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Information for accountants and accounting companies: " Inequality in U.S. should be addressed"

By Hiroko Kono / Yomiuri Shimbun Senior Writer


The focus of the U.S. presidential campaign is on the economy, especially on how to tackle widening inequality in the United States. How does Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel laureate and professor at Columbia University, look at the situation? The Yomiuri Shimbun recently sat down with Stiglitz, who was visiting Tokyo, and asked his views.

The Yomiuri Shimbun: To what extent is the rapidly rising inequality in the United States playing a role in the U.S. presidential election?

Joseph Stiglitz: A very, very important role. And it’s not only the rising inequality; it is the fact that particular groups in the population are having a very difficult time. People who don’t have a university degree are having—and men are having a more difficult time than women; women’s incomes are going up faster than men’s. Of course there was a lot of inequality, so some of this is rectifying inequality, but the fact is that it’s been very hard for groups in American society, and that’s showing up in the anger that you see in Trump supporters. There is a destructive kind of anger.

On the Democratic side it’s more reasoned; people are trying to figure out the solutions.

There are three things causing the anger; the high level of inequality and the fact that they think it’s unfair. If someone is richer because they worked harder, that’s one thing. But if they stole money from me or they got their money unfairly, and the view is the bankers made their money at the expense of everybody else in our society. They did very bad things, like fraud, and nobody was held accountable. So the inequality, the unfairness of it, and finally the lack of trust because people promised that they would change things in ways that would be fair hasn’t happened. So there is a lack of trust in some of our basic institutions.

Read more: Information for accountants and accounting companies: " Inequality in U.S. should be addressed"

Information for accountants and accounting companies: "Why I’m Supporting Bernie Sanders"

NO decision we make as Americans more dramatically affects the direction of our country than our choice for president. He or she is more than the manager of the executive branch, commander in chief or appointer of judges. The president reflects, but also helps define, our national values, priorities and direction.

After considering the biggest challenges facing our nation and the future I want for my children and our country, I have decided to become the first member of the Senate to support my colleague Bernie Sanders for president.

I grew up in working-class Oregon. On a single income, my parents could buy a home, take a vacation and help pay for college. My father worked with his hands as a millwright and built a middle-class life for us.

My parents believed in education and they believed in the United States. When I was young, my father took me to the grade school and told me that if I went through those doors, and worked hard, I could do just about anything because we lived in America. My dad was right.

Years later, my family and I still live in the same working-class community I grew up in. But America has gone off track, and the outlook for the kids growing up there is a lot gloomier today than 40 years ago.

Read more: Information for accountants and accounting companies: "Why I’m Supporting Bernie Sanders"

Information for accountants and accounting companies: "Bono: Time to Think Bigger About the Refugee Crisis"

I’VE recently returned from the Middle East and East Africa, where I visited a number of refugee camps — car parks of humanity. I went as an activist and as a European. Because Europeans have come to realize — quite painfully in the past year or two — that the mass exodus from collapsed countries like Syria is not just a Middle Eastern or African problem, it’s a European problem. It’s an American one, too. It affects us all.

My countryman Peter Sutherland, a senior United Nations official for international migration, has made clear that we’re living through the worst crisis of forced displacement since World War II. In 2010, some 10,000 people worldwide fled their homes every day, on average. Which sounds like a lot — until you consider that four years later, that number had quadrupled. And when people are driven out of their homes by violence, poverty and instability, they take themselves and their despair elsewhere. And “elsewhere” can be anywhere.

But with their despair some of them also have hope. It seems insane or naïve to speak of hope in this context, and I may be both of these things. But in most of the places where refugees live, hope has not left the building: hope to go home someday, hope to find work and a better life. I left Kenya, Jordan and Turkey feeling a little hopeful myself. For as hard as it is to truly imagine what life as a refugee is like, we have a chance to reimagine that reality — and reinvent our relationship with the people and countries consumed now by conflict, or hosting those who have fled it.

Read more: Information for accountants and accounting companies: "Bono: Time to Think Bigger About the...

Information for accountants and accounting companies: "Learning From Obama"

Like many political junkies, I’ve been spending far too much time looking at polls and trying to understand their implications. Can Donald Trump really win his party’s nomination? (Yes.) Can Bernie Sanders? (No.) But the primaries aren’t the only things being polled; we’re still getting updates on President Obama’s overall approval. And something striking has happened on that front.

At the end of 2015 Mr. Obama was still underwater, with significantly more Americans disapproving than approving. Since then, however, his approval has risen sharply while disapproval has plunged. He’s still only in modestly positive territory, but the net movement in polling averages has been about 11 percentage points, which is a lot.

What’s going on?

Well, one answer is that voters have lately been given a taste of what really bad leaders look like. But I’d like to think that the public is also starting to realize just how successful the Obama administration has been in addressing America’s problems. And there are lessons from that success for those willing to learn.

I know that it’s hard for many people on both sides to wrap their minds around the notion of Obama-as-success. On the left, those caught up in the enthusiasms of 2008 feel let down by the prosaic reality of governing in a deeply polarized political system. Meanwhile, conservative ideology predicts disaster from any attempt to tax the rich, help the less fortunate and rein in the excesses of the market; and what are you going to believe, the ideology or your own lying eyes?

But the successes are there for all to see.

Read more: Information for accountants and accounting companies: "Learning From Obama"

Information for accountants and accounting companies: "How Hedge Funds Held Argentina for Ransom"

PERHAPS the most complex trial in history between a sovereign nation, Argentina, and its bondholders — including a group of United States-based hedge funds — officially came to an end yesterday when the Argentine Senate ratified a settlement.

The resolution was excellent news for a small group of well-connected investors, and terrible news for the rest of the world, especially countries that face their own debt crises in the future.

In late 2001, Argentina defaulted on $132 billion in loans during its disastrous depression. Gross domestic product dropped by 28 percent, 57.5 percent of Argentines were living in poverty, and the unemployment rate skyrocketed to above 20 percent, leading to riots and clashes that resulted in 39 deaths.

Unable to pay its creditors, Argentina restructured its debt in two rounds of negotiations. The package discounted the bonds by two-thirds but provided a mechanism for more payments when the country’s economy recovered, which it did. A vast majority of the bondholders — 93 percent — accepted the deal.

Read more: Information for accountants and accounting companies: "How Hedge Funds Held Argentina for Ransom"

Information for accountants and accounting companies: "To Unify Europe, Face the Mideast as One"

BERLIN — After the horror in Brussels, Europe is mourning once more. Rightly, the states of the European Union are also focused on bringing the perpetrators to justice and preventing a follow-up attack. Cooperating more effectively on counterterrorism while tightening security at airports and train stations would be a start.

But we must not lose sight of the bigger picture. The Islamic State’s goal in Brussels was to scare us and drive a wedge between us, and it seems to be succeeding. Here in Germany, and across the Continent, right-wing, anti-immigration parties are calling for their nations to turn inward, away from one another. In Italy, the anti-immigrant Northern League wants an immediate closure of borders and mosques. The prime minister of Poland, Beata Szydlo, doubts that her nation of 40 million can meet its commitment to take in 400 refugees this year. Meanwhile, Nigel Farage, head of the UK Independence Party, suggests that the attacks prove that his country would be safer outside the European Union.

These appeals to emotion play into the terrorists’ hands just when what Europe must do is face its shared challenges with new unity at home, and a new readiness to act in the Middle East.

Read more: Information for accountants and accounting companies: "To Unify Europe, Face the Mideast as One"

Information for accountants and accounting companies: "Trade, Labor, and Politics"

There are a lot of things about the 2016 election that nobody saw coming, and one of them is that international trade policy is likely to be a major issue in the presidential campaign. What’s more, the positions of the parties will be the reverse of what you might have expected: Republicans, who claim to stand for free markets, are likely to nominate a crude protectionist, leaving Democrats, with their skepticism about untrammeled markets, as the de facto defenders of relatively open trade.

But this isn’t as peculiar a development as it seems. Rhetorical claims aside, Republicans have long tended in practice to be more protectionist than Democrats. And there’s a reason for that difference. It’s true that globalization puts downward pressure on the wages of many workers — but progressives can offer a variety of responses to that pressure, whereas on the right, protectionism is all they’ve got.

When I say that Republicans have been more protectionist than Democrats, I’m not talking about the distant past, about the high-tariff policies of the Gilded Age; I’m talking about modern Republican presidents, like Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. Reagan, after all, imposed an import quota on automobiles that ended up costing consumers billions of dollars. And Mr. Bush imposed tariffs on steel that were in clear violation of international agreements, only to back down after the European Union threatened to impose retaliatory sanctions.

Actually, the latter episode should be an object lesson for anyone talking tough about trade. The Bush administration suffered from a bad case of superpower delusion, a belief that America could dictate events throughout the world. The falseness of that belief was most spectacularly demonstrated by the debacle in Iraq. But the reckoning came even sooner on trade, an area where other players, Europe in particular, have just as much power as we do.

Read more: Information for accountants and accounting companies: "Trade, Labor, and Politics"

Information for accountants and accounting companies: "John McCain: Salute to a Communist"

“For Whom the Bell Tolls” was my favorite novel, and its hero, Robert Jordan, my literary idol. Like him, Delmer Berg fought in Spain, for love.
AN interesting obituary appeared in The New York Times recently, though the death of its subject last month was largely unnoticed beyond his family and friends.

That’s not surprising. Delmer Berg wasn’t a celebrity. He wasn’t someone with great wealth or influence. He had never held public office. He was a Californian. He worked as a farmhand and stonemason. He did some union organizing. He was vice president of his local N.A.A.C.P. chapter. He protested against the Vietnam War and nuclear weapons. He joined the United States Communist Party in 1943, and, according to The Times, he remained an “unreconstructed Communist” for the rest of his life. He was 100.

He was also the last known living veteran of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade.

Not many Americans younger than 70 know much about the Lincoln Brigade. It became the designation given to the nearly 3,000 mostly American volunteers who fought in the Spanish Civil War in 1937 and 1938. They fought on the Republican side, in defense of the democratically elected leftist government of Spain, and against the Nationalists, the military rebels led by Gen. Francisco Franco.

The Nationalists claimed their cause was anti-Communism and the restoration of the monarchy, and the Republicans professed to fight for the preservation of democracy. Fascists led the former, while Communists, both the cynical and naïve varieties, sought control of the latter. And into the Republican camp came idealistic freedom fighters from abroad.

Read more: Information for accountants and accounting companies: "John McCain: Salute to a Communist"

Information for accountants and accounting companies: "Standing With Brussels Against Terrorism and Fear"

This time the bombs exploded in Brussels, at the airport and on a metro train, brutally snuffing out at least 30 lives and wounding hundreds. The airport and much of the city were shut down, the police dragnets spread and the anguished questions arose: Why? How did the Islamic State, which claimed responsibility, plan this attack? Was this retaliation for the arrest last week of the last surviving Paris bomber? What have we missed?

With time we will have some answers, but in the end they are details to the central fact: Brussels, Europe, the world must brace for a long struggle against this form of terrorism. That means intensified counterterrorism efforts and a far higher degree of cooperation among threatened nations. That means courage and steadfastness in the face of a threat that will take many years to eliminate. It emphatically does not mean hysterical fearmongering of the sort promptly voiced by politicians like Donald Trump.

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Information for accountants and accounting companies: "Republican Elite’s Reign of Disdain"

“Sire, the peasants are revolting!”

“Yes, they are, aren’t they?”

It’s an old joke, but it seems highly relevant to the current situation within the Republican Party. As an angry base rejects establishment candidates in favor of you-know-who, a significant part of the party’s elite blames not itself, but the moral and character failings of the voters.

There has been a lot of buzz over the past few days about an article by Kevin Williamson in National Review, vigorously defended by other members of the magazine’s staff, denying that the white working class — “the heart of Trump’s support” — is in any sense a victim of external forces. A lot has gone wrong in these Americans’ lives — “the welfare dependency, the drug and alcohol addiction, the family anarchy” — but “nobody did this to them. They failed themselves.”

O.K., we’re just talking about a couple of writers at a conservative magazine. But it’s obvious, if you look around, that this attitude is widely shared on the right. When Mitt Romney spoke about the 47 percent of voters who would never support him because they “believe that the government has a responsibility to take care of them,” he was channeling an influential strain of conservative thought. So was Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House, when he warned of a social safety net that becomes “a hammock that lulls able-bodied people to lives of dependency and complacency.”

Or consider the attitude toward American workers inadvertently displayed by Eric Cantor, then the House majority leader, when he chose to mark Labor Day with a Twitter post celebrating … business owners.

Read more: Information for accountants and accounting companies: "Republican Elite’s Reign of Disdain"