Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Obviously, this is WAAAY bigger than Chinese-Russian agreements. Japan's economy is huge and powerful (what, number 3 in the world, I think), and they used to be considered a staunch American ally.
Effects of Dollar Replacement
When the USD is no longer used as a reserve trade currency:
--all those "international dollars" will come back to the U.S. shores, unleashing a wicked huge inflation.
-- Additionally, foreign manufacturers will no longer need to dump goods on the US market to earn trade dollars, meaning things will no longer be sold here as cheaply (even ignoring the effects of the inflation).
--Finally, the US will have to balance its budget(s), since foreigners will no longer need to recycle their trade dollars by purchasing bonds
Needless to say, it is difficult to calculate the effects on the US economy if we have to balance our trade account and balance our federal budget. Then throw in the difficulties of fighting a huge currency inflation, and paying off a huge debt.... yikes
Initiating a currency devaluation seems like a good solution, but don't count on our moneyed powers to do that. As always, Jubilee remains the best solution, but the Debt Masters would rather stay on top, even if that means riding everyone else into the ground...
Monday, November 28, 2011
The one-sidedness of the news articles on real estate topics is disturbing. The publicity given the so-called real estate crisis is the biggest example of this media bias. In reality, of course, a decrease in housing costs is anything but a "crisis", it is a blessing for the people and the economy!
The only ones who benefit from high land prices are members of the original Rentier class, the economic parasites known as land owners, as well as all of their parasitic cronies, including especially the used-house salesmen (who euphemistically refer to themselves as real estate agents).
Low land prices, and fewer restrictions on land use, are the basic planks of a sensible land policy that benefits society as a whole.
The Reformed Capitalist policy regarding land is three-fold:
-- eliminate financing of land purchases,
-- eliminate absentee ownership of land, and
-- eliminate arbitrary land-use restrictions (especially separating commercial and residential activities)
The end-goal of these policies is to create greater prosperity and freedom for all, by eliminating the economic parasitism surrounding land ownership and control.
Monday, November 14, 2011
Worker-owned businesses are the wave of the future, because by eliminating parasites from the business process (the "passive owners"), businesses can operate at lower costs. Operating at a lower cost is the bottom line in the survival of the fittest economic world, and thus, over time, worker-owned businesses will outperform and eliminate the parasitic passive-investor businesses. In their own words:
"By signing up to The lawful Bank you will (in due course) avail yourself of the benefits of membership of this unique monetary and banking system, the essence of which is to distribute to the people the grotesque profits being skimmed by greedy bankers from the nation’s economy. "
"There are no investors to satisfy and no high flying executives on million pound/dollar salaries or city slickers on astronomical bonuses. Our system plays no part in casino banking. TAMS is both safe and cost effective and serves the interest of the sovereign aspirations of individuals."
"TAMS is a mirror image of the existing monetary system – it is tried and tested... but with a crucial difference in that there is an entirely different approach as to where the profits are delivered. In the existing system, the profits go to investors, and the people running the bank - with our system the profits are distributed to our members."
One of the fascinating innovations of the Lawful Bank is the way it leverages the power of fractional reserve banking for the INDIVIDUAL:
"A positive credit system – for every £1 of cash deposited, each member creates £10 credit in their account. This credit (created by the system) on the back of the cash deposited is the property of the member and thus not a debt to the member. This will provided streams of credit to the system – and not debt."
Check out the Lawful Bank webpage at http://lawfulbank.com/HomePage
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
The biggest problem with Salon's proposal is the way it gets sidetracked with a Leftist cultural agenda, especially its calls for "Takle Climate Change", "End the Drug War" and "Full Equality for the Queer Community".
In order for massive and structural systemic change to progress, a broad-base coalition will need to be built, based on the principles of economic Populism. Populists can form a majority coalition against the elite, IF they leave "cultural" issues off the table.
Throwing in "Leftist" cultural issues that have nothing to do with economic reform are only going to ALIENATE conservative Populists, and keep the movement from growing.
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
It is amusing to read him quote the CEO of Goldman Sachs, Lloyd Blankfein, claiming they are doing "God's work" by putting everyone in debt: “We help companies to grow by helping them to raise capital. Companies that grow create wealth. This, in turn, allows people to have jobs that create more growth and more wealth. It’s a virtuous cycle.”
The truth about the "virtuous cycle"
In fact, bank lending has nothing to do with a virtuous cycle. The expansion of credit into any market drives up prices. The banks, which enable this spike in prices, then profit even more by skimming their parasitic profit off the top of the credit-inflated transaction, making it even more expensive.
The healthiest, most affordable, and least distorted markets are those which are devoid of credit, as they are immune to speculation and "investment bubbles". There are far better ways to coordinate capital creation and accumulation than investment banking.
An excellent read, quoting Sheridan:
National debt is a cancer. It starts out small and then multiplies. Eventually, it reaches a point where it can’t be ignored, spreading itself through every layer of the economy until it threatens the life of its host.
In light of the similarities between then and now, some prominent names are beginning to warn that the only cure for our troubling situation is some form of massive debt relief, or Jubilee—a biblical commandment given to Israel to wipe away all debt every 50 years and start with a clean slate.
Unfortunately, what most people seem to miss, is that the original notion of a Jubilee was never intended to be applied after society has been enslaved by debt. It was meant to prevent such a scenario from ever occurring in the first place. Regardless, whether a society chooses to voluntarily rebalance its scales or not, eventually the invisible hand of the market will step in and balance them for us. Perhaps politicians should be wary of that point and take the necessary steps while certain options still exist. Let's not forget, there is already rioting in the streets.
Monday, October 31, 2011
Who could be against Freedom, right? However…. The question I am addressing is the “rules” that underlie our “free” system.
First of all, we can dispense with the intellectual fiction of “government vs free market”. The so-called “free market” is entirely dependent upon the laws that are created and enforced by government. The government establishes the rules of the economic game, that is just a fact. The only question is, “What rules shall we have?”
Complaints about “government intervention” are nothing more than the attempt to avoid rule changes by those who are advantaged by the current rules. If you are ideologically opposed to “market intervention”, because of some philosophy (such as Libertarianism, say), then you are simply brainwashed. [The definition of brainwashed is being taught to willingly support a political position that is contrary to your own self-interests.]
The crucial question of Ownership & Private Property
One of the key flaws of the current capitalist laws is the way profits are channeled to legal “ownership groups”. Absentee owners provide the clearest demonstration of this principle, as people who have literally nothing whatsoever to do with the economic process nonetheless receive the lion-share of the profits.
Clearly, there is no “natural law” basis for absentee ownership. In the natural world, such relationships are known simply as parasitism. Legally, they are a vestige of the conquest and exploitation of the feudal system, in which armed conquerors took legal possession of the land, informing its inhabitants that could “share the wealth” or be put to death.
A key feature of Reformed Capitalism is declaring null and void any practice of “absentee ownership”. You are either directly and intimately involved in the productive process, or you are not, and if you are not, you have no right to share in its profits. “Passive investment” is a legally-sanctioned oxymoron, and it should be done away with.
[Obviously, doing away with all manner of passive investment schemes will introduce large changes in the way business is done. Many people will wonder if business can be conducted at all under those conditions. This is a natural reaction people have when they face the unknown, when the rules of the game have changed. I will address these very real question in a subsequent essay, limiting my concern here with first principles only.]
The essential communality of Profit
In our current system, “ownership” implies both “control” and “reward”. The reason why the system I am detailing is called Reformed Capitalism, not going by some other or new name for an alternative economic system, is that the essential coupling of “private ownership” and “control” of Capitalism is still being maintained.
However, one of the central reforms of Reformed Capitalism is in redefining the scope of “reward” that accompanies “ownership”. Specifically, in recognition that all profit is essentially communal, Reformed Capitalism rejects the idea of “unlimited reward” for private ownership. Rather, private ownership conveys the privilege of limited reward.
The essential communality of profit is a recognition that all profit is built upon our common heritage of natural resources as well as the combined efforts of masses of people throughout time. It is a recognition that no one creates profits on their own, but depends upon hosts of others who are also doing their part.
This host of contributors includes not just the hired workers in that specific business, but all their suppliers and partners, including the people who make the computers, desks, pencils, airplanes, cars, phone lines, roads, etc that make economic activity possible, PLUS the police, teachers, firemen, judges, engineers, social workers, technicians, hospital staff, soldiers, nurses, etc that keep the social order running smoothly, not to mention all the people in the past who “tamed the land” through their hard work and dedication and who built up the capital base upon which all of our economic efforts are made.
In short, because of the fact that all profit is social and communal, no individuals will be allowed to monopolize profits under the legal fiction of ownership. Profits will be shared, by law, first with the workers in the specific business, secondarily with society as a whole. Extremes of individual profit-taking will be legally eliminated. This aspect of economic reform is not actually that radical, being partially implemented by a progressive income tax, although the scope and power of such taxation would be increased, especially to focus on parasitic economic activities such as financial trading and banking.
Friday, October 7, 2011
Even the IMF, hardly known as a champion of aggressive government intervention, said in its latest world economic outlook that Washington should try to find ways of writing down the value of some of these overblown loans.
"The large number of 'underwater' mortgages poses a risk for a downward spiral of falling house prices and distress sales that further undermines consumption and labour mobility," it warned,
Each of these [proposals to write down debt] would be controversial, and they carry a risk of "moral hazard": the fear that reckless borrowers will in future feel they can take on eye-watering loans and assume the state will bail them out. But the alternative may be years of stagnation.
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Telling action in bank stocks says the limits of helping Wall Street may have even run out.
Many point to excess reserves as a sign of future inflation. I point to excess reserves as a sign of failed Fed policy. Commentary from Austrian economists shows they fail to understand how credit even works.
The idea those excess reserves are going to pour into the economy in a 10-1 leveraged fashion is simply wrong. Banks do not lend when they have excess reserves. Banks lend when they have credit-worthy borrowers, provided they are not capital impaired.
It is time Austrian economists finally wake up to this simple economic truth.
- The Monetarist currency cranks want more monetary stimulus even though it is counterproductive
- The Keynesian clowns simply will not admit end-game constraints
- The Austrians for the most part either ignore credit or incorporate failed models of credit expansion into their theories.
Each camp points the finger at the others as to why the others are wrong. Ironically, none of the camps seems to understand the combined mechanics of debt-deflation, deleveraging, and attitudes.
Monday, September 26, 2011
Although the Keynesian and Monetarist economists have missed the boat on what is happening and why, Austrian minded folks who fail to understand the importance of credit and how little the Fed can do to revive it have blown the call as well.....Focus on Money Supply Alone is Fatally Flawed
Deflation is about credit, it is also about attitudes that govern the demand for credit.
As I have stated many times over the years, and as stated above in the Contrary Investor, there is nothing the Fed can do to force businesses to expand or banks to lend.
That point explains why Austrian economists who focus on money supply alone have failed and will continue to fail.
Until consumer demand returns, businesses would be foolish to expand. Unfortunately, the Fed's misguided easing policies have stimulated commodity speculation thereby increasing manufacturing costs, while simultaneously clobbering those on fixed income and reducing final consumer demand. http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com/2011/09/bernankes-waterloo-midst-of.html
Monday, September 12, 2011
We have tens of millions who cannot repay their debts. But they are all trying to. That sucks huge amounts of money out of the economy. And that means these people cannot function properly as consumers or workers. That's the reason people aren't coming into your restaurant. It's the reason people aren't taking your yoga class. It's the reason they haven't hired you to redo the kitchen.
And so tens or hundreds of millions of perfectly responsible business owners and employees are also suffering from this slump. That's the reason we have a shortage of demand. That's the reason no one is hiring.
Even worse: People who are underwater on their mortgage, but who do not want to default, cannot move to where the jobs are either. They are stuck with their home.
You want to break this logjam? Try Chapter 11 for the nation. Massive defaults. Clear the decks, clean the books.
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
The global economy is at a crossroad that demands a decision - whom will our leaders defend? One choice is to defend bondholders - existing owners of mismanaged banks, unserviceable peripheral European debt, and lenders who misallocated capital by reaching for yield and fees by making mortgage loans to anyone with a pulse. Defending bondholders will require forced austerity in government spending of already depressed economies, continued monetary distortions, and the use of public funds to recapitalize poor stewards of capital. It will do nothing for job creation, foreclosure reduction, or economic recovery.
The alternative is to defend the public by focusing on the reduction of unserviceable debt burdens by restructuring mortgages and peripheral sovereign debt, recognizing that most financial institutions have more than enough shareholder capital and debt to their own bondholders to absorb losses without hurting customers or counterparties - but also recognizing that properly restructuring debt will wipe out many existing holders of mismanaged financials and will require a transfer of ownership and recapitalization by better stewards. That alternative also requires fiscal policy that couples the willingness to accept larger deficits in the near term with significant changes in the trajectory of long-term spending.
Friday, September 2, 2011
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
The most debated programs are the H-1B, H-2B, L-1, OPT, J-1, and B-1 visas, under which a U.S. company can employ a foreign worker for up to six years. Each visa designation addresses a different need, with the H-2B visa allowing a company to bring in a foreign worker who lacks the qualification for a specific job but can be trained within a reasonable time.
During good economic times these programs helped people come to the Unites States, but over the years, and especially during the recent economic downturn, these programs stop Americans from getting jobs because they are lost to foreign workers that entered the country on the above foreign worker programs, according to a 2011 report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).
The 2011 GAO report suggested that lax oversight and statutory changes are undermining the original intent and value of the foreign guest worker program. Besides, it has become easy to perpetrate fraud.
"A recent Department of Homeland Security study reported that 21 percent of the H-1B petitions they examined involved fraud or technical violations," said the GAO report.
Over the past years, the programs have been watered down significantly and it gives an unintended competitive advantage to companies that outsource well-paying and high-tech jobs to foreign shores.
"For at least the past five years the employers receiving the most H-1B and L-1 visas are using them to offshore tens of thousands of high-wage, high-skilled American jobs," testified Hira.
Monday, August 29, 2011
Rogoff understands this objection, and doesn't dispute that what he's proposing is on some level unfair. But ultimately, he argues, this contraction is dragging us all down together, and even those lenders and savers will be better off if America's debt overhang is taken care of swiftly. Once that happens, and the economy starts to recover properly, we'll be able to focus on designing better policies that will make us less vulnerable to financial crisis in the future. "One way or another," said Rogoff, "we're going to be doing things we would not dream we would ever do before this is over."
Now the irony of Rogoff's statement is that he really isn't proposing anything "we would not dream we would ever do". After all, cranking up a little bit of inflation is hardly world-shaking. The Jubilee solution is a true example of something that most people have never dreamed.
The Jubilee Solution
The Jubilee solution is radical in the sense of "creative" and "out-of-the-box", but it actually avoids most of the objections he is facing.
--For example, the Jubilee solution does not defraud any creditors or violate any contracts. In fact, it is based on the idea of honoring all of them and paying them off.
--Nor would the Jubilee solution cause any inflation, as raising reserve ratios would soak up the potential extra liquidity, trapping it within the banking system.
Again quoting from the Boston.com article, we see that Rogoff shares the same analysis as myself (and other fringe economists like Steve Keen) of our current economic problem:
It's an argument that Rogoff himself admits is "radical," and one he says he'd rather not be making. But as he sees it, what's holding the country back from recovery is not just a lack of consumer confidence or suppressed demand, as in a normal recession, but an immense overhang of debt: thanks to the collapse of the real-estate bubble, millions of American families owe so much to banks that they're focusing all their energy on paying down their debts instead of spending their money on new investments. There will be no recovery until the painful process of working through that debt is behind us, Rogoff argues.
Jubilee Solution Summarized
Federal government issues electronic checks to pay off all debt. Simulaneously raising banking reserve requirements by a proportionate amount to soak up the money.
Viola. All debts paid, economy reset and primed to soar again.
It is really that simple.
The only thing lacking is general knowledge of the plan and the political will.
[The people in charge of the gov't now, who are the rentier/creditor class, don't care at all about anything but personal enrichment, which the current debt deflation is accomplishing marvelously by liquidating the assets of the masses into the hands of the creditors and cash-holders, i.e. themselves.]
Dell accepted the proposal (to outsource circuit boards) because from a perspective of making money, it made sense: Dell’s revenues were unaffected and its profits improved significantly. On successive occasions, ASUSTeK came back and took over the motherboard, the assembly of the computer, the management of the supply chain and the design of the computer. In each case Dell accepted the proposal because from a perspective of making money, it made sense: Dell’s revenues were unaffected and its profits improved significantly. However, the next time ASUSTeK came back, it wasn’t to talk to Dell. It was to talk to Best Buy and other retailers to tell them that they could offer them their own brand or any brand PC for 20% lower cost. As The Innovator’s Prescription concludes:
Bingo. One company gone, another has taken its place. There’s no stupidity in the story. The managers in both companies did exactly what business school professors and the best management consultants would tell them to do—improve profitability by focus on on those activities that are profitable and by getting out of activities that are less profitable.
Monday, August 22, 2011
Friday, August 19, 2011
Thursday, August 18, 2011
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
Thursday, July 21, 2011
The debt ceiling debate is providing plenty of opportunity for political theater in Washington. Proponents of raising the debt ceiling are throwing around the usual scare tactics and misinformation in order to intimidate opponents into accepting more debt and taxes. It is important to distinguish the truth from the propaganda.
First of all, politicians need to understand that without real change default is inevitable. In fact, default happens every day through monetary policy tricks. Every time the Federal Reserve engages in more quantitative easing and devalues the dollar, it is defaulting on the American people by eroding their purchasing power and inflating their savings away. The dollar has lost nearly 50% of its value against gold since 2008. The Fed claims inflation is 2% or less over the past few years; however economists who compile alternate data show a 9% inflation rate if calculated more traditionally. Alarmingly, the administration is talking about changing the methodology of the CPI calculation yet again to hide the damage of the government's policies. Changing the CPI will also enable the government to avoid giving seniors a COLA (cost of living adjustment) on their social security checks, and raise taxes via the hidden means of "bracket creep." This is a default. Just because it is a default on the people and not the banks and foreign holders of our debt does not mean it doesn't count.
Politicians also need to acknowledge that our debt is unsustainable. For decades our government has been spending and promising far more than it collects in taxes. But the problem is not that the people are not taxed enough. The government has managed to run up $61.6 trillion in unfunded liabilities, which works out to $528,000 per household. A tax policy that would aim to extract even half that amount of money from American families would be unimaginably draconian, and not unlike attempting to squeeze blood from a turnip. This is, unequivocally, a spending problem brought about by a dramatically inflated view of the proper role of government in a free society.
Perhaps the most abhorrent bit of chicanery has been the threat that if a deal is not reached to increase the debt by August 2nd, social security checks may not go out. In reality, the Chief Actuary of Social Security confirmed last week that current Social Security tax receipts are more than enough to cover current outlays. The only reason those checks would not go out would be if the administration decided to spend those designated funds elsewhere. It is very telling that the administration would rather frighten seniors dependent on social security checks than alarm their big banking friends, who have already received $5.3 trillion in bailouts, stimulus and quantitative easing. This instance of trying to blackmail Congress into tax increases by threatening social security demonstrates how scary it is to be completely dependent on government promises and why many young people today would jump at the chance to opt out of Social Security altogether.
We are headed for rough economic times either way, but the longer we put it off, the greater the pain will be when the system implodes. We need to stop adding more programs and entitlements to the problem. We need to stop expensive bombing campaigns against people on the other side of the globe and bring our troops home. We need to stop allowing secretive banking cartels to endlessly enslave us through monetary policy trickery. And we need to drastically rethink government's role in our lives so we can get it out of the way and get back to work.
source article http://www.thedailybell.com/2699/Ron-Paul-Debt-Ceiling-Drama
Monday, June 27, 2011
Russia and China will switch to trade in rubles and yuan to boost bilateral trade and economic cooperation, following an agreement signed between the central banks of both countries, Russian Central Bank Deputy Chairman Viktor Melnikov said on Thursday.
People's Bank of China Deputy Chairman Ma Delun said the agreement would give the two nations the opportunity to increase the value of deals in their national currencies and "help bring them closer to international reserve currencies."
Monday, June 20, 2011
Many analysts see China's pile of local government bad debt as a major risk to the economy, especially as growth slows.
But few see a widespread banking fallout as they believe cash-rich Beijing can step in to soak up losses. Still, the scale of the plan is much bigger than a government move in 1999 to clear debt from the books of large state-owned banks.
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Friday, June 10, 2011
Friday, May 6, 2011
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
"The problem starts with Ben Bernanke, no matter how many of his Fed presidents claim they are not to blame for the high price of oil. The fact is that when you flood the market with far too much liquidity at virtually no interest, funny things happen in commodities and equities. It was true in the 1920s, it was true in the last decade, and it's still true today."
In the end, it comes down to creating big profits for banks at the expense of the American citizens, because banks need the profits to pay off the bailout loans that the fedgov gave them:
"Ben Bernanke doesn't seem to understand that while he is allowing huge profits for banks and investment firms so they can recover massive losses from the financial meltdown, he is intentionally damaging what could be a much stronger recovery with the misery he's causing the average American consumer. Maybe he does understand and just doesn't care. There's always China to blame."
[read the whole of Wallace's article here: http://www.businessweek.com/investor/content/apr2011/pi20110419_786652.htm]
The Law of Supply and Demand Drives Futures Markets Too
The President characterizes the futures contracts as "bets", which is the standard interpretation and justification for these things. The problem is, the financial elite don't "bet on the market", in the same way that a small dealer is betting when he takes out a futures contract.
Rather, the financial elite are driving the market, because of the tremendous amount of money they can bring to bear. When they issue a buy order, the money flows in. The greater money inflow drives up prices.
When you have the billions in free money, you can move the market like that. It is like a money-making machine. When they issue the sell order, the prices will automatically fall, because they represent such a huge market stake.
An organized movement to rein in the madness can be found here:
Stop Oil Speculation Now http://www.stopoilspeculationnow.com/home.aspx
Obviously, financiers should not be allowed to speculate in markets like this. It should be made illegal, no exceptions, with harsh penalties for those who attempt to profit like parasites on people's need for basic commodities like food and energy. Only people with legitimate economic interests in a market, i.e. the producers, retailers, and consumers, should be allowed to purchase futures contracts to hedge their financial positions.
***The oil minster of Saudi Arabia, for example, points to the large surplus in oil production and stockpiles:
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Thursday, March 31, 2011
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Instead of the collective support mechanism set up last year that could be made permanent in a modified form from 2013, the economists argued it would be better to let countries restructure their debts.
"Restructuring allows the countries concerned to reduce their debt and start over," said the economists.
Monday, February 28, 2011
Price movements are no longer determined only by the basic driving forces of supply and demand: agricultural commodities are attracting excess liquidity in international markets and other factors, far less transparent and constantly changing, such as expectations and appetite for risk, start to play an important role in determining the direction of the prices.
Furthermore, food markets are more and more intertwined with financial and energy markets, both of which are characterized by greater volatility. Facing these multiple sources of uncertainty, agricultural commodity markets tend to overreact to any changes in the demand or supply projections, as it happened in mid-2010 in the case of wheat.
Although the world produces enough food, global production needs to be gradually increased to keep pace with the growing population. Chronic underinvestment in agriculture throughout the years, in developing countries in particular, made them more vulnerable to risks associated with the new dynamics that rule the world market. Investment in agriculture, which would allow to increase productivity and improve resilience to climatic risks, together with strengthening of rural institutions and better governance of commodity markets, are needed to reduce the incidence of price spikes.
MOSCOW (Reuters) – The world's biggest carmakers have until the end of Monday to sign up for Russia's latest scheme to entice major players and strengthen its local industry ahead of any future crisis.
Russia was on the verge of overtaking Germany to become Europe's biggest car market before the country's 2009 recession caused annual sales to collapse by half.
A sharp recovery in 2010 -- aided by a government sponsored scrappage scheme -- has revived industry optimism about future Russian growth and prompted state attempts to pin down foreign players to invest and support the domestic industry.
Friday, February 11, 2011
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
The erosion of the American middle class is of little concern for one simple reason: it no longer matters much on the global stage. All that Global Corporate America needs from America is a stable foundation that won't offer up any surprises or spots of bother.
The concern for domestic jobs is mere political expediency. U.S. corporations are pulling $500 billion in profits from non-U.S. sales, and they hold $1 trillion in stashed overseas profits in various tax havens. All the growth in their revenues and profits are coming from non-U.S. sources. Spending $3-$5 billion on lobbying and campaign contributions is an "investment" with extremely high returns: for that small sum, U.S.-based global corporations make sure the U.S. government and citizenry don't become overly burdensome or obstructive.