Monday, April 30, 2018

Anna Issac — UK faces 'binary choice' of EU or US trade, MPs warn

The UK is facing a binary choice between a deep trading relationship with the EU or the US, according to a report from MPs on the International Trade Committee (ITC).
Efforts to drop regulations in a bid to land a quick Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the US could result in the erection of fresh trade barriers between the UK and the EU, the report claimed.…
Detailed report. Longish.

The Telegraph
UK faces 'binary choice' of EU or US trade, MPs warn
Anna Issac | Economics Correspondent

Jason Smith — The ability to predict

Another good one on foundations of science and economics, specifically macroeconomics — if you are into this sort of thing.
These papers also fail to make any empirical predictions or really engage with data at all. I get the impression that people aren't actually interested in making predictions or an actual scientific approach to macro- or micro-economics, but rather in simply using science as a rhetorical device....
Information Transfer Economics
The ability to predict
Jason Smith

David Dayen — Whether America Can Afford a Job Guarantee Program Is Not Up for Debate

Disappointing. David Dayen surely knows that as currency issuer the federal government faces no limitation on the amount of currency it can issue, but he doesn't mention it.

The Intercept
Whether America Can Afford a Job Guarantee Program Is Not Up for Debate
David Dayen

See also
With Senator Bernie Sanders in the forefront, some Democratic members of Congress are planning a bill to guarantee jobs that pay $15 per hour, not including mandatory benefits packages, for all Americans. Legislative details have not yet been announced (!), but several sets of plan have been published recently, including on the website of the Sanders Institute, which was founded by Jane O'Meara Sanders, wife of the senator. Here, let's run through a couple of the more prominent plans, and then list on criticisms that have been bubbling up--with a focus on critiques from writers typically identified as being on the political left....
Conversable Economist
The Job Guarantee Controversy
Timothy Taylor | Managing editor of the Journal of Economic Perspectives, based at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota

Publius Tacitus — Israel Launches Desperate PsyOps and Trump is Buying

The news is not the news. What you are seeing on the tube on the nets is not necessarily the truth. That's a shocker, huh? Today's propaganda blitz came courtesy of Israel's Bibi Netanyahu. In a carefully staged managed presentation, Bibi one upped Colin Powell's lamentable lie fest before the UN Security Council in January 2003. While Powell's mission back then was to get the world in line for an unprovoked, illegal attack on Iraq using the false guise of weapon's of mass destruction, Bibi's task was less audacious and far more manageable--Give Donald Trump ammunition for ending the multilateral agreement with Iran. In other words, put the Iran agreement in the toilet.…
Yet, Bibi failed to provide one shred of evidence that Iran had violated the agreement currently in place. In fact, all Bibi did was dredge up old, dated intelligence and present it as something new. I suspect we will soon learn that Jared Kushner and Mike Pompeo were in touch with Netanyahu and his crowd in coordinating this presentation. This was staged managed so that Trump can announce in 10 days that the United States is pulling out of the accord because Iran "lied." Of course, there will be no evidence whatsoever that Iran lied, but who needs proof when there is a political axe to grind.
I expect we will see more efforts by Israel in the coming 10 days to launch military strikes in Syria against Iranian troops and targets in hopes of triggering retaliation by Iran. But such retaliation will be portrayed in the media as an unprovoked act of aggression by Iran.
The die is cast. Trump is pulling the plug on the Iran agreement. But that is a foolish move. It may feel good today but it will work to Iran's advantage in the long run.
Sic Semper Tyrannis
Israel Launches Desperate PsyOps and Trump is Buying
Publius Tacitus

See also

Moon of Alabama
Netanyahoo To Again Cry Wolf - But Something Bigger Is Up (Updated)

See also

Serious smackdown of Bibi.
Among Netanyahu’s motives for trying to destroy something that is in Israel’s own security interests is to distract attention from the destructive effects of his own government’s policies and to levy all blame for any regional bloodshed and instability on Iran by keeping it a pariah. The destructive effects in question keep accumulating, and the past few days are no exception. There is the Israeli military’s lethal use of forceagainst Palestinians demonstrating against their confinement in the miserable conditions of the Gaza Strip. There are the lethal Israeli air and missile strikes in Syria, which over the past year or two have numbered in the dozens as compared to a single drone in the other direction that did not fire a shot.
The Israeli government’s vigorous opposition to any agreement with Iran also helps to preclude an American straying from the passionate attachment to Israel, which in practice on many issues has meant attachment to the Israeli government and its policies. If Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s just-concluded visit to the region is any indication, Netanyahu need have no worry about that with the current U.S. administration. Pompeo’s remarks—on Iran, on Syria, on Gaza—could not have been more pleasing to the prime minister’s ears if Netanyahu’s own staff had written the talking points. Such remarks represent prioritizing the passionate attachment over an independent pursuit of U.S. interests and over the interests of regional stabilization and nuclear nonproliferation.
One closing observation concerns the irony of exactly who is energetically accusing another regime of lying about activities related to nuclear weapons. The accusations are coming from the prime minister of a state that has long asserted that it would not be the first to introduce nuclear weapons into the Middle East—an assertion that almost no one in the region believes.…
Netanyahu Makes a Case for the JCPOA
Paul R. Pillar | 28-year veteran of the CIAm, presently a non-resident senior fellow at Georgetown University's Center for Security Studies and a nonresident senior fellow in the Brookings Institution's Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence, and a contributor to The National Interest.[


War drums beating or only war clouds gathering?
My opinion remains that Kiev will attack not when it decides that the time is ripe for an offensive, but when the West gives the command.
Putting pressure on Putin?

Fort Russ
Ukraine Moves Heavy Forces up to Donbass Frontline: Is War Around the Corner?Eduard Popov, translated byJafe Arnold
The Ukrainian president also said that “a military operation to protect territorial integrity will be completed only when the last piece of Ukrainian land, including the Crimea, is liberated.”
Today, America’s long awaited lethal weapons have been confirmed to be delivered to Ukraine.…
Urgent: Poroshenko announced operation for return of Crimea
Inessa S
By changing the format of the military operation in the east of Ukraine, Kiev has legalized the use of armed forces in resolving the conflict in the region in peacetime. At the same time, the leadership of the security forces involved in the Donbass are now moving from the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) to the Ukrainian military.
Javelins – American anti-tank missile systems have been delivered to Ukraine, according to the State Department.
Inessa S

Daniel Margrain — For how long will corporate media vilify Mr Corbyn?

In 1978, the Australian social scientist, Alex Carey, pointed out that the twentieth century has been characterized by three developments of great political importance: “the growth of democracy; the growth of corporate power; and the growth of corporate propaganda as a means of protecting corporate power against democracy.”
In order to defend their business interests against the forces of democracy, the corporations that now dominate much of the domestic and global economies recognize the need to manipulate the public through media propaganda by manufacturing their consent, largely achieved through coordinated mass campaigns that combine sophisticated public relations techniques.
This is the context of the political and media establishment’s vilification of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership and their plot to oust him....
If Donald Trump is any indication, "they" will attempt to block his rise to power and will try to oust him should he gain office.

Renegade Inc.
For how long will corporate media vilify Mr Corbyn?
Daniel Margrain

See also
At the very beginning of the of the Skripal incident, the security services blocked by D(SMA) notice any media mention of Pablo Miller and told the media not to look at Orbis and the Steele dossier on Trump, acting immediately to get out their message via trusties in the BBC and Guardian.…
We still have no idea of who attacked Sergei Skripal and why. But the fact that, right from the start, the government blocked the media from mentioning Pablo Miller, and put out denials that this has anything to do with Christopher Steele and Orbis, including lying that Miller had never been connected to Orbis, convinces me that this is the most promising direction in which to look.
It never seemed likely to me that the Russians had decided to assassinate an inactive spy who they let out of prison many years ago, over something that happened in Moscow over a decade ago. It seemed even less likely when Boris Johnson claimed intelligence showed this was the result of a decade long novichok programme involving training in secret assassination techniques. Why would they blow all that effort on old Skripal?
That the motive is the connection to the hottest issue in US politics today, and not something in Moscow a decade ago, always seemed to me much more probable. Having now reviewed matters and seen that the government actively tried to shut down this line of inquiry, makes it still more probable this is right.…
Steele, MI6 and the elements of the CIA which are out to get Trump, all would have a powerful motive to have the Skripal loose end tied.
Rule number one of real investigative journalism: look where they tell you not to look.
Craig Murray Blog
Where They Tell You Not to Look
Craig Murray, formerly British ambassador to Uzbekistan and Rector of the University of Dundee

China's Embrace Of An Intellectual Property System Imposed On It By The United States — Lynn Fries interviews Peter Drahos

I don’t think it’s in the long term interests of the United States to enter a sort of arms race in this area. Because I think that’s going to produce a frightening kind of dystopian world. We have a lot of choices about the future that we can create. And unfortunately, I think intellectual property, the privatization of science, an arms raced mentality when it comes to the use of science, is going to produce the sort of sci-fi future that none of us really want, a kind of dark, dystopian one. We could have a very different one of course....
China's Embrace Of An Intellectual Property System Imposed On It By The United States
Lynn Fries interviews Peter Drahos, Professor of Law and Governance in the Law Department at the European University Institute, Florence, Chair holder in Intellectual Property at Queen Mary, University of London, and member of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia

Penny Crosman — Crypto lending may be risky, but these firms say they've solved the riddle

As a new crypto lender, Nexo, launches Monday, the fintechs that lend money to people based on the digital currency they own say they’re doing well even when cryptocurrency values plummet.
Longish but interesting article that looks at three crypto lenders.

American Banker
Crypto lending may be risky, but these firms say they've solved the riddle
Penny Crosman

FRED Blog — Did the U.S. government just achieve a surplus? : A closer look at our national accounts

Almost all governments run deficits, so it’s a big deal when a government achieves a surplus. This graph includes data for all levels of U.S. government (local, state, and federal) on the net result of their lending and borrowing: A net deficit appears below the zero line, and a net surplus appears above the zero line. Notice the sudden jump in the fourth quarter of 2017 that reaches just above zero? This is a seasonally adjusted data series, by the way, so this jump has nothing to do with the regular influx of tax payments as the filing deadline approaches. (And that particular seasonal jump is in the second quarter, anyway.) So what’s going on here?...
Notice "achieve." No one ever says, "achieve a deficit," only "achieve a balance" and "achieve a surplus."

Did the U.S. government just achieve a surplus? : A closer look at our national accounts

Sophie Hardach — Here are 3 facts you need to know about inequality and populism

Why are democracies around the world failing to curb rising inequality? What explains the ascent of populist parties and politicians? In a recent paper, French economist Thomas Piketty argues not only that inequality and populism are linked – but that both can be explained by dramatic shifts in the traditional two-party system that favour different elites....
  1. The rise of the “Brahmin Left”
  2. The persistence of the “Merchant Right
  3. Where does this leave poor and less educated voters? ...

Pew Research Center — When Americans Say They Believe in God, What Do They Mean?

Nine-in-ten Americans believe in a higher power, but only a slim majority believe in God as described in the Bible.

How does this affect economics?

Assuming homo economicus, not much. Assuming homo socialis, a lot.

Pew Research Center

Reuters — India says electrified all villages ahead of prime minister's deadline

This is a big deal. Rural electrification made huge difference in the US less than a hundred years ago. We now take for granted.

This is a sine qua non for becoming a developed country.

India rising.

While the West has a class system,  India has a caste system. The class system is insidious since it is invisible, but the caste system is highly visible and structured in long standing tradition with scriptural roots. This obstacle cannot be address by throwing money at it.

India says electrified all villages ahead of prime minister's deadline

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Brian Romanchuk — Can We Falsify Models With Time-Varying Parameters?

In a previous article, I argued that having unknown fixed parameters within many economic models does not create much in the way of uncertainty: just extend the range of historical data available, and we can pin down the parameter values. This article covers a related case: what if we allow parameters to vary with time? This possibility will make it impossible to make reliable forecasts with the model. However, such models have another defect: they can be fitted to practically any data set, making the model non-falsifiable. This can be illustrated by thinking about the simplest model of stock index returns. My argument that the apparent success of mainstream macro modelling techniques relies on the use of such non-falsifiable models….

Bond Economics
Can We Falsify Models With Time-Varying Parameters?
Brian Romanchuk

Sandwichman — Job Guarantee versus Work Time Regulation

There has been a bit of commotion recently about the Job Guarantee idea (AKA employer of last resort). I don't consider myself an opponent of the strategy but I do have several reservations about its political feasibility, the marketing rhetoric of its advocates, and its economic and administrative transparency. Some of these concerns I share with an analysis presented by Robert LaJeunesse in his 2009 book, Work Time Regulation as Sustainable Full Employment Strategy. For that reason, it would be timely to post an excerpt from Bob's discussion of"Job guarantees versus work time regulation."...
Lot of the things to think about and debate here.

It is framed in the spirit of inquiry rather than polemic, persuasion or invective, or in a such a formalized (wonkish) style that it is impenetrable to non-experts.
The following excerpt is from pages 125-134 of Work Time Regulation as Sustainable Full Employment Strategy.
 Longish but worth the read.

Basically the idea is that increasing distributed leisure made possible by productivity gains from technology is superior to a buffer stock of employed approach that simply continues the existing system after it has reached its expiration date.

This is the type of discussion we should be having.

Job Guarantee versus Work Time Regulation

Bill Mitchell — The World Bank should be defunded

Australia is currently being shocked on a daily basis with the revelations in our Royal Commission on Banking, which show that our financial services sector (banks, insurance companies, financial planning, etc) is deeply corrupt, with criminal behaviour clearly rife. Hopefully, many of the top executives and board members of these firms will be prosecuted and do time. Another ‘bank’ that has totally lost any sense of moral compass, not to mention effectiveness, is the World Bank. Its behaviour over the years has been scandalous. Earlier this year we learned that its so-called ‘Doing Business’ strategy deliberately manipulated its reporting to undermine a democratically elected government (Chile). And, last week (April 26, 2018), the World Bank released the Working Draft of its upcoming – World Development Report 2019: The Changing Nature of Work – where it attempted to pressure governments into widespread labour market deregulation, which if carried through would further disadvantage workers and further redistribute national income towards profits. The World Bank has outlived its purpose. It is now a seriously dangerous international institution and progressive governments should set about defunding it.
The World Bank has long been criticised for its role in undermining democracy in the less developed world.…
Institutions such as the IMF and the World Bank that grew out of the Post World War 2 consensus between nation states to manage the Bretton Woods fixed exchange rate system and the need to reconstruct Europe and build prosperity in poorer nations have long outlived their role.
They have morphed into using their financial power over weaker nations to push a neoliberal agenda which prioritises the needs of international capital at the expense of the well-being of citizens in those nations. 
Both institutions should be defunded and a new international institutional framework created.
Bill Mitchell – billy blog
The World Bank should be defunded
Bill Mitchell | Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), at University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia

North Korea

Well North Korea keeps saying "denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula" instead of "North Korea," and that has a specific meaning in North Korean parlance. That is dislodging the US nuclear [extended] deterrence from the region.
So, we are not talking about the denuclearization of North Korea per se, but disarmament or dislodging the US presence from the region. These are two very different conceptual definitions.... 
Sputnik International
Radio Sputnik interviews Lee Sung-yoon, a Korea expert at Tufts University

See also

Bolton has reiterated this position.
Bolton, a hawk who Trump named on Thursday to replace H.R. McMaster in the key security role, told Radio Free Asia on Monday that discussions at the proposed summit with Kim Jong Un should be similar to those that led to components of Libya’s nuclear program being shipped to the United States in 2004.

“Let’s have this conversation by May, or even before that, and let’s see how serious North Korea really is,” Bolton said, according to a transcript of his remarks posted on the RFA website on Friday.

“If they’re not prepared to have that kind of serious discussion, it could actually be a very short meeting.”...
Reuters (23 March 2018)
Trump should insist on Libya-style denuclearization for North Korea: Bolton

see also

This Can't Be Happening
What Does ‘Denuclearization’ Mean in the Negotiations for an End to the Korean War?
Dave Lindorff


Dilbert Blog
My North Korea Blog Posts – Indexed for Historians
Scott Adams

Jonathan Larson — Are we doomed?

Are we living in denial because the consequences and alternatives are unthinkable for most? Or are the doomsayers wrong?

Some of alive right now won't be alive to find out. Some may find out and likely will. Even so, our offspring most certainly will find out. It could be a very unpleasant discovery through experience.

real economics
Are we doomed?
Jonathan Larson

TruePublica — The Guardian/Sky News Team Up To Promote Fake News About Fake News

On the 19th of April, The Guardian (International Edition) published an article making the assertion that two Twitter accounts were Russian propaganda operations or as they like to put it ‘trolls and bots’ to unleash disinformation on to social media in the wake of the Salisbury poisoning. 
The article is written by a rather unsuspecting and maybe, let’s be charitable here, nieve Heather Stewart, who went along with the government operative who fed this nonsense to her in the first place. Either that or she and The Guardian is deliberately distributing stories that are fake....
But there’s a problem with this.
The owners of both these Twitter accounts quickly stepped forward and on video too, remonstrating in no uncertain terms that they were, indeed are, in fact, real humans – and weren’t even Russian. They have defended themselves to prove they are definitely not software programs.
The Guardian should have taken this story down – its fake news, but they haven’t.
Ian of @Ian56789 even went on national TV, Sky News to be precise and he was quite definitely miffed about being called an automated Russian bot.…
The Guardian/Sky News Team Up To Promote Fake News About Fake News
TruePublica Editor

See also
Scott Ritter is arguably the most experienced American weapons inspector and in this interview with Dennis J. Bernstein he levels a frank assessment of U.S. government assertions about chemical weapons use.
Consortium News
Weapons Inspector Refutes U.S. Syria Chemical Claims
Dennis J. Bernstein interviews Scott Ritter


Media Lens
Douma: Part 1 - Deception In Plain Sight

Douma: Part 2 - 'It Just Doesn't Ring True'

Dmitri Trenin — US hybrid war arrives to replace Cold War

Dmitri Trenin is an analyst worth listening to. Short.

Global Times
US hybrid war arrives to replace Cold War
Dmitri Trenin

The Global Times is a subsidiary of the People's Daily, the official media organ of the CCP. While the Global Times is not an official party organ, it is reflective of it.

See also

Sputnik International
US No Longer Has Resources to Start Full-Scale War Against Iran - Prof
Radio Sputnik interviews Hamed Mousavi, professor of political science at the University of Tehran

See also

S-400 specs and performance capability.

Strategic Culture Foundation
Russia’s S-400 Air-Defense System Proves to Be Red Rag for the US Bull
Arkady Savitsky | military analyst based in St Petersburg, Russia

See also at SCF
Just as members of the old Soviet nomenklatura depended on Marxism-Leninism both as a working methodology and as a justification for their prerogatives and privileges, denizens of the entrenched duopoly of Democrat liberal interventionists and Republican neoconservatives rely upon an ideological imperative of “democracy promotion” for global empire and endless wars.…
Unfortunately, the ersatz America has taken firm hold of the key levers of power. Worse, Trump handed those levers to them.
 Russia Really Is America’s No. 1 Enemy – Depending on Who ‘America’ Is
James George Jatras | analyst, former U.S. diplomat, and foreign policy adviser to the Senate GOP leadership

John Atcheson — Beyond Trump: How the US Went Off the Rails

Well, to be clear, Trump is a big problem. But he’s not the cause of our problems.
To understand why, we have to go back to the 70s, when conservatives and oligarchs launched a de facto coup that ultimately ushered in a New Dark Ages. Conservatives like Lewis Powell and Milton Friedman were mounting a counterattack on the progressive policies of the New Deal, in an attempt to make America more “business friendly.”
As I detail in my book WTF, America? How the US Went Off the Rails and How to Get It Back on Track, conservatives and corporations funded a network of endowed academic chairs, foundations, think tanks, and media outlets that allowed the rich to influence, and ultimately shape, the nation’s policy agenda, giving the cover of intellectual respectability to an ideology based on greed and self-interest, while creating a cadre of leaders and upcoming leaders who could and would, win elections.

It wasn’t their intent to repeal the Enlightenment and push the U.S. into the Dark Ages, but along the way, their coup ran into an uncomfortable fact: Their ideology was simply not true. Greed wasn’t good. Their perversion of Adam Smith’s invisible hand—the notion that self-interest served the public good better than do-gooder government policies—simply didn’t work.
The evidence for this became too overwhelming to deny. Trickle down, supply side, tax cuts for the rich, government as the problem, markets as the solution—all the carefully structured arguments for cutting back government, deregulating the economy, and unloosing the corporate juggernaut—failed to deliver prosperity. Manifestly, and miserably. Except for the top 1 percent. For them, it delivered unparalleled wealth. For many of the oligarchs that was fine, and for some it was the whole point of the coup.

Their schema didn’t fail once—it failed over and over again. It failed at the national level all three times it was tried; it is failing now in virtually every state where a radical right-wing governor has attempted to implement it.
Meanwhile, states like California, which raised taxes and regulated the economy, prospered. And then there was the uncomfortable fact that the New Deal, with its heavy regulatory hand and high taxes, ushered in the longest, most equitably shared period of prosperity in our nation’s history.
What’s a poor government hater to do?

Step 1:  Take control of the media. Gut the FCC; buy up all the stations; consolidate the newspapers.

Step 2:  Distract, deceive, dissemble and divide. Use sexism, racism, jingoism, hate, fear, greed, and any other “ism” you can think of to take the spotlight off your failure; to short-circuit reason; and to put the limbic lizard brain in charge. Meanwhile, use advanced rhetorical techniques to sell your snake oil through a multi-billion dollar network of think tanks, endowed university chairs, foundations, media outlets, and both bought-and-paid-for political parties.

Step 3: Sabotage the democratic process. Use gerrymandering, voter exclusion, and suppression to keep the young, minorities, and the poor from voting. Make elections a contest for corporate money and buy both parties. Mess with the census. Alienate enough voters that a mere 27 percent of the passionately ignorant can decide the elections.
Step 4:Tell people that the market will deliver everything their hearts desire if we just get government off its back, and that the government is the problem, not the solution...then gut government with tax cuts and political appointments representing the oligarchy at the expense of the people so it can’t and won’t provide solutions any longer.
Step 5:Use the billions spent on the oligarchs’ coup to attack reason, facts, and critical thinking itself. Repeal the Enlightenment and usher in a Next Dark Age, where myth, revealed truths, decrees from on high, and counterfactual nonsense have equal standing with reality.
Once you’ve done all this, you can continue to walk away with most of the money, the power, and the spoils, and do it under cover of ignorance. For example, in 2012, North Carolina lawmakers passed legislation against sea level rise. A day later, the Virginia legislature required that references to global warming, climate change, and sea level rise be excised from a proposed study on sea level rise.
The year before these acts of abominable ignorance the Texas Department of Environmental Quality, which had commissioned a study on Galveston Bay, cut all references to sea level rise—the main point of the study. Meanwhile, Texan Republicans had opposed a proposal to make a course in critical thinking skills a requirement in the state’s curriculum. Don’t want people thinking clearly.

The problem with all this is that the Enlightenment is what brought us untold wealth and health, and it was the basis of our constitution and the freedoms it confers upon us. It took us from one-horse carts to automobiles to airplanes. From leaches and phrenology to penicillin and monoclonal antibodies. From autocracies, kleptocracies, and plutocracies to democracy—or at least a reasonable facsimile of one. And until the oligarchs’ coup, the trend in our nation was to expand the freedoms originally granted to white males only, to an ever-increasing number of people.
Trump is simply the inevitable result of this divorce from reality. He is the bitter harvest of poisoned fruit we get from sowing seeds of ignorance.
And yes, this descent into the New Dark Ages is a bipartisan affair—one the Democrats seem intent on continuing, by backing centrist, corporate-friendly candidates in the mold of the Clintons.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License
Common Dreams
Beyond Trump: How the US Went Off the Rails
John Atcheson

See also

Global Economic Intersect
End of Democracy?
Frank Li

Jack Peat — British Overseas Territories playing huge role in laundering dirty money from Russia

The amount of money held by Russians in the UK is dwarfed by the amount held in the British Overseas Territories, which include some of the world’s most significant tax havens.
The Global Witness report, Missing the Bigger Picture, is released as politicians have called for a crackdown on criminal and corrupt cash from Russia following the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and ahead of a crucial vote in parliament to increase transparency in the UK’s tax havens on Tuesday 1 May.
The analysis of figures from the IMF and Russian Central Banks shows nearly five times as much Russian money is invested in the British Overseas Territories (OTs) as is held in the UK....
Enabling bad behavior.

Jack Peat

Jeff Epstein — The Federal Job Guarantee Is Not Just “Better” Than a Universal Basic Income. It’s the Only Reasonable Option. Universal Basic Income Is Sinister.

Yves here. Another way to think about the warning of this post is: Beware of Silicon Valley libertarian billionaires bearing gifts.
Naked Capitalism
The Federal Job Guarantee Is Not Just “Better” Than a Universal Basic Income. It’s the Only Reasonable Option. Universal Basic Income Is Sinister.
Jeff Epstein, an independent and progressive journalist with Citizens’ Media TV
Originally published on Citizens’ Media TV

David Pilling — Rethinking Economic Growth: A Review Of “The Growth Delusion”

Conventional economics prioritizes "growth" measured chiefly by per capita real GDP, assuming that increasing per capita real GDP increases the standard of living of a society. However, per capita real GDP is not a metric of the standard of living since it does not include distribution. They becomes crucial as inequality of income and net worth increases. A small segment of the population can be getting better off, while most of the society either languishes or declines.

The typical argument based on conventional economic reasoning is that "growth" makes everyone better off by increasing national wealth regardless of distributional effects, because "a rising tide lifts all boats." 

This is called "trickle down." According to Margaret Thatcher, "there is no alternative" (TINA) for achieving growth other than trickle down.

The assumption of trickle-down is used to justify prioritizing capital as a factor of production, folding land into capital. Prioritizing capital over labor is assumed to increase capital formation, which is in turn assumed to be the most important factor in growth and growth rate flow.

Now the push is to include "human capital" in capital, assuming that labor power is determined by knowledge and skill, which is workers' "capital."
It is also imperative to seriously rethink the nature, composition, and distribution of economic growth in order to make growth, and its GDP measure, humane. Economic thinkers belonging to the “classical school” of economic thought believed that the question of distribution of surplus couldn’t be separated from production, as the contribution of different economic classes to social production was dictated by the prior distribution of endowments among them. To turn the focus back to ‘distribution’ we can draw inspiration and insights from the classical school.
The classical school culminated in the work of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Arguably it was continued by Thorstein Veblen and the institutional economics he inspired by continuing the exploration of the effect of class and class endowments. But for all practical purposes, the classical approach was sidelined by the rise of marginalism and the neoclassical approach based on it.

Raghunath Nageswaran

FBI interviewed Russian MMA fighter linked to Trump and Putin

New twist in the Mueller investigation; might finally be jumping the shark here...

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Caitlin Johnstone — Fuck you, actually.

I love a good rant. This is, in fact, a great one!
Hey, Sunday Times? How about fuck you, actually?
Fuck your brazen attempt to keep the British people from reclaiming what is being stolen from them by an increasingly corporatist neoliberal government. Fuck your shameless “information war” which places the agendas of plutocrats and intelligence agencies above truth and honest discourse. Fuck your relentless propaganda campaign which smears anyone who remembers the lies they were told about Vietnam, Iraq and Libya as a “useful idiot” and arbitrarily labels any discussion of the very real phenomenon of false flag attacks as a “Kremlin talking point”.
This is as fascinating as it is infuriating. By attacking literally anything which poses an obstacle to the loose alliance of western plutocrats and secretive government agencies, the social engineers who are fueling this Russia hysteria are actually closer than ever before to openly admitting that the west is truly ruled by those plutocrats and agencies.
They are now this close to saying “Russia is our enemy because it stands in opposition to the corporatist Orwellian oligarchy which is your real government.”...
Caitlin Johnstone | Rogue journalist. Bogan socialist. Anarcho-psychonaut. Guerilla poet. Utopia prepper.

Also from Caitlin Johnstone
So to recap, the leadership of the Democratic party is no longer attempting to hide the fact that it deliberately stacks its own primaries against progressive candidates, and yet still has the gall to act like they’re the smart adults in the room who know how to win general elections. These are the same people who think telling the public “screw primaries, you’ll vote how we say” is sheer strategic brilliance. The same people who lost over a thousand seats under Obama.
The leaders of the Democratic Party may be experts at defeating progressive primary challengers, but they don’t know how to win general elections. Winning general elections is not their concern. Last year we saw resort tycoon Stephen Cloobeck openly boast on national television that he had instructed Pelosi and other Dem leaders to espouse a pro-billionaire platform or else risk losing plutocratic funding, and this is exactly what we are seeing them do. The Democratic Party doesn’t care about winning elections, it cares about making sure the oligarchs who own it are able to continue ruling over the deliberately impoverished and politically impotent masses. That is its job. That is its function....
Pelosi: “I Don’t See Anything Inappropriate” In Rigging Primaries

PCR- Capitalism Works For Capitalists

I was very surprised about PCR's rant about capitalism, because it's as if nowadays its taboo to criticise it too much. We certainly don't want communism, but that doesn't meant to say we love capitalism all that much either, apart from the mom-and-pop small businesses. As Paul says, today's capitalism is non stop work 24/7, and now with machines going flat out 24 hours 365 days of the weak as well. This is the Protestant Work Ethic on steroids, all work with no rest or play.

Calvin's followers were puritans who led a simple life where displays of opulence were frowned upon. Calvin said that those who were saved were chosen by God before they were even born, so his followers asked him how do they know if they have been chosen, and he said, by how successful they were? So the Calvinists worked very hard and built up their businesses by plowing all their profits straight back in as they had no interest in being rich, and so modern capitalism had formed. Before that, people just earned what they needed to get by. It sounds great!

The modern way of life can destroy family life and friendships as people often spend so long at work. Mass immigration whacked up house prices meant that people ended up with huge mortgages just so they could get somewhere to live, and after that they become slaves to their work, petrified of losing their job. I guess we all want the new kitchens and bathrooms, the new car, and the expensive holidays, but is all the hours at work worth it, plus with the toll on our health?

Primitive life was certainly hard with its diseases and famines, and we definitely don't want to go back to that, but if your house ever burnt down everyone in your village would help you build a new one, and no one worried about losing their job, or getting their kids into the right schools so they don't get left behind in the rat race. People were were never lonely and were happier, but now one in ten people are on antidepressant drugs and many others take some kind of psychiatric medication, like sleeping pills and tranquillisers. It's big business for the pharmaceutical industry, the capitalist merry-go-round. 

PCR is the opposite of a neoliberal, he's socially slightly on the right, but economically slightly on the left.   KV


In a civilized country, such as Japan, the view enjoyed by an owner is part of his property rights, but not in barbaric America. A Gulf view is something that can be appropriated by an outside real estate speculator who puts up a four-story McMansion in front of a resident’s property. By blocking the view, the outside real estate speculator can transfer value that was in the resident’s property to his speculation.
Moreover, the activities of outside real estate speculators overdevelop the area and create congestion, which uses up residents time in travel and makes an evening out a traffic ordeal. Nothing is the same. Beach communities give up and die. They are replaced with commercial enterprises.
According to economic theory, which is essentially a cover for looting and theft, free markets bring resources to their most highly valued use. This is not science. It is an ideology. It only works if there are no external costs or, if there are, the costs are compensated to those on whom they are imposed.
But free market real estate speculation does not compensate any of the costs that it imposes on others. Indeed, a case could be made that the external costs of real estate speculation in south Walton county exceed the value of the speculations constructed. The value of the communities that are destroyed are not counted as an offset to the profits of the activities that destroyed the communities.
Not only have many existing properties lost their Gulf views and been devalued, not only have people lost time from their lives in traffic congestion, not only have people’s enjoyment of their properties been reduced by endless construction and party house noise, not only have people’s finances been impacted by massive increases in property taxes and wind insurance, reflecting the high values of the McMansion $20,000 weekly rentals and high density, not only are people impacted by the cost of sewage fees replacing their septic tanks and by the tax burden they must shoulder for widening the two-lane highways into four lanes in order to provide some semblance of hurricane evavuation for the overdeveloped areas of south Walton county, they are also impacted by experiencing the loss of their community. It is similar to losing one’s village or town to a wartime bombing attack. What you knew and was part of your life is gone.
Highway widening goes through the middle of many communities, essentially destroying them. A family that lived far back from the road now has traffic passing through the front yard.
All of these costs, and there are more, are imposed on existing peoples and communities by outside real estate speculators. The speculators do not, and never will, live in the communities that they destroy. They are only concerned with their profits, and these profits originate in the ability of the speculators to impose the costs of their projects on every one else.
Can you imagine the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, the Secretary of the US Treasury, the Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commision all testifying before Congress that markets are self-regulating? Their testimony was just prior to the collapse of unregulated financial markets requiring trillions of newly printed dollars by the Federal Reserve to “save the system.” In their testimony ignorance spawned by ideology spoke through the mouths of these high public officers.
If markets are self-regulating, how is it possible for capitalists to impose their costs on third parties who do not share in the profits, but who experience enormous costs? If markets are self-regulating, how is it possible for real estate speculators to destroy entire communities?
Capitalism is a system whose costs in many instances exceed its benefits. It is often the case that capitalist profits owe their existence to the ability of capitalism to impose its costs on others. If the full costs of development in south Walton county had to be borne by the developers, much of the development would not take place.

David Orrell — The Economics Debate: The Problem isn’t Bad Economics, It’s Bad Science

“The test of science is its ability to predict”— Richard Feynman
Is economics "cargo cult science" (Richard Feynman)?
Of course, as I point out in my forthcoming book Quantum Economics, economics should not be compared directly with weather forecasting. For one thing, the fact that economists’ predictions and models affect the economy (the financial crisis of 2008 for example was in part caused by faulty economic risk models) means that their responsibility is more like that of engineers or doctors. Instead of predicting exactly when the system will crash (no one has ever asked for a precise ‘date’), they should warn of risks, incorporate design features to help avoid failure, know how to address problems when they occur, and be alert for conflicts of interest and ethical violations. The profession’s failings in these areas, rather than any particular forecast, are the real reason so many are calling for a genuinely new paradigm in economics, as opposed to a rehashed version of the old one....
The Economics Debate: The Problem isn’t Bad Economics, It’s Bad ScienceDavid Orrell is an applied mathematician and author of popular science books. He studied mathematics at the University of Alberta, and obtained his doctorate from Oxford University on the prediction of nonlinear systems. His work in applied mathematics and complex systems research has since led him to diverse areas such as weather forecasting, economics, and cancer biology.

John Helmer — The Samson Haircut Option – One Step Before Russia Opens Fire on American, Israeli Forces

At the start of April President Vladimir Putin believed he could postpone Russia’s strategic and battlefield responses to the state of war which the US is escalating. He was to be disappointed.
On April 6, the US Treasury announced it is putting the state aluminium monopoly United Company Rusal out of business, not only in the US but worldwide. Not since July 26, 1941, when President Franklin Roosevelt froze Japanese assets in the US and prohibited all US trade with Japan, especially metals and oil, as well as all US dollar transactions, has the American state attempted such a thing against a rival Great Power. Roosevelt calculated it was one deterrent step short of US war with Japan. Everybody understands now that miscalculation led to Japan’s decision to make its preemptive strike against the US Navy at Pearl Harbor, five months later....
Economic warfare. Playing with fire?

This is a bit longish but worth the read. The Samson haircut is electronic warfare (EW) that takes out US communications in an area.

Dances with Bears

Craig Murray — Probable Western Responsibility for Skripal Poisoning [More]

Back then I did not realise what I now know, that the person being protected was Pablo Miller, colleague in both MI6 then Orbis Intelligence of Christopher Steele, author of the fabrications of the Trump/Russia golden shower dossier. That the government’s very first act on the poisoning was to ban all media mention of Pablo Miller makes it extremely probable that this whole incident is related to the Trump dossier and that Skripal had worked on it, as I immediately suspected. The most probable cause is that Skripal – who  ou should remember had traded the names of Russian agents to Britain for cash – had worked on the dossier with Miller but was threatening to expose its lies for cash....
Craig Murray Blog
Craig Murray, formerly British ambassador to Uzbekistan and Rector of the University of Dundee

See also
The response from the US, UK and France to a briefing on Thursday at the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in the Hague was perverse, to say the least. Russia had brought 17 witnesses from Douma who stated that there had been no chemical weapons attack there earlier this month – the pretext for an illegal air strike on Syria by the three western states.
The witnesses, a mix of victims and the doctors who treated them, told accounts that confirmed a report provided last week from Douma by British reporter Robert Fisk – a report, it should be noted, that has been almost entirely blanked by the western media. According to the testimony provided at the OPCW, the victims shown in a video from the site of the alleged attack were actually suffering from the effects of inhaling dust after a bombing raid, not gas.
The first strange thing to note is that the US, UK and France boycotted the meeting, denouncing Russia for producing the witnesses and calling the event an “obscene masquerade” and “theatre”. It suggests that this trio, behaving like the proverbial three monkeys, think the testimony will disappear if they simply ignore it. They have no interest in hearing from witnesses unless they confirm the western narrative used to justify the air strikes on Syria....
See also

More pieces added to the puzzle.

Moon of Alabama
The Silence Of The Skripals - Government Blocks Press Reports - Media Change The Record

Jonathan Cook Blog
The West Closes Its Ears to Douma Testimony
Jonathan Cook | British journalist, the only foreign correspondent based in Nazareth, Israel (2001-present), and recipient of the  Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism (2011)

The internet is full of photos and videos with the leaders of these nazi organisations posing with swastikas and other nazi symbols and openly declaring their nazi/rasist views and agenda and making the nazi salute! But the west does not want to see the evidence! Hundreds of torch-marches, book-burnings, attacks on churches and synagoges have been carried out by these nazis with the silent support of the illegal regime in Kiev, as well as attacks on, and murders of, journalists, politicians, priests, teachers and anyone suspected of being anti-nazi/anti-racist. But the west does not want to see this either.
Newspapers, TV and radio stations, even internet-sites and bloggers have been burnt, occupied or closed because they showed the truth about the nazis and the illegal regime - the Kiev nazi junta - but the west - that in other cases "fights for the right of free speech" (at least when it comes to Pussy Riot in Russia), does not want to see what happens in former Ukraine.
Nicholas Nicholaides, physician living in Sweden

See also
The term ‘media bias’ does not do justice to the western corporate media’s relationship with Israel and Palestine. The relationship is, indeed, far more profound than mere partiality. It is not ignorance, either. It is a calculated and long-term campaign, aimed at guarding Israel and demonizing Palestinians.
The current disgraceful coverage of Gaza’s popular protests indicates that the media’s position aims at suppressing the truth on Palestine, at any cost, and by any means....
Politics for the People
Media Cover-up: Shielding Israel is a Matter of Policy
Ramzy Baroud

See also
The White Helmets, otherwise known as the Syria Civil Defense, are often presented as an independent humanitarian NGO, but in reality it was founded by a former British intelligence officer, receives millions of dollars in funding from the US, UK, Qatar, Denmark and the Syrian opposition party and material support and training by many EU member nations.
The White Helmets were set up by ex ‘security’ specialist and former British military intelligence officer, James le Mesurier who played a key role in some of NATO’s most dubious interventions including Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine....
Professor Fadhel Kaboub, Associate Professor of economics and international studies at Denison University says there is a lot of evidence the White Helmets have staged and choreographed events that have been revealed and debunked by many experts including the UN.
Fadhel Kaboub is an MMT economist.

Who are the White Helmets?
Claire Connelly

See also

But narrative control is working.
US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley is America’s most popular politician according to a study by Quinnipiac University, CNN reported yesterday.
Neocon Bill Kristol, who "discovered" Sarah Palin, is pushing Haley for POTUS in 2020.

Zero Hedge
America's Most Popular Politician Is Nikki Haley...Let That Sink In
Tyler Durden

S&P 500 1Q

This is what an ass-kicking looks like... sheesh these guys killed it here:

More on share buybacks way up:


This GDP projection from the Atlanta Fed has come way down for the 1Q from when it was first published.  IIRC they were a bit above 4% while we just reported a 2.3%.

You can't end 4Q with a change in tax POLICY that forces a $40B (4%) markdown in capital at the depositories and still expect things to carry on iaw the 4Q growth trend sorry.

That tax bill simply was not well thought out... I hope this short term effect of the change in policy effecting $40B of certain financial asset values is all that is damaging about it...

We'll have to see how long it takes the depositories to recover from this; they seemed to have made progress towards recovery in 1Q and reported strong profit growth but effects may still linger here into the 2Q.

Oxfam report on the rich-poor divide


Real-World Economics Review Blog
Oxfam report on the rich-poor divide

Friday, April 27, 2018

John Carney — The Problem with the ‘Job Guarantee’ Is Not That It’s Too Expensive. It’s That the Left Hates Us

John Carney makes interesting points pro and con. Most of the cons are about politicization of the program since the JG as it is being presented and supported is clearly a Democratic program and "leftist" idea. He points out that this needn't be so. A value-neutral JG program can also be designed to appeal cross the political spectrum. JG supporters should listen to this.

A JG is really a populist program that favors people, and firms will oppose it. For, as Carney points out, employers depend on disciplining labor power to control the wage bill.

Breitbart News
Carney: The Problem with the ‘Job Guarantee’ Is Not That It’s Too Expensive. It’s That the Left Hates Us
John Carney

See also
It's complicated....
More pertinent questions.
None of this means we should reject a job guarantee out of hand.
Daily Beast — Opinion
Dems’ Job Guarantee Isn’t Nearly as Easy as It Sounds
Dean Baker | Co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C

Tyler Durden — Clapper Busted Leaking Dossier Details To CNN's Jake Tapper, Lying To Congress About It

Now both Comey and Clapper caught out for leading classified information of a political nature.

Zero Hedge
Clapper Busted Leaking Dossier Details To CNN's Jake Tapper, Lying To Congress About It
Tyler Durden

John Buell — Government debt and spending

Nice pr├ęcis of MMT.

Mount Desert Islander — Letters to the Editor
Government debt and spending
John Buell

Lars P. Syll — MMT — the Wicksell connection

Most mainstream economists seem to think the idea behind Modern Monetary Theory is something new that some wild heterodox economic cranks have come up with.
New? Cranks? How about reading one of the great founders of neoclassical economics — Knut Wicksell. This is what Wicksell wrote in 1898 on ‘pure credit systems’ in Interest and Prices (Geldzins und G├╝terpreise):
Lars P. Syll’s Blog
MMT — the Wicksell connection
Lars P. Syll | Professor, Malmo University

Thomas Piketty — Brahmin Left vs Merchant Right

Using post-electoral surveys from France, Britain and the US, this paper documents a striking long-run evolution in the structure of political cleavages. In the 1950s-1960s, the vote for left-wing (socialist-labour-democratic) parties was associated with lower education and lower income voters. It has gradually become associated with higher education voters, giving rise to a “multiple-elite” party system in the 2000s-2010s: high-education elites now vote for the “left”, while high- income/high-wealth elites still vote for the “right” (though less and less so). I argue that this can contribute to explain rising inequality and the lack of democratic response to it, as well as the rise of “populism”. I also discuss the origins of this evolution (rise of globalization/migration cleavage, and/or educational expansion per se) as well as future prospects: “multiple-elite” stabilization; complete realignment of the party system along a “globalists” (high-education, high-income) vs “nativists” (low- education, low-income) cleavage; return to class-based redistributive conflict (either from an internationalist or nativist perspective). Two main lessons emerge. First, with multi-dimensional inequality, multiple political equilibria and bifurcations can occur. Next, without a strong egalitarian-internationalist platform, it is difficult to unite low- education, low-income voters from all origins within the same party.
Brahmin Left vs Merchant Right: Rising Inequality & the Changing Structure of Political Conflict(Evidence from France, Britain and the US, 1948-2017)
Thomas Piketty March 2018

See also

Socialist analysis of Piketty's report.

Social inequality and oligarchy in the US and Europe
Eric London

See also

Strategic Culture Foundation
Democrats Scapegoat Russia for Historic Failure
Finian Cunningham

Gideon Resnick — How Guaranteeing Jobs Became the Hot New Policy Priority for 2020 Dems

Useful backgrounder, although short on MMT. Mentions Stephanie Kelton but that is about it. It does outline the history though, which is helpful in understanding that a job guarantee is not a new idea.

The Daily Beast
How Guaranteeing Jobs Became the Hot New Policy Priority for 2020 Dems
Gideon Resnick
ht Yves Smith at Naked Capitalism

Jonathan Turley — Report: Columbia Professor Used By Comey For Leak Was Actually A Special Government Employee With The FBI

We have been discussing the investigation by the Inspector General of the Justice Department into the leaking of FBI memos by former Director James Comey. I have previously explained why there are serious questions concerning Comey’s conduct. Now there is an interesting development after Fox News confirmed that the law professor used by Comey for his leak was in fact a “special government employee” (SGE) for Comey’s FBI. That status of Columbia Professor Daniel Richmanraised new concerns.
Richman, confirmed “I did indeed have SGE status with the Bureau (for no pay).”
However, that means that Comey not only removed FBI memos (including some classified memos) but he used a Justice Department employee to leak the material to the media. I have previously discussed my view that Comey had acted unprofessionally and possibly unlawfully. However, that misconduct is magnified if if used another DOJ employee to carry out the violation....
Jonathan Turley Blog
Report: Columbia Professor Used By Comey For Leak Was Actually A Special Government Employee With The FBI
Jonathan Turley | Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University

White Petroleum: A New War Is About To Start

It’s the modern gold rush. Around the world, the most sought-after mineral isn’t a precious metal, nor is it oil and gas…it’s lithium.
Lithium, or “white petroleum” as some call it, has become a crucial element in today’s high-tech economy.
Demand for lithium is soaring, and producers are frantically searching for new sources of supply. Prices have doubled in the last two years, rising as high as $16,500 per ton....
The fact that China is trying to corner the market has made the search for new deposits even more intense, as U.S. and European firms try to get around Chinese domination.
For the last five years, the commodities world has focused on the epic showdown between OPEC and U.S. shale drillers for oil market share. But it’s the war over “white petroleum” that will dominate the next decade....
A New Lithium War Is About To Begin
James Stafford

Dick Bryan — New type of poverty hurting middle class

The banking and finance royal commission has cast light on a new type of poverty to emerge in our society: middle class poverty.
To understand it, we have to go back to an earlier government inquiry: the 1972 Commission of Inquiry into Poverty, conducted by Professor Ronald Henderson. That commission had no real policy impact, but its cultural impact was profound. It gave prominence to the Henderson Poverty Index: a measure of consumption described by Henderson as so austere that it was unchallengeable. Updated versions of this index remain a standard benchmark of poverty.
But more than 45 years on, the royal commission into finance is revealing that poverty is no longer just about low income. The commission has heard that Australian banks have adopted actual lending practices (as distinct from their official lending policies) that claim so much household income for contract payments that borrowers are left without enough money to fund basic consumption levels: they are living in poverty....

Sunday Morning Herald
New type of poverty hurting middle class
Will Fischer | Senior Policy Analyst

Lessons from Nick Hanaeur and Dee Hock

Neil Wilson posted the following at Bill Mitchell’s today.
My point is that, under capitalism, if you can’t pay your costs from your income you go bust – which releases your market space for somebody who is either more productive, or more realistic in their pricing.
Cheap labour and a systemic lack of jobs encourages undercutting – the parasite businesses Nick Hanaeur speaks of.
“It is appealing to believe that the parasite economy will eventually correct itself. Or that a few high-road employers will set an example that will eliminate it. But trust me when I tell you: This is wishful thinking. I know because I am one of those employers. People, like me, when faced with brutal competitive dynamics, will not pay workers a living wage unless all of our competitors do the same. And the only way that will happen is if citizens like you require employers like us to do it. Until then, corporate America will continue to build its record profits on the backs of cheap labor.
From some reason my comment in response was rejected as looking like spam, so I am posting it here instead. I have also added to the original comment:

Nick Hanaeur is correct, but he doesn't go far enough. It's not just the wage bill, but everything that can contribute to profit, including the environment.


The essence of capitalism is captured in the name. Capitalism is about prioritizing capital as ownership over labor as people and land as the environment because it is assumed that capital formation leads to growth, which makes all better off from trickle down — "A rising tide lifts all boats."

Note that this is different from economic liberalism as laissez-faire," because it assumes that government should favor capital accumulation by preventing obstacles to it. This is the basis of neoliberalism.

The problem with capitalism is capital since ownership's goal is maximizing gain without considering consequences that don't directly affect owners in a relatively short period of time.

As Yanis Varoufakis recently wrote in a piece for the Guardian, "The problem with capitalism is that it is irrational."

Unbridled capitalism is irrational economically since it leads to inefficiency, being based on rent-seeking. It is also socially in damaging both people and the environment, when an economy is the material life-support system for a society and the global economy is the life-support system for the world. That makes capitalism dangerous to boot.

Neoliberalism as government controlled by capital and operated to favor capital is also antithetical to democracy defined as rule of, by and for the people

This dynamic unfolds inevitably unless the public acts collectively through government to set rules within which firms are required to operate that protect people and the environment and promote the common good and general welfare as public purpose.

The problem with capitalism lies in the design. The job guarantee is an ad hoc measure that corrects of the design deficiencies. But it is not an overhaul. 

The existing economic system needs even more that an overhaul. It needs to be redesigned to integrate and harmonize all factors with an eye to the ultimate purpose of the global economy as an integral part of the planetary life-support system.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Jeff Spross — How much would a job guarantee actually cost?

Now, I think modern monetary theory has this right.
The Week
How much would a job guarantee actually cost?
Jeff Spross

Reid Wilson — [Pew] Survey: Most say US not living up to its democratic ideals

The comprehensive survey by the Pew Research Center released Thursday found deep partisan divides over whether the country is achieving some of the values critical to maintaining democratic principles.
Suggests that populism is on the rise across the population asa whole regardless of the partisan divide and large cohort that self-identifies as independent. This in turn suggests different forms of populism.

The Hill
Survey: Most say US not living up to its democratic ideals
Reid Wilson

Bank Think — Postal banking is back on the table. Here's why that matters

The industry trade journal weighs in.

American Banker — Bank Think
Postal banking is back on the table. Here's why that matters
Kevin Wack

See also

Postal savings system


Tom Peck - Theresa May struggles to answer when confronted live on TV about nurses going to foodbanks

Britain is one of the richest countries in the world, but Therese May says we've run out of money.  Hey, Theresa, your friends have stashed £trillions of our money over at the Caimans, but we have to tighten our belts here yet again because neoliberalism and Tory capitalism are so pathetic that the Britain is broke again! Why do the public fall for it, after 40 years of the Thatcher miracle and we are more broke than ever? Thatherism doesn't work, Theresa, and your economic system is a load of rubbish! Time to scarp it and start again. But now doubt your neoliberal media friends will do their tricks and stunts for you again to fool the British public yet again.  
Theresa May has said there are "many complex reasons" why nurses are using food banks.
Pressed by the BBC’s Andrew Marr, in highly awkward exchanges, the Prime Minister was asked if she agree it was "surely wrong" that nurses are using food banks, as recent reports show.
Theresa May replied: "There are many complex reasons why people go to food banks and I want to create an economy where we have a strong economy where we pay for public services that we need but we are also creating secure jobs."
Marr said: "The problem people have is that they haven’t got enough money to eat at the moment."
The Prime Minister said: "Yes, and you’re only going to be able to do this if you have strength in the economy."
The Independent 

Ali Wyne — What role will the United States play in the world?

For starters, there is an increasingly marked disconnect between the issues that concern most Americans on a day-to-day basis and the way in which the foreign policy establishment discusses America’s role in the world. Washington Post national security correspondent Greg Jaffe remarked in mid-2017 that “sustaining the US-led, rules-based international order [is] an exhortation that, at best, [is] meaningless to most Americans. At worst, it smack[s] of soulless globalism.”…
Americans have yet to turn isolationist; last April the Chicago Council on Global Affairs noted that, even in the Trump era, “a majority Americans of all political stripes said that the United States should maintain an active part in world affairs.” But Mr. Trump’s election demonstrates that policymakers cannot take that proportion for granted: if they do not accord greater priority to domestic renewal and assuage wide-ranging public anxieties over the impact of globalization, the postwar order’s erstwhile anchor may feel domestic pressure to abdicate its role.
World Economic Forum
What role will the United States play in the world?
Ali Wyne | Contributing Analyst, Wkikstrat

Alex Gray — China is adding a London-sized electric bus fleet every five weeks

Every five weeks, 9,500 brand new electric buses take to the roads in China.
That’s the equivalent of the entire London bus fleet, says a new report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
The world has around 3 million buses. Most run on diesel and compressed natural gas. The global fleet of electric buses now totals around 385,000 vehicles - and 99% of those are in China.

World Economic Forum
China is adding a London-sized electric bus fleet every five weeks
Alex Gray

Pepe Escobar — Why Europe is afraid of the New Silk Roads

The BRI, for Beijing, is all about geopolitical but most of all geo-economic projection – including the promotion of new global standards and norms that may not be exactly those practiced by the EU. And that brings us to the heart of the matter, not enounced by the leaked internal report; the intersection between BRI and Made in China: 2025.
Beijing is aiming to become a global high-tech leader in less than seven years. Made in China: 2025 identified 10 sectors – including AI, robotics, aerospace, green cars and shipping and shipbuilding – as priorities.

Western global preeminence is threatened economically.
As Bauer CEO Thomas Bauer told Reuters: “(Rivalry with China) will not be a contest against copiers. It will be one against innovative engineers.”
The obvious problem that Western countries face against China is the difference in population. There are going to be a lot more highly qualified Chinese engineers.

Asia Times
Why Europe is afraid of the New Silk Roads
Pepe Escobar

Philip Giraldi — How False Flag Operations Are Carried Out Today

False Flag is a concept that goes back centuries. It was considered to be a legitimate ploy by the Greeks and Romans, where a military force would pretend to be friendly to get close to an enemy before dropping the pretense and raising its banners to reveal its own affiliation just before launching an attack. In the sea battles of the eighteenth century among Spain, France and Britain hoisting an enemy flag instead of one’s own to confuse the opponent was considered to be a legitimate ruse de guerre, but it was only “honorable” if one reverted to one’s own flag before engaging in combat.
Today’s false flag operations are generally carried out by intelligence agencies and non-government actors including terrorist groups, but they are only considered successful if the true attribution of an action remains secret. There is nothing honorable about them as their intention is to blame an innocent party for something that it did not do. There has been a lot of such activity lately and it was interesting to learn by way of a leak that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has developed a capability to mimic the internet fingerprints of other foreign intelligence services. That means that when the media is trumpeting news reports that the Russians or Chinese hacked into U.S. government websites or the sites of major corporations, it could actually have been the CIA carrying out the intrusion and making it look like it originated in Moscow or Beijing. Given that capability, there has been considerable speculation in the alternative media that it was actually the CIA that interfered in the 2016 national elections in the United States....
Strategic Culture Foundation
How False Flag Operations Are Carried Out Today
Philip Giraldi, former CIA counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer, now Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest and founding member of the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity

Graham E. Fuller — Syria: bottom line questions

What sense can we make out of all these strategic events in Syria? We encounter a baffling array of players: Syrian troops, Syrian insurgents, jihadis of varying ideologies, Iranians, Russians, Americans, Israelis, Turks, Saudis, Qataris, Emiratis, Shi’ite militias, Iraqis, Kurds, Hizballah—all locked in a deadly dance. But as complex as it may be, this seven-year bloody conflict still continues to pose the very same long-term fundamental questions to US policy in Syria and the region. These questions demand an answer....
Graham E. Fuller
Syria: bottom line questions
Graham E. Fuller | adjunct professor of history at Simon Fraser University, formerly vice chairman of the National Intelligence Council at the CIA, and a former senior political scientist at RAND