Friday, July 31, 2015

Mikhail Delyagin — Russian universities are a battleground for Russia's future

Such education once again reveals the focus of the liberal clan on a systematic destruction of Russia. Because hostility of a critically important part of the youth towards the foundation of the existence of Russian society, which is the state, simply deprives our country of the future.
The position of the liberals is based on the position of global business, which they serve
Fort Russ
Russian universities are a battleground for Russia's future
Mikhail Delyagin
Translated by Kristina Rus

Noah Smith — Econ 101: Chicago? M.I.T.? Nope, Berkeley's on Top

The point is that Berkeley has done something similar to what the old Chicago School did -- it has changed the entire game. Through intellectual force and creativity, it has turned the ship of the profession in a new direction. We might call it the Berkeley Reformation. The Chicago School made economics about theory; the Berkeley Reformation has made it more about data. The Chicago School made economics about efficiency; the Berkeley Reformation has made it about inequality as well. The Chicago School was Panglossian in its belief that markets work well; the Berkeley Reformation showed deep, fundamental reasons that they break down. The Chicago School described the world in terms of perfectly rational agents; the Berkeley Reformation added the complexity of flawed decision-making.

In the 1980s and 1990s, it could rightly be said that Chicago had conquered the economics world. But in the 2010s, the profession has pointed in Berkeley's direction.…
Bloomberg View
Econ 101: Chicago? M.I.T.? Nope, Berkeley's on Top
Noah Smith | Assistant Professor of Finance, Stony Brook University

Frances Coppola — In defence of the (conflicted) ECB

It is the conflict of interest between ECB-as-creditor and ECB-as-liquidity-provider that makes the ECB ineffective as a lender of last resort. And because NCBs are controlled and restricted by the ECB, they too cannot act as lenders of last resort. So the Eurozone banking system effectively has no lender of last resort. The lack of a lender of last resort is terribly dangerous, since it vastly increases the likelihood of devastating systemic runs. Deposit insurance helps, but since that too is dependent on sovereign solvency there is a gaping hole in the infrastructure supporting the Eurozone financial system.

How to resolve this? The "doom loop" between sovereigns and banks must be broken: the funding of banks must be separated from the solvency of sovereigns, as must the funding of deposit insurance. That means full banking union, common deposit insurance and the issuance of Eurozone-level bonds that can be used by banks as safe assets. The ESM is a step in the right direction, but the current "banking union" is utterly inadequate. Much more needs to be done if the Eurosystem is to become effective as both lender and dealer of last resort.
Frances examines EZ structure and law. The EZ is set up without a lender of last resort, which all but guarantees serious breakdowns.

Coppola Comment
In defence of the (conflicted) ECB
Frances Coppola

Dirk Ehnts — The nature of the game: euro zone does not agree while unemployment rises again

French chartalism versus German ersatz commodity model based on running the central bank as if the currency zone were still on the gold standard, with the German view winning at present. Result? Unemployment rising in the EZ.

econoblog 101
The nature of the game: euro zone does not agree while unemployment rises again
Dirk Ehnts | Berlin School for Economics and Law

See also, Phelps on what is wrong with the West’s economies

David F. Ruccio — What comes next?

Technological innovation increases possibilities. Technology alone does not bring any of those possibilities into actuality on its own. This involves people making choices, and that involves many often competing and conflicting factors — the interests of ownership, the interest of the environment, and the common interest.
…we do need to be aware of the ways the existing set of relations—the relations of capitalist commodity production—not only create capitalist subjects, but also noncapitalist subjectivities.
The way I’ve put it in my own writing, capitalist commodity production both presumes and constitutes particular kinds of individual subjects (which Marx referred to as “commodity fetishism”). But it also brings into existence new collective subjectivities—new ways of “being in common”—that can transcend capitalism.…
That alternative subjectivity—that “being in common” in relation to healthcare—can serve as the basis of a noncommodified, noncapitalist form of healthcare. And, pace Mason, new kinds of information technologies might even be useful for connecting producers and consumers in postcapitalist ways. There’s nothing automatic about it, of course. Still, both signal the possibility of ways of moving beyond capitalism.
The key is to find ways to combine emerging information technologies and ethical concerns in a political movement that is inspired by a fundamental critique: both what is wrong with the existing order and an imagining of a concrete alternative.
 The issue become much more obvious when the traditional factors of production — capital, alnd, and labor — are called what they really are — technology, the environment, and people.
The Rectification of Names (Chinese: ; pinyin: Zhèngmíng; Wade–Giles: Cheng-ming) is the Confucian doctrine that to know and use the proper designations of things in the web of relationships that creates meaning, a community, and then behaving accordingly so as to ensure social harmony is The Good.[1] Since social harmony is of utmost importance, without the proper rectification of names, society would essentially crumble and "undertakings [would] not [be] completed." — <a href=""> Wikipedia </a>
Then we might have a meaningful debate on what constitutes a good life ethically in a good society socially.

Occasional Links & Commentary
What comes next?
David F. Ruccio | Professor of Economics University of Notre Dame Notre Dame

Lars Syll’s Blog — On the poverty of microfoundationalist fantasies

Kevin Hoover quote on microfoundations based on representative agent modeling. Aggregation based on similarities of individuals assume similarity of individuals. In some cases that hold, in many others, not, and where it doesn't hold are the points of interest.
Not only does the representative-agent model fail to provide an analysis of those interactions, but it seems likely that that they will defy an analysis that insists on starting with the individual, and it is certain that no one knows at this point how to begin to provide an empirically relevant analysis on that basis.
You can't get there from here.

Lars P. Syll’s Blog
On the poverty of microfoundationalist fantasies
Lars P. Syll | Professor, Malmo University

Bill Mitchell — Italy’s time to demonstrate leadership

When the Brussels bullies call them up to demand more austerity, Italy would be best to flex its muscle. It is too big for the Troika to steam roll.
And, I suspect, the Italians have a better understanding of their place in Europe than Greece and won’t fall for any threats that they will be expelled from Europe.
It is a bit hard to cut of ones ‘boot’ without also severing the ‘foot’!
I would recommend that Italy take the initiative and ignore the fiscal rules and introduce some large public spending programs – like Job Guarantee – to get the economy moving.
Brussels can fulminate in whatever fashion they like – probably by taking it out of the defenseless Greece. But they can do very little against a nation as powerful within Europe as is Italy.

Merkel, Schäuble & Co. think that making an example of Greece will "send a message" to other countries of the EZ if they don't tow the line. Bill points out that Italy is not Greece.

Of course, France is not either, and if Yanis is correct in reporting that the example is also aimed at France, then things are going to get interesting.

Bill Mitchell – billy blog
Italy’s time to demonstrate leadership
Bill Mitchell | Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), at University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia

Neil Wilson — Taxes for Revenue are Obsolete - a précis

We have known for over 70 years that Taxes have nothing to do with government spending. However it is an idea that has taken root again in the recent past, and we really need to get beyond it if we are to build the society of the future. There is a faint whiff of punishment in a lot of tax proposals, which is very reminiscent of the treatment that the Greeks have received in their recent attempts to improve the lot of their population. Most unpleasant.
The following is a simple précis of the points from the Beardsley Ruml article from 1946 and the Bill Mitchell piece on the same article from 2010 - and targeted at the UK.…
Taxes for Revenue are Obsolete - a précis
Neil Wilson

John T. Harvey — The Real Argument For Raising The Minimum Wage

There continues to be a great deal of debate over the economic impact of the federal minimum wage. Does it serve as a drag because it raises firms’ costs or do businesses experience higher sales as a result of the rise in their customers’ income? Obviously, if you consider only one side of that equation or the other–as most amateur analysts do–you reach a biased conclusion. The real question is, what is the net impact after all the relevant relationships are considered?
Fortunately, this has already been addressed in myriad professional, peer-reviewed studies using both mathematical modeling and statistical evidence. And there appears to be something of a consensus: changes in the minimum wage have little to no impact on employment (see for example: Why Does the Minimum Wage Have No Discernible Effect on Employment?). Apparently, the change in cost is largely offset by the change in demand and other factors. A little boring, perhaps, but it’s always a cause for celebration in my discipline when we get anything close to an agreement!
But if that is true, then what is the point of raising or lowering it?….
Forbes — Pragmatic Economics
The Real Argument For Raising The Minimum Wage
John T. Harvey

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Ian Parker — The Greek Warrior

The personal details.

The New Yorker
The Greek Warrior
Ian Parker
ht Clonal

Jon Schwarz — Jimmy Carter: The U.S. Is an “Oligarchy With Unlimited Political Bribery”

President Carter calls out bipartisan corruption.

"Aw, mom, all the kids were doing it."

The Intercept
Jimmy Carter: The U.S. Is an “Oligarchy With Unlimited Political Bribery”
Jon Schwarz

Zero Hedge — 70% Of Americans See Economy Worsening, Consumer Comfort Collapses By Most In 10 Month

Rather amusingly an intriguing 1% of Americans see the state of the economy as 'excellent' - wonder which 1% that is...
Zero Hedge
70% Of Americans See Economy Worsening, Consumer Comfort Collapses By Most In 10 Month
Tyler Durden

For a laugh now look at this.

Why Do So Many Working Age Americans Choose Not To Enter The Workforce?
Via ConvergEx's Nick Colas

Conference on the Greek Debt Crisis led by Sen Bernie Sanders

Conference on the Greek Debt Crisis

Rm 902 Hart Senate Office Building

Sen. Bernie Sanders will convene a panel of three nationally-known economists to discuss the debt crisis in Greece and throughout the world. The panel will be moderated by Stephanie Kelton, the chief economist of the Senate Budget Committee minority staff.


U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders

Joseph Stiglitz, Senior fellow and chief economist at Roosevelt Institute

James Galbraith, University of Texas

Jacob Funk Kirkegaard, Peterson Institute for International Economics

Stephanie Kelton, University of Missouri – Kansas City


2:30 PM, Thursday July 30th


Hart Senate Office Building, Room 902


Yanis Varoufakis — Will the IMF throw the spanner in the works? – as I feared and Dr Schäuble hoped?

The key issue, of course, is not so much whether the IMF will be part of the deal – a typical fudge could, for instance, be concocted with the IMF providing ‘technical assistance’ to an ESM-only program.
The issue is whether the promised debt relief which, astonishingly will be discussed only after the new loan agreement is signed and sealed, will prove adequate – assuming it is granted at all. Or whether, as I very much fear, the debt relief will be too little while the austerity involved proves catastrophically large.
Yanis Varoufakis
Will the IMF throw the spanner in the works? – as I feared and Dr Schäuble hoped?

Felipe Rezende — S&P threatened to downgrade Brazil to junk

Brazilian Left. buying into neoliberal analysis, crashes and burns. That would be you, Dilma.

New Economic Perspectives
S&P threatened to downgrade Brazil to junk
Felipe Rezende, Hobart and William Smith Colleges

Damn! Did You Ever Imagine It Would Come To This?

   (Commentary posted by Roger Erickson)

"In other words, this is a bullshit report written by neocons in order to foment war with Russia."

What did Marriner Eccles say?

Marriner Eccles gloomy last speech, 1977:
"... the wrong road was taken every time we had a chance to alter course ... "
That's from a lifelong Republican, mind you, who was for the New Deal, for normalizing relations with China in 1950, and against the Vietnam war.

Didn't Khrushchev say something very similar to Marriner's words, as soon as Stalin died? "We could have been a great country."

Institutional momentum = tangents to evolution .... over-adapting to transient context (aka, playing with death).

In a country this big & talented ... we have much better things to do than waste time conquering other countries & looting their natural resources. Our best return comes from investing in all of our own talents (not just in weapons to use on others).

NeoCons:  If they can't find it (reality), they must be hiding it from themselves. 

Zachary Keck — The Insane Nuclear Bomb US Has in Its Arsenal

It’s a guided, low-yield tactical nuke - by appearing relatively benign it increases the chance the cowboys in the Pentagon will break the taboo on use of nuclear weapons - and help deliver armageddon.
Oh well, the long run we are all dead anyway.

Russia Insider
The Insane Nuclear Bomb US Has in Its Arsenal
Zachary Keck

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Mohamed A. El-Erian — In Defense of Varoufakis

From blaming him for the renewed collapse of the Greek economy to accusing him of illegally plotting Greece’s exit from the eurozone, it has become fashionable to disparage Yanis Varoufakis, the country’s former finance minister. While I have never met or spoken to him, I believe that he is getting a bad rap (and increasingly so). In the process, attention is being diverted away from the issues that are central to Greece’s ability to recover and prosper – whether it stays in the eurozone or decides to leave.
That is why it is important to take note of the ideas that Varoufakis continues to espouse. Greeks and others may fault him for pursuing his agenda with too little politesse while in office. But the essence of that agenda was – and remains – largely correct.
Project Syndicate
In Defense of Varoufakis
Mohamed A. El-Erian, Chief Economic Adviser at Allianz and a member of its International Executive Committee, is Chairman of US President Barack Obama’s Global Development Council. He previously served as CEO and co-Chief Investment Officer of PIMCO

Blankfein on rate hike

You hate to agree with Blankfein but I think he is correct here.

A rate hike is our best chance of getting any increase in the leading government spending flows any time soon.

Goodyear's Profit Drops

Report here at Nasdaq.

Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. reported a 10% drop in its second-quarter profit but exceeded analyst expectations as currency fluctuations and some restructuring charges overshadowed its strong financial performance. 
The company took a $401 million hit to its sales, suggesting that the strengthening dollar rather than a slower China economy is now a big issue for U.S. auto-parts makers as they attempt to manage their businesses through the second half of the year.
This write up misses the mark in the way of explanation.

Foreign tire sellers lowered their prices in USD terms FIRST, which acted to increase their sales and market shares in the U.S. to the detriment of Goodyear's share ....... THEN the international financiers of the tire trade made regulatory adjustments which resulted in what is termed here a "strengthening dollar" in forex terms.

More empirical evidence here that the forex terms are a resultant function of the leading pricing actions of the international merchants.

Dirk Ehnts — Von Mises and the Position of the State in the Market

The state is not external to the people, enterprises and other institutions. I think that it is wrong to divide state and market. In modern states, they are intertwined. Maybe this topic should go in my course to create a debate about what terminology to use (dichotomy of state and market) and what we recognize as (economic) “science” over the centuries.
The view that market imperfections result chiefly from the side of the state versus the market, that the market and state can be disentangled, and reducing the influence of the state decreases market imperfections is an article of faith of economic liberalism. It is a foundational assumption that is regarded as self-evident. That's doing speculative philosophy, not empirical science.

econoblog 101
Von Mises and the Position of the State in the Market
Dirk Ehnts | Berlin School for Economics and Law

Sigrún Davídsdóttir — Lies, damned lies, and Greek statistics

Long and thorough post on the previous corruption in Greece that led to the present crisis.

Coppola Comment
Lies, damned lies, and Greek statistics
Sigrún Davídsdóttir

John Weeks — Third Bailout and the Third Punic War

After his defeat by the Roman leader Scipio Africanus at the battle of Zama in 201 BC, the great general Hannibal pleaded with the Carthaginian Senate to accept the draconian peace terms demanded by Rome. Polybius has him say to the Senate, “I beg you … to declare your acceptance of the [peace] proposals unanimously” (The Rise of the Roman Empire, Book XV).
The draconian treaty proved too burdensome for the Carthage Senate to implement. This led to a Third Punic War and yet another Roman victory in 146 BC, over an enemy far weaker after fifty years of austerity due to payment of tribute to the Roman overlords. No treaty ended this third war. The Roman army sacked Carthage, razed it to the ground and sold the population into slavery.
Those in Greece whose hope is that the Third Bailout has bought them time for a better deal with the Troika in the future might reflect on the outcome of the third Punic War.
Triple Crisis
Third Bailout and the Third Punic War
John Weeks | Professor Emeritus of the School of Oriental and African Studies of the University of London

David F. Ruccio — “Thought is the courage of hopelessness”

So, the current situation does appear hopeless.
However, in challenging the terms of the bailout—first, in supporting the “no” vote in the 5 July referendum and, then, in Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s statements that his government would not implement reform measures beyond those agreed with lenders at a euro zone summit this month—the Greek government has come to represent all the “thinking and suffering people” of Europe and to expose the “passive and thoughtless existence” that characterizes the tiny elite that currently reigns on that continent.
That, perhaps, should fill us with hope.
Sorry, I haven't got my hopes up. If the European elite is to be defeated in their attempt to impose neoliberalism on Europe, indications are that it will likely be by the nationalist Right rather than a resurgent Left. The Left has had its chance on several occasions in different countries and has consistently blown it.

Occasional Links & Commentary
“Thought is the courage of hopelessness”
David F. Ruccio | Professor of Economics University of Notre Dame Notre Dame

Yanis Varoufakis — Treason charges: What lurks behind the bizarre allegations

The bizarre attempt to have me indicted me on… treason charges, allegedly for conspiring to push Greece out of the Eurozone, reflects something much broader.

Yanis Varoufakis
Treason charges: What lurks behind the bizarre allegations

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

teleSUR Extreme Poverty in Venezuela Drops to 4.5%

The number of Venezuelans living in extreme poverty has dropped to a historic low of 4.5 percent, according to figures released Monday. “In the midst of an economic war, extreme poverty has dropped below 5 percent,” Planning vice president Ricardo Menendez said. He said the continued decline of poverty is vindicating “the model we are building.” “This figure represents the strengthening of the battle ... from the beginning of the great (social) missions there has been an outright decline in indicators of poverty, (such as) unsatisfied basic needs,” he said. The figure of 4.5 percent is nearly half that of neighboring Colombia, where over 8 percent of the population lives in extreme poverty according to 2014 statistics. It's also the lowest level in decades for Venezuela. When President Hugo Chavez was elected in 1998, 21 percent of homes were registered as experiencing extreme poverty. Under Chavez, the Venezuelan government created a series of anti-poverty programs called missions. Each mission targets a specific aspect of poverty, such as housing and education. Government funding for social spending including the missions has skyrocketed over the last decade. By 2014, extreme poverty had dropped to 5.4 percent. The massive reduction in poverty has been praised by international organizations including the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America.…
Extreme Poverty in Venezuela Drops to 4.5%

TASS — Structural reforms required for increasing Russia’s private sector — IMF

WASHINGTON, July 28. /TASS/. Structural reforms are required for increasing Russia’s private sector and its balance with the public sector, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said in its 2015 External Sector Report (Individual Economy Assessments) published on Tuesday. 
"The nonoil fiscal deficit remains significantly higher than its long-term desirable level and needs to adjust to facilitate a rebalancing from public to private activity, and a re-allocation of government expenditure from current to capital spending," the IMF reported.
Clear signal to do the exact opposite. Hopefully they will act on it and increase the deficit.

Structural reforms required for increasing Russia’s private sector — IMF

Max Fisher — Donald Trump's only real foreign policy idea: steal foreigners' oil

It looks like Donald Trump's presidential campaign is going to be with us for a little while longer, and probably through the first Republican debate. At some point, then, it becomes impossible to avoid talking about Trump's policies — yes, even his foreign policy.
So, to review, Donald Trump is a Republican and free market conservative businessman who opposes the free market exchange of fossil fuels, who believes the US should become a mercantilist colonial power that steals natural resources from other countries, and who opposed the 2003 Iraq invasion but believes the US should have re-invaded in 2013.
It turns out that Donald Trump's central foreign policy plank is the same as his central domestic policy plank: that Donald Trump is very successful, and the rest of the world should be assimilated into his successes.

Matthew Bodner — Russian Defense Industry Revenues Soar Despite Western Sanctions

Replacement for exporting natural resources?
Russia's major defense industry enterprises shrugged off Western sanctions and a Russian economic slowdown to grow their revenues rapidly in 2014, according to a new global ranking. 
The Defense News Top 100 ranking is published annually and ranks the world's top arms makers by revenue. Russian firms bucked a global downward trend in defense revenues thanks to an expansion of military spending by the Russian government and increasing defense exports, which reached new highs in 2014.
The Moscow Times
Russian Defense Industry Revenues Soar Despite Western Sanctions
Matthew Bodner

Esther Yu-Hsi Lee — The Majority Of GOP Voters Want Mass Deportation, But It’ll Cost Them

Translation: 63% of GOP voters are racists? Looks like the 2016 presidential is going to be about (non-white) immigration.

According to the poll, white Evangelicals, older voters, people who did not attend college, Republicans, and voters who live in rural areas tended to be more supportive of deportation compared to granting legal status to the undocumented population.

CNN reported that “Republican voters who say their views are not represented at all by the government in Washington are far more likely than other Republicans to back Trump’s run for the White House,” many of whom also favor his position to focus on border security and deport undocumented immigrants.
Trump seems to be attracting "low information voters" in droves.

Looks like the 2016 presidential is going to be about (non-white) immigration.

Think Progress
The Majority Of GOP Voters Want Mass Deportation, But It’ll Cost Them
Esther Yu-Hsi Lee

Colin Gorenstein — Donald Trump says Sarah Palin is a “really special person” who would be great on his presidential cabinet

Say what?
Did you know that a Sarah Palin-themed radio show called “The Palin Update” exists? It does. And Monday’s guest on the “Mama Grizzly”-hosted program was no other than GOP frontrunner Donald Trump.

Turns out, there’s a very good reason Trump agreed to appear on the show: In his words, she’s “really a special person.” A special person that he’s been considering for his cabinet. 
Asked by host/Palin-stan Kevin Scholla whether he could see himself having governor Palin “along in some capacity” (“picking up the phone, giving [her] a call and picking her brain on some things”), Trump responded:

“I’d love that. Because she really is somebody who knows what’s happening and she’s a special person, she’s really a special person and I think people know that.” 
What’s more, Trump later declared that “everybody loves” Palin. She’s “tough” and “smart” — unlike the current Republican rivals who are “weak” and “ineffective” leaders, he said. “[Voters] like the Sarah Palin kind of strength, you just don’t see very much of it anymore.” 
Another vice-presidential run?

Donald Trump says Sarah Palin is a “really special person” who would be great on his presidential cabinet

Kate Aronoff — Have reports of the death of capitalism been greatly exaggerated?

Late last week, economic journalist Paul Mason, whose Channel 4 blog has been one of the best English-language sources for making sense of the ongoing Greek crisis, published an excerpt from his forthcoming book in The Guardian. It announces that the end of capitalism has begun and that (spoiler) it doesn’t look how we thought it might. The 20th century old/new leftist dream of some crisis-sparked proletarian revolt, he argues, has been battered by neo-liberalism and, now, is being replaced by a steady trickle of viable, largely technology-fuelled alternatives to the current economy. “Capitalism, it turns out, will not be abolished by forced-march techniques,” Mason writes. “It will be abolished by creating something more dynamic that exists, at first, almost unseen within the old system, but which will break through, reshaping the economy around new values and behaviors.”…
But as Leah Hunt-Hendrix and Astra Taylor noted recently for The Nation, there’s no ready-made path from information to liberation. “Our high-tech tools are constrained by market incentives and government surveillance interests that are often intertwined,” they wrote. “We cannot think about surveillance without paying keen attention to the corporations that benefit from it and the deep inequities that result.” Not only is there a barely-hidden world of workers making the digital revolution possible, but tech itself is already being used to serve the interests of those driving our current, vastly unequal economy. It deserves noting that some of the biggest fans of decentralization — technological or otherwise — are right-wing libertarians, who would be as happy to see workplace protections stripped as they would to see a new start-up food co-op take root….
Mason’s call to “direct all actions towards the transition — not the defense of random elements of the old system,” to focus solely on building alternatives, is a false dichotomy. If Syriza’s project in Greece has shown anything, it’s that combining a broad-based solidarity economy with political power is deeply threatening to neo-liberalism, the top brass of which will risk self-implosion to stamp it out. Acting alone, Solidarity for All didn’t provoke a sadistic backlash from Greece’s creditors. Syriza’s victory at the polls, its leadership’s presence at the negotiating table in Brussels, and the egalitarian populist parties grasping at state power across the Mediterranean did — but neither the challenge nor the solution could exist without the other.

 If the early 20th century labor heroine Lucy Parsons were alive now, she might add an addendum on to the statement she’s best remembered by: “Never be deceived that the rich will permit you to innovate away their wealth.” Today’s movements will need to be at least as creative as the forces they’re taking on, and be building solutions that are even more so. Post-capitalism is coming, but a new and even more disruptive tradition of organizing will have to clear the way first.
Open Democracy
Have reports of the death of capitalism been greatly exaggerated?
Kate Aronoff

Markha Valenta — Neoliberal realpolitik: choking others in our name

This is a fairly long article but it is worth reading in full. I pulled out some representative quotes.
The project of Europe has transformed from one of collective liberation from war, poverty and brutality to one of nauseating inhumanity for the sake of maintaining our comfort and welfare. This is presented to us as an a-political matter: not an ideological choice made by politicians, but an economic necessity carried out pragmatically. In the process, there is an Orwellian inversion of terms, such that the failure of the euro is presented as success, oligarchy is presented as politically representative, democratic protest as disruptive and irrelevant, human suffering as a side-issue, sovereignty as the freedom to agree and submit, austerity as realistic, our self-interest as the same as that of banks and the corporate-political elite, and alternatives as non-existent.
In other words, the neoliberalization of Europe is being presented to us as the solution to the very disorder and violence it itself produces.…
Indeed, in another Europe, a Europe we have yet to make, this would be criminal. 
It would be criminal precisely for the reason that bad policies by politicians are not: the policies of the Troika and the Eurogroup have no political or democratic legitimacy but were born of informal alliances and backroom agreements by a small oligarchic clique, a center of power answerable to no one. Under such conditions – of governance without normative or democratic grounding – legal culpability is essential if we in any fashion take the notion of a humane, rather than vicious, Europe seriously.…
This has cleared the way for a radical politics of dehumanization. A Neoliberal realpolitik. A realpolitik that in the name of Europe negates the Europe that gave birth to it: the Europe of democracy, solidarity and equality.…
Sustaining this endeavor is the fantasy that the economic policies of the Troika supersede politics itself. Tusk himself asserts that there are no alternatives. The neoliberal conceit is precisely this: that its policies are not politics but the neutral application of invariant, impersonal and transcendent economic mechanisms.
In other words, Greece has exposed the raw split between Europe’s ethical and political core. While Europe’s formal ethics are those of inclusive human equality in diversity, dignity and security, the political ideology is one of socio-economic precarity and inequality, harsh realist politics, nationalist chauvinism, Calvinist discipline and punishment. Two visions for the future of Europe are increasingly clearly delineated: one which follows Schäuble’s fantasies for an intensified political and economic union of Europe’s rich few and another that reconfigures a future Europe along the lines of its original values, willing to pay the price, quite literally, that it will take to make Europe more egalitarian, inclusive, diverse and humane.….
This condition in which we find ourselves marks the coming to fruition of arguments and policies tried out elsewhere for the last three decades and now making their way into Europe’s heartland. Until now, their objects have been those most distant from us: far away, in Third World countries subjected to the rapacious incisions of the IMF and World Bank; closer by in the East Bloc countries subjected to a ferocious liberalization after the Cold War; and closer yet, along our borders, extending into the inner reaches of our cities, in the regimes that have sprung up to control, exploit and expel poor people from beyond Europe when and where they seek entry into what is considered to be “ours”. 
Until now, the preeminent guinea pigs of neoliberal realpolitik in Europe have been those who are not yet, are not completely or will never be the citizens of Europe.…
That is to say: part of the shock of the moment is to see a European country and people treated as if they are a dark Third World (Muslim) one. To see the Greeks treated as a people that do not deserve to be European and must prove their intent to reform, to be disciplined, to earn our good graces. As a people that does not deserve the full palette of recognition, dignity, democratic self-assertion, and protection from exploitation that are the birthright of (white, middle-class, elite) Europeans. The invisible boundary that divided the world between the West and the poor, brown, Muslim Rest has been breached…
One of the distinctive aspects of a hegemonic, repressive system is that it presents itself as the solution to the chaos it itself creates. It is no different with Neoliberalism.…
Open Democracy
Neoliberal realpolitik: choking others in our name
Markha Valenta

Noam Chomsky — Creating the Horror Chambers

Dan Falcone: I wanted to stay on the topic of education and ask you about language, terminology, and definitions in the social sciences. So for example, I’ve noticed in my curriculum that there’s a tendency to have terms with a real definition and then a code definition. Terms like foreign aid, independence movements, partition, and democracy. 
Two terms that I know are of particular interest to you are anarchism and libertarianism. Could you discuss the varying definitions of those two terms, anarchism and libertarianism? Maybe the American definition versus the European, and why that’s important for education to sort out?
Noam Chomsky: There’s hardly a term in social science, political discourse, academic professions, and the scholarly professions where there’s anything remotely like clear definitions. If you want a clear definition, you have to go to mathematics or parts of physics.
Definitions are basically parts of theoretical structures. A definition doesn’t mean anything unless it’s embedded in some theory of some explanatory scope. And in these areas, there really are no such theories. So the terms are in fact used very loosely. They have a strong ideological component.
Take, say, democracy. The United States, I’m sure in your school, they teach as the world’s leading democracy. It’s also a country in which about 70 percent of the population, the lower 70 percent on the income scale, are completely disenfranchised.
Their opinions have no detectable influence on the decisions of their own representatives. Which is a good reason to believe, a large reason, why a huge number of people don’t bother voting. They know that it’s a waste of time. So is that a democracy? No, not really.
And you could say the same about almost any other term. Sometimes it’s almost laughable. So for example, in 1947, the US government changed the name of the War Department. They changed it to the Defense Department — any person with a brain functioning knew that we’re not going to be involved in defense anymore. We’re going to be involved in aggression. They didn’t have to read Orwell to know that. And in fact, religiously, every time you read about the war budget, it’s called the defense budget. And defense now means war, very much as in Orwell. And pretty much across the board.…
Creating the Horror Chambers
Dan Falcone interviews Noam Chomsky

The Saker — The new Russian Naval Doctrine – one very important sentence

“A defining factor in (our) relations with NATO remains that for Russia the following is unacceptable: the alliance’s plan to move its infrastructure to the borders of Russia and the attempts to give the alliance a global role“.
Saker analyzes what it means.

The Vineyard of the Saker
The new Russian Naval Doctrine – one very important sentence
The Saker

Philip Chrysopoulos — European Commission Denies Varoufakis’ Accusations of Controlling Greece’s Tax Agency

“On what Mr Varoufakis has been saying, the allegations that the Troika was controlling the general secretariat of public revenue are false and unfounded,” European Commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva told a news briefing.
“The general secretariat of public revenue is a quasi-independent entity, responsible for tax administration, that is formally part of the Finance Ministry,” Andreeva explained.
“The Commission and IMF only provide technical assistance to the tax administration but certainly do not control [the agency],” she added. “Alleging that the Troika would be controlling the secretariat… is simply not true.” 
Greek Reporter
European Commission Denies Varoufakis’ Accusations of Controlling Greece’s Tax Agency
Philip Chrysopoulos

See also

Supreme Court Brings Lawsuits Against Varoufakis to Greek Parliament

Murtaza Hussain — Scott Walker Foreign Policy Guru Called for Nuking Muslim Countries, Mass Deportations

At an event earlier this month to formally launch his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker cited a man in the crowd named Kevin Hermening as a formative influence on his foreign policy thinking. Hermening, a former U.S. Marine who was held hostage during the 1979 Iranian revolution, is a longtime friend of Walker, and has been described in press reports as “the face of Walker’s foreign policy.” The governor has repeatedly cited Hermening as a major influence on his worldview, including his opposition to the Obama administration’s recent nuclear deal with Iran.
But Walker’s choice of Hermening as a foreign policy counselor raises serious questions about Walker’s understanding of the issues. Hermening has publicly advocated conducting nuclear strikes against the capital cities of Muslim-majority countries, as well as the mass deportation of undocumented immigrants, particularly those of “Middle Eastern descent” from the United States.
In 2001, Hermening wrote an op-ed in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel calling for a response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks that would include “the destruction of the capitals of Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Sudan and Yemen,” unless the governments of those countries unequivocally agreed to help kill Osama bin Laden. “Every military response must be considered, including the use of nuclear weapons,” he wrote. In his commentary Hermening also called upon the United States to erect security fences “along the entire perimeter of the United States,” as well as deport “every illegal alien and immigrant, with a focus on removing those of Middle Eastern descent.” ….
Walker responded to Bice’s column on Monday. “I’ll speak for myself,” he told the Journal Sentinel. “My policy is very clear, and it’s not aligned with what he said in that particular column.” Walker told the newspaper that he does not consider Hermening an adviser, even though his campaign has featured him prominently. Walker’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment from The Intercept.…
The Intercept
Scott Walker Foreign Policy Guru Called for Nuking Muslim Countries, Mass Deportations
Murtaza Hussain

Sean Guillory — Ukraine is ripe for the shock doctrine

Serial rapists and their willing victims. Sadomasochism?

Open Democracy
Ukraine is ripe for the shock doctrine
Sean Guillory

Chris Dillow — On centrist utopianism

There's a common theme here. It's centrist utopianism - the idea that moderate and feasible tweaks within capitalism can generate big improvements.… 
I say all this as a counterweight to a longstanding prejudice - that centrists and moderates are realistic and hard-headed whilst we leftists are utopian dreamers. Of course, this accusation applies to some on the left - anything is true of someone - but for me the opposite is the case. I'm a Marxist because I'm a pessimist. It is those who think that (actually-existing) capitalism is easily reformable so that inefficiencies and injustices can be eliminated who seem to me to be the dreamers.…
Stumbling and Mumbling
On centrist utopianism
Chris Dillow | Investors Chronicle

Gilbert Doctorow — Has Gaullisme returned to France? The French parliamentary delegation’s visit to Crimea

The ins and outs of French (and German) politics and policy.

Une parole franche
Has Gaullisme returned to France? The French parliamentary delegation’s visit to Crimea
Gilbert Doctorow

Cathy O’Neil — Greek Debt and German Banks

Are you fascinated by the “debt as moral weight” arguments you see being tossed around and viciously debated over in Germany and Greece nowadays? It seems like the moral debate has superseded the economic reality of the situation. Even the IMF has declared the current Greek deal untenable, but that hasn’t seemed to interfere with the actual negotiations.
What gives? Many point to history to explain this. Besides the whole Nazi thing, or maybe exactly because of it, the Greeks keep reminding the Germans that they (and others) forgave half of existing German debt after World War II, with the1953 London Debt Agreement. The Germans have responded vehemently that such ancient history is irrelevant, and that the Greeks are a bunch of lazy olive-eating tax avoiders. It’s a dirty fight, and getting dirtier every week.
I maintain we don’t have to examine the history of 60 years ago to understand at least some of the moral anxiety. Instead we should look a mere 7 years ago, at the enormous German bailout of their own banks, which had invested quite recklessly in all sorts of the most risky financial instruments and, most relevantly, Greek bonds.…
This is not to suggest that there was perfect planning going on by the previous Greek governments. But I do think that, if we’re looking for who deserves blame in this story, we might want to circle back to the German bankers who couldn’t resist subprime mortgages and Greek bonds back in the early 2000’s.
Greek Debt and German Banks
Cathy O’Neil
ht Brad DeLong

Bonus: There is link in the upper right hand column to download the second edition of Occupy Finance free.

Bill Mitchell — IMF on Greece – they haven’t learned from their mistakes

In the most recent take of the Greek crisis, the IMF seems to have come out as being the reasonable part of the Troika as a result of its last minute release of a document where it said that Greece’s debt position was unsustainable and that any longer-term settlement of the crisis would require “debt relief measures that go far beyond what Europe has been willing to consider so far”. But a closer reading of that report (July 14, 2015) – An Update of IMF Staff’s Preliminary Public Debt Sustainability Analysis – tells me that the IMF hasn’t learned very much at all from the disastrous and repeated mistakes they made that have deepened and prolonged the Euro crisis. They are still hanging on to the neo-liberal mantra that if only Greece had followed the ‘structural reform’ program fully it would now be out of crisis and not in need of debt relief. It is a pipe dream that only these neo-liberals can contrive when their whacky ideas are confronted with the reality of the monetary system.…
As Michael Hudson is fond of saying, "junk economics." As these people blinded by ideology, or just plain stupid. Or maybe insane, repeating failure aka digging the hole deeper, while expecting different results.

Bill Mitchell – billy blog
IMF on Greece – they haven’t learned from their mistakes
Bill Mitchell | Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), at University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia

Was I right or was I right? Stupid eventually sinks to the bottom.

Back in 2012 I wrote an article about hedge fund little boy, David Einhorn.

(Click on the image above to read the entire post.)

In that post I talked about how Einhron was at some conference and made some really stupid idiotic comments like these:

"Norway is the only country in the world which can finance itself."
"China is misunderstood and is not an investment opportunity because it doesn't have enough money to feed the economy."

Norway can "finance" itself? Yeah, um, is that a revelation? (He's right, but for the wrong reasons.)

And China doesn't have enough yuan? Is he serious?

I think at that conference or shortly thereafter Einhorn announced that he had a huge position in gold because he said that he had dinner with Bernanke and was scared shitless at the answers to the questions he  posed to the former Fed Chairman. His thoughts went something like, "Wow, all this QE and 'money printing' is going to create hyperinflation."

Right...he didn't even BEGIN to understand monetary operations. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Totally fucking clueless.

And NOW we see this:

Hahahaaha!!!!!!! The gods have delivered!!

Einhorn has deservedely been slaughtered in gold. He's Schiff with a bigger purse and maybe not for long!

These guys are the worst...the absolute, worst. As far as I am concerned they cannot lose money quick enough. If governemnt won't "euthanize" them, which they won't, then maybe they'll just die off from their own stupidity. But that's probably wishful thinking because I'm sure they'll  just get their bought politicians friends to enact laws and policies that force their victims to pay them back for all their losses.

Yes, Einhorn's a billionaire and for the life of me I will never be able to figure out how that happened. If Einstein were alive today he'd have trouble with that, too, and by the way, Albert Einstein was arguably one of the smartest humans to ever walk the planet, but he made like $60k per year in today's money. Just sayin'.

What irony...Einsten and Einhorn. The names sound very similar, but BOY, what a difference.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Sputnik — Kalashnikovs of Tomorrow: Musk, Hawking, Wozniak Fear Killer Robot Armies

Fears of artificial intelligence (AI) gone wrong prompted more than a thousand scholars and public figures - including theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, SpaceX founder Elon Musk and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak - to sign an open letter, cautioning that the autonomous weapons race is “a bad idea” and presents a major threat to humanity.

The letter, presented Monday at the International Joint Conference on AI in Buenos Aires by Future of Life Institute, warns about the high stakes of modern robotic systems that have reached a point at which they are to be feasible within just years, and that "a global arms race is virtually inevitable."
"This technological trajectory is obvious: autonomous weapons will become the Kalashnikovs of tomorrow," the letter states.

"Unlike nuclear weapons, they require no costly or hard-to-obtain raw materials, so they will become ubiquitous and cheap for all significant military powers to mass-produce. It will only be a matter of time until they appear on the black market and in the hands of terrorists, dictators wishing to better control their populace, warlords wishing to perpetrate ethnic cleansing, etc."

While AI may promise to be truly beneficial to humanity in many ways, it has to be kept under strict controls, and perhaps even banned, the letter suggests, while warning that lethal autonomous weapons systems — or more simply, killer robots — which engage targets without human intervention, are on par with various weapons of mass destruction…
Opening Pandora's box, or letting the genie out of the bottle?

Kalashnikovs of Tomorrow: Musk, Hawking, Wozniak Fear Killer Robot Armies

Fyodor Lukyanov — The world enters an era of uncertainty

The world has been undergoing painful changes for a long time. But the uncertainty that is spreading now concerns not only the future, but also the effectiveness of the known methods of solving social problems.
The disturbing symptom of the past period was the more frequent talks about the approaching big war. The fear, which seemed to have disappeared forever at the turn of the 1990s, is coming back. At the same time, as noted by many experts, there are no real grounds for either an arms race or a serious clash of interests. But in today's world, the line between reality and illusion has almost faded.
Russia and India Report
The world enters an era of uncertainty
Fyodor Lukyanov, head of Russia's Council on Foreign and Defense Policy
First published in Russian by Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

Martin Kirk — Greece: It’s All Going With the Flow

Reading the commentaries on Greece in the last few weeks, it’s clear that there is a degree of genuine shock and consternation rippling through groups who have traditionally been the main cheerleaders of the EU. How is it, people are asking, that we got to this place where the sovereignty of a nation can be overridden by the elite in this way? How can it be acceptable that a small, unelected and unaccountable set of technocrats can be free to micromanage the Greek economy, right up to dictating how much bakers get paid, and even putting public assets into a private trust, like a parent putting candy out of reach of a child because they cannot be trusted with it. The degree of patronization is staggering and has led Nick Cohen to diagnose the EU as a “cruel, fanatical and stupid institution,” and Owen Jones to go so far as to argue that the left should now reject the EU as a political project.

I, too, feel a visceral revulsion at the way Greece has been treated, and I am increasingly of the opinion that the EU as an institution must be rejected. And I do mean the EU, not the Troika. The EU is ultimately the responsible party here; it invited and made space for IMF dominance; it sanctioned the establishment and operating principles of the Eurogroup as a extra-legal entity that has wielded extraordinary financial and, by short extension, legal power; and it is directly responsible for the legal structuring of the ECB, which, as George Monbiot points out, “enjoys “political independence”. This does not mean that it is free from politics, only that it is free from democracy.” 
But my reasons go beyond Greece, beyond even the EU, to the fact that this is all merely one example of a global drift away from democracy, towards a form of public/private governance whose raison d’être is capital generation. Not as a service to humanity, but as a purpose and an end point unto itself.

When seen in this larger reality, what’s happened to Greece looks less like an unfortunate but contained European phenomenon and more like a vivid example of a form of governance that people the world over should be extremely wary of. In other words, Greece is a cautionary tale for all of us, that warns us how fully our governance structures have been captured by elite, private interests.…
Neoliberalism is antithetical to democracy.

Story Europe
Greece: It’s All Going With the Flow
Martin Kirk
ht Clonal

fritzmorgen — The Weakening Tentacles of SWIFT

Blowback from US economic warfare — creation of an alternative payments system.

Fort Russ
The Weakening Tentacles of SWIFT
Original: The Weakening Tentacles of SWIFT
Translated from Russian by J.Hawk

Ben Aris and Nick Allen — Power to the people

Conversion from previously subsidized socialist economies to capitalism bites, creating social unrest, as market price sticker shock hits.

Johnson's Russia List
Power to the people; As Electric Yerevan showed, governments throughout Central and Eastern Europe and Eurasia will face the risk of social and political unrest when they move to compel their citizens to pay market rates for electricity
Business New Europe – Ben Aris in Moscow and Nick Allen in Berlin

What's capitalism and what is neoliberal capitalism?

Heather Stewart — Wealth doesn't trickle down – it just floods offshore, research reveals

The sheer scale of the hidden assets held by the super-rich also suggests that standard measures of inequality, which tend to rely on surveys of household income or wealth in individual countries, radically underestimate the true gap between rich and poor.
Milorad Kovacevic, chief statistician of the UN Development Programme's Human Development Report, says both the very wealthy and the very poor tend to be excluded from mainstream calculations of inequality.
"People that are in charge of measuring inequality based on survey data know that the both ends of the distribution are underrepresented – or, even better, misrepresented," he says.
"There is rarely a household from the top 1% earners that participates in the survey. On the other side, the poor people either don't have addresses to be selected into the sample, or when selected they misquote their earnings – usually biasing them upwards."
So it is actually worse than we thought.

The Guardian
Wealth doesn't trickle down – it just floods offshore, research reveals
Heather Stewart
ht Lambert Stether at Naked Capitalism and Corrente

Miles Kimball — "Aristotle saw people not as striving to maximize a state of satisfaction, and also not as striving..."

Aristotle saw people not as striving to maximize a state of satisfaction, and also not as striving to perform a list of duties. He saw them, instead, as striving to achieve a life that included all the activities to which, on reflection, they decided to attach intrinsic value.

Confessions of a Supply Side Liberal
"Aristotle saw people not as striving to maximize a state of satisfaction, and also not as striving..."
Miles Kimball | Professor of Economics and Survey Research at the University of Michigan

Dirk Ehnts — Schäuble supports European Treasury, which might fight recessions

The proposal of a Euro Treasury is a first ray of light that the euro zone’s policy makers have learned the lessons from 2010-14. However, it critically depends on the capability to deficit-spend, meaning that a Treasury that can use only taxes would be useless to fulfill its job of fighting recessions in the euro zone.
econoblog 101
Schäuble supports European Treasury, which might fight recessions
Dirk Ehnts | Berlin School for Economics and Law

Nick Bunker — Rising U.S. compensation inequality and productivity growth

If the question you want to answer is ultimately how well labor as a whole is being compensated for its productivity, this data choice is the right way to go. Lawrence finds evidence of a break between productivity and average labor compensation around 2000, just as he did in a recent National Bureau of Economic Research working paper. This break means that labor as a whole is receiving a declining share of income, with the gains from productivity go to the owners of capital instead.
But what if we want to think about how productivity growth results in rising standards of living for workers on different rungs of the economic ladder? Then we need to look at what’s happening to the distribution of compensation. It may have been that compensation for labor as a whole tracked productivity until 2000, but it’s not clear how well productivity growth was translating into growth and higher living standards for all workers.
Note: The assumption of trickle down is that higher growth rate per capita implies a higher standard of living for all through distributional effects based on market forces.

WCEG — The Equitablog
Rising U.S. compensation inequality and productivity growth
Nick Bunker

Yanis Varoufakis — Statement by Yanis Varoufakis on the FinMin’s Plan B Working Group & the parallel payment system

Yanis's side of the story.
Regarding the recent article by “Kathimerini” newspaper entitled “Plan B involving highjacking and hacking”, Kathimerini’s failure to contact Mr Varoufakis for comment and its reporter’s erroneous references to “highjacking tax file numbers of all taxpayers” sowed confusion and contributed to the media-induced disinformation.
Yanis Varoufakis
Statement by Yanis Varoufakis on the FinMin’s Plan B Working Group & the parallel payment system

Subsistence Living Amidst Hoarded Plenty - vs - The Insanely Great Performance Of Social Species

   (Commentary posted by Roger Erickson)

The “sharing economy,” or a brief recurrence of sharecropping mentality? Or both? Should we be complacent, giddy with relief, or expect even more depressing hardship before sanity breaks out again, on a larger scale? Is everything going to change as much -  better or worse - as plentiful prophets are always claiming?
"You only find this new economy if you look hard for it. In Greece, when a grassroots NGO mapped the country’s food co-ops, alternative producers, parallel currencies and local exchange systems they found more than 70 substantive projects and hundreds of smaller initiatives ranging from squats to carpools to free kindergartens. To mainstream economics such things seem barely to qualify as economic activity – but that’s the point. They exist because they trade, however haltingly and inefficiently, in the currency of postcapitalism: free time, networked activity and free stuff. It seems a meagre and unofficial and even dangerous thing from which to craft an entire alternative to a global system, but so did money and credit in the age of Edward III."

Uh ... so what? I'm not sure this helps anyone. It's just stating what all can see, without making any useful suggestions, or any useful warnings.

Let's start with the warnings. A national government is the ultimate current example of cooperative coordination, and is a remarkable achievement for any population. Tearing an organized government apart, and attempting to replace it with isolated pockets of coordination is NOT necessarily progress. In fact, that's the same, insanely juvenile, logic that various Bolsheviks & Capitalists, from Stalin to Pol Pot to Scott Walker and the Koch brothers, fell back on. Tear some highly evolved thing apart, and plan to replace it with something better? Like 5-yr olds dismantling a watch, that strategy rarely, if ever works, while evolution does.

Meanwhile, if you look at the insane profit margins of firms like Uber, they present ample opportunities for Capitalists (or Pol Pots) to - once again, and a little bit longer - steal the commons. This time, they're stealing your time, which is rather like belling the cats. Except this time it's belling the distributed cats that invent innovations, so that the bell-makers can steal them faster. The form changes, but not the goal.

Yes, new forms of coordination will continue to break out, but don't expect pickpockets with MBA degrees to stop stealing whole railroads.

Sinks in any system stop destroying aggregate output ONLY when sources surround sinks with enough warning lights and stop signs.

The desired outcome of the process we call "coordination" is to reduce any & all frictions, from individual frictions to institutional frictions. Success tracks our ability to fine tune the little things that keep us and all of our institutions from working at cross purposes. (Kudos to Col. Casey Haskins for helping to drive home that concept.)

Who controls what Marx called the “power of knowledge?” To a biologist, that seems like a specious question - revealing that the questioners mind is trapped in the capitalist dogma of agent-based competition to seize & control - for what sustainable purpose, they never explain.

Doesn't it seem more sensible to instead ask, why anyone would limit the power of aggregates to compound knowledge? Isn't that the same logic as "why shrink the flock of geese that lay golden eggs?"

To a biologist, this whole discussion is an aberrant tangent. Capitalism is no more than the mores of a bandit or Cossack camp, a population with members recently & briefly ripped from integration in a social species. Given time, even bandit bands re-invent coordination & teamwork, and return to their social-species instincts. The only question is, how much time? The answer depends on the cleverness the bandits wield, and the contexts they find themselves in. No one said evolution is easy, just unstoppable.

Our "general intellect" won't blow anything sky high, except in the mind of the aberrants. It will just allow us to regain the aggregate-intellectual-agility we once had in fluid tribal societies, before our growth spurt created our existing, supra-tribal population sizes, and thereby briefly turned us into the less-agile bandit super-society we call capitalism.

Paul Mason seems to be missing his own forest, by populating it with one too many of his own, distracting trees. All those little experiments in "sharing" on a larger scale? They started from scratch, mostly BECAUSE few, if any of the participants knew they were supposed to read attempted summaries of unpredictably distributed innovations, by people like Paul Mason. And, as noted, they were just prevented from continuing coordination on a national scale, through use of a functional government serving the needs and desires of the people.

It may come across as harsh, but what useful purpose does Paul Mason play? He travels around telling people what they see in their own mirrors? I don't get it. Does anyone remember the name of the Dinosaur who traveled around telling compatriots that the end of sauropods was occurring? Methinks it was rather obvious to all, and they didn't throw parties for scribes recording the obvious. In fact, they probably ate him.

Now about those requested suggestions. What would help cut through all the useless chatter and clutter of banalities? Maybe cooperative interactions with each other? How many of each other? There's the rub. If citizens could know summaries of what ALL of their co-citizens knew, they wouldn't have to worry about their food supply or "money" supply. They'd have more options, plenty of free time, and literally endless suggestions. For now, I'll only make one suggestion.  Personally, I think that we should be paying one helluva lot of attention to what gets taught in those cooperative kindergartens. Tomorrow's aggregate adaptive rate may well depend largely on the utility of such adaptive methods.

We are what we practice, we practice what we train, we train what we teach, and we teach what we see (not what we say).

In the end, we as a people learn the dynamic sum of what we do, and our descendants live with the outcomes we deserve.

It's literally not enough even to do unto others what you would have done to you. To make your culture even more adaptive, you now have to do unto the 7th generation yet unborn what subtle, small things you would have had your ancestors prepare for you. That's how subtle & complex our adaptive challenges now are.  In other words, our challenge is to think ahead, as never before, and more every year.

If that cascade isn't actively and exquisitely coordinated into a whole greater than the sum of it's parts, then we get the distributed civil war of capitalism, instead of the insanely great performance of finely tuned, highly adaptive, social species.

Dollar is tanking

Dollar down over 100 pips against the yen this morning. Euro is up over 1.11. Even very weak currencies like the NZ dollar are getting into the act, up 80 pips overnight.

What's causing this?

Not sure, but I have been saying that U.S. Federal Gov't spending has been slowing. This may be starting to be felt through purchase/supply channels, etc. Forex markets reacting.

As for the euro, I don't think there is huge upside because if the U.S. economy weakens as a result of a spending slowdown, then European exporters will start cutting prices again. Furthermore, Greece is not out of the woods; it just bought some time with the new bailout deal.

Anyway, I am a trader. If the dollar is falling now I am shorting it. By the short USDJPY position, which I have had on for two weeks is near turning a profit now.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Yanis Varoufakis — For an alliance of national liberation fronts – by Stefano Fassina MP

Stefano Fassina, MP and former Deputy Finance Minister of Italy, kindly sent me the following opinion piece. While convinced that the “controlled disintegration of the eurozone” that he advocates is pregnant with great dangers, this is a debate that Europeans cannot eschew.
Yanis Varoufakis
For an alliance of national liberation fronts – by Stefano Fassina MP


EU refuses to acknowledge mistakes made in Greek bailout – by Richard Koo
Richard Koo sent me recently his latest, Nomura, assessment on Greece and our negotiations with the EU and the IMF. As always, Richard’s views make for fascinating reading. Here is the pdf copy that he has made available to us.

Bill Mitchell — The damage of the Thatcher sea-change

When socio-economic historians reflect back in the decades to come, they will what insanity ruled the economic policy choices that have been taken in the last three or so decades. They will conclude that arrangements such as the Eurozone was the work of lunatics who systematically undermined the prosperity of millions of people and polarised their societies as a consequence. There is no possible way that the Eurozone can be constructed as a successful monetary arrangement.
The deeply flawed design of the common currency in Europe, was, in part, the product of the shift towards Monetarism and its microeconomic analogue (deregulation, privatisation, outsourcing etc) that surged back into dominance in the 1970s, after its main ideas had been thoroughly discredited and dismissed during the Great Depression. While Margaret Thatcher was not the first Monetarist government (that title goes to the government of President Giscard d’Estaing who appointed Raymond Barre as the Prime minister and Minister of Economy and Finance in 1976), her regime certainly influenced the spread of neo-liberal thinking among policy circles, particularly in the Anglo world.
What is still not acknowledged is the damage done by that swing to so-called free-market policies, which would be better called pro-business capture given there was no real market forces unleashed, just an industry of parasitic, rent-seeking profiteers closely followed by the massive growth in the unproductive, wealth-shuffling financial sector. A recently released report (June 10, 2015) – The Macroeconomic Impact of Liberal Economic Policies – from researchers at the University of Cambridge lets us know more closely how damaging this period was and challenges the view that the best way forward is even more austerity and deregulation.…
[I have introduced paragraphing for readability. The original is one introductory paragraph.]

Bill Mitchell – billy blog
The damage of the Thatcher sea-change
Bill Mitchell | Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), at University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia

teleSUR — Ecuador's President Correa Warns of Further Destabilization

The South American country has recently been witness to often-violent protests by opposition forces, who are demanding that Correa’s government proposed tax reforms, that would make the wealthiest pay more, should be scrapped. The government has delayed the measures pending a national dialogue and retains strong support according to recent polls.
Ecuador's President Correa Warns of Further Destabilization

Trump Cast as Perfect Ringleader of Corporate Media Circus — Jessica Desvarieux interviews Robert W. McChesney

Despite outspending the world in elections, U.S. voter turnout is historically low because of media's focus on the interest of the elite, says University of Illinois Professor Robert McChesney
Video and transcript

Real New Newsnetwork
Trump Cast as Perfect Ringleader of Corporate Media Circus
Jessica Desvarieux interviews Robert W. McChesney is the Gutgsell Endowed Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard — Varoufakis reveals cloak and dagger 'Plan B' for Greece, awaits treason charges

A secret cell at the Greek finance ministry hacked into the government computers and drew up elaborate plans for a system of parallel payments that could be switched from euros to the drachma at the "flick of a button" .
The revelations have caused a political storm in Greece and confirm just how close the country came to drastic measures before premier Alexis Tsipras gave in to demands from Europe's creditor powers, acknowledging that his own cabinet would not support such a dangerous confrontation.

Yanis Varoufakis, the former finance minister, told a group of investors in London that a five-man team under his control had been working for months on a contingency plan to create euro liquidity if the European Central Bank cut off emergency funding to the Greek financial system, as it in fact did after talks broke down and Syriza called a referendum.

The transcripts were leaked to the Greek newspaper Kathimerini. The telephone call took place a week after he stepped down as finance minister.…
You'll want to read the rest of this even though it is a nice Sunday and you have other things to do.

This looks like the true story from Yanis. International intrigue.

The Telegraph
Varoufakis reveals cloak and dagger 'Plan B' for Greece, awaits treason charges
Ambrose Evans-Pritchard


This is more complete than the Telegraph article based on it.

Varoufakis claims had approval to plan parallel banking system
Xenia Kounalaki

Mehreen Khan — Europe braces itself for a revolutionary Leftist backlash after Greece

A pre-revolutionary fervour is sweeping Europe.

“The atmosphere is a little similar to the time after 1968 in Europe. I can feel, maybe not a revolutionary mood, but something like widespread impatience”.

These were the words of European council president Donald Tusk, 48 hours after Greece’s paymasters imposed the most punishing bail-out measures ever forced on a debtor nation in the eurozone’s 15-year history.

“I am really afraid of this ideological or political contagion”
Donald Tusk

A former Polish prime minister and a politician not prone to hyperbole, Tusk’s comments revealed Brussels’ fears of a bubbling rebellion across the continent.

“When impatience becomes not an individual but a social experience of feeling, this is the introduction for revolutions” said Tusk.

“I am really afraid of this ideological or political contagion.”….
I'm betting the Right to win this, not the Left. There is no Left. It's a myth. The Right is real and they have the swastika tattoos to prove it. Just (half) kidding.

The Telegraph
Europe braces itself for a revolutionary Leftist backlash after Greece
Mehreen Khan

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Oleg Nazarov — Junta is provoking Transcarpathia

European nationalism still a factor to be reckoned with.
J.Hawk's Comment: It is definitely true that Hungary is handing out its passports and citizenship hand over fist to Ukrainian nationals living outside Hungary's current borders. This policy has to be of considerable attractiveness to ethnic Hungarians and any Hungarian-speaking Rusyns because that's about the only way they can achieve visa-free travel into the EU in the foreseeable future.
In part it's Orban's recipe for electoral success--these expatriates unsurprisingly vote for his Fidesz party in droves, since that's the one party that really and truly defends the interests of Hungarian minorities abroad. However, intentionally or unintentionally, that policy might lead to some pretty serious Hungarian irredentism, and the fact that Romania's government (which has a much bigger Hungarian minority than Ukraine) is staunchly pro-Ukraine (and pro-US) is not an accident. Bucharest and Kiev have a common enemy, and that enemy isn't even Russia but rather Hungary.
Fort Russ
Junta is provoking Transcarpathia
Oleg Nazarov
Original: Junta is provoking Transcarpathia
Translated from Russian by J.Hawk

Corey Hoffman — Reaping the seeds that Austerity hath sown

Overlapping Consensus
Reaping the seeds that Austerity hath sown
Corey Hoffman

Ramanan — Federal Government And Regional Balance Of Payments

To summarize, the point of the above analysis is that the financial sector as a whole cannot achieve this on its own. It takes a federal government to not only affect demand in all regions but also keep their debts in check. The workings of finances of a federal government affects the asset and liability positions of any region as a whole. The financial sector cannot take up the task of a federal government.
The Case of Concerted Action
Federal Government And Regional Balance Of Payments

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