth are “not being shared with the vast majority”.

The influential report is supported by Bank of England chief economist Andrew Haldane and Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz. It notes that since 2009 one million women have died in childcare due to lack of basic health care, and that 57m children are currently missing out on any form of education.

The charity, which published the report as part of its new Even It Up campaign, also found that the richest 85 people in the world have the same wealth as the poorest half of the world’s population.

This group saw its wealth increase by a staggering £412m every day in the last year, while Oxfam now estimates that there are 16 billionaires in Sub-Saharan Africa, where 358m people live in extreme poverty.

Mark Goldring, Oxfam’s chief executive, said: “Inequality is one of the defining problems of our age. In a world where hundreds of millions of people are living without access to clean drinking water and without enough food to feed their families, a small elite have more money than they could spend in several lifetimes.

“The consequences of extreme inequality are harmful to everyone – it robs millions of people of better life chances and fuels crime, corruption and even violent conflict. Put simply, it is holding back efforts to end poverty.” Continue reading

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George Osborne faces backlash after branding charities ‘anti-business’

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George Osborne addresses the Institute of Directors, where he urged business leaders to put their heads ‘above the parapet’. Photograph: Rex Features

Courtesy of Katie Allen & Rowena Wilson @ The Guardian:

George Osborne has triggered a backlash from charities after he urged companies to defend the economy against their “anti-business views” and those of pressure groups and trade unions.

The chancellor called on business leaders to raise their heads “above the parapet” and fight back against charities and others who he said were making arguments against the free market and standing in the way of economic prosperity.

Osborne told the annual convention of the Institute of Directors in London: “You have to get out there and put the business argument, because there are plenty of pressure groups, plenty of trade unions and plenty of charities and the like, that will put the counter view.

“It is, I know, a difficult decision sometimes to put your head above the parapet, but that is the only way we are going to win this argument for an enterprising, business, low-tax economy that delivers prosperity for the people and generations to come.

“There is a big argument in our country … about our future, about whether we are a country that is for business, for enterprise, for the free market.”

Osborne did not name any of the charities that had antagonised him, but his remarks are the latest in a string of comments by senior Conservatives suggesting they believe charities have got too political and leftwing. Continue reading

It’s socialism for the rich and capitalism for the rest of us in Britain

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A view of London’s financial district, as seen from the Shard. Photograph: Andy Rain/EPA

Courtesy of Owen Jones @ The Guardian:

Socialism lives in Britain, but only for the rich: the rules of capitalism are for the rest of us. The ideology of the modern establishment, of course, abhors the state. The state is framed as an obstacle to innovation, a destroyer of initiative, a block that needs to be chipped away to allow free enterprise to flourish. “I think that smaller-scale governments, more freedom for business to exist and to operate – that is the right kind of direction for me,” says Simon Walker, the head of the Institute of Directors. For him, the state should be stripped to a “residual government functioning of maintaining law and order, enforcing contracts”. Mainstream politicians don’t generally talk in such stark terms, but when the deputy prime minister Nick Clegg demands “a liberal alternative to the discredited politics of big government”, the echo is evident.

And yet, when the financial system went into meltdown in 2008, it was not expected to stand on its own two feet, or to pull itself up by its bootstraps. Instead, it was saved by the state, becoming Britain’s most lavished benefit claimant. More than £1tn of public money was poured into the banks following the financial collapse. The emergency package came with few government-imposed conditions and with little calling to account. “The urge to punish all bankers has gone far enough,” declared a piece in the Financial Times just six months after the crisis began. But if there was ever such an “urge” on the part of government, it was never acted on. In 2012, 2,714 British bankers were paid more than €1m – 12 times as many as any other EU country. When the EU unveiled proposals in 2012 to limit bonuses to either one or two years’ salary with the say-so of shareholders, there was fury in the City. Luckily, their friends in high office were there to rescue their bonuses: at the British taxpayers’ expense, the Treasury took to the European Court to challenge the proposals. The entire British government demonstrated, not for the first time, that it was one giant lobbying operation for the City of London. Between 2011 and 2013, bank lending fell in more than 80% of Britain’s 120 postcode areas, helping to stifle economic recovery. Banks may have been enjoyed state aid on an unprecedented scale, but their bad behaviour just got worse – and yet they suffered no retribution.

Contrast this with the fate of the unemployed, including those thrown out of work as a result of the actions of bailed-out bankers. In the austerity programme that followed the financial crisis, state support for those at the bottom of society has been eroded. The support that remains is given withstringent conditions attached. “Benefit sanctions” are temporary suspensions of benefits, often for the most spurious or arbitrary reasons. According to the government’s figures, 860,000 benefit claimants were sanctioned between June 2012 and June 2013, a jump of 360,000 from a year earlier. According to the Trussell Trust, the biggest single provider of food banks, more than half of recipients were dependent on handouts owing to cuts or sanctions to their benefits.

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A First Look At New Report On Crony Capitalism – Trillions In Corporate Welfare

The world we live in is not what is taught in schools and universities or shown in the paper or on TV. It is really topsy turvy, upside down and inside out. Austerity is a lie, it is an ideology used to repress and control the population, much like the monetary, legal and political systems. Government, regardless of colour or flavour has encouraged a dependency on the state but its not the work shy or lazy who receive favourable tax breaks, regulation or subsidies, it’s the corporations and they don’t want you to know. Straight from Wiki:

Fascism’s theory of economic corporatism involved management of sectors of the economy by government or privately controlled organizations (corporations). Each trade union or employer corporation would, theoretically, represent its professional concerns, especially by negotiation of labour contracts and the like. This method, it was theorized, could result in harmony amongst social classes. Authors have noted, however, that de facto economic corporatism was also used to reduce opposition and reward political loyalty.

Courtesy of Liberty Blitzkreig:

One of the primary topics on this website since it was launched has been the extremely destructive and explosive rise of crony capitalism throughout the USA. It is crony capitalism, as opposed to free markets, that has led to the gross inequality in American society we have today. Cronyism for the super wealthy starts at the very top with the Federal Reserve System, which consists of topdown economic central planners who manipulate the money supply and hence interest rates for the benefit of the financial oligarch class. It then trickles down through lobbyist money into the halls of Washington D.C., and ultimately filters down to local governments and then the average person on the street gaming welfare or disability.

As such, we now live in a culture of corruption and theft that is pervasive throughout society. One thing that bothers me to no end is when fake Republicans focus their criticism on struggling people who need welfare or food stamps to survive. They have this absurd notion that the whole welfare system doesn’t start with the multinational corporations and Central Banks at the top. In reality, it is at the top where the cancer starts, and that’s where we should focus in order to achieve real change. Continue reading

Bankers’ bonus cap architect says EU must sue UK government

Courtesy of Jennifer Rankin and Jill Treanor @ The Guardian:

One of the architects of the EU’s cap on bankers’ bonuses has called for the UK government to be sued for allowing banks to sidestep the new rules as two more high street banks were preparing to hand their bosses up to £1m in extra pay to avoid the clampdown.

Philippe Lamberts, the Belgian Green MEP who helped devise the restrictions, said it was clear the UK was failing to implement EU law and accused the coalition of having no interest in halting “absurd remuneration packages”. He urged the European commission to take the UK to court for allowing bankers to bend the rules which limit bonuses to 100% of salary or 200% if shareholders approve.

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His plea came as Barclays and the bailed-out Lloyds Banking Group are expected to reveal they are handing their bosses Antony Jenkins and António Horta-Osório new share awards, on top of their salaries, to prevent their overall pay falling as a result of the cap. The new pay deals could be announced as early as Wednesday.

Their disclosures will follow HSBC’s move to pay its chief executive, Stuart Gulliver, an additional £32,000 a week in allowances on top of his £1.2m salary, and after Virgin Money raised the salary of its boss, Jayne-Anne Gadhia, to £637,000 from £550,000 as a result of the restriction. Royal Bank of Scotland, which is 81% owned by the taxpayer and paid out £567m in bonuses after making an £8bn loss, is yet to announce its response to the bonus cap. However, it is considering asking its shareholders for permission to pay out bonuses worth 200% of salary. Standard Chartered reports its results on Wednesday when it will also face questions about how it intends to tackle the cap.

“What we are witnessing now is an attempt by the major banks, with the support of the British government, to circumvent the rules and that is to compensate what we did on terms of structure, by just raising the fixed rate of remuneration,” said Lamberts. Continue reading