Thursday, February 23, 2017

Edward Harrison — The negotiations over Greece aren’t about Greece

Earlier today, I was listening to an interview with IMF head Christine Lagarde dance around the issue of the unsustainability of Greece’s debt load. And she said something very telling. She said that debt haircuts were not on the table but that maturity extensions and interest rate reductions were, but only AFTER Greece implemented reforms demanded by the Troika.
What’s important to realize when Lagarde says this is that although she’s talking about Greece, the negotiations with Greece are not really about Greece itself per se. They are about the maintaining or imposing an economic paradigm for every country in the EU that Greece was not meeting – and this is a paradigm that the IMF supports as much as the ECB and the EU. Greece is just being used as an abject lessons for other larger EU economies.
Think of it this way: 25 years ago, the EU signed on to the idea of a single currency in Maastricht. The question marks at the time were Belgium and Italy – Italy because of its constant currency devaluations and Belgium because of high government debt loads. The EU figured out how to deal with Belgium and Italy by creating the stability and growth pact which said that all member states had to keep their deficits under 3% and get their debt under 60%, or at least moving in that direction. Underneath these simple rules lies a whole economic ideology though. And that orthodoxy says long-term growth and a stable currency are best maintained by liberalized free markets and fiscal discipline.…
"Liberalized free markets and fiscal discipline" is neoliberalism in a nutshell.

"Liberalized free markets" means minimized government "intrusion" in the form of regulation and oversight, along with privatization of state assets ("asset stripping").

"Fiscal discipline" means government finance based on "sound money" that limits a government's fiscal space in economic policy and thereby constrains its fiscal policy. This is tantamount to operating as if on a gold standard.

Credit Writedowns
The negotiations over Greece aren’t about Greece
Edward Harrison

Glenn Greenwald — The Increasingly Unhinged Russia Rhetoric Comes From a Long-Standing U.S. Playbook

I. F. Stone. If you don't know who he was, you should. Before there were blogs, there was I. F. Stone.

The Intercept
The Increasingly Unhinged Russia Rhetoric Comes From a Long-Standing U.S. Playbook
Glenn Greenwald

See also
Russia’s role in Trump’s election has led to a boom in Putinology. But do all these theories say more about us than Putin?
The Guardian
Killer, kleptocrat, genius, spy: the many myths of Vladimir Putin
Keith Gessen

Philip Pilkington — A New Era of Central Banking?

As I noted in my last post the Bank of England have released an official policy document that concedes that much of Post-Keynesian endoegnous money theory is indeed correct. Interestingly, they have also released some Youtube clips with the authors where they expound on their work in more details. You can watch these videos at the BoE website here.

The videos are fascinating. The language the authors use — which contains references to ‘fiat money creation’ and money as IOUs — is straight out of either David Graeber’s book Debt: The First 5000 Years or MMT. If I were to guess I would say that it is some combination of both.
This is an enormous step forward. But I found it particularly interesting how young the authors in the videos were. One of them must be in his early 30s or so. It seems that the younger folks in the BoE are finally starting to ‘get it’.
Now, the question is where this might take the BoE if it begins to spread. There are two paths that can be taken now that they’ve gotten the basic mechanics of money creation correct.
A New Era of Central Banking?
Philip Pilkington
ht Lambert Strether at Naked Capitalism

John Quiggin — Bastiat anticipates climate science denialism

… on Googling Bastiat + pollution, I came across a remarkable package in which Bastiat anticipates the climate change debate and takes the denialist side in advance.…
What’s striking, though, is [Bastiat's] a priori faith that everything will be OK because of Divine Providence [compare with "spontaneous natural order"], which ensures that human activity tends towards harmony. If that fails, and a laissez-faire economy does in fact produce unsustainable pollution, his whole case collapses.
Of course, it’s possible to salvage a version of laissez-faire in the way suggested by Coase, using newly created property rights. But this requires the admission that property rights are a socially constructed set of rules, enforced by coercion, rather than a category inherent in the natural relationship between people and things. It’s precisely this admission that propertarians have been unwilling/unable to make, and why they still rely on magical thinking like that displayed by Bastiat.
John Quiggin's Blog
Bastiat anticipates climate science denialism
John Quiggin | Professor and an Australian Research Council Laureate Fellow at the University of Queensland, and a member of the Board of the Climate Change Authority of the Australian Government

Jennifer Mueller — Chinese and American Consumers Have Different Ideas About What Makes a Product Creative

Marketing and consumer preferences. One size does not fit all. Just as there are different body sizes, there are also different mindsets.

Harvard Business Review
Chinese and American Consumers Have Different Ideas About What Makes a Product Creative
Jennifer Mueller | Associate Professor at the University of San Diego

The “Natural” Interest Rate and Secular Stagnation: Loanable Funds Macro Models Don't Fit Today’s Institutions or Data

Can America recover ideal rates of growth through interest-rate policies? This important analysis suggests that most economists misunderstand the issue. Updating Keynes, the analysis suggests that fiscal stimulus, labor union bargaining power, and more progressive income taxes are needed to support growth. (The article includes some algebra, which some readers may choose to skip.)
The main points of this paper are that loanable-funds macroeconomic models with their “natural” interest rate do not fit with modern institutions and data. Before getting into the numbers, it makes sense to describe the models and how to think about macroeconomics in the first place....
Unfortunately, the article cited is behind a paywall. This is a useful short summary however.

Naked Keynesianism
Lance Taylor — The “Natural” Interest Rate and Secular Stagnation: Loanable Funds Macro Models Don't Fit Today’s Institutions or Data
Lance Taylor | Arnhold Professor of International Cooperation and Development and director of the Center for Economic Policy Analysis at the New School for Social Research

David F. Ruccio — “In this interregnum morbid phenomena of the most varied kind come to pass”

In his Prison Notebooks, Antonio Gramsci wrote: “The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum morbid phenomena of the most varied kind come to pass.”
The world is once again living an interregnum. It is poised between the failed economic model of recovery from the crash of 2007-08 and the birth of a new model, one that would actually work for the majority of Americans....
Occasional Links & Commentary
“In this interregnum morbid phenomena of the most varied kind come to pass”
David F. Ruccio | Professor of Economics, University of Notre Dame

See also

Fabius Maximus
New research reveals the people guilty of wrecking America!

Bill Black — Why Was Tom Perez Willing to be the New Democrats’ DNC Stalking Horse?

The New Democrats faced a difficult tactical problem, however, in coming up with a workable plan to defeat Ellison. The DNC had proven ineffective and been caught putting its thumb on the scale to try to ensure that Hillary beat Bernie. The New Democrats lacked a strong candidate. They could have supported Ellison, who is widely viewed as likely to be a highly effective DNC leader that will lead the revitalization of the Party. Obama and the Clintons, however, are enraged at the prospect that a Bernie supporter would lead the DNC. Their highest national political priority is defeating Ellison. Do not fall for the “cool Obama” hype. Obama is furious with Bernie and Ellison and has pulled out all the stops to try to prevent progressives’ from challenging his legacy as a New Democrat. The Clintons share his rage....
The losers are trying to maintain control after the world has passed them by.

New Economic Perspectives
Why Was Tom Perez Willing to be the New Democrats’ DNC Stalking Horse?
William K. Black | Associate Professor of Economics and Law, UMKC

See also recently by Bill

Kenneth Arrow’s (Ignored) Impossibility Theorem

Arthur MacEwan — Is It Oil?

U.S. foreign policy, as I elaborated in the 2003 article, has long been designed not simply to protect U.S.-based firms in their international operations, but to establish the right of the firms to access and security wherever around the world. Oil firms have been especially important in promoting and gaining from this right, but firms from finance to pharmaceuticals and many others have been beneficiaries and promoters of the policy.
Whatever else, as the Iraq and Middle East experience has demonstrated, this right comes at a high cost. The best estimate of the financial cost to the United States of the war in Iraq is $3 trillion. Between the 2003 invasion and early 2017, U.S. military forces suffered 4,505 fatalities in the war, and allied forces another 321. And, of course, most of all Iraqi deaths: estimates of the number of Iraqis killed range between 200,000 and 500,000.
Triple Crisis
Is It Oil?
Arthur MacEwan | Professor Emeritus, Department of Economics, University of Massachusetts Boston and Senior Research Fellow, Center for Social Policy

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Fox News host, Brenda Buttner has died. So sad. She was a good friend.

Brenda Buttner has died at the age of 55 after a battle with cancer.

In my 12 years at Fox News there was probably nobody I felt closer to than Brenda Buttner. She was the host of Bulls & Bears, the Saturday show where I appeared so many times.

Brenda was not just a great host--smart, witty and always in control--she was not afraid to comment and editorialize outside the ideological "party line" of Fox News. So many times she let me loose on the many clueless, ideological, gold-bug morons on these shows' panels. It was fun.

She was a wonderful person. Gone way too soon.

Two Year German Govt Bonds at all time (negative) lows

So is the Fed going to raise rates in the face of all of this over there?  I don't see it happening for now, looks like continued ZIRP at least short term. US Two year at least positive 1.22%. US overnight being supported at 0.5% pretty pathetic.

Brian Romanchuk — Paperback Edition Of Abolish Money Now Available

The paperback edition of Abolish Money (From Economics)! is now available at online booksellers. It will take time for it to appear on some websites.…
Bond Economics
Paperback Edition Of Abolish Money Now Available
Brian Romanchuk

2017 IRS Tax Refunds Coming Week of Feb. 27

This is about a 3 to 4 week refund processing delay YoY. Pushing refunds well into March and could effect 1Q business/earnings.

Zero Hedge — "It's Absolutely Out Of Control": Did Trump Just Spoil The Deficit-Spending Party?

Taking away the punchbowl? Sounds like signing on to the Ryan budget?

Zero Hedge
"It's Absolutely Out Of Control": Did Trump Just Spoil The Deficit-Spending Party?
Tyler Durden

Robert Parry — NYT’s Fake News about Fake News

The West’s anti-Russian propaganda links Moscow to the blight of “fake news” but the evidence doesn’t connect the two. So, The New York Times makes the case with its own “fake news,” reports Robert Parry.
The m.o. on this is usually the same.  Reports that are verifiably true but peripheral to the point are introduced first to establish credibility and then reports that are not documented are brought in to persuade uncritical readers (probably most) to accept information that is dubious or bogus to carry home the propaganda point. The key to success is to repeat the narrative.

Consortium News
NYT’s Fake News about Fake News
Robert Parry

Duncan Green — How do we encourage innovation in markets? What can systems thinking add?

Earlier this month I spent a fun 3 days at a seminar discussing Market Systems Innovation. No really. I discovered a community of very smart people working on markets, who seem to be on a similar journey to the people working on governance and institutions, who I have spent most of my time with in recent years. Chatham House Rule, so the speakers must remain shrouded in mystery, but I will say it was at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Centre, just to make you jealous....
From Poverty to Power
How do we encourage innovation in markets? What can systems thinking add?
Duncan Green

Norbert Häring — How India became Bill Gates’ guinea pig: A conspiracy as recounted by the main actors

Microsoft’s Bill Gates is one of the richest and most influential people on earth. He announced in 2015 that his Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation was aiming at achieving full digitalization of the payment systems of India and other populous developing countries by 2018. This “financial inclusion” program for India dates back to well before Narendra Modi came to power. It was elevated to official US policy by Executive Order in 2012, because the President saw vital US security interests are at stake....
Real-World Economics Review Blog
How India became Bill Gates’ guinea pig: A conspiracy as recounted by the main actors
Norbert Häring, Handelsblatt

See also
Merijn Knibbe

Ruble is up 11% since the rate cuts last June. I said to buy it back then.

The ruble is up 11% since the rate cuts last June. I said to BUY THE RUBLE at the time. By the way, an 11% move in currency markets is big.

Rate cuts are bullish for currency, all else equal. People don't understand that, yet we see it over and over again.

Rate cuts are price reductions--deflationary. It literally means the currency has more purchasing power. It's reflected in forex markets as a higher exchange rate.

Rate hikes are the opposite. They are bearish, not bullish. Rate hikes are price increases and that means the currency buys less, not more. It's reflected in forex markets as lower exchange rate.

Another way to think about it is, a currency is like a government security of zero maturity. Everyone understands that when the central bank raises rates the PRICE of the government security (a Treasury, for example) goes DOWN. Price is inverse to the rate. The discount to "par" reflects the interest rate. 

Conversely, when the central bank cuts rates the PRICE of the government security goes UP.

Same with currency. The dollar is a Treasury of zero maturity.

Moon of Alabama — The War Hawks Rolled Donald Trump

Lt. Gen. H. R. McMasters may be better than Ambassador John Bolton as national security advisor but Moon of Alabama doesn't think by much. 

And now that Flynn has been disposed of, Bannon is next on the list.

Moon of Alabama
The War Hawks Rolled Donald Trump

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Reuters — Trump's new security advisor differs from him on Russia, other key issues

Is Trump adopting Obama's team of rivals approach?
U.S. President Donald Trump has shown little patience for dissent, but that trait is likely to be tested by his new national security adviser, Army Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster.
McMaster is joining the White House staff with views on Russia, counterterrorism, strengthening the military and other major security issues that diverge not only from those of the Trump loyalists, but also from those the president himself has expressed.…
McMaster will not be alone, however. His prominent administration allies include Defense Secretary Jim Mattis; Marine General Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and Senator John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee; as well as many of the soldiers who have served with him....
Trump's new security advisor differs from him on Russia, other key issues
John Walcott

Interfax — Moody’s upgrades Russia rating outlook to stable

Moody’s Investors Service has changed the outlook for Russia’s sovereign ratings to stable from negative.
Russia’s issuer rating and the rating for Russian government bonds have been affirmed at Ba1, and the short-term rating has been affirmed at Not Prime, the rating agency said in a press release....
Johnson's Russia List
Interfax: Moody’s upgrades Russia rating outlook to stable

The New Cold War — Ivan Katchanovski, Interview with Telepolis magazine (Germany) Concerning New Revelations in the Maidan Massacre Investigation.

Ivan Katchanovski PhD is a researcher and lecturer at the School of Political Studies of the University of Ottawa. The English text of the above interview is published online here on The original in German is here.
Interviewer: Can you give a very short summary of your theory about the sniper-killings on 20th February in Kiev?
IK: My academic study of the Maidan massacre concludes that this mass killing was a false flag operation, which was rationally planned and carried out with a goal of the overthrow of the government and seizure of power. It found various evidence of the involvement of an alliance of the far right organizations, specifically the Right Sector and Svoboda, and oligarchic parties, such as Fatherland. Concealed shooters and spotters were located in at least 20 Maidan-controlled buildings or areas. The various evidence that the protesters were killed from these locations include some 70 testimonies, primarily by Maidan protesters, several videos of “snipers” targeting protesters from these buildings, comparisons of positions of the specific protesters at the time of their killing and their entry wounds, and bullet impact signs. The study uncovered various videos and photos of armed Maidan “snipers” and spotters in many of these buildings. Unreported revelations from the Maidan massacre trial and the investigations by the Prosecutor General Office of Ukraine, such as forensic ballistic and medical reports, testimonies of eyewitnesses in the investigation documents, newly released videos, and court rulings concerning investigations of the far right involvement in the Maidan massacre, corroborated major findings of my study.
I presented an expanded and updated version of my Maidan massacre paper at the Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association in San Francisco in September 2015. This paper is freely downloadable without any registration from the Social Sciences Research Network and APSA conference websites, and it is also available on my Academia and Researchgate websites. My chapter summarizing the Maidan massacre study is scheduled for publication on February 11, 2016 in a Routledge book edited by two Canadian political scientists. My article, which includes examination of the role of the Maidan massacre in escalation of the conflict in Ukraine into a civil war in Donbas and subsequent Russian military interventions, is forthcoming in a special issue of a British refereed journal concerning the conflict in Ukraine.
The New Cold War Ivan Katchanovski, Interview with Telepolis magazine (Germany) Concerning New Revelations in the Maidan Massacre Investigation.
ht Johnson's Russia List

Anonymous — Paris On Brink Of Civil War’ Warns Le Pen – Media Blackout

May explain Le Pen's rise in the polls.

Security and order are the highest priority of government and when government seems to be failing, the tendency is toward greater authoritarianism.

‘Paris On Brink Of Civil War’ Warns Le Pen – Media Blackout

UPDATE: The Anonymous post has been taken down. Here is another link.

Adam Kredo — U.S. Government Computers Still Not Safe From Cyber Attacks

Can't afford it, I guess.

Washington Free Beacon
U.S. Government Computers Still Not Safe From Cyber Attacks
Adam Kredo

Ryan McMaken — Alan Greenspan Admits Ron Paul Was Right About Gold

AG: I view gold as the primary global currency.
OK, we got that cleared up.

Remember that Alan Greenspan said that central banks operate "as if" on a gold standard. He had also said that gold is the premier currency.

Mises Dailies

Chinese economy 2016-2017

China will maintain strong growth in consumption this year with deepening supply-side structural reform, Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng said Tuesday....
China on track in shifting away from an investment-export led economy to a consumption-domestic economy.
China's consumption to maintain strong growth in 2017
Consumption contributed to 64.6 percent of China's economic growth in 2016, up 4.9 percentage point compared with the year before, said Chinese Minister of Commerce on Tuesday.
Gao Hucheng, Minister of Commerce, said consumption has become the most important boost in the Chinese economy since 2014, which indicates that the country's economic structure has been undergoing historic changes.
Meanwhile, new characteristics have shown up in Chinese people's consumption. Demands for high-quality, multi-function and intelligent products have been increasing, said Gao. For instance, the sales volume of vehicles has exceeded 28 million, seeing a 13.7 percent year-on-year growth. Sales of SUVs under various brands have increased by 44.6 percent, added the minister.
The e-commerce development is booming in China. The 2016 online turnover has increased by 25.6 percent, accounting for 12.6 percent of the total turnover of the social consumption. "It is hard to imagine how the distribution industry would be like without the internet plus," said Gao.
More trends have also shown up in the consumption. For example, service consumption has taken a larger portion in the total consumption, and consumers have shifted to purchase personalized and customized commodities. A greener trend is on the rise in people's consumption concept as well....
MOC: Consumption contributes 64.6% to economic growth in 2016

Diane Coyle — Markets, states and humans

I was eager to read Paul De Grauwe’s The Limits of the Market because I profoundly agree with its premise that the false dichotomy between ‘the state’ and ‘the market’ has led to bad public policies and lower social welfare. The book is a short overview of the flaws of this dichotomous view of the world. It organises its discussion around two sets of reasons why a ‘free market’ is a meaningless abstraction: externalities and ‘internalities’…
Short and important. Deals with economic and non-economic factors that influence economic behavior that are not taken into account as information in market behavior.

The Enlightened Economist
Markets, states and humans
Diane Coyle | freelance economist and a former advisor to the UK Treasury. She is a member of the UK Competition Commission and is acting Chairman of the BBC Trust, the governing body of the British Broadcasting Corporation

Andrew Spannaus — Towards a New Trade Policy

International trade deals have lost their consensus support as more workers view them as anathema to good-paying jobs, requiring the U.S. politicians to rethink these strategies, writes Andrew Spannaus...
The goal is not to close borders and restrict trade, but to ensure that trade takes place without undermining the social and living standards of developed countries. Regulations need to be drawn up to certify whether companies, or entire countries, comply with certain standards. Some examples include rules on workplace safety, child labor and pollution, which can be enforced through both tariffs and in some cases outright bans.
Selective targeting of low-quality production will be complex at times, in part due to the existence of global supply chains, which exploit comparative advantages in terms of not only labor costs, but also logistics and infrastructure.
Yet the complexity of these issues is no excuse for ignoring the enforcement of provisions that are essential to protect economic well-being. Politicians and economists constantly make assurances that such standards are integral to the notion of free trade, yet on the list of priorities they seem to be squarely at the bottom.
The current political situation offers an opportunity to chart a new course, not of isolationism, but of setting clear rules for trade between countries aiming for high living standards....

Funny how it is OK to introduce artificial barriers in markets when it benefits capital but not when it benefits labor.

Consortium News
Towards a New Trade Policy
Andrew Spannaus

Dan Goodin — Hacks all the time. Engineers recently found Yahoo systems remained compromised

Yahoo is getting smashed. Verizon drops bid by 350M. 

C. J. Hopkins — Goose-stepping Our Way Toward Pink Revolution

The deep state, of course, is not a conspiracy. It is simply the interdependent network of structures where actual power resides (i.e., the military-industrial complex, multinational corporations, Wall Street, the corporate media, and so on). Its purpose is to maintain the stability of the system regardless of which party controls the government. These are the folks, when a president takes office, who show up and brief him on what is and isn’t “possible” given economic and political “realities.” 
Despite what Alex Jones may tell you, it is not George Soros and roomful of Jews. It is a collection of military and intelligence officers, CEOs, corporate lobbyists, lawyers, bankers, politicians, power brokers, aides, advisers, and assorted other permanent members of the government and the corporate and financial classes. Just as presidents come and go, so do the individuals comprising the deep state, albeit on a longer rotation schedule. 
And, thus, it is not a monolithic entity. Like any other decentralized network, it contains contradictions, conflicts of interest. However, what remains a constant is the deep state’s commitment to preserving the system … which, in our case, that system is global Capitalism.
I’m going to repeat and italicize that to hopefully avoid any misunderstanding. The system the deep state primarily serves is not the United States of America, i.e., the country most Americans believe they live in; the system it serves is globalized Capitalism. The United States, the nation state itself, while obviously a crucial element of the system, is not the deep state’s primary concern. If it were, Americans would all have healthcare, affordable education, and a right to basic housing, like more or less every other developed nation.[paragraphing introduced for readability]
Pretty much as I have been saying.

The author shows how the Left has been duped into supporting totalitarian corporate globalism in an effort to provoke a color revolution in the United States.

Goose-stepping Our Way Toward Pink Revolution
C. J. Hopkins, American ex-pat author living in Berlin

TASS — Settlements in national currency to be discussed with Iran in Moscow next week

Skirting the dollar and SWIFT in international settlement.

Settlements in national currency to be discussed with Iran in Moscow next week

Bill McBride — Mortgage Debt as Percent of GDP

Mortgage debt has declined by $1.21 trillion from the peak. Studies suggest most of the decline in debt has been because of foreclosures (or short sales), but some of the decline is from homeowners paying down debt (sometimes so they can refinance at better rates).
Calculated Risk
Mortgage Debt as Percent of GDP
Bill McBride

William D. Hartung — The Promise and Peril of H.R. McMaster

The good (assessment of Vietnam) and the bad (assessment of Iraq), and let's hope not the ugly (war with Iran).

Lobe Log
The Promise and Peril of H.R. McMaster
William D. Hartung | the director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy and a senior adviser to the Security Assistance Monitor

David F. Ruccio — Class, race, and poverty in the United States

Before the new Republican administration has a chance to implement its campaign promises and dismantle the social safety net, it’s useful to remember who in fact is assisted by the existing programs.
According to a new study by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, people of all races and ethnic groups who lack a bachelor’s degree receive significant help from the safety net. But white working-class adults stand out....
Occasional Links & Commentary
Class, race, and poverty in the United States
David F. Ruccio | Professor of Economics, University of Notre Dame

Monday, February 20, 2017

Bill Mitchell — The ECB should not become a fiscal agent

On November 29, 2016, Mario Draghi, the President of the ECB wrote to Mr Jonás Fernández, a Spanish European Parliament member in reply to a request for clarification from the Chairman of the EP’s Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON). The Letter discussed whether it would be legal under the Lisbon Treaty for the ECB to engage in direct monetary transfers to citizens bypassing the Member States and whether such a policy would be beneficial for economic growth. Several commentators have seized on the response from the ECB as saying that such a policy innovation would be both legal and beneficial. My view is that, in forming this conclusion, they have not fully understood the difference between a monetary and a fiscal operation. While I think the policy would produce positive results, in the sense that it would stimulate growth and employment and reduce unemployment, I also believe it would be illegal under the Treaty. Further, I don’t think it is a progressive position to argue that a group of unelected and unaccountable technocrats in the central bank should be in charge of economic policy. That should be the responsibility of the democratically-elected members of the government who are fully accountable every electoral cycle. The ECB should not become a fiscal agent. Rather, if the Eurozone elites cannot implement (which they cannot) a full federal treasury function then it should disband the monetary union in an orderly way.
Bill Mitchell – billy blog
The ECB should not become a fiscal agent
Bill Mitchell | Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), at University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia

Daniel Larison — McMaster Named as National Security Advisor

Bolton didn't get the national security advisor job but he is slated for some slot. Even conservatives are dismayed at that.

McMaster is a good choice given the circumstances. But he has been saying that the US is behind Russia in technology, so look for increase defense spending on high cost items and development funding.

The American Conservative
McMaster Named as National Security Advisor
Daniel Larison, senior editor

Jo Michell — Thoughts on the NAIRU

If you are following this.

Critical Macro Finance
Thoughts on the NAIRU
Jo Michell

Lambert Strether — The Term “Deep State” in Focus: Usage Examples, Definition, and Phrasebook

Lambert assembles different views about the US "deep state."

In my view, the deep state is chiefly a bureaucratic structure that maintains the continuity of US policy across administrations and takes on a life of its own separate from the administration that it purportedly serves. 

Some would limit the deep state to the intelligence services comparable to the siloviki in Russia. This would include the 17 intelligence department in the US, e.g.,  NSA, CIA,DIA. 

Others would extend it to the top level non-intelligence government bureaucracy, called nomenklatura in Russia. For example, the top level bureaucracy of the US State Department called "the 7th floor" and "the shadow government," that incoming Secretary of State Rex Tillerson just fired. They would constitute "moles" in the Trump administration.

Others would extend it to the operational arm of the dominant faction of the ruling elite that maintains their position.. Even when out of favor in a particular administration, this operational arm works to maintain policy constants as a "fifth column," and it is planted "deeply" to ensure this. Presidents find it difficult to replace people in droves and some are protected by having government service jobs that were isolated from "the spoils system."

The outer level of the deep state is the support apparatus like think tanks, policy journals and operatives in the media that form the domestic propaganda arm of the deep state. For example, the innermost layers of the Council on Foreign Relation is part of the deep state, whereas the outer layers are comprised of experts that give the organization public credibility.

This is only a "conspiracy" in that like-minded people that can be relied upon are selected and they bring others along so that the system self-perpetuates. The revolving door is also operative, linking government and the private sector

The problem here is that a Weberian bureaucratic state is required to direct modern governments, but the state is subject to capture ideologically and politically through the bureaucracy.

Naked Capitalism
The Term “Deep State” in Focus: Usage Examples, Definition, and Phrasebook
Lambert Strether

Zero Hedge — German Minister Calls For 'Plan B': "Greece Should Pledge Gold, Real Estate For New Loans"

Greece is a lesson in wringing blood from stones.

Zero Hedge
German Minister Calls For 'Plan B': "Greece Should Pledge Gold, Real Estate For New Loans"
Tyler Durden

Bill Mitchell — Mainstream macroeconomics – exudes denial while purporting to be progressive

Bill deconstructs the conventional explanation for the Global Financial Crisis (GFC).

Toward the end, Bill discusses ISLM.

Bill Mitchell – billy blog
Mainstream macroeconomics – exudes denial while purporting to be progressive
Bill Mitchell | Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), at University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Paul Robinson — Book Review: Should we fear Russia?

Dmitri Trenin, the director of the Carnegie Moscow Centre, is one of the more even-handed commentators on Russian foreign policy. On the one hand, he isn’t much of a fan of the ‘Putin regime’, and knows how to speak the sort of critical language required to confirm one’s reputation as a respectable thinker in the West. On the other hand, he avoids most of the hyperbole generally associated with commentary on things Russian, and isn’t one of those ‘non-systemic opposition’ types who gives the impression that Russia’s interests are best served by abject surrender to the United States. In light of the West’s current rampant Russophobia, his short (120-page) book Should We Fear Russia? is very timely….
Book Review: Should we fear Russia?
Paul Robinson | Professor, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa

Michael Roberts — Inequality after 150 years of Capital

The IMF and other agencies like the World Bank like to argue that economic growth has picked up so much under capitalism that millions have been taken out of poverty. But economic experts in the field of poverty and global inequality reveal from their figures that official ‘poverty’ has declined for just two reasons. The first is that the definition of poverty of those living on less than$1 a day is out of date; and second because nearly all the decline has been in China due to its unprecedented economic growth under a state-controlled and directed economy, still far from market capitalism seen in 19th and 20thcentury capitalism that Piketty and others have analysed. In most low income countries inequality has hardly changed from very high levels.
Michael Roberts Blog
Inequality after 150 years of Capital
Michael Roberts

Brian Romanchuk — NAIRU And The Santa Claus Test

Although economic squabbling is fun to follow, a lot of it is the result of the use of fuzzy language. As a result, there is no way of advancing the conversation; arguments are just people clinging to different definitions. The use of mathematics in economics is supposed to eliminate this squabbling; unfortunately, the mathematical models themselves rarely fit reality. However, we need to translate the debates into operational discussions, to see whether they can be applied to the real world. If we turn to my previous article about NAIRU, we need to ask ourselves -- does the definition of NAIRU we are using pass the Santa Claus test?
Bond Economics
NAIRU And The Santa Claus Test
Brian Romanchuk

Oscar Valdes-Viera — The Borrowed Science of Neoclassical Economics

"Science" with an agenda = pseudoscience.

The Minskys
The Borrowed Science of Neoclassical Economics
Oscar Valdes-Viera

Zero Hedge — Jay Sekulow: Obama Should Be "Held Accountable" For The "Soft Coup" Against Trump

According to civil right expert and prominent First Amendement Supreme Court lawyer, Jay Sekulow, what the agencies did by leaking the Trump Administration information was not only illegal but "almost becomes a soft coup", one which was spurred by the last minute rule-change by Obama, who intentionally made it far easier for leaks to propagate, and next to impossible to catch those responsible for the leaks.
Zero Hedge
Jay Sekulow: Obama Should Be "Held Accountable" For The "Soft Coup" Against Trump
Tyler Durden

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Robert Wallace — Hegel’s God

Sunday sermon, or weekend reading as the case may be.

Robert Wallace sums up Hegel's approach to God clearly in a few short paragraphs, which is no mean feat since Hegel writing is notorious difficult to penetrate and his style doesn't make it easy.

Philosophy Now
Hegel’s God
Robert Wallace

See also

Podcast and transcript.

The Philosopher's Zone
Hegel and Hegel's God
Alan Saunders interviews Robert M. Wallace

Eric DuVall — Trump to interview Bolton, three others for NSA post

The four men are former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton, Army strategist Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, acting national security adviser Keith Kellogg and West Point superintendent Lt. Col. Robert Caslen, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters on Saturday.

Trump was said to have settled on an individual to replace Flynn earlier this week, but the candidate, Ret. Navy Vice Adm. Robert Harward, reportedly turned down the offer. ...
Trump to interview Bolton, three others for NSA post
Eric DuVall

Jeremy Grantham — ‘Twas Capitalism That Killed Capitalism

The critical statement polled, in my opinion, was this: “America needs a strong leader to take the country back from the rich and powerful.”... 
For an astonishing 75% of those first 9,000 polled agreed that, yes, we did indeed need to be saved from the rich and powerful. From now on, in my opinion, we live in a different world from the one we grew up in.…
By this time some readers may be asking for a profile of the 74% of the final 45,000 who voted against the rich and powerful. Who are these people? Well, they are us. All of us. I have never heard of a vote so uniform: whether Republican 72% or Democrat 77%; Male 74% or Female 75%; White 75% or Black 74%; Rich 70% or Poor 79%; Christian 74% or Muslim 72%; Graduates 68% or not 76%; they all agreed. They have all had it with the rich and powerful. And as for me, I don’t blame them. I think capitalism has lost its way. And has badly diluted the value of democracy along the way. We can only hope it is very temporary....
Naked Capitalism
Grantham: ‘Twas Capitalism That Killed Capitalism

Read with:

Steve Bannon got that.
"Like [Andrew] Jackson's populism, we're going to build an entirely new political movement," [Bannon] says. "It's everything related to jobs. The conservatives are going to go crazy. I'm the guy pushing a trillion-dollar infrastructure plan. With negative interest rates throughout the world, it's the greatest opportunity to rebuild everything. Shipyards, ironworks, get them all jacked up. We're just going to throw it up against the wall and see if it sticks. It will be as exciting as the 1930s, greater than the Reagan revolution — conservatives, plus populists, in an economic nationalist movement." 
Bannon represents, he not unreasonably believes, the fall of the establishment. The self-satisfied, in-bred and homogenous views of the establishment are both what he is against and what has provided the opening for the Trump revolution. "The media bubble is the ultimate symbol of what's wrong with this country," he continues. "It's just a circle of people talking to themselves who have no f—ing idea what's going on...
"I am," he says, with relish, "Thomas Cromwell in the court of the Tudors."
Bannon has the vision and Trump is the vehicle to actualize it.

The question now is, how is that possible with Trump's billionaire cabinet, the Trump team's close ties with Heritage and Cato, and big donors like the Mercers.Trading one faction of the rich and powerful for another faction? Sure looks like it.

Steve Bannon has his work cut out for time if he is going to the contemporary Thomas Cromwell in the Trump court.

Should Bannon's realignment fail to displace the rich and powerful to the satisfaction of the electorate, there is no telling where US politics is headed. The chances of it going back to where it was before Trump and Bannon is unlikely though.

Adam Kredo — Senior White House Officials Support Bolton To Replace Flynn

I don't usually post speculation but I couldn't resist this.
Senior White House officials and members of the National Security Council are pushing former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton as a replacement for ousted national security adviser Michael Flynn, according to multiple sources in and out of the White House who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon.
Among Bolton's most vocal supporters are senior administration officials loyal to Flynn and who are upset at the general's firing. Multiple sources described an effort by these Flynn loyalists to ensure that Bolton is selected as his replacement.
The selection of Bolton as the next national security adviser would empower Flynn's allies still in the White House and send a message that his national security vision is represented within the Trump administration. Bolton is also favored by White House staffers who are opposed to the selection of any candidate who criticized President Trump during the 2016 campaign....
A worse choice from the point of view of sanity doesn't come to mind. Hopefully DJT has all his marbles working for him on this. "Loose cannon" and "bull in a china shop"are not up to characterizing Bolton.

Washington Free Beacon
Senior White House Officials Support Bolton To Replace Flynn — Former U.N. ambassador championed by Flynn loyalists
Adam Kredo

The value of sweatshops to the people who work in them is often overlooked

LOL!! F-ing libertarians...

Ramanan — The All American iPhone: Bad, Or Good?

I would guess that an All-American iPhone would be even more of a luxury-aficianado product than it already is. Would that help or hurt Apple, and how would it affect the US economy. 

The iPhone is already a Veblen good in the Chinese market where it is losing market shares as Chinese companies produce increasing competitive lower-priced rivals. Apple's strategy is not to compete for the bottom end or even middle but to focus on the top. It's called "positioning" in marketing. American-made, like German-made, is also positioning.

The Case for Concerted Action
The All American iPhone: Bad, Or Good?
V. Ramanan

Moon of Alabama — Elections In France - CIA Spies On Political Parties, NYT Claims "Russian" Interference

Enquiring mind wonder whether the CIA is running the American media through the New York Times and the Washington Post?

Moon of Alabama contrasts Wikileaks publication of CIA documents showing CIA infiltration of French politics with New York Times assertions that Russia in interfering in French elections.


Rostislav Ishchenko — The Real Meaning behind Putin's "Ukrainian Terrorism" Speech

Putin sends a message to the West and Ukraine's push for a military solution increases, rejecting Minsk 2.

Fort Russ
The Real Meaning behind Putin's "Ukrainian Terrorism" Speech
Rostislav Ishchenko, RIA Analytics - translated by J. Arnoldski

See also

Putin signs order recognizing DPR/LPR documents, visa-free travel to Russia

Russia decided to validate Donbass residents' documents for humanitarian reasons and the presidential decree will remain in force until the Minsk peace deal is implemented, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Saturday.
Sputnik International
Lavrov Explains What's Behind Putin's Decision on Donbass Residents' Passports

Poroshenko Claims Putin's Decree on Donbass Passports 'Violates' Int'l Law

Brian Romanchuk — NAIRU Should Be Bashed, Smashed, And Trashed

Professor Simon Wren-Lewis recently wrote an article "NAIRU Bashing," in which he attempts to salvage some value out of the concept. As observed by Ramanan, his defense of NAIRU can be summarised as: There Is No Alternative (TINA), A lot of what Professor Wren-Lewis wrote might appear similar to what I have written on the topic. (I will publish the relevant excerpt from Interest Rate Cycles: An Introduction shortly, in case readers would wish to contrast and compare.) However, the belief that there is no alternative to NAIRU is silly. If economics were scholarly (as I discuss here), knowledge would be additive, and we would not have such debates....
Bond Economics
NAIRU Should Be Bashed, Smashed, And Trashed
Brian Romanchuk

Friday, February 17, 2017

Rudy Panko — The Great Draining Begins: Trump Purges State Department's 7th Floor 'Shadow Government'

Tillerson just fired most of the State Department's 7th floor, which is known in Washington as the "Shadow Government"

Russia Insider
The Great Draining Begins: Trump Purges State Department's 7th Floor 'Shadow Government'
Rudy Panko

Sandwichman — All News is "Fake News" (always has been)

From "The Flaneur, the Sandwichman and the Whore: the politics of loitering," Susan Buck-Morss:
The flaneur is the prototype of a new form of salaried employee who produces news / literature / advertisements for the purpose of information / entertainment / persuasion (the forms of both product and purpose are not clearly distinguished). These products fill the "empty" hours which time-off from work has become in the modern city. Writers, now dependent on the market, scan the street scene for material, keeping themselves in the public eye and wearing their own identity like a sandwich board.… 
A salaried flaneur profits by following the ideological fashion. Benjamin connects him ultimately to the police informer and in a late note makes the association: "Flaneur - sandwichman - journalist-in-uniform.The latter advertises the state, no longer the commodity." In an economically precarious and ideologically extremist climate like the 1930s the penalty for a writer's refusal to toe the political line could be great.
All News is "Fake News" (always has been)

Bad Lenders Make Bad Loans — Sharmini Peries interviews Michael Hudson

There is no way in which the lenders did expect Greece to grow. In fact, the IMF was the main lender. It said that Greece cannot grow, under the circumstances that it has now.
What do you do in a case where you make a loan to a country, and the entire staff says that there is no way this country can repay the loan? That is what the IMF staff said in 2015. It made the loan anyway – not to Greece, but to pay French banks, German banks and a few other bondholders – not a penny actually went to Greece. The junk economics they used claimed to have a program to make sure the IMF would help manage the Greek economy to enable it to repay. Unfortunately, their secret ingredient was austerity....
So, the question is, why does this junk economics continue, decade after decade? The reason is that the loans are made to Greece precisely because Greece couldn’t pay. When a country can’t pay, the rules at the IMF and EU and the German bankers behind it say, don’t worry, we will simply insist that you sell off your public domain. Sell off your land, your transportation, your ports, your electric utilities. This is by now a program that has gone on and on, decade after decade....
So they’re making an example of Greece. They’re going to show that finance rules, and in fact that is why both Trump and Ted Malloch have come up in support of the separatist movement in France. They’re supporting Marine Le Pen, just as Putin is supporting Marine Le Pen. There’s a perception throughout the world that finance really is a mode of warfare.
If they can convince countries somehow to adopt junk economics and pursue policies that will destroy themselves, then they’ll be easy pickings for foreign investors, and for the globalists to take over other economies. So, it’s a form of war....
One of Michael Hudson's better ones.

Michael Hudson
Bad Lenders Make Bad Loans
Sharmini Peries interviews Michael Hudson, President of The Institute for the Study of Long-Term Economic Trends (ISLET), a Wall Street Financial Analyst, Distinguished Research Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, and Guest Professor at Peking University

Ecns — Trump wins trademark case in China

Of interest for the political and legal implications in the US. We may be hearing more about this. From this report, it doesn't seem be an issue.
The registration signals the first trademark Trump has been granted in China during his presidency, following decade-long efforts to "wrest back" his name from a Chinese citizen named Dong Wei, the Associated Press reported on Tuesday.
Dong filed the trademark application in December 2006 for use in the decoration and repair of residential properties and hotels, which was two weeks earlier than that of Trump.
As a result, Chinese authorities turned down Trump's application due to the "first come, first serve" mechanism.... 
Zhou Dandan, a lawyer from the Beijing-based Unitalen Attorneys at Law who handled the case, said that the decision was based on Chinese trademark law. "Under the regulation, other individuals except the person himself are forbidden from registering the names of prominent political, economic, and religious figures," Zhou told the Global Times on Thursday.
Trump was little-known in China 10 years ago, and the trademark registered by Dong was not linked to the U.S. president at that time, she noted. But when Trump became president, "abundant evidence became available invalidating Dong's trademark," Zhou said.
Trump's right to use his name in construction services after many years of failure has sparked concerns in the U.S. over whether the ruling has broader political implications. 
Richard Painter, chief White House ethics lawyer under President George W. Bush, was quoted by the Associated Press as saying that "any special treatment from China would mean that Trump effectively accepted a present from Beijing, an act that would violate the constitution."
Trump wins trademark case in China

Some agree with Painter.

Money Game
Trump has a shocking conflict of interest with China
Pedro Nicolaci da Costa

Ecns — 2,000-year-old classic becomes bestseller in China

This is a big deal in that the text is written in ancient script that contemporary Chinese cannot read without training.
Not just the "Analects" but other Chinese classic texts are also doing well on the market. The phenomenon has surprised publishers, who have been impressed by readers' eagerness to read the original texts - composed in an ancient script not easily accessible to modern Chinese speakers - first-hand.
I recall asking a couple of Chinese students from the Mainland to confirm a translation of a passage in Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching some years ago. They said that they could not read the ancient characters and that I should consult a fellow professor who did read it, a Harvard-trained American. I found that rather ironic.

2,000-year-old classic becomes bestseller in China

Alastair Crooke — ‘Deep State’ Has Trump on the Menu

Whether President Trump knows it or not, he is in a battle with a powerful ‘Deep State’ that wants to suck him into its neocon foreign policy orthodoxy or destroy him politically, as ex-British diplomat Alastair Crooke explains.
Superior analysis. Crooke cites many of the sources we have been posting here at MNE. However, he brings in Israel, which we have not featured even through it is the crux, as Crooke explains.

Consortium News
‘Deep State’ Has Trump on the Menu
Alastair Crooke, former British diplomat and senior figure in British intelligence, and founder and director of the Conflicts Forum

Ben Schiller — Economists Are Not Very Enthusiastic About The Idea Of A Universal Basic Income

These days, all kinds of sensible and brilliant people, from Elon Musk to the prime minister of Finland, are voicing support for universal basic income. The idea of giving everyone—or at least some people—enough to lift them out of poverty without having to work some menial job is very of the moment. Executives like Musk are asked about it all the time, and executives like Musk generally think it's a good call; the tech elite are some of the idea's most enthusiastic supporters.
But among economists—who presumably would need to be on board if a basic income were to become mainstream policy—support is far from universal. They generally see the idea as appealing in theory, but unworkable, expensive, or creating the wrong type of incentives in practice. They worry it will stop people from working, and generally from participating in society. When the IGM Economic Experts Panel—which surveys economists from "the most elite research universities" on policy questions—asked economists about basic income, the response was noticeably negative....
Economists Are Not Very Enthusiastic About The Idea Of A Universal Basic Income
Ben Schiller

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Adrian A. Basora and Kenneth Yalowitz — Democracy Promotion Is Smart Security Policy

Two former US ambassadors advocate for "democracy promotion" abroad to enhance US national security.
Excluded from these efforts will be countries like Russia and Uzbekistan, where the effort would be futile and/or discredit democracy promotion by validating regime propaganda that equates these programs with aggressive intrusion into domestic affairs.
The National Interest
Democracy Promotion Is Smart Security Policy
Adrian A. Basora, formerly U.S. ambassador to the Czech Republic and presently director of the Foreign Policy Research Institute Eurasia Program and Project on Democratic Transitions, and Kenneth Yalowitz, formerly U.S. ambassador to Belarus and Georgia, and presently director of the Conflict Resolution Program at Georgetown University and a Global Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center.

Reuters — Europe must not bow to U.S. spending demands on NATO: EU's Juncker

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on Thursday that Europe must not cave in to U.S demands to raise military spending, arguing that development and humanitarian aid could also count as security....
U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis warned North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies on Wednesday that they must honor military spending pledges to make sure the United States does not moderate its support....

Pat Buchanan — The Deep State Targets Trump

When Gen. Michael Flynn was forced to resign as national security adviser, Bill Kristol purred his satisfaction, “If it comes to it, prefer the Deep State to the Trump state.”
To Kristol [Email him] the permanent regime, not the elected president and his government, is the real defender and rightful repository of our liberties.
Pat Buchanan: The Deep State Targets Trump


Zero Hedge
Leading Progressives Say that Even Americans Who Hate Trump Should Defend Him Against Attempted Coup by the “Deep State”
George Washington


My travels today took me thru sometimes rough east Baltimore and I passed this abandoned chemical plant reminding me of Ace Chemical in  Arkham City and some of Trump's rhetoric.

So I pulled over for a few minutes and took some photos and planned on researching what happened tonight.

This place was a complete disaster, I can't imagine what nasty stuff is bound up in this wreckage, lead, asbestos, spores, probably worse shit:

PEMCO Corp. was on the old signage probably f-ing lead paint...

Found an article in the Sun from 2008 announcing the closing of this plant (I guess this place was abandoned in 2008 so these pictures represent 8 years of degradation).  Really looks like they just dropped everything and got the f out of there.

Some interesting tidbits from the article here:
The city is losing a historic manufacturer as Pemco International, which was started in Baltimore nearly 100 years ago as a family business and grew to be a multinational corporation, pulls up stakes and heads south. 
The company, which makes porcelain enamel coatings for kitchen and bathroom appliances, barbecue grills and floor tiles, announced yesterday that it is consolidating operations at its plant in Leesburg, Ala. 
It marks the end of a Baltimore pioneer that gave Howard Johnson hotels and restaurants their distinctive orange-colored roofing. 
Pemco President Jack McMahon said the company had been considering the move for some time, as the North American market for its product declined. Consumer tastes have shifted from porcelain to stainless steel, he said, and Pemco's customers - manufacturers that paint their products with Pemco's coatings - have either closed or moved to Mexico. 
McMahon said the Leesburg plant, which Pemco bought in 2000, is newer and has room for expansion. It's also closer to customers in Mexico. About 50 people work there now, he said. "This made the most business sense," McMahon said yesterday afternoon, shortly after notifying second-shift employees about the East Baltimore plant's closure.

Here's a good one:

McMahon said he will work with the city to make sure Pemco's two buildings on Eastern Avenue, across from the Johns Hopkins University's Bayview campus, are redeveloped rather than abandoned.

LOL yeah right!!!  Here we are 8 years later.   Believe me this place is a f-ing hell hole I wouldn't take it for free...

John Keane — Democracy and populism

We’re witnessing the rise of populist leaders around the globe. John Keane, Professor of Politics and co-founder and director of the Sydney Democracy Network (SDN), explains why we need something more radically democratic to turn this around.
John Keane
Democracy and populism
John Keane | Professor of Politics at the University of Sydney and at the Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin, founder of the Centre for the Study of Democracy (CSD) in London and the Director of the Sydney Democracy Network

Alexander Mercouris — BREAKING: Donald Trump’s press conference (analysis)

Alexander Mercouris is spot on in this analysis here.

Best line: "I would guess that already by now as I am writing this various people in The New York Times, CNN, the US intelligence community, and former officials of the Obama administration, are busy phoning their lawyers."

We're about to find out what getting even means to Trump.

RT — US delegation ushers out media as Tillerson starts talking to Lavrov at G20

Tillerson takes charge at State. Curtains come down.

US delegation ushers out media as Tillerson starts talking to Lavrov at G20


Anti-Russian campaign in US media may send wrong signal to Putin - Trump

Heiner Flassbeck — Trump bashing: neoliberalism hits back

Pro-Americanism in Europe changed since Trump won the election. Those who believed that Europe would always faithfully follow America’s course have been proven wrong. The anti-Trump movement is active in many countries and in all media. Its political direction is clear. The problem with the Trump bashing is that the “liberals” criticise absolutely everything that Trump does. In proceeding like this, they lose the ability to reflect upon certain positions and policies.…
flassbeck economics international
Trump bashing: neoliberalism hits back
Heiner Flassbeck

Real Progressives LIVE with L Randall Wray - MMT and Debunking AMI: Positive Money

Real Progressives LIVE with L Randall Wray - MMT and Debunking AMI: Positive Money

Harper — A Coup D'Etat Underway?

I do know that what is being done by this media-led, Obama-inspired, Soros-funded mob is nothing short of an attempted coup d'etat.

Sic Semper Tyrannis
Harper: A Coup D'Etat Underway?


Ex-CIA Agent: Donald Trump Is ‘Domestic Enemy’

Strategic Culture Foundation
Flynn's Resignation Is Blood in the Water for Attack on Trump and His Russia Policy
James George Jatras | Analyst, former U.S. diplomat and foreign policy adviser to the Senate GOP leadership

Ray McGovern — German Intel Clears Russia on Interference

Mainstream U.S. media only wants stories of Russian perfidy, so when German intelligence cleared Moscow of suspected subversion of German democracy, the silence was deafening, says ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern
Consortium News
German Intel Clears Russia on Interference
Ray McGovern

Meanwhile the New York Times and the Washington Post are calling for investigation of Trump's "Russian ties."

The NYT and WaPo are inside the bubble media. They are widely regarded in the rest of the country as establishment mouthpieces and on the right they are regarded as the liberal "lamestream media." 

This is a huge plus for Trump, in that their opposition is an indication to his base that he is doing the right thing. Trump strategist Steve Bannon is well aware of this and welcomes the opposition as free publicity for his team.

Scott Adams — How to Evaluate a President

I made most of these points is somewhat different way previously. First, DJT, like all presidents, faces a learning curve. How quick a study he is will partially determine the length of the curve and his ability to get ahead of it.

Secondly, DJT faces a different problem than most presidents since the teaching is done by establishment figures that the president appoints and their connections and networks in government. As a professed swamp drainer, DJT has severely reduced the size and depth of his bench. 

Thirdly, as an outsider he faces opposition from inside the bubble, like Jimmy Carter did. But has a populist rather than a party liner, DJT also faces a much more vibrant and determined opposition, from both sides of the establishment, Republican and Democratic.

It's very early in the game. If DJT can survive long enough to get his bearings, he will have plenty of opportunity to meet the opposition from a position of power.

Losing the first round doesn't mean the end of the fight unless it's not possible to recover sufficiently from the initial blows.

Scott Adam's Blog
How to Evaluate a President
Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert®

US & Russia’s fundamental interest not to destroy each other with nukes – former US ambassador Matlock

You'd think so but you'd never guess from US and NATO signals, shown by the fact that the former ambassador would find it necessary to say this.

US & Russia’s fundamental interest not to destroy each other with nukes – former US ambassador

NATO agrees increased presence in Black Sea – Stoltenberg

Putin: NATO keeps trying to draw Russia into confrontation, meddle in internal affairs

And as NATO continues to directly and indirectly support the destabilization of the Middle East and North Africa, it appears that its strategy will be to spark ethnic and religious wars across Eurasia, and right up to Russia's borders.
NATO knows it can't directly attack Russia. That's why proxy wars were invented.

RT — Wikileaks releases CIA espionage orders for 2012 French presidential election

Wikileaks has released three classified CIA espionage orders revealing details of an alleged seven-month long spying campaign by the agency ahead of the 2012 French presidential election.
The documents disclose that all of France’s major political parties were targeted for infiltration by the CIA's human ("HUMINT") and electronic ("SIGINT") spies....
The documents indicate that the CIA operation initially ran for 10 months from November 21, 2011, to September 29, 2012, and continued after the April-May 2012 French presidential election and into the formation of the new government.
 Sacré bleu! (bring in sound of heads exploding in France)

Wikileaks releases CIA espionage orders for 2012 French presidential election


Zero Hedge
Wikileaks Exposes CIA Involvement In French 2012 Presidential Election

Thomas Piketty — For a democratic Euro-zone government

The Euro zone needs a proper government : a joint budget, common rules of taxation, an investment and borrowing capacity, a growth strategy and a model for sustainable and equitable development. But to achieve all these one day the Euro zone must first focus on creating democratic institutions enabling common decision making. There is no point in discussing a government for the Euro zone if the democratic instance to which this government will be responsible is not clearly stated.
At the moment, the main decision-making instance in the Euro zone is the Council of Finance Ministers. The problem is that this Council is usually incapable of taking decisions. For years now, the Euro zone has been supposed to be adjudicating on the restructuring of the Greek debt which everyone knows is unsustainable and these decisions are constantly deferred....
Whatever the case may be, it is essential for the candidates in the forthcoming elections to finally make specific proposals concerning the setting up of a democratic government for the Euro Zone, without which all the discussions on re-launching Europe and the economic government will remain wishful thinking.
Thomas Piketty's Blog at Le Monde
For a democratic Euro-zone government
Thomas Piketty | Professor at EHESS and at the Paris School of Economics
ht Mark Thoma at Economist's View

Noah Smith — Monopolies Are Worse Than We Thought

But before we devise strategies to fight the tide of monopoly, we need a more complete diagnosis. Why is monopoly power increasing? The best minds in the econ profession are on the case, but there’s no definitive answer yet...
If "the best minds in the econ profession" are on the case, we'll never know the actual reasons.

Bloomberg View
Monopolies Are Worse Than We Thought
Noah Smith
ht Mark Thoma at Economist's View

The Economic Vision for Precocious, Cleavaged India

India has more than 1.2 billion people, and it is has been growing rapidly and carrying out substantial policy changes, but it seems to get only a small fraction of the attention paid to China. For those looking to get up to speed on India's economy, a useful starting point is the Economic Survey 2016-2017, published in January 2017 by India's Ministry of Finance (where Arvind Subramanian is the Chief Economic Adviser). The page also has a drop-down menu with links to previous annual surveys.
The title of this post is taken from the title of Chapter 2 of the report. "Precocious" refers to the facgt that India has been a democracy for so long, and that it turned to democracy started when the country was at such low level of per capita GDP. The term "cleavaged" refers to separations in India. As the report notes: At the same time, India was also a highly cleavaged society. Historians haveremarked how it has many more axes of cleavage than other countries: language and scripts, religion, region, caste, gender, and class ....
Here are seven points from the report that stuck with me....
Conversable Economist
The Economic Vision for Precocious, Cleavaged IndiaTimothy Taylor | Managing editor of the Journal of Economic Perspectives, based at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota

MK Bhadrakumar — World community sizes up a diminished Trump

Looks like a pretty accurate assessment to me.

Asia Times
World community sizes up a diminished Trump
MK Bhadrakumar, career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service for over 29 years, with postings including India’s ambassador to Uzbekistan (1995-1998) and to Turkey (1998-2001)

Russian ship off Delaware coast

Did we buzz this ship?

Russia buzzes US Destroyer in Black Sea

Could have resulted in Trump's "give back Crimea" comment.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Nikita Vladimirov — Report: Trump ally to review intelligence agencies

Is the president preparing an overhaul of the intelligence agencies?

I guess the folks in the agencies never watched The Apprentice and don't know that DJT's favorite words are, "You're fired."

Swamp draining in store?

The Hill
Report: Trump ally to review intelligence agencies
Nikita Vladimirov

Robert Hackett — Alphabet’s Eric Schmidt: ‘I Was Proven Completely Wrong’ About Artificial Intelligence

While leading Google through the aughts, Eric Schmidt made a miscalculation.
"I was proven completely wrong" about artificial intelligence, Alphabet's executive chairman said at the RSA security conference in San Francisco on Wednesday.
Schmidt has initially skeptical about the technology, and he's since acknowledged how vital it is to both the company's mission and to the global economy.
Alphabet’s Eric Schmidt: ‘I Was Proven Completely Wrong’ About Artificial Intelligence
Robert Hackett

Richard Pollock — How the Nation’s Spooks Played the Game ‘Kill Mike Flynn’

National Security Advisor Gen. Michael T. Flynn (ret.) — who resigned Monday — was the victim of a “hit job” launched by intelligence operatives, Obama government holdovers and former Obama national security officials, according to former intelligence officials who spoke with The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Investigative Group.
The talk within the tight-knit community of retired intelligence officers was that Flynn’s sacking was a result of intelligence insiders at the CIA, NSA and National Security Council using a sophisticated “disinformation campaign” to create a crisis atmosphere. The former intel officers say the tactics hurled against Flynn over the last few months were the type of high profile hard-ball accusations previously reserved for top figures in enemy states, not for White House officials.
“This was a hit job,” charged retired Col. James Williamson, a 32-year Special Forces veteran who coordinated his operations with the intelligence community.
Noting the Obama administration first tried to silence Flynn in 2014 when the former president fired him as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Williamson called Monday’s resignation, “stage Two of ‘Kill Mike Flynn.” 
The Daily Caller
EXCLUSIVE: How the Nation’s Spooks Played the Game ‘Kill Mike Flynn’
Richard Pollock, Reporter

See also

Top Former Intel Official: Trump Has To Clean House At The CIA
Rachel Stoltzfoos

NSA Whistleblower Wm. Binney — Agency ‘Absolutely’ Tapping Trump’s Calls

William Binney, a former highly placed NSA official turned whistleblower, contended in an exclusive interview today that the National Security Agency (NSA) is “absolutely” monitoring the phone calls of President Donald Trump.
Binney was an architect of the NSA’s surveillance program. He became a famed whistleblower when he resigned on October 31, 2001 after spending more than 30 years with the agency....
Welcome to the surveillance state, where even the president is surveilled.

"Hey, if you don't have anything to hide, what are you worried about?"

Breitbart News
EXCLUSIVE – NSA Whistleblower: Agency ‘Absolutely’ Tapping Trump’s Calls
Aaron Klein | Breitbart News Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter, and host of “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.”

Bill Van Auken — Brazilian army sent into streets of Rio amid mounting protests

The government ordered 9,000 troops to Rio Tuesday as the state teeters on the brink of insolvency and faces growing opposition to austerity and privatization.
How's that soft coup working for you?
The use of the army to carry out policing functions has become increasingly frequent as Brazil continues to face its worst economic crisis in a century, and with the Temer government’s approval ratings falling to the abysmal level reached by former Workers Party President Dilma Rousseff before her impeachment on trumped-up charges of budgetary manipulations last August.
Brazilian army sent into streets of Rio amid mounting protests
Bill Van Auken

Larry C. Johnson — Media and Pundits Jumping the Shark On Russia and Trump

This is nothing more than a smear job. It appears to be part of an organized effort by officials with ties to the Obama Administration hell bent on destroying the Trump Presidency. I do not know if Trump is up to the task of beating these folks back. It is nothing short of a coup attempt.
No Quarter
Media and Pundits Jumping the Shark On Russia and Trump
Larry C. Johnson | CEO and co-founder of BERG Associates, LLC, an international business-consulting firm with expertise combating terrorism and investigating money laundering, formerly Deputy Director in the U.S. State Department’s Office of Counter Terrorism (1989-1993, and CIA operations (1984-1989)^