Wednesday, March 31, 2021

My new podcast episode is out.

Book Review: History 2.0 by Frank Li — Derryl Hermanutz

This is a review of Frank LI's new book, History 2.0.

The first paragraph of this post is obviously out of paradigm with MMT in holding, "In the US, the big commercial banks own the central bank (the Federal Reserve Banks)…" But the post goes on to explain that the while the supposed agenda of the US is "democracy," the reality is plutocratic oligarchy, where the elite in effect own the government through capture. That understood, the post is an interesting comparison of the US American and Chinese systems. While reality is much more nuanced, Frank Li's analysis gets some of the big things right.

Part of Frank Li's argument is about the differences of Western and Chinese ideology. These are outcomes of different civilizational development. These are not written in stone, however. One civilization can learn from another. China has already begun adopting what it considers valuable ideologically from the West, but the West considers itself exceptional.

I would add that Li more or less conflates Confucianism and Taoism, which is not wrong — the way a Chinese fried of mine put it, contemporary Chinese ideology is blend of tradition (Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism) and modern (Marxism with "Chinese characteristics). However, there are important differences between Confucianism and Taoism that bear mention, with which people in the West may not be familiar.

Confucianism is pretty much as Li describes it, about living in tune with Tao (meaning "way,""path" or "road"). It involves living a good life in a good society through human intelligence, which is superior to animal intelligence guided by instinct, owing to the rational nature and moral capacity of human intelligence. But it is chiefly an ethical approach. Conversely, Taoism's approach is natural, and Taoists regard Confucianism as artificial and contrived, only needed by those that lack sufficient (spiritual) "cultivation." Here "spiritual" means "holistic."

Taoism is similar but deeper in that it is based on development and application of the full measure of human intelligence, reflected in a level of collective consciousness that is based on full unfolding of human potential — being fully in tune with Tao, hence completely natural. It is only in this state that humans become fully human instead of a mixture of human and animal, where the animal nature needs to be bridled and directed by an ethical culture of high standards. The person of Tao is automatically virtuous and does the right thing intuitively.

Chinese ideology is not only nuanced but it is practical. Given the level of collective consciousness at present, an ethical approach is needed. But as collective consciousness advances, then living a good life in a good society becomes more and more natural than rational. This is not the naturalness of instinct but rather of knowledge of the heart, which is superior to knowledge of the head in that it is immediate instead of mediated by concepts.

Part of Frank Li's argument is about the differences of Western and Chinese ideology. These are outcomes of different civilizational development. These are not written in stone, however. One civilization can learn from another. China has already begun adopting what it considers valuable ideologically from the West, but the West considers itself exceptional.

Book Review: History 2.0
Derryl Hermanutz

Where have we got to in Understanding Power as the basis for Activism? Great new review. — Duncan Green

John Gaventa has been thinking, writing and theorising about power for at least four decades. His new essay ‘Linking the prepositions: using power analysis to inform strategies for social action’ should be on the reading lists of anyone at the wonkier end of the activist spectrum. It summarizes and reflects on some of the main frameworks for understanding power that have emerged over the last 50 years, including Stephen Lukes, Jo Rowlands and John’s own work on the Power Cube. There is a fascinating account of the practical applications of the power cube to everything from grassroots social movements in India to Fair Trade Towns in the UK.

It’s scholarly, not an easy read, and impossible to summarize in my standard blog journalese, so I’ll settle for some edited highlights to give you a flavour....
Oxfam Blogs — From Poverty to Power
Where have we got to in Understanding Power as the basis for Activism? Great new review.
Duncan Green, strategic adviser for Oxfam GB

Public Investment: why America’s “more” is better than Europe’s “too little” — Heiner Flassbeck

The US is deploying approximately 25% of its GDP to bolster the economy in comparison to a more timid approach from Europe, the former will likely prove better for labour market recovery.

There is now hope that the global economic situation will rebound as the pace of vaccination picks up. It is, therefore, the time to take stock of the crisis in the northern hemisphere but, unfortunately, this balance sheet does not turn out well for Europe.

Although the US got off to a late start with anti-coronavirus measures last year, it reacted very quickly to the massive economic slump and is now in a comparatively better position. Furthermore, the US vaccination rollout is picking up and Washington has launched a massive stimulus program to boost the economy. Once again, Europe has to reflect on why we risk permanent damage while the US is acting quickly and decisively.

Where does Europe stand?...

The EZ is hamstrung by the Maastricht Treaty.  Having forfeited currency sovereignty, EZ governments are dependent on the ECB.

Flassbeck Economics International
Public Investment: why America’s “more” is better than Europe’s “too little”
Heiner Flassbeck

NTERMISSION — Robert Paul Wolff

Several people have raised important questions about the materials of the first several parts of this extended essay and I thought it would be helpful to address some of them before continuing.

Marx built on the foundation of classical economics and provided a critique of the assumptions, upon which he built his own approach. Here Professor Wolff pauses to discuss the major assumptions of classical economics, which Marx then addressed in his work. 

While Professor Wolff sticks to examining classical assumptions, it may be useful to point out that Marx and Keynes played a similar role with respect to classical and neoclassical economics respectively. See Marxism and Keynesianism at Wikipedia. (Note that Keynes called what is now known as neoclassical economics "classical economics.")

Marx and Keynes agreed that capitalism is subject to crisis owing to the nature of the system, which they each attempted to explain in different ways. Marx argued for an overhaul of the system by vastly increasing the role of the state through public ownership of the means of production instead of individuals exercising property right, or at least public ownership of the commanding heights. He also held the evolutionary direction of capitalism was toward socialism. Conversely, Keynes held that capitalism could be reformed by increasing the role of the state using fiscal policy. Keynesians would also have the state involved in natural monopoly either as commons (public property) or regulation, as well as other aspects of asymmetry that disrupt natural market forces.

The present Western system is synthesis of Keynesianism and neoclassical economics — the bastard Keynesianism of  Paul Samuelson with strong overtones of the Chicago School and Milton Friedman's monetarism. The present Chinese system is a synthesis of Marxism and Western economics "with Chinese characteristics." 

The qualifier "Chinese characteristics" is important in that the Chinese hold that China is a civilizational state with a unique history and therefore the economic system of China is not directly exportable. One the other hand, the key of assumption of the Western world view is that human nature is universal and that the Western approach is therefore natural and universally applicable.

The Philosopher's Stone
Robert Paul Wolff | Professor Emeritus, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Bill Mitchell – edX MOOC – Modern Monetary Theory: Economics for the 21st Century – Q&A

It’s Wednesday, and our edX MOOC – Modern Monetary Theory: Economics for the 21st Century – ended its four-week run today. We are exploring making it available again in the coming months as well as floating an advanced course (see below). Today, I publish a short video where I answer the questions posed by students in the MOOC as part of our last week ‘Bill Board’. We asked students to pose questions and vote on which ones they thought should be prioritised. I chose the top (almost) 3 to answer. And then we have some music, being Wednesday....
Bill Mitchell – billy blog
edX MOOC – Modern Monetary Theory: Economics for the 21st Century – Q&A
Bill Mitchell | Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), at University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

After a Mysterious Four-Year Absence, Deficit Hawks Have Returned to the White House — Charles Mudede

Another positive post on MMT, citing Stephanie Kelton and Randy Wray.

The Stranger
Charles Mudede

WFC doing it right


Fed “stress tests” have compliant US big banks planning for up to 55% equity price reduction:

While looks like this foreign bank allegedly taking large losses in the Archegos liquidation has been in the Fed’s doghouse for a while:

Don’t fight the Fed....

Good olde days...


Cool video from the good old YouTube days when it was hip to be Russian (16M views):

What happened?!?!

Sputnik — ‘Infinite Game’: US Army White Paper Reveals Plans for New Field of ‘Narrative Competition’

The US State Department last year unveiled a multi-decade plan for a struggle against China at home and abroad similar to the US approach to the Soviet Union at the start of the Cold War. Other declassified documents have shown that while they publicly deny it, in private, US officials see it as another struggle between capitalism and socialism.

In great power competition with Russia and China, the US Army is going to be asked to pull a larger weight than in past conflicts. According to a new white paper, the service will have a “critical” role in cultivating support and dependency on the US by its regional partners and keep them away from Chinese or Russian influence....
Sputnik International
‘Infinite Game’: US Army White Paper Reveals Plans for New Field of ‘Narrative Competition’


I would not say that the Pentagon has gone mad. This is just what they they get paid to do — although it is indeed madness.

Defend Democracy
Pentagon goes mad
Barbara Starr

The trillion-dollar woman — Anand Giridharadas

Stephanie Kelton getting more press as the game-changer.
At its core, MMT is about replacing the (flawed) concept of a government budget constraint with a natural resource (inflation) constraint. It’s not that there aren’t any limits. There are! But they’re not on the financing side (as we have been trained to believe). Our government cannot run “out of money,” as President Obama once falsely claimed. We cannot end up like Greece, and, contra these economists, we were never facing a fiscal crisis.

MMT teaches us to ask not, “How will you pay for it?” but “How will you resource it?” The politics are hard, but coming up with the money for Medicare for All, tuition-free college, or a huge infrastructure package is the easy part. Managing the use of our productive resources, and respecting our ecological constraints, is the defining challenge of our time....
The Ink
The trillion-dollar woman
Anand Giridharadas

My Understanding Of Marx Part Three - Robert Paul Wolff

Part Three: Classical Political Economy

Marx and Engels had a little private joke that they would use in their lengthy correspondence to one another. They would say: we got our philosophy from the Germans, our politics from the French, and our economics from the English. Marx began his revolutionary investigation of the nature of capitalism by studying everything he could lay his hands on in the new field of Political Economy. Before we can open to page one of Capital, therefore, we must remind ourselves of the elements of Marx’s predecessors, so that we understand how he understood the discipline as he began his great book....
The Philosopher's Stone
Robert Paul Wolff | Professor Emeritus, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Americans… ‘Know Your Enemy’ — Eamon McKinney,

 Important backgrounder by a Chinese-speaking American executive in China. The enemy is not China. Thinking that China is the enemy benefits only the Western elite and not the people of either West or East. It's long past time to see through the false narrative. Eamon McKinney explains why. It's short and to the point.

Strategic Culture Foundation
Americans… ‘Know Your Enemy’
Dr. Eamon McKinney, an eminent Sinologist with more than 40 years’ involvement in China foreign business. He is C.E.O. and founder (1985) of CBNGLOBAl, his company has managed more than 300 major China-Foreign projects. He lives in Qingdao, China.

See also

The Vineyard of the Saker
Sitrep China : Xinjiang backlash market shock
Godfree Roberts


Them's fightin' words.
[The Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson] again laid down China's "red line"...
Zero Hedge
China Furious As 1st US Ambassador To Visit Taiwan Since 1979 Calls It A "Country"
Tyler Durden


Sputnik International
Battery Race: Why Latin America's Lithium Triangle May Become a Bone of Contention for the US, China

The China-Iran pact is a game changer — Part I M. K. Bhadrakumar

 BRI and decolonization are in full swing lead by the dragon as it spreads its wings and lifts off. The colonizers are furious as they arm up to preserve position, especially the eagle and the bulldog (although Brits prefer the lion as their national symbol). But the reality is that only the dragon and eagle are contenders in this game, albeit the eagle has a poodle corps while the dragon is accompanied by the bear. Now the dragon has added the griffin (huma).

India Punchline
The China-Iran pact is a game changer — Part I
M. K. Bhadrakumar | retired diplomat with the Indian Foreign Service

See also

Read instead of "world order," "the Western-dominated neoliberal, neo-imperial, neocolonial order."

Sputnik International
Blinken Accuses China of Trying to Undermine US-Dominated World Order

China Aces Western Hypocrisy

The sociopathic crisis — Ken Zimmerman

Extreme individuals results is sociopathy. Margaret Thatcher's ""There is no such thing as society" epitomizes it.

Real-World Economics Review Blog
The sociopathic crisis
Ken Zimmerman

See also
The Problem Isn’t Human Nature, The Problem Is A Few Manipulative Sociopaths
Caitlin Johnstone

Inflation: Who Matters? — Peter Radford

Apparently Wall Street bonuses have risen 1,217% since 1985. Quite what the significance of 1985 is I cannot tell, but the number itself seems to have the right feel. Having seen a few of those years first hand I can attest to the pace of increase from an anecdotal perspective.

More importantly, if we applied the same rate of increase to the minimum wage over a similar period it would stand at $44 per hour and not the current rather pathetic $7.25.…
For conventional economists, the only actual inflation that needs to be considered is wage inflation (Phillips curve).

The Radford Free Press
Inflation: Who Matters?
Peter Radford

BBC's report "Uyghur labor" Exposed | How msm brainwashes | China poverty alleviation called "evil"

 See BBC propaganda at work, how it's done. 

The BBC recently used a Chinese news clip regarding mainland China's intensive poverty alleviation campaign which assisted many poor Chinese in finding work not available in remote villages. The BBC edited the Chinese clip to paint the whole initiative as a "evil genocidal scheme". Compare both news clips in this video!

Monday, March 29, 2021

I vote, I am unemployed and I live in your electorate — Scott Baum

Today, we have a guest blogger in the guise of Professor Scott Baum from Griffith University who has been one of my regular research colleagues over a long period of time. Today he is writing about the uneven impact of the government’s withdrawal of its COVID economic support packages aka JobSeeker and JobKeeper. Keeping with some of his earlier blog posts here, Scott takes a spatial angle and considers what might be some of the implications when exposure to the impacts of the government’s changes are concentrated at the level of federal government electorates. Anyway, while I am tied up today it is over to Scott …
Bill Mitchell – billy blog
I vote, I am unemployed and I live in your electorate
Scott Baum

Unstuffing banks with Fed deposits: Why and how Robert McCauley

US banks currently hold almost $4 trillion in Fed deposits, as a result of the ongoing balance sheet expansion by the Federal Reserve. Meanwhile, a year-long exclusion of Fed deposits and US Treasuries from bank capital rules is set to expire on 31 March. This column proposes a simple, feasible, and mandate-consistent strategy to replace $3 trillion in deposits with Treasury bills. These Treasuries could be held not only by banks, but also by mutual funds and non-residents, and this substitution also could save taxpayers money....
Unstuffing banks with Fed deposits: Why and how
Robert McCauley, Corte Real Advisors; Boston University, University of Oxford

CFR — How Should the United States Compete With China’s Belt and Road Initiative?

Context. The US should provide an alternative to BRI but by smart means rather than trying to match China dollar for dollar.

Subtext. If the BRI is successful, then China cements control of the Eurasian landmass aka the "heartland" and the "world island." Western strategy for at least a hundred year is to dominate this strategic region. Now this requires "competing" with China and Russia, as in "great power competition."

Wishful thinking.

Council on Foreign Relations
How Should the United States Compete With China’s Belt and Road Initiative? 
Jennifer Hillman and David Sacks | codirectors of the CFR-sponsored Independent Task Force report on a U.S. Response to China’s Belt and Road Initiative, which is co-chaired by Jacob J. Lew and Gary Roughead


Is Biden willing to throw in the trillions of dollars to match China. No? I didn't think so. Oh, and there are China's investments and lending in Africa and Latin America.

Dave DeCamp


Common Dreams
As Biden Prepares to Unveil Infrastructure Plan, Progressives Push $10 Trillion Investment
Jessica Corbett

Cathie Wood — On Bitcoin: '$1 Trillion Is Nothing Compared To Where This Will Ultimately Be' Samyuktha Sriram

According to research from ARK based on “a million Monte Carlo simulations,” if institutions want to minimize volatility and maximize their Sharpe ratio, they should put something between two and a half and six and a half percent of Bitcoin in their portfolios, because of its low correlation to any other asset class.

What could possibly go wrong?

Yahoo Finance — BenzingaSamyuktha Sriram

See also

Maybe less than zero figuring in mining cost, transaction cost and externalities? Oh, and "prosecution futures."

New Economic Perspectives
The Fair Price of a Bitcoin is Zero
Eric Tymoigne


Slope of Hope
Gold is Garbage
Tim Knight


Yahoo Finance — Worth
Bitcoin 101: Could Cryptocurrencies Eventually Replace the Dollar?
Evan J. Mayer

See also

Legendary Investor [Ray Dalio] Warns Bitcoin Ban ‘Likely’ As Price Suddenly Soars Toward $60,000
Billy Bambrough


The Gray Market: How Deep-Pocketed Crypto-Collectors Are Rushing Into an Old Art-Market Trap (and Other Insights)
Tim Schneider,

Why do economists never mention power? — Lars P. Syll

A key assumption of neoclassical economics is perfect competition in free markets where price is determined purely by market forces. 

Of course, most economists are aware of asymmetry and in face, the assumption qualifies itself by limited the scope to the inquiry to "perfect competition," that is, symmetrical market power, and "free markets," that is, markets in which there is no administration of price. 

They justify not teaching this in Econ 101 since the purpose of Econ 101 limits its scope. For example in Physics 101, student learn simplified equations that assume more simplicity that is actually present, for example, calculation of the effect of friction. 

While this is pedagogically admissible, and it is also likely that many teachers qualify these assumptions without going into detail that is beyond the scope of an introductory course.

But the reality is that methodological simplification can results in misunderstanding. On the other hand, I recall my class in Econ 101 using Samuelson. A lot of us were looking at each other like, WTF?

The same prof that taught Econ 101 also taught statistics. To his credit, How to Lie with Statistics, was required reading.

I also got fascinated with philosophy and grew up to be a philosophy professor. Philosophy 101 included an introduction to logic, which was actually an introduction to critical thinking. The other section was an introduction to the enduring questions and why they have not yet been answered definitively. At one time, this was a required course, but, alas, no more.

I also had a wise mentor who held that the most important thing in understanding people and the way the world works is power.

In physics there is a coefficient of friction, while in economics there is no coefficient of power. Why? Because power is difficult to quantify. So it is acknowledged but ignored as intractable.

Lars P. Syll’s Blog
Lars P. Syll | Professor, Malmo University

See also

If something potentially significant causally is not mathematically tractable, then it is treated as if it did not exist or is irrelevant. This drastically limits the scope of the model by excluding significant factors. Keynes pointed this out. See Lars Syll, Keynes’s critique of econometrics.

Visualizing the Most Used Languages on the Internet — Govind Bhutada

Visual Capitalist 
Visualizing the Most Used Languages on the Internet
Govind Bhutada

Liberalism and class — Steve Randy Waldman

 Paradoxes of liberalism, aka liberalism run amok.

Liberalism and class
Steve Randy Waldman

The Morning Star Editorial — Britain and China: trading sanctions and the new cold war

Neoliberalism, neo-imperialism, neocolonialism. Warning.

The Morning Star (UK)

Biden's embrace of neocon dogma will accelerate a Chinese-Russian-European coalescence that will dominate the world economy
The American Conservative
Life after death for the neoconservatives



Geopolitika (Russia)
The US failed to gang-up against Russia-China
Zamir Ahmed Awan

My Understanding Of Marx Part Two — Robert Paul Wolff

Because Plato believed that the world revealed by our senses is merely appearance, not fundamental reality, and because he was convinced that only a tiny few – Socrates and those who followed him – recognize this fact, he needed a form of language that could capture this complexity and his solution was to write in what has come to be called Socratic irony. To speak ironically is not to speak with a wry smile on your face or a look of condescension at those around you. It is to use language with a quite precise complex structure. Ironic discourse presupposes a speaker and two audiences. The first, or superficial, audience hears what it thinks the speaker is saying and assumes that it has understood. But it has in fact only understood the apparent meaning of the speaker’s utterance. The second, or real, audience hears both this superficial or apparent meaning and the real, deeper meaning. Furthermore, it knows that there is a superficial audience mistakingly construing the utterance and so, in effect, it shares a private joke with the speaker at the expense of the superficial audience. In the Socratic dialogues, when Socrates says to one of his interlocutors “I am ignorant and so I ask in the hope that you can enlighten me,” the superficial audience – a sophist like Gorgias – is flattered and imagines that it is being asked for wisdom. Meanwhile the real audience – presumably the little circle of the followers of Socrates – smile to themselves, recognizing that what Socrates is really saying is something like “I am ignorant of the sophistical speeches that you give to your paying audiences, and it is my intention by asking simple questions to expose your lack of understanding of that which you claim to know.” Sometimes, as in the lovely little dialogue Crito, there is a double irony. Neither Crito, who has come to get Socrates out of prison, or the circle of Socrates’ disciples, understands the real pathos of the situation, which is that at the moment of his death Socrates must recognize that he has failed in his effort to educate his followers. So there is a third audience, consisting of the readers of the dialogue, to whom Plato is really speaking....
Deconstructing meaning. Context and subtext.  

The Philosopher's Stone
Robert Paul Wolff | Professor Emeritus, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Econwars Blogging Is Back, Or What? — Brian Romanchuk

I have seen a few articles discussing the rise of the new economics debates, MMT, and blogging versus Twitter econ. I just want to make a few scattered observations....

Bond Economics
Econwars Blogging Is Back, Or What?
Brian Romanchuk

I have another non-paywalled draft PDF on my Patreon (link). They are initial musings about a theoretical question: can we implement an agent-based model, and have it converge to a DSGE model equilibrium solution?

The text is somewhat rough, as it is a brainstorming document rather than a finished product. My conjecture is that the only way to get a DSGE-style equilibrium is to force the agents to use that solution, which is not within the "spirit" of agent-based modelling.

With that digression out of the way, I have returned to puttering around with my Python agent-based framework. The code is still preliminary, and I would not yet describe it as a functioning model. However, within a few weeks, it should start to resemble a very simple model that could be related to an aggregate model of the economy....
Bond Economics
Can We Replicate DSGE Models With An Agent-Based Model?
Brian Romanchuk

Bill Mitchell – US Congress to consider a vote on condemning MMT – signals progress

On March 25, 2021, a member of the US House of Represenatives “introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives this week condemning Modern Monetary Theory, recognizing that its implementation would lead to higher deficits and inflation”, while a “companion bill” was introduced into the US Senate (Source). The full text of the proposed legislation is available – HERE. The Bill is full of factual errors. But I thought the most significant aspect is the ‘authorities’ they call upon for justification. A parade of mainstream economists and progressive economists are quoted to give support for the Bill. And I haven’t seen one disclaimer from those mentioned disassociating themselves from some of the wild inferences that the Bill makes. They have allowed themselves to be co-opted by their silence in this rather tawdry and dishonest exercise. That is not surprising at all.
Anti-MMT propaganda exercise.

Bill Mitchell – billy blog
US Congress to consider a vote on condemning MMT – signals progress
Bill Mitchell | Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), at University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia

U.S., others object to U.N. counterterrorism chief visit to China's Xinjiang

 China is accused of atrocities in Xinglian, but no one is allowed to go and check it out. The EU refused to go too when it was invited.

So far at the UN, a total of 80 nations have expressed support for China's policies in Xinjiang - while only 39 have opposed them, but western media never mentions this. 

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United States and other western countries have objected to a visit by the United Nations counterterrorism chief to China’s remote Xinjiang, where U.N. experts say some one million ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims are held in detention centers.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan spoke with U.N. Secretary-General Antรณnio Guterres on Friday “to convey deep concerns” about Voronkov’s trip because “Beijing continues to paint its repressive campaign against Uighurs and other Muslims as legitimate counterterrorism efforts when it is not.”

“The Deputy Secretary expressed that such a visit is highly inappropriate in view of the unprecedented repression campaign underway in Xinjiang against Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, and other Muslims,” the U.S. State Department said in a statement.


U.S., others object to U.N. counterterrorism chief visit to China's Xinjiang

Sunday, March 28, 2021

China's new 'dual circulation' development paradigm — Xinhua

To sustain growth, China is pushing a "dual circulation" development paradigm, which has been mentioned as a guiding thought in a blueprint for its development in the next five to 15 years.

"China will advance the building of a strong domestic market and a strong trading nation in a concerted way, based on the domestic circulation," read the Outline of the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) for National Economic and Social Development and the Long-Range Objectives Through the Year 2035.

What is the new development paradigm? Why did China put forward it in 2020? How will the country foster it? Here are some explanations....
China's new 'dual circulation' development paradigm
Xinhua (Chinese state media)

Extreme poverty isn’t natural, it’s created — Jason Hickel

Over the past few years, this graph has become a sensation. Developed by Our World In Data and promoted widely by Bill Gates and Steven Pinker, the graph gives the impression that virtually all of humanity was in “extreme poverty” as of 1820 (i.e., living on less than $1.90 per day, PPP; less than is required for basic food). OWID has used this figure to claim that extreme poverty was the natural or baseline condition of humanity, extending far back into the past: “in the thousands of years before the beginning of the industrial era, the vast majority of the world population lived in conditions that we would call extreme poverty today.” In other words, virtually all of humanity, for all of history, was destitute until the 19th century, when at last colonialism and capitalism came to the rescue.

There’s only one problem: the graph’s long-term trend is empirically baseless....
Bad methodology, how to lie with statistics?

Jason Hickel Blog
Extreme poverty isn’t natural, it’s created
Jason Hickel | economic anthropologist, author, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. He is a Visiting Senior Fellow at the International Inequalities Institute at the London School of Economics, and Senior Lecturer at Goldsmiths, University of London. He serves on the Statistical Advisory Panel for the UN Human Development Report 2020, the advisory board of the Green New Deal for Europe, and on the Harvard-Lancet Commission on Reparations and Redistributive Justice.

My Undertanding Of Marx — Robert Paul Wolff

Part One: introduction

In a career that has spanned 71 years, ever since as a first semester freshman I took Willard Van Orman Quine’s course on symbolic logic, I have devoted extended periods of time to the study and interpretation of the writings of two great thinkers: Immanuel Kant and Karl Marx. To the thought of each I devoted two books and a number of lengthy essays. Kant was my first love and my first great challenge. When I had come to terms with his thought, I was sure I would never encounter another thinker as difficult to master or correctly to interpret. However, when I plunged into Das Kapital three years after publishing my second book on the philosophy of Kant, I found myself confronted with a task even more demanding and multidimensional than that posed by the Critique and the Grundlegung.

For better or for worse, I am content with my engagement with Kant. The books I have written and the series of YouTube lectures I have posted do as good a job of laying out my understanding of Kant’s philosophy as I am capable of. But despite 45 years of effort and many thousands of words, I still feel that I have somewhat failed to articulate the full complexity of my vision of Marx’s thought. I have decided therefore to make one last effort. I am moved to attempt this in part by my sense that I have been unsuccessful in persuading others of my reading of Marx’s work....
The Philosopher's Stone
Robert Paul Wolff | Professor Emeritus, University of Massachusetts Amherst

For Technology To Benefit Everyone, Private Sector Innovation Needs To Be Supported By Public Goods — IMF

If public goods are appropriately designed, and if policymakers cooperate, digital technology can be harnessed to bring more people - particularly the poorest - into the financial system. Broad diffusion of technology may help make societies not only more efficient, but more equitable and better prepared for the digital future. Innovation must be shaped to benefit everyone....
It is also good business. Expands and eventually upgrades the market as more people move into the middle class.


“Like a harbor clotted with sunken vessels”: update — Andrew Gelman

There’s nothing wrong with people publishing research that turns out to be mistaken. No problem at all. Sometimes you can’t know a path is a dead end until you walk down it.

The problem is not (necessarily) with the original study. The problem is with a scientific culture that doesn’t have a good way of letting go of these mistakes. Like a harbor clotted with sunken vessels....
Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science
“Like a harbor clotted with sunken vessels”: update
Andrew Gelman | Professor of Statistics and Political Science and Director of the Applied Statistics Center, Columbia University

Be Still II


Hungarian Parliament 

Neuroscience News - Mutation-Specific Brain Cancer Vaccine Tested

  Summary: Researchers have carried out clinical trials to test a mutation-specific vaccine against malignant brain tumors. The vaccine has been found to be safe and effective in triggering the desired immune response in the brain cancer tumors.

Tumor vaccines can help the body fight cancer. Mutations in the tumor genome often lead to protein changes that are typical of cancer. A vaccine can alert the patients’ immune system to these mutated proteins.

Neuroscience News - Mutation-Specific Brain Cancer Vaccine Tested

Why bacon sandwiches are bad for your brain

 Processed meat has been linked to an increased risk of developing dementia. So what foods should you eat and what should you avoid? By Peta Bee

A bacon sandwich may be off the menu after researchers suggested this week  eating as little as 25g of processed meat a day — equivalent to a single rasher — is associated with a 44 per cent increased risk of developing dementia.

It’s not the first time that meat has been associated with an increased risk of age-related cognitive decline but previous studies had failed to determine which types of meat might be more harmful than others. “They had mostly investigated the consumption of total meat or just used the general term ‘meat’ rather than specifying meat types as we were able to do in our analysis,” says Huifeng Zhang from the University of Leeds who led the study, which used data from 500,000

The Times

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Russia and China

We're already losing this one.
More geostrategic blunders like Cuba, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Iran were not enough. But this present one dwarfs them all even put together.

Imperial hubris.

The Scrum
“Our cold, two-front war.” 
James W. Carden and Patrick Lawrence

See also

Chiefly about information war against Russia but it is also applicable to China in Xinjiang, HK, Tibet,  "CCP," etc.The "woozle" is "information laundering" by 5 Eyes spooks aided by corporate media in planting a "big lie."

Dances with Bears
John Helmer



How the present trend began immediately after WWII, with the foundation poured while the war was still in progress.

The Rising Tide
Return of the Leviathan: The Fascist Roots of the CIA and the True Origin of the Cold War

Guest Contribution: “Biden Avoids Mistake of Insufficient Fiscal Stimulus” — Jeffrey Frankel

If you saw this at Project Syndicate, it was a shorter version of this post.

Guest Contribution: “Biden Avoids Mistake of Insufficient Fiscal Stimulus”
Jeffrey Frankel, Harpel Professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and formerly a member of the White House Council of Economic Advisers

Russia reacts

 The game just changed. 

Following Putin's scolding in response to intemperate remarks by Biden, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson goes for the jugular.

Summary: Russia perceives itself as being under attack and will respond accordingly.

The Chinese have switched tone also. Cold War 2.0 heats up, and sparks are flying. 

Cui bono? US MICIMATT (Military-Industrial-Congressional-Intelligence-Media-Academia-Think-Tank complex)

Who loses? Europe, geopolitically and economically. Also, the countries of the world will have to choose which bloc to align with, based on the Bush Doctrine — "you are with us or against us."

Russia Switches To Western Diplomatic Language: Russian MFA Briefing

See also

Naked Capitalism
Russia and China Are Sending Biden a Message: Don’t Judge Us or Try to Change us. Those Days Are Over
Yves Smith


Zero Hedge
US Makes Large Military Hardware Delivery To Ukraine's Army After Biden Pledged "Crimea is Ukraine"
Tyler Durden


Reminiscence of the Future
Even Levada Can Not Lie Here.
Andrei Martyanov


Britain To Intensify Its Activities Against Russia
Paul Antonopoulos


The Vineyard of the Saker
US/NATO vs. Russia-China in a hybrid war to the finish
Pepe Escobar

ALSO — China

India Punchline
China resents US presence in Afghanistan
M. K. Bhadrakumar | retired diplomat with the Indian Foreign Service

Twenty Chinese Warplanes Enter Taiwan’s ADIZ After Taipei Signs New Coast Guard Pact With US
Dave DeCamp


The Hindu
Alternative to China’s BRI needed: Biden tells Johnson
Sriram Laksman

Sputnik International

ALSO — an ominous turn, to expected in a conflict between the Global North/West and the Global South/East — the race card. Add this to the religious card.

Gordon Chang depicts this as an anti-white race war.

Zero Hedge
Is China Calling For Civilizational War Against America & The West?
Tyler Durden


UN chief urges eradicating ideas of white supremacy underpinning transatlantic slave trade

Top legislator spells out stance on Xinjiang, HK
China Daily

Hate stares at Asians from screens
China Daily

White House Reignites Racism Against People of Asian Descent
Vladimir Odintsov
US Intelligence Warns Withdrawal Could Lead To Afghanistan Being Controlled By Afghans
Caitlin Johnstone

Summary: The astute eye will detect beneath the conflict between the Global North/West and Global South/East a rising trend toward decolonization. The Global North/West's answer to this neoliberal globalization, which is inherently neo-imperial and depends on maintaining colonization for hegemony.

The world system is shaking. The biggest danger is that Western military strategists see the window closing soon on the ability to defeat a combined Russia and China, although it is not clear that the window is already shut based on simulations. But know that the game will have shifted decisively within ten years if China continues the pace of its rise and is the recipient of Russian military technology.

This is all about control of the Eurasian land mass aka "the world island." It is truism in geopolitics that whoever controls the  world island controls the world. This pits land powers (Russia, China and Iran) against sea powers (the US and UK). This conflict has been going on for hundreds of years and is coming to a head again owing to globalization.

Stuck container ship review


Juan Brown with a review of the current situation with the container ship athwart the Suez....

Deep-fried Mars Bar

A Scottish Delicacy Invented in Edinburgh 


One Mars Bar

For the batter:

120g plain flour, 100g rice flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp sugar 

Eating a Deep Fried Mars Bar in Edinburgh, Scotland

Friday, March 26, 2021

Links — 26 March 2021

Bill Totten's Weblog (China acted, the West dithered)
A Tale of Two Lockdowns
Godfree Roberts, publisher of HereComesChina newsletter

Bracing Views (budgetary priorities)
Is China Winning? It’s Our Own Fault
W. J. Astore
Russia, China oppose Washington’s imposition of its view of democracy — Kremlin

‘Lies’: Diplomat blasts NATO chief’s remark Russia refuses dialogue with alliance

Defend Democracy Press
Turkey, Ukraine press forward with plans for two-front anti-Russian proxy war
Rick Rozoff

Russian and Eurasian Politics
Biden Trips : Four Reasons Why Calling Putin a “Killer” is a Misstep
Gordon M. Hahn | Expert Analyst at Corr Analytics, and a Senior Researcher at the Center for Terrorism and Intelligence Studies (CETIS), Akribis Group

China firm in safeguarding national sovereignty, security: FM spokesperson

So-called Xinjiang Uygur issue is U.S. strategic conspiracy

Chinese officials respond to Xinjiang-related sanctions
China Daily

Over 30 Chinese stars cut ties with brands, standing firmly behind Xinjiang cottonGlobal Times

China experts sign joint declaration demanding end to anti-China campaign

Global Inequality (Mao Tse-Tung)
"The World Turned Upside Down"—a critical review
Branko Milanovic | Visiting Presidential Professor at City University of New York Graduate Center and senior scholar at the Stone Center on Socio-economic Inequality, 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

In Quest of a Multipolar Economic World Order —Michael Hudson and Pepe Escobar

A bit sweeping, but interesting. Michael Hudson paints with a broad brush, but he wants to cover a lot of ground in the small space of an interview.

Michael Hudson: "It’s a fight of economic systems. It’s a systemic fight. You can’t fix it at the margin. The problem goes deep to the core."

The Vineyard of the Saker
In Quest of a Multipolar Economic World Order
Michael Hudson and Pepe Escobar

See also

Norther passage.

The Unz Review
Broke: Suez. Woke: NSR.
Anatoly Karlin


Suez Canal blocking underscores importance of Northern Sea Route development

China branch of Better Cotton Initiative trade body says it has not found forced labor in Xinjiang

 SHANGHAI, March 26 (Reuters) - The China branch of the cotton trade body Better Cotton Initiative said on Friday it has not found forced labour related to cotton production in Xinjiang.

The branch added that it will continue communication with its Chinese partners in Xinjiang. (Reporting by Josh Horwitz; Editing by Toby Chopra)

China branch of Better Cotton Initiative trade body says it has not found forced labor in Xinjiang

Yahoo News

Thursday, March 25, 2021

MARX & MMT – Currency Value and its Relationship to Price Stability — Peter Cooper

Wonkish but important if one is into Marxian economics and reconciling it with MMT.  Peter Cooper is one of the very few economists well versed in Marxian economics and MMT.

MARX & MMT – Currency Value and its Relationship to Price Stability
Peter Cooper

The Most Powerful Woman On Earth? — Boris Schlossberg

Spot on.

The Most Powerful Woman On Earth?
Boris Schlossberg

Links — 25 March 2021

Zero Hedge
Iran Fires Missile At Israeli Ship In Arabian Sea: Report
Tyler Durden


Strategic Culture Foundation  (hemorrhaging soft power)
America Against the World: Everyone Is a Frenemy
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

TASS ("partners" no more?) (commercialization)
False Spirituality Is The Friend Of Corrupt Power. True Spirituality Is Its Enemy.
Caitlin Johnstone

Sputnik International
U.S. And Co. Leading Mental War Against Russia: Defense Minister’s Advisor

Thus Confirming Everything I Thought about Both The Independent Institute and Judy Shelton — Menzie Chinn

Wowsers. Full-on Murray Rothbard. Private money.

Thus Confirming Everything I Thought about Both The Independent Institute and Judy Shelton
Menzie Chinn | Professor of Public Affairs and Economics, Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs, University of Wisconsin–Madison, co-editor of the Journal of International Money and Finance, and a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research International Finance and Macroeconomics

China issues plan to encourage new types of consumption — Xinhua

Mostly innovative digital technology. China is now an Internet society, having leapfrogged most of the developmental process taken previously and assumed to be the "normal" course by going directly to digital communications and high-speed rail, for example.  Emerging countries are watching.

China issues plan to encourage new types of consumption

Zero Hedge — Why Corporations Are Terrified Of China: Nike, H&M Tumble After Boycott Begins Over Xinjiang Criticism

As it emerged that China is serious in following through on its threats of boycotting western clothing makers, shares of China's Anta Sports Products and Li Ning surged, while shares in Adidas, Inditex and H&M fell when European markets opened on Thursday: Burberry shares fell as much as 6.3%, Adidas was down as much as 6%, Inditex slipped as much as 1.9%; Nike was down 4% in premarket trading.
Zero Hedge
Why Corporations Are Terrified Of China: Nike, H&M Tumble After Boycott Begins Over Xinjiang Criticism
Tyler Durden

See also

Sputnik International
Chinese Celebrities Sever Ties With Nike Over Remarks on 'Forced Labor' in Xinjiang

Bill Mitchell — Corporate welfare booming in Europe despite the deep crisis being endured by the citizens

The European Union officials seem to be ‘playing violins while the nations burn’, given Covid-19 is running out of control still (another wave coming) and new variants are outpacing the vaccine rollout (which wouldn’t be hard given how slow it has been). New extended lockdowns are coming, mass insolvencies are coming (once the relaxation of rules occurs), unemployment remains at obscene levels, and the whole show is lurching into stagnation, of the type only the EU elites can create. But what isn’t going wrong is the welfare system for the financial elites. They are rushing to purchase government bonds as if there is no tomorrow despite the deep crisis that the Member States are mired in. The bond investors are warmed by the knowledge that the ECB will do whatever it takes to keep bond yields low for fear that one or more Eurozone nations will become insolvent. The dysfunctional architecture of the common currency has ensured that the ECB has to keep buying government debt in large volumes to fund the growing fiscal deficits (despite their denial). The consequential outcome of this is that bond investors make tidy capital gains and the whole risk structure of investment in the EMU is corrupted....
Bill Mitchell – billy blog
Corporate welfare booming in Europe despite the deep crisis being endured by the citizens
Bill Mitchell | Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), at University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia

Book Review: Agent-Based Models In Economics: A Toolkit — Brian Romanchuk

The book Agent-Based Models in Economics: A Toolkit (Amazon affiliate link) is a collection of articles edited by by Domenico Delli Gatti, Giorgio Fagiolo, Mauro Gallegati, Matteo Richiardi, and Alberto Russo. (I will refer to them as "the editors" in this article...) I picked up this book as it appears aimed at my new interest in agent-based models....
Bond Economics
Book Review: Agent-Based Models In Economics: A Toolkit
Brian Romanchuk

See also at Brian's
I have put up a non-paywalled draft PDF about DSGE model notation....
DSGE Notation Comments

Lars P. Syl — How economic orthodoxy protects its dominant position

 Silo effect. the institutional culture is all about protecting and expanding the silo.

Lars P. Syll’s Blog
How economic orthodoxy protects its dominant position
Lars P. Syll | Professor, Malmo University

EconomyNext — Sri Lanka fails to sell 74-pct of Treasury bills at auction amid BOP deficits

Central bank monetizing the debt. More worries about "MMT." 
The rupee is now at over 200 to the US dollar from around 182 at the beginning of 2020.

The implication is that this policy is negatively affecting the exchange rate, importing inflation. But it is difficult to established causality in exchange rate behavior with respect to specific factors.  There are many factors involved.

EconomyNext (Sri Lanka)

H. Res. 267 (IH) - Recognizing the duty of the House of Representatives to abandon Modern Monetary Theory and recognizing that the acceptance of Modern Monetary Theory would lead to higher deficits and higher inflation.

Ha ha.
H. Res. 267 (IH) - Recognizing the duty of the House of Representatives to abandon Modern Monetary Theory and recognizing that the acceptance of Modern Monetary Theory would lead to higher deficits and higher inflation.

Vaccine tracker


Where is Japan and South Korea?

Bitcoin Energy Use - Tesla

 Elon Musk tweet - 

You can now buy a Tesla with Bitcoin 

Henry Manice, Financial Times, tweet - 

Why not cut out the middleman and install a petrol engine?

Keith Hardy - The hidden killer in your home – and how to avoid it

 I haven't checked my area yet, but I have my bedroom window open at night, plus I open the roof hatch as this lets a nice breeze through, as I like the cold air to be able to sleep, so I think I'm okay. Random gas at concentrations found in some British and American homes is more cancerous than asbestos. 

Radon is a radioactive, odourless, colourless gas that is naturally present throughout most of the UK and in several other countries across the globe. It is emitted in varying quantities or concentrations fro1m radioactive elements, for example Uranium, that are naturally present in rocks and soils

Following more detailed research undertaken in the UK during the 1970s and 1980s, it was recognised that concentrations of Radon in residential dwellings and other buildings could reach concentrations of a sufficiently high level to present a material risk of lung cancer.Concentration levels of Radon are measured in Becquerels per cubic metre (Bq/m3). In the UK, the action level is 200 Bq/m3. This represents the recommended limit for the activity concentration of Radon in UK homes. At that level, the lifetime risk of a non-smoker developing lung cancer is less than 1 in 200, but increases to 1 in 7 for a current smoker. Similarly, the lifetime risk increases significantly to 1 in 100 and 1 in 3 respectively, when indoor levels increase to 800 Bq/m3.

Keith Hardy - The hidden killer in your home – and how to avoid it

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

My new podcast episode is out.

King Alfred's Tower Revisited

Some better drone footage of King Alfred's Tower with nice music. And below that is a video with a little bit of the history of the tower and King Alfred himself. 

He was the first king of England, and he was a great strategist who fiercely fought the Vikings. He would often defeat them on land, but was less successful at doing so at sea, until he had built these large, highly manned boats, after which the Vikings gave up and went to France instead. 

King Alfred loved academia, learning, and books, and decided that every Englishman should learn how to read, and so he set up great libraries. 

He was considered to be a kind king, and the video gives you some idea of how important 'big government' is, as long as it is run for the benefit of everyone, not just the rich.

King Alfred’s Tower Stone Footage 

King Alfred The Great and King Alfred's Tower 

China Stipulates Which Permissions Data-Hungry Apps Can Demand — Zhang Chaoyan

For the first time, the country’s top internet authority has set rules for the personal information different types of apps can require from users in exchange for access to basic services....
Sixth Tone
China Stipulates Which Permissions Data-Hungry Apps Can Demand
Zhang Chaoyan

Links — 24 March 2021

India Punchline
Russia, China to resist US but engagement is preferred option
M. K. Bhadrakumar | retired diplomat with the Indian Foreign Service


A high-stakes Abramovich libel case may see the dubious quality of much Western reporting from Russia finally come under scrutiny
Paul Robinson | Professor, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa

Dances with Bears

The Grayzone
Bellingcaught: Who is the mysterious author of Bellingcat’s attacks on OPCW whistleblower?
Aaron Matรฉ

Trump's first tweet using phrase 'Chinese virus' caused increasing anti-Asian hashtags on Twitter: study

Bill Mitchell — JobMaker equals JobFaker – barely an actual job in sight

It is Wednesday and so my light blog writing day today. A few interesting things have come up today and yesterday which will promote further research. Also Week 4 of our edX MOOC – Modern Monetary Theory: Economics for the 21st Century got underway today so there is lots of new content and discussions to check out. The most important revelation in a week of shocking news from the Australian government that illustrates their incompetence was the fact that a job scheme that was meant to have created 10,000 jobs by now has only actually recorded – wait – and whisper this – 521 jobs. And the extent to which the Government is going to try to brush that up as good news and avoid obvious questions like why not just create work rather than try half-baked wage subsidy schemes that had no real chance of working is a thing to behold. Ducking and weaving but demonstrating gross incompetence. The pity is that the Labor Party opposition just keep kicking own goals and cannot be taken seriously....
Bill Mitchell – billy blog
JobMaker equals JobFaker – barely an actual job in sight
Bill Mitchell | Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), at University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia

Swan Vestas Advert 80's -The Art of Marketing

 I was brought up in a working class family, and we were taught to share, not to be selfish, and that being greedy was bad. Then the Conservatives came along in the 1970's and said that being selfish and greedy was good. How did the party of 'family values' get at away with this?

The elite were extra greedy, so they got the economists to say this was especially good, and great for everyone else too. Marketing and propaganda was used sell it while pay and working conditions plummeted, and jobs went abroad.  

Swan Vestas matches were dirt cheap and the lowest quality, so how were the advertising agencies able to market them as more stylish than lighters? BTW, Swan Vestas (red matches) would catch light if you shook them, which is why they developed safety matches, (brown matches).