Friday, October 24, 2014

The Super-Rich Are as Miserable as the Rest of Us

Story at Fiscal Times here.

Let’s agree right off the bat that $25 million is a lot of money. 
The number of American households with a net worth of $25 million or more — excluding their home — reached a new record last year, according to a recent report by wealth management research provider Spectrem Group. 
Yet the same survey found that those wealthy Americans still have plenty of financial concerns. Actually, they sound fairly miserable…and that’s in a survey taken well before the stock market took a tumble last week. 
They may travel more, go to ballgames or concerts, or buy nice jewelry, but 70 percent of those surveyed said they get more satisfaction out of saving and investing their money than from spending it. 
More than half said they worry about the next generation wasting the money they inherit.  And almost a quarter (23 percent) said they worry “constantly” — constantly — about their financial situation.

Boy, sounds like if we ever would impose a Picketty Tax, many of these people would probably have to just go get a gun and blow their brains out... but then we who would be remaining would all be more "equal" in financial terms.

Drone footage of Apple's new campus under development

Video below shot by a quad-rotor drone with on-board gimbal mounted GoPro camera of Apple Computer's new corporate property development in Cupertino, CA.

Pretty impressive development in creativity and scale.

It must be nice to work with an institution whose leadership doesn't think its "out of money!".

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Justin Ling — Canada considers 'preventative detention' in wake of Ottawa attack

Details of those new powers have yet to be released, but justice minister Peter MacKay indicated to reporters that they will include measures to allow the preventive detention of suspected would-be terrorists.
“We’re examining all those sections of the criminal code, and all measures under the law that will allow us, in some instances, to take pre-emptive measures,” he said.
The Guardian
Canada considers 'preventative detention' in wake of Ottawa attack
Justin Ling

Michael Sauga — The Zombie System: How Capitalism Has Gone Off the Rails

According to the latest Global Wealth Report by the Boston Consulting Group, worldwide private wealth grew by about 15 percent last year, almost twice as fast as in the 12 months previous. 
The data expose a dangerous malfunction in capitalism's engine room. Banks, mutual funds and investment firms used to ensure that citizens' savings were transformed into technical advances, growth and new jobs. Today they organize the redistribution of social wealth from the bottom to the top. The middle class has also been negatively affected: For years, many average earners have seen their prosperity shrinking instead of growing. 
Harvard economist Larry Katz rails that US society has come to resemble a deformed and unstable apartment building: The penthouse at the top is getting bigger and bigger, the lower levels are overcrowded, the middle levels are full of empty apartments and the elevator has stopped working.
It's no wonder, then, that people can no longer get much out of the system. According to polls by the Allensbach Institute, only one in five Germans believes economic conditions in Germany are "fair." Almost 90 percent feel that the gap between rich and poor is "getting wider and wider." 
In this sense, the crisis of capitalism has turned into a crisis of democracy. Many feel that their countries are no longer being governed by parliaments and legislatures, but by bank lobbyists, which apply the logic of suicide bombers to secure their privileges: Either they are rescued or they drag the entire sector to its death.
Der Spiegel
The Zombie System: How Capitalism Has Gone Off the Rails
Michael Sauga

How About Fiat Currency Operations 101, For 5th Graders? Or "Context-101" For All Citizens?

   (Commentary posted by Roger Erickson)

"Recent accounts of athletes falling into financial distress have spurred some business schools to create specialized MBA programs for [athletes]"

? Business Schools?

Why not start long before that? With citizens? With an ounce of cheap prevention, instead of a MiddleClass flesh-pound of expensive repair? Especially since the repair so far is grossly too little, too late. [Yes, because of the lame fear that we've "run out of fiat."]

And no, an MBA wouldn't save us. They're among the dingbats saying that we're out of fiat. :(

How about mandatory, early Citizen Schools, for all citizens? Wow. Wotta concept! :)

To do something that simple, it seems that we have to STOP doing a lot of dumb stuff - but that list of dumb does NOT include constraining Public Initiative. Just redirecting MORE of it, to exploring more of our constantly emerging new options.

How much? As much as is needed to improve the quality of distributed decision-making ... because that ALWAYS pays for itself, by definition.

We need more - many more - reasonable people with context awareness.

Marriner Eccles types?

Luther Gulick types?

Beardsley Ruml types?

Warren Mosler types?

You know, people with common sense, and the audacity to simply insist on using it.

Jeffrey D. Sachs — A New Macroeconomic Strategy

Public investment, especially in renewable energy.

Project Syndicate
A New Macroeconomic Strategy
Jeffrey D. Sachs, Professor of Sustainable Development, Professor of Health Policy and Management, and Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, is also Special Adviser to the United Nations Secretary-General on the Millennium Development Goals

Mike Bird — George Soros: 'Wake Up, Europe!'

Multibillionaire investor George Soros has issued a warning to Europe's democracies over the threat that a resurgent Russia poses to the continent.

In an essay published Thursday in the New York Review of Books, Soros calls for more economic and military support for Ukraine, as well as the abandonment of the eurozone's current austerity programs.
Business Insider
George Soros: 'Wake Up, Europe!'
Mike Bird

China's man in Hong Kong explains the problem with democracy – It's a threat to capitalism

Unless it's oligarchic "democracy."

Jeff Weintraub — Commentaries and Controversies
China's man in Hong Kong explains the problem with democracy – It's a threat to capitalism
Jeff Weintraub
h/t Brad DeLong

Pankaj Mishra — The western model is broken

Longish but it gives a look into non-Western thinking on the neoliberal and neocon project for globalization that appears to non-Westerners as neo-imperialsim and neocolonialism.

The Guardian
The western model is broken
Pankaj Mishra | Indian writer

John J. Mearsheimer — The US Caused the Ukrainian Crisis by Pushing NATO and the EU to Russia's Borders

Foreign Affairs is published by the Council on Foreign Relations.
In this, the third of the three pieces published by Foreign Affairs, Professor John Mearsheimer responds to the criticisms by former US Ambassadors Michael J. McFaul and Stephen Sestanovich of his original article in Foreign Affairs, which criticised US foreign policy towards Russia from a “realist” position. You can find Professor Mearsheimer’s original article here and those of McFaul and Sestanovichhere and here.
Russia Insider
The US Caused the Ukrainian Crisis by Pushing NATO and the EU to Russia's Borders
John J. Mearsheimer | Professor of Political Science, University of Chicago

Daniele Pozzati — Top German Newspapers Whitewash Leading Ukrainian Neo-Nazis

Lately, Germany has been taking a keen interest in the upcoming October 26 Ukrainian parliamentary elections. Bizarrely, they are full of praise for neo-nazi candidates.

For example, the publication Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung perhaps Germany’s most prestigious daily, recently dedicated a very sympathetic article to Oleh Lyashko. Who is this “Oleh”?

Lyashko was elected to parliament despite having a criminal record and having spent quality prison time for embezzlement. His neo-nazi militia group has been condemned by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International for war crimes. His response to this was the Ukrainian equivalent of “in the fog of war stuff happens”. Ironically, he is also chairman of a subcommittee on - wait for it - “Rules and Ethics”.

Also recently, Die Zeit, Germany’s most prestigious weekly, published a profile interview with Semyon Semenchenko, the commander and founder of a neo-nazi militia referred to as the Donbass Battalion.

On June 29th members of his battalion staged a protest in front of the parliament demanding the immediate cessation of the truce declared on June 21st . A truce is bad news, of course, for bad-boy Nazi wannabes who want to rid Ukraine of communists, jews and Russians.

Not the least problem with giving positive coverage to extremists is that you embolden them. Semenchenko recently openly threatened President Poroshenko, calling “a traitor”, saying he would force Poroshenko to flee for his life from Ukraine unless hostilities against the pro-Russian separatists are resumed.

In a remarkable feat of irrationality Sementchenko even admitted to his battalion wearing Nazi insignia: "Yes, we wear swastikas, but such symbols do not mean much anymore".
Russia Insider
Top German Newspapers Whitewash Leading Ukrainian Neo-Nazis
Daniele Pozzati

Always Remember That Floating Fx Reflects Policy Steps, Not Just Markets Presumed To Function In Isolation

(Commentary posted by Roger Erickson)

Naïveté = uncertainty.

There is no such thing as Free Trade. There are only policies affecting arbitrage opportunities for different people, disciplines and whole classes of citizens. 

Statesmanship means trying to track the long-term implications of policy for national options. Politicians are hired to NOT paint their electorates into corners which the people on the street can't possibly see coming.
Currency Wars: The Next Generation
(hat tip Art Patten)

Gotta Be Honest First, Or Math Is Useless.

   (Commentary posted by Roger Erickson)

Because there's no logic without "lo".

Bill Mitchell: "Still sinning … a German economist who cannot face facts"

Those that just can't - or simply won't - see, never put 2+2 together.

No wonder they don't - or won't - get to 5th grade math. Gotta be honest first, or math is useless.

You do the calculus of honesty.

The residual is that data is always meaningless without context.

You can IMAGINE any context you want, but that doesn't help when it comes to helping fellow citizens survive REAL context.

Weather Service stops receiving satellite data, issues notice about forecast quality

WaPo reporting satellite outages this AM here.

SO reported earlier this week a BIG sunspot group coming around the sun's leading edge here, and associated massive solar flaring off the edge  at that time (see video at link, pretty amazing).

(I have been watching this off and on for probably over a year and this is by far the largest I've seen headed our way, see picture below from a few days ago...)

So this formation could be earth facing today and the EM effects could be the cause of these satellite outages, I hope they are just temporary.

SO is probably monitoring this event and will probably report at the youtube channel here, you have to check back.

Looks like libertarian Ann Coulter (who Mike kicked off his show the one time, LOL!)  is blaming the Obama Administration or the government, go figure (check out the reply tweets over there for a good laugh at the libertarians!):


UPDATE:  Bingo, link here.  Sorry Coulter & Co. it wasn't government ineptitude... btw it was the govt that put the satellites up there in the first place morons....

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

EVERYONE Should Be Aware - & Mad As Hell - That DOJ Refuses To Do 5th Grade Math

   (Commentary posted by Roger Erickson)

"DOJ’s strategy is a legal obscenity and has produced the greatest strategic failure to prosecute elite (and not so elite) white-collar criminals in DOJ’s modern history. DOJ has made it clear to senior (and even middling) bank executives that they can loot with absolute personal impunity. This guarantees future financial crises will be far more severe. But DOJ has reached a new nadir by giving top agency awards to those who lead its abject failures and by claiming that it cannot prosecute bank officers (hilariously rebranded by DOJ as “rocket scientists”) because DOJ attorneys cannot do 5th grade math." 

This is a long article, but well worth sending to everyone you can possibly think of.

"DOJ just gave its lead prosecutor team a 2nd "highest award," for failing to prosecute ANYONE at JPMorgan."
Wow! Maybe we should pay ALL citizens for NOT working! You suppose? :(

I can't even keep up with the volume of obscene news anymore.

What could keep our entire electorate AWARE of context? It will be something quite simple.

They're quite literally asleep at the wheel.

There could be huge signs posted, saying "CRASH AHEAD" ... and these current democracy drivers would still hand the wheel over to some drunk Neo-Cons, out of pure denial.

And disorientation. And lack of context awareness.

Yet somewhere at the bottom of every rabbit hole, including this one, there are some rather simple fixes to trigger. We need some focus, a consensus Desired Outcome, and an organized campaign to achieve it ... by any and all means possible. None of these bozos can be as smart as all of us. We just have to start acting like owners of our own Public Initiative.

What are the opposition - and our Innocent Frauds - doing?
"The top 'quant' at Enron, the honest and brilliant top risk officer, Vincent Kaminski, wrote recently about his regrets that he was unable to spot the fraud, at a firm that was 'rotten to the core,' because he did not understand accounting control fraud techniques."If so, then he should have been relieved of responsibility long before. Which just means that corp/national governance & risk-mgt was totally trashed, and inadequate. That's a good way to lose an adaptive race.
Brilliant? You be the judge. 

And while you're pondering, switch to earlier today.

"Three years ago, in the dark days of the housing crisis, regulators pressed for a controversial rule that aimed to crack down on shoddy and dishonest lending practices. Now they’re rolling back their plans."
What'd Bill Black just document? What on Earth is happening?

Control Frauds are running circles around our current Democracy?

They're inside our aggregate Decision Cycle? (perhaps just for lack of one, on either side ... )

What would John Boyd say about this competition between OODA Loops?

(That we're screwed ... if we don't drastically ramp up our distributed initiative ... and & start inventing & utilizing some "Fast Transients" ? i.e., "short cuts.")

ps: If this level of fraud is aggregate obscenity, surely existing anti-obscenity laws should protect the public from it?
In my mind, that suggests that things that Control Frauds & their servants say are NOT protected speech.

Where's our current Supreme Court? Oh yes, already bought & paid for .. with YOUR diverted Public Initiative, er fiat currency.

Robert Oak — Inflation Deceptive, CPI 0.1% Yet Some Items Off the Charts

Everything you want to know about CPI (almost).

My take is that judging economic performance on figures like per capita GDP for "growth," CPI for "inflation," and U3 for "unemployment" is myopic and misleading. But it's these numbers that make news headlines and dominate "popular economics."

BTW, unleaded was $2.77 today at Costco, Iowa City/Coralville. That's a pretty huge "tax cut."

The Economic Populist
Inflation Deceptive, CPI 0.1% Yet Some Items Off the Charts
Robert Oak

Eric Kraus — Ukraine: A Trillion Here – A Trillion There

Who is going to pay the bills to fix Ukraine? Certainly not the people who broke it.

Russia Insider | Opinion
Ukraine: A Trillion Here – A Trillion ThereEric Kraus | Truth & Beauty […And Russian Finance]

Also, Liam Halligan, Economic Imperatives May Force West to Abandon Sanctions

Saker — Ukraine mini-SITREP: very ominous developments

The next move in the chess game is up to the neocons? Here's one view of what the situation looks like. Could be pivotal.

The Vineyard of the Saker
Ukraine mini-SITREP: very ominous developments

No Wonder Fed Bankers Wear Dark Suits ....

(Commentary posted by Roger Erickson)

So no one will bother looking for the splatters .... while Fed guys claim that they're valiantly pissing into the wind? (On demand? Following whose demand? Not aggregate, that's for sure.)
They doth protest too much?

While getting rich in the process?

(What do we pay Fed "regulators" for anyway? To just LOOK like regulators?)

Try Not to laugh....

The latest out of the Glenn Beck channel discussing "inflation" and "money printing" with a fellow libertarian guest:

This is a textbook example of what Ignacio commented here recently about how interesting it can be to watch these people go thru all sorts of mental contortions to still be seen to comply with their cognitive biases.

They even admit that it has been 6 years now that we have been "money printing" and still no "inflation"; which is to anyone with half a brain, empirical evidence that their theory is false.  But yet they still are able to come up with some words in support of their crack-pot theories to wind it up.

Below is Mike in one of my favorite videos of him on the Glenn Beck channel from back a while where Mike, who possess no such cognitive biases, tries to explain our Federal government's fiscal authorities to some people from the same channel.

Mike to the Reagan guy: "Well get the plugs out of your ears!"  LOL!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

RT — Sikorski U-turn: Polish ex-FM backtracks on scandalous 'divide Ukraine' claim

Let's see if Politico publishes a correction.

Sikorski U-turn: Polish ex-FM backtracks on scandalous 'divide Ukraine' claim

Anna Nemtsova — Western Media Explains Swastika Resurgence in West Ukraine: "Kindly Symbols Don’t Attract Crowds"

This piece from the The Daily Beast, written by a well-known Russian liberal, has to be read to be believed. This has to be the first time since the end of World War II when the mainstream US media has defended the use of the Swastika and other Nazi Symbols.
You really do have to read this to believe it.

Russia Insider
Western Media Explains Swastika Resurgence in West Ukraine: "Kindly Symbols Don’t Attract Crowds" — One of the strangest articles ever written explains why Swastikas are "hot" in West Ukraine
Anna Nemtsova (The Daily Beast)

Peter Cooper — The Diverse Economy: Part Capitalist, Part Socialist, Part Communist

On using policy space.

The Diverse Economy: Part Capitalist, Part Socialist, Part Communist
Peter Cooper

Zachary Keck — Chinese Democracy: A ‘Nightmare’ Scenario for US

A democratic China would be a nightmare for the West, according to a leading former Southeast Asian former diplomat. 
One of the paradoxes for the West is that it is better off with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in power in China, Kishore Mahbubani, the Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy of the National University of Singapore and that country’s former UN ambassador, told a D.C. audience on Tuesday. 
Noting that the general consensus in the United States has long been that a liberal democratic China would be a more responsible global power, Mahbubani warned Americans to be careful what they wish for. 
“There is a strong nationalist sentiment in China” that derives from the view that China suffered a century of humiliation at the hands of Western and other foreign powers, Mahbubani pointed out. This sentiment is not relegated to the fringe of society; in fact, this conviction is often strongest among highly educated Chinese elites, especially those who have studied abroad in places like the United States and Europe. 
The CCP currently keeps this nationalist sentiment in check, Mahbubani said. These forces would be unleashed, however, if China became a liberal democracy, which would be a “nightmare” for the Western world. 
“I have no doubt that doubt China as a liberal democracy would be a much more nationalist, much more dangerous country” because “200 years of pent up anger” would explode, Mahbubani predicted…
The Diplomat
Chinese Democracy: A ‘Nightmare’ Scenario for US
Zachary Keck

Counter Current News Police Destroy LEGALLY Painted Mural of Mike Brown, Because It ‘Sent the Wrong Message’

The mural was created by artists in Trenton, New Jersey on the gate to a vacant storefront. 
Permission of the proper authorities was even obtained before the mural was created, just to make sure that there was no reason for it to be destroyed later by police.
But that didn’t seem to thwart officers who decided to get involved, even though no laws had been broken by the artists who created the mural.
Monday afternoon, the mural was defaced, then painted over after Trenton police said that the painting “sent the wrong message about community and police relations.”
Watch the video of the illegal destruction of this legal artwork by police suppressing freedom of speech!
Counter Current News
Police Destroy LEGALLY Painted Mural of Mike Brown, Because It ‘Sent the Wrong Message’

Peter Radford — Why No Labor Controversy?

Surely labor is as muddled a concept as capital.…
To me, at least, the old fashioned triad of inputs into the basic economic production equation – land, labor, and capital – are all so imprecise as to leave any output from those equations subject to enormous doubt. 
What, exactly, do we mean by them? 
What capital? What labor? and what land [land includes natural resources]? 
It is no wonder, then, that even the most heroic attempts at understanding the great curve towards modern prosperity that began a couple of hundred years ago fall farcically short. They don’t take into account to drivers of such prosperity, they depend upon archaic notions and such imprecise measures that they cannot hope to succeed.…
I understand the desire to compress human endeavor into simple formulae in the attempt to trace the arc of progress, but I think we all would benefit from a clearer understanding of what needs to be compressed. For economics to fit more neatly within the same world as the more basic sciences it needs to look through the lens of energy conversion, at work, and at the flow of information that results from both. Using land, labor, and capital makes that next to impossible. Some combination of energy, raw material, and knowledge would be a step in the right direction.
But economics is too path dependent to make such a shift. So we are stuck with pointless controversies, and inputs so vague that they obscure rather than illuminate the basic economic process called growth.
Peter Radford takes the business school approach to economics. Like what are the numbers actually, and what do they mean for meeting objectives according to plan.

The Radford Free Press
Why No Labor Controversy?
Peter Radford

Joachin Flores — Will Serbia Turn to the East? The Real Significance of Putin’s Visit

What the post doesn't mention is that Serbia is not only Slavic rather than Euopean but also Orthodox rather than Catholic-Protestant. The old national and regional rivalries are arising anew as the post WWII and Cold War order breaks down. And again, Germany is a lynchpin.

Oriental Review
Will Serbia Turn to the East? The Real Significance of Putin’s VisitJoachin Flores

digby — Testing the attacks for 2016 - the fear factor

“There is a phenomenon that I haven’t seen in my lifetime, and that is this fear factor, whether it’s Ebola or the wars,” said Ed Rollins, a Republican who directed Ronald Reagan’s 1984 presidential re-election campaign. 
“If there wasn’t the overarching fear out there, you couldn’t run this without being painted as anti-woman,” Rollins said. “It’s a subtle or not-so-subtle way of saying: These candidates are not as strong as they should be.”
Testing the attacks for 2016

Živadin Jovanović — Global Justice or World Domination

Almost imperceptibly, the war marketing evolved into a new discipline. It seems that we got accustomed to that “science” very quickly and underestimating the risks. At present, even the non-professionals can easily recognize the pattern of preparing, propagating, and justifying all kinds of aggressions and instigating civil wars. The process comprises these steps: choosing the target; demonizing its legitimate leadership via the media; promises of democracy and fast “better life” that serve to disorientate the public; funding and, as necessary, arming the “pro-democratic” opposition; intensification of destabilizing actions of the NGOs; staging massacres/poisoning by chemical warfare/humanitarian disasters, i.e.: event brands like “Markale” in Sarajevo, “Racak” in Kosovo and Metohija, “Majdan” in Kiev; then follows instigating civil wars or armed aggression; toppling legitimate authorities; installing “pro-democratic” opposition in power; and, finally, assuming the target country’s natural and economic resources by the corporations and even by individuals from administrations of the aggressor countries by the so-called transition, also known as the predatory privatizations. 
One of disturbing contemporary phenomena is a very extensive interpretation of the notion of national interests. The USA was the first to appropriate the right to proclaim its national interests in practical terms, in any corner of the Planet, and to defend them by armed force. European partners followed suite. Particular attention provoke statements of Joachim Gauck, President of Germany, that Germany must be ready to defend its national interests abroad by force, if needed. State sovereignty over its natural resources is derogated. Brzezinski and Albright openly claim that natural resources in Siberia cannot belong to Russia only, but rather to the so-called international community! The claims for redistribution of natural wealth of the planet are clearly articulated. Here, one may recall the consequences the humanity suffered owing to German ambitions for redistribution of colonies in the run-up to the World War I.… 
Another great danger for the contemporary world stems from the presence of power centers which believe they are destined to govern the word, and entrusted with this mission by providence. They hold anyone else in the planet to be handicapped and obliged to do as told and obey directives of the “exceptional” ones. Such centers do not recognize profound changes bringing new distribution of global power. They apply the logic of uni-polar world order not recognizing that this concept is gone and that the history cannot be stopped. 
Therefore, having regard to the lessons of history, we may conclude, that it is not the time to seek privileges and domination by force; it is in the interest of humanity to accommodate to the new multi-polar reality, to accept righteous compromises and work for peace.
One can argue whether this is true, but what is evident is that it is a growing perception.

Global Research
Global Justice or World Domination
Živadin Jovanović

Eric Lorber and Elizabeth Rosenberg — Don't Mistake Russia for Iran

With sanctions beginning to bite, Russia is starting to play a new economic game. To alleviate the pain of Western restrictions on its financial and energy sectors, Russia is turning for help to non-Western partners. Last week alone, Russia and China signed over 40 agreements that provide Russian firms with lines of credit worth billions of dollars and establish strategic partnerships in the energy sector. 
The United States, in turn, is looking to step up its own game. Policymakers are considering giving global companies a choice: stop providing long-term financing and energy assistance to major Russian companies or be kicked out of the U.S. financial system. Such measures resemble the sanctions the United States placed on Iran a couple of years ago. But Iran was a different problem. And treating Russia the same way would be a mistake.…
More generally, policymakers in the United States should be wary of continually relying on sanctions that penalize foreign firms by preventing their access to U.S. markets. Ultimately, such a strategy could backfire. At some point, foreign companies may decide that doing business in U.S. markets -- and being subject to U.S. sanctions policies -- is simply not worth it.…
 Foreign Affairs
Don't Mistake Russia for Iran
Eric Lorber and Elizabeth Rosenberg