Wednesday, August 15, 2018

— ‘There’s an Alternative to the Hierarchical, Top-Down Capitalist CorporationJanine Jackson interviews Richard Wolff

But here’s a simple fact which ought to illustrate, in a sense, the question you’ve asked: This is an extremely undemocratic arrangement. What do I mean? Well, the number of people that make all the key decisions in American corporations, and by that I mean deciding what to produce, deciding how, deciding what technology to use, deciding the physical geographic location—will it be produced in Cincinnati or in Shanghai, etc.—and finally, what to do with the profits that the labor of all the people working there have helped to produce? All of those key decisions, that shape the lives of everybody involved in the company, and indeed everybody in the larger community, are made by tiny groups of individuals, the major shareholders, that 1 percent who own three-quarters of the shares, or two-thirds of them, and the boards of directors that they choose. This is a tiny minority sitting at the top of every corporation, looking and acting pretty much like kings and queens once acted when there were monarchies instead of democratic parliamentarian systems.
And we don’t question that, we here in America, with our commitment to democracy. We seem not to be able to ask the obvious question: If we like democracy, as we say we do, if we insist on some sort of accountability of the political leaders who make decisions that impact us, why in the world do we not make the same demand—democratic accountability—of the economic leaders in our society, the people who run these enormous corporations, that are the dominant economic factor in our society? And we don’t.
And the funny thing is that, of course, there is an alternative; just like there was an alternative to monarchy—namely, political democracy—there’s an alternative to the hierarchical, top-down capitalist corporation. And it has a number of names, because it’s very old; the one that’s being used much these days is “worker cooperative,” or “producer cooperative,” and the basic idea is, we would have a different economy if we organized our enterprises in an alternative way....
So what would be a more democratic alternative?

Professor Wolff suggests asking who is most invested in the firm and answers that it is the public the firm serves and the employees that do the work. It's certainly not the owners that do nothing other than let their portfolios grow while they sleep.

FAIR - Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting
‘There’s an Alternative to the Hierarchical, Top-Down Capitalist Corporation
Janine Jackson interviews Richard Wolff, Emeritus Professor of Economics (Marxist) at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where he taught for 30 years

Brittany Shoot — Bulletproof Backpacks: A Must-Have for Back-to-School in 2018?

This was on the front page of the Iowa City Press-Citizen yesterday. The article also reported rising sales of bulletproof glass.

Bulletproof Backpacks: A Must-Have for Back-to-School in 2018?
Brittany Shoot

Megan Keller — Warren introduces Accountable Capitalism Act

“There’s a fundamental problem with our economy. For decades, American workers have helped create record corporate profits but have seen their wages hardly budge,” Warren said in an announcement of the bill. “My bill will help the American economy return to the era when American companies and American workers did well together.”...
Whether the proposal would actually do that is going to be quite controversial.

At least is is about preemption and accountability, which is a step in the right direction.

Nadeem Badshah — Guernsey resident halts roadworks with ancient plea

Of interest.

The Guardian
Guernsey resident halts roadworks with ancient plea
Nadeem Badshah

Zero Hedge — Was Hillary The Real Colluder?

You knew it was headed here, didn't you?

Not just Billary either. John Brennan is being outed as the master mind. Obama up to eyeballs?

Bill Browder's story is also weakening in spite of massive efforts to subvert any mention of it in the "news"

And curious minds are inquiring, where is Christopher Steele?

A friend o famine and no friend of Trump asked this morning whether I thought that Alex Jones was taken down in preparation for the mid-term election because of his reach.

Could the worm be turning? Are more people beginning to smell a soft coup in the works?

Zero Hedge
Was Hillary The Real Colluder?

Caitlin Johnstone — Take Chances

A gentle call to action — before it is too late.

Caitlin Johnstone — Rogue Journalist
Take Chances
Caitlin Johnstone

Paul J. Saunders — Why Bloomberg Got It Wrong

Devastating smackdown. Implies the reporters should be fired. I would add, probably the editor responsible as well.

Want better news? Demand accountability for fake news, lies, and reputational smears.

The National Interest
Why Bloomberg Got It Wrong
Paul J. Saunders | Executive Director of the Center for the National Interest and associate publisher of the National Interest, and a State Department Senior Adviser during the George W. Bush administration

Brian Romanchuk — Services And Production Decisions

One of the problems with many theoretical approaches to the business cycle is that there is an implicit bias towards a manufacturing economy. The modelling of business sector decision making for manufacturing is quite different than for the service sector. This matters, as the developed economies are increasingly services-driven (figure above). For consumer-facing service industries, output is largely demand-driven. This fits much better with the post-Keynesian approach.
This article is discussing a bit of a theoretical puzzle that came up when I was thinking about the next large instalment of business cycle articles. (Once again, my next project after the breakeven inflation analysis book is one on business cycles.) Rather than mess up that discussion with a long digression, I have broken this out into a small stand-alone article. I am not going to argue that what I am discussing is extremely deep, as it is possible to work around. However, we need to keep it in mind when discussing the varying approaches to business cycle analysis.
Bond Economics
Services And Production Decisions
Brian Romanchuk

Bill Mitchell — A twitter storm of lies …

This is my short Wednesday offering, which will be quite short considering the last two days have been (necessary) epics. My three-part series created somewhat of a social media storm, which means people are interested in the topic and I think that is healthy. Democracy is strengthened if people educate themselves and contest propositions that are abroad in the debate. But, as I noted yesterday, social media storms have a way of getting out of control and out of the realm of being complementary to a more considered educative process and interaction. What the recent Twitter storm has demonstrated is that key people are just willing to make spurious accusations (aka lies) without having taken the time to consider the depth of the literature that is available on any topic. That is not helpful to democracy. It undermines it. Anyway, in this short blog post, I consider some of the responses to my three-part series. As a footnote, I have now retitled the three-part series “MMT is just plain good economics” rather than using the quotation from the British Shadow Chancellor’s advisor who said that “MMT is just plain bad old economics”. Framing. I took the points of several commentators on this blog seriously in this regard. Thanks. 
Bill Mitchell – billy blog
A twitter storm of lies …
Bill Mitchell | Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), at University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Bill Mitchell — MMT is just plain old bad economics – Part 3

This is the third and final part of this series….
Bill Mitchell – billy blog
MMT is just plain old bad economics – Part 3
Bill Mitchell | Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), at University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia

Channel 4 News - Jeremy Corbyn responds to wreath row and Netanyahu criticism

This is a very tough interview of Jeremy Corbyn but I think he stands his ground well. If he gets through this he is unstoppable. The Zionists are pullinmg out every dirty trick they can think of to stop Jeremy Corbyn becoming Prime Minister.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn talks to Channel 4 News about the wreath-laying controversy - and Benjamin Netanyahu's criticism of him.

Jimmy Dore - Mueller’s Indictments Debunked By NSA Whistle-blower. w/Bill Binney

Bill Binney makes me laugh in this one. He says the intelligence community have no charge for the Russians trying to alter the presidential election results, what they do have are charges against the Russians for being spies and hacking. Well, this is exactly what American spies do and they are the best at it, says Binney with a chuckle, and then he adds that they would have to charge all the American spies too.

Bill Binney says that mainstream journalists are afraid of the Deep State and he can't get any of them to report on his findings.

VIPS Professional Bill Binney sets the record straight on Guccifer 2.0 and Mueller’s latest indictments.

Alan Longbon — Could Turkey Default? The Maths Say No

Most of the "analysis" of Turkey being offered is nonsense. Speculators following it will be taking the losing side of the trade.

Alan Longbon nails it. This post is the best available that I am aware of.  

The title is too limited. The article comprehensive. 

Does President Erdogan understand MMT? And maybe President Putin, too? Is the world waking up?

To early to tell but the signs are encouraging.

President Erdogan realizes that that the international institutions like the IMF and the global capitalist elite they are represent are on the same neoliberal page. 

Erdogan is also aware that like other central bank the Turkish central bank is on this same page. Can he crack central bank independent. The "international community" is warning him not to try. 

That would be "dictatorial," you see, and undercut the currency even more — as "they" do their best to create a financial crisis to effect regime change.

BTW, this article is an excellent example of MMT analysis in action. Alan Longbon is worth following if you are not already.

Seeking Alpha
Could Turkey Default? The Maths Say No
Alan Longbon

Monday, August 13, 2018

Sputnik — ‘It Must Be Seen': Filmmaker Andrei Nekrasov Urges Public to See Magnitsky Film

Andrei Nekrasov, writer and director of the film "The Magnitsky Act: Behind the Scenes," sits down with Sputnik to discuss his latest film and encourage viewers to look past the disinformation campaign launched against both the movie and its creators....
Sputnik International
‘It Must Be Seen': Filmmaker Andrei Nekrasov Urges Public to See Magnitsky Film

Publius Tacitus — America's Persistent Russia Delusion by Publius Tacitus

How long can American citizens continue to display such an astonishing degree of ignorance when it comes to the topic of Russia and meddling in political affairs? The media is pounding away like a hyperactive child with a new drum--bang, bang, bang--insisting that Russia is every where in our political system and is controlling our destiny. This kind of bald faced lie goes beyond egregious. It is diabolical. It has only one purpose--provoke confrontation with a nuclear power. If that does not qualify as the true definition of insanity, then you are beyond the reach of reason.
The deviant fantasy that has enveloped the weak minds of most Americans with respect to Russia conjure the image of a gleeful Putin, keen on conquering the world, lusting for blood and running a global criminal syndicate. And there stands Ma and Pa Kettle, our mom and dad, our brother and sister. It is up to us, the humble, peaceful Americans, who must lead the charge in thwarting this malevolent tyrant. This is the bullshit that is drowning the media in the United States and most appear quite willing to imbibe this toxic sludge.
Let us start with some very simple facts:...
Sic Semper Tyrannis
America's Persistent Russia Delusion by Publius Tacitus
Publius Tacitus

The Real News Network - Does the Russiagate Narrative Protect Those with Power and Influence? Q&A (Pt 2/5)

Here, Paul Jay gives an excellent explanation of Russiagate. Yes, people in the military-industrial complex are keeping the 'Russia did it' scare going to make billions, but also, the American ruling elite hate it that when the Soviet Union folded they didn't get in on the mass privatisations they thought they would get because Russian oligarchs took over the state run industries instead pushing their guys out. Also, Russia  has massive oil reserves which they covet over.

So, Russia has the most advanced nuclear deterrent in the world to protect itself from the Western bandits, buccaneers, crooks,. and pirates which form the US and European aristocracy.

What I found interesting is that Paul Jay doesn't think Trump has a focused policy of separating Russia from China, but rather, the ruling elite that Trump represents see Russia as a white Christian nation they can make allies with. This is especially the view of Steve Bannon, says Paul Jay.

Watch Part 2 of Paul Jay and Aaron Mate's interactive discussion with viewers about the controversy over Trump's visit to Helsinki - From a live recording on July 18th, 2018

Pam and Russ Martens — Would Sen. Warner’s Ambitious Plan to Regulate Social Media Giants “Ruin” the Internet—Or Save it?

Need to regulate versus opportunity to control versus threat of ruining.

Wall Street On Parade
Would Sen. Warner’s Ambitious Plan to Regulate Social Media Giants “Ruin” the Internet—Or Save it?
Pam Martens and Russ Martens

Justin Weinberg — Why Is Philosophy Important?

Why is philosophy important? The very question itself indicates that many assume that philosophy is not important.

But this begs the question, what is philosophy. There are many answers and the assumptions involved in answering it will influence the outcome.

A reason for this is that there are many approaches to philosophy, so that "philosophy" has come to mean many things depending on how the terms is interpreted and used.

First, there is a controversial issue now raging in the profession over "world philosophy." Some think that Western academic philosophy has failed to recognize the contributions of Eastern thought, for example. Others would include so-called primitive thought.

This reminds me a story about an African shaman attending a Western conference on theology. Someone confronted him with the "fact" that there is no literature so there is no theology. The shaman replied, "We don't write like you do. We dance."

One of the landmark works in world philosophy is the magisterial sociological study of Randall Collins, The Sociology of Philosophies: A Global Theory of Intellectual Change.

In fact, UNESCO has declared World Philosophy Day to be celebrated every year, and more is being published on World Philosophy as a topic of interest in inquiry.

Secondly, there are many schools of thought in the Western intellectual tradition, as there are in other non-Western traditions. Most of them have different conceptions about the subject matter of philosophy, philosophical method, criteria, and so forth. Compared to the sciences, philosophy appears "lost at sea without a compass."

Thirdly, various philosophies underlies different world views and ideologies that are presumed. Everyone has a world view that serves as a framework for thought and action. Most people do not reflect on their framework and assume that the framework reflected the essential structure of reality, so that those that presume a different framework are misguided.

Moreover, most people are unaware of how broadly and deeply they are influenced by previous ideas.
The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist. Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back. I am sure that the power of vested interests is vastly exaggerated compared with the gradual encroachment of ideas. —John Maynard Keynes, The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, ch. 24, p. 383
I would expand that observation to include a much wider range of "influencers" instead of limiting it to economists and political philosophers.

Socrates founded the Western intellectual tradition, which developed into Western liberalism, in making the observation that a life not reflected upon is not worth the living, also translated as, "The unexamined life is not worth living." 

Socrates became a martyr for truth in this quest, ironically having been condemned to death for mocking the gods and corrupting the youth in a society ruled by direct democracy. That warning echoes through time, and until recently every educated person was expected to have read The Apology, where Socrates defends himself at his trial before his peers on a capital offense.

In this view Socrates presented, philosophy is a way of life base on inquiry, which requires freedom of thought, expression, and association for open inquiry and debate to take place. And open inquiry and debate are foundational to the liberal view of democratic government.

There is a reason that philosophy is said to be the queen of the sciences, although Clement of Alexandria changed this to the “handmaid of theology.” That, of course, ended with the Renaissance and the rise of the Modern Age. 

It seems that a big reason that many take philosophy to be no longer important results from the belief that philosophy has been replaced by science and the scientific method. But since the enduring questions fall beyond the scope of the scientific method, which stipulates its criterion as empirical, they remain unresolved and refuse to go away. The result in competing ideologies whose philosophical assumptions are simply presumed. Philosophy seeks to uncover the hidden assumptions  in these presumptions, which are often tacit and held implicitly.

Another big reason is that academic philosophers have chosen to focus either on analytic philosophy, which appears to critics like logic-chopping and word salad, or postmodernism, which seems to avoid the more interesting questions in favor of relativism or skepticism. Neither address the "big" questions, assuming this to be a waste of time owing to scope limitation imposed by methodology.

I have already explored this question of important here at MNE in a previous post on the purpose of education in the post and in the comments, where I have stated my views. 

In summary, my view is that philosophy is important in that it considers the whole in terms of key fundamentals, and it's method is reasoning and experience taken broadly. It is a general systems approach that is oriented not only toward explanation but also probem-solving. 

As such, philosophy is essentially about the study and application of creative and critical thinking from a integrated and holistic perspective. Being dynamic, philosophy is also historical and unfolds toward the horizon in the march of time. Being historical, in its also path-dependent and brings the past into the present and future.

Philosophy is important because ideas are important and in a complex adaptive system new ideas are emergent. Philosophy is about dealing with this creatively and critically instead of being chiefly reactive and unreflective, not learning from experience as ideas are tested in the crucible of action.

Daily Nous
Why Is Philosophy Important?
Justin Weinberg | Associate Professor of Philosophy, University of South Carolina

Venezuela Analysis — The Actors in the Conspiracy Against Venezuela


One-sided, but so is the "news" coming from Maduro's opposition, both domestic and international.

Venezuela Analysis
The Actors in the Conspiracy Against Venezuela
Eduardo Andrade Bone - Resumen Latin Americano

See also

Backgrounder on Venezuelan history.

While this is more about the politics and institutional factors than the economics, the political and institutional factors heavily influence the economics. So there is more to it than just mismanagement.

Could better management have obviated the crisis?

Perhaps. But it was not only lack of material systems knowledge and skills that led to the crisis and its perpetuation.

No doubt that better management would greatly improve matters though.

Fort Russ
The Venezuelan Economic Crisis: Facts. vs. Propaganda

Dennis Churilov — Were German Nazis and Soviet Socialists the Same?

There are so many people out there who genuinely believe that financial plutocrats like Soros are communists, and that Wall Street-sponsored Hillary Clinton is a socialist.
Many American self-proclaimed right-wingers seriously assert that the German Nazis were all socialists, simply because “Nazi” is short for ”Nationalsozialismus”, which translates as “National Socialism”. Therefore, they make a conclusion that the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany were ideologically the same.
Sadly, this is the level of political and historical discourse many people are at at the moment.
German Fascism/Nazism and Soviet socialism were the polar opposites....
Fort Russ
Op-ed: Were German Nazis and Soviet Socialists the Same?
Dennis Churilov

Duncan Green — Elinor Ostrom's Rules fo Radicals

Elinor Ostrom's Rules fo Radicals. Lin Ostrom is the only woman to have won a Nobel in economics.

Oxfam Blogs — From Poverty to Power
Links I Liked
Duncan Green, strategic adviser for Oxfam GB

David F. Ruccio — “Don’t class warfare me”

Don't celebrate the recent expansion yet. The economic numbers look good — until adjusted for inflation.

The real wage is falling. Workers are becoming worse off economically in real terms even with nominal wages improving somewhat but not substantially. They falling further behind than they were before the expansion in terms of purchasing power.

Occasional Links & Commentary
“Don’t class warfare me”
David F. Ruccio | Professor of Economics, University of Notre Dame

Alex Gray — What you need to know about the world's young people, in 7 charts

Every year on August 12, the United Nations celebrates International Youth Day.

It’s a chance to recognize the potential of young people to change the world for the better, and to highlight the challenges and problems they face.
World Economic Forum
Laurent Belsie

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Bill Mitchell — MMT is just plain old bad economics – Part 2

I am surprised at the hostility that Part 1 in this series created. I have received a lot of E-mails about it, many of which contained just a few words, the most recurring being Turkey! One character obviously needed to improve his/her spelling given that they thought it was appropriate to write along the lines that I should just ‘F*ck off to Terkey’. Apparently Turkey has become the new poster child to ‘prove’ Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) wrong. Good try! I also note the Twitterverse has been alight with attention seekers berating me for daring to comment on the sort of advice British Labour is receiving. Well here is Part 2. And because you all liked it so much, the series has been extended into a three-part series because there is a lot of detail to work through. Today, I revisit the fiscal rule issue, which is a necessary step in refuting the claim that MMT policy prescriptions (whatever they might be) will drive the British pound into worthless oblivion. And, you know what? If you don’t like what I write and make available publicly without charge, then you have an easy option – don’t read it. How easy is that? Today, I confirm that despite attempts by some to reconstruct Labour’s Fiscal Rule as being the exemplar of progressive policy making, its roots are core neoclassical economics (which in popular parlance makes it neoliberal) and it creates a dependence on an ever increasing accumulation of private debt to sustain growth. Far from solving a non-existent ‘deficit-bias’ it creates a private debt bias. Not something a Labour government or any progressive government should aspire to....
Bill Mitchell – billy blog
MMT is just plain old bad economics – Part 2
Bill Mitchell | Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), at University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia

Ryan Zielonka — The World According to Realism

Useful backgrounder on international relations and the different schools of thought in the US, particuarly liberal internationalism, neoconservatism and realism. 

The World According to Realism
Ryan Zielonka is an independent consultant and incoming PhD student at the University of Washington

Paul Antonopoulos — Turkey to Ditch U.S Dollar in Trade, Urges Europe to Follow Suit

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday that his country is ready to trade with partner nations using national currencies.
“We are preparing to carry out trade in national currencies with China, Russia, Iran, and Ukraine, which account for the bulk of bilateral trade. If European countries want to get rid of the pressure of the dollar, we are ready to create a similar system with them,” said the Turkish leader during a meeting in the Turkish city of Rize.
Fort Russ
Turkey to Ditch U.S Dollar in Trade, Urges Europe to Follow Suit
Paul Antonopoulos

See also

Geopolitics Alert
The Real Reasons why US-Turkey Relations Have Hit an All-Time Low
Jim Carey

Russia will also have more settlement in roubles and other currencies, such as the euro, than in dollars, Siluanov said.
Russia says will ditch U.S. securities amid sanctions: RIA

See also

Sputnik International
US Dollar Becoming Risky Instrument For Int'l Payments – Russian Minister


Zero Hedge
Russia Finance Minister: We May Abandon Dollar In Oil Trade As It Is Becoming "Too Risky"

Peter Kinderman — Six 'Psychological' Terms That Psychologists Never Use

It's short but if you don't choose to read it all, at least read the last one, "brainwashing."

The Conversation
Six 'Psychological' Terms That Psychologists Never Use
Peter Kinderman | Professor of Clinical Psychology, University of Liverpool

Brian Romanchuk — Why Is A Positive Inflation Rate A Good Thing?

One of the questions that often comes up in economic discussions is: why is a positive inflation rate seen as a good thing? There are a few angles to this question, which makes it somewhat more complex. I am somewhat ambivalent on the subject, but I believe the best answer lies in the area of political economy, not economic theory.…
Bond Economics
Why Is A Positive Inflation Rate A Good Thing?Brian Romanchuk

Lars P. Syll — Money in perspective

Keeper Keynes quote.

The reference is "Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren," Section II, in John Maynard Keynes, Essays in Persuasion, New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1963, pp. 358-373.

Lars P. Syll’s Blog
Money in perspective
Lars P. Syll | Professor, Malmo University

See also

Ideological through and through, because economics is joined at the hip with political economy, and, in fact, used to be called political economy. Political economic is, of course, joined at the hip with politics and politics is about power, hence, class structure and power. This implies that policy is an area that is deeply ideological and value-laden, and political economy informs and influences policy. Ergo, politics and and the disagreements over politics are largely values-based, hence ideological.

"It's the assumptions, stupid." And the assumptions are based on normative presumptions.

So much for value-free economics

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Caitlin Johnstone — If There Were No Official Narratives?

Whoever controls the narrative controls the world. The world is better off being controlled by the collective will of the people rather than the will of a few sociopathic oligarchs, and we absolutely have the ability to take that control by force whenever we want to. All we have to do is shift value and credibility from plutocrat-generated narratives to popular collective narratives, and cultivate an aggressive disgust for all attempts by the powerful to manipulate the public dialogue.
Once the way people think, act and vote is no longer manipulated by an elite class which does not represent the interests of humanity, our species will have a fighting chance at moving society out of its patterns of exploitation, war and ecocide and into a direction of health, harmony and thriving. I’m just going to keep pointing out that this is always an option, hoping for a spark to catch someday....
Class struggle and consciousness-raising.

I am not suggesting that CJ is a Marxist or even a Marxian. For all I know, she may be even unaware of the parallel between what she is saying in the 21st century and what Marx wrote in the 19th century. Nor does one have to agree with Marx or even be aware of him to agree with her analysis of contemporary conditions.

Caitlin Johnstone — Rogue Journalist
What If There Were No Official Narratives?
Caitlin Johnstone