Category Archives: Economics

Fed Economists Warn US Unemployment Rate Could Soon Reach 32%—During Great Depression It Peaked at 25%

“These are very large numbers by historical standards, but this is a rather unique shock that is unlike any other experienced by the U.S. economy in the last 100 years.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 3-31-2020

 

Hundreds of cars waiting to receive food from the Greater Community Food Bank in Duquesne, Pennsylvania on March 30, 2020. Photo: The Mind Unleashed

Economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis are warning that if the current rate of U.S. job losses continues, the country’s unemployment rate could reach a staggering 32.1% by the end of June as the coronavirus pandemic-induced downturn sparks mass layoffs across the nation.

Miguel Faria-e-Castro, an economist with the St. Louis Fed, wrote in an analysis last week that 47 million more workers could lose their jobs by the end of the second quarter of 2020, bringing the total number of unemployed people in the U.S. to 52.8 million. As CNBC noted, that number would be “more than three times worse than the peak of the Great Recession.” Continue reading

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PG&E Pleads Guilty to Involuntary Manslaughter for Sparking California’s Deadliest Fire

The California utility faced felony charges in connection with a 2018 wildfire that killed over 80 people.

By Olivia Rosane,   Published 3-24-2020 by EcoWatch

California utility Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) will plead guilty to involuntary manslaughter for sparking the state’s deadliest wildfire, the company announced Monday.

The announcement comes a little less than a year after an investigation confirmed that power lines owned by the utility sparked the Camp Fire, which burned 153,336 acres, killed 85 people and scorched the town of Paradise.

“We cannot replace all that the fire destroyed, but our hope is that this plea agreement, along with our rebuilding efforts, will help the community move forward from this tragic incident,” PG&E Chief Executive Bill Johnson said in a statement reported by Reuters.

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With a Quarter of the World’s Population Under US Sanctions, Countries Appeal to UN to Intervene

Eight countries, representing around one-quarter of all humanity, say that Washington’s actions are undermining their response to the COVID–19 pandemic sweeping the planet.

By Alan Macleod. Published 3-27-2020 by MintPress News

The governments of China, Cuba, Iran, Nicaragua, North Korea, Russia, Syria, and Venezuela – all under sanctions from the United States – sent a joint statement to the United Nations Secretary-General, the UN’s High Commissioner on Human Rights and the Director-General of the World Health Organization calling for an end to the unilateral American economic blockade, as they are, “illegal and blatantly violate international law and the charter of the United Nations.”

The eight countries, representing around one-quarter of humanity, say that Washington’s actions are undermining their response to the COVID–19 pandemic sweeping the planet. “The destructive impact of said measures at the national level, plus their extraterritorial implication, together with the phenomenon of over-compliance and the fear for ‘secondary sanctions,’ hinder the ability of national governments” in procuring even basic medical equipment and supplies, including coronavirus test kits and medicine. It is a “hard if not impossible deed for those countries who are currently facing the application of unilateral coercive measures,” to cope, they conclude. Continue reading

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Walmart Was Almost Charged Criminally Over Opioids. Trump Appointees Killed the Indictment.

Even as company pharmacists protested, Walmart kept filling suspicious prescriptions, stoking the country’s opioid epidemic. A Republican U.S. Attorney in Texas thought the evidence was damning. Trump’s political appointees? Not so much.

By Jesse Eisinger and James Bandler. Published 3-25-2020 by ProPublica

Attorney General William P. Barr, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and FBI Director Christopher Wray. Photo: Department of Justice (Public domain)

On a Tuesday just before Halloween in 2018, a group of federal prosecutors and agents from Texas arrived in Washington. For almost two years, they’d been investigating the opioid dispensing practices of Walmart, the largest company in the world. They had amassed what they viewed as highly damning evidence only to face a major obstacle: top Trump appointees at the Department of Justice.

The prosecution team had come to Washington to try to save its case. Joe Brown, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Texas, led the group, which included Heather Rattan, an over-20-year veteran of the office who had spent much of her career prosecuting members of drug cartels. Continue reading

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‘Huge Victory’ for Standing Rock Sioux Tribe as Federal Court Rules DAPL Permits Violated Law

“This is what the tribe has been fighting for many months. Their fearless organizing continues to change the game.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 3-25-2020

Photo: Standing Rock Occupation/Facebook

A federal judge handed down a major victory for the Standing Rock Sioux tribe of North Dakota on Wednesday, ruling that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers violated the National Environmental Policy Act by approving federal permits for the Dakota Access Pipeline.

The USACE must complete a full environmental impact study of the pipeline, including full consideration of concerns presented by the Standing Rock Tribe, the judge ruled. The tribe has asked the court to ultimately shut the pipeline down. Continue reading

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‘This Is a Massive Scandal’: Trump FDA Grants Drug Company Exclusive Claim on Promising Coronavirus Drug

“It is insane and unacceptable,” said Bernie Sanders. “We will not tolerate profiteering. Any treatment or vaccine must be made free for all.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 3-24-2020

Coronavirus. Photo: CDC

As healthcare providers across the U.S. desperately attempt to treat a rapidly growing number of patients with the coronavirus, a pharmaceutical company with ties to the Trump administration has been granted exclusive status for a drug it is developing to treat the illness—a potential windfall for the company that could put the medication out of reach for many Americans.

As The Intercept reported Monday, the Food and Drug Administration granted Gilead Sciences “orphan” drug status for remdesivir, one of several drugs being tested as potential treatments for the coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19. The designation is generally reserved for drugs that treat rare illnesses affecting fewer than 200,000 Americans—but companies can be eligible if the designation, as in this case of a rapidly spreading virus, is made before a disease spreads beyond that limit. Continue reading

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‘Do F-35s Fight Pandemics?’ Amid Covid-19 Outbreak, Lawmakers Pushing For Even More Useless Pentagon Spending

“Infuriating doesn’t even begin to describe it.”

By Eoin Higgins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 3-20-2020

Lawmakers are calling for more F-35s in response to the coronavirus outbreak. (Photo: Forsvarsdepartementet/flickr/cc)

As the federal government develops strategies for how to deal with the coronavirus outbreak that has already significantly damaged the U.S. economy and killed over 100 Americans, a group of lawmakers are urging Congress approve the purchasing of 19 more F-35 fighters than the Pentagon requested as part of the battle against the disease, enraging progressives.

“Infuriating doesn’t even begin to describe it,” tweeted Stephen Miles, executive director of Win Without War, on Friday. Continue reading

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‘Now Make It National’: Vermont and Minnesota Classify Grocery Store Staff as Emergency Personnel

“If your job is so ‘essential’ that you can’t get off for a killer global pandemic, you deserve $15 an hour and a union.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 3-19-2020

Photo: Piqsels

Demands for nationwide protections for grocery store workers grew Thursday after officials in Minnesota and Vermont officially designated such employees as emergency workers who are essential to the U.S. population’s wellbeing as the coronavirus pandemic spreads across the country.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, a Democrat, added grocery store workers to those protected under the state’s “Care for Children of Families of Emergency Workers” order, requiring schools in the state to provide childcare for the employees. Previously, only hospital staff, nurses, and other public health and disaster workers qualified as emergency personnel under the directive. Continue reading

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Closing polling places is the 21st century’s version of a poll tax

Californians wait in line to vote on Super Tuesday, March 3, 2020. AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu

Joshua F.J. Inwood, Pennsylvania State University and Derek H. Alderman, University of Tennessee

Delays and long lines at polling places during recent presidential primary elections – such as voters in Texas experienced – represent the latest version of decades-long policies that have sought to reduce the political power of African Americans in the U.S.

Following the Civil War and the extension of the vote to African Americans, state governments worked to block black people, as well as poor whites, from voting. One way they tried to accomplish this goal was through poll taxes – an amount of money each voter had to pay before being allowed to vote. Continue reading

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Toilet Paper Wars and the Shithouse of Capitalism

By Simon Springer  Published 3-15-2020 by Common Dreams

Toilet paper shelves at a Costco in Maine. Photo: Amanda Hill/Twitter

The run on toilet paper has brought the failings of capitalism front and center to the bathroom of every house across Australia, a trend that has now spread to other countries. We are witnessing, in real-time and with stunning consequence, the stone-cold fact that markets are an ineffective mediator of resources, prone to the worst vagaries of herd mentality. Perceived impending shortages of toilet paper owing to the spread of COVID-19 set off widespread panic. We might be inclined to laugh at the implausibility of the whole scenario, but whether the situation is real or imagined is beside the point. The truth, which in this case may appear stranger than fiction, is that markets operate in the sweet spot between scarcity and fear. Continue reading

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