Can’t afford coffee? No matter. In Bulgaria, an old Italian tradition that sees good souls buying hot drinks for those who struggle to make ends meet has taken hold after weeks of tensions over deepening poverty.
More than 150 cafes across Bulgaria have joined a goodwill initiative modelled on the Italian “caffe sospeso” tradition, which literally means “suspended coffee”, according to a Facebook page devoted to the movement.
The tradition — born in the cafes of Italy’s southern city of Naples — sees people pay in advance for one or several coffees without drinking them.
A Different Kind of Economic “Bubble” by Sheila Kennedy.
Some interesting points Sheila makes in her class, based on the book “The Price of Inequality: How Today’s Divided Society Endangers Our Future” by Joseph Stiglitz on how the 1% rig the economic system to continuously give themselves an advantage:
According to Stiglitz, the vaunted American market is broken. It has been overwhelmed by politically engineered market advantages—special deals that economists call “rent-seeking.” The term refers to politically-achieved “exemptions” from the market that allow certain individuals to reap economic returns above normal market levels– profits derived from favorable political treatment rather than competitive success.
And another point – business and the wealthy shuffle off the cost of their business production onto the commons, making taxpayers bear the cost:
Stiglitz also argues that much of the rent-seeking that plagues our economy takes a more subtle form. In many cases, the production of a product produces what economists call “negative externalities.” These are costs that are incurred during the manufacturing or development process that end up being imposed on society rather than paid for by the producer and included in the price of the goods or services involved. The most commonly cited example would be a manufacturer who discharges his waste into a nearby waterway rather than properly disposing of it, shifting the costs of cleanup and disposal to others. Society pays for the pollution, and that cost is not included in the market price of the manufactured goods.
Sounds like an interesting book and an interesting course.
Barack Obama outlines exactly what he wants to do to fix the economy.
Transcript of the Video:
In the past few weeks, Wall Street’s been rocked as banks closed and markets tumbled. But for many of you — the people I’ve met in town halls, backyards and diners across America — our troubled economy isn’t news. 600,000 Americans have lost their jobs since January. Paychecks are flat and home values are falling. It’s hard to pay for gas and groceries and if you put it on a credit card they’ve probably raised your rates. You’re paying more than ever for health insurance that covers less and less.
This isn’t just a string of bad luck. The truth is that while you’ve been living up to your responsibilities Washington has not. That’s why we need change. Real change.
This is no ordinary time and it shouldn’t be an ordinary election. But much of this campaign has been consumed by petty attacks and distractions that have nothing to do with you or how we get America back on track.
Here’s what I believe we need to do. Reform our tax system to give a $1,000 tax break to the middle class instead of showering more on oil companies and corporations that outsource our jobs. End the “anything goes” culture on Wall Street with real regulation that protects your investments and pensions. Fast track a plan for energy ‘made-in-America’ that will free us from our dependence on mid-east oil in 10 years and put millions of Americans to work. Crack down on lobbyists — once and for all — so their back-room deal-making no longer drowns out the voices of the middle class and undermines our common interests as Americans. And yes, bring a responsible end to the war in Iraq so we stop spending billions each month rebuilding their country when we should be rebuilding ours.
Doing these things won’t be easy. But we’re Americans. We’ve met tough challenges before. And we can again.
I’m Barack Obama. I hope you’ll read my economic plan. I approved this message because bitter, partisan fights and outworn ideas of the Left and the Right won’t solve the problems we face today. But a new spirit of unity and shared responsibility will.
John McCain – speaking THIS MORNING on today’s financial markets meltdown:
“You know that there’s been tremendous turmoil in our financial markets and Wall St. And it is — people are frightened by these events. Our economy, I think still — the fundamentals of our economy are strong. But these are very, very difficult times.”
And for counterpoint:
“The man most responsible for the financial services and banking deregulation that made today possible, fmr. Sen. Phil Gramm, is the man John McCain wants to put in charge of the whole economy.” — Josh Marshall
WASHINGTON (AP) — The nation’s unemployment rate bolted above the psychologically important 6 percent level last month for the first time in five years — and it’s likely to go even higher in the months ahead, possibly throwing the economy into a tailspin as Americans pick a new president.
A blizzard of pink slips propelled the jobless rate from 5.7 percent in July to 6.1 percent in August, the Labor Department reported Friday. Such a sharp increase is usually a strong recession warning, and it dashed investors’ hopes for a late-year recovery.
Worried about the economy and their own business prospects, employers cut payrolls by 84,000 in August, marking the eighth straight month of losses.
So far this year, a staggering 605,000 jobs have vanished — slightly less than the population of Alaska. The economy needs to generate more than 100,000 new jobs a month for employment to remain stable.
Richard Yamarone, economist at Argus Research, feared that the jobless rate would cause consumers and businesses to “move from a moderately concerned stage to outright fear” and reduce their spending even more.
A toxic trio of housing, credit and financial problems has badly shaken the economy, and the crisis shows no signs of letting up. It’s the public’s top worry, and many experts believe the situation will get worse before it gets better.
I don’t know if you’ve read ever read much of The Economist, but it’s not a liberal magazine. To say the least. Which makes this article on the Bush economy really interesting reading to me.
More sober analysts are also worried. In their most recent poll, members of the National Association of Business Economists described the federal deficit as the biggest problem facing America’s economy. A bipartisan coalition of three economic think-tanks–the Committee for Economic Development, the Concord Coalition and the Centre on Budget and Policy Priorities–recently declared that, without a change in course, the next decade might be the “most fiscally irresponsible” in the country’s history.”