Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Ramanan — Glenn Greenwald On The New Yorker‘s Admission

It was the effects of neoliberal globalization that disadvantaged the middle class economically while enriching the top of town rather than "Russian hacking" or RT propaganda. This is what brought Hillary Clinton down, drove Brexit, and is stoking the resurgence of formerly right and left European fringe parties into the mainstream. Immigration is a stub context to that as citizens see immigration as imported completion for employment along with the labor embedded in imports and exported factories. Even the refugee crisis is the result of neoliberal globalization's siblings, neo-imperialism and neocolonialism, whose parents are economic liberalism and transnational corporate capitalism.

The Case for Concerted Action
Glenn Greenwald On The New Yorker‘s Admission
V. Ramanan

Robert Parry — Mainstream Media’s ‘Victimhood’

Donald Trump puts the shoe on the other foot of the lamestream media regarding "fake news." Media screams unfair.

Consortium News
Mainstream Media’s ‘Victimhood’
Robert Parry

Vinay Gupta — A Brief History of Blockchain

Important for everyone. It's not only a history of blockchain but also a projection of development and deployment.

Harvard Business Review
A Brief History of Blockchain
Vinay Gupta, founder of Hexayurt.Capital, a fund which invests in creating the Internet of Agreements™. He was instrumental in creating the Dubai Blockchain Strategy, project managed the Ethereum blockchain platform release, and invented the hexayurt refugee shelter. His areas of expertise include disaster management, energy policy, and computer graphics

David F. Ruccio — Why human capital is not capital

Neoclassical economists folded land into capital to obscure land rent. Now the push is on to fold labor into capital to obscure expropriation and exploitation as conditions in the creation and distribution of surplus value across the traditional factors or production — capital, land and labor.

Occasional Links & Commentary
Why human capital is not capital
David F. Ruccio | Professor of Economics, University of Notre Dame

Ramanan — The Kaldor-Verdoorn Law In Action

The Kaldor-Verdoorn Law conjectures that the causality is mainly from GDP to productivity. It’s not obvious to most economists. They do observe that GDP rises fast when productivity is rising fast but don’t see the direction of causality and assume it’s from the latter to the former....
The Case for Concerted Action
The Kaldor-Verdoorn Law In Action
V. Ramanan

Ryan continuing to undermine Trump

The Ayn Rand fan club #1 pin up boy at it again.

Monday, February 27, 2017

AP — Trump is Planning These Cuts to Make Way for a Military Spending Surge

Doesn't mention that the debt limit extension expires on the Ides of March.

Larry C. Johnson — It is Confirmed, The Russia/Trump Link is a LIE!!

Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (aka HPSCI) is Congressman Devin Nunes and he spoke to the press about the allegations swirling around the Trump Presidency and its relationship with Russians. The title from the SLATE piece says it all, GOP intelligence chairman David Nunes: “There’s no evidence of anything” regarding Russia-Trump campaign contacts.…
As I have been saying, lots of inference and innuendo, but zero evidence.

No Quarter
It is Confirmed, The Russia/Trump Link is a LIE!!
Larry C. Johnson | CEO and co-founder of BERG Associates, LLC, an international business-consulting firm with expertise combating terrorism and investigating money laundering, formerly Deputy Director in the U.S. State Department’s Office of Counter Terrorism (1989-1993, and CIA operations (1984-1989)

Jason Smith — NAIRU and other connections between inflation and employment

If you are still following this discussion, Jason Smith has some interesting observations.

Information Transfer Economics
NAIRU and other connections between inflation and employment
Jason Smith

Andrea BrandolinI — Inequality and economics: Tony Atkinson’s enduring lessons

Sir Tony Atkinson, the doyen of inequality economics, passed away in January. This column, by a longstanding friend and co-author, outlines his contributions to the analysis and measurement of inequality – and many other areas of economics, including taxation, social protection, and the welfare state. The ultimate goal of Atkinson’s research was to translate economic analysis into policy actions: economics is a tool for understanding the world and taking informed decisions on policies, but economists must strive to communicate their results beyond the narrow circles of decision-makers, making them accessible for public discussion.
VOX.eu Andrea Brandolini | Head of Statistical Analysis Directorate, Bank of Italy

Timothy Taylor — The Declining US Labor Share, Explicated

The tile should be "The Declining US Labor Share, Analyzed" instead of "Explicated." It's clear that the labor share has dropped relative to the capital (owners) share, but it is not clear why. The post examines some hypotheses.

Conversable Economist
The Declining US Labor Share, Explicated
Timothy Taylor | Managing editor of the Journal of Economic Perspectives, based at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota

Larry Johnson — What is Going On in Syria?

Looks like Trump is reversing Obama's policy on Syria and focusing on destroying ISIS rather than "Assad must go," just like he said he would. This means that the DoD now has control rather than the CIA. Under Obama the Pentagon was furious because the CIA was arming "moderate rebels" that turned many of their weapons over to Al Qaeda and ISIS,  the terrorists that the military was fighting. That seems to have abated.

No Quarter Usa Net
What is Going On in Syria?
Larry Johnson

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Dong Dong Zhang — How will Xi shake up the CCP?

The 19th Congress is China’s most important political event since 2012, marking the beginning of President Xi’s second term. The new central party leadership will rule China over the next five years, a critical time for realising the vision of China’s development that Xi set out to achieve.
The Chinese Dream has set two centenary goals. The first is to double China’s 2010 per capita income, making China a ‘moderately well off’ society by 2021, the centenary of the founding of the CCP. The second aims to make China a ‘strong, democratic, civilised, harmonious and modern socialist country by 2049’, the centenary of the founding of the People’s Republic....
A hundred years sounds like a long time to Americans, where the country is less than 300 years old. But a hundred years is a drop in the bucket for China, whose history extends across millennia.

East Asia Forum
How will Xi shake up the CCP?
Dong Dong Zhang

Where did Steve Bannon get his worldview? From my book.

"Bannon's brain."

The Washington Post
Where did Steve Bannon get his worldview? From my book.
Neil Howe, co- author with William Strauss of “Generations,” “The Fourth Turning” and “Millennials Rising.”

Why did the Federal Reserve start paying interest on reserve balances?

The article begins:

Four decades ago, Milton Friedman recommended that central banks like the Federal Reserve pay interest to depository institutions on the reserves...

Well... if Milton Friedman recommended it that's all we need... he probably worked it all out right?

Dr. Econ
Why did the Federal Reserve start paying interest on reserve balances held on deposit at the Fed?
Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco
March 2013

Spencer gets one correct

Interesting observation and correct use of the word 'libertarianism' with the small "l" here:

Lord Keynes — Bibliography on Post Keynesian Economics (Updated)

For your file.

Social Democracy For The 21St Century: A Post Keynesian Perspective
Bibliography on Post Keynesian Economics (Updated)
Lord Keynes

RAND Corporation's plan for dicing up Syria

The think tank of the Pentagon wants to divide Syria according to the model of Bosnia. The result would be ethnic cleansing and new, massive flood of immigrants.
The RAND Corporation, a leading US think tank close to the Pentagon, has published a report proposing a "Bosnian model" to resolve the Syrian conflict.... 
Fort Russ
RAND Corporation's plan for dicing up Syria
Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten, translated by Tom Winter

Diana Gitig — Darwin’s Unfinished Symphony: How food and culture made the human mind

Short review of Kevin Laland’s Darwin’s Unfinished Symphony.

Ars Technica
Darwin’s Unfinished Symphony: How food and culture made the human mind
Diana Gitig


Transitioning to a Closed System.
Mass immigration from the Third World is crippling workers in the economy, as Breitbart News reported in July. Every single job created from 2000 to 2014 went to foreign-born workers residing in the U.S.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Gareth Porter — How ‘New Cold Warriors’ Cornered Trump

The U.S. intelligence community’s extraordinary campaign of leaks claiming improper ties between President Trump’s team and Russia seeks to ensure a lucrative New Cold War by blocking detente, reports Gareth Porter.
Recap of events.

Consortium News
How ‘New Cold Warriors’ Cornered Trump
Gareth Porter

Alastair Crooke — Trump’s Embattled ‘Revolution’

Which of these two, reflects America’s likely path, more accurately? Has the Establishment now succeeded in walking-back Trump’s agenda? Who now speaks for the President?
The answer is not hard to fathom: return to Pat Buchanan’s clear explanation of how Trump became President: “He saw the surging power of American nationalism at home, and of ethno-nationalism in Europe. And he embraced Brexit. While our bipartisan establishment worships diversity, Trump saw Middle America recoiling from the demographic change, brought about by Third World invasions. And he promised to curb them.”
Obviously, it is the Trump-Bannon wing. Were Trump to abandon his reading of the nation and of the Europeans that brought him to the Presidency, he might as well throw in the towel now. He will not be re-elected.
Will the Pence-Priebus wing or Trump-Bannon wing win out in setting policy.

Consortium News
Trump’s Embattled ‘Revolution’
Alastair Crooke, former British diplomat who was a senior figure in British intelligence and in European Union diplomacy, and presently the founder and director of the Conflicts Forum

Michael Roberts — Kenneth’s three arrows

So Kenneth Arrow leaves us with three arrows to enrich our understanding of the economic world: 1) markets collectively can never properly deliver every individual’s needs; 2) markets cannot equate supply and demand except under the most unrealistic assumptions and 3) economic growth is not achieved by just meeting the demand of consumers but requires decisions of investors to innovate. Ironically, none of the implications of these economic arrows have been accepted by the owners of capital and their politicians in practical policy. To do so, would be to admit that capitalism does not work for the majority or even much of the time for the capitalists.
Michael Roberts' Blog
Kenneth’s three arrows
Michael Roberts

Diane Coyle — The polarised republic

Review of Cass Sunstein's latest book, #Republic: Divided Democracy in the Age of Social Media: Divided Democracy in the Age of Social Media. Sunstein in the spouse of former UN Ambassador Samantha Power.
DC: It’s clear to me there are some sharp questions about the regulatory framework governing social media and the online world in general, questions regulators have been pretty keen to avoid so far. It’s time for them to do so now.
Call for some form of censorship of social media to reduce social divisiveness by reweaving the social fabric from above?

The Enlightened Economist
The polarised republic
Diane Coyle | freelance economist and a former advisor to the UK Treasury. She is a member of the UK Competition Commission and is acting Chairman of the BBC Trust, the governing body of the British Broadcasting Corporation

Here is the publisher's blurb on #Republic:
As the Internet grows more sophisticated, it is creating new threats to democracy. Social media companies such as Facebook can sort us ever more efficiently into groups of the like-minded, creating echo chambers that amplify our views. It's no accident that on some occasions, people of different political views cannot even understand each other. It's also no surprise that terrorist groups have been able to exploit social media to deadly effect. Welcome to the age of #Republic. In this revealing book, Cass Sunstein, the New York Times bestselling author of Nudge and The World According to Star Wars, shows how today's Internet is driving political fragmentation, polarization, and even extremism--and what can be done about it. Thoroughly rethinking the critical relationship between democracy and the Internet, Sunstein describes how the online world creates "cybercascades," exploits "confirmation bias," and assists "polarization entrepreneurs." And he explains why online fragmentation endangers the shared conversations, experiences, and understandings that are the lifeblood of democracy. In response, Sunstein proposes practical and legal changes to make the Internet friendlier to democratic deliberation. These changes would get us out of our information cocoons by increasing the frequency of unchosen, unplanned encounters and exposing us to people, places, things, and ideas that we would never have picked for our Twitter feed. #Republic need not be an ironic term. As Sunstein shows, it can be a rallying cry for the kind of democracy that citizens of diverse societies most need.

Neil Wilson — Why does the UK Import Labour?

With 1,597,000 unemployed, 2,191,000 inactive but want a job, and 1,118,000 part timers wanting full time why do we need any more?
Modern Money Matters
Why does the UK Import Labour?
Neil Wilson

Rate Hike Means $50 Billion

This person gets it backwards as usual but the $50B increase in annual leading USD fiscal flow number is correct.

Trump reduces "debt!"

Trump out with this tweet this morning:

You can see what he is talking about here in Table III from yesterday's DTS:

We have to assume they are following this report.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Chuck Spinney and Pierre Sprey — Sleepwalking Into a Nuclear Arms Race with Russia

The Nuclear Question is becoming increasingly obfuscated by spin and lobbying as the West sleepwalks into Cold War II — a walk made all the more dangerous when the loose lips of the U.S. tweeter-in-chief announced that another nuclear arms race is a great idea (see link, link, link). Two Cold War II issues are central and almost never addressed: What will be the Russians' understanding of all the propaganda surrounding the Nuclear Question and the looming American defense spendup? And how might they act on this understanding?
The Blaster
Sleepwalking Into a Nuclear Arms Race with Russia
Chuck Spinney and Pierre Sprey

Lars P. Syll — Keynes’ devastating critique of econometrics

Longer post than usual, with some good Keynes quotes.

Lars P. Syll’s Blog
Keynes’ devastating critique of econometrics
Lars P. Syll | Professor, Malmo University

Randy Wray — MINSKY AND MODERN MONEY THEORY: Was Minsky a “forefather”?

Randy replies to criticism that some of Minsky's views appear to be at odds with MMT. Randy's answer is nuanced.

New Economic Perspectives
MINSKY AND MODERN MONEY THEORY: Was Minsky a “forefather”?
L. Randall Wray | Professor of Economics, Bard College

SPIEGEL Exclusive — Documents Indicate Germany Spied on Foreign Journalists

Germany's foreign intelligence agency, the BND, apparently spied on large numbers of foreign journalists overseas over the course of several years, including employees of the BBC, Reuters and the New York Times. Critics see a massive violation of press freedoms.
Spiegel Online
SPIEGEL Exclusive: Documents Indicate Germany Spied on Foreign Journalists
Maik Baumgärtner, Martin Knobbe and Jörg Schindler

Rick Sterling — Syrian War Propaganda at the Oscars

The Netflix movie “The White Helmets” may win an Oscar in the “short documentary” category at the Academy Awards on Sunday. It would not be a surprise despite the fact that the group is a fraud and the movie is a contrived infomercial
Awarding “The White Helmets” an Oscar would fit with the desire of Hollywood to appear supportive of “human rights,” even if that means supporting a propaganda operation to justify another bloody “regime change” war in the Middle East.
Much of what people think they know about the White Helmets is untrue. The group is not primarily Syrian; it was initiated by British military contractor James LeMesurier and has been heavily funded (about $100 million) by the U.S., U.K. and other governments. The White Helmets are not volunteers; they are paid, which is confirmed in a Al Jazeera video that shows some White Helmet “volunteers” talking about going on strike if they don’t get paid soon.
Still, most of the group’s heavy funding goes to marketing, which is run by “The Syria Campaign” based in New York. The manager is an Irish-American, Anna Nolan, who has never been to Syria. As an example of its deception, “The Syria Campaign” website features video showing children dancing and playing soccer implying they are part of the opposition demand for a “free and peaceful” Syria. But the video images are taken from a 2010 BBC documentary about education in Syria under the Baath government.
The White Helmets as anti-Assad volunteer heroes helping those repressed and attacked by Assad has been debunked as a propaganda hoax. The echo chamber still shamelessly promotes it.

Consortium News
Syrian War Propaganda at the Oscars
Rick Sterling

Brian Romanchuk — NAIRU (Again)

SWL: Accepting the concept of the NAIRU does not mean you have to agree with their judgements. But if you want to argue that they could be doing something better, you need to use the language of macroeconomics.
As an applied mathematician, Brian showed how macroeconomists don't know what they are talking about with respect to NAIRU when using the language of macroeconomics because the concept is empty.

And no advanced math required to do it. Just basic logic and philosophy of science.
Philosophy is a battle against the bewitchment of our intelligence by means of our language. — Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, § 109
There are many parallels between economics and philosophy, one of the most evident is unfounded assumptions presumed to be self-evident. Scientific method was developed to circumvent this.
BR: The whole point of the standard NAIRU definition is that it is easy to observe: you just need to back out the acceleration of inflation (keeping in mind there may be other variables whose influence needs to be isolated). However, in the real world, the observed unemployment rate is affected by institutional factors -- which do not exist in a NAIRU model. Since the end result is that NAIRU estimates are inherently unreliable, the concept is wrong by definition.

This is why most mainstream macro has retreated to discussing output gaps of various types. Output gaps have to be inferred via various statistical techniques, and they are inherently fuzzier. It may be that Professor Wren-Lewis has some of these more recent models in mind when he is referring to NAIRU; but that makes as much sense as referring to post-1990 Fed Policy as monetary base targeting.
If you want to use standard academic terms, NAIRU is falsifiable, and was in fact falsified. The generalised output gaps that popped up to replace NAIRU are pretty much unfalsifiable.
To a philosopher standing outside economics looking in, it appears that many economists are so intellectually committed to finding a solutions that they convince themselves and each other that they have found one when they have not.
We have got on to slippery ice where there is no friction and so in a certain sense the conditions are ideal, but also, just because of that, we are unable to walk. We want to walk: so we need friction. Back to the rough ground! — Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, § 107
Bond Economics
NAIRU (Again)
Brian Romanchuk

US factory CEOs to Trump: Jobs exist; skills don't

You could see this coming.

One executive said in discussions with White House officials that his company has 50 participants in a factory apprenticeship program, but could take 500 if enough were qualified.  But he said that in his experience, most students coming out of high school lack the math and English skills to absorb technical manuals.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

BBC News — Steve Bannon's three goals for the Trump presidency

Minute and half video clip.

1. National security and sovereignty.
2. Economic nationalism
3. Deconstruction of the administrative state.

President Trump will fulfill all his campaign promises.

BBC News
Steve Bannon's three goals for the Trump presidency

Here is the entire interview transcript.

Read Steve Bannon and Reince Priebus' Joint Interview at CPAC
Ryan Teague Beckwith

Edward Harrison — Two things you should know about Germany’s budget surplus

So that’s where Europe is headed. First, budgetary discipline will continue to be an anchor principle. Second, getting the budget deficit down or into surplus is a lot easier if you have a trade and current surplus. German Finance Minister Wolfgang Sch√§uble wants Germany to lead the way on both these scores as a matter of ‘leading by example’. Third, the eurozone is indeed following this example. We can see the numbers; the euro currency area now has a surplus with the rest of the world, where just 6 or seven years ago it had a deficit.
I don’t know how long the EU wants this policy framework to continue. It ism’t clear if this is a ‘ride out the storm’ approach or a permanent policy framework. I believe they want the surpluses to continue indefinitely. But if these surpluses do continue indefinitely, Donald Trump will put Europe in his crosshairs. And we’ll have to see whether he’s all bluster or whether he intends to take action.

Credit Writedowns
Two things you should know about Germany’s budget surplus
Edward Harrison

Daniel Little — Divided ...

Or to put the point more simply: we are divided politically because we are divided structurally by inequalities of access, property, opportunity, and outcome; and the mechanisms of electoral politics are mobilized to challenge and defend the systems that maintain these inequalities.
Short summary: social, political and economic asymmetry.

Understanding Society
Daniel Little | Chancellor of the University of Michigan-Dearborn, Professor of Philosophy at UM-Dearborn and Professor of Sociology at UM-Ann Arbor

Edward Harrison — The negotiations over Greece aren’t about Greece

Earlier today, I was listening to an interview with IMF head Christine Lagarde dance around the issue of the unsustainability of Greece’s debt load. And she said something very telling. She said that debt haircuts were not on the table but that maturity extensions and interest rate reductions were, but only AFTER Greece implemented reforms demanded by the Troika.
What’s important to realize when Lagarde says this is that although she’s talking about Greece, the negotiations with Greece are not really about Greece itself per se. They are about the maintaining or imposing an economic paradigm for every country in the EU that Greece was not meeting – and this is a paradigm that the IMF supports as much as the ECB and the EU. Greece is just being used as an abject lessons for other larger EU economies.
Think of it this way: 25 years ago, the EU signed on to the idea of a single currency in Maastricht. The question marks at the time were Belgium and Italy – Italy because of its constant currency devaluations and Belgium because of high government debt loads. The EU figured out how to deal with Belgium and Italy by creating the stability and growth pact which said that all member states had to keep their deficits under 3% and get their debt under 60%, or at least moving in that direction. Underneath these simple rules lies a whole economic ideology though. And that orthodoxy says long-term growth and a stable currency are best maintained by liberalized free markets and fiscal discipline.…
"Liberalized free markets and fiscal discipline" is neoliberalism in a nutshell.

"Liberalized free markets" means minimized government "intrusion" in the form of regulation and oversight, along with privatization of state assets ("asset stripping").

"Fiscal discipline" means government finance based on "sound money" that limits a government's fiscal space in economic policy and thereby constrains its fiscal policy. This is tantamount to operating as if on a gold standard.

Credit Writedowns
The negotiations over Greece aren’t about Greece
Edward Harrison

Glenn Greenwald — The Increasingly Unhinged Russia Rhetoric Comes From a Long-Standing U.S. Playbook

I. F. Stone. If you don't know who he was, you should. Before there were blogs, there was I. F. Stone.

The Intercept
The Increasingly Unhinged Russia Rhetoric Comes From a Long-Standing U.S. Playbook
Glenn Greenwald

See also
Russia’s role in Trump’s election has led to a boom in Putinology. But do all these theories say more about us than Putin?
The Guardian
Killer, kleptocrat, genius, spy: the many myths of Vladimir Putin
Keith Gessen

Philip Pilkington — A New Era of Central Banking?

As I noted in my last post the Bank of England have released an official policy document that concedes that much of Post-Keynesian endoegnous money theory is indeed correct. Interestingly, they have also released some Youtube clips with the authors where they expound on their work in more details. You can watch these videos at the BoE website here.

The videos are fascinating. The language the authors use — which contains references to ‘fiat money creation’ and money as IOUs — is straight out of either David Graeber’s book Debt: The First 5000 Years or MMT. If I were to guess I would say that it is some combination of both.
This is an enormous step forward. But I found it particularly interesting how young the authors in the videos were. One of them must be in his early 30s or so. It seems that the younger folks in the BoE are finally starting to ‘get it’.
Now, the question is where this might take the BoE if it begins to spread. There are two paths that can be taken now that they’ve gotten the basic mechanics of money creation correct.
A New Era of Central Banking?
Philip Pilkington
ht Lambert Strether at Naked Capitalism

John Quiggin — Bastiat anticipates climate science denialism

… on Googling Bastiat + pollution, I came across a remarkable package in which Bastiat anticipates the climate change debate and takes the denialist side in advance.…
What’s striking, though, is [Bastiat's] a priori faith that everything will be OK because of Divine Providence [compare with "spontaneous natural order"], which ensures that human activity tends towards harmony. If that fails, and a laissez-faire economy does in fact produce unsustainable pollution, his whole case collapses.
Of course, it’s possible to salvage a version of laissez-faire in the way suggested by Coase, using newly created property rights. But this requires the admission that property rights are a socially constructed set of rules, enforced by coercion, rather than a category inherent in the natural relationship between people and things. It’s precisely this admission that propertarians have been unwilling/unable to make, and why they still rely on magical thinking like that displayed by Bastiat.
John Quiggin's Blog
Bastiat anticipates climate science denialism
John Quiggin | Professor and an Australian Research Council Laureate Fellow at the University of Queensland, and a member of the Board of the Climate Change Authority of the Australian Government

Jennifer Mueller — Chinese and American Consumers Have Different Ideas About What Makes a Product Creative

Marketing and consumer preferences. One size does not fit all. Just as there are different body sizes, there are also different mindsets.

Harvard Business Review
Chinese and American Consumers Have Different Ideas About What Makes a Product Creative
Jennifer Mueller | Associate Professor at the University of San Diego

The “Natural” Interest Rate and Secular Stagnation: Loanable Funds Macro Models Don't Fit Today’s Institutions or Data

Can America recover ideal rates of growth through interest-rate policies? This important analysis suggests that most economists misunderstand the issue. Updating Keynes, the analysis suggests that fiscal stimulus, labor union bargaining power, and more progressive income taxes are needed to support growth. (The article includes some algebra, which some readers may choose to skip.)
The main points of this paper are that loanable-funds macroeconomic models with their “natural” interest rate do not fit with modern institutions and data. Before getting into the numbers, it makes sense to describe the models and how to think about macroeconomics in the first place....
Unfortunately, the article cited is behind a paywall. This is a useful short summary however.

Naked Keynesianism
Lance Taylor — The “Natural” Interest Rate and Secular Stagnation: Loanable Funds Macro Models Don't Fit Today’s Institutions or Data
Lance Taylor | Arnhold Professor of International Cooperation and Development and director of the Center for Economic Policy Analysis at the New School for Social Research

David F. Ruccio — “In this interregnum morbid phenomena of the most varied kind come to pass”

In his Prison Notebooks, Antonio Gramsci wrote: “The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum morbid phenomena of the most varied kind come to pass.”
The world is once again living an interregnum. It is poised between the failed economic model of recovery from the crash of 2007-08 and the birth of a new model, one that would actually work for the majority of Americans....
Occasional Links & Commentary
“In this interregnum morbid phenomena of the most varied kind come to pass”
David F. Ruccio | Professor of Economics, University of Notre Dame

See also

Fabius Maximus
New research reveals the people guilty of wrecking America!

Bill Black — Why Was Tom Perez Willing to be the New Democrats’ DNC Stalking Horse?

The New Democrats faced a difficult tactical problem, however, in coming up with a workable plan to defeat Ellison. The DNC had proven ineffective and been caught putting its thumb on the scale to try to ensure that Hillary beat Bernie. The New Democrats lacked a strong candidate. They could have supported Ellison, who is widely viewed as likely to be a highly effective DNC leader that will lead the revitalization of the Party. Obama and the Clintons, however, are enraged at the prospect that a Bernie supporter would lead the DNC. Their highest national political priority is defeating Ellison. Do not fall for the “cool Obama” hype. Obama is furious with Bernie and Ellison and has pulled out all the stops to try to prevent progressives’ from challenging his legacy as a New Democrat. The Clintons share his rage....
The losers are trying to maintain control after the world has passed them by.

New Economic Perspectives
Why Was Tom Perez Willing to be the New Democrats’ DNC Stalking Horse?
William K. Black | Associate Professor of Economics and Law, UMKC

See also recently by Bill

Kenneth Arrow’s (Ignored) Impossibility Theorem

Arthur MacEwan — Is It Oil?

U.S. foreign policy, as I elaborated in the 2003 article, has long been designed not simply to protect U.S.-based firms in their international operations, but to establish the right of the firms to access and security wherever around the world. Oil firms have been especially important in promoting and gaining from this right, but firms from finance to pharmaceuticals and many others have been beneficiaries and promoters of the policy.
Whatever else, as the Iraq and Middle East experience has demonstrated, this right comes at a high cost. The best estimate of the financial cost to the United States of the war in Iraq is $3 trillion. Between the 2003 invasion and early 2017, U.S. military forces suffered 4,505 fatalities in the war, and allied forces another 321. And, of course, most of all Iraqi deaths: estimates of the number of Iraqis killed range between 200,000 and 500,000.
Triple Crisis
Is It Oil?
Arthur MacEwan | Professor Emeritus, Department of Economics, University of Massachusetts Boston and Senior Research Fellow, Center for Social Policy

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Fox News host, Brenda Buttner has died. So sad. She was a good friend.

Brenda Buttner has died at the age of 55 after a battle with cancer.

In my 12 years at Fox News there was probably nobody I felt closer to than Brenda Buttner. She was the host of Bulls & Bears, the Saturday show where I appeared so many times.

Brenda was not just a great host--smart, witty and always in control--she was not afraid to comment and editorialize outside the ideological "party line" of Fox News. So many times she let me loose on the many clueless, ideological, gold-bug morons on these shows' panels. It was fun.

She was a wonderful person. Gone way too soon.

Two Year German Govt Bonds at all time (negative) lows

So is the Fed going to raise rates in the face of all of this over there?  I don't see it happening for now, looks like continued ZIRP at least short term. US Two year at least positive 1.22%. US overnight being supported at 0.5% pretty pathetic.

Brian Romanchuk — Paperback Edition Of Abolish Money Now Available

The paperback edition of Abolish Money (From Economics)! is now available at online booksellers. It will take time for it to appear on some websites.…
Bond Economics
Paperback Edition Of Abolish Money Now Available
Brian Romanchuk

2017 IRS Tax Refunds Coming Week of Feb. 27

This is about a 3 to 4 week refund processing delay YoY. Pushing refunds well into March and could effect 1Q business/earnings.

Zero Hedge — "It's Absolutely Out Of Control": Did Trump Just Spoil The Deficit-Spending Party?

Taking away the punchbowl? Sounds like signing on to the Ryan budget?

Zero Hedge
"It's Absolutely Out Of Control": Did Trump Just Spoil The Deficit-Spending Party?
Tyler Durden

Robert Parry — NYT’s Fake News about Fake News

The West’s anti-Russian propaganda links Moscow to the blight of “fake news” but the evidence doesn’t connect the two. So, The New York Times makes the case with its own “fake news,” reports Robert Parry.
The m.o. on this is usually the same.  Reports that are verifiably true but peripheral to the point are introduced first to establish credibility and then reports that are not documented are brought in to persuade uncritical readers (probably most) to accept information that is dubious or bogus to carry home the propaganda point. The key to success is to repeat the narrative.

Consortium News
NYT’s Fake News about Fake News
Robert Parry

Duncan Green — How do we encourage innovation in markets? What can systems thinking add?

Earlier this month I spent a fun 3 days at a seminar discussing Market Systems Innovation. No really. I discovered a community of very smart people working on markets, who seem to be on a similar journey to the people working on governance and institutions, who I have spent most of my time with in recent years. Chatham House Rule, so the speakers must remain shrouded in mystery, but I will say it was at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Centre, just to make you jealous....
From Poverty to Power
How do we encourage innovation in markets? What can systems thinking add?
Duncan Green

Norbert H√§ring — How India became Bill Gates’ guinea pig: A conspiracy as recounted by the main actors

Microsoft’s Bill Gates is one of the richest and most influential people on earth. He announced in 2015 that his Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation was aiming at achieving full digitalization of the payment systems of India and other populous developing countries by 2018. This “financial inclusion” program for India dates back to well before Narendra Modi came to power. It was elevated to official US policy by Executive Order in 2012, because the President saw vital US security interests are at stake....
Real-World Economics Review Blog
How India became Bill Gates’ guinea pig: A conspiracy as recounted by the main actors
Norbert H√§ring, Handelsblatt

See also
Merijn Knibbe

Ruble is up 11% since the rate cuts last June. I said to buy it back then.

The ruble is up 11% since the rate cuts last June. I said to BUY THE RUBLE at the time. By the way, an 11% move in currency markets is big.

Rate cuts are bullish for currency, all else equal. People don't understand that, yet we see it over and over again.

Rate cuts are price reductions--deflationary. It literally means the currency has more purchasing power. It's reflected in forex markets as a higher exchange rate.

Rate hikes are the opposite. They are bearish, not bullish. Rate hikes are price increases and that means the currency buys less, not more. It's reflected in forex markets as lower exchange rate.

Another way to think about it is, a currency is like a government security of zero maturity. Everyone understands that when the central bank raises rates the PRICE of the government security (a Treasury, for example) goes DOWN. Price is inverse to the rate. The discount to "par" reflects the interest rate. 

Conversely, when the central bank cuts rates the PRICE of the government security goes UP.

Same with currency. The dollar is a Treasury of zero maturity.

Moon of Alabama — The War Hawks Rolled Donald Trump

Lt. Gen. H. R. McMasters may be better than Ambassador John Bolton as national security advisor but Moon of Alabama doesn't think by much. 

And now that Flynn has been disposed of, Bannon is next on the list.

Moon of Alabama
The War Hawks Rolled Donald Trump

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Reuters — Trump's new security advisor differs from him on Russia, other key issues

Is Trump adopting Obama's team of rivals approach?
U.S. President Donald Trump has shown little patience for dissent, but that trait is likely to be tested by his new national security adviser, Army Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster.
McMaster is joining the White House staff with views on Russia, counterterrorism, strengthening the military and other major security issues that diverge not only from those of the Trump loyalists, but also from those the president himself has expressed.…
McMaster will not be alone, however. His prominent administration allies include Defense Secretary Jim Mattis; Marine General Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and Senator John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee; as well as many of the soldiers who have served with him....
Trump's new security advisor differs from him on Russia, other key issues
John Walcott

Interfax — Moody’s upgrades Russia rating outlook to stable

Moody’s Investors Service has changed the outlook for Russia’s sovereign ratings to stable from negative.
Russia’s issuer rating and the rating for Russian government bonds have been affirmed at Ba1, and the short-term rating has been affirmed at Not Prime, the rating agency said in a press release....
Johnson's Russia List
Interfax: Moody’s upgrades Russia rating outlook to stable

The New Cold War — Academia.edu: Ivan Katchanovski, Interview with Telepolis magazine (Germany) Concerning New Revelations in the Maidan Massacre Investigation.

Ivan Katchanovski PhD is a researcher and lecturer at the School of Political Studies of the University of Ottawa. The English text of the above interview is published online here on Academia.edu. The original in German is here.
Interviewer: Can you give a very short summary of your theory about the sniper-killings on 20th February in Kiev?
IK: My academic study of the Maidan massacre concludes that this mass killing was a false flag operation, which was rationally planned and carried out with a goal of the overthrow of the government and seizure of power. It found various evidence of the involvement of an alliance of the far right organizations, specifically the Right Sector and Svoboda, and oligarchic parties, such as Fatherland. Concealed shooters and spotters were located in at least 20 Maidan-controlled buildings or areas. The various evidence that the protesters were killed from these locations include some 70 testimonies, primarily by Maidan protesters, several videos of “snipers” targeting protesters from these buildings, comparisons of positions of the specific protesters at the time of their killing and their entry wounds, and bullet impact signs. The study uncovered various videos and photos of armed Maidan “snipers” and spotters in many of these buildings. Unreported revelations from the Maidan massacre trial and the investigations by the Prosecutor General Office of Ukraine, such as forensic ballistic and medical reports, testimonies of eyewitnesses in the investigation documents, newly released videos, and court rulings concerning investigations of the far right involvement in the Maidan massacre, corroborated major findings of my study.
I presented an expanded and updated version of my Maidan massacre paper at the Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association in San Francisco in September 2015. This paper is freely downloadable without any registration from the Social Sciences Research Network and APSA conference websites, and it is also available on my Academia and Researchgate websites. My chapter summarizing the Maidan massacre study is scheduled for publication on February 11, 2016 in a Routledge book edited by two Canadian political scientists. My article, which includes examination of the role of the Maidan massacre in escalation of the conflict in Ukraine into a civil war in Donbas and subsequent Russian military interventions, is forthcoming in a special issue of a British refereed journal concerning the conflict in Ukraine.
The New Cold War
Academia.edu: Ivan Katchanovski, Interview with Telepolis magazine (Germany) Concerning New Revelations in the Maidan Massacre Investigation.
ht Johnson's Russia List

Anonymous — Paris On Brink Of Civil War’ Warns Le Pen – Media Blackout

May explain Le Pen's rise in the polls.

Security and order are the highest priority of government and when government seems to be failing, the tendency is toward greater authoritarianism.

‘Paris On Brink Of Civil War’ Warns Le Pen – Media Blackout

UPDATE: The Anonymous post has been taken down. Here is another link.

Adam Kredo — U.S. Government Computers Still Not Safe From Cyber Attacks

Can't afford it, I guess.

Washington Free Beacon
U.S. Government Computers Still Not Safe From Cyber Attacks
Adam Kredo

Ryan McMaken — Alan Greenspan Admits Ron Paul Was Right About Gold

AG: I view gold as the primary global currency.
OK, we got that cleared up.

Remember that Alan Greenspan said that central banks operate "as if" on a gold standard. He had also said that gold is the premier currency.

Mises Dailies

Chinese economy 2016-2017

China will maintain strong growth in consumption this year with deepening supply-side structural reform, Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng said Tuesday....
China on track in shifting away from an investment-export led economy to a consumption-domestic economy.

China's consumption to maintain strong growth in 2017
Consumption contributed to 64.6 percent of China's economic growth in 2016, up 4.9 percentage point compared with the year before, said Chinese Minister of Commerce on Tuesday.
Gao Hucheng, Minister of Commerce, said consumption has become the most important boost in the Chinese economy since 2014, which indicates that the country's economic structure has been undergoing historic changes.
Meanwhile, new characteristics have shown up in Chinese people's consumption. Demands for high-quality, multi-function and intelligent products have been increasing, said Gao. For instance, the sales volume of vehicles has exceeded 28 million, seeing a 13.7 percent year-on-year growth. Sales of SUVs under various brands have increased by 44.6 percent, added the minister.
The e-commerce development is booming in China. The 2016 online turnover has increased by 25.6 percent, accounting for 12.6 percent of the total turnover of the social consumption. "It is hard to imagine how the distribution industry would be like without the internet plus," said Gao.
More trends have also shown up in the consumption. For example, service consumption has taken a larger portion in the total consumption, and consumers have shifted to purchase personalized and customized commodities. A greener trend is on the rise in people's consumption concept as well....
MOC: Consumption contributes 64.6% to economic growth in 2016

Diane Coyle — Markets, states and humans

I was eager to read Paul De Grauwe’s The Limits of the Market because I profoundly agree with its premise that the false dichotomy between ‘the state’ and ‘the market’ has led to bad public policies and lower social welfare. The book is a short overview of the flaws of this dichotomous view of the world. It organises its discussion around two sets of reasons why a ‘free market’ is a meaningless abstraction: externalities and ‘internalities’…
Short and important. Deals with economic and non-economic factors that influence economic behavior that are not taken into account as information in market behavior.

The Enlightened Economist
Markets, states and humans
Diane Coyle | freelance economist and a former advisor to the UK Treasury. She is a member of the UK Competition Commission and is acting Chairman of the BBC Trust, the governing body of the British Broadcasting Corporation

Andrew Spannaus — Towards a New Trade Policy

International trade deals have lost their consensus support as more workers view them as anathema to good-paying jobs, requiring the U.S. politicians to rethink these strategies, writes Andrew Spannaus...
The goal is not to close borders and restrict trade, but to ensure that trade takes place without undermining the social and living standards of developed countries. Regulations need to be drawn up to certify whether companies, or entire countries, comply with certain standards. Some examples include rules on workplace safety, child labor and pollution, which can be enforced through both tariffs and in some cases outright bans.
Selective targeting of low-quality production will be complex at times, in part due to the existence of global supply chains, which exploit comparative advantages in terms of not only labor costs, but also logistics and infrastructure.
Yet the complexity of these issues is no excuse for ignoring the enforcement of provisions that are essential to protect economic well-being. Politicians and economists constantly make assurances that such standards are integral to the notion of free trade, yet on the list of priorities they seem to be squarely at the bottom.
The current political situation offers an opportunity to chart a new course, not of isolationism, but of setting clear rules for trade between countries aiming for high living standards....

Funny how it is OK to introduce artificial barriers in markets when it benefits capital but not when it benefits labor.

Consortium News
Towards a New Trade Policy
Andrew Spannaus

Dan Goodin — Hacks all the time. Engineers recently found Yahoo systems remained compromised

Yahoo is getting smashed. Verizon drops bid by 350M. 

C. J. Hopkins — Goose-stepping Our Way Toward Pink Revolution

The deep state, of course, is not a conspiracy. It is simply the interdependent network of structures where actual power resides (i.e., the military-industrial complex, multinational corporations, Wall Street, the corporate media, and so on). Its purpose is to maintain the stability of the system regardless of which party controls the government. These are the folks, when a president takes office, who show up and brief him on what is and isn’t “possible” given economic and political “realities.” 
Despite what Alex Jones may tell you, it is not George Soros and roomful of Jews. It is a collection of military and intelligence officers, CEOs, corporate lobbyists, lawyers, bankers, politicians, power brokers, aides, advisers, and assorted other permanent members of the government and the corporate and financial classes. Just as presidents come and go, so do the individuals comprising the deep state, albeit on a longer rotation schedule. 
And, thus, it is not a monolithic entity. Like any other decentralized network, it contains contradictions, conflicts of interest. However, what remains a constant is the deep state’s commitment to preserving the system … which, in our case, that system is global Capitalism.
I’m going to repeat and italicize that to hopefully avoid any misunderstanding. The system the deep state primarily serves is not the United States of America, i.e., the country most Americans believe they live in; the system it serves is globalized Capitalism. The United States, the nation state itself, while obviously a crucial element of the system, is not the deep state’s primary concern. If it were, Americans would all have healthcare, affordable education, and a right to basic housing, like more or less every other developed nation.[paragraphing introduced for readability]
Pretty much as I have been saying.

The author shows how the Left has been duped into supporting totalitarian corporate globalism in an effort to provoke a color revolution in the United States.

Goose-stepping Our Way Toward Pink Revolution
C. J. Hopkins, American ex-pat author living in Berlin

TASS — Settlements in national currency to be discussed with Iran in Moscow next week

Skirting the dollar and SWIFT in international settlement.

Settlements in national currency to be discussed with Iran in Moscow next week

Bill McBride — Mortgage Debt as Percent of GDP

Mortgage debt has declined by $1.21 trillion from the peak. Studies suggest most of the decline in debt has been because of foreclosures (or short sales), but some of the decline is from homeowners paying down debt (sometimes so they can refinance at better rates).
Calculated Risk
Mortgage Debt as Percent of GDP
Bill McBride

William D. Hartung — The Promise and Peril of H.R. McMaster

The good (assessment of Vietnam) and the bad (assessment of Iraq), and let's hope not the ugly (war with Iran).

Lobe Log
The Promise and Peril of H.R. McMaster
William D. Hartung | the director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy and a senior adviser to the Security Assistance Monitor

David F. Ruccio — Class, race, and poverty in the United States

Before the new Republican administration has a chance to implement its campaign promises and dismantle the social safety net, it’s useful to remember who in fact is assisted by the existing programs.
According to a new study by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, people of all races and ethnic groups who lack a bachelor’s degree receive significant help from the safety net. But white working-class adults stand out....
Occasional Links & Commentary
Class, race, and poverty in the United States
David F. Ruccio | Professor of Economics, University of Notre Dame

Monday, February 20, 2017

Bill Mitchell — The ECB should not become a fiscal agent

On November 29, 2016, Mario Draghi, the President of the ECB wrote to Mr Jon√°s Fern√°ndez, a Spanish European Parliament member in reply to a request for clarification from the Chairman of the EP’s Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON). The Letter discussed whether it would be legal under the Lisbon Treaty for the ECB to engage in direct monetary transfers to citizens bypassing the Member States and whether such a policy would be beneficial for economic growth. Several commentators have seized on the response from the ECB as saying that such a policy innovation would be both legal and beneficial. My view is that, in forming this conclusion, they have not fully understood the difference between a monetary and a fiscal operation. While I think the policy would produce positive results, in the sense that it would stimulate growth and employment and reduce unemployment, I also believe it would be illegal under the Treaty. Further, I don’t think it is a progressive position to argue that a group of unelected and unaccountable technocrats in the central bank should be in charge of economic policy. That should be the responsibility of the democratically-elected members of the government who are fully accountable every electoral cycle. The ECB should not become a fiscal agent. Rather, if the Eurozone elites cannot implement (which they cannot) a full federal treasury function then it should disband the monetary union in an orderly way.
Bill Mitchell – billy blog
The ECB should not become a fiscal agent
Bill Mitchell | Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), at University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia

Daniel Larison — McMaster Named as National Security Advisor

Bolton didn't get the national security advisor job but he is slated for some slot. Even conservatives are dismayed at that.

McMaster is a good choice given the circumstances. But he has been saying that the US is behind Russia in technology, so look for increase defense spending on high cost items and development funding.

The American Conservative
McMaster Named as National Security Advisor
Daniel Larison, senior editor

Jo Michell — Thoughts on the NAIRU

If you are following this.

Critical Macro Finance
Thoughts on the NAIRU
Jo Michell

Lambert Strether — The Term “Deep State” in Focus: Usage Examples, Definition, and Phrasebook

Lambert assembles different views about the US "deep state."

In my view, the deep state is chiefly a bureaucratic structure that maintains the continuity of US policy across administrations and takes on a life of its own separate from the administration that it purportedly serves. 

Some would limit the deep state to the intelligence services comparable to the siloviki in Russia. This would include the 17 intelligence department in the US, e.g.,  NSA, CIA,DIA. 

Others would extend it to the top level non-intelligence government bureaucracy, called nomenklatura in Russia. For example, the top level bureaucracy of the US State Department called "the 7th floor" and "the shadow government," that incoming Secretary of State Rex Tillerson just fired. They would constitute "moles" in the Trump administration.

Others would extend it to the operational arm of the dominant faction of the ruling elite that maintains their position.. Even when out of favor in a particular administration, this operational arm works to maintain policy constants as a "fifth column," and it is planted "deeply" to ensure this. Presidents find it difficult to replace people in droves and some are protected by having government service jobs that were isolated from "the spoils system."

The outer level of the deep state is the support apparatus like think tanks, policy journals and operatives in the media that form the domestic propaganda arm of the deep state. For example, the innermost layers of the Council on Foreign Relation is part of the deep state, whereas the outer layers are comprised of experts that give the organization public credibility.

This is only a "conspiracy" in that like-minded people that can be relied upon are selected and they bring others along so that the system self-perpetuates. The revolving door is also operative, linking government and the private sector

The problem here is that a Weberian bureaucratic state is required to direct modern governments, but the state is subject to capture ideologically and politically through the bureaucracy.

Naked Capitalism
The Term “Deep State” in Focus: Usage Examples, Definition, and Phrasebook
Lambert Strether

Zero Hedge — German Minister Calls For 'Plan B': "Greece Should Pledge Gold, Real Estate For New Loans"

Greece is a lesson in wringing blood from stones.

Zero Hedge
German Minister Calls For 'Plan B': "Greece Should Pledge Gold, Real Estate For New Loans"
Tyler Durden

Bill Mitchell — Mainstream macroeconomics – exudes denial while purporting to be progressive

Bill deconstructs the conventional explanation for the Global Financial Crisis (GFC).

Toward the end, Bill discusses ISLM.

Bill Mitchell – billy blog
Mainstream macroeconomics – exudes denial while purporting to be progressive
Bill Mitchell | Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), at University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Paul Robinson — Book Review: Should we fear Russia?

Dmitri Trenin, the director of the Carnegie Moscow Centre, is one of the more even-handed commentators on Russian foreign policy. On the one hand, he isn’t much of a fan of the ‘Putin regime’, and knows how to speak the sort of critical language required to confirm one’s reputation as a respectable thinker in the West. On the other hand, he avoids most of the hyperbole generally associated with commentary on things Russian, and isn’t one of those ‘non-systemic opposition’ types who gives the impression that Russia’s interests are best served by abject surrender to the United States. In light of the West’s current rampant Russophobia, his short (120-page) book Should We Fear Russia? is very timely….
Book Review: Should we fear Russia?
Paul Robinson | Professor, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa

Michael Roberts — Inequality after 150 years of Capital

The IMF and other agencies like the World Bank like to argue that economic growth has picked up so much under capitalism that millions have been taken out of poverty. But economic experts in the field of poverty and global inequality reveal from their figures that official ‘poverty’ has declined for just two reasons. The first is that the definition of poverty of those living on less than$1 a day is out of date; and second because nearly all the decline has been in China due to its unprecedented economic growth under a state-controlled and directed economy, still far from market capitalism seen in 19th and 20thcentury capitalism that Piketty and others have analysed. In most low income countries inequality has hardly changed from very high levels.
Michael Roberts Blog
Inequality after 150 years of Capital
Michael Roberts

Brian Romanchuk — NAIRU And The Santa Claus Test

Although economic squabbling is fun to follow, a lot of it is the result of the use of fuzzy language. As a result, there is no way of advancing the conversation; arguments are just people clinging to different definitions. The use of mathematics in economics is supposed to eliminate this squabbling; unfortunately, the mathematical models themselves rarely fit reality. However, we need to translate the debates into operational discussions, to see whether they can be applied to the real world. If we turn to my previous article about NAIRU, we need to ask ourselves -- does the definition of NAIRU we are using pass the Santa Claus test?
Bond Economics
NAIRU And The Santa Claus Test
Brian Romanchuk

Oscar Valdes-Viera — The Borrowed Science of Neoclassical Economics

"Science" with an agenda = pseudoscience.

The Minskys
The Borrowed Science of Neoclassical Economics
Oscar Valdes-Viera

Zero Hedge — Jay Sekulow: Obama Should Be "Held Accountable" For The "Soft Coup" Against Trump

According to civil right expert and prominent First Amendement Supreme Court lawyer, Jay Sekulow, what the agencies did by leaking the Trump Administration information was not only illegal but "almost becomes a soft coup", one which was spurred by the last minute rule-change by Obama, who intentionally made it far easier for leaks to propagate, and next to impossible to catch those responsible for the leaks.
Zero Hedge
Jay Sekulow: Obama Should Be "Held Accountable" For The "Soft Coup" Against Trump
Tyler Durden

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Robert Wallace — Hegel’s God

Sunday sermon, or weekend reading as the case may be.

Robert Wallace sums up Hegel's approach to God clearly in a few short paragraphs, which is no mean feat since Hegel writing is notorious difficult to penetrate and his style doesn't make it easy.

Philosophy Now
Hegel’s God
Robert Wallace

See also

Podcast and transcript.

The Philosopher's Zone
Hegel and Hegel's God
Alan Saunders interviews Robert M. Wallace

Eric DuVall — Trump to interview Bolton, three others for NSA post

The four men are former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton, Army strategist Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, acting national security adviser Keith Kellogg and West Point superintendent Lt. Col. Robert Caslen, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters on Saturday.

Trump was said to have settled on an individual to replace Flynn earlier this week, but the candidate, Ret. Navy Vice Adm. Robert Harward, reportedly turned down the offer. ...
Trump to interview Bolton, three others for NSA post
Eric DuVall

Jeremy Grantham — ‘Twas Capitalism That Killed Capitalism

The critical statement polled, in my opinion, was this: “America needs a strong leader to take the country back from the rich and powerful.”... 
For an astonishing 75% of those first 9,000 polled agreed that, yes, we did indeed need to be saved from the rich and powerful. From now on, in my opinion, we live in a different world from the one we grew up in.…
By this time some readers may be asking for a profile of the 74% of the final 45,000 who voted against the rich and powerful. Who are these people? Well, they are us. All of us. I have never heard of a vote so uniform: whether Republican 72% or Democrat 77%; Male 74% or Female 75%; White 75% or Black 74%; Rich 70% or Poor 79%; Christian 74% or Muslim 72%; Graduates 68% or not 76%; they all agreed. They have all had it with the rich and powerful. And as for me, I don’t blame them. I think capitalism has lost its way. And has badly diluted the value of democracy along the way. We can only hope it is very temporary....
Naked Capitalism
Grantham: ‘Twas Capitalism That Killed Capitalism

Read with:

Steve Bannon got that.
"Like [Andrew] Jackson's populism, we're going to build an entirely new political movement," [Bannon] says. "It's everything related to jobs. The conservatives are going to go crazy. I'm the guy pushing a trillion-dollar infrastructure plan. With negative interest rates throughout the world, it's the greatest opportunity to rebuild everything. Shipyards, ironworks, get them all jacked up. We're just going to throw it up against the wall and see if it sticks. It will be as exciting as the 1930s, greater than the Reagan revolution — conservatives, plus populists, in an economic nationalist movement." 
Bannon represents, he not unreasonably believes, the fall of the establishment. The self-satisfied, in-bred and homogenous views of the establishment are both what he is against and what has provided the opening for the Trump revolution. "The media bubble is the ultimate symbol of what's wrong with this country," he continues. "It's just a circle of people talking to themselves who have no f—ing idea what's going on...
"I am," he says, with relish, "Thomas Cromwell in the court of the Tudors."
Bannon has the vision and Trump is the vehicle to actualize it.

The question now is, how is that possible with Trump's billionaire cabinet, the Trump team's close ties with Heritage and Cato, and big donors like the Mercers.Trading one faction of the rich and powerful for another faction? Sure looks like it.

Steve Bannon has his work cut out for time if he is going to the contemporary Thomas Cromwell in the Trump court.

Should Bannon's realignment fail to displace the rich and powerful to the satisfaction of the electorate, there is no telling where US politics is headed. The chances of it going back to where it was before Trump and Bannon is unlikely though.

Adam Kredo — Senior White House Officials Support Bolton To Replace Flynn

I don't usually post speculation but I couldn't resist this.
Senior White House officials and members of the National Security Council are pushing former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton as a replacement for ousted national security adviser Michael Flynn, according to multiple sources in and out of the White House who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon.
Among Bolton's most vocal supporters are senior administration officials loyal to Flynn and who are upset at the general's firing. Multiple sources described an effort by these Flynn loyalists to ensure that Bolton is selected as his replacement.
The selection of Bolton as the next national security adviser would empower Flynn's allies still in the White House and send a message that his national security vision is represented within the Trump administration. Bolton is also favored by White House staffers who are opposed to the selection of any candidate who criticized President Trump during the 2016 campaign....
A worse choice from the point of view of sanity doesn't come to mind. Hopefully DJT has all his marbles working for him on this. "Loose cannon" and "bull in a china shop"are not up to characterizing Bolton.

Washington Free Beacon
Senior White House Officials Support Bolton To Replace Flynn — Former U.N. ambassador championed by Flynn loyalists
Adam Kredo

The value of sweatshops to the people who work in them is often overlooked

LOL!! F-ing libertarians...

Ramanan — The All American iPhone: Bad, Or Good?

I would guess that an All-American iPhone would be even more of a luxury-aficianado product than it already is. Would that help or hurt Apple, and how would it affect the US economy. 

The iPhone is already a Veblen good in the Chinese market where it is losing market shares as Chinese companies produce increasing competitive lower-priced rivals. Apple's strategy is not to compete for the bottom end or even middle but to focus on the top. It's called "positioning" in marketing. American-made, like German-made, is also positioning.

The Case for Concerted Action
The All American iPhone: Bad, Or Good?
V. Ramanan

Moon of Alabama — Elections In France - CIA Spies On Political Parties, NYT Claims "Russian" Interference

Enquiring mind wonder whether the CIA is running the American media through the New York Times and the Washington Post?

Moon of Alabama contrasts Wikileaks publication of CIA documents showing CIA infiltration of French politics with New York Times assertions that Russia in interfering in French elections.


Rostislav Ishchenko — The Real Meaning behind Putin's "Ukrainian Terrorism" Speech

Putin sends a message to the West and Ukraine's push for a military solution increases, rejecting Minsk 2.

Fort Russ
The Real Meaning behind Putin's "Ukrainian Terrorism" Speech
Rostislav Ishchenko, RIA Analytics - translated by J. Arnoldski

See also

Putin signs order recognizing DPR/LPR documents, visa-free travel to Russia

Russia decided to validate Donbass residents' documents for humanitarian reasons and the presidential decree will remain in force until the Minsk peace deal is implemented, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Saturday.
Sputnik International
Lavrov Explains What's Behind Putin's Decision on Donbass Residents' Passports

Poroshenko Claims Putin's Decree on Donbass Passports 'Violates' Int'l Law

Brian Romanchuk — NAIRU Should Be Bashed, Smashed, And Trashed

Professor Simon Wren-Lewis recently wrote an article "NAIRU Bashing," in which he attempts to salvage some value out of the concept. As observed by Ramanan, his defense of NAIRU can be summarised as: There Is No Alternative (TINA), A lot of what Professor Wren-Lewis wrote might appear similar to what I have written on the topic. (I will publish the relevant excerpt from Interest Rate Cycles: An Introduction shortly, in case readers would wish to contrast and compare.) However, the belief that there is no alternative to NAIRU is silly. If economics were scholarly (as I discuss here), knowledge would be additive, and we would not have such debates....
Bond Economics
NAIRU Should Be Bashed, Smashed, And Trashed
Brian Romanchuk

Friday, February 17, 2017

Rudy Panko — The Great Draining Begins: Trump Purges State Department's 7th Floor 'Shadow Government'

Tillerson just fired most of the State Department's 7th floor, which is known in Washington as the "Shadow Government"

Russia Insider
The Great Draining Begins: Trump Purges State Department's 7th Floor 'Shadow Government'
Rudy Panko

Sandwichman — All News is "Fake News" (always has been)

From "The Flaneur, the Sandwichman and the Whore: the politics of loitering," Susan Buck-Morss:
The flaneur is the prototype of a new form of salaried employee who produces news / literature / advertisements for the purpose of information / entertainment / persuasion (the forms of both product and purpose are not clearly distinguished). These products fill the "empty" hours which time-off from work has become in the modern city. Writers, now dependent on the market, scan the street scene for material, keeping themselves in the public eye and wearing their own identity like a sandwich board.… 
A salaried flaneur profits by following the ideological fashion. Benjamin connects him ultimately to the police informer and in a late note makes the association: "Flaneur - sandwichman - journalist-in-uniform.The latter advertises the state, no longer the commodity." In an economically precarious and ideologically extremist climate like the 1930s the penalty for a writer's refusal to toe the political line could be great.
All News is "Fake News" (always has been)

Bad Lenders Make Bad Loans — Sharmini Peries interviews Michael Hudson

There is no way in which the lenders did expect Greece to grow. In fact, the IMF was the main lender. It said that Greece cannot grow, under the circumstances that it has now.
What do you do in a case where you make a loan to a country, and the entire staff says that there is no way this country can repay the loan? That is what the IMF staff said in 2015. It made the loan anyway – not to Greece, but to pay French banks, German banks and a few other bondholders – not a penny actually went to Greece. The junk economics they used claimed to have a program to make sure the IMF would help manage the Greek economy to enable it to repay. Unfortunately, their secret ingredient was austerity....
So, the question is, why does this junk economics continue, decade after decade? The reason is that the loans are made to Greece precisely because Greece couldn’t pay. When a country can’t pay, the rules at the IMF and EU and the German bankers behind it say, don’t worry, we will simply insist that you sell off your public domain. Sell off your land, your transportation, your ports, your electric utilities. This is by now a program that has gone on and on, decade after decade....
So they’re making an example of Greece. They’re going to show that finance rules, and in fact that is why both Trump and Ted Malloch have come up in support of the separatist movement in France. They’re supporting Marine Le Pen, just as Putin is supporting Marine Le Pen. There’s a perception throughout the world that finance really is a mode of warfare.
If they can convince countries somehow to adopt junk economics and pursue policies that will destroy themselves, then they’ll be easy pickings for foreign investors, and for the globalists to take over other economies. So, it’s a form of war....
One of Michael Hudson's better ones.

Michael Hudson
Bad Lenders Make Bad Loans
Sharmini Peries interviews Michael Hudson, President of The Institute for the Study of Long-Term Economic Trends (ISLET), a Wall Street Financial Analyst, Distinguished Research Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, and Guest Professor at Peking University

Ecns — Trump wins trademark case in China

Of interest for the political and legal implications in the US. We may be hearing more about this. From this report, it doesn't seem be an issue.
The registration signals the first trademark Trump has been granted in China during his presidency, following decade-long efforts to "wrest back" his name from a Chinese citizen named Dong Wei, the Associated Press reported on Tuesday.
Dong filed the trademark application in December 2006 for use in the decoration and repair of residential properties and hotels, which was two weeks earlier than that of Trump.
As a result, Chinese authorities turned down Trump's application due to the "first come, first serve" mechanism.... 
Zhou Dandan, a lawyer from the Beijing-based Unitalen Attorneys at Law who handled the case, said that the decision was based on Chinese trademark law. "Under the regulation, other individuals except the person himself are forbidden from registering the names of prominent political, economic, and religious figures," Zhou told the Global Times on Thursday.
Trump was little-known in China 10 years ago, and the trademark registered by Dong was not linked to the U.S. president at that time, she noted. But when Trump became president, "abundant evidence became available invalidating Dong's trademark," Zhou said.
Trump's right to use his name in construction services after many years of failure has sparked concerns in the U.S. over whether the ruling has broader political implications. 
Richard Painter, chief White House ethics lawyer under President George W. Bush, was quoted by the Associated Press as saying that "any special treatment from China would mean that Trump effectively accepted a present from Beijing, an act that would violate the constitution."
Trump wins trademark case in China

Some agree with Painter.

Money Game
Trump has a shocking conflict of interest with China
Pedro Nicolaci da Costa