Home Switchboard Unix Administration Red Hat TCP/IP Networks Neoliberalism Toxic Managers
May the source be with you, but remember the KISS principle ;-)

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

PseudoScience > Who Rules America > Neoliberalism

News Neoliberalism Recommended Links Neoliberalism 101: 12 best articles on neoliberalism Neoclassical Pseudo Theories and Crooked and Bought Economists as Fifth Column of Financial Oligarchy The Systemic Instability of Financial Institutions Regulatory Capture & Corruption of regulators
Secular Stagnation Peak Cheap Energy and Oil Price Slump Neoliberalism as a Cause of Structural Unemployment in the USA USA-Russia Gas War Rational expectations scam Economism and abuse of economic theory in American politics Monetarism fiasco
GDP as a false measure of a country economic output Number racket Efficient Market Hypothesis Invisible Hand Hypothesys: The Theory of Self-regulation of the Markets Supply side Voodoo In Goldman Sachs we trust Neocolonialism as Financial Imperialism
Twelve apostles of deregulation Clinton Summers Greenspan Rubin Helicopter Ben: Arsonist Turned into Firefighter Reagan
Chicago school of deification of market Free Market Fundamentalism Free Market Newspeak as opium for regulators The Idea of Dynamic Stochastic General Equilibrium CDS -- weapons of mass financial destruction Phil Gramm Bush II
Zombie state of neoliberalism Insider Trading SEC corruption Fed corruption Systemic Fraud under Clinton-Bush Regime Wall Street Propaganda Machine American Exceptionalism
Redistribution of wealth up as the essence of neoliberalism Glass-Steagall repeal Pope Francis on danger of neoliberalism Fiat money, gold and petrodollar Neoliberalism as a Cause of Structural Unemployment in the USA Buyout Kleptocrats Republican Economic Policy
Principal-agent problem Quiet coup Pecora commission History of Casino Capitalism Casino Capitalism Dictionary :-) Humor  Ayn Rand and Objectivism Cult

Due to the size the introduction moved to Casino Capitalism: Neoliberalism in Western countries


Old News ;-)

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

For the list of top articles see Recommended Links section

2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008

[Apr 08, 2020] In Gulf's Oil Rigs, Crews Fight Virus to Keep Crude Flowing

Notable quotes:
"... Cramped quarters on drilling rigs leave no room for distancing ..."
"... That's led to worries about the safety of the sites, the biggest of which resemble mini-cities with as many as 200 workers, and the nation's dependence on their output. Oil wells in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico supply about 2 million barrels of crude a day, or 15% of U.S. production. ..."
Apr 08, 2020 |
Cramped quarters on drilling rigs leave no room for distancing
Inside more than a thousand offshore drilling rigs and oil production platforms that dot the Gulf of Mexico, workers navigate narrow corridors, sleep in shared rooms and dine in crowded mess halls.

It's an environment designed for efficiency -- not for keeping a lethal coronavirus at bay.

"There's no way to do social distancing on a rig," said Tim Tarpley, vice president of the Petroleum Equipment and Services Association .

That's led to worries about the safety of the sites, the biggest of which resemble mini-cities with as many as 200 workers, and the nation's dependence on their output. Oil wells in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico supply about 2 million barrels of crude a day, or 15% of U.S. production.

[Apr 06, 2020] For the central attribute is symmetry: the balancing of incentives and disincentives, people should also penalized if something for which they are responsible goes wrong and hurts others: he or she who wants a share of the benefits needs to also share some of the risks.

Apr 06, 2020 |

Steve H. , April 6, 2020 at 8:22 am

Taleb Nassim on Skin in the Game:

For the central attribute is symmetry: the balancing of incentives and disincentives, people should also penalized if something for which they are responsible goes wrong and hurts others: he or she who wants a share of the benefits needs to also share some of the risks.

. . .

And in the absence of the filtering of skin in the game, the mechanisms of evolution fail: if someone else dies in your stead, the built up of asymmetric risks and misfitness will cause the system to eventually blow-up.


vlade , April 6, 2020 at 8:38 am

Taleb's skin in the game ignores the disincentives the skin-in-the-game creates, which are often fat-tailed.

Feedback is not the same as skin-in-the-game.

Steve H. , April 6, 2020 at 9:30 am

I read your use of feedback as >reference to external stimuli (the real world).

With Taleb, I'm reading disincentives as penalties, and that lack of penalty/punishment warps the selection process of evolution. With respect to the post, that has created a lack of respect for risk by those who make decisions.

It can be taken a step farther, that the selection process has created perverse incentives. For example, the bailouts from 2008 made the FIRE sector qliphotically antifragile. In that scenario, risk becomes rewarding.

I want to be careful here about using the word feedback, its ambiguities could be confusing. Given that, I'm interested in knowing what you mean about ignoring the disincentives skin-in-the-game creates. Could you please expand on that?

vlade , April 6, 2020 at 10:07 am

Feedback as reference to external stimuli is ok.

My problem with Taleb's skin in the game is that, as he well knows, it's hard to distinguish luck (good or bad) and skill. How can we punish for luck though?

Think of a judge, who gets, through his skill, 99 out of 100 cases right. But the 100th – which, by pure luck, could be really large case – he gets wrong.

Or, even simpler. Technically, if you do one decision a day, and have 99% success rate, every three months you get somethign wrong (1-0.99^60 = 0.54) more likely than not. Should you be punished for this? If we yes, then people will start takin decisions where alternate history is hard to prove, i.e. you create a selection bias towards "do nothing". You can then be punished for "doing nothing" but most of the time "do nothing" is a safe choice. (it's a specific case of "go with the crowd")

Also, in decision making, context is extremely important (which is why courts go to super lenghts to establish it in judical cases). Taleb should know it, and he should also know that unless context is taken into account _in_full_ then the skin-in-the-game will not be seen as fair. But the problem is, the context can never be fully established, and rarely w/o the participation of the major decision maker. Who will have no incentive to participate. Which will hamper learning from it.

Skin in the game makes sense when you can clearly separate luck and skill, and clearly establish context. Even one of those is rare occasion, both is extremely so.

That said, you can often establish post fact when someone blew up (this is what the various enuiries do). And then you'd treat accordingly. But that's not skin-in-the-game, because again, the enquiry can establish that you acted in good faith, as most people would act at the time – and so assign no blame. So you may "fail honourably".

Skin in the game does not let you fail honourably – because it's not skin in the game anymore (because it can let you game the system again, via doing just enough to pass any future enquiry as "more could have been done, but there's no clear knowing dereliction of duty).

TLDR; skin-in-the-game is an attempt at simplictic solution to a complex problem. Taleb should know better.

Steve H. , April 6, 2020 at 10:58 am

Thanks, vlade. I shall ponder this.

[Apr 06, 2020] I wish it were so simple to merely say "private sector bad, government good". But the rot has set in from top to bottom across all aspects of how we manage our society and whether or not it started in the private sector, it has well and truly spread to infect the public sector, too.

Apr 06, 2020 |

Clive , April 6, 2020 at 11:02 am

If only it was as simple as saying that services operated by the state were fine, it's private capital where the problem lies.

It's not. This is a societal and cultural problem.

There are employer "pushes" towards the deskilling and degrading of levels of operational competence. One is employers ( both public sector and private sector) do not want to pay for training and to retain a body of experienced employees because both of these cost money up-front with a payoff (in the form of competent, knowledgeable staff) that comes only slowly, later. And a churn of staff is seen as the sign, wrongly, but this is what the MBAs sell as snake oil, of a dynamic, healthy organization which is bringing in (through a process which never seems to be adequately explained) new talent.

Plus, of course, most obviously, younger and newer employees are cheaper so your average headcount cost is lower which is usually a management metric -- often one which is incentive-ised through reward.

There are also employee "pulls" -- and again, these are not just observed in the private sector. You see them in medicine, academia and even, most bizarrely, the arts. An example of these employee-instigated causes of a reduction in capability is that it becomes in-cultural-ated that if you spend too long in the same place, you're only doing so out of necessity because you're so useless, no-one else will employ you. So even if don't really want to move onto a different organization or a different field of work outside your skillset, you feel you have to, in order to avoid looking "stale", "resistant to change", "stuck in your comfort zone" or any other of the myriad of thought-crimes which you don't want, in today's job market, to be seen to having evidence of committing. And also, as collective union bargaining has gone the way of the dinosaur, more often than not, if you want a raise you have to threaten to quit to get one. But again, more often than not, your current employer will call your bluff and let you leave. So you have to have another job lined up to to go to, if you're not to fall into a trap of flouncing off in a huff but having no other work to walk straight into. While your current employer might not, if they were honest, want to lose you, the dynamics of the workplace being what they are, neither side can then climb down from the ultimatums they've just served.

Yes, there are some notable poster-children of how private enterprise has committed suicide through the wanton bloodletting of its skilled employees (Boeing being a recent case-in-point). But even if you cast your gaze in the direction of public employers, this same phenomena can be found in universities, colleges and K-12 schools (where faculties are no longer bolstered by a strong bench of tenured staff, contract and non-tenured hire-and-fire disposable staff are now the norm, I won't even go there on the effect of charter schools) healthcare (even in the UK's entirely public sector NHS, there is huge reliance on contract and agency staff which the COVID-19 crisis has highlighted and the government is trying, belatedly and without any clear indication it can do so in the short term to redress this and avoid being price-gouged). Or federal and state regulators which now simply do not understand the businesses they are supposed to be regulating and have to buy-in external "expertise" (and merely exacerbate the revolving door problem).

In summary, I wish it were so simple to merely say "private sector bad, government good". But the rot has set in from top to bottom across all aspects of how we manage our shared organizational maturity (or, should I say, now, fix our shared organizational immaturity) and whether or not it started in the private sector, it has well and truly spread to infect the public sector, too. This was the unmistakable point of the post, so it bears re-reading it again with a particular emphasis on understanding why this is the case.

[Apr 06, 2020] A sound banker, alas! is not one who foresees danger and avoids it, but one who, when he is ruined, is ruined in a conventional and orthodox way along with his fellows, so that no one can really blame him. ~Keynes

Highly recommended!
Apr 06, 2020 |

notabanktoadie , April 6, 2020 at 8:04 am

A sound banker, alas! is not one who foresees danger and avoids it, but one who, when he is ruined, is ruined in a conventional and orthodox way along with his fellows, so that no one can really blame him. Keynes via Yves

The problem is that the payment system, besides grubby coins and paper Central Bank notes (e.g. Federal Reserve Notes), must work through private depository institutions or not at all.

How then can we have a sound economy when it is held hostage by "sound" bankers?

And are not the banks a form of rentier – who rent the Nation its money supply?

Then where are the proposals of the MMT School to euthanize those rentiers?

[Apr 06, 2020] More about Bill Gates and hs efforts

Apr 06, 2020 |

Prof K , Apr 5 2020 14:55 utc | 1

Another angle in your post is the interesting role of "enlightened" capitalists -- the Krafts, Bill Gates, and soon to be others.

They are trying to fill the chasm in infrastructure, supplies and social cohesion created by the capitalist state and private capital.

Some of their efforts might pan out and be useful.

But they represent the wrong politics.

The crisis is not just about a virus and the lack of a medical cure; it is systemic: the social, political and economic order of America is institutionally and culturally unable to mobilize for virus prevention and suppression.

It literally takes a peoples' war. China wasn't lying.

And the billionaire philanthropists actually don't want us to think and act that way. Don't praise them. They want us to return to the old normal of grotesque neoliberal capitalism that made them rich beyond words.

Living in a quiet Boston suburb, I can see this clearly. The poor are still going out to work, dying, or suffering at home. The rich are off to the Cape, having food deliveries from uninsured, precarious workers, and have no concept of a collective effort as they continue to work for themselves from home.

There is no peak coming soon any time soon.

[Apr 05, 2020] Capitalism is the legitimate racket of the ruling class. Al Capone

Apr 05, 2020 |

Mao , Apr 6 2020 2:25 utc | 134

Al Capone Money Quote saying that being a capitalist is the legitimate racket of those in power – with laws to back it up. Al Capone said:

"Capitalism is the legitimate racket of the ruling class."

[Apr 05, 2020] John Maynard Keynes quote Speculators may do no harm as bubbles on a steady...

As we see that during coronavirus epidemic Keynes some saying are more true then ever.
Apr 05, 2020 |

Capitalism is the extraordinary belief that the nastiest of men, for the nastiest of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all.

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.

[Apr 05, 2020] Under neoliberalism the goverment failed to perform the most basic duty of any economic system: to protect and maintain public health and safety. U.S. capitalism's response to the coronavirus was too little, too late

Apr 05, 2020 |

In short, capitalism had built up vulnerabilities to another crash that any number of possible triggers could unleash. The trigger this time was not the meltdown of 2000 or the sub-prime meltdown of 2008/9; it was a virus. And of course, mainstream ideology requires focusing on the trigger, not the vulnerability. Thus mainstream policies aim to reestablish pre-virus capitalism. Even if they succeed, that will return us to a capitalist system whose accumulated vulnerabilities will soon again collapse from yet another trigger.

​In the light of the coronavirus pandemic, I focus criticism on capitalism and the vulnerabilities it has accumulated for several reasons. Viruses are part of nature. They have attacked human beings -- sometimes dangerously -- in both distant and recent history. In 1918, the Spanish Flu killed nearly 700,000 in the United States and millions elsewhere. Recent viruses include SARS, MERS andEbola. What matters to public health is each society's preparedness: stockpiled tests, masks, ventilators, hospital beds, trained personnel, etc., to manage dangerous viruses. In the U.S., such objects are produced by private capitalist enterprises whose goal is profit. It was not profitable to produce and stockpile such products, that was not and still is not being done.

Nor did the U.S. government produce or stockpile those medical products. Top U.S. government personnel privilege private capitalism; it is their primary objective to protect and strengthen. The result is that neither private capitalism nor the U.S. government performed the most basic duty of any economic system: to protect and maintain public health and safety. U.S. capitalism's response to the coronavirus pandemic continues to be what it has been since December 2019: too little, too late. It failed. It is the problem.

The second reason I focus on capitalism is that the responses to today's economic collapse by Trump, the GOP and most Democrats carefully avoid any criticism of capitalism. They all debate the virus, China, foreigners, other politicians, but never the system they all serve. When Trump and others press people to return to churches and jobs -- despite risking their and others' lives -- they place reviving a collapsed capitalism ahead of public health.

The third reason capitalism gets blame here is that alternative systems -- those not driven by a profit-first logic -- could manage viruses better. While not profitable to produce and stockpile everything needed for a viral pandemic, it is efficient. The wealth already lost in this pandemic far exceeds the cost to have produced and stockpiled the tests and ventilators, the lack of which is contributing so much to today's disaster. Capitalism often pursues profit at the expense of more urgent social needs and values. In this, capitalism is grossly inefficient. This pandemic is now bringing that truth home to people.

A worker-coop based economy -- where workers democratically run enterprises, deciding what, how and where to produce, and what to do with any profits -- could, and likely would, put social needs and goals (like proper preparation for pandemics) ahead of profits. Workers are the majority in all capitalist societies; their interests are those of the majority. Employers are always a small minority; theirs are the "special interests" of that minority. Capitalism gives that minority the position, profits and power to determine how the society as a whole lives or dies. That's why all employees now wonder and worry about how long our jobs, incomes, homes and bank accounts will last -- if we still have them. A minority (employers) decides all those questions and excludes the majority (employees) from making those decisions, even though that majority must live with their results.

Of course, the top priority now is to put public health and safety first. To that end, employees across the country are now thinking about refusing to obey orders to work in unsafe job conditions. U.S. capitalism has thus placed a general strike on today's social agenda. A close second priority is to learn from capitalism's failure in the face of the pandemic. We must not suffer such a dangerous and unnecessary social breakdown again. Thus system change is now also moving onto today's social agenda.

Mark , April 5, 2020 at 5:28 am

Don't blame capitalism. Blame the mistakes of our govenments and "leaders". Blaming 'capitalism' is misses the real failings of our governments.

Isotope_C14 , April 5, 2020 at 5:57 am

Capitalism requires continual growth. That isn't possible on a world of finite resources. No government operating under a capitalist dogma can solve this inherent predicament.

You can blame the leaders all you like, but they are constrained by the system that can't see beyond the next quarterly profit projection.

Jane , April 5, 2020 at 6:23 am

The "real" failing of government is that they value capitalism over public good forgetting that if there is no public there is no capitalism.

cnchal , April 5, 2020 at 7:01 am

The word "capitalism" is a euphemism for "totally corrupt system".

The totally corrupt system has failed.

For example, were this an honest system, Goldman 666 would have been wiped out in the GFC and Blankfein would be living in a cardboard box under a freeway overpass instead of bragging and gloating about doing gawd's work while soaking in his looted billion dollars.

[Apr 05, 2020] If there's one industry where private equity has done the most to directly harm American public, it's health care

Apr 05, 2020 |

This KKR-Backed Healthcare Firm Just Slashed Doctors' Pay In The Middle Of An Unprecedented Pandemic

Even if they aren't exactly certain how the business model works, Twitter blue checks and the rest of the mainstream media - having been whipped into an anti-banker fervor by Bernie Sanders and the last glowing embers of Occupy - never pass up an opportunity to kick private equity in the nuts.

And if there's one industry where private equity has done the most to directly harm American public, it's health care.

Envision's Colorado headquarters

During the latter part of the Democratic primary campaign, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren primed the pump by extolling the evils of private equity to the public every chance they got, helping impress the term into the memory banks of legions of twentysomethings how the industry had contributed to America's health-care crisis, along with a multitude of other societal ills. Now, with the world in the grip of an unprecedented crisis, the industry is about to get pilloried once again - but this, much, much bigger than before, we suspect - as private equity-backed health-care companies, loaded down from their LBO debt binges, are forced to make cutbacks including slashing pay for doctors and nurses in the middle of a pandemic that has already killed nearly 9,500 Americans.

And now the KKR-backed Envision Healthcare Corp., one of the biggest medical providers backed by private equity, is poised to become the poster-child for Wall Street greed as it informs hundreds of doctors in its employ will not be receiving the bonus checks they had been expecting in April. Though we suspect this isn't a complete surprise, the cuts will deprive hundreds of doctors of roughly one-third of their total comp during an already extremely difficult time for them and their families. The company has promised to repay them at a later date once their financial situation has improved.

The move risks igniting a blowback that could make KKR one of "the most hated companies in the world. Just ask Martin Shkreli.

But the reason the company's financial position is so poor in the first place is because Envision carries more than $7 billion of debt. This debt was amassed during what was, according to data compiled by Bloomberg , the third-largest health-care LBO ever.

In a statement, Envision said it's "100% focused" on saving lives during this crisis, even though its business (ambulatory surgical centers and medical staffing) shrank more than 75% in two weeks, Bloomberg said. With so many Americans hiding at home and fearful of entering hospitals and doctor's offices, people are delaying elective and non-emergency care at unprecedented rates.

"We are on the front lines caring for patients during this unprecedented public health and economic crisis," the Nashville, Tennessee-based company said. "Envision Healthcare is 100 percent focused on saving lives and sustaining the nation's fragile health-care system. The safety net we provide for millions of patients must remain fully intact for when we get to the other side of this national crisis."

Like many companies, Envision completely drew down its two credit lines to provide financial flexibility in recent weeks (apparently it didn't listen to Larry Kudlow and Mnuchin). The company spends about $1.5 billion on compensation for physicians quarterly, an insider reportedly told BBG. The company has about $140 million to $150 million in debt payments due in the next two weeks, according to Mike Holland of Bloomberg Intelligence, and has $650 million of cash on its balance sheet. It has warned investors that it might need to raise more financing if circumstances continue to deteriorate.

The biggest problem for KKR, is that some of the physician groups are planning to sue the company; litigation could draw unwanted attention to KKR at a time when public anger is dangerously high.

But as the 'cockroach' theory suggests, Envision isn't alone: The boom in LBOs (part of the binge on corporate debt that also fueled the surge in buybacks) left many companies, especially in the health-care space, where many companies were built via a series of costly mergers and acquisitions.

[Apr 05, 2020] Did Bill Gates Just Reveal the Reason Behind the Lock-Downs

Apr 05, 2020 |

Jane In summary, all who were rich will be infinitely richer, But we will also have a flood-tide of people who will always be poorer. This will be another consequence of this fake epidemic, perhaps, who knows, created on purpose.

A comment on Peter Hitchens' article in today's Mail on Sunday (5th April) provided a link to an interview with Italian nano-pathologist Dr Stefano Montanari. Since he doesn't appear in OffG among the first twelve or subsequent ten scientists questioning the official Covid-19 narrative I am providing the link here in case anyone is interested. The site itself seems to have a save white identity bias, but in these strange times, politics makes strange bedfellows. 2 0 Reply Apr 5, 2020 1:38 PM

George Mc ,

Interesting interview. This bit especially:

There is one point we did not touch -- the economic, which is not part of my competence. We are now blocking the world and, as for Italy, the economy was already at a low point. What do they do? They freeze all activities but keep the stock exchange open. Stocks reach a low bottom. What does it mean? The ultra billionaire can easily purchase companies that are now worth pennies.

When eventually it will be decided that the (coronavirus) farce is ended -- and nothing will end because this virus will continue undaunted to do what it's doing now (or its evolving strains will do), the ultra-billionaires will own everything. The rich (a degree below the billionaires) will have bought, say, 3–4 restaurants and/or 10 stores that had to close.

In summary, all who were rich will be infinitely richer, But we will also have a flood-tide of people who will always be poorer. This will be another consequence of this fake epidemic, perhaps, who knows, created on purpose.

[Apr 05, 2020] The Death of American Competence by Stephen M. Walt

Notable quotes:
"... John Allen , Nicholas Burns , Laurie Garrett , Richard N. Haass , G. John Ikenberry , Kishore Mahbubani , Shivshankar Menon , Robin Niblett , Joseph S. Nye Jr. , Shannon K. O'Neil , Kori Schake , Stephen M. Walt ..."
Mar 23, 2020 |

No matter how the federal government responded, the United States was never going to escape COVID-19 entirely. Even Singapore, whose response to the virus seems to be the gold standard thus far, has several hundred confirmed cases . Nonetheless, U.S. President Donald Trump's administration's belated, self-centered, haphazard, and tone-deaf response will end up costing Americans trillions of dollars and thousands of otherwise preventable deaths. Even if the view that the dangers may have been exaggerated due to a lack of accurate data turns out to be correct, Trump's entire approach to governing and the administration's erratic response squandered public confidence and made a more measured reaction untenable. Despite his denials, he is still responsible for where the country is today.

But that's not the only damage the United States will suffer. Far from making "America great again," this epic policy failure will further tarnish the United States' reputation as a country that knows how to do things effectively.

For over a century, the United States' outsized influence around the world rested on three pillars. The first was the its awesome combination of economic and military strength. The United States had the world's largest and most sophisticated economy, the world's best universities and research centers, and a territory blessed with bountiful natural resources. These features eventually enabled the United States to create and maintain military forces that none of its rivals could match. Taken together, these combined assets gave the United States the loudest voice on the planet.

The second pillar was support from an array of allies. No country every agreed with everything Washington wanted to do, and some states opposed almost everything the United States sought or stood for, but many countries understood that they benefited from U.S. leadership and were usually willing to go along with it. Although the United States was almost always acting in its own self-interest, the fact that others had similar interests made it easier to persuade them to go along.

[ Mapping the Coronavirus Outbreak: Get daily updates on the pandemic and learn how it's affecting countries around the world.]

A third pillar, however, is broad confidence in U.S. competence. When other countries recognize the United States' strength, support its aims and believe U.S. officials know what they are doing, they are more likely to follow the United States' lead. If they doubt its power, its wisdom, or its ability to act effectively, U.S. global influence inevitably erodes. This reaction is entirely understandable: If the United States' leaders reveal themselves to be incompetent bunglers, why should foreign powers listen to their advice? Having a reputation for competence, in short, can be a critical force multiplier.

The glowing reputation that Americans used to enjoy was built up over many decades. It was partly a reflection of the United States' industrial might and world-class infrastructure: the network of highways, roads, railways, bridges, skyscrapers, dams, harbors, and airports that used to dazzle foreign visitors upon their arrival. Victory in World War II, the creation of the Bretton Woods economic institutions, innovative acts such as the Marshall Plan, and the successful moon landing all reinforced an image of the United States as a place where people knew how to set ambitious goals and bring them successfully to fruition.

Even blunders such as the Vietnam War did not fully tarnish the aura of competence that surrounded the United States. Indeed, the peaceful and victorious end of the Cold War and the smashing U.S. victory in the 1990-1991 Gulf War exorcized the ghosts of Vietnam and made the United States' model of liberal democratic capitalism seem like the obvious model for others to emulate. Add to that a continued stream of technological innovations -- the personal computer, the smartphone, and all those fancy weapons -- and one can understand why people around the world still looked upon the United States as a meritocratic, accomplished, and above all, competent country. Small wonder pundits such as Tom Friedman began to portray the United States as the only viable model for an increasingly globalized world , telling aspiring countries that if they wanted to succeed, they had to don the "Golden Straitjacket" and become more like the United States.

Over the past 25 years, however, the United States has done a remarkable job of squandering that invaluable reputation for responsible leadership and basic competence. The list of transgressions is long: there is former President Bill Clinton's irresponsible dalliance with a White House intern, former President George W. Bush's administration's failure to heed warnings of a terrorist attack before 9/11, the Enron and Madoff scandals, the bungled responses to Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and Hurricane Maria in 2017, the inability to either win or end the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the ill-advised interventions in Libya, Yemen, Syria, and elsewhere, the Wall Street meltdown of 2008, the Boeing 737 Max debacle, the Republican-led gridlock in Washington, and so on. Nor should we forget the long-concealed criminal misdeeds of Harvey Weinstein (and many others) and the sordid tale of the very well-connected Jeffrey Epstein, whose conveniently timed demise in a New York jail may prevent us from ever knowing the full extent of his -- and others' -- misconduct.

Read More

How the World Will Look After the Coronavirus Pandemic

The pandemic will change the world forever. We asked 12 leading global thinkers for their predictions.

Analysis | John Allen , Nicholas Burns , Laurie Garrett , Richard N. Haass , G. John Ikenberry , Kishore Mahbubani , Shivshankar Menon , Robin Niblett , Joseph S. Nye Jr. , Shannon K. O'Neil , Kori Schake , Stephen M. Walt

And all the while the United States told itself it was the greatest country in the world, with the ablest officials, the best-run businesses, the most sophisticated financial firms, and the most virtuous leaders. Instead, former Soviet Premier Nikolai Ryzhkov's description of life in the Soviet Union may be a more accurate description of American life than Americans would like to admit: "[We] stole from ourselves, took and gave bribes, lied in the reports, in newspapers, from high podiums, wallowed in our lies, hung medals on one another. And all of this -- from top to bottom and from bottom to top."

Then came COVID-19. Trump's handling of the crisis has been an embarrassing debacle from the start -- despite repeated warnings -- but it was also utterly predictable. His long business career has shown that he was more of a showman than a leader, better at conning people out of money and evading responsibility than at managing complex business operations. His tawdry personal life offered equally clear warnings. Since taking office, Trump has perfected the art of the lie, while gradually purging his administration of people with genuine expertise and relying instead on B-list hacks, sycophants, and his unqualified son-in-law. When suddenly faced with a complicated problem requiring grown-up leadership, it was inevitable that Trump would mishandle it and then deny responsibility . It is a failure of character unparalleled in U.S. history, and it could not have come at a worse time . The amazing thing is that anyone is even remotely surprised.

How did the United States get here? How did it squander its reputation for knowing what it is doing, and for being able to get the right things done as well or better than anyone else? I'm not sure, but let me venture a few guesses.

Part of the problem is the hubris that comes from the United States' remarkably favorable history. It has been by far the luckiest country in the modern world, and Americans started to assume that success was their birthright instead of something that needed to be earned, nurtured, and protected. And with that complacency came a willingness to gamble on utterly untried leadership, despite all of the warning signs described above.

A related problem, I'm inclined to think, has been a broader relaxing of standards and a refusal to hold people accountable. One can see this at many universities, where grade inflation is well entrenched, faculty have few incentives to judge poor work harshly, and more attention is paid to sports teams than to genuine academic achievement. The recent college recruiting scandal exposed the lengths to which well-heeled parents would go to get their kids into colleges for which they weren't qualified, but universities have acted similarly when they reserved slots of alumni children ("legacies") or for the offspring of major donors.

I've focused on higher education because that's the business I know best, but this problem is hardly confined there. In the contemporary United States, CEOs mismanage a company such as Boeing and then depart with multimillion-dollar golden parachutes . Top officials in the George W. Bush administration and a chorus of outside cheerleaders deceive themselves and the country into a foolish war in the Middle East, yet hardly any of them suffer adverse professional or personal consequences. Wall Street firms can crater the economy through a combination of greed, indifference, and fraud, and no one gets investigated, let alone prosecuted. Highly decorated generals favor "staying the course" in distant battles, fail to achieve victory, and then retire to corporate boards and influential positions as respected pundits. Meanwhile, whistleblowers and dedicated public servants strive to fulfill their oaths of office, only to be vilified , fired, or worse. When integrity and dedication go unrewarded and failure carries no penalty, competence is bound to suffer.

To speculate further, I suspect a broader cultural current of selfishness is at work here as well. Former President John Kennedy was no saint, but he did devote his adult life to public service and told Americans to "ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." By the time Ronald Reagan became president, however, Americans were being told that government was the enemy and (to quote the film Wall Street ) that "greed is good." The market was everything, public service was devalued, and taxes were for suckers. Having spent decades hollowing out many of their public institutions, Americans suddenly find themselves unprepared for a real public crisis. The apotheosis of this trend is Trump himself: How could a serious country possibly choose as its leader a narcissistic, manifestly unqualified self-promoter with a long track record of failure and deceit?

Am I overstating the case? Perhaps. There are plenty of American firms that still do terrific and innovative work; there are tens of thousands of scientists and scholars who remain more committed to searching for truth than to making a fast buck, and there are politicians and public servants at the local, state, and federal levels who are more interested in doing good than in getting reelected or feathering their own nests . There are dedicated teachers and hard-working students at every level of the U.S. educational system. But the rot is still widespread.

Absent a reversal of this trend, the United States' global influence will continue to recede. Not because the country has embraced "America First" and deliberately chosen to disengage, but because people around the world will not take its ideas or advice as seriously as they once did. They'll listen, perhaps, and they may agree with it from time to time, but the deference U.S. leaders used to be able to count on will fade. Once COVID-19 is over, Americans are likely to discover to their chagrin that other voices ( Beijing, anyone?) are receiving more respectful attention. That's not an omen of imminent disaster, but it will be a different world than the one Americans have been accustomed to inhabiting. At the margin, the broad contours of world politics and some important aspects of the world economy will no longer slant so heavily in the United States' favor.

Can this situation be fixed? I don't know. Cultural rot cannot be fixed by legislation, executive orders, or even jeremiads like this one. One may hope that the present crisis will remind enough Americans that having competent and reliable people in key leadership positions really matters, and that holding people more accountable for corruption, cronyism, or sheer incompetence is essential to effective public policies. Whether you favor a big welfare state or a small libertarian one, you should above all want it to be competently led and staffed with knowledgeable and dedicated experts. Whoever the next president is, he needs to staff his administration with people who have demonstrated qualifications for the jobs they are assigned, instead of being chosen for their personal loyalty or their talents as sycophants.

Americans will need to rethink a political system that recruits and rewards those who are most adept at selling themselves to the highest bidder. And there has to be something seriously wrong with a political system that has devoted many months and spent billions of dollars preparing for the 2020 election and ends up giving the country a choice between three old white guys. For that matter, Americans ought to rethink whether spending a full year electing someone to a four year term makes any sense at all . No other advanced democracy does it this way. And while we're at it, let's scrap the absurd Electoral College, an indefensible relic that systematically disempowers voters in most of the country.

Looking forward, the possibility of fundamental political change is the only silver lining I can see right now. America hasn't faced a crisis like this since the 1930s and 1940s, and it was in a better position to meet those challenges then than it is today. But a previous generation of Americans eventually rose to the occasion, and showed themselves and the world what their country could do. It is upon Americans now to remember that experience, put the past few decades of hubris, division, and indulgence aside, and prove that their country is still competent enough to figure out what it needs to do. And then they need to do it.

[Apr 05, 2020] Hegemonic ideologies tend to naturalize socioculturally-generated pathologies, often dismissing them as "human nature."

Greed is good/ Of course it is, but not for everybody ;-)
Apr 05, 2020 |
susan , Apr 3 2020 3:18 utc | 192
Richard Steven Hack @101

Since two others have mentioned this, I'll thrown this out.

Hegemonic ideologies tend to naturalize socioculturally-generated pathologies, often dismissing them as "human nature."

I don't understand you to be necessarily doing this when you identify "human nature" with callous self-centeredness given your other writing (and generously shared links) but it does sound like you are using the term too loosely in your post for materialists and others to philosophically stomach. I am not the only one who objected to the usage upon reading.

Can "human nature" be identified, labeled, discussed separate from historical and material conditions? Is "human nature" not constituted via dialectical processes at multiple levels occurring through time and space, not least of all cultural which is shaped by socioeconomic conditions.

[Apr 04, 2020] The real problem may eventually be can we prevent the deaths and destruction caused by the corporate neoliberal virus.

Apr 04, 2020 |

Blue Dotterel , Apr 3 2020 19:26 utc | 15

The real problem may eventually be can we prevent the deaths and destruction caused by the corporate neoliberal virus.

We can deal with Covid 19.

[Apr 03, 2020] Elites who are not aligned with the actual productive activities of society and are engaged primarily in activities which are contrary to production, are decadent.

Apr 03, 2020 |

Bemildred , Apr 2 2020 20:25 utc | 69

Ian Welsh:

Why Western Elites Are So Incompetent And What The Consequences Are

Let's chalk this up to aristocratic elites. Aristocrats, unlike nobles, are decadent, but don't stop with that word, understand what it means.

Elites who are not aligned with the actual productive activities of society and are engaged primarily in activities which are contrary to production, are decadent. This was true in Ancien Regime France (and deliberately fostered by Louis XIV as a way of emasculating the nobility.) It is true today of most Western elites: they concentrate on financial numbers, and not on actual production. Even those who are somewhat competent, tend not to be truly productive: see the Waltons, who made their money as distributers–merchants.

[Apr 02, 2020] Putin says 'the rich must pay' for the corona-virus by Mike Whitney

Apr 02, 2020 |

cassandra , says: Show Comment March 28, 2020 at 9:03 pm GMT

Putin, like western leaders, often discusses national problems during his appearances. But afterwards, he'll query responsible ministers about questionable policies, and will make sure that an effective solution will be put in place. He'll also mention problems during his speeches, and will then follow the discussion, usually in some detail, with how progress is being made to fix them.

Western leaders, on the other hand, engage in hand-wringing about how difficult the problems are, and that we'll have to learn to helplessly adapt ("It's a new economy", "These jobs aren't coming back."), or fob off their responsibility with dysfunctional suggestions ("Learn to code," as if that were a solution, or impose an economic package on Greece that will take until 2040 just to find out whether it might be working), or just pride themselves on realizing there's a problem (like the EU, who considers it an accomplishment to "identify challenges", and who adopted a policy of wait and see for COVID-19).

There's such a palpable difference between actual leadership and play-acting.

Trump, Sanders and Tulsi all share 3 things: 1) proposals for policies to improve circumstances that involve making real changes to the status quo 2) strong grassroots based on disgust with elite policies 3) accusations that they are agents of Putin.

I dunno, if the elites kep attempting to thwart competent domestic leadership, maybe we should shoot for an amendment that puts Putin directly on the ballot. At least he would know how to get elected. Then, we cut through the innuendo and make it clear that what voters want is actual leadership. What have we got to lose?

[Apr 02, 2020] NY paying 15 times going rate to get crucial medical equipment report TheHill

Apr 02, 2020 |

New York is paying inflated rates as high as 15 times the regular price to get crucial medical equipment such as masks, as the state struggles to contain the coronavirus, ProPublica

reported Thursday.

The state with almost 40 percent of the confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country is paying 20 cents for gloves that typically cost three times less and $7.50 for masks, which is 15 times the regular price, according to an analysis of payment data by ProPublica.

New York also has paid more than twice the typical cost for infusion pumps. A portable X-ray machine cost the state $248,841, when it should be between $30,000 and $80,000.

States across the country have complained to the federal government about severe shortages of equipment. They say they've been forced to compete with other states or countries for precious materials.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has compared the situation to "being on eBay with 50 other states" and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

New York expects to lose $15 billion in costs and lost revenue from the pandemic.

"We know that New York and other states are in the market at the same time, along with the rest of the world, bidding on these same items, which is clearly driving the fluctuation in costs," budget office spokesman Freeman Klopott said in an email to ProPublica.

[Apr 01, 2020] One Of The Worst Coverups In Human History MSM Attention Turns To Chinese Biolab Near COVID-19 Ground Zero

Apr 01, 2020 |

In late January we asked whether a prolific Chinese scientist who was experimenting with bat coronavirus at a level-4 biolab in Wuhan China was responsible for the current outbreak of a virus which is 96% genetically identical - and which saw an explosion in cases at a wet market located just down the street .

For suggesting this, we were kicked off Twitter and had the pleasure of several articles written by MSM hacks regarding our 'conspiracy theory' - none of which addressed the plethora of hard evidence linked in the post. These are the same people, mind you, who pushed the outlandish and evidence-free Trump-Russia conspiracy theory for years .

Whether or not the virus was engineered (scientists swear it wasn't) - it shouldn't take Perry Mason to conclude that a virulent coronavirus outbreak which started near a biolab that was experimenting with -- coronavirus -- bears scrutiny . Could a lab worker have accidentally infected themselves - then gone shopping for meat at the market over several days, during the long, asymptomatic incubation period?

In February, researchers Botao Xial and Lei Xiao published a quickly-retracted paper titled "The possible origins of 2019-nCoV coronavirus" - which speculated that the virus came from the Wuhan biolab.

Now, mainstream outlets are catching on - or at least have become brave enough to similarly connect the dots.

Earlier this week, Fox News ' Tucker Carlson suggested that COVID-19 may have originated in a lab.

Tucker Carlson is currently citing a report that he openly admits he can't confirm is true to question if coronavirus was made in a lab

-- Andrew Lawrence (@ndrew_lawrence) April 1, 2020

And now, the Washington Times is out with a report titled "Chinese researchers isolated deadly bat coronaviruses near Wuhan animal market."

Chinese government researchers isolated more than 2,000 new viruses, including deadly bat coronaviruses, and carried out scientific work on them just three miles from a wild animal market identified as the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Several Chinese state media outlets in recent months touted the virus research and lionized in particular a key researcher in Wuhan , Tian Junhua , as a leader in bat virus work.

The coronavirus strain now infecting hundreds of thousands of people globally mutated from bats believed to have infected animals and people at a wild animal market in Wuhan . The exact origin of the virus, however, remains a mystery. - Washington Times

"This is one of the worst cover-ups in human history, and now the world is facing a global pandemic," said Texas GOP Rep. Michael T. McFoul - a ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee . McFoul believes China should be held accountable for the outbreak.

Meanwhile, a video from December funded by the Chinese government shows Tian collecting samples from captured bats and storing them in vials.

"I am not a doctor, but I work to cure and save people," said Tian, adding "I am not a soldier, but I work to safeguard an invisible national defense line."

The mainstream theory behind the virus is that it crossed over to humans after first infecting an intermediary species - such as a pangolin.

Read the rest of the report here .

[Apr 01, 2020] Pandemic-Related Unemployment And Shutdowns Are A Recipe For Social Unrest

Mar 31, 2020 |
Authored by J.D.Tuccille via,

Could the stalled economy we've inflicted on ourselves in our frantic efforts to battle the COVID-19 pandemic lead to civil disorder? History suggests that's a real danger.

Around the world, high unemployment and stagnant economic activity tend to lead to social unrest, including demonstrations, strikes, and other forms of potentially violent disruptions. That's a huge concern as forecasters expect the U.S. unemployment rate in the months to come to surpass that seen during the depths of the Great Depression.

"We're putting this initial number at 30 percent; that's a 30 percent unemployment rate" in the second quarter of this year as a result of the planned economic shutdowns, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard told Bloomberg News on March 22. Gross Domestic Product, he adds, is expected to drop by 50 percent.

Unlike most bouts of economic malaise, this is a self-inflicted wound meant to counter a serious public health crisis. But, whatever the reasons, it means businesses shuttered and people without jobs and incomes. That's risky.

"Results from the empirical analysis indicate that economic growth and the unemployment rate are the two most important determinants of social unrest," notes the International Labour Organisation (ILO), a United Nations agency that maintains a Social Unrest Index in an attempt to predict civil disorder based, in part, on economic trends. "For example, a one standard deviation increase in unemployment raises social unrest by 0.39 standard deviations, while a one standard deviation increase in GDP growth reduces social unrest by 0.19 standard deviations."

Why would economic shutdowns lead to social unrest? Because, contrary to the airy dismissals of some members of the political class and many ivory-tower types, commerce isn't a grubby embarrassment to be tolerated and avoided -- it's the life's blood of a society. Jobs and businesses keep people alive. They represent the activities that meet demand for food, clothing, shelter -- and that develop and distribute the medicine and medical supplies we need to battle COVID-19.

President Donald Trump may be overly optimistic when he hopes to have the country, including areas hard-hit by the virus, " opened up and just raring to go by Easter ," but he's not wrong to include the economy in his calculations.

By contrast, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's insistence that "if it's public health versus the economy, the only choice is public health," sounds fine and noble. But it reflects an unrealistic and semi-aristocratic disdain for the activities that make fighting the pandemic possible at all -- and that keep social unrest at bay.

While the ILO has tried to quantify the causes of social unrest, its researchers certainly aren't the first to make the connection between angry, unemployed people and trouble in the streets.

At the height of the Great Depression, when U.S. unemployment hit a peak of 24.9 percent , Franklin Delano Roosevelt's administration saw make-work programs such as the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) as a means of getting the jobless -- especially young men -- safely into "quasi-military camps often far from home in the nation's publicly owned forests and parks," Joseph M. Speakman wrote for the Fall 2006 issue of Prologue Magazine , a publication of the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.

"Bringing an army of the unemployed into 'healthful surroundings,' Roosevelt argued, would help to eliminate the threats to social stability that enforced idleness had created," Speakman added.

The program mostly worked -- at least , it confined revolts to the camps themselves , where they were suppressed by Army officers. Those same officers commanded the men when they were drafted and dispatched to even more remote destinations with the coming of World War II.

In fact, the connection between unemployment, stagnant economies, and social unrest is so clear that an important indicator for a large underground economy is relative peace prevailing alongside a chronically high unemployment rate.

If 21 percent of the workforce "were jobless, Spain would not be as peaceful as, barring a few demonstrations, it has so far been, say economists and business leaders," the Financial Times noted in 2011. Sure enough, researchers found that off-the-books businesses and jobs thrived in Spain -- accounting for the equivalent of a quarter of GDP at one point -- keeping people employed and defusing tensions.

Bullard of the Fed doesn't propose shipping the jobless off to the wilderness -- at least, not yet -- and he doesn't seem inclined to rely on the black market to keep people fed, warm, and healthy. Instead, to defuse the impact of the social-distancing shutdowns of normal economic activity, he calls for lost income to be replaced by unemployment insurance and other payments that would make displaced workers and business owners whole.

He better be right that government checks -- drawing on money from the thin air and not generated by an economy that has largely halted, I'll note -- can offset the pain of lost jobs and businesses, because the first wave of the unemployment he predicts is already here.

"In the week ending March 21, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 3,283,000, an increase of 3,001,000 from the previous week's revised level," the United States Department of Labor announced on Thursday, March 26.

"This marks the highest level of seasonally adjusted initial claims in the history of the seasonally adjusted series."

Those disturbed by such economic collapse include public health professionals who take COVID-19 very seriously.

"I am deeply concerned that the social, economic and public health consequences of this near total meltdown of normal life -- schools and businesses closed, gatherings banned -- will be long lasting and calamitous, possibly graver than the direct toll of the virus itself," wrote David L. Katz, former director of Yale University's Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center, in The New York Times last week.

"The stock market will bounce back in time, but many businesses never will. The unemployment, impoverishment and despair likely to result will be public health scourges of the first order."

Unemployment, impoverishment, and despair are frightening outcomes in themselves. They're also a recipe for social unrest that will afflict even those of us who weather both the pandemic and the accompanying economic storm.

[Apr 01, 2020] Trump, Putin Will Discuss The End Of U.S. Shale Oil

Apr 01, 2020 |

Jackrabbit , Mar 30 2020 18:14 utc | 6

Trump announced that he would use the cheap prices to fill the U.S. strategic oil reserve. But the spare room in the reserve storage at that time was only some 150 million barrels. As it can only be filled at a rate of 2 million barrels per day the topping off of the reserve is insignificant in the current market.

The oil producers at first pumped their oil into storage tanks to be sold later. When those filled up they rented supertankers to store the oil at sea. But empty supertankers are now also getting rare and the price for them is increasing :

The CEO of the world's largest tanker owner, Frontline Ltd., said on Friday that he'd never known such demand to hire ships for long-term storage. Traders could book ships to put 100 million barrels at sea this week alone, he estimated, but even that could accounts for less than a week's oversupply.

The only solution will be a shut down of the more expensive oil fields. Canada and Brazil are already doing it. U.S. shale producers who are bleeding cash will now have to follow.

That is clearly what Russia wants :

As soon as U.S. shale leaves the market, prices will rebound and could reach $60 a barrel, Rosneft's Igor Sechin said recently. As fate would have it, in what many would have until recently considered an impossible scenario, a lot of U.S. shale might do just that.

Breakeven prices for U.S. shale basins range between $39 and $48 a barrel, according to data compiled by Reuters. Meanwhile, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) is trading below $25 a barrel and has been for over a week now.

The Trump administration has asked the Saudis to produce less oil but as the Saudi tourist industry is currently also dead the Saudi clown prince needs every dollar he can get. The Saudis will continue to pump and they will sell their oil at any price.

The White House is now concerned that it will completely lose its beloved shale oil industry and all the jobs connected to it.

Russia of cause knows this and a few days ago it made an interesting offer :

A new OPEC+ deal to balance oil markets might be possible if other countries join in, Kirill Dmitriev, head of Russia's sovereign wealth fund said, adding that countries should also cooperate to cushion the economic fallout from coronavirus.
"Joint actions by countries are needed to restore the(global) economy... They (joint actions) are also possible in OPEC+ deal's framework," Dmitriev, head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), told Reuters in a phone interview.
"We are in contact with Saudi Arabia and a number of other countries. Based on these contacts we see that if the number of OPEC+ members will increase and other countries will join there is a possibility of a joint agreement to balance oil markets."

Dmitriev declined to say who the new deal's members should or could be. U.S. President Donald Trump said last week he would get involved in the oil price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia at the appropriate time.

A logical new member of an expanded crude oil cartel would be one of the biggest global producer that so far was not a member of that club - the U.S. of A.

We now learn that Trump is ready to talk about that or other concepts:

As Ria reports (in Russian) the topics of upcoming phone call [between Putin and Trump] will be Covid-19, trade (???) and, you guessed it, oil prices.

Trump, who sanctioned the Russian-German Nord-Stream II pipeline while telling Germany to buy U.S. shale gas, is now in a quite bad negotiation position. Russia does not need a new OPEC deal right now. It has many financial reserves and can live with low oil prices for much longer than the Saudis and other oil producing countries. Trump would have to make a strategic offer that Russia could not resist to get some cooperation on oil prices.

But what strategic offer could Trump make that would move Putin to agree to some new deal?

Ukraine? Russia is not interested in that unrulable , bankrupt and fascist infested entity.

Syria? The Zionist billionaires would stop their donations to Trump if he were to give up on destroying it.

Joining an OPEC++ deal and limit U.S. oil production? That would be an anti-American intervention in free markets and Congress would never agree to it.

And what reason has Russia to believe that Trump or his successor would stick to any deal? As the U.S. is non-agreement-capable it has none.

The outcome of the phone call will therefore likely be nothing.

The carnage in the oil markets will continue and will ravage those producer countries that need every penny while the corona virus is ravaging their people. Meanwhile the U.S. shale market will go bust . US financial companies had a big exposure to the Shale Oil frackers.

Good thing trillions of dollars of 'liquidity' has been shoveled their way.

<> <> <> <> <>

Lender of last resort: the unborn.


Thomas Minnehan , Mar 30 2020 18:15 utc | 7

One aspect of the crude complete collapse is to keep an eye on futures and the serious contango at the moment: contango=prices on future contracts are higher than current contract.

e.g. May 2020 CL contract=~$20, May 2021 =~$35.50.

Someone or someones are betting that the crude market will improve, i.e. they are storing crude in very large crude carriers (VLCC) @>$200k per day lease cost. That is a serious commitment/bet on future price/mkt improvement.

karlof1 , Mar 30 2020 18:32 utc | 9
Unmentioned is the connection between Fracking Fraud and the Bond Market Bubble with Congress actively intervening/abetting the Fraud by providing more money to the Ponzi Scheme.
vk , Mar 30 2020 19:18 utc | 22
It was time. The shale industry already was a huge bubble even when oil prices were at USD 60.00 (because it had to borrow a lot to invest, and the more wells drilled, the lower was the oil output per USD invested), which insiders in Wall Street were already discussing how to burst it.

And this is a 100% intentional by the Russians. If American shale really go down, then it would be ironic, since it was the oil crisis of 1975 that effectively ended the Soviet Union.

Vengeance is dish best served cold indeed.

Krollchem , Mar 30 2020 19:28 utc | 26
Another factor going against the shale fracking pipe dream is that the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) is filled with real oil. Fracking produces light condensate (not oil) that does not meet this criteria, and thus the frackers will not benefit from filling the SPR (unless Trump changes the rules)

Besides, Exxon wants to crush the independent oil shale players and pick up the pieces at pennies on the dollar. Furthermore, former ExxonMobil head Lee Raymond once stated that "Exxon U.S. is not a "company and I don't make decisions based on what's good for the U.S."

David , Mar 30 2020 19:35 utc | 28
A study by the Wall Street Journal concluded that in one ten year period, the shale oil companies' total costs had exceeded their revenues by two hundred and eighty billion dollars. They have stayed in business by issuing new stock and more debt to cover their losses. Their prime fields are seeing production declines. Their costs are rising as the price of is oil tanking. Collapse is imminent. It's going to have far-reaching consequences.
TG , Mar 30 2020 20:04 utc | 37
Yet another example of the utter intellectual bankruptcy of the US ruling class. They've been playing a rigged game for so long, they've forgotten how to think.

As others here have pointed out, not to worry, the US fracking industry will get bailed out.

The real thing the US might do, is not to join an expanded OPEC+, but to limit imports of foreign oil and protect the domestic industry. Contrary to current 'free trade' dogma, protectionism does work (example A: the United States from 1776 to 1970. Any questions?), but classically you want to limit imports of MANUFACTURED goods and keep the cost of raw materials low. Increasing the relative costs of raw materials in the US while still allowing mass importation of manufactured goods from low-wage nations is anti-Hamiltonian and will crush what remains of US domestic manufacturing..)

Krypton , Mar 30 2020 20:06 utc | 38
Meanwhile Western Canadian Select is now going for $5 a barrel - less than the price of a coffee and muffin at Starbucks.
Michael Droy , Mar 30 2020 20:11 utc | 40
Not sure the US shale market can "go bust" as such. The owners can go bankrupt, but that just means banks and bondholders become the new owners, and their debt investment suddenly turns into equity investment with zero gearing. Once that happens the US shale producers become solid companies financed with zero debt and no incentive to hold back on production. They pump and pump and pump until the pumps no longer work.
Sure, no new developments, but the existing infrastructure will last a few years yet.
Hal Duell , Mar 30 2020 20:15 utc | 41
I don't see a way out for the US fracking industry. Their product is too expensive in the current times, and those setting the rules in these times (Russia and Saud Arabia) have no good reason to help.
The social damage from a collapse in the US will be papered over with printed money. I don't know how that will play out.
One scenario is time being called on the US's forever-wars in the Middle East, but would they be replaced by an invasion of Venezuela? There is good stuff down there, as well as the heavy stuff they've been pulling out. And just across the border into Brazil there is some high ground that looks like a good spot to build a command post.
The US could cut its losses in the wider world, something that seems to be happening anyway, and return to America, north and south. I don't see it just quietly going down the gurgler, but the European Union might.
Stonebird , Mar 30 2020 20:35 utc | 46
Of course it is already a war. The question I ask is, who is fighting and against whom?
The tactical aim at the moment is the end of the petro-dollar. A secondary aim is finding a limit to US militarism. Which in turn depends on the pork.... soorry.... the grifting of large sums of unlimited largess. Third, is trade and domination of markets including sanctions and "treaties". Fourth, is the "domination" of population dissent and overriding Judicial systems.

So the US, China and Russia are at it "hammer and tongs" (old saying but apt). Covid is just one means to an end, regime change another. Who else is in the fight? I would suggest that the Oligarchy and the Termites, the Fed and the deep parallel financial pool, the uncontrolled but unified intelligence "agencies", all have their own agendas.

naiverealist , Mar 30 2020 20:40 utc | 48
Posted by: Laguerre | Mar 30 2020 19:14 utc | 21

"The slow collapse of the US position in Iraq means that the US is not going to hold those oil-fields for too long."

Remember where this oil is going to. During the previous presidential term, it was discovered that the oil was going into Turkey, aided and abetted by the profiteers Erdogan and his son, and then onto oil tankers that shipped it to Occupied Palestine. Current production is also going into Jordan, where it is being shipped by pipeline into the refinery in Eliat(?). I can only surmise the price to be extremely cheap.

So the inhabitants of Occupied Palestine will expect the US to maintain this flow as long as they can, come hell or dead GIs.

vk , Mar 30 2020 20:41 utc | 49
The problem with shale became clear right after the first wells were drilled.

If I understood the reports from the "shale bubble" website correctly, originally the magic over shale gas and oil came from the fact that Wall Street was involved since the beginning (so it was a "coastal elites/heartland rednecks alliance" from birth) and the expectation was that a horizontal well would perform the same way as the traditional vertical well.

A traditional vertical well follows are normal curve graphic, imitating a hill. It starts low, but keeps growing until reaching a peak, maintains this peak for a while (some decades) and then begin a suave fall, which also takes decades.

No wonder, then, the huge euphoria that started in Wall Street when those horizontal wells begun pumping out oil at absurd quantities - they imagine that was the output floor of such wells, and that productivity would only rise after the decades. Indeed, it was predicted at the time that the USA not only was firmly walking towards self-sufficiency - many also predicted it would become the world's greatest oil exporter (yes, above Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Russia etc.).

But this euphoria was short-lived, as, some years later, productivity of the horizontal wells begun to suddenly fall. It was then realized, after further research, that those wells performed differently than the vertical wells: they begun directly with peak production, then immediately started to fall. Their output graphic looks like an upside-down, slightly inclined letter L.

Even after this discovery, the investors didn't immediately give up. They thought: let's just drill longer wells. And they did. It was then that another problem came out: it seems that, after 3-5 miles, those horizontal wells suddenly lose a lot of pressure necessary to pump the oil out of it. To make things worse, after this length, they begin to suck out pressure from the neighboring wells as well. Therefore, it is a self-defeating enterprise to extend the horizontal wells beyond 3 miles length. And the situation is even direr because shale reserves are usually concentrated in one specific area - it's not like you can drill one horizontal well in Ohio and another one in Florida and so on: the rule of thumb that the oil and gas "must be there" to be extracted in economically viable quantities still do apply to horizontal wells.

After that, all that kept the American shale industry alive was Wall Street and its rotten papers recycling machine.

El Cid , Mar 30 2020 20:44 utc | 50
The US unilateral economic siege on Venezuela and Iran has the affect of cutting world oil supply that benefits US shale and fracking industry.
karlof1 , Mar 30 2020 20:56 utc | 55
A friendly reminder to all barflies that fracking within the Outlaw US Empire also takes more energy to operate than the energy extracted. The business was bankrupt before it began, and nothing can change that fundamental fact.
Likklemore , Mar 30 2020 22:00 utc | 70
China will 'compel' Saudi Arabia to trade oil in yuan -- and that's going to affect the US dollar
from CNBC, Oct.2017
"I believe that yuan pricing of oil is coming and as soon as the Saudis move to accept it -- as the Chinese will compel them to do -- then the rest of the oil market will move along with them," Carl Weinberg, chief economist and managing director at High Frequency Economics, told CNBC

Also, recall the recent ARAMCO IPO, reportedly China took a 5 % stake. Hmmm. Was it with USTs?

occupatio , Mar 31 2020 0:16 utc | 89
The minute the Al Saud family begins accepting yuan for oil their days are numbered.
The US put them there, put the Saudi in Saudi Arabia. Any move to accept yuan will be seen as betrayal, and the Al Sauds will be removed, either replaced or simply obliterated.
Posted by: Realist | Mar 30 2020 23:21 utc | 86


If Saudi Arabia shifts to the Yuan, it would have to diversify away from buying US arms. They might be the undisclosed buyer of high-end Chinese missiles, said to have an "urgent need" for them, as per Chinese media on 2020/3/29. This news might be functioning as diplomatic signalling.

Chinese high-end missile sees first export delivery despite pandemic

It was the first time a third-generation anti-tank weapon system developed by the Chinese company has been exported, according to the statement.

As the client was in urgent need of the missiles, the successful delivery had significant meaning for establishing Norinco's (China North Industries Group Corporation) market position and further opening up the market, the company said.

Norinco did not disclose more details on the deal in the statement, including the name of the buyer, the quantity purchased and the value of the deal.

Likklemore , Mar 31 2020 0:37 utc | 91
The US put them there, put the Saudi in Saudi Arabia. Any move to accept yuan will be seen as betrayal, and the Al Sauds will be removed, either replaced or simply obliterated.

You hug that thought. Newsflash: The horses camels have already bolted. China is expanding its presence/influence in ME.

These 35 agreements with KSA,'centered around ways to align the Saudi Vision 2030 with the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative' will not be in USD - unless China is unloading USTs. There is nothing US can do except sell more arms to the kingdom. Reuters, WSJ reported the big signing and likely, CNN, Fox, ABC buried it.

"Saudi crown prince signs raft of cooperation agreements with China
Feb.22, 2019
BEIJING: Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Friday met with Chinese Vice Premier Han Zheng to discuss ways of further developing relations between the Kingdom and China.

The meeting took place in the grand surroundings of the Great Hall of the People in the Chinese capital Beijing. After their talks, the crown prince headed the Saudi delegation at the third session of the China-Saudi Arabia High-Level Joint Committee which he co-chaired with Zheng.

Delegates at the meeting discussed moves to strengthen cooperation between the two countries on trade, investment, energy, culture and technology, as well as the coordination of political and security matters. The committee also reviewed plans for greater integration between China's Belt and Road development strategy and the Saudi Vision 2030 reform program.

After agreeing on the minutes of the meeting, the Saudi royal and Zheng took part in the signing of a range of agreements, memorandums of understanding (MoU), investment projects and bilateral cooperation accords between the Kingdom and China:[.]

MoU between the Kingdom's Ministry of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources and the National Development and Reform Commission in China, signed by Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih and Ning Jizhe, vice chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission.

MoU between the Chinese Ministry of Commerce and Saudi Ministry of Commerce and Investment to form a working group to facilitate trade, signed by Abdul Rahman Al-Harbi, the Kingdom's deputy minister of commerce and investment, and Qian Keming, Chinese vice minister of commerce.[.]

Piotr Berman , Mar 31 2020 1:46 utc | 99
Deciphering the mental processes of MBS is always speculative, but it is very hard for KSA to deliver on the threat to increase the deliveries by 2.5 mln bbl/day. As we can see, planes fly only a fraction of pre-virus level, people on quarantine drive much less, you can offer fuel for free and it will not sell more. Now, if you could offer some hand sanitizer and facial tissues with each "full tank", perhaps it could work... But stopping oil production is troublesome for some reasons, to the ignorant me it seems that if you interrupt flow dynamic of oil, it is troublesome to restart it, shale oil may suffer from something similar. Thus tanker ships are being filled up and used for storage as destination ports refuse to take cargoes invoking "higher power". Hapless KSA cannot find enough tankers, and when they find them, hard to find a port to accept them. So KSA combative threat could impact psychology of the traders, but the virus made a dent in demand of several times larger magnitude.

Nobody knows how long the demand will stay low, but as it does, storage will be bursting, renting tanker ships became expensive. so the glut it will take time to dissipate (folks renting the tanker ships will be pressed to get rid of the cargoes at the first opportunity), and with no coordination to cut the production, low prices may stay for a year or more. This seems necessary to cut shale oil and other high cost oil project down to size. Periodic down period of pricing does not change long term calculations, but long periods will drive a lot of small players out of business. This means so-called consolidation, creditors become owners and sell it to vultures (regular folks cannot own something that costs more to maintain than it brings revenue). And what do the vultures do? "Paring excess capacity". Happened to many industries in the past. And even brainless bankers will give it two thoughts before lending money for projects in high cost oil production.

BTW, Putin is doing a gently MBS-like manouver, with the assist from Trump. To wit, Russia started to tax repatriated profits -- no need to imprison the account holders in Ritz Carton. But why would they be motivated to repatriate the profits back to Mother Russia? A patriotic virus? Or pestering with account freezes that Trumpian robbers are so fond of doing?

One mystery for me is why Canadians bother to produce oil with single-digit prices. Stopping tar oil production should be simple, just mothball the equipment.

One rumour in the oil patch is that USG will give them bail out. That could be a boon for green thinking idealists who are hostile to carbon energy production, because many deplorables do not like bailout (unless they are the beneficiaries). This could allow Trump to be defeated by a brain dead opponent.

daffyDuct , Mar 31 2020 2:28 utc | 101
"Bloomberg reports that Plains All American Pipeline asked its suppliers to scale back production,
and Plains and Enterprise Products Partners is requiring customers to prove they have a buyer or place to offload the crude they are shipping
The companies made the requests during the past week.

This is a clear sign that a growing glut of crude is overwhelming storage capacity. Pipeline companies are running out of storage space for oil. Coronavirus related lockdowns are resulting in plunging demand."!/pipeline-operators-asking-oil-producers-to-reduce-output-growing-glut-is-capacity-20200329

Bill , Mar 31 2020 15:34 utc | 137

Hajj revenues poised to exceed $150bn by 2022: Experts

(the article refers to both Hajj and Umrah revenues)

If that actually occurred it would exceed SA's 2019 $88bn oil revenue by a good margin

Canthama , Mar 31 2020 17:26 utc | 152
It is payback time for Russia no doubt, but Russia plays always the long game, any decision or concession will always be related to the long game. for Russia, which is the global leader in energy supplier (oil, gas & nuclear).
Russia got really mad with the Nordstream II delay, this is something Russia will not forget that easy, besides costing them a lot, it was some sort of global humiliation, that combination is pure fire. Even if the sanction are lifted now, Nordstream would start late 2020 and not late 2019....1 year delay anyway, so lifting sanctions won't matter here.
My first reaction is that Russia will not agree with the USA in anything, it will drive the shale market dry for a little longer, it must if it wants to cause long term problems for the players in the US, so no short term relieve for the shale players here, and if Russia does agree in the OPEC++ with the US and other export players then this will take time, and then US Gov can not intervene in the local production, more time...and no results, at the end the US will have to give up something, and I do not think lifting sanctions will be it, they may try it, bit it has no real value for Russia....only a global military retreat, something that will cost dearly, politically and in image will. serve Russia and its key strategic ally...China, mind you that cheap oil and gas helps China's recovery...March nbrs came in from China and it has already shown a better recovery than expected.
This is the only way I can see Russia playing the long game, together with China and a major strategic geopolitical defeat for the US.
JC , Mar 31 2020 17:46 utc | 154
Posted by: Canthama | Mar 31 2020 17:26 utc | 152

"This is the only way I can see Russia playing the long game, together with China and a major strategic geopolitical defeat for the US."

I like what you said, but Russia and China must continue supports one another. Both should also supports Iran and Venezuela too.

[Apr 01, 2020] Trump Shifts to Worry Over Oil Rout, Discusses Prices With Putin

Apr 01, 2020 |

(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump said he's concerned oil prices have fallen too far and called Vladimir Putin on Monday to discuss Russia's oil-price war with Saudi Arabia.

The leaders, who also talked about the spread of the coronavirus, agreed to discussions on oil between energy officials in the two countries, according to the Kremlin. Both leaders "agreed on the importance of stability in global energy markets," the White House said in a statement.

The U.S. president said earlier he doesn't want to see the American energy sector "wiped out" after Russia and Saudi Arabia "both went crazy" and launched into a conflict that depressed oil prices.

"I never thought I'd be saying that maybe we have to have an oil increase, because we do. The price is so low," Trump said in an interview on "Fox & Friends."

Crude oil futures tumbled as much as 7.7% in New York, touching an 18-year low.

The Trump-Putin call came at the request of the U.S. and was "prolonged," according to the Kremlin. Neither the White House or Kremlin statements said specifically how long the two leaders talked.

Trump's view on the oil dispute marks a shift from earlier this month, when he likened the plunge in oil prices to a "tax cut" for Americans. The U.S. president spoke to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on March 9 about the price war.

Trump has long argued that improving relations between Washington and Moscow could help solve international disputes. The president said he wanted to discuss trade with Putin, though he said he expected the Russian president to raise objections to U.S. sanctions. State-run Tass quoted Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying that Putin didn't ask Trump for sanctions relief on the call.

Oil tumbled earlier to its lowest point in nearly two decades, heading for the worst quarter on record as coronavirus lockdowns cascaded through the world's largest economies, leaving the market overwhelmed by cratering demand and a ballooning surplus. The slump in demand has shut refineries from South Africa to Canada.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. estimates consumption will drop by 26 million barrels a day this week. Meanwhile, Riyadh and Moscow are showing no signs of a detente in their supply battle as Saudi Arabia announced plans to increase its oil exports in the coming months, despite U.S. warnings against flooding the market.

Some analysts argue Russia's motivations extend well beyond oil and are complicated by the federation's anger over U.S. sanctions and opposition to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline linking Russia to Germany. And the price for getting Russia to back down could be too high.

"Russia's concerns with the U.S. go beyond market share. Putin is frustrated with sanctions and may be more interested in punishing the U.S. than Saudi Arabia," said Dan Eberhart, a Trump donor and chief executive of drilling services company Canary LLC. "If Trump wants an agreement with Putin, he may have to promise to ease up on sanctions. I am not sure he can deliver without the backing of congress."

Rosneft PJSC over the weekend sold its assets in Venezuela to the Russian government, a move that shields the Russian oil giant from further U.S. sanctions while keeping Moscow behind the regime of Nicolas Maduro. Fears of broader sanctions have grown after the U.S. in recent months slapped restrictions on Rosneft trading companies for handling business with Venezuela.

In the call, the White House said Trump "reiterated that the situation in Venezuela is dire, and we all have an interest in seeing a democratic transition to end theongoing crisis." The statement didn't say how Putin responded.

Talks between members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies broke down in early March as Russia refused to sign on to larger production cuts proposed by Saudi Arabia. The failure to reach an agreement prompted the Saudis to unleash a price war which, combined with the devastating effect of the virus pandemic, caused the market to crash.

Global demand is slumping by as much as 20 million barrels a day, about 20%, as billions of people go into lockdown to slow the spread of the virus. The outlook remains dire, with traders, banks and analysts forecasting a huge oversupply as governments effectively shut their economies.

[Mar 31, 2020] The Covid-19 pandemic is the physical manifestation of a deeper disease plaguing the West: Class Warfare

The US government was caught without pants. No supply of masks. Can you imagine that for a country with trillion military budget.
Notable quotes:
"... Take a look around: Unemployment may reach 30%. The poor are starting to protest–actually strike! GM, Amazon, Chicago Teacher's Union, GE, Instacart ..."
"... As jobs were outsourced to slave labor camps in China and elsewhere, the rich and privileged smiled as their portfolios grew, as CEO raked in the cash and then buried it in off-shore accounts. ..."
"... When the working class complained about jobs being lost, factories being closed, it was told to get a better education, to make itself valuable to the bosses. What a joke! ..."
"... The DNC always plays footsie with the rich as does the GOP–equal plunderers. Universal Health Care is just too expensive! Their all monsters, crafty grifters. ..."
"... The mass media, now firmly serve the DNC and the GOP, studiously ignore this rot. A rotten building will fall. Times up. Game is Over. ..."
Mar 31, 2020 |
The Covid-19 pandemic is the physical manifestation of a deeper disease plaguing the West: Class Warfare. The veil has been lifted. Social distancing, a legitimate response to Covid-19, predominately affects the working class.

Fortunately, Covid-19 is an equal opportunity plague: As the rich and powerful congratulated each other, as they moved among the rightfully adoring crowds oops, I think I caught something! Just hazards of the games they play. Certainly, it was never contracted on the factory floor.

Suddenly the rich and privileged claim they are in the same boat. Really? Mega-yachts are handy get-aways, as are well-protected island boltholes.

And who is supposed to do the nasty work, who has little opportunity to run and hide, who must do the the work that makes actual existence possible? Not the rich.

Who can work from home and not lose his or her job?

Rich and powerful women now have to cut their own nails! Oh, the shame of it. They have to dye their own hair–coif themselves! What no colorist?

The rich and powerful want the poor to go back to work. Who else will make them money? Who else will save the Stock Market? Meanwhile, the poor are losing their jobs; they do not have fall-back pensions or able to take advantage of Capital Gains. How will they pay their rent? Their bills? Their healthcare? Their debts?

Take a look around: Unemployment may reach 30%. The poor are starting to protest–actually strike! GM, Amazon, Chicago Teacher's Union, GE, Instacart

As jobs were outsourced to slave labor camps in China and elsewhere, the rich and privileged smiled as their portfolios grew, as CEO raked in the cash and then buried it in off-shore accounts.

When the working class complained about jobs being lost, factories being closed, it was told to get a better education, to make itself valuable to the bosses. What a joke!

When many tried to get an education, they were faced with absurd college costs, incredible debt, and thanks to those in control an inability to declare bankruptcy! Thanks, Joe.

And now, ever thoughtful Nancy Pelosi wants to reward the rich and privileged with ta ta!.., a lifting of the Salt Cap.

The DNC always plays footsie with the rich as does the GOP–equal plunderers. Universal Health Care is just too expensive! Their all monsters, crafty grifters.

Meanwhile, economists sang the praises of Free Trade. The GOP loved it; the DNC loved it. Neo-liberalism: the goose that always lays the golden eggs.

The mass media, now firmly serve the DNC and the GOP, studiously ignore this rot. A rotten building will fall. Times up. Game is Over.

likbez , March 31, 2020 9:27 pm

Thank you Stormy,

A very good analysis. A lot of emotions too ;-)

When the working class complained about jobs being lost, factories being closed, it was told to get a better education, to make itself valuable to the bosses. What a joke!

Neoliberalism is an ideology make on a set of myths. In other words this is a secular religion.

The DNC always plays footsie with the rich as does the GOP–equal plunderers. Universal Health Care is just too expensive! Their all monsters, crafty grifters.

No question they are. That's by design. The key role of DNC is to squash political forces to the left of Clinton faction, and to neutralize/coopt politicians which do not support the neoliberal/neocon consensus.

Meanwhile, economists sang the praises of Free Trade. The GOP loved it; the DNC loved it. Neo-liberalism: the goose that always lays the golden eggs.

Neoliberal revolution which culminated in the election of Reagan (which started under Carter) was a coup d'état by financial oligarchy. It signified that the New Deal consensus was broken and countervailing forces were weakened enough to ensure the success of the coup.

One thing with which I respectfully disagree:

The mass media, now firmly serve the DNC and the GOP, studiously ignore this rot. A rotten building will fall. Times up. Game is Over.

Not sure the game is over. I do not see powerful enough social forces that can oppose financial oligarchy. The anger does built up, but it is powerless. And their control of the state is absolute (which also means the control of intelligence agencies).

The population is brainwashed and disunited via identity politics.

In modern USA society that means that any attempt to build such a coalition with be squashed by the national security state.

[Mar 30, 2020] Total Cost of Her COVID-19 Treatment: $34,927.43

Mar 30, 2020 |

dennis , Mar 29 2020 17:12 utc | 14

Likklemore | Mar 29 2020 15:27 utc | 6

US prescient healthcare (for billionaires), this is the bomb that will detonate over the next month:

Total Cost of Her COVID-19 Treatment: $34,927.43

If allowed to happen, and without the appearance of a significant medical therapy tool across the USA - the fallout of foreseeable foreclosures will make it a nuclear weapon. Given bank turnaround timescales this will be just in time for next winter/elections... Faced with this Trump of all people may be forced to adopt some major socialist principles.

[Mar 29, 2020] Its somewhat bemusing that we discuss American politics ad nauseam, when it's been amply demonstrated that voters in the USA cannot make changes to government policy through their electoral process.

Notable quotes:
"... Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on US government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence . ..."
"... The results provide substantial support for theories of Economic-Elite Domination and for theories of Biased Pluralism, but not for theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy or Majoritarian Pluralism." [Emphasis mine] ..."
Mar 29, 2020 |

PTG Mann , says: Show Comment March 28, 2020 at 5:11 am GMT

"The historical unity of the ruling classes is realized in the State." – Antonio Gramsci

Its somewhat bemusing that we discuss American politics ad nauseam, when it's been amply demonstrated that voters in the USA cannot make changes to government policy through their electoral process.

In fact, I would contend that American democracy has been non-existant since the JFK assassination (57 years after the event with no charges having been laid) which was essentially a coup d'état

Don't believe me? Read it and weep

A 2014 study from Princeton University spells bad news for American democracy – namely, that it no longer exists:

Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens – Martin Gilens & Benjamin I. Page

"Each of 4 theoretical traditions in the study of American politics -- which can be characterized as theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy, Economic-Elite Domination, and 2 types of interest-group pluralism, Majoritarian Pluralism and Biased Pluralism -- offers different predictions about which sets of actors have how much influence over public policy: average citizens; economic elites; and organized interest groups, mass-based or business-oriented.

A great deal of empirical research speaks to the policy influence of one or another set of actors, but until recently it has not been possible to test these contrasting theoretical predictions against each other within a single statistical model. We report on an effort to do so, using a unique data set which includes measures of the key variables for 1,779 policy issues.

Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on US government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence .

The results provide substantial support for theories of Economic-Elite Domination and for theories of Biased Pluralism, but not for theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy or Majoritarian Pluralism." [Emphasis mine]


Cyrano , says: Show Comment March 29, 2020 at 4:48 am GMT
@PTG Mann This is my attempt to shed some light on the "democracy" reality show. In grade 11 I had a subject called Marxism. Yes, I did study Marxism for 1 year only – in high school. One of the benefits of living in a "communist" country, I guess.

My Marxism professor, when he talked about capitalism, always used USA as an example. Not because he was impressed with them, but because he believed that it was a common knowledge that US was running the most austere form of capitalism possible. It's still like that today, they are just using multiculturalism as a smoke screen to cover up the fact that their capitalism is the most severe that they could get away with. And the stupid Europeans copy them, believing that multiculturalism is what makes a country truly liberal. Sure.

Another interesting thing that I remember from my high school Marxism classes is that they taught us that US has 2 types of elites. 1.Regular elites 2. Political elites. The regular elites are the real elites, the economic ones, the real movers and shakers. The political elites are just domestic help, a hired nobodies who do the rich men's bidding. The lines between these 2 are almost never crossed. As many perks as there are to becoming political elite, the benefits that you can milk from this new-found bonanza can never amount to the point of making you qualified to join the real – economic elites. And it goes vice versa as well. Economic elites usually don't have the interest (unless you are senile old guy like Bloomberg) to waste time on personally participating in politics – it just doesn't pay well enough by their standards. Of course, there are always exceptions – Donald Trump. That's why the real elites hate him so much. Because he wants to sit on 2 chairs, to belong to both the real elites and the political ones as well. The idea behind the political elites is to pay them so you can influence them and tell them what to do. How do you influence someone who doesn't really qualify as a hired help, who is one of you? It makes it more difficult to boss around. I am not saying that Trump is unbossable, the problem is that the real elites can't stomach the fact that Trump wants to boss THEM. Unforgivable.

The "democracy" has always been a pipe-dream, designed to prevent the rich f ** ks getting at each other throats, more than anything else. That's why voting and elections are just a mirage, political elites are not elected by voters, they are elected by the real (economic) elites. That's why they throw millions of dollars on campaigns and lobbies and so on. So they can have the final say about how things should be done, and not leave it to the political "elites" initiatives.

Trump proved that the move from the economic elites into political elites is feasible, even though it can be very unpopular with the economic elites, but the move from political elites into real elites is almost impossible – despite occasional valiant efforts – like Joe Biden and his son. The political elites simply lack any real cashable skills that are required in order to make tons of money and qualify for the prestigious club of real (economic) elites.

Sure the political elites can make a lot of money, but only from the perspective of the poor. The money that the political elites make compared to the economic ones – is pocket change. This is actually one of the positives of the American system, people who are interested in making really big money, don't usually go into politics, because there are much more and better ways to make more money. This is actually a feature of most of the developing countries – where there is almost no distinction between real elites and political elites and the only way to make money is to go into politics, and use corruption as a driving force for becoming rich.

Sure the political elites can accomplish relative financial successes as well, and sometimes this can get to their heads, making them delusional, like when Hillary – white trash herself– called her own people – deplorables. The "democracy" pipe dream serves another purpose – to create the illusion that the real elites (the rich) and the poor are in the same predicament together – suffering under the unscrupulous political elites. Yeah, right.

The other thing that people talk a lot about is communist propaganda. Sure there was some of it. Having experienced living in both systems – capitalism and "communism" – I can say that there is a big difference between capitalist and communist propaganda. Communist propaganda was more of the wishful thinking type, trying to cover up reality because they wished things could be better. Capitalist propaganda is much more sinister. The sole purpose of existence of capitalist propaganda is not because they want things to be different and better, but because they want things to stay the same as long as possible. The purpose of the capitalist propaganda is to impede progress. Communists at least felt bad that their system wasn't good enough to satisfy all the needs of the people. Capitalists have no such qualms. The message that they convey through their "democracy" is that this is as good as it's going to get, so you better get used to it. No regrets, no attempts to make things better.

It's funny that they bothered to teach us about different kinds of American elites way back in high school, like that was going to have any practical application in our lives. It's also unusual that I remember it, because I wasn't a particularly good student in any subject, including Marxism. Maybe the reason why I remember it, is because after all these years it still rings true.

Hans Vogel , says: Show Comment March 29, 2020 at 8:41 am GMT
Most discussions about and references to the US two-party system presidential elections remain oblivious to the fact that for all practical purposes the US has only one political party.

The US has the exact same political system that Mexico had for decades under the PRI: the party elite decided on who was going to be the next president and then organized elections. The US is essentially a none-party state (just read or reread Michael Parenti's Democracy for the Few ).

The fact that the American voter can choose between a psychopath like Mrs. Clinton and a guy like Trump, or between Trump and a senile moron like Biden (as may be the case this year), merely serves to prove that the real political decisions are not made by the president and that he is just a figurehead.

How can it be that a country with 330 million people cannot select even moderately intelligent, decent, capable candidates for the highest office?

It is a good sign that most Americans understand this and don't bother to vote. Democracy is a fake anyway, because if our votes would really count, we wouldn't have the right to vote.

[Mar 29, 2020] Why Didn't We Test Our Trade's 'Antifragility' Before COVID-19 by Gene Callahan and Joe Norman

Highly recommended!
Mar 28, 2020 |

On April 21, 2011, the region of Amazon Web Services covering eastern North America crashed. The crash brought down the sites of large customers such as Quora, Foursquare, and Reddit. It took Amazon over a week to bring its system fully back online, and some customer data was lost permanently.

But one company whose site did not crash was Netflix. It turns out that Netflix had made themselves "antifragile" by employing software they called "Chaos Monkey," which regularly and randomly brought down Netflix servers. By continually crashing their own servers, Netflix learned how to nevertheless keep other portions of their network running. And so when Amazon US-East crashed, Netflix ran on, unfazed.

This phenomenon is discussed by Nassim Taleb in his book Antifragile : a system that depends on the absence of change is fragile. The companies that focused on keeping all of their servers up and running all the time went completely offline when Amazon crashed from under them. But the company that had exposed itself to lots of little crashes could handle the big crash. That is because the minor, "undesirable" changes stress the system in a way that can make it stronger.

The idea of antifragility does not apply only to computer networks. For instance, by trying to eliminate minor downturns in the economy, central bank policy can make that economy extremely vulnerable to a major recession. Running only on treadmills or tracks makes the joints extremely vulnerable when, say, one steps in a pothole in the sidewalk.

What does this have to do with trade policy? For many reasons, such as the recent coronavirus outbreak, flows of goods are subject to unexpected shocks.

Both a regime of "unfettered" free trade, and its opposite, that of complete autarchy, are fragile in the face of such shocks. A trade policy aimed not at complete free trade or protectionism, but at making an economy better at absorbing and adapting to rapid change, is more sane and salutary than either extreme. Furthermore, we suggest practicing for shocks can help make an economy antifragile.

Amongst academic economists, the pure free-trade position is more popular. The case for international trade, absent the artificial interference of government trade policy, is generally based upon the "principle of comparative advantage," first formulated by the English economist David Ricardo in the early 19th century. Ricardo pointed out, quite correctly, that even if, among two potential trading partners looking to trade a pair of goods, one of them is better at producing both of them, there still exist potential gains from trade -- so long as one of them is relatively better at producing one of the goods, and the other (as a consequence of this condition) relatively better at producing the other. For example, Lebron James may be better than his local house painter at playing basketball, and at painting houses, given his extreme athleticism and long reach. But he is so much more "better" at basketball that it can still make sense for him to concentrate on basketball and pay the painter to paint his house.

And so, per Ricardo, it is among nations: even if, say, Sweden can produce both cars and wool sweaters more efficiently than Scotland, if Scotland is relatively less bad at producing sweaters than cars, it still makes sense for Scotland to produce only wool sweaters, and trade with Sweden for the cars it needs.

When we take comparative advantage to its logical conclusion at the global scale, it suggests that each agent (say, nation) should focus on one major industry domestically and that no two agents should specialize in the same industry. To do so would be to sacrifice the supposed advantage of sourcing from the agent who is best positioned to produce a particular good, with no gain for anyone.

Good so far, but Ricardo's case contains two critical hidden assumptions: first, that the prices of the goods in question will remain more or less stable in the global marketplace, and second that the availability of imported goods from specialized producers will remain uninterrupted, such that sacrificing local capabilities for cheaper foreign alternatives.

So what happens in Scotland if the Swedes suddenly go crazy for yak hair sweaters (produced in Tibet) and are no longer interested in Scottish sweaters at all? The price of those sweaters crashes, and Scotland now finds itself with most of its productive capacity specialized in making a product that can only be sold at a loss.

Or what transpires if Scotland is no longer able, for whatever reason, to produce sweaters, but the Swedes need sweaters to keep warm? Swedes were perhaps once able to make their own sweaters, but have since funneled all their resources into making cars, and have even lost the knowledge of sweater-making. Now to keep warm, the Swedes have to rapidly build the infrastructure and workforce needed to make sweaters, and regain the knowledge of how to do so, as the Scots had not only been their sweater supplier, but the only global sweater supplier.

So we see that the case for extreme specialization, based on a first-order understanding of comparative advantage, collapses when faced with a second-order effect of a dramatic change in relative prices or conditions of supply.

That all may sound very theoretical, but collapses due to over-specialization, prompted by international agencies advising developing economies based on naive comparative-advantage analysis, have happened all too often. For instance, a number of African economies, persuaded to base their entire economy on a single good in which they had a comparative advantage (e.g, gold, cocoa, oil, or bauxite), saw their economies crash when the price of that commodity fell. People who had formerly been largely self-sufficient found themselves wage laborers for multinationals in good times, and dependents on foreign charity during bad times.

While the case for extreme specialization in production collapses merely by letting prices vary, it gets even worse for the "just specialize in the single thing you do best" folks once we add in considerations of pandemics, wars, extreme climate change, and other such shocks. We have just witnessed how relying on China for such a high percentage of our medical supplies and manufacturing has proven unwise when faced with an epidemic originating in China.

On a smaller scale, the great urban theorist Jane Jacobs stressed the need for economic diversity in a city if it is to flourish. Detroit's over-reliance on the automobile industry, and its subsequent collapse when that industry largely deserted it, is a prominent example of Jacobs' point. And while Detroit is perhaps the most famous example of a city collapsing due to over-specialization, it is far from the only one .

All of this suggests that trade policy, at any level, should have, as its primary goal, the encouragement of diversity in that level's economic activity. To embrace the extremes of "pure free trade" or "total self-sufficiency" is to become more susceptible to catastrophe from changing conditions. A region that can produce only a few goods is fragile in the face of an event, like the coronavirus, that disrupts the flow of outside goods. On the other hand, turning completely inward, and cutting the region off from the outside, leaves it without outside help when confronting a local disaster, like an extreme drought.

To be resilient as a social entity, whether a nation, region, city, or family, will have a diverse mix of internal and external resources it can draw upon for sustenance. Even for an individual, total specialization and complete autarchy are both bad bets. If your only skill is repairing Sony Walkmen, you were probably pretty busy in 2000, but by today you likely don't have much work. Complete individual autarchy isn't ever really even attempted: if you watch YouTube videos of supposedly "self-reliant" people in the wilderness, you will find them using axes, radios, saws, solar panels, pots and pans, shirts, shoes, tents, and many more goods produced by others.

In the technical literature, having such diversity at multiple scales is referred to as "multiscale variety." In a system that displays multiscale variety, no single scale accounts for all of the diversity of behavior in the system. The practical importance of this is related to the fact that shocks themselves come at different scales. Some shocks might be limited to a town or a region, for instance local weather events, while others can be much more widespread, such as the coronavirus pandemic we are currently facing.

A system with multiscale variety is able to respond to shocks at the scale at which they occur: if one region experiences a drought while a neighboring region does not, agricultural supplementation from the currently abundant region can be leveraged. At a smaller scale, if one field of potatoes becomes infested with a pest, while the adjacent cows in pasture are spared, the family who owns the farm will still be able to feed themselves and supply products to the market.

Understanding this, the question becomes how can trade policy, conceived broadly, promote the necessary variety and resiliency to mitigate and thrive in the face of the unexpected? Crucially, we should learn from the tech companies: practice disconnecting, and do it randomly. In our view there are two important components to the intentional disruption: (1) it is regular enough to generate "muscle memory" type responses; and (2) it is random enough that responses are not "overfit" to particular scenarios.

For an individual or family, implementing such a policy might create some hardships, but there are few institutional barriers to doing so. One week, simply declare, "Let's pretend all of the grocery stores are empty, and try getting by only on what we can produce in the yard or have stockpiled in our house!" On another occasion, perhaps, see if you can keep your house warm for a few days without input from utility companies.

Businesses are also largely free of institutional barriers to practicing disconnecting. A company can simply say, "We are awfully dependent on supplier X: this week, we are not going to order from them, and let's see what we can do instead!" A business can also seek out external alternatives to over-reliance on crucial internal resources: for instance, if your top tech guy can hold your business hostage, it is a good idea to find an outside consulting firm that could potentially fill his role.

When we get up to the scale of the nation, things become (at least institutionally) trickier. If Freedonia suddenly bans the import of goods from Ruritania, even for a week, Ruritania is likely to regard this as a "trade war," and may very well go to the WTO and seek relief. However, the point of this reorientation of trade policy is not to promote hostility to other countries, but to make one's own country more resilient. A possible solution to this problem is that a national government could periodically, at random times, buy all of the imports of some good from some other country, and stockpile them. Then the foreign supplier would have no cause for complaint: its goods are still being purchased! But domestic manufacturers would have to learn to adjust to a disappearance of the supply of palm oil from Indonesia, or tin from China, or oil from Norway.

Critics will complain that such government management of trade flows, even with the noble aim of rendering an economy antifragile, will inevitably be turned to less pure purposes, like protecting politically powerful industrialists. But so what? It is not as though the pursuit of free trade hasn't itself yielded perverse outcomes, such as the NAFTA trade agreement that ran to over one thousand pages. Any good aim is likely to suffer diversion as it passes through the rough-and-tumble of political reality. Thus, we might as well set our sites on an ideal policy, even though it won't be perfectly realized.

We must learn to deal with disruptions when success is not critical to survival. The better we become at responding to unexpected shocks, the lower the cost will be each time we face an event beyond our control that demands an adaptive response. To wait until adaptation is necessary makes us fragile when a real crisis appears. We should begin to develop an antifragile economy today, by causing our own disruptions and learning to overcome them. Deliberately disrupting our own economy may sound crazy. But then, so did deliberately crashing one's own servers, until Chaos Monkey proved that it works.

Gene Callahan teaches at the Tandon School of Engineering at New York University. Joe Norman is a data scientist and researcher at the New England Complex Systems Institute.

My Gana 20 hours ago
Most disruptive force is own demographic change of which govts have known for decades. Caronovirus challenge is nothing compared to what will happen because US ed system discriminated against the poor who will be the majority!
PierrePaul 12 hours ago
What Winston Churchill once said about the Americans is in fact true of all humans: "Americans always end up doing
the right thing once they have exhausted all other options". That's just as true of the French (I write from France) since our government stopped stocking a strategic reserve of a billion breathing-masks in 2013 because "we could buy them in Chine for a lower costs". Now we can't produce enough masks even for our hospitals.

[Mar 29, 2020] The Coronavirus Stimulus Bill Is a $2 Trillion Slush Fund for Washington Cronies by Marshall Auerback

Mar 29, 2020 |

By Marshall Auerback, a market analyst and commentator. Produced by Economy for All , a project of the Independent Media Institute

When historians look back on our current government's response to a public health emergency and resultant economic depression, there won't be many paeans to profiles in courage. It may seem impressive that Congress has approved legislation worth $2 trillion to help sustain the American economy, but it's no New Deal. Rather it's a massive economic slush fund that does its utmost to preserve the old ways of doing things under the guise of masquerading as a response to a public health emergency. In reality, the relief provisions are barely adequate.

Had this been another financial crisis like 2008, it is doubtful that America's oligarch class would be able to secure such huge provision for themselves again. Under the guise of a public health emergency, though, serial corporate predators are being given dollops from this massive public trough with no means of engendering the kind of economic reconstruction that is truly needed right now, or even preventing a sufficiently robust response if this virus comes back in a second or third wave.

As one might expect in a massive bill (representing around 10 percent of U.S. GDP), there are some decent scraps in this dog's breakfast, but overall the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act represents yet another sad indictment of the American polity, even as it provides an excellent civics lesson in teaching us where power truly lies. There's $150 billion allocated to hospitals, many of which are already stretched to capacity, but that's nothing compared to the trillions directed to corporations with minimal disclosure on how those sums are to be allocated, or any conditionality attached. In fact, we appear not to have learned some lessons from 2008, when at least some members of Congress made efforts to scrutinize how we were spending the money. Pam and Russ Martens's superbly informative digging into the more than 800-page-long bill reveals that :

a) The Fed will leverage the bill's $454 million bailout slush fund into $4.5 trillion, and will hand it out through the New York Fed.

b) To ensure that they don't have to answer embarrassing questions about which of their cronies got the money, the bill suspends the Freedom of Information Act for the Fed.

Bloomberg has also confirmed that the NY Fed has outsourced picking the lucky recipients for this slushy cornucopia to a private contractor, BlackRock, the world's largest asset manager (Goldman Sachs apparently has done enough of " God's work " this time). The more things change in Washington, the more they stay the same.

By contrast, the relief provisions are barely adequate. They expand unemployment insurance (an additional $600 per week for up to four months), feature one-time direct payments to Americans of $1,200 per adult making up to $75,000 a year, and $2,400 to a married couple making up to $150,000, with $500 payments per child. However, the bill neither addresses the chronic inequality that now characterizes the U.S. economy, nor is there provision for the self-employed or the millions of independent contractor workers who have no employee benefits.

A better template would have been something along the lines of what was legislated in Norway, although it is unrealistic to expect a U.S. Senate dominated by hardline Republicans to acquiesce to something proposed by a Scandinavian social democracy. But highlighting the contrast, Norwegian journalist Ellen Engelstad writes : "Workers put on leave will now get full pay for twenty days (an improvement even on the pre-coronavirus situation), but employers will only cover the first two days, while the rest will be paid by the state. After that period, a worker on leave will receive 80 percent of their previous salary, up to [about $29,000] a year, and 62.4 percent of everything they received on top of that."

So long as we continue to embrace a lockdown strategy, generous relief is key to securing widespread support for its maintenance. It will become politically impossible to sustain a government-mandated lockdown where workers are forced to stay at home, absent some income support to facilitate compliance with that order. So it is good that the government has also recognized that this relief had to take the form of grants, not loans, because additional private debt assumption would exacerbate long-term economic distress. The provision of $350 billion in "forgivable loans" to businesses are in reality grants, as these "loans" will be forgiven if the businesses targeted maintain payroll. That's precisely the kind of conditionality that should be attached to the relief provisions.

There will undoubtedly be other measures required once the scale of the economic fallout becomes clearer. But when we get past relief packages and move toward taking the economy out of its current cryogenically frozen state, the U.S. government must engage in a broader effort of reconstruction so as to finally make this an economy that works for all. Policy should not simply be about getting people back into resorts, malls or restaurants, or exhorting mass consumption as a patriotic duty ( as George W. Bush suggested after 9/11 ). Rather, we should be focused on ramping up mass-production essential goods such as food, as well support for the health care systems via expansion of testing kits, surgical masks, ventilators and palliative care, not only for this crisis, but also to ensure that the system is not overwhelmed in the event of future pandemics (or a possible recurrence of this one as we return to work and reintegrate with one another). It also goes without saying that we should also expend vast sums on research and development to find treatments and a vaccine, as well as rapid training of new medical workers. Substantial increases in funding to the National Institutes of Health would be a good place to start.

As for conditionality, a case has been made that a force majeure "Act of God" is not the time to play a "game of chicken" and impose major conditions for aid , especially as it is government policy itself that has precipitated the crisis. On the other hand, political realities and historic precedent suggest that crisis conditions are the only time one gets dramatic reforms; otherwise the elites regain their balance and suppress them (as occurred after 2008). Plus, there are corporate bailout recipients in this bill, such as Boeing, that were heading toward a death spiral , even before the epidemic.

Let's also make clear distinctions here: An "Act of God" argument was invoked in 2008 . That financial crisis was described as a "once in a 50-year event," something that couldn't have been planned for or insured against, etc. This was a lie. The banks were not blameless, and there was causation between the crash and their behavior. But Wall Street's bad actors weren't punished. There were, however, a lot of blameless victims who were and are still paying a price. They didn't receive compensation and received pain and punishment as if they were responsible, when they were in fact collateral damage.

In many respects, this crisis is even worse. We may not have a financial contagion, but we have a physical contagion that is literally exposing us to conditions comparable to the 1930s . But unlike the 1930s or, indeed, the 2008 global financial contagion, policymakers have a twin task with seemingly incompatible goals: stopping the spread of the virus in many ways exists in tension with the need to arrest the indirect economic fallout from the pandemic. The longer the economic restrictions apply to eliminate the health risk, the greater the economic fallout, which is precisely the dilemma President Trump exposed (in his typically inelegant way), when he signaled his desire to restart the U.S. economy by mid-April .

Trump's public musings were rightly denounced. His moral calculus is skewed; this president is transparently consumed by the desire to safeguard his narrow economic interests and the presidency (along with the fact that he stripped public health agencies of the staffing, resources, and authority they needed to function ). A serious president would send teams of epidemiologists to study other countries' success models, and adopt them. Instead, Trump is literally gambling with the lives of potentially millions of people as he tries to place this bet on an Easter miracle. Unlike Jesus, those lives lost won't be resurrected, even if the economy ultimately revives.

Beyond that is the question of how best to assist businesses paralyzed for the sake of public health. This is perhaps the most politically loaded part of the process when it comes to assessing how far we go in terms of changing the behavior of our corporate sector versus the notion of simply compensating businesses for losses sustained by an action deemed to be a public health emergency.

Oren Cass, executive director of the soon-to-be-launched think tank American Compass , has made the case for compensating businesses on the basis of the takings clause of the U.S. Constitution , which states that "private property [shall not] be taken for public use, without just compensation." Establishing "just compensation" is often in the eye of the beholder, and Cass suggests that a just principle is compensating businesses for the fixed costs they would normally incur in the event that they were able to function as normal operating concerns (as opposed to making estimates of likely profitability and compensating on that basis). The goal is clearly to avoid providing unfair windfalls but to keep businesses solvent until they reopen.

On the other hand, one of the principal complaints directed against the bailouts granted (especially to the banks) in 2008 is that bad corporate actors who were responsible for creating the crisis were given money with no strings attached. In that regard, the bailouts not only allowed them to revive profitability quickly (as the status quo ante was restored), but also actively lobbied against any kind of regulation to prevent a recurrence of the activities that created the crash in the first place.

The lessons many drew from the experience was that the only time to extract concessions and induce changes in behavior from bad corporate actors is at a time when they are economically vulnerable, even if the precipitating cause of that vulnerability was the government-mandated shutdown of the economy. It is impossible to remake an economy if, for example, corporate bailouts are used to perpetuate behavior that undermines economic prosperity. While the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act does introduce some restrictions on buybacks and limiting stock dividends, it "avoids the more restrictive language that was included in the House version of the legislation," according to Defense News .

Many are trying to distinguish this bailout from 2008 (i.e., this time is a non-economic shock, something that couldn't have been planned for or insured against; businesses that are failing right now are doing so through no fault of their own and they're still good/healthy businesses), because saying "this is just how creative destruction works" is clearly untenable right now. In reality, the collapse in aggregate demand caused by the 2008 financial crisis arguably was just as exogenous to the consumer economy. Fatuous distinctions to justify further corporate predation simply provide another illustration that what we had before the coronavirus pandemic clearly was not working for most people. The truth is that for decades we've had a hollowing out of democracy, and a massive expansion of wealth inequality accompanied by Mussolini-style crony capitalism.

During the Great Depression, legislation was implemented to prevent a recurrence of the 1920s bubble. Roosevelt's New Deal did not legislate to restore the status quo ante but rather to create a very different sort of economy.

Under the cover of a public health emergency, however, the so-called "new normal" is looking a lot like the old normal. This bill gives the pigs yet another big feed at the public trough, and Congress is happily ladling out the goodies. Much like the 1930s, then, the very legitimacy of liberal capitalist democracy is at stake. Unfortunately, there does not appear to be an FDR ready to lead us in this acute moment of need.

Nicholas Crowley , March 28, 2020 at 6:25 am


Last week I was unable to apply for unemployment in my state, Hawaii, because I am self employed. I get kicked out of the application process after the first few qualifying questions in the online application process. Today, it went straight through. You make yourself your own ex employer and that's it. I'm assuming this has to do with this federal package. On a side note I am one of many self employed registered legal tour guide operators in the state that rely heavily on visitors and all of us are up in arms that somehow this bill is also going to give money to Uber and Lyft drivers who are not even legal in the state. Only partially in the county of Oahu.

Michael , March 28, 2020 at 9:54 am

I did something similar during the GFC.
I have a C Corp in Calif with myself as the only employee.
I applied for UI and received it for about a year.
However, my contribution rate ramped up and my rating declined to F. Still worth it.

Calif also borrowed a lot of money from the Feds last time and had to pay it back.
Employers were assessed a portion each year. Finally repaid after 5 or so years.

john bougearel , March 28, 2020 at 7:22 am

Rep Thomas Massey did some math. $2T from congress, and $4T from Feds so far = $68,000 per family of new Nat'l debt and dollar devaluation. Yet each household is likely to see only about $3000 of that $68000. Massey may have a point, perhaps there is just a tinge of maldistribution afoot here. And isn't that always the case in Crisis Capitalism, to never let a good crisis go to waste? Just maybe they could be doing a better job in the distribution of this package?

While many things were discussed about Covid and the Covid Recovery plan on Friday, what struck me was a reference to this stimulus bill that this is our Marshall Plan. While that sounds good, is it really? And another thing that struck me was how many striking similarities there are.

The final striking observation was Pelosi et al reminding us, that this is not the last stimulus bill that will be related to stimulating an economic recovery. In short, what Pelosi's telling us this is the prefatory Helicopter monies from our new "Helicopter Avenging Angels." Economist Murray Rothbard told a story about an angel looking down at the woes of mankind and decided that everyone would feel better if they all had an extra $1000. So, that is what the angel did, deposited $1000 into everyones bank account one night. Next morning, everyone woke up to an extra $1000. Those that spent it first on goods benefited most. Those that waited to spend it, got less bang for their buck bc the cost of goods rose.

So, it is with this stimulus story littered with maldistribution. Velocity of money in an economy increases most and therefore GDP or gross output if it is in the hands of households and consumers.

Over the past 12 yrs or so, fiscal and monetary stimulus packages have been referred to as bazookas. Today, they have mushroomed into "Nukes." And the Nukes, themselves, are mushrooming.

If Pelosi is right, this will not be the last stimulus bill relating to coronavirus, then this is not far from what happened with the Marshall Plan. The 1947-48 Marshall Plan was replaced by the Mutual Security Plan in 19951. The MSP plan was extended from 1951-1961. The MSP plan gave away about $7.5 billion annually until 1961 when it was replaced by yet another program – he United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The USAID is now one of the largest official aid agencies in the world, and accounts for more than half of all U.S. foreign assistance -- the highest in the world in absolute dollar terms.

In short, the Marshall Plan kept transmuting itself into something new. Until it became a "perpetual entity."
And it is not so different than the Federal Reserve's QE programs or other so-called "temporary" facilities that somehow are resurrected, transmuted or whatever. But somehow, these programs mange to live on like zombies.

Zombie, Zombie, Zombie. They are fighting, With their tanks and their bombs, And their bombs and their guns.

It's the same old theme since the 1947 Marshall Plan
In your head, in your head, Their still fighting,
With their tanks and their bombs And their bombs and their guns

But I digress.

The question then becomes, how well did the Marshall Plan work to generate economic growth. According to Marshall Plan's own accounting, the MP only accounted for an increase of less than ½% of GDP growth a year. That ain't much folks! So be prepared to be underwhelmed! Very underwhelmed.

And this is precisely why our policymakers will be back with more and more stimulus ..mushrooming their bazookas into Nukes, and Nukes into what? Death Stars next?

The cost of the Marshall Plan (officially the European Recovery Program, ERP) resulted in the United States transference of over $12 billion (equivalent to over $128 billion as of 2020)[1] in economic recovery programs to Western European economies after the end of World War II. During the four years the plan was in effect, the United States donated $17 billion (equivalent to $202.18 billion in 2019)

Despite the billions of dollars each year thrown at the EU recovery the Marshall Plan which transmuted into the Mutual Security Plan, these plans have apparently contributed little to the EU economic recovery.

Over the past 12 years, central banks and gov'ts have thrown trillions of dollars at the fiscal system, and yet our financial and monetary system still doesn't function properly. Their solution: throw trillions more at the most recent crisis du jour. TINA baby! Surely with their Nuclear-sized Stimulus Package, this will solve and repair everything.

But perhaps, under a crisis capitalism, the aim is to ensure a crisis never goes to waste. So perhaps, the aim of these stimulus programs is never to fix the broken window. Only to give the appearance the window is being fixed. If you actually fixed the broken window, then there would be no need to perpetually repeat these stimulus programs that can be so damn self-serving to those closest to the monies. Then where would Nancy and her Cohorts be?

The Covid Bill our Marshall Plan are fiscal responses to disasters. To this extent, they both that into the context of French Economist Frederic Bastiat's Parable of the Broken Window.

"Ce qu'on voit et ce qu'on ne voit pas" ("That Which We See and That Which We Do Not See") to illustrate why destruction, and the money spent to recover from destruction, is not actually a net benefit to society.The parable seeks to show how opportunity costs, as well as the law of unintended consequences, affect economic activity in ways that are unseen or ignored. The belief that destruction is good for the economy is consequently known as the broken window fallacy or glazier's fallacy. And yet, destruction of the economy can be quite beneficial to the "first financial responders" to the destruction of the economy.

My apologies Yves, I should have forwarded this to you as a separate post. Feel free to post if you like

Oh , March 28, 2020 at 10:37 am

Thanks for the informative comment. I'm not surprised to know that the Marshall Plan resulted in an increase of less than 1/2 % of GDP growth. I assume that you're referring to the GDP of Europe.
I contend that the billions doled out via the Marshall Plan helped the FInancial institutions and later, since we had destroyed all of the manufacturing facilities in Europe, it helped all large US corporations who had a ready made market in Europe.

Susan the other , March 28, 2020 at 10:59 am

What an interesting comment. From my perspective – long time observer of things never working properly – I think the Covid Crisis is just another example of the pointless but dedicated pursuit of profits – unless of course there is a "Treasury" willing to provide any and all shortfall to each and every private profiteer. Then it works in a very wasteful and illogical manner. It requires also bailing out the hapless consumers occasionally. Somehow I think we could do better.

john bougearel , March 28, 2020 at 11:51 am


I don't see the powers that be as anxious to fix the broken windows. They want the broken windows to remain broken so they can continue to throw bazookas and nukes through them.

And I wonder,. and I think you too need to wonder why the Marshall Plan became the Mutual Security Plan after 1951. Presumably, the rapid EU economic recovery no longer necessitated the Marshall Plan. Facing an existential crisis as such, the Marshall Plan had to morph into some other purpose, such as "Mutual Security" to keep access to those slush funds alive and well.

Susan the other , March 28, 2020 at 3:20 pm

I'd say off the top it is because neoliberal capitalism cannot withstand competition from democracy – good social democracy. So we morphed into the policeman of the world and pretended like we were critical to the cause of a failing economic ideology. It has never worked and it has gradually become nonsense because we are continuously forced to save society. No matter that we never to a good job of it – we still do it to insure profits. I'd be more upset about it except for the fact that it is so transparently absurd and I like to think it proves it own uselessness. What more do we need?

Grebo , March 28, 2020 at 8:24 pm

I'm no expert on the Marshall plan but as a European I get the impression it was much appreciated. From the US' point of view though it had a geopolitical purpose. By getting Europe on its economic feet again it fended off the threat of Communism and created a customer for US exports. The Plan's successors are also primarily aimed at maintaining and extending US hegemony, they are merely dressed up as charity.

rd , March 28, 2020 at 1:56 pm

I think the primary problem over the past decade is the assumption that the wealthy need to be returned/maintained to their wealthy to trickle the wealth down. That clearly has not been working efficiently.

So I am a fan of saving companies that are stable in the absence of major crisis, but require large-scale management changes, and dramatically scale back executive compensation for several years. If the executives can find a better job with better pay in an un-bailed out company, they should take it. If the company would clearly have gone under due to massive debt-loads, then a pre-package bankruptcy like GM with the government holding equity in the final company should be the route.

The financial cries are simply creating bigger and bigger TBTF companies that can build up debt again to fund shareholder buybacks until they get bailed out by the Fed and Treasury. That cycle needs to stop. The country worked fine when there were many companies competing with each other.

michael99 , March 28, 2020 at 3:48 pm

This coronavirus relief act expands TBTF. It's not just the big banks and other finance/insurance/real estate corporations anymore. It seems to be about protecting financial wealth wherever it resides. It's moral hazard writ large. Why behave prudently if the Fed has your back?

I agree with "saving companies that are stable in the absence of major crisis, but require large-scale management changes, and dramatically scale back executive compensation for several years", and "if the company would clearly have gone under due to massive debt-loads, then a pre-package bankruptcy like GM with the government holding equity in the final company should be the route."

The government could enact an automatic stabilizer program to cover furloughed worker wages during economic crises while employers continued to cover fixed costs and worker benefits such as health insurance. Large corporations could be managed to cover theses things if required to.
Even better, pass M4A and take employee health insurance off their books.

Charles D Myers , March 28, 2020 at 7:50 am

Why does the Uber/Lyft bailout have to be funded by workers who have put money into unemployment insurance?

If they want to bail out the gig economy they should have said straight up we are bailing them out.

The States have to come up with the funding for the unemployed. So you can bet there will be a shortfall.

Why does the gig economy always takes but never give?

The biggest problem is laid off employees getting thru to the unemployment agencies.Then they throw millions of Uber/Lyft drivers to clog up the Queue.

Brooklin Bridge , March 28, 2020 at 8:18 am

I'm wondering what AOC did or didn't do re this package? A lot has been said about Sanders, but I'm fuzzy on AOC. I can't imagine she liked the thing. Did she have any way of throwing a stick in in it?

Troglin , March 28, 2020 at 8:41 am

AOC is an actor -- an Obama for the new generation.

Oh , March 28, 2020 at 10:39 am

Will she be eligible for the Best Actress Award?

Kiers , March 28, 2020 at 6:26 pm

that would "explain" her previous incumbent, a most malignant connected big money DNC machine pol, "stepping aside" for her. Watch out. Likely future Manchurian afoot. (Like showbama).

flora , March 28, 2020 at 10:00 am

Pelosi ordered a voice vote, not a recorded vote. There's no way to know how any Rep. voted. They can say they voted yea or nay, but there's no proof.

Brooklin Bridge , March 28, 2020 at 5:18 pm

Thanks, not surprised.

John Wright , March 28, 2020 at 7:27 pm

Here is a definition of a voice vote:

"A vote in which the presiding officer states the question, then asks those in favor and against to say "Yea" or "Nay," respectively, and announces the result according to his or her judgment. The names or numbers of senators voting on each side are not recorded."

If this bill was so G*d d**n important and potentially costly for the country it would seem that courageous politicians would have WANTED their wise and considered yea/nay votes known to their constituents.

I can see a voice vote for something trivial like a Proclamation of National Highway Appreciation Day, but not something this consequential.

Preserving the option of telling constituents in the future "I (voice) voted against this package" is hardly a profile in courage.

hermeneut , March 28, 2020 at 11:47 am

"What did the Senate majority fight for?!" Ocasio-Cortez asked. "One of the largest corporate bailouts with as few strings as possible in American history. Shameful! The greed of that fight is wrong for crumbs for our families."

Pelosi dallies on instituting remote voting, thereby strengthening her own powers and that of the House leadership. AOC, like everyone else in the House, had to participate in a "voice vote".

Bobby Gladd , March 28, 2020 at 8:42 am

" The Mnuchin Opaque Autonomy Act of 2020 ."

There. Fixed the title.

human , March 28, 2020 at 9:00 am

I simply can not understand where $4T is going to go! As we here know, inanimate objects do not have agency. I demand to know whose pockets are about to be lined.

Another observation: As each "crisis" becomes more expensive, there appear to be additional lined pockets.

urblintz , March 28, 2020 at 10:40 am

first and foremost they saved the bond market i think . Powell has already used 4 trillion for "liquidity" whatever that means I have no working knowledge of economics so I don't begin to understand what any of it means except that we got family-blogged again.

JR , March 28, 2020 at 9:21 am

You know, there is common ground amongst and between the AOCs and Massies of the world. It is time to build those bridges.

Edr , March 28, 2020 at 10:04 am

The flu kills between 12,000 to 30,000 a year in the U S. Every year. In 30 some years of adulthood, I know 1 person that died of pneumonia in their 60s. When the confinement is over and people look around and ask around and can't name anybody they personally know who was affected with anything more than a cold????

I hope this whole thing isn't just hysterics because that would not be a positive sign of anything.

Oh , March 28, 2020 at 10:50 am

Knowing our politicians it's probably a lot of hysterics. The DimRats have been fooling their diehards with Russia! Russia! Russia! Now it's time to use CV to pay back their corporate supporters while throwing a few crumbs to their loyal followers with the chant Econmy! Economy! Economy!

Bob , March 28, 2020 at 1:17 pm

What are you talking about? Have you not been reading all the experts' reports on exactly how dangerous this disease is? Have you not seen the pictures and stories coming from Spain and Italy with morgues and trucks full of bodies? Have you not read the stories of medical personnel and hospitals being overwhelmed by this pandemic? How many have to die for this to matter to you? Sorry to be blunt but you lack of concern is frankly shocking. (P.S. I have a kid on the front line of this disaster and we are very very worried for him)

jonboinAR , March 28, 2020 at 2:11 pm

I keep hearing, mostly from people I know, how the CV is not much more than a way over-publicized version of the common cold or flu. I would counter that the common cold or even the annual flu pandemic does not threaten to entirely overwhelm the health care system of the countries and regions it infects. See Lombardy and New York, for example. Clearly, in terms of the seriousness of its symptoms anyway, the CV is pretty far beyond the flu.

Kurtismayfield , March 28, 2020 at 3:18 pm

It's up to 700+ deaths in NY.

When do you think we should have taken these measures to slow the virus? When it hit 1000? 5000? 30,000? Tell me a number that you will be ok with so that we can hit that, then we can hit the emergency button.

The problem with this virus is that it hits the healthcare system all at once, and they have to choose who lives and dies Would you like to be chosen to live or die based upon an algorithm?

Kiers , March 28, 2020 at 6:29 pm

I don't think it's hysterics, but "was it planned" is a good question: operation covfefe.
"They" are not done with it yet, a mass fear op like this is too good to leave without milking further. THIS will be "THE" anchor event for the NEXT 20+ years of "policy". Mark my word. The top can not leave this gold.

John , March 28, 2020 at 10:11 am

About that Republican $500 billion corporate bailout slush fund the Dems said they won oversight on:

Trump Axed Congressionally-Mandated Pandemic Recovery Oversight with Stimulus Bill Signing Statement

In a signing statement, the president undermined a key safeguard Democrats had insisted upon as a condition of approving $500 billion in corporate relief in the $2 trillion law.

Susan the other , March 28, 2020 at 11:09 am

Could we ask for better proof that neoliberal capitalism not only doesn't work, it's a catastrophe all by itself. And nobody is saying a word about it. That will come later in disguised language just as the money is going out now in disguised give-aways.

tegnost , March 28, 2020 at 11:48 am

And nobody is saying a word about it
Rule #1. Don't mess with a dog that's not barking

There will be a price to pay for this, and I don't think the robot dogs will be up to the fight

steven , March 28, 2020 at 10:54 am

The population of Italy is (or was) 60.8 million. As of this morning, 9,134 Italians have died – and the disease hasn't crested yet. The population of the United States is 327.2 million. If our experience is similar to theirs (and with the 'leadership' exhibited by Trump and the US Congress it looks like it might be worse), we can anticipate ‭49,155 deaths.

That sure doesn't sound like "just hysterics" to me.

human , March 28, 2020 at 11:07 am

A normal and expected season then.

hermeneut , March 28, 2020 at 12:03 pm

Please spit out the kool-aid. You're ignoring the magnitudes faster pace of this pandemic, as well as the fact that it falls on top of our regular flu season, not to mention other medical emergencies. If you have time to spread misleading information, please consider doing your homework and helping share helpful facts.

DJG , March 28, 2020 at 12:30 pm

hermeneut: Thank you. Naked Capitalism has had an informal policy against agnotology, which is culturally induced ignorance or doubt.

I see it often on the larger WWW, where facts regularly are gummed to death by the self-ignorant among us.

The coronavirus is producing death rates that are orders of magnitude above the flu's death rate estimated at 0.01 percent. Coronavirus is wildly contagious compared to the flu. Further, we don't know its long-term effects on anyone. People think that children may not be affected–until we have a spate of lung disease ten years from now.

Upthread, there are a couple of agnotologists discussing how they don't know anyone who has died of the flu or pneumonia. They must not get out much. Pneumonia is a co-factor in many deaths, so much so that doctors call it the old man's friend, old person's friend. Pneumonia means falling asleep and not waking up in the morning.

human , March 28, 2020 at 1:12 pm

I was responding to stevens' 49K calculation. Please take issue with his comment. I fully expect the mortality rate to increase beyond seasonal averages due to additional and more severe complications.

Cuibono , March 28, 2020 at 2:48 pm

what was misleading there? Trying to understand this the number of flu deaths wasnt that high or ?

neplusultra , March 28, 2020 at 12:14 pm

Yep, China enacted unprecedented lockdown measures just for fun. Good call buddy

Travis Bickle , March 28, 2020 at 12:17 pm

Ah, someone who wasn't paying attention to their lessons. Unlike flu there is no vaccine and the population is essentially a virgin host. Some people may be able to slough it off, but it'll be by happenstance, and they'll still be carriers.

Hence, the progress of the disease will be exponential, less the temporary suppression and mitigation you can see in countries like China and South Korea. The economic cost of these measures will eventually be too much, they'll have to ease off, and the disease will take off again. If you want to track the various countries "score" as this inevitability unfolds, go to

As to your "calculations", this disease will have its way and will need to run its course. It will increase exponentially and circle back in successive waves until the available supply of hosts has been exhausted or developed immunity. In the aggregate, the US will meet its wave in < a week, but every community will be hit at a different time depending on all sort so things; Italy has only really taken a significant hits in a few provinces and the fun for them is yet to come. The infection is just now gaining traction in the rest of Italy due to effective mitigation and the WAVE of casualties is yet to come, as soon as they raise their guard.

All this money being spent is just buying time and lining pockets. This is not a two hour movie, where Brad Pitt has a blaze of insight and cooks up a cure for the zombie apocalypse in a busy afternoon.

steven , March 28, 2020 at 1:06 pm

This is ever so cool! Thank you! track the various countries "score" as this inevitability unfolds

cnchal , March 28, 2020 at 1:57 pm

> . . . The economic cost of these measures will eventually be too much, they'll have to ease off, and the disease will take off again.

I agree and a link from the links page illustrates that.

China Shuts Down All Cinemas, Again Hollywood Reporter

On further reflection (I have a comment on this post that is either in moderation or disappeared) it seems that the pittance to workers with the right paperwork is to give the appearance of doing something but ultimately it is to starve people into submission, so that getting back to making money for the billionaires becomes the only alternative.

jonboinAR , March 28, 2020 at 2:30 pm

It taking off again is what I fear when I imagine what's likely to occur down the road. Trump is right at least when he points out that eventually we'll all have to return to work. Otherwise the economy will collapse completely, leaving us in some kind of Mad Max chaos. Eventually. So, what happens when the voluntary lock-down is lifted, whether that be Easter or a month or 2 or 3 later? If this thing is not completely eliminated by then will it not just roar right back and we'll be in the same situation we find ourselves in currently, only most of us even more precarious, financially? I can't seem to puzzle our current strategy out in my mind without finding a horribly disastrous outcome at the end.

It seems, then, like fairly severe social distancing is mandated by circumstance way into the future. If that's the case, then our previous ways of living, I mean a great deal of it, all or the casual gathering and traveling around we've been accustomed to is dead, whether we realize it now, or not. What the heck does this mean? What do we do with a good part of our work-force and many if not most of our small business owners? I ask these questions without any reasonable or acceptable answers in mind.

Travis Bickle , March 28, 2020 at 3:47 pm

..Here's the deal:

We are collectively going to have to take our licks here, painful though it will be, sooner or later. Countries which have managed to keep things tamped down, for the moment only, need to use that time to refine their hospital procedures and re-supply to save as many as they can when the lid has to be taken off. That means having triage protocols in place for COVID-19, as well as everyone else who comes in the door. Refer to the graphic in appendix B of the Imperial College forecast for the US. Hospitals are going to be overwhelmed in any of their scenarios, although every locality will have its encounter at at different time and the precise circumstances will vary.

The initial UK strategy of angling for "herd immunity' was roundly ridiculed and sheepishly withdrawn, but it was and is the only logical course. The disease simply doesn't give a whit about the "But, but, but, but every life is priceless whinning" of those who cannot face the reality. There is a BIG culling on the way, and all those Red State denialisms, and sanctimonious bigots at Liberty University are going to get a big dose of this, along with everyone else. This wave is coming, and all that can really be done is to delay it, which may reduce the pain in a given locality, depending on their unique circumstances and if the local authorities do their job right. This will be a battle fought on a thousand hills (a thousand public health settings), and some will do better or worse than others, even as the timing of the wave will vary for each: take notes on what is only now beginning to happen in NYC, and how events unfold over the next month or two there. This story will not be over by the eleven o'clock news or even next weekend.

Taking it up-front DOES help preserve the economy, allowing for recovery afterwards, and that's key. Otherwise, we start drifting toward the Mad Max scenario alluded to above. Even now, how are all the bodies going to be taken care of? Healthcare staff is already dying, and staffs can be expected to desert as events unfold in NYC and elsewhere. All the support people who make things work with their marginal salaries are noble, but stupid, if they stick around those places, which are nothing but huge disease vectors. Then there's the food supply chain, etc, etc, etc

Anyway we go this movie is not going to end well, and it won't end next week or even next month. The disease will keep on coming back around until there is nobody left for it grab hold of: meaning either there is a vaccine or herd immunity (usually thought of as 60-70% of the population having had its brush with the thing).

JBird4049 , March 28, 2020 at 7:41 pm

As a Californian, "Red State denialisms, and sanctimonious bigots at Liberty University" is an extremely unfair appellation given that I can see the same here in the Uber-Blue San Francisco Bay Area.

While the improved efficiencies of the medical services are not quite as deep as in the Red areas of California and in other states, the bigotry is just as strong. Only the targets are changed. The deplorables, the poor, conservatives, and, of course, the homeless tend to be fair game.

An infectious disease like COVID19 doesn't care about anything except reproduction and is taking advantage of our situation; both political parties have been quite happy hollowing out our nation-state condemning our nation to needless mass deaths and country's government to possible collapse in fealty to the wealthy and in increasing the size of their personal bank accounts.

Eclair , March 28, 2020 at 3:21 pm

Here is a link to a paper just made public by the University of Washington, Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. It's predicting Washington's peak at around April 14th. Also, they evaluate each state, calculate its peak, and list the its available hospital beds and ICU beds and note the estimated shortfalls (as well as shortfalls in ventilators) at peak.

Looking at their projections for New York State, one can understand Governor Cuomo's urgency.

Travis Bickle , March 28, 2020 at 4:03 pm

For some reason your link didn't work, I found it with a quick google search and it really is quite worthwhile:

All the credible studies I've reviewed in their own way have supported the essential thesis of the Imperial College curve, and this is no exception.

gc54 , March 28, 2020 at 5:06 pm

The simulator here has adjustable parameters for the pandemic and resolution down to county level in many states of the US. Of course we can expect patient transport between at least counties if not states until ICUs are saturated. Very sobering to see how long this may play out. Cases and outcomes are plotted too.

Kiers , March 28, 2020 at 6:42 pm

I ran a regression with Governor Cuomo's numbers (for NY State); Between March 3rd to March 23rd was the confirmed raw data, before extrapolating; a social isolation program was begun on the March 20th, so the data is pure "natural" "do nothing" dynamics; I fit the curve to the data, and it showed 100% of NY State population affected by April 12th. The data showed a slope co-efficient of 1.46 every day (46% increase in new cases every day). R-squared for the fit: 96% (yes, rather high, which tells me this virus rolls out like clockwork). However, we learn, even in Wuhan, a hard lockdown took two-three weeks to "begin to bend the curve". We are in for the herd situation no question. It's been too little too late by far. (but even one day saved from the 100% terminus is still quite a large population: we are talking exponential time, not linear.).

When "early" (really drastically "late": being in first weeks of March) estimates from Fauci, and other talking heads said US would likely see ~70% of population infected, that translates to ONLY being able to shave ONE DAY off 100% herd exposure given my regression showing just how contagious this is.

(It's my belief they lied to us, it's not just "droplets" but it is very nicely aerosolized: breathing and exhaling in the wrong quarters is enought to do it; but thats' just me, however do note, the Covid briefings at the top were state secret, not open to journalists. We only get the vaudeville versions of everything, highly politicized to boot).

Jeremy Grimm , March 28, 2020 at 1:50 pm

The Corona flu [I like Corona because it sounds better -- more like cholera -- as in Love in the time of Corona] is not the pandemic we need to worry about. That pandemic is still coming. The Corona flu is bad but it is only a 'test' of our healthcare systems and government, our knowledge, and our Media -- a live exercise. The U.S. is failing miserably in all these areas. The CARES package -- I can't think of a more catchy name for this bill and it really deserves a catchy name -- will do nothing to remedy the failings of our healthcare systems and government, our knowledge, and our Media but it reveals how unprepared we are for when the 'real' pandemic arrives.

[Mar 29, 2020] Don't believe the myth that we must sacrifice lives to save the economy by Jonathan Porte

Mar 25, 2020 |

Jonathan Portes Governments must do whatever it takes -- and whatever it costs -- in the interests of our health and our collective wealth

• Jonathan Portes is a former senior civil servant

Coronavirus -- latest updates

See all our coronavirus coverage

Wed 25 Mar 2020 14.13 EDT Last modified on Wed 25 Mar 2020 17.50 EDT Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share via Email 'if, as the scientists predict, the result of loosening the restrictions was an acceleration in infections, then pretty soon many firms would simply stop functioning, as workers became sick.' Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images I s the cure worse than the disease? The Times claimed today: "If the coronavirus lockdown leads to a fall in GDP of more than 6.4% more years of life will be lost due to recession than will be gained through beating the virus." It's hard to know where to start with this nonsense. It's based on a paper currently under review at a journal entitled Nanotechnology Perceptions, which simply assumes that a fall in GDP translates mechanically and directly into a fall in life expectancy.

It's this sort of reasoning that appears to be leading President Trump to call for an early end to restrictions in the US, claiming that far more people would die of suicide from a "terrible economy" than from the virus.

But the premise is simply wrong. A recession -- a short-term, temporary fall in GDP -- need not, and indeed normally does not, reduce life expectancy. Indeed, counterintuitively, the weight of the evidence is that recessions actually lead to people living longer. Suicides do indeed go up, but other causes of death, such as road accidents and alcohol-related disease, fall.

So at the most basic level, this argument ignores what the evidence says. But perhaps more importantly, the idea that the way to minimise the economic damage is to remove the restrictions before they've done their job -- definitively suppressing the spread of the virus -- is a terrible one.

Does anyone believe that, whatever the government said, we could get back to "normal", or something close to it, any time soon? If we were all allowed to return to work, many or most of us would, quite rationally, choose not to, for fear of catching the virus. And if, as the scientists predict, the result of loosening the restrictions was an acceleration in infections, then pretty soon many firms would simply stop functioning, as workers became sick, or had to stay at home to look after family members.

More broadly, restoring the economy to normal requires, above all, confidence. Amid continuing uncertainty both about their own finances and the wider economy, households won't spend and businesses won't invest. And that simply isn't going to happen until the spread of the diseases has been contained.

So there is no tradeoff here. Health and economic considerations point in exactly the same direction in the short term. Do whatever it takes -- and whatever it costs -- and do it now, in the interests both of our health and our collective wealth.

But what comes next? It is entirely reasonable to point out that serious damage to the economy, if it persists over the longer term, will reduce our welfare and maybe even -- as austerity and its aftermath have done -- life expectancy. The last 10 days have seen universal credit claims rise more than five-fold , to half a million, while YouGov data suggests that 2 million people may have lost their job. The recession is already here.

But this need not, and should not, be permanent. The risk here is that we allow the inevitable fall in GDP that results from shutting down the economy to drive firms out of business and workers into long-term unemployment. And there is nothing inevitable at all about this.

After all, many European countries, such as France or Italy, probably, see their GDP fall by 10% or 20% or so in absolute terms every August when workers take their summer holidays. No one notices -- the numbers are "seasonally adjusted" to take account of holidays, which means it doesn't show up in the published data -- nor does it do any damage. Workers continue to be paid, and businesses don't go bust just because they're not making any money. Come September, everyone gets back to work as normal.

Of course this is very different -- that won't happen automatically with Covid-19. The impacts are more widespread and long-lasting -- and we don't know how long -- than an enforced extra holiday. But rapid and appropriate action by government can go a long way. Keeping workers in jobs and firms in business needs to be the priority. In the circumstances, the government's made a good start, although there's lots more to do .

So what we should be worried about -- both from an economic and a health perspective -- is not how much GDP falls. It's going to fall by a lot, and that's a good thing. If it didn't -- if people were still going to work despite being told not to -- then the lockdown wouldn't be working and we'd still see economic consequences further down the line. It's what happens to GDP in a year or 18 months that matters.

And the long-term consequences? It wasn't the sharp fall in GDP in 2008-9 that reduced, over the course of the next decade, life expectancy for the poorest in our society . It was how the government chose to address the economic fallout of the global financial crisis -- by underfunding and understaffing the NHS and social care, and by eroding the basic welfare safety net that people depend on when times are hard. As we are now discovering, these were false economies that left us less, not more, prepared for this crisis.

Similarly, if we allow Covid-19 to permanently damage our economic and social fabric, it will be our own fault, not that of the virus. This time we can, and must, do better.

• Jonathan Portes is professor of economics and public policy at King's College London and a former senior civil servant

WhereAreYourMorals , 25 Mar 2020 17:48

Compulsory procurement of half a dozen luxury yachts would go a long way with funding, as would the uber wealthy PAYING THEIR CORPORATE TAX.

These extreme right-wing leaders in this world are evil. They all claim to be practicing Christians, unbelievably. Anti-Christ more like. I'm not religious, but blind Freddy would tell you if Jesus had existed, then these guys are the Romans that killed him. They simply don't give a shit; swathes of people are expendable.

Didn't a corrupted prime minister get eaten by his people one time? Just sayin'.

kent_rules -> FMIIII , 25 Mar 2020 17:48
We have been weaning people off tobacco for a long time and this virus seems to love compromised lungs - tragically, young and fit Americans may succumb due to unregulated vaping products and decriminalised cannabis products - particularly if one survives but with severely damaged lungs.
chainedtomydesk , 25 Mar 2020 17:48
I’m sorry but recessions do cause a spike in suicide, mental health issues and stress related cancer deaths. The most vulnerable in society, on the breadline, will as usual be the people who struggle the most. To suggest life expectancy goes up in a recession is a fallacy.
Elias_Artifex , 25 Mar 2020 17:47
The latest US Trump policy (US open for business, do the right thing weaklings and die for the sake of the nation's financial interests) is basically identical with the original UK Cummings policy. Over the next few weeks are we going to see this policy re-asserted in the UK - probably. Why - because the alternative would be to attempt containment of Covis 19 - which would require a South Korean style program of testing and quarantine. And there is absolutely indication of any political appetite for doing so in the UK whatsoever.
Hornplayer , 25 Mar 2020 17:41
The risk here is a replay of austerity that we saw after the 2008 financial crisis, with many people left aside. Economically, this was to rebalance the books after the government injected cash to support the banks. Socially it was damaging.
If we repeat the same pay back and austerity model (on steroids this time) the social and political fallout could be horrendous.
But what are the alternatives?
FFC800 -> AJVC1991 , 25 Mar 2020 17:40

it really does strike me as unfair that their plan was "to do nothing" - I think it seems to be a bit nuanced than that; and terribly communicated

Yes, the plan was not 'do nothing', it was 'get at risk groups to isolate themselves and assume that the NHS could deal with the small proportion of low risk groups needing hospitalisation'. This is essentially what Sweden and NL are doing, with (like us last week) the addition of social distancing to slow down transmission.

This is a better idea than trying to avoid everyone getting it ('containment'), because as soon as you lift containment, you still have no immunity so you're basically at day 0 again. Unless the plan is to be under lockdown forever, the containment approach is a panic, not a strategy.

If you're going for herd immunity you do need to slow the infections down enough that the serious cases don't overwhelm your health service. That's what the social distancing and WFH guidelines are about, and outside the cities and a few visitor spots it was working well last week.

Continentalcyclist , 25 Mar 2020 17:38
Spot on.

What made European economies grow in 1948? Confidence, investment, a social security network, education for all, and building, building, building homes badly needed in destroyed cities and for the homecoming of millions of veterans and the ensuing baby boom.

The post-war recession feared by economists did not occur. Instead there was a quarter century of prosperity. Never had there been there so many people, and never before had they had it so good. Until the arrival of the family butchers. Who sold the family silver and sacrificed welfare on the altar of m-m-m-monetarism. Said Ssupermac in his maiden speech in the Lords.

[Mar 29, 2020] Medical Expert Who Corrects Trump Is Now a Target of the Far Right

Money quote " There is this sense that experts are untrustworthy, and have agendas that aren't aligned with the people"
That was always true about neoliberal economists. So it might well be true about mecuacl bureaucrats like Fauci. Did he disclose his stock holdingd and financial interests? Is he a part of neoliberal "medical-industrial complex" which wants to rake profits at the expense of people health?
His email to Hillary suggest that he is medical professional but a politician.
Actually any top medical honcho in Washing is compromised as they did nothing to stop "balance billing" fraud and too over of ambulance business by private equity sharks.
Notable quotes:
"... There is this sense that experts are untrustworthy, and have agendas that aren't aligned with the people ..."
"... In the email, Dr. Fauci praised Mrs. Clinton for her stamina during the 2013 Benghazi hearings. The American Thinker falsely claimed that the email was evidence that he was part of a secret group who opposed Mr. Trump. ..."
Mar 29, 2020 |

Adding that Dr. Fauci is bearing the brunt of the attacks, Mr. Bergstrom said: " There is this sense that experts are untrustworthy, and have agendas that aren't aligned with the people . It's very concerning because the experts in this are being discounted out of hand."

... ... ...

Anti-Fauci posts spiked, according to Zignal Labs. Much of the increase was prompted by a March 21 article in The American Thinker, a conservative blog, which published the seven-year-old email that Dr. Fauci had written to an aide of Mrs. Clinton.

In the email, Dr. Fauci praised Mrs. Clinton for her stamina during the 2013 Benghazi hearings. The American Thinker falsely claimed that the email was evidence that he was part of a secret group who opposed Mr. Trump.

... ... ...

In an interview, Mr. Fitton said, "Dr. Fauci is doing a great job." He added that Dr. Fauci "wrote very political statements to Hillary Clinton that were odd for an appointee of his nature to send."

...One anti-Fauci tweet last Sunday read: "Dr. Fauci is in love w/ crooked @HillaryClinton. More reasons not to trust him."

[Mar 29, 2020] The EU's Betrayal of Italy May Be Its Undoing by Francesco Giubile

Notable quotes:
"... The coronavirus emergency has exposed the failures and flaws of the European Union, while underscoring the importance of nation-states. In Europe, we've observed a series of events that have demonstrated the collapse of the supra-national model. First, the borders shut down -- Austria and Slovenia acted unilaterally, without asking approval from Italy's government. The move was also symbolic: Italy was not only isolated, it was abandoned to its own devices. ..."
"... Globalization may have its efficiencies, but an overwhelmed health care system suffers in the absence of internal production of the necessary materials -- life-saving ventilators, infection-preventing hazmat vests, face masks. The global evolution of supply chains exported manufacturing and relied heavily on the cheap imports of essential products from abroad. But with the spread of the coronavirus, many states are now forbidding the export of medical equipment. A good example is Turkey, a country that readily accepts EU funds and that many liberals would like to bring into the Union. Ankara blocked a shipment of 200,000 face masks already purchased by Italy for the hard-hit northern regions of Marche and Emilia Romagna. ..."
Mar 28, 2020 |
The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a greater toll on Italy than any other nation. The Italians are facing their most severe crisis since the Second World War, with Lombardy in the industrial north particularly hard hit. Yet for all its rhetoric about global citizenship and solidarity, the European Union has all but abandoned them. That's even though communist China, arguably globalization's greatest and shrewdest state beneficiary, is ready to fill the void and help Italy put out the fire its own virus started.

The coronavirus first appeared in Italy on January 31 when two Chinese tourists from the Hubei province tested positive in Rome, eight days after they'd landed at the Milan airport in Lombardy. The two were immediately isolated and quarantined in the Roman Spallanzani hospital, and the situation seemed under control -- until February 21. That day, Italy confirmed 16 new coronavirus cases, 14 in Lombardy and two in Veneto. A 38-year-old Italian from Codogno near Milan with acute respiratory symptoms was identified as patient zero. Despite Italy's attempts to contain the virus by locking down the city of Codogno, coronavirus infections spread.

In just a few days, Italy had the highest number of infections in Europe, with Lombardy as the pandemic's epicenter. To avoid the spread of infections to the rest of Italy, the government locked down the entire region of Lombardy and other areas in northern Italy, effectively quarantining 17 million people. A few days later, as the situation deteriorated, the whole of Italy was declared an "orange zone" -- all "non-essential" commercial activities were shut down and the free movement of citizens was limited to grocery and pharmaceutical shopping and work obligations deemed by the state as of "prime importance."

The economic repercussions of a complete shutdown loomed large. Consequently, Italy asked the EU for more flexibility on its accounts and requested that emergency measures be deployed to support Italian citizens and businesses. At the time, the crisis was hardly felt in the European powerhouses, France or Germany. The EU's response was slow and inefficient, and Italians started to feel abandoned by European institutions. As the original signer of the Treaty of Rome, Italy is a founding member of the EU and the third largest economy in the eurozone.

On March 12, the president of the European Central Bank (ECB), Christine Lagarde, marked a point of no return -- she gave a highly anticipated speech outlining the measures the bank would introduce to combat the effects of the coronavirus. Lagarde decided not to cut interest rates, arguing against the policy of "whatever it takes," as had been outlined by former ECB president Mario Draghi. To Italians, the EU's indifference was a betrayal. The consequences of her words were immediate -- and disastrous for Italian stocks. Even the pro-EU president of the Italian Republic, Sergio Mattarella, released a harsh statement asking the EU to correct its ways in the "common interest" of Europe.

The EU did change its position on the COVID-19 response, but not until the health care crisis had spread to France and Germany, making it their problem, too. By then, the damage done to the Italians' trust in European institutions was already beyond repair. With few viable options left, Italy's government is now considering the European "Save the State Funds," asking the EU to implement the €500 billion emergency bailout program from the European Stability Mechanism designed for EU member states -- a risky move that may saddle Italy with long-term debt on a scale similar to Greece.

The coronavirus emergency has exposed the failures and flaws of the European Union, while underscoring the importance of nation-states. In Europe, we've observed a series of events that have demonstrated the collapse of the supra-national model. First, the borders shut down -- Austria and Slovenia acted unilaterally, without asking approval from Italy's government. The move was also symbolic: Italy was not only isolated, it was abandoned to its own devices.

Globalization may have its efficiencies, but an overwhelmed health care system suffers in the absence of internal production of the necessary materials -- life-saving ventilators, infection-preventing hazmat vests, face masks. The global evolution of supply chains exported manufacturing and relied heavily on the cheap imports of essential products from abroad. But with the spread of the coronavirus, many states are now forbidding the export of medical equipment. A good example is Turkey, a country that readily accepts EU funds and that many liberals would like to bring into the Union. Ankara blocked a shipment of 200,000 face masks already purchased by Italy for the hard-hit northern regions of Marche and Emilia Romagna.

The Italians are coming together to fight the pandemic. Many Italian companies have converted production at home: those working in the textile industry have started producing face masks. Italy's only manufacturer of respiratory equipment, in the province of Bologna, is not able to meet the current needs and relieve the national shortage of ventilators. Army technicians are now helping to increase production capacity.

What has the coronavirus in Italy taught us so far? A great nation is doing what it can to become self-sufficient as the crisis proves daily that the propaganda of the prophets of globalization is false. We see that there are strategic sectors, such as health care, transport, energy, defense, and telecommunications, that have to be considered from the perspective of national security and not strictly business.

This is a new, unspoken understanding that unites Italy today. We have witnessed a return of patriotism: flags are hanging from windows and Italians are singing the national anthem. But there is something else to consider: our freedom. Some politicians, including former prime minister Matteo Renzi, are proposing to monitor the movements of individuals using their phones and data from telecommunication companies to police compliance with the lockdown rules and assess penalties for violations. This smacks of the Big Brother surveillance state. The collection of metadata for statistical ends, as practiced in Lombardy, should be separated from the indiscriminate control of individual citizens. Otherwise an Orwellian precedent will be set. Such an anti-democratic attitude seems to be one of the collateral ideological effects of what President Trump refers to as a "Chinese virus."

... ... ...

Francesco Giubilei is an entrepreneur, author, and independent journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is founder and president of the Nazione Futura magazine and foundation.

[Mar 28, 2020] With CODEK-19 epidemic revealing all the flaws of neoliberal globalization it looks like neo-liberalism is begging to be replaced

Mar 28, 2020 |

bevin , Mar 27 2020 22:33 utc | 58

This article might interest you. The author makes the point that neo-liberalism is begging to be replaced.

"...Crises like these call for an interventionist state to keep the system together, or for mutual aid and solidarity, especially among people abandoned or targeted by the state. In some countries, the legitimacy of state administration and planning will grow, in others political legitimacy will fall precipitously, leading not just to mutual aid networks, but to attempts to build dual power.

"What economic paradigm – if any – may become dominant isn't clear. The prestige of Chinese-style state capitalism is growing. Keynesian and Modern Monetary Theory economists will find jobs in high places, and market socialism-with-nationalisations will continue to strengthen its position as the dominant economic doctrine on the left.

"However, the economic and ecological unsustainability of growth will raise hard questions of how to distribute or redistribute the losses in a non-growth world. Fascism and populist welfare chauvinism will offer the false security of disaster nationalism, national hoarding and resource wars.

Degrowth's offer of a planned and willed exit from growth will continue to gain followers, and communist strategies will grow in importance, as the surpluses that can be divided between contending classes shrink. Ecological breakdown and an absence of growth will pose questions that are already imposing themselves in the intense isolation of the lockdown: what are the joys of deceleration, what to do with an abundance of time and interdependence? And, more forcefully, it will radically narrow the space for social and political compromise.

"Struggle is unavoidable. The question is who will organise it and how."

At the same site there is another piece on the way ion which the crisis has changed the NHS in the UK overnight.

[Mar 28, 2020] COVID-19 Is Forcing The World To Re-Think The Idea Of Monetary Value by Matthew Ehret

Notable quotes:
"... Decades of this modern religion have resulted in an incredibly tragic situation: a disproportionate wealth distribution in the hands of the 0.1%, an over-bloated services/consumer driven economy, increased rates of poverty and despair internationally as well as a dismal loss of vital skills, and productive capacity once enjoyed by advanced industrial nations just four decades ago. Vital infrastructure built up during the 1930s-1960s has been permitted to decay through simple neglect while un-payable debts have reached record highs. ..."
"... Banks in Spain have been nationalized (albeit only "temporarily") to force finance to act in accordance with the needs of society. ..."
"... This renewal of national sovereign powers breaks all of the monetary "laws of the neoliberal order" and with that defiance of globalization, a genuine positive potential for a paradigm shift is visible... ..."
Mar 28, 2020 |

Authored by Matthew Ehret via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

Western society has long been gripped by a deep seeded belief in money. Trillions of dollars of bank notes tied to ever-growing mountains of un-payable national debts has taken on a life of its own over the years. As the post-1971 years rolled by, society increasingly lost a sense that this human invention called "money" was created to serve humanity rather than rule it, and with that lost sense, money became an idol of worship.

Decades of this modern religion have resulted in an incredibly tragic situation: a disproportionate wealth distribution in the hands of the 0.1%, an over-bloated services/consumer driven economy, increased rates of poverty and despair internationally as well as a dismal loss of vital skills, and productive capacity once enjoyed by advanced industrial nations just four decades ago. Vital infrastructure built up during the 1930s-1960s has been permitted to decay through simple neglect while un-payable debts have reached record highs.

Then like a thief in the night, the illusion was ripped away.

The Confused Response to the Crisis

This ripping away took the form of an international pandemic which has resulted in western nations' economies grinding to a halt with a new $2 Trillion government emergency spending bill unveiled on March 24. The Washington Post reports that this bill will authorize "hundreds of billions of dollars sent to Americans in the form of checks as a way to flood the country with money in an effort to blunt the dramatic pullback of spending that has resulted from the coronavirus outbreak."

Governments across the Trans-Atlantic have also announced national interventions into banks and private industry in order to force production quotas of vital equipment like ventilators, masks and other medical necessities to meet the increased demand. Banks in Spain have been nationalized (albeit only "temporarily") to force finance to act in accordance with the needs of society. In America, the Defense Authorization Act and broader War Powers Act passed by President Trump gives the executive broad powers to take over vital industries if needed in order to mobilize the nation to respond to the crisis.

This renewal of national sovereign powers breaks all of the monetary "laws of the neoliberal order" and with that defiance of globalization, a genuine positive potential for a paradigm shift is visible...

... but something vital is still missing.

This "missing something" is clearly demonstrated by the continued obsession with money as new bailouts of the collapsing speculative banks have now risen to a $1 trillion/day overnight repo loan to collapsing banks which is added to the $1 Trillion 14 week loans offered every week that will dramatically increase the $9 trillion already emitted since helicopter money began in earnest in September 2019. With the mass panic and economic shutdown instigated by COVID-19, markets have lost over 30% of their value and fears of a new great depression have spread far and wide.

Rather than impose serious bank regulation like Glass-Steagall to break up the commercial from speculative banks as was done in 1933, the American government has merely unleashed unlimited money printing. This bipolar response is akin to trying to stop a raging fire with a combination of water and gasoline.

We thus find that the greatest crisis facing humanity is not caused by the market crisis, or even the coronavirus per se, but rather society's profound inability to understand the source of real from fictitious value.

What is REAL Value? Lincoln and FDR Revisited

"The privilege of creating and issuing money is not only the supreme prerogative of Government, but it is the Government's greatest creative opportunity. By the adoption of these principles, the long-felt want for a uniform medium will be satisfied. The taxpayers will be saved immense sums of interest, discounts and exchanges. The financing of all public enterprises, the maintenance of stable government and ordered progress, and the conduct of the Treasury will become matters of practical administration. The people can and will be furnished with a currency as safe as their own government. Money will cease to be the master and become the servant of humanity. Democracy will rise superior to the money power."

These words were uttered by none other than America's 16th president Abraham Lincoln as he fought to take federal control of credit vis a vis the "greenbacks" that not only allowed him to win the war of secession but also construct the greatest infrastructure and industrialization programs of history driven by the trans continental railway . The dramatic success of Lincoln's "American System" not only saved the union, but spread successfully across the world from Japan's Meiji restoration, Russia's trans Siberian rail development, Bismarck's Zollverein in Germany and Sadi Carnot's France. This powerful spread of what German economist Friedrich List called "the American System of Political Economy" nearly annihilated the money-worshipping system of Adam Smith's Free Trade doctrine from the earth and only failed in this task via a plenitude of London-directed assassinations, and a couple of imperially-orchestrated wars and revolutions along the way.

The world spun out of control between the murder of the "last Lincoln republican" William Mckinley in 1901 and the orchestrated meltdown of the U.S. economy known as the great depression of 1929.

Amidst this dark period, Franklin Roosevelt called for the Democrats to claim the legacy of Lincoln from the corrupt republican party and faced a Wall Street-backed coup d'etat , survived a freemasonic assassination attempt and subverted a City of London-orchestrated bankers' dictatorship all in his first year in office. During his March 4, 1933 inaugural address, the president rallied the American people saying:

"I am prepared under my constitutional duty to recommend the measures that a stricken nation in the midst of a stricken world may require. These measures, or such other measures as the Congress may build out of its experience and wisdom, I shall seek, within my constitutional authority, to bring to speedy adoption."

As I have outlined in my recent paper How to Crush a Bankers' Dictatorship , FDR took control of credit in a similar manner as Lincoln by forcing the Federal Reserve to obey a national mandate for the first time since the private bank was set up in 1913. He did so by imposing his ally Mariner Eccles into the position of Chairman who understood that money had to create infrastructure and industrial growth in order to acquire any claim to having actual "value". This was a stark break from the "hands off/laissez-faire" policy of President Hoover and his JP Morgan-run cabinet. FDR also emitted Lincoln-styled productive credit through the Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC) to fuel the New Deal. The RFC issued over $33 billion in low-interest loans by the end of the war (more than all private banks combined).

Describing his moral philosophy of political economy, FDR stated:

"We seek not merely to make government a mechanical implement, but to give it the vibrant personal character that is the very embodiment of human charity. We are poor indeed if this nation cannot afford to lift from every recess of American life the dread fear of the unemployed that they are not needed in the world. We cannot afford to accumulate a deficit in the books of human fortitude."

What is missing today

Today's America is confronting an existential crisis similar to that which both Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt battled in their time. Just as the proto-deep state of 1865 ran Lincoln's assassination from Montreal Canada, and took over the White House minutes after FDR's untimely death in 1945, today's deep state has attempted in vain to overthrow President Trump while successfully undermining the political viability of other "outsiders" like Bernie Sanders and Tulsi Gabbard.

The difference is that today's crisis combines elements of all previous crises of 1861-1865, 1929-1933 and 1938-1945: the very real new threat of chaos and civil war within, NATO-led wars with China and Russia without and economic collapse across the entire trans-Atlantic bubble economy. The other difference is located in the current presidency's inability to FOCUS with a clear mind on principled solutions to this multi-faceted crisis while instead finding itself trapped within contradictory impulses.

While FDR and Lincoln understood that VALUE was located the physically productive forces of labor which sustained and improved the lives of people and gave the constitution's pre-amble a real living character, today's American leadership has displayed a far greater ignorance to this basic fact of life. The vital difference between "need" vs "want" which has been obscured by decades of free market ideology has resulted in a loss of moral judgment necessary to properly put out the fires threatening to unleashing civil war, chaos and fascist global government "solutions" across the Trans Atlantic today.

The new multipolar alliance led by Russia and China have demonstrated what modern day New Deal policies can do. The Belt and Road Initiative as well as the Strategic Eurasian Partnership, Polar Silk Road and bold space exploration projects all reflect the type of principles of win-win cooperation and long term planning that characterized both FDR and Lincoln earlier. The Health Silk Road announced earlier this week by President Xi Jinping provides a brilliant maneuver to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic under a non-Malthusian worldview. This Multipolar Alliance exists as a form of a life raft for anyone wishing to escape the fate of the Titanic and embark on a new epoch of growth and cooperation.

The question is: Do western powers have the ability to act according to a scientific (and moral) standard of value by aligning with this multipolar alliance or will they choose to remain in Orwell's dystopic cage and succumb to a fate which Lincoln, FDR and other great leaders gave their lives to prevent?

[Mar 28, 2020] Free market and wage arbitrage

Mar 28, 2020 |

Kessler 11 hours ago

I'd add another consideration.

Let's say Bob can make 10 high-quality wigets per hour, while Jim can make 8 medium-quality wigets per hour. Bob gets paid 100$, while Jim gets paid 50$. Bob is more efficient and productive worker. But he will be fired and replaced by Jim, because Jim's cost of labor is lower. In this case market will eliminate the more productive worker in favor of a less productive one.

Now, within one nation this difference in wages will be very unlikely and quickly adjusted by the market. But between nations, Jim could be living in a poor country, where he can afford to survive on 50$, while Bob lives in a rich country with high rents and high product costs, so he'd barely get by on 100$.

So, how much of the global trade is increasing overall value due to local advantages and how much is just shifting value from some people in favor of others? And shouldn't we favor the first and minimize the second?

tz1 10 hours ago
We did test the antifragility.

Warnings like this have been happening over the past decade, and there are books (Poorly made in China) showing each part of the threat.

Each time, it was "Interview with a Zombie" with someone from NR, or Cato, or Mises, or even here, gurgling "Freeeeee Traaaade; Laaaazeeeee Faaaaire".

Trade has frictional costs. The shipping between the Ricardian tautological countries is not free. If it costs $10,000 to send the products to the destination, there is no comparitive advantage. Nature provides barriers.

But even worse, there is NO free trade, just regulatory arbitrage. Lets say you need to open a factory. You can:

1. Open it here and wait for the swarms of agents from OSHA, EEOC, EPA, IRS, etc. to harrass you and eat out your substance, and your workers to be treated like people, and have to get loans from an often hostile banking system that prefers wall street ETFs. An implacable bunch of socialists and SJWs that think Capitilists are evil and capitalism must be destroyed or just people on power trips will constantly try to close you down and bankrupt you personally and throw you in prison.

2. Open it in China where they will kick farmers off the land and build it for you, and staff it with disposable workers and you can just dump pollution into the local stream. There will be the customary cultural cronyism and corruption, but that's what a consultant is for (Poorly made in china, whats wrong with China). But it is the symbiont that wants to keep the host healthy so there will be the most blood to skim.

3. Open it in Mexico where it also has different customs than China, but the crony corruption is still far easier to deal with and less expensive than the Destroyer Obamabots.

john 7 hours ago
Capitalism is really good at optimizing for lowest cost, it is really bad at dealing with "externalities" like a once in a hundred year global pandemic. Governments should take the "long view" well at least 4-5 years at a time. Corporations look at things more quarter to quarter.
Jorge Morales Meoqui 3 hours ago
As Nassim Taleb in his book Antifragile, the two authors are making a straw men argument with regard to David Ricardo.

I don't blame them. They are repeating what is written in most economics textbooks about the theory of comparative advantage. How they should know that this textbook theory is based on a misinterpretation of Ricardo's famous numerical example. (See here:

Ricardo did not assume that prices would remain stable, nor did he recommended that a nation should specialise in one major industry or that no two agents should specialise in the same industry. Depending on a single supplier is indeed a risky bet, but that is not what their original case for free trade recommended. On the contrary, it was meant to be a remedy against national and foreign monopolies.

Many lessons can be learned from the present crisis. To make countries less vulnerable or fragile to pandemics like COVID-19, we need robust public health care systems that covers all its residents. The health care system needs to have excess capacities (hospital beds, medical personal, ) and sufficient stocks (masks, ventilators, ) to handle the significant increase in the number of patients during pandemics. We need more international cooperation, coordination and solidarity, not less. So the exact opposite of protectionism and national solo efforts.

[Mar 28, 2020] Neoliberal priorities: plenty of USG resources for Pentagon and to run pandemic war games but no money to create the most basic stockpiles (thermometers, face masks, gloves)

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... DONALD TRUMP: Nobody knew there'd be a pandemic or an epidemic of this proportion. ..."
"... Trump is like the kid who played video games when he should have been doing his homework, then failed miserably on the test and tried to bullshit his way through the essay questions. ..."
"... As you are probably aware, a handful of elected leaders were selling their stock while assuaging the public about the dangers of the pandemic. We've gone from incompetence, to negligence, to outright profiteering. ..."
Mar 21, 2020 |

Last year, the Dept. of Health and Human Services ran a 7 month long exercise code named "Crimson Contagion," a dry run response to a global pandemic which started in China and expected more than 100 million Americans to become ill.

The simulation highlighted several failures in our preparedness for such a catastrophe .

DONALD TRUMP: Nobody knew there'd be a pandemic or an epidemic of this proportion.

The New York Times broke this story yesterday, but as it's behind a paywall I won't link to it. But there's a good interview with one of the authors conducted by NPR.

Trump is like the kid who played video games when he should have been doing his homework, then failed miserably on the test and tried to bullshit his way through the essay questions.

As you are probably aware, a handful of elected leaders were selling their stock while assuaging the public about the dangers of the pandemic. We've gone from incompetence, to negligence, to outright profiteering.

QMS on Sat, 03/21/2020 - 11:05am
good point Marie


dropping bombs and sanctioning free commerce in other countries is the American way of protecting the proceeds of the sociopaths
not such a good way to stop pandemics. Not in my name congress

Marie on Sat, 03/21/2020 - 11:57am
We do have a weird definition of national security.

Fifty-six years dumping an untold number of dollars into "keeping us safe" from a foreign invader and the one time it happened, not any of the resources were worth a damn.

The problem isn't so much that the real threats are unknown, at least not in broad outline form, but they're not "sexy." Not amenable to what the military and cloak and dagger spy guys are into. And the perpetual USG budgets for the sexy stuff is far more profitable. And is better suited to hiding all the graft and corruption (and employing the surplus and unskilled labor that elite universities crank out) that upset ordinary people fearful that some undeserving person would get something for free from the USG.

Cant Stop the M... on Sat, 03/21/2020 - 3:52pm
Apparently medical supplies don't count as military


supplies, either. Well, given how the govt likely views our soldiers, I guess that's not surprising.

pandemic war games but no money to implement the most basic stockpiles (thermometers, face masks, gloves) that would be very helpful in containing a virus. The larger serious shortcomings in the US are mostly intractable due to the "best" health care system that money can buy.

[Mar 28, 2020] People's lives have absolutely zero value to these monsters at the top, who have gotten where they are because they are so ruthless and selfish.

Mar 28, 2020 |

Mustapha Mond , says: Show Comment March 27, 2020 at 2:49 pm GMT

@tomo Hi tomo!

Yes, I would believe it.

I was a partner in a law firm where I was ultimately responsible for all civil litigation we handled. I was continually shocked and disgusted by what I saw. It was incredible. People's lives have absolutely zero value to these monsters at the top, who have gotten where they are because they are so ruthless and selfish.

We, as a society, carefully select for these psychopathic types in all high-level competitive endeavors where large sums are hanging in the balance. Their only loyalty is 1.) to themselves; 2.) to the shareholders/partners, firmly in that order, and they are VERY highly rewarded for it. That the commoner's well being holds no value to them aside from how it can be exploited to their businesses' advantage, is a truism revealed and reinforced daily. The Ford Pinto, Dalkon Shield and other horrifying high profile cases (from the era when I practiced) come immediately to mind.

Pig Pharma is by no means alone in their utter disregard for the everyday man and woman, it's just that we intuitively expect people in the medical field to want to heal the sick, not prolong it. But as the Wall Street analysts remind the heads of Pig Pharma on a daily basis: curing disease is a bad business model. Prolonging and worsening illness, just short of death, is optimal. Just ask the lovely Sackler family.

Very sad to learn it's as bad or worse across the pond, but I guess that's to be expected.

I suspect the worst of it exists in the military environment, where service men and women are apparently routinely used as guinea pigs, and often completely unknowingly. But at least they know when they sign up that they are 100% expendable ..

[Mar 28, 2020] Covid-19 Hits the Dual Economy Incomes Destroyed at the Bottom, Profits Supported at the Top

Mar 28, 2020 |

By Lance Taylor, Arnhold Professor of International Cooperation and Development, New School for Social Research. Originally published at the Institute for New Economic Thinking website

This note presents broad brush illustrations from a simple accounting model of the impacts of the coronavirus epidemic on macroeconomic balance, with emphasis on fiscal interventions. The premise is that supporting effective demand is essential for sustaining economic activity. The covid-19 epidemic created mass unemployment by shutting activity down. The resulting income loss undoubtedly reduced household consumption which makes up two-thirds of GDP. The only way to restore consumption is for the government acting as the "borrower of last resort" to raise its deficit and transfer the proceeds to households. A numerical example presented below suggests that an increase of ten percentage points in the ratio of government net borrowing (spending on goods and services plus transfers to households minus tax revenues) to GDP would do the trick.

The stimulus legislation now before Congress does not go far enough. Its size -- $2.2 trillion or ten percent of GDP – is the right order of magnitude but the breakdown of spending is biased away from households and toward business, viz. , payments that may flow more or less directly to households – checks in the mail, more unemployment insurance, small business support, state and local government support, and less than $100 billion to food stamps and disaster relief – come to $1.2 trillion or 5.7% of GDP.

Big business support in the form of loans and a range of other payments amounts to $800 billion or 3.8% of GDP. No doubt, politics aside, some of this money will be usefully spent, but its contribution to aggregate demand will be slow and indirect.

Before getting into the details of demand management, a few background observations are needed.

One is that both government and business have substantial debt overhangs. The simulations suggest that an increase of about $3 trillion in the deficit of the government sector (close to the total built into the various packages now in place or being enacted) is needed to offset the macro shock that the epidemic creates. Outstanding Federal debt is $22 trillion. New issues of three trillion may be difficult for markets to absorb.

Even worse, the corporate sector's outstanding debt is $10 trillion, five times total profits before depreciation, interest, and taxes. Share buybacks, largely financed by borrowing and ranging in the upper hundreds of billions per year, have been an important driver of growth of debt. The production side of once dominant firms – think of General Electric and Boeing – has been hollowed out by financial engineering. Politics will continue to be influenced by pressures to solve financial problems for firms created by their past mistakes.

On the real side of the economy, over the last two or three decades the share of employment in sectors with low real wages, productivity, and profits increased by around twenty percent. The share of profits in national income grew at around 0.4% per year for five decades, mostly flowing through various channels to households in the top one percent of the size distribution of income. Households at the bottom of the distribution became especially vulnerable.

The major impact on economic activity will come from falling consumption of goods and services due to income losses caused by businesses shutting down. Starting from an initial income level, household saving or the difference between income and spending will shoot up with further multiplier effects on output. High profit activities such as real estate rental and leasing, finance, and information will be protected. Sectors with high employment and low wages and productivity such as retail, accommodation and food, and other services will be hard hit (education and health will be the main exception). To offset the impacts, fiscal demand creation by the government will be essential, with the required outlays depending on the size of the consumption drop and other shocks such as lower private investment and exports.

We begin with details about differences across sectors, and go on to the macroeconomic effects of the coronavirus epidemic on incomes and output.

Dual Economy

The shifts in the structure of production just mentioned created an American dual economy with prosperity at the top and near subsistence living at the bottom. Table 1 presents details for sixteen sectors, ordered from the higher to lower rows by decreasing estimates of payments per hour to labor (including "supplements" or contributions for pensions and insurance).

Real wages and productivity vary over wide ranges. The same is true of sectoral profits. Real estate takes the lion's share, followed by manufacturing, finance, business services, and information. Profits are meager from retail on down the rows, while output and especially employment shares are relatively high. The three sectors mentioned above -- retail, accommodation and food, and other services – provide around 46 million jobs, more than one-quarter of the 162 million total. Their labor payments amount to $263 billion, about one percent of GDP of $21 trillion. This number can be contrasted with $600 billion of profits in real estate. Incomes of low-wage workers do not matter

greatly in the grand macroeconomic scheme of things, but for them even a ten percent income loss would be devastating.

Table 1: Structure of production in 2016 Wages and output used to calculate wage rate per hour and productivity per hour are deflated by the GDP deflator (2019=100). Shares of real output are deflated based on each sector's own industry price index (2009=100).

Macroeconomic Balance

Before turning to the impacts of covid-19, it makes sense to review previous macroeconomic shocks such as the great recession and the smaller Trump tax reduction of 2018. A simple accounting scheme can be built around "net borrowing" (NB) levels of four institutional sectors – households (HH), corporate business, government at all levels, and the rest of the world.

For households and business, NB is equal to gross fixed capital formation plus changes in inventories ("investment") minus saving. For government, it is current spending on goods and services plus investment minus the excess of tax receipts over fiscal transfers to households. Broadly speaking, foreign NB is the current account surplus or exports minus imports. It is negative for the USA. In the jargon, investment, government spending, and exports are demand "injections." HH and business saving, taxes minus fiscal transfers, and imports are "leakages." Overall macroeconomic balance requires that the sum of NB levels across sectors should equal zero (subject to a "statistical discrepancy" between estimates of spending and incomes in the national accounts). Table 2 summarizes data for selected years. The "rates" are calculated with respect to the relevant year's real GDP.

Table 2: Net borrowing behavior in the USA for selected years (levels in trillions of dollars at prices of 2019, rates are relative to GDP)

Each year's "multiplier" is the inverse of the sum of the four leakage rates. The multiplier times the sum of injections equals output.

In a further illustration, Figure 1 shows annual net borrowing rates in the form of a bar chart. High net borrowing by the government in response to the financial crisis stands out. Even more striking at the far right of the diagram is the fiscal response to the consumption loss due to the coronavirus as estimated in Table 3 below.

Figure 1: Annual sectoral net borrowing (in the past and estimated for 2020)

The diagram and table show that business retained earnings usually provide the main source of saving, with resources also coming from households and negative net borrowing by the rest of the world (positive net lending to the US economy). The government is the principal net borrower, as underlined by its role in recent macroeconomic events and especially now.

Recession and the Trump Tax Cut

The 2007-09 recession was precipitated by private sector retrenchment in wake of the financial crisis. Household consumption was flat, while private investment fell by 30%. Household saving and business retained earnings went up, meaning that the overall private saving rate rose from 19% to 22%. Output rose between 2007 and 2009. It would have dropped dramatically if the net government tax-minus-transfer rate had been stable. But in fact it fell from 15% to 6% due to automatic stabilizers and the Obama stimulus package of around 5% of GDP. The overall impact was that private net borrowing fell by 10.2% of output while government borrowing went up by 8.6%. Reduction of the external deficit by 1.7% made up the difference.

In sum, the recession was not a disaster because of fiscal realignment. Causality ran from a private sector shock to automatic and discretionary government responses. It went the other way for the more modest Trump tax cut. The tax-minus-transfer rate fell from 11.6% to 10.7%, or about $185 billion. Output did go up by 2.9%, but the increase would have been greater if there had been a strong business investment boom instead of only a $320 billion increase. Lower business taxes were in large part distributed via dividends and share buybacks to households at the top of the income ladder with high saving rates.

Both episodes show that changing government net borrowing plays a key role in macroeconomic adjustment. More government spending on goods and services (unimportant in 2007-09) will also have to help absorb the covid-19 shock

Coronavirus and Consumption

The biggest immediate impact of the epidemic is loss of economic activity as businesses shut down in a "supply" shock. Unless they reopen rapidly, both payments to labor and profits will fall. Household consumption makes up almost 70% of GDP and will drop accordingly.

As an illustration, we can consider a consumption decrease over 2020 of $1.5 trillion from a 2019 level of $14.6 trillion, or 10% (a high but not unreasonable estimate). That amounts to seven percent of GDP. Because they have low or negative saving rates, households hit by loss of low-wage jobs at the bottom of the Table 1 ladder would be major contributors.

For households, saving basically equals income minus spending for consumption, (mostly) residential investment, and taxes. A decrease in consumption translates into higher saving, or in Table 3 a jump of the HH saving rate from 0.086 to 0.156. More saving means less demand creation so that output falls from 21.06 to 18.34 trillion dollars.

Table 3: Possible effects of the coronavirus shock

In a quirk of national accounting, HH net borrowing falls from -0.045 to -0.108, or net lending to the rest of the economy rises to close to 11% of GDP. Presumably the higher "lending" would take the form of paying off debt. In practice, that will not happen. The proper policy response would be a decrease in the government's tax-minus-transfer rate from 0.101 to 0.031, taking the form of a $1.5 trillion transfer to households, which could hold consumption spending and output stable over the year. Government borrowing would rise by 7% of GDP, or from $1.56 to $3.03 trillion (compare the two rightmost bars of Figure 1). This hypothetical percentage increase exceeds the actual change between 2007 and 2009 recorded in Table 2.

In other words, the only way to maintain economic activity is for the government to borrow to transfer money to households to support consumption. Ideally, a few hundred billion could be targeted specifically at the poorly paid quarter of the work force in the sectors in the lower part of Table 1, along with poor households who don't receive labor income.

There are more potential complications. Table 2 shows that private investment fell by around 30% between 2007 and 2009. Lower capital formation along with stable profits drove up retained earnings so that business net borrowing fell. Broadly similar shifts could be expected during the epidemic. Exports could decrease as well. On the other hand, increased government spending on goods and services would raise aggregate demand. In the rightmost column of Table 3, a plausible outcome would be a visible recession, despite government borrowing of 17% of GDP, or $3.4 trillion.

Reality check

The initial impact of covid-19 has been to annihilate labor income through the loss of employment. The challenge is to create demand to offset lost wages and consumer spending. The calculations herein are illustrative at best, although government net borrowing in Table 3 is close to the total outlay of stimulus packages approved by Congress. But there are further complications.

` As noted at the outset, more than three trillion dollars of new government debt is a non-trivial increase over the $22 trillion outstanding. Advocates of Modern Monetary Theory suggest that the Federal Reserve could absorb the new issues, adding to the 15% of government paper that it already holds. In the USA such an experiment is yet to be run.

The Fed has offered to intervene massively to buy up corporate debt, which would also run up its balance sheet. Nevertheless, bailouts for business will remain in political competition with transfers to households in bottom tiers of the income distribution which really need the money. The Obama stimulus directed less than half its outlays toward households. There could be better targeting under present circumstances.

Table 1 suggests that profits in some sectors could be taxed to help offset transfers. Real estate, finance, and information jump to attention.

Timing matters. GDP over one year is the reference frame for Table 3. If, as is likely, job losses and demand decreases are not offset over a shorter period, the effects on economic activity could be devastating.

Finally, immediate direct action is needed to overcome supply shortfalls for vast amounts of new medical and caretaker services, not to mention production of personal protective gear for caregivers.

Support from INET and help from Özlem Ömer are gratefully acknowledged.

Another Scott , March 27, 2020 at 7:13 am

One issue I take with this article is that it often classifies money as going to either labor or profits. There is a third category – suppliers. In my experience payments to suppliers has dried up since the beginning of the coronavirus shutdown. Whether because AP and AR aren't considered essential functions, because businesses, even essential businesses, don't have enough cash to pay employees and suppliers, or because they simply don't want to pay supplier. This is creating a cash crunch for businesses, who are cutting down on discretionary activities like advertising and even turning away new sales out of fears new customers won't pay. I have not seen any analysis on the impact of the loss of trade credit.

Jesper , March 27, 2020 at 8:38 am

The importance of trade-credit has been ignored for decades. I had hopes that one positive effect of the ultra-low interest-rates would have been that large customers would stop paying their suppliers so late. It hasn't happened, banks love it as they force the small suppliers to go to the bank and borrow money at high(er) interest-rate and the money lent out by banks would be the low(er) interest-rate provided by the customer.
There is a risk now that the supply-chains freeze completely due to suppliers not being paid and suppliers then stopping supply – either voluntaritly or due to going under. It might be necessary to legislate and enforce maximum payment terms.
What might possibly be happening is more and better automation of the AP/AR-functions. The current automation is often so bad that it increases employment instead of what might be the intended reduction of employment, the next automation (done by skilled professionals, not like now by when it is often done talkers) might (in my opinion very likely) permanently reduce employment.

Grayce , March 27, 2020 at 11:49 am

Aren't suppliers also the likeliest creditors to lose out in a Chapter 11 bankruptcy? Time to write to legislators for nuance in the regs.

notabanktoadie , March 27, 2020 at 2:36 pm


Now maybe I'm blind but I see no definition of those abbreviations.

Have a little mercy on laymen, please?

Jesper , March 27, 2020 at 2:51 pm

AP=Accounts Payable
AR=Accounts Receivable (most senior executives might not know they have AR, they believe they only have cash-collectors .)

notabanktoadie , March 27, 2020 at 3:25 pm

Thanks, those definitions also just occurred to me on my walk to the grocery store.

It's amazing how the mind works – if I'll just give it time.

But more accurately, in my considered opinion and experience, is this:

Lamentations 3:25-26

Vag , March 27, 2020 at 3:08 pm

accounts payable, accounts receivable

notabanktoadie , March 27, 2020 at 3:27 pm

Thanks to you also; no businessman I, except as a paper boy in High School.

jackiebass , March 27, 2020 at 8:25 am

This has been the M.O. forever and will continue to be the M.O. Te rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

[Mar 28, 2020] Contrary to free-market catechism, the pursuit of profit frequently runs contrary to the public's well-being

Mar 28, 2020 |

obwandiyag , says: Show Comment March 27, 2020 at 5:32 pm GMT

"Contrary to free-market catechism, the pursuit of profit frequently runs contrary to the public's well-being. This is especially true in an industry devoted to inventing and manufacturing health-giving and life-saving drugs."

The free market is for chumps and the parasties who feed on them.

[Mar 28, 2020] On disappearance of certain drugs

Highly recommended!
Mar 28, 2020 |

obwandiyag , says: Show Comment March 26, 2020 at 9:03 pm GMT

They have every right to suppress cures and raise prices.

It's the free market. Don't you people get it?

Realist , says: Show Comment March 27, 2020 at 11:51 am GMT

They have every right to suppress cures and raise prices.

It's the free market. Don't you people get it?

Sadly that's what the free market means to the wealthy and powerful.

Oracle , says: Show Comment March 27, 2020 at 2:43 pm GMT
More activity on the dark, unethical side of capitalism. There's an entire history of it, opium wars, Atlantic slave trade, pornography, control of political agents through pedophilia. The list does go on and strangely enough it's usually the same actors.

[Mar 28, 2020] Just imagine the French hoity toity now not having to put up with the yellow vests in the streets. Must be such a comforting relief.

Mar 28, 2020 |

Old and Grumpy , says: Show Comment

[Mar 28, 2020] One common flavour of modern idiotism: I've heard doctors and pharmacists complain that patients will get offended when prescribed a cheaper, older drug. They want the best and newest, they need and deserve it!

Highly recommended!
Mar 28, 2020 |

Redneck farmer , says: Show Comment March 27, 2020 at 10:09 am GMT

There is also a tendency to think newer=better. I've heard doctors and pharmacists complain that patients will get offended when prescribed a cheaper, older drug. They want the best and newest, they need and deserve it!
Jake , says: Show Comment March 27, 2020 at 11:42 am GMT
@Redneck farmer That is because advertising works. Drug companies being allowed to advertise guaranteed that predators, such as the Sacklers, would want to own drug companies.
Oracle , says: Show Comment March 27, 2020 at 2:43 pm GMT
More activity on the dark, unethical side of capitalism. There's an entire history of it, opium wars, Atlantic slave trade, pornography, control of political agents through pedophilia. The list does go on and strangely enough it's usually the same actors.

[Mar 28, 2020] Investors should brace for another market dive

Mar 28, 2020 |

At the height of the market turmoil during the previous financial crisis, a Federal Reserve Bank of New York official confidently told me they would keep throwing stuff at the wall until something stuck.

This week the US central bank ran some moves from its 2008 playbook -- and then went far beyond it. Adding to the open-ended buying of US government bonds, the Fed will load up on investment-grade corporate debt for the first time.

[Mar 27, 2020] We have to beg for hand sanitizer? It's almost like we are one of the nations under strct USA sanction

Mar 27, 2020 |

karlof1 , Mar 26 2020 23:56 utc | 90

Just one of many important anecdotal observations :

"We have to beg for hand sanitizer? It's almost like we are one of the nations we sanction."

[Mar 27, 2020] Exactly when did behaviour of neoliberals become a bunch of out-takes from Catch-22?"

Mar 27, 2020 |

bevin , Mar 27 2020 1:17 utc | 98

Here's a story from today's Toronto Star. It's a neoliberalism story and goes well with Pepe Escobar's piece in Asia Times (see above for link)
Basically the Province of Ontario stockpiled everything need for the pandemic that SARs warned them was bound to come.

Then, a couple of years ago, they destroyed the stockpiles including 55 million facemasks.

Now there are no face masks to be found and medical staff, inter alia, are having to take totally unnecessary risks.

Why did this happen? Because neo-liberalism is all about profits and fiscal austerity: as soon as the masks got beyond their 'best before' date they were destroyed - so the manufacturers could have another bite at the cherry and sell another 55 million masks. But then, austerity, the need to finance tax cuts for the wealthy, stepped in so the orders were not renewed. And people will die, horrible deaths, as a result.

[Mar 27, 2020] Looks like the USA and the Soviet Union traded jerseys after the wall fell.

Mar 27, 2020 |

steve , Mar 26 2020 22:46 utc | 75

For me the USA and the Soviet Union traded jerseys after the wall fell. The USA took victory way to seriously.

[Mar 27, 2020] Larry Summers should have a drink named after him

Mar 27, 2020 |

uncle tungsten , Mar 26 2020 19:46 utc | 22

karlof1 #10

Larry Summers should have a drink named after him.
Ofshore double hoarder
Safebreaker with tonic
Gin and plunder scammer

Thanks b,I bought last roll of narrow elastic yesterday and will cut up some old silk shirts today.

[Mar 27, 2020] Trump's about as innocent in the coronavirus fiasco as jack the ripper

Mar 27, 2020 |

Miss Lacy , Mar 26 2020 20:32 utc | 35

PS to vk # 1. Please think again. Trump has been in a trade war with China for what? a couple of years? AND, he specifically banned imports of medical supplies from China. Other posters wave supplied links for this idiocy.

Trump's about as innocent as jack the ripper. You may just be seeing things relatively, as ghouls like Elliot Abrahms and disgusting Pomposity make Trump seen like an amateur.

[Mar 27, 2020] How coronavirus epidemics crushed neoliberal globalism: Now Germany one of the citadels of neoliberals in Europe prohibited export of ventilators to other countries

Mar 27, 2020 |

augusto , Mar 26 2020 20:46 utc | 41

We know how the USofA has been over last months now harassing, blackmailing an' threatening other countries NOT to adopt the chinese HUawei 5G technologies.
Many nations were threatened, UK, Berlin, Brazil etc

Now Germany the first vassal of the Empire, 'primus inter pares' has seemingly prohibited the exportation of breathers to other countries - who of course need them most.

So what is globalism after all.

A nice idea the rich sell the morons, and tamed nations of the world. But which gets zeroed as soon as their main interests are menaced.

[Mar 27, 2020] Origins of the USA finacilization drive

Mar 27, 2020 |

Prof K , Mar 26 2020 19:57 utc | 25

The financialization of the US economy has deep roots, going back to the postwar boom, during which western Europe and Japan began to outcompete US firms in world trade. By the mid 60s the US was running trade deficits with west Germany and Japan. As a result, US dollars began accumulating in central banks globally, with no purpose. When foreign governments began to exchange their dollars for gold under the bretton woods agreement, Nixon abrogated the system of fixed currencies backed by gold and refused to negotiate a new international monetary system. A new structure of economic relations emerged: the US would slowly deindustrialize because of a lack of competitiveness, it would run systematic trade deficits, but other countries would lend their dollars back to Wall Street as well as to the Treasury Department to fund the US federal deficit. This allowed financialization to take off.
The key point is that financialization is rooted in long-term dynamics of declining American competitiveness vis a vis its principal rivals.
Some people have take a short term view of this process, believing it gives the US structural power in the world system.
Over time, though, it has lead to structural economic weaknesses, grotesque inequality, unpayable debt, and endless crises.

thiamin , Mar 26 2020 20:03 utc | 27

I dont blame Trump either. Of course they would bail out the financial market: that is all america has left. The financial crowd since the Clinton era have been selling out everyone to get rich. Now all they have left are the bail outs. Even their military is useless because they cannot destroy china without hurting their american corporations that they keep propping up. Poor bastards.
vk , Mar 26 2020 21:34 utc | 58
This information is crucial and makes my hypothesis that the USA is "financializing" even stronger:

Figures for US corporate profits in Q4 and for 2019

Overall corporate profits rose 2.2% year over year in Q4, but ended up exactly flat for the whole of 2019. Most important, non-financial sector profits were down 2.1% year over year in Q4 and down 3.1% in 2019 as a whole compared to 2018.

This shows that the US corporate sector was already in a profits slump before the virus broke. Q1 2020 data should be revealing.

The trend in domestic non-financial corporate profits has been downwards for some time. These profits at end 2019 were 21% below the level at the end of 2014.

In other words, the USA is managing to save its financial sector, but not its "real economy". The USG moved mountains to keep profitability of the financial sector stable in 2019Q4, but the "real economy" (non-financial sector) fell almost at the same magnitude as the financial sector's grew (-2.1%).

And this is not a punctual event: the American non-financial sector had a 21% lower profit rate than it had in 2014 - and 2014 is still the post-crisis era, so they were not good profits either.

If this trend continues, we should expect a long-term continuity of the deindustrialization of the USA, increased militarization (so as to keep the USD standard), and the domination of the so-called "gig jobs", where the working class is essentially reduced to a "quick bucks", "pay to play" labor force.

[Mar 26, 2020] COVID-19 and Class in the United States by Lambert Strether

Notable quotes:
"... Today supermarkets are playing a ground-zero role in our struggle to adapt to restrictions imposed by COVID-19. And grocery workers are bearing much of the the brunt of our anxiety and frustration, as we [who?] descend on depleted stores. ..."
Mar 26, 2020 |

"They were careless people, Tom and Daisy- they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made. -- F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

In the United States, #COVID-19 began with globalization and globalizers. One thing we can be of is that grovery workers -- to whom the virus will "trickle down" soon enough -- didn't create the conditions for it, or introduce it. Let's take a look at the grocery workers before dollying back to the global. From the Los Angeles Times, " Column: How coronavirus turned supermarket workers into heroes ":

Today supermarkets are playing a ground-zero role in our struggle to adapt to restrictions imposed by COVID-19. And grocery workers are bearing much of the the brunt of our anxiety and frustration, as we [who?] descend on depleted stores.

Without masks or barriers, employees are working long hours, risking infection and battling exhaustion to do their jobs. They connect us to material essentials, like bread and toilet paper. But they're also part of the social fabric that holds us together in unsettling times.

That friendly chat with the guy restocking the egg case this morning might be my only social interaction on this shelter-at-home day. And I feel better whenever I see my favorite cashier at her register. There's something reassuring about the familiar in a world where everything has changed.

Markets are about the only place we're still allowed to gather en masse. And their employees -- pressed into service in ways they never expected -- are our new first responders. They're apt to see us at our worst, and they aim to ease our strain.

"They're dealing with a public that's fearful, apprehensive and frustrated, and it gets hostile," [said John Grant, a former meatpacker who is president of the union that represents grocery employees in Southern California]. "This wasn't what they signed up for, but they realize it's their responsibility. They've cursed how vulnerable they are, and yet they keep going out of their profound dedication to their communities."

Funny thing. The people who "connect us to material essentials" are suddenly more important than Senators and Represenatives (who can fly home), or all the MBAs in the head office, or the CEOs. Heaven forfend they collectively decided to withdraw their labor!

"Vulnerable" as the grocery workers are, they didn't bring #COVID19 on themselves or us. First, I'll look at how globalization made the "material essentials" to deal with #COVID19 so hard to obtain. Then, I'll look at how globalizers were vectors for the diseases spread.


The story of how the United States 1% deindustrialized American by moving our manufacturing base offshore (mostly to China) is well known and I will not rehearse it here. From the New York Times, " How the World's Richest Country Ran Out of a 75-Cent Face Mask ":

The answer to why we're running out of protective gear involves a very American set of capitalist pathologies -- the rise and inevitable lure of low-cost overseas manufacturing, and a strategic failure, at the national level and in the health care industry, to consider seriously the cascading vulnerabilities that flowed from the incentives to reduce costs.

(By "reduce costs," of course, we mean "increase profits.") The shortage of masks has been the dominant narrative, but we don't make anything . If masks had not been "the long pole in the tent," as project managers say, something else would have been or will be: ventilators , gloves , nasal swabs for testing, extraction kits and pipettes , reagents , whatever. The real issue is not a shortage of this or that material essential, but a forty-year policy of globalization, supported by the ruling class as a whole, that has led to a shortage of all material essentials (and that's not even taking austerity and the general gutting of public services into account). I have altered the famous "flattening the curve" chart (here with "dotted line to show capacity") to show the effect"

Lack of "material essentials" reduces our capacity ("How many very sick people hospitals can treat"); it pushes the dotted line down. So we either have to flatten the curve further than we would otherwise have to do, or we don't, and lose lives. Thank you, globalization! And with that, let's turn to the globalizers.


By globalizers, I mean the 1% on down, plus the PMC (Professional Manager Class) who own and manage our globalized system. One effect of globalization has been the vast expansion of air transport and international travel, so that globalizers can do their jobs. And tha t's how SARS-COV-2 was brought to the United States :

The man who would become Patient Zero for the new coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. appeared to do everything right. He arrived Jan. 19 at an urgent-care clinic in a suburb north of Seattle with a slightly elevated temperature and a cough he'd developed soon after returning four days earlier from a visit with family in Wuhan, China.

(I'm not blaming any individual; I travel internationally myself, and there are many good reasons to do it. But international air travel was the vector that brought the virus to the United States. That is the system. I'm assuming Patient Zero travelled for professional reasons, since Wuhan is an unlikely tourist destination.)

We can make a highly suggestive correlation between globalizers and COVID-19 if we look at two simple maps. First, as is well known , one of the main distinctions between the places that are " optimistic, diverse, dynamic, moving forward " (i.e., globalizers) and the dull provincials in flyover is the possession of passports. (A passport is a likely marker for the sort of person who asks "Why don't they just leave?"; "front-row kids," in Chris Arnade's parlance, as distinguished from, say, grocery workers, who he calls "back-row" kids.) Here is a map of passport ownership by state:

And here is a map of COVID-19 outbreaks:

The correlation is rather neat, don't you think? It makes sense that the first case was in a globalist, passport-owning city like Seattle on the West Coast; and it makes sense that the world capital of globalization, passport-owning New York City, now has a major outbreak.

Oh, and the ability to travel by air correlates to income (a proxy for class):

If one hypothesizes, as I am doing, that COVID-19 will trickle from globalizers downward, we might ask ourselves how that will happen. One answer, of course, is social interaction between the globalizers themselves. The New York Times describes " Party Zero: How a Soirée in Connecticut Became a 'Super Spreader ':"

About 50 guests gathered on March 5 at a home in the stately suburb of Westport, Conn., to toast the hostess on her 40th birthday and greet old friends, including one visiting from South Africa. They shared reminiscences, a lavish buffet and, unknown to anyone, the coronavirus.

Then they scattered.

The Westport soirée -- Party Zero in southwestern Connecticut and beyond -- is a story of how, in the Gilded Age of money, social connectedness and air travel, a pandemic has spread at lightning speed. The partygoers -- more than half of whom are now infected -- left that evening for Johannesburg, New York City and other parts of Connecticut and the United States, all seeding infections on the way.

Westport, a town of 28,000 on the Long Island Sound, did not have a single known case of the coronavirus on the day of the party. It had 85 on Monday, up more than 40-fold in 11 days.

It is the globalizers' ability to "scatter," in other words -- both internationally and domestically -- that made them such effective vectors. The Westport hot-spot was innocent, since nobody knew enough about COVID-19. Other examples are not innocent at all, where globalizers infect all those around them by trying to escape the disease. The Hamptons example is famous. From the New York Post, " 'We should blow up the bridges' -- coronavirus leads to class warfare in Hamptons ":

Every aspect of life, most crucially medical care, is under strain from the sudden influx of rich Manhattanites panic-fleeing, bringing along their disdain and disregard for the little people -- and in some cases, knowingly bringing coronavirus.

The Springs resident says her friend, a nurse out here, reported that a wealthy Manhattan woman who tested positive called tiny Southampton Hospital to say she was on her way and needed treatment.

The woman was told to stay in Manhattan.

Instead, she allegedly got on public transportation, telling no one of her condition. Then she showed up at Southampton Hospital, demanding admittance.

"Someone else took a private jet to East Hampton and did not tell anybody 'til he landed," the resident says. "That's the most horrendous aspect. The virus is already here, and we don't have any medical resources."

Everybody loves a "rich people behaving badly" story, but here's a second one. From the Los Angeles Times, " Some of Mexico's wealthiest residents went to Colorado to ski. They brought home coronavirus ":

The frantic effort to find the ski trip participants has highlighted an uncomfortable fact: It is people wealthy enough to travel outside the country who have brought the coronavirus back to mostly poor Mexico. Yet if the disease spreads, it is those with the least who will probably suffer the most.

"The virus is imported by people with the economic capacity to travel," wrote actor Tenoch Huerta on Twitter. "Those who ask that everything be closed and all economic activity stop, hurting the people who live day-to-day, why didn't they voluntarily isolate for three weeks so as not to spread it? Or should only the poor be responsible?"

The same dynamic can be inferred in Blaine Country, Idaho, home of ski resort Sun Valley :

Idaho has 123 confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to the state's coronavirus website. That includes 37 in Ada County and eight in Canyon County. Blaine County, where Sun Valley is located, has the most confirmed cases at 52. Idaho's first case was reported 12 days ago, in Ada County. The number of people tested in the state is now up to 2,188.

(Many of the cases around the state came from travel to Blaine County.)

Finally, Berkshire County, MA:

In my home area of Berkshire County, MA, the superrich from the city who own second homes have come up en masse, buying up all the food and refusing to quarantine. The latter means they will overwhelm an already insufficient healthcare system.

-- Eoin Higgins (@EoinHiggins_) March 25, 2020


Of course, this rough-and-ready, anecdotal analysis is no substitute for formal, scientific contact tracing. But I don't think, at this point, we will ever be able trace the original outbreaks. And I didn't see anybody else making this argument, so I thought I'd throw it against the wall and see if it sticks. All I can say is that when I think of the grocery workers -- and all the workers -- in the Hamptons, Mexico, Idaho, and Massachusetts having COVID-19 brought to them, I become very ticked off. For pity's sake, at least can we practice social distancing by traveling only when it's essential?

[Mar 26, 2020] The face of Trump in foreign policy is Pompeo and it is wicked, ungly face of a gangster

Yet another Gofgather
Notable quotes:
"... The more I watch these moves by Pompeo the more sympathetic I become to the most sinister theories about COVID-19, its origins and its launch around the world. Read Pepe Escobar's latest to get an idea of how dark and twisted this tale could be . ..."
March 24, 2020 < Older
No Respite for the Wicked, Pompeo Unleashed Written by Tom Luongo Tuesday

There are few things in this life that make me more sick to my stomach than watching Secretary of State Mike Pompeo talking. He truly is one of the evilest men I've ever had the displeasure of covering.

Into the insanity of the over-reaction to the COVID-19 outbreak, Pompeo wasted no time ramping up sanctions on firms doing any business with Iran, one of the countries worse-hit by this virus to date.

It's a seemingly endless refrain, everyday, more sanctions on Chinese, Swiss and South African firms for having the temerity in these deflating times to buy oil from someone Pompeo and his gang of heartless psychopaths disapprove of.

This goes far beyond just the oil industry. Even though I'm well aware that Russia's crashing the price of oil was itself a hybrid war attack on US capital markets. One that has had, to date, devastating effect.

While Pompeo mouths the words publicly that humanitarian aid is exempted from sanctions on Iran, the US is pursuing immense pressure on companies to not do so anyway while the State Dept. bureaucracy takes its sweet time processing waiver applications.

Pompeo and his ilk only think in terms of civilizational warfare. They have become so subsumed by their big war for the moral high ground to prove American exceptionalism that they have lost any shred of humanity they may have ever had.

Because for Pompeo in times like these to stick to his talking points and for his office to continue excising Iran from the global economy when we're supposed to be coming together to fight a global pandemic is the height of soullessness.

And it speaks to the much bigger problem that infects all of our political thinking. There comes a moment when politics and gaining political advantage have to take a back seat to doing the right thing.

I've actually seen moments of that impulse from the Democratic leadership in the US Will wonders never cease?!

Thinking only in Manichean terms of good vs. evil and dehumanizing your opponents is actually costlier than reversing course right now. Because honey is always better at attracting flies than vinegar.

But, unfortunately, that is not the character of the Trump administration.

It can only think in terms of direct leverage and opportunity to hold onto what they think they've achieved. So, until President Trump is no longer consumed with coordinating efforts to control COVID-19 Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper are in charge of foreign policy. They will continue the playbook that has been well established.

Maximum pressure on Iran, hurt China any way they can, hold onto what they have in Syria, stay in Iraq.

To that end Iraqi President Barham Salei nominated Pompeo's best choice to replace Prime Minister Adil Abdel Mahdi to throw Iraq's future into complete turmoil. According to Elijah Magnier, Adnan al-Zarfi is a US asset through and through .

And this looks like Pompeo's Hail Mary to retain US legal presence in Iraq after the Iraqi parliament adopted a measure to demand withdrawal of US troops from the country. Airstrikes against US bases in Iraq continue on a near daily basis and there have been reports of US base closures and redeployments at the same time.

This move looks like desperation by Pompeo to finally separate the Hashd al-Shaabi from Iraq's official military. So that airstrikes against them can be carried out under the definition of 'fighting Iranian terrorism.'

As Magnier points out in the article above if al-Zarfi puts a government together the war in Iraq will expand just as the US is losing further control in Syria after Turkish President Erdogan's disastrous attempt to remake the front in Idlib. That ended with his effective surrender to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The more I watch these moves by Pompeo the more sympathetic I become to the most sinister theories about COVID-19, its origins and its launch around the world. Read Pepe Escobar's latest to get an idea of how dark and twisted this tale could be .

It is sad that, to me, I see no reason to doubt Pompeo and his ilk in the US government wouldn't do something like that to spark political and social upheaval in those places most targeted by US hybrid war tactics.

But, at the same time, I can see the other side of it, a vicious strike back by China against its tormentors. And China's government does itself, in my mind, no favors threatening to withhold drug precursors and having officials run their mouths giving Americans the excuse they need to validate Trump and Pompeo's divisive rhetoric.

Remaining on the fence about this issue isn't my normal style. But everyone is dirty here and the reality may well be this is a natural event terrible people on both sides are exploiting.

And I can only go by what people do rather than what they say to assess the situation. Trump tries to buy exclusive right to a potential COVID-19 vaccine from a German firm and his administration slow-walks aid to Iran.

China sends aid to Iran and Italy by the container full. Is that to salve their conscience over its initial suppression of information about the virus? Good question. But no one covers themselves in glory by using the confusion and distraction to attempt further regime change and step up war-footing during a public health crisis, manufactured or otherwise.

While Pompeo unctuously talks the talk of compassion and charity, he cannot bring himself to actually walk the walk. Because he is a despicable, bile-filled man of uncommon depravity. His prosecuting a hybrid war during a public health crisis speaks to no other conclusion about him.

It's clear to me that nothing has changed at the top of Trump's administration. I expect COVID-19 will not be a disaster for Trump and the US. It can handle this. But the lack of humanity shown by its diplomatic corps ensures that in the long run the US will be left to fend for itself when the next crisis hits.

Reprinted with permission from Strategic Culture Foundation .


[Mar 25, 2020] Goldman Gives CEO 20% Raise - While Forecasting Major Coronavirus-caused Financial Crash for Americans

Mar 25, 2020 |

Boiling frogss , says: Show Comment March 25, 2020 at 1:46 pm GMT

Goldman Gives CEO 20% Raise-

While Forecasting Major CoronaVirus-Caused Financial Crash for Americans

[Mar 25, 2020] Rumour in the markets has it WHO held out as long as possible to avoid triggering the provisions of World Bank Pandemic Bonds

This is clearly corruption...
Mar 25, 2020 |

The Alarmist , says: Show Comment March 25, 2020 at 10:42 am GMT

@Oddly Enough

The WHO declared a pandemic 50 days later on March 11th.

Rumour in the markets has it WHO held out as long as possible to avoid triggering the provisions of World Bank Pandemic Bonds, for which investors enjoyed relatively high coupon rates in the current low interest-rate environment in exchange for running the risk of losing their principal investment if a pandemic was declared in the window period.

[Mar 25, 2020] By blockading health care products, most proably the same people who have caused all this, may seek that public health care collapsing gives a bad impression so as to get them privatized once the country in depression.

Mar 25, 2020 |

H.Schmatz , Mar 24 2020 23:57 utc | 112

Six million protection masks for Germany disappeared at the Kenya airport. They were valued at a million dollars. Theft is suspected or that the manufacturer (Belgium) decided to destroy them. Nothing is accidental in disaster capitalism.

I wonder whether those who seak war at all costs, are now trying to get us fighting for masks and ventilators....

Seeing the comments at SST on the necessities of NYC major, it seesm to me that the same people who seeks always confrontation is always ready to start a fight with its nationals for whatever reason....

In Spain, as I am seeing, even counting with the inability and greed of those at the helms, it seems to me that a "USSR 1990" effect on dissapearing health care items from the market to then make them appear at multiple times their price could be happening right now...

By blockading health care products, most proably the same people who have caused all this, may seek that public health care collapsing gives a bad impression so as to get them privatized once the country in depression.

[Mar 25, 2020] So if you are talking about people in SE Asia and the West hating Chinese for their behaviour, exemplified by the behaviour of Amy Chua to her own daughters and of her family to its Filipino servants, and the behaviour of people in Hong Kong and Singapore with their status-seeking and selfish materialist values, and their adherence to extreme Protestant Christian beliefs, bear in mind where they learned their lessons.

Mar 25, 2020 |

Moa , Mar 25 2020 0:43 utc | 120

Jen, yes, I am very familiar with the program as I have an acquaintance who helps usher in very wealthy Chinese into Canada for a hefty fee.

That doesn't change the fact the Chinese are hated everywhere they go. This is very well documented in the book entitled World on Fire, by a Chinese American author Amy Chua who also wrote the book Hymn of the Dragon Mother.

She brags about how she pushes her children to achieve more in the second book.

In the first, she explains how her Chinese aunt was murdered by their Filipino servants because the servants were badly treated. Now, you can tell me if the two have any relation to each other.

Apart from TCM which the Chinese got from the Indians and developed, the entire Chinese civilization needs to be scrapped and started over.

Jen , Mar 25 2020 1:27 utc | 122

Moa @ 120:

The Chinese "scrapped" their civilisation starting in the 1950s. By then it was on its last legs anyway, after over 100 years of degradation from mass opium addiction brought by the British, followed by decades of foreign interference and the consequences of that interference: a messianic cult culminating in the Taiping rebellion in the 1860s and then the Boxer Rebellion at the turn of the 20th century, among other things.

Amy Chua is just one person whose mother's family came from Fujian province in SE China and settled in the Philippines, along with several other families from that part of China. (Former Philippines President Corazon Aquino also had family from Fujian.) People living in Fujian and Guangdong (the old Canton province) were exposed to more Western / European influences than other parts of China. Fujian and Guangdong are also the areas where most overseas Chinese communities living in SE Asia and the West, up to the 1980s, hailed from.

So if you are talking about people in SE Asia and the West hating Chinese for their behaviour, exemplified by the behaviour of Amy Chua to her own daughters and of her family to its Filipino servants, and the behaviour of people in Hong Kong and Singapore with their status-seeking and selfish materialist values, and their adherence to extreme Protestant Christian beliefs, bear in mind where they learned their lessons.

I speak as one of those you damn.

[Mar 25, 2020] Senator Rand Paul wisely proposed cutting war spending to help pay for the relief package. We should go much, much farther than he proposed and slash hundreds of billions of dollars in annual military spending and instead give it directly to US Citizens here at home.

Mar 25, 2020 |

RadicalCenter , says: Show Comment March 24, 2020 at 4:22 am GMT

@Anon As for people with jobs supposedly not needing the relief checks, speak for yourself. Completely out of touch with how much tens of millions of working Americans are living and struggling, and not just the poor or minimum-wage workers by any means.

Middle-income and upper-middle-income people in many places are struggling with housing costs and medical costs above all, and their situation generally is not improving in recent years.

As a factual correction, the proposals on both sides are not for $1,000 per family; they are for $1,000 or $1,200 or more to each adult, plus $500 for each child, and I'm glad they are.

This would be a better use of taxpayer money -- or money conjured out of thin air by the federal reserve -- than most of what the fed gov has been doing. That includes the vast sums we have spent on unnecessary wars and occupations that are neither defensive nor retaliatory.

Senator Rand Paul wisely proposed cutting war spending to help pay for the relief package. We should go much, much farther than he proposed and slash hundreds of billions of dollars in annual military spending and instead give it directly to US Citizens here at home.

We should also consider placing a permanent floor under Americans, not just a fleeting relief package that ends when this virus quiets down. Very large cuts to the warfare state and the welfare-state bureaucracy alike can provide funding for a substantial monthly universal basic income for all US Citizens age 21 and over -- with less government borrowing than we have now.

Public ownership of our God-given natural resources could provide another large source of funding for the UBI -- without any government borrowing at all.

Of course, these ideas are too responsible for either Dems or Republicans to even debate. Instead, they'll do a sensible and just thing, directly helping Americans rather than big connected corporations and banks, but they'll recklessly borrow to do so.

There is a middle way and we should be negotiating it.

[Mar 25, 2020] When one of Reagan's top bureaucrats is calling for writing down the debt and nationalisation, it is obvious that neo-liberalism is dying

Mar 25, 2020 |

bevin , Mar 24 2020 19:20 utc | 38

1/ @35 And you can include Ontario in that farewell too.

2/ When one of Reagan's top bureaucrats is calling for writing down the debt and nationalisation, it is obvious that neo-liberalism is dying.

3/ Isn't chloroquine just a new name for Jesuit's (Peruvian) bark? Or quinine. The tonic in gin and tonic?

4/ Tom Paine's 1796 pamphlet 'The English System of Finance' and Cobbett's 'Paper against Gold' are coming into their own. What Disraeli called the Dutch system of finance is what is collapsing, almost 500 years after it began. That was the contradiction in globalisation, one that Rosa Luxemburg had pointed out more than a century ago: we have reached the limits of constant expansion. And not just in environmental terms.

[Mar 24, 2020] We are headed into the unknown. Like the first stages of the collapse of the soviet union.

Mar 24, 2020 |

Peter , Mar 24 2020 10:59 utc | 212

A User
Six months down the track, duopoly voting majority may perhaps be looking to do more than vote for the duopoly, but that's only a maybe. It will take a lot of hardship to pull them away from reality tv...meantime, your comment fits in here like another brick in the wall. Another pissed off human having a winge.

Doing something... seems to me a group with structure, a plan and an endgoal is required and this got out to the wider public. End goal needs to be something that would be accepted by the reality tv watching public and step by step plan to get there...
We havn't hit bottom yet, still a long way from it. Any plan will have to match the situation at the bottom and the way back. But first you gotta get two people to agree on a plan.

We are headed into the unknown. Like the first stages of the collapse of the soviet union.

Putin when asked about Gorbochov and Yeltsin he just says "everyone knew we had to change but nobody knew how to go about it."
Here is somewhat different because in the mainstream types, nobody knows we have to change.
We are likely to go through something akin to the soviet nineties and only then will the population know we need to change because the old ways failed.
Best to play it by ear until that point. Nothing can be done untill the wider population realise that all they have known has failed and a different start must be made. I doubt too many of our countries will have a Putin that can pull us out of the shit. And by a Putin, I mean somebody that has a vision acceptable to the majority and comes to be trusted by the majority and also has the nous and ability required.

[Mar 24, 2020] I got the "flu" in November 2019 and I had the same symptoms as Coronavirus - I thought it was going to kill me

Mar 24, 2020 |

Tim E. , Mar 23 2020 23:52 utc | 111

@68 - antares

I got the "flu" in November 2019 and I had the same symptoms as Coronavirus - I thought it was going to kill me - and while I missed some work - work demanded me back - and so I worked through some terrible times. Everyone at work was sick with different levels of symptoms. To this day I have still not 100% recovered - but I am poor and have no health insurance - and, well, everybody has been exposed for months so it doesn't even matter anymore. No one has died - but everyone has a low level persistent respiratory illness.

c1ue , Mar 24 2020 0:24 utc | 114

Again: if nCOV was really already in the US in November - where was the surge in hospitalizations? Regardless of age, ~20% of those who get it, get pneumonia or worse and need hospital care.

We don't even have that right now despite a huge number of cases. Maybe the US and Germany are different - we'll see in about 2 weeks.

Tim E. , Mar 24 2020 0:29 utc | 117
Again: if nCOV was really already in the US in November - where was the surge in hospitalizations?

Because most in US can't afford Hospitals or even have health insurance.

[Mar 24, 2020] Trump owns hotels and casinos which will be devastated. that might explain his position on the virus and initial downplaying of the danger

Mar 24, 2020 |

Tor597 , says: Show Comment March 22, 2020 at 3:30 pm GMT

Actually, Trump was downplaying Corona Virus as late as March 9th.

One thing I think played a role that is not mentioned is Trumps business that he owns. He owns hotels and casinos which will be devastated. Trump wont rule out government assistance for himself.

For Trump to shut down the economy and produce an effective containment, he would have had to do this knowing that his own business would be devastated.

[Mar 24, 2020] Many Italians in Northern Italy sold their leather goods and textiles companies to China. Italy then allowed 100,000 Chinese from Wuhan/Wenzhou to move to Italy to work in these factories, with direct Wuhan flights. Result: Northern Italy is Europe's hotspot for Wuhan Coronavirus

Mar 24, 2020 |

Felix Keverich , says: Show Comment March 22, 2020 at 4:37 pm GMT

@Anatoly Karlin There is apparently a large colony (100.000) of Chinese workers in Lombardy, with direct flights between Lombardy and Wuhan, so this Italian outbreak is not a coincidence.

Many Italians in Northern Italy sold their leather goods and textiles companies to China. Italy then allowed 100,000 Chinese from Wuhan/Wenzhou to move to Italy to work in these factories, with direct Wuhan flights. Result: Northern Italy is Europe's hotspot for Wuhan Coronavirus

-- George Papadopoulos (@GeorgePapa19) March 18, 2020

UK had a "herd immunity" strategy from the beginning. They made no real effort at containment. British government allowed their people to become infected, and only began to change course after public outrage.

Europe Europa , says: Show Comment March 22, 2020 at 4:48 pm GMT
@Felix Keverich The large Chinese population in Italy has been completely ignored by the media, in fact China itself seems to have been let completely off the hook. The focus is now on how terrible Britain and the native British people are.

Someone even posted a Tweet above by a Vietnamese person trying to claim that BRITAIN of all countries is responsible for the outbreak in Vietnam, I mean what kind of ridiculous logic is that? Vietnam bloody BORDERS China, the origin and epicentre of the Coronavirus outbreak, and the Vietnamese are trying to say Britain is the cause? It beggars belief.

[Mar 24, 2020] Manufacturing in cheap Third World countries and rewarding the local compradors with a permission to migrate to the West as contributing factor to the coronavirus epidemic

Mar 24, 2020 |

Beckow , says: Show Comment March 22, 2020 at 6:56 pm GMT


less globalization outside North America/Europe/Japan/Australia

You are missing the point of globalization: manufacturing in cheap Third World countries and rewarding the local compradors with a permission to migrate to the West. That's the deal, that's what globalization is.

With NA-Europe-Japan all you get is tourism and travel. I would be surprised if we can at this point convince Chinese and the other cheap labor countries to do the work and forgo the hope of migration. It was a Faustian deal and those as we know end in hell.

utu , says: Show Comment March 22, 2020 at 7:01 pm GMT
@AP Calm down, man and stop the stupid blaming game. It seems that your Banderite spin also includes bashing Chinese which, on the second thought, should not be surprising as there is only one paymaster. Perhaps you should specialize in Ukraine only and leave China to more competent haters.

Compare Canada and Italy on Chinese residents: Canada has 5 times more Chinese than Italy but 62 times less infection cases and 539 times less fatalities than Italy (as of March 16). Furthermore France and UK have more Chinese than Italy.

What about tourists: In Canada 0.75 mil Chinese tourist but in Italy 3.5 mil Chinese tourists. So it must be the tourists, right?

So compare Japan with Italy on Chinese tourists: 8.4 mil Chinese tourist in Japan vs. 3.5 mil Chinese tourists in Italy. How many cases in Japan?

So what I am trying to convey is that the expression of the epidemic in different countries is not congruent with the number of Chinese residents or Chinese tourist.

We will never know where the patients zero (yes plural, there are many patients zero) really came from. For various political reasons we will not be told and what we will be told we must be skeptical about. I found interesting data about the first infected in British Columbia that has huge rather affluent Chinese population. There were as many Iranians as non-Iranians on the list.

In British Columbia cases 1 to 5 were from China though it does not appear they infected others while cases 6, 7, , 12 and 14, 15, 19 were traced to Iran. Then the case 22 was from Iran and also case 31. Case 32 was from Italy, case 35 was from Egypt and case 37 was from Germany. So out of first 37 cases over 50% were people came form Iran, Egypt, Germany and Italy. My point is that while Canada has huge Chinese population (1.7 mil) and gets 700,000 Chinese visitors per year it does not look like China was the main vector. In BC it is Iran and Europe.

One should consider a possibility whether virus introduction to Iran and the Middle East did precede its introduction in China.

Now let's return to Italy. Most Chinese tourists go to Rome, Florence and Venice. These cities were not affected as much as Lombardy where there is not that many tourists. So we are told that Chinese workers could carry the virus. So look at Prato (in Tuscany near Florence) which has the highest density of Chinese population in Italy. Wiki lists 11,882 (6.32%) for Prato while the highest absolute number is Milan 18,918 (1.43%). The numbers are probably outdated as most likely they do not include illegal residents.

On March 11 Italy had 12,246 cases.

So I checked what Prato had on March 11:
Coronavirus, casi triplicati a Prato: è il giorno più nero

"In a single day the positive cases of coronavirus in the province of Prato have tripled: from 7 to 21 . It is the darkest day since the outbreak began. According to what was announced in the afternoon of today, March 11, by the bulletin of the regional council "

"Therefore, 314 patients are currently positive in Tuscany. This is the subdivision by signaling areas: 71 Florence, 32 Pistoia, 21 Prato (total Asl center: 124), 43 Lucca, 40 Massa Carrara, 34 Pisa, 16 Livorno (total North West Asl: 133), 12 Grosseto, 37 Siena , 14 Arezzo (total Asl southeast: 63)."

So clearly the 2nd largest Chinese community in Italy (and first in density) with 21 cases (out of 12,246 cases in Italy) did not contribute a lot to the corona virus outbreak in Italy.

utu , says: Show Comment March 22, 2020 at 7:01 pm GMT
@AP Calm down, man and stop the stupid blaming game. It seems that your Banderite spin also includes bashing Chinese which, on the second thought, should not be surprising as there is only one paymaster. Perhaps you should specialize in Ukraine only and leave China to more competent haters.

Compare Canada and Italy on Chinese residents: Canada has 5 times more Chinese than Italy but 62 times less infection cases and 539 times less fatalities than Italy (as of March 16). Furthermore France and UK have more Chinese than Italy.

What about tourists: In Canada 0.75 mil Chinese tourist but in Italy 3.5 mil Chinese tourists. So it must be the tourists, right?

So compare Japan with Italy on Chinese tourists: 8.4 mil Chinese tourist in Japan vs. 3.5 mil Chinese tourists in Italy. How many cases in Japan?

So what I am trying to convey is that the expression of the epidemic in different countries is not congruent with the number of Chinese residents or Chinese tourist.

We will never know where the patients zero (yes plural, there are many patients zero) really came from. For various political reasons we will not be told and what we will be told we must be skeptical about. I found interesting data about the first infected in British Columbia that has huge rather affluent Chinese population. There were as many Iranians as non-Iranians on the list.

In British Columbia cases 1 to 5 were from China though it does not appear they infected others while cases 6, 7, , 12 and 14, 15, 19 were traced to Iran. Then the case 22 was from Iran and also case 31. Case 32 was from Italy, case 35 was from Egypt and case 37 was from Germany. So out of first 37 cases over 50% were people came form Iran, Egypt, Germany and Italy. My point is that while Canada has huge Chinese population (1.7 mil) and gets 700,000 Chinese visitors per year it does not look like China was the main vector. In BC it is Iran and Europe.

One should consider a possibility whether virus introduction to Iran and the Middle East did precede its introduction in China.

Now let's return to Italy. Most Chinese tourists go to Rome, Florence and Venice. These cities were not affected as much as Lombardy where there is not that many tourists. So we are told that Chinese workers could carry the virus. So look at Prato (in Tuscany near Florence) which has the highest density of Chinese population in Italy. Wiki lists 11,882 (6.32%) for Prato while the highest absolute number is Milan 18,918 (1.43%). The numbers are probably outdated as most likely they do not include illegal residents.

On March 11 Italy had 12,246 cases.

So I checked what Prato had on March 11:
Coronavirus, casi triplicati a Prato: è il giorno più nero

"In a single day the positive cases of coronavirus in the province of Prato have tripled: from 7 to 21 . It is the darkest day since the outbreak began. According to what was announced in the afternoon of today, March 11, by the bulletin of the regional council "

"Therefore, 314 patients are currently positive in Tuscany. This is the subdivision by signaling areas: 71 Florence, 32 Pistoia, 21 Prato (total Asl center: 124), 43 Lucca, 40 Massa Carrara, 34 Pisa, 16 Livorno (total North West Asl: 133), 12 Grosseto, 37 Siena , 14 Arezzo (total Asl southeast: 63)."

So clearly the 2nd largest Chinese community in Italy (and first in density) with 21 cases (out of 12,246 cases in Italy) did not contribute a lot to the corona virus outbreak in Italy.

Daniel Chieh , says: Show Comment March 22, 2020 at 7:10 pm GMT

If this started in the USA and spread elsewhere the world would have good cause to condemn the USA and to judge any subsequent efforts by Americans to help others as "the least they could do."

Chinese shipments of medical goods are actually to the risk of the own population, where hospitals are still recovering. While in some ways it is a blatant PR play, its quite a significant cost amd self-risk that goes beyond "the least they could do."

[Mar 24, 2020] Actual morality reinforces social solidarity, which is why our neoliberal overlords have been attempting to destroy it for so long.

Mar 24, 2020 |

Dutch Boy , says: Show Comment March 23, 2020 at 3:59 pm GMT

Actual morality reinforces social solidarity, which is why our overlords have been attempting to destroy it for so long. Social solidarity is the key to overcoming crises in general and not just the present Covid 19 pandemic.

[Mar 24, 2020] Welcome to Sweatshop Amerika! by Mike Whitney

Mar 24, 2020 |

The Unz Review: An Alternative Media Selection A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media User Settings: Version? Social Media? Read Aloud w/ Show Word Counts No Video Autoplay No Infinite Scrolling
Save Cancel

← The Fed Reopens Its Landfill for Distre... Blogview Mike Whitney Archive Blogview Mike Whitney Archive Welcome to Sweatshop Amerika! The next bailout will be our last Mike Whitney March 22, 2020 1,400 Words 75 Comments Reply Listen ॥ ■ ► RSS Email This Page to Someone
Remember My Information

=> List of Bookmarks ► ◄ ► ▲ Remove from Library B Show Comment Next New Comment Next New Reply Read More Reply Agree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
AgreeDisagreeThanksLOLTroll These buttons register your public Agreement, Disagreement, Thanks, LOL, or Troll with the selected comment. They are ONLY available to recent, frequent commenters who have saved their Name+Email using the 'Remember My Information' checkbox, and may also ONLY be used three times during any eight hour period. Email Comment Ignore Commenter Follow Commenter Add to Library Toggle All
Bookmark ToC ▲ ▼ Search Text Case Sensitive Exact Words Include Comments Search Clear Cancel

Imagine if the congress approved a measure to form a public-private partnership between the US Treasury and the Federal Reserve. Can you imagine that?

Now imagine if a panicky and ill-informed Congress gave the Fed a blank check to bail out all of its crooked crony corporate and Wall Street friends, allowing the Fed to provide more than $4.5 trillion to underwater corporations that ripped off Mom and Pop investors by selling them bonds that were used to goose their stock prices so fatcat CEOs could make off like bandits. Imagine if all that red ink from private actors was piled onto the national debt pushing long-term interest rates into the stratosphere while crushing small businesses, households and ordinary working people.

Now try to imagine the impact this would have on the nation's future. Imagine if the Central Bank was given the green-light to devour the Treasury, control the country's "purse strings", and use nation's taxing authority to shore up its trillions in ultra-risky leveraged bets, its opaque financially-engineered ponzi-instruments, and its massive speculative debts that have gone pear-shaped leaving a gaping black hole on its balance sheet?

Well, you won't have to imagine this scenario for much longer, because the reality is nearly at hand. You see, the traitorous, dumbshit nincompoops in Congress are just a hairs-breadth away from abdicating congress's crucial power of the purse, which is not only their greatest strength, but also allows the congress to reign in abuses of executive power by controlling the flow of funding. The power of the purse is the supreme power of government which is why the founders entrusted it to the people's elected representatives in congress. Now these imbeciles are deciding whether to hand over that authority to a privately-owned banking cartel that has greatly expanded the chasm between rich and poor, incentivized destructive speculation on an industrial scale, and repeatedly inflated behemoth asset-price bubbles that have inevitably blown up sending stocks and the real economy into freefall. The idea of merging the Fed and the Treasury first appeared in its raw form in an article by former Fed chairman Ben Bernanke and Janet Yellen in the Financial Times. Here's a short excerpt from the piece:

"The Fed could ask Congress for the authority to buy limited amounts of investment-grade corporate debt The Fed's intervention could help restart that part of the corporate debt market, which is under significant stress. Such a programme would have to be carefully calibrated to minimize the credit risk taken by the Fed while still providing needed liquidity to an essential market." ( Financial Times )

The Fed is not allowed to buy corporate debt, because it is not within its mandate of "price stability and full employment". It's also not allowed to arbitrarily intervene in the markets to pick winners and losers, nor is it allowed to bailout poorly-managed crybaby corporations who were gaming the system to their own advantage when the whole deal blew up in their faces. That's their problem, not the Fed's and not the American taxpayer's.

But notice how Bernanke emphasizes how "Such a programme would have to be carefully calibrated to minimize the credit risk taken by the Fed". Why do you think he said that?

He said it because he anticipates an arrangement where the new Treasury-Fed combo could buy up to "$4.5 trillion of corporate debt" (according to Marketwatch and BofA). And the way this will work, is the Fed will select the bonds that will be purchased and the credit risk will be heaped onto the US Treasury. Apparently Bernanke and Yellen think this is a "fair" arrangement, but others might differ on that point.

Keep in mind, that in the last week alone, investors pulled a record $107 billion out of corporate bonds which is a market which has been in a deep-freeze for nearly a month. The only activity is the steady surge of redemptions by frantic investors who want to get their money back before the listing ship heads for Davey Jones locker. This is the market that Bernanke wants the American people to bail out mainly because he doesn't want to submerge the Fed's balance sheet in red ink. He wants to find a sucker who will take the loss instead. That's where Uncle Sam comes in, he's the target of this subterfuge. This same theme pops up in a piece in the Wall Street Journal. Check it out:

"At least Treasury has come around to realizing it needs a facility to provide liquidity for companies. But as we write this, Mr. Mnuchin was still insisting that Treasury have control of most of the money to be able to ladle out directly to companies it wants to help. This is a recipe for picking winners and losers, and thus for bitter political fights and months of ugly headlines charging favoritism. The far better answer is for Treasury to use money from Congress to replenish the Exchange Stabilization Fund to back the Fed in creating a facility or special-purpose vehicles under Section 13(3) to lend the money to all comers. "( "Leaderless on the Econom" , Wall Street Journal)

I can hardly believe the author is bold enough to say this right to our faces. Read it carefully: They are saying "We want your money, but not your advice. The Fed will choose who gets the cash and who doesn't. Just put your trillions on the counter and get the hell out."

Isn't that what they're saying? Of course it is. And the rest of the article is even more arrogant:

"The Fed can charge a non-concessionary rate, but the vehicles should be open to those who think they need the money, not merely to those Treasury decides are worthy." (Huh? So the Treasury should have no say so in who gets taxpayer money??) The looming liquidity crisis is simply too great for that kind of bureaucratic, politicized decision-making. (Wall Street Journal)

Get it? In other words, the folks at Treasury are just too stupid or too prejudiced to understand the subtleties of a bigass bailout like this. Is that arrogance or what?

This is the contempt these people have for you and me and everyone else who isn't a part of their elitist gaggle of reprobates. Here's a clip from another article at the WSJ that helps to show how the financial media is pushing this gigantic handout to corporate America:.

"The Federal Reserve, Treasury Department and banking regulators deserve congratulations for their bold, necessary actions to provide liquidity to the U.S. financial system amid the coronavirus crisis. But more remains to be done. We thus recommend: (1) immediate congressional action . to authorize the Treasury to use the Exchange Stabilization Fund to guarantee prime money-market funds, (2) regulatory action to effect temporary reductions in bank capital and liquidity requirements (NOTE–So now the banks don't need to hold capital against their loans?) .. additional Fed lending to banks and nonbanks .(Note -by "nonbanks", does the author mean underwater hedge funds?)

We recommend that the Fed take further actions as lender of last resort. First, it should re-establish the Term Auction Facility, used in the 2008 crisis, allowing depository institutions to borrow against a broad range of collateral at an auction price (Note–They want to drop the requirement for good Triple A collateral.) Second, it should consider further exercising its Section 13(3) authority to provide additional liquidity to nonbanks, potentially including purchases of corporate debt through a special-purpose vehicle" ( "Do More to Avert a Liquidity Crisis" , Wall Street Journal )

This isn't a bailout, it's a joke, and there's no way Congress should approve these measures, particularly the merging of the US Treasury with the cutthroat Fed. That's a prescription for disaster! The Fed needs to be abolished not embraced as a state institution. It's madness!

And look how the author wants to set up an special-purpose vehicle (SPV) so the accounting chicanery can be kept off the books which means the public won't know how much money is being flushed down the toilet trying to resuscitate these insolvent corporations whose executives are still living high on the hog on the money they stole from credulous investors. This whole scam stinks to high heaven!

Meanwhile America's working people will get a whopping $1,000 bucks to tide them over until the debts pile up to the rafters and they're forced to rob the neighborhood 7-11 to feed the kids. How fair is that?

And don't kid yourself: This isn't a bailout, it's the elitist's political agenda aimed at creating a permanent underclass who'll work for peanuts just to eek out a living.

Welcome to Sweatshop Amerika!

anachronism , says: Show Comment March 23, 2020 at 5:03 am GMT

In 2008-2009, the Federal Reserve bailed out the global banking system to the tune of $16 Trillion. But American citizens were left to pay usurious rates of interest on $1 Trillion of credit card debt. And American students had lost years of economic opportunity but their $1 Trillion dollars of debt could not be discharged through bankruptcy.

This time the banks should stand behind the debtors at the government troth.

anachronism , says: Show Comment March 23, 2020 at 5:06 am GMT
It's hard to understand how holiday cruise shipping can be regarded as an essential business.

It is almost as hard to understand why a "Globalist Enterprise" should be spared its fate through the generosity of of one country. Even harder to understand, why would that one country should bail out a business, which had employed both tax-avoidance schemes as well as strategy import substitution and foreign investment to improve its profits at the expense of that country.

Nationalism is better that globalism. The current crisis was not caused by globalism; but globalism has drained from our country the means to respond to the crisis with the medicines and equipment that would reduce its severity.

Not a single cent of government aid should go toward a person or an entity outside the United States and it territories. Conditions should be placed upon such aid, so that the companies receiving it, must domesticate their supply chains, and must produce and develop their products within the United States.

Kim , says: Show Comment March 23, 2020 at 5:38 am GMT
@anachronism Make the universities discharge the student debt. It was their scam all along. They can begin by retrenching their schools of the humanities and at least halving their administrative staff. And end building and sports programs. The fat hangs heavy on that particular pig.
anachronism , says: Show Comment March 23, 2020 at 7:19 am GMT
@Kim I agree with you up to a point.

The student and the university should share responsibility equally. In the future, the institution should be made a co-signor on any student loan; and the obligation to repay the loan should be joint and several for both the institution and the student.

Bankruptcy provides the ex-student with the chance to start over and to escape the burden; but not without consequences. This will discourage the ex-student, who is doing well financially and has the means to service the debt, from just walking away.

[Mar 24, 2020] The government will again bail out shale industry

Mar 24, 2020 |

Mr McKenna , says: Show Comment March 23, 2020 at 6:20 am GMT


They're going to have to bail out/nationalize the shale oil industry.

Or "They" could just ignore it.

It has achieved these outcomes – despite steep decline rates and a constant need for huge numbers of new wells – through massive levels of junk debt forced into existence by almost zero interest rates and by having little to no profits since 2008.

Sounds like a really rotten business model. "steep decline rates and a constant need for huge numbers of new wells" describes an industry in eclipse, to put it kindly.

The break-even for shale oils wells varies, but $70 a barrel is a good average figure.

Even worse. This 'business' is essentially fake and should be shuttered. Every dollar thrown at it will be wasted. If everything in the world somehow reverses itself one day and shale oil is once again needed, we can restart it. Won't happen, though. Obsolete.

anachronism , says: Show Comment March 23, 2020 at 7:38 am GMT
@Kim One part of the New Deal, that seemed to work very well for all parties concerned, was the Department of Agriculture's willingness to buy up excess grain/dairy production in order to encourage an ample supply of grain/dairy and a sustainable price, so that farmers could get out of the boom/bust cycle. These excess stores were intended to provide supplies when weather or disasters disrupted the harvests. The AG Dept. also established guidelines for farmers on how much acreage should be allocated to which type of food product, based upon its own estimates of aggregate demand and needs for strategic reserves. It even paid farmers to keep acreage fallow at times.

The Department of Energy could do something similar (provided the Congress should legislate it). For this to work, the government must limit foreign sources from supplying the US markets to serve only as augmentation to US energy production whenever/wherever the US energy producers can't meet the demand at the price level that the Energy Department sets. If the price is determined on an average COST+ ROI basis, our energy producers would effectively become utilities.

Miro23 , says: Show Comment March 23, 2020 at 8:35 am GMT

They're going to have to bail out/nationalize the shale oil industry.

Why? These were private failed investment decisions, so let the industry go bankrupt along with their shareholders and junk bond investors.

The world doesn't need oil supplied at $70 – And what has this got to do with the US public? They didn't make these shale oil investment decisions.

TBTF (Too Big To Fail) is another fake argument. If the investment banks had been allowed to fail in 2008, we would now have a smaller and more prudent banking sector. There are always some serious banks out there to pick up the pieces.

[Mar 23, 2020] The West was exposed, not only for not being able to handle a pandemic, but also for having a ponzi scheme economy.

Mar 23, 2020 |

Tor597 , says: Show Comment March 23, 2020 at 5:34 am GMT

Other things of note:

1) The West was exposed, not only for not being able to handle a pandemic, but also for having a ponzi scheme economy.

Having its citizens and its companies leveraged up to a point where America can collapse with any amount of hardship badly exposes America as being exceptionally weak.

2) Decoupling of Asia from America. For the West to try and target the Chinese, there will be fallout. It's not like white people bother to distinguish Chinese from Korean or Japanese when they harass Asians they see.

This will have consequences in Asia as Asian countries will just focus on trading with each other than have to deal with a hostile west.

3) America cannot exist in a multipolar world, it can only exist in a unipolar world that it controls. So it will not just be a decoupling of China and America, it will be escalation between America and China till one is left standing.

You can expect to see color revolutions in HK and Taiwan. Meanwhile China will have no reason to show any restraint in fighting back. China could target the west in Iran, Venezuela, or even in the US by tormenting color revolutions of it's own.

4) it is easy to say that America will just trade more with Europe, but how does that work? Drug prices are already too high in America, so now America will pay even higher prices?

Trading more with Latin America makes more sense to me, but I also don't think Latin America is up to it.

5) I honestly don't think America will be the same country after the outbreak is over. Things are already cracking early on, how will Americans pull together 3 months in?

How will America pull together if Trump pulls war time authority?

[Mar 23, 2020] Life and Death under Liberalism by Andrew Joyce

Mar 23, 2020 |

As stated in my review of Don DeLillo's White Noise (1985), we live in a decaying society that is in terror of death, and pathologically so. This pathology is rooted in mistaken beliefs that our civilization is dying from, or could imminently die from, disease epidemics, climate catastrophes etc., in the midst of willful and ignorant abdication of a future (via self-hate and industrialized abortion) in favor of mass immigration, consumerism, and instant gratification. Just as one has to confront death in order to truly live (or to become "authentic" in Heidegger's philosophy), our society is in constant flight from death and thus inevitably collapses into inauthentic decay. COVID-19, while not as lethal as media coverage would suggest, is a reminder of our mortality and human fragility and will necessarily have a jarring effect on a Western liberalism that has become increasingly distant from the confrontation with death.

Life under liberal finance capitalism is largely one of illusion, in which the prospect of real death is pushed far into the distance, both psychologically and culturally. Postmodern Western liberal culture is largely one of perpetual adolescence, in which the primary virtues are acting according to one's individual will, identifying oneself in a hyper-individualistic manner, and expressing these identities via conspicuous consumption and behavior. We do not "live towards" Death, with a sense of purpose and a feeling that we are part of a much grander civilizational trajectory. We do not understand that Death has shaped our historical path, and that it hangs over us in ways that should direct our actions in the present.

COVID-19, regardless of current confusion over its true mortality rate, is a corrective to illusions that "progressive" Man has overcome Nature and can shape the world according to the human image, and without consequences. Certainly throughout my own lifetime, I've grown accustomed to assertions that life expectancy will continue to increase, and that there will be an endless supply of innovations and social projects that will make the mechanics of life easier and more productive.

One increasingly expects that one will live a long life, mostly in very good health. Such a sense of security can breed all kinds of arrogance and fantasies, including the recent perverse luxury of the delusion that one can simply decide to be this or that gender. This new virus, however, presents the possibility, both in itself and its inevitable heirs, that Death is much closer than we ever thought, and that for all our technological advancement and self-congratulation, Nature need only tweak one molecule, so small our naked eyes could never perceive it, and the grave opens before us. The Age of Fantasy is confronted with the ultimate reality.

How the West responds to this realization will be a further cultural challenge. We have grown equally accustomed to the idea that we have "advanced" morally as a society, and that we have overcome some of the more "brutish" aspects of human existence that we perceive in the past. But in a world of apparently increasing plenty, such notions can be hard to test. It's always easy for a man with a full stomach to condemn the actions of the starving. The conceit of the full-bellied West that it has overcome and surpassed itself and its past will now be tested. I, of course, arise from a political and philosophical tradition that insists there is no shame in the past. I see little or no place for morality in the struggle for survival. And I also see the cracks already forming in the Western conceit. This society that is against "hate" and prides itself on "coming together" is already struggling to stop people rioting over toilet paper and bottled water. If civil order breaks down, will the proud feminists be seeking their own resources, or hoping for a strong man to protect them? If the death toll does rise dramatically, and if curfews and lockdowns are imposed and intensified, I ask: How well will your beloved multicultural societies respond? If resources become scarce and tensions rise, who will you trust? These tests are coming.

Economic and Political Fallout

Just days ago, JPMorgan projected that a recession will hit the US and European economies by July, with US GDP to shrink by 2% in the first quarter and 3% in the second, and Eurozone GDP to contract by 1.8% and 3.3% over the same periods. Sudden cessation of economic activity through quarantines, event cancellations, social distancing, and the almost complete shutdown of the tourist industry will have both immediate and longer term consequences for national economies and broader trade patterns. The mass closing of schools will expose pre-existing weaknesses in a modern system that sees women funneled en masse into the work place while their children are left in day cares or schools. According to numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 70 percent of American mothers with children under 18 work. Through the closing of schools alone, the impact of COVID-19 will almost certainly have the greatest impact on the role of women in the workplace since World War Two, with many forced to leave work and return to the home for an as yet undetermined amount of time. How this will impact the businesses or public entities employing these women remains to be seen, but it will undoubtedly cause significant difficulties and necessitate some level of infrastructural change.

The outbreak of COVID-19 is also projected to test Western healthcare provision to the limit. It's been particularly interesting that the outbreak in Italy effectively broke the health system in Lombardy, widely regarded as one of the best in the world. Before the outbreak, it was remarked that:

The Lombardy healthcare system, characterised by quality and efficiency, is a model of reference both in Italy and worldwide. With the benefit of private partnerships in fact, it ensures its citizens and those who live in other regions or abroad have access to prime level health care with all the advantages of a public system. Lombardy has 56 University Departments of Medicine, 19 IRCCS (IRCCS means an institution devoted to excellence in clinical care and research) which represent 42% of the national total, 47 Institutes and 32 Research Centres. As a result, Lombardy and in particular Milan have always attracted the most renowned physicians in every field of expertise.

It took COVID-19 just four weeks to exhaust every hospital bed in Lombardy, force doctors out of retirement and medical students to graduate early, and provoke the creation of 500 triage tents outside hospitals nationwide. The different, and ever-politicized, healthcare systems of the United States and Great Britain are about to experience the most intensive test in their respective histories.

One of the most outspoken figures from the medical profession on social media in recent days is Eugene Gu , who has made a point of attacking the profit-seeking nature of much of the American medical establishment. Gu has argued that American medicine is essentially a pyramid scheme that profits those at the top by artificially restricting the number of doctors produced by the system:

The medical school and residency system in the United States is completely broken compared to other countries. Now that we are in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, we need to reflect upon an abusive system that hurts patients and seeks to make a few specialists filthy rich. Even before the coronavirus, we created a huge physician shortage by limiting spots in medical schools to inflate doctors' salaries the same way De Beers fixes the diamond market. And we gutted primary care so that specialists like plastic surgeons and dermatologists can get rich. I took an oath to "first, do no harm." I cannot just stand by and watch as the corrupt cesspool we call our American medical system fails our patients while a few doctors, insurance executives, and Big Pharma get filthy rich. Medicine should not be a for-profit industry.

Whether or not one agrees with Dr Gu's perspective, the coming weeks and months will test both American for-profit medicine and Britain's nationalized health system, and perhaps leave long term political legacies for both.

Political consequences will also inevitably result from the approaches of individual leaders to the crisis. Boris Johnson is risking his political future on a " herd immunity " strategy that is radically different from the course of action pursued by other leaders. It's been criticized as involving the sacrifice of the older generation for a slightly prolonged period of economic normalcy and an entirely assumed future immunity among the young.

Donald Trump, meanwhile, is quickly trying to move on from a highly dismissive initial response to the outbreak. In both cases, and throughout the West, moderately "conservative" populism based on the celebration of finance capitalism and token gestures on borders will be tested to the limit by increasing strains on all aspects of social, political, and economic life. Trump, in particular, has managed to squeeze a lot of political mileage out of the performance of the stock market. With stocks tumbling, and the American healthcare system pushed to the limit, it remains to be seen whether Trump's drive to make gay sex legal in Africa will be enough to keep his voters happy.

In another return of the Real, of course, COVID-19 is doing more to close borders than any expression of political populism ever has. It was all well and good that "the world is a village" when this involved cheap and cheerful vacations, but all it took was a few houses in the throes of sickness for the rest of the villagers to wish there was somewhere they could escape to. The global village is in shutdown. All humans might be equally susceptible to this virus, but national borders, so often scorned until recently, now reveal they might have some uses after all – just one of them being the invaluable opportunity to seal and control a limited territory. How people grow accustomed to this renewed emphasis on border control may leave a lasting political legacy for the West also. In any case, we can only hope it will.

[Mar 23, 2020] Looks like the virus further damage neoliberalism

Mar 23, 2020 |

snake , Mar 22 2020 19:39 utc | 60

The idea advanced on the last thread [by Vk and here @7 and 39 I think] that governments should be organized around something different than economics is sound and worthy of everyone's input, ideas and objections; discussion is needed and welcome.

International human to human discussion should take place. Human experience with nation state globalism has shown just how vulnerable humanity is to organized and institutionalized corruption; the actions of the leaders of individual nations have shown the nation state system cannot be trusted.

The Covid 19 pandemic has reminded us all that we as humans <= have a right to a government that is of our collective liking, we have learned that governments must serve the best interest of the most persons, not special interest of a few. Governments which fail to serve equal right, open access and equal chance to those it governs are prima facia legitimates. Covid 19 brought the meaning of the principle of self-determination to the forefront. Everyone's life is challenged by submicroscopic beast. It takes the cooperation of all of us, to save most of us, and it takes the corruption of a few, to ruin it all, for most of us.

Human rights come first, long before economics . No economic rationale can support the delay or justify the cost of failure for those entrusted with the power to act, should they fail to timely act with diligence on threat that human lives are in danger. Experience suggest it is not possible to leave the power, function, and direction of government to those whose responsibility it is to operate it <= something very different is needed.

Covid 19 was a wake up call , that makes real the unfulfilled and failed campaign promises in a never ending trail of campaigns. Its time for everyone to insist on truth, truth in media, truth in political campaigns, open book truth from those appointed to government, and to bring everyone's troops home. Its time for nation states to stop supporting the private oil and gas bandits, the MSM, or any other special interest, its time to make a single global currency that bears no interest and that does not require repayment of principal, its time for governments to stop arming belligerents, their own or those of anyone else (gun control should be transformed into between governments, weapons control and the persons of all humans everywhere should be equally armed), its time to stop one nation instigating or supporting regime change in another, and its time to deny government leaders from using the governments they lead, to enable private or corrupt profits. Every human has a right to life, liberty and to pursuit of happiness: <=governments were instituted to secure to mankind the enjoyment of the privilege of those rights; but it seems mankind has been lax in making these governments conform to their privilege of existence.

A $0 military budget, and no interest, no repay currency could bring the credit needed to create multi many places of employment, AWA fix ailing infra structures, improve access to, even make access globally universal. It could improve the quality of education and open to everyone<= fair play, access to capital (instead of venture capital expecting reward of profit, how about advances of capital in search of human progress). which could enable real progress on earth for mankind.

Its time to eliminate the dependency on, or even the existence of those monopolies nation states like to create out of thin air by using their power to invent by rule of law, powers that restrain true competition (license, privatized government ownership, special authority, patents, copyrights, and the private property ownership).

It time to stop over hyped , Wall Street multi global type greed which only exist because currency is used as control devise, instead of a facilitator. Nation states should facilitate humans to interact, in ways transparent to the nation state boundaries (Its economics, that encourages non sharing attitudes, that cause competitors to seek ways to use governments to restrain human inter action). Humans should try to replace foreign products with locally made goods and the foreign goods producers should be encouraged to make goods in places where the goods have a demand because demand produces jobs and provides opportunity, globalism organized to produce economic gains, often attempt to steal from locals the benefits of demand created by the locals. The local province rule should apply: that is if locals want to make it, multinationals should be denied. The billions saved to the global economy in unexpended energy consumption (no transport cost), could bring prices of goods and services to comparative advantage adjusted market price levels. I predict, the poor would prosper because they would have an opportunity to contribute to our global human society, and government would be re instituted to encourage and enforce equality for all to those it governs. Governments should restrain and deny wealth, but they should encourage and facilitate local competition. At one time people elected their representatives based on performance in accord to those ideals. Currency that carries no interest and that never needs to be repaid, challenges economic induced greed and redirects the efforts of mankind to providing that which is needed.

In 1949 the income tax in USA governed America was layered into tiers (where different tax rates were applied); the USA taxed those who made big bucks at 90% in its highest tier .. Seem to recall Briton had something similar [100% of everything over $150,000 pounds of taxable Income?]. From here => <=i made a table
year rate@personal taxable income level
1941 81% @$5,000,000
1942-1943 88% @$200,000
1944-1945 94% @$200,000 The tax limited to a 90% effective rate.
1946-1947 91% @$200,000 The tax limited to a 90% effective rate (85.5% >credits).
1948-1951 91% @$400,000 The tax limited to a 77% effective rate in 1948-1949, .
1952-1953 92% @$400,000 The tax was limited to an 88% effective rate.

corporate rate from I made a small table.
1942- 1945 40% > $50,000
1946- 1949 38% > $50,000
1950 42% > $25,000
1951 50.75% > $25,000
1952- 1963 52% > $25,000
1964 52% > $25,000
1965- 1967 48% > $25,000
1968- 1969 52.8% > $25,000

These numbers suggest a long winded story of useless corruption.

[Mar 23, 2020] If you'd ever tried to set up a business here in the UK, you'd realise pretty quickly that you are under complete and utter control of the government in every aspect

Mar 23, 2020 |

TJ , Mar 22 2020 20:57 utc | 74

@1 vk

If you'd ever tried to set up a business here in the UK, you'd realise pretty quickly that you are under complete and utter control of the government in every aspect and they own your business by dint of the taxes and the loans you have to take out from their banker friends, we have soft communism because the government owns you but pretends not to. Magna Carta is dead and it's only possible resuscitation would be a Runnymede 2 Electric Boogaloo.

[Mar 22, 2020] Mask piracy among neoliberal nations: Wonderful show of world-wide solidarity

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... 1) Pompeo and Grenell reportedly arguing that coronavirus has created window of opportunity for a direct strike on a weak and divided Iran. ..."
"... Deputy Health Minister Alireza Raisian has criticized the #UK for not delivering millions of masks #Iran bought in preparations ahead of #Covid19 outbreak. The London govt. refused to deliver them citing US sanctions! Note that Germany took supplies meant for Switzerland, The US via the Italian Mafia (I suppose) gets masks from Bergamo. etc. ..."
Mar 21, 2020 |

Stonebird , Mar 21 2020 21:25 utc | 31

I just think that the US "Intelligence" and most of the US Administration just haven't got it. I suppose when you are waiting for the "rapture" anything that can add to the chaos is to be included.

1) Pompeo and Grenell reportedly arguing that coronavirus has created window of opportunity for a direct strike on a weak and divided Iran. They were arguing about the severity of the strike.

2) Deputy Health Minister Alireza Raisian has criticized the #UK for not delivering millions of masks #Iran bought in preparations ahead of #Covid19 outbreak. The London govt. refused to deliver them citing US sanctions! Note that Germany took supplies meant for Switzerland, The US via the Italian Mafia (I suppose) gets masks from Bergamo. etc. Wonderful show of world-wide solidarity.

Pompeo should hold his "rapture" in his hot little hand and .....

[Mar 21, 2020] Tulsi Gabbard says insider traders should be 'investigated prosecuted,' as Left and Right team up on profiteering senator

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... "better prepared than ever ..."
"... "akin to the 1918 pandemic." ..."
"... "Congress/staff who dumped stocks after private briefings on impending coronavirus epidemic should be investigated and prosecuted for insider trading," ..."
"... "Members of Congress should not be allowed to own stocks." ..."
"... "stomach churning," ..."
"... "For a public servant it's pretty hard to imagine many things more immoral than doing this," ..."
"... "Richard Burr had critical information that might have helped the people he is sworn to protect. But he hid that information and helped only himself." ..."
"... "If you find out about a nation-threatening pandemic and your first move is to adjust your stock portfolio you should probably not be in a job that serves the public interest," ..."
"... "calling for immediate investigations" ..."
"... "for possible violations of the STOCK Act and insider trading laws." ..."
"... Think your friends would be interested? Share this story! ..."
Mar 21, 2020 |

In a rare moment of bipartisanship, commenters from all sides have demanded swift punishment for US senators who dumped stock after classified Covid-19 briefings. Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has called for criminal prosecution. As chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Richard Burr (R-North Carolina) has received daily briefings on the threat posed by Covid-19 since January. Burr insisted to the public that America was ready to handle the virus, but sold up to $1.5 million in stocks on February 13, less than a week before the stock market nosedived, according to Senate filings . Immediately before the sale, Burr wrote an op-ed assuring Americans that their government is "better prepared than ever " to handle the virus.

Also on Liberal icon Sean Penn wants a 'compassionate' army deployment to fight Covid-19

After the sale, NPR reported that he told a closed-door meeting of North Carolina business leaders that the virus actually posed a threat "akin to the 1918 pandemic." Burr does not dispute the NPR report.

In a tweet on Saturday, former 2020 presidential candidate and Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard called for criminal investigations. "Congress/staff who dumped stocks after private briefings on impending coronavirus epidemic should be investigated and prosecuted for insider trading," she wrote.

"Members of Congress should not be allowed to own stocks."

Congress/staff who dumped stocks after private briefings on impending coronavirus epidemic should be investigated & prosecuted for insider trading (the STOCK Act). It is illegal & abuse of power. Members of Congress should not be allowed to own stocks.

-- Tulsi Gabbard 🌺 (@TulsiGabbard) March 21, 2020

Burr was not the only lawmaker on Capitol Hill to take precautions, it was reported. Fellow Intelligence Committee member Dianne Feinstein (D-California) and her husband sold off more than a million dollars of shares in a biotech company five days later, while Oklahoma's Jim Inhofe (R) made a smaller sale around the same time. Both say their sales were routine.

Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Georgia) attended a Senate Health Committee briefing on the outbreak on January 24. The very same day, she began offloading stock, dropping between $1.2 and $3.1 million in shares over the following weeks. The companies whose stock she sold included airlines, retail outlets, and Chinese tech firm Tencent.

She did, however, invest in cloud technology company Oracle, and Citrix, a teleworking company whose value has increased by nearly a third last week, as social distancing measures forced more and more Americans to work from home. All of Loeffler's transactions were made with her husband, Jeff Sprecher, CEO of the New York Stock Exchange.

Meanwhile, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (New York) and Ilhan Omar (Minnesota) have joined the clamor of voices demanding punishment. Ocasio-Cortez described the sales as "stomach churning," while Omar reached across the aisle to side with Fox News' Tucker Carlson in calling for Burr's resignation.

I am 💯 with him on this 😱

-- Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) March 20, 2020

"For a public servant it's pretty hard to imagine many things more immoral than doing this," Carlson said during a Friday night monolog. "Richard Burr had critical information that might have helped the people he is sworn to protect. But he hid that information and helped only himself."

As of Saturday, there are nearly 25,000 cases of Covid-19 in the US, with the death toll heading towards 300. Now both sides of the political aisle seem united in disgust at the apparent profiteering of Burr, Loeffler, and Feinstein.

Right-wing news outlet Breitbart savaged Burr for voting against the STOCK Act in 2012, a piece of legislation that would have barred members of Congress from using non-public information to profit on the stock market. At the same time, a host of Democratic figures - including former presidential candidates Andrew Yang and Kirsten Gillibrand - weighed in with their own criticism too.

"If you find out about a nation-threatening pandemic and your first move is to adjust your stock portfolio you should probably not be in a job that serves the public interest," Yang tweeted on Friday.

If you find out about a nation-threatening pandemic and your first move is to adjust your stock portfolio you should probably not be in a job that serves the public interest.

-- Andrew Yang🧢 (@AndrewYang) March 20, 2020

Watchdog group Common Cause has filed complaints with the Justice Department, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Senate Ethics Committee "calling for immediate investigations" of Burr, Loeffler, Feinstein and Inhofe "for possible violations of the STOCK Act and insider trading laws."

Think your friends would be interested? Share this story!

[Mar 21, 2020] Tucker Senator Burr sold shares after virus briefing - YouTube

Highly recommended!
Mar 21, 2020 |

Bowhead31 , 5 hours ago

The problem is these people no longer see themselves as public servants.

Maria Summers , 6 hours ago

The Georgia Senator is just as guilty as the rest of them, regarding "Insider Trading".

shane passey , 3 hours ago

She's a crook just like the rest of the politicians. They say they be there for the people. But they're really there to make themselves rich

[Mar 21, 2020] Don't forget our congress critter Senator Kelly Loeffler

Mar 21, 2020 |


who make profits as well. I cannot remember exactly when insider trading for them became legal but it should be no surprise to anyone paying the slightest bit of attention that they're ALL doing it. That is one reason, at least in my semi-educated opinion, they did not go after Trump for emoluments during Shampeachment, because THEY ALL DO IT.

That goes all the way to the White House, no doubt.

Marie on Sat, 03/21/2020 - 10:28am

Looks as if the crisis profiteers were on top of it:

Think about this:

Weeks before you had any inkling you were going to lose your job, was selling off millions of stocks -- and *buying* stock in a teleworking company.

-- Robert Reich (@RBReich) March 20, 2020

[Mar 21, 2020] How neoliberalism treats workers in case of calamity

Mar 21, 2020 |


Qantas Airways: the flag carrier of Australia Qantas Airways Limited is the flag carrier of Australia and its largest airline by fleet size, international flights and international destinations

The crisis hit and Qantas sends home 20,000 workers or two thirds of its workforce of 30,000. Go home with no pay . The company management is proud of implementing such measures to save the Australian icon.

Qantas, once a government owned entity, is a civilisational symbol of strength and prestige. But with such behaviour, shouldn't we ask the question: what are these Strength and Prestige built upon?

[Mar 20, 2020] This policy is unconscionable and flagrantly against international law. It is imperative that the U.S. lift these immoral and illegal sanctions to enable Iran and Venezuela to confront the epidemic as effectively and rapidly as possible

Mar 20, 2020 |

Mao , Mar 19 2020 23:25 utc | 225

A group of economists and policy experts on Wednesday called on President Donald Trump to immediately lift the United States' crippling sanctions against Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, and other countries, warning that the economic warfare -- in addition to being cruel in itself -- is "feeding the coronavirus epidemic" by hampering nations' capacity to respond.

"This policy is unconscionable and flagrantly against international law. It is imperative that the U.S. lift these immoral and illegal sanctions to enable Iran and Venezuela to confront the epidemic as effectively and rapidly as possible," Columbia University professor Jeffrey Sachs said in a statement just hours after the Trump administration intensified sanctions against Iran, which has been devastated by COVID-19.

Mao , Mar 19 2020 23:37 utc | 229

Promising to "smash" Venezuela's government during a "maximum pressure March," Trump has imposed crushing sanctions that force Venezuela to spend three times as much as non-sanctioned countries on coronavirus testing kits.

[Mar 20, 2020] ProPublica reported on Thursday that republican Senator Burr sold off up to $1.56 million in stock on February 13th, as he was reassuring the public about coronavirus preparedness.

Mar 20, 2020 |

Augustin L , Mar 19 2020 23:39 utc | 231

Bernhard when will Chump and his neo-confederates drain the swamp ? "ProPublica reported on Thursday that republican Senator Burr sold off up to $1.56 million in stock on February 13th, as he was reassuring the public about coronavirus preparedness. At the time, Burr and the Intelligence Committee were receiving daily briefings about COVID-19.

Three weeks ago, the Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee privately warned dozens of donors about the harrowing impact the coronavirus would have on the United States, while keeping the general public in the dark.

In a secret recording obtained by NPR, North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr is heard giving attendees of a club luncheon a much different message than most federal government officials, especially President Trump, were giving the public at the time.

"There's one thing that I can tell you about this," Burr said, "It is much more aggressive in its transmission than anything that we have seen in recent history." He added, "It is probably more akin to the 1918 pandemic."

That pandemic claimed more than 600,000 American lives...

Burr warned the business leaders about effects on travel 13 days before the State Department released info on restrictions and 15 days before the Trump administration banned European travelers."

[Mar 20, 2020] Tucker Carlson and China bashing

Mar 20, 2020 |

Minnesota Mary , says: Show Comment March 19, 2020 at 11:37 pm GMT

@FB I, too, have been disappointed in Tucker Carlson's China bashing. I have thought that he was the best on FOX News, but now he is getting to be as bad as Sean Hannity.

We may never know the origin of the coronavirus. It is foolish to try and assign blame at this point.

[Mar 20, 2020] The virus and the Deep state

Mar 20, 2020 |

Ron Unz , says: Show Comment March 19, 2020 at 3:43 am GMT

Well, I think there's a certain amount of circumstantial evidence suggesting that the Coronavirus outbreak may have been an American bioweapon attack against China (and Iran).

But if so, I'm *extremely* skeptical that the perpetrators ever intended or imagined that it would leak back into the US and inflict the horrific economic and social damage that now seems unavoidable. How to explain this lack lack of foresight?

The most obvious answer is that they were stupid and incompetent, but here's another point to consider

In late 2002 there was the outbreak of SARS in China, a related virus but that was far more deadly and somewhat different in other characteristics. The virus killed hundreds of Chinese and spread into a few other countries before it was controlled and stamped out. The impact on the US and Europe was negligible, with just a small scattering of cases and only a death or two.

So if American biowarfare analysts were considering a Coronavirus attack against China, isn't it quite possible they would have said to themselves that since SARS never significantly leaked back into the US or Europe, we'd similarly remain insulated from the Coronavirus?

Obviously, such an analysis was foolish and mistaken, but would it have seemed so implausible at the time?

Father O'Hara , says: Show Comment March 19, 2020 at 3:55 am GMT
Well, I have only recently heard of a guy named Francis Boyle,a law professor out of the Univ. Of Illinois. He is apparently an expert on bio-warfare treaties. He claims covid-19 is manmade,period.
That is a very scary notion,from which most people will flee.
As I have accepted that 9/11 was "the usual suspects," I guess it is definitely possible.
Sasha , says: Show Comment March 19, 2020 at 4:00 am GMT
@Ron Unz Maybe, but my take is an engineered market crash. This looks to me like a Nathan Rothschild sort of trick (according to legend) – propagating fake news about Napoleon's victory at Waterloo, crashing the markets, then snapping up the whole LSE for a penny to the pound. If so, you have to admire it, the sheer genius, the psychopathic beauty of it all.

As a bonus, the Reichstag Fire also is an extremely efficient delivery system for the eugenics payload – a very virulent strain that almost exclusively targets the social burden (pensioners and already ill) while leaving alone the tax-farm base! Never in the history of tax-farming have the sheeple been stampeded and fleeced so thoroughly! Bravo!

Flubber , says: Show Comment March 19, 2020 at 4:13 am GMT
"The US cannot win a trade war with China."

What kind of bollocks is this.

Of course the US can win a trade war.

The US is the customer, with the enormous trade deficit. Trump has been hugely effective with his tariff's policy in rehoming manufacturing to the US – a process that will vastly accelerate thanks to the Corona virus outbreak.

I agree that 9-11 stink to high heaven and that PNAC are unmitigated bastards, but this capitulation to China is balls.

Delta G , says: Show Comment March 19, 2020 at 4:16 am GMT
@Ron Unz Stupidity is certainly an American Military essential behavior for promotion and success in the current US Armed Forces.

But you can't have someone clever enough to create a Recombinant Designer Pathogen and be in the US Military.

However, the psyops fucks would likely be ready to game the system should a natural outbreak occur which would be called a Pandemic even when its not and make everyone of our low quality leaders $hit their pants and go totally crazy. A mild fart with the claim its poison gas would make the Stock Markets Collapse.

Carlton Meyer , says: Website Show Comment March 19, 2020 at 4:22 am GMT

But if so, I'm *extremely* skeptical that the perpetrators ever intended or imagined that it would leak back into the US and inflict the horrific economic and social damage that now seems unavoidable. How to explain this lack lack of foresight?

This is the same issue with cyberwar viruses. One can infect computers in Iran, but with the internet they may be passed onto the entire world, just like rap music.

antibeast , says: Show Comment March 19, 2020 at 4:41 am GMT
@Ron Unz

But if so, I'm *extremely* skeptical that the perpetrators ever intended or imagined that it would leak back into the US and inflict the horrific economic and social damage that now seems unavoidable. How to explain this lack lack of foresight?

One word: Trump. Because he could very well lose his reelection bid if the pandemic causes an economic recession which now seems highly likely given the stock market collapse.

Cui Bono ? The people OPPOSED to Trump, variously referred to as the "Deep State" or the "National Security State" as described by Gore Vidal in his book which by the way Julian Assange was holding while being hauled away from the Ecuadorian Embassy.

After Russiagate and Ukrainegate, THEY finally hit the bullseye with Coronagate.

Si1ver1ock , says: Show Comment March 19, 2020 at 5:05 am GMT
This is a pretty good article. I'll probably link to it.

Some people think this is coming from City of London types. The US pursued a "strategy of tension" with China that may have allowed third party actors to intervene and get them fighting each other.

There has been some Bad Blood between British elites and China for awhile now. It's not clear why.

In this scheme, the US is the patsy, the Oswald to take the blame.

Anonymous [392] Disclaimer , says: Show Comment March 19, 2020 at 5:16 am GMT
@Polemos Check this link out:

The real gem in the whole article are the observations made by Yang himself:

YANG: That's what freaks me out about the whole thing. What we're doing is saying things like, "Keep your social distance," and trying to stop the spread that way, which is fine. But we have shit for data. Like, we don't know what the infection rate is. And so, there's no reason we would ever be able to give the 'all-clear.' If you don't have any data, this whole thing is a nightmare that doesn't end. When you close schools, what gives you the all-clear to say, "OK, open them again"? Nothing. There's no data to compare it to. This whole thing is a fear-based approach with no end in sight. There's no catalyst to ever sound the all-clear. This whole thing is so fucked up.

YANG: I think the nature of that guidance has to be different, personally. I think they need to be transparent about what kind of data we're relying on, to give people a sense of the timeline. Right now, our sense of the future is so cloudy. And you get the sense the president went from not taking this seriously to suddenly realizing its seriousness, and now we're reacting in various ways to slow the spread of the virus. But then what? I would be clearer as to what the timeline looks like, what data we're going to rely upon, how we're going to get that data, what steps we're taking to increase testing capacity and just give people a sense of the future.

We need to know now what the future can look like under different scenarios and then be presented with what scenario we're in when that time comes. We've been on lockdown for half a week. Right now, the American people don't have any visibility into whether it's going to be four more weeks or four more months, and we don't know how those judgments are going to determined. As president, I would say, "Look, here's the information, here's the dashboard, here's what we're lining up, here's what we're hoping for, here's how circumstances could change, and thank you for doing your part -- if you proceed with like the rest of the country in flattening the curve and keeping things under this level, then we can look forward to this. " You know, so we could actually have a sense of accomplishment and purpose.

So here we have it, replicated throughout the whole of the Western world. An open-ended clamp-down based on fear, with no timeline or road map, and no conditions set on when (or IF) things will get back to normal.

For now, smells really fishy. Even if DS (Deep State) did not intentionally engineer this circumstance, they are decisively and very swiftly exploiting it to exert extreme control over everything .

Franklin Ryckaert , says: Show Comment March 19, 2020 at 5:31 am GMT
@antibeast On the contrary, for the deep state Trump is the ideal puppet. Those who are against Trump belong to the surface state , i.e. Democrats, Leftists in general and the equally Leftist main stream media. Real policy in the US is only made by the deep state .

[Mar 19, 2020] The neoliberal imperial regime is not only brittle and riven through with corruption but run by talents selected in an anti-meritocratic way

Mar 19, 2020 |

bevin , Mar 19 2020 16:47 utc | 69

There is a common idea behind all the various theories that attribute the pandemic to government action, ruling class planning or financial manipulators.

And that is the idea that the ruling class/establishment/tptb,1%-call them what you will- are all powerful, wise, though evil, and capable of defeating any popular resistance.

The people claiming now that the virus was unloosed to enable an attack on Iran, those who claim that it was produced as a smokescreen to obscure the collapse of the financial system, those who see it as a means to steal away our last liberties and to knock a dying democracy on the head, even those who see it as an out of control experiment , if you look at their posts in the past, are generally going to be found to be the same people who thought that the US military could not be defeated, that Syria was bound to fall, that Venezuela and Cuba were toast. And that Hezbollah and Ansarullah stood no chance against the vast forces arrayed against them.

The idea is always the same: the Empire is indefatigable, the greedy mediocrities who run it (many of them public figures whose characters are daily open to examination) have foreseen all possibilities. Resistance is useless. We are all doomed.

In fact, as people who don't have the leisure to indulge themselves in these gloomy excuses for inaction and apathy are always demonstrating, the imperial regime is not only brittle and riven through with corruption but run by talents selected in an anti-meritocratic way. The reason that Petraeus, for example, rose to the top of the US military machine was that he was a slimy careerist of the sort we have all come across, and, if we have been doing our duty, trod on, in our lives: as a General he was clueless, unoriginal and, because he was immoral and cynical, quite unable to understand how Iraqis would react to his crude terrorist methods. Unfortunately he was caught out by his lust; had he maintained a respectable image he would probably, by now, be into his second term as President and making Trump look competent.

And what is true of the Pentagon is equally true of those running the US economy, Wall St and the banking system: they are utterly witless. Look around you for the fruits of their wisdom.

In fact the entire political class of the US, ably assisted by its clownish puppets elsewhere, has brought the system that they worship to the brink of dissolution. Class rule teeters on the edge of massive uprisings.

And this is not-I have already taken up too much space and time- because the pandemic was planned but because despite its predictability, the near certainty that the seven good years would be followed by plagues and famines, they could not restrain themselves from dismantling the safety nets-from flood controls to food reserves to healthcare services designed to be able to expand when needed to deal with emergencies.
(In the Canadian county in which I live the Public Health Unit founded in the aftermath of the First World War and the 'flu epidemics, was shut down, to save money, last year. Most of its functions were left to chance and the marketplace to fulfil. And now we have a pandemic.)
Instead the entire system is riddled with the weaknesses that usurious practises impose: there are empty hospitals in the Pennines because local health authorities cannot both pay interest on PPP loans and meet the payrolls of medical staff. So, following the logic of capitalism-first pay interest- local taxes, designed to maintain public health, are diverted to the money lenders. And then there is the cost of monopolised drug purchases.

And that is symptomatic of the entire system, in all its aspects: education, including the work needed to provide scientific and medical personnel, is crippled in the same way, by high fees, by capital costs swollen by interest payments, by professions designed to hoard rather than spread knowledge.

The entire system is corrupt and collapsing. And that is why,particularly in the "West" where mass indoctrination has long been part of the culture, it is necessary to recognise that it is not going to take much in the way of mass energy to bring the whole thing down. And to replace it with real democracy.

Rob20 , Mar 19 2020 16:55 utc | 72

The virus may not have been created in a laboratory but as a minimum it should be studied to learn more about its origin and spread. At the present time we only hace circumstantial evidence but it point in one direction. Certain facts are worth considering:

2)The Wuhan wet-market is not the first source of the coronavirus;

2) SARS-CoV virus was being studied and experimented on at a US Bioweapons lab at Fort Detrick. In August 2019, it was cited for unsafe conditions that may have led to contamination of wastewater;

3) The US sent over 300 military personnel to the World Military Games in Wuhan in late October 2019;

4) Four foreign military participants came down with an unknown respiratory illness during the games;

5) Genetic studies conducted in Taiwan and Japan indicate that the ancestral form of SARS-CoV-2, the COVID-19 coronavirus does not occur in China but is found in the US and elsewhere.

Jonathan W , Mar 19 2020 17:28 utc | 90
African swine fever is also spread by man-made means even if it is not in itself man-made. Criminal elements spread it with drones The longer it takes to track down the origin even if the Chinese reportedly monitor everything, the more suspicious it becomes.

[Mar 19, 2020] The best we can hope for is that the depth of this crisis will finally force countries -- the US, in particular -- to fix the yawning social inequities that make large swaths of their populations so intensely vulnerable.

Mar 19, 2020 |

jpm , Mar 19 2020 16:35 utc | 61

Thanks, contributors, for all the (mostly) good well-thought-out information and views on this blog during this unprecedented time of world-wide crisis. Another valuable source I've found is MIT's Technology Review such as their latest article: We're not going back to normal:
Social distancing is here to stay for much more than a few weeks. It will upend our way of life, in some ways forever.
As might be expected from the source, a lot of solid technical information but also some pertinent political commentary. The way this piece ends:

The world has changed many times, and it is changing again. All of us will have to adapt to a new way of living, working, and forging relationships. But as with all change, there will be some who lose more than most, and they will be the ones who have lost far too much already. The best we can hope for is that the depth of this crisis will finally force countries -- the US, in particular -- to fix the yawning social inequities that make large swaths of their populations so intensely vulnerable.

[Mar 19, 2020] No doubt global elites present a united front to protect their common interest in maintaining the petrodollar and international banking system, insofar as it supports their individual interests. However, other than that shared interest, the elite are rife with factions -- both domestically and especially internationally.

Mar 19, 2020 |

Miro23 , says: Show Comment March 18, 2020 at 4:23 pm GMT


No doubt global elites present a united front to protect their common interest in maintaining the petrodollar and international banking system, insofar as it supports their individual interests. However, other than that shared interest, the elite are rife with factions -- both domestically and especially internationally.

Incredibly globalization as a system seems to have mostly disappeared in 6 weeks. There are closed frontiers, no more container ships, the ports are empty, no flights and the malls are closing.

It's not clear where the US public are going to get their electronics, clothing and other Walmart items unless everything rebounds 100%. If there's no rebound, then it starts to look like some kind of watershed event equivalent to WW1.

If elites and their interests are the foundation of the NWO, then right now they seem to be all over the place.

– The globalists want a strong dollar which they ensure with the dollar's reserve currency role (particularly the petrodollar). The dollar is doing fine now as a refuge, but with oil approaching $20 a barrel it doesn't look like such a great link longer term, and what use is a reserve currency when there's no trade?

– Globalism is based on ZIRP (Zero Interest Rate Policy) to keep the West consuming and allow the issuance of massive debt. Now international bond markets are hesitating in the face of more massive international issuance to deal with the economic fallout of the Coronavirus. Interest rates only have to rise to their historic averages to collapse the whole thing.

– The LGBT, SJW crowd find that racism, diversity and generally anti-White propaganda has become a non-issue. Everything has become Coronavirus which is actually sort of equalizing , and putting the focus on what the government needs to do to protect all the public including Deplorables (unusual turnaround).

– Frontiers are closing with the cheap labour/ multicultural crowd having gone quiet.

– Many globalist interests are facing bankruptcy as demand disappears, new share and bond issuance is blocked, credit disappears and a myriad of counterparty risks (finacialized opaque derivatives) turn into counterparty failures.

– The general inability of Western government elites to handle all these combined events. Monetary policy doesn't work in a ZIRP environment so they may just resort to "Helicopter Money" but with shortages of goods this is guaranteed to feed directly into inflation.

Altogether a remarkable change of direction in a very short time.

[Mar 19, 2020] I am having a bit of difficulty with the currently popular theory that a unified, omnipotent and near infallible global elite is behind everything single thing that happens on the world stage

Mar 19, 2020 |

Spanky , says: Show Comment March 18, 2020 at 12:25 pm GMT

@Miro23 Coronavirus is certainly a useful way to deflate a speculative bubble. The virus gets the blame rather the Dumpers in the Pump and Dump cycle. -- Miro23

But, given the precarious state of the global financial system, wouldn't any black swan of sufficient magnitude suffice to accomplish both deflation and take the blame?

No doubt global elites present a united front to protect their common interest in maintaining the petrodollar and international banking system, insofar as it supports their individual interests . However, other than that shared interest, the elite are rife with factions -- both domestically and especially internationally.

Which explains Tom Dye's assertion that one of the critical roles of the Counsel on Foreign Relations (CFR) is conflict resolution between competing elite factions. Or, in other words, I am having a bit of difficulty with the currently popular theory that a unified, omnipotent and near infallible global elite is behind everything single thing that happens on the world stage

[Mar 17, 2020] This pandemic is demonstrating once again that the global neoliberal economy is a fragile Potemkin construct that breaks down at the slightest tension

Mar 17, 2020 |

Daniel , Mar 17 2020 0:59 utc | 106

Fully in agreement with b here. Instead of shovelling money at banksters and corporate scammers to prop up the collapsing market, the Fed, ECB and other central banks should give the cash to people who need it and will use it to buy things and stimulate the economy.

This pandemic is demonstrating once again that the global neoliberal economy is a fragile Potemkin construct that breaks down at the slightest tension. Finance capitalism is a busted flush, a blatant scam to line the pockets of the 1% at everyone else's expense. And when the going gets really tough they will sacrifice all of us to save their cowardly avaricious asses. Governments need to represent the interests of citizens, not central bankers and the obscenely wealthy. That means putting the well-being of people first, not spending trillions to "save" the stock market aka "the economy."

[Mar 17, 2020] Russia Strikes Back Where It Hurts American Oil by Scott Ritter

Mar 17, 2020 |

R ussia and Saudi Arabia are engaged in an oil price war that has sent shockwaves around the world, causing the price of oil to tumble and threatening the financial stability, and even viability, of major international oil companies.

On the surface, this conflict appears to be a fight between two of the world's largest producers of oil over market share. This may, in fact, be the motive driving Saudi Arabia, which reacted to Russia's refusal to reduce its level of oil production by slashing the price it charged per barrel of oil and threatening to increase its oil production, thereby flooding the global market with cheap oil in an effort to attract customers away from competitors.

Russia's motives appear to be far different -- its target isn't Saudi Arabia, but rather American shale oil. After absorbing American sanctions that targeted the Russian energy sector, and working with global partners (including Saudi Arabia) to keep oil prices stable by reducing oil production even as the United States increased the amount of shale oil it sold on the world market, Russia had had enough. The advent of the Coronavirus global pandemic had significantly reduced the demand for oil around the world, stressing the American shale producers. Russia had been preparing for the eventuality of oil-based economic warfare with the United States. With U.S. shale producers knocked back on their heels, Russia viewed the time as being ripe to strike back. Russia's goal is simple: to make American shale oil producers " share the pain ".

The United States has been slapping sanctions on Russia for more than six years, ever since Russia took control (and later annexed) the Crimean Peninsula and threw its weight behind Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine. The first sanctions were issued on March 6, 2014, through Executive Order 13660 , targeting "persons who have asserted governmental authority in the Crimean region without the authorization of the Government of Ukraine that undermine democratic processes and institutions in Ukraine; threaten its peace, security, stability, sovereignty, and territorial integrity; and contribute to the misappropriation of its assets."

The most recent round of sanctions was announced by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on February 18, 2020, by sanctioning Rosneft Trading S.A., a Swiss-incorporated, Russian-owned oil brokerage firm, for operating in Venezuela's oil sector. The U.S. also recently targeted the Russian Nord Stream 2 and Turk Stream gas pipeline projects.

Russia had been signaling its displeasure over U.S. sanctions from the very beginning. In July 2014, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that U.S. sanctions were "driving into a corner" relations between the two countries, threatening the "the long-term national interests of the U.S. government and people." Russia opted to ride out U.S. sanctions, in hopes that there might be a change of administrations following the 2016 U.S. Presidential elections. Russian President Vladimir Putin made it clear that he hoped the U.S. might elect someone whose policies would be more friendly toward Russia, and that once the field of candidates narrowed down to a choice between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, Putin favored Trump .

"Yes, I did," Putin remarked after the election, during a joint press conference with President Trump following a summit in Helsinki in July 2018. "Yes, I did. Because he talked about bringing the U.S.-Russia relationship back to normal."

Putin's comments only reinforced the opinions of those who embraced allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election as fact and concluded that Putin had some sort of hold over Trump. Trump's continuous praise of Putin's leadership style only reinforced these concerns.

Even before he was inaugurated, Trump singled out Putin's refusal to respond in kind to President Obama's levying of sanctions based upon the assessment of the U.S. intelligence community that Russia had interfered in the election. "Great move on delay (by V. Putin) – I always knew he was very smart!" Trump Tweeted . Trump viewed the Obama sanctions as an effort to sabotage any chance of a Trump administration repairing relations with Russia, and interpreted Putin's refusal to engage, despite being pressured to do so by the Russian Parliament and Foreign Ministry, as a recognition of the same.

This sense of providing political space in the face of domestic pressure worked both ways. In January 2018, Putin tried to shield his relationship with President Trump by calling the release of a list containing some 200 names of persons close to the Russian government by the U.S. Treasury Department as a hostile and "stupid" move .

"Ordinary Russian citizens, employees and entire industries are behind each of those people and companies," Putin remarked. "So all 146 million people have essentially been put on this list. What is the point of this? I don't understand."

From the Russian perspective, the list highlighted the reality that the U.S. viewed the entire Russian government as an enemy and is a byproduct of the "political paranoia" on the part of U.S. lawmakers. The consequences of this, senior Russian officials warned, "will be toxic and undermine prospects for cooperation for years ahead."

While President Trump entered office fully intending to " get along with Russia ," including the possibility of relaxing the Obama-era sanctions , the reality of U.S.-Russian relations, especially as viewed from Congress, has been the strengthening of the Obama sanctions regime. These sanctions, strengthened over time by new measures signed off by Trump, have had a negative impact on the Russian economy, slowing growth and driving away foreign investment .

While Putin continued to show constraint in the face of these mounting sanctions, the recent targeting of Russia's energy sector represented a bridge too far. When Saudi pressure to cut oil production rates coincided with a global reduction in the demand for oil brought on by the Coronavirus crisis, Russia struck.

The timing of the Russian action is curious, especially given the amount of speculation that there was some sort of personal relationship between Trump and Putin that the Russian leader sought to preserve and carry over into a potential second term. But Putin had, for some time now, been signaling that his patience with Trump had run its course. When speaking to the press in June 2019 about the state of U.S.-Russian relations, Putin noted that "They (our relations) are going downhill, they are getting worse and worse," adding that "The current [i.e., Trump] administration has approved, in my opinion, several dozen decisions on sanctions against Russia in recent years."

By launching an oil price war on the eve of the American Presidential campaign season, Putin has sent as strong a signal as possible that he no longer views Trump as an asset, if in fact he ever did. Putin had hoped Trump could usher in positive change in the trajectory of relations between the two nations; this clearly had not happened. Instead, in the words of close Putin ally Igor Sechin , the chief executive of Russian oil giant Rosneft, the U.S. was using its considerable energy resources as a political weapon, ushering in an era of "power colonialism" that sought to expand U.S. oil production and market share at the expense of other nations.

From Russia's perspective, the growth in U.S. oil production -- which doubled in output from 2011 until 2019 -- and the emergence of the U.S. as a net exporter of oil, was directly linked to the suppression of oil export capability in nations such as Venezuela and Iran through the imposition of sanctions. While this could be tolerated when the target was a third party, once the U.S. set its sanctioning practices on Russian energy, the die was cast.

If the goal of the Russian-driven price war is to make U.S. shale companies "share the pain," they have already succeeded. A similar price war, initiated by Saudi Arabia in 2014 for the express purpose of suppressing U.S. shale oil production, failed, but only because investors were willing to prop up the stricken shale producers with massive loans and infusion of capital. For shale oil producers, who use an expensive methodology of extraction known as "fracking," to be economically viable, the breakeven price of oil per barrel needs to be between $40 and $60 dollars. This was the price range the Saudi's were hoping to sustain when they proposed the cuts in oil production that Russia rejected.

The U.S. shale oil producers, saddled by massive debt and high operational expenses, will suffer greatly in any sustained oil price war. Already, with the price of oil down to below $35 per barrel, there is talk of bankruptcy and massive job layoffs -- none of which bode well for Trump in the coming election.

It's clear that Russia has no intention of backing off anytime soon. According to the Russian Finance Ministry , said on Russia could weather oil prices of $25-30 per barrel for between six and ten years. One thing is for certain -- U.S. shale oil companies cannot.

In a sign that the Trump administration might be waking up to the reality of the predicament it faces, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin quietly met with Russia's Ambassador to the U.S., Anatoly Antonov. According to a read out from the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the two discussed economic sanctions, the Venezuelan economy, and the potential for "trade and investment." Mnuchin, the Russians noted, emphasized the "importance of orderly energy markets."

Russia is unlikely to fold anytime soon. As Admiral Josh Painter, a character in Tom Clancy's "The Hunt for Red October," famously said , "Russians don't take a dump without a plan."

Russia didn't enter its current course of action on a whim. Its goals are clearly stated -- to defeat U.S. shale oil -- and the costs of this effort, both economically and politically (up to and including having Trump lose the 2020 Presidential election) have all been calculated and considered in advance. The Russian Bear can only be toyed with for so long without generating a response. We now know what that response is; when the Empire strikes back, it hits hard.

Scott Ritter is a former Marine Corps intelligence officer who served in the former Soviet Union implementing arms control treaties, in the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Storm, and in Iraq overseeing the disarmament of WMD. He is the author of several books, including his forthcoming, Scorpion King: America's Embrace of Nuclear Weapons From FDR to Trump (2020).

[Mar 16, 2020] Conswqunces of outsourcing the medical equipment and pharmaceutical supply chain to a different country are acutly felt during pandemic by Jason Morgan

Mar 16, 2020 |
| ... ... ...

As the disease spread around Asia and then the world, however, the news focus gradually shifted, so that now many are questioning the wisdom of having so unthinkingly globalized everything and made so many industries -- including the medical industry -- dependent on a place like the People's Republic of China. "What is it like to shoot oneself in the foot?" is yet another question that has been bubbling up uncomfortably these past few weeks.

Outsourcing the medical equipment and pharmaceutical supply chain to a hostile communist dictatorship with perhaps the worst public health record on the planet is the equivalent of the Army Corps of Engineers' having put the emergency generators for the storm pumps at the bottoms of the levees, where they would be the first to flood during a hurricane. But globalists, like government engineers, are incapable of learning from mistakes. In fact, in their minds, disasters serve perversely to confirm the advisability of their follies. Which leads normal people to wonder, "What is going on in the globalist's mind?"

What, in other words, is it like to be a globalist? This is a question worth asking, because the answer will determine very much in the months and years ahead. Unless we can figure out how the globalist looks at the world, we will continue to be at his mercy, and will continue to face pandemics and crises that are the precipitate of his ideology. We have got to understand who these people are who have taken over our every doing, our every coming and going. Otherwise, we will keep getting done in by them.

... ... ...

Jason Morgan is associate professor at Reitaku University in Kashiwa, Japan.

Putin Apologist an hour ago • edited

China: 1.4 billion with 3,099 deaths over a period of months

Italy: 80 million and 1,809 deaths over a period of weeks

Yet China has the "worst public health record on the planet"? Really?

Amicus Brevis 30 minutes ago • edited
"But globalists, like government engineers, are incapable of learning from mistakes. "

Is this supposed to be a serious statement? The piece is clearly written for the amusement of people for whom he has very little respect otherwise it would not contain so many nonsensical generalization. I dare he or anyone to provide a definition of a "globalist" which does not make nonsense of that claim.

Outsourcing the medical equipment and pharmaceutical supply chain to a hostile communist dictatorship with perhaps the worst public health record on the planet is the equivalent of the Army Corps of Engineers' having put the emergency generators for the storm pumps at the bottoms of the levees, where they would be the first to flood during a hurricane.

I really would like to know what is Professor Morgan's specialty. He should know that China is not a Communist country. Just because they choose to call themselves that doesn't mean that a professor anything remotely connected to politics, government or economics would be fooled. And where one puts a factory to manufacture goods, bears no relationship whatsoever with how that country deploys those goods among its own population. The piece is not serious. It is political entertainment. And for those who assume that criticizing the rigor of a piece is the same as supporting whatever the piece is attacking, I am 100% against what the writer seems to mean when he refers to "globalism". I personally consider our monied class who shipped American jobs wherever they could find semi-slave labor to be literally traitors. So, I have very strong views on "globalism". I just dislike the disrespect shown by writers who think that they can write any nonsense, once they show that they hate the same things that their audience hates, all in the search for cheap applause. Writers should treat their readers like thinking beings, not like an audience at a bullfight who are expected to howl with applause once you wave the red flag around and shed enough blood.

That won't do, either, though. China is a place, too! In swoops the World Health Organization (the aptly acronymed WHO?): it's COVID-19 now.

A much more serious comment would be about how China bullied WHO into expressing far more confidence in China's published numbers that it had any basis for expressing. How it lavished praise on China's handling of the outbreak rather than South Korea's excellent management in their country. But educated people know what WHO is and the excellent work they do all over the world. Of the millions of lives they have saved all over the world. And that they are empowered by the governments of the world to name new viruses. That every decent person in the world knows that country names attached to diseases can generate persecution of people which is not a good thing, regardless against whom it is directed. The WHO did not name the virus at the request of China. That is one of its normal functions.

This piece is nothing short of absurd hate mongering.

[Mar 16, 2020] 'Grotesque Level of Greed'

Mar 16, 2020 |

Owned by World's Richest Man Jeff Bezos, Whole Foods Wants Workers to Pay for Colleagues' Sick Leave During Coronavirus Pandemic

Remember when Jeff Bezos, whose company owns Whole Foods, said he was so freakin' rich he didn't know how to spend his money so, heck, he'd start a space program?

-- Alex Kotch (@alexkotch) March 13, 2020

[Mar 16, 2020] The Man Who Sold the World Ronald Reagan and the Betrayal of Main Street America Kleinknecht, William 9781568584423 Amazon.

Notable quotes:
"... Kleinknecht also spares little on showing just how disengaged Reagan was, and how rich tycoons used this to their advantage. At the same time, along the lines of Paul Kennedy in "The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers," Kleinknecht notes that, even before Reagan's election, these tycoons were already more corporate raiders, looking to make money off various forms of cooking or tricking out company books, than they were corporate builders reinvesting in their companies. ..."
Mar 16, 2020 |

This title is from an award-winning journalist, a major work of reporting and history that shatters the myth of Ronald Reagan. Since Ronald Reagan left office - and after his death especially - his influence has loomed over American life. Singled out for his 'courage, his kindness, his persistence, his honesty, and his almost heroic patience in the face of setbacks', a number of conservatives, from the late William Buckley to his former speechwriter Peggy Noonan to Republican nominee John McCain have looked to Reagan as a figure to regenerate the American conservative tradition as the Bush White House stumbles through crisis and scandal. This carefully calibrated image is a complete fiction, however.

The Reagan presidency was epoch-shattering, but not - as his propagandists would have it - because it invigorated private enterprise, toppled the Berlin Wall or made America feel strong again. Rather what gives Reagan such an awesome legacy is that he presided over the dismantling of one of the greatest social experiments in human history-an eight-decade period of reform in which working people were given an unprecedented sway over US politics, economy, and culture. Reagan halted this forward march toward democracy almost overnight.

In "The Man Who Sold the World", journalist William Kleinknecht explores Middle America and shows how Reaganism put the poor and working class back on the margins of everything except the basest popular culture. This scathing indictment of the Reagan legacy is the first comprehensive book to deal seriously with Ronald Reagan's place in contemporary America. Just as Americans are trying to grapple with the legacy of George W. Bush, "The Man Who Sold the World" shows how poorly we understand Reagan's.

Paul , Reviewed in the United States on October 11, 2016

If only more people knew the extent of the damage ...

If only more people knew the extent of the damage this man did to our country! I don't have time to write a long review, but this book takes an exhaustive look at every spectrum of the domestic policies that this laissez-faire, trickle-down, invisible hand of the free market president unleashed on Americans. And it doesn't even touch on Iran-Contra or the multiple despotic dictators he propped up or supported in Central America. 8 people found this helpful Helpful

Amazon Customer , Reviewed in the United States on March 7, 2013
A Small Glimmer of Truth

Since studying business and law in graduate school, every search for solutions to our policy problems has led me back to the changes made under Reagan. The sad truth is, his presidency was probably the most destructive in our history. If only more people would open their eyes to the truth about what he did to our society and our economy. Both our social battles and our declining economy are his legacies.

S. J. Snyder , Reviewed in the United States on April 9, 2010
Good book with a GREAT "hook"

Since a lot of conservatives like to claim Reagan did so much to help small towns' Main Street, and since Reagan himself pitched myths about that, Kleinknecht starts the book off with a brilliant conceit.

He actually visits Reagan's small-town birthplace of Dixon, Ill., and talks to people there about how it has changed since 1980. That includes people who say they'll only talk to him if not asked to comment negatively on Reagan - which is, itself, an indirect negative comment on Reagan!

Kleinknecht then supplements that with data from the Department of Labor, Department of Commerce, etc., showing just what Reagan did do to, and NOT "for," Dixon and by extension, other small towns.

Kleinknecht also spares little on showing just how disengaged Reagan was, and how rich tycoons used this to their advantage. At the same time, along the lines of Paul Kennedy in "The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers," Kleinknecht notes that, even before Reagan's election, these tycoons were already more corporate raiders, looking to make money off various forms of cooking or tricking out company books, than they were corporate builders reinvesting in their companies.

Kleinknecht then goes beyond that, showing that many conservatives, including economist Hayek (Hey, Milton Friedman, you didn't study him well enough!) warned about the perils of such unbridled "capitalism."

At a time when "conservatives" today bash lower-middle-class people for paying little to know income tax, while failing to point out massive companies like Reagan sponsor GM do the same on the corporate side, this reminder that conservativism is more than, and different from, what some talking heads today claim, is important.

That said, Kleinknecht cuts Jimmy Carter a bit too much slack and Bill Clinton a lot too much. I'm reminded of one of Clinton's first lies, IMO, where he said, with mock surprise, (not exact quote), "You mean my economic program is hostage to the bond market?" Yes, he was cleaning up parts of the Reagan deficit mess old man Bush hadn't fully tidied. But, he was too close to Jackson Stephens to really be surprised. Ditto for Congressional Democratic leadership, beyond the increasingly frail Tip O'Neill, in the Reagan era. (This means you, Jim Wright.)

This really is, though, at least a 4/5 star book. Ignore the 1-star reviews.

[Mar 16, 2020] Situation with COVID-19 on campuses

Mar 16, 2020 |

Sophy , March 14, 2020 at 11:43 am

Everything the CDC has been doing has been shocking. As a health care provider I just don't want to even look at their recommendations anymore: their information is months old and not based in science, let alone current research on COVID-19.

Local colleges have been shutting down but forcing instructors to go to the schools – that's not social distancing. And many are still having students in EMT, nursing, psychology, physical therapy, and other health sciences, go to their clinicals, where they will be exposed without adequate personal protection equipment. This is because of the CDC. And admin's greed for money.

Anon , March 14, 2020 at 1:41 pm

My local community college, after implementing/pleading with students to incorporate careful hygiene and social distancing into their time on campus, and seeing minimal compliance, decided to make ALL lecture classes online access for the next 3 weeks (at least). We have no known Covid-19 cases in the COUNTY. (But since testing is not extant, or common, no one knows what the true situation is.)

The goal of moving to online class instruction is to minimize the number of students (15K total) on campus and limit contact with older instructors, counselors, and other staff. Lab classes (PE, Science) will continue under strict personal contact protocol. The solution is a compromise between health issues and the need for students to complete 80% of course curricula to get transferable college credits. We'll see if the gamble works out.

Closing K-12 schools is a "no win" situation. Some parents want them closed, others don't. In Los Angeles the school district decided to close from pressure by the teachers labor union. Again, few kids understand/implement the protocols of social distancing and smaller home groups may be the better option (for some). Meals for disadvantaged students will continue at the LAUSD (~500K students), but they will be drive-thru pick-up.

It appears the pandemic could bring even the invincible US to its knees.

Jack Parsons , March 15, 2020 at 12:11 am

Children are all super-spreaders. There is no good argument for schools to be open.

[Mar 15, 2020] Your country under neoliberalism: The CDC tested only 77 people this week for coronavirus.

Mar 15, 2020 |

According to Amazon's rankings, Camus' The Plague is now #7 in the Self-Help & Psychology Humor category, which is an irony Camus himself probably couldn't have gotten away with

+ The for-profit health care system in the US is already starting to crack under the pressure and the virus hasn't even really hit yet

+ Pence promised 8 million tests by the end of the week, but according to Lamar Alexander: "We are going to work as hard as we can to push this administration to continue to ramp up the number of tests but the reality is..they do not yet have the tests available and can't give us a date." South Korea, where the virus appeared about the same time it did in US, is testing 10,000 a day and has been for nearly a month.

+ Your country under neoliberalism: The CDC tested only 77 people this week for coronavirus.

+ Here in Oregon, the state health lab only has the capacity to perform 80 tests a day but that's still more than the CDC did all week.

+ Another sign of the impending crisis (and that ObamaCare was a disaster): The number of hospital beds in the US has fallen by 5% over the last ten years .

+ The US (pop. 330 million) has fewer hospital beds than Italy (pop. 60 million) and South Korea (pop. 51 million). And many of those are unaffordable for most people. Winning!

+ Larry Kudlow, who missed the great recession, "The virus is contained!"

+ On Weds night Sanjay Gupta asked CNN's Don Lemon to read the CDC's coronavirus testing stats off of his phone.

ZERO tests conducted today by CDC.

A grand total of 8 tests conducted by other public health agencies across the country.


+ The Republican Governor for Ohio Mike DeWine confirmed on Thursday that only 1,000 tests are available to 11.69 million citizens who live in the Buckeye State. He further said that projections are that more than 100,000 Ohioans will be infected with the coronavirus

+ The projections for NYC are sobering, to say the least

(1/11) The #NYC Region is in trouble. Our #COVID19 case load is growing so quickly that we risk running out of hospital beds in UNDER TWO WEEKS. To avoid a crisis at our hospitals, we need to act now. 1,200 hospital beds are not enough. @BilldeBlasio @NYCSpeakerCoJo @NYGovCuomo

-- Michael Donnelly (@donnellymjd) March 12, 2020

+ Rebecca Nagle: "Look, I fully support banning travel from Europe to prevent the spread of infectious disease. I just think it's 528 years too late."

+ Matt "Gas Mask" Gaetz, one of the most ridiculous buffoons in a Congress filled with them, voted against paid sick leave. Now he's taking it , because he was exposed to COVID-19.

+ The Cuban health care system, whose doctors are even now in China testing interferon-based drugs against the virus, is going to look better and better to people in the US, as the COVID-19 does its thing here. Even the Miami Cuban nutcases may be singing Fidel's praises before this is over .

+ Maybe Jay Inslee (who promised tests would be "free") is a " snake " after all

Maybe Inslee (who promised tests would be "free") is a "snake" after all

Posted by Jeffrey St Clair on Thursday, March 12, 2020

+ The Senate won't take up House coronavirus bill until after its recess. "The Senate will act when we come back and we have a clearer idea of what extra steps we need to take," Sen. Lamar Alexander told reporters What if they never come back? One can hope

+ Why the Senate is refusing to act on COVID-19: "A key sticking point in the talks appears to be GOP demands to include Hyde amendment language in the bill to prevent federal funds from being used for abortion " Priorities, priorities

+ Joe Biden: "I don't like the Supreme Court decision on abortion. I think it went too far. I don't think that a woman has the sole right to say what should happen to her body." (Biden said this in 2006 , not 1976.)

+ The World Health Organization has announced that dogs cannot contract Covid-19. Dogs previously held in quarantine can now be released. WHO let the dogs out! (The jokes will only get worse, as the virus spreads.)

+ To wit: Always scrub your hands like you just shook hands with the President

+ Come back, Marianne, your country (if not your lamentable party) needs you!

Uh, maybe we should cancel that order for 100 B-21 Raiders all equipped with nuclear bombs at the rate of $560M each, and use the money instead to pay for free testing and coronavirus treatment We need to change our thinking about all this, do it quickly, and speak it loudly.

-- Marianne Williamson (@marwilliamson) March 12, 2020

+ From The Plague:

"What on earth prompted you to take a hand in this, doctor?"

"I don't know. My my code of morals, perhaps."

"Your code of morals. What code, if I may ask?"


+ According to Amazon's rankings, Camus' The Plague is now #7 in the Self-Help & Psychology Humor category, which is an irony Camus himself probably couldn't have gotten away with. A viral pandemic is apparently what it takes to get Americans to read French existentialist literature

+ "Carbon Joe" Biden's entire climate change plan is budgeted at $1.7 trillion. The Fed just dropped that much on Wall Street in a single day without any public input

+ And they said we "can't afford" national health care!

[Mar 15, 2020] Priorities of the top one percent are not priorities of the bottom ninety-nice percent

Mar 15, 2020 |

Uh, maybe we should cancel that order for 100 B-21 Raiders all equipped with nuclear bombs at the rate of $560M each, and use the money instead to pay for free testing and coronavirus treatment We need to change our thinking about all this, do it quickly, and speak it loudly.

-- Marianne Williamson (@marwilliamson) March 12, 2020

[Mar 15, 2020] The Jack Ma Foundation has just donated 500,000 testing kits and 1 million masks to America. The Chinese have also sent aid to Italy.

Mar 15, 2020 |

The Rev Kev , March 14, 2020 at 6:53 am

Just to underline the incompetency of neoliberalism, the Jack Ma Foundation has just donated 500,000 testing kits and 1 million masks to America. One guy on twitter said-

'Many will welcome this. Some will see it as an insult. The real insult is that the richest country in the world has waged war on science and as a result is finding itself helpless..'

The real tragedy is this. Iran has been covering up the large number of their Coronavirus deaths in the past few weeks until satellite images showed mass burial sites outside their cities. Through gross negligence, the US has also been covering up the infiltration of Coronavirus in America and trying to cover it all up in the same manner.

So in a few months time, will the Russian and Chinese be releasing images of mass burial sites on the American mainland that the Trump government will seek to hide?

BillS , March 14, 2020 at 7:25 am

The Chinese have also sent aid to Italy.

The EU and USA were notable in their absence. To be fair, the EU has promised assistance, but the Germans and Lagarde are still stumbling around with the conditions that they want to attach.

Neoliberal overlords don't give up easily.

[Mar 15, 2020] The Real Crisis Of neoliberalism Starts Now In Europe

Mar 15, 2020 |

Profile picture for user Tyler Durden by Tyler Durden Sun, 03/15/2020 - 09:20 Authored by Tom Luongo via Gold, Goats, 'n Guns blog,

I think it's safe to say the new crisis just killed the Schengen Treaty. That ridiculous document which guaranteed freedom of movement across the European Union finally hit something it couldn't bully, COVID-19. Regardless of whether you believe the pandemic is real or not, the reaction to it is real and is having real consequence far beyond the latest print of the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

The lockdown of Italy isn't a temporary thing. Oh, the suspension of free movement is temporary, but it portends something far bigger.

It's the beginning of the real political balkanization that's coming to the European Union over the next few years. Old enmities and prejudices have not been stamped out under the boot heel of oppressive legislation coming from a bunch of disconnected technocrats in Brussels.

They have only been suppressed.

Because when there are existential threats there's no time or desire to virtue signal about how we're all one big happy dysfunctional family. 1 minute ago The thing is most people at Zerohedge have no idea about the reality in Germany and the other European countries and the psychicological robustness of its people. This crisis is nothing compared to the catastrophies of the 20th century. In times of challenge one can see who is strong and effective and acting in solidarity. And this is it what the extended Euroland is going to show soon. A masterplan for Euroland how to overcome this Corona problems. It takes time to adopt but things do move already in the right direction. Banning travel is a harsh measure but the right thing in this situation.

The economy will take a deep dip but there will be no catastrophy. Even when Deutsche Bank should go down that would impact the situation only in the financial markets. But luckily Euroland has a worldclass manufacturing and agricultural sector, plus there is the ECB owned by Eurolands member states.

So there is money, there is food, there is production, there are raw materials as well as energy available from Russia,.. Europe is world leader in renewable energy and recycling of waste materials., ..

So nothIng to worry about in principle. Its only one real danger, the Anglo Saxon Jewish dominated financial sector and the MIC which is still dreaming about world domination. I hope their dream is shattered soon. 12 minutes ago Thanks Tom..

But we won't comment and why?

Because the cause of the crisis is still not being addressed..

Corona of virus is simply an accelerant to a serious problem..

And that's all we'll say... 43 minutes ago Old enmities and prejudices have not been stamped out .... This has been said a thousand times across EU social media and comments in national press in developed member states. Particularly during Brexit. That the EU was flawed from the start in imagining the ******, pretend EU would ever; by adopting developed EU rules and regulations, even begin to match up to the Real EU. Pretend EU would only ever pretend - many nothing more than 1st generation democracies. So the elite in the ****** EU hand picked who was to lead that ministry or council and then all levels of locally elite society and their friends and families were greased by jobs in the bloated public sector. Now Germany is supposed to keep this "Noses in the Trough" nonsense going!

It is mind blowing to realise the damage to the EU the 'Contra os Bretoes' EU retards have done in victimising the British! The UK - an advanced G7 country with many centuries of history of sorting out, at great loss to its citizens and economy, European squabbles - long before the US was encouraged to get involved as well.

UK Remainers need to focus their efforts on the ****** EU crashing (or being crashed) out and the UK rejoining the EU and helping make the EU work the way it was sold to us British decades ago. 44 minutes ago Feudal-Vassalism it is, extended into
The situation in Greece has been for about a decade worse off than in Gaza.

[Mar 15, 2020] Coronavirus update reason for alarm; (small) reason for hope

Mar 15, 2020 |
  1. likbez , March 15, 2020 11:57 am

    As Otto von Bismarck noted "God has a special providence for fools, drunkards, and the United States of America."

    That's a reason for hope.

    But there are multiple reasons for despair (hoarding epidemics has shown how brainwashed people are with neoliberal rationality)

    The neoliberal society with its twisted guiding philosophy of radical individualism and competition combined with a supremacist "that could never happen here" attitude quickly falls into panicked chaos when reality kicks in and reveals the society's underlying vulnerabilities.

    Countries with weak social safety nets and an ideological opposition to social responsibility are extremely vulnerable to systemic breakdown when their societies are hit with unexpected stress.

    That is what we see in the USA. This virus is revealing just how ineffective the neoliberal Social Darwinism ("every man for himself") ethic (aka "neoliberal rationality") is and how deeply in denial and out of touch with reality these societies are. Including first of all neoliberal politicians (aka Washington swamp rats)

    Casino capitalism economics is fragile and huge shocks are possible.

[Mar 15, 2020] The Companies Putting Profits Ahead of Public Health

Mar 14, 2020 |

As the coronavirus spreads, the public interest requires employers to abandon their longstanding resistance to paid sick leave.

By The Editorial Board

The editorial board is a group of opinion journalists whose views are informed by expertise, research, debate and certain longstanding values . It is separate from the newsroom.

Most American restaurants do not offer paid sick leave. Workers who fall sick face a simple choice: Work and get paid or stay home and get stiffed. Not surprisingly, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in 2014 that fully 20 percent of food service workers had come to work at least once in the previous year " while sick with vomiting or diarrhea ."

As the new coronavirus spreads across the United States, the time has come for restaurants, retailers and other industries that rely on low-wage labor to abandon their parsimonious resistance to paid sick leave. Companies that do not pay sick workers to stay home are endangering their workers, their customers and the health of the broader public. Studies show that paying for sick employees to stay home significantly reduces the spread of the seasonal flu. There's every reason to think it would help to check the new coronavirus, too.

[Mar 15, 2020] Our Neo-Feudal System Is on the Verge of Collapse by Michael Hudson

Mar 15, 2020 |

Michael Hudson: [00:00:00] There's recognition that commercial banking has become dysfunctional and that most loans by commercial banks are either against assets – in which case the lending inflates the prices of real estate, stocks and bonds – or for corporate takeover loans.

The economy's low-income brackets have not been helped by today's financial system. Here in New York City, red lining and a visceral class hatred by high finance toward the poor characterized the major banks. From the very top to the bottom, they were very clear they were not going to lend to places with racial minorities like the Lower East Side. The Chase Manhattan Bank told me that the reason was explicitly ethnic, and they didn't want to deal with poor people.

A lot of people in these neighborhoods used to have savings banks. There were 135 mutual savings banks in New York City with names like the Bowery Savings Banks, the Dime Savings Bank, the Immigrant Savings Bank. As their names show, they were specifically to serve the low-income neighborhoods. But in the 1980s the commercial banks convinced the mutual savings banks to let themselves be raided. Their capital reserves of the savings banks, was just looted by Wall Street. The depositors' equity was stripped away (leaving their deposits, to be sure). Sheila Bair, former head of the FDIC, told me that the commercial banks' cover story was that they were large enough to provide more capital reserves to lend for low-income neighborhoods. The reality was that instead, they simply extracted revenue from these neighborhoods. Large parts of the largest cities in America, from Chicago and New York to others, are underbanked because of the transformation of commercial banks from providers of mortgages to emptiers-out, just revenue collectors. That leaves the main recourse in these neighborhoods to pay-day lenders at usurious interest rates. These lenders have become major new customers for Wall Street bankers, not the poor who have no comparable access to credit.

Apart from the savings banks, of course, you had the post office banks. When I went to work on Wall Street in the 1960s, 3 percent of U.S. savings were in the form of post office savings. The advantage, of course, is that post offices were in every neighborhood. So you actually had either a local community banking like savings banks – not like today's community banks, which are commercial banks, lending largely to real estate speculators to capitalize rental apartments into heavily mortgaged co-ops with much higher financial carrying charges – or you had post offices. You now have a deprivation of basic bank services in much of the economy, combined with an increasingly dysfunctional and predatory commercial banking system.

The question is, what's going to happen next time there's a bank crash? Sheila Bair wrote about after the 2008 crash that the most corrupt bank was Citibank – not only corrupt, but incompetent. She had wanted to take it over. But Obama and his Secretary of the Treasury, Tim Geithner, acted as lobbyists for Citibank from the beginning, protecting it from being taken over. But imagine what would have happened if Citibank would have been become a public bank – or other banks that are about to have negative equity if there is a downturn in the stock and bond and real estate market. Imagine what will happen if they were turned into public banks. They would be able to provide the kind of credit that the commercial banking system has refused to provide – credit to blacks, Hispanics and poor people that have just been red-lined in what is becoming a financially polarized dual economy, one for the wealthy and one for everyone else.

Walt McRee: [00:04:10] Well, power in that realm, of course, lies with the banking cartel. They look at public banks as a threat. They hate competition of any sort, it seems.

Michael Hudson: [00:04:18] Of course it is a threat.

Walt McRee: [00:04:22] And even when we say, Michael, that we're not going after the business you're already doing because you aren't lending to small, medium enterprises and so forth – we want to take on the infrastructure that you don't want to fund, but they still are pushing back. How will we be able to get past that?

Michael Hudson: [00:04:40] I think you should say that of course you're not going to take business away from them, because the public community bank or government-owned bank would not make corporate takeover loans or speculative derivative bets. It would not create the dysfunctional credit and debt overhead that has been expanding ever since 1999 when the Clinton administration changed the banking rules.

The problem is that the big commercial banks don't want the productive kind of loans that public banking would make. For instance, the reason they didn't want to extend credit to the Lower East Side or the Hudson Yards west side of New York was they wanted to sort of drive out their residents and gentrify it, by providing the money to the big developers who socially bulldoze these neighborhoods. Their policy is to kick out as many low-income renters or owners as they can, and replace them by raising rents from like $50 a month to $5,000 a month. That's what's happened on the Lower East Side from the time I first lived there to what rents are today.

There is a fight of the economy's unproductive sector against people who want to use credit in a productive way that actually helps the economy. I think it's a fight between good and evil, at least between the productive and unproductive economy, between economics for the people and economics for the One Percent.


Ellen Brown: [00:06:14] I wonder, though, if the Fed is going to even allow the banks to collapse again, with what they just did with the repo market. They can step in at any time to save anybody. I don't know that Congress, even has a say in it. What do you think?

Michael Hudson: [00:06:30] I think that's right. I've talked to Paul Craig Roberts and we discuss whether they can just keep on keeping these zombie banks alive. Can they keep the over-indebted zombie economy alive by the Federal Reserve manipulating the forward stock and bond markets to support prices? It doesn't actually have to buy stocks and bonds beyond the $4 trillion it's already put into Quantitative Easing. It can simply make manipulate the forward market. That doesn't really cost any money until the big crash comes. So I think one should have a discussion over what President Trump says is a boom that that he's created, with the stock market going up. Does that mean that the economy is getting richer? Are we fine with commercial banking the way it is, so that we don't need public banking?

I think you have to expose the fact that what's happened is artificial state intervention. What we have in the name of free market support of the banks is not a free market at all. It's a highly centralized market to support the predatory financial sector's wealth against the rest of the economy. The financial sector's wealth takes the form of credit to the rest of the economy, extracting interest and amortization, while making loans simply to increase asset prices for real estate and financial securities, not put new means of production in place to employ labor. So you have to go beyond the public banking issue as such, and look at the political context. Ultimately, the way that you defend public banking is to show how the economy works and how public banking could play a positive role in the economy as it should work.

Ellen Brown: [00:08:14] Can you explain what you meant by forward lending? I mean, they don't have to

Michael Hudson: [00:08:19] It's not forward lending, it's buying long. For the stock market's Dow Jones average, they'll contract to buy all its stocks or those in the S&P 500 in one month, or one week or whatever the timeframe is, for X amount – say, 2% over what they're selling today. Well, once the plunge protection team issues a guarantee to buy, the market is going to raise the bid prices for these stocks up to what the Fed and the Treasury have promised to pay for them. By the time the prices go up, the Fed doesn't actually have to buy these stocks, because everybody's anticipated that the Fed would buy them at this 2 percent gain. So it's a self-fulfilling prophecy. We're dealing with a government run by the banks and the creditor powers to artificially raise asset prices, on credit. This has kept alive a system that represents itself as creating prosperity. But it's not creating prosperity for the 99 Percent. Public banking would aim at prosperity for the 99 Percent, not just for the One Percent.

Ellen Brown: [00:09:46] I'm writing about Mexico's AMLO, who is now who has just announced in January that he will be building 2,700 branches of a public bank in the next two years. He's expecting 13,000 branches ultimately, so it will be the largest bank in the country. His reasoning is just what you're saying, that the banks have failed and have not serviced the poor. His mandate is to help the poor, and he can't do that if they don't have banking services.

Michael Hudson: [00:10:17] Is that national?

Ellen Brown: [00:10:18] Yes, all across the country.

Walt McRee: [00:10:22] "Loprabrador", AMLO. So we know that a public monetary source is a public utility. Our vision is to create a network of local and state public banks. That leads us to the view that what we really need to be targeting is the Federal Reserve, to ultimately turn it into a publicly-owned entity. Is that folly or

Michael Hudson: [00:10:55] I think the way to get people to support this is if they understand how the Federal Reserve was created. A few years ago I published an article in an Indian economic journal (I think it's on my website), about how the Federal Reserve was created. [1] "How the U.S. Treasury avoided Chronic Deflation by Relinquishing Monetary Control to Wall Street," Economic & Political Weekly (India), May 7, 2016. Available on Naked Capitalism an There was a fight by Wall Street led by J.P. Morgan. America had a central bank until 1913 – the Treasury. Until 1913 the Treasury was doing everything that the Federal Reserve began to do. The idea of creating the Federal Reserve was to take power away from the Treasury. The Treasury wasn't even allowed to be on the board as an owner of Federal Reserve stock. The idea was to take decision-making away from Washington, away from democratic politics, and insulate the financial system from the democratic political system by turning control over to the corporate financial centers -- Wall Street, Chicago, and the other Federal Reserve districts. They were the same districts as those that the Treasury already had divided the country into. Remember, these were the decades leading up to World War I when there was a social democratic revolution from Europe to the United States. A guiding idea was to democratize banking.

Wall Street very quickly developed a counter strategy to this. And the counter strategy was the Federal Reserve. You're welcome to republish my article on your site. You and I both aim to reverse the counterrevolution mounted against classical economics and social democracy. The entity you're talking about would probably be under the aegis of the Treasury. You'd be putting the economy back in the direction that the world was moving before World War I derailed these efforts.


You talk of nationalizing the Fed. I know people don't like the word nationalizing. How about thing de-privatizing or de-Thatcherizing the Fed? You have to represent the Fed as having stolen economic and financial policy away from the public domain. It became part of the neoliberal project taking form in Austria in the 1930s. You're trying to restore the classical economic vision of productive versus unproductive credit, productive versus unproductive labor, and public money as opposed to private money. These distinctions were erased by the censorial neoliberal counter-revolution.

It's not that you're radical, that these people had a radical revolution to carve away the financial system from democracy. And you're restoring the classical vision of democratizing, re-democratizing finance and banking.

Walt McRee: [00:14:12] I want to thank you for saying that, Michael, because de-privatizing the Federal Reserve is so much more accurate and powerful. You'll recall that we kind of exchanged a phrase when I said "institutionalized deception.". I think that's really important. But let's say that prior to that, Stephanie Kelton gets in there, or somebody from the MMT crowd gets into a new administration prior to de-privatizing the Fed. Does MMT have a place to play or to emerge in that environment?

Michael Hudson: [00:14:55] Of course, and here's the role: You can leave the commercial banks to do what they're doing, but you're not going to provide Federal Reserve credit for them to load down the economy with unproductive debt. The question is, if you're going to create real community banking via a public banking sector, where will it get the money to lend out? How do we provide money to the red-lined areas of the economy to actually finance tangible capital investment and people's living needs, not just predatory lending? The way that MMT comes in is much like the Chicago plan for one hundred percent reserves. These community banks will need Treasury-created depository credit beyond the deposits they raise in their local areas.

They need more money. MMT will provide credit to these banks in exchange for their loan originations of a productive character, on terms that borrowers can afford, with realistic mortgages also to build public housing. The new Fed that we're talking about will be a major depositor and will provider of the capital deposits and reserves to the banks. Right now, it has provided $4 trillion of Quantitative Easing credit to the banks, not to put into the economy but only to inflate the stock and bond market and make housing more expensive. Wouldn't it be much better to provide credit to community banks that actually would make credit available for productive economic purposes – and not for takeover loans, stock buybacks and asset speculation?

Productive credit was what everybody expected banking to develop in the late 19th century. Germany and Central Europe were leading the way. It was called Middle Europa banking, as opposed to Anglo-American banking. (I discuss this contrast in Killing the Host .) That was essentially following the classical model, as everybody expected banking to evolve prior to World War I.

Ellen Brown: [00:17:29] Cool. That's totally what I also wrote about in my latest book. The Federal Reserve is where you should be getting credit, so you don't have to borrow it from somewhere else. Everybody thinks this whole repo thing is so contrived. It's re-hypothecated. One party owns the collateral at night, the other party owns it during the day. It's all just bluff to make it look like they borrowed something that wasn't really there. So let's just acknowledge that all money is just credit. And like you say, if you have a good loan, a good project to be monetized, that's the whole point of a bank. It will turn your future productivity into something you can spend in the marketplace. And the central bank is there to provide the credit.

Michael Hudson: [00:18:21] That's right.

Ellen Brown: [00:18:22] Turn it into dollars.

Michael Hudson: [00:18:24] That's right. My way of describing it is to look at history, to show that this is not a utopian idea. It is what made German and Central European banking so much more productive in the decades leading up to World War I. So we actually have historical examples of good banking versus bad banking. But the predators won in the end.

Ellen Brown: [00:18:53] Well, regarding this whole repo thing, one big problem we have with our public banks is the 110 percent collateralization requirement in California. How is a bank supposed to make loans if it has to use its deposits to buy securities – something safe and yielding low interest to back the deposits? It seems to me that what the big banks do – and I think we could do it, too – is to take those deposits and buy federal securities at 1.5 percent, and then they turn around and use the securities as collateral in the repo market, where they pay 1.5 percent. In other words, they earn 1.5 percent and they pay 1.5 percent. So it's a wash. They get their money for free. I think we could do that, too. Or are only certain players allowed to play that game, and we can't jump in?

Michael Hudson: [00:19:50] Well, you're the lawyer. Of course they could do it. I think one of the things that you and other progressives have recommended is that the Fed should stop paying money to the banks for their reserve deposits. Stop giving them the free giveaway. If you want to say, "We're against the largest welfare recipients in the country. They're not the people you think. They're the Wall Street banks. These hypocrites want to cut back Social Security to balance the budget. They want to cut back medical care and social services, and make themselves the only welfare recipients."

Ellen Brown: [00:20:30] Right, agreed. But if we just stand on our high horse and say this has to change, nothing will happen. We could do it ourselves and just show what you're doing in contrast to what they're doing


Michael Hudson: [00:20:44] You're asking for symmetry. They're making us carry a big load on our back, that they don't have to carry. They're loading the dice in their own favor. You want to unload the dice and stop the insider favoritism. You correctly represent the banks as being insiders. You have to say, "Look, these insiders are trying to keep a monopoly." You could use the anti-monopoly legislation that's been on the books since Teddy Roosevelt's time. You have a lot of legal power to break up the big banks. You could treat them like I think they could treat the pharmaceutical companies if Bernie gets in.

Walt McRee: [00:21:44] Monopolies are being challenged by the shadow banking industry. New forms of payment exchange technologies seem to be eating away at that singular source of credit. What's your prognosis for how that's going to evolve? Will the big banks find a way to clamp down on that ultimately?

Michael Hudson: [00:22:05] Are we talking about cryptocurrency?

Walt McRee: [00:22:07] That would be one example, yes.

Michael Hudson: [00:22:10] Well,. you can't stop people from gambling. People think that buying a cryptocurrency is like buying an Andy Warhol etching. Maybe it'll go up in price if a large number of people want it. But basically, it's junk. It's very speculative. It's certainly not stable. It goes up and down. One day there may be a solar flare that's going to wipe out all the bank records for these things. But there is no way to stop people from doing something that seems to be silly or gambling. You certainly will not insure them. So you will not give them any protection against loss. You also will want to insulate the economy from having any transactions in crypto, in these alternative money things that pose a big threat of loss. They are not real money, because the government will not accept payment of cryptocurrencies as taxes or for public goods and services. The government will only accept specified forms of money. You can create any kind of swap or bet. If you want to create the equivalent of a racetrack on horses. You can do it, but that's a financial racetrack. I think there may be taxes on racetracks. They were unregulated for a long time. But Hollywood movies showed that there's a lot of criminalization going on there.

Walt McRee: [00:23:59] We were all amused, well, maybe a little wondering about Max Kaiser. Ellen and I and Tyson Slokum had some time with him over there just before you were at his Brooklyn studio, but Max is into Bitcoin in a big way, and he sees it as the new gold.

Michael Hudson: [00:24:20] He told me that a lot of people watch his show because they're gold bugs or they are interested in Bitcoin. I think he's tried to take a neutral view of it, certainly in our personal conversations. He's not a gold bug and he's not a Bitcoin or other bug. But he said that a lot of people want to find out about it, so he has guests on his show telling people, "Here it is, take your choice." It's part of the new speculative financial landscape, just like swamps are part of landscape for Florida real estate. So he's going to cover the whole spectrum. Reuters produces his shows, and the audience wants to hear about this. So he talks about what they want to hear.

Ellen Brown: [00:25:20] I think he actually does promote Bitcoin. He's heavily invested in it and he was one of the originals, so he's obviously made a lot of money on it.

Michael Hudson: [00:25:29] Okay.

Ellen Brown: [00:25:29] I think he agrees that it can't be a national currency. It's too slow, too expensive, and too environmentally unfriendly. But like you say, it has been a good investment, just like fine art or something that, if people want it, the value goes up. Plus, there's a big black market for it, for trading and things that you don't want the government to know about.

Michael Hudson: [00:25:57] It's a real phenomenon. I know people who benefited from Andy Warhol. So he saw the phenomenon and he seems to have made money, but when Steve Keen and I and others got together with him for a couple of days two months ago, the topic never came up in discussion.

But gold did. I wonder where the gold of Libya went, for instance. Apparently it was all taken and I understand the US gave it to ISIS. Hillary said it had to go to ISIS to act as our Foreign Legion. We gave them Libya's weapons. Some of the gold must have just been taken by the CIA and State Department for dirty tricks for its black operations. Certainly, America wants to prevent any other country or large gold possessor from having enough gold to try to reinstate it as a means of settling balance-of-payments deficits. America runs a large military deficit, so at a certain point, the more money it spends abroad for its 800 military bases, the more gold it would lose. Just like in General de Gaulle's time during the Vietnam War, although actually Germany was taking more gold than France. So America wants to keep the dollar at the center of the world financial system. That really was why it went to war with Libya, because Libya was one of the first countries to de-dollarize and move its currency toward gold. So you're having a group of countries – Russia, China, Iran and others – add gold to their reserves instead of dollars. You're having a de-dollarization move throughout the world to break free from the US ability to do what it did do Iran.

When Iran borrowed in dollars under the Shah, it used Chase Manhattan Bank as its paying agent. It put enough money into the account to pay its foreign debts service. But then the State Department told Chase to screw Iran and refuse to turn over the payment. Now that the Shah wasn't running Iran, once Chase refused to turn over the payment and froze Iran's account, that meant that Iran went into default on the entire dollarized foreign debt. It was liable for a huge amount of capital.


That was a warning for the rest of the world that no government could safely put its money in an American bank or an American bank branch, or in a British branch that would act as a subsidiary of the Pentagon. Because if you do, the bank can simply force you into default at any time, just like the US CIA can come in and use electronic weaponry to destroy your bank payment-clearing system. That's why the threat of cutting Russia and China and other countries off from the Swift Interbank Clearing System led Russia to develop its own clearing system. With a flick of a switch it can begin to work anytime United States tries to cut Russia off from the SWIFT payments system. So you're having the whole world de-dollarize very quickly. And right now the question is what Europe will choose. Are Germany and other countries going to become part of the de-dollarized system, or remain part of the dollar area?

This is part of the fight against using the IT chips and the communications chips from Huawei. Huawei did not put US spyware into the system. The United States says that if it can't have a phone system and communications system that it can control by spyware and use to blow up your economy, your public utilities, your electrical systems, then you're our enemy, because we feel insecure without this control. When President Trump said that Huawei was a threat to US national security, he meant that we don't feel secure unless we have the power to destroy any economy that acts in any way that is independent of the United States – because you might do something we don't like. This is the most aggressive concept of security that one could imagine. So of course the rest of the world is seeing its own national security as having a financial dimension. The financial dimension is to create a monetary and financial system that minimizes connections to the dollar except to the extent of having to buy and sell dollars to stabilize foreign exchange rate.

Ellen Brown: [00:31:31] There's a lot of talk, even among central bankers, that we need to get off the dollar as a global reserve currency. But it seems to me that gold is also manipulatable. I mean, it's not the ideal I had envisioned a system where instead of reserves being a thing, like dollars or gold that you can actually trade, it would just be a measure, like a yardstick. You would be able to compare one currency to another according to what you could buy with it. Like you'd have a whole basket of things that everybody uses in every country. And now that they report that kind of stuff, it wouldn't be all that hard to get the figures and, you know, just compare and say, well, your dollar will be worth so many pesos in Mexico or whatever. That was my idea, but what do you think?

Michael Hudson: [00:32:27] That would meet one of the criteria of money, which is as a measure of value, but it would not do at all for international money. You have to have some means of constraint. In other words, suppose the United States continued to run another military budget deficit like it did in the Vietnam War. There is no way that you could use the balance of payments as a constraint on the policy of deficit countries, which are usually the military aggressors. The whole idea of going off gold was that under the gold standard no country can afford to make war, because if you go to war your currency collapses. In 1976, Herman Kahn and I went to the Treasury and – this is to answer your question. He put up a map of the world and said, "These are the countries – Scandinavia, Western Europe, the United States – that don't believe in gold. They're all politically stable social democratic countries. They have faith in government. No look at these others here's the rest of the world – India, South America, Africa and most of Asia. these are people that believe in gold. Why do they believe in gold, but not the Protestant cultural area? Well, they don't have faith in government. They don't trust governments. They want some option that is independent of government. Gold is not only to bribe the border guards if they're escaping from somewhere. They want to be free of governments that have been captured by anti-democratic, predatory forces."

He said if you tried to think of what you would make that is an alternative to the dollar that people could understand, well, for thousands of years, people have decided that gold and silver. (I'm sure that you could add platinum and palladium.) So they have been the ultimate means of settlement, and hence of international monetary constraint.

Gold isn't to be used as money. It's not to be used as a normal means of payment. What it is to be used for is as a balance-of-payments constraint on the ability of countries to run up chronic deficits that are mainly military in character. So I called our presentation "Gold: the Peaceful Metal." Well, needless to say, the Treasury didn't go for that, because they said that we had just explained how super-imperialism works via the dollar. So they didn't go back to gold. We lost that argument.

Ellen Brown: [00:35:34] Isn't the reason we went off gold standard, though, that there simply isn't enough gold and that we wound up leveraging it, and

Michael Hudson: [00:35:42] No, there's plenty of gold. There wasn't enough gold to pay for the military deficit. Every month the dollars we spent in Vietnam would be turned over to the banks in Indo-China. They were French. They'd turn the dollars over to Paris and General de Gaulle would turn in these dollars for gold. We had to pay in gold for the military deficit, which was the entire source of the US balance-of-payments deficits in the 50s, 60s and into the 70s. America went off gold so that it could afford to wage war without the constraint of losing its control over the international monetary system.

Ellen Brown: [00:36:29] We went after gold domestically because it didn't work. I mean, you had to use fractional reserve lending

Michael Hudson: [00:36:35] Yes, of course gold doesn't work domestically. It's certainly not an appropriate domestic money supply. I'm only talking about it for settlements among central banks internationally.

Ellen Brown: [00:36:49] But you said it's not to be traded. But if you don't, how do you settle your balance of payments?


Michael Hudson: [00:36:53] It can be traded. There is a market. And you began by saying, quite correctly, that gold prices are manipulated. Well, right now the US and the central banks are manipulating its price to keep it low, in the same way that they're manipulating the stock and bond market by buying forward. Except in the case of gold, they're selling forward. If they keep agreeing to sell gold at a very low price, people will see that if they can buy gold at this low price, why should they buy it at a higher price today, as the price will fall and be driven down. So, yes, gold is manipulated downwards today by the U.S. – essentially the plunge protection team acting internationally to keep the price of gold down to discourage other countries and populations from buying it is protection against collapse of the financial system.

So we're back to the fact that the financial system is dysfunctional. In a functional financial system, you wouldn't need domestic reference to gold. You'd have a domestic financial system that works fine without gold. Gold is what you have when the financial system becomes dysfunctional and there's a breakdown.

Ellen Brown: [00:38:21] Well, it almost seems like you need some sort of global regulator. But that's like a one-world government, which we all freak out about.

Michael Hudson: [00:38:28] You certainly don't want a one world government. Right now all the plans for world government are neoliberal. They aim essentially to limit, to break up democratic government regulation of corporate business, mining and monopolies. The idea of a one-world government is to destroy any democratic government's ability to make its own laws in the interests of labor or society. You would have a parallel government of wealth, government of property. It's what the University of Chicago calls the Law and Economics regime. And this is, this is fascism on an international scale. And there is a wonderful book by Quinn Slobodian in 2008, Globalists: The End of Empire and the Birth of Nationalism , showing how these plans were developed by fascists in the 1930s and by the fascist promoters at the University of Chicago. The fascist promoters were people like Hayek and von Mises and the Geneva economists around the League of Nations. So when they say they're anti-government, they're really anti-democracy. They're for an iron-fisted government by big business, big mining and big oil – and most of all, by big banks. That is the reason why people don't trust an international government. It would be an international iron fist of fascism, the way the current maneuvering of the financial classes and the rentier classes and the neocons have arranged things.

Ellen Brown: [00:39:56] Well, I totally agree. It's quite frightening. We want sovereignty for all our little nations, and even our little cities, states and so forth. But it seems to me, how do you get everybody to work together? For example, Venezuela has the debt problem that any country has that's heavily in debt to foreigners, or to vulture funds or whatever. There's not a universally recognized court that you can go to. And, you know, everybody agrees. It does seem like on some level we need some sort of collaborative effort where we all agree on the rules.

Michael Hudson: [00:40:33] Absolutely right. Now, of course, the United States would not recognize any international court. So, again, you'd have all the rest of the world belonging to the court, and the United States as the outlier. It's like you're the healthy body and we want to parasitize you. And it will not recognize the court. My Super-Imperialism reviews the history of this policy.

But you're right: There should be a court that would recognize such things as odious debt for governments. Venezuela's problem is that under the dictators that the Americans had installed by assassination and force, Venezuela had pledged its oil reserves as collateral for its international bonds. That gives a vested interest in the creditors to make it default and grab its oil reserves and its investments in the United States, the oil distributors it bought. So, yes, you do need a set of international rules for writing down bad debts. That means an alternative to the IMF. You need an anti-IMF. Instead of acting on behalf of the creditors imposing austerity on countries, you should create an organization representing society. And s the interest of society is to grow. Instead of promoting austerity like the IMF does, it would promote prosperity. Instead of financing the US government dollarization and giving US control, it would be part of the de-dollarization group.

So you'd have a pro-growth group of nations – of the world economy – using finance for growth and development with productive credit. You'd also have the United States providing predatory credit, austerity, cutting back Social Security, cutting back Medicare and having a polarizing economy that is shrinking and will end up looking like Greece or Argentina. The rest of the world would follow more productive and less oligarchic financial policies. That should ultimately be our global dream. But there's been little preparation for that. The financial sector's neoliberals have o put together an almost conspiratorial Law and Economics lobbying group to promote the Trans-Pacific Partnership and World Trade Organization rules blocking governments from imposing anti-pollution fines or regulating monopolies or closing tax havens. If you fine an oil company for polluting, the government is obliged under this international law to pay the oil companies what they would have earned if they would have continued to poison the environment. This is

Ellen Brown: [00:43:41] Shocking.

Michael Hudson: [00:43:41] Definitely. This is an international deathwish.

Ellen Brown: [00:43:45] Agreed. Totally agreed.

Walt McRee: [00:43:47] We've been speaking with economist Michael Hudson. Our thanks to him for being on this program again. And you'll be hearing more from Michael on future editions of It's Our Money.

Walt McRee: [00:43:59] Well, that's it for this edition of It's Our Money with Ellen Brown. Thanks to our guests or sponsors, Public Banking Associates, and to you for listening. Be sure to check out Ellen's latest writings on the economy and the changing world of money by visiting And for more information on public banking, visit For information on how local and state governments can obtain professional insight and council about public banks from key national experts, visit I'm Walt McRee. See you next time on It's our Money with Ellen Brown.


[1] "How the U.S. Treasury avoided Chronic Deflation by Relinquishing Monetary Control to Wall Street," Economic & Political Weekly (India), May 7, 2016. Available on Naked Capitalism an

animalogic , says: Show Comment March 13, 2020 at 8:51 am GMT

@dc.sunsets "This is why those who promise to "Plan" economic prosperity are liars and fools, for they have the PRETENSE of knowledge, nothing more. "
Of course, this point is true -- but its posed as an absolute. No government can "plan" an entire economy -- we know this from the failings of the USSR etc. But nor can economies be totally unplanned. The US is not an unplanned economy: its an economy planned by the 1% for the 1%.
Modern economies are "mixed". There is coordinated planning between the public & private sector.
Sadly the US Gov' has renounced its responsibilities to "plan". Had the US Gov "planned" it would never have allowed key industries, knowledge & talent to be off shored to China. Such off shoring was a private plan by the 1% for the 1%. Worked well -- for them.
Robert White , says: Show Comment March 13, 2020 at 4:54 pm GMT
Adding complexity to an already far too complex system merely hastens blow out of distributions that are skewed fat tails and stressed to a breaking point of systemic failure. Greenspan purposely built a complex financial empire of asset inflation to replace Volcker's fiscal prudence & macroprudential professionalism system wide.

Once Greenspan has locked in the asset inflation regime & deregulated Glass-Steagall Act it was off to the races on a credit card for the largest parasite in the financial empire governing by force.

On September 10th 2001 Donald Rumsfeld announced to the world that the ever incompetent Pentagon had misplaced $1.3 trillion USD of taxpayer money. On September 11th 2001 Donald Rumsfeld took part in a clandestine covert US Military operation to assassinate all of the principle investigators & forensic Chartered Accountants that were about to uncover the crimes taking place under Donald Rumsfeld's directorship as Pentagon executive.

The USA has always been a system of fraud by stealth of US Military force thugsterism & all out fascist behaviour.

Great synthesis by Hudson IMHO.

[Mar 15, 2020] Is a Zero Growth Economy Viable?

Mar 15, 2020 |

Stormy | March 12, 2020 1:44 pm

US/Global Economics The present pandemic demonstrates that the global economy is closely tied to consumer spending. Suppose the pandemic is merely a foretaste of the effects of climate change and ecological destruction. Can we fashion a world base on Zero Growth, a Steady State Economy?

Zero growth might well entail the following:

1. A fixed and renewal body of resources.
2. A demographic balance, i.e., a fixed population size.

Can such an economy enable all of humanity to prosper and grow? If so, what must be do to enable us to grow and prosper?

Can we have an economy where consumption is stable, i.e., does not grow?

Or, to put it another way, where the amount of capital spent on consumption is constant, fixed.

Carol , March 12, 2020 2:14 pm

Changes! Not necessarily in any order
1. Stop glorifying "success" as the accumulation of things and money
2. Start defining success as a well balanced, creative life with rich human communications and community ties
3. Get rid of excessive wealth and poverty. Cultivate the "enough is enough" mentality
4. unleash creativity, without tying it to moneymaking.
5. Of course, a UBI. With that, many stressors leading to cancerous economic growth can be removed. The push to have children to support you in old age is gone (a driver in poorer countries). Yes, some people won't be interested in what we like to call work, but then, most work is in service to the cancerous economy.
6. Of course, universal health care
7. Of course, a serious community approach to child bearing, more realistic than the individualistic "I should be able to have as many children as I want."
8. A huge shift on emphasis from "lemme grab all I want" to "I am a part of the whole, and responsible for its well-being" including ecosystems

This would be nice, but the underpinnings of our current economy are based on "individualism." To have people change their philosophies to more communitarian ones without the soul crushing rule making that many non-individualistic societies indulge in would require a mature, humane approach to life in general.

2slugbaits , March 12, 2020 3:25 pm

Does zero growth mean zero sum? If the latter, then I don't think the non-OECD countries will buy into it. If not, then good luck convincing the OECD countries to cut back their consumption.

Stormy , March 12, 2020 4:01 pm

Hi, 2slugbaits–I remember our discussions from many years ago. Nice to read your responses again.

Your question is a good one. No, I do not mean "zero sum." Given that
radically falling consumer consumption may lead to a recession equal to or worse than 2008 --

Can we have an economy where consumption is stable, i.e., does not grow?

Or, to put it another way, where the amount of capital spent on consumption is constant, fixed.

I would want such an economy to be fair to all.

The conditions I outlined in my piece still hold, I think.

Stormy , March 12, 2020 4:06 pm


Do you think your goals are feasible? Do you think a different kind of governance is needed to achieve such an economy?

J.Goodwin , March 12, 2020 7:10 pm

You can in many cases create a greater amount of something with the same or fewer inputs.

I think the key isn't non-growth consumption, but non-growth inputs.

Stormy , March 12, 2020 7:26 pm

J. Goodwin,

That is a great observation! A cleaner way of putting it. I am going to chew on that one for a while.


[Mar 15, 2020] Four Reasons Civilization Won't Decline: It Will Collapse by Craig Collins

Mar 15, 2020 |

As modern civilization's shelf life expires, more scholars have turned their attention to the decline and fall of civilizations past. Their studies have generated rival explanations of why societies collapse and civilizations die. Meanwhile, a lucrative market has emerged for post-apocalyptic novels, movies, TV shows, and video games for those who enjoy the vicarious thrill of dark, futuristic disaster and mayhem from the comfort of their cozy couch. Of course, surviving the real thing will become a much different story.

The latent fear that civilization is living on borrowed time has also spawned a counter-market of "happily ever after" optimists who desperately cling to their belief in endless progress. Popular Pollyannas, like cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker, provide this anxious crowd with soothing assurances that the titanic ship of progress is unsinkable. Pinker's publications have made him the high priest of progress. [1] While civilization circles the drain, his ardent audiences find comfort in lectures and books brimming with cherry-picked evidence to prove that life is better than ever, and will surely keep improving. Yet, when questioned, Pinker himself admits, "It's incorrect to extrapolate that the fact that we've made progress is a prediction that we're guaranteed to make progress." [2]

Pinker's rosy statistics cleverly disguise the fatal flaw in his argument. The progress of the past was built by sacrificing the future -- and the future is upon us. All the happy facts he cites about living standards, life expectancy, and economic growth are the product of an industrial civilization that has pillaged and polluted the planet to produce temporary progress for a growing middle class -- and enormous profits and power for a tiny elite.

Not everyone who understands that progress has been purchased at the expense of the future thinks that civilization's collapse will be abrupt and bitter. Scholars of ancient societies, like Jared Diamond and John Michael Greer, accurately point out that abrupt collapse is a rare historical phenomenon. In The Long Descent , Greer assures his readers that, "The same pattern repeats over and over again in history. Gradual disintegration, not sudden catastrophic collapse, is the way civilizations end." Greer estimates that it takes, on average, about 250 years for civilizations to decline and fall, and he finds no reason why modern civilization shouldn't follow this "usual timeline." [3]

But Greer's assumption is built on shaky ground because industrial civilization differs from all past civilizations in four crucial ways. And every one of them may accelerate and intensify the coming collapse while increasing the difficulty of recovery.

Difference #1: Unlike all previous civilizations, modern industrial civilization is powered by an exceptionally rich, NON-renewable, and irreplaceable energy source -- fossil fuels. This unique energy base predisposes industrial civilization to a short, meteoric lifespan of unprecedented boom and drastic bust. Megacities, globalized production, industrial agriculture, and a human population approaching 8 billion are all historically exceptional -- and unsustainable -- without fossil fuels. Today, the rich easily exploited oilfields and coalmines of the past are mostly depleted. And, while there are energy alternatives, there are no realistic replacements that can deliver the abundant net energy fossil fuels once provided. [4] Our complex, expansive, high-speed civilization owes its brief lifespan to this one-time, rapidly dwindling energy bonanza.

Difference #2: Unlike past civilizations, the economy of industrial society is capitalist. Production for profit is its prime directive and driving force. The unprecedented surplus energy supplied by fossil fuels has generated exceptional growth and enormous profits over the past two centuries. But in the coming decades, these historic windfalls of abundant energy, constant growth, and rising profits will vanish.

However, unless it is abolished, capitalism will not disappear when boom turns to bust. Instead, energy-starved, growth-less capitalism will turn catabolic. Catabolism refers to the condition whereby a living thing devours itself. As profitable sources of production dry up, capitalism will be compelled to turn a profit by consuming the social assets it once created. By cannibalizing itself, the profit motive will exacerbate industrial society's dramatic decline.

Catabolic capitalism will profit from scarcity, crisis, disaster, and conflict. Warfare, resource hoarding, ecological disaster, and pandemic diseases will become the big profit makers. Capital will flow toward lucrative ventures like cybercrime, predatory lending, and financial fraud; bribery, corruption, and racketeering; weapons, drugs, and human trafficking. Once disintegration and destruction become the primary source of profit, catabolic capitalism will rampage down the road to ruin, gorging itself on one self-inflicted disaster after another. [5]

Difference #3: Unlike past societies, industrial civilization isn't Roman, Chinese, Egyptian, Aztec, or Mayan. Modern civilization is HUMAN, PLANETARY, and ECOCIDAL. Pre-industrial civilizations depleted their topsoil, felled their forests, and polluted their rivers. But the harm was far more temporary and geographically limited. Once market incentives harnessed the colossal power of fossil fuels to exploit nature, the dire results were planetary. Two centuries of fossil fuel combustion have saturated the biosphere with climate-altering carbon that will continue wreaking havoc for generations to come. The damage to Earth's living systems -- the circulation and chemical composition of the atmosphere and the ocean; the stability of the hydrological and biogeochemical cycles; and the biodiversity of the entire planet -- is essentially permanent.

Humans have become the most invasive species ever known. Although we are a mere .01 percent of the planet's biomass, our domesticated crops and livestock dominate life on Earth. In terms of total biomass, 96 percent of all the mammals on Earth are livestock; only 4 percent are wild mammals. Seventy percent of all birds are domesticated poultry, only 30 percent are wild. About half the Earth's wild animals are thought to have been lost in just the last 50 years. [6] Scientists estimate that half of all remaining species will be extinct by the end of the century. [7] There are no more unspoiled ecosystems or new frontiers where people can escape the damage they've caused and recover from collapse.

Difference #4: Human civilization's collective capacity to confront its mounting crises is crippled by a fragmented political system of antagonistic nations ruled by corrupt elites who care more about power and wealth than people and the planet. Humanity faces a perfect storm of converging global calamities. Intersecting tribulations like climate chaos, rampant extinction, food and freshwater scarcity, poverty, extreme inequality, and the rise of global pandemics are rapidly eroding the foundations of modern life.

Yet, this fractious and fractured political system makes organizing and mounting a cooperative response nearly impossible. And, the more catabolic industrial capitalism becomes, the greater the danger that hostile rulers will fan the flames of nationalism and go to war over scarce resources. Of course, warfare is not new. But modern warfare is so devastating, destructive, and toxic that little would remain in its aftermath. This would be the final nail in civilization's coffin.

Rising From the Ruins?

How people respond to the collapse of industrial civilization will determine how bad things get and what will replace it. The challenges are monumental. They will force us to question our identities, our values, and our loyalties like no other experience in our history. Who are we? Are we, first and foremost, human beings struggling to raise our families, strengthen our communities, and coexist with the other inhabitants of Earth? Or do our primary loyalties belong to our nation, our culture, our race, our ideology, or our religion? Can we put the survival of our species and our planet first, or will we allow ourselves to become hopelessly divided along national, cultural, racial, religious, or party lines?

The eventual outcome of this great implosion is up for grabs. Will we overcome denial and despair; kick our addiction to petroleum; and pull together to break the grip of corporate power over our lives? Can we foster genuine democracy, harness renewable energy, reweave our communities, re-learn forgotten skills, and heal the wounds we've inflicted on the Earth? Or will fear and prejudice drive us into hostile camps, fighting over the dwindling resources of a degraded planet? The stakes could not be higher.


[1] His books include: The Better Angels of Our Nature and Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress.

[2] King, Darryn. "Steven Pinker on the Past, Present, and Future of Optimism" (OneZero, Jan 10, 2019)

[3] Greer, John Michael. The Long Descent (New Society Publishers, 2008): 29.

[4] Heinberg, Richard. The End Of Growth . (New Society, 2011): 117.

[5] For more on catabolic capitalism see: Collins, Craig. "Catabolism: Capitalism's Frightening Future," CounterPunch (Nov. 1, 2018).

[6] Carrington, Damian. " New Study: Humans Just 0.01% Of All Life But Have Destroyed 83% Of Wild Mammals ," The Guardian (May 21, 2018).

[7] Ceballos, Ehrlich, Barnosky, Garcia, Pringle & Palmer. "Accelerated Modern Human-Induced Species Losses: Entering The 6th Mass Extinction," Science Advances. (June 19, 2015). Join the debate on Facebook More articles by: Craig Collins

Craig Collins Ph.D. is the author of " Toxic Loopholes " (Cambridge University Press), which examines America's dysfunctional system of environmental protection. He teaches political science and environmental law at California State University East Bay and was a founding member of the Green Party of California.

[Mar 15, 2020] While it is still popular to claim that the United States has never defaulted on its debt, this is a myth

Mar 15, 2020 |

Likklemore , Mar 14 2020 22:42 utc | 44

@c1ue 28 and 30

Given that 2/3rds or more of the debt is owed to Americans

suggest you whisper that to the Chinese, other sovereign holders and non-US individuals - you know those Tbills and Tbonds.

Nobody has a better credit rating than the USG - because the USG can literally not default.

Really? Why did S&P downgrade US credit rating in 2014?


what do you think happened on August 15 1971? that date can be categorized as recent!


While it is still popular to claim that the United States has never defaulted on its debt, this is a myth. The US has been forced to default a couple of times throughout history, the last of which being when Richard Nixon&rsquo closed the gold window. By cutting the ability of foreign governments to redeem US dollars for gold, America was allowed to pay back past debt with devalued fiat money. This form of default has long been a popular option for governments with debt obligations it can't or won't honor.

Of course, as Peter Klein wrote last week, even Trump's suggestion of the US restructuring its debt isn't the doomsday scenario CNBC talking heads have made it out to be, noting that:

[T]he idea that the US can never restructure or even repudiate the national debt -- that US Treasuries must always be treated as a unique and magical "risk-free" investment -- is wildly speculative at best, preposterous at worst.

Murray Rothbard himself advocated for outright repudiating the national debt, arguing:

The government is an organization, so why not liquidate the assets of that organization and pay the creditors (the government bondholders) a pro-rata share of those assets? This solution would cost the taxpayer nothing, and, once again, relieve him of $200 billion in annual interest payments. The United States government should be forced to disgorge its assets, sell them at auction, and then pay off the creditors accordingly.

Trump himself has even touched on the possibility of selling of assets held by the Federal government as a form of debt reduction.[.]

Oops then there was 1979 said caused by word-processing error
so we defaulted on some of them."

c1ue dear friend, the current level of US debt is unsustainable. Never mind the happy cheerleaders promoting mighty U.S. is the wealthiest nation on earth. Have no fear our dollar is good as gold, backed by the full faith and credit of Uncle Sam.

Here is a brief history of U.S.defaults starting with year 1790- LINK

[Mar 14, 2020] This is a transformational moment in history that will allow American politics to socialize and turn away resolutely from the anti-government stupidity represented by Trump and all the anti-New Deal elements among the elite predators that have dominated politically since Reagan

Notable quotes:
"... This is a transformational moment in history that will allow American politics to socialize and turn away resolutely from the anti-government stupidity represented by Trump and all the anti-New Deal elements among the elite predators that have dominated politically since Reagan. It is a mistake to chose Biden, chief author of the Patriot Act, business-as-usual candidate, corporate lackey, weasel. ..."
Mar 14, 2020 |

jadan , Mar 14 2020 2:45 utc | 187

This is a transformational moment in history that will allow American politics to socialize and turn away resolutely from the anti-government stupidity represented by Trump and all the anti-New Deal elements among the elite predators that have dominated politically since Reagan. It is a mistake to chose Biden, chief author of the Patriot Act, business-as-usual candidate, corporate lackey, weasel.

Bernie is the only rational choice, but the American people are not rational, and do not yet understand the urgency of a radical left turn. Much suffering will be the result and a radical right turn could occur, although disenchantment with the blithering idiocy of Donald Trump has already deprived him of any chance of re-election. The virus is going to take him down before profound political embarrassment. He's a dead man walking.This may be true of Bernie & Biden as well, but I say this without prejudice.

The Chinese clearly knew the character of this virus before it became apparent to the world. They did not react so swiftly or dramatically to earlier outbreaks like SARS, swine flu, avian flu and etc. They had prior knowledge of the potential of nCov2019. The US did not.

Why do we have a National Security Council or a Department of Homeland Security if they cannot read the writing on the wall? It was an accidental release of a weaponized virus. The US should have taken a cue and reacted with similar conviction shown by the CCP. But we have no leadership worth a shit.

Our representative republic has suffered an embarrassment in this failure to protect the people while a so-called national enemy, a communist dictatorship, has demonstrated more effective leadership and greater capability to protect its people. This is more than an embarrassment. It is an indictment of our political system.

It is time to turn sharply left to social democracy.

[Mar 14, 2020] Complex Systems Collide, Markets Crash

Mar 14, 2020 |

Authored by James Rickards via The Daily Reckoning,

At some point, systems flip from being complicated, which is a challenge to manage, to being complex. Complexity is more than a challenge because it opens the door to all kinds of unexpected crashes and events.

Their behavior cannot be reduced to their component parts. It's as if they take on a life of their own.

Complexity theory has four main pillars.

If you look out the window and see people bundled up in heavy jackets, for example, you're probably not going to go out in a T-shirt. Applied to capital markets, adaptive behavior is sometimes called herding.

Assume you have a room with 100 people. If two people suddenly sprinted out of the room, most of the others probably wouldn't make much of it. But if half the people in the room suddenly ran outside, the other half will probably do the same thing.

They might not know why the first 50 people left, but the second half will just assume something major has happened. That could be a fire or a bomb threat or something along these lines.

The key is to determine the tipping point that compels people to act. Two people fleeing isn't enough. 50 certainly is. But, maybe 20 people leaving could trigger the panic. Or maybe the number is 30, or 40. You just can't be sure. But the point is, 20 people out of 100 could trigger a chain reaction.

And that's how easily a total collapse of the capital markets can be triggered.

Understanding the four main pillars of complexity gives you a window into the inner workings of markets in a way the Fed's antiquated equilibrium models can't. They let you see the world with better eyes.

People assume that if you had perfect knowledge of the economy, which nobody does, that you could conceivably plan an economy. You'd have all the information you needed to determine what should be produced and in what number.

But complexity theory says that even if you had that perfect knowledge, you still couldn't predict financial and economic events. They can come seemingly out of nowhere.

For example, it was bright and sunny one day out in the eastern Atlantic in 2005. Then it suddenly got cloudy. The winds began to pick up. Then a hurricane formed. That hurricane went on to wipe out New Orleans a short time later.

I'm talking about Hurricane Katrina. You never could have predicted New Orleans would be struck on that bright sunny day. You could look back and track it afterwards. It would seem rational in hindsight. But on that sunny day in the eastern Atlantic, there was simply no way of predicting that New Orleans was going to be devastated.

Any number of variables could have diverted the storm at some point along the way. And they cannot be known in advance, no matter how much information you have initially.

Another example is the Fukushima nuclear incident in Japan a few years back. You had a number of complex systems coming together at once to produce a disaster.

An underwater earthquake triggered a tsunami that just happened to wash up on a nuclear power plant. Each one of these are highly complex systems -- plate tectonics, hydrodynamics and the nuclear plant itself.

There was no way traditional models could have predicted when or where the tectonic plates were going to slip. Therefore, they couldn't tell you where the tsunami was heading.

And the same applies to financial panics. They seem to come out of nowhere. Traditional forecasting models have no way of detecting them. But complexity theory allows for them.

I make the point that a snowflake can cause an avalanche. But of course not every snowflake does. Most snowflakes fall harmlessly, except that they make the ultimate avalanche worse because they're building up the snowpack. And when one of them hits the wrong way, it could spin out of control.

The way to think about it is that the triggering snowflake might not look much different from the harmless snowflake that preceded it. It's just that it hit the system at the wrong time, at the wrong place.

Only the exact time and the specific snowflake that starts the avalanche remain to be seen. This kind of systemic analysis is the primary tool I use to keep investors ahead of the catastrophe curve.

The system is getting more and more unstable, and it might not take that much to trigger the avalanche.

To switch metaphors, it's like the straw that breaks the camel's back. You can't tell in advance which straw will trigger the collapse. It only becomes obvious afterwards. But that doesn't mean you can't have a good idea when the threat can no longer be ignored.

Let's say I've got a 35-pound block of enriched uranium sitting in front of me that's shaped like a big cube. That's a complex system. There's a lot going on behind the scenes. At the subatomic level, neutrons are firing off. But it's not dangerous. You'd actually have to eat it to get sick.

But, now, I take the same 35 pounds, I shape part of it into a sphere, I take the rest of it and shape it into a bat. I put it in the tube, and I fire it together with high explosives, I kill 300,000 people. I just engineered an atomic bomb. It's the same uranium, but under different conditions.

The point is, the same basic conditions arrayed in a different way, what physicists call self-organized criticality, can go critical, blow up, and destroy the world or destroy the financial system.

That dynamic, which is the way the world works, is not understood by central bankers. They don't understand complexity theory. They do not see the critical state dynamics going on behind the scenes because they're using obsolete equilibrium models.

In complexity theory and complex dynamics, you can go into the critical state. What look like unconnected distant events are actually indications and warnings of something much more dangerous to come.

So what happens when complex dynamic systems crash into each other? We're seeing that right now.

We're seeing two complex systems colliding into each other, the complex system of markets combined with the complex system of epidemiology.

The coronavirus spread is a complex dynamic system. It encompass virology, meteorology, migratory patterns, mass psychology, etc. Markets are highly complex, dynamic systems.

Financial professionals will use the word "contagion" to describe a financial panic. But that's not just a metaphor. The same complexity that applies to disease epidemics also apply to financial markets. They follow the same principles.

And they've come together to create a panic that traditional modeling could not foresee.

The time scale of global financial contagion is not necessarily limited to days or weeks. These panics can play out over months and years. So could the effects of the coronavirus.

Just don't expect the Fed to warn you.

[Mar 13, 2020] Is the whole ideo of Trump tax holiday is to speed up the privatization of SS and Medicare. Look! The deficit's growing bigger.

Mar 13, 2020 |

allan , March 12, 2020 at 2:11 pm

President Trump's Payroll Tax Holiday: Budgetary, Distributional, and Economic Effects [Penn Wharton]

Summary: President Trump just announced his support for a full payroll tax holiday for the remainder of calendar year 2020, which PWBM projects would cost $807 billion. Households in the bottom 20 percent of incomes -- those households with the highest willingness to spend their tax savings -- would receive about 2 percent of the total tax cut, limiting the policy's stimulus potential.

But Penn Wharton's analysis might be based on unrealistically optimistic assumptions –
see the comments in the replies to this tweet.

Billy , March 12, 2020 at 3:39 pm

Don't forget the employer's half is also waived. Nice subsidy to business while helping cripple the Social Security funds for ultimate privatization. Doesn't do anything the unemployed, those laid off or fired as they pay no taxes. Now, if it were retroactive for a year or two, that'd be different.

Oh , March 12, 2020 at 4:34 pm

The whole idea is to speed up the privatization of SS and Medicare. Look! The deficit's growing bigger.

[Mar 13, 2020] This virus is revealing just how ineffective the neoliberal social Darwinist "every man for himself" ethos is and how deeply in denial and out of touch with reality these societies are

Mar 13, 2020 |

Daniel , Mar 13 2020 22:16 utc | 138

@Joanne Leon 15
The explosion of hate and blame and fear flying around online with regard to this pandemic is more than alarming and ultimately useless and damaging. In a way it scares me more than the flu itself at the moment because of the implications of how it will hinder our ability to cooperate and deal with this.

That's a good point. Western society with its twisted guiding philosophy of radical individualism and competition combined with a supremacist "that could never happen here" attitude quickly falls into panicked chaos when reality kicks in and reveals the society's underlying vulnerabilities. Countries with weak social safety nets and an ideological opposition to social responsibility are extremely vulnerable to systemic breakdown when their societies are under unexpected stress.

This virus is revealing just how ineffective the neoliberal social Darwinist "every man for himself" ethos is and how deeply in denial and out of touch with reality these societies are. Additionally, the house of cards that makes up the global economy has been in crisis mode since 2008, when it was bailed out by massive money printing in the US and EU and China pumping billions of dollars into the economy to keep it afloat, simply can't handle any additional stressors without going into breakdown mode.

In this kind of situation where clear headed cooperation and mutual effort are required the opposite happens and people go into panic and finger pointing mode looking for some external enemy to blame. Just imagine what will happen if global warming turns out to be as serious as many are predicting.

[Mar 13, 2020] Free trade suddenly seems like a dangerous fantasy, as nations start putting their own people first

Mar 13, 2020 |

It may one day be said that the coronavirus delivered the death blow to the New World Order, to a half-century of globalization, and to the era of interdependence of the world's great nations.

Tourism, air travel, vacation cruises, international gatherings, and festivals are already shutting down. Travel bans between countries and continents are being imposed. Conventions, concerts, and sporting events are being canceled. Will the Tokyo Olympics go forward? If they do, will all the anticipated visitors from abroad come to Japan to enjoy the games?

Trump has issued a one-month travel ban on Europe.

As for the "open borders" crowd, do Democrats still believe that breaking into our country should no longer be a crime, and that immigrants arriving illegally should be given free health care, a proposition to which all the Democratic debaters raised their hands?

The ideological roots of our free trade era can be traced to the mid-19th century, when its great evangelist, Richard Cobden, rose at Free Trade Hall in Manchester on January 15, 1846, and rhapsodized: "I see in the Free Trade principle that which shall act on the moral world as the principle of gravitation in the universe -- drawing men together, thrusting aside the antagonism of race, and creed, and language, and uniting us in the bonds of eternal peace."

In the pre-Trump era, Republicans held hands with liberal Democrats in embracing NAFTA, GATT, the WTO, and most favored nation trade privileges for China.

In retrospect, was it wise to have relied on China to produce essential parts for the supply chains of goods vital to our national security? Does it appear wise to have moved the production of pharmaceuticals and lifesaving drugs for heart disease, strokes, and diabetes to China? Does it appear wise to have allowed China to develop a virtual monopoly on rare earth minerals crucial to the development of weapons for our defense?

In this coronavirus pandemic, people now seem to be looking for authoritative leaders and nations seem to be looking out for their own peoples first. Would Merkel today invite a million Syrian refugees into Germany no matter the conditions under which they were living?

Is not the case now conclusive that we made a historic mistake when we outsourced our economic independence to rely for vital necessities upon nations that have never had America's best interests at heart?

Which rings truer today? We are all part of mankind, all citizens of the world. Or that it's time to put America and Americans first!

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of Nixon's White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever. To find out more about Patrick Buchanan and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators website at

EdMan 11 hours ago

Wiping out the NWO and discrediting globalism's the silver lining to the dark cloud of the coronavirus.
IanDakar EdMan 8 hours ago
Which leaders have been speaking of ways to reverse the ways of globalism and how close are they to obtaining power? This is going to require a changing of the elites fro mthe ones who are and will continue to push this form of globalism to the ones that are willing to switch to a new system.

(there will always be an elite. It's just a question of which ones you let wield power as not all of them are the type that we carry.)

AlexanderHistory X 8 hours ago
Unfortunately a ton of people are still espousing open borders globalism. This includes a large number of visible elites, the vast majority, in fact.
The best thing that could happen is that those who espouse such dangerous ideas are held to account by nature. Let them get sick with the Wu flu, let them be unable to attain medication because China has restricted exports to us. Let's see what they think after they have finally begun to experience the ramifications of their ideological thinking.
Awake and Uttering a Song AlexanderHistory X 3 hours ago
The elites will ALWAYS have access to medication they need. Most of them will NEVER "experience ramifications" in any way more than minor inconveniences.
Don Quijote 6 hours ago
Considering that you can get from New York City to Tokyo in under 24 hours, and that there are no major city on the Planet that cannot be reached from the lower forty-eight in under 48 hours, how do you intend to reverse globalism? Ban airplanes, telephones and the internet-based communications?

Because short of that, Globalism is here to stay.

[Mar 12, 2020] Emergency Sick Leave Bill blocked from vote by Senate Republicans--Profit over People yet again.

Mar 12, 2020 |

karlof1 , Mar 11 2020 21:37 utc | 101

It's no different from the Republicans in the US Senate: Emergency Sick Leave Bill blocked from vote by Senate Republicans--Profit over People yet again.

[Mar 12, 2020] Neoliberalism in action in Italy: neo-liberal economic worship, all government bad, all private sector good, corruption good, banks worshipped as faultless guardians but actually kleptocrats.

Mar 12, 2020 |

uncle tungsten , Mar 11 2020 3:26 utc | 72

coronawhy #48
Why has Italy not try very hard to scale up hospital bed capacity for the surge of cases over the last several days? They have deployed a military hospital but it doesn't look like it's making a big dent. Instead reports are now coming in of abandoning very old people or those with prior conditions to die largely unattended.

In Wuhan, 16 big barracks were built to treat the seriously sick. Why doesn't Italy requisition schools, move in equipment from the rest of the country, deploy doctors from other regions, call other EU member states for help?

Does it have something to do with the difficulty of getting things done even in emergencies in modern bureaucratic states?

Italy: neo-liberal economic worship, all government bad, all private sector good, corruption good, banks worshipped as faultless guardians but actually kleptocrats.

China: socialism with a mild capitalist twist, government good, private sector ok, corruption to be rooted out, banks established and policed for the public good (mostly).

Modern bureacratic states function well when government is respected and well resourced intellectually and financially. Italy has been gutted by the Thatcherite and US model of deep coercion and destruction of its socialist roots. Ditto USA and UK and the five eyes cheer squad. New entries to job markets are propagandised to avoid the state employment.

There are many nations in the world with modern functional bureaucratic states. As you can see China and perhaps Russia appear to be in that team. Perhaps some of the Scandinavian states, maybe Portugal. France abandoned its respect for the centrality of State service provider decades ago and Mitterand appears to have been an effective assassin on behalf of the neo-liberal economic monsters in France.

Jen , Mar 11 2020 3:48 utc | 73

Uncle Tungsten @ 71:

I'm sure in your comparison of Italy and China, you forgot to mention the infiltration of the Mafia (as in the real Mafia of La Cosa Nostra, La Camorra, 'Ndrangheta and maybe some others I've missed) in Italian national and regional governments, and the horrific levels of air pollution in the Po Valley region where COVID-19 hotspots like Milan are located.

Perhaps also the Vatican and the Roman Catholic Church and their links to the financial industry in Italy are also a problem.

[Mar 12, 2020] COVID-19 puts neoliberalism on its knee

Mar 12, 2020 |

vk , Mar 11 2020 14:25 utc | 100

COVID-19 puts neoliberalism on its knees:

Germany abandons "zero deficit" policy

[Mar 12, 2020] Experts warn flaws in US neoliberalized health system doom its readiness

Notable quotes:
"... medically fragile individuals ..."
"... there's not enough equipment. There's not enough people. There's not enough internal capacity. There's no surge capacity ..."
"... use their judgment ..."
"... epidemiologic factors ..."
"... we would recommend that there not be large crowds. If that means not having any people in the audience when the NBA plays, so be it. ..."
"... bottom line, it's going to get worse. ..."
Mar 12, 2020 |

The epidemic that has so far spread to half of US states, infecting over 1,000 Americans and killing 31...

At least 10 states have declared emergencies as of Wednesday, and disease experts are throwing up their hands, urging the administration to take real-life events more seriously.

...Centers for Disease Control director Robert Redfield agreed that critical regions of the US are beyond the reach of containment, sliding into the " mitigation " stage, and blamed the botched rollout of test kits to local health workers.

The availability of accurate tests for Covid-19 has become a major sore spot, with official reassurances colliding with uncooperative reality in full view of the public. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar insisted on Tuesday that " millions " of tests were available, even as the CDC urged healthcare providers to save tests for symptomatic patients already hospitalized and " medically fragile individuals ."

In at least one case , federal officials warned a Seattle lab against testing flu swab samples for coronavirus in January, before the epidemic was widely reported, losing critical response time – mirroring the " crime " the Trump administration has tried to pin on China.

And some have warned that the US' inability to handle an outbreak is more dire than either side realizes. During a House Appropriations Committee hearing on Tuesday, a Republican congressman from Washington, the first Covid-19 hotspot to flare up in the US, demanded to know why his constituents were unable to get their test results while his fellow congressmen had no problem getting tested just days after coming into contact with an infected person at a DC political conference. A CDC representative admitted " there's not enough equipment. There's not enough people. There's not enough internal capacity. There's no surge capacity ." To conserve tests, the CDC has told healthcare providers to " use their judgment " and consider " epidemiologic factors " before using up a valuable resource.

Existing flaws in the US healthcare system have exacerbated the testing problem. The CDC has refused to set up standalone testing centers, placing COVID-19 screening out of the reach of the many Americans who don't have primary-care physicians and rely on walk-in clinics and emergency rooms for their healthcare. Just 8,500 Americans had been tested as of Monday, according to the CDC, and federal officials told reporters some 75,000 tests had been sent out to public health laboratories on top of one million sent to hospitals and other sites. The real-life infected numbers in the country are thus likely much higher than what is being reported.

Control measures have varied wildly across local governments and institutions and even within cities. Over 1,000 schools have closed nationwide, and cities and counties from Santa Clara, California to Westchester, New York have banned large gatherings. The National Institutes of Health's Anthony Fauci called on others to follow suit during a congressional hearing on Wednesday, announcing " we would recommend that there not be large crowds. If that means not having any people in the audience when the NBA plays, so be it. " Asked if " the worst " was yet to come, Fauci answered unequivocally: " bottom line, it's going to get worse. "

Even as new Covid-19 cases in China dwindle to near zero and cases in Italy, Germany, and other European countries surge, the US has not stepped up screenings of passengers from those countries at airports accordingly. Instead, the administration has continued to congratulate itself on " saving lives " by halting flights from China weeks ago.

See also: Watching the Hawks: The military-industrial complex vs healthcare & common sense

[Mar 12, 2020] In there a shortage of some medicine or test kits in the USA, and the normal behavior of providers of medicines and other medical goods is extremely rapacious

Mar 12, 2020 |

Piotr Berman , Mar 11 2020 17:48 utc | 24

About testing: who makes testing kits, how reliable they are, what is the cost?

Seems that in USA there is a shortage, and the normal behavior of providers of medicines and other medical goods is extremely rapacious. For example, Gilead company found a cure for hepatitis C. In the first year of sales, they got more than 5 billion dollars because of enormous prices they demanded. In about 2 years almost all urgent cases were cured, which is fine, and competition emerged.

Unless forced, these companies will provide nothing at cost, only with enormous markup. If you want to get, say, 10 miilion kits that hypothetically cost 250 dollars to make, they would charge at least 10 billion. Actually, the price/cost multiples have no limit at all, as in Gilead case. In the face of that, Administration should use emergency powers to impose cost controls. Manufactures could be threatened delicately to ramp-up the production if they are not willing to do it just from civic sense of duty. That would violate the most precious human rights, i.e. the rights of billionaires. Not the American way.

[Mar 12, 2020] Harvard's Let Them Eat Veritas Richest University's Poor Students Shafted as School Provides Spotty, Inadequate Help as It T

Mar 12, 2020 |

Harvard University should be ashamed of itself. It has dumped the problem of its sudden closure due to coronavirus largely on the students themselves and their families. While most of them are affluent enough to handle the financial fallout of buying airfare at the last minute and storing or shipping their clothes, books, and other possessions, Harvard's students from lower income backgrounds have, to a significant degree, been left in the lurch.

... ... ...

But Harvard's conduct is indefensible. Harvard has, or perhaps more accurately had, a nearly $39 billion endowment. Contrast that with an exceedingly generous estimate of what it might cost to help make these financially stressed undergraduates whole, at least in terms of getting out of Cambridge, or for the ones who really can't go home (flights to their country cancelled), putting them up. Harvard has 6,800 undergraduates. Assume 25% get significant financial support. Even a gold plated solution would cost at most $10,000.

6,800 x .25 x $10,000 = $17 million.

That is couch lint for Harvard.

As the University of Dayton example attests, university and college closures are widespread. For the well-endowed ones who have students attending only by virtue of having received financial aid and/or having the school arrange for paid employment to help pay for their tuition, the failure of the school to provide generous help is a disgrace.

At Harvard, the afflicted students are petitioning the university to let them store things on campus for free (which was standard practice in my day) and let the ones who can't go home stay on campus. How many could that possibly be? 200 at most? Harvard has a medical center that won't have anything to do once the kids leave. How hard would it be for their staff to check these students' temperatures daily and test anyone who had symptoms?

And the university will have enough empty rooms that it could easily set aside other dorm rooms if quarantine were needed.

But the Harvard disregard is a sign of where things are likely to go in the US. A university is supposed to be a community. They are more cohesive than most of our cities and towns. Yet a crisis comes, and the grotesquely well paid university administrators can't be bothered either to make creative use of resources at hand, or dip in Harvard's huge pot of money.

In other words, expect the rich to walk all over the poor out of indifference, as we are seeing at Harvard now.


1 Harvard houses and Yale colleges are groups of dormitories, each with their own adminisphere (such as a faculty dean a resident dean, a house tutor), their own kitchen and dining room, a common room, a library, and other amenities. They are modeled on the Cambridge and Oxford college system. At Harvard, a house has roughly 300 to 400 students.

Michael , March 12, 2020 at 1:09 am

The future is already here, it's just not evenly distributed. Get Out! Just got notice I am next up at my library for Wm Gibson's new book, Agency. $17M is a rounding error yet the wealthy feel its too much to ask.

Bill Gates $5M stills rankles me

bmeisen , March 12, 2020 at 2:41 am

Are we hearing the American "college experience" bubble popping? In this fantasy, youth buy products that are packaged as educational experiences. They pay through the nose for them and they are blind to their folly because they believe that the stamped and signed receipt of payment handed to them with great pomp and circumstance will boost their future earning potential to the degree necessary so that they can some day lead lives that are free of educational debt, which until then will of course involve interest costs (compounded) as we do not want socialism.

Why exactly doesn't Harvard charge 1 million? They could get it and they'd only have customers who can deal gracefully with situations like this.

Enrico Malatesta , March 12, 2020 at 8:39 am

Although Harvard (and other esteemed Universities) are selling 'exclusivity', the veneer of egalitarianism is still required for the Brand.

Two Random Thoughts:

I'd like to know the graduation statistics of those college students that entered through the Admissions Scandle.

The Harvard Endowment is an important pool of shadow money, never forget it was the Harvard Fund that 'bought' the worthless Arbusto (Harken Energy) stock that enabled Dubya to get his stake to become Texas Rangers managing general partner, and then Governor, and then front man for Dick Cheney.

Larry Y , March 12, 2020 at 10:26 am

At many US elite academic institutions, the hardest part is getting in (exceptions usually in "hard science", engineering, etc.). Also, they probably have all the the help they need to graduate.

Dave , March 12, 2020 at 3:11 am

Come to California. Harvard is dead! You'll get a better education and the weather doesn't suck. Harvard stopped being relevant over a decade ago.

Anon , March 12, 2020 at 1:49 pm

Actually, don't come to California for higher education. Housing, traffic, cycling risks, and, now, Covid-19 is getting worse. The UC/CalState system can't provide access to it's own in-state high school students that qualify for entry.

The Rev Kev , March 12, 2020 at 3:33 am

This is brutal this. They could have helped their own students using only the money in their petty cash drawer and they said nope! I suppose that this is a lesson for those Harvard students that is pretty simple. If you have money so this move is not a problem for you, then that is the way that it is supposed to be. If you are studying here and are in a precarious position then it is all on you. Pure power politics.

It would be ironic if down the track that Harvard produced a Bill Gates from the later group that went on to achieve fabulous wealth. But that this future alumni, when asked by Harvard for money for them, would say sure – and give a massive contribution to Yale and call it the 2020 Corona Fund.

GM , March 12, 2020 at 4:18 am

I too was an undergrad at an institution in the Cambridge area, and I am not from the US.

Got a full financial aid, but that does not fully cover your housing and does not at all cover your food or other expenses, so you had to work during the term to make it. And you had to move out of the dorm in the summer. Fortunately, in our particular dorm, there was storage in the basement of the dorm, so we did not have to look for outside storage, but others were not so lucky. But moving out at the end of the term was still a major disruption that one had to plan for well in advance.

So I am very well aware of the situation undergrads at Harvard find themselves in, and my first thought when I saw the news was "WTF are these students supposed to do now?".

Especially the international ones. Because a day after Harvard announces that students are kicked out of the dorms, what does Trump do? Bans travel from Europe for 30 days. Which effectively means banning traveling TO Europe too, because those are all round-trip flights. This is on top of the travel restrictions regarding several countries in Asia already in place.

In the best of times, it was always near-impossible to find a flight on such a short notice. Now when so many flights have been cancelled, how is one supposed to go home, when there are thousands of others in the same situation (because Harvard isn't the only university that is doing this)? It is not even a possibility for many, forget the expenses. There are simply no flights. And most of these students don't even have a car to sleep in.

I will venture a guess regarding why this is done -- they don't want to get sued by litigious-minded parents if undergrads get it while on campus. Which, admittedly, there is a high chance of happening, unless they self-isolated the whole campus (but that would have created a legal mess on a whole new level). Dorms often have 2, 3, 4 students living in the same room, and the virus is very clearly airborne, so it would also get between rooms through the air seeping beneath the doors (which is why in China quarantines involve sealing the doors with tape). Also, bathrooms are shared across the whole floor, which is another transmission risk.

So the administration took the easy decision -- instead of trying to help the student population, and start that early on when it was the time to do so (i.e. mid-February), which would have involved some effort and risk on its part, it just dumped the problem onto the students

PlutoniumKun , March 12, 2020 at 4:43 am

Thats quite disgusting – I'm assuming it is fear of litigation that is driving this.

I was in Trinity College Dublin last night for an evening class – the nearest Ireland would have to a Harvard (except, as the grads there would no doubt add 'with about 300 more years of history and teaching experience'). They had a Covid case in, ironically enough, the biology department last week.

But they are acting I think quite responsibly – phasing in a slow shutdown – all lectures have gone online, but small tutorials, etc., still going on, with lots of support for foreign students. They were actually criticised for being over the top (there are still plenty of people who still 'don't get it' and sadly many are in a position of authority.)

GM , March 12, 2020 at 6:33 am

Litigation is certainly a big part of it. The other aspect might be health insurance. Students are on university plans. Which tend to not be that great, because it is a young and healthy population. When catastrophic situations have arisen in the past on campus (which happens regularly, several times a year in fact), the university has often been stuck with the bill, especially with international students.

And it will be a lot of long ICU stays to pay for in the coming months, even among the young and healthy.

Louis Fyne , March 12, 2020 at 9:07 am

I think you're right w/health insurance. plans are likely self-insured and not modeled to have a cohort students popping into the ICU. Then add rash panic.

Smaller colleges I can kinda understand, Harvard? give me a break

Adam1 , March 12, 2020 at 6:02 am

It seems like almost all colleges and universitys will be moving to the online solution, but you can tell it's a decision made by some administrators who really don't get it. Online classes may be a substitute for lecture, but they wont fill the needs of art students (like my wife who laughed at hearing this idea), science and engineering majors or anyone who needs other facilities and equipment to actually complete work – your oven at home wont replace a kiln as my wife says.

Left in Wisconsin , March 12, 2020 at 2:06 pm

I would disagree that the administrators don't get it. On their list of priorities, "avoiding huge lawsuits" is a much higher priority than "providing quality instruction to students." I have been in and around higher ed for the last 30 years and it's not clear to me that the latter is even on the list.

Louis Fyne , March 12, 2020 at 9:04 am

Online classes for the yes of the year–mmmm, ok .but closing dorms? that is just insane and against the medical evidence (aka seniors are the most at risk, under-40, while not immune, are in infinitely better shape than those over 70 and/or those w/health issues).

And Dorms are (generally) like typical apartment complexes, not military barracks.

If anything, keeping students (aka asymptomatic, mobile, disease vectors) away from seniors is the absolutely best thing for society. just saying

Hana M , March 12, 2020 at 11:44 am

Yes! 100% correct.

Anon , March 12, 2020 at 2:37 pm

Sending the students home promotes the "OK Boomer Revenge" aspect of the this novel coronavirus.

(OK Boomer Revenge: older voters with Medicare being impacted greater than younger voters w/o Medicare.)

Democrita , March 12, 2020 at 9:39 am

I have a child at UC Santa Cruz, hotbed of striking teaching assistants. We are coming up on spring break and last night had a talk with him about what to do. There are risks to flying home. There are risks to staying at school. But the latter risks are compounded by the fact that we don't know what the school admin will do.

If he comes home for spring break, will he be able to go back? If he can't, what happens to his stuff? If he stays, will they be allowed to remain in the dorms? And what happens in September? I am sure he will not want to change schools now that he has established friendships and a sense of place. I don't want to pay $66,000 per year -- an effort that involves his parents and both sets of grandparents -- for him to take online classes. I have been a university teacher, so I know exactly what those are worth. :)

At least we can afford it, and we have friends in Cali if he gets stuck there. This action by Harvard is unconscionable. Then again, if Harvard had a conscience, it wouldn't be Harvard. But UCSC, based on its treatment of the striking TAs, doesn't have a conscience either.

I have a handful of relatives who voted for Biden, too, and I just want to punch them all in the face. Idjits. Hooray for ecocide! Onward to mass extinction! Guess the kid won't need that college education after all. Maybe we can use the money to send him to survival school.

Randy G , March 12, 2020 at 11:59 am

Wow! $66,000! For a supposedly public university. I went to UC Santa Cruz, admittedly a few decades ago, and I was paying something like $2000 a year. The U.S. is making incredible progress -- just all of it heading off in the wrong direction and toward the edge of the cliff. Very soon your local library–should it still exist -- can file The Road Warrior in the documentary section.

Good luck to you and your children. And give your Biden loving relatives a friendly punch for me.

Anon , March 12, 2020 at 2:42 pm

They are likely paying out-of-state tuition. In-state is about one-third of that.

Left in Wisconsin , March 12, 2020 at 2:26 pm

But UCSC, based on its treatment of the striking TAs, doesn't have a conscience either.

This is the key point. The neoliberalization of the U.S. university – "public" as well as private – has been clear for quite awhile but there are strong ideological pressures not to see it, not least by all the brainiacs who exist on college campuses.

My prediction is that most U administrations will issue guidance to faculty to give students full credit for all courses this semester (regardless of how much work actually gets done). The smart ones are looking ahead to the fall and trying to figure out what to do if enrollment/tuition, state aid and research funding crash, which seems pretty likely if things are not back to normal shortly. The 2008 crash turned out to be a godsend to higher ed, driving huge numbers of unemployed back to school for "re-training." But that bubble only lasted a couple of years and enrollment trends have been steeply downward since 2010-11. The last five years have already seen, again mostly uncommented on, the beginnings of a shake-out (some schools closing, lots of changing emphasis to programs that can bring cash in the door, ubiquitous move to adjuncts instead of permanent faculty). Expect that to ramp up considerably. Ironically, perhaps the only counter-trend has been a HUGE increase in the number of Chinese students (of which there are now apparently about 5K at my Big 10 U) paying full freight. Can that continue?

Anon , March 12, 2020 at 2:53 pm

Well, California does have standards. Getting course credit will require completing 80% of the course curricula. Since the UC System is on the Quarter system (12 weeks, not 15) the UCSC students have likely passed that threshold.

Encouraging International students to attend at out-of-state tuition rates is now standard operating procedure in California. The new president of my local community college unabashedly said it in a recent letter that it was necessary. The college needs to eliminate its $5M budget deficit by 2022. (Real estate investors are salivating: student housing, apartments, and SF Home speculation, etc.)

Mark D , March 12, 2020 at 10:21 am

Harvard's endowment is only $40 billion. How can you expect an institution with only $40 billion in the bank to spend money to help poor students?

Hana M , March 12, 2020 at 11:38 am

From a public health standpoint this is insane. Boston is a known epicenter for the pandemic with reported cases doubling daily. To send students home–wherever home is–without testing for the virus risks spreading the disease further. I hope Governor Charlie Baker will step in stop this from happening.

[Mar 11, 2020]