Thursday, October 31, 2019

RT — Weapons of mass construction? US sanctions Iran’s ‘terrorist-controlled’ building sector & ominous ‘strategic materials’ supply

The US has slapped new sanctions on Iran’s construction industry, targeting a number of “strategic” materials – like steel tubes and foil – and making sure the MSM amplify their vague hints of nuclear weapons and terrorism links....
Is this further eroding US soft power by coming across internationally as bullying?

Weapons of mass construction? US sanctions Iran’s ‘terrorist-controlled’ building sector & ominous ‘strategic materials’ supply

Trump Loses More than Just the Battle Over Nordstream 2 — Tom Luongo

"This is one of the biggest stories of the decade." — Pepe Escobar at FB.

Gold, Goats 'N Guns
Trump Loses More than Just the Battle Over Nordstream 2
Tom Luongo

Caitlin Johnstone — Things Are Only Going To Get Weirder

I often hear people in my line of work saying “Man, we’re going to look back on all this crazy shit and think about how absolutely weird it was! 
No we won’t. Because it’s only going to get weirder.
It’s only going to get weirder, because that’s what it looks like when old patterns start to fall away.
The human mind is conditioned to look for patterns in order to establish a baseline of normal expectations upon which to plan out future actions. This perceptual framework exists to give us safety and security, so disruptions in the patterns upon which it is based often feel weird, threatening, and scary. They make us feel insecure, because our cognitive tool for staying in control of our wellbeing has a glitch in it.
When you’re talking about a species that has been consistently patterned towards its own destruction, though, a disruption of patterns is a good thing....
Caitlin Johnstone — Rogue Journalist
Things Are Only Going To Get Weirder
Caitlin Johnstone

Robert Hockett — The Green New Deal: How We Will Pay For It Isn't 'A Thing' - And Inflation Isn't Either

Sputnik — Bolivian Presidential Candidate Refuses to Accept Legitimacy of Election Audit by OAS

Carlos Mesa, the opposition candidate in the recent Bolivian presidential election, announced on Wednesday that he would not recognize the legitimacy of the upcoming audit of the election results by the Organization of American States....
Venezuela scenario unfolding?

Sputnik International
Bolivian Presidential Candidate Refuses to Accept Legitimacy of Election Audit by OAS

Sputnik — Huawei Sets Record Share of China’s Smartphone Market Beating Apple

Huawei’s smartphone shipments surged 66% year-on-year in the third quarter, according to research published Wednesday by research firm Canalys, capturing a record 42% of China’s overall smartphone market....
Sputnik International
Huawei Sets Record Share of China’s Smartphone Market Beating Apple

Sputnik — 5G Posing New Challenges, Advantages to Global Telcos as 4th Industrial Revolution Takes Hold - CEO

The push for 5G technologies requires a visionary approach as the industry rapidly evolves, causing telecoms to face disruptions to their established biases on how best to apply the budding technology....

Sputnik — Head of US Think Tank Warns: 'Club of Very Powerful Countries' is Moving Away From Dollar Use

There is a continually growing "club of very powerful countries" in the world, which have a strong "motivation to de-dollarize" their trade, co-director at the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, Anne Korin warned in her interview with CNBC channel. She added that among the members of this "club" are "major movers" such as China, Russia and the European Union.
The pundit explained that the shift was caused by certain practices, adopted by the US government in recent years. Namely, Washington started to actively use extraterritorial jurisdiction, prosecuting and sanctioning countries and companies that have "nothing to do with the US" under American laws. This happened due to the US extending its laws to entities, which either transfer their money through US banks or use its greenbacks.…
Sputnik International

GREG ROSALSKY - Is the American Tax System Regressive?

One of the more provocative claims in the book is that the American tax system, taken as a whole, and including state and local taxes, is not progressive, meaning it does not tax the rich more than the middle class or working poor. Instead, they write in their book, when you include the totality of taxes, "The US tax system is a giant flat tax—except at the top, where it's regressive." That is, the rich now pay a smaller tax rate on their income than everyone else.

Planet Money

GREG ROSALSKY - Is the American Tax System Regressive?


Morons still in full control... Nothing has changed... N-O-T-H-I--N-G....


A retired U.S. general has warned that President Donald Trump's foreign policy in Syria is drifting dangerously close to piracy, following confirmation that American soldiers will be deployed to secure valuable oil fields in the east of the country and protect them from the Islamic State group.
Retired General Barry McCaffrey condemned the plans on Sunday, following Trump's suggestion he wants to bring in Exxon Mobil or another U.S. oil company "to go in there and do it properly...and spread out the wealth" from the oil fields.



Wednesday, October 30, 2019

South America, Again, Leads Fight Against Neoliberalism — Pepe Escober

Across the West, usual suspects have been trying to impose the narrative that protests from Barcelona to Santiago have been inspired by Hong Kong. That’s nonsense. Hong Kong is a complex, very specific situation, which I have analyzed, for instance, here, mixing anger against political non-representation with a ghostly image of China.
Each of the outbursts – Catalonia, Lebanon, Iraq, the Gilets Jaunes/Yellow Vests for nearly a year now – are due to very specific reasons. Lebanese and Iraqis are not specifically targeting neoliberalism, but they do target a crucial subplot: political corruption.
South America, Again, Leads Fight Against Neoliberalism
Pepe Escober

Bill Mitchell — US economy continues to grow, albeit at a slower pace—

The US Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released the – Gross Domestic Product, Third Quarter 2019 (Advance Estimate) – data yesterday (October 30, 2019). It shows that the US economy “increased at an annual rate of 1.9 percent in the third quarter of 2019” which was slightly slow than the 2 per cent recorded in the June quarter. As this is only the “Advance estimate” (based on incomplete data) there is every likelihood that the figure will be revised when the “second estimate” is published on November 27, 2019. Underlying the headline figure, however, are shifting expenditure patterns in the US. Household consumption growth is declining and the contribution to growth was down from 3.03 points in une 2019 to 1.93 points. The personal saving rate rose from 8 per cent of disposable income to 8.1 per cent as households tightened up in the face of record levels of debt and sluggish wages growth. Total investment continued to be a negative drain on growth (-0.27 points compared to -1.16 points. Net exports also subtracted from growth (0.08 points compared to 0.68 points in the June-quarter). The increase in disposable personal income was lower (4.5 per cent) than in the June-quarter (4.8 per cent), although in real terms, the growth was 2.9 per cent compared to 2.4 per cent. Overall, and notwithstanding the continued growth, the question for the US growth prospects centre on what will happen to consumption expenditure growth. How much more will it decline and the saving rate rise?
Bill Mitchell – billy blog
US economy continues to grow, albeit at a slower pace
Bill Mitchell | Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), at University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia

Andrea Terzi — Euro area financial balances send a warning signal

Professor Andrea Terzi is an MMT economist. Here are some observations on the EZ. The second link contains a link to a recent paper of his, "A critical analysis of public debt under a non-convertible currency standard: Implications for the euro area"

Money And The Real Economy
Euro area financial balances send a warning signal

The euro area has a unique opportunity
Andrea Terzi, Professor of Economics, Franklin College, Switzerland

Melissa Leon - Jeffrey Epstein's autopsy more consistent with homicidal strangulation than suicide, Dr. Michael Baden reveals

Dr Micheal Baden hasn't finished his research yet, there's more to come, he says. 

The body of disgraced money man and sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, who was found dead in his Manhattan federal prison cell in August, bore telltale signs of homicide despite an official ruling that he killed himself, a pioneering forensic pathologist revealed to “Fox & Friends” in an exclusive interview Wednesday.

Fox News

Melissa Leon - Jeffrey Epstein's autopsy more consistent with homicidal strangulation than suicide, Dr. Michael Baden reveals

DW (Deutsche Welle) — Modern Monetary Theory: Endless debt with no consequences?

Unfortunately, there is widespread confusion over MMT as MMT economists have developed it and the way that others describe it. This article makes an attempt but fails to disentangle the knot of conflation, but at least it is an attempt at balance rather than the usual rant.

DW (Deutsche Welle)
Modern Monetary Theory: Endless debt with no consequences?

Will Japan's consumption tax hike fix its fiscal woes? — Masahiko Takeda UPDATED

Influential pundits have argued that under the current situation there is no need for the government to worry about fiscal sustainability. They have found support in the proponents of so-called modern monetary theory, who have cited Japan as real-world proof of their heterodox doctrine. Even some mainstream economists, including Olivier Blanchard, have advocated for fiscal activism in Japan and argued against the consumption tax hike. An important basis of their argument is the absence of inflation and the resulting very low interest rates. Still, most mainstream academic economists in Japan are undaunted, sticking to their guns of prudent fiscal management.
Unfortunately, discussions of sustainability, including fiscal sustainability, are intrinsically vague because they involve the future. Since the ability to forecast economic conditions over the medium to long term is woefully weak, it is impossible to settle the debate one way or the other. Without taking sides, however, there remain proposals which should receive no objections from both sides....
East Asia Forum
Will Japan's consumption tax hike fix its fiscal woes?
Masahiko Takeda | Professor of Economics (retired) at the School of International and Public Policy, Hitotsubashi University, Tokyo

Brian comments:

Bond Economics
Quick Comment On Takeda Article
Brian Romanchuk

Digital Journal — Real Progressives Announces Launch of New Venture

Real Progressives announced today the creation of a new nonprofit corporation to help match activists and progressive causes with policymakers, media outlets and academic experts to help create an actionable policy from a sound financial framework.

Real Progressives launches this unprecedented effort with a mission to facilitate dialog and workgroups to assist academics within the Modern Monetary Theory discipline to fundamentally address the ubiquitous question of how progressive policy can be paid for within a sovereign fiat currency system.

We have all seen the pushback from members of Congress and pundits who insist that programs like Medicare for All, the Federal Jobs Guarantee and the Green New Deal are, ‘too expensive.’ They ask, ‘how do we pay for it?’” said Steve Grumbine, Chief Executive Officer of Real Progressives.

“The truth is, we cannot afford to do nothing or undertake half measures,” he said. “Through this venture, we provide a platform for dissemination of honest macroeconomic study with global experts collaborating with activists and groups pushing for a true caring economy that works for everyone.”…
Digital Journal
Real Progressives Announces Launch of New Venture
Press Release

See also

Real Progressives In Action

Bill Mitchell — Leopards do not change their spots

Only a short blog post today as it is Wednesday. My father, in fact, used to say that ‘leopards do not change their spots’, when referring to people who in one period behaved one way and then when sprung would pretend they were reformed. I was thinking about that when I noted that the queue to the magical reinvention door is getting longer by the day. This is the process, whereby a person, who previously advocated neoliberal macroeconomic policy interventions from the sidelines (as an academic economist or media commentator) and/or executed them from a position of power (say, as a Treasurer or Minister of Finance), starts attacking present day governments, who inherited their own fiscal surplus obsessions, and are, like they did themselves, driving their economies into the ground as a result of the same obsessions. Who is in the spotlight today? None other than the former Australian Treasurer, Paul Keating who was reported in the press this morning (October 30, 2019) – Paul Keating slams Liberal party ‘surplus virus’ (paywall) – as being critical of the current government for keeping the “Australian economy ‘idling at the lights'” as a result of “running Australia’s budget like a ‘corner shop'”. He urged the government to stimulate the economy with fiscal policy. Now before we get too excited, and this applies to all the goons who come out claiming they wanted fiscal stimulus all along, these characters typically blow their cover and reveal their true DNA when they reflect on their own track records on the subject. But it is an interesting, if not amusing, pastime watching these characters try to revise their CVs to look like they ‘knew it all along’ as they try desperately to retain relevance and get on the right side of history. We are not that stupid though.…
Bill Mitchell – billy blog
Leopards do not change their spots
Bill Mitchell | Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), at University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia

Charles White - Government ministers ‘congratulated themselves’ for cutting fire regulations

Conservative ministers were proud of slashing fire regulations, just months ahead of the Grenfell Tower block blaze.

Regulations are bad! Dereg, dereg, and dereg, then businesses thrive and all boats rise, then everyone is happier.


In February this year, ministers posted on a government website details of their ‘anti-red tape’ agenda on new-build properties.
In a separate report fire safety inspections, the Conservatives said, had been reduced for some companies from six hours to just 45 minutes.
The move, titled Cutting Red Tape, was part of the Tory plans to abolish a ‘health and safety’ culture that they claimed was hurting money-making businesses.


Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Links — 29 Oct 2019

Caitlin Johnstone — Rogue Journalist
The USA’s History Of Controlling The OPCW To Promote Regime Change
Caitlin Johnstone

Mint Press News
Media Silent as Nobel Prize Winning OPCW Found “Fixing” its Own Findings on Syria

Chilean Protests: A Revolt against Neoliberalism the Media Refuses to Acknowledge
Alan MacLeod

Sputnik International
Lebanese PM Hariri Announces Resignation Amid Protests in Beirut

How to Rethink Capitalism — Simon Johnson

The 2008 financial crisis, together with failed efforts to combat climate change and sharply rising inequality, has frayed the neoliberal consensus that has prevailed in the United States and much of the West for more than two generations. Three issues must be considered in weighing what comes next....
Project Syndicate
How to Rethink Capitalism
Simon Johnson

Trump says, 'we're going to keep the oil'

We come as liberators

Natural Resource Liberation Inc

Gordon Duff - Exclusive: Russia says Bagdadi killing faked by US, part of new move against the region by Deep State (updating)

Gordon Duff once said that 40% of what he writes is untrue, which he does, he says, to keep himself aive. He said you have to read between the lines.

Still, much of this article seems plausible to me, and is an interesting look at geopolitics. The World is a dangerous place.

Gordon Duff says how Russia is piling arms into India and this scares China which then buys more arms from Russia.

Exclusive: Russia says Bagdadi killing faked by US, part of new move against the region by Deep State (updating) 

The AltWorld

Gordon Duff - Exclusive: Russia says Bagdadi killing faked by US, part of new move against the region by Deep State (updating)ating

Geirge Galloway Tweet - Labour Betrayal - Brexit

Remember you read it here. @UKLabour move to give millions of foreign nationals the right to vote in #generalelection2019 will haunt them for decades to come. It will be weaponised by the right as a betrayal of Britain and its sovereignty. Mark my words #Brexit

Every Black Hole Contains Another Universe – Equations Predict

Our universe could be creating multiple new universes with different space times, and those new universes will be creating even more universes, so the maths tells us. 

Like part of a cosmic Russian doll, our universe may be perfectly nested inside a black hole that is itself part of a larger universe. In turn, all the black holes found so far in our universe—from the microscopic to the supermassive—may be ultimate doorways into alternate realities.


Every Black Hole Contains Another Universe – Equations Predict

Maybe You Really Can Use Black Holes to Travel the Universe

Black holes are perhaps the most mysterious objects in the universe. They are the consequence of gravity crushing a dying star without limit, leading to the formation of a true singularity – which happens when an entire star gets compressed down to a single point yielding an object with infinite density. This dense and hot singularity punches a hole in the fabric of spacetime itself, possibly opening up an opportunity for hyperspace travel. That is, a short cut through spacetime allowing for travel over cosmic scale distances in a short period.

Discover Magazine 

Matt Kennard - The Racket

It's really good!

Matt Kennard reviews how the Western press reports the actions of ‘The Racket’ ­ the multinational corporations ­ and their role in shaping the global media agenda.

Mankiw quits GOP

Good riddance to this Monetarist moron...

Ben Norton - Grayzone Editor Max Blumenthal Arrested Months After Reporting on Venezuelan Opposition Violence

Blumenthal has been arrested on false charges after reporting on Venezuelan opposition violence outside the D.C. embassy. He describes the manufactured case as part of a wider campaign of political persecution, reports Ben Norton.

The free West! 

Max Blumenthal, the editor of the news site The Grayzone, was arrested on the morning of Oct. 25 on a fabricated charge related to the siege of the Venezuelan embassy in Washington, D.C., that took place between April and May.

Blumenthal was hauled into a police van and ultimately taken to D.C. central jail, where he was held for two days in various cells and cages. He was shackled by his hands and ankles for over five hours in one such cage along with other inmates. His request for a phone call was denied by D.C. police and corrections officers, effectively denying him access to the outside world.

Consortium News

Ben Norton - Grayzone Editor Max Blumenthal Arrested Months After Reporting on Venezuelan Opposition Violence

Monday, October 28, 2019

Bill Mitchell — What is the problem with rising dependency ratios in Japan – Part 2?

This is Part 2 of my blog posts on population shifts in Japan. In – What is the problem with rising dependency ratios in Japan – Part 1? (October 28, 2019) – we considered the evolution of dependency ratios in Japan as a precursor to considering the nature of problems that accompany a rising dependency ratio. The purpose is to disabuse the public debate of the idea that rising dependency ratios constitute a fiscal crisis and point to the increasing prospect of fiscal insolvency. That erroneous assertion has been used as one of the justifications for pursuing austerity policies, which damage growth, cause rising unemployment and generally miss the point. The problem with this construction is that the solution adopted by the ‘sound finance’ lobby (austerity) to their ‘non problem’ only serves to exacerbate the real problem. Today, we will consider the productivity challenge that lies at the heart of the issues a nation with a rising dependency ratio will face.
Bill Mitchell – billy blog
What is the problem with rising dependency ratios in Japan – Part 2?
Bill Mitchell | Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), at University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia

Links — 28 Oct 2019

The Unz Review
Trump Flip-Flops on Syria Withdrawal. Again
Ron Paul
Zero Hedge
Here's Why Trump's "Secure Syria's Oil" Plan Will Prove Practically Impossible
"Ehsani" — a Middle East expert, Syrian-American banker and financial analyst who visits the region frequently and writes for the influential geopolitical analysis blog, Syria Comment

Sputnik International
Need for Crude? US Troops Return From Iraq, Will Be Stationed at Syria's Oil Fields

Checkpoint Asia
[US DefSec] Esper Threatens “Overwhelming Military Force” Against Syrians, Russians If They Make a Move for Syria’s Oil Fields
Marko Marjanović

Syrian oil: US troops being deployed will strike at ANY force challenging occupation – SecDef

Sputnik International
US Forces to Remain in Syria to Fight Daesh, Protect Oil Fields - Esper

What Does the U.S. Public Think of Its Government Arming and Bombing the World?
David Swanson

Sic Semper Tyrannis
"Artists versus Bureaucrats" republished 28 October 2019
Col. W. Patrick Lang, US Army (ret.)

Caitlin Johnstone — Rogue Journalist
OPCW Losing Credibility As Even More Revelations Surface On Douma
Caitlin Johnstone 

Sputnik International
Iran’s President Reveals Global Force Which Can Neutralize US Dollar

Sputnik International
Daesh Leader’s ‘Odd’ Location in Al-Qaeda-Controlled Idlib Raises Questions on Trump’s Narrative

Sputnik International
Ex-Saddam Hussein Officer Becomes New Daesh Leader – Reports

Sputnik International
Poll: 70% of US Millennials Say They Would Vote For Socialist Candidate

Caliph closure: ‘He died like a dog’ — Pepe Escobar


The Vineyard of the Saker
Caliph closure: ‘He died like a dog’
Pepe Escobar

Modern Monetary Theory: A Primer — TD Bank Financial Group

The perception of MMT is getting better, but it still has quite a way to go to get it right. The bright side is that some presentations are not just dismissive, but rather attempt to understand MMT and its usefulness in policy. This is one of the latter.

Action Forex
TD Bank Financial Group

See also
With the global economy experiencing a synchronized slowdown, any number of tail risks could bring on an outright recession. When that happens, policymakers will almost certainly pursue some form of central-bank-financed stimulus, regardless of whether the situation calls for it.
Project Syndicate
The Allure and Limits of Monetized Fiscal Deficits
Nouriel Roubini | Professor of Economics at New York University's Stern School of Business, CEO of Roubini Macro Associates, and formerly Senior Economist for International Affairs in the White House’s Council of Economic Advisers during the Clinton Administration

RAY McGOVERN: Thanks to a Soviet Navy Captain — We Survived 1962

Captain Vasili Alexandrovich Arkhipov spared humanity from extinction on what has been called “the most dangerous moment in human history.”

Just think, none of us would have been here today if it wasn't for one man.

When I was 17 years old I was exploring all the local pubs and clubs having the time of my life without a care in the world, when it all could have been so different.

Communications links with naval headquarters were down, and Arkhipov’s colleagues were convinced WWIII had already begun. After hours of battering by depth charges from U.S. warships, the captain of B-59, Valentin Grigorievich Savitsky, screamed, “We’re going to blast them now! We will die, but we will sink them all — we will not disgrace our Navy!”  But Captain Arkipov’s permission was also required.  He countermanded Savitsky and B-59 came to the surface.

Consortium News

RAY McGOVERN: Thanks to a Soviet Navy Captain — We Survived 1962

Ali Abunimah - Norway’s capital says it won’t buy Israeli settlement goods

Five other Norwegian cities have done the same and Dublin in Ireland too, while the rest of the Irish Republic may soon follow if a bill is successful.

Norway’s capital is banning goods and services from Israeli settlements from public contracts.
The ban on purchases from Israel’s colonies on occupied Palestinian land is contained in the platform of the Oslo city council’s new ruling coalition.
In their 2019-2023 plan, the Socialist Left, Green and Labor parties commit to ensuring that public procurement does not include “goods and services produced on territory occupied in violation of international law by companies operating under the permission of the occupying power.”
The Electronic Intifada

Nafeez Ahmed - State Propaganda in Syria

Nafeez Ahmed looks into what's happening in Syria.

Matt Kennard and Mark Curtis are left-wing, pro Jeremy Corbyn journalists who I greatly respect. They are both very critical of the anti-war left who support Asssad.

Matt Kennard Tweet:

Syria is one of most heavily propagandised conflicts of all time, on both sides. It's near impossible to work out what is going on. The best thing I've read which tries forge a pathway between the competing narratives is by @NafeezAhmed. Read it here

Nafeez Ahmed excerpt from his 146 page book:

On the one hand, critics of Western interventionism in Syria are equated with being deniers of
Assad’s war crimes; on the other, critics of Assad’s war crimes are accused of promoting Western
war and regime change in Syria. The results are palpable. On Syria, parts of the antiwar left
increasingly either deny Russian and Syrian military violence, or justify it; while critics of Assad
increasingly find themselves siding with reactionary Western military responses. But to what
extent are these positions factually and morally tenable?
To answer this question and overcome this impasse, we need a different approach, one that
cultivates collective intelligence. In this investigation, INSURGE intelligence draws on a number of
applied investigative processes to sift through the available data to determine, how can someone
outside of Syria make sense of what is happening?7
 We adopt a holistic approach by navigating
multiple perspectives across the conflict to derive, to the degree possible, validated facts. We
critically interrogate anti-Assad and pro-Assad narratives from a range of journalistic sources to
determine the degree to which they can be verified. We adopt a systemic approach by examining
narratives from a variety of reporting beats – foreign affairs, national security, science, business
and economics, energy and geopolitics: allowing us to begin developing a more integrated vision
of contentious issues: chemical warfare attacks; violence against civilians; the motives of warring
parties; and so on. We ground these approaches in a logic system that helps us, throughout our
analysis, to separate out real insights about the conflict from unfounded assumptions rooted in
questionable bias.
My understanding of the conflict has evolved in many ways as a result of this investigation. Some
of my conclusions were unexpected; in particular, I have learned that the prism through which
I understood the conflict was not only Eurocentric, but over-simplistic and lacking in nuance.
The moral lesson brought home to me is the paramount need for humility and self-reflection in
journalism. Our most unequivocal finding is that no government is telling the full truth about the
war in Syria. Not just a civil war, nor even just a proxy war, Syria is a propaganda war being fought
for competing geopolitical interests. The end-result of this tug of war between pro-interventionist
and anti-interventionist narratives has been the victory of neither, and the entrenchment of
horrendous violence from which the Syrian people on both sides, whether pro- or anti-Assad,
have suffered immeasurably.
As this propaganda escalates, principled journalism has become degraded while observers find
it increasingly difficult to sort fact from fiction. Thus, eclipsed from an increasingly degenerate
public discourse is the reality that both the West and Russia are in the midst of an inter-imperialist
war, of which the Syrian people are victims, and in which their genuine democratic aspirations
are deliberately destroyed.

7 Nafeez Ahmed, ‘Only “collective intelligence” can help us stave off an uninhabitable planet’,

Eric Zuesse - Tulsi Gabbard’s ‘Hail-Mary Pass’ Against Hillary Clinton Failed?

An interesting article by Eric Zuesse. Bernie is getting better all the tume too.

Apparently, Gabbard’s strategy now is to continue to present to voters, both in the Democratic and in the Republican Parties as well as to independents, her vision of the type of country that America ought to be (not the type of country — for example — that invaded Iraq on the basis of lies in 2003); and, if she becomes rejected by her own Democratic Party, then, at that time, she might be able, with her now-established name-recognition and clearly articulated policy-views, to become the Green Party’s 2020 candidate and to present an appeal designed in order to draw enough independents, plus both Democrats and Republicans who have come to reject their former Parties, so as to stand a realistic chance of winning in 2020, in essentially the same way that Abraham Lincoln did in 1860, when the Republican Party replaced the previous Whig Party.

If the Democratic Party nominates Bernie Sanders, then she wouldn’t do that, but, otherwise, she might.

Global Research

Eric Zuesse - Tulsi Gabbard’s ‘Hail-Mary Pass’ Against Hillary Clinton Failed?

Congressional Research Service — Deficit Financing, the Debt, and “Modern Monetary Theory” — Grant A. Driessen and Jane G. Gravelle

Explaining persistently low interest rates despite large deficits and rising debt has been one of the central challenges of macroeconomists since the end of the Great Recession. This dynamic has led to increasing attention to Modern Monetary Theory (MMT), presented as an alternative to the mainstream macroeconomic way of thinking, in some fiscal policy discussions. Such discussions are at times restricted by a difficulty, expressed by policymakers and economists alike, in understanding MMT’s core principles and how they inform MMT’s views on fiscal policy. MMT suggests that deficit financing can be used without harmful economic effects in circumstances of low inflation rates and low interest rates, conditions that currently exist despite indications that the country is at full employment.
This report surveys the available MMT literature in order to provide a basic understanding of the differences (or lack thereof) between the defining relationships established in MMT and mainstream economics. It then explores how such distinctions may inform policy prescriptions for addressing short- and long-run economic issues, including approaches to federal deficit outcomes and debt management. Included in this analysis are observations of how policy recommendations from MMT and mainstream economics align with current U.S. economic and governance systems.
In mainstream macroeconomic models, the asset market is characterized by the sensitivity of investment to interest rates, a determinant of investment returns. Money is typically defined as cash and close substitutes, and used for transactions and held as an asset. In the short run, the capital stock (equipment and other factors of production outside of labor) is assumed to be fixed, and output is dictated by the employment level. Fiscal and monetary policy decisions can be used to expand or contract the short-run economy (with distinct effects for each), and those decisions help to inform growth, the stock of capital and labor, and other decisions in the long run. In general, expansionary fiscal policies, including stimulus policies and other programs that increase net deficits and debt, are thought to be helpful when addressing negative shocks in demand, but they may crowd out private investment and reduce long-term growth if used when the economy is otherwise in balance. Persistent increases in real debt (which occurs when the stock of debt grows more quickly than the economy) are viewed as unsustainable, as they would eventually lead to a lack of real resources to borrow against.
Though some MMT adherents have disputed the notion that the model can be viewed through the basic macroeconomic framework, efforts to do so reveal a few key distinctions. In the MMT model of short-run behavior, investment decisions are insensitive to interest rates, and are instead a function of current consumption levels. MMT holds a much broader view of money, asserting that monetary value can be created by financial institutions in a way that renders monetary policy ineffective in dealing with short-run economic fluctuations. MMT supporters therefore prefer a larger fiscal policy role in managing business cycles than mainstream economists, generally claiming that fiscal borrowing constraints are less imposing than mainstream economists believe in countries with a sovereign currency, and call for direct money financing of fiscal policy actions by the central bank. The translation of the MMT approach to long-run output is unclear, though a jobs guarantee supported by MMT adherents would likely change the nature of the relationship between employment and output levels.
Full alignment with the economic and political system supported by MMT would likely involve a dramatic shift in the roles and powers of U.S. fiscal institutions. Adopting an MMT framework would involve much more fiscal policy to account for a reduced monetary policy role. Policymakers would also likely need to execute fiscal policy decisions more quickly than has been done in the past in assuming an increased role in economic management.
Projections of future debt growth due to spending pressures from social programs have led to a current concern about deficit financing, recognizing the institutional challenges in conducting tax and spending fiscal policy. MMT is largely focused on short-run management of the economy, with tax and spending policies aimed at maintaining a fully employed economy without inflation. The MMT approach appears to implicitly assume that a high level of debt will not be problematic because it can be financed cheaply by maintaining low interest rates. Underlying this policy is the assumption that Congress can act quickly to counteract deficit-driven inflation with tax increases or spending cuts that would allow the economy to maintain low interest rates on public debt.
I have not read the complete report yet, but I would be surprised if the MMT economists and legal scholars don't respond to it.

From the introduction, it seems to be to be a struggle in translating what is basically an theoretical approach based on institutional arrangements into a neoclassical  theoretical approach based on "natural" market forces and spontaneous organization.

This endeavor is difficult to impossible owing to vastly different methodological frameworks based on different presuppositions from which assumptions are derived. In other words, "You can't there from here" based on the differences is foundations.

But it is not just institutional matters either.
The MMT approach appears to implicitly assume that a high level of debt will not be problematic because it can be financed cheaply by maintaining low interest rates. Underlying this policy is the assumption that Congress can act quickly to counteract deficit-driven inflation with tax increases or spending cuts that would allow the economy to maintain low interest rates on public debt.
This is misleading. Actually, MMT proponents, both economists and legal scholars, have shown how ad hoc Congressional action is not the only factor involved. Nor is it the most salient one.

Good design of automatic stabilization, including tax policy, is much more significant, and the job guarantee plays a prominent role in this instead of being a policy add-on.

Moreover, the central bank sets the policy rate by choice, not market forces. The problem with central banks' monetary policy so far is that central banks don't have a good theory of inflation (and have admitted as much). It is therefore not surprising that their policy choices have been ineffective. MMT argues that fiscal policy is more suited to the task anyway.

In addition, money is endogenous in the MMT view, and the actions of banking and finance play a major role in changes in the money supply. Government regulation can address this, too.

Conventional economics distinguishes between cost-push (supply side) and demand-pull (demand side) inflationary pressure. Monetary policy, however, generally assumes demand-pull inflation — "too much money pursuing too few goods." Most recent inflation has been supply side induced, owing to shortages or bottlenecks in accessibility of real resources. This is especially the case when a cartel controls the oil price, for instance.

Thus, it should only be necessary for Congress to address inflationary pressure ad hoc is other institutional measures have failed. This would also indicate that the design of institutional arrangements needs to be revisited, perhaps owing to changing conditions in the context of a world economy.

Congressional Research Service
Deficit Financing, the Debt, and “Modern Monetary Theory”
October 21, 2019
Grant A. Driessen, Analyst in Public Finance, and Jane G. Gravelle, Senior Specialist in Economic Policy

China Adjusts to the New World Order — Andrew Sheng and Xiao Geng

Recognizing that global engagement is in its interests, China's leaders have been working to counter the backlash against globalization and have reconfirmed their commitment to continued reform and opening up. But China does not need the world nearly as desperately as US President Donald Trump and his advisers seem to believe.
Project Syndicate
China Adjusts to the New World Order
Andrew Sheng, Distinguished Fellow of the Asia Global Institute at the University of Hong Kong and a member of the UNEP Advisory Council on Sustainable Finance, former chairman of the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission, and currently adjunct professor at Tsinghua University in Beijing; and Xiao Geng, President of the Hong Kong Institution for International Finance, and professor and Director of the Research Institute of Maritime Silk-Road at Peking University HSBC Business School

The Last Debt Rattle? — Raúl Ilargi Meijer

And did I mention the Automatic Earth has been almost wholly demonetized by Ad Sense? We’re going to need a lot more donations, the entire model for sites such as this one is rapidly changing. And I don’t want to also disappear behind a paywall, that defeats the purpose. More on that later as well. It’s not the direct reason behind halting the Debt Rattles, but it has crossed my mind. We can’t go on like this. Losing 85% of ad revenue is lethal at some point. Donations via Paypal and Patreon can be made at the top of the left and right sidebars.
The squeeze is on. Censorship by another name — economic warfare.

The Automatic Earth
The Last Debt Rattle?
Raúl Ilargi Meijer

California fires

Nice Savage rant:

Paul Craig Roberts - The End of Accountable Government Is Close at Hand

For about 70 years the CIA has been undermining a free press.  It began with Operation Mockingbird, a Cold War operation against communism.  The CIA recruited journalists into a propaganda network.  The CIA paid journalists to write fake stories or to publish stories written by the CIA in order to control explanations that served the agency’s agendas.  Student and cultural organizations and intellectual magazines, such as Encounter, were suborned into the CIA’s propaganda network.  Thanks to the German journalist, Udo Ulfkotte, we know that every European journalist of any significance is a CIA asset.  In 1977 Carl Bernstein of Watergate fame wrote in Rolling Stone that the CIA “has secretly bankrolled numerous foreign press services, periodicals and newspapers—both English and foreign language—which provided excellent cover for CIA operatives.”  Like most other people, Western journalists were all too willing to sell out their integrity for money.  The few who were not were blackmailed into submission.


Ryan Saavedra - MSNBC Panel Shreds Warren: ‘Far More Extreme Than Bernie,’ ‘Disastrous For … Economy’

Is Elizabeth Warren more radical than we thought? The powers that be are really scared of her. They say Europe got rid of high taxes long ago because they didn't work. Didn't work for who? And is neoliberalism working today?

Beddoes noted that Warren’s wealth tax proposal, which would confiscate large amounts of wealth from America’s richest individuals, is an antiquated idea that many European countries abandoned a long time ago. 

Rattner jumped in, saying, “I would say it’d be disastrous for the American economy.”
“The fundamental different view she has of what capitalism is – she says she’s a capitalist, but she’s not a capitalist,” Rattner said. “She’s really a democratic socialist in some ways, and she wants to fundamentally change the role of an American company, how an American company is governed, what it’s supposed to do, in ways that I think at least would be disastrous for the American economy.”

Daily Wire

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Bill Mitchell — What is the problem with rising dependency ratios in Japan – Part 1?

Later this week I will be in Japan for a series of presentations and meetings with a broad spectrum of Japanese politics. The various hosts of the events which I will confirm in Wednesday’s blog post are all committed to advancing an MMT understanding in Japan and ending the hold that ‘sound finance’ has on the public policy debates and regularly lead to poorly contrived policy shifts (such as the recent sales tax hike) in pursuit of lower fiscal deficits. As part of my preparation for my presentations I have been studying various aspects of the Japanese situation so that I can address the issues with a solid evidence base. One of the recurring themes put forward by the ‘sound finance’ lobby (which includes much of the economics profession both inside and outside of Japan) is that its ‘challenging’ demography demands that the Government move to surplus to ‘save up’ to avoid the impending fiscal disaster associated with a rising dependency ratio. This issue is not confined to Japan, of course. It is just that Japan’s demography is a little further down the ageing road than other nations. But while rising dependency ratios matter and need attention, the construction of the problem by the ‘sound finance’ lobby misses the point completely and their ‘solution’ to their ‘non problem’ only serves to exacerbate the real problem. That is what today’s blog post is about. In Part 2, I will elaborate more on the nature of the productivity challenge and some of the options that have been suggested to deal with it.
Bill Mitchell – billy blog
What is the problem with rising dependency ratios in Japan – Part 1?
Bill Mitchell | Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), at University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia

George Monbiot - Bolsonaro & The Apocalypse: The Most Dangerous Man on Earth

The leaders of the Catholic Church hated Liberation Theology with its left-wing roots and so killed it off. After that, the American Pentecostal Church got a foothold in Brazil because of the vacuum left by the Catholic Church.

The Brazilian evangelicals are taught to be very right-wing and to praise capitalism and so they vote for Bolsonaro. They may be poor, but they are told they will be rewarded in Heaven one day if they suffer gracefully, that is, don't try to change the system.  And they don't worry about deforestation, catastrophic climate change, the end of the world, or world war 3, because they believe Christ will return then and save them, while sending all the rest of us lefties and liberals to our comeuppence to burn in hell for all of eternity. This is the religion of love, peace, and forgiveness.

How did the ruling elite manage this, well, with lots of money, I guess? They did this in the US too during the 70's, and are now spreading millitant Islam throughout the ME, Russia, and China to destabilise those countries.

Eric Zuesse, the historian and journalist, says how religion has always been used by the elite to control the masses, and to get them to fight in their wars for resources.

Edward Snowden Confirms Aliens Never Contacted the CIA and Moon Landing Did Happen

Looks like Snowden just rained on the conspiracy theorists' parade.

Edward Snowdon puts to rest some of the most craziest conspiracy theories on the net: Chemtrails, the fake moon landings, the Pentagon and aliens.

Snowdon said,
"I had ridiculous access to the networks of the NSA (National Security Agency), the CIA, the military, all these groups. I couldn't find anything".
News 18

Nikkei Asian Review misleading headline? "Pay with your face: 100m Chinese switch from smartphones"

Apparently misleading headline at Nikkei. There is nothing in the article that reflects what the headline asserts. To the contrary, in the last paragraph the article states the opposite.
The situation in China apparently heralds an era of ubiquitous facial recognition, when greater tech-supported convenience comes at the cost of privacy. In China, however, the name of the game is "ease to use." There is no particularly strident criticism in the country, at least for now, about the use of the software by the government or companies.…
But most people read only the headlines, and if they read the body at all, it's not past the first couple of paragraphs. So this is used as a tool in narrative control.

Where the switch in smartphones is occurring is away from foreign brands to domestic brands for patriotic reasons but also reflecting the rise in quality of domestic products to a level that competes with the big name brands from abroad.

Moreover, there is a tradeoff between privacy and efficiency. There is also a tradeoff between privacy and access. China is pretty up front about this and privacy takes a seat to the rear of the bus.

In the liberal countries, a lot of lip-service is paid to privacy, and choice in making the tradeoffs, while the intelligence services are working behind the scenes to gain total information access, and according to Edward Snowden were doing quite well at the time he blew the whistle on it, not that he was the only one either.

The question is how much privacy is even possible in a technologically advanced society where information is a major factor in power and wealth.

Nikkei Asian Review
Pay with your face: 100m Chinese switch from smartphones —Facial recognition technology spreads rapidly at the expense of privacy
Takashi Kawakami And Yusuke Hinata, Nikkei staff writers

Capitalism: not Darwinian enough

lol! ... hate to break the news to you but checkmate (again!) to all the hypocrite Darwin people here...

Harvey Jones - Could this looming threat destroy RBS and every other FTSE 100 bank?

For the last 12 years, the banks have lurched from one crisis to another. None more so than Royal Bank of Scotland (LSE: RBS), which taxpayers were forced to bail out to the tune of £45bn. There could be more trouble ahead, so watch out.

It’s an absolute scandal... 

Yahoo Finance

Sister Rosetta Tharpe- "Didn't It Rain?" Live 1964 (Reelin' In The Years Archive)

Imagine inviting your mates around and your mum's the best guitarist in town.

Leslie Rowe - Brexit is no right-wing coup, but the means of escaping the EU’s neo-liberal economics that are harming our planet

Ex-Green Party politician puts the record straight about the EU. All my friends think the EU is committed to social democracy and they weren't happy with me when I said I voted to leave.

Greg Palast says how the Euro was designed to destroy Europe's welfare state.

Also at the Climate Change Conference in Warsaw in 2013 we were told that “continuing with economic growth over the coming two decades is incompatible with meeting our international obligations on climate change”.

But the UK cannot change this as the EU dictates UK economic policy. The EU is a neo-liberal economy committed to economic growth, designed to make the rich richer and the rest of us to pay for it. It shows its true form when you see the EU put austerity into action; in Greece, in Ireland, in Portugal, in Spain, in Italy and even in relatively rich countries like Denmark. In Greece, for instance, EU diktat has meant a 42-year plan of austerity, which the Greeks cannot get out of until the year 2060.
Measures taken by the EU in Greece include:

  1. Right to evict families from their home
  2. Privatisation of all saleable state assets and a ban on re-nationalisation in the future
  3. Reductions in pensions and pension funds
  4. Curtail rights to trade union representation
  5. Further cuts to wages
  6. Right to overrule Greek court decisions.
  7. EU control of Greek central bank and economics ministry

Brexit Central

Greg Palast, The Guardian

Robert Mundell, evil genius of the euro

In Japan, workplace bullying and harassment are driving women to seek mental health treatment

The research shows that happy workers are more productive. If a company is deemed to be fair, people work harder for it. Some companies have shortened the hourly week and yet productivity went up. 

Workplace harassment is far from unusual in Japan, with its hierarchical company structure and culture of subservience and long hours. The government has taken steps to tackle this, introducing legislation specifically to eliminate harassment at work and encouraging companies to draw up their own guidelines to prevent it, but progress on the law is seen to be slow.

A “unique characteristic” of the Japanese workplace is the tendency by senior members of staff to shout at lower-ranked employees, just as they were shouted at by their superiors in the past. They may consider it to be merely delivering instructions, Naito said, but elsewhere it would be classified as verbal abuse and younger workers are upset or offended by this approach.


Saturday, October 26, 2019

Links — 26 Oct 2019


Chile: The poster boy of neoliberalism who fell from grace — Branko Milanovic

It is not common for an OECD county to shoot and kill 16 people in two days of socially motivated riots. (Perhaps only Turkey, in its unending wars against the Kurdish guerilla, comes close to that level of violence.) This is however what Chilean government, the poster child of neoliberalism and transition to democracy, did last week in the beginning of protests that do not show the signs of subsiding despite cosmetic reforms proposed by President Sebastian Piñera.

The fall from grace of Chile is symptomatic of worldwide trends that reveal the damages causes by neoliberal policies over the past thirty years, from privatizations in Eastern Europe and Russia to the global financial crisis to the Euro-related austerity....
Global Inequality
Chile: The poster boy of neoliberalism who fell from grace
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

See also

The Revolution Isn’t Being Televised - Media uninterested in protest movements around the world
Alan MacLeod

Colin Kalmbacher and Greg Palast - Utility Expert Claims PG&E Blackouts Are ‘All About Threatening the Judge’ in Bankruptcy Case

When the Blackouts occurred in Venezuela the right blamed socialism, well, we can certainly blame neoliberal capitalism for the blackouts in California.

Palast blasted the outages as a result of PG&E’s alleged venality — but also reserved some ire for the deregulation agendas pursued by liberal Democrats over the past few decades.
“Leaving hospitals, schools and 1 million homes without power — and that means without water — in California is the endgame of deregulation mania,” the former utilities investigator and current journalist said. “Jerry Brown, Bill Clinton and other deregulation snake-oil salesmen, and the PG&E greedster bosses, should be imprisoned for the people already burned to death.”
“Public utilities must be publicly owned,” Palast continued. “PG&E is a criminal enterprise parading as a power company. Shut them down — not us.”

Stephen Leahy - Earth's rocks can absorb a shocking amount of carbon: here’s how

The depths of the planet offer a rock-hard potential solution to climate change.

Stephen Leahy believes a significant amount of carbon can be removed from the atmosphere. He's quite excited about its potential but doesn't mention how much it might cost. 

These new discoveries about the ability of the Earth to absorb carbon “give me tremendous optimism,” Hazen says.

Watching rock grow

One of these sequestration methods involves a large slab of rock pushed up from Earth's upper mantle long ago in what’s now the country of Oman. Known as the Samail Ophiolite, weathering and microbial life inside the rock take carbon dioxide out of the air and turns it into carbonate minerals.

The process is so effective that “you can actually watch carbon dioxide being sucked out of the atmosphere and being deposited as rocks before your very eyes,” says Hazan.

Experiments pumping carbon-rich fluids into the ophiolite rock formation show that carbonate minerals form very rapidly. That could potentially remove billions of tons of CO2 from the atmosphere, though it would be a huge project and very different for Oman, which is dependent on its oil revenues, he says.

RT - Why is the largest US oil company going on trial?

US oil giant Exxon Mobil is being sued for misleading investors and consumers for decades about the role fossil fuels play in climate change.
Boom Bust talks to oil and gas historian Doug Elenbaas about the historic climate fraud case.
“For quite a number of years Exxon understood the impact of fossil fuels and climate change,” the expert says, adding that the company recognized “the cost of carbon was going to be going up.”
However, Exxon kept that valuation lower for investors so that people would buy the stock, Elenbaas explained.
New York accused the oil firm of defrauding investors out of up to $1.6 billion.