2012/12/21 Minutes Economics Working Group

Economics’s Docs 2012/12/21 Minutes Economics Working Group

EWG meeting 21st December 2012 – minutes
Amir, John, Steve, Chris, Gbola, Janos, Dave, Eva, Vica, Tim, Andrea, Clive

1. Housing – somewhere to live. Beyond buildings. Phytoremediation – planting in the soil to heal contaminated sites – recovering brownfield sites. Resulting plants are used as a source of biofuels. Classically holistic process independent of other ecosystems. Instead of building on brownfield sites (where contaminants are still in the soil). Alternative is to build greenfield sites, urban sprawl – encroaching on nature. Greyfield land – concrete wildernesses – empty buildings abandoned industrial sites, empty houses. blackfield sites – covered in tarmac (car parks, roads etc.). CH4 program on housing – estimate 1.3 million empty commercial and private properties. May be no need to build more houses because there are so many empty buildings. Ghost towns of Valencia – Cajas excessive lending on sub-prime risks; Keynesian policy adopted to fuel economic activity; collapsed just like in the US. Two drivers – a) buyers: gullible who couldn’t afford the mortgages and speculators fraudulently applying for mortgages b) banks being greedy for business without reference to the contingent liability which would arise from collapse; led to Bankia bailout by the Spanish government. America went through a similar experience where 1 in 5 are threatened by foreclosure; OccupyUS has been active in saving people from being evicted from their homes. Labrythine financialisation of housing; Lehman Bros over extended in debt/leveraged securities.
2. What is a home? Secondary function as a commodity or source of speculation; conversations on housing tend to focus on the developed world to the exclusion of the developing world. Fuelled by bubble; annual increase in money supply corresponds to increasing debt; own culpability – we don’t question where interest come from; everyone one incentivised to commit fraud; self serving interests. Focus on the rich world is myopic; relate housing here to other parts of the world; corporations are already plundering the poor world, Glencore, Barclays, big pharma etc. with the complicity of local tyrants enriching themselves. Having sucked the developing world of resources – have turned their attention to the poor in the rich world; primary needs prejudiced by corporate greed; World house divided by immigration law; SA – victims of the mines; economic apartheid; fascism unity of purpose between government and business owners – feature of fascism but not necessarily exclusively fascist; maximisation of profit – brutalisation. Multinationals (banks) rule the world and will devour all in their wake.
1. Tim Berners-Lee: CO2 emissions new build v restoration; environmental impact of new build v restoration; land value is where most of the money goes (construction c. £50,000). Land appropriation disenfranchising the majority; Niger – stockpiling food to drive up crop prices; commodification – land banking (Barretts). Private rental driving people into poverty;
2. Refurbishing homes would house many of the homeless; 2million families waiting to be housed (2007) – 5 million people; George Clark CH4 program to subsidy for landlord who can’t afford to renovate; London Borough of Bromley withdrawing bus service to provide better frontage for restaurants to provide additional shelter by extending pavement; Borough of Newham living on the edge – potential for revolution; Reduction of social housing in Bromley – now only used for medical need.
3. Politics and economics geared to sustaining property policies; Land and resources need to be returned to the commons; opportunity to rehouse the homeless in empty buildings may be limited by geographic location; require more detailed clarification or more building may be necessary; LVT may be the route to sharing the value of land/resource surplus; 62 million acres in the UK 13homes per acre; only need to release 10 acres?
4. Nigerian civil war; exploitation of resources by oil companies such as Shell etc.; SA leading ANC members fought for freedom and were then sucked into the system and became exploiters themselves; UK government claims about affordable housing are impotent in the absence of economic activity; banks are not lending, developers not building; nothing tangible happening in the housing area; La Pas – Platform for those affected by eviction – supported by others to stop evictions; grown in popularity across Spain and anybody facing eviction calls for help; even though you lose your house you still have to pay the debt; gone to the European court; unreasonable contracts; fighting for change to let the debt lapse; Spanish are becoming more radical than people in the UK;

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