F Financial Sector Induced Systemic Instability of Economy

Softpanorama

Home Switchboard Unix Administration Red Hat TCP/IP Networks Neoliberalism Toxic Managers
May the source be with you, but remember the KISS principle ;-)
Skepticism and critical thinking is not panacea, but can help to understand the world better

Financial Sector Induced Systemic Instability of Economy

While I believe in usefulness of capital markets, it is clear that they are double edge sword and that banks "in a long run" tend to behave like sociopathic individuals. Mr. Capone may have something to say about danger of banks :-).That means that  growth of financial sector represents a direct threat to the stability of the society. Positive feedback loops creates one financial crisis after another with the increasing magnitude leading up to a collapse of financial system like happened in 1927 and 2008.

News Casino Capitalism Recommended Links  Stability is destabilizing: The idea of Minsky moment Corruption of Regulators Quiet coup
Neoliberalism as a New Form of Corporatism Principal-agent problem Numbers racket Criminal negligence in financial regulation Corruption of FED Invisible Hand Hypothesis
The “Too Big To Fail” Problem In Goldman Sachs we trust Citi - The bank that couldn’t shoot straight JPMorgan AIG collapse Lehman
Free Markets Newspeak as Opium for regulators Derivatives Lobby Corrupts Congress Lobbying and the Financial Crisis Control Fraud
(crisis of corporate governance)
Stock Market with buybacks as a Ponzi scheme Derivatives
Small government smoke screen Financial Bonuses as Money Laundering Corporatist Corruption: Systemic Fraud under Clinton-Bush-Obama Regime Corporatism   Financial obesity
Webliography of heterodox economists HFT Aleynikov vs. Goldman Sachs Casino Capitalism Dictionary Financial Humor Etc
  "Minsky's financial instability hypothesis depends critically on what amounts to a sociological insight. People change their minds about taking risks. They don't make a one-time rational judgment about debt use and stock market exposure and stick to it. Instead, they change their minds over time. And history is quite clear about how they change their minds. The longer the good times endure, the more people begin to see wisdom in risky strategies."

The Cost of Capitalism: Understanding Market Mayhem and Stabilizing our Economic Future, by Robert Barbera

The flaw with Capitalism is that it creates its own positive feedback loop, snowballing to the point where the accumulation of wealth and power hurts people — eventually even those at the top of the food chain. ”

Uncle Billy Cunctator
In comment to Economic Donkeys

 
  Banks are a clear case of market failure and their employees at the senior level have basically become the biggest bank robbers of all time. As for basing pay on current revenues and not profits over extended periods of time, then that is a clear case of market failure --  
  The banksters have been able to sell the “talent” myth to justify their outsized pay because they are the only ones able to deliver the type of GDP growth the U.S. economy needs in the short term, even if that kills the U.S. economy in the long term. You’ll be gone, I’ll be gone.  
  Unfortunately, many countries go broke pursuing war, if not financially, then morally (are the two different? – this post suggests otherwise).

I occurs to me that the U.S. is also in that flock; interventions justified by grand cause built on fallacy, the alpha and omega of failure. Is the financial apparatchik (or Nomenklatura, a term I like which, as many from the Soviet era, succinctly describes aspects of our situation today) fated also to the trash heap, despite the best efforts of the Man of the hour, Ben Bernanke?

 

Introduction

Financialization is a Damocles sword hanging over the neoliberal society

While I believe in usefulness of capital markets, it is clear that they are double edge sword and that banks "in a long run" tend to behave like sociopathic individuals. Mr. Capone may have something to say about danger of banks :-).That means that growth of financial sector represents a direct threat to the stability of the society (Keynesianism and the Great Recession )

Without adult supervision, as it were, a financial sector that was already inherently unstable went wild. When the subprime assets were found to be toxic since they were based on mortgages on which borrowers had defaulted, highly indebted or leveraged banks that had bought these now valueless securities had little equity to repay their creditors or depositors who now came after them. This quickly led to their bankruptcy, as in the case of Lehman Brothers, or to their being bailed out by government, as was the case with most of the biggest banks. The finance sector froze up, resulting in a recession—a big one—in the real economy.

Neoliberal revolution, or, as Simon Johnson called it after "quite coup" (Atlantic), brought political power to the financial oligarchy deposed after the New Deal. Deregulation naturally followed, with especially big role played by corrupt Clinton administration.  Positive feedback loops creates one financial crisis after another with the increasing magnitude. "Saving and loans" crisis followed by dot-com crisis of  2000, which in turn followed by the collapse of financial system in 2008, which looks somewhat similar to what happened in 1927.  No prominent financial honcho, who was instrumental in creating "subprime crisis" was jailed.  Most remained filthy rich.

Unless the society puts severe limits on their actions like was done during New Deal,  financial firms successfully subvert the regulation mechanisms and take the society hostage.  But periodic purges with relocation of the most active promoters of "freedom for banks" (aka free market fundamentalism) under the smoke screen of "free market" promotion does not solve the problem of positive feedback loops that banks create by mere existence. That's difficult to do while neoliberal ideology and related neoclassical economy dominates the society thinking (via brainwashing), with universities playing especially negative role -- most of economics departments are captured by neoliberals who censor any heretics. So year after year brainwashing students enter the society without understanding real dangers that neoliberalism brought for them.  Including lack of meaningful employment opportunities.

Of course, most of high level officers of leading finance institutions which caused the crisis of 2008-2009 as a psychological type are as close to  gangsters as one can get. But there is something in their actions that does not depend on individual traits (although many of them definitely can be classified as psychopaths), and is more related to their social position.  This situation is somewhat similar to Bolsheviks coup d'état of 1917 which resulted in capturing Russia by this ideological sect.  And in this sense quite coupe of 1980 is also irreversible in the same sense as Bolsheviks revolution was irreversible:  the "occupation" of the country by a fanatical sect lasts until the population rejects the ideology with its (now apparent) utopian claims.

Bolshevism which lasted 75 years, spend in such zombie state the last two decades (if we assume 1991 as the year of death of Bolshevism, its ideology was dead much earlier -- the grave flaws in it were visible from late 60th, if not after the WWII).  But only  when their ideology was destroyed both by inability to raise the standard of living of the population and by the growing neoliberal ideology as an alternative (and a new, more powerful then Marxism high-demand cult) Bolsheviks started to lose the grip on their power in the country. As a result Bolsheviks lost the power only in 1991, or more correctly switched camps and privatized the country. If not inaptness of their last General Secretary, they probably could last more. In any case after the ideology collapsed, the USSR disintegrated (or more correctly turn by national elites, each of which wanted their peace of the pie).

The sad truth is that the mere growth of financial sector creates additional positive feedback loops and increases structural instability within both the financial sector itself and the society at large. Dynamic systems with strong positive feedback loops not compensated by negative feedback loops are unstable. As a result banks and other financial institution periodically generate a deep, devastating crisis. This is the meaning of famous Hyman Minsky phrase "stability is destabilizing".

In other words, financial apparatchiks (or Financial Nomenklatura, a term from the Soviet era, which succinctly describes aspects of our situation today) drive the country off the cliff because they do not have any countervailing forces, by the strength of their political influence and unsaturable greed. Although the following analogy in weaker then analogy with dynamic systems with positive feedback loops, outsized financial sector can be viewed in  biological terms as cancer.

Cancer, known medically as a malignant neoplasm, is a broad group of diseases involving unregulated cell growth. In cancer, cells divide and grow uncontrollably, forming malignant tumors, and invading nearby parts of the body. The cancer may also spread to more distant parts of the body through the lymphatic system or bloodstream. Not all tumors are cancerous; benign tumors do not invade neighboring tissues and do not spread throughout the body. There are over 200 different known cancers that affect humans.[1]

Like certain types of cancer they depend of weakening "tumor suppressor genes"  (via "Quiet coup" mechanism of acquiring dominant political power) which allow then to engage in uncontrolled growth, destroying healthy cells (and first of all local manufacturing).   

The other suspicion is the unchecked financialization always goes too far and the last N percent of financial activity absorbs much more resources (especially intellectual resources) and creates more potential instability than its additional efficiency-benefits (often zero or negative) can justify. It is hard to imagine that a Hedge Fund Operator of the Year does anything that is even remotely socially useful to justify his enormous (and lightly taxed) compensation. It is pure wealth redistribution up based on political domination of financial oligarchy.  Significant vulnerabilities  within the shadow banking system and derivatives are plain vanilla socially destructive. Yet they persist due to inevitable political power grab by financial oligarchy  (Quiet coup).

Again, I would like to stress that this problem of the oversized financial sector which produces one devastating crisis after another   is closely related to the problem of a positive feedback loops. And the society in which banks are given free hand inevitably degrades into "socialism for banks"  or "casino capitalism" -- a type of neoliberalism with huge inequality and huge criminality of top banking officers.  

Whether we can do without private banks is unclear, but there is sound evidence that unlike growth of manufacturing, private financial sector growth is dangerous for the society health and perverts society goals.  Like cult groups the financial world does a terrific job of "shunning" the principled individuals and suppressing dissent (by capturing and cultivating neoliberal stooges in all major university departments and press),  so self-destructing tendencies after they arise can't be stopped within the framework of neoliberalism. In a way financial firm is like sociopath inevitable produces its  trail of victims (and sociopaths might be useful in battles exactly due to the qualities such as ability to remain cool in dangerous situation, that make them dangerous in the normal course of events).

This tendency of society with unregulated or lightly regulated financial sector toward self-destruction was first formulated as "Minsky instability hypothesis" -- and outstanding intellectual achievement of American economic Hyman Minsky (September 23, 1919 – October 24, 1996). Who BTW was pretty much underappreciated (if not suppressed) during his lifetime because his views were different from  orthodox (and false) neoclassic economic theory which dominates US universities, Like flat Earth theory was enforce by Catholic church before, it is fiercely enforced by an army of well paid neoliberal economics, those Jesuits of modern era. Who prosecute heretics who question flat Earth theory even more efficiently then their medieval counterparts; the only difference is that they do not burn the literally, only figuratively ;-)

Minsky financial instability hypothesis

Former Washington University in St. Louis economics professor Hyman P. Minsky had predicted the Great Recession decades before it happened.  Hyman Minsky was a real student of the Great Depression, while Bernanke who widely is viewed as a scholar who studied the Great Depression, in reality was a charlatan, who just tried to explain the Great Depression from the positions of neo-classical economy. That's a big difference.

Minsky instability hypothesis ("stability is destabilizing" under capitalism) that emerged from his analysis of the Great Depression was based on intellectual heritage of three great thinkers in economics (my presentation is partially based on an outstanding lecture by Steve Keen Lecture 6 on Minsky, Financial Instability, the Great Depression & the Global Financial Crisis). We can talk about three source of influence, there authors writing of which touched the same subject from similar positions and were the base of Hyman Minsky great advance in understanding of mechanics of development of financial crisis under capitalism and the critical role of financial system in it (neoclassical economics ignores the existence of financial system in its analysis): 

  1. Karl Marx influence
  2. Irving Fisher influence
  3. Joseph Schumpeter influence

Karl Marx influence

Minsky didn't follow the conventional version of Marxism  . And it was dangerous for him to do so due to McCarthysm. Even mentioning of Marx might lead to strakism fromthe academy those years.  McCarthy and his followers in academy did not understand the difference between Marx great analysis of capitalism and his utopian vision of the future. Impliedly this witch hunt helped to establish hegemony of neoclassical economy in economic departments in the USA.

While Minsky did not cited Marx in his writings and did use Marx's Labor Theory of Value his thinking was definitely influenced by Marx’s critique of  finance. We now know that he read and admired the Capital. And that not accidental due to the fact that his parents were Mensheviks -- a suppressed after Bolshevik revolution more moderate wing of Russian Social Democratic Party that rejected the idea of launching the socialist revolution in Russia --  in their opinion Russia needed first to became a capitalist country and get rid of remnants of feudalism. They escaped from Soviet Russia when Mensheviks started to be prosecuted by Bolsheviks.

And probably the main influence on Minsky was not Marx's discussion  of finance in Volume I of Capital with a "commodity" model of money, but critical remarks scattered in   Volumes II & III (which were not edited by Marx by compiled posthumously by Engels), where he was really critical of big banks as well as Marx's earlier works (Grundrisse, Theories of Surplus Value) where Marx was scathing about finance:

"A high rate of interest can also indicate, as it did in 1857, that the country is undermined by the roving cavaliers of credit who can afford to pay a high interest because they pay it out of other people's pocket* (whereby, however, they help to determine the rate of interest  for all) and meanwhile they live in grand style on anticipated profits. 

Irving Fisher influence

The second source on which Minsky based his insights was Irving Fisher. Irving Fisher’s reputation destroyed by wrong predictions on stock market prices. In aftermath, developed theory to explain the crash and published it in his book  "The Debt Deflation Theory of Great Depressions". His main points are:

According to Fisher two key disequilibrium forces that push economic into the next economic crisis are debt and subsequent deflation

Joseph Schumpeter influence

Joseph Schumpeter was Joseph Schumpeter has more positive view of capitalism than the other two. He authored the theory of creative destruction as a path by which capitalism achieves higher and higher productivity. He capitalism as necessarily unstable, but for him this was a positive feature -- instability of capitalism the source of its creativity. His view of capitalism was highly dynamic and somewhat resembles the view of Marx (who also thought that capitalism destroys all previous order and create a new one):

Unlike Marx, who thought that the periodic crisis of overproduction  is the source of instability (as well as  gradual absolute impoverishment of workers), Minsky assumed that the key source of that instability of capitalist system is connected with the cycles of business borrowing and fractional bank lending, when "good times" lead to excessive borrowing leading to high leverage and overproduction and thus to eventual debt crisis (The Alternative To Neoliberalism ):

Minsky on capitalism:

The idea of Minsky moment is related to the fact that the fractional reserve banking periodically causes credit collapse when the leveraged credit expansion goes into reverse. And mainstream economists do not want to talk about the fact that increasing confidence breeds increased leverage. So financial stability breeds instability and subsequent financial crisis. All actions to guarantee a market rise, ultimately guarantee it's destruction because greed will always take advantage of a "sure thing" and push it beyond reasonable boundaries.  In other words, marker players are no rational and assume that it would be foolish not to maximize leverage in a market which is going up. So the fractional reserve banking mechanisms ultimately and ironically lead to over lending and guarantee the subsequent crisis and the market's destruction. Stability breed instability.

That means that fractional reserve banking based economic system with private players (aka capitalism) is inherently unstable. And first of all because  fractional reserve banking is debt based. In order to have growth it must create debt. Eventually the pyramid of debt crushes and crisis hit. When the credit expansion fuels asset price bubbles, the dangers for the financial sector and the real economy are substantial because this way the credit boom bubble is inflated which eventually burst. The damage done to the economy by the bursting of credit boom bubbles is significant and long lasting.

Blissex said...

«When credit growth fuels asset price bubbles, the dangers for the financial sector and the real economy are much more substantial.»

So M Minsky 50 years ago and M Pettis 15 years ago (in his "The volatility machine") had it right? Who could have imagined! :-)

«In the past decades, central banks typically have taken a hands-off approach to asset price bubbles and credit booms.»

If only! They have been feeding credit-based asset price bubbles by at the same time weakening regulations to push up allowed capital-leverage ratios, and boosting the quantity of credit as high as possible, but specifically most for leveraged speculation on assets, by allowing vast-overvaluations on those assets.

Central banks have worked hard in most Anglo-American countries to redistribute income and wealth from "inflationary" worker incomes to "non-inflationary" rentier incomes via hyper-subsidizing with endless cheap credit the excesses of financial speculation in driving up asset prices.

Not very hands-off at all.

Steve Keen is probably the most well know researcher who tried to creates model of capitalist economy based on Minsky work (  http://www.debtdeflation.com/blogs/manifesto/ )

John Kay in his January 5 2010 FT column very aptly explained the systemic instability of financial sector hypothesis: 

The credit crunch of 2007-08 was the third phase of a larger and longer financial crisis. The first phase was the emerging market defaults of the 1990s. The second was the new economy boom and bust at the turn of the century. The third was the collapse of markets for structured debt products, which had grown so rapidly in the five years up to 2007.

The manifestation of the problem in each phase was different – first emerging markets, then stock markets, then debt. But the mechanics were essentially the same. Financial institutions identified a genuine economic change – the assimilation of some poor countries into the global economy, the opportunities offered to business by new information technology, and the development of opportunities to manage risk and maturity mismatch more effectively through markets. Competition to sell products led to wild exaggeration of the pace and scope of these trends. The resulting herd enthusiasm led to mispricing – particularly in asset markets, which yielded large, and largely illusory, profits, of which a substantial fraction was paid to employees.

Eventually, at the end of each phase, reality impinged. The activities that once seemed so profitable – funding the financial systems of emerging economies, promoting start-up internet businesses, trading in structured debt products – turned out, in fact, to have been a source of losses. Lenders had to make write-offs, most of the new economy stocks proved valueless and many structured products became unmarketable. Governments, and particularly the US government, reacted on each occasion by pumping money into the financial system in the hope of staving off wider collapse, with some degree of success. At the end of each phase, regulators and financial institutions declared that lessons had been learnt. While measures were implemented which, if they had been introduced five years earlier, might have prevented the most recent crisis from taking the particular form it did, these responses addressed the particular problem that had just occurred, rather than the underlying generic problems of skewed incentives and dysfunctional institutional structures.

The public support of markets provided on each occasion the fuel needed to stoke the next crisis. Each boom and bust is larger than the last. Since the alleviating action is also larger, the pattern is one of cycles of increasing amplitude.

I do not know what the epicenter of the next crisis will be, except that it is unlikely to involve structured debt products. I do know that unless human nature changes or there is fundamental change in the structure of the financial services industry – equally improbable – there will be another manifestation once again based on naive extrapolation and collective magical thinking. The recent crisis taxed to the full – the word tax is used deliberately – the resources of world governments and their citizens. Even if there is will to respond to the next crisis, the capacity to do so may not be there.

The citizens of that most placid of countries, Iceland, now backed by their president, have found a characteristically polite and restrained way of disputing an obligation to stump up large sums of cash to pay for the arrogance and greed of other people. They are right. We should listen to them before the same message is conveyed in much more violent form, in another place and at another time. But it seems unlikely that we will.

We made a mistake in the closing decades of the 20th century. We removed restrictions that had imposed functional separation on financial institutions. This led to businesses riddled with conflicts of interest and culture, controlled by warring groups of their own senior employees. The scale of resources such businesses commanded enabled them to wield influence to create a – for them – virtuous circle of growing economic and political power. That mistake will not be easily remedied, and that is why I view the new decade with great apprehension. In the name of free markets, we created a monster that threatens to destroy the very free markets we extol.

While Hyman Minsky was the first clearly formulate the financial instability hypothesis, Keynes also understood this dynamic pretty well. He postulated that a world with a large financial sector and an excessive emphasis on the production of investment products creates instability both in terms of output and prices. In other words it automatically tends to generate credit and asset bubbles.  The key driver is the fact that financial professionals generally risk other people’s money and due to this fact have asymmetrical incentives:

This asymmetry is not a new observation of this systemic problem. Andrew Jackson noted it in much more polemic way long ago:

“Gentlemen, I have had men watching you for a long time and I am convinced that you have used the funds of the bank to speculate in the breadstuffs of the country. When you won, you divided the profits amongst you, and when you lost, you charged it to the bank. You tell me that if I take the deposits from the bank and annul its charter, I shall ruin ten thousand families. That may be true, gentlemen, but that is your sin! Should I let you go on, you will ruin fifty thousand families, and that would be my sin! You are a den of vipers and thieves. I intend to rout you out, and by the grace of the Eternal God, will rout you out.”

This asymmetrical incentives ensure that the financial system is structurally biased toward taking on more risk than what should be taken. In other words it naturally tend to slide to the casino model, the with omnipresent reckless gambling as the primary and the most profitable mode of operation while an opportunities last.  The only way to counter this is to throw sand into the wheels of financial mechanism:  enforce strict regulations, limit money supplies and periodically jail too enthusiastic bankers. The latter is as important or even more important as the other two because bankers tend to abuse "limited liability" status like no other sector.

Asset inflation over the past 10 years and the subsequent catastrophe incurred is a way classic behavior of dynamic system with strong positive feedback loop.  Such behavior does not depends of personalities of bankers or policymakers, but is an immanent property of this class of dynamic systems. And the main driving force here was deregulation. So its important that new regulation has safety feature which make removal of it more complicated and requiring bigger majority like is the case with constitutional issues.

Another fact was the fact that due to perverted incentives, accounting in the banks was fraudulent from the very beginning and it was fraudulent on purpose.  Essentially accounting in banks automatically become as bad as law enforcement permits. This is a classic case of control fraud and from prevention standpoint is make sense to establish huge penalties for auditors, which might hurt healthy institutions but help to ensure that the most fraudulent institution lose these bank charter before affecting the whole system.  With the anti-regulatory zeal of Bush II administration the level of auditing became too superficial, almost non-existent. I remember perverted dances with Sarbanes–Oxley when it was clear from the very beginning that the real goal is not to strengthen accounting but to earn fees and to create as much profitable red tape as possible, in perfect Soviet bureaucracy style.

Deregulation also increases systemic risk by influencing the real goals of financial organizations. At some point of deregulation process the goal of higher remuneration for the top brass becomes self-sustainable trend  and replaces all other goals of the financial organization. This is the essence of  Martin Taylor’s, the former chief executive of Barclays,  article FT.com - Innumerate bankers were ripe for a reckoning in the Financial Times (Dec 15, 2009), which is worth reading in its entirety:

City people have always been paid well relative to others, but megabonuses are quite new. From my own experience, in the mid-1990s no more than four or five employees of Barclays’ then investment bank were paid more than £1m, and no one got near £2m. Around the turn of the millennium across the market things began to take off, and accelerated rapidly – after a pause in 2001-03 – so that exceptionally high remuneration, not just individually, but in total, was paid out between 2004 and 2007.

Observers of financial services saw unbelievable prosperity and apparently immense value added. Yet two years later the whole industry was bankrupt. A simple reason underlies this: any industry that pays out in cash colossal accounting profits that are largely imaginary will go bust quickly. Not only has the industry – and by extension societies that depend on it – been spending money that is no longer there, it has been giving away money that it only imagined it had in the first place. Worse, it seems to want to do it all again.

What were the sources of this imaginary wealth?

In the last two of these the bank was not receiving any income, merely “booking revenues”. How could they pay this non-existent wealth out in cash to their employees? Because they had no measure of cash flow to tell them they were idiots, and because everyone else was doing it. Paying out 50 per cent of revenues to staff had become the rule, even when the “revenues” did not actually consist of money.

In the next phase instability is amplified by the way governments and central banks respond to crises caused by credit bubble: the state has powerful means to end a recession, but the policies it uses give rise to the next phase of instability, the next bubble…. When money is virtually free – or, at least, at 0.5 per cent – traders feel stupid if they don’t leverage up to the hilt. Thus previous bubble and crash become a dress rehearsal for the next.

Resulting self-sustaining "boom-bust" cycle is very close how electronic systems with positive feedback loop behave and   cannot be explained by neo-classical macroeconomic models. Like with electronic devices the financial institution in this mode are unable to provide the services that are needed.

As Minsky noted long ago (sited from Stephen Mihm  Why capitalism fails Boston Globe):

Modern finance, he argued, was far from the stabilizing force that mainstream economics portrayed: rather, it was a system that created the illusion of stability while simultaneously creating the conditions for an inevitable and dramatic collapse.

...our whole financial system contains the seeds of its own destruction. “Instability,” he wrote, “is an inherent and inescapable flaw of capitalism.”

Minsky’s vision might have been dark, but he was not a fatalist; he believed it was possible to craft policies that could blunt the collateral damage caused by financial crises. But with a growing number of economists eager to declare the recession over, and the crisis itself apparently behind us, these policies may prove as discomforting as the theories that prompted them in the first place. Indeed, as economists re-embrace Minsky’s prophetic insights, it is far from clear that they’re ready to reckon with the full implications of what he saw.

And he understood the roots of the current credit bubble much better that neoclassical economists like Bernanke: 
As people forget that failure is a possibility, a “euphoric economy” eventually develops, fueled by the rise of far riskier borrowers - what [Minsky] called speculative borrowers, those whose income would cover interest payments but not the principal; and those he called “Ponzi borrowers,” those whose income could cover neither, and could only pay their bills by borrowing still further.

As these latter categories grew, the overall economy would shift from a conservative but profitable environment to a much more freewheeling system dominated by players whose survival depended not on sound business plans, but on borrowed money and freely available credit.

Minsky’s financial instability hypothesis suggests that when optimism is high and ample funds are available for investment, investors tend to migrate from the safe hedge end of the Minsky spectrum to the risky speculative and Ponzi end. Indeed, in the current crisis, investors tried to raise returns by increasing leverage and switching to financing via short-term—sometimes overnight— borrowing (Too late to learn?):

In the church of Friedman, inflation was the ol' devil tempting the good folk; the 1980s seemed to prove that, let loose, it would cause untold havoc on the populace. But, as Barbera notes:

The last five major global cyclical events were the early 1990s recession - largely occasioned by the US Savings & Loan crisis, the collapse of Japan Inc after the stock market crash of 1990, the Asian crisis of the mid-1990s, the fabulous technology boom/bust cycle at the turn of the millennium, and the unprecedented rise and then collapse for US residential real estate in 2007-2008. All five episodes delivered recessions, either global or regional. In no case was there a significant prior acceleration of wages and general prices. In each case, an investment boom and an associated asset market ran to improbable heights and then collapsed. From 1945 to 1985, there was no recession caused by the instability of investment prompted by financial speculation - and since 1985 there has been no recession that has not been caused by these factors.
Thus, meet the devil in Minsky's paradise - "an investment boom and an associated asset market [that] ran to improbable heights and then collapsed".

According the Barbera, "Minsky's financial instability hypothesis depends critically on what amounts to a sociological insight. People change their minds about taking risks. They don't make a one-time rational judgment about debt use and stock market exposure and stick to it. Instead, they change their minds over time. And history is quite clear about how they change their minds. The longer the good times endure, the more people begin to see wisdom in risky strategies."

Current economy state can be called following Paul McCulley a "stable disequilibrium" very similar to a state  a sand pile.  All this pile of  stocks, debt instruments, derivatives, credit default swaps and God know corresponds to a  pile of sand that is on the verse of losing stability. Each financial player works hard to maximize their own personal outcome but the "invisible hand" effect in adding sand to the pile that is increasing systemic instability. According to Minsky, the longer such situation continues the more likely and violent an "avalanche".

The late Hunt Taylor wrote, in 2006:

"Let us start with what we know. First, these markets look nothing like anything I've ever encountered before. Their stunning complexity, the staggering number of tradable instruments and their interconnectedness, the light-speed at which information moves, the degree to which the movement of one instrument triggers nonlinear reactions along chains of related derivatives, and the requisite level of mathematics necessary to price them speak to the reality that we are now sailing in uncharted waters.

"... I've had 30-plus years of learning experiences in markets, all of which tell me that technology and telecommunications will not do away with human greed and ignorance. I think we will drive the car faster and faster until something bad happens. And I think it will come, like a comet, from that part of the night sky where we least expect it."

This is a gold age for bankers as Simon Johnson wrote in New Republic (The Next Financial Crisis ):

Banking was once a dangerous profession. In Britain, for instance, bankers faced “unlimited liability”--that is, if you ran a bank, and the bank couldn’t repay depositors or other creditors, those people had the right to confiscate all your personal assets and income until you repaid. It wasn’t until the second half of the nineteenth century that Britain established limited liability for bank owners. From that point on, British bankers no longer assumed much financial risk themselves.

In the United States, there was great experimentation with banking during the 1800s, but those involved in the enterprise typically made a substantial commitment of their own capital. For example, there was a well-established tradition of “double liability,” in which stockholders were responsible for twice the original value of their shares in a bank. This encouraged stockholders to carefully monitor bank executives and employees. And, in turn, it placed a lot of pressure on those who managed banks. If they fared poorly, they typically faced personal and professional ruin. The idea that a bank executive would retain wealth and social status in the event of a self-induced calamity would have struck everyone--including bank executives themselves--as ludicrous.

Enter, in the early part of the twentieth century, the Federal Reserve. The Fed was founded in 1913, but discussion about whether to create a central bank had swirled for years. “No one can carefully study the experience of the other great commercial nations,” argued Republican Senator Nelson Aldrich in an influential 1909 speech, “without being convinced that disastrous results of recurring financial crises have been successfully prevented by a proper organization of capital and by the adoption of wise methods of banking and of currency”--in other words, a central bank. In November 1910, Aldrich and a small group of top financiers met on an isolated island off the coast of Georgia. There, they hammered out a draft plan to create a strong central bank that would be owned by banks themselves.

What these bankers essentially wanted was a bailout mechanism for the aftermath of speculative crashes -- something more durable than J.P. Morgan, who saved the day in the Panic of 1907 but couldn’t be counted on to live forever. While they sought informal government backing and substantial government financial support for their new venture, the bankers also wanted it to remain free of government interference, oversight, or control.

Another destabilizing fact is so called myth of invisible hand which is closely related to the myth about market self-regulation. The misunderstood argument of Adam Smith [1776], the founder of modern economics, that free markets led to efficient outcomes, “as if by an invisible hand” has played a central role in these debates: it suggested that we could, by and large, rely on markets without government intervention. About "invisible hand" deification, see The Invisible Hand, Trumped by Darwin - NYTimes.com.

The concept of Minsky moment

The moment in the financial system when the quantity of debt turns into quality and produces yet another financial crisis is called Minsky moment. In other words the “Minsky moment” is the time when an unsustainable financial boom turns into uncontrollable collapse of financial markets (aka financial crash). The existence of Minsky moments is one of the most important counterargument against financial market self-regulation.  It also expose free market fundamentalists such as "former Maestro" Greenspan as charlatans. Greenspan actually implicitly admitted that he is and that it was he, who was the "machinist"  who helped to bring the USA economic train off the rails in 2008 via deregulation  and dismantling the New Deal installed safeguards. 

Here how it is explained by Stephen Mihm in Boston Globe in 2009 in the after math of 2008 financial crisis:

“Minsky” was shorthand for Hyman Minsky, an American macroeconomist who died over a decade ago.  He predicted almost exactly the kind of meltdown that recently hammered the global economy. He believed in capitalism, but also believed it had almost a genetic weakness. Modern finance, he argued, was far from the stabilizing force that mainstream economics portrayed: rather, it was a system that created the illusion of stability while simultaneously creating the conditions for an inevitable and dramatic collapse.

In other words, the one person who foresaw the crisis also believed that our whole financial system contains the seeds of its own destruction. “Instability,” he wrote, “is an inherent and inescapable flaw of capitalism.”

Minsky believed it was possible to craft policies that could blunt the collateral damage caused by financial crises. As economists re-embrace Minsky’s prophetic insights, it is far from clear that they’re ready to reckon with the full implications of what he saw.

Minsky theory was not well received due to powerful orthodoxy, born in the years after World War II, known as the neoclassical synthesis. The older belief in a self-regulating, self-stabilizing free market had selectively absorbed a few insights from John Maynard Keynes, the great economist of the 1930s who wrote extensively of the ways that capitalism might fail to maintain full employment. Most economists still believed that free-market capitalism was a fundamentally stable basis for an economy, though thanks to Keynes, some now acknowledged that government might under certain circumstances play a role in keeping the economy - and employment - on an even keel.

Economists like Paul Samuelson became the public face of the new establishment; he and others at a handful of top universities became deeply influential in Washington. In theory, Minsky could have been an academic star in this new establishment: Like Samuelson, he earned his doctorate in economics at Harvard University, where he studied with legendary Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter, as well as future Nobel laureate Wassily Leontief.

But Minsky was cut from different cloth than many of the other big names. The descendent of immigrants from Minsk, in modern-day Belarus, Minsky was a red-diaper baby, the son of Menshevik socialists. While most economists spent the 1950s and 1960s toiling over mathematical models, Minsky pursued research on poverty, hardly the hottest subfield of economics. With long, wild, white hair, Minsky was closer to the counterculture than to mainstream economics. He was, recalls the economist L. Randall Wray, a former student, a “character.”

So while his colleagues from graduate school went on to win Nobel prizes and rise to the top of academia, Minsky languished. He drifted from Brown to Berkeley and eventually to Washington University. Indeed, many economists weren’t even aware of his work. One assessment of Minsky published in 1997 simply noted that his “work has not had a major influence in the macroeconomic discussions of the last thirty years.”

Yet he was busy. In addition to poverty, Minsky began to delve into the field of finance, which despite its seeming importance had no place in the theories formulated by Samuelson and others. He also began to ask a simple, if disturbing question: “Can ‘it’ happen again?” - where “it” was, like Harry Potter’s nemesis Voldemort, the thing that could not be named: the Great Depression.

In his writings, Minsky looked to his intellectual hero, Keynes, arguably the greatest economist of the 20th century. But where most economists drew a single, simplistic lesson from Keynes - that government could step in and micromanage the economy, smooth out the business cycle, and keep things on an even keel - Minsky had no interest in what he and a handful of other dissident economists came to call “bastard Keynesianism.”

Instead, Minsky drew his own, far darker, lessons from Keynes’s landmark writings, which dealt not only with the problem of unemployment, but with money and banking. Although Keynes had never stated this explicitly, Minsky argued that Keynes’s collective work amounted to a powerful argument that capitalism was by its very nature unstable and prone to collapse. Far from trending toward some magical state of equilibrium, capitalism would inevitably do the opposite. It would lurch over a cliff.

This insight bore the stamp of his advisor Joseph Schumpeter, the noted Austrian economist now famous for documenting capitalism’s ceaseless process of “creative destruction.” But Minsky spent more time thinking about destruction than creation. In doing so, he formulated an intriguing theory: not only was capitalism prone to collapse, he argued, it was precisely its periods of economic stability that would set the stage for monumental crises.

Minsky called his idea the “Financial Instability Hypothesis.” In the wake of a depression, he noted, financial institutions are extraordinarily conservative, as are businesses. With the borrowers and the lenders who fuel the economy all steering clear of high-risk deals, things go smoothly: loans are almost always paid on time, businesses generally succeed, and everyone does well. That success, however, inevitably encourages borrowers and lenders to take on more risk in the reasonable hope of making more money. As Minsky observed, “Success breeds a disregard of the possibility of failure.”

As people forget that failure is a possibility, a “euphoric economy” eventually develops, fueled by the rise of far riskier borrowers - what he called speculative borrowers, those whose income would cover interest payments but not the principal; and those he called “Ponzi borrowers,” those whose income could cover neither, and could only pay their bills by borrowing still further. As these latter categories grew, the overall economy would shift from a conservative but profitable environment to a much more freewheeling system dominated by players whose survival depended not on sound business plans, but on borrowed money and freely available credit.

Once that kind of economy had developed, any panic could wreck the market. The failure of a single firm, for example, or the revelation of a staggering fraud could trigger fear and a sudden, economy-wide attempt to shed debt. This watershed moment - what was later dubbed the “Minsky moment” - would create an environment deeply inhospitable to all borrowers. The speculators and Ponzi borrowers would collapse first, as they lost access to the credit they needed to survive. Even the more stable players might find themselves unable to pay their debt without selling off assets; their forced sales would send asset prices spiraling downward, and inevitably, the entire rickety financial edifice would start to collapse. Businesses would falter, and the crisis would spill over to the “real” economy that depended on the now-collapsing financial system.

From the 1960s onward, Minsky elaborated on this hypothesis. At the time he believed that this shift was already underway: postwar stability, financial innovation, and the receding memory of the Great Depression were gradually setting the stage for a crisis of epic proportions. Most of what he had to say fell on deaf ears. The 1960s were an era of solid growth, and although the economic stagnation of the 1970s was a blow to mainstream neo-Keynesian economics, it did not send policymakers scurrying to Minsky. Instead, a new free market fundamentalism took root: government was the problem, not the solution.

Moreover, the new dogma coincided with a remarkable era of stability. The period from the late 1980s onward has been dubbed the “Great Moderation,” a time of shallow recessions and great resilience among most major industrial economies. Things had never been more stable. The likelihood that “it” could happen again now seemed laughable.

Yet throughout this period, the financial system - not the economy, but finance as an industry - was growing by leaps and bounds. Minsky spent the last years of his life, in the early 1990s, warning of the dangers of securitization and other forms of financial innovation, but few economists listened. Nor did they pay attention to consumers’ and companies’ growing dependence on debt, and the growing use of leverage within the financial system.

By the end of the 20th century, the financial system that Minsky had warned about had materialized, complete with speculative borrowers, Ponzi borrowers, and precious few of the conservative borrowers who were the bedrock of a truly stable economy. Over decades, we really had forgotten the meaning of risk. When storied financial firms started to fall, sending shockwaves through the “real” economy, his predictions started to look a lot like a road map.

“This wasn’t a Minsky moment,” explains Randall Wray. “It was a Minsky half-century.”

Minsky is now all the rage. A year ago, an influential Financial Times columnist confided to readers that rereading Minsky’s 1986 “masterpiece” - “Stabilizing an Unstable Economy” - “helped clear my mind on this crisis.” Others joined the chorus. Earlier this year, two economic heavyweights - Paul Krugman and Brad DeLong - both tipped their hats to him in public forums. Indeed, the Nobel Prize-winning Krugman titled one of the Robbins lectures at the London School of Economics “The Night They Re-read Minsky.”

Today most economists, it’s safe to say, are probably reading Minsky for the first time, trying to fit his unconventional insights into the theoretical scaffolding of their profession. If Minsky were alive today, he would no doubt applaud this belated acknowledgment, even if it has come at a terrible cost. As he once wryly observed, “There is nothing wrong with macroeconomics that another depression [won’t] cure.”

But does Minsky’s work offer us any practical help? If capitalism is inherently self-destructive and unstable - never mind that it produces inequality and unemployment, as Keynes had observed - now what?

After spending his life warning of the perils of the complacency that comes with stability - and having it fall on deaf ears - Minsky was understandably pessimistic about the ability to short-circuit the tragic cycle of boom and bust. But he did believe that much could be done to ameliorate the damage.

To prevent the Minsky moment from becoming a national calamity, part of his solution (which was shared with other economists) was to have the Federal Reserve - what he liked to call the “Big Bank” - step into the breach and act as a lender of last resort to firms under siege. By throwing lines of liquidity to foundering firms, the Federal Reserve could break the cycle and stabilize the financial system. It failed to do so during the Great Depression, when it stood by and let a banking crisis spiral out of control. This time, under the leadership of Ben Bernanke - like Minsky, a scholar of the Depression - it took a very different approach, becoming a lender of last resort to everything from hedge funds to investment banks to money market funds.

Minsky’s other solution, however, was considerably more radical and less palatable politically. The preferred mainstream tactic for pulling the economy out of a crisis was - and is - based on the Keynesian notion of “priming the pump” by sending money that will employ lots of high-skilled, unionized labor - by building a new high-speed train line, for example.

Minsky, however, argued for a “bubble-up” approach, sending money to the poor and unskilled first. The government - or what he liked to call “Big Government” - should become the “employer of last resort,” he said, offering a job to anyone who wanted one at a set minimum wage. It would be paid to workers who would supply child care, clean streets, and provide services that would give taxpayers a visible return on their dollars. In being available to everyone, it would be even more ambitious than the New Deal, sharply reducing the welfare rolls by guaranteeing a job for anyone who was able to work. Such a program would not only help the poor and unskilled, he believed, but would put a floor beneath everyone else’s wages too, preventing salaries of more skilled workers from falling too precipitously, and sending benefits up the socioeconomic ladder.

While economists may be acknowledging some of Minsky’s points on financial instability, it’s safe to say that even liberal policymakers are still a long way from thinking about such an expanded role for the American government. If nothing else, an expensive full-employment program would veer far too close to socialism for the comfort of politicians. For his part, Wray thinks that the critics are apt to misunderstand Minsky. “He saw these ideas as perfectly consistent with capitalism,” says Wray. “They would make capitalism better.”

But not perfect. Indeed, if there’s anything to be drawn from Minsky’s collected work, it’s that perfection, like stability and equilibrium, are mirages. Minsky did not share his profession’s quaint belief that everything could be reduced to a tidy model, or a pat theory. His was a kind of existential economics: capitalism, like life itself, is difficult, even tragic. “There is no simple answer to the problems of our capitalism,” wrote Minsky. “There is no solution that can be transformed into a catchy phrase and carried on banners.”

It’s a sentiment that may limit the extent to which Minsky becomes part of any new orthodoxy. But that’s probably how he would have preferred it, believes liberal economist James Galbraith. “I think he would resist being domesticated,” says Galbraith. “He spent his career in professional isolation.”

Stephen Mihm is a history professor at the University of Georgia and author of “A Nation of Counterfeiters” (Harvard, 2007). © Copyright 2009 Globe Newspaper Company.

 

Some important albeit random (and overlapping) points about instability of financial system

The first thing to understand is that attempt to weaken positive feedback looks via regulation, approach that can be called  “regulation as a Swiss knife” does not work without law enforcement and criminal liability for bankers, as there is an obvious problem of corruption of regulators. In this sense the mechanism of purges might be the only one that realistically can work.

In other words it’s unclear who and how can prevents the capture of regulators as financial sector by definition has means to undermine any such efforts. One way this influence work is via lobbing for appointment of pro-financial sector people in key positions. If such "finance-sector-selected" Fed chairman does not like part of Fed mandate related to regulation it can simply ignore it as long as he is sure that he will be reappointed. That happened with Greenspan.  After such process started it became irreversible and only after a significant, dramatic shock to the system any meaningful changes can be instituted and as soon as the lessons are forgotten work on undermining them resumes.

In essence, the Fed is a political organization and Fed Chairman is as close to a real vice-president of the USA as one can get.  As such Fed Chairman serves the elite which rules that country, whether you call them financial oligarchy or some other name. Actually Fed Chairman is the most powerful unelected official in the USA. If you compare this position to the role of the Chairman of the Politburo  in the USSR you’ll might find some interesting similarities.

In other words it is impossible to prevent appointment of another Greenspan by another Reagan without changes in political power balance.  And the transition to banana republic that follows such appointment is irreversible even if the next administration water boards former Fed Chairman to help him to write his memoirs.  That means that you need to far-reaching reform of political system to be able to regulate financial industry and you need to understand that the measures adopted need vigilant protection as soon as the current crisis is a distant history.

Additional reading

Several other source of financial instability were pointed out by others:

There are some outstanding lectures and presentation on YouTube on this topic. Among them:

See an expended list at Webliography of heterodox economists

Dr. Nikolai Bezroukov


Top Visited
Switchboard
Latest
Past week
Past month

NEWS CONTENTS

Old News ;-)

Home 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008

For the list of top articles see Recommended Links section

2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008
[In casino capitalism] financial institutions make a living screwing over their customers so their biggest concern is how to avoid losing lawsuits when they get sued

Why Wall Street Ignores Real Risk
And Why History Will Repeat Itself

[Jul 03, 2020] The world s economy is in contraction. Although capital, what actual capital exists, will have to try and do something productive, it is confronted by this fact, that everything is facing contraction.

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... I agree that globalism is/will be heading into the dumpers, but I see no chance that US-based manufacturing is going to make any significant come-back. ..."
"... What market will there be for US-manufactured goods? US "consumers" are heavily in debt and facing continued downward pressures on income. ..."
"... There will certainly be, especially given the eye-opener of COVID-19, a big push to have medical (which includes associated tech) production capacities reinvigorated in the US. ..."
"... More "disposable" income goes toward medical expenditures. Less money goes toward creating export items; wealth creation only occurs through a positive increase in balance of trade. And on the opposite end of the spectrum, death, the US will likely continue, for the mid-term, to export weaponry; but, don't expect enough growth here to mean much (margins will drop as competition increases, so figure downward pressure on net export $$). ..."
"... the planet cannot comply with our economic model's dependency on perpetual growth: there can NOT be perpetual growth on a finite planet. US manufacturing requires, as it always has, export markets; requires ever-increasing exports: this is really true for all others. Higher standards of living in the US (and add in increasing medical costs which factor into cost of goods sold) means that the price of US-manufactured goods will be less affordable to peoples outside of the US. ..."
"... I'll also note that the notion of there being a cycle, a parabolic curve, in civilizations is well noted/documented in Sir John Glubb's The Fate of Empires and Search for Survival (you can find electronic bootlegged copies on the Internet)- HIGHLY recommended reading! ..."
"... All of this is pretty much reflected in Wall Street companies ramp-ups in stock-buy-backs. That's money that's NOT put in R&D or expansion. I'm pretty sure that the brains in all of this KNOW what the situation is: growth is never coming back. ..."
"... Make no mistake, what we're facing is NOT another recession or depression, it's not part of what we think as a downturn in the "business cycle," as though we'll "pull out of it," it's basically an end to the super-cycle ..."
"... We are at the peak (slightly past peak, but not far enough to realize it yet) and there is no returning. Per-capita income and energy consumption have peaked. There's not enough resources and not enough new demand (younger people, people that have wealth) to keep the perpetual growth machine going. ..."
Jul 03, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Seer , Jul 3 2020 10:34 utc | 125

NemesisCalling @ 28

I agree that globalism is/will be heading into the dumpers, but I see no chance that US-based manufacturing is going to make any significant come-back.

The world's economy is in contraction. Although capital, what actual capital exists, will have to try and do something "productive," it is confronted by this fact, that everything is facing contraction. During times of contraction it's a game of acquisition rather than expanding capacity: the sum total is STILL contraction; and the contraction WILL be a reduction in excess, excess manufacturing and labor.

What market will there be for US-manufactured goods? US "consumers" are heavily in debt and facing continued downward pressures on income. China is self-sufficient (enough) other than energy (which can be acquired outside of US markets). Most every other country is in a position of declining wealth (per capita income levels peaked and in decline). And manufacturing continues to increase its automation (less workers means less consumers).

There will certainly be, especially given the eye-opener of COVID-19, a big push to have medical (which includes associated tech) production capacities reinvigorated in the US. One has to look at this in The Big Picture of what it means, and that's that the US population is aging (and in poor health).

More "disposable" income goes toward medical expenditures. Less money goes toward creating export items; wealth creation only occurs through a positive increase in balance of trade. And on the opposite end of the spectrum, death, the US will likely continue, for the mid-term, to export weaponry; but, don't expect enough growth here to mean much (margins will drop as competition increases, so figure downward pressure on net export $$).

Lastly, and it's the reason why global trade is being knocked down, is that the planet cannot comply with our economic model's dependency on perpetual growth: there can NOT be perpetual growth on a finite planet. US manufacturing requires, as it always has, export markets; requires ever-increasing exports: this is really true for all others. Higher standards of living in the US (and add in increasing medical costs which factor into cost of goods sold) means that the price of US-manufactured goods will be less affordable to peoples outside of the US.

And here too is the fact that other countries' populations are also aging. Years ago I dove into the demographics angle/assessment to find out that ALL countries ramp and age and that you can see countries' energy consumption rise and their their net trade balance swing negative- there's a direct correlation: go to the CIA's Factbook and look at demographics and energy and the graphs tell the story.

I'll also note that the notion of there being a cycle, a parabolic curve, in civilizations is well noted/documented in Sir John Glubb's The Fate of Empires and Search for Survival (you can find electronic bootlegged copies on the Internet)- HIGHLY recommended reading!

All of this is pretty much reflected in Wall Street companies ramp-ups in stock-buy-backs. That's money that's NOT put in R&D or expansion. I'm pretty sure that the brains in all of this KNOW what the situation is: growth is never coming back.

MANY years ago I stated that we will one day face "economies of scale in reverse." We NEVER considered that growth couldn't continue forever. There was never a though about what would happen with the reverse "of economies of scale."

Make no mistake, what we're facing is NOT another recession or depression, it's not part of what we think as a downturn in the "business cycle," as though we'll "pull out of it," it's basically an end to the super-cycle.

We will never be able to replicate the state of things as they are. We are at the peak (slightly past peak, but not far enough to realize it yet) and there is no returning. Per-capita income and energy consumption have peaked. There's not enough resources and not enough new demand (younger people, people that have wealth) to keep the perpetual growth machine going.

[Jul 01, 2020] The elites have two or three passports, own businesses overseas, own houses.

Jul 01, 2020 | www.unz.com

Jeff Stryker , says: June 30, 2020 at 5:59 pm GMT

@Rev. Spooner bout the Bill of Rights or the Constitution or community. Those are a joke to people whose money is made transnational.

The lumpens who have never traveled out of their state have no concept of geographic dimensions. They have never even left home. They think everyone is as patriotic as them and will fight and die for their country and their community.

I assure none of the elite care a whit. Penthouses look the same from Manhattan to Tokyo.

Ask the Boers in South Africa or Polish in Detroit who did not "sniff the wind" in time.

The guy who has a gun loaded in his pocket as an insurance policy has a plan and it does not end well for the person who hit him.

The elites have two or three passports, own businesses overseas, own houses.

[Jun 28, 2020] SEC Issues Devastating Risk Alert on Private Equity Abuses; Effectively Admits Failure of Last 5+ Years of Enforcement by Yves Smith

Jun 26, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

We've embedded an SEC Risk Alert on private equity abuses at the end of this post. 1 What is remarkable about this document is that it contains a far longer and more detailed list of private abuses than the SEC flagged in its initial round of examinations of private equity firms in 2014 and 2015. Those examinations occurred in parallel with groundbreaking exposes by Gretchen Morgenson at the New York Times and Mark Maremont in the Wall Street Journal. At least some of the SEC enforcement actions in that era look to have been triggered by the press effectively getting ahead of the SEC. And the SEC even admitted the misconduct was more common at the most prominent firms.

Yet despite front-page articles on private equity abuses, the SEC engaged in wet noodle lashings. Its pattern was to file only one major enforcement action over a particular abuse. Even then, the SEC went to some lengths to spread the filings out among the biggest firms. That meant it was pointedly engaging in selective enforcement, punishing only "poster child" examples and letting other firms who'd engaged in precisely the same abuses get off scot free.

The very fact of this Risk Alert is an admission of failure by the SEC. It indicates that the misconduct it highlighted five years ago continues and if anything is even more pervasive than in the 2014-2015 era. It also confirms that its oft-stated premise then, that the abuses it found then had somehow been made by firms with integrity that would of course clean up their acts, and that now-better-informed investors would also be more vigilant and would crack down on misconduct, was laughably false.

In particular, the second section of the Risk Alert, on Fees and Expenses (starting on page 4) describes how fund managers are charging inflated or unwarranted fees and expenses. In any other line of work, this would be called theft. Yet all the SEC is willing to do is publish a Risk Alert, rather than impose fines as well as require disgorgements?

The SEC's Abject Failure

In the Risk Alert below, the itemization of various forms of abuses, such as the many ways private equity firms parcel out interests in the businesses they buy among various funds and insiders to their, as opposed to investors' benefit, alone should give pause. And the lengthy discussion of these conflicts does suggest the SEC has learned something over the years. Experts who dealt with the agency in its early years of examining private equity firms found the examiners allergic to considering, much the less pursuing, complex abuses.

Undermining legislative intent of new supervisory authority . The SEC never embraced its new responsibilities to ride herd on private equity and hedge funds.

The SEC has long maintained a division between the retail investors and so-called "accredited investors" who by virtue of having higher net worths and investment portfolios, are treated by the agency as able to afford to lose more money. The justification is that richer means more sophisticated. But as anyone who is a manager for a top sports professional or entertainer, that is often not the case. And as we've seen, that goes double for public pension funds.

Starting with the era of Clinton appointee Arthur Levitt, the agency has taken the view that it is in the business of defending presumed-to-be-hapless retail investors and has left "accredited investor" and most of all, institutional investors, on their own. This was a policy decision by the agency when deregulation was venerated; there was no statutory basis for this change in priorities.

Congress tasked the SEC with supervising the fund management activities of private equity funds with over $150 million in assets under management. All of their investors are accredited investors. In other words, Congress mandated the SEC to make sure these firms complied with relevant laws as well as making adequate disclosures of what they were going to do with the money entrusted to them. Saying one thing in the investor contracts and doing another is a vastly worse breach than misrepresentations in marketing materials, yet the SEC acted as if slap-on-the-wrist-level enforcement was adequate.

We made fun when thirteen prominent public pension fund trustees wrote the SEC asking for them to force greater transparency of private equity fees and costs. The agency's position effectively was "You are grownups. No one is holding a gun to your head to make these investments. If you don't like the terms, walk away." They might have done better if they could have positioned their demand as consistent with the new Dodd Frank oversight requirements.

Actively covering up for bad conduct . In 2014, the SEC started working at giving malfeasance a free pass. Specifically, the SEC told private equity firms that they could continue their abuses if they 'fessed up in their annual disclosure filings, the so-called Form ADV. The term of art is "enhanced disclosure". Since when are contracts like confession, that if you admit to a breach, all is forgiven? Only in the topsy-turvy world of SEC enforcement.

And the coddling of crookedness continued. From a January post :

The agency is operating in such a cozy manner with private equity firms that as one investor described it:

It's like FBI sitting down with the Mafia to tell them each year, "Don't cross these lines because that's what we are focusing on."

Specifically, as we indicated, the SEC was giving advanced warning of the issues it would focus on in its upcoming exams, in order to give investment managers the time to get their stories together and purge files. And rather than view its periodic exams as being designed to make sure private equity firms comply with the law and their representations, the agency views them as "cooperative" exercises! Misconduct is assumed to be the result of misunderstanding and error, and not design.

It's pretty hard to see conduct like this, from the SEC's Risk Alert, as being an accident:

Advisers charged private fund clients for expenses that were not permitted by the relevant fund operating agreements, such as adviser-related expenses like salaries of adviser personnel, compliance, regulatory filings, and office expenses, thereby causing investors to overpay expenses

The staff observed private fund advisers that did not value client assets in accordance with their valuation processes or in accordance with disclosures to clients (such as that the assets would be valued in accordance with GAAP). In some cases, the staff observed that this failure to value a private fund's holdings in accordance with the disclosed valuation process led to overcharging management fees and carried interest because such fees were based on inappropriately overvalued holdings .

Advisers failed to apply or calculate management fee offsets in accordance with disclosures and therefore caused investors to overpay management fees.

We're highlighting this skimming simply because it is easier for laypeople to understand than some of the other types of cheating the SEC described. Even so, industry insiders and investors complained that the description of the misconduct in this Risk Alert was too general to give them enough of a roadmap to look for it at particular funds.

Ignoring how investors continue to be fleeced . The SEC's list includes every abuse it sanctioned or mentioned in the 2014 to 2015 period, including undisclosed termination of monitoring fees, failure to disclose that investors were paying for "senior advisers/operating partners," fraudulent charges, overcharging for services provided by affiliated companies, plus lots of types of bad-faith conduct on fund restructurings and allocations of fees and expenses on transactions allocated across funds.

The SEC assumed institutional investors would insist on better conduct once they were informed that they'd been had. In reality, not only did private equity investors fail to demand better, they accepted new fund agreements that described the sort of objectionable behavior they'd been engaging in. Remember, the big requirement in SEC land is disclosure. So if a fund manager says he might do Bad Things and then proceeds accordingly, the investor can't complain about not having been warned.

Moreover, the SEC's very long list of bad acts says the industry is continuing to misbehave even after it has defined deviancy down via more permissive limited partnership agreements!

Why This Risk Alert Now?

Keep in mind what a Risk Alert is and isn't. The best way to conceptualize it is as a press release from the SEC's Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations. It does not have any legal or regulatory force. Risk Alerts are not even considered to be SEC official views. They are strictly the product of OCIE staff.

On the first page of this Risk Alert, the OCIE blandly states that:

This Risk Alert is intended to assist private fund advisers in reviewing and enhancing their compliance programs, and also to provide investors with information concerning private fund adviser deficiencies.

Cutely, footnotes point out that not everyone examined got a deficiency letter (!!!), that the SEC has taken enforcement actions on "many" of the abuses described in the Risk Alert, yet "OCIE continues to observe some of these practices during examinations."

Several of our contacts who met in person with the SEC to discuss private equity grifting back in 2014-2015 pressed the agency to issue a Risk Alert as a way of underscoring the seriousness of the issues it was unearthing. The staffers demurred then.

In fairness, the SEC may have regarded a Risk Alert as having the potential to undermine its not-completed enforcement actions. But why not publish one afterwards, particularly since the intent then had clearly been to single out prominent examples of particular types of misconduct, rather than tackle it systematically? 2

So why is the OCIE stepping out a bit now? The most likely reason is as an effort to compensate for the lack of enforcement actions. Recall that all the OCIE can do is refer a case to the Enforcement Division; it's their call as to whether or not to take it up.

The SEC looks to have institutionalized the practice of borrowing lawyers from prominent firms. Mary Jo White of Debevoise brought Andrew Ceresney with her from Debeviose to be her head of enforcement. Both returned to Debevoise.

Current SEC chairman Jay Clayton came from Sullivan & Cromwell, bringing with him Steven Peikin as co-head of enforcement. And the Clayton SEC looks to have accomplished the impressive task of being even weaker on enforcement than Mary Jo White. Clayton made clear his focus was on "mom and pop" investors, meaning he chose to overlook much more consequential abuses by private equity firms and hedgies. The New York Times determined that the average amount of SEC fines against corporate perps fell markedly in 2018 compared to the final 20 months of the Obama Administration. The SEC since then levied $1 billion fine against the Woodbridge Group of Companies and its one-time owner for running a Ponzi scheme that fleeced over 8,400, so that would bring the average penalty up a bit. But it still confirms that Clayton is concerned about small fry, and not deeper but just as pickable pockets.

David Sirota argues that the OCIE was out to embarrass Clayton and sabotage what Sirota depicted as an SEC initiative to let retail investors invest in private equity. Sirota appears to have missed that that horse has left the barn and is in the next county, and the SEC had squat to do with it.

The overwhelming majority of retail funds is not in discretionary accounts but in retirement accounts, overwhelmingly 401(k)s. And it is the Department of Labor, which regulates ERISA plans, and not the SEC, that decides what those go and no go zones are. The DoL has already green-lighted allowing large swathes of 401(k) funds to include private equity holdings. From a post earlier this month :

Until now, regulations have kept private equity out of the retail market by prohibiting managers from accepting capital from individuals who lack significant net worth.

Private equity firms have succeeded in storming that barricade. The Department of Labor published a June 3 information letter that allows private equity funds, or more accurately funds of funds, to be included in certain 401(k) plan offerings, namely, target date funds and balanced funds. This is significant because despite the SEC regularly calling out bad practices with target date funds, they are the strategy used to manage the majority of 401(k) assets .

Moreover, even though Sirota pointed out that Clayton had spoken out in favor of allowing retail investors more access to private equity investments, the proposed regulation on the definition of accredited investors in fact not only does not lower income or net worth requirements (save for allowing spouses to combine their holdings) it in fact solicited comments on the idea of raising the limits. From a K&L Gates write up :

Previously, the Concept Release requested comment on whether the SEC should revise the current individual income ($200,000) and net worth ($1,000,000) thresholds. In the Proposing Release, the SEC further considered these thresholds, noting that the figures have not been adjusted since 1982. The SEC concluded that it does not believe modifications to the thresholds are necessary at this time, but it has requested comments on whether the final should instead make a one-time increase to the thresholds in the account for inflation, or whether the final rule should reflect a figure that is indexed to inflation on a going-forward basis.

It is not clear how many people would be picked up by the proposed change, which was being fleshed out, that of letting some presumed sophisticated but not rich individuals, like junior hedge fund professionals and holders of securities licenses, be treated as accredited investors. In other words, despite Clayton's talk about wanting ordinary investors to have more access to private equity funds, the agency's proposed rule change falls short of that.

Moreover, if the OCIE staff had wanted to undermine even the limited liberalization of the definition of accredited investor so as to stymie more private equity investment, the time to do so would have been immediately before or while the comments period was open. It ended March 16 .

The New York Times reported that Senate Republicans deemed Clayton's odds of confirmation as US Attorney for the Southern District of New York as remote even before the Trump fired Geoffrey Berman to clear a path for Clayton. So the idea that a technical release by the OCIE would derail Clayton's confirmation is a stretch.

So again, why now? One possibility is that the timing is purely a coincidence. For instance, the SEC staffers might have been waiting until Covid-19 news overload died down a bit so their work might get a hearing (and Covid-19 remote work complications may also have delayed its release).

The second possibility is that OCIE is indeed very frustrated with the enforcement chief Peikin's inaction on private equity. The fact that Peikin's boss and protector Clayton has made himself a lame duck meant a salvo against Peikin was now a much lower risk. If any readers have better insight into the internal workings of the SEC these days, please pipe up.

______

1 Formally, as you can see, this Risk Alert addresses both private equity and hedge fund misconduct, but on reading the details, the citing of both types of funds reflects the degree to which hedge funds have been engaging in the buying and selling of stakes in private companies. For instance, Chatham Asset Management, which has become notorious through its ownership of American Media, which in turn owns the National Enquirer, calls itself a hedge fund. Moreover, when the SEC started examining both private equity and hedge funds under new authority granted by Dodd Frank, it described the sort of misconduct described in this Risk Alert as coming out of exams of private equity firms, and its limited round of enforcement actions then were against brand name private equity firms like KKR, Blackstone, Apollo, and TPG. Thus for convenience as well as historical reasons, we refer only to private equity firms as perps.

2 Media stories at the time, including some of our posts, provided substantial evidence that particular abuses, such as undisclosed termination of monitoring fees and failure to disclose that "senior advisers" presented as general partner "team members" were in fact consultants being separately billed to fund investments, were common practices. Yet the SEC chose to lodge only marquee enforcement actions against one prominent firm for each abuse, as if token enforcement would serve as an adequate deterrent. The message was the reverse, that the overwhelming majority of the abuses were able to keep their ill-gotten gains and not even face public embarrassment.

Page 1 / 7 Zoom 100%


skippy , June 26, 2020 at 4:27 am

Peter Sellers I'll say now – ????

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1TtZgs8k8dU

vlade , June 26, 2020 at 4:35 am

TBH, in the view of Calpers ignoring its advisors, I do have a little understanding of the SEC's point "you're grown ups" (the worse problem is that the advisors who leach themselves to the various accredited investors are often not worth the money.

On the same side though, fraud is a criminal offence, and it's SEC's duty to prosecute. And I believe that a lot of what PE engage in would happily fall under fraud, if SEC really wanted.

Susan the other , June 26, 2020 at 11:43 am

Yes, the SEC conveniently claims a conflicted authority – 1. to regulate compliance but without an "enforcement authority", and 2. report egregious behavior to their "enforcement authority". So the SEC is less than a permissive nanny. Sort of like "access" to enforcement authority. Sounds like health care to me.

Yves Smith Post author , June 26, 2020 at 4:06 pm

No, this is false. The SEC has an examination division and an enforcement division. The SEC can and does take enforcement actions that result in fines and disgorgements, see the $1 billion fine mentioned in the post. So the exam division can recommend enforcement to the enforcement division. That does not mean it will get done. Some enforcement actions originate from within the enforcement division, like insider trading cases, and the SEC long has had a tendency to prioritize insider trading cases.

The SEC cannot prosecute. It has to refer cases that it thinks are criminal to the DoJ and try to get them to saddle up.

Maritimer , June 26, 2020 at 5:04 am

Crimogenic: Producing or tending to produce crime or criminality. An additional factor is that, in the main, the criminals do not take their money and leave the gaming tables but pour it back in and the crime metastasizes.
AKA, Kleptocracy.

Thus in 2008 and thereafter the criminal damage required 2-3 trillion, now 7-10 trillion.

Any economic expert who does not recognize crime as the number one problem in the criminogenic US economy I disregard. Why read all that analysis when, at the end of the run, it all just boils down to bailing out the criminals and trying to reset the criminogenic system?

(Can I get my economics degree now?)

Adam Eran , June 26, 2020 at 1:33 pm

You might add that the threat of consequences for these crimes makes the criminals extremely motivated to elect officials who will not prosecute them (e.g. Obama). They're not running for office, they're avoiding incarceration.

The Rev Kev , June 26, 2020 at 5:17 am

The SEC has been captured for years now. It was not that long ago that SEC Examination chief Andrew Bowden made a grovelling speech to these players and even asked them to give his son a job which was so wrong-

https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/regulatory-capture-captured-on-video-190033/

But there is no point in reforming the SEC as it was the politicians, at the beck and call of these players, that de-fanged the SEC – and it was a bipartisan effort! So it becomes a chicken-or-the-egg problem in the matter of reform. Who do you reform first?

Can't leave this comment without mentioning something about a private equity company. One of the two major internal airlines in Oz went broke due to the virus and a private equity buyer has been found to buy it. A union rep said that they will be good for jobs and that they are a good company. Their name? Bain Capital!

Yves Smith Post author , June 26, 2020 at 5:44 am

We broke the story about Andrew Bowden! Give credit where credit is due!!!! Even though Taibbi points to us in his first line, linking to Rolling Stone says to those who don't bother clicking through that it was their story.

Plus we transcribed his fawning remarks.

https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2015/03/secs-andrew-bowden-regulator-sale.html

And he resigned three weeks later.

The Rev Kev , June 26, 2020 at 5:56 am

Of course I remember that story. I was going to mention it but thought to let people see it in virtually the opening line of that story where he gives you credit. More of a jolt of recognition seeing it rather than being told about it first.

Jesper , June 26, 2020 at 6:36 am

Of the three branches of government which ones are not captured by big business? If two out of three were to captured then does it matter what the third does?

Is the executive working for the common good or for the interests of big business?
Is the legislature working for the common good or for the interests of big business?
Is the judiciary working for the common good or for the interests of big business?

In my opinion too much power has been centralised, too much of the productivity gains of the past 40 years have been monetised and therefore made possible to hoard and centralise.

SEC should (in my opinion) try to enforce more but without more support then I do not believe (it is my opinion, nothing more and nothing less) that they can accomplish much.

Susan the other , June 26, 2020 at 11:57 am

The SEC is a mysterious agency which (?) must fall under the jurisdiction of the Treasury because it is a monetary regulatory agency in the business of regulating securities and exchanges. But it has no authority to do much of anything. The Treasury itself falls under the executive administration but as we have recently seen, Mnuchin himself managed to get a nice skim for his banking pals from the money Congress legislated. That's because Congress doesn't know how to effectuate a damn thing – they legislate stuff that morphs before our very eyes and goes to the grifters without a hitch. So why don't we demand that consumer protection be made into hard law with no wiggle room; that since investing is complex in this world of embedded funds and glossy prospectuses, we the consumer should not have to wade through all the nonsense to make decisions – that everything be on the table. And if PE can't manage to do that and still steal its billions then PE should be declared to be flat-out illegal.

Yves Smith Post author , June 26, 2020 at 4:08 pm

Please stop spreading disinformation. This is the second time on this post.

The SEC has nada to do with the Treasury. It is an independent regulatory agency.

It however is the only financial regulator that does not keep what it kills (its own fees and fines) but is instead subject to Congressional appropriations. Andrew Levitt, for instance, complained bitterly that Joe Lieberman would regularly threaten to cut the SEC's budget for allegedly being too aggressive about enforcement. Lieberman was the Senator from Hedgistan.

Edward , June 26, 2020 at 7:16 am

More banana republic level grift. What happens when investors figure out they can't believe anything they are told?

RJMc, MD , June 26, 2020 at 8:43 am

It should be noted that out here in the countryside of northern Michigan that embezzlement (a winter sport here while the men are out ice fishing), theft and fraud are still considered punishable felonies. Perhaps that is simply a quaint holdover from a bygone time. Dudley set the tone for the C of C with his Green Book on bank deregulation. One of the subsequent heads of C of C was reported as seeing his position as "being the spiritual resource for banks". If bank regulation is treated in a farcical fashion why should be the SEC be any different?

Susan the other , June 26, 2020 at 12:08 pm

I was shocked to just now learn that ERISA/the Dept of Labor is in regulatory control of allowing pension funds to buy PE fund of funds and "balanced PE funds". What VERBIAGE. Are "PE Fund of Balanced Funds" an actual category? And what distinguishes them from good old straightforward Index Funds? And also too – what is happening before our very glazed-over eyes is that PE is high grading not just the stock market but the US Treasury itself. Ordinary investors should be buying US Treasuries directly and retirement funds should too. It will be a big bite but if it knocks PE out of business it would be worth it. PE is in the business of cooking its books, ravaging struggling corporations, and boldly privatizing the goddamned Treasury. WTF?

Kouros , June 26, 2020 at 12:27 pm

I want to bring this to Yves' attention: the recent SCOTUS decision on Thole v. U.S. Bank that opens the doors wide for corporate America to steal with impunity from the pension plans: https://www.unz.com/estriker/corrupt-supreme-court-gives-green-light-to-corporations-to-steal-from-pensioners/

Glen , June 26, 2020 at 12:51 pm

Can we come up with a better descriptor for "private equity"?

I suggest "billionaire looters".

Olivier , June 26, 2020 at 2:00 pm

What about the wanton destruction of the purchased companies? If this solely about the harm done to the poor investors? If so, that is seriously wrong.

flora , June 26, 2020 at 3:27 pm

If, you know, the neoliberal "because markets" is the ruling paradigm then of course there is no harm done. The questions then become: is "because markets" a sensible paradigm? What is it a sensible paradigm of? Is "because markets" even sensible for the long term?

flora , June 26, 2020 at 3:19 pm

an aside: farewell, Olympus camera. A sad day. Farewell, OM-1 and OM-2. Film photography is really not replicated by digital photography but the larger market has gone to digital. Speed and cost vs quality. Because markets. Now the vulture swoop.

https://www.theregister.com/2020/06/26/olympus_closes_cameras/

https://www.forbes.com/sites/marksparrow/2020/06/25/olympus-exits-the-camera-market-after-three-years-without-a-profit/#1fdef9db5fc6

Stan Sexton , June 26, 2020 at 8:17 pm

Where is the SEC when Bain Capital (Romney) wipes out Toys-R-Us and Dianne Feinstein's husband Richard Blum wipes out Payless Shoes. They gain control of the companies, pile on massive debt and take the proceeds of the loan, and they know the company cannot service the loan and a BK is around the corner. Thousands lose their jobs. And this is legal? And we also lost Glass-Steagal and legalized stock buy-backs.The Elite are screwing the people. It's Socialism for the Rich, the Politicians and Govt Employees and Feudalism for the rest of us.

[Jun 16, 2020] Trump Just Fulfilled His Billionaire Pal s Dream by David Sirota

Highly recommended!
Jun 16, 2020 | jacobinmag.com

Trump just changed the rules to let Wall Street's most predatory industry get its hands on hundreds of billions of dollars of ordinary workers' retirement savings. Now his friends in private equity are celebrating.

If politics is the art of the sleight of hand, then Donald Trump is one of the deftest magicians of all time -- a master of creating mesmerizing spectacles, while his minions quietly rob everything in sight. This David Copperfield routine has become so mundane we are practically numb to it, but the trick Trump just pulled off for his billionaire pals was something particularly special -- it could end up being one of the single biggest financial heists in history.

As news cycles were consumed by Trump deliberately inflaming social unrest and threatening a domestic military invasion , the president's political appointees were approving a regulatory change that could transfer hundreds of billions of dollars of Americans' retirement savings to private equity firms. Those are the Gordon Gekko–run outlets that have become famous for fleecing investors , laying off workers , gutting local economies , strip-mining media outlets and creating public health and environmental disasters -- all while minting Wall Street billionaires.

The Trump administration's new directive came just a few months after private equity billionaire Stephen Schwarzman -- who had been pushing for the change -- poured $3 million into a super PAC backing Trump's reelection bid.

"A Windfall of $435 Billion"

To the casual onlooker, the information letter from the Employee Benefits Security Administration reads like every other impenetrable passage of stereo instructions that fills the Federal Register -- but this was no routine piece of paperwork. The guidance to Switzerland-based investment firm Partners Group effectively changed the enforcement of federal law protecting workers' retirement savings.

While long-standing worker-protection regulations have prevented 401(k) plans from investing in high-risk private equity firms, the letter now permits corporations to funnel that money to those firms, which charge notoriously giant fees.

Trump's administration argued that workers should feel fortunate and thankful that the administration will now let employers turn their savings over to private equity barons.

"This information letter will help Americans saving for retirement gain access to alternative investments that often provide strong returns," labor secretary Eugene Scalia said in a statement announcing the new policy. "The letter helps level the playing field for ordinary investors and is another step by the department to ensure that ordinary people investing for retirement have the opportunities they need for a secure retirement."

Scalia previously represented Wall Street banks and investment firms at the law firm Gibson Dunn, including Goldman Sachs, which has been working to raise more money for its private equity funds .

In practice, private equity firms will now be allowed to access -- and skim fees off of -- the $9 trillion in 100 million workers' 401(k) plans and IRAs.

"If just 5 percent of the money in these retirement funds were available to private equity, it would be a windfall of $435 billion -- real money even to private equity millionaires and billionaires," wrote Eileen Appelbaum of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR).

"A Huge Opportunity for the Firm"

From the beginning, Trump's White House has been operating as a de facto subsidiary of the private equity industry : his reelection campaign is being bankrolled by private equity donors; his commerce secretary is a private equity kingpin ; his SEC chairman was a Wall Street lawyer at a firm that represents private equity clients ; his first National Economic Council was the president of a private equity giant ; and his top outside adviser is Schwarzman, the CEO of the world's largest private equity firm , Blackstone.

The Labor Department letter is the result of all that private equity influence -- and at a particularly opportune time. The industry -- including Partners Group -- has recently been fretting about a decline in fees during the COVID-19 pandemic. The letter offers the potential for a bailout for the industry, paid for by millions of workers' retirement savings.

That said, this is not some temporary relief during a fleeting crisis -- this is the culmination of a long-term campaign by Schwarzman. Six days after Trump was inaugurated, the Blackstone chief said that he had been dreaming of a president who would change the law to let his firm make bank off workers' 401(k) savings.

"In life you have to have a dream," Schwarzman told analysts in January 2017 , days after Trump's inauguration. "One of the dreams is our desire and the market's need to have more access at retail to alternative asset products . . . A lot of people are not allowed to put those into retirement vehicles and other types. And one of the interesting issues when you have a new government is whether they want to continue that type of prohibition or not. Because what it's doing is denying people sort of a better retirement, and if there's a change in that area that becomes a huge opportunity for the firm."

In the ensuing years, Schwarzman and other private equity moguls continued to deliver cash to Trump's national Republican Party while the industry pushed for the changes in law that would allow them to raid 401(k) savings.

"This Wealth Transfer Might Be One of The Largest in the History of Modern Finance"

https://www.youtube.com/embed/ROYuupoGarQ?feature=oembed

Like Shelley Levene's smarmy real-estate sales pitch in Glengarry Glen Ross , Schwarzman's argument is that private equity offers ordinary Americans terrific untapped investment upside. In his telling, workers have been unfairly deprived of these opportunities under the old laws -- and not surprisingly, both the Trump Labor Department and some of the business press have credulously echoed that line.

"Everyday investors may soon be able to get a piece of private equity action," effused the lede of the New York Times ' report on the Labor Department letter, as if this is a sweet get-rich-quick opportunity for the average working man.

But only days after the change, a landmark study was released, telling the real story of private equity.

The report by University of Oxford professor Ludovic Phalippou shows that in the last fifteen years, private equity firms generally have not provided better returns to investors than low-fee stock index funds. In the process, a handful of private equity firms and their executives have raked in roughly $230 billion in fees from investors like public pension funds and university endowments.

"This wealth transfer might be one of the largest in the history of modern finance: from a few hundred million pension scheme members to a few thousand people working in private equity," Phalippou concludes.

Politicians have enabled this redistribution.

In Washington, federal lawmakers have preserved a tax loophole that allows private equity moguls to classify their winnings as capital gains rather than income, thereby paying far lower tax rates than ordinary workers.

Meanwhile, in states and cities, local officials have continued to direct more and more of government workers' pension savings to politically connected private equity firms. Those officials have been hoping that private equity investments would produce outsize returns that might forestall tax hikes necessary to raise revenue and fund the pension benefits promised to public-sector workers. But overall, those returns were not significantly better than the stock market, and they came with giant fees.

In its letter, the Trump administration actually acknowledged some of these pitfalls of private equity investments, noting that they involve "more complex, and typically, higher fees." But that wasn't enough to stop the Labor Department from shoving millions of unwitting workers and retirees into private equity's maw just a few years after Blackstone and other major private equity firms were sanctioned by regulators for fleecing investors.

The Quest for Dumb Money

The private equity industry is hardly short on cash -- the industry was sitting on roughly $1.5 trillion of undeployed capital at the end of 2019. The reason the Labor Department letter is so important to the industry is because 401(k)s and IRAs represent a particular kind of capital that private equity firms love -- so-called "dumb money."

Unlike a share of publicly traded stock whose price is the same for all investors, a private equity investment's fees can vary widely from investor to investor. Private equity firms are therefore always eager to find investors willing to accept the highest possible fees. "Dumb money" refers to such investors -- entities like pension funds, 401(k) plans, and university endowments that are pools of other people's money directed by officials with no personal skin in the investment decisions.

Wall Street sees these funds as "dumb" -- and particularly lucrative -- because the officials negotiating on retirees' or universities' behalf may not drive as hard a bargain on fees and terms as, say, an individual billionaire or an insurance company trying to protect its cash reserves.

This wiggle room with dumb money can be enormously lucrative for private equity firms: a recent study by Stanford and Harvard researchers found that had public pensions all received the same private equity fee rates, they "would have earned nearly $45 billion more on their investments."

In other words: that is $45 billion of earnings that could have gone to retirees, but instead went to private equity firms and other wealthy investors because pension fund managers didn't secure better fees and terms.

That part about "other unobserved investors" is key -- private equity firms explicitly say in their SEC filings that they can and will offer different investors different fees and terms on the exact same investments. It is a situation that has caused some retirees to wonder whether their dumb money is being used to pad the profits of smarter, politically connected investors who negotiate better terms in the same private equity investments.

Now that Trump's Labor Department has opened the floodgates, a lot more money could end up flowing into these opaque deals, enriching private equity executives and their friends -- while leaving workers' meager retirement savings even further depleted.

End Mark

David Sirota is editor-at-large at Jacobin . He edits the Too Much Information newsletter and previously served as a senior adviser and speechwriter on Bernie Sanders's 2020 presidential campaign. You can subscribe to David Sirota's newsletter "Too Much Information" here . Andrew Perez contributed research to this story.

Further Reading

[Jun 12, 2020] PE-Owned Hospitals Paid Owners Millions and Got Low Care Ratings by Lauren Coleman-Lochner and Jeremy Hill

Private equity is essential a mafia style business: they aid to blled thier victim dry.
Notable quotes:
"... By the end of 2018, available cash was so tight that Prospect got a $41 million infusion from Leonard Green and members of its management, according to Moody's. The ratings firm downgraded Prospect deeper into junk last year at B3, citing "shareholder-friendly policies" and the higher leverage resulting from the $457 million dividend. ..."
"... Meanwhile, care quality ratings for seven of the 10 Prospect hospitals evaluated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, have declined since 2016, according to HMP Metrics, a health-care facility analytics service. CMS ranks facilities from 1 to 5 stars, with 5 being the best. ..."
"... Most Prospect hospitals sit at the bottom rungs of quality assessments, according to the agency's hospital comparison database. Nine have a two-star rating or below, placing them in the lowest 30% of rated hospitals, according to CMS data. Just one Prospect-owned hospital -- Roger Williams Medical Center in Rhode Island -- earned a three-star rating. ..."
"... "Private equity owners, seeking high returns, may be even more willing to cut costs in crucial ways than even other for-profit health care companies," she said in an interview. ..."
Jun 12, 2020 | www.bloomberg.com

[Jun 09, 2020] Galbraith 'Disillusion' Is America's One Big Growth Sector Right Now

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Moreover, people do distinguish between needs and wants. Americans need to eat, but they mostly don't need to eat out. They don't need to travel. Restaurant owners and airlines therefore have two problems: they can't cover costs while their capacity is limited for public-health reasons, and demand would be down even if the coronavirus disappeared. This explains why many businesses are not reopening even though they legally can. Others are reopening, but fear they cannot hold out for long. And the many millions of workers in America's vast services sector are realizing that their jobs are simply not essential. ..."
"... America's economic plight is structural. It is not simply the consequence of Trump's incompetence or House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's poor political strategy. It reflects systemic changes over 50 years that have created an economy based on global demand for advanced goods, consumer demand for frills, and ever-growing household and business debts. This economy was in many ways prosperous, and it provided jobs and incomes to many millions. Yet it was a house of cards, and COVID-19 has blown it down. ..."
Jun 09, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

In the 1960s, the US had a balanced economy that produced goods for both businesses and households, at all levels of technology, with a fairly small (and tightly regulated) financial sector. It produced largely for itself, importing mainly commodities.

Today, the US produces for the world, mainly advanced investment goods and services, in sectors such as aerospace, information technology, arms, oilfield services, and finance. And it imports far more consumer goods, such as clothing, electronics, cars, and car parts, than it did a half-century ago.

And whereas cars, televisions, and household appliances drove US consumer demand in the 1960s, a much larger share of domestic spending today goes (or went) to restaurants, bars, hotels, resorts, gyms, salons, coffee shops, and tattoo parlors, as well as college tuition and doctor's visits. Tens of millions of Americans work in these sectors.

Finally, American household spending in the 1960s was powered by rising wages and growing home equity. But wages have been largely stagnant since at least 2000, and spending increases since 2010 were powered by rising personal and corporate debts. House values are now stagnant at best, and will likely fall in the months ahead.

Mainstream economics pays little attention to such structural questions. Instead, it assumes that business investment responds mostly to the consumer, whose spending is dictated equally by income and desire. The distinction between "essential" and "superfluous" does not exist. Debt burdens are largely ignored.

But demand for many US-made capital goods now depends on global conditions. Orders for new aircraft will not recover while half of all existing planes are grounded. At current prices, the global oil industry is not drilling new wells. Even at home, though existing construction projects may be completed, plans for new office towers or retail outlets won't be launched soon. And as people commute less, cars will last longer, so demand for them (and gasoline) will suffer.

Faced with radical uncertainty, US consumers will save more and spend less. Even if the government replaces their lost incomes for a time, people know that stimulus is short term. What they do not know is when the next job offer – or layoff – will come along.

Moreover, people do distinguish between needs and wants. Americans need to eat, but they mostly don't need to eat out. They don't need to travel. Restaurant owners and airlines therefore have two problems: they can't cover costs while their capacity is limited for public-health reasons, and demand would be down even if the coronavirus disappeared. This explains why many businesses are not reopening even though they legally can. Others are reopening, but fear they cannot hold out for long. And the many millions of workers in America's vast services sector are realizing that their jobs are simply not essential.

Meanwhile, US household debts – rent, mortgage, and utility arrears, as well as interest on education and car loans – have continued to mount. True, stimulus checks have helped: defaults have so far been modest, and many landlords have been accommodating. But as people face long periods with lower incomes, they will continue to hoard funds to ensure that they can repay their fixed debts. As if all this were not enough, falling sales- and income-tax revenues are prompting US state and local governments to cut spending, compounding the loss of jobs and incomes.

America's economic plight is structural. It is not simply the consequence of Trump's incompetence or House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's poor political strategy. It reflects systemic changes over 50 years that have created an economy based on global demand for advanced goods, consumer demand for frills, and ever-growing household and business debts. This economy was in many ways prosperous, and it provided jobs and incomes to many millions. Yet it was a house of cards, and COVID-19 has blown it down.

"Reopen America" is therefore an economic and political fantasy. Incumbent politicians crave a cheery growth rebound, and the depth of the collapse makes possible some attractive short-term numbers. But taking them seriously will merely set the stage for a new round of disillusion. As nationwide protests against systemic racism and police brutality show, disillusion is America's one big growth sector right now.

[Jun 09, 2020] This is worse the circus: Mitt Romney, a private equty shark the specilaty of whom is to fleece poor marched with BLM

Notable quotes:
"... How much of this is virtue signalling by Mitt Romney and others of the elite? Is he willing to disgorge himself of the the hundreds of millions he took from Americans through his company Bain? ..."
Jun 09, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

>

Victor_the_thinker engineerscotty 21 hours ago

These far right social conservatives lost yesterday and they don't even realize it. Mitt Romney marched with BLM. Mitt is no radical on social issues (he certainly is on. Taxes on the rich) you won't convince a single one of these hard right wing people that systemic racism is real, even when you give examples like the North Carolina Republican Party disenfranchising blacks "with surgical precision" or the direct evidence of the commenter Dukeboy who states he is a retired police officer and is obviously a white supremacists. But you don't need to convince them of anything. This is the same group who would have been against the civil rights protests in the '60's. They aren't needed to create a massive change.

The hubris to think that your feelings of guilt would be meaningful to black people is off the charts.
"My local school has been underfunded for generations due to the property tax funding system and redlining but Karen feels bad about it so all is right with the world!"-Said no black person ever.

joeo 17 hours ago

How much of this is virtue signalling by Mitt Romney and others of the elite? Is he willing to disgorge himself of the the hundreds of millions he took from Americans through his company Bain?

Moonbeam joeo 15 hours ago • edited

How much? 100% of it. Romney is a vicious corporate raider who has destroyed countless jobs and by extension, lives. How many suicides have followed in the wake of Bain's corporate takeovers? When Romney lived in Belmont, MA, he and his wife petitioned the town to not allow ambulances to go down their street with sirens on. Seriously.

[Jun 04, 2020] When recruiters or job ads say "flexible working hours" all I hear is "you must be flexible to work whatever hours we give you"

Jun 04, 2020 | www.youtube.com

Suadela , 4 months ago

When recruiters or job ads say "flexible working hours" all I hear is "you must be flexible to work whatever hours we give you"

[Jun 03, 2020] RussiaGate for neoliberal Dems and MSM honchos is the way to avoid the necessity to look into the camera and say, I guess people hated us so much they were even willing to vote for Donald Trump

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Russiagate became a convenient replacement explanation absolving an incompetent political establishment for its complicity in what happened in 2016, and not just the failure to see it coming. ..."
"... Because of the immediate arrival of the collusion theory, neither Wolf Blitzer nor any politician ever had to look into the camera and say, "I guess people hated us so much they were even willing to vote for Donald Trump ..."
Mar 31, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

psychohistorian , Mar 30, 2019 7:51:28 PM | link

Here is an insightful read on Trump's (s)election and Russiagate that I think is not OT

Taibbi: On Russiagate and Our Refusal to Face Why Trump Won

The take away quote

" Russiagate became a convenient replacement explanation absolving an incompetent political establishment for its complicity in what happened in 2016, and not just the failure to see it coming.

Because of the immediate arrival of the collusion theory, neither Wolf Blitzer nor any politician ever had to look into the camera and say, "I guess people hated us so much they were even willing to vote for Donald Trump ."

As a peedupon all I can see is that the elite seem to be fighting amongst themselves or (IMO) providing cover for ongoing elite power/control efforts. It might not be about private/public finance in a bigger picture but I can't see anything else that makes sense

[May 28, 2020] Protestors Criticized For Looting Businesses Without Forming Private Equity Firm First

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... "I understand that people are angry, but they shouldn't just endanger businesses without even a thought to enriching themselves through leveraged buyouts and across-the-board terminations..." ..."
May 28, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

"I understand that people are angry, but they shouldn't just endanger businesses without even a thought to enriching themselves through leveraged buyouts and across-the-board terminations..."

"Look, we all have the right to protest, but that doesn't mean you can just rush in and destroy any business without gathering a group of clandestine investors to purchase it at a severely reduced price and slowly bleed it to death," said Facebook commenter Amy Mulrain, echoing the sentiments of detractors nationwide who blasted the demonstrators for not hiring a consultant group to take stock of a struggling company's assets before plundering.

" I understand that people are angry, but they shouldn't just endanger businesses without even a thought to enriching themselves through leveraged buyouts and across-the-board terminations.

It's disgusting to put workers at risk by looting. You do it by chipping away at their health benefits and eventually laying them off. There's a right way and wrong way to do this. "

At press time, critics recommended that protestors hold law enforcement accountable by simply purchasing the Minneapolis police department from taxpayers.

Source: The Onion

[May 24, 2020] Private Equity Is Ruining Health Care, Covid Is Making It Worse: Investors have been buying up doctor s offices, cutting costs, and, critics say, putting pressure on physicians by Heather Perlberg

Highly recommended!
So not only ambulance service was destroyed by private equity, they now added other specialties. I wonder is those criminals who insert unnecessary stents in patients are connected to private equity.
Images removed
Notable quotes:
"... "You can't serve two masters. You can't serve patients and investors" ..."
"... Morganroth's defense of pandemic Botox might seem odd, but it made perfect sense within the logic of the U.S. health-care system, which has seen Wall Street investors invade its every corner, engineering medical practices and hospitals to maximize profits as if they were little different from grocery stores. At the center of this story are private equity firms, which saw the explosive growth of health-care spending and have been buying up physician staffing companies, surgery centers, and everything else in sight. ..."
"... But some doctors say that the private equity playbook, which involves buying companies, drastically cutting costs, and then selling for a profit -- the goal is generally to make an annualized return of 20% to 30% within three to five years -- creates problems that are unique to health care. "I know private equity does this in other industries, but in medicine you're dealing with people's health and their lives," says Michael Rains, a doctor who worked at U.S. Dermatology Partners , a big private equity-backed chain. "You can't serve two masters. You can't serve patients and investors." ..."
"... Yet over the past decade, lawyers devised a structure that allows investors to buy a medical practice without technically owning it: the MSO, or management service organization. Today, when an investment firm buys a doctor's office, what it's actually buying are the office's "nonclinical" assets. In theory, physicians control all medical decisions and agree to pay a management fee to a newly created company, which handles administrative tasks such as billing and marketing. ..."
"... Businessweek ..."
"... When individual doctors sell, they generally receive $2 million to $7 million each, with 30% to 40% of that paid in equity in the group. After the acquisition, doctors get a lower salary and are asked to help recruit other doctors to sell their practices or to join as employees. ..."
"... Patients, for the most part, are in the dark. Unlike when your mortgage changes hands, you usually aren't notified when a big investment firm buys your doctor. Sometimes the sign on the door bearing the physician's name stays put, and subtle changes in operations or unfamiliar fees may be the only clues that anything has happened. ..."
"... At Advanced Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery , the largest private equity-backed group in the field, with more than 150 locations across the U.S., that sense of discomfort came shortly after Audax Group bought a controlling stake in what was then a much smaller chain in 2011. The new management team introduced a scorecard that rewarded offices with cash if they met daily and monthly financial goals, according to a lawsuit filed in 2013 against the company by one of its dermatologists. The doctor alleged that the bonus program encouraged staff to do as many procedures as possible, rather than strictly addressing patients' medical needs. ..."
"... Most dermatologists use outside labs and pathologists, but private equity-owned groups buy up existing labs and hire their own pathologists. Then doctors are encouraged to refer patients within the group and send biopsy slides to the company-owned labs, keeping the entire chain of revenue in-house. ..."
"... Now comes the cost-cutting. This is supposed to be the hallmark of private equity, and, done right, it can work to the benefit of doctors and patients. But there are pitfalls unique to medicine, where aggressive cuts can lead to problems, some of them merely inconvenient and some potentially dangerous. ..."
"... A doctor at Advanced Dermatology says that waiting for corporate approvals means his office is routinely left without enough gauze, antiseptic solution, and toilet paper. Even before the great toilet paper shortage of 2020, he would travel with a few rolls in the trunk of his car, to spare patients when an office inevitably ran out. The company declined to comment. ..."
"... One paradox of the Covid-19 pandemic has been that even as the virus has focused the entire country on health care, it's been a financial disaster for the industry. And so, while emergency room doctors and nurses care for the sick -- comforting those who would otherwise die alone, and in some cases dying themselves -- private equity-backed staffing companies and hospitals have been cutting pay for ER doctors. These hospitals, like the big medical practices, make a large portion of their money from elective procedures and have been forced into wrenching compromises. ..."
"... For investors with capital, on the other hand, the economic fallout from the virus is a huge opportunity. Stay-at-home orders have left small practices more financially strained than they've ever been. That will likely accelerate sales to private equity firms, according to Marc Cabrera, an investment banker focused on health-care deals at Oppenheimer & Co. Independent doctors or groups that previously rebuffed offers from deep-pocketed backers "will reconsider their options," he says. ..."
"... Many doctors may ultimately come to regret cashing out, but it's hard to get out once you're in. As part of an acquisition, the private equity groups typically require doctors to sign yearslong contracts, with noncompete clauses that prevent them from working in the surrounding area. ..."
May 20, 2020 | www.bloomberg.com

Not long after Gavin Newsom, the governor of California, ordered the state's 40 million residents to stay home to stop the spread of the new coronavirus, Dr. Greg Morganroth called his team of doctors and said their dermatology group was staying open.

Morganroth is chief executive officer of the California Skin Institute , which he founded in 2007 as a single office in Mountain View. He's since expanded to more than 40 locations using a financing strategy that's become exceedingly common in American health care: private equity. In this case, he took out a loan from Goldman Sachs Group Inc. that could eventually convert to an equity stake. CSI is now the largest dermatology chain in California.

But the Covid-19 pandemic put Morganroth in a precarious position. Most medical procedures were characterized as nonessential by government officials and practitioners. Doctors were closing offices, and patients were staying away to limit their potential exposure to the virus.

CSI took a different approach. Morganroth explained his thinking on April 2 in a Zoom call with more than 170 dermatologists from around the country organized by the Cosmetic Surgery Forum, an industry conference. Contrary to what they might have heard, Morganroth told them, they should consider staying open during the pandemic. "Many of us are over-interpreting guidelines," he said.

For a moment there was an awkward silence. Doctors had thought they were signing up for advice on how to apply for government money that would help them meet payroll while they were shut down; they hadn't expected to be told not to shut down at all. Morganroth continued: "We are going to be in a two-year war, and we need to make strategic plans for our businesses that enable us to survive and to rebound."

Back at CSI, the company's front-office staff was working the phones, calling patients in some of the worst-hit areas and reminding them to show up for their appointments, even for cosmetic procedures such as Botox injections to treat wrinkles. During the videoconference, Morganroth argued that offering Botox in a pandemic wasn't so different from a grocery store allowing customers to buy candy alongside staples.

"If I had a food supply company and had to stay open, and I had meat, bread, and milk, would I stop making lime and strawberry licorice?" Morganroth asked. "I would make everything and go forward."

From a public-health point of view, some of the doctors believed, this was questionable. Common reasons for visiting a dermatologist's office -- skin screenings, mole removals, acne consultations -- aren't particularly time sensitive. Serious matters, such as suspected cancers and dangerous rashes, can be handled, at least initially, with telemedicine consultations . Then doctors can weigh the risks for their patients and determine who needs to come in. In a statement, CSI says that it followed local and state laws for staying open, while providing "necessary care" for patients, and that it had not required doctors to come to work.

"You can't serve two masters. You can't serve patients and investors"

Morganroth's defense of pandemic Botox might seem odd, but it made perfect sense within the logic of the U.S. health-care system, which has seen Wall Street investors invade its every corner, engineering medical practices and hospitals to maximize profits as if they were little different from grocery stores. At the center of this story are private equity firms, which saw the explosive growth of health-care spending and have been buying up physician staffing companies, surgery centers, and everything else in sight.

Over the past five years, the firms have invested more than $10 billion in medical practices, with a special focus on dermatology, which is seen as a hot industry because of the aging population. Baby boomers suffer from high rates of two potentially lucrative conditions: skin cancer and vanity. Some estimates suggest that private equity already owns more than 10% of the U.S dermatology market. And firms have started to expand into other specialties, including women's health, urology, and gastroenterology.

There's nothing inherently wrong with any of this. But some doctors say that the private equity playbook, which involves buying companies, drastically cutting costs, and then selling for a profit -- the goal is generally to make an annualized return of 20% to 30% within three to five years -- creates problems that are unique to health care. "I know private equity does this in other industries, but in medicine you're dealing with people's health and their lives," says Michael Rains, a doctor who worked at U.S. Dermatology Partners , a big private equity-backed chain. "You can't serve two masters. You can't serve patients and investors."

Investment firms, and the practices they fund, say these concerns are overblown. They point out that they're giving doctors a financial shelter from the rapidly changing medical environment, a particularly attractive prospect now, and that money from private equity firms has expanded care to more patients. But they've also made it next to impossible to track the industry's impact or reach. Firms rarely announce their investments and routinely subject doctors to nondisclosure agreements that make it difficult for them to speak publicly. Bloomberg Businessweek spoke to dozens of doctors at 10 large private equity-backed dermatology groups. Those interviews, along with information obtained from other employees, investors, lawyers, court filings, and company records, reveal how the firms operate, and why they sometimes fail patients.

The process is never exactly the same, but there are familiar patterns, which tend to play out in five steps.

Step 1: Marriage

The strange thing about private equity money in medicine is that for-profit investors have long been prevented from buying doctor's offices. Corporate ownership goes against a doctrine set by the American Medical Association , the main trade group for doctors in the U.S., and is prohibited by law in many states, including Texas and New Jersey. For most of the past 100 years, if you wanted to make money on a medical practice, you needed to have a medical license.

Yet over the past decade, lawyers devised a structure that allows investors to buy a medical practice without technically owning it: the MSO, or management service organization. Today, when an investment firm buys a doctor's office, what it's actually buying are the office's "nonclinical" assets. In theory, physicians control all medical decisions and agree to pay a management fee to a newly created company, which handles administrative tasks such as billing and marketing.

In practice, though, investors expect some influence over medical decision-making, which, after all, is connected to profits. "When we partner with you, it's a marriage," said Matt Jameson, a managing director at BlueMountain Capital, a $17 billion firm that recently invested in a women's health company, while speaking at a conference in New York in September. "We have to believe it. You have to believe it. It's not going to be something where clinical is completely not touched." (When contacted by Businessweek , Jameson asked to clarify his comments. "Doctors and other qualified healthcare professionals at the providers we've invested in make medical decisions," he said in a statement.)

The typical buyout starts with the acquisition of a big, popular practice, often with multiple doctors and several locations, for as much as $100 million. (Investors typically pay between 9 and 12 times annual profit.) This practice functions as an anchor, like a name-brand department store at a shopping mall, attracting patients and doctors to the new group as it expands. Then comes the roll-up: The private equity firm purchases smaller offices and solo practices, giving the group a regional presence.

As part of the new structure, investors deal with paperwork and save money by buying medical supplies in bulk. Crucially they also negotiate higher insurance reimbursement rates. One dermatologist who sold her practice to the California Skin Institute says she was surprised to find out the bigger group's payouts from insurers were $25 to $125 more per visit.

When individual doctors sell, they generally receive $2 million to $7 million each, with 30% to 40% of that paid in equity in the group. After the acquisition, doctors get a lower salary and are asked to help recruit other doctors to sell their practices or to join as employees.

At first, doctors are generally thrilled by all of this. They have financial security and can focus on treating patients without the stress of running a business. Patients, for the most part, are in the dark. Unlike when your mortgage changes hands, you usually aren't notified when a big investment firm buys your doctor. Sometimes the sign on the door bearing the physician's name stays put, and subtle changes in operations or unfamiliar fees may be the only clues that anything has happened.

Step 2: Growth

The promise of more patients is a big draw for doctors. By sharing marketing costs and adding locations, the new companies can advertise more and attract customers. Private equity-owned practices have been diligent users of social media, announcing newly added doctors and posting coupons on Twitter and Instagram. But these practices can be aggressive in ways that make some doctors uncomfortable.

At Advanced Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery , the largest private equity-backed group in the field, with more than 150 locations across the U.S., that sense of discomfort came shortly after Audax Group bought a controlling stake in what was then a much smaller chain in 2011. The new management team introduced a scorecard that rewarded offices with cash if they met daily and monthly financial goals, according to a lawsuit filed in 2013 against the company by one of its dermatologists. The doctor alleged that the bonus program encouraged staff to do as many procedures as possible, rather than strictly addressing patients' medical needs.

In some of the company's Florida offices, the doctor alleged, medical assistants responded to the bonus structure by ticking extra boxes on exam reports, stating that doctors checked many more areas of the body than they actually had. That led to higher patient bills, defrauding the government under its Medicare program, according to the lawsuit. The federal government declined to join the case, and it was dismissed about a year after it was filed. Advanced and Audax declined to comment.

One-Stop Skin Care

By buying up labs and adding specialists, private equity-owned dermatology groups get paid at every step of a patient's treatment.

Data: Estimated Medicare reimbursement rates for the Miami area, Sensus Healthcare sales presentation

Private equity-backed practices also try to increase revenue by adding more-lucrative procedures, according to doctors interviewed by Businessweek . In dermatology, this means more cosmetics, laser treatments, radiation, and especially Mohs surgeries -- a specialized skin cancer procedure that removes growths from delicate areas like the face and neck one layer at a time, to limit scarring. The surgery involves expensive equipment and specialized doctors, so some large medical groups keep costs down by assembling traveling Mohs teams, who fly in from other states. Others create mobile labs in vans that set up in clinics' parking lots.

Most dermatologists use outside labs and pathologists, but private equity-owned groups buy up existing labs and hire their own pathologists. Then doctors are encouraged to refer patients within the group and send biopsy slides to the company-owned labs, keeping the entire chain of revenue in-house. This takes advantage of a regulatory quirk that has made dermatology, and a handful of other specialties, attractive to private equity. Under the 1989 Stark Law, doctors aren't allowed to make patient referrals for their own financial gain. An exception was made for some fields because it's more convenient for patients, explains Dr. Sailesh Konda, a Mohs surgeon and professor at the University of Florida. "But that can be abused."

Step 3: Synergy

Now comes the cost-cutting. This is supposed to be the hallmark of private equity, and, done right, it can work to the benefit of doctors and patients. But there are pitfalls unique to medicine, where aggressive cuts can lead to problems, some of them merely inconvenient and some potentially dangerous.

A doctor at Advanced Dermatology says that waiting for corporate approvals means his office is routinely left without enough gauze, antiseptic solution, and toilet paper. Even before the great toilet paper shortage of 2020, he would travel with a few rolls in the trunk of his car, to spare patients when an office inevitably ran out. The company declined to comment.

At the country's second-biggest skin-care group, U.S. Dermatology Partners , a former doctor says a regional manager switched to a cheaper brand of needles and sutures without consulting the medical staff. The quality was so poor, she says, they would often break off in her patients' bodies. Mortified, she'd have to dig them out and start over. She complained to managers but couldn't get better supplies, she says. Paul Singh, U.S. Dermatology's CEO, says the company uses a "reputable, global vendor for medical supplies." "While our group may have standardized purchasing processes, individual providers have the autonomy to procure specific supplies that they need for a particular patient situation or patient population," he says in a statement.

Doctors who join a private equity-backed group generally sign contracts that state they'll never have to compromise their medical judgment, but some say that management began to intervene there, too. Dermatologists at most of the companies say they were pushed to see as many as twice the number of patients a day, which made them feel rushed and unable to provide the same quality of care. Others were forced to discuss their cases with managers or medical directors, who asked the doctors to explain why they weren't sending more patients for surgery. Multiple practices also encouraged doctors to send home Mohs surgery patients with open wounds and have them come back the next day for stitches -- or to have a different doctor do the closure the same day -- because that would allow the practice to collect more from insurers.

That's if doctors are performing the procedures at all. At Advanced Dermatology, several doctors say they were asked to claim that physician assistants, or PAs, were under their supervision when they weren't seeing patients in the same building, or even the same town. Because PAs are paid less than dermatologists, this allowed the company to keep costs low while growing the business. In a statement, Eric Hunt, Advanced's general counsel and chief compliance officer says that having PAs on staff enables the company to "provide access to quality dermatological care to more patients."

Step 4. Rolling Up the Roll-Up

Advanced Dermatology was sold in 2016 by Audax to Harvest Partners LP , following a pattern that's typical in the industry. At some point, after costs have been cut and profits maximized, most private equity-owned medical groups will be sold, often to another private equity firm, which will then try to somehow make the company even more profitable.

Having reduced most of the obvious costs, Advanced Dermatology began skimping on more important supplies, including Hylenex, according to doctors and other employees. The drug is an expensive reversal agent used when cosmetic fillers, which are supposed to make skin look plumper, go wrong. Not having enough is dangerous: Patients who get an injection that inadvertently blocks a blood vessel can be left with dead sections of skin or even go blind if they don't get enough Hylenex in a matter of hours. The company says that it stocks Hylenex in every office that performs cosmetic procedures, and that it "has no records of any provider being denied an order for this medication."

Advanced Dermatology also started giving even more authority to PAs, according to doctors and staff. Without enough oversight some were missing deadly skin cancers, they say. Others were doing too many biopsies and cutting out much larger areas of skin than necessary, leaving patients with big scars. Doctors who complained about the bad behavior say they saw PAs moved to other locations rather than fired or given more supervision. Hunt, the company's lawyer, says that all PAs get six months of training and are supervised by experienced doctors.

The staff coined a new medical diagnosis, "pre- pre- pre-cancer"

Advanced Dermatology also put more pressure on doctors to send biopsies to in-house labs. The move made sense financially, but some of the doctors didn't trust the lab. One of its two pathologists in Delray Beach, Fla., Steven Glanz, had a history of misdiagnosing benign tumors, which led patients to undergo surgeries that were later found to be unnecessary, according to doctors who worked with him. Dermatologists who warned that Glanz was a danger to patients say that their complaints to Dr. Matt Leavitt, the group's founder and CEO, were ignored. More procedures, doctors knew, brought in more money.

Glanz, who had been with the practice since its early days, was known to read slides under a microscope with a pistol on his desk. After he was arrested with a handgun, a folding knife, and a vial of methamphetamine crystals, he was fired and Florida's state medical board fined him $10,000, requiring him to complete a five-hour course on ethics before he could resume practicing. But his former colleagues were unsettled; they knew Glanz's signature was on years of reports that determined treatment for patients. Some slides were reevaluated, and pathologists noticed mistakes. Managers told some doctors and their staff that patients, even those who'd been misdiagnosed and had unnecessary procedures, were not to be told. Glanz pleaded guilty to stalking and a firearms violation and was sentenced to probation. When a reporter called his office and identified herself, the receptionist hung up. Further attempts to reach Glanz were unsuccessful. Advanced's Hunt says that he was "formally released from employment three years ago," but did not comment further.

Of course, some doctors pushed ethical boundaries long before private equity came into the picture. But critics of the industry, including doctors and investors, say management teams put in place by private equity firms tend to look the other way as long as a medical practice is profitable. Of the dermatologists with the highest biopsy rates in the country (between 4 and 11 per patient, per year), almost 25% were affiliated with private equity-backed groups, according to Dr. Joseph Francis, a Mohs surgeon and data researcher at the University of Florida.

Medical providers may have also been blurring ethical lines at U.S. Dermatology Partners, which was until recently on its second private equity owner, Abry Partners LLC . At four of the company's offices in Texas, a doctor and his PAs were doing more biopsies than necessary, according to employees. These employees say the staff routinely called patients with benign lichenoid keratosis, small brownish blotches that usually go away on their own, and told them the growths should be removed. Under instruction from the doctor, the staff coined a new medical diagnosis, "pre- pre- pre-cancer," and then talked patients into coming in for removal, employees say. Singh, the U.S. Dermatology CEO, says that the company trusts doctors to make the right decisions and that it monitors them through routine audits.

Step 5: Sell-Off

In some cases the cost-cutting either becomes impossible or leads to compromises in care too obvious to ignore. In 2016 a DermOne LLC office in Irving, Texas, had been using a faulty autoclave machine to sterilize surgical equipment -- the state and county health departments identified 137 patients that needed to get tested for blood-borne diseases such as HIV and hepatitis. By 2018, DermOne's backer, Westwind Investors, wanted out.

Westwind had been one of the earliest firms to build a big dermatology business -- with practices in five states -- but others had grown larger. After the debacle in Irving, the Nevada-based firm sold DermOne's medical records and patient lists, as well as some of its offices, to other groups. It dissolved the remaining offices, leaving some patients abruptly without care. Westwind did not respond to repeated requests for comment. Two other private equity-backed groups, TruDerm and Select Dermatology LLC, have also gone out of business in the past two years.

The surviving chains have been saddled with large piles of debt they're now struggling to repay. In January, U.S. Dermatology Partners defaulted on a $377 million loan, meaning the private equity backer, Abry Partners, had to hand over the keys to its lenders, Golub Capital , Carlyle Group , and Ares Management , which will now oversee a chain with almost 100 locations, receiving 1 million visits from patients a year. Abry did not respond to requests for comment .

For the medical groups that make it, the game plan is to eventually sell to the largest players, such as KKR , Blackstone Group , and Apollo Global Management . Pioneering investors, including Audax, are now buying practices in other fields -- a concerning development to critics who note that the areas that are currently attracting investment, such as urology, generally involve more invasive procedures. Should doctors performing vasectomies be thinking about the dollar-rate returns for KKR -- or any private investor?

"It's ultimately going to backfire," says Dr. Jane Grant-Kels, a veteran dermatologist and professor at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine. "There's a limit to how much money you can make when you're sticking knives into human skin for profit."

One paradox of the Covid-19 pandemic has been that even as the virus has focused the entire country on health care, it's been a financial disaster for the industry. And so, while emergency room doctors and nurses care for the sick -- comforting those who would otherwise die alone, and in some cases dying themselves -- private equity-backed staffing companies and hospitals have been cutting pay for ER doctors. These hospitals, like the big medical practices, make a large portion of their money from elective procedures and have been forced into wrenching compromises.

For investors with capital, on the other hand, the economic fallout from the virus is a huge opportunity. Stay-at-home orders have left small practices more financially strained than they've ever been. That will likely accelerate sales to private equity firms, according to Marc Cabrera, an investment banker focused on health-care deals at Oppenheimer & Co. Independent doctors or groups that previously rebuffed offers from deep-pocketed backers "will reconsider their options," he says.

Many doctors may ultimately come to regret cashing out, but it's hard to get out once you're in. As part of an acquisition, the private equity groups typically require doctors to sign yearslong contracts, with noncompete clauses that prevent them from working in the surrounding area.

As governors throughout the nation ease restrictions on businesses, Advanced Dermatology is opening its most profitable offices first. The company received an undisclosed sum under the Cares Act, as part of the government relief package intended for health-care workers. Hunt, Advanced's chief compliance officer, told employees in an email earlier this month that the money would be used for protective gear, such as masks, and to replace "millions of dollars" in lost revenue.

The group had closed most of its offices since the stay-at-home orders were issued in March, cutting pay for doctors and furloughing staff. With cities and states beginning to consider reopening, doctors and PAs say they've been told they should be prepared for a full schedule. Hunt says the company is following the appropriate safety measures, but employees fear it will be nearly impossible to keep patients apart in waiting rooms. Opening in a reduced capacity, they understand, is not an option.

Read more: Private Equity Ate Finance, and Now It's Taking Over the World

[May 24, 2020] Trump's 'Uncreative Destruction' of the U.S.-China Relationship - FPIF by John Feffer

May 20, 2020 | fpif.org

Trump's economic war on China comes in the shadow of an even deadlier military escalation. And it may not stop after November, no matter who wins the election.

Economists like to think of the wreckage caused by stock market downturns, widespread bankruptcies, and corporate downsizing as "creative destruction." As it destroys the old and the dysfunctional, the capitalist system continually spurs innovation, much as a forest fire prepares the ground for new growth.

Or so the representatives of the dismal science argue.

Donald Trump, who is neither economist nor scientist, has his own version of creative destruction. He is determined to destroy the Affordable Care Act and replace it with his own health insurance alternative. He has torn up the Iran nuclear deal in favor of negotiating something brand new with Tehran. He has withdrawn from the Paris climate accord and argues that the United States is reducing carbon emissions in its own superior manner.

The problem, of course, is that Trump is very good at destruction but, despite his previous job as a real estate mogul, exceedingly bad at construction. Indeed, there's abundant evidence that he never intended to replace what he is destroying with anything at all. Trump has never offered any viable alternative to Obamacare or any new negotiating framework with Iran. And prior to the recent economic downturn, U.S. carbon emissions were increasing after several years of decline.

Perhaps the most dangerous example of Trump's uncreative destruction is his approach to China.

Previously, Trump said that he simply wanted to level the playing field by placing trade with China on a fairer and more reciprocal basis, strengthening the regime of intellectual property rights, and stopping Beijing from manipulating its currency.

He was willing to go to great lengths to accomplish this goal. The tariffs that Trump imposed on Chinese products precipitated a trade war that jeopardized the livelihoods of millions of American farmers and workers. The initial trade deal that the United States and China signed in January, even though many of the U.S. tariffs remain in place, was supposed to be the grand alternative to the old and dysfunctional trade relationship.

But here again, Trump is not telling the truth. He and his team have a very different set of objectives. As with so many other elements of his domestic and foreign policy, Trump wants to tear apart the current system -- in this case, the network of economic ties between the United States and China -- and replace it with absolutely nothing at all.

Oh sure, Trump believes that U.S. manufacturers can step up to take the place of Chinese suppliers. More recently, as the administration "turbocharges" its efforts to isolate China in response to its purported pandemic mistakes , it has talked of creating an Economic Prosperity Network of trusted allies like South Korea, Australia, India, and Vietnam. But this is all whistling in the dark, because the administration doesn't really understand the consequences -- for the world economy, for the U.S. economy -- of tearing apart the global supply chain in this way.

Just how poorly Trump understands all this is reflected in his statement last week that "we could cut off the whole relationship" with China and "save $500 billion." This from the president who erroneously believes that China is paying the United States "billions and billions of dollars of tariffs a month." What else do you expect from a man who received a BS in economics from Wharton?

Unlike many of the administration's other policies, however, its hardline approach to China has some bipartisan support. Engagement with China has virtually disappeared as a policy option in the Democratic Party. Joe Biden, the Democrats' presumptive presidential candidate, has attempted to present himself as the tougher alternative when it comes to China, a misguided effort to fend off charges of his bedding down with Beijing.

Finger to the wind, Biden is crafting policies in response not just to Trump but to public opinion. In 2017, 44 percent of Americans had a favorable view of China, compared to 47 percent who held an unfavorable opinion of the country, according to Pew. In this year's survey , only 26 percent looked at China positively versus 66 percent who viewed it negatively. The latter category includes 62 percent of Democrats.

Writing for the Atlantic Council, Michael Greenwald sums up the new conventional wisdom of the centrists:

The United States can no longer remain content with the notion of a Chinese economic threat arising in the distant future. The advent of COVID-19 has made it more apparent than any other time including the US-China trade war that now is the moment for the United States, European Union, and other like-minded countries to diversify supply chains away from China.

That's what makes Trump's uncreative destruction vis a vis China so dangerous. It may not stop after November, no matter who wins the election.

The Great Disentanglement

China's economic shutdown at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic disrupted many global supply chains, prompting a number of countries and corporations to accelerate their strategy of reducing their dependency on China for components.

Rising labor costs in China, concerns over human rights abuses there, but especially the trade war between Washington and Beijing had contributed to the U.S. fashion industry and tech firms like Apple rethinking their own supply chains. Japan, heavily dependent on Chinese trade, is using $2 billion in economic stimulus funds to subsidize the move of Japanese firms out of China.

The Trump administration is thus swimming with the current in its effort to isolate China. It has imposed sanctions because of China's violations of Uyghur human rights. It has levied penalties against China for its cooperation with Iranian firms. And it has threatened to add another set of tariffs on top of the existing ones for China's handling of the coronavirus.

Its latest initiative has been to tighten the screws on the Chinese technology firm, Huawei. Last week, the administration announced sanctions against any firms using U.S.-made equipment that supply the Chinese tech giant. The chief victim of these new restrictions will be the Taiwanese firm TSMC, which supplies 90 percent of Huawei's smartphone chips.

In other words, the Trump administration is committed not only to severing U.S. economic connections with China. It wants to put as much pressure on other countries as well to disentangle themselves from Chinese manufacturing. Taiwan, of course, has no particular love for Mainland China. It battles Beijing on a daily basis to get international recognition -- from other countries and from global organizations like the World Health Organization.

But the Taiwanese economy is also heavily dependent on its cross-strait neighbor. As Eleanor Albert points out :

China is Taiwa n's largest trading partner, accounting for nearly 30 percent of the island's total trade, and trade between the two reached $150.5 billion in 2018 (up from $35 billion in 1999). China and Taiwan have also agreed to allow banks, insurers, and other financial service providers to work in both market s.

And it probably won't be Huawei but Taiwan that suffers from the U.S. move. As Michael Reilly notes , "Huawei's size in the global market means its Taiwanese suppliers cannot easily find an alternative customer of comparable standing to replace it." China, meanwhile, will either find another source of chips outside the U.S. sphere, or it will do what the United States has been threatening to do: bring production of critical components back closer to home.

Another key player in the containment of China is India. Trump's friendship with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a right-wing Hindu nationalist, is more than simply an ideological affection. Trump sealed a $3 billion in military sales deal with India in February, with a trade deal still on the horizon.

Modi, in turn, is hoping to be the biggest beneficiary of the falling out between Washington and Beijing. "The government in April reached out to more than 1,000 companies in the U.S. and through overseas missions to offer incentives for manufacturers seeking to move out of China," reports Bloomberg . "India is prioritizing medical equipment suppliers, food processing units, textiles, leather, and auto part makers among more than 550 products covered in the discussions."

Vietnam is another regional competitor that the United States is supporting in its containment strategy. With only a couple hundred reported coronavirus cases and zero deaths, Vietnam is poised to emerge from the current crisis virtually unscathed. With low labor costs and an authoritarian government that can enforce deals, it is already a favored alternative for corporations looking for alternatives to China. But wildcat strikes have been happening in greater numbers in the country, and the Vietnamese government recently approved the country's first independent trade union.

Yet with a more technologically sophisticated infrastructure, China will continue to look more attractive to investors than India or Vietnam.

Don't Count Out China

If your image of the Chinese economy is stuck in the 1980s -- cheap toys and mass-produced baubles -- then you probably think that severing economic ties with the country is no big deal. America can produce its own plastic junk, right?

But China is no longer hurrying to catch up to the West. In some ways, the West is already in China's rearview mirror.

Huawei is well-known for the part it's playing in the rollout of 5G networks worldwide. China is not only ahead of the curve in upgrading to 5G domestically, it is busy manufacturing all the new tech that will run on these high-speed networks, like virtual reality and augmented reality and AI-driven devices.

Perhaps more to the point, China is not simply part of the global supply chain. It is using these new technologies to revolutionize the global supply chain.

For instance, it's using 3-D modeling to shorten product development. It has long integrated drones into its distribution networks. "Chinese supply chain companies are incorporating groundbreaking technologies like cloud-based systems, data analytics, and artificial intelligence (AI) and using them to redesign supply chain operations," writes Adina-Laura Achim.

And don't discount the role of a well-financed, centralized, authoritarian government. The Trump administration is, frankly, at a huge disadvantage when it tries to pressure companies to relocate their operations. Writes Manisha Mirchandani:

The global technology and consumer electronics sectors are especially reliant on China's infrastructure and specialized labor pool, neither of which will be easy to replicate. The Chinese government is already mobilizing resources to convince producers of China's unique merits as a manufacturing location. Zhengzhou, within Henan Province, has appointed officials to support Apple's partner Foxconn in mitigating the disruptions caused by the coronavirus, while the Ministry of Finance is increasing credit support to the manufacturing sector. Further, the Chinese government is likely to channel stimulus efforts to develop the country's high-tech manufacturing infrastructure, moving away from its low-value manufacturing base and accelerating its vision for a technology-driven services economy.

The Trump administration is playing the short game, trying to use tariffs and anti-Chinese sentiment to hobble a rising power. China, on the other hand, is playing the long game, translating its trade surpluses into structural advantages in a fast-evolving global economy.

Will the Conflict Turn Hot?

Despite the economic ravages of the pandemic, the Pentagon continues to demand the lion's share of the U.S. budget. It wants another $705 billion for 2021, after increasing its budget by 20 percent between 2016 and 2020.

This appalling waste of government resources has already caused long-term damage to the economic competitiveness of the United States. But it's all the money the Pentagon is spending on "deterring China" that might prove more devastating in the short term.

The U.S. Navy announced this month that it was sending its entire forward-deployed sub fleet on "contingency response operations" as a warning to China. Last month, the U.S. Navy Expeditionary Strike Group sailed into the South China Sea to support Malaysia's oil exploration in an area that China claims. Aside from the reality that oil exploration makes no economic sense at a time of record low oil prices, the United States should be helping the countries bordering the South China Sea come to a fair resolution of their disputes, not throwing more armaments at the problem.

There's also heightened risk of confrontation in the Taiwan Strait, the East China Sea, and even in outer space . A huge portion of the Pentagon's budget goes toward preparing for war with China -- and, frankly, provoking war as well.

What does this all have to do with the Great Disentanglement?

The close economic ties between the United States and China have always represented a significant constraint on military confrontation. Surely the two countries would not risk grievous economic harm by coming to blows. Economic cooperation also provides multiple channels for resolving conflicts and communicating discontent. The United States and Soviet Union never had that kind of buffer.

If the Great Disentanglement goes forward, however, then the two countries have less to lose economically in a military confrontation. Trading partners, of course, sometimes go to war with one another. But as the data demonstrates , more trade generally translates into less war.

There are lots and lots of problems in the U.S.-China economic relationship. But they pale in comparison to World War III. Share this:

John Feffer is the director of Foreign Policy In Focus.

Issues: Labor, Trade, & Finance , War & Peace

Regions: Asia & Pacific , China , India , North America , United States , Vietnam

Tags: 5G , Donald Trump , global supply chain , globalization , great disentanglement , huawei , Joe Biden , tariffs , trade war , U.S. military spending

Sign up for updates Get the latest from FPIF in your inbox.

Subscribe More

View more in North America :

Related Topics Donald Trump Terrorism military spending World Bank oil immigration climate change Refugees United Nations Vladimir Putin development diplomacy Military Intervention austerity Iraq Mexico taliban syrian civil war NATO Russia Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/likebox.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fpages%2FForeign-Policy-In-Focus%2F126648970682757&width=292&height=258&show_faces=true&colorscheme=light&stream=false&show_border=false&header=false&appId=229260323752355 Related Posts

Foreign Policy In Focus - A project of the Institute for Policy Studies
Content under a Creative Commons Attribution licence

[May 23, 2020] China is still in great danger: it is still greatly dependent on the West to development and still is a developing country.

May 23, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

vk , May 22 2020 21:02 utc | 27

China is still in great danger. Of the existing 30 or so high-tech productive chains, China only enjoys superiority at 2 or 3 (see 6:48). It is still greatly dependent on the West to development and still is a developing country.

So, yes, the West still has a realistic chance of destroying China and inaugurating a new cycle of capitalist prosperity.

What happens with the "decoupling"/"Pivot to Asia" is that, in the West, there's a scatological theory [go to 10th paragraph] - of Keynesian origin - that socialism can only play "catch up" with capitalism, but never surpass it when a "toyotist phase" of technological innovation comes (this is obviously based on the USSR's case). This theory states that, if there's innovation in socialism, it is residual and by accident, and that only in capitalism is significant technological advancement possible. From this, they posit that, if China is blocked out of Western IP, it will soon "go back to its place" - which is probably to Brazil or India level.

If China will be able to get out of the "Toyotist Trap" that destroyed the USSR, only time will tell. Regardless, decoupling is clearly not working, and China is not showing any signs so far of slowing down. Hence Trump is now embracing a more direct approach.

As for the USA, I've put my big picture opinion about it some days ago, so I won't repeat myself. Here, it suffices to say that, yes, I believe the USA can continue to survive as an empire - even if, worst case scenario, in a "byzantine" form. To its favor, it has: 1) the third largest world population 2) huge territory, with excellent proportion of high-quality arable land (35%), that basically guarantees food security indefinitely (for comparison, the USSR only had 10% of arable land, and of worse quality) 3) two coasts, to the two main Oceans (Pacific and Atlantic), plus a direct exit to the Arctic (Alaska and, de facto, Greenland and Canada) 4) excellent, very defensive territory, protected by both oceans (sea-to-sea), bordered only by two very feeble neighbors (Mexico and Canada) that can be easily absorbed if the situation asks to 4) still the financial superpower 5) still a robust "real" economy - specially if compared to the micro-nations of Western Europe and East-Asia 6) a big fucking Navy, which gives it thalassocratic power.

I don't see the USA losing its territorial integrity anytime soon. There are separatist movements in places like Texas and, more recently, the Western Coast. Most of them exist only for fiscal reasons and are not taken seriously by anyone else. The Star-and-Stripes is still a very strong ideal to the average American, and nobody takes the idea of territory loss for real. If that happens, though, it would change my equation on the survival of the American Empire completely.

As for Hong Kong. I watched a video by the chief of the PLA last year (unfortunately, I watched it on Twitter and don't have the link with me anymore). He was very clear: Hong Kong does not present an existential threat to China. The greatest existential threat to China are, by far, Xinjiang and Tibet, followed by Taiwan and the South China Sea. Hong Kong is a distant fourth place.

Those liberal clowns were never close.


Jen , May 22 2020 21:55 utc | 32

VK @ 28:

One problem with your scenario is that the US navy may be over-extended in parts of the world where all the enemy has to do is to cut off supply lines to battleship groups and then those ships would be completely helpless. US warships in the Persian Gulf with the Strait of Hormuz sealed off by Iran come to mind.

Incidents involving US naval ship collisions with slow-moving oil tankers in SE Asian waters and some other parts of of the the world, resulting in the loss of sailors, hardly instill the notion that the US is a mighty thalassocratic force.

It's my understanding also that Russia, China and maybe some other countries have invested hugely in long-range missiles capable of hitting US coastal cities and areas where the bulk of the US population lives.

And if long-range missiles don't put paid to the notion that projecting power through sending naval warships all over the planet works, maybe the fact that many of these ships are sitting ducks for COVID-19 infection clusters might, where the US public is concerned.

vk , May 22 2020 22:16 utc | 33
@ Posted by: Jen | May 22 2020 21:55 utc | 33

I agree the new anti-ship missile technology may have changed the rules of naval warfare.

However, it's important to highlight that, contrary to the US Army, the USN has a stellar record. It fought wonderfully against the Japanese Empire in 1941-1945, and successfully converted both the Pacific and the Atlantic into "American lakes" for the next 75 years. All the Americans have nowadays it owes its Navy.

But you may be right. Maybe the USN is also susceptible to degeneration.

Richard Steven Hack , May 22 2020 23:51 utc | 38
Posted by: vk | May 22 2020 21:02 utc | 28

Of the existing 30 or so high-tech productive chains, China only enjoys superiority at 2 or 3 (see 6:48). It is still greatly dependent on the West to development and still is a developing country.

Based on what I've read, China is on a fast track to develop technology on their own. In addition, technology development is world-wide these days. What China can not develop itself - quickly enough, time is the only real problem - it can buy with its economic power.

"if China is blocked out of Western IP, it will soon "go back to its place" - which is probably to Brazil or India level."

Ah, but that's where hackers come in. China can *not* be blocked out of Western IP. First, as I said, China can *buy* it. Unless there is a general prohibition across the entire Western world, and by extension sanctions against any other nation from selling to China - which is an unenforceable policy, as Iran has shown - China can buy what it doesn't have and then reverse-engineer it. Russia will sell it if no one else will.

Second, China can continue to simply acquire technology through industrial espionage. Every country and every industry engages in this sort of thing. Ever watch the movie "Duplicity"? That shit actually happens. I read about industrial espionage years ago and it's only gotten fancier since the old days of paper files. I would be happy to breach any US or EU industrial sector and sell what I find to the Chinese, the Malaysians or anyone else interested. It's called "leveling the playing field" and that is advantageous for everyone. If the US industrial sector employees can't keep up, that's their problem. No one is guaranteed a job for life - and shouldn't be.

"1) the third largest world population"

Which is mostly engaged in unproductive activities like finance, law, etc. I've read that if you visit the main US universities teaching science and technology, who are the students? Chinese. Indians. Not Americans. Americans only want to "make money" in law and finance, not "make things."

"2) huge territory, with excellent proportion of high-quality arable land (35%), that basically guarantees food security indefinitely"

In military terms, given current military technology, territory doesn't matter. China has enough nuclear missiles to destroy the 50 Major Metropolitan Areas in this country. Losing 100-200 millions citizens kinda puts a damper on US productivity. Losing the same number in China merely means more for the rest.

"3) two coasts, to the two main Oceans (Pacific and Atlantic)"

Which submarines can make irrelevant. Good for economic matters - *if* your economy can continue competing. China has one coast - but its Belt and Road Initiative gives it economic clout on the back-end and the front-end. I don't see the US successfully countering that Initiative.

"4) excellent, very defensive territory, protected by both oceans (sea-to-sea)"

Which only means the US can't be "invaded". That's WWI and WWII thinking the US is mired in. Today, you destroy an opponent's military and, if necessary, his civilian population, or at least its ability to "project" force against you. You don't "invade" unless it's some weak Third World country. And if the US can't "project" its power via its navy or air force, having a lot of territory doesn't mean much. This is where Russia is right now. Very defensible but limited in force projection (but getting better fast.) The problem for the US is China and Russia are developing military technology that can prevent US force projection around *their* borders.

"bordered only by two very feeble neighbors (Mexico and Canada) that can be easily absorbed if the situation asks"

LOL I can just see the US "absorbing" Mexico. Canada, maybe - they're allies anyway. Mexico, not so much. You want a "quagmire", send the US troops to take on the Mexican drug gangs. They aren't Pancho Villa.

"4) still the financial superpower"

Uhm, what part of "Depression" did you miss? And even if that doesn't happen now, continued financial success is unlikely. Like pandemics, shit happens in economics and monetary policy.

"a big fucking Navy, which gives it thalassocratic power."

That can be sunk in a heartbeat and is virtually a colossal money pit with limited strategic value given current military technology which both China and Russia are as advanced as the US is, if not more so. Plus China is developing its own navy quickly. I read somewhere a description of one Chinese naval shipyard. There were several advanced destroyers being developed. Then the article noted that China has several more large shipyards. That Chinese long coast comes in handy for that sort of thing.

China Now Has More Warships Than the U.S.
But sometimes quantity doesn't trump quality. [My note: But sometimes it does.]
https://tinyurl.com/y7numhef

That's just the first article I found, from a crappy source. There are better analyses, of course.

"I don't see the USA losing its territorial integrity anytime soon. There are separatist movements in places like Texas and, more recently, the Western Coast. Most of them exist only for fiscal reasons and are not taken seriously by anyone else."

I'd agree with that. I hear this "California secession" crap periodically and never believe it. However, for state politicians, the notion of being "President" of your own country versus a "Governor" probably is tempting to these morons. State populations are frequently idiots as well, as the current lockdown response is demonstrating. All in all, though, if there are perceived external military threats, that is likely to make the states prefer to remain under US central control.

[May 23, 2020] HK is protected against US tarrifs imposed on China goods. China exports a good chunk of goods through HK. If Trump were really serious he would remove HK's protected status.

May 23, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Kay Fabe , May 23 2020 0:09 utc | 42

"Britain had to agree to the pact because it had lost the capability to defend the colony.".."

That was the excuse. I believe HK was offered to China in return for Deng to open up and turn China capitalist. Deng was not the one who
demanded HK return. Britain initiated the discussions. Deng gladly accepted although he insisted on maintaining their authoritarian form of undemocratic government and left HK's fate ambiguous so Britain could get support from their people and the HK elite. The party elites were happy to be able to join the Western Elites in accumulating an unequal share of the wealth. The Soviet elites led by the US Globalist puppet Gorbachev chose the same path although they chose Fake Democracy and rule of the oligarchs as in the US rather than party control of China

HK is protected against US tarrifs imposed on China goods. China exports a good chunk of goods through HK. If Trump were really serious he would remove HK's protected status.

vk , May 23 2020 0:30 utc | 47

@ Posted by: Kay Fabe | May 23 2020 0:09 utc | 42

The timing doesn't add up. China opened up in 1972 (the famous Nixon-Mao handshake), while the UK's agreement to give HK back was from 1984 - well into the Thatcher Era.

The most likely reason for the UK to decide to obey the lease deal was of military nature: the valuable land necessary to defend HK was the flatland adjacent to the city proper, where potable water comes from. It already part of the Mainland, thus rendering the defense of HK virtually impossible without an outright invasion of the Mainland itself.

Margaret Thatcher probably didn't want to obey the treaty (99-year lease), as a good neoliberal she was, but her military advisors probably warned her of the practical difficulties, and, since it was a 99-year lease anyway, she must've agreed to simply allow the treaty to be followed.

It is important to highlight that, in 1984, there were a lot of reasons the capitalist world should be optimist about China becoming capitalist. After all, it really got off the Soviet sphere after 1972, and Deng's reforms were - from the point of view of a vulgar (bourgeois) economist - indeed a clear path to a capitalist restoration. It didn't cross Thatcher's mind that China could stand its ground and remain socialist - at least not in 1984. If you read the sources of the time, you will easily see the Western elites treated China's return to capitalism as a given.

[May 23, 2020] China is still in great danger. Of the existing 30 or so high-tech productive chains, China only enjoys superiority at 2 or 3

Highly recommended!
May 23, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

vk , May 22 2020 21:02 utc | 28

China is still in great danger. Of the existing 30 or so high-tech productive chains, China only enjoys superiority at 2 or 3 (see 6:48).

It is still greatly dependent on the West to development and still is a developing country.

So, yes, the West still has a realistic chance of destroying China and inaugurating a new cycle of capitalist prosperity.

What happens with the "decoupling"/"Pivot to Asia" is that, in the West, there's a scatological theory [go to 10th paragraph] - of Keynesian origin - that socialism can only play "catch up" with capitalism, but never surpass it when a "toyotist phase" of technological innovation comes (this is obviously based on the USSR's case). This theory states that, if there's innovation in socialism, it is residual and by accident, and that only in capitalism is significant technological advancement possible. From this, they posit that, if China is blocked out of Western IP, it will soon "go back to its place" - which is probably to Brazil or India level.

If China will be able to get out of the "Toyotist Trap" that destroyed the USSR, only time will tell. Regardless, decoupling is clearly not working, and China is not showing any signs so far of slowing down. Hence Trump is now embracing a more direct approach.

As for the USA, I've put my big picture opinion about it some days ago, so I won't repeat myself. Here, it suffices to say that, yes, I believe the USA can continue to survive as an empire - even if, worst case scenario, in a "byzantine" form. To its favor, it has: 1) the third largest world population 2) huge territory, with excellent proportion of high-quality arable land (35%), that basically guarantees food security indefinitely (for comparison, the USSR only had 10% of arable land, and of worse quality) 3) two coasts, to the two main Oceans (Pacific and Atlantic), plus a direct exit to the Arctic (Alaska and, de facto, Greenland and Canada) 4) excellent, very defensive territory, protected by both oceans (sea-to-sea), bordered only by two very feeble neighbors (Mexico and Canada) that can be easily absorbed if the situation asks to 4) still the financial superpower 5) still a robust "real" economy - specially if compared to the micro-nations of Western Europe and East-Asia 6) a big fucking Navy, which gives it thalassocratic power.

I don't see the USA losing its territorial integrity anytime soon. There are separatist movements in places like Texas and, more recently, the Western Coast. Most of them exist only for fiscal reasons and are not taken seriously by anyone else. The Star-and-Stripes is still a very strong ideal to the average American, and nobody takes the idea of territory loss for real. If that happens, though, it would change my equation on the survival of the American Empire completely.

As for Hong Kong. I watched a video by the chief of the PLA last year (unfortunately, I watched it on Twitter and don't have the link with me anymore). He was very clear: Hong Kong does not present an existential threat to China. The greatest existential threat to China are, by far, Xinjiang and Tibet, followed by Taiwan and the South China Sea. Hong Kong is a distant fourth place.

Those liberal clowns were never close.

[May 22, 2020] They Saw This Day Coming - Huawei Forges Alliances With Rival Chipmakers As Washington's Crackdown Intensifies

May 22, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

"They Saw This Day Coming" - Huawei Forges Alliances With Rival Chipmakers As Washington's Crackdown Intensifies by Tyler Durden Fri, 05/22/2020 - 18:05 The US Commerce Department's latest move to block companies from selling products to Huawei that were created with American technology, equipment or software has undoubtedly hurt the Chinese telecoms giant. But it won't be nearly enough to take it down.

Since Washington launched its campaign against Huawei two years ago (when the trade tensions between the US and China started to heat up, as President Trump started slapping more tariffs on foreign goods) the company has been strengthening ties with contract chipmakers in Taiwan and elsewhere, while ramping up its own microchip-technology arm, known as HiSilicon Technologies.

On Friday, Nikkei reported that Huawei had initiated conversations with other mobile chipmakers to try and figure out where it might source certain essential components for its handsets (remember, Huawei is the second-largest cellphone maker by sales volume) and other products.

Of course, the crackdown cuts both ways, as several American companies relied heavily on Huawei's business (they can still apply for licenses to continue selling to Huawei...so long as Commerce approves).

As we reported earlier this week , it's not just American chipmakers that are distancing themselves from Huawei: some Taiwan-based chipmakers are also dropping the telecoms giant for fear of being targeted by Treasury sanctions, including TSMC, the world's largest contract chipmaker.

Now, Huawei is reportedly in talks with MediaTek, the world's second-largest contract chip producer.

Huawei Technologies is seeking help from rival mobile-chip makers to withstand a U.S. clampdown aimed at crippling the Chinese company, sources familiar with the matter told the Nikkei Asian Review.

Huawei is in talks with MediaTek, the world's second-largest mobile chip developer after Qualcomm of the U.S., and UNISOC, China's second-largest mobile chip designer after Huawei's HiSilicon Technologies unit, to buy more chips as alternatives to keep its consumer electronics business afloat, the sources said.

To work with a contract chipmaker, Huawei would still need to design its own chips. Over the past two years, Huawei has expanded its team of engineers working on chip design to more than 10,000, Nikkei said.

To be sure, MediaTek already makes low- and medium-end chips for Huawei, evidence that the company, which was founded by a veteran of China's PLA, and purportedly maintains strong links to the Chinese military, has been bracing for the other shoe to drop. MediaTek, meanwhile, is still trying to figure out if it can meet Huawei's latest bid.

"Huawei has foreseen this day coming. It started to allocate more mid- to low-end mobile chip projects to MediaTek last year amid its de-Americanization efforts," one of the sources said. "Huawei has also become one of the key clients for the Taiwanese mobile chip developer's mid-end 5G mobile chip for this year."

MediaTek is evaluating whether it has sufficient human resources to fully support Huawei's aggressive bid, as the Chinese company is asking for volume 300% above its usual procurement in the past few years, another source familiar with the talks said.

The situation has also created an opportunity for small Chinese chipmakers (working, we imagine, mostly with technology stolen from American and Taiwanese companies) to expand.

Huawei also seeks to deepen its collaboration with UNISOC, a Beijing-backed mobile chip developer that relies mostly on smaller device makers as customers and mainly supports entry-level products and devices for emerging markets. Previously, Huawei used only very few UNISOC chips for its low-end smartphone and tablet offerings, sources said.

"The new procurement deals would be a great boost to help UNISOC further upgrade its chip design capability," said a chip industry executive. "In the past, UNISOC was struggling quite a bit, because it could not really secure big contracts with global leading smartphone makers as these top smartphone makers could find better offerings elsewhere. This time could be an opportunity that it could really seek to match the international standard."

UNISOC last year accelerated its 5G chip development to catch up with Qualcomm and MediaTek, Nikkei has reported. More recently, the company received 4.5 billion yuan ($630 million) from China's national integrated circuit fund, the so-called Big Fund.

UNISOC is preparing to list on the Shanghai STAR tech board, the Chinese version of Nasdaq, later this year. Qualcomm has needed a license from the U.S. Department of Commerce to supply Huawei since mid-May of 2019.

Huawei has already expanded production of in-house mobile processors for its smartphone business to 75%, up from 69% in 2018 and 45% in 2016, according to to data from GF Securities cited by Nikkei. Huawei shipped 240 million smartphones in 2019. And with China now throwing caution to the wind and cracking down on Hong Kong, we wouldn't be surprised to see more Huawei drama in the headlines next week, with serious market repercussions for the US semiconductor industry.

[May 21, 2020] Pompeo Lays Out the Case For Cold War II With China by Matthew Petti

That will be an interesting chess party. The USA moved way to many plants to Chine to get out of this conflict without major losses
Notable quotes:
"... Secretary of State Mike Pompeo slammed China as “hostile to free nations,” portraying Beijing as fundamentally opposed to the United States, on Wednesday. ..."
"... But the Secretary of State pointed to deeper issues in the relationship, claiming that “the nature of the regime is not new.” “For several decades, we thought the regime would become more like us through trade, scientific exchanges, diplomatic outreach, letting them in the [World Trade Organization] as a developing nation,” he said. “That didn’t happen.” ..."
May 20, 2020 | nationalinterest.org

'The regime is ideologically and politically hostile to free nations.'

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo slammed China as “hostile to free nations,” portraying Beijing as fundamentally opposed to the United States, on Wednesday.

Tensions between the United States and China have reached a fever pitch during the coronavirus pandemic. Pompeo’s speech at a Wednesday morning press conference laid out a vision of a global clash between two fundamentally different societies.

“China’s been ruled by a brutal, authoritarian regime, a communist regime since 1949,” he said. “We greatly underestimated the degree to which Beijing is ideologically and politically hostile to free nations. The whole world is waking up to that fact.”

He added that a focus on the coronavirus pandemic “risks missing the bigger picture of the challenge that’s presented by the Chinese Communist Party.”

The pandemic has accelerated U.S.-China tensions.

Last week, a Chinese Communist Party news threatened sanctions against U.S. lawmakers for attempting to sue the Chinese government for the pandemic, and U.S. law enforcement accused Chinese hackers of cyberattacks against U.S. researchers.

But the Secretary of State pointed to deeper issues in the relationship, claiming that “the nature of the regime is not new.” “For several decades, we thought the regime would become more like us through trade, scientific exchanges, diplomatic outreach, letting them in the [World Trade Organization] as a developing nation,” he said. “That didn’t happen.”

Pompeo accused the World Health Organization’s director-general Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of “unusually close ties to Beijing” that “started long before this current pandemic.”

The Trump administration has accused China of covering up information about the novel coronavirus—even implying that the virus emerged from a lab accident in Wuhan, China—and pointed the finger at the World Health Organization for aiding China’s coverup.

The Secretary of State slammed the public health group for excluding Taiwan in his Wednesday speech, touching on a sensitive topic for Beijing.

Taiwan, an island that was once ruled by China, has ruled itself since the end of the Chinese Civil War in 1950. Beijing considers the island a breakaway Chinese province that must be reunited with the mainland, while Taiwan’s ruling Pan-Green Alliance leans towards independence.

“The democratic process in Taiwan has matured into a model for the world,” Pompeo said, congratulating President Tsai Ing-wen on her re-election. “Despite great pressure from the outside, Taiwan has demonstrated the wisdom of giving people a voice and a choice.”

But he shied away from changing U..S. policy towards Taiwan..

Pompeo said that work that “comports with the history of the agreements between the United States and China is the right solution to maximize the stability there in the straits.”

The United States acknowledged the Chinese position that “there is but one China and Taiwan is part of China” as part of a 1979 joint communique with Beijing, and does not officially recognize Taiwan as a state, but maintains close informal ties with the Taiwanese government and opposes attempts to change the island’s government by force.

“The President talked about how we’re going to respond [to China], how he’s beginning to think about responding to the calamity that has befallen the world as a result of the actions of the Chinese Communist Party,” Pompeo said. “I don’t want to get ahead of him in terms of talking about how the administration will respond to that, but you can already begin to see the outlines of it.”

Matthew Petti is a national security reporter at the National Interest. Follow him on Twitter: @matthew_petti. This article initially stated that the United States “recognized that ‘there is but one China and Taiwan is a part of China’ in a 1979 joint communique.” The communique actually states that the United States “acknowledges” this as the Chinese position. The article has been updated to more correctly reflect the communique. Image: Reuters.

[May 20, 2020] Washington wants to prevent Russia and China supplanting US interests but The China-US relationship is the most important bilateral relationship in the world and involves huge interests of the two countries, as well as the rest of the world. Therefore, it is not something Trump can cut off emotionally

Notable quotes:
"... The Chinese will not start a shooting war and the US has no guts for one. Its industry has been hollowed out not just by outsourcing but by corruption as well. The campaign of demonization against China is very obvious, how far it is working I have no way of telling. Among the 5-eyes probably quite well, in the rest of the World rather less well, I would imagine. Notably, the British economy has been hollowed out in exactly the same manner as the US's. Canada's, Australia's, NewZealand's? Could they, would they support a war? ..."
"... Right now, China is leading the vaccine race and has developed an antibody treatment for Covid-19 that should be ready this year. ..."
"... Interesting article by Escobar. If one cares to notice, this anti-China cold war is a neocon based aggression. The primary movers of it are mostly neocons or the sorts who follow the neocon lead. ..."
"... "Again! Trump is talking nonsense." Trump seems to be losing his mind right now. Even he has such crazy ideas of cutting ties with China, US politicians, businessmen and Americans would not allow him to do so, Xin Qiang, deputy director of the Center for US Studies at Fudan University, told the Global Times. ..."
"... Jin Canrong, the associate dean of Renmin University of China's School of International Studies in Beijing, told the Global Times on Thursday that Trump made very irresponsible and emotional remarks in the interview. ..."
"... "For Trump, fantasy is power; bluffing is power, so he might use the future of his country to gamble with China. Although China always believes cooperation is the only right choice for the two countries to solve the problems together, if the US unilaterally and irrationally chooses all-out confrontation, China also needs to be prepared." ..."
May 20, 2020 | www.unz.com

peter mcloughlin , says: Show Comment May 19, 2020 at 6:02 pm GMT

Washington wants to prevent Russia and China supplanting US interests. Moscow and Beijing pursue what they see as their own legitimate interests. What we face is not a "hybrid" war or "New Cold War" but a world war.
https://www.ghostsofhistory.wordpress.com/
foolisholdman , says: Show Comment May 19, 2020 at 8:09 pm GMT
@peter mcloughlin

What we face is not a "hybrid" war or "New Cold War" but a world war.

Honestly, I don't see it. My reasoning is simple, maybe too simple. The Chinese will not start a shooting war and the US has no guts for one. Its industry has been hollowed out not just by outsourcing but by corruption as well. The campaign of demonization against China is very obvious, how far it is working I have no way of telling. Among the 5-eyes probably quite well, in the rest of the World rather less well, I would imagine. Notably, the British economy has been hollowed out in exactly the same manner as the US's. Canada's, Australia's, NewZealand's? Could they, would they support a war?

The other reason I think a shooting war is less likely than might appear, is that the the MIC is doing so well with the current cold war; that it would seem stupid to allow the massive disruption and uncertainty that a shooting war would cause to interrupt the torrent of cash being shoveled its way at the moment.

d dan , says: Show Comment May 19, 2020 at 8:34 pm GMT
"Hard landing" vs "Well and alive". Who wins?

source: comment #313 by Godfree Roberts
https://www.unz.com/article/objections-to-an-independent-investigation-of-china/

[Hide MORE]
1990. China's economy has come to a halt. The Economist
1996. China's economy will face a hard landing. The Economist
1998. China's economy's dangerous period of sluggish growth. The Economist
1999. Likelihood of a hard landing for the Chinese economy. Bank of Canada
2000. China currency move nails hard landing risk coffin. Chicago Tribune
2001. A hard landing in China. Wilbanks, Smith & Thomas
2002. China Seeks a Soft Economic Landing. Westchester University
2003. Banking crisis imperils China. New York Times
2004. The great fall of China? The Economist
2005. The Risk of a Hard Landing in China. Nouriel Roubini
2006. Can China Achieve a Soft Landing? International Economy
2007. Can China avoid a hard landing? TIME
2008. Hard Landing In China? Forbes
2009. China's hard landing. China must find a way to recover. Fortune
2010: Hard landing coming in China. Nouriel Roubini
2011: Chinese Hard Landing Closer Than You Think. Business Insider
2012: Economic News from China: Hard Landing. American Interest
2013: A Hard Landing In China. Zero Hedge
2014. A hard landing in China. CNBC
2015. Congratulations, You Got Yourself A Chinese Hard Landing. Forbes
2016. Hard landing looms for China. The Economist
2017. Is China's Economy Going To Crash? National Interest
2018. China's Coming Financial Meltdown. The Daily Reckoning.
2019 China's Economic Slowdown: How worried should we be? BBC
2020. Coronavirus Could End China's Decades-Long Economic Growth Streak. NY Times

=========

source: b
https://www.moonofalabama.org/2020/05/this-illusion-is-alive-and-well.html#more

Godfree Roberts , says: Website Show Comment May 19, 2020 at 11:26 pm GMT
Chinese strategists like Liu He publicly acknowledge that epidemics can catalyze geopolitical changes.

Right now, China is leading the vaccine race and has developed an antibody treatment for Covid-19 that should be ready this year.

If development is successful and if it donates the cure to the world as Xi promised and if WHO's investigation shows China is not the source of the virus, and if China's economy is firing on all cylinders in November, it's game over: 3-0 China.

I put the odds of that conjunction at 2:1.

FB , says: Website Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 4:28 am GMT
@d dan LOLOLOL

You gotta love these headline fails I mean how is it even possible to be so spectacularly WRONG about everything time after time after time ?

Folks if you want to know why the US is screwed, it's because the same kind of geniuses that write these headlines are in charge of EVERYTHING

One day these people will be studied by psychologists dealing with MASSIVE DELUSION

anon [161] Disclaimer , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 4:39 am GMT
@Godfree Roberts Do you have any odds on Trump v. Biden?
vot tak , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 4:54 am GMT
Interesting article by Escobar. If one cares to notice, this anti-China cold war is a neocon based aggression. The primary movers of it are mostly neocons or the sorts who follow the neocon lead. China is one country the zionazi-gays have not been able to dominate. Coupled with China's economic rise and appeal to developing countries, these zionazi oligarchs are going apeshit trying to bring China down. In addition to other articles referenced in the article, see also this Global Time report:

Chinese ridicule Trump's China 'cut-off' threat

https://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1188437.shtml

"Americans will suffer

[MORE]
"Again! Trump is talking nonsense." Trump seems to be losing his mind right now. Even he has such crazy ideas of cutting ties with China, US politicians, businessmen and Americans would not allow him to do so, Xin Qiang, deputy director of the Center for US Studies at Fudan University, told the Global Times.

He noted that Trump is bluffing and acting tough toward China to win more support. Fox News, which has been regarded as Trump's defender and is notorious for a lack of professionalism, is also making eye-catching news to draw attention.

Jin Canrong, the associate dean of Renmin University of China's School of International Studies in Beijing, told the Global Times on Thursday that Trump made very irresponsible and emotional remarks in the interview.

"The China-US relationship is the most important bilateral relationship in the world and involves huge interests of the two countries, as well as the rest of the world. Therefore, it is not something he can cut off emotionally," Jin said.

"If the US unilaterally cuts off ties, the American people will pay a heavier price than us, because China's domestic market is huge and 75-80 percent of Chinese manufacturers are supplying China's market, and the 2 to 5 percent that supply the US can also be absorbed by the domestic market," he noted.

China has nothing to be afraid of as "in the past, we didn't solve the Taiwan question because we wanted to maintain the China-US relationship, and if the US unilaterally cuts it off, we can just reunify Taiwan immediately since the Chinese mainland has an overwhelming advantage to solve this long-standing problem."

"Trump is like a giant baby on the brink of a meltdown as he faces tremendous pressure due to massive failures that caused such a high death toll," Shen Yi, an expert from Fudan University, told the Global Times. "It's like someone who wants to show his guts when he passes by a cemetery in midnight. He needs to shout to give himself the courage," he said.

Shen also noted that the American companies and industries would suffer the most severe consequences, because the supply chain has been integrated with China.

"The Chinese public would only take such bluffing as a joke," Shen said, adding that there has been no US president in the history who has made such a ridiculous statement against China, not even during the Cold War.

Yuan Zheng, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), said he could not even remember any US leader who took a similar action. "His flip-flop rhetoric is unprecedented, but we need to take a look at whether Trump will take real action," he said, noting that there is no need to pay attention to claims that are unrealistic and meaningless.

"For Trump, fantasy is power; bluffing is power, so he might use the future of his country to gamble with China. Although China always believes cooperation is the only right choice for the two countries to solve the problems together, if the US unilaterally and irrationally chooses all-out confrontation, China also needs to be prepared."

Change that Matters , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 5:11 am GMT
@Godfree Roberts China's economy won't be firing on all cylinders by November, but the important parts of it will be. The manufacturers I talk to have weathered the worst of it, and their order books for Q4 are more or less back to what they were in January (or at least healthy enough to prevent soft skill losses). Many are upbeat about the future. (Not all of them will survive, and the ones that die probably should have done so years ago.)

Compare this to the rest of Asia (Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, Cambodia, Myanmar, and others): they are a mess. Bangladesh put all its eggs in the huge volume low quality basket and will now pay a fatal price. Pakistan was dead before corona, and is now in a manufacturing death spiral. India has the capacity to succeed, but is hamstrung by a caste-based barbarism that has jettisoned all pretense of decency by throwing migrant workers in the informal economy to their deaths. This will not be forgotten and I predict years of trouble. The others only have a manufacturing sector because the Chinese moved their factories there. Vietnam has some chance, and should be a big winner as China moves out of low- to middle-end manufacturing.

Countries in South America have lost their opportunity. China passed them by years ago. It's a tragedy, but they really have themselves to blame for it. And Africa, the last frontier, is already dominated by China (15 years ago I'd bump into Chinese businessmen who'd ship a 40-foot container of – 'insert any product you can think of' – to some back of beyond place in Africa and refuse to come home until everything was sold). They've moved up the ladder since then. Ethiopia, the fastest-growing economy on the continent, is essentially an industrial zone for Chinese manufacturing.

Australia has become a mine/farm for China. New Zealand and Canada likewise, and a nice place to send your teenagers to get educated and perhaps for retirement.

The EU, led by Germany, will be back on track soon. The winners here should be the former USSR countries, with low labor costs and strong soft skills. With EU companies wanting to bring the supply chain closer to home, this is their moment. If they screw it up, they will spend another 30 years wondering what went wrong. I hope they won't, but if you spend any time working with these people you know they often fail at the final hurdle (as though on purpose – the psychology of self-destruction is their Achilles heel).

It's China's game to lose. And quite frankly, at this point, I don't see how. This has been in the making since the late 70s. Perhaps earlier. I admire them for their intelligence, their work ethic, their organizational capacity, their can-do spirit, and – yes – their creativity (if you think China is Japan in the 60s, you need to spend some serious time with younger Chinese in China).

The Chinese problem is, of course, its culture of responsibility avoidance. But even with this issue, they are on track for a knockout victory. Most people in the West have no idea what going on, which is exactly how You Know Who likes it.

I have no intention of letting my tribe be overrun by Chinese. But I have enough experience to know they're smarter than my tribe, and it would be a wise thing to start thinking more strategically and tactically about how to carve out a space in a new world most people are unable to imagine (which is less than 10 years away).

Weston Waroda , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 5:19 am GMT
@Godfree Roberts

The center of gravity of global economic power keeps moving, inexorably, toward Asia.

it's game over

While the U.S. spent recent decades policing the world in pointless wars, China was about the business of building an infrastructure in which all roads lead to Beijing, railroad cars and boatloads of wealth. Just keep it coming, folks. Those roads and railroads and shipping are linking nothing less than Eurasia, Sir Halford's World Island. It took this coronavirus to show the imperial subjects that the Empire is naked and that China had already surpassed it economically several years ago. It seems like it really is game over. I'm sad in a way, but I would rather have a normal country than a hegemon; that is, if normalcy is still a possibility.

Bronze Age Persecutor , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 5:35 am GMT
What about the biggest hybrid war going on since centuries ago: jews (including crypto-jews, hybrids and minions) versus everybody else?
The chinese had the full cooperation of diaspora jews (and their sayanim network) and israelis. Specially the Chabad Lubavich.
Miro23 , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 6:09 am GMT
From the referenced Global Times article, the US attack on Huawei (with its 5G leadership + NSA proof encryption ) is at the heart of the story:

Based on Global Times sources, if the US further pinches Chinese telecommunication giant Huawei by blocking companies such as TSMC from providing chips to the company, China will carry out countermeasures, such as including certain US companies into its list of "unreliable entities," imposing restrictions on or investigating US companies such as Qualcomm, Cisco and Apple, and suspending purchases of Boeing aircraft.

The US would lose this fight. Apple for example manufactures in China with only a small percentage of the sales price staying in China. If Apple manufacturing is shut down then Apple is the big loser. They're already trying to move manufacturing to India but that's not going to work.

We must be clear that coping with US suppression will be the key focus of China's national strategy. We should enhance cooperation with most countries. The US is expected to contain China's international frontlines, and we must knock out this US plot and make China-US rivalry a process of US self-isolation.

China has plenty of alternative markets. US corporations mostly only sell to the US using (now very sophisticated) Chinese manufacturing. Take this away, and Apple for example, have no alternative supplier for the volumes, quality, sub-contractor network and export infrastructure required.

General Qiao dismisses the possibility that Vietnam, the Philippines, Bangladesh, India and other Asian nations may replace China's cheap workforce: "Think about which of these countries has more skilled workers than China. What quantity of medium and high level human resources was produced in China in these past 30 years? Which country is educating over 100 million students at secondary and university levels? The energy of all these people is still far from being liberated for China's economic development."

True.

This will imply a concerted offensive, trying to enforce embargoes and trying to block regional markets to Chinese companies. Lawfare will be the norm. Even freezing Chinese assets in the US is not a far-fetched proposition anymore.

If the US steals the $ trillions China has invested in US treasuries, then the US dollar also forfeits its claim to be the world reserve currency (safe place to hold international trade balances).

Still, scores of nations are being asked, bluntly, by the hegemon to position themselves once again in a "you're with us or against us" global war on terror imperative.

9/11 was fakery pumped up by the MSM to target Iraq/Iran and Covid-19 is more of the same – this time targeting China. European states are getting tired of this game. For example they were all dragged into supporting the Venezuela CIA coup that fizzled, and are now trying to disentangle from it.

General Qiao counsels, "Don't think that only territorial sovereignty is linked to the fundamental interests of a nation. Other kinds of sovereignty – economic, financial, defense, food, resources, biological and cultural sovereignty – are all linked to the interests and survival of nations and are components of national sovereignty."

If the US public look carefully at General Qiao's list they will realize that they have already lost more than 50% of these sovereignties.

Anon [392] Disclaimer , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 6:10 am GMT
" General Qiao dismisses the possibility .. India and other Asian nations may replace China's c: "Think about which of these countries has more skilled "

Everyday US. news are amplifying the bipartisan chorus against China . India is begging for favors from USA while serenading USA with reinforcing American position.

India is stealing land from Nepal and Indian media thinks that ultranationalist of Nepal are to blame for questioning Indian stance .

China is under a real threat of concerted attacks by the US 's opportunistic vassals. There will be a seismic change affecting the alliances and the future .
Can China persuade Nepal Bangladesh Pakistan Sri Lanka Afghanistan Iran and Myanmar to work together and persuade them move out of India's hegemony ?.

Natt , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 6:42 am GMT
Nice fluff piece. China is fucked. Demographically, economically and militarily.
Carlos22 , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 7:06 am GMT
They are probably looking past Trump as they think he may not get back in.

Nov is just a few months away.

The question is what will the democrats do?

Not that I particularly want that of course.

carlusjr , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 7:48 am GMT
It's always astounding to read a geopolitical analysis by a journalist who completely ignores the climate pollution crisis with it's impending effects overhanging every strategy any state may envision to dominate the planet. It's as if the writer lives in an imaginary world devoid of nature, along with his supposed expert sources and well placed powerful state movers and shakers. This is delusional. China's cheap forced labor, making more crap for the planet's shrinking population of affluent consumers, competing with other countries with equally desperate workers. Countries competing to build the most dangerous bio-weapons in their unsafe, leaky level 4 labs. All the while the atmosphere is being polluted to the point of melting all the ice on the planet, the air is being degraded to the point of being disgusting to see and carcinogenic to breath, the fresh water supply is being depleted and polluted, the oceans degraded into radioactive chemical cesspools (soon to be a brown sludge inhabited by only bacteria, viruses and fungus), the land ceded with thousands of chemicals that have no purpose other than to kill. The existential threshold is within a few years. The geopolitical strategy of the US and China can be summarized as a strategy to kill all sentient life on the planet in order to have a some sort of imaginary strategic dominance. It is mass psychosis.
Biff , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 7:58 am GMT
@anon

Do you have any odds on Trump v. Biden?

I've got 2 to 1 odds the voting machines will be electing Biden. They got this far didn't they?

paranoid goy , says: Website Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 8:13 am GMT
@foolisholdman Old man, don't be foolish, they all hate us human scum, and will gladly go to war, are at war. Remember how, in Catch 22, the opposing sides eventually saved a crap load of money by geting Milo de Milo to bomb their own airfields using his supply planes? Its already happening, us plebs are just in the way. In the end, the Protocols calls for one government ruling what's left of mankind "with an iron staff." I cannot tell you (yet) what Zion's hold on Beijing is, but be assured, "bring on the war" is the swill of Zion being lapped up by little globalist piggies trying to get to the trough.
People think 'hybrid warfare" is some kind of technological term. Zion chooses its words very carefully, and your first defence is your dictionary. The USAGE of words change with time, the MEANING is constant. Now let's go find them hybrids, before Bill Gates can create enough microcephalics to man his man/machine interfaced battle 'droids armed with depleted uranium bullets and virally-delivered vaccines.
paranoid goy , says: Website Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 8:28 am GMT
@carlusjr Pollution sure is an important issue, one of the most important of our time, yes. The subject matter at hand though, is mostly military, with economics as a condiment to explain the sour taste. China might be the one manufacturing plastic turds, but it is the so-called western media that is teaching your children the dire need to own the latest version of plastic poop. China would not bother with plastic poop, but you voted for people who decided China makes the best poo at the lowest cost and highest profit. Don't blame China for taking advantage of YOUR leadership's desire to disown YOU and hand your habitat over to those who "know how to make a profit" from your suffering, while dangling a piece of plastic poop in front of you, calling it ambition, and deplatforming you if you refuse their offer of improved turdiness.
But yah, now we know you hate pollution. Soon we will close down all the factories, and ban all cars, and only those on "official business" will be alowed on aeroplanes, and then you can breathe freely, as you stand in line, so the Special Agents can see if you have the Bill Gates vaccine licence to visit the plastic poop and soylent green depository that we used to call a supermarket.
Buzz Mohawk , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 9:04 am GMT

A toxic racism-meets-anti-communism matrix is responsible for the predominant anti-Chinese sentiment across the US, encompassing at least 66% of the whole population.

No it isn't.

A hint of what is responsible is this from the same article:

"They have state of the art technology, but not the methods and production capacity. So they have to rely on Chinese production."

Our jobs, our industry, our hard-earned intellectual property, and our money have all gone to China. Our own leaders of industry and government are to blame for our predicament, but our anger at China is the result.

Funny this from the Chinese General Qiao:

"as a producing country, we still cannot satisfy our manufacturing industry with our own resources and rely on our own markets to consume our products."

No kidding, General. Your country built itself up by selling to us! We made you into our own rival. Thanks are in order, but instead you plot to weaken us.

Tor597 , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 9:10 am GMT
Just wanted to point out the excellent concept of cultural sovereignty as something that is akin to territorial sovereignty.

Both are needed, but cultural sovereignty is ever more important to inoculate your citizens against globe homo.

Half-Jap , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 9:14 am GMT
@Godfree Roberts Sounds like a man who has no understanding of the science regarding the matter, but so doesn't most of the world. Vaccine? Anti-body treatment? Does anybody know what they are and how they work (or doesn't) or mean? From those tests to those invasive ventilators, it shows me how people can easily be herded towards slaughter, for their safety, ofc, because "science." And just over a mild cold no less.
So much for China's brilliance; they are as dumb or brainwashed by 'accepted science' as the next moronic authority figure.
But exploiting the situation, that's something else that should be appreciated.
anon [232] Disclaimer , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 9:17 am GMT
@Godfree Roberts

China is leading

Godfree, we will bury you and your beloved CCP.

Wood Stove , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 9:42 am GMT
@carlusjr Ok Karen
Adûnâi , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 9:45 am GMT

This will be China's contribution to ensuring vaccine accessibility and affordability in developing countries." The Global South is paying attention.

Do the underdeveloped (hate the PC term "developing") countries even want a vaccine? They have too many people anyway, any moderate dying will be an advantage to their societies. And another point is that the anti-vaxxer movement there might be on the rise, just as it is in America – remember how the Philippines government was watching a conspiracy video about evil Bill Gates? I have talked to anti-vaxxer people in my Ukrainian university!

"Containment" will go into overdrive. A neat example is Admiral Philip Davidson – head of the Indo-Pacific Command – asking for $20 billion for a "robust military cordon" from California to Japan and down the Pacific Rim, complete with "highly survivable, precision-strike networks" along the Pacific Rim and "forward-based, rotational joint forces" to counteract the "renewed threat we face from great power competition."

My prediction is the US goes into a civil war > the liberals start losing > the liberals invite the Chinese into California > the Chinese exterminate all Americans and get a large Lebensraum in the East.

Anon [397] Disclaimer , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 9:50 am GMT
a Korea War pictorial. Nice.
It's long long ago since China made the last movie about Korea War. Too long ago that they are in black and white.
Recently someone is preparing for a new movie: The Chosin Lake.
I really hope it will be well made. I love war movies, especially the ones on historical big wars.
Just Passing Through , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 10:13 am GMT
@Natt I think you are mistaken and are describing America.
Just Passing Through , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 10:28 am GMT
@Buzz Mohawk I think the Western globalists though that China would be subservient to them and not get any funny ideas, this virus is just a cover for antipathy that was building up for years, similar to how the poor Jews being persecuted in Germany was used by propagandists to whip up Germany sentiment, because of German economic prowess.

Western thinking is dominated by this balance of power mentality, the same mentality such caused it to enter into two fratricidal wars not too long ago.

One can only hope this is good news for us, but I fear the globalists will just use this time to move manufacturing to other Third World countries instead of bringing it back home.

I agree that it was a huge mistake transferring our IP to China, they would simply have not got to this point if we hadn't. This is also why the Chinese are not taking any chances in their BRI, and are using Chinese labour instead of doing the more sustainable thing and training up local workers, that would mean a destruction of their market! Sadly this will continue, on top of the terrible policy of mass Third World immigration, we let Chinese into out top companies and research facilities, some of whom no doubt pass this information back home.

https://time.com/5596066/emory-fires-chinese-researchers/

In terms of realpolitik, I think it is very smart that China is using its diaspora as a fifth column.

padre , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 10:36 am GMT
@Natt Do you know, how many times in their short history of about roughly 5000 years were Chinese doomed ?
Really No Shit , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 10:50 am GMT
So the Global South is going to be "grateful" to China for coming up with vaccination after innudating it with the Chinese virus in the first place Pepe, lay of the Mezcal because is clouding your opaque thinking!
John Hagan , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 11:07 am GMT
Let me make this clear. America is self-destructing. A malignant narcissist in charge and a man who cannot construct a sentence is an alternative. A stock market devoid of reality and a 1 percent devoid of conscience. Any remote consideration of the other 99 percent is soley based on profit. Any civilization that cannot reverse itself is doomed. China maybe a shortterm factor yet not a factor in the longer considerations.
Avery , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 11:10 am GMT
@foolisholdman {Honestly, I don't see it.}

Agree.

{ .. and the US has no guts for one. Its industry has been hollowed out not just by outsourcing but by corruption as well.}

Even in the 50s when US industry was not hollowed out ( ran supreme) and China had no nukes, US was unable to defeat China in a ground war in Korea. Of course there was talk in US of using nukes against China (Gen. MacArthur), but cooler heads prevailed, arguing that, that would trigger USSR to use nukes too, resulting in world wide nuclear conflagration.

Now China has nukes, and delivery systems, and US cannot possible defeat China conventionally, so US will huff-and-puff, try to damage China financially, or steal its holdings in US*, but nothing will come out of it.

Sad that US screwed itself over the years so badly that it is in this predicament now.

_____________________________
* There has been semi-serious talk in US of just taking $ hundreds of billions of Chinese holdings in US as payment for ' damages' China has supposedly caused US by Covid-19.

Big Daddy , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 11:28 am GMT
All this big nation state fluff stinks today as it did when the first two Western ones, England and France had a 100 Years War and it has stunk throughout history.

We humans are born naked, helpless, and totally ignorant. We also have an evil streak in us; vide Adam and Eve. And as Shakespeare stated we must consign ourselves to a willing death each eve or we die. We are so haughty yet the first thing we must do upon wakening from our nightly death is evacuate waste.

We have never respected Nature. Now we spray aluminum and plastic microns in the upper atmosphere which we all breathe as they fall and have virtually destroyed the ozone layer and the biosphere. We live in 1984 right now!

True libertarianism which is no aggression against person or property and backed up by cheap, Natural Law arbitration courts works. It is that or sayonara humans.

Realist , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 11:42 am GMT
@Natt

Nice fluff piece. China is fucked. Demographically, economically and militarily.

Is that you Trump?

You're new around these here parts aren't you boy?

Parfois1 , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 11:45 am GMT
@foolisholdman

My reasoning is simple, maybe too simple. The Chinese will not start a shooting war and the US has no guts for one.

You may be right about the Chinese (their government looks after 1,3 billion people) and that the US has no guts. But what is the "US"? If you mean the (mostly Jewish) ruling cabal and their goyim political clowns and puppets, you have no reason to be so sanguine about the "no guts". It's not their guts that will be on the line, for they will be quite happy so sacrifice millions of the plebes for the greater good of Israel and rebooting the "economy". War devastations (and pandemics) are the greatest source for immiserating and culling the masses and channeling wealth to the banksters.

Facing the demise of the Jewish-led hegemony through its PNAC's "full-spectrum dominance" – and what that could do to the SHITIS (shit-state of Israel) – it is reasonable (in their twisted minds) to step to the brink and beyond. Besides, the most recent great wars (the greatest carnages in the world's history) were not intended to end the way the warhawks wanted (neither Hitler not Chamberlain wished the destruction of country or empire) but the power dynamics unleashed by geopolitical gamesmanship suppresses reason.

JohnPlywood , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 11:49 am GMT
@paranoid goy Non-CO2 pollution is a non-issue. It was far worse in the USA and China 50 years ago (air and water), and in Europe/East coast USA over 200 years ago. Wildlife populations are also rebounding. Every time I hear some retard complaining about pollution on the internet, I want to reach through the monitor and pepper spray them.
bigduke6 , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 11:52 am GMT

A toxic racism

You're a "toxic racist" cries the yellow supremacist as he shills for Beijing

GeeBee , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 12:05 pm GMT
@Natt In other news, the USA's Ministry of Plenty has announced that the weekly chocolate ration is to be increased from 70 gms to 40 gms
ld , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 12:19 pm GMT
@d dan The American Dream is Live and well.

If they keep saying it like a mantra maybe it will come true.

Trust the media.

ld , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 12:25 pm GMT
@anon They say that Biden is Israel's pick so it will likey be Biden.
His senility will make him easier to control than Trump.
Desert Fox , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 12:37 pm GMT
The zionists are in control of China and the ZUS and Russia and Europe and India and everywhere in central and South America, and the fact is the zionist control was proven by every country that forced their people into the forced lockdown, using this scam of a coronavirus as an excuse.

These wars are a deversion, as the zionist install their global prison.

AWM , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 1:16 pm GMT
"When will the Communist "clenched fist" attack America?"

Stanislav Lunev: "As soon as they can't steal from you anymore."

Guess what folks, the "Combloc Flu" was the first strike.

450.org , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 1:31 pm GMT

General Qiao dismisses the possibility that Vietnam, the Philippines, Bangladesh, India and other Asian nations may replace China's cheap workforce: "Think about which of these countries has more skilled workers than China. What quantity of medium and high level human resources was produced in China in these past 30 years? Which country is educating over 100 million students at secondary and university levels? The energy of all these people is still far from being liberated for China's economic development."

Once again, I must caveat this with the proclamation I was not and I am not an advocate for Obama's TPP. The reason I'm not an advocate is for environmental purposes. I believe growth is killing the living planet and soon enough will extinct humans as well as many, most even, other species on the planet. The TPP did nothing to address growth and instead enabled it further by enhancing global trade versus diminishing it.

That being said, the TPP was a strategy to contain China's growing influence. It was intended to put global trade eggs in many baskets and not just in the basket labeled China. What does Trump do? He puts all the trade eggs in China's basket under the aegis/rubric of repatriating manufacturing to America. He put a knife in TPP and killed it but he never brought manufacturing back to America. Now America is truly good and fucked. Over a barrel. No options. Can you believe this moron and the cabal that's using him as a foil? Like I said before, if Trump didn't exist, the CCP would have to invent him because more than any other power player, be it Russia or Saudi Arabia or Israel, Trump has been extremely beneficial to China. Under Trump's watch, China is now the most powerful country in the world. Because of Trump, China is now the leader of the world. America, finally, has been knocked from its perch just as England was over 100 years prior. Once knocked from the perch, there is no regaining the status you once enjoyed. I suspect that within five years the dollar will no longer be the world's currency. When that happens, it's lights out for America FOR REAL. All this banter is whistling past the graveyard. What's done is done.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2015/06/21/commentary/japan-commentary/chinas-the-reason-why-u-s-needs-the-tpp/#.XsUuMS-z17M

House Democrats who've been interfering with President Barack Obama's ability to negotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership are missing something very important: The trade deal isn't primarily significant because of the economy. It matters because it's part of the broader American geostrategic goal of containing China -- which pointedly hasn't been invited to join the TPP.

In the new cool war, China's rising economic influence is giving it greater geopolitical power in Asia. The TPP is, above all, an effort to push back on China's powerful trade relationships to reduce its political clout. By weakening Obama's ability to pursue it, congressional Democrats had been unintentionally weakening the U.S. side in the cool war.

In all this, China is using its close economic relationship with its neighbors as leverage to build its geopolitical position. Its ultimate goal is to displace the U.S. as the regional hegemon. President Xi Jinping's slogan of the "Chinese dream" requires nothing less.

The TPP aims to reduce some of China's geopolitical resurgence by damping down the extent of China's regional trade dominance. China itself has a proposed regional trade alliance, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, that would include 16 members and exclude the U.S. Australia, Japan and South Korea are all involved in negotiations to become members. The TPP is a direct, competitive counterpart to the RCEP.

Fyi, the following cartoon is per China Daily , a publication owned and run by the CCP. It's favorable to Trump. It's clear by virtue of Trump's cozy relationship with Putin and Xi that Trump is a communist in capitalist clothing. He is a communist trojan horse in the oval office. But he's even more than that. He has many hats. He's a tool, a self-promoting front man, for any tyrant or tyranny that expands his brand masquerading as a man of the people. As if. He's a man, albeit an insane moron, of the extractive elite and the extractive elite are transnational and transcultural. The extractive elite are a nation and culture unto themselves and the rest of us are their slaves on this global plantation.

Astuteobservor II , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 1:34 pm GMT
@Weston Waroda Once reserved currency status of dollar is over n done with, there would be zero need for the huge military budget. That is the silver lining of this whole thing. The wars might finally stop. But living standards will take a hit from the devaluation of the dollar. But but, Jobs would return through that weakened dollar as off shoring jobs would no longer make sense. And just maybe, our political class might finally focus on domestic issues and improve the country after 4 decades of stagnation.
Astuteobservor II , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 1:38 pm GMT
@Miro23 Apple follows every single law in China. Apple makes a lot of money in China, but also pays alot of taxes. I highly doubt it would be a target of retaliation. But other companies are fair game. Just something I noticed.
450.org , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 1:47 pm GMT
@carlusjr Spot on. Humans are drowning in their own filth. There's an adage, "don't shit where you eat." Humans invented the saying but apparently don't abide by it and in fact zealously defy it. Here we are. It will be one pandemic after another from now until human is no more. Rapid pace, like automatic weapon fire. The center cannot hold and is not holding. Civilization is going down. Will the Samson Option be utilized? Man's last act? Destroy the planet entirely if he can't have it entirely? My bet is this is how it will go down. All you have to do is extrapolate the curve.
Sick of Orcs , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 1:51 pm GMT
As long as America's Most Important Ally™ is safe
Cowboy , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 1:54 pm GMT
Another bubblegum pop song from Lil Peepee and the chinks
Just Passing Through , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 1:59 pm GMT
@bigduke6 It is quite obvious why they are doing, they are using Europeans' own liberal ideology against them. In today's Western world, nothing is worse than being a "racist" (except maybe, just maybe a paedophile necrophiliac, but even that is a close one) as such they will use these terms to beat down Europeans. Erdogan recently likened Greece to "Nazis", due to their brave defiance to Third World invaders.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/11/erdogan-compares-greek-border-crackdown-to-nazi-atrocities

As if they genuinely give a shit about Nazis, a particularly European obsession due to decades of brainwashing by the Jewish media elite. Even if one believes the textbooks in relation to Nazi atrocities, the fact is that such things are normal for history. No other people's beat themselves down over bad stuff they've done, hell, the Mongolians have erected a big statue of Genghis Khan, one of the greatest mass murderers in history!

Hegar , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 2:07 pm GMT
Extremely misleading headline. Since the Asia Times story is actually about economic and political sovereignity – always a big issue for China ever since the Eight Powers carved up the nation in the past: Germany, Japan, Russia, Britain, France, Italy, Austria-Hungary, and the U.S.

It doesn't speak about warfare against the U.S. It speaks about meeting a threat from the U.S. It does speak of taking Taiwan, though by avoiding outright warfare. This is not something we should desire, but it is not war against the U.S., as the misleading headline is intended to make people believe.

As usual most of the rubes will only read the headline and look at the pictures, maybe skim through the text a bit, before typing out an angry post based on whether they like or dislike whatever nation is mentioned. Much like cruzbots and Bush lovers use Breitbart comments to screech against Iran and praise Israel. No facts needed.

[May 20, 2020] China Updates its 'Art of (Hybrid) War'

Notable quotes:
"... An example, referring to Covid-19, is the capacity to produce ventilators: "Out of over 1,400 pieces necessary for a ventilator, over 1,100 must be produced in China, including final assembly. That's the US problem today. They have state of the art technology, but not the methods and production capacity. So they have to rely on Chinese production." ..."
"... The gold standard expression has come in a no-holds barred Global Times editorial : "We must be clear that coping with US suppression will be the key focus of China's national strategy. We should enhance cooperation with most countries. The US is expected to contain China's international front lines, and we must knock out this US plot and make China-US rivalry a process of US self-isolation." ..."
"... An inevitable corollary is that the all-out offensive to cripple Huawei will be counterpunched in kind, targeting Apple, Qualcom, Cisco and Boeing, even including "investigations or suspensions of their right to do business in China." ..."
"... So, for all practical purposes, Beijing has now publicly unveiled its strategy to counteract U.S. President Donald Trump's "We could cut off the whole relationship" kind of assertions. ..."
"... The politicians controlling US foreign policy are leading us straight into the 19th century, with their updated gunboat diplomacy ..."
May 20, 2020 | consortiumnews.com

Dancing with Wolves

The bulk of his argument concentrates on the shortcomings of U.S. manufacturing: "How can the US today want to wage war against the biggest manufacturing power in the world while its own industry is hollowed out?"

An example, referring to Covid-19, is the capacity to produce ventilators: "Out of over 1,400 pieces necessary for a ventilator, over 1,100 must be produced in China, including final assembly. That's the US problem today. They have state of the art technology, but not the methods and production capacity. So they have to rely on Chinese production."

... ... ...

Gloves Are Off

Now compare General Qiao's analysis with the by-now-obvious geopolitical and geo-economic fact that Beijing will respond tit for tat to any hybrid war tactics deployed by the United States government. The gloves are definitely off.

The gold standard expression has come in a no-holds barred Global Times editorial : "We must be clear that coping with US suppression will be the key focus of China's national strategy. We should enhance cooperation with most countries. The US is expected to contain China's international front lines, and we must knock out this US plot and make China-US rivalry a process of US self-isolation."

An inevitable corollary is that the all-out offensive to cripple Huawei will be counterpunched in kind, targeting Apple, Qualcom, Cisco and Boeing, even including "investigations or suspensions of their right to do business in China."

So, for all practical purposes, Beijing has now publicly unveiled its strategy to counteract U.S. President Donald Trump's "We could cut off the whole relationship" kind of assertions.

A toxic racism-meets-anti-communism matrix is responsible for the predominant anti-Chinese sentiment across the U.S., encompassing at least 66 percent of the whole population. Trump instinctively seized it – and repackaged it as his re-election campaign theme, fully approved by Steve Bannon.

The strategic objective is to go after China across the full spectrum. The tactical objective is to forge an anti-China front across the West: another instance of encirclement, hybrid war-style, focused on economic war.

This will imply a concerted offensive, trying to enforce embargoes and trying to block regional markets to Chinese companies. Lawfare will be the norm. Even freezing Chinese assets in the U.S. is not a far-fetched proposition anymore.

Every possible Silk Road branch-out – on the energy front, ports, the Health Silk Road, digital interconnection – will be strategically targeted. Those who were dreaming that Covid-19 could be the ideal pretext for a new Yalta – uniting Trump, Xi and Putin – may rest in peace.

"Containment" will go into overdrive. A neat example is Admiral Philip Davidson – head of the Indo-Pacific Command – asking for $20 billion for a "robust military cordon" from California to Japan and down the Pacific Rim, complete with "highly survivable, precision-strike networks" along the Pacific Rim and "forward-based, rotational joint forces" to counteract the "renewed threat we face from great power competition."

Davidson argues that, "without a valid and convincing conventional deterrent, China and Russia will be emboldened to take action in the region to supplant U.S. interests."

... ... ...

From the point of view of large swathes of the Global South, the current, extremely dangerous incandescence, or New Cold War, is mostly interpreted as the progressive ending of the Western coalition's hegemony over the whole planet.

Still, scores of nations are being asked, bluntly, by the hegemon to position themselves once again in a "you're with us or against us" global war on terror imperative.

... ... ...

For the first time in 35 years, Beijing will be forced to relinquish its economic growth targets. This also means that the objective of doubling GDP and per capita income by 2020 compared with 2010 will also be postponed.

What we should expect is absolute emphasis on domestic spending – and social stability – over a struggle to become a global leader, even if that's not totally overlooked.

... ... ...

Internally, Beijing will boost support for state-owned enterprises that are strong in innovation and risk-taking. China always defies predictions by Western "experts." For instance, exports rose 3.5 percent in April, when the experts were forecasting a decline of 15.7 percent. The trade surplus was $45.3 billion, when experts were forecasting only $6.3 billion.

Beijing seems to identify clearly the extending gap between a West, especially the U.S., that's plunging into de facto New Great Depression territory with a China that's about to rekindle economic growth


Zhu , May 20, 2020 at 00:34

"A toxic mixture of racism and anti-communism" sounds about right. The Chinese government is not submissive and the "Chinks" are getting too prosperous. That's bound to infuriate both elite and grass-roots Americans.

Drew Hunkins , May 20, 2020 at 00:34

"For the first time in 35 years, Beijing will be forced to relinquish its economic growth targets. This also means that the objective of doubling GDP and per capita income by 2020 compared with 2010 will also be postponed. "

Good, good, just wonderful. This will really endear the United States to the Chinese people.

All that the Chinese govt did for its people over the last 30 years is totally eliminate poverty, that's all. Gotta love how our Western mass media won't shut their mouths about this small achievement.

Drew Hunkins , May 20, 2020 at 00:15

"Those who were dreaming that Covid-19 could be the ideal pretext for a new Yalta – uniting Trump, Xi and Putin – may rest in peace."

Rest in peace, no doubt. Washington is all about unilateralism, period. This is the crux of the issue, the rapacious capitalist-imperialists who infest Wall St, the military contractors and corporate mass media want nothing to do with a multi-polar world. This could lead to putting the far east on a dangerous path with U.S. warships provocatively traversing the area.

gcw , May 19, 2020 at 21:08

The politicians controlling US foreign policy are leading us straight into the 19th century, with their updated gunboat diplomacy . Never a thought to the impending disaster of climate change and unparalleled social and environmental chaos, they dream instead of yet another Cold War (Yellow-Peril 2.0), all the time sustaining a gargantuan military establishment which is draining the life-blood from American society. The Covid-19 virus is just a warning to us: we have about 5% of the world's population, yet lead the pack in deaths from the virus. If this monumental display of incompetence doesn't wake us up, what will?

[May 20, 2020] The best argument I have read from the anti China camp has been that if China succeeds, US dollar will be kaput, living standard in the USA will tanked

May 20, 2020 | www.unz.com

,

Ann Nonny Mouse , says: Show Comment May 6, 2020 at 9:33 pm GMT
@utu ... He produces evidence, evidence in response to highly-coordinated anti-China propaganda, the mountains of belligerent lies that are all that remain today of the failed state the USA. Those lies plus its military killing millions all over the world, incessantly destroying or attempting to destroy states simply for being independent.

Enormous thanks to Godfree Roberts.

Realist , says: Show Comment May 6, 2020 at 10:49 pm GMT
@Astuteobservor II

The best argument I have read from the anti China camp has been that if China succeeds, US dollar will be kaput, living standard in the USA will tanked to shit levels compare to right now.

Why would China succeeding reduce our living standard?

Realist , says: Show Comment May 6, 2020 at 11:07 pm GMT
@Ron Unz

Well, American propaganda is certainly vastly superior to the Chinese variety

American propaganda is certainly more effective but that is because of the stupidity of most Americans.

Yes the video is accurate and that means the Chinese know us well much better than we know them.

Astuteobservor II , says: Show Comment May 6, 2020 at 11:13 pm GMT
@Realist If China succeeds, that means dollar as reserve currency is kaput. Without the reserved currency status, dollar will devalue by 50% or more. Living standard auto lowers by 50% or more.

[May 17, 2020] TSMC a Taiwan chip's foundry not permitted to sell any chips to Huawei

May 17, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

JC , May 17 2020 18:03 utc | 16

Almost every freaking day Trump and Pompeo bashing China including Huawei.. Not a day of peace without china bashing.

Days earlier ZeroHedge, SCMP and other media reported freaking Trump and Pompeo... no companies inside or outside USA can sell American software or technology items or chips made with USA properties or machines to Huawei.

Meaning TSMC a Taiwan chip's foundry not permitted to sell any chips to Huawei, TSMC has been the world's dedicated semiconductor foundry. "curtailing its chip supply, an escalation of its campaign against the Chinese company that may also hurt Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co."

"China has the most fab projects in the world.... 30 facilities planned, including 10/7nm processes, but trade war and economic factors could slow progress...... SMIC 's move would put it on par with some of its foreign rivals. In addition, SMIC has obtained $10 billion in funding to develop 10nm and 7nm. Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC) is a publicly held semiconductor foundry company, and the largest in China.

"Wuhan Hongxin Semiconductor Manufacturing (HSMC), a logic IC foundry founded in late 2017, is gearing up for 14nm and 7nm process manufacturing eyeing to be China's most advanced contract chipmaker.....Shang-yi Chiang, the former executive VP and co-chief operating officer overseeing R&D for Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), will join a Wuhan-headquartered foundry in China. "<

[May 17, 2020] India can serve as the USA ally in US-china trade war

May 17, 2020 | astutenews.com

BRICS Is Broken

Gone are the "good 'ole days" of BRICS bonhomie when the Alt-Media Community used to sing the praises of this nascent trade bloc and portray it as a game-changing development in International Relations. Although promising on paper, BRICS was always destined to be disappointing due to the irreparable differences between India and China that were either downplayed or outright ignored by this organization's loudest advocates. The author has been consistently warning for over the past four years that " India Is Now An American Ally " after it clinched the Logistics Exchange Memorandum Of Agreement (LEMOA) with the US to allow the latter to use its military infrastructure on a case-by-case "logistical" bases. Since then, India has fully submitted to the Pentagon's "Indo-Pacific" strategy of empowering the South Asian state as a "counterweight" China, with even Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov loudly warning his country's strategic partner of the pitfalls of this scenario as recently as early January of this year while speaking at a conference in their country.

Modi's Military Madness

Alas, whether due to long-lasting ignorance of the situation, unchecked professional incompetence, and/or shadowy motives that can only be speculated upon, the majority of the Alt-Media Community still refuses to recognize these facts, though the latest developments pertaining to Indian-Chinese relations might finally cause them to reconsider their inexplicable stance of always "covering up" for New Delhi. India has recently clashed with China along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Indian-Occupied Kashmir 's Ladakh region and close to the Donglang Plateau (described as "Doklam" by India and thus widely reported upon with this name in the Western Mainstream Media and among the members of the Alt-Media Community sympathetic to New Delhi) near Sikkim where they had their infamous three-month-long standoff in summer 2017 (which threatened to repeat itself in 2018). So tense has the situation become in Ladakh that China reportedly flew several helicopters near the scene while India flew a few fighter jets, significantly upping the ante.

India's Attempt To "Poach" Chinese-Based Companies

The backdrop against which these clashes are transpiring is India's aggressive attempt to "poach" foreign companies from the People's Republic, which the author analyzed last month in his piece about how " India's Selective Embrace Of Economic Nationalism Has Anti-Chinese Motivations ". Of relevance, India has also set aside land twice the size of Luxembourg for such companies to exploit in the event that they decide to re-offshore from the East Asian state to the South Asian one.

This perfectly dovetails with Trump's " trade war " plans to encourage foreign companies to leave his country's rival and either return home or set up shop in a friendly pro-American country instead. Of note, India is also vehemently opposed to China's Belt & Road Initiative ( BRI ) behind the US on the basis that its flagship project of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor ( CPEC ) traverses through territory that New Delhi claims as its own per its maximalist approach to the Kashmir Conflict . Obviously, the US couldn't have found a better ally than India to thwart China's economic plans.

The US Might Rule The WHO Via Its Indian Proxy

On the soft power front, India is slated to assume leadership of the World Health Assembly (WHA, the governing body of the World Health Organization, WHO) from Japan later this month, and it's already being widely speculated in Indian media that the country might be seriously considering taking the US' side in respect to investigating the WHO for its alleged pro-Chinese bias . Not only that, but India might even be receptive towards Taiwan's request to participate in the organization's meetings, the scenario of which has already concerned China so much that its embassy in New Delhi felt compelled to remind the Indian leadership that doing so would violate the One China principle. From the American perspective, this is an unprecedented opportunity for Washington to exercise proxy leadership of the WHO through its "junior partner" of India, which could add a speciously convincing degree of credibility to its anti-Chinese claims in an attempt to win back the many hearts and minds that it's lost to its rival throughout the course of World War C .

The Indo-American Hybrid War On China

Taken together, India is indisputably intensifying its American-backed Hybrid War against China as a sign of fealty to its new ally, especially considering that it's only officially been the US' " comprehensive global strategic partner " since Trump's landmark visit to the country a few months back in February and thus feels like it has something to prove. Both countries share the grand strategic goal of "containing" China, to which end they're working hand-in-glove with one another to carry out this concerted campaign against the People's Republic.

Building off of the idiom, the American hand is unquestionably controlling the Indian glove after Trump cracked the whip on Modi by forcing him to export hydroxychloroquine to the US last month, which asserted his country's dominance as India's neo-imperial master. Whether across the military, economic, or soft power domains, the US-Indian alliance is doing its utmost to create serious difficulties for China. With India now suspecting China of building an island off of its coast, ties will likely continue to worsen to the US' benefit.


By Andrew Korybko

Source: One World

[May 15, 2020] China Ready To Target Apple, Qualcomm, Cisco and Boeing in Retaliation Against US' Huawei Ban - Slashdot

May 15, 2020 | apple.slashdot.org

An anonymous reader shares a report: China is ready to take a series of countermeasures against a US plan to block shipments of semiconductors to Chinese telecom firm Huawei , including putting US companies on an "unreliable entity list," launching investigations and imposing restrictions on US companies such as Apple and suspending the purchase of Boeing airplanes, a source close to the Chinese government told the Global Times. The Trump administration on Friday moved to block shipments of semiconductors to Huawei from global chipmakers. The US Commerce Department said it was amending an export rule and the Entity List to "strategically target Huawei's acquisition of semiconductors that are the direct product of certain US software and technology," according to a statement on its website. "China will take forceful countermeasures to protect its own legitimate rights," if the US moves forward with the plan to bar essential suppliers of chips, including Taiwan-based TSMC, from selling chips to the Chinese tech giant, the source told the Global Times in an exclusive interview.


Brain-Fu ( 1274756 ) , Friday May 15, 2020 @02:58PM ( #60064610 ) Homepage Journal

All chips have backdoors. ( Score: 5 , Insightful)

Every hardware vendor has clear and strong incentives to bake backdoors into their hardware. The only difference is to whom they are loyal.

sehlat ( 180760 ) , Friday May 15, 2020 @02:20PM ( #60064454 )
Universal Rule of Economic Warfare ( Score: 1 )

Both sides lose ... BIG.

bodog ( 231448 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 1 )

BIGLY. tftfy.

UnknowingFool ( 672806 ) , Friday May 15, 2020 @02:45PM ( #60064558 )
Re:Universal Rule of Economic Warfare ( Score: 3 )

Well people on both sides lose. The leaders on both sides do not lose as much. Concisely Put.

Alain Williams ( 2972 ) writes: < addw@phcomp.co.uk > on Friday May 15, 2020 @02:31PM ( #60064502 ) Homepage
Is anyone surprised ? ( Score: 5 , Interesting)

China will also put a lot of money into making things that it has, up to now, obtained from the USA. It might take a few years, but China's government set up (ie one party always in power) means that it does not have to do things to an electoral cycle.

[May 14, 2020] The USA fake democracy vs inverted totalitarism with Chinese characteristics

Notable quotes:
"... Sad but true. We are all given our illusions. In US its the illusion of democracy which is a fake democracy cloaking our totalitarian reality. In China they give the people the illusion of moving towards socialism, a fake socialism to be sure, never mind all the billionaire party members (and they don't have universal health care either, its insurance based) .The people have long accepted the reality of totalitarianism so they are one step ahead. ..."
May 14, 2020 | www.unz.com

Pft , says: Show Comment May 14, 2020 at 6:41 am GMT

Sad but true. We are all given our illusions. In US its the illusion of democracy which is a fake democracy cloaking our totalitarian reality. In China they give the people the illusion of moving towards socialism, a fake socialism to be sure, never mind all the billionaire party members (and they don't have universal health care either, its insurance based) .The people have long accepted the reality of totalitarianism so they are one step ahead.

Since China doesn't have another party to blame they must blame external enemies like the US and we happily play along with tarrifs paid for by us dumb sheep who cry out in satisfaction "take that". Lol

A fake Cold War works for us too. Trump says we are in a race for 5G and AI/Robotics with China. We must win or all is lost to China. Social credit scores, digital ID and digital currency along with Total Information Awareness and Full Spectrum Dominance over the herd.

Health effects of 5G will be blamed on CoVID. Fake Science is a great tool. Scientists never lie, they can be trusted, just like Priests . They are the Priests of the New Technocratic World Order. Global Warming and COVID- We must believe. They say Vaccines and 5G are good for you, just like DDT and Tobacco were said to be Good by Scientists of another time. We must believe. Have Faith and you will earn social credit bonus points.

Reality is Fake Wrestling. Kayfabe all the way baby. Who is the face and who is the heel? We are free to choose. So who says we don't have freedom?

[May 14, 2020] If we discard xenophobia, China is not natural ally of the USA

But it was natural target of offshoring manufacturing during neoliberal globalization frenzy. Now the USA needs to pay the price for the betryal of its elite.
Notable quotes:
"... China is not a natural ally of the US. It was helped for decades as a counterweight to the USSR and that policy continued after the Cold War ended because the Western elite reaped vast profits from the entry of a billion Chinese into the world labour markets. We have created a monster of arrogance and economic dynamism that refuses to take measures against novel coronaviruses springing out of their peculiar eating and aphrodisiac medicine habits. ..."
May 14, 2020 | www.unz.com

Sean , says: Show Comment May 14, 2020 at 6:22 am GMT

The USA is under no obligation whatsoever to be friendly to Russia, and especially not to China which rather owes America for everything and has repaid it in death. Capital and technology has flowed to China from America for decades. In return they sent profit to Wall St, Wuhan made Fentanyl the death of choice for whites desperate as a result of the policies that made China did so well out of, and now they send us a deadly epidemic.

RussiaGateRussiaGateRussiaGateChinaDidItChinaDidItChinaDidItIranIsEvilIranIsEvil

China is not a natural ally of the US. It was helped for decades as a counterweight to the USSR and that policy continued after the Cold War ended because the Western elite reaped vast profits from the entry of a billion Chinese into the world labour markets. We have created a monster of arrogance and economic dynamism that refuses to take measures against novel coronaviruses springing out of their peculiar eating and aphrodisiac medicine habits.

It was coffee made from beans taken from civet faeces that led to the SARS-CoV bat/ civet recombination virus and the 2002 Sars outbreak, during which China lied about what was happening as they subsequently admitted. The SARS-CoV 2 receptor-binding domain from pangolins ( world's most trafficked animal, is in demand by Chinese as a male enhancer) and it recombined with a bat virus was hundreds of times more effective a pathogen in humans than the one from bat–civet recombination of eighteen years ago.

But that is not what the Chinese said. Researchers in Wuhan on December 31st told the world about the Wuhan disease having been identifies as a coronavirus but said, 'It's not highly transmissible'. As late as the the 24th of January, Doctor Fauci w gave a briefing for senators in which he said there was very little danger to the US from the Wuhan disease. Later that day he repeated that opinion at a press conference.

So China said it was not infectious between people and there was nothing much to worry about. When Trump began to restrict travel into the US from China on the 31st January there was uproar about this supposed further evidence of his xenophobia,.

[May 14, 2020] How Beijing will respond to the anti-China fervor sweeping the US by Sam Bresnick & Lucas Tcheyan

May 13, 2020 | responsiblestatecraft.org

President Trump has used his executive power to take a hatchet to 40 years of America's China policy. His administration has called for a "whole-of-government" approach to counter Beijing's unfair economic practices, initiated a damaging trade war, banned Chinese telecommunication equipment from domestic networks, and implemented stringent regulations to vet Chinese investments in sensitive industries.

In a novel development, the administration has begun coaxing individual states to aid the federal government in its anti-China fervor. Speaking to the National Governors Association in early February, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned that "competition with China is not just a federal issue It's happening in your states with consequences for our foreign policy, for the citizens that reside in your states, and indeed, for each of you."

The administration's enlisting of states in the broader U.S.-China competition has significant economic implications for subnational actors. Increasingly hawkish incumbents, as well as congressional candidates, could provoke economic pushback from Beijing. Many of these officials have bought into the Republican Party's strategy of carrying out an " anti-China assault " on the campaign trail, scapegoating Beijing for the coronavirus outbreak in the United States instead of acknowledging the Trump administration's central role in the country's failure to prepare itself properly.

While Washington is correct to scrutinize Chinese investments in sensitive technologies and pursue reciprocal trade and economic relations, politically motivated, opportunistic anti-China rhetoric could threaten individual states' cooperation with China, one of the few remaining productive aspects of the bilateral relationship. Indeed, as Hu Xijin, editor of Chinese tabloid Global Times, tweeted , "Beijing is already preparing to take necessary punishment measures against some members of the US Congress, the state of Missouri, and relevant individuals and entities."

China-skeptic sentiment in the U.S. government and on the campaign trail is not a new phenomenon , but the coronavirus pandemic and resultant economic crisis have afforded many politicians the cover to push hawkish policies. Some of their proposals would benefit the United States, including reducing U.S. reliance on Chinese-made pharmaceutical products , a motion broadly backed by both Republicans and Democrats. But many of their arguments are politically motivated and risk further inflaming U.S.-China tensions and painting Beijing as an enemy, à la the Soviet Union during the Cold War, rather than a competitor.

Senator Tom Cotton made waves last month by arguing that U.S. universities should not accept Chinese STEM students given the chance they might return home and use their training to drive China's scientific advances. Senators Josh Hawley and Marco Rubio have also joined the fray, advocating that the United States reduce its reliance on China and punish the country for failing to contain the COVID-19 outbreak. The attorneys general of Missouri and Mississippi have filed lawsuits seeking damages from Beijing for the coronavirus.

Incumbents, however, are not the only ones wagering their political futures on China. Senate candidates in Tennessee , Arizona , and Alabama , among other states, have adopted overtly hawkish stances toward Beijing, blaming China for the pandemic, painting their opponents as soft on the country, and using the China threat to push anti-immigration policies .

Amid Washington's anti-China turn, preserving cooperation at the state level will be critical to maintaining any semblance of productive bilateral ties going forward. As Los Angeles Deputy Mayor of International Affairs Nina Hachigian said at a Brookings panel last year, "cities and states can take advantage of the trade, investment, students, climate change cooperation, culture, and tourism China offers without really having to balance the broader national security, geopolitical, and human rights questions."

It is no coincidence that three of the past four U.S. Ambassadors to Beijing previously served as governors of states with deep links to China: Terry Branstad (Iowa), Gary Locke (Washington), and John Huntsman (Utah).

The aforementioned politicians may be fighting to relocate supply chains outside of mainland China and decouple vast sections of the two countries' economies, but their rhetoric may also lead Beijing to move Chinese-owned businesses out of the United States or cut imports from the country. Despite bilateral tensions, there is clear evidence that Chinese investments in the United States can be beneficial. In the midst of the trade war, a Chinese takeover of a failing paper mill in Maine helped revitalize a local community. In Tennessee, Chinese investments in automotive parts , mattresses , and porcelain manufacturing have benefited the state's economy. There is a real risk that Chinese companies, seeing both politicians' and the American public's growing distaste for China, could simply up and leave.

A more likely outcome of the growing antagonism, however, is for Beijing to engage in economic coercion , which it uses to try to force nations, companies, and officials into doing its bidding and punish those who do not. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has developed a wide-ranging and flexible toolkit of coercive measures that it has used strategically throughout the world.

When South Korea agreed to host the United States' Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system, Beijing did not impose tariffs on Seoul despite its displeasure. China instead restricted flights to South Korea, drummed up nationalist sentiment among the Chinese public to boycott South Korean goods, and even shut down China-based outlets of Lotte Group, the Korean company on whose land THAAD was installed.

China took a similar approach with the Philippines following a 2012 dispute over claims in the South China Sea. In order to cause significant economic pain, Beijing tightened quality controls on agriculture exports from Manila while stemming the flow of Chinese tourists to the Philippines. And most recently, Beijing threatened and then followed through on a boycott of Australian beef after Canberra called for an independent investigation into the origins of the coronavirus.

Beijing coerces not only countries but also private companies for perceived transgressions. Marriott, Delta Airlines, and Zara all faced the prospect of losing business in China after listing Taiwan, Hong Kong, or Tibet as sovereign nations. Last fall, Beijing suspended broadcasts of NBA games after Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted his support for pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong.

If public sentiment across the United States continues to turn against China, Beijing may begin adapting its methods of economic coercion to retaliate against states and politicians it perceives as hostile to its interests.

Indeed, China is clearly paying attention to U.S. domestic politics and state officials' views of China. A think tank in Beijing recently ranked all 50 governors on their attitudes toward China, information the CCP values as it attempts to mold the views of officials outside of Washington. As Dan Blumenthal has noted , Beijing "split[s] Americans into 'friends of China' who might lobby on their behalf and others who refuse to do so [and] will not be granted access to China's massive market."

In recent years, Beijing has provided glimpses of what economic coercion in the United States might look like. During the initial stages of the trade war, China's retaliatory tariffs disproportionally targeted Red states critical to Trump's 2016 election victory. Furthermore, China identified key officials able to influence U.S. policy, such as then-Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and levied tariffs that threatened jobs in and exports from their states in a bid to pressure the politicians to split with Trump.

These actions are possible harbingers of economic pressures to come. Beijing may be tempted to pressure local officials to influence policy from the bottom up. As the aforementioned think tank report explicitly notes , Beijing believes that "State-level officials 'enjoy a certain degree of diplomatic independence,'" and that "Governors can ignore orders from the White House."

Recent downturns in public opinion in both countries, the result of several years of increasing competition, and an emerging view that the other views the pandemic as a strategic opportunity, could even see Beijing move beyond tariffs and drum up anti-U.S. sentiment. It could even encourage citizens to boycott American products, the political and economic effects of which could be devastating.

While the United States imports more from China than it exports, China-bound exports supported around one million U.S. jobs in 2018. According to the U.S.-China Business Council, 42 states counted China among their top five export destinations in 2019. Chinese FDI, which peaked at $46.5 billion in 2016, dropped to just over $3 billion in 2019 -- a decline of over 90 percent. Industries ranging from energy, agriculture, and manufacturing could be negatively affected by an exodus of Chinese investment, a freeze on new Chinese FDI into the United States, or increased tariffs on or bans of imports.

Given the astronomically high unemployment rate and ballooning federal and state debt levels, U.S. states are in no position to lose more investments or export-supporting jobs. Senator McConnell's recent call for states to file bankruptcy highlights their increasingly gloomy economic prospects, and already over 25 percent of state revenues have disappeared due to the coronavirus.

The United States certainly needs to diversify its supply chains so as not to depend so much on China. Washington has already rolled out several measures to better screen Chinese investments in the country and limit sensitive technology exports. The increasingly prevalent and politically expedient one-size-fits-all anti-China position espoused by many state-level politicians, however, could endanger China-state ties, the locus of the two countries' economic relationship, and threaten China-owned U.S.-based companies that pose no national security threats and provide hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Written by
Sam Bresnick
Lucas Tcheyan

[May 13, 2020] The Chinese Mindset in a Hybrid War With the US by Xiaoran Tong

While some observationare valid, the main drawback is that the guy does not understand the term "neoliberalism"
May 13, 2020 | original.antiwar.com
I recently came across a Facebook comment from a Hongkonger, arguing that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is nothing communist given China's prosperous private sector after 1979's reform . He then linked a video to mock the western electoral democracy that put Trump and Hitler into the office, leading to the conclusion that the West has no credential to criticize the one-party system of China for the lack of democracy. His comment represents the contemporary Chinese sentiment and is quite understandable given the ongoing color revolution in Hong Kong 2019 , which is still lukewarm to this day, and the unrelenting blame of COVID19 on China . Although the hybrid war waged on China is unjust, the current Chinese mindset does not help to diffuse but only fuels the conflict even further.

The Facebook comment was right about CPP not being Communist that seeks total control of the economy by the state. Yet, China is state capitalism, an oligarchy, or crony capitalism. China is a plutocracy by the marriage between the party leadership (the state), and the monopolizing mega-corporations (the money) like Huawei, Ali, the four state-owned commercial banks , and Sinopec Group .

It is far from a free-market where the only way to win a competition is to provide excellent products, where the state has no role in deciding the winner and no ability to finance itself by forcing the circulation of central-banknotes. China does have a private sector – the semi-free-market, the good part of our bad plutocracy. Still, even that part is weathering after supreme leader Xi took power, and most Chinese do no realize that we are marching back into a more planned, more communism, more Mao Zedong like system, slowly but surely. In China, life is artificially expensive under the tightening state control that imposes layers upon layers of covert taxation, to the point of causing hesitation to have more children .

However, the west, in general, is fundamentally the same, albeit having a façade electoral democracy where no crucial issues (i.e., war and peace, monetary policy, and downsizing the government) are allowed into a debate.

The real private sector (not the likes of Google and Lockheed Martin) is also dying. The states interfere with the market relentlessly, in the name of safety, welfare, and stimulating the economy, which achieved the opposite (i.e., the 1929 great depression, 2000 dot com bubble, and 2008 housing bubble). The Federal Reserve finances the government spending via debt, encourages malinvestment by atrocious QE packages , which all translate into taxing away people's purchasing power by creating tons of money out of thin air.

We see the same unholy marriage between the state and the money like big techs, big pharma, and, most disgustingly, the Military-Industrial Complex. People are either covertly forced, or duped into funding the nonsense by paying tax, no matter which party they elect.

Therefore, the Chinese are right about the West not in the position of a critic, but for the wrong reason. We either fail to realize or willfully deny that we are living under a harsh plutocracy. Instead, we are distracted by the never losing fake debate about which system elects the better government, since the "one-party system" is most attacked by western pro-democracy voices.

Strangely though, both systems have seemingly good intentions, either emphasizing a person's moral conduct and experience in low-tier office (the Chinese internal nomination), or the people's direct control of the government (the West electoral democracy). Strangely, both unanimously favor the use of "government power" the "right way."

Yet, power always corrupts its user by attracting the money, no matter how well-disciplined, how experienced he/she was. A system that operates on coercive power always finds its way to circumvent any laws and regulations meant to promote meritocracy. Both have tried to fight cronyism rigorously with new agencies and new legislation, but in the end, cronyism always prevails, for both. For the most part of history, the essence of the Chinese system is not much different from the West, since they are all plutocracies that conned the people into helplessly relying on more power to solve problems caused by power until it collapses.

In a 1979 Chinese opera broadcasted nationwide, the protagonist, a low tier official, finds himself risking his political career to enforce the law on the aristocrats who made the law; intoxicated, he yelled in desperation "谁做管官的官," which literally is " Quis custodiet ipsos custodes " in Chinese; in the end, he left his career behind – adding no more to the bloated, self-conflicting bureaucracy, to preserve his integrity. Maybe this was a coincidence, 1979 was the year the Chinese leadership decided to let the government govern less – kudos to them.

The year 1979, and the economic boom that followed, is one of the most common counter-arguments from a Chinese when you criticize the draconian practices of CCP. Admittedly, there are times the state power is not insane. In 1979 Deng Xiaoping at least gave up some government mandate to allow the private sector to grow , resulting in the exploitative system we see today, nonetheless a society much more productive than Mao Zedong's total state dominance. Some state heads refrained from moving the government "muscle" too much, such as Jimmy Carter's resistance to wars and money supply that reduced overspending and inflation since the Vietnam War. In these "less bad, more sensible" eras, it is easier for people's entrepreneurial spirit and creativity to overcome the innate irresponsibility of centralized capital management. As a result, we saw significant progress like the Chinese miracle, and the upswing during the Reagan presidency (even if he turned up wars, debt, and the Fed's money machine again). Sadly, the leaderships are eager to claim credits, creating the impression that it is the right administration resulting in progress and recovery when it is the lack of governing that allows the people to make sensible decisions on their own, achieving faster growth.

If we Chinese and the American attack each other's electoral system, it is like the two worst kids in the class picking on each other over their looks rather than their poor study and bullying of other kids, which only makes them both worse. In the real world, we leave the unhinged growth of government power – the real enemy of all people, Chinese and American alike, unattended.

Like that Hongkonger, most Chinese learned to mock Trump's personal, and naively conclude that the democracy that put him (and Hilter) in the office is a joke. Some more informed Chinese mock the media's clownish, unfair treatment of Trump, and naively conclude that the freedom of the press is a joke. However, a bombastic president, the democracy, and the media are not the problems; neither are the aggressive sino-phobic policies of which Trump pretends to be in charge. The actual problem is the monstrous government, married with big money, capable of waging costly war, funding wasteful programs that drain the middle class to enrich a selected few, no matter who is in the office. It can either be the well-spoken Obama loved by the media, who started seven wars and won the Nobel peace prize, or the bombastic, scandalous New Yorker hated by the press, who nonetheless continued these wars. People coerced into funding this abusive machine themselves are part of, with their hard-earned tax dollars, is the problem. Yet, you do not see the Chinese majority mocking this miserable setup and come to realize that we are under the same situation!

For us, the Chinese, the real issue is not the superficial corruption that the supreme leader XI fiercely fought, nor the insanity, the incompetence, and the betrayal of the oath of some party members. It is our innate reliance on authorities and the love of collective glory, a part of our culture passing down through generations over more than 2400 years, being the problem. We can never break the dynastic cycle if we do not see the path to the self-destruction of unhinged state power, such as Mao's era . If we are still yearning for a "just leader" to solve issues like retirement, education, and medication, still admiring exhaustive achievements such as the Belt and Road, the South China Sea, and Taiwan, we then have learned nothing from the downfall of thirteen dynasties and countless hegemonies throughout the history of China. The collective conscious of the Chinese have so far failed to realize the force driving the rise and fall of a dynasty is not the moral and intellect of the leaders, but the people's economic freedom relatively untouched or infringed at times, by a mixture of chance, sanity, and imperialism vainglory. The blind reliance on leaders and the love of collective grandiosity is only compounded when the Americans fail to take back their power from the government, who is warring with China and covertly overtaxing them. The collective enlightenment of the Chinese population is nearly impossible, since the tyrants in Beijing have no shortage of strawman to throw at the people and say "that is the problem, blame the belligerent Trump and the jealous Americans", and the Communist Dynasty will always enjoy the " mandate of heaven ".

Even with a sheep's mindset, the Chinese economy will overtake the US, despite the slow death of its most productive private sector. The sheer momentum of the slight right turn to liberty 40 years ago is good enough for China, since the Americans do not restore their free-market and liberty that had made them an exceptionally productive civilization for a long time. But then what? We Chinese are just molecules burnt to fuel the blinding flash of a new empire not far from its fourteenth dynastic downfall, just like the Achaemenids, the Romans, the Umayyads, the Ottomans, Napoleon's France, the British, and the Americans before us.

Xiaoran Tong has a Ph.D. in Epidemiology from the Michigan State University (MSU). He is originally from Kunming, Yunan, China and arrived in the US in 2014 to pursue his Ph.D. at MSU. He is Interested in the history of America and its similarities with ancient and contemporary China.

[May 12, 2020] A Tsunami Of Anger Chinese Officials Call For Renegotiation Of Phase One Trade Deal

May 11, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com
Amid the ongoing diplomatic spat between Washington DC and Beijing, which now also includes the deployment of B-1B bombers and warships in the South China Sea , late on Monday (local time) China's Global Times reported , citing sources close to the Chinese government, that some "hawkish" officials in China are calling for a renegotiation the the "phase one" trade deal with Washington as well as a "tit-for-tat approach on spiraling trade issues after US' malicious attacks on China ignited a tsunami of anger among Chinese trade insiders."

The calls to renegotiate the current version of the deal - which has yet to be actively implemented - emerge amid dissatisfaction because "China has made compromise for the deal to press ahead."

While in the past, these same trade negotiators "believed that it would be worthwhile to make certain compromise to reach a partial truce in the 22-month trade war and ease escalating tensions", given what the Global Times called "President Donald Trump's hyping an anti-China conspiracy that aims to cover up his mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic", advisors close to the trade talks have suggested Chinese officials rekindling the possibility of invalidating the trade pact and negotiating a new one to tilt the scales more to the Chinese side, sources close the matter told the Global Times.

A former Chinese trade official told the Global Times on condition of anonymity on Monday that China could complete such procedures based on force majeure provisions in the pact.

"It's in fact in China's interests to terminate the current phase one deal. It is beneficial to us. The US now cannot afford to restart the trade war with China if everything goes back to the starting point," another trade advisor to the Chinese government told the Global Times, pointing to the staggering US economy and the coming of the US presidential election this year.

"After signing the phase one deal, the US intensifies crackdown in other areas such as technology, politics and the military against China. So if we don't retreat on trade issues, the US could be trapped," the former official noted.

Some could disagree, and counter that Trump can certainly restart the trade war especially since it suits his pre-election agenda - after all, now that the fate of the market is entirely in the hands of the Fed which has gone full MMT, Trump is no longer afraid by the market's response to a renewed trade war. In fact, with over 60% of the US population seeking to distance US from China, it would appear that Trump's best bet to winning independent votes is precisely to keep hammering China.

Confirming this, Trump said on Friday that he was "very torn" about whether to end the China-US phase one deal, Fox News reported, with some observers interpreting his words as equating to a threat from the US to re-launch a trade war against China.

Then again, over the weekend, the SCMP reported that US source familiar with recent discussions stated US officials acknowledged China was largely delivering its pledges on structural issues such as opening market access and improving IP protection but they have yet to agree in some details including IP action plan and easing equity caps for foreign investors. Furthermore, the source stated fallout from the virus meant agreement on purchasing US goods has become much more important and that many believe China needs to increase pace on purchases.

Meanwhile, Gao Lingyun, an expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences who advises the government on trade issues, told the Global Times on Monday that China has "well documented" Washington's usual threats after previous rounds of confrontation. That means if the trade war restarts, "China knows how to respond, and it is able to retaliate quickly and inflict serious harm on the US economy," Gao said.

Still, as the Global Times concludes, analysts noted that terminating the phase one trade deal would be China's "last option" and one that China would only resort to under extremely hostile conditions.

[May 11, 2020] Note on US-China decoupling: it will be tough because the train had left the station and Chinese acted first

Notable quotes:
"... What does a developing country like China, still mired in socio-economic inequality, technological dependence, political corruption and environmental degradation do? Concentrate on its own hinterland while bidding its time? Confront the hegemon head-on which would lead to military conflict? Or control its responses while cultivating partnerships with ALL peace-loving countries, whether rich or poor, First World or Third World, Western or non-Western? ..."
May 08, 2020 | www.unz.com
antibeast , says: Show Comment May 9, 2020 at 5:46 pm GMT
Unlike Escobar, Roberts, et al, I am much more sanguine about the prospects of China's rise which has threatened the indispensable nation of Yankistan because China was not supposed to rise above its assigned role as the cheap cog of the globalist economy serving the Capitalist Oligarchy of the NWO. By dint of hard work, sly cunning and shrew tactics, China outgrew its role by becoming the hub of the international economy via its New Silk Road and the BRI.

What does a developing country like China, still mired in socio-economic inequality, technological dependence, political corruption and environmental degradation do? Concentrate on its own hinterland while bidding its time? Confront the hegemon head-on which would lead to military conflict? Or control its responses while cultivating partnerships with ALL peace-loving countries, whether rich or poor, First World or Third World, Western or non-Western?

The rapid decoupling of China's economy away from the USA started with the GFC 2008 but has since accelerated with Obama's "Pivot to Asia" and Trump's trade war with China. Exports to the USA account for less than 3% of China's GDP today with 60% of those exports being either US or foreign goods manufactured in China. So the real figure is 1% of China's GDP consists of Chinese goods exported to the US market, consisting mostly of industrial commodities or consumer products.

As China has already charted its own independent path of building trading/investment partnerships with Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America, the USA has become threatened by China's successful decoupling from its export dependence on the US market as proven by its hostile reaction to Xi's BRI and China's New Silk Road. In addition, the US was caught off-guard by the sudden rise of Chinese tech firms such as Huawei which is the world's number one vendor of telecommunications equipment with undisputed world leadership in 5G technology.

Shocked to find its manhood as no longer exceptional, Uncle Sam feels the need to show off to the world: "Me Gringo! Big Dick!"

[May 10, 2020] Watch Is China Merely a Competitor of the U.S., or an Adversary or Even an Enemy

May 10, 2020 | theintercept.com

China has become, over the past two decades, the planet’s second-most powerful nation after the United States. Booming economic growth has lifted millions of its citizens out of poverty and catapulted it to the world’s second-largest economy, while increased military spending has made it the second-largest military power (though its military spending, and nuclear stockpile, are still a small fraction of the U.S.’s).

That growth — in both economic and military power — has led U.S. officials to conclude that they must do more to counteract what they regard as China’s growing influence. President Obama, early in his administration, memorably vowed an “Asia pivot,” whereby the U.S. would devote fewer resources and less attention to the Middle East and more toward China’s growing power in its own region.

That led to some moderate escalation in adversarial relations between the two countries — including the Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement (TPP) and other regional skirmishes — but nothing approaching direct military confrontation. President Trump, since taking office, has largely heaped praise on the Chinese government and its leader President Xi Jinping, siding with Xi over democracy protests in Hong Kong and even Beijing’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak.

But this pandemic has seriously escalated tensions between the two countries given the increasingly hostile rhetoric emanating from various sectors of the west, making it more urgent than ever to grapple with the complex relations between the two countries and how China ought to be perceived.

The question is far more complex than the usual efforts to create a new U.S. Enemy because numerous power centres in the U.S. and the west generally — particularly its oligarchs, Wall Street, and international capital — are not remotely hostile to Beijing but, quite the contrary, are both fond of it and dependent upon it. That’s why — unlike with other U.S. enemies such as Saddam Hussein, Fidel Castro, the Iranian government or Nicolas Maduro — one finds very powerful actors, from Bill Gates to Michael Bloomberg to the consulting giant McKinsey to Trump himself, defending Chinese officials and urging better relations with them.

That, in turn, reflects a critical reality about U.S./China relations that defies standard foreign policy frameworks: while hawkish, pro-war political elements in both parties speak of China as an adversary that must be confronted or even punished, the interests of powerful western financial actors — the Davos crowd — are inextricably linked with China, using Chinese markets and abusive Chinese labor practices to maximize their profit margins and, in the process, stripping away labor protections, liveable wages and jobs from industrial towns in the U.S. and throughout the west.

That is why standard left-wing anti-imperialism or right-wing isolationism is an insufficient and overly simplified response to thinking about China: policy choices regarding Beijing have immense impact on workers and the economic well-being of citizens throughout the west.

Today’s new episode of SYSTEM UPDATE is devoted to sorting through the complexities of this relationship and how to think about China. I’m joined by two guests with radically different views on these questions: the long-time Singeporean diplomat who served as President of the U.N. Security Council, Kishore Mahbubani, whose just-released compelling book “Has China Won?” argues that the U.S. should view China as a friendly competitor and not as a threat to its interests; and Matt Stoller, who has worked on issues of economic authoritarianism and the U.S. working class in multiple positions in Congress and in various think tanks, culminating in his 2019 book “Goliath,” and who argues that China is a threat to the economic well-being of the U.S. working class and to civil liberties in the west.

The show, which I believe provides excellent insight into how to think about these questions, debuts this afternoon at 2:oo pm ET on the Intercept’s YouTube channel or can be viewed on the player below at 2:30 p.m. As always, a transcript of the program will be added shortly thereafter.

Update: May 7, 1:54 p.m. EDT

The debut time for this episode has been moved by 30 minutes; it will not debut on the Intercept’s YouTube channel at 2:30 pm ET.

[May 10, 2020] Trump and decoupling from China

Highly recommended!
May 10, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org
I have been watching China's gradual rise in the world's GDP– as well as GDP-per-capita– charts and a concomitant fall in the United States' position in these charts, for nearly 20 years now. The United States' decline is still relative rather than absolute. In absolute terms, its GDP is still "Number 1!" But the decline was accelerated from 2003 on, when successive US presidents decided to pour massive amounts of government revenues into large-scale and always disastrous military adventures all around the world. As of last November, Brown University's "Costs of War" project tallied the U.S. budgetary costs of these wars, FY2001-2020, to be $6.4 trillion. These were funds that could have been invested, instead, in repair and upgrading of vital infrastructure here at home– including vital health infrastructure. But no. Instead, the money was shoveled into the pockets of the large military contractors who then used a portion of it on expensive lobbying operations designed to ensure that the sow of military spending continued feeding her offspring (them.)

When Donald Trump became president, in 2017, one of his early instincts was to pull back from the foreign wars. (This was about his only sound instinct.) The military-industrial complex then proved able to slow-walk a lot of the military-retraction moves he wanted to make One of the other abiding themes of Trump's presidency has been his desire to "decouple" the U.S. economy from the tight integration it had developed at many levels with the economy of China, as part of broader push to halt or slow the rise of China's power in the global system. At the economic level, we have seen the "tariff wars" and the campaign against Huawei. At the military level, we have seen a slight escalation in the kinds of "demonstration operations" the U.S. Navy has been mounting in the South China Sea. Mobilizing against "Chinese influence" also seems to come naturally to a president who shows no hesitation in denigrating anyone– even US citizens and politicians– who happens not to be of pale-complected European-style hue.

With the eruption of Covid-19 in U.S. communities nationwide, Pres. Trump's pre-existing proclivity to demonize and denigrate anything Chinese has escalated considerably– spurred on, it seems, by his evident desire to find an external scapegoat to blame for the terrible situation Covid-19 has inflicted on Americans and to detract voters' attention from the grave responsibility he and his administration bear for their plight.

He and his economic advisors clearly realize that, with the supply chains of major US industries still inextricably tied up with companies located in China and with China still holding $1.1 trillion-worth of U.S. government debt, he can't just cut the cord and decouple from China overnight. Yesterday, his Treasury Secretary and the US Trade Representative held a phone call with China's Vice Premier Liu He, the intent of which was to reassure both sides that a trade deal concluded four months ago would still be adhered to.

But today, less than 12 hours after the reassuring joint statement released after the phone call, Trump told Fox News that he was "very torn" about the trade deal, and had "not decided" whether to maintain it. This, as he launches frequent verbal tirades against China for having "caused" the coronavirus crisis. US GDP is highly inflated by counting financial moves on Wall Street (extracting money from suckers and moving money from one hand to another) as productive activity. China's purchasing power parity already exceeds the US and I suspect its actual GDP does as well. Only US financialization is able to mask the lack of actual productivity in the US economy.

likbez , May 9 2020 17:12 utc | 10

I am somewhat skeptical about China chances in this race. That will be much tougher environment for China from now on. And other major technological powers such as Germany, Korea and Japan are still allied with the USA.

The major problem for China is two social systems in one box: state capitalism part controlled by completely corrupt Communist Party (which completely abandoned the communist doctrine and became essentially a religious cult ) + no less corrupt neoliberalism part created with the help of the West.

The level of corruption inherent in the current setup (first adopted in Soviet NEP -- New Economic Policy) is tremendous, as the party has absolute political power and controls the major economic and financial areas while the entrepreneurs try to bribe state officials to get the leverage and/or enrich themselves at the state expense or bypass the bureaucratic limitations/inefficiencies imposed by the state, or offload some costs. So mafia style relationship between party officials and entrepreneurs is not an aberration, it is a norm. And periodic "purges" of corrupt Party officials do not solve the problem. Ecological problems in China are just one side effect of this.

The fact that a Chinese scientist from a biolab got 12 years jail sentence is pretty telling. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-00051-2

Add to this the certain pre-existing tendencies within Chinese society to put greed above everything else, the tendency clearly visible in some emigrants and to which Yen devoted one post recently. Riots in some Asians countries against Chinese diaspora are often at least partially caused by this diaspora behavior, not only by xenophobia. Note that several African countries with Chinese investments now intent to sue China for damages from COVID-19. This is not accidental.

Technologically the USA and its G7 satellites are still in the lead although outsourcing manufacturing to China helped Chinese tremendously to narrow the gap. For example, Intel CPUs still dominate both desktops and servers. All major operating systems (with the exception of some flavors of Linux) are all USA developed.

I do not see the possibility for China to quickly narrow this gap as the technology transfer might now be controlled in the same way it the USA controlled the trade with the USSR via COCOM ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coordinating_Committee_for_Multilateral_Export_Controls )

Looks how easily the USA managed to kick Huawei in the butt and essentially deprive it of the major market.

vk , May 9 2020 17:48 utc | 12
@ Posted by: likbez | May 9 2020 17:12 utc | 10

You rise important points, but I respectfully disagree with all of them.

1) I don't think China is a "State capitalism" country. The term "State capitalism" was first coined by Lenin for a very specific situation the USSR was in. Yes, the similarities are striking - and Deng Xiaoping's reforms were clearly inspired by Lenin's NEP - but it is important to state that the CCP actively avoided the term and built upon the concept both theoretically and in practice. Besides, we don't need to read Lenin's works critically, an not take him as the second coming of Jesus: when he used the term "State capitalism", he used it in a clearly desperate moment of the USSR, almost by improvisation. Lenin's last years were definitely desperate times.

Besides, the NEP didn't culminate with the capitalist restoration of the USSR. On the contrary: it collapsed in 1926 (after another bad harvest) and gave way to the rise of Stalin and the radical faction of the CPSU. The Five-year plans were born (1928), and agriculture would be fully collectivized by the end of the 1930s (a process which catapulted Molotov to the second most powerful man in the USSR during the period). By the end of WWII, the USSR had a fully collectivized economy.

2) The corruption hypothesis is an attractive one - specially for the liberal middle classes of the post-war and for the Trotskyists - but it doesn't stand the empirical test. The USA was an extremely corrupt nation from its foundation to pre-war, and it never stopped it from growing and reaching prosperity. The Roman Empire and Republic were so corrupt that it was considered normal. There's no evidence the PRC is historically exceptionally corrupt. However, I can see why the CCP is worried about corruption, as it is a flank through which the West can sabotage it from within.

3) The COCOM tactic will be much harder to apply against China than against the USSR. For starters, the USSR lost circa 35% of its GDP in WWII. This gave it a delay from which it never recovered. Second, the USSR fought against capitalism when capitalism was at its apex. Third, the USSR collectivized and closed its economy too early, not taking into account that it still lived in a capitalist world.

China doesn't have that now. It is fighting against capitalism in a phase where it is weakened. It is open and intimately integrated economically with its capitalist enemies. It closed or is about to close the technological gap in many strategic sectors during a stage where the capitalists have low retaliation capacity. It found time to close at least the GDP gap. It found time to recover fully from its civil war and the Japanese Invasion of the Northeast.

Germany, South Korea and Japan are not technologically more advanced than the USA. This is a myth. Plus, they are too small. They may serve as very useful - even essential - pawns for the USA-side, but I don't see any of the three ever achieving Pax .

[May 09, 2020] Huawei's HiSilicon becomes first mainland Chinese chip company to enter top 10 in global sales, says IC Insights South China

Notable quotes:
"... Over 90 per cent of Huawei phones in China now use HiSilicon processors, according to CINNO ..."
May 09, 2020 | www.scmp.com

HiSilicon , Huawei Technologies ' in-house semiconductor and integrated circuit design company, has surpassed US chip giant Qualcomm in terms of smartphone processor shipments in China for the first time amid coronavirus-linked disruptions that have hit most major players, according to a report.

In the first quarter of 2020, HiSilicon shipped 22.21 million smartphone processors, according to Chinese research firm CINNO's latest monthly report on China's semiconductor industry. Although HiSilicon's shipments only increased slightly from the 22.17 million units it shipped in the first quarter of last year, it was the only major company that did not see a year-on-year decline in the quarter, CINNO said in a summary of the report posted on its official WeChat account.

As a result, the Huawei subsidiary's market share surged to 43.9 per cent, from 36.5 per cent during the same period last year, and beat Qualcomm for the first time to become China's top smartphone processor supplier. HiSilicon's steady performance comes at a time when the Chinese smartphone industry is being battered by delayed product launches and dampened consumer sentiment linked to the coronavirus pandemic. Smartphone shipments in the country slumped by 34.7 per cent – more than a third – to 47.7 million units in the first quarter of 2020, according to a report released earlier this month by the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology.

CINNO's report showed that there was a similar plunge in processor shipments, with overall smartphone processor shipments in the country dropping by 44.5 per cent in the first three months of 2020, compared to the same period last year. Huawei makes end-run around US trade ban by turning to its own chips 2 Mar 2020

US-based Qualcomm, the long-time market leader, fell to second place in the latest quarter with a year-on-year decline in its market share from 37.8 per cent to 32.8 per cent. Taiwan's Mediatek maintained its third-place position, but also saw its market share slide year-on-year from 14 per cent to 13.1 percent

. Table showing the market share of smartphone processor supplies according to CINNO Research. Source: CINNO Research / WeChat

Table showing the market share of smartphone processor supplies according to CINNO Research. Source: CINNO Research / WeChat

Huawei, HiSilicon's parent company, is at the centre of a high-profile US-China tech war. The Trump administration added the company to its Entity List last year, citing the risk that Huawei could give Beijing access to sensitive data from telecommunications networks. The trade blacklist effectively bars Huawei from buying US products and services. In response, the Chinese company, which has denied the allegations, is ramping up its own capabilities to produce more American component-free network gear, including through HiSilicon.

Huawei is also reportedly shifting production of HiSilicon-designed chips away from Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) and towards Shanghai-based Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp (SMIC) as Washington readies new rules which would require foreign companies using US chipmaking equipment to obtain a license before supplying chips to Huawei – a move that would directly affect TSMC.

Over 90 per cent of Huawei phones in China now use HiSilicon processors, according to CINNO. However, Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei said in an interview with Yahoo Finance last year that the company would continue using chips from US vendors such as Intel and Qualcomm as long as it is still allowed by US regulators.

[May 08, 2020] Post-pandemic animosity by US - Global Times

May 08, 2020 | www.globaltimes.cn

In the face of the upcoming presidential elections, Republicans launched a new China Task Force committee in US Congress on Thursday to attract attention despite its futile efforts to pass the buck amid the pandemic. But this not-so-surprising move only shows how hysterical and desperate Republicans have become as criticism of the government's mishandling of the domestic coronavirus outbreak increases, experts said.

Following a series of anti-China moves the Trump administration has made when its epidemic prevention spiraled out of control with more than 1.2 million infections - the world's largest number - to date, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy announced on Thursday a proposal to set up a new "China Task Force" which will develop legislative policies to curtail Chinese influence. The committee currently consists of 15 Republicans with no Democrats joining.

McCarthy said the pandemic made it apparent "for a national strategy to deal with China." The task force will hold meetings and briefings on China-related issues, which include China's influence inside the US, presence on American campuses and control over important supply chains, the Washington Post reported.

A search for the members in the China Task Force revealed their antagonism toward China. One of them is Rep. Elise Stefanik, who in late April asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the attorney general to bring China to the International Court of Justice for the handling of COVID-19, according to a report by The Adirondack Daily Enterprise.

Analysts said setting up the new China committee is the Republicans' new tactic to fuel anti-China sentiment, but this won't help stop power from shifting from the West to East, which was happening before the pandemic. The pandemic is very likely to speed up this process.

Democrats not joining the committee does not mean they are more China-friendly, but they don't want Republicans to shift the focus of President Donald Trump's failure to handle the pandemic. Since last year, both parties passed several bills regarding China's Xinjiang and Hong Kong, interfering in China's internal affairs, Diao Daming, an associate professor at the Renmin University of China in Beijing, told the Global Times on Friday.

Diao noted the Democrats in the Congress won't endorse the legislation but will support other anti-China measures that the new committee aims to push forward.

"The pandemic will very likely further weaken the US and strengthen China," he said.

A man covering his face walks in Manhattan, New York on April 6 amid the serious outbreak of COVID-19 in the US. Photo: AFP

Treating China as equals

In the past months, certain American politicians, including Pompeo, kept passing the buck, making groundless accusations that China was responsible for the outbreak, and hyped conspiracy theories by calling it the "China virus" to claim the virus originated from a Wuhan lab. At Friday's media briefing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying joked that the press conference was almost all about refuting Pompeo's lies.

The extreme atmosphere has made many people in the US worry for a return of the McCarthy era, where free speech in the country was curtailed. A former US Ambassador to China pointed out in a CNN interview the US is now similar to Germany in the 1930s.

Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations of the China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times on Friday the task force will fuel the existing unfriendly atmosphere toward China at the local level in the country.

Trump administration's China policy focuses on conflicts, and the task force could further aggravate tensions, he said.

Former US Ambassador to China Max Baucus said in an interview with CNN that "The [Trump] administration's rhetoric is so strong against China. It's over the top. We're entering a kind of an era which is similar to Joe McCarthy back when he was red-baiting the State Department, attacking communism."

"A little bit like Hitler in the 30s. A lot of people knew what was going on was wrong. They knew it was wrong, but they didn't stand up and say anything about it. They felt intimidated," he said.

Analysts warned that China needs to stay alert as the US is trying to create a new McCarthy era of international repression on China.

But, on the other hand, we should be aware that most countries won't follow the US, Li said.

"It's difficult for the US to mobilize the world against China. People know how selfish and self-centered the US is. So only a few of its allies will join," he told the Global Times.

The US interception of other countries' anti-virus medical supplies and pointing a finger at the WHO when international cooperation is urgently needed occupied world headlines.

Meanwhile, the Chinese government had provided over 150 countries and international organizations with supplies, hosted over 120 video conferences with health experts from more than 160 members of the international community, and dispatched 19 medical groups to 17 countries, according to the Zhang Ming, Chinese Ambassador to the European Union, at a Coronavirus Global Response pledging event on Monday.

Li told the Global Times that most countries, including its traditional allies, such as Germany and France, have different demands from the US. So they won't join this wave.

As early as February 1, the European Union had dispatched tons of medical supplies to assist China. And in March when the continent was hit hard, China immediately provided more than 2 million protective masks and sent medical groups. Positive reactions were constantly heard in Europe on China.

Meanwhile, it has been reported that China faces a rising wave of hostility led by the US amid the pandemic. The discrimination against Chinese people is growing in some parts of the world.

Li said "The rising hostility shows some Western countries are not accustomed to a rising China. It's a challenge for them to learn to see China on an equal footing, which adds to their anxiety."

He added that they need to learn to respect differences and deal with other countries equally.

Analysts noted that China should step up efforts to enhance its own capabilities in high-tech, military and other fields. It should also conduct far-reaching international cooperation and uphold multilateralism to share its benefits with other countries, rather than being distracted by the anti-China wave.

Cooperation amid competition

The task force on China is not the first one in the West. On April 24, several UK Conservative MPs launched a "China Research Group" to promote "factual debate" in dealing with the "rapidly changing nature of the relationship" between China and the UK. The group would attempt to look "beyond" the coronavirus pandemic to "examine China's long-term economic and diplomatic aims," BBC reported.

Kevin Hollinrake, an MP and a member of the group, told the Global Times that the group will make some inquiries on specific policy areas. The group will look at, for example, how the Chinese political system and business work.

It will look at certain work streams and develop fact-based reports based on those work streams. "They may be reported back to parliament or published in the public domain," Hollinrake said.

Although the group was set up at a time when the virus was rampant in the UK, "the pandemic itself is not the underlying issue," Hollinrake noted.

The China Research Group is likely to "lobby for a less cooperative approach to China, and for the UK to align more with the US on China policy," Tim Summers, senior consulting fellow on the Asia-Pacific program at Chatham House, told the Global Times.

However, Chris Wood, the British Consul General in Shanghai, told the Global Times that "We will see continued discussions and collaboration. There is no global challenge that can be solved without China's participation. We recognize that we very much want to work with China on these big global issues, and that will continue."

In the post-coronavirus era, China and Europe might continue to seek cooperation amid competition, analysts said, pointing out that Europe's anxieties are, to a large extent, provoked by the US.

In the early stages of the pandemic, despite old disputes, cooperation was the mainstream in China-Europe interactions. But things have changed since the US became the new epicenter, Sun Keqin, a research fellow at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, told the Global Times.

Sun told the Global Times that to reduce the negative influence from the US on European countries, China needs to make efforts to let its voice heard in international public opinion and seek cooperation opportunities. What the US is advocating is nothing but rumors and conspiracy, and China must smash these lies with sound and reasonable evidence and awaken European countries, Sun said.

[May 07, 2020] So, is it correct that the DNC had some kind of Obama-era "chi-merica" project to further their globalist, neolib project -- as it became obvious that the US was never going to be able to pull off the unipolar Empire -- into the new century with a sort of US/China alliance, with a substantial US aligned fifth-column (if that's the right phrase) working in China to further the project?

May 07, 2020 | smoothiex12.blogspot.com

Casey19 hours ago So, is it correct that the DNC had some kind of Obama-era "chi-merica" project to further their globalist, neolib project -- as it became obvious that the US was never going to be able to pull off the unipolar Empire -- into the new century with a sort of US/China alliance, with a substantial US aligned fifth-column (if that's the right phrase) working in China to further the project? Then Trump came in a screwed that all up, trying to pretend to be friendly to Russia, which the DNC promptly scuttled. And now the net result is Russia and China growing relations, which is a very real nightmare for the US, the absolute worst possible outcome for the globalists? Probably I have this all ass-backwards. Also, really, how long would it take to relocate important industries to the US? Wouldn't that need to be a multi-generational project because you can;t turn baristas into machinists over night? Also, what prevents the US from taking over Venezuela right now, militarily, instead of those apparently poorly organized attempts to infiltrate with mercenaries, as was recently revealed?

[May 06, 2020] Whom Bitcoin brings together

May 06, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Deltaeus , May 6 2020 9:29 utc | 63

@karlof1 | May 5 2020 21:05 utc | 18

There was an amusing quote from somewhere, something like:

Bitcoin brings together
everything people don't understand about money with
everything people don't understand about technology.

[May 05, 2020] I don't think the bankster parasites will sit on their hands and let the Trump idiots blow up their entire system. I think there would be a palace coup d'etat first.

May 05, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Trailer Trash , May 4 2020 20:55 utc | 33

If Uncle Sam defaults on his debts, that would be the biggest own goal ever. The whole financial system is based on US Treasury bonds, and a default would send their value to zero. The US Social Security Trust Fund is still worth almost three trillion dollars, most of it in US Treasury bonds. Default means Goodbye Social Security Pensions, or at least a huge "haircut".

I think Pompous Ass is bluffing. One reason is that Wall Street parasites have been salivating over the Social Security trust fund for decades, and GW Bush was working on a plan to give it to them. I don't think the bankster parasites will sit on their hands and let the Trump idiots blow up their entire system. I think there would be a palace coup d'etat first.

[May 04, 2020] The essence of a financial parasite is not only to drain the host's nourishment, but to dull the host's brain so that it does not recognize that the parasite is there by Michael Hudson

The problem here is that there is no countervailing force. Marxist idea that proletariat is such a force proved to be yet another utopia.
Notable quotes:
"... istory's main engine of economic exploitation – the banking, creditor and financial systems' ever-increasing extraction of value through interest payments. The rentier class and FIRE sector – Finance, Insurance and Real Estate – have long succeeded in depicting themselves as part of a productive economy. Yet for centuries, these sectors were recognized as being parasitic. ..."
"... The essence of a parasite is not only to drain the host's nourishment, but to dull the host's brain so that it does not recognize that the parasite is there. ..."
May 04, 2020 | www.unz.com

Jim Vrettos : Welcome once again to the Radical Imagination. I'm your host, Jim Vrettos. I'm a sociologist whose taught at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and Yeshiva University here in New York.

Our guest today on the Radical Imagination is Michael Hudson. He was on our March 8th show. We had such an overwhelmingly positive response to that show that we've asked him to return today, and he's been gracious enough to accept.

Unlike most economists, he's been a fierce champion and advocate for the economic rights of the poor, workers, disenfranchised and the vulnerable around the world through his scholarship and lifelong activism. His unique economic analysis has explored h istory's main engine of economic exploitation – the banking, creditor and financial systems' ever-increasing extraction of value through interest payments. The rentier class and FIRE sector – Finance, Insurance and Real Estate – have long succeeded in depicting themselves as part of a productive economy. Yet for centuries, these sectors were recognized as being parasitic.

Now with the United States losing some 10 million jobs in just the past two weeks and the world awash in debt, the total world gross domestic product is $90 trillion. The public and private debt is a mind-boggling $260 trillion. The pandemic has given this parasitic sector yet another, even more vicious opportunity to exploit and devour humanity.

As our guest puts it, the recently passed Trump "Bank and Landlord Relief" bill, mistakenly named the Coronavirus bill, starts by providing banks with an even larger giveaway of wealth than they received from Obama in 2008. Helping the banks, financial and real estate sectors in a so-called free market system is conflated with helping the industrial economy and general living standards for most Americans. The essence of a parasite is not only to drain the host's nourishment, but to dull the host's brain so that it does not recognize that the parasite is there.

[May 04, 2020] 'Turbocharging' exodus: US beats trade war drums to remove supply chains out of China

May 04, 2020 | www.rt.com

The US wants to сut industrial and supply dependence on China amid rising tensions between the two powers. However, not everyone is eager to pack their bags and leave the lucrative Chinese market in the midst of the previous row. The Trump administration has long been pushing American firms to get back to US soil, especially when trade tensions were flaring between the two biggest global economies. Now the US has revived the trade war rhetoric again. Read more Asian markets plunge amid escalating US-China tensions

"We've been working on [reducing the reliance of our supply chains in China] over the last few years but we are now turbo-charging that initiative," Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment at the US State Department Keith Krach told Reuters.

Krach as well as other officials told the agency that some critical and essential manufacturing should be moved from the country, and the government may take steps on it soon. Apart from the US' seemingly favorite options of tariffs and sanctions, the plans may include tax incentives and potential reshoring subsidies as well as closer relations with Taiwan – a move which has always angered Beijing.

Washington is also mulling the creation of what one of the officials called 'Economic Prosperity Network' which would include companies and groups from some "trusted partners." The network is set to share the same standards "on everything from digital business, energy and infrastructure to research, trade, education and commerce."

China's vital role in global supply chains was felt sharply amid the coronavirus pandemic as many international giants – from tech to car industries – are reliant on the country. The pandemic has forced some US companies to seriously consider at least partial relocation and changing supply chain strategy, according to one of the latest polls conducted by the American Chamber of Commerce in China and its sister organization in Shanghai. However, the majority of firms said that the outbreak does push them to turn their backs on China.

Nevertheless, one of the "China hawks" told Reuters that the virus created "a perfect storm" as it "crystallised all the worries that people have had about doing business with China" and the damages from Covid-19 have eclipsed possible profits.

Also on rt.com 'No mass exodus': Most US firms don't want to wind down operations in China over pandemic

When the trade war showed no signs of abating last year and the US and China were still hitting each other with tariffs, another AmCham poll showed that the punitive measures were hurting US businesses operating in China. While over forty percent of the 250 respondents were "considering or have relocated" production facilities outside China, some 35 percent of companies said they would rather source within China and target the domestic market. Fewer than six percent wanted to move or already shifted their factory operations to the US.

Set aside the enormous relocation costs – which the White House has recently pledged to cover should an American company decide to ditch China – there is still another massive hurdle in this plan. China is still the world's top producer of rare earth metals – the group of elements vital for production of multiple devices, from cell phones to some advanced military gear. Should all the production be moved from China, it could ban exports of these materials. Last year Chinese media said the option was already being mulled by Beijing, and it could consider the drastic measure again if trade war tensions further escalate.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

[May 02, 2020] The USA makes an expected move in trade war with china: complites access of china companies to US produced chips

May 02, 2020 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

et Al April 28, 2020 at 2:17 am

Euractiv mit Neuters: US imposes new rules on exports to China to keep them from its military
https://www.euractiv.com/section/defence-and-security/news/us-imposes-new-rules-on-exports-to-china-to-keep-them-from-its-military/

The new rules will require licenses for US companies to sell certain items to companies in China that support the military, even if the products are for civilian use. They also do away with a civilian exception that allows certain US technology to be exported without a license.

They come as relations between the United States and China have deteriorated amid the new coronavirus outbreak
####

It's far too late and will be significantly damaging to US companies. No doubt Washington still expects Beijing to buy Boeing airliners. If Beijing were to pull that plug, then it would take out Arbus, P&W, GE, CFM all the suppliers, MRO ventures and collapse the whole western airline supply chain. It would obviously kill any Chinese or Russian airline program that has any western content . I doubt Beijing will go that far so they'll be looking at actions, not words.

t-Rump and co need to show something sym-bollox to the American electorate that yet again they are being 'tough on China' during this erection year but it requires China to play along. It simply might not. It is reported that China is currently purchasing large quantities of American LNG to fulfill 'Phase one' of t-Rump's Deal of the Century with China.

Maybe that is the obvious counter, threatening to pull the whole DoC, starting with dumping LNG purchases as a direct warning. t-Rump's Administration has pushed itself into a smaller and smaller box, all of its own making. As I've always said and I still believe to be true, the biggest threat to t-Rump's re-erection is t-Rump himself.

Like Like

Mark Chapman April 28, 2020 at 9:22 am
Paradoxically, the more Trump's belligerence and 'gut-based' trade policies damage international trade, the more convinced his supporters become that only Trump can handle increasingly-complicated trade relationships. This probably stems from his going into a meeting under difficult conditions, emerging to fire off a miracle tweet, "China will now buy massive quantities of our agricultural products", and ducking out the back without elaboration. This leads to a misplaced belief that Trump can perform miracles, as much of a jerk as he can be, because his loyalists rarely pay attention long enough for the rebuttal which always comes, laying out his serial exaggerations. Remember when U.S. Steel was building three new steel plants, on the strength of Trump's hard-ass negotiations in the Canada-Mexico-USA Free Trade deal? Lighthizer's hard-ass negotiations, actually. Anyway, yeah; totally made it up. He doesn't see anything wrong with making optimistic projections which have no basis in fact.

Mind you, it would be a bit of a downer to have to explain again to Biden what 'oil' is, every single time the subject comes up. But I wouldn't be too worried about that.

LNG is pretty cheap right now, like all energy products. I see China behaving much like Russia; once it strikes an international bargain, it will stick to it until the terms play out. But Trump might find a different China when he tries to strike the next agreement.

Like Like

et Al April 29, 2020 at 3:43 am
China can also take similar measures, sic (I read that) Alibaba and other gigantic Chinese companies that rely on server farms are switching over to Chinese made chippery and not buying foreign. Simply in lost sales for the foreseeable future is gigantic.

Like Like

Mark Chapman April 29, 2020 at 9:54 am
I imagine you are too young to remember Victor Kiam (he died in 2001) former president of the Remington Razor Company. He had a popular line of commercials in the late 80's in which he would say "I liked it so much, I bought the company".

https://www.youtube.com/embed/3NlMTkfI8Sc?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&autohide=2&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent

The Chinese must have heard him, because they took his method to heart; Alibaba doesn't just buy Chinese-made chips, they bought the company. Right after the United States started up its we-have-to-keep-priceless-American-technological-secrets-out-of-the-hands-of-the-thieving-Chinks policies. Suit yourself, Sam.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-csky-m-a-alibaba-idUSKBN1HR0VY

Shanghai-based Semiconductor Manufacturing International, a $5.4 Billion company and one of the largest such companies in China, pulled its listing from the NYSE.

https://www.cnbc.com/2019/05/24/major-chinese-chipmaker-delisting-from-the-nyse-but-says-it-has-nothing-to-do-with-trade-war.html

In 2018, Skyworks Solutions had 83% of its business in China. Apple had 20%, but 20% of Apple's revenue is a shitload of money. I had to laugh at the line, "Investors are increasingly concerned over the prospect of rising global protectionism." 'Global protectionism' pretty much covers The Donald's act.

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/04/04/chipmakers-may-have-the-most-to-lose-in-a-trade-war-with-china.html

[May 01, 2020] Assuming that the US did indeed seed the virus in Wuhan, then we might speculate that the seeding was timed to coincide with the flu season in China and with mass preparations for Chinese New Year.

May 01, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Jen , Apr 29 2020 23:21 utc | 69

Jackrabbit @ 21, 53:

Justin GLyn @ 65 is correct: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern instituted a Stage 4 lockdown in her country in mid-to-late March with the aim of eliminating the virus from Kiwi shores. That goal is no longer feasible but the country has begun relaxing its lockdown to Stage 3 in an effort to revive its economy.

The US failure to anticipate blowback can be understood in one way: assuming that the US did indeed seed the virus in Wuhan, then we might speculate that the seeding was timed to coincide with the flu season in China and with mass preparations for Chinese New Year. The thinking was that the virus would spread through public transportation networks throughout the country and Beijing would have a full-time job on its hands just dealing with massive viral outbreaks all over the country, and fail to deal with them even adequately, leading to mass riots and eventually widespread resistance to Beijing, and maybe even the eventual disintegration of the CCP and its overthrow. US and other expatriates would be trapped in the country, and foreign embassies and consulates might even be torched, prompting a US-led coalition to invade parts of the country (like the south and the southeast) and take over in a start to the balkanisation of the country cunningly disguised as foreign help to keep order.

The US certainly did not anticipate that Chinese people trusted enough in Beijing to be willing to carry out whatever orders Beijing issued; the US assumption seems to be that everywhere around the planet, people yearn to be just as individualistic and suspicious of Big Government as Americans are, and that what they think of their local councils and regional governments is the same as what they think of their national governments.

The reality is that in many countries, whatever people think of their local councils and regional (state, provincial) governments may not be true of what they think of their national governments, because the functions of the three tiers of government in their countries may not overlap to the extent that they might do in the Anglocentric world.

Neither did the US anticipate that Chinese society could be advanced in its own way technologically with various functions such as public health, public transport and others integrated enough that the Chinese could respond to a rapidly spreading crisis in the way they did. That is in part because US society and values are based on competition, mutual suspicion and top-down orders among other things, rather than co-operation, collective behaviour and willingness to consider solutions based on ideas from divergent yet integrated sources.


Vasco da Gama , Apr 29 2020 23:47 utc | 75

Very good comment! Jen@69

That is a very plausible working hypothesis, and I mean it working, the main assumption is still to be proven but it explains many other observations of fact. But I will append a variable in the main assumption: we could even replace the initiative's agent with some non-state actor, ie Big Pharma. I am unable to "decide" between these possibilities. Are the Imperial forces conflicting to the extent implied? Are we yet at the point that a non-state actor is bold enough for such an action? I really don't want to stretch a perfectly good hypothesis but am I?

David KNZ , Apr 30 2020 1:39 utc | 90
===> Jen @ 69 Good Post; astute observations

I was in China at the time when this unfolded and note the following: 1: The Chinese cultural mindset is totally different from the Western one, and the gap much greater than most Westerners realise. Look at the videos of the 75th Anniversary of Modern China for a few clues 2: As the worlds largest atheist nation, death is considered final, rituals notwithstanding So they are motivated to survive..( and focus on delicious food to this end) 3: They talk. Incessantly. It is no accident that WeChat has grown exponentially.. What happens in one part of China is pretty quickly spread to other parts And on the Flipside, there are surveillance cameras everywhere

So when this unfolded, Mid Spring festival when the cities were emptied, the memory of the SARS epidemic sprang to forefront of the official mind. Xi JingPing appeared on most TV Channels, making it clear that he was taking responsibility for the government response. And implicitly, that if he failed, he would be gone, in keeping with the long tradition of Chinese leadership.

At this point we decided to bail, being prime targets to host the virus. Avoided getting quarantined in HongKong by 4 hours, and quarantine in Manus Island, Aus by one phone call.

There were 6 temperature checks and 4 police checks on route to HongKong Airport; arriving in New Zealand expecting some major medical checks. None. Just 2 nurses at a deck asking if we felt OK - handed a pamphlet and sent on our way. I did try to follow up but given official discouragement. So NZ was asleep at the wheel for weeks, and just plain lucky. However, once NZ woke up, the response was excellent; PM Jacinda Adern's speech was masterful and the response excellent. We had only two CoVid cases yesterday, as we move into level 3.

There are big problems in economic recovery here, but the alternative scenarios would have been far worse. And theres got to be a reason why various luxury private jets are turning up unannounced and often unmarked at the airports here :-)

Jackrabbit , Apr 30 2020 6:11 utc | 113
Jen @Apr29 23:21
karlof1 @Apr30 0:34

Each of your explanations are compelling in their own way.

A few things that your explanations left out (this is not meant to be a comprehensive list):


IMO any theory of deliberate release should consider these points.

Bolton's was asked to leave the administration because he was involved in pushing development of a virus which accidentally escaped the lab -OR- willingly left to give Trump/Deep State a scapegoat in case it became known that the use of the virus was deliberate? In either case, the virus was already "in the wild" ...

... which would explain why no medical professional resigned in Feb/March. It was never going to be possible to contain the virus in the West.

This would also explain why virus discussion were classified.

Trump did a trade deal with China that he knew they would have trouble to satisfy the terms of. The ARAMACO IPO - which had been delayed several times - came just about 6 weeks before the new virus was identified. And it was done despite the Houthi attack on ARAMACO facilities two months before (investors should've been very wary of the continuing war at the super high valuation).

<> <> <> <> <>

PS I do know that New Zealand had a lock-down but they did that as soon as they found 'community spread' and their vigilance has allowed them to start lifting the lock-down after only a short period.

!!

[Apr 30, 2020] No Weapon Left Behind The American Hybrid War on China by Pepe Escobar

Feb 21, 2020 | www.strategic-culture.org

Branding BRI as a "pandemic"

As the usual suspects fret over the "stability" of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the Xi Jinping administration, the fact is the Beijing leadership has had to deal with an accumulation of extremely severe issues: a swine-flu epidemic killing half the stock; the Trump-concocted trade war; Huawei accused of racketeering and about to be prevented from buying U.S. made chips; bird flu; coronavirus virtually shutting down half of China.

Add to it the incessant United States government Hybrid War propaganda barrage, trespassed by acute Sinophobia; everyone from sociopathic "officials" to self-titled councilors are either advising corporate businesses to divert global supply chains out of China or concocting outright calls for regime change – with every possible demonization in between.

There are no holds barred in the all-out offensive to kick the Chinese government while it's down.

A Pentagon cipher at the Munich Security Conference once again declares China as the greatest threat , economically and militarily, to the U.S. – and by extension the West, forcing a wobbly EU already subordinated to NATO to be subservient to Washington on this remixed Cold War 2.0.

The whole U.S. corporate media complex repeats to exhaustion that Beijing is "lying" and losing control. Descending to sub-gutter, racist levels, hacks even accuse BRI itself of being a pandemic , with China "impossible to quarantine".

All that is quite rich, to say the least, oozing from lavishly rewarded slaves of an unscrupulous, monopolistic, extractive, destructive, depraved, lawless oligarchy which uses debt offensively to boost their unlimited wealth and power while the lowly U.S. and global masses use debt defensively to barely survive. As Thomas Piketty has conclusively shown, inequality always relies on ideology.

We're deep into a vicious intel war. From the point of view of Chinese intelligence, the current toxic cocktail simply cannot be attributed to just a random series of coincidences. Beijing has serial motives to piece this extraordinary chain of events as part of a coordinated Hybrid War, Full Spectrum Dominance attack on China.

Enter the Dragon Killer working hypothesis: a bio-weapon attack capable of causing immense economic damage but protected by plausible deniability. The only possible move by the "indispensable nation" on the New Great Game chessboard, considering that the U.S. cannot win a conventional war on China, and cannot win a nuclear war on China.

A biological warfare weapon?

On the surface, coronavirus is a dream bio-weapon for those fixated on wreaking havoc across China and praying for regime change.

Yet it's complicated. This report is a decent effort trying to track the origins of coronavirus. Now compare it with the insights by Dr. Francis Boyle, international law professor at the University of Illinois and author, among others, of Biowarfare and Terrorism . He's the man who drafted the U.S. Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989 signed into law by George H. W. Bush.

Dr. Boyle is convinced coronavirus is an

"offensive biological warfare weapon" that leaped out of the Wuhan BSL-4 laboratory, although he's "not saying it was done deliberately."

Dr. Boyle adds, "all these BSL-4 labs by United States, Europe, Russia, China, Israel are all there to research, develop, test biological warfare agents. There's really no legitimate scientific reason to have BSL-4 labs." His own research led to a whopping $100 billion, by 2015, spent by the United States government on bio-warfare research: "We have well over 13,000 alleged life science scientists testing biological weapons here in the United States. Actually this goes back and it even precedes 9/11."

Dr. Boyle directly accuses "the Chinese government under Xi and his comrades" of a cover up "from the get-go. The first reported case was December 1, so they'd been sitting on this until they couldn't anymore. And everything they're telling you is a lie. It's propaganda."

The World Health Organization (WHO), for Dr. Boyle, is also on it: "They've approved many of these BSL-4 labs ( ) Can't trust anything the WHO says because they're all bought and paid for by Big Pharma and they work in cahoots with the CDC, which is the United States government, they work in cahoots with Fort Detrick ." Fort Detrick, now a cutting-edge bio-warfare lab, previously was a notorious CIA den of mind control "experiments".

Relying on decades of research in bio-warfare, the U.S. Deep State is totally familiar with all bio-weapon overtones. From Dresden, Hiroshima and Nagasaki to Korea, Vietnam and Fallujah, the historical record shows the United States government does not blink when it comes to unleashing weapons of mass destruction on innocent civilians.

For its part, the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) has spent a fortune researching bats, coronaviruses and gene-editing bio-weapons. Now, conveniently – as if this was a form of divine intervention – DARPA's "strategic allies" have been chosen to develop a genetic vaccine.

The 1996 neocon Bible, the Project for a New American Century (PNAC), unambiguously stated, "advanced forms of biological warfare that can "target" specific genotypes may transform biological warfare from the realm of terror to a politically useful tool."

There's no question coronavirus, so far, has been a Heaven-sent politically useful tool, reaching, with minimum investment, the desired targets of maximized U.S. global power – even if fleetingly, enhanced by a non-stop propaganda offensive – and China relatively isolated with its economy semi paralyzed.

Yet perspective is in order. The CDC estimated that up to 42.9 million people got sick during the 2018-2019 flu season in the U.S. No less than 647,000 people were hospitalized. And 61,200 died.

This report details the Chinese "people's war" against coronavirus.

It's up to Chinese virologists to decode its arguably synthetic origin. How China reacts, depending on the findings, will have earth-shattering consequences – literally.

Setting the stage for the Raging Twenties

After managing to reroute trade supply chains across Eurasia to its own advantage and hollow out the Heartland, American – and subordinated Western – elites are now staring into a void. And the void is staring back. A "West" ruled by the U.S. is now faced with irrelevance. BRI is in the process of reversing at least two centuries of Western dominance.

There's no way the West and especially the "system leader" U.S. will allow it. It all started with dirty ops stirring trouble across the periphery of Eurasia – from Ukraine to Syria to Myanmar.

Now it's when the going really gets tough. The targeted assassination of Maj. Gen. Soleimani plus coronavirus – the Wuhan flu – have really set up the stage for the Raging Twenties. The designation of choice should actually be WARS – Wuhan Acute Respiratory Syndrome. That would instantly give the game away as a War against Humanity – irrespective of where it came from.

[Apr 30, 2020] "Since I entered politics, I have chiefly had men's views confided to me privately. Some of the biggest men in the United States, in the field of commerce and manufacture, are afraid of something. They know that there is a power somewhere so organised, so subtle, so watchful, so interlocked, so complete, so pervasive, that they better not speak above their breath when they speak in condemnation of it." -- Woodrow Wilson, 28th President of the United States (1856-1924)

Apr 29, 2020 | www.unz.com

Anonymous Disclaimer , says: Show Comment April 19, 2012 at 6:49 pm GMT

Thank you for an excellent article on what is happening. My only criticism is that it appears that these things "just happen". With your insight and erudition, could you please address "why" the situation has arisen. What could be the motivation behind actions and policies which so clearly will destroy not only the 99% but also the basic wealth of the1%?

This is not something new, but a recurrent theme in world affairs.

" Behind all the governments and the armies there was a big subterranean movement going on, engineered by very dangerous people." "Since I entered politics, I have chiefly had men's views confided to me privately. Some of the biggest men in the United States, in the field of commerce and manufacture, are afraid of something. They know that there is a power somewhere so organised, so subtle, so watchful, so interlocked, so complete, so pervasive, that they better not speak above their breath when they speak in condemnation of it."
-- Woodrow Wilson, 28th President of the United States (1856-1924) "So you see, my dear Coningsby, that the world is governed by very different personages from what is imagined by those who are not behind the scenes." -- Benjamin Disraeli, British Prime Minister (1804-1881) President Franklin Delano Roosevelt wrote in November 1933 to Col. Edward House: "The real truth of the matter is, as you and I know, that a financial element in the larger centers has owned the government since the days of Andrew Jackson."

Many thanks

[Apr 29, 2020] China has become GREAT because the USA turned to neoliberalism and financialization of the economy and turned the USA into byzantinne, militaristic, mercenary rogue nation at service of the Globalists elites

Apr 29, 2020 | www.unz.com

which do not care about that cosmological romantic lyrical notion of America.

Anonymous [589] Disclaimer , says: Show Comment April 29, 2020 at 8:38 pm GMT

It is undeniable that China has made impressive achievements since the Maosits revolution to date. BUT lets be realistic pre1973 China still a Nation with markedly 3th world living standards, even today with a soft racist inuendos , people speak about the Chinese must adopt better hygiene standards personally and privately.

Before 1973 China had mainly 3th world status, eversince Nixon (or Kissinger?) opened China US Corporate Capitalists inundated Chinas economic landscape, in other words the real, KEY bases for Chinas economic success remain USA Corporations majority perhaps more than 70% of their industrial output, although China has wisely constraint, restrain the USA/World FINANCIAL cartels..(Soros speclation against te yuan, ans Soros Opensociety inflkuence in HongKong)

Can China remain stable internally with a growing well travel educated savvy middle class, and a POOR lower working class with meager salaries, slave like labor conditions, and oppressive political controls, that's a recipe for a social cauldron..

Will the Chinese proletariat demand more "democracy" western/eastern oriented reforms??..

... ... ...

China has become GREAT because the USA decided to become poor a Spartan, byzantinne, militaristic, mercenary rogue nation at service of the Globaloists ELITES which do not care about that cosmological romantic lyrical notion of America.

[Apr 28, 2020] Hudson gives him the primary credit for providing the foundation for Modern Monetary Theory

Apr 28, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

karlof1 , Apr 27 2020 0:25 utc | 53

Some will know who Hyman Minsky was, some won't. Hudson gives him the primary credit for providing the foundation for Modern Monetary Theory, and he gets praise from Keen, Wolfe and many others too. On the occasion of his 100th birthday, here's a long essay that seeks the following:

"But the question still stands: Was Minsky in fact a communist? Of course not. But, a century after his birth, it is useful to clarify often neglected aspects of his intellectual biography."

Since Minsky's referenced so often by Hudson particularly, I think this piece will be helpful for those of us following the serious economic issues now in play. I'd reserve an hour for a critical read.

[Apr 24, 2020] The USA is entering its Byzantine Empire phase

Apr 24, 2020 | www.unz.com

anonymous [589] Disclaimer , says: Show Comment April 23, 2020 at 8:52 pm GMT

YOU are completely MISreading the events so yo miss the target by 90% NO it wasnt the Russians . neither the Chinese..

IT was the FREEtraders NEOcons from Wallstreet and CFR, that transfer all american manufacturing overseas (china) deabsing the dollar into fiat money, banktupted the USA traesury The USA is entering its Byzanntyne Empire pahse a Spartan roque millitary nation while inploding intrenally the Angloamerican zionists already ecided toi amke China de first world power

[Apr 24, 2020] Sometime before the 20th century closed, there was a term coined: the "Princelings". These were the extravagantly wealthy offspring of many of the leadership of the CCP, and grandchildren of the men who endured the "Long March".

Apr 24, 2020 | www.unz.com

anachronism , says: Show Comment April 23, 2020 at 8:20 pm GMT

@Anonymous How should I describe it? The Chinese Communist Party has formed a plutarchy and an oligopoly "with Chinese characteristics".

Sometime before the 20th century closed, there was a term coined: the "Princelings". These were the extravagantly wealthy offspring of many of the leadership of the CCP, and grandchildren of the men who endured the "Long March".

"Genocide" is a term that is broadly applied to what is more accurately described as "ethnic cleansing". The Hans have taken over Tibet and Xin Jiang, and have oppressed the locals in a ruthless manner, that is comparable to what the Jews have done to Palestinians.

Systematically, the Chinese are converting the indigenous populations of poorer countries into indentured servants. These countries are so indebted to their Chinese "benefactors" that they have no hope for redemption, unless the Chinese are prepared to forgive the loans. So far, the Chinese have not been disposed to do so.

The effect and the consequence of these developments are close enough to warrant the comparison.

[Apr 24, 2020] Atlantacist Method: Raw materials come into China by Ship, and finished Goods leave by ship. Globo Homo ownership class takes the increment of production and wage arbitrage as gains. Wall Street/London is a hero, main street is a zero.

Apr 24, 2020 | www.unz.com

Mefobills , says: Show Comment April 23, 2020 at 5:05 pm GMT

@anon Lets add to the bigger picture. With regards to Israel: Exceptions don't make the rule.
_______

The forces that off-shored the jobs, to then make wage arbitrage and become masters of the universe, are the very same ones that are now demonizing China.

They are "international" in outlook, and the only national country that matters to them is Israel.

In general, it is a "class" of people -sometimes called "Davos Man" who goes by other names, such as globo-homo, ZOG (zionist world government), Ne0-Con, Neo-Liberal.

Globo-Homo couldn't resist the wage arbitrage that China represented after the Berlin Wall fell in 1990. Clinton gave China effective MFN status in 1993. Wall Street begins Green Mail Coercion Techniques against American industry to then off-shore jobs.

China also runs a simultaneous gambit against the U.S. by buying up TBills instead of goods from U.S. main-street. This then insures that U.S. dollar is propped up against the Yuan e.g. currency manipulation. The China/Wall Street Gambit is in full swing, and globo-homo is happy.

Globo-Homo doesn't care about the destruction of American Mainstreet, because only prices matter, and they are getting rich. China becomes the workshop for the world.

There are still elements within Globo-Homo that like their easy money derived from ownership of transplanted industry.

If you look at today's propaganda emission center for China psy-ops you will see that it is another mouthpiece and organ of the "international." They are festooned with neo-liberals and ne0-cons.

Why the sudden shift, where China is the golden goose, to becoming the enemy?

Summary: There are two main enemies against American Mainstreet Labor. There is the internal and international enemy of globo homo centered in Wall Street and London, and there are elements within China that used Mercantile techniques to continue imbalanced trade and theft of American patrimony and industry.

Globo homo has new marching orders, as they have belatedly realized that they got played. The jig is up, you cannot operate the usury mechanism, do speculation, and RIG THE WORLD, forever.

The U.S. military security state has communicated clearly, they don't like their "international" supply chains and loss of U.S. domestic manufacturing. Globo Homo has long used the US. military as a Golem which protected movement of ships from China's east coast.

Atlantacist Method: Raw materials come into China by Ship, and finished Goods leave by ship. Globo Homo ownership class takes the increment of production and wage arbitrage as gains. Wall Street/London is a hero, main street is a zero.

[Apr 21, 2020] Jim Chanos Says He's 'Outraged' Private Equity Giants Want Taxpayer Aid by Katherine Burton

"And if a bunch of hedge funds get wiped out - what's the big deal? Let them fail. So they don't get the summer in the Hamptons - who cares."
See also https://finance.yahoo.com/video/why-chanos-bemused-pe-push-213642036.html
Apr 10, 2020 | finance.yahoo.com

(Bloomberg) -- Legendary short-seller Jim Chanos said he's troubled that private equity is seeking financial aid from the federal government due to the economic impact of the coronavirus epidemic.

"'I'm a little bemused, puzzled and somewhat outraged, I guess, that private equity would be pushing to the front of the line to try to get taxpayer assistance," he said in an interview Thursday on Bloomberg Television.

The Federal Reserve's move Thursday to throw a lifeline to small and mid-sized businesses and fund the purchases of some types of high-yield bonds has has been seen by some market participants as helping the private equity firms who owns some of these companies. Those firms earlier this week were dealt a setback in their attempt to gain access to billions of dollars of loans that the U.S. government is doling out to help businesses hit hard by the pandemic, Bloomberg reported.

Chanos said a look at the year-end letters for the four biggest publicly-traded private equity firms showed they had more than $300 billion in dry powder to put to use.

"I think private equity is possibly at a crossroads similar to where hedge funds were post the global financial crisis," said Chanos, who runs hedge fund Kynikos Associates. "People are going to start to judge the high fees and the illiquidity and think: 'Am I really getting the return commensurate for the risk?"

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

[Apr 20, 2020] John Kenneth Galbraith

Apr 20, 2020 | en.wikipedia.org

1955 book about 1929 crash. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Great_Crash,_1929

The tectonic shifts and the trajectory of both countries (China and the USA) after this epidemics end is unpredictable. "Chimerica" type of globalization was in decline before the epidemic (Huawai, etc) and Trump badly wants decoupling from China. Somebody needs to pay for those changes. It might well be us. So it is quite probable that those techno Nouveau riche like us might be soon royally fleeced one way or another.

It might be prudent to have at least 300K in three bank accounts (in the USA only the first 100K are ensured) at 1% or less. Buying TIPs directly from Treasury is another option. I hope your house is already fully paid.

BTW Marina can get half of your Social Security pension if her own is too small.

[Apr 13, 2020] COVID-19 Shutdown The End Of Globalization And Planned Obsolescence Enter Multipolarity by Joaquin Flores

Notable quotes:
"... Authored by Joaquin Flores via The Strategic Culture Foundation, ..."
"... the declining rate of profit necessitated by automation, with the increasingly irrational policies, in all spheres, being pursued to salvage the ultimately unsalvageable. ..."
"... Because the present system is premised on a production-consumption and financial model, the solutions to crises are presented as population reduction and what even appears, at least in the case of Europe, as population replacement. As cliché as this may seem, this also appeared to be the policy of the Third Reich when capitalism faced its last major crises culminating in WWII. ..."
Apr 12, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com
Authored by Joaquin Flores via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

The coronavirus pandemic has shown that the twin processes of globalization and planned obsolescence are deficient and moribund. Globalization was predicated on a number of assumptions including the perpetuity of consumerism, and the withering away of national boundaries as transnational corporations so required.

What we see instead is not a globalization process, but instead a process of rising multipolarity and a rethinking of consumerism itself.

Normally a total market crash and unemployment crisis would usher in a period of militant labor activity, strikes, walk-outs and community-labor campaigns. We've seen some of this already . But the 'medical state of emergency' we are in, has effectively worked like a 'lock-out' . The elites have effectively flipped-the-script. Instead of workers now demanding a restoration of wages, hours, and work-place rights, they are clamoring for any chance to work at all, under any conditions handed down. Elites can 'afford' to do this because they've been given trillions of dollars to do so. See how that works?

All our lives we've been misinformed over what a growing economy means, what it looks like, how we identify it. All our lives we've been lied to about what technical improvement literally means.

A growing economy in fact means that all goods and services become less expensive. That cuts against inflation. Rather all prices should be deflating – less money ought to buy the same (or the same money ought to buy more). Technical innovation means that goods should last longer, not be planned for obsolescence with shorter lifespans.

Unemployment is good if it parallels price deflation. If both reached a zero-point, the problems we believe we have would be solved.

In a revealing April 2nd article that featured on the BBC's website, Will coronavirus reverse globalisation? it is proposed that the pandemic exposes the weaknesses and vulnerabilities of a global supply-chain and manufacturing system, and that this in combination with the over-arching US-China trade war would see a general tendency towards 're-shoring' of activities. These are fair points.

But the article misses the point of the underlying problem facing economics in general: the declining rate of profit necessitated by automation, with the increasingly irrational policies, in all spheres, being pursued to salvage the ultimately unsalvageable.

The Karmic Wheel of Production-Consumption

The shut-downs – which seem unnecessary in the numerous widely esteemed experts in virology and epidemiology – appear to be aimed at stopping the production-consumption cycle. When we look at the wanton creation of new 'money', to bailout the banks, we are told that this will not cause inflation/debasement so long as the velocity of money is kept to a minimum. In other words – so long as there is not a chain reaction of transactions, and the money 'stays still' – this won't cause inflation. It's a specious claim, but one which justifies the quarantine/lock-down policy which today destroys thousands of small businesses every day. In the U.S. alone, unemployment claims will pass 30 million by mid April .

Likewise, this money appears real, it sits digitally as new liquidity on the computer screens of tran-Atlantic banks – but it cannot be spent, or it tanks the system with hyper-inflation. More to the point, the BBC piece erroneously continues to assume the necessity of the production-consumption cycle, spinning wheat into gold forever.

The elites were not wrong to shut-down the cycle per se. The problem is that they cannot offer the correct hardware in its place – for it puts an end to the very way that they make money. It is this, which in turn is a major source for the maintenance of their dopamine equilibrium and narcissist supply.

This is not an economic problem faced by 'the 1%' (the 0.03%) . It is an existential crisis facing the meaning of their lives, where satisfaction can only be found in ever greater levels of wealth and control, real or imagined – chasing that dragon, in search of that ever-elusive high.

So naturally, their solutions are population reduction and other such quasi-genocidal neo-Malthusian plans. Destruction of humanity – the number one productive-potential force – resets the hands of time, back to a period where profit levels were higher. The algorithmically favored coronavirus Instagram campaign of seeing city centers without people and declaring these 'beautiful' and 'peaceful' is an example of this misanthropic principle at play.

That the elites have chosen to shut-down the western economy is telling of an historic point we have reached. And while we are told that production and consumption will return somewhat 'after quarantine', we also hear from the newly-emerged unelected tsars – Bill Gates et al – that things will never return to normal .

What we need to end is the entire theory and practice of globalization itself, including UN Agenda 21 and the dangerous role of 'book-talking' philanthropists like Gates and his grossly unbalanced degree of power over policy formation in the Western sphere.

In place of waning globalization, we are seeing the reality of rising multipolarity and inter-nationalism. With this, the end of the production-consumption cycle, based upon off-shore production and international assembly, and at the root of it all: planned obsolescence towards long-term profitability.

The Problem of Globalization Theory

Without a doubt, globalization theory satisfied aspects of descriptive power. But as time marched forward, its predictive power weakened. Alternate theories began to emerge – chief among these, multipolarity theory.

The promotion of globalization theory also raises ethical problems. Like a criminologist 'describing' a crime-wave while being invested in new prison construction, globalization theory was as much theory as it was a policy forced upon the world by the same institutions behind its popularization in academia and in policy formation. Therefore we should not be surprised with the rise of solutions like those of Gates. These involve patentable 'vaccines' by for-profit firms at the expense of buttressing natural human immunities, or using drugs which other countries are using with effectiveness.

The truth? Globalization is really just a rebrand of the Washington Consensus – neo-liberal think-tanks and the presumed eternal dominance of institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, which in turn are thinly disguised conglomerates of the largest trans-Atlantic banking institutions.

So while globalization was often given a humanist veneer that promised global development, modernization, the end of 'nation-states' which presumably are the source of war; in reality globalization was premised on continuing and increasing concentration of capital towards the 19th century zones – New York, London, Berlin, and Paris.

'Internationalism' was once rooted in the existence of nations which in turn are only possible with the existence of culture and peoples, but was hi-jacked by the trans-Atlanticist project. Before long, the new-left 'internationalists' became champions of the very same process of imperialism that their forbearers had vehemently opposed. Call it 'globalization' and show how it's destroying 'toxic nationalism' and creating 'microfinance solutions for women and girls' – trot out Malala – and it was bought; hook, line and sinker.

This was not the new era of 'globalization', but rather the usual suspects going back to the 19th century; a 'feel-good' rebranding of the very same 19th century imperialism as described in J.A Hobson's seminal work from 1902, Imperialism. Its touted 'inevitability' rested not on the impossibility of alternate models, but on the authority that flows forth from gunboat diplomacy. But sea power has given way to land power.

In many ways it aligned with the era of de-colonialization and post-colonialism. New nations could wave their own flags and make their own laws, so long as the traditionally imperialist western banking institutions controlled the money supply.

But what is emerging is not Washington Consensus 'globalization', but a multipolar model based in civilizational sovereignty and difference, building products to last – for their usefulness and not their repeatable retail potential. This cuts against the claims that global homogenization in all spheres (moral, cultural, economic, political, etc.) was inevitable, as a consequence of mercantile specialization.

Therefore, inter-nationalism hyphenated as such, reminds us that nations – civilizations, sovereignty, and their differences – make us stronger as a human species. Like against viruses, some have stronger natural immunity than others. If people were identical, one virus could wipe-out all of humanity.

Likewise, an overly-integrated global economy leads to global melt-down and depression when one node collapses. Rather than independent pillars that could aid each other, the interdependence is its greatest weakness.

Multipolarity is Reality

This new reality – multipolarity – involves processes which aspects of globalization theory also suggest and predict for, so there are some honest reasons why experts could misdiagnose multipolarity as globalization. Overlooked was that the concentration of capital nodes in various and globally diverse regions by continent, were not exclusively trans-Atlantic regions as in the standard globalization model of Alpha ++ or Alpha+ cities. This capital concentration along continental lines was occurring alongside regional economic development and rising living standards which tended to promote the efficiency of local transportation as opposed to ocean-travel in the production process. As regional nodes by continent had increasingly diversified their own domestic production, a general tendency for transportation costs to increase as individual per capita usage increased, worked against the viability of an over-reliance on global transit lines.

But among many problems in globalization theory was that the US would always be the primary consumer of the world's goods, and with it, the trans-Atlantic financial sector. It was also contingent on the idea that mercantilist conceptions of specialization (by nation or by region) would always trump autarkic models and ISI (income substitution industrialization). Again, if middle-class consumer bases are rising in all the world's inhabited continents as multipolarity explains and predicts, then a global production regimen rationalized towards a trans-Atlantic consumer base as globalization theory predicts isn't quite as apt.

Because the present system is premised on a production-consumption and financial model, the solutions to crises are presented as population reduction and what even appears, at least in the case of Europe, as population replacement. As cliché as this may seem, this also appeared to be the policy of the Third Reich when capitalism faced its last major crises culminating in WWII.

Breaking the Wheel

The shutdown reveals the karmic wheel of production-consumption is in truth already broken. We have already passed the zenith point of what the old paradigm had to offer, and it has long since entered into a period of decay, economic and moral destruction.

Like the Christ who brings forth a new covenant or the Buddha who emerges to break the wheel of karma, the new world to be built on the ruins of modernity is a world that liberates the productive forces, realizing their full potential, and with it the liberation of man from the machine of the production-consumption cycle.

Planned obsolescence and consumerism (marketing) are the twin evils that have worked towards the simultaneous time-wasting enslavement of 'living to work' , and have built globalization based on global assembly and global mono-culture.

What is important for people and their quality of life is the time to live life, not be stuck in the grind. We hear politicians and economists talking about 'everyone having a job', as if what people want is to be away from their families, friends, passions, or hobbies. What's more – people cannot invent, innovate, or address the greater questions of life and death – if their nose is to the grindstone.

Now that we are living under an overt system of control, a 'medical state of emergency' with a frozen economy, we can see that another world is possible. The truth is that most things which are produced are intentionally made to break at a specific time, so that a re-purchase is predictable and profits are guaranteed. This compels global supply chains and justifies artificially induced crashes aimed at upward redistribution and mass expropriations.

Instead of allowing Bill Gates to tour the world to tout a police-state cum population reduction scheme right after a global virus pandemic struck, one which many believe he owns the patent for , we can instead address the issues of multipolarity, civilizational sovereignty, and ending planned obsolescence and the global supply chain, as well as the off-shoring it necessitates – which the BBC rightly notes, is in question anyhow.

[Apr 10, 2020] Global Times blasts Outlaw US Empire COVID response:

Apr 10, 2020 | www.globaltimes.cn
Global Times blasts Outlaw US Empire COVID response :

"The vicious virus, the polarization of US politics and deepening international divergences have plunged humanity into unprecedented uncertainties. A jumbled, irresponsible and impulsive US greatly enhanced the risks the world is facing.

"What's worse, the US did not engage in any reflection, and the inability of its government was only attributed to partisanship. The anti-China element in its public opinion has been brewing with the instigation of the administration and some politicians. This has greatly crumbled the US' self-correction ability.

"The harm on humanity caused by a virus, no matter how frightening it is, only remains at the physical level. But the US destruction at the political level is amplifying this crisis that endangers global governance. Even if the pandemic is put under control, humanity has to face the turbulence post-pandemic. Such dual uncertainties have gone beyond the imagination of people even with their decades of living experience."

IMO and contrary to the editorial's conclusion, "populist politics" had nothing to do with Trump's beyond mediocre response; rather, it's all been ideological beginning with the utter lack of preparation.

Posted by: karlof1 | Apr 9 2020 17:22 utc | 108

[Apr 10, 2020] 'Piracy' Or America First US Customs To Seize All Exports Of Masks Gloves

Apr 09, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

A policy that US allies in Europe have recently slammed as 'piracy' is set to continue, as Washington unabashedly and unapologetically continues blocking shipments from US soil of personal protective equipment (PPE) -- such as gowns, gloves, and N95 face masks -- which hospitals and health workers desperately need in the fight against COVID-19.

The Hill reports that "The federal government will begin seizing exports of personal protective equipment, or PPE, until it decides if the tools should be kept in the country to fight the coronavirus."

The announcement was made Wednesday by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), formalizing an existing controversial practice under Defense Production Act (DPA) which has recently blocked millions of masks from being exported from Minnesota-based 3M to Canada. US customs will block all respirators, surgical masks and surgical gloves from going abroad.

Image source: Reuters

Canadian leaders blasted the move as putting lives in danger, while Germany and France described the US policy, which has seen recent interventions against shipments from China bound for Europe, as 'piracy'.

"FEMA and CBP are working together to prevent domestic brokers, distributors, and other intermediaries from diverting these critical medical resources overseas," a joint statement indicated.

"Today's order is another step in our ongoing fight to prevent hoarding, price gouging, and profiteering by preventing the harmful export of critically needed PPE," the White House also said in a statement. "It will help ensure that needed PPE is kept in our country and gets to where it is needed to defeat the virus."

It appears Trump's 'America First' policy in action at a crucial time of crisis , as the US is the global epicenter for COVID-19, now with over 430,000 confirmed cases - most in New York state - which has witnessed hospitals running desperately low on supplies, including ventilators.

However, foreign governments have of late essentially warned 'what goes around comes around' . Berlin Interior Minister Andreas Geisel at the start of the week stated bluntly of Washington's brazen policy that it constitutes a Wild West tactic - essentially warning Europe can play dirty too.

[Apr 10, 2020] Japan To Spend Billions Relocating Production Out Of China

Apr 09, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com
Japan has allocated $2.2 billion (US) of its $993 billion emergency stimulus package to help manufacturers relocate production out of China amid the COVID-19 pandemic which began in the communist nation. According to SCMP , $2 billion (US) will be set aside for companies shifting production back to Japan , while roughly $223.5 million will be spent on helping companies move production to other countries, according to SCMP .

Under normal circumstances, China is Japan's largest trading partner - however imports from China plummeted nearly 50% in February as the coronavirus pandemic resulted in closed factories and unfilled orders. Meanwhile, a planned visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to Japan early this month - the first such trip in a decade - was postponed with no date rescheduled.

It remains to be seen how the policy will affect Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's years-long effort to restore relations with China.

" We are doing our best to resume economic development ," Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a briefing Wednesday in Beijing, when asked about the move. " In this process, we hope other countries will act like China and take proper measures to ensure the world economy will be impacted as little as possible and to ensure that supply chains are impacted as little as possible ." - SCMP

China's production trainwreck has revived discussion among Japanese firms over reducing their reliance on China as a manufacturing base - while the government's panel on future investment recommended last month that manufacturing of high-value products should shift back to Japan - while other goods should be diversified across Southeast Asia.

"There will be something of a shift," according to Japan Research Institute economist Shinichi Seki, who noted that Japanese companies were already considering moving out of China. "Having this in the budget will definitely provide an impetus." That said, certain industries such as automotive will likely stay put.

Japan exports a far larger share of parts and partially finished goods to China than other major industrial nations, according to data compiled for the panel. A February survey by Tokyo Shoko Research found 37 per cent of the more than 2,600 companies that responded were diversifying procurement to places other than China amid the coronavirus crisis. - SCMP

[Apr 06, 2020] A sound banker, alas! is not one who foresees danger and avoids it, but one who, when he is ruined, is ruined in a conventional and orthodox way along with his fellows, so that no one can really blame him. ~Keynes

Highly recommended!
Apr 06, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

notabanktoadie , April 6, 2020 at 8:04 am

A sound banker, alas! is not one who foresees danger and avoids it, but one who, when he is ruined, is ruined in a conventional and orthodox way along with his fellows, so that no one can really blame him. Keynes via Yves

The problem is that the payment system, besides grubby coins and paper Central Bank notes (e.g. Federal Reserve Notes), must work through private depository institutions or not at all.

How then can we have a sound economy when it is held hostage by "sound" bankers?

And are not the banks a form of rentier – who rent the Nation its money supply?

Then where are the proposals of the MMT School to euthanize those rentiers?

[Apr 05, 2020] Capitalism is the legitimate racket of the ruling class. Al Capone

Apr 05, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Mao , Apr 6 2020 2:25 utc | 134

Al Capone Money Quote saying that being a capitalist is the legitimate racket of those in power – with laws to back it up. Al Capone said:

"Capitalism is the legitimate racket of the ruling class."

https://itsamoneything.com/money/wp-content/uploads/Al-Capone-Capitalism-Ruling-Class-Racket.jpg

[Apr 05, 2020] If there's one industry where private equity has done the most to directly harm American public, it's health care

Apr 05, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

This KKR-Backed Healthcare Firm Just Slashed Doctors' Pay In The Middle Of An Unprecedented Pandemic

Even if they aren't exactly certain how the business model works, Twitter blue checks and the rest of the mainstream media - having been whipped into an anti-banker fervor by Bernie Sanders and the last glowing embers of Occupy - never pass up an opportunity to kick private equity in the nuts.

And if there's one industry where private equity has done the most to directly harm American public, it's health care.

Envision's Colorado headquarters

During the latter part of the Democratic primary campaign, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren primed the pump by extolling the evils of private equity to the public every chance they got, helping impress the term into the memory banks of legions of twentysomethings how the industry had contributed to America's health-care crisis, along with a multitude of other societal ills. Now, with the world in the grip of an unprecedented crisis, the industry is about to get pilloried once again - but this, much, much bigger than before, we suspect - as private equity-backed health-care companies, loaded down from their LBO debt binges, are forced to make cutbacks including slashing pay for doctors and nurses in the middle of a pandemic that has already killed nearly 9,500 Americans.

And now the KKR-backed Envision Healthcare Corp., one of the biggest medical providers backed by private equity, is poised to become the poster-child for Wall Street greed as it informs hundreds of doctors in its employ will not be receiving the bonus checks they had been expecting in April. Though we suspect this isn't a complete surprise, the cuts will deprive hundreds of doctors of roughly one-third of their total comp during an already extremely difficult time for them and their families. The company has promised to repay them at a later date once their financial situation has improved.

The move risks igniting a blowback that could make KKR one of "the most hated companies in the world. Just ask Martin Shkreli.

But the reason the company's financial position is so poor in the first place is because Envision carries more than $7 billion of debt. This debt was amassed during what was, according to data compiled by Bloomberg , the third-largest health-care LBO ever.

In a statement, Envision said it's "100% focused" on saving lives during this crisis, even though its business (ambulatory surgical centers and medical staffing) shrank more than 75% in two weeks, Bloomberg said. With so many Americans hiding at home and fearful of entering hospitals and doctor's offices, people are delaying elective and non-emergency care at unprecedented rates.

"We are on the front lines caring for patients during this unprecedented public health and economic crisis," the Nashville, Tennessee-based company said. "Envision Healthcare is 100 percent focused on saving lives and sustaining the nation's fragile health-care system. The safety net we provide for millions of patients must remain fully intact for when we get to the other side of this national crisis."

Like many companies, Envision completely drew down its two credit lines to provide financial flexibility in recent weeks (apparently it didn't listen to Larry Kudlow and Mnuchin). The company spends about $1.5 billion on compensation for physicians quarterly, an insider reportedly told BBG. The company has about $140 million to $150 million in debt payments due in the next two weeks, according to Mike Holland of Bloomberg Intelligence, and has $650 million of cash on its balance sheet. It has warned investors that it might need to raise more financing if circumstances continue to deteriorate.

The biggest problem for KKR, is that some of the physician groups are planning to sue the company; litigation could draw unwanted attention to KKR at a time when public anger is dangerously high.

But as the 'cockroach' theory suggests, Envision isn't alone: The boom in LBOs (part of the binge on corporate debt that also fueled the surge in buybacks) left many companies, especially in the health-care space, where many companies were built via a series of costly mergers and acquisitions.

[Mar 28, 2020] Just imagine the French hoity toity now not having to put up with the yellow vests in the streets. Must be such a comforting relief.

Mar 28, 2020 | www.unz.com

Old and Grumpy , says: Show Comment

[Mar 28, 2020] One common flavour of modern idiotism: I've heard doctors and pharmacists complain that patients will get offended when prescribed a cheaper, older drug. They want the best and newest, they need and deserve it!

Highly recommended!
Mar 28, 2020 | www.unz.com

Redneck farmer , says: Show Comment March 27, 2020 at 10:09 am GMT

There is also a tendency to think newer=better. I've heard doctors and pharmacists complain that patients will get offended when prescribed a cheaper, older drug. They want the best and newest, they need and deserve it!
Jake , says: Show Comment March 27, 2020 at 11:42 am GMT
@Redneck farmer That is because advertising works. Drug companies being allowed to advertise guaranteed that predators, such as the Sacklers, would want to own drug companies.
Oracle , says: Show Comment March 27, 2020 at 2:43 pm GMT
More activity on the dark, unethical side of capitalism. There's an entire history of it, opium wars, Atlantic slave trade, pornography, control of political agents through pedophilia. The list does go on and strangely enough it's usually the same actors.

[Mar 27, 2020] We have to beg for hand sanitizer? It's almost like we are one of the nations under strct USA sanction

Mar 27, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

karlof1 , Mar 26 2020 23:56 utc | 90

Just one of many important anecdotal observations :

"We have to beg for hand sanitizer? It's almost like we are one of the nations we sanction."

[Mar 27, 2020] Exactly when did behaviour of neoliberals become a bunch of out-takes from Catch-22?"

Mar 27, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

bevin , Mar 27 2020 1:17 utc | 98

johnbrewster@77
Here's a story from today's Toronto Star. It's a neoliberalism story and goes well with Pepe Escobar's piece in Asia Times (see above for link)
Basically the Province of Ontario stockpiled everything need for the pandemic that SARs warned them was bound to come.

Then, a couple of years ago, they destroyed the stockpiles including 55 million facemasks.

Now there are no face masks to be found and medical staff, inter alia, are having to take totally unnecessary risks.

Why did this happen? Because neo-liberalism is all about profits and fiscal austerity: as soon as the masks got beyond their 'best before' date they were destroyed - so the manufacturers could have another bite at the cherry and sell another 55 million masks. But then, austerity, the need to finance tax cuts for the wealthy, stepped in so the orders were not renewed. And people will die, horrible deaths, as a result.


https://www.thestar.com/opinion/star-columnists/2020/03/25/province-stockpiled-55-million-face-masks-then-destroyed-them.html

[Mar 27, 2020] Looks like the USA and the Soviet Union traded jerseys after the wall fell.

Mar 27, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

steve , Mar 26 2020 22:46 utc | 75

For me the USA and the Soviet Union traded jerseys after the wall fell. The USA took victory way to seriously.

[Mar 27, 2020] Larry Summers should have a drink named after him

Mar 27, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

uncle tungsten , Mar 26 2020 19:46 utc | 22

karlof1 #10

Larry Summers should have a drink named after him.
Ofshore double hoarder
Safebreaker with tonic
Gin and plunder scammer


Thanks b,I bought last roll of narrow elastic yesterday and will cut up some old silk shirts today.

[Mar 27, 2020] Trump's about as innocent in the coronavirus fiasco as jack the ripper

Mar 27, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Miss Lacy , Mar 26 2020 20:32 utc | 35

PS to vk # 1. Please think again. Trump has been in a trade war with China for what? a couple of years? AND, he specifically banned imports of medical supplies from China. Other posters wave supplied links for this idiocy.

Trump's about as innocent as jack the ripper. You may just be seeing things relatively, as ghouls like Elliot Abrahms and disgusting Pomposity make Trump seen like an amateur.

[Mar 27, 2020] Senior officials in the Trump administration agreed to new measures to restrict the global supply of chips to China's Huawei Technologies, sources familiar with the matter said, as the White House ramps up criticism of China over coronavirus.

Mar 27, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Likklemore , Mar 26 2020 21:56 utc | 66

Is the troop deployment along the Canadian border is to stop anyone interfering in the coming chaos?

Posted by: Ian2 | Mar 26 2020 20:34 utc | 36

You have a point there --the coming chaos after the COVID-19 Health crisis.

Wondering if Trudeau knows about the fences that were erected this morning?

Maybe I missed Trump's tweet on his declaration of War.

- He has imposed more sanctions on Iranians.
- Indicted Maduro of Venezuela on narco trafficking, sponsor of terrorism; placed a $15 million bounty on his head --straight from the Panama playbook.

and this beauty - continues his trade war on China because -----

Exclusive: U.S. prepares crackdown on Huawei's global chip supply - sources

(Reuters) - Senior officials in the Trump administration agreed to new measures to restrict the global supply of chips to China's Huawei Technologies, sources familiar with the matter said, as the White House ramps up criticism of China over coronavirus.

The move comes as ties between Washington and Beijing grow more strained, with both sides trading barbs over who is to blame for the spread of the disease and an escalating tit-for-tat over the expulsion of journalists from both countries.

Under the proposed rule change, foreign companies that use U.S. chipmaking equipment would be required to obtain a U.S. license before supplying certain chips to Huawei. The Chinese telecoms company was blacklisted last year, limiting the company's suppliers.[.]
"This is going to have a far more negative impact on U.S. companies than it will on Huawei, because Huawei will develop their own supply chain," trade lawyer Doug Jacobson said. "Ultimately, Huawei will find alternatives."[.]

Huawei has been doing just that - finding alternatives. Trade wars have been proven to end badly. They end up going hot.

[Mar 25, 2020] Goldman Gives CEO 20% Raise - While Forecasting Major Coronavirus-caused Financial Crash for Americans

Mar 25, 2020 | www.unz.com

Boiling frogss , says: Show Comment March 25, 2020 at 1:46 pm GMT

Goldman Gives CEO 20% Raise-

While Forecasting Major CoronaVirus-Caused Financial Crash for Americans

https://www.youtube.com/embed/MFinbvX0Jg0?feature=oembed

https://www.youtube.com/embed/IXatS9PeuCU?feature=oembed

[Mar 24, 2020] With the neocon foreign policy of "full Spectrum Dominance" the USA seems well trapped in its rail tracks

Mar 24, 2020 | www.unz.com

Daniel Chieh , says: Show Comment March 24, 2020 at 1:21 pm GMT

@Divine Right American conflicts with Russia are based partly on self-serving fictions of the military industrial complex that need an enemy for their continued existence, as well as some more realistic conflicts involving Eastern Europe and rival interests over oil prices. The US need for hegemony, which is highly tied to the value of the dollar as a reserve currency, further thrusts this forward and center(and indeed, into conflict with China as well). This all is intermingled with a [fake and hypocritical] generalized rejection of "authoritarian" governments.

China, on the other hand, has no real current conflicts with Russia – most conflicts involve sales of weaponry and political influence over central Asian states, nothing of vast importance at least compared to being their the target of an enormous world-spanning sanctions order or a dedicated trade war.

Your argument has the weird self-contradiction that the CCP both is supposedly the mind-controlling alien brain of all Asians, while at the same time, not actually benefiting from any specific conflict with Russia. This also ignores the fact that Asians tend to assimilate the highest by any population(at nearly 40% intermarriage in some segments, that Chinese students in particularly no longer tend to stay in the US( only 20% by 2017 ), and that a overwhelming part of the demographic increase by immigration is Indian with long historical and cultural rivalries with China. And far more than Chinese Americans, who often engage in racial masochism(witness Gordan Chang ), Indian Americans are vastly more active and influential in American politics both due to cultural reasons as well as higher verbal IQ. This isn't even hypothetical: Indian American political writers dominate National Interest articles stressing for more hawkish Chinese attitudes and were directly contributory to renaming the South China Seas conflict to the "Indo-Pacific region."

I do agree that the US has long since crippled its resource base. But there's no evidence that Trump, or anyone else, is demonstrating the barest inkling of trying to resolve it(or that it is even possible, given the bueaucratic overload and red tape of regulations). Gould once described evolution as a "drunkard's walk" between complexity, where organisms sometimes fall trapped inside rail tracks, unable to stumble out.

The US seems well trapped in its rail tracks.

Blinky Bill , says: Show Comment March 24, 2020 at 2:35 pm GMT
@Daniel Chieh

Indian American political writers dominate National Interest articles stressing for more hawkish Chinese attitudes and were directly contributory to renaming the South China Seas conflict to the "Indo-Pacific region."

Prime example Saagar Enjeti.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/vkqq74knVXM?feature=oembed

neutral , says: Show Comment March 24, 2020 at 3:25 pm GMT
@Blinky Bill This is just further proof that there is a growing Indian problem in America.

[Mar 24, 2020] Many Italians in Northern Italy sold their leather goods and textiles companies to China. Italy then allowed 100,000 Chinese from Wuhan/Wenzhou to move to Italy to work in these factories, with direct Wuhan flights. Result: Northern Italy is Europe's hotspot for Wuhan Coronavirus

Mar 24, 2020 | www.unz.com

Felix Keverich , says: Show Comment March 22, 2020 at 4:37 pm GMT

@Anatoly Karlin There is apparently a large colony (100.000) of Chinese workers in Lombardy, with direct flights between Lombardy and Wuhan, so this Italian outbreak is not a coincidence.

Many Italians in Northern Italy sold their leather goods and textiles companies to China. Italy then allowed 100,000 Chinese from Wuhan/Wenzhou to move to Italy to work in these factories, with direct Wuhan flights. Result: Northern Italy is Europe's hotspot for Wuhan Coronavirus

-- George Papadopoulos (@GeorgePapa19) March 18, 2020

UK had a "herd immunity" strategy from the beginning. They made no real effort at containment. British government allowed their people to become infected, and only began to change course after public outrage.

Europe Europa , says: Show Comment March 22, 2020 at 4:48 pm GMT
@Felix Keverich The large Chinese population in Italy has been completely ignored by the media, in fact China itself seems to have been let completely off the hook. The focus is now on how terrible Britain and the native British people are.

Someone even posted a Tweet above by a Vietnamese person trying to claim that BRITAIN of all countries is responsible for the outbreak in Vietnam, I mean what kind of ridiculous logic is that? Vietnam bloody BORDERS China, the origin and epicentre of the Coronavirus outbreak, and the Vietnamese are trying to say Britain is the cause? It beggars belief.

[Mar 24, 2020] Manufacturing in cheap Third World countries and rewarding the local compradors with a permission to migrate to the West as contributing factor to the coronavirus epidemic

Mar 24, 2020 | www.unz.com

Beckow , says: Show Comment March 22, 2020 at 6:56 pm GMT

@AP

less globalization outside North America/Europe/Japan/Australia

You are missing the point of globalization: manufacturing in cheap Third World countries and rewarding the local compradors with a permission to migrate to the West. That's the deal, that's what globalization is.

With NA-Europe-Japan all you get is tourism and travel. I would be surprised if we can at this point convince Chinese and the other cheap labor countries to do the work and forgo the hope of migration. It was a Faustian deal and those as we know end in hell.

utu , says: Show Comment March 22, 2020 at 7:01 pm GMT
@AP Calm down, man and stop the stupid blaming game. It seems that your Banderite spin also includes bashing Chinese which, on the second thought, should not be surprising as there is only one paymaster. Perhaps you should specialize in Ukraine only and leave China to more competent haters.

Compare Canada and Italy on Chinese residents: Canada has 5 times more Chinese than Italy but 62 times less infection cases and 539 times less fatalities than Italy (as of March 16). Furthermore France and UK have more Chinese than Italy.

What about tourists: In Canada 0.75 mil Chinese tourist but in Italy 3.5 mil Chinese tourists. So it must be the tourists, right?

So compare Japan with Italy on Chinese tourists: 8.4 mil Chinese tourist in Japan vs. 3.5 mil Chinese tourists in Italy. How many cases in Japan?

So what I am trying to convey is that the expression of the epidemic in different countries is not congruent with the number of Chinese residents or Chinese tourist.

We will never know where the patients zero (yes plural, there are many patients zero) really came from. For various political reasons we will not be told and what we will be told we must be skeptical about. I found interesting data about the first infected in British Columbia that has huge rather affluent Chinese population. There were as many Iranians as non-Iranians on the list.

In British Columbia cases 1 to 5 were from China though it does not appear they infected others while cases 6, 7, , 12 and 14, 15, 19 were traced to Iran. Then the case 22 was from Iran and also case 31. Case 32 was from Italy, case 35 was from Egypt and case 37 was from Germany. So out of first 37 cases over 50% were people came form Iran, Egypt, Germany and Italy. My point is that while Canada has huge Chinese population (1.7 mil) and gets 700,000 Chinese visitors per year it does not look like China was the main vector. In BC it is Iran and Europe.

https://nationalpost.com/news/canada/covid-19-coronavirus-canadian-cases

One should consider a possibility whether virus introduction to Iran and the Middle East did precede its introduction in China.

Now let's return to Italy. Most Chinese tourists go to Rome, Florence and Venice. These cities were not affected as much as Lombardy where there is not that many tourists. So we are told that Chinese workers could carry the virus. So look at Prato (in Tuscany near Florence) which has the highest density of Chinese population in Italy. Wiki lists 11,882 (6.32%) for Prato while the highest absolute number is Milan 18,918 (1.43%). The numbers are probably outdated as most likely they do not include illegal residents.

On March 11 Italy had 12,246 cases.
https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/italy/

So I checked what Prato had on March 11:

https://iltirreno.gelocal.it/prato/cronaca/2020/03/11/news/coronavirus-casi-triplicati-a-prato-e-il-giorno-piu-nero-1.38580402
Coronavirus, casi triplicati a Prato: è il giorno più nero

"In a single day the positive cases of coronavirus in the province of Prato have tripled: from 7 to 21 . It is the darkest day since the outbreak began. According to what was announced in the afternoon of today, March 11, by the bulletin of the regional council "

"Therefore, 314 patients are currently positive in Tuscany. This is the subdivision by signaling areas: 71 Florence, 32 Pistoia, 21 Prato (total Asl center: 124), 43 Lucca, 40 Massa Carrara, 34 Pisa, 16 Livorno (total North West Asl: 133), 12 Grosseto, 37 Siena , 14 Arezzo (total Asl southeast: 63)."

So clearly the 2nd largest Chinese community in Italy (and first in density) with 21 cases (out of 12,246 cases in Italy) did not contribute a lot to the corona virus outbreak in Italy.

utu , says: Show Comment March 22, 2020 at 7:01 pm GMT
@AP Calm down, man and stop the stupid blaming game. It seems that your Banderite spin also includes bashing Chinese which, on the second thought, should not be surprising as there is only one paymaster. Perhaps you should specialize in Ukraine only and leave China to more competent haters.

Compare Canada and Italy on Chinese residents: Canada has 5 times more Chinese than Italy but 62 times less infection cases and 539 times less fatalities than Italy (as of March 16). Furthermore France and UK have more Chinese than Italy.

What about tourists: In Canada 0.75 mil Chinese tourist but in Italy 3.5 mil Chinese tourists. So it must be the tourists, right?

So compare Japan with Italy on Chinese tourists: 8.4 mil Chinese tourist in Japan vs. 3.5 mil Chinese tourists in Italy. How many cases in Japan?

So what I am trying to convey is that the expression of the epidemic in different countries is not congruent with the number of Chinese residents or Chinese tourist.

We will never know where the patients zero (yes plural, there are many patients zero) really came from. For various political reasons we will not be told and what we will be told we must be skeptical about. I found interesting data about the first infected in British Columbia that has huge rather affluent Chinese population. There were as many Iranians as non-Iranians on the list.

In British Columbia cases 1 to 5 were from China though it does not appear they infected others while cases 6, 7, , 12 and 14, 15, 19 were traced to Iran. Then the case 22 was from Iran and also case 31. Case 32 was from Italy, case 35 was from Egypt and case 37 was from Germany. So out of first 37 cases over 50% were people came form Iran, Egypt, Germany and Italy. My point is that while Canada has huge Chinese population (1.7 mil) and gets 700,000 Chinese visitors per year it does not look like China was the main vector. In BC it is Iran and Europe.

https://nationalpost.com/news/canada/covid-19-coronavirus-canadian-cases

One should consider a possibility whether virus introduction to Iran and the Middle East did precede its introduction in China.

Now let's return to Italy. Most Chinese tourists go to Rome, Florence and Venice. These cities were not affected as much as Lombardy where there is not that many tourists. So we are told that Chinese workers could carry the virus. So look at Prato (in Tuscany near Florence) which has the highest density of Chinese population in Italy. Wiki lists 11,882 (6.32%) for Prato while the highest absolute number is Milan 18,918 (1.43%). The numbers are probably outdated as most likely they do not include illegal residents.

On March 11 Italy had 12,246 cases.
https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/italy/

So I checked what Prato had on March 11:

https://iltirreno.gelocal.it/prato/cronaca/2020/03/11/news/coronavirus-casi-triplicati-a-prato-e-il-giorno-piu-nero-1.38580402
Coronavirus, casi triplicati a Prato: è il giorno più nero

"In a single day the positive cases of coronavirus in the province of Prato have tripled: from 7 to 21 . It is the darkest day since the outbreak began. According to what was announced in the afternoon of today, March 11, by the bulletin of the regional council "

"Therefore, 314 patients are currently positive in Tuscany. This is the subdivision by signaling areas: 71 Florence, 32 Pistoia, 21 Prato (total Asl center: 124), 43 Lucca, 40 Massa Carrara, 34 Pisa, 16 Livorno (total North West Asl: 133), 12 Grosseto, 37 Siena , 14 Arezzo (total Asl southeast: 63)."

So clearly the 2nd largest Chinese community in Italy (and first in density) with 21 cases (out of 12,246 cases in Italy) did not contribute a lot to the corona virus outbreak in Italy.

Daniel Chieh , says: Show Comment March 22, 2020 at 7:10 pm GMT
@AP

If this started in the USA and spread elsewhere the world would have good cause to condemn the USA and to judge any subsequent efforts by Americans to help others as "the least they could do."

Chinese shipments of medical goods are actually to the risk of the own population, where hospitals are still recovering. While in some ways it is a blatant PR play, its quite a significant cost amd self-risk that goes beyond "the least they could do."

[Mar 24, 2020] Chinese settlers in northern Italy.

Mar 24, 2020 | www.unz.com

AP , says: Show Comment March 22, 2020 at 3:09 pm GMT

@TheTotallyAnonymous

The Chinese are showing an unprecedented amount of humanity, morality and basic decency by giving medical aid to more than half the world in genuinely useful forms despite almost everyone shitting on them by calling this a "Chinese virus" and other garbage.

... ... ...

Here is an article about them in the New York Times. Written soon before the onset of the plague. It would not be written now – there's too obvious a connection between open borders, multiculturalism, and death:

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/05/business/italy-china-far-right.html

As Prato's factories went dark, people began arriving from China to exploit an opportunity.

Most were from Wenzhou, a coastal city famed for its entrepreneurial spirit. They took over failed workshops and built new factories. They imported fabric from China, sewing it into clothing. They cannily imitated the styles of Italian fashion brands, while affixing a valuable label to their creations -- "Made in Italy."

Chinese groceries and restaurants have emerged to serve the local population. On the outskirts of the city, Chinese-owned warehouses overflow with racks of clothing destined for street markets in Florence and Paris.

Among Italian textile workers who have veered to the right, the arrival of the Chinese tends to get lumped together with African migration as an indignity that has turned Prato into a city they no longer recognize.

"I don't think it's fair that they come to take jobs away from Italians," says Ms. Travaglini, the laid-off textile worker. She claims that Chinese companies don't pay taxes and violate wage laws, reducing pay for everyone.

Since losing her job at a textile factory nearly three years ago, Ms. Travaglini has survived by fixing clothes for people in her neighborhood. "There are no jobs, not even for young people," she says.

Chinese-owned factories have jobs, she acknowledges, but she will not apply. "That's all Chinese people," she says, with evident distaste. "I don't feel at ease."

:::::::::::

Lots of Ukrainians there also. They don't bring such a virus to Italy, but they bring the virus back to Ukraine.

::::::::::

So nice PR move after killing lots of European old people. One of the sacrificed in Milan to this virus, Vittorio Gregotti, was an architect who helped build the city. Killed by the Chinese virus. A symbol of native Italy replaced by migration.

[Mar 24, 2020] The Chinese have internal natural resources and have been vigorously working world wide to obtain rights to, develop, and extract mineral and energy resources in order to keep production going

Mar 24, 2020 | www.unz.com

Alfa158 , says: Show Comment March 22, 2020 at 3:25 pm GMT

@Kim The Chinese have internal natural resources and have been vigorously working world wide to obtain rights to, develop, and extract mineral and energy resources in order to keep production going. See the documentary Empire of Dust about Chinese getting the rights to African resources and developing the infrastructure to extract them. Also following the supposed "war for oil" in Iraq the oil contracts went almost entirely to China. China has a lot of the mines for the rare earths needed in modern technological products. The largest single mine used to be in California. A Chinese company bought and re-opened it.

In effect they already own or have contracts for what they need and are much less leveraged than we are.

As to whether their customers can continue to pay for it, that is a different kettle of fish. The rest of us have been running up our credit card with them. We have been paying it off by selling off our countries piece by piece through Chinese purchases of real estate, businesses, port facilities etc. As China has grown economically they have been developing their internal market to reduce dependence on Wal-Mart so that might reduce the impact of poorer foreign markets.

In any event they own a huge infrastructure in plants tooling and human expertise for making things. Our leaders have deliberately hollowed ours out for profits and cheaper consumer goods.

[Mar 19, 2020] Much of the US elite is sinecured in the media, foreign policy, and national security state establishments

Mar 19, 2020 | www.unz.com

Anonymous [252] Disclaimer , says: Show Comment March 18, 2020 at 6:53 pm GMT

@Sean

Here was me thinking the Western elites wanted to continue making money on Chinese growth.

Much of the US elite is sinecured in the media, foreign policy, and national security state establishments, whose status depends on the relative power and prestige of the US state. The relative power and prestige of the US state is jeopardized by the continued growth of China.

If you follow US coverage of China in the US, you'll find that this US elite is generally critical of China, although style and presentation vary. The liberal "China watchers" among the US elite in the media and foreign policy establishment tend to focus on human rights, democracy promotion, and liberalism as vectors to attack the Chinese state. They tend to be polished and more subtle rather than explicitly hostile.

The US elite in the national security establishment tend to be more overt about military containment and or confrontation with China, and on developing an anti-China coalition in the Pacific.

[Mar 15, 2020] Our Neo-Feudal System Is on the Verge of Collapse by Michael Hudson

Mar 15, 2020 | www.unz.com

Michael Hudson: [00:00:00] There's recognition that commercial banking has become dysfunctional and that most loans by commercial banks are either against assets – in which case the lending inflates the prices of real estate, stocks and bonds – or for corporate takeover loans.

The economy's low-income brackets have not been helped by today's financial system. Here in New York City, red lining and a visceral class hatred by high finance toward the poor characterized the major banks. From the very top to the bottom, they were very clear they were not going to lend to places with racial minorities like the Lower East Side. The Chase Manhattan Bank told me that the reason was explicitly ethnic, and they didn't want to deal with poor people.

A lot of people in these neighborhoods used to have savings banks. There were 135 mutual savings banks in New York City with names like the Bowery Savings Banks, the Dime Savings Bank, the Immigrant Savings Bank. As their names show, they were specifically to serve the low-income neighborhoods. But in the 1980s the commercial banks convinced the mutual savings banks to let themselves be raided. Their capital reserves of the savings banks, was just looted by Wall Street. The depositors' equity was stripped away (leaving their deposits, to be sure). Sheila Bair, former head of the FDIC, told me that the commercial banks' cover story was that they were large enough to provide more capital reserves to lend for low-income neighborhoods. The reality was that instead, they simply extracted revenue from these neighborhoods. Large parts of the largest cities in America, from Chicago and New York to others, are underbanked because of the transformation of commercial banks from providers of mortgages to emptiers-out, just revenue collectors. That leaves the main recourse in these neighborhoods to pay-day lenders at usurious interest rates. These lenders have become major new customers for Wall Street bankers, not the poor who have no comparable access to credit.

Apart from the savings banks, of course, you had the post office banks. When I went to work on Wall Street in the 1960s, 3 percent of U.S. savings were in the form of post office savings. The advantage, of course, is that post offices were in every neighborhood. So you actually had either a local community banking like savings banks – not like today's community banks, which are commercial banks, lending largely to real estate speculators to capitalize rental apartments into heavily mortgaged co-ops with much higher financial carrying charges – or you had post offices. You now have a deprivation of basic bank services in much of the economy, combined with an increasingly dysfunctional and predatory commercial banking system.

The question is, what's going to happen next time there's a bank crash? Sheila Bair wrote about after the 2008 crash that the most corrupt bank was Citibank – not only corrupt, but incompetent. She had wanted to take it over. But Obama and his Secretary of the Treasury, Tim Geithner, acted as lobbyists for Citibank from the beginning, protecting it from being taken over. But imagine what would have happened if Citibank would have been become a public bank – or other banks that are about to have negative equity if there is a downturn in the stock and bond and real estate market. Imagine what will happen if they were turned into public banks. They would be able to provide the kind of credit that the commercial banking system has refused to provide – credit to blacks, Hispanics and poor people that have just been red-lined in what is becoming a financially polarized dual economy, one for the wealthy and one for everyone else.

Walt McRee: [00:04:10] Well, power in that realm, of course, lies with the banking cartel. They look at public banks as a threat. They hate competition of any sort, it seems.

Michael Hudson: [00:04:18] Of course it is a threat.

Walt McRee: [00:04:22] And even when we say, Michael, that we're not going after the business you're already doing because you aren't lending to small, medium enterprises and so forth – we want to take on the infrastructure that you don't want to fund, but they still are pushing back. How will we be able to get past that?

Michael Hudson: [00:04:40] I think you should say that of course you're not going to take business away from them, because the public community bank or government-owned bank would not make corporate takeover loans or speculative derivative bets. It would not create the dysfunctional credit and debt overhead that has been expanding ever since 1999 when the Clinton administration changed the banking rules.

The problem is that the big commercial banks don't want the productive kind of loans that public banking would make. For instance, the reason they didn't want to extend credit to the Lower East Side or the Hudson Yards west side of New York was they wanted to sort of drive out their residents and gentrify it, by providing the money to the big developers who socially bulldoze these neighborhoods. Their policy is to kick out as many low-income renters or owners as they can, and replace them by raising rents from like $50 a month to $5,000 a month. That's what's happened on the Lower East Side from the time I first lived there to what rents are today.

There is a fight of the economy's unproductive sector against people who want to use credit in a productive way that actually helps the economy. I think it's a fight between good and evil, at least between the productive and unproductive economy, between economics for the people and economics for the One Percent.

ORDER IT NOW

Ellen Brown: [00:06:14] I wonder, though, if the Fed is going to even allow the banks to collapse again, with what they just did with the repo market. They can step in at any time to save anybody. I don't know that Congress, even has a say in it. What do you think?

Michael Hudson: [00:06:30] I think that's right. I've talked to Paul Craig Roberts and we discuss whether they can just keep on keeping these zombie banks alive. Can they keep the over-indebted zombie economy alive by the Federal Reserve manipulating the forward stock and bond markets to support prices? It doesn't actually have to buy stocks and bonds beyond the $4 trillion it's already put into Quantitative Easing. It can simply make manipulate the forward market. That doesn't really cost any money until the big crash comes. So I think one should have a discussion over what President Trump says is a boom that that he's created, with the stock market going up. Does that mean that the economy is getting richer? Are we fine with commercial banking the way it is, so that we don't need public banking?

I think you have to expose the fact that what's happened is artificial state intervention. What we have in the name of free market support of the banks is not a free market at all. It's a highly centralized market to support the predatory financial sector's wealth against the rest of the economy. The financial sector's wealth takes the form of credit to the rest of the economy, extracting interest and amortization, while making loans simply to increase asset prices for real estate and financial securities, not put new means of production in place to employ labor. So you have to go beyond the public banking issue as such, and look at the political context. Ultimately, the way that you defend public banking is to show how the economy works and how public banking could play a positive role in the economy as it should work.

Ellen Brown: [00:08:14] Can you explain what you meant by forward lending? I mean, they don't have to

Michael Hudson: [00:08:19] It's not forward lending, it's buying long. For the stock market's Dow Jones average, they'll contract to buy all its stocks or those in the S&P 500 in one month, or one week or whatever the timeframe is, for X amount – say, 2% over what they're selling today. Well, once the plunge protection team issues a guarantee to buy, the market is going to raise the bid prices for these stocks up to what the Fed and the Treasury have promised to pay for them. By the time the prices go up, the Fed doesn't actually have to buy these stocks, because everybody's anticipated that the Fed would buy them at this 2 percent gain. So it's a self-fulfilling prophecy. We're dealing with a government run by the banks and the creditor powers to artificially raise asset prices, on credit. This has kept alive a system that represents itself as creating prosperity. But it's not creating prosperity for the 99 Percent. Public banking would aim at prosperity for the 99 Percent, not just for the One Percent.

Ellen Brown: [00:09:46] I'm writing about Mexico's AMLO, who is now who has just announced in January that he will be building 2,700 branches of a public bank in the next two years. He's expecting 13,000 branches ultimately, so it will be the largest bank in the country. His reasoning is just what you're saying, that the banks have failed and have not serviced the poor. His mandate is to help the poor, and he can't do that if they don't have banking services.

Michael Hudson: [00:10:17] Is that national?

Ellen Brown: [00:10:18] Yes, all across the country.

Walt McRee: [00:10:22] "Loprabrador", AMLO. So we know that a public monetary source is a public utility. Our vision is to create a network of local and state public banks. That leads us to the view that what we really need to be targeting is the Federal Reserve, to ultimately turn it into a publicly-owned entity. Is that folly or

Michael Hudson: [00:10:55] I think the way to get people to support this is if they understand how the Federal Reserve was created. A few years ago I published an article in an Indian economic journal (I think it's on my website), about how the Federal Reserve was created. [1] "How the U.S. Treasury avoided Chronic Deflation by Relinquishing Monetary Control to Wall Street," Economic & Political Weekly (India), May 7, 2016. Available on Naked Capitalism an michael-hudson.com. There was a fight by Wall Street led by J.P. Morgan. America had a central bank until 1913 – the Treasury. Until 1913 the Treasury was doing everything that the Federal Reserve began to do. The idea of creating the Federal Reserve was to take power away from the Treasury. The Treasury wasn't even allowed to be on the board as an owner of Federal Reserve stock. The idea was to take decision-making away from Washington, away from democratic politics, and insulate the financial system from the democratic political system by turning control over to the corporate financial centers -- Wall Street, Chicago, and the other Federal Reserve districts. They were the same districts as those that the Treasury already had divided the country into. Remember, these were the decades leading up to World War I when there was a social democratic revolution from Europe to the United States. A guiding idea was to democratize banking.

Wall Street very quickly developed a counter strategy to this. And the counter strategy was the Federal Reserve. You're welcome to republish my article on your site. You and I both aim to reverse the counterrevolution mounted against classical economics and social democracy. The entity you're talking about would probably be under the aegis of the Treasury. You'd be putting the economy back in the direction that the world was moving before World War I derailed these efforts.

ORDER IT NOW

You talk of nationalizing the Fed. I know people don't like the word nationalizing. How about thing de-privatizing or de-Thatcherizing the Fed? You have to represent the Fed as having stolen economic and financial policy away from the public domain. It became part of the neoliberal project taking form in Austria in the 1930s. You're trying to restore the classical economic vision of productive versus unproductive credit, productive versus unproductive labor, and public money as opposed to private money. These distinctions were erased by the censorial neoliberal counter-revolution.

It's not that you're radical, that these people had a radical revolution to carve away the financial system from democracy. And you're restoring the classical vision of democratizing, re-democratizing finance and banking.

Walt McRee: [00:14:12] I want to thank you for saying that, Michael, because de-privatizing the Federal Reserve is so much more accurate and powerful. You'll recall that we kind of exchanged a phrase when I said "institutionalized deception.". I think that's really important. But let's say that prior to that, Stephanie Kelton gets in there, or somebody from the MMT crowd gets into a new administration prior to de-privatizing the Fed. Does MMT have a place to play or to emerge in that environment?

Michael Hudson: [00:14:55] Of course, and here's the role: You can leave the commercial banks to do what they're doing, but you're not going to provide Federal Reserve credit for them to load down the economy with unproductive debt. The question is, if you're going to create real community banking via a public banking sector, where will it get the money to lend out? How do we provide money to the red-lined areas of the economy to actually finance tangible capital investment and people's living needs, not just predatory lending? The way that MMT comes in is much like the Chicago plan for one hundred percent reserves. These community banks will need Treasury-created depository credit beyond the deposits they raise in their local areas.

They need more money. MMT will provide credit to these banks in exchange for their loan originations of a productive character, on terms that borrowers can afford, with realistic mortgages also to build public housing. The new Fed that we're talking about will be a major depositor and will provider of the capital deposits and reserves to the banks. Right now, it has provided $4 trillion of Quantitative Easing credit to the banks, not to put into the economy but only to inflate the stock and bond market and make housing more expensive. Wouldn't it be much better to provide credit to community banks that actually would make credit available for productive economic purposes – and not for takeover loans, stock buybacks and asset speculation?

Productive credit was what everybody expected banking to develop in the late 19th century. Germany and Central Europe were leading the way. It was called Middle Europa banking, as opposed to Anglo-American banking. (I discuss this contrast in Killing the Host .) That was essentially following the classical model, as everybody expected banking to evolve prior to World War I.

Ellen Brown: [00:17:29] Cool. That's totally what I also wrote about in my latest book. The Federal Reserve is where you should be getting credit, so you don't have to borrow it from somewhere else. Everybody thinks this whole repo thing is so contrived. It's re-hypothecated. One party owns the collateral at night, the other party owns it during the day. It's all just bluff to make it look like they borrowed something that wasn't really there. So let's just acknowledge that all money is just credit. And like you say, if you have a good loan, a good project to be monetized, that's the whole point of a bank. It will turn your future productivity into something you can spend in the marketplace. And the central bank is there to provide the credit.

Michael Hudson: [00:18:21] That's right.

Ellen Brown: [00:18:22] Turn it into dollars.

Michael Hudson: [00:18:24] That's right. My way of describing it is to look at history, to show that this is not a utopian idea. It is what made German and Central European banking so much more productive in the decades leading up to World War I. So we actually have historical examples of good banking versus bad banking. But the predators won in the end.

Ellen Brown: [00:18:53] Well, regarding this whole repo thing, one big problem we have with our public banks is the 110 percent collateralization requirement in California. How is a bank supposed to make loans if it has to use its deposits to buy securities – something safe and yielding low interest to back the deposits? It seems to me that what the big banks do – and I think we could do it, too – is to take those deposits and buy federal securities at 1.5 percent, and then they turn around and use the securities as collateral in the repo market, where they pay 1.5 percent. In other words, they earn 1.5 percent and they pay 1.5 percent. So it's a wash. They get their money for free. I think we could do that, too. Or are only certain players allowed to play that game, and we can't jump in?

Michael Hudson: [00:19:50] Well, you're the lawyer. Of course they could do it. I think one of the things that you and other progressives have recommended is that the Fed should stop paying money to the banks for their reserve deposits. Stop giving them the free giveaway. If you want to say, "We're against the largest welfare recipients in the country. They're not the people you think. They're the Wall Street banks. These hypocrites want to cut back Social Security to balance the budget. They want to cut back medical care and social services, and make themselves the only welfare recipients."

Ellen Brown: [00:20:30] Right, agreed. But if we just stand on our high horse and say this has to change, nothing will happen. We could do it ourselves and just show what you're doing in contrast to what they're doing

ORDER IT NOW

Michael Hudson: [00:20:44] You're asking for symmetry. They're making us carry a big load on our back, that they don't have to carry. They're loading the dice in their own favor. You want to unload the dice and stop the insider favoritism. You correctly represent the banks as being insiders. You have to say, "Look, these insiders are trying to keep a monopoly." You could use the anti-monopoly legislation that's been on the books since Teddy Roosevelt's time. You have a lot of legal power to break up the big banks. You could treat them like I think they could treat the pharmaceutical companies if Bernie gets in.

Walt McRee: [00:21:44] Monopolies are being challenged by the shadow banking industry. New forms of payment exchange technologies seem to be eating away at that singular source of credit. What's your prognosis for how that's going to evolve? Will the big banks find a way to clamp down on that ultimately?

Michael Hudson: [00:22:05] Are we talking about cryptocurrency?

Walt McRee: [00:22:07] That would be one example, yes.

Michael Hudson: [00:22:10] Well,. you can't stop people from gambling. People think that buying a cryptocurrency is like buying an Andy Warhol etching. Maybe it'll go up in price if a large number of people want it. But basically, it's junk. It's very speculative. It's certainly not stable. It goes up and down. One day there may be a solar flare that's going to wipe out all the bank records for these things. But there is no way to stop people from doing something that seems to be silly or gambling. You certainly will not insure them. So you will not give them any protection against loss. You also will want to insulate the economy from having any transactions in crypto, in these alternative money things that pose a big threat of loss. They are not real money, because the government will not accept payment of cryptocurrencies as taxes or for public goods and services. The government will only accept specified forms of money. You can create any kind of swap or bet. If you want to create the equivalent of a racetrack on horses. You can do it, but that's a financial racetrack. I think there may be taxes on racetracks. They were unregulated for a long time. But Hollywood movies showed that there's a lot of criminalization going on there.

Walt McRee: [00:23:59] We were all amused, well, maybe a little wondering about Max Kaiser. Ellen and I and Tyson Slokum had some time with him over there just before you were at his Brooklyn studio, but Max is into Bitcoin in a big way, and he sees it as the new gold.

Michael Hudson: [00:24:20] He told me that a lot of people watch his show because they're gold bugs or they are interested in Bitcoin. I think he's tried to take a neutral view of it, certainly in our personal conversations. He's not a gold bug and he's not a Bitcoin or other bug. But he said that a lot of people want to find out about it, so he has guests on his show telling people, "Here it is, take your choice." It's part of the new speculative financial landscape, just like swamps are part of landscape for Florida real estate. So he's going to cover the whole spectrum. Reuters produces his shows, and the audience wants to hear about this. So he talks about what they want to hear.

Ellen Brown: [00:25:20] I think he actually does promote Bitcoin. He's heavily invested in it and he was one of the originals, so he's obviously made a lot of money on it.

Michael Hudson: [00:25:29] Okay.

Ellen Brown: [00:25:29] I think he agrees that it can't be a national currency. It's too slow, too expensive, and too environmentally unfriendly. But like you say, it has been a good investment, just like fine art or something that, if people want it, the value goes up. Plus, there's a big black market for it, for trading and things that you don't want the government to know about.

Michael Hudson: [00:25:57] It's a real phenomenon. I know people who benefited from Andy Warhol. So he saw the phenomenon and he seems to have made money, but when Steve Keen and I and others got together with him for a couple of days two months ago, the topic never came up in discussion.

But gold did. I wonder where the gold of Libya went, for instance. Apparently it was all taken and I understand the US gave it to ISIS. Hillary said it had to go to ISIS to act as our Foreign Legion. We gave them Libya's weapons. Some of the gold must have just been taken by the CIA and State Department for dirty tricks for its black operations. Certainly, America wants to prevent any other country or large gold possessor from having enough gold to try to reinstate it as a means of settling balance-of-payments deficits. America runs a large military deficit, so at a certain point, the more money it spends abroad for its 800 military bases, the more gold it would lose. Just like in General de Gaulle's time during the Vietnam War, although actually Germany was taking more gold than France. So America wants to keep the dollar at the center of the world financial system. That really was why it went to war with Libya, because Libya was one of the first countries to de-dollarize and move its currency toward gold. So you're having a group of countries – Russia, China, Iran and others – add gold to their reserves instead of dollars. You're having a de-dollarization move throughout the world to break free from the US ability to do what it did do Iran.

When Iran borrowed in dollars under the Shah, it used Chase Manhattan Bank as its paying agent. It put enough money into the account to pay its foreign debts service. But then the State Department told Chase to screw Iran and refuse to turn over the payment. Now that the Shah wasn't running Iran, once Chase refused to turn over the payment and froze Iran's account, that meant that Iran went into default on the entire dollarized foreign debt. It was liable for a huge amount of capital.

ORDER IT NOW

That was a warning for the rest of the world that no government could safely put its money in an American bank or an American bank branch, or in a British branch that would act as a subsidiary of the Pentagon. Because if you do, the bank can simply force you into default at any time, just like the US CIA can come in and use electronic weaponry to destroy your bank payment-clearing system. That's why the threat of cutting Russia and China and other countries off from the Swift Interbank Clearing System led Russia to develop its own clearing system. With a flick of a switch it can begin to work anytime United States tries to cut Russia off from the SWIFT payments system. So you're having the whole world de-dollarize very quickly. And right now the question is what Europe will choose. Are Germany and other countries going to become part of the de-dollarized system, or remain part of the dollar area?

This is part of the fight against using the IT chips and the communications chips from Huawei. Huawei did not put US spyware into the system. The United States says that if it can't have a phone system and communications system that it can control by spyware and use to blow up your economy, your public utilities, your electrical systems, then you're our enemy, because we feel insecure without this control. When President Trump said that Huawei was a threat to US national security, he meant that we don't feel secure unless we have the power to destroy any economy that acts in any way that is independent of the United States – because you might do something we don't like. This is the most aggressive concept of security that one could imagine. So of course the rest of the world is seeing its own national security as having a financial dimension. The financial dimension is to create a monetary and financial system that minimizes connections to the dollar except to the extent of having to buy and sell dollars to stabilize foreign exchange rate.

Ellen Brown: [00:31:31] There's a lot of talk, even among central bankers, that we need to get off the dollar as a global reserve currency. But it seems to me that gold is also manipulatable. I mean, it's not the ideal I had envisioned a system where instead of reserves being a thing, like dollars or gold that you can actually trade, it would just be a measure, like a yardstick. You would be able to compare one currency to another according to what you could buy with it. Like you'd have a whole basket of things that everybody uses in every country. And now that they report that kind of stuff, it wouldn't be all that hard to get the figures and, you know, just compare and say, well, your dollar will be worth so many pesos in Mexico or whatever. That was my idea, but what do you think?

Michael Hudson: [00:32:27] That would meet one of the criteria of money, which is as a measure of value, but it would not do at all for international money. You have to have some means of constraint. In other words, suppose the United States continued to run another military budget deficit like it did in the Vietnam War. There is no way that you could use the balance of payments as a constraint on the policy of deficit countries, which are usually the military aggressors. The whole idea of going off gold was that under the gold standard no country can afford to make war, because if you go to war your currency collapses. In 1976, Herman Kahn and I went to the Treasury and – this is to answer your question. He put up a map of the world and said, "These are the countries – Scandinavia, Western Europe, the United States – that don't believe in gold. They're all politically stable social democratic countries. They have faith in government. No look at these others here's the rest of the world – India, South America, Africa and most of Asia. these are people that believe in gold. Why do they believe in gold, but not the Protestant cultural area? Well, they don't have faith in government. They don't trust governments. They want some option that is independent of government. Gold is not only to bribe the border guards if they're escaping from somewhere. They want to be free of governments that have been captured by anti-democratic, predatory forces."

He said if you tried to think of what you would make that is an alternative to the dollar that people could understand, well, for thousands of years, people have decided that gold and silver. (I'm sure that you could add platinum and palladium.) So they have been the ultimate means of settlement, and hence of international monetary constraint.

Gold isn't to be used as money. It's not to be used as a normal means of payment. What it is to be used for is as a balance-of-payments constraint on the ability of countries to run up chronic deficits that are mainly military in character. So I called our presentation "Gold: the Peaceful Metal." Well, needless to say, the Treasury didn't go for that, because they said that we had just explained how super-imperialism works via the dollar. So they didn't go back to gold. We lost that argument.

Ellen Brown: [00:35:34] Isn't the reason we went off gold standard, though, that there simply isn't enough gold and that we wound up leveraging it, and

Michael Hudson: [00:35:42] No, there's plenty of gold. There wasn't enough gold to pay for the military deficit. Every month the dollars we spent in Vietnam would be turned over to the banks in Indo-China. They were French. They'd turn the dollars over to Paris and General de Gaulle would turn in these dollars for gold. We had to pay in gold for the military deficit, which was the entire source of the US balance-of-payments deficits in the 50s, 60s and into the 70s. America went off gold so that it could afford to wage war without the constraint of losing its control over the international monetary system.

Ellen Brown: [00:36:29] We went after gold domestically because it didn't work. I mean, you had to use fractional reserve lending

Michael Hudson: [00:36:35] Yes, of course gold doesn't work domestically. It's certainly not an appropriate domestic money supply. I'm only talking about it for settlements among central banks internationally.

Ellen Brown: [00:36:49] But you said it's not to be traded. But if you don't, how do you settle your balance of payments?

ORDER IT NOW

Michael Hudson: [00:36:53] It can be traded. There is a market. And you began by saying, quite correctly, that gold prices are manipulated. Well, right now the US and the central banks are manipulating its price to keep it low, in the same way that they're manipulating the stock and bond market by buying forward. Except in the case of gold, they're selling forward. If they keep agreeing to sell gold at a very low price, people will see that if they can buy gold at this low price, why should they buy it at a higher price today, as the price will fall and be driven down. So, yes, gold is manipulated downwards today by the U.S. – essentially the plunge protection team acting internationally to keep the price of gold down to discourage other countries and populations from buying it is protection against collapse of the financial system.

So we're back to the fact that the financial system is dysfunctional. In a functional financial system, you wouldn't need domestic reference to gold. You'd have a domestic financial system that works fine without gold. Gold is what you have when the financial system becomes dysfunctional and there's a breakdown.

Ellen Brown: [00:38:21] Well, it almost seems like you need some sort of global regulator. But that's like a one-world government, which we all freak out about.

Michael Hudson: [00:38:28] You certainly don't want a one world government. Right now all the plans for world government are neoliberal. They aim essentially to limit, to break up democratic government regulation of corporate business, mining and monopolies. The idea of a one-world government is to destroy any democratic government's ability to make its own laws in the interests of labor or society. You would have a parallel government of wealth, government of property. It's what the University of Chicago calls the Law and Economics regime. And this is, this is fascism on an international scale. And there is a wonderful book by Quinn Slobodian in 2008, Globalists: The End of Empire and the Birth of Nationalism , showing how these plans were developed by fascists in the 1930s and by the fascist promoters at the University of Chicago. The fascist promoters were people like Hayek and von Mises and the Geneva economists around the League of Nations. So when they say they're anti-government, they're really anti-democracy. They're for an iron-fisted government by big business, big mining and big oil – and most of all, by big banks. That is the reason why people don't trust an international government. It would be an international iron fist of fascism, the way the current maneuvering of the financial classes and the rentier classes and the neocons have arranged things.

Ellen Brown: [00:39:56] Well, I totally agree. It's quite frightening. We want sovereignty for all our little nations, and even our little cities, states and so forth. But it seems to me, how do you get everybody to work together? For example, Venezuela has the debt problem that any country has that's heavily in debt to foreigners, or to vulture funds or whatever. There's not a universally recognized court that you can go to. And, you know, everybody agrees. It does seem like on some level we need some sort of collaborative effort where we all agree on the rules.

Michael Hudson: [00:40:33] Absolutely right. Now, of course, the United States would not recognize any international court. So, again, you'd have all the rest of the world belonging to the court, and the United States as the outlier. It's like you're the healthy body and we want to parasitize you. And it will not recognize the court. My Super-Imperialism reviews the history of this policy.

But you're right: There should be a court that would recognize such things as odious debt for governments. Venezuela's problem is that under the dictators that the Americans had installed by assassination and force, Venezuela had pledged its oil reserves as collateral for its international bonds. That gives a vested interest in the creditors to make it default and grab its oil reserves and its investments in the United States, the oil distributors it bought. So, yes, you do need a set of international rules for writing down bad debts. That means an alternative to the IMF. You need an anti-IMF. Instead of acting on behalf of the creditors imposing austerity on countries, you should create an organization representing society. And s the interest of society is to grow. Instead of promoting austerity like the IMF does, it would promote prosperity. Instead of financing the US government dollarization and giving US control, it would be part of the de-dollarization group.

So you'd have a pro-growth group of nations – of the world economy – using finance for growth and development with productive credit. You'd also have the United States providing predatory credit, austerity, cutting back Social Security, cutting back Medicare and having a polarizing economy that is shrinking and will end up looking like Greece or Argentina. The rest of the world would follow more productive and less oligarchic financial policies. That should ultimately be our global dream. But there's been little preparation for that. The financial sector's neoliberals have o put together an almost conspiratorial Law and Economics lobbying group to promote the Trans-Pacific Partnership and World Trade Organization rules blocking governments from imposing anti-pollution fines or regulating monopolies or closing tax havens. If you fine an oil company for polluting, the government is obliged under this international law to pay the oil companies what they would have earned if they would have continued to poison the environment. This is

Ellen Brown: [00:43:41] Shocking.

Michael Hudson: [00:43:41] Definitely. This is an international deathwish.

Ellen Brown: [00:43:45] Agreed. Totally agreed.

Walt McRee: [00:43:47] We've been speaking with economist Michael Hudson. Our thanks to him for being on this program again. And you'll be hearing more from Michael on future editions of It's Our Money.

Walt McRee: [00:43:59] Well, that's it for this edition of It's Our Money with Ellen Brown. Thanks to our guests or sponsors, Public Banking Associates, and to you for listening. Be sure to check out Ellen's latest writings on the economy and the changing world of money by visiting ellenbrown.com. And for more information on public banking, visit PublicBankingInstitute.org. For information on how local and state governments can obtain professional insight and council about public banks from key national experts, visit PublicBankingAssociates.com. I'm Walt McRee. See you next time on It's our Money with Ellen Brown.

Notes

[1] "How the U.S. Treasury avoided Chronic Deflation by Relinquishing Monetary Control to Wall Street," Economic & Political Weekly (India), May 7, 2016. Available on Naked Capitalism an michael-hudson.com.

animalogic , says: Show Comment March 13, 2020 at 8:51 am GMT

@dc.sunsets "This is why those who promise to "Plan" economic prosperity are liars and fools, for they have the PRETENSE of knowledge, nothing more. "
Of course, this point is true -- but its posed as an absolute. No government can "plan" an entire economy -- we know this from the failings of the USSR etc. But nor can economies be totally unplanned. The US is not an unplanned economy: its an economy planned by the 1% for the 1%.
Modern economies are "mixed". There is coordinated planning between the public & private sector.
Sadly the US Gov' has renounced its responsibilities to "plan". Had the US Gov "planned" it would never have allowed key industries, knowledge & talent to be off shored to China. Such off shoring was a private plan by the 1% for the 1%. Worked well -- for them.
Robert White , says: Show Comment March 13, 2020 at 4:54 pm GMT
Adding complexity to an already far too complex system merely hastens blow out of distributions that are skewed fat tails and stressed to a breaking point of systemic failure. Greenspan purposely built a complex financial empire of asset inflation to replace Volcker's fiscal prudence & macroprudential professionalism system wide.

Once Greenspan has locked in the asset inflation regime & deregulated Glass-Steagall Act it was off to the races on a credit card for the largest parasite in the financial empire governing by force.

On September 10th 2001 Donald Rumsfeld announced to the world that the ever incompetent Pentagon had misplaced $1.3 trillion USD of taxpayer money. On September 11th 2001 Donald Rumsfeld took part in a clandestine covert US Military operation to assassinate all of the principle investigators & forensic Chartered Accountants that were about to uncover the crimes taking place under Donald Rumsfeld's directorship as Pentagon executive.

The USA has always been a system of fraud by stealth of US Military force thugsterism & all out fascist behaviour.

Great synthesis by Hudson IMHO.

[Mar 10, 2020] Welcome to America, haven for the Gangs of New York and Grifters about town.

Mar 10, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Bubbles , Mar 9 2020 22:12 utc | 62

New York Federal Reserve Bank announced Monday it will increase its daily injections of cash into financial markets by $50 billion to $150 billion as a protective step amid #coronavirus epidemic.

https://twitter.com/PDChina/status/1237020467652935680

I see your tangible assets bet and raise another $50 billion per day of presto digitizer created out of thin air fiat.

Because I CAN!

Now what are you going to do about it huh?

If you crash our ponzi scheme, who are you going to sell your oil and gas to?


That said, in periods of past extreme economic turmoil folks like Steve Mnuchin, with the trophy British wife, aka The King of Foreclosure, made out like bandits. He's now duce Trump's Secretary of the Treasury. The prior Republican standard bearer, the Mitt, was also a Vulture who participated in the hollowing out of the American Industrial Heartland, for profit.

A life long con man and grifter coupled up with a Jewish vulture capitalist leading a phony charge to Make America Great Again...?

A script that writes itself.

Sadly..the supposed opposition are also beholding to AIPAC, and it's dictates.

Chuck Schumer says he was appointed by God to be the Guardian of Israel. It's true, and confirmation is available on the web.

Is he an American or an Israeli? No one should be allowed to be both, should they? Am I right or wrong?


Why just look at the good ole boys Netanyahu's very good friend , Tabloid Star and huckster about town the donald to see who is really the Bossman of Murika's gun toting Patriots.

Pretty sad really when you think about it. A Country that ravaged it's indigenous people to break the land open for settlers of European descent, only to have it fall into the clutches of a tiny tribe of foreigners who never put skin the game and came in with their gangsterism and were always about accumulation of wealth and power for themselves.

Welcome to America, haven for the Gangs of New York and Grifters about town.

[Mar 09, 2020] COVID-19 burst the asset price bubble. In a new low, Pompeo passes buck to Beijing

Mar 09, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

CitizenX , Mar 9 2020 2:58 utc | 57

"Perhaps this will finally burst the out-of-control asset price bubble and drop-kick the Outlaw US Empire's economy into the sewer as the much lower price will rapidly slow the recycling of what remains of the petrodollar. Looks like Trump's reelection push just fell into a massive sinkhole as the economy will tank."

Posted by: karlof1 | Mar 9 2020 1:29 utc | 49
....

Call me crazy- but this Virus provides great cover as to why the economy plummets, the Murikan sheeple will eat it up. Prepare for the double media blitz on the virus AND the economy tanking as its result.

Don't worry...just continue to go shopping and take those selfies.


vk , Mar 9 2020 3:37 utc | 60

Pompeo accuses China of giving "imperfect data" on COVID-19, blame it for US failure in containing the virus:

In new low, Pompeo passes buck to Beijing

It will be hard for the American people to swallow that one. From day 1 I've read a lot of "articles" and "papers" from know-it-all Western doctors and researchers from commenters here in this blog, all of them claiming to have very precise and definitive data on what was happening. A lot of bombastic conclusions I've read here (including one that claimed R0 was through the roof - it's funny how the R0 is being played down after it begun to infect the West; suddenly, it's all just a stronger cold...).

And that's just here, in MoA's comment section. Imagine what was being published in the Western MSM. I wouldn't be surprised there was a lot of rednecks popping their beers celebrating the fall of China already.

--//--

China to back global virus fight with production boost

Since China allegedly had a lot of idle industrial capacity - that is, if we take the Western MSM theories seriously (including the fabled "ghost towns" stories) - then boosting production wouldn't be a problem to China.

Disclaimer: it's normal for any kind of economy - socialist or capitalist - to have a certain percentage of idle capacity. That's necessary in order to insure the economy against unexpected oscillations in demand and to give space of maneuvre for future technological progress. Indeed, that was one of the USSR's mistakes with its economy: they instinctly thought unemployment should be zero, and waste should also be zero, so they planned in a way all the factories always sought to operate at 100% capacity. That became a problem when better machines and better methods were invented, since the factory manager wouldn't want to stop production so that his factory would fall behind the other factories in the five-year plan's goals. So, yes, China indeed has idle capacity - but it is mainly proposital, not a failure of its socialist planning.

--//--

... ... ...

vk , Mar 9 2020 3:56 utc | 61
This is important. The only reason I didn't comment about it is I hadn't the data:

Follow the money: Understanding China's battle against COVID-19

By the latest count, in addition to yuan loans worth 113 billion U.S. dollars granted by financial institutions and more than 70 billion U.S. dollars paid out by insurance companies, the Chinese government has allocated about 13 billion U.S. dollars to counter fallout from the outbreak.

The numbers could look abstract. However, breaking the data down reveals how the money is being carefully targeted. The government is allocating the money based on a thorough evaluation of the system's strengths.

...

Local governments are equipped with more local knowledge that allows them to surgically support key manufacturers or producers that are struggling.

Together, they have borne the bulk of the financial responsibility with an allocation of equivalently more than nine billion U.S. dollars. It is carefully targeted, divided into hundreds of thousands of individual grants that are tailor-made by and for each county, town, city and business.

This is the mark of a socialist system.

The affected capitalist countries will simply use monetary devices (so the private sector can offset the losses) and burn their own reserves with non-profitable palliatives such as masks, tests, other quarantine infrastructure etc.

Pft , Mar 9 2020 4:44 utc | 64
Sounds like US socialism. Basically corporate socialism. Loans are just dollars created out of thin air, same as in US. Insurance payouts come from premiums, nothing socialist about that, pure capitalism. Government hand outs to provinces, cities, state owned corporations,well all of these are run by the party elite, its called pork. US handed out a lot of pork during the last financial crisis. None of it trickled down to the little people. I doubt it does in China either.

All crisis are opportunities for the elite to get richer. Those Biolake firms in Wuhan will make out like bandits. Chinese firms will double the price of API's sold to India and US. China will knock out the small farmer in the wake of concurrent chicken and swine flu so the big enterprises take over, a mimicry of the US practice over the last century. China tech firms will double up on surveillance apps, censoring tools, surveillance and toughen up social credit restrictions. 5G will allow China to experiment with nanobots to monitor citizens health from afar (thanks to Harvards Dr Leiber).

Oh yes, socialism with Chinese characteristics is a technocratic capitalists dream. Thats why the West has never imposed sanctions on China since welcoming them to the global elites club. Sanctions are reserved for those with true socialism, especially those who preach equality and god forbid, democracy.

uncle tungsten , Mar 9 2020 8:35 utc | 83

CitizenX #57

Call me crazy- but this Virus provides great cover as to why the economy plummets, the Murikan sheeple will eat it up. Prepare for the double media blitz on the virus AND the economy tanking as its result.


Don't forget the Russians.. They have to be to blame. See they just kept the price of oil low so now the rest of the world gets gas cheaper than the USA. The USA motorist now has to bail out the dopey frackers and shale oil ponzis.

Global envy will eat murica. Maybe they will just pull out all their troops and go home. ;)

[Mar 06, 2020] Over eighty percent of the medicines used in the United States are manufactured in China

Mar 06, 2020 | www.unz.com

Anon 2 , says: Show Comment February 25, 2020 at 5:39 am GMT

As far as I know, no one here has mentioned that because of the globalization drive by Clinton, Bush, and Obama, 85% of the medicines used in the United States are manufactured in China. Even U.S. troops depend on medicines from China! China could bring the entire health system in the U.S. to a stop in a matter of months. This is what our inept elites have done to America – they gave away the shop. People are beginning to realize that manufacturing our own medicines is a matter of national security but it'll take years to bring the factories back to the U.S. So much for globalization.

Rod Dreher's blog IMHO is the best source for quick info on the coronavirus because he is in touch with American M.D.'s who are married to women from China who in turn are in contact with relatives at home and the Chinese media. Of course, Rod himself can be hysterical at times but, apparently, that's what it takes to have a successful blog. The M.D.'s are reporting that the U.S. is already beginning to run out of certain medications, and recommend stocking up on the basic necessities, i.e., recommend assuming the mental framework of the survivalists – have plenty of canned goods, etc and refill your prescriptions ASAP. This is what many people here seem to forget – the coronavirus's indirect effects due to having no access to medications may be much worse than the direct pathogenic effects.

[Mar 05, 2020] What is Globalism? Globalism is Neoliberalism which is Corporatism

Mar 05, 2020 | www.reddit.com

The term Globalism has been around from at least the 1960's but its origins come from Cecil Rhodes Round Tables which were set up around 1900 as a mechanism for Rhodes and his allies from the British and South African Oligarchs to take over the world. Globalism is another term for Neoliberalism, which is another term for Corporatism. It is principally pushed by Fake Liberals who pretend to be lefties, but are actually Corporatists or Corporate Fascists.

Globalism

The aim of Globalism is to transfer all power and wealth from ordinary people to a handful of Banking Elites, Oligarchs and major Corporate CEO's. The ultimate aim is to set up an anti democratic, authoritarian one world government where ordinary people are effectively serfs and have no say, in a system of Neo-Feudalism. We are very nearly already there.

This is being constantly carried out by transferring ever increasing powers from elected local governments to massive governmental Super States, such as the EU or the Federal government in Washington DC.

A great example of a Globalist policy was Obama's Corporate Power Grab TPP and TTIP, Corporate protectionist deals, which transferred power from elected legislatures to transnational tribunals staffed by Corporate lawyers acting as Judge and Jury.

TPP, TISA and TTIP agreements are massive Corporate power grabs dressed up as trade deals http://ian56.blogspot.com/2015/11/tpp-tisa-and-ttip-agreements-are.html

"Neo-libs" are NOT Centrists. They are extremist supporters of Perpetual War, Corruption, Corporatism, Authoritarianism & the Transfer of all wealth & power from ordinary ppl to the Oligarchs & CEOs in the top 0.01%.

What is Globalism? Clue: Its NOT what the Corporate Establishment tells you it is http://ian56.blogspot.com/2017/11/what-is-globalism.html

Neoliberalism. The ideology that dare not speak its name is actually a New, More Dangerous, Form of Corporatism http://www.softpanorama.org/Skeptics/Political_skeptic/Neoliberalism/index.shtml

[Mar 04, 2020] Why Are We Being Charged? Surprise Bills From Coronavirus Testing Spark Calls for Government to Cover All Costs by Jake Johnson

Highly recommended!
Notes of disaster capitalism in action...
Notable quotes:
"... The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is not billing patients for coronavirus testing, according to Business Insider . "But there are other charges you might have to pay, depending on your insurance plan, or lack thereof," Business Insider noted. "A hospital stay in itself could be costly and you would likely have to pay for tests for other viruses or conditions." ..."
"... Congress needs to immediately pass a bill appropriating funding to cover 100% of the cost of all coronavirus testing & care within the United States. We will not have a chance at containing it otherwise. @tedlieu - as my rep, can you please ensure this is brought up? ..."
"... In the case of the Wucinskis, Kliff reported that "the ambulance company that transported [them] charged the family $2,598 for taking them to the hospital." ..."
"... Last week, the Miami Herald reported that Osmel Martinez Azcue "received a notice from his insurance company about a claim for $3,270" after he visited a local hospital fearing that he contracted coronavirus during a work trip to China. ..."
"... Did anyone expect the unconscionable greed of capitalism to cease when a public health crisis emerges? This is just testing for the virus, wait until a vaccine has been developed so expensive that the majority of the US populace can not afford it at all and people are dropping like flies. Wall Street, never-the-less, will continue to have its heydays ..."
"... The very idea that the defense and "Homeland" security budgets are bloated and additional funding approved year after year but the citizens of this country are not afforded 100% health coverage In a time of global health crisis that could become a pandemic. ..."
Mar 03, 2020 | www.commondreams.org

"Huge surprise medical bills [are] going to make sure people with symptoms don't get tested. That is bad for everyone." by Jake Johnson, staff writer Public health advocates, experts, and others are demanding that the federal government cover coronavirus testing and all related costs after several reports detailed how Americans in recent weeks have been saddled with exorbitant bills following medical evaluations.

Sarah Kliff of the New York Times reported Saturday that Pennsylvania native Frank Wucinski "found a pile of medical bills" totaling $3,918 waiting for him and his three-year-old daughter after they were released from government-mandated quarantine at Marine Corps Air Station in Miramar, California.

"My question is why are we being charged for these stays, if they were mandatory and we had no choice in the matter?" asked Wucinski, who was evacuated by the U.S. government last month from Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak.

"I assumed it was all being paid for," Wucinski told the Times . "We didn't have a choice. When the bills showed up, it was just a pit in my stomach, like, 'How do I pay for this?'"

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is not billing patients for coronavirus testing, according to Business Insider . "But there are other charges you might have to pay, depending on your insurance plan, or lack thereof," Business Insider noted. "A hospital stay in itself could be costly and you would likely have to pay for tests for other viruses or conditions."

Lawrence Gostin, a professor of global health law at Georgetown University, told the Times that

"the most important rule of public health is to gain the cooperation of the population."

"There are legal, moral, and public health reasons not to charge the patients,"

Gostin said.

Congress needs to immediately pass a bill appropriating funding to cover 100% of the cost of all coronavirus testing & care within the United States. We will not have a chance at containing it otherwise. @tedlieu - as my rep, can you please ensure this is brought up?

-- William LeGate (@williamlegate) March 2, 2020

In the case of the Wucinskis, Kliff reported that "the ambulance company that transported [them] charged the family $2,598 for taking them to the hospital."

"An additional $90 in charges came from radiologists who read the patients' X-ray scans and do not work for the hospital," Kliff noted.

The CDC declined to respond when Kliff asked whether the federal government would cover the costs for patients like the Wucinskis.

The Intercept 's Robert Mackey wrote last Friday that the Wucinskis' situation spotlights "how the American government's response to a public health emergency, like trying to contain a potential coronavirus epidemic, could be handicapped by relying on a system built around private hospitals and for-profit health insurance providers."

We should be doing everything we can to encourage people with #COVIDー19 symptoms to come forward. Huge surprise medical bills is going to make sure people with symptoms don't get tested. That is bad for everyone, regardless of if you are insured. https://t.co/KOUKTSFVzD

-- Saikat Chakrabarti (@saikatc) March 1, 2020

Play this tape to the end and you find people not going to the hospital even if they're really sick. The federal government needs to announce that they'll pay for all of these bills https://t.co/HfyBFBXhja

Last week, the Miami Herald reported that Osmel Martinez Azcue "received a notice from his insurance company about a claim for $3,270" after he visited a local hospital fearing that he contracted coronavirus during a work trip to China.

"He went to Jackson Memorial Hospital, where he said he was placed in a closed-off room," according to the Herald . "Nurses in protective white suits sprayed some kind of disinfectant smoke under the door before entering, Azcue said. Then hospital staff members told him he'd need a CT scan to screen for coronavirus, but Azcue said he asked for a flu test first."

Azcue tested positive for the flu and was discharged. "Azcue's experience shows the potential cost of testing for a disease that epidemiologists fear may develop into a public health crisis in the U.S.," the Herald noted.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, highlighted Azcue's case in a tweet last Friday.

"The coronavirus reminds us that we are all in this together," Sanders wrote. "We cannot allow Americans to skip doctor's visits over outrageous bills. Everyone should get the medical care they need without opening their wallet -- as a matter of justice and public health."

Last week, as Common Dreams reported , Sanders argued that the coronavirus outbreak demonstrates the urgent need for Medicare for All.

The coronavirus reminds us that we are all in this together. We cannot allow Americans to skip doctor's visits over outrageous bills.

Everyone should get the medical care they need without opening their wallet -- as a matter of justice and public health. https://t.co/c4WQMDESHU

-- Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) February 28, 2020

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. surged by more than two dozen over the weekend, bringing the total to 89 as the Trump administration continues to publicly downplay the severity of the outbreak.

Dr. Matt McCarthy, a staff physician at NewYork–Presbyterian Hospital, said in an appearance on CNBC 's "Squawk Box" Monday morning that testing for the coronavirus is still not widely available.

"Before I came here this morning, I was in the emergency room seeing patients," McCarthy said. "I still do not have a rapid diagnostic test available to me."

"I'm here to tell you, right now, at one of the busiest hospitals in the country, I don't have it at my finger tips," added McCarthy. "I still have to make my case, plead to test people. This is not good. We know that there are 88 cases in the United States. There are going to be hundreds by middle of week. There's going to be thousands by next week. And this is a testing issue."

Our work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License. Feel free to republish and share widely.


Harry_Pjotr 13h

Did anyone expect the unconscionable greed of capitalism to cease when a public health crisis emerges? This is just testing for the virus, wait until a vaccine has been developed so expensive that the majority of the US populace can not afford it at all and people are dropping like flies. Wall Street, never-the-less, will continue to have its heydays

Smerl fern 12h

A wall street bank or private predator may own your emergency room. A surprise bill may await your emergency treatment above insurance payments or in some instances all of the bill.

An effort was made recently in congress to stop surprise billings but enough dems joined repubs to kill it. More important to keep campaign dollars flowing than keep people alive. fern Smerl 12h I know emergency rooms are being purchased by organizations like Tenet (because they are some of the most expensive levels of care) and M.D.s provided by large agencies. I'm not as up on this as I should be but a friend of mine tells me that some of this is illegal. I have received bills that were later discharged by challenge. This is worth investigating further. Atlas oldie 11h Hmmmm A virus that overwhelmingly kills the elderly and/or those with pre-exisitng conditions.

Sounds like a medical insurance companies wet dream. As well as .gov social security/medicare wet dream.

Just sayin'

Ticki 11h

The very idea that the defense and "Homeland" security budgets are bloated and additional funding approved year after year but the citizens of this country are not afforded 100% health coverage In a time of global health crisis that could become a pandemic. And as has been stated, the unconscionable idea suggested that a possible vaccine (a long way away or perhaps not developed at all) might not be affordable to the workers who pay the taxes that fund the government? That's insane.

leftonadoorstep 11h

Another example of "American Exceptionalism." China doesn't charge its coronavirus patients, neither does South Korea. I guess they are simply backward countries.

Barton 11h

I own my own home after years of hard work paying it off. It's the only thing of value, besides my old truck, that I have. If I get the virus, I will stay home and try to treat it the best I can. I can't afford to go to the hospital and pay thousands in medical bills, with the chance that they'll come after my possessions. America, the land of the _______. Fill in the blank. (Hint: it's no longer free).

fern 1 Barton 11h

There are other ways to protect your home. Homesteading or living trust. I'm not good at this but I know there are ways to do it. Hopefully, it would never come to that but outcomes are not certain even with treatment in this case.

Giovanna-Lepore oldie 11h

As someone who lost a mother at 5 years old I can sympathize with your grief in losing a daughter-in-law and especially seeing her four children orphaned. However, I think you miss the point here: This is about we becoming a society invested in each others welfare and not a company town that commodifies everything including the health and well being of us all.

fern 1 Giovanna-Lepore 11h

I'm going by: https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/senate-bill/1129/text

As a revision it is better but flawed. It is a cost containment bill based on the same research as the republican plan with global budgets and block grants.

Edited: I encourage you to read this:
-ttps://www.rand.org/blog/2018/10/misconceptions-about-medicare-for-all.html Giovanna-Lepore 10h oldie:

Part D

Higher education is not free but they do need to become free for the students and payed by us as a society.

Part D is a scam, a Republican scam also supported by corporate democrats because of its profit motive and its privatization

Medicare only covers 80% and does not cover eye and dental care and older folks especially need these services. Medicaid helps but there are limits and one cannot necessarily use it where one needs to go. Expanded, Improved Medicare For All is a vast improvement. because it covers everyone in one big pool and, therefore, much more dignified than the rob Paul to pay peter system we have.

Social Security too can be improved. Why should it simply be based on the income of the person which means that a person working in a low paying job in a capitalist system gone wild with greed will often work until they die.

Pell grants can be eliminated when we have what the French have: publicly supported education for everyone.

The demise of unions certainly did not help but it was part of the long strategy of the Right to privatize everything to the enrichment of the few.

Yunzer SuspiraDeProfundis 10h

Thank goodness for the "/s". Poe's Law you know

The overall competence that Canada is handling this outbreak, compared to the USA, is stark. First world (Canada) versus third-world (USA). Testing is practically available for free, to any suspect person, sick or not, as Toronto alone can run 1000 tests a day and have results in 4 hours. That is far more than all the US's capacity for 330 million people.

I wonder how long before Canada closes its borders to USAns? Me and my wife (both in a vulnerable age/medical group) should seriously consider fleeing to my brother's place in Toronto as the first announced cases in Pittsburgh are probably only days away. What about our poor cat though? We could try to smuggle her across the border, but she is a loud and talkative kitty

Greenwich 10h

Don't want to discourage anyone from any protective measures – but the "low down" from my veggie store today was that a lot of health professionals shop there and they think it's being hyped by media. Did get this from my NJ Sen. Menendez –

Center for Disease and Control and Prevention (CDC)

There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, everyday preventive actions can help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases:

  • Wash your hands often
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • For more information : htps://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention-treatment.html
  • How it spreads : The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person. It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads. [Read more.]
    https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/transmission.html )
  • Symptoms : For confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases, reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death. Symptoms can include fever, cough, and shortness of breath.
Seeker 9h Greenwich:

Don't want to discourage anyone from any protective measures – but the "low down" from my veggie store today was that a lot of health professionals shop there and they think it's being hyped by media.

I agree it is being hyped by the media to the point of being fear mongering. At the same time it is being ignored by the administration to such an extent that really little almost nothing is being done. At some point the two together will create an even bigger problem.

It is like the old adage: "Just because you are paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get you." Each over/under reach in considering the reality of the situation has its own problem, which multiply when combined. Every morning when I wake up I say a little atheistic prayer to myself before I get out of bed: "Another day and for better or worse...".

Seeker 8h

Well, two reported here in Florida tonight. One in my county, one in the county next door. And more of the "we already knew, but told you late". One person checked into the hospital on Wednesday. We hear it Monday night. Both were ignored far a long time it seems, and 84 in particular are being watched (roommates, friends, hospital workers not alerted for several days, the usual). But no one knows every place they had been since becoming infected.

Oh, and they have tested a handful of people. No worry?

I can't see anyway that this level of incompetency is an accident. Spring break is just starting usually a 100's of thousand tourist bonanza.

So the question is do they want to kill us, or just keep us in fear?

I think the later. But the end result is a crap shoot. So once again, it is a gamble with our lives.

Archie1954 7h

The business of America is business. Sometimes that can go too far and this is one of those times. Making money from the loss, distress, harm and suffering of others is perverse beyond belief.

[Mar 02, 2020] Why the Coming Economic Collapse Will NOT be Caused by Corona Virus by Matthew Ehret

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... With Glass-Steagall now removed, legitimate capital such as pension funds could be used to start a hedge to end all hedges. Billions were now poured into mortgage-backed securities (MBS), a market which had been artificially plunged to record-breaking interest rate lows of 1-2% for over a year by the US Federal Reserve making borrowing easy, and the returns on the investments into the MBSs obscene. ..."
"... This is the system which died in 2008. Contrary to popular belief, nothing was actually resolved. For all the talk of an "FDR revival" under Obama, speculation wasn't actually regulated under the Dodd-Frank Act or the Volker Rule of 2010. No productive credit was created to grow the real economy under a national mission as was the case in 1933-1938. ..."
"... Banks were not broken up while derivatives GREW by 40% with the new bubble concentrated in the corporate/household debt sector now collapsing. During this time, nation states continued to be stripped, as austerity was rammed down the throats of nations. ..."
"... It should be no surprise that in the midst of this despair, a creative alliance was consolidated in defense of the interests of sovereign nation states and humanity at large led by the leadership of Russia and China. ..."
"... The Eurasian nations are already firmly committed to this new system, and if the west is to qualify morally to take part in this new epoch, then the first step will be a return to a Glass-Steagall. ..."
"... Joe Kennedy was tasked by FDR with creating the regulations to reform Wall Street, thus earning him their undying enmity. ..."
"... Joe Kennedy has therefore had a hard press and been accused of the Corbyn disease of anti-semitisms, and I imagine the same old experts will be lining up to give him another kicking ..."
"... I would venture that the coronavirus rollocks is all a cover for the inevitable economic collapse. ..."
"... At last. Sanity. A brilliantly truthful article. Almost totally agree with this history of how the fuck the fucking bankers got their hands on almost fucking everything. ..."
"... Interesting article, but the conclusions are off. That solution (i.e. return to Glass-Steagall) would have worked 20 , maybe 10 years ago. We are way to passed that point. The looters are now part of the system– no one will embrace Glass-Steal. The system is on life support. ..."
Mar 02, 2020 | off-guardian.org

(Photo by Philip FONG / AFP) (Photo by PHILIP FONG/AFP via Getty Images)

With last Monday's 1000 point stock market plunge the internet has been set ablaze with discussion of a new crash looming on the horizon. The fact that such a chain reaction collapse was only kept at bay due to massive liquidity injections by the Federal Reserve's overnight repo loans should not be ignored.

These injections which began in September 2019, have grown to over $100 billion per night all that to support the largest financial bubble in human history with global derivatives estimated at $1.2 quadrillion (20 times the global GDP!).

Sadly economic illiteracy is so pervasive among today's modern economists that the real reasons for this crisis have been entirely misdiagnosed with financial experts from CNN, to Forbes blaming the volatility on the spread of the Corona virus!

Not the Corona Virus: The real cause of the oncoming Financial collapse.

As refreshing as it is to hear candid criticisms of the system's failure and even support for the restoration of Glass-Steagall bank separation from presidential candidates like Bernie Sanders, Tulsi Gabbard or even the lame Elisabeth Warren we find that in each case, those candidates are on record supporting policies cooked up by the very same oligarchs they appear to despise in the form of the Green New Deal.

In spite of what many of its progressive proponents would wish, such a global green reform would not only impose Malthusian depopulation upon nation states globally were it accepted, but would establish a the supranational authority of a technocratic managerial elite as enforcers of a "de-carbonization agenda".

Due to the rampant lack of comprehension of how this crisis was created such that such idiotic proposals as "green new deals" are now seriously being suggested as remedies to our current ills, a bit of history is in order.

Some necessary background

"The money changers have fled from their high seats in the temple of our civilization. We may now restore that temple to the ancient truths. The measure of the restoration lies in the extent to which we apply social values more noble than mere monetary profit."
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, first Inaugural Address 1933

Knowing that the "money changers" had only been able to create the great bubbles of the 1920s via their access to the deposits of the commercial banks, Franklin Roosevelt made the core of his battle against the abuses of Wall Street centre around a 1933 legislation entitled "Glass-Steagall", named after the two federally elected officials who led the reform with FDR.

This was a bill which forced the absolute separation of productive from speculative banking, guaranteeing via the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) only those commercial banking assets associated with the productive economy, but forcing any speculative losses arising from investment banking to be suffered by the gambler. The striking success of this law inspired other countries around the world to establish similar bank separation.

Alongside principles of capital budgeting, public credit, parity pricing and a commitment to scientific and technological development, a dynamic had been created that would express the greatest hope for the world, and the greatest fear for the financial empire occupying the City of London and Wall Street.

The death of John F. Kennedy ushered in a new age of pessimism and cultural irrationalism from which our society has never recovered. The destruction of a long term vision as exemplified by the space program, the St. Lawrence Seaway and the New Deal projects had resulted in a tendency within the population to increasingly look upon present pleasures as the only reality, and future goods as the mystical expression of the sum of present pleasures.

In this new philosophical setting, so alien in previous epochs, money was permitted to act as a power unto itself for short term gains instead of serving the investments into the real productive wealth of society. With this new paradigm shift into the "now", a new economic model was adopted to replace the industrial economic model which had proven itself in the years preceding and following World War II.

The name for this system was "post-industrial monetarism". This would be a system ushered in by Richard Nixon's announcement of the destruction of the fixed-exchange rate Bretton Woods system and its replacement by the "floating rate" system of post 1971 fame.

During that same fateful year of 1971, another ominous event took place: the formation of the Rothschild Inter-Alpha Group of banks under the umbrella of the Royal Bank of Scotland, which today controls upwards of 70% of the global financial system.

The stated intention of this Group would be found in the 1983 speech by Lord Jacob Rothschild:

"two broad types of giant institutions, the worldwide financial service company and the international commercial bank with a global trading competence, may converge to form the ultimate, all-powerful, many-headed financial conglomerate."

This policy demanded the destruction of the sovereign nation-state system and the imposition of a new feudal structure of world governance through the age-old scheme of controlling the money system on the one side, and playing on the vices of credulous fools who, by allowing their nations to be ruled by the belief that hedonistic market forces govern the world, would seal their own children's doom.

All the while, geopolitical structures foreign to the United States constitutional traditions were imposed by nests of Oxford-trained Rhodes Scholars and Fabians who converted America into a global "dumb giant" enforcing a neo colonial program under a "Anglo-US Special Relationship". The Dulles brothers, McGeorge Bundy, Kissinger, and Bush all represent names that advanced this British directed plan throughout the 20th century.

London's 'Big Bang'

The great "liberalization" of world commerce began with a series of waves through the 1970s, and moved into high gear with the interest rate hikes of Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker in 1980-82, the effects of which both annihilated much of the small and medium sized entrepreneurs, opened the speculative gates into the "Savings and Loan" debacle and also helped cartelize mineral, food, and financial institutions into ever greater behemoths.

Volcker himself described this process as the "controlled disintegration of the US economy" upon becoming Fed Chairman in 1978. The raising of interest rates to 20-21% not only shut down the life blood of much of the US economic base, but also threw the third world into greater debt slavery, as nations now had to pay usurious interest on US loans.

In 1986, the City of London announced the beginning of a new era of economic irrationalism with Margaret Thatcher's "Big Bang" deregulation. This wave of liberalization took the world by storm as it swept aside the separation of commercial, deposit and investment banking which had been the post-world war cornerstone in ensuring that the will of private finance would never again hold more sway than the power of sovereign nation-states.

After decades of chipping away at the structure of regulation that FDR's bold intervention into history had built, the "Big Bang" set a precedent for similar financial de-regulation into the "Universal Banking" model in other parts of the western world.

The Derivative Time Bomb is Set

In September 1987, the 20-year foray into speculation resulted in a 23% collapse of the Dow Jones on October 19, 1987. Within hours of this crash, international emergency meetings had been convened with former JP Morgan tool Alan Greenspan introducing a "solution" which would have the future echoes of hyperinflation and fascism written all over it.

"Creative financial instruments" was the Orwellian name given to the new financial asset popularized by Greenspan, but otherwise known as "derivatives".

New supercomputing technologies were increasingly used in this new venture, not as the support for higher nation building practices, and space exploration programs as their NASA origins intended, but would rather become perverted to accommodate the creation of new complex formulas which could associate values to price differentials on securities and insured debts that could then be "hedged" on those very spot and futures markets made possible via the destruction of the Bretton Woods system in 1971.

So while an exponentially self-generating monster was created that could end nowhere but in a meltdown, "market confidence" rallied back in force with the new flux of easy money. The physical potential to sustain human life continued to plummet.

NAFTA, the Euro and the End of History

It is no coincidence that within this period, another deadly treaty was passed called the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). With this Agreement made law, protective programs that had kept North American factories in the U.S and Canada were struck down, allowing for the export of the lifeblood of highly skilled industrial workforce to Mexico where skills were low, technologies lower, and salaries lower still.

With a stripping of its productive assets, North America became increasingly reliant on exporting cheap resources and services for its means of existence.

Again, the physically productive powers of society would collapse, yet monetary profits in the ephemeral "now" would skyrocket. This was replicated in Europe with the creation of the Maastricht Treaty in 1992 establishing the Euro by 1994 while the "liberalization" process of Perestroika replicated this agenda in the former Soviet Union. While some personalities gave this agenda the name "End of History" and others "the New World Order", the effect was the same.

Universal Banking, NAFTA, Euro integration and the creation of the derivative economy in a space of just several years would induce a cartelization of finance through newly legalized mergers and acquisitions at a rate never before seen. The multitude of financial institutions that had existed in the early 1980s were absorbed into each other at great speed through the 1990s in true "survival of the fittest" fashion. No matter what level of regulation were attempted under this new structure, the degree of conflict of interest, and private political power was uncontrollable, as evidenced in the United States, by the shutdown of any attempt by Securities and Exchange Commission head Brooksley Born to fight the derivative cancer at its early stages.

By 1999 a politically castrated Bill Clinton found himself signing into law a treaty authored by then Treasury Secretary Larry Summers known as the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, which would be the final nail in the coffin for the Glass-Steagall separation of commercial and investment banking in the United States.

The new age of unregulated trading and creation of over-the-counter derivatives caused these strange financial instruments to grow from $60 trillion in 2000 to $600 trillion by 2008.

The 2000-2008 Frenzy

With Glass-Steagall now removed, legitimate capital such as pension funds could be used to start a hedge to end all hedges. Billions were now poured into mortgage-backed securities (MBS), a market which had been artificially plunged to record-breaking interest rate lows of 1-2% for over a year by the US Federal Reserve making borrowing easy, and the returns on the investments into the MBSs obscene.

The obscenity swelled as the values of the houses skyrocketed far beyond the real values to the tune of one hundred thousand dollar homes selling for 5-6 times that price within the span of several years.

As long as no one assumed this growth was ab-normal, and the unpayable nature of the capital underlying the leveraged assets locked up in the now infamous "sub-primes" and other illegitimate debt obligations was ignored, then profits were supposed to just continue infinitely. Anyone who questioned this logic was considered a heretic by the latter-day priesthood.

The stunning "success" of securitizing housing debts immediately induced a wave of sovereign wealth funds to come into prominence applying the same model that had been used in the case of mortgage-backed securities (MBS) and collateralized debt obligations (CDO) to the debts of entire nations.

The securitizing of bundled packages of sovereign debts that could then be infinitely leveraged on the de-regulated world markets would no longer be considered an act of national treason, but the key to easy money.

Conclusion

This is the system which died in 2008. Contrary to popular belief, nothing was actually resolved. For all the talk of an "FDR revival" under Obama, speculation wasn't actually regulated under the Dodd-Frank Act or the Volker Rule of 2010. No productive credit was created to grow the real economy under a national mission as was the case in 1933-1938.

Banks were not broken up while derivatives GREW by 40% with the new bubble concentrated in the corporate/household debt sector now collapsing. During this time, nation states continued to be stripped, as austerity was rammed down the throats of nations.

It should be no surprise that in the midst of this despair, a creative alliance was consolidated in defense of the interests of sovereign nation states and humanity at large led by the leadership of Russia and China.

This leadership took the form of the China-led Belt and Road Initiative which has grown to embrace over 130 countries today and looking more and more like an Asian-led version of the New Deal of the 1930s.

Indeed, China's capacity to unleash long term credit for thousands of international long term infrastructure projects was made possible by the fact that it was the only country on the globe which had not given up the principles of bank separation which were destroyed in every other nation.

Very few western figures stood up to this self-induced destruction over the decades, but one notable exception here worth mentioning is the figure of the late American economist Lyndon LaRouche (1922-2019) who not only resisted this process for over four decades , but fought alongside the Schiller Institute to promote New Silk Road as early as 1996 .

With the 2016 Brexit and election of President Trump, a new wave of nationalist spirit has become a fire which the technocrats have lost their capacity to snuff out.

Increasingly, the idea that nation-states have a power over the private banking system has become revived and discussion for reforming the now dead Trans-Atlantic system is increasingly shaped not by the calls for a "New World Order" as Sir Kissinger would have liked, but rather for a New Silk Road and a true New Deal.

The Eurasian nations are already firmly committed to this new system, and if the west is to qualify morally to take part in this new epoch, then the first step will be a return to a Glass-Steagall.

Matthew Ehret is the Editor-in-Chief of the Canadian Patriot Review , a BRI Expert on Tactical talk , and has authored 3 volumes of 'Untold History of Canada' book series. In 2019 he co-founded the Montreal-based Rising Tide Foundation and can be reached at matt.ehret@tutamail.com

Hugh O'Neill ,

Excellent article which I could almost understand (my eyes glaze over at any mention of filthy lucre). The author makes clear that the world took a different trajectory after the convenient death of JFK. As I recall from a biography of his father, Ambassador Joe, was that Joe Kennedy was tasked by FDR with creating the regulations to reform Wall Street, thus earning him their undying enmity.

Joe Kennedy has therefore had a hard press and been accused of the Corbyn disease of anti-semitisms, and I imagine the same old experts will be lining up to give him another kicking

Spinky ,

A New Deal? A Green New Deal or a true New Deal? After revealing all of this incredible amount of manipulation of banking without going the final step to the ultimate controllers of the deep state, and you suggest another New Deal? What the world needs now is for the control systems to fail, not to be re supported again with handouts from the corporatocracy to the workers. We need to reclaim our communities with local food security via non corporate food systems based on living soils. We need to reclaim any kind of semblance of currency sanity with local currencies and supports. We need health care based on food as medicine, food that is not GMO and chemical based, but based on healthy local ecosystems, not transportation systems spanning the globe, controlled by central planners of any ideological stripe. Only if we focus on our own local regions can we ever hope to have any semblance of sanity again. We need to realize that the corporatocracy, the deep state, doesn't concern itself with ideologies other than as tools to control us with. All they care about is control, like all neurotics. After going through that entire article outlining the insanity of regulation and control and deregulation and infinity of financial flows and the obvious insanity of all of it, you surely must see that the ones with the money making the systems work are totally gonzo and the best the rest of us can do is focus on what we can do locally, like they have done in Greece. We can't control trillionaires with logical arguments. It ain't gonna happen. Bernie Sanders can become president and he still isn't going to stop the trillionaires and their insane efforts to control the planet. He will just be a different type of puppet with different types of handouts and control mechanisms. Voting is pointless and so are efforts at regulation. At this point, the best we can do is abandon the system, focus on our communities and self sufficiency locally, and try to avoid the system collapse when it falls around us.

RobG ,

It looks like they're rolling out the police state in the UK https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-51708550 but we'll have to wait until tomorrow (Tuesday) to get a better idea of what the psychopaths are trying to foist on us.

I would venture that the coronavirus rollocks is all a cover for the inevitable economic collapse.

Dungroanin ,

At last. Sanity. A brilliantly truthful article. Almost totally agree with this history of how the fuck the fucking bankers got their hands on almost fucking everything.

The first quibble is that starting history at FDR ignores the period of the creation of the Fed all the way back to it's prototype the BoE.

The second is about the creation of the Euro which ignores the political economic security desire of the evolving EU – the EMU and it's years of alignment of the EC preceding Maastricht and the bastardisation of the original vision by the rapid enrollment of countries and economies for Geopolitical (and even anti-EU) reasons. The EU being more likely to implement a 'Glass-Steagle' type of alignment through the level-playing-field ever-closet-union. That chalice being liberally poisoned by the global Banker interests.

Torontonian,

Interesting article, but the conclusions are off. That solution (i.e. return to Glass-Steagall) would have worked 20 , maybe 10 years ago. We are way to passed that point. The looters are now part of the system– no one will embrace Glass-Steal. The system is on life support.

[Feb 29, 2020] A very interesting and though provoking presentation by Ambassador Chas Freeman "America in Distress: The Challenges of Disadvantageous Change"

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... the American-led takedown of the post-World War II international system has shattered long-standing rules and norms of behavior. ..."
"... The combination of disorder at home and abroad is spawning changes that are increasingly disadvantageous to the United States. With Congress having essentially walked off the job, there is a need for America's universities to provide the information and analysis of international best practices that the political system does not. ..."
Feb 29, 2020 | angrybearblog.com

likbez , February 29, 2020 7:38 pm

A very interesting and though provoking presentation by Ambassador Chas Freeman "America in Distress: The Challenges of Disadvantageous Change"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mvILLCbOFo4

I think this would be very informative for anybody seriously interested in the USA foreign policy. Listening to him is so sad to realize that instead of person of his caliber we have Pompous Pompeo, who forever is frozen on the level of a tank repair mechanical engineer, as the Secretary of State.

Published on Feb 24, 2020

In the United States and other democracies, political and economic systems still work in theory, but not in practice. Meanwhile, the American-led takedown of the post-World War II international system has shattered long-standing rules and norms of behavior.

The combination of disorder at home and abroad is spawning changes that are increasingly disadvantageous to the United States. With Congress having essentially walked off the job, there is a need for America's universities to provide the information and analysis of international best practices that the political system does not.

Ambassador Chas W. Freeman, Jr. is a senior fellow at Brown University's Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, a former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense, ambassador to Saudi Arabia (during operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm), acting Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, and Chargé d'affaires at both Bangkok and Beijing. He began his diplomatic career in India but specialized in Chinese affairs. (He was the principal American interpreter during President Nixon's visit to Beijing in 1972.)

Ambassador Freeman is a much sought-after public speaker (see http://chasfreeman.net ) and the author of several well-received books on statecraft and diplomacy. His most recent book, America's Continuing Misadventures in the Middle East was published in May 2016. Interesting Times: China, America, and the Shifting Balance of Prestige, appeared in March 2013. America's Misadventures in the Middle East came out in 2010, as did the most recent revision of The Diplomat's Dictionary, the companion volume to Arts of Power: Statecraft and Diplomacy. He was the editor of the Encyclopedia Britannica entry on "diplomacy."

Chas Freeman studied at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and in Taiwan, and earned an AB magna cum laude from Yale University as well as a JD from the Harvard Law School.

He chairs Projects International, Inc., a Washington-based firm that for more than three decades has helped its American and foreign clients create ventures across borders, facilitating their establishment of new businesses through the design, negotiation, capitalization, and implementation of greenfield investments, mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, franchises, one-off transactions, sales and agencies in other countries.

He is the author of several books including the most recent

Interesting times: China, America, and the shifting balance of prestige (2013)

[Feb 24, 2020] The fatal flaw of neoliberalism: it's bad economics by Dani Rodrik

Notable quotes:
"... Neoliberalism and its usual prescriptions – always more markets, always less government – are in fact a perversion of mainstream economics. ..."
"... The term is used as a catchall for anything that smacks of deregulation, liberalisation, privatisation or fiscal austerity. Today it is routinely reviled as a shorthand for the ideas and practices that have produced growing economic insecurity and inequality, led to the loss of our political values and ideals, and even precipitated our current populist backlash. ..."
"... The use of the term "neoliberal" exploded in the 1990s, when it became closely associated with two developments, neither of which Peters's article had mentioned. One of these was financial deregulation, which would culminate in the 2008 financial crash and in the still-lingering euro debacle . The second was economic globalisation, which accelerated thanks to free flows of finance and to a new, more ambitious type of trade agreement. Financialisation and globalisation have become the most overt manifestations of neoliberalism in today's world. ..."
"... That neoliberalism is a slippery, shifting concept, with no explicit lobby of defenders, does not mean that it is irrelevant or unreal. Who can deny that the world has experienced a decisive shift toward markets from the 1980s on? Or that centre-left politicians – Democrats in the US, socialists and social democrats in Europe – enthusiastically adopted some of the central creeds of Thatcherism and Reaganism, such as deregulation, privatisation, financial liberalisation and individual enterprise? Much of our contemporary policy discussion remains infused with principles supposedly grounded in the concept of homo economicus , the perfectly rational human being, found in many economic theories, who always pursues his own self-interest. ..."
Nov 14, 2017 | www.theguardian.com

Neoliberalism and its usual prescriptions – always more markets, always less government – are in fact a perversion of mainstream economics.

As even its harshest critics concede, neoliberalism is hard to pin down. In broad terms, it denotes a preference for markets over government, economic incentives over cultural norms, and private entrepreneurship over collective action. It has been used to describe a wide range of phenomena – from Augusto Pinochet to Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, from the Clinton Democrats and the UK's New Labour to the economic opening in China and the reform of the welfare state in Sweden.

The term is used as a catchall for anything that smacks of deregulation, liberalisation, privatisation or fiscal austerity. Today it is routinely reviled as a shorthand for the ideas and practices that have produced growing economic insecurity and inequality, led to the loss of our political values and ideals, and even precipitated our current populist backlash.

We live in the age of neoliberalism, apparently. But who are neoliberalism's adherents and disseminators – the neoliberals themselves? Oddly, you have to go back a long time to find anyone explicitly embracing neoliberalism. In 1982, Charles Peters, the longtime editor of the political magazine Washington Monthly, published an essay titled A Neo-Liberal's Manifesto . It makes for interesting reading 35 years later, since the neoliberalism it describes bears little resemblance to today's target of derision. The politicians Peters names as exemplifying the movement are not the likes of Thatcher and Reagan, but rather liberals – in the US sense of the word – who have become disillusioned with unions and big government and dropped their prejudices against markets and the military.

The use of the term "neoliberal" exploded in the 1990s, when it became closely associated with two developments, neither of which Peters's article had mentioned. One of these was financial deregulation, which would culminate in the 2008 financial crash and in the still-lingering euro debacle . The second was economic globalisation, which accelerated thanks to free flows of finance and to a new, more ambitious type of trade agreement. Financialisation and globalisation have become the most overt manifestations of neoliberalism in today's world.

That neoliberalism is a slippery, shifting concept, with no explicit lobby of defenders, does not mean that it is irrelevant or unreal. Who can deny that the world has experienced a decisive shift toward markets from the 1980s on? Or that centre-left politicians – Democrats in the US, socialists and social democrats in Europe – enthusiastically adopted some of the central creeds of Thatcherism and Reaganism, such as deregulation, privatisation, financial liberalisation and individual enterprise? Much of our contemporary policy discussion remains infused with principles supposedly grounded in the concept of homo economicus , the perfectly rational human being, found in many economic theories, who always pursues his own self-interest.

But the looseness of the term neoliberalism also means that criticism of it often misses the mark. There is nothing wrong with markets, private entrepreneurship or incentives – when deployed appropriately. Their creative use lies behind the most significant economic achievements of our time. As we heap scorn on neoliberalism, we risk throwing out some of neoliberalism's useful ideas.

The real trouble is that mainstream economics shades too easily into ideology, constraining the choices that we appear to have and providing cookie-cutter solutions. A proper understanding of the economics that lie behind neoliberalism would allow us to identify – and to reject – ideology when it masquerades as economic science. Most importantly, it would help us to develop the institutional imagination we badly need to redesign capitalism for the 21st century.


N eoliberalism is typically understood as being based on key tenets of mainstream economic science. To see those tenets without the ideology, consider this thought experiment. A well-known and highly regarded economist lands in a country he has never visited and knows nothing about. He is brought to a meeting with the country's leading policymakers. "Our country is in trouble," they tell him. "The economy is stagnant, investment is low, and there is no growth in sight." They turn to him expectantly: "Please tell us what we should do to make our economy grow."

The economist pleads ignorance and explains that he knows too little about the country to make any recommendations. He would need to study the history of the economy, to analyse the statistics, and to travel around the country before he could say anything.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Tony Blair and Bill Clinton: centre-left politicians who enthusiastically adopted some of the central creeds of Thatcherism and Reaganism. Photograph: Reuters

But his hosts are insistent. "We understand your reticence, and we wish you had the time for all that," they tell him. "But isn't economics a science, and aren't you one of its most distinguished practitioners? Even though you do not know much about our economy, surely there are some general theories and prescriptions you can share with us to guide our economic policies and reforms."

The economist is now in a bind. He does not want to emulate those economic gurus he has long criticised for peddling their favourite policy advice. But he feels challenged by the question. Are there universal truths in economics? Can he say anything valid or useful?

So he begins. The efficiency with which an economy's resources are allocated is a critical determinant of the economy's performance, he says. Efficiency, in turn, requires aligning the incentives of households and businesses with social costs and benefits. The incentives faced by entrepreneurs, investors and producers are particularly important when it comes to economic growth. Growth needs a system of property rights and contract enforcement that will ensure those who invest can retain the returns on their investments. And the economy must be open to ideas and innovations from the rest of the world.

But economies can be derailed by macroeconomic instability, he goes on. Governments must therefore pursue a sound monetary policy , which means restricting the growth of liquidity to the increase in nominal money demand at reasonable inflation. They must ensure fiscal sustainability, so that the increase in public debt does not outpace national income. And they must carry out prudential regulation of banks and other financial institutions to prevent the financial system from taking excessive risk.

Now he is warming to his task. Economics is not just about efficiency and growth, he adds. Economic principles also carry over to equity and social policy. Economics has little to say about how much redistribution a society should seek. But it does tell us that the tax base should be as broad as possible, and that social programmes should be designed in a way that does not encourage workers to drop out of the labour market.

By the time the economist stops, it appears as if he has laid out a fully fledged neoliberal agenda. A critic in the audience will have heard all the code words: efficiency, incentives, property rights, sound money, fiscal prudence. And yet the universal principles that the economist describes are in fact quite open-ended. They presume a capitalist economy – one in which investment decisions are made by private individuals and firms – but not much beyond that. They allow for – indeed, they require – a surprising variety of institutional arrangements.

So has the economist just delivered a neoliberal screed? We would be mistaken to think so, and our mistake would consist of associating each abstract term – incentives, property rights, sound money – with a particular institutional counterpart. And therein lies the central conceit, and the fatal flaw, of neoliberalism: the belief that first-order economic principles map on to a unique set of policies, approximated by a Thatcher/Reagan-style agenda.

Consider property rights. They matter insofar as they allocate returns on investments. An optimal system would distribute property rights to those who would make the best use of an asset, and afford protection against those most likely to expropriate the returns. Property rights are good when they protect innovators from free riders, but they are bad when they protect them from competition. Depending on the context, a legal regime that provides the appropriate incentives can look quite different from the standard US-style regime of private property rights.

This may seem like a semantic point with little practical import; but China's phenomenal economic success is largely due to its orthodoxy-defying institutional tinkering. China turned to markets, but did not copy western practices in property rights. Its reforms produced market-based incentives through a series of unusual institutional arrangements that were better adapted to the local context. Rather than move directly from state to private ownership, for example, which would have been stymied by the weakness of the prevailing legal structures, the country relied on mixed forms of ownership that provided more effective property rights for entrepreneurs in practice. Township and Village Enterprises (TVEs), which spearheaded Chinese economic growth during the 1980s, were collectives owned and controlled by local governments. Even though TVEs were publicly owned, entrepreneurs received the protection they needed against expropriation. Local governments had a direct stake in the profits of the firms, and hence did not want to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs.

China relied on a range of such innovations, each delivering the economist's higher-order economic principles in unfamiliar institutional arrangements. For instance, it shielded its large state sector from global competition, establishing special economic zones where foreign firms could operate with different rules than in the rest of the economy. In view of such departures from orthodox blueprints, describing China's economic reforms as neoliberal – as critics are inclined to do – distorts more than it reveals. If we are to call this neoliberalism, we must surely look more kindly on the ideas behind the most dramatic poverty reduction in history.

One might protest that China's institutional innovations were purely transitional. Perhaps it will have to converge on western-style institutions to sustain its economic progress. But this common line of thinking overlooks the diversity of capitalist arrangements that still prevails among advanced economies, despite the considerable homogenisation of our policy discourse.

What, after all, are western institutions? The size of the public sector in OECD countries varies, from a third of the economy in Korea to nearly 60% in Finland. In Iceland, 86% of workers are members of a trade union; the comparable number in Switzerland is just 16%. In the US, firms can fire workers almost at will; French labour laws have historically required employers to jump through many hoops first. Stock markets have grown to a total value of nearly one-and-a-half times GDP in the US; in Germany, they are only a third as large, equivalent to just 50% of GDP.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest 'China turned to markets, but did not copy western practices ... ' Photograph: AFP/Getty

The idea that any one of these models of taxation, labour relations or financial organisation is inherently superior to the others is belied by the varying economic fortunes that each of these economies have experienced over recent decades. The US has gone through successive periods of angst in which its economic institutions were judged inferior to those in Germany, Japan, China, and now possibly Germany again. Certainly, comparable levels of wealth and productivity can be produced under very different models of capitalism. We might even go a step further: today's prevailing models probably come nowhere near exhausting the range of what might be possible, and desirable, in the future.

The visiting economist in our thought experiment knows all this, and recognises that the principles he has enunciated need to be filled in with institutional detail before they become operational. Property rights? Yes, but how? Sound money? Of course, but how? It would perhaps be easier to criticise his list of principles for being vacuous than to denounce it as a neoliberal screed.

Still, these principles are not entirely content-free. China, and indeed all countries that managed to develop rapidly, demonstrate the utility of those principles once they are properly adapted to local context. Conversely, too many economies have been driven to ruin courtesy of political leaders who chose to violate them. We need look no further than Latin American populists or eastern European communist regimes to appreciate the practical significance of sound money, fiscal sustainability and private incentives.


O f course, economics goes beyond a list of abstract, largely common-sense principles. Much of the work of economists consists of developing stylised models of how economies work and then confronting those models with evidence. Economists tend to think of what they do as progressively refining their understanding of the world: their models are supposed to get better and better as they are tested and revised over time. But progress in economics happens differently.

Economists study a social reality that is unlike the physical universe. It is completely manmade, highly malleable and operates according to different rules across time and space. Economics advances not by settling on the right model or theory to answer such questions, but by improving our understanding of the diversity of causal relationships. Neoliberalism and its customary remedies – always more markets, always less government – are in fact a perversion of mainstream economics. Good economists know that the correct answer to any question in economics is: it depends.

Does an increase in the minimum wage depress employment? Yes, if the labour market is really competitive and employers have no control over the wage they must pay to attract workers; but not necessarily otherwise. Does trade liberalisation increase economic growth? Yes, if it increases the profitability of industries where the bulk of investment and innovation takes place; but not otherwise. Does more government spending increase employment? Yes, if there is slack in the economy and wages do not rise; but not otherwise. Does monopoly harm innovation? Yes and no, depending on a whole host of market circumstances.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest 'Today [neoliberalism] is routinely reviled as a shorthand for the ideas that have produced growing economic inequality and precipitated our current populist backlash' Trump signing an order to take the US out of the TPP trade pact. Photograph: AFP/Getty

In economics, new models rarely supplant older models. The basic competitive-markets model dating back to Adam Smith has been modified over time by the inclusion, in rough historical order, of monopoly, externalities, scale economies, incomplete and asymmetric information, irrational behaviour and many other real-world features. But the older models remain as useful as ever. Understanding how real markets operate necessitates using different lenses at different times.

Perhaps maps offer the best analogy. Just like economic models, maps are highly stylised representations of reality . They are useful precisely because they abstract from many real-world details that would get in the way. But abstraction also implies that we need a different map depending on the nature of our journey. If we are travelling by bike, we need a map of bike trails. If we are to go on foot, we need a map of footpaths. If a new subway is constructed, we will need a subway map – but we wouldn't throw out the older maps.

Economists tend to be very good at making maps, but not good enough at choosing the one most suited to the task at hand. When confronted with policy questions of the type our visiting economist faces, too many of them resort to "benchmark" models that favour the laissez-faire approach. Kneejerk solutions and hubris replace the richness and humility of the discussion in the seminar room. John Maynard Keynes once defined economics as the "science of thinking in terms of models, joined to the art of choosing models which are relevant". Economists typically have trouble with the "art" part.

This, too, can be illustrated with a parable. A journalist calls an economics professor for his view on whether free trade is a good idea. The professor responds enthusiastically in the affirmative. The journalist then goes undercover as a student in the professor's advanced graduate seminar on international trade. He poses the same question: is free trade good? This time the professor is stymied. "What do you mean by 'good'?" he responds. "And good for whom?" The professor then launches into an extensive exegesis that will ultimately culminate in a heavily hedged statement: "So if the long list of conditions I have just described are satisfied, and assuming we can tax the beneficiaries to compensate the losers, freer trade has the potential to increase everyone's wellbeing." If he is in an expansive mood, the professor might add that the effect of free trade on an economy's longterm growth rate is not clear either, and would depend on an altogether different set of requirements.

This professor is rather different from the one the journalist encountered previously. On the record, he exudes self-confidence, not reticence, about the appropriate policy. There is one and only one model, at least as far as the public conversation is concerned, and there is a single correct answer, regardless of context. Strangely, the professor deems the knowledge that he imparts to his advanced students to be inappropriate (or dangerous) for the general public. Why?

The roots of such behaviour lie deep in the culture of the economics profession. But one important motive is the zeal to display the profession's crown jewels – market efficiency, the invisible hand, comparative advantage – in untarnished form, and to shield them from attack by self-interested barbarians, namely the protectionists . Unfortunately, these economists typically ignore the barbarians on the other side of the issue – financiers and multinational corporations whose motives are no purer and who are all too ready to hijack these ideas for their own benefit.

As a result, economists' contributions to public debate are often biased in one direction, in favour of more trade, more finance and less government. That is why economists have developed a reputation as cheerleaders for neoliberalism, even if mainstream economics is very far from a paean to laissez-faire. The economists who let their enthusiasm for free markets run wild are in fact not being true to their own discipline.


H ow then should we think about globalisation in order to liberate it from the grip of neoliberal practices? We must begin by understanding the positive potential of global markets. Access to world markets in goods, technologies and capital has played an important role in virtually all of the economic miracles of our time. China is the most recent and powerful reminder of this historical truth, but it is not the only case. Before China, similar miracles were performed by South Korea, Taiwan, Japan and a few non-Asian countries such as Mauritius . All of these countries embraced globalisation rather than turn their backs on it, and they benefited handsomely.

Defenders of the existing economic order will quickly point to these examples when globalisation comes into question. What they will fail to say is that almost all of these countries joined the world economy by violating neoliberal strictures. South Korea and Taiwan, for instance, heavily subsidised their exporters, the former through the financial system and the latter through tax incentives. All of them eventually removed most of their import restrictions, long after economic growth had taken off.

But none, with the sole exception of Chile in the 1980s under Pinochet, followed the neoliberal recommendation of a rapid opening-up to imports. Chile's neoliberal experiment eventually produced the worst economic crisis in all of Latin America. While the details differ across countries, in all cases governments played an active role in restructuring the economy and buffering it against a volatile external environment. Industrial policies, restrictions on capital flows and currency controls – all prohibited in the neoliberal playbook – were rampant.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Protest against Nafta in Mexico City in 2008: since the reforms of the mid-90s, the country's economy has underperformed. Photograph: EPA

By contrast, countries that stuck closest to the neoliberal model of globalisation were sorely disappointed. Mexico provides a particularly sad example. Following a series of macroeconomic crises in the mid-1990s, Mexico embraced macroeconomic orthodoxy, extensively liberalised its economy, freed up the financial system, sharply reduced import restrictions and signed the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta). These policies did produce macroeconomic stability and a significant rise in foreign trade and internal investment. But where it counts – in overall productivity and economic growth – the experiment failed . Since undertaking the reforms, overall productivity in Mexico has stagnated, and the economy has underperformed even by the undemanding standards of Latin America.

These outcomes are not a surprise from the perspective of sound economics. They are yet another manifestation of the need for economic policies to be attuned to the failures to which markets are prone, and to be tailored to the specific circumstances of each country. No single blueprint fits all.


A s Peters's 1982 manifesto attests, the meaning of neoliberalism has changed considerably over time as the label has acquired harder-line connotations with respect to deregulation, financialisation and globalisation. But there is one thread that connects all versions of neoliberalism, and that is the emphasis on economic growth . Peters wrote in 1982 that the emphasis was warranted because growth is essential to all our social and political ends – community, democracy, prosperity. Entrepreneurship, private investment and removing obstacles that stand in the way (such as excessive regulation) were all instruments for achieving economic growth. If a similar neoliberal manifesto were penned today, it would no doubt make the same point.

Critics often point out that this emphasis on economics debases and sacrifices other important values such as equality, social inclusion, democratic deliberation and justice. Those political and social objectives obviously matter enormously, and in some contexts they matter the most. They cannot always, or even often, be achieved by means of technocratic economic policies; politics must play a central role.

Still, neoliberals are not wrong when they argue that our most cherished ideals are more likely to be attained when our economy is vibrant, strong and growing. Where they are wrong is in believing that there is a unique and universal recipe for improving economic performance, to which they have access. The fatal flaw of neoliberalism is that it does not even get the economics right. It must be rejected on its own terms for the simple reason that it is bad economics.

A version of this article first appeared in Boston Review

[Feb 20, 2020] China denounces US lies at the Munich Security Conference by Peter Symonds

Feb 19, 2020 | www.wsws.org

In unusually blunt statements, top Chinese officials hit back during last weekend's Munich Security Conference at Washington's confrontational stance toward Beijing on a range of issues, including the Chinese tech giant Huawei and China's response to the coronavirus.

Trump administration officials, supported to the hilt by top Democrats, took a particularly aggressive attitude at the conference, warning European powers that intelligence sharing could end if Huawei equipment were used in building 5G telecommunications networks.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo branded "Huawei and other Chinese state-backed tech companies" as "Trojan horses for Chinese intelligence." In his speech, US Defence Secretary Mark Esper accused Beijing of carrying out a "nefarious strategy" through Huawei.

In a bid to intensify its pressure on its European allies, the US last week announced new charges of racketeering and theft of trade secrets against Huawei. These follow the arrest of the company's chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, in Canada last year after the US filed charges of fraud and sanctions evasion, and sought her extradition.

Esper made clear that the US attack on China was across the board. He declared that under President Xi Jinping's rule, "the Chinese Communist Party is heading even faster and further in the wrong direction -- more internal repression, more predatory economic practices, more heavy-handedness, and most concerning for me, a more aggressive military posture."

Asked about the speeches by Pompeo and Esper, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi did not mince words, branding the US allegations as "lies." He said their remarks were part of "a common scenario" everywhere they went. "I don't want to waste our time responding to each and every thing they've said. The thing I want to say is that all these accusations against China are lies and not based on facts."

Wang pointed to the driving force behind the confrontation -- the US drive to ensure its continued global domination by every available means. "The root cause of all these problems and issues is that the US does not want to see the rapid development and rejuvenation of China, still less would they want to accept the success of a socialist country, but that is not fair, China has the right to develop."

China, with its burgeoning markets, stock exchanges, billionaires and deep social divide, is not a socialist country. In fact, Huawei, as Wang said in countering US criticism, is a privately-owned company: the world's largest telecommunications equipment provider with nearly 200,000 employees.

Wang described the US attack on Huawei as "immoral" and asked: "Why can't America accept that other countries' companies can also display their talent in the economy, in technology? Perhaps deep down, it doesn't hope to see other countries develop." He accused the US of resorting to rumours to defame Huawei and declared there was no credible evidence that the company has a so-called back door that harms US security.

The US accusations against China and Huawei are utterly hypocritical. The revelations by the whistleblower Edward Snowden demonstrated that the US routinely spies electronically on the world's population, including governments and government leaders, allies and rivals alike, as well as its own citizens.

The US intelligence establishment has long relied on electronic "back doors" provided by American tech corporations to gather intelligence. The use of Huawei equipment not only threatens the economic position of US companies, but could undermine US spying operations.

China's forthright push back against heavy US criticism in Munich stems firstly from the relentless campaign by Washington, not only in propaganda, but through trade war measures and a huge military build-up in Asia against Beijing. Secondly, the Chinese regime is seeking support from the European powers. Wang's comments gained traction in Munich amid deepening conflicts between the US and its erstwhile European allies.

Britain has given the go-ahead for the inclusion of Huawei components in non-core aspects of its 5G rollout, while Germany and France have signaled they will do the same. The European decisions are largely driven by technical and economic factors, as Huawei is a leader in 5G technology and produces at a lower cost.

Washington's threats to end intelligence-sharing arrangements with the European powers could end up affecting US spying operations as much as those of its European rivals. The New York Times

The US has sought to exploit the coronavirus outbreak in China to add to the barrage of criticism against Beijing. Trump's economic adviser Larry Kudlow last week complained about the lack of Chinese transparency over the disease. He declared that Washington was disappointed that American health experts had not been allowed into China, and questioned Chinese statistics.

A considerable portion of Wang's speech to the Munich Security Conference was devoted to defending China's handling of the outbreak. He said the coronavirus largely had been confined to the city of Wuhan and Hubei Province, and the number of cases outside China was a small percentage of the total. Wang said this was the outcome of the rapid development of a test for the virus, the dispatch of 20,000 health workers to the area and the building of new health facilities.

Wang said: "In the spirit of openness and transparency, we promptly notified the world about the outbreak and shared the genetic sequence of the virus. We have been working closely with WHO [World Health Organisation], invited international experts to join our ranks, and provided assistance and facilitation to foreign nationals in China."

In comments to Reuters, the Chinese foreign minister effectively criticised the harsh travel restrictions imposed by the US on any foreign nationals coming from China. "Some countries have stepped up measures, including quarantine measures, which are reasonable and understandable, but for some countries they have overreacted which has triggered unnecessary panic," he said.

If Washington expected European support on the issue, its hopes were dashed. Conference chairman Wolfgang Ischinger praised China's response to the epidemic and declared it was "not getting a very fair deal I think China deserves a little bit of compassion and cooperation, and encouragement rather than only criticism."

China's reaction to the US criticisms in Munich underscores again the sharpening geo-political rivalries and break-up of longstanding alliances being fueled by worsening global economic conditions. Far from responding to the lack of support from Europe against China by moderating its confrontation, the US will intensify its provocative campaign, not just against Beijing, but any threat to its global position, including from its European allies.

[Feb 16, 2020] Psychologist Explains Why Economists -- and Liberals -- Get Human Nature Wrong by Lynn Parramore

Feb 12, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

By Lynn Parramore, Senior Research Analyst at the Institute for New Economic Thinking. Originally published at the Institute for New Economic Thinking website

For a fictional character, homo economicus has had a pretty good run . Since the 1950s, this mono-motivated, self-seeking figure has stalked the pages of economics textbooks, busy deciding each action according to a rational calculus of personal loss and gain. But more recently his territory has shrunk as experts on human nature have demonstrated what any decent novelist could have told them: our real selves are nothing like this.

Unfortunately, many economists still plug this flawed view of people into computer models that determine all kinds of things that impact our lives, from how much workers get paid to how we value life or common goods, such as a clean environment. The results can be disastrous.

Typically, economists aren't that keen on admitting that their work is deeply connected to morality -- never mind that Adam Smith himself was a moral philosopher. But if you ask a question as simple as how to price a used car, you quickly find that moral concerns and economic activity happen together all the time.

In his 2012 book, The Righteous Mind , New York University social psychologist Jonathan Haidt explored why so many perfectly intelligent people have misread human nature– and not just economists, but plenty of psychologists and even (shocker!) people who identify as politically liberal. For him, the key to getting to know ourselves properly lies with moral psychology, a newish strain that pulls together evolutionary, neurological, and social-psychological research on moral emotions and intuitions.

As Haidt sees it, we are creatures driven by moral intuition and attuned to both our personal interests as well as what's good for the groups with which we identify. He points out that in order to thrive, we have to appreciate our complex, interactive natures and see each other more clearly and empathetically – an observation that may be especially useful at a time when threats like climate change and the concentration of money and power threatens all of us, no matter who we are or what groups we belong to. At the moment, we aren't doing such a good job of this.

The Rider and the Elephant

Morality, Haidt argues, doesn't arise from reason, and besides, humans aren't winning any prizes for rationality. Heaps of studies show how factors beyond conscious awareness influence how we think and act, from judges giving out more lenient sentences after lunch to bottles of hand sanitizer making people more feel more conservative .

In Haidt's view, the conscious mind is like a press secretary spewing after-the-fact justifications for decisions already made. Thinkers like David Hume and Sigmund Freud were certainly hip to this idea, but somehow a lot of economists missed the memo, as did psychologists following dominant rationalist models in the 1980s and '90s.

Haidt invites us to consider ourselves as a rider (our analytical, rational part) and an elephant (our emotional, intuitive part). The rider holds the reins, but the beast below is in charge, urged on by the complex interaction of genetic influence, neural wiring, and social conditioning. The rider can advise the elephant, but the elephant calls most of the shots.

Fortunately, the elephant is quite intelligent and equipped with all sorts of intuitions that are good for conscious reasoning. But elephants get very stubborn when threatened and like to stick to what's familiar. The rider, for her part, is not exactly a reliable character. She's not really searching for truth, but mostly for ways to justify what the elephant wants.

That's why a rebel economist challenging conventional thinking about subjects like human nature faces a heavy lift. Experts have to see a lot of evidence accumulating across many studies before they reach a point where they are finally forced to think differently. Scientific studies are even less helpful in persuading the general public.

When I asked Haidt how the mavericks could help their cause, he noted that humans are social creatures more influenced by people than by ideas. So, it matters who says something as much as what they say. It also makes a difference how they say it: elephants don't like to be insulted, and they lean towards arguments made by people they like and admire. Not very rational, perhaps, but likely true.

Homo Duplex

The notion that human beings are social creatures is another strike against homo economicus. We are selfish much of the time, but we are also "groupish," as Haidt puts it, and perhaps better described as "homo duplex" operating on two levels. Here he offers another animal analogy, suggesting that we're 90% chimp and 10% bee, meaning that from an evolutionary perspective, we are selfish primates with a more recently developed a "hivish" overlay that lets us occasionally devote ourselves to helping others, or our groups.

This helps explain why you can't predict how someone is going to vote based on their narrow self-interest. Political opinions are like badges of social membership. We don't just ask what's in it for us, but also what it means to our groups. Having a kid in public school doesn't tell you that a person will support aid to public schools, probably because there are group interests in play. What unifies us in groups, Haidt argues, are certain moral foundations that allow us to share emotionally compelling worldviews that we can easily justify and defend against any attack by outsiders who don't share them. And we can get pretty nasty about those outsiders.

This begins to sound like ugly tribalism, the kind of stuff that leads to war. But Haidt reminds us that this propensity also prepares us to get along within our groups and even to cooperate on a large scale -- our human superpower. We differ from other primates because we exhibit shared intentionality: we're able to plan things together and work together towards a common goal. You never see two chimps carrying a log – they just don't act in concert that way. We do, and in our groups we've developed mechanisms to suppress cheaters and free riders and reap the benefit of division of labor. Groups of early humans may well have triumphed over other hominids not because they smashed them with clubs , but because they out-cooperated them.

To better understand how we operate in political groups, which have lately become more antagonistic, Haidt created a map of our moral landscape called Moral Foundations Theory which delineates multiple "foundations" we presumably use when making moral decisions, including care/harm, fairness/cheating, loyalty/betrayal, authority/subversion, sanctity/degradation, and liberty/oppression. (Some scholars have challenged his system, offering alternative maps). His research indicates that liberals and conservatives differ in the emphasis they place on each of these foundations, with conservatives tending to value all six domains equally and liberals valuing the first two much more than the other three.

Haidt argues that liberals tend to home in on care and fairness when they talk about policy issues, which can put them at a disadvantage vis-à-vis conservatives, who tend to activate the whole range of foundations. Republicans are thus better able to talk to elephants than Democrats because they possess more ways to go for the gut, as it were. If Democrats want to win, Haidt warns, they need to think of morality as more than just care and fairness and to try to better understand that foundations more important to conservatives, like deference to authority or a reverence for sacredness, are not pathological, but aspects human social evolution that have helped us survive in many situations.

When he wrote The Righteous Mind , Haidt noted that Democrats had espoused a moral vision that did not resonate with many working class and rural voters. In the current presidential race, he sees some progress on economic populism from the Bernie Sanders wing, in part because Occupy Wall Street got people attuned to issues of fairness and the oppression of the 1%. When politicians talk about the abuse of political and economic power, they can activate not only care and fairness concerns, but also the liberty/oppression foundation which people respond to across the political spectrum.

But this line is also tricky because, as Haidt pointed out to me, "Americans don't really hate their rich." (One recent study suggested only 25% of Americans have a negative view of the rich, though a majority said they should be taxed more).

Haidt also worries that many Democrats, particularly elites, are currently engaging with cultural issues by embracing a what he called a "common enemy" form of identity politics which "demonizes people at the intersectional point of evil (white men)" rather than focusing on a "common humanity" story which "draws a larger circle around everyone. (Haidt plunged into controversial territory with his 2018 book, The Coddling of the American Mind , which argues that college campuses are shutting down useful debate through "safetyism" that protects students from ideas considered harmful or offensive).

He observed to me that while the polarizing Donald Trump may have turned off the younger generation "for the next few decades," Democrats may be failing "to look seriously at the ways that their social policies -- and their messengers -- alienate many moderates." Newly "woke" white elites, for example, who see racism as the driver of nearly every phenomenon, may be having an unintended negative effect in his view. When they ascribe Trump's victory to racial resentment and ignore the concerns of those who fear sliding down the economic ladder, for example, they may turn off potential allies. Call a person or a group racist and you won't be able to convince them to support your view on anything. Their elephants aren't listening.

Haidt acknowledges that our moral matrices are not written in stone; they can and do evolve, sometimes quite rapidly within a couple of generations. Economic forces surely act to shift attunement to moral foundations, making people more susceptible, for example, to anti-immigration arguments. If you fail to consider the economic influence on this kind of moral activation, you'll be less equipped to address problems like ethnic conflict. Being able to step outside our own moral matrix is essential to persuasion. We not only have to talk to the elephant, but see the beehive.

We also have to remember the truth is not likely to be something held by any one individual, but rather something that emerges as a large number of flawed and limited minds exchange views on a given subject. Our smarts and flexibility are increased by our ability to cooperate and share information. Economists, for example, improve their understanding of human nature by opening up to other social sciences and the humanities for insight.

There is evidence that economists are paying attention to moral psychology. In their book Identity Economics , Nobel laurate George Akerlof and Rachel Kranton argue that people identify with "social categories," and that each category, whether it be Christian, mother, or neighbor, has associated norms or ideals to which people want to aspire. Sam Bowles' The Moral Economy shows that monetary incentives don't work in many situations and that policies targeting our selfish instincts can actually weaken the institutions which depend on our more selfless impulses– including financial markets. At the Institute of New Economic Thinking (INET), the connection between economics and morality has been explored by INET president Rob Johnson and political philosopher Michael Sandel as well as thinkers like economic historian Robert Skidelsky and economist Darrick Hamilton .

All of this rather bad news for homo economicus. But pretty good news for humanity.


Carolinian , February 12, 2020 at 1:37 am

we're 90% chimp and 10% bee, meaning that from an evolutionary perspective, we are selfish primates with a more recently developed a "hivish" overlay that lets us occasionally devote ourselves to helping others, or our groups.

Well if one wants to take an "evolutionary perspective" (works for me) then obviously our instincts are shaped to promote survival of the species and not just the individual. And if that's true then the Randian/economics version of rational isn't rational at all. Perhaps it would be clearer to talk about this problem in terms of rational versus irrational rather than appealing to some "altruism gene" that will supposedly save us. IMO only that rational, intelligent, creative aspect of humans will save us from that irrational side that is indeed totally instinctive. Somehow we've gotten this far–despite everything–"by the skin of our teeth." Here's hoping those minds will find a path.

eg , February 12, 2020 at 2:30 pm

I believe that a huge controversy continues to rage in Biology around "group selection"

erik , February 13, 2020 at 12:53 am

Over what? Carol's point about the sociology of Ayn Rand?

In point of fact, Carol, altruism is always secondary (where it appears) in nature. Selfishness ensures the fittest genes survive to carry on the species. Only in the face of catastrophe does altruism at
the individual level become more valuable than selfishness. So, indeed it is because of our selfishness, because we've struggled by the skin of our teeth, that we as a species have survived and prospered.

Susan the other , February 13, 2020 at 2:41 pm

but, but erik, that leaves out all the energy saving advantage we get from a cohesive group which is also determined to survive and carry on centuries of knowledge on just how to do so .

H. Alexander Ivey , February 12, 2020 at 2:01 am

Just a quick jab: why does Haidt, and others, assume that feelings are inferior to logic and intellect? Seems to me they are inter-twined, separate-able, but equal in value, if not dimension.

It could be a three way set-up instead of a two way (like markets, which are commonly spoken of as two: buyer and seller, but are three: buyer, seller, and banker /money man). Man's consciousness could be 1) feelings, 2) logic /intellect, and 3) the decider (call out to ex-prez W, so got political jab in too!).

But all that rather kicks Haidt's argument

eg , February 12, 2020 at 2:34 pm

In fairness to Haidt, I think he's more nuanced than "rationality good; feelings bad"

I have encountered more of that rather rigid approach among those who have read "Thinking Fast and Slow" perhaps because that book doesn't do as good a job of outlining as crucial the capacity to recognize which situations favor System 1 thinking and those which favor System 2 -- a problem compounded by the emphasis in the book on the rather narrow range of circumstances in which System 2 is clearly superior.

vlade , February 12, 2020 at 3:00 am

Social scientists can't add:
"value all six domains equally [ ] valuing the first two much more than the other three."

More seriously, yes. Years ago, Heinlein wrote "Man is not a rational animal, he is a rationalizing animal".

somecallmetim , February 12, 2020 at 8:56 pm

Jeez – I spent years getting an Econ degree in the homo economus/monetarist era (dark times), when I should've been making my way through my D&D Dungeon Master's sci fi collection!

Dell , February 13, 2020 at 2:53 pm

I always thought that the Professors who thought up homo economus never went with their wives (as it was back then) to the grocery store.

The rational choice, always, was the store brand. DelMonte and all other such brands owed their very existence to non-rational, emotional choices–by tons of people.

But the implications of that never sunk in.

erik , February 13, 2020 at 1:04 am

'Rational' just means 'consistently following an internally sound logic.' A machine does that – following the logic of its mechanics. A computer does that – following the logic of code. An animal does that – following the logic dictated by emotion. And an animal certainly does that better than we humans whose behaviors become muddled by ideas. Truly, by this measure animals are better machines than humans – more mechanical, more emotional, more logical, more rational.

Hayek's Heelbiter , February 12, 2020 at 5:28 am

That's why a rebel economist challenging conventional thinking about subjects like human nature faces a heavy lift. Experts have to see a lot of evidence accumulating across many studies before they reach a point where they are finally forced to think differently.

As an ex-organic chemist, I was astonished to find that more than a few scientists cling to outdated paradigms with a tenacity that would shame the most rigid religious fundamentalist. Cf. heliobacter, continental drift, even the heliocentric solar system.

divadab , February 12, 2020 at 11:02 am

Huh? Heliocentric solar system is an outdated paradigm? Are you talking about this planet or are you coming from another solar system?

vlade , February 12, 2020 at 11:50 am

same for continental drift – pretty much no one in geology challenges plate tectonics, as it explains way more than any other theory on offer.

Anon , February 12, 2020 at 12:06 pm

While "continental" drift was first proposed in about 1600 AD it was not completely wrong. Like many initial geologic theories it was partially correct. It is now known that it is not the "continents" that move across the earth, but tectonic plates, on which the continents are located, that is creating movement. The convection of the earths interior magma is thought to be the movement vector for the plates.

Henry Moon Pie , February 12, 2020 at 6:04 am

"this propensity also prepares us to get along within our groups and even to cooperate on a large scale -- our human superpower"

Yuval Harari's central point revolves around this. Humans, like other primates, engage in "grooming" activities to maintain group cohesion. With the development of language, this "grooming" went from picking lice out of each other's hair (fun!) to gossiping about each other. But this behavior seems to be unable to maintain a group size larger than 150 individuals, not surprising considering the person-to-person contact necessary.

To gather a larger group around common goals requires myth, Harari says. Early myths involved gods, often imagined as living in a separate world with structures parallel to our own. In a polytheistic society, the head god related to the lesser gods as a king related to his human subjects. In the henotheistic Ancient Near East, nations like Babylon, Assyria and even the southern Israelite kingdom of Judah envisioned a parallel war occurring in "heaven" between the national gods when two countries went to war. These days, there are new, completely secular myths like what Harari calls "Money" that orient our world around materialism, competition and power.

eg , February 12, 2020 at 2:46 pm

William H. McNeill also noted the almost universal human behaviours of mass marching/dancing (which requires and reinforces cooperation) as indicative of a social behaviour rooted in a biological need

We also have "mirror neurons" for a reason -- one that baffles the proponents of "homo economicus"

Eric , February 12, 2020 at 7:20 am

I was more interested in this article from the political perspective; i.e. what liberals get wrong.

Like many who read this site, I'm interested in the primary elections and want Bernie to win.

But Bernie's message could be better by being more attuned to some of the "Moral Foundation" issues Haidt raises.

Take Medicare for All which, by most accounts, is the leading issue to most voters:

Talking more about Medicare being a simple and successful 50+ year program appeals to authority. Medicare Advantage plans can be framed as subversion. Or loyalty / betrayal. Also consider sanctity / degradation.

Talking more about the 80/20 aspect of coverage addresses fairness / cheating and "free stuff"

Not talking about eliminating private insurance shows concern for liberty / oppression. I would actually make a joke about people who would still want private insurance after M4A becomes available

Just food for thought in terms of how the ideas contained in the article could be applied.

And the next time some nefarious reporter asks how we will pay for this or that; I wish someone will just say "Mexico will pay for it".

deplorado , February 13, 2020 at 1:20 am

This!
Share it with the campaign on twitter – please!

LowellHighlander , February 12, 2020 at 7:24 am

As an economist (M.A. in Econ), I am elated to see Jonathan Haidt's work receive this kind of attention from serious thinkers. In addition to the reasons cited by Lynn Parramore, I believe Professor Haidt's work validates, by building on, the work of Humanistic Economics by Professor Mark Lutz (Ph.D. UC-Berkeley) and Dr. Kenneth Lux. Moreover, Professor Haidt's work appears, to me, to further validate the astute criticisms of Dean Baker and Mark Weisbrot for neoclassical Marxists' use of "Rational Economic Man" in their paradigm's modls (no "e"). Having obtained my degree about 25 years ago, basically in humanistic economics, I am sure that adoption of such thinking by grad students in economics can help rescue humanity from its current barbaric state. I just hope there's still time left.

Jeremy Grimm , February 12, 2020 at 1:03 pm

But economics without homo economicus? Does that not mess-up a lot of beautiful economic proofs and their beautiful mathematics?

eg , February 12, 2020 at 3:00 pm

Let them have their toys -- just don't let them near anything like policy

Ignacio , February 12, 2020 at 7:30 am

On hate and having negative view on the rich : this article mentions that "only" 25% of Americans have a negative or very negative view of the rich". Only is the proper word? I would say that is a lot of bad feelings. Hate is not a sane feeling and we are inclined to hate in stressful situations. So, if 25% of Americans, have these negative feelings (8% very negative) about the rich this spells quite a lot of despair/stress. It would be interesting a comparison with other countries to evaluate if this is normal by international standards.

Ignacio , February 12, 2020 at 7:52 am

I mention this because stress & despair might explain, at least partially, the relative low turnout in general elections in the US compared with other OECD countries. Does anybody here know the evolution of electoral turnout in the US since 1950? Has turnout declined with time?

Dirk77 , February 12, 2020 at 5:13 pm

There is a Wikipedia article under the title Voter Turnout in the US Presidential Elections fwiw.

John Wright , February 12, 2020 at 9:46 am

I remembered an old David Brooks column mentioning that Americans vote their aspirations.

I'm not a fan of Brooks, but this 20 year old column may explain some USA citizens' current attitudes..

Here is a sample quote (about a proposed Al Gore estate tax):

"The most telling polling result from the 2000 election was from a Time magazine survey that asked people if they are in the top 1 percent of earners. Nineteen percent of Americans say they are in the richest 1 percent and a further 20 percent expect to be someday. So right away you have 39 percent of Americans who thought that when Mr. Gore savaged a plan that favored the top 1 percent, he was taking a direct shot at them."

https://www.nytimes.com/2003/01/12/opinion/the-triumph-of-hope-over-self-interest.html

While it has been 20 years since this was published, one might suspect American "I'll be rich" aspirations have taken a beating during this interval.

The economics profession has ridden the hydrocarbon energy spend of the last 100+ years as hydrocarbon energy has been pulled from the ground and converted into "economic growth".

It will be interesting to see how the profession responds to future events with climate change, peak human population and peak energy inexorably (in my view) arriving.

Susan the other , February 12, 2020 at 10:38 am

Yes, after all corvid-19 only has a mortality rate of 2.5% . are viruses comparable to hate?

Donald , February 12, 2020 at 7:49 am

One thing that has happened is that over the past several decades so- called liberals have agreed with conservatives that the market represents freedom and efficiency and the government represents the opposite. Some younger people are rebelling, but older voters have been hearing this their whole lives without challenge until Sanders came along.

I just read a description of a Trump rally at the NYT and I think it was accurate. The reporters just repeated what ordinary people said there. One guy claimed the Democrats have just swung so far left he can't support them anymore, yet on economics this simply isn't the case. Sanders just represents what Democrats used to be on economic issues.

gsinbe , February 12, 2020 at 7:57 am

I enjoyed the article, and agree with the main ideas, but he was a little rough on our primate cousins. Chimps may not cooperate by "carrying logs", but, like a lot of social animals, they work together when, say, hunting other primates. And most social animals have a pretty well-developed sense of fairness (watch what happens if you give one of your dogs a treat and ignore the other one).

a different chris , February 12, 2020 at 8:59 am

Yes I am trying to think about what chimps would actually need to transport a log for. That famous jocular saying by one of the researchers "we were beginning to think the difference between us was merely cultural".

Carolinian , February 12, 2020 at 9:26 am

Is that a sense of fairness or a sense of competition or perhaps a sense of both? Each dog would prefer being the favorite but will accept being the equal.

Dogs are an interesting analogy because in my observation they are, as social animals, so much like us. Perhaps the main takeaway from the above article is the belief that there is such a thing as "human nature" and that we have a kinship with the other species. Needless to say such a view was once anathema in an intellectual climate dominated by religion and a human centric world view. Even now people like Pence are "dominionists" and believe that humans have been given dominion over the planet and all its other species because of what it says in the Bible. Power always needs to justify itself–perhaps because of that innate sense of fairness/competition that you mention.

Susan the other , February 12, 2020 at 10:54 am

Haidt got me thinking about language too. His thesis could be talking about the evolution of language itself. The evolution of rationalization. Since he seems to premise his insights on human intuition and a certain bedrock of morality that all animals seem to have. Pre language. Can we attribute the morality of animals to a lack of rationalization? They do seem to lack immorality. If we were mute, but very intuitive as we are, what effect would our intuition have on our communication skills and our actions? Raising the question here, Is language the emotional middleman that is always (duplex) less than rational and causing all this confusion? Sort of thinking here about someone giving an over-the-top sermon, like an economics professor claiming that we are all homo-economicus.

Carolinian , February 12, 2020 at 12:00 pm

Morality traditionally implies conscious choice so I'm not sure that's relevant to the animal world. Guess what I'm saying is that we are similar to certain animals in our instincts, not our intelligence.

However the language of economic profs is deceptive since they should be saying "irrational self interest" rather than "rational self interest." Pure selfishness usually ends up being bad even for the selfish.

Susan the other , February 13, 2020 at 2:56 pm

Also on this very subject, last night on Nova, the one about dogs, their domestication (or ours?) and their amazing ability to relate – communicate. They attribute a dog's ability to communicate to oxytocin – because they thrive on love and friendship. I do believe that because I've only had one aloof dog and he was very wolf-like. A throwback. Indicating that evolution tends toward love – not to be too corny. Maybe Oxytocin will save us ;-)

Susan the other , February 12, 2020 at 12:04 pm

Maybe we could develop a more finely-tuned consciousness.

eg , February 12, 2020 at 3:07 pm

Um, pack animals have hierarchies -- period

And we are biologically pack animals, mercifully moderated by culture

Carolinian , February 12, 2020 at 4:25 pm

If by "pack animals" you mean species that live in societies I never said they didn't. But obviously there is also cooperation on some level and social bonding. I do think this is a very complicated subject and not easily reduced to simplifications by yours truly–not a biologist–or the above article. But arguably the above is correct in asserting that economists themselves are ignoring the complications.

Ignacio , February 12, 2020 at 8:16 am

And for those interested, here is a paper published in 2008 that empirically demonstrates that the "Homo economicus" approach in this case disguised in the form of "median-voter model" is bullshit regarding inequality, redistribution and public opinion, though they regard it as intelectually compelling. Economists!

John Wright , February 12, 2020 at 10:19 am

Your link did not work for me.

But this did work (after google searching for "mwm006.pdf") that was buried in your link

https://academic.oup.com/ser/article-pdf/6/1/35/4761357/mwm006.pdf

Ignacio , February 12, 2020 at 11:10 am

Thank you. That was the paper.

a different chris , February 12, 2020 at 8:56 am

>Experts have to see a lot of evidence accumulating across many studies before they reach a point where they are finally forced to think differently.

Ummm, the whole, underlying maybe, point of the rest of the article is that the dominant economic thought of our age has nothing to do with evidence. Yet they overthrew Keynes. "Trust us, We're Experts" or something like that right?

DJG , February 12, 2020 at 8:58 am

I just finished slogging through The Master and His Emissary by Iain McGilchrist, which harmonizes with this article. Instead of the rider on an elephant, McGilchrist writes of the functions of the left and right hemispheres of the brain, which are significantly different. The left brain is verbal, analytical, and task oriented. It likes straight lines. (This strikes me as a description of the pseudo-accuracy and busyness of economics.) The right brain sees a larger picture, is less talky, and is generally better at perceiving the world around us. It is the hemisphere that can attain greater knowledge even if it is not as adept at expressing such knowledge in words. (The "bee" part of the brain–and more than 10 percent.)

McGilchrist's book is good, but way too long, which is an irony given that he asserts that the left brain, the emissary, is trying to subvert the master, the part of the brain less likely to go on and on and on in words.

But this era of too many easy paradigms (economics, "free markets"), too much flimsy analysis (critical studies, queer studies, economics, New York Times op-ed columnists), and too much talk (social media) is very much left-brained. I think that what is wearing all of us out is the endless tsunami of word salad. Economics, with its insistance on rationality rather than reasonableness (left brain rather than right brain), fell into the salad bowl a long time ago.

Mel , February 12, 2020 at 10:12 am

Yes. I, too, think this is a very important book. Being retired, I don't think it's too long. I revel in how much stuff I got for only thirty bucks (or whatever it was -- something like that.)
The neurological case is complete after 94 very dense pages. (535 citations. Pleasantly readable prose, though, and that bizarre experiment that "proves" that porcupines are monkeys.) After that he traces the effects and footprints of the two independent modes of thought through philosophy, art, music, and, generally, the working of our societies from ancient to post-modern.
There's a strong parallel to Daniel Kahneman's Fast and Slow thinking, the right hemisphere being the fast one. The one wrinkle is that language is the province of the left hemisphere, but Kahnemann finds that fast thinking is perfectly adept at small-talk, as long as it doesn't get too abstract.
Worst for me is that now that I've read it, I've got to go back into Heidegger, all the other modern Germans, John Dryden, classical and modern painting, religion

The Rev Kev , February 12, 2020 at 9:27 am

So how would homo economicus work out in anything other than a modern industrial system? In earlier times, I would say that at the least they would be shunned as a danger to the community or maybe even thrown out altogether as being incapable of working in a close-knit community. Want a modern example instead? How about the fact that you cannot have a military based on the idea of homo economicus unless you are talking about a band of mercenaries. This whole stupid idea is why every relationship these days whether for work, employment, government, etc is defined by contracts. In short, it is a cookie-cutter idea that come in only one shape.

Sound of the Suburbs , February 12, 2020 at 9:31 am

"Since the 1950s, this mono-motivated, self-seeking figure has stalked the pages of economics textbooks, busy deciding each action according to a rational calculus of personal loss and gain."

Advertising gave up with that sort of approach years ago.
Advertisers appeal to deep seated wants and desires and this works really well, so they haven't looked back.
Are the wealthy much more rational?
Let's have a look at adverts targeted at wealthy people.
Are they a long list of specifications and comparisons saying why these products are better?
No.
An advert for a Sunseeker luxury yacht conveys luxury, elegance, being able to get away from it all and there is usually a young woman in the back in a bikini; the less said about that the better.

What about PR and propoganda?
How do they work?
The same as advertising really, and it's got nothing to do with appealing to rational human beings.
It works; they are not going to be doing it differently anytime soon.

Economics seems to be the odd man out.

Mel , February 12, 2020 at 11:32 am

A propos of nothing, long, long ago there was an ad during the Superbowl placed by Cadillac. It was all about authority, power, celebrity, and it hardly mentioned cars at all, if it even did. Blog commenters had to work very hard to explain how this was selling Cadillacs. IMHO, it didn't sell Cadillacs. It told the top Cadillac executives all the things about themselves that they most longed to hear. It didn't sell cars to wealthy people, it sold the ad itself to the Cadillac C-suite. It worked like a charm.

Sound of the Suburbs , February 12, 2020 at 9:56 am

Inequality exists on two axes:

Y-axis – top to bottom
X-axis – Across genders, races, etc ..

As long as the Democrats wealthy donors keep them focussed on identity politics and the X-axis, the donors should be able to keep making progress in the reverse direction on the Y-axis.

Rob Chametzky , February 12, 2020 at 11:33 am

Samuel Bowles has examined these issues recently in "The moral
economy":

https://yalebooks.yale.edu/book/9780300163803/moral-economy

and he's MUCH better than Haidt. I recommend this book and lots
of his earlier work, much of it done with Herbert Gintis.

Their 1976 "Schooling in capitalist America" is no less necessary
reading now than it was then, and their 1986 "Democracy & capitalism"
is maybe even more relevant now (Milanovic credits it as a forerunner
to his current "Capitalism, alone", which it is–and much more than that).
More recent stuff is referenced in "The moral economy" and pretty
much always worthwhile.

–Rob Chametzky

Tim , February 12, 2020 at 2:41 pm

Morality is a big part of decision making, but I'll argue that is secondary to our cognitive biases that exist at an even lower level of consciousness to enable us to retain function and decision making in the face of an overwhelming number of variables.

The opposite of cognitive bias or perhaps the antidote is critical thinking, which must be taught/learned, so yeah it is preposterous to assume people use solid reasoning that could only come about with the use of critical thinking, which vasts swaths of society almost never exercise.

flora , February 12, 2020 at 2:53 pm

Thanks for this post. Homo economicus was/is always and only about the 'one'.

Whereas the basis of moral philosophy is about 'the one and the many' in equal importance, imo.

Thanks for this post and to the commentors recommending more writings in this field.

Dirk77 , February 12, 2020 at 6:10 pm

The article to me is all over the place, which builds on Haidt's views that seem all over the place too. Interesting though. Comments too. The experimental data about Haidt's classifications of moral decision making elements, and where self-described liberals and conservatives rank them in importance was interesting. I suppose the liberals regarding only two of the six as important could be due to their college educations. As a math professor I had once observed about a smart student in his class: "he learned his subject too well". Or to paraphrase Othello: "One that learned not wisely but too well".

greensachs , February 12, 2020 at 6:26 pm

Nuff sd

"It's Armageddon Time for the Democratic Party"
https://theintercept.com/2020/02/12/its-armageddon-time-for-the-democratic-party/

TG , February 12, 2020 at 6:43 pm

Hmm yes but

Humans are rational economic agents! Therefore we must ship our industrial base to China so that the rich can make more money.

Humans are rational economic agents! Therefore we must allow big companies to merge and quash competition and raise prices.

Humans are rational economic agents! Therefore we must allow "surprise medical billing" when insured people go to the emergency room.

Humans are rational economic agents! Therefore we must do nothing to stop the use of slave labor in peeling shrimp for export in Southeast Asia.

Humans are rational economic agents! Therefore we must bail out and subsidize Wall Street and big finance with tens of trillions of taxpayer dollars.

Perhaps the "humans are rational economic agents!" argument is not really an argument, as such

deplorado , February 13, 2020 at 2:29 am

The most important takeaway from this is that we should not let economists guide the economy. Not the economists believing in homo economicus anyway (and, while we are at it, believing in equilibrium as well). The reason for existence of such a concept is clearly to replace ethics and morality as a guiding principle of human economic activity with a pseudo- "natural law" (humans by nature are "economicus" – i.e. self-interested and materialistic – phew!), which once entrenched, relieves those in power from moral obligations because it safely explains away almost any economic outcome as result of "natural" forces – i.e. no one to blame (globalization=natural force). It's a great tool for them. Down with it.

Dick Swenson , February 14, 2020 at 4:25 pm

The asumption of rationality has been defeated by many economists, as well as psychologists, sociologists, etc.. Carrying on about this is unncessary. Assuming that humans worry about "care and fairness' is true. The "12" prophets of the Tanakh (Old Testament") raised this concern numerous times, and one can find it as a major issue in the Synoptic Gospels. Smith also worried about this in his first book on economocs, "The Theory of Moral Sentiments." The only reason for any further consideration of "rationality" in economics is due to the attemprt by economists to treat economics as a "science" like physics. There are also numerous misguided attempts to mathemaize economics.

But one insidious reason to pretend that economics is a "science" is to justify the idea of a "Nobel Prize" in economics, or to give a "halo" to economists that win the "Swedish Central Bank Prize in Economic Scholarship in Memory of Alfred Nobel."

Avner Offer and Gabriel Söderberg have written a good book about the creation of this prize, "The Nobel Factor." Please note, the words "Nobel Prize" do not seem to appear on either the certificates or medal awarded.

Daniel Kahneman who won the prize (justifiably, (and John Nash a famous mathematicin who won many real prizes) notd that giving labels often transfers a false aura to those being labeled. Offer and Söderberg noted that this is true of the label "winner of the Nobel Prize." Given that there is no decent encompasssing theory of economics similar to Newton's Laws and how often the prizes are awarded to economists who don't produce anything like such a theory, we should once and for all abandone the pretense that economis is a science. It is an attempt to describe social behaviour in a very restricted context. Leaving it to psychologists, sociologists and others has produce better undertandings of human behaviour.

[Feb 15, 2020] Global supply chains are cost-efficient but not resilient

Feb 15, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

So here we are, with a global economy that's very cost-efficient but not resilient. It's wonderful that Walmart has worked out how to order a new tube of toothpaste from China the second one is pulled off a shelf in Topeka, KS. But that means there is no deep storage to draw upon in times of disruption to the status quo. No warehouses stocked with 12 months of future goods. Just a brilliantly-complicated supply chain thousands of miles long that has to work perfectly for things to keep running.

As an example that drives home this point: we learned during the 2011 earthquake in Japan that there was just one single factory making a necessary polymer gel for the odd-shaped lithium batteries used in smartphones and iPods. There was no backup factory.

We watched closely during that enormous crisis (which also spawned the Fukushima nuclear disaster) as electronics companies scrambled to triage their remaining supplies and attempt to find new sources. It was very touch and go. Vast portions of the battery-fueled electronic industry came within a whisker of simply shutting down production -- all for want of an esoteric polymer gel.

Yes, the most cost-effective way to make that gel was to house it all in a single plant. But it made no sense from a redundancy and resilience standpoint.

And did 'we' learn from that experience? Nope.

Supply Chain Armageddon

The global economy is more interdependent than ever. Its supply chains are built on a huge network of dependencies with many 'single points of failure' strung along its many branches.

Can anybody predict what will happen next? No.

But we're already seeing early failures as Chinese plants, factories and ports sit idle from the country's massive quarantine efforts:

China set to lose out on production of 1M vehicles as coronavirus closes car plants

China exports about $70 billion worth of car parts and accessories globally, with roughly 20 percent going to the U.S.

Feb. 5, 2020, 4:32 PM EST

By Paul A. Eisenstein

China could suffer the loss of a million vehicles worth of production as factories in its crucial automotive industry remain shuttered until at least next week -- and likely longer in Wuhan, the "motor city" at the center of the coronavirus outbreak.

With more than 24,000 people infected, the impact of the highly contagious disease is also beginning to be felt by automakers in other parts of the world. Hyundai is suspending production in its South Korean plants because of a shortage of Chinese-made parts, and even European car manufacturers could be hit: Volkswagen and BMW could see a dip of 5 percent in their earnings for the first half of 2020, according to research firm Bernstein.

( Source – NBC )

We're predicting that these auto shutdowns are just beginning. All it takes is a single component to be unavailable and the entire line has to be shut down.

Is China the sole source for many critical components in the auto industry? Absolutely.

Here's an inside view:

On Monday, Steve Banker and I had the opportunity to speak with Razat Gaurav, CEO of Llamasoft. Razat had some interesting takes on the outbreak, especially as it relates to the automotive and pharmaceutical supply chains. On average it takes 30,000 parts to make a finished automobile.

Due to the virus, production facilities have already indicated that they will have lower than normal parts volumes. This has left companies scrambling to make contingency plans. During my conversation with Razat, he mentioned that inventories for most of these automotive parts are managed on a lean just-in-time basis.

This means that, on average, companies have anywhere between two and twelve weeks of buffer inventory on-hand for automotive parts. As production volumes are decreasing, this has the potential to cause quite the global shortage of parts. The buffer inventory will only last so long, and once the pre-holiday supply runs dry, the industry is going to be in serious trouble. According to Gaurav: " Most OEMs single source components for new vehicles and China is a large supplier of those."

( Source – Logistics Viewpoints )

"Single sourcing" is exactly what it implies. There's a single factory somewhere churning out a single component that is absolutely vital to make a motorized vehicle. If that factory goes away for any length of time, a new source has to be identified or – worse, from a time and cost standpoint – built from scratch.

But this vulnerability to China-dependent supply chains is by no means unique to the auto industry:

Last month, the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission held a hearing on the United States' growing reliance on China's pharmaceutical products. The topic reminded me of a spirited discussion described in Bob Woodward's book, Fear: Trump in the White House.

In the discussion, Gary Cohn, then chief economic advisor to President Trump, argued against a trade war with China by invoking a Department of Commerce study that found that 97 percent of all antibiotics in the United States came from China.

( Source – CFR )

That's as close to a 'sole source' as you can get.

And to put the cherry on top: guess the name of the region in China responsible for producing all if these antibiotics? Yep, Hubei province. With Wuhan its most important production hub.

Can we find another source for our generic drugs and antibiotics? India, possibly. But here again we run into the same global interdependency issue:

Another industry that is feeling the impact of the coronavirus is the pharmaceutical industry. The average buffer inventory for the pharmaceutical industry is between three and six months. However, this does not tell the full story. Gaurav mentioned that China is responsible for producing 40 percent of the active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) for the pharmaceutical world.

Additionally, China supplies 80 percent of key starting materials (KSM's), which are the chemicals in APIs, to India . Put together, this represents 70 percent of all APIs across the world.

( Source – Logistics Viewpoints )

India's production is directly tied to uninterrupted supply from China:

Indian generic drugmakers may face supply shortages from China if coronavirus drags on

Feb 13 (Reuters) – Shortages and potential price increases of generic drugs from India loom if the coronavirus outbreak disrupts suppliers of pharmaceutical ingredients in China past April , according to industry experts.

An important supplier of generic drugs to the world, Indian companies procure almost 70% of the active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) for their medicines from China.

India's generic drugmakers say they currently have enough API supplies from China to cover their operations for up to about three months.

"We are comfortably placed with eight to 10 weeks of key inventory in place," said Debabrata Chakravorty, head of global sourcing and supply chain for Lupin Ltd, adding that the company does have some local suppliers for ingredients.

Sun Pharmaceuticals Industries Ltd said it has sufficient inventory of API and raw materials for the short term and has not seen any major disruption in supplies at the moment.

The Indian drugmaker, however, said supply has been impacted for a few API products and the company is closely monitoring the situation. It did not identify the products.

India supplies nearly a third of medicines sold in the United States , the world's largest and most lucrative healthcare market.

( Source )

Is this a huge concern? Of course it is.

If you're dependent in any way on prescription drugs, it would be entirely rational to chase down whether those come from China or India and, if they are, begin talks with your doctor about alternatives or what to do if supplies get pinched.

A Fast-Moving Situation

Look, we entirely get why the authorities and media are downplaying the covid-19 pandemic. We really do. They feel the need to manage the crisis, which means managing the public narrative.

But c'mon. Does it make any sense for Apple's stock price to be up while its main Foxconn manufacturing facility is all but completely shuttered?

Fewer iPhones and Airpods being made should equate with lower future earnings and thus a lower stock price. But no, AAPL is up handily over the past month:

And this is even crazier. Does it make ANY sense for Boeing's stock to be up $12 over the past month? As it reported its first year (2019) of NEGATIVE orders and a completely order-free January (2020)? No, of course not.

But those are the sorts of 'signals' that the officials believe have to be sent in order to keep the masses from catching on that something really concerning is happening.

Unfortunately, such signals work on the masses. Higher stock prices send a powerful comforting message that "all is well".

But prudent critical thinkers, which defines those in the Peak Prosperity tribe, can readily see through the ruse and get busy preparing themselves for what's coming.

It's Time For Action

The situation with covid-19 is fluid, and fast-moving. Staying on top of the breaking developments and making sense of them for you is our primary job.

But information without informed action is useless.

After all, knowing something concerning but then doing nothing about it is merely cause for anxiety if not alarm.

The only ways to remain calm and protect your loved ones from the threat of this pandemic are rooted in taking smart action.

Yes, we can all hope this blows over. We sincerely wish the macro-planners all the best in shaping the narrative and keeping the macro economy somehow functioning and glued together.

But we're going to prepare as best we can, here at our micro level because that's our duty to ourselves, to our families, and to our communities.

Creating A Resilient Defense Against The Coronavirus

This is a huge moment in history. The first global pandemic at a time when the world economy is sole-sourced and completely interdependent.

Nobody can predict what will happen next. Autos, drugs who knows what the next industry to stumble will be?

Given the ridiculously high rate of infectivity of covid-19 there's really no chance of stopping its spread. The rate is now just a equation of time, luck, and official actions to aggressively isolate and quarantine infected individuals and communities.

Our position affords us many experienced contacts with experts throughout the world, and those we know with deep medical training are preparing the most aggressively right now. This outbreak has their full attention; and that informs us that it should have ours, too.

Which is why our advice is to get busy preparing yourself now.

Last week we issued the guide How We're Personally Preparing For The Coronavirus to our premium subscribers. It's a great resource providing specific recommendations for prevention and treatment.

Today, we're releasing an expanded companion guide A Resilient Defense Against The Coronavirus , again for our premium members.

Particularly useful for those who have recently found their way to PeakProsperity.com, it offers both a valuable framework to use in preparing for any disaster (including pandemics) and then details out specific action steps to take today across all aspects of your life (i.e., not just health & hygiene) against a coronavirus outbreak in your local area.

Click here to read this report (free executive summary, enrollment required for full access).

[Feb 14, 2020] US Warms Up Its Own Old Spy Stories To Bash Putative Chinese Espionage

Feb 14, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

That such cynicism was wholly justified became evident when Edward Snowden revealed the NSA machinations. Soon thereafter Juniper Networks, a provider of large backbone equipment, was found to have at least two NSA backdoors in its operation system. Other 'western' telecommunication equipment companies were similarly manipulated :

Even neutral countries firms are not off-limits to NSA manipulations. A former Crypto AG employee confirmed that high-level US officials approached neutral European countries and argued that their cooperation was essential to the Cold War struggle against the Soviets. The NSA allegedly received support from cryptographic companies Crypto AG and Gretag AG in Switzerland, Transvertex in Sweden, Nokia in Finland, and even newly-privatized firms in post-Communist Hungary. In 1970, according to a secret German BND intelligence paper, supplied to the author, the Germans planned to "fuse" the operations of three cryptographic firms-Crypto AG, Grattner AG (another Swiss cipher firm), and Ericsson of Sweden.

So why was the allegedly secret CIA history of an already known story leaked right now? And why was it also leaked to a German TV station?

Sanho Tree points to the likely reason:

If you want to understand why the US intelligence community is so freaked out about Huawei, it's because they've been playing the same game for decades.

The WaPo story itself also makes that connection :

There are also echoes of Crypto in the suspicions swirling around modern companies with alleged links to foreign governments, including the Russian anti-virus firm Kaspersky , a texting app tied to the United Arab Emirates and the Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei .

The warmed up Crypto AG story is a subtle smear piece against Huawei and Kapersky.

The U.S. wants to convince European countries to not buy Huawei products for their 5G networks. It wants to remind them that telecommunication products can be manipulated. It wants to instill fear that China would use Huawei to spy on foreign countries just like the U.S. used Crypto AG.

This is also the reason for this recent misleading Reuters headline which the story itself debunked:

Germany has proof that Huawei worked with Chinese intelligence: Handelsblatt

"At the end of 2019, intelligence was passed to us by the U.S., according to which Huawei is proven to have been cooperating with China's security authorities," the newspaper quoted a confidential foreign ministry document as saying.

'U.S. intelligence' that is handed over to manipulate someone is of course not 'proof' for anything.

The U.S. is pressing its allies on a very high level:

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared the Chinese Communist Party "the central threat of our times" on Thursday, even as he sought to talk up the prospects of a United States trade deal with Britain, which rebuffed American pressure to ban a Chinese company from future telecommunications infrastructure.

The scathing criticism of the Chinese government was the strongest language Mr. Pompeo has used as the Trump administration seeks to convince American allies of the risks posed by using equipment from Huawei, a Chinese technology giant.

A week after Pompeo's panic message Trump took to the phone to convince Boris Johnson who was not impressed :

Donald Trump's previously close relationship with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson looks close to collapse, following new revelations that the president slammed down the phone on him.

Trump's behaviour during last week's call was described by officials as „apoplectic," and Johnson has now reportedly shelved plans for an imminent visit to Washington.
...
The call, which one source described to the Financial Times as „very difficult," came after Johnson defied Trump and allowed Chinese telecoms company Huawei the rights to develop the UK's 5G network.

Trump's fury was triggered by Johnson backing Huawei despite multiple threats by Trump and his allies that the United States would withdraw security co-operation with the UK if the deal went ahead.

Trump's threats reportedly „irritated" the UK government, with Johnson frustrated at the president's failure to suggest any alternatives to the deal.

Huawei products are pretty good, relatively cheap and readily available. They are just as buggy as the products of other equipment providers. The real reason why the U.S. does not want anyone to buy Huawei products is that it is the one large network company the U.S. can not convince to provide it with backdoors.

European countries do not fear China or even Chinese spying. They know that the U.S. is doing similar on a much larger scale. Europeans do not see China as a threat and they do not want to get involved in the escalating U.S.-China spat:

"Whose side should your country take in a conflict between the US and China?"

Source - bigger

The U.S. just indicted four Chinese military officers for the 2017 hacking of Equifax during which millions of addresses and financial data were stolen. The former CIA Director General Michael Hayden had defended such pilfering as "honorable espionage" and Equifax had made it laughably easy to get into its systems :

[J]ust five days after Equifax went public with its breach -- KrebsOnSecurity broke the news that the administrative account for a separate Equifax dispute resolution portal catering to consumers in Argentina was wide open, protected by perhaps the most easy-to-guess password combination ever: "admin/admin."

To indict foreign military officers for spying when they simply pilfered barely protected servers is seen as offensive. What will the U.S. do when China does likewise?

Every nation spies. It is one of the oldest trades in this world. That the U.S. is making such a fuss about putative Chinese spying when it itself is the biggest sinner is unbecoming.

Posted by b on February 11, 2020 at 18:52 UTC | Permalink

[Feb 14, 2020] Why the USA is fighting Huawei without offering any super alternative

Feb 14, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

james , Feb 11 2020 20:13 utc | 13

thanks b...no shortage of hypocrisy in all this...

regarding @ 4 mike r which @8 ian2 linked properly to, i enjoyed the last paragraph which i think sums it up well.. here it is..

"I continue to believe that the United States cannot effectively restrict the spread of a technology under Chinese leadership without offering a superior product of its own. The fact that the United States has attempted to suppress Huawei's market leadership in the absence of any American competitor in this field is one of the oddest occurrences in the history of US foreign policy. If the US were to announce something like a Manhattan Project for 5G broadband and solicit the cooperation of its European and Asian allies, it probably would get an enthusiastic response. As matters stand, America's efforts to stop Huawei have become an embarrassment."


Petri Krohn , Feb 11 2020 20:38 utc | 16

The reason European customers trust Huawei is because Huawei uses open-source software or at least makes their code available for inspection by customers.

Closed-source software cannot provide secrecy or security. This was vividly demonstrated last month when NSA revealed a critical vulnerability in Windows 10 that rendered any cryptographic security worthless.

Critical Windows 10 vulnerability used to Rickroll the NSA and Github

Rashid's simulated attack exploits CVE-2020-0601, the critical vulnerability that Microsoft patched on Tuesday after receiving a private tipoff from the NSA. As Ars reported, the flaw can completely break certificate validation for websites, software updates, VPNs, and other security-critical computer uses. It affects Windows 10 systems, including server versions Windows Server 2016 and Windows Server 2019. Other versions of Windows are unaffected.

The flaw involves the way the new versions of Windows check the validity of certificates that use elliptic-curve cryptography. While the vulnerable Windows versions check three ECC parameters, they fail to verify a fourth, crucial one, which is known as a base point generator and is often represented in algorithms as 'G.' This failure is a result of Microsoft's implementation of ECC rather than any flaw or weakness in the ECC algorithms themselves.

The attacker examines the specific ECC algorithm used to generate the root-certificate public key and proceeds to craft a private key that copies all of the certificate parameters for that algorithm except for the point generator. Because vulnerable Windows versions fail to check that parameter, they accept the private key as valid. With that, the attacker has spoofed a Windows-trusted root certificate that can be used to mint any individual certificate used for authentication of websites, software, and other sensitive properties.

I do not believe this vulnerability was a bug. It is more likely a backdoor intentionally left in the code for NSA to utilize. Whatever the case, NSA must have known about it for years. Why did they reveal it now? Most likely someone else had discovered the back door and may have been about to publish it.

(I commented on these same issues on Sputnik a few weeks ago.)

Piotr Berman , Feb 11 2020 23:04 utc | 25
The other possible US objection is that Huawei will only let their customers spy, not third countries.

Posted by: Paul Cockshott | Feb 11 2020 21:57 utc | 24

It reminds me a joke about Emperor Napoleon arriving in a town. The population, the notables and the mayor are greeting him, and the Emperor says "No gun salute, hm?". Mayor replies "Sire, we have twenty reasons. Fist, we have canons", "Enough", replied Napoleon.

Isn't the "other possible US objection" exactly "Enough"? Of course, USA is not a mere "third country", USA is the rule maker of rule based international order.

[Feb 14, 2020] Last year I was so mad at USA bulling Huawei and ZTE, decided to buy a Huawei Honor View V20 PCT-L29 Smartphone.

Feb 14, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

JC , Feb 13 2020 0:11 utc | 90

Last year I was so mad at USA bulling Huawei and ZTE, decided to buy a Huawei Honor View V20 PCT-L29 Smartphone. Global version on T-Mobile network . Still fumbling at the setting. This smartphone installed GPS and BeiDou (BDS). I never used Google searches but instead DuckDuckGo long ago

[Feb 14, 2020] I'm amazed that Chief Poodle Boris did not obediently obey His Master's Voice.

Feb 14, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Ash Naz , Feb 12 2020 0:20 utc | 32

I'm amazed that Chief Poodle Boris did not obediently obey His Master's Voice.

What is going on?

I could understand if this was DNC/CIA-MI6 passing orders down the line (a la Skripal) to upset Trump but the US Intel Community has no interest in such a snub from the UK Govt.

Obviously this isn't the UK Govt asserting their independence from US instruction because such a thing has never happened in my lifetime.

Wierd.

Anyway, too bad I won't be able to read the thread on my phone tomorrow as Bruce has just broken the thread with his million-character link. :-(


Piotr Berman , Feb 12 2020