Thursday, April 30, 2015

Albert Einstein — Why Socialism?

Happy May Day aka International Workers' Day.

Mayday (Fr. m'aidez) is also the international distress signal equivalent to SOS in Morse code.

Capitalism — "It's every man for himself." (self interest, rational utility maximization)

Socialism — "We're all in this together." (common good, solidarity, voluntary cooperation for mutual benefit)

Monthly Review
Why Socialism?
Albert Einstein

Scott Ferguson — The Unheard-of Center: Critique after Modern Monetary Theory

After Modern Monetary Theory or “MMT,” nothing looks the same: not political economy; not everyday caretaking; not paintings, pop songs, or porn sites.

Everyone knows that money makes the world go round. Yet MMT shows us that, far from being a private and finite commodity or an unwieldy network of global exchange, money operates as a centralized political architecture that is public, limitless and, above all, answerable to social needs and contestation. Thus critique after MMT assumes a singular aim, which is to make money’s answerability perceptible....
The Unheard-of Center: Critique after Modern Monetary Theory
Scott Ferguson | Assistant Professor and  Co-Director of the Film & New Media Studies Track in the Department of Humanities & Cultural Studies at the University of South Florida

Scott Beauchamp — Murder by Other Means

...well before the 2003 Iraq invasion, American strategic minds were already cannily sizing up the mercenary market. Paul Bremer, original viceroy of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq—who was guarded by a Blackwater security detail during his time in office—authored a revealing 2001 paper that served as a conceptual blueprint for Blackwater’s ugly reign. Titled “New Risks In International Business,” the policy document advanced a rather radical analysis: it argued that that opening new global markets leads to dramatic spikes in income inequality, which in turn cause the social unrest that leads to terrorism. But, after naming capitalism as a central driving factor behind the terror threat, Bremer goes on to cheerlead the risk-management opportunities that the situation presents. His argument is an exercise in myopic and opportunistic nihilism, but it’s also coldly rational: since global privatization is causing global unrest, it also represents a great opportunity to privatize our response to said unrest. The bottom line, in other words, is that companies like Blackwater have a vested interest in preserving a manageable level of global despair.
The Baffler
Murder by Other MeansScott Beauchamp

Jonathan Allen — Bernie Sanders's ideas are so popular that Hillary Clinton is running on them

Overton window shifting left?
Bernie Sanders's ideas are so popular that Hillary Clinton is running on them
Jonathan Allen

And populism may "in".

Can Ted Cruz's hawkish populism actually win?
Zack Beauchamp

France24 — Berlin spied on France for the NSA, German media say

German intelligence helped the US National Security Agency (NSA) monitor the French presidential palace and foreign ministry officials as well as members of the European Commission, Germany’s Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported Thursday.
Germany's BND foreign intelligence agency helped the NSA perform "political espionage" by watching "top officials at the French foreign ministry, the Elysée Palace and the European Commission", the German paper will report in an article to be published in its Thursday edition.
"The heart [of the problem] is political espionage of European neighbours and institutions of the European Union," the Sueddeutsche Zeitung wrote, citing a source with knowledge of BND procedures.
Chancellor Angela Merkel's government – which has long complained of being a target of snooping by the US – is now facing a series of embarrassing reports that German spies themselves acted on behalf of the NSA to monitor allies like France as well as German companies....
Political and economic espionage. With friends like these....

Angela has some 'splainin' to do.

Berlin spied on France for the NSA, German media say

BRICS Post — Will fine-tune policies to combat downward pressure: China politburo

Chinese leaders, while emphasizing the need for slower but better-quality growth, have made clear they would not tolerate widespread job losses, a danger that is stalled for now with strong employment figures [Xinhua]As Beijing attempts to find the right policy mix to shore up economic activity, a policy meet of the Communist Party on Thursday endorsed targeted control measures.
“The top leadership on Thursday said that China’s economic growth in the first quarter was conforming to expectations amid downward pressure on the economy, pledging to maintain continuity and stability of macro policies to ensure growth stay within a proper range,” Chinese news agency Xinhua quoted an official statement at the end of the meeting.
“There appeared new growth impetus in the Chinese economy in the first quarter,” it added.
The Politburo, a decision-making body of the ruling Chinese Communist Party, met under President Xi Jinping, on Thursday in Beijing. Chinese leaders have repeatedly emphasized the need for slower but better-quality growth.
“China will step up targeted control measures, and timely pre-tune and fine-tune policies to combat the downward pressure,” the Politburo statement noted.
China’s gross domestic product (GDP) grew an annual 7.0 per cent in the first quarter, slowing from 7.3 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2014.
The BRICS Post
Will fine-tune policies to combat downward pressure: China politburo

Mark Thoma — Paul Romer on Growth Theory and 'Work That is Scientifically Unjustifiable'

Then we can ask if it is a good idea or a bad idea to have more intellectual property rights or more protection of ownership of ideas. We know that the answer here is mixed. Sometimes some amount of it can be good, but it can also be harmful if the property rights are too strong or are given to the wrong types of ideas. But if you don’t even allow for the possibility of ex post monopoly rents from the discovery of ideas, you can’t even ask the question. 
So it is scientifically unacceptable to have people who say, “We will never, as a matter of principle, consider a model in which there are ever any monopolies. We will dogmatically stick only to models of price-taking competition.” I think this an untenable scientific stance.
Economist’s View
Romer on Growth Theory and 'Work That is Scientifically Unjustifiable'
Mark Thoma | Professor of Economics, University of Oregoon

Alexander Orlov — Saudi Arabia and the New Witch-hunt

Getting to know the new Saudi government.

New Eastern Outlook
Saudi Arabia and the New Witch-hunt
Alexander Orlov

Will the dollar get destroyed if the U.S. goes into recession?

I really did not like what I saw in the Q1 GDP report. Both personal consumption expenditures and state and local government spending was either slowing (PCE) or contracting (state and local gov't).

This is not good.

Maybe it's temporary like some are saying, perhaps due to weather.

We'd better hope so because at the same time, Federal Government spending is no longer growing vis-a-vis last year. I don't know if that's related to the debt ceiling or the budget or what, but if the Federal government is slowing along with household spending and local and state government's contracting then the economy is in real trouble and headed for recession.

What will happen to the dollar?

If the U.S. goes into recession I expect the dollar to get slammed.

Justin Fox — From “Economic Man” to Behavioral Economics

Everything you always wanted to know about the development of decision theory.

Harvard Business Review
From “Economic Man” to Behavioral Economics
Justin Fox | former editorial director of Harvard Business Review and now a columnist for Bloomberg View
ht Mark Thoma at Economist's View

Employment taxes in April so far looking pretty weak

Employment taxes collected so far by the Federal Government through April 28 total $166 billion. That's down significantly from the take in March and it looks like we'll finish off the month at around $183 billion, which would be about $33 billion less than March.

April's tax take will, however, exceed last April by about $10 billion.

You may recall that my forecast for the March jobs report, which I based on the very strong employment tax deposits, didn't work out, so I am anxious to see how next Friday's number looks. Right now the forecast is for a gain of 245,000 in nonfarm payrolls.

By the way, it also looks like the total spending gains over last year have now peaked. Spending is no longer growing. This may be temporary, it may be a stall, it may be related to the debt ceiling or other budgetary constraints. I don't know. Just saying.

It's bad because it looks as if households and local governments have slowed their spending, too. If the Federal Gov't doesn't pick it up (or foreigners), the economy will be in trouble.

Brad DeLong — Let Me Strongly Agree with Ben Bernanke on the Wall Street Journal Editorial Page: It Is and Has Long Been a Clown Show

Well-deserved smackdown.

WCEG — The Equitablog

Sister Simone Campbell — Why a “Faithful” Federal Budget Must Address Inequality

Then social justice faction is raising its voice on economic policy.
It is now almost a cliché when religious leaders state that the federal budget is a test of our nation’s moral values because it reflects our fiscal priorities. We have been saying that individually and collectively for decades.
How are we doing in this measure of morality?
A key moral issue of our times is extreme wealth inequality in the U.S., along with structures that block people from accessing what they need to rise out of poverty, such as a lack of affordable housing or access to healthcare. Like Pope Francis, we at NETWORK believe there is an urgent need to address these twin injustices. The federal budget is one of our country’s most important tools to make that happen.
However, most major budget proposals coming from Capitol Hill do little or nothing to address inequality – or, even worse, they exacerbate it. This is not a partisan view. In fact, powerful and wealthy voices motivated by self-interest have seen their influence greatly increase across party lines in recent years. Their voices drown out those of millions of people with less clout.
In 2011, appalled by years of skewed budget priorities, my organization joined a coalition of 37 faith groups representing Jewish, Muslim and Christian traditions. Our goal was to formulate a new budget plan rooted in our faiths’ teachings about compassion and justice....
Talk Poverty
Why a “Faithful” Federal Budget Must Address Inequality
Sister Simone Campbell | Executive Director of NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby, and author of A Nun on the Bus: How All of Us Can Create Hope, Change, and Community

Peter Radford — Coase and Reality

Another screed on why conventional economics is unrealistic from Peter Redford, this one based on Ronald Coase.
In his introduction to a collection of his own work, Ronald Coase tells us:

‘Becker points out that: “what most distinguishes economics as a discipline from other disciplines in the social sciences is not its subject matter but its approach”’.

He then goes on:

‘One result of this divorce of the theory from its subject matter has been that the entities whose decisions economists are engaged in analyzing lack any substance. The consumer is not a human being but a consistent set of preferences. The firm, to an economist, as Slater has said, “is effectively defined as a cost curve and a demand curve, and the theory is simply the logic of optimal pricing and input combination”. Exchange takes place without any specification of its institutional setting. We have consumers without humanity, firms without organization, and even exchange without markets.’
All true, too true.
A philosopher would say that the chief difference between economics and the other social science is the level of abstraction. Economics is so abstract that it is difficult to connect with reality through actual behavior, in spite of the demand of conventional economics for "microfoundations" based on methodological individualism as a foundational assumption. 

In conventional economics, the individual, either "representative agent" or representative firm," is an imaginary construct rather than an observable. When agents and firms are observed, they do not match the characteristics of the methodological abstractions that represent them in conventional economic models. There is no homo economicus to be found, only homo socialis. Homo Socialis is the subject of study of the social sciences. 

The result of economists pursuing the "trail"of a non-existent homo economicus is something that resembles metaphysics more closely than physics, which is the opposite of what conventional economists are aiming for. The result is dogmatism rather than science.

Or maybe it is just snark hunting.

The Radford Free Press
Coase and Reality
Peter Radford

Steve Randy Waldman — There is a name for this

Politically motivated riots are a form of altruistic punishment. Look it up. Altruistic punishment is a “puzzle” to the sort of economist who thinks of homo economicusmaximizing her utility, and a no-brainer to the game theorist who understands humans could never have survived if we actually were the kind of creature who succumbed to every prisoners’ dilemma. Altruistic punishment is behavior that imposes costs on third parties with no benefit to the punisher, often even at great cost to the punisher. To the idiot economist, it is a lose/lose situation, such a puzzle.
Lose/lose is also the basis of MAD (mutually assured destruction) as a WMD deterrent. And, yes, it is a strategic "game" (as in "game theory") that has been employed tactically to relatively successful effect by imposing costs, even disproportionately. Russia imposed severe losses on itself in order to make the cost prohibitively high for the attacker.

I had to make a choice when it came dissertation time between doing it on Ludwig Wittgenstein or the ethical implications of the Pentagon employment of game theory in strategy, especially mutually assured destruction as a deterrent strategy. I chose to write on Wittgenstein, but this debate over game theory and a lose/lose strategy was going on decades ago.

Something similar happened in WWII between Germany and Russia, and before that with Napoleon when he invaded Russia and was met with a "scorched earth" response.

It would be well to keep this in mind in dealing with Russia now, especially since the recent publication of Generalplan Ost*. The Russian deep state is convinced that the current policy of the US approximates this plan. The response is to re-establish MAD, potentially by using a doomsday scenario that would completely destroy continental US and possibly Europe through the after effect by using a nuclear weapon to create geophysical destruction of the North American continent.

Rioting may imposed much less cost than war, but it is use of a similar strategy. It is not "irrational" at all.

There is a name for this
Steve Randy Waldman

*Generalplan Ost [Source]
Rechtliche, wirtschaftliche und räumliche Grundlagen des Ostaufbaus
Vorgelegt von SS-Oberführer Professor Dr. XX, Berlin-Dahlem, 28.Mai 1942

This text is the famous Hitler’s “Generalplan Ost” – Nazi’s project of the Germanisation of Western Europe, which envisioned mass extermination and resettlement of Russians, Poles, Ukrainians. Having been considered lost of a long time, the text of the plan was found back in the 80’s. But it is only now that anybody interested can access it. NTV correspondent Sergey Morozov was one of them.
The publication of these documents is accompanied with apologies. The council of gardening and agriculture faculty of Berlin Humboldt university regrets the fact one of its former directors, SS member professor Konrad Meyer, did so much for the development of “Generalplan Ost”. Now this most secret document which was only know to the top leaders of the Reich is available for everyone.

“The German arms have conquered the areas in the East which we have contested for centuries. The Reich sees turning them into its imperial provinces as its most important task”, the document says.

The text has been considered lost for a long time. Only a six-page extract from it was obtained for the Nuremberg trials. The plan was composed by the Supreme Imperial Security directorate, and the other variants of this plan were burnt in 1945. “Generalplan Ost” shows in most meticulous detail what the fate of the USSR would’ve been had the Germans won. And it becomes clear why this plan was kept in strict secret.

“At the forefront of the German people’s fight against Asiatism there are areas of special importance for the Reich. In order to secure the Reich’s vital interests in these areas it is necessary not only to apply force, but the native German population has to be moved there. It has to be firmly rooted in a completely hostile environment”, the text recommends.

Yevgeny Kulkov, senior research associate of World History Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences: “They planned to resettle the Lithuanians beyond the Urals and to Siberia, or exterminate them. This is all practically the same. 85% of Lithuanians, 75% of Belarussians, 65% of Western Ukrainians, up to 50% of the Baltic states’ population”

While matching the sources, the scholars found out that the Nazis planned to move 10 million Germans to the Eastern lands and move 30 millions of indigenous population from there to Siberia. Leningrad was planned to be turned in a German settlement of 200 000 out of a city of 3 000 000. Millions of people had to die of starvation and diseases . Hitler planned to finish Russia off completely by means of dissecting it into a number of isolated parts.

“Following the directions of SS Reichsfuhrer, these provinces should be settled first: Ingermanland (Petersburg province), Gotengau (Crimea and Kherson province, former Tauria), Memelnrava province (Belostok and Western Lithuania). The Germanisation of this province is already underway by means of the return of the Volksdeutsche”.

It is interesting that the lands beyond the Urals seemed such a deadly territory for the Germans they weren’t even considered in the first place. Still, fearing that the exiled Poles might create their own state there, the Nazis decided to send exile them in Siberia in small groups.

This plan not only had estimates of how many cities were to be cleared for the future colonists, but also how much this was going to cost and who would bear the expenses.

After the war the compiler of this document Konrad Meier was acquitted at the Nuremberg trials and continued his teaching career at German universities. Publishing the original text of this ominous plan in the Web, the scholars commented that the German society hasn’t yet repented enough of the Nazi crimes.The Vineyard of the Saker
Vineyard of the Saker 

Bernanke rips the Wall Street Journal a new a**hole

The Wall Street Journal is a Rupert Murdoch, News Corp, rag sheet. You  might as well read the NY Post; it's more entertaining at least.

To be fair, the WSJ was garbage even years before Murdoch, when you had people like John Fund and Stephen Moore on its editorial board. These guys are all gold bug, hard-money, Laffer-supply side morons who got everything wrong for years. (And all friends with doofus, Steve Forbes,  silver spoon in the mouth Clown Boy.)

So it's fun to watch Ben Bernanke rip those editorial idiots over there at WSJ a new asshole (in Bernanke fashion).

Some comments from Bernanke's blog today:

"It's generous of the WSJ writers to note, as they do, that "economic forecasting isn't easy." They should know, since the Journal has been forecasting a breakout in inflation and a collapse in the dollar at least since 2006, when the FOMC decided not to raise the federal funds rate above 5-1/4 percent."
"I am waiting for the WSJ to argue for a well-structured program of public infrastructure development, which would support growth in the near term by creating jobs and in the longer term by making our economy more productive. We shouldn't be giving up on monetary policy, which for the past few years has been pretty much the only game in town as far as economic policy goes. Instead, we should be looking for a better balance between monetary and other growth-promoting policies, including fiscal policy."
Way to go, Ben.

The WSJ should change its slogan from The Diary of the American Dream to, The Diary of the American Delusion.

Lars P. Syll — Validating assumptions

Picking apart Piketty.
Piketty argues that the higher income share of wealth-owners is due to an increase in the capital-output ratio resulting from a high rate of capital accumulation. The evidence suggests just the contrary. The capital-output ratio, as conventionally measured has either fallen or been constant in recent decades. The apparent increase in the capital-output ratio identified by Piketty is a valuation effect reflecting a disproportionate increase in the market value of certain real assets. A more plausible explanation for the increased income share of wealth-owners is an unduly low rate of investment in real capital. — Robert Rowthorn
Lars P. Syll’s Blog
Validating assumptions
Lars P. Syll | Professor, Malmo University

Lars P. Syll — British austerity delusion

Paul Krugman and Michal Kalecki quotes.

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

Oil Inventory

Current outlier to say the least.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Charles Hugh-Smith — The Changing World Of Work I: America's Nine Classes

The new and improved caste system.

Zero Hedge
The Changing World Of Work I: America's Nine Classes
Charles Hugh-Smith | OfTwoMinds blog

Barkley Rosser — The Saudi Royal Family Shakeup

Everything you want to know about the Saudi elite.

The Saudi Royal Family Shakeup
Barkley Rosser

Bill Mitchell — US economy slows down sharply, government undermining growth

Is the real GDP growth rate fast enough in the US? That depends on what the aim is. In relation to the output gap, the answer is no!
In relation to the labour market the answer is no. The current growth rate is below that necessary to reduce unemployment further.
The US government (all levels) is now undermining growth even though the Federal level provided a modicum of support in the March-quarter 2015, reversing its destructive effect in the December-quarter 2014.
But the overall public contribution to growth is negative because the state and local governments have significantly cut back on their spending.
Households are also starting to save more of their disposable income despite falling oil prices and businesses are generally adopting a pessimistic view as evidenced by the contraction in investment support for growth.
Overall, not a rosy picture. But it might have been the weather. We will see when the June-quarter data comes out in July sometime.
Bill Mitchell – billy blog
US economy slows down sharply, government undermining growthBill Mitchell | Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), at University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia

Timothy B. Lee — Obama says we need the TPP to compete with China. That argument has a big flaw.

But the larger problem with this argument is the assumption that if "we" — American negotiators — write the rules, then it must be good for the American people. But that's not necessarily true.
What's "good for America" is not necessarily good for Americans — and in the past often hasn't been. Recall "What's good for General Motors is good for America." Huh?

Obama says we need the TPP to compete with China. That argument has a big flaw.
Timothy B. Lee

Zack Beauchamp — The quiet global crisis that scares the State Department

A big new State Department assessment has identified a major threat to global security. It's not ISIS or Vladimir Putin. It's not a rickety global economy or climate change or the threat of global pandemics.
Instead, the report argues, these individual problems are symptoms of a much bigger issue — namely, a slow breakdown in global governance. Many of the institutions that were created in the past century to deal with economic and security risks around the world, such as the UN and IMF, may no longer be adequate to the task. 
If the authors of the report are right, then the world's biggest problems are all really about this one big thing. 
The world's institutions are no longer adequate for today's problems
The quiet global crisis that scares the State Department
Zack Beauchamp

Vox — Read: Hillary Clinton’s huge new speech on criminal justice reform

Hillary Clinton spoke about reforming criminal justice at Columbia University on Wednesday. Here's the full text of her remarks, as delivered.

Read: Hillary Clinton’s huge new speech on criminal justice reform

Sputnik — Werewolf Brzezinski Against 'Chauvinist' Putin

In the early 2000s, Alexander Zinoviev wrote in his book The Russian Tragedy: "The main result of the change that occurred in the world is the fact that the United States has followed in the footsteps of Nazi Germany. There also developed an ideology of global aggressors, comparable with the racial ideology of fascism and Nazism, which asserts the supremacy of Western nations over the rest. The latter are considered subhuman."
Clash of civilizations?
While not focusing too much on the many examples of Brzezinski's ingenious mythmaking, we should note, however, that this character still has significant influence on the formulation of US foreign policy. Unfortunately, his speech at the Wilson Center in June is not just senile dementia, but a quintessence of views held by certain politicians in the United States, who believe that there should be no place in the world for nations, not to mention civilizations, independent of the United States.
Sputnik | OpEd
Werewolf Brzezinski Against 'Chauvinist' Putin
Vladimir Lepekhin, | director of the EurAsEC Institute, a member of the Zinoviev Club at Rossiya Segodnya International Information Agency

Andriy Biletsky, a Ukrainian parliamentarian who also leads the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion, has taken a concept straight from academia and mixed it with his own racist rhetoric, stating that Ukraine's war in Donbass is really a "war of civilizations" between Ukraine, the guardian of Europe, and Russia, which he calls "Eurasia."
Ukrainian Battalion Commander Claims War in East is 'War of Civilizations'
The Pentagon's 'Long War' Pits NATO Against China, Russia and Iran
Pepe Escobar
The former US assistant secretary of state for intelligence and research Toby Gati said that the difference is for West the WWII is history, and for Russia it is a current event.
While WWII is History for Some, Remains Reality for Russia – Ex-US Official

Now for the really scary one — leveling the United States with a doomsday attack. Yes, it is really a strategy.

The Vineyard of the Saker
Nuclear Special Forces — Only BRICS countries will survive
The Saker

Russian experts on race relations in the United States

Here are links to three article from Fort Russ today about race relations in the United States that were written by Russian experts. They are on about the same level as the recent articles written about Russia by American experts.

Expert: Democrats are shaking up their electorate through Baltimore riots in time for presidential election

African Americans may carry out historical revenge for decades

Andre Fursov: "The racial lid has blown off the American melting pot"

Ha-Joon Chang on Free Trade, Free Market, True Story of Capitalism

Five years ago Ha-Joon Chang, a famous economist from South Korea, teaching at University of Сambridge, delivered a lecture on the real history of trade and capitalism for the New America Foundation where he is criticizing the official history of economy, claiming, that USA and Europe became strong not through protectionist measures, but through the market . He is also revealing the "level playing field"-argument, used by WTO and IMF to delegitimize protectionist measures in the eyes of developing countries. Ha-Joon Chang is telling, that despite a lot of arguments, speaking against the neoliberal recipes of IMF, World Bank and WTO, these institutions are inventing new explanations, however every time their policies do not work and they don't want to acknowledge that their theory doesn't not work: "the countries are wrong, not the theory".
Ha-Joon Chang on Free Trade, Free Market, True Story of CapitalismHa-Joon Chang | Reader in the Political Economy of Development at the University of Cambridge

Robert Heilbroner: “The prestige accorded to mathematics in economics has given it rigor, but, alas, also mortis”

“Economics is not a scientific discipline like the natural sciences, and that no cumulative advance describes its changeful form over the years… The chapter we call modern economics, compared with earlier chapters of our discipline, is shallow and poor rather than deep and rich, and that the intellectual puzzle of some future time will be to account for the failure rather than the success of the period in which we have lived… The prestige accorded to mathematics in economics has given it rigor, but, alas, also mortis.” (Heilbroner 1979: 193, 196)
Economic Sociology and Political Economy
Robert Heilbroner: “The prestige accorded to mathematics in economics has given it rigor, but, alas, also mortis”
Oleg Komlik | founder and editor-in-chief of the ES/PE, Chairman of the Junior Sociologists Network at the International Sociological Association, a PhD Candidate in Economic Sociology in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Ben-Gurion University, and a Lecturer in the School of Behavioral Sciences at the College of Management Academic Studies

Constantin Gurdgiev — China's Debt Pile is Frightening & Getting Worse

Now, note that the comparatives are all advanced economies that can carry, normally, higher debt levels. Which makes China's 282% estimated total debt pile rather large. 
The chart references as a source data presented in this (see scone chart) but adjusted to reflect RBS estimates. which pushes McKinsey point for China horizontally to the levels close to Greece. 
As someone else pointed out, nominal GDP growth in China is apparently now lower than interest on debt....
True Economics
China's Debt Pile is Frightening & Getting Worse
Constantin Gurdgiev

Robert Skidelsky — Topsy Turvy Economics

Governments, too, must live within their means. So say all of us. But the less a country is producing, the smaller the government's means. So common sense suggests that governments that want to cut their deficits should do all they can to increase their country’s means, which will also increase their own means. The simplest way to do this is to provide people with work. 
But common sense and economics have never had a very close connection. Economists have conned us into believing that all the means available are already being used. If unemployment is a lot higher than it was a few years back, this isn't because people can't find jobs: it is because they prefer leisure to work, and so are not part of the 'means'. So we - governments and all of us - must 'cut our cloth' to suit our reduced means, because the previous means have mysteriously disappeared.
Robert Skidelsky's Website
Robert Skidelsky

Dirk Ehnts — Goodhart on pegged exchange rates

One wishes that the creators of the euro would have read this text-book before the creation of the euro. The TARGET2 system has worked properly, but as mentioned by Goodhart “such financing of itself does nothing to correct the imbalance caused by a divergence between the pegged and the ‘equilibrium’ exchange rate”. The imbalance bothers not because it has to be financed – TARGET2 takes care of that – but because employment is low in those areas where the ‘equilibrium’ exchange rate is not correct.
econoblog 101
Goodhart on pegged exchange rates
Dirk Ehnts | Berlin School for Economics and Law

Dean Baker — Correction to Mankiw: Economists actually agree, just because you call something “free trade” doesn’t make it free trade

In principle we could get back to full employment with large government budget deficits, but that is not going to happen for political reasons. Aggressive use of work sharing leading to shorter workweeks can also move us toward full employment, but this is also not something we are likely to see any time soon.
This means that if we want to get back to full employment, we have to reduce our $500 billion (@ 3 percent of GDP) trade deficit. (This is the intro econ on which all economists agree. It can even be found in Mankiw’s textbook.) Reducing the trade deficit means taking steps to lower the value of the dollar against other currencies. These trade agreements would be the obvious place to have currency rules. If we don’t address the currency issue here, where exactly are we going to do it?
Real-World Economics Review
Correction to Mankiw: Economists actually agree, just because you call something “free trade” doesn’t make it free trade
Dean Baker

Don Quijones — LEAKED: Secret Negotiations to Let Big Brother Go Global

Much has been written, at least in the alternative media, about the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), two multilateral trade treaties being negotiated between the representatives of dozens of national governments and armies of corporate lawyers and lobbyists (on which you can read more here, here and here). However, much less is known about the decidedly more secretive Trade in Services Act (TiSA), which involves more countries than the other two put together. 
At least until now, that is. Thanks to a leaked document jointly published by the Associated Whistleblowing Press and Filtrala, the potential ramifications of the treaty being hashed out behind hermetically sealed doors in Geneva are finally seeping out into the public arena. 
If signed, the treaty would affect all services ranging from electronic transactions and data flow, to veterinary and architecture services. It would almost certainly open the floodgates to the final wave of privatization of public services, including the provision of healthcare, education and water. 
More worrisome still, the proposal stipulates that no participating state can stop the use, storage and exchange of personal data relating to their territorial base. In other words, the U.S. approach to data protection (read: virtually non-existent) could very soon become the norm across 50 countries spanning the breadth and depth of the industrial world…
Think TPP and TIPP are bad, you ain't seen nothin' yet.
In private, however, EU trade negotiators – that is, the people with real power – are coming under intense U.S. pressure to sign away virtually all European data protection rights. As Bendrath notes, U.S. lobbying efforts, through groups such as the Orwellian-named “Coalition for Privacy and Free Trade”, have been pushing for “interoperability” between European and American rules on both sides of the Atlantic. That basically means a mutual recognition on the respective rules on both sides of the Atlantic. The only catch: in the United States there are currently no comprehensive data protection laws in place. 
If the U.S. negotiators get their way – and let’s face it, when it comes to its dealings with its so-called “allies,” Washington invariably does – multinational corporations will have carte blanche to pry into just about every facet of the working and personal lives of the inhabitants of roughly a quarter of the world’s 200-or-so nations. Such a prospect should worry us all: exploitation of big data serves today to shape our consumption; it can reveal our whereabouts at all times, our conduct, preferences, feelings or even our most intimate thoughts. If TiSA is signed in its current form – and we will not know what that form is until at least five years down the line – that data will be freely bought and sold on the open market place without our knowledge; companies and governments will be able to store it for as long as they desire and use it for just about any purpose.
The TPTB are going for total control through neoliberal globalization. It's now possible to say that that is transnational corporate totalitarianism when coupled with the total surveillance society and security state. Because "freedom."
Perhaps the most perverse irony is that while the corporations and their servants in our elected (or in the case of the EU, unelected) governments seek to turn our lives into a vast open book of actionable or monetizable data, their own actions are increasingly being conducted behind an impenetrable blanket of darkness and secrecy. And as John F Kennedy once said during a little known speech on the grave threat posed by the Soviet Union, “the very word ‘secrecy’ is repugnant in a free and open society.”
Raging Bull-Shit
LEAKED: Secret Negotiations to Let Big Brother Go Global (December, 2014)
Don Quijones

Sandwichman — Truthiness, media framing and the political economy of economics

Wouldn't it be worthwhile to ask whether the economics practiced today is, in effect, a subsidiary of the corporate mass media rather than an independent academic discipline?
Truthiness, media framing and the political economy of economics

See also World Economics Association Newsletter
Are economists superior to other social scientists?
Grazia Ietto-Gillies | Emeritus Professor of Applied Economics, London South Bank University 

David F. Ruccio — Noah’s (free trade) ark

David Ricardo's (bogus) argument for free trade is repeated ad infinitum by the ownership class that Ricardo designed it for. Recall the economic history. 

Classical economics was aimed at freeing the growing bourgeois class of developing capitalism from the grip of the landed class that governed under feudalism. The chief means of production in the Agricultural Age was cultivation of land and the surplus went to the owners of the land — the monarch, along with the aristocracy, and the landed gentry to whom the monarch had granted titles that could be rescinded. When that began to shift toward owners of capital with the onset of the Industrial Age, there was a conflict over power and control between the owners of land and the owners of the capital, the haute bourgeoisie. Property rights came into play legally, for instance, and international trade became much more significant as factories churned out product in excess of domestic needs and wants.

This also created a new subclass of finance and commerce involved in distribution of the capitalist production, which unlike agricultural goods where generally imperishable. Some of these like financiers and ship owners were haute bourgeoisie, but there were also many minor owners who worked but were also owners of their means of production. These were the petite bourgeoisie that aspired to becoming haute bourgeoisie if they became extremely successful. 

As a result, production increased domestically, and foreign trade grew with the need to import natural resources for production and to distribute surplus production internationally. This also gave further impetus to imperialism and colonialism., as well as the rise of mercantilism, the counter to which was protectionism.

So-called free trade under Ricardo's theory of comparative advantage all but guaranteed that colonies would be frozen into providing resources and being provided with the output of capitalist production without ever developing an industrial base built on technological innovation. American leaders recognized this and adopted the American System to protect their infant industries, instead of adopting the British system based British classical economics. 

Now that the US is a developed country it is playing the part toward less developed countries that Britain played while the US was developing. Surprise! Not.

Free markets are free to the degree that barriers to entry are lowered, artificial scarcity reduced, and  governments don't intervene, in order to prevent asymmetric economic power. Free trade is free to the degree that countries can compete not only economically, which may still benefit some countries more than others and some within a country more than others, but also politically with respect to national interests as a whole based on national sovereignty.

Contemporary trade agreement are largely about imposing asymmetric economic power on lucrative markets based on intellectual property rights, for example, and reducing the ability of sovereigns to take their national interests as whole into account through legally privileging transnational commercial interests by treaty.

Occasional Links & Commentary
Noah’s (free trade) ark
David F. Ruccio | Professor of Economics University of Notre Dame Notre Dame

My Forex Course videos are now available for purchase

I am making the videos of my Forex classes available for download at a significant discount to the usual course fee.

Please be advised, these are videos from a recent prior course that I taught.

People have been working with these videos and they have found them helpful in understanding my trading system and methodology. All the material is covered. These are also good because you can watch them at your own convenience.

There are five videos in all and they run about 5.5 hours in length.

  • Forex fundamentals/Applied MMT
  • Oanda trading platform
  • Trading methodology explanation and live tading
  • Live trading
  • Live trading

If you are interested and want more info please contact me at

The fee for all 5 course videos is $750.

You can click the button below to purchase. Once you do, I will send you a link where you can download the videos. I will also be available to you via email to answer any questions along the way or, if you need mentoring.

-Mike Norman

UK Growth

Continued bullish GBP...

Global Steel (another leg down...)

Some NEW bearish price developments in this sector which has NEW bearish implications for the industrial export currencies vs. import currencies.

Major Taiwanese producer, CSC, has announced a domestic list price cut of 7.4 percent, on average, for June shipments, compared with the figures published for the April/May period. 
In Poland, second quarter strip mill product prices are slightly higher than in the first trimester, when measured in euros, but exchange rate fluctuations mean they are lower in zloty terms.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Ajay Shah — Can India leapfrog into decentralised energy?

India woke up to telecommunications through the reforms of the late 1990s: the power of DOT was curtailed, VSNL was privatised, private and foreign companies were permitted, new methods of working were permitted. At the time, wired lines were mainstream and wireless communications was novel. However, setting up wire lines in India is very hard. India leapfrogged, and jumped into the mobile revolution for both voice and data. The concept of not having a land line at home was exotic in the US when it was normal in India. In similar fashion, India was an early adopter of electronic order matching for financial trading, and of second generation pension reforms: these things became mainstream in the world after they were done in India. 
Could similar leapfrogging take place in the field of electricity?

This can be done since it is already being done in off-the-grid housing in many countries, including the United States, where building out the grid would be profitably expensive unless it were subsidized. Less expensive to subsidize decentralization, which California undertook some time ago with a 50% credit initially and later scaled back.

There are now university level programs in sustainable living in the US, as well as non-profits dedicated to promoting sustainable living. A wide range of products and services is also available commercially.

It's happening. Moreover, the issue of scale is minimized since decentralization through on-site and local provision are fundamental. The only issue of scale is producing enough products and training enough service people to meet the growing need. This, of course, provides a host of new job opportunities.

Surprisingly (or not) Shah does not mention negative externalities in his market-based analysis, although he does mention positive externalities. When negative externalities are accounted for, the true cost of carbon-based energy is far higher than the market price, and the difference is being socialized. That is uneconomic as well as anti-social.

Ajay Shah's blog
Can India leapfrog into decentralised energy?
Ajay Shah

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard — G20 to probe 'carbon bubble' risk to global financial system

Top energy watchdog says two thirds of all assets booked by coal, oil and gas companies may be worthless under the 'two degree' climate deal
And they are still not discussing this rationally by taking externalities (euphemism for socialized costs) into account with respect to the true price of energy. The socialized cost that is not accounted for is paid by society in terms of reduced quality of life, such as environmental degradation and ill health because of pollution.

The Telegraph
G20 to probe 'carbon bubble' risk to global financial system
Ambrose Evans-Pritchard

RT — US dollar payments from Crimea blocked by Western banks - media

Western banks are reportedly refusing to transfer foreign currency payments from Crimea via the SWIFT transaction system.
All but guarantees the emergence of a dual banking system and subsequently dual financial and economic institutions, one under the rules set by the West and the other by the ROW.
The Central Bank of Russia launched in December a new SWIFT-style payment service aiming to move away from Western financial dominance. The system has already started operating and is said to be more convenient for banks as they won’t have to reconfigure their software.
US dollar payments from Crimea blocked by Western banks - media

The US already sees it coming. Unwilling to cut others in in the deal, the West is killing the goose the lays the golden egg for it.

President Barack Obama intensified his push for a Pacific trade pact on Monday, warning that without it, China could come to dominate the region by using its size to “muscle other countries in the region around rules that disadvantage us.”

“If we don’t write the rules, China will write the rules out in that region,” Obama said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. “We will be shut out — American businesses and American agriculture. That will mean a loss of U.S. jobs.”


Johnson's Russia List — Open economy should be created in Russia – Putin

Putin comes out for liberalizing the Russian economy by substituting some private investment for government funding.

Johnson's Russia List
Open economy should be created in Russia – Putin

Peter Dorman — Why Varoufakis’ Job Was Impossible

Difficult to do political theater and be an effective negotiator simultaneously.

Why Varoufakis’ Job Was Impossible
Peter Dorman, Professor of Political Economy, The Evergreen State College

William K. Black — President Obama Should Apologize for Labelling Americans a Murderous Mob

Bill smacks down President Obama as a shill for the financial oligarchy.
This column was prompted by Charles M. Blow’s excellent column about the slanderous way that the term “lynch mob” is used by the right-wing to denounce Americans whenever we protest police violence against (primarily) people of color. The protesters want justice. They do not want to lynch anyone. The same is true of the American people’s demands that the banksters be brought to justice.
President Obama, however, began his term of office by slandering the American people who wanted him to restore the rule of law and bring the banksters to justice. Simon Johnson and James Kwak, the authors of Thirteen Bankers, cite Obama’s claim to the 13 bankers at the infamous March 31, 2009 meeting so close to the start of his term of office that he was all that was protecting them from the public’s “pitchforks” as the defining event of the administration on financial issues.
When the political authority has to protect the security services and the plutocrats from the wrath of the people, the end is nigh. The wheels are coming off. The only what that the those in power can save the system is by imposing an authoritarian state through total surveillance and persecution of dissent. When dissenters become enemies of the state, the liberal democracy is dead.

New Economic Perspectives
President Obama Should Apologize for Labelling Americans a Murderous Mob
William K. Black | Associate Professor of Economics and Law, UMKC

Bill Mitchell — A “Budget Responsibility Lock” – a ridiculous proposal

Technocrat smackdown.
If you have read Caplan’s book you will understand that these free-market zealots have a basic, inbred hatred for democratic choice and believe it interferes with the purity of the market and its ‘value free’ determinations.
It is a particularly odd argument when you think about it. The idea is that voters basically misunderstand economics and so pressure politicians to make poor decisions about matters relating to employment, immigration, growth, welfare etc.
But if we are so riddled with these misunderstandings how could we be trusted to ‘vote’ in the free market properly, when the optimality of that institution-free arrangement requires us to be rational decision-makers with perfect (or rational) foresight?
Caplan fudged the answer to that question by arguing that mostly we are rational – when it hurts us in dollars not to be. But apparently we are dichotomised individuals who jump from cool-headed rational decision-making when buying milk to irrational and fanciful ideas when supporting political decisions [that affect one's economic future].
Bill Mitchell – billy blog
A “Budget Responsibility Lock” – a ridiculous proposal
Bill Mitchell | Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), at University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia

Dollar slide accelerating

So is that because it's getting easier to get? Harder to get? Technicals? Fundamentals?

Seriously, it looks like the dollar's rally is over at least for now. USDCAD at a 3-month low. AUDUSD getting there, too. Even euro off the mat.

Are you trading this? Making money? Wating for the "technicals?"

Come on, people.

Well that didn't take long. Useless Varoufakis pretty much kicked out. Tsipras should resign now, too. Party of NO BALLS!

Looks like Yanis Varoufakis just got demoted, which basically means, like, he's kicked out. He comes back from Riga with his tail between his legs.

An anti-austerity economist who has angered peers with his brash style, Varoufakis is facing calls to quit after returning from a meeting of euro zone finance ministers in Riga isolated and empty-handed while Athens scrambles to avoid bankruptcy. Read more.

But what was he supposed to come back with? All he had from Day 1 were empty threats. I hope this guy doesn't play poker; he'd be lucky to leave with his underwear still on.

Now Tsipras should resign, too, because he's gonna promote the same class of useless wimp to that position and expect results that are going to be unattainable. The Germans must be beside themselves with laughter.

Varoufakis lost,  Tsipras lost, Syriza lost, the Greek people lost, Europe lost...they all lost the day Tsipras got elected and said "Greece will not leave the euro." Bingo. You. Are. Done.

I called it here from Day 1.

What a bunch of pansies.

Another Liberal Class of ball-less, gutless, pansies selling out again.

I may go back to voting. You know, I gave that up after Obama. No reason to vote. However, now I am thinking of going back and I am going to vote Conservative across the board. I am going to vote for the rightest of right wingers that I can possibly vote for. At least that way I can see the person's eyes who's about to take everything from me. It's a lot better than being stabbed in the back.

And now that I've said that...

Get ready for Hillary.


What is the libertarian Levin complaining about? I would think that the City of Baltimore has to look like a libertarian paradise this week.

And this is rich coming from the state subsidized billionaire VP of the Baltimore Orioles:

" and suffering at the butt end of an ever-more militarized and aggressive surveillance state..."

LOL! Where is it? The police had to immediately turn the situation over to state level authority and the Maryland National Guard.

Libertarians are all delusional.

Developing Markets Steel


Monday, April 27, 2015

Costas Douzinas — A Very European Coup

This is why Syriza’s negotiating strategy has to play to the European gallery and not just to the suits in the conference room. The aim is to persuade people to put pressure on their own governments or change them in the coming elections.
Insightful article that covers a lot of ground.

Greece Reporter
A Very European Coup
Costas Douzinas | Professor at the Birkbeck College of the University of London and the Director of Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities
ht Clonal

Anthony Scaramucci: More connected than smart

The iconic show, Wall Street Week, whcih was hosted by the late Lou Rukeyser has been recreated as a result of the backing of Wall Street pretty boy and social butterfly,  Anthony Scaramucci. Scaramucci is also the host.

Scaramucci is like the Street's community organizer, founder of the SALT Conference, which is an annual hedge fund showcase in Vegas where all the hedgies get together to discuss their typically out of paradigm ideas. (Like buy gold, several years ago or, short Japanese government bonds.)

Scaramucci also is co-head of Skybridge Capital, which I don't think manages any money, but is more of a fund of funds that raises capital and doles it out to his rich hedge fund buddies.

I was up at their offices several years ago and me with Scaramucci's partner, some young dude who said at the time that he heard of MMT, but was not looking to get into any new verntures. I was pitching them on an MMT fund that I wanted to launch. (No, it wasn't a TV show for Scaramucci to star in.)

Below is the latest episode of Wall Street week. It was sent over to me by Scaramucci's P.R. girl. Watch the beginning. Scaramucci goes on a little depressing rant that includes all the usual out-of-paradigm shit about how the U.S. is broke and we're drowning in debt and we don't save enough. Yada, yada, yada. All, pure gold standard crap. Totally wrong and inapplicable as anyone other than Peter Schiff should know by now.

This proves once again you don't have to know very much to make lots of money on Wall Street.

Roland Fryer, AEA Clark Medalist 2015


Roland Fryer, Clark Medalist 2015
American Economic Association Honors and Awards Committee
April 2015

Brazil Analysis: Upper Middle Class Demonstrations Against President Dilma Rousseff (2) — Sharmini Peres interviews Alfredo Saad-Filho

PERIES: Now, tell us a bit more about why during the success, during the growth period when the economy was doing so well why the PT, Workers' Party--more left-thinking, more socialist in their outlook--was unable to deliver programs and support to the poorest in the country. Particularly given Lula took office on the Zero Hunger campaign, which was partially successful. But it abandoned those programs towards the time when Dilma Rousseff took power. Why did that happen?

SAAD-FILHO: The social programs implemented by the Lula administration, and by the Dilma Rousseff administrations, have been very successful. The Bolsa Familia programming in particular was launched as you mentioned by Lula under the previous name of Fome Zero, Zero Hunger program. And it now covers 14 million families in Brazil. That is about a quarter of the population of the country directly benefit. These are benefits that are very small, but they are significant for people who earn very, very little. And they also provide a bedrock of demand for the economy.

There are other social programs as well including social security, including health, including a significant expansion of education at all levels and so on. So these programs were large and they were successful. They were also cheap. There's a limitation to the social programs of the PT, is that they usually did not have a sufficient amount of resources to transform the life chances of many of the poor. Although they did transform the life chances of many people who previously could not go to university but now they can, because the expansion of the sector [inaud.] quotas, and people who could not have accessed health services but now they can because of a substantial expansion of health provision in the country.

These were successful programs and they deserve to be commended, except they were limited to some extent and they should have been backed up by a significant expansion of infrastructure as well. This is [inaud.] missing, in my view.
Real New Network
Brazil Analysis: Upper Middle Class Demonstrations Against President Dilma Rousseff (2/2)
Sharmini Peres interviews Alfredo Saad-Filho, Professor of Political Economy at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, and formerly a senior economic affairs officer at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development

Lars P. Syll — Life among the Econ

Humorous Axel Leijonhufvud quote. Another keeper.

Lars P. Syll’s Blog
Life among the Econ
Lars P. Syll | Professor, Malmo University

Disingenuous, back-stabbing Obama lobbying harder than he's ever lobbied before for this big business corporate welfare giveaway

President Obama is pushing hard for passage of the TPP trade deal. Never mind the fact that he spoke out against such deals when he was candidate Obama. It's just another example of his shameless backstabbing and insatiable penchant for neoliberal "change."

Obama says that trade is "inevitable." No, it's not. Certainly not this kind of trade: secret deals that circumvent our own domestic laws and regulations on environment, labor (even child labor), patents, net neutrality and so forth?

News flash, Mr. a vast, highly productive and technologically advanced economy like the U.S. there is pretty much ZERO need for trade deals. It would be much easier and more in the interest of our country and society to just have the government ensure that the residents of our nation have sufficient incomes to enjoy the fruits of their own labor.

We have 46 million people on food stamps, millions of homeless and millions more without the basics. Do we really need to be working to implement policies that feed, clothe, house and raise the living standards of foreigners so our industries can profit? Couldn't our industries profit just the same by selling their product to Americans who have labored to create that very output?

It's maddening to see the president lobby so hard for a deal that likely won't benefit a single American worker. In the decade of the 1970s the nation created 19.4 million jobs with a labor force of only 100 million. There was no TPP or NAFTA. It was also a time of heavy unionization.

Then NAFTA went into effect in January 1994 and from that point on through the end of Clinton's second term the economy created 18.4 million. Less jobs than the 70s and most of those jobs had nothing to do with NAFTA. It was the Internet and dot-com explosion and the whole, Y2K investment boom.

Furthermore, NAFTA's rollout was over a period of 10 years so, what has happened since? I'll tell you what has happened. Nothing. Since 2000 we created only 10 million jobs. Ten million jobs in 15 years with a labor force that is 50% larger that the labor force in the 1970s. Some job creator.

Let's not forget to mention, too, that real wages have declined. Labor's share of national wealth has shrunk and actually, it has never been smaller than it is today. Some boom. Some benefit.

For this we need more trade agreements?

I get even more upset when I see organizations like the creepy Third Way supporting this. The Third Way is to policy what Scientology is to religion. It's like a cult, disguising itself with very "reasonable" sounding ideas that people have been  brainwashed to believe in. Things like debt reduction (to save our kids and grandkids...yeah, right) grand "bargains," to strip Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid from our seniors.

The Third Way is nothing more than an insidious, slick, propaganda operation aligned with the Powers that Be: the same forces that want to dismantle the social safety nets. Their policies are policies of enrichment for the few and lack for everyone else.

The President, Fix the Debt, The Third Way, the Republicans...we are clearly so outnumbered and outgunned that it's a fucking joke, but at least if we're going to go down we can go down swinging and not like a bunch of pansies.

If we know what the consequences of these policies will be (which, we do) and know how to make some money off them at least we can create some wealth and protection for ourselves as it all comes tumbling down.

Get ready, because it's coming.

Russia Beyond The Headlines — New website offers 3 centuries’ worth of historical statistics on Russia

A new electronic archive has been launched, making it possible to trace the social and economic development of Russia's regions over the past three centuries.
The Electronic Repository for Russian Historical Statistics was proposed and created by Gijs Kessler from the International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam and Andrei Markevich from the New Economic School in Moscow.
“Unfortunately, until now Russia’s historical experience has largely remained outside the sphere of interest of global historians, primarily due to a shortage of data. As a rule, data about Russia is either missing from historical inter-country databases or is very incomplete,” the authors of the project say.
Data is gathered on a standard program, which includes seven principal lines of inquiry (population, labor, industrial output, agricultural output, services, capital, land) and for five cross-sections of Russian history (1795, 1858, 1897, 1959, 2002).
Statistical data for the 18th-21st centuries derives from various published and unpublished sources, and is standardized and arranged into a database.
The data for the Electronic Repository for Russian Historical Statistics was collected and processed by two groups of researchers in Moscow and St. Petersburg in 2010-2014.
Russia Beyond The Headlines

Joe Firestone — Indicting the Trans – Pacific Partnership: Even One of These Counts Is Sufficient to Vote to Kill It!

To really appreciate what a travesty the TPP is, and the scandal of the failure of our Congress to reject it, and the “Fast Track Authority“ sought for it, out of hand, I’m going to list 23 negative consequences that would likely follow from it. Any one of these, would, by itself be sufficient for any representative of the people, Senator or Congressperson, to vote to kill it.
Send it to your congress-critters.

Bill Mitchell — The Job Guarantee would enhance the private sector

Since Bill is the originator of the MMT Job Guarantee and its chief spokesperson through The Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), you probably want to read this if you are at all interested in MMT.

Bill Mitchell – billy blog
The Job Guarantee would enhance the private sector
Bill Mitchell | Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), at University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia

Sunday, April 26, 2015

AFP — Seven in 10 Greeks want a debt deal, survey finds

Only minority support for Grexit.

The Pennisula
Seven in 10 Greeks want a debt deal, survey finds
ht Conal

Analyze Greece — Ögmundur Jónasson: Social Justice Is The Key For A Left Government

Tackling a serious economic crisis is difficult for all governments, whether they are left wing or right wing. It is important for everybody to be aware of this, politicians and voters alike. 
There is, however, a fundamental difference between the right and the left in this respect: Their objective is not the same. Of course politicians in general want to succeed in their endeavour to get their country out of serious trouble but they tend to evaluate the situation differently. This depends on their political conviction. Left wing, socially responsible forces, above all want to preserve, if not strengthen the social fabric of society – the welfare system - while the right wing under such circumstances is likely to use the crisis for system change, i.e. to marketise and privatise the system.
Disaster capitalism versus progressive reform.

Analyze Greece
Ögmundur Jónasson: Social Justice Is The Key For A Left Government (January 28, 2015)
ht Jan Milch
Icelandic politician Ögmundur Jónasson (born 17 July 1948), was the former Health and Interior Minister for the Icelandic left government between 2009-2013. He has been active in various grass-root activities, a prolific commentator and public speaker. As minister, he gained international attention in connection with three issues. First, he proposed measures designed to protect children from the harms of violent pornography as part of his broader support for human rights and women’s rights. Secondly, he rejected a plan by Chinese business tycoon, Mr. Huang Nubo, to purchase a huge tract of land in the North East of Iceland attracting much geopolitical and media attention. Thirdly, he refused all cooperation with FBI agents who arrived in Iceland in 2011 —on the pretext of investigating an impending hacking attack on Icelandic government computers— and directed them to leave the country because he believed that they were, in fact, engaged in a broader swoop to gather intelligence on WikiLeaks in trying to frame its founder Julian Assange.

Business Insider — The bottom is in for oil prices: 'A lot of people are throwing in the towel.' (USO, OIL)

Business Insider
The bottom is in for oil prices: 'A lot of people are throwing in the towel.' (USO, OIL)
Myles Udland

Zero Hedge — Un-Pax Americana: Where One Can Find US Special Ops Around The Globe

The budget for Special Operations Command in Tampa, Fla., which dispatches elite troops around the world, jumped to $10 billion in the fiscal year that ended on Sept. 30, from $2.2 billion in 2001. Congress has doubled the command to nearly 70,000 people this year, from 33,000 in fiscal 2001. The Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force provide further funding.
Navy SEALs and Army Green Berets, for example, are stationed in the Baltics, training elite troops from Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia for the type of proxy warfare Russia has conducted in the Crimea and eastern Ukraine.
But the vast majority of special-operations missions involve coaxing and coaching foreign forces to combat extremists the U.S. considers threats.
Hybrid warfare.

Zero Hedge
Un-Pax Americana: Where One Can Find US Special Ops Around The Globe
Wall Street Journal

Heather Cox Richardson — Bobby Jindal just splintered the GOP: The unholy alliance between Fox News and the 1 percent can no longer stand

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s op-ed in the New York Times marks the whimpering end of an unholy alliance. The letter itself was a ham-handed attempt to capture the 2016 evangelical vote before Sen. Ted Cruz does. But the very crudity of his piece revealed that the union at the heart of Movement Conservatism is ripping apart.

In his op-ed, Jindal undertook to explain to business leaders how Movement Conservatism works. Its political strategy, he lectured, “requires populist social conservatives to ally with the business community on economic matters and corporate titans to side with social conservatives on cultural matters.” The governor is right: Since the 1980s big business interests have managed to secure policies that have concentrated wealth at the very top of the economic ladder, and they have managed their coup only with the help of the votes of social conservatives.
But Jindal’s hyperbolic posturing as he warns “any corporation” “bullying” social conservatives into accepting same-sex marriage to “Save your breath,” reveals a touchstone moment: This grand alliance is over....
What follows is a must-read on the history of US politics, and the GOP in particular, since the Eisenhower administration.
Seeing such a caricature of the bargain that made Movement Conservatism succeed could create the magical moment in which the party finally rejects the devil’s bargain it struck in the 1950s.
If only.

What is especially revealing is that the situation which Americans find themselves today is not the result simply of ignorance but also of political manipulation of prejudice and bigotry.

Bobby Jindal just splintered the GOP: The unholy alliance between Fox News and the 1 percent can no longer stand
Heather Cox Richardson

Russia Beyond the Headlines — Putin confesses he expected radical upturn in relations with West after fall of the Communist regime

Putin and the then U.S. president George Bush had "an excellent relationship," Kremlin chief of staff Sergei Ivanov recalled.
However, the U.S. came to believe by that moment that Russia "entered a regime of colonial democracy, that we sort of got hooked on International Monetary Fund injections and that the experts' community must continue teaching us how we should further develop our economy and where we should pump our oil," he said.
"On the surface, though, everything looked extremely tactful: they would pat us on the shoulder and cheer us up: guys, your are sort of moving in the rights direction," Ivanov said.
Russia Beyond the Headlines
Putin confesses he expected radical upturn in relations with West after fall of the Communist regime

Adam LeBor — For Nazi Industrialists And Hitler's Banker "All Was Forgiven"

...excerpt from TOWER OF BASEL: The Shadowy History of the Secret Bank that Runs the World by Adam LeBor. Reprinted with permission from PublicAffairs. 
Zero Hedge
For Nazi Industrialists And Hitler's Banker "All Was Forgiven"

See also

Grasping Reality
Weekend Reading: Benito Mussolini (1932): What Is Fascism?
Brad DeLong | Professor of Economics, UCAL Berkeley

RT — Putin accuses US of backing North Caucasus militants

"At one point our secret services simply detected direct contacts between militants from the North Caucasus and representatives of the United States secret services in Azerbaijan," Putin said in the film, released by Rossiya 1 TV channel on Sunday.
"And when I spoke about that to the then president of the US, he said... sorry, I will speak plainly, he said, "I'll kick their asses", Putin recounts his conversation with George W. Bush on the issue. A few days later, he says, the heads of Russia's FSB received a letter from their American counterparts, which said they had the right to support opposition forces in Russia.
"Someone over there, especially the West's intelligence services, obviously thought that if they act to destabilize their main geopolitical rival, which, as we now understand, in their eyes has always been Russia, it would be good for them. It turned out, it wasn't," Putin muses, saying he had warned the West about the possible dangers of supporting terrorists.
Another juicy tidbit.
Putin also discussed the challenges he faced when he first became President. When the interview's host suggested that a group of oligarchs was in charge of Russia in the end of the 1990s, Vladimir Putin did not contradict. "They came to my office, sat in front of me and said, "Do you understand you will never be the real president?" We'll see, I told them", he recalls. When asked about it, he didn't elaborate on how he dealt with the oligarchs in the end, simply saying he "used various means."
Too bad US presidents just roll over before the US oligarchs, even if they had thought of bucking them in the first place. Probably never consider it considering where the money for campaigns comes from.

Putin accuses US of backing North Caucasus militants

A controversial Ukrainian website publishing personal information about ‘enemies of the state’ appears to have been run by a NATO cyber center in one of the Baltic states. The website went offline on Saturday following public pressure.
NATO’s Cooperative Cyber Defense Centre of Excellence – СCD-COE has been exposed as providing technical support for Mirotvorec, a website of Ukrainian nationalists running ‘enemies of the state’ database.
NATO trace found behind witch-hunt website in Ukraine

Supporting terrorism and fascism.

Brazil Analysis: Upper Middle Class Demonstrations Against President Dilma Rousseff (1) — Sharmini Peries interviews Alfredo Saad-Filho

SAAD-FILHO: ....What I think we can now see in Brazil, but also in Argentina and Venezuela, perhaps also in other parts of the world, is the emergence of a new right. A right wing that is organized, that has a mass base in the upper-middle class, that is structured by ideological demands for restoration of neoliberalism, strict neoliberal economic and social policies. And that claims for a return to their established privileges, which is a common picture in South America at least, and several countries of South America. It is certainly the case in Brazil.

My suspicion, and this is no more than a hypothesis that I want to throw out for discussion, is that this is a long-term political shift in the Southern cone, and certainly in Brazil itself. I think in the last 20 years we have seen a tremendous growth of the left leading to the election of four consecutive presidents by the Workers' Party. My suspicion is that this cycle of the left is now coming to an end.

PERIES: Now in reference to your article again, you say that there was, there has been no meaningful attempt to reform the constitution or the political system to challenge the ideological hegemony of neoliberalism. Whereas other countries, for example Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador, one of the first things that they did upon taking power was actually to reform the constitution in the interest of the commons.

Now, Brazil didn't do this. And you pinpoint this in your article. And I was wondering if you could elaborate on that.

SAAD-FILHO: The PT administrations led by Lula and by Dilma Rousseff have been elected four times, consecutively, by much broader social and political alliances than those that elected the other left-wing administrations in Argentina or in Bolivia, or even Ecuador. And certainly Venezuela. The administrations led by Lula and Dilma had a strong base on the organized [inaud.] of course. But also, and primarily I would argue, on sections of capital that are involved with production for the domestic market and in some cases for export. These were the priority sectors for the government. They received the most government support, and in return they were the main sources of support, of financial support at least, and political support, for the PT.

But in this sense, the PT never had the authority, the latitude, the scope, to introduce broad-ranging political reforms. It never had the ambition either. Its ambition, since the early 1990s, has been to be elected to govern moderately. The PT is not, and it has not been for a very long time, a radical transformative party. It is a social democratic party that attempted to lead a reformist administration. That, in the context of Brazil, a country with some of the most severe inequalities in the world was reasonably successful and has achieved much that needs to be commended and recognized. But it was also limited.
Real News Network
Brazil Analysis: Upper Middle Class Demonstrations Against President Dilma Rousseff (½)
Sharmini Peries, Exec. Producer, TRNN interviews Alfredo Saad-Filho, Professor of Political Economy at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, and formerly a senior economic affairs officer at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard — US to launch blitz of gas exports, eyes global energy dominance

The United States is poised to flood world markets with once-unthinkable quantities of liquefied natural gas as soon as this year, profoundly changing the geo-politics of global energy and posing a major threat to Russian gas dominance in Europe....

Gas frackers assembled at the world's "energy Davos" in Houston said exports could ultimately be much higher, potentially overtaking Russia as the world's biggest supplier of natural gas of all kinds.
Fracking, you see.

Driving the global price of carbon-based energy down.

What could go wrong?

Lots of info in the article if you aren't up on LNG.
A vault forward on this scale would establish the US as the leading energy superpower in both oil and gas, a revival that almost nobody could have imagined seven years ago when the United States was in near panic over its exorbitant dependency of imported fuel. It would restore the US to its mid-20th Century position as a surplus trading nation, and perhaps ultimately as world's biggest external creditor once again.
The down side. Fracking uses a huge amount of water, which is becoming short in supply in many regions. Then there is nimby.
John Hess, the founder of Hess Corporation, said it takes a unique confluence of circumstances to pull off a fracking revolution: landowner rights over sub-soil minerals, a pipeline infrastructure, the right taxes and regulations, and good rock. “We haven’t seen those stars align yet,” he said.

Above all it requires the acquiescence of the people. "It takes a thousand trucks going in and out to launch a (drilling) spud. Not every neighbourhood wants that," he said.

Certainly not in Sussex, Burgundy, or Bavaria.
The Telegraph
US to launch blitz of gas exports, eyes global energy dominance
Ambrose Evans-Pritchard

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