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In her new book, Collusion: How Central Bankers Rigged the World, Nomi Prins remembers how the 9/11 attacks affected her. She was, at the time, working for Goldman Sachs (which has been sending key former employees directly into top government posts ever since, most recently, of course, Steven Mnuchin as Donald Trump’s Treasury secretary). Before... Read More
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Making the Fed an Instrument for Disaster
Warning: What you are about to read is not about Russia, the 2016 election, or the latest person to depart from the White House in a storm of tweets. It’s the Beltway story hiding in plain sight with trillions of dollars in play and an economy to commandeer. While we’ve been bombarded with a litany... Read More
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The Next Financial Crisis -- Not If, But When
There’s been lots of fire and fury around Washington lately, including a brief government shutdown. In Donald Trump’s White House, you can hardly keep up with the ongoing brouhahas from North Korea to Robert Mueller’s Russian investigation, while it already feels like ages since the celebratory mood over the vast corporate tax cuts Congress passed... Read More
There’s no way to measure just how cheery this period really is -- not if you’re the CEO of a major company. Just as the World Economic Summit was opening in Davos, Switzerland, and President Donald Trump was flying in to put his mark on the moment, PwS, a global consulting firm, released its annual... Read More
Should We Build a Wall to Keep Them Out?
In the past couple of weeks, thanks to the president’s racist comments about Haiti and African countries he can’t even name -- remember “Nambia”? -- as well as the stamp of approval he awarded future immigrants from Norway, we’ve seen a surprising amount of commentary about that fortunate country. Let me just say: those Norwegians... Read More
Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands. The U.S. got clobbered. Three category 4 or 5 Atlantic hurricanes of startling intensity, a record for any single season, whacked the country. Records were also set for rainfall and destruction. Two of those mega-storms, Irma and Maria, their power intensified by waters growing ever warmer thanks to... Read More
Greeting Climate-Change Victims With a Man-Made Dystopia
When I first talked to the three Honduran men in the train yard in the southern Mexican town of Tenosique, I had no idea that they were climate-change refugees. We were 20 miles from the border with Guatemala at a rail yard where Central American refugees often congregated to try to board La Bestia (“the... Read More
Or Putting Your Mouth Where Your Money Isn’t
Among the stranger features of the 2016 election campaign was the success of Donald Trump, a creature of globalization, as an America First savior of the white working class. A candidate who amassed billions of dollars by playing globalization for all it was worth -- he manufactured clothes and accessories bearing his name in low-wage... Read More
Who can keep up with the madness of our never-ending Trumpian media moment? Each day is a lesson in the bizarre, in ever-wilder comments, accusations, charges, and claims of every sort from or against The Donald and crew. Each day spotlights subjects you hardly knew were subjects until they burst onto cable news and individual... Read More
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Secretary of the Treasury for the .01%
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin doesn’t exactly come across as the guy you’d want in your corner in a playground tussle. In the Trump administration, he’s been more like the kid trying to cop favor with the school bully. That, at least, is the role he seems to have taken in the Trump White House. When... Read More
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Glass-Steagall or Another Economic Meltdown?
Donald, listen, whatever you’ve done so far, whatever you’ve messed up, there’s one thing you could do that would make up for a lot. It would be huge! Terrific! It could change our world for the better in a big-league way! It could save us all from economic disaster! And it isn’t even hard to... Read More
Remember when “draining the swamp” was something the Bush administration swore it was going to do in launching its Global War on Terror? Well, as we all know, that global swamp of terror only got muckier in the ensuing years. (Think al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, think ISIS.) Then, last year, that swamp left terror... Read More
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Not the American One, But Trump’s
President Trump, his children and their spouses, aren’t just using the Oval Office to augment their political legacy or secure future riches. Okay, they certainly are doing that, but that’s not the most useful way to think about what’s happening at the moment. Everything will make more sense if you reimagine the White House as... Read More
Inaction Equals Annihilation
Not since World War II have more human beings been at risk from disease and starvation than at this very moment. On March 10th, Stephen O’Brien, under secretary-general of the United Nations for humanitarian affairs, informed the Security Council that 20 million people in three African countries -- Nigeria, Somalia, and South Sudan -- as... Read More
There are the terrorists, who get attention out of all proportion to their actual clout, and then there are those with big-time clout -- I think of them as the terrarists -- who get almost no attention at all. Back in May 2013, I came up with that term and here’s how I described those... Read More
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How a Bank Conquered Washington
Irony isn’t a concept with which President Donald J. Trump is familiar. In his Inaugural Address, having nominated the wealthiest cabinet in American history, he proclaimed, “For too long, a small group in our nation's capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost. Washington flourished -- but the people... Read More
In a sense, the damage is already done and who can doubt that what follows will be a demolition derby -- with an exception almost too obvious to mention. In the pre-inaugural period, one simple fact of the Trumpian accession stood out boldly: just about every one of his appointees to a non-national-security post was... Read More
The Birth of a New Nationalist World Order
Donald Trump is a worldly fellow. He travels the globe on his private jet. He’s married to a Slovene and divorced from a Czech. He doesn’t speak any other languages, but hey, he’s an American, so monolingualism is his birthright. His fortune depends in large part on the global economy. He has business interests in... Read More
Trump’s Carbon-Obsessed Energy Policy and the Planetary Nightmare to Come
Scroll through Donald Trump’s campaign promises or listen to his speeches and you could easily conclude that his energy policy consists of little more than a wish list drawn up by the major fossil fuel companies: lift environmental restrictions on oil and natural gas extraction, build the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, open more... Read More
The Trump administration-in-formation is a stew of generals, billionaires, and multimillionaires -- and as in the case of retired Marine General James "Mad Dog" Mattis, the likely new secretary of defense, even the military men seem to have made more than a few bucks in these last years. In retirement, Mattis, for instance, joined the... Read More
Donald Trump has long campaigned on the promise of running the country the way he's run his businesses. On that basis, we essentially already know what it would mean if he entered the Oval Office and applied his personal business acumen to this nation (and the rest of the world). There's a surprisingly full record... Read More
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Wall Street in the Saddle
As this endless election limps toward its last days, while spiraling into a bizarre duel over vote-rigging accusations, a deep sigh is undoubtedly in order. The entire process has been an emotionally draining, frustration-inducing, rage-inflaming spectacle of repellent form over shallow substance. For many, the third debate evoked fatigue. More worrying, there was again no... Read More
Let’s start with the basics. In an era when the U.S. seemed to have no great power rivals on the horizon, its national security state was expanded to monstrous proportions and given the “right” to commit acts ranging from kidnapping to torture, surveillance of its citizenry toassassination, based on the horrific events of a single... Read More
Saving the Soul of Democracy
Sixty-six years ago this summer, on my 16th birthday, I went to work for the daily newspaper in the small East Texas town of Marshall where I grew up. It was a good place to be a cub reporter -- small enough to navigate but big enough to keep me busy and learning something every... Read More
Hope: it’s in short supply in America this year. I was reminded of that recently when I spoke at a kick-off event for the school year hosted by the Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas. The Institute’s namesake is, of course, Bob Dole, the war hero turned Republican congressman, senator, minority and... Read More
The Unyielding Grip of Fossil Fuels on Global Life
Here’s the good news: wind power, solar power, and other renewable forms of energy are expanding far more quickly than anyone expected, ensuring that these systems will provide an ever-increasing share of our future energy supply. According to the most recent projections from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) of the U.S. Department of Energy, global... Read More
Think of them as omens of our age. While global temperatures have been soaring lately -- May was the 13th month in a row to break all-time heat records -- the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration just reported, more parochially, that this was the hottest June on record for the lower 48 states. (USA! USA!)... Read More
One small aspect of a trip I took to El Paso, Texas, back in the 1970s remains in my mind: the weather. No, not the weather in El Paso, which is more or less the same much of the year, but the weather on the local television news. I remember watching a weatherman begin his... Read More
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There’s a pile of money hiding offshore. It’s true that jobs are also leaving the United States because American companies find it convenient to cut labor costs by moving manufacturing abroad, the economic issue you’re hearingmost about in this election season. But the stunning amount of money that continues to flow across American borders (and... Read More
The Collapse of the Old Oil Order
Sunday, April 17th was the designated moment. The world’s leading oil producers were expected to bring fresh discipline to the chaotic petroleum market and spark a return to high prices. Meeting in Doha, the glittering capital of petroleum-rich Qatar, the oil ministers of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), along with such key... Read More
In a Greater Middle East in which one country after another has been plunged into chaos and possible failed statehood, two rival nations, Iran and Saudi Arabia, have been bedrock exceptions to the rule. Iran, at the moment, remains so, but the Saudi royals, increasingly unnerved, have been steering their country erratically into the region’s... Read More
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How the Democrats Created a "Liberalism of the Rich"
[This piece has been adapted from Thomas Frank's new book, Listen, Liberal, or What Ever Happened to the Party of the People? (Metropolitan Books).] When you press Democrats on their uninspiring deeds -- their lousy free trade deals, for example, or their flaccid response to Wall Street misbehavior -- when you press them on any... Read More
Reading Thomas Frank's new book, Listen, Liberal, or What Ever Happened to the Party of the People?, I was reminded of the snapshot that Oxfam offered us early this year: 62 billionaires now have more wealth than the bottom 50% of the global population, while the richest 1% own more than the other 99% combined.... Read More
The Irony of Oil Abundance
Three and a half years ago, the International Energy Agency (IEA) triggered headlines around the world by predicting that the United States would overtake Saudi Arabia to become the world’s leading oil producer by 2020 and, together with Canada, would become a net exporter of oil around 2030. Overnight, a new strain of American energy... Read More
It’s evident that we’re still on a planet where oil rules. The question increasingly is: What exactly does it rule over? After all, every barrel of oil that’s burned contributes to a fast-approaching future in which the weather grows hotter and more extreme, droughts andwildfires spread, sea levels rise precipitously, ice continues to melt away... Read More
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You Can't Earn a Living on the Minimum Wage
When presidential candidate Bernie Sanders talks about income inequality, and when other candidates speak about the minimum wage and food stamps, what are they really talking about? Whether they know it or not, it’s something like this. My Working Life Then A few years ago, I wrote about my experience enmeshed in the minimum-wage economy,... Read More
To say that we live on a 1% planet isn't just a turn of phrase. In fact, it would undoubtedly bemore accurate to speak of a .1% or a .01% planet. In recent years, wealth and income inequalities have grown in a notorious fashion in the United States -- and, as it turns out, globally... Read More
America’s Coast-to-Coast Toxic Crisis
“I know if I was a parent up there, I would be beside myself if my kids’ health could be at risk,” said President Obama on a recent trip to Michigan. “Up there” was Flint, a rusting industrial city in the grip of a “water crisis” brought on by a government austerity scheme. To save... Read More
Talk about nightmares: the children of a city, thousands of them, may have been poisoned by lead in its drinking water in a process set off by adults intent on saving a little money, who learned of the dangers and then ignored the warnings of scientists, revealed nothing to the public about the risks to... Read More
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How the Media Hide Undocumented Workers
In our post-modern (or post-post-modern?) age, we are supposedly transcending the material certainties of the past. The virtual world of the Internet is replacing the “real,” material world, as theory asks us to question the very notion of reality. Yet that virtual world turns out to rely heavily on some distinctly old systems and realities,... Read More
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The Most Expensive Election Ever Is A Billionaire’s Playground (Except for Bernie Sanders)
Speaking of the need for citizen participation in our national politics in his final State of the Union address, President Obama said, “Our brand of democracy is hard.” A more accurate characterization might have been: “Our brand of democracy is cold hard cash.” Cash, mountains of it, is increasingly the necessary tool for presidential candidates.... Read More
Or What Is It the Scandinavians Have That We Don’t?
[This is a joint TomDispatch/Nation article and appears in print in slightly shortened form in the new issue of the Nation magazine.] Some years ago, I faced up to the futility of reporting true things about America’s disastrous wars and so I left Afghanistan for another remote mountainous country far away. It was the polar... Read More
When it comes to news about Saudi Arabia, the execution of an oppositional Shiite cleric, Nimr al-Nimr, has topped the headlines recently -- and small wonder. Aging King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud and his 30-year-old son, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the new defense minister who has already involved his country in a classic... Read More
Political Turmoil in a Time of Low Energy Prices
As 2015 drew to a close, many in the global energy industry were praying that the price of oil would bounce back from the abyss, restoring the petroleum-centric world of the past half-century. All evidence, however, points to a continuing depression in oil prices in 2016 -- one that may, in fact, stretch into the... Read More
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The Great Die-Off of America's Blue Collar Whites
The white working class, which usually inspires liberal concern only for its paradoxical, Republican-leaning voting habits, has recently become newsworthy for something else: according to economist Anne Case and Angus Deaton, the winner of the latest Nobel Prize in economics, its members in the 45- to 54-year-old age group are dying at an immoderate rate.... Read More
It’s the American mean season. No question about it. Racism. Xenophobia. Refugee bashing. Seemingly endless blatant police killings (and other kinds of mistreatment) of black citizens. All of it out in the open for anyone to see and denounce -- or cheer. And at rallies nationwide, Republican candidates, especially Donald Trump, are indeed being cheered... Read More
The Six Top Republican Candidates Take Economic Policy Into the Wilderness
Fact: too many Republican candidates are clogging the political scene. Perhaps what’s needed is an American Hunger Games to cut the field to size. Each candidate could enter the wilderness with one weapon and one undocumented worker and see who wins. Unlike in the fictional Hunger Games for which contestants were plucked from 13 struggling,... Read More
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Silk Roads, Night Trains, and the Third Industrial Revolution in China
The U.S. is transfixed by its multibillion-dollar electoral circus. The European Union is paralyzed by austerity, fear of refugees, and now all-out jihad in the streets of Paris. So the West might be excused if it’s barely caught the echoes of a Chinese version of Roy Orbison’s “All I Have to Do Is Dream.” And... Read More
In mid-August, TomDispatch’s Michael Klare wrote presciently of the oncoming global oil glut, the way it was driving the price of petroleum into the “energy subbasement,” and how such a financial “rout,” if extended over the next couple of years, might lead toward a new (and better) world of energy. As it happens, the first... Read More
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The Donald’s Finances and the Art of Ignoring Conflicts and Contradictions
The 2016 election campaign is certainly a billionaire’s playground when it comes to “establishment candidates” like Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush who cater to mega-donors and use their money to try to rally party bases. The only genuine exception to the rule this time around has been Bernie Sanders, who has built a solid grassroots... Read More
Category Classics
Which superpower is more threatened by its “extractive elites”?
The sources of America’s immigration problems—and a possible solution