Sunday, March 24, 2019

Caitlin Johnstone - Russiagate Skeptics Rightly Boast About Being Proven 100% Correct

Egg on face! 
I wonder if the Guardian will still remove my posts when I tell them it was liberal conspiracy theory. 
Russiagate is looking like this generation’s WMD - a catastrophe for the reputation of the news media:
— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) March 23, 2019
Caitlin Johnstone
There is nothing more epic than a Youtube video by Jimmy Dore immediately after he has been proven right about something. It's thunderous. It's unequivocal. And it happens a lot.
"Now, I've gotten Russiagate right here," Dore said in a new videofollowing revelations about the finalized Mueller report that there will be no further indictments, leaving the grand total of Americans charged with Russian conspiracy at exactly zero.
"I did that in my garage," Dore added. "Those other stations didn't do that. Not because they don't have the resources I have. They did that 'cause they didn't want to. They did that 'cause they weren't interested in the truth. They did that because what they wanted to do was fuckin' get Donald Trump so bad they were willing to turn off their critical thinking skills and just listen to their lizard brains. And they wrecked America in the process. And we stood up against it, and we got smeared for standing up against it, and we still get smeared."
Caitlin Johnstone 
Jimmy Dore - 

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Wray, Dantas, Fullwiler, Tcherneva and Kelton — Public Service Employment-A Path To Full Employment

Now that MMT is going mainstream, the MMT version of a universal permanent job guarantee that pays a living wage is under scrutiny. Here is an April 2018 presentation on the MMT JG proposal by some of the American MMT economists that clarifies the MMT position.

Key government spending for public purpose falls into important categories, including 1) public service employment, 2) public investment and 3) public welfare (different from "welfare" as transfers). The first and second are about production, that is, generating supply, although some of the income involved also goes toward increasing consumption. The third is mostly about increasing consumption, that is, demand.

Public service employment involves increasing both production/supply through work and consumption/demand through incomes paid to workers. The argument is often heard that "government work" is not productive because "it doesn't make anything." That is to say, the output of work does not increase supply of consumer goods. This objection is rather irrelevant in a consumption-led economy where service work is predominant. Overall productivity is sufficient to meet demand. The increased demand would be supplied by increased investment to meet it.

Where the problem of a mismatch between supply and demand is likely to occur is in extending health care and education to all. This would require increased supply, which could be addressed through increased public investment. However, there could be supply bottlenecks in the interim from passage of the programs to scaled-up facilities.

National defense is another key category. Production and consumption resulting from this category are limited to the category itself. It diverts real resources that would otherwise be available to the economy to use for national security. The incomes involved increase consumption, that is, demand, in the economy.

A job guarantee doesn't exist in isolation from public policy as a whole and it needs to be discussed in  terms of the whole. This requires a public policy vision, which thus far seems to be lacking, or at least is inchoate and needs developing. This will require addressing tradeoffs. It is unlikely that the US can continue to the status quo and simply add desirable programs. Changes will be necessary, especially in incorporating a Green New Deal (GND). This has been inadequately addressed thus far. The GND is chiefly an engineering problem rather than an economic one, and it is international in scope since a global solution is required to address the emergent challenges.

Levy Institute
Public Service Employment-A Path To Full Employment (PDF)
L. Randall Wray, Flavia Dantas, Scott Fullwiler, Pavlina R. Tcherneva, and Stephanie A. Kelton

TRNN - Bill Black: Billions From Deutsche Bank Despite Trump’s Bankruptcies, Defaults, and Financial Malfeasance

Trump is a crook, says Bill Black, who conned so many American banks that they refused to deal with him anymore, and so he went to Deutsche Bank instead, the most crooked bank in the world.

Bill Black says that the managers at Deutsche Bank were happy to deal with Trump even if he did run the risk of destroying their bank because they would have made off with massive bonuses by then. They also probably thought the German government would bail them out no matter what as they were TBTF. But now they are trying to merge with another large bank to become even bigger.

BILL BLACK: It is possible, but it’s certainly not possible under Trump. So it isn’t so much the rules, it’s the people that enforce the rules. And Trump is not simply a fraud and a corrupt fraud, he is running a government of crooks. His cabinet level, his sub-cabinet levels and such, these are disproportionate… Look, the easiest prediction I ever made as a criminologist was that the Trump administration will be the most corrupt administration in the history of the United States. So we can put all the rules in place, but as long as Trump puts these. Clowns and thieves in charge, they are not going to enforce the rules. So again, they simply have to be defeated at the polls.

BILL BLACK: Yeah. I mean, the folks who actually provide capital have tended to be associate kleptocrats and the worst of the Middle Eastern states where they have their investment funds put money in to these massive banks. So this is not good on multi dimensions for the world. But what it’s meant, as I said, is because of Germany’s political power and because Deutsche Bank is so weak, it has frustrated efforts across all of Europe to increase capital. And now, again, even as we speak, the Trump administration, by the way with the aid of chosen by Democrats, which is to say Schumer, is voting to cut capital requirements for even huge banks. Now, they desperately need higher capital requirements and they’re doing exactly the opposite.

BILL BLACK: That means that your salary depends on how many loans you make at what interest rates and such. And so, Donald Trump, you could make large amounts of loans. Now, those loans are going to default eventually, but the bank doesn’t recapture, we call it clawback, the bonuses it paid to you. So as an officer, you’re making a ton of money. And this wasn’t one division of Deutsche Bank, this was three different divisions of Deutsche Bank that Trump ripped off. So one was the commercial real estate, another was the investment banking outfit, and the third is private banking, which is a euphemism for handling the money of the super-duper wealthy type. And the greatest act of chutzpah is he actually went to one of these units and said, “Give me a loan and I’ll use it to pay off my debts to your other unit.”.

Frank Ashe — A Kindergarten Guide To Modern Monetary Theory

This is a paper presented to the Institute of Actuaries of Australia in May, 2010. It is s simplified introduction to MMT by someone that understands accounting and its institutional foundations.

Now that MMT is going mainstream it is a good place for many who are curious about it to start.

Pass it on.
My particular interest in this particular theory is due to the very simple nature of its assumptions and the clarity of its logic – essentially looking at the consequences of a stock/flow consistent analysis of money and credit.
One important point that flows from this analysis is a recognition that most of the current discussion on the topic of money, credit, and the government sector finances has a language that comes from the gold standard era of money. Most economies have been in a fiat money system since the mid 1970s – it’s time to move the discussion onto the proper footing.
As part of this, I’ve noticed it is easy to become confused between the boundary line demarcating (i) and (ii) and the boundary line demarcating (ii) and (iii) where:
(i) what is easily accomplished using the current economic institutions, widely interpreted as: laws on budgetary outcomes; notional independence of central banks; presentation and discussion of government finances; imagined reactions of bond markets etc i.e. the self-imposed constraints under which a government manages the economy;
(ii) what is actually happening under a fiat money system;
(iii) what is not allowed under a fiat money system.
In discussion with various people I have found this confusion to be very difficult to overcome. The self-imposed constraints have so muddied the stream of discourse that it is difficult to see what is happening beneath the surface.

The following classroom discussion looks at the basic flows of a fiat money system....
Institute of Actuaries of Australia
A Kindergarten Guide to Modern Monetary Theory (PDF)
Frank Ashe

Friday, March 22, 2019

Matt Davis — Remembering when bankers tried to overthrow FDR and install a fascist dictator

One of the bankers was Prescott Bush, later senator from Connecticut, father of President G. W. H. Bush, and grandfather of President G. W. Bush. The whistleblower was Maj. Gen. Smedley Butler.

Big Think
Remembering when bankers tried to overthrow FDR and install a fascist dictator
Matt Davis

Ramanan — Gerald Epstein’s Critique Of Neochartalism

Gerald Epstein and V. Ramanan bring up potential objections to the MMT position based on the international financial situation, an issue that Wynne Godley had pointed out previously.

Ramanan has brought up questions around balance of payments issues in the past as well.
Now this may sound as a pessimistic view for any individual nation or the world as a whole. The real problem is free trade – the most sacred tenet of the economics profession.
Another paradox of (bourgeois) liberalism, where economic liberalism implies "free markets, free trade, and free capital flows"as foundational to contemporary capitalism as the global socio-economic system?

The broader question is whether MMT successfully addresses the shortcomings of capitalism to the point of making bourgeois liberalism workable satisfactorily without resulting in social, political or economic dysfunction owing to its structural and functional dynamics as a system.

There are always tradeoffs with choices. Crafting a perfect systems is likely beyond human capacity, especially owing to emergence in complex adaptive systems. But we should be vigilant about the potential for things going wrong. In addition, economics is only an aspect of a highly complex system that involves much more than economics and finance. Economic issues are not the only important ones, or even the most important ones.

The Case for Concerted Action
Gerald Epstein’s Critique Of Neochartalism

V. Ramanan

See also from Ramanan

Are the countries that benefit from the institutional construction of the system using their power and influence to prevent reform of the system so as to make it more balanced for countries not favored?

WikiLeaks Leak On Reforming The World Economic System

MarkGB - The reasons we go to war – who do you believe?

Throw a dart at the map of the world and chances are it will land in or near a territory in which the US and its allies have ‘promoted democracy’, made a ‘humanitarian intervention’, and/or  ‘defended western values’, leaving behind the stench of  JP Morgan, Standard Oil, Halliburton, and the Cheney and Clinton dynasties. 

 The politics of ‘left and right’ is a sideshow for the plebs – MarkGB examines how war has become a reliable profit centre for government cronies. 

Renegade Inc.

Mark GB - The reasons we go to war – who do you believe?

Peter Coy, Katia Dmitrieva, and Matthew Boesler — A Beginner’s Guide to MMT

A mainstream summary of MMT that is actually pretty fair and balanced and reasonably accurate, too. The tide is turning.

This is a good pice to share with others curious about MMT. I am bookmarking it as a reference to pass on in the future.

In a media world of sloppy journalism and outright propaganda, this article stands out. Kudos to Bloomberg for putting it up.

Bloomberg Businessweek
A Beginner’s Guide to MMT
Peter Coy, Katia Dmitrieva, and Matthew Boesler, New Economy Forum

Richard Murphy: Tax Research UK - Steve Keen on MMT

Richard Murphy has some issues about tax and MMT, which my essays on MMT that I posted here asked questions about.

I have posted the Steve Keen video here before, but what's really interesting about this Richard Murphy article is the comments section underneath. Many people have trouble fully getting to grips with MMT.

MMT is a fantastic system for producing a fairer and wealthier society. Social democracy and capitalism can work together, strengthening both. We end up with far less suffering, a safer society, a well educated workforce producing more wealth; less crime, so less money spent on crime prevention; more people in work - so the tax burden is spread more widely; less ill health - because people are happier and less stressed; and excellent infrastructure, etc.

The job guarantee can get help people back into work, which won't be a grind but an enjoyable social experience, and a way of meeting new people instead of being stuck at home with nothing to do.

And the old and people with disabilities can get the help they require and need never be lonely either.

The countryside can be managed better with any litter being cleaned up.

Society can be a social system, not just a competitive environment.

If capitalism can't produce a greener society because the profits are too low, then the government can help out. Remember, there's no wealth without a sustainable green future. If the world dies, we all die.

Steve Keen on MMT

Posted on 

I have a lot of respect for Steve Keen. His book Debunking Economics is pretty much essential reading for anyone who wants to know the flaws in neoclassical economic thinking.
Like me, Steve buys most of MMT, not because it's a dogma (in contrast to the neoclassical view)  but simply because it describes how things really are.
Like me Steve also has some reservations. Mine have been focussed on its attitude to tax (on which I may do more this weekend: it depends on the weather). Steve has focussed on MMT and the current account balance, where he thinks many's indifference is due to a US centric view.
This critically supportive podcast is worth listening to. 

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Peter Coy - A Beginner’s Guide to MMT

Another excellent article about MMT.

The reason the government doesn’t need to sell treasury securities, or levy taxes, to spend money is that the central bank, under the control of the treasury, can pay for everything by conjuring up electronic money. In MMT’s ideal world there would still be taxes, but their main purpose, aside from lessening inequality, would be as “offsets” to keep inflation under control. Taxes would drain just enough money from consumers and businesses so total spending in the economy won’t be excessive.

It’s tempting to view MMT’s conception of fiscal policy as essentially similar to that of the mainstream—“Hey, they believe in taxes, too!”—but that’s not quite right. MMTers hold that inflation isn’t primarily the result of excessively strong growth. They blame much of it on businesses’ excessive pricing power. So before trying to choke off growth to kill inflation, they would try to break up monopolies and stop banks from making too many loans.

“The more actively we regulate big business for public purpose, the tighter the full employment we can achieve,” three MMTers wrote in a letter to the Financial Times’ Alphaville column that was published on March 1.


Ellen Brown - Bank Interest

Excerpt from Monetary Policy Takes Center Stage: MMT, QE or Public Banks?

Now I think this is interesting, Prof. Mary Mellor says that banks issue loans but not the interest the bank requires back, so new money needs to be always lent into existence, so that previous borrowers can earn it to pay back the interest they owe.

That sounds alarming to me, but Prof. Steve Keen says the velocity of money will pay the interest as it cycles many times through the banks, and then back out again into society as they pay for their services, rates, and wage bills. Phew, I feel happier now, but who is right?

UK professor Richard Murphy adds another role for the central bank – as the issuer of new money in the form of  “Green Infrastructure Quantitative Easing.” Murphy, who was a member of the original 2008 UK Green New Deal Group, explains:
All QE works by the [central bank] buying debt issued by the government or other bodies using money that it, quite literally, creates out of thin air. … [T]his money creation process is … what happens every time a bank makes a loan. All that is unusual is that we are suggesting that the funds created by the [central bank] using this process be used to buy back debt that is due by the government in one of its many forms, meaning that it is effectively canceled.
The invariable objection to that solution is that it would act as an inflationary force driving up prices, but as argued in my earlier article here, this need not be the case. There is a chronic gap between debt and the money available to repay it that actually needs to be filled with new money every year to avoid a “balance sheet recession.” As UK Prof. Mary Mellor formulates the problem in Debt or Democracy (2016), page 42:
A major contradiction of tying money supply to debt is that the creators of the money always want more money back than they have issued. Debt-based money must be continually repaid with interest. As money is continually being repaid, new debt must be being generated if the money supply is to be maintained.… This builds a growth dynamic into the money supply that would frustrate the aims of those who seek to achieve a more socially and ecologically sustainable economy.

Ellen Brown - Monetary Policy Takes Center Stage: MMT, QE or Public Banks?

The whole article is good with Varies Varafoukis suggesting public banks in Europe to fund the New Green Deal.

This is an excerpt about MMT and its critics which I have put up for discussion.

MMT advocates say the government does not need to collect taxes before it spends. It actually creates new money in the process of spending it; and there is plenty of room in the economy for public spending before demand outstrips supply, driving up prices.
Critics, however, say this is not true. The government is not allowed to spend before it has the money in its account, and the money must come from tax revenues or bond sales.
In a 2013 treatise called “Modern Monetary Theory 101: A Reply to Critics,” MMT academics actually concede this point. But they write that “these constraints do not change the end result,” and here the argument gets a bit technical. Their reasoning is that “The Fed is the monopoly supplier of CB currency [central bank reserves], Treasury spends by using CB currency, and since the Treasury obtained CB currency by taxing and issuing treasuries, CB currency must be injected before taxes and bond offerings can occur.”
The counterargument, made by American Monetary Institute researchers among others, is that the central bank is not the monopoly supplier of dollars. The vast majority of the dollars circulating in the United States are created, not by the government, but by private banks when they make loans. The Fed accommodates this process by supplying central bank currency (bank reserves) as needed; and this bank-created money can be taxed or borrowed by the Treasury before a single dollar is spent by Congress. The AMI researchers contend, “All bank reserves are originally created by the Fed for banks. Government expenditure merely transfers (previous) bank reserves back to banks.” As the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis puts it, “federal deficits do not require that the Federal Reserve purchase more government securities; therefore, federal deficits, per se, need not lead to increases in bank reserves or the money supply.”
What federal deficits do increase is the federal debt;  and while the debt itself can be rolled over from year to year (as it virtually always is), the exponentially growing interest tab is one of those mandatory budget items that taxpayers must pay. Predictions are that in the next decade, interest alone could add $1 trillion to the annual bill, an unsustainable tax burden.
To fund a project as massive as the Green New Deal, we need a mechanism that involves neither raising taxes nor adding to the federal debt; and such a mechanism is actually proposed in the US Green New Deal – a network of public banks. While little discussed in the US media, that alternative is being debated in Europe, where Green New Deal proposals have been on the table since 2008. European economists have had more time to think these initiatives through, and they are less hampered by labels like “socialist” and “capitalist,” which have long been integrated into their multiparty systems. 
Ellen Brown

Ann Coulter - Tax the rich tweet

Ann Coulter

Ocasio-Cortez wants a 70-80% income tax on the rich. I agree! Start with the Koch Bros. -- and also make it WEALTH tax.

YANIS VAROUFAKIS - Stagnant Capitalism

Left to its own, free market capitalism trends to stagnate, says Yanis Varoufakis, unless there is a stimulus, he adds.

The free marketeers believe there is a magic number for interest rates, which the free market will set, but in practice this never happens, as Varoufakis explains.

Time for MMT. 
A decade after the 2008 financial crisis, faith in markets' self-regulating abilities once again lies in tatters. There simply is no single real interest rate that would spur investors to funnel all existing savings into productive investments, and employers to hire all who wish to work at the prevailing wage.
Setting aside the magical interest rate’s non-existence, capitalism’s natural tendency to stagnation also reflects the failure of money markets to adjust. Free marketeers assume that all prices magically adjust until they reflect commodities’ relative scarcity. In reality, they do not. When investors learn that the Federal Reserve or the ECB is thinking of reversing its earlier intention to increase interest rates, they worry that the decision reflects a gloomy outlook regarding overall demand. So, rather than boosting investment, they reduce it. 
Instead of investing, they embark on more mergers and acquisitions, which strengthen the technostructure’s capacity to fix prices, lower wages, and spend their cash buying up their companies’ own shares to boost their bonuses. Consequently, excess savings increase further and prices fail to reflect relative scarcity or, to be more precise, the only scarcity that prices, wages, and interest rates end up reflecting is the scarcity of aggregate demand for goods, labor, and savings.
What is remarkable is how unaffected free marketeers are by the facts. When their dogmas crash on the shoals of reality, they weaponise the epithet “natural”. In the 1970s, they predicted that unemployment would disappear if inflation were subdued. When, in the 1980s, unemployment remained stubbornly high despite low inflation, they proclaimed that whatever unemployment rate prevailed must have been “natural”.

James K. Galbraith - Is there a better model to explain economics in the Trump era?

The mainstream economists are running scared, as more and more academics look into MMT and see that it is viable. If neoclassical and Austrian School economists shout loud enough together they are hoping it will go away, but it's a good working model ready to be tried, and then people will find out that they didn't understand economics, despite their prestigious awards and acclamation, and that they had wrecked our economy.

MMT is built on the work of John Maynard Keynes and Hyman Minsky. A core insight is that money in “modern States” — meaning, as Keynes wrote, for the “past four thousand years at least” – is defined by government. Money is created (mostly) by public spending and bank loans. Money is not something “out there” that the government must borrow from the public in order to function. It is created as government functions; only afterward, those who take payment may then trade the cash for a bond.

MMT is about the way the world actually works. It explains why big deficits do not drive up interest rates or “crowd out” private investment, and why big governments in big countries don’t go bankrupt.

Boston Globe

James K. Galbraith - Is there a better model to explain economics in the Trump era?

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Thom Hartmann - Are Trump Supporters the Most Gullible People on Earth?

When I look around the internet and see what conservatives hate the most, it's welfare. 

Trump intends to cut over 200 $billion from welfare, but poor white people, most of whom voted for Trump, are the biggest beneficiaries of welfare. 

Back before most of us were born, President Harry Truman called out the GOP for lying to the American people, saying they were using “the best propaganda money can buy.”

Stephen Mihn - American Colonists Had a Modern Monetary Theory of Their Own

This article was tweeted by Stephanie Kelton and fits in well with my own theories with how MMT works, which I have printed here before.

I would like to add, that money does not create wealth, work does. I can create wealth by growing potatoes in my back garden, or some fruit, or by making things in my shed, or just by offering my labour. But what if there is not enough money in society because people don't want to take out anymore loans, or the banks don't want to lend to poor people, or because there is too much in debt in society, then transactions between people may become difficult as bartering is very cumbersome and inefficient?

So, there's plenty of wealth, but not enough money, and the gold standard would make things worse by making money even more scarce. Then, what's the solution: one is for the government to inject money into the system, and one way to do this would be for the government to create the money and spend it on government services. Then the wages of the public staff would filter out into the private sector enabling more work to be done.

The private sector would then expand and employ more staff who will do the work which pays for the public services. Therefore, the rest of society gets and excellent deal: low cost public services because people who were idle before are now in work contributing to society. And they won't need anymore government assistance either.

It's a great deal for everyone: the capitalists who run industry will get richer,  the underemployed will find work, and  those already in work get low cost public services. Conservatives will come onboard.

Eventually, the government will need to tax the money it put in back out again, but with so many more people in work, the tax burden will be shared more widely. 

 Hutchinson and the others devised an unusual solution to the problem. They issued what is generally recognized as the first fiat currency in the Western world. The twenty-shilling notes they printed cheekily claimed that they “shall be in value equal to money”  meaning that they were equivalent to silver coin.
This was, on the face of it, preposterous. Massachusetts had no ability within its borders or beyond to compel people to accept the money at face value. Despite its promise to redeem the money at a “convenient time,” the colonial treasury could not do so when it first issued the bills.
Dror Goldberg, the leading historian of this formative episode, summed up this venture: “Never before has history seen such a weak money.” Which begs the obvious question: Why would any self-respecting soldier accept it, or for that matter, a shopkeeper, merchant, or anyone else?
The answer lies with the other language that appeared on the bill. It declared that they “shall be accordingly accepted by the Treasurer, and receivers subordinate to him, in all public payments.” They could be used to pay taxes.
Hutchinson and his allies spent before they taxed. And it was precisely that fact  that the money they injected into the economy would then be withdrawn via taxation  that gave the money its value. And it worked. The money circulated in the colony, greasing the wheels of commerce, and then disappearing at tax time.
They didn’t realize it at the time, but this group of dour Puritans had effectively invented a crude forerunner of MMT, though they would have probably called it PMT (Puritan Monetary Theory). A government spent before it taxed, creating money in the process; this money fueled economic activity; and then taxation sucked the money out of the economy.
It was a brilliant invention, and as Goldberg notes, “The currency we use today is essentially the same as the money created in Massachusetts.” But before anyone reads this as an unqualified endorsement of MMT, consider the rest of the story.
Other colonies, mindful of the success of Massachusetts, also issued paper currency structured along the same lines. Sometimes it worked. But sometimes, the money lost its value. The reason lay with tax policies: It’s one thing to create money via government expenditures. But some colonies forgot to raise taxes high enough to pull it out of circulation.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Adam Ramsey - Revealed: How dark money split the Tories’ ruling elite

More depressing stuff about the evil thugs who rule this world, and it's all about money. Steve Keen, Michael Hudson, and many other fine people said it was best for the UK to leave the E.U., but according to this article, that's not such a good idea.

The British ruling elite are split into two groups: the old industrialists who want easy access into Europe, and the military-industrial-financial-complex which wants closer ties with the U.S. and its war machine.

Boris Johnson says, "f*ck industry".

Yep, the money is in endless wars, mercenaries, money laundering, and dodgy finance. We're taking about pure evil again!

There’s the people who funnelled dark money into the Leave campaigns – the cash openDemocracy revealed, which went through former Scottish Tory golden boy Richard Cook to the DUP, and the cash which came through Arron Banks, via Gibraltar, and which we’ve spent much of the last two years tracing.
Then there’s the tangle of dark money funded think tanks – groups like the IEA and the Taxpayers’ Alliance, who have been toiling away for unknown clients, promoting a hard Brexit for more than a year now.
As my openDemocracy colleagues have revealed, they have unprecedented access to government at the moment.
This network works closely with America’s corporate funded neo-con world, including groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), who spend their time fighting against action on climate change or restrictions on gun sales, and are closely connected to both Trump’s White House, and British Trade Secretary Liam Fox.
Last year, for example, IEA director general Mark Littlewood toured the US, fundraising from wealthy donors and promising to “shred” EU regulations, according to a Greenpeace undercover investigation.
Littlewood’s colleague, Shanker Singham, was essentially the author of the famous “Malthouse compromise”.
One of the main groups Littlewood visited was agribusiness firms, keen to shape UK farming regulations after CAP.
Then there’s the military and the mercenaries. Brexit group Veterans for Britain had on its advisory board a string of powerful figures, including the former head of British Armed Forces, Field Marshal Lord Guthrie (who’s from just outside Dundee).
These people are connected to a string of private intelligence companies – Guthrie now works for the private intelligence agency Arcanum, whose chair has described Brexit as an “opportunity for American business”, while privatised military propaganda companies like Cambridge Analytica and AggregateIQ played contentious roles in the Brexit campaign.
These firms shouldn’t be underestimated – the UK is now the world centre for mercenary companies, not something it can say about many business sectors.
Though there is another notable one: money laundering.
And in two years investigating the Brexit elite, it’s very clear that most of the money launderers are desperate to leave the European regulated space.
More here - a chilling read.
The National

On the Ground in Venezueola vs. the Media Spectacle by PAUL COCHRANE

I don't know if their film will be seriously edited, or not shown at all, but these two journalists, who work for a major TV company, found Venezuela to be completely different to how it is portrayed in the Western media. Venezuelans are not hungry and now grow a lot of their own food. And as it's tropical, there's plenty of fruit around, much of it for free just hanging off trees.
They say one mistake Maduro made was to pay off Venezuela's different debt too early, in light of how the country was going to be economically attacked later on. They also mention how Columbia laundered its cocaine money through Venezuela which effected its currency, and how the Venezuelan elite tried to ruin its currency too. 
British photojournalist Alan Gignoux and Venezuelan journalist-filmmaker Carolina Graterol, both based in London, went to Venezuela for a month to shoot a documentary for a major global TV channel. They talked with journalist Paul Cochrane about the mainstream media’s portrayal of Venezuela compared to their experiences on the ground.
Paul Cochrane (PC): What were you doing in Venezuela, how long were you there and where did you go?
Alan Gignoux (AG): We went in June 2018 for a month to shoot a documentary; I can’t disclose what channels it will be on right now, but it should be on air soon. We visited the capital Caracas, Mérida (in the Andes), Cumaná (on the coast), and Ciudad Guayana (near the mouth of the Orinoco river).
PC: How did being in Venezuela compare to what you were seeing in Western media?
Carolina Graterol (CG): I am a journalist, I have family in Venezuela, and I knew the reality was very different from what the media is portraying, but still I was surprised. The first thing we noticed was the lack of poverty. Alan wanted to film homeless and poor people on the streets. I saw three people sleeping rough just this morning in London, but in Venezuela, we couldn’t find any, in big cities or towns. We wanted to interview them, but we couldn’t find them. It is because of multi disciplinary programmes run by the government, with social services working to get children off the streets, or returned to their families. The programme has been going on for a long time but I hadn’t realized how effective it was.
PC: Alan, what surprised you?
AG: We have to be realistic. Things look worn down and tired. There is food, there are private restaurants and cafes open, and you could feel the economic crisis kicking in but poverty is not as bad as what I’ve seen in Brazil or Colombia, where there are lots of street children. Venezuela doesn’t seem to have a homeless problem, and the favelas have running water and electricity. The extreme poverty didn’t seem as bad as in other South American countries. People told me before going I should be worried about crime, but we worked with a lady from El Salvador, and she said Venezuela was easy compared to her country, where there are security guards with machine guns outside coffee shops. They also say a lot of Venezuelan criminals left as there’s not that much to rob, with better pickings in Argentina, Chile or wherever.

Dr Lisa Johnson - The Psychology Of Getting Julian Assange, Part 1: What’s Torture Got To Do With It?

Dr Lisa Johnson - The Psychology Of Getting Julian Assange, Part 1: What’s Torture Got To Do With It?

In the first part of a special New Matilda investigative series, clinical psychologist Dr Lissa Johnson exposes the ‘science’ behind the hunt for Julian Assange, and the tactics those in power use to keep you in the dark.

New Maltida 

Asa - Winstanley - Watch the film Labour MPs didn’t want you to see

The official online debut of the new film WitchHunt has arrived, and you can watch the entire thing in the video above.
The film has faced severe censorship, including a bomb threat which successfully canceled one preview.
It tells a story about Israel’s alliance with the global far-right that Israel’s supporters would rather you not hear.
Acclaimed British directors Mike Leigh and Peter Kosminsky have praised WitchHunt.
Leigh said it “exposes with chilling accuracy the terrifying threat that now confronts democracy.”
Kosminsky said it “packs a powerful punch” and is “telling a story we just aren’t hearing at the moment.”
Last month, left-wing member of Parliament Chris Williamson was suspended as a Labour Party member – after a long campaign by Israel lobby groups against him.
Williamson had booked a room in Parliament on behalf of the group Jewish Voice for Labour so that WitchHunt could be screened.
But it was canceled after the Labour leadership came under severe pressure by right-wing and pro-Israel Labour MPs.
Unless Williamson’s Labour suspension is reversed before the next election, the move will make it hard for him to return as an MP.
Video embedded 
The Electronic Intifada

Monday, March 18, 2019

Friday, March 15, 2019

James K. Galbraith — Modern Monetary Realism

Kenneth Rogoff's criticism of Modern Monetary Theory assumes that MMT advocates don't care about budget deficits or the independence of the US Federal Reserve. But these assumptions are wide of the mark, and Rogoff himself sometimes undermines his own arguments.
Project Syndicate
Modern Monetary Realism
James K. Galbraith | Lloyd M. Bentsen Jr. Chair in Government/Business Relations and Professor of Government at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, The University of Texas at Austin

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Dirk Ehnts — A simple macroeconomic model based on Modern Monetary Theory (and published in 2014 in a peer-reviewed journal

There is a lot of talk about how MMT would lack a “model”. Some commentators on Twitter even claim that MMT would have “no model” and that they just created one themselves. Others believe that stock-flow consistent (SFC) models are basically SFC models. All of that is not quite right!
I think that the only model that can really claim to be a “MMT model” is the one I published in a peer-reviewed journal in 2014. The article in the International Journal of Pluralism and Economics Education (IJPEE) was named “A simple macroeconomic model of a currency union with endogenous money and saving-investment imbalances” (link). With hindsight, it was not a good title, since there is nothing specific about “currency union” or (private!) “saving-investment imbalances” in the model. It is really a replacement of the IS/LM-model and nothing else. The working paper version is accessible freely and was written in 2012 (link). During that year, I was at the Hyman-Minsky summer school at the Levy Institute of Bard College, NY. I showed the model to Randy Wray and Scott Fullwiler and some other people and they all liked it. Given that my model has the sectoral balances at its core that did not surprise me.
Since the model has not gotten a lot of attention so far – I presented it at University of Cassino in Italy after being invited there to spend a week with SFC modeler Gennaro Zezza and in some other place – I would like to use this blog post to explain the model briefly. Of course, the IJPEE paper is the long version. (The working paper contains some minor flaws that had been fixed in the journal version.) For those who can’t wait to see it, you can download a spreadsheet file of the ISMY model here. It has all the equations and is solvable by toying around with it....
econoblog 101

Bill Mitchell — Travelling across the world today to escape the famine that MMT will cause

For now a brief excursion into the Dutch press, which has decided to join the wannabees attacking Modern Monetary Theory (MMT). The scenario outlined in the article I read earlier today takes the criticisms to a new level. We are no longer worried about hyperinflation, crowding out, sky high interest rates. No, things are likely to get much worse than that. If any government takes on MMT (noting it is not a regime that can be taken on) to operationalise a Green New Deal then tax rates will have to rise to around 100 per cent, households and firms will stop working and producing, and a massive famine in possible where millions die. Sort of Project Fear stuff that has marked the Remain position in the Brexit debate!
Just when you thought it couldn't get any more ridiculous. TPTB becoming unhinged over MMT?

Bill Mitchell – billy blog
Travelling across the world today to escape the famine that MMT will cause
Bill Mitchell | Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity
(CofFEE), at University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia

See also
My guess is that every prominent economist that wants to mouth off about Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) has already said their piece, and the arguments that swamped my Twitter feed may finally go back to their earlier levels. It is abundantly clear that the prominent New Keynesians who attacked MMT want it to disappear, but that seems unlikely (although I am obviously biased in that assessment). From the perspective of the history of economic theory, the neoclassical reaction was following past form, and we can expect the same patterns in the future.
Bond Economics
What Did We Learn From The MMT Maelstrom?
Brian Romanchuk

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Rob Larson — Capitalist Freedom Is a Farce

Milton Friedman was wrong. Capitalism doesn't foster freedom — it produces autocratic workplaces and tyrannical billionaires....
Another paradox of liberalism that arises from economic liberalism and affects social and political liberalism, too.

Capitalist Freedom Is a Farce
Rob Larson

Renegade Inc: Myth Busting the European Dream

I once believed in the EU as I loved its social democracy and I would argue in defence of it with everyone. But in the end I voted to leave the EU and my friends never forgave me because they still had an old fashioned view of Europe as the great social democracy.

Ross Ashcroft was always pro the EU up to now but I think he has changed his mind after this interview with David Rose who says that the EU has been destroyed by neoliberalism. The left politicians gave up the fight and decided that nice jobs within the corporations and fiancee would do them just fine.  Now the right are leading in the polls but  finance would prefer that to the left, and so people are being hoodwinked if they think the right will change things all that much.

David Rose asks how did mortgages end up taking half of people's wages, which made them poor and wrecked the economy. I remember getting my first flat (apartment) when I was 26 years old and my active social life got wrecked over night as I no money left. Well, you have to move out sometime so I had to lump it, but I suppose I was excited about owning my own home too, except I have never been all that wealthy being a home owner. What a life hey, you only live once and there I am always skint, just getting by. I was skilled and yet I was poor.

The middle class has collapsed, says David Rose, as financialisation has hollowed it out. And yet millions of British people today feel wealthy because their home are worth a fortune - on paper! But how many hours at work did they have to do to buy them, and how much did their families go without. Is that leading a wealthy life? Personally, I like to buy everything cheap, including my house, and so it might not be worth much now, but I wouldn't have paid much for it either, and that's fine by me.

Before moving out, I could figure out the value of things like a pint of beer, or some a hi-fi, a car, a holiday, a phone, a calculator, a meal out, etc, but when I bought a one bed-roomed flat it was a massive leap in price in relation to everything else, and it didn't make to me sense to me in value for money terms. And renting a flat cost the same, which baffled me too,

The average German is not well off anymore, says David Rose, and in fact they are poorer now than 15 years ago, but Germany commands Europe. He says the whole European Union is corrupt and what the bankers did to Greece was a crime. Nowadays financial warfare is used to conquer nations and it is much cheaper to do too.

The whole of the West has gone wrong and greed has hollowed it out. Now China zooms ahead and the U.S. is looking for war to bring them down.  I thought we were intelligent creatures and that we would just invent better technology to make ourselves richer.

After the devastation and hell of WW2 I thought wars were over, but now they say that a nuclear war is winnable. It's mad. What kind of crazy risk is that just to grab few more billions that won't increase their standard of living?


Umair Haque — The Birth of Predatory Capitalism—How the Free World Took Four Giant Leaps to Self-Destruction

A (successful) American politician who cries: “God is a white supremacist!”Neo-nazis in the Bundestag. The extreme right rising in Italy. Poland’s authoritarians purging its Supreme Court .
How did we get here? To a world where the forces of intolerance and indecency are on the rise, and those of decency, wisdom, and civilization are waning? Is something like a new Dark Age falling?
I think it has everything to do with predatory capitalism, and so I want to tell you a story. Of how it came to be born, in four steps, which span three decades.
Umair Haque

Lizzy Francis - What Is Modern Monetary Theory? An MMT Theorist Explains

A resurgence in a popular economic theory might make it possible for Universal Child Care and other programs to actually see the light of day

MMT makes a distinction between the issuer of the currency, which is the federal government, and the users of the currency, which is everybody else. States, municipalities, us, individuals, families, households, and companies, and the rest of the world. Once we look at that distinction, it becomes illogical to say the government needs to borrow money in order to spend it. In order for the U.S. dollar to exist in circulation in the economy, it must come from the only source: the federal government.
What do you mean?
The federal government spends money into existence. That’s what allows for the circulation of currency in the system, so that the rest of us can use, spend, borrow, and lend it to each other and use it to pay taxes back to the government. So, in MMT, first, the government spends, then taxes some of it back. Then the question becomes: if taxation doesn’t fund government programs, what’s the purpose of taxation?
MMT’s explanation: Because taxation is required for everyone, it creates demand for an otherwise useless piece of paper. The US dollar is not backed by gold or silver. So that in and of itself gives it value. It’s required via the coercive authority of the government. It’s required for the payment of taxes.
Okay, so taxation gives money value, but it isn’t required for enacting new programs that would require a lot of federal spending. So, why are taxes still important in the MMT framework?
Taxation also withdraws money from the system. So, yes, the government can spend anything it wants, but that would put too much money in the system, which would allow consumers to go on a shopping spree and could cause inflation. So taxation takes some of that money out of circulation. It can tame inflation.
What’s stopping us from adopting an MMT mindset and just going right into funding a huge social program right now, tomorrow?
Inflation is the limit. Let’s say, tomorrow, we decide as a nation that dental care is a human right, and we are going to provide it to every person in this country. Anyone can call up their dentist and schedule an appointment without insurance. The government is going to pay for it. I call my dentist and say, ‘I’d like to schedule an appointment.’ They say, ‘Sure. We’ll put you on the list and we’ll see you in 2035.’ And I say, ‘Why?’ They’ll say: ‘Because everyone is calling and everyone is scheduling because they were excluded before that.’
What good does it do for us, having the government pay for dental care, if we don’t actually have the physical resources and productive capacity to provide those things? The dentist will say, ‘By the way, we have this premium platinum service where you pay $7,000 and we put you in an elite club and you can schedule your appointment next week.’
If you have a shortage of productive capacity, and a huge amount of demand, regardless of whether we have the money or not, that will cause inflation. MMT says let’s increase the productive capacity of all the things that we care about: renewable energy, medical services, whatever the national priorities are. The good thing is those resources are producible. Dentists can be trained.