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Jack Rasmus interviews Alan Benjamin, eyewitness to developing events in France, where workers and students are protesting and striking against government attempts to impose by edict changes in France’s labor code that will allow corporations to fire and lay off workers more easily, undermine unions and collective bargaining, and privatize broad sectors of the French economy. Traveling to France on numerous occasions in recent months, and just returning from a week ago, Benjamin describes the growing opposition in France to the so-called ‘labor market reforms’ imposed by Presidential edict by the Hollande government there. Growing one day, rolling strikes, and spreading student-worker protests across the country are resulting in growing government violence against the protestors. Discussions are intensifying within France’s labor union federations to consider a general strike to get the government to back off of its proposed labor ‘reforms’.  A recent country-wide poll in France shows 78% opposed to the reforms, as the government declares it will not back down.  Jack explains how ‘labor market reform’ in France and Europe today is a reflection of similar changes in jobs occurring globally—including shift to part time, temp, contract work, offshoring and relocation of full time employment to emerging markets, shift to low pay/no benefits service work, and emerging trends like ‘gig’ economy, no pay internships, and privatization of social benefits.

Alan Benjamin is a delegate of the San Francisco Labor Council and member of the OPEIU, who works in Europe and the US.  He is also a member of the US ‘Labor Fightback Network’ of unionists in the US. More information on events in France is available at www.laborfightbacknetwork.org and at www.socialistorganizer.org.

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Jack Rasmus welcomes CWA Local 1400 president and union bargaining committee member, Don Trementozzi, to report the facts about the current Verizon strike, now in its fifth week, by 40,000 CWA union members, from New England to Virginia. Don explains the main issue, and union demand ,to save 20,000 union call center workers’ jobs that Verizon wants to offshore from the US to the Philippines and elsewhere, where the company pays workers only $1.78/hr., despite having made $18.6 billion in profits last year. Violence by replacement-scab workers hired by the company in the US and in the Philippines are described by Trementozzi. Jack notes the recent Pew Study showing incomes of middle class US workers now falling in 203 of 226 regions in the US, and how the ‘triple onslaught’ by companies—job offshoring, creating tens of millions of part time-temp-contract low pay jobs, and now the ‘gig’ economy—has been devastating US jobs and middle class incomes, that have been declining the past six years as companies like Verizon have been distributing $5 trillion in dividends and stock buybacks to their wealthy investors since 2010.  Trementozzi describes the growing support for the strikers throughout the northeast and internationally, in this historic strike to save jobs and call a halt to the ‘triple onslaught’ destroying US middle class incomes.

Guest: Don Trementozzi is president of CWA local 1400 in New England and a member of the union’s regional bargaining committee.  For more information about the strike and negotiations go to www.cwa.org or to www.cwalocal1400.org websites.

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Jack comments on today’s US job creation numbers for April, which show a significant decline in new jobs created, to 160,000, compared to previous months. Some problems with how jobs are calculated are explained, including how new business creations, missing labor force, and the US labor department surveys often fail to account for jobs accurately or timely changes.  Recent wage gains articles in the mainstream press are then challenged as well. Jack explains the differences in wages as a share of national income, total compensation, average hourly earnings, and average hourly wages all have their limits as indications of how American workers are actually doing in terms of take home pay after inflation.  Economic Policy Institute studies show median worker real earnings in the US have been declining every year since 2010. Gains in wages have been skewed to the top 10%, pulling up ‘averages’ which are not an accurate indicator of wage income declines for the US working class.  The show concludes with a review of global economic developments, including growing splits among economic elites in Europe and in Japan, as their economies continue to languish despite QE and negative rates. And how China continues to struggle with bringing its shadow banks and speculators under control.

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Dr. Jack Rasmus dissects the latest report on US economic growth for first quarter 2016, showing a mere 0.5% annual GDP growth rate.  The collapse confirms his prediction of early January 2016, and confirms the US economy remains on a ‘stop-go’ trajectory, having again slipped into a ‘stall speed’ that raises risks of US sliding into recession. Rasmus explains the longer term trends behind the 0.5%, and why the US 0.5% annual growth rate, when compared to the previous quarter, is an even lower 0.1% GDP or less. Averaging over 8+ years, the US economy has grown only 10.1%, or barely 1%, or even less per year after adjustments. Jack explains how the US and other countries have been redefining GDP to help the appearance of growth—including China, India and Europe as well as US.  The more fundamental trends behind 1st quarter US GDP are then reviewed--including business investment, industrial production, exports, consumption, and prices, all of which suggest the US economy nearing the brink of another recession. Why the US economy keeps ‘relapsing’ periodically since 2009 is discussed, as well as the likely impact of the 1st quarter US slowdown on other global economies and markets. (For more information, listeners should read Jack’s recent Telesur media article on US GDP posted on the PRN network website—‘Is the US Economy Heading for Recession?’)

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Jack comments on the recent Wikileaks revelations of secret IMF plans to impose still more austerity on Greece before this summer. Jack revisits his predictions of last summer 2015 that the Greek debt crisis would reappear in 2016 along with the UK exit from the EU and renewed talk of a Greece exit as well—both of which now appear on the agenda. The Troika’s origins of the Greek Debt and why a new kind of financial imperialism is now emerging. Fractures between segments of Europe’s financial-economic elites continue to grow. Jack discusses what’s wrong with US job and GDP numbers, and why China GDP stats are about half of the official GDP rates. Why US central bank, FED, policy of no interest rate hike benefits US multinational companies at the expense of tens of millions of US households and small businesses. Jack concludes with explaining why global oil prices will again fall, China’s mini-stimulus will again fade, and why Japan and Europe will slip further into QE and NIRP (negative interest rates) in coming months.

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Jack Rasmus discusses the strike of 36,000 communication workers that began this week at Verizon Communications and how it reflects the radical destruction by corporations of decent jobs in the US that has been occurring since the 1990s. Jack calculates 52 million of the total 157 million jobs in the US labor force today are some form of ‘contingent’ or so-called ‘alternative work’ arrangements, paying substandard wages and few if any benefits. The Verizon strike represents worker-union efforts to stop corporate conversion of full time regular jobs to ‘contingent,’ outsourced, contract work. Jack discusses a recent Princeton Univ. study that shows temp and independent contract jobs have risen by 9.4 million just since 2005—i.e. more than the total increase in new jobs (9.1m) over the same period. Full time contingent jobs now total 23.6m, according to the Princeton study. Add to that 26 m more in part time contingent employment, plus another 8.2m unemployed and more than 60 million US workers now earn less than full time wages and virtually no benefits. And more if the ‘Uberization’ of work underway is considered.  Median earnings for the 50m barely exceed $30k a year. Jack explains this is at the core of the growing working class discontent in the US that is fueling both the Trump and the Sanders candidacies. Jack speculates on the possibility of a 4-way race for the presidency in this year’s elections. The show concludes with a review of the global economy, including the IMF’s recent lowered forecast, China’s recent GDP stats, and Jack revisiting his prior forecast the US economy would again stagnant and approach zero GDP growth for the first quarter 2016 in stats out in a couple of weeks.

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Jack discusses this past week’s revelations out of Panama of the massive tax sheltering, avoidance and fraud by the US and global economic elites. The economic tax ‘wikileaks’ revelations show global politicians deeply implicated, including Iceland, UK, Argentina prime ministers. Jack refers listeners back to his 2006 ‘War at Home’ book and the ‘Great American Tax Shift’ and writings ever since on this topic, available at his blog, jackrasmus.com and website, www.kyklosproductions.com/articles/html. Where the US, Euro, Russian, China 1% hide their money in 27 global ‘jurisdictions’, estimated conservatively at $11 trillion today. Phone Congress ‘repatriation’ tax proposals of 2005 and 2016 are explained, recent inversion deals, and how and why US corporations hold more than $2T offshore today. In the second half of the show, Jack reviews growing events in Europe, with French workers and students staging massive protests against ‘labor law reforms’, Dutch voters rejecting inclusion of Ukraine into the EU, why odds favor a UK (Brexit) from the Eurozone this June, why a Greek ‘Grexit’ may follow as the IMF threatens to renege on last August’s Greek bailout, and new evidence of a Germany economic slowdown. (For further analysis of Europe, see except of Jack’s chapter 6, ‘Europe’s Chronic Stagnation’, from his 2016 book, ‘Systemic Fragility in the Global Economy’, posted on his kyklosproductions website above).

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Jack Rasmus welcomes Pablo Vivanco, political commentator in Quito, Ecuador to provide a latest update on the right wing economic and political forces in ascendance in South America, focusing on the latest developments in Argentina, Brazil and Venezuela. As the economic crisis deepens throughout the region due to forces beyond the control of progressive governments in the region—i.e. falling oil and commodity prices, collapsing currencies, capital flight, slowing global economy—right wing forces (with assistance of US government and elite) have launched in the past year an intense attack throughout South America to reverse the tide of progressive governments that came to power since 2000. Vivanco describes the strategies and tactics, economic and political, currently being employed by the nascent Right Wing Offensive, including efforts to depose recently duly elected governments in Venezuela and Brazil and the launching of intense austerity measures, shutting down of independent media, mass layoffs, while rewarding of global bankers and investors by the new right wing government of billionaire, Mauricio Macri, in Argentina.  New popular movements of resistance are described by Vivanco, as are efforts of the new right wing forces and governments to stifle independent journalists and media outlets throughout the region.

Pablo Vivanco is currently Director of the English Division of Telesur Media in Latin America, a consortium of progressive Latin American countries. A former radio host of ‘Voces Latinas’, he is a long time activist in movements for progressive change in Latin America, living and working in Quito. For timely reports in English on daily Latin American political events, go to: http://www.telesurtv.net/english/index.html

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Dr. Jack Rasmus explains how his version of a Financial Transaction Tax on stocks, bonds, derivatives, and currencies could raise far more than sufficient revenues to pay for a single payer-national health care program and still leave hundreds of billions to expand social security Medicare and other programs.  In the second half of the show, Rasmus shows how a single payer system would save $1.2 trillion a year out of the current health care cost of $3 trillion today. Based on a tax study done in Europe in 2013, Rasmus shows a US financial tax of 5% on stocks & bond trades, a 1% tax on derivatives sold in the US, and 1% on non-government US currency sales raises $3.89 trillion a year, or about twice the revenues needed for a comparative single payer system.  Rasmus then reviews and debunks the debates by neoliberal economists like Paul Krugman, and Clinton’s ‘gang of four’ economists, who have been attacking Sanders’ proposals for a financial tax and single payer health care. In the first half of the show, reviewing recent events in the global economy Rasmus addresses the fallout from the European Central Bank’s recent decision to expand its quantitative easing and negative interest rate programs and why they will fail; the growing default risk in the US energy junk bond markets; the preliminary agreements by Russia, Saudi Arabia and others to freeze oil prices; China’s continuing desperate moves to deal with the massive bad corporate debt problem; French retreats on introducing labor market reforms in response to mass demonstrations: the doubling in average prescription drug prices in the US: and why millennials (age 25-34) in the US now earn take home pay today in 2016 less than they did in 1984.

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Last month the Bank of Japan (BoJ) expanded its QE program and negative interest rates (NIRP) in a desperate attempt to reboost its stock market and Yen exchange rate. This past week the European Central Bank (ECB)went a step further, as both the ECB and BoJ continue to engage in ‘dueling QEs’ that are intensifying global currency wars and slowing global trade.  ECB chairman, Mario Draghi, lowered the Eurozone’s negative rate on government bonds another notch, now to -0.4%. Reportedly half of all government bonds in Europe now trade at negative rates. In addition, the ECB raised its monthly buying amount from $66 billion to $88 billion, and now will buy corporate bonds as well. The move subsidizes Euro corporations, lowering their costs of borrowing and insurance (CDS) on bonds, a move to offload the $1.5 trillion in corporate non-performing loans in Europe. Jack Rasmus explains why this won’t have any effect on the Eurozone real economy but will temporary boost stocks and currency. Jack also reviews why global oil prices have risen recently to $40 a barrel, Japan’s official return to recession after doctoring GDP numbers last 3Q2015,  China’s latest ‘mini-stimulus’, the US deepening control of Ukraine’s economy, and the significance of the ‘Socialist’ government in France new attack on eliminating the 35 hr. workweek, where 90% of all jobs created in 2015 were part time and temp, and the mass protests now emerging there. Jack concludes with brief introduction to his forthcoming May 2016 book, ‘Looting Greece: The Emergence of a New Imperialism’, and his next book out October 2016 entitled, ‘Central Bankers on the Ropes’, both from Clarity Press. (see his blog, jackrasmus.com and Clarity Press for more information).

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