The Case for Concerted Action
Glenn Greenwald On The New Yorker‘s Admission
The Kaldor-Verdoorn Law conjectures that the causality is mainly from GDP to productivity. It’s not obvious to most economists. They do observe that GDP rises fast when productivity is rising fast but don’t see the direction of causality and assume it’s from the latter to the former....The Case for Concerted Action
Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (aka HPSCI) is Congressman Devin Nunes and he spoke to the press about the allegations swirling around the Trump Presidency and its relationship with Russians. The title from the SLATE piece says it all, GOP intelligence chairman David Nunes: “There’s no evidence of anything” regarding Russia-Trump campaign contacts.…As I have been saying, lots of inference and innuendo, but zero evidence.
Sir Tony Atkinson, the doyen of inequality economics, passed away in January. This column, by a longstanding friend and co-author, outlines his contributions to the analysis and measurement of inequality – and many other areas of economics, including taxation, social protection, and the welfare state. The ultimate goal of Atkinson’s research was to translate economic analysis into policy actions: economics is a tool for understanding the world and taking informed decisions on policies, but economists must strive to communicate their results beyond the narrow circles of decision-makers, making them accessible for public discussion.
The 19th Congress is China’s most important political event since 2012, marking the beginning of President Xi’s second term. The new central party leadership will rule China over the next five years, a critical time for realising the vision of China’s development that Xi set out to achieve.
The Chinese Dream has set two centenary goals. The first is to double China’s 2010 per capita income, making China a ‘moderately well off’ society by 2021, the centenary of the founding of the CCP. The second aims to make China a ‘strong, democratic, civilised, harmonious and modern socialist country by 2049’, the centenary of the founding of the People’s Republic....A hundred years sounds like a long time to Americans, where the country is less than 300 years old. But a hundred years is a drop in the bucket for China, whose history extends across millennia.
Four decades ago, Milton Friedman recommended that central banks like the Federal Reserve pay interest to depository institutions on the reserves...
What does it say about libertarianism that the only country which tried Milton Friedman's ideas was Pinochet's dictatorial Chile? #ISFLC17— Richard 🥛 Spencer (@RichardBSpencer) February 19, 2017
The think tank of the Pentagon wants to divide Syria according to the model of Bosnia. The result would be ethnic cleansing and new, massive flood of immigrants.
The RAND Corporation, a leading US think tank close to the Pentagon, has published a report proposing a "Bosnian model" to resolve the Syrian conflict....Fort Russ
Mass immigration from the Third World is crippling workers in the economy, as Breitbart News reported in July. Every single job created from 2000 to 2014 went to foreign-born workers residing in the U.S.
GOPopulism. https://t.co/77E6gb06qy— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) February 26, 2017
The U.S. intelligence community’s extraordinary campaign of leaks claiming improper ties between President Trump’s team and Russia seeks to ensure a lucrative New Cold War by blocking detente, reports Gareth Porter.Recap of events.
Which of these two, reflects America’s likely path, more accurately? Has the Establishment now succeeded in walking-back Trump’s agenda? Who now speaks for the President?
The answer is not hard to fathom: return to Pat Buchanan’s clear explanation of how Trump became President: “He saw the surging power of American nationalism at home, and of ethno-nationalism in Europe. And he embraced Brexit. While our bipartisan establishment worships diversity, Trump saw Middle America recoiling from the demographic change, brought about by Third World invasions. And he promised to curb them.”
Obviously, it is the Trump-Bannon wing. Were Trump to abandon his reading of the nation and of the Europeans that brought him to the Presidency, he might as well throw in the towel now. He will not be re-elected.Will the Pence-Priebus wing or Trump-Bannon wing win out in setting policy.
So Kenneth Arrow leaves us with three arrows to enrich our understanding of the economic world: 1) markets collectively can never properly deliver every individual’s needs; 2) markets cannot equate supply and demand except under the most unrealistic assumptions and 3) economic growth is not achieved by just meeting the demand of consumers but requires decisions of investors to innovate. Ironically, none of the implications of these economic arrows have been accepted by the owners of capital and their politicians in practical policy. To do so, would be to admit that capitalism does not work for the majority or even much of the time for the capitalists.Michael Roberts' Blog
DC: It’s clear to me there are some sharp questions about the regulatory framework governing social media and the online world in general, questions regulators have been pretty keen to avoid so far. It’s time for them to do so now.Call for some form of censorship of social media to reduce social divisiveness by reweaving the social fabric from above?
As the Internet grows more sophisticated, it is creating new threats to democracy. Social media companies such as Facebook can sort us ever more efficiently into groups of the like-minded, creating echo chambers that amplify our views. It's no accident that on some occasions, people of different political views cannot even understand each other. It's also no surprise that terrorist groups have been able to exploit social media to deadly effect. Welcome to the age of #Republic. In this revealing book, Cass Sunstein, the New York Times bestselling author of Nudge and The World According to Star Wars, shows how today's Internet is driving political fragmentation, polarization, and even extremism--and what can be done about it. Thoroughly rethinking the critical relationship between democracy and the Internet, Sunstein describes how the online world creates "cybercascades," exploits "confirmation bias," and assists "polarization entrepreneurs." And he explains why online fragmentation endangers the shared conversations, experiences, and understandings that are the lifeblood of democracy. In response, Sunstein proposes practical and legal changes to make the Internet friendlier to democratic deliberation. These changes would get us out of our information cocoons by increasing the frequency of unchosen, unplanned encounters and exposing us to people, places, things, and ideas that we would never have picked for our Twitter feed. #Republic need not be an ironic term. As Sunstein shows, it can be a rallying cry for the kind of democracy that citizens of diverse societies most need.
With 1,597,000 unemployed, 2,191,000 inactive but want a job, and 1,118,000 part timers wanting full time why do we need any more?Modern Money Matters
How the Fed Will Hit the Budget With a $50 Billion Charge https://t.co/UBN6a8sTca— The Fiscal Times (@TheFiscalTimes) February 24, 2017
The media has not reported that the National Debt in my first month went down by $12 billion vs a $200 billion increase in Obama first mo.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 25, 2017
The Nuclear Question is becoming increasingly obfuscated by spin and lobbying as the West sleepwalks into Cold War II — a walk made all the more dangerous when the loose lips of the U.S. tweeter-in-chief announced that another nuclear arms race is a great idea (see link, link, link). Two Cold War II issues are central and almost never addressed: What will be the Russians' understanding of all the propaganda surrounding the Nuclear Question and the looming American defense spendup? And how might they act on this understanding?The Blaster
Germany's foreign intelligence agency, the BND, apparently spied on large numbers of foreign journalists overseas over the course of several years, including employees of the BBC, Reuters and the New York Times. Critics see a massive violation of press freedoms.Spiegel Online
The Netflix movie “The White Helmets” may win an Oscar in the “short documentary” category at the Academy Awards on Sunday. It would not be a surprise despite the fact that the group is a fraud and the movie is a contrived infomercial
Awarding “The White Helmets” an Oscar would fit with the desire of Hollywood to appear supportive of “human rights,” even if that means supporting a propaganda operation to justify another bloody “regime change” war in the Middle East.
Much of what people think they know about the White Helmets is untrue. The group is not primarily Syrian; it was initiated by British military contractor James LeMesurier and has been heavily funded (about $100 million) by the U.S., U.K. and other governments. The White Helmets are not volunteers; they are paid, which is confirmed in a Al Jazeera video that shows some White Helmet “volunteers” talking about going on strike if they don’t get paid soon.
Still, most of the group’s heavy funding goes to marketing, which is run by “The Syria Campaign” based in New York. The manager is an Irish-American, Anna Nolan, who has never been to Syria. As an example of its deception, “The Syria Campaign” website features video showing children dancing and playing soccer implying they are part of the opposition demand for a “free and peaceful” Syria. But the video images are taken from a 2010 BBC documentary about education in Syria under the Baath government.The White Helmets as anti-Assad volunteer heroes helping those repressed and attacked by Assad has been debunked as a propaganda hoax. The echo chamber still shamelessly promotes it.
SWL: Accepting the concept of the NAIRU does not mean you have to agree with their judgements. But if you want to argue that they could be doing something better, you need to use the language of macroeconomics.As an applied mathematician, Brian showed how macroeconomists don't know what they are talking about with respect to NAIRU when using the language of macroeconomics because the concept is empty.
Philosophy is a battle against the bewitchment of our intelligence by means of our language. — Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, § 109There are many parallels between economics and philosophy, one of the most evident is unfounded assumptions presumed to be self-evident. Scientific method was developed to circumvent this.
BR: The whole point of the standard NAIRU definition is that it is easy to observe: you just need to back out the acceleration of inflation (keeping in mind there may be other variables whose influence needs to be isolated). However, in the real world, the observed unemployment rate is affected by institutional factors -- which do not exist in a NAIRU model. Since the end result is that NAIRU estimates are inherently unreliable, the concept is wrong by definition.
This is why most mainstream macro has retreated to discussing output gaps of various types. Output gaps have to be inferred via various statistical techniques, and they are inherently fuzzier. It may be that Professor Wren-Lewis has some of these more recent models in mind when he is referring to NAIRU; but that makes as much sense as referring to post-1990 Fed Policy as monetary base targeting.
If you want to use standard academic terms, NAIRU is falsifiable, and was in fact falsified. The generalised output gaps that popped up to replace NAIRU are pretty much unfalsifiable.To a philosopher standing outside economics looking in, it appears that many economists are so intellectually committed to finding a solutions that they convince themselves and each other that they have found one when they have not.
We have got on to slippery ice where there is no friction and so in a certain sense the conditions are ideal, but also, just because of that, we are unable to walk. We want to walk: so we need friction. Back to the rough ground! — Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, § 107
One executive said in discussions with White House officials that his company has 50 participants in a factory apprenticeship program, but could take 500 if enough were qualified. But he said that in his experience, most students coming out of high school lack the math and English skills to absorb technical manuals.
US factory CEOs to Trump: Jobs exist; skills don’t https://t.co/OTk6NsBMNS pic.twitter.com/Jeyd31L1xF— Washington Informer (@DC_Informer) February 23, 2017
So that’s where Europe is headed. First, budgetary discipline will continue to be an anchor principle. Second, getting the budget deficit down or into surplus is a lot easier if you have a trade and current surplus. German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble wants Germany to lead the way on both these scores as a matter of ‘leading by example’. Third, the eurozone is indeed following this example. We can see the numbers; the euro currency area now has a surplus with the rest of the world, where just 6 or seven years ago it had a deficit.
I don’t know how long the EU wants this policy framework to continue. It ism’t clear if this is a ‘ride out the storm’ approach or a permanent policy framework. I believe they want the surpluses to continue indefinitely. But if these surpluses do continue indefinitely, Donald Trump will put Europe in his crosshairs. And we’ll have to see whether he’s all bluster or whether he intends to take action.
Or to put the point more simply: we are divided politically because we are divided structurally by inequalities of access, property, opportunity, and outcome; and the mechanisms of electoral politics are mobilized to challenge and defend the systems that maintain these inequalities.Short summary: social, political and economic asymmetry.
Earlier today, I was listening to an interview with IMF head Christine Lagarde dance around the issue of the unsustainability of Greece’s debt load. And she said something very telling. She said that debt haircuts were not on the table but that maturity extensions and interest rate reductions were, but only AFTER Greece implemented reforms demanded by the Troika."Liberalized free markets and fiscal discipline" is neoliberalism in a nutshell.
What’s important to realize when Lagarde says this is that although she’s talking about Greece, the negotiations with Greece are not really about Greece itself per se. They are about the maintaining or imposing an economic paradigm for every country in the EU that Greece was not meeting – and this is a paradigm that the IMF supports as much as the ECB and the EU. Greece is just being used as an abject lessons for other larger EU economies.
Think of it this way: 25 years ago, the EU signed on to the idea of a single currency in Maastricht. The question marks at the time were Belgium and Italy – Italy because of its constant currency devaluations and Belgium because of high government debt loads. The EU figured out how to deal with Belgium and Italy by creating the stability and growth pact which said that all member states had to keep their deficits under 3% and get their debt under 60%, or at least moving in that direction. Underneath these simple rules lies a whole economic ideology though. And that orthodoxy says long-term growth and a stable currency are best maintained by liberalized free markets and fiscal discipline.…
Russia’s role in Trump’s election has led to a boom in Putinology. But do all these theories say more about us than Putin?The Guardian
As I noted in my last post the Bank of England have released an official policy document that concedes that much of Post-Keynesian endoegnous money theory is indeed correct. Interestingly, they have also released some Youtube clips with the authors where they expound on their work in more details. You can watch these videos at the BoE website here.
The videos are fascinating. The language the authors use — which contains references to ‘fiat money creation’ and money as IOUs — is straight out of either David Graeber’s book Debt: The First 5000 Years or MMT. If I were to guess I would say that it is some combination of both.
This is an enormous step forward. But I found it particularly interesting how young the authors in the videos were. One of them must be in his early 30s or so. It seems that the younger folks in the BoE are finally starting to ‘get it’.
Now, the question is where this might take the BoE if it begins to spread. There are two paths that can be taken now that they’ve gotten the basic mechanics of money creation correct.Econintersect
… on Googling Bastiat + pollution, I came across a remarkable package in which Bastiat anticipates the climate change debate and takes the denialist side in advance.…
What’s striking, though, is [Bastiat's] a priori faith that everything will be OK because of Divine Providence [compare with "spontaneous natural order"], which ensures that human activity tends towards harmony. If that fails, and a laissez-faire economy does in fact produce unsustainable pollution, his whole case collapses.
Of course, it’s possible to salvage a version of laissez-faire in the way suggested by Coase, using newly created property rights. But this requires the admission that property rights are a socially constructed set of rules, enforced by coercion, rather than a category inherent in the natural relationship between people and things. It’s precisely this admission that propertarians have been unwilling/unable to make, and why they still rely on magical thinking like that displayed by Bastiat.
Can America recover ideal rates of growth through interest-rate policies? This important analysis suggests that most economists misunderstand the issue. Updating Keynes, the analysis suggests that fiscal stimulus, labor union bargaining power, and more progressive income taxes are needed to support growth. (The article includes some algebra, which some readers may choose to skip.)
The main points of this paper are that loanable-funds macroeconomic models with their “natural” interest rate do not fit with modern institutions and data. Before getting into the numbers, it makes sense to describe the models and how to think about macroeconomics in the first place....Unfortunately, the article cited is behind a paywall. This is a useful short summary however.
In his Prison Notebooks, Antonio Gramsci wrote: “The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum morbid phenomena of the most varied kind come to pass.”
The world is once again living an interregnum. It is poised between the failed economic model of recovery from the crash of 2007-08 and the birth of a new model, one that would actually work for the majority of Americans....Occasional Links & Commentary
The New Democrats faced a difficult tactical problem, however, in coming up with a workable plan to defeat Ellison. The DNC had proven ineffective and been caught putting its thumb on the scale to try to ensure that Hillary beat Bernie. The New Democrats lacked a strong candidate. They could have supported Ellison, who is widely viewed as likely to be a highly effective DNC leader that will lead the revitalization of the Party. Obama and the Clintons, however, are enraged at the prospect that a Bernie supporter would lead the DNC. Their highest national political priority is defeating Ellison. Do not fall for the “cool Obama” hype. Obama is furious with Bernie and Ellison and has pulled out all the stops to try to prevent progressives’ from challenging his legacy as a New Democrat. The Clintons share his rage....The losers are trying to maintain control after the world has passed them by.
U.S. foreign policy, as I elaborated in the 2003 article, has long been designed not simply to protect U.S.-based firms in their international operations, but to establish the right of the firms to access and security wherever around the world. Oil firms have been especially important in promoting and gaining from this right, but firms from finance to pharmaceuticals and many others have been beneficiaries and promoters of the policy.
Whatever else, as the Iraq and Middle East experience has demonstrated, this right comes at a high cost. The best estimate of the financial cost to the United States of the war in Iraq is $3 trillion. Between the 2003 invasion and early 2017, U.S. military forces suffered 4,505 fatalities in the war, and allied forces another 321. And, of course, most of all Iraqi deaths: estimates of the number of Iraqis killed range between 200,000 and 500,000.Triple Crisis
Two Year german government bonds to New record low https://t.co/3ByDe9ltUj. Crazy stuff!— Maarten van den Berg (@morte1974) February 22, 2017
The paperback edition of Abolish Money (From Economics)! is now available at online booksellers. It will take time for it to appear on some websites.…Bond Economics
The West’s anti-Russian propaganda links Moscow to the blight of “fake news” but the evidence doesn’t connect the two. So, The New York Times makes the case with its own “fake news,” reports Robert Parry.The m.o. on this is usually the same. Reports that are verifiably true but peripheral to the point are introduced first to establish credibility and then reports that are not documented are brought in to persuade uncritical readers (probably most) to accept information that is dubious or bogus to carry home the propaganda point. The key to success is to repeat the narrative.
Earlier this month I spent a fun 3 days at a seminar discussing Market Systems Innovation. No really. I discovered a community of very smart people working on markets, who seem to be on a similar journey to the people working on governance and institutions, who I have spent most of my time with in recent years. Chatham House Rule, so the speakers must remain shrouded in mystery, but I will say it was at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Centre, just to make you jealous....From Poverty to Power
Microsoft’s Bill Gates is one of the richest and most influential people on earth. He announced in 2015 that his Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation was aiming at achieving full digitalization of the payment systems of India and other populous developing countries by 2018. This “financial inclusion” program for India dates back to well before Narendra Modi came to power. It was elevated to official US policy by Executive Order in 2012, because the President saw vital US security interests are at stake....Real-World Economics Review Blog
U.S. President Donald Trump has shown little patience for dissent, but that trait is likely to be tested by his new national security adviser, Army Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster.
McMaster is joining the White House staff with views on Russia, counterterrorism, strengthening the military and other major security issues that diverge not only from those of the Trump loyalists, but also from those the president himself has expressed.…
McMaster will not be alone, however. His prominent administration allies include Defense Secretary Jim Mattis; Marine General Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and Senator John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee; as well as many of the soldiers who have served with him....Reuters
Moody’s Investors Service has changed the outlook for Russia’s sovereign ratings to stable from negative.
Russia’s issuer rating and the rating for Russian government bonds have been affirmed at Ba1, and the short-term rating has been affirmed at Not Prime, the rating agency said in a press release....Johnson's Russia List
Ivan Katchanovski PhD is a researcher and lecturer at the School of Political Studies of the University of Ottawa. The English text of the above interview is published online here on Academia.edu. The original in German is here.
Interviewer: Can you give a very short summary of your theory about the sniper-killings on 20th February in Kiev?
IK: My academic study of the Maidan massacre concludes that this mass killing was a false flag operation, which was rationally planned and carried out with a goal of the overthrow of the government and seizure of power. It found various evidence of the involvement of an alliance of the far right organizations, specifically the Right Sector and Svoboda, and oligarchic parties, such as Fatherland. Concealed shooters and spotters were located in at least 20 Maidan-controlled buildings or areas. The various evidence that the protesters were killed from these locations include some 70 testimonies, primarily by Maidan protesters, several videos of “snipers” targeting protesters from these buildings, comparisons of positions of the specific protesters at the time of their killing and their entry wounds, and bullet impact signs. The study uncovered various videos and photos of armed Maidan “snipers” and spotters in many of these buildings. Unreported revelations from the Maidan massacre trial and the investigations by the Prosecutor General Office of Ukraine, such as forensic ballistic and medical reports, testimonies of eyewitnesses in the investigation documents, newly released videos, and court rulings concerning investigations of the far right involvement in the Maidan massacre, corroborated major findings of my study.
I presented an expanded and updated version of my Maidan massacre paper at the Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association in San Francisco in September 2015. This paper is freely downloadable without any registration from the Social Sciences Research Network and APSA conference websites, and it is also available on my Academia and Researchgate websites. My chapter summarizing the Maidan massacre study is scheduled for publication on February 11, 2016 in a Routledge book edited by two Canadian political scientists. My article, which includes examination of the role of the Maidan massacre in escalation of the conflict in Ukraine into a civil war in Donbas and subsequent Russian military interventions, is forthcoming in a special issue of a British refereed journal concerning the conflict in Ukraine.
AG: I view gold as the primary global currency.OK, we got that cleared up.
China will maintain strong growth in consumption this year with deepening supply-side structural reform, Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng said Tuesday....China on track in shifting away from an investment-export led economy to a consumption-domestic economy.
Consumption contributed to 64.6 percent of China's economic growth in 2016, up 4.9 percentage point compared with the year before, said Chinese Minister of Commerce on Tuesday.
Gao Hucheng, Minister of Commerce, said consumption has become the most important boost in the Chinese economy since 2014, which indicates that the country's economic structure has been undergoing historic changes.
Meanwhile, new characteristics have shown up in Chinese people's consumption. Demands for high-quality, multi-function and intelligent products have been increasing, said Gao. For instance, the sales volume of vehicles has exceeded 28 million, seeing a 13.7 percent year-on-year growth. Sales of SUVs under various brands have increased by 44.6 percent, added the minister.
The e-commerce development is booming in China. The 2016 online turnover has increased by 25.6 percent, accounting for 12.6 percent of the total turnover of the social consumption. "It is hard to imagine how the distribution industry would be like without the internet plus," said Gao.
More trends have also shown up in the consumption. For example, service consumption has taken a larger portion in the total consumption, and consumers have shifted to purchase personalized and customized commodities. A greener trend is on the rise in people's consumption concept as well....
I was eager to read Paul De Grauwe’s The Limits of the Market because I profoundly agree with its premise that the false dichotomy between ‘the state’ and ‘the market’ has led to bad public policies and lower social welfare. The book is a short overview of the flaws of this dichotomous view of the world. It organises its discussion around two sets of reasons why a ‘free market’ is a meaningless abstraction: externalities and ‘internalities’…Short and important. Deals with economic and non-economic factors that influence economic behavior that are not taken into account as information in market behavior.
International trade deals have lost their consensus support as more workers view them as anathema to good-paying jobs, requiring the U.S. politicians to rethink these strategies, writes Andrew Spannaus...
The goal is not to close borders and restrict trade, but to ensure that trade takes place without undermining the social and living standards of developed countries. Regulations need to be drawn up to certify whether companies, or entire countries, comply with certain standards. Some examples include rules on workplace safety, child labor and pollution, which can be enforced through both tariffs and in some cases outright bans.
Selective targeting of low-quality production will be complex at times, in part due to the existence of global supply chains, which exploit comparative advantages in terms of not only labor costs, but also logistics and infrastructure.
Yet the complexity of these issues is no excuse for ignoring the enforcement of provisions that are essential to protect economic well-being. Politicians and economists constantly make assurances that such standards are integral to the notion of free trade, yet on the list of priorities they seem to be squarely at the bottom.
The current political situation offers an opportunity to chart a new course, not of isolationism, but of setting clear rules for trade between countries aiming for high living standards....
The deep state, of course, is not a conspiracy. It is simply the interdependent network of structures where actual power resides (i.e., the military-industrial complex, multinational corporations, Wall Street, the corporate media, and so on). Its purpose is to maintain the stability of the system regardless of which party controls the government. These are the folks, when a president takes office, who show up and brief him on what is and isn’t “possible” given economic and political “realities.”
Despite what Alex Jones may tell you, it is not George Soros and roomful of Jews. It is a collection of military and intelligence officers, CEOs, corporate lobbyists, lawyers, bankers, politicians, power brokers, aides, advisers, and assorted other permanent members of the government and the corporate and financial classes. Just as presidents come and go, so do the individuals comprising the deep state, albeit on a longer rotation schedule.
And, thus, it is not a monolithic entity. Like any other decentralized network, it contains contradictions, conflicts of interest. However, what remains a constant is the deep state’s commitment to preserving the system … which, in our case, that system is global Capitalism.
I’m going to repeat and italicize that to hopefully avoid any misunderstanding. The system the deep state primarily serves is not the United States of America, i.e., the country most Americans believe they live in; the system it serves is globalized Capitalism. The United States, the nation state itself, while obviously a crucial element of the system, is not the deep state’s primary concern. If it were, Americans would all have healthcare, affordable education, and a right to basic housing, like more or less every other developed nation.… [paragraphing introduced for readability]Pretty much as I have been saying.
Mortgage debt has declined by $1.21 trillion from the peak. Studies suggest most of the decline in debt has been because of foreclosures (or short sales), but some of the decline is from homeowners paying down debt (sometimes so they can refinance at better rates).Calculated Risk
Before the new Republican administration has a chance to implement its campaign promises and dismantle the social safety net, it’s useful to remember who in fact is assisted by the existing programs.
According to a new study by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, people of all races and ethnic groups who lack a bachelor’s degree receive significant help from the safety net. But white working-class adults stand out....Occasional Links & Commentary
On November 29, 2016, Mario Draghi, the President of the ECB wrote to Mr Jonás Fernández, a Spanish European Parliament member in reply to a request for clarification from the Chairman of the EP’s Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON). The Letter discussed whether it would be legal under the Lisbon Treaty for the ECB to engage in direct monetary transfers to citizens bypassing the Member States and whether such a policy would be beneficial for economic growth. Several commentators have seized on the response from the ECB as saying that such a policy innovation would be both legal and beneficial. My view is that, in forming this conclusion, they have not fully understood the difference between a monetary and a fiscal operation. While I think the policy would produce positive results, in the sense that it would stimulate growth and employment and reduce unemployment, I also believe it would be illegal under the Treaty. Further, I don’t think it is a progressive position to argue that a group of unelected and unaccountable technocrats in the central bank should be in charge of economic policy. That should be the responsibility of the democratically-elected members of the government who are fully accountable every electoral cycle. The ECB should not become a fiscal agent. Rather, if the Eurozone elites cannot implement (which they cannot) a full federal treasury function then it should disband the monetary union in an orderly way.Bill Mitchell – billy blog
Dmitri Trenin, the director of the Carnegie Moscow Centre, is one of the more even-handed commentators on Russian foreign policy. On the one hand, he isn’t much of a fan of the ‘Putin regime’, and knows how to speak the sort of critical language required to confirm one’s reputation as a respectable thinker in the West. On the other hand, he avoids most of the hyperbole generally associated with commentary on things Russian, and isn’t one of those ‘non-systemic opposition’ types who gives the impression that Russia’s interests are best served by abject surrender to the United States. In light of the West’s current rampant Russophobia, his short (120-page) book Should We Fear Russia? is very timely….Irrussianality
The IMF and other agencies like the World Bank like to argue that economic growth has picked up so much under capitalism that millions have been taken out of poverty. But economic experts in the field of poverty and global inequality reveal from their figures that official ‘poverty’ has declined for just two reasons. The first is that the definition of poverty of those living on less than$1 a day is out of date; and second because nearly all the decline has been in China due to its unprecedented economic growth under a state-controlled and directed economy, still far from market capitalism seen in 19th and 20thcentury capitalism that Piketty and others have analysed. In most low income countries inequality has hardly changed from very high levels.Michael Roberts Blog
Although economic squabbling is fun to follow, a lot of it is the result of the use of fuzzy language. As a result, there is no way of advancing the conversation; arguments are just people clinging to different definitions. The use of mathematics in economics is supposed to eliminate this squabbling; unfortunately, the mathematical models themselves rarely fit reality. However, we need to translate the debates into operational discussions, to see whether they can be applied to the real world. If we turn to my previous article about NAIRU, we need to ask ourselves -- does the definition of NAIRU we are using pass the Santa Claus test?Bond Economics
According to civil right expert and prominent First Amendement Supreme Court lawyer, Jay Sekulow, what the agencies did by leaking the Trump Administration information was not only illegal but "almost becomes a soft coup", one which was spurred by the last minute rule-change by Obama, who intentionally made it far easier for leaks to propagate, and next to impossible to catch those responsible for the leaks.Zero Hedge
The four men are former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton, Army strategist Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, acting national security adviser Keith Kellogg and West Point superintendent Lt. Col. Robert Caslen, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters on Saturday.UPI
Trump was said to have settled on an individual to replace Flynn earlier this week, but the candidate, Ret. Navy Vice Adm. Robert Harward, reportedly turned down the offer. ...
The critical statement polled, in my opinion, was this: “America needs a strong leader to take the country back from the rich and powerful.”...
For an astonishing 75% of those first 9,000 polled agreed that, yes, we did indeed need to be saved from the rich and powerful. From now on, in my opinion, we live in a different world from the one we grew up in.…
By this time some readers may be asking for a profile of the 74% of the final 45,000 who voted against the rich and powerful. Who are these people? Well, they are us. All of us. I have never heard of a vote so uniform: whether Republican 72% or Democrat 77%; Male 74% or Female 75%; White 75% or Black 74%; Rich 70% or Poor 79%; Christian 74% or Muslim 72%; Graduates 68% or not 76%; they all agreed. They have all had it with the rich and powerful. And as for me, I don’t blame them. I think capitalism has lost its way. And has badly diluted the value of democracy along the way. We can only hope it is very temporary....
"Like [Andrew] Jackson's populism, we're going to build an entirely new political movement," [Bannon] says. "It's everything related to jobs. The conservatives are going to go crazy. I'm the guy pushing a trillion-dollar infrastructure plan. With negative interest rates throughout the world, it's the greatest opportunity to rebuild everything. Shipyards, ironworks, get them all jacked up. We're just going to throw it up against the wall and see if it sticks. It will be as exciting as the 1930s, greater than the Reagan revolution — conservatives, plus populists, in an economic nationalist movement."
Bannon represents, he not unreasonably believes, the fall of the establishment. The self-satisfied, in-bred and homogenous views of the establishment are both what he is against and what has provided the opening for the Trump revolution. "The media bubble is the ultimate symbol of what's wrong with this country," he continues. "It's just a circle of people talking to themselves who have no f—ing idea what's going on...
"I am," he says, with relish, "Thomas Cromwell in the court of the Tudors."Bannon has the vision and Trump is the vehicle to actualize it.
Senior White House officials and members of the National Security Council are pushing former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton as a replacement for ousted national security adviser Michael Flynn, according to multiple sources in and out of the White House who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon.
Among Bolton's most vocal supporters are senior administration officials loyal to Flynn and who are upset at the general's firing. Multiple sources described an effort by these Flynn loyalists to ensure that Bolton is selected as his replacement.
The selection of Bolton as the next national security adviser would empower Flynn's allies still in the White House and send a message that his national security vision is represented within the Trump administration. Bolton is also favored by White House staffers who are opposed to the selection of any candidate who criticized President Trump during the 2016 campaign....A worse choice from the point of view of sanity doesn't come to mind. Hopefully DJT has all his marbles working for him on this. "Loose cannon" and "bull in a china shop"are not up to characterizing Bolton.
Russia decided to validate Donbass residents' documents for humanitarian reasons and the presidential decree will remain in force until the Minsk peace deal is implemented, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Saturday.Sputnik International
Professor Simon Wren-Lewis recently wrote an article "NAIRU Bashing," in which he attempts to salvage some value out of the concept. As observed by Ramanan, his defense of NAIRU can be summarised as: There Is No Alternative (TINA), A lot of what Professor Wren-Lewis wrote might appear similar to what I have written on the topic. (I will publish the relevant excerpt from Interest Rate Cycles: An Introduction shortly, in case readers would wish to contrast and compare.) However, the belief that there is no alternative to NAIRU is silly. If economics were scholarly (as I discuss here), knowledge would be additive, and we would not have such debates....Bond Economics
From "The Flaneur, the Sandwichman and the Whore: the politics of loitering," Susan Buck-Morss:The flaneur is the prototype of a new form of salaried employee who produces news / literature / advertisements for the purpose of information / entertainment / persuasion (the forms of both product and purpose are not clearly distinguished). These products fill the "empty" hours which time-off from work has become in the modern city. Writers, now dependent on the market, scan the street scene for material, keeping themselves in the public eye and wearing their own identity like a sandwich board.…
EconoSpeakA salaried flaneur profits by following the ideological fashion. Benjamin connects him ultimately to the police informer and in a late note makes the association: "Flaneur - sandwichman - journalist-in-uniform.The latter advertises the state, no longer the commodity." In an economically precarious and ideologically extremist climate like the 1930s the penalty for a writer's refusal to toe the political line could be great.
There is no way in which the lenders did expect Greece to grow. In fact, the IMF was the main lender. It said that Greece cannot grow, under the circumstances that it has now.
What do you do in a case where you make a loan to a country, and the entire staff says that there is no way this country can repay the loan? That is what the IMF staff said in 2015. It made the loan anyway – not to Greece, but to pay French banks, German banks and a few other bondholders – not a penny actually went to Greece. The junk economics they used claimed to have a program to make sure the IMF would help manage the Greek economy to enable it to repay. Unfortunately, their secret ingredient was austerity....
So, the question is, why does this junk economics continue, decade after decade? The reason is that the loans are made to Greece precisely because Greece couldn’t pay. When a country can’t pay, the rules at the IMF and EU and the German bankers behind it say, don’t worry, we will simply insist that you sell off your public domain. Sell off your land, your transportation, your ports, your electric utilities. This is by now a program that has gone on and on, decade after decade....
So they’re making an example of Greece. They’re going to show that finance rules, and in fact that is why both Trump and Ted Malloch have come up in support of the separatist movement in France. They’re supporting Marine Le Pen, just as Putin is supporting Marine Le Pen. There’s a perception throughout the world that finance really is a mode of warfare.
If they can convince countries somehow to adopt junk economics and pursue policies that will destroy themselves, then they’ll be easy pickings for foreign investors, and for the globalists to take over other economies. So, it’s a form of war....One of Michael Hudson's better ones.
The registration signals the first trademark Trump has been granted in China during his presidency, following decade-long efforts to "wrest back" his name from a Chinese citizen named Dong Wei, the Associated Press reported on Tuesday.
Dong filed the trademark application in December 2006 for use in the decoration and repair of residential properties and hotels, which was two weeks earlier than that of Trump.
As a result, Chinese authorities turned down Trump's application due to the "first come, first serve" mechanism....
Zhou Dandan, a lawyer from the Beijing-based Unitalen Attorneys at Law who handled the case, said that the decision was based on Chinese trademark law. "Under the regulation, other individuals except the person himself are forbidden from registering the names of prominent political, economic, and religious figures," Zhou told the Global Times on Thursday.
Trump was little-known in China 10 years ago, and the trademark registered by Dong was not linked to the U.S. president at that time, she noted. But when Trump became president, "abundant evidence became available invalidating Dong's trademark," Zhou said.
Trump's right to use his name in construction services after many years of failure has sparked concerns in the U.S. over whether the ruling has broader political implications.
Richard Painter, chief White House ethics lawyer under President George W. Bush, was quoted by the Associated Press as saying that "any special treatment from China would mean that Trump effectively accepted a present from Beijing, an act that would violate the constitution."Ecns
Not just the "Analects" but other Chinese classic texts are also doing well on the market. The phenomenon has surprised publishers, who have been impressed by readers' eagerness to read the original texts - composed in an ancient script not easily accessible to modern Chinese speakers - first-hand.