Author: David James

  • ECONOMICS

    In the end, debts cannot be paid

    • David James
    • 08 November 2017
    3 Comments

    Once upon a time, usury was considered a sin and lending was subject to strict controls. Now, the world is in the grip of usury. It cannot continue. At some point it will have to be retired, or swapped to equity. A good place to start is third world debt, which is the most immoral variant.

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  • MEDIA

    There is no such thing as capitalism

    • David James
    • 27 October 2017
    13 Comments

    In literary studies, one of the most important requirements is the need to define one's terms accurately. It has always come as a shock to me that economics is almost completely devoid of such precision. Much of the terminology of the 'discipline' of economics is either nonsense, or thinly disguised tautologies.

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  • MEDIA

    Is Google and Facebook's imitation game doomed?

    • David James
    • 26 September 2017
    3 Comments

    There are very few examples of companies that have been able to genuinely change when confronted with new circumstances. It looks increasingly that Facebook and Google are approaching this situation. The challenge is likely to come from some quarter that is new and surprising, just as the demolition of conventional media came from companies that could have barely been imagined 20 years ago.

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  • MEDIA

    How political correctness kills language freedoms

    • David James
    • 25 August 2017
    21 Comments

    The push for politically correct language may be well intentioned enough, but its consequences are often appalling. It can rob us of one of the most important of all human freedoms: the right to use words to mean what we want them to mean.

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  • ECONOMICS

    World trade is now America versus China (and Russia)

    • David James
    • 23 August 2017
    4 Comments

    The anti-Russian frenzy in the United States amounts to little more than a great deal of evidence that the intelligence community suspects there might be a great deal of evidence that the Russians have been meddling. It has to rank as one of the biggest, and most orchestrated, blind alleys of modern media coverage. When a journalist says an anonymous ‘respected source’ thinks the Russians are up to something, this writer is always left wondering: respected by whom? His dog?

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  • ECONOMICS

    Where is money headed?

    • David James
    • 30 July 2017
    2 Comments

    The daily fluctuations of financial markets and the fractious debates over economic policy are concealing something deeper and much more disturbing. The future of money itself is in question. A decade after world banking almost collapsed in the global financial crisis, the questions raised have not been answered.

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  • ECONOMICS

    Bitcoin revolution is a matter of trust

    • David James
    • 30 June 2017
    2 Comments

    One of the more interesting recent developments in finance has been the creation of Bitcoin and other crypto-currencies. They are being touted as a revolution in how we think and use money. Alternately, there are many who want to go in the opposite direction, back to the gold standard. Both sides have a common enemy: money whose value is determined by government dictate. Allowing governments to dictate in this way, they argue, is the core of the problem. To a significant extent, they are wrong.

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  • ECONOMICS

    What lies beneath the finance industry's water words

    • David James
    • 05 June 2017
    10 Comments

    One thing that is rarely done is a literary-style analysis of the language used in finance and business. It can quickly reveal the sleight-of-hand, even outright deception, that plague these powerful sectors. To take one example, finance language heavily relies on water metaphors, which are deeply misleading. It is unlikely that this is done deliberately; it is more probably reification (making the intangible appear to be concrete). But its consequences have been, and remain, devastating.

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  • ECONOMICS

    Budget's bank slug flouts the property precipice

    • David James
    • 10 May 2017
    3 Comments

    The $6.2 billion the government will raise through a levy on bank liabilities not only shows how out of favour banks have become, it is also, in effect, a de facto tax on property lending - a counterbalance to negative gearing and capital gains tax breaks. It is a tax on property lending because nearly all the banks' loans are mortgages for housing, or business loans secured with property. Of course the banks will pass the extra cost on to their customers, so it becomes a tax on borrowers.

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  • ECONOMICS

    Beyond fake news lies the fog of fake figures

    • David James
    • 02 May 2017
    6 Comments

    Fake news aside, increasingly, we live in a world of fake figures. There is a cliche in management that 'what gets measured gets done'. In public discourse that might be translated to 'what gets measured is considered real'. One obvious fake figure is GDP, which is taken as a measure of national wellbeing. In fact, it is just a measure of transactions. If money changes hands because something disastrous happens then GDP will rise. That is hardly an indicator of national wellbeing.

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  • ECONOMICS

    Deconstructing the privatisation scam

    • David James
    • 04 April 2017
    12 Comments

    It is increasingly evident how pernicious the privatisation myth is. Two recent examples have underlined it: the failings in Australia's privatised energy grid and the usurious pricing in airport car parks. Both demonstrated that it is folly to expect a public benefit to inevitably emerge from private profit seeking. The purpose of government funded public infrastructure is not to make profits but to lower the cost of doing business, sometimes called the socialisation of the means of production.

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  • ECONOMICS

    Penalty rate cuts are the result of thinking small

    • David James
    • 07 March 2017
    17 Comments

    Witnessing the debate over Sunday penalty rates, an intriguing pattern of thinking emerged. It can be characterised as a microcosm/macrocosm duality. Those arguing for lower Sunday wage rates demonstrate their case by talking about individual businesses, the micro approach: 'Many businesses would love to open on a Sunday and if wage rates were lower, they would. Unleash those businesses and greater employment will follow.' Superficially impressive, this does not survive much scrutiny.

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