Author Archive

Weekend read – The Pope justifies the means: The first two years of the Council for Inclusive Capitalism with the Vatican

October 28, 2022 1 comment

from Norbert Häring

The Council for Inclusive Capitalism with the Vatican turns two. After his famous verdict “This economy kills,” Pope Francis seems to now be offering big capitalists a spiritual platform for polishing their public image. Unless, the commitments that corporate CEOs post on this platform are seriously intended to make the world a better place? Let’s take a look.

It’s a contrast that could hardly be greater: In late 2013, Pope Francis condemned predatory capitalism and its leaders in his doctrinal letter “Evangelii Gaudium,” something like his government declaration: “Such an economy kills,” it read, and:

“The worship of the ancient golden calf has found a new and merciless form in the fetish of money and in the dictatorship of an economy without a face and without a truly human goal. (…) A new, invisible, sometimes virtual tyranny is emerging, which unilaterally and inexorably imposes its laws and its rules. (…) In this system, which tends to absorb everything in order to increase its benefits, everything weak (…) is defenseless against the interests of the deified market, which become the absolute rule.”

Quite in line with the interpretation of church representatives, Frank A. Meyer wrote on this in Cicero that the Pope was not anti-capitalist, but a reformer of capitalism. He differed fundamentally from his predecessors, however, according to Meyer, in that for him appeals to the improvement of the actors do not suffice. Exploitation and poverty, alienation and misery could not be eliminated by an exorcism of “greed for power and property,” but only by changing the economic substructure, by law. This interpretation is supported by Francis’ writing on trickle-down theory, the theory that something always drips down from the rich man’s table to the blessing of those at the bottom:

“This view, never confirmed by the facts, expresses an undifferentiated, naive confidence in the goodness of those who hold economic power in their hands, as well as in the deified mechanisms of the dominant economic system.”

A change of mind of the infallible

The Pope Francis of the 2020s does not seem to have much in common with the one of 2013. It is a pope who Read more…

The left debating basic income

August 4, 2022 6 comments

from Norbert Häring

Universal basic income has a lot of support among the left but also faces a lot of criticism or even hostility from the left. As on of the critics of I have used a book defending basic income against criticism from the left to check my beliefs against counter-arguments from the same side of the political spectrum and to clarify the reasons for not being convinced.

One of Karl Reitter’s arguments in his book “Kritik der linken Kritik am Grundeinkommen” has indeed convinced me of something that was not fully clear to me before. The neoliberal representatives of basic income, who want to abolish all or almost all social benefits in return for the basic income, are indeed a relatively small minority that has managed to dominate the discussion in the media. If one calls basic income summarily a Trojan horse of the neoliberals one might do an injustice to many supporters of the basic income from the left.

Trojan Horse of the Neoliberals?

However, this already brings us to a first, illuminating internal contradiction. Reitter aptly analyses that the neoliberals enjoy the support of influential circles and have thus been able to dominate the discussion and make themselves appear as the most important representatives of the basic income idea. He counters that the neoliberal supporters are only a tiny and thus supposedly insignificant minority. That is why the talk of a Trojan horse is nonsense, he argues. Read more…

World Economic Forum touts Bitcoin as a tool against global warming

June 24, 2022 Leave a comment

from Norbert Häring

With its Great Reset, the World Economic Forum, the lobby of the world’s largest corporations, supposedly wants to save the world from climate collapse. With a contribution on protecting the climate through Bitcoin, the powerful organisation proves- once again – that distrust is called for when it comes to corporate commitments to social goals. Greenwashing is the order of the day.

Scandalously, the World Economic Forum is recognised as an international organisation, like the Red Cross, not least because of the UN’s dependence on corporate money. As such, it does not sit in the ranks as a lobby iwhen the supposed international bodies discuss how save the world, but sits at the table.

There already indications, that the greenwashing of the Forum will influence policy on Bitcoin and Co. Moreover, the Forum also influences the formulation of the UN’s social and environmental goals and the strategies to achieve them. Therefore, it is important to point to examples that show how misguided it is to assume that this organisation has an interest beyond corporate profits.

Bitcoin’s greenwashing

The recent post on the Forum’s website “Can crypto become a leader in sustainability?” is a prime example of the greenwashing of an environmentally harmful technology in which many IT and financial corporations have a great financial interest. Read more…

Defense contractor Thales calls digital vaccination passes “precursor” to universal digital identification

August 31, 2021 6 comments

from Norbert Häring

Thales, one of the largest international defense contractors, calls the digital vaccination passport a precursor to universal mobile-digital identity credentials. Thales thus confirms my analysis and my worst fears.

Under the headline “How digital ID can help citizens access government services from anywhere,” Kristel Teyras, in charge of the defense contractor Thales’ Digital Identity Services portfolio, writes:

“So-called digital ‘vaccination passports’ will play a key role in enabling citizens to access all manner of services and will act as a precursor to the rollout of mobile digital IDs.”

The pandemic, she writes, has acted as a catalyst for a major shift in consumer behavior, toward the widespread digitization of public and private services. On the role of digital vaccination passports and barriers to access for the unvaccinated in driving this trend forward, the article states:

“Even as we start to return to a sense of normality, this digitalisation of services looks set to gather momentum. This is, in part, due to governments around the world asking their citizens to carry digital health passes to prove they are doubly vaccinated or have a negative test before they can access certain services.”

It then points to “one of the largest digital identity projects ever,” which the EU has kicked off with the framework for a Europe-wide Digital Identity:  Read more…

Cash industry association slams banks’ war on cash

June 16, 2021 2 comments

from Norbert Häring

The hypocrisy of a working group led by the European Central Bank (ECB) on the preservation of cash, which is dominated by banks who at the same time continue to wage their war on cash, has been exposed by cash industry group ESTA in a report. ESTA sent the report to this working group – after it had recently left it in protest.

As a part of its cash strategy, which the ECB Governing Council adopted last September and which it has been hiding in the depths of the ECB’s website since December, the ECB has tasked a working group of the European Retail Payment Board (ERPB) with producing a report on securing access to and acceptance of cash. The ERPB is an ECB-led advisory group. Members are representatives of banks and other associations involved in payment transactions, as providers, merchants or consumers. Entrusting this group with the task of helping to preserve cash – a group,  whose very definition of payment transactions strangely excludes cash – has led to a clash with ESTA, the association of the European cash industry, which had been invited to participate in the working group as a non-member of the EPRB. Read more…

Corona as opportunity for a restart

February 7, 2021 Leave a comment

from Norbert Häring

Merkel, Macron, von der Leyen and other international leaders have described the Corona crisis as an opportunity to reorder world politics on the basis of multilateralism. The timing, shortly after the World Economic Forum’s meeting, and the echoes of the Great Reset proclaimed by the forum, are probably no coincidence, as an analysis of key passages will show.

In a joint plea printed in a number of important international newspapers, António Guterres, Ursula von der Leyen, Emmanuel Macron, Angela Merkel, Charles Michel and Macky Sall call for “Multilateral cooperation for Global Recovery

Guterres is secretary-general of the UN. As a member of the “World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Humanitarian Assistance,” he has co-written texts with such fine titles as “A New Business Model for Humanitarian Assistance?” As the title suggests, one of the issues is how to let the private sector earn more from post-disaster reconstruction. Read more…

All the good things a digital euro could do – and all the bad things it will

December 16, 2020 2 comments

from  Norbert Häring and current issue of RWER

On 2 October, the European Central Bank (ECB) announced in a press release that it intends to intensify its work on a digital euro. The ECB enumerated three scenarios under which it might want to issue a digital euro: (i) a sharp decline in the use of cash, (ii) “he launch of global private means of payment that might raise regulatory concerns and pose risks for financial stability and consumer protection” (read: Libra), and (iii) a broad take-up of central bank digital currencies (CBDC) issued by foreign central banks (read: digital yuan).

With a digital euro one could, if one wanted and was allowed to, actually do some good, namely:

  • create a supplement for cash that protects privacy better than other digital means of payment,
  • give citizens and companies an alternative to bank money which always carries the risk of bankruptcy,
  • curtail the power of banks, by taking away or limiting their power to create money,
  • help prevent a private company such as Facebook, with its own globally accepted currency, from crowding out the euro in payment transactions,
  • prevent China from using its digital yuan to replace the euro (or the dollar) as a transaction currency.

On the other hand, however, it is also possible to do rather underhanded things with it, especially:

  • facilitate and accelerate the abolition of cash in order to perfect financial control over citizens,
  • defend and expand the sanctioning power of the U.S. government, with which it enforces its own law worldwide, including in Europe, in violation of international law.

I will briefly explain what a digital euro is and how it works. Then I will deal with the all-important questions of who controls it and to what end.  read more

Cash industry association ESTA contradicts EU Advocate General on the right to pay in cash

October 27, 2020 2 comments

from Norbert Häring

ESTA, the association of European cash management companies, has published a position paper contradicting the assessment of the EU Advocate General of my case before the European Court of Justice regarding the right to pay my broadcasting fee with the legal tender, cash.

The opinion of the Advocate General is a recommendation to the highest EU court. The Advocate General has more or less adopted the anti-cash stance of the EU Commission. The Board of ESTA, in its opinion adopted on October 26, takes offence at the Attorney General’s assessment that private parties could, without meaningful restrictions, agree by explicit or implicit contractual agreement on a means of payment other than legal tender:

A limitation of legal tender based on contractual agreement, the legal basis of which is not specified in the Opinion, is incompatible with the EU treaties in as much as it bears the promise of the elimination of cash, as it allows market forces to gradually, but irreversibly, phase out cash in the economy.

I find the legal arguments behind it very convincing. Read more…

Perfecting the automated surveillance of the world’s population.

September 28, 2020 4 comments

from Norbert Häring

The President of the EU-Commission plans to give all EU citizens a European digital identity which can “be used anywhere in Europe to do anything from paying taxes to renting a bike”. She wants to implement for Europe what ID2020, the World Economic Forum, the World Bank and Homeland Security are pushing worldwide – to perfect the automated surveillance of the world’s ppopulation.

In Ursula von der Leyen’s speech on the State of the Union on September 16, an important announcement was lost due to the attention given to a tightened climate target. The President of the Commission said:

We want a set of rules that puts people at the centre. Algorithms must not be a black box and there must be clear rules if something goes wrong. The Commission will propose a law to this effect next year. This includes control over our personal data which still have far too rarely today. Every time an App or website asks us to create a new digital identity or to easily log on via a big platform, we have no idea what happens to our data in reality. That is why the Commission will soon propose a secure European e-identity. One that we trust and that any citizen can use anywhere in Europe to do anything from paying your taxes to renting a bicycle. A technology where we can control ourselves what data and how data is used.

You have to read between the lines to decipher the perfidious plan. Read more…

In the middle of a pandemic, the World Bank wants slum dwellers to lose their water supply

August 13, 2020 5 comments

from  Norbert Häring

Developing countries are trying to contain the corona pandemic under the most adverse conditions. In the middle of this, the World Bank is proposing that the water supply of slum dwellers be cut off, if their landlords do not pay the water bill. It is an inhumane philosophy of development that is behind such monstrosities.

For about two decades, the World Bank’s philosophy has been “sustainable development”; “sustainable” in the sense of profitable in the long run. Wherever possible, development work should be carried out in partnership with private companies and their foundations, because only if some corporation can earn money sustainably from development policy will enough money flow in to make a lasting difference. The derivation from this is to privatize and commodify as much as possible, i.e. to make it a tradable commodity. Read more…

The World Economic Forum is planning the “Great Reset” to prevent it from happening

August 1, 2020 24 comments

from Norbert Häring

The club of the world’s richest people and the largest nature-destroying corporations wants the “Great Reset”. Instead of poverty, disease, overpopulation and destruction of nature, the mega-rich promise us a fair world in harmony with nature. Despite its obvious absurdity and the cynicism behind it, this initiative should not be ignored. There is a dark plan behind it.

According to its own description, the World Economic Forum is “THE international organisation for public-private cooperation” and has as its main objective “to improve the state of the world”. The foundation, founded in 1971 by German economist Klaus Schwab, lacks neither power nor self-confidence. For years now, almost all the world’s major heads of government have made the pilgrimage to the annual meeting in Davos to pay their respects to multinational corporations and billionaires.

The World Bank, a close collaborator of the Forum, has made it a strategy to only support development projects that the member companies of this club can earn money from. The United Nations (UN) have been made highly dependent on the money of the corporations and can do practically nothing that does not promote their interests or even runs counter to them. Even the International Monetary Fund (IMF) now acts quite unabashedly as a door-opener for multinationals when it is supposed to help a poor country in difficulty or assess its financial system.

So this powerful organization, the World Economic Forum, has been working for nearly 50 years to make the world a better place, with great success, it claims:

Read more…

Rockefeller Foundation keeps working on their autocratic Lock Step scenario

July 13, 2020 9 comments

from Norbert Häring

Ten years ago, the Rockefeller Foundation published the eerily prescient, autocratic Lock-Step-Scenario and, apparently, has been working to make it true. The most recent initiative in this regard is a cooperation of the Rockefeller-funded GAVI immunization alliance with Mastercard and a biometric ID company named TrustStamp.

Before getting to this cooperation, let me briefly remind you of a selection of the assumptions of the Lock Step scenario builders have made their choices 10 years ago:

  • A virus pandemic with high contagion and high mortality
  • Non-authoritarian response of US-government fails
  • Authoritarian Chinese approach works much better
  • Other nations emulate authoritarian, high surveillance Chinese approach
  • Endurance of more authoritarian rule after pandemic
  • Shocked populations welcoming more surveillance
  • … and authoritarian rule
  • Biometric ID gets a boost
  • A multipolar IT-world with US-dominance emerging
  • Philanthropic foundations becoming part of US external and security policy.

Read more…

Economic faculties in turmoil over an editor’s alleged racism and an article’s colonial attitude

June 29, 2020 3 comments

from Norbert Norbert Häring

A turmoil has engulfed the faculties of economics at the University of Chicago and Harvard. A German economist was first suspended on accusations of racism in Chicago, then rehabilitated. An article in Harvard’s flagship Quarterly Journal of Economics (QJE) is accused of a colonial attitude. The authors justify themselves.

The article describes how a German economist, Harald Uhlig,caused a vritable shitstorm, fuelled not least by Paul Krugman and Justin Wolfers, Even the former president of the US Federal Reserve and current chair of the American Economic Association, Janet Yellen, demanded publicly that Uhlig be relieved of his role as editor of the prestigious JPE, after Uhlig had made a number of callous remarks and provocative comparisons on his blog and on Twitter about protesters against the violent death of George Floyd and about the Black Lives Matter-Organization.

After a black economics professor tweeted that he had been sitting in Uhlig’s classroom in 2014 when Uhlig had first made derogatory remarks about Martin Luther King and then turned to him in a sarcastic manner to ask whether he might have hurt anyone’s feelings. The next day, the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago suspended Uhlig’s consulting activities and the Chicagos Flaghip Journal of Political Economy (JPE) temporarily suspended his role as editor. However, on June 22 he was reinstated, after the University had judged that he had done nothing wrong. Read more…

World Economic Forum totalitarian surveillance fantasy will soon become reality

June 24, 2020 Leave a comment

from Norbert Häring

From March 2021 people with an “I’ve got nothing to hide” attitude will be able to get around border and ticket controls at St Pancras International Station in London on their way to the Continent via the Eurostar, All they will have to do is upload a suitable portrait photo and a copy of their identity document to a government server. Then, instead of standing in a queue, they can walk down a camera-tagged “biometric corridor” without having to show a document. The passport and ticket will, however, be needed at the destination, at least until the brave new total surveillance world of the World Economic Forum has been implemented there, too.

The Known Traveller Program, which has been jointly developed by the World Economic Forum and US Homeland Security, initially provides for international air travel in which travellers collect identity data about themselves in a block chain to which only they have access. If they want to cross a border, they may announce their travel plans in advance and release their data. Cameras with facial recognition software automatically recognize them and let them pass the queues at the controls. What London now wants to implement for Eurostar traffic, follows exactly this principle (apart from the blockchain data-ownership folklore of the Known Traveller).

see also
The totalitarian dystopia of the World Economic Forum is becoming reality

Sudan to be used as guinea pig for cash abolition, universal basic income and total surveillance

June 15, 2020 6 comments

from Norbert Häring

Sudan has a transitional government that depends on the goodwill of the USA. This is an opportunity to use the country for the largest field trial to date, to put an entire population on the digital leash through cash abolition and a universal basic income.

For several years now, the World Bank, Better Than Cash Alliance and various UN organizations have been massively promoting and advertising the purely digital transmission of financial aid for the needy in poor countries. Declared goals are cost savings and prevention of corruption and theft, as well as “financial inclusion”. The latter is the real reason, but not in the harmless meaning of giving everyone the chance to get a bank account, but in the meaning of “bringing everyone into the system”, as the head of Paypal, Dan Schulman, defined it at a Financial Inclusion Forum in Washington in 2015.

The system is the one in which Paypal, Microsoft and Co. can make money with every transaction and, as Microsoft founder Bill Gates made clear at the same event, in which the US government can track, save and if necessary block every transaction.

Read more…

Taxpayers bailing out capitalists

June 11, 2020 11 comments

from Norbert Häring

In Germany and beyond, public policy in response to the Corona crisis operates with
an unspoken basic assumption: the claims of capital are sacred.
This is unfair and economically unreasonable.

German economists largely agreed on how not to deal with the corona crisis. Sending a cheque to all taxpayers, as the US government did, is considered an unsuitable anti-crisis measure. After all, the 1200 dollars were too little for 30 million who lost their jobs within a few weeks, and unnecessary for the others who were supposed to stay at home anyway and not go shopping.

Instead, the German government, to roaring support of German economist, decided to lower the value added tax for half a year, starting in July. Few of the arguments against Trumps consumption checks would not apply to this measure.

Read more…

Lock Step: How the Rockefeller Foundation wants to implement its autocratic pandemic scenario

May 28, 2020 20 comments

from Norbert Häring                                                 see followup to this post

Ten years ago, the rich and powerful Rockefeller Foundation played through and favorably described a scenario in which a pandemic would lead to autocratic forms of government with total surveillance and control of citizens. Now it has published a pandemic plan to make this scenario a reality.

According to the preamble by the President of the Foundation, it took two weeks to set up and edit this plan, implicating a large number of “experts and decision-makers from academia, business, politics and government – across industries and political ideologies” and publish it in glossy on April 21, 2020, under the title “National Covid-19 Testing Action Plan: Pragmatic steps to reopen our workplaces and our communities”.

I became aware of this plan through a German translation of an article by Dux Morales in the Italian newspaper il manifesto about it. As I read through this my breath stood still. Read more…

How to drop helicopter money correctly

May 27, 2020 5 comments

from Norbert Häring

Distributing additional money to stimulate demand is seen by economists as a recipe for boosting demand in a crisis. But you have to do it right, not like Donald Trump did it.

In response to the corona crisis, US President Donald Trump had consumption cheques with his signature worth 1200 dollars sent to all citizens. This bears a strong resemblance to an anti-crisis recipe of economists, which has been known as helicopter money since Milton Friedman coined this term. You just let money rain down, and demand will automatically pick up again.

According to the basic concept of helicopter money, it would be the central bank which puts the additional money into circulation. In the current case, however, the money does not come straight from the central bank Federal Reserve (Fed), but from the government. Theoretically, one could think that the government would have to make cuts in other budget areas so that the money would not be additional. However, this is not the case for the following reason:

Because of the Fed’s massively expanded purchases of government bonds, it is clear that the money is actually additional, because indirectly the central bank finances the payments to the citizens and the government’s high deficits that are created as a result. Read more…

The totalitarian dystopia of the World Economic Forum is becoming reality

April 17, 2020 7 comments

from Norbert Häring

In January  2018, a pilot project for the surveillance of air travelers, commissioned by the World Economic Forum, was agreed upon in Davos. At the time, I presented the Known Traveller Digital Identity (KTDI) project as a “totalitarian dystopa”. A follow-up report shows that the multinational corporations are successfully involving governments and the EU in their plans. Covid-19 is speeding up implementation tremdendously and Bill Gates inadvertently lets us know how.

Like the 2018 report called „”The Known Traveller: Unlocking the potential of digital identity for secure and seamless travel“ this more technical KTDI White Paper that goes by the title “Known Traveller Digital Identity Specifications Guidance” was published without any fanfare on the Internet  in March. These reports, prepared by the consulting firm Accenture, are meant to be read only by people in the digital surveillance and security business. For understandable reasons, these people prefer to talk about digital identity rather than digital control or surveillance.

This is how the KTDI-scheme is supposed to work: We upload information about us into a database – or authorize others to do so. First of all, this should be a proof of identity from the authorities, but also our travel history, bank data, hotel accommodations, rental car bookings, documents from universities, government offices and much more. If we want to cross a border, we give the authorities access to this database in advance, so that they can see beforehand that we are harmless. Using facial recognition and our (ideally) biometrically linked smartphone, they can recognize us at the border crossing. If we have been diligent enough in providing data, we will be allowed to walk past the queues of other travellers, receiving preferential treatment and minimal checks. However, as it says in the first KTDI-report, if there should be any doubt as to a traveller’s intentions, the border official can, on the basis of the information provided in advance, ask the respective person more in-depth questions, for example „to better understand his recent activities”. Read more…

Problems of index fund capitalism

February 9, 2020 Leave a comment

fro Norbert Häring

If the trend of the last two decades continues, index funds could control 40 percent of the voting rights in the largest corporations by 2040.The share is already up to 25 percent in the US. There a two perspectives on this. Some scholars say it threatens shareholder value, others fear it will lead to too much of it. I side with the latter. …

Law-and-economics professors Lucian Bebchuk and Scott Hirst from the Universities of Harvard and Boston make the extrapolation of the index funds share in votes in their paper “The Specter of the Giant Three”.

The concentration of shares in an ever smaller number of fund companies is a trend that has started roughly 70 years ago. In 1960 only about six percent of US shares were held by capital management companies. This share has increased tenfold to 65 percent by 2017, according to Bebchuk and Hirst.

Index funds don’t select shares, actively, but instead replicate passively the composition of a stock market index with their assets, such as the DAX or the Standard & Poor’s 500 (S & P 500). The advantage for investors is that they do not have to pay fund managers and analysts to work on stock selection. Experience has shown that the majority of actively managed funds do not outperform index funds even before fees.

The Giant Three

Read more…

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