Friday, October 20, 2017

Pepe Escobar — Why Trump Has Gone Nuclear on Iran

Divide and Rule precedents point to Kissinger’s advice. He’s fully aware a frontal Washington attack against Russia or China – the strategic partnership at the heart of Eurasia integration – is a non-starter. The next best option is to raise trouble in their borderlands – North Korea is especially well positioned for it – and go after the weakest Eurasia link; Iran....
And then, there’s the devastating clincher. The absolute majority of the Global South now has definitive proof; Washington simply cannot be trusted to keep its promises related to any major geopolitical deal. The possibility of a nuclear agreement – or any agreement – between Washington and Pyongyang is now less than zero.
Why Trump Has Gone Nuclear on Iran
Pepe Escobar

See also
The Battle of Kirkuk lasted less than 24 hours. In a lightning – and mostly bloodless – offensive, the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) retook control of the North Oil Co. and North Gas Co. headquarters, the K1 military base, the Bai Hassan oil field, and two domes of the Kirkuk oil field on Monday.
Baghdad did what it had previously said it would do: reestablish federal authority over the key strategic assets of Kirkuk province, which had been controlled by the Kurdish Peshmerga since the 2014 Islamic State offensive.
But why did it take only 24 hours?... 
Interesting backgrounder.

Mike Whitney — John Brennan’s Police State USA

John Brennan in the spotlight again.
This is a deliberate mischaracterization of what Brennan was actually doing. He was spying on the members of the rival party to gain a political advantage. This is how police state operates.
Whatever the facts, and there are very few reliable facts based on evidence on the table so far, it's clear that Russiagate is political.
According to a recent CBS Poll, a majority of Americans (57%) now believe that “Russia tried to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.” In contrast, only 34 percent of Americans don’t believe there was any Russian interference in the 2016 elections.
What the numbers don’t explain, however, is how one’s own political ideology shapes the results. For example, 71 percent of Democrats believe that Russia interfered, while a mere 18 percent of Republicans agree. In other words, one’s own prejudices (about Trump and Russia) have a much greater impact on one’s opinion than either facts or evidence. Propaganda campaigns try to exploit public bias to effectively manipulate perceptions. The CBS polling data shows that they have succeeded in that regard.
Whitney sees trouble ahead.
The loosening of rules governing the dissemination of domestic propaganda (In 2013, Obama gutted the Smith Mundt Act “unleashing of thousands of hours per week of government-funded radio and TV programs for domestic U.S. consumption in a reform initially criticized as a green light for U.S. domestic propaganda efforts.” (Foreign Policy Magazine)
In 2016, Obama paved the way for more domestic propaganda by passing the Orwellian-named “Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act” as part of the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act. Ostensibly, the bill lays the groundwork for responding to “fake news” overseas, but in reality, it marks “a further curtailment of press freedom” and an ambitious attempt to suppress accurate, independent information.)
The loosening of rules governing the dissemination of domestic propaganda coupled with the extraordinary advances in surveillance technology, create the perfect conditions for the full implementation of an American police state.
But what is more concerning, is that the primary levers of state power are no longer controlled by elected officials but by factions within the state whose interests do not coincide with those of the American people. That can only lead to trouble.
John Brennan’s Police State USA
Mike Whitney

RT — NGO publishes names of 2,300+ RT guests, labels them ‘useful idiots who undermine Western democracy

Neo-McCarthyism flourishes.
An NGO called the European Values Think-Tank has published a report on RT featuring an extensive list of US and European public figures who have been accused of “undermining western democracy” just by appearing in RT shows.

The report, claiming to be an “overview of RT’s editorial strategy and evidence of impact,” comes with an Excel list of 2,327 people who have appeared on RT over the last four years. The names are carefully arranged in seven categories, including US politicians, UK politicians, European politicians and so on, and are arranged in alphabetical order. The list mentions the shows the guests appeared on, the total number of their appearances, and gives hyperlinks to all the relevant episodes.

The report states that appearing on the network is counterproductive and makes the guest a “useful idiot” to a “hostile foreign power.”Expressing one’s opinion on RT is considered by the NGO as equivalent to “complicity with the Russian propaganda machine.”
Although the list looks like a really thorough effort at cataloguing all of the RT guests, it’s got a number of strikingly weird blunders. For example, UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is there, but only the link attached leads to a satirical show featuring someone impersonating him. Meanwhile, US Senator John McCain’s daughter is mistaken for the senator himself and “Politicking with Larry King” is unexpectedly referred to as “Politicking with Larry David.
The report generally claims that RT is “an instrument of hostile foreign influence,” which has the sole purpose of “undermining public confidence in the viability of liberal democracy.”
It repeatedly discourages any public figures from potentially appearing on any of RT’s shows in the future, as those on the list are accused of boosting RT’s “credibility as a legitimate news network.”
De facto censorship instead of de jure.

NGO publishes names of 2,300+ RT guests, labels them ‘useful idiots who undermine Western democracy

Leonid Bershidsky — A Russian Take on ‘The Americans’ Scares Moscow Liberals: The political conversation in Putin’s Russia increasingly revolves around cinematic versions of reality.

Another funny one. Russian cinema copies Hollywood in demonizing the adversary. Hollywood has been ding this for decades with ample assistance from the Pentagon and CIA.

Bloomberg View
A Russian Take on ‘The Americans’ Scares Moscow Liberals: The political conversation in Putin’s Russia increasingly revolves around cinematic versions of reality.
Leonid Bershidsky
US military intelligence agencies have influenced over 1,800 movies and TV shows

Documents expose how Hollywood promotes war on behalf of the Pentagon, CIA and NSA
Tom Secker and Matthew Alford

Paul Craig Roberts - The Atlantic Council: The Marketing Arm of the Military/Security Complex

PCR explains some of the shadowy practices of the Atlantic Council stirring up the Cold War to drive up arm sales in Europe for its Military-Industrial banking backers and then he ends with this:

Money corrupts everything, and it is capitalism that turns everything into a commodity that is bought and sold. In capitalist regimes everything is for sale: honor, integrity, justice, truth.
Everything is reduced to the filthy lucre. 

Paul Craig Roberts - The Atlantic Council: The Marketing Arm of the Military/Security Complex

What is the Atlantic Council? - Tony Cartalucci Atlantic Council: Is Libya a "Global Con?"

Some shocking stuff here. This report gives an insight into to shadowy world of NATO, the CIA the Atlantic Council, the big banks, and how the West supports international terrorism. 

The Atlantic Council claims to be a "preeminent, non partisan institution devoted to promoting transatlantic cooperation and international security." It is partnered with NATO and sponsored financially by some of Wall Street and London's largest, most powerful corporate-financier interests. These include many of the big oil interests poised to reap a whirlwind of profits over NATO-backed regime change in Libya, namely BP, Chevron, Exxon, and Shell. It also includes defense contractors already enriched by the protracted bloodshed in Northern Africa including Raytheon, BAE, SAAB Technologies, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Dynamics, and Northrop Grumman. Additionally, the world's largest banks and equity firms sponsor Atlantic Council, including Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Deutsche Bank, Barclays Capital, the Blackstone Group, Citigroup, and Credit Suisse Bank. There is also a tremendous amount of foundation support, each with a nefarious back-story worthy of their own thorough examination, including the Carnegie Corporation of New York , the Ford Foundation, and billionaire bankster George Soros' Open Society Institute.

As the depravity and duplicity of both NATO forces, overtly linked to Wall Street and London corporate-financier interests as illustrated via the Atlantic Council, and their terrorist proxies become more apparent throughout Libya, and now creeping over the Algerian border to breath new life into another notorious Al Qaeda-linked organization, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), NATO and the vast media empire supporting its agenda are seeking any and all diversions from their crumbling narrative. Lately accusations have been leveled against China for allegedly attempting to arm Qaddafi's forces after NATO operations began in March, 2011. While the West claims this is a "violation" of their self-contrived UN mandate prohibiting the arming of belligerents in the Libyan conflict, NATO members, most notably France and Qatar, have been openly supplying weapons to Libyan rebels in direct violation of this very mandate themselves.

The Land Destroyer Report

Tony Cartalucci Atlantic Council: Is Libya a "Global Con?"

The Saker — Re-Visiting Russian Counter-Propaganda Method

In May of 2016 I wrote an article for the Unz Review entitled “Counter-Propaganda, Russian Style” in which I tried to show the immense difference between the old, Soviet, approach to propaganda and counter-propaganda and the approach taken by the Russian authorities today. The main difference was this: if the Soviet went out of their way to prevent western propaganda from reaching the Soviet people, the Russians are nowadays doing the exact opposite: they are going out of their way to make sure that western propaganda is immediately translated and beamed into every single Russian household. What I propose to do today is to share with you a few recent examples of what Russian households are regularly exposed to....
Good analysis.

The Unz Review
Re-Visiting Russian Counter-Propaganda Method
The Saker

RussiaFeed — Vladimir Putin SLAMS the US for its past, present and likely future

Previously, Putin has generally sounded conciliatory. Now the gloves are coming off?
Russian President Vladimir Putin has offered one of his most wide reaching criticisms of the United States to-date, during his Q and A session at the Valdai Discussion Club in Sochi.
Putin described a worsening Moscow-Washington relationship that dates back to the 1990s when an ‘untrustworthy’ west took advantage of Russia’s weak leadership in the age of Yeltsin, Gaidar and Chubais....
“Our biggest mistake was that we trusted you too much. You interpreted our trust as weakness and you exploited that… 
What we got in return is well-known: a complete disregard for our national interests, support for separatism in the Caucasus, a circumvention of the United Nations Security Council, the bombing of Yugoslavia, the invasion of Iraq, and so on. The US must have seen the state of our nuclear weapons and economy and decided to do away with international law”. 
He continued,
“They started to openly interfere in the sovereign affairs of countries and to export democracy in the same way as in their time the Soviet leadership tried to export the Socialist revolution to the whole world”....
The Russian President then turned to the subject of weapons reductions, stating that because the US refuses to engage in proper treaties on the matter, Russia has had to act unilaterally to disarm. Russia recently destroyed its last chemical weapons stocks while the US refused to do the same. President Putin described the phenomenon in the following way,
“We destroyed everything, and then our American partners said – ‘Not yet, we don’t have money.’ So, they have a dollar printing press, yet they don’t have money. But we, on the other hand, do?”...
Vladimir Putin SLAMS the US for its past, present and likely future

RT — Top Russian senator expects US will exert ‘unprecedented pressure’ to influence Russian presidential polls

The other side of the story.
The Chair of Russia’s Foreign Affairs Committee expects that the US will seek to influence the country’s presidential election next year, saying Washington will only settle for victory by a pro-Western candidate.
“The United States recognizes elections as fair and democratic only when they are won by pro-western candidates,” Senator Konstantin Kosachev wrote on his Facebook page on Friday.
“In the case of any other outcome, election procedures and results are anathema to them,” he added.
“Judging by the increasing demagogy about alleged Russian interference [in US polls], they have already started their ‘artillery raid’ ahead of the Russian presidential elections. It is likely that the scale of pressure there will be unprecedented.”
Kosachev posted the comments in response to a statement by US Chief Envoy Nikki Haley on Thursday, in which she accused the Russian Government of meddling in US politics and politics across the world.
"When a country can come and interfere in another country's elections, that is warfare," Haley said.
"The Russian Government has made a project of turning Americans against each other," she stated, according to Reuters.
Kosachev continued his response by saying that he felt bewildered that such statements were being made by an official representative of a nation that has the strongest economy and most powerful military in the world.
He noted that, according to its own data, the US interfered in the election processes of foreign nations 81 times between 1946 and 2000.
“This number does not include their special operations and military coups that took place in countries that elected candidates who the United States was not content with, such as Iran, Congo, Chile and Guatemala,” wrote the Senator.
“More than that, as demonstrated by the Arab Spring and pro-Western revolutions in post-Soviet states, interfering with the political processes of other nations is the main tool by which the US maintains its international influence.
This has followed military experiments that were clearly unsuccessful, such as the Iraq campaign, with Colin Powell’s infamous vial used as an excuse.”
Last June, Russian President Vladimir Putin accused the US of repeated and aggressive meddling in Russian politics through US diplomatic staff and NGOs.
“[It happened] in 2000 and in 2012, this always happened. But especially aggressively in 2012,” Putin said in an interview with US filmmaker Oliver Stone.
Putin used the example of US diplomatic workers, who had actually campaigned for the Russian opposition.
“They gathered opposition forces and financed them, and went to opposition rallies,” he noted, adding that he had raised this issue with members of the past administration, including former US President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State John Kerry.
Top senator expects US will exert ‘unprecedented pressure’ to influence Russian presidential polls

Cass R. Sunstein — Russia Is Using Marxist Strategies, and So Is Trump

Samantha Powers' husband goes off his rocker too, assuming he believes what he says rather than just putting out straight up propaganda. Have a good laugh. Red-baiting is bad and POTUS is one of the objects of it, along with Volodya of course.

Russia Is Using Marxist Strategies, and So Is Trump
Cass R. Sunstein | Robert Walmsley University Professor at Harvard Law School

Gordon M. Hahn — Explaining the Failed Expectations of Russian Regime Change, Part 1: Rusological Apocalypticism Versus Social Science

This article is the first in a trilogy examining how the West’s biases and wishful thinking have led to unrealistic and unmet expectations of imminent regime collapse in Russia.
I follow this stuff and am gobsmacked at how Western liberal "experts" generalize their own worldview in analysis. It's not only Russia, but everything, and it is not only political and military analysts, but included most experts on just a bout everything.

This is a consequence of assuming that liberalism is the natural state of humanity so that spreading "freedom" will result in liberal utopia, like they enjoy in their bubble. Which is just bonkers. The result? Living in la-la land. "The Iraqis will greet us with flowers."

Hahn's own analysis is not completely above this either, since he takes a sociological approach involving generality. However, all countries are different for historical, geographical, cultural and institutional reasons. Failing to analyze specific case based on understanding these factors will lead to overgeneralization and also be subject to cognitive-affective bias owing to the frame imposed.

Even Russians don't pretend to understand "the Russian soul." Or better, Russians especially don't rationalize their temperament, which is heavily non-rational in the sense of "mystical." Analyzing Russia and Russian based on Western concepts of "rationality" is bound to fail. China and Chinese, Indians and India, etc. even more so since Russia is at least partly in the Western tradition owing to its connection with Byzantium through Russian Orthodoxy and Tsar Peter's Westernization. But the Russia Federation is Eurasian rather than European.

Gordon M. Hahn
Explaining the Failed Expectations of Russian Regime Change, Part 1: Rusological Apocalypticism Versus Social Science
Gordon M. Hahn, Ph.D., | Analyst at Geostrategic Forecasting Corporation (Chicago), member of the Executive Advisory Board at the American Institute of Geostrategy (AIGEO) (Los Angeles), and Senior Researcher at the Center for Terrorism and Intelligence Studies (CETIS), Akribis Group, San Jose, California

Jonathan Turley — Study: Pollution Kills More People Than War, Smoking, Hunger, and Other Causes of Death

We have previously discussed how environmental dangers remain something of an abstraction for most people who fail to recognize that changes in air or water pollution standards results in high and quantifiable rises in death rates. Even changes in areas like shipping fuels can translate to thousands of deaths. However, since these deaths are not immediate and borne privately, the true costs of pollution are often dismissed. I have been highly critical of the environmental record of the Trump Administration for this reason in rolling back on protections in a variety of areas as well as appointing regulators with anti-environmental record.
Now a new major study has found that environmental pollution kills more people every year that all of the wars. It exceeds the death tolls for smoking, hunger or natural disasters combined. It kills more than AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined. Yet, unlike these causes of death, pollution remains a policy concern that is often pushed to the side for more immediate goals like job creation. This is not to say that environmental protection would trump all other concerns but rather the real costs of such pollution are rarely discussed in real terms of premature deaths by politicians.
The study in the respected Lancet medical journal found that one out of every six premature deaths in the world in 2015 was caused by toxic exposure. That amounts to 9 million people who died prematurely due to pollution. The study also found that the cost of the resulting illnesses and deaths amounted to some $4.6 trillion in annual losses.
Worse yet, the 9 million deaths from pollution appears a highly conservative estimate since it relied on only limited data on specific measurable cases of deaths and illnesses. The actual number is likely much higher. Moreover, only half of the 5000 news chemicals introduced since 1950 have actually been fully tested for their toxicity....
Jonathan Turley
Study: Pollution Kills More People Than War, Smoking, Hunger, and Other Causes of DeathJonathan Turley | Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Publius Tacitus — America, Desperately Seeking An Enemy

Sone who has been around the block tells like it is.

Sic Semper Tyrannis
America, Desperately Seeking An Enemy
Publius Tacitus

RussiaFeed — Vladimir Putin mentor’s daughter, ‘Russia’s Paris Hilton’ to run for president

Russian jet setter, TV personality, glossy magazine editor and all-around It-girl-turned opposition figure Ksenia Sobchak, 35, has officially announced her decision to run for the presidency in the 2018 election.

Running as an independent, Sobchak generally has a love-hate relationship with the Russian audience. Having been on the country’s pop culture scene for many years, she has hosted one of the most popular reality TV shows, is a frequent guest at international VIP celebrity parties, has modeled for Playboy and is now editor-in-chief of L’Officiel Russia.
In a recent interview with Glamour Russia, Sobchak called being president “a top level art project,” adding that she thinks her career in showbiz would help in her political bid.
Sobchak also hosts an interview show on the Dozhd (Rain) TV channel, and in 2012 joined the opposition movement, having taken part in the Bolotnaya Square protests in central Moscow.
Ksenia’s late father, Anatoly Sobchak, was a famous Russian politician, the first democratically elected mayor of St. Petersburg in the 1990s. Vladimir Putin joined Sobchak’s team in 1990, and worked closely with the politician, who is widely considered to be his mentor....

Bryan McDonald —20,000 Nazis March in Kiev. The Western Media Somehow Fails to Notice.

"So, we had a major Nazi gathering in a European capital and the only English language sources that show up in a Google News search are from RT, Sputnik, The Nation and a half-hearted seven-sentence ‘report’ by US state broadcaster RFE/RL, which meekly describes them as mere 'nationalists.'  That means there is nothing from CNN, the Guardian, the New York Times, Washington Post or the BBC, among the usual suspects who make every little protest in Russia headline news....
The silence is deafening.

Bryan McDonald

Reuters — U.S. envoy Haley: Russia interference in elections is 'warfare'

Ratcheting up.
“When a country can come interfere in another country’s elections that is warfare. It really is, because you’re making sure that the democracy shifts from what the people want,” she said. “This is their new weapon of choice and we have to get in front of it.”
Either Haley is a moron, or the level of hypocrisy is incredible, or maybe some combination.

Where has the US not interfered with elections, tried to influence them, or overturn their outcome or alt least tried to do, sometimes though a coup?

U.S. envoy Haley: Russia interference in elections is 'warfare'

Taking a page from HRC's playbook. Actually, it is SOP for the defeated in banana republics to cry fraud. HRC is the first to do it in a developed country like the US, and after she accused DJT of planning to do this when she beat him, calling it unpatriotic.

Leaders of Venezuela's bruised opposition to travel abroad to denounce 'voting fraud'
Alexandra Ulmer, Corina Pons

Michael Hudson: Socialism, Land and Banking: 2017 Compared to 1917

Socialism a century ago seemed to be the wave of the future. There were various schools of socialism, but the common ideal was to guarantee support for basic needs, and for state ownership to free society from landlords, predatory banking and monopolies. In the West these hopes are now much further away than they seemed in 1917. Land and natural resources, basic infrastructure monopolies, health care and pensions have been increasingly privatized and financialized.
Instead of Germany and other advanced industrial nations leading the way as expected, Russia’s October 1917 Revolution made the greatest leap. But the failures of Stalinism became an argument against Marxism – guilt-by-association with Soviet bureaucracy. European parties calling themselves socialist or “labour” since the 1980s have supported neoliberal policies that are the opposite of socialist policy. Russia itself has chosen neoliberalism.
Few socialist parties or theorists have dealt with the rise of the Finance, Insurance and Real Estate (FIRE) sector that now accounts for most increase in wealth. Instead of evolving into socialism, Western capitalism is being overcome by predatory finance and rent extraction imposing debt deflation and austerity on industry as well as on labor.
Failure of Western economies to recover from the 2008 crisis is leading to a revival of Marxist advocacy. The alternative to socialist reform is stagnation and a relapse into neofeudal financial and monopoly privileges....
Neoliberalism is not working. Socialist resurgence, or something else?

Useful background and history lesson.

Michael Hudson at some of his best.

Naked Capitalism
Socialism, Land and Banking: 2017 Compared to 1917
Michael Hudson | President of The Institute for the Study of Long-Term Economic Trends (ISLET), and Distinguished Research Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri, Kansas City
Crossposted at Vineyard of the Saker and SouthFront

CIA Urges Trump to Delay Release of 3,000 Never-Before-Seen Documents on Assassination of John F. Kenned

More than 3,000 never-before-seen documents from the FBI, CIA, and Justice Department on the assassination of John F. Kennedy are scheduled be released, with many experts fearing that such a large release of secret JFK assassination documents will spur “a new generation of conspiracy theories.”
According to Roger Stone, the CIA is urging President Donald Trump to delay disclosing some of the files for another 25 years.
Roger Stone said in a post on his website…
“They must reflect badly on the CIA even though virtually everyone involved is long dead.”

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega at 80% Approval Rating: Poll

The ruling Sandinista National Liberation Front is ahead in polls for the upcoming municipal elections.
President Daniel Ortega has an almost 80 percent approval rating among Nicaraguans and his party is ahead in polls for the Nov. 5 elections that will elect mayors across the country, according to a recent survey.
Some 77.5 percent say that President Ortega has led Nicaragua correctly, while 77.8 percent said the Sandinista National Liberation Front government gives them hope, according to a recent poll by Consultora M&R published Wednesday.
The poll also showed that 78.6 percent of the people believe the current government works for the benefit of the population.
The report added that 71.5 percent consider the government “democratic” and “that it complies with the laws” and 79.1 percent said that it brings “unity and reconciliation” to the Central American nation.
According to the poll, the ruling Sandinistas have a 57.5 percent approval, while the opposition parties received 6.3 percent. Another 36.2 percent declared themselves independent.
The poll also asked citizens to outline life priorities. Health received the number one spot, with 91 percent, followed by work with 76.8 percent, housing at 70.1 percent, and economic welfare with 60 percent.
The poll was conducted from Sept. 28 through Oct. 11 in 15 departments and two autonomous regions of Nicaragua, with a margin of error of 2.5 percent and 95 percent reliability.

Jason Smith — In the right frame, economies radically simplify

More thoughts on economic methodology. First a framework is needed and then theories can be constructed and tested in that framework. The simplest frame and most economical theory that explains the data sufficiently to be useful is preferred.

A framework involving complexity is not necessarily better than one that doesn't as long as it gets the job done.

Smith observes that theories constructed within the conventional framework that conventional economists presume is not getting the job of explanation and prediction done very well.

He cautions that this doesn't necessarily mean that a more complex framework is better at explanation (formal theoretical model) and prediction (empirical testing of the model against adequate data).
The dynamic equilibrium frame [of Smith's information transfer economics] not only radically simplifies the description of the data, but radically reduces the information content of the data.... 
This is all to say the dynamic equilibrium model bounds the relevant complexity of macroeconomic models. I've discussed this before here, but that was in the context of a particular effect. The dynamic equilibrium frame bounds the relevant complexity of all possible macroeconomic models. If a model is more complex than the dynamic equilibrium model, then it has to perform better empirically (with a smaller error, or encompass more variables with roughly the same error). More complex models should also reduce to the dynamic equilibrium model in some limit if only because the dynamic equilibrium model describes the data.
This would suggest that the methodological debate in economics is not over, as conventional economists claim.

Information Transfer Economics
In the right frame, economies radically simplify
Jason Smith

Positive Money - Out Of The Darkness (Enhanced Audio)

Martin Wolf says there will be a big financial crash in five years time especially as the US is weakening its financial regulations. He says how the 2008 crash was the worst in history where the economy was only saved by a massive bail out from governments, but the next crash will be even worse.

Ed balls is a classic neoliberal who says that the less government gets involved in the economy the better (except, of course, when bailing out his buddies in the One Percent with their banks).

Thought Fran Boait of Positive Money would be a bit overwhelmed by the two heavyweights, Martin Wolf and Ed Balls,  but she just comes straight out with it and says neoliberalism doesn't work while the rich are still getting richer while everyone else is getting poorer.

Paul Craig Roberts - Markets Fall When Dollar Falls

Quite an interesting interview.  The role of central banks is to support the big banks not the economy, says PCR, while the big banks are just gambling rather than investing in businesses. He says how it makes no sense for companies to incur debts in order to buy back their own shares which weakens them. He wonders whether if the central banks can keep the financial system afloat indefinably by printing money.

Asia Unhedged — PBOC ‘Minsky moment’ comments blown out of proportion

CNBC cobbled together a video using reporting from Reuters, set to a somewhat ominous driving baseline, which began with the words “China’s economy may be in trouble.” The content of the video went on to imply that Zhou Xiaochuan said just that, in stark contrast to the confidence other Chinese leaders are espousing.
In fact, Zhou’s words align with the central leadership’s consistent calls for efforts to reign in financial risks and continue to push for deleveraging. And the rising household debt? It still pales in comparison to what is seen in other countries, Zhou merely said that China should watch this to avoid running into a problem that China still has no need to worry about.

Edward Harrison — Crony capitalism and redistribution

What Ed Harrison call "crony capitalism" is a feature of neoliberalism as government capture that favors special interests. "Crony capitalism" is an egregious example of the underlying assumption that capital formation should be favored over other factors in the interest of growth, based on the further assumption of trickle down. This results in upward distribution and growing inequality of income and wealth, which eventually leads to social dysfunctionality.

Credit Writedowns
Crony capitalism and redistribution
Edward Harrison


Be sure to follow the link in the P.S. in the post below.

The one data you should follow to know if the US expansion is in good shape

David F. Ruccio — Laughter is the best medicine

So what are the problems according to Blanchard and Summers? In their view, “the events of the last ten years have put into question the presumption that economies are self stabilizing, have raised again the issue of whether temporary shocks can have permanent effects, and have shown the importance of non linearities.”
Only mainstream macroeconomists could possibly have thought that capitalism is self stabilizing. The rest of us—who have read Marx and Keynes as well as the work of Robert Clower, Hyman Minsky, and Axel Leijonhufvud—actually knew something about the roots of capitalist instability: the various ways a monetary commodity-producing economy might (but not necessarily) generate imbalances and instabilities based on the normal workings of the system.
Yes, of course, temporary shocks can have permanent effects. How could they not, when tens of millions of people are thrown out of work and, especially in the wake of the most recent crash, inequality has soared to new heights?
And then there are those “non linearities,” the idea that financial crises are characterized by feedback effects such that shocks, even small ones, “are strongly amplified rather than damped as they propagate.” Bank runs are the quintessential example—whether customers demanding their deposits in the first Great Depression or the run on financial institutions (including insurance companies that issued credit default swaps) that occurred in the midst of the second Great Depression. But that’s not all: when corporations, facing a declining profit rate, choose to sell but not purchase, they make individually rational decisions that can have large-scale social ramifications—for workers, indebted households, and other corporations (on both Main Street and Wall Street).
So mainstream macroeconomists appear to be waking up from their slumber and seeing capitalism as it is—and as it has functioned for 150 years or so.
Moreover, the reason that conventional economists are concerned is not economics but politics. Capitalism is not working and the result is social dysfunction that is creating a political backlash against not only politicians but also economists. I suspect that if this were not happening, everything would be just fine. Even so, they are not actually questioning basic assumptions, the adverse consequences of which heterodox economists and political theorists have pointed out from many different angles.

Occasional Links & Commentary
Laughter is the best medicine
David F. Ruccio | Professor of Economics, University of Notre Dame

See also
The real sea change is the third one -- the reconsideration of what recessions really are. Most modern econ theories posit that recessions arrive randomly, instead of as the result of pressures that build up over time. And they assume that recessions are short-lived affairs that go away of their own accord. If these assumptions are wrong, then most of the theories written down in macroeconomics journals over the past several decades -- and most of those being written as we speak -- are of questionable usefulness....
Bloomberg View
Fixing Macroeconomics Will Be Really Hard
Noah Smith, columnist

Áine Cain — Steve Jobs and Jeff Bezos' mentor used a simple test to figure out who is a true leader

According to the late Bill Campbell, who established a reputation as the "coach" of Silicon Valley, only one thing determines whether or not you're a leader: the opinions of those you're supposed to be leading.…

[Former Apple CEO John] Sculley shared one of the best pieces of advice Campbell ever gave him: "Your title makes you a manager. Your people will decide if you're a leader, and it's up to you to live up to that."...
"Basically, how you make that happen is if you believe that leadership is not about putting greatness into people, leadership is about recognizing that there's a greatness in everyone and your job is to create an environment where that greatness can emerge," [Current Intuit CEO Brad] Smith told Business Insider....
How do political leaders stack up? Polls are one indication, but generally polls don't measure intensity.

Business Insider
Steve Jobs and Jeff Bezos' mentor used a simple test to figure out who is a true leader
Áine Cain

Reuters — China's central bank Anticipates a "Minsky moment."

Hyman Minsky goes to China.
China will fend off risks from excessive optimism that could lead to a "Minsky Moment", central bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan said on Thursday, adding that corporate debt levels are relatively high and household debt is rising too quickly.
A Minsky Moment is a sudden collapse of asset prices after a long period of growth, sparked by debt or currency pressures. The theory is named after economist Hyman Minsky....

"If there are too many pro-cyclical factors in the economy, cyclical fluctuations are magnified and there is excessive optimism during the period, accumulating contradictions that could lead to the so-called Minsky Moment," Zhou was speaking on the sidelines of China's 19th Communist Party congress.
"We should focus on preventing a dramatic adjustment," he said. China will control risks from sudden adjustments to asset bubbles and will seriously deal with disguised debt of local government financing vehicles, Zhou said....
China's central bank just warned of a sudden collapse in asset prices

Sarah K. Burris — Former CIA director says it’s ‘implausible’ that Russians didn’t meddle in our election without American help

John Brennan doubles down and insinuates that some connected with Trump colluded with "the Russians" in the "fake news" campaign that purportedly cost HRC the election, since "the Russians" would have need direction about targeting vulnerable states.

Reaching for straws.

Raw Story
Former CIA director says it’s ‘implausible’ that Russians didn’t meddle in our election without American help
Sarah K. Burris

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Defending and extending the periphery

Defending the periphery of the empire while also attempting to extend it.

U.S. Says Syrian Government Will Never Have Foothold In Raqqa, Acccuses Damascus & Allies Of Hindering Efforts To Liberate City

Netanyahu says Israel won't tolerate Iran presence in Syria

Robert Parry — Blaming Russia for the Internet ‘Sewer’

Even former Clinton political strategist Mark Penn has acknowledged the absurdity of thinking that such piddling amounts could have any impact on a $2.4 billion presidential campaign, plus all the billions of dollars worth of free-media attention to the conventions, debates, etc. Based on what’s known about the Facebook ads, Penn calculated that “the actual electioneering [in battleground states] amounts to about $6,500.”
In a Wall Street Journal op-ed on Monday, Penn added, “I have 40 years of experience in politics, and this Russian ad buy mostly after the election anyway, simply does not add up to a carefully targeted campaign to move voters. It takes tens of millions of dollars to deliver meaningful messages to the contested portion of the electorate.”
When you loose even Mark Penn.…

Consortium News
Blaming Russia for the Internet ‘Sewer’
Robert Parry