John Rainford

Germany's Deutsche Bank bail out shows kid gloves for corporate thieves

In 1870, six months before a retreating French army was defeated by Prussian troops at Sedan, the Deutsche Bank was established in Berlin.

Although Britain was still the pre-eminent world economic power, the US and Germany were starting to take the giant strides that would soon enough see them leave the former “workshop of the world” in their wake.

Graduates rack up huge debts to go on the dole

When Gough Whitlam’s Labor government abolished university fees in January 1974, student enrolments had already been increasing at double the population growth for two decades.

In 1985, three years before Bob Hawke’s Labor government abolished free tertiary education and brought in the Higher Education Contribution Scheme (HECS), it had decided to develop the full-fee international marketing of education as an export industry.

Why raising the GST to fund health would make the poor less healthy

The neoliberal agenda for the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting in Sydney on July 23 was set by NSW Premier Mike Baird, who proposed increasing the GST from its present 10% to 15%.

Baird wants the extra funds to be primarily used to fund health services, which account for almost 30% of state budgets, including spending on hospitals of about 20%. What he neglected to say was that under his mate Tony Abbott’s federal government, spending has been drastically reduced on health along with education. The total reduction across both areas is about $80 billion.

NTEU: Make casual university workers permanent

Casuals now make up about half of the academic workforce in Australia’s universities. For most of them it is precarious work at its worst.

Those lucky enough to get two 13-week sessional contracts a year are unemployed academics for the other half of the year, forced to then compete with a growing precariat for temporary employment elsewhere while still at the call of their part-time employer. And the 13 weeks are not necessarily standard 35-hour weeks, they can be for as little as one hour a week.

Bill Shorten faces unions Royal Commission

From his late teens, Bill Shorten would tell anyone who listened that his ambition was to be Labor prime minister, following in the footsteps of his heroes Bob Hawke and Paul Keating. But first of all he had to find a faction because, in the Labor Party, it is the factions who have the power to select MPs, premiers and prime ministers.

China's stock market crash: Heading for a great leap backwards?

Australia managed its way through the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) in better shape than most countries, mostly due to two factors.

The first was $83 billion in Australian government stimulus spending, the third largest in the world as a percentage of GDP, behind the US and South Korea.

The second was resilient demand for iron ore and coal exports to China which came from an initial US$4 trillion in Chinese stimulus spending organised through the country’s banks.

'But the banks are made of marble' — how banks screw the world

Across Africa, western Asia and Latin America in the 1980s, the growth of per capita GDP was brought to a halt. This was not a recession, it was a severe depression. And its cause was reckless lending by banks in the ’70s.

A decade earlier, the euro currency had been invented. US dollars deposited in non-US banks and held there to avoid restrictions of US laws became negotiable financial instruments. These formed the basis for an unregulated market specialising in short-term loans.

Corporate crime financially worthwhile

Institutional corruption and lack of governance are serious issues requiring forensic and transparent public examination both in Australia and throughout the rich world.

The global economy has been stagnant since 2008, thanks to unregulated financial derivative markets estimated at the time at one quadrillion (one million billion) US dollars. Betting on interest rates and foreign exchange rates accounted for more than half of this amount.

Manufacturing industry – what policy?

More than a decade ago, BHP Billiton demerged its steelmaking facilities from its then highly profitable minerals and energy division.

The two steel plants in Port Kembla and Whyalla, which were formerly part of an integrated company that produced the iron ore and the coking coal for steelmaking, became stand-alone steelmakers at a time when China became a serious competitive threat.

Its Port Kembla and Whyalla operations were also separated from each other, becoming BlueScope in Port Kembla and One Steel (now Arrium) in Whyalla.

Bill Shorten forced to front Commission

Opposition leader Bill Shorten’s persistent response to media questions about allegations raised in the unions’ Royal Commission concerning his former union, the Australian Workers Union (AWU), has been to refuse to provide a “running commentary”.

After being requested by the commission to appear before it last week, he is now reported as saying: “I welcome the opportunity to talk about my 21-year record of standing up for workers”.

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