Monday, January 22, 2018

Bill Mitchell — Greece – the next bailout is just around the corner

When the latest Greek bailout deal between the Greek government and the European Commission/IMF) was concluded on June 16, 2017, I concluded that it was designed to fail. Please read my blog – Latest Greek bailout – a recipe designed to fail. Despite all the statements from the European Commission and the IMF to the contrary, the terms of the deal with the Greek government confirms that these institutions had abandoned any pretense to being interested in serious economic policy. For the European Commission, the desired irrevocable status of the euro, as a political statement, is all it seems interested in when it comes to Greece. They just don’t want to admit that Greece cannot reasonably function in this monetary union. This deal only stalled reality for yet another day and the only goal it serves is to keep Greece using a currency it cannot afford to use. And now the reality is emerging that the Greek economy will need a further bailout to survive for another period. The latest analysis from the German research group – Centrum für europäische Politik – shows that Greece remains close to insolvent and cannot survive within the Eurozone on its own. One has to ask what has all the austerity been for if the patient is still on life support some 10 years later. We know the answer.

The characters within and outside of the European Commission that are bent on maintaining the Eurozone status quo no matter what have regularly told us that the Greek crisis is over....
Bill Mitchell – billy blog
Greece – the next bailout is just around the corner
Bill Mitchell | Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), at University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia

Gordon M. Hahn — Russian Propaganda Machine: Much Ado About Little as Compared with Western Stratcomm

Much is being made about the ostensibly omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent Russian propaganda machine. In the Western view, it decides Western elections and threatens the ‘global liberal order’. In fact, an anti-Putin media organ has published a comparison of the resources devoted to propaganda or ‘strategic communications (stratcomm) by Russian and just the US (excluding European) governments. It demonstrates that the American propaganda machine alone is approximately 3-4 times more robust than Moscow’s (https://meduza.io/en/short/2017/09/14/comparing-russian-and-american-government-propaganda)....
Russian and Eurasian Politics
Russian Propaganda Machine: Much Ado About Little as Compared with Western Stratcomm
Gordon M. Hahn, analyst and Advisory Board member at Geostrategic Forecasting Corporation, member of the Executive Advisory Board at the American Institute of Geostrategy, a contributing expert for Russia Direct, a senior researcher at the Center for Terrorism and Intelligence Studies, Akribis Group, and; and an analyst and consultant for Russia – Other Points of View

See also

RT
Wish I had direct line with Putin, but I don’t – RT Editor-in-Chief

Ray McGovern — Foxes in Charge of Intelligence Hen House

We learned in recent days that the FBI and the National Security Agency “inadvertently” deleted electronic messages relating to reported felonies, but one noxious reality persists: No one in the FBI or NSA is likely to be held to account for these “mistakes.”
It is a 70 year-old tradition. Today’s lack of accountability is enabled by (1) corruption at the top of intelligence agencies; (2) the convenient secrecy behind which their leaders hide; (3) bureaucratic indignities and structural flaws in the system; (4) the indulgence/complicity of most of the “mainstream media;” and (5) the eunuchs leading the Congressional “oversight” committees, who — history shows — can be bullied by threats, including blackmail, a la former longtime FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover....
No accountability = license to abuse power.

Consortium News
Foxes in Charge of Intelligence Hen House
Ray McGovern

also

Disobedient Media
Documents Reveal The NSA Is An Agency Gone Rogue As FISA 702 Is Reauthorized
Elizabeth Vos

Dirk Ehnts — Lecture tonight at Hamburg University


MMT in Germany.
Tonight at 6PM I will give a lecture with the title Modern Money Theory and European Macroeconomics – an Alternative to the Policy of Austerity?. It takes place at room S27 at Von-Melle-Park 9, Hamburg University. The lecture is part of a series organized by AK Plurale Ökonomik Hamburg and will be held in English. More information is available here.
econoblog 101
Lecture tonight at Hamburg University
Dirk Ehnts | Lecturer at Bard College Berlin

RUeconomics — Germans tell NATO that a war with Russia is "suicide" - they would know

The German Contra Magazin called on NATO to understand that a war against Russia is "suicide". Readers of the publication noted that Germany remembers this especially well....
In NATO, there are forces that are convinced of the correctness of a "military solution" of confrontation with Russia. However, anyone who attacks the Russians "actually commits suicide" because of the strength of Russian weapons and Moscow's readiness to use them in case of a threat to its security. An author of Contra Magazin, Ernst Planner, singles out the Iskander-M complexes, capable of "flying to Warsaw in two minutes, and four to Berlin."

In addition, NATO defense equipment is obsolete when it comes to the Iskanders, as they can fly in the mesosphere.
According to the journalist, NATO should have no doubts that the Russians, whose patriotism has increased against the backdrop of confrontation with the West, will "press the button" to defend their homeland.

In this case, the "madmen" who started the war, whether the US or the "nuclear dwarfs" Britain and France, will not stand a chance. Russia can destroy any external threat, and realist politicians (Planner places Trump and his associates among them) are well aware of this.
Some Germans getting concerned about trigger-happy Americans?

In trying to gain control over Russia, the US is more likely to loss control over Europe.

Fort Russ
Germans tell NATO that a war with Russia is "suicide" - they would know
RUeconomics - translated by Inessa Sinchougova

See also
The British Armed Forces are lagging behind the Russian army, as stated by the chief of the British General Staff, Nick Carter.
Carter stressed the seriousness of the threat, which, in his opinion, is represented by Russian cruise missiles successfully utilised in Syria. London does not have any protection from them, the head of the General Staff believes.
Won't result in a change in policy but rather increased military spending to fuel a new arms race.

Britain concerned about superiority of Russian Armed Forces
RIA - translated by Inessa Sinchougova

See also

Professor Robinson comments.
In a happy coincidence of timing, the head of the British Army (of which once, a long time ago, I was a member), General Sir Nick Carter, has provided us with a relevant case study to chew upon in our class. The BBC reports that in a speech tonight to the Royal United Services Institute, General Carter will argue that, ‘Britain’s armed forces risk falling behind Russia without more investment.’ According to the BBC, General Carter ‘will say the Army’s ability to respond to threats “will be eroded if we don’t keep up with our adversaries” … He will add that Russia is building an increasingly aggressive expeditionary force, which already boasts capabilities the British Army would struggle to match.’
And this is where Russia comes in useful. By exaggerating the Russian threat, the British army can make a claim to an increased share of the the country’s resources. The connection between the two – exaggerating threats and claiming resources – is quite explicit in this case.
We see here how the military industrial complex works. The army makes wild claims to justify its budget; the defence minister and his bureaucracy support the claims; institutions such as RUSI spread the word further among those who influence public opinion; and the press does its bit by giving space to the exaggerations. This isn’t a conspiracy – no doubt all these people believe in what they are doing. Long exposure to a given set of institutions tends to make people identify the national interest with those institutions’ interests. But the two aren’t the same. The British nation – that is to say its people – don’t benefit from conflictual relations with Russia; nor do they benefit from spending extra money on defence rather than on more productive activities (or alternative getting their money back in the form of tax cuts).
Irrussianality
The national interest?
Paul Robinson | Professor, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa

also

Missed opportunity.
In the 1990s, American President George Bush Snr seriously considered the option of including Russia in the Strategic Defense Initiative (SOI) program, also known as 'Star Wars', as its partner. This is reported with reference to the newly declassified documents of the British government....
Declassified: How 1990s Russia almost became part of a US alliance
Vesti - translated by Inessa Sinchougova

John Helmer — The CIA Bull In Glenn Simpson’s Russia Shop


Another case in which investigators fail to ask the right questions.

Norbert Häring — The curious silence of the British media regarding Mark Carney and the secretive G30


Central bank "independence." Say again?

Oh, right. Central bank independence means political indolence of technocrats from influence or intrusion on the part of elected representatives. It has nothing to do with influence by financial industry cronies.

Real-World Economics Review Blog
The curious silence of the British media regarding Mark Carney and the secretive G30

Ramanan — New York On Glenn Greenwald


Short overview of New York Magazine's take on Greenwald on Trumpgate and Russiagate. 

The whole article at New York is worth a read.

Example.
Greenwald is no longer invited on MSNBC, and he’s portrayed in the Twitter fever swamp as a leading villain of the self-styled Resistance. “I used to be really good friends with Rachel Maddow,” he says. “And I’ve seen her devolution from this really interesting, really smart, independent thinker into this utterly scripted, intellectually dishonest, partisan hack.” His view of the liberal online media is equally charitable. “Think about one interesting, creative, like, intellectually novel thing that [Vox’s] Matt Yglesias or Ezra Klein have said in like ten years,” he says. “In general, they’re just churning out Democratic Party agitprop every single day of the most superficial type.” (Reached for comment, none of these people would respond to Greenwald.)
Couldn't agree more. But perviously to this, Maddow's silence when Cenk left MSNBC because he refused to parrot the party line was an early tell. 

Regarding Klein and Yglesias, once one is in the bubble, it's only a matter of time. Same for Maddow, et al. 

The Case for Concerted Action
New York On Glenn Greenwald
V. Ramanan

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Reuters — The World's Richest 1% Took Home 82% of Wealth Last Year, Oxfam Says

Four out of every five dollars of wealth generated in 2017 ended up in the pockets of the richest 1%, while the poorest half of humanity got nothing, a report published by Oxfam found on Monday.
As global political and business leaders gather for this week’s World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, the charity’s report highlights a global system that rewards the super-rich and neglects the poor....
“The economic model is not working at all,” Oxfam report co-author, Iñigo Macías Aymar, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “The way this wealth is being distributed we are really worried, it’s being concentrated in fewer hands.”...

Bill Mitchell — The GFC only temporarily interrupted the trend towards rising inequality

The UK Guardian Editorial ran a sub-header yesterday (January 21, 2018) “Democracies will fall under the spell of populists like Donald Trump if they fail to deal with the fallout of globalisation?”, which I thought reflected the misunderstandings that so-called progressive have about ‘globalisation’ and its impacts on the capacities of the sovereign state. The UK Guardian Editorial was responding to the release of the latest Oxfam report (released January 16, 2018) – An Economy for the 99%: It’s time to build a human economy that benefits everyone, not just the privileged few – timed to coincide with the gathering of “billionaires and corporate executives” at Davos this week. The Oxfam report reveals further staggering shifts in inequality across the globe, that the GFC barely interrupted. A major shift in political sentiment on the Left is needed to arrest these trends before they break out in destructive social instability....
Bill Mitchell – billy blog
The GFC only temporarily interrupted the trend towards rising inequalityBill Mitchell | Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), at University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia

Also
Logo competition
I am launching a competition among budding graphical designers out there to design a logo and branding for the MMT University, which we hope will start offering courses in October 2018.
The prize for the best logo will be personal status only and the knowledge that you are helping a worthwhile (not-for-profit) endeavour.
The conditions are simple.
Submit your design to me via E-mail.
A small group of unnamed panelists will select the preferred logo. We might not select any of those submitted.
It should be predominantly blue in colour scheme. It should include a stand-alone logo and a banner to head the WWW presence.
By submitting it you forgo any commercial rights to the logo and branding. In turn, we will only use the work for the MMT University initiative. It will be a truly open source contribution.
The contest closes at the end of March 2018.

Eugene K. Chow — China May Have Solved the One Thing That Was Poised to Stop Its Military Rise

Chinese engineering has become so advanced that German jet engines could soon get a major boost from China.
Officials in China have begun talks to sell sophisticated aerospace technology and manufacturing equipment to Germany for the production of high-performance jet engines....
Discussions for the sale are still in the early stages, but even the possibility of an agreement with Germany, which created the world’s first production-ready jet engine and has long been revered for its design and manufacturing prowess, is a major victory for China as it seeks to shift its reputation away from cheaply made knockoffs to high-end innovation. 
China on track to follow Japan and South Korea?


Also

The Chinese Are on the Verge of Dominating a New Domain: Near Space
Robert Work | US deputy secretary of defense from 2014 to 2017

Reuters — Senator says FBI lost crucial texts tied to Clinton probe


The dog ate my homework.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has lost about five months worth of text messages between two staffers who worked on probes into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s emails and possible collusion between Russia and President Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, according to a Republican lawmaker.

Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson, who chairs the Senate Homeland Security Committee, revealed in a Jan. 20 letter that the FBI’s technical system failed to preserve texts that were exchanged between Lisa Page, a lawyer, and Peter Strzok, an agent, between mid-December 2016 through mid-May of 2017.

A spokesman for the FBI and a spokeswoman for the Justice Department declined to comment....

Add another batch of potentially damaging evidence to the mountain of missing documents.
The FBI “failed to preserve” five months worth of text messages exchanged between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, the two FBI employees who made pro-Clinton and anti-Trump comments while working on the Clinton email and the Russia collusion investigations.
The disclosure was made Friday in a letter sent by the Justice Department to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC).
The Daily Caller
FBI ‘Failed To Preserve’ Five Months Of Text Messages Between Anti-Trump FBI Agents
Chuck Ross

Related
There is a growing consensus among many observers in Washington that the national security agencies have become completely politicized over the past seventeen years and are now pursuing selfish agendas that actually endanger what remains of American democracy.
As Philip Giraldi notes, up until recently it has been habitual to refer to such activity as the Deep State, which is perhaps equivalent to the Establishment in that it includes financial services, the media, major foundations and constituencies, as well as lobbying groups, but we are now witnessing an evolutionary process in which the national security regime is exercising power independently.
Nowhere is that "independence" of the 'state within a state' more evident than in the blatant and egregious news this week that The National Security Agency destroyed surveillance data it pledged to preserve in connection with pending lawsuits and apparently never took some of the steps it told a federal court it had taken to make sure the information wasn’t destroyed, according to recent court filings.
As Politico reports, the agency tells a federal judge that it is investigating and "sincerely regrets its failure."
Zero Hedge
NSA "Sincerely Regrets" Deleting All Bush-Era Surveillance Data It Was Ordered To Preserve

Jason Smith — Money is the aether of macroeconomics

So I've never really understood Modern Monetary Theory (MMT). In some sense, I can understand it as a counter to the damaging "household budget" and "hard money" views of government finances. To me, it still cedes the equally damaging "money is all-important" message of monetarism and so-called Austrian school that manifests even today when a "very serious person" tells you it's really the Fed, not Congress or the President that controls the path of the economy and inflation when neither inflation nor recessions are well-understood in academic macroeconomics. People have a hard time giving up talking about money...
Information Transfer Economics
Money is the aether of macroeconomics
Jason Smith

Patrick Cockburn — It’s time we saw economic sanctions for what they really are – war crimes

The record of economic sanctions in forcing political change is dismal, but as a way of reducing a country to poverty and misery it is difficult to beat. UN sanctions were imposed against Iraq from 1990 until 2003. Supposedly, it was directed against Saddam Hussein and his regime, though it did nothing to dislodge or weaken them: on the contrary, the Baathist political elite took advantage of the scarcity of various items to enrich themselves by becoming the sole suppliers.…
There is nothing very new in this. Economic sanctions are like a medieval siege but with a modern PR apparatus attached to justify what is being done. A difference is that such sieges used to be directed at starving out a single town or city while now they are aimed at squeezing whole countries into submission....
Non-combatants bear the brunt of economic warfare. This is not "collateral damage." A civilian population is targeted intentionally in the expectation of fomenting internal strife that will weaken the regime, and ideally spark revolt.

Independent (UK)
It’s time we saw economic sanctions for what they really are – war crimes
Patrick Cockburn

Joaquin Flores — Assange confirms: hit piece on Fort Russ backed by Neocons

Julian Assange has made it clear what his research has uncovered about the 'research' used by one of FRN's (Fort Russ News) opponents - the billionaire blog known as 'Vice News'. Over a month ago in December, Vice News wrote a hit piece in which Fort Russ was singularly named and singled out as a particularly pernicious outlet of 'fake news'. In particular, their slanderous claim was based upon the 'data' compiled by a shadily financed method it called 'Hamilton 68'. Supposedly a 'score' which 'rates' a non NATO non Israel compliant news source based upon it's 'friendliness' to the 'Putin and Assad regimes'.

We struck back, exposing Vice News as an instrument of the US and Zionist, Trans-Atlantic power elite. We showed that the Hamilton 68 matrix offered zero published methodological framework. In other words, as Assange as come forward to say, it's 'unfalsifiable'.

But we didn't know until just a few days ago that this 'method' is sponsored by some of the very well known neocon war criminals, responsible for millions of confirmed murders world-wide....
Fort Russ
Assange confirms: hit piece on Fort Russ backed by Neocons
Joaquin Flores | Editor-in-Chief of Fort Russ News, as well as the Director of the Belgrade based think-tank, the Center for Syncretic Studies.

Michael Roberts — The macro: what’s the big idea?

What Skidelsky and other critics of mainstream economics (both in its micro and macro parts) fail to recognise is that no new big idea willappear because mainstream economics is a deliberate result of the need to avoid considering the reality of capitalism. Its theories are ideological justifications of capitalism( its supposed tendency to harmonious growth, equilibrium and equality). When reality does not bear out the mainstream, it is ignored. That’s because ‘mainstream’ means support for the existing dominant ideology.
‘Political economy’ started as an analysis of the nature of capitalism on an ‘objective’ basis by the great classical economists Adam Smith, David Ricardo, James Mill and others. But once capitalism became the dominant mode of production in the major economies and it became clear that capitalism was another form of the exploitation of labour (this time by capital), then economics quickly moved to deny that reality. Instead, mainstream economics became an apologia for capitalism, with general equilibrium replacing real competition; marginal utility replacing the labour theory of value and Say’s law replacing crises.
Even the so-called Keynesian revolution that came out of the experience of the Great Depression was hardly ever applied and was soon dumped when capitalism faced renewed crisis in the 1970s. The Keynesians are now either advocates of theory that is ‘good enough’ or critics with no ‘big new idea’.
The new "big idea" needs to be a framework for generating competing theories. Rationality based on microfoundations and general equilibrium assuming full employment isn't it. Now the question is what the next iteration is.

That would require admitting the nature of contemporary financial and managerial capitalism, for one thing, and, more specifically, the role of power in rent extraction, which the "mainstream" is so far unwilling to do.

This would involve integrating economics and finance, rather than treating them as separate and unrelated disciplines owing to the erroneous assumption of money neutrality. As a consequence, this would necessitate operational analysis of monetary regimes based on the difference between currency issuer and currency users.

I would envision the new big idea being a fusion of Post Keynesianism and Institutionalism as MMT has done, along with Marxian economics based on class power.

Michael Roberts Blog
The macro: what’s the big idea?
Michael Roberts

Aditya Chakrabortty - Britain is being stalked by a zombie elite – time to take them on

What to do when our economy benefits only the few, but politicians seem powerless to change it? This new series, called the Alternatives, follows communities who are working out their own answers



The technocrats have failed us with their economic theories based on mathematical gobbledygook.  Look at the mess it has created? We have had over 40 years of Thathcherism and they say we need more of the same for it to get better. More austerity; less public provision; more rip off Britain fleeced by the One Percent. How much further has our society got to plunge before people realise they are being duped? The crappy PPP's and privatisations run by crappy companies providing crappy services. Rip off Britain where the zombie banks - that are supposed to be the pinnacle of capitalism - are kept alive by tax payers most of whom earn very little. KV 

Aditya Chakrabortty - The Guardian


This is the age of the zombie. The undead maraud around our popular culture. Stick on the telly, and they’re attacking Jon Snow in Game of Thrones. At the cinema, reanimated carcasses lurch through everything from Resident Evil to World War Z. The headlines might burst with blundering boastful strongmen, but our nightmares are full of blank-eyed walking corpses.
Unthinking, unquestioning, neither alive nor dead, the zombie is horrific. It is also us.
Britain in 2018 is stalked by zombie ideas, zombie politicians, zombie institutions – stripped of credibility and authority, yet somehow still presiding over our lives. Nowhere is this more true than in the way we run our economy.
This September marks the 10th anniversary of the death of Lehman Brothers. In autumn 2008, the banks broke, the governments stepped in – and the cast-iron premises that underpin our economic system were exposed as fiction for all to see on the Ten O’Clock News. Yet a decade later, those dead ideas still walk among us.
They form what John Quiggin at the University of Queensland terms zombie economics – dogmas now cracked beyond repair, but which continue to shape British society.
Austerity – the policy that more than any other will define this decade – was lifted by George Osborne straight out of Margaret Thatcher’s handbag. He justified it with zombie rhetoric about how business was being “crowded out” by childcare centres and the rest of the public sector, and how 21st-century sovereign countries could be run just like household budgets. Tax cuts for “wealth creators” and privatisations of the few remaining national assets: all utter zombie-ism.
And this was no one-party game. Labour frontbenchers from Andy Burnham to Chuka Umunna spent the first half of this decade pleading guilty to the trumped-up charge of creating a debt crisis. Labour councils are among those pursuing outrageous privatisations. And over the past four decades both sides have adopted as an article of faith the idea that politics is about What Works – and that What Works is a mix of Potemkin markets and crude managerialism. From Tony Blair to David Cameron and Nick Clegg, politics was no longer about left battling right – but technocrats and open-necked Oxford philosophy, politics and economics graduate special advisers who “got it” versus the dinosaurs and well-meaning naifs.
In this way, a broken economy has been force-fed more of the same ideas that helped to break it. The outcome has been almost predictably dire.
The weakest recovery in three centuries, according to former Bank of England rate-setter Danny Blanchflower. The severest squeeze on living standards since the Napoleonic wars, going by the Resolution Foundation’s projections. And the deadline to clear the government overdraft – the ostensible alibi for this entire fiasco – has been pushed back and back, from 2015 to 2031.
One lesson of the 1930s and the 1970s is that when capitalism fails this badly, it jeopardises the very functioning of democracy. So it is starting to prove today.
Cameron and Osborne led the establishment in campaigning against Brexit, but it was their austerity that drove voters towards it. The areas hardest hit by the Tories’ benefit cuts, according to economists Steve Fothergill and Christina Beatty at Sheffield Hallam University, were “older industrial areas, less prosperous seaside towns, some London boroughs”. Which is to say, a good half of Brexitland.
Similarly, the minority government that Theresa May tries to run has no chance of again becoming “strong and stable” while the average worker is earning less than they were a decade ago. No poll, no byelection in 2018 will determine the Tories’ standing and political stability as starkly as this one economic fact: the link between growing GDP and rising weekly wages has been severed, for what the Institute for Public Policy Research calculates is the first time in recorded history.
At the heart of modern capitalism is a promise: work hard and you will get on. Britain’s political classes can no longer keep that promise, and the consequences of that take us into politically uncharted territory.
The student radical, the frustrated lawyer: these are the eternal faces of political dissent. Social upheaval has always been initiated by the young and angry. But the nurse at the food bank, the council employee in a homeless shelter: these political actors are new and we don’t know what script they will follow.
Of Philip II of Spain it was said: “No experience of the failure of his policy could shake his belief in its essential excellence.” Not so Theresa May. Her team bears none of the blithely cynical cockiness of Cameron’s mob. They merely serve voters the same old failed policies because they have run out of both ideas and parliamentary muscle.
Now the prime minister rails against “burning injustices”, while doing nothing meaningful about them. And to watch chancellor Philip Hammond or Bank of England governor Mark Carney as they defend their latest damp squib is to glimpse members of the elite who reek of exhaustion, having riffled through all the pages in their textbooks without getting a good answer. Record-low interest rates; £435bn pumped into financial markets through quantitative easing; tens of millions chucked at corporations, the rich and property developers: none of these policies have delivered what their authors promised.
And so British politics has reached the deepest state of zombie-ism: a zombie minority government, implementing zombie economics, underpinned by zombie ideas.
Meanwhile, the economy gets ever more broken. Britain has both the world’s leading financial centre and proportionately lower corporate investment than any of our major competitors. London boasts more billionaires than any other city in the world, yet one in five of the country’s workers earn less than a living wage. While Westminster politicians bang on about devolution, the regional wealth gap in the UK is bigger than in any other member of the EU. Milan and Naples; Frankfurt and Dresden; Bucharest and Transylvania: none of them are as far apart as stucco-fronted west London and the Welsh valleys.
And if you want a tale of misplaced priorities, try this one: Amazon, Facebook, Apple, eBay and Starbucks put together pay less in tax to the British exchequer than the five biggest cooperatives – including such titans as Arla Foods. Yet it’s the Silicon Valley giants who are feted by ministers and given public money. The taxpayer even paid for the roads laid to Amazon’s Swansea warehouse.
So at just the point when alternatives are in greatest demand, where is the left? Still on the subs’ bench. Labour’s former leader Ed Miliband was an astute critic of the rottenness of capitalism. Jeremy Corbyn is the first party chief to promise to end austerity and kickstart a major public-works programme. But when asked what Labour would do to tackle Britain’s fundamental problems, Corbyn and John McDonnell struggle.
The same goes for academia, pressure groups and thinktanks. With Britain already having suffered one lost decade, a murmuring catastrophism has set in among our intellectuals. Mainstream-left politics remains stuck between two cliches. Either: well, we used to do things differently (cue sepia-tinted nostalgia for the establishment of the NHS and huge public borrowing). Or: the Germans do it, and it’s done them no harm (along with wistfulness for a proper industrial policy).
This is totally understandable; but utterly ruinous. Forty years ago, Thatcher gravely intoned that There Is No Alternative – then set about bulldozing the institutions that might incubate anything of the sort. Her political children have carried on the job.
Now the unions are withered; the universities are hamster wheels; the regional business elites have been bought out by the City spivs; the councils are dumbwaiters for Whitehall’s cuts; the independent tenants’ associations have gone the way of council-housing stock; the BBC is for ever on the back foot; and local and regional newspapers are at death’s door.
And so British politics has reached the deepest state of zombie-ism: a zombie minority government, implementing zombie economics, underpinned by zombie ideas.
Meanwhile, the economy gets ever more broken. Britain has both the world’s leading financial centre and proportionately lower corporate investment than any of our major competitors. London boasts more billionaires than any other city in the world, yet one in five of the country’s workers earn less than a living wage. While Westminster politicians bang on about devolution, the regional wealth gap in the UK is bigger than in any other member of the EU. Milan and Naples; Frankfurt and Dresden; Bucharest and Transylvania: none of them are as far apart as stucco-fronted west London and the Welsh valleys.
And if you want a tale of misplaced priorities, try this one: Amazon, Facebook, Apple, eBay and Starbucks put together pay less in tax to the British exchequer than the five biggest cooperatives – including such titans as Arla Foods. Yet it’s the Silicon Valley giants who are feted by ministers and given public money. The taxpayer even paid for the roads laid to Amazon’s Swansea warehouse.
So at just the point when alternatives are in greatest demand, where is the left? Still on the subs’ bench. Labour’s former leader Ed Miliband was an astute critic of the rottenness of capitalism. Jeremy Corbyn is the first party chief to promise to end austerity and kickstart a major public-works programme. But when asked what Labour would do to tackle Britain’s fundamental problems, Corbyn and John McDonnell struggle.
The same goes for academia, pressure groups and thinktanks. With Britain already having suffered one lost decade, a murmuring catastrophism has set in among our intellectuals. Mainstream-left politics remains stuck between two cliches. Either: well, we used to do things differently (cue sepia-tinted nostalgia for the establishment of the NHS and huge public borrowing). Or: the Germans do it, and it’s done them no harm (along with wistfulness for a proper industrial policy).
This is totally understandable; but utterly ruinous. Forty years ago, Thatcher gravely intoned that There Is No Alternative – then set about bulldozing the institutions that might incubate anything of the sort. Her political children have carried on the job.
Now the unions are withered; the universities are hamster wheels; the regional business elites have been bought out by the City spivs; the councils are dumbwaiters for Whitehall’s cuts; the independent tenants’ associations have gone the way of council-housing stock; the BBC is for ever on the back foot; and local and regional newspapers are at death’s door.
But despair is a luxury good – and it’s not one we can afford right now. If people on the left don’t put forward serious, workable alternatives to the busted British model, the tousle-haired public schoolboys of the Brexit-braying hard right will fill the vacuum with their toxic delusions. Fewer workers’ rights! More tax cuts! Make jingoism great again!
In my reporting for this paper, one of the strongest themes is of communities, discarded by the market and disregarded by the state, trying to work out their own answers to the big questions. Questions such as: where will we live? How shall we heat our homes?
In 21st-century Britain, where politicians and pundits prattle on about robots and artificial intelligence, it’s the basics of economic life that are most political. Things such as housing, work, food supply. It’s those subjects and that seam – outside the big, often-punitive state and the global, short-termist market – that we must mine first.
And that’s where this new series will focus. Every other Wednesday, I’ll investigate real-world examples of people doing things differently. We’ll meet councillors who are extending local government far beyond collecting the bins; housing activists turning themselves into property developers; and energy bosses who actually ask customers how their companies should be run. Much of the reporting will be from Britain, but we’ll also look at other parts of Europe (including Germany) and further afield.
Stack them all together and the grand lie of Thatcherism is exposed. There are alternatives. We can do things differently.
None of the ideas in this series were dreamed up by some prodigy floating on a lotus leaf down from ivory towers. None are wrinkle-free. Their authors are real people, working within real constraints, who often struggle with a dysfunctional banking system or unhelpful national policies. As well as exploring the possibilities, we’ll be honest about their limitations.
But now is the time for experiments and arguments. To reacquaint our economy with the concept of democracy. To, finally, slay those zombies.


Brian Romanchuk — The Highly Predictable Treasury Bond Bear Market


Brian gives a simple and accessible explanation of bond market dynamics based on his considerable experience in the field as a "quant."

Bond Economics
The Highly Predictable Treasury Bond Bear Market
Brian Romanchuk

Venezuela daily dole equivalent: 5 cents


Not much munnie in USD terms being issued for their Basic Income Guaranty in that shit hole these days. 

Looks like blockchain coins are going to have to come to the rescue in the turd world.




Blockchain's Key Feature


No authority:





It's a libertarian utopia... and really gaining in popularity and acceptance.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

PCR - Russiagate Has Blown Up In The Face Of Its Originators—the FBI, DOJ, and Hillary


Have the FBI, the CIA, and Hilary's team have been caught staging a coup?

Paul Craig Roberts
It is exactly as I told you. Russiagate is a conspiracy between the FBI, the DOJ, and the Hillary campaign to overturn Donald Trump’s election. We have treason committed at the highest levels of the FBI and Department of Justice and the Democratic National Committee.
If you believed one word of Russiagate, you now must laugh or cry at your incredible gullibility.

This scandal should also bring down the presstitute media who have done the dirty work for the conspiracy against Trump. 

chunkymark - Carillon's Billions


Chunky Mark describes rip off Britain and the privatisation robbery.

Transcript of Remarks by James Mattis on the National Defense Strategy


For the record.

Summation: The strategy of the US is founded not on geographical defense but rather on protecting and extending "Enlightenment values," that is, liberalism.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have no room for complacency, and history makes clear that America has no preordained right to victory on the battlefield. Simply, we must be the best if the values that grew out of the Enlightenment are to survive....
Under Christendom it was "saving souls."

United States Department of Defense
Remarks by James Mattis on the National Defense Strategy
James Mattis | US Secretary of Defense
Delivered on January 19, 2018

Ulson Gunnar — Continuity of Agenda: US Encirclement of China Continues Under Trump

The United States has pursued a decades-long policy of encircling, containing and if possible, undermining China as part of a larger strategy of achieving and maintaining what US policy papers call “primacy” over Asia.
US policy has led to deeply-rooted networks operating within China’s borders and along China’s geopolitical peripheries to divide and destabilize the immense and increasingly powerful Asian state. These networks are funded and supported regardless of who occupies the White House. While the rhetoric shifts from president to president regarding “why” the US is providing so-called “activists” and “opposition” fronts aid, the aid and the agenda it serves continues....
Longish, with a lot of detail. Backgrounder for those who want to understand what is happening in on the Grand Chessboard in the Great Game for dominance of the World Island through control of the Eurasian landmass.
It is clear enough that China is being systematically targeted and undermined within its own borders by US foreign policy stretching from the end of World War II and continuing to present day. However, just as important, are US efforts to encircle, contain and undermine China along its peripheries.
This includes Southeast Asia where the US has spent decades attempting to influence and control the region. This included the outright invasion of Vietnam, proxies wars fought in neighboring Laos and Cambodia and political upheaval the US has sponsored everywhere from Myanmar to Malaysia and Thailand to Indonesia....
NEO
Continuity of Agenda: US Encirclement of China Continues Under Trump
Ulson Gunnar

Moon of Alabama — Sundry - Shutdown, Ukraine, Omidyar And Syria


News synopsis. Short.

Moon of Alabama
Sundry - Shutdown, Ukraine, Omidyar And Syria
b

Scott Adams — How to Make Your Opponents Try (and fail) to Prove a Negative


Addressing Trumpgate, Russiagate, the Steele dossier and other "evidence" without actual evidence using reverse "logic" to persuade, in this case, cast shade.

Dilbert Blog
How to Make Your Opponents Try (and fail) to Prove a Negative
Scott Adams

Robert Vienneau — Labor Values Taken As Given


Robert Vienneau has a question for Marxists/Marxians/Marx scholars.

Thoughts On Economics
Labor Values Taken As Given
Robert Vienneau

Friday, January 19, 2018

Mike Gonzalez — How Donald Trump will Reverse Obama's Failed Foreign Policy Strategy

We do not look to bolster America’s adversaries overseas; we look to pressure, compete with, and outmaneuver them. For this reason, we should consider human rights as an important issue in regard to U.S. relations with China, Russia, North Korea and Iran. And this is not only because of moral concern for practices inside those countries. It is also because pressing those regimes on human rights is one way to impose costs, apply counter-pressure, and regain the initiative from them strategically....
Human rights violations by "our guys"? Meh.

How to get the reputation of being hypocritical about liberalism and trash soft power.

It's pretty obvious that these types could care less about humans rights as principles. To them everything is instrumental.
Stopping all our embassies from promoting a progressive agenda that often alienates the most conservative—and traditional pro-American—members of society will be harder, however. Often times such support involves official aid to foreign NGOs that also receive aid from George Soros’s progressive network that operates in 140 countries around the world....
The National Interest
How Donald Trump will Reverse Obama's Failed Foreign Policy Strategy
Mike Gonzalez | senior fellow in The Heritage Foundation’s Davis Institute for International Studies

Pepe Escobar — Rome: A Eulogy


If you are a fan of Pepe Escobar.

Counterpunch
Rome: A Eulogy
Pepe Escobar

Michael Hudson – Charles Goodhart — Could/Should Jubilee Debt Cancellations be Reintroduced Today?


Michael Hudson and Charles Goodhart team up.

Longish and detailed but an easy read.

Counterpunch
Could/Should Jubilee Debt Cancellations be Reintroduced Today?
Michael Hudson – Charles Goodhart

also
Irrespective of what we may think of Syria, this is little but a full-scale assault on international law and the normative system embedded in the UN Charter that has taken decades of hard work to build, a fundamental cornerstone of the management and civilizational development of the world order system.
Seen in comparison with the other attempts at undermining the UN – which began in the 1990s in Bosnia-Herzegovina – this should be a cause of deep concern among people in the truly civilizational corners of our world.
And it can’t be sold to the world under the headline of a Responsibility to Protect.…
Naked power grab.

The New US Syria “Strategy”, a Recipe For Continued Disaster
Jan Oberg