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Casino Capitalism: Neoliberalism in Western countries

"When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done" ~ John Maynard Keynes

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Financialization is a process whereby financial markets, financial institutions, and financial elites gain greater influence over economic policy and economic outcomes. Financialization transforms the functioning of economic systems at both the macro and micro levels.

Its principal impacts are to (1) elevate the significance of the financial sector relative to the real sector, (2) transfer income from the real sector to the financial sector, and (3) increase income inequality and contribute to wage stagnation. Additionally, there are reasons to believe that financialization may put the economy at risk of debt deflation and prolonged recession.

Financialization operates through three different conduits: changes in the structure and operation of financial markets, changes in the behavior of nonfinancial corporations, and changes in economic policy.

Countering financialization calls for a multifaceted agenda that (1) restores policy control over financial markets, (2) challenges the neoliberal economic policy paradigm encouraged by financialization, (3) makes corporations responsive to interests of stakeholders other than just financial markets, and (4) reforms the political process so as to diminish the influence of corporations and wealthy elites.

Thomas Palley, See http://www.levyinstitute.org/pubs/wp_525.pdf

Speculation and gambling were always a part of Wall Street but since the 1930’s they were just a side-show, now they are the show.

Comment to Matt Taibbi article Fannie, Freddie, and the New Red and Blue t


Introduction

“The sense of responsibility in the financial community
for the community as a whole is not small. It is nearly nil.”

-- John Kenneth Galbraith, The Great Crash of 1929

The term Casino Capitalism generally is symonim of neoliberalism (also called economic liberalism), but it also point out to a specific phase of neoliberal transformation of capitalism. Politically it was slow motion corporate coup d'état, which started in 70th and is now accomplished in the USA and other Western countries which buries social-democratic (New Deal style) model of capitalism. 

It hypertrophied police functions of state (in the form of national-security state)  while completely avoiding economic sphere in ways other then enforcement of laws (with a notable exclusion from this top 1% -- "Masters of the Universe"). Like bolshevism it uses the state for the enforcement of the social system.  On top level this is crony capitalism for major corporation. On low level of medium and small business owners it presupposed a deregulated economy (in a sense of the "law of jungle" as a business environment).

Casino capitalism presupposes strong militarized state, suppressing all the attempts to challenge the new "nomenklatura" (much like was the case in the USSR).  It is quite different from traditional liberalism:

“Liberalism” can refer to political, economic, or even religious ideas. In the U.S. political liberalism has been a strategy to prevent social conflict. It is presented to poor and working people as progressive compared to conservative or Right wing. Economic liberalism is different. Conservative politicians who say they hate “liberals” — meaning the political type — have no real problem with economic liberalism, including neoliberalism.

In other words this is neoliberal model of corporatism during the period of "cheap hydrocarbons".  The period that is probably near the end and which by some estimate can last only another 50 years or so (less than 100 years).  The major crisis of casino capitalism in 2008 was connected both with financial excesses (caused by moving to semi-criminal ways of extracting return on capital, typical for casino capitalism),  but also with the rise of the price of oil and decrease of  Energy returned on energy invested (EROEI)In this sense the last low oil price period which started in late 2014 and ended in spring 2018 can be viewed as the "last hurrah" of the casino capitalism.

In understanding neoliberal transformation of the society since early 80th it is important to understanding of the key role of financialization in this process. When major services are privatized (education, healthcare, pension plans) financial institution insert themselves as intermediaries in this arrangement and make it the main source of their profits.  Also contrary to neoliberal propaganda this process is aided and abetted by state. State is used by neoliberalism as a tool of enforcing market relations even where they are not useless or even harmful (education). All this talk about irresolvable controversy between market and state is for gullible fools. In reality, being Trotskyism for rich, neoliberalism uses power of the state to enforce market relations  by force on reluctant population even in areas where this can do no good. That make really it close to Soviet social experiment, which lasted from 1917 to 1991 or almost 75 years. As Marx noted "History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce."

A very good discussion of the role of Financialisation in entrenchment of neoliberalism in modern societies can be found in the book by Costas Lapavitsas. Some highlights are provided in his Guardian article Finance's hold on our everyday life must be broken

This extraordinary public largesse towards private banks was matched by austerity and wage reductions for workers and households. As for restructuring finance, nothing fundamental has taken place. The behemoths that continue to dominate the global financial system operate in the knowledge that they enjoy an unspoken public guarantee. The unpalatable reality is that financialisation will persist, despite its costs for society.

Financialisation represents a historic and deep-seated transformation of mature capitalism. Big businesses have become "financialised" as they have ample profits to finance investment, rely less on banks for loans and play financial games with available funds. Big banks, in turn, have become more distant from big businesses, turning to profits from trading in open financial markets and from lending to households. Households have become "financialised" too, as public provision in housing, education, health, pensions and other vital areas has been partly replaced by private provision, access to which is mediated by the financial system. Not surprisingly, households have accumulated a tremendous volume of financial assets and liabilities over the past four decades.

The penetration of finance into the everyday life of households has not only created a range of dependencies on financial services, but also changed the outlook, mentality and even morality of daily life. Financial calculation evaluates everything in pennies and pounds, transforming the most basic goods – above all, housing – into "investments". Its logic has affected even the young, who have traditionally been idealistic and scornful of pecuniary calculation. Fertile ground has been created for neoliberal ideology to preach the putative merits of the market.

Financialisation has also created new forms of profit associated with financial markets and transactions. Financial profit can be made out of any income, or any sum of money that comes into contact with the financial sphere. Households, for example, generate profits for finance as debtors (mostly by paying interest on mortgages) but also as creditors (mostly by paying fees and charges on pension funds and insurance). Finance is not particular about how and where it makes its profits, and certainly does not limit itself to the sphere of production. It ranges far and wide, transforming every aspect of social life into a profit-making opportunity.

The traditional image of the person earning financial profits is the "rentier", the individual who invests funds in secure financial assets. In the contemporary financialised universe, however, those who earn vast returns are very different. They are often located within a financial institution, presumably work to provide financial services, and receive vast sums in the form of wages, or more often bonuses. Modern financial elites are prominent at the top of the income distribution, set trends in conspicuous consumption, shape the expensive end of the housing market, and transform the core of urban centres according to their own tastes.

Financialised capitalism is, thus, a deeply unequal system, prone to bubbles and crises – none greater than that of 2007-09. What can be done about it? The most important point in this respect is that financialisation does not represent an advance for humanity, and very little of it ought to be preserved. Financial markets are, for instance, able to mobilise advanced technology employing some of the best-trained physicists in the world to rebalance prices across the globe in milliseconds. This "progress" allows financiers to earn vast profits; but where is the commensurate benefit to society from committing such expensive resources to these tasks?

The term "casino capitalism" was coined by Susan Strange who used it as a title of her book Casino Capitalism published in 1986. She was one of the first who realized that

  1. "The roots of the world's economic disorder are monetary and financial";
  2. "The disorder has not come about by accident, but has in fact been nurtured and encouraged by a series of government decisions." (p. 60). In other words its was a counter-revolution of the part of ruling elite (financial oligarchy) which lost its influence in 30th (dismantling New Deal from above in the USA (Reaganomics) or Thatcherism in the GB).

According to Susan Strange transformation of industrial capitalism into neoliberal capitalism ("casino capitalism") involved five trends. All of them increased the systemic instability of the system and the level of political corruption:

  1. Innovations in the way in which financial markets work due to introduction of computers;
  2. The sheer size of markets; (with the introduction of 401K the size of stock market multiplied, etc)
  3. Commercial banks turned into investment banks;
  4. The emergence of Asian nations as large players;
  5. The shift to self-regulation by banks (pp.9-10).

Now it is pretty much established fact that the conversion from "industrial capitalism" to neoliberal, completely financialialized "casino capitalism" is the natural logic of development of capitalism. In early and incomplete matter this trend was noticed at early 1990th by many thinkers. This is just the second iteration of the same trend which was interrupted by the Great Depression and subsequent WWII. So, in a way, replacement of industrial capitalism with financial capitalism in a natural tendency within the capitalism itself and corruption was contributing, but not decisive factor.  The same is true about globalization, especially about globalization of financial flows, typical for casino capitalism, which is a form of colonialism (neocolonialism).

Also this conversion did not happen due to lack of oversight or as a folly. It was a couscous choice made by the US and GB elite, both of which faced deterioration of rates of return on capital. Also unlike "industrial capitalism" which was more-or-less stable system, able to outcompete the neo-theocratic system of the USSR, the financial capitalism is unstable in the same sense as radioactive elements are unstable.  And this instability tend to increase with time. So there is probably natural half-life period for neoliberalism as a social system. It might be already reached in 2008.  In we assume that global victory of neoliberalism happened in 1990. It is just 18 years.  If we think that it happened in late 60th, then it is closer to 50 years.

The global crisis of neoliberal capitalism which started from bursting the USA subprime housing bubble in 2008 undermined ideological legitimacy of its central claim that "free markets" lead to faster and more uniform economic development of all countries. While the peak of its "ideological" power might be over (much like the peak of attractiveness of "command socialism" was over after WWII), it will exist in a zombie state for a long time due to economic and military power of the USA and G7.  And as we know from Hollywood films, zombies can be especially bloodthirsty. It probably will remain the dominant force for at least the next two decades pursuing the same policy of "forceful" opening of energy rich  and resource countries for western multinationals intact using color revolutions and local wars.  But as Napoleon quipped "You can do anything with bayonets, you just can't sit on them".

Conversion to neoliberal capitalism was a reaction on stagnation of industrial production and as such it was nurtured and encouraged by a series of government decisions for the last 50 years. Stagnation of industrial production made expansion of financial sector of paramount importance for the ruling elite and by extension for Congress which represents this elite. House vote 377:4 for Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000 is pretty telling in this respect.

There were also at least two important parallel developments.

Most respectable authors like Henry Giroux in his article in Counterpunch generally consider the term "casino capitalism" to be an equivalent to the term Neoliberalism. Here is a relevant quote from Henry Giroux's Authoritarian Politics in the Age of Casino Capitalism :

There is more at work here than simply a ramped up version of social Darwinism with its savagely cruel ethic of “reward the rich, penalize the poor, [and] let everyone fend for themselves,” [ii] there is also a full scale attack on the social contract, the welfare state, economic equality, and any viable vestige of moral and social responsibility. The Romney-Ryan appropriation of Ayn Rand’s ode to selfishness and self-interest is of particular importance because it offers a glimpse of a ruthless form of extreme capitalism in which the poor are considered “moochers,” viewed with contempt, and singled out to be punished. But this theocratic economic fundamentalist ideology does more. It destroys any viable notion of the and civic virtue in which the social contract and common good provide the basis for creating meaningful social bonds and instilling in citizens a sense of social and civic responsibility. The idea of public service is viewed with disdain just as the work of individuals, social groups, and institutions that benefit the citizenry at large are held in contempt.

As George Lakoff and Glenn W. Smith point out, casino capitalism creates a culture of cruelty: “its horrific effects on individuals-death, illness, suffering, greater poverty, and loss of opportunity, productive lives, and money.”[iii]

But it does more by crushing any viable notion of the common good and public life by destroying “the bonds that hold us together.”[iv] Under casino capitalism, the spaces, institutions, and values that constitute the public are now surrendered to powerful financial forces and viewed simply as another market to be commodified, privatized and surrendered to the demands of capital. With religious and market-driven zealots in charge, politics becomes an extension of war; greed and self-interest trump any concern for the well-being of others; reason is trumped by emotions rooted in absolutist certainty and militaristic aggression; and skepticism and dissent are viewed as the work of Satan.

If the Republican candidacy race of 2012 is any indication, then political discourse in the United States has not only moved to the right—it has been introducing totalitarian values and ideals into the mainstream of public life. Religious fanaticism, consumer culture, and the warfare state work in tandem with neoliberal economic forces to encourage privatization, corporate tax breaks, growing income and wealth inequality, and the further merging of the financial and military spheres in ways that diminish the authority and power of democratic governance.[v] Neoliberal interests in freeing markets from social constraints, fueling competitiveness, destroying education systems, producing atomized subjects, and loosening individuals from any sense of social responsibility prepare the populace for a slow embrace of social Darwinism, state terrorism, and the mentality of war — not least of all by destroying communal bonds, dehumanizing the other, and pitting individuals against the communities they inhabit.

Totalitarian temptations now saturate the media and larger culture in the language of austerity as political and economic orthodoxy. What we are witnessing in the United States is the normalization of a politics that exterminates not only the welfare state, and the truth, but all those others who bear the sins of the Enlightenment — that is, those who refuse a life free from doubt. Reason and freedom have become enemies not merely to be mocked, but to be destroyed. And this is a war whose totalitarian tendencies are evident in the assault on science, immigrants, women, the elderly, the poor, people of color, and youth.

What too often goes unsaid, particularly with the media’s focus on inflammatory rhetoric, is that those who dominate politics and policymaking, whether Democrats or Republicans, do so largely because of their disproportionate control of the nation’s income and wealth. Increasingly, it appears these political elite choose to act in ways that sustain their dominance through the systemic reproduction of an iniquitous social order. In other words, big money and corporate power rule while electoral politics are rigged. The secrecy of the voting booth becomes the ultimate expression of democracy, reducing politics to an individualized purchase—a crude form of economic action. Any form of politics willing to invest in such ritualistic pageantry only adds to the current dysfunctional nature of our social order, while reinforcing a profound failure of political imagination. The issue should no longer be how to work within the current electoral system, but how to dismantle it and construct a new political landscape that is capable of making a claim on equity, justice, and democracy for all of its inhabitants. Obama’s once inspiring call for hope has degenerated into a flight from responsibility.

The Obama administration has worked to extend the policies of the George W. Bush administration by legitimating a range of foreign and domestic policies that have shredded civil liberties, expanded the permanent warfare state, and increased the domestic reach of the punitive surveillance state. And if Romney and his ideological cohorts, now viewed as the most extremists faction of the Republican Party, come to power, surely the existing totalitarian and anti-democratic tendencies at work in the United States will be dangerously intensified.

History

Alternatively, we could have spent more time studying the work of Hyman Minsky. We could also have considered the possibility that, just as Keynes’s ideas were tested to destruction in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, Milton Friedman’s ideas might suffer a similar fate in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s. All gods fail, if one believes too much. Keynes said, of course, that "practical men … are usually the slaves of some defunct economist". So, of course, are economists, even if the defunct economists are sometimes still alive.

Martin Wolf

 


 

 

Casino capitalism  is a nickname for nailibelism. Probably more properly nickname would be  financial corporatism. While the key idea of corporatism: that political actors are not individual people, but some associations and first of all corporations (which are officially considered to be "persons" and have rights as well as trade unions and some other associations) remains intact, financial corporatism is different from classic corporatism in several major ways:

Historically corporatism in various modifications became dominant social system after WWII and defeated "command socialism" as was implemented in the USSR. Here is an instructive review of corporatism history (The Economic System of Corporatism):

In the last half of the 19th century people of the working class in Europe were beginning to show interest in the ideas of socialism and syndicalism. Some members of the intelligentsia, particularly the Catholic intelligentsia, decided to formulate an alternative to socialism which would emphasize social justice without the radical solution of the abolition of private property. The result was called Corporatism. The name had nothing to do with the notion of a business corporation except that both words are derived from the Latin word for body, corpus.

The basic idea of corporatism is that the society and economy of a country should be organized into major interest groups (sometimes called corporations) and representatives of those interest groups settle any problems through negotiation and joint agreement. In contrast to a market economy which operates through competition a corporate economic works through collective bargaining. The American president Lyndon Johnson had a favorite phrase that reflected the spirit of corporatism. He would gather the parties to some dispute and say, "Let us reason together."

Under corporatism the labor force and management in an industry belong to an industrial organization. The representatives of labor and management settle wage issues through collective negotiation. While this was the theory in practice the corporatist states were largely ruled according to the dictates of the supreme leader.

One early and important theorist of corporatism was Adam Müller, an advisor to Prince Metternich in what is now eastern Germany and Austria. Müller propounded his views as an antidote to the twin dangers of the egalitarianism of the French Revolution and the laissez faire economics of Adam Smith. In Germany and elsewhere there was a distinct aversion among rulers to allow markets to function without direction or control by the state. The general culture heritage of Europe from the medieval era was opposed to individual self-interest and the free operation of markets. Markets and private property were acceptable only as long as social regulation took precedence over such sinful motivations as greed.

Coupled with the anti-market sentiments of the medieval culture there was the notion that the rulers of the state had a vital role in promoting social justice. Thus corporatism was formulated as a system that emphasized the positive role of the state in guaranteeing social justice and suppressing the moral and social chaos of the population pursuing their own individual self-interests. And above all else, as a political economic philosophy corporatism was flexible. It could tolerate private enterprise within limits and justify major projects of the state. Corporatism has sometimes been labeled as a Third Way or a mixed economy, a synthesis of capitalism and socialism, but it is in fact a separate, distinctive political economic system.

Although rulers have probably operated according to the principles of corporatism from time immemorial it was only in the early twentieth century that regimes began to identify themselves as corporatist. The table below gives some of those explicitly corporatist regimes.

Corporatist Regimes of the Early Twentieth Century
System Name Country Period Leader
National Corporatism Italy 1922-1945 Benito Mussolini
Country, Religion, Monarchy Spain 1923-1930 Miguel Primo de Rivera
National Socialism Germany 1933-1945 Adolph Hitler
National Syndicalism Spain 1936-1973 Francisco Franco
New State Portugal 1932-1968 Antonio Salazar
New State Brazil 1933-1945 Getulio Vargas
New Deal United States 1933-1945 Franklin Roosevelt
Third Hellenic Civilization Greece 1936-1941 Ioannis Metaxas
Justice Party Argentina 1943-1955 Juan Peron

In the above table several of the regimes were brutal, totalitarian dictatorships, usually labeled fascist, but not all the regimes that had a corporatist foundation were fascist. In particular, the Roosevelt New Deal despite its many faults could not be described as fascist. But definitely the New Deal was corporatist. The architect for the initial New Deal program was General Hugh Johnson. Johnson had been the administrator of the military mobilization program for the U.S. under Woodrow Wilson during World War I. It was felt that he did a good job of managing the economy during that period and that is why he was given major responsibility for formulating an economic program to deal with the severe problems of the Depression. But between the end of World War I and 1933 Hugh Johnson had become an admirer of Mussolini's National Corporatist system in Italy and he drew upon the Italian experience in formulating the New Deal.

It should be noted that many elements of the early New Deal were later declared unconstitutional and abandoned, but some elements such as the National Labor Relations Act which promoted unionization of the American labor force are still in effect. One part of the New Deal was the development of the Tennessee River Valley under the public corporation called the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). Some of the New Dealer saw TVA as more than a public power enterprise. They hoped to make TVA a model for the creation of regional political units which would replace state governments. Their goal was not realized. The model for TVA was the river development schemes carried out in Spain in the 1920's under the government of Miguel Primo de Rivera. Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera, the son of Miguel Primo de Rivera, was the founder of Franco's National Syndicalism.

Corporatist regime typically promote large governmental projects such as TVA on the basis that they are too large to be funded by private enterprise. In Brazil the Vargas regime created many public enterprises such as in iron and steel production which it felt were needed but private enterprise declined to create. It also created an organized labor movement that came to control those public enterprises and turned them into overstaffed, inefficient drains on the public budget.

Although the above locates the origin of corporatism in 19th century France it roots can be traced much further back in time. Sylvia Ann Hewlett in her book, The Cruel Dilemmas of Development: Twentieth Century Brazil, says,

Corporatism is based on a body of ideas that can be traced through Aristotle, Roman law, medieval social and legal structures, and into contemporary Catholic social philosophy. These ideas are based on the premise that man's nature can only be fulfilled within a political community.
..........
The central core of the corporatist vision is thus not the individual but the political community whose perfection allows the individual members to fulfill themselves and find happiness.
...............
The state in the corporatist tradition is thus clearly interventionist and powerful.

Corporatism is collectivist; it is a different version of collectivism than socialism but it is definitely collectivist. It places some importance on the fact that private property is not nationalized, but the control through regulation is just as real. It is de facto nationalization without being de jure nationalization.

Although Corporatism is not a familiar concept to the general public, most of the economies of the world are corporatist in nature. The categories of socialist and pure market economy are virtually empty. There are only corporatist economies of various flavors.

These flavors of corporatism include the social democratic regimes of Europe and the Americas, but also the East Asian and Islamic fundamentalist regimes such as Taiwan, Singapore and Iran. The Islamic socialist states such as Syria, Libya and Algeria are more corporatist than socialist, as was Iraq under Saddam Hussain. The formerly communist regimes such as Russia and China are now clearly corporatist in economic philosophy although not in name.

The concept of Quite Coup

Sine ira et studio

Tacitus, see Wikipedia

The term "Quiet coup" which means the hijacking of the political power in the USA by financial oligarchy was introduced by Simon H. Johnson, a British-American economist, who currently is the Ronald A. Kurtz Professor of Entrepreneurship at the MIT Sloan School of Management and a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. From March 2007 through the end of August 2008, he was Chief Economist of the International Monetary Fund. The term was introduced in his article in Atlantic magazine, published in May 2009(The Quiet Coup - Simon Johnson - The Atlantic). Which opens with a revealing paragraph:

The crash has laid bare many unpleasant truths about the United States. One of the most alarming, says a former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, is that the finance industry has effectively captured our government

The wealth of financial sector gave it unprecedented opportunities of simply buying the political power iether directly or indirectly (via revolving door mechanism):

Becoming a Banana Republic

In its depth and suddenness, the U.S. economic and financial crisis is shockingly reminiscent of moments we have recently seen in emerging markets (and only in emerging markets): South Korea (1997), Malaysia (1998), Russia and Argentina (time and again). In each of those cases, global investors, afraid that the country or its financial sector wouldn’t be able to pay off mountainous debt, suddenly stopped lending. And in each case, that fear became self-fulfilling, as banks that couldn’t roll over their debt did, in fact, become unable to pay. This is precisely what drove Lehman Brothers into bankruptcy on September 15, causing all sources of funding to the U.S. financial sector to dry up overnight. Just as in emerging-market crises, the weakness in the banking system has quickly rippled out into the rest of the economy, causing a severe economic contraction and hardship for millions of people.

But there’s a deeper and more disturbing similarity: elite business interests—financiers, in the case of the U.S.—played a central role in creating the crisis, making ever-larger gambles, with the implicit backing of the government, until the inevitable collapse. More alarming, they are now using their influence to prevent precisely the sorts of reforms that are needed, and fast, to pull the economy out of its nosedive. The government seems helpless, or unwilling, to act against them.

Top investment bankers and government officials like to lay the blame for the current crisis on the lowering of U.S. interest rates after the dotcom bust or, even better—in a “buck stops somewhere else” sort of way—on the flow of savings out of China. Some on the right like to complain about Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, or even about longer-standing efforts to promote broader homeownership. And, of course, it is axiomatic to everyone that the regulators responsible for “safety and soundness” were fast asleep at the wheel.

But these various policies — lightweight regulation, cheap money, the unwritten Chinese-American economic alliance, the promotion of homeownership—had something in common. Even though some are traditionally associated with Democrats and some with Republicans, they all benefited the financial sector. Policy changes that might have forestalled the crisis but would have limited the financial sector’s profits — such as Brooksley Born’s now-famous attempts to regulate credit-default swaps at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, in 1998—were ignored or swept aside.

The financial industry has not always enjoyed such favored treatment. But for the past 25 years or so, finance has boomed, becoming ever more powerful. The boom began with the Reagan years, and it only gained strength with the deregulatory policies of the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations. Several other factors helped fuel the financial industry’s ascent. Paul Volcker’s monetary policy in the 1980s, and the increased volatility in interest rates that accompanied it, made bond trading much more lucrative. The invention of securitization, interest-rate swaps, and credit-default swaps greatly increased the volume of transactions that bankers could make money on. And an aging and increasingly wealthy population invested more and more money in securities, helped by the invention of the IRA and the 401(k) plan. Together, these developments vastly increased the profit opportunities in financial services.

Not surprisingly, Wall Street ran with these opportunities. From 1973 to 1985, the financial sector never earned more than 16 percent of domestic corporate profits. In 1986, that figure reached 19 percent. In the 1990s, it oscillated between 21 percent and 30 percent, higher than it had ever been in the postwar period. This decade, it reached 41 percent. Pay rose just as dramatically. From 1948 to 1982, average compensation in the financial sector ranged between 99 percent and 108 percent of the average for all domestic private industries. From 1983, it shot upward, reaching 181 percent in 2007.

The great wealth that the financial sector created and concentrated gave bankers enormous political weight — a weight not seen in the U.S. since the era of J.P. Morgan (the man). In that period, the banking panic of 1907 could be stopped only by coordination among private-sector bankers: no government entity was able to offer an effective response. But that first age of banking oligarchs came to an end with the passage of significant banking regulation in response to the Great Depression; the reemergence of an American financial oligarchy is quite recent.

He further researched this theme in his book 2010 book 13 Bankers The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown  (ISBN 978-0307379054), coauthored with James Kwak. They also founded and regularly contributes to the economics blog The Baseline Scenario. See also History of Casino Capitalism

The net effect of the ideological counter-revolution based on market fundamentalism ideology was that it restored the power of financial oligarchy typical for Gilded Age. As Simon Johnson argues that was partially done by subverting regulators and that oversize institutions always disproportionately influence public policy:

The second problem the U.S. faces—the power of the oligarchy—is just as important as the immediate crisis of lending. And the advice from the IMF on this front would again be simple: break the oligarchy.

Oversize institutions disproportionately influence public policy; the major banks we have today draw much of their power from being too big to fail. Nationalization and re-privatization would not change that; while the replacement of the bank executives who got us into this crisis would be just and sensible, ultimately, the swapping-out of one set of powerful managers for another would change only the names of the oligarchs.

Ideally, big banks should be sold in medium-size pieces, divided regionally or by type of business. Where this proves impractical—since we’ll want to sell the banks quickly—they could be sold whole, but with the requirement of being broken up within a short time. Banks that remain in private hands should also be subject to size limitations.

This may seem like a crude and arbitrary step, but it is the best way to limit the power of individual institutions in a sector that is essential to the economy as a whole. Of course, some people will complain about the "efficiency costs" of a more fragmented banking system, and these costs are real. But so are the costs when a bank that is too big to fail—a financial weapon of mass self-destruction—explodes. Anything that is too big to fail is too big to exist.

To ensure systematic bank breakup, and to prevent the eventual reemergence of dangerous behemoths, we also need to overhaul our antitrust legislation. Laws put in place more than 100years ago to combat industrial monopolies were not designed to address the problem we now face. The problem in the financial sector today is not that a given firm might have enough market share to influence prices; it is that one firm or a small set of interconnected firms, by failing, can bring down the economy. The Obama administration’s fiscal stimulus evokes FDR, but what we need to imitate here is Teddy Roosevelt’s trust-busting.

Caps on executive compensation, while redolent of populism, might help restore the political balance of power and deter the emergence of a new oligarchy. Wall Street’s main attraction—to the people who work there and to the government officials who were only too happy to bask in its reflected glory—has been the astounding amount of money that could be made. Limiting that money would reduce the allure of the financial sector and make it more like any other industry.

Still, outright pay caps are clumsy, especially in the long run. And most money is now made in largely unregulated private hedge funds and private-equity firms, so lowering pay would be complicated. Regulation and taxation should be part of the solution. Over time, though, the largest part may involve more transparency and competition, which would bring financial-industry fees down. To those who say this would drive financial activities to other countries, we can now safely say: fine.

Two Paths

To paraphrase Joseph Schumpeter, the early-20th-century economist, everyone has elites; the important thing is to change them from time to time. If the U.S. were just another country, coming to the IMF with hat in hand, I might be fairly optimistic about its future. Most of the emerging-market crises that I’ve mentioned ended relatively quickly, and gave way, for the most part, to relatively strong recoveries. But this, alas, brings us to the limit of the analogy between the U.S. and emerging markets.

Emerging-market countries have only a precarious hold on wealth, and are weaklings globally. When they get into trouble, they quite literally run out of money—or at least out of foreign currency, without which they cannot survive. They must make difficult decisions; ultimately, aggressive action is baked into the cake. But the U.S., of course, is the world’s most powerful nation, rich beyond measure, and blessed with the exorbitant privilege of paying its foreign debts in its own currency, which it can print. As a result, it could very well stumble along for years—as Japan did during its lost decade—never summoning the courage to do what it needs to do, and never really recovering. A clean break with the past—involving the takeover and cleanup of major banks—hardly looks like a sure thing right now. Certainly no one at the IMF can force it.

In my view, the U.S. faces two plausible scenarios. The first involves complicated bank-by-bank deals and a continual drumbeat of (repeated) bailouts, like the ones we saw in February with Citigroup and AIG. The administration will try to muddle through, and confusion will reign.

Boris Fyodorov, the late finance minister of Russia, struggled for much of the past 20 years against oligarchs, corruption, and abuse of authority in all its forms. He liked to say that confusion and chaos were very much in the interests of the powerful—letting them take things, legally and illegally, with impunity. When inflation is high, who can say what a piece of property is really worth? When the credit system is supported by byzantine government arrangements and backroom deals, how do you know that you aren’t being fleeced?

Our future could be one in which continued tumult feeds the looting of the financial system, and we talk more and more about exactly how our oligarchs became bandits and how the economy just can’t seem to get into gear.

The second scenario begins more bleakly, and might end that way too. But it does provide at least some hope that we’ll be shaken out of our torpor. It goes like this: the global economy continues to deteriorate, the banking system in east-central Europe collapses, and—because eastern Europe’s banks are mostly owned by western European banks—justifiable fears of government insolvency spread throughout the Continent. Creditors take further hits and confidence falls further. The Asian economies that export manufactured goods are devastated, and the commodity producers in Latin America and Africa are not much better off. A dramatic worsening of the global environment forces the U.S. economy, already staggering, down onto both knees. The baseline growth rates used in the administration’s current budget are increasingly seen as unrealistic, and the rosy "stress scenario" that the U.S. Treasury is currently using to evaluate banks’ balance sheets becomes a source of great embarrassment.

Under this kind of pressure, and faced with the prospect of a national and global collapse, minds may become more concentrated.

The conventional wisdom among the elite is still that the current slump "cannot be as bad as the Great Depression." This view is wrong. What we face now could, in fact, be worse than the Great Depression—because the world is now so much more interconnected and because the banking sector is now so big. We face a synchronized downturn in almost all countries, a weakening of confidence among individuals and firms, and major problems for government finances. If our leadership wakes up to the potential consequences, we may yet see dramatic action on the banking system and a breaking of the old elite. Let us hope it is not then too late.

It is pretty interesting to see how financial oligarchy filters information provided to the population to fit their biases. For example, the key facts about repeal of Glass-Steagall law  (BTW Joe Biden voted for it) mostly hidden from the public: 

Commodity Futures Trading Commission — under the leadership of Mr. Gramm’s wife, Wendy — had approved rules in 1989 and 1993 exempting some swaps and derivatives from regulation. In December 2000, the Commodity Futures Modernization Act was passed as part of a larger bill by unanimous consent after Senator Gramm dominated the Senate debate...

"He was the architect, advocate and the most knowledgeable person in Congress on these topics," Mr. Donovan said. "To me, Phil Gramm is the single most important reason for the current financial crisis."

"The virtually unregulated over-the-counter market in credit-default swaps has played a significant role in the credit crisis, including the now $167 billion taxpayer rescue of A.I.G.," Christopher Cox, the chairman of the S.E.C. and a former congressman, said Friday.

But you will never find discussion of flaws and adverse consequences Phil Gram (or Greenspan for a change) initiatives in Heritage Foundation and other right-wing think tanks publications.

Stages of transformation

So what we are experiencing is a the completion of the transformation of one phase of capitalism to another. It happened in stages:

  1. Manufacturing stagnated and can't provide the "decent" rate of growth. Competition from re-built Europe and Asian markets severely stressed the US manufacturing. due to competition return of capital dropped and in several industries became negative.

  2. Computers brought innovations into financial markets. They make possible real time trading of induces like S&P500, complex financial instruments like derivatives, etc. Later they enables superfast trading (HFT). All those instruments dramatically increased the possibilities of extracting the rent by financial institutions from the society.

  3. Globalization kicked in due to new opportunities offered by high speed global communications (Internet). And that is not limited to outsourcing. Due to globalization the sheer size of the financial markets increased to the extent that they started to represent a different, new transnational phenomena allowing new types of redistribution of wealth to be practiced. Integration of Russian elite (oligarchs) is just one example of this process. In case of pro-western oligarchs (fifth column) West went to significant length to protect them and their racket (Mikhail Khodorkovsky - Wikipedia,)

  4. Commercial banks turned into investment banks to exploit this opportunity.

  5. Financial sector completely corrupted academic science converting most economists to pay prostitutes which serve their interests.

  6. Collapse of the USSR provided the financial sector major shoot in the arm and a golden, once in century opportunity to finance new half-billion consumers and stole for a penny on a dollar huge industrial assets and natural resources as well as put most of those countries in the debt (Latin-Americanization of xUSSR space). Harvard Mafia (with some support from London) did the bidding of western banks in xUSSR space. As more becomes known about the laundering of Russian money in Western banks, many in the United States will likely try to hide behind stories of faraway organized crime. But U.S. policy toward Russia has contributed to that country's sorry conditions--with the Harvard Institute for International Development's Russia project (HIID) playing a major role (Harvard's 'Best and Brightest' Aided Russia's Economic Ruin ). Professor Jeffery Sacks provided a bogus idea of "shock therapy" to achieve spectacular for Western banks result. As a result all xUSSR space became new Latin America with typical for Latin America problems like huge level of inequality, prostitution, child poverty, and prominent role of organized crime.

  7. Banks became dominant political force on western societies with no real counterbalance from other parts of the elite. The first president completely subservient to banking elite was elected in the USA in 1992. Bill Clinton regime lasted eight years and along with economic rape of xUSSR space in best colonial powers tradition, it removed what was left of financial regulations after the flurry of deregulation of the early 1980s. And they behaved as an occupying force not only in xUSSR space but in the USA as well. They deprived workers out of their jobs, they abolished the US pension system as it impede playing with population money and replaced in with widely inadequate 401K plans. They deprived municipalities out of their revenues and assets, while municipalities became just a den of bond traders looking for then next mark which give them the ability to put municipalities deeper in debt.

  8. Newly acquired political power of financial elite speeded the shift to bank "self-regulation" created huge shadow banking system which dwarf "official" under the smoke screen of "free-market" propaganda and PR from a coterie of corrupts academics (Chicago Scholl, Harvard Mafia, etc) . It engaged in pursuit of short term profits and self-enrichment of top brass which became new elite by-and-large displacing not only the old one, but also the newly minted IT elite of dot-com boom. Using newly acquired power financial elite remove all regulations that hamper their interests. Glass-Steagall was repealed at the last days of Clinton presidency, financial derivatives became unregulated.

  9. Deindustrialization kicked in. As financial speculation proved to be much more profitable to other activities deindustrialization kicked in the USA as the financial center of the world. Outsourcing which first was limited to manufacturing jobs now extent its reach on IT and decimate previously profitable sector and its export potential.

  10. Externalities can no longer be suppressed and economics became unstable. Growth of inequality, job insecurity, as well as frequency of financial crises were natural consequences of financialization of the economy. They create huge imbalances, like bubble in residential real estate which was blown with the help and full support of the USA government as a way to overcome dot-com crisis consequences.

  11. Debt crisis strikes. Growth of debt became unsustainable and produces the financial crisis of enormous proportions. By their reckless policies and greed financial sector caused huge financial crisis of 2008 and now they are forcing national governments to auction off their cultural heritage to the highest bidder. Everything must go in fire sales at prices rigged by twenty-something largest banks, the most corrupt institutions the world has ever known.

  12. Devastating "local" wars became "new normal". Due to financial crisis, the overconsumption in western economies came under threat. Debt expansion which led to overconsumption within the western economies affected (or infected) by financialization. To sustain the current standard of living financial expansion became the necessity. It took the form of a competition for spheres of influence in the area of energy supplies, which we see in post USSR space, Iraq, Libya and elsewhere. And central banks play critical role in financing wars. After all Banks of England was created with this exact purpose.

I think by 2008 when the second major financial crisis hit the USA, the transformation on the USA economy into casino capitalism, which is essentially implementation of neoliberal doctrine (or more correctly the US brand of corporatism) was by-and-large complete.

In short we are living in a new politico-economic system in which financial capital won victory over both labor and industrial capital. We might not like what we got, but financial elite is now a new ruling class and this fact is difficult to dispute. As a result. instead of the robber barons of the early 20th century (some of whom actually created/consolidated new industries), we have the top executives from investment banks, insurers and mortgage industry who represent a new Rentier class, much like old aristocracy.

They are living off parasitic monopolization of access to any (physical, financial, intellectual, etc.) kind of property and gaining significant amount of profit without contribution to society (see Rentier capitalism which is a very fuzzy term for neoliberal model of capitalism).

Casino Capitalism as a result of stagnation of industrial manufacturing

Stagnation of industrial manufacturing droved up financial speculation as the method to compensate for falling rate on return on capital. This stagnation became prominent during Reagan administration (which started the major shift toward neoliberalism), although signs of it were present from early 60th.

For example Chicago which was a manufacturing center since 1969 lost approximately 400K manufacturing jobs which were replaced mainly by FIRE-related jobs, In 1995 over 22% of those employed by FIRE industries (66K people) were working in executive and managerial positions. Another 17% are in marketing, sales and processional specialty occupations (computer system analysts, PR specialists, writer and editors).

Those changes in the structure of employment had several consequences:

  1. The stagnation of the underlying economy meant that capitalists were increasingly dependent on the growth of finance to preserve and enlarge their money capital.
  2. The financial superstructure of the capitalist economy could not expand independently of its base -- underlying productive economy — hence the bursting of speculative bubbles became a recurrent and growing problem.
  3. Financialization could never overcome stagnation of industrial production. It is just an opium for rich, not a structural adjustment of the stagnation-prone economy. But like addition to narcotics does to human body it does tremendous damage to real economy.
  4. Rapid increase in inequality is necessary to sustain the appetites of the elite in the system with fixed size of the pie. Politico-economic conditions might became even more unfavorable for labor. Stagnation of industrial production mean shrinking pie, which necessitates redistribution of wealth in favor of a new, all-powerful financial Rentier class. This redistribution resulted in partial wipe-out of large swats of middle class. For the past three decades, America has steadily converted itself into a nation of haves (as Bush II quipped "This is an impressive crowd -- the haves and the have mores! Some people call you the elite -- I call you my base". ) and have-nots. The cost of a college education rises rapidly at a time when wages for skilled labor stagnate, so access to college became against discriminated in favor of upper class of the society. Repressive apparatus and ideological brainwashing are too strong to mount effective resistance.

The key to understanding of Casino Capitalism is that it was a series of government decisions (or rather non-decisions) that converted the state into neoliberal model. In other words casino capitalism has distinct "Government property" mark. It was the USA elite, which refused to act responsibly in the face of changing economic conditions resulting from its own actions, and instead chose to try to perpetuate, by whatever means it had at its disposal, the institutional advantages of dollar as a reserve currency which it had vis-à-vis its main economic rivals and grab as large part of the world economic pie as it can. And this power grab was supported first of all by the role of dollar as currency in which oil is traded.

There might be some geo-strategically motives as well as the US elite in late 80th perceived that competitiveness is slipping out of the USA and the danger of deindustrialization is real. Many accuse Reagan with the desire to ride dollar status as a world reserve currency (exorbitant privilege) until the horse is dead. That's what real cowboys do in Hollywood movies... But the collapse of the main rival, the USSR vindicated this strategy and give a strong short in the arm to financialization of the economy. Actually for the next ten years can be called a triumphal ascend of financialization in the USA.

Dominance of FIRE industries clustered up and in recent years reached in the USA quite dramatic proportions. The old Bolsheviks saying "When we say Lenin we mean the Party and when we say the Party we mean Lenin" now can be reworded: "Now it we say US banks, we mean the US government and vise versa if we say US government we mean US banks".

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the FIRE sector was and is the biggest contributor to federal candidates in Washington. Companies cannot give directly, so they leave it to bundlers to solicit maximum contributions from employees and families. They might have been brought down to earth this year, but they’ve given like Gods: Goldman Sachs, $4.8 million; Citigroup, $3.7 million; J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., $3.6 million; Merrill Lynch, $2.3 million; Lehman Brothers, $2.1 million; Bank of America, $2.1 million. Some think the long-term effect of such contributions to individual candidates was clear in the roll-call votes for the bailout.

Take the controversial first House vote on bailout of major banks on Sept. 29, 2008. According to CRP, the "ayes" had received 53 percent more contributions from FIRE since 1989 than those who voted against the bill, which ultimately failed 228 to 205. The 140 House Democrats who voted for the bill got an average of $188,572 in this election cycle, while the 65 Republicans backing it got an average of $185,461 from FIRE—about 23 percent more than the bill’s opponents received. A tinkered bill was passed four days later, 263 to 171.

According to the article Fire Sale (The American Conservative) half of Obama’s top ten contributors, together giving him nearly $2.2 million, are FIREmen. The $13 million contributed by FIRE executives to Obama campaign is probably an undercount. Democratic committee leaders are also dependent of FIRE contributions. The list includes Sen. Dodd ( please look at Senator Dodd's top donors for 2007-8 on openSecrets.org ) and Sen. Chuck Schumer ($12 million from FIRE since 1989), Rep. Barney Frank ($2.5 million), and Rep. Charlie Rangel ($4 million, the top recipient in the House). All of them have been accused of taking truckloads of contributions while failing to act on the looming mortgage crisis. Dodd finally pushed mortgage reform last year but by then as his hometown paper, The Hartford Courant stated, "the damage was done."

Casino Capitalism and Financial Instability

At the same time rise of financial capital dramatically increased instability. An oversized financial sector produces instability due to multiple positive feedback loops. In this sense we can talk about Financial Sector Induced Systemic Instability of Economy. The whole society became "House of cards", "Giant Enron" and "extension of Las Vegas". Reckless management, greed and out-right stupidity in playing derivatives games was natural consequence of the oversized financial sector, not just a human folly. In a way it was dramatic manifestation of the oversized financial sector negative influence of the economy. And in 2008 it did brought out economy to the brink of destruction. Peak oil added to suffocating effect on the economy of reckless gambling (and related debts) of financial sector producing the economic calamity that rivals Great Depression. Also, like Socialism, Casino Capitalism demands too much of its elite. And in reality, the financial elite much like Bolsheviks elite, is having its own interests above the interests of the society.

As Kevin Phillips noted "In the United States, political correctness, religious fundamentalism, and other inhibitions sometimes dumb down national debate". And the same statement is true for financial elite that became the center of power under the Casino Capitalism. Due to avalanche of greed the society became one giant Enron as money that are made from value addition in the form of manufacturing fade in significance to the volume of the money that is made from shuffling money around. In other was the Wall Street's locked USA in the situation from which there is no easy exit.

Self-reinforcing ‘positive’ feedback loops prevalent in Casino Capitalism trigger an accelerating creation of various debt instruments, interest of which at some point overwhelm the system carrying capacity. Ability to lend against good collateral is quickly exhausted. At some point apparently there is no good collateral against which lending freely was possible, even at high rates. This means that each new stage of financial innovation involves scam and fraud, on increasing scale. In other words Ponzi economy of "saving and loans" is replaced with Madoff economy.

Whether you shift the resulting huge private debt to public to increase confidence or not, the net result is of this development of events is a crisis and a huge debt that society needs to take. Actually the debt bubble in 2008 can only be compared to the debt bubble of 1933. The liquidation of Bear Sterns and Lehman was only a start of consolidation of finances and we need to find something that replace financial sector dominance in the national economy. It would be nice is some technological breakthrough happened which would lift the country out of this deep hole.

See Financial Sector Induced Systemic Instability of Economy for more details.

Neoliberalism as the Ideology of Casino Capitalism

Like Bolshevism was marked by deification of teaching of Marx and Lenin, converting them into pseudo-religious doctrine, the Casino Capitalism has its own deified ideological doctrine. It is the ideology of Neoliberalism. The latter as an ideology and an agenda seeks to topple democratic capitalism and replace it with a de facto unaccountable autocratic government which serves as channel of a wealth transfer from the public to a rentier elite. In a way it is a spectacular example of a successful (in a very negative sense) pseudo-religious doctrine.

Addiction of the societies to disastrous politico-economical doctrines are similar to addictions to alcohol and drugs in individuals. It is not easy to recover and it takes a long, long time and a lot of misery. As dissolution of the USSR aptly demonstrated not all societies can make it. In this case the USSR elite (nomenklatura) simply shed the old ideology as it understood that it will be better off adopting ideology of neoliberal capitalism; so it was revolution from above.  this abrupt switch created chaos in economics (which was applauded by Washington which under Clinton administration adopted the stance the Carnage needs to be destroyed and facilitated the process), criminal privatization of major industries, and pushed into object poverty the 99% of population of those countries. For some period under "drunk Yeltsyn" Russia sees to exist as an independent country and became a vassal of Washington.

This also means that "society at large" did not had effective brakes to the assent of financial plutocracy (aka financial oligarchy).  I would add to this the computer revolution and internet that made many financial transaction qualitatively different and often dramatically cheaper that in previous history. Computers also enabled creation of new financial players like mutual funds (which created a shadow banking system with their bond funds) , hedge funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), as well as high-frequency trading and derivatives.

From the historical view Reaganomics also can be considered to be the US flavor of Lysenkoism with economics instead of genetics as a target. Here is how Reaganomics is defined in Wikipedia

Reaganomics (a portmanteau of "Reagan" and "economics") refers to the economic policies promoted by United States President Ronald Reagan. The four pillars of Reagan's economic policy were to:[1]
  1. reduce the growth of government spending,
  2. reduce marginal tax rates on income from labor and capital,
  3. reduce government regulation of the economy,
  4. control the money supply to reduce inflation.

In attempting to cut back on domestic spending while lowering taxes, Reagan's approach was a departure from his immediate predecessors.

Reagan became president during a period of high inflation and unemployment (commonly referred to as stagflation), which had largely abated by the time he left office.

Please not that the Number 1 idea ("reduce government spending") was essentially a scam, a smoke screen designed to attract Rednecks as a powerful voting block. In a way this was a trick similar to one played by Bolsheviks in Russia with its "worker and peasants rule" smokescreen which covered brutal dictatorship. In reality all administrations which preached Reagonomics (including Clinton's) expanded the role of state and government spending. The number two was applied by-and-large to top 1%. The number three means deregulation in the interests of financial oligarchy and dismantling all social program that hamper profit of the latter (including privatizing of Social Security). The number fours is a scam, in the same sense as number one. As soon as financial institutions get in trouble, money are printed as if there is no tomorrow.

While the essence of Reagonomics was financial deregulation, the other important element was restoring the Gilded Age level of power of financial oligarchy which influence was diminished by FDR reforms. In this sense we can say that Reagan revolution was essentially a counter-revolution: an attempt to reverse the New Deal restrictions on financial sector and restore its dominance in the society.

Like it was the case in Bolshevism the ideology was developed and forced upon the society by a very small group of players. The key ideas of Casino Capitalism were formulated and implemented by Reagan administration with some contribution by Nixon (the role of rednecks aka "moral majority", "silent majority" as an important part of republican political base, which can be attracted to detrimental to its economic position policies by the smoke screen of false "moral" promises).

It was supported by each president after Reagan (paradoxically with Clinton having the most accomplished record -- he was the best Republican President in a very perverted way). Like in case of Lysenkoism opponents were purged and economic departments of the country were captured by principless careerists ready to tow the party line for personal enrichment. Like in case of Bolshevism, many of those special breed of careerists rotated from Republican Party into Fed and other government structures. A classic example of compulsive careerists that were used by finance sector to promote its interests was Alan Greenspan.

One of the key ideas of Reaganomics was the rejection of the sound approach that there should be a balance between too much government regulation and too little and that government role is important for smooth functioning of the market. In this area Reagan and its followers can be called Anarchists and their idea of 'free market" is a misnomer that masks the idea of "anarchic market" (corporate welfare to be exact -- as it was implemented). Emergence of corporate welfare Queens such as GS, Citi, AIG, are quite natural consequence of Reaganomics.

Reaganomics was a the US flavor of Lysenkoism with economics instead of generics as a target... It can and should be called Economic Lysenkoism.

The most interesting part of Reaganomics was that the power of this ideology made it possible to conditioned "working class" and middle class to act against their own economic interests. It helped to ensure the stagnation of wages during the whole 25 years period, which is close to what Soviets managed to achieve with working class of the USSR, but with much more resentment. This makes it in many ways very similar to Bolshevism as a whole, not just Lysenkoism (extremes meet or in less flattering way: "history repeats, first as a tragedy, then as farce).

Along with the term Reaganimics which implicitly stresses the deregulation, the other close term "market fundamentalism" is often used. Here is how market fundamentalism is defined (Longview Institute):

Market Fundamentalism is the exaggerated faith that when markets are left to operate on their own, they can solve all economic and social problems. Market Fundamentalism has dominated public policy debates in the United States since the 1980's, serving to justify huge Federal tax cuts, dramatic reductions in government regulatory activity, and continued efforts to downsize the government’s civilian programs.

Some level of government coercion (explicit or implicit ) is necessary for proper labeling of any pseudo-scientific theory with the term Lysenkoism. This holds true for both Market Fundamentalism (after all Reagan revolution was "revolution from above" by financial oligarchy and for financial oligarchy and hired guns from academia just do what powers that be expected) and, especially, Supply side economic. The political genius of those ideas is evident. Supply-side economics transformed Republicans from a minority party into a majority party. It allowed them to promise lower taxes, lower deficits and, in effect, unchanged spending. Why should people not like this combination? Who does not like a free lunch?

In this sense the Republican Party played the role very similar to the Communist Party of the USSR.

For example supply side economics was too bizarre and would never survive without explicit government support. This notion is supported by many influential observers. For example, in the following comment for Krugman article (Was the Great Depression a monetary phenomenon):

Market fundamentalism (neoclassical counter-revolution — to be more academic) was more of a political construct than based on sound economic theory. However, it would take a while before its toxic legacy is purged from the economics departments. Indeed, in some universities this might never happen.

Extreme deregulation and extreme regulation (Brezhnev socialism) logically meets and both represent a variant of extremely corrupt society that cannot be sustained for long (using bayonets as in the case of USSR or using reserve currency and increasing leverage as is the case of the USA). In both cases the societies were economically and ideologically bankrupt at the end.

Actually, elements of market fundamentalism looks more like religious doctrine than political philosophy — and that bonds its even closer to Lysenkoism. In both cases critics were silenced with the help of the state. It is interesting to note that Reaganomics was wiped into frenzy after the dissolution of the USSR, the country which gave birth to the term of Lysenkoism. In a way the last act of the USSR was to stick a knife in the back of the USA. As a side note I would like to stress that contrary to critics the USSR was more of a neo-feudal society with elements of slavery under Stalin. Gulag population were essentially state slaves; paradoxically a somewhat similar status is typical for illegal immigrants in industrialized countries. From this point of view this category of "state slaves" is generally more numerous that gulag inmates. Prison population also can be counted along those lines.

It look like either implicitly or explicitly Reagan's bet was on restoration of gilded Age with its dominance of financial oligarchy, an attempt to convert the USA into new Switzerland on the "exorbitant privilege" of dollar status as the global fiat currency.

Casino Capitalism is characterized by political dominance of FIRE industries (finance, insurance, and real estate) and diminished role of other and first of all manufacturing industries. It was also accompanied by the drastic growth of inequality (New Gilded Age). Its defining feature is "the triumph of the trader in assets over the long-term producer" in Martin Wolf's words.

Voodoo economic theories

Attempts of theoretical justification of Economic Lysenkoism fall into several major categories:

Those can be called pillars, cornerstones of Economic Lysenkoism. Each of the deserves as separate article (see links above).

Historically especially important was Chicago school of market fundamentalism promoted pseudo-scientific theories of Milton Freedman (Chicago School) as well as supply side economics.

Collapse of the USSR as ideological justification of Casino Capitalism superiority

The huge boost of Casino Capitalism was given by the collapse of the USSR in 1991. That gave a second life to Reagan era. Collapse of the USSR was used as a vindication of market fundamentalism. After it New Deal regulations were systematically destroyed. Dumped down variants of Nietzsche philosophy like bastardatized variant promoted by Russian emigrant became fashionable with an individual "creative" entrepreneur as a new Übermensch, which stands above morality.

"The word Übermensch [designates] a type of supreme achievement, as opposed to 'modern' men, 'good' men, Christians, and other nihilists ... When I whispered into the ears of some people that they were better off looking for a Cesare Borgia than a Parsifal, they did not believe their ears."[9] Safranski argues that the combination of ruthless warrior pride and artistic brilliance that defined the Italian Renaissance embodied the sense of the Übermensch for Nietzsche. According to Safranski, Nietzsche intended the ultra-aristocratic figure of the Übermensch to serve as a Machiavellian bogeyman of the modern Western middle class and its pseudo-Christian egalitarian value system.[10]

Brainwashing

The instability and volatility of active markets can devalue the economic base of real lives, or in more macro-scenarios can lead to the collapse of national and regional economies. In a very interesting and grotesque way it also incorporates the key element of Brezhnev Socialism in everyday life: huge manipulation of reality by mass media to the extend that Pravda and the USSR First TV Channel look pretty objective in comparison with Fox news and Fox controlled newspapers. Complete poisoning of public discourse and relying on the most ignorant part of the population as the political base (pretty much reminiscent of how Bolsheviks played "Working Class Dictatorship" anti-intellectualism card; it can be called "Rednecks Dictatorship").

The "heroes" or transformation of US economy to casino capitalism model

While transformation to casino capitalism was an objective development, there were specific individuals who were instrumental in killing New Deal regulations. We would single out the following twelve figures:

  1. Ronald Reagan (although first steps toward casino capitalism were made under Carter).
  2. Milton Friedman
  3. Alan Greenspan
  4. Phil Gramm
  5. Robert Rubin
  6. Larry Summers
  7. Helicopter Ben
  8. Bush II
  9. Bill Clinton
  10. Sandy Weill
  11. Jeffrey Sachs with his "shock therapy" racket
  12. Martin Feldstein

There is no question that Reagan and most of his followers (Greenspan, Rubin, Phil Gramm, etc) were rabid radicals blinded by ideology. But they were radicals of quite different color then FDR with disastrous consequences for society. Here again the analogy with Bolsheviks looms strong. In a way, they can be called financial terrorists inflicting huge damage on the nation and I wonder if RICO can be use to prosecute at least some of them.

In Bailout Nation (Chapter 19) Barry Ritholtz tried to rank major players that led country into the current abyss:

1. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan
2. The Federal Reserve (in its role of setting monetary policy)
3. Senator Phil Gramm
4-6. Moody’s Investors Service, Standard & Poor’s, and Fitch Ratings (rating agencies)
7. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
8-9. Mortgage originators and lending banks
10. Congress
11. The Federal Reserve again (in its role as bank regulator)
12. Borrowers and home buyers
13-17. The five biggest Wall Street firms (Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch,Morgan Stanley, and Goldman Sachs) and their CEOs
18. President George W. Bush
19. President Bill Clinton
20. President Ronald Reagan
21-22. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson
23-24. Treasury Secretaries Robert Rubin and Lawrence Summers
25. FOMC Chief Ben Bernanke
26. Mortgage brokers
27. Appraisers (the dishonest ones)
28. Collateralized debt obligation (CDO) managers (who produced the junk)
29. Institutional investors (pensions, insurance firms, banks, etc.) for
buying the junk
30-31. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC); Office of Thrift
Supervision (OTS)
32. State regulatory agencies
33. Structured investment vehicles (SIVs)/hedge funds for buying the junk

Early Researchers of Casino Capitalism

Hyman Minsky

Hyman Minsky argued that a key mechanism that pushes an economy towards a crisis is the accumulation of debt and the fact the financial system represents a positive feedback loop that tend to destabilize the system, creating ossilations in the form of boom and bust cycles. . He identified 3 types of borrowers that contribute to the accumulation of insolvent debt: Hedge Borrowers; Speculative Borrowers; and Ponzi Borrowers. That corresponds to three stages of Casino Capitalism of increasing fragility:

Growth of debt and increased levarate at some point create predocition of the crash. The stage of business cycle at which those preconditions are met is called "Minsky moment":

A Minsky moment is the point in a credit cycle or business cycle when investors are starting to have cash flow problems due to spiraling debt they have incurred in order to finance speculative or Ponzy investments.

At this point, a major selloff begins due to the fact that no counterparty can be found to bid at the high asking prices previously quoted, leading to a sudden and precipitous collapse in market clearing asset prices and a sharp drop in market liquidity.[1]

After the collapse of the USSR there were a lot of chest thumping of the status of America as a hyper power (American exceptionalism) and the "end of history" where neoliberalism that displaced Brazhvev socialism (and wiped out the socialist camp) was supposed to reign supreme forever.

But this triumphal march of neoliberalism was short lived. The system proved to be self-destructive due to strong positive feedback look from the unregulated financial sector.

But in 2000 the first moment to pay the piper arrives. It was postponed by Iraq war and housing bubble, but reappeared in much more menacing form in 2008. In 2009 the USA experienced a classic Minsky moment with high unemployment rate and economy suppressed by (and taken hostage) by Ponzi finance institutions which threaten the very survival of the capitalist system and way of life. Huge injection freom the state halped to save the economy from disintration, but the price was very high. And  after 2009 the US economy entered the period prologed stagnation, called  the perios of "secular stagnation".

In events preceding 2008 the shift from speculative toward Ponzi finance was speed up by increased corruption of major players.  The drive to redistribute wealth up destroyed any remnants of the rule of the law in the USA. It became a neo-feudal two casts society with "Masters of the Universe" as the upper cast (top 1% ) and "despicables" (lower 80%) as the lower cast. With some comprador strata of professional in between (top 20% or so), who generally support the upper cast.

Loweer cast experienced deterioration of the standard of living, loss of well paying jobs to outsourcing and offshoring and in 2016 revolted electing Trump, who defeated Hillary Clinton, who became a real symbol of the corruption of neoliberal system. 

"As Minsky observed, capitalism is inherently unstable. As each crisis is successfully contained, it encourages greater speculation and risk taking in borrowing and lending. Financial innovation makes it easier to finance various schemes. To a large extent, borrowers and lenders operate on the basis of trial and error. If a behavior is rewarded, it will be repeated. Thus stable periods naturally lead to optimism, to booms, and to increasing fragility.

A financial crisis can lead to asset price deflation and repudiation of debt. A debt deflation, once started, is very difficult to stop. It may not end until balance sheets are largely purged of bad debts, at great loss in financial wealth to the creditors as well as the economy at large."

For more information see

Susan Strange

For Strange the speed at which computerized financial markets work combined with their much larger size and  near-universal pervasiveness is an important qualitative change, that changes the social system into what he called "casino capitalism".  She actually popularized the term "Casino Capitalism" with her important book Casino Capitalism  published in 1997.

One of the side effects of this change is that volatility extends globally. Approximately $1.5 trillion dollars are invested daily as foreign transactions. It is estimated that 98% of these transactions are speculative. In comparison with this casino Las Vegas looks like a aborigine village in comparison with Manhattan.

Notes:

Susan Strange (June 9, 1923 - October 25, 1998) was a British academic who was influential in the field of international political economy. Her most important publications include

For a quarter of a century, Susan Strange was the most influential figure in British international studies. She held a number of key academic posts in Britain, Italy and Japan. From 1978 to 1988, she was Montague Burton Professor of International Relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), the first woman to hold this chair and a professorial position in international relations at the LSE. She was a major figure in the professional associations of both Britain and the US: she was an instrumental founding member and first Treasurer of the British International Studies Association (BISA) [1] and the first female President of the International Studies Association (ISA) in 1995.

It was predominantly as a creative scholar and a forceful personality that she exercised her influence. She was almost single-handedly responsible for creating ‘international political economy’ and turning it into one of the two or three central fields within international studies in Britain, and she defended her creation with such robustness, and made such strong claims on its behalf, that her influence was felt—albeit not always welcomed—in most other areas of the discipline. She was one of the earliest and most influential campaigners for the closer integration of the study of international politics and international economics in the English language scholarship.

In the later period of her career, alongside the financial analyses offered in Casino Capitalism (the analysis in which she felt was vindicated by the South-East Asian financial crisis) and Mad Money, Strange's contributions to the field include her characterisation of the four different areas (production, security, finance and knowledge) through which power might be exercised in International Relations. This understanding of what she termed "structural power", formed the basis of her argument against the theory of American Hegemonic Decline in the early eighties.

Her analysis particularly in States and Markets focused on what she called the ‘market-authority nexus’, the see-saw of power between the market and political authority. The overall argument of her work suggested that the global market had gained significant power relative to states since the 1970s.

This led her to dub the Westphalia system Westfailure. She argued that a ‘dangerous gap’ was emerging between territorially-bound nation states and weak or partial intergovernmental cooperation in which markets had a free hand which could be constructive or destructive.

John K. Galbraith

Among important early critiques of casino capitalism was John K. Galbraith. He promoted a pretty novel idea that the major economic function of Governments is to strengthen countervailing powers to achieve some kind of balance between capital and labor.

While unions are far from being perfect and tend to slide into corruption due to "iron law of oligarchy" when thier management stop representing interests of thwe worksers and start to reprreesnt interest of thier own narry strate of fat cats,  there were the only sizable countewailing power that made the New Seal possible.

His prediction proved to be wrong as government actually represent the capitalist class and is not that interested in creating this balance, which was convincingly demonstrated by Thatcher and Reagan.  Both Britain and the USA start sliding into a new form of corporations, called neoliberalism which actually does not allocate any space for uniot at the negotiation table and strive for their complete elimination and "atomization" of work force, when each invididual is up to himself to find employment and group solidarity is suppressed by instilling neoliberal ideology in schools and universitites as well as via MSM (which in the USA surprisingly never were allowed to use the work neoliberlaism, as if it represents some secret Masonic cult)

And it does not look like there is any renewed support of unions right  (including important right to organize) at the  post subprime/derivatives/shadow_banking crisis stage of neoliberalism, when neoliberal ideology became sufficiently discredited to allow rise of populist politicians such as Trump. 

Still John K. Galbraith critique of primitive market fundamentalism of Milton Freedman and the whole pseudoscience of neoclassical economics which like Marxist political economy is one of there pillars of neoliberalism (along with Randism as philosophy and Neoconservatism or "Trotskyism for the rich" in politics), still has its value today. As Joseph Stiglitz noted (CSMonitor, Dec 28, 2006):

...In many ways, Galbraith was a more critical observer of economic reality.

Driven to understand market realities

Galbraith's vivid depictions of the good, bad, and ugly of American capitalism remain a sorely needed reminder that all is not quite as perfect as the perfect market models – with their perfect competition, perfect information, and perfectly rational consumers – upon which so much of Friedman's analysis depended.

Galbraith, who cut his teeth studying agricultural economics, strove to understand the world as it was, with all the problems of unemployment and market power that simplistic models of competitive markets ignore. In those models, unemployment didn't exist. Galbraith knew that made them fatally flawed

... ... ...

In his early research, Galbraith attempted to explain what had brought on the Great Crash of 1929 – including the role of the stock market's speculative greed fed by (what would today be called) irrational exuberance. Friedman ignored speculation and the failure of the labor market as he focused on the failures of the Federal Reserve. To Friedman, government was the problem, not the solution.

What Galbraith understood, and what later researchers (including this author) have proved, is that Adam Smith's "invisible hand" – the notion that the individual pursuit of maximum profit guides capitalist markets to efficiency – is so invisible because, quite often, it's just not there. Unfettered markets often produce too much of some things, such as pollution, and too little of other things, such as basic research. As Bruce Greenwald and I have shown, whenever information is imperfect – that is, always – markets are inefficient; hence the need for government action.

Galbraith reminded us that what made the economy work so well was not an invisible hand but countervailing powers. He had the misfortune of articulating these ideas before the mathematical models of game theory were sufficiently developed to give them expression. The good news is that today, more attention is being devoted to developing models of these bargaining relationships, and to complex, dynamic models of economic fluctuations in which speculation may play a central role.

Government's role

While Friedman never really appreciated the limitations of the market, he was a forceful critic of government. Yet history shows that in every successful country, the government had played an important role. Yes, governments sometimes fail, but unfettered markets are a certain prescription for failure. Galbraith made this case better than most.

Galbraith knew, too, that people aren't just rational economic actors, but consumers, contending with advertising, political persuasion, and social pressures. It was because of his close touch with reality that he had such influence on economic policymaking, especially during the Kennedy-Johnson years.

Galbraith's penetrating insights into the nature of capitalism – as it is lived, not as it is theorized in simplistic models – has enhanced our understanding of the market economy. He has left an intellectual legacy for generations to come. And he has left a gap in our intellectual life: Who will stand up against the economics establishment to articulate an economic vision that is both in touch with reality and comprehensible to ordinary citizens?

Galbraith was vindicated in his belief that the only economics possible is political economics and that government is always an agent of dominant class. As such it always pursue poklitics favorable to this class, just making marginal efforts to prevent the open revolt of lower classes.

In 2008 neoliberal economist such as Krugman and (to a lesse extent) Stiglitz both have eaten humble pie, because according to neoclassical economics the crises should not have happened. Both should now reread Galbraith's The Great Crash: 1929 (see also extracts).  Krugman also need to shred his previous writings with this mathiness execises of using differential equations to justify the dominance of financial oligarchy,  and eat them with borsch ;-)

BTW it is interesting that in 1996 neoliberal stooge Paul Krugman criticized limitations of Galbright vision in the following way:

To be both a liberal and a good economist you must have a certain sense of the tragic--that is, you must understand that not all goals can be attained, that life is a matter of painful tradeoffs. You must want to help the poor, but understand that welfare can encourage dependency. You must want to protect those who lose their jobs, but admit that generous unemployment benefits can raise the long-term rate of unemployment. You must be willing to tax the affluent to help those in need, but accept that too high a rate of taxation can discourage investment and innovation.

To the free-market conservative, these are all arguments for government to do nothing, to accept whatever level of poverty and insecurity the market happens to produce. A serious liberal does not reply to such conservatives by denying that there are any trade-offs at all; he insists, rather, that some trade-offs are worth making, that helping the poor and protecting the unlucky may have costs but will ultimately make for a better society.

The revelation one gets from reading John Kenneth Galbraith's The Good Society is that Galbraith--who is one of the world's most celebrated intellectuals, and whom one would expect to have a deeper appreciation of the complexity of the human condition than a mere technical economist would -- lacks this tragic sense. Galbraith's vision of the economy is one without shadows, in which what is good for social justice always turns out to have no unfavorable side effects. If this vision is typical of liberal intellectuals, the ineffectuality of the tribe is not an accident: It stems from a deep-seated unwillingness to face up to uncomfortable reality.

Similar limited understanding of Galbright is demonstrated in London Times (cited from comment to Economist's View blog) :

Some motifs of Galbraith’s work have entered popular consciousness. Galbraith wrote of private opulence amid public squalor, illustrating it with a memorable metaphor of a family that travels by extravagant private car to picnic by a polluted river.

Yet while arguing for increased public expenditure on welfare, Galbraith gave scant attention to the limits of that approach. His writings perpetuate a debilitating weakness of modern liberalism: a reluctance to acknowledge that resources are scarce.

In Galbraith’s scheme, said Herbert Stein, the former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers: “The American people were only asked whether they wanted cleaner air and water . . . The answers to such questions seemed obvious — but they were not the right questions.”

Soros contribution to the understanding of growth of financial sector as source of new, global economic instability

This idea of "casino capitalism" as a driver of financial instability was developed further in the book The Crisis of Global Capitalism by prominent financial speculator and staunch neoliberal George Soros (1998), who after Minsky highlights the potential for disequilibrium in the financial system, and the inability of non-market sectors to regulate markets.

the latter is a prominant feature of Casino Capitalism, which can be defined as economic system were financial barons run amok.

Although the insights of the Soros critique of global capitalism are scarcely new, they were articulated with such candor and accuracy that the book made a significant impact. The following is a sampling of Soros' insights.
  1. Unregulated financial markets are inherently unstable. There is nothing new in this statement. It is just a repetition of what Keynes and Minsky said much more eloquently. But Soros made in important observation about the source of constant disequilibrium of markets under neoliberalism, the observation which permitted for him to achieve spectacular success as a financial speculator.  Soros observes that, contrary to conventional economic theory, financial markets are not driven toward a relatively stable and rational price by the objective value assessment of such things as the soundness of a company's management, products, or record of profitability. Rather they are constantly driven away from equilibrium by the momentum of self-fulfilling expectations -- a rising stock price attracts buyers who further raise the price-to the point of collapse. The recent massive inflation and subsequent collapse in the price of the shares of unprofitable dot-com companies illustrates Soros' point.

    Bank lending also contributes to the instability, because the price of real and financial assets is set in part by their collateral value. The higher their market price rises the larger the loans banks are willing to make to their buyers to bid up prices. When the bubble bursts, the value of the assets plummets below the amount of the money borrowed against them. This forces banks to call their loans and cut back on the lending, which depresses asset prices and dries up the money supply. The economy then tanks-until credit worthiness is restored and a new boom phase begins.

  2. Financial markets are amoral by definition. Following Napoleon Bonaparte ("Money has no motherland; financiers are without patriotism and without decency; their sole object is gain. "), Soros stressed that there is no meaningful place for individual moral behavior of financial oligarchy in the context of financial markets, because such behavior has no consequences for them other than to reduce the financial return of  a more  ethical actor.  In other words modern finance is breeding ground for ruthless sociopath, which we really observed during 2008.

    When I bought shares in Lockheed and Northrop after the managements were indicted for bribery, I helped sustain the price of their stocks. When I sold sterling short in 1992, the Bank of England was on the other side of my transactions, and I was in effect taking money out of the pockets of British taxpayers. But if I had tried to take social consequences into account, it would have thrown off my risk-reward calculation, and my profits would have been reduced.

    Soros argues that if he had not bought Lockheed and Northrop, then somebody else would have, and Britain would have devalued sterling no matter what he did. "Bringing my social conscience into the decision-making process would make no difference in the real world; but it may adversely affect my own results." One can challenge the Soros claim that such behavior is amoral rather than immoral, but his basic argument is accurate. His understanding that it is futile to look to individual morality as the solution to the excesses of financial markets is all too accurate.

  3. Corporate employees are duty-bound to serve only corporate financial interests. As such financial institution are closely related to organized crime and top layers of managers are essentially institualized criminals. Soros writes:

    Publicly owned companies are single-purpose organizations-their purpose is to make money. The tougher the competition, the less they can afford to deviate. Those in charge may be well-intentioned and upright citizens, but their room for maneuver is strictly circumscribed by the position they occupy.

     They are duty-bound to uphold the interests of the company. If they think that cigarettes are unhealthy or that fostering civil war to obtain mining concessions is unconscionable, they ought to quit their jobs. Their place will be taken by people who are willing to carry on.

    Though not specifically mentioned by Soros, this is why corporations were in the past (at least partially) excluded from the political processes (although it was never complete and it is well known fact that Crusades and Siege of Constantinople (1204) were financed by Genoese bankers upset by lack of access to the Byzantium markets). But at least formally other parts of the society can define their goals and the rules of the marketplace and suppress excessive appetities of banker, if nessesary by brute force.  Financial oligarchy is incapable of distinguishing between private corporate interests and broader public interests. And that situation became even worse with the the global dominance of corporatism in the form of neoliberalism.

  4. Financial markets are oblivious to externalities and are infected by "short-termism". Specifically the fact that a strategy or policy produces economic returns in the short-term does not mean the long-term results will be beneficial. The focus of financial markets is on short-term individual gain to the exclusion of both social and longer-term consequences. The fact that particular policies and strategies are effective in producing short-term financial returns does not mean they are more generally beneficial or desirable. Soros offers the example that running up a budget or trade deficit "feels good while it lasts, but there can be hell to pay later."

  5. The relationship between the center and the periphery of the capitalist system is profoundly unequal. The powerful countries at the center of the capitalist system are both wealthier and more stable than countries at the periphery because control of the financial system and ownership of productive assets allows them to shape economic and political affairs to their benefit.

    "Foreign ownership of capital deprives peripheral countries of autonomy and often hinders the development of democratic institutions. The international flow of capital is subject to catastrophic interruptions."

    In times of uncertainty financial capital tends to return to its country of origin, thus depriving countries at the periphery of the financial liquidity necessary to the function of monetized economies. "The center's most important feature is that it controls its own economic policies and holds in its hands the economic destinies of periphery countries."

  6. In the capitalist system greed (aka "monetary values") tend to displace social values in sectors where this is destructive to important public interests. Soros writes:

    Monetary values [under neoliberalism] have usurped the role of intrinsic values, and markets have come to dominate spheres of existence where they do not properly belong.

    Law and medicine, politics, education, science, the arts, even personal relations-achievements or qualities that ought to be valued for their own sake are converted into monetary terms; they are judged by the money they fetch rather than their intrinsic value."

    Because financial "capital is free to go where most rewarded, countries vie to attract and retain capital, and if they are to succeed they must give precedence to the requirements of international capital over other social objectives.

Ha-Joon Chang

One notable later researcher of casino capitalism, especially "free market" fundamentalism propaganda Cambridge University researcher Ha-Joon Chang. In 2011 he published a fascinating book 23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism. Here is a Youtube lecture at LSE (23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism  ). We will reproduce  two Amazon reviews that shed some light at the key ideas of the book:

William Podmore

Ha-Joon Chang, Reader in the Political Economy of Development at Cambridge University, has written a fascinating book on capitalism's failings. He also wrote the brilliant Bad Samaritans. Martin Wolf of the Financial Times says he is `probably the world's most effective critic of globalization'.

Chang takes on the free-marketers' dogmas and proposes ideas like

He notes that the USA does not have the world's highest living standard. Norway, Luxemburg, Switzerland, Denmark, Iceland, Ireland, Sweden and the USA, in that order, had the highest incomes per head. On income per hours worked, the USA comes eighth, after Luxemburg, Norway, France, Ireland, Belgium, Austria and the Netherlands. Japan, Switzerland, Singapore, Finland and Sweden have the highest industrial output per person.

Free-market politicians, economists and media have pushed policies of de-regulation and pursuit of short-term profits, causing less growth, more inequality, more job insecurity and more frequent crises. Britain's growth rate in income per person per year was 2.4 per cent in the 1960s-70s and 1.7 per cent 1990-2009. Rich countries grew by 3 per cent in the 1960s-70s and 1.4 per cent 1980-2009. Developing countries grew by 3 per cent in the 1960s-70s and 2.6 per cent 1980-2009. Latin America grew by 3.1 per cent in the 1960s-70s and 1.1 per cent 1980-2009, and Sub-Saharan Africa by 1.6 per cent in the 1960s-70s and 0.2 per cent 1990-2009. The world economy grew by 3.2 per cent in the 1960s-70s and 1.4 per cent 1990-2009.

So, across the world, countries did far better before Thatcher and Reagan's `free-market revolution'. Making the rich richer made the rest of us poorer, cutting economies' growth rates, and investment as a share of national output, in all the G7 countries.

Chang shows how free trade is not the way to grow and points out that the USA was the world's most protectionist country during its phase of ascendancy, from the 1830s to the 1940s, and that Britain was one of world's the most protectionist countries during its rise, from the 1720s to the 1850s.

He shows how immigration controls keep First World wages up; they determine wages more than any other factor. Weakening those controls, as the EU demands, lowers wages.

He challenges the conventional wisdom that we must cut spending to cut the deficit. Instead, we need controls capital, on mergers and acquisitions, and on financial products. We need the welfare state, industrial policy, and huge investment in industry, infrastructure, worker training and R&D.

As Chang points out, "Even though financial investments can drive growth for a while, such growth cannot be sustained, as those investments have to be ultimately backed up by viable long-term investments in real sector activities, as so vividly shown by the 2008 financial crisis."

This book is a commonsense, evidence-based approach to economic life, which we should urge all our friends and colleagues to read.

Loyd E. Eskildson

The 2008 'Great Recession' demands re-examination of prevailing economic thought - the dominant paradigm (post 1970's conservative free-market capitalism) not only failed to predict the crisis, but also said it couldn't occur in today's free markets, thanks to Adam Smith's 'invisible hand.' Ha-Joon Chang provides that re-examination in his "23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism." Turns out that the reason Adam Smith's hand was not visible is that it wasn't there. Chang, economics professor at the University of Cambridge, is no enemy of capitalism, though he contends its current conservative version should be made better. Conventional wisdom tells us that left alone, markets produce the most efficient and just outcomes - 'efficient' because businesses and individuals know best how to utilize their resources, and 'just' because they are rewarded according to their productivity. Following this advice, countries have deregulated businesses, reduced taxes and welfare, and adopted free trade. The results, per Chang, has been the opposite of what was promised - slower growth and rising inequality, often masked by rising credit expansion and increased working hours. Alternatively, developing Asian countries that grew fast did so following a different version of capitalism, though to be fair China's version to-date has also produced much greater inequality. The following summarizes some of Chang's points:

  1. "There is no such thing as a free market" - we already have hygiene standards in restaurants, ban child labor, pollution, narcotics, bribery, and dangerous workplaces, require licenses for professions such as doctors, lawyers, and brokers, and limit immigration. In 2008, the U.S. used at least $700 billion of taxpayers' money to buy up toxic assets, justified by President Bush on the grounds that it was a necessary state intervention consistent with free-market capitalism. Chang's conclusion - free-marketers contending that a certain regulation should not be introduced because it would restrict market freedom are simply expressing political opinions, not economic facts or laws.
  2. "Companies should not be run in the interest of their owners." Shareholders are the most mobile of corporate stakeholders, often holding ownership for but a fraction of a second (high-frequency trading represents 70% of today's trading). Shareholders prefer corporate strategies that maximize short-term profits and dividends, usually at the cost of long-term investments. (This often also includes added leverage and risk, and reliance on socializing risk via 'too big to fail' status, and relying on 'the Greenspan put.') Chang adds that corporate limited liability, while a boon to capital accumulation and technological progress, when combined with professional managers instead of entrepreneurs owning a large chunk (e.g.. Ford, Edison, Carnegie) and public shares with smaller voting rights (typically limited to 10%), allows professional managers to maximize their own prestige via sales growth and prestige projects instead of maximizing profits. Another negative long-term outcome driven by shareholders is increased share buybacks (less than 5% of profits until the early 1980s, 90% in 2007, and 280% in 2008) - one economist estimates that had GM not spent $20.4 billion on buybacks between 1986 and 2002 it could have prevented its 2009 bankruptcy. Short-term stockholder perspectives have also brought large-scale layoffs from off-shoring. Governments of other countries encourage longer-term thinking by holding large shares in key enterprises (China Mobile, Renault, Volkswagen), providing greater worker representation (Germany's supervisory boards), and cross-shareholding among friendly companies (Japan's Toyota and its suppliers).
  3. "Free-market policies rarely make poor countries rich." With a few exceptions, all of today's rich countries, including Britain and the U.S., reached that status through protectionism, subsidies, and other policies that they and their IMF, WTO, and World Bank now advise developing nations not to adopt. Free-market economists usually respond that the U.S. succeeded despite, not because of, protectionism. The problem with that explanation is the number of other nations paralleling the early growth strategy of the U.S. and Britain (Austria, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Sweden, Taiwan), and the fact that apparent exceptions (Hong Kong, Switzerland, The Netherlands) did so by ignoring foreign patents (a free-market 'no-no'). Chang believes the 'official historians' of capitalism have been very successful re-writing its history, akin to someone trying to 'kick away the ladder' with which they had climbed to the top. He also points out that developing nations that stick to their Ricardian 'comparative advantage,' per the conservatives prescription, condemn themselves to their economic status quo.
  4. "We do not live in a post-industrial age." Most of the fall in manufacturing's share of total output is not due to a fall in the quantity of manufactured goods, but due to the fall in their prices relative to those for services, caused by their faster productivity growth. A small part of deindustrialization is due to outsourcing of some 'manufacturing' activities that used to be provided in-house - e.g.. catering and cleaning. Those advising the newly developing nations to skip manufacturing and go directly to providing services forget that many services mainly serve manufacturing firms (finance, R&D, design), and that since services are harder to export, such an approach will create balance-of-payment problems. (Chang's preceding points directly contradict David Ricardo's law of comparative advantage - a fundamental free market precept. Chang's example of how Korea built Pohang Steel into a strong economic producer, despite lacking experienced managers and natural resources, is another.)
  5. "The U.S. does not have the highest living standard in the world." True, the average U.S. citizen has greater command over goods and services than his counterpart in almost any other country, but this is due to higher immigration, poorer employment conditions, and working longer hours for many vs. their foreign counterparts. The U.S. also has poorer health indicators and worse crime statistics. We do have the world's second highest income per capita - Luxemburg's higher, but measured in terms of purchasing power parity (PPP) the U.S. ranks eighth. (The U.S. doesn't have the fastest growing economy either - China is predicted to pass the U.S. in PPP this coming decade.) Chang's point here is that we should stop assuming the U.S. provides the best economic model. (This is already occurring - the World Bank's chief economist, Justin Lin, comes from China.)
  6. "Governments can pick winners." Chang cites examples of how the Korean government built world-class producers of steel (POSCO), shipbuilding (Hyundai), and electronics (LG), despite lacking raw materials or experience for those sectors. True, major government failures have occurred - Europe's Concorde, Indonesia's aircraft industry, Korea's promotion of aluminum smelting, and Japan's effort to have Nissan take over Honda; industry, however, has also failed - e.g.. the AOL-Time Warner merger, and the Daimler-Chrysler merger. Austria, China, Finland, France, Japan, Norway, Singapore (in numerous other areas), and Taiwan have also done quite well with government-picked winners. Another problem is that business and national interests sometimes clash - e.g.. American firms' massive outsourcing has undermined the national interest of maintaining full employment. (However, greater unbiased U.S. government involvement would be difficult due to the 10,000+ corporate lobbyists and billions in corporate campaign donations - $500 million alone from big oil in 2009-10.) Also interesting to Chang is how conservative free marketing bankers in the U.S. lined up for mammoth low-cost loans from the Federal Reserve at the beginning of the Great Recession. Government planning allows minimizing excess capacity, maximizing learning-curve economies and economies of scale and scope; operational performance is enhanced by also forcing government-owned or supported firms into international competition. Government intervention (loans, tariffs, subsidies, prohibiting exports of needed raw materials, building infrastructure) are necessary for emerging economies to move into more sophisticated sectors.
  7. "Making rich people richer doesn't make the rest of us richer." 'Trickle-down' economics is based on the belief that the poor maximize current consumption, while the rich, left to themselves, mostly invest. However, the years 1950-1973 saw the highest-ever growth rates in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, despite increased taxation of the rich. Before the 'Golden Age,' per capita income grew at 1-1.5%/year; during the Golden Age it grew at 2-3% in the U.S. Since then, tax cuts for the rich and financial deregulation have allowed greater paychecks for top managers and financiers, and between 1979 and 2006 the top 0.1% increased their share of national income from 3.5% to 11.6%. The result - investment as a ratio of national output has fallen in all rich economies and the pace at which the total economic pie grew decreased.
  8. "U.S. managers are over-priced." First, relative to their predecessors (about 10X those in the 1960s; now 300-400X the average worker), despite the latter having run companies more successfully, in relative terms. Second, compared to counterparts in other rich countries - up to 20X. (Third, compared to counterparts in developing nations - e.g.. JPMorgan Chase, world's 4th largest bank, paid its CEO $19.6 million in 2008, vs. the CEO of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the world's largest, being paid $234,700. Read more ›

Willem Buiter and the idea of long term stagnation

Willem Buiter in his FT article After the Crisis Macro Imbalance, Credibility and Reserve-Currency suggested that after financial crisis of 2008 there might be very long a painful deleveraging period aka secular stagnation.  He was right.

In short each financial crisis make recovery longer and longer. That's why the US will most likely face a long period of stagnation: the digestion of huge excessive debt of the private sector might well take a decade:

Since the excess of debt is relative to income and GDP, the lower the rate of growth, the longer the required period of digestion. This explains for the paradox of trying to stimulate consumption when the economy faces a monumental crisis provoked exactly by excessive debt and excessive consumption. A cartoon line best captured the spirit of it: "country addicted to speculative bubbles desperately searches a new bubble to invest in. "

... ... ...

The roots of the crisis are major international macroeconomic imbalances. Despite the fact that the excesses of the financial system were instrumental to lead these imbalances further than otherwise possible, insufficient regulation should not be viewed as the main factor behind the crisis. The expenditure of central countries, spinned by all sort of financial innovations created by a globalized financial system, was the engine of world growth. When debt became clearly excessive in central countries and the debt-financed expenditure cycle came to an end, the ensuing crisis paralyzed the world economy. With the lesson of 1929 well assimilated, American monetary policy became aggressively expansionist. The Fed inundated the economy with money and credit, in the attempt to avoid a deep depression. Even if successful, the economies of the US and the other central countries, given the burden of excessive debt, are likely to remain stagnant under the threat of deflation for the coming years. The assumption of troubled assets by the public sector, in order to avoid the collapse of the financial system, might succeed, but at the cost of a major increase in public debt. Fiscal policy is not efficient to restart the economy when the private sector remains paralyzed by excessive debt. Even if a coordinated effort to increase public expenditure is successful, the central economies will remain stagnant for as long as the excessive indebtedness of the private sector persists. The period of digestion of excess debt will be longer than the usual recessive cycle. Since imports represent a drain in the effort to reanimate domestic demand through public expenditure, while exports, on the contrary, contribute to the recovery of internal demand, the temptation to central economies to also adopt a protectionist stance will be strong.

Willem Buiter also defined ‘cognitive regulatory capture’ which existed during the Greenspan years and when the Fed were just an arm of Wall Street.

This regulatory capture has resulted in an excess sensitivity of the Fed to financial market and financial sector concerns and fears and in an overestimation of the strength of the link between financial market turmoil and financial sector deleveraging and capital losses on the one hand, and the stability and prosperity of the wider economy on the other hand. The paper gives five examples of recent behavior by the Fed that are most readily rationalized with the assumption of regulatory capture. The abstract of the paper follows next. The latest version of the entire enchilada can be found here. Future revisions will also be found there.

Joseph Stiglitz on 5 steps to Casino Capitalism

Stiglitz is very unene and early Striglist was actually defender of neoliberalism (aka casino capitalism). Later he became a critic. In his 2008 Vanity Fair article Capitalist Fools Stiglitz identifies five key steps in transformation of American capitalism to Casino Capitalism (moments of failure as he called them):

No. 1: Reagan Fires Fed Chairman Volcker and Replaces Him With Greenspan in 1987:

Volcker also understood that financial markets need to be regulated. Reagan wanted someone who did not believe any such thing, and he found him in a devotee of the objectivist philosopher and free-market zealot Ayn Rand.

snip

If you appoint an anti-regulator as your enforcer, you know what kind of enforcement you’ll get. A flood of liquidity combined with the failed levees of regulation proved disastrous.

Greenspan presided over not one but two financial bubbles.

  1. Congress repealed the Glass-Steagall Act in 1999 under Bill Clinton (Glass-Steagall was a depression-era reform that separated commercial and investment banks)

I had opposed repeal of Glass-Steagall. The proponents said, in effect, Trust us: we will create Chinese walls to make sure that the problems of the past do not recur. As an economist, I certainly possessed a healthy degree of trust, trust in the power of economic incentives to bend human behavior toward self-interest—toward short-term self-interest, at any rate, rather than Tocqueville’s "self interest rightly understood."

Stiglitz also refers to a 2004 decision by the SEC "to allow big investment banks to increase their debt-to-capital ratio (from 12:1 to 30:1, or higher) so that they could buy more mortgage-backed securities, inflating the housing bubble in the process."

Once more, it was deregulation run amuck, and few even noticed.

  1. The Bush tax cuts, both on income and capital gains

The Bush administration was providing an open invitation to excessive borrowing and lending—not that American consumers needed any more encouragement.

  1. Faking the Numbers

Here he refers to bad accounting, the failure to address problems with stock options, and the incentive structures of ratings agencies like Moodys that led them to give high ratings to toxic assets.

  1. Paulson and the Flawed Bailout

Valuable time was wasted as Paulson pushed his own plan, "cash for trash," buying up the bad assets and putting the risk onto American taxpayers. When he finally abandoned it, providing banks with money they needed, he did it in a way that not only cheated America’s taxpayers but failed to ensure that the banks would use the money to re-start lending. He even allowed the banks to pour out money to their shareholders as taxpayers were pouring money into the banks.

Stiglitz concludes:

The truth is most of the individual mistakes boil down to just one: a belief that markets are self-adjusting and that the role of government should be minimal. Looking back at that belief during hearings this fall on Capitol Hill, Alan Greenspan said out loud, "I have found a flaw." Congressman Henry Waxman pushed him, responding, "In other words, you found that your view of the world, your ideology, was not right; it was not working." "Absolutely, precisely," Greenspan said. The embrace by America—and much of the rest of the world—of this flawed economic philosophy made it inevitable that we would eventually arrive at the place we are today.

The flawed economic philosophy brought by Reagan, and embraced by so many, brought us to this day. Ideas have consequences, especially when we stop empirically testing them. Republican economics have created great pain to America and harmed our national interest.

The flaw that Greenspan found was always there: self-regulation does not work. As Stiglitz said:

As an economist, I certainly possessed a healthy degree of trust, trust in the power of economic incentives to bend human behavior toward self-interest — toward short-term self-interest

Yes, for all their claims to science, the premise conflicts with tendencies of people.

This is the real legacy of Ronald Reagan and Alan Greenspan:

The whole scheme was kick-started under Ronald Reagan. Between his tax cuts for the rich and the Greenspan Commission’s orchestrated Social Security heist, working Americans lost out in a generational wealth transfer shift now exceeding $1 trillion annually from 90 million working class households to for-profit corporations and the richest 1% of the population. It created an unprecedented wealth disparity that continues to grow, shames the nation and is destroying the bedrock middle class without which democracy can’t survive.

Greenspan helped orchestrate it with economist Ravi Batra calling his economics "Greenomics" in his 2005 book "Greenspan’s Fraud." It "turns out to be Greedomics" advocating anti-trust laws, regulations and social services be ended so "nothing....interfere(s) with business greed and the pursuit of profits."

 Conclusions: From Animal Farm To Animal House

Instead of conclusion I will reproduce the post from Sudden Debt (March 17, 2008):

In Orwell's Animal Farm all animals are equal - except that some are more equal than others. All in the spirit of law, order and the proper functioning of society, of course. Fittingly, the animals that have chosen this role by themselves and for themselves, are the pigs.

Cut to US financial markets today. After years of swinish behavior more reminiscent of Animal House than anything else, the pigs are threatening to destroy the entire farm. As if it wasn't enough that they devoured all the "free market" food available and inundated the world with their excreta, they now wish to be put on the public trough. Truly, some businessmen believe they are more equal than others.

But do not blame the pigs; they are expected to act as swine nature dictates. The fault lies entirely with the farmers, those authorities entrusted by the people to oversee the farm because they supposedly knew better. While the pigs were rampaging and tearing the place apart, they were assuring us all that farms function best when animals are free to do as they please, guided solely by invisible hooves. No regulation, no oversight, no common sense. Oh yes, and pigs fly..

So what is to be done now? Two things:

In other words, the focus from now on should be on adding value by means of work and savings (capital formation), instead of inflating assets and borrowing.

Furthermore, we should realize that in a world already inhabited by close to 7 billion people and beset by resource depletion and environmental degradation, defending growth for growth's sake is a losing proposition. The wheels are already wobbling on the Permagrowth model; pumping harder on the accelerator is not going to make it go any faster and will likely result in a fatal crash.

Debt, and finance in general, should be left to re-size downwards to a level that better reflects the carrying capacity of our world. The Fed's current actions are shortsighted and "conservative" in the worst interpretation of the words: they are designed to artificially maintain debt at levels that myopically projects growth as far as the eye can see.

What level of resizing may be necessary? I hope not as much as at Bear Stearns, which got itself bought by Morgan at buzz-saw prices: $2 per share represents a 98% discount from its $84 book value. What scares me, though, is the statement by Morgan's CFO, who said the price reflected the risk the firm was taking, even though he was comfortable with the valuation of assets in Bear's books. It "...gives us the flexibility and margin of error that's appropriate given the speed at which the transaction came together", he said.

If it takes a 98% discount and the explicit guarantee of the Fed for a large portion of assets to buy one of the largest investment banks in the world, where should all other financial firms be trading at? ....Hello? Anyone? Is that a great big silence I hear, or the sound of credit imploding into a vacuum?


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[Feb 19, 2019] Cybersleuth Claims To Uncover Over 10,000 Unsold Tesla Model 3s in US Inventory

Notable quotes:
"... You mean people don't rush to buy luxury sedans looking like a Mazda 3 but costing 3 times as much while being 3 times less practical? ..."
Feb 19, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

OccamsCrazor , 4 minutes ago link

Wait. I thought they had a 400,000 car back log. How could they have 10,000 in inventory ? Are they building the wrong cars ? the ones no one wants ?

OccamsCrazor , 4 minutes ago link

Wait. I thought they had a 400,000 car back log. How could they have 10,000 in inventory ? Are they building the wrong cars ? the ones no one wants ?

BocceBaal , 24 minutes ago link

I'm a TSLA bear myself, but this is less than 3 weeks of production. It could be explained by moving cars around the country. In their quarterly reports, we've seen about this many unsold cars. Most car dealerships have several months worth of inventory.

If they get up to 20K or more unsold, it could indicate a problem.

Loki The Trickster , 1 hour ago link

You mean people don't rush to buy luxury sedans looking like a Mazda 3 but costing 3 times as much while being 3 times less practical?

takeaction , 1 hour ago link

If you want an amazing car...that fits anyone's needs and then some......this is it. Reliable...Inexpensive....Depreciation is next to ZERO...especially if you buy one 1 year old. A car is a tool. Buy the best tool that causes you NO GRIEF...keeps you safe...and is fun to drive. You want a car with the "Lowest Cost of Ownership" yet able to recover much of your investment when you want a newer one. Stay away from the ones that are the opposite of what I just posted. Land Rover, Jaguar, Mercedes, BMW, Cadillac...etc. All turds.

BEST CAR YOU COULD OWN....Toyota Camry

[Feb 19, 2019] Tulsi Gabbard kills New World Order bloodbath in thirty seconds

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Tulsi Gabbard has recently launched a new attack on New World Order agents and ethnic cleansers in the Middle East, and one can see why they would be upset with her ..."
"... Gabbard is smart enough to realize that the Neocon path leads to death, chaos, and destruction. She knows that virtually nothing good has come out of the Israeli narrative in the Middle East -- a narrative which has brought America on the brink of collapse in the Middle East. Therefore, she is asking for a U-turn. ..."
"... The first step for change, she says, is to "stand up against powerful politicians from both parties" who take their orders from the Neocons and war machine. These people don't care about you, me, the average American, the people in the Middle East, or the American economy for that matter. They only care about fulfilling a diabolical ideology in the Middle East and much of the world. These people ought to stop once and for all. Regardless of your political views, you should all agree with Gabbard here. ..."
Feb 19, 2019 | www.veteranstoday.com

Tulsi Gabbard has recently launched a new attack on New World Order agents and ethnic cleansers in the Middle East, and one can see why they would be upset with her. She said:

" We must stand up against powerful politicians from both parties who sit in their ivory towers thinking up new wars to wage, new places for people to die, wasting trillions of our taxpayer dollars and hundreds of thousands of lives and undermining our economy, our security, and destroying our middle class."

It is too early to formulate a complete opinion on Gabbard, but she has said the right thing so far. In fact, her record is better than numerous presidents, both past and present.

As we have documented in the past, Gabbard is an Iraq war veteran, and she knew what happened to her fellow soldiers who died for Israel, the Neocon war machine, and the military industrial complex. She also seems to be aware that the war in Iraq alone will cost American taxpayers at least six trillion dollars. [1] She is almost certainly aware of the fact that at least "360,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans may have suffered brain injuries." [2]

Gabbard is smart enough to realize that the Neocon path leads to death, chaos, and destruction. She knows that virtually nothing good has come out of the Israeli narrative in the Middle East -- a narrative which has brought America on the brink of collapse in the Middle East. Therefore, she is asking for a U-turn.

The first step for change, she says, is to "stand up against powerful politicians from both parties" who take their orders from the Neocons and war machine. These people don't care about you, me, the average American, the people in the Middle East, or the American economy for that matter. They only care about fulfilling a diabolical ideology in the Middle East and much of the world. These people ought to stop once and for all. Regardless of your political views, you should all agree with Gabbard here.


[Feb 19, 2019] Warmongers in their ivory towers - YouTube

Highly recommended!
This is a powerful political statement... Someaht similar to Tucker Carlson stance...
Feb 19, 2019 | www.youtube.com

"We must stand up against powerful politicians from both parties who sit in their ivory towers thinking up new wars to wage, new places for people to die, wasting trillions of our taxpayer dollars and hundreds of thousands of lives and undermining our economy, our security, and destroying our middle class."

[Feb 19, 2019] How 1984 turned into an instruction manual by Simon Black

Feb 18, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com
By Simon Black via Sovereignman.com

"Sometimes [two and two are four], Winston. Sometimes they are five. Sometimes they are three. Sometimes they are all of them at once. You must try harder. It is not easy to become sane."

One of the key themes from George Orwell's dystopic novel 1984 is that the Party can do and say whatever it wants.

And more importantly, you must believe it, with all your heart. No matter how absurd.

That's doublethink . It is impossible for two plus two to equal three, four, and five simultaneously. But if the Party says it is so, it is so.

If you can't make yourself believe two contradictory facts simultaneously, that makes you a thought criminal– an enemy of the Party.

Thoughtcrime is thinking any thought that contradicts the Party.

Facecrime is when you have the wrong expression on your face. For instance, if captured enemy soldiers are being paraded through the streets, looking sympathetic is a facecrime.

Newspeak is the language of the Party–one that has painstakingly been removed of unnecessary words, or words that might contradict the Party's ideals.

"Don't you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it."

During daily two minutes hate , citizens shout and curse whatever enemies the Party shows them.

And the face of the Party, Big Brother , is watching you. He helps you be a better citizen.

This isn't just some random literature lesson. Understanding Orwell's 1984 will help you understand 2019 America.

For instance, one California state senator is working on her own version of Newspeak.

She has banned the members of her committee from using gender pronouns, such as he, she, her, and him. Instead they must use "they and them" to respect non-binary gender choices.

So Billy Joel's famous song "She's always a woman" would become "They're always a non-binary gender. . ." Somehow that just doesn't ring with the same sweetness.

Last month a high school student famously committed a facecrime when he stood, apparently smirking, while a Native American activist beat a drum in his face.

The 16-year-old was then subjected to "two minutes hate" by the entire nation. The Party labeled him an enemy, and Twitter obliged.

Of course when I reference the 'Party', I don't mean to imply that all these Orwellian developments are coming from a single political party.

They've ALL done their parts to advance Orwellian dystopia and make it a reality.

Senators Chuck Schumer and Bernie Sanders want to limit corporate stock buybacks and share payouts. But the tax code already has the accumulated profits tax, which punishes corporations for NOT engaging in stock buybacks and share payouts

It's like doublethink you have to simultaneously pay and not pay out dividends.

Same goes for cops will pull you over for speeding, but also for "suspicious" textbook perfect driving .

The #MeToo movement made it a thoughtcrime to not immediately believe the accuser and condemn the accused , no evidence required.

When Matt Damon pointed out that we should not conflate a pat on the butt with rape, he was met with "two minutes hate" for expressing the wrong opinion.

On college campuses, some students are upset that white students are using multicultural spaces . Apparently "multicultural" is newspeak for "no whites allowed."

And when a controversy over offensive Halloween costumes erupted at Yale a few years ago, it was a student free speech group which suppressed any debate on the topic.

It's amazing how they want you to celebrate diversity as long as its not intellectual diversity.

1984 was supposed to be a warning. Instead, it has become an instruction manual.

[Feb 18, 2019] It is interesting that in the center of the Dostoevski novel Posessed (published in the 1870's) liberalism is being taken to its distorted extreme by a small group of would-be anarchists whose proposals have a modern twist to them as codified by one of their would-be leaders

Feb 18, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

juliania , Feb 16, 2019 2:34:21 PM | link

Thanks for opening a discussion on this article, b. I also recommend the Orlov translation, since the writing is complex. I am currently reading Dostoievski's "The Devils" (translated as "The Possessed" in most English editions) and after going through the old copy I have, will acquire a more recent translation to go deeper in. I think it is important historically as assisting me in acquiring somewhat the perspective being brought in the Surkov article.

It is interesting that in the center of the novel (published in the 1870's) liberalism is being taken to its distorted extreme by a small group of would-be anarchists whose proposals have a modern twist to them as codified by one of their would-be leaders:

"...In the first place, there is a lowering of the level of education, science, and art...the thirst for knowledge is an aristocratic thirst. No sooner do we have a family and experience love than we begin to desire to own things. We shall kill that desire; we shall spread drunkenness, gossip, information on others...everything must be reduced to the common denominator of complete equality...

[Feb 18, 2019] Spreading The Fake Smollett MAGA Country Hate Crime A Mainstream Media Montage

Feb 18, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Yes CNN, the walls are closing in ... on the mainstream media.

Meanwhile perhaps it's time for CNN's "media janitor", Brian Stelter, who is oh so quick to point out the bias in every other network except his own, tackle the most difficult and embarrassing question : why were the mainstream - and fringe - journalists who were skeptical of Smollett's claims, attacked and forced to self-censor when the case was unfolding, and will continue to self-censor knowing that if they criticize Smollett directly they would be accused of homophobia and racism?


hooligan2009 , 28 minutes ago link

congress passed the "magnitsky act" that allows the seizure of assets of anyone deemed to be a political enemy of libtard socialist welfare statists (despite the fact that Magnitsky did the books for Browder who evaded Russian taxes in the hundreds of millions of dollars as part of a western conspiracy to strip mine the Russian economy - even Magnitsky mother said that he was not murdered by the Russian police).

there needs to be a "smollett act" that penalizes anyone that publicly demonizes a race, color, creed or religion by inciting malice/hatred/discrimination against another race/color/religion/creed without proof.

blacks/whites/yellows/browns can be racist, sexist, agist, mithandristic, mysogynistic or any other form of discrimination. 95% of all people are not that way. positive discrimination is just as evil as negative discrimination.

time to enforce and strengthen race hate laws.

the penalties should start with a BAN on using social media or the MSM to further their views that "guilty by gossip, conjecture and fomentation of societal discord (aka. disturbing the peace) " overturns the basic legal tenet of "innocent until proven guilty".

NiggaPleeze , 2 hours ago link

Instead we once again see CNN and virtually all other left-leaning mainstream outlets spreading legitimately fake news like wild-fire

Right, and when Booker and Fairfax were accused of sexual assault/rape, all of the right-leaning mainstream outlets were very skeptical. https://video.foxnews.com/v/6000182150001/#sp=show-clips

Fact is partisanship is a mental disease that affects the Left and Right - ends justify the means. Obvious example: if Obama were to use a National Emergency to take action Congress expressly rejected and Obama signed into law, people on the right would call for impeachment and make all kinds of nasty accusations; when Trump does it, they cheer. There is no principle there, it's pure partisanship.

Perfect example also is the Fox news clip linked above. The Fox pundit asks increduously "why would these women smear him? what do they have to gain?", but I can guarantee you he wasn't asking those same questions when Kavanaugh was being accused.

Partisanship - an evil consuming little minds.

Ophiuchus , 3 hours ago link

When you own the medium, you own the message.

We are completely fucked with no way out until the grid goes down.

Quit gaslighting the country. Give the worthy a break, Trump; please shut the grid down and leave it down for a year.

Drop-Hammer , 3 hours ago link

This is a classic Christ-killing *** tactic straight from Saul Alinsky (Hillary's mentor). Since the kikes control all U.S. media from print media to broadcast media to Internet social media, they will never be called to account. They simply either make up the lie or they spread/broadcast/'retweet' the lie until it is a meme. If they are caught in the act, they merely let it drop or issue some half-assed mea culpa, but the damage is done/the innocent are tarred until the next lie is fabricated or spread. Of course, the lies/mendacity are against only white Christian Heritage Americans. Kikery at its most demonic. Someone once said that 'A lie has made its way around the world, before the truth has gotten out of bed.'

Oh, off topic but important to note that the *** press also spikes/stifles relevant facts in stories such as the fact that yesterday's Aurora, Illinois shooter (who killed five white people and shot and injured five police officers) was a ******. If he had been white, the guy's face would be plastered over every page and screen in America with the *** media screaming for gun control.

[Feb 17, 2019] Carlson is saying Trump's not "capable" of sustained focus on the sausage-making of right-wing policy

Notable quotes:
"... Carlson is saying Trump's not "capable" of sustained focus on the sausage-making of right-wing policy ..."
Dec 09, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

kees_popinga , December 8, 2018 at 12:43 pm

Tucker Carlson: "Trump is not capable" Weltwoche (Anita)

Carlson is saying Trump's not "capable" of sustained focus on the sausage-making of right-wing policy.

The clickbait (out of context) headline makes it sound like a more general diss. I'm not supporting Trump here [standard disclaimer], but these gotcha headlines are tiresome.

[Feb 17, 2019] Death of the Public University Uncertain Futures for Higher Education in the Knowledge Economy (Higher Education

Notable quotes:
"... Administration bloat and academic decline is another prominent feature of the neoliberal university. University presidents now view themselves as CEO and want similar salaries. ..."
Feb 17, 2019 | www.amazon.com

Customer Review

skeptic 5.0 out of 5 stars February 11, 2019 Format: Kindle Edition

The eyes opening, very important for any student or educator book

This book is the collection of more than dozen of essays of various authors, but even the Introduction (Privatizing the Public University: Key Trends, Countertrends, and Alternatives) is worth the price of the book

Trends in neo-liberalization of university education are not new. But recently they took a more dangerous turn. And they are not easy to decipher, despite the fact that they are greatly affect the life of each student or educator. In this sense this is really an eyes-opening book.

In Europe previously higher education as assessable for free or almost free, but for talented student only. Admission criteria were strict and checked via written and oral entrance exams on key subjects. Now the tend is to view university as business that get customers, charge them exorbitant fees and those customers get diploma as hamburgers in McDonalds at the end for their money. Whether those degree are worth money charged, or not and were suitable for the particular student of not (many are "fake" degrees with little or no chances for getting employment) is not university business. On the contrary marketing is used to attract as many students as possible and many of those student now remain in debt for large part of their adult life.

In other words, the neoliberalization of the university in the USA creates new, now dominant trend -- the conversion of the university into for-profit diploma mills, which are essentially a new type of rent-seeking (and they even attract speculative financial capital and open scamsters, like was in case of "Trump University" ). Even old universities with more than a century history more and more resemble diploma mills.

This assault on academic freedom by neoliberalism justifies itself by calling for "transparency" and "accountability" to the taxpayer and the public. But it operates used utter perversion of those terms. In the Neoliberal context, they mean "total surveillance" and "rampant rent-seeking."

Neoliberalism has converted education from a public good to a personal investment in the future, a future conceived in terms of earning capacity. As this is about your future earning potential, it is logical that for a chance to increase it you need to take a loan.

Significantly, in the same period per capita, spending on prisons increased by 126 percent (Newfield 2008: 266). Between the 1970s and 1990s there was a 400 percent increase in charges in tuition, room, and board in U.S. universities and tuition costs have grown at about ten times the rate of family income (ibid.). What these instances highlight is not just the state's retreat from direct funding of higher education but also a calculated initiative to enable private companies to capture and profit from tax-funded student loans.

The other tendency is also alarming. Funds now are allocated to those institutions that performed best in what has become a fetishistic quest for ever-higher ratings. That creates the 'rankings arms-race.' It has very little or nothing to do with the quality of teaching of students in a particular university. On the contrary, the curriculums were "streamlines" and "ideologically charged courses" such as neoclassical economics are now required for graduation even in STEM specialties.

In the neoliberal university professors are now under the iron heel of management and various metrics were invented to measure the "quality of teaching." Most of them are very perverted or can be perverted as when a measurement becomes a target; teachers start to focus their resources and activities primarily on what 'counts' rather than on their wider competencies, professional ethics and societal goals (see Kohn and Shore, this volume).

Administration bloat and academic decline is another prominent feature of the neoliberal university. University presidents now view themselves as CEO and want similar salaries. The same is true for the growing staff of university administrators. The recruitment of administrators has far outpaced the growth in the number of faculty – or even students. Meanwhile, universities claim to be struggling with budget crises that force to reduce permanent academic posts, and widely use underpaid and overworked adjunct staff – the 'precariat' paid just a couple of thousand dollars per course and often existing on the edge of poverty, or in real poverty.

Money now is the key objective and the mission changed from cultural to "for profit" business including vast expenses on advancement of the prestige and competitiveness of the university as an end in itself. Ability to get grants is now an important criteria of getting the tenure.

[Feb 17, 2019] The Subtle Signal That the Bull Market Could Soon End

Feb 17, 2019 | finance.yahoo.com

A great predictor

What is this amazingly accurate indicator of a coming recession? The unemployment rate trend. I first came across this idea on the Philosophical Economics blog , whose author has adopted the pseudonym Jesse Livermore, in honor of the 20th-century investor.

This Livermore conducted a rigorous analysis in search of the perfect recession indicator. He evaluated several potential signals, including real retail sales growth, industrial production growth, real S&P 500 earnings-per-share growth, employment growth, real personal income growth, and housing starts growth. While some of these indicators were promising, none of them compared to the predictive ability of the unemployment rate trend.

Note that it's the unemployment rate trend that's the great predictor of a recession and not the unemployment rate itself. The unemployment rate is a lagging indicator of a recession. In other words, the rate goes up significantly only after a recession is in effect.

But before the unemployment rate moves significantly higher, the unemployment rate trend must change from downward to upward. And that's what Livermore found was a great leading indicator, or predictor, of an economic recession. This change in trend is determined by simply seeing when the latest unemployment rate is higher than the 12-month simple moving average of previous monthly unemployment rates.

So how well does this predictor work? Over the last 70 years, a change in the unemployment rate trend predicted every recession that occurred. In two cases, the recession came immediately after the change in the unemployment rate trend. In other cases, the trend changed several months in advance of the start of a recession.

The U.S. hasn't experienced an economic recession since the Great Recession of 2008 and 2009. Unemployment rates remain low. However, the U.S. unemployment rate for January, which was reported in early February, moved higher than the 12-month simple moving average of previous monthly unemployment rates.

The subtle signal that has proven to be accurate at predicting the onset of a recession has flashed. And if a recession is indeed on the way, the bull market will soon end.

One drawback

Is there a catch? Yep. While the unemployment rate trend has been uncannily accurate at indicating recessions, it also sometimes provides a false signal. In other words, the trend changes but a recession doesn't occur.

This scenario happened as recently as September 2016. The unemployment rate rose above the 12-month simple moving average for previous unemployment rates for one month. A recession didn't ensue, though, and the bull market kept on trucking.

[Feb 17, 2019] Gundlach Last year's market selloff was just a 'taste of things to come' by Julia La Roche

Feb 17, 2019 | finance.yahoo.com

Late last year, the S&P 500 ( ^GSPC ) tumbled 20% from its Oct. 3 intraday high to its Dec. 24 intraday. And despite the market's sharp 17% rally from those lows, Bond king Jeffrey Gundlach says we're in a bear market and that we could see new lows.

"A bear market has nothing to do with this 20% arbitrary thing," Gundlach, the CEO of $121 billion DoubleLine Capital, told Yahoo Finance in an exclusive interview. "It has to do with something crazy happening first, and then the crazy thing gives it up. And yet more traditional things continue to march on. But one by one they give it up." December's dip buyers will sell at lower levels

The market has since been saved by the Fed's pivot to be "patient" on monetary policy and the subsequent rally in the bond market, all of which has kept interest rates low. For now.

"If the long end of rates starts to rise, as I expect, and if we break through 3.50% on the 30-year, I think it's over," Gundlach added. "Because the competition from the bond market, particularly against a climate of limiting one of the engines of stock price appreciation, which is buybacks , is thought to be potentially in jeopardy."

Gundlach believes that investors who bought during December's dip will likely end up selling at a lower point.

See also

[Feb 17, 2019] Trump is Russian asset memo is really neocon propaganda overkill

Highly recommended!
The ability of those in power to manipulate the ways ordinary people think, act and vote has allowed for an inverted totalitarianism which turns the citizenry into their own prison wardens, allowing those with real power to continue doing as they please unhindered by the interests of the common man.
In neoliberal MSM there is positive feedback loop for "Trump is a Russian agent" stories. So the meme feeds on itself.
Notable quotes:
"... And yet the trending, most high-profile stories about Trump today all involve painting him as a Putin puppet who is working to destroy America by taking a weak stance against an alarming geopolitical threat. This has had the effect of manufacturing demand for even more dangerous escalations against a nuclear superpower that just so happens to be a longtime target of U.S. intelligence agencies. ..."
"... the mass media is not in the business of reporting facts, it's in the business of selling narratives. Even if those narratives are so shrill and stress-inducing that they imperil the health of their audience. ..."
"... Trump is clearly not a Russian asset, he's a facilitator of America's permanent unelected government just like his predecessors, and indeed as far as actual policies and administration behavior goes he's not that much different from Barack Obama and George W Bush. Hell, for all his demagogic anti-immigrant speech Trump hasn't even caught up to Obama's peak ICE deportation years ..."
"... Used to be that the U.S. mass media only killed people indirectly, by facilitating establishment war agendas in repeating government agency propaganda as objective fact and promulgating narratives that manufacture support for a status quo which won't even give Americans health insurance or safe drinking water ..."
"... Now they're skipping the middle man and killing them directly by psychologically brutalizing them so aggressively that it ruins their health, all to ensure that Democrats support war and adore the U.S. intelligence community . ..."
"... The social engineers responsible for controlling the populace of the greatest military power on the planet are watching France closely, and understand deeply what is at stake should they fail to control the narrative and herd ordinary Americans into supporting U.S. government institutions. ..."
"... The ability of those in power to manipulate the ways ordinary people think, act and vote has allowed for an inverted totalitarianism which turns the citizenry into their own prison wardens, allowing those with real power to continue doing as they please unhindered by the interests of the common man. ..."
Jan 23, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

The always excellent Moon of Alabama blog has just published a sarcasm-laden piece documenting the many, many aggressive maneuvers that this administration has made against the interests of Russia, from pushing for more NATO funding to undermining Russia's natural gas interests to bombing Syria to sanctioning Russian oligarchs to dangerous military posturing.

<picture deleted>

And yet the trending, most high-profile stories about Trump today all involve painting him as a Putin puppet who is working to destroy America by taking a weak stance against an alarming geopolitical threat. This has had the effect of manufacturing demand for even more dangerous escalations against a nuclear superpower that just so happens to be a longtime target of U.S. intelligence agencies.

If the mass media were in the business of reporting facts, there would be a lot less "Putin's puppet" talk and a lot more "Hey, maybe we should avoid senseless escalations which could end all life on earth" talk among news media consumers. But there isn't, because the mass media is not in the business of reporting facts, it's in the business of selling narratives. Even if those narratives are so shrill and stress-inducing that they imperil the health of their audience.

Like His Predecessors

Trump is clearly not a Russian asset, he's a facilitator of America's permanent unelected government just like his predecessors, and indeed as far as actual policies and administration behavior goes he's not that much different from Barack Obama and George W Bush. Hell, for all his demagogic anti-immigrant speech Trump hasn't even caught up to Obama's peak ICE deportation years.

If the mass media were in the business of reporting facts, people would be no more worried about this administration than they were about the previous ones, because when it comes to his administration's actual behavior, he's just as reliable an upholder of the establishment-friendly status quo as his predecessors.

Used to be that the U.S. mass media only killed people indirectly, by facilitating establishment war agendas in repeating government agency propaganda as objective fact and promulgating narratives that manufacture support for a status quo which won't even give Americans health insurance or safe drinking water.

Now they're skipping the middle man and killing them directly by psychologically brutalizing them so aggressively that it ruins their health, all to ensure that Democrats support war and adore the U.S. intelligence community .

They do this for a reason, of course. The Yellow Vests protests in France have continued unabated for their ninth consecutive week , a decentralized populist uprising resulting from ordinary French citizens losing trust in their institutions and the official narratives which uphold them.

The social engineers responsible for controlling the populace of the greatest military power on the planet are watching France closely, and understand deeply what is at stake should they fail to control the narrative and herd ordinary Americans into supporting U.S. government institutions. Right now they've got Republicans cheering on the White House and Democrats cheering on the U.S. intelligence community, but that could all change should something happen which causes them to lose control over the thoughts that Americans think about their rulers.

Propaganda is the single most-overlooked and under-appreciated aspect of human society. The ability of those in power to manipulate the ways ordinary people think, act and vote has allowed for an inverted totalitarianism which turns the citizenry into their own prison wardens, allowing those with real power to continue doing as they please unhindered by the interests of the common man.

The only thing that will lead to real change is the people losing trust in corrupt institutions and rising like lions against them. That gets increasingly likely as those institutions lose control of the narrative, and with trust in the mass media at an all-time low, populist uprisings restoring power to the people in France, and media corporations acting increasingly weird and insecure , that looks more and more likely by the day.

[Feb 17, 2019] Tucker correctly called out Boot and Kristol for their advocacy of war while possessing no real-world experience when it comes to fighting war. Thos MIC peddlers need to be despised and ignored. But he supported Bush administration in its push for Iraq war as well

While we should thank Tucker for this takedown of these two warmongering know-nothings, he himself is not without a blame... Also while Max Boot and Bill Kristol have Twitter feeds and occasional MSNBC appearances, neocons John Bolton and Eliott Abrams are running American foreign policy.
Iraq invasion mainly benefitted Israel and MIC
Feb 17, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Scott Ritter February 15, 2019 at 4:23 pm

While I was entertained by Tucker's take down of Mssr's Boot and Kristol, I can't help but recall when he was carrying the water for the Bush administration during its build up for the invasion of Iraq. I offer up my encounter with him while he co-hosted CNN's Crossfire in July 2002. My answers, and facts, have withstood the test of time. Tucker's have not, and to see him calling out Boot and Kristol for their advocacy of war while possessing no real-world experience when it comes to fighting war when Tucker did the same thing is very much like the pot calling the kettle black. http://www.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0207/31/cf.00.html

[Feb 16, 2019] MSM Begs For Trust After Buzzfeed Debacle by Caitlin Johnstone

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... This is the behavior of a media class that is interested in selling narratives, not reporting truth. And yet the mass media talking heads are all telling us today that we must continue to trust them. ..."
"... More accountability in media than in politics, Chuck? Really? Accountability to whom? Your advertisers? Your plutocratic owners? Certainly not to the people whose minds you are paid exorbitant sums to influence; there are no public elections for the leadership of the mass media. ..."
"... CNN, for the record, has been guilty of an arguably even more embarrassing Russiagate flub than Buzzfeed 's when they wrongly reported that Donald Trump Jr had had access to WikiLeaks' DNC email archives prior to their 2016 publication, an error that was hilariously due to to the simple misreading of an email date by multiple people ..."
"... The mass media, including pro-Trump mass media like Fox News, absolutely deserves to be distrusted. It has earned that distrust. It had earned that distrust already with its constant promotion of imperialist wars and an oligarch-friendly status quo, and it has earned it even more with its frenzied promotion of a narrative engineered to manufacture consent for a preexisting agenda to shove Russia off the world stage. ..."
"... The mainstream media absolutely is the enemy of the people; just because Trump says it doesn't mean it's not true. The only reason people don't rise up and use the power of their numbers to force the much-needed changes that need to happen in our world is because they are being propagandized to accept the status quo day in and day out by the mass media's endless cultural engineering project . ..."
"... They are the reason why wars go unopposed, why third parties never gain traction, why people consent to money hemorrhaging upward to the wealthiest of the wealthy while everyone else struggles to survive. The sooner people wake up from the perverse narrative matrix of the plutocratic media, the better. ..."
Jan 20, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Caitlin Johnstone via Medium.com,

Following what the Washington Post has described as "the highest-profile misstep yet for a news organization during a period of heightened and intense scrutiny of the press," mass media representatives are now flailing desperately for an argument as to why people should continue to place their trust in mainstream news outlets.

On Thursday Buzzfeed News delivered the latest "bombshell" Russiagate report to fizzle within 24 hours of its publication, a pattern that is now so consistent that I've personally made a practice of declining to comment on such stories until a day or two after their release. "BOOM!" tweets were issued by #Resistance pundits on Twitter, "If true this means X, Y and Z" bloviations were made on mass media punditry panels, and for about 20 hours Russiagaters everywhere were riding the high of their lives, giddy with the news that President Trump had committed an impeachable felony by ordering Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about a proposed Trump office tower in Moscow, a proposal which died within weeks and the Kremlin never touched .

There was reason enough already for any reasonable person to refrain from frenzied celebration, including the fact that the story's two authors, Jason Leopold and Anthony Cormier, were giving the press two very different accounts of the information they'd based it on, with Cormier telling CNN that he had not personally seen the evidence underlying his report and Leopold telling MSNBC that he had. Both Leopold and Cormier, for the record, have already previously suffered a Russiagate faceplant with the clickbait viral story that Russia had financed the 2016 election, burying the fact that it was a Russian election .

Then the entire story came crashing down when Mueller's office took the extremely rare step of issuing an unequivocal statement that the Buzzfeed story was wrong , writing simply, "BuzzFeed's description of specific statements to the special counsel's office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen's congressional testimony are not accurate."

According to journalist and economic analyst Doug Henwood, the print New York Times covered the Buzzfeed report on its front page when the story broke, but the report on Mueller's correction the next day was shoved back to page 11 . This appalling journalistic malpractice makes it very funny that NYT's Wajahat Ali had the gall to tweet , "Unlike the Trump administration, journalists are fact checking and willing to correct the record if the Buzzfeed story is found inaccurate. Not really the actions of a deep state and enemy of the people, right?"

This is the behavior of a media class that is interested in selling narratives, not reporting truth. And yet the mass media talking heads are all telling us today that we must continue to trust them.

"Those trying to tar all media today aren't interested in improving journalism but protecting themselves," tweeted NBC's Chuck Todd.

"There's a lot more accountability in media these days than in our politics. We know we live in a glass house, we hope the folks we cover are as self aware."

More accountability in media than in politics, Chuck? Really? Accountability to whom? Your advertisers? Your plutocratic owners? Certainly not to the people whose minds you are paid exorbitant sums to influence; there are no public elections for the leadership of the mass media.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/rMY-zTxPCuY

"Mueller didn't do the media any favors tonight, and he did do the president one," griped the odious Chris Cuomo on CNN. "Because as you saw with Rudy Giuliani and as I'm sure you'll see with the president himself, this allows them to say 'You can't believe it! You can't believe what you read, you can't believe what you hear! You can only believe us. Even the Special Counsel says that the media doesn't get it right.'"

"The larger message that a lot of people are going to take from this story is that the news media are a bunch of leftist liars who are dying to get the president, and they're willing to lie to do it, and I don't think that's true" said Jeffrey Toobin on a CNN panel , adding "I just think this is a bad day for us."

"It does reinforce bad stereotypes about the news media," said Brian Stelter on the same CNN panel.

"I am desperate as a media reporter to always say to the audience, judge folks individually and judge brands individually. Don't fall for what these politicians out there want you to do. They want you to think we're all crooked. We're not. But Buzzfeed now, now the onus is on Buzzfeed. "

CNN, for the record, has been guilty of an arguably even more embarrassing Russiagate flub than Buzzfeed 's when they wrongly reported that Donald Trump Jr had had access to WikiLeaks' DNC email archives prior to their 2016 publication, an error that was hilariously due to to the simple misreading of an email date by multiple people.

The mass media, including pro-Trump mass media like Fox News, absolutely deserves to be distrusted. It has earned that distrust. It had earned that distrust already with its constant promotion of imperialist wars and an oligarch-friendly status quo, and it has earned it even more with its frenzied promotion of a narrative engineered to manufacture consent for a preexisting agenda to shove Russia off the world stage.

The mainstream media absolutely is the enemy of the people; just because Trump says it doesn't mean it's not true. The only reason people don't rise up and use the power of their numbers to force the much-needed changes that need to happen in our world is because they are being propagandized to accept the status quo day in and day out by the mass media's endless cultural engineering project .

They are the reason why wars go unopposed, why third parties never gain traction, why people consent to money hemorrhaging upward to the wealthiest of the wealthy while everyone else struggles to survive. The sooner people wake up from the perverse narrative matrix of the plutocratic media, the better.

* * *

The best way to get around the internet censors and make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for my website , which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. My articles are entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook , following my antics on Twitter , throwing some money into my hat on Patreon or Paypal , purchasing some of my sweet new merchandise , buying my new book Rogue Nation: Psychonautical Adventures With Caitlin Johnstone , or my previous book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers .

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[Feb 16, 2019] All roads lead to Obama

Feb 16, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

05/27/2018

macholatte -> Richard Chesler Sun, 05/27/2018 - 10:30 Permalink

All roads lead to Obama.

Trump's BIGGEST single mistake was making Sessions AG and then failing to fire Sessions after Sessions recused himself. We now know Sessions is Trump's Judas Iscariot.

How about the very well documented and obvious Crimes & Felonies:
1. On Rosenstein's advice, Sessions recused himself from getting involved with any Trump campaign related investigations - here come the Trump campaign related investigations.
2. Sessions appoints Rosenstein assistant AG.
3. Rosenstein recommends that Comey be fired.
4. Trump fires Comey.
5. Rosenstein recommends Wray, good buddy of Comey & Mueller, to be new FBI director.
6. Comey testifies that he leaked a memo (stuff he made up) because he knew it would trigger a special council to investigate the Trump campaign for Russia collusion (how did Comey know that? Was it part of the plan with Rosenstein?)
7. Rosenstein appoints Mueller (good friend of Rosenstein & Comey) as the special council with open authority to investigate "collusion", a suspected activity that is not a crime if it did exist. We now know Mueller's appointment & authority might be illegal.
8. Rosenstein & Wray stonewall congressional investigations into DOJ & FBI criminality.
9. Sessions refuses to appoint special council to investigate obvious Hitlary, DOJ & FBI criminality.
10. Sessions appoints John Huber, Obama appointee & swamp rat, to assist Inspector General without any power to subpoena or seat a Grand Jury.
11. Stormy Daniels is used to demoralize Trump and is assisted by FBI. Since when does the FBI get involved in the kind of civil actions raised by a prostitute?
12. Michael Cohen is raided by FBI regarding an issue that should be reserved for state court. Attorney client privilege is violated. This alone is a criminal act but nobody to prosecute it.
13. Months before the Cohen raid, Rosenstein-Mueller used the Cohen-Stormy situation to launch investigation into Cohen and thereby spy on Trump conversations with his attorney.
14. Judge appointed to hear the Cohen case is Prog Hack & Soros-Clinton crony Kimba Wood.

Conclusion: Sessions, Rosenstein, Comey, Wray and Mueller conspired to assist the "Soros-Clinton-Obama Resistance" to thwart all efforts to indict Clintons and Obama and expose the corruption at the FBI, DOJ and State Dept.

[Feb 16, 2019] This Is the Place Where S P 500 Rallies Have Come to Die

Feb 16, 2019 | www.bloomberg.com

While the S&P 500 advanced 2.5 percent in the past five days to cap its seventh weekly gain in the past eight, the index's next leg up would have it confront the round-number milestone that's marked the demise of three prior rallies since October.

The explanation for the skittishness is valuation. If the S&P 500 tops 2,800, its valuation based on 2019 average per-share earnings estimates will be 16.5 times forward earnings -- that's the average reading over the past five years, demarcating a level at which some analysts say stocks become expensive

... ... ...

Despite that, the S&P 500 climbed 6.9 percent in the five weeks since the earnings season kicked off, the best start to any reporting period since the results came in for the third quarter of 2014.

[Feb 16, 2019] Libya was a war crime.

Max Boot along with other neocons should be in jail.
Feb 16, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Stephen J. , February 15, 2019 a t 1:43 pm

The article states: " but by 2011 Boot had another war in mind. 'Qaddafi Must Go,' Boot declared in The Weekly Standard. In Boot's telling, the Libyan dictator had become a threat to the American homeland." -- -- - There is reported evidence that Libya was a war crime. And the perpetrators are Free. See info below:

"They Speak "

"The destruction of Libya by NATO at the behest of the UK, the US and France was a crime, one dripping in the cant and hypocrisy of Western ideologues " John Wight, November 27, 2017. https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/11/27/libya-chose-freedom-now-it-has-slavery/

They speak of "The Rule of Law" while breaking the law themselves They are the dangerous hypocrites that bombed Libya, and created hell Thousands upon thousands are dead in this unfortunate country Many would still be alive, if our "leaders" had not been down and dirty

Libya is reportedly a war crime and the war criminals are free Some of them are seen posturing on the world stage and others are on T.V. Others have written books and others are retired from public office And another exclaimed: "We came, we saw, he died" as murder was their accomplice

They even teamed up with terrorists to commit their bloody crimes And this went unreported in the "media": was this by design? There is a sickness and perversion loose in our society today When war crimes can be committed and the "law" has nothing to say

Another "leader" had a fly past to celebrate the bombing victory in this illegal war Now Libya is in chaos, while bloody terrorists roam secure And the NATO gang that caused all this horror and devastation Are continuing their bloody bombings in other unfortunate nations

The question must be asked: "Are some past and present leaders above the law? Can they get away with bombing and killing, are they men of straw? Whatever happened to law and order in the so- called "democracies"? When those in power can get away with criminality: Is that not hypocrisy?

There is no doubt that Libya was better off, before the "liberators" arrived Now many of its unfortunate people are now struggling to exist and survive The future of this war torn country now looks very sad and bleak If only our "leaders" had left it alone; but instead hypocrisy: They Speak

"The cause of the catastrophe in Libya in Libya was the seven month US-NATO blitzkrieg from March to October 2011 in which thousands of bombs and rockets rained down on that unfortunate land which was governed by President Muammar Ghaddafi whom the West was determined to overthrow by assisting a rebel movement." Brian Cloughley, 12.02.2019 https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2019/02/12/in-libya-we-came-saw-he-died-will-there-repeat-in-venezuela.html

[More info on all of this at link below] http://graysinfo.blogspot.com/2019/02/they-speak.html

[Feb 16, 2019] Why has the Democratic party turned into the party of the upper class

Feb 16, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Kurt Gayle , February 15, 2019 at 9:44 am

Last night on "Tucker Carlson Tonight," Tucker interviewed J.D. Vance. The interview is called "Why has the Democratic party turned into the party of the upper class" (February 14, 2019)

Carlson: Well for generations everybody in America knew what the stereotypes were for the two political parties. Democrats were the party of the working class: Coal miners, factory workers, your local beat cop. Republicans were the party of lawyers, and doctors, and they spent a lot of time at country clubs. Remember? Things have changed a lot. Now Democrats have become the party of the elite professional class. They're consultants, i-bankers, socialites eager to lecture you about open borders, global warming, from their gated communities. Nobody knows that change better, or has watched it more carefully than the author of "Hillbilly Elegy," J.D. Vance. We spoke to him recently about it:

Carlson: J.D. Vance: Thanks for joining us. Because you don't live in Washington and you think bigger thoughts than the rest of us who are completely consumed by this dumb new cycle, I want to ask you a broader question: The parties have re-aligned. They don't represent the same people they thought they represented, or that they've represented for the last 70 years. I'm not sure their leaders understand this, but you do. Who do the parties represent as of right now?

Vance: Well, at a big level the Democratic Party increasingly represents professional class elites and Republicans represent middle and working class wage earners in the middle of the country. Now I will say I think Democratic leaders kind of get this. If you look at the big proposals from the 2020 presidential candidates: Universal child care, debt-free college, even medicare for all which is framed as this lurch to the left, but is really just a big hand-out to doctors, physicians, pharmaceutical companies and hospitals. The sort of get that they're the party of the professional class and a lot of their policies are geared towards making life easier for professional class Americans. The problem I have is that my party, the Republican Party, hasn't quite figured out that we basically inherited a big chunk of the old FDR coalition: The middle of the country, working and middle class blue collar folks, the sort of people who work, pay their taxes, send their kids into the military -- that's increasingly the base of the Republican Party, but the Republican donor elites are actually not aligned with those folks in a lot of ways and so there's this really big miss-match, big-picture, within the Republican Party.

Carlson: So I'm completely fascinated by what you just said -- something I've never thought of in my life -- that medicare for all is actually a sop for the professional class. That's a whole separate segment and I hope you'll come back and unpack that all. But more broadly what you're saying I think is that the Democratic Party understands what it is, and who it represents, and affirmatively represents them. They do things for their voters. But the Republican Party doesn't actually represent its own voters very well.

Vance: Yes, that's exactly right. I mean look at who the Democratic Party is -- and look, I don't like the Democratic Party's policies; most of the time I disagree with them -- but I at least admire that they know who their voters are and they actually -- just as raw, cynical politics -- do a lot of things to serve those voters. Now look at who Republican voters increasingly are: They're people who disproportionately serve in the military, but Republican foreign policy has been a disaster for a lot of veterans. They're disproportionately folks who want to have more children, they're people who want to have more single-earner families, they're people who don't necessarily want to go to college, but they want to work in an economy where, if you play by the rules, you could actually support a family on one income. Have Republicans done anything for those people, really, in the last 15 or 20 years? I think you can point to some policies of the Trump administration -- certainly instinctively the President gets who his voters are and what he has to do to service those folks -- but at the end of the day the broad elite of the party, the folks who really call the shots, the think-tank intellectuals, the people who write the policy, I just don't think they realize who their own voters are. Now the slightly more worrying implication is that maybe some of them do realize who their voters are, they just don't actually like those voters a lot.

Carlson: Well, that's it. So, I watch the Democratic Party and I notice that if there's a substantial block within it -- it's this unstable coalition of all these groups that have nothing in common -- but the one thing they have in common is that the Democratic Party will protect them. You criticize a block of Democratic voters and they're on you like a wounded wombat -- they'll bit you! The Republicans watch their voters come under attack and sort of nod in agreement: Yeah, these people should be attacked.

Vance: That's absolutely right. If you talk to people who spent their lives in DC -- I know you live in DC, I've spent a lot of my life here -- the people who spend their time in DC, who work on Republican campaigns, who work at conservative think-tanks -- now this isn't true of everybody -- but a lot of them actually don't like the people who are voting for Republican candidates these days. And if you ultimately boil down the Never Trump phenomenon -- what is the Never Trump phenomenon? -- I was very critical of the President during the campaign -- but the Never Trump phenomenon is primarily not about the President. It's about the people who are most excited about somebody who was anti-elitest effectively taking over the Republican Party. They recognize that Trump was -- whatever his faults -- a person who instinctively understood who Republicans needed to be for. And at the end of the day, I think they don't think they necessarily want the Republican Party to be for those folks. They don't like the policies that will come from it, they don't like necessarily the country that will come from it, and so there's a lot of vitriol directed at people who voted for Donald Trump, whether excitedly or not.

Carlson: If the Republican Party has a future, it'll be organized around the ideas you just laid out -- maybe led by you or by somebody who thinks like you, I'm serious. That's what it needs. I think. J.D. Vance. Thank you.

Vance: Thanks, Tucker.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/fK2-wmwI5gU?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&autohide=2&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent

[Feb 16, 2019] Why Are These Professional War Peddlers Still Around? Pundits like Max Boot and Bill Kristol got everything after 9/11 wrong but are still considered experts. by Tucker Carlson

Notable quotes:
"... As Trump found himself accused of improper ties to Vladimir Putin, Boot agitated for more aggressive confrontation with Russia. Boot demanded larger weapons shipments to Ukraine. ..."
"... Boot's stock in the Washington foreign policy establishment rose. In 2018, he was hired by The Washington Post as a columnist. The paper's announcement cited Boot's "expertise on armed conflict." ..."
"... Republicans in Washington never recovered. When Trump attacked the Iraq War and questioned the integrity of the people who planned and promoted it, he was attacking them. They hated him for that. Some of them became so angry, it distorted their judgment and character. ..."
"... Almost from the moment Operation Desert Storm concluded in 1991, Kristol began pushing for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. In 1997, The Weekly Standard ran a cover story titled "Saddam Must Go." If the United States didn't launch a ground invasion of Iraq, the lead editorial warned, the world should "get ready for the day when Saddam has biological and chemical weapons at the tips of missiles aimed at Israel and at American forces in the Gulf." ..."
"... Under ordinary circumstances, Bill Kristol would be famous for being wrong. Kristol still goes on television regularly, but it's not to apologize for the many demonstrably untrue things he's said about the Middle East, or even to talk about foreign policy. Instead, Kristol goes on TV to attack Donald Trump. ..."
"... Trump's election seemed to undo Bill Kristol entirely. He lost his job at The Weekly Standard after more than 20 years, forced out by owners who were panicked about declining readership. He seemed to spend most of his time on Twitter ranting about Trump. ..."
"... By the spring of 2018, Kristol was considering a run for president himself. He was still making the case for the invasion of Iraq, as well as pushing for a new war, this time in Syria, and maybe in Lebanon and Iran, too. Like most people in Washington, he'd learned nothing at all. ..."
"... Creating complex and convincing false narratives to support demonic purposes is HARD WORK, and requires big pay. ..."
"... Lots of spilled ink here that's pretty meaningless without an answer to the following: Why does Trump employ John Bolton and Elliot Abrams? Explain Trump and Pence and Pompeo's Iran obsession and how it's any better than Kristol/Boot? ..."
Feb 15, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

One thing that every late-stage ruling class has in common is a high tolerance for mediocrity. Standards decline, the edges fray, but nobody in charge seems to notice. They're happy in their sinecures and getting richer. In a culture like this, there's no penalty for being wrong. The talentless prosper, rising inexorably toward positions of greater power, and breaking things along the way. It happened to the Ottomans.

Max Boot is living proof that it's happening in America.

Boot is a professional foreign policy expert, a job category that doesn't exist outside of a select number of cities. Boot has degrees from Berkeley and Yale, and is a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. He has written a number of books and countless newspaper columns on foreign affairs and military history. The International Institute for Strategic Studies, an influential British think tank, describes Boot as one of the "world's leading authorities on armed conflict."

None of this, it turns out, means anything. The professional requirements for being one ofthe world's Leading Authorities on Armed Conflict do not include relevant experience with armed conflict. Leading authorities on the subject don't need a track record of wise assessments or accurate predictions. All that's required are the circular recommendations of fellow credential holders. If other Leading Authorities on Armed Conflict induct you into their ranks, you're in. That's good news for Max Boot.

Boot first became famous in the weeks after 9/11 for outlining a response that the Bush administration seemed to read like a script, virtually word for word. While others were debating whether Kandahar or Kabul ought to get the first round of American bombs, Boot was thinking big. In October 2001, he published a piece in The Weekly Standard titled "The Case for American Empire."

"The September 11 attack was a result of insufficient American involvement and ambition," Boot wrote. "The solution is to be more expansive in our goals and more assertive in their implementation." In order to prevent more terror attacks in American cities, Boot called for a series of U.S.-led revolutions around the world, beginning in Afghanistan and moving swiftly to Iraq.

"Once we have deposed Saddam, we can impose an American-led, international regency in Baghdad, to go along with the one in Kabul," Boot wrote. "To turn Iraq into a beacon of hope for the oppressed peoples of the Middle East: Now that would be a historic war aim. Is this an ambitious agenda? Without a doubt. Does America have the resources to carry it out? Also without a doubt."

In retrospect, Boot's words are painful to read, like love letters from a marriage that ended in divorce. Iraq remains a smoldering mess. The Afghan war is still in progress close to 20 years in. For perspective, Napoleon Bonaparte seized control of France, crowned himself emperor, defeated four European coalitions against him, invaded Russia, lost, was defeated and exiled, returned, and was defeated and exiled a second time, all in less time than the United States has spent trying to turn Afghanistan into a stable country.

Things haven't gone as planned. What's remarkable is that despite all the failure and waste and deflated expectations, defeats that have stirred self-doubt in the heartiest of men, Boot has remained utterly convinced of the virtue of his original predictions. Certainty is a prerequisite for Leading Authorities on Armed Conflict.

In the spring of 2003, with the war in Iraq under way, Boot began to consider new countries to invade. He quickly identified Syria and Iran as plausible targets, the latter because it was "less than two years" from building a nuclear bomb. North Korea made Boot's list as well. Then Boot became more ambitious. Saudi Arabia could use a democracy, he decided.

"If the U.S. armed forces made such short work of a hardened goon like Saddam Hussein, imagine what they could do to the soft and sybaritic Saudi royal family," Boot wrote.

Five years later, in a piece for The Wall Street Journal , Boot advocated for the military occupation of Pakistan and Somalia. The only potential problem, he predicted, was unreasonable public opposition to new wars.

"Ragtag guerrillas have proven dismayingly successful in driving out or neutering international peacekeeping forces," he wrote. "Think of American and French troops blown up in Beirut in 1983, or the 'Black Hawk Down' incident in Somalia in 1993. Too often, when outside states do agree to send troops, they are so fearful of casualties that they impose rules of engagement that preclude meaningful action."

In other words, the tragedy of foreign wars isn't that Americans die, but that too few Americans are willing to die. To solve this problem, Boot recommended recruiting foreign mercenaries. "The military would do well today to open its ranks not only to legal immigrants but also to illegal ones," he wrote in the Los Angeles Times . When foreigners get killed fighting for America, he noted, there's less political backlash at home.

♦♦♦

American forces, documented or not, never occupied Pakistan, but by 2011 Boot had another war in mind. "Qaddafi Must Go," Boot declared in The Weekly Standard . In Boot's telling, the Libyan dictator had become a threat to the American homeland. "The only way this crisis will end -- the only way we and our allies can achieve our objectives in Libya -- is to remove Qaddafi from power. Containment won't suffice."

In the end, Gaddafi was removed from power, with ugly and long-lasting consequences. Boot was on to the next invasion. By late 2012, he was once again promoting attacks on Syria and Iran, as he had nine years before. In a piece for The New York Times , Boot laid out "Five Reasons to Intervene in Syria Now."

Overthrowing the Assad regime, Boot predicted, would "diminish Iran's influence" in the region, influence that had grown dramatically since the Bush administration took Boot's advice and overthrew Saddam Hussein, Iran's most powerful counterbalance. To doubters concerned about a complex new war, Boot promised the Syria intervention could be conducted "with little risk."

Days later, Boot wrote a separate piece for Commentary magazine calling for American bombing of Iran. It was a busy week, even by the standards of a Leading Authority on Armed Conflict. Boot conceded that "it remains a matter of speculation what Iran would do in the wake of such strikes." He didn't seem worried.

Listed in one place, Boot's many calls for U.S.-led war around the world come off as a parody of mindless warlike noises, something you might write if you got mad at a country while drunk. ("I'll invade you!!!") Republicans in Washington didn't find any of it amusing. They were impressed. Boot became a top foreign policy adviser to John McCain's presidential campaign in 2008, to Mitt Romney in 2012, and to Marco Rubio in 2016.

Everything changed when Trump won the Republican nomination. Trump had never heard of the International Institute for Strategic Studies. He had no idea Max Boot was a Leading Authority on Armed Conflict. Trump was running against more armed conflicts. He had no interest in invading Pakistan. Boot hated him.

As Trump found himself accused of improper ties to Vladimir Putin, Boot agitated for more aggressive confrontation with Russia. Boot demanded larger weapons shipments to Ukraine. He called for effectively expelling Russia from the global financial system, a move that might be construed as an act of war against a nuclear-armed power. The stakes were high, but with signature aplomb Boot assured readers it was "hard to imagine" the Russian government would react badly to the provocation. Those who disagreed Boot dismissed as "cheerleaders" for Putin and the mullahs in Iran.

Boot's stock in the Washington foreign policy establishment rose. In 2018, he was hired by The Washington Post as a columnist. The paper's announcement cited Boot's "expertise on armed conflict."

It is possible to isolate the precise moment that Trump permanently alienated the Republican establishment in Washington: February 13, 2016. There was a GOP primary debate that night in Greenville, South Carolina, so every Republican in Washington was watching. Seemingly out of nowhere, Trump articulated something that no party leader had ever said out loud. "We should never have been in Iraq," Trump announced, his voice rising. "We have destabilized the Middle East."

Many in the crowd booed, but Trump kept going: "They lied. They said there were weapons of mass destruction. There were none. And they knew there were none."

Pandemonium seemed to erupt in the hall, and on television. Shocked political analysts declared that the Trump presidential effort had just euthanized itself. Republican voters, they said with certainty, would never accept attacks on policies their party had espoused and carried out.

Republican voters had a different reaction. They understood that adults sometimes change their minds based on evidence. They themselves had come to understand that the Iraq war was a mistake. They appreciated hearing something verboten but true.

Rival Republicans denounced Trump as an apostate. Voters considered him brave. Trump won the South Carolina primary, and shortly after that, the Republican nomination.

Republicans in Washington never recovered. When Trump attacked the Iraq War and questioned the integrity of the people who planned and promoted it, he was attacking them. They hated him for that. Some of them became so angry, it distorted their judgment and character.

♦♦♦

Bill Kristol is probably the most influential Republican strategist of the post-Reagan era. Born in 1954, Kristol was the second child of the writer Irving Kristol, one of the founders of neoconservatism.

The neoconservatism of Irving Kristol and his friends was jarring to the ossified liberal establishment of the time, but in retrospect it was basically a centrist philosophy: pragmatic, tolerant of a limited welfare state, not rigidly ideological. By the time Bill Kristol got done with it 40 years later, neoconservatism was something else entirely.

Almost from the moment Operation Desert Storm concluded in 1991, Kristol began pushing for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. In 1997, The Weekly Standard ran a cover story titled "Saddam Must Go." If the United States didn't launch a ground invasion of Iraq, the lead editorial warned, the world should "get ready for the day when Saddam has biological and chemical weapons at the tips of missiles aimed at Israel and at American forces in the Gulf."

After the September 11 attacks, Kristol found a new opening to start a war with Iraq. In November 2001, he and Robert Kagan wrote a piece in The Weekly Standard alleging that Saddam Hussein hosted a training camp for Al Qaeda fighters where terrorists had trained to hijack planes. They suggested that Mohammad Atta, mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, was actively collaborating with Saddam's intelligence services. On the basis of no evidence, they accused Iraq of fomenting the anthrax attacks on American politicians and news outlets.

Under ordinary circumstances, Bill Kristol would be famous for being wrong. Kristol still goes on television regularly, but it's not to apologize for the many demonstrably untrue things he's said about the Middle East, or even to talk about foreign policy. Instead, Kristol goes on TV to attack Donald Trump.

Trump's election seemed to undo Bill Kristol entirely. He lost his job at The Weekly Standard after more than 20 years, forced out by owners who were panicked about declining readership. He seemed to spend most of his time on Twitter ranting about Trump.

Before long he was ranting about the people who elected Trump. At an American Enterprise Institute panel event in February 2017, Kristol made the case for why immigrants are more impressive than native-born Americans. "Basically if you are in free society, a capitalist society, after two, three, four generations of hard work, everyone becomes kind of decadent, lazy, spoiled, whatever." Most Americans, Kristol said, "grew up as spoiled kids and so forth."

In February 2018, Kristol tweeted that he would "take in a heartbeat a group of newly naturalized American citizens over the spoiled native-born know-nothings" who supported Trump.

By the spring of 2018, Kristol was considering a run for president himself. He was still making the case for the invasion of Iraq, as well as pushing for a new war, this time in Syria, and maybe in Lebanon and Iran, too. Like most people in Washington, he'd learned nothing at all.

Tucker Carlson is the host of Fox News 's Tucker Carlson Tonight and author of Ship of Fools: How A Selfish Ruling Class Is Bringing America to the Brink of Revolution (Simon & Schuster). This excerpt is taken from that book.


Patrick Constantine February 14, 2019 at 10:50 pm

Trump isn't the only one hated by useless establishment Republicans – with essays like this so will Tucker. Thanks for this takedown of these two warmongering know-nothings. I wish Trump all the time was like he was at that debate in S Carolina where he said what every American knows: the Iraq invasion was stupid and we should not have done it!
Anne Mendoza , says: February 15, 2019 at 2:10 am
So why are these professional war peddlers still around? For the same reason that members of the leadership class who failed and continue to fail in the Middle East are still around. There has not been an accounting at any level. There is just more talk of more war.
polistra , says: February 15, 2019 at 3:54 am
Well, the headline pretty much answers its own question if you know the purpose of Experts. In any subject matter from science to economics to politics, Experts are paid to be wrong. Nobody has to be paid to observe reality accurately with his own senses and rational mind. Every living creature does that all the time. It's the basic requirement of survival.

Creating complex and convincing false narratives to support demonic purposes is HARD WORK, and requires big pay.

snake charmer , says: February 15, 2019 at 6:49 am
""The September 11 attack was a result of insufficient American involvement and ambition," Boot wrote. "The solution is to be more expansive in our goals and more assertive in their implementation.""

In other words, if we had only squandered even more blood and treasure, why, everything would have been fine.

Why do so many true believers end up with some variation on the true believer's wheeze: "Communism didn't fail ! It was never tried!" Then again one can't be sure that Boot is a true believer. He might be a treacherous snake trying to use American power to advance a foreign agenda.

Mike , says: February 15, 2019 at 6:55 am
This is an Exocet missile of an article. Both hulls compromised, taking water. Nice.
John S , says: February 15, 2019 at 7:11 am
This is beautiful, Boot has been rewarded for every horrible failure...
Tom Gorman , says: February 15, 2019 at 8:36 am
Mr. Carlson,

Max Boot has indeed been an advocate of overseas intervention, but you fail to point out that he has recanted his support of the Iraq War. In his 2018 book "The Corrosion of Conservatism: Why I left the American Right," he states:

". . . I can finally acknowledge the obvious: it (The Iraq War) was all a big mistake. Saddam Hussein was heinous, but Iraq was better off under his tyrannical rule than the chaos that followed. I regret advocating the invasion and feel guilty about all the lives lost. It was a chastening lesson in the limits of American power."

I'm glad to see that Boot, along with yourself and other Republicans, realize that American use of force must have a clear objective with reasonable chance of success. I suggest you send this article to John Bolton. I'm not sure he agrees with you.

Dawg , says: February 15, 2019 at 9:29 am
Great article, Mr. Tucker. I hope folks also read Mearsheimer & Walt on the Iraq War. From chapter 8 of their book: http://mailstar.net/iraq-war.html
David LeRoy Newland , says: February 15, 2019 at 9:34 am
Excellent article. It's a shame that the Bush era GOP took Boot and Kristol seriously. That poor judgment led Bush to make the kinds of mistakes that gave Democrats the opening they needed to gain power, which in turn led them to make even more harmful mistakes.
Collin , says: February 15, 2019 at 9:55 am
Being against the Iraq 2 I find this populist arguing very 'eye-rolling' as you were pimping this war to death back in the day. (In fact I remember Jon Stewart being one of the few 'pundits' that questioned the war in 2003 & 2004.) And has dovish as Trump as been, his administration is still filled with Hawks and if you are concerned about wars then maybe use your TV show for instead of whining for past mistakes:

1) The administration action in Iran is aggressive and counter-productive to long term peace. The nuclear deal was an effective way of ensuring Iran controlling behavior for 15 years as the other parties, Europe and China, wanted to trade with Iran. (Additionally it makes our nation depend more on the Saudia relationship in which Washington should be slowly moving away from.)

2) Like it or not, Venezuela is starting down the steps of mission creep for the Trump Administration. Recommend the administration stay away from peace keeping troops and suggest this is China's problem. (Venezuela in debt to their eyeballs with China.)

3) Applaud the administration with peace talks with NK but warn them not to overstate their accomplishments. It is ridiculous that the administration signed big nuclear deals with NK that don't exist.

John In Michigan , says: February 15, 2019 at 9:59 am
I find it amazing that Boot is considered one of the "world's leading authorities on armed conflict,"yet never appears to have served in any branch of the armed forces, nor even heard a shot fired in anger. He is proof that academic credentials do not automatically confer "expertise."
Packard Day , says: February 15, 2019 at 10:26 am
Any war, anytime, any place, and cause just so long as American boys and girls can be in the middle of it.

Welcome to the American NeoCon movement, recently joined by Republican Never Trumpers, elected Democrats, and a host of far too many underemployed Beltway Generals & Admirals.

Joshua Xanadu , says: February 15, 2019 at 10:46 am
From a reformed Leftist, thank you Tucker for calling out the stank from the Republicans. The detailed compilation of lowlights from Max Boot and Bill Kristol (don't forget Robert Kagan!) should be etched in the minds of the now pro-war Democratic Party establishment.
Taras 77 , says: February 15, 2019 at 10:57 am
Being a neocon war monger means that you will never have to say you are sorry. The press will give them a pass every single time.

It is all about Israel-being wrong 100% of the time means it is all good because it was in the service of Israel.

Paul Reidinger , says: February 15, 2019 at 11:07 am
Yet another reason not to read the Washington Post.
Anja Mast , says: February 15, 2019 at 11:13 am
Tucker!!! When did you start writing for TAC?!?!

I laughed out loud while reading this, and continued laughing through to the end, until I saw who had the audacity to tell the truth about these utter incompetent failures (who have failed upwards for more than a decade now) who call themselves "foreign policy experts." Yeah -- "experts" at being so moronically wrong that you really start wondering if perhaps the benjamins from another middle eastern nation, that can't be named, has something to do with their worthless opinions, which always seem to do made for the benifit of the nameless nation.

So hurrah for you!!! Let the truth set us all free! Praise the Lord & Sing Songs of Praise to his Name!!!! Literally that's how great it is to hear the pure & unvarnished TRUTH spoken out loud in this publication!

I hope you get such awesome feedback that you are asked to continue to bless us with more truths! Thank you! You totally made my day!

And thank you for your service to this country, where it used to be considered patriotic to speak the truth honestly & plainly!

Joe , says: February 15, 2019 at 11:14 am
Why Are These Professional War Peddlers Still Around? Simple, leaders like Trump keep them around, e.g. Pompeo, Bolton and Abrams.
David Biddington , says: February 15, 2019 at 11:22 am
John Bolton and Eliot Abrams on Team Trump, gearing up with Bibi to attack Iran is of no concern to sir?
George Crosley , says: February 15, 2019 at 11:22 am
"Once we have deposed Saddam, we can impose an American-led, international regency in Baghdad, to go along with the one in Kabul," Boot wrote.

To which the reader might reasonably reply, "What do you mean we , Paleface?"

When I see Max Boot or Bill Kristol in uniform, carrying a rifle, and trudging with their platoon along the dusty roads of the Middle East, I'll begin to pay attention to their bleats and jeremiads.

Until that day, I'll continue to view them as a pair of droning, dull-as-ditchwater members of the 45th Word-processing Brigade. (Company motto: "Let's you and him fight!")

Frank Goodpasture III , says: February 15, 2019 at 11:29 am
It is my understanding that HRC led the charge to overthrow and hang Gaddafi in spite of a reluctant Obama administration. Did Boot, in fact, influence her?
marku52 , says: February 15, 2019 at 11:29 am
"Most Americans, Kristol said, "grew up as spoiled kids and so forth."" Unintentional irony, one must presume. Still it is astonishing that it took someone as addled as DJT to point out the obvious–Invading Iraq was a massive mistake.

Where were the rest of the "adults"

Jimmy Lewis , says: February 15, 2019 at 11:41 am
Boot, Kristal, Cheney, and Rumsfeld should all be in jail for war crimes.
jk , says: February 15, 2019 at 11:53 am
Just like Eliot Abrams, John McCain, GWB, Dick Cheney, Rumsfeld or any other neocon, there is no justice or punishment or even well deserved humiliation for these parasites. They are always misinformed, misguided, or "well intentioned."

The US can interfere with sovereign governments and elections at will I guess and not be responsible for the the unintended consequences such as 500k+ killed in the Middle East since the Iraq and Afghan debacle.

There are sugar daddies from the MIC, the Natsec state (aka the Swamp), AIPAC, and even Jeff Bezos (benefactor of WaPo) that keep these guys employed.

You need to be more critical of Trump also as he is the one hiring these clowns. But other than that, keep up the good work Mr. Carlson!

Allen , says: February 15, 2019 at 12:09 pm
These Chairborne Rangers in Washington know nothing about war. They are the flip side of the radical Dems. "Hey, we lost in 2016. Let's do MORE of what made us lose in the first place!"
D , says: February 15, 2019 at 12:53 pm
Would've been nice if you wrote this about Bolton, Adams, Pompeo, Pence, or any of the other sundry neocon lunatics in the Trump administration.

Nonetheless, always good to see a takedown of Boot and Kristol.

J Thomsen , says: February 15, 2019 at 1:07 pm
The GOP is as much an enemy to the Trump revolution as the left. The Bush/Clinton/Obama coalition runs DC – controls the federal workforce, and colludes to run the Federal government for themselves and their pet constituents.

Trump should have stuck it out on the shutdown until those federal workers left. I think it was called RIF wherein after 30 days, he could dump the lot of em.

THE GOP IS NOT THE PARTY OF LESS GOVERNMENT. That's there motto for busy conservatives who don't have the time or inclination to monitor both sides of the swamp.

THEY ALL HAVE GILLS . we need to starve em out.

Joe from Pa , says: February 15, 2019 at 1:10 pm
Lots of spilled ink here that's pretty meaningless without an answer to the following: Why does Trump employ John Bolton and Elliot Abrams? Explain Trump and Pence and Pompeo's Iran obsession and how it's any better than Kristol/Boot?

What's going on in Yemen?

sanford sklansky , says: February 15, 2019 at 1:18 pm
Funny how when liberals said it was wrong to be in Iraq they were vilified. Yes some conservatives changed their minds. Trump however is all over the map when it comes to wars. http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/176527/

[Feb 16, 2019] Two planes hit two towers and three towers fall down. You would not believe that if it were in a movie

Feb 16, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

GoldenDonuts , 1 hour ago link

911 was the greatest false flag ever. Two planes hit two towers and three towers fall down. You would not believe that if it were in a movie. Then quick as a wink. It seemed like the "homeland security" legislation was already written. Poof there goes your civil rights, and your constitution is nothing but toilet paper.

911 and the Kennedy assassination need to be really investigated.

JBL , 42 minutes ago link

they spent more money on the lewinsky investigation than 9/11 + JFK's assassination combined

calito , 1 hour ago link

"And it couldn't have been headier, even after a tiny Islamist terror outfit hijacked four American jets and took out New York's World Trade Center and part of the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. "

BEEEEEEP!

Article immediately disqualified!

[Feb 15, 2019] Consumption of liquid fuels grows over the next decade, before broadly plateauing in the 2030s

Highly recommended!
How they can claim that US tight oil will be produced in larger quantities if they predict stagnant oil prices and at those price the US production is unprofitable.
So from now on it's all condensate, and very little heavy and medium oil.
I like BP propaganda: "The abundance of oil resources, and risk that large quantities of recoverable oil will never be extracted, may prompt low-cost producers to use their comparative advantage to expand their market share in order to help ensure their resources are produced." That's not only stupid but also gives up the intent...
Notable quotes:
"... In the ET scenario, global demand for liquid fuels – crude and condensates, natural gas liquids (NGLs), and other liquids – increases by 10 Mb/d, plateauing around 108 Mb/d in the 2030s. ..."
"... All of the demand growth comes from developing economies, driven by the burgeoning middle class in developing Asian economies. Consumption of liquid fuels within the OECD resumes its declining trend. ..."
"... The increase in liquid fuels supplies is set to be dominated by increases in NGLs and biofuels, with only limited growth in crude ..."
www.bp.com

In the ET scenario, global demand for liquid fuels – crude and condensates, natural gas liquids (NGLs), and other liquids – increases by 10 Mb/d, plateauing around 108 Mb/d in the 2030s.

All of the demand growth comes from developing economies, driven by the burgeoning middle class in developing Asian economies. Consumption of liquid fuels within the OECD resumes its declining trend. The growth in demand is initially met from non-OPEC producers, led by US tight oil. But as US tight oil production declines in the final decade of the Outlook, OPEC becomes the main source of incremental supply. OPEC output increases by 4 Mb/d over the Outlook, with all of this growth concentrated in the 2030s. Non-OPEC supply grows by 6 Mb/d, led by the US (5 Mb/d), Brazil (2 Mb/d) and Russia (1 Mb/d) offset by declines in higher-cost, mature basins.

Consumption of liquid fuels grows over the next decade, before broadly plateauing in the 2030s

Demand for liquid fuels looks set to expand for a period before gradually plateauing as efficiency improvements in the transport sector accelerate. In the ET scenario, consumption of liquid fuels increases by 10 Mb/d (from 98 Mb/d to 108 Mb/d), with the majority of that growth happening over the next 10 years or so. The demand for liquid fuels continues to be dominated by the transport sector, with its share of liquids consumption remaining around 55%. Transport demand for liquid fuels increases from 56 Mb/d to 61 Mb/d by 2040, with this expansion split between road (2 Mb/d) (divided broadly equally between cars, trucks, and 2/3 wheelers) and aviation/marine (3 Mb/d). But the impetus from transport demand fades over the Outlook as the pace of vehicle efficiency improvements quicken and alternative sources of energy penetrate the transport system . In contrast, efficiency gains when using oil for non-combusted uses, especially as a feedstock in petrochemicals, are more limited. As a result, the non-combusted use of oil takes over as the largest source of demand growth over the Outlook, increasing by 7 Mb/d to 22 Mb/d by 2040.

The outlook for oil demand is uncertain but looks set to play a major role in global energy out to 2040

Although the precise outlook is uncertain, the world looks set to consume significant amounts of oil (crude plus NGLs) for several decades, requiring substantial investment. This year's Energy Outlook considers a range of scenarios for oil demand, with the timing of the peak in demand varying from the next few years to beyond 2040. Despite these differences, the scenarios share two common features. First, all the scenarios suggest that oil will continue to play a significant role in the global energy system in 2040, with the level of oil demand in 2040 ranging from around 80 Mb/d to 130 Mb/d. In all scenarios, trillions of dollars of investment in oil is needed Second, significant levels of investment are required for there to be sufficient supplies of oil to meet demand in 2040. If future investment was limited to developing existing fields and there was no investment in new production areas, global production would decline at an average rate of around 4.5% p.a. (based on IEA's estimates), implying global oil supply would be only around 35 Mb/d in 2040. Closing the gap between this supply profile and any of the demand scenarios in the Outlook would require many trillions of dollars of investment over the next 20 years.

Growth in liquids supply is initially dominated by US tight oil, with OPEC production increasing only as US tight oil declines

Growth in global liquids production is dominated in the first part of the Outlook by US tight oil, with OPEC production gaining in importance further out. In the ET scenario, total US liquids production accounts for the vast majority of the increase in global supplies out to 2030, driven by US tight oil and NGLs. US tight oil increases by almost 6 Mb/d in the next 10 years, peaking at close to 10.5 Mb/d in the late 2020s, before falling back to around 8.5 Mb/d by 2040. The strong growth in US tight oil reinforces the US's position as the world's largest producer of liquid fuels. As US tight oil declines, this space is filled by OPEC production, which more than accounts for the increase in liquid supplies in the final decade of the Outlook.

The increase in OPEC production is aided by OPEC members responding to the increasing abundance of global oil resources by reforming their economies and reducing their dependency on oil, allowing them gradually to adopt a more competitive strategy of increasing their market share. The speed and extent of this reform is a key uncertainty affecting the outlook for global oil markets (see pp 88-89).

The stalling in OPEC production during the first part of the Outlook causes OPEC's share of global liquids production to fall to its lowest level since the late 1980s before recovering towards the end of the Outlook.

Low-cost producers: Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, Iraq and Russia

Oil demand
Download chart and data Download this chart pdf / 64.6 KB Download this data xlsx / 10.1 KB
Excluding GTLs and CTLs

The abundance of oil resources, and risk that large quantities of recoverable oil will never be extracted, may prompt low-cost producers to use their comparative advantage to expand their market share in order to help ensure their resources are produced.

The extent to which low-cost producers can sustainably adopt such a 'higher production, lower price' strategy depends on their progress in reforming their economies, reducing their dependence on oil revenues.

In the ET scenario, low-cost producers are assumed to make some progress in the second half of the Outlook, but the structure of their economies still acts as a material constraint on their ability to exploit fully their low-cost barrels.

The alternative 'Greater reform' scenario assumes a faster pace of economic reform, allowing low-cost producers to increase their market share. The extent to which low-cost producers can increase their market share depends on: the time needed to increase production capacity; and on the ability of higher-cost producers to compete, by either reducing production costs or varying fiscal terms.

The lower price environment associated with this more competitive market structure boosts demand, with the consumption of oil growing throughout the Outlook.

Growth in liquid fuels supplies is driven by NGLs and biofuels, with only limited growth in crude oil production

The increase in liquid fuels supplies is set to be dominated by increases in NGLs and biofuels, with only limited growth in crude.

[Feb 15, 2019] CAPE Fear The Bulls Are Wrong. Shiller's Measure Is the Real Deal

Notable quotes:
"... The CAPE aims to correct for those distortions. It smooths the denominator by using not current profits, but a ten-year average, of S&P 500 earnings-per-share, adjusted for inflation. Today, the CAPE for the 500 reads 29.7. It's only been that high in two previous periods: Before the crash of 1929, and during the tech bubble from 1998 to 2001, suggesting that when stocks are this expensive, a downturn may be at hand. ..."
"... is 36.1% higher ..."
"... Here's the problem that the CAPE highlights. Earnings in the past two decades have been far outpacing GDP; in the current decade, they've beaten growth in national income by 1.2 points (3.2% versus 2%). That's a reversal of long-term trends. ..."
"... Right now, earnings constitute an unusually higher share of national income. That's because record-low interest rates have restrained cost of borrowing for the past several years, and companies have managed to produce more cars, steel and semiconductors while shedding workers and holding raises to a minimum. ..."
"... t's often overlooked that although profits grow in line with GDP, which by the way, is now expanding a lot more slowly than two decades ago, earnings per share ..."
"... The reason is dilution. Companies are constantly issuing new shares, for everything from expensive acquisitions to stock option redemptions to secondary offerings. New enterprises are also challenging incumbents, raising the number of shares that divide up an industry's profits faster than those profits are increasing. Since total earnings grow with GDP, and the share count grows faster than profits, it's mathematically impossible for EPS growth to consistently rise in double digits, although it does over brief periods––followed by intervals of zero or minuscule increases. ..."
"... The huge gap between the official PE of 19 and the CAPE at 30 signals that unsustainably high profits are artificially depressing the former. and that profits are bound to stagnate at best, and more likely decline. ..."
"... In an investing world dominated by hype, the CAPE is a rare truth-teller ..."
Feb 15, 2019 | finance.yahoo.com

For the past half-decade, a controversial yardstick called the CAPE has been flashing red, warning that stock prices are extremely rich, and vulnerable to a sharp correction. And over the same period, the Wall Street bulls and a number of academics led by Jeremy Siegel of the Wharton School, have been claiming that CAPE is a kind of fun house mirror that makes reasonable valuations appear grotesquely stretched.

CAPE, an acronym "Cyclically-adjusted price-to-earnings ratio," was developed by economist Robert Shiller of Yale to correct for a flaw in judging where stock prices stand on the continuum from dirt cheap to highly expensive based on the current P/E ratio. The problem: Reported earnings careen from lofty peaks to deep troughs, so that when they're in a funk, multiples jump so high that shares appear overpriced when they're really reasonable, and when profits explode, they can skew the P/E by creating the false signal that they're a great buy.

The CAPE aims to correct for those distortions. It smooths the denominator by using not current profits, but a ten-year average, of S&P 500 earnings-per-share, adjusted for inflation. Today, the CAPE for the 500 reads 29.7. It's only been that high in two previous periods: Before the crash of 1929, and during the tech bubble from 1998 to 2001, suggesting that when stocks are this expensive, a downturn may be at hand.

The CAPE's critics argue that its adjusted PE is highly inflated, because the past decade includes a portion of the financial crisis that decimated earnings. That period was so unusual, their thinking goes, that it makes the ten-year average denominator much too low, producing what looks like a dangerous number when valuations are actually reasonable by historical norms. They point to the traditional P/E based on 12-month trailing, GAAP profits. By that yardstick today's multiple is 19.7, a touch above the 20-year average of 19, though exceeding the century-long norm of around 16.

I've run some numbers, and my analysis indicates that the CAPE doesn't suffer from those alleged shortcoming, and presents a much truer picture than today's seemingly reassuring P/E. Here's why. Contrary to its opponents' assertions, the CAPE's earnings number is not artificially depressed. I calculated ten year average of real profits for six decade-long periods starting in February of 1959 and ending today, (the last one running from 2/2009 to 2/2019). On average, the adjusted earnings number rose 22% from one period to the next. The biggest leap came from 1999 to 2009, when the 10-year average of real earnings advanced 42%.

So did profits since then languish to the point where the current CAPE figure is unrealistically big? Not at all. The Shiller profit number of $91 per share is 36.1% higher than the reading for the 1999 to 2009 period, when it had surged a record 40%-plus over the preceding decade. If anything, today's denominator looks high, meaning the CAPE of almost 30 is at least reasonable, and if anything overstates what today's investors will reap from each dollar they've invested in stocks.

Indeed, in the latest ten-year span, adjusted profits have waxed at a 3.2% annual pace, slightly below the 3.6% from 1999 to 2009, but far above the average of 1.6% from 1959 to 1999.

Here's the problem that the CAPE highlights. Earnings in the past two decades have been far outpacing GDP; in the current decade, they've beaten growth in national income by 1.2 points (3.2% versus 2%). That's a reversal of long-term trends. Over our entire 60 year period, GDP rose at 3.3% annually, and profits trailed by 1.3 points, advancing at just 2%. So the rationale that P/Es are modest is based on the assumption that today's earnings aren't unusually high at all, and should continue growing from here, on a trajectory that outstrips national income.

It won't happen. It's true that total corporate profits follow GDP over the long term, though they fluctuate above and below that benchmark along the way. Right now, earnings constitute an unusually higher share of national income. That's because record-low interest rates have restrained cost of borrowing for the past several years, and companies have managed to produce more cars, steel and semiconductors while shedding workers and holding raises to a minimum.

Now, rates are rising and so it pay and employment, forces that will crimp profits. I t's often overlooked that although profits grow in line with GDP, which by the way, is now expanding a lot more slowly than two decades ago, earnings per share grow a lot slower, as I've shown, lagging by 1.3 points over the past six decades.

An influential study from 2003 by Rob Arnott, founder of Research Affiliates, and co-author William J. Bernstein, found that EPS typically trails overall profit and economic growth by even more, an estimated 2 points a year.

The reason is dilution. Companies are constantly issuing new shares, for everything from expensive acquisitions to stock option redemptions to secondary offerings. New enterprises are also challenging incumbents, raising the number of shares that divide up an industry's profits faster than those profits are increasing. Since total earnings grow with GDP, and the share count grows faster than profits, it's mathematically impossible for EPS growth to consistently rise in double digits, although it does over brief periods––followed by intervals of zero or minuscule increases.

The huge gap between the official PE of 19 and the CAPE at 30 signals that unsustainably high profits are artificially depressing the former. and that profits are bound to stagnate at best, and more likely decline. The retreat appears to have already started. The Wall Street "consensus" Wall Street earnings forecast compiled by FactSet calls for an EPS decline of 1.7% for the first quarter of 2017, and zero inflation-adjusted gains for the first nine months of the year.

In an investing world dominated by hype, the CAPE is a rare truth-teller .

[Feb 15, 2019] S>omething like $150B in shale companies debt comes due between now and 2023.

US reserves are estimated by some to about 50 billion barrels. Oil production, along with reserve estimates, are growing in the US for one reason and one reason only, the advent of shale oil. Reserve estimates before 2008 were based on conventional oil.
Onshore conventional oil production in the USA is in steep decline. Shale oil production is intrinsically connected with financing and it produce along with oil a stream of junk bonds. At some point investors might do not want them of the bubble start deflating. Then what.
Notable quotes:
"... Next three years for Shale Drillers may be a problem. I believe something like $150B in debt comes due between now and 2023. That's a lot of debt to roll over, as well as take on more debt to fund CapEx. ..."
Feb 15, 2019 | peakoilbarrel.com

TechGuy: 02/15/2019 at 1:23 pm

Hugo Wrote:

"Dennis, with his calculation of a peak in 2025 + or – 3 years is about right."

That really depends on how much debt the Shale Drillers can take on, and presumes there is not another global recession before 2025. Next three years for Shale Drillers may be a problem. I believe something like $150B in debt comes due between now and 2023. That's a lot of debt to roll over, as well as take on more debt to fund CapEx.

Without constant US Shale production increases, world production peaks.

[Feb 15, 2019] OPEC January Production Data " Peak Oil Barrel

US reserves are estimated by some to about 50 billion barrels. Oil production, along with reserve estimates, are growing in the US for one reason and one reason only, the advent of shale oil. Reserve estimates before 2008 were based on conventional oil.
Onshore conventional oil production in the USA is in steep decline. Shale oil production is intistically connected with financing and it produce along with oil a stream of junk bonds. At some point investors might do not want them of the bubble start deflating. Then what.
Feb 15, 2019 | peakoilbarrel.com

TechGuy x Ignored says: 02/15/2019 at 1:23 pm

Hugo Wrote:
"Dennis, with his calculation of a peak in 2025 + or – 3 years is about right."

That really depends on how much debt the Shale Drillers can take on, and presumes there is not another global recession before 2025. Next three years for Shale Drillers may be a problem. I believe something like $150B in debt comes due between now and 2023. That's a lot of debt to roll over, as well as take on more debt to fund CapEx. Without constant US Shale production increases, world production peaks.

[Feb 15, 2019] Oil Rises as Aramco Said to Cut Output at Biggest Offshore Field

KSA and Russia together can drive oil price to anywhere they wish... Wall street sharks can do nothing with those giants if they cut oil output.
Notable quotes:
"... Russia plans to accelerate the output cuts it agreed to with OPEC+. ..."
Feb 15, 2019 | finance.yahoo.com

Oil climbed as Saudi Arabia was said to curtail some output from its Safaniyah offshore oil field, the largest in the world.

Futures in New York rose as much as 2.2 percent Friday, pushing toward its biggest weekly gain in a month. Saudi Arabia was said to trim supply from Safaniyah to repair a damaged power cable, while Russia plans to accelerate the output cuts it agreed to with OPEC+.

... ... ...

Saudi Arabian Oil Co.'s Safaniyah field has the capacity to pump 1.2 million to 1.5 million barrels of crude a day, and is a major component of the Arab Heavy grade. The cable was damaged in an accident about two weeks ago and repairs are expected to be completed by early March, people with knowledge of the matter said.

[Feb 15, 2019] You can see how the definitions are going to blur and they're going to allow declaring oil production numbers to be anything that they want them to be.

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... I have been suspicious for some time that production numbers can be corrupted by fuzzy definitions. ..."
"... You can see how the definitions are going to blur and they're going to allow declaring oil production numbers to be anything that they want them to be. ..."
Feb 15, 2019 | peakoilbarrel.com

Watcher: 02/15/2019 at 4:24 am

I have been suspicious for some time that production numbers can be corrupted by fuzzy definitions. Iran is being sanctioned, but Iran shares that enormous gas field under the Persian Gulf with Qatar. Gas production yields condensate and it yields NGLs.

High vapor pressure NGLs get labeled liquefied petroleum gas, and that is used for transportation fuel in India. Pentane Plus is used or called something akin to natural gasoline.

You can see how the definitions are going to blur and they're going to allow declaring oil production numbers to be anything that they want them to be. Iran is using this to dodge sanctions, or they did use it when condensate was not restricted. Don't recall if that loophole was closed in the current sanctions. That would be a good thing to know.

The same thing can happen with shale. We hear all sorts of talk about how much gas is being flared and how much gas is being captured, and you know perfectly well there has to be condensate involved. There was an article a year or so ago about NGL capture in the Bakken, but I don't recall any follow-up. It shouldn't take too much of a stretch on the part of state regulators to find a way to count the high vapor pressure portion of NGL as oil.

likbez: 02/15/2019 at 7:27 pm

You can see how the definitions are going to blur and they're going to allow declaring oil production numbers to be anything that they want them to be.

Exactly. And this, in turn, allows Wall Street to suppress the price of "prime oil" using fake production numbers, fake storage glut (which is essentially condensate glut) and similar tricks. Please note that the US refineries consume mainly "prime oil" while the USA mainly produces (and tries to export at a discount) "subprime oil."

Pretty polished and sophisticated racket. It might well be that shale oil companies are partially financed from those Wall Street profits as nobody in serious mind expect those loans to be ever repaid.

So OPEC cuts are the only weapon that OPEC countries have against this racket.

In any case, I think all those nice charts now need to be split into "prime oil" and subprime oil parts and analyzed separately. In the current conditions, treating "heavy oil" and condensate as a single commodity looks to me like pseudoscience.

[Feb 15, 2019] FOIA Docs Reveal Obama FBI Covered Up Chart Of Potential Hillary Clinton Crimes

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Neither these talking points nor the chart of potential violations committed by Clinton and her associates have been released. ..."
"... Rybicki writes: By NLT [no later than] next Monday, the Director would like to see a list of all cases charged in the last 20 years where the gravamen of the charge was mishandling classified information. It should be in chart form with: (1) case name, (2) a short summary for content (3) charges brought, and (4) charge of conviction. ..."
"... According to a December, 2017 letter from Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-WI) to FBI Director Christopher Wray, fired FBI agent Peter Strzok changed the language regarding Clinton's conduct from the criminal charge of "gross negligence" to "extremely careless." ..."
"... "Gross negligence" is a legal term of art in criminal law often associated with recklessness. According to Black's Law Dictionary, gross negligence is " A severe degree of negligence taken as reckless disregard ," and " Blatant indifference to one's legal duty, other's safety, or their rights ." "Extremely careless," on the other hand, is not a legal term of art. ..."
"... 18 U.S. Code § 793 "Gathering, transmitting or losing defense information" specifically uses the phrase "gross negligence." Had Comey used the phrase, he would have essentially declared that Hillary had broken the law. ..."
"... And now, thanks to the Judicial Watch FOIA, we know that the FBI also went to great lengths to justify letting Clinton off the hook with a "chart" of her offenses. ..."
Feb 15, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

FOIA Docs Reveal Obama FBI Covered Up "Chart" Of Potential Hillary Clinton Crimes

by Tyler Durden Fri, 02/15/2019 - 17:30 1.7K SHARES

The top brass of the Obama FBI went to great lengths to justify their decision not to recommend charges against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for mishandling classified information, according to Judicial Watch , which obtained evidence that the agency created a 'chart' of Clinton's offenses.

The newly obtained emails came in response to a court ordered Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request that the DOJ had previously ignored.

Via Judicial Watch (emphasis ours):

[Redacted] writes : I am still working on an additional page for these TPs that consist of a chart of the statutory violations considered during the investigation , and the reasons for the recommendation not to prosecute, hopefully in non-lawyer friendly terms

Strzok forwards to Page, Jonathan Moffa and others : I have redlined some points. Broadly, I have some concerns about asking some our [sic] senior field folks to get into the business of briefing this case, particularly when we have the D's [Comey's] statement as a kind of stand alone document. In my opinion, there's too much nuance, detail, and potential for missteps. But I get they may likely be asked for comment.

[Redacted] writes to Strzok, Page and others : The DD [Andrew McCabe] will need to approve these before they are pushed out to anyone. At the end of last week, he wasn't inclined to send them to anyone. But, it's great to have them on the shelf in case they're needed.

[Redacted] writes to Strzok and Page : I'm really not sure why they continued working on these [talking points]. In the morning, I'll make sure Andy [McCabe] tells Mike [Kortan] to keep these in his pocket. I guess Andy just didn't ever have a moment to turn these off with Mike like he said he would.

Page replies : Yes, agree that this is not a good idea.

Neither these talking points nor the chart of potential violations committed by Clinton and her associates have been released.

Rybicki writes: By NLT [no later than] next Monday, the Director would like to see a list of all cases charged in the last 20 years where the gravamen of the charge was mishandling classified information. It should be in chart form with: (1) case name, (2) a short summary for content (3) charges brought, and (4) charge of conviction.

If need be, we can get it from NSD [National Security Division] and let them know that the Director asked for this personally.

Please let me know who can take the lead on this.

Thanks!

Jim

Page forwards to Strzok : FYSA [For your situational awareness]

Strzok replies to Page : I'll take the lead, of course – sounds like an espionage section question Or do you think OGC [Office of the General Counsel] should?

And the more reason for us to get feedback to Rybicki, as we all identified this as an issue/question over a week ago.

Page replies : I was going to reply to Jim [Rybicki] and tell him I can talked [sic] to you about this already. Do you want me to?

***

Recall that the FBI agents involved made extensive edits to former FBI Diretor James Comey's statement exonerating Hillary Clinton - changing the language to effectively downgrade the crime of mishandling classified information so that they could recommend no charges.

According to a December, 2017 letter from Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-WI) to FBI Director Christopher Wray, fired FBI agent Peter Strzok changed the language regarding Clinton's conduct from the criminal charge of "gross negligence" to "extremely careless."

"Gross negligence" is a legal term of art in criminal law often associated with recklessness. According to Black's Law Dictionary, gross negligence is " A severe degree of negligence taken as reckless disregard ," and " Blatant indifference to one's legal duty, other's safety, or their rights ." "Extremely careless," on the other hand, is not a legal term of art.

According to an Attorney briefed on the matter, "extremely careless" is in fact a defense to "gross negligence": "What my client did was 'careless', maybe even 'extremely careless,' but it was not 'gross negligence' your honor." The FBI would have no option but to recommend prosecution if the phrase "gross negligence" had been left in.

18 U.S. Code § 793 "Gathering, transmitting or losing defense information" specifically uses the phrase "gross negligence." Had Comey used the phrase, he would have essentially declared that Hillary had broken the law.

And now, thanks to the Judicial Watch FOIA, we know that the FBI also went to great lengths to justify letting Clinton off the hook with a "chart" of her offenses.


Son of Captain Nemo , 3 minutes ago link

Well...

When you are both confirmed war criminals your Secretary of State and POTUS with a body count of the skeletons in each of your respective closet(s) spending money you don't have ( https://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2017/msu-scholars-find-21-trillion-in-unauthorized-government-spending-defense-department-to-conduct/ ) with your Treasury and AG Eric Holder covering it up and never being approved by your Congress or OMB for at least 4 coups and occupation(s) that we know about...

Why would anyone be at all surprised by what was already in the immortal words of Don "9/11" Rumsfeld "known" "knowns"?!!!

Rinse and Repeat for the current POTUS carrying the torch of full CRIMINALITY in occupying places we no longer can afford or sustain!

tymwltl , 4 minutes ago link

The real problem here is that once faith in government is destroyed by the very agencies we would hope to be honest to the end, the end of that government is at hand and all Hell is about to break loose. Hold on tight to your Constitution and all the Amendments for tyranny is at our doorsteps.

Fantasy Free Economics , 34 minutes ago link

The government is a tool.

http://quillian.net/blog/organized-crime-owns-your-government/

JailBanksters , 43 minutes ago link

One big Muther Fracker circle jerk

And not a Russian in sight, but plenty of Zionists though

novictim , 1 hour ago link

The FBI and DOJ, the NSA and CIA are infiltrated and infested with Anti-American anti-patriots who think that their job is to protect a ideological faction supporting globalism and neoliberalism.

These are the rotting fruits of 60 years of Socialist/Communist/Cultural Marxist indoctrination at the level of public education and University level academia.

We have to face this now. The problem is massively bigger than McCabe or Comey or Brennan or their low-level flunkies.

tavistock 2.0 , 1 hour ago link

Coup De'etat.

[Feb 15, 2019] Losing a job in your 50s is especially tough. Here are 3 steps to take when layoffs happen by Peter Dunn

Unemployment usually is just six month or so; this is the time when you can plan you "downsizing". You do not need to rush.
Often losing job logically requires selling your home and moving to a modest apartment, especially if no children are living with you. At 50 it is abut time... You need to do it later anyway, so why not now.
But that's a very tough decision to make... Still, if the current housing market is close to the top, this is one of the best moves you can make. Getting from your house several hundred thousand dollars allows you to create kind of private pension to compensate for losses in income till you hit your Social Security check, which currently means 66.
$300K investment in A quality bonds that returns 3% per year are enough to provides you with $24K per year "pension" from 50 to age of 66. That allows you to pay for the apartment and amenities. The food is extra...
This way you can take lower paid job and survive.
And in this case you 401k remains intact and can supplement your SS income later on. Simple Excel spreadsheet can provide you with a complete picture of what you can afford and what not. Actually ability to walk of fresh air for 3 or more hours each day worth a lot of money ;-)
Notable quotes:
"... Losing a job in your 50s is a devastating moment, especially if the job is connected to a long career ripe with upward mobility. As a frequent observer of this phenomenon, it's as scary and troublesome as unchecked credit card debt or an expensive chronic health condition. This is one of the many reasons why I believe our 50s can be the most challenging decade of our lives. ..."
"... The first thing you should do is identify the exact day your job income stops arriving ..."
"... Next, and by next I mean five minutes later, explore your eligibility for unemployment benefits, and then file for them if you're able. ..."
"... Grab your bank statement, a marker, and a calculator. As much as you want to pretend its business as usual, you shouldn't. Identify expenses that don't make sense if you don't have a job. Circle them. Add them up. Resolve to eliminate them for the time being, and possibly permanently. While this won't necessarily lengthen your fuse, it could lessen the severity of a potential boom. ..."
Feb 15, 2019 | finance.yahoo.com

... ... ...

Losing a job in your 50s is a devastating moment, especially if the job is connected to a long career ripe with upward mobility. As a frequent observer of this phenomenon, it's as scary and troublesome as unchecked credit card debt or an expensive chronic health condition. This is one of the many reasons why I believe our 50s can be the most challenging decade of our lives.

Assuming you can clear the mental challenges, the financial and administrative obstacles can leave you feeling like a Rube Goldberg machine.

Income, health insurance, life insurance, disability insurance, bills, expenses, short-term savings and retirement savings are all immediately important in the face of a job loss. Never mind your Parent PLUS loans, financially-dependent aging parents, and boomerang children (adult kids who live at home), which might all be lurking as well.

When does your income stop?

From the shocking moment a person learns their job is no longer their job, the word "triage" must flash in bright lights like an obnoxiously large sign in Times Square. This is more challenging than you might think. Like a pickpocket bumping into you right before he grabs your wallet, the distraction is the problem that takes your focus away from the real problem.

This is hard to do because of the emotion that arrives with the dirty deed. The mind immediately begins to race to sources of money and relief. And unfortunately that relief is often found in the wrong place.

The first thing you should do is identify the exact day your job income stops arriving . That's how much time you have to defuse the bomb. Your fuse may come in the form of a severance package, or work you've performed but have't been paid for yet.

When do benefits kick in?

Next, and by next I mean five minutes later, explore your eligibility for unemployment benefits, and then file for them if you're able. However, in some states severance pay affects your immediate eligibility for unemployment benefits. In other words, you can't file for unemployment until your severance payments go away.

Assuming you can't just retire at this moment, which you likely can't, you must secure fresh employment income quickly. But quickly is relative to the length of your fuse. I've witnessed way too many people miscalculate the length and importance of their fuse. If you're able to get back to work quickly, the initial job loss plus severance ends up enhancing your financial life. If you take too much time, by your choice or that of the cosmos, boom.

The next move is much more hands-on, and must also be performed the day you find yourself without a job.

What nonessentials do I cut?

Grab your bank statement, a marker, and a calculator. As much as you want to pretend its business as usual, you shouldn't. Identify expenses that don't make sense if you don't have a job. Circle them. Add them up. Resolve to eliminate them for the time being, and possibly permanently. While this won't necessarily lengthen your fuse, it could lessen the severity of a potential boom.

The idea of diving into your spending habits on the day you lose your job is no fun. But when else will you have such a powerful reason to do so? You won't. It's better than dipping into your assets to fund your current lifestyle. And that's where we'll pick it up the next time.

We've covered day one. In my next column we will tackle day two and beyond.

Peter Dunn is an author, speaker and radio host, and he has a free podcast: "Million Dollar Plan." Have a question for Pete the Planner? Email him at AskPete@petetheplanner.com. The views and opinions expressed in this column are the author's and do not necessarily reflect those of USA TODAY.

[Feb 15, 2019] Laredo Petroleum recent year-end results and operations summary contained disclosures that may affect north American shale production more broadly, or perhaps they are company specific

Feb 15, 2019 | peakoilbarrel.com

dclonghorn x Ignored says: 02/14/2019 at 3:14 pm

I do not follow Laredo Petroleum closely, however their recent year-end results and operations summary contained disclosures that may affect north American shale production more broadly, or perhaps they are company specific, I don't know.

Laredo is a nice sized E&P producing around 70,000 boepd in the permian, mostly in Glasscock and Regan counties. Much of their production is horizontal Wolfcamp.

Laredo has been disappointed with its oil production recently, as well as an increasing GOR.

"Laredo has taken action to address the reduced oil productivity experienced in 2018 that we believe was impacted by the tighter spacing of some wells drilled in 2017 and 2018. Responding to these results, the Company began widening spacing on wells spud in the first quarter of 2019. Laredo expects this shift in development strategy to drive higher returns and increased capital efficiency versus 2018 as widening spacing is anticipated to address one of the causes of higher oil decline rates."

They have changed their developmental strategy to widen spacing to improve recovery and mitigate the increasing GOR. They have also reduced their capex by around 35 % from $575 million in 2018 to a planned $365 million in 2019.

"Responding to the current commodity price environment of WTI strip pricing of approximately $54 per barrel, Laredo expects to invest approximately $365 million in 2019, excluding non-budgeted acquisitions. This budget includes approximately $300 million for drilling and completion activities and approximately $65 million for
production facilities, land and other capitalized costs. Laredo anticipates adjusting capital spending levels to match operating cash flow if operating cash flow does not meet budgeted expectations. Should operating cash flow exceed budget expectations, free cash flow could be used to complete additional wells, repurchase stock or pay
down debt.

By the third quarter of 2019, enabled by the Company's operational flexibility, Laredo anticipates reducing activity from the current three horizontal rigs and two completion crews to operating one horizontal rig and utilizing a single completion crew, as needed. The front-loaded completion schedule and disciplined reduction in activity should drive free cash flow generation in the second half of 2019 that is expected to balance capital expenditures with cash flow from operations for full-year 2019."

Of course this is just one producers take on productivity concerns. Link below.

http://www.laredopetro.com/media/223310/21319-laredo-petroleum-announces-2018-fourth-quarter-and-full-year-financial-and-operating-results.pdf

Mario C Vachon x Ignored says: 02/14/2019 at 6:17 pm
Interesting. They are more a gas company than an oil company with only 23000 of the 70000 BOEs being oil. Interestingly, they are forecasting oil production to decline 5% year over year while BOEs rises high single digits, showing how gas to oil keeps rising.

As such a tiny oil producer (23000 barrels) its pretty meaningless in the grand scheme, but very interesting nonetheless. Thanks for sharing.

[Feb 15, 2019] Saudi Aramco halted oil output this week at Safaniyah, the world's largest offshore oilfield

Notable quotes:
"... The unplanned shutdown takes out another 1 million barrels a day of heavy oil from the market, Alex Schindelar, executive editor of content & strategy at Energy Intelligence Group tweeted Thursday, adding that the heavy crude oil market was already tight because of the OPEC output cuts and U.S. sanctions on both Iran and Venezuela. ..."
Feb 15, 2019 | peakoilbarrel.com

Greenbub x Ignored says: 02/14/2019 at 6:06 pm

Saudi Aramco halts oil output at the world's largest offshore oilfield: report

Saudi Aramco halted oil output this week at Safaniyah, the world's largest offshore oilfield, Energy Intelligence reported Thursday, citing sources familiar with the matter, according to a tweet from Amena Bakr, senior correspondent at the news and research service provider. Further information was only available through subscription-based Energy Intelligence.

The potential impact on oil prices depends on how long output at the oilfield is down, said Phil Flynn, senior market analyst at Price Futures Group.

"The thinking is that the field produces heavy crude, and the world is short of that [type of] oil."

The unplanned shutdown takes out another 1 million barrels a day of heavy oil from the market, Alex Schindelar, executive editor of content & strategy at Energy Intelligence Group tweeted Thursday, adding that the heavy crude oil market was already tight because of the OPEC output cuts and U.S. sanctions on both Iran and Venezuela.

In electronic trading, March WTI oil CLH9, +1.06% was at $54.51 a barrel, after settling at $54.41 on the New York mercantile Exchange.

~Marketwatch

[Feb 15, 2019] True KSA reserves are very likely somewhere in the neighborhood of 70 billion barrels.

Feb 15, 2019 | peakoilbarrel.com

Ron Patterson x Ignored says: 02/14/2019 at 4:37 pm

I had to google the link, but it was not hard to find.

How Much Oil Does Saudi Arabia Really Have?

Okay, you will have to read the article to see how Robert arrived at his conclusion. But his conclusion is:

So, I have no good reason to doubt Saudi Arabia's official numbers. They probably do have 270 billion barrels of proved oil reserves.

I find his logic horribly flawed. Robert compares Saudi's growing reserve estimates with those of the USA.

First, the US Securities and Exchange Commission have the strictest oil reporting laws in the world, or did have in 1982. Also, better technology has greatly improved reserve estimates. And third, the advent of shale oil has dramatically added to US reserve estimates.

Saudi has no laws that govern their reserve reporting estimates.

From Wikipedia, US Oil Reserves: Proven oil reserves in the United States were 36.4 billion barrels (5.79×109 m3) of crude oil as of the end of 2014, excluding the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. The 2014 reserves represent the largest US proven reserves since 1972, and a 90% increase in proved reserves since 2008.

Robert says US reserves are 50 billion barrels. I don't know where he gets that number but it really doesn't matter. Oil production, along with reserve estimates, are growing in the US for one reason and one reason only, the advent of shale oil. Reserve estimates before 2008 were based on conventional oil. Onshore conventional oil production in the USA is in steep decline.

Robert Rapier is brillant oil man, but a brilliant downstream oil man. Refineries are his forte. He should know better than the shit he produced in that article.

100 percent of Saudi Arabia's reserves are based on conventional oil. Their true reserves are very likely somewhere in the neighborhood of 70 billion barrels.

[Feb 15, 2019] Opec spare capacity and the difference between "prime oil" and "subprime oil."

Notable quotes:
"... If you take a look at PXD announcements, I reach the conclusion that Permian is slowing ..."
Feb 15, 2019 | peakoilbarrel.com

Hugo

x Ignored says: 02/14/2019 at 2:35 am
OPEC spare capacity is now around 2 million barrels per day.

OPEC has cut production by 1.5 million barrels per day in the last 2 months.

Besides that Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have ended their dispute over the neutral zone, which will add another 500,000 of spare capacity.

https://oilprice.com/Energy/Crude-Oil/Saudi-Arabia-Kuwait-Discuss-New-Oil-Production-In-Neutral-Zone.html

IN the longer term Saudi Arabia will add another 1mmbd to it's capacity over the next few years.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-oil-opec-falih-investment/saudi-arabia-to-invest-20-billion-in-spare-oil-production-capacity-idUSKCN1ME111

likbez says: 02/14/2019 at 4:51 pm
As Ron Patterson explained several times here, OPEC members cheat. They cut from the elevated, unsustainable level, achieved specifically to accommodate cuts.

So "after cut" level is often not that different from a reasonable "normal," sustainable production level in their current production conditions, plus some, related to previously delayed maintenance, shutdowns.

Four years of capital underinvestment bite production both in OPEC and non-OPEC. So talking about excess capacity is somewhat problematic and we now need to distinguish between "prime oil" and "subprime oil."

Most people who talk about "excess capacity" are interested in lower oil price (the list includes US and EU governments ) That's why condensate and other "subprime oil" is counted in total oil output. Supply of "prime oil" now is stressed.

In other words, everything connected with oil is now politically charged. That means that it is not wise to take IEA data and their forecasts at face value. It should be viewed as an opinion of the agencies deeply (institutionally) interested in the low oil price.

You need the ability to read between the lines, much like readers of the press in the USSR. And as several experts here do. You need the acute ability to cut through "official bullsh*t".

And neutral expert opinion is very difficult to come by. That's why this blog has so much value.

Watcher x Ignored says: 02/14/2019 at 3:44 am
Heads up. Some scroll upwards there is a quoted article from oilprice.com.

The writer is Nawar Alsaadi. I suspect we fell victim of presumption. He has an Arabic sounding name, and that leads us to suspect he knows something about oil.

Look into this guy. There's nothing ugly or horrible about his background, but there is nothing in it that shouts out expert. He is a writer. Including publishing fiction.

He's also "with" some investment firm. Turns out he's president and CEO of the firm and conveniently an employee count is not easily found.

Ned x Ignored says: 02/14/2019 at 3:58 am
I'm curious – does anybody know, by the data trends, which OPEC country is likely to run so low on oil that they become a net importer, next? I do understand this event may take some time to occur.
Krishnan Viswnathan x Ignored says: 02/14/2019 at 11:17 am
If you take a look at PXD announcements, I reach the conclusion that Permian is slowing. Like Dennis Coyne, I look at growth after fourth quarter 2018. Oil production in fourth quarter is 199.2 Kilo barrels/day. The guidance for 2019 is between 203 to 213 Kilo barrels/day. PXD is spending 300 MM dollars for gas processing and water treatment infrastructure.

[Feb 15, 2019] Mankind probably has another trillion barrels at best to consume in the future in addition to the 1.3 trillion already consumed.

Which means around 30 years at the current consumption rate
Feb 15, 2019 | peakoilbarrel.com

Ron Patterson x Ignored says: 02/14/2019 at 5 :39 pm

Food for thought

I just did a little math using OPEC's estimate of OPEC and Non-OPEC World proven oil Reserves.

OPEC says they have 1214.21 billion barrels of proven reserves. And they say non-OPEC has 268.56 billion barrels of proven reserves. Average OPEC C+C production, over the last four years, has been 12.78 billion barrels per year according to the EIA. The EIA says the average non-OPEC C+C production over the last four years has been 16.8 billion barrels per year.

Okay, here is the killer. If those numbers are correct then the average non-OPEC nation has an R/P ratio of 16 while the average OPEC nation has an R/P ratio of 95. If you think those R/P ratio numbers are even remotely correct then I have a bridge I would like to sell you.

Ravi x Ignored says: 02/14/2019 at 11:05 pm
Ron,

I agree that the R/P numbers seem very suspicious. But if this is true then OPEC reserves are closer to 400-500 billion barrels not 1.2 trillion barrels. That would give us another trillion barrels at best to consume in the future in addition to the 1.3 trillion already consumed. This brings the URR to 2.2-2.5 trillion barrels at best including extra heavy. What do you think of the URR of 3.1 trillion barrels that is commonly assumed? Also canadian tar sands and venezuelan heavy oil have very low EROI which brings down the extractable oil reserves further. Do you think that is taken into account?

[Feb 14, 2019] It looks like hybrid cars are very competitive with the EV

Feb 13, 2019 | peakoilbarrel.com

likbez , 02/13/2019 at 10:20 pm

For motor vehicle type uses the efficiency is just terrible compared to electric and I doubt much improvement is likely there

I am not so sure. It looks like hybrid cars are very competitive with the EV. The efficiency of Tesla and similar EV is grossly overrated. You have losses in the transmission line, losses in the charger, losses in the battery. Plus if the mechanical transmission is used, you have losses in transmission during driving (substantial).

The ~56kwh Roadster battery takes ~70kwh to charge. (approx) So ~20% of the electricity you pay for is lost to heat. How much is the charger and cabling, and how much the batteries, I have no idea.

Here is a very simple calculation. Tesla with the air conditioner on auto 73F and external temperature 60F (minimal use of the air conditioner) consumes around 300 watts/mile. Double this for temperatures below freezing point or temperatures above 90F.

The cost per mile at 15 cents per Kwh and 20% loss is 5.4 cent.

Hybrid SUV like RAV4 hybrid (which is a much better and safer car, especially in winter) with an average of 35 miles per gallon and the price of gas at $2.5 per gallon has cost 7.1 cents per mile.

That means that Tesla provides just 24% economy, which is completely eaten by the higher cost of Tesla (say, $44K vs. $29K ).

Assuming mileage 200K at the end of the life of each car, this $15K difference adds 7.5 cents per mile.

Which means that at those price levels Tesla is competitive only if electricity is free.

JJHMAN , 02/13/2019 at 3:57 pm
I'm not really sure of the significance of that. Using fossil fuel products as combustible fuel limits the efficiency at which one can obtain useful work from the fuel. That efficiency number is really only useful when comparing one source to another and the ffs pretty much will operate in the 40%=/- range for most stationary applications. For motor vehicle type uses the efficiency is just terrible compared to electric and I doubt much improvement is likely there. That rejected energy is just a fixture of the way energy is extracted through combustion so I doubt it has any meaning except for how much you are overheating a river near a coal or NG power plant.
Michael B , 02/13/2019 at 4:05 pm
"Using fossil fuel products as combustible fuel limits the efficiency at which one can obtain useful work from the fuel."

Yes, that's what I mean. We've wasted that endowment on trips to the package store. That's profound.

likbez , 02/13/2019 at 10:20 pm

For motor vehicle type uses the efficiency is just terrible compared to electric and I doubt much improvement is likely there

I am not so sure. It looks like hybrid cars are very competitive with the EV.

The efficiency of Tesla and similar EV is grossly overrated. You have losses in the transmission line, losses in the charger, losses in the battery. Plus if the mechanical transmission is used (for example 10:1 fixed gearbox like in Tesla), you have losses in transmission and motor during driving (say 10%). So total efficiency of electricity usage would be around 70%, which is high, by not that high. Atkinson-cycle ICE engines used in hybrids have ~40% efficiency.

The ~56kwh Roadster battery takes ~70kwh to charge. (approx) So ~20% of the electricity you pay for is lost to heat. How much is the charger and cabling, and how much the batteries, I have no idea.

Here is a very simple calculation. Tesla with the air conditioner on auto 73F and external temperature 60F (minimal use of the air conditioner) consumes around 300 watts/mile. Double this for temperatures below freezing point or temperatures above 90F.

The cost per mile at 15 cents per Kwh and 20% loss is 5.4 cent.

Hybrid SUV like RAV4 hybrid (which is a much better and safer car, especially in winter) with an average of 35 miles per gallon and the price of gas at $2.5 per gallon has cost 7.1 cents per mile.

That means that Tesla provides just 24% economy, which is completely eaten by the higher cost of Tesla (say $44K vs. $29K ).

Assuming mileage 200K at the end of the life of each car, this $15K difference adds 7.5 cents per mile.

Which means that at those price levels Tesla is competitive only if electricity is free.

Hugo, 02/14/2019 at 7:42 am
likbez

Your calculations are probably correct, but there are other considerations. For instance, UK oil production peaked in 1999 at around 3 million barrels per day, it has now fallen to 1 million. At $50 oil, it costs us $25 million per day to import the oil we consume over our production. Our wealth is draining away in a trade deficit that has increased with declining oil and gas production.

If we install enough wind turbines.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/nov/30/windy-weather-carries-britain-to-renewable-energy-record

We can power electric cars, trains and trams and reduce our energy insecurity. Also global warming is a major concern also

Dennis Coyne, 02/14/2019 at 10:25 am
Likbez,

The Tesla Model 3 is perfectly safe in winter, and is a far nicer car than a RAV4 hybrid. The appropriate comparison would be to Volvo XC60: https://www.edmunds.com/volvo/xc60/2018/hybrid/

Let's compare apples to apples: https://www.edmunds.com/bmw/3-series/2018/hybrid/

likbez, 02/14/2019 at 1:38 pm
Dennis,

The Tesla Model 3 is perfectly safe in winter, and is a far nicer car than a RAV4 hybrid. The appropriate comparison would be to Volvo XC60

I know people enjoy opening Telsa 3 "suicide handles" at -5F . The joke is that "Now you know what Elon's flamethrower is for." ;-)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=–pD42h0VK4

What about road clearances? What about the ability to lock differential when driving on steep ice-covered incline ?

There are also "known unknown" related to lithium battery use (Panasonic cells) at low and very low temperatures. As no Tesla 3 is 8 years old yet, it difficult to say whether the battery can last till the end of the warranty period in continental climate weather conditions (very cold in winter, very hot in summer).

Looks like if you cool a lithium battery below zero F and try to drive before it warmed to 70F the longevity of battery decreases. Higher temperatures also have negative effect ( https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4526891/ )

As the operating temperature of LiB changes from 25 to 55 °C, the degradation rate of maximum charge storage after 260 cycles is found to increase from 4.22% to 13.24%. At the component level, for the same change in the operating temperature, the degradation rate of the Warburg element resistance after 260 cycles increases from 49.40% and 584.07% (Fig. 10) which is the highest change; and that for the cell impedance ranks second, increasing from 33.64% to 93.29% (Fig. 8). As for the charge transfer rate, the change in its degradation rate decreases from 68.64% to 56.19% (Fig. 7).

There is also another proven negative factor at winter temperuture for cars with lithium batteries -- the dramatic loss of range. https://www.cnbc.com/2019/02/06/aaa-confirms-what-tesla-bmw-nissan-ev-owners-suspected-of-cold-weather.html

Simply turning on the electric vehicles AAA studied in 20 degree weather revealed a 12 percent loss in range. On a vehicle like the Chevy Bolt, with an EPA rating of 238 miles per charge, that would drop range to 209 miles.

Brannon said using climate control revealed an even bigger surprise: Range dipped by an average 41 percent -- which would bring an EV like the Bolt down to just 140 miles per charge.

See also

https://www.hybridcars.com/tesla-model-s-could-lose-up-to-40-percent-range-in-cold-weather/

For the Chevrolet Volt, engineers combat cold-weather energy draining by engaging ERDTT – Engine Running Due To Temperature. This runs the Volt's supplementary gasoline engine to ensure enough power is available to run the defroster. But the all-electric Tesla doesn't have this option.

At low temperatures lithium battery can't be charged so if in normal conditions Tesla recaptures energy for the battery during regenerative braking (regen) this is not the case anymore. That further decreases range.

Even with other sources stating that cold weather lowers the Model S range by only a quarter, Rob said drivers should anticipate on using an average of 40-percent more power. When the roads are icy or wet, increase this by another 25-percent.

"Expect to lose about 10 miles of real range for every 10 degree drop," said Rob. "Plan your charging and driving accordingly – don't cut it close."

If you run out of energy at -5F, the car needs to be tolled.

If you try to keep battery warm your battery will be drained during parking, unless you are connected to the charger.

At low temperatures (especially with front wind) and during initial warm up of the cabin the heater consumes around 5KWH further draining the battery.

At 90F loss of range is less then in winter -- about 20%, but at 100F it is similar and the effect of battery longevity are also similar and negative.

So in areas with continental climate EVs make much less sense then say in California.

Dennis Coyne, 02/14/2019 at 2:20 pm
Likbez,

As I have suggested, works fine in winter. As long as one doesn't ride in the car naked during the winter, losses from using the heater are not that great. So far the lowest temperatures the car has seen parked overnight outside have been about minus 15 F for a low with an average of about minus 10 F, battery lost about 250 Wh each hour on average. Battery capacity is about 78,000 Wh. Average temperature where I live is about 19 F in Jan. In Jan I drove about 1500 miles and averaged about 300 Wh per mile vs 245 Wh/mile in October (1600 miles). That is my experience in average winter weather where temperature averaged 19 F in Jan 2019. Range decreased by about 22%. My experience is that range also decreases in a hybrid during winter( I have been driving Toyota hybrids since 2004).

Have driven plenty in snow and ice with the Model 3 this winter, take it to a ski area almost every weekend, the more snow the better ;-)

likbez: 02/14/2019 at 8:01 pm

Dennis

Judging from people experiences there are some undeniable problem with driving Tesla 3 in winter.

The construction of door handles in Tesla3 is a problematic for winter. Frameless windows also represent a problem.

Some pretty educational videos:

1. People are running of energy with Tesla 3 parked at airport for a week or so at cold weather. You need to leave at least 15 km per day in battery in cold weather, or you are in trouble. 30 if weather is very cold. Looks like Tesla 3 tries to heat battery all the time to avoid damage from low temperatures.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0mfs9amXhs8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zPTmTDWrbes

2. To drive Tesla 3 in cold weather you need to "preheat" the car until battery reaches "working temperature" range:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D2gmphV8IZQ

3. ~52 miles commute to work in cold weather is all that can be made safely. In video below only 43 miles left at the end (the car was not connected to the charger during the working day):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uvybhb8P894

4. A very short round trip with a preheated car, which was parked outside) reveals problems some problems with handling.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E2Qjt0obVfI

Ample supply of heat from ICE engine helps steering. Tesla does not have it and it looks like it became very stiff.

It is actually amazing that lithium batteries (which are electrolyte based) work that well at such low temperatures. So in way Tesla experiment opens new frontier for lithium batteries.

[Feb 14, 2019] Pension vs. 401(k) Comparing Retirement Plans

Feb 14, 2019 | finance.yahoo.com

2 hours ago The biggest difference is that employers on average contribute 1/3 to your 401K that they contributed on your behalf for your pension.

[Feb 14, 2019] Fifty Shades Of Shale Oil by Nawar Alsaadi

Feb 14, 2019 | oilprice.com

Analysis

This fallacious narrative of the U.S. tight oil industry overcoming the oil price crash of 2014 through innovation and better efficiency is the product of bundling various tight oil basins under one umbrella and the presentation of the resulting production data as a proof U.S. shale resiliency.

To properly understand the impact of the oil price crash of 2014 on U.S. tight oil production one must focus on shale basins with sufficient operating history prior to the oil price crash and examine their performance post the crash.

To that end, the Bakken and the Eagle Ford are the perfect specimen.

The Bakken and the Eagle Ford are the two oldest tight oil basins in the United States, with the former developed as early as 2007 and the latter in 2010.

Examining the production performance of these two basins in the 4 years preceding the oil crash and contrasting it to the 4 years subsequent to it, offers important insight as to the resiliency of U.S. tight oil production in a low oil price environment.

... ... ...

Both the Bakken and the Eagle Ford grew at a phenomenal rate between 2010 and 2014. The Eagle Ford grew from practically nothing in 2010 to 1.3M barrels by 2014, while the Bakken grew five fold from 190K barrels to 1.08M barrels. Following the collapse in oil prices in late 2014, the Bakken and Eagle Ford growth continued for another year, albeit at a slower pace, as the pre-crash momentum carried production to new highs. However, by 2016, both the Bakken and the Eagle Ford went into a decline and have hardly recovered since. It took the Bakken three years to match its 2015 production level, meanwhile the Eagle Ford production remains 22% below its 2015 peak. During the pre-crash years these two fields grew by a combined yearly average of 600K to 700K barrels from 2012 to 2014. Post the oil price collapse, this torrid growth turned into a sizable decline by 2016 before stabilizing in 2017.

Growth in both fields only resumed in 2018 at a combined yearly rate of 210K barrels, a 70% reduction from the combined fields pre-crash growth rate.

The dismal performance of these two fields over the last few years paints a different picture as to U.S. tight oil resiliency in a low oil price environment. The sizable declines, and muted production growth in both the Bakken and the Eagle Ford since 2014 discredit the leap in technology and the efficiency gains narrative that has been espoused as the underlying reason beyond the strong growth in U.S. oil production. As we expand our look into other tight oil basins, it becomes apparent that it was neither technology or efficiency that saved the U.S. tight oil industry, although these factors may have played a supporting role. In simple terms, the key reason as to the strength of U.S. production since the 2014 oil crash is better rock, or rather, the commercial exploitation of a higher quality shale resource, namely the Permian oil field.

... ... ...

The Permian oil field, unlike the Bakken and the Eagle Ford, was a relative latecomer to the U.S. tight oil story. It was only in 2013, only a year before the oil crash, that the industry commenced full scale development of that giant field's shale resources. Prior to 2013, the Permian lagged both the Bakken and the Eagle Ford in total tight oil production and growth. As can be seen from the preceding graph, the oil crash had only a minor dampening effect on the Permian oil production growth. By 2017, Permian tight oil growth resumed at a healthy clip, and by 2018, Permian tight oil production growth shattered a new record with production skyrocketing by 860K barrels in a single year to 2.76M barrels. This timely unlocking and exploitation of the Permian oil basin masked to a large degree the devastation endured by the Bakken and the Eagle Ford post 2014. In essence, the U.S. tight oil story has two phases masquerading as one: the pre-2014 period marked by the birth and rise of the Bakken and Eagle Ford, and the post-2014 period, marked by the rise of the Permian.

To speak of the U.S. tight oil industry as one is to mistake a long-distance relay race for the accomplishment of a single runner.

The performance divergence between the Bakken, Eagle Ford, and the Permian has major implications as to the likelihood of U.S. tight oil production suppressing oil price over the medium and long term. A close examination of U.S. tight oil production data leads to a single indisputable conclusion: without the advent of the Permian, the U.S. tight oil industry would have lost the OPEC lead price war. Hence, it's a misnomer to treat the U.S. tight oil industry as a monolith, in many ways, the Bakken and the Eagle Ford tight oil fields are as much a victim of the Permian success as the OPEC nations themselves.

... ... ...

Considering that the majority of U.S. tight oil production growth is generated by a single field, the Permian, changes in the growth outlook of this basin have major implications as to the evolution of global oil prices over the short, medium and long term. Its important to keep in mind that the Permian oil field, despite its large scope, is bound to flatten, peak and decline at some point. While forecasters differ as to the exact year when the Permian oil production will flatten, the majority agree that a slowdown in Permian oil production growth will take place in the early 2020s.

According to OPEC (2018 World Oil Outlook), the Permian basin oil production curve is likely to flatten by 2020, with growth slowing down from 860K barrels in 2018 to a mere 230K barrels by 2020:

[Feb 14, 2019] Emerging 'Quality' Problem To Haunt Oil Markets

Feb 14, 2019 | oilprice.com

...OPEC+ production cuts could erase the supply surplus in the near future. Saudi Arabia has promised to cut more than required, lowering output in January by 350,000 bpd while also promising another 500,000 bpd cut by March.

"[C]ore-OPEC producers are adopting a 'shock and awe' strategy and exceeding their cut commitment," Goldman Sachs said in a note, predicting that Brent oil prices will average $67.50 per barrel in the second quarter.

[Feb 14, 2019] Too much condensate, too little heavy oil problem to haunt oil markets

Feb 14, 2019 | oilprice.com

To accommodate steadily rising barrels of light oil, OPEC and its non-OPEC partners have backed out their own supplies in order to prevent a crash in prices. But many OPEC members produce medium and heavier blends.

The quantity of global supply may not be vastly different, but the quality of the crude slate has changed dramatically. Refiners cannot easily swap out one type for another. The upshot is that the world is seeing a glut of light oil at a time when supply of medium and heavier barrels are relatively tight.

... ... ...

U.S. sanctions against Venezuela and Iran are magnifying this trend, knocking even more medium and heavier barrels off of the market.

... ... ...

The IEA said that these quality differences could cause some problems this year. "In quantity terms, in 2019 the US alone will grow its crude oil production by more than Venezuela's current output," the agency wrote in its Oil Market Report published Wednesday. "In quality terms, it is more complicated. Quality matters."

[Feb 13, 2019] MoA - Russiagate Is Finished

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... You can take this to the bank. Hardcore Russiagaters will never give up their belief in collusion and Russian influence in the 2016 campaign -- never. Congress and Mueller will be accused of engaging in a coverup. ..."
"... Thus, even if the Mueller report is underwhelming, I think that the Democrats and TDS-saturated Trump opponents will attempt to rehabilitate it by pretending that it contains important loose ends that need to be pursued. In other words, to perpetuate the Mueller-driven political Russophobia by all other available means. ..."
"... Russiagate has exposed the great degree of corruption within the Justice Department bureaucracy, particularly within FBI, and within the entire Democrat Party. ..."
"... Since this is obviously not going to be allowed to happen, and since these people get away with everything, expect this to never end, despite all evidence to the contrary. It doesn't matter if they've been exposed as CIA propagandists or Integrity Initiative stooges, the game goes on...and on.... the job security of these disgraced columnists is the greatest in the Western world. ..."
"... Stephen Cohen discusses how rational viewpoints are banned from the mainstream media, and how several features of US life today resemble some of the worst features of the Soviet system. https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/02/12/stephen-cohen-on-war-with-russia-and-soviet-style-censorship-in-the-us/ ..."
"... The US needs an enemy, how else can they ask NATO members to cough up 2% of GDP [just for one example Germany's GDP is nearly 4 Trillion dollars [2017] for defence spending, what a crazy sum all NATO members must fork out to please the US, but then most of that money must be spent on the US MIC 'interoperability' of course. ..."
"... Another great damage of Russiagate was the instigating of a nuclear arms race directed primarily at Russia, and ideologically justified by its diabolical policies. ..."
"... Russiagate was very successful. You just have to understand the objectives. It was a great distraction. Diverting peoples attention from the continued fleecing of the "real people" which are the bottom 90% by the "Corporate People" and their Government Lackeys. ..."
"... It provided an excuse for the acting CEO (a figurehead) of the Corporate Empire to go back on many of the promises made that got him elected, and to fill the swamp with Neocon and Koch Brother creatures with the excuse the Deep State made him do it. More proof that there is no deception that is too ridiculous to be believed so long as you have enough pundits claiming it to be so ..."
"... If you've done just a cursory look into Seth Rich, you'd be very suspicious about the story of his life and death. IMO Assange/Wikilleaks were set up. And Flynn was set up too. What they are doing is Orwellian: White Helmets, election manipulation, propaganda, McCarthism, etc. If you're not angry, you're not paying attention. ..."
"... See also this primer on Mueller's MO. ..."
"... The button pushers behind the Trump collusion and Russia election hacking false narratives got what they wanted: to walk the democrats and republicans straight into Cold War v2; to start their campaign to suppress alternative voices on the internet; to increase military spending; and more, more, more war. ..."
"... Russiagate was very successful <=pls read, re-read Pft @ 46.. he listed many things. divide and conquer accomplished. a nation state is defined as an armed rule making structure, designed by those who control a territory, and constructed by the lawyers, military, and wealthy and run by the persons the designers appoint, for the appointed are called politicians. ..."
"... At the beginnng of Russiagate, I wrote on Robert Parry's Consirtium News that Russiagate is Idiocracy piggy-backing on decades and literally billions of dollars of anti-Soviet and anti-Russian propaganda. How hard would it be to brainwash an already brainwashed population? ..."
"... The purveyors of Russiagate will re-compose themselves, brush off all reports and continue on. One just cannot get away from one's nature, even when that nature is pure idiocy. ..."
"... Russiagate will not go away unfortunately because it has evolved in the "Russiagate Industry". As mentioned by others, the Russiagate Industry has been very profitable for many industries and people. Russiagate has generated an entire cottage industry of companies around censorship and "find us a Russian". Dow Jones should have an index on the Russiagate Industry. ..."
Feb 12, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

For more than two years U.S. politicians, the media and some bloggers hyped a conspiracy theory. They claimed that Russia had somehow colluded with the Trump campaign to get him elected.

An obviously fake 'Dirty Dossier' about Trump, commissioned by the Clinton campaign, was presented as evidence. Regular business contacts between Trump flunkies and people in Ukraine or Russia were claimed to be proof for nefarious deals. A Russian click-bait company was accused of manipulating the U.S. electorate by posting puppy pictures and crazy memes on social media. Huge investigations were launched. Every rumor or irrelevant detail coming from them was declared to be - finally - the evidence that would put Trump into the slammer. Every month the walls were closing in on Trump.

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/qjUvfZj-Fm0

At the same time the very real Trump actions that hurt Russia were ignored.

Finally the conspiracy theory has run out of steam. Russiagate is finished :

After two years and 200 interviews, the Senate Intelligence Committee is approaching the end of its investigation into the 2016 election, having uncovered no direct evidence of a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia, according to both Democrats and Republicans on the committee.
...
Democrats and other Trump opponents have long believed that special counsel Robert Mueller and Congressional investigators would unearth new and more explosive evidence of Trump campaign coordination with Russians. Mueller may yet do so, although Justice Department and Congressional sources say they believe that he, too, is close to wrapping up his investigation.

Nothing, zero, nada was found to support the conspiracy theory. The Trump campaign did not collude with Russia. A few flunkies were indicted for unrelated tax issues and for lying to the investigators about some minor details. But nothing at all supports the dramatic claims of collusion made since the beginning of the affair.

In a recent statement House leader Nancy Pelosi was reduced to accuse Trump campaign officials of doing their job:

"The indictment of Roger Stone makes clear that there was a deliberate, coordinated attempt by top Trump campaign officials to influence the 2016 election and subvert the will of the American people. ...

No one called her out for spouting such nonsense.

Russiagate created a lot of damage.

The alleged Russian influence campaign that never happened was used to install censorship on social media. It was used to undermine the election of progressive Democrats. The weapon salesmen used it to push for more NATO aggression against Russia. Maria Butina, an innocent Russian woman interested in good relation with the United States, was held in solitary confinement (recommended) until she signed a paper which claims that she was involved in a conspiracy.

In a just world the people who for more then two years hyped the conspiracy theory and caused so much damage would be pushed out of their public positions. Unfortunately that is not going to happen. They will jump onto the next conspiracy train continue from there.

Posted by b on February 12, 2019 at 01:38 PM | Permalink

Comments next page " Legally, Maria Butina was suborned into signing a false declaration. If there were the rule of law, such party or parties that suborned her would be in gaol. Considering Mueller's involvement with Lockerbie, I am not holding my breath. FWIW the Swiss company that made the timers allegedly involved in Lockerbie have some comments of its own .


james , Feb 12, 2019 2:00:14 PM | link

thanks b..

I will be really glad when this 'get Russia' craziness is over, but I suspect even if the Mueller investigation has nothing, all the same creeps will be pulling out the stops to generate something... Skripal, Integrity Initiative, and etc. etc. stuff like this just doesn't go away overnight or with the end of this 'investigation'... folks are looking for red meat i tell ya!

as for Maria Butina - i look forward to reading the article.. that was a travesty of justice but the machine moves on, mowing down anyone in it's way... she was on the receiving end of all the paranoia that i have come to associate with the western msm at this point...

Zanon , Feb 12, 2019 2:03:26 PM | link
Considering Mueller hasn't produced its report nor the House dito, its way to early to say Russia gate is "finished".
Jackrabbit , Feb 12, 2019 2:11:44 PM | link
And Russiagate was used ...
... by Hillary to justify her loss to Trump

Hillary's loss is actually best explained as her throwing the election to Trump . The Deep State wanted a nationalist to win as that would best help meet the challenge from Russia and China - a challenge that they had been slow to recognize.

=
... to smear Wikileaks as a Russian agent

The DNC leak is best explained as a CIA false flag.

=
... to remove and smear Michael Flynn

Trump said that he fired Flynn for lying to VP Pence but Flynn's conversations with the Russian Ambassador after Obama threw them out for "meddling" in the US election was an embarrassment to the Administration as Putin's Putin's decision not to respond was portrayed as favoritism toward the Trump Administration.

Rob , Feb 12, 2019 2:28:50 PM | link
You can take this to the bank. Hardcore Russiagaters will never give up their belief in collusion and Russian influence in the 2016 campaign -- never. Congress and Mueller will be accused of engaging in a coverup. This is typical behavior for conspiracy theorists.
bj , Feb 12, 2019 2:30:41 PM | link
Jimmy Dore on same: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kgBxfHdb4OU Enjoy!
Ort , Feb 12, 2019 2:34:14 PM | link
I hope that Russiagate is indeed "finished", but I think it needs to be draped with garlic-clove necklaces, shot up with silver bullets, sprinkled with holy water, and a wooden stake driven through its black heart just to make sure.

I don't dispute the logical argument B. presents, but it may be too dispassionately rational. I know that the Russiagate proponents and enthralled supporters of the concept are too invested psychologically in this surrealistic fantasy to let go, even if the official outcome reluctantly admits that there's no "there" there.

The Democratic Party, one of the major partners mounting the Russophobic psy-op, has already resolved to turn Democratic committee chairmen loose to dog the Trump administration with hearings aggressively flogging any and all matters that discredit and undermine Trump-- his business connections, social liaisons, etc.

They may hope to find the Holy Grail: the elusive "bombshell" that "demands" impeachment, i.e., some crime or illicit conduct so heinous that the public will stand for another farcical impeachment proceeding. But I reckon that the Dems prefer the "soft" impeachment of harassing Trump with hostile hearings in hopes of destroying his 2020 electability with the death of a thousand innuendoes and guilt-by-association.

Thus, even if the Mueller report is underwhelming, I think that the Democrats and TDS-saturated Trump opponents will attempt to rehabilitate it by pretending that it contains important loose ends that need to be pursued. In other words, to perpetuate the Mueller-driven political Russophobia by all other available means.

Put more succinctly, I fear that Russiagate won't be finished until Rachel Maddow says it's finished. ;)

worldblee , Feb 12, 2019 2:38:17 PM | link
Once a hypothesis is fixed in people's minds, whether true or not, it's hard to get them to let go of it. And let's not forget how many times the narrative changed (and this is true in the Skripal case as well), with all past facts vanishing to accommodate a new narrative.

So I, like others, expect the fake scandal to continue while many, many other real crimes (the US attempted coup in Venezuela and the genocidal war in Yemen, for instance) continue unabated.

karlof1 , Feb 12, 2019 2:43:34 PM | link
Putin solicits public input for essential national policy goals . If ever there was a template to follow for an actual MAGAgenda, Putin's Russia provides one. While US politicos argue over what is essentially Bantha Pudu, Russians are hard at work improving their nation which includes restructuring their economy.

Russiagate has exposed the great degree of corruption within the Justice Department bureaucracy, particularly within FBI, and within the entire Democrat Party.

BlunderOn , Feb 12, 2019 2:48:51 PM | link
mmm...

I very much doubt it it is over. Trump is corrupt and has links to corrupt Russians. Collusion, maybe not, but several stinking individuals are in the frame for, guess what - ...bring it on... The fact that Hilary was arguably even worse (a point made ad-nauseum on here) is frankly irrelevant. The vilification of Trump will not affect the warmongers efforts. He is a useful idiot

james , Feb 12, 2019 2:52:33 PM | link
for a take on the alternative reality some are living in emptywheel has an article up on the nbc link b provides and the article on butina is discussed in the comments section... as i said - they are looking for red meat and will not be happy until they get some... they are completely zonkers...
Blooming Barricade , Feb 12, 2019 2:55:18 PM | link
Now that this racket has been admitted as such, I expect all of the media outlets that devoted banner headlines, hundreds of thousands of hours of cable TV time, thousands of trees, and free speech online to immediately fire all of their journalists and appoint Glenn Greenwald as the publisher of the New York Times, Michael Tracey at the Post, Aaron Matte at the Guardian, and Max Blumenthal at the Daily Beast.

Since this is obviously not going to be allowed to happen, and since these people get away with everything, expect this to never end, despite all evidence to the contrary. It doesn't matter if they've been exposed as CIA propagandists or Integrity Initiative stooges, the game goes on...and on.... the job security of these disgraced columnists is the greatest in the Western world.

jayc , Feb 12, 2019 3:03:51 PM | link
Stephen Cohen discusses how rational viewpoints are banned from the mainstream media, and how several features of US life today resemble some of the worst features of the Soviet system. https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/02/12/stephen-cohen-on-war-with-russia-and-soviet-style-censorship-in-the-us/
Heath , Feb 12, 2019 3:18:29 PM | link
It turned out getting rid of the Clintons has been a long term project.
Harry Law , Feb 12, 2019 3:21:58 PM | link
The US needs an enemy, how else can they ask NATO members to cough up 2% of GDP [just for one example Germany's GDP is nearly 4 Trillion dollars [2017] for defence spending, what a crazy sum all NATO members must fork out to please the US, but then most of that money must be spent on the US MIC 'interoperability' of course.

Then of course Russia has to be surrounded by NATO should they try and take over Europe by surging through the Fulda gap./s

Then of course there are the professional pundits who have built careers on anti Russian propaganda, Rachel Maddow for instance who earns 30,000$ per day to spew anti Russian nonsense.

folktruther , Feb 12, 2019 3:27:32 PM | link
Another great damage of Russiagate was the instigating of a nuclear arms race directed primarily at Russia, and ideologically justified by its diabolical policies.

I'm sorry b is so down on Conspiracy Theories, since they reveal quite real staged homicidal false flag operations of US power. Feeding into the stigmatizing of the truth about reality is not in the interests of the earth's people.

frances , Feb 12, 2019 3:31:11 PM | link
somehow I see this "revelation: tied to Barr's approaching tenure. I think they (FBI/DOJ) didn't want his involvement in their noodle soup of an investigation and the best way to accomplish that was to end it themselves. I also suspect that a deal has been made with Trump, possibly in exchange for leaving his family alone.

So we will see no investigation of Hillary, her 650,000 emails or the many crimes they detailed (according to NYPD investigation of Weiner's laptop) and the US will continue to be at war all day, every day. Team Swamp rules.

Ash , Feb 12, 2019 3:35:06 PM | link
Meanwhile, MSM is prepping its readers for the possibility that the Mueller report will never be released to us proles. If that's the case, I'm sure nobody will try to use innuendo to suggest it actually contains explosive revelations after all...
Heath , Feb 12, 2019 3:38:37 PM | link
@16

Harry, its vitally important as the US desperately wants to keep Europe under its thumb and to stop this European army which means Europe lead by Paris and Berlin becomes a world power. Trump's attempts to make nice with Russia is to keep it out of the EU bloc.

Anne Jaclard , Feb 12, 2019 3:54:47 PM | link
Well, the liberal conspiracy car crash ensured downmarket Mussolini a second term, it appears...Hard Brexit Tories also look likely to win thanks to centrist sabatoge of the left. You reap what you sow, corporate presstitutes!
wagelaborer , Feb 12, 2019 4:05:25 PM | link
Sane people have predicted the end of Russiagate almost as many times as insane people have predicted that the "smoking gun that will get rid of Trump" has been found. And yet the Mighty Wurlitzer grinds on, while social media is more and more censored.

I expect it all to continue until the 2020 election circus winds up into full-throated mode, and no one talks about anything but the next puppet to be appointed. Oops, I mean "elected".

Jen , Feb 12, 2019 4:15:57 PM | link
Ort @ 7:

You also need to behead the corpse, stuff the mouth with a lemon and then place the head down in the coffin with the body in supine (facing up) position. Weight the coffin with stones and wild roses and toss it into a fast-flowing river.

Russiagate won't be finished until a wall is built around Capitol Hill and all its inhabitants and worker bees declared insane by a properly functioning court of law.

Jackrabbit , Feb 12, 2019 4:16:59 PM | link
frances @18:
I also suspect that a deal has been made with Trump, possibly in exchange for leaving his family alone. So we will see no investigation of Hillary ...
Underlying your perspective is the assumption that USA is a democracy where a populist "outsider" could be elected President, Yet you also believe that Hillary and the Deep State have the power to manipulate government and the intelligence agencies and propose a "conspiracy theory" based on that power.

Isn't it more likely that Trump made it clear (behind closed doors, of course) that he was amenable to the goals of the Deep State and that the bogus investigation was merely done to: 1) cover their own election meddling; 2) eliminate threats like Flynn and Assange/Wikileaks; 3) anti-Russian propaganda?

Jackrabbit , Feb 12, 2019 4:33:16 PM | link
Jen

Steven Cohen once lamented that there were no "wise men" left in foreign policy. All the independent realists were shut out.

Michael McNulty , Feb 12, 2019 4:49:32 PM | link
US anti-Russian hysteria is moving into that grey area beyond McCarthyism approaching Nazism.
Circe , Feb 12, 2019 4:58:40 PM | link
Dowd, Trump's former lawyer on Russiagate stated there may not even be a report. If this is the case then the Zionist rulers have gotten to Mueller who no doubt figured out that the election collusion breadcrumbs don't lead to Putin, they lead to Netanyahu and Zionist billionaire friends! So Mueller may have to come up with a nothing burger to hide the truth.
Danny , Feb 12, 2019 5:02:34 PM | link
B is the only alternative media blogger I've followed for a significant amount of time without becoming disenfranchised. Not because he has no blind spot - his is just one I can deal with... optimism.

hopehely , Feb 12, 2019 5:14:49 PM | link

I will believe Russiagate is finished when expelled Russian staff gets back, when the US returns the seized Russian properties, when the consulate is Seattle reopens and when USA issues formal apology to Russia.

Posted by: hopehely | Feb 12, 2019 5:14:49 PM | link

bevin , Feb 12, 2019 5:16:18 PM | link
Nobody has ever advanced the tiniest shred of credible evidence that 'Russia' or its government at any level was in any way implicated either in Wikileaks' acquisition of the DNC and Podesta emails or in any form of interference with the Presidential election.

This has been going on for three years and not once has anything like evidence surfaced.

On the other hand there has been an abundance of evidence that those alleging Russian involvement consistently refused to listen to explore the facts.

Incredibly, the DNC computers were never examined by the FBI or any other agency resembling an official police agency. Instead the notorious Crowdstrike professionally russophobic and caught red handed faking data for the Ukrainians against Russia were commissioned to produce a 'report.'

Nobody with any sense would have credited anything about Russiagate after that happened.

Thgen there was the proof, from VIPS and Bill Binney (?) that the computers were not hacked at all but that the information was taken by thumbdrive. A theory which not only Wikileaks but several witnesses have offered to prove.

Not one of them has been contacted by the FBI, Mueller or anyone else "investigating."

In reality the charges from the first were ludicrous on their face. There is, as b has proved and every new day's news attests, not the slightest reason why anyone in the Russian government should have preferred Trump over Clinton. And that is saying something because they are pretty well indistinguishable. And neither has the morals or brains of an adolescent groundhog.

Russiagate is over, alright, The Nothingburger is empty. But that means nothing in this 'civilisation': it will be recorded in the history books, still to be written, by historians still in diapers, that "The 2016 Presidential election, which ended in the controversial defeat of Hillary Clinton, was heavily influenced by Russian agents who hacked ..etc etc"

What will not be remembered is that every single email released was authentic. And that within those troves of correspondence there was enough evidence of criminality by Clinton and her campaign to fill a prison camp.

Another thing that will not be recalled is that there was once a young enthusiastic man, working for the DNC, who was mugged one evening after work and killed.

Baron , Feb 12, 2019 5:16:49 PM | link
The 'no collusion' result will only spur the 'beginning of the end' baboons to shout even more, they'll never stop until they die in their beds or the plebs of the Republic made them adore the street lamp posts, you'll see. The former is by far more likely, the unwashed of American have never had a penchant for foreign affairs except for the few spasms like Vietnam.
Circe , Feb 12, 2019 5:20:11 PM | link
There was collusion alright but the only Russians who helped Trump get elected and were in on the collusion are citizens of ISRAEL FIRST, likewise for the American billionaires who put Trump in the power perch. ISRAEL FIRST.

That's why Trump is on giant billboards in Israel shaking hands with the Yahoo. Trump is higher in the polls in Israel than in the U.S. If it weren't that the Zionist upper crust need Trump doing their dirty work in America, like trying today get rid of Rep. Omar Ilhan, then Trump would win the elections in Ziolandia or Ziostan by a landslide cause he's been better for the Joowish state than all preceding Presidents put together. Mazel tov to them bullshet for the rest of us servile mass in the vassal West and Palestinians the most shafted class ever. Down with Venezuela and Iran, up with oil and gas. The billionare shysters' and Trump's payola is getting closer. Onward AZ Empire!

Les , Feb 12, 2019 5:24:36 PM | link
He proved himself so easy to troll during the election. It wouldn't surprise me if aim of the domestic intelligence agencies all along was to get him elected and have a candidate they could manipulate.
Zachary Smith , Feb 12, 2019 5:38:03 PM | link
@ Harry Law #16

At least Germany has the good sense not to throw taxpayer money at the F-35. German F-35 decision sacrifices NATO capability for Franco-German industrial cooperation I don't know what they have in mind with a proposed airplane purchase. If they need fighters, buy or lease Sweden's Gripen. If attack airplanes are what they're after, go to Boeing and get some brand new F-15X models. If the prickly French are agreeable to build a 6th generation aircraft, that would be worth a try.

Regarding Rachel Maddow, I recently had an encounter with a relative who told me 1) I visited too many oddball sites and 2) he considered Rachel M. to be the most reliable news person in existence. I think we're talking "true believer" here. :)

Zachary Smith , Feb 12, 2019 5:43:19 PM | link
@ Les @42
It wouldn't surprise me if aim of the domestic intelligence agencies all along was to get him elected and have a candidate they could manipulate.

Considering how those "intelligence agencies" are hard pressed to find their own tails, even if you allow them to use both hands, it would surprise me.

That Trump would turn out to be a tub of jello in more than just a physical way has been a surprise to an awful lot of us.

Pft , Feb 12, 2019 5:44:54 PM | link

Russiagate was very successful. You just have to understand the objectives. It was a great distraction. Diverting peoples attention from the continued fleecing of the "real people" which are the bottom 90% by the "Corporate People" and their Government Lackeys.

It provided an excuse for the acting CEO (a figurehead) of the Corporate Empire to go back on many of the promises made that got him elected, and to fill the swamp with Neocon and Koch Brother creatures with the excuse the Deep State made him do it. More proof that there is no deception that is too ridiculous to be believed so long as you have enough pundits claiming it to be so

Allowed the bipartisan support for the clamp down on alt media with censorship by social media (Deep State Tools) and funded by the Ministry of Truth set up by Obama in his last days in office to under the false pretense of protecting us from foreign governments interference in elections (except Israel of course) . Similar agencies have been set up or planned to be in other countries followig the US example such as UK, France, Russia, etc.

Did anyone really expect Mr "Cover It Up " Mueller to find anything? Mueller is Deep State all the way and Trump is as well, not withstanding the "Fake Wrestling " drama that they are bitter enemies. All the surveillance done over the past 2-3 decades would have so much dirt on the Trumpet they could silence him forever . Trump knew that going in and I sometimes wonder if he was pressured to run as a condition to avoid prosecution. Pretty sure every President since Carter has been "Kompromat"

Jackrabbit , Feb 12, 2019 6:29:51 PM | link
james, bevin

If you've done just a cursory look into Seth Rich, you'd be very suspicious about the story of his life and death. IMO Assange/Wikilleaks were set up. And Flynn was set up too. What they are doing is Orwellian: White Helmets, election manipulation, propaganda, McCarthism, etc. If you're not angry, you're not paying attention.

stevelaudig , Feb 12, 2019 6:34:12 PM | link
Russians and likely at the behest of the Russian state interfered and it was fair payback for Yeltsin's election. It is time to move on but not in feigned ignorance of what was done. Was it "outcome" affecting, possibly, but not clearly and if the US electoral college and electoral system generally is so decrepit that a second level power in the world can influence then its the US's fault.

It's not like the 2000 election wasn't a warning shot about the rottenness of system and a system that doesn't understand a warning shot deserves pretty much what it gets. But there's enough non-hype evidence of acts and intent to say yes, the Russians tried and may have succeeded. They certainly are acting guilty enough. but still close the book move and move on to Trump's 'real' crimes which were done without a Russian assist.

spudski , Feb 12, 2019 6:52:50 PM | link
@38 bevin @47 james

I seem to recall former UK Ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray saying that it was not a hack and that he had been handed a thumb drive in a field near American University by a disgruntled Democrat whistleblower. Further, I seem to recall William Binney, former NSA Technical Leader for intelligence, conducting an experiment to show that internet speeds at the time would not allow the information to be hacked - they knew the size of the files and the period over which they were downloaded. Plus, Seth Rich. So why does anyone even believe it was a hack, @32 THN?

Johan Meyer , Feb 12, 2019 6:55:54 PM | link
Just another comment re Mueller. There is a great documentary by (Dutch, not Israeli---different person) Gideon Levy, Lockerbie Revisited. The narration is in Dutch, but the interviews are in English, and there is a small segment of a German broadcast. The documentary ends abruptly where one set of FBI personnel contradict statements by another set of FBI personnel. See also this primer on Mueller's MO.
frances , Feb 12, 2019 7:11:07 PM | link
reply to Les 42
"It wouldn't surprise me if aim of the domestic intelligence agencies all along was to get him elected and have a candidate they could manipulate."

Not the intelligence agencies, the Military IMO. They knew HC for what she was; horrifically corrupt and,again IMO,they know she is insane.

They saw and I think still see Trump as someone they could work with, remember Rogers (Navy) of the NSA going to him immediately once he was elected? That was the Military protecting him as best they could.

They IMO have kept him alive and as long as he doesn't send any troops into "real" wars, they will keep on keeping him alive.
This doesn't mean Trump hasn't gone over to the Dark Side, just that no military action will take place that the military command doesn't fully support.

Again, I could be wrong, he could be backed by fiends from Patagonia for all I really know:)

AriusArmenian , Feb 12, 2019 8:44:27 PM | link
The button pushers behind the Trump collusion and Russia election hacking false narratives got what they wanted: to walk the democrats and republicans straight into Cold War v2; to start their campaign to suppress alternative voices on the internet; to increase military spending; and more, more, more war.
james , Feb 12, 2019 9:34:59 PM | link
ot - further to @65 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kK5YFos56ZU and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kK5YFos56ZU

as jr says - welcome to the rabbit hole..

ben , Feb 12, 2019 10:11:05 PM | link
Hope you're right b. Maybe now we can get on with some real truths.
  1. That there is really only one party with real influence, the party of $.
  2. That most of the Dems belong to that club, and virtually all the Repubs.
  3. That the U$A is not a real democracy, but an Oligarchy.
  4. That the corporate empire is the greatest purveyor of evil the world has ever known.

And these are just a few truths. Thanks for the therapy b, hope you feel better...

Circe , Feb 12, 2019 10:52:22 PM | link
Boy, I hope Jackrabbit sees this. Everyone knows I believe Trump is the anointed chosen of the Zionist 1%. There was no Russia collusion; it was Zionist collusion with a Russian twist...
Circe , Feb 12, 2019 11:11:17 PM | link
Oh yeah! Forgot to mention the latest. Trump is asking Kim to provide a list of his nuclear scientists! Before Kim acts on this request, he should call up the Iranian government for advise 'cause they have lots of experience and can warn Kim of what will happen to each of those scientists. They'll be put on a kill-list and will be extrajudicially wacked as in executed. Can you believe the chutzpah? Trump must think Kim is really stupid to fall for that one!

Aye! The thought of six more years of Zionist pandering Trump. Barf-inducing prospect is too tame.

PHC , Feb 13, 2019 2:25:44 AM | link

Russiagate is finished. So, now is the time to create Chinagate. But how ??

V , Feb 13, 2019 2:25:48 AM | link
The view from the hermitage is, we are in the age of distractions. Russiagate will be replaced with one of a litany of distractions, purely designed to keep us off target. The target being, corruption, vote rigging, illegal wars, war crimes, overthrowing sovereign governments, and political assasinations, both at home and abroad. Those so distracted, will focus on sillyness; not the genuine danger afoot around the planet. Get used to it; it's become the new normal.
Circe , Feb 13, 2019 3:53:19 AM | link
@76Hw
I have yet to read anything more delusional, nay, utterly preposterous. Methinks you over-project too much. Even Trump would have a belly-ache laugh reading that sheeple spiel. You're the type that sees the giant billboard of Zionist Trump and Yahoo shaking hands and drones on and on that our lying eyes deceive us and it's really Trump playing 4-D chess. I suppose when he tried to pressure Omar Ilhan into resigning her seat in Congress yesterday, that too was reverse psychology?

Trump instagramed the billboard pic, he tweeted it, he probably pasted it on his wall; maybe with your kind of wacky, Trump infatuation, you should too!

Starring role

Circe , Feb 13, 2019 4:15:37 AM | link
Russiagate is finished because Mueller discovered an embarrassing fact: The collusion was and always will be with Israel. Here's Trump professing his endless love for Zionism: Trump Resign
snake , Feb 13, 2019 5:13:14 AM | link

Russiagate was very successful <=pls read, re-read Pft @ 46.. he listed many things. divide and conquer accomplished.
a nation state is defined as an armed rule making structure, designed by those who control a territory, and constructed by the lawyers, military, and wealthy and run by the persons the designers appoint, for the appointed are called politicians.

Most designs of armed nation states provide the designers with information feedback and the designers use that information to appoint more obedient politicians and generals to run things, and to improve the design to better serve the designers. The armed rule making structure is designed to give the designers complete control over those targeted to be the governed. Why so stupid the governed? ; always they allow themselves to be manipulated like sheep.

When 10 angry folks approach you with two pieces of ropes: one to throw over the tree branch under which your horse will be supporting you while they tie the noose around your neck and the other shorter piece of rope to tie your hands behind ..your back you need at that point to make your words count , if five of the people are black and five are white. all you need do is say how smart the blacks are, and how stupid the whites are, as the two groups fight each other you manage your escape. democrat vs republican= divide to conquer. gun, no gun = divide to conquer, HRC vs DJT = divide to conquer, abortion, no abortion = divide to conquer, Trump is a Russian planted in a high level USA position of power = divide to conquer, They were all in on it together,, Muller was in the white house to keep the media supplied with XXX, to keep the law enforcement agencies in the loop, and to advise trump so things would not get out of hand ( its called Manipulation and the adherents to the economic system called Zionism
For the record, Zionism is not related to race, religion or intelligence. Zionism is a system of economics that take's no captives, its adherents must own everything, must destroy and decimate all actual or imaginary competition, for Zionist are the owners and masters of everything? Zionism is about power, absolute power, monopoly ownership and using governments everywhere to abuse the governed. Zionism has many adherents, whites, blacks, browns, Christians, Jews, Islamist, Indians, you name it among each class of person and walk of life can be found persons who subscribe to the idea that they, and only they, should own everything, and when those of us, that are content to be the governed let them, before the kill and murder us, they usually end up owning everything.

snake , Feb 13, 2019 6:08:16 AM | link
Here might the subject matter that Russia Gate sought to camouflage https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/02/13/588433/US-Saudi-Arabia-nuclear-deal-nuclear-weapons 'This comes as US Energy Secretary Rick Perry has been holding secret talks with Saudi officials on sharing US nuclear technology.'

Finally, a hypothesis to explain

1. why the Joint non nuclear agreement with Iran and the other nuclear power nations, that prevented Iran from developing nuclear weapons, was trashed? Someone needs to be able to say Iran is developing ..., at the right time.

2. Why Netanyohu made public a video that claimed Iran was developing nuclear stuff in violation of the Iran non nuclear agreement, and everybody laughed,

3. Why the nuclear non proliferation agreement with Russia, that terminated the costly useless arms race a decade ago, has been recently terminated, to reestablish the nuclear arms race, no apparent reason was given the implication might be Russia could be a target, but

4. why it might make sense to give nukes to Saudi Arabia or some other rogue nation, and

5. why no one is allowed to have nuclear weapons except the Zionist owned and controlled nation states.

Statement: Zionism is an economic system that requires the elimination of all competition of whatever kind. It is a winner get's all, takes no prisoners, targets all who would threaten or be a challenge or a threat; does not matter if the threat is in in oil and gas, technology or weapons as soon as a possibility exist, the principles of Zionism would require that it be taken out, decimated, and destroyed and made where never again it could even remotely be a threat to the Empire, that Zionism demands..

Hypothesis: A claim that another is developing nuclear weapon capabilities is sufficient to take that other out?

Kiza , Feb 13, 2019 8:26:29 AM | link
I am glad that most commenters understand that Russiagate will not go away. But the majority appear to miss the real reason. Russiagate is not an accusation, it is the state of mind.

At the beginnng of Russiagate, I wrote on Robert Parry's Consirtium News that Russiagate is Idiocracy piggy-backing on decades and literally billions of dollars of anti-Soviet and anti-Russian propaganda. How hard would it be to brainwash an already brainwashed population?

The purveyors of Russiagate will re-compose themselves, brush off all reports and continue on. One just cannot get away from one's nature, even when that nature is pure idiocy. Of course, the most ironic in the affair is that it is the so called US "intellectuals", academics and other assorted cretins who are the most fervent proponents. If you were wondering how Russia can make such amazing defensive weapons that US can only deny exist and wet dream of having, there is your answer. It is the state of mind. The whole of US establishment are legends in their on lunch time and totally delusional about the reality surrounding them - both Russiagate and MAGA cretins, no report can help the Russiagate nation.

Finally, I am thinking of that crazy and ugly professor bitch from the British Cambridge University who gives her lectures naked to protest something or other. I am so lucky that I do not have to go to a Western university ever again. What a catastrophic decline! No Brexit can help the Skripal nation.

NemesisCalling , Feb 13, 2019 8:46:48 AM | link
Russiagate is finished, but is DJT also among the rubble?

Hardly any money for the border wall and still lingering in the ME?

If Hoarsewhisperer proves to be correct above re: DJT, he will really have to knock our socks off before election 2020. To do this he will have to unequivocally and unceremoniously withdraw from the MENA and Afghanistan and possibly declare a National Emergency for more money for the wall.

The problem is, when he does this, he will look impulsively dangerous and this may harm his mystique to the lemmings who need a president to be more "presidential."

My money is on status quo all the way to 2020 and the rethugz hoping the Dems will eat their own in an orgy of warring identities.

I would love to be proven wrong.

morongobill , Feb 13, 2019 9:52:25 AM | link
Rush Limbaugh has been on a roll with his analysis of Russiagate, in fact, his analysis is in line with the writer/editor here at MOA.
Bart Hansen , Feb 13, 2019 10:52:12 AM | link
The collusion story may be faltering, but the blame for Russia poisoning the Skripals lives on. The other night on The News Hour, "Judy" led off the program with this: "It has been almost a year since Kremlin intelligence officers attempted to kill a Russian defector in the British city of Salisbury by poisoning him with a nerve agent. That attack, and the subsequent death of a British woman, scared away tourists and shoppers, but authorities and residents are working to get the town's economy back on track. Special correspondent Malcolm Brabant reports."
Erelis , Feb 13, 2019 12:15:48 PM | link

Russiagate will not go away unfortunately because it has evolved in the "Russiagate Industry". As mentioned by others, the Russiagate Industry has been very profitable for many industries and people. Russiagate has generated an entire cottage industry of companies around censorship and "find us a Russian". Dow Jones should have an index on the Russiagate Industry.

Here is one recent example. You know the measles outbreak in the US Pacific Northwest. Yup, the Russians. How do we know. A government funded research grant. The study found that 899 tweets caused people to doubt vaccines. Looks like money is to be had even by academics for the right results.

Measles outbreak: Anti-vaccination misinformation fueled by Russian propagandists, study finds
https://www.oregonlive.com/clark-county/2019/02/measles-outbreak-anti-vaccination-misinformation-fueled-by-russian-propagandists-study-finds.html

[Feb 13, 2019] It is hard not to wonder just how neoliberal ideas and values, which uphold the rationality of the market and exclude notions of the common good, came to shape the conduct of individuals and institutions.

From: Books That Challenge the Consensus on Capitalism
Notable quotes:
"... Olivier Blanchard, former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, who recently posed the once-blasphemous question: "What comes after capitalism?" ..."
"... He rightly described a global impasse: "Given the political constraints on redistribution and the constraints from capital mobility, we may just not be able to alleviate inequality and insecurity enough to prevent populism and revolutions." ..."
"... Martin Wolf, respected columnist for the Financial Times, recently concluded, if "reluctantly," that "capitalism is substantially broken." This year, many books with titles such as "The Myth of Capitalism: Monopolies and the Death of Competition" and "Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World" blamed an unjust economic system and its beneficiaries for the rise of demagogues. ..."
"... Reading Mazzucato's book, it is hard not to wonder just how "neoliberal" ideas and values, which uphold the rationality of the market and exclude notions of the common good, came to shape the conduct of individuals and institutions. ..."
"... Neoliberals, he argues, are people who believe that "the market does not and cannot take care of itself," and indeed neoliberalism is a form of regulation -- one that insulates the markets from vagaries of mass democracy and economic nationalism. ..."
Dec 24, 2018 | news.yahoo.com

...A Western consensus quickly formed after the collapse of communist regimes in 1989. It was widely believed by newspaper editorialists as well as politicians and businessmen that there was no alternative to free markets, which alone could create prosperity. The government's traditional attempts to regulate corporations and banks and redistribute wealth through taxes were deemed a problem. As the economist Milton Friedman put it, "The world runs on individuals pursuing their separate interests." Neither individuals nor companies needed to worry much about inequality or social justice. In Friedman's influential view, "There is one and only one social responsibility of business -- to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits."

Political fiascos in the West, following its largest financial crisis -- events accompanied by the emergence of China, a Communist-run nation-state, as a major economic power, as well as an unfolding environmental calamity -- have utterly devastated these post-1989 assumptions about free markets and the role of governments.

Confessions to this effect come routinely from disenchanted believers. Take, for instance, Olivier Blanchard, former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, who recently posed the once-blasphemous question: "What comes after capitalism?"

Blanchard was commenting on the recent demonstrations in France against President Emmanuel Macron. He rightly described a global impasse: "Given the political constraints on redistribution and the constraints from capital mobility, we may just not be able to alleviate inequality and insecurity enough to prevent populism and revolutions."

... ... ...

Thus, Martin Wolf, respected columnist for the Financial Times, recently concluded, if "reluctantly," that "capitalism is substantially broken." This year, many books with titles such as "The Myth of Capitalism: Monopolies and the Death of Competition" and "Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World" blamed an unjust economic system and its beneficiaries for the rise of demagogues.

It is becoming clear that the perennial conflict between democracy, which promises equality, and capitalism, which generates inequality, has been aggravated by a systemic neglect of some fundamental issues.

... ... ...

Her targets range from pharmaceutical companies, which uphold a heartless version of market rationality, to internet companies with monopoly power such as Google and Facebook. Her most compelling example, however, is the workings of the financial sector, and its Friedman-style obsession with "shareholder value maximization," which has infected the corporate sector as a whole.

Reading Mazzucato's book, it is hard not to wonder just how "neoliberal" ideas and values, which uphold the rationality of the market and exclude notions of the common good, came to shape the conduct of individuals and institutions.

In the conventional account of neoliberalism, Friedman looms large, along with his disciple Ronald Reagan, and Britain's Margaret Thatcher. Much has been written about how the IMF's structural adjustment programs in Asia and Africa, and "shock-therapy" for post-Communist states, entrenched orthodoxies about deregulation and privatization.

In these narratives, neoliberalism appears indistinguishable from laissez-faire. In "Globalists: The End of Empire and the Birth of Neoliberalism," Quinn Slobodian briskly overturns this commonplace view. Neoliberals, he argues, are people who believe that "the market does not and cannot take care of itself," and indeed neoliberalism is a form of regulation -- one that insulates the markets from vagaries of mass democracy and economic nationalism.

... ... ...

Pankaj Mishra is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. His books include "Age of Anger: A History of the Present," "From the Ruins of Empire: The Intellectuals Who Remade Asia," and "Temptations of the West: How to Be Modern in India, Pakistan, Tibet and Beyond." For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion

[Feb 13, 2019] Mathiness and game thoery

Any good mathematical theory can be misapplied and perverted if there is social pressure and money to do so..
Feb 13, 2019 | www.alternet.org

Game Theory:

A glossary of exploitive economics 'Lean in' and 8 other bad business buzzwords that should be phased out – Alternet.org

The use of mathematics to model human reality; one of the more bizarre offshoots that followed the mathematization of economic thought in the 20th century.

Game theory focuses on strategies used by competing actors to make rational decisions. What should I do given my opponent may subsequently decide A, B, C, or D? It was pioneered by John von Neumann, John Nash, and Oskar Morgenstern. The assumption that social life is a game of logic between conniving actors is foundational to this view of economics. But do we really behave in such a "me versus you" manner?

Game Theory's rational individualism closely resonates with neoliberal capitalism because it reconceptualizes everyone as mini corporations who are totally selfish.

Individuals compete rather than share; seek to outsmart the next person rather than empathize. Proponents of the approach often use the "as if" defense. The model might not perfectly match reality, but we can approximate how someone behaves in the real world by assuming they act "as if" they're Nashian plotters.

It's the normative assumptions underlying this "as if" that are problematic that at bottom we're all greedy and impatient bankers. One could just as well argue that people act "as if" they're trusting and altruistic socialists, but Game Theory won't have any of that.

[Feb 13, 2019] Condensate can't replace heavy oil

IEA is one-half EU marketing agency with the explisit goal to keep oil price low, and one half a research organization. In different reports one role can be prevalent.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that margins for U.S. Gulf Coast refiners have declined to the lowest levels since late 2014, based on recent price trends in certain grades of crude oil and petroleum products. https://www.eia.gov/petroleum/weekly/
Comment on Yahoo are absolutly idiotic. I have dount only a couple more or less reasonable comment in the first 48. This level of incompetence and brainwashing is simply amazing.
Feb 13, 2019 | news.yahoo.com

The "call" on OPEC crude is now forecast at 30.7 million bpd in 2019, down from the IEA's last estimate of 31.6 million bpd in January.

U.S. sanctions on Iran and Venezuela have choked off supply of the heavier, more sour crude that tends to yield larger volumes of higher-value distillates, as opposed to gasoline. The move has created disruption for some refiners, but has not led to a dramatic increase in the oil price in 2019.

"In terms of crude oil quantity, markets may be able to adjust after initial logistical dislocations (from Venezuela sanctions)", the Paris-based IEA said.

"Stocks in most markets are currently ample and ... there is more spare production capacity available."

Venezuela's production has almost halved in two years to 1.17 million bpd, as an economic crisis decimated its energy industry and U.S. sanctions have now crippled its exports.

Brent crude futures have risen 20 percent in 2019 to around $63 a barrel, but most of that increase took place in early January. The price has largely plateaued since then, in spite of the subsequent imposition of U.S. sanctions.

"Oil prices have not increased alarmingly because the market is still working off the surpluses built up in the second half of 2018," the IEA said.

"In quantity terms, in 2019, the U.S. alone will grow its crude oil production by more than Venezuela's current output. In quality terms, it is more complicated. Quality matters."

dlider909, 7 hours ago Story will change in 30 days.

Robert, 7 hours ago ... ... ...

What this report fails to do is to pay the appropriate homage to American oilfield roughnecks...

ralf

7 hours ago Nonsense. I see military action against Venezuela soon, just because of our thirst for oil.
Talk about shale is like talk about Moon conquests, not supported by hard facts.

[Feb 13, 2019] A Study in Professional Power Why Do the Big 4 Accountants Survive by Richard Murphy

Notable quotes:
"... By Richard Murphy, a chartered accountant and a political economist. He has been described by the Guardian newspaper as an "anti-poverty campaigner and tax expert". He is Professor of Practice in International Political Economy at City University, London and Director of Tax Research UK. He is a non-executive director of Cambridge Econometrics . He is a member of the Progressive Economy Forum. Originally published at Tax Research UK ..."
"... Like much of political economy, this is a story of power. In the first instance this was professional power. The big firms did, as professional institutes developed, have the means to dominate them. They were in the capital cities where those institutes were usually based. They had the means to release partner time to manage those institutes' affairs. They had the motive to do so. That was ring-fencing their profit. The big firms, then, used their power to set the rules for their professions. ..."
"... Have been reading The Billion-Dollar Whale about the 1MDB mega-heist, facilitated by auditors and bank compliance officers at every step as the Malaysian people were fleeced of billions to pay for sickening rounds of parties, yachts, champagne baths, jewelry, gambling, and garish mansions. "Odious debt" if ever there were. ..."
"... Good topic to cover. The accounting firms are right up there with the ratings agencies as 'high priests' of capital whose blessing is required if your are to be welcome into the halls of power. ..."
Feb 12, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

A Study in Professional Power: Why Do the Big 4 Accountants Survive? Posted on February 13, 2019 by Yves Smith Yves here. While many people go into "my eyes glaze over" mode when the topic of accountants comes up, you ignore them at your peril. In the US, boards and executives escape liability if they can say they were acting on the advice of professionals. Lawyers are the main liability shields for corporate bigwigs, but pliant accountants are also very helpful.

And why don't shareholders who've been hurt due to professionals signing off on crooked corporate conduct sue? They can't. As we wrote in ECONNED:

Legislators also need to restore secondary liability. Attentive readers may recall that a Supreme Court decision in 1994 disallowed suits against advisors like accountants and lawyers for aiding and abetting frauds. In other words, a plaintiff could only file a claim against the party that had fleeced him; he could not seek recourse against those who had made the fraud possible, say, accounting firms that prepared misleading financial statements. That 1994 decision flew in the face of sixty years of court decisions, practices in criminal law (the guy who drives the car for a bank robber is an accessory), and common sense. Reinstituting secondary liability would make it more difficult to engage in shoddy practices.

In other words, the only party that can sue an accounting firm for engaging in fraudulent conduct is his immediate client .who almost certainly is in on the con. Lovely.

By Richard Murphy, a chartered accountant and a political economist. He has been described by the Guardian newspaper as an "anti-poverty campaigner and tax expert". He is Professor of Practice in International Political Economy at City University, London and Director of Tax Research UK. He is a non-executive director of Cambridge Econometrics . He is a member of the Progressive Economy Forum. Originally published at Tax Research UK

I was asked very recently why it was that the big 4 firms of accountants survive. This is an issue I have been considering with Len Seabrooke and Saila Stausholm at Copenhagen Business School. The academic paper on the subject is in progress. Let me offer a plain English perspective for now.

Like much of political economy, this is a story of power. In the first instance this was professional power. The big firms did, as professional institutes developed, have the means to dominate them. They were in the capital cities where those institutes were usually based. They had the means to release partner time to manage those institutes' affairs. They had the motive to do so. That was ring-fencing their profit. The big firms, then, used their power to set the rules for their professions.

Leading the way at a technical level as well, in a profession lead from these firms and not by either government or academia, these firms also innovated in ways that ring fenced their market. I suspect that this may have provided the strongest incentive for the creation of consolidated accounts – which were not a universal requirement for group companies until the 1940s. When consolidated accounts required that multinational groups be treated as single entities their auditors, who I strongly suspect sold its benefit to governments who then made it a legal requirement, could in turn demand that they were the sole group auditor. The global spread of a select few firms was guaranteed. The rise of the global firm was the consequence.

These firms succeeded. The firms then sold consultancy advising other companies to copy the success of their global company clients by also becoming global using a structure that guaranteed market growth in auditing for the big accountants. The market for the big audit firms was reinforced.

As this was happening in the 50s and 60s another phenomena was growing, which was the tax haven. Slowly at first, but steadily as the British empire (in particular) receded, the opportunity to hide nefarious activity, as well as profits and so tax bills in such places, grew. Did the big firms go there before their clients? Or did they have to go because some clients had already gone? It's a question to be answered. But if the firms were to maintain their demand that they must be sole auditor, worldwide, at least in name, then if the global entities they were helping spawn moved to tax havens then they too had to go there.

And they did not miss the opportunity. Already used to lobbying and forming opinion on legislation in the countries from which they originated, and well aware of the coercive power this gave them over their clients, the governments of new tax havens must have seemed easy pickings to the big accountants of the day. And so they were. Whole rafts of legislation were influenced by such firms as they peddled in tax havens the secrecy that opposed the transparency they sold elsewhere. The opportunities must have seemed unlimited.

But the timeline has now reached the 70s, and life was not so good for accountants. Airlines failed back then, with people noticing that their accounts gave no hint that they owned or used planes. In contrast, aeroplane engine makers were claiming that they had value when the products they were developing at enormous cost for the time were unlikely to push anything into the sky. Accounts were not providing a true and fair view.

In the face of significant threats to the profession from an outraged public (well, at least those parts losing money as a result of these failings) the big firms reclaimed the initiative. Accounting standards – supposedly written in the public interest and for the benefit of all stakeholders – were created and governments that were too trusting by half gave them the force of law. The power of the big accountants was reinforced, rather than diminished, by the accounting debacles of that era. Now they could write the rules; say they had the power of law; force them onto their clients and the rest of the profession; and in the process pull themselves ahead of the competing pack. They could do that by advising on the very rules they had created; by claiming to be the only people who could audit them; and by making sure that because some only applied to larger enterprises the knowledge of their use did not trickle down into the profession as a whole.

And they exploited this to the full. The era of capital market liberalisation and globalisation simply provided greater opportunity to do this, whilst the new and more relaxed ethics of this period promoted the use of tax havens in ways previously unforeseen, and the firms jumped with both feet into this market as well, producing tax avoidance schemes by the bucket load.

And things only got better. Although the accountants failed miserably to deliver what they promised when accounting standards were first developed, because they entirely ignored the needs of almost all users of accounts, their capture of the process was so complete that when the European Union was looking for a set of single accounting standards they adopted the Big 4 created International Financial Reporting Standards as quasi law, which has now led to their adoption in more than a hundred countries worldwide, with a parallel process taking place in the USA, Japan and other influential markets. The ability of these firms to control the world's view of capitalism appeared complete, and they reaped the rewards.

And then some cracks appeared. There was a global financial crisis, which accounts had not anticipated. And there was a global loss of tax revenue, which accountants appear to have facilitated through tax havens. And rather annoying people pointed out both failings. You would have thought that the fundamental failure of their product, in the form of accounting standards, and the fundamental failure of their ethics, evidenced by their use of tax havens and sale of tax avoidance products, would have done for these firms. Nothing, however, could be further from the truth, hence the question I was asked. How are they surviving?

Let me reiterate how we got here, because the clue is in the process.

The result is that the big four are now integral to company law, auditing law, accounting law, the law of many tax havens, the structure of the accounting profession and the structure of many of its clients. Their desire to protect their ability to make supernormal profit has created a situation where the entire process of law surrounding companies has been captured for their benefit, and the behaviour of whole markets has been distorted in their favour as a result.

But what they did to achieve this result was display an ability to innovate. Whenever under criticism, they delivered an alternative. When their ethics were questioned, they produced a supposed new standard. When the market demand that they change, for example post Enron, that's what they appeared to do, enough to keep people at bay. And all the time, chameleon like, they emerged from each threat with their power reinforced because they are so integral to the process of corporate regulation that government has effectively abandoned to them.

That is how they have survived. But that also suggests how the process is changed. Government has to reclaim this process.

And it has to determine who will write the alternatives. None of that will be easy. But with adequate investment it is entirely possible. These firms have captured significant parts of the processes of capitalism for their own ends. If we are to still have mixed economies, and I think we should, then this process of capture has to be disrupted, in the public interest. It is only by doing so that the power of the Big 4 will be challenged. Nothing else will change it.

That's the issue we face. And since there is no challenge right now the Big 4 will go on. And on. Which is right now just as they want it.

timotheus , February 13, 2019 at 5:30 am

Have been reading The Billion-Dollar Whale about the 1MDB mega-heist, facilitated by auditors and bank compliance officers at every step as the Malaysian people were fleeced of billions to pay for sickening rounds of parties, yachts, champagne baths, jewelry, gambling, and garish mansions. "Odious debt" if ever there were.

Colonel Smithers , February 13, 2019 at 5:53 am

Thank you, Yves.

"In the process they captured the tax havens and their legislatures, and used them for their own purposes." That is certainly the case in Mauritius where the former deputy PM and finance minister, Xavier-Luc Duval, worked for KPMG in London and Port-Louis. In the UK, Patricia Hewitt left the cabinet and Commons to head public policy and affairs for one of the Big Four.

It's not just the legislatures, the former CFO to the royal family, Sir Michael Peat,was senior partner at KPMG. So was his great grandfather, a scion of the Barclay banking family and founder of Peat Marwick. Former KPMG employees hold and have held senior regulatory positions in the UK. KPMG seems to be the go to firm.

Thuto , February 13, 2019 at 8:32 am

Thank You Colonel Smithers.

Meanwhile, down in SA:

1. VBS Mutual Bank looted into curatorship.

2. Cape Town HQD and dual listed in Frankfurt and Joburg, retailer Steinhoff International has shed over 90% of its market value due to an "accounting scandal" (with ordinary pensioners losing billions in the process).

3. The Guptas, through their companies and aided by their man Jacob Zuma as state president, brazenly looted state coffers on a massive scale.

As the enablers-in-chief, KPMG is woven into the common thread running across all these scandals. Not to worry though, they've thrown a few executives under the bus and are currently on a charm offensive reminding the public just how ethical a bunch they all are in spite of providing cover for these nefarious activities and will surely emerge from this with their "power reinforced".

PS: Steinhoff has set up an "ethics hotline" run by who? KPMG, wonders truly never cease

Colonel Smithers , February 13, 2019 at 9:12 am

Thank you, Thuto.

I know Steinhoff well from my time at HSBC in Johannesburg and London, 2003 – 6. It had yet to become the plaything of Wiese.

KPMG is similar woven into UK scandals.

You are right to use the term "enabler in chief". It's the entire professional services industry. Law firms, too. The UK Big Four are now setting up legal, advertising and corporate finance practices.

I was at the Blue Eagle, soon to be ABSA red in the rest of Africa, from 2014 – 6. A friend was fired from the nest after querying why one of the Big Four was hired to manage its client on boarding remediation at a higher cost and on a longer timescale than her team could do. The management wanted the Big Four as a firewall. Ironically, she joined one of the Big Four a few months later. Her settlement, which included a gagging order, precluded her from working for six months.

Thuto , February 13, 2019 at 11:11 am

"It's the entire professional services industry". Amen to that

vlade , February 13, 2019 at 6:11 am

This is a topic that gets raised now and them (more often recently) in the UK – that auditors/accountants should bear responsibility for fraud etc., and should not be just mindless box tickers.

The Rev Kev , February 13, 2019 at 6:45 am

A question for those of us not in the know. With Neoliberalism you can say that it has an intellectual back-office with places like the Chicago school of economics. Is there an intellectual back-office of sorts for accountancy that enable these Big Four to justify their accountancy rules as well? Or do they get to make it up as they go along?

Independent Accountant , February 13, 2019 at 9:02 am

Having the government do audits will make things worse. In the US, the PCAOB is the Big Four's cartel enforcer. The PCAOB should be dissolved and the law changed to facilitate suits against CPAs. Let the plaintiff's bar discipline the CPA profession.
Uncle Sam had the FED create stress tests. Why? To convince the public the FED had things under control and the banking system is sound. Why would government audits be better than the stress tests?
Uncle Sam could break up the Big Four into the not so sweet 16. Will it? Or does the Big Four do exactly what Uncle Sam wants? Are the "problems" we see, feature or bug?

whine country , February 13, 2019 at 9:24 am

Yes, the plaintiffs bar worked very well in my early days as a CPA. Particularly because CPAs, like other professionals, had PERSONAL liability and could not hide behind the corporate wall. This is one of those things that worked very well in real life but someone (if it wasn't economists it was persons of the same ilk) proved it was theoretically impossible. Hence, all professionals are now corporations where before they weren't even allowed to be called a business. From the perspective of a professional accountant with years of watching how the system works we are, ironically, failing because of accountability. We have a smoothly functioning form of capitalism that manifests in "Heads I win, tails you lose". That fundamental principal has been ignored from the late '70s to today at our extreme peril culminating in the GFC where it was taken to the extreme of "Heads I win, tails I win more and you lose more.

johnnygl , February 13, 2019 at 9:13 am

Good topic to cover. The accounting firms are right up there with the ratings agencies as 'high priests' of capital whose blessing is required if your are to be welcome into the halls of power.

whine country , February 13, 2019 at 9:35 am

Yet they're no better than Moody's or Fitch's ratings – bought and paid for. We know that they are, we're just haggling about the price.

whine country , February 13, 2019 at 9:33 am

For anyone interested, NN Taleb writes eloquently about two subjects which are germane: experts and skin in the game, for the same reasons as the author of this piece. The Big Four are so-called experts and they have no skin in the game. This as Taleb, makes us all fools who have been hoodwinked because failure to understand that abuses of these two issues is what has ruined capitalism in our lifetimes. Like the frog put in a pot of water which is slowly heated, I watched this happen over my career. It is our formerly functioning capitalist system that is the frog in the water.

lyman alpha blob , February 13, 2019 at 1:18 pm

Thanks for this. There have always been some accounting practices that were supposedly "Generally Accepted" that made me scratch my head as they didn't seem to lead to any greater transparency, and in fact often quite the opposite.

[Feb 13, 2019] After Collusion Case Collapses, House Dems Set To Launch Vast Russia Probe 2.0

Feb 13, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Barely a day has passed since Richard Burr signaled that the Senate Intelligence Committee's investigation into allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia had turned up nothing substantive - and certainly not a "contract signed in blood" declaring "hey Vlad, we're going to collude".

And already, more details are leaking out about the Democrats' plans to launch a wide ranging investigation that not only will re-litigate the collusion narrative, but will also reportedly focus on allegations of money laundering and other financial improprieties.

Mueller is just the beginning. House Democrats plan a vast probe of President Trump and Russia -- with a heavy focus on money laundering -- that will include multiple committees and dramatic public hearings, and could last into 2020.

Here's more from Axios:

The state of play: The aggressive plans were outlined yesterday by a Democratic member of Congress at a roundtable for Washington reporters. The member said Congress plans interviews with new witnesses, and may go back to earlier witnesses who "stonewalled" under the Republican majority.

Why it matters: The reporters, many of them steeped in the special counsel's investigation, came away realizing that House Dems don't plan to depend on Robert Mueller for the last word on interference in the 2016 election.

Instead, Dems will use their new subpoena power to produce a voluminous exposé of their own.

The investigation will involve multiple committees, and by all accounts be far more critical than the House probe that ended last year.

At least three committees are already involved: The House Intelligence Committee is taking the lead, coordinating with House Financial Services on money-laundering questions and with House Foreign Affairs on Russia.

Democrats are considering ways to uncover what was said in a Trump private meeting with Putin, "whether that's subpoenaing the notes or subpoenaing the interpreter or other steps."

On the issue of Trump family finances, the president said he's "not in a position to draw red lines."

"I am concerned that he may have drawn a red line that the Department of Justice may be observing."

"If we didn't look at his business...we wouldn't know what we know now about his efforts to pursue what may have been the most lucrative deal of his life, the Trump Tower in Moscow - something the special counsel's office has said stood to earn the family hundreds of millions of dollars."

"Now, most of his stuff isn't building anymore: It's licensing , and it doesn't make that kind of money. So, this would have been huge."

"[T]he fact that the president says now: 'Well, it's not illegal and I might have lost the election. Why should I miss out, basically, on all that money?' He may very well take the same position now: 'I might not be re-elected, and so why shouldn't I...still pursue it?'"

Of course, none of this should come as a surprise: Maxine Waters and Adam Schiff (who are two prime candidates for the source of the latest round of leaks) have made no secret of their plans to subpoena Deutsche Bank to learn more about its lending relationship with the president. And as Dems prepare to let the subpoeanas fly, we imagine we'll be learning more in the near future.


alfbell , 52 minutes ago link

Adam Schitt, a real slimy, corrupt politician. Maxine Waters, another financial and political criminal. If you could get them to spill their guts you'd be amazed at all the transgressions they have committed during their careers (they'd go to prison for certain). These two should be shot off into space or something. Shouldn't be allowed to continue harrassing the POTUS.

Lynn Trainor , 1 hour ago link

Since the Mueller probe is ending and no longer serves as a shield from having to answer questions concerning his own corruption, Adam Schiff had to get a new probe going so he'd have an excuse to conveniently remain silent on questions he'd rather not address. Schiff is the very one who should be investigated.

Bokkenrijder , 2 hours ago link

I think the Dems have switched tactics; forget about impeaching Donnie's while he's in office when he could theoretically pardon himself, and instead focus on dragging out the investigation(s) until he has left office.

When Donnie realizes this, he'll be EVEN MORE compliant with serving the neocons, the Deep State and The Swamp.

I always doubted that Donnie ever intended to "drain the swamp," but I fear that he'll become an even bigger neocon warmonger now that the Dems have him checkmate.

The results of the investigation don't matter, the Dems will simply pull more ******** out of their collective Go-Green asses and start new investigations, all financed by the taxpayers of course.

The real collusion of course is between Trump and Israel/AIPAC, but ssshhhhhhh, you're not allowed to talk about that. That's a big """""secret.""""

[Feb 13, 2019] Microsoft patches 0-day vulnerabilities in IE and Exchange

It is unclear how long this vulnerability exists, but this is pretty serious staff that shows how Hillary server could be hacked via Abedin account. As Abedin technical level was lower then zero, to hack into her home laptop just just trivial.
Feb 13, 2019 | arstechnica.com

Microsoft also patched Exchange against a vulnerability that allowed remote attackers with little more than an unprivileged mailbox account to gain administrative control over the server. Dubbed PrivExchange, CVE-2019-0686 was publicly disclosed last month , along with proof-of-concept code that exploited it. In Tuesday's advisory , Microsoft officials said they haven't seen active exploits yet but that they were "likely."

[Feb 13, 2019] Pro-Israel Lobby Caught Boasting of Its Influence in Washington by Ryan Grim

Feb 13, 2019 | theintercept.com

A debate about the power in Washington of the pro-Israel lobby is underway, after Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., responded sharply to reports that Republican leader Kevin McCarthy was targeting both Omar and fellow Muslim Rep. Rashida Tlaib, a Democrat from Michigan.

Omar quoted rap lyrics -- " It's all about the Benjamins baby " -- to suggest McCarthy's move was driven by the lobby's prolific spending. Asked specifically who she was referring to, Omar responded, " AIPAC !"

The debate over the influence of pro-Israel groups could be informed by an investigation by Al Jazeera, in which an undercover reporter infiltrated the Israel Project, a Washington-based group, and secretly recorded conversations about political strategy and influence over a six-month period in 2016. That investigation, however, was never aired by the network -- suppressed by pressure from the pro-Israel lobby .

In November, Electronic Intifada obtained and published the four-part series, but it did so during the week of the midterm elections, and the documentary did not get a lot of attention then.

In it, leaders of the pro-Israel lobby speak openly about how they use money to influence the political process, in ways so blunt that if the comments were made by critics, they'd be charged with anti-Semitism.

"Congressmen and senators don't do anything unless you pressure them."

David Ochs, founder of HaLev, which helps send young people to American Israel Public Affairs Committee's annual conference, described for the reporter how AIPAC and its donors organize fundraisers outside the official umbrella of the organization, so that the money doesn't show up on disclosures as coming specifically from AIPAC. He describes one group that organizes fundraisers in both Washington and New York. "This is the biggest ad hoc political group, definitely the wealthiest, in D.C.," Ochs says, adding that it has no official name, but is clearly tied to AIPAC. "It's the AIPAC group. It makes a difference; it really, really does. It's the best bang for your buck, and the networking is phenomenal." (Ochs and AIPAC did not immediately return The Intercept's requests for comment.)

Without spending money, Ochs argues, the pro-Israel lobby isn't able to enact its agenda. "Congressmen and senators don't do anything unless you pressure them. They kick the can down the road, unless you pressure them, and the only way to do that is with money," he explains.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/XytkI7afHcQ

He describes a fundraiser for Anthony Brown, a Democrat running for Congress in Maryland, as typical. "So we want the Jewish community to go face to face in this small environment, 50, 30, 40 people, and say, 'This is what's important to us. We want to make sure that if we give you money, that you're going to enforce the Iran deal.' That way, when they need something from him or her, like the Iran deal, they can quickly mobilize and say look, we'll give you 30 grand. They actually impact," Ochs tells the reporter.

Such a claim is not so different from what Omar was describing, and for which she was roundly condemned. In the wake of Omar's tweets, the Washington Post, for instance, reported , "The American Jewish Committee demanded an apology, calling her suggestion that AIPAC is paying American politicians for their support 'demonstrably false and stunningly anti-Semitic.'" (On Monday, Omar apologized for her tweets, but insisted that AIPAC and other lobbyist groups are harmful to U.S. politics.)

In the censored documentary, Ochs went on to describe a fundraiser hosted by Jeff Talpins , a hedge fund giant, as similar as well. "In New York, with Jeff Talpins, we don't ask a goddamn thing about the fucking Palestinians. You know why? 'Cause it's a tiny issue. It's a small, insignificant issue. The big issue is Iran. We want everything focused on Iran," Ochs says. "What happens is Jeff meets with the congressman in the back room, tells them exactly what his goals are -- and by the way, Jeff Talpins is worth $250 million -- basically they hand him an envelope with 20 credit cards, and say, 'You can swipe each of these credit cards for a thousand dollars each.'"

Ochs explains that the club in New York required a minimum pledge of $10,000 to join and participate in such events. "It's a minimum commitment. Some people give a lot more than that."

AIPAC, on its own website , recruits members to join its "Congressional Club," and commit to give at least $5,000 per election cycle.

Eric Gallagher, a top official at AIPAC from 2010 to 2015, tells the Al Jazeera reporter that AIPAC gets results. "Getting $38 billion in security aid to Israel matters, which is what AIPAC just did," he notes at one secretly recorded lunch. "Everything AIPAC does is focused on influencing Congress."

The film, called "The Lobby," was produced by Al Jazeera's investigative unit, and features hidden-camera footage obtained by the reporter, who posed as a Jewish, pro-Israel activist from Britain who wanted to volunteer with the Israel Project. Join Our Newsletter Original reporting. Fearless journalism. Delivered to you. I'm in Outfitted with a luxury apartment in Dupont Circle, the reporter hosted multiple gatherings and otherwise socialized broadly within the pro-Israel community, winning the confidence of senior officials, who divulged insider details, many of which have been leaked and created international news.

A companion version of the film, which looked at the Israel lobby's influence in the United Kingdom, did make it to air and was the subject of intense controversy. It exposed a plot by an Israeli embassy official in the United Kingdom to "take down" pro-Palestinian members of Parliament, leading to his resignation.

That film, however, included a snippet of footage from the United States. Officials here quickly realized that they, too, had been infiltrated. In the U.K., the Israel lobby lodged an official complaint claiming the series was anti-Semitic, but the U.K.'s communications agency rejected the claim, finding that "the allegations in the programme were not made on the grounds that any of the particular individuals concerned were Jewish and noted that no claims were made relating to their faith."

Pro-Israel officials in the United States, rather than file an official complaint, exerted political pressure. A bipartisan group of 19 lawmakers wrote to the Justice Department requesting an investigation into "the full range of activities undertaken by Al Jazeera in the United States," and suggesting that the organization be made to register as a foreign agent. Ultimately, Qatar bent to the pressure and killed the documentary.

[Feb 13, 2019] Look Pompeo is posting on ZH

Feb 13, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Einstein101 , 6 hours ago link

Furious China Accuses US Of Fabricating Threats, Slams Huawei Boycott As "Hypocritical And Immoral"

Huawei has no one else to blame for this but itself. The way the company has violated US laws, defrauding banks with its attempts to dodge the US sanction on Iran.

The American Sanctions on Iran are an international necessity, They May Even Help To Stop The Misery And Suffering Of The Iranian People.

schroedingersrat , 6 hours ago link

Look Pompeo is posting on ZH

[Feb 13, 2019] Stephen Cohen on War with Russia and Soviet-style Censorship in the US by Russell Mokhiber

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... War with Russia. ..."
"... Cohen said the censorship that he has faced in recent years is similar to the censorship imposed on dissidents in the Soviet Union. ..."
"... Washington Post ..."
"... "Katrina and I had a joint signed op-ed piece in the New York Times ..."
"... Washington Post ..."
"... "The alternatives have been excluded from both. I would welcome an opportunity to debate these issues in the mainstream media, where you can reach more people. And remember, being in these pages, for better or for worse, makes you Kosher. This is the way it works. If you have been on these pages, you are cited approvingly. You are legitimate. You are within the parameters of the debate." ..."
"... "When I lived off and on in the Soviet Union, I saw how Soviet media treated dissident voices. And they didn't have to arrest them. They just wouldn't ever mention them. Sometimes they did that (arrest them). But they just wouldn't ever mention them in the media." ..."
"... "And something like that has descended here. And it's really alarming, along with some other Soviet-style practices in this country that nobody seems to care about – like keeping people in prison until they break, that is plea, without right to bail, even though they haven't been convicted of anything." ..."
"... "That's what they did in the Soviet Union. They kept people in prison until people said – I want to go home. Tell me what to say – and I'll go home. That's what we are doing here. And we shouldn't be doing that." ..."
"... Russell Mokhiber is the editor of the Corporate Crime Reporter.. ..."
Feb 12, 2019 | www.counterpunch.org

On stage at Busboys and Poets in Washington, D.C. this past week was Princeton University Professor Emeritus Stephen Cohen, author of the new book, War with Russia: From Putin & Ukraine to Trump & Russiagate.

Cohen has largely been banished from mainstream media.

"I had been arguing for years -- very much against the American political media grain -- that a new US/Russian Cold War was unfolding -- driven primarily by politics in Washington, not Moscow," Cohen writes in War with Russia. "For this perspective, I had been largely excluded from influential print, broadcast and cable outlets where I had been previously welcomed."

On the stage at Busboys and Poets with Cohen was Katrina vanden Heuvel, the editor of The Nation magazine, and Robert Borosage, co-founder of the Campaign for America's Future.

During question time, Cohen was asked about the extent of the censorship in the context of other Americans who had been banished from mainstream American media, including Ralph Nader, whom the liberal Democratic establishment, including Borosage and Vanden Heuvel, stiff armed when he crashed the corporate political parties in the electoral arena in 2004 and 2008.

Cohen said the censorship that he has faced in recent years is similar to the censorship imposed on dissidents in the Soviet Union.

"Until some period of time before Trump, on the question of what America's policy toward Putin's Kremlin should be, there was a reasonable facsimile of a debate on those venues that had these discussions," Cohen said. "Are we allowed to mention the former Charlie Rose for example? On the long interview form, Charlie would have on a person who would argue for a very hard policy toward Putin. And then somebody like myself who thought it wasn't a good idea."

"Occasionally that got on CNN too. MSNBC not so much. And you could get an op-ed piece published, with effort, in the New York Times or Washington Post ."

"Katrina and I had a joint signed op-ed piece in the New York Times six or seven years ago. But then it stopped. And to me, that's the fundamental difference between this Cold War and the preceding Cold War."

"I will tell you off the record – no, I'm not going to do it," Cohen said. "Two exceedingly imminent Americans, who most op-ed pages would die to get a piece by, just to say they were on the page, submitted such articles to the New York Times , and they were rejected the same day. They didn't even debate it. They didn't even come back and say – could you tone it down? They just didn't want it."

"Now is that censorship? In Italy, where each political party has its own newspaper, you would say – okay fair enough. I will go to a newspaper that wants me. But here, we are used to these newspapers."

"Remember how it works. I was in TV for 18 years being paid by CBS. So, I know how these things work. TV doesn't generate its own news anymore. Their actual reporting has been de-budgeted. They do video versions of what is in the newspapers."

"Look at the cable talk shows. You see it in the New York Times and Washington Post in the morning, you turn on the TV at night and there is the video version. That's just the way the news business works now."

"The alternatives have been excluded from both. I would welcome an opportunity to debate these issues in the mainstream media, where you can reach more people. And remember, being in these pages, for better or for worse, makes you Kosher. This is the way it works. If you have been on these pages, you are cited approvingly. You are legitimate. You are within the parameters of the debate."

"If you are not, then you struggle to create your own alternative media. It's new in my lifetime. I know these imminent Americans I mentioned were shocked when they were just told no. It's a lockdown. And it is a form of censorship."

"When I lived off and on in the Soviet Union, I saw how Soviet media treated dissident voices. And they didn't have to arrest them. They just wouldn't ever mention them. Sometimes they did that (arrest them). But they just wouldn't ever mention them in the media."

"Dissidents created what is known as samizdat – that's typescript that you circulate by hand. Gorbachev, before he came to power, did read some samizdat. But it's no match for newspapers published with five, six, seven million copies a day. Or the three television networks which were the only television networks Soviet citizens had access to."

"And something like that has descended here. And it's really alarming, along with some other Soviet-style practices in this country that nobody seems to care about – like keeping people in prison until they break, that is plea, without right to bail, even though they haven't been convicted of anything."

"That's what they did in the Soviet Union. They kept people in prison until people said – I want to go home. Tell me what to say – and I'll go home. That's what we are doing here. And we shouldn't be doing that."

Cohen appears periodically on Tucker Carlson's show on Fox News. And that rankled one person in the audience at Busboys and Poets, who said he worried that Cohen's perspective on Russia can be "appropriated by the right."

"Trump can take that and run on a nationalistic platform – to hell with NATO, to hell with fighting these endless wars, to do what he did in 2016 and get the votes of people who are very concerned about the deteriorating relations between the U.S. and Russia," the man said.

Cohen says that on a personal level, he likes Tucker Carlson "and I don't find him to be a racist or a nationalist."

"Nationalism is on the rise around the world everywhere," Cohen said. "There are different kinds of nationalism. We always called it patriotism in this country, but we have always been a nationalistic country."

"Fox has about three to four million viewers at that hour," Cohen said. "If I am not permitted to give my take on American/Russian relations on any other mass media, and by the way, possibly talk directly to Trump, who seems to like his show, and say – Trump is making a mistake, he should do this or do that instead -- I don't get many opportunities – and I can't see why I shouldn't do it."

"I get three and a half to four minutes," Cohen said. "I don't see it as consistent with my mission, if that's the right word, to say no. These articles I write for The Nation , which ended up in my book, are posted on some of the most God awful websites in the world. I had to look them up to find out how bad they really are. But what can I do about it?"

Join the debate on Facebook More articles by: Russell Mokhiber

Russell Mokhiber is the editor of the Corporate Crime Reporter..

[Feb 13, 2019] The return of W>eimar Berlin - Lawlessness, Inequality, Extremism, Divisiveness and Crime

Notable quotes:
"... the financial corruption and private pilfering using public power, money laundering and the kind of soft corruption that is rampant amongst our new elite is all there ..."
Feb 13, 2019 | jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.com

"He drew near and saw the city, and he wept for it saying, 'If you had only recognized the things that make for peace. But now you are blinded to them. Truly, the days will come when your enemies will set up barriers to surround you, and hem you in on every side. Then they will crush you into the earth, you and your children. And they will not leave one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the way to your salvation.'"

Luke 19:41-44

"You hypocrites! You build monuments for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. And you say, 'If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of His messengers.'"

Matthew 23:29-30

...the results of the Senate GOP finding no evidence of 'collusion' with Russia by the Trump Administration to influence the results of the presidential election..

This last item is not surprising, because this entire Russian collusion meme seems as though it is an hysterical reaction to the spin put out by the Clinton political faction and their neoliberal enablers after their shocking loss in the 2016 Presidential election.

Too bad though, because the financial corruption and private pilfering using public power, money laundering and the kind of soft corruption that is rampant amongst our new elite is all there. And by there we mean on both sides of the fence -- which is why it had to take a back seat to a manufactured boogeyman.

... ... ...

There is a long road ahead before we see anything like a resolution to this troubling period in American political history.

We look back at other troubled periods and places, and either see them as discrete and fictional, a very different world apart, or through some rosy lenses of good old times which were largely benign and peaceful. We fail to see the continuity, the similarity, and the commonality of a dangerous path with ourselves. As they did with their own times gone by. Madness blinds its acolytes, because they wish it so. They embrace it to hide their shame.

We are reassured and misled by the same kinds of voices that have always served the status quo and the monied interests, the think tanks, the so-called 'institutes,' and the web sites and former con men who offer a constant stream of thinly disguised propaganda and misstatements of principle and history. We are comforted by their lies.

People want to hear these reassuring words of comfort and embrace it like a 'religion,' because they do not wish to draw the conclusions that the genuine principles of faith suggest (dare we say command in this day and age) in their daily lives. They blind themselves by adopting a kind of a schizoid approach to life, where 'religion' occupies a discrete, rarefied space, and 'political or economic philosophy' dictates another set of everyday 'practical' observances and behaviors which are more pliable, and pleasing to our hardened and prideful hearts.

We wish to strike a deal with the Lord, and a deal with the Devil -- to serve both God and Mammon as it suits us. It really is that cliché. And it is so finely woven into the fabric of our day that we cannot see it; we cannot see that it is happening to us and around us.

And so we trot on into the abyss, one exception and excuse and rationalization for ourselves at a time. And we blind ourselves with false prophets and their profane theories and philosophies.

As for truth, the truth that brings life, we would interrupt the sermon on the mount itself, saying that this sentiment was all very well and good, but what stocks should we buy for our portfolio, and what horse is going to win the fifth at Belmont? Tell us something useful, practical! Oh, and can you please fix this twinge in my left shoulder? It is ruining my golf game.

"Those among the rich who are not, in the rigorous sense, damned, can understand poverty, because they are poor themselves, after a fashion; they cannot understand destitution. Capable of giving alms, perhaps, but incapable of stripping themselves bare, they will be moved, to the sound of beautiful music, at Jesus's sufferings, but His Cross, the reality of His Cross, will horrify them. They want it all out of gold, bathed in light, costly and of little weight; pleasant to see, hanging from a woman's beautiful throat."

Léon Bloy

No surprise in this. It has always been so, especially in times of such vanity and greed as are these. Then is now. There is nothing new under the sun. And certainly nothing exceptional about the likes of us in our indulgent self-destruction.

Are you not entertained?

[Feb 13, 2019] Furious China Accuses US Of Fabricating Threats, Slams Huawei Boycott As Hypocritical And Immoral

Feb 13, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Furious China Accuses US Of Fabricating Threats, Slams Huawei Boycott As "Hypocritical And Immoral"

by Tyler Durden Wed, 02/13/2019 - 08:15 44 SHARES

The U.S. (and other countries, ahem Canada) have not presented any conclusive evidence that Chinese telecom giant Huawei threatens their national security and are merely stirring fears out of self-interest, a Chinese government spokeswoman said on Wednesday.

According to Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying, Huawei's critics are conjuring up threats and misusing state power to "suppress the legitimate development rights and interests of Chinese enterprises" and are "using political means to intervene in the economy."

Hua continued his slam of the US saying that "all countries should deal with relevant matters in an objective, comprehensive, rational, and correct manner, rather than fabricating excuses of all kinds for one's own pursuit of interest at the cost of others, which is quite hypocritical, immoral, and unfair."

Needless to say, Hua's comments - coming just as US trade negotiators are in Beijing with president Xi unexpectedly set to join the discussions - at a daily briefing were "some of the sharpest yet" in the growing feud over Washington's drive to convince other nations to shut Huawei out of their markets due to national security concerns, Reuters reported.

Huawei - the world's biggest supplier of network gear used by phone and internet companies and the leaders in 5G technology - insists that it is independent and poses no threat to the security of others, but has long been seen by some as a front for spying by the Chinese military or security services. It's also why the United States, Australia, Japan and some other governments have imposed curbs on use of Huawei technology, including smart phones.

US warnings about the risks of Chinese telecom technology come as governments are choosing providers for the rollout of 5G wireless internet, where Huawei is among the global leaders.

Escalating the growing boycott of Chinese telecom, on Tuesday in Poland, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo repeated a warning that the United States may be forced to scale back certain operations in Europe and elsewhere if countries continue to do business with Huawei. Pompeo said the U.S. had strong concerns about Huawei's motives in Europe, especially in NATO and European Union member states, as well as its business practices.

"We've made known the risks that are associated with that, risks to private information of citizens of the country, risks that comes from having that technology installed in network systems," he said.

The US has argued that under Chinese security laws companies such as Huawei or ZTE could be compelled to hand over data or access to Chinese intelligence. However, Hua responded that such concerns were based on provisions of China's national intelligence law that differ little from similar legislation in other countries.

"It is an international practice to maintain national security with legislation and to require organizations and individuals to cooperate with national intelligence work," Hua said.

And, in the angriest retort to Washington yet, Hua accused the US of creating "conspiracy theories" backed by nothing but hearsay, and that lacking solid evidence, the U . S. "keeps making up crimes and churning out various threat theories."

"We believe that this is very hypocritical, unfair and immoral," she said. All nations, Hua said, have an obligation to "abide by the market principle of free and fair competition and truly safeguard the market environment of fairness, justice and non-discrimination."


CatInTheHat , 21 minutes ago link

Doesn't matter what they believe as long as the US dollar is main currency weaponize it whenever possible

US wants back door on China 5G so it can spy more on US citizens and NATO vassal countries

US hasn't caught up with China 5G and lacks innovation to do so .

Pompeo is a horses ***.

popeye , 1 hour ago link

To my knowledge Huawei has not yet been caught hacking sovereign leaders cellphones. Others have, and ....nothing.

Victory_Rossi , 5 hours ago link

"... lacking solid evidence ..." - evidence of what? That Huawei steals and copies technology? I can't be the only current or former Cisco employee here. Anyone remember watching a Huawei router boot a production IOS image? Building 8 in the first floor h/w lab? We rolled the Huawei router over from the TME lab next door? Then the lawsuit and the "settlement"? Trust no one but especially don't trust state controlled Chicoms.

BakedBeans , 5 hours ago link

Thanks, CISCO for all the NSA back doors you conveniently provided, allowing the govt to violate the 4th ammendment.

https://www.infoworld.com/article/2608141/internet-privacy/snowden--the-nsa-planted-backdoors-in-cisco-products.html

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. "

Victory_Rossi , 5 hours ago link

Hate CSCO, IBM, AAPL, GOOG, AMZN, FB and all the rest. Just don't go crazy and think that the Chicoms (ie: Huawei) are on your side.

AriusArmenian , 4 hours ago link

I don't care as much about Chinese or Russian backdoors (if they exist), I care more about NSA backdoors since I live inside their fraudulent political, economic, and judicial regime that services US elites.

AriusArmenian , 4 hours ago link

The Chinese didn't steal tech, it was sold to them by US elites that made fortunes on it. I don't blame the Chinese, I blame US elites that outsourced US jobs and industry to make a buck (fortunes of bucks).

Read 'The Conspirators' by Al Martin. A hell of a read that has some gems on how Bush's, Clinton's, and others made millions on selling tech to China along with real estate fraud, stock swindles, and running narcotics and weapons. Congress critters were involved along with the CIA, ONI, and US military. It still goes on. They love you going with the fear and hate China narratives.

AriusArmenian , 5 hours ago link

Huawei is the world's leader in 5G technology, but when US elites can't compete they play dirty.

The other problem for the US is that Huawei won't allow NSA backdoors in their equipment. Remember the Snowden revelations about Cisco router order shipments being redirected to be modified for the NSA?

Screw the US Stasi Security State.

AriusArmenian , 4 hours ago link

If you are a US citizen and live in the US and if US elites fraud that is plowing and plundering the american people continues (and nothing suggests the people will stop it) then nothing good will come from whatever elite narrative you decide to follow. US elites made a bundle on outsourcing US jobs and industry to Asia, and now they are still insiders leading the march to fear and hate China and Russia.

Read 'The Conspirators' by Al Martin on the Iran-Contra frauds run by powerful families in the US to get a taste of what they do.

admin user , 5 hours ago link

The U.S. (and other countries, ahem Canada) have not presented any conclusive evidence that Chinese telecom giant Huawei threatens their national security and are merely stirring fears out of self-interest, a Chinese government spokeswoman said on Wednesday.

I have to agree. Everything I needed to know about American perfidy, I learned from Edward Snowden.

AriusArmenian , 4 hours ago link

The US elites in Congress passed the laws to outsource US jobs and industry to Asia. They were insiders that made fortunes on it. Senator Diane Feinstein and her husband are examples. Now that the pickings are getting slim and China is going its own way those same elites are beating the drum about the dangerous China (and Russia) and are rolling out Cold War v2.

So I agree with you but do not blame Asia for what was offered to them on a silver platter. But I cannot agree with blocking all products from China which would result in price inflation in the US on steroids. The cost of living (especially for the young) would drive many into poverty. The US economy would crater into depression. So what to do? There are two direction: (1) do as the US is currently doing: spend more on its military and cyber weapons and threaten, bomb, kill to get other countries to let US corporations enter and dominate, or (2) cut US military spending by 60%+ and plow money into the US infrastructure and people.

It's one or the other and US elites are going with (1) which is the worst possible direction. I had hope for Trump based on his stump speeches but the CIA and others saw it as a direct threat to their geopolitical strategy regime and they engineered a coup and Trump has folded. This is evident by his original nationalist campaign staff being replaced after the election by neocon/neolib dead-enders. It would have been easy to cooperate with Russia and China to integrate them into a world order of international agreements already in place after Cold War v1. But US elites at heart are supremacists not willing to share the world with others. There is one other big problem in the US: that its foreign policy is substantially under the control of the UK, Israel, and Saudis (that in itself a big story). I feel a lot like you do but see US elites putting all their efforts into a dead end.

[Feb 13, 2019] Death of the Public University Uncertain Futures for Higher Education in the Knowledge Economy

Notable quotes:
"... This assault on academic freedom by neoliberalism justifies itself by calling for "transparency" and "accountability" to the taxpayer and the public. But it operates used utter perversion of those terms. In the Neoliberal context, they mean "total surveillance" and "rampant rent-seeking. ..."
Feb 11, 2019 | www.amazon.com

skeptic, February 11, 2019

The eyes opening, very important for any student or educator book

This book is the collection of more than dozen of essays of various authors, but even the Introduction (Privatizing the Public University: Key Trends, Countertrends, and Alternatives) is worth the price of the book

Trends in neo-liberalization of university education are not new. But recently they took a more dangerous turn. And they are not easy to decipher, despite the fact that they are greatly affect the life of each student or educator. In this sense this is really an eyes-opening book.

In Europe previously higher education as assessable for free or almost free, but for talented student only. Admission criteria were strict and checked via written and oral entrance exams on key subjects. Now the tend is to view university as business that get customers, charge them exorbitant fees and those customers get diploma as hamburgers in McDonalds at the end for their money. Whether those degree are worth money charged, or not and were suitable for the particular student of not (many are "fake" degrees with little or no chances for getting employment) is not university business. On the contrary, marketing is used to attract as many students as possible and many of those student now remain in debt for large part of their adult life.

In other words, the neoliberalization of the university in the USA creates new, now dominant trend -- the conversion of the university into for-profit diploma mills, which are essentially a new type of rent-seeking (and they even attract speculative financial capital and open scamsters, like was in case of "Trump University" ). Even old universities with more than a century history more and more resemble diploma mills.

This assault on academic freedom by neoliberalism justifies itself by calling for "transparency" and "accountability" to the taxpayer and the public. But it operates used utter perversion of those terms. In the Neoliberal context, they mean "total surveillance" and "rampant rent-seeking. "

Neoliberalism has converted education from a public good to a personal investment in the future, a future conceived in terms of earning capacity. As this is about your future earning potential, it is logical that for a chance to increase it you need to take a loan.

Significantly, in the same period per capita, spending on prisons increased by 126 percent (Newfield 2008: 266). Between the 1970s and 1990s there was a 400 percent increase in charges in tuition, room, and board in U.S. universities and tuition costs have grown at about ten times the rate of family income (ibid.). What these instances highlight is not just the state's retreat from direct funding of higher education but also a calculated initiative to enable private companies to capture and profit from tax-funded student loans.

The other tendency is also alarming. Funds now are allocated to those institutions that performed best in what has become a fetishistic quest for ever-higher ratings. That creates the 'rankings arms-race.' It has very little or nothing to do with the quality of teaching of students in a particular university. On the contrary, the curriculums were "streamlined" and "ideologically charged courses" such as neoclassical economics are now required for graduation even in STEM specialties.

In the neoliberal university professors are now under the iron heel of management and various metrics were invented to measure the "quality of teaching." Most of them are very perverted, or can be perverted as when a measurement becomes a target teachers start to focus their resources and activities primarily on what 'counts' rather than on their wider competencies, professional ethics and societal goals (see Kohn and Shore, this volume).

Administration bloat and academic decline is another prominent feature of the neoliberal university. University presidents now view themselves as CEO and want similar salaries. The same is true for the growing staff of university administrators. The recruitment of administrators has far outpaced the growth in the number of faculty – or even students. Meanwhile, universities claim to be struggling with budget crises that force to reduce permanent academic posts, and widely use underpaid and overworked adjunct staff – the 'precariat' paid just a couple of thousand dollars per course and often existing on the edge of poverty, or in real poverty.

Money now is the key objective and the mission changed from cultural to "for profit" business including vast expenses on advancement of the prestige and competitiveness of the university as an end in itself. Ability to get grants is now an important criteria of getting the tenure.

[Feb 13, 2019] Oil gains 2 percent as Saudi Arabia readies more supply cuts

Feb 13, 2019 | finance.yahoo.com

Saudi Arabia planning to drop March crude output by more than a half a million barrels per day below its initial pledge.

... ... ...

OPEC said on Tuesday it had reduced oil production almost 800,000 bpd in January to 30.81 million bpd under its voluntary global supply pact.

Saudi Arabia Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih told the Financial Times that the kingdom would reduce cut production to about 9.8 million bpd in March to bolster oil prices.

[Feb 13, 2019] Declining GOM output in 2019 is a more likely scenario then IEA prediction of increase of production

Notable quotes:
"... they expect maybe 200 kb/d higher output in the GOM and my interpretation of George Kaplan's and SouthLaGeo's recent comments is that flat or possibly declining GOM output is a more likely scenario. ..."
Feb 13, 2019 | peakoilbarrel.com

Energy News, 02/12/2019 at 2:29 pm

The EIA's STEO released today.
https://www.eia.gov/outlooks/steo/
They forecast US C+C production to increase +0.79 million barrels per day during 2019
From Dec 2018 11.93 million barrels per day
To Dec 2019 12.72 million barrels per day
Dennis Coyne, 02/12/2019 at 4:12 pm
The EIA's forecast might not be too far off, but I think they expect maybe 200 kb/d higher output in the GOM and my interpretation of George Kaplan's and SouthLaGeo's recent comments is that flat or possibly declining GOM output is a more likely scenario.

[Feb 13, 2019] There's Something Eerily Familiar About the West's Approach to Venezuela

Notable quotes:
"... Erdogan has used it in Turkey ( less than three years ago ) and it was a common line in the forgotten 1930s used by none other than Mussolini. And now I quote Trump's US secretary of state Michael Pompeo on Maduro : "Now it is time for every other nation to pick a side either you stand with the forces of freedom, or you're in league with Maduro and his mayhem." ..."
"... Rigged elections? No doubt about it, although al-Sisi still maintains that his last triumph at the polls – a cracking 97 per cent – was a free and fair election. President Trump sent his "sincere congratulations" . Political prisoners? Well, the total is 60,000 and rising . Oh yes, and Maduro's last victory – a rigged election if ever there was one, of course – was a mere 67.84 per cent. ..."
"... Now the Americans are negotiating with the "terrorist" Taliban in Qatar so they can get the hell out of the Graveyard of Empires after 17 years of military setbacks, scandals and defeats – not to mention running a few torture camps which even Maduro would cough to look at. ..."
Feb 13, 2019 | www.counterpunch.org

Erdogan has used it in Turkey ( less than three years ago ) and it was a common line in the forgotten 1930s used by none other than Mussolini. And now I quote Trump's US secretary of state Michael Pompeo on Maduro : "Now it is time for every other nation to pick a side either you stand with the forces of freedom, or you're in league with Maduro and his mayhem."

You get the point. Now is the time for all good people to stand alongside the United States, the EU, the nations of Latin America – or do you support the Russkies, Chinese, Iranian headbangers, the perfidious Corbyn and (of all people) the Greeks? Talking of the Greeks, European pressure on Alexis Tsipras to conform to the EU's support for Guaido – proving that the EU can indeed bully its smaller members – is a good argument for Brexiteers (though far too complex for them to understand).

But first, let's take a look at our favourite tyrant, in the words of all who oppose him. He's a powerful dictator, surrounded by generals, suppressing his people, using torture, mass arrests, secret police murders, rigged elections, political prisoners – so no wonder we gave our support to those who wish to overthrow this brutal man and stage democratic elections.

Not a bad precis of our current policy towards the Maduro regime. But I am referring, of course, word-for-word, to the west's policy towards the Assad regime in Syria. And our support for opposition democracy there wasn't terribly successful.

We were not solely responsible for the Syrian civil war – but we were not guiltless since we sent an awful lot of weapons to those trying to overthrow Assad. And last month the notepad of US national security advisor John Bolton appeared to boast a plan to send 5,000 US troops to Colombia

And now let's tick the box on another Maduro-lookalike – at least from the west's simplistic point of view: the military-backed elected field marshal-president al-Sisi of Egypt, whom we love, admire and protect. Powerful dictator? Yup. Surrounded and supported by generals? You bet, not least because he locked up a rival general before the last election. Suppression? Absolutely – all in the interest of crushing "terrorism", of course.

Mass arrests? Happily yes, for all the inmates of Egypt's savage prison system are "terrorists", at least according to the field marshal-president himself. Secret police murders? Well, even forgetting the young Italian student suspected by his government to have been allegedly tortured and bumped off by one of Sisi's top Egyptian cops, there's a roll call of disappeared activists.

Rigged elections? No doubt about it, although al-Sisi still maintains that his last triumph at the polls – a cracking 97 per cent – was a free and fair election. President Trump sent his "sincere congratulations" . Political prisoners? Well, the total is 60,000 and rising . Oh yes, and Maduro's last victory – a rigged election if ever there was one, of course – was a mere 67.84 per cent.

As the late sage of the Sunday Express , John Gordon, might have said: it makes you sit up a bit. So, too, I suppose, when we glance a bit further eastwards to Afghanistan, whose Taliban rulers were routed in 2001 by the US, whose post-9/11 troops and statesmen ushered in a new life of democracy, then corruption, warlordism and civil war.

The "democracy" bit quickly came unstuck when "loya jurgas", grand councils, turned into tribal playpens and the Americans announced that it would be an exaggeration to think that we could achieve "Jeffersonian democracy" in Afghanistan. Too true.

Now the Americans are negotiating with the "terrorist" Taliban in Qatar so they can get the hell out of the Graveyard of Empires after 17 years of military setbacks, scandals and defeats – not to mention running a few torture camps which even Maduro would cough to look at.

Now all this may not encourage you to walk down memory lane. And I haven't even listed the sins of Saddam, let alone our continuing and cosy relationship – amazing as it still seems – with that Gulf state whose lads strangled, chopped up and secretly buried a US-resident journalist in Turkey.

Now just imagine if Maduro, tired of a journalist critic slandering him in Miami, decided to lure him to the Venezuelan embassy in Washington and top the poor guy, slice him up and bury him secretly in Foggy Bottom. Well now, I have a feeling that sanctions might have been applied to Maduro a long time ago. But not to Saudi Arabia, of course, where we are very definitely not advocating democracy.

"Now is the time for democracy and prosperity in Venezuela," quoth John Bolton this week. Oh, yes indeed. Maduro runs an oil-soaked nation yet its people starve. He is an unworthy, foolish and vain man, even if he's not Saddamite in his crimes. He was rightly described by a colleague as a dreary tyrant. He even looks like the kind of guy who tied ladies to railway lines in silent movies.

So good luck to Guaido. Palpably a nice guy, speaks eloquently, wise to stick to aid for the poor and fresh elections rather than dwell on just how exactly Maduro and his military chums are going to be booted out.

In other words, good luck – but watch out. Instead of pleading with those who will not support him – the Greeks, for example – he might take a closer look at who his foreign friends are. And do a quick track record on their more recent crusades for freedom, democracy and the right to life. And by the way, I haven't even mentioned Libya.

[Feb 12, 2019] Older Workers Need a Different Kind of Layoff A 60-year-old whose position is eliminated might be unable to find another job, but could retire if allowed early access to Medicare

Highly recommended!
This is a constructive suggestion that is implementable even under neoliberalism. As everything is perverted under neoliberalism that might prompt layoffs before the age of 55.
Notable quotes:
"... Older workers often struggle to get rehired as easily as younger workers. Age discrimination is a well-known problem in corporate America. What's a 60-year-old back office worker supposed to do if downsized in a merger? The BB&T-SunTrust prospect highlights the need for a new type of unemployment insurance for some of the workforce. ..."
"... One policy might be treating unemployed older workers differently than younger workers. Giving them unemployment benefits for a longer period of time than younger workers would be one idea, as well as accelerating the age of Medicare eligibility for downsized employees over the age of 55. The latter idea would help younger workers as well, by encouraging older workers to accept buyout packages -- freeing up career opportunities for younger workers. ..."
Feb 12, 2019 | www.bloomberg.com

The proposed merger between SunTrust and BB&T makes sense for both firms -- which is why Wall Street sent both stocks higher on Thursday after the announcement. But employees of the two banks, especially older workers who are not yet retirement age, are understandably less enthused at the prospect of downsizing. In a nation with almost 37 million workers over the age of 55, the quandary of SunTrust-BB&T workforce will become increasingly familiar across the U.S. economy.

But what's good for the firms isn't good for all of the workers. Older workers often struggle to get rehired as easily as younger workers. Age discrimination is a well-known problem in corporate America. What's a 60-year-old back office worker supposed to do if downsized in a merger? The BB&T-SunTrust prospect highlights the need for a new type of unemployment insurance for some of the workforce.

One policy might be treating unemployed older workers differently than younger workers. Giving them unemployment benefits for a longer period of time than younger workers would be one idea, as well as accelerating the age of Medicare eligibility for downsized employees over the age of 55. The latter idea would help younger workers as well, by encouraging older workers to accept buyout packages -- freeing up career opportunities for younger workers.

The economy can be callous toward older workers, but policy makers don't have to be. We should think about ways of dealing with this shift in the labor market before it happens.

[Feb 12, 2019] The Neoliberal University

Notable quotes:
"... Neoliberalism has transformed education from a social good into a production process where the final product is a reserve army of workers for the information economy. What David Harvey calls the "state-finance nexus" pushes universities to play the part by withholding state funds until they expand their enrollment and increase the number of college graduates entering the workforce.[13] In 2012, the Obama Administration identified increasing the number of undergraduate STEM degrees by one million over the next decade as a 'Cross-Agency Priority Goal' on the recommendation of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST). ..."
"... The present relationship between the university and the state flows from the dynamics of financialization. As financialization transforms the role of the United States in the global economy, it appropriates higher education to suit the needs of finance capital. Compared to the ever-expanding administrative apparatus responsible for managing contracts and investments, programs outside of STEM and business fields are considered superfluous. Humanities programs are often downsized and tenure tracks closed to push professors into permanent part-time employment arrangements.[15] Meanwhile, schools like Northeastern and MIT are surrounded by high-tech and business firms that rely on students and research facilities for cheap labor and productive capital. ..."
"... The position of financial and credit institutions as the financiers of America's productive infrastructure has far-reaching consequences for social institutions like universities with the potential to absorb surplus capital in the form of credit or produce the 21st-century 'information' workforce. Students, and faculty at universities like Northeastern will struggle against market pressures on universities to attract outside investors while downsizing education for as long as the U.S. economy is dominated by finance. ..."
Feb 12, 2019 | www.nupoliticalreview.com

Last month at Northeastern University, the adjunct union reached a tentative agreement with the university administration to avert a planned walkout after more than a year of unsuccessful negotiations. Those familiar with the adjunct campaign know that adjunct professors are contingent workers who comprise more than half of the teaching staff at Northeastern and are paid a couple thousand dollars for each class that they teach.[1] From a budgetary standpoint, contingent workers are economical because they are easily replaced and therefore can be paid less. Still, at a school like Northeastern University with an operating budget of more than $2.2 billion, it is hard to argue that more than half of all professors need to earn poverty wages for the school to remain profitable.[2]

In today's neoliberal landscape -- a term which refers to the coordinated effort by capital and financial interests after the 1980s to privatize public institutions and deregulate markets -- Northeastern is not unusual in its treatment of adjunct professors. The neoliberal university model of high tuitions, bloated administrative departments, and upscale student facilities -- along with assaults on the job security and pay of professors -- is the new norm. It is the image of a thoroughly financialized economy that has transformed the relationship between universities and the state.

From the 19th century through the 1970s, the relationship between universities and the state remained constant. There was an informal arrangement of mutual independence: Academics operated autonomously with state funding on the understanding that they were willing to pursue research in which the state had an interest, such as medicine or space exploration.[3] Underlying this arrangement was the assumption that as a social good, education should drive public research and development.

The story of how universities became neoliberalized begins with the economic crisis of the 1970s and the subsequent free-market discourse that invoked capitalism's insatiable need for economic growth in order to equate the interests of working people with the interests of financiers.

In the three decades after World War II, the U.S. established economic hegemony over the global capitalist world. The Fordist compromise between strong manufacturers and a strong, suburbanizing working class yielded unprecedented wage growth.[4] However, the Fordist model could not last forever. As a general rule, whenever compound economic growth falls below three percent, people begin to get scared . In order to sustain three percent compound growth, there must be no barriers to the continuous expansion and reinvestment of capital.

The suburbanization of postwar America did sustain high demand for American-made automobiles and home products, but reinvestment in manufacturing eventually became difficult for capital because a widely-unionized and militant working class created a labor shortage (i.e. near-full employment) which drove up wages and hurt profitability.[5][6] To the extent that productivity could be improved by technological innovations, organized labor insisted on "productivity agreements" that ensured that machines would not be used to undermine wages or benefits. To make matters worse for U.S. manufacturers, monopolies like the Big Three auto companies were broken by foreign imports from a newly rebuilt Europe and Japan.[7]

In The Grundrisse , Karl Marx remarked that "every limit [to capital accumulation] appears as a barrier to be overcome."[8] For Marx, sustained capital accumulation requires an "industrial reserve army" to keep the cost of labor (i.e. wages) from impeding profitability. To restore profits, American capital had to discipline labor by drawing from the global working population. The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 addressed U.S. labor scarcity by abolishing immigration quotas based on nationality so that cheap labor would flood the market and drive down wages.[9] However, it proved more effective for manufacturing capital to simply relocate to countries with cheaper labor, and throughout the 1970s and 1980s capital did just that -- first to South Korea and Thailand, and then to China as wages in those countries became too high.[10]

"Globalization" entailed removing barriers to international capital relocation such as tariffs and quotas in order to construct a global market where liquid money capital could flow internationally to wherever it yielded the most profits. Of course, wage suppression eventually lowers consumer demand. The neoliberal solution was for financial institutions to sustain middle-class purchasing power through credit. In The Enigma of Capital , David Harvey writes that "the demand problem was temporarily bridged with respect to housing by debt-financing the developers as well as the buyers. The financial institutions collectively controlled both the supply of, and demand for, housing!"[11]

The point of this history though, is that the financialization of the American economy, through which financial markets came to dominate other forms of industrial and agricultural capital, served as the backdrop for the transformation of higher education into what it is today. Neoliberal ideology reframed the social value of higher education as a tool for building the next workforce to serve the new "information economy" -- a term that emerged in the midst of globalization to describe the role of U.S. suburban professionals in the global economy. Simultaneously, finance capital repurposed universities as points of capital accumulation and investment.

The discourse around the information economy sought to rationalize the offshoring of manufacturing from the U.S. The idea was that due to globalization, America has reached a stage of development where its participation in the global economy is as a white-collar work force, specializing in technology and the spread of information.[12] In this telling, there is nothing to critique about the deindustrialization of the American economy because it was inevitable. It was then simple to realign the social goals of universities with the economic goals of Wall Street because the state repression of radical civil rights movements on the Left and the emergent free-market discourse of the Right formed a widespread perception of the state as inherently problematic . State research and development at universities was easily dismissed as inefficient, which cleared space for a neoliberal redefinition of higher education.

Neoliberalism has transformed education from a social good into a production process where the final product is a reserve army of workers for the information economy. What David Harvey calls the "state-finance nexus" pushes universities to play the part by withholding state funds until they expand their enrollment and increase the number of college graduates entering the workforce.[13] In 2012, the Obama Administration identified increasing the number of undergraduate STEM degrees by one million over the next decade as a 'Cross-Agency Priority Goal' on the recommendation of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST).

At the same time that neoliberalism transforms education into a production process for high-tech workers, it transforms the university itself into a site for surplus capital absorption through the construction of new labs, facilities, and houses to draw wealthy students and faculty capable of attracting federal grants. In December 2015, Northeastern filed a letter of intent with the Boston Redevelopment Authority to propose building a residence hall for approximately 800 students. The Boston Globe reported that the project is currently under review by American Campus Communities, the largest developer of private student housing in the U.S. To an economizing university administrator, private developers are very appealing because they assume the debt generated by construction projects. The circular process whereby a large university endowment comprised of financial assets is used to contract a debt-financed independent developer reveals how neoliberalism integrates universities into the circulatory system of capital as circuits of accumulation and investment.[14]

The present relationship between the university and the state flows from the dynamics of financialization. As financialization transforms the role of the United States in the global economy, it appropriates higher education to suit the needs of finance capital. Compared to the ever-expanding administrative apparatus responsible for managing contracts and investments, programs outside of STEM and business fields are considered superfluous. Humanities programs are often downsized and tenure tracks closed to push professors into permanent part-time employment arrangements.[15] Meanwhile, schools like Northeastern and MIT are surrounded by high-tech and business firms that rely on students and research facilities for cheap labor and productive capital.

The position of financial and credit institutions as the financiers of America's productive infrastructure has far-reaching consequences for social institutions like universities with the potential to absorb surplus capital in the form of credit or produce the 21st-century 'information' workforce. Students, and faculty at universities like Northeastern will struggle against market pressures on universities to attract outside investors while downsizing education for as long as the U.S. economy is dominated by finance.

[Feb 12, 2019] Rubio One-Ups Sanders And Schumer With Plan To Curb Corporate Buybacks

Notable quotes:
"... To that end, the senator from Florida on Tuesday unveiled a proposal to limit corporate buybacks. Unlike a plan pitched by Bernie Sanders and Chuck Schumer earlier this month, Rubio's plan would seek to end preferential tax treatment of share buybacks, by decreeing that any money spent on buybacks would be considered - for tax purposes - a dividend paid to shareholders, even if individual investors didn't actually part with any stock. ..."
"... Any tax revenue generated by these changes could then be used to encourage more capital investment, Rubio said. As part of the proposal, Rubio would make a provision in the tax law that allows companies to deduct capital investment permanent (that provision is currently set to expire in 2022). ..."
"... But before lawmakers take their next steps toward regulating how and when companies should return excess capital to shareholders, they might want to take a look at a column recently published by WSJ's "Intelligent Investor" that expounds a concept called "the bladder theory." ..."
"... But the law most likely to govern here is the Law of Unintended Consequences. ..."
"... That companies bought back a record $1 trillion worth of stock last year while employers like GM slashed jobs and closed factories has stoked criticisms of the Trump tax cuts, but as the gulf between the rich and the poor grows ever more wide (a phenomenon for which we can thank the Federal Reserve and other large global central banks) it's worth wondering: facing a simmering backlash to one of the most persistent marginal bids in the market place, have investors already become too complacent about proposals like Rubio's? ..."
"... Worse, since they're largely funded by increased corporate debt (!) they amount to corporate strip-mining by senior management. This is disgraceful and dangerous. The debt will bust some corporations when the inevitable next downturn comes. ..."
"... This buyback cancer, which has grown rapidly because of corrupt SEC thinking and perverse tax incentives, requires urgent treatment. ..."
Feb 12, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

For better or worse, Republican Senator and one-time presidential candidate Marco Rubio isn't about to let the Democrats own the fight to curtail one of the most flagrant examples of post-crisis corporate excess. And if he can carve out a niche for himself that might one day help him credibly pitch himself as a populist firebrand, much like the man who went on to claim the presidency after defeating him in the Republican primary, well, that sounds to us like a win-win.

To that end, the senator from Florida on Tuesday unveiled a proposal to limit corporate buybacks. Unlike a plan pitched by Bernie Sanders and Chuck Schumer earlier this month, Rubio's plan would seek to end preferential tax treatment of share buybacks, by decreeing that any money spent on buybacks would be considered - for tax purposes - a dividend paid to shareholders, even if individual investors didn't actually part with any stock.

According to CNBC , the plan calls for every shareholder to receive an imputed portion of the funds equivalent to the percentage of company stock they own, which, of course, isn't the same thing as directly handing capital to shareholders (it simply changes the tax rate that the company buying back the shares would pay).

Ultimately, Rubio hopes that these changes would discourage companies from buying back stock. Those companies that continued to buy back shares would help contribute to higher revenues by increasing the funds that can be taxed, while also raising the rate at which this money can be taxed. Any tax revenue generated by these changes could then be used to encourage more capital investment, Rubio said. As part of the proposal, Rubio would make a provision in the tax law that allows companies to deduct capital investment permanent (that provision is currently set to expire in 2022).

But before lawmakers take their next steps toward regulating how and when companies should return excess capital to shareholders, they might want to take a look at a column recently published by WSJ's "Intelligent Investor" that expounds a concept called "the bladder theory."

Overall, however, buybacks (and dividends) return excess capital to investors who are free to spend or reinvest it wherever it is most needed. By requiring companies to hang onto their capital instead of paying it out, Congress might - perhaps - encourage them to invest more in workers and communities.

But the law most likely to govern here is the Law of Unintended Consequences. The history of investment by corporate managers with oodles of cash on their hands isn't encouraging. Hugh Liedtke, the late chief executive of Pennzoil, reportedly liked to quip that he believed in "the bladder theory:" Companies should pay out as much cash as possible, so managers couldn't piss all the money away.

That companies bought back a record $1 trillion worth of stock last year while employers like GM slashed jobs and closed factories has stoked criticisms of the Trump tax cuts, but as the gulf between the rich and the poor grows ever more wide (a phenomenon for which we can thank the Federal Reserve and other large global central banks) it's worth wondering: facing a simmering backlash to one of the most persistent marginal bids in the market place, have investors already become too complacent about proposals like Rubio's?

We ask only because the Dow soared more than 350 points on Tuesday, suggesting that, even as Rubio added a bipartisan flavor to the nascent movement to curb buybacks, investors aren't taking these proposals too seriously - at least not yet.

Celotex
This still doesn't address the insider trading aspect of stock buybacks, with insiders front-running the buyback.

vladiki

No one's arguing that if a company's groaning with cash then buybacks make sense. But it's the other 95% of of them that are the problem. Compare the 20 year graphs of buybacks with corporate profits, corporate debt, corporate tax paid, corporate dividends paid.

They tell you what everyone in higher management knows - that they're a tax-free dividend mechanism pretending to be "capital rationalisation".

Worse, since they're largely funded by increased corporate debt (!) they amount to corporate strip-mining by senior management. This is disgraceful and dangerous. The debt will bust some corporations when the inevitable next downturn comes.

This buyback cancer, which has grown rapidly because of corrupt SEC thinking and perverse tax incentives, requires urgent treatment.

james diamond squid

Everyone is in on this ponzi. I'm expecting tax deductions for buying stocks/homes.

[Feb 12, 2019] Bill Gates suggests Ocasio-Cortez's tax plan a 'misfocus' by Brittany De Lea

Feb 12, 2019 | finance.yahoo.com

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates does not think the way to increase U.S. tax revenue is through policies like raising the tax rate on the wealthy to 70 percent – as has been floated by some Democratic lawmakers like New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

During a podcast interview with The Verge , Gates responded to a question about whether raising the top rate to 70 percent in order to fund social programs – like infrastructure initiatives – appeals to him by saying government can be more effective in running social programs, but that's not the best way to raise revenue.

"You finally have some politicians who are so extreme that I'd say, 'No, that's even beyond,'" Gates said. "You do start to create tax dodging and disincentives, and an incentive to have the income show up in other countries and things."

Gates added that the country's richest people often don't pay the highest rate because their wealth doesn't always show up as income, it can be in the value of their stock, for example.

"So it's a misfocus," he added. "If you focus on that, you're missing the picture."

The billionaire businessman, however, does believe there are ways to make the current tax code more progressive. Some of those ways include more progressive policies regarding the estate tax, the tax on capital, or reforming FICA and Social Security taxes. Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders recently released a proposal to expand the estate tax to a rate of 77 percent for those passing on assets in excess of $1 billion.

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Bill Gates also called modern monetary theory (MMT) – which asserts that because the government controls its own currency, there is no need to worry about balancing the budget – "some crazy talk." Ocasio-Cortez recently indicated she was open to supporting MMT.

Gates is one of the richest people in the world. He has said, despite the fact that he has paid more in taxes than most, he should be paying more .

[Feb 12, 2019] Composition of GDP and the USA quest for empire

Feb 12, 2019 | angrybearblog.com

likbez , February 11, 2019 10:01 pm

Below is an interesting note of Timothy Taylor on the composition of GDP.

https://conversableeconomist.blogspot.com/2019/02/why-did-simon-kuznets-want-to-leave.html

== quote ==

Why Did Simon Kuznets Want to Leave Military Spending out of GDP?

Simon Kuznets (Nobel 1971) usually gets the credit for doing as much as anyone to organize our modern thinking about what should be included in GDP, or left out. But I had not known that Kuznets apparently argued for leaving military spending out of GDP, on the grounds that it wasn't actually "consumed" by anyone, but should instead be treated as an intermediate input that supported production and consumption.

=== end ===

In political terms, excluding national defense from GDP would create the impression that the government's statistical agency supports "Peaceniks" -- the critics of "oversized" America's defense budget. It was incompatible with the imperial ambitions of the USA in post-WWII era.

That's probably why his suggestion was killed.

[Feb 12, 2019] Venezuela production should take a larger drop in February.

Feb 12, 2019 | peakoilbarrel.com

Fernando L x Ignored says: 02/12/2019 at 5:36 pm

Venezuela production should take a larger drop in February. Today Interim President Guaidó announced Feb 23 would be the day a big push would be made to push humanitarian aid columns into Venezuela. Collection points for food and medicine are now available in Colombia and Brazil, and others are being prepared.

Maduro moved 700 special forces (FAES) which are usually kept serving as death squads in large cities, to cover the bridges between Ureña in Venezuela and Cucuta in Colombia, with orders to fire on the humanitarian relief trucks. Guaidó responded the border was plenty long and Maduro lacked enough FAES and Cubans to stop the relief from crossing the border. He also pointed out that if Maduro had to use death squads to patrol the border it meant he didn't trust the Army, the National Guard or the National Police, so he asked for volunteers inside Venezuela to help overcome Maduro's thugs with sheer numbers.

Today it became very common to see an individual scream "Maduro!" and the crowd respond "f k you!". It's the way people pass the time at metro stations and while waiting in line. And the police seem to have abandoned the usurper, because they seldom do anything about it.

[Feb 12, 2019] Oil gains 2 percent

Feb 12, 2019 | finance.yahoo.com

Rising oil prices help Venezuela more than it helps the rest of OPEC because Venezuela needs the money more.

[Feb 12, 2019] OPEC January Production Data " Peak Oil Barrel

Feb 12, 2019 | peakoilbarrel.com

OPEC + Russia, down 1,590,000 barrels per day since October, should be enough to move the market. And it does seem to be up about 1.5% this morning.

[Feb 12, 2019] Sanctions, OPEC cuts push Asia's heavy crude oil prices above Brent

Feb 12, 2019 | finance.yahoo.com

Middle East oil benchmarks Dubai and DME Oman have nudged above prices for Brent crude, an unusual move as U.S. sanctions on Venezuela and Iran along with output cuts by OPEC tighten supply of medium to heavy oil, traders and analysts said.

Heavier grades, mainly produced in the Middle East, Canada and Latin America, typically have a high sulphur content and are usually cheaper than Brent, the benchmark for lighter oil in the Atlantic Basin.

[Feb 12, 2019] Watch MSNBC Host Squirm During Live Update On No Collusion Intel Committee News

Feb 12, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

And in a prior NBC News article Tuesday morning, Dilanian spelled out :

After two years and 200 interviews , the Senate Intelligence Committee is approaching the end of its investigation into the 2016 election, having uncovered no direct evidence of a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia , according to both Democrats and Republicans on the committee.

MSNBC anchor Hallie Jackson and her guest panelists' faces looked visibly confused and uncomfortable as they learned the Senate report is going in the opposite direction of everything MSNBC and other mainstream outlets have been breathlessly reporting on a near 24/7 basis.

More importantly, if this is a precursor of what the Mueller report concludes in a few weeks/months, the TV station that built its current reputation on the premise of Russian collusion, may have no option but to go on indefinite hiatus.

Watch the segment below, with host Hallie Jackson appearing to grow exasperated by the 2:20 mark : "If and when the president, as he may inevitably do, points to these conclusions and says look, the Senate intelligence committee found I am not guilty of conspiracy... he would be correct in saying that? "

https://www.youtube.com/embed/a4DKItxvKfU

Dilanian noted that while the Republican chair of the committee made what he characterized as "partisan" comments the week prior, it turned out be unanimous fact. "What I found," he said, "is that Democrats don't dispute that characterization ."

But perhaps sensing how "contrary" to the network's own hysterical 'Russiagate' coverage his reporting was, he tried to soften the blow, saying, "But, again, no direct proof of a conspiracy. As one democratic aide said to me, 'we never thought we were going to find a Democrat between Trump and Vladimir Putin saying let's collude, but the question is how do we interpret all these various contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia.'"

Hallie Jackson followed with further probing: "Not to put too fine a point on it, but I want to make sure I'm understanding this..." and asked "If and when the president, as he may inevitably do, points to these conclusions and says look, the Senate intelligence committee found I'm not guilty of conspiracy... he would be correct in saying that? "

Her face looking rather incredulous at this point, Dilanian responded by invoking the Mueller investigation, reassuring her his inquiry is not complete and likely could uncover more information. But then the bottom line: "That said, Trump will claim vindication through this, and he'll be partially right," he said. But Dilanian also noted the Senate intel committee has access to classified material, which means "if there was an intercept between officers suggesting they were conspiring with the Trump campaign, [the committee] would see that. And that has not emerged."

"So that evidence does not exist, and Trump will claim vindication," he repeated.

Yet after all this, during the full segment Vice News guest panelist Shawna Thomas actually invoked impeachment in what appeared a desperate attempt to grasp for anything . "There's two things I question about [the report]," she began.

"Number one, if and when the report finally comes out from the Senate intelligence committee, is there anything in there that will cause, especially some of these new House Dems, to start to clamor, even if there isn't 'conspiracy' or 'collusion', for impeachment?" said Thomas.

But then she tried to deflate the whole thing, upsetting as it was for purveyors of the collusion narrative: "The other thing is, based on what Ken is saying, it's all stuff we knew already," she said.

Right... cause in MSNBC's Russiagate-land "the walls are closing in" on Trump, constantly. Except the network just woke up to the reality that it's not the case.

We only wonder what Rachel Maddow will be left with after this.

[Feb 12, 2019] Regime Change Made in the USA by Steve Ellner

Looks like events have complex dynamics and Washington did not fully understand possible blowback from its actions to unseat Maduro.
As usual Trump administration actions are not consistent with the rule of law and elementary knowledge of international relations. It's pure imperial bulling and as such it might well backfire. In addition to the albatross of John Bolton around his neck, the neocons put Elliott Abrams? looks like there are no decent diplomats/ bureaucrats willing to work (and risk their careers) with Trump...
Notable quotes:
"... Furthermore, Venezuelans will perceive any sign of economic recovery under a Guaidó government as made possible by aid, if not handouts, from Washington, designed to discredit Maduro's socialist government, though such assistance will undoubtedly be used to further U.S. economic and political interests. In fact, U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton has indicated that he is already calling on oil companies to opt for investments in Venezuela once Maduro is overthrown. ..."
"... The U.S. effort to encourage the military to step in was again made evident on Wednesday in a tweet by John Bolton . ..."
"... The Wall Street Journal ..."
"... The Trump administration's blatant and undisguised interventionism may in fact backfire and help Maduro counter his sagging poll numbers, which last October the polling firm Datanálisis reported was 23 percent. Maduro recently lashed out on Twitter at the close nexus between Washington and the opposition, saying "Aren't you embarrassed at yourselves, ashamed at the way every day by Twitter Mike Pence, John Bolton, Mike Pompeo tell you what you should do." ..."
"... Anti-imperialism is, of course, a major cornerstone of the Chavista movement, born from resentment of U.S. interventionism and heavy-handedness that had for decades controlled many of Venezuela's resources and dictated its economic policies. The maneuvers of the Trump administration and its allies only double down on this narrative, and are counterproductive at best when it comes to solving the crisis. Their actions also risk fanning the flames of anti-Americanism throughout the continent ..."
"... Meanwhile, President Donald Trump appointed neocon Elliott Abrams as special envoy to Venezuela. As a longtime U.S. diplomat, Abrams has in many ways personified the application of the Monroe Doctrine with his blatant disregard for human rights violations and the principle of non-intervention in Guatemala , Nicaragua, and El Salvador in the 1980s and his alleged involvement in the 2002 coup against Hugo Chávez. ..."
"... While condemning anti-democratic actions and fraudulent elections in Venezuela, these sanctions ignore the rule of law. The Maduro government was never given the opportunity to defend itself and legal procedures were not followed ..."
"... Yet regardless of short-term results of U.S. support for Guaidó, the final outcome will be negative. There are a number of reasons why: first, it bolsters the position of the most radical elements of the opposition led by the VP party, thus contributing to the fragmentation of the anti-Chavista movement. Second, it attaches a "made in U.S.A." label to those positioned to govern should Maduro fall. ..."
"... the appeal to the military to save Venezuela has terrifying implications for a continent with a long history of military rule. And finally, the seizure of Venezuelan assets, which have then been turned over to a political ally, violates sacred norms of property rights, and in the process erodes confidence in the system of private property ..."
"... NACLA: Report on the Americas ..."
"... Latin American Perspectives ..."
"... The intention behind the pressure directed at Venezuela is quite clear: the current government is being told to resign and hand power over to a selected member of the opposition. To advance this strategy, various degrees of, frankly, organized crime style threats of punishment or positive inducement are daily publicized, iterated by US public officials. ..."
Feb 12, 2019 | consortiumnews.com

Trump's backing of Juan Guaidó's shadow government could weaken the opposition's longstanding support among the majority of Venezuelans, writes Steve Ellner.

Since its outset, the Trump administration has ratcheted up pressure on Venezuela and radicalized its positions. In the process, the Venezuelan opposition has become more and more associated with -- and dependent on -- Washington and its allies. An example is the opposition protests that occurred last week. The actions were timed to coincide with the European Union's " ultimatum ," which stated they would recognize the shadow government of Juan Guaidó if President Nicolás Maduro had not called elections within a week's time.

The opposition's most radical sectors, which include Guaidó's Voluntad Popular party (VP) along with former presidential candidate María Corina Machado, have always had close ties with the United States. Guaidó, as well as VP head Leopoldo López and the VP's Carlos Vecchio, who is the shadow government's chargé d'affaires in Washington, were educated in prestigious U.S. universities -- not uncommon among Latin American economic and political elites. The ties between the opposition and international actors are strong: last weekend, Vecchio called the campaign to unseat Maduro "an international effort ." At the same time, Guaidó, referring to opposition-called protests, stated "today, February 2, we are going to meet again in the streets to show our gratitude to the support that the European Parliament has given us." In doing so, Guaidó explicitly connected the authority of outside countries to his own assumption of leadership.

The outcome of Washington's actions is bound to be unfavorable in a number of ways, regardless of whether or not they achieve regime change. Most importantly, a government headed by Guaidó will be perceived both by Venezuelans and international observers as "made in U.S.A." Further, the opposition's association with foreign powers has enabled the Maduro leadership to keep discontented members of the Chavista movement in their ranks.

Furthermore, Venezuelans will perceive any sign of economic recovery under a Guaidó government as made possible by aid, if not handouts, from Washington, designed to discredit Maduro's socialist government, though such assistance will undoubtedly be used to further U.S. economic and political interests. In fact, U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton has indicated that he is already calling on oil companies to opt for investments in Venezuela once Maduro is overthrown. As he told Fox News , "we're in conversation with major American companies now It will make a big difference to the United States economically if we could have American oil companies really invest in and produce the oil capabilities in Venezuela."

Washington Dictating Strategy

Either explicitly or implicitly, Washington is dictating strategy, or at least providing input into its formulation. One of the challenges the opposition faces is the need to demonstrate to rank-and-file Venezuelans that the current offensive against Maduro will be different from the disastrous attempts of 2014 and 2017, when anti-government leaders assured protesters that the president would be toppled in a matter of days. The opposition leadership claims that this time is different for two reasons. First, the regional Right turn has deepened, and the opposition is more able than ever to rely on decisive support from Washington and other governments, regardless of how democratic they are -- see the neofascist credentials of Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro .

Second, the opposition is counting on the backing of military officers, particularly lower-ranking ones who have allegedly lost patience with Maduro. In addition to some defections, junior officers attempted to stage a military coup just two days before mass opposition protests on Jan. 23 when Guaidó declared himself president. Previously, the Venezuelan opposition expressed a degree of contempt for military officers for their unwillingness to defy the Chavista government. The opposition's new perspective dates back to Trump's three meetings with military rebels and his statement , made alongside President Iván Duque of Colombia in September of last year, that the Maduro government "could be toppled very quickly by the military if the military decides to do that." The U.S. effort to encourage the military to step in was again made evident on Wednesday in a tweet by John Bolton .

Recently, Guaidó made a similar offer to military officers, implying continuity and closeness between Washington and the shadow government.

Also noteworthy is that Guaidó and other VP leaders are closer to Washington than the rest of the opposition. The Wall Street Journal reported that Guaidó consulted Vice President Mike Pence the night before his self-proclamation as president on Jan. 23. According to ex-presidential candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski the majority of the opposition parties were not aware of Guaidó's intentions and in fact did not support the idea.

Calling on Military

To make matters worse, the VP-led opposition is openly working hand-in-glove with Washington. Last week Guaidó announced that he would attempt to transport humanitarian aid the United States has deposited on the Colombian and Brazilian borders into Venezuela. He called on the Venezuelan military to disobey orders from the Maduro government by facilitating the passage of goods, while Maduro ordered it blocked. While playing political benefactor, Washington was clearly manipulating the optics of the situation to discredit Maduro and rally more international support for Guaído. In an apparent rebuke to Washington and Guaidó, UN spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric on Wednesday insisted that the humanitarian aid be " depoliticized. "

Opposition leaders and the Trump government are also working together to isolate Venezuela economically throughout the world. Julio Borges, a leading member of the opposition, has campaigned to convince international financial institutions to shun Venezuelan transactions and has urged Great Britain to refuse to repatriate Venezuelan gold stored in London. President Maduro has responded by calling on the attorney general to open judicial proceedings against Borges on grounds of treason. Along similar lines, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross are currently attempting to convince international business interests to deny the Venezuelan government access to national assets in their possession.

The Trump administration's blatant and undisguised interventionism may in fact backfire and help Maduro counter his sagging poll numbers, which last October the polling firm Datanálisis reported was 23 percent. Maduro recently lashed out on Twitter at the close nexus between Washington and the opposition, saying "Aren't you embarrassed at yourselves, ashamed at the way every day by Twitter Mike Pence, John Bolton, Mike Pompeo tell you what you should do."

Cornerstone of Chavista Movement

Anti-imperialism is, of course, a major cornerstone of the Chavista movement, born from resentment of U.S. interventionism and heavy-handedness that had for decades controlled many of Venezuela's resources and dictated its economic policies. The maneuvers of the Trump administration and its allies only double down on this narrative, and are counterproductive at best when it comes to solving the crisis. Their actions also risk fanning the flames of anti-Americanism throughout the continent. It wouldn't be the first time: In 1958, then-Vice President Richard Nixon was attacked by a riotous crowd in Caracas, and a decade later Nelson Rockefeller's fact-finding tour arranged by then-President Nixon faced off with angry disruptive protests. Both incidents were responses to Washington's self-serving support for regimes that came to power through undemocratic means, in some cases with U.S. involvement.

In its strategy towards Venezuela, Washington is invoking not only its Cold War policy but the Monroe Doctrine and its view of Latin America as the U.S.' "backyard," -- a claim that is especially anathema throughout the region. Indeed, Pence told Fox News , in answering a question about why Trump is withdrawing troops from Syria and Afghanistan while intervening in Venezuela: "President Trump has always had a very different view of our hemisphere. He's long understood that the United States has a special responsibility to support and nurture democracy and freedom in this hemisphere and that's a longstanding tradition."

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump appointed neocon Elliott Abrams as special envoy to Venezuela. As a longtime U.S. diplomat, Abrams has in many ways personified the application of the Monroe Doctrine with his blatant disregard for human rights violations and the principle of non-intervention in Guatemala , Nicaragua, and El Salvador in the 1980s and his alleged involvement in the 2002 coup against Hugo Chávez.

Finally, Trump's decision regarding CITGO, a U.S.-based company owned by Venezuela's state oil company, speaks to a dangerous precedent. Last week he declared that jurisdiction over CITGO would be turned over to the shadow government, and appealed to other countries to follow similar steps. While condemning anti-democratic actions and fraudulent elections in Venezuela, these sanctions ignore the rule of law. The Maduro government was never given the opportunity to defend itself and legal procedures were not followed.

It is always a dubious exercise to guess at Trump's intentions. His actions in Venezuela could be designed to divert attention from the multiple probes into his own unethical behavior, or they may be a way to draw attention away from the utter fiasco of U.S. interventions in the Middle East, from Libya to Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. Trump may also view his Venezuela policy as a quick fix to Make America Great Again. Along similar lines, Trump evidently sees the downfall of the Maduro government as the ultimate proof that socialism doesn't work. He indicated as much in his State of the Union address when he used the topic of Venezuela as a springboard for declaring: "We are born free, and we will stay free America will never be a socialist country."

Yet regardless of short-term results of U.S. support for Guaidó, the final outcome will be negative. There are a number of reasons why: first, it bolsters the position of the most radical elements of the opposition led by the VP party, thus contributing to the fragmentation of the anti-Chavista movement. Second, it attaches a "made in U.S.A." label to those positioned to govern should Maduro fall.

The stigma would undoubtedly scuttle their chances of maintaining longstanding majority support and in doing so would undermine their authority and ability to govern. Third, the appeal to the military to save Venezuela has terrifying implications for a continent with a long history of military rule. And finally, the seizure of Venezuelan assets, which have then been turned over to a political ally, violates sacred norms of property rights, and in the process erodes confidence in the system of private property. These four considerations are an indication of the multiple adverse impacts that the Trump administration's rash approach to the Maduro government will have on the United States, Venezuela, and the rest of the region.

Steve Ellner is a retired professor from Venezuela's University of the East, a long-time contributor to NACLA: Report on the Americas , and currently associate managing editor of Latin American Perspectives . Among his over a dozen books on Latin America is his edited "The Pink Tide Experiences: Breakthroughs and Shortcomings in Twenty-First Century Latin America" (Rowman & Littlefield, 2019).

jaycee , February 12, 2019 at 1:34 pm
The intention behind the pressure directed at Venezuela is quite clear: the current government is being told to resign and hand power over to a selected member of the opposition. To advance this strategy, various degrees of, frankly, organized crime style threats of punishment or positive inducement are daily publicized, iterated by US public officials.

The government-in-waiting is supposedly preparing new elections, at least that's wha they say – but Guaido's representative in Washington told reporters last week that such elections might happen by the end of the year, maybe not, but a new government's priorities would be changing the structural underpinnings of the country's economy.

So the new government will be installed and will swiftly dismantle all of the popular programs instituted by the Chavistas over the past twenty years. That is, a political platform which has lost elections consistently for these past twenty years will be engaged without popular mandate, and before any new elections will be permitted. That's a coup, not a restoration of democracy.

[Feb 12, 2019] Pelosi Mocks Ocasio-Cortez Green New Deal

It is true that "national, social, industrial and economic mobilization at a scale not seen since World War II and the New Deal," is needed...
Feb 12, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Ocasio-Cortez is rolling out the "Green New Deal" with Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA), which she says calls for a "national, social, industrial and economic mobilization at a scale not seen since World War II and the New Deal," and is "a wartime-level, just economic mobilization plan to get to 100% renewable energy."

The plan also aims "to promote justice and equity by stopping current, preventing future, and repairing historic oppression of indigenous communities, communities of color, migrant communities" and other "frontline and vulnerable communities. "

Ocasio-Cortez's plan, which has several doesn't outline specific policy proposals (they'll "work it out" we guess), and promises grandiose measures using broad brush strokes such as achieving "net-zero greenhouse gas emissions through a fair and just transition for all communities and workers. Everybody gets a job, clean water, healthy food, and "access to nature," whatever that means.

Where it does get slightly more specific, the resolution, obtained by NPR , mandates among other things (via NPR ):

For a deeper analysis which we noted earlier, click here .

[Feb 12, 2019] Social anger at neoliberalization as a material force in 2002 elections

Feb 12, 2019 | angrybearblog.com

likbez, February 12, 2019 8:11 pm

Daniel,

For decades we have heard about the loss of industrial production throughout what is called the "Rust Belt". It's presented, even as recent as the prior presidential election as a relative regional problem that only began post-Reagan.

With all due respect, it looks like you forgot that at some point quantity turns into quality, so making simple extrapolations might well result in an oversimplification of the current situation.

You essentially ignore the current reality of rising popular anger, and the fact of breaking of the social contract by neoliberal (and first of all financial) oligarchy, which is as detached from "deplorable" as French aristocracy ("let them eat cakes" mentality.)

In 2019 it is clear that the USA completely and irreversibly moved from an economy based on high wages and reliable benefits to a system of low wages and cheap consumer prices, to the detriment of workers, which means that social contract was broken ( https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/12/the-past-and-future-of-americas-social-contract/282511/ ).

While less dangerous for the oligarchy then when the USSR used to exist, the level of social anger comes into play as never before. In 2016 became a material factor that decided the elections. I do not see that 2020 will be different.

The most detrimental effects from outsourcing and offshoring will come to the forefront probably in 10 years or so when the oil price might be well over $100 per barrel. But even now this huge social experiment on live people in redistribution of wealth up turn out to be detrimental for the unity of the country (and not only to the unity).

The current squabble between globalist, Clinton wing of Democratic Party allied with the corporatists with the Republican Party (with supporting intelligence agencies) and rag-tag forces of the opposition is a good indication of the power of this resentment.

Spearheaded by intelligence agencies (with material support from British government ) attack on Trump (aka Russiagate) is the attack on the idea of an alternative for neoliberal globalization, not so much on the personality or real or perceived Trump actions; the brutal, Soviet-style attack on the deviation from neoliberal status quo directed on the political elimination of the opposition by elimination of Trump from the political scene. Much like Show Trials were in the USSR (in this case people were charged to be British spies ;-)

There are two countries now co-existing within the USA borders. Which often speak different languages. One is the country of professionals, managers, and capital owners (let's say top 10%). The other is the country of common people (aka "deplorable", or those who are below median wage -- ~$30K in 2017; ratio of average and median wage is now around 65% ).

With the large part of the latter living as if they live in a third world country. That's definitely true for McDonald, Wall-mart (and all retail) employees (say, all less than $15 per hour employees, or around half of US workers).

I think the level of anger of "deplorable" will play the major role in 2020 elections and might propel Warren candidacy. That's why now some MSM are trying to derail her by exploiting the fact that she listed her heritage incorrectly on several applications.

But when the anger of "deplorable" is in play, then, as Donald Trump aptly quipped, one could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue, shoot somebody and do not lose any voters. I think this is now true for Warren too.

Here are some old, but still interesting, facts circa Nov 2011 ( https://www.businessinsider.com/sad-facts-deindustrialization-america-2011-11 ):

-- The United States has lost approximately 42,400 factories since 2001
-- The United States has lost a total of about 5.5 million manufacturing jobs since October 2000
-- From 1999 to 2008, employment at the foreign affiliates of US parent companies increased an astounding 30 percent to 10.1 million
-- In 1959, manufacturing represented 28 percent of U.S. economic output. In 2008, it represented 11.5 percent
-- As of the end of 2009, less than 12 million Americans worked in manufacturing. The last time less than 12 million Americans were employed in manufacturing was in 1941. The United States has lost a whopping 32 percent of its manufacturing jobs since the year 2000
-- As of 2010 consumption accounts for 70 percent of GDP. Of this 70 percent, over half is spent on services
-- In 2001, the United States ranked fourth in the world in per capita broadband Internet use. Today it ranks 15th
-- Asia produces 84% of printed circuit boards used worldwide.
-- In September 2011, the Census Bureau said 46.2 million Americans are now living in poverty, which is the highest number of poor Americans in the 52 years that records have been kept

NOTE: Programming jobs in the USA are expected to shrink in 2019 ( -21,300 ) so it is incorrect to look at IT industry as a potential compensating industry for manufacturing layoffs. ( https://money.usnews.com/careers/best-jobs/rankings/best-technology-jobs )

[Feb 12, 2019] Blain The Current Iteration Of 'Capitalism' Has Spawned Increased Global Poverty, Income Inequality, Urban Deprivation, Squal

Feb 12, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Blain's Morning Porridge, submitted by Bill Blain

What a fascinating world we live in.

Amazon boss Jeff Bezos exposing himself, and exposes the National Inquirer for attempted blackmail. A young senator, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, snaring the headlines and proposing a preposterous New Green Deal – while further splitting the Democrats. Europe plunging back into recession. The UK no closer to a Brexit Deal (hang-on, that's not a headline that's just normal..) Deutsche Bank paying up to demonstrate it can borrow in markets. Santander facing a Euro 50 bln breach of promise lawsuit from Andreas Orcel (proving the Spanish banking adage: At Santander – you are either a Botin or a.. servant..) So much out there

Are all these things linked? Yes – the world we live in determines the functionality of global markets. You might believe Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos was the victim of an Inquirer effort to "catch and kill" a story the paper has on Mr Trump's activities in Moscow, or you might believe Deutsche Bank's problems are part of a deeper malaise across European banking. Whatever the news changes our perceptions.

... ... ...

It's a difficult one: the current iteration of capitalism has spawned increased Global Poverty, Income Inequality, Urban Deprivation, Squalor and Filth. Yet, somehow, such iniquity isn't actually bad for markets? Should I therefore hurrah the continuation of low rates as good for markets and ignore the bad for people thing? What's to worry about when share-buybacks push up stock prices, and the Fed is keeping rates artificially low to i) placate the president, and ii) counter the president's trade policies.

Long term – even my most hardened sink or sink free-market capitalist critics admit we face a disruptive inequality crisis. We can address it sooner or later. The imbalances are growing and the rules of mean reversion apply as much to society and politics as they do to markets ! Long-term markets would probably function better if everyone is positively motivated. Adam Smith, the father of modern capitalism and economics got it. So do most people – but the sad reality is Change is Difficult – especially when the market leads opinion!

I've been thinking about the "hows" of making the world a better place all weekend, but I don't know enough 'ologys or medicine to cure drug abuse, chronic greed, urban mental illness, virtue-signaling philanthropy, or how to reform out education systems and society to improve everyone's opportunities.

What I do suspect is markets are building up great long-term underlying weaknesses, but in the short-terms low interest rates for longer is a distortion, but positive for financial asset prices That can't be a good thing?


silverwolf888 , 20 minutes ago link

Shallow people and trolls are fond of saying, of capitalism, "this is not capitalism." In 1964 Professor Quigley (Tragedy And Hope) identified 5 stages of capitalism, and we have come a long way since then, for the worse. But, like the current communist Chinese, it is all capitalism, stock markets, banks and all. I believe Marx was right when he said communism and capitalism are the same thing, at a different stage. We need some kind of free market. But as to this capitalism thing, it is still a new phenomenon in history, and it is not working.

jutah , 57 minutes ago link

for all you keyboard commando defenders of Adam Smith one thing you fail to comprehend is that life is about more than what you can just buy and sell, that is the point. Failing to recognize this fact will only hasten your demise. On top of that, if 'true capitalism' is not what we have now you say, which is a valid point, then how did we get here? That is how it started out and now look where it ended up. It was flawed from the start because of the power of greed in order to purchase influence and infiltrate your 'pure system'.

Caloot , 2 hours ago link

Where's Capitalism? This country is more fascist than Italy during Mussolini. So again. This itineration ? This what, version? There aren't flavors to freedom , fknut.

itstippy , 3 hours ago link

There's something amiss in our money system and it's killing us. Why, in a system of Fractional Reserve Banking, do the banks no longer need or want savers to deposit savings with them? What happened?

For decades the various commercial banks courted depositors like eager suiters. They offered competing interest rates on savings accounts, promoted their 5 and 10 year CDs, even offered free toasters for opening a new savings account. Something fundamental changed with the repeal of Glass-Steagal in November, 1999. Banks now promote their "services" - which cost money - and their loans. Mortgage loans, HELOCs, car loans, student loans, credit cards, all manner of loans. We're inundated with offers from banks to loan us money.

Prior to the repeal of Glass-Steagal the saying was, "The only way to get a loan is to prove you don't need one."

HaveDream , 3 hours ago link

Long term speaking, global 'capitalism' is really an alliance between global bankers and one strong country at a time, to use that country's government to blow a national money and asset bubble. ('Imperial' is probably better than 'national.')

First it was the Dutch Empire, then it was the British, and then it was America. When one top country's strength is spent by debt, corruption and easy living, the bankers move on to the next one.

Things look bad today because we're near the end of one global empire but the next one (India) is still some way off. The elites have to do whatever ad hoc trickery to keep the current charade going, absent real strength and growth from a new national bubble.

[Feb 12, 2019] Angry Bear Hey Rustbelt and beyond, Losing factories is not new

Feb 12, 2019 | angrybearblog.com

likbez , February 11, 2019 3:03 pm

Until neoliberal elite stops its brutal squeeze of workers, expect collapsing of the social contract. The country was already in a pre-revolutionary state in 2016 with the net result of election of Trump over Clinton (and, given a chance, people would have chosen Sanders over Trump).

The color revolution against Trump, which is underway, is, as s side effect, undermining of influence of neoliberal MSM (aka "fake news" ) and social unity of the nation. When the President calls WaPo "Bezos blog" that's delegitimization (and naked Bezos photos does not help either) When FBI is compared to STASI and Mueller investigation is called a witch hunt that points on the deeply divided country with the fractured neoliberal elite experiencing the crisis of legitimacy.

But the basic problem is that it costs a lot of money to cultivate a segment of the market now as it involves creation of a group of new consumers. And the more sophisticated the segment is, the more expensive it is. If workers are squashed (good jobs are displaced by McJob and/or permatemps) you face stagnation as top 10% can't replace bottom 80% as consumers.

That's probably why the US economy can't escape secular stagnation and reported growth is within the error margin of measurements and heavily depends on the inflation metric and "expansive" treatment of GDP (gambling, financial industries, military expenses, etc)

Paul Krugman said the US economy may be heading into a recession On the positive side that might end Trump run and give Warren a chance. On the negative it will amplify the current inequality problems and might provoke social unrest.

Bert Schlitz , February 11, 2019 3:13 pm

Sorry, Lilbez, Trump didn't win anything and was a neoliberal invention which coincides with evangelical voters. Why you keep on missing that point? Don't you want to admit that?

Another little fact, Sprague's growth peaked in 1959. It actually was bleeding jobs by the late 60's which triggered the real strikes. Maybe, just maybe that growth was a illusion of the war driven destruction.

spencer , February 11, 2019 4:20 pm

Bert -- the first death of manufacturing was the New England textile and shoe industries in the 1920's–1940s. Those industries finally became too small to have a significant negative impact in New England in the 1960s and 1970s. Boston and other New England areas started rebounding in the 1960s, largely on the back of aerospace and other technology intensive industries. But the 1970 recession was lead by the fall in those industries. So the Massachusetts Miracle appeared to start with the recovery from the 1970 recession. What made Mass different. One by the 1960s shoes and textiles has become so small that they were no longer a significant drag on the economy. Second, Massachusetts continued its very large investment in education, and it was not only MIT, but throughout the public secondary and college level schools. So it had the educated population to move into the very early stages of the emerging information technology industries that later came to be known as the Massachusetts Miracle. So Mass went through the death of its key manufacturing industries earlier than other regions, but continued to invest heavily in education, something I'm afraid I do not see in the Midwest. Moreover, in the Midwest the traditional industries are still large enough that weakness in them still has a significant negative impact on GDP. Moreover, the growth we do see in autos and other Midwestern industries is occurring in the South and does not help the Midwest much -- Alabama is now the second most important manufacturer of cars and light trucks.

There is a certain validity to your analysis, but it is off by enough to be misleading.

Kaleberg , February 11, 2019 7:53 pm

Spencer is right about manufacturing vanishing over a much longer time frame. Manufacturing jobs have been vanishing since the early 20th century. A lot of this is increased efficiency. It used to take over 100 work-hours to build a car. Now it's down to 20 and still falling. New England industrialized early, and by the 1970s the dead/dying shoe industry was a major item in the presidential debates. In 'Still the Iron Age', Smil points out that the steel industry has probably gained an order of magnitude in efficiency over the last 30 years, but this kind of thing never gets press coverage. Basic oxygen furnaces and direct reduction or iron don't make good news stories.

The places that have recovered first emphasized education and having a broad portfolio. Who would have imagined how important furniture design and manufacturing would be to Los Angeles recovery from the aerospace collapse after the Cold War? The big difference with our "Rust Belt" is the overall massive level of denial combined with vicious racism and antisemitism: "If we could just kill enough blacks and Jews, they'll start making washing machines here again."

[Feb 12, 2019] Soros Panics Over Populist Revolt EU Is Sleepwalking Into Oblivion

Feb 12, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Vince Clortho , 11 minutes ago link

Typical globalist propaganda. Portrays the situation in Europe as an epic battle between Good and Evil , with the "Evil" being the patriotic people with core values of family, home and country. If this were a Star Wars movie, Soros would be Darth Vader.

Le_Zabroso , 18 minutes ago link

[ BEGIN SOROS TRANSLATION ] = [ IF WE DON'T CHEAT WE ARE FUCKED ]

jeffglobal , 9 minutes ago link

When has our ruling classes or those powers behind them not cheated to maintain power and rule?

Do you think our votes are counted? Do you think any gov't rules as their laws state?

That's the difference between us and them. They don't care, they will win at any cost and they are willing to take great risks...which is easier if you never get prosecuted, I do admit that's ridiculous. It's like having a time machine, and running things over and over until you win. Hence why we have all those movies with those themes, it's to make us more able to accept their cheating.

jeffglobal , 17 minutes ago link

This is one of the greatest expressions of double speak I've seen in a while.

Soros, his genetic line, his organizations all must be removed like a metastatic cancer from the body of Earth.

He doesn't even address the plebs like us in the whole article. He addresses the minions in positions of power, and bemoans how they have not changed their local governances into narratives that would pre-emptively disarm the populations, by not even allowing them to argue against those that subjugate them.

" The party system of individual states reflects the divisions that mattered in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, such as the conflict between capital and labor. But the cleavage that matters most today is between pro- and anti-European forces."

He further admonishes the EU government no one has voted for, that if they can't enforce compliance through force, they are doomed. Hence, I think the Franco-German creation of an EU army, already deployed by the Yellow Vests under the EU insignia (holy ****), has started.

" The EU can impose the acquis communautaire (the body of European Union law) on applicant countries, but lacks sufficient capacity to enforce member states' compliance. "

The only reason why they are required to use force, was because he points out, the EU government rushed the implementation of their diktats too quickly giving rise to "populist ideas," like my country shouldn't be invaded by turd world ****, and I should be able to have a voice in how I work, live and am governed. Populism is so ananthema to dictatorship, huh, Soros?

" The EU made a fatal mistake in 2017 by strictly enforcing the Dublin Agreement, which unfairly burdens countries like Italy where migrants first enter the EU. This drove Italy's predominantly pro-European and pro-immigration electorate into the arms of the anti-European League party and Five Star Movement in 2018. "

The world plebs and populations are in an existential fight, and I don't think, like he states they are aware how close they are to lose everything.

" nor ordinary citizens seem to understand that we are experiencing a revolutionary moment, "

Well, plebs what will it be? Death on your knees or a chance to survive on your feet? You are not fighting your local governments, but a transnational organization of corporations and moneymen, who are so few, it would be quite simple to eliminate and simpler to degrade by modest pruning.

Buck Shot , 18 minutes ago link

The former East Germany votes against this **** because they saw where it led before.

jeffglobal , 4 minutes ago link

Merkel was from East Germany. She is applying the plan as old as the beginning of the Fascism of Nazi Germany. In fact, finally, people in the EU are wondering if the EU is just an extention of the Reich.

East Germany fights the EU? I wouldn't take his word for it...Soros is using words that have different "professional" definitions than us "laypeople" outside the group of psychopaths use.

Be most careful while handling the most dangerous.

kellys_eye , 19 minutes ago link

The EU is far too much 'do what I say, not what I do' kind of place. It could have been a decent trade organisation and with close trade comes close co-operation - all without the unnecessary and cumbersome, let alone corrupt, politics.

The EU is now simply 'Germany'. The leader of the EU is, plainly, Merkel. The concept is purely Communist.

It's past time it was ended.

eatthebanksters , 24 minutes ago link

Soros is a ******* dolt. He has no one to blame but himself and his buddies in Brussels. They tried to push the changes to fast and it backfired. Sorry Georgie boy, not only will you not be master of the universe, but I'm betting those bets you laid down are going to beak you. I read your recent missive and it has the cold sweat of panic dripping from the words. You lose, and I'm not even sorry you evil ****.

Moribundus , 24 minutes ago link

1, There should not be EU parliament elections. National parliaments must elect their representatives to €parliament.

The same apply to US congress.

Reason for this is that The European Parliament is not a parliament, we all know it. It's a game on parliament. One still has the urge to say that every opportunity should be used, that is, the European Parliament - in this respect, it does not matter who will be elected.

But I am very skeptical of importance with the majority being a substitute for second-rate politicians who do not have a sufficient role at home.

[Feb 12, 2019] How Neoliberalism Is Normalising Hostility

Notable quotes:
"... By Couze Venn, Emeritus Professor of Cultural Theory in the Media & Communications Department at Goldsmiths, University of London, and Associate Research Fellow at Johannesburg University. His recent book is After Capital, Sage, 2018. Originally published at openDemocracy ..."
"... From working conditions to welfare policies, from immigration to the internet – this zero sum game of winners and losers benefits only the far right. ..."
"... Image: Homeless man with commuters walking past, Waterloo Station, London. Credit: Jessica Mulley/Flickr, CC 2.0. ..."
"... As Ha Joon Chang has shown, by the 1990s, financial capitalism had become the dominant power, prioritising the interest of shareholders, and incentivising managers through share ownership and bonuses schemes. ..."
"... Meanwhile, neoliberal political economy gradually became the new orthodoxy, increasing its impact through right wing thinktanks and government advisors and spreading its influence in academia and economic thought. Its initial success in terms of growth and prosperity in the 1990s and turn of the century consolidated its hold over the economy until the crash of 2008. ..."
"... political economy ..."
"... Neoliberalism has promoted a self-centeredness that pushes Adam Smith-style individualism to an extreme, turning selfishness into a virtue, as Ayn Rand has done. It is a closed ontology since it does not admit the other, the stranger, into the circle of those towards whom we have a duty of responsibility and care. It thus completes capitalism as a zero-sum game of winners and 'losers'. Apart from the alt-right in the USA, we find its exemplary advocates amongst leading Brexiteers in the UK, backed by dark money. It is not the social democratic compromise of capitalism with a human face that could support the welfare state. Seen in this context, there is an essential affinity between alt-right, neoliberal political economy and neo- fascisms, punctuated by aggressivity, intolerance, exclusion, expulsion and generalised hostility. ..."
Feb 12, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

How Neoliberalism Is Normalising Hostility Posted on February 12, 2019 by Yves Smith Yves here. Even though this post paints with very bright colors, I imagine most readers will agree with the argument it makes about the destructive social impact of neoliberalism.

Some additional points to consider:

Neoliberalism puts markets above all else. In this paradigm, you are supposed to uproot yourself if work dries up where you live or if there are better opportunities elsewhere. The needs of your family or extended family are treated as secondary. And your community? Fuggedaboudit. And this attitude has also led to what is arguably the most corrosive practice, of companies treating employees like tissue paper, to be trashed after use.

Companies have increasingly adopted a transactional posture towards customers. This shift happened on Wall Street as a result of deregulation in the 1980s (Rule 415; if anyone cares, I'll elaborate in comments). The reduced orientation towards treating customers well as a sound business practice, and merely going through the form is particularly pronounced at the retail level. I can't tell you how many times I have had to go through ridiculous hoops merely to get a vendor to live up to its agreement, and even though I am plenty tenacious, I don't always prevail. It didn't used to be anywhere near this bad. And this is corrosive. Not only are customers effectively treated as if they can be abused, the people in the support ops wind up being on the receiving end of well deserved anger even though they aren't the proper target. The phone reps are almost certainly not told that they are perpetrating an abuse (which then leads to the question of who in the organization has set up the scripts and training with lies in them) but for certain types of repeat cases, they have to know their employer is up to no good. I am sure this is the case at Cigna, where at least twice a year, I have a problem with a claim, the service rep says it should have been paid and puts it in to be reprocessed and I typically have to rinse and repeat and get stroopy about it, meaning the later reps can see the pattern of deliberate non-payment of a valid claim and continue to act as if they can do something about it.

By Couze Venn, Emeritus Professor of Cultural Theory in the Media & Communications Department at Goldsmiths, University of London, and Associate Research Fellow at Johannesburg University. His recent book is After Capital, Sage, 2018. Originally published at openDemocracy

From working conditions to welfare policies, from immigration to the internet – this zero sum game of winners and losers benefits only the far right.

Image: Homeless man with commuters walking past, Waterloo Station, London. Credit: Jessica Mulley/Flickr, CC 2.0.

The hostile environment is not just about the Windrush generation in the UK, or the harassment of migrants at the Mexican border in the USA, or the unwelcoming treatment of refugees trying to reach Europe. It has become ubiquitous and widespread. We encounter it in many aspects of daily life. In worsening conditions at work such as zero-hour 'contracts'. In obstacles to accessing social and health services due to cutbacks, making people's lives more precarious. Online threats and trolling are other signs of this normalisation of hostility.

The normalisation of hostile environments signals a worrying and global shift in values of tolerance, empathy, compassion, hospitality and responsibility for the vulnerable. It's a normalisation that was criticised recently in the UK by UN Poverty Rapporteur Philip Alston, who described how "punitive, mean-spirited, often callous" government welfare policies were contributing to an " increasingly hostile and unwelcoming society ".

There's a pattern to hostile environments that harks back to the 1930s and 40s. As we know, at the time, those targeted were considered as the enemy within, to be subject to expulsion, exclusion and indeed, genocide, as happened to Jews and other so-called 'inferior races'. In more recent time, the iterations of this discourse of the alien other who must be expelled or eliminated to save the 'pure' or 'good race' or ethnicity and reconstitute the broken community have found traction in Europe, the USA, Rwanda, India, parts of the Middle East. In its wake, refugees have become asylum seekers, migrants are labelled illegal or criminal, cultural differences become alien cultures, non-binary women and men are misgendered, and at the extreme, those targeted for violence become vermin. It marks a shift in political culture that inscribes elements of fascism.

Why has this atmosphere of hostility become the default position in politics? What have been the triggers and what are the stakes in this great moving rightwards shift? One may be tempted to identify the change in mood and attitudes with recent events like the election of Trump in the USA. But the far right has been on the rise in Europe, the UK and the US for some years, as seen in movements like the Tea Party, UKIP, or the National Front in France . They have been given a boost by the flood of refugees generated by wars in the Middle East, Afghanistan, parts of Africa, as well as by the spread of fundamentalist religious creeds that have an affinity with forms of fascism.

Why? Two related sets of developments that from the 1970s have gradually altered the political terrain. Economically, globalisation emerged as an integral part of a transnational corporate strategy aimed at securing advantageous conditions for the consolidation of global capital at a time of risky structural changes in the global economy. And politically, neoliberalism took hold when the crises of the 1970s started to undermine the postwar consensus in the Keynesian mixed economy and the role of the welfare state.

Globalisation saw the systematic deployment of outsourcing production in countries offering cheap labour, minimised corporate tax burdens and other incentives for transnational corporations, and the invention of the trade in derivatives (financial mechanisms intended to leverage the value of assets and repackaged debts). They contributed to the 2008 crash. The general public were made to bail out the banks through increased taxation and the establishment of policies across social services that produce hostile environments for claimants seeking state support.

As Ha Joon Chang has shown, by the 1990s, financial capitalism had become the dominant power, prioritising the interest of shareholders, and incentivising managers through share ownership and bonuses schemes. The disruptions due to this recomposition of capital have been a global squeeze on income, the creation of a new precariat, and the debt society. People who feel insecure, abandoned to forces outside their control become easy prey to demagogues and prophets of deceit who promise the return of good times, provided enemies and outsiders who wreck things are expelled.

Meanwhile, neoliberal political economy gradually became the new orthodoxy, increasing its impact through right wing thinktanks and government advisors and spreading its influence in academia and economic thought. Its initial success in terms of growth and prosperity in the 1990s and turn of the century consolidated its hold over the economy until the crash of 2008.

What is important here is the radical shift in values and attitudes that recall utilitarian values in the 19th Century. In particular, it is reflected in the neoliberal hostility towards the poor, the weak, the destitute, the ' losers', expressed in its denial or abnegation of responsibility for their plight or welfare, and its project of dismantling the welfare or providential state.

This pervasive atmosphere of hostility is the real triumph of neoliberal political economy . Not the economy – privatisation, monetisation, deregulation, generalised competition, and structural adjustments are immanent tendencies in globalised capitalism anyway. But neoliberal political economy reanimates attitudes and values that legitimate the consolidation of power over others, evidenced for example in the creation of an indebted population who must play by the dominant rules of the game in order to survive. It promotes new servitudes, operating on a planetary scale. What is rejected are ideas of common interest and a common humanity that support the principle of collective responsibility for fellow humans, and that radical liberal philosophers like John Stuart Mill defended. They were the values, along with the principles of fundamental human rights, that informed major reforms, and inspired socialism. The establishment of the welfare or providential state, and programmes of redistribution, enshrined in Beveridge or New Deals, draw from these same principles and values.

Neoliberalism has promoted a self-centeredness that pushes Adam Smith-style individualism to an extreme, turning selfishness into a virtue, as Ayn Rand has done. It is a closed ontology since it does not admit the other, the stranger, into the circle of those towards whom we have a duty of responsibility and care. It thus completes capitalism as a zero-sum game of winners and 'losers'. Apart from the alt-right in the USA, we find its exemplary advocates amongst leading Brexiteers in the UK, backed by dark money. It is not the social democratic compromise of capitalism with a human face that could support the welfare state. Seen in this context, there is an essential affinity between alt-right, neoliberal political economy and neo- fascisms, punctuated by aggressivity, intolerance, exclusion, expulsion and generalised hostility.

There are other important stakes at this point in the history of humanity and the planet. We tend to forget that support for fundamental human rights, like equality, liberty, freedom from oppressive power, has long been motivated by the same kind of concern to defend the vulnerable, the poor, the destitute, the oppressed from the injustices arising from unequal relations of power. We forget too that these rights have been hard won through generations of emancipatory struggles against many forms of oppressions.

Yet, it is sad to see many institutions and organisations tolerate intolerance out of confusion about the principles at stake and for fear of provoking hostile reactions from those who claim rights that in effect disadvantage some already vulnerable groups. Failure to defend the oppressed anywhere and assert our common humanity is the slippery slope towards a Hobbesian state and great suffering for the many.

[Feb 12, 2019] The neoliberal university is making us sick Who's to blame by Jodie-Lee Trembath

Feb 12, 2019 | thefamiliarstrange.com

June 14, 2018

Trigger warning: This post contains the discussion of depression and other mental health issues, and suicide. If you or anyone you know needs help or support for a mental health concern, please don't suffer in silence. Many countries have confidential phone helplines (in Australia you can call Lifeline on 13 11 14, for example); this organisation provides worldwide support, while this website compiles a number of helpline sites from around the world.

I am writing today from a place of anger; from a rage that sits, simmering on the surface of a deep well of sadness. I didn't know Dr. Malcolm Anderson, the senior accountancy lecturer from Cardiff University whose death, after falling from the roof of his university building, was last week ruled a suicide . I obviously have no way to know the complexity of his feelings or what sequence of events led up to his decision to end his own life. However, according to the results of an inquest, we can know what Dr. Anderson wanted his university to understand about his death – that it was, at least in part, because of the pressures of his academic work.

The media reports that Dr. Anderson had recently been appointed to Deputy Head of his department, significantly increasing his administrative load. Nonetheless, he was still teaching 418 students and needed to mark their work within a 20-day turnaround. To meet that deadline, he would have needed to work approximately 9 hours a day without food or toilet breaks, for 20 days straight, and not do ANY other kind of work during that time (such as the admin that comes with being a Deputy Head). Practically impossible, given he was also a human being, with a home life, and physical needs like food, in addition to work responsibilities.

His wife, Diane, has been quoted saying that Dr. Anderson worked very long hours and often took marking to family events. She has said that although he was a passionate educator who won teaching awards every year, he had been showing signs of stress and had spoken to his managers about his difficulty meeting deadlines. A colleague told the inquest that he was given the same response each time he asked for help, and staffing cuts had continued.

A Marked Problem

... ... ...

And look, I get it. To someone outside the academy, I'm sure the perception remains that academics sit in leather armchairs, gazing out the gilded windows of our ivory towers, thinking all day.

That has not been my experience, nor that of anyone I know.

My colleagues and peers have, however , experienced levels of anxiety and depression that are six times higher than experienced in the general population (Evans et al. 2018). They report higher levels of workaholism , the kind that has a negative and unwanted effect on relationships with loved ones (Torp et al. 2018). The picture is often even bleaker for women , people of colour , and other non-White, non-middle-class, non-males. So whether you think academics are 'delicate woeful souls' or not, it's difficult to deny that there is a real problem to be tackled here.

Obviously, marking load is only one issue amongst many faced in universities the world over. But it's not bad as an illustration, partly because it's quantifiable . It's somewhat ironic that the neoliberal metrics that we rail against, the audit culture that causes these kinds of examples to happen, could also help us describe to others why they are a problem for us. So quantifiability brings us to neoliberalism. How did neoliberalism become so pervasive that it's almost impossible to imagine how the world could look different?

Neoliberalism, then and now

These last two weeks I've been working out of the Stockholm Centre for Organisational Research in Sweden, which, by coincidence, is where Professor Cris Shore , anthropologist of policy and the guest on our next podcast episode is currently based. I was chatting to him the other day about the interview we recorded last December, which centres around many of the ideas I'm discussing in this blog post. I had to admit, I hadn't realised until we did that interview how angry many people still feel towards the Thatcher government for introducing neoliberal ideologies and practices into the public sector. Despite doing a Ph.D. about modern university life, it hadn't fully registered for me that events of the past , specifically the histories of politics and economics in 'the West', were such active players in the theatre of higher education's present .

To understand today's neoliberal universities, let's explore a little history in the UK and the US, two of the biggest influencers in the global higher education sector today. In 1979, Margaret Thatcher rose to power on a platform of reviving the stagnant British economy by introducing market-style competition into the public sector. This way, she claimed, she was ensuring, that "the state's power [was] reduced and the power of the people, enhanced" (Edwards, 2017) . For universities, this meant increased "accountability" and quality assurance measures that would drag universities out of their complacency .

Meanwhile, in the US, Ronald Reagan was also arriving at neoliberalism via a different path. Americans historically don't trust central government (Roberts, 2007) , so in 1981, Reagan introduced tax cuts (especially for the rich) for the first time in American history, therefore "protecting" the American people from the rapacious spending habits of the state (Prasad, 2012) . In American universities, this manifested over the next 30 years in reduced public spending on higher education, transferring the costs for tuition to student-consumers, and encouraging partnerships with industry and endorsements from philanthropists (often with agendas) to cover research costs (Shumway, 2017) .

Then in the 90s, there was a moral panic about the public sector caused by scandals such as " the collapse of Barings Bank in 1995 , the failures of the medical profession revealed by investigations into the serial murders by Dr Harold Shipman , and the numerous cases of child abuse that have plagued the Catholic Church " (Shore, 2008) . Frankly, it seems pretty understandable that people were looking for greater transparency, a bit of accountability, and a whole lot less of, "leave it to the professionals, they seem like alright blokes, don't they?" from their public sector.

However, an ideology that had originally looked so promising to the public began, over time, to create a new set of problems. As Cris Shore points out in his seminal 2008 article, ' Audit culture and Illiberal governance: Universities and the politics of accountability ':

The official rationale for [neoliberal ideologies and actions] appears benign and incontestable: to improve efficiency and transparency and to make these institutions more accountable to the taxpayer and public (and no reasonable person could seriously challenge such commonsensical and progressive objectives). The problem, however, is that audit confuses 'accountability' with 'accountancy' so that 'being answerable to the public' is recast in terms of measures of productivity, 'economic efficiency' and delivering 'value for money' (VFM).

The trouble with neoliberalism and its offshoot, New Public Management , is that much like the Newspeak of Orwell's 1984 , the words that were used to sell it – quality, accountability, transparency etc. – in practice, mean the opposite of what they appear to mean. For example, as Chris Lorenz (2012) points out in an article that convincingly compares New Public Management in universities to the outcomes of a Communist regime , there has been no evidence, statistical or otherwise, that increasing 'quality control measures' in universities has actually improved quality in universities by any objective criteria – and often just the opposite.

What has "improved" in universities because of neoliberal practices is efficiency, often through measures like restructures and reviews. Again, taking steps to save money and time sounds like a positive. However, the problem with 'efficiency' is that, unlike its counterpart 'effectiveness' (the ability to bring about a specific effect), 'efficiency' has no end point – it is a goal unto itself. As Lorenz phrases it, "efficient, therefore, is never efficient enough," (2012, p. 607).

Bringing this back, then, to issues of mental health and increasing workloads on campus. Liz Morrish of Academic Irregularities pointed out last week that when tragedies such as the death of Malcolm Anderson occur in universities, the most common response is for said university to announce a review. As anticipated, two days after the results of Dr. Anderson's inquest were first reported in the media, Cardiff University announced that they would be reviewing the 'support, information, advice and specialist counselling' available to all staff, but also urged any academic "who has any concerns regarding workload, to raise them with their line manager, in the first instance, so all available advice and support can be offered."

This platitude has been taken by many online as exactly that – a platitude. Several commenters on Twitter have pointed out that providing more mental health support doesn't actually reduce workload, while others have noted that there has been no discussion by Cardiff U of attempting to fix the underlying cause. I agree with them, and it's part of the reason I'm so angry. Malcolm Anderson could easily be any one of us.

Yet, I have to admit, I'd also hate to be part of the executive team at Cardiff University right now. Can you imagine the anguish of knowing that someone had taken their life, and held you directly responsible? You'd have to feel so helpless, so powerless in the shadow of neoliberal forces that permeate every last aspect of the global higher education sector. I don't know, I haven't been a Vice Chancellor, maybe you wouldn't have to feel that way. But it's easy to imagine how one could.

The path to neoliberal hell is paved with good intentions

So, what's the answer? I wish I knew. What I do know is that anthropological thinking has a lot to offer in the exploration of big immutable mobiles 2 like neoliberalism. As Sherry Ortner asks in her 2016 article " Dark anthropology and its others: Theory since the eighties ", who better to question the power structures inherent in 'dark' topics such as neoliberalisation or colonialism than anthropologists? Yet, she urges an approach that also acknowledges the possibility of goodness in the world, quoting from the opening to Michael Lambek's Ordinary Ethics as rationale:

Ethnographers commonly find that the people they encounter are trying to do what they consider right or good, are being evaluated according to criteria of what is right and good, or are in some debate about what constitutes the human good. Yet anthropological theory tends to overlook all this in favor of analyses that emphasize structure, power, and interest. (Lambeck, 2010, p. 1)

And this is where I have to deviate from the majority of the neoliberal university critiques I've read. In these pieces, it's all too common to read criticisms of academic managers, or administrators, or university 'service providers' as if they are The Reason that neoliberal ideologies get enacted in university contexts. But usually, they're just human beings too, also subject to KPIs and managerial demands and neoliberal ideologies.

Having worked at different times as an educator, a researcher, and a communications manager in various universities for more than 10 years, and now having conducted fieldwork at a university for my PhD, I have had the chance to observe and conduct research on at least nine different university campuses, in at least five countries. Based on those experiences, I am in complete agreement with Lambek: the majority 3 of non-academics that I have encountered, in every type of department, and at every level of universities from Level 1 administrative officers to Presidents and Vice Chancellors, "are trying to do what they consider right or good" (2010, p. 1).

They demonstrate, both through words and their actions, their beliefs that education is valuable, and that students are important as human beings, not just as cash cows. They are often working long hours themselves, trying to keep up with the demands that neoliberal university life is placing on them. I just can't get on board with the idea that they are, universally, the villains of the neoliberal horror story.

It seems much more likely, to me, that neoliberal ideologies continue to get enacted and reinforced by academic managers because these practices have become the norm. Throughout and because of the historical growth pattern neoliberalism has experienced, these ideologies have put down roots, and these roots have become so entangled with other aspects of university life as to be inseparable. For many working-aged people, neoliberalism is the water we were born swimming in. Even presented with its inadequacies, it's difficult to imagine an alternative.

What I can agree with the critics about, however, is that non-academics often don't understand or appreciate – or perhaps remember (if they had worked in that capacity in the past) – the demands of being an academic, just like academics don't tend to understand or appreciate the demands that non-academics within the university are facing.

In their recently published book Death of the Public University (2017), Susan Wright and Cris Shore refer to the idea of 'Faculty Land' – a place synonymous with 'La La Land', where non-academic employees of universities think academics live. This really resonates with what I saw on fieldwork at an international university in Vietnam, but not only from administrators – academics too.

As I've said in a previous post , all the actors in universities are trying to abrogate responsibility sideways or upwards until they can only blame 'the neoliberal agenda', and once they get there, all they can see is a towering, monolithic idea , and it becomes like trying to have a fist fight with a cloud. Most people don't ever get to that point though, because the world feels more controllable if we believe that there is another human to blame .

The thing is though, blaming others almost never works . It doesn't make things better, it just creates a greater divide between groups, encourages isolationism and othering, and decreases the likelihood that either side will ever want to work together to fix the problem.

Dr Anderson's tragic death, and the similarly tragic statistics that tell us that the collective mental health of our academics is in crisis, should be a wake up call to all of us who work or study in universities, in any capacity. Whether it will be remains to be seen.

Again: If you or anyone you know needs help or support for a mental health concern, please don't suffer in silence . Sometimes talking about things with an objective outsider can help.

Yes, I know, this is a structural problem and we shouldn't have to take care of it as individuals (see Grace Krause's moving poem about this here ). But in the meantime, while we work on that, please seek help if you need it .

[Feb 12, 2019] Death of the Public University Uncertain Futures for Higher Education in the Knowledge Economy (Higher Education

Notable quotes:
"... Series editors: ..."
"... CRIS SHORE AND SUSAN WRIGHT ..."
"... 1. State Disinvestment in Universities – or Risk-free Profits for Private Providers? ..."
"... 2. New Regimes for Promoting Competitiveness ..."
"... 3. Rise of Audit Culture: Performance and Output Measures ..."
"... When a measurement becomes a target, institutional environments are restructured so that they focus their resources and activities primarily on what 'counts' to funders and governors rather than on their wider professional ethics and societal goals (see Kohn and Shore, this volume). ..."
"... 4. Administrative Bloat, Academic Decline ..."
"... The Fall of the Faculty ..."
"... One of the weaknesses in these statistics is that they fail to distinguish between administrative staff who support the teaching and research and those who do not. ..."
"... From the perspective of many university managers and human resources (HR) departments, academics are increasingly portrayed as a reluctant, unruly and undisciplined workforce that needs to be incentivized or cajoled to meet management's targeted outputs and performance indicators. ..."
"... 5. Institutional Capture: the Power of the 'Administeriat' ..."
"... Whereas in the past the main cleavage in universities was between the arts and the sciences, or what C.P. Snow (1956) famously termed 'the two cultures', today the main division is between academics and managers. ..."
"... Professor of Critical Management Studies Rebecca Boden compares the way that university managers expand their increasingly onerous regulations to the way that 'cuckoos lay their eggs in the nests of other birds, and how the young cuckoos then evict the nest-builders' offspring' (cited in Havergal 2015). This cuckoo-in-the-nest metaphor might seem somewhat overblown, but it highlights the important fact that managers and administrators have usurped power in what were formerly more collegial, self-governing institutions ..."
"... Today, rather than being treated as core members of a professional community, academics are constantly being told by managers and senior administrators what 'the university' expects of them, as if they were somehow peripheral or subordinate to 'the university'. ..."
"... 6. New Income Streams and the Rise of the 'Entrepreneurial University' ..."
"... Equally important has been the raising of student tuition fees and the relentless drive to recruit more high-fee-paying international students ..."
"... The relentless pursuit of these new income streams has had a transformative effect on universities. Almost two decades ago Marginson and Considine (2000) coined the term the 'enterprise university' to describe the model in which: the economic and academic dimensions are both subordinated to something else. Money is a key objective, but it is also the means to a more fundamental mission: to advance the prestige and competitiveness of the university as an end in itself (ibid. 2000: 5). ..."
"... Times Higher Education ..."
"... 7. Higher Education as Private Investment Versus Public Good ..."
"... most students and their families can only afford to pay for the costs of their higher education through the kinds of debt-financing that governments across the world now condemn as reckless and inappropriate for themselves. ..."
"... Yet students and parents are encouraged to take out what is effectively a 'subprime loan', in the gamble that it will eventually pay off by enhancing their future job prospects and earning power: it is a 'hedge against their future security' (Vernon 2008). In other words, higher education is now being modelled on the same types of financial speculation that produced the 2010 global financial crisis. ..."
"... The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge ..."
"... The University in Ruins ..."
"... But on the other hand, universities and their staff have been subjected to an almost continuous process of reforms and restructurings designed both to recast higher education institutions as transnational business corporations and to open up the sector to more private-sector involvement. ..."
"... One of the greatest threats to the university today lies in the 'unbundling' of its various research, teaching and degree-awarding functions into separate, profit-making activities that can then be outsourced and privatized. ..."
"... Universities no longer hold a monopoly over knowledge production and distribution and face growing competition from the emergence of new universities and from 'entirely new models of university' that Pearson itself has been spearheading to exploit the new environment of globalization and the digital revolution (ibid. 2013: 9–21). ..."
"... London Metropolitan's near-bankruptcy opened the possibility of a second method of privatization; a 'fire sale' of a university and its prized degree-awarding powers, to one of the many U.S. for profit education providers that had been seeking entry into the market ..."
Feb 12, 2019 | www.amazon.com

Higher Education in Critical Perspective: Practices and Policies

Series editors: Susan Wright, Aarhus University; Penny Welch, Wolverhampton University

INTRODUCTION Privatizing the Public University: Key Trends, Countertrends and Alternatives

CRIS SHORE AND SUSAN WRIGHT

Since the 1980s, public universities have undergone a seemingly unending series of reforms designed to make them more responsive both to markets and to government priorities. Initially, the aim behind these reforms was to render universities more economic, efficient and effective. However, by the 1990s, prompted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD 1998) and other international agencies, many national governments adopted the idea that the future lay in a 'global knowledge economy'. To these ends, they implemented policies to repurpose higher education as the engine for producing the knowledge, skills and graduates to generate the intellectual property and innovative products that would make their countries more globally competitive.

These reforms were premised on neoliberal ideas about turning universities into autonomous and entrepreneurial 'knowledge organizations' by promoting competition, opening them up to private investors, making educational services contribute to economic competitiveness, and enabling individuals to maximize their skills in global labour markets.

These policy narratives position universities as static entities within an all-encompassing market economy, but alternatively, the university can be seen as a dynamic and fluid set of relations within a wider 'ecology' of diverse interests and organizations (Hansen this volume; Wright 2016). The boundaries of the university are constantly being renegotiated as its core values and distinctive purpose rub up against those predatory market forces, or what Slaughter and Leslie (1997) term 'academic capitalism'. Under pressure to produce 'excellence', quality research and innovative teaching, improve world rankings, forge business links and attract elite, fee-paying students, many universities struggle to maintain their traditional mandate to be 'inclusive', foster social cohesion, improve social mobility and challenge received wisdom – let alone improve the poor records on gender, diversity and equality.

This book examines how public universities engage with these dilemmas and the implications for the future of the public university as an ideal and set of institutional practices. The book has arisen from a four-year programme of knowledge exchange between three research groups in Europe and the Asia Pacific, which focused on the future of public universities in contexts of globalization and regionalization. 1 The groups were based in the U.K.