Sunday, June 13, 2021

While many people have a 'vivid' mind's eye, others have none at all

 All my life I have been able to visualize things quite easily, but 10 years ago I discovered to my surprise that many people can't. I put out a post here around a year ago where Jordan Peterson was saying that a third of the population think in pictures, a third think in words, and the last third think in both, which is what I do. In this article it even says that some people, although rare, are unable to play music in their heads either. 

Over the 16 years since that first patient, Zeman and his colleagues have heard from more than 12,000 people who say they don’t have any such mental camera. The scientists estimate that tens of millions of people share the condition, which they’ve named aphantasia, and millions more experience extraordinarily strong mental imagery, called hyperphantasia.

Deccan Herald 

While many people have a 'vivid' mind's eye, others have none at all-all-995054.html

‘Terribly scary’ situation as birds die, go blind in D.C. area

 In the last 10 days, people in the Washington, D.C., metro area have been reporting increasing numbers of sick, blind, injured, and dead birds. For the most part, they have been juvenile Common Grackles, European Starlings, and Blue Jays.

“Eye issues were reported in what otherwise looked like healthy juvenile birds, causing blindness and the birds to land and stay on the ground,” said the Animal Welfare League of Arlington in a statement. “Animal Control is now seeing additional species of birds affected. Other agencies and localities across the region and state are reporting similar issues.”

Bird Watching Daily

‘Terribly scary’ situation as birds die, go blind in D.C. area

0 per cent’ chance: former French official who oversaw safety standards at Wuhan lab dismisses leak theory

 Biosecurity expert Gabriel Gras supervised the construction and accreditation of the Wuhan Institute of Virology’s BSL-4 laboratory in 2017

He says he has ‘no doubt’ about the safety of the facility, despite growing scrutiny over the possible role of a lab accident in the origins of Covid-19

A former French government official who oversaw safety standards at the Wuhan Institute of Virology’s maximum security laboratory ahead of its opening has dismissed the theory that Covid-19 escaped from the institute, as a growing clamour of voices lends credence to the previously fringe hypothesis.

In his first interview with English-language media, Gabriel Gras, a virology researcher and biosecurity expert who was employed as a technical expert at the French embassy in China, said he did not believe SARS-CoV-2 originated or escaped from the WIV.

Gras said he had “no doubt” about the safety of the institute’s biosafety level 4 (BSL-4) laboratory, the first of that security specification to be built in China, after supervising its construction and accreditation by way of a collaboration between the French government and the Chinese Academy of Sciences.


0 per cent’ chance: former French official who oversaw safety standards at Wuhan lab dismisses leak theory

Saturday, June 12, 2021

BIS on Central bank digital currencies (CBDCs)

Central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) could ease current frictions in cross-border payments – and particularly so if central banks factor an international dimension into CBDC design from the outset. Based on a survey of 50 central banks in the first quarter of 2021, this paper explores initial thinking on the cross-border use of CBDCs. While most central banks have yet to take a firm decision on issuing a CBDC, the survey responses show a tentative inclination towards allowing use of a future CBDC by tourists and other non-residents domestically. They have a cautious approach to allowing use of a CBDC beyond their own jurisdiction. Concerns about the economic and monetary implications of cross-border CBDC use and about private sector global stablecoins are taken seriously. At the wholesale level, 28% of surveyed central banks are considering options to make CBDCs interoperable by forming multi-CBDC arrangements. This involves arrangements that enhance compatibility, interlink or even integrate multiple CBDCs into a single payments system. Finally, almost 14% of respondents are considering an active role for the central bank in FX conversion.
Keywords: central bank digital currency, CBDC, multi-CBDC arrangements, mCBDC, mCBDC Bridge, cross-border payments, payment systems, central banking, digital currency, stablecoins, remittances.
CBDCs beyond borders: results from a survey of central banks PDF
Raphael Auer, Codruta Boar, Giulio Cornelli, Jon Frost, Henry Holden and Andreas Wehrli

The Conspiracy of Silence

 The Franklin Cover-up

This documentary was made by Yorkshire Television but it got pulled when lawyers won a court battle on behalf of those accused. All copies of the film were ordered to be destroyed too, but this rough unedited version later turned up on YouTube.

 To be accused of a terrible crime you didn't do is a horrendous thing, so you always have to be careful about this sort of thing. 

John Decamp - who was a Republican politician and a lawyer - did all the original research.

I think you will find it to be one of the most fascinating and disturbing documentaries you've ever seen.

Exposing the Black Budget

 The Cold War is over. So why, Paul McGinnis wanted to know, are major CIA, NSA, and Department of Defense programs still being kept secret from Congress and US taxpayers?

In Blank Check, Weiner argued that the black budget represented an entire culture of deception - "the realm of nukes and spooks," he called it.

Black budgeting, its opponents argue, is more about hiding from Congress and the public than from any foreign enemies....

the details of the black budget are revealed to only a few select Congressional committee members - and sometimes not even to them.

The size of the appropriation for Aurora rose from $8 million in 1986 to $2.3 billion for 1987. The next year it vanished.

Friday, June 11, 2021

Zero Hedge — Western Companies "Shocked" After China Rushes Through Anti-Sanctions Law

There should be little doubt that the timing is intentional: China on Thursday passed its sweeping new law to 'safeguard' Chinese businesses and entities from Western and especially US sanctions, just hours ahead of President Joe Biden sitting down with G-7 leaders in Cornwall to argue for a common stance on curtailing China's influence....
Zero Hedge
Western Companies "Shocked" After China Rushes Through Anti-Sanctions Law
Tyler Durden

See also

Visual Capitalist
RCEP Explained: The World’s Biggest Trading Bloc Will Soon be in Asia-Pacific
Iman Ghosh


China's consumption heats up in May: commerce ministry


History To Go
Reed Smoot and the Smoot-Hawley Tariff, 1930
Jeffrey D. Nichols

Blaming China For US Poverty And The Broken American Dream

 China joined the WTO in 2001 and has gained $13 trillion in GDP since then. America has gained $11 trillion during the same time period, has a quarter of the population of China, but most Americans have not seen any increase in their standard of living, and many have become a lot poorer. So China isn't making America poorer, as such, even though most Americans believe it has. The One Percent made all the gains. 

However in the past 20 years, almost 5 million manufacturing jobs in America have been lost, as factories moved overseas, creating Rust Belt de-industrialisation, a surge in poverty levels and anti-China sentiment. 

Dayton, Ohio, home of the Wright brothers, was once known as “The City of 1,000 Factories” and the Silicon Valley of its age. From 2001 to 2007, the city lost almost 23,000 jobs, as factories such as General Motors shut down. Ironically in 2015, Chinese glass-maker Fuyao set up a factory in Dayton employing 2,300 workers - the subject of the Academy Award-winning documentary American Factory.

But how much is globalisation, and China in particular, to blame for America's deindustrialisation woes, and how much the one-percenters and unequal distribution of wealth? America's GDP after all has grown by some US$11 trillion since 2001. 

Blaming China For US Poverty And The Broken American Dream

What Went Wrong With California's High-Speed Railway

 It promised to transform how Californians travel but is now seen as a “bullet train to nowhere.” This is why America's west coast megaproject has been far from high-speed.

The latest Wall Street scandal: Archegos Capital Managemen

 This is the story of the latest financial scandal to rock Wall Street and the global financial industry. It’s one of those stories that only happens in the United States.


It’s the story of Bill Hwang, a South Korean immigrant who, after arriving in the United States with his father, learned to read and write English while working at McDonalds, later became a successful financier in the multi-billion dollar hedge fund industry and has now left several of the world's largest banks shaking in their boots

How To De-Seed A Pomegranate | Jamie’s 1 Minute Tips


Understanding China’s Young Consumers — Zak Dychtwald

Revealing. Demographic comparison of China, where those under 40 dominate luxury spending, with the US, where the bulk of luxury spending is done by the Boomer and above generations.

Understanding China’s Young Consumers
Zak Dychtwald

China passes anti-sanctions law that ‘can target individuals, families, organisations’ — Sarah Zheng and Tony Cheung

Upping the ante. 

The global economy is fracturing as countries assert sovereignty, which was repressed during globalization. The reasons are many but one is clear. No one really thought it through in terms of pros and cons, and costs versus benefits. Now the historical dialectic has swung in the other way in correction.

China passes anti-sanctions law that ‘can target individuals, families, organisations’
Sarah Zheng and Tony Cheung


Notice the different spin.

Yahoo Finance
China passes anti-foreign sanctions law

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Taiwan’s COVID death rate climbs to 2.4%, higher than world average

People are dying in their homes. 

So far Taiwan has registered 286 COVID deaths, for a mortality rate of 2.4%. That’s higher than the world average of 2.15%. Experts say old age and chronic illnesses are factors at play.

Taiwan officially becomes an aged society with people over 65 years old breaking the 14% mark

Bill Mitchell — MMT and Power – Part 2

This is Part 2 of a series that is developing here on the topic of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) and power. I often read that Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) is defective because it has no theory of power relations. Some critics link this in their narrative to their claim that MMT also has no theory of inflation. They then proceed to attack concepts such as employment buffers, on the grounds, that MMT cannot propose a solution to inflation if it has no understanding of how power relations cause inflation. These criticisms don’t come from the conservative side of the policy debate but rather from the so-called Left, although I wonder just how ‘left’ some of the commentators who cast these aspersions actually are. The problem with these criticisms is that they have clearly adopted a partial approach to their understanding of what MMT is, presumably through not reading the literature widely enough, but also because of the way, some MMT proponents choose to represent our work. In Part 1, I examined how the economics discipline evolved from political economy to a narrow focus on the ‘economy’ as if it existed in a void of power. I also disabused readers of the notion that MMT ignores the link between money and the real economy, which is a regular claim offered by critics from the Left. I also questioned critics who seem to want MMT to be a theory of everything. As I regularly point out MMT cannot predict who wins the football this week, but that isn’t a criticism. In Part 2, I am going to complicate things a little by expanding on the MMT is the MMT is a lens narrative as if we can neatly separate values from facts. I will also explain how power enters into the dominant theory of inflation in MMT....
Bill Mitchell – billy blog
MMT and Power – Part 2
Bill Mitchell | Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), at University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia

Part 1 is here.

I hope Bill will  continue this series and perhaps write an article and then a book on it. 

Power relationships are foundation to the social, political, and economic asymmetry endemic in modern "capitalistic" societies in a way that resembles the role of land ownership the previous agricultural age. Political economy, which is what classical economics was called, acknowledge this role. Laissez-faire was about limiting the power of the state, however, in the historical period in which liberalism was challenging the power of church in imposing dogma and the state, dictates. 

Marx based his work on the role of power in economics, focusing on the power inherent in property relations instead. As result, Marx became anathema in economics and politics — but not sociology, which was left to study power. (See C. Wright Mills, The Power Elite.) Presently, the role of power in economics is chiefly pursued in economic sociology and political science rather than economics, and most conventional economists simply ignore it, as they do money, since wealth is one of the pillars of power relationships. This is rather incredible considering that asymmetrical power undermines key assumptions of neoclassical economics regarding the operation of market forces in ways that vitiate conventional modeling as representative of real-world systems and events.

Charles Burress - Biased History Helps Feed US Fascination With Pearl Harbor

 Originally published by The Japanese Times but it was behind a paywall, so I searched for it and found it at 

It's a parallel to how the US is treating China today. 

Pearl Harbor didn't just fall out of the sky. It followed a long chain of events that had filled many Japanese minds with resentment and hostility against the Western powers in general and the U.S. in particular. The first came in 1853 when U.S. Commodore Matthew Perry confronted Japan with a squadron of gunboats -- the "Black Ships" -- that eventually forced Japan to open its ports and accept unequal treaties.


Japan deeply feared being colonized and was shocked by this gunboat diplomacy into rapid industrialization and a desire to join the club of imperial powers, including their feast on China and other weak, resource-rich territories. Japan modeled its rebirth after the Western mold, and joined with Western powers in suppressing the anticolonialist Boxer Rebellion in China in 1900.


But the Western powers ultimately didn't want to grant what Japan felt it deserved. When Japan asked for a racial equality clause for the new League of Nations at the end of World War I, the white nations refused. America's sanctions against Japan were prompted not only by a desire to evict Japan from China and release Japan's grip on the vital raw materials of Southeast Asia. Americans were horrified also at the large-scale atrocities inflicted on Chinese citizens by the Japanese Imperial Army.


Subsequent Japanese horror at American atrocities -- the firebombing and atomic bombing of Japanese cities, estimated by MIT historian John Dower to have killed 400,000 civilians -- is often rationalized in the American mind by the conviction, as one American veteran vehemently told me, "Japan started the war!"


But is that entirely true? Japan did launch the attack on Pearl Harbor before American "Flying Tigers" were able to fire their first shots at Japanese planes in China, but both sides were already on the road to war. Before the attack, the U.S. was making contingency war plans for razing Japanese cities with firebombs.

Charles Burress - Biased History Helps Feed US Fascination With Pearl Harbor 

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Embattled China seeks greater technological self-reliance Denis Simon

The imperatives motivating Chinese leaders towards greater technological self-reliance have the potential to drive China further outside of the mainstream of the global economy. Were China to succeed in achieving greater technological independence from the West, the global economy could fundamentally change. Whether or not China will feel compelled to go down this path remains uncertain as the world seems to be shifting away from techno-globalism towards techno-nationalism....
"Whether or not China will feel compelled to go down this path remains uncertain"…. What is he talking about, "uncertain." China says it is certain in the article itself. "Xi has exhorted Chinese industry to focus on building ‘secure and controllable supply chains’ to overcome dependence on the West,.… "Exhorted" means "ordered." Xi is not asking them to do this. He is telling them to do it as a top priority. And the government will support it in every way possible, whatever it takes. This is existential. The only question that remains is how well they will succeed and it what timeframe.

East Asia Forum
Embattled China seeks greater technological self-reliance
Denis Simon is Professor of Chinese Business and Technology at the Fuqua School of Business, Duke University

TASS — US sanctions against Nord Stream 2 become meaningless - Putin

The Russian President added that everything that the United States did with regard to Nord Stream 2 was beneficial only to them….
Germany was just not that into buying expensive US gas.

US sanctions against Nord Stream 2 become meaningless - Putin

RT — El Salvador wants to power crypto mines with ‘100% cheap, renewable’ VOLCANO energy, after adopting bitcoin as legal tender

President Nayib Bukele of El Salvador is moving fast on his pledge to embrace bitcoin as another legal tender, already opening a new geothermal well that would use clean geothermal energy to power the cryptocurrency mines.

On Wednesday, Bukele tweeted that he had instructed the state-owned geothermal electric company LAGeoSV to power bitcoin mines with “very cheap, 100% clean, 100% renewable, 0 emissions energy from our volcanos.”.…


El Salvador wants to power crypto mines with ‘100% cheap, renewable’ VOLCANO energy, after adopting bitcoin as legal tender

Book Review: “Mine! How the Hidden Rules of Ownership Control Our Lives”— Lambert Strether

How property is institutionalized.

Ownership can be traced to territoriality as an evolutionary trait. See Robert Ardrey, The Territorial Imperative, for instance.

Naked Capitalism
Book Review: “Mine! How the Hidden Rules of Ownership Control Our Lives”
Lambert Strether

The Lewis Powell Court — Ken Melvin

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, RI, has recently begun giving a series of speeches on the Senate floor in re dark money and the effect on the Supreme Court. The two so far have centered on Lewis Powell’s secret memo to the US Chamber of Commerce in 1971 just before his appointment to the US Supreme Court. The two speeches go a long way toward explaining the present makeup of the Court, how we got to this point, how capitalism works in America, southern aristocracy, our aristocracy, … . Herewith, for your perusal, are links to the videos of both the speeches along with copies of their transcripts.…
Explains the slide toward reasserting elite control in reaction to the New Deal, spearheaded by Lewis Powell who was later rewarded by an appointment to the Supreme Court. Downhill from there. Sheldon Whitehouse is now throwing light on it.

Angry Bear
The Lewis Powell Court
Ken Melvin

SCMP - Is Grace the future of medicine?


My new podcast episode is out.

Natural Gas Is The Secret To Scaling Geothermal Energy — Haley Zaremba

Not exactly the way the title implies, but interesting anyway.

Natural Gas Is The Secret To Scaling Geothermal Energy
Haley Zaremba

G7: Desperately Seeking Relevancy — Pepe Escobar

Chiefly about the global economy — and geopolitics/geostrategy.

The Vineyard of the Saker
G7: Desperately Seeking Relevancy
Pepe Escobar


Zero Hedge
More European Firms Onshoring In China Than Offshoring, Complicates Biden's Decoupling Plan
Tyler Durden

U.S. businesses getting anxious as Trump's China tariffs remain: media

'Every deficit is good for someone' — Stephanie Kelton interviewed

The question is, cui bono? Under the present system, the financial benefit flows to the top, although other derive some economic benefit as a result of the flow. Fiscal injection (government spending) eventually flows either to saving or taxation. When tax policy is progressive, the flow is largely to taxation. Otherwise, the stock of savings increases. This increase in the stock of savings increases distributional asymmetry aka "inequality." That is to say, in the later case there is a systemic bias owing to institutionalized asymmetry.

Stephanie Kelton interviewed

Power Shifts, or Not? — Peter Radford

Power can flummox even the best economist. A typical explanation of events in an economy makes scant reference to the way in which power distorts the wondrous smooth motions that so obsess the discipline. It’s almost as if human relationships don’t exist in those wonderful models they are all so proud of. For the rest of us, power is central. It takes little time to realize that establishing an imbalance can have all sorts of advantages. They most notable being that it defeats or undermines the consequences of the classic impersonal marketplace. Fair is out. Asymmetry is in.

Conventional economic models are based on economic liberalism (capitalism), a chief assumption of which parties produce for markets and consumers consume through markets in which quantities of scarce goods are rationed by price. Included in this assumption is that markets are "perfect" in the sense of completely symmetrical, no party having an advantage over others based on the ability to influence market forces. This includes information and power. 

On the other hand, all competitors seek advantage and are thereby incentivized to encourage asymmetry that gives them an advantage. In the real world, asymmetries are endemic in socio-economics systems subject to politics where parties vie for political power owing this is incentive, for example. 

Economic liberalism is based on opportunity and incentive. For it to operate properly, opportunity must be relatively equal and incentives should not produce asymmetry. Neither are the case in contemporary systems. As a result, key assumptions of conventional economics is overly simplistic, which vitiates the application of the models to real-world conditions due to overly narrow scope.

This leads to the question, why are we doing this. The answer is that suggests itself is that this arrangement benefits those who gain advantage and it is they that support and promote it, and denigrate other approaches. It is part and parcel of capturing power to influence outcomes in the favor of some parties over others. 

The other possibilities are stupidity or some combination thereof. Where ignorance does enter is in fooling the parties that are disadvantaged by controlling the narrative. This is a weakness of political liberalism (liberal democracy).

The conclusion would indicate either forcing reality to conform to the idealistic models, which is impossible to do, or else to give up the conventional approach as flawed. The conventional approach is trying to force reality to conform to the models, but selectively in a way that still favors the advantaged parties and further disadvantages the losers. This leads to social unrest as those that are disadvantaged by the resulting conditions get fed up and protest. 

The Radford Free Press
Power Shifts, or Not?
Peter Radford

How Tariffs Affect China’s Exports — Willem Thorbecke

Donald Trump launched a trade war with China. On 6 July 2018 he placed 25% tariffs on $34 billion of imports from China and on 23 August 2018 he placed 25% tariffs on an additional $16 billion of imports. On 24 September 2019 he added 10% tariffs on $200 billion of imports and in 2019 and 2020 added tariffs on an additional $300 billion of imports. Chad Bown and Melina Kolb provided a detailed timeline of the trade war ( ). President Biden has left the tariffs in place.

How do tariffs affect China’s exports?
Guest Contribution: “How Tariffs Affect China’s Exports”
Willem Thorbecke, Senior Fellow at Japan’s Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI)

Bill Mitchell — Price rises should be short-lived – so let’s not resurrect inflation as a bogeyman

I had an Op Ed published in the UK Guardian today (my time) which analysed the latest inflation scares that have been dominating the popular media. More and more mainstream macroeconomists are coming out and asserting that economies will overheat. The usual gold bugs have been delighted by this shift in the narrative back to the obsessions and manias that keep them occupied on a daily basis. What was interesting to me was the responses of the commentators to the Guardian Op Ed. If the sentiments expressed represent the state of macroeconomic knowledge (presumably mostly in the UK) then we have a long way to go before Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) and the sensible policies that it might inform gain any serious traction. Given the GFC, the stagnation in the aftermath, 30 years of Japanese history, the pandemic, which have all combined to demonstrate why the mainstream approach is dysfunctional and provides no guidance to what might happen in the real world, the commentators continued to rehearse these failed ideas about inflation, interest rates, bond markets etc. Quite dispiriting.
Bill Mitchell – billy blog
Price rises should be short-lived – so let’s not resurrect inflation as a bogeyman
Bill Mitchell | Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), at University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia

How Functional Finance differs from Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) — Dirk Ehnts

I have been re-reading the Functional Finance and the Federal Debt paper this afternoon. There are crucial differences between Functional Finance Theory (FFT) and Modern Monetary Theory (MMT). Therefore, it (MMT) was not all in Lerner. Let me comment on FTT from an MMT perspective....
econoblog 101
How Functional Finance differs from Modern Monetary Theory (MMT)
Dirk Ehnts | Lecturer at Bard College Berlin, research assistant at the Technical University of Chemnitz, and spokesperson of the board of Pufendorf-Gesellschaft eV in Berlin