Friday, March 31, 2017

Warren Mosler — Credit check

Private credit collapsing. FRED charts.

The Center of the Universe
Credit checkWarren Mosler

Moar on Russiagate

Still all innuendo and inference; no evidence. Zero, zip, nada, 

The Russia Hacking Fiasco: No Evidence Required
Mike Whitney

Blaming Russia for Everything
Robert Parry

The Duran
Here’s why the whole Russiagate scenario set out in Trump Dossier is totally absurd
Alexander Mercouris

Except for this on the other side. You can bet that this person is lawyering up.

Zero Hedge
Intel Official Behind "Unmasking" Of Trump Associates Is "Very Senior, Very Well Known"

Lee Fang — GOP Lawmakers Now Admit Years of Obamacare Repeal Votes Were a Sham

It is hard to overestimate the role of the Affordable Care Act in the Republican resurgence.
Over the last seven years, the GOP has won successive elections by highlighting problems with Obamacare, airing more than $235 million in negative ads slamming the law, and staging more than fifty high-profile repeal votes. In 2016 every major Republican presidential candidate, including Donald Trump, campaigned on a pledge to quickly get rid of it.
Now in total control of Congress and the White House, some GOP legislators are saying that the political assault on Obamacare was an exercise in cynical politics, and that an outright repeal was never on the table.
“We have Republicans who do not want to repeal Obamacare,” said Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., on Sirius XM Patriot on Wednesday.
“They may have campaigned that way, they may have voted that way a couple of years ago when it didn’t make any difference,” Brooks continued. “But now that it makes a difference, there seems to not be the majority support that we need to pass legislation that we passed fifty or sixty times over five or six years.”…
Cue enraged base.

The Intercept
GOP Lawmakers Now Admit Years of Obamacare Repeal Votes Were a Sham
Lee Fang

IMF Releases Data on the Currency Composition of Foreign Exchange Reserves Including Holdings in Renminbi

China's total foreign reserve holdings are in excess of ten trillion US.

IMF Press Release — 31 March 2017
IMF Releases Data on the Currency Composition of Foreign Exchange Reserves Including Holdings in Renminbi

SouthFront — US Calls Itself ‘World’s Moral Conscience’

Yikes! The American elite as a combination of global pope, police, and judge.

US Calls Itself ‘World’s Moral Conscience’

Marko Marjanović — Tillerson Goes Public With US Plans For Syria Partition - Marko Marjanović

News from the snake pit. US gives up on "Assad must go," backs Kurds, and enrages Turkey.

Russia Insider
Tillerson Goes Public With US Plans For Syria Partition - Marko Marjanović
Marko Marjanović


The Duran
John McCain blasts Trump White House for allowing Assad to stay in power
Alex Christoforou

Russia Insider — Wikileaks: CIA Hacks 'in Russian' to Cover Its Tracks

Wikileaks releases another tranche of Vault 7. The plot thickens.
The CIA doesn't just steal Russian malware. It also covers its tracks by using Russian language.
Russia Insider
Wikileaks: CIA Hacks 'in Russian' to Cover Its Tracks

Brookings — Is Europe an Optimal Political Area?

Employing a wide range of individual-level surveys, we study the extent of cultural and institutional heterogeneity within the EU and how this changed between 1980 and 2008. We present several novel empirical regularities that paint a complex picture. While Europe has experienced both systematic economic convergence and an in- creased coordination across national and subnational business cycles since 1980, this was not accompanied by cultural convergence among European citizens. Such persistent heterogeneity does not necessarily spell doom for further political integration, however. Compared to observed heterogeneity within member states themselves, or in well functioning federations such as the US, cultural diversity across EU members is a similar order of magnitude. The main stumbling block on the road to further political integration is not heterogeneity of tastes or of cultural traits, but other cleavages, such as parochial national identities.
A globalist perspective on European political integration. The problem is "parochial national identities." Which is exactly what globalists assume at the outset. This what one would expect of Brookings.

If the perceived benefits of integration are high, and cultural heterogeneity is relatively small and plays only a minor role, what prevents further steps towards a political union? We think that the answer is the heritage of nationalism. Europeans retain strong national identities, amplified by different languages, and the memories of past violent conáict are still too strong and recent to overcome mutual distrust (see Guiso, Sapienza and Zingales, 2009). Nationalist sentiments are on the rise, and this was true even before the financial crisis, which probably reinforced this extant tendency. This is documented in Table 7.1. Although there is much variation among countries, between 1980 and 2009 most Europeans have become more proud of their national identities: on average the percentage of respondents who are proud of their nationality has increased from 37% in the early 1980s to almost 50% in 2008-09.
Can something be done to dampen nationalism and increase European identification?41 In the long run, mutual distrust among Europeans can be reduced by expanding European educational initiatives. In the history of nation building, public education always played a major role (see Aghion, Persson and Rouzet 2012; Alesina, Giuliano and Reich, 2017). The Erasmus program of student exchange works well, but the evidence suggests that it has not had a large impact in shaping European identities, probably because self-selected participants are already very pro-Europe (Sigalas, 2010; Wilson, 2011; Mitchell, 2011). This program could be expanded to reach more young people in high school or in technical institutions, and not just primarily university students. Moreover, school programs could be designed to include a more extensive curriculum covering European institutions and citizenship.

The feasibility of European political integration also depends on how it is achieved. One issue concerns the policy areas over which it takes place. As mentioned above, Europeans seem ready to accept a transfer of sovereignty to the center in the provision of some global public goods like security, border control, environment protection. A political union should also be resilient to economic shocks like the recent financial crisis, however, and this presupposes agreement on a (possibly minimalist) set of principles of risk sharing and solidarity. It is uncertain when and whether Europeans will be ready to agree on such principles. Redistribution is a sensitive issue, and replicating the welfare state at the European rather than at the national level seems beyond reach for now. While Europeans are very sensitive to inequality within their own countries (relative to Americans, for instance42), redistribution across national borders is perceived as much less politically viable. Nonetheless, it is hard to imagine a federal Europe without some cross-border redistribution and risk-sharing scheme.
So the conclusion seems to be that Europe is an optimal political area if "parochialism" can be eliminated. Good luck with that.

Brookings Institution
Is Europe an Optimal Political Area?
Alberto Alesina, Guido Tabellini, and Francesco Trebbi
ht Lambert Strether at Naked Capitalism

See also

Why the European Dream of Integration Won’t Die
John Wight

Ed Dolan — Universal Healthcare Access is Coming. Stop Fighting It and Start Figuring Out How to Make It Work.

Fairly detailed analysis of the issues involved in a transition to universal access to health care in the US.

Ed Dolan's Econ Blog
Universal Healthcare Access is Coming. Stop Fighting It and Start Figuring Out How to Make It Work.
Ed Dolan

David F. Ruccio — What, them worry?

How automation and robotics eat jobs and increase inequality of income and wealth. Even if some workers are better off, they are still disadvantaged in terms of distribution of the surplus. Owners of technology, top management, and highly skilled workers take an increasing share of the pie. But because the pie is also increasing, at least some ordinary workers benefit although not as much.

Occasional Links & Commentary
What, them worry?
David F. Ruccio | Professor of Economics, University of Notre Dame

Thomas D. Williams — Report: Supposedly Impartial ‘Fact-Checkers’ Driven by Political Prejudices

A new study on the recent fact-checking trend to separate “fake news” from real reporting found that in the majority of cases, the fact-checkers are just as subject to bias as the news they evaluate.
The report underscored the importance of subjective judgments in the process of fact-checking, amply borne out by numerous examples where fact-checking organizations betray significant political and cultural biases in their assessments.
The results of the study, executed by Daniele Scalea of the Machiavelli Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Rome, were presented Wednesday at the Italian Parliament Wednesday during an academic conference on the topic of fake news and journalism.
Many of the errors proceed from broadening the scope of fact-checking to include statements that express opinion, analysis or prediction.
Since fact-checkers do not limit themselves to appraising objectively verifiable assertions, the study revealed, they pronounce judgments not only about facts, but also about what attacks are fair, what arguments are reasonable, what forecasts are probable, and what language is appropriate.
In the majority of cases, the report continues, fact-checkers weigh the validity of arguments, rather than checking facts. This exercise involves significant space for human error and entails a good dose of subjective opinion, despite the pretension of impartial analysis....
As Joseph Uscinski noted in a 2013 essay, fact-checking “is actually just a veiled continuation of politics by means of journalism.”...
Breitbart News
Report: Supposedly Impartial ‘Fact-Checkers’ Driven by Political Prejudices
Thomas D. Williams, Ph.D.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Nicolas J S Davies — Duping Americans on Healthcare and War

The American people have been sold a deadly bill of goods both for their lousy healthcare system and for their perpetual war machine – and there’s no end in sight, as Nicolas J S Davies explains.
Nicolas J S Davies

Sputnik — Latvian Defense Minister Expects NATO Troops to Revive Country's Economy

Ha ha. Giving military Keynesianism new meaning. Capitalism on steroids.

Sputnik International
Latvian Defense Minister Expects NATO Troops to Revive Country's Economy

Daniel Little — Social science or social studies?

This list of legitimate objects of empirical study in the social world, resulting in legitimate and evidence-based knowledge and explanation, can certainly be extended. And if being scientific means no more than conducting analysis of empirical phenomena based on observation, evidence, and causal inquiry, then we can reasonably say that it is possible to take a scientific attitude towards empirical problems like these.
But the hard question is whether there is more to social science than a fairly miscellaneous set of results that have emerged through study of questions like these. In particular, the natural sciences have aspired to formulating fundamental general theories that serve to systematize wide ranges of natural phenomena -- the theory of universal gravitation or the theory of evolution through natural selection, for example. The goal is to reduce the heterogeneity and diversity of natural phenomena to a few general theoretical hypotheses about the underlying reality of the natural world.
Are general theories like these possible in the social realm?….
Here is one possible answer to the question posed above, consistent with the points made here. Yes, social science is possible. But what social science consists in is an irreducible and pluralistic family of research methods, observations, explanatory hypotheses, and mid-level theories that permit only limited prediction and that cannot in principle serve to unify the social realm under a single set of theoretical hypotheses. There are no grand unifying theories in the social realm, only an open-ended set of theories of the middle range that can be used to probe and explain the social facts we can uncover through social and historical research.
In fact, to the extent that the ideas of contingency, heterogeneity, plasticity, and conjuncturality play the important role in the social world that I believe they do, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that there are very narrow limits to the degree to which we can aspire to systematic or theoretical explanation in the social realm. And this in turn suggests that we might better describe social inquiry as a set of discrete and diverse social studies rather than unified "social science". We might think of the domain of social knowledge better in analogy to the contents of a large and diverse tool box than in analogy to an orrery that predicts the "motions" of social structures over time.
Understanding Society
Social science or social studies?
Daniel Little | Chancellor of the University of Michigan-Dearborn, Professor of Philosophy at UM-Dearborn and Professor of Sociology at UM-Ann Arbor

Rudy Panko — Putin Explains Subtle Difference Between US and Russia: 'We Don't Do Stupid Things'

During a panel discussion with CNBC's Geoff Cutmore, Icelandic President Gudni Johannesson and Finnish President Sauli Niinistö, Putin explained a subtle difference between U.S. and Russia policymaking: "We never do stupid things that would harm us. We never shoot ourselves in the foot."
I guess Putin picked up on Obama's, "Don't do stupid stuff."

Russia Insider
Putin Explains Subtle Difference Between US and Russia: 'We Don't Do Stupid Things'
Rudy Panko

See also

Patrick Armstrong is one of the best reporters on Russia. Lots of links.

Russia Observer
Patrick Armstrong

Reuters — U.N. experts see 'alarming' U.S. trend against free speech, protest

Yes, that's Reuters.

U.N. experts see 'alarming' U.S. trend against free speech, protest
Tom Miles, Geneva

Jeff Desjardins — How You Can Build Wealth on Minimum Wage

Simple living. 

Not for everybody. But it works for some.

Visual Capitalist
How You Can Build Wealth on Minimum Wage
Jeff Desjardins

Beowulf — Trump builds a wall from the wrong side

No, it is not about The Wall. Beowulf is back with a very good post on healthcare. Hopefully, the Trump team will pick up on it.

Monetary Realism
Trump builds a wall from the wrong side

Pavlina Tcherneva — Inequality Update: Who Gains When Income Grows?

Lotsa charts and graphs. The above presents the general picture. The top of the town is doing great; "the little people," not so much.

Probably the chief reason that Donald Trump won the election. 

The establishment Democrats, living in their latté liberal bubble, thought that "everyone" was doing great under President Obama. NOT.

New Economic Perspectives
Inequality Update: Who Gains When Income Grows?
Pavlina Tcherneva | Assistant Professor of Economics at Bard College, Research Scholar at The Levy Economics Institute, and Senior Research Associate at the Center for Full Employment and Price Stability

John Helmer — Gorilla Radio, Canada – Russian Anger At Corruption Is A Political Asset For President Vladimir Putin, Not For Critics Like Alexei Navalny

Correcting wishful thinking in the Western press about the recent anti-corruption protests in Russia,  a recent Levada Center poll reveals that they were actually pro-Putin.
President Vladimir Putin is viewed as the Russians’ preference for reducing corruption; fewer Russians now than four years ago believe Putin is personally corrupt, or benefits from the corruption of his cronies and subordinates.
Sometime ago Putin appointed and "honest cop" in charge of a new anti-corruption drive, making his agency independent and giving him free rein to conduct investigations. Since then a number of high-profile political leaders and other powerful people have been arrested for corruption.

President Xi took similar measures in China and many "tigers" have been arrested in addition to "flies."

Meanwhile, the US continues to apply its double standard of law enforcement. The swamp still needs draining.

Branko Marcetic — Democrats Against Single Payer

By May 2016, Gallup polling found that more than half of Americans favored replacing Obamacare with a single-payer system, including a whole 41 percent of Republicans.
Handwriting on the wall. Oppose single payer at your peril, New Democrats. You are out of touch and out of step.

There is also the failure to recognize the difference between the currency issuer and currency users. In the US the federal government is the issuer and states are among the users.
Most recently, as California considered instituting a state-wide single-payer system on the eve of a possible GOP repeal of Obamacare, the state’s Democratic governor Jerry Brown rubbished the idea, asking:  He compared it to solving a problem “by something that’s . . . a bigger problem,” which “makes no sense.”
“Where do you get the extra money? . . . How do you do that?” You have the federal government do it. as the currency issuer rather than putting it on the states, who are currency users and have to obtain the currency either from the federal government through transfers, or else get it from revenue or borrowing.

Democrats Against Single Payer
Branko Marcetic

Austin Clemens — The once and future measurement of economic inequality in the United States

A slew of research into economic inequality replete with serious looking graphs may give the impression that measuring inequality in the United States is a solved problem. This is misleading. Inequality is still measured incompletely because existing U.S. government statistics do not attempt to match their estimates to the National Income and Product Accounts. NIPA is the source of the most reported and well-understood economic statistics such as the nation’s Gross Domestic Product and quarterly GDP growth figures.
Because existing estimates of economic inequality are not pegged to NIPA, they don’t account for all sources of income. They may exclude, for example, fringe benefits provided by employers such as employer-provided health insurance and retirement benefits, government transfers such as supplemental nutrition assistance or the child tax credit, government services such as public education, and tax expenditures such as the home mortgage tax deduction and tax breaks for employer-provided insurance. These exclusions, big and small, make many existing estimates of inequality fundamentally incomparable to our most well-established measures of economic growth....
Important analysis from the POV of stock-flow consistency follows. Efforts are underway to improve measurement to bring estimates of income in line with national income accounting in order to remove the inconsistencies arrive at a better understanding of income and wealth distribution in the US.
The ability to look at the geographic distribution of inequality and at slices of income within different income groups teases the possibilities of a more robust project to disaggregate the National Income and Product Accounts statistics that are currently the most referenced statistics of economic progress in the nation. Devoting federal resources to the project could allow us to track inequality not only by income bands, but also by age, geographic location, gender, ethnicity, and type of income.
WCEG — The Equitablog
The once and future measurement of economic inequality in the United States
Austin Clemens

Bill Mitchell — Even more evidence that the US labour market is below full employment

Regular readers will know that I have been investigating how close the US is to full employment, given that various commentators and conservative types have been trying to claim it is and that, as a result, the US government should hack into the fiscal deficit and the central bank should raise interest rates. Today, I consider some more evidence of a comparative nature to advance my understanding of the situation. The Bloomberg article (March 29, 2017) – The Jobs Statistics Trump Should Be Worried About – made some good points about the state of the US labour market. It focused on the significant decline in the US labour participation rate since 2000 and the cyclical component of that decline, which is a common trend in many advanced nations and one I have written a lot about in the past. The additional evidence presented in the Bloomberg articles demonstrates that the US economy is still nowhere near full employment. This blog adds some evidence from Australia and Japan by way of comparison....
Bill Mitchell – billy blog
Even more evidence that the US labour market is below full employment
Bill Mitchell | Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), at University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Steve Randy Waldman — A tao of politics

Dialectical logic: seeing complements instead of opposition, paradox instead of contradiction.

A tao of politics
Steve Randy Waldman

Publius Tacitus — Yes, Obama's People Were Spreading Classified Intel on Trump

So, we are left with only two possibilities. One--the intelligence information came from collection efforts carried out by the CIA or the NSA, or Two--the intelligence information came from a foreign collector (I believe it was the Brits) and that information was passed to the U.S. intelligence community and distributed as liaison reporting.
A third possibility is both.

Sic Semper Tyrannis
Yes, Obama's People Were Spreading Classified Intel on Trump
Publius Tacitus

Scott Adams — The Systems President

Interesting proposal. No spoiler.

The Scott Adams Blog
The Systems President
Scott Adams

Paul Goncharoff — How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Russia

US expat living in Russia debunks the myths.

Russia Insider
How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Russia
Paul Goncharoff

See also
Gilbert Doctorow

Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez, Gabriel Zucman — Economic growth in the US: A tale of two countries

The rise of economic inequality is one of today’s most hotly debated issues. But a disconnect between the different data sets used to measure and understand inequality makes it hard to address important economic and policy questions. In this column, the authors highlight the findings from their attempt to create inequality statistics for the US that overcome the limitations of existing data by creating distributional national accounts.
Economic growth in the US: A tale of two countries
Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez, Gabriel Zucman

James Woolsey and Vincent Pry — How North Korea could kill 90 percent of Americans

Hmmm. Sounds like the US is gearing up for something.

As an aside, it is rather ironic that a person named "Pry" served with the CIA.

The Hill
How North Korea could kill 90 percent of Americans
R. James Woolsey and Vincent Pry, Opinion Contributors
Ambassador R. James Woolsey was the Director of Central Intelligence from 1993-95. Dr. Peter Vincent Pry is chief of staff of the Congressional EMP Commission, served in the House Armed Services Committee and the CIA.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Bill Mitchell — Front National – seems confused on its monetary proposals

Please do not interpret in what follows any hint of support for FN from this blog other than as a ‘cat among the pigeons’ force in European politics, anything that upsets the right-wing, neo-liberal, corporatist elites that run the show is to be welcome.…
FN’s policy proposals are outlined in its – 144 Engagements Présidentiels (144-point manifesto).
The opening statements talk about regaining France’s freedom and mastery over their own destiny (“Retrouver notre liberté et la maîtrise de notre destin en restituant au peuple français” and defines sovereignty in terms of “monétaire, législative, territoriale, économique”, which would suggest a return to its own currency.
Critics seem to characterise those who advocate a return to national currency sovereignty as ‘small vision’ as opposed to the European Union which is claimed to be ‘big’.  It is big on corporatism and anti-democratic bullying and certainly big on the unemployment it has created.
My view is that a return to national currency sovereignty, that is exiting the Eurozone and floating one’s currency is a grand vision for full employment and reduced inequality.
Of course, the neo-liberals can take control of a nation that is sovereign in its own currency (as in Australia or the UK at present) and use the capacity that currency independence brings to bad effect.
But a truly progressive government cannot really exist in the Eurozone or in a nation that pegs its currency or accepts legal dictates from an undemocratic bloc (such as the EU)....
Bill Mitchell – billy blog
Front National – seems confused on its monetary proposals
Bill Mitchell | Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), at University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia

Miami Herald — Were the hackers who broke into the DNC’s email really Russian?

Is the narrative breaking down owing to lack of evidence?

Miami Herald
Were the hackers who broke into the DNC’s email really Russian?
Glenn Garvin

Ramanan — Article 50 To Be Triggered. Nicky Kaldor Would Have Been Happy

Kaldor quote.

The Case for Concerted Action
Article 50 To Be Triggered. Nicky Kaldor Would Have Been Happy
V. Ramanan

Ray McGovern — The Surveillance State Behind Russia-gate

Although many details are still hazy because of secrecy – and further befogged by politics – it appears House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes was informed last week about invasive electronic surveillance of senior U.S. government officials and, in turn, passed that information onto President Trump.

This news presents Trump with an unwelcome but unavoidable choice: confront those who have kept him in the dark about such rogue activities or live fearfully in their shadow. (The latter was the path chosen by President Obama. Will Trump choose the road less traveled?)
What President Trump decides will largely determine the freedom of action he enjoys as president on many key security and other issues. But even more so, his choice may decide whether there is a future for this constitutional republic. Either he can acquiesce to or fight against a Deep State of intelligence officials who have a myriad of ways to spy on politicians (and other citizens) and thus amass derogatory material that can be easily transformed into blackmail.…
Consortium News
The Surveillance State Behind Russia-gate
Ray McGovern, CIA analyst for 27 years and in charge of one-on-one briefings of the President’s Daily Brief under Ronald Reagan from 1981 to 1985, and Bill Binney, former Technical Director, World Geopolitical & Military Analysis, NSA, and co-founder of NSA’s SIGINT Automation Research Center.

Sputnik — Cheney Seeks to Manipulate Trump 'Splashing Gasoline' Into Election 'Scandal'

Pavel Svyatenkov gets it right.
Political scientist Pavel Svyatenkov told Radio Sputnik that the US politician wants to "splash gasoline" in the election scandal to manipulate Donald Trump.

Svyatenkov recalled that Dick Cheney previously worked in the administrations of Republican presidents George Bush Sr. and George W. Bush.
"This is when a part of the Republican elite that is associated with the Bush group — both the elder and the younger — comes into the game," the expert said.
According to the expert, Cheney played an important role in the Bush administration — he held the post of defense minister and vice president and many believed him to be an extremely influential "shadow ruler" of America.
"Therefore, the fact that now Cheney makes such statements means that there is an attempt to pour gasoline into the scandal, and a serious split among the Republican elite,"Svyatenkov noted....
"Shadow ruler." I like it.

Asher Schechter — Richard Posner: “The Real Corruption is the Ownership of Congress by the Rich”

Judge Posner has some harsh words for the contemporary American political and judicial systems.

ProMarket — The blog of the Stigler Center at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business
Richard Posner: “The Real Corruption is the Ownership of Congress by the Rich”
Asher Schechter

Edward Harrison — Subprime auto delinquency rate at highest level since financial crisis

Why it matters: The big three areas of credit expansion this cycle – energy, auto and student loans – are not of the magnitude of the housing sector in the last cycle. Not only is the mortgage sector bigger, it was international in scope, adding significantly to systemic risk by undermining the balance sheets of European banks as well as American ones.
Nevertheless, increased delinquencies in the auto sector will spell trouble given the high LTVs of loans and lower credit scores of borrowers. And I am troubled by the OCC’s depiction of the commercial real estate sector; we could see heavy loan losses there in the next downturn.
 On autos, High LTVs mean lower recovery values for a depreciating asset. And this will be compounded by falling prices given the glut of production, now buoyed by subprime auto financing. And this will have a negative impact on the auto sector and the US economy. The question on a pullback in auto loans is timing; it’s not if, it is when and how hard — and how much this will impact bank balance sheets and the economy.
Credit Writedowns
Subprime auto delinquency rate at highest level since financial crisis
Edward Harrison

Ramanan — Robots, Globalization, Unemployment, Etc

Economists have played down the notion of technological unemployment. If production is constant and productivity rises, there’s a fall in employment because less labour is required to produce the same output. So output has to rise to keep employment from falling because of “automation”. In Post-Keynesian economics, the principle of effective demand matters both in the short run and the long run. So technological unemployment is a real possibility. New Consensus economists concede that John Maynard Keynes rules in the short run but assume that Jean-Baptiste Say rules in the long run. The irony hence is that New Consensus economists seem to show worry about automation these days.
In my opinion, this is because the sacred tenet of free trade must be defended by economists at all costs. So they make a concession about loss of employment to robots. Unfortunately that’s not right either. Globalization—both because of competition by international producers and offshoring of jobs via global supply chains—has led to the loss of livelihood for many in the Western world....

Automation and robotization increase productivity, reducing the need for labor, which reduces worker incomes in developed countries. Globalization increases the available work force in open economies, increasing competition among workers in the global labor pool and reducing worker incomes in developed countries. Reduction in worker incomes undeveloped countries reduces effective demand, leading to excess capacity and potential oversupply, unless lagging demand is addressed by government fiscal policy.

Both globalization, which benefits emerging world workers, and automation and robotics, which increases productivity across the board, should be welcomed as an emergent opportunity and addressed simultaneously as an emergent challenge. Government that are currency sovereigns have tool for this, and global economy policy aimed at win-win can be achieved through concerted action rather than harmful competition and a beggar-thy-neighbor approach.

The developing world can be lifted up without necessarily dragging down the developed world.

The Case for Concerted Action
Robots, Globalization, Unemployment, Etc
V. Ramanan

Warren Mosler — Border tax comments, Redbook retail sales, International trade, Consumer confidence

Warren presents a simple model of international trade and taxation to illustrate Trumponomics.

The Center of the Universe
Border tax comments, Redbook retail sales, International trade, Consumer confidence
Warren Mosler

Chris Dillow — Keynes' flaws

Michael Roberts reminds us of something important – that Keynesian economics has severe shortcomings. I agree.
For me, the problem with Keynes was what he didn’t say. He was largely silent about three related issues: class, power and profits, or least he dismissed them lightly:
the problem of want and poverty and the economic struggle between classes and nations, is nothing but a frightful muddle, a transitory and an unnecessary muddle. (Preface to Essays in Persuasion)
It’s no accident that it should have been so easy to find a Keynesian-neoclassical synthesis, as both schools of thought ignored these matters.
This omission, however, has had several baleful effects....
Stumbling and Mumbling
Keynes' flaws
Chris Dillow | Investors Chronicle

John Ross — The economic logic behind Trump's foreign policy - why the key countries are Germany and China

This article was published in Chinese before the recent summit between Chancellor Merkel and President Trump - which strongly confirmed its analysis.
The first steps by Trump as US President confirmed that he will pursue an anti-China policy but also that he will use different tactics to Obama and Clinton. Simultaneously Trump has launched a serious conflict with Germany, supporting countries leaving the EU and demanding European states rapidly increase their military spending – policies rejected by Merkel at the recent Munich Security Conference. What, therefore, is the internal logic uniting such apparently different actions as:
Maybe Trump is playing 4-D chess? Is Trump just taking a different approach to US dominance rather than flailing about wildly as it appears to many?

Socialist Economic Bulletin
John Ross

Bill Mitchell — Why are CEOs now supporting basic income guarantees?

Must read on the basic income guarantee and why it sucks.
Recall that Marx wrote in his 1844 work A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right. that “Die Religion ist der Seufzer der bedrängten Kreatur, das Gemüth einer herzlosen Welt, wie sie der Geist geistloser Zustände ist. Sie ist das Opium des Volks” (Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. It is the opium of the people).
Religion was a major vehicle for social control used by capital to divert attention away from what they were up to – suppressing wages and worker autonomy and advancing their own interests.
Think about the role the Roman Catholic church played in Latin America as stark examples of the more subtle processes that operate in more advanced nations.
As the hold of religion lessened over time, capital found mass consumption as the next effective way to sustain a docile, compliant working class.
Please read my blog – The mass consumption era and the rise of neo-liberalism – for more discussion on this point.
But that meant allowing the standard of living of workers to increase through real wages growth in line with productivity growth and a more equitable distribution of national income.
As neo-liberalism has become more refined (not in quality but in its ability to attack the living standards of workers), the mass consumption strategy has become more involved.
Capital worked out that it could suppress real wages through labour market deregulation, take the gap generated by productivity growth for itself (redistribute national income in favour of profits), and then maintain mass consumption by pushing massive debt onto households, via the relaxing of credit standards and the corruption of banking, allowed for by the simultaneous deregulation of the financial markets.
Major lobbying was expended to make this seemingly perfect solution operational.
Except greed got in the way and the GFC came along because the debt that was being pushed onto households was no longer subject to satisfactory prudential standards and the NINJAs finally couldn’t pay.
At that point, a new form of social control was needed to cope with the mass unemployment that has been created around the world.
Enter the next ‘you-beaut-plan’ – the CEO-advocated BIG.
And the progressives who are pushing for the BIG don’t know what day it is!
So our conception of humanity is of a bare minimum consumption unit – where society only has a responsibility to provide a small capacity to ensure this consumption is enabled.
End of story. We keep people in their boxes with just enough food and other things to keep them alive – just so they don’t rebel and challenge the capacity of the top-end-of-town to go on their merry way pillaging national resources and generated income.
Social control – BIG time.
If they want a better material existence then they can do a bit of work! But haven’t the robots taken all the jobs?...
Bill Mitchell – billy blog
Why are CEOs now supporting basic income guarantees?
Bill Mitchell | Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), at University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia

Monday, March 27, 2017

James Hamilton — How the Federal Reserve controls interest rates

Good short summary of how central banks manage interest rates within a corridor with a floor rate and a ceiling rate. Hamilton compares and contrasts ECB and Fed operations.

How the Federal Reserve controls interest rates
James Hamilton | Professor of Economics, UCSD

Matthew Rozsa — He’s a Keynesian now: Donald Trump tells New York Times he wants to “prime the pump”

“We’re also going to prime the pump,” President Trump told Robert Draper of The New York Times Magazine. “You know what I mean by ‘prime the pump’? In order to get this [the economy] going, and going big league, and having the jobs coming in and the taxes that will be cut very substantially and the regulations that’ll be going, we’re going to have to prime the pump to some extent. In other words: Spend money to make a lot more money in the future. And that’ll happen.”
Pulling a Nixon.

He’s a Keynesian now: Donald Trump tells New York Times he wants to “prime the pump”
Matthew Rozsa

Voice of America — Cyber Firm Rewrites Part of Disputed Russian Hacking Report

Voice of America
Cyber Firm Rewrites Part of Disputed Russian Hacking Report
Oleksiy Kuzmenko and Pete Cobus – WASHINGTON, March 25, 2017

U.S. #cybersecurity firm #CrowdStrike has revised and retracted statements it used to buttress claims of #Russian #hacking during last year’s American presidential election campaign. The shift followed a VOA report that the company misrepresented data published by an influential British think tank.
In December, CrowdStrike said it found evidence that Russians hacked into a Ukrainian artillery app, contributing to heavy losses of howitzers in Ukraine’s war with pro-Russian separatists.
VOA reported Tuesday that the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), which publishes an annual reference estimating the strength of world armed forces, disavowed the CrowdStrike report and said it had never been contacted by the company.
Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense also has stated that the combat losses and hacking never happened.
CrowdStrike was first to link hacks of Democratic Party computers to Russian actors last year, but some cybersecurity experts have questioned its evidence. The company has come under fire from some Republicans who say charges of Kremlin meddling in the election are overblown.
After CrowdStrike released its Ukraine report, company co-founder Dmitri Alperovitch claimed it provided added evidence of Russian election interference. In both hacks, he said, the company found malware used by “Fancy Bear,” a group with ties to Russian intelligence agencies.
CrowdStrike’s claims of heavy Ukrainian artillery losses were widely circulated in U.S. media.
On Thursday, CrowdStrike walked back key parts of its Ukraine report.
The company removed language that said Ukraine’s artillery lost 80 percent of the Soviet-era D-30 howitzers, which used aiming software that purportedly was hacked. Instead, the revised report cites figures of 15 to 20 percent losses in combat operations, attributing the figures to IISS.
The original CrowdStrike report was dated Dec. 22, 2016, and the updated report was dated March 23, 2017.
The company also removed language saying Ukraine’s howitzers suffered “the highest percentage of loss of any … artillery pieces in Ukraine’s arsenal.”
Finally, CrowdStrike deleted a statement saying “deployment of this malware-infected application may have contributed to the high-loss nature of this platform” – meaning the howitzers – and excised a link sourcing its IISS data to a blogger in Russia-occupied Crimea.
In an email, CrowdStrike spokeswoman Ilina Dmitrova said the new estimates of Ukrainian artillery losses resulted from conversations with Henry Boyd, an IISS research associate for defense and military analysis. She declined to say what prompted the contact.
“This update does not in any way impact the core premise of the report that the FANCY BEAR threat actor implanted malware into a D-30 targeting application developed by a Ukrainian military officer,” Dmitrova wrote.
This is apparently a false claim:

"Crowdstrike, along with FireEye and other cybersecurity companies, have long propagated the claim that Fancy Bear and all of its affiliated monikers (APT28, Sednit, Sofacy, Strontium, Tsar Team, Pawn Storm, etc.) were the exclusive developers and users of X-Agent. We now know that is false.

"ESET was able to obtain the complete source code for X-Agent (aka Xagent) for the Linux OS with a compilation date of July 2015. [5]

"A hacker known as RUH8 aka Sean Townsend with the Ukrainian Cyber Alliance has informed me that he has also obtained the source code for X-Agent Linux. [11]

"If both a security company and a hacker collective have the X-Agent source code, then so do others, and attribution to APT28/Fancy Bear/GRU based solely upon the presumption of “exclusive use” must be thrown out.

"This doesn’t mean that the Russian government may not choose to use it. In fact, Sean Townsend believes that the Russian security services DO use it but he also knows that they aren’t the only ones."

Reached by VOA, the IISS confirmed providing CrowdStrike with new information about combat losses, but declined to comment on CrowdStrike’s hacking assertions.
“We don’t think the current version of the [CrowdStrike] report draws conclusions with regard to our data, other than quoting the clarification we provided to them,” IISS told VOA.
Dmitrova noted that the FBI and the U.S. intelligence community have also concluded that Russia was behind the hacks of the Democratic National Committee, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the email account of John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager.
Note: The FBI and US Intelligence community has said that it relied on the Crowdstrike report without investigating and that they were also denied access to the DNC server that was allegedly hacked. In addition, there is reason to think that the incident was the result of an insider leak rather than a cyber hack.
The release of embarrassing Democratic emails during last year’s U.S. political campaign, and the subsequent finding by intelligence agencies that the hacks were meant to help then-candidate Donald Trump, have led to investigations by the FBI and intelligence committees in both the House and Senate.
Trump and White House officials have denied colluding with Russians.
See also

Fabius Maximus
Exposing the farcical claims about Russian hacking of the election

Matt Bruenig — Against Chelsea Clinton

A chip off the old blocks. Taking nepotism to a new level.


Dean Baker — National Income Accounting for Robert Samuelson and Friends

Dean Baker does sectoral balance analysis but obliquely without mentioning it specifically.

Beat the Press
National Income Accounting for Robert Samuelson and Friends
Dean Baker | Co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C

Salman Rafi Sheikh — Trump’s Syria Strategy is in Place Now

Here a question also rises about the nature and the extent of objectives the US is pursuing in Syria. Clearly, there are no “short term” objectives and corollary to this is the fact there is no short term presence either.
Deployment of forces in Syria means that the US is certainly not looking at restroing Syria to its pre-war political situation. While the question of removing Assad from power doesn’t seem to be on the cards, what is very much on the cards is a division of Syria into zones and thus render Assad as the president in name only.
The plan, as some reports of the western media have suggested, should be the “creation of several autonomous zones within an otherwise still-centralized state.” These zones, according to this plan, will directly engage with, and be dependent upon, the international community for all types of “aid”, leaving potentially nothing in Assad’s hands and instead forcing him into quitting his role.
The plan also places the onus of responsibility of maintaining peace and conducting terror operations in Syria on the US/NATO forces which, by any means, have no legitimate and justifiable presence in Syria in the first place. Accordingly, Russia and Syrian forces are reduced to playing a second fiddle to the US and Iranian forces are completely removed from the Syrian territory.
The plan, in simple words, is to pave the way for a deep entrenchment of the US forces in Syria. The creation of “zones” in Syria thus makes perfect sense when seen against this background.
It only then that the US can reverse the setbacks it had to suffer in Syria during the Obama administration. It is only then that the US can prevent Russia and Iran from having an overwhelming presence and thus stabilize Syria under President Assad. On the contrary, creation of long-term “zones” in Syria means Iran will always remain vulnerable to its Arab rivals’ plans of defeating and destabilizing the Islamic Republic and establish their own hegemony fully backed by the US and Israel. 
Trump’s Syria Strategy is in Place Now
Salman Rafi Sheikh

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Branko Milanovic — The welfare state in the age of globalization

In my previous post that looked at policies to reduce inequality in the 21st century, I mentioned that I will next discuss the welfare state. Here it is...
Global Inequality
The welfare state in the age of globalization
Branko Milanovic | Visiting Presidential Professor at City University of New York Graduate Center and senior scholar at the Luxembourg Income Study (LIS), and formerly lead economist in the World Bank's research department and senior associate at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

China Daily — Central bank: Boost economy using fiscal policy

The cycle of global quantitative easing is coming to an end and policymakers should rely more on fiscal policy to stimulate growth, Zhou Xiaochuan, China's central bank governor, said on Sunday.
Zhou warned about the overreliance on monetary easing and said that policy is not "a panacea that can cure all kinds of illness".
"The direction is to see the limit (of monetary policy) and to consider very carefully how to get out of the period of monetary easing," Zhou said at a panel discussion at the Boao Forum for Asia.
In addition, governments should improve balance sheets and fiscal positions to create more room for fiscal policy, he said....

The central bank governor said China has the flexibility in fiscal policy, as the debt level of the central government is not very high, and added the country needs to streamline the relationship between the central and local governments to ensure fiscal policy fits the local conditions.
Zhou saw inflation and asset bubbles as the "unintended consequence" of the monetary easing....
The central bank launched mortgage rules to cool the property market. Among them, raising the down payment requirement for buyers of a second home in Beijing to 60 percent of the price.
Central bank: Boost economy using fiscal policy
China Daily


China will be more open to foreign investment in its financial sectors, but the level of openness depends on compromises of all parties concerned during bilateral investment treaty (BIT) negotiations, said People's Bank of China governor Zhou Xiaochuan on Sunday.
Speaking during the Boao Forum for Asia, Zhou stated China has prepared, in its BIT negotiations with the US and its trade talks with European and ASEAN countries, to take even more significant steps to open up its banking, insurance, investment banking, securities and payments sectors.
However, he noted that China hopes Chinese investors, particularly those in private sectors, can gain fair treatment overseas after it opens up its financial sectors. The governor added that China's attempts to import high-technology in at least civilian sectors should be allowed.
"Each party should make some compromises. Only then can globalization move forward and all benefit from it," said Zhou.
China will substantially cut the number of sectors on the negative list which are not open to foreign investment and offer foreign investors fair treatment in its 11 free trade zones, according to Zhou.
The governor also mentioned U.S. President Donald Trump's call for a "big border tax" on imports or the Border Adjustment Tax (BAT), which has been a topic of much discussion around the world. It is believed that BAT will lead to the appreciation of the U.S. dollar by 20 to 25 percent.
Bai Chongen, a Tsinghua University professor and member of the central bank monetary policy committee, suggested further openness in foreign direct investment be considered to reduce the negative impact of the U.S. tax reform on China.
Zhou indicated that it remains to be seen whether or not the U.S. will implement BAT in its tax reform. He said China has prepared for further openness in recent years, but its openness is not directly connected with the foreign exchange rate.
The governor noted that China is waiting to see how the Trump administration approaches trade and investment negotiations. Meanwhile, China is actively negotiating with Japan, European and ASEAN countries to achieve positive results as early as possible.

Michael Roberts reviews Fred Moseley, 'Money and totality'

This pertains especially to those interested in Marx, Marxist and Marxian economics and the controversies thereof. However, being about "money," it is also of interest to those interested in MMT.

Fred Moseley debunks the major critiques of Marx's Das Capital as being without foundation.

Weekly Worker
Consistent, realistic, verifiable – Michael Roberts reviews: Fred Moseley, 'Money and totality'

There is a shorter review at Michael Robert blog.

Fred Moseley and Marx’s macro-monetary theory

Jared McKinney — Why America—and Its Political Leaders—Should Think Twice about Poking China

Good response to a hawkish approach to China in the South China Sea. While the author is responding to an article in The National Interest, it is an argument that is commonly made that is based on dodgy assumptions and poor logic.

Someone needs to write a companion piece at The National Interest about similar assumptions about Russia that are equally dubious.

The National Interest
Why America—and Its Political Leaders—Should Think Twice about Poking China
Jared McKinney, nonresident fellow at the Pangoal Institution (Beijing) and a PhD Student at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University (Singapore)

Freedom Caucus now in contrition on the Tax Cuts

Giving "the deficit!' some "freedom!" to expand (to them).  Bullish.

Peter Cooper — The Confidence Fairy and Formation of Demand Expectations Under Uncertainty

From a broadly Keynesian viewpoint, output is demand determined. This suggests that fiscal policy, by affecting demand, can affect output and employment. At the same time, however, many Keynesians emphasize fundamental uncertainty. Firms’ output decisions depend upon expectations of future demand, and these expectations must be formulated under conditions of uncertainty. It can be wondered how the efficacy of fiscal policy squares with the presence of uncertainty....
The Confidence Fairy and Formation of Demand Expectations Under Uncertainty
Peter Cooper

Right starting to strike back...

Some recent altercations where we can see the right starting to get even.

This weekend in Cali; guy in the visor gets a right counter in over the top early:

Cops getting more confident and putting the dogs on them:

"Stickman" breaking his stick over the one guys head this one went viral a few weeks ago:

Building up...

Peter Dorman — Economics: Part of the Rot, Part of the Treatment, or Some of Each?

Peter Dorman puts his finger on what wrong with economists. Econ 101 aka "economism" (James Kwak). As Paul Krugman has said on multiple occasions the framework of conventional economists (neoclassical) is rational optimization and equilibrium.

Peter Dorman submits that this framework guiding conventional economists is not empirically based and is simply assumed as the way that market economies actually work or should work if markets are left to themselves.

These fundamental assumptions that distinguish conventional (neoclassical) economics from so-called heterodox approaches are never questioned even when facts run counter to it.

Economics: Part of the Rot, Part of the Treatment, or Some of Each?
Peter Dorman | Professor of Political Economy, The Evergreen State College

Rush to Judgment— The evidence that the Russians hacked the DNC is collapsing

To begin with, Crowdstrike initially gauged its certainty as to the identity of the hackers with “medium confidence.” However, a later development, announced in late December and touted by the Washington Post, boosted this to “high confidence.” The reason for this newfound near-certainty was their discovery that “Fancy Bear” had also infected an application used by the Ukrainian military to target separatist artillery in the Ukrainian civil war.…

The definitive “evidence” cited by Alperovitch is now effectively debunked: indeed, it was debunked by Carr late last year, but that was ignored in the media’s rush to “prove” the Russians hacked the DNC in order to further Trump’s presidential ambitions. The exposure by the Voice of America of Crowdstrike’s falsification of Ukrainian battlefield losses – the supposedly solid “proof” of attributing the hack to the GRU – is the final nail in Crowdstrike’s coffin. They didn’t bother to verify their analysis of IISS’s data with IISS – they simply took as gospel the allegations of a pro-Russian blogger. They didn’t contact the Ukrainian military, either: instead, their confirmation bias dictated that they shaped the “facts” to fit their predetermined conclusion.
Now why do you suppose that is? Why were they married so early – after a single day – to the conclusion that it was the Russians who were behind the hacking of the DNC?...
Crowdstrike founder Alperovitch is a Nonresident Senior Fellow of the Atlantic Council, and head honcho of its “Cyber Statecraft Initiative” – of which his role in promoting the “Putin did it” scenario is a Exhibit A. James Carden, writing in The Nation, makes the trenchant point that “The connection between Alperovitch and the Atlantic Council has gone largely unremarked upon, but it is relevant given that the Atlantic Council – which is funded in part by the US State Department, NATO, the governments of Latvia and Lithuania, the Ukrainian World Congress, and the Ukrainian oligarch Victor Pinchuk – has been among the loudest voices calling for a new Cold War with Russia.” Adam Johnson, writing on the FAIR blog, adds to our knowledge by noting that the Council’s budget is also supplemented by “a consortium of Western corporations (Qualcomm, Coca-Cola, The Blackstone Group), including weapons manufacturers (Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman) and oil companies (ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron, BP).”
Johnson also notes that CrowdStrike currently has a $150,000 / year, no-bid contract with the FBI for “systems analysis.”...

Global Macro Monitor A Few Thoughts On Why Health Care Went Down

Amplifies on the reasons that the AHCA crashed in flames and what to expect next.

Global Macro Monitor
A Few Thoughts On Why Health Care Went Down
ht Zero Hedge

Alexander Mercouris — Protests in Moscow and across Russia fail to shake the Kremlin

The protests were called by the Russian neoliberal ‘non-system’ activist and ‘anti-corruption’ campaigner Alexey Navalny, purportedly in order to protest against the alleged corruption of Russia’s Prime Minister and former President Dmitry Medvedev.
Medvedev seems an unlikely target for these protests. His time as President from 2008 to 2012 is sometimes seen as a sort of liberal heyday, and it is indeed a fact that in the last weeks of his Presidency he rushed through a series of liberalisation measures in response to the protests which took place in Moscow and elsewhere following the 2011 Duma elections. The fact that the very same liberals who whilst he was President hailed Medvedev as their hero and who are the main beneficiaries of his liberalisation of the political system should now turn on him does rather seem like a case of of them biting the hand that fed them.….
As I discussed recently in an article written immediately after last autumn’s parliamentary elections in Russia, Parnas – the party with which Navalny is most closely associated – only won 0.70% of the vote in that election, whilst the combined vote of all the anti-government liberal parties in that election came to no more than 2.56%. That this is a totally insufficient electoral base from which to launch a serious bid for the Presidency should not need explaining.
It is in fact highly doubtful that Navalny genuinely believes that he can win the Presidential election next year, or that he seriously aims to. However he has to show to his supporters and funders – both those in Russia, and more importantly, those in the West – that he is an active force in Russian politics and that he is providing some value for all the backing they are giving him. That leads him to make wild allegations against people like Medvedev, to announce a bid to stand in an election he cannot win, and to call a protest in Moscow and across Russia which on any objection assessment simply highlights the absence of widespread support for him.
It is this need to retain attention which explains why Navalny not only called the protest today but insisted on holding it in the form of an unsanctioned march along Tverskaya in central Moscow rather than in the various locations offered him. Through this act of seeming ‘defiance’ Navalny is able to strike a heroic (though fake) pose (since he knows nothing will actually be done to him), provoke conflict – including his own arrest – and disguise the fact that only a few thousand people turned up to support him (the police in Moscow put the number between 7,000 to 8,000) by mixing his supporters up with ordinary pedestrian traffic and the large number of onlookers who might normally be expected on a Sunday in what is Moscow’s main and busiest thoroughfare....

Clarice Feldman — Obama Did Wiretap Trump: It’s Like Putting Together a Russian Nesting Doll

A conservative summary/interpretation of what happened and "who done it." Fills in some details.

The American Thinker
Obama Did Wiretap Trump: It’s Like Putting Together a Russian Nesting Doll
Clarice Feldman

Some good news for University bound US students

will help US students in the admissions process but perhaps threaten revenue of the academe.

Trump issues an Invoice to Merkel

Trump reportedly provided a $200B invoice to Merkel for services rendered which she doesn't want to pay.

President Trump reportedly gave German Chancellor Angela Merkel an invoice for over £300 billion in what he deems to be owed contributions to NATO, per The Times of London. 
Using 2002 as a starting point — the year Merkel's predecessor Gerhard Schröder pledged to increase defense spending — U.S. officials allegedly calculated the extent to which German defense spending had fallen short of the 2% of GDP target that NATO requires, added the amount together, and then charged interest. 
Trump has also reportedly asked his staff to prepare similar calculations for all other NATO members below the 2% target.

If she doesn't pay, all Trump has to do is debit the Germany securities account at the US Fed for the $70B here to the credit of the TGA and tell them all to stick it sideways.

He would at least get that much back against the amount he views as in arrears for Germany as well as any other NATO member with a surplus USD balance identified here:

Daniel Marans — Bernie Sanders, Top Progressives Announce New ‘Medicare For All’ Push

In the wake of the Republican failure to repeal the Affordable Care Act on Friday, leading figures in the progressive wing of the Democratic Party are rallying behind a single-payer health insurance and a raft of other bold reforms.

These lawmakers and grassroots leaders have long believed that the problems plaguing the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, are rooted in the original health care law’s attempt to accommodate, rather than gradually replace, the private, for-profit health insurance system.

Now that efforts to eliminate the law wholesale are effectively dead, they are again arguing that the best way to improve the country’s health care system is to confront the power of corporate health care provider more directly.…
The Huffington Post
Bernie Sanders, Top Progressives Announce New ‘Medicare For All’ Push
Daniel Marans

Xinhua — China rolls out plan to revitalize traditional crafts

Speaking of creating employment opportunities.
The Chinese government has rolled out a revitalization plan for traditional craftsmanship amid efforts to protect intangible cultural heritage and meet needs such as employment and poverty alleviation.
By 2020, China will have seen a "significant enhancement" of the ability to carry on traditional crafts with better industry management and market compatibility, according to the plan issued by the ministries of culture, industry and information technology and finance.
The incomes of those involved will be increased and employment promoted significantly, according to the plan posted on the website of China's cabinet, the State Council.
Among 1,372 items on the national list of intangible cultural heritage, more than 300 are traditional crafts, mainly concerning fine arts, traditional Chinese medicine and ethnic clothing.
The government will formulate a revitalization list to support key projects which have great development potential and will help employment.
Young people will be encouraged to participate. Universities, enterprises and other organizations will step up training and research.
International exchange and cooperation will also be promoted, according to the plan.
Some enterprises have set up workshops in areas with rich resources of traditional crafts to help local craftsmen improve product quality. As sales are expanding, more people have found jobs and shaken off poverty, said an official with the Ministry of Culture.
China rolls out plan to revitalize traditional crafts

Neil Wilson — Jobs and Vacancies

Another good one on unemployment from Neil on how the JG solves an unrecognized issue in analysis of employment and the dynamics of the labor market.

Modern Money Matters
Jobs and Vacancies
Neil Wilson

Brian Romanchuk — Canadian Federal Government Rejoins Reality

Canada-centric but interesting from the MMT POV.

Bond Economics
Canadian Federal Government Rejoins Reality
Brian Romanchuk

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Xinhua — China court overturns iPhone sale ban

A Chinese court has ruled in favor of Apple Inc. in design patent disputes between it and a domestic phone-maker, overturning a ban on selling iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus phones in China.
Last May, a Beijing patent regulator ordered Apple's Chinese subsidiary and a local retailer Zoomflight to stop selling the said phones after Shenzhen Baili Marketing services Co. (Shenzhen Baili) lodged a complaint to it, claiming that the patent for the design of its mobile phone 100c was being infringed upon by the iPhone sales.
Apple and Zoomflight took the Beijing Intellectual Property Office's banning order to court.
The Beijing Intellectual Property Court on Friday revoked the ban, saying Apple and Zoomflight did not violate Shenzhen Baili's design patent for 100c phones.
The court ruled that the regulator did not follow due procedures in ordering the ban while there is no sufficient proof to claim the designs constitute violation of intellectual property rights.
Representatives of Beijing Intellectual Property Office and Shenzhen Baili said they would take time to decide whether to appeal the ruling.
In another related ruling, the same court denied a request by Apple to demand stripping Shenzhen Baili of its design patent for 100c phones. Apple first filed the request to the Patent Reexamination Board of State Intellectual Property Office. The board rejected the request, but Apple lodged a lawsuit against the rejection to court.
The Beijing Intellectual Property Court on Friday ruled to maintain the board's decision. It remains not immediately clear if Apple will appeal....
China court overturns iPhone sale ban

David Haggith — Trump Obamacare Repeal Blew Up Bigly Because of a House Divided Against Itself

David Haggith explains how the three factions of the Congressional GOP could not arrive at compromise and perhaps never will be able to do so.
It is hard to say exactly who was in each group because no vote was taken to put members on record, but this appears to be generally how things fell apart:
1) By far the largest group would have consisted of the house’s largest conservative faction (172 members), known as the Republican Study Committee, probably joined by members of the House Republican Conference who do not identify with any particular faction. I’m talking here about the group that solidly supported President Trump and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan on the AHCA as originally drafted.
The Republican Study Committee — formed in 1973 to keep an eye on the party’s moderate leadership during the Nixon-Ford years — is the House’s oldest active faction....
2) The smallest, rewest, and most conservative faction of the House Republican Conference, called the “Freedom Caucus,” was established in 2015 to battle then Speaker John Boehner, particularly to fight his approval of Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act). These members of congress can be seen as the present rabble rousers because this is the faction that was willing to shut down the government in the original fight against Obamacare. ...
3) A larger faction of the House Republican Conference consists of about fifty people, who are the left-most Republicans in the House of Representatives (meaning only that they are moderates since no one in the Republican party is a leftist). This group was established in 1994 as the “Tuesday Group” when Republicans took control of the House under the more conservative leadership of Newt Gingrich. Gingrich rallied Republicans around his Contract with America. The Tuesday Group formed to resist Gingrich’s more conservative positioning of the Republican party.
The actual battle went like this: Unquestionably, those aligned with the Freedom Caucus felt the original AHCA bill, as proposed by Paul Ryan, did not go far enough in repealing Obamacare. Therefore, the group of Republicans who were with Trump and Ryan modified the bill to strip out more of Obamacare by taking down some of its Medicaid provisions and other benefits in order go gain some of the more conservative votes. That resulted in those aligned with the Tuesday Group (the most moderate Republicans) feeling the bill now went further right than they could tolerate. As a result, the Republicans lost some moderate votes when they compromised to pick up more conservative votes, and they never gained all of the conservative votes. So, they could not find a majority that could agree on any bill, and they had already thumbed their noses at Democrats completely, so they certainly wouldn’t get any help there....

Ken Jacobson — Whose Corporations? Our Corporations!

Historically, corporations were understood to be responsible to a complex web of constituencies, including employees, communities, society at large, suppliers, and shareholders. But in the era of deregulation, the interests of shareholders began to trump all the others. How can we get corporations to recognize their responsibilities beyond this narrow focus? It begins in remembering that the philosophy of putting shareholder profits over all else is a matter of ideology which is not grounded in American law or tradition. In fact, it is no more than a dangerous fad. 
Whose Corporations? Our Corporations!
Ken Jacobson | senior editor for the newsletter Manufacturing & Technology News


3 Corporate Myths that Threaten the Wealth of the Nation

Paul Robinson — From Russia with love – lessons for today from a revolution 100 years ago

In liberal thought, legitimacy derives from elections, the state’s respect for its citizens’ human rights, open and transparent government, a free press and so on. According to these criteria, the provisional government ought to have been more legitimate than the unpopular monarchy it replaced. But it wasn’t. The legitimacy of the state proved to be inseparable from the person of the czar.
To understand why, one must look to an alternative concept of legitimacy. This sees legitimacy as deriving from history, tradition, nationalism and religion, as well as from force rather than from popularity and individual freedoms. Russians had regarded the czar as legitimate because the monarchy embodied centuries of Russian history, a sense of the Russian nation, and the idea of Orthodoxy. The monarchy was also feared. When it was gone, all that was left was an abstract commitment to liberal values. This was not sufficient. The result was the eventual triumph of Bolshevism.

This story continues to be repeated in countries across the globe today: Again and again, regime change leads not to liberal democracy but instead to civil war.
Despite this, many in the West continue to believe in the value of overthrowing what they consider to be corrupt or autocratic regimes, without in many cases taking due regard of the ways in which existing regimes have a form of legitimacy which is not easily replaced.
Too often, a mere public commitment to Western values proves to be an insufficient replacement for power, tradition, religion or nationalism. Unless we can redefine our understanding of legitimacy in order to take such factors into consideration, our efforts to reshape the world are all too likely to continue to end up creating only chaos.
Ottawa Citizen
Robinson: From Russia with love – lessons for today from a revolution 100 years ago
Paul Robinson | Professor, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa

Dennis Kucinich — Yes, a call from a member’s office was intercepted

An open letter to members of Congress
The Hill
Yes, a call from a member’s office was intercepted
Former Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio)

Ryan Avent — How Automation with a Robust Safety Net Increases Productivity

Workers replaced by technology don't drop out of the labor market because then the would face poverty, alone with bankruptcy and seizure of assets if they are indebted, as most workers are. So workers replaced by technological innovation have to seek reemployment. This drives down the wage and employment conditions that workers in general are willing to accept.
So there you are: continued high levels of employment with weak growth in wages and productivity is not evidence of disappointing technological progress; it is what you’d expect to see if technological progress were occurring rapidly in a world where thin safety nets mean that dropping out of the labour force leads to a life of poverty.
Technological innovation that increases productivity provides the opportunity for increased leisure but this doesn't mean that this opportunity will be distributed, especially when the benefits accrue chiefly to owners, top management, and highly skilled workers associate with the technology.

How Automation with a Robust Safety Net Increases Productivity
Ryan Avent | senior editor and economics columnist at The Economist

Robert Parry — How US Flooded the World with Psyops

Newly declassified documents from the Reagan presidential library help explain how the U.S. government developed its sophisticated psychological operations capabilities that – over the past three decades – have created an alternative reality both for people in targeted countries and for American citizens, a structure that expanded U.S. influence abroad and quieted dissent at home.

The documents reveal the formation of a psyops bureaucracy under the direction of Walter Raymond Jr., a senior CIA covert operations specialist who was assigned to President Reagan’s National Security Council staff to enhance the importance of propaganda and psyops in undermining U.S. adversaries around the world and ensuring sufficient public support for foreign policies inside the United States....
Until the 1980s, psyops were normally regarded as a military technique for undermining the will of an enemy force by spreading lies, confusion and terror....
Essentially, the psyops idea was to play on the cultural weaknesses of a target population so they could be more easily manipulated and controlled. But the challenges facing the Reagan administration in the 1980s led to its determination that peacetime psyops were also needed and that the target populations had to include the American public.
The Reagan administration was obsessed with the problems left behind by the 1970s’ disclosures of government lying about the Vietnam War and revelations about CIA abuses both in overthrowing democratically elected governments and spying on American dissidents. This so-called “Vietnam Syndrome” produced profound skepticism from regular American citizens as well as journalists and politicians when President Reagan tried to sell his plans for intervention in the civil wars then underway in Central America, Africa and elsewhere.…
The more recently released documents – declassified between 2013 and 2017 – show how these earlier Casey-Raymond efforts merged with the creation of a formal psyop bureaucracy in 1986 also under the control of Raymond’s NSC operation. The combination of the propaganda and psyop programs underscored the powerful capability that the U.S. government developed more than three decades ago for planting slanted, distorted or fake news. (Casey died in 1987; Raymond died in 2003.) 
Over those several decades, even as the White House changed hands from Republicans to Democrats to Republicans to Democrats, the momentum created by William Casey and Walter Raymond continued to push these “perception management/psyops” strategies forward. In more recent years, the wording has changed, giving way to more pleasing euphemisms, like “smart power” and “strategic communications.” But the idea is still the same: how you can use propaganda to sell U.S. government policies abroad and at home.
I've left out the details, which are extremely interesting and involve names that most Americans with memories extending to the Reagan years will recognize. Many of them are still active.

Consortium News
How US Flooded the World with Psyops
Robert Parry