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The Insiders Economic Dictionary

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Parts W – Z in the Insider’s Economic Dictionary War: Economically, the major cause of national debt and inflation, and often of postwar deflations. Politically, war serves as an excuse to centralize control of government in the hands of the few, and in the Executive Branch of government. Washington Consensus: The neoliberal “conditionalities” imposed on... Read More
Parts U-V in the Insider’s Economic Dictionary Underdevelopment: The term coined by Andre Gunder Frank to describe the policies which former European colonies and more contemporary third-world countries have been turned into indebted raw-materials exporters rather than balanced economies capable of feeding themselves. (See World System.) Unearned income: See Free Lunch. Unexpected. Whenever bad economic... Read More
Part T in the Insider’s Economic Dictionary Tableau Économique: The first formal national-income account, developed by the Physiocrat Francois Quesnay on the analogy of the circulation of blood within the human body. (See Economist, Say’s Law.) Taxation: The way in which a government gives value to money by accepting it in payment of taxes or... Read More
Part S in the Insider’s Economic Dictionary S-curve: The typical shape of growth in nature, such as human beings whose height tapers off as they reach maturity. They also typify most business cycles, which taper off after an upswing as employment, raw-materials and resource limits are approached and wages and commodity prices rise, slowing profits.... Read More
The latest instalment to the Insider’s Economic Dictionary. Race to the bottom: A term for dog-eat-dog competition by which countries compete by cutting wage levels so as to produce in the cheapest market, not by raising wages and labor productivity. The effect is to shrink the circular flow between producers and employee-consumers, leading to declining... Read More
Part P in The Insiders Economic Dictionary. Panic: The abrupt culminating stage of the business cycle, in which inflated asset prices collapse in price as financial securities and properties are sold to pay off debts. Parallel Universe: The objective of modern economic methodology. A hypothetical exercise in science fiction depicting a world that conceivably could... Read More
Part N, O in The Insiders Economic Dictionary. Neoclassical economics: The school that arose in the last quarter of the 19th century, stripping away the classical concept of economic rent as unearned income. By the late 20th century the term “neoclassical” had come to connote a deductive body of free-trade theory using circular reasoning by... Read More
Part M in The Insiders Economic Dictionary. Malthus, Thomas Robert (1766-1834): British economist and spokesman for its landlord class. His Principles of Political Economy (1820) countered Ricardo’s critique of groundrent by pointing out that landlords spent part of it on hiring coachmen and other servants and buying luxury products (coaches, fine clothes and so forth),... Read More
Part M in the Insider’s Economic Dictionary Malthus, Thomas Robert (1766-1834): British economist and spokesman for its landlord class. His Principles of Political Economy (1820) countered Ricardo’s critique of groundrent by pointing out that landlords spent part of it on hiring coachmen and other servants and buying luxury products (coaches, fine clothes and so forth),... Read More
Part L in The Insiders Economic Dictionary Labor: The labor theory of value resolves the value of products and capital goods into labor costs, while Say’s Law focuses on how employees spend their wages. Hence, labor often is euphemized as “consumers” rather than focusing on the terms of their employment by capital. Labor capitalism: Industrial... Read More
Part J in The Insiders Economic Dictionary Jubilee Year: In Judaic Law (Leviticus 25) a Clean Slate to be proclaimed every 50 years annulling personal and agrarian debts, liberating bond-servants to rejoin their families, and returning lands that had been alienated under economic duress. Long thought to have been merely a literary religious ideal, the... Read More
Ideology: A set of assumptions so appealing that one looks at their abstract logic rather than at how the world actually works. (See Insanity.) Ignorance: Socrates said that ignorance was the source of evil, because nobody knowingly commits evil. But by pursuing their own narrow interests, the financial and property sector destroy the social unit,... Read More
Part H in The Insiders Economic Dictionary Half-life: In physics, the time it takes for half the mass of a radioactive element to decay into the next-lower isotope or element, typically ending in a stable and inert element such as lead. By extension, the time it takes for an economic theory or ideology to lose... Read More
Part G to The Insider’s Economic Dictionary. Gains from Trade: A euphemism for trade dependency resulting from the specialization of production between food-surplus nations and food-deficit countries, and the parallel polarization between high-technology and low-wage producers. Originally coined by free-trade advocates, the term is now used primarily by the agriculturally protectionist economies of North America... Read More
Part F in The Insider’s Economic Dictionary Factoid: A hypothesis, rumor or story so consonant with peoples’ preconceptions that it is accepted as a fact or working assumption, even though it often is made up a priori. Among the most notorious examples are the ideas of diminishing returns, equilibrium, that privatized ownership is inherently more... Read More
Part E in The Economics Insiders Dictionary. Earned income: Wages or profits earned by labor or capital for their role in producing goods and services. As such, earned income excludes economic rent and interest, which are property and financial returns that must be paid out of profits and wages. Ebitda: An acronym for earnings before... Read More
Part D in The Economic Insider’s Dictionary Debt: Only pure assets and equity ownership exist without corresponding debt. For financial saving, one party’s saving deposit, loan or credit appears as another party’s debt on the opposite side of the balance sheet. (Even net worth appears on the liabilities side of the balance sheet.) Debt bondage:... Read More
Part C in The Insider’s Economic Dictionary Camouflage: A cloak of artificial attractiveness or even of invisibility. Financial debt-claims on the economy’s income and assets camouflage themselves as wealth, although the financial tactic is to strip it. (See Euphemism and Parasite.) Capital: From Latin caput, “head,” as the political seat of government, society’s guiding intelligence... Read More
Part B to the Insider’s Economic Dictionary Bailout: Reimbursement to speculators and savers of losses incurred by bad loans, investments or deposits in banks that fail. The effect of this moral hazard is to preserve financial control in the hands of the economy’s wealthiest 10 percent, “making them whole” by shifting the loss onto the... Read More
Part A to the Insider’s Economic Dictionary. The Antidote to Euphemism The fallacies that lurk in words are the quicksands of theory; and as the conduct of nations is built on theory, the correction of word-fallacies is the never-ending labor of Science. … the party in this country, one of whose great aims was, at... Read More
Michael Hudson
About Michael Hudson

Michael Hudson is President of The Institute for the Study of Long-Term Economic Trends (ISLET), a Wall Street Financial Analyst, Distinguished Research Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri, Kansas City and author of The Bubble and Beyond (2012), Super-Imperialism: The Economic Strategy of American Empire (1968 & 2003), Trade, Development and Foreign Debt (1992 & 2009) and of The Myth of Aid (1971).

ISLET engages in research regarding domestic and international finance, national income and balance-sheet accounting with regard to real estate, and the economic history of the ancient Near East.

Michael acts as an economic advisor to governments worldwide including Iceland, Latvia and China on finance and tax law.