F Financial Sector Induced Systemic Instability of Economy

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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


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[May 21, 2018] On neoliberalism

While it is stupid to argue that neoliberalism does not exist: it exits both as ideology, economic theory and politicl pratice (much like Marxism before it; yet another "man-made" ideology -- actually a variation of Trotskyism, this discussion does illuminate some interesting and subtle points.
Notable quotes:
"... Neoliberalism is a time-limited global system sustained by coercive imposition of competitive behaviour, parasitic finance & privatisation. ..."
"... But it's better to think of neoliberalism as a bunch of arrangements ("system" if you remove connotations of design) rather than as an ideology. Ed has a point when he says that almost nobody fully subscribes to "neoliberal ideology": free market supporters, for example, don't defend crony capitalism. ..."
"... Perhaps the texts of transnational trade treaties might be the best place to search for a de facto definition of neoliberalism. ..."
"... Whether or not the present neoliberal system is the result of a single coherent ideology, it emerged from the 70s on as a set of related (if not deliberately coordinated) responses to the structural crises of the older postwar Keynesian system. And there was definitely a cluster of policy-making elites in the early 70s making similar observations about the failure of consensus capitalism. ..."
"... It is possible to have 'hard' and 'soft' neoliberalism depending on whether the state employs 'carrots' or 'sticks', but essentially almost the entire UK political system agreed that 'There Is No Alternative' until Corbyn became Labour leader. ..."
"... I think Will Davies has hit the spot with his definition of neoliberalism as "the disenchantment of politics by economics". In other words, neoliberalism is first and foremost a political praxis, not an economic theory. It is about power, hence the continuing importance of the state. ..."
"... That is the Great Transformation and neoliberalism as its current phase are about turning institutions into businesses (including marriage), and part of this is "managerialism". This is not done because businesses are inherently better for every purpose than institutions, but because businesses are better vehicles than institutions for tunnelling (looting) by their managers. ..."
"... Neo-liberals are not opposed to all types of government intervention. But like neo-classical economists, they believe ultimately in the price mechanism to allocate resources - in the long run, if not the short. ..."
"... In terms of sincerity, Milton Friedman asserted in "Capitalism and Freedom" that the more a society was "free market," the more equal it was. Come the preface to 50th anniversary edition, he simply failed to mention that applying his own ideology had refuted his assertion (and it was an assertion). ..."
"... Neo-liberalism never been about reducing "the State" but rather strengthening it in terms of defending and supporting capital. Hence you see Tories proclaim they are "cutting back the state" while also increasing state regulation on trade unions -- and regulating strikes, and so the labour market. ..."
"... Somewhere along the line neo-liberalism got associated with austerity and small-government policies. The latter I think was because they are (correctly) associated with promoting privatisation and deregulation policy. ..."
"... But the market is the creation of man. It has no power, no judgement, other than that bestowed on it by us. My problem with neoliberalism is the belief that decisions can be made on the basis of a money metric whereas we know that money is not necessarily a good measure of value. ..."
"... Neoliberalism is real, but only describes background theoretical claims. It is wrong to apply the term to the broader political movement it supported. The political movement was dedicated to maximizing the power and freedom of action of large-scale capital accumulators. Lots of ideas from neoliberal intellectual argumentation were used to increase the power of capital accumulators, and neoliberal economists tended to ignore many aspects of the political movement they supported (strongr state power, crony capitalism, monopoly power) not strictly part of neoliberal theory ..."
"... usually the theory was just a weapon used in internal battles or as a PR tool to mask less savory political objectives. ..."
"... Repeating the message: "neoliberalism" has a pretty much official definition, the "Washington Consensus". And the core part of the "Washington Consensus" is "labour market reform", that is in practice whichever policies make labour more "competitive" and wages more "affordable". ..."
"... The "free markets" of neoliberalism are primarily "free" labour markets, that is free of unions. ..."
"... I would argue that, in terms of practical working definitions, Max Sawicky's definition of neo-liberalism seems to work well, at least in the U.S. context (second half of post): https://mikethemadbiologist.com/2017/04/28/remember-the-victims-of-the-nebraska-public-power-district/ ..."
May 16, 2018 | stumblingandmumbling.typepad.com

Is neoliberalism even a thing? This is the question posed by Ed Conway, who claims it is "not an ideology but an insult." I half agree.

I agree that the economic system we have is "hardly the result of a guiding ideology" and more the result of "happenstance".

I say this because neoliberalism is NOT the same as the sort of free market ideology proposed by Friedman and Hayek. If this were the case, it would have died on 13 October 2008 when the government bailed out RBS . In fact, though, as Will Davies and Adam Curtis have said, neoliberalism entails the use of an active state. A big part of neoliberalism is the use of the state to increase the power and profits of the 1% - capitalists and top managers. Increased managerialism, crony capitalism and tough benefit sanctions are all features of neoliberalism. In this respect, the EU's treatment of Greece was neoliberal – ensuring that banks got paid at the expense of ordinary people.

I suspect, though, that measures such as these were, as Ed says, not so much part of a single ideology as uncoordinated events. Tax cuts for the rich, public sector outsourcing and target culture, for example, were mostly justified by appeals to efficiency, and were not regarded even by their advocates as parts of a unified theory. To believe otherwise would be to subscribe to a conspiracy theory which gives too much credit to Thatcher and her epigones.

In this sense, I mostly agree with Paull Mason :

Neoliberalism is a time-limited global system sustained by coercive imposition of competitive behaviour, parasitic finance & privatisation.

I'm not sure about that word "system". Maybe it attributes too much systematization to neoliberals: perhaps unplanned order would be a better phrase. But it's better to think of neoliberalism as a bunch of arrangements ("system" if you remove connotations of design) rather than as an ideology. Ed has a point when he says that almost nobody fully subscribes to "neoliberal ideology": free market supporters, for example, don't defend crony capitalism.

And it's useful to have words for economic systems. Just as we speak of "post-war Keynesianism" to mean a bundle of policies and institutions of which Keynesian fiscal policy was only a small part, so we can speak of "neoliberalism" to describe our current arrangement. It's a better description than the horribly question-begging "late capitalism".

This isn't to say that "neoliberalism" has a precise meaning. There are varieties of it, just as there were of post-war Keynesianism. Think of the word as like "purple". There are shades of purple, we'll not agree when exactly purple turns into blue, and we'll struggle to define the word (especially to someone who is colour-blind). But "purple" is nevertheless a useful word, and we know it when we see it.

If neoliberalism is a system rather than an ideology, what role does ideology play?

I suspect it's that of post-fact justification.

Put it this way. In the mid-80s nobody argued that the share of GDP going to the top 1% should double. Of course, many advocated policies which, it turns out, had this effect. Some of them intended this. But those policies were justified on other grounds, often sincerely. Instead, the belief that the top 1% "deserve" 15% of total incomes rather than 7-8% has mostly followed them getting 15%, not led it. A host of cognitive biases – the just world illusion, anchoring effect and status quo bias underpin an ideology which defends inequality. John Jost calls this system justification (pdf) . You can gather all these biases under the umbrella term "neoliberal ideology" if you want. But it follows economic events rather than is the creator of them.

So, I half agree with Ed that neoliberalism isn't a guiding ideology. But I also agree with Paul, that it is a way of describing a particular economic system.

I don't, however, want to get hung up on words: I'd rather leave such pedantry to the worst sort of academic. What's more important than language is the brute fact that productivity and hence real incomes for most of us have stagnated for years. In this sense, our existing economic system has failed the majority of people. And this is true whatever name you give it.

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Comments

Scratch , May 16, 2018 at 04:13 PM

Perhaps the texts of transnational trade treaties might be the best place to search for a de facto definition of neoliberalism.

There's not much room to blur, obfuscate (beyond the natural impenetrability of legalese) or wreath around with dubious ethicism in these documents I'd imagine.

Luis Enrique , May 16, 2018 at 04:53 PM
if it's a way of describing the prevailing economic system, does it make sense to describe people as neoliberals? Does that imply that everyone who is not a radical revolutionary (i.e. anyone who if they got their way in government would still be within normal variation in policies from a USA Republican administration to the Danish Labour party?). So the Koch brothers are neoliberals and Brad De Long is a neoliberal despite them disagreeing vehemently about most things?

I know we have lots of other words that are used in wildly inconsistent ways (capitalism, socialism) but I can't help being irked by the sheer incoherence of the things that neoliberals are accused of. Most recent example to come to mind, somebody in conversation with Will Davies on Twitter claimed neoliberals oppose redistribution (and Will did not correct him). FFS.

Mike W , May 16, 2018 at 06:04 PM
Conway says:

'But, despite the fact that neoliberalism is frequently referred to as an ideology, it is oddly difficult to pin down. For one thing, it is a word that tends to be used almost exclusively by those who are criticising it - not by its advocates, such as they are (in stark contrast to almost every other ideology, nearly no-one self-describes as a neoliberal). In other words, it is not an ideology but an insult.'

Well political science and history uses models too. What is the problem of say David Harvey's definition in, A Brief History of ...that which doesn't exist (2007)?

Rather I think he means it upsets 'main stream' economics professors, to be called this term, and rather than opt for Wren Lewis gambit (there is such a thing as 'Media Macro' or 'Tory Macro', or 'Econ 101', which I found interesting as it happens) Conway has gone for pedantry and first year Politics student essentialism, ie what is Democracy? type stuff.

As it happens he is dated and plain wrong above.

https://www.adamsmith.org/blog/coming-out-as-neoliberals

Hope this helps Ed

Ralph Musgrave , May 16, 2018 at 06:32 PM
Neoliberalism, at least in the UK, was in part a reaction by Thatcher & Co to the excesses of previous Labour administrations: excesses in the form of "if an industry looks like going bust, let's pour whatever amount of taxpayer's money into it needed to save it". Thatcher & Co's reaction was: "s*d that for a lark – the rules of the free market are better than industrial subsidies (especially industrial subsidies in cabinet ministers' constituencies)"
Kevin Carson , May 16, 2018 at 06:39 PM
Whether or not the present neoliberal system is the result of a single coherent ideology, it emerged from the 70s on as a set of related (if not deliberately coordinated) responses to the structural crises of the older postwar Keynesian system. And there was definitely a cluster of policy-making elites in the early 70s making similar observations about the failure of consensus capitalism.
Ben Philliskirk , May 16, 2018 at 07:11 PM
"if it's a way of describing the prevailing economic system, does it make sense to describe people as neoliberals?"

Yes, these are largely people who reacted to the 'series of events' that occurred in the global economy in the 1970s by essentially accepting a certain set of policies and responses, many of which involved seeking to insulate the state against collective popular demands, intervening against organised labour, deregulating finance and targeting state intervention towards private business.

It is possible to have 'hard' and 'soft' neoliberalism depending on whether the state employs 'carrots' or 'sticks', but essentially almost the entire UK political system agreed that 'There Is No Alternative' until Corbyn became Labour leader. Many of these people were hardly hardcore ideologists but rather pragmatic or unimaginative types that were unwilling to challenge the 'status quo' or the prevailing economic system, just as there were very few classical liberals from WWI onwards.

From Arse To Elbow , May 16, 2018 at 07:40 PM
I think Will Davies has hit the spot with his definition of neoliberalism as "the disenchantment of politics by economics". In other words, neoliberalism is first and foremost a political praxis, not an economic theory. It is about power, hence the continuing importance of the state.

This instrumentality echoes Thatcher's insistence that "Economics are the method; the object is to change the heart and soul", which shows that there was more in play in the late-70s and early-80s than simply responding to the "structural crises of the older postwar Keynesian system".

Sarah Miron , May 16, 2018 at 09:06 PM
You should be reading Philip Mirowski instead. The economist and historian of science Philip Mirowski is considered the foremost expert on this subject, he has written many books on this the latest is:

"The Knowledge We Have Lost in Information: The History of Information in Modern Economics":

https://www.amazon.com/Knowledge-Have-Lost-Information-Economics/dp/0190270055/

*

Neoliberalism is a philosophy based on the metaphor/idea that the "market" is an information process ad it is quasi-omniscient, that "knows" more than any and all of us could ever know. It makes certain claims about what "information" is and what a "market" is. It's mostly started with the Mont Perelin Society think-tank.

Sarah Miron , May 16, 2018 at 09:11 PM
Here's an intro:

His papers:

Some lectures:

Blissex , May 16, 2018 at 10:02 PM
"productivity and hence real incomes for most of us have stagnated for years."

But for many, usually people who vote more often or more opportunistically, they have been years of booming living standards.

The core of the electoral appeal of thatcherism is that thatcherites whether Conservative or New Labour have worked hard to ensure that upper-middle (and many middle) class voters collectively cornered the southern property market, creating a massive short squeeze on people short housing.

So many champagne leftists of some age talk about policies and concepts, but for the many the number one problem for decades has been managing to pay rent.

Blissex , May 16, 2018 at 10:05 PM

"neoliberalism is first and foremost a political praxis, not an economic theory. It is about power, hence the continuing importance of the state."

That's a very good point, but I would rather say that's a good description of New Right/thatcherite (and "third way" clintonian/mandelsonian) politics, and neoliberalism is the economic policy aspect.

There is after all something called "The Washington consensus" that is a "standard" set of neoliberal economic policies.

Blissex , May 16, 2018 at 10:12 PM
"Neoliberalism is a philosophy based on the metaphor/idea that the "market" is an information process"

Written that wait it evokes Polanyi's "Great transformation" where markets mechanisms have displaced social mechanisms in many areas.

But Just yesterday I realized that Polanyi was subtly off-target: it is not markets-vs-society (two fairly abstract concepts) but instead institutions-vs-businesses.

That is the Great Transformation and neoliberalism as its current phase are about turning institutions into businesses (including marriage), and part of this is "managerialism". This is not done because businesses are inherently better for every purpose than institutions, but because businesses are better vehicles than institutions for tunnelling (looting) by their managers.

Blissex , May 16, 2018 at 10:17 PM
"the "market" is an information process ad it is quasi-omniscient, that "knows" more than any and all of us could ever know"

There have been a few books arguing that "the market", being omniscient, all powerful, and just in judging everybody and giving them exactly what they deserve, has replaced God, and today's sell-side neoliberal Economists are its preachers:

Nanikore , May 17, 2018 at 07:21 AM
Economists started using the term neo-liberalism a bit later, after it became a derogatory term - and after 2008 began to disassociate from it (a few, and very few, did after the Asian Financial Crisis).

It is important to realise I think that it is a term that closely linked to political science -- and in particular a branch of international relations. The person most associated with Neo-liberalism is Francis Fukuyama. What he did was link capitalism and democracy; both he said had triumphed and because they respect the freedom of individual liberty and they allowed markets, which are the most efficient way of allocating resources, to operate liberally. Its heyday was at the time of the collapse of the Berlin Wall - "the end of history" as FF famously said.

Political scientists see neo-classical economics and neo-liberalism as very compatible, because of the formers basic construct of individual optimisation, rational choice and market efficiency. Often they are grouped together and contrasted with radical and realist (realpolitik) approaches. For neo-liberals and neo-classicists, markets get prices right, whether they do so with a lag is a minor point.

NK.

Nanikore , May 17, 2018 at 07:46 AM
Neo-liberals are not opposed to all types of government intervention. But like neo-classical economists, they believe ultimately in the price mechanism to allocate resources - in the long run, if not the short.

They have no problem with welfare states. Like neo-classical economists they accept the second welfare theorem.

They are pro-globalisation: they don't like international trade, capital or immigration controls. Why? Because they impact on individual liberty and distort market prices.

International relations were often guiding reasons behind economic policy that were pro-globalisation. By encouraging globalisation, you were encouraging international capitalism and thereby the spread of democracy (a la Francis Fukuyama). International relations policy was close to the PM, and run from the Cabinet Office.

I would argue that Blair and Jonathan Portes are prime examples of neo-liberals. And indeed the Clinton/Blair years were quintessentially neo-liberal in the formerly correct use of the term. Thatcher, as a strong opponent of the welfare state, was not.

Nanikore , May 17, 2018 at 08:49 AM
One further point. Neo-liberals are progressively and socially liberal, as well as economically liberal. They believe in cosmopolitanism and diversity and put much emphasis on minority and women's rights.

NK.

Anarcho , May 17, 2018 at 09:31 AM
"In fact, though, as Will Davies and Adam Curtis have said, neoliberalism entails the use of an active state."

It has always been like that -- Kropotkin was attacking Marxists for suggesting otherwise over a hundred years ago.

"In the mid-80s nobody argued that the share of GDP going to the top 1% should double. Of course, many advocated policies which, it turns out, had this effect. Some of them intended this. But those policies were justified on other grounds, often sincerely."

Yes, different rhetoric was often used -- but the net effect was always obvious, and pointed out at the time. But you get better results with honey than vinegar...

In terms of sincerity, Milton Friedman asserted in "Capitalism and Freedom" that the more a society was "free market," the more equal it was. Come the preface to 50th anniversary edition, he simply failed to mention that applying his own ideology had refuted his assertion (and it was an assertion).

Neo-liberalism never been about reducing "the State" but rather strengthening it in terms of defending and supporting capital. Hence you see Tories proclaim they are "cutting back the state" while also increasing state regulation on trade unions -- and regulating strikes, and so the labour market.

Luis Enrique , May 17, 2018 at 12:12 PM
how coherent are the comments above?

fr'instance

"intervening against organised labour" China bans unions, doesn't it? Are they in this tent too?

"targeting state intervention towards private business" not quite sure what that means but pre-1970 import substitution industrial policy is what?

am I a neoliberal because I think markets do process dispersed information and that competition does some good things (I am worried about monopolies, I would be worried about non-competitive government procurement) or am I not a neoliberal because I am nowhere near thinking markets are omniscient and could write long essays on how markets fail?

am I a neoliberal because I think the Washington Consensus is broadly sensible (with some reservations) or not a neoliberal because I'd like to see far more social housing?

and so on

Nanikore , May 17, 2018 at 03:13 PM
Somewhere along the line neo-liberalism got associated with austerity and small-government policies. The latter I think was because they are (correctly) associated with promoting privatisation and deregulation policy.

But neo-liberals have never been against welfare states in principle or counter-cyclical policy in principle.

Key-neo-liberals, however, were pro-austerity policy after the Asian Financial Crisis - but this included most of the mainstream economics establishment (most crucially of all Stanley Fischer at the IMF). Their rational (naturally enough) related to consistency, credibility, incentives and moral hazard arguments. There were a few who protested (eg Stiglitz). But they were exceptions.

NK.

e , May 17, 2018 at 03:28 PM
@ Luis Enrique
I don't think you'd make the grade as a 'true' neo-liberal unless you'd be happy for your social housing to be less then optimal and only for the destitute. Do you see moral hazard if the housing market is once again sidestepped in favour of decent homes for average every-day heroes, or do you subscribe (explicitly) to the view that the state must sanction and hurt in order that individuals strive?
C Adams , May 17, 2018 at 06:48 PM
@Blissex

"There have been a few books arguing that "the market", being omniscient, all powerful, and just in judging everybody and giving them exactly what they deserve, has replaced God...."

But the market is the creation of man. It has no power, no judgement, other than that bestowed on it by us. My problem with neoliberalism is the belief that decisions can be made on the basis of a money metric whereas we know that money is not necessarily a good measure of value.

Ben Philliskirk , May 17, 2018 at 08:17 PM
@ Luis Enrique

'"intervening against organised labour" China bans unions, doesn't it? Are they in this tent too?'

Well yes. They have taken it further than most countries, stripping back their welfare system while increasing state promotion of capitalist development.

'"targeting state intervention towards private business" not quite sure what that means but pre-1970 import substitution industrial policy is what?'

Import substitution industrial policy is protectionism, not neoliberalism. I'm referring to governments' privatisation and outsourcing of public services and industries, taking them out of political responsibility and collective provision, while at the same time providing them with subsidies and guaranteed markets.

Luis Enrique , May 17, 2018 at 09:26 PM
Ben, ok protectionism is a different tactic than outsourcing but it's intervention towards private business so maybe that's not a defining characteristic of neoliberalism?

And if the Chinese Communist party is neoliberal and also the Koch brothers I am not convinced this is a useful nomenclature

Avraam Jack Dectis , May 17, 2018 at 10:31 PM
Is Productivity Growth like Evolution ? Is it possible that productivity growth is like evolution: It can be a fortitous accident or it can happen due to competitive pressure. The fortuitous accidents are the new technologies whose advantages are so obvious they are quickly adopted.

The competitive pressures can be constraints on profits or resources that force greater efficiency. Perhaps, now, in the UK, there is no shortage of reasonably priced personnel, infrastructure and goods. So, if productivity growth is low, you can be certain neither requirement has been met.

If neither requirement has been met, then, it may well be that there is excessive unused capacity and, if that is the case, GDP growth has been suboptimal.

Which leads to the best question: Is greater GDP growth the result of greater efficiency or is greater efficiency the result of greater GDP growth?

The conclusion is that it may be a mistake to guide policy under the assumption that GDP growth must he preceded by productivity growth. Failing to realize this may be a cause of unnoticed suboptimal GDP growth. .

Hubert Horan , May 18, 2018 at 04:53 PM
1. Neoliberalism is real, but only describes background theoretical claims. It is wrong to apply the term to the broader political movement it supported. The political movement was dedicated to maximizing the power and freedom of action of large-scale capital accumulators. Lots of ideas from neoliberal intellectual argumentation were used to increase the power of capital accumulators, and neoliberal economists tended to ignore many aspects of the political movement they supported (strongr state power, crony capitalism, monopoly power) not strictly part of neoliberal theory

2. The overlap and confusion between neoliberal theory and the political movement for unfettered freedom for capital accumulator is consistent with the broader history of movement conservatism. After WW2, conservatives (broadly defined) had a fixation with developing an intellectual foundatation/justification for their policy preferences. Partly as a reaction to the perception that FDR-LBJ era liberalism was based on theories published by Ivy League professors. The Mont Pelerin intellectual thread that Mirowski and others describe was part of this process. But (even for the liberals) it was always a mistake to claim that intellectual/ideological theorizing lead to political policy and action. It was sometimes the opposite; usually the theory was just a weapon used in internal battles or as a PR tool to mask less savory political objectives.

3. Democratic neoliberalism (Brad DeLong) was always a totally different animal. It was a reaction to the economic crises of the 70s/80s--New Deal policies written in 1934 didn't seem to be working; maybe would should incorporate market forces a bit more.

At the same time Republican neoliberalism had abandoned all pretense of detached analysis and was now strictly a tool supporting the pursuit of power.

Calgacus , May 18, 2018 at 07:38 PM
"Put it this way. In the mid-80s nobody argued that the share of GDP going to the top 1% should double. Of course, many advocated policies which, it turns out, had this effect. Some of them intended this. But those policies were justified on other grounds, often sincerely. Instead, the belief that the top 1% "deserve" 15% of total incomes rather than 7-8% has mostly followed them getting 15%, not led it. "

This is just not true. People did argue that, did announce the intent of these policies in public. Bill Mitchell's former student Victor Quirk is great on such declarations of war on the poor from the rich throughout history. Mitchell himself wrote that he was surprised how many and how blatant these declarations were.

Blissex , May 18, 2018 at 09:54 PM
"But the market is the creation of man. It has no power, no judgement, other than that bestowed on it by us."

But the neoliberal thesis is that it is all-knowing, all-powerful, all-judging. "vox populi vox dei" taken to an extreme.

"My problem with neoliberalism is the belief that decisions can be made on the basis of a money metric"

That to me seems a very poor argument, because then many will object that ignoring the money metric means that you want someone else to pay. Consider the statement "everybody has a right to healthcare free at the point of use": it is mere handwaving unless you explain who and how to pay for it.

The discussion in the money yes/no terms is for me fruitless, because there are two distinct issues in a project: the motivation for there being the project, and the business of doing the project.

Claiming that the *only* motivation for a project should be money seems to me as bad a claiming that given a good motivation how to pay for a project does not matter. Projects don't reduce to their motivation any more than they reduce to the business of doing them.

An extreme example I make is marriage: for me it is (also) a business, as it requires a careful look at money and organization issues, but hopefully the motivation to engage in that business is not economic, but personal feelings.

That's why I mentioned a better-than-Polanyi duality between businesses and institutions: institutions as a rule carry out businesses but for non-business motivations, while "pure" businesses have merely economic motivations.

For example a university setup as a charity versus one setup a a business: both carry out business activities, but the motivation of the former is not merely to do business.

Blissex , May 18, 2018 at 09:57 PM
Repeating the message: "neoliberalism" has a pretty much official definition, the "Washington Consensus". And the core part of the "Washington Consensus" is "labour market reform", that is in practice whichever policies make labour more "competitive" and wages more "affordable".

The "free markets" of neoliberalism are primarily "free" labour markets, that is free of unions.

Mike the Mad Biologist , May 19, 2018 at 01:06 AM
I would argue that, in terms of practical working definitions, Max Sawicky's definition of neo-liberalism seems to work well, at least in the U.S. context (second half of post): https://mikethemadbiologist.com/2017/04/28/remember-the-victims-of-the-nebraska-public-power-district/
C Adams , May 19, 2018 at 08:06 PM
@ Blissex "ignoring the money metric means that you want someone else to pay."

Not sure I follow. If payment is made via money then that is not ignoring the money metric, i.e. money as a measure of value. Do we want someone to do the project and is someone willing and able to do it? If, yes, then money is not (or at least does not need to be) the constraint. It is a mechanism to facilitate the project. If we want universal healthcare, money is not the constraint, the constraint is the ability of society to train and sustain (feed and house) the required expertise.

dilberto , May 19, 2018 at 08:11 PM
"What is neoliberalism?"

Neo-liberalism is an economic idea based on the conjecture that by reverting the level of state spending and regulation of an economy to that which existed at an earlier stage of its economic development will produce the same level of economic growth which the economy experienced then.

But the level of output of an economy is a reflection of the level of the efficiency of that economy, the level of economic growth therefore reflects the rate of increase in its efficiency in terms of increased economic output as the economy develops, a measure which inevitably reduces in its order as an economy approaches its maximum level of efficiency and output. So the rate of economic growth of an economy will inevitably be progressively reduced as an economy matures as the opportunities for efficiency improvements are exploited and the number that remain diminish.

The level of state spending and regulation typical of economically developed societies are responses to the social change which economic development itself has brought about. Abolishing those responses therefore is likely only to serve to reintroduce the social problems which led to their introduction and to make the social consequences of economic development more arduous for the lower social and economic groups disfavoured by that process of social change.

Neo-liberalism is, like other materialist ideology of the progressive left and right, a predominantly economic idea which is a product of the affluent and intellectual classes who themselves, being a product of their elevated economic condition, being dependent upon it and therefore having a vested interest in its continuance, are imbued with a bias which sees the improvement in the general economic condition as a natural unmitigated good and are therefore oblivious or apathetic to its non-material consequences as material progress causes a society and its population to diverge from its native and surviving character as it adapts to the historically exceptional conditions of modernity and undermines its cultural foundation and ultimately threatens its long term cultural future.

nicholas , May 19, 2018 at 10:16 PM
It seems clear from the above posts that there is no clear consensus about what neo-liberalism actually is.

I suggest the use of the term is little more than a cloak used to cover up an uncomfortable reality for those on the left. Traditional left wing policies, such as nationalisation, state intervention in the economy such as rent controls, high marginal tax rates, and strong trade unions systematically failed to deliver prosperity. States which moved to economic models involving more reliance on markets to shift labour and capital to new activities seemed to prosper far better. Rather than say that conservatives such as Friedman were proved right about the fundamental propositions about how an economy should be organised, the soft left adopted conservative policies, and have dressed it up as 'neo-liberalism' to save face.

Indeed, some on the left, such as 'filthy rich' Mandelson, embraced the market economy with the zeal of converts, and have ignored its faults and problems, and have failed to seek to mitigate or remedy these faults and problems.

Nanikore , May 20, 2018 at 07:26 AM
@nicholas

The best thing to do is consult a first or second year undergraduate political science or international relations text. Burchill "Theories of International Relations, Palgrave is a good one, and used in many UK universities. There will be a chapter on neo-liberalism in them. These texts give you the standard blurb on what neo-liberalism really is (as well as what the other major schools of thoughts are together with critiques of all of them).

Neo-liberalism is very much a coherent (but by no means flawless) theory.

Neo-liberalism comes from the subject of international relations. Fukuyama is the most representative neo-liberal. Important is the notion of 'soft power': the spread of capitalism and western culture and other forms of globalisation spreads western notions of democracy and human rights. It was important to integrate countries into the international capitalist (and engage them in the multilateral) system. At the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall this seemed to be a convincing theory. It was very much adopted as a key foreign policy strategy in the UK and the US. One of its biggest blows, however, is the lack of political reform we have seen in China. What this showed was that democratisation does not necessarily follow capitalism and globalisation.

NK.

Nanikore , May 20, 2018 at 07:42 AM
Just to qualify what I said above - the would not use the term "western notions". Ie they would not associate democracy or human rights with being western. They are very cosmopolitan, and believe in the notion of universal, (not relative), values.
Blissex , May 20, 2018 at 03:29 PM
""ignoring the money metric means that you want someone else to pay."
... then money is not (or at least does not need to be) the constraint. It is a mechanism to facilitate the project. If we want universal healthcare, money is not the constraint,"

Oh please, this is just two-bit nominalism: "money" then is just the mechanism by which "you want someone else to pay" and indeed:

"the constraint is the ability of society to train and sustain (feed and house) the required expertise."

That is the *physical* aggregate constraint, regardless of whoever pays, the practical constraint, given that physical stuff is purchased with money, creating or obtaining that money.

The question is then distributional, who is going to pay the money to "train and sustain (feed and house) the required expertise". Unless there are ample unused resources, someone will have to pay.

What right-wingers object to is the idea that "universal health care" is paid for as a percent of income, so that someone on £100,000 a year pays £8,000 a year for exactly the same level of service that someone on £10,000 a year pays £800 a year for.

Jo Park , May 20, 2018 at 07:08 PM
@Luis Enrique: Correct - you are not a neoliberal as you'd like to see far more social housing? A neoliberal believes in more economic freedom, so you achieve the aim of housing people who need state help for housing, food, energy etc by giving them the money to buy a basic level of those things. The State should not be in the business of saying this house here is not a social housing one, but this next that gets built is.
Calgacus , May 21, 2018 at 02:37 AM
Blissex: "Oh please, this is just two-bit nominalism: "money" then is just the mechanism by which "you want someone else to pay""

Umm, no. In real terms, the someone else who is paying in health care is mainly the health care professional treating you.

"Unless there are ample unused resources, someone will have to pay."

But in all modern capitalist countries there are ample unused resources as far as the eye can see. Medicine is one way to use them up, nearly cost-free, and all benefit. Most people value "not being dead" highly. As Paul Samuelson said responding to stupid worries about the cost of the US health care system, so it's 15% (or whatever). It's the best 15% of the economy.

The real problem is that "socialized medicine" is too efficient in real terms, and doesn't create corrupt and powerful satrapies to demand public money, as the US health system does. Since the UK has the most efficient health care system, it has the least real resource "someone has to pay" problem, but it causes the biggest demand gap, the true longterm, macro problem. The opposite for the USA. The real right wing concern is that the underpeople get health care at all, not some smokescreen triviality about nominal taxation.

Most written about health care, as about war, follows the backwards, mainstream way. C Adams is following the correct, MMT/Keynesian way. If that is two-bit nominalism, we need more of it.

Robert Mitchell , May 21, 2018 at 04:37 AM
Blissex: "Oh please, this is just two-bit nominalism: "money" then is just the mechanism by which "you want someone else to pay""

"Unless there are ample unused resources, someone will have to pay."

The Fed proved in 2008 it has ample resources, created with keystrokes, without limits.

In normal times banks and private money markets create dollar-denominated credit at will; in a panic, the Fed backstops the private credit.

Thus, print to pay for social spending. Index incomes to price rises. You can print faster than prices will rise ...

[May 20, 2018] Is Wikipedia An Establishment Psyop Zero Hedge

May 20, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Until recently I haven't been closely following the controversy between Wikipedia and popular anti-imperialist activists like John Pilger, George Galloway, Craig Murray, Neil Clark, Media Lens, Tim Hayward and Piers Robinson. Wikipedia has always been biased in favor of mainstream CNN/CIA narratives, but until recently I hadn't seen much evidence that this was due to anything other than the fact that Wikipedia is a crowdsourced project and most people believe establishment-friendly narratives. That all changed when I read this article by Craig Murra y, which is primarily what I'm interested in directing people's attention to here.

The article, and this one which prompted it by Five Filters , are definitely worth reading in their entirety, because their contents are jaw-dropping. In short there is an account which has been making edits to Wikipedia entries for many nears called Philip Cross. In the last five years this account's operator has not taken a single day off–no weekends, holidays, nothing–and according to their time log they work extremely long hours adhering to a very strict, clockwork schedule of edits throughout the day as an ostensibly unpaid volunteer.

This is bizarre enough, but the fact that this account is undeniably focusing with malicious intent on anti-imperialist activists who question establishment narratives and the fact that its behavior is being aggressively defended by Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales means that there's some serious fuckery afoot.

"Philip Cross", whoever or whatever that is, is absolutely head-over-heels for depraved Blairite war whore Oliver Kamm, whom Cross mentioned as a voice of authority no fewer than twelve times in an entry about the media analysis duo known collectively as Media Lens. Cross harbors a special hatred for British politician and broadcaster George Galloway, who opposed the Iraq invasion as aggressively as Oliver Kamm cheered for it, and on whose Wikipedia entry Cross has made an astonishing 1,800 edits.

me title=

Despite the overwhelming evidence of constant malicious editing, as well as outright admissions of bias by the Twitter account linked to Philip Cross, Jimmy Wales has been extremely and conspicuously defensive of the account's legitimacy while ignoring evidence provided to him.

"Or, just maybe, you're wrong," Wales said to a Twitter user inquiring about the controversy the other day. "Show me the diffs or any evidence of any kind. The whole claim appears so far to be completely ludicrous."

"Riiiiight," said the totally not-triggered Wales in another response. "You are really very very far from the facts of reality here. You might start with even one tiny shred of some kind of evidence, rather than just making up allegations out of thin air. But you won't because trolling."

"You clearly have very very little idea how it works," Wales tweeted in another response. "If your worldview is shaped by idiotic conspiracy sites, you will have a hard time grasping reality."

As outlined in the articles by Murray and Five Filters , the evidence is there in abundance. Five Filters lays out "diffs" (editing changes) in black and white showing clear bias by the Philip Cross account, a very slanted perspective is clearly and undeniably documented, and yet Wales denies and aggressively ridicules any suggestion that something shady could be afoot. This likely means that Wales is in on whatever game the Philip Cross account is playing. Which means the entire site is likely involved in some sort of psyop by a party which stands to benefit from keeping the dominant narrative slanted in a pro-establishment direction.

A 2016 Pew Research Center report found that Wikipedia was getting some 18 billion page views per month . Billion with a 'b'. Youtube recently announced that it's going to be showing text from Wikipedia articles on videos about conspiracy theories to help "curb fake news". Plainly the site is extremely important in the battle for control of the narrative about what's going on in the world. Plainly its leadership fights on one side of that battle, which happens to be the side that favors western oligarchs and intelligence agencies.

How many other "Philip Cross"-like accounts are there on Wikipedia? Has the site always functioned an establishment psyop designed to manipulate public perception of existing power structures, or did that start later? I don't know. Right now all I know is that an agenda very beneficial to the intelligence agencies, war profiteers and plutocrats of the western empire is clearly and undeniably being advanced on the site, and its founder is telling us it's nothing. He is lying. Watch him closely.

* * *

Internet censorship is getting pretty bad, so best way to keep seeing my daily articles is to get on the mailing list for my website , so you'll get an email notification for everything I publish. My articles and podcasts are entirely reader and listener-funded, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook , following my antics on Twitter , checking out my podcast , throwing some money into my hat on Patreon or Paypal , or buying my new book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers . Vote up! 13 Vote down! 0


Cardinal Fang Sun, 05/20/2018 - 21:47 Permalink

Of course it's a psyop

No1uNo -> Cardinal Fang Sun, 05/20/2018 - 21:51 Permalink

reading the "talk" tab page background on ANY wiki page is ALWAYS recommended - it shows the content war by different editors. - Anything on Israel / Palestine for example.

Bitchface-KILLAH -> No1uNo Sun, 05/20/2018 - 21:53 Permalink

Yes.

Post or edit anything on that shit site that goes against the ziomaster's narrative and you will be blocked. Wikipedia just rehashes all the bullshit from the corporate media on Television.

Metabunk and Rationalwiki are the exact same thing too.

cheka -> Bitchface-KILLAH Sun, 05/20/2018 - 22:05 Permalink

(((yes)))

look up the wiki definition of hate group

hint - white, conservative.... nothing else even gets a passing mention

Leakanthrophy -> cheka Sun, 05/20/2018 - 22:15 Permalink

Does the pope shit in the woods after playing with little boys?

95% of things placed in top 3 of Google search are PSYOP. The remaining 5% are those pesky old school blackhat SEO guys that know how to game the search engine.

Wikipedia is as fake as WWE is. But at least WWE has some juicy stuff:

WWE Diva Zelina Vega Nude Photos Leaked

https://celebrity-leaks.net/wwe-diva-zelina-vega-nude-photos-leaked/

Cognitive Dissonance -> Leakanthrophy Sun, 05/20/2018 - 22:23 Permalink

The method is as old as the hills.

To maintain Empire, truth must be co-opt, controlled or crushed.

ClickNLook -> Cognitive Dissonance Sun, 05/20/2018 - 22:31 Permalink

Was it really smart to put history on internet and make it editable?

robertsgt40 -> ClickNLook Sun, 05/20/2018 - 22:35 Permalink

Is that a trick question? I'll check with Snopes.

DownWithYogaPants -> robertsgt40 Sun, 05/20/2018 - 22:39 Permalink

The Zionist side is ALWAYS the side that is presented.

Eustace Mullins was a truly kind individual. His only crime was to not swallow the hogwash Koolaid of the ZioNAZI. For that he was followed by the FBI for 30 years.

But of course all the standard tropes are trotted out on Wikipedia. I suspect that Wiki / Wales gets a lot of funding from YOU KNOW WHO. Same people who has the Germans put people in jail for thought crimes.

You are only safe when you are looking at a page regarding theoretical mathematics. But not mathematics about global warming.

Automatic Choke -> DownWithYogaPants Sun, 05/20/2018 - 22:43 Permalink

among scientists, wiki is well known for utility and accuracy of boring stuff like the thermal conductivity of copper. any controversy involved, and it is worthless.

The First Rule -> Leakanthrophy Sun, 05/20/2018 - 22:34 Permalink

Wikipedia is completely unreliable. Especially when it comes to politics.

You can find LIES GALORE. You can edit the Lies out, document them and backup with sourced justification; but within an hour they will have reset the Lie.

They simply don't care about the Truth.

VWAndy Sun, 05/20/2018 - 21:51 Permalink

Full spectrum dominance folks. Its not like they are short on cash.

911bodysnatchers322 Sun, 05/20/2018 - 22:03 Permalink

People are finally catching up

Aaaand finally: James Corbett of Corbettreport.com, a prolific documentary filmmaker--whose docs are always top rated on topdocumentaryfilms.com, doesn't have a wikipedia page, despite MANY people trying to create one for him. Why is that, you ask? Because they are extremely subversive to the CIA and the established globalist order, and therefore that fact of suppression of Corbett suggests coordination between Wikipedia and the globalist thalassocracy of the empire of the city

Urban Roman Sun, 05/20/2018 - 22:09 Permalink

More to the point:

How close is ZH to being a limited hangout?

How much 'filtering' is being done, and through what channels do filtering requests arrive? (if any)

Lots of news outlets have changed over the last few years. Formerly respected papers have been reduced to tabloids. The Washington Post is now the Bezos Blog, for example. Twitter is popping up 'warnings' about 'fake news'. All the radio and TV channels run identical bullshit war stories within minutes of each other. And Wikipedia has been going downhill for years.

So, is ZH immune to the effluvia from the ministry of truth?

David Rockefeller Sun, 05/20/2018 - 22:24 Permalink

Nice article, but there is a much better way of proving that Wikipedia=CIA. It's true, everybody can edit Wikipedia, but not everyone gets to keep their edits. Here is an experiment that everyone can carry out :

If you edit well or create a new informative page on something of no interest to the FBI or CIA, say astronomy or physics, no problem, your contribution stays. But try to provide evidence--and there is plenty--that the government was involved in the assassinations of MLK, JFK, RFK or the demolitions of 9/11, and you'll be "reverted" (their term) within FIVE minutes. Try to quote Russia's version of the Crimeans' overwhelming vote to join Russia, and you'll be "reverted" lickety split. Provide evidence that Winston Churchill--lionized by our rulers--was an imperialist, a racist, a champion of inequality, and the contribution will disappear while you pause your honest labors for a cup of tea! Our rulers are masters of propaganda, and Wikipedia is just one of their brilliantly vicious outlets--created, controlled, and edited to brainwash us!

[May 20, 2018] Real political power in this world is the ability to control the dominant narrative about what's going on

May 20, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

The reason we are not given a straight answer as to why we're meant to want our institutions fighting an information war on our behalf (instead of allowing us to sort out fact from fiction on our own like adults) is because the answer is ugly.

As we discussed last time , the only real power in this world is the ability to control the dominant narrative about what's going on. The only reason government works the way it works, money operates the way it operates, and authority rests where it rests is because everyone has agreed to pretend that that's how things are. In actuality, government, money and authority are all man-made conceptual constructs and the collective can choose to change them whenever it wants. The only reason this hasn't happened in our deeply dysfunctional society yet is because the plutocrats who rule us have been successful in controlling the narrative.

Whoever controls the narrative controls the world. This has always been the case. In many societies throughout history a guy who made alliances with the biggest, baddest group of armed thugs could take control of the narrative by killing people until the dominant narrative was switched to "That guy is our leader now; whatever he says goes." In modern western society, the real leaders are less obvious, and the narrative is controlled by propaganda.

Propaganda is what keeps Americans accepting things like the fake two-party system, growing wealth inequality, medicine money being spent on bombs to be dropped on strangers in stupid immoral wars, and a government which simultaneously creates steadily increasing secrecy privileges for itself and steadily decreasing privacy rights for its citizenry. It's also what keeps people accepting that a dollar is worth what it's worth, that personal property works the way it works, that the people on Capitol Hill write the rules, and that you need to behave a certain way around a police officer or he can legally kill you.

And therein lies the answer to the question. You are not being protected from "disinformation" by a compassionate government who is deeply troubled to see you believing erroneous beliefs, you are being herded back toward the official narrative by a power establishment which understands that losing control of the narrative means losing power. It has nothing to do with Russia, and it has nothing to do with truth. It's about power, and the unexpected trouble that existing power structures are having dealing with the public's newfound ability to network and share information about what is going on in the world.

[May 20, 2018] Here Comes Tesla's Next Big "Ask" from Taxpayers

May 20, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Economic analysis often uses the term ceteris paribus -- all other things being equal -- but all other things are not equal. The worker Tesla employed might have found employment elsewhere; it may have even been more stable, safer employment that did not entail payment in Tesla equity, that is subject to some uncertainty as to its ultimate value.

To highlight this point, it may be helpful to consider the economic activity generated by Tesla's competitors in California. These competitors' operations are being impaired by Tesla's sale of deeply subsidized cars in the state. While Tesla's competitors do not manufacture cars in the state, they account for

On a more minor point, the IHS Markit report assumes that the $2.1 billion in "wages" paid to Tesla workers is spent in the California economy. As discussed above, the report includes in these "wages" Tesla equity granted to employees without quantifying what percentage of wages this equity represented. We are skeptical as to how many employees spent their Tesla stock to boost local economic activity.

snblitz Sat, 05/19/2018 - 22:20 Permalink

But Elon's Teslas consume twice the fossil fuel per mile driven and produce more pollution than light duty diesels.

https://www.finitespaces.com/2018/02/14/electric-cars-use-twice-as-much-oil-as-diesel-vehicles/

Why would anyone give Tesla a break? Sure the fossil fuel industry is happy to double their income, but why would anyone else?

[May 19, 2018] FBI Spy-Op Exposed, Trump Campaign Infiltrated By Longtime CIA And MI6 Assete

May 19, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

... ... ...

Thanks to Friday's carefully crafted deep-state disclosures by WaPo and the Times , along with actual reporting by the Daily Caller 's Chuck Ross, we now know it wasn't a mole at all - but 73-year-old University of Cambridge professor Stefan Halper, a US citizen, political veteran and longtime US Intelligence asset enlisted by the FBI to befriend and spy on three members of the Trump campaign during the 2016 US election .


Billy the Poet -> Keffus Sat, 05/19/2018 - 13:50 Permalink

the "American academic who teaches in Britain" described by The Times,

Seems like Carter Page knew what he was talking about in this May 11 tweet.

Carter Page, Ph.D. @carterwpage

No @JackPosobiec, not me. But if what I'm hearing alleged is correct, it's a guy I know who splits most his time between inside the Beltway and in one of the other Five Eyes countries.

And if so, it'd be typical: swamp creatures putting themselves first.
4:17 AM - May 11, 2018

Mycroft Holmes IV -> unrulian Sat, 05/19/2018 - 10:17 Permalink

I think Rudy's flipped seeking redemption for his role in 911.

The deep state is not going down quietly or without a fight and they are in full attack mode. Multiple questionable instances yesterday to change news cycle, plus a week worths of leaks by major media mouthpieces justifying their crimes.

What's great is they are so caught up in their nest of lies, each new lie just contradicts previous ones and exposes more of the truth.

Now the question is: How do you bring these people to justice without starting a violent backlash / Civil War?

The cognitive dissonance is very strong on the left and they've fallen victim to hive mentality, simply regurgitating talking points they hear through pop culture and media. We are so afraid of not fitting in (as a society) that we will willingly accept completely contradicting "facts", defend them, and deride those who disagree. Further, there is no room for disagreement, for they are the party of tolerance, and if you disagree with them, you are intolerant, which cannot be tolerated in an open and free society (see how that works?).

The real hope is people are able to break the spell and think for themselves again. But I worry it's too late. A generation of children assaulted with excessive vaccination are now adults and it shows...

Dickweed Wang -> brianshell Sat, 05/19/2018 - 15:34 Permalink

People in the USA better get a grip real fast and realize that it's not Russia, China or Iran that is the real enemy of Americans, it's the British . . . the money gnomes in London and the "Queens men". They've caused more problems for the USA in the last 100+ years than the other three combined many times over.

mccvilb -> Americano Sat, 05/19/2018 - 18:41 Permalink

Let's see. Money was exchanged, foreign govt agents and contractors hired. The FBI knew about Hillary's criminal enterprises and illegal dissemination of classified documents and apparently has been complicit in helping or protecting her. The NYT and WaPo along with the network media regurgitated much of the anti-Trump rhetoric together in sync with the tsunami of fake news, either in creating it or knowingly participating in it. No wonder the news media in a sudden shift have been trying to paint themselves as now being on the other side of this Russkie Fubar after they promoted it 24/7 for two years without let-up. What's the penalty for trying to overthrow the President of the United States? Lots of folks here are sitting on potential indictments for treason. Enough talk. With all they got from the Congressional hearings, and now this, it's time!!!... for Trump to start draining.

T-NUTZ -> DingleBarryObummer Sat, 05/19/2018 - 10:12 Permalink

Why do dual citizens get to "serve" in our high positions of government??

44magnum -> T-NUTZ Sat, 05/19/2018 - 11:32 Permalink

Because that is what (((they))) want. Do a little research on how that came about in the US you will find that the same ole (((culprits))) got the law changed to their benefit of course.

[May 18, 2018] Was it Trump political inexperience or yet another shrwed Obama-style bait and switch operation ?

Lemmings get what they deserve. Almost always as the iron law of oligarchy implies. Period of revolution and social upheaval are probably the only exceptions.
In 2018 there is no doubt that Trump is an agent of Deep State, and probably the most militant part of neocons. What he the agent from the beginning or not is not so important. He managed to fool electorate with false promises like Obama before him and get elected.
May 18, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

bowie28 -> The First Rule Fri, 05/18/2018 - 11:18 Permalink

" Of course it was setup. Rod Rosenstein & Co. have been in on this from the beginning. "

Rosenstein was appointed by Trump. If he is involved in a setup it's more likely it is a setup organized by Trump. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rod_Rosenstein

President Donald Trump nominated Rosenstein to serve as Deputy Attorney General for the United States Department of Justice on February 1, 2017. [25] [26] He was one of the 46 United States Attorneys ordered on March 10, 2017, to resign by Attorney General Jeff Sessions ; Trump declined his resignation. [ 27] Rosenstein was confirmed by the Senate on April 25, 2017, by a vote of 94–6

In May 2017, he authored a memo which President Trump said was the basis of his decision to dismiss FBI Director James Comey . [5] Later that month, Rosenstein appointed special counsel Robert Mueller to investigate alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election and related matters.

Ask yourself why Sessions ordered Rosenstein to resign and Trump declined his resignation? Likely because Sessions was recused from Russia investigation and could not be told Rosenstein was working for Trump from day 1.

(Mueller also met with Trump the day before Rosenstein appointed him SC.)

Also relevant, Rosenstein is Republican and in 2007/8 was blocked from getting a seat on appeals court by Dems. Doesn't seem he would be loyal to the Obama crowd and trying to take down Trump with a phony investigation.

In 2007, President George W. Bush nominated Rosenstein to a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit . Rosenstein was a Maryland resident at the time. Barbara Mikulski and new Democratic Maryland senator, Ben Cardin , blocked Rosenstein's confirmation, stating that he did not have strong enough Maryland legal ties, [24] and due to this Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy did not schedule a hearing on Rosenstein during the 110th Congress and the nomination lapsed. Later, Andre M. Davis was renominated to the same seat by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the Senate in 2009.

Kayman -> bowie28 Fri, 05/18/2018 - 11:59 Permalink

Rosenstein slithered in via Sessions.

Withdrawn Sanction -> bowie28 Fri, 05/18/2018 - 18:16 Permalink

"...a cabal of ruthless and dishonest people..."

You better believe it. What's happened to the NYC detectives who viewed the "insurance policy" on Weiner's laptop? The kiddie stuff is the real hot potato here. The power "elite" are pure unadulterated filth.

rosiescenario -> WarPony Fri, 05/18/2018 - 15:55 Permalink

Yes....when you start to add up various facts coming from this investigation it is easy to argue that the prime beneficiary has been Trump. Why would Trump even consider firing this guy? The more Mueller digs the more crap surfaces about the Dems, and they are in full support of it without any seeming awareness of the results. They are so blinded by their hatred they cannot see reality.

The info from Weiner's computer is really going to make for major popcorn sales. All Hitlery's "lost" emails are in there. All the names in his address book will also make for some interesting reading. Just a guess but there are a lot of very nervous NYC elected officials and pedos making sure their passports are up to date. The Lolita Express to Gitmo....

GoingBig -> bowie28 Fri, 05/18/2018 - 11:22 Permalink

You guys see everything through Trump colored glasses. Trump is dirty and just because the evidence hasn't been shown to you doesn't mean it isn't there. Mueller has the dirt on Trump. It will show. Does everyone here forget that Watergate took 2 1/2 years to play out?

Kayman -> GoingBig Fri, 05/18/2018 - 12:04 Permalink

Watergate was about a burglary and missing tapes.

It wasn't about the Department of Justice and the FBI being rotten to the core.

Emergency Ward -> GoingBig Fri, 05/18/2018 - 13:50 Permalink

Being in the business he is in, there is little doubt that Trump has paid out millions of dollars over the years in bribes and payoffs to greedy politicians, regulators, and zoning commissioners given to filthy lucre in return for building permits, zoning variances, and law changes.

I know he is but what are they? This could be one reason the politicians, regulators, and zoning commissioners hate him so much. He knows what they know.

Trump is no dirtier than other politicians and much less than some. He is just dirty in a way (he was usually the payer, they were the payees) that bothers the other ones.

Honest Sam -> GoingBig Fri, 05/18/2018 - 14:32 Permalink

All politicians and most of humanity 'is dirty'.

There is no man or woman who has or ever will run for office that is not dirty.

As Dershowitz so acutely pointed out, every one of them with an opposition Special Counsel on his case, can find at least 3 crimes they committed.

The only reason theBamster wasn't probed at all is because no one dared go after the only black man to ever run and win for POTUS. HE instead, was protected from any probes.

You're an idiot that doesn't know anything about what this is really all about. Or pretending to. Or a troll. Fuck you for being any of them.

jmack -> One of We Fri, 05/18/2018 - 12:13 Permalink

Obama has a history of taking out his opponents in their personal life, so that he doesnt have to meet them in the political arena, just look at his state campaigns, and then his senate campaign. Look at how he used the bureaucracy during his admin to preempt opposition, not allowing opposition groups to get tax exempt status and sending osha/fbi/treasury etc to harrass people that were more than marginally effective.

With that context set I would like to know the following.

1. Did the brennan/comey/clapper cabal have investigations running on all the gop primary front runners?

2. Did they promote Trump to win the GOP primary, to eliminate those rivals from consideration, just to attempt to destroy him in the general with the russian collusion narrative and his own words.

3. Was Comey's failure to ensure Hillary's victory due to incompetence or arrogance? I say arrogance, because his little late day announcement of the new emails was obviously ass covering so that he could pass whatever senate hearing that would be required for his new post in the hillary administration.

NoDebt Fri, 05/18/2018 - 11:04 Permalink

Having to learn how to deal with mobbed-up lawyers and unions in NYC turns out the be pretty damned good preparation to be President Of The United States. I love watching this guy work.

DingleBarryObummer Fri, 05/18/2018 - 11:05 Permalink

The illegitimate liberal MSM is sucking all the oxygen out of the room for legitimate criticism of Trump. This Russian Collusion stormy daniels stuff is a bunch of bologna, and it's making a smokescreen for Trump to carry out his zio-bankster agenda.

Hegelian dialectic, Divide and conquer, kabuki theater

A real left would be covering this===>

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-01-15/no-one-watched-trump-pardoned
As No One Watched, Trump Pardoned 5 Megabanks For Corruption Charges

Buy they won't because there is no left or right. It's one big uniparty club, and they work together to rob us and lie to us.

Picturing The March Of Tyranny | Zero Hedge

DingleBarryObummer -> brain_glitch Fri, 05/18/2018 - 11:11 Permalink

In the second half of peter schiff's most recent podcast he goes on a good rant/lecture about this topic.

I know Peter Schiff is a controversial figure, and I don't agree with a lot of what he does or says, but sometimes he nails it.

Rex Titter -> DingleBarryObummer Fri, 05/18/2018 - 11:45 Permalink

For the most part I like Peter Schiff. I don't think he talks enough about the criminal manipulation of commodities by the banksters and the seemingly endless reluctance by our glorious leaders to prosecute them.

On this topic: The lawlessness of the 17 agencies is beyond the pale. They have set themselves apart and for this they will have to pay eventually. I have no doubt that in the minds of the Bureau principals there was motive and there was opportunity. I don't believe anything that comes out of their mouths. Robert Mueller is a three letter word for a donkey. He is a criminal and a totally owned puppet of the deep and dark state. Last I heard, the FBI planted a mole in the Trump campaign. Iff true, that speaks volumes...

Pollygotacracker Fri, 05/18/2018 - 11:05 Permalink

It is amazing that President Trump is still standing on his feet and still out there swinging. The man is no coward. I'm glad I voted for him, although I am disappointed in some of his failings.

Son of Captain Nemo -> Pollygotacracker Fri, 05/18/2018 - 11:56 Permalink

"although I am disappointed in some of his failings."...

Yeah I know just what ya mean...

The treason of war crimes he's committed exceeding all of his predecessor(s) in his short assed existence as President and threatening war on two nuclear superpowers that could easily wipe his office and 4 thousand square miles of CONUS " off the map "!...

Endorsing a torturer murder to head the CIA condoning her efforts in public "thumbing his nose" at Article 3 Geneva the U.S. Constitution and for his military to tacitly continue disobeying the UCMJ as a response to that "selection"!...

Telling the parasitic partner that owns him through blackmail that Jerusalem is the Capital of IsraHell as over 200 Palestinians are murdered and 3 thousand others injured in joyous celebration of that violation of international law which is the equivalent of pouring "gasoline" on a building that has already been reduced to "ash"...

And speaking of "buildings" and "ash"... The pledge he ignored before being "anointed" that he said he would investigate but of course DID NOT ( https://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2016/11/14/trump-im-reopening-911-inve )

... ... ...

ioniancat21 Fri, 05/18/2018 - 11:16 Permalink

They didn't really think things through when they plotted against Trump and figured Hillary would win and they could sweep this under the rug and then she lost. Funnier is that many expected her to lose as she never won an election in her life despite her being "The Most Qualified" candidate as her parrots in the media lovingly called her. Now Trump and his team will stomp them all into the ground. My guess is that he'll pinch others in her gang who have big egos so that they'll talk and drop a dime which they will. The libtards are turning on themselves in every area now. Look at Hollywood and the sexual harassment cases in the pipeline.

It's just so pleasurable watching your enemy fall on their sword while you sit back and enjoy life and smile....

Chief Joesph Fri, 05/18/2018 - 11:21 Permalink

Was the Trump campaign "Set-up"? It's just another way the oligarchy is deflecting what the real problem is. Americans are fed up with the political status quo in this country, and wanted a change. Neither political party offers any change for the better. It is also why Bernie Sanders had a huge following, but no one is calling his campaign a "set-up", and he would have been the more likely choice the Russians would have helped.

It really doesn't make any sense why the Russians would have selected Trump, but it makes a lot of sense why the oligarchy would want to discredit Trump any means availble to them. And since they have always hated Russia so much, that is the big tip-off of who comes up with these stupid stories about Russians meddling in our elections.

GRDguy Fri, 05/18/2018 - 11:15 Permalink

We voted against the powers that be. With Truman, we got a decent man that was manipulated by the Deep State. With Trump, we got a not-so-decent man, but still manipulated by the Deep State. Sigh.

hooligan2009 Fri, 05/18/2018 - 11:57 Permalink

there needs to be a schedule drawn up of charges against individuals. it's all very well talking and talking anf talking around the water cooler, but until the charges are drawn up and a grand jury empowered, it is all pissing into the wind.

the individuals range from obama through clinton, through the loathsome slimebags in the alphabet soup, through foundations, through DNC leaders/politicians, through Weiner, Abedin, Rice and the witches cabal (Wasserstein Schulz etc), UK intel agencies, awan brothers, pakistan intel supplying Iran with classified documents and so on.

there are charges (of treason, sedition, wilful mishandling of classifed documents, bribery, corruption, murder, child trafficking, election rigging, spying for/collusion with foreign powers, funding terrorism, child abuse, election rigging/tampering, misappropriation of federal funds, theft etc as well as general malfeasance, failure to perform duties and so on) that are not being brought that are so obvious, only a snowflake would miss them.

what charges can be brought against the MSM for propaganda, misdirection, lying, fabrication and attempting to ovetthrow a legitimately elected president using these techniques to further their own ends? there is no freedom of the press to lie and further civil unrest.

a list of charges against individuals in the DNC/alphabet soup is what is needed. if the DoJ is so incompetent or corrupt that it is unable to do its job, private law suits need to be brought to get all the facts out in the open.

someone needs to write the book and make it butt hole shaped to shove up all those that try to make a living out of making up gossip in the NYT, WaPo, CNN, BBC, Economist, Madcow, SNL, Oliver and so on.

these people are guilty of being assholes and need their assholes (mouths) plugged with a very think fifteen inch book.

Anonymous_Bene Fri, 05/18/2018 - 11:57 Permalink

Divide and conquer playing out in front of your faces. Trump, Hitlary, Obama, DiGenova, Giuliani, etc. etc...all "deep state".

Mission accomplished.

Anonymous_Bene Fri, 05/18/2018 - 12:01 Permalink

It's amazing that you fools still believe in your hearts that Trump is not a deep stater. LOL

insanelysane -> Anonymous_Bene Fri, 05/18/2018 - 13:04 Permalink

Trump might become a deep stater but he definitely wasn't one of them. Google "offer to pay trump to drop out of election" and see how many stories there were. Here is one of them.

http://fortune.com/2017/12/05/donald-trump-2016-race-mike-pence-preside

RedDwarf Fri, 05/18/2018 - 12:45 Permalink

"At some point, the Russia investigation became political. How early was it?"

I am going to go out on the shortest limb in history and say it was political from the beginning.

insanelysane Fri, 05/18/2018 - 13:13 Permalink

I hope someone writes a book on this with all of the timing and all of the "little" things that happened on the way to the coronation of Hillary. Comey "interviews" Hillary on 4th of July weekend. Wraps up case by 9am Tuesday after 4th of July. By noon, Hillary and Obama are on Air Force 1 to begin campaign. Within a few weeks Seth Rich is dead and DWS avoids being "killed in an armed robbery gone bad" when she steps down as head of DNC. Above article forgets to mention that GPS also hired the wife of someone in the government as part of the "fact gathering" team.

[May 18, 2018] IG Horowitz Finds FBI, DOJ Broke Law In Clinton Probe, Refers To Prosecutor For Criminal Charges

Notable quotes:
"... On July 27, 2017 the House Judiciary Committee called on the DOJ to appoint a Special Counsel, detailing their concerns in 14 questions pertaining to "actions taken by previously public figures like Attorney General Loretta Lynch, FBI Director James Comey, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton." ..."
"... On September 26, 2017 , The House Judiciary Committee repeated their call to the DOJ for a special counsel, pointing out that former FBI Director James Comey lied to Congress when he said that he decided not to recommend criminal charges against Hillary Clinton until after she was interviewed, when in fact Comey had drafted her exoneration before said interview. ..."
"... And now, the OIG report can tie all of this together - as it will solidify requests by Congressional committees, while also satisfying a legal requirement for the Department of Justice to impartially appoint a Special Counsel. ..."
"... Who cares how many task forces, special prosecutors, grand juries, commissions, or other crap they throw at this black hole of corruption? We all know the score. The best we can hope for is that the liberals and neo-cons are embarrassed enough to crawl under a rock for awhile, and it slows down implementation of their Orwellian agenda for a few years. ..."
May 18, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

As we reported on Thursday , a long-awaited report by the Department of Justice's internal watchdog into the Hillary Clinton email investigation has moved into its final phase, as the DOJ notified multiple subjects mentioned in the document that they can privately review it by week's end, and will have a "few days" to craft any response to criticism contained within the report, according to the Wall Street Journal .

Those invited to review the report were told they would have to sign nondisclosure agreements in order to read it , people familiar with the matter said. They are expected to have a few days to craft a response to any criticism in the report, which will then be incorporated in the final version to be released in coming weeks . - WSJ

Now, journalist Paul Sperry reports that " IG Horowitz has found "reasonable grounds" for believing there has been a violation of federal criminal law in the FBI/DOJ's handling of the Clinton investigation/s and has referred his findings of potential criminal misconduct to Huber for possible criminal prosecution ."

Who is Huber?

As we reported in March , Attorney General Jeff Sessions appointed John Huber - Utah's top federal prosecutor, to be paired with IG Horowitz to investigate the multitude of accusations of FBI misconduct surrounding the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The announcement came one day after Inspector General Michael Horowitz confirmed that he will also be investigating allegations of FBI FISA abuse .

While Huber's appointment fell short of the second special counsel demanded by Congressional investigators and concerned citizens alike, his appointment and subsequent pairing with Horowitz is notable - as many have pointed out that the Inspector General is significantly limited in his abilities to investigate. Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) noted in March " the IG's office does not have authority to compel witness interviews, including from past employees, so its investigation will be limited in scope in comparison to a Special Counsel investigation ,"

Sessions' pairing of Horowitz with Huber keeps the investigation under the DOJ's roof and out of the hands of an independent investigator .

***

Who is Horowitz?

In January, we profiled Michael Horowitz based on thorough research assembled by independent investigators. For those who think the upcoming OIG report is just going to be "all part of the show" - take pause; there's a good chance this is an actual happening, so you may want to read up on the man whose year-long investigation may lead to criminal charges against those involved.

In short - Horowitz went to war with the Obama Administration to restore the OIG's powers - and didn't get them back until Trump took office.

Horowitz was appointed head of the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) in April, 2012 - after the Obama administration hobbled the OIG's investigative powers in 2011 during the "Fast and Furious" scandal. The changes forced the various Inspectors General for all government agencies to request information while conducting investigations, as opposed to the authority to demand it. This allowed Holder (and other agency heads) to bog down OIG requests in bureaucratic red tape, and in some cases, deny them outright.

What did Horowitz do? As one twitter commentators puts it, he went to war ...

In March of 2015, Horowitz's office prepared a report for Congress titled Open and Unimplemented IG Recommendations . It laid the Obama Admin bare before Congress - illustrating among other things how the administration was wasting tens-of-billions of dollars by ignoring the recommendations made by the OIG.

After several attempts by congress to restore the OIG's investigative powers, Rep. Jason Chaffetz successfully introduced H.R.6450 - the Inspector General Empowerment Act of 2016 - signed by a defeated lame duck President Obama into law on December 16th, 2016 , cementing an alliance between Horrowitz and both houses of Congress .

1) Due to the Inspector General Empowerment Act of 2016, the OIG has access to all of the information that the target agency possesses. This not only includes their internal documentation and data, but also that which the agency externally collected and documented.

TrumpSoldier (@DaveNYviii) January 3, 2018

See here for a complete overview of the OIG's new and restored powers. And while the public won't get to see classified details of the OIG report, Mr. Horowitz is also big on public disclosure:

Horowitz's efforts to roll back Eric Holder's restrictions on the OIG sealed the working relationship between Congress and the Inspector General's ofice, and they most certainly appear to be on the same page. Moreover, FBI Director Christopher Wray seems to be on the same page

Here's a preview:

https://twitter.com/DaveNYviii/status/939074607352614912

Which brings us back to the OIG report expected by Congress a week from Monday.

On January 12 of last year, Inspector Horowitz announced an OIG investigation based on " requests from numerous Chairmen and Ranking Members of Congressional oversight committees, various organizations (such as Judicial Watch?), and members of the public ."

The initial focus ranged from the FBI's handling of the Clinton email investigation, to whether or not Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe should have been recused from the investigation (ostensibly over $700,000 his wife's campaign took from Clinton crony Terry McAuliffe around the time of the email investigation), to potential collusion with the Clinton campaign and the timing of various FOIA releases. Which brings us back to the OIG report expected by Congress a week from Monday.

On July 27, 2017 the House Judiciary Committee called on the DOJ to appoint a Special Counsel, detailing their concerns in 14 questions pertaining to "actions taken by previously public figures like Attorney General Loretta Lynch, FBI Director James Comey, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton."

The questions range from Loretta Lynch directing Mr. Comey to mislead the American people on the nature of the Clinton investigation, Secretary Clinton's mishandling of classified information and the (mis)handling of her email investigation by the FBI, the DOJ's failure to empanel a grand jury to investigate Clinton, and questions about the Clinton Foundation, Uranium One, and whether the FBI relied on the "Trump-Russia" dossier created by Fusion GPS.

On September 26, 2017 , The House Judiciary Committee repeated their call to the DOJ for a special counsel, pointing out that former FBI Director James Comey lied to Congress when he said that he decided not to recommend criminal charges against Hillary Clinton until after she was interviewed, when in fact Comey had drafted her exoneration before said interview.

And now, the OIG report can tie all of this together - as it will solidify requests by Congressional committees, while also satisfying a legal requirement for the Department of Justice to impartially appoint a Special Counsel.

As illustrated below by TrumpSoldier , the report will go from the Office of the Inspector General to both investigative committees of Congress, along with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and is expected within weeks .

Once congress has reviewed the OIG report, the House and Senate Judiciary Committees will use it to supplement their investigations , which will result in hearings with the end goal of requesting or demanding a Special Counsel investigation. The DOJ can appoint a Special Counsel at any point, or wait for Congress to demand one. If a request for a Special Counsel is ignored, Congress can pass legislation to force an the appointment.

And while the DOJ could act on the OIG report and investigate / prosecute themselves without a Special Counsel, it is highly unlikely that Congress would stand for that given the subjects of the investigation.

After the report's completion, the DOJ will weigh in on it. Their comments are key. As TrumpSoldier points out in his analysis, the DOJ can take various actions regarding " Policy, personnel, procedures, and re-opening of investigations. In short, just about everything (Immunity agreements can also be rescinded). "

Meanwhile, recent events appear to correspond with bullet points in both the original OIG investigation letter and the 7/27/2017 letter forwarded to the Inspector General:

... ... ...

With the wheels set in motion last week seemingly align with Congressional requests and the OIG mandate, and the upcoming OIG report likely to serve as a foundational opinion, the DOJ will finally be empowered to move forward with an impartially appointed Special Counsel.


IntercoursetheEU -> Shitonya Serfs Thu, 05/17/2018 - 14:41 Permalink

"To save his presidency, Trump must expose a host of criminally cunning Deep State political operatives as enemies to the Constitution, including John Brennan, Eric Holder, Loretta Lynch, James Comey and Robert Mueller - as well as Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton."

Killing the Deep State , Dr Jerome Corsi, PhD., p xi

nmewn -> putaipan Thu, 05/17/2018 - 19:21 Permalink

I've been more than upfront about my philosophy. I have said on more than one occasion that progs will rue the day they drove a New Yorker like Trump even further to the right.

Now you see it in his actions from the judiciary to bureaucracy destruction to (pick any) and...as I often cite... some old dead white guy once said ..."First they came for the ___ and I did not speak out. Then they came for..."

Now I advocate for progs to swim in their own deadly juices, without a moment's hesitation on my part, without any furtive look back, without remorse or any compassion whatsover.

Forward! ...I think is what they said, welcome to the Death Star ;-)

nmewn -> IridiumRebel Fri, 05/18/2018 - 06:19 Permalink

Absolutely.

There have been (and are) plenty on "our side"...Boehner, Cantor, McCain, Romney and the thinly disguised "social democrat" Bill Kristol just to name several off the top of my head but the thing is, they always have to hide what they really are from us until rooted out.

That's what I try to point out to "our friends" on the left all the time, for example, there was never any doubt that Chris Dodd, Bwaney Fwank and Chuck Schumer were (and are) in Wall Streets back pocket. But for any prog to openly admit that is to sign some sort of personal death warrant, to be ostracized, blacklisted and harassed out of "the liberal community" so, they bite their tongue & say nothing...knowing what the truth really is.

Hell, they even named a "financial reform bill" after Dodd & Frank...LMAO!!!

It's just the dripping hypocrisy that gets me.

For another example, they knew what was going on with Weinstein, Lauer, Spacey, Rose etal but as long as the cash flowed and they towed-the-prog-BS-line outwardly, they gladly looked the other way and in the end...The Oprah...gives a speech in front of them (as they bark & clap like trained seals) about...Jim Crow?

Jim Crow?!...lol...one has nothing to do with the other Oprah! The perps & enablers are sitting right there in front of you!

It's just friggin surreal sometimes.

G-R-U-N-T -> Newspeaktogo Thu, 05/17/2018 - 21:06 Permalink

"After the report's completion, the DOJ will weigh in on it. Their comments are key. As TrumpSoldier points out in his analysis, the DOJ can take various actions regarding " Policy, personnel, procedures, and re-opening of investigations. In short, just about everything (Immunity agreements can also be rescinded). "

Rescind Immunity, absolutely damn right, put them ALL under oath and on the stand! This is huge! Indeed this goes all the way to the top, would like to see Obama and the 'career criminal' testify under oath explaining how their tribe conspired to frame Trump and the American people.

Hell, put them on trial in a military court for Treason, what's the punishment for Treason these days???

Also would like to see Kerry get fried under the 'Logan Act'!

Gardentoolnumber5 -> BigSwingingJohnson Thu, 05/17/2018 - 18:50 Permalink

As are half of their fellow travelers in the GOP. Neocon liars. Talk small constitutional govt then vote for war. Those two are direct opposites, war and small govt. The liars must be exposed and removed. The Never Trumpers have outed themselves but many are hiding in plain sight proclaiming they support the President. It appears they have manipulated Trump into an aggressive stance against Russia with their anti Russia hysteria. Time will tell. The bank and armament industries must be removed from any kind of influence within our govt. Most of these are run by big govt collectivists aka communists/globalists.

jin187 -> IridiumRebel Fri, 05/18/2018 - 05:33 Permalink

NO ONE IS GOING TO JAIL OVER THIS.

Who cares how many task forces, special prosecutors, grand juries, commissions, or other crap they throw at this black hole of corruption? We all know the score. The best we can hope for is that the liberals and neo-cons are embarrassed enough to crawl under a rock for awhile, and it slows down implementation of their Orwellian agenda for a few years.

[May 18, 2018] MAGA = Mueller Ain't Going Away

This cat fight between two factions of the US elite is not even that funny anymore...
May 18, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Insurrector -> yaright Fri, 05/18/2018 - 12:27 Permalink

MAGA = Mueller Ain't Going Away

[May 14, 2018] Skeptical Geologist Warns Permian's Best Years Are Behind Us

May 14, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Tsvetana Paraskova via OilPrice.com,

Geologist Arthur Berman, who has been skeptical about the shale boom, warned on Thursday that the Permian's best years are gone and that the most productive U.S. shale play has just seven years of proven oil reserves left.

"The best years are behind us," Bloomberg quoted Berman as saying at the Texas Energy Council's annual gathering in Dallas.

The Eagle Ford is not looking good, either, according to Berman, who is now working as an industry consultant, and whose pessimistic outlook is based on analyses of data about reserves and production from more than a dozen prominent U.S. shale companies.

"The growth is done," he said at the gathering.

Those who think that the U.S. shale production could add significant crude oil supply to the global market are in for a disappointment, according to Berman.

"The reserves are respectable but they ain't great and ain't going to save the world," Bloomberg quoted Berman as saying.

Yet, Berman has not sold the EOG Resources stock that he has inherited from his father "because they're a pretty good company."

The short-term drilling productivity outlook by the EIA estimates that the Permian's oil production hit 3.110 million bpd in April, and will rise by 73,000 bpd to 3.183 million bpd in May.

Earlier this week, the EIA raised its forecast for total U.S. production this year and next. In the latest Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO), the EIA said that it expects U.S. crude oil production to average 10.7 million bpd in 2018, up from 9.4 million bpd in 2017, and to average 11.9 million bpd in 2019, which is 400,000 bpd higher than forecast in the April STEO. In the current outlook, the EIA forecasts U.S. crude oil production will end 2019 at more than 12 million bpd.

Yet, production is starting to outpace takeaway capacity in the Permian, creating bottlenecks that could slow down the growth pace.

Drillers may soon start to test the Permian region's geological limits, Wood Mackenzie has warned. And if E&P companies can't overcome the geological constraints with tech breakthroughs, WoodMac has warned that Permian production could peak in 2021 , putting more than 1.5 million bpd of future production in question, and potentially significantly influencing oil prices.

The takeaway bottlenecks have hit WTI crude oil priced in Midland, Texas, which declined sharply compared with Brent in April, the EIA said in the May STEO.

" As production grows beyond the capacity of existing pipeline infrastructure, producers must use more expensive forms of transportation, including rail and trucks. As a result, WTI Midland price spreads widened to the largest discount to Brent since 2014. The WTI Midland differential to Brent settled at -$17.69/b on May 3, which represents a widening of $9.76/b since April 2," the EIA said.

[May 04, 2018] Attention Hookers: Special Counsel urgently needs your stories. We pay top dollar.

May 04, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

XXX -> IntercoursetheEU Fri, 05/04/2018 - 11:43 Permalink

Attention Hookers : Special Counsel urgently needs your stories. We pay top dollar. Big tits, role-play, and lying required. Television experience preferred. No drug screening. No background check. Transportation included.

Call 1-800-George-Soros or contact the Law Offices of Wray, Mueller, and Rosenstein, LLC.

[May 04, 2018] Atlantic Council Explains Why We Need To Be Propagandized For Our Own Good Zero Hedge

Notable quotes:
"... Internet censorship is getting pretty bad, so best way to keep seeing my daily articles is to get on the mailing list for my website , so you'll get an email notification for everything I publish. My articles and podcasts are entirely reader and listener-funded, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook , following my antics on Twitter , checking out my podcast , throwing some money into my hat on Patreon or Paypal , or buying my new book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers . ..."
"... People are not turning to the MSM, they are heading straight to: MoA, ZH, PCR, RT... this is where people now turn to find the truth! The two most frequent, each appearing in six out of seven datasets? ZeroHedge and RT. ..."
"... I have never been a Trump supporter, but IMO the one positive I saw back in the elections is that his character would bring about exactly this loss of trust. Not "He's bad and we can't trust him," so much as the fact that he's polarizing, and will fight everyone, and has inadvertently caused a lot of bad people to expose themselves. ..."
May 04, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Atlantic Council Explains Why We Need To Be Propagandized For Our Own Good

by Tyler Durden Fri, 05/04/2018 - 19:05 9 SHARES Authored by Caitlin Johnstone via Medium.com,

I sometimes try to get establishment loyalists to explain to me exactly why we're all meant to be terrified of this "Russian propaganda" thing they keep carrying on about. What is the threat, specifically? That it makes the public less willing to go to war with Russia and its allies? That it makes us less trusting of lying, torturing, coup-staging intelligence agencies? Does accidentally catching a glimpse of that green RT logo turn you to stone like Medusa, or melt your face like in Raiders of the Lost Ark ?

"Well, it makes us lose trust in our institutions," is the most common reply.

Okay. So? Where's the threat there? We know for a fact that we've been lied to by those institutions. Iraq isn't just something we imagined . We should be skeptical of claims made by western governments, intelligence agencies and mass media. How specifically is that skepticism dangerous?

me title=

Trying to get answers to such questions from rank-and-file empire loyalists is like pulling teeth, and they are equally lacking in the mass media who are constantly sounding the alarm about Russian propaganda. All I see are stories about Russia funding environmentalists (the horror!), giving a voice to civil rights activists (oh noes!), and retweeting articles supportive of Jeremy Corbyn (think of the children!). At its very most dramatic, this horrifying, dangerous epidemic of Russian propaganda is telling westerners to be skeptical of what they're being told about the Skripal poisoning and the alleged Douma gas attack , both of which do happen to have some very significant causes for skepticism .

When you try to get down to the brass tacks of the actual argument being made and demand specific details about the specific threats we're meant to be worried about, there aren't any to be found. Nobody's been able to tell me what specifically is so dangerous about westerners being exposed to the Russian side of international debates, or of Russians giving a platform to one or both sides of an American domestic debate. Even if every single one of the allegations about Russian bots and disinformation are true ( and they aren't ), where is the actual clear and present danger? No one can say.

No one, that is, except the Atlantic Council.

me title=

In an absolutely jaw-dropping article that you should definitely read in its entirety , Elizabeth Braw took it upon herself to finally answer the question of why Russian propaganda is so dangerous, using the following hypothetical scenario :

What if Russia suddenly announced that its Baltic Fleet had dispatched an armada towards Britain? Would most people greet the news with steely resolve in the knowledge that their governments would know what to do, or would constant Kremlin-influenced reports about the incompetence of British institutions make them conclude that any resistance was pointless?

I mean, wow. Wow! Just wow. Where to even begin with this?

Before I continue, I should note that Braw is a Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council, the shady NATO-aligned think tank with ties to powerful oligarchs whose name comes up when you look into many of the mainstream anti-Russia narratives, from the DNC hack to the discredited war propaganda firm Bellingcat to Russian trolls to the notorious PropOrNot blacklist publicized by the Washington Post . Her article , published by Defense One , is titled "We Need a NATO for Infowar", and it argues that westerners need to be propagandized by an alliance of western governments for our own good.

Back to the aforementioned excerpt. Braw claims that if Russian propaganda isn't shut down or counteracted, Russia could send a fleet of war ships to attack Britain, and the British people would react unenthusiastically? Wouldn't cheer loudly enough as the British Navy fought the Russians? Would have a defeatist emotional demeanor? What exactly is the argument here?

That's seriously her only attempt to directly address the question of where the actual danger is. Even in the most cartoonishly dramatic hypothetical scenario this Atlantic Council member can possibly imagine, there's still no tangible threat of any kind. Even if Russia was directly attacking the United Kingdom at home, and Russian propaganda had somehow magically dominated all British airwaves and been believed by the entire country, that still wouldn't have any impact on the British military's ability to fight a naval battle. There's literally no extent to which you can inflate this "Russian propaganda" hysteria to turn it into a possible threat to actual people in real life.

me title=

It gets better. Check out this excerpt:

Such responses to disinformation are like swatting flies: time-consuming and ineffective. But not addressing disinformation is ineffective, too. "Western media still have this thing where they try to be completely balanced, so they'll say, 'the Russians say this, but on the other hand the Americans say this is not true,' They end up giving a lie and the truth the same value," noted Toomas Hendrik Ilves, the former president of Estonia.

I just have so many questions. Like, how desperate does a writer have to be for an expert who can lend credibility to their argument that they have to reach all the way over to a former president of Estonia? And on what planet are these people living where Russian narratives are given the same weight as western narratives by western mainstream media? How can I get to this fantastical parallel dimension where western media "try to be completely balanced" and give equal coverage to all perspectives?

Braw argues that, because Russian propaganda is so dangerous (what with the threat of British people having insufficient emotional exuberance during a possible naval battle and all), what is required is a "NATO of infowar", an alliance of western state media that is tasked with combatting Russian counter-narratives. Because, in the strange Dungeons & Dragons fantasy fairy world in which Braw penned her article, this isn't already happening.

And of course, here in the real world, it is already happening. As I wrote recently , mainstream media outlets have been going out of their minds churning out attack editorials on anyone who questions the establishment narrative about what happened in Douma. A BBC reporter recently admonished a retired British naval officer for voicing skepticism of what we're being told about Syria on the grounds that it might "muddy the waters" of the "information war" that is being fought against Russia. All day, every day, western mass media are pummeling the public with stories about how awful and scary Russians are and how everything they say is a lie.

This is because western mass media outlets are owned by western plutocrats, and those plutocrats have built their empires upon a status quo that they have a vested interest in preserving, often to the point where they will form alliances with defense and intelligence agencies to do so. They hire executives and editors who subscribe to a pro-establishment worldview, who in turn hire journalists who subscribe to a pro-establishment worldview, and in that way they ensure that all plutocrat-owned media outlets are advancing pro-plutocrat agendas.

me title=

The western empire is ruled by a loose transnational alliance of plutocrats and secretive government agencies. That loose alliance is your real government, and that government has the largest state media network in the history of civilization. The mass media propaganda machine of the western empire makes RT look like your grandmother's Facebook wall.

In that way, we are being propagandized constantly by the people who really rule us. All this panic about Russian propaganda doesn't exist because our dear leaders have a problem with propaganda, it exists because they believe only they should be allowed to propagandize us.

And, unlike Russian propaganda, western establishment propaganda actually does pose a direct threat to us. By using mass media to manipulate the ways we think and vote, our true rulers can persuade us to consent to crushing austerity measures and political impotence while the oligarchs grow richer and medicine money is spent on bombs. When we should all be revolting against an oppressive Orwellian oligarchy, we are instead lulled to sleep by those same oligarchs and their hired talking heads lying to us about freedom and democracy.

Russian propaganda is not dangerous. Having access to other ways of looking at global geopolitics is not dangerous. What absolutely is dangerous is a vast empire concerning itself with the information and ideas that its citizenry have access to. Get your rapey, manipulative fingers out of our minds, please.

If our dear leaders are so worried about our losing faith in our institutions, they shouldn't be concerning themselves with manipulating us into trusting them, they should be making those institutions more trustworthy.

Don't manipulate better, be better. The fact that an influential think tank is now openly advocating the former over the latter should concern us all.

* * *

Internet censorship is getting pretty bad, so best way to keep seeing my daily articles is to get on the mailing list for my website , so you'll get an email notification for everything I publish. My articles and podcasts are entirely reader and listener-funded, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook , following my antics on Twitter , checking out my podcast , throwing some money into my hat on Patreon or Paypal , or buying my new book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers .

Bitcoin donations:1Ac7PCQXoQoLA9Sh8fhAgiU3PHA2EX5Zm2


EuroPox -> Bitchface-KILLAH Fri, 05/04/2018 - 19:17 Permalink

BBC, CNN, etc. - they have already lost!

This is a great chart - it shows websites linked from 'false flag' tweets:

https://twitter.com/conspirator0/status/987147903453073409

People are not turning to the MSM, they are heading straight to: MoA, ZH, PCR, RT... this is where people now turn to find the truth! The two most frequent, each appearing in six out of seven datasets? ZeroHedge and RT.

Well done ZH!

techpriest -> Bitchface-KILLAH Fri, 05/04/2018 - 19:19 Permalink

"Well, it makes us lose trust in our institutions," is the most common reply.

I have never been a Trump supporter, but IMO the one positive I saw back in the elections is that his character would bring about exactly this loss of trust. Not "He's bad and we can't trust him," so much as the fact that he's polarizing, and will fight everyone, and has inadvertently caused a lot of bad people to expose themselves.

Why should you trust people who think they have the right to take whatever amount of your money they want, use it for any purpose they want, and also who believe they have the right to harass, torture, stalk, or kill whoever they want, on any pretext they feel like thinking up?

navy62802 Fri, 05/04/2018 - 19:17 Permalink

The Atlantic Council is just another tentacle of the Soros Squid. The man should have been dealt with as a Nazi collaborator in the aftermath of World War 2. Unfortunately for humanity, he evaded accountability for his crimes against humanity during the war.

[May 04, 2018] Judge Mulls Dismissal Of Manafort Charges, Sharply Questioned Mueller Overreach Zero Hedge

May 04, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Judge Mulls Dismissal Of Manafort Charges, "Sharply Questioned" Mueller Overreach

by Tyler Durden Fri, 05/04/2018 - 11:39 4.1K SHARES

Like most motions to dismiss, Paul Manafort's was initially viewed as a long-shot bid to win the political operative his freedom and get out from under the thumb of Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

But after today's hearing on a motion to dismiss filed by Manafort's lawyers, it's looking increasingly likely that Manafort could escape his charges - and be free of his ankle bracelets - because in a surprising rebuke of Mueller's "overreach", Eastern District of Virginia Judge T.S. Ellis, a Reagan appointee, said Mueller shouldn't have "unfettered power" to prosecute over charges that have nothing to do with collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians.

Ellis said he's concerned Mueller is only pursuing charges against Manafort (and presumably other individuals) to pressure them into turning on Trump. The Judge added that the charges brought against Manafort didn't appear to stem from Mueller's collusion probe. Instead, they appeared to be the work of an older investigation into Manafort that was eventually dropped.

"I don't see how this indictment has anything to do with anything the special prosecutor is authorized to investigate," Ellis said at a hearing in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, concerning a motion by Manafort to dismiss the case.

It got better: Ellis also slammed prosecutors saying it appeared they were using the indictment of Manafort to pressure him to cooperate against Trump. Manafort, 69, has pleaded not guilty and disputes Mueller's assertion that he violated U.S. laws when he worked for a decade as a political consultant for pro-Russian groups in Ukraine.

"You don't really care about Mr. Manafort's bank fraud," Ellis said. "You really care about what information he might give you about Mr. Trump and what might lead to his impeachment or prosecution. "

According to Bloomberg, Ellis is overseeing one of two indictments against Manafort. Manafort is also charged in Washington with money laundering and failing to register as a foreign agent of Ukraine.

* * *

Manafort's lawyers had asked the judge in the Virginia case to dismiss an indictment filed against him in what was their third effort to beat back criminal charges by attacking Mueller's authority. The judge also questioned why Manafort's case there could not be handled by the U.S. attorney's office in Virginia, rather than the special counsel's office, as it is not Russia-related . A question many others have asked, as well.

Ellis has given prosecutors two weeks to show what evidence they have that Manafort was complicit in colluding with the Russians. If they can't come up with any, he may, presumably, dismiss the case. Ellis also asked the special counsel's office to share privately with him a copy of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosentein's August 2017 memo elaborating on the scope of Mueller's Russia probe. He said the current version he has been heavily redacted.

At that point, should nothing change materially, Manafort may be a free man; needless to say, a dismissal would set precedent and be nothing short of groundbreaking by potentially making it much harder for Mueller to turn other witnesses against the president.

[May 02, 2018] Sanctimonious liar James Comey s Forgotten Rescue Of Bush-Era Torture

While Mueller claim to fame was his handing of 9/11 investigation, Comey made his mark in approval of torture...
May 02, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by James Bovard via The Mises Institute,

" Here I stand, I can do no other," James Comey told President George W. Bush in 2004 when Bush pressured Comey - who was then Deputy Attorney General - to approve an unlawful antiterrorist policy.

Comey, who was FBI chief from 2013 to 2017, was quoting a line reputedly uttered by Martin Luther in 1521, when he told Holy Roman Emperor Charles V that he would not recan t his sweeping criticisms of the Catholic Church. Comey's quotation of himself quoting the father of the Reformation is par for the self-reverence of his new memoir, A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership .

MSNBC host Chris Matthews recently declared, "James Comey made his bones by standing up against torture. He was a made man before Trump came along." Washington Post columnist Fareed Zakaria , in a column declaring that Americans should be "deeply grateful" to lawyers like Comey, declared, "The Bush administration wanted to claim that its 'enhanced interrogation techniques' were lawful. Comey believed they were not... So Comey pushed back as much as he could."

Martin Luther risked death to fight against what he considered the heresies of his time. Comey, a top Bush administration policymaker, found a safer way to oppose the worldwide secret U.S. torture regime widely considered a heresy against American values. Comey approved brutal practices and then wrote some memos and emails fretting about the optics.

Comey became Deputy Attorney General in late 2003 and " had oversight of the legal justification used to authorize " key Bush programs in the war on terror. At that time, the Bush White House was pushing the Justice Department to again sign off on an array of extreme practices that had begun shortly after the 9/11 attacks. A 2002 Justice Department memo had leaked out that declared that the president was entitled to ignore federal law in approving extreme interrogation techniques. Photos had also leaked from Abu Ghraib prison showing the stacking of naked prisoners with bags over their heads, mock electrocution via a wire connected to a man's penis, guard dogs on the verge of ripping into naked men, and grinning U.S. male and female soldiers celebrating the bloody degradation. A confidential CIA Inspector General report had just warned that post-9/11 CIA interrogation methods may violate the international Convention Against Torture .

Rather than ending the abuses, Comey repudiated the memo. Speaking to the media in a not-for-attribution session on June 22, 2004, Comey declared that the 2002 memo was "overbroad," "abstract academic theory," and "legally unnecessary ." Comey helped oversee crafting a new memo with different legal footing to justify the same interrogation methods.

Comey twice gave explicit approval for waterboardin g, which sought to break detainees with near-drowning.

This practice had been recognized as a war crime by the U.S. government since the Spanish American War .

Comey wrote in his memoir that he was losing sleep over concern about Bush administration torture polices. But losing sleep was not an option for detainees because Comey approved sleep deprivation as an interrogation technique . Detainees could be forcibly kept awake for up to 180 hours until they confessed their sins. How did this work? At Abu Ghraib, the notorious Iraqi prison, one FBI agent reported seeing a detainee " handcuffed to a railing with a nylon sack on his head and a shower curtain draped around him, being slapped by a soldier to keep him awake ."

Comey also approved " wall slamming" -- which, as law professor David Cole wrote, meant that detainees could be thrown against a wall up to 30 times . Comey also signed off on the CIA using "interrogation" methods such as facial slaps, locking detainees in small boxes for 18 hours, and forced nudity. When the secret Comey memo approving those methods finally became public in 2009 , many Americans were aghast - and relieved that the Obama administration had repudiated Bush policies .

When it came to opposing torture, Comey's version of "Here I stand" had more loopholes than a reverse mortgage contract. Though Comey in 2005 approved each of 13 controversial extreme interrogation methods , he objected to combining multiple methods on one detainee. It was as if Martin Luther grudgingly approved of the Catholic Church selling indulgences to individually expunge sins for adultery, robbery, lying, and gluttony but vehemently objected if all the sins were expunged in one lump sum payment.

In 2014, the Senate Intelligence Committee finally released a massive report, Americans learned grisly details of the CIA torture regime that Comey helped legally sanctify - including death via hypothermia, rape-like rectal feeding of detainees, compelling detainees to stand long periods on broken legs, and dozens of cases of innocent people pointlessly brutalized. Psychologists aided the torture regime, offering hints on how to destroy the will and resistance of prisoners. The only CIA official to go to prison for the torture scandal was courageous whistleblower John Kiriakou.

If Comey had resigned in 2004 or 2005 to protest the torture techniques he now claims to abhor, he would deserve some of the praise he is now receiving. Instead, he remained in the Bush administration but wrote an email summarizing his objections, declaring that "it was my job to protect the department and the A.G. [Attorney General] and that I could not agree to this because it was wrong." A 2009 New York Times analysis noted that Comey and two colleagues "have largely escaped criticism [for approving torture] because they raised questions about interrogation and the law." In Washington, writing emails is "close enough for government work" to convey sainthood.

When Comey finally exited the Justice Department in August 2005 to become a lavishly-paid senior vice president for Lockheed Martin , he proclaimed in a farewell speech that protecting the Justice Department's "reservoir" of "trust and credibility" requires "vigilance" and "an unerring commitment to truth ." But Comey perpetuated policies that shattered the moral credibility of both the Justice Department and the U.S. government.

Comey failed to heed another Martin Luther admonition: " You are not only responsible for what you say, but also for what you do not say ."

Vote up! 7 Vote down! 0

enough of this Tue, 05/01/2018 - 23:05 Permalink

The guy is a sanctimonious liar.

beepbop -> enough of this Tue, 05/01/2018 - 23:20 Permalink

Torture is just a symptom of a BIGGER problem, and Paying lip service to Christianity is their way of hiding what they're really doing:

US Politicians have set aside the country's Christian roots and

fully embraced Satanic-Talmudic ways to please Israhell,

the Scourge of Empires .

???ö? -> beepbop Tue, 05/01/2018 - 23:32 Permalink

I was against Comey, then I was for Comey, and now I'm against Comey again.

ˎ.l..

MillionDollarButter -> ???ö? Tue, 05/01/2018 - 23:35 Permalink

"We all voted for Hillary." -The Bushes

P.S. Don't trust the plan, the plan is Greater Israel.

gigadeath Tue, 05/01/2018 - 23:06 Permalink

A saint with a capital s. /S

WTFUD Tue, 05/01/2018 - 23:09 Permalink

Lockheed, heard that name before, can't quite place it, it'll come back to me, every day in my nightmares.

DiggingInTheDirt Tue, 05/01/2018 - 23:49 Permalink

Fl*ck Comey. OMG. I've been wanting to puke into a wastebasket over all of Comey's crap lately. Actually, wanting to puke is one of my best bullshit barometers. He's a lying sack of shit, strutting his sanctimonious arrogance all over the tee-vee. Meanwhile back home his family of women wear pink hats to protest Trump. Wonder if James the Great told his family members he approved torture?

Neochrome Tue, 05/01/2018 - 23:58 Permalink

Keeping his back to the wall and stabbing others from behind...

And it worked until it didn't work anymore.

Aireannpure Wed, 05/02/2018 - 00:17 Permalink

Bush was torture. Bowf of dem.

[May 02, 2018]