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Financial skeptic

The more things change in the USA casino capitalism the more they stay the same

Cruise to Frugality Island for stock holding  401K Lemmings

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“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

"Life is a school of probabilities."

Walter Bagehot

Note: Some thoughts  on 2019  added on Jan 3, 2019.

Neoliberal economics (aka casino capitalism) function from one crash to another. Risk is pervasively underpriced under neoliberal system, resulting in bubbles small and large which hit the economy periodically. The problem are not strictly economical or political. They are ideological. Like a country which adopted a certain religion follows a certain path, The USA behaviour after adoption of neoliberalism somewhat correlate with the behaviour of alcoholic who decided to booze himself to death. The difference is that debt is used instead of booze.

Hypertrophied role of financial sector under neoliberalism introduces strong positive feedback look into the economic system making the whole system unstable. Any attempts to put some sand into the wheels in the form of increasing transaction costs or jailing some overzealous bankers or hedge fund managers are blocked by political power of financial oligarchy, which is the actual ruling class under neoliberalism for ordinary investor (who are dragged into stock market by his/her 401K) this in for a very bumpy ride. I managed to observe just two two financial crashed under liberalism (in 2000 and 2008) out of probably four (Savings and loan crisis was probably the first neoliberal crisis). The next crash is given, taking into account that hypertrophied role of financial sector did not changes neither after dot-com crisis of 200-2002 not after 2008 crisis (it is unclear when and if it ended; in any case it was long getting the name of "Great Recession").

Timing of the next crisis is anybody's guess but it might well be closer then we assume. As Mark Twain aptly observed: "A thing long expected takes the form of the unexpected when at last it comes" ;-):

This morning that meant a stream of thoughts triggered by Paul Krugman’s most recent op-ed, particularly this:

Most of all, the vast riches being earned — or maybe that should be “earned” — in our bloated financial industry undermined our sense of reality and degraded our judgment.

Think of the way almost everyone important missed the warning signs of an impending crisis. How was that possible? How, for example, could Alan Greenspan have declared, just a few years ago, that “the financial system as a whole has become more resilient” — thanks to derivatives, no less? The answer, I believe, is that there’s an innate tendency on the part of even the elite to idolize men who are making a lot of money, and assume that they know what they’re doing.

As most 401K investors are brainwashing into being "over bullish", this page is strongly bearish in "perma-bear" fashion in order to serve as an antidote to "Barrons" style cheerleading. Funny, but this page is accessed mostly during periods of economic uncertainty. At least this was the case during the last two financial crisis(2000 and 2008). No so much during good times: the number of visits drops to below 1K a month.

Some thoughts  on 2019

It was clear that 2017 stock market run was detached from fundamentals. Mostly speculative run. And the current stock market decline could well happen three months aerler or three month later but it was in the cards. It is difficult to estimate the power of inertia in such speculative runs. Also layoffs and decline of the standard liming of workers and lower middle class still can continue to improve the balance sheet until "Yellow Vests" moment stops them.

Jobs created now are mostly "inferior" low paid or temp/contractor jobs and the numbers just mask the cruel reality of the USA job market.

Which in reality is dismal, especially for young and old workers. several more or less paid specialties disappeared in 2018 due to automation (cash office worker is one). automatic cashier is supermarkets are also now more visible.  So spontaneous cases of vandalism, killings of coworkers and other form of "action of desperation" (as well as the rate of death from opioids -- which is yet another form of the same) would not be too surprising in such an atmosphere. Even with the power of the current national security state. Trump is playing with fire trying to cut on food stamps and implementing some other action in this program of "national neoliberalism" which is in internal policy is almost undistinguishable from neofascism.  He risk facing "Macron situation" sooner or later.

In any case at some point Minsky moment should arrive for the stock market. I am not sure that the current decline is that start of such an event. It might be postponed further down the line for a year or two.  But it will eventually come.  We can only guess what form it might take, but with the current Apple troubles and valuations of tech sector I think it might take the form of something similar to dot-com bubble deflation No.2

I do not see Amazon, Google, Facebook and Microsoft and other tech high flyers completely immune to the stock crash of 50% magnitude or more. For example, Google is overly dependent on advertising revenue which can grow only by strangulating small sites owners which use it as the advertizing platform (which it successfully implements fro several years now). But at some point owners might revolt and start dropping it for Microsoft or other platform.  Facebook might face a backlash, if people understand that selling data about them in the part of the business model, not an aberration.

One of the most unexplainable things that happened in 2018 was dramatic fall of oil prices in the Q4. This was quite surprising (and destructive) after the period of little or no capital investment in the new fields for three years or so.  Shale oil production increases in the USA are only possible if junk bonds can be produced along with it. Junks bonds that will never be paid. With the current debt load and prices below $50 most of the USA shale oil companies are zombies. Most if not all of thenm are losing money.  Only return of ~$70 oil prices can save them, if anything at all. WSJ touched this topic recently.

So this surprising fall of oil prices (from around $70 to around $43 WTI) looks connected to the speculations in the "paper oil" market.

Financialization allows for oil price to be completely detached from fundamentals for a year or even two (Saudis need over $80 I think to balance the budget, I think; this represents "fair price" as they are one of the three largest producers).

But you will never know this unless there are shortages at gas stations. The difference is covered by inflated statistics from IEA and similar agencies as well as "paper oil" -- future contracts which are settled in dollars.

This is the reality of "casino capitalism" ( aka neoliberalism ) with its rampant and destructive financialization.


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[Nov 26, 2020] The Ruling Elite's War on Truth by Chris Hedges

Notable quotes:
"... Trump and Giuliani are vulgar and buffoonish, but they play the same slimy game as their Democratic opponents. The Republicans scapegoat the deep state, communists and now, bizarrely, Venezuela; the Democrats scapegoat Russia. The widening disconnect from reality by the ruling elite is intended to mask their complicity in the seizure of power by predatory global corporations and billionaires. ..."
"... Silicon Valley billionaires, including Facebook cofounder Dustin Moskovitz and ex-Google CEO Eric Schmidt, donated more than $100 million to a Democratic super PAC that created a torrent of anti-Trump TV ads in the final weeks of the campaign to elect Biden. The heavy infusion of corporate money to support Biden wasn't done to protect democracy. It was done because these corporations and billionaires know a Biden administration will serve their interests. ..."
"... Democratic Senator Chris Murphy told CNN during this campaign that Russian disinformation efforts are "more problematic" than in 2016. He warned that "this time around, the Russians have decided to cultivate U.S. citizens as assets. They are attempting to try to spread their propaganda in the mainstream media." ..."
"... This will be the official mantra of the Democratic Party, a vicious redbaiting campaign without actual reds, especially as the country spirals out of control. The reason I have a show on Russia-funded RT America ..."
"... Voice of America ..."
"... World Socialist Web Site, ..."
"... We let these companies get this monopolistic share of the distribution system. Now they're exercising that power. ..."
"... In the Soviet Union the truth was passed, often hand to hand, in underground samizdat documents, clandestine copies of news and literature banned by the state. The truth will endure. It will be heard by those who seek it out. It will expose the mendacity of the powerful, however hard it will be to obtain. Despotisms fear the truth. They know it is a mortal threat. If we remain determined to live in truth, no matter the cost, we have a chance. ..."
"... The New York Times, ..."
"... The Dallas Morning News ..."
"... The Christian Science Monitor ..."
Nov 23, 2020 | scheerpost.com
40 Comments on Chris Hedges: The Ruling Elite's War on Truth American political leaders display a widening disconnect from reality intended to mask their complicity in the seizure of power by global corporations and billionaires. By Chris Hedges / Original to ScheerPost

Joe Biden's victory instantly obliterated the Democratic Party's longstanding charge that Russia was hijacking and compromising US elections. The Biden victory, the Democratic Party leaders and their courtiers in the media now insist, is evidence that the democratic process is strong and untainted, that the system works. The elections ratified the will of the people.

But imagine if Donald Trump had been reelected. Would the Democrats and pundits at The New York Time s , CNN and MSNBC pay homage to a fair electoral process? Or, having spent four years trying to impugn the integrity of the 2016 presidential race, would they once again haul out the blunt instrument of Russian interference to paint Trump as Vladimir Putin's Manchurian candidate?

Trump and Giuliani are vulgar and buffoonish, but they play the same slimy game as their Democratic opponents. The Republicans scapegoat the deep state, communists and now, bizarrely, Venezuela; the Democrats scapegoat Russia. The widening disconnect from reality by the ruling elite is intended to mask their complicity in the seizure of power by predatory global corporations and billionaires.

... ... ...

The two warring factions within the ruling elite, which fight primarily over the spoils of power while abjectly serving corporate interests, peddle alternative realities. If the deep state and Venezuelan socialists or Russia intelligence operatives are pulling the strings no one in power is accountable for the rage and alienation caused by the social inequality, the unassailability of corporate power, the legalized bribery that defines our political process, the endless wars, austerity and de-industrialization. The social breakdown is, instead, the fault of shadowy phantom enemies manipulating groups such as Black Lives Matters or the Green Party.

"The people who run this country have run out of workable myths with which to distract the public, and in a moment of extreme crisis have chosen to stoke civil war and defame the rest of us – black and white – rather than admit to a generation of corruption, betrayal, and mismanagement," Matt Taibbi writes.

These fictional narratives are dangerous. They erode the credibility of democratic institutions and electoral politics. They posit that news and facts are no longer true or false. Information is accepted or discarded based on whether it hurts or promotes one faction over another. While outlets such as Fox News have always existed as an arm of the Republican Party, this partisanship has now infected nearly all news organizations, including publications such as The New York Times and The Washington Post , along with the major tech platforms that disseminate information and news. A fragmented public with no common narrative believes whatever it wants to believe.

... ... ...

The flagrant partisanship and discrediting of truth across the political spectrum are swiftly fueling the rise of an authoritarian state. The credibility of democratic institutions and electoral politics, already deeply corrupted by PACs, the electoral college, lobbyists, the disenfranchisement of third-party candidates, gerrymandering and voter suppression, is being eviscerated.

Silicon Valley billionaires, including Facebook cofounder Dustin Moskovitz and ex-Google CEO Eric Schmidt, donated more than $100 million to a Democratic super PAC that created a torrent of anti-Trump TV ads in the final weeks of the campaign to elect Biden. The heavy infusion of corporate money to support Biden wasn't done to protect democracy. It was done because these corporations and billionaires know a Biden administration will serve their interests.

The press, meanwhile, has largely given up on journalism. It has retreated into competing echo chambers that only speak to true believers. This catering exclusively to one demographic, which it sets against another demographic, is commercially profitable. But it also guarantees the balkanization of the United States and edges us closer and closer to fratricide.

When Trump leaves the White House millions of his enraged supports, hermetically sealed inside hyperventilating media platforms that feed back to them their rage and hate, will see the vote as fraudulent, the political system as rigged, and the establishment press as propaganda. They will target, I fear, through violence, the Democratic Party politicians, mainstream media outlets and those they demonize as conspiratorial members of the deep state, such as Dr. Anthony Fauci. The Democratic Party is as much to blame for this disintegration as Trump and the Republican Party.

The election of Biden is also very bad news for journalists such as Matt Taibbi, Glen Ford, Margaret Kimberley, Glenn Greenwald, Jeffrey St. Clair or Robert Scheer who refuse to be courtiers to the ruling elites. Journalists that do not spew the approved narrative of the right-wing, or, alternatively, the approved narrative of the Democratic Party, have a credibility the ruling elite fears.

The worse things get – and they will get worse as the pandemic leaves hundreds of thousands dead and thrusts millions of Americans into severe economic distress –the more those who seek to hold the ruling elites, and in particular the Democratic Party, accountable will be targeted and censored in ways familiar to WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, now in a London prison and facing possible extradition to the United States and life imprisonment.

Barack Obama's assault on civil liberties, which included the repeated misuse of the Espionage Act to prosecute whistleblowers, the passage of Section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to permit the military to act as a domestic police force and the ordering of the assassination of U.S. citizens deemed to be terrorists in Yemen, was far worse than those of George W. Bush. Biden's assault on civil liberties, I suspect, will surpass those of the Obama administration.

The censorship was heavy handed during the campaign. Digital media platforms, including Google, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook, along with the establishment press worked shamelessly as propaganda arms for the Biden campaign. They were determined not to make the "mistake" they made in 2016 when they reported on the damaging emails, released by WikiLeaks, from Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman John Podesta. Although the emails were genuine, papers such as The New York Times routinely refer to the Podesta emails as "disinformation." This, no doubt, pleases its readership, 91 percent of whom identify as Democrats according to the Pew Research Center. But it is another example of journalistic malfeasance.

Following the election of Trump, the media outlets that cater to a Democratic Party readership made amends. The New York Times was one of the principal platforms that amplified Russiagate conspiracies, most of which turned out to be false. At the same time, the paper largely ignored the plight of the disposed working class that supported Trump. When the Russiagate story collapsed, the paper pivoted to focus on race, embodied in the 1619 Project. The root cause of social disintegration -- the neoliberal order, austerity and deindustrialization -- was ignored since naming it would alienate the paper's corporate advertisers and the elites on whom the paper depends for access.

Once the 2020 election started, The New York Times and other mainstream outlets censored and discredited information that could hurt Biden, including a tape of Joe Biden speaking with former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, which appears to be authentic. They gave credibility to any rumor, however spurious, which was unfavorable to Trump. Twitter and Facebook blocked access to a New York Post story about the emails allegedly found on Hunter Biden's discarded laptop.

Twitter locked the New York Post out of its own account for over a week. Glenn Greenwald, whose article on Hunter Biden was censored by his editors at The Intercept, which he helped found, resigned. He released the email exchanges with his editors over his article. Ignoring the textual evidence of censorship, editors and writers at The Intercept engaged in a public campaign of character assassination against Greenwald. This sordid behavior by self-identified progressive journalists is a page out of the Trump playbook and a sad commentary on the collapse of journalistic integrity.

The censorship and manipulation of information was honed and perfected against WikiLeaks. When WikiLeaks tries to release information, it is hit with botnets or distributed denial of service attacks. Malware attacks WikiLeaks' domain and website. The WikiLeaks site is routinely shut down or unable to serve its content to its readers. Attempts by WikiLeaks to hold press conferences see the audio distorted and the visual images corrupted. Links to WikiLeaks events are delayed or cut. Algorithms block the dissemination of WikiLeaks content. Hosting services, including Amazon, removed WikiLeaks from its servers. Julian Assange, after releasing the Iraqi war logs, saw his bank accounts and credit cards frozen. WikiLeaks' PayPal accounts were disabled to cut off donations. The Freedom of the Press Foundation in December 2017 closed down the anonymous funding channel to WikiLeaks which was set up to protect the anonymity of donors. A well-orchestrated smear campaign against Assange was amplified and given credibility by the mass media and filmmakers such as Alex Gibney. Assange and WikiLeaks were first. We are next.

Democratic Senator Chris Murphy told CNN during this campaign that Russian disinformation efforts are "more problematic" than in 2016. He warned that "this time around, the Russians have decided to cultivate U.S. citizens as assets. They are attempting to try to spread their propaganda in the mainstream media."

This will be the official mantra of the Democratic Party, a vicious redbaiting campaign without actual reds, especially as the country spirals out of control. The reason I have a show on Russia-funded RT America is the same reason Vaclav Havel could only be heard on the US-funded Voice of America during the communist control of Czechoslovakia. I did not choose to leave the mainstream media. I was pushed out. And once anyone is pushed out, the ruling elite is relentless about discrediting the few platforms left willing to give them, and the issues they raise, a hearing.

"If the problem is 'American citizens' being cultivated as 'assets' trying to put 'interference' in the mainstream media, the logical next step is to start asking Internet platforms to shut down accounts belonging to any American journalist with the temerity to report material leaked by foreigners (the wrong foreigners, of course – it will continue to be okay to report things like the 'black ledger')," writes Taibbi , who has done some of the best reporting on the emerging censorship. "From Fox or the Daily Caller on the right , to left-leaning outlets like Consortium or the World Socialist Web Site, to writers like me even – we're all now clearly in range of new speech restrictions, even if we stick to long-ago-established factual standards."

Taibbi argues that the precedent for overt censorship took place when the major digital platforms – Facebook, Twitter, Google, Spotify, YouTube – in a coordinated move blacklisted the right-wing talk show host Alex Jones.

"Liberal America cheered," Taibbi told me when I interviewed him for my show, " On Contact ":

They said 'Well this is a noxious figure. This is a great thing. Finally, someone's taking action.' What they didn't realize is that we were trading an old system of speech regulation for a new one without any public discussion. You and I were raised in a system where you got punished for speech if you committed libel or slander or if there was imminent incitement to lawless action, right? That was the standard that the Supreme Court set, but that was done through litigation. There was an open process where you had a chance to rebut charges. That is all gone now.

Now, basically there's a handful of these tech distribution platforms that control how people get their media.

They've been pressured by the Senate, which has called all of their CEOs in, and basically ordered them, 'We need you to come up with a plan to prevent the sowing of discord and spreading of misinformation.' This has finally come into fruition. You see a major reputable news organization like the New York Post -- with a 200-year history -- locked out of its own Twitter account.

The story [Hunter Biden's emails] has not been disproven. It's not disinformation or misinformation. It's been suppressed as it would be suppressed in a Third World country. It's a remarkable historic moment. The danger is that we end up with a one-party informational system. There's going to be approved dialogue and unapproved dialogue that you can only get through certain fringe avenues. That's the problem. We let these companies get this monopolistic share of the distribution system. Now they're exercising that power.

In the Soviet Union the truth was passed, often hand to hand, in underground samizdat documents, clandestine copies of news and literature banned by the state. The truth will endure. It will be heard by those who seek it out. It will expose the mendacity of the powerful, however hard it will be to obtain. Despotisms fear the truth. They know it is a mortal threat. If we remain determined to live in truth, no matter the cost, we have a chance.


[Chris Hedges writes a regular original column for ScheerPost every two weeks. Click here to sign up for email alerts.]

Chris Hedges Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who was a foreign correspondent for fifteen years for The New York Times, where he served as the Middle East Bureau Chief and Balkan Bureau Chief for the paper. He previously worked overseas for The Dallas Morning News , The Christian Science Monitor , and NPR. He is the host of the Emmy Award-nominated RT America show On Contact. paul easton NOVEMBER 23, 2020 AT 10:28 AM

It seems like the masters are just as deluded as the slaves. But the situation is unsustainable. When many millions of slaves become homeless and hungry that reality will become unavoidable. Who will they blame? Will they attack one another or will they revolt against the system? Soon we will see. Carolyn L Zaremba NOVEMBER 24, 2020 AT 10:30 AM

I share only alternative media since I don't trust "mainstream" media one iota. I post articles from the World Socialist Web Site, Consortium News, the Grayzone, Caitlin Johnstone and others all the time. I am a socialist. I was only banned from posting on FB once, for criticizing Israel. No surprise there. But I suspect FB of shadow banning, i.e., making it look like you've posted an article but making it invisible to others in their news feeds. I first learned of this practice from Craig Murray, another whose articles I post regularly. paul easton NOVEMBER 25, 2020 AT 1:35 AM

That is a chilling thought. I was shadow banned by medium.com a few years ago. It appeared to me that my posts and comments went in, but no one else could see them. At least with them I could tell something was wrong because I had regular conversations with some people. With FB I don't know if you could ever be sure. R Zwarich NOVEMBER 25, 2020 AT 5:37 AM

Mr. Easton is indeed correct. It is VERY chilling, especially if people would imagine what THEY would do, if they had our Enemy's morally depraved motivations, and if they had the control our Enemy has over ALL our communications switches.

There are three basic types of mass communications. One to many. Many to one. And many to many.

The Enemy has complete access to 'one to many' communications, and complete control over anyone's else's access to same. Many to one communications are ineffective for intrinsic reasons. Many to many communications offer myriad methods of cunningly creative control.

If we send out group emails, for example, in simple old-fashioned list-serves, they who control the switches could easily 'filter', to determine who among addressees gets any message, and who doesn't.

I used to write comments in the Boston Globe, the wholly owned plaything of a VERY weird old Billionaire and his proud and beautiful young trophy wife. (Less than half his age, of course). At first I thought the Globe NEVER censored. I could write anything, and it would post. Ahh but then I learned that the Globe is a HEAVY handed censor, but was clever enough to put a 'cookie' in your browser folder to tell their server to let you see your own comments, so you would not even know that no one else could see them. It was 'stealth censorship'.

We should try to remember that these people are morally depraved, in their constant paroxysms of raw Greed and raw Lust. No force exists any longer in our nation to restrain them. Anything we can 'see' that they CAN do, we can pretty much figure they already DO do, or else sooner or later will. Carol Shapiro NOVEMBER 23, 2020 AT 1:44 PM

While I don't agree with you, Chris Hedges, all the time, I believe you are our one. true. journalist. Thankful for your honesty. Insight. Huge intellect. Global experience. I am an "unenrolled" voter -- an extremely disillusioned former Bernie Sanders supporter. Truly, I feel like he would have been our closest attempt to achieving a real "citizen government". What a laughable term that is these days. Bernie never would have had a chance running as a Democrat – absurd. He should have walked out of that convention four years ago and taken his supporters with him. Oh wait- you said that. Never NOVEMBER 23, 2020 AT 2:59 PM

Don't forget that the selective coverage by the NY Times in this campaign didn't start when Biden became the nominee. Up to that time, the Times ran one or two articles on Sanders it seems. Whatever the number, it was miniscule. They almost completely ignored one of the most significant campaigns in modern history, thus helping to ensure it died on the vine. And when they did cover it one or two times, it was always negative.

Thank you, Chris, for your tireless work in defense of our stolen democracy. yuri NOVEMBER 23, 2020 AT 4:37 PM

US liberals more fascist than conservatives–long observed by historians/social philosophers
"amerikans do not converse as Tocqueville wrote, amerikans entertain each other. amerikans do not exchange ideas, they exchange images. the problem w amerikans is not Orwellian–it is huxleyan: amerikans love their oppression: Neil Postman Stephen Morrell NOVEMBER 24, 2020 AT 1:18 AM

Glenn Greenwald's points need stressing: (i) some of the most vociferous proponents of online censorship are mainstream and 'alternative' 'journalists' who on repeated occasions have egged on the carriers to shut sites, pages, accounts or postings; (ii) these 'journalists' aren't just serving the narrowest band of oligarchic media empires in history, but also are ivy-league bourgeois brats with no interest at all in exposing the injustices or malfeasance of bourgeois society, unlike many journalists of the past; and (iii) that it's not in the immediate material interests of the carriers to conduct the censorship, especially in the longterm, since it consumes resources and lowers traffic and profits. They'd much rather the government do it and for them to be compensated at taxpayer expense.

To avoid future potential government antitrust measures or nationalisation (heaven forbid!), Zuckerberg and his ilk have been censoring in heavyhanded and hamfisted ways that aren't so 'autonomous' but for the moment at least can be traced along the usual Democrat-controlled thinktank and CIA/FBI lines, which of course also are beyond public scrutiny. Despite the prospects for freedom of reach (and reach is what it's really about) apparently growing dimmer with each senate committee appearance by the carrier oligarchs, ways and means will be found to circumvent their draconian measures. While alternative non-censoring platforms have yet to gain significant traction, it likely won't take much for one to catch on, perhaps sparked by an outrageous event of suppression, that turns Facebook, Twitter, etc, into museum pieces. One might imagine, for instance, Wikileaks-style YouTube, Facebook, Twitter equivalents that act as true carriers, purely machine-based and devoid of human interference, that precludes them becoming the 'moral guardians' that Twitter, Facebook etc, are quickly metamorphising into.

As increasing swathes of the population appear not to be aligning within the bourgeoisie's preset ideological 'tribal' boundaries, there's a certain schadenfreude in seeing the rulers in dread of the truth getting out and spreading uncontrollably. Their tailored counter-narratives simply are too enfeebled and slight to square with the hard reality that's hitting everyone, from the most educated and brainwashed to the least. That ivy-league stenographers are being pressed into the service of censorship gives some indication of the desperation of the rulers. We all know, as do they but can never admit it publicly, that censorship and repression are frank admissions that they've lost all 'arguments' for their very existence.

To an extent, Trump has been responsible for letting the genie out of the bottle, as the first president probably since before Andrew Jackson to have failed, repeatedly, to put lipstick on the racist, capitalist imperial pig. The efforts by the ruling class at censorship and naked suppression of freedom of reach and of access to sources of truthful information will only increase in desperation as their myth-making narratives become ever more unable to rationalise a crisis that's they're beginning to see as intractable and endangering their rule.

[Nov 22, 2020] Covid-19 pandemic could bring economic crisis on scale of 'Great Depression,' Putin tells G20 warns of poverty social dis

Nov 22, 2020 | www.rt.com

Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned that the coronavirus pandemic could lead to a global economic collapse that would have a significant impact on the lives of millions of people across the world.

Speaking at the virtual G20 summit of international leaders on Saturday, Putin warned that, "despite some positive signals, the main risk is still the so-called stagnant mass unemployment with a subsequent increase in poverty and social disorder."

"The coronavirus epidemic, the global lockdown and the freezing of economic activity launched a systemic economic crisis, which the modern world has not known since the Great Depression," he added.

Putin also lavished praise on the "massive contribution" of the US, which, along with other countries, has joined together to "create a stimulus package for the world economy to the tune of $12 trillion." Mainly put forward by large economies, including Russia's, the stimulus is thought to have played a role in buoying fragile world markets.

[Nov 16, 2020] COVID-19 -Restriction-- U.S. Set to Lose 9.2 Million Jobs in Tourism and Travel Sector - Global ResearchGlobal Research - Centre for Research on Globalization

Notable quotes:
"... A staggering 9.2 million jobs could be lost in the U.S. Travel & Tourism sector in 2020 if barriers to global travel remain in place, the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) revealed. ..."
Nov 16, 2020 | www.globalresearch.ca

By World Travel & Tourism Council Global Research, November 13, 2020 World Travel & Tourism Council 11 November 2020 Region: USA

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A staggering 9.2 million jobs could be lost in the U.S. Travel & Tourism sector in 2020 if barriers to global travel remain in place, the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) revealed.

The new figure comes from WTTC's latest economic modelling, which looks at the punishing impact of COVID-19 and travel restrictions on the Travel & Tourism sector.

According to the latest data, 7.2 million jobs in the U.S. have been impacted. If there is no immediate alleviation of restrictions on international travel, as many as 9.2 million jobs – more than half of all jobs supported by the sector in the U.S. in 2019 – would be lost.

WTTC has identified the four top priorities which should be addressed, including the adoption of a comprehensive and cost-effective testing regime at departure to avoid transmission, the re-opening of key 'air corridors' such as between New York and London, and international coordination.

The challenge of restoring safe travels in the new normal is one of the biggest issues facing the U.S. as it grapples with a depressed economy devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has hit the Travel & Tourism sector particularly hard.

The WTTC Economic Impact Report for 2019 revealed that Travel & Tourism contributed $1.84 trillion to the U.S. economy and was responsible for more than one in 10 (10.7%) American jobs.

[Nov 12, 2020] Which groups of the USA elite played major role in 2020 elections

Notable quotes:
"... The grouping is thus; 1) Coastal Elites/Wall Street/City of London/Private Banking/Atlantacism/Libertarian Free Market Economics aka finance capitalism ..."
"... The middle of America is land power, and is opposed to Atlantacism, rim theory, blue water navy power projection, importation of third world people, and export of jobs and factories. ..."
Nov 12, 2020 | www.unz.com

Mefobills says: November 11, 2020 at 4:30 pm GMT • 7.2 hours ago 300 Words

Indeed, one can't help but wonder whether the historic American nation would fare better under outright foreign occupation than a hostile elite which considers itself our rulers and treats us with open contempt, if not hatred.

Russia or China would not flood the historic American nation with "third world people" in order to chase after a dollar. A good argument could be made that China or Russia would be a better government for Heartland America than the "international" coastal elites.

The coastal elites are wedded to finance capitalism. This group of people want a thin veneer of Oligarchs (themselves) controlling a mixed race, or brown population in their factories. Finance Capital wants to make illicit gains. Finance capital could care less about improving labor ability of the native population.

The grouping is thus; 1) Coastal Elites/Wall Street/City of London/Private Banking/Atlantacism/Libertarian Free Market Economics aka finance capitalism . (In short, the coastal elites are for an "international world order" with them in charge, with them making their finance nut with usury, rents, and unearned income. Lying and cheating is ok, because only money matters. Their capital is fungible, meaning it can fly anywhere in the world to make gains, and to them labor has legs and is also fungible, to then lower prices – to make gains.)

Land Powers, such as China and Russia are not "international" in their thinking. Although they do some power projection into blue water as a form of defense. They are interested in improving their sovereign population.

The middle of America is land power, and is opposed to Atlantacism, rim theory, blue water navy power projection, importation of third world people, and export of jobs and factories.

The American system of economy of the founders was the first industrial capitalism, and the "credit of the nation" went toward infrastructure, public health, and improving the commons.

The Jew and English finance capitalism method, first combined together in 1694, and has always been at war with heartland America. The parasite is dug in deep.

[Nov 09, 2020] Biden victory in some ways looks like Catch 22 for neoliberal Dems

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... But while they now have the power, globalists do not have solutions to the country problems, and the crisis of neoliberalism (which started in 2008) will continue, the far-right nationalism will stay and may even gain strength. This suggests that in 2024 is somebody like Tucker Carlson will lead the ticket. And Tucker is a more dangerous opponent to neoliberal Dems than Trump ever been. "Trumpism without Trump" will live, so to speak. ..."
Nov 09, 2020 | crookedtimber.org

Hidari 11.08.20 at 8:20 pm

Interesting piece by Beinart about the obvious question that isn't being asked: Why did Trump lose? After all he had the advantages of incumbency, until February the stock market was booming, wages were rising, things were going great.

Answer: because he was not nearly radical enough. Because he was a weak leader who was captured by the Republican elite (not the other way round). Also (rather ironic this) because he was and is a terrible negotiater. He continually caved into the likes of Mitch McConnell, and, well the rest is history.

Question: will 'super Trump' in 4 or 8 years time manage to follow the Eastern European template and create a genuine populist party? (economically social democratic, particularly concentrating on pensioners: extremely hostile to immigration, skeptical of environmental issues, culturally conservative?). If so the future is the Republicans' but it's a big if.

https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2020/11/07/how-trump-lost/

likbez 11.09.20 at 4:20 pm (no link)

@Hidari 11.08.20 at 8:20 pm

...he was a weak leader who was captured by the Republican elite (not the other way round). Also (rather ironic this) because he was and is a terrible negotiator. He continually caved into the likes of Mitch McConnell, and, well the rest is history.

All true. But Biden victory in some ways looks like Catch 22 for neoliberal Dems (Will the Democrats Ever Make Sense of This Week? – New Republic):

In sum, if the results we have hold, Joe Biden will win the election and preside over a divided Congress. A chastened and anxious Democratic caucus will continue to hold the House.

A triumphant Senate Republican caucus will obviously destroy his major legislative agenda. Biden will assuredly turn to policy by executive action, just as Barack Obama did late in his legislatively stymied administration.

When he does, Republicans will do all they can to send those actions to a 6–3 conservative Supreme Court Biden will be unable to pack or meaningfully reform.

In defeating Trump, Democrats will have avoided their worst-case scenario. Instead, they will have won the worst possible Biden victory, a political situation that will be a nightmare all its own.

Trump, with his "national neoliberalism," was an anomaly in its own right. And such things do not last long. So this is a kind of "return to normal" -- return to power of the "internationalist" faction of Oligarchy who is linked to globalization (and constitutes the majority of the US oligarchy), which was unexpectedly defeated in 2016 and since then foght tooth and nail for the return to power. And such "normalization" is the most logical outcome of the 2020 elections and is to be expected.

But while they now have the power, globalists do not have solutions to the country problems, and the crisis of neoliberalism (which started in 2008) will continue, the far-right nationalism will stay and may even gain strength. This suggests that in 2024 is somebody like Tucker Carlson will lead the ticket. And Tucker is a more dangerous opponent to neoliberal Dems than Trump ever been. "Trumpism without Trump" will live, so to speak.

That may spell troubles for the well-being of the PMC (professional and management class) to which we all belong.

I would add that the fact that Biden victory legitimized Russia-gate and abuse of their power by intelligence agencies is also a problem. I suspect that Neo-McCarthyism, in the long run, might backfire.

[Nov 07, 2020] Supporters of the Democratic Party are mainly demotic elites who benefit from globalization and liberalization of the global economy, and those who support the Republican Party are middle- and lower-class people, and religious conservatives

Nov 07, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

karlof1 , Nov 6 2020 18:58 utc | 113

Wow! Today's Global Times editorial about the election and its outcome is very perceptive in its entirety making it very hard to determine an excerpt. I decided on the center 4 paragraphs as they're a coherent whole:

"Every society has internal divergences and contradictions. The design of the US system indulges and even encourages the fermentation of contradictions. Mechanisms help maintain the balance between interests and power. For a long time, this performed relatively well, but new challenges are changing the conditions of US mechanisms, and changing relations between the effectiveness of US mechanisms and the difficulties US society faces.

"The fundamental change is that the US has been consuming its accumulated advantages against the backdrop of globalization. Its pattern of interests has been fixated, and the overall competitiveness of the country has been sliding. The welfare it has made for the people cannot match people's demands and expectations. The mechanism that distributes interests solidifies and further erodes social ability of promoting unity.

"In the internet era, identity politics is rising. People can easily feel that their rights are deprived because they are from a certain social class. Maintaining social unity has become an increasingly arduous and sensitive task. Obviously, the US needs political reforms more than many other countries to enhance its ability to promote unity.

"But in the past four years, the Trump administration, incited by the US election system, has pushed the country into a risky path where it enhances division to boost the existing pattern of political interests. There are so many social woes in US society, be it between different races and classes, between new immigrants and old ones, and between different regions, let alone partisan. But now the objective of society has been cast on Trump's reelection. This objective has to a great extent squeezed the room of US society to pursue maximum common interests."

But I really insist reading the entire editorial.

In an op/ed by a professor at the Center for American Studies of Fudan University, we learn what some close observers from outside see as the primary contradictions within the Outlaw US Empire:

"There are two main contradictions in the US. First, contradictions between the whites and ethnic minorities. The advantageous position of the whites continues to decrease and they would lose their dominance over the country in the future. This makes their tolerance and confidence in ethnic minorities decrease as well. The ratio of the population of ethnic minorities is rising. This increases their demand for equality and rights.

"It is normal for ethnic minorities to demand for corresponding political, social, economic and cultural positions, but this will pose a severe challenge to the cultural, religious and racial nature of the US. As the US population continues to lose balance, related conflicts will break out or even become a periodic and escalating crisis.

"Second, contradictions between elites and ordinary people. Supporters of the Democratic Party are mainly demotic elites who benefit from globalization and liberalization of the global economy, and those who support the Republican Party are middle- and lower-class people, and religious conservatives. This is very clear in the county-based electoral maps. Trump-supporting counties that are vast, under populated and economically backward, surround cities and counties that support the Democratic Party, while Democrat-dominated counties and cities use their economic and population advantages to lead the political pattern in some states. The contradictions between elites and ordinary people will not end with the election."

Not stated clearly IMO is that these contradictions are Centrifugal in their affects on the overall society thus impeding attempts to reform the polity and gain control over the forces exerting actual control that are beyond government.

[Nov 06, 2020] The elites may control who gets nominated but no matter how flawed or repugnant their candidate is or how obvious that the candidate was chosen for them the flocks that follow the candidates act as if they did the choosing.

Nov 06, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

jinn , Nov 5 2020 13:48 utc | 27

The elites may control who gets nominated but no matter how flawed or repugnant their candidate is or how obvious that the candidate was chosen for them the flocks that follow the candidates act as if they did the choosing.

Trump was given 10 times the free advertising than all the other primary candidates combined and yet his followers think they picked him.

And Biden will go down in history as the candidate who got more popular votes than any other candidate ever has and yet he is about as popular as a hemorrhoid.

[Nov 06, 2020] Here's Your Historical Analogy Menu- Rome, The USSR, Or Revolutionary France

Notable quotes:
"... One camp within the elites recognizes the danger and seeks reforms , but the reforms are too little, too late, and in any event, the elites who cling most ardently to the past stability fight the reform movement to a standstill. ..."
"... So take your pick, America: what's the closest analogy? A sclerotic Politburo of elders living in the past, an elite fiddling while the nation disintegrates, or an elite so out of touch with reality that it claims inflation is zero while the populace can no longer afford bread? ..."
Nov 05, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Rome, the USSR and Revolutionary France are all compelling analogies due to the hubristic cluelessness of their fractured elites as the pretensions of stability collapsed around them. Even though Nero didn't actually fiddle while Rome burned and Marie Antoinette didn't gush "Let them eat brioche" when notified that the peasants had no bread (or more accurately, could no longer afford it), these myths are handy encapsulations of the disconnect from reality that infested the elites in the last years before the deluge of non-linear chaos overwhelmed the regimes.

While historians gather evidence of tipping points such as pandemics, ecological damage, invasions, droughts, inflation, etc., the core dynamic is ultimately the loss of social cohesion within the ruling elites and in the social order at large.

As a generality, the permanence of the status quo is taken for granted by elites, who then feel free to squabble amongst themselves over the spoils of wealth and power. Distracted by their own infighting, the elites are blind to the erosion of the foundations of their power.

As coherence in the elites unravels, the ties uniting the elites with the masses unravel as well.

One camp within the elites recognizes the danger and seeks reforms , but the reforms are too little, too late, and in any event, the elites who cling most ardently to the past stability fight the reform movement to a standstill.

As social cohesion unravels, systems that once seemed immutable (i.e. linear ) suddenly display non-linear dynamics in which modest changes that would have made little difference in the past now unleash regime-shattering disorder.

So take your pick, America: what's the closest analogy? A sclerotic Politburo of elders living in the past, an elite fiddling while the nation disintegrates, or an elite so out of touch with reality that it claims inflation is zero while the populace can no longer afford bread?

They all lead to the same destination.


richsob , 1 hour ago

I know a lot of history and I think we will go the route of Rome. We will have a slow slide into total failure from a debased currency, an over extended military, tax revolts, unmanageable immigration and an internal war among the elites.

HRH of Aquitaine 2.0 , 1 hour ago

My name is an indirect reference to France and the French Revolution.

When Pelosi was photo'd in front of two massive Sub Zero fridges with gourmet ice cream, that was the equivalent of "let them eat brioche." She is fvucking clueless. A tool that is barely coherent, much like Joe.

People see through it. The greed of the politicians, and their apparatchiks, the bureaucrats, is obvious to anyone willing to look. FFS apparatchiks can retire with six fixure salaries after being a government employee! People are sick to death of their arrogance, their greed, their out-and-out abuse of the taxpayer!

The other analogy, which I think is valid, is to ancient Rome. I was a philosophy major / Latin minor so took quite few courses involving the classes, reading the classics, or translating them. I also spent a semester in Rome, tramping through the Forum and walking underground and overground. In 1997 Rome was a beautiful city, mostly safe.

Anyhow, ancient Rome ended up debasing their currency, literally. Which the US (and other central banks) are doing with excessive money printing.

Excessive taxation drove away the tax base of ancient Rome. The first jingle keys event was there. Why? Taxes were too high. People will work hard if there is a profit incentive and they are able to earn a good return from their labor. Once that incentive was gone, people abandoned their farms and property and left. Where did they go? Away. Away from the tax collectors, which were richly rewarded for any taxes they were able to collect. I suppose at the end, the collection methods became quite brutal. At that point, when it is your money or your life, you throw the tax collector your money and flee with your life. You walk away from land that you love and start over.

Never an easy choice to abandon one's land and home. But that is exactly what happened.

Central bankers and governments, along with the common citizen, would do well to heed historical precedents.

MAOUS , 31 minutes ago

I see it more like The Godfather Part I & II. We were betrayed by the stupidest simpletons of our own family (citizenry) that sold us out for trinkets, false promises of grandeur and propaganda from Rival Mafia Families who wanted to rub our family out, kill our leader and take over. "I didn't know until today, it was Barzini all along." Yeah, but Fredo was the turn coat that made it all possible. Meet the simpletons of our Family known as your fellow American voter. "A Republic, if you can keep it." We lost it, kiss it goodbye. Say hello to the new Black Hand on the block.

Omega Point , 1 hour ago

One of the best articles on ZH in a while. The elites are so full of hubris, they behave as if the state of affairs since the post-WWII era has always been the state of affairs throughout history and are immutable. They believe that they are cause of America's dominance, not the individuals who built this country on whose goodwill they are now quickly draining.

I think we're like Rome. Currency debasement, no border security, massively corrupt politicians, most of population on welfare, and games and circuses to distract from the rot.

The elites will soon be surprised how quickly things will decline, just as shocked as the Romans when the Visigoths came through the city walls and looted the Imperial City in 410 AD.

play_arrow
sbin , 1 hour ago

The USSR was very similar with decrepit old party hacks ruining everything.

Unfortunately American exceptional lunatics will try to destroy the world before excepting reality.

Never been a group so corrupt and delusional with so much destructive weaponry.

Dr Strangelove is more appropriate.

RKKA , 1 hour ago

In the summer of 1941, the 4th Panzer Division of Heinz Guderian, one of the most talented German tank generals, broke through to the Belarusian town of Krichev. Parts of the 13th Soviet Army were retreating. Only one gunner, Nikolai Sirotinin, did not retreat - very young, short, thin.

On that day, it was necessary to cover the withdrawal of troops. “There will be two people with a cannon here,” said the battery commander. Nikolai volunteered. The second was the commander himself.

On the morning of July 17, a column of German tanks appeared on the highway.

Nikolai took up a position on the hill right on the field. The cannon was sinking in the high rye, but he could clearly see the highway and the bridge over the river. When the lead tank reached the bridge, Nikolai knocked it out with the first shot. The second shell set fire to the armored personnel carrier that closed the column.

We must stop here. Because it is still not entirely clear why Nikolai was left alone at the cannon. But there are versions. He apparently had just the task - to create a "traffic jam" on the bridge, knocking out the head car of the Nazis. The lieutenant at the bridge and adjusted the fire, and then, disappeared. It is reliably known that the lieutenant was wounded and then he left towards the withdrawing positions. There is an assumption that Nikolai had to move away, having completed the task. But ... he had 60 rounds. And he stayed!

Two tanks tried to move the lead tank off the bridge, but they were also hit. The armored vehicle tried to cross the river not across the bridge. But she got stuck in a swampy shore, where another shell found her. Nikolai shot and shot, knocking out tank after tank ...

Guderian's tanks rested on Nikolai Sirotinin, like the Chinese wall, like the Brest fortress. Already 11 tanks and 6 armored personnel carriers were on fire! For almost two hours of this strange battle, the Germans could not understand where the gun was firing from. And when we reached the position of Nikolai, he had only three shells left. The Germans offered him to surrender. Nikolai responded by firing at them with a carbine.

This last battle was short-lived ...

11 tanks and 7 armored vehicles, 57 soldiers and officers were lost by the Nazis after the battle, where they were blocked by the Russian soldier Nikolai Sirotinin.

The inscription on the monument: "Here at dawn on July 17, 1941 entered into combat with a column of fascist tanks and in a two-hour battle repulsed all enemy attacks, senior artillery sergeant Nikolai Vladimirovich Sirotinin, who gave his life for the freedom and independence of our Motherland."

"After all, he is a Russian soldier, is such admiration necessary?" These words were written down in his diary by Chief Lieutenant of the 4th Panzer Division Henfeld: “July 17, 1941. Sokolnichi, near Krichev. An unknown Russian soldier was buried in the evening. He alone stood at the cannon, shot a convoy of our tanks and infantry for a long time, and died. Everyone was amazed at his courage ... Oberst (Colonel) before the grave said that if all the soldiers of the Fuehrer fought like this Russian soldier, they would have conquered the whole world! Three times they fired volleys from rifles. After all, he is a Russian soldier, is such admiration necessary? "

Ordinary people were ready to defend and die for the USSR. And who is Gorbachev, who destroyed the USSR. A traitor who betrayed everything and everyone. A stupid dilettante who imagines himself a world-class politician. The main drawback of the USSR was that the power was too concentrated in the hands of one person, who was trusted without question. But when people realized where he was leading the country, it was too late.

Max21c , 2 hours ago

It's a mix between Nazi Germany and its criminality and thievery and persecution machinery, and Bolshevist Russia and its criminality and thievery and persecution machinery and many third world banana republics and their criminality and thievery and political persecution machinery.

Face it Washingtonians are evil.

ZeroTruth , 1 hour ago

Americuck in and of its entirety is just a criminal organization. I know a restaraunteur that started his business in the Bay Area selling drugs using a fleet of vehicles that had hidden compartments everywhere. Each vehicle was capable of holding up to half a key of yay and powdered molly already grammed up. Drivers were issued burner phones and given orders via dispatcher.

Last I checked, he had 7 restaurants that did amazing business and those vehicles were still on the road providing the other service. That's just one of the many I know of and it's small time compared to what the US government is doing.

ZeroTruth , 1 hour ago

Americuck in and of its entirety is just a criminal organization. I know a restaraunteur that started his business in the Bay Area selling drugs using a fleet of vehicles that had hidden compartments everywhere. Each vehicle was capable of holding up to half a key of yay and powdered molly already grammed up. Drivers were issued burner phones and given orders via dispatcher.

Last I checked, he had 7 restaurants that did amazing business and those vehicles were still on the road providing the other service. That's just one of the many I know of and it's small time compared to what the US government is doing.

DeeDeeTwo , 2 hours ago

The elites, Big Tech, Media and Deep State threw the kitchen sink at this election and did not move the needle. Regardless of who is next President, nothing changes. This is a tribute to the stability of the American system. In fact, the pendulum is swinging against the subversives who are becoming increasingly reckless and discredited.

TBT or not TBT , 2 hours ago

What did Huxley call the future country depicted in Brave New World?

[Nov 05, 2020] Before the War of Secession, the South was richer in USD terms than the North - but war quickly revealed most of the South's "GDP" was financialization (speculation over the slaves' prices).

Nov 05, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Zanon , Nov 3 2020 18:41 utc | 9

Actually economy is doing better than expected. Even though Covid will contintue to be a threat against economic growth.
"U.S. GDP booms at 33.1% rate in Q3, better than expected"
https://www.cnbc.com/2020/10/29/us-gdp-report-third-quarter-2020.html


Mr Funchu , Nov 3 2020 20:31 utc | 60

@zanon: "Actually economy is doing better than expected. Even though Covid will contintue to be a threat against economic growth.
"U.S. GDP booms at 33.1% rate in Q3, better than expected"

LMAO. I guess you also think the stock market is an economic indicator that reflects the well-being of normal people.

And yeah, if you pump $4,000,000,000,000 into a bunch of corporations and the ludicrous stock market casino, the "economy" of any country will "do better".

If Greece during it's financial crisis had $4 trillion to spare and gave it all to their oligarchs and robber barons, would Greece's "economy" mean the country was doing great? Give me a break.

vk , Nov 4 2020 4:31 utc | 161

This:

The US economy – some facts

Explains this:

@EmmaVigeland

No matter the outcome, the fact that this election is so close is a clear indicator that Americans aren't connecting material conditions on the ground -- a depression, pandemic, low wages, etc -- to the consequences of politics. Which is an abject, disgusting failure of Democrats.

We can observe the American economy has declined since 1980 relatively - but not by much. It was China that skyrocketed.

This is why the political polarization in the USA right now is being fought mainly on moral/ideological grounds. The American people still thinks it has sufficient time and resources to first fight among itself (put the proverbial traun back on its tracks) - only to then subjugate the rest of world (like it did in 1946 and 1992).

The Americans are still rationalizing in moral-ethic-ideological terms because their economy stagnated and is degrading - but not collapsing. This still gives them a material base to fuel their pride.

But pay attention: those data are in USD terms. Its industry was what declined the most in the linked fact sheet above. Before the War of Secession, the South was richer in USD terms than the North - but war quickly revealed most of the South's "GDP" was financialization (speculation over the slaves' prices).

[Nov 02, 2020] Over half of college seniors who graduated from public and private nonprofit colleges in 2019 had student-loan debt averaging $28K

A decent state should provide for gifted student lodging and $400 a month so that they can graduate. Less gifted students need to pay.
Nov 02, 2020 | newsletter.chronicle.com

Institute for College Access & Success (Ticas) has just released its annual report on what college graduates owe in student debt . The latest: 62 percent of college seniors who graduated from public and private nonprofit colleges in 2019 had student-loan debt averaging $28,950, slightly lower than the previous year. Still, the rise in graduates' student-debt burden has far outpaced inflation over the 15 years Ticas has been tracking it.

[Nov 02, 2020] WTO was formed in 1995 after the fall of Eastern blocks, to dominate and control the world trade in US fiat currency specially when China with her cheap skilled labor was to become major world manufacturers of goods.

Nov 02, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Kooshy , Nov 1 2020 20:46 utc | 31

Like the petrodollars, WTO better known as globalization, was formed in 1995 after the fall of Eastern blocks ,to dominate and control the world trade in US fiat currency specially when China with her cheap skilled labor was to become major world manufacturers of goods. Basically like oil America agreed not to impose tariff on goods they consumed if you trade and exported on their fiat currency which costed US nothing to produce. Obviously unlike oil trade this globalization of trade in US dollar could not work, since unlike oil trade America couldn't politically dominated and control the good manufacturing countries, like it could, with small oil producing countries. The period of free trade in goods and energy is coming to an end, therefore US needs to lower her standards of living, or to go to major wars with other resources hungry powers to continue colonizing the third world resources and labor. Either way the end result will be the sam as for, not so Great Britain, ottomans, Spanish, Persian empires, the only obvious difference shorter empire.

Kooshy

[Nov 02, 2020] The banks and another excellent write up at Wall Street on Parade.

Nov 02, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

uncle tungsten , Nov 1 2020 21:59 utc | 42

The banks and another excellent write up at Wall Street on Parade .

Again Ferdinand Pecora harking back to the 1930's as discussed in the past weeks commentaries:-

Wilmarth's writing is so insightful and profound in its analysis of the similarities between the banks of the late 1920s and today that it feels like the ghost of Ferdinand Pecora might have been whispering in Wilmarth's ear. Pecora was a former prosecutor from New York who was chosen to preside over much of the early 1930s Senate Banking hearings and investigations of the corrupt Wall Street structure that led to the 1929 crash and Great Depression.

Three banking names that played significant roles in the crash of 1929 and the ensuing Great Depression were National City Bank, JP Morgan, and Chase National Bank. National City Bank was the precursor to today's Citigroup, the bank that would have collapsed in 2008 except for the largest taxpayer and Federal Reserve bailout in global banking history. JPMorgan and Chase combined in 2000 to create today's JPMorgan Chase.

[Nov 02, 2020] Variant Perception Macro Chief Discusses The Reinflation Trade And Looming 'Commodity Supercycle' -

Nov 02, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Variant Perception Macro Chief Discusses The Reinflation Trade And Looming 'Commodity Supercycle' by Tyler Durden Sun, 11/01/2020 - 14:30 Twitter Facebook Reddit Email Print

For weeks now, we've been been pointing to expectations that a Joe Biden victory, accompanied by a Democratic sweep of the Senate, could accelerate a "reflation" trade , as the world witnesses the shift toward fiscal policy in the form of massive fiscal stimulus supplant QE as the preferred vehicle for the central bank carrying out its monetary policy objectives.

This fusion between fiscal and monetary policy is an inevitable consequence of the Fed's shouldering the burden of promoting economic "equality", or at least combating "inequality" - a laughably ironic objective for the Fed, which has done more than any other single entity in blowing the equity asset bubble that's driven economic inequality in the US back to levels last seen during the Gilded Age.

Well, after having MMT pioneer Stephanie Kelton, best known as the go-to economic policy advisor for AOC and Bernie Sanders, on the show, MacroVoices this week followed up with an individual who has examined the potential blowback caused by this historic policy shift.

This week, MV host Erik Townsend interviewed Tian Yang, the head of macro at Variant Perception, an established research shop that frequently produces opinion columns in the financial press. During this week's interview, Yang outlines the findings from a slide deck that was provided free by MacroVoices to all members (membership is free)

After the historic drubbing endured by crude in the US earlier this year, Yang is among a group of strategists who have been warning about the reflationary blowback that the Fed is risking now that it has explicitly decided to allow inflation to run hot.

Yang outlines some of these concepts in the interview, which we have excerpted below:

* * *

Erik: And where do you see the inflation story coming into this?

Central Banks Must 'Play Their Part'

Tian : So I think we need to think about inflation both from a structural point of view and a cyclical point of view. So the thing to say is cyclically, when unemployment rates are still quite high, when there's still capacity in the economy, you don't expect to see kind of immediate pickup in core inflation. Headline could tick up a little bit when commodity prices industrial commodity, so forth, initiate pickup, so on the cyclical front, there's not necessarily as much inflation pressure right now.

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But structurally, we've seen some truly seismic shifts in the kind of policy landscape and the structure of the economy actually just this year. When you see governments and developed market governments around the world start to run giant fiscal deficits funded by central banks, that's obviously a very dramatic shift away from independent central banking and the focus on inflation.

This is very much going back to the old Keynesian kind of playbook of essentially, fiscal led growth and at the same time, we've seen the US Federal Reserve do a number of quite dramatic shifts this year. Firstly, moving to average inflation targeting is obviously quite a big mission that they don't really know where the NAIRU (Non-accelerating inflation rate of unemployment) is, they don't really care what the NAIRU is, they are just going to run the economy and let it run hot.

And such a policy is also pretty timing consistent because it's not well defined, what's the period over which we're targeting average inflation. The incentive will always be as inflation picks up for policymakers to just run their heart because it's easier to kind of keep the party going.

So, both fiscal and monetary policy are starting to become a lot more expansionary and loose. And the historical precedents for this kind of price action would probably go back to World War 2 with a fair-trade record, that essentially meant fiscal deficits would be very large. But there was a moral imperative for the central banks to finance the government deficits, and that ended up creating a lot of inflation.

And this time around, the moral imperative is that the central bank's got to play their part with the pandemic. And going into the future, the central bank probably has to play their part was addressing inequality, climate change, or any of these big issues that essentially justifies why central banks should finance government deficits.

So that's quite dramatic policy shift, the other thing that's happened is that the Fed is now proactively kind of destroying the quality of its balance sheet. So again, as extreme, we could go back to when we were on the gold standard, if you look at central bank balance sheet, most currencies backed by gold, right.

So $1 is an asset for us but for the central bank $1 is a liability so previously they backed it on the asset side of their balance sheet with gold. Obviously, over time we abandoned the gold standard, so forth, the quality of assets on the central bank's balance sheet is getting worse and worse. And obviously, this year, the fact that they started buying corporate bonds, the fact that, they're willing to take on fallen angels, hide your debt and take on more credit risk is just another reflection of just the weakening central bank balance sheets.

It's not necessarily a immediate concern, but it lays the foundations for people to kind of increase inflation expectations and to really worry about what the value of the dollar is. And so when you have these kind of structural shifts in policy coming together in a couple ways to make a kind of deterioration in central bank balance sheets and government balance sheets. That's typically been the recipe for inflation expectations to become unhinged.

From A Lake To An Ocean

Erik: Tian, I love the picture on page five where you're talking about lake and ocean regimes of inflation. Needless to say, you're not talking about a necessarily a really calm easy day out on the ocean, but maybe a stormy day.

Now I want to go back to what you said because it seems to me that the game is very different this time around in that you drew an analogy to, okay, after World War 2 we move to a whole lot of deficit spending, which should be inflationary. The thing is, after World War 2 we were still, as you said, on a gold standard. And the big inflation didn't really get unleashed until we came after the gold standard with the breakdown of Bretton Woods in 1971.

Now, this time around, we're going to have I think the same if not a greater shift to a public policy emphasis on major spending programs with a lot of deficit spending. But we're already in a pure fiat environment, so nobody's pretending there's a constraint on how much money you can print in order to finance government spending.

I would think that means that the inflation is certainly not delayed by 20 years the way it was after World War 2, but is it immediate? Or is there still a lag of several years before that inflation really hits the system in terms of consumer price inflation after those pre generated factors like deficit spending kick in? How long does it take before we really see the inflation start to get away?

Tian: Yeah, I mean, that's a great question. I guess it's a little bit like when they think about how people go bankrupt, right, it happens very slowly and or all at once. I think this is kind of the analogy we're kind of drawing here because we're talking about a shift in inflation expectations, which is obviously predicated on just the general belief in the system.

These things are obviously inherently fairly hard to predict but what we can do is kind of position for when it already makes sense. So when markets are already not pricing in much inflation risk premiums and also as the economy cyclically picks up, those things are going to help just drive a more normal reflation cycle.

So right now, if you position for that, then when the tail comes through and potentially more inflation picks up later, you're kind of on the right side of it. In terms of the mechanism it could, as you say, potentially happen quickly or you could take a few years. I mean, if we're in this kind of 1960 style environment then what you need to do is go along for the excess capacity in the economy to be used up first, and then have inflation pick up.

And then you will need that to feed into shifting hecs inflation expectations higher, and then you should move into more of a wage price spiral. Then when people think inflation is going higher, they're going to demand higher wages and that's what really kicks off the more uncontrolled inflation right now.

Arguably right now for a lot of people, you know say live in the United States, the actual cost of living inflation is actually already been a lot higher than what CPI would be saying if you look at shadow stats, inflation and these kind of different projections. They would say inflation has be running a 4-5% annually for the past 20 years, if you get rid of a lot of the hedonic adjustments and so forth. And arguably, it's actually this mismatch between what official CPI says and what people feel is their true cost of living. That gap is also fueling a lot of the populism and the kind of general discontent that we have been seeing in society and, by the way, this isn't a new, it's just quite rare that we see it in developed markets.

If you take emerging market economies like Argentina or these places that have been known to have huge inflation's, this is typically what happens. The population doesn't believe in the CPI, they think their real cost of living is going up a lot higher, so when it comes to wage negotiations, they demand CPI plus 5-10%.

No more '60/40'?

Erik: Tian, let's talk about how this translates for portfolios, it sounds like we're very much in agreement that inflation is coming, but it's kind of hard to know exactly when and how it shows up. Probably when it does show up, it shows up in a big way, you don't want to be caught by surprise, but you don't know that it's happening right away. So what do you do in terms of your portfolio in order to be ready for that?

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Tian: Yeah, well that's kind of the million-dollar question at the moment isn't it? So the first thing to know is, I think I mentioned briefly at the start, clearly more traditional portfolio construction, the kind of 60/40 or the heavy allocation to fixed income, it's naturally kind of getting to the end of the road. I think most people recognize that as yields bump up against the zero bound, the ability for your fixed income portion to really offer a diversified impact or a hedge to equity risk is going to diminish.

So, going forward, what's very interesting about commodities is that one of the unique properties of commodities is typically when commodity volatility is high commodity prices actually tend to go up a lot. And this is quite different to equities because normally for equities only when equities are crashing that volatility picks up, whereas for commodities, the volatility tends to be to the upside. Now, the thing to say about commodities is that one of the big reasons why it tends to be very high volatility is that there tends to be quite prolonged periods of demand and supply mismatches for the industry. Just because typically supply responses can take a long time if you're going to build a new mine, or drill a new well, or build a new plant, it could sometimes you could take up to three to five years. Obviously, if it's like the super-efficient shell well, maybe it takes one year to get to get it going.

But for a lot of commodity sites if you're going to build a refinery or build a chemical plant or things like that, it's going to be three to five years. And because of that very delay supply response it is where you end up with this prolonged period of demand supply mismatches. And so that that's kind of what we're starting to see right now, where for a lot of commodity sectors are more capital scarce.

This being a prolonged period of a lack of investment, a lack of capex, and so these are sectors that we would expect to have quite explosive upside as the as the economy recovers and as demand comes back. So I think in the slide deck there's a section on page 15 where I mentioned the capital cycle. So, I think this is a very interesting framework to actually think about when we're trying to decide where to invest in.

So for the capital cycle I think that the best thing that I've read that's really inspired us on this was some pieces written by Marathon Asset Management. And it was basically collated together in a book called "Capital Returns: Investing Through the Capital Cycle", and the book was put together by Edward Chancellor. And so the basic idea is that, if there's a lot of money flowing to a particular industry or sector, then that inflow of money will cause a lot more competition within that industry which drives down returns and then as returns fall very low then nobody in the industry can make a profit.

Listen to the rest of the interview below:

[Nov 02, 2020] Oil investments are drying up as crude demand falters

In reality only passenger feet and commercial aviation consumption are highly elastic. Other pasts oil consumption, including consumption by military and commercial tracking are much less elastic.
And Amazon consumption partially compesates for drop is passenger car traffic :-)
In general oil consumption is a proxy of economic activity. As economic activity is resorting the same will happen with oil consumption.
Nov 02, 2020 | www.rt.com

Thirty-five percent: this is the size of the spending cuts oil and gas companies are likely to have made this year in response to the effects that the coronavirus pandemic is having on demand, according to the International Energy Agency. And this is just the spending slump in upstream oil and gas. This is just part of a wider trend of investment cuts in the energy industry, according to the IEA, which earlier this month published an update of its World Energy Investment report, first released in late spring.

At the time, some thought we were seeing the worst of the pandemic. They were, apparently, wrong.

ALSO ON RT.COM Oil prices hit 4-month low over fear new coronavirus lockdowns will crush demand

Demand for oil has certainly improved in some parts of the world, notably in Asia, where governments have been more successful in containing the spread of the coronavirus than their counterparts in Europe and North and South America. But even in China – the world's oil demand recovery driver –the rebound is slowing down. After all, even though its domestic demand may be improving, if regional and global demand is stalling, this will have a negative effect on China as well.

READ MORE OPEC in trouble as oil outlook worsens OPEC in trouble as oil outlook worsens

According to the IEA, the impact that the pandemic is having on investments in the oil industry will continue to be felt for years to come. This is hardly surprising: the agency noted a 45-percent cut in investments by US shale oil companies this year, combined with a 50-percent jump in financing costs .

The number of active drilling rigs in the US may be rising, suggesting the beginning of a recovery, but the total was still down 564 rigs on the year as of last week, so that recovery will take a while.

Meanwhile, fuel stock updates from the Energy Information Administration are offering mixed signals: last week, for instance, saw a major drawdown in distillate fuel stocks, which should be good news suggesting demand for distillates is improving. The problem is that it is likely that this improvement is a temporary occurrence rather than a trend. Air travel is still greatly constrained, and the chances of any change in the status quo are slim.

Uncertainty: this is the keyword for not just the oil industry but for all others affected by the pandemic to such a grave extent as to force changes in business models. Europe's Big Oil majors are doing just that with their push into renewables and plan to greatly reduce the contribution of their core business to overall earnings. USmajors are sticking with oil, and they may well have a good reason to do it.

There has been a lot of government and activist talk about a green recovery from the pandemic crisis. But the pandemic is still raging, and not only is it not abating, but it is gathering strength. This would mean more money needed for stimulus measures. This, in turn, would mean less money to spend on renewables, because despite the celebrated cost declines in solar and wind, financial and regulatory support from governments remains essential for their increased deployment.

ALSO ON RT.COM Central Bank of Russia does not rule out another pandemic wave & $25 oil price

The future remains marred in uncertainty that extends to the possibility of a rebound in oil investments. According to some, such as BP, we are already past peak oil demand, so that would mean less investment in oil production growth globally. Others, such as OPEC producers, hope things will sooner or later return to normal, and the world's appetite for more oil will continue to grow for at least a few more years before plateauing. And yet even OPEC is preparing for a worst-case scenario.

The extended cartel OPEC+ is considering a delay in the next relaxation of oil production cuts, from January 2021 to April, in response to the latest trends in Covid-19 infections. One thing seems relatively clear, however. The longer the surge in new infections continues, the longer it would take the industry to return on the path of recovery and growth.

This article was originally published on Oilprice.com

[Nov 01, 2020] Which two wings of the USA oligarchy Biden and Trump represents

Nov 01, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Down South , Nov 1 2020 7:04 utc | 122

I keep on reading this narrative that there is no difference between Trump and Biden and no matter who you vote for the blob wins. That the effort to unseat Trump and overturn the 2016 election results, to derail his 2020 campaign is all some elaborate game of 52D chess that we are too stupid to understand.

Here is my problem with that narrative.

The political scene in the US is split between two factions 1) the US globalists (Democrats/Establishment Republicans/Deep State/Big Tech/MSM/WallStreet) and on the other side 2) US Nationalists (Trump/the deplorables).

When Trump was campaigning in 2016 he made it clear that he intended to bring back the supply chain to the US. All those manufacturing jobs that were outsourced to third world countries to maximise the profits of the large corporations we're going to be brought back and the way he intended on doing that was to exit free trade agreements that harmed US national interest and introduce protectionist policies (tariffs/ low corporate taxes etc) which would entice/induce/force manufacturers to open factories in the US again.

This horrified the globalists as they have for the past decades been implementing a controlled disintegration of the US

The great "liberalization" of world commerce began with a series of waves through the 1970s, and moved into high gear with the interest rate hikes of Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker in 1980-82, the effects of which both annihilated much of the small and medium sized entrepreneurs, opened the speculative gates into the "Savings and Loan" debacle and also helped cartelize mineral, food, and financial institutions into ever greater behemoths. Volcker himself described this process as the "controlled disintegration of the US economy" upon becoming Fed Chairman in 1978. The raising of interest rates to 20-21% not only shut down the life blood of much of the US economic base, but also threw the third world into greater debt slavery, as nations now had to pay usurious interest on US loans.
https://thesaker.is/what-the-great-reset-architects-dont-want-you-to-understand-about-economics/

What is the eventual end goal of the globalists ?

false solutions to a crisis of global proportions are being promoted in the form of a "Great Global Reset" which aims at creating a new economic order under the fog of COVID. This emerging "new order", as it is being promoted by Mark Carney, George Soros, Bill Gates and other minions of the City of London is shaped by a devout commitment to depopulation, world government and master-slave systems of social control.

By attempting to tie the new system of "value" to economic practices which are designed to crush humanity's ability to sustain itself in the form of "reducing carbon footprints", "sustainable green energy", cap and trade, carbon taxes and green infrastructure bonds, humanity is being set up to accept a system of governance onto our children and grandchildren which will subject them to a dystopic world of fascism the likes of which even Hitler could not have dreamed.

https://thesaker.is/one-last-chance-to-revive-americas-forgotten-constitutional-traditions-and-avoid-wwiii/

Exiting NAFTA, implementing protectionist measures, lowering corporate taxes, starting a trade war with China (that is where the majority of the outsourced jobs went) he is trying to undo the controlled disintegration of the US. That is why the globalists hate him so much.

[Oct 30, 2020] Tsunami Of Empty College Dorms Risks Student Housing Market Implosion

Did not most collages behaved like bandits raising tuition fees from 1980 till 2020. That's 40 years.
Oct 30, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Fall enrollment has plunged , some colleges are shuttering operations, revenues across the entire higher education industry are collapsing, and the shift from physical to virtual education due to the virus pandemic could prick the next bubble: the student housing debt market.

Our warning about the coming implosion of the higher education industry (see here from 2014) , as a whole, has become louder and louder over the last six-plus years as the student debt bubble has recently swelled to more than $1.6 trillion. Years ago, no one at the time, could've forecasted a virus pandemic would doom colleges and universities.

Credit rating agency Moody's recently downgraded the entire higher education sector to negative from stable, and the American Council on Education estimates colleges and universities will experience a $23 billion decline in revenues over the next academic year.

Bloomberg outlines the increase of virtual education in a virus pandemic has resulted in an abundance of empty dorms at colleges and universities, creating a $14 billion headache for the student housing debt market.

"West Virginia State University, already hit with a 10% enrollment drop, plans to give money to a school foundation so it can meet its bond covenants for residence hall debt. A community college in Ohio is using part of a $1.5 million donation for a financially-strapped student housing project. And officials at New Jersey City University, which serves largely first-generation and lower-income students and has recorded years of deficits, are prepared to shore up a dorm there," Bloomberg said.

The squeeze on university finances comes as the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center warned about a 16% drop in first-year undergraduate students enrolled for the fall semester. This means new revenue streams are quickly drying up for overleveraged colleges and universities.

"The limiting factor is some of these schools themselves are facing uncertainty with many of their revenue streams," S&P Global Ratings analyst Amber Schafer said in an interview. "It's a matter of not only willingness, but if they're able to support the project."

"Typically, privatized student housing debt is paid off by the revenue generated by the dorms -- meaning there's little recourse for bondholders if things go south," Bloomberg said. With occupancy rates already declining as coronavirus cases are surging, well, this could be bad news for colleges and universities heading into 2021.

"Borrowers have begun revealing how empty residence halls are as the pandemic spurs many campuses to keep classes online. According to the school foundation that sold the debt, West Virginia State University's dorm is 71% full, putting it about 20 percentage points from where it needs to be to satisfy debt covenants. Other privatized student housing projects, like two on Howard University's campus, are virtually empty due to online-only instruction there," Bloomberg said.

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Bloomberg warns: "Privatized dorms are struggling the most given that they weren't structured to withstand 20% to 30% drops in occupancy -- or no students at all."

"West Virginia State University may have to step in to help student housing bonds at risk of violating a debt service coverage ratio, Moody's warned this month. The historically-black college faces "considerable" challenges in backstopping the bonds, Moody's said.

The nearly 290-bed residence hall with rents of $3,881 per semester was just 71% occupied this fall, while it needed to be about 92% occupied, said Patricia Schumann, president of the university foundation that sold the debt. Schumann said the university is projected to provide a $75,000 payment in January. In the meantime, she said the school was working to bolster its financial position and boost recruitment and donations.

"We're not standing still," she said.

Ohio's Terra State Community College, which has more than 2,100 students, was downgraded deeper into junk over the risk posed by a dorm owned by a nonprofit, given that the school "appears to provide an unconditional guarantee" to meet the debt obligations, Moody's said. The project was financed through a bank note.

The dorm's occupancy fell to 62%, and the college is using a previously-received donation to cover a shortfall in project revenue amounting between $500,000 to $600,000, the ratings company said in a report this month.

At New Jersey City University, a student housing project financed though a separate entity will likely miss a required debt service coverage ratio. The public school having to step in to help the bonds would be a challenge, but a surmountable one, said Jodi Bailey, the university's associate vice president for student affairs. The student housing bonds aren't a debt of the university, so the school would be choosing to provide financial support, according to bond documents .

The school is working to cut expenses related to the dorm. "Is it a harder year? Most definitely," she said.

The student housing bonds, issued by West Campus Housing LLC in 2015, were slashed deeper into junk in September by S&P, which said in a report that residence halls' occupancy there had fallen to 56% so the school could accommodate social-distancing guidelines," said Bloomberg.

To summarize, plunging enrollments, resulting in falling occupancy rates for dorms, is a debt bomb waiting to go off for many overleveraged colleges and universities that are panicking at the moment to divert enough funds to service debts, as the usual revenue streams, that being rent checks from students, are nowhere to be found as virtual learning keeps young adults in their parents' basements and out of dorms.

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If occupancy rates continue to slide through 2021, then we must revisit what we said months before the virus pandemic began in the US:

"...20% of colleges and universities will shut down or merge in the next ten years , and probably more."

Absent of a federal bailout, things could get ugly for colleges and universities in 2021.

[Oct 22, 2020] Goldman Expects A Structural Bull Market For Commodities In 2021, Sees Gold Hitting $2300 -

Oct 22, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

A weaker U.S. dollar, rising inflation risks and demand driven by additional fiscal and monetary stimulus from major central banks will spur a bull market for commodities in 2021, Goldman's chief commodity strategist Jeffrey Currie said on Thursday, also predicting that "all commodity markets are in, or moving toward, a deficit with inventories drawing in all but cocoa, coffee and iron ore."

The bank, which notes that markets are increasingly concerned about the return of inflation, forecast a return of 28% over a 12-month period on the S&P/Goldman Sachs Commodity Index (GSCI), with a 17.9% return for precious metals, 42.6% for energy, 5.5% for industrial metals and a negative return of 0.8% for agriculture.

A key catalyst for the bank's bullish call is that "nearly all commodity markets are in, or moving toward, a deficit with inventories drawing in all but cocoa, coffee and iron ore."

As Currie adds, "such broad-based deficits are usually only seen late in the business cycle, underscoring the unique environment markets are in. Given that inventories are drawing this early in the cycle, we see a structural bull market for commodities emerging in 2021." In the strategist's view, the bull market will be driven by three major themes:

  1. structural under-investment in the old economy,
  2. policy driven demand and
  3. macro tailwinds from a weakening dollar and rising inflation risks. "These drivers remain consistent with the bank's bullish views from the start of this year, and have now been intensified by COVID-19 disruption and the subsequent global policy response."

Some more thoughts from Currie on the tightening in commodity markets:

Commodity markets have been mostly range bound since this summer, in our view caught between a longer-term bullish outlook for 2021 and near-term concerns around the timing of a vaccine amid rising COVID cases across Europe and the US Midwest (see Exhibit 4). However, it is important to emphasize that nearly all commodity markets are in, or moving toward, a global deficit with inventories drawing in all but cocoa, coffee and iron ore. Such broad-based deficits are usually only seen late in the business cycle,underscoring the unique environment markets are in.

As global demand remains tepid for consumer-related commodities like oil, the deficits further underscore how significant the drop in supply has been and how the supply response function has changed. For oil, the sharp drop in capex is now having an impact on non-OPEC decline rates, with capital markets refusing to fund shale drilling, only debt rollovers. In metals, we have seen a sharp drop in maintenance capex and supply disruptions dragging into 2021. This suggests that even if demand falters in coming weeks as winter exacerbates COVID-19, markets will likely continue to rebalance, barring an outright collapse in demand. In our view, base metals and agriculture have more near-term upside than oil, with smaller inventories to move through before prices begin to rise.

Goldman then shows the following chart which reveals the growing deficit across key commodities, as well as the key macro catalysts for higher commodity prices in coming months:

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Hedging that even if demand falters in coming weeks as winter exacerbates COVID-19, Goldman still expect markets will continue to rebalance, "barring an outright collapse in demand." Goldman takes a more contained view on energy saying that while inventories of oil remain high, "upside in energy prices will likely come after winter." However, non-energy commodities face immediate upside as balances have tightened ahead of expectations, driven by large Chinese demand and adverse weather shocks, according to the Goldman strategist.

Focusing on Gold, Currie said that expansionary fiscal and monetary policies in developed market economies continue to drive interest rates lower and create demand for hedging the tail risks of inflation, lifting demand for precious metals. As a result, Goldman forecasts gold prices at an average of $1,836 per ounce in 2020 and $2,300 per ounce in 2021, and expects silver prices to be at around $22 per ounce in 2020 and $30 per ounce next year .

Non-energy commodities could see an "immediate upside" as the market balances tighten ahead of expectations on strong demand from China and weather-driven risks, the Goldman Sachs analysts said.

The bank maintained a "neutral" view on commodities in the near term and "overweight" in the medium term.

[Oct 20, 2020] Big Tech goes all in- Silicon Valley launches $100 million anti-Trump ad blitz

Another face of iron law of oligarchy: money as the way to misinform and lure the voters ;-)
Oct 20, 2020 | www.rt.com

The $100-plus million blitz includes at least $22 million from Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz, according to an exclusive report from Recode, a subdivision of Vox. Another Democratic megadonor involved is former Google and Alphabet CEO Eric Schmidt, currently advising the Pentagon on technology innovation. Home USA News Big Tech goes all in: Silicon Valley launches $100 million anti-Trump ad blitz – report 20 Oct, 2020 20:08 Get short URL Big Tech goes all in: Silicon Valley launches $100 million anti-Trump ad blitz – report FILE PHOTO © AFP / Getty Images ; SCOTT OLSON 121 3 Follow RT on RT A super PAC bankrolled by Silicon Valley moguls is preparing a massive TV advertising campaign to help boost Democratic candidate Joe Biden against President Donald Trump in the final days before the 2020 US election.

The $100-plus million blitz includes at least $22 million from Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz, according to an exclusive report from Recode, a subdivision of Vox. Another Democratic megadonor involved is former Google and Alphabet CEO Eric Schmidt, currently advising the Pentagon on technology innovation.

https://platform.twitter.com/embed/index.html?creatorScreenName=RT_com&dnt=false&embedId=twitter-widget-0&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1318588732585422853&lang=en&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.rt.com%2Fusa%2F504061-silicon-valley-biden-donations%2F&siteScreenName=RT_com&theme=light&widgetsVersion=ed20a2b%3A1601588405575&width=550px

Called Future Forward, the super PAC has filed federal paperwork on Tuesday disclosing that it has raised $66 million between September 1 and October 15. It has contracted for $106 million of TV ads between September 29 and November 3, according to media tracking firm Advertising Analytics. This makes it the largest Biden booster outside the Democrats' campaign itself, already a fundraising juggernaut.

Recode also reported that Future Forward "has been recommended in private communications by the team of Reid Hoffman." He is the LinkedIn co-founder and Democratic megadonor previously caught funding a disinformation campaign during the 2017 special Senate election in Alabama, in which a company called New Knowledge created a Twitter army of 'Russian bots' pretending to back the Republican candidate. It was unclear from the Recode story whether Hoffman had contributed any funding to Moskovitz's super PAC.

[Oct 18, 2020] The main reason corporate Dems want so desperately to beat Trump in this election cycle

Notable quotes:
"... Corporate Democrats' anxiety and fear that they could lose control over the party became quite evident during latest party convention, as they tried hard to "bury" their own progressives while gave plenty of time to neoliberal Republicans and war criminals to speak. ..."
Oct 07, 2020 | failedevolution.blogspot.com

globinfo freexchange
As we explained previously, what we see now in the United States with Trump, is a counter-attack by the part of the American capital against the globalist faction. The faction that is primarily consisted by the liberal plutocracy. Therefore, as the capitalist class splits, the capitalists around Trump are now taking with them the most conservative part of the American society, as they need electoral power. They have the money and their own media network. Their first big victory was Trump in the US presidency and this explains why the liberal media attack him so hard and so frequently.

The COVID-19 pandemic added more chaos in the ongoing civil war between capitalists and (as always), the working class is paying the price for the additional mess.

The DNC establishment fought hard, one more time, to get rid of Bernie Sanders in order to impose its own - fully controllable and fully dedicated to the neoliberal status quo - Joe Biden/Kamala Harris duo. Obviously, this was an attempt by the corporate Democrats to challenge and beat Trump without harming neoliberal order through a Socialist like Sanders in the leadership of the Democratic Party. Still, the DNC establishment couldn't take full control of the whole situation as the most popular progressives, like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, renewed their position in the party through big victories in the 2020 primaries. Furthermore, the progressive army came out stronger through significant additional victories like Cori Bush's.

Corporate Democrats' anxiety and fear that they could lose control over the party became quite evident during latest party convention, as they tried hard to "bury" their own progressives while gave plenty of time to neoliberal Republicans and war criminals to speak.

And, actually, this is the main reason that the corporate Democrats want so desperately to beat Trump in November's election.
With a potential Biden victory the corporate Dems will re-establish their position in the party against progressives, as they will be able to play the Trump-scare card for four more years.

During that time, they will get all the help they want from the liberal media to bury forever the most popular Socialist policies. Simply by claiming that the Trump nightmare could return in 2024. Therefore, they will demand "unity" from all party members under their own terms, in short, under full restoration of the neoliberal status quo. Under these circumstances, corporate Democrats will have plenty of time to assist the liberal plutocrats to take over directly the party in 2024.

On the contrary, with a potential Trump victory the Trump-scare card will be burned for good and corporate Democrats won't be able to use it as Trump won't be able to have another term in 2024.

In that case, corporate Democrats will receive additional pressure from the progressive wing and progressive voters, as these will demand radical changes inside the party towards popular policies. The liberal capitalist faction will face the serious threat to be left without political power, which by 2024, will be restricted to some moderate Republicans who are dedicated to the neoliberal doctrine. The dream of the liberal plutocrats to take over political power directly will die forever.

And this could be proved decisive for the outcome of the endo-capitalist war between the liberal plutocrats and the Trump-affiliated capitalists.

...

[Oct 15, 2020] At this point American politics is a dispute among two Jewish factions, Trump is a pawn of the Zionist faction and was targeted for destruction by the Cosmopolitan faction.

Oct 15, 2020 | www.unz.com

Hugo Silva , says: October 13, 2020 at 6:30 pm GMT

@Ghali

At this point American politics is a dispute among two Jewish factions, Trump is a pawn of the Zionist faction and was targeted for destruction by the Cosmopolitan faction. Whoever wins, we loose!

TRM , says: October 13, 2020 at 7:41 pm GMT
@Ghali ary. The Israeli/Zionist elites care about their constituents opinions about as much as the elites in any group. ZERO. There's a big club and we ain't in it.

The Israeli/Zionist elites wanted war with Iran or slapping them back economically to the middle ages. Hillary was going to leave the Iran deal in place and Trump was going to tear it up.

Trump paid for his re-election by murdering Solemani. Trump felt he couldn't start a war in his first term so offered that up to get their support. He will be re-elected in big part because he solidified his position with them as the anti-Iran candidate.

[Oct 15, 2020] Trump Vs Deep State- Will Trump Upend Neocolonial World Order- -

That's naive. Trump is part of Neocolonial world order. He just belong to a different faction then Hillary and friends.
Oct 15, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Submitted by Nauman Sadiq,

Former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney released an extraordinary statement on Tuesday, decrying a political scene he said "has moved away from spirited debate to a vile, vituperative, hate-filled morass, that is unbecoming of any free nation." "The world is watching America with abject horror," he added.

Romney tweeted his statement under the title "My thoughts on the current state of our politics." "I have stayed quiet," he said, "with the approach of the election." "But I'm troubled by our politics," the sole Republican to vote to impeach Trump added in his statement.

"The president calls the Democratic vice-presidential candidate 'a monster'. He repeatedly labels the Speaker of the House 'crazy.' He calls for the justice department to put the prior president in jail. He attacks the governor of Michigan on the very day a plot is discovered to kidnap her. Democrats launch blistering attacks of their own, though their presidential nominee refuses to stoop as low as others," Romney, a Utah senator who was the 2012 Republican nominee for president, complained in the statement.

Though superficially trying to appear "fair and balanced" in the didactic sermon patronizingly delivered by the only adult in the room full of political upstarts, Romney's perceptible bias in the polemical diatribe was hard not to be noticed.

It defies explanation if he didn't watch the presidential debate or consciously elided over the sordid episode where the Democratic presidential nominee contemptuously sneered at his political rival with derogatory epithets such as "a clown, a racist and Putin's puppy."

I'm not sure if Biden was high on meth during the debate, as Trump had repeatedly been insinuating, or he lacks basic etiquette to act like a dignified statesman, but only amphetamines could make a person take leave of his senses and insolently yell at the president of the US, "Will you shut up, man," while ironically complaining, "This is so unpresidential."

Though a longtime Republican senator, Mitt Romney's loyalty to the GOP was compromised due to a personal spat with Trump. In the Republican primaries of the 2016 US presidential elections, Romney severely castigated Trump, calling him "a phony and a fraud."

After Trump was elected president, he dangled the carrot of the secretary of state appointment to Romney, invited him to a dinner in a swanky New York restaurant, made him eat his words and fawn all over Trump like a servile toady. But later, he gave one of the most coveted appointments in the US bureaucratic hierarchy to oil executive Rex Tillerson.

Romney felt humiliated to the extent that in Trump's vulnerable moment, after impeachment proceedings were initiated against him in the Senate in February, Romney became the only US senator in the American political history who voted against his own Republican Party president.

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Though lacking intellect and often ridiculed for frequent spelling errors on his Twitter timeline, such as "unpresidented" and "covfefe," implying he gets his news feed from television talk shows and rarely reads book and articles, Donald Trump is street smart and his anti-globalization agenda and down-to-earth attitude appeal to the American working classes.

Nevertheless, it's quite easy for the neuroscientists on the payroll of the national security establishment to manipulate the minds of such impressionable politicians and lead them by the nose to toe the line of the deep state, particularly on foreign policy matters. No wonder national security shills disparagingly sneer at the president as the "toddler-in-chief."

In 2017, a couple of caricatures went viral on social media. In one of those caricatures, Donald Trump was depicted as a child sitting on a chair and Vladimir Putin was shown whispering something into Trump's ears from behind. In the other, Trump was portrayed sitting in Steve Bannon's lap and the latter was shown mumbling into Trump's ears, "Who is the big boy now?" And Trump was shown replying, "I am the big boy."

The meaning conveyed by those cunningly crafted caricatures was to illustrate that Trump lacks the intelligence to think for himself and that he was being manipulated and played around by Putin and Bannon. Those caricatures must have affronted the vanity of Donald Trump to an extent that after the publication of those caricatures, he became ill-disposed toward Putin and sacked Bannon from his job as the White House Chief Strategist in August 2017, only seven months into the first year of the Trump presidency.

Bannon was the principal ideologue of the American alt-right movement. Though the alt-right agenda of the Trump presidency has been scuttled by the deep state, Trump's views regarding global politics and economics are starkly different from the establishment Democrats and Republicans pursuing neocolonial world order masqueraded as globalization and free trade.

Besides the Trump supporters in the United States, the far-right populist leaders in Europe are also exploiting popular resentment against free trade and globalization. The Brexiteers in the United Kingdom, the Yellow Vest protesters in France and the far-right movements in Germany and across Europe are a manifestation of a paradigm shift in the global economic order in which nationalist and protectionist slogans have replaced the free trade and globalization mantra of the nineties.

Donald Trump withdrawing the United States from multilateral treaties, restructuring trade agreements and initiating a trade war against China are meant to redress, at least cosmetically, the legitimate grievances of the American working classes against the wealth disparity created by laissez-faire capitalism and market fundamentalism.

Michael Crowley reported for the New York Times last month that American allies and former US Officials fear Trump could seek NATO exit in a second term. According to the report, "This summer, Mr. Trump's former national security adviser John R. Bolton published a book that described the president as repeatedly saying he wanted to quit the NATO alliance. Last month, Mr. Bolton speculated to a Spanish newspaper that Mr. Trump might even spring an 'October surprise' shortly before the election by declaring his intention to leave the alliance in a second term."

The report notes, "In a book published this week, Michael S. Schmidt, a New York Times reporter, wrote that Mr. Trump's former chief of staff John F. Kelly, a retired four-star Marine general, told others that 'one of the most difficult tasks he faced with Trump was trying to stop him from pulling out of NATO.' One person who has heard Mr. Kelly speak in private settings confirmed that he had made such remarks."

Crowley adds, "Donald Trump now relies on 'a team of inexperienced bureaucrats' and has grown more confident and assertive, as he has already sacked seasoned national security advisers, including John F. Kelly; Jim Mattis, another retired four-star Marine general and Trump's first defense secretary; and H.R. McMaster, a retired three-star Army general and Trump's former national security adviser."

In fact, the Trump administration announced plans in July to withdraw 12,000 American troops from Germany and sought to cut funding for the Pentagon's European Deterrence Initiative. About half of the troops withdrawn from Germany were re-deployed in Europe, mainly in Italy and Poland, and the rest returned to the US.

Similarly, although full withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan was originally scheduled for April next year, according to terms of peace deal reached with the Taliban on February 29, President Trump hastened the withdrawal process by making an electoral pledge this week that all troops should be "home by Christmas." "We should have the small remaining number of our BRAVE Men and Women serving in Afghanistan home by Christmas," he tweeted last week.

Even the arch-foes of the US in Afghanistan effusively praised President Trump's peace overtures. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told CBS News in a phone interview last week, "We hope he will win the election and wind up US military presence in Afghanistan."

The militant group also expressed concern about President Trump's bout with the coronavirus. "When we heard about Trump being COVID-19 positive, we got worried for his health, but it seems he is getting better," another Taliban senior leader confided to reporter Sami Yousafzai.

Moreover, Iran-backed militias recently announced "conditional" cease-fire against the US forces in Iraq on the condition that Washington present a timetable for the withdrawal of its troops. The US-led coalition has already departed from smaller bases across Iraq and promised to reduce its troop presence from 5,200 to 3,000 in the next couple of months, though Iraq's parliament passed a resolution urging the full withdrawal of US troops in January.

There is no denying the fact that the four years of the Trump presidency have been unusually tumultuous in the American political history, but if one takes a cursory look at the list of all the Trump aides who resigned or were otherwise sacked, almost all of them were national security officials.

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In fact, scores of former Republican national security officials recently made their preference public that they would vote in the upcoming US presidential elections for Democrat Joe Biden instead of Republican Donald Trump against party lines.

What does that imply? It is an incontrovertible proof that the latent conflict between the deep state and the elected representatives of the American people has come to a head during the Trump presidency.

Although far from being a vocal critic of the deep state himself, the working-class constituency that Trump represents has had enough with the global domination agenda of the national security establishment. The American electorate wants the US troops returned home, and wants to focus on national economy and redress wealth disparity instead of acting as global police waging "endless wars" thousands of miles away from the US territorial borders.

Addressing a convention of conservatives last year, Trump publicly castigated his own generals, much to the dismay of neoliberal chauvinists upholding American exceptionalism and militarism, by revealing: "I learn more sometimes from soldiers what's going on, than I do from generals. I do. I hate to say it. I tell the generals all the time."

At another occasion, he ruffled more feathers by telling the reporters: "I'm not saying the military's in love with me. The soldiers are. The top people in the Pentagon probably aren't because they want to do nothing but fight wars so all of those wonderful companies that make the bombs and make the planes and make everything else stay happy."

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[Oct 09, 2020] Goldman Finds The Pandemic Recession Was Actually Not That Bad - Zero Hedge

Oct 09, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Goldman Finds The Pandemic Recession Was Actually Not That Bad by Tyler Durden Wed, 10/07/2020 - 20:35 Twitter Facebook Reddit Email Print

In a note which we are confident will go swimmingly with millions of Americans who lost their jobs in the past six months, Goldman's economics team writes that "scarring effect" from the pandemic recession has been "surprisingly limited" and the "damage has so far been much less than initially feared" in what is likely the most upbeat take on the current economy and one wonders if it involved any research outside of Tribeca.

After saying tthat the early weeks of the virus shock the Goldman economists "began to closely track measures of long-term damage to businesses and the labor force" with many businesses facing near-total collapses in revenue and 25 million jobs lost in little over a month, "the threat of deep scarring effects loomed over the US economy." Instead, things have been far better than expected.

Looking at the business sector first, Jan Hatzius and team write that the "scarring effects on the business sector remain surprisingly limited" as commercial bankruptcy filings have run below the pre-pandemic trend, most business closures during the worst months of the pandemic have proved temporary, and new business formation has surged recently.

A similar cheerful conclusion emerges when Goldman looks at the labor force, with the Goldman economists writing that "scarring effects on the labor force have also been less severe than feared" , as unemployment has fallen sharply, "and most of the remaining job losers are either still on temporary layoff or are in industries that should largely recover with a vaccine." In addition, Goldman observes, "labor demand has rebounded much more quickly than last cycle, reducing the risk of widespread long-term unemployment."

Ludicrous? Insane? Hilarious? Perhaps all three, yet here are some of the data Goldman used to reach its arguably offensive to tens of millions of Americans conclusion:

The left side of Exhibit 1 shows that total commercial bankruptcy filings reported by the American Bankruptcy Institute have actually run below the pre-pandemic trend. While a recent San Francisco Fed report noted with alarm that Chapter 11 bankruptcies are running at the fastest pace since 2013, this largely reflects recent changes to the bankruptcy code and it has been more than offset by declines in other commercial bankruptcy filings.

The right side of Exhibit 1 shows that Bloomberg's count of bankruptcies at large companies did briefly spike to a level that approached the financial crisis peak. But as our credit strategists have shown, the majority of these were firms already on a path to default before the pandemic, not otherwise healthy businesses needlessly sunk by an unprecedented shock.

In other words, Goldman contends that while there was a spike in defaults, it was largely among those companies that were already levered to the hilt and would have filed anyway. The covid crisis merely accelerated their demise, which come to thing of it, is what the covid virus is also doing with most of the elderly people it affects and who die not so much from the virus as due to other underlying, chronic or acute conditions, whose impact is merely accentuated to the point of lethality by covid.

What about Goldman's optimistic take on the labor market?

Here the economists argue that the silver lining of the employment collapse was the very high share of temporary layoffs shown in Exhibit 3, historically something which they say is "a reliable signal of rapid recovery" even as those permanently laid off is an dangerously high number, the highest since 2013, Goldman's spin notwithstanding.

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To elucidate their point, Goldman next claims that just five months later, the number of newly unemployed workers since the virus shock has indeed declined dramatically, and about half still report that they are on temporary layoff. While not all of these workers will return to their old positions, this nevertheless points to further outsized job gains in coming months.

Here Bank of America disagrees, and lays out three cyclical forces today that spell out far greater pain for the labor force than GOldman is willing to admit, to wit:

While Goldman acknowledges this, saying that "not all workers who lost jobs in virus-sensitive industries will return to them when a vaccine becomes available, and many layoffs are likely to prove permanent" but then adds that "workers who have to switch jobs or even occupations already face much better prospects for re-employment than after previous recessions."

So it's all good, see? Well, maybe not: even Goldman had to concede that long-term unemployment rose in September and is likely to rise somewhat further in the October jobs report as more workers who lost their jobs in the first month of the pandemic cross the half-year mark. But even here Goldman finds a silver lining, and writes that "the rapid recovery of labor demand and faster pace of labor reallocation is a striking contrast with past recessions that should help most workers avoid the very long unemployment spells seen last cycle."

In short, there is virtually nothing about the devastation endured by businesses and workers that Goldman's well-trained economists can't spin into a positive outcome, and as they summarize "scarring effects on businesses and the labor force have so far proven much less severe than initially feared."

This, they conclude, "bodes well for the economy's medium-term recovery prospects and is one more reason for Goldman's above-consensus 2021 growth forecast." What about the withdrawal of fiscal support which has forced Americans to draw down drastically on their savings which were boosted by the massive fiscal stimulus ...

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... and to resume paying down credit card debt for the first time in months?

Surely at least that has to be positive? Well, as Hatzius agrees, it does raise some risks over the next few months, but then the chief economist counters that "we expect a vaccine and further fiscal support next year -- including another round of small business funding, even in a divided government scenario -- to limit the long-term damage and keep the economy on track for a much more rapid than usual recovery."

To this all one can say is wow : and while we certainly would urge the Goldman economists to read something like " A devastating experience:' Temporary layoffs just became permanent for millions of American workers , and " Ex-Bankruptcy Judge Says Worse Is Yet To Come ", we have two questions: just why did Goldman publish such a puff piece - what does it stand to gain by gutting its reputation for at least pretend-objective analysis - and question number two: has anyone on the Goldman economics team actually stepped one foot outside their academic tri-state ivory tower in the past year?

[Oct 06, 2020] How an "Act of God" Pandemic is Destroying the West by Michael Hudson

Notable quotes:
"... WHEN CHINA SNEEZES: From the Coronavirus Lockdown to the Global Politico-Economic Implications ..."
Oct 06, 2020 | www.unz.com

How an "Act of God" Pandemic Is Destroying the West The U.S. is Saving the Financial Sector, not the Economy MICHAEL HUDSON AUGUST 28, 2020 4,400 WORDS 142 COMMENTS REPLY Tweet Reddit 5 Share Share 3 Email Print More 8 SHARES

Before juxtaposing the U.S. and alternative responses to the corona virus's economic effects, [1] I would like to step back in time to show how the pandemic has revealed a deep underlying problem. We are seeing the consequences of Western societies painting themselves into a debt corner by their creditor-oriented philosophy of law. Neoliberal anti-government (or more accurately, anti-democratic) ideology has centralized social planning and state power in "the market," meaning specifically the financial market on Wall Street and in other financial centers.

At issue is who will lose when employment and business activity are disrupted. Will it be creditors and landlords at the top of the economic scale, or debtors and renters at the bottom? This age-old confrontation over how to deal with the unpaid rents, mortgages and other debt service is at the heart of today's virus pandemic as large and small businesses, farms, restaurants and neighborhood stores have fallen into arrears, leaving businesses and households – along with their employees who have no wage income to pay these carrying charges that accrue each month.

This is an age-old problem. It was solved in the ancient Near East simply by annulling these debt and rent charges. But the West, shaped as it still is by the legacy of the Roman Empire, has left itself prone to the massive unemployment, business closedowns and resulting arrears for these basic costs of living and doing business.

Western civilization distinguishes itself from its Near Eastern predecessors in the way it has responded to "acts of God" that disrupt the means of support and leave debts in their wake. The United States has taken the lead in rejecting the path by which China, and even social democratic European nations have prevented the corona virus from causing widespread insolvency and polarizing their economies. The U.S. corona virus lockdown is turning rent and debt arrears into an opportunity to impoverish the indebted economy and transfer mortgaged property and its income to creditors.

There is no inherent material need for this fate to occur. But it seems so natural and even inevitable that, as Margaret Thatcher would say, There Is No Alternative.

But of course there is, and always has been. However, resilience in the face of economic disruption always has required a central authority to override "market forces" to restore economic balance from "above."

Individualistic economies cannot do that. To the extent that they have a strong state, they are not democratic but oligarchic, controlled by the financial sector in its own interest, in tandem with its symbiotic real estate sector and monopolized infrastructure. That is why every successful society since the Bronze Age has been a mixed economy. The determining factor in whether or not an economic disruption leaves a crippled economy in its wake turns out to be whether its financial sector is a public utility or is privatized from the debt-strapped public domain as a means to enrich bankers and money-lenders at the expense of debtors and overall economic balance.

China is using an age-old policy common ever since Hammurabi and other Bronze Age rulers promoted economic resilience in the face of "acts of God." Unless personal debts, rents and taxes that cannot be paid are annulled, the result will be widespread bankruptcy, impoverishment and homelessness. In contrast to America's financialized economy, China has shown how natural it is for society simply to acknowledge that debts, rents, taxes and other carrying charges of living and doing business cannot resume until economic normalcy is able to resume.

Near Eastern protection of economic resilience in the face of Acts of God

Ancient societies had a different logic from those of modern capitalist economies. Their logic – and the Jewish Mosaic Law of Leviticus 25, as well as classical Greek and Roman advocates of democratic reform – was similar to modern socialism. The basic principle at work was to subordinate market relations to the needs of society at large, not to enrich a financial rentier class of creditors and absentee landowners. More specifically, the basic principle was to cancel debts that could not normally be paid, and prevent creditors from foreclosing on the land of debtors.

All economies operate on credit. In modern economies bills for basic expenses are paid monthly or quarterly. Ancient economies operated on credit during the crop year, with payment falling due when the harvest was in – typically on the threshing floor. This cycle normally provided a flow of crops and corvée labor to the palace, and covered the cultivator's spending during the crop year. Interest typically was owed only when payment was late.

But bad harvests, military conflict or simply the normal hardships of life frequently prevented this buildup of debt from being paid. Mesopotamian palaces had to decide who would bear the loss when drought, flooding, infestation, disease or military attack prevented the payment of debts, rents and taxes. Seeing that this was an unavoidable fact of life, rulers proclaimed amnesties for taxes and these various obligations incurred during the crop year. That saved smallholders from having to work off their debts in personal bondage to their creditors and ultimately to lose their land.

For these palatial economies, resilience meant stabilization of fiscal revenue. Letting private creditors (often officials in the palace's own bureaucracy) demand payment out of future production threatened to deprive rulers of crop surpluses and other taxes, and corvée labor or even service in the military. But for thousands of years, Near Eastern rulers restored fiscal viability for their economies by writing down debts, not only in emergencies but more or less regularly to relieve the normal creeping backlog of debts.

These Clean Slates extended from Sumer and Babylonia in the 3 rd millennium BC to classical antiquity, including the neo-Assyrian, neo-Babylonian and Persian Empires. They restored normal economic relations by rolling back the consequences of debts personal and agrarian debts – bondage to creditors, and loss of land and its crop yield. From the palace's point of view as tax collector and seller of many key goods and services, the alternative would have been for debtors to owe their crops, labor and even liberty to their creditors, not to the palace. So cancelling debts to restore normalcy was simply pragmatic, not utopian idealism as was once thought.

The pedigree for "act-of-God" rules specifying what obligations need not be paid when serious disruptions occur goes back to the laws of Hammurabi c. 1750 BC. Their aim was to restore economic normalcy after major disruptions. §48 of Hammurabi's laws proclaim a debt and tax amnesty for cultivators if Adad the Storm God has flooded their fields, or if their crops fail as a result of pests or drought. Crops owed as rent or fiscal payments were freed from having to be paid. So were consumer debts run up during the crop year, including tabs at the local ale house and advances or loans from individual creditors. The ale woman likewise was freed from having to pay for the ale she had received from palace or temples for sale during the crop year.

Whoever leased an animal that died by an act of god was freed from liability to its owner (§266). A typical such amnesty occurred if the lamb, ox or ass was eaten by a lion, or if an epidemic broke out. Likewise, traveling merchants who were robbed while on commercial business were cleared of liability if they swore an oath that they were not responsible for the loss (§103).

It was realized that hardship was so inevitable that debts tended to accrue even under normal conditions. Every ruler of Hammurabi's dynasty proclaimed a Clean Slate cancelling personal agrarian debts (but left normal commercial business loans intact) upon taking the throne, and when military or other disruptions occurred during their reign. Hammurabi did this on four occasions. 2

Bronze Age rulers could not afford to let such bondage and concentration of property and wealth to become chronic. Labor was the scarcest resource, so a precondition for survival was to prevent creditors from using debt leverage to obtain the labor of debtors and appropriate their land. Rulers therefore acted to prevent creditors from becoming a wealthy class seeking gains by impoverishing debtors and taking crop yields and land for themselves.

By rejecting such alleviations of debts resulting from economic disruption, the U.S. economy is subjecting itself to depression, homelessness and economic polarization. It is saving stockholders and bondholders instead of the economy at large. That is because today's rentier interests take the economic surplus in the form of debt service, holding labor and also corporate industry in bondage. Mortgage debt is the price of obtaining a home of one's own. Student debt is the price of getting an education to get a job. Automobile debt is needed to buy a car to drive to the job, and credit-card debt must be run up to pay for living costs beyond what one is able to earn. This deep indebtedness makes workers afraid to go on strike or even to protect working conditions, because being fired is to lose the ability to pay debts and rents. So the rising debt overhead serves the business and financial sector by lowering wage levels while extracting more interest, financial fees, rent and insurance out of their take-home pay.

Debt deflation and the transition from finance capitalism to an Austerity Economy

By injecting $10 trillion into the financial markets (when Federal Reserve credit is added to U.S. Treasury allocation), the CARES act enabled the stock market to recover all of its 34 percent drop (as measured by the S&P 500 stocks) by June 9, even as the economy's GDP was still plunging. The government's new money creation was not spent to revive the real economy of production and consumption, but at least the financial One Percent was saved from loss. It was as if prosperity and living standards would somehow return to normal in a V-shaped recovery.

But what is "normal" these days? For 95 percent of the population, their share of GDP already had been falling ever since the Obama Depression began with the bank bailout in 2009, leaving an enormous bad-debt overhead in place. The economy's long upswing since World War II was already grinding to an end as it struggled to carry its debt burden, rising housing costs, health care and related monthly "nut." 3

This is not what was expected 75 years ago. World War II ended with families and businesses rife with savings and with little debt, as there had been little to buy during the wartime years. But ever since, each business cycle recovery has started with a higher ratio of debt to income, diverting more revenue from business, households and governments to pay banks and bondholders. This debt burden raises the economy's cost of living and doing business, while leaving less wage income and profit to be spent on goods and services.

The virus pandemic has merely acted as a catalyst ending of the long postwar boom. Yet even as the U.S. and other Western economies begin to buckle under their debt overhead, little thought has been given to how to extricate them from the debts and defaults that have accelerated as a result of the broad economic disruption.

The "business as usual" approach is to let creditors foreclose and draw all the income and wealth over subsistence needs into their own hands. Economies have reached the point where debts can be paid only by shrinking production and consumption, leaving them as strapped as Greece has been since 2015. Rejecting debt writedowns to restore social balance was implanted at the outset of modern Western civilization. Ever since Roman times it has become normal for creditors to use social misfortune as an opportunity to gain property and income at the expense of families falling into debt. Blocking the emergence of democratic civic regimes empowered to protect debtors, creditor interests have promoted laws that force debtors to lose their land or other means of livelihood to foreclosing creditors or sell it under distress conditions and have to work off their debts.

In times of a general economic disruption, giving priority to creditor claims leads to widespread bankruptcy. Yet it violates most peoples' ideas of fairness and distributive justice to evict debtors from their homes and take whatever property they have if they cannot pay their rent arrears and other charges that have accrued through no fault of their own. Bankruptcy proceedings will force many businesses and farms to forfeit what they have invested to much wealthier buyers. Many small businesses, especially in urban minority neighborhoods, will see yeas of saving and investment wiped out. The lockdown also forces U.S. cities and states to cope with plunging sales- and income-tax revenue by slashing social services and depleting their pension funds savings to pay bondholders. Balancing their budgets by privatizing hitherto public services will create monopoly rents and new corporate empires

These outcomes are not necessary. They also are inequitable, and instead of being a survival of the fittest and most efficient economic solutions, they are a victory for the most successfully predatory. Yet such results are the product of a long-pedigreed legal and financial philosophy promoted by banks and bondholders, landlords and insurance companies reject economy-wide debt relief. They depict writing down debts and rents owed to them as unthinkable. Banks claim that forgiving personal and business rents would lead absentee landlords to default on their mortgages, threatening bank solvency. Insurance companies claim that to make their policy holders whole would bankrupt them. 4 So something has to give: either the population's broad economic interests, or the vested interests insisting that labor, industry and the government must bear the cost of arrears that have built up during the economic shutdown.

As in oligarchic Rome, financial interests in today's world have gained control of governments and captured the political and regulatory agencies, leaving democratic reformers powerless to suspend debt service, rent arrears, evictions and depression. The West is becoming a highly centrally planned economy, but its planning center is Wall Street, not Washington or state and local governments.

Rising real estate arrears prompt a mortgage bailout

Canada and many European governments are subsidizing businesses to pay up to 80 percent of employee wages even though many must stay home. But for the 40 million Americans who haven't been employed during the closedown, the prospect is for homelessness and desperation. Already before the crisis about half of Americans reported that they were living paycheck to paycheck and could not raise $400 in an emergency. When the paychecks stopped, rents could not be paid, nor could other normal monthly living expenses.

America is seeing the end of the home ownership boom that endowed its middle class with property steadily rising in price. For buyers, the price was rising mortgage debt, as bank credit was the major factor in raising property prices. (A home is worth however much a bank will lend against it.) For non-whites, to be sure, neighborhoods were redlined against racial minorities. By the early 2000s, banks began to make loans to black and Hispanic buyers, but usually at extortionately high interest rates and stiffer debt terms. America's white home buyers now face a fate similar to that which they have long imposed on minorities: Debt-inflated purchase prices for homes so high that they leave buyers strapped by mortgage and compulsory insurance payments, with declining public services in their neighborhoods.

When mortgages can't be paid, foreclosures follow. That causes declines in the proportion of Americans that own their own homes. That home ownership rate already had dropped from about 58 percent in 2008 to about 51 percent at the start of 2020. Since the 2008 mortgage-fraud crisis and President Obama's mass foreclosure program that hit minorities and low-income buyers especially hard, a more landlord-ridden economy has emerged as a result of foreclosed properties and companies bought by speculators and vast absentee-owner companies like Blackstone.

Many businesses that closed down did not pay the landlords. Realizing that if they are held responsible for paying full rents that accrued during the shutdown, it would take them over a year to make up the payment, leaving no net earnings for their efforts. That was especially the case for restaurants with compulsory limited "distance" seating and other stores obliged to restrict the density of their customers. Many restaurants and other neighborhood stores decided to go out of business. For hotels standing largely empty, some 19 percent of mortgage loans had fallen into arrears already by May, along with about 10 percent of retail stores. 5

The commercial real estate sector owes $2.4 trillion in mortgage debt. About 40 percent of tenants did not pay their rents for March, April and May, from restaurants and storefronts to large national retail markets. A moratorium on evictions put them off until August or September 2020. But in the interim, quarterly state and local property taxes were due in June, which also was when the annual federal income-tax payment was owed for the year 2019, having been postponed from April in the face of the shutdown.

The prospective break in the chain of payments of landlords to their banks may be bailed out by the Federal Reserve, but nobody can come up with a scenario whereby the debts owed by non-elites can be paid out of their own resources, any more than they were rescued from the junk-mortgage frauds that left over-mortgaged homes (mainly for low-income victims) in the wake of Obama's decision to support the banks and mortgage brokers instead of their victims. In fact, it takes a radical scenario to see how state and local debt can be paid as public budgets are thrown into limbo by the virus pandemic.

The fiscal squeeze forces governments to privatize public services and assets

Since 1945, the normal Keynesian response to an economic slowdown has been for governments to run budget deficits to revive the economy and employment. But that can't happen in the wake of the 2020 pandemic. For one thing, tax revenue is falling. Governments can create domestic money, of course, but the U.S. government quickly ran up a $2 trillion deficit by June 2020 simply to support Wall Street's financial and corporate markets, leaving a fiscal squeeze when it came to public spending into the real economy. Many U.S. states and cities have laws obliging them to balance their budgets. So public spending into the real economy (instead of just into the financial and corporate markets) had to be cut back.

Sales taxes from restaurants and hotels, income taxes, and property taxes from landlords not receiving rents. U.S. states and localities are having a huge tax shortfall that is forcing them to cut back basic social services and infrastructure. New York City mayor de Blasio has warned that schools, the police and public transportation may have to be cut back unless the city is given $7 billion. The CARES act passed by the Democratic Party in control of the House of Representatives made no attempt to allocate a single dollar to make up the widening fiscal gap. As for the Trump administration, it was unwilling to give money to states voting Democratic in the presidential or governorship elections.

The irony is that just at the time when a pandemic calls for public health care, political pressure for that abruptly stopped. Logically, it might have been expected the virus to have become a major catalyst for single-payer public health care, not least to prevent a wave of personal bankruptcy resulting from high medical bills. But hopes were dashed when the leading torch bearer for socialized medicine, Senator Bernie Sanders, threw his support behind Joe Biden and other opponents for the presidential nomination instead of focusing the primary elections on what the future of the Democratic Party would be. It decided to focus the 2020 U.S. election merely on the personality of which candidate would impose neoliberal policy: Republican Donald Trump, or his opponent running simply on a platform of "I am not Trump."

Both candidates – and indeed, both parties behind them –sought to downsize government and privatize as much of the public sector as possible, leaving administration to financial managers. Past government policy would have restored prosperity by public spending programs to to rebuild the roads and bridges, trains and subways that have fallen apart. But the fiscal squeeze caused by the economic shutdown has created pressure to Thatcherize America's crumbling transportation and urban infrastructure – and also to sell off land and public enterprises, basic urban health, schools – and at the national level, the post office. Fiscal budgets are to be balanced by selling off this infrastructure, in lucrative Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) with financial firms.

The neoliberal rent-extractive plan is for private capital to buy monopoly rights to repair the nation's bridges by turning them into toll bridges, to repair the nation's roads and highways by making the toll roads, to repair sewer systems by privatizing them. Schools, prisons, hospitals and other traditionally public functions. Even the police are to be privately owned security-guard agencies and managed for profit – on terms that will provide interest and capital gains for the financial sector. It is a New Enclosures movement seeking monopoly rent much as landlords extract land rent.

Having given $10 trillion dollars to support financial and mortgage markets, neoliberals in both the Republican and Democratic parties announced that the government had created so large a budget deficit as a result of bailing out the banking and landlord class that it lacked any more room for money creation for actual social spending programs. Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell advised states to solve their budget squeeze by raiding their pension funds to pay their bondholders.

For many decades, public employees accepted low wage growth in exchange for pensions. Their patient choice was to defer demands for wage increases in order to secure good pensions for their retirement. But now that they have worked at stagnant wages for many years, the money ostensibly saved for their pensions is to be given to bondholders. Likewise at the federal level, pressure was renewed by both parties to cut back Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, with Obama's 2010 Simpson-Bowles Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform to reduce the deficit at the expense of retirees and the poor.

In sum, money is being created to fuel the financial sector and its stock and bond markets, not to increase the economy's solvency, employment and living standards. The corona virus pandemic did not create this shift, but it catalyzed and accelerated the power grab, not least by pushing public-sector budgets into crisis.

It doesn't have to be this way

Every successful economy has been a mixed public/private economy with checks on the financial sector's power to indebt society in ways that impoverish it. Always at issue, however, is who will control the government. As American and European industry becomes more debt ridden, will they be oligarchic or democratic?

A socialist government such as China's can keep its industry going simply by simply writing down debts when they can't be paid without forcing a closedown and bankruptcy and loss of assets and employment. The world thus has two options: a basically productive public financial system in China, or a predatory financial system in the United States.

China can recover financially and fiscally from the virus disruption because most debts ultimately are owned to the government-based banking system. Money can be created to finance the material economy, labor and industry, construction and agriculture. When a company is unable to pay its bills and rent, the government doesn't stand by and let it be closed down and sold at a distressed price to a vulture investor.

China has an option that Western economies do not: It is in a position to do what Hammurabi and other ancient Near Eastern palatial economies did for thousands of years: write down debts so as to keep the economy resilient and functioning. It can suspend scheduled debt service, taxes, rents and public fees from having to be paid by troubled areas of its economy, because China's government is the ultimate creditor. It need not contend with politically powerful bankers who insist that the economy at large must lose, not themselves. The government can write down the debt to keep companies in business, and also their employees. That's what socialist governments do.

The underlying problem is finance capitalism. Its roots lie at the heart of Western civilization itself, rejecting the "circular time" permitting economic renewal by Clean Slates in favor of "linear time" in which debts are permanent and irreversible, without public oversight to manage finance and credit in the economy's overall long-term interest.

It often is easier to get rich in such times of disaster and need than in times of normal prosperity. While the U.S. economy polarizes between creditors and debtors, the stock market anticipates fortunes being made quickly from the insolvency of business with assets and property to be grabbed. Coupled with the Federal Reserve's credit creation to support the financial and real estate markets, asset prices are soaring (as of June 2020) for companies that expect to get even richer from the widespread distress to come in autumn 2020 when evictions and foreclosures ae scheduled to begin again.

In that respect, the corona virus's effect has been to help defeat the financial sector's enemy, governments strong enough to regulate it. The fiscal squeeze resulting from widespread unemployment, business closedowns, rent and tax arrears is being seized upon as a means of dismantling and privatizing government at the federal, state and local levels, at the expense of the citizenry at large.

Notes

[1] WHEN CHINA SNEEZES: From the Coronavirus Lockdown to the Global Politico-Economic Implications , Edited by Cynthia McKinney, Chapter 9, Economic Impact.

[2] I provide a detailed history of Clean Slate acts from the Bronze Age down through Biblical times and the Byzantine Empire in " and forgive them their debts" (ISLET 2018).

[3] I provide the details in Killing the Host: How Financial Parasites and Debt Destroy the Global Economy ((SLET, 2015).

[4] Lawsuits are exploding over the role of insurance companies supposed to protect business from such interruptions. See Julia Jacobs, "Arts Groups Fight Their Insurers Over Coverage on Virus Losses," The New York Times , May 6, 2020, reports that "insurance companies have issued a torrent of denials, prompting lawsuits across the country and legislative efforts on the state and federal levels to force insurers to make payments. The insurance industry has argued that fulfilling all of these requests would bankrupt the industry."

[5] Conor Dougherty and Peter Eavis, "In Commercial Real Estate, the Domino Effect Escalates," The New York Times , June 9, 2020.

[Oct 06, 2020] Who is the dumbest economic Nobel Prize winner?

Oct 06, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

vato , Oct 5 2020 9:03 utc | 104

Michael Hudson's newest interview on the Macro N Cheese Podcast either as a transcript or via audio is all about the coming debt deflation and what he calls the Neofeudal Empire.
If you haven't already known, Hudson reminds you that:

Who is the dumbest economic Nobel Prize winner? [Paul Krugman?] Paul Krugman. That's right. He was given a Nobel Prize for not understanding what money was. If he would have understood it, that would've excluded him from getting the Nobel Prize.

[Oct 06, 2020] https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-retail-bankruptcies-store-closures-hit-record-in-first-half-11601371800

Oct 06, 2020 | www.wsj.com


All over the country, big companies are laying off thousands of workers, and in some cases the numbers are even larger than that. Meanwhile, we have been seeing businesses fail at a pace that is absolutely stunning. According to the Wall Street Journal, this year we are on pace to set new records for retail stores closings, retail bankruptcies, and retail liquidations
Also
https://news.bloomberglaw.com/bankruptcy-law/new-york-region-sees-40-bankruptcy-surge-braces-for-more
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8787099/Disney-layoff-28-000-employees-
coronavirus-continues-decimate-theme-parks.html
The airline industry is actually on the verge of a historic implosion, and we are being told that 100,000 workers could soon lose their jobs if they don't get a massive bailout from the federal government.
https://wolfstreet.com/2020/09/28/facing-crappiest-recovery-ever-airlines-demand-new-25-billion-bailout-for-50-billion-total-after-having-burned-45-billion-on-share-buybacks/
32,000 jobs !!!!
https://edition.cnn.com/2020/09/30/business/airline-job-cuts/index.html
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/transcript-american-airlines-doug-parker-on-face-the-nation-september-27-2020/
KPMG, one of the so-called Big Four accounting firms, laid off 1,400 of its 35,000 US employees on Tuesday.
https://www.businessinsider.com/kpmg-layoffs-1400-employees-professional-services-struggle-job-cuts-2020-9?r=DE&IR=T
https://www.zerohedge.com/markets/goldman-cuts-400-jobs-covid-19-layoff-moratorium-ends
https://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/shell-plans-to-cut-up-to-9000-jobs-in-transition-plan
But for many Americans, this economic downturn has quickly become a horror show.
https://edition.cnn.com/2020/09/28/success/hotel-workers-pandemic-layoffs/index.html
https://edition.cnn.com/2020/10/04/business/unemployed-workers-permanent-job-losses/index.html
If the tourists - only slowly, slowly - fully return
https://www.thehour.com/business/article/The-covid-19-recession-is-the-most-unequal-in-15609728.php
Signs That America's Economic Depression Is Accelerating
Almost 90 percent of NYC bars and restaurants couldn't pay August rent !!!!
https://nypost.com/2020/09/21/almost-90-percent-of-nyc-bars-and-restaurants-couldnt-pay-august-rent/
Additional 787,000 workers seek unemployment
https://eu.usatoday.com/story/money/2020/10/01/unemployment-more-workers-file-jobless-claims-cuts-persist/5874518002/
All 546 of its theaters across US, UK and Ireland will be closed
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8803287/Regal-owner-Cineworld-close-U-S-UK-Irish-screens.html

Hunger In Texas: No End In Sight For Pandemic Food Lines
https://www.keranews.org/texas-news/2020-09-25/hunger-in-texas-no-end-in-sight-for-pandemic-food-lines

Thousands of cars form tightly packed lines across the state every week now to receive food.

From Chihuahuan Desert border towns and cities to the staked plains of the panhandle, across the piney wood of deep East Texas, down to the Rio Grande and back cars stack, growing into steel and fiberglass caterpillars, hungry.
These events have distributed tens of millions of pounds of food over the past six months.
And...
Wildfires to escalate as intense heat dome builds this weekend
https://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Wildfire-danger-in-West-to-escalate-as-intense-15590810.php
California's Wildfires record burned 4 million acres
https://abc7ny.com/california-wildfires-fires-glass-fire-homes-burned-wildfire/6768129/
US West Coast wildfires air quality deteriorates to the worst
https://duckduckgo.com/?q=US+west+coast+wildfires+air+quality+deteriorate+to+the+worst&ia=web

Posted by: Ashino | Oct 5 2020 13:18 utc | 113

[Oct 05, 2020] The first man put at the helm will be a good one. Nobody knows what sort may come afterwards. The executive will be always increasing here, as elsewhere, till it ends in a monarchy

Oct 05, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Richard Steven Hack , Oct 5 2020 4:25 utc | 96

Posted by: snake | Oct 5 2020 4:02 utc | 93 430,000,000 virgin Americans

Thought the population as of this year was 331 million? Typo?

True, dissatisfaction with states appears to be on the rise world-wide. The problem is that people still are still thoroughly brainwashed into believing the problem is *their* state, not "state" in the abstract. And because of that, *any* change they make is likely to be for the worse, a la National Socialism. The likelihood of some form of "Chinese Communism" in this country is next to zero - not that I would welcome that, either, but some here would. France might swing toward some form of "council socialism", given their previous history with left revolutions, but I don't see that spreading anywhere else; maybe Spain given their anarchism history. No, I don't see any evidence that the state itself is under any significant threat anywhere. States may collapse, even in the US, but they will reform almost immediately. Any positive changes will be unlikely and even if implemented will quickly be eroded.

The *only* solution is extermination of the ruling class. "The world will only be free when the last politician is strangled with the guts of the last priest." And even then, without some kind of "re-education" of everyone else, it won't last. A new ruling class will simply arise.

Just looked up that Ben Franklin quote:

First reported by James McHenry, a Maryland delegate to the Constitutional Convention. This is what he wrote: "A lady asked Dr. Franklin Well Doctor what have we got a republic or a monarchy. A republic replied the Doctor if you can keep it." Another of his famous quotes from that era comes just after Washington had been elected the first president. "The first man put at the helm will be a good one. Nobody knows what sort may come afterwards," he said. But that isn't the full quote. He continued, "The executive will be always increasing here, as elsewhere, till it ends in a monarchy."

Well, here we are. We didn't keep it. And here we are: a lunatic in office who thinks he's King George.

[Sep 28, 2020] Ruling class consists of two strata: (a) the highest stratum; and (b) second stratum. The highest stratum is the core of the ruling class but it could not sufficiently lead and direct the society unless the second stratum helps.

Sep 28, 2020 | dergipark.org.tr

Formation of the ruling classes has a close relation with the level of civilization and the type of society. Ruling class under every condition try to reproduce itself particularly by domination on political forces like power, wealth and the ruling class tends to be come hereditary. In fact, descents of ruling class members have a high life chances to have the traits necessary to be a ruling class member (Mosca 1939, pp. 60-61). In general, prior to democracy, membership of ruling class was not only de facto but also de jure. In democracy, de jure transfer of political possession to descendants of ruling class members impossible and not legitimized but it is now de facto.

According to Mosca, historically, ruling class try to justify its existence and policies by using some universal moral principles, superiority etc., lately, scientific theory and knowledge like Social Darwinism, division of labor is also employed for the same purposes. Mosca particularly rejects these two theses to use in political purposes. To Mosca, at a certain level of civilization, ruling classes do not justify their power exclusively by de facto possession of it, but try to find a moral and legal basis for it. This legal and moral basis or principles on which the power of the political class rests is called "political formula" by Mosca. The formula has a unique structure in all societies.

"lTjhe political formula must be based on the special beliefs and the strongest sentiments of the current social group or at least upon the beliefs and sentiments of the particular portion of that group which hold political preeminence"(Mosca 1939, p.71,72).

In fact ruling class like Pareto's elite strata consist of two strata: (a) the highest stratum; and (b) second stratum. The highest stratum is the core of the ruling class but it could not sufficiently lead and direct the society unless the second stratum helps. Second stratum is the larger than the higher stratum in number and has all the capacities of leadership in the country. Even autocratic systems do have it. Not only political but also any type of social organization needs the second stratum in order to be possible (Mosca 1939, p.404, 430).

The members of the ruling class are recruited almost entirely from the dominant, majority group in the society. If the society has a number of minorities and if this rule is not followed due to weaknesses of dominant group, political system can meet serious political crisis. The same thing occurs when there are considerable differences between in the culture, and in customs of the ruling class and subject classes (Mosca 1939, p.l05,106-7).

Weaknesses of dominant group in society and isolation of lower classes from the ruling classes can lead to political upheaval in the country and as a result of this upheaval subject classes' representatives can have places in the ruling class. Because when isolation takes place, another ruling class emerges among the subject classes that often hostile to the old ruling class (Mosca 1939, pp. 107- 8). Furthermore, due to reciprocal isolation of classes, the character of upper classes change, they become weak in bold and aggressiveness and richer in "soft" remissive individuals. On the same track, when there is fragmentation in the society, new groups form and each one of them makes up of its own leaders and followers. In fact, revolutions are another source of replacement of ruling class (Mosca 1939, p.163, 199).

When Mosca compares the political systems, he says that communist and socialist societies would beyond any doubt managed by officials and he sees these regimes as utopia. On democracy, he says, although gradual increase of universal suffrage, actual power has remained partly in wealthiest and the middle classes. At the same time, for Mosca, middle class is necessary for democracy, and when middle class declines, politic regimes in democratic countries turns to a plutocratic dictatorship, or bureaucratic dictatorship. (Mosca 1939, p.391).

According to Mosca, ruling class has a responsive character to social change in the society and there is a close relation between level of civilization and character of ruling classes. According to these two complementary proposition, it can be said that ruling class is subject of social change rather than actor of it. For example, change in division of labor from lower to higher and change in political force from military to wealth have changed the type of state from federal to bureaucratic state (Mosca 1939, p. 81, 83 ). There it seems that Mosca admits a linear social change in history, as opposite to Pareto.

As seen, Mosca's theory is basically based on organized minorities' superiority over unorganized majority. This organized minority consists of ruling class, but for Mosca it is not necessarily mean that always interest of ruling class and subject classes are different. To him ,in contrast they coincide many times. He saw the future of socialist system by saying that it will be governed by officials.

This feature of socialist system is well documented by Milovon Dijilas in his work: New Classes. But Mosca failed to see that one day, majority will also be able to organize. As C. W. Mills pointed put, democratic western societies have experienced important transformations: (1) from the organized minority and unorganized majority to relatively unorganized minority and organized majority, and (2) from the elite state to an organized state.( Mills 1965, pp. 161-162).

Therefore minorities and elites in today's society are less powerful than majorities. Elites have relatively lost their privileges, and more importantly, their monopoly over society.

[Sep 28, 2020] Peter Turchin Intra-Elite Competition- A Key Concept for Understanding the Dynamics of Complex Societies by Peter Turchin

Pictures removes. See the original for full text.
Notable quotes:
"... Elites are a small proportion of the population (on the order of 1 percent) who concentrate social power in their hands (see my previous post and especially its discussion in the comments that reveal the complex dimensions of this concept). In the United States, for example, they include (but are not limited to) elected politicians, top civil service bureaucrats, and the owners and managers of Fortune 500 companies (see Who Rules America? ). ..."
"... As individual elites retire, they are replaced from the pool of elite aspirants . There are always more elite aspirants than positions for them to occupy. Intra-elite competition is the process that sorts aspirants into successful elites and aspirants whose ambition to enter the elite ranks is frustrated. Competition among the elites occurs on multiple levels. ..."
"... Excessive elite competition, on the other hand, results in increasing social and political instability. The supply of power positions in a society is relatively, or even absolutely, inelastic. For example, there are only 435 U.S. Representatives, 100 Senators, and one President. A great expansion in the numbers of elite aspirants means that increasingly large numbers of them are frustrated, and some of those, the more ambitious and ruthless ones, turn into counter-elites . In other words, masses of frustrated elite aspirants become breeding grounds for radical groups and revolutionary movements. ..."
"... Intense intra-elite competition, however, leads to the rise of rival power networks, which increasingly subvert the rules of political engagement to get ahead of the opposition. Instead of competing on their own merits, or the merits of their political platforms, candidates increasingly rely on "dirty tricks" such as character assassination (and, in historical cases, literal assassination). As a result, excessive competition results in the unraveling of prosocial, cooperative norms (this is a general phenomenon that is not limited to political life). ..."
"... Because the supply of power positions is relatively inelastic, most of the action is on the demand side. Simply put, it is the excessive expansion of elite aspirant numbers (or "elite overproduction") that drives up intra-elite competition ..."
"... There are two main "pumps" producing aspirants for elite positions in America: education and wealth. On the education side, of particular importance are the law degree (for a political career) and the MBA (to climb the corporate ladder). Over the past four decades, according to the American Bar Association, the number of lawyers tripled from 400,000 to 1.2 million. The number of MBAs conferred by business schools over the same period grew six-fold (details in Ages of Discord ). ..."
"... It's contradictory to bemoan the spread of the 'neoliberal' ethos, and simultaneously talk about elite fragmentation. The evidence Turchin marshalls for elite fragmentation is basically the bimodal distribution of lawyers' incomes, and the degree of legislative polarisation. He ignores the much wider evidence of capitalist unity and concentration in support of 'neoliberal' policies. ..."
"... while elites have colluded to capture the political process we might not expect them to all agree on what to do with the political process once it has been captured. ..."
"... There is no intra-capitalist unity. Some elites shouldn't even be called capitalists because the monopoly power they seek completely eliminates the free market. Other elites who want to control the political process do want a free market. They are in conflict. ..."
"... The concept of "ecological overshoot and collapse" applies to human ecology too. We're certainly in overshoot, so some form of collapse is coming (even if a technological miracle occurred, like cheap energy from nuclear fusion, it would only postpone the day of reckoning). ..."
"... As to "intra-elite competition", it is well underway in much of the upper middle class and the 1%, according to the statistics documented by Peter Turchin above. But it is just revving up among the super-elites – the billionaire class, with Trump being the first really visible eruption. ..."
"... When an imperial economy can longer expand easily, all of Peter's dynamics come into play with greater force, not just the elite competition, but the increasing exploitation of the common people in order to maintain elite expansion. The latter has been going on since Reagan in the form of escalating economic inequality. = popular immiseration. ..."
"... I liked the intra-elite discussions in "Ages of Discord" and it made me an even more strident believer in term limits. At least moving people out of the Congress after eight years will "free up" some space for other elite aspirants. ..."
"... Political elites are the proxies PT uses as evidence for his theory, but as he himself says, "American power holders are wealth holders". And I believe the definition I have effectively used here, "owners of capital", is consistent with his concept of elites or magnates in Secular Cycles -- a book I admire tremendously. ..."
"... Your average Congressman is not as powerful today as he was 100 years ago. Cabinet members used to do something of substance and now act more like front men, while policy making is centralized in the White House. You have more and more aspirants for fewer and fewer positions of substance. That ramps up intensity of competition even more than just over-production of JDs and MBAs. ..."
"... Agreed, the overproduction of elites developed in parallel with the change in social norms that extolled competition and downplayed cooperation. But these two dynamics may be causally related -- it's not a pure coincidence that the two trends developed in parallel. ..."
"... It seems to me that one of the most important factors in intra-elite competition, is the degree of skill of the frustrated aspirants. If there are lots of people who want to be elite but can't crack the system to get in, that may not be a problem if those frustrated aspirants aren't particularly good at organization, motivation, leadership, etc. ..."
"... If, on the other hand, the frustrated aspirants are nearly as good at this sort of thing as those actually in power, and especially if they are better at it than the incumbents (who somehow through tradition or family connections or what-have-you remain on top), then you have a much better chance of the frustrated aspirants being able to kick up trouble. ..."
"... I wonder if any of the commentators here have considered that the [neoliberal] cabal now in power in the US (not elsewhere) are not in power to "take power" except for a temporary period. They don't want to run the federal government, they want to destroy it, except for the police state and the military. ..."
Dec 30, 2016 | peterturchin.com

elites , norms , social change , structural-demographic 72 Comments

Intra-elite competition is one of the most important factors explaining massive waves of social and political instability, which periodically afflict complex, state-level societies. This idea was proposed by Jack Goldstone nearly 30 years ago . Goldstone tested it empirically by analyzing the structural precursors of the English Civil War, the French Revolution, and seventeenth century's crises in Turkey and China. Other researchers (including Sergey Nefedov, Andrey Korotayev, and myself) extended Goldstone's theory and tested it in such different societies as Ancient Rome, Egypt, and Mesopotamia; medieval England, France, and China; the European revolutions of 1848 and the Russian Revolutions of 1905 and 1917; and the Arab Spring uprisings. Closer to home, recent research indicates that the stability of modern democratic societies is also undermined by excessive competition among the elites (see Ages of Discord for a structural-demographic analysis of American history). Why is intra-elite competition such an important driver of instability?

Elites are a small proportion of the population (on the order of 1 percent) who concentrate social power in their hands (see my previous post and especially its discussion in the comments that reveal the complex dimensions of this concept). In the United States, for example, they include (but are not limited to) elected politicians, top civil service bureaucrats, and the owners and managers of Fortune 500 companies (see Who Rules America? ).

As individual elites retire, they are replaced from the pool of elite aspirants . There are always more elite aspirants than positions for them to occupy. Intra-elite competition is the process that sorts aspirants into successful elites and aspirants whose ambition to enter the elite ranks is frustrated. Competition among the elites occurs on multiple levels. Thus, lower-ranked elites (for example, state representatives) may also be aspirants for the next level (e.g., U.S. Congress), and so on, all the way up to POTUS.

Moderate intra-elite competition need not be harmful to an orderly and efficient functioning of the society; in fact, it's usually beneficial because it results in better-qualified candidates being selected. Additionally, competition can help weed out incompetent or corrupt office-holders. However, it is important to keep in mind that the social effects of elite competition depend critically on the norms and institutions that regulate it and channel it into such societally productive forms.

Excessive elite competition, on the other hand, results in increasing social and political instability. The supply of power positions in a society is relatively, or even absolutely, inelastic. For example, there are only 435 U.S. Representatives, 100 Senators, and one President. A great expansion in the numbers of elite aspirants means that increasingly large numbers of them are frustrated, and some of those, the more ambitious and ruthless ones, turn into counter-elites . In other words, masses of frustrated elite aspirants become breeding grounds for radical groups and revolutionary movements.

Another consequence of excessive competition among elite aspirants is its effect on the social norms regulating politically acceptable conduct. Norms are effective only as long as the majority follows them, and violators are punished. Maintaining such norms is the job for the elites themselves.

Intense intra-elite competition, however, leads to the rise of rival power networks, which increasingly subvert the rules of political engagement to get ahead of the opposition. Instead of competing on their own merits, or the merits of their political platforms, candidates increasingly rely on "dirty tricks" such as character assassination (and, in historical cases, literal assassination). As a result, excessive competition results in the unraveling of prosocial, cooperative norms (this is a general phenomenon that is not limited to political life).

Death of Gaius Gracchus (François Topino-Lebrun) Source

Intra-elite competition, thus, has a nonlinear effect on social function: moderate levels are good, excessive levels are bad. What are the social forces leading to excessive competition?

Because the supply of power positions is relatively inelastic, most of the action is on the demand side. Simply put, it is the excessive expansion of elite aspirant numbers (or "elite overproduction") that drives up intra-elite competition. Let's again use the contemporary America as an example to illustrate this idea (although, I emphasize, similar social processes have operated in all complex large-scale human societies since they arose some 5,000 years ago).

There are two main "pumps" producing aspirants for elite positions in America: education and wealth. On the education side, of particular importance are the law degree (for a political career) and the MBA (to climb the corporate ladder). Over the past four decades, according to the American Bar Association, the number of lawyers tripled from 400,000 to 1.2 million. The number of MBAs conferred by business schools over the same period grew six-fold (details in Ages of Discord ).

On the wealth side we see a similar expansion of numbers, driven by growing inequality of income and wealth over the last 40 years. The proverbial "1 percent" becomes "2 percent", then "3 percent" For example, today there are five times as many households with wealth exceeding $10 million (in 1995 dollars), compared to 1980. Some of these wealth-holders give money to candidates, but others choose to run for political office themselves.

Elite overproduction in the US has already driven up the intensity of intra-elite competition. A reasonable proxy for escalating political competition here is the total cost of election for congressional races, which has grown (in inflation-adjusted dollars) from $2.4 billion in 1998 to $4.3 billion in 2016 ( Center for Responsive Politics ). Another clear sign is the unraveling of social norms regulating political discourse and process that has become glaringly obvious during the 2016 presidential election.

Analysis of past societies indicates that, if intra-elite competition is allowed to escalate, it will increasingly take more violent forms. A typical outcome of this process is a massive outbreak of political violence, often ending in a state collapse, a revolution, or a civil war (or all of the above).

... .. ..

72 Comments
  1. Gene Anderson December 30, 2016 at 5:43 pm

    Works for China too. One can see two main sources: The Imperial family, which with vast-scale polygyny grew inordinately in a short time; and the examination system, producing more and more successful candidates over time (this was a problem mainly after Song greatly expanded the exams). The poor Imperial family deserves some pity–toward the end of a dynasty you had all these 13th cousins 10 times removed starving to death on the Russian frontier. (I exaggerate only slightly. By the end of the empire in 1911, there were tens of thousands of Imperial relatives.) Naturally the competition got pretty fierce late in the dynasties. When the empire thrived, the system could blot all these people up, and find places for them. When the empire was going down hill, or conflicted, it meant trouble.

  2. pseudoerasmus December 30, 2016 at 5:51 pm

    I believe Peter Turchin is deeply mistaken about elite competition in modern societies. I repeat my comment on intra-elite competition from a previous post:

    In an agrarian society, elite wealth was based on land, more specifically, on extracting a fraction of the output of the commoners working the land. When there was a demographic crisis (land-labour ratio fell and immiseration set in), elite incomes fell, and elites sought to maintain their lifestyles by increasing the rate of extraction. But squeezing peasants even more when there's already a demographic crisis only exacerbates popular immiseration. At some point the only way for elites to increase, or even just preserve, their incomes was at the expense of other elites. Thus you have elite fragmentation and internecine competition. And thus sociopolitical instability. Makes a lot of sense. It fits a lot of historical cases.

    However, this theory makes no sense in modern industrial societies.

    (1) Wealth is no longer fixed in the long run. Modern economies reliably grow at 1-2% rates. Much of that growth is concentrated at the top, even when measured income inequality is relatively low. So the competitive pressure within elites is much less than in any agrarian society governed by Malthusian-Ricardian-Brennerian-Goldstone-Turchin cycles.

    (2) Besides, in a modern society, you need *more*, not less, intra-elite cooperation (a) in order to increase economic inequality; (b) in order for the elites to capture a greater share of the economic growth; (c) in order for capitalists reduce the bargaining power of labour; and (d) in order for elites to capture the state.

    In fact, politics in a modern society is a pretty small part of the field in which elites can play compared with anti-competitive practices -- i.e., collusion, mergers, monopolies, trusts, and other ways of reducing competition and concentrating power in the supply of goods and the demand for labour. These are all acts of elite cooperation. Capitalists are, right now, in unprecedented unity. They agree on unions, immigration, wages, trade, regulations, etc. That unity is necessary to generate the inequality in the first place.

    Therefore, state capture and rent-seeking are now *cooperative*: conspiracies to rig the rules and increase markups against the public interest require collusion. Owners of one mobile telephony operator don't have to clash with the owners of another mobile telephony operator: they can band together to lobby the government. Compared with the rise of monopoly concentration, elites wrangling over Trump or Brexit is a sideshow.

    Almost everybody who is concerned about rising inequality implicitly recognises this: from Krugman to Stiglitz to Milanovic to even Turchin's friends at Evonomics, they have argued that inequality stems in great measure from anti-competitive practises.

    It's contradictory to bemoan the spread of the 'neoliberal' ethos, and simultaneously talk about elite fragmentation. The evidence Turchin marshalls for elite fragmentation is basically the bimodal distribution of lawyers' incomes, and the degree of legislative polarisation. He ignores the much wider evidence of capitalist unity and concentration in support of 'neoliberal' policies.

    • Fernando E.Mora December 31, 2016 at 4:05 am

      I think you must read Fred Hirsch's "Social Limits to Growth" to understand the difference between the always possible growth in MATERIALl wealth and the (no-)growth of POSITIONAL wealth in which Peter's point can also be solidly (and perhaps more accurately) based.

      • pseudoerasmus December 31, 2016 at 8:16 am

        I would certainly agree that if economic growth were zero or negative, PT's elite competition theory might make more sense. Which is why I think SD theory is still quite applicable to many contemporary developing countries, such as those in the Arab world. Also, the collapse into civil wars in many African countries in the 1980s and 1990s was preceded by a large expansion of educated people at the same time economic growth more or less came to a halt.

    • Peter Turchin January 1, 2017 at 7:17 pm

      This comment requires a lengthier rebuttal, but for now just two points:

      1. In the blog post I specifically used the political elites to illustrate my major point. Your response, unfortunately, is a standard economic one that measures everything in money. As I said, I will probably have to write another post to explain why this is wrong-headed.

      2. Why do you assume that the "capitalist class" will be automatically able to cooperate to impose their will on the rest of the society? There is, after all, the problem of collective action.

      • Stephen Morris January 1, 2017 at 8:04 pm

        Speaking as a former investment banker involved in the privatisation of public assets – who has seen at first hand generations of politicians captured by business interests – I suggest that anyone with direct experience of this matter would realise that any collective action problem faced by the capitalist class in negligible in comparison which the collective action problem faced by citizens under the non-democratic system of purely "elective" goverrnment (i.e. "government-by-politicians').

      • pseudoerasmus January 1, 2017 at 8:04 pm

        Re #1 -- No, I do not measure everything in money, so please do not write a whole post as though that's what I argued. I said that elites now *collude* to capture the political process, which they do. They don't need to compete for political positions because they cooperate in capturing it. Goldman Sachs has access to the Treasury department whether the party in power is Republican or Democratic. (Besides, you also use some money proxies for intra-elite competition/cooperation: the distribution of lawyers' salaries, or the Great Merger Movement.)

        Re #2 -- I do not assume it. The evidence is overwhelming that concentration is increasing, markups are rising, monopoly power is expanding. All of that is evidence of intra-capitalist cooperation and unity.

      • pseudoerasmus January 1, 2017 at 8:11 pm

        Peter Turchin frequently cites the work of Martin Gilens, who has repeatedly shown that public policy largely reflects the preferences of the very richest of US society. That's not elite competition. That's elite cooperation in capturing of the political process. The problem with Turchin's framework is that he sees even modern societies through the Roman framework of Optimates v. Populares.

        • edwardturner January 2, 2017 at 11:52 am

          pseudoerasmus, I pretty much agree with what you say. However, while elites have colluded to capture the political process we might not expect them to all agree on what to do with the political process once it has been captured.

          There is no intra-capitalist unity. Some elites shouldn't even be called capitalists because the monopoly power they seek completely eliminates the free market. Other elites who want to control the political process do want a free market. They are in conflict.

          The common thread here is the presence of powerful elites who cooperate. Historically the monopoly power elites have cooperated without much resistence but the free market elites have begun to cooperate against them and have had success in the election of Donald Trump.

          If it is people power we want then the general trend will look like cooperation as whoever wins the conflict will be cooperating economic elites.

    • Steve Roth January 2, 2017 at 9:41 am

      I question whether there is a qualitative difference today. It's still about the claims embodied by "wealth," and the power those claims impart to wealthholders. The mechanisms are different, but the wealth/power relationships are pretty much the same.

      The crux, in my view, is concentration of wealth (hence power). Which has the virtue of being nicely quantifiable, in concept if not necessarily in practice.

      My favorite graph of this:

      http://www.asymptosis.com/household-net-worth-by-quintile-62-09-be-prepared-to-scroll.html

      As concentration increases and the "elite" gets smaller, the rope-ladder hanging down from the elite gets shorter and rattier. eg: The 90% were always excluded. Now the 2%-10% are. That change could result in a different type or intensity of social conflict.

      On the other hand that intra-"elite" competition might just be a by-product and analytical distraction. The elite vs "the rest" is the issue, and all we need to look at is the size of the elite. That could be nicely encapsulated in a "wealth concentration" metric.

      Problem is getting a consistent measure of that wealth concentration. Hell, the U.S. national accounts didn't even tally wealth until 2006, and still don't even touch on wealth distribution.

      http://evonomics.com/economists-dont-know-think-wealth-profits/

      Assembling such a (validly consistent) measure across historical societies would be tough. Atkinson, Wolff, Piketty&Co, etc. have managed over recent decades to assemble data on richer countries going back a century or so. Perhaps one could do similar for the Roman Empire, at least roughly? But across many societies and millennia? Tough.

      • pseudoerasmus January 2, 2017 at 10:39 am

        In agrarian societies, the wealth that conferred status -- land and state offices -- were fixed in the long run. In modern societies, the supply of status positions is not fixed and is in fact highly elastic.

        • Steve Roth January 2, 2017 at 11:10 am

          Yes the quantity of wealth was fixed. But I'm talking about the concentration of wealth and power. Compare a society in which the 1% has all the wealth and (real) power, compared to one where it's more broadly distributed among the 10%.

          IOW, whaddaya mean by "elite," buster?

          • >the supply of status positions is not fixed and is in fact highly elastic

          Totally agree. Increasing wealth does not mean that the quantity of status positions is increasing. The absolute or percentage count of "the elite" could shrink (wealth could concentrate) even as wealth increases.

          Increasing wealth might be presumed to give more entree to aspirants than a fixed-wealth scenario, but I just have no idea whether that is actually the case.

  3. Dick Burkhart December 30, 2016 at 6:47 pm

    You claim that "wealth is no longer fixed in the long run", yet that claim is the most fundamental fallacy of contemporary economics. "Limits-to-growth" is not a choice but a fact of science. Already the global economy is stagnating, mostly for this reason, and it is headed toward contraction sometime during the coming generation, despite all the hype about new technologies.

    The concept of "ecological overshoot and collapse" applies to human ecology too. We're certainly in overshoot, so some form of collapse is coming (even if a technological miracle occurred, like cheap energy from nuclear fusion, it would only postpone the day of reckoning).

    As to "intra-elite competition", it is well underway in much of the upper middle class and the 1%, according to the statistics documented by Peter Turchin above. But it is just revving up among the super-elites – the billionaire class, with Trump being the first really visible eruption. In fact, Donald Trump's election is the perfect example of how this competition plays out once it hits the main stage. So don't confuse tactical cooperation among increasingly greedy factions of the elites with the kind of yawning political fractures that are now opening up as unscrupulous opportunists like Trump discover that they can exploit a disgruntled part of the populace to "trump" the more conventional elites. And as "limits-to-growth" blocks the customary relief valve of expansion, then elite exploitation and popular revolt will increase until something there is some kind of show stopper.

      • Dick Burkhart December 30, 2016 at 8:29 pm

        Like most economists, you've got it totally backward: The non-material part is completely dependent on cheap resources, especially cheap, and compatible ecosystem conditions. Those resources only seem to disappear from the economy, because they are so cheap. But, as in the rest of nature, all that complexity comes from the surplus of energy and other resources.

        After all, we could not live without good air. Yet it costs nothing most of the time, so doesn't even enter into conventional economics.

        • pseudoerasmus December 30, 2016 at 9:04 pm

          Well, Dick Burkhart, as I said earlier, even if ecological exhaustion and collapse were coming, (a) that is not related to current economic problems; and (b) it's also not part of Peter Turchin's diagnosis.

          • Dick Burkhart December 31, 2016 at 9:19 pm

            In fact climate change is already taking an increasing economic toll – from extreme weather events, ocean acidification, desertification in some areas, etc. These costs could increase rapidly if certain tipping points are reached.

            But, yes, the larger immediate effects are coming from resource depletion, especially the peaking of conventional oil in 2006. Unconventional oil, like tar sands and fracked oil, is much more expensive, hence produces less wealth, less economic growth. Even much of the newer conventional oil is less productive, as it is often harder to find or requires tertiary methods of recovery. Similar dynamics apply to coal, natural gas, and many other resources, except that depletion may not be as far advanced as for oil. Economic growth has slowed dramatically even in China, despite their phony growth numbers, and I expect increasing political turmoil there, too, over the next decade or two.

            When an imperial economy can longer expand easily, all of Peter's dynamics come into play with greater force, not just the elite competition, but the increasing exploitation of the common people in order to maintain elite expansion. The latter has been going on since Reagan in the form of escalating economic inequality. = popular immiseration.

      • Paolo Ghirri December 31, 2016 at 2:34 pm

        "current problems have nothing to do with anything ecological or resource constraints."

        yes they have: for a pre industrial civilization what is vital is energy surplus, energy surplus that came from agriculture production. so as an example 18 have to work to produce food and 2 can live as soldier, priest and so on.

        for a industrial civilization energy surplus came from oil. from 1973 to 2016 the energy surplus pro-capita is falling: in a developed country the pro capita surplus now is 75% lower than in 1973.

        the gap is covered with debt. so in the short run we have: 1) energy price escalation (in real term the 2016 average oil price is the double of 2000) 2) agricultural stress: more frequent spike in food price, combined with food shortfall in the most vulnerable country (arab spring: food price in 2011 are 229% higher than the 2000-2004 average) 3) energy sprawl: investment in energy infrascructure will absorb rising proportion 4) economic stagnation: fail to recover from setbacks as robustly as it has in the past 5) inflation
        with the single exception of inflation (but if we check only necessary to live item i'm not so sure) all of the above features has already become firnly established in recent years, wich underlines the point that energy-surplus economy has reached its tipping point

  4. Terry Lowman December 30, 2016 at 7:20 pm

    The reason the elites cooperate is to get a leg up in the competition. It recently occurred to me that the Forbes 400 list of America's wealthiest families gives people a rank, a competitor. Without the list, one might be complacent with a mere $3 billion, but knowing others have tens of billions, makes you a "just ran". Better tune up your capitalist machine so you can outshine everyone else, right?

    • Peter Turchin January 1, 2017 at 7:19 pm

      The supply of "status" is by its nature inelastic. There is only one top person in anything, and only ten in the Top 10.

      • edwardturner January 2, 2017 at 11:57 am

        True but people who cannot be the king of general things will be happy to be known as the king of their specialism.

        The more specialisms that exist for people to get to the top of the more stable a society will be.

      • edwardturner January 2, 2017 at 12:02 pm

        you could say that the king of the military is the king of kings but in the age of nuclear buttons it's simply boring. you can't blow anything up without getting blown up yourself. you can use non-nuclear military power but non-nuclear power in the age we are living in only wins you the war, it doesn't win you the war and the peace. to win the peace today you need to be king of something other than the military.

  5. Rick Derris December 30, 2016 at 9:50 pm

    I liked the intra-elite discussions in "Ages of Discord" and it made me an even more strident believer in term limits. At least moving people out of the Congress after eight years will "free up" some space for other elite aspirants. I don't care if your politics are on the side of Strom Thurmond or Ted Kennedy – both were in the Congress for far too long.

    Of course, term limits did nothing to keep a 2nd Cuomo out of the NY Governor's mansion, but at least it means we only have to watch one Cuomo on CNN.

  6. Rich December 31, 2016 at 1:09 am

    Pseudoerasmus, good arguments. The consolidation of money, as well as markets, is very large right now and it does seem like that would take coordination of an ownership class or at least similar lines of thinking among those elites. But, are we talking about a different set of elites? There may be different populations of elites: capitalist and political. Personally, I think the proxies Peter use describe a political elite population rather than a capitalist elite population. The two combine for many, but there may be distinct capitalist and political populations with each having distinct behavior patterns. The worrisome insight for me is that it's the political elites that end up bringing us to our knees.

    • pseudoerasmus December 31, 2016 at 7:43 am

      "Personally, I think the proxies Peter use describe a political elite population rather than a capitalist elite population.

      Political elites are the proxies PT uses as evidence for his theory, but as he himself says, "American power holders are wealth holders". And I believe the definition I have effectively used here, "owners of capital", is consistent with his concept of elites or magnates in Secular Cycles -- a book I admire tremendously.

      Note also that PT uses the Great Merger Movement in US history (1895-1905) as evidence of the beginnings of elite cooperation. Well, another wave of capital concentration has existed now for decades, since the 1980s.

      • Rich Howard December 31, 2016 at 4:40 pm

        Political elites may be more likely to be rich, but the rich is a larger population with only a fraction politically aspirant. PT'S model relates political aspirants to political breakdown. And because it works so well, in so many cases, it suggests there is a more universal social process at work than rich/poor, unemployment rates, too many weapons, resource depletion etc.

  7. Jason December 31, 2016 at 7:42 am

    I like the theory but isn't there more to the story. On one side you have elite aspirant overproduction. On the other side, you have increasing concentration of power -- the iron law of oligarchy (in the sense of this wikipedia link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_law_of_oligarchy )

    Your average Congressman is not as powerful today as he was 100 years ago. Cabinet members used to do something of substance and now act more like front men, while policy making is centralized in the White House. You have more and more aspirants for fewer and fewer positions of substance. That ramps up intensity of competition even more than just over-production of JDs and MBAs.

    Plus the barriers to entry for competition has lowered too. Now celebrities fight with JDs for political positions. Rap stars compete with MBAs for business tycoon success.

    At all levels of society, you have greater and greater competition for fewer and fewer rewards. Hyper-competition all around. Now perhaps the competition at the gateway to the elite is particularly important because elites are important, and failure to get in makes them the aspirants powerful disgruntled people, but I think the mechanism is more than just over-production of JDs and MBAs.

    I think it might have started as a well intentioned project to increase the quality of our elites by introducing competition and lowering barriers to entry. And at the the same time, increasing the rewards to winners (incentivizing max effort). Result though is brutal intra-elite fighting. Particularly in times of overall lowered growth.

    • Peter Turchin January 1, 2017 at 7:24 pm

      Agreed, the overproduction of elites developed in parallel with the change in social norms that extolled competition and downplayed cooperation. But these two dynamics may be causally related -- it's not a pure coincidence that the two trends developed in parallel.

  8. Ross Hartshorn December 31, 2016 at 1:43 pm

    One point I haven't seen discussed much is that the number of "powerful" positions is fixed, by law, but not unchangeable. For example, in the 19th century it was arguably more important to be a city councilman or state legislator than a Congressmen, because more actual decisions were being made at the city and state level and the percentage of the economy under the control of the federal government was smaller. If there is less federal largesse to distribute, then there is less power in helping to decide how it is distributed. It is somewhat analogous to why being a U.S. Senator now is more important than being a U.N. functionary; the United Nations may represent a larger domain, but it has a lot less control over that domain than a national government.

    Thus, one would expect that the more centralized control of a region is, the more intra-elite competition there will be, because there are fewer positions which really matter. A modern example of this might be that the transfer of power from national to European Union administration would result in more intra-elite competition. On the other hand, devolving power back down to a lower level would result in more positions that have some power, and less competition for each.

    • Jason January 1, 2017 at 12:49 am

      That's exactly what I was getting at too, Ross. The number of good positions available depends on the power gradient of the society. How much power is centralized vs distributed. The whole Iron Law of Oligarchy developed in recognition that over time, power tends to centralize, so it's not fixed by law and unchangeable for all time. It's not so much inequality between ordinary people and the elite, but among elites.

      Plus it ossifies, in that these enhanced elite positions are then passed out patrilineally, which results in fewer actual positions being open to aspirants.

      The net result is heightened competition for entry and promotion within the elite, with more and more of the victories happening by methods outside the norm, e.g. dirty tricks, patronage, fake news etc.

      This probably happens in all societies, but growth (creating more opportunities), wars (resetting the table), inefficiency (placating the failed aspirants with consolation prizes) keep internal collapse at bay. It's when you have a dynamic of High Inequality, Low Growth, High Efficiency / Lean, No Wars that Elite Competition starts getting out of hand.

      (I say this despite hating wars, but you can't argue with their effect on resetting the table. Hate bribes/corruption too, but things like congressional pork barrels kept congressman feeling important and in-line. Efficiency is also a self evident good, but that means no consolation prizes for failure. Growth may eventually run into limits due to carrying capacity of ecosystem .).

      To me, it resembles a game of musical chairs with too few chairs, and when the music is playing much too fast. As Chuck Prince famously said in the Global Financial Crisis: "As long as the music is playing, you've got to get up and dance." Whether or not dancing is destructive, elites have to keep dancing to keep their chair.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Prince

      • Ross Hartshorn January 1, 2017 at 6:00 pm

        I also hate wars, but I am reminded of Mancur Olson's theory that nations recovering from a major disaster or a major military defeat usually have above-average growth for a few decades. The idea is that when, as with the South in the U.S. after the Civil War or with Germany and Japan after WWII, the elite in society have suffered a setback so severe that their hold on society is disrupted, there will be a period during which they are less able to set government policy in their favor rather than the collective welfare.

        SDT would have a somewhat different explanation of this. I agree with you that rapid growth would be another way to reduce the intra-elite competition; it seems the most likely explanation for the "missing" peak in non-governmental violence in the U.S. in the 1820's that Peter Turchin pointed out earlier.

        • Peter Turchin January 1, 2017 at 7:32 pm

          Historically, rapid growth coupled with equitable redistribution of its gains is typically associated with peaceful and internally stable periods. But you need both (growth and equity).

  9. Ross Hartshorn December 31, 2016 at 1:52 pm

    This idea is kind of half-formed, but I'll put it out there. It seems to me that one of the most important factors in intra-elite competition, is the degree of skill of the frustrated aspirants. If there are lots of people who want to be elite but can't crack the system to get in, that may not be a problem if those frustrated aspirants aren't particularly good at organization, motivation, leadership, etc.

    If, on the other hand, the frustrated aspirants are nearly as good at this sort of thing as those actually in power, and especially if they are better at it than the incumbents (who somehow through tradition or family connections or what-have-you remain on top), then you have a much better chance of the frustrated aspirants being able to kick up trouble.

    Of course, part of being good at leadership is getting the opportunity to practice, and a post-secondary education almost always includes some practice at a more professional set of social skills. But if the people getting spots in power remain better at political organization than the people who don't, it is less likely to result in disruption, I think. It seems that trouble would come when the ruling elite is either not especially good at leading (e.g. they inherited their position or bought their way in with somebody else's money), or they were good at leading in a previous time, and changes in society or technology have changed what skills are necessary for leadership.

    In all these cases, I think "good at leadership" would be a relative term, which is to say the current elite relative to the frustrated aspirants. How you could measure such skill, of course, is the key question about which I have as of yet nothing to say (I did say the idea was half-formed).

  10. steven t johnson January 1, 2017 at 8:10 am

    Although intra-elite competition and inter-elite competition are conceptually distinct, is that true in practice? Is Carlos Slim an intraelite competitor with Jeff Bezos, in the form of rivalry between the New York Times and the Washington Post? If this is interelite competition, how does structural-demographic theory address the issues of how external factors impinge on the cycle? (I'm a little shaky on how interior and exterior are defined in the first place. As for example, was there a cycle for Burgundy?)

    • Peter Turchin January 1, 2017 at 7:34 pm

      Unlike "intra-elite competition", "inter-elite competition" is not a concept in SDT (and like you I would be hard put to think what it could refer to).

  11. edwardturner January 1, 2017 at 12:34 pm

    The supply of power positions in a society is relatively, or even absolutely, inelastic. For example, there are only 435 U.S. Representatives, 100 Senators, and one President.

    This is not quite true. The supply of power positions can be elastic to a point.

    How about the growth in number of CEOs and NGOs and the heads of INGOs over the last 50 years? So-called non-state actors have become powerful as they influence the law-making processes in a variety of ways.

    These big chiefs are positions of power and influence. In many cases, they call the shots and Presidents and Prime Ministers are only the PR guys.

    The US President is not the most powerful person in the world. He doesn't have the highest security clearance in the United States. He is not allowed to know everything.

    The idea the US President is the most powerful man is a claim based on a theory of how the US political system works in idealised sense, and on simple US nationalism.

    The fact that the supply of power positions is elastic – that there has been a flouresence of alternative power structures to the state hierarchy – suggests that wealth can to a degree put off or delay elite competition.

    It is only when the rug is pulled from under the alternative prestigious hierarchies and the state tries to dominate all on its own – that is when problems will begin. Keep the funding going, maintain non-state avenues for prestige and create even more, the fluoresence will continue.

    • edwardturner January 1, 2017 at 12:36 pm

      interested readers might like to read my report for Cliodynamics: Why Has the Number of International Non-Governmental Organizations Exploded since 1960?

      http://escholarship.org/uc/item/97p470sx

  12. Nikhil ns January 1, 2017 at 4:12 pm

    A point made in arthashastra, that fight among princes is more dangerous than fight among commoners. However, I wud like to ask what predictions are u unable to do. There is no real knowledge which doesnt admit what its limitations are, or admits inability to explain something. Even in physics, where humans have gained incredible knowledge, there is much to know. Also, on issue of religion, could one argue that but for christianity & islam world wud have devekped faster as information in math/science wud have gathered pace, exchanged between different lands easily.Thank you.

  13. Peter Turchin January 1, 2017 at 7:43 pm

    Interesting that Arthashastra foresees a major message of the SDT.

    On the role of religion there are a lot of recent books from the cultural evolutionary perspective, including David Wilson, Ara Norenzayan, and Dominic Johnson (I might also mention my own Ultrasociety).

    • Dick Burkhart January 1, 2017 at 11:16 pm

      Even direct democracy is not a cure-all. Here in Washington State, our initiative and referendum process has been corrupted at times by big money interests: First put together a sophisticated campaign around some catch phrases that will have popular support on a topic where the opposition, even if widespread, is likely to be diffuse. Then sneak in some coded language that privileges a wealthy special interest. Then use paid signature gatherers. Then assemble a massive advertising campaign, one that will outspend the likely opposition, maybe even by 10 to 1.

      Certain people get very good at this and quickly learn to sell their services to the highest bidder. The current master of such campaign here is a guy named Tim Eyman, and he has been quite successful. But some companies, like Costco, have done the same thing all by themselves.

      Moral: You need to get "money out of politics" in all ways, and it's a never ending battle until you've eliminated concentrated wealth and power itself.

    • Peter Turchin January 2, 2017 at 10:01 pm

      Stephen Morris: you will find my response in an old post:

      http://peterturchin.com/cliodynamica/the-pipe-dream-of-anarcho-populism/

  14. Jason January 2, 2017 at 9:35 am

    Prof Turchin, is there any data on the Supply of Elite Positions in Historic Societies?

    It doesn't feel instinctively right that it's inelastic, but perhaps there's really the case. It feels slightly more likely to be right to say that it's capped somehow (inelastic as to upside, more elastic as to downside).

    But it seems like the sort of thing you should be able to answer with a History Database. Has there been any attempts to measure this?

    • Peter Turchin January 2, 2017 at 10:06 pm

      In fact, your are in luck, because we provide such statistics for a number of historical societies in Secular Cycles
      http://peterturchin.com/secular-cycles/

      Note, I didn't say it was inelastic. In most cases, it's relatively inelastic, so that the growth in the number of aspirants greatly overmatches the growth in the supply of the positions. Only in few instances the supply is absolutely inelastic (only one POTUS).

  15. Jonathan January 6, 2017 at 1:21 pm

    Deficiencies in the concept of elite competition
    Let's start with the definition of elite: "small proportion of the population that concentrates power in their hands"
    His theory lacks an aspect that must be fundamental before even proceeding in a discussion on the "dynamics" of the elites and is that it is not able to explain in a satisfactory way the origin of the so-called "elites". According to its definition it seems that the elites are rather the manifestation of a particular phenomenon that is "concentration of power"; A phenomenon that manifests itself socially in the form of the so-called "elite", which hereafter I call the ruling class (I think it is a terminology in which we can all agree).
    But if we assume that the dominant classes are only a manifestation of the phenomenon of the concentration of power, our attention must first be fixed in that aspect so we try to break it down into its fundamental parts
    . Apparently the concept of power gives to understand the concept of dominion (some will have other words in mind but as surely they closely resemble the concept of domain I think that it suffices to refer us to this one) and we do not refer to any type of domain but to a domain Of social nature, a social domain. We will now say that this social domain manifests itself in the form of economic and political dominion, I think we will agree on this point.
    Now let us collect the fruits of these arguments. We have a different and more precise definition, which in no way invalidates the original, and we say: The ruling class is that small proportion of the population that concentrates economic and political dominion in their hands. I believe that we will agree that economic dominance is nothing but greater possession of capital and that political dominance is but a major influence on a state structure (the word "state" is used in a modern sense).
    Now we have: the ruling class is that small proportion of the population that concentrates the greatest possession of capital and the greatest influence within a state structure in their hands. The last part of " in your hands" is understood by what we can eliminate it and we have the following:
    The ruling class is that small proportion of the population that concentrates the greatest possession of capital and the greatest influence on a state structure.
    Now the possession of capital depends on its production or of the association with someone who produces capital. And it is revealed to us that the ruling class, apart from having influence in a state structure, needs to produce capital or be associated with someone who produces capital directly or indirectly.
    Thanks to this we see clearly that competition between elites is a competition for economic benefits and influence. Obviously the economic aspect is more significant than the aspect of influence. It follows that a fall in economic profits, ie a fall in capital production (a crisis), would directly or indirectly exacerbate the competition for greater economic benefits, that is, increase the number of aspirants to elitist . The competition of elites is not the cause of the crisis is one of the consequences of the crisis.

    • Jonathan January 6, 2017 at 2:40 pm

      I must make a small correction in my analysis. By capital I wanted to let you understand profit, so the use of that term in this argument is actually inappropriate because I wanted to use the word capital in a Marxist sense.

  16. Federico January 8, 2017 at 5:23 pm

    Hello Dr Turchin, I was wondering if you are familiar with Richard Lachmann's "elite conflict theory". It is a verbal theory, but one that he has successfully used to explain fiscal crises, hegemonic cycles, and the rise of modern capitalist economies. What do you think about it?
    Best,
    Federico

  17. Shaun Bartone February 27, 2017 at 3:47 pm

    I wonder if any of the commentators here have considered that the [neoliberal] cabal now in power in the US (not elsewhere) are not in power to "take power" except for a temporary period. They don't want to run the federal government, they want to destroy it, except for the police state and the military.

    They want to eliminate the EPA, vacate the State Dept and many other Depts, except for a few high-placed cronies, wipe all financial, labour, consumer and environmental regulations off the books; eliminate or reduce to a bare minimum federal health insurance, medicaid, medicare and Social Security, crush public education, privatize everything they can sell, and so on. They are not in power to "govern" but to destroy government. This is all being done with a fairly unified agenda: to free "the market" from any restrictions whatsoever, so that they -- global elites -- can make as much money as possible. It's a cabal of global corporations, militarists, Christian sovereign white supremacists, fossil fuel giants and bankers, and I think there's a high degree of cooperation for the agenda. The revolution is the cabal run by Trump/Bannon who are more extreme and ideological than any previous faction, who have no tolerance for compromise. They have an apocalyptic vision of grinding it all down to a bare minimum police state.

[Sep 28, 2020] Massive Labor Income Losses Worldwide As Recovery Falters

Sep 28, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

The latest data compiled by the International Labour Organization (ILO) sheds new light on COVID-19's "devastating" impact on the labor market reveals a "massive" drop in labor income and hours for workers worldwide.

Global labor income plunged 10.7%, or $3.5 trillion, in the first nine months of 2020, compared with the same period in 2019, ILO's new report found, which is one of the first measurements to quantify the deep economic scarring that has left the global economy paralyzed. The figure excludes income derived by governments to compensate for labor loss during the pandemic.

The report, titled " ILO Monitor: COVID-19 and the world of work. Sixth edition," was published on Wednesday (Sept. 23), notes how global labor hour losses in the first nine months of 2020 have been "considerably larger" than the estimate from the previous report issued in late June.

The report found the largest income loss was primarily in lower-middle income countries, where the labor income losses reached 15.1%.

"Workplace closures continue to disrupt labor markets around the world, leading to working-hour losses that are higher than previously estimated," ILO said.

The United Nations agency said global working-hour losses are expected to remain elevated in 3Q20, at 12.1%, or equivalent to 345 million full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs (based on a 48-hour working week). The revised downside projections for 4Q20 suggest a more pessimistic outlook for the global economy is ahead .

ILO's baseline scenario, for working-hour losses, in the fourth quarter, is -8.6%. The most optimistic is +5.7%, while the most pessimistic is -18%.

https://lockerdome.com/lad/13084989113709670?pubid=ld-dfp-ad-13084989113709670-0&pubo=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.zerohedge.com&rid=www.zerohedge.com&width=890

"The latest data confirm that working-hour losses are reflected in higher levels of unemployment and inactivity, with inactivity increasing to a greater extent than unemployment. Rising inactivity is a notable feature of the current job crisis calling for strong policy attention. The decline in employment numbers has generally been greater for women than for men," ILO said.

The driver behind increased working-hour losses in developing and emerging economies is that informal employment continues to be affected by strict public health orders to mitigate the virus spread.

ILO said there's a "clear correlation" between how much fiscal stimulus a country does and working-hour losses. For example, more stimulus has offset a reduction in working hours. Many of these stimulus packages have been observed in high-income countries, as emerging and developing economies had limited borrowing capacity to finance such measures.

ILO Director-General Guy Ryder warned about a "huge fiscal stimulus gap," and the dire need for governments to unleash more fiscal stimulus to mitigate additional stresses in the global labor market.

"Just as we need to redouble our efforts to beat the virus, so we need to act urgently and at scale to overcome its economic, social, and employment impacts. That includes sustaining support for jobs, businesses, and incomes," Ryder said in a statement.

The report debuted as the US entered the 53rd day of the fiscal cliff. As discussed extensively in late July in" ' Look Out Below': Why The Economy Is About To Fly Off A Fiscal Cliff " , a lapse in stimulus has the risk in reversing the economic recovery.

A record of 25% of all personal income in the US is derived from the government via stimulus programs. Without stimulus, the economy craters.

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With ILO's report noting more labor market stress is ahead for the final quarter of the year, it all suggests there will be no "V"- shaped recovery in 2H20.

And this could be the moment where Wall Street realizes the shape of the recovery was never a "V," resulting in the next wave down in stocks.


[Sep 22, 2020] Why does neoclassical economics produce ponzi schemes of inflated asset prices?

Sep 22, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Sound of the Suburbs , 54 minutes ago

Why does neoclassical economics produce ponzi schemes of inflated asset prices?

  1. It makes you think you are creating wealth by inflating asset prices
  2. Bank credit flows into inflating asset prices, debt rises faster than GDP and you eventually get a financial crisis.
  3. No one notices the private debt building up in the economy as neoclassical economics doesn't consider debt.

This economics still has its 1920s problems. What is the fundamental flaw in the free market theory of neoclassical economics? The University of Chicago worked that out in the 1930s after last time. Banks can inflate asset prices with the money they create from bank loans.

https://www.bankofengland.co.uk/-/media/boe/files/quarterly-bulletin/2014/money-creation-in-the-modern-economy.pdf

Henry Simons and Irving Fisher supported the Chicago Plan to take away the bankers ability to create money.

"Simons envisioned banks that would have a choice of two types of holdings: long-term bonds and cash. Simultaneously, they would hold increased reserves, up to 100%. Simons saw this as beneficial in that its ultimate consequences would be the prevention of "bank-financed inflation of securities and real estate" through the leveraged creation of secondary forms of money."

https://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Henry_Calvert_Simons

The IMF re-visited the Chicago plan after 2008.

https://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/wp/2012/wp12202.pdf

It looks like they did have some idea what the problem was.At the end of the 1920s, the US was a ponzi scheme of inflated asset prices. The use of neoclassical economics and the belief in free markets, made them think that inflated asset prices represented real wealth accumulation.

1929 – Wakey, wakey time. Why did it cause the US financial system to collapse in 1929? Bankers get to create money out of nothing, through bank loans, and get to charge interest on it.

https://www.bankofengland.co.uk/-/media/boe/files/quarterly-bulletin/2014/money-creation-in-the-modern-economy.pdf

What could possibly go wrong?

Bankers do need to ensure the vast majority of that money gets paid back, and this is where they get into serious trouble.

Banking requires prudent lending.

If someone can't repay a loan, they need to repossess that asset and sell it to recoup that money. If they use bank loans to inflate asset prices they get into a world of trouble when those asset prices collapse.

As the real estate and stock market collapsed the banks became insolvent as their assets didn't cover their liabilities.

They could no longer repossess and sell those assets to cover the outstanding loans and they do need to get most of the money they lend out back again to balance their books.

The banks become insolvent and collapsed, along with the US economy.

When banks have been lending to inflate asset prices the financial system is in a precarious state and can easily collapse.

What was the ponzi scheme of inflated asset prices that collapsed in Japan in 1991?

Japanese real estate.

They avoided a Great Depression by saving the banks.

They killed growth for the next 30 years by leaving the debt in place.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8YTyJzmiHGk

Debt repayments to banks destroy money, this is the problem.

https://www.bankofengland.co.uk/-/media/boe/files/quarterly-bulletin/2014/money-creation-in-the-modern-economy.pdf

What was the ponzi scheme of inflated asset prices that collapsed in 2008?

"It's nearly $14 trillion pyramid of super leveraged toxic assets was built on the back of $1.4 trillion of US sub-prime loans, and dispersed throughout the world" All the Presidents Bankers, Nomi Prins.

They avoided a Great Depression by saving the banks.

They left Western economies struggling by leaving the debt in place, just like Japan.

It's not as bad as Japan as we didn't let asset prices crash in the West, but it is this problem has made our economies so sluggish since 2008.

In 2020, the world is a ponzi scheme of inflated asset prices.

The use of neoclassical economics and the belief in free markets, made them think that inflated asset prices represented real wealth accumulation.

The central banks have to keep pumping in liquidity to stop all the ponzi schemes collapsing.

If the ponzi schemes collapse, this feeds back into the financial system when bankers have been lending to inflate asset prices.


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Sound of the Suburbs , 1 hour ago

Bankers make the most money when they are driving your economy towards a financial crisis.

You don't want to leave them to their own devices.

On a BBC documentary, comparing 1929 to 2008, it said the last time US bankers made as much money as they did before 2008 was in the 1920s.

Bankers make the most money when they are driving your economy into a financial crisis.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vAStZJCKmbU&list=PLmtuEaMvhDZZQLxg24CAiFgZYldtoCR-R&index=6

At 18 mins.

The bankers loaded the US economy up with their debt products until they got financial crises in 1929 and 2008.

As you head towards the financial crisis, the economy booms due to the money creation of bank loans.

https://www.bankofengland.co.uk/-/media/boe/files/quarterly-bulletin/2014/money-creation-in-the-modern-economy.pdf

The financial crisis appears to come out of a clear blue sky when you use an economics that doesn't consider debt.

The economics of globalisation has always had an Achilles' heel.

The 1920s roared with debt based consumption and speculation until it all tipped over into the debt deflation of the Great Depression. No one realised the problems that were building up in the economy as they used an economics that doesn't look at debt, neoclassical economics.

Not considering private debt is the Achilles' heel of neoclassical economics.

Sound of the Suburbs , 1 hour ago

Come on.

Wakey, wakey.

You are just repeating 1920s mistakes.

The Americans wrapped a new ideology, neoliberalism, around 1920s economics and repeated the economic mistakes of the 1920s.

Policymakers couldn't see what Glass-Steagall did, as they thought banks were financial intermediaries.

It separates the money creation side of banking from the investment side of banking, and stops bankers producing securities; they buy themselves with money they create out of nothing.

https://www.bankofengland.co.uk/-/media/boe/files/quarterly-bulletin/2014/money-creation-in-the-modern-economy.pdf

(There are intermediaries involved so it's not obvious, but this is effectively what is happening)

The whole thing turns into a ponzi scheme and you get a 1929 or 2008 type event.

1929 and 2008 look so similar because they are.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vAStZJCKmbU&list=PLmtuEaMvhDZZQLxg24CAiFgZYldtoCR-R&index=6

At 18 mins.

1929 and 2008 -- Minsky Moments, the financial crises where debt has over whelmed the economy.

They did save the banks this time, which avoided another Great Depression.

They left the debt in place, which caused a balance sheet recession.

As a CEO, I can use the company's money to do share buybacks, to boost the share price; get my bonus and top dollar for my shares.

Share buybacks were found to be a cause of the 1929 crash and made illegal in the 1930s.

What lifted US stocks to 1929 levels in 1929?

Margin lending and share buybacks.

What lifted US stocks to 1929 levels in 2019?

Margin lending and share buybacks.

A former US congressman has been looking at the data.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7zu3SgXx3q4

"The Great Crash 1929" John Kenneth Galbraith

"By early 1929, loans from these non-banking sources were approximately equal to those from the banks. Later they became much greater. The Federal Reserve Authorities took it for granted that they had no influence over these funds"

He's talking about "shadow banking".

They thought leverage was great before 1929; they saw what happened when it worked in reverse after 1929.

Leverage acts like a multiplier.

It multiplies profits on the way up.

It multiplies losses on the way down.

Today's bankers seem to have learnt something from past mistakes.

They took the multiplied profits on the way up.

Taxpayers picked up the multiplied losses on the way down.

Mariner Eccles, FED chair 1934 -- 48, observed what the capital accumulation of neoclassical economics did to the US economy in the 1920s.

"a giant suction pump had by 1929 to 1930 drawn into a few hands an increasing proportion of currently produced wealth. This served then as capital accumulations. But by taking purchasing power out of the hands of mass consumers, the savers denied themselves the kind of effective demand for their products which would justify reinvestment of the capital accumulation in new plants. In consequence as in a poker game where the chips were concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, the other fellows could stay in the game only by borrowing. When the credit ran out, the game stopped"

The problem; wealth concentrates until the system collapses.

"The other fellows could stay in the game only by borrowing." Mariner Eccles, FED chair 1934 -- 48

Your wages aren't high enough, have a Payday loan.

You need a house, have a sub-prime mortgage.

You need a car, have a sub-prime auto loan.

You need a good education, have a student loan.

Still not getting by?

Load up on credit cards.

"When the credit ran out, the game stopped" Mariner Eccles, FED chair 1934 -- 48

...... etc .....

x_Maurizio , 1 hour ago

DISAGREE ON EVERY SINGLE WORD, in particular with this:

rules/regulations/capital requirements have infected the global banking system and rendered it a harvesting operation for retail and a derivatives rule/regulation/capital requirment evasion device for the pursuit of profit

absolutely false.

Banking system is in the 4th part of a cycle that they have created !

  1. The first part has been capital harvesting (1970-1980)
  2. The second part has been deregulation and hunt for stellar return on investment
  3. The third part is financialisation and plunder of real economy
  4. The fourth part is the destruction of real economy through debt, deflation, extreme financial activity seeking for Yields. The banks have been the fortresses of globalisation. Commercial banking has been absorbed by investment banking. In this deflationary environment Commercial Banking has practice NO ROI.

You want to see the Banks working again? Reintroduce the Glass Steagall and separate again investment and commercial banking. Repeal all what has been done between 1987 and 1999. THAT will stop globalisation, that will stop the slow bleeding-to-death of westerne economies, that will save commercial banking and our capitalistic societies.

Pumpkin , 1 hour ago

Fake money, fake banks. All lies die in the end.

[Sep 21, 2020] Trump's Attack on Social Security

Sep 21, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

AntiSpin , Sep 20 2020 17:10 utc | 14

Trump's Attack on Social Security
Has Started!

For eight-and-a-half decades, most Republican legislators (and some Democrats) have been trying to get rid of Social Security .

The first step in Trump's assault on Social Security's funding took effect Sept. 1st.

On Trump's orders, the IRS ordered corporations to stop withholding Social Security contributions from paychecks, through the end of the year.

Speaking on Fox Business recently, Trump advisor Larry Kudlow said that later this year Trump will order the IRS to continue the deferral indefinitely.

Social Security's chief actuary wrote that if Social Security is defunded, some benefits will be reduced next year, and that benefits will disappear entirely by the end of 2023.

If you are, or if you know someone on Social Security, please pass the word!

[Sep 20, 2020] The Criminal Prosecution Of Boeing Executives Should Begin

Sep 20, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

play_arrow


jayman21 , 2 hours ago

The invisible hand will do its job.

WedgeMan , 1 hour ago

Afraid not, it is too busy giving hand jobs.

Zero-Hegemon , 34 minutes ago

Invisible Hand jobs?

[Sep 20, 2020] David Stockman- How The Stock Market Got To Be So Out Of Touch With Reality -

Sep 20, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

David Stockman: How The Stock Market Got To Be So Out Of Touch With Reality by Tyler Durden Sat, 09/19/2020 - 19:30 Twitter Facebook Reddit Email Print

Via InternationalMan.com,

International Man : Thanks to the shutdowns, economic activity on main street is at a standstill. Government, corporate, and personal debt is skyrocketing. Yet, the stock market is in a mania. Has the stock market become out of touch with reality, and if so, what are the consequences of that?

David Stockman : Both ends of the Acela Corridor have lost their marbles. This year, Uncle Sam borrowed $4 trillion in six months, the Fed printed $3 trillion in three months, and Wall Street drove the S&P 500 to 52X reported LTM earnings in the context of a deeper economic plunge than occurred in the worst quarter of the 1930s.

Therefore, Washington has become disconnected from any semblance of fidelity to sound money and fiscal rectitude, while Wall Street has turned into an outright casino, valuing stocks based on endless Fed liquidity injections and the delusion that momentum chasing is an investment strategy.

With respect to the rampant folly in the Imperial City, Treasury Secretary Stevie Mnuchin has always reminded us of Alfred E. Neuman of "Me Worry?" fame at Mad Magazine. Recently, he more than earned that moniker when, in the context of the current monetary and fiscal lunacy, he proclaimed that, "Now is not the time to worry about shrinking the deficit or shrinking the Fed balance sheet."

That was the so-called Conservative Party speaking, and it is a shrill reminder that the Trumpified GOP has gone utterly AWOL when it comes to its true job in American democracy, namely, resisting the Government Party (Dems) and its affinity for feeding the Leviathan on the Potomac.

That is to say, according to even the Keynesian deficit apologists at the CBO, Uncle Sam will spend $6.6 trillion during the current fiscal year (FY 2020) while collecting only $3.3 trillion in revenue. That's Banana Republic stuff -- borrowing 50% of every dollar spent.

Yet the advisory ranks of the potentially incoming Kamala Harris regency are even worse. They are loaded with "deficits don't matter" ideologues and MMT crackpots who noisily argue that massive monetization of the public debt is not just a virtue, but utterly imperative.

Needless to say, this bipartisan commitment to all-in stimulus is financial catnip to the Wall Street gamblers because they are actually capitalizing into today's nosebleed stock prices, not the present drastically impaired economy on Main Street but a pro forma simulacrum of future prosperity based on the delusional presumption that massive debt and money-pumping actually create economic growth and wealth.

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The fact is, industrial production in August posted at a level first achieved in March 2006, and manufacturing output weighed in at levels originally attained in December 2004. So the misbegotten lockdowns and COVID-hysteria have cost the US economy 14–16 years of industrial production growth, yet this massive setback was not caused by some mysterious Keynesian-style faltering of "demand" that can allegedly be compensated for by new Fed credits plucked from thin air.

To the contrary, the current depression is the result of the visible shutdown and quarantine orders of the state, which are likely to linger for months to come or even intensify as the fall-winter flu season arrives. Undoubtedly, the Virus Patrol will spur further outbreaks of public fear based on "bad numbers" from the CDC, which are actually an agglomeration of cases and deaths from normal influenza, pneumonia, and a myriad of life-threatening comorbidities, not pure cases of the COVID alone.

But beguiled by "stimulus" and hopium, Wall Street completely ignores the contradiction between over-the-top demand stimulus and what amounts to supply-side contraction owing to economic martial law.

So, at 3400 on the S&P 500, the current LTM price-to-earnings ratio ranges between 52.1 times the earnings CEOs and CFOs certify on penalty of jail time ($65 per share) or 27 times the Wall Street brush-stroked and curated version ($125 per share), from which all asset write-offs, restructuring charges, and other one-timers/mistakes have been finessed out.

Of course, these deleted GAAP charges reflect the consumption of real corporate resources, such as purchase price goodwill that gets written off when a merger or acquisition goes sour, or the write-down of investments in factories, warehouses, and stores that get closed. As such, they absolutely do diminish company resources and shareholder net worth over time.

But for decades now, Wall Street has so relentlessly and assiduously ripped anything that smells like a "one-timer" out of company earnings filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that it no longer even knows what GAAP earnings actually are.

And it pretends that these discarded debits (and credits) to income are simply lumpy things that even out in the wash over time. They do not.

If ex-items reporting was merely a neutral smoothing mechanism, reported GAAP earnings and "operating earnings" would be equal when aggregated over several years, or even a full business cycle.

Yet during the last 100 quarters, there have been essentially zero instances in which reported GAAP earnings exceeded "operating income."

So, in aggregate terms, several trillions of corporate write-downs and losses have been swept under the rug.

During the second quarter of 2020, for example, GAAP earnings reported to the SEC totaled $145.8 billion for the S&P 500 companies, while the ex-items earnings curated by the street posted at $222.3 billion. That amounts to the deletion of nearly $77 billion of write-downs and mistakes, and it inflated the aggregate earnings number by more than 52%.

The game is all about goosing the earnings number in order to minimize the apparent price-to-earnings multiple, thereby supporting the fiction that stocks are reasonably valued and that nary a bubble is to be found, at least in the broad market represented by the S&P 500.

Still, valuing the market at 52 times trailing-12-month earnings during the present parlous moment in time -- or even 27 times if you want to give the financial engineering jockeys in the C-suites a hall-pass for $77 billion of mistakes and losses this quarter alone -- is nothing short of nuts.

Yet, the gamblers in the casino hardly know it.

Wall Street has already decided that current-year results don't matter a whit: the nosebleed-level trailing P/E multiples currently being racked up are simply being shoved into the memory hole on the presumption that the sell side's evergreen hockey sticks will come true about four quarters into the future, and if they don't, a heavy dose of ex-items bark-stripping will gussy up actual earnings when they come in.

Still, if you think that a forward P/E multiple of, say, 17.5 times is just fine and that flushing the one-timers is OK, then you still need $193 per share of operating earnings by the second quarter of 2021 to justify today's index level.

Then again, a 54% gain in operating earnings over the next four quarters ($193 per share in the second quarter of 2021 versus $125 per share in the second quarter of 2020) is not simply a tall order; it's downright delusional.

International Man : What could derail the Fed's ability to pump up the stock market casino with all this easy money? They simultaneously want zero interest rates and more inflation. It seems something has to give.

David Stockman : Yes, what's going to "give" sooner or later is the entire house of monetary cards erected by the Fed and its fellow-traveling global central banks over the last several decades. What they are doing is based on the triple error that inflation is too low, that deeply repressed and falsified interest rates fuel real growth, and that private savers are a hindrance to optimal economic function and need to be euthanized via confiscation of the real (after-inflation) value of their capital.

In the first place, as Paul Volcker pointedly reminded, there is nothing in the pre-1990 textbooks that says 2.00% inflation is desirable and is to be pursued with fanatical intensity -- even if actual inflation comes in only a few basis points below the magic target.

Indeed, if the 2% target is zealously pursued via prolonged pegging of interest rates to the zero bound and the massive purchase of bonds and other securities, the result is actually inimical to economic growth and sustainable gains in real wealth.

That's because falsified interest rates and inflated financial asset values lead to massive malinvestment via rampant financial engineering in the corporate sector and reckless borrowing to fund transfer payments and economic waste in the public sector.

Nor is that a mere theoretical possibility. The rolling 10-year real GDP growth rate has now fallen to just 1.5% per annum, or barely one-third of the 3–4% per year rolling averages which prevailed during the heyday of reasonably sound money and fiscal rectitude prior to 1971.

Beyond that, there really hasn't been any inflation shortfall from the 2% target, unless measured by the Fed's flakey yardstick called the PCE deflator. For instance, since December 1996, when Greenspan uttered his irrational exuberance warning, the CPI is up by 2.09% per annum and the more stable 16% trimmed-mean CPI is up by 2.12% per annum.

That hardly constitutes a "shortfall" from target, but the Eccles Building money-printers make the claim anyway because the PCE deflator gained slightly less over that 23 year period, averaging an increase of 1.71 per annum.

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The truth is, no one except groupthink besotted central bankers would think that a mere 30 basis point shortfall over more than two decades justifies the massive financial fraud of pumping trillions of fiat credit into the financial system.

That's especially the case because the PCE deflator drastically underweights shelter costs and doesn't even measure the purchasing power of money against a fixed basket of goods and services over time, anyway. Instead, it is actually a tool of GDP accounting that reflects the changing mix of goods and services supplied to the household sector.

That is to say, if someone chooses to live in a tepee and spend nearly all of their paycheck on computers, TVs, and other high-tech gadgets that have been rapidly falling in price, that doesn't improve the exchange value of the dollar wages they earn; it just means that their tepee may be getting crowded with tech gadgets.

The same is true of the aggregate level. Just because the mix of goods and services changes over time, that doesn't miraculously rescue the purchasing power of the dollar from the ravages of inflation .

Nor does it alleviate the savaging of lower- and middle-class living standards that are the direct product of the Fed's misguided commitment to inflation targeting. In fact, during that same 23-year period, the annual rate of increase for professional services, shelter, food away from home, medical services, and education expense has been 2.6%, 2.7%, 2.8%, 3.5%, and 4.5%, respectively.

So once you set aside the foolishness of 2% inflation targeting and the Fed's sawed-off inflation measuring stick (the PCE deflator), what you really have is growth stunting monetary madness. There is no other way to explain a Fed balance sheet that went from $4.2 trillion on March 4 this year to $7.2 trillion by June 10.

After all, the first $3 trillion of Fed balance sheet took nearly 100 years to generate, from its opening in 1914 to breaching the $3 trillion marker for the first time in March 2013. That the Fed has now become a monetary doomsday machine, therefore, is no longer in doubt.

* * *

The truth is, we're on the cusp of a economic crisis that could eclipse anything we've seen before. And most people won't be prepared for what's coming. That's exactly why bestselling author Doug Casey and his team just released a free report with all the details on how to survive an economic collapse. Click here to download the PDF now.


[Sep 20, 2020] Newton, Physics, The Market Bubble -

Sep 20, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Newton, Physics, & The Market Bubble by Tyler Durden Sat, 09/19/2020 - 20:30 Twitter Facebook Reddit Email Print

Authored by Lance Roberts via RealInvestmentAdvice.com,

I have previously discussed the importance of understanding how "physics" plays a crucial role in the stock market. As Sir Issac Newton once discovered, "what goes up, must come down."

Andy Kessler, via the Wall Street Journa l, recently discussed a similar point with respect to the momentum in stock prices. To wit:

"Does this sound familiar: Smart guy owns stock in March at $200, sells it in June at around $600, but then buys it back in July and August for between $900 and $1,000. By September it's back at $200. Ouch. Tesla this year? Yahoo in 2000? Nope. That was Sir Isaac Newton getting pulled into the great momentum trade of the South Sea Co., which cratered 300 years ago this month. He lost the equivalent of more than $3 million today. Newton, whose second law of motion is about the momentum of a body equaling the force acting on it, didn't know that works for stocks too."

To understand what happened to the South Sea Corporation, you need a bit of history.

The South Sea History

In 1720, in return for a loan of £7 million to finance the war against France, the House of Lords passed the South Sea Bill, which allowed the South Sea Company a monopoly in trade with South America.

England was already a financial disaster and was struggling to finance its war with France. As debts mounted, England needed a solution to stay afloat. The scheme was that in exchange for exclusive trading rights, the South Sea Company would underwrite the English National Debt. At that time, the debt stood at £30 million and carried a 5% interest coupon from the Government. The South Sea company converted the Government debt into its own shares. They would collect the interest from the Government and then pass it on to their shareholders.

Interesting Absurdities

At the time, England was in the midst of rampant market speculation. As soon as the South Sea Company concluded its deal with Parliament, the shares surged to more than 10 times their value. As South Sea Company shares bubbled up to incredible new heights, numerous other joint-stock companies IPO'd to take advantage of the booming investor demand for speculative investments.

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Many of these new companies made outrageous, and often fraudulent, claims about their business ventures for the purpose of raising capital and boosting share prices. Here are some examples of these companies' business proposals (History House, 1997):

A Speculative Mania

However, in the midst of the "mania," things like valuation, revenue, or even viable business models didn't matter. It was the "Fear Of Missing Out," which sucked investors into the fray without regard for the underlying risk.

Though South Sea Company shares were skyrocketing, the company's profitability was mediocre at best, despite abundant promises of future growth by company directors.

The eventual selloff in Company shares was exacerbated by a previous plan of lending investors money to buy its shares. This "margin loan," meant that many shareholders had to sell their shares to cover the plan's first installment of payments.

As South Sea Company and other "bubble " company share prices imploded, speculators who had purchased shares on credit went bankrupt. The popping of the South Sea Bubble then resulted in a contagion that spread across Europe.

Newton's Folly

Sir Issac Newton, the brilliant mathematician, was an early investor in South Sea Corporation. Newton quickly made a lot of money and recognized the early stages of a speculative mania. Knowing that it would eventually end badly, he liquidated his stake at a large profit.

However, after he exited, South Sea stock experienced one of the most legendary rises in history. As the bubble kept inflating, Newton allowed his emotions to overtake his previous logic and he jumped back into the shares. Unfortunately, it was near the peak.

It is noteworthy that once Newton decided to go back into South Sea stock, he moved essentially all his financial assets into it. In general, Newton was intimately familiar with commodities and finance. As Master of the Mint, his post required him to make many decisions that depended on market prices and conditions.

The story of Newton's losses in the South Sea Bubble has become one of the most famous in popular finance literature. While surveying his losses, Newton allegedly said that he could "calculate the motions of the heavenly bodies, but not the madness of people."

For More On The History Of Speculative Bubbles: "Devil Take The Hindmost."

History Never Repeats, But It Rhymes

Throughout financial history, markets have evolved from one speculative "bubble," to bust, to the next with each one being believed "it was different this time."

The slides below are from a presentation I made to a large mutual fund company.

What we some common denominators between all previous bubbles and now.

The table below shows a listing of assets classes that have experienced bubbles throughout history, with the ones related to the current environment highlighted in yellow.

It is not hard to see the similarities between today and the previous market bubbles in history. Investors are currently chasing "new technology" stocks from Zoom to Tesla, piling into speculative call options, and piling into leverage. What could possibly go wrong?

Oh, by the way, the slides above are from a 2008 presentation just one month before the Lehman crisis.

The point here is that speculative cycles are always the same.

The Speculative Cycle

Charles Kindleberger suggested that speculative manias typically commence with a "displacement" which excites speculative interest. The displacement may come from either an entirely new object of investment (IPO) or from increased profitability of established investments.

The speculation is then reinforced by a "positive feedback" loop from rising prices. which ultimately induces "inexperienced investors" to enter the market. As the positive feedback loop continues, and the "euphoria" increases, retail investors then begin to "leverage" their risk in the market as "rationality" weakens.

The full cycle is shown below.

During the course of the mania, speculation becomes more diffused and spreads to different asset classes. New companies are floated to take advantage of the euphoria, and investors leverage their gains using derivatives, stock loans, and leveraged instruments.

As the mania leads to complacency, fraud and manipulation enter the market place. Eventually, the market crashes and speculators are wiped out. The Government and Regulators react by passing new laws and legislations to ensure the previous events never happen again.

The Latest Mania

Let's go back to Andy for a moment:

"When bull markets get going, investors come out of the woodwork to pile in. These momentum investors -- I call them momos -- figure if a stock is going up, it will keep going up. But usually, there is some source of hot air inflating stocks: either a structural anomaly that fools investors into thinking ever-rising stock prices are real or a source of capital that buys, buys, buys -- proverbial 'dumb money.' Think of it as a giant fireplace bellows, an accordion-like contraption that pumps in fresh oxygen to keep flames growing." – Andy Kessler

We have seen these manias repeated throughout history.

In 2020?

What about today? Look back at the chart of the South Sea Company above. Now, the one below.

See any similarities.

Yes, that's Tesla

However, you can't solely blame the Federal Reserve as noted by Andy:

"Most simply blame the Federal Reserve -- especially today, with its zero-interest-rate policy -- for pumping the hot air that gets the momos going. Fair enough, but that's only part of the story. Long market runs have always allured investors who figure they're smart to jump in, even if it's late.

Everyone forgets the adage, 'Don't mistake brains for a bull market.'"

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As stated, while no two financial manias are ever alike, the end results are always the same.

Are there any similarities in today's market? You decide.

"From SPACs, or special purpose acquisition companies, which are modern-day blind pools that often don't end well. Today's momos also chase stock splits, which mean nothing for a company's actual value. Same for a new listing in indexes like the S&P 500. Isaac Newton could explain the math." – Andy Kessler

You get the idea. But one of the tell-tale indications is the speculative chase of "zombie" companies which are only still alive primarily due to the Federal Reserve's interventions.

Fixing The Cause Of The Crash

Historically, all market crashes have been the result of things unrelated to valuation levels. Issues such as liquidity, government actions, monetary policy mistakes, recessions, or inflationary spikes are the culprits that trigger the "reversion in sentiment."

Importantly, the "bubbles" and "busts" are never the same.

I previously quoted Bob Bronson on this point:

"It can be most reasonably assumed that markets are efficient enough that every bubble is significantly different than the previous one. A new bubble will always be different from the previous one(s). Such is since investors will only bid prices to extreme overvaluation levels if they are sure it is not repeating what led to the previous bubbles. Comparing the current extreme overvaluation to the dotcom is intellectually silly.

I would argue that when comparisons to previous bubbles become most popular, it's a reliable timing marker of the top in a current bubble. As an analogy, no matter how thoroughly a fatal car crash is studied, there will still be other fatal car crashes. Such is true even if we avoid all previous accident-causing mistakes."

Comparing the current market to any previous period in the market is rather pointless. The current market is not like 1995, 1999, or 2007? Valuations, economics, drivers, etc. are all different from cycle to the next.

Most importantly, however, the financial markets always adapt to the cause of the previous "fatal crash."

Unfortunately, that adaptation won't prevent the next one.

Yes, this time is different.

"Like all bubbles, it ends when the money runs out." – Andy Kessler


[Sep 16, 2020] Harvard And Yale Under Continued Fire For Discrimination Against White, Asian Applicants

Sep 16, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Harvard and Yale are set to respond this week to a series of legal challenges accusing them of racial bias against Asian and White applicants during the admissions process, according to Bloomberg .

Protesters at a media conference held by Harvard lawyers following closing arguments in the Harvard-admissions trial, in November 2018 in Boston (via chronicle.com )

The universities will respond to two of those challenges to 'race-conscious admissions,' while two more make their way through the legal system against other universities. The controversy could make it all the way to the Supreme Court, which ruled over 40 years ago in its Bakke decision that race is a valid factor in creating a diverse student body.

While the decision has been reaffirmed over the years, it's possible that the 'conservative' majority Supreme Court will strike Bakke down .

"Sandra Day O'Connor basically opined that we could have another 20 years or 25 years of affirmative action programs, but that they would not go on forever," said conservative Linda Chavez, chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity. " And yet we do see them going on forever ," she added.

O'Connor speculated in 2003 that the race-based consideration wouldn't go on 'forever.' 17-years later, it's still happening.

" We're now talking about kids who are getting into college on the basis of some racial or ethnic preference who are the grandchildren of people who first got those preferences. "

The Justice Department has threatened to sue Yale unless it agrees to stop considering race . " Unlawfully dividing Americans into racial and ethnic blocs fosters stereotypes, bitterness, and division ," the government wrote to the university in August. Yale, which has vowed to "vigorously defend" a process "endorsed repeatedly by the Supreme Court," is due to respond this week.

On Wednesday, Harvard goes before a federal appeals court over a case that it engages in "racial balancing" by holding Asian-American applicants to a higher standard than other minority groups. Harvard denies discriminating and won the case in federal district court last fall. - Bloomberg

The Harvard suit and two other pending lawsuitsagainst the University of North Carolin and the University of Texas were brought by activist Edward Blum - a longtime foe of affirmative action and founder of Students for Fair Admissions. The Justice Department filed in the Harvard case in support of the group , claiming that the school's admissions process is " infected with racial bias ."

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Making a review by the Supreme Court even more likely is that there are now four challenges in four states against both public and private universities, meaning that conflicting rulings from different appeals courts would call for the higher court's opinion.

"That's what they want," said Audrey Anderson, former general counsel at Vanderbilt University. "They want it to go to the Supreme Court because the justices who upheld affirmative action are not on the court anymore."

Amid the flurry of court papers, a July study by the Education Trust , which advocates for educational opportunities for disadvantaged students, found that African Americans and Latinos continue to be underrepresented at 101 of the country's top public universities and that their representation has even regressed in many instances over the past two decades.

"I know that there's folks who are against affirmative action, of all backgrounds," who believe "that we are there, and it's not needed, and maybe there's even some over-representation or over-emphasis on race that we need to correct for," said Tiffany Jones , senior director of education policy at the Trust. That perception, she said, "is contradicted by the data and the research and the information about who has access to higher education." - Bloomberg

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Last year, US District Judge Allison Burroughs found that Harvard didn't set quotas or give undue consideration to race when reviewing applicants, and instead weighed race as one of over 200 factors which includes socioeconomic background, areas of study and letters of recommendation, according to the report.

Blum, on the other hand, says that the evidence in the Harvard case "compellingly proved Harvard's systematic discrimination against Asian-American applicants," and that "We assert the district court erred in its analysis of this evidence and, surprisingly, virtually ignored Harvard's own internal studies" that he says showed bias.

[Sep 14, 2020] Gundlach Says High-Yield Bond Defaults May Almost Double - Bloomberg

Sep 14, 2020 | www.bloomberg.com

High-yield bond default rates may double as companies struggle with a protracted economic downturn even as the Federal Reserve props up valuations, said Jeffrey Gundlach.

The investment grade corporate debt market has skewed toward lower quality BBB- rated debt, but if just 50% of that were to be downgraded it could fuel a near doubling of the high-yield market, Gundlach said Tuesday on a webcast for his firm's flagship DoubleLine Total Return Bond Fund .

Gundlach's views reflect broad skepticism about the market's connection to economic realities. He criticized the Fed's emergency actions as buoying asset prices and spurring unsustainable corporate borrowing binges.

Risk assets such as equities and high yield credit markets are responding to this support, and government stimulus, disproportionately as the Covid-19 pandemic remains a threat to the recovery, he said.

"It's foolhardy to believe that one can have this kind of a shock to an economy and it just gets healed through a one-shot deal" from the Treasury, he said.

Gundlach pointed out that the global GDP forecast is -3.9%, whereas the U.S. lags at -5% despite the country's response to the Covid-19 crisis being "one of the highest in the world."

Highlighting the effect of the weekly $600 stimulus checks, he called it a distortion of the personal-income spending picture akin to the Fed's effect on the markets.

"This is a large incentive to stay on public assistance," Gundlach said, noting that benefit payments have exceeded many workers' regular income.

Gundlach also snubbed one of the market's favorite trades on a U.S. recovery, saying he's "betting against" the inflation-linked bond market. TIPS products have seen some of the strongest monthly inflows in four years, and market-implied expectations for inflation have touched a 2020 high. Gundlach repeated that the impact of the pandemic is deflationary.

[Sep 12, 2020] Nineteen years since 9/11 Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman attempt to Infects Readers With 9/11 Dementia

Sep 12, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

psychohistorian , Sep 11 2020 16:05 utc | 2

The price for the worst tweet of the year goes to Paul Krugman .


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In the real world the U.S. reacted to 9/11 by doing extremely bad and ridiculous things as well as this :

In the days, weeks, and months immediately following the 9/11 attacks, Arab-Americans, South Asian-Americans, Muslim-Americans, and Sikh-Americans were the targets of widespread hate violence. Many of the perpetrators of these acts of hate violence claimed they were acting patriotically by retaliating against those responsible for 9/11.
...
Just after September 11, numerous Arabs, Muslims, and individuals perceived to be Arab or Muslim were assaulted, and some killed, by individuals who believed they were responsible for or connected to the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. The first backlash killing occurred four days after September 11.

Balbir Singh Sodhi was shot to death on September 15 as he was planting flowers outside his Chevron gas station. The man who shot Sodhi, Frank Roque, had told an employee of an Applebee's restaurant that he was "going to go out and shoot some towel heads." Roque mistakenly thought Sodhi was Arab because Sodhi, an immigrant from India, had a beard and wore a turban as part of his Sikh faith. After shooting Sodhi, Roque drove to a Mobil gas station a few miles away and shot at a Lebanese-American clerk. He then drove to a home he once owned and shot and almost hit an Afghani man who was coming out the front door. When he was arrested two hours later, Roque shouted, "I stand for America all the way."

The next two killings were committed by a man named Mark Stroman. On September 15, 2001, Stroman shot and killed Waquar Hassan, an immigrant from Pakistan, at Hassan's grocery store in Dallas, Texas. On October 4, 2001, Stroman shot and killed Vasudev Patel, an immigrant from India and a naturalized U.S. citizen, while Patel was working at his Shell station convenience store. A store video camera recorded the killing, helping police to identify Stroman as the killer. Stroman later told a Dallas television station that he shot Hassan and Patel because, "We're at war. I did what I had to do. I did it to retaliate against those who retaliated against us."

Beyond these killings, there were more than a thousand other anti-Muslim or anti-Arab acts of hate which took the form of physical assaults, verbal harassment and intimidation, arson, attacks on mosques, vandalism, and other property damage.

Instead of "calming prejudice" the GB Bush administration institutionalized hate crimes:

First, in the weeks immediately following the September 11 attacks, the government began secretly arresting and detaining Arab, Muslim, and South Asian men. Within the first two months after the attacks, the government had detained at least 1,200 men.
...
Second, in November 2001, the Department of Justice began efforts to "interview" approximately 5,000 men between the ages of 18 and 33 from Middle Eastern or Muslim nations who had arrived in the United States within the previous two years on a temporary student, tourist, or business visa and were lawful residents of the United States. Four months later, the government announced it would seek to interview an additional 3,000 men from countries with an Al Qaeda presence.
...
Third, in September 2002, the government implemented a "Special Registration" program also known as NSEERS (National Security Entry-Exit Registration System), requiring immigrant men from 26 mostly Muslim countries to register their name, address, telephone number, place of birth, date of arrival in the United States, height, weight, hair and eye color, financial information and the addresses, birth dates and phone numbers of parents and any foreign friends with the government.

Besides all that a rather useless security theater was installed at U.S. airports which has costs many billions in lost time and productivity ever since. The Patriot Act was introduced which allowed for unlimited spying on private citizens. Wars were launched that were claimed to be justified by 9/11. These were "mass outbreaks of anti-Muslim sentiment and violence. Many were killed and maimed in them. People were tortured and vanished. All of this happened largely to applause of a majority of the U.S. people which were glued to 24 and dreamed of being "terrorist hunters".

Anyone with a functional memory knows that the U.S. reaction to 9/11 was anything but "pretty calm". It is ridiculous that Krugman is claiming that.

Posted by b at 15:46 UTC | Comments (73)

I find it a bit humorous b that you are critical of Krugman for his 911 dementia when for years many of us finance types have railed about how morally corrupt the logic and thinking of Paul Krugman is.

Paul Krugman is to economics what Bernie Sanders has become for the purported "left" side of the "right wing" uni-party....a sheep dog for the easily led.

Paul Krugman is an acolyte for the God of Mammon/global private finance elite.


Clueless Joe , Sep 11 2020 16:11 utc | 3

Paul is getting old. Looks like senile dementia isn't limited to Biden nowadays.

Red Ryder , Sep 11 2020 16:44 utc | 11

While spreading anger and hate toward Arab people, The Bush Administration rescued the many members of the Kingdom's family from all around the US and escorted their flights out of the US to safety in Saudi Arabia.

Distracting the public big time was Dick Cheney, VP, who insisted from the very next day that the plot to hit the Twin Towers was Saddam's plot.

So, the historical record and US response was skewed from the getgo. AQ and Bin Laden didn't concern the neocons. They wanted the US to go to Iraq again, and this time start a wide war that would spread to Syria and Lebanon and Iran.

It was easy times to spread fear and hate, and Cheney and the war mongers of CENTCOM were riding high. Americans were scared of all Arabs, all Sunnis, all Shiites, from anywhere. They were all the same in the public's mind. Enemies.

It was perfect and has led to 19 years of endless wars. Add ISIS and al Nusra and the Taliban and you have an endless soup of enemies.

Jackrabbit , Sep 11 2020 17:01 utc | 13

I'm coining a new term: "Empire apologist".

!!

michaelj72 , Sep 11 2020 19:59 utc | 35

krugman is a terrible shill for the neo-cons and liberal-interventionists of the 21st century

at my age, I shouldn't really be surprised any more by what american "intellectuals" and "nobel prize winners" say about anything..... but I am.

He's neo-liberal interventionist moron of the first rank, and saying what he did actually normalizes the war mania and war-mongering which has become so staple in mainstream thought and the "think tanks" and is now practically part of the american DNA and "culture".
shame on krugman

Hoarsewhisperer , Sep 11 2020 20:08 utc | 36

...
It appears the Deep State has attacked the USA's people twice in two decades--on 911 and with the decision to let as many die as possible by deliberately not doing anything to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and allowing the real economy to atrophy so even more will die in the long run.
Posted by: karlof1 | Sep 11 2020 19:40 utc | 34

Talking about tilting at windmills - I'll never forget Robert Fisk angrily pointing out that the Yankees knew where to find Al CIA-duh because they extended the cave complex at Tora Bora to help Al CIA-duh, equipped with 10,000 US Stinger Missiles, kick the Russians out of Afghanistan in the 1980s!!!

(The Yankees had to wait for 10+ years to invade Afghanistan because it takes that long for Stingers to pass their Use By date)

Rob , Sep 11 2020 20:08 utc | 37

@michaelj72. "krugman is a terrible shill for the neo-cons and liberal-interventionists of the 21st century"

Actually, Paul Krugman was a strong and outspoken opponent of the Iraq War since early 2003 and possibly earlier. He was amongst the few mainstream liberal commentators to take that stand.

Jen , Sep 11 2020 21:02 utc | 44

If MoA readers and commenters were to read the entire series of Krugman's tweets, six in all, they will see mention of how the Bush govt began exploiting the events of 11 September 2001 almost immediately. Though the example Krugman actually uses would make most people cringe at what it suggests about the bubble he lives in and how far removed it is from most people's lives and experiences, and his reference to a "horrible war" does not mention either Afghanistan or Iraq.

It has to be said that Twitter is not designed very well for the kind of informal conversational commentary that people often use it for. But then you would think Krugman would use something other than Twitter to discuss and compare 9/11 with the impact of COVID-19.

The real issue I have with Krugman's Tweet is that he is revising history and bending over backwards to apologise for Dubya in a way to criticise Donald Trump's performance as President.

uncle tungsten , Sep 11 2020 22:13 utc | 50
b " Anyone with a functional memory knows that the U.S. reaction to 9/11 was anything but "pretty calm". It is ridiculous that Krugman is claiming that. "

Careful with that axe b, you are talking about Biden's chief economic adviser and likely appointee as Chair of the Fed. How does this look?
Volker
Greenspan
Bernanke
Yellen
Powell
Krugman

What could go wrong?

Prof K , Sep 11 2020 22:15 utc | 51
From 2019, Krugman de facto admits he was wrong his whole life. What a tool.

https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2019-10-10/inequality-globalization-and-the-missteps-of-1990s-economics

David G , Sep 11 2020 22:34 utc | 54

uncle tungsten | Sep 11 2020 22:13 utc | 50:

Reading Krugman's columns in 2016, I had a strong to overwhelming sense that this was a person revving up for a spot in Hillary's White House or cabinet. For some reason it isn't hitting me as strongly this time around – he may not have as close connections in Biden's circle – but it certainly would not be a surprise to see him take a turn through the media/government revolving door if Trump loses (though, fwiw, I don't think it will be a job at the Fed).

Et Tu , Sep 11 2020 22:48 utc | 55

Yep. Pretty staggering how a few disgruntled ex-CIA contractors managed to, deliberately or not, help the US Gov't launch the biggest world war operation right under the noses of the brainwashed masses.

99% of Westerners still are clueless as to explaining the last 20 years in a broader geopolitical context.

Russ , Sep 11 2020 22:48 utc | 56

Posted by: Caliman | Sep 11 2020 22:15 utc | 52

#28: "The antiwar protests in the US were small and insignificant."

No they were not. Millions of people demonstrated against the planned war, in the US, in the UK, and around the world...

We mustn't forget how the vast majority of those who allegedly were anti-war suddenly went totally pro-war silent upon Obama coming in.

But that pales compared to the vile spectacle of all the self-alleged "anti-authoritarians", "anti-propagandists" "dissidents", who suddenly regard the government media as the literal voice of God, where their alleged God speaks of Covid.

Prof K , Sep 11 2020 22:55 utc | 57

His book, End this Depression Now, is pretty weak. He has no theory of why the crash occurred. He critiques the austerity agenda but doesn't understand that government spending CAN create tax liabilities for capital down the road and eat into profits, thus blocking expanded investments and growth. Moronic libertarians hate Krugman just because they are right wing assholes who think, like fairies, that a free market without the state will work fine and self correct. Marx debunked this fairy tale thoroughly in Capital Volume 1, showing that, even if we start with the mythical free market of libertarian morons, capitalism will still operate according to the general law by which concentration and centralization lead to class polarization. In any case, in volume 3 of Capital, Marx develops his laws of crisis, showing that the cycles of expansion and depression under capitalism follow the movements of the rate of profit, which itself is determined by the ratio of the value of sunk capital in production technologies to the rate of exploitation (profits/wages). If the former rises more than the latter, the rate of profit sinks, along with investment, output and employment. Financial crises then set in.

The empirical evidence in the data bears out Marx's theory, not Krugman's dumb notion of aggregate demand, or the stupid libertarian focus on interest rates.

vk , Sep 12 2020 0:16 utc | 64

We could discuss here all day about the sociological subject of the American people's true positioning in the aftermath of 9/11. It would be, sincerely, a waste of time.

The important thing to grasp over this episode - from the point of view of History - is this: it was a strategic victory for al-Qaeda . The USA took the bait (all scripted?) and went into a quagmire in Iraq and Afghanistan. In a few years, the surplus the USA had accumulated with the sacking and absorption of the Soviet space during Bill Clinton evaporated and became a huge deficit in the Empire's accounts. Not long after, the 2008 financial meltdown happened, burying Bushism in a spectacular way.

There's a debate about the size of the hole the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan cost the American Empire. Some put it into the dozens of billions of USDs; others put it into the trillions of USDs range. We will never know. What we know is that the hole was big enough to both erase the American surplus and to not avoid the financial meltdown of 2008.

Either the expansion through the Middle East wasn't fast and provided riches enough to keep up with the Empire's voracious appetite or the invasion itself already represented a last, desperate attempt by the Empire to avoid its imminent collapse. We know, however, that POTUS Bush had a list of countries he wanted to invade beyond Iraq (the "Axis of Evil") which contained a secret country (Venezuela). He was conscious Iraq and Afghanistan wouldn't be enough. Whatever the case, he didn't have the time, and the financial meltdown happened in his last year in the White House.

uncle tungsten , Sep 12 2020 1:15 utc | 65

michaelj72 #38
karlof1 at #12

great stuff from M. Hudson, one of my favorite reads these days. Hudson has krugman's number. thanks again for those snippets and the links!

Steve Keen also has his number and Keen is pro capitalist

Krugman is a moron dressed as a weasel sounding like a squawking hen, with the vision of a hemorrhoid.

Antonym , Sep 12 2020 1:26 utc | 66

The main harsh reaction of G.W. Bush after 9/11 was the formation of DHS and laws to legalize mass national and international spying on anybody with electronic traffic. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Department_of_Homeland_Security#History

They knew who the perps of 9/11 were: their "own" Saudi irregulars in the CIA's US main land training camps, who started practicing on the "wrong"- domestic American- targets. These guys were officially entered without any background checks.
The Bush and Bin Laden families go way back in money making. That is why George had to ponder so long in that Florida kindergarten after hearing about the attacks: he had a suspicion. The Saudi only fly out after 9/11 confirms that.

Kay Fabr , Sep 12 2020 2:30 utc | 69

Paul Krugman Is a pro. Completely owned by Deep State. His purpose is to deflect discussion and prevent questioning the official version of 9/11 , and get people chasing something completely irrelevant. Well done Paul, most have taken the bait.

[Sep 12, 2020] Some -Corporate Fear- Is Needed, Blain Urges -A Little Bit Of Good Old Creative Capitalist Destruction- -

Sep 12, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com


xxx 1 hour ago (Edited) remove link

DISAGREE ON EVERY SINGLE WORD, in particular with this:

rules/regulations/capital requirements have infected the global banking system and rendered it a harvesting operation for retail and a derivatives rule/regulation/capital requirment evasion device for the pursuit of profit

absolutely false.

Banking system is in the 4th part of a cycle that they have created !

The first part has been capital harvesting (1970-1980)

The second part has been deregulation and hunt for stellar return on investment

The third part is financialisation and plunder of real economy

The fourth part is the destruction of real economy through debt, deflation, extreme financial activity seeking for Yields.

The banks have been the fortresses of globalisation. Commercial banking has been absorbed by investment banking. In this deflationary environment Commercial Banking has practice NO ROI.

You want to see the Banks working again?

Reintroduce the Glass Steagall and separate again investment and commercial banking.

Repeal all what has been done between 1987 and 1999.

THAT will stop globalisation, that will stop the slow bleeding-to-death of westerne economies, that will save commercial banking and our capitalistic societies.

[Sep 12, 2020] Yes, It's a Stock Market Bubble. That Doesn't Mean Trouble for Investors Just Yet-

Sep 12, 2020 | finance.yahoo.com

Every stock market bubble begins with a story, and make no mistake -- this is a stock market bubble. A virus forced the country to shut down and accelerated the gains in a select few technology stocks that are uniquely capable of thriving with everyone stuck at home. A central bank took quick action to prevent financial markets from seizing up, pushing interest rates about as low as they could go.

[Sep 11, 2020] Are Junk Bonds Suggesting A Stock Market Top Is Near by kimblecharting

The stock market now is completely disconnected from the economy. Stein's Law, which he expressed in 1976 states: "If something cannot go on forever, it will stop."
Notable quotes:
"... Junk Bonds play a critical role in highlighted investor sentiment. When junk bonds (lower-rated debt) is performing well, then that means investors are taking more risks. When junk bonds struggle, that means investors are taking on less risk. ..."
"... At the same time, there is a divergence between the stock market (the S&P 500 made new all-time highs) and Junk Bonds (well below all-time highs and 5 percent off 2019 highs). ..."
Sep 10, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

As investors, we have several tools and indicators at our disposal.

Whether it is technical indicators such as Fibonacci levels, moving averages, or price supports, or fundamental indicators such as corporate earnings or economic data, we have a lot of information to use when making decisions.

Today's chart incorporates both. Junk Bonds play a critical role in highlighted investor sentiment. When junk bonds (lower-rated debt) is performing well, then that means investors are taking more risks. When junk bonds struggle, that means investors are taking on less risk.

So today, we highlight the Junk Bonds ETF (JNK). Using technical analysis, we can see that JNK is trading near line (A), a price level that has served as support and resistance over the past several years. It is currently serving as price resistance.

At the same time, there is a divergence between the stock market (the S&P 500 made new all-time highs) and Junk Bonds (well below all-time highs and 5 percent off 2019 highs).

So this is an important resistance test for junk bonds. Will Junk Bonds (JNK) break down from here (bearish) or break out (bullish).

What happens here will send an important message to stocks (and investors)!

[Sep 02, 2020] Student life is reduced to a pixelated screen and the college experience is stripped of its self-realizations component and the role of pears in this process

Also " the number of students pursuing a college degree could be the smallest in two decades"
Sep 02, 2020 | nymag.com

student life is reduced to a pixilated screen and the college experience is stripped of its self-realizations and rites of passage...

The question now is whether and to what extent those changes will persist beyond the current crisis.

Will this mass experiment with online education turn more students on to lower-cost online degrees, or will it only make the in-person experience of college life seem all the more valuable?

The pandemic is a monkey wrench dropped into the middle of our cobbled-together public-private higher-education machine, freezing it up and, just possibly, breaking it.

Financially, colleges need to be open. Their operating budgets depend on tuition revenue, and schools need students on campus to be spending money in the bookstore or the dining hall or on sporting events. So there are a few different scenarios floating around right now for fall instruction. One is a hybrid of virtual and in person. This seems to be the most popular scenario, where colleges have larger classes being virtual and smaller classes in person in large spaces where they can better socially distance. We heard of a college considering turning an on-campus ballroom into a large classroom where students can be better spread out. They're also looking at adjusting the residential model. Dorms are pretty small, and they're densely populated. We've heard of schools that are considering buying up local hotels or even casino spaces in order to give students single rooms so they can better spread out.

[Sep 02, 2020] In my opinion, it's the American k-12 education which has failed miserably in teaching the American students the solid basics, has to be reformed."

Sep 02, 2020 | www.unz.com

Tom Welsh , says: August 24, 2020 at 9:26 am GMT

@Saggy n/no-division-required-in-this-school-problem.html

(27) In another televised beauty pageant, a high school girl was asked to explain a quote by Confucius. In response, she said: "Confucius was one of the men who invented confusion."

(28) https://www.unz.com/runz/the-myth-of-american-meritocracy/

(29) An article in Forbes magazine stated that "America's Millennials Are Among the World's Least Skilled". Specifically, they are short on literacy, numeracy, ability to follow simple orders, poor at solving problems.

[Aug 31, 2020] Economics Quotes

Aug 31, 2020 | quotes.cat-v.org

Just as a poetic discussion of the weather is not meteorology, so an issuance of moral pronouncements or political creeds about the economy is not economics. Economics is a study of cause-and-effect relationships in an economy.

-- Thomas Sowell


The first lesson of economics is scarcity: There is never enough of anything to satisfy all those who want it. The first lesson of politics is to disregard the first lesson of economics.

-- Thomas Sowell


Economics is the painful elaboration of the obvious.


The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.

-- Friedrich von Hayek


I can't imagine economists admitting how little they actually know. If they admitted to themselves, it would hurt their ego. If they admitted to others, it would hurt their job prospects.

-- Joseph Mattes, Vienna (The Economist, letters December 04, 2010)


The use of mathematics has brought rigor to economics. Unfortunately, it has also brought mortis .

-- Attributed to Robert Heilbroner


A study of economics usually reveals that the best time to buy anything is last year.

-- Marty Allen


Economic statistics are like a bikini, what they reveal is important, what they conceal is vital

-- Attributed to Professor Sir Frank Holmes, Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand, 1967.


Doing econometrics is like trying to learn the laws of electricity by playing the radio.

-- Guy Orcutt


Economists

-- David Wildasin


"Murphys law of economic policy": Economists have the least influence on policy where they know the most and are most agreed; they have the most influence on policy where they know the least and disagree most vehemently.

-- Alan S. Blinder


An economist is someone who, when he finds something that works in practice, tries to make it work in theory.


The purpose of studying economics is not to acquire a set of ready-made answers to economic questions, but to learn how to avoid being deceived by economists.

-- Joan Violet Robinson


An economist is an expert who will know tomorrow why the things he predicted yesterday didn't happen today.

-- Laurence J. Peter


Having a[n in] house economist became for many business people something like havinga resident astrologer for the royal court: I don't quite understand what this fellow is saying but there must be something to it.

-- Linden. (Jan. 11, 1993). Dreary Days in the Dismal Science. Forbes. Pp. 68-70.


Economics is the only field in which two people can get a Nobel Prize for saying exactly the opposite thing.


Economists do it with models.

-- Heard at the LSE


Bentley's second Law of Economics: The only thing more dangerous than an economist is an amateur economist!

Berta's Fundamental Law of Economic Rents.. "The only thing more dangerous than an amateur economist is a professional economist."


Definition: Policy Analyst is someone unethical enough to be a lawyer, impractical enough to be a theologian, and pedantic enough to be an economist.




Economists have forecasted 9 out of the last 5 recessions.


An econometrician and an astrologer are arguing about their subjects. The astrologer says, "Astrology is more scientific. My predictions come out right half the time. Yours can't even reach that proportion". The econometrician replies, "That's because of external shocks. Stars don't have those".


When an economist says the evidence is "mixed," he or she means that theory says one thing and data says the opposite.

-- Attributed to Richard Thaler, now at the Univ of Chicago


The last severe depression and banking crisis could not have been achieved by normal civil servants and politicians, it required economists involvement.


Taxes

State run lotteries: think of them as tax breaks for the intelligent.

-- Evan Leibovitch


Inflation

Inflation is the one form of taxation that can be imposed without legislation.

-- Milton Friedman


Having a little inflation is like being a little pregnant–inflation feeds on itself and quickly passes the "little" mark.

-- Dian Cohen


Trade and Trade Barriers

Tariffs, quotas and other import restrictions protect the business of the rich at the expense of high cost of living for the poor. Their intent is to deprive you of the right to choose, and to force you to buy the high-priced inferior products of politically favored companies.

-- Alan Burris, A Liberty Primer


Perhaps the removal of trade restrictions throughout the world would do more for the cause of universal peace than can any political union of peoples separated by trade barriers.

-- Frank Chodorov


When goods don't cross borders, soldiers will.

-- Fredric Bastiat, early French economist


The primary reason for a tariff is that it enables the exploitation of the domestic consumer by a process indistinguishable from sheer robbery.

-- Albert Jay Nock


Regulation

Regulation - which is based on force and fear - undermines the moral base of business dealings. It becomes cheaper to bribe a building inspector than to meet his standards of construction. A fly-by-night securities operator can quickly meet all the S.E.C. requirements, gain the inference of respectability, and proceed to fleece the public. In an unregulated economy, the operator would have had to spend a number of years in reputable dealings before he could earn a position of trust sufficient to induce a number of investors to place funds with him. Protection of the consumer by regulation is thus illusory.

-- Alan Greenspan


You fucking academic eggheads! You don't know shit. You can't deregulate this industry. You're going to wreck it. You don't know a goddamn thing!

-- Robert Crandall, boss of American Airlines, to an unnamed Senate lawyer in 1971


Government

The direct use of physical force is so poor a solution to the problem of limited resources that it is commonly employed only by small children and great nations.

-- David Friedman


Government Spending

See, when the Government spends money, it creates jobs; whereas when the money is left in the hands of Taxpayers, God only knows what they do with it. Bake it into pies, probably. Anything to avoid creating jobs.

-- Dave Barry


I don't think you can spend yourself rich.

-- George Humphrey


Capitalism and Free Markets

A major source of objection to a free economy is precisely that it gives people what they want instead of what a particular group thinks they ought to want. Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself.

-- Milton Friedman


The most important single central fact about a free market is that no exchange takes place unless both parties benefit.

-- Milton Friedman


The only thing worse than being exploited by capitalism is not being exploited by capitalism.

-- Joan Violet Robinson


Manufacturing and commercial monopolies owe their origin not to a tendency imminent in a capitalist economy but to governmental interventionist policy directed against free trade and laissez faire.

-- Ludwig Mises, "Socialism"


If an exchange between two parties is voluntary, it will not take place unless both believe they will benefit from it. Most economic fallacies derive from the neglect of this simple insight, from the tendency to assume that there is a fixed pie, that one party can only gain at the expense of another.

-- Milton Friedman


States with central-planning regimes [ ] do tend to consume much less energy (and much less of everything else) [ ] than do Americans. There is a word for that: poverty.

-- The Politically Incorrect Guide to Socialism


Central Banks

Any system which gives so much power and so much discretion to a few men, [so] that mistakes – excusable or not – can have such far reaching effects, is a bad system. It is a bad system to believers in freedom just because it gives a few men such power without any effective check by the body politic – this is the key political argument against an independent central bank To paraphrase Clemenceau: money is much too serious a matter to be left to the Central Bankers.

-- Milton Friedman


A central banker walks into a pizzeria to order a pizza.

When the pizza is done, he goes up to the counter get it. There a clerk asks him: "Should I cut it into six pieces or eight pieces?"

The central banker replies: "I'm feeling rather hungry right now. You'd better cut it into eight pieces."


Intellectual Property

For one thing, there are many "inventions" that are not patentable. The "inventor" of the supermarket, for example, conferred great benefits on his fellowmen for which he could not charge them. Insofar as the same kind of ability is required for the one kind of invention as for the other, the existence of patents tends to divert activity to patentable inventions.

-- Milton Friedman


Slavery

From the experience of all ages and nations, I believe, that the work done by freemen comes cheaper in the end than the work performed by slaves.

The work done by slaves, though it appears to cost only their maintenance, is in the end the dearest of any. A person who can acquire no property can have no other interest but to eat as much and to labour as little as possible.

Whatever work he does, beyond what is sufficient to purchase his own maintenance, can be squeezed out of him by violence only, and not by any interest of his own.

-- Adam Smith


Prohibition

It is because it's prohibited. See, if you look at the drug war from a purely economic point of view, the role of the government is to protect the drug cartel. That's literally true.

-- Milton Friedman


In the Long Run
Minimum Wage and Unemployment

The real minimum wage is zero: unemployment.

-- Thomas Sowell


All of the progress that the US has made over the last couple of centuries has come from unemployment. It has come from figuring out how to produce more goods with fewer workers, thereby releasing labor to be more productive in other areas. It has never come about through permanent unemployment, but temporary unemployment, in the process of shifting people from one area to another.

-- Milton Friedman

Misc

Talk is cheap. Supply exceeds Demand.


It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.

-- Upton Sinclair


When you start paying people to be poor, you wind up with an awful lot of poor people.

-- Milton Friedman


of course the country could never listen to this guy .it just makes too much damn sense.

-- ryanx0 about Milton Friedman [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Se_TJzB9-z0]


Every individual necessarily labors to render the annual revenue of society as great as he can. He generally neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it. He intends only his own gain, and he is, in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was not part of his intention.

-- Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations



Back during the Solidarity days, I heard that the following joke was being told in Poland:

A man goes into the Bank of Gdansk to make a deposit. Since he has never kept money in a bank before, he is a little nervous. 
"What happens if the Bank of Gdansk should fail?" he asks. 
"Well, in that case your money would be insured by the Bank of Warsaw." 
"But, what if the Bank of Warsaw fails?" 
"Well, there'd be no problem, because the Bank of Warsaw is insured by the National Bank of Poland." 
"And if the National Bank of Poland fails?" 
"Then your money would be insured by the Bank of Moscow." 
"And what if the Bank of Moscow fails?" 
"Then your money would be insured by the Great Bank of the Soviet Union." 
"And if that bank fails?" 
"Well, in that case, you'd lose all your money. But, wouldn't it be worth it?"

All models are wrong but some are useful.

-- George Box


I'd rather be vaguely right than precisely wrong.

-- J.M.Keynes; Found in Forbes magazine 01/25/1999 issue. In the Numbers Game column by Bernard Cohen


Far better an approximate answer to the right question, which is often vague, than an exact answer to the wrong question, which can always be made precise.

-- J. Tukey


There is an entirely leisure class located at both ends of the economic spectrum

[Aug 29, 2020] The fact that a delusional two faction of neoliberal "ruling class" are at war portend bad for Rupublic

Aug 29, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Walter , Aug 28 2020 12:05 utc | 179

Well, I read all the way through.

In my US youth we trained with .30 cal Simi auto rifles at public school, and had also at public school, rifle teams that used .22 target rifles.

Wally was the only white guy on the teams (there were several schools)...

The racial stuff was all there, but so also was an intact industrial plant... a fella couldn't walk down the street without stumbling into a job.

Welder, fitter, fabricator, assembly line work, foundries and forges and shipyards and mines were running double shifts and the unions were strong...even rich people were afraid to cross a picketline...

and the income tax was about 75%...

In a long and adventurous life slumming 'round I have been threatened with guns dozens of time...Every Time a cop was holding the gun, with "one up the spout" (it's "policy") and finger on the trigger. Not once was there an arrest. Not once. Beatdachitoutta, well, several times, kidnapped too, but never actually arrested. Actually pretty much a boyscout. And white. Yes, the cops are azzhones, like Dylan said, the cops doaneed you and man they expect the same.

I think the "problem" with the views here @ MoA in regard the "civil war" lies in fundamental assumptions.

Simply try assuming that the US has ended, what you're seeing is denouement. Then forget about it...it's like chemistry, and "da fat's in da fire". Outcome is backed in. Like the corpse rotting back to it's constituent chemistry.

Igor Panarin's prediction, and also Deagle's prediction, may well be the proximate situation when the reaction bombe cools off.

The fact that a delusional "ruling class" is at war with itself as well as the common people stands as strong evidence...

[Aug 24, 2020] Why neoclassical economics is a yet another secular religious doctrine, and not a science

Highly recommended!
In a sense the USA is a theocratic society with neoliberal religion as the state religion. Not that different from the USSR whioch also was a theocratic society with some perversion of Marxism as the state religion.
Aug 24, 2020 | peakoilbarrel.com

Hickory Ignored says: 08/15/2020 AT 9:35 AM

I capitulate. Ron you are correct, we are post peak.
Post Peak

OK, now what?
It is so strange to be post-peak and not have high prices for crude,
and food.
I guess that will be coming.

note- biofuels should not be counted in liquids tally. It is a different animal, with the source being dependent on farming and soil, not drilling and geology. Just because ethanol is used for propulsion shouldn't matter- electrons and batteries aren't counted either, and rightly so. Those belong in a different category- transportation energy.

Schinzy Ignored says: 08/15/2020 AT 12:02 PM

I have argued for several years that peak oil is a low price phenomenon, not a high priced phenomenon.

The most overrated law in economics is that of supply and demand. This law suffers from what Richard Feynman called "vagueness" (see
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EYPapE-3FRw ). The problem is that it is always satisfied and hence gives absolutely no information about prices.

The latest iteration of our article on the oil cycle can be found at
http://www.math.univ-toulouse.fr/~schindle/articles/2020_oil_cycle_notes.pdf

alimbiquated Ignored says: 08/16/2020 AT 9:52 AM

Another problem with market theory (beyond vagueness) is that it lacks a time axis.

The theory states that the relationship between price and supply moves along the demand curve, but doesn't say how fast, just that "in the long run" the system will reach equilibrium. Being in equilibrium means being somewhere on the demand curve.

https://www.economicsonline.co.uk/Competitive_markets/Demand_curves.html

So for example, if prices go up, the demand quantity is expected to go down. The question is when.

Where does this go wrong? In classical market theory, for example, unemployment is impossible, because if labor supply outstrips demand prices (wages) should fall until until equilibrium is attained. This has been observed to be false on many occasions, including right now.

As Feymann states in the video, "If it disagrees with experiment, it's WRONG! That's all there is to it." Classical economics isn't just too vague, it is wrong.

Keynes joked about this that in the long term we'll all be dead. He meant equilibrium will never be reached, so we are never on the demand curve. He argued that "sticky prices", meaning the unwillingness to accept pay cuts, kept labor markets permanently out of equilibrium.

It's worth pondering whether oil prices are "sticky" as well. Saying yes is saying the law of supply and demand doesn't apply (in the short term). This year we have seen that both OPEC's politicking and panicky traders can cause wild swings in price unrelated to supply and demand.

Where market theory is vague is the shape of the demand curve. For example, if oil supply can't meet demand in the near future, as some here have posited, how high will prices go? Some claim it will go over $200, as people get desperate for it. Some claim that higher prices would increase efforts to find and drill more, putting a lid on prices. Some claim the shortage would crash the world economy, depressing prices. Some claim that faced with oil shortages, the world would simply switch to EVs, or stop wasting the gunk on poorly designed transportation systems, so prices would stay more or less the same.

Who is right? Nobody knows. So we don't know the shape of the demand curve. The theory is hopelessly vague.

Schinzy Ignored says: 08/16/2020 AT 12:25 PM

Good points. For all these reasons it is not surprising that the journalist Robert Samuelson noted last year that frequently economists don't know what they're talking about: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/economists-often-dont-know-what-theyre-talking-about/2019/05/12/f91517d4-7338-11e9-9eb4-0828f5389013_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.dc651d463df7 .

Han Neumann Ignored says: 08/17/2020 AT 8:25 PM

I have argued for several years that peak oil is a low price phenomenon, not a high priced phenomenon.

Schinzy,

The price of crude oil is only part of the Peakoil phenomenon. How much is left in the ground counts, however more important is at which velocity the remaining Gb can be extracted. I am not a geologist, but common sense says that when an oilfield is well depleted (50-70%) the most of the remaining barrels will be extracted at a much lower speed, even at very high oilprices. With secondary and tertiary EOR technology most conventional oilfields will not produce the same or close to the same amount of barrels/day as before for many more years. That's also my conclusion from what I have read more than a decade ago.
Of course with high oilprices new, relatively small, oil fields will come online and (more advanced) EOR will start in other fields, but no matter how you look at it: depletion never stops. With most oilfields in the world past-peak, only a tremendous amount of money (needed to develop EOR) can prevent world crude oilproduction from falling like a rock. And all those EOR technologies will deplete oilfields faster. Big gains in the beginning, more disappointments later.
Will there be significant amount of shale oil developed in the future in other countries than the U.S. ? If so, is that wise, regarding an already existing runaway climate change ?

[Aug 24, 2020] The link between political instability and inequality

Aug 24, 2020 | peakoilbarrel.com

Schinzy Ignored says: 08/16/2020 AT 9:21 AM

Modelling political instability is the subject of cliodynamcs, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cliodynamics . The graph on that page seems to link political instability with inequality. My suspicion is that it is also linked to scarcity.

[Aug 24, 2020] Tesla market cap $300B v. Exxon at $190B.

Aug 24, 2020 | peakoilbarrel.com

Stephen Hren Ignored says: 08/16/2020 AT 1:03 PM

Tesla market cap – $300B v. Exxon at $190B.

Wall Street is very story driven. They wasted a decade throwing money at tight oil and lost billions. It's hard to see how this tight oil story gets resuscitated. The '10s saw free debt, low regulatory regime, no effective alternatives to oil, skilled work force, entrenched globalized oil markets, no pandemics, etc, and they STILL lost hundreds of billions. Wall Street wants to lose their money in new ways. At least they get some novelty out of it.

[Aug 24, 2020] OPEC July 2020 Production Charts " Peak Oil Barrel

Notable quotes:
"... $40s WTI and Brent are wholly unsustainable prices. I'd argue that $50s and $60s are also if growth is being sought outside of a few areas. ..."
"... SS, there is no doubt that the pandemic will hasten peak oil supply. Many shut-in wells will not re-open. Frac spreads are being sold for scrap. Rigs are being decommissioned. Plus we are still producing at 80 to 90% of former levels. That means depletion is still continuing. So when they do get around to producing flat out again, the oil will just not be there. ..."
"... close to 100,000 job losses in the oil industry, many folks in their 50s and 60s. Hard to see how they bring folks on for another boom with the loss of all that skilled labor. ..."
"... So, maybe $100 oil over a period of time could turn this tide, but sub-$50 WTI sure won't. ..."
"... Yes, the future is hard to predict. But absent some tremendous financial return potential, why would young people have any interest in making a career of US upstream E & P? ..."
Aug 24, 2020 | peakoilbarrel.com

Ron Patterson Ignored says: 08/15/2020 AT 8:15 AM

OPEC peaked in 2016, Russia peaked in 2019, and the USA very likely peaked in 2019 also. And the vast majority of all other nations have peaked also as evidenced by their continuing decline. That should be enough evidence for anyone.

shallow sand Ignored says: 08/15/2020 AT 8:33 AM

Ron.

$40s WTI and Brent are wholly unsustainable prices. I'd argue that $50s and $60s are also if growth is being sought outside of a few areas.

The longer prices stay low due to the pandemic, the more likely the world has passed peak supply.

I don't see any sign that this pandemic will be over anytime soon.

Ron Patterson Ignored says: 08/15/2020 AT 8:46 AM

SS, there is no doubt that the pandemic will hasten peak oil supply. Many shut-in wells will not re-open. Frac spreads are being sold for scrap. Rigs are being decommissioned. Plus we are still producing at 80 to 90% of former levels. That means depletion is still continuing. So when they do get around to producing flat out again, the oil will just not be there.

As to the longevity of the pandemic, one can only guess. But things will never be back to the free and easy ways of the past. International travel will never be back to what it once was. There will be fewer travel vacations even within nations. The possibility of the virus returning will forever be on everyone's mind.

Stephen Hren Ignored says: 08/15/2020 AT 12:47 PM

Also close to 100,000 job losses in the oil industry, many folks in their 50s and 60s. Hard to see how they bring folks on for another boom with the loss of all that skilled labor.

Han Neumann Ignored says: 08/16/2020 AT 8:08 PM

Ron,

Once that a, in most cases, curative combination of medicines is available and one or a few very effective vaccins are registered and rolled out, it remains to be seen how 'normal' life will get again.

I don't think the virus will be forever on everyone's mind. Already now many young people have started to party like before the pandemic, even in Europe (infections rising in almost all European countries, so a lot of 'Trumpites' and Bolsonarites' also in Europe).

When vaccines are widely available at least everyone who is planning to travel by plane will be going to get a vaccin.
A good chance that vacations and air travel is close to normal somewhere in 2022 or 2023.

Dennis Coyne Ignored says: 08/16/2020 AT 9:42 AM

Shallow sand,

The pandemic will eventually subside an the US and other nations that have responded poorly to the pandemic will eventually learn from nations that have responded relatively better, compare Europe and US.

If peak supply is reached, but demand resumes 1% annual growth, I expect we will soon see Brent at $65/bo+/-5 at minimum, by 2025 to 2030.

shallow sand Ignored says: 08/16/2020 AT 10:37 AM

Dennis. Brent $65 in 2025-30 is only helpful if one or both of the following happens:

1. Capital markets continue to the pattern of 2015-19 and fund drilling that provides marginal returns or losses, but has no hope of providing superior returns.

2. Some other new, economical supply source is discovered.

Low oil prices to 2025-2030 would seem to mean supply will be constrained unless one or both of the above occur.

Conventional oil pretty much peaked in 2005.

I look at $10K invested in a major oil company in 2010. I look at $10K invested in a shale company in 2010. I then compare that to the S&P 500 return since 2010, all other industry groups, specific companies, etc.

Investing in oil is like investing in tobacco. The only allure is yield. Upstream E & P will have to keep borrowing to pay the dividend even if oil returns to $50 Brent. Same with $60 Brent.

shallow sand Ignored says: 08/16/2020 AT 11:03 AM

Dennis. One thing that you are missing is just how poor the future of the upstream oil industry is.

When the shale boom started, EV's were a pipe dream.

When the shale boom started, there wasn't widespread sentiment against oil. Global warming/climate change was on the radar, but not like now.

BP is trying to remake itself in large part because they cannot find talented and skilled younger workers who want to work for a fossil fuel company.

We have been in this industry since the 1970s. We have some of the best leases in our field and have made more money in this industry than in our professions or in other investments. There is a third generation in our family ranging from late teens to mid twenties. None are interested at all in this family business/investment. Same for one of my best friends who makes his living at this. Same for another, whose engineer son started working with him out of college, but before oil crashed in 2014 left and took a job in a "Green Energy" field.

Mike is in the same boat.

I know all of the major players in our field. All companies are family owned. There are a total of four in all of those families working in oil and gas who are under the age of 50, and those four are at or nearing 40, and started working in their family oil companies at least over 15 years ago.

As I have posted before, our employees range from 47-61 years of age. The two we hired who were in their twenties have both long ago left, and no longer work in upstream E & P.

We have participated in some Zoom meetings with the National Stripper Well Association. Almost all on those meetings is old (50-80 years old).

We hope to sell out on the next recovery, if that ever comes. But we are concerned there will not be any buyers.

So, maybe $100 oil over a period of time could turn this tide, but sub-$50 WTI sure won't.

Yes, the future is hard to predict. But absent some tremendous financial return potential, why would young people have any interest in making a career of US upstream E & P?

Hickory Ignored says: 08/15/2020 AT 9:35 AM

I capitulate. Ron you are correct, we are post peak.
Post Peak

OK, now what?
It is so strange to be post-peak and not have high prices for crude,
and food.
I guess that will be coming.

note- biofuels should not be counted in liquids tally. It is a different animal, with the source being dependent on farming and soil, not drilling and geology. Just because ethanol is used for propulsion shouldn't matter- electrons and batteries aren't counted either, and rightly so. Those belong in a different category- transportation energy.

Schinzy Ignored says: 08/15/2020 AT 12:02 PM

I have argued for several years that peak oil is a low price phenomenon, not a high priced phenomenon.

The most overrated law in economics is that of supply and demand. This law suffers from what Richard Feynman called "vagueness" (see
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EYPapE-3FRw ). The problem is that it is always satisfied and hence gives absolutely no information about prices.

The latest iteration of our article on the oil cycle can be found at
http://www.math.univ-toulouse.fr/~schindle/articles/2020_oil_cycle_notes.pdf

alimbiquated Ignored says: 08/16/2020 AT 9:52 AM

Another problem with market theory (beyond vagueness) is that it lacks a time axis.

The theory states that the relationship between price and supply moves along the demand curve, but doesn't say how fast, just that "in the long run" the system will reach equilibrium. Being in equilibrium means being somewhere on the demand curve.

https://www.economicsonline.co.uk/Competitive_markets/Demand_curves.html

So for example, if prices go up, the demand quantity is expected to go down. The question is when.

Where does this go wrong? In classical market theory, for example, unemployment is impossible, because if labor supply outstrips demand prices (wages) should fall until until equilibrium is attained. This has been observed to be false on many occasions, including right now.

As Feymann states in the video, "If it disagrees with experiment, it's WRONG! That's all there is to it." Classical economics isn't just too vague, it is wrong.

Keynes joked about this that in the long term we'll all be dead. He meant equilibrium will never be reached, so we are never on the demand curve. He argued that "sticky prices", meaning the unwillingness to accept pay cuts, kept labor markets permanently out of equilibrium.

It's worth pondering whether oil prices are "sticky" as well. Saying yes is saying the law of supply and demand doesn't apply (in the short term). This year we have seen that both OPEC's politicking and panicky traders can cause wild swings in price unrelated to supply and demand.

Where market theory is vague is the shape of the demand curve. For example, if oil supply can't meet demand in the near future, as some here have posited, how high will prices go? Some claim it will go over $200, as people get desperate for it. Some claim that higher prices would increase efforts to find and drill more, putting a lid on prices. Some claim the shortage would crash the world economy, depressing prices. Some claim that faced with oil shortages, the world would simply switch to EVs, or stop wasting the gunk on poorly designed transportation systems, so prices would stay more or less the same.

Who is right? Nobody knows. So we don't know the shape of the demand curve. The theory is hopelessly vague.

hole in head Ignored says: 08/16/2020 AT 1:48 PM

A comment posted on ^peakoil.com^ . Interesting .
"The price action of WTI shows it quite clearly that the non oil extracting part of the economy can't afford to pay a high enough price that would allow the extracting, processing and delivery of oil products to it.

It's that simple, most of the oil still in the ground will stay there unless somehow you find a way to pay $100++ per barrel. The last 12 years has shown that we can't!

The best yearly average weekly price of WTI was right around $100
Average weekly price of WTI for years 2008 thru 2013 was $88.
Average weekly price of WTI for years 2014 thru 2019 was $53.

The trend is what it is and it shows no signs of changing, the price of WTI is still hitting lower lows and lower high.

I have no idea what the future will bring but the next 3 years are going to be interesting and not in a good way.

Have fun everyone."

Dennis,repeating myself ,the price of oil is going to trend down . Supply and demand curves do not apply where the world^s economic system is now placed . Alimbiquated has done a very good job explaining that .

Ron Patterson Ignored says: 08/15/2020 AT 6:38 PM

Much of the fall in output of the other 9 is from Iran, Nigeria, Libya, and Venezuela, much of that decline is due to political problems

No doubt it was. But political upheaval is part of the story, and always will be. There will be political problems ongoing for decades. Dennis, if your model excludes political problems, then you are living in a dream world.

Anyway, in addition to the political problems that you point out in those four nations, which will most likely continue, we have the natural decline in the other five nations in the chart below.

Hightrekker Ignored says: 08/15/2020 AT 6:42 PM

Nov 2018 is getting further in the rear view mirror -- –

Dennis Coyne Ignored says: 08/16/2020 AT 9:03 AM

Hightrekker,

Yes and oil prices have been low from Nov 2018 until now, do you expect that to continue for the next 10 years? I do not, perhaps that's the difference. 2025 to 2030 there is likely to be a new peak for World C plus C centered 12 month average output probably 1 to 3 Mb per day higher than the Nov 2018 peak. This assumes oil prices reach $64/bo or higher in 2020$ by June 2030.

Hightrekker Ignored says: 08/16/2020 AT 9:51 AM

Yes, I do not think we will surpass Nov 2018.
But I'm a European Historian, viewing other factors.

Survivalist Ignored says: 08/18/2020 AT 1:54 AM

I seem to recall, not too long ago, various talking heads prattling on about how USA LTO is now the new "swing producer"/source of swing supply. I guess we'll now get to see how well it swings on and off, as swing producers are wont to do.
My WAG is that it doesn't swing back on so well, as the swing off phase seems to be damaging (not just a tap you see), and when demand recovers after COVID, circa 2023, we'll see a price run up. Perhaps it'll be a damaging price run up. 2023 will be in the middle of Biden's first term, presumably.

Westexasfanclub Ignored says: 08/16/2020 AT 3:57 AM

And: Nigeria and Venezuela could ramp up their production only very, very slowly. They could not stem the general trend. Lybia is too little to make any serious difference. The only real wildcard is Iran. And it's the less probable to be played.

[Aug 24, 2020] If the Dollar dies, so will the country because the dollar's status is the only thing preventing hyperinflation and a total lockup of everything that moves at least for a few months.

Aug 24, 2020 | www.unz.com

RoatanBill , says: Next New Comment August 23, 2020 at 10:17 am GMT

The economy will roll over soon, probably by early 2021. Whatever party has the presidency won't matter. As the Dollar dies, so will the country because the dollar's status is the only thing preventing hyperinflation and a total lockup of everything that moves at least for a few months.

The carnival barkers in both parties are just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. If you haven't stocked up on food, water and ammo you better do so now.

Lawlessness in the major cities is just the opening act. Wait till people are hungry and thrown out on the streets due to the stupidity of the Covid lock down madness.

tempus , says: Next New Comment August 23, 2020 at 12:17 pm GMT

It is beginning to look like the country as a whole is going to experience what the South suffered during Reconstruction (1865-1877): https://tcallenco.blogspot.com/2012/03/southern-history-first-reconstruction.html

[Aug 24, 2020] Why neoclassical economics is a yet another secular religious doctrine, and not a science

Aug 24, 2020 | peakoilbarrel.com

Hickory says: 08/15/2020 AT 9:35 AM

I capitulate. Ron you are correct, we are post peak. Post Peak

OK, now what? It is so strange to be post-peak and not have high prices for crude, and food. I guess that will be coming.

NOTE:

Schinzy , says: 08/15/2020 AT 12:02 PM

I have argued for several years that peak oil is a low price phenomenon, not a high priced phenomenon.

The most overrated law in economics is that of supply and demand. This law suffers from what Richard Feynman called "vagueness" (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EYPapE-3FRw ). The problem is that it is always satisfied and hence gives absolutely no information about prices.

The latest iteration of our article on the oil cycle can be found at: http://www.math.univ-toulouse.fr/~schindle/articles/2020_oil_cycle_notes.pdf

alimbiquated , says: 08/16/2020 AT 9:52 AM

Another problem with market theory (beyond vagueness) is that it lacks a time axis. The theory states that the relationship between price and supply moves along the demand curve, but doesn't say how fast, just that "in the long run" the system will reach equilibrium. Being in equilibrium means being somewhere on the demand curve.

https://www.economicsonline.co.uk/Competitive_markets/Demand_curves.html

So for example, if prices go up, the demand quantity is expected to go down. The question is when.

Where does this go wrong? In classical market theory, for example, unemployment is impossible, because if labor supply outstrips demand prices (wages) should fall until until equilibrium is attained. This has been observed to be false on many occasions, including right now.

As Feymann states in the video, "If it disagrees with experiment, it's WRONG! That's all there is to it." Classical economics isn't just too vague, it is wrong.

Keynes joked about this that in the long term we'll all be dead. He meant equilibrium will never be reached, so we are never on the demand curve. He argued that "sticky prices", meaning the unwillingness to accept pay cuts, kept labor markets permanently out of equilibrium.

It's worth pondering whether oil prices are "sticky" as well. Saying yes is saying the law of supply and demand doesn't apply (in the short term). This year we have seen that both OPEC's politicking and panicky traders can cause wild swings in price unrelated to supply and demand.

Where market theory is vague is the shape of the demand curve. For example, if oil supply can't meet demand in the near future, as some here have posited, how high will prices go? Some claim it will go over $200, as people get desperate for it. Some claim that higher prices would increase efforts to find and drill more, putting a lid on prices. Some claim the shortage would crash the world economy, depressing prices. Some claim that faced with oil shortages, the world would simply switch to EVs, or stop wasting the gunk on poorly designed transportation systems, so prices would stay more or less the same.

Who is right? Nobody knows. So we don't know the shape of the demand curve. The theory is hopelessly vague.

Schinzy , says: 08/16/2020 AT 12:25 PM

Good points. For all these reasons it is not surprising that the journalist Robert Samuelson noted last year that frequently economists don't know what they're talking about: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/economists-often-dont-know-what-theyre-talking-about/2019/05/12/f91517d4-7338-11e9-9eb4-0828f5389013_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.dc651d463df7 .

Han Neumann , says: 08/17/2020 AT 8:25 PM

I have argued for several years that peak oil is a low price phenomenon, not a high priced phenomenon.

Schinzy,

The price of crude oil is only part of the Peakoil phenomenon.

How much is left in the ground counts, however more important is at which velocity the remaining Gb can be extracted. I am not a geologist, but common sense says that when an oilfield is well depleted (50-70%) the most of the remaining barrels will be extracted at a much lower speed, even at very high oilprices.

With secondary and tertiary EOR technology most conventional oilfields will not produce the same or close to the same amount of barrels/day as before for many more years. That's also my conclusion from what I have read more than a decade ago.

Of course with high oilprices new, relatively small, oil fields will come online and (more advanced) EOR will start in other fields, but no matter how you look at it: depletion never stops.

With most oilfields in the world past-peak, only a tremendous amount of money (needed to develop EOR) can prevent world crude oil production from falling like a rock. And all those EOR technologies will deplete oilfields faster.

Big gains in the beginning, more disappointments later.
Will there be significant amount of shale oil developed in the future in other countries than the U.S. ? If so, is that wise, regarding an already existing runaway climate change ?

[Aug 23, 2020] Unconstrained Economic-Elite Domination under neoliberalism

Aug 23, 2020 | www.unz.com

james charles , says: Next New Comment August 23, 2020 at 11:12 am GMT

Hands up those who think the election will only have a 'marginal' effect?

"Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens

Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page

Each of four theoretical traditions in the study of American politics -- which can be characterized as theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy, Economic-Elite Domination, and two 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 that 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 U.S. 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. "

https://scholar.princeton.edu/sites/default/files/mgilens/files/gilens_and_page_2014_-testing_theories_of_american_politics.doc.pdf

[Aug 23, 2020] A Love Letter To The Fed From The Adoring Stock Market -

Aug 23, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Michael Regan via Bloomberg (emphasis ours),

Dear Fed,

Hey there! It's me, the stock market. I know it's weird to write you like this, but I felt like I needed to drop a quick thank-you note for everything you've done for me this year. I mean, your big ol' balance sheet is almost $3 trillion larger since early March! You're backing up the truck and loading it with Treasuries and corporate bonds and bond ETFs, all to keep the competition to stocks from fixed-income yields as limited as Jim Cramer's understanding of me. It's been a dream come true, honestly. I mean, fess up: Have you been reading my diary?!

... ... ...

So please do me a solid and keep this thank-you note in mind when you host your virtual Jackson Hole summit. No cowboy stuff, OK? If I hear anybody mutter something about "irrational exuberance," I swear I'm gonna blow my top and hurt a few of these Robinhood types, you got that? The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away. It's what I do -- and I'm good at it! But right now, this is still a lot of fun for me...

https://lockerdome.com/lad/13084989113709670?pubid=ld-dfp-ad-13084989113709670-0&pubo=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.zerohedge.com&rid=www.zerohedge.com&width=890

...  and when I do end up burning folks, do you really want to be the one who gets thrown under the bus?

I mean, you know you're going to catch all the blame, right?

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C'mon, Fed. We both know you're smarter than that. What's another few trillion?

With sincere and deepest gratitude,

The Stock Market

[Aug 23, 2020] US Default Bomb Goes Off- 2020 Will Have A Record Number Of Large Corporate Bankruptcies -

Aug 23, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

US Default Bomb Goes Off: 2020 Will Have A Record Number Of Large Corporate Bankruptcies by Tyler Durden Sun, 08/23/2020 - 21:30 Twitter Facebook Reddit Email Print

The disconnect between the all time highs in the stock market and the broader economy has never been greater (with even Janet Yellen , one of the main architects of this disconnect, agreeing), and one of the places where this chasm is most glaring, is in the staggering number of major corporations filing for bankruptcy in 2020. Indeed, this year large US corporate bankruptcy filings are running at a record pace and are set to surpass levels reached during the financial crisis in 2009 (when the S&P was far from an all time high).

According to FT calculations , as of August 17, a record 45 companies each with more than $1 billion in assets has filed for Chapter 11 this year; this compares with 38 for the same period of 2009 during the depths of the financial crisis and is more than double last year's figure of 18 over the comparable period .

In total, 157 companies with liabilities over $50 million have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy this year and as we warned several months ago, many more are coming.

"We are in the first innings of this bankruptcy cycle. It will spread far across industries as we get deeper into the crisis. It's going to be a bumpy ride," said Ben Schlafman, chief operating officer at New Generation Research.

The spike in bankruptcies comes despite trillions of dollars in government aid to mitigate the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic on businesses, highlighting the catastrophic and lasting impact Covid-19 is having on the US economy. Or perhaps those trillions in government aid are going to the wrong recipients, and as a result companies that stand to benefit from mass defaults are now sporting record market caps. In fact, the irony is that in its pursuit to crush monopolies such as Amazon and Google, the government has made them bigger and stronger than they have ever been.

Meanwhile, with the US economy driving right over the fiscal cliff as Congress failed to extend emergency covid benefits, sending spending by those receiving Unemployment Insurance sharply lower ...

... and millions of Americans about to lose their job (again), a new default wave is just waiting to be unleashed.

me title=

"Ending the $600 per week federal unemployment benefits will push tens of millions of Americans into, or uncomfortably close to, poverty. They won't have the money to buy billions of dollars worth of goods and services. As a result, the entire economy will suffer. Small businesses will continue to suffer the most because they're already precarious," said Robert Reich, Bill Clinton's labor secretary.

For now, the brunt of the default wave has been felt by oil and gas companies as low (and on one historic occasion, negative) crude prices crippled dozens of businesses. There have been 33 filings to date according to the Oil Patch Bankruptcy Monitor from Haynes and Boone, including Chesapeake, Whiting Petroleum and Diamond Offshore Drilling. There were only 14 last year.


While not quite as bad as the E&P sector, retail businesses with assets of more than $50MM have also been severely affected with 24 filing for bankruptcy, a three-fold jump from last year. They have been among the hardest hit by the government-mandated lockdowns, which prevented stores from opening and drove consumers to online retailers such as Amazon. Burdened by debts, some of which were built up under private equity ownership, several prominent retailers have been forced to file for Chapter 11.

Some of the most iconic names that have filed this year include Neiman Marcus, which struggled for years with a heavy debt burden from its 2005 leveraged buyout by TPG and Warburg Pincus, and which finally filed for bankruptcy in May with liabilities of $6.7bn. JCPenney, also saddled with billions in debt, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in May. Brooks Brothers, the venerable suit retailer that once counted Abraham Lincoln and John F Kennedy among its clients, did the same in July.

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"The Covid-19 pandemic is reshaping consumer buying habits. Therefore, we will continue to see large retail, energy, and transportation businesses taking advantage of the tools provided by a formal bankruptcy to restructure to be more profitable and competitive in the long term," said Deirdre O'Connor, managing director of corporate restructuring at legal services group Epiq.

And while several businesses tried to reopen in late May and June (and some amusingly tried to unfile for bankruptcy just so they were eligible for bailout loans), a recent flare-up in coronavirus cases and deaths in several US states choked the recovery, forcing many business owners to close again.

"It pains me to say this, but bankruptcy is a growth industry in America," New Generation's Schlafman dismally concluded.

[Aug 23, 2020] This week in Trumponomics -- The two market bubbles get bigger

Aug 23, 2020 | finance.yahoo.com

The last recession, from 2007 to 2009, was brutal because of twin crashes in both the financial and housing markets. The S&P 500 plunged 56% from top to bottom, and home values fell 27% . The daunting loss of wealth took years to recover and left prolonged scars on the U.S. economy.

The Federal Reserve wasn't about to let that happen again as the coronavirus pandemic began to explode in March, causing widespread business shutdowns and surging unemployment. Through a set of massive monetary stimulus programs , the Fed promptly reversed a stock-market slide that turned out to be the shortest bear market in recorded history . The Fed has also pushed borrowing rates to record lows, which is now fueling a boom in housing.

These twin bubbles are detached from what's happening in the real economy, where unemployed has nearly tripled, from 5.8 million workers in February to 16.3 million now. Most broad measures of economic activity show that the coronavirus recession bottomed out in May, with gradual progress since then. But we've only recovered about one-third of the jobs and output we've lost, and there's no sign of a quick improvement any time soon. A return to normal only seems possible once there's a widely available coronavirus vaccine, maybe within 9 or 12 months.

The Fed's aggressive action is a political lifeline to President Trump, who would have a far worse mess to explain to voters if the Fed weren't administering emergency CPR. As is, millions of Americans benefiting from the twin bubbles stoked by the Federal Reserve might feel okay. The S&P 500 set a record high this week , with the index now up 52% from its bear-market low on March 23. Many analysts say it makes no sense for stocks to be on a tear while the real economy is on its knees, but if you sold stocks today for a 51% gain that would be real money in your bank account. Those gains are largely due to the Fed goosing asset prices, but that doesn't make the money less real.

Homeowners are benefitting, too. Historically low mortgage rates pushed existing home sales to the highest level in 14 years this week. Sales of new homes are soaring, too, and the increased demand is pushing home values up.

This might seem unfair. The Fed's actions are benefiting shareholders and homeowners, who arguably need help least. But it's the usual trickle-down wait for families not lucky enough to own stocks or real estate. But for all its might, the Fed has limited power to reach into the economy and target aid beyond financial markets. That's Congress's job. And this economy would be dreadfully worse if the stock-market was down 30% or 40% and homeowners were losing equity rather than gaining it.

This week's Trump-o-meter reads WEAK, the third-lowest rating, which is an improving over the FAILING and SAD readings of the last several weeks.

Source: Yahoo Finance
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Trump still faces an uphill path to reelection, on account of his dismissive response to the coronavirus, which has kept the economy from entering the quick, V-shaped recovery he's hoping for. Democratic nominee Joe Biden leads Trump by 7.4 percentage points nationally , a larger edge than Hillary Clinton had over Trump at the same point in 2016. Biden's Democrats held a solid virtual convention this week, and Biden easily disproved Trump's claim that he's senile. Trump will now fill the airwaves with his own four-day nominating convention, though he could be upstaged by the mounting uproar at the postal service , the strange new indictment of his 2016 campaign manager Steve Bannon or some other brewing scandal.

With 10 weeks until the election, the economy shows halting progress, suggesting it may not be much better by the time voters cast their ballots. The Oxford Economics weekly economy tracker improved slightly this week, but initial unemployment claims once again shot past the startling 1 million level. In a new Yahoo Finance-Harris poll , 51% of respondents said they expect the economy to worsen within the next three months, while only 31% expect it to improve. Trump obviously hopes otherwise, and he will likely claim exaggerated progress as the election hits the home stretch. After all, look at that record stock market.

Rick Newman is the author of four books, including " Rebounders: How Winners Pivot from Setback to Success ." Follow him on Twitter: @rickjnewman . Confidential tip line: rickjnewman@yahoo.com . Encrypted communication available. Click here to get Rick's stories by email .

[Aug 23, 2020] The Tyranny Of Groupthink -

Aug 23, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

The Tyranny Of Groupthink


by Tyler Durden Sun, 08/23/2020 - 11:00 Twitter Facebook Reddit Email Print

Authored by David Stockman of Contra Corner blog , via LewRockwell.com ,

The broad market (S&P 500) is trading at the highest forward PE multiples since November 1999, but the financial press is rife with mendacious piffle claiming there is no bubble. For example, in celebration of Tuesday's all-time high on the S&P 500, one James Mackintosh of the Wall Street Journal minced no words:

Except, the Everything Bubble is in the imagination of the many investors complaining about it. First, it isn't everything. Second, it isn't a bubble .

Right. Supposedly, the above statement is true because energy sector stock prices are in the tank, but the market is being rationally led by the tech giants where allegedly solid prospects for earnings growth are being rewarded with higher PE multiples owing to ultra-low interest rates.

...Lower rates mean profits further in the future matter more to the share price , so companies with steady earnings no matter what the economy does are worth more. Those that are sensitive to the economy are worth less, because future earnings are expected to be hit. Growth stocks do incredibly well, because their future earnings are expected to be higher and, at least for those thought immune to economic weakness, worth more as well thanks to lower rates.

Apply this framework and there's no bubble. U.S. stocks are more highly valued than in the past because they are dominated by big growth stocks, themselves justifiably more highly valued thanks to low rates.

The sheer laziness and conformism of today's so-called financial journalists is a wonder to behold. When the leader of the tech growth stocks, Apple, crossed the $2 trillion market cap barrier for the first time today, thereby embodying more market cap than the entire Russell 2000 of small cap US companies, Mackintosh's colleague at the Wall Street Journal spewed the same groupthink:

The stock has more than doubled from its March 23 low, boosted by steady demand for the company's devices and better-than-feared results in its core iPhone business as millions of Americans work from home.

Steady sales growth is driving the string of achievements. Apple's sales rose to $260 billion in the fiscal year ended in September from $216 billion three years prior. The company has even grown sales during the pandemic: For the quarter ended in June, they rose 11% from a year earlier to nearly $60 billion, exceeding Wall Street expectations. Earnings surged to $11.25 billion.

Apple is not a growth stock. Period.

The three-year sales gain cited by the WSJ amounted to only 6.4% per annum, but also reflects what amounts to journalistic malpractice.

That's because the starting figure of $216 billion for Apple's FY 2016 sales actually reflected a 7.8% decline from sales of $234 billion in FY 2015. So the four-years growth rate of sales through FY 2019 was, well, a mere 2.67% per annum.

https://lockerdome.com/lad/13084989113709670?pubid=ld-dfp-ad-13084989113709670-0&pubo=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.zerohedge.com&rid=www.zerohedge.com&width=890

Likewise, the 11% sales gain during the June 2020 quarter versus prior year is completely misleading. During the past four quarters, the year-over-year sales gains have been all over the lot, posting at 10.9%, 1.0%, 8.8% and 1.8% respectively. Accordingly, for the LTM period ended in June, the sales gain was just 5.7% – hardly a barn-burning growth figure.

Likewise, the purported June quarter earnings "surge" to $11.25 billion was nothing of the kind. During the 2018 June quarter, for instance, net income posted higher at $11.52 billion . The surging at issue, therefore, was one of backward motion.

In fact, the only thing about Apple which has been in a growth mode during the last five years is the company's PE multiple, which has essentially doubled from 14X to 35X at today's record share price.

As to the actual 5-year trend of sales and earnings growth, not so much.

Back in June 2015 Apple was valued at $715 billion on the strength of its unparalleled tech product franchise, which was reflected in $224 billion of annual sales and $50.7 billion of LTM profits.

Still, there was a reason for the modest implied PE multiple of 14.1X : Namely, the tech behemoth's growth rate was rapidly slowing – freighted down by the inherent limits embedded in its enormous scale and the then modest expectations for earnings expansion in the immediate years ahead.

Those modest expectations were accurate. Five years later, the LTM figures for June 2020 came in at $273.9 billion of sales and $58.4 billion of net income.

Yes, the latter figure represents a lot of profits, but it embodies hardly a modicum of growth. In fact, Apple's five-year sales growth rate was just 4.1% , while its net income growth rate clocked in at only 2.9% per annum.

Moreover, there has been no recent growth spurt to accelerate these five-year trend rates of growth. The two-year growth rates are even slower, with sales posting at 3.6% per annum and net income rising by just 2.03% per year. Wiser: Getting Beyond ... Hastie, ReidBest Price: $1.07Buy New $14.14(as of 04:01 EDT - Details)

Needless to say, the doubling of Apple's PE multiple has nothing to do with its punk five-year net income growth rate of 2.9% per annum; it's about the Fed's radical repression of interest rate and the resulting diversion of trillions of borrowed capital into the inflation of risk asset capitalization rates.

Nor is Apple some kind of outlier, albeit it is the monster of the tech midway. Overall, the so-called Fab Five (Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook and Google) reflect the same multiple inflation story; and they are obviously the pile driver that is pushing the heavily ETF and indexer-driven stock market up into the nosebleed section of history.

Thus, back in June 2014, the Fab Five's combined market cap weighed-in at $1.63 trillion and accounted for 9.5% of the overall S&P 500's market cap of about $17.0 trillion .

Fast forward six years, and the Fab Five were valued at today's close at $7.1 trillion , which accounts for 26% of the $27.7 trillion total market cap of the S&P 500.

So, yes, the term "pile-driver" is probably an understatement. Fully 50% of the S&P 500's $10.7 trillion market cap gain since June 2014 is attributable to the Fab Five.

At the same time, the combined net income of the Fab Five has risen from $76.3 billion to $170.7 billion, meaning that the already frisky PE multiple of 21.4X for the group as a whole in June 2014 has now stands at 42.0X .

Obviously, averages can be misleading, but they do not lie. The composite net income growth rate of the Fab Five "growth stocks" has been just 14.4% over the past six years.

In a world which is literally unwinding at the seams owing to the Covid pandemic and a $260 trillion burden of debt, a valuation multiple equal to 42X or nearly three times the trailing growth rate makes no sense whatsoever.

That's because the James Mackintosh groupthink cited above is marred with a mighty flaw. To wit, you can't value earnings into the indefinite future owing to today's ultra-low interest rates that are definitely not sustainable.

The Fed's policy of radical interest rate repression simply defies the laws of finance and common sense because real yields are negative, and in the long-run negative real yields are an oxymoron.

The chart below is the smoking gun. Once upon a time there was meaningful daylight between the brown line (nominal yield on the benchmark 10-year UST) and the purple line (running inflation rate measured by the 16% trimmed mean CPI).

That is, even so-called risk-free US Treasury debt had a real yield of 200-400 basis points to account for taxes and a real return on investment.

But after the final leap into monetary madness commencing with the financial crisis of 2008-2009, the real yield had virtually disappeared; and then after the massive $3 trillion Fed bond-buying spree commencing in mid-March, the benchmark security of the entire global fixed income market went deeply negative in real terms.

As of the latest month, the running inflation rate clocked-in at 2.27% (June LTM) compared to an all-time low yield on the 10-year UST of 52 basis points a few weeks back.

Needless to say, when the real cost of risk-free benchmark debt is negative 175 basis points , you are not in an indefinitely sustainable steady state. You are actually courting financial disaster.

That's especially because fiscal policy in the US and elsewhere around the world has become completely unhinged.

So unless the Fed and other central banks continue their massive bond purchases in response to this tsunami of public debt, the bond pits are heading for a train-wreck some time soon; and if the central banks continue to print at current lunatic rates, the monetary system itself will go into meltdown.

Still, the misbegotten idea that the stock market isn't overvalued because bond prices have been massively inflated by central bank money-pumping is just one instance of the present tyranny of groupthink – called to attention by Apple's crossing the $2 trillion market cap barrier.

In fact, groupthink is omnipresent in the the mainstream narrative and so-called news. The nearly universal belief that the Covid-lockdowns were necessary and effective and that the coronavirus can be stopped by brute-force economic and social regimentation is another case in point – underscored by a new analysis of the Swedish outcome.

The mainstream narrative, of course, is that Sweden's no lockdown policy – the schools, restaurants, movies, gyms, malls etc. remained open – was a disastrous failure, thereby vindicating the universal quarantine approach of Dr. Fauci, Governor Cuomo and the rest of the Blue State Virus Patrol.

But that's based on the irrelevant observation that Sweden's overall WITH-Covid mortality rate of 56 per 100,000 is far higher than that of Norway, Finland and Denmark.

The truth is, Sweden's mortality rate happened in the long-term care facilities, where 75% of the country's 5,800 WITH-Covid deaths to date (August 18) have occurred, and which is neither here nor there when it comes to lockdowns of the non-elderly population.

Fortunately, a breakdown of Sweden's WITH-covid deaths by detailed age brackets is readily available and it puts the kibosh on Dr. Fauci's Lockdown Nation folly.

Number of WITH-Covid deaths/ Population/Rate per 100,000 by age cohort:

So, yes, Sweden has a WITH-Covid mortality rate of 56 per 100,000 for the entire country. But 26% of those deaths occurred among the population 90 years and older, which accounts for just 1.1% of Sweden's population.

Similarly, 67% of the deaths were among the population 80 years and older and 93% were among those aged 65 or more. By contrast, persons 65 and older account for just 19% of Sweden's population, and the preponderant share of the latter, who have suffered serious illness or death from the Covid, were already in long-term care facilities and programs. Nudge: Improving Decis... Richard H. Thaler, Cas...Best Price: $5.26Buy New $9.75(as of 09:25 EST - Details)

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Needless to say, locking down the schools, gyms, restaurants and malls does nothing for the institutionalized population of the vulnerable elderly and co-morbid. Sheltering and treating the latter in place, rather than quarantining the younger, healthier populations, is the self-evident answer.

Indeed, the virtue of Sweden's anti-lockdown strategy virtually screams out from the schedule above. Sweden did not close its schools, yet there has been just one WITH-Covid death among its 2.4 million school age children under 20 years.

Likewise, there have been just 71 deaths among its 4.0 million prime working and consuming age population (age 20-49). That's a rounding error mortality rate of 1.77 per 100,000. Who in their right mind would want to shutdown the economy based on such infinitesimal risks?

Stated differently, the risk of death from Covid in Sweden has been 720X higher for the largely institutionalized 90 and over population compared to the prime working age group (20-49 years); and has also been 157X higher for the entire population 65 and over than for prime workers and the population that is the preponderant patron of the social congregation sectors of the economy.

Fortunately, Sweden also has readily available data on normal, year-in-and-year-out mortality, which rate is about 862 per 100,000 for the total population. But when you breakdown these normal mortality rates by age cohort and cause of death, the insanity of Lockdown Nation become all the more apparent.

Specifically, there are about 3,429 deaths per year in Sweden from auto crashes, falls, drownings, electrocutions, poisonings and other accidents, and these account for about 4% of Sweden's 2019 death total from all causes of 89,000.

However, when you look at mortality rates per 100,000 from accidents alone, the starling result is that the existing risk of death from accidents is far higher than from the Covid for the entire 8.4 million population under 65 years of age, and for the young and middle-aged decidedly so.

Mortality rates per 100,000 for accidents versus Covid and ratio of accident/Covid risk:

In short, when the ordinary risk of death is 10-25X greater for accidents than from the Covid for the young and working population, you don't shutdown the economy and the main avenues of social congregation.

Due to enlightened leadership by Sweden's health professionals and leading epidemiologists, they got it right, and now both new cases and WITH-Covid deaths have virtually disappeared.

And that's to say nothing of the fact, that Sweden's Q2 GDP decline of just 8.6% was far better than the double digit declines in the US and most European countries, which imposed far more draconian lockdowns.

In America, by contrast, the tyranny of groupthink on the matter has become so great that college football and in-person college classes are being closed from coast-to-coast when the risk of serious illness or death among the college age population here, like in Sweden, is virtually nil. Roacheforque , 1 hour ago

It never ceases to amaze me what social media has revealed. 90% of people who use social media are FOLLOWERS. They may have original thoughts but are afraid to express them. So they copy and paste other people's thoughts as their own, to either intentionally or inadvertently encourage groupthink.

Social correctness, political correctness and the outrageous fear of 'being different" are a huge part of the reason as to why meritocracy, individualism and the freedoms and liberties that come with them, are under attack. It's presented as socialism or even collectivism, but it's really about conformity, obedience and fear.

In a word "disgusting" to the exceptional people who used to thrive in the merit-based, free market capitalist environment that is now being obliterated.

Salisarsims , 50 minutes ago

It's mostly sociopaths and psychopaths who thrive in capitalism, and there's nothing merit based to most of corporate America.

snatchpounder , 38 minutes ago

It's mostly sociopaths and psychopaths who thrive in politics, and there's nothing merit based to most of corporate America.

fify

worstpersonintheworld , 38 minutes ago

nah it's people with a functioning brain

Cluster_Frak , 8 minutes ago

I thought, it was all about being different among the liberal woke. However, the woke proved themselves to be nothing but Bolshevik Facist. You either must think what they think or you are discriminated against. It only took 10 years to reach a point of extreme intolerance.

NIRP_BTFD , 43 minutes ago

The power of propaganda. People overestimate covid death toll by a factor of 100. Btw not only in the UK.

UK public 'believe coronavirus death toll 100 times higher than it really is'

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/08/20/uk-public-believe-coronavirus-death-toll-100-times-higher-really/

[Aug 23, 2020] Glitzy Convention Conceals Neoliberal Tyranny that both parties support by Mike Whitney

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... The Guardian ..."
Aug 23, 2020 | www.unz.com

Here are a few takeaways from the Democratic Convention:

The Democrats are running on the same platform they ran on in 2016. The Democrats put style above substance, flashy optics above ideas or issues. The Democrats think that hollow tributes to "diversity" and "inclusion" will win the election. The Democrats have abandoned white, working class voters opting instead for people of color. The Democrats have learned nothing from Hillary Clinton's defeat in 2016.

In 2016, Democrat front-runner, Hillary Clinton lost the election because she failed to see her support was eroding in the key Rust Belt states of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. Trump won all three states with a measly 77, 651 votes total. All three states were expected to go Democrat but flipped to the GOP due to Clinton's support for free trade and immigration policies that cost jobs and imposed unwelcome demographic changes on the working people of those states. The Democrats and Hillary have never accepted the factual version of how the election was lost. Instead, they fabricated a conspiracy theory about Trump colluding with Russia. Although the Mueller Report proved that the claims of meddling were baseless, Clinton and the Dems continue to trot them out at every opportunity. On Tuesday at the convention, Hillary again reiterated the lie that Trump stole the election. She said:

"Vote like our lives and livelihoods are on the line, because they are. Remember: Joe and Kamala can win 3 million more votes and still lose. Take it from me. We need numbers so overwhelming Trump can't sneak or steal his way to victory."

The determination on the part of the Democrats to mischaracterize what actually happened in the election is not a trivial matter. It suggests that deception is central to their governing style. Party leaders do not think their supporters are entitled to know the truth but rather believe that events must be shaped in a way that best serves their overall political interests. For Democrats, lying is not a personal failing, but an opportunity for enhancing their grip on power. This is from an article in The Guardian:

"Donald Trump's electoral college victory rests on the shoulders of more than 200 so-called "pivot counties" across the US. That is, counties that voted for Barack Obama only four years earlier. The most decisive of these swings occurred in Pennsylvania's Luzerne county, nestled in the north-east part of the state There, voters gave Trump a nearly 20-point victory after going for Obama by almost 5% in 2012. But Trump's win in Luzerne was also noteworthy for its magnitude. His 26,000 vote plurality in Luzerne comprised almost three-fifths of his plurality in the state as a whole, and with it Pennsylvania's 20 coveted electoral votes ." (" The Forgotten review: Ben Bradlee Jr delivers 2020 lessons for Democrats" , The Guardian )

Critical battleground states tilted in Trump's favor because Democratic policies had decimated their communities and eviscerated their standard of living. Author Ben Bradlee Jr. explains this phenom in his book "The Forgotten" which should be required reading at the DNC. Here's a clip from the review at the Guardian:

"The Forgotten documents the ravages of deindustrialization, lost jobs, crime and drugs. It captures the sense of displacement tied to a changing and less monochromatic America. Once upon a time, Luzerne was home to coal and textiles, dominated by Protestants from Wales and Catholics from Ireland and continental Europe. Not any more. Luzerne is poorer and smaller, for many a less recognizable place. Not surprisingly, immigration and Nafta come in for constant criticism. " (The Guardian)

This is the real reason Hillary was defeated. Russia had nothing to do with it. The Dems abandoned the white working-class people who had always voted for them and began to cobble together their Rainbow coalition. When Hillary denounced these people as "Deplorables", it forced more of them to join Trump team. The rest is history. Here's more from the same article:

"In the absence of a recession, however, the party stands to face the same electoral map it did in 2016. In fact, Ohio now looks an even tougher nut to crack. Much as the Democratic base loathes the president, reality cannot be wished away. Luzerne would be a good place for the party to start addressing this reality. " ( The Guardian )

The point we're trying to make is that the effectiveness of the Democrat Convention can only be measured in terms of its impact on potential voters. So, why have the Dems shrugged off any effort to reach out to the people who could help them win?

It's not that complicated. The Dems are merely abandoning the people who, they believe, will leave anyway as their globalist economic agenda becomes more apparent putting more downward pressure on overall living standards. It's worth noting, that when Obama left office in 2016, this process was already well-underway. According to a Gallup poll, 71 percent of the people said they were dissatisfied with the way things were going. (in Obama's last year.) Only 27 percent said they're satisfied. So, even though Obama's personal approval ratings remained high, his handling of the economy was extremely unpopular. (except on Wall Street, of course.)

During this same period, the PEW Research Center conducted a survey titled: "Campaign Exposes Fissures Over Issues, Values and How Life Has Changed in the U.S" which showed why Trump was steadily gaining on Hillary. Here are a few excerpts from the report:

"Among GOP voters, fully 75% of those who support Donald Trump for the Republican presidential nomination say life for people like them has gotten worse "

"GOP voters who support Trump also stand out for their pessimism about the nation's economy and their own financial situations: 48% rate current economic conditions in the U.S. as "poor.

"Within the GOP, anger at government is heavily concentrated among Trump supporters – 50% say they are angry at government "

"Among Republicans, a majority of those who back Trump (61%) view the system as unfair among Trump supporters, 67% say trade agreements are bad thing "

"Half of Trump supporters (50%) say they are angry at the federal government . Anger at government – and politics – is much more pronounced among Trump backers than among supporters of any other presidential candidate, Republican or Democrat " (" Campaign Exposes Fissures Over Issues, Values and How Life Has Changed in the U.S ", PEW Research Center)

So, a higher percentage of Trump supporters think they are getting screwed-over by an unfair system. They think "free trade" only benefits the rich, they think the government is unresponsive to their needs, they think the system is rigged, and they're really, really mad.

So, which speaker at the Democrat Convention addressed the concerns or complaints of white working-class people who now almost-universally harbor these same feelings??

No one, because no one in the Democrat party plans to do anything about these issues, in fact, just the opposite. Now that the Dems have been subsumed by Wall Street and their big globalist donors, things are going to get dramatically worse for working people who will see a vicious attack on essential social services and programs as soon as the election is over. The massive build-up of debt– by mainly Democrat Governors who deliberately drove their states into bankruptcy at the behest of Fauci's Vaccine Gestapo– will now be met by a growing demand for austerity on a scale unlike anything we've experienced in the last century. The country is being prepared for an excruciating restructuring that will create a permanent underclass that will provide an endless source of sweatshop labor for the multinational carpetbaggers. Those jobs will likely go to members of the Dems rainbow coalition while white, working class people in America's heartland –with their strong sense of patriotism– will be seen as a potential threat to the emerging new order.

It's clear that the Dems anticipate resistance to their plan by the contemptible way they have branded struggling workers as "white nationalists" and "racists". But is it true or are the Democrats and their deep-pocket allies preemptively denigrating these people and supporting BLM rioters to head-off growing resistance to their strategy of total control through widespread mayhem, decimation of the economy and extermination of the American middle class? Author CJ Hopkins summed it up like this in a recent article at The Unz Review:

"What we are experiencing is not the "return of fascism." It is the global capitalist empire restoring order, putting down the populist insurgency that took them by surprise in 2016.

The White Black Nationalist Color Revolution, the fake apocalyptic plague, all the insanity of 2020 it has been in the pipeline all along. It has been since the moment Trump won the election. No, it is not about Trump, the man. It has never been about Trump, the man

GloboCap needs to crush Donald Trump not because he is a threat to the empire , but because he became a symbol of populist resistance to global capitalism and its increasingly aggressive "woke" ideology . It is this populist resistance to its ideology that GloboCap is determined to crush, no matter how much social chaos and destruction it unleashes in the process.. ." (" The White Black Nationalist Color Revolution" , CJ Hopkins, The Unz Review )

Bingo. It is the "populist resistance to global capitalism" that is the defacto enemy of the Party elite, the same elites who conspired with senior-level members of the Intelligence Community, the FBI, the DOJ and the Obama White House to spy on the Trump Campaign, infiltrate the presidential transition, and to try to topple the elected government. And while the coup plotters have still not been brought to justice, they are now within spitting distance of their ultimate objective, which is seizing executive power and using it to crush the fledgling opposition, impose a one-party system of government, and transform America into a corporate superstate ruled by Global Capital. Here's a clip from an article by Gary D. Barnett at Lew Rockwell:

"By the end of this next planned phase of the 'virus' scare, a global reset of the world economy will be ready to launch. This reset will be mammoth in scope, as everything we have known will be restructured. Those out of work in the final stage will most likely stay out of work, pushing the dependency state to new levels sought by the ruling class. Controlling the population will be a key component of the plan, including population size, birth rates, movement, and personal contact among individuals. The elimination of normal human interaction is sought, and this is only the beginning . The ultimate goal is total control, and every tool in the box of the tyrants will be used to gain that control. Restraint by the ruling class will be non-existent, as this staged reset is now going forward at a very accelerated pace." ( "The Economic Insanity of This Coronavirus Pandemic Plot and the Coming Global Reset ", Lew Rockwell )

The coup plotters have chosen the candidates they want to carry out the next phase of their operation. All they need now is to win the election.

[Aug 22, 2020] Looks like Milton Freedman is now a dirty word in the USA

Aug 22, 2020 | www.unz.com

Franz , says: August 21, 2020 at 7:25 am GMT

@ThreeCranes trol -- China had already agreed to play ball, but was still gathering the infrastructure. S. Korea and a few other nations took the work in the meantime.

Meantime, as Sam Francis (RIP) noted in the early nineties, Main Street USA turned into dollar stores and flea markets and retail dumps and fast food pits.

Yes, nations that make things control the future. They also develop consumer economies. Thus in a few more years stuff made in China be beyond the price range of the average American.

Milton and Chile: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/cifamerica/2010/mar/03/chile-earthquake

[Aug 21, 2020] Von Greyerz- Is COVID The Most Perfect Distraction- -

Aug 21, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Von Greyerz: Is COVID The Most Perfect Distraction? by Tyler Durden Thu, 08/20/2020 - 17:05 Twitter Facebook Reddit Email Print

Authored by Egon von Greyerz via GoldSwitzerland.com,

Is Covid the most perfect distraction that could have hit the world? The timing couldn't have been more perfect for the European and American economies. We know that there were major problems in the financial system back in August-September 2019 when both the ECB and the Fed declared that they would do what it takes. And since then we have seen massive injections of liquidity in the form of QE and Repos.

The world was never informed what the financial problems were but it is obvious that this was the hangover from the 2006-9 financial crisis which was never solved but just deferred with the help of unlimited money printing and credit expansion. There was clearly something rotten in the kingdom of the financial world.

So was it just coincidence that Coronavirus started spreading around the world in January-February this year in the middle of a serious crisis in the financial system? Throughout history, initiating a crisis has always been a popular remedy that leaders have applied to divert attention from the real problem whether it be political or financial.

The normal course of action would be a military conflict. This would both enable massive money printing and also alarming the people which would result in more votes for the ruling government.

The American writer Henry Louis Mencken understood the purpose of these actions:

I am not someone who subscribes to conspiracy theories. But however the Coronavirus started, the timing seems more than coincidental. CV has certainly diverted the attention away from the underlying problems in the financial system and undeniably seems like a hobgoblin. But whether it is a hobgoblin or not, it has allowed some governments around the world to blame it all on CV and run huge deficits combined with massive liquidity injections.

The coming likely implosion of the financial system and depression will for decades be blamed on a pandemic which was only a catalyst and never the cause of the fall of the global economy. The real cause is a rotten financial system and an unmanageable debt burden which I have discussed in many articles.

CORONAVIRUS – OUTCOME WORSE WITH AUTOCRATIC LEADERS

If we look at the effects of CV on various countries the differences are astounding. Sweden which has had virtually no lockdown saw an 8.6% fall in GDP in Q2. Much of the fall was due to lower exports as other countries bought less Swedish products. Switzerland which only has had a very limited lockdown had a 6.4% GDP fall in Q2.

If we then look at the two countries which have totally mismanaged the situation – USA and UK, the outcome is disastrous. US GDP fell 32.9% in Q2 and the UK GDP was down 20.4%.

(MIS-)MANAGEMENT OF CV

It is clear that the countries that have big ego autocratic leaders have fared the worst. Sweden and Switzerland have delegated the CV policy to health officials whilst in the US and UK much of the policy, or lack of, has come from the top.

Sadly the US and the UK have both had high numbers of CV cases and deaths. And in spite of major lockdowns, these two countries have seen a catastrophic decline in their economies, a fall which will take many years to recover from.

BEST RUN COUNTRIES HAVE BEST CORONA RECORD

It is clearly no coincidence that Sweden and Switzerland have strong and well managed economies also whilst the US and the UK are running big deficits and debts. And with the poor economic state of the two latter countries, their economies will continue to suffer badly. Personally I don't believe that there will be an effective vaccine for years or ever. Historically, any flu vaccine takes years to develop and is only effective in less than 30% of vaccinated people.

We are also seeing CV coming back in many countries that have lifted the lockdowns like for example Germany, Spain and France. Therefore it seems very likely that there will not be any major global recovery in 2021 either.

The biggest dilemma is that CV is not the real cause of the economic downturn but only the catalyst. As I explained above, the virus has allowed weak countries to print huge amounts of worthless money to prop up a financial system in an economy which was already on the verge of imploding before CV started. But fortunately for leaders such as Trump and Johnson they have been lucky to hide their ailing economies behind the CV curtain. So for them CV has been a very lucky excuse.

As the US, UK and many economies will be forced to continue or increase government handouts to suffering people and companies, all these countries' will fall further into the quagmire of debt, deficits and economic decline.

... ... ...

[Aug 20, 2020] In an era of fake news, can we trust the MSM polls that show Trump badly trailing Biden in the race for the US presidency by Robert Bridge

Notable quotes:
"... McLaughlin and Associates, a national survey research group requested by Trump to examine the findings, said the results were an effort on the part of "Democratic operatives" to "counter the enthusiasm of Trump voters." Meanwhile, the right-leaning polling agency, Rasmussen, reported that Trump enjoys a 44 percent approval rating, which reflects the usual margin of difference. ..."
"... At the same time, many people must be wondering how Joe Biden, 77, has been able to garner such glowing poll numbers. After all, when the former vice president finally ventured to speak in public after an 88-day disappearing act, it only served to make people question the possibility of his "cognitive decline," a subject the mainstream media seems unwilling to consider in any great depth. ..."
"... Although the United States has certainly suffered from a double whammy of Covid-19 and race riots, the situation does not appear to be as bleak as the media would have everyone believe. In May, for example, analysts expressed disbelief as the economy added 2.5 million jobs, with the unemployment rate declining to 13.3 percent from 14.7 percent. Market watchers had been anticipating a loss of 7.25 million jobs and an unemployment rate of 19.0 percent. Meanwhile, Wall Street continues to weather the storm. ..."
Jul 02, 2020 | www.rt.com

In an era of fake news, can we trust the MSM polls that show Trump badly trailing Biden in the race for the US presidency?

Consult just about any US media resource and a trend is quickly discernible: Donald Trump is sagging in popularity while his likely Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, soars like an eagle. Are these polls really to be believed?

Is there a conflict of interest greater than that of the US media conducting a public opinion poll on Donald J. Trump?

It appears to be a self-indulgent activity, a bit like climate change activists gathering opinions on the merits of air travel, for example, or a New York Yankees fan organizing a poll to determine who the best baseball player was, Babe Ruth or David Wright.

In other words, those asking the questions may be very tempted, in deference to their own prejudices, to get the answers they seek.

Perform a quick Google search on 'Trump poll numbers' and you will likely experience some deja vu. As in 2016, when the media showed Trump trailing far behind Hillary Clinton, the same media want us to believe that the presidential incumbent is now eating Joe Biden's dust on the road to the White House.

The New York Times, for example, in an opinion poll it conducted in cahoots with ultra-liberal Siena College, showed Biden ahead of Trump by 14 percentage points, pulling 50 percent of the vote compared with just 36 percent for the president.

In another survey, this one carried out by USA Today and Suffolk University, Trump garnered 41 percent to Biden's 53 percent. What the poll failed to say, however, is that in 2016, the editorial board at USA Today took the unprecedented step of taking sides in that year's presidential race, declaring Trump "unfit for the presidency."

Suffolk University, meanwhile, is situated in snobby Boston, Massachusetts, a formidable Democratic stronghold where Hillary Clinton secured 60 percent of the 2016 vote compared to Trump's 32.8 percent. No chance of bias there.

Then there was the poll by CNN, which Trump regularly slams as 'fake news,' where it was said that the incumbent leader was trailing Biden by a whopping 14 points. The Trump campaign, arguing that just 25 percent of the contacted respondents were Republican, condemned the survey as "defamatory, and misleading" with the goal of creating "an anti-Trump narrative."

McLaughlin and Associates, a national survey research group requested by Trump to examine the findings, said the results were an effort on the part of "Democratic operatives" to "counter the enthusiasm of Trump voters." Meanwhile, the right-leaning polling agency, Rasmussen, reported that Trump enjoys a 44 percent approval rating, which reflects the usual margin of difference.

It's important to note that the media, which has a snarling political dog in the Trump-Biden fight, follows up on its dubious polls with stories based on those very same polls. CNN, for example, aired a segment that asked, 'What would happen if Trump lost in November but refused to leave office?' Even Fox News, considered to be 'Trump friendly,' wondered if Trump would drop out of the race due to low poll numbers.

At the same time, many people must be wondering how Joe Biden, 77, has been able to garner such glowing poll numbers. After all, when the former vice president finally ventured to speak in public after an 88-day disappearing act, it only served to make people question the possibility of his "cognitive decline," a subject the mainstream media seems unwilling to consider in any great depth.

Although the United States has certainly suffered from a double whammy of Covid-19 and race riots, the situation does not appear to be as bleak as the media would have everyone believe. In May, for example, analysts expressed disbelief as the economy added 2.5 million jobs, with the unemployment rate declining to 13.3 percent from 14.7 percent. Market watchers had been anticipating a loss of 7.25 million jobs and an unemployment rate of 19.0 percent. Meanwhile, Wall Street continues to weather the storm.

In short, the country remains resilient in the face of unprecedented challenges, yet Trump's popularity continues to dwindle. Does the US leader have good reason to question the media-sponsored polls that show him in the basement, exactly where Joe Biden has been organizing his campaign from for months, or should the American people trust the findings?

Given the way the mainstream media has treated Trump over the course of his first term in office, it seems that whatever the media reports on the most divisive American president in living memory must be taken with a very generous handful of salt.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

READ MORE Robert Bridge is an American writer and journalist. He is the author of the book, 'Midnight in the American Empire,' How Corporations and Their Political Servants are Destroying the American Dream.

[Aug 19, 2020] Some Shocking Facts on the Concentration of Ownership of the US Economy

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the world has not seen these levels of concentration of ownership. The Soviet Union did not die because of apparent ideological reasons but due to economic bankruptcy caused by its uncompetitive monopolistic economy. Our verdict is that the US is heading in the same direction. ..."
"... In a future instalment of this report, we will show that the oligarchization of America – the placing it under the rule of the One Percent (or perhaps more accurately the 0.1%, if not 0.01%) - has been a deliberate ideologically driven long-term project to establish absolute economic power over the US and its political system and further extend that to involve an absolute global hegemony (the latter project thankfully thwarted by China and Russia). ..."
"... In present-day United States a few major investors – equity funds or private capital - are as a rule cross-owned by each other, forming investor oligopolies, which in turn own the business oligopolies. ..."
"... A study has shown that among a sample of the 1,500 largest US firms (S&P 1500), the probability of one major shareholder holding significant shares in two competing firms had jumped to 90% in 2014, while having been just 16% in 1999. (*2). ..."
"... Institutional investors like BlackRock, Vanguard, State Street, Fidelity, and JP Morgan, now own 80% of all stock in S&P 500 listed companies. The Big Three investors - BlackRock, Vanguard and State Street – alone constitute the largest shareholder in 88% of S&P 500 firms, which roughly correspond to America's 500 largest corporations. (*3). Both BlackRock and Vanguard are among the top five shareholders of almost 70% of America's largest 2,000 publicly traded corporations. (*4). ..."
May 19, 2019 | russia-insider.com

A close-knit oligarchy controls all major corporations. Monopolization of ownership in US economy fast approaching Soviet levels

Starting with Ronald Reagan's presidency, the US government willingly decided to ignore the anti-trust laws so that corporations would have free rein to set up monopolies. With each successive president the monopolistic concentration of business and shareholding in America has grown precipitously eventually to reach the monstrous levels of the present day.

Today's level of monopolistic concentration is of such unprecedented levels that we may without hesitation designate the US economy as a giant oligopoly. From economic power follows political power, therefore the economic oligopoly translates into a political oligarchy. (It seems, though, that the transformation has rather gone the other way around, a ferocious set of oligarchs have consolidated their economic and political power beginning from the turn of the twentieth century). The conclusion that the US is an oligarchy finds support in a 2014 by a Princeton University study.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the world has not seen these levels of concentration of ownership. The Soviet Union did not die because of apparent ideological reasons but due to economic bankruptcy caused by its uncompetitive monopolistic economy. Our verdict is that the US is heading in the same direction.

In a later report, we will demonstrate how all sectors of the US economy have fallen prey to monopolization and how the corporate oligopoly has been set up across the country. This post essentially serves as an appendix to that future report by providing the shocking details of the concentration of corporate ownership.

Apart from illustrating the monopolization at the level of shareholding of the major investors and corporations, we will in a follow-up post take a somewhat closer look at one particularly fatal aspect of this phenomenon, namely the consolidation of media (posted simultaneously with the present one) in the hands of absurdly few oligarch corporations. In there, we will discuss the monopolies of the tech giants and their ownership concentration together with the traditional media because they rightfully belong to the same category directly restricting speech and the distribution of opinions in society.

In a future instalment of this report, we will show that the oligarchization of America – the placing it under the rule of the One Percent (or perhaps more accurately the 0.1%, if not 0.01%) - has been a deliberate ideologically driven long-term project to establish absolute economic power over the US and its political system and further extend that to involve an absolute global hegemony (the latter project thankfully thwarted by China and Russia). To achieve these goals, it has been crucial for the oligarchs to control and direct the narrative on economy and war, on all public discourse on social affairs. By seizing the media, the oligarchs have created a monstrous propaganda machine, which controls the opinions of the majority of the US population.

We use the words 'monopoly,' 'monopolies,' and 'monopolization' in a broad sense and subsume under these concepts all kinds of market dominance be it by one company or two or a small number of companies, that is, oligopolies. At the end of the analysis, it is not of great importance how many corporations share in the market dominance, rather what counts is the death of competition and the position enabling market abuse, either through absolute dominance, collusion, or by a de facto extinction of normal market competition. Therefore we use the term 'monopolization' to describe the process of reaching a critical level of non-competition on a market. Correspondingly, we may denote 'monopoly companies' two corporations of a duopoly or several of an oligopoly.

Horizontal shareholding – the cementation of the oligarchy

One especially perfidious aspect of this concentration of ownership is that the same few institutional investors have acquired undisputable control of the leading corporations in practically all the most important sectors of industry. The situation when one or several investors own controlling or significant shares of the top corporations in a given industry (business sector) is referred to as horizontal shareholding . (*1). In present-day United States a few major investors – equity funds or private capital - are as a rule cross-owned by each other, forming investor oligopolies, which in turn own the business oligopolies.

A study has shown that among a sample of the 1,500 largest US firms (S&P 1500), the probability of one major shareholder holding significant shares in two competing firms had jumped to 90% in 2014, while having been just 16% in 1999. (*2).

Institutional investors like BlackRock, Vanguard, State Street, Fidelity, and JP Morgan, now own 80% of all stock in S&P 500 listed companies. The Big Three investors - BlackRock, Vanguard and State Street – alone constitute the largest shareholder in 88% of S&P 500 firms, which roughly correspond to America's 500 largest corporations. (*3). Both BlackRock and Vanguard are among the top five shareholders of almost 70% of America's largest 2,000 publicly traded corporations. (*4).

Blackrock had as of 2016 $6.2 trillion worth of assets under management, Vanguard $5.1 trillion, whereas State Street has dropped to a distant third with only $1 trillion in assets. This compares with a total market capitalization of US stocks according to Russell 3000 of $30 trillion at end of 2017 (From 2016 to 2017, the Big Three has of course also put on assets).Blackrock and Vanguard would then alone own more than one-third of all US publicly listed shares.

From an expanded sample that includes the 3,000 largest publicly listed corporations (Russell 3000 index), institutions owned (2016) about 78% of the equity .

The speed of concentration the US economy in the hands of institutions has been incredible. Still back in 1950s, their share of the equity was 10%, by 1980 it was 30% after which the concentration has rapidly grown to the present day approximately 80%. (*5). Another study puts the present (2016) stock market capitalization held by institutional investors at 70%. (*6). (The slight difference can possibly be explained by variations in the samples of companies included).

As a result of taking into account the common ownership at investor level, it emerges that the US economy is yet much more monopolized than it was previously thought when the focus had been on the operational business corporation alone detached from their owners. (*7).

The Oligarch owners assert their control

Apologists for monopolies have argued that the institutional investors who manage passive capital are passive in their own conduct as shareholders as well. (*8). Even if that would be true it would come with vastly detrimental consequences for the economy as that would mean that in effect there would be no shareholder control at all and the corporate executives would manage the companies exclusively with their own short-term benefits in mind, inevitably leading to corruption and the loss of the common benefits businesses on a normally functioning competitive market would bring.

In fact, there seems to have been a period in the US economy – before the rapid monopolization of the last decade -when such passive investors had relinquished control to the executives. (*9). But with the emergence of the Big Three investors and the astonishing concentration of ownership that does not seem to hold water any longer. (*10). In fact, there need not be any speculation about the matter as the monopolist owners are quite candid about their ways. For example, BlackRock's CEO Larry Fink sends out an annual guiding letter to his subject, practically to all the largest firms of the US and increasingly also Europe and the rest of the West. In his pastoral, the CEO shares his view of the global conditions affecting business prospects and calls for companies to adjust their strategies accordingly.

The investor will eventually review the management's strategic plans for compliance with the guidelines. Effectively, the BlackRock CEO has in this way assumed the role of a giant central planner, rather like the Gosplan, the central planning agency of the Soviet command economy.

The 2019 letter (referenced above) contains this striking passage, which should quell all doubts about the extent to which BlackRock exercises its powers:

"As we seek to build long-term value for our clients through engagement, our aim is not to micromanage a company's operations. Instead, our primary focus is to ensure board accountability for creating long-term value. However, a long-term approach should not be confused with an infinitely patient one. When BlackRock does not see progress despite ongoing engagement, or companies are insufficiently responsive to our efforts to protect our clients' long-term economic interests, we do not hesitate to exercise our right to vote against incumbent directors or misaligned executive compensation."

Considering the striking facts rendered above, we should bear in mind that the establishment of this virtually absolute oligarch ownership over all the largest corporations of the United States is a relatively new phenomenon. We should therefore expect that the centralized control and centralized planning will rapidly grow in extent as the power is asserted and methods are refined.

Most of the capital of those institutional investors consists of so-called passive capital, that is, such cases of investments where the investor has no intention of trying to achieve any kind of control of the companies it invests in, the only motivation being to achieve as high as possible a yield. In the overwhelming majority of the cases the funds flow into the major institutional investors, which invest the money at their will in any corporations. The original investors do not retain any control of the institutional investors, and do not expect it either. Technically the institutional investors like BlackRock and Vanguard act as fiduciary asset managers. But here's the rub, while the people who commit their assets to the funds may be considered as passive investors, the institutional investors who employ those funds are most certainly not.

Cross-ownership of oligarch corporations

To make matters yet worse, it must be kept in mind that the oligopolistic investors in turn are frequently cross-owned by each other. (*11). In fact, there is no transparent way of discovering who in fact controls the major institutional investors.

One of the major institutional investors, Vanguard is ghost owned insofar as it does not have any owners at all in the traditional sense of the concept. The company claims that it is owned by the multiple funds that it has itself set up and which it manages. This is how the company puts it on their home page : "At Vanguard, there are no outside owners, and therefore, no conflicting loyalties. The company is owned by its funds, which in turn are owned by their shareholders -- including you, if you're a Vanguard fund investor." At the end of the analysis, it would then seem that Vanguard is owned by Vanguard itself, certainly nobody should swallow the charade that those funds stuffed with passive investor money would exercise any ownership control over the superstructure Vanguard. We therefore assume that there is some group of people (other than the company directors) that have retained the actual control of Vanguard behind the scenes (perhaps through one or a few of the funds). In fact, we believe that all three (BlackRock, State Street and Vanguard) are tightly controlled by a group of US oligarchs (or more widely transatlantic oligarchs), who prefer not to brandish their power. It is beyond the scope of this study and our means to investigate this hypothesis, but whatever, it is bad enough that as a proven fact these three investor corporations wield this control over most of the American economy. We also know that the three act in concert wherever they hold shares. (*12).

Now, let's see who are the formal owners of these institutional investors

In considering these ownership charts, please, bear in mind that we have not consistently examined to what degree the real control of one or another company has been arranged through a scheme of issuing different classes of shares, where a special class of shares give vastly more voting rights than the ordinary shares. One source asserts that 355 of the companies in the Russell index consisting of the 3000 largest corporations employ such a dual voting-class structure, or 11.8% of all major corporations.

We have mostly relied on www.stockzoa.com for the shareholder data. However, this and other sources tend to list only the so-called institutional investors while omitting corporate insiders and other individuals. (We have no idea why such strange practice is employed

[Aug 19, 2020] Here's a short video explaining how the Democratic Party nomination process works

See the original for video https://twitter.com/i/status/1295905252386861056
Aug 19, 2020 | twitter.com

Brianna Westbrook @BWestbrookAZ8

Brianna Westbrook @BWestbrookAZ8 Yes, @AOC seconded the nomination for Bernie Sanders for President.

Here's a short video explaining how the Democratic Party nomination process works. #DemConvention 10:07 PM · Aug 18, 2020 · Twitter for iPhone 492 Retweets and comments

[Aug 19, 2020] American imperialism vs. EU imperialism: Pushed into the Ukrainian adventure by the US? Rubbish. The EU and its constituent members were attempting to play their own hand and were not merely following the US lead submissively.

Highly recommended!
Aug 19, 2020 | turcopolier.typepad.com

likbez , 17 August 2020 at 11:05 AM

IMO NATO should have ended with the fall of the USSR. It now "confronts" a largely imaginary threat, concocted for the purpose of maintaining the status quo in US government expenditures for defense and supporting the imperial dreams of the neocons.

Does anyone really think Russia is going to invade the Baltics? Really?


Hear! Hear!
blue peacock , 17 August 2020 at 11:20 AM

Col. Lang,

Isn't the western alliance for all intents & purposes already dead?

It is a shame as it could work together to counter the totalitarian CCP. But Mama Merkel it seems would rather get a few yuan from the communists and turn a blind eye to CCP authoritarianism until it becomes obvious that the CCP are ruthless and will be competing with Germany around the world for machine tools and autos by undercutting them on price and heavily subsidizing their companies until German industry is destroyed.

Barbara Ann , 17 August 2020 at 11:57 AM

I have heard of these elusive creatures called "Europeans", but have yet to meet one, so am not able to comment on their alleged "smug superiority". How many divisions do they have?

JohnH , 17 August 2020 at 01:13 PM

If anything drives the US and Europe apart, it will be trade, not security. Germany is clearly chafing under the US bit, which sacrifices European industry to US interests -- sanctions on Nordstream 2, trade with Russia, trade with Iran, and China and Huawei. The US clearly prioritizes it's own LNG , finance, technology and arms industries over European prosperity. It amazes me that it has taken Europe so long to wake up.

Biden will do nothing to change that dynamic, since he is beholden to the same interests as Trump.

james , 17 August 2020 at 01:36 PM

nato is an anachronism much like a lot of western type institutions today..

i am predicting a trump win via the astro...

srw , 17 August 2020 at 01:58 PM

Does anyone really think Russia is going to invade the Baltics? The Baltics and most likely the Poles do with past history in mind. I would like to see them and the Ukrainians transition into something like the Finns who acknowledge Russian power but maintain their independence. Right now they are looking at NATO as their guarantee of independence in the future. Who can blame them when looking at history.

Polish Janitor , 17 August 2020 at 03:28 PM

Col. Lang,

The Trump admin's (and for that matter, Trump's own instincts) are and have continuously been quite correct with regards to EU's defense expenditures agenda. The European 'humanists' take advantage of the American defense umbrella inside their own countries so they can afford to NOT spend on defense and instead spend more on domestic and economic development. So while America continues to pay for the EU's defense it cannot afford to invest in its own domestic programs (infrastructure, etc.) adequately. These Europeans then with the collaboration of their Atlanticist fellows on the other side of the pond do nation-building and democratization projects (call it endless wars) abroad, such as in Afghanistan. Just don't ask them about their track record in this department.

However, the thing is when their immediate interests are in danger they forget about America in a heartbeat. Examples, Germany's Nordstream pipeline with Russia, 5G infrastructure and development, trade with China, Paris climate accord, etc.

I tend to believe that EU knows best how to make an existential threat out of Russia. Anyone still remembers the novichok incident back in 2018? The thing with Russia is that from the POV of EU, they view their Eastern neighbor as a solid and stable illiberal system that is not within the ideological orbit of the western liberal democracy and thus they feel threatened by that ideologically, NOT a scenario in which from Tallinn to Toulouse is invaded and captured by Putin. In this endeavor they also have found willing partners in 'anti-authoritarian' hawks such as Bob Kagan, Hilary, Sam Power et.al that tow the same line and advocate for NATO expansion and other similar projects.

The EU in definitely terrified of a scenario in which the U.S. (under a nationalist conservative administration) starts de-funding NATO or withdraws its troops from Europe. In this case they need to cut public spending and allocate more on defense which has a clear impact on the 'democratic spirit' of EU's over-hyped social democracy.

In the past few years we have seen the rise of right-wing populsit nationalist parties in pretty much every single major EU country. I believe there are strong tendencies in the Trump admin-if DJT manages to stay in power for another 4 years- to do a little *something something* about EU's decades-long nefarious free-riding of U.S. defense umbrella and I don't think the effeminate EU leaders will gonna like it very much.

English Outsider , 17 August 2020 at 04:31 PM


Barbara Ann - You say "I have heard of these elusive creatures called "Europeans", but have yet to meet one, so am not able to comment on their alleged "smug superiority". How many divisions do they have?"

The term "European" has become disputed territory. As an Englishman I regard myself fully as "European" as any German or Frenchman but for many the term now seems to mean exclusively "Member of the European Union". Tricky, that one.

Me, I prefer the term "Westerner". It takes in the so-called "Anglosphere" as well and therefore covers all the ground without going into the fact that some parts have become considerably less powerful over the last century and others considerably more. Also accommodates without fuss the fact that the cultural centre of gravity, at some indeterminate time in that last century, moved across from Paris, Vienna and Berlin to New York and parts west.

Not always to your advantage, to you as an American that is, because a fair chunk of the Frankfurt mob moved over your way with it. You caught from Old Europe the destructive and vacuous tenets of "Progressivism" and are now sharing the disease in its full vigour with us.

I mention that last because the violent TDS you see across the Atlantic isn't specifically European. It's merely that it's natural for progressives to detest Trump or rather, not the man himself but the "populist" forces he is taken to represent. It's garlic to the vampire for the progressive, the Little House on the Prairie or its various European equivalents, and the allergic reaction will become stronger yet. That "smug superiority" you will therefore find in the States as readily as you will find it here. America or here we live on sufferance in occupied territory, if we are not progressives ourselves, and should not the occupiers always be superior and smug?

I went hunting for the Telegraph article the Colonel discusses above. I didn't like that article at all. It gets the "freeloading" part right but in the context of a Russophobia that's seemingly set in stone. And the Telegraph is not so much a progressive newspaper as one that, while throwing a few token bones to its mainly Conservative readership, buys the progressive Weltanschauung just as much as the Guardian or New York Times.

"How many divisions do they have?" A few more than the pope but maybe that's not the point. I recently tried to follow the twists and turns of Mrs May's negotiations with the EU as they related to defence. I got the impression that in the matter of defence the supply of divisions could safely be left to the Americans. It was the allocation of defence contracts that they were all concerned about.

Deap , 17 August 2020 at 04:46 PM

Residing in Europe in the late 1960's at a US joint NATO military attachment in Northern Italy, we mused were we there to keep our eye on the Russians, or in fact keep our eyes on the Germans. One still saw in the back rooms, AXIS memorabilia.

As an aside: the only reason Michelle Obama chose as one of her FLOTUS projects - support of military families -- was so she could get Uncle Sam to jet her around to all those US military bases still in Europe for tea with the commander's wife and then on to her real purpose - shopping and having fun with friends and families she was able to drag along. On our dime.

Deap , 17 August 2020 at 04:53 PM

My last visit to Europe found there are now more Turks, than former "Europeans; except in France where they were more Algerians, than native French. And of course UK has long been little more than the entrenched polyglot of their vast far flung Empire.

Indeed, who is a "European" today. Birth rate demographics from the former colonies, boat people or import of cheap labor has now taken over anything we used to call "European". Can a resident Turk really serve up a perfect plate of raclette in Switzerland? One word answer: no. And that is a sad loss. One must instead shift their tastes to shwarma, if one wants European food today.

Diana Croissant , 17 August 2020 at 06:19 PM

In regard to Europeans--and perhaps some Australians whom I've met--I have often felt that they in some ways did feel a bit superior to Americans.

Their sense of superiority, however, seemed more rooted in a sense of cultural superiority. Those on the blog who viewed the comic rendition of the Three Little Pigs that was recently posted here might think of that and its wonderful ending about the house that was "American made." it was a wonderful ending for that well-known tale and a great defense of our culture's current limited and plain vocabulary in some groups.

As an English major and English teacher, so much of the great literature that we taught did come from England. I took three Comps when I earned my Masters: English literature from Beowulf (which I read in Old English) to Chaucer's Catterbury Tales (which I read in Middle English) and then to Virginia Woolf.

For my comp in American literature, I read from Washington Irving to the modern American writers at the time I was in college.

My third comp was in Modern Linguistic Theory.

Of course we taught Shakespeare and Dickens---English writers--to our junior high and high school classes. We studied mostly American writers in regard to short stories, as short stories are considered the American genre. Our teaching of poetry covered both English and American poets. As far as novels go, we taught both English and American novels.

Russian and German novelists were also on our list of reading for our comps. (We read them in English translation.)

In summary, American culture was often overshadowed by the many longer centureies of European culture in much of my college career.

What the Europeans can't deny, though they may want to, is that the tehcology and innovation in things like automobile production, electricity, telephones, and into space expoloration ---many things like that--is where we can indeed be quite proud.

They can continue to feel culturally superior to us if it makes them feel better. I defy them, however, to minimize our importance in World War II.

Babak makkinejad , 17 August 2020 at 11:24 PM

Deap

A European was understood, in Iran, to be a Christian. A Turk in Germany or and Algerian in France is just that, a Turk, an Algerian, i.e. another Muslim.

There are professional and managerial middle class French Muslims in Paris and elsewhere, but are they French? I do not know how assimilated they are.

Mathias Alexander , 18 August 2020 at 03:01 AM

" he will follow some Trump-era objectives, because that is what American interests demand, thus showing that Trump was no extremist on China."
So if Biden and Trump both want something, that shows that it isn't extreme. How does that work again?
The drive for confrontation with Russia contradicts Europe's desire to do buisness with her. Hence the end of the Western Alliance.

Mathias Alexander , 18 August 2020 at 04:18 AM

"The US faces a rapidly escalating political crisis. The losing party in November will undoubtedly go to the federal courts to claim that their opponents cheated in the process."
They all went along with electronic voting and postal ballots. Now they're all going to complain about the consequences.

Paco , 18 August 2020 at 04:43 AM

Of course NATO should have disappeared together with the Berlin Wall, but it is alive, kicking and ever looking for trouble, Belarus comes to mind.
The problem with propaganda is that the emitter ends up believing it, Europe does not need any protection, we have the means to protect ourselves.
The US is an occupation force, and on top of it demands payment for it. Pick up your gear and go home, and by the way, Europe should worry about countries armed to their teeth by the US, I'm thinking about Morocco for instance, since I live in Spain. The beautiful line of the Sierra that I contemplate every morning while stretching has been contaminated with a radar station of the Aegis system, and that means we in our quite and beautiful Andalusian town are a target for the biggies. Stop believing your propaganda, pick up your gear and let everybody take care of themselves, the benefits will be for the US population in the first place, and the world will rejoice.

A.I.S. , 18 August 2020 at 06:20 AM

The reason German military contribution to the "western alliance" is what it is is very simple.
It is according to the incentives that threats that German leadership perceives.

First: Objective strategic things:
Essentially, noone is going to invade Germany. This removes one major reason to have a large army. Secondly, Germany is not going to productively (in terms of return of investment) invade anyone else. This removes the second major reason to have a large army. There is something to be said to have a cadre army that can be surged into a real army if conditions change.

Second: Incentives of German political leaders.
While the degree of German vassal stateness concerning the USA is up to a degree of debate, that the USA has a lot of influence over Germany is in my view not. Schröder got elite regime changed over his Iraq war opposition (it was amazing that literally all the newspaper were against him, had a big impact on me growing up during this time).
Essentially, if you are in Nato, at some point, Uncle Sam will invite you to some adventure. If you say yes to this adventure you commit your armed forces to some confrontation in the middle east if you are lucky, or against Russia in Eastern Europe if you are unlucky. Your population is not going to like this, and you may face losing elections over this. It is also expensive in terms of life and material (although not very expensive compared to actual wars against competent enemies).
If you say no, Uncle Sam will be displeased with you and will make this known for example by sicking the entire "Transatlantic leadership networks" on you, which can also make you lose the next election.

Essentially, if Uncle Sam comes asking, you lose the next election if you say yes, and you also lose if you say no. Saying no is on balance cheaper, because you dont incurr the financial and human costs of joing a random US adventure on top of the risk of losing the next election.
The winning play is to get your army in such a state that Uncle Sam will not even ask.

Germany basically did create condition that enabled this.
Its a reasonably happy state for Germany to be in.

We are basically doing Brave Soldier Schweijk on the national level.

Solutions from a US pov:

1: Do less military adventures. If you do less adventures, people will fear being shanghaied along less. This will decrease the drawbacks associated with having a reasonable military as a Nato state.

2: Dont soft regime change governments that say no to your foreign adventures. Instead, maybe listen to them. Had the US listend to French and German criticism regarding the wisdom of going to war with Iraq, the US and also a lot of others would have been much better off.

3: Make it clear that particpation in foreign adventures is actually voluntary instead of "voluntary", make also clear that participation in defensive operations is not voluntary and is what Nato was created for and that you expect a considerable contribution towards this. Also, do some actual exercises. For example, if Germany claims that its military expenditure is sufficient, stress test this premise by having a realistic exercise in which a German divisions goes up against an American one. Yes, do some division size exercizes pretty please. Heck, after ensuring that this exercize wont be a failfest, have some Indian be the referee.

Barbara Ann , 18 August 2020 at 08:03 AM

Territoriality European Outsider

Now we are getting to the heart of the matter. My jest about never having met a European was of course designed to illustrate that "Europe" is a secondary construct. Never has a person, upon meeting me, introduced themselves as a "European".

Europe is a moveable feast and even territorial definitions are slippery. "Europeans" I think, must be characterized by short memories, for was it not less than 25 years ago that European NATO planes bombed their fellow Europeans in Bosnia? It can't have been an accident either, as I understand the op. was called "Operation Deliberate Force".

If Europe is synonymous with the EU it has precisely zero divisions and though you yourself may remain "Western", you are as a consequence of Brexit no longer "European". No, I think you and Polish Janitor are close by identifying "European" as a progressive/liberal, democratic (read "globalist") value system. An insufficiency of "European-ness" can thus be used to justify NATO involvement across various geographies - from Bosnia to Afghanistan (& shortly Belarus?).

But of course the "European" members of NATO are hardly on the same page. It looks not at all unlikely that two of its members may go to war in the Eastern Mediterranean.

I agree with you re the Telegraph article btw. "European" smugness is well represented in that organ.

nbsp; turcopolier , 18 August 2020 at 08:21 AM

Mathias Alexander

No. They did NOT all go along with "electronic voting and postal ballots." The 50 states each run federal elections in any way they please. The US Constitution requires that. There are a wide variety of voting machines in use and only a few states use mailed in ballots. the Republican Party particularly opposes mail in voting.

Barbara Ann , 18 August 2020 at 09:28 AM

Darn spellchecker "Territorially" of course EO.

I should also have added that "European" by the above definition is pretty much synonymous with "Atlanticist".

Jack , 18 August 2020 at 12:54 PM

Paco,

You should be complaining to the politicians you elect. They're the ones requesting US military protection. Prior to Trump, our governments were quite happy to provide that protection. He's now asking for some cost sharing.

Be careful though, before you know it Spain could become a vassal of the Chinese communists as many countries in Africa are finding out now. Hopefully you can continue to extract euros from the Germans and Dutch while battling the separatists in Catalonia. There's a thin veneer between stability & strife.

Deap , 18 August 2020 at 01:01 PM

Paco, with a huge cost of lives and treasure the US was twice asked to clean up Europe's self-inflicted messes in the past century. Promise you won't call on us again, and we can talk. I know, past is not necessarily prologue but do at least meet us half way. It is only good manners.

English Outsider , 18 August 2020 at 01:17 PM


Barbara Ann - Lots of Europes of course. "My" Europe may no longer be on the active list. Traces here and there. Few green shoots that are visible to me. Many rank growths overlaying it.

Also many "European Unions". They exist all right, in uneasy company.

So many "EU's". A ramshackle Northern European trading empire - I think that's too unstable to be long for this world but I could be wrong. A nascent superpower, that denied by many but for some their central aim.

A bureaucratic growth. A handy market place for all. A Holocaust memorial centre; when the EU politicians find themselves in a tight spot they can always call on Auschwitz and all fall back in line. I saw Mrs Merkel pull that trick at the last but one Munich Security Conference and all there, because Mrs Merkel was at that time in a very tight spot, applauded with relief.

A Progressive Shangri-La, all the more enticing for never being defined. Those adherents of that "EU" do actually call themselves "EU citizens" and I see the term is becoming more common usage. Maybe those are the self proclaimed "European citizens" you have not met.

And the producer of reams of lifeless prescription that seek to force all into the same mould and tough on the poor devils who can't fit the model. And on their families.

Lots of "EU's". I like none of them. While we wait for that edifice of delusion to collapse I hope the damage it does to "My" Europe is not irreparable.

Artemesia , 18 August 2020 at 02:26 PM

@ Diana Croissant: "They can continue to feel culturally superior to us if it makes them feel better. I defy them, however, to minimize our importance in World War II."

What an unfortunate conclusion to your essay.


Paco , 18 August 2020 at 05:47 PM

Jack, with all due respect, the politician who committed treason and gave away Spanish territory for a foreign power to install bases died in 1975, nobody voted for him, general Franco, an ally of Hitler, someone who sent over 50k troops to the siege of Leningrad, one of the greatest crimes in the history of mankind, a million casualties, mainly civilians, dead by hunger and disease, that fascist ally of Hitler we had to endure for 40 years, the price to close your eyes and your nose not to smell the stench were bases, an occupying force watching one of the strategic straights in Rota, close to Gibraltar, plus other bases inland. I could go on, and remind you of 4H bombs dropped over Palomares after a broken arrow incident, one of them broke and plutonium is still poisoning an area that your government is not willing to clean. So that is what foreign occupation looks like, if something goes wrong, well, we are protecting you . they say. History should be taught with a bit more detail in the USA.

English Outsider , 18 August 2020 at 06:35 PM

A.I.S

I'm afraid you're reading the dynamics of the European/US relationship quite incorrectly. Bluntly, you have the facts wrong.

This site, and particularly the Colonel's committee of correspondence, is packed with experts who have lived in this field and know their way around it. So I don't venture a comprehensive rebuttal myself - my knowledge is partial and I do not have the background to be sure of getting it dead right. But here -

"Essentially, if you are in Nato, at some point, Uncle Sam will invite you to some adventure. If you say yes to this adventure you commit your armed forces to some confrontation in the middle east if you are lucky, or against Russia in Eastern Europe if you are unlucky."

That is transparent nonsense.

Obama has stated that it was the Europeans, including the UK, who pushed him into some middle East interventions. I don't think he was shooting a line. The leaked Blumenthal emails confirm that and we merely have to look at the thrust of French military actions to understand that the French in particular push continually for intervention in the ME.

They are still doing so, and not for R2P purposes. They would see the ME and parts of Africa as part of the EU sphere of influence and their initial reaction to Trump's abortive attempt to withdraw from Syria shows they would be more than prepared to go it alone there if they could.

A squalid bunch, and here I must include my own country in that verdict. Reliant on US logistics and military strength they seek to pursue their own interests and could they but do so they would do so unassisted. Don't pretend that it's the Americans who force them into these genocidal adventures.


As for the Ukraine, we see from Sakwa's unflattering study of the EU adventure there that that was building up well before 2014. The dramatic rejection of the EU deal was the prelude to the coup. The Ashton tape shows an astonishing degree of EU intervention in Ukrainian internal affairs before that coup. And from the Nuland tape we get a glimpse of the EU regime change project that shows it was deeply implicated.

Pushed into the Ukrainian adventure by the US? Rubbish. The EU and its constituent members were attempting to play their own hand and were not merely following the US lead submissively.

We hear little of European neocon ventures. But what little has surfaced about them shows that your picture of peace loving Europeans dragged into these conflicts by an overbearing "Uncle Sam" is dishonest and misleading.

So I tell my German friends and relatives when they push the same line. They look at me with disbelief and go off and hunt around the internet themselves. And then come back and do not disagree. I suggest you do the same. The facts are all there, even for those of us without inside knowledge or who lack the requisite background.

[Aug 19, 2020] When I lived in Europe it seemed like all the post offices had banks which offered basic services like checking and savings. They should do that here.

Aug 19, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com


play_arrow


invention13 , 2 hours ago

When I lived in Europe it seemed like all the post offices had banks which offered basic services like checking and savings. They should do that here.

seryanhoj , 2 hours ago

They have a simple ' people's ' banking system for people that don't feel up to going to to one if the majors, and probably deal in small smounts.

The same system handles distributions from the various social schemes. Also they give low or no cost access to buy government securities, and savings schemes. It sound a bit 'Big Brover' , but in practice it feels good.

Demeter55 , 46 minutes ago

You are threatening the banksters! They need every last penny!

[Aug 08, 2020] Russia-China -Dedollarization- Reaches -Breakthrough Moment- As Countries Ditch Greenback For Bilateral Trade -

Aug 08, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Russia-China "Dedollarization" Reaches "Breakthrough Moment" As Countries Ditch Greenback For Bilateral Trade by Tyler Durden Thu, 08/06/2020 - 21:55 Twitter Facebook Reddit Email Print

Late last year, data released by the PBOC and the Russian Central Bank shone a light on a disturbing - at least, for the US - trend: As the Trump Administration ratcheted up sanctions pressure on Russia and China, both countries and their central banks have substantially "diversified" their foreign-currency reserves, dumping dollars and buying up gold and each other's currencies.

Back in September, we wrote about the PBOC and RCB building their reserves of gold bullion to levels not seen in years. The Russian Central Bank became one of the world's largest buyers of bullion last year (at least among the world's central banks). At the time, we also introduced this chart.

We've been writing about the impending demise of the greenback for years now, and of course we're not alone. Some well-regarded economists have theorized that the fall of the greenback could be a good thing for humanity - it could open the door to a multi-currency basket, or better yet, a global current (bitcoin perhaps?) - by allowing us to transition to a global monetary system with with less endemic instability.

Though, to be sure, the greenback is hardly the first "global currency".

Falling confidence in the greenback has been masked by the Fed's aggressive buying, as central bankers in the Eccles Building now fear that the asset bubbles they've blown are big enough to harm the real economy, so we must wait for exactly the right time to let the air out of these bubbles so they don't ruin people's lives and upset the global economic apple cart. As the coronavirus outbreak has taught us, that time may never come.

But all the while, Russia and China have been quietly weening off of the dollar, and instead using rubles and yuan to settle transnational trade.

Since we live in a world where commerce is directed by the whims of the free market (at least, in theory), the Kremlin can just make Russian and Chinese companies substitute yuan and rubles for dollars with the flip of a switch: as Russian President Vladimir Putin once exclaimed , the US's aggressive sanctions policy risks destroying the dollar's reserve status by forcing more companies from Russia and China to search for alternatives to transacting in dollars, if for no other reason than to keep costs down (international economic sanctions can make moving money abroad difficult).

In 2019, Putin gleefully revealed that Russia had reduced the dollar holdings of its central bank by $101 billion, cutting the total in half.

https://lockerdome.com/lad/13084989113709670?pubid=ld-dfp-ad-13084989113709670-0&pubo=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.zerohedge.com&rid=www.zerohedge.com&width=890

And according to new data from the Russian Central Bank and Federal Customs Service, the dollar's share of bilateral trade between Russia and China fell below 50% for the first time in modern history.

Businesses only used the greenback for roughly 46% of settlements between the two countries. Over the same period, the euro constituted an all-time high of 30%. While other national currencies accounted for 24%, also a new high.

As one 'expert' told the Nikkei Asian Review, it's just the latest sign that Russia and China are forming a "de-dollarization alliance" to diminish the economic heft of Washington's sanctions powers, and its de facto control of SWIFT, the primary inter-bank messaging service via which banks move money from country to country.

The shift is happening much more quickly than the US probably expected. As recently as 2015, more than 90% of bilateral trade between China and Russia was conducted in dollars.

Alexey Maslov, director of the Institute of Far Eastern Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences, told the Nikkei Asian Review that the Russia-China "dedollarization" was approaching a "breakthrough moment" that could elevate their relationship to a de facto alliance.

"The collaboration between Russia and China in the financial sphere tells us that they are finally finding the parameters for a new alliance with each other," he said. "Many expected that this would be a military alliance or a trading alliance, but now the alliance is moving more in the banking and financial direction, and that is what can guarantee independence for both countries."

Dedollarization has been a priority for Russia and China since 2014, when they began expanding economic cooperation following Moscow's estrangement from the West over its annexation of Crimea. Replacing the dollar in trade settlements became a necessity to sidestep U.S. sanctions against Russia.

"Any wire transaction that takes place in the world involving U.S. dollars is at some point cleared through a U.S. bank," explained Dmitry Dolgin, ING Bank's chief economist for Russia. "That means that the U.S. government can tell that bank to freeze certain transactions."
The process gained further momentum after the Donald Trump administration imposed tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars worth of Chinese goods. Whereas previously Moscow had taken the initiative on dedollarization, Beijing came to view it as critical, too.

"Only very recently did the Chinese state and major economic entities begin to feel that they might end up in a similar situation as our Russian counterparts: being the target of the sanctions and potentially even getting shut out of the SWIFT system," said Zhang Xin, a research fellow at the Center for Russian Studies at Shanghai's East China Normal University.

[Aug 08, 2020] The Dollar Standard Slipping Out of Control- -- Strategic Culture

Aug 08, 2020 | www.strategic-culture.org

As commentators focus on the hospitalisations of two Gulf monarchs, and permutate likely succession issues, they may miss the wood for the succession trees: Of course, the death of either the Emir of Kuwait (91 years old) or King Salman of Saudi Arabia (84 years old) is a serious political matter. King Salman's particularly has the potential to upturn the region (or not). Yet Gulf stability today rests less on who succeeds, but rather on tectonic shifts in geo-finance and politics that are just becoming visible. Time to move on from stale ruminations about who's 'up and coming', and who's 'down and out' in these dysfunctional families.

The stark fact is that Gulf stability rests on selling enough energy to buy-off internal discontents, and to pay for supersized surveillance and security set-ups.

For the moment, times are hard, but the States' financial 'cushions' are just about holding-up (albeit only for the big three: Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi and Qatar). For others the situation is dire. The question is, will this present status quo persist? This is where the warnings of shifts in certain global tectonic plates becomes salient.

The Kuwaiti succession struggle is emblematic of the Gulf rift: One candidate for Emir, (the brother), stands with Saudi Arabia and its Wahhabi-led 'war' on Sunni Islamists (the Muslim Brotherhood). Whereas the other, (the eldest son), is actively backed by the Muslim Brotherhood, Qatar and Turkey. Thus, Kuwait sits on firmly on the Gulf abyss – a region with significant, but disempowered Shi'a minorities, and a Sunni camp divided and 'at war' with itself over support for the Muslim Brotherhood; or what is (politely called) 'autocratic secular stability'.

Interesting though this is, is this really still so relevant?

The Gulf, perhaps more significantly, is held hostage to two huge financial bubbles. The real risk to these States may prove to come from these bubbles, which are the very devil to prick-down into any gentle, expelling of gas. They are sustained by mass psychology – which can pivot on a dime – and usually end catastrophically in a market 'tantrum', or a 'bust' – and with consequent risk of depression, should Central Banks ever try to lift the foot off the monetary accelerator.

The U.S. ubiquitous 'asset bubble' is famous. Central Bankers have been worrying about it for years. And the Fed is throwing money at it – with abandon – to keep it from popping. But as indicated earlier, such bubbles are highly vulnerable to psychology – and that may be turning, as the celebrated V-shaped, expected economic recovery recedes into the virus-induced distance. But for now, investors believe that the Fed daren't let it implode – that the Fed has absolutely no option but go on throwing more and more money at it (at least until November elections & then what?).

Less visible is that other vast 'asset bubble': The Chinese domestic property market. With its closed capital account, China has a huge sum (some $40 trillion) sloshing around in collective bank accounts. That money can't go abroad (at least legally), so it rotates around between three asset markets: apartments, stocks, and commodities somewhat whimsically. But investing in apartments is absolutely king! 96% of urban Chinese own more than one: 75% of private wealth is represented by investments in condos – albeit with 21% standing empty in urban China, for lack of a tenant.

Long story, short, the Chinese massively chase property valuations. Indeed, as the WSJ has noted "the central problem in China is that buyers have figured out the government doesn't appear to be willing to let the market fall. If home prices did drop significantly, it would wipe out most citizens' primary source of wealth, and potentially trigger unrest". Even during the pandemic – or, perhaps because of it as the Chinese piled-in – prices rose 4.9% in June, year on year. The total value of Chinese homes and developers' inventory hit $52 trillion in 2019, according to Goldman Sachs; i.e. twice the size of the U.S. residential market, and outstripping even the entire U.S. bond market.

If it sounds just like America's QE-inflated asset markets, that's because it is. As things stand, both the Chinese residential and the U.S. equity bubbles are unstable. Which might fracture fist? Who knows but bubbles are also vulnerable to pop on geo-political events (such as a U.S. naval landing on one of China's disputed South Sea islands, to which China is promising , absolutely, a military response).

No one has any idea how Chinese officials can manage the property bubble, without destabilizing the broader economy. And even should the market stay strong, it creates headaches for policy makers, who have had to hold off on more aggressive economic stimulus this year – which some analysts say is needed, partly because of fears it will inflate housing further.

Ah there it is: Out in plain view – the risk. The condo-trade has hijacked the entire Chinese economy, tying officials' hands. This, at the moment when Trump's trade war has turned into a new ideological cold war targeting the Chinese Communist Party. What if the Chinese economy, under further U.S. sanctions, slides further, or if Covid 19 resurges (as it is in Hong Kong)? Will then the housing market break, causing recession or depression? It is, after all, China and Asia that buy the bulk of Gulf energy: Demand shrinks, and price falls. The fate of the Gulf States' economies – and stability – is tied to these mega-bubbles not popping.

Bubbles are one factor, but there are also signs of the tectonic plates drifting apart in a different way, but no less threatening. Bankers Goldman Sachs sits at the very heart of the western financial system – and incidentally staffs much of Team Trump, as well as the Federal Reserve.

And Goldman wrote something this week that one might not expect from such a system stalwart: Its commodity strategist Jeffrey Currie, wrote that "real concerns around the longevity of the U.S. dollar as a reserve currency have started to emerge".

What? Goldman says the dollar might lose its reserve currency status. Unthinkable? Well that would be the standard view. Dollar hegemony and sanctions have long been seen as Washington's stranglehold on the world through which to preserve U.S. primacy. America's 'hidden war', as it were. Trump clearly views the dollar as the bludgeon that can make America Great Again. Furthermore, as Trump and Mnuchin – and now Congress – have taken control of the Treasury arsenal, the roll-out of new sanctions bludgeoning has turned into a deluge.

But there has also been within certain U.S. circles, a contrarian view. Which is that the U.S. needs to 're-boot' its economic model with a Tech-led, 'supply-side' miracle to end growth stagnation. Too much debt suffocates an economy, and populates it with zombie enterprises.

In 2014, Jared Bernstein, Obama's former chief economist said that the U.S. Dollar must lose its reserve status , if such a re-boot were to be done. He explained why, in a New York Times op-ed:

"There are few truisms about the world economy, but for decades, one has been the role of the United States dollar as the world's reserve currency. It's a core principle of American economic policy. After all, who wouldn't want their currency to be the one that foreign banks and governments want to hold in reserve?

"But new research reveals that what was once a privilege is now a burden, undermining job growth, pumping up budget and trade deficits and inflating financial bubbles. To get the American economy on track, the government needs to drop its commitment to maintaining the dollar's reserve-currency status."

In essence, this is the Davos Great Reset line . Christine Lagarde, in the same year, called too for a 'reset' (or re-boot) of monetary policy (in the face of "bubbles growing here and there) – and to deal with stagnant growth and unemployment. And this week, the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations issued a paper entitled: It is Time to Abandon Dollar Hegemony .

That, we repeat, is the globalist line. The CFR has been a progenitor of both the European and Davos projects. It is not Trump's. He is fighting to keep America as the seat of western power, and not to accede that role to Merkel's European project – or to China.

So why would Goldman Sachs say such a thing? Attend carefully to Goldman's framing: It is not the Davos line. Instead, Currie writes that the soaring disconnect between spiking gold price and a weakening dollar "is being driven by a potential shift in the U.S. Fed towards an inflationary bias, against a backdrop of rising geopolitical tensions, elevated U.S. domestic political and social uncertainty, and a growing second wave of covid-19 related infections".

Translation: It is about U.S. explosive debt accumulation, on account of the Coronavirus lockdown. In a world where there is already over $100 trillion in dollar-denominated debt, on which the U.S. cannot default; nor will it ever be repaid. It can therefore only be inflated away. That is to say the debt can only be managed through debasing the currency. (Debt jubilees are viewed as beyond the pale.)

That is to say, Goldman's man says dollar debasement is firmly on the Fed agenda. And that means that "real concerns around the longevity of the U.S. dollar as a reserve currency, have started to emerge".

It is a nuanced message: It hints that the monetary experiment, which began in 1971, is ending. Currie is telling U.S. that the U.S. is no longer able to manage an economy with this much debt – simply by printing new currency, and with its hands tied on other options. The debt situation already is unprecedented – and the pandemic is accelerating the process.

In short, things are starting to spin out of control, which is not the same as advocating a re-boot. And the debasement of money is inevitable. That's why Currie points to the disconnect between the gold price (which usually governments like to repress), and a weakening dollar. If it is out of the Fed's control, it is ultimately (post-November) out of Trump's hands, too.

Should confidence in the dollar begin to evaporate, all fiat currencies will sink in tandem – as G20 Central Banks are bound by the same policies as the U.S.. China's situation is complicated. It would in one way be harmed by dollar debasement, but in another way, a general debasement of fiat currency would offer China and Russia the crisis (i.e. the opportunity), to escape the dollar's knee pressed onto their throats.

And for Gulf States? The slump in oil prices this year already has prompted some investors to bet against Gulf nations' currencies, putting longstanding currency pegs with the dollar under pressure. GCC states have kept their currencies glued to the dollar since the 1970s, but low oil demand, combined with dollar weakness would exacerbate the threat to Gulf 'pegs', as their trade deficits blow out. Were a peg to break, it is not clear there would be any obvious floor to that currency, in present circumstances.

Against such a backdrop, the royal successions underway in Gulf States might perhaps be regarded a sideshow.

[Aug 02, 2020] TikTok ban demonstrates barbaric act of rogue US: Global Times editorial

The mafia methods used are often packaged as monopoly powers such copyrights, patents, transformation of public goods into for profit private enterprizes (privatization), takeovers and bankruptcy, private ownership of the highest levels of nearly all governments, and just 6 own 92% of all media.
Takeover of Tik Toc by Microsoft is just one demonstrating of a wider trend -- the tend toward gangster capitalism. BTW Chinese proposes complete divestment. That spells big trouble for US heavyweights such as Amazon, Google and Facebook.
"We lie to deceive ourselves, we lie to comfort others, we lie out of pity, we lie out of shame, to encourage, to hide our misery, we lie out of honesty. We lie for freedom."
Trump blames China every chance he can and the Democrats either agree or offer mealy-mouthed protest.
Notable quotes:
"... It comes to light that at least 125 US companies owned or invested in by Chinese entities, including Chinese SOE, received hundreds of millions in PPP loans backed by the US SBS. ..."
"... This level of capitalust interconnection between elite investors and governments belies all the heated talk of cold war by politicians on both sides as well as useful idiots the world over. ..."
"... "If this is also national security, then US national security is synonymous with hegemony." ..."
Aug 02, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org
vk , Aug 2 2020 15:04 utc | 8

TikTok ban demonstrates barbaric act of rogue US: Global Times editorial

China has never banned US high-tech companies from doing business in the country. What the Chinese government demands is that what they do in China should comply with Chinese law. That's all . It was some US companies that refused to comply with Chinese laws. Google used to have a position in the Chinese market. It itself pulled out of China a decade ago, while other companies were accused in the US of kowtowing to China when they tried to design their specific versions for the Chinese market. This leaves no US internet giant currently operating in China.

TikTok operates in the US in full compliance with US laws and is completely cut off from Douyin, its Chinese equivalent. Users in the Chinese mainland cannot register for TikTok even if they bypass the so-called great firewall . TikTok does not violate any US law but fully cooperates with the US administration.

The US claim that TikTok threatens its own national security is a purely hypothetical and unwarranted charge - just like the groundless accusation that Huawei gathers intelligence for the Chinese government. This is fundamentally different from China's refusal to allow the original versions of Facebook and Twitter to enter China and require them to operate in accordance with Chinese laws.

In just three paragraphs, the Global Times killed two myths: that a "great firewall" exists and that China censorship things from the West (i.e. that the Chinese people is "living in the darkness").

I had a teacher who traveled to China recently. He went to a local bar (100% Mainland Chinese) as soon as he landed. He was having difficulty accessing Google (I think it was either Gmail or Google Drive). He tried, tried, tried but couldn't do it. When the locals there realized he was trying to access Google products, they promptly and calmly told him he should use VPN because Google didn't operate in China. No drama, no fear of a local police officer suddenly coming to the place to arrest them.

They know what Apple, Google and Facebook are. It's just that China has better local options for the same product.

--//--

New cold war will not stop US decline

Bingo.


donkeytale , Aug 2 2020 20:25 utc | 45

Not that globalization is a one way street by any means.

It comes to light that at least 125 US companies owned or invested in by Chinese entities, including Chinese SOE, received hundreds of millions in PPP loans backed by the US SBS.

This level of capitalust interconnection between elite investors and governments belies all the heated talk of cold war by politicians on both sides as well as useful idiots the world over.

Why even favorite Chinese PR flack Pepe Escobar recently characterized the Stupidity Trap aka Thucydides Trap as childish nonsense.

ptb , Aug 2 2020 20:28 utc | 46

@karlof1 32

"If this is also national security, then US national security is synonymous with hegemony."

That is precisely the problem. Unfortunately, the current US economy has become dependent on advantages arising from unrivaled geopolitical power. Take it away too suddenly, and there would be a painful economic transition to become a normal nation again.

... ... ..

[Aug 02, 2020] James Murdoch departs ..

Notable quotes:
"... Case in point, reporting today on the newly disclosed Ghisline Maxwell documents only mentioned Prince Andrew and not a word about Bill Clinton ..."
"... believe James Murdoch was part of the "we are all gonna die in <11 years" Green New Deal school of thought. ..."
Aug 02, 2020 | turcopolier.typepad.com

"James Murdoch, the younger son of media mogul Rupert Murdoch, has resigned from the board of News Corporation citing "disagreements over editorial content".

In a filing to US regulators, he said he also disagreed with some "strategic decisions" made by the company.

The exact nature of the disagreements was not detailed.

... ... ..,

I watch a lot of TeeVee news on all the major networks including the two Foxnews channels.

It has become apparent to me over the last year or so that there is an internal ideology contest at Fox between the hard core conservatives like Dobbs. Carlson, Mark Levin, Bartiromo, Degan McDowell, etc. and a much more liberal set of people like Chris Wallace, Cavuto and the newer reporters at the White House. I expect that the departure of James Murdoch will result in more uniformly conservative reporting and commentary on Fox. I say that presuming that James Murdoch was a major force in trying to push Foxnews toward the left.

I am surprised that Murdoch sent his son to Harvard. pl

https://www.bbc.com/news/business-53617966

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Murdoch


Deap , 01 August 2020 at 12:19 PM

Been noticing a lot of irresponsible reporting of late in the WSJ - not on the opinion page, but in some pretty sloppy reporting with a lot of editorial bias in what is included and what is intentionally left out.

Case in point, reporting today on the newly disclosed Ghisline Maxwell documents only mentioned Prince Andrew and not a word about Bill Clinton . Doesn't WSJ know its readers draw from multiple media sources that have provided original content? Everyday there are several similar, bias by omission, articles.

One can only hope newly constituted management team will finally get rid of Peggy Noonan.

Deap , 01 August 2020 at 12:22 PM

I believe James Murdoch was part of the "we are all gonna die in <11 years" Green New Deal school of thought.

[Aug 02, 2020] Your retirement distributions won't be taxed in these states- AARP

Aug 02, 2020 | finance.yahoo.com

I'm 52, won't live past 80 and have $1.6 million. 'I am tired of both the rat race and workplace politics.' Should I retire?
More

I don't have much in savings and feel lost. What can I do? Dear Wondering in Alamo, You bring up a question I think a lot of people have been asking themselves lately.

Continue reading

https://s.yimg.com/rq/darla/4-2-1/html/r-sf.html Start survey U.S. Your retirement distributions won't be taxed in these states: AARP Ann Schmidt , Fox Business July 31, 2020

If you want to make your retirement savings last even longer, it could be worth moving to a state that won't tax your retirement distributions .

There are 12 states that won't tax your distributions from 401(k) plans, IRAs or pensions, according to a recent report from AARP .

Of those states, nine -- Alaska, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington and Wyoming -- don't have state income taxes.

Meanwhile, Illinois, Mississippi and Pennsylvania don't tax retirement distributions, AARP reported.

According to the nonprofit, pensions aren't taxed in Alabama or Hawaii, but those states do have taxes on 401(k) and IRA distributions.

4 RETIREMENT PLANNING STRATEGIES TO LEAN ON IN UNCERTAIN TIMES

Some states only partially tax retirement distributions, AARP reported. In Colorado, taxpayers over 65 can remove $24,000 from their federal AGI for their state taxes, according to AARP.

Other states have policies for taxes on retirement distributions that depend on your occupation before retirement. For example, in Connecticut, teachers can subtract 25 percent of their retirement income from federal AGI.

WHY THIS IS THE RIGHT AGE TO TAKE SOCIAL SECURITY

There are also 29 states that don't tax military retirement income at all, AARP reported. Those states include Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Jersey, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

The remaining 21 states tax some or all of military retirement income, according to AARP.

One exception is in Virginia, where only recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor are exempt from taxes on their military retirement income, AARP reported.

GET FOX BUSINESS ON THE GO BY CLICKING HERE

But if your state has low income taxes, other taxes, like property or sales tax, might be higher, according to AARP.

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ON FOX BUSINESS

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[Aug 01, 2020] Everyone working in academia, the non-profit sector, and journalism is aware that there are many ideas broadly held which people hesitate to say because they are worried a group of their strident colleagues will try to destroy their career

Highly recommended!
Free speech is not a dimmer switch, its on or its off – you can’t have it both ways. Cancel culture is a reincarnation of Stalinist purges, or McCarthyism.
Notable quotes:
"... The sort of "lose your job for engaging in speech" thing happens in other contexts, too. Companies routinely censor their employees' speech in ways small and large, and this includes completely non-political speech about purely technical matters. ..."
"... the government severely punishes employers whose employees speak in ways the government/the identity politics left (they are working together here) dislike, and so effectively outsources speech regulation to employers. ..."
"... The concern about cancel culture is in my observation largely driven by this dynamic: the frequent tagline right-leaning speech is violence, while left-leaning violence is speech" reflects the fact that getting some particular approach to a topic defined as "discrimination" ..."
"... Think about Rebecca Long-Bailey's recent demotion from the Labour shadow cabinet over a tweet she made. Last month, she retweeted a newspaper interview with prominent Labour-supporting actress Maxine Peake, calling her an "absolute diamond." The interview included an inaccurate claim from Peake ( based apparently on information in a Morning Star article, and which Peake subsequently withdrew when she was challenged on it) that the specific knee restraint used on George Floyd had been taught to Mineapolis police by Israeli secret police consultants. ..."
"... Long-Bailey lost the Shadow Education role, and her political career is likely over, ostensibly on the basis of this one tweet. ..."
"... The RLB case also throws a spotlight on language. The various rationales for cancelling listed in the OP -- racism, transphobia, or (in this case) antisemitism -- are rarely clear-cut in real-world instances ..."
"... This, I would suggest, is also related to power. The purpose of an accusation like this is to demonstrate the power or dominance of the cancelling agent, and to intimidate others by example. ..."
"... These concepts are capable of apparently endless linguistic elasticity. Indeed, it's when they're at their most extended or diffuse, that these grounds for cancellation seem to have the most signifying power. ..."
"... Everyone working in academia, the non-profit sector, and journalism is aware that there are many ideas broadly held which people hesitate to say because they are worried a group of their strident colleagues will try to destroy their career ..."
"... it is unquestionable that "canceling from the left" is a bigger threat from the right. ..."
"... Remember that the academic institutions in which controversies about 'cancel culture' exist are bourgeois institutions, pretty much like corporations. It is a world of authority, hierarchy, and carefully controlled behavior. ..."
"... As the power and prestige of the bourgeoisie shrink, the inmates of that particular cage will fight more fiercely for what's left. One way of fighting is to get someone's job by turning up something disreputable, such as the use of an apparently racist epithet. ..."
"... It seems to me that "cancel culture" is based on the infosphere's equivalent of the technological progress that now allows a small group of determined people with AK-47s to render a region ungovernable. ..."
"... The arms dealers don't care – they sell to everyone, and the more ammunition they sell, the more you'll need. ..."
"... Whether justified or not, a significant minority of Americans, across multiple lines, are fearful that their political opinions could endanger their jobs; this suggests the problem might be more than just people getting "bent-out-of-shape that they can't be raging bigots" . ..."
"... Purveyors of what-aboutery will probably appreciate that Steve Salita now makes a living as a bus driver ; I have no reason to think that the Harpers Letter signers (even Bari Weiss) would regard that situation as any more just than other examples. ..."
"... My position on this is that individuals shouldn't face public opprobrium unless there is 1) Clear and convincing evidence they are motivated by fundamentally malicious ends and 2) They have no remorse about it. Even when these conditions are met the opprobrium they receive should be clearly proportional to the wrong they've committed. We should relax these rules somewhat for celebrities, and a great deal for politicians, who have implicitly agreed to face criticism as a consequence of their role. ..."
"... In that testing sense, cancel culture can be seen as a type of supplementary social defense mechanism compared to the standard immune system response of trying to prove the political cult wrong in the eyes of unbiased observers; in too many historical cases, the immune response is weakened by factors such as adverse economic or geopolitical circumstances (e.g., a lost war) ..."
"... Cancel culture then works as (a) tracking and removal in the form of boycotts and ostracism, in that the infected cells(individuals) are removed from positions of influence, and (b) as a type of lockdown measure (censorship) that is warranted when the infected individual is transmitting patently false versions of current events or past history, and is starting to infect others around him. ..."
"... As to Peter's argument that cancel culture disfigures the left, I would add that the only cases where the radical left has seized power took place in the brutal aftermath of right-wing pandemics: e.g. the hyper-nationalism that led Germany and Russia among others to war in 1914, or KMT/warlord attempts to violently and brutally suppress peasant demands in the case of China. In such situations, it is no surprise that the radical left becomes infected with political cultism. ..."
"... Between those two positions there's a large space where people get harassed, threatened, ostracised and silenced for minor slips, reasonable disagreements, details that were lost in translation and failures to recite the correct thought-terminating cliches with sufficient conviction – basically, things that don't threaten anyone else's ability to speak. ..."
Aug 01, 2020 | crookedtimber.org

J-D 07.30.20 at 9:16 am

When I read this, I got the idea that there'd been a related discussion here at Crooked Timber before, and indeed there was!

https://crookedtimber.org/2016/08/27/the-university-of-chicago-is-nothing-more-and-nothing-less-than-a-complex-of-safe-spaces/


Tim H. 07.30.20 at 11:21 am ( 8 )

Racism from my perspective, looks like an unwillingness to evaluate people on an individual basis, whether it's from sloth, contempt or disability and it's a terrible look for an intellectual.

CHETAN R MURTHY 07.30.20 at 1:08 pm ( 11 )

JQ @ 1: The sort of "lose your job for engaging in speech" thing happens in other contexts, too. Companies routinely censor their employees' speech in ways small and large, and this includes completely non-political speech about purely technical matters.

I know of a case where a famous chip designer got up at a conference and said "none of you people talking about Itanium [Intel's ia64 chip that was the future of microprocessors once upon a time] actually think it's going to succeed -- why don't any of you admit it?"

Within moments he was covered in PR and lawyers basically taping his mouth shut. When I worked in global enterprise IT, I didn't post blog comments (neither political nor technical) b/c it was clear that there would always be the possibility of career repercussions for making statements that would have post-hoc repercussions

Companies censor their employees speech before-and-after-the-fact for lots of reasons, sometimes political. This is a fact of life, and you're very right to point out that if people actually cared about this [as opposed to getting bent-out-of-shape that they can't be raging bigots] they'd support strong unions.

SamChevre 07.30.20 at 1:25 pm ( 13 )

This is mainly a problem in the US because of employment at will.

Employment at will may contribute, but a larger part of the problem is that the US laws around free speech are odd. Technically, the government cannot regulate speech at all (with very limited exceptions, not relevant here.) In practice, though, what has happened (via so-called "antidiscrimination" law) is that the government severely punishes employers whose employees speak in ways the government/the identity politics left (they are working together here) dislike, and so effectively outsources speech regulation to employers.

The concern about cancel culture is in my observation largely driven by this dynamic: the frequent tagline right-leaning speech is violence, while left-leaning violence is speech" reflects the fact that getting some particular approach to a topic defined as "discrimination" means that it is severely punished by government, at second-hand.

Musicismath 07.30.20 at 1:42 pm (16 )

One thing that might be useful is distinguishing "cancel culture" as a phenomenon from cancellation more narrowly defined as a tactic . So many of the discussions I've seen recently about the issue seem content to operate at the big-picture level, asking whether such a thing as cancel culture even exists (the New Statesman approach) or (if it does) whether it's a good thing or a bad thing. Focussing in on actual cases, and thinking about who (precisely) benefits from individual instances, might instead help us think about the specific function of cancel culture, and the role that language plays in it.

Think about Rebecca Long-Bailey's recent demotion from the Labour shadow cabinet over a tweet she made. Last month, she retweeted a newspaper interview with prominent Labour-supporting actress Maxine Peake, calling her an "absolute diamond." The interview included an inaccurate claim from Peake ( based apparently on information in a Morning Star article, and which Peake subsequently withdrew when she was challenged on it) that the specific knee restraint used on George Floyd had been taught to Mineapolis police by Israeli secret police consultants.

Long-Bailey lost the Shadow Education role, and her political career is likely over, ostensibly on the basis of this one tweet. This, to me, is a fairly clear instance of cancellation at work, but it would be inadequate to leave it at that. The complete lack of commensurability between the transgression and the outcome would be incomprehensible without asking how RLB's cancellation fits into Labour Party politics; that is, the function of cancelling in this specific instance. Absolutely no one I know thinks this tweet proved Long-Bailey was genuinely antisemitic, or that it was even the primary reason she was demoted. Instead, it's been broadly (and, I think, correctly) interpreted as a signal from the Starmer wing of the party that the Corbyn faction with which RLB is aligned has no future in Labour. Cancellation, in this case, is a naked piece of power politics: a way of getting political opponents out of the way.

The RLB case also throws a spotlight on language. The various rationales for cancelling listed in the OP -- racism, transphobia, or (in this case) antisemitism -- are rarely clear-cut in real-world instances. In fact, there's a kind of homeopathic logic at work, where the more tendentious the attribution is, the more cut-through it often seems to have.

This, I would suggest, is also related to power. The purpose of an accusation like this is to demonstrate the power or dominance of the cancelling agent, and to intimidate others by example. ("If RLB got cancelled for this , then how little would I need to do to suffer the same fate?") As Jonathan Dollimore has pointed out, there's a certain in-built "linguistic imprecision" in many of the terms that cancellation depends on, and it's from that imprecision that the capacity for intimidation or fear generation stems from.

These concepts are capable of apparently endless linguistic elasticity. Indeed, it's when they're at their most extended or diffuse, that these grounds for cancellation seem to have the most signifying power.

Anon For Obvious Reasons 07.30.20 at 5:31 pm (
23
)

I find this deliberately misleading. "Cancel culture" in practice refers to the idea that you shouldn't be ostracized by your peers, friends, or professional field for holding and voicing ideas that are essentially mainstream.

Everyone thinks that if you insult someone with a racial slur, there should be consequences.

But after that, what should be the proper "bound" that discourse should not cross? I would argue that "any idea which can be studied rigorously" and "any idea held by a reasonably broad cross section of society" is clearly within the bound, and we do ourselves a huge disservice by refusing to countenance ideas in those sets. Further, as a commenter above notes, most people in the world are not left-wing activists. Setting the norm that you shouldn't be friends with/work with/hire/buy from people with ideas you find acceptable, but which are not extreme, will be and has been a disaster for gay people, atheists, and many others.

Everyone working in academia, the non-profit sector, and journalism is aware that there are many ideas broadly held which people hesitate to say because they are worried a group of their strident colleagues will try to destroy their career. The Shor example comes up because, as Matt Yglesias pointed out yesterday, it is so obviously ridiculous to lose your job for linking to a paper in APSR by a prominent (young, black) political scientist, and yet there really are many people in that world, progressive political campaigns, who would refuse to work with you if you hired Shor . It wasn't just his boss or "workplace protections" – he was kicked out of the listserv that is the main vector for finding jobs in that sphere, and his new employer remains anonymous on purpose!

And yes, this is not just a lefty thing. I'm sure that right-wing media sites, and church groups, and the rest all have similar cases. Trump clearly "canceled" Kaepernick, with the NFL's help. Yet we all agree that is bad! And in the sphere many of us are in, academia, it is unquestionable that "canceling from the left" is a bigger threat from the right.

Anarcissie 07.30.20 at 8:35 pm ( 30 )

Trader Joe 07.30.20 at 2:17 pm @ 17 --
Remember that the academic institutions in which controversies about 'cancel culture' exist are bourgeois institutions, pretty much like corporations. It is a world of authority, hierarchy, and carefully controlled behavior. Obviously there is little expression which may not have adverse consequences.

As the power and prestige of the bourgeoisie shrink, the inmates of that particular cage will fight more fiercely for what's left. One way of fighting is to get someone's job by turning up something disreputable, such as the use of an apparently racist epithet.

This didn't start yesterday. There is a certain spillover into popcult as students emerge from academia into the outer, also declining world and repeat the patterns which they have observed. Numerous stories are available, but I'll spare you. Anyway, Mr. Taibbi has been ranting well, and you can go there.

kinnikinick 07.30.20 at 9:08 pm (
34
)

Surprising to see so little emphasis on social media as the main catalyst. Tribalism is the driver of "engagement" online, and if righteous anger at the out-group gets the clicks, so be it. Consider how any Twitter post can become a tiny gleaming tableau, a battle flag, an allegory of sin or virtue. Context and interpretation cannot be arbiters, and must only serve the self-evident cause of loyalty to one's synthetic tribe. Faith and bad faith merge; that's just optimal use of an app's system of influence. "We shape our tools and then our tools shape us".

It seems to me that "cancel culture" is based on the infosphere's equivalent of the technological progress that now allows a small group of determined people with AK-47s to render a region ungovernable. This does not imply that the region's current government is a good one. It does not imply anything about the group's views, except that debating them is not likely to be on the agenda when they visit your village. There will no doubt be some unpleasant people among the casualties; perhaps that counts as a silver lining.

The arms dealers don't care – they sell to everyone, and the more ammunition they sell, the more you'll need.

Kiwanda 07.31.20 at 12:00 am ( 45 )

John Quiggin:

"But the fact that the same example (David Shor) is cited every time the issue is raised " here is one attempt to tabulate cancellations, at least on the left identitarian side; I am not endorsing any particular example. (NB: Sophie Jane in this case, not Sophie Grace.)

I would be curious about whether Henry approves of the suppression of speech as much as the OP does.

Whether justified or not, a significant minority of Americans, across multiple lines, are fearful that their political opinions could endanger their jobs; this suggests the problem might be more than just people getting "bent-out-of-shape that they can't be raging bigots" .

Purveyors of what-aboutery will probably appreciate that Steve Salita now makes a living as a bus driver ; I have no reason to think that the Harpers Letter signers (even Bari Weiss) would regard that situation as any more just than other examples.

J-D 07.31.20 at 12:05 am ( 46 )

There have been occasions in my life when I have justly and rightly experienced adverse consequences as a result of things that I have said. The proposition that nobody should ever experience adverse consequences as a result of statements made is utterly indefensible.

de Pony Sum 07.31.20 at 2:16 am ( 48 )

Discussions over "cancellation" can make things unnecessarily difficult because it's a very hard term to define- exactly how badly does your public reputation have to be before you are cancelled. All too often debates turn into "well so and so wasn't cancelled because they still have a job/they still have a platform/they're still living their life." (Although your post does avoid this by describing it in terms of an attempt instead of outcome) So to avoid ambiguities that attend "cancellation", I prefer "opprobrium"

My position on this is that individuals shouldn't face public opprobrium unless there is 1) Clear and convincing evidence they are motivated by fundamentally malicious ends and 2) They have no remorse about it. Even when these conditions are met the opprobrium they receive should be clearly proportional to the wrong they've committed. We should relax these rules somewhat for celebrities, and a great deal for politicians, who have implicitly agreed to face criticism as a consequence of their role.

I support this anti-opprobrium position because being shamed publicly is extremely painful. I would rather lose a limb than be widely publicly shamed and reviled, and I think a lot of people feel the same way, so, by the golden rule and all of that

In terms of the position you outline it seems to me that we're going to agree on a lot of issues. Pre-meditated use of racial slurs, for example. But I think there are a lot of instances of cancel culture that we won't agree on.

Here's some people I think have been unfairly subject to vast amounts of pubic opprobrium that some people would call cancel culture:

The p**nstar ( I won't spell it out because I'm at work) who killed herself in part because of the criticism she received when tweeted out (homophobically) that she didn't want to work actors who had done gay male scenes. While criticism would have been appropriate, the torrent of backlash she received was disproportionate.

The woman who went to the Washington Post's cartoonist party in blackface in a very misguided but not malicious attempt to satirize blackface and subsequently lost her job when the Washington post named her in their paper. Natalie Wynn of Contrapoints – for many different things.

Glenn Greenwald over the age difference between him and his partner

Now I'm picking cases of opprobrium that came from the left broadly construed, because I think of this as an internal conversation on the left. However, one thing that frustrates me about this debate is that no one is acknowledging that the right are masters of excessive opprobrium. Some examples:

But maybe my position amounts to a silly apolitical wish that people would be nice to each other, unless there's a very, very good reason not to.

Andres 07.31.20 at 3:07 am ( 49 )

Chris: An interesting case can be made in favor of cancel culture if we start thinking of most political cults including communism, fascism, maga-Trumpism and other types of fake populism as pandemics.

For starters, there is the testing. A positive test result is indicated by

(a) the talking points or analysis are exclusionary toward one or more social groups that are being "othered" based on any common aspect other than political actions that are unethical by some well-defined criterion; the extent indicates the severity of the symptoms, and

(b) the speaker or commenter is repeating someone else's talking points or writing rather than their own attempts to understand the issue; the extent indicates the degree of infectiousness.

In that testing sense, cancel culture can be seen as a type of supplementary social defense mechanism compared to the standard immune system response of trying to prove the political cult wrong in the eyes of unbiased observers; in too many historical cases, the immune response is weakened by factors such as adverse economic or geopolitical circumstances (e.g., a lost war).

Cancel culture then works as (a) tracking and removal in the form of boycotts and ostracism, in that the infected cells(individuals) are removed from positions of influence, and (b) as a type of lockdown measure (censorship) that is warranted when the infected individual is transmitting patently false versions of current events or past history, and is starting to infect others around him.

I am not in complete agreement with the above political cults-as-pandemics theory, but it has some compelling aspects in exceptional situations. Normally, the political-economic-cultural discourse is sufficiently healthy that the standard "cure for bad speech is more good speech" response is sufficient. Commenters above such as Peter Dorman are assuming that the "body politic" has a healthy and undisrupted immune system, but I would argue that is far from being the case right now; the U.S. is afflicted by oligarchic politics, highly unequal and quasi-feudal economics that make appeals to the free market laughable, and by standard of living deterioration in a large number of inner urban areas as well as mid-tier and small cities. So the patient is immuno-compromised and additional interventions are called for.

As to Peter's argument that cancel culture disfigures the left, I would add that the only cases where the radical left has seized power took place in the brutal aftermath of right-wing pandemics: e.g. the hyper-nationalism that led Germany and Russia among others to war in 1914, or KMT/warlord attempts to violently and brutally suppress peasant demands in the case of China. In such situations, it is no surprise that the radical left becomes infected with political cultism.

The important thing is to know when to apply cancel culture (and other resistance measures including mass disobedience) to left-wing movements that are "infected". Post-1989 Eastern Europe is a good example, though now it is right-wing pandemics that are taking hold. That is, cancel culture is not just for Lost Cause racism and proto-fascism, but for all political movements that cross the border into cultism and "othering".

Aubergine 07.31.20 at 3:14 am ( 50 )

CB:

Much of the pushback against cancel culture has come from prominent journalists and intellectuals who perceive every negative reaction from ordinary people on social media as an affront.

I don't think this is fair. As EB says @22:

The (wealthy, high profile) signers of the Harper's letter were not complaining on their own behalf; they were complaining on behalf of the millions of people with no power or money who are also threatened with mobbing if they voice divergent (not racist, not transphobic, not misogyist) views.

JK Rowling is pretty hard to cancel; she has a mountain of cash, and her books are still selling. But people who don't have a mountain of cash are going to look at examples like children's author Gillian Philip, who appears to have been "let go" by her publisher after being targetted by a cancellation campaign for tweeting "#ISTANDWITHROWLING", and think very carefully about whether they can afford to stick their head over the parapet. Personally, I've made a number of comments on Crooked Timber which I don't think were at all outside the bounds of acceptable discourse – certainly not in the same category as the racist speech you refer to (and at least one moderator must have agreed, because they were posted) – but which I simply couldn't risk making without a pseudonym.

I often detect a bit of motte-and-bailey in the anti-anti-cancel culture argument. The outer bailey is something like "cancel culture isn't the problem it's made out to be; it's just how norms of acceptable behaviour are worked out these days"; the motte is "it's okay to deplatform hardcore racists and holocaust deniers".

Between those two positions there's a large space where people get harassed, threatened, ostracised and silenced for minor slips, reasonable disagreements, details that were lost in translation and failures to recite the correct thought-terminating cliches with sufficient conviction – basically, things that don't threaten anyone else's ability to speak. Often this is done with the assistance of the false-flag social media "activist" accounts that right-wing agitators use to pick away at fault lines on the left.

Even when there are no serious real-world consequences this tends to create a narrow, stifling intellectual environment, which is what a large part of the opposition to "cancel culture" is trying to prevent. You do realise, don't you, that Crooked Timber's willingness to acknowledge heterodox views, on certain subjects, from the broad left puts it radically out of step with most of the "progressive" Western Internet?

(There are other parts where cancel-culture tactics are used against different targets, such as apostates and feminists in general (not just the wrong kind of feminists), which hopefully we can all agree is not good.)

Basically, I don't think it's an adequate response to critique of cancel-culture to pick out the cases where relatively mild tactics were used against acceptable targets, without acknowledging that the critique is much broader than that.

[Aug 01, 2020] Did MI6 created White Helmets?

Notable quotes:
"... Perhaps he was even the initiator of the White Helmets? My take away from those reports is that Cummings and Johnson have commenced a transition strategy within the UK and that the future of Integrity Initiative and its bogan crew may be limited. ..."
"... They have also restrained the MI6 manipulators that would conspire and contrive the overt 'Hate Russia' policy. Not that Bojo and Cummings will necessarily change anything other than a superficial rearrangement in their favour (for a month or two anyway). ..."
"... Caitlin Johnston has recently posted an astute analysis of the current distraction politics and why we should not be distracted by Covid19 rants from seeing the immediate rendition of the great game. ..."
"... I guess the UK will be less overt re Russia but expect the Libyan war to escalate as UKUSAI use Turkey in Libya to push back against Russia and even Sisi in Egypt. ..."
"... The UK could stage yet another 'Suez incident' with this mendacious confluence of opportunities. ..."
"... The USA has become the patsy for these thugs, when will they rise? ..."
Aug 01, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

uncle tungsten , Aug 1 2020 0:39 utc | 39

Jackrabbut #3

Thank you for those John Helmer reports. I note that the new head of MI6 is a lover of all fine Turkish things including Erdoghan. "Richard Moore, currently a third-ranking official of the Foreign Office, an ex-Ambassador to Turkey; an ex-MI6 agent; and a Harvard graduate".

Perhaps he was even the initiator of the White Helmets? My take away from those reports is that Cummings and Johnson have commenced a transition strategy within the UK and that the future of Integrity Initiative and its bogan crew may be limited.

They have also restrained the MI6 manipulators that would conspire and contrive the overt 'Hate Russia' policy. Not that Bojo and Cummings will necessarily change anything other than a superficial rearrangement in their favour (for a month or two anyway).

AtaBrit #9 includes an excellent link to a National Interest report on Turkey and is worth the read in this context of the rise and rise of Richard Moore. Thank you AtaBrit.

Caitlin Johnston has recently posted an astute analysis of the current distraction politics and why we should not be distracted by Covid19 rants from seeing the immediate rendition of the great game.

I guess the UK will be less overt re Russia but expect the Libyan war to escalate as UKUSAI use Turkey in Libya to push back against Russia and even Sisi in Egypt. They have a willing US president now and likely continuing in the next few years (be it Trump or Biden). The UK could stage yet another 'Suez incident' with this mendacious confluence of opportunities.

The USA has become the patsy for these thugs, when will they rise?

[Aug 01, 2020] Black Lives Matter- An Immodest Suggestion -

Aug 01, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by MN Gordon via EconomicPrism.com,

Where will America's productivity miracle come from?

Public education is not teaching students what they need to know to compete in the global economy.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, math scores of U.S. students rank 30th in the world. The East Asian peers of today's American students will eat their lunch in the growth industries of tomorrow.

Here's where Black Lives Matter has a real opportunity.

The protests. The riots. The calls for reparation payments. Social justice wealth transfers. White privilege taxes. All the nonsense. Where's the strategy? Where's the long-range 'strategery'?

No doubt, those selling BLM T-shirts in Walmart parking lots are exercising gumption. But it's not gonna cut it. Moreover, like bingo winnings, reparation payments will be quickly squandered while the unhappiness remains.

And as far as we can tell the BLM movement is empty of ideas and without direction.

lay_arrow

chubbar , 14 minutes ago

"If BLM was strategic"?????? Holy ****, if they were strategic they'd be making damn sure that testing, like SAT scores, were no longer accepted as proof of accomplishment or learning. Oh, wait?.......

Let's all agree, blacks don't want a "head to head" test, EVER.

I don't give a crap what they say, they don't want to be judged on MERIT, they love the skin color test. That way they can always claim racism instead of ability.

libtears , 40 minutes ago

The BLM Movement is definitely empty of ideas and clear leadership. Their supposed goals are all over the map from day to day. They are rudderless mobs of filthy vagrants and criminal elements make up most of their movement.

What's going on which is credited to BLM has nothing to do with black people for the most part. Commies have co-opted this movement and are engaging in anarchy to take down the system of government. They will do whatever they want at all costs because they believe they have the moral high ground. They are radicals just like people call them.

The best thing that could happen is for these loser mayors and governors to enforce the law against these mobs of filthy scum.

How can you even reason with a mob of idiots that don't even have one, if not a hierarchy of leadership and clear goals that they agree upon?

These people are taking a page out of the Bolshevik book on revolution. And they're much weaker than the Bolsheviks, mentally and physically. One good thump on the head and these b!tches are crying.

The longer the public allows teaching institutions to promote BLM the worse this sh!t is going to get.

...

JaxPavan , 42 minutes ago

The Ford Foundation gave BLM $100 million to engage in terrorism. Who do you think bought all those ultra high end looting vehicles?

quanttech , 39 minutes ago

Indeed, the BLM organization is primarily funded by mostly white-run corporations and foundations. The money rules.

HopefulCynical , 22 minutes ago

And WHO is in control of the Ford Foundtion? WHO?!

[Jul 31, 2020] Plunge in Consumption of Services Leads to Record 32.9 Percent Drop in GDP by DEAN BAKER

Jul 31, 2020 | angrybearblog.com

https://cepr.net/gdp-2020-07/

July 30, 2020

Plunge in Consumption of Services Leads to Record 32.9 Percent Drop in GDP
By DEAN BAKER

The saving rate hit a record 25.7 percent level in the first quarter, indicating that few of the pandemic checks were spent.

The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) shrank at a record 32.9 percent annual rate in the second quarter. While almost all the major categories of GDP fell sharply, a 43.5 percent drop in consumption of services was the largest factor, accounting for 22.9 percentage points of the drop in the quarter. Nonresidential fixed investment also fell sharply, dropping at a 27.0 percent annual rate. Residential investment fell at a 38.7 percent annual rate.

The plunge in service consumption was expected since this was the segment of the economy hardest hit by the shutdowns. Within services, health care, food services and hotels, and recreation were the biggest factors reducing growth by 9.5 percentage points, 5.6 percentage points, and 4.7 percentage points, respectively.

Spending on health care services fell at a 62.7 percent annual rate in the quarter. This was due to people putting off a wide range of medical and dental checkups and procedures, which far more than offset the care needed by coronavirus patients. The annual rate of decline for food and hotel services was 81.2 percent and for recreation services 93.5 percent.

Consumption of nondurable goods fell at a 15.9 percent annual rate. Declines in clothing and gasoline purchases were the biggest factors, taking 1.0 percentage point and 0.9 percentage points off the quarter's growth, respectively. Demand for durable goods fell at just a 1.4 percent rate, but this followed a decline of 12.5 percent in the first quarter. Interestingly, spending on cars actually rose slightly in the quarter, adding 0.15 percentage points to growth.

Consumption expenditures by nonprofits serving households rose at 182.5 percent annual rate, adding 3.0 percentage points to the quarter's growth. This reflects the effort by private foundations and charities to ameliorate the hardships being experienced by many households.

Both structure and equipment investment fell sharply in the quarter, declining at 34.9 percent and 37.7 percent annual rates, respectively. The drop in equipment investment is especially striking since it fell at a 15.2 percent rate in the first quarter. Investment in intellectual products fell at a more modest 7.2 percent annual rate. Residential investment fell at a 38.7 percent annual rate, although this followed a jump of 19.0 percent in the first quarter.

Exports and imports both fell sharply, with exports dropping at a 64.1 percent rate and imports falling at a 53.4 percent rate. Because US imports are so much larger than exports, trade actually added 0.7 percentage points to growth in the quarter.

Federal government spending rose at a 17.4 percent annual rate, driven by a 39.7 percent increase in non-defense spending, presumably most of which is pandemic related. State and local spending fell at a 5.6 percent rate, likely reflecting school closings in the quarter.

[Graph]

Prices fell sharply in the quarter, with the Personal Consumption Expenditure (PCE) deflator falling at a 1.9 percent annual rate and the core PCE falling at a 1.1 percent annual rate. These declines reflected sharp drops in the price of items such as gasoline, hotels, and clothes. Many of these declines were already being reversed by the end of the quarter. They will almost certainly not continue into the third quarter.

The savings rate soared to a record 25.7 percent. This reflects the jump in disposable income attributable to the pandemic checks, coupled with the sharp drop in spending. Nominal disposable income rose at a 42.1 percent annual rate. This rise was, of course, uneven, with people who were still getting their regular paychecks or retirees seeing large jumps in income from the pandemic checks, but with many of the unemployed seeing sharp drops.

With the economy mostly reopened, despite serious outbreaks of the pandemic in large parts of the country, we are virtually certain to see strong growth in the third quarter. But even if the economy grows at a 15 or 20 percent annual rate, it would be nowhere close to recovering the losses from the last two quarters.

The shape of the rescue package currently being debated will also be hugely important. In addition to the unemployment insurance supplements that will be necessary for laid-off workers to sustain their consumption, state and local governments will need large amounts of money both to avoid layoffs and to implement programs for the safe reopening of schools, workplaces and businesses. In this context, it is very difficult to see any economic rationale for the $1,200 pandemic checks.

[Jul 31, 2020] The Consequences of a Very High Level of Inequality Can Be Fatal

After some level inequality is akin to cancel -- it can destroy the society. In a countries with very high level of inequality the government can't rely on loyalty of people. It also leads to the proliferation of "guard labor" in one form or another.
Just think what it means for the USA counterintelligence now. Add to this the collapse of the neoliberal ideology which also does not help to instill the loyalty.
Jul 31, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
The Consequences of Inequality Can Be Fatal Posted on July 30, 2020 by Yves Smith

Yves here. So many of health costs of inequality are obvious, yet most people seem trained to look past them. And Congress fiddles about a new stimulus package, with the odds of getting it back on track soon not looking very good, while Americans have rent and mortgage payments looming.

By Richard D. Wolff, professor of economics emeritus at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and a visiting professor in the Graduate Program in International Affairs of the New School University, in New York. Wolff's weekly show, "Economic Update," is syndicated by more than 100 radio stations and goes to 55 million TV receivers via Free Speech TV. His two recent books with Democracy at Work are Understanding Marxism and Understanding Socialism , both available at democracyatwork.info . Produced by Economy for All , a project of the Independent Media Institute

Capitalism, as Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century shows, relentlessly worsens wealth and income inequalities. That inherent tendency is only occasionally stopped or reversed when masses of people rise up against it. That happened, for example, in western Europe and the U.S. during the 1930s Great Depression. It prompted social democracy in Europe and the New Deal in the United States. So far in capitalism's history, however, stoppages or reversals around the world proved temporary. The last half-century witnessed a neoliberal reaction that rolled back both European social democracy and the New Deal. Capitalism has always managed to resume its tendential movement toward greater inequality.

Among the consequences of a system with such a tendency, many are awful. We are living through one now as the COVID-19 pandemic, inadequately contained by the U.S. system, savages Americans of middle and lower incomes and wealth markedly more than the rich.

The rich buy better health care and diets, second homes away from crowded cities, better connections to get government bailouts, and so on. Many of the poor are homeless. Tasteless advice to "shelter at home" is, for them, absurd. Low-income people are often crowded into the kinds of dense housing and dense working conditions that facilitate infection. Poor residents of low-cost nursing homes die disproportionally, as do prison inmates (mostly poor). Pandemic capitalism distributes death in inverse proportion to wealth and income.

Social distancing has destroyed especially low-wage service sector jobs. Rarely did top executives lose their positions, and when they did, they found others. The result is a widened gap between high salaries for some and low or no wages for many. Unemployment invites employers to lower wages for the still employed because they can. Pandemic capitalism has provoked a massive increase in money-creation by central banks. That money fuels rising stock markets and thereby enriches the rich who own most shares. The coincidence of rising stock markets and mass unemployment plus falling wages only adds momentum to worsening inequality.

Unequal economic distributions (of income and wealth) finance unequal political outcomes. Whenever a small minority enjoys concentrated wealth within a society committed to universal suffrage, the rich quickly understand their vulnerability. The non-wealthy majority can use universal suffrage to prevail politically. The majority's political power could then undo the results of the economy including its unequal distribution of income and wealth. The rich corrupt politics with their money to prevent exactly that outcome. Capitalists spend part of their wealth to preserve (and enlarge) all of their wealth.

The rich and those eager to join them in the U.S. dominate within both Republican and Democratic parties. The rich provide most of the donations that sustain candidates and parties, the funding for armies of lobbyists "advising" legislators, the bribes, and many issue-oriented public campaigns. The laws and regulations that flow from Washington, states, and cities reflect the needs and desires of the rich far more than those of the rest of us. The peculiar structure of U.S. property taxes offers an example. In the U.S., property is divided into two kinds: tangible and intangible. Tangible property includes land, buildings, business inventories, automobiles, etc. Intangible property is mostly stocks and bonds. Rich people hold most of their wealth in the form of intangible property. It is thus remarkable that in the U.S., only tangible property is subject to property tax. Intangible property is not subject to any property tax.

The kinds of property (tangible) that many people own get taxed, but the kinds of property (intangible) mostly owned by the richest minority do not get taxed. If you own a house rented to tenants, you pay a property tax to the municipality where the house is located. You also pay an income tax on the received rents to the federal government and likely also the state government where you live. You are thus taxed twice: once on the value of the property you own and once on the income you derive from that property. If you sell a $100,000 house and then buy $100,000 worth of shares, you will owe no property taxes to any level of government in the United States. You will only owe income tax on dividends paid to you on the shares you own. The form of property you own determines whether you pay property tax or not.

This property tax system is excellent for those rich enough to buy significant amounts of shares. The rich used their wealth to get tax laws written that way for them. The rest of us pay more in taxes because the rich pay less. Because the rich save money -- since their intangible property is not taxed -- they have that much more to buy the politicians who secure such a tax system for them. And that tax system worsens inequality of wealth and income.

Unequal economic distributions finance unequal cultural outcomes. For example, the goal of a unifying, democratizing public school system has always been subverted by economic inequality. In general (with few exceptions), the better schools cost more to attend. The tutors needed to help struggling students are affordable for the rich but less so for everyone else. The children of the wealthy get the private schools, books, quiet rooms, computers, educational trips, extra art and music lessons, and virtually everything else needed for higher educational achievement.

Unequal economic distributions finance unequal "natural" outcomes. The U.S. now displays two differently priced foods. Rich people can afford "organic" while the rest of us worry but still buy "conventional" food for budget reasons. Countless studies indicate the dangers of herbicides, pesticides, chemical fertilizers, food processing methods, and additives. Nonetheless, the two-price food system delivers the better, safer food more to the rich than to everyone else. Likewise, the rich buy the safer automobiles, more safely equip their homes, and clean and filter the water they drink and the air they breathe. No wonder the rich live years longer on average than other people. Inequality is often fatal, not just during pandemics.

In ancient Greece, Plato and Aristotle worried about and discussed the threat to community, to social cohesion, posed by inequalities of wealth and income. They criticized markets as institutions because, in their view, markets facilitated and aggravated income and wealth inequalities. But modern capitalism sanctifies markets and has thus conveniently forgotten Plato's and Aristotle's cautions and warnings about markets and inequality.

The thousands of years since Plato and Aristotle have seen countless critiques, reforms, and revolutions directed against wealth and income inequalities. They have rarely succeeded and have even more rarely persisted. Pessimists have responded, as the Bible does, with the notion that "the poor shall always be with us." We rather ask the question: Why did so many heroic efforts at equality fail?

The answer concerns the economic system, and how it organizes the people who work to produce and distribute the goods and services societies depend on. If its economic organization splits participants into a small rich minority and a large non-rich majority, the former will likely be determined to reproduce that organization over time. Slavery (master versus slave) did; feudalism (lord versus serf) did; and capitalism (employer versus employee) does. Inequality in the economy is a root cause contributing to society-wide inequalities.

We might then infer that an alternative economic system based on a democratically organized community producing goods and services -- not split into a dominant minority and a subordinate majority -- might finally end social inequality.


Ignacio , July 30, 2020 at 10:16 am

Wow! I just can say this is very well pointed and that It must be understood we cannot expect empathy from the well off. Even if some are empathic by nature they just cannot see what's really happening given how wide is the rift.

rob , July 30, 2020 at 10:39 am

inequality is a state of nature. blame god .right.
but here in this humanistic creation, we ought not institutionalize inequality.
That is one of the big points of monetary reform.
The current federal reserve system and the banking system ,having control of the "money creation" of this country, PROMOTES wealth inequality.
The nationalization of the fed, and the ending of banks creating money; is the main essence of monetary reform. The people who have been trying to discuss the world with a different ,more equal access to the fiat created "for the people to use, for the economy to function",point to the growth of inequality by the nature of how the system currently is structured. They point to how our money is created and by whom.They point to who gets "the debt"
Some people try to dismiss the 100 year history of the fed promoting inequality as a bug . but how can someone not see it is a feature, The monetary system we have now was created by an act of law. It would be unconstitutional ,if not for the federal reserve act. Allowing the banks to create money.Instead of the congress..as the constitution explicitly stated.
But now, we are no longer a fledgling republic.
The world accepted our fiat, as created by bankers now we ought to create our own money and retire our national debt.Heal ourselves, to lead forward in the future. Time to write a new law .
https://www.congress.gov/bill/112-thcongress/house-bill/2990/text

Anonymous , July 30, 2020 at 10:53 am

Pessimists have responded, as the Bible does, with the notion that "the poor shall always be with us."

The Bible does not say that, it says:

However, there will be no poor among you , since the Lord will surely bless you in the land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance to possess, if only you listen obediently to the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all this commandment which I am commanding you today. Deuteronomy 15:4 [bold added]

But just a few verses later:

For the poor will never cease to be in the land ; therefore I command you, saying, 'You shall freely open your hand to your brother, to your needy and poor in your land.' Deuteronomy 15:11 [bold added]

Taken together, these verses are not about the inevitability of poverty but the inevitability of poverty from DISOBEDIENCE to what is being commanded – especially, i suppose, wrt economic justice.

So though we might never completely eliminate poverty, it can certainly be reduced to the extent we are willing to obey – per the Bible.

And as anyone who has read the Old Testament should know, the US is far from obedience wrt economic justice (e.g. Deuteronomy 23:19-20, e.g. Leviticus 25).

Alternate Delegate , July 30, 2020 at 3:39 pm

Yes the Bible most certainly does say that.

Mark 14:7 For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but me ye have not always.

Matthew 26:11 For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always.

Anonymous , July 30, 2020 at 4:43 pm

Those statements are indictments of injustice, not excuses for poverty (cf. Deuteronomy 15:4).

TomDority , July 30, 2020 at 1:27 pm

"If you own a house rented to tenants, you pay a property tax to the municipality where the house is located."
the above means that you are already up the income ladder enough to not qualify as being low income _ most of the country is low income since the word Low is comparative – it is comparative to the cost of living –
So the above property tax is paid by the tenant – the carry costs by the tenant and the profit – by the tenant.
So the rent is a high cost of living due to the bidding up or asset inflation that most "investment goes into today"
A key way to reduce inequality is through a tax system that penalizes activities that tend to raise the cost of living – tax heavier the investments that inflate asset prices (assets are things already created).
Taxing something is to put a burden upon an activity
Why we tax labor so much – who knows

Michael Fiorillo , July 30, 2020 at 4:43 pm

The Great Depression of the 1930's prompted social democracy in Europe?

The professor skipped an episode or two there, no?

Susan the other , July 30, 2020 at 2:59 pm

When it comes to the value of money everything is skewed. If Picketty were analyzing money as merely a medium of exchange and not a store of wealth he'd have much less inequity. When the value of money is considered in on-the-ground finance operations "lost opportunity" is considered into the interest rate. Lost opportunity is totally ignored on a human level. You'd think that money itself was a person.

[Jul 31, 2020] The effect of corporarovirus on the economy

Jul 31, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Ashino , Jul 30 2020 21:09 utc | 16

SOME NUMBERS....

Another 1.416 million Americans filed new claims for unemployment benefits last weekOur politicians want to encourage people "to go back to work", but for millions upon millions of Americans the jobs that they once had are gone forever.

52 million Americans have filed new claims for unemployment benefits over the past 18 weeksBut many people that live in rural communities are feeling pretty good aboutthings right now. Even though more than 52 million Americans have filed new claims for unemployment benefits over the last 18 weeks, the official unemployment rate in many rural counties is still in the single
digits.
New York's unemployment rate rose to 20.4% last month, according to state-level data issued
Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics that detailed figures for some large metro areas. That'sup from 18.3% in May and 15% in April.
Los Angeles, the second-largest U.S. city, has seen a similar level of joblessness.Its unemployment rate recovered slightly in June but remains startlingly high -- at 19.5%, versus 20.6% in May, according to data published Friday by California's Employment Development Department.

Census Bureau says that things are particular dire for Black and Hispanic renters This month (JUNE), nearly 28% of Black renters say they haven't paid last month's rent, and \about 46% say they have slight or no confidence they'll be able to pay next month's rent, according to figures from the Census Bureau's Household Pulse Survey. Hispanic renters face similar economic strain: 22% say they missed last month's rent and 46% fear they won't make rent next month.

In April, 78% of those in households experiencing job loss felt that that situation would be temporarily. But now, 47% think that job loss is likely to be permanent, according to The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

19 percent of all U.S. small businesses were closed, According to Jefferies,
Nearly a quarter of all small businesses in the entire country are closed
And the really bad news is that many of them will never end up reopening
As many as 76,000 small businesses in New York City – a third of the 230,000
citywide – may never reopen after forced to close during the COVID-19 lockdown,
business leaders have warned.
Nearly half of all small-business members of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce lost 100% of their sales or closed down completely.

Yelp says that a whopping 60 percent of the restaurants that were initially listed as"temporarily closed" on their site are now classified as permanetly
closed...

Air travel is another industry that is being absolutely devastated by this pandemic.After a modest bounce in June, the number of air passengers is starting to fall again.The resurgence of coronavirus infections is derailing the travel industry's modest recovery. The number of air passengers processed through TSA security lines fell during the week ended July 20, compared with the prior week, according to Bank of America. This metric is down more than 70% from a year ago.

United (UAL) CEO Scott Kirby told CNBC on Wednesday that the airline doesn't "expect to get anywhere close to normal until there's a vaccine that's been wiely distributed to a large portion of the population" !! (Hello Big Pharma Inc.)

http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/
(Whatever one might think about that blog, but most numbers are proberly back up
with so callled serious sources aka links.)


Peter AU1 , Jul 30 2020 21:48 utc | 21

The cost of herd imunity.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-07-31/coronavirus-covid-19-us-economy-record-plunge/12509976
"The US economy has shrunken at a dizzying 32.9 per cent annual rate in the April–June quarter.

It is by far its worst quarterly plunge, and has thrown tens of millions out of work and sent unemployment surging to 14.7 per cent, the US Government said on Thursday (local time).

The Commerce Department's estimate of the second-quarter decline in the gross domestic product marked the sharpest such drop, according to records dating back to 1947."

psychohistorian , Jul 31 2020 0:05 utc | 38

@ b who wrote
"
The economic damage the pandemic has caused in the U.S. is extreme:
"

The pandemic is a set up for the economic damage more than it caused itself, IMO. The economic system started crashing last September. Empire has been in frantic mode. in case you hadn't noticed, to find a patsy to blame for the economic crash. I believe that response to the pandemic was designed to project the most economic impact to cover for the financial structural deficiencies underneath. Jobs going away to automation is not a new trend, nor is reduction of consumption due to less disposable income.....there really has been no economic recovery for the masses since 2008.

And that great Man for Humanity, as some here still believe, Trump has been proposing things like suspending the payroll tax which would kill the Social Security Insurance program, pushing back the election to a better time`and deflecting responsibility for the hundred thousand and counting dead because Empire is designed for profit, not people and comparison with China's results are telling.

This is what living under the dictatorship of global private finance provides for the masses which pales in comparison with public finance centered nations.

[Jul 30, 2020] Building an Inclusive Post-Pandemic American Workforce by Michele Steeb Michele Steeb

Jul 30, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

>

ll eyes are on the declining number of unemployed. The May and June jobs reports chronicle the reabsorption of 5.3 million who lost their jobs in the COVID-19 pandemic. Twelve million jobs to go to reach pre-pandemic employment.

Yet prior to the pandemic, there were 18 million Americans missing from the economy. These persons were neither employed nor seeking employment -- nor retirees, students or in-home caregivers -- and therefore were excluded from the Bureau of Labor Statistics count of the workforce. In order that America emerge from the pandemic stronger than before, a concerted initiative by federal and state governments to move them back into the economy -- using existing resources -- must begin now.

...

Research on the social determinants of health finds that employment has a very strong correlation with positive health outcomes. To exist as a non-participant in the economy is thus an invitation to dire health outcomes including premature death.

What's more, these individuals are needed as contributors to our national commonweal, fueling increased economic and social progress. And people engaged in productive activities are much less likely to engage in negative and destructive behaviors.

... The USDA's food stamp program has a robustly funded, though underutilized, employment and training grant. States use the excuse of USDA's partial match requirement as a reason to opt out.

[Jul 30, 2020] Financial capitalism is bloodthirstily by definition as it needs new markets. It fuels wars.

Jul 29, 2020 | crookedtimber.org

steven t johnson 07.29.20 at 3:14 pm (50 )

PS likbez@46 reminded me of a line from the movie Reds. Warren Beatty's John Reed spoke of people who "though Karl Marx wrote a good antitrust law." This was not a favorable comment. The confusion of socialism and what might be called populism is quite, quite old. Jack London's The Iron Heel has its hero pointing out even before the Great (Class) War that the normal operations of capitalism, concentration and centralization, destroyed the middle class paradise of equal competition. It wasn't conspiracies.

likbez 07.29.20 at 3:30 pm

@steven t johnson 07.29.20 at 3:14 pm (51)

Jack London's The Iron Heel has its hero pointing out even before the Great (Class) War that the normal operations of capitalism, concentration and centralization, destroyed the middle class paradise of equal competition.

I think the size of the USA military budget by itself means the doom for the middle class, even without referring to famous Jack London book (The Iron Heel is cited by George Orwell 's biographer Michael Shelden as having influenced Orwell's most famous novel Nineteen Eighty-Four.).

Wall Street and MIC (especially intelligence agencies ; Allen Dulles was a Wall Street lawyer) are joined at the hip. And they both fully control MSM. As Jack London aptly said:

"The press of the United States? It is a parasitic growth that battens on the capitalist class. Its function is to serve the established by moulding public opinion, and right well it serves it."
― Jack London, The Iron Heel

Financial capitalism is bloodthirstily by definition as it needs new markets. It fuels wars. In a sense, Bolton is the symbol of financial capitalism foreign policy.

It is important to understand that finance capitalism creates positive feedback loop in the economy increasing instability of the system. So bubbles are immanent feature of finance capitalism, not some exception or the result of excessive greed.

[Jul 30, 2020] Almost 30 Million in U.S. Didn't Have Enough to Eat Last Week by Maeve Sheehey

Jul 29, 2020 | www.bloomberg.com

[Image removed]
People wait in their vehicles to receive food at a drive-thru food
distribution event in Chula Vista, California, on May 1.

Food insecurity for U.S. households last week reached its highest reported level since the Census Bureau started tracking the data in May, with almost 30 million Americans reporting that they'd not had enough to eat at some point in the seven days through July 21.

In the bureau's weekly Household Pulse Survey, roughly 23.9 million of 249 million respondents indicated they had "sometimes not enough to eat" for the week ended July 21, while about 5.42 million indicated they had "often not enough to eat." The survey, which began with the week ended May 5, was published Wednesday.

The number of respondents who sometimes had insufficient food was at its highest point in the survey's 12 weeks. The number who often experienced food insufficiency was at its highest since the week ended May 26.

Food Insufficiency

A growing number of survey respondents say they don't have enough to eat

U.S Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey

This follows deep recession resulting from the pandemic, which put millions of Americans out of work. Unemployed Americans have been receiving an extra $600 per week benefit, which is set to expire at the end of July as Congress debates a new relief package.

Other high-frequency data, including Household Pulse jobs numbers, indicate that the U.S. economic recovery may be stalling out at virus cases spike around the country and states roll back their reopening plans.

[Jul 29, 2020] Meanwhile, great line from an infosec researcher and teacher here in San Francisco about whether university classes will reopen

Jul 29, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Richard Steven Hack , Jul 28 2020 5:39 utc | 122

Meanwhile, great line from an infosec researcher and teacher here in San Francisco about whether university classes will reopen:

Sam Bowne @sambowne Jul 26
Q: "When will this class be offered?" A: "Difficult to say, because there's a critical budget crisis at the college, city, state, and national level, and most if not all the officials at every level appear to be corrupt, incompetent, and insane."

[Jul 29, 2020] A Significant Decline Is Coming For The U.S-

Notable quotes:
"... The problem for the US is that China is the world's biggest semiconductor market and biggest chip importer on the world ..."
"... these bans are lose lose situation for both the US and China ..."
"... I do not think that Pompeo is smelling blood and moving for the jugular, its not such a situation as China is not that vulnerable, it is more likely to be US elite anger due to the US weakening and China gains during the Covid-19 crisis. ..."
"... Trump strategy of bullying works many times. Supposedly there should be costs for the US in soft power and world opinion, but we are not seeing them. ..."
"... I guess most of the world is too cowardly and prefers to go with the flow. They will abandon the US only after the US lost anyway. Well, it is not an easy situation. Still, the US reactions are very strong and hateful precisely because things are still not good for it and its decline is continuing, regardless of some tactical victories, where in some cases it is a lose lose situation anyway. ..."
Jul 29, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

A Significant Decline Is Coming For The U.S. james , Jul 27 2020 18:10 utc | 1

by Passer by

In response to several comments in the last open thread (slightly edited).

Actually there is even some real, and not only relative, decline for the US, for example US life expectancy is dropping. This is a pretty bad sign for a developed country. Same for the UK by the way.

On the issue of China gaining during the Covid crisis, they gained in raw power, for example gained in GDP relatively to the US. And they gained in debt levels too, relatively, as US debt levels exploded due to the crisis. Now you have V-shaped recovery in China and poor, W-shaped double dip recovery in the US. With far more debt added.

Of course there is the issue of public relations and soft power. On the one hand the US blamed China for the pandemic, but on the other hand it embarrassed itself due to its poor performance in containing the pandemic, compared to other countries. And the US lost points around the world due to rejecting WHO right in the middle of the pandemic. Europe and developing countries did not like that at all. Don't forget that Covid also weakened the US military, they have problems with it, including on ships and overseas bases, and even broke the biggest US exercise planned in Europe for the last 30 years. And the pandemic in the US is still raging, its not fixed at all and death rates are increasing again.

Here for example, the futurologists from Pardee Canter that that China gained during the crisis, in raw capabilities. Future research and relative power between countries is their specialty :

Research Associate Collin Meisel and Pardee Center Director Jonathan Moyer use IFs (International Futures) to explore the long-term impact of COVID-19 in China in this Duck Of Minerva blog post" "Where broad measures of material capabilities are concerned, the picture is clear: COVID-19 is closing the gap in relative capabilities for the U.S. and China and accelerating the U.S.-China transition. Through multiple long-term forecast scenarios using the International Futures tool, Research Associate Collin Meisel and Pardee Center Director Jonathan Moyer explain on the Duck of Minerva blog that China is likely to gain approximately one percent of global power relative to the U.S. by 2030 due to the economic and mortality impacts of COVID-19. This share of global power is similar to the relative capabilities of Turkey today.

On the issue of the USD, Stephen Roach also says that there will be a significant decline in the medium term. And the argument is pretty logical - if the US share in the global economy is declining (and it will be declining at least up to year 2060), and if the level of US debts is reaching all time high levels, then the USD will decline. I agree with that argument. It is fully logical.

On the chip/semiconductor issue. David Goldman is skeptical that the US will be able to stop China on this :

The chip ban gives the world an enormous incentive to circumvent the US
Basically Huawei still has advanced suppliers, from South Korea and Japan. And some of them are refusing to yield. The problem for the US is that China is the world's biggest semiconductor market and biggest chip importer on the world , which gives enormous initiative for private businesses to circumvent US made equipment in order to export to China. Then also China is stashing large quantities of chips. By 2025, it should be able to replace foreign production with homegrown. So these bans are lose lose situation for both the US and China - yes, this will cause come costs to China up to 2025. But it will also lead to US companies, such as Qualcomm, to lose the Chinese chip market, which is the largest in the world, and there is nothing to replace it.

These are hundreds of billions of losses for the US due to gradually losing the most lucrative market. Thus, in relative terms, China does not lose from these games, as the US will pay a large price just as China. It is lose-lose situation, but in relative terms the same. US loses just as China loses. And do not forget that China warned that a full US attack on Huawei will lead to Boeing being kicked from the country, which is becoming the biggest aviation market in the world, and will lead to hundreds of billions of losses for that company too, and will probably burry it under Airbus. China needs lots of planes up to 2028, when they will replace them with their own, worth hundreds of billions of dollars. Elevating Airbus over Boeing, which already has big troubles, will be a significant hit for the US aerospace industry.

So China has cards to play too. On the issue of the US getting some countries to ban Huawei, it is again lose - lose situation - that is both the US and some of its allies will lose due to using more expensive 5G equipment and will lose more time to build their networks. So China loses, and US and some allies lose, but in relative terms things remain the same between them power-wise, as they both lose. Do not forget that Germany said that it will continue to use Huawei equipment, and this is the biggest economy in Europe:

Germany's three major telecommunications operators Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone and Telefonica have been actively promoting 5G in recent years. They implement the "supplier diversification" strategy and use Huawei equipment in their networks among other vendors. Peter Altmaier, German minister of economy, told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on July 11 that Germany would not exclude Huawei from the country's 5G network rollout. "There can only be an exclusion if national security is demonstrably at risk. However, we will strengthen our security measures, regardless of which country the products come from," said Altmaier. "There is no change in Germany's position," a spokesperson of the country's Interior Ministry told local broadcaster ARD on July 16.

So we can say that probably half of Europe will be using Huawei. Still, as you said, a large part of the world will exclude it. Maybe half of world's GDP. Unfortunately things are not perfect. One bright spot in that is that Huawei is betting on emerging markets, and emerging markets have higher growth rates than western markets - that is, they will matter more in the future.

I would agree that the US is harming China, but the damage is not large IMO, as these are mostly lose lose situations where relative power stays the same. And with time, there will be significant damages for the US too, such as losing the biggest chip and aviation markets and the empowerment of Boeing competitors such as Airbus.

So its not too bad in China. Thus, after mentioning all of this, I do not think that Pompeo is smelling blood and moving for the jugular, its not such a situation as China is not that vulnerable, it is more likely to be US elite anger due to the US weakening and China gains during the Covid-19 crisis.

On Hong Kong China had no options. It was a lose-lose situation. If they allowed everything to stay as it is there would be constant color revolution there and they will be constantly in the media. Maybe it is better to stop this once and for all. They hoped that the Covid crisis will give them cover to do this. It did not work very well.

Unfortunately it is right that the Trump strategy of bullying works many times. Supposedly there should be costs for the US in soft power and world opinion, but we are not seeing them.

I guess most of the world is too cowardly and prefers to go with the flow. They will abandon the US only after the US lost anyway. Well, it is not an easy situation. Still, the US reactions are very strong and hateful precisely because things are still not good for it and its decline is continuing, regardless of some tactical victories, where in some cases it is a lose lose situation anyway.

The data shows a significant decline incoming for the US.

The Highway Trust Fund (HTF) will be depleted by 2021, the Medicare Hospital Insurance (HI) trust fund by the beginning of 2024, the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) trust fund in the 2020s, the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation (PBGC) Multi-Employer fund at some point in the mid-2020s, and the Social Security Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) trust fund by 2031. We estimate the theoretically combined Social Security OASDI Trust fund will run out of reserves by 2031.

That is not to mention the big divide in US society, and the ongoing Covid crisis, which is still not fixed in the US. But is largely fixed in China. Do you see the decline now? They have a big, big reason to be worried. A significant decline is coming for the US.

Posted by b on July 27, 2020 at 17:53 UTC | Permalink

thanks for highlighting 'passer by's post b... i agree with them for the most part... it reminds me of a game of chess where pieces are being removed from the board.. it is a lose- lose, but ultimately, it is a bigger loss for the usa down the road... for whatever reason the usa can't see that the financial sanctions, bullying and etc, only go so far and others work around this as we see with russia, iran, venezuala and china in particular...

the one comment i would view differently then passer by is this one - "Unfortunately it is right that the Trump strategy of bullying works many times. Supposedly there should be costs for the US in soft power and world opinion, but we are not seeing them." i think the usa is losing it's position in terms of soft power and world opinion but you won't be reading about it in the western msm.. that is going to come out later after the emergence of a new reality is very clear for all to see... the trump strategy is really more of the same and it is like a medicine that loses it's power over time and becomes ineffective - sort of like antibiotics...


O , Jul 27 2020 18:34 utc | 7

In other words the western oligarchs will lose out to the eastern oligarchs in the Great Trade War under the cover of a fake pandemic.

Or perhaps the global oligarchs in general just want the world to follow more in the Chinese model where the population is more agreeable to total surveillance, social credit scores and even more out right fascistic government/corp model under the cover of a fake pandemic.

Kadath , Jul 27 2020 18:46 utc | 8

Re: James #1,

With respect to "bullying works", in international diplomacy it usually does since weaker powers have more to lose in a direct diplomatic crisis with a larger power. This is not to say that they won't push back, but they will be far more strategic in where they do. In essence, weaker powers have fewer "red lines" but they will still enforce those, while greater powers have more "red lines", because they have more power to squander on fundamentally insignificant issues. However, weaker states will still remember being abused and oppressed, so when the worms turns while they won't be the first to jump ship, they will be more than eager to pile on and extract some juicy retribution once it is clear they will not be singled out. I suspect the Germany will be the bellwether, when (if) Germany breaks from the US on a key aspect on the transatlantic relationship that will be the signal for others to start jumping ship. If Nordstream 2 go through, then there will be a break within 5 years; if Nordstream is killed, then the break might be delayed for 5 years or more but there will still be a break when the US pushes Germany to support the next major US regime change war in the Middle East.

O , Jul 27 2020 19:10 utc | 16

The engineered collapse is being called the "Great Reset" by many outlets already. The covid nonsense is just a cover for it. Instead of Saudi Arabian terrorist it is a basically a harmless coronavirus. Just in the days immediately following 911 the "terrorist'' threat was so overhyped that security theater was employed everywhere. Now sanitation theater is the new act in town.

blum , Jul 27 2020 19:11 utc | 17

Where does anyone get these numbers about military spend as a % of gdp? Have you listened to Katherine Austin Fitts on Corbett Report?
Posted by: oglalla | Jul 27 2020 18:27 utc | 4

If you could dig through the linked Committee for a Responsible Federal Budge links for me. I'd appreicate it a lot. ;)
http://www.crfb.org/blogs/major-trust-funds-headed-insolvency-within-11-years

Long time not heard anything from Katherine. You feel I should check both her and Corbert on Gates, I suppose?

karlof1 , Jul 27 2020 19:24 utc | 19

Article discussing political fallout from info provided @11.

Andrei @14--

Good to see your comment. Lots of anecdotal evidence nationwide about store closures and many vacancies in business centers, particularly within economic engines of NYC and elsewhere along the East Coast. IMO, lots of self-censorship by business media while the reality reported by Shadowstats goes ignored. As for losing the status of #1 economy, that was always going to occur once China or India became a moderately developed economy. It just happened that China is far more efficient politically which allowed it to become #1. And until India improves politically, it will continue to lag behind numerous smaller nations. Too bad there isn't a place where one can bet on the great likelihood that the Outlaw US Empire will outperform all nations in the production of Bullshit and Lies.

Jackrabbit , Jul 27 2020 20:48 utc | 29

I also disagree with the comparison between USA and China gdp and other statistics.

China is not simply competing against USA but against the Empire: 5 eyes, NATO, Euro poodles, Israel and the Gulf States and others like Mexico, Columbia, Brazil, India.

Anyone that is minimizing the conflict and the advantages of one side vs another is doing a disservice.

Cold War I lasted 40 years.

!!

Mark2 , Jul 27 2020 21:13 utc | 39

CitizenX @ 26
Agree with your tone and content.
Particularly the third from last paragraph. I think people are missing by choice the growing ground-swell of public opinion US wide as this blog shows, a multi-faceted detereation of US political morals and legality.
Combined with a world wide growing awareness of how deranged American leaders now are.
Haterd consumes itself as dose greed.
My ear to the ground tells me, the protests at present are growing some in full sight some not.
This is not buseness as usual. Then return to normal. The mood now is -- -- - let's settle this thing once and for all, let's get the job done.
So my personal opinion ? we will see a US regime chainge faster than a lot here predict. Much faster.

jadan , Jul 27 2020 21:50 utc | 54

Passer by is correct, no doubt, thanks to incompetent leadership in the US, but this economic horse race doesn't matter.

What matters above all is that nations should hold it together, "it" being sustainable, survivable support systems capable of providing for mass populations.We have failed that test here in our encounter with this pandemic. We have failed to develop a sustainable financial system. We have failed to meet any sort of environmental goals. We don't even have environmental goals! Our electoral system doesn't work, either, proof being the election of this idiot atavistic rich boy. If anyone thinks the election of Trump reflects the will of the majority of Americans, they are part of the problem.

China is in deep trouble. The CCP's greatest challenge is simply to hold "it" together. The Party has to perform economic miracles or the country will collapse. Those groups not satisfied with life in the PRC have no outlet for their voices to be heard. They cannot protest. They are under the strict control of an increasingly sophisticated but tiny elitist clique that is only 6.5% of the total population. This clique will not relinquish power and permit more democratic expression. On the contrary, more and more suppression of dissidence of any sort will happen. The social scoring system is an especially insidious program of social control. China's collectivism has turned the country into an ant hill. It is extremely productive, but people are not ants.

Passer by is looking at the world through a keyhole.

O , Jul 27 2020 22:23 utc | 68

Nightmare' conditions at Chinese factories where Hasbro and Disney toys are made


Investigators found there were serious violations at the factories which were endangering workers.

In peak production season, employees were working up to 175 overtime hours per month. Chinese labour law restricts monthly overtime to 36 hours per month, but the report alleged factories would often ask local governments to implement a "comprehensive working hour scheme" to override existing legislation.

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/12/07/nightmare-at-chinese-factories-making-hasbro-and-disney-toys.html

O , Jul 27 2020 22:28 utc | 69

One wonders if China will run into the same problems of the US in the not too distant future?

"The End of Sweatshops? Robotisation and the Making of New Skilled Workers in China"


Over the past four decades China has undergone a process of massive industrialisation that has allowed the country to achieve remarkable economic growth. Because of its large manufacturing capacity based on a seemingly unlimited supply of cheap migrant labour in light industries, China has come to be known as the 'workshop of the world'. However, since the early 2000s the country's labour market has experienced a remarkable transition from labour surplus to a shortage of labour, which has led to sustained increases in the wages of ordinary workers. In such a context, since 2015 robotisation has become a driving policy for industrial upgrading for manufacturing in China, with the slogan 'replacing human workers with industrial robots' (机器换人) frequently appearing in media reports and official policy documents.

https://madeinchinajournal.com/2020/05/07/the-end-of-sweatshops-robotisation-and-the-making-of-new-skilled-workers-in-china/


Jackrabbit , Jul 27 2020 22:39 utc | 72

karlof1 @Jul27 21:50 #55

Thank you for clarifying that.

The early date of "full spectrum dominance" (1996 not 2010) suggests to me that the doctrine was related the "end of history" thinking of that time. USA Deep State believed its own propaganda.

It also strengthens my case for the proximate cause for the current conflict originating in 2014 when the US Deep State suddenly realized the threat that Russia and China Alliance posed to their plans for global domination.

Not only had they believed their own propaganda but they had overreached with their attempt to force Russia to capitulate and had been distracted by Israel interests that wanted to use USA for the greater Israel project.

!!

karlof1 , Jul 27 2020 22:59 utc | 74
When I wrote my economic analysis paper on China in 1999, it was quite clear that the 21st Century was going to become the Asian Century as the Outlaw US Empire would be eclipsed by Asia's economic dynamism. 20+ years later, my prediction holds true, and it's even stronger now than then with Russia's resurgence. Both outcomes clearly go against the 500+ years of Western Global Hegemony and goads numerous people. For students of history like myself, what's occurring isn't a surprise thanks to the West's adoption of--or should I write forced indoctrination into--the Neoliberal political-economic philosophy, which is akin to that of Feudalism since it benefits the same class as that of the Feudal Era. China too was once Feudal and suffered a massive Civil War that destroyed much of its structure, a conflict known to the West as The Taiping Rebellion that lasted almost 14 years, from 1850-1864. One might say that was the first half of China's overall effort to overthrow Feudalism and Western Imperialism, as the second half began in 1927 and finally concluded in 1949. That amounts to a large % of years for a newbie nation like the USA; but for a nation like China inhabited by humans for over 1.3 million years and with 4,500 years of recorded history, it's really just another Dynastic Rollover--something inconceivable to non-Asians.

In reality, China's a conservative nation, culture and society with a several thousand year ethos of Collectivism, although that allowed a significant divergence in social stratification due to the ruling Feudal ways. Those who have read The Good Earth have an excellent grasp on the nature of Chinese Feudalism, which was embodied by the Kuomintang or KMT--as with Feudal lords, KMT leaders were deemed "Gangsters" by US Generals and diplomats during and after WW2. General Marshall wrote in 1947 it was clear to him that the KMT would lose to the CPC, that there was no good reason to throw good money after bad, and it would be best for the USA and the West to accept the fact of a Communist China (all noted by Kolko in his Politics of War ). Contemporary China when compared to China as depicted in 1931 by Pearl Buck is one of the most amazing human achievements of all time, and the conservative Chinese government intends to keep it that way through a series of well thought-out plans. That's the reality. It can be accepted and worked with as numerous nations realize, or it be somehow seen as unacceptable and fought against in what will prove to be a losing effort since all China need do is parry the blows and reflect them back upon its opponent using skills it developed over several thousand years. It would be much easier to join China than fight.

Hoarsewhisperer , Jul 27 2020 23:00 utc | 75
It's misleading to assess the National Military Capability of various countries in $US terms. The West's M-IC is privately owned and puts shareholder profit before all else. And the owners of the Western M-IC also own the politicians who facilitate and approve the rip-offs.

China and Russia's M-IC are owned and controlled by The People via the government and can therefore get $2+ of value for every $1 invested. For example, one can buy some very nifty twin-engine bizjets for less than half the price USG pays for a flying Batmobile (F-35) - a glorified hot-rod with guns.

VietnamVet , Jul 27 2020 23:40 utc | 83

There is definitely a decline in the USA. Deaths of despair and from the coronavirus are too great to ignore anymore. 150,000 dead and counting are not nothing. The Western Empire has fallen. The U.S. federal government failed. The Imperialists are quarantined at home.

The question is if the 19th century North American Empire from Hawaii to Puerto Rico survives. The Elite have bet it all on a vaccine or patentable treatment to give the Pharmaceutical Industry billions of dollars. However, quick cheap paper monoclonal antigen tests would make testing at home before going to work or school practical.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h7Sv_pS8MgQ

This would end viral transmission and the pandemic. No drug jackpot for the 10%. Instead public health is ignored as Americans die. The silence is deafening. The protests in the Pacific Northwest are not about slavery. They are about the 90% of Americans being treated as disposable trash.

Jackrabbit , Jul 28 2020 0:26 utc | 87

VietnamVet | Jul 27 2020 23:40 utc | 83

150,000 dead and counting are not nothing. The Western Empire has fallen.

No offense VV but I can't help thinking that you (and maybe some others) are talking past the issue.

To be clear, the issue is this: Will the West's decline play a role in the US/Empire's ability and willingness to confront Russia-China? Or is the oft-heard refrain that US/Empire can not 'win' against China (implying that they shouldn't/won't bother trying!) because of its decline (usually attributed to 'late-state capitalism') just wishful thinking?

Virtually everyone here has agreed that the West - especially USA - hasn't fought the virus correctly and with vigor. And virtually everyone agrees that there has been a relative decline in USA/West and in some areas an absolute decline.

IMO what is ignored is that:

  1. from the perspective of the US 'Deep State' or Western power-elite the failure to fight the virus is a net positive if the repercussions are blamed on China (in addition to other 'positives' from their perspective: saving on cost of care to elderly, boosting Big Pharma profits, etc.) -

    In fact, deliberate mistakes and mounting only a token effort (as we've seen) is exactly what we should expect from a craven power-elite that want to further their interests;

  2. the overall decline, while troublesome - especially to the ordinary blokes who get the short end of that decline - is not yet significant enough to prevent USA/Empire from countering the Russia-China 'upstarts' aggressively.

I likened the hopefulness of the anti-Empire crowd about Western decline to their hopefulness they previously expressed regarding Turkey. "Erdogan is turning east!" proved to be wrong.

!!

Richard Steven Hack , Jul 28 2020 0:37 utc | 89

Posted by: Andrei Martyanov | Jul 27 2020 19:01 utc | 14 Within last 10 years China built surface fleet which in terms of hulls (and "freshness") rivals that of the US. US economy would have it bottom falling off if it tried to accomplish a similar task.

Nice to see you here again. Yes, I mentioned the relative navy building in the previous open thread. China's navy will exceed US capability by 2050 and be on parity by 2030-2040 according to reports I've read. That's just ten years to twenty years from now.

Result: US gets kicked out of the South China Sea and has to share the Pacific, Indian Ocean (as will India with gnashing of teeth) and even the Med with China. China will undoubtedly project naval power all the way to the Med in support of BRI in the Middle East.

Richard Steven Hack , Jul 28 2020 1:12 utc | 92

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jul 27 2020 20:43 utc | 27 There is decline, and while it has been mostly relative it is also accelerating - but that hasn't significantly constrained USA/Empire's response to the upstarts.

I agree. US military power isn't going away in ten years or twenty. China may achieve parity at some point (and can do serious damage now). But that doesn't obviate the fact that, short of nuclear war, the US is still in a position to throw its weight around and will continue to do so until forced back by a (hopefully conventional) military defeat of serious proportions, i.e., not just "give up and go home". And economic woes won't change that as long as the taxpayer can be fleeced - and they will be, for at least a few more decades.

jadan , Jul 28 2020 1:30 utc | 95

@ 62 A.L. "Would it be a surprise to you than there are many many protests in China at the grass root level everyday?"

There are indeed protests all the time, which is the fire under the local Party leaders that keeps them dancing. Usually the protests are against local corruption or mismanagement and are not serious. People can get what they want this way. Each year at the general Party gathering, however, special note is taken of "mass incidents", that is, protests on a larger scale, and overtly political events such as those in the Uighur province of Xinjiang and in Hong Kong. Any protest that challenges the control of the Party is not permitted. The current protests in the US could not happen in China because they challenge political orthodoxy. The Chinese don't just roll over on command for the CCP to scratch their bellies and the Party knows just how volatile the political situation could be if mishandled. China is developing into the ultimate surveillance state. There are lots of Chinese like that little guy that stood down the tank at Tienanmen in 1989. Eventually that guy is going to say: "There is some shit I will not eat!" The Party knows this.

Seer , Jul 28 2020 1:40 utc | 96

Several years ago (close to 10) I noted that the US would be bringing back US companies from China, that it would actually subsidize their relocation. It's only logical. I saw China as becoming hostile to US corporations: in light of how things are going today it's the US govt becoming hostile toward US companies in China. Make huge profits and then get free money to return back to the US: and be welcomed as victorious troops arriving back from some glorious war.

It's Musical Chairs. As the music plays more and more chairs are being removed. Capitalism has been the most efficient economic system in which to trigger an economic collapse. WTF did people think would happen with basing economic systems on the impossible, basing on perpetual growth on a finite planet. All of this was readily foreseeable using SIMPLE MATH.

Economies of scale in reverse...

Cyril , Jul 28 2020 1:43 utc | 98

@jadan | Jul 27 2020 21:50 utc | 54

China is in deep trouble. The CCP's greatest challenge is simply to hold "it" together. The Party has to perform economic miracles or the country will collapse.

How do you square your dire prediction of China's collapse with the Edelman trust barometer of 2019 (warning: PDF file), where China scores 88 on the trust index and the US scores 60?

Daniel , Jul 28 2020 1:51 utc | 101

The COVID-19 pandemic revealed that all the "leading" western countries are unable to handle even a relatively moderate public health crisis. The neoliberal economic model considers any aspect of society that isn't generating a profit as ideologically unsound and targets these areas for "reform" (i.e. privatization).

Sometimes this is done outright, as when a public utility or service is sold to a private, for-profit operator (e.g. British Rail in the UK). But when the government thinks the public will resist and push back it is done by stealth, usually by starving the targeted service/organization of funds and then farming out parts of it to for-profit companies in the name of "efficiency", "innovation", "resilience" or some other neoliberal doublespeak concept (they all mean only one thing of course: PROFIT). This is currently happening to the US Postal Service.

Every public healthcare system in the so-called "advanced" nations encompassed by the EU/NATO and Five Spies has been underfunded and subjected to stealth privatization for decades. Furthermore, people in neoliberal societies exist to serve as fodder and raw material for "the economy" (i.e. the plutocrat or oligarch class) and there is no mechanism to deal with emergencies that can't be milked for a profit. Hence, the half arsed, incompetent, making-it up-as-they-go-along response to COVID-19 that simply writes off older and sick people as expendable.

Neoliberalism began as a US/UK project, that's why poverty, crime, inadequate health care and social services etc. and governmental and societal dysfunction generally is more advanced there than in, say, Canada and Germany.

So, yes, the US is in decline, maybe even collapsing, but that doesn't mean the imperial lackey countries are immune to the forces tearing apart the United States. They are just proceeding down that road at a slower pace. If the US falls, the west falls...globalization takes no prisoners.

I live in Canada where sometimes people get a bit smug about how great everything is here compared to the US. In British Columbia, for example, opiate overdose deaths are at a record high and have killed many many more people than COVID-19 since the pandemic began. Housing in cities like Vancouver is increasingly unaffordable, there aren't enough jobs that pay a living wage, permanent homeless camps exist in city parks, there are entire blocks where people who live in their vehicles park etc.etc.

The reality is that it's the west that is in decline, not only the United States.

O , Jul 28 2020 1:51 utc | 102

China is developing into the ultimate surveillance state.
Posted by: jadan | Jul 28 2020 1:30 utc | 95

But don't you see, dear jadan, it is for the good of the people, if only the rest of the world could see the benevolence of Big Brother we would all be much happier at least that is what the thought police has told me to think. One government, one heart, one mind. Long Live the PRC revolution./s

Schmoe , Jul 28 2020 2:04 utc | 105

Amidst all of the nonsense in the discussion section of the following link, I believe there are some germane comments from individuals that work in the semiconductor space that touch on some of the challenges China's chip industry faces. link

This article notes the substantial challenges TSMC and Samsung would face it they tried to build a cutting edge chip facility without US cooperation: can-tsmc-and-samsung-build-a-production-line-for-huawei-without-us-equipment

I hope their hiring of 3,000 experienced chip engineers accelerates their learning curve. Developing a chip industry on a moment's notice, let alone competing with Samsung and TSMC, is no small chore.

One item not mentioned in the above article is whether China could build many consumer components based on domestic 14nm (or larger) technology. Given China used to spend more importing chips than oil, I assume that even less advanced chips used for TVs, etc. as opposed to cellphones, would be very helpful for China's consumer electronics manufacturing.

They are also making some strides in the flash memory and CPU space, but production quantities are still very low.

Peter AU1 , Jul 28 2020 2:54 utc | 108

Lose lose China loses less?

Health, education, infrastructure, research and development. The backbone of prosperity. These will all continue no matter trade war or cold war but barring hot war. There must be a doubling time for this - something like an R0. Cold war and sanctions will only serve to increase R&D

US mistakes, hubris ect move in the opposite direction, mistakes multiplying mistakes.

ptb , Jul 28 2020 2:55 utc | 109

@Schmoe 105
thanks, interesting. Here is a complementary tho less detailed article on some of the same topics I ran across recently: China Speeds Up Advanced Chip Development [semiconductorengineering.com]

One important point, clearly visible in the tables in the seekingalpha article linked by Schmoe, is that the ultra-small 14nm/7nm stuff is for specialized (but strategically important) applications. Most consumer electronics, industry, and everything else is 40-60nm and up, although of course smaller has benefits to older applications in improve power (i.e. mobile applications and servers) and cost (higher density/wafer)


Peter AU1 , Jul 28 2020 3:20 utc | 113

ptb

US as an one excuse for its current hostilities against China is 'intellectual property' theft. Makes me think of ninja Chinese sneaking around removing peoples brains.
But back to semiconductors. One of China's biggest imports is chips, mostly made by machines using US tech. Many industries are highly specialized and it often makes sense from small community level to national and global level to by a product from those that specialist in that product.
China has been content to buy chips, but that will now change due to necessity. Yankistan can now expect to get its brains hacked, but I am also reminded of the Scientists in the Manhattan Project being the ones to pass on much information to the Soviet Union.
Yankistan will be leaking like a sieve. I guess that's why both oz and the poms are beefing up their secret police laws. Wont be long before we are getting shot trying to run through checkpoint charlie to the free east.

gepay , Jul 28 2020 3:46 utc | 114

It is clear that the US is in decline. It is clear the US military is bloated and overpriced but it can still turn most countries into rubble (even without using nuclear weapons) and has done a few recently. Mostly the US uses its reserve currency status and control of financial networks to punish countries that do not go along with its program. Can you say sanctions. but as Hemingway said about bankruptcy - it happens slowly and then all at once - is probably how it will continue to go. It is even losing its technological advantage. Boeing used to be the leader and made reliable planes. Now they sometimes fall out of the air. Things like high speed railways used to be the kind of thing the US did well. Now California can't get one built. China has built thousands of miles of them. Russia built a 19 kilometer bridge to Crimea in 2 years after 2 years of planning. It appears to be competently built on time and on budget. Do you really think this could happen in the USA now? In the 70s the US was the leader in environmental actions. I wonder if the present day Congress could even pass bills comparable to the Clean Air ACT or the Clean water bill. US national politics are a mean joke. Our choice this year for President - two 70+ old white men with mental issues. Our health system is overpriced. Medical bills are one of the main reasons for personal bankruptcies. As others mentioned the US life expectancy is falling. As Dmitri Orlov who watched the Soviet Empire fail said - Empire hollowed out the Soviet Union till it failed, I see it doing the same thing in the US.

John A Lee , Jul 28 2020 4:04 utc | 115

The current 'adjustment' in the USD & living standards is just what the doctor ordered to allow elites to roll out "tech wave 2" - there is precious little gain to be had from further staffing & wages cuts to the average shit-kicker, so now the bourgeoisie, medicos, architects, academics, writers plus all the rest of the tertiary educated types who blew hundreds of thousands on an education guaranteed to keep them employed, are about to be tossed on the scrap heap.

We already know from previous stunts such as 911 & the 2008 'global financial meltdown' that those most disadvantaged by this entirely predictable destruction of lives will be easily diverted into time-wasting and pointless arguments about the real cause of the mess.

This will allow the elites to use that diversion to funnel all federal funds into subsidising the capital costs of the retooling, as both parties have begun to with the despicable CARES Act, supported by the mad christian right in the senate, as well as the so-called socialists in the Congress squad.

All the Cares Act does is inject capital into big corporations, boosting their stock price & leaving citizens to lose most of their unemployment benefit. Citizens get evicted from their homes. This time it will be tenants as well as home owners.

Both of those factions of elite enablers are going to create a great deal of noise and crass finger pointing. The squad will jump up and down about this being a deliberate attack on citizens by the elite while senate fundies will claim that this 'retooling' is the result of unreasonable pay & working conditions demands by the communist unions.

What should be a universal expression of disgust will be reduced to just another culture war.

Neither will ever admit that it is far too late to be worrying about cause, it is time to concern themselves with effect, because to do so would create focus back on where the money was going at time when it is important to be saying "everyone is hurting, including the elites". Fools.

Eventually when the deed has been done assorted scummy senators & creepy congress people will announce "It is time to move on" That will be a signal that treasury tanks are dry, the elites have gotten everything which wasn't nailed down so now the citizens can roll clawing & scratching in the mud.

I have no doubt that will be the direction of discussion here as well, it is much easier to sit at a keyboard digging out obscure 'facts' that 'prove' one point of view or another, than it is to leave the keyboard behind and put work into resisting the elites and in doing so forcing a change that is more citizen friendly.

Peter AU1 , Jul 28 2020 4:31 utc | 116

gepay

With the return of Russia to the geo-political arena, US can no longer destroy counties at will through conventional weapons nor color revolutions and AQ freedom fighters.
Trump decided to go nuclear, so Russia placed its nuclear umbrella over it allies.
US can no longer destroy countries at will. It can attack a country and risk ensuring its own destruction.
So back to hybrid war and proxie war ... but now the field is narrowed down to five-eyes and in the case of China - India.
So to keep Russia out, yankistan has to rely on conventional war and hybrid war, though we are looking at a country where the lunatics are in charge of the asylum so anything could happen.

Antonym , Jul 28 2020 5:29 utc | 119

5G, who wants this?

The MNCs producing it, the MSS, NSA and GCHQ, the IoT idiots and all authoritarians on the globe. Consumers are happy with 3G: many don't even have 4G reception - give that to them.

With IoT more unemployment, more electricity and Internet dependency, more chance of hacks or natural disruptions (solar flares), more 1984.

More is not always better at all.

aquadraht , Jul 28 2020 5:36 utc | 121

Just read an "opinion piece" demonstrated how remote from reality are not only people like Pompeo from a"liberal" commentator:

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/pompeos-surreal-speech-on-china/ar-BB17bk0t

The Chinese Communist Party wants a tributary international system where smaller countries are deferential to larger powers, instead of a rules-based international order where small countries enjoy equal rights.

HAHAHA!

Antonym , Jul 28 2020 5:40 utc | 123

The US/UK declining won't bother most billionaires with those passports: they just buy any other. Stuck are the millions of others.

Equally "China" ascending brings joy for all billionaires around the globe holding stock depending on Chinese near monopolies, including Anglo-es.

Some middle class Chinese are beginning to see that dying "rich" is is very limited goal, as zero can be taken to the Here After and the price for this Now is too high. Money is not everything. Welcome to this select club, Chinese brothers and sisters. Sure, a bit is good to live but amassing is a waste of precious time and attention.

William Gruff , Jul 28 2020 16:19 utc | 160

The US lacks the capacity to erect an "economic wall" that can stop China's development. Trump's "trade war" was an attempt to do just that, and America got steamrolled.

To be sure, the US can attempt even more irrational and desperate acts such as trying to seize assets owned by Chinese people and organizations in the US, but that would be America shooting itself in the head rather than just the foot.

The US simply does not posses the ability to "take the wind out of China's sails" . That is not something that is within America's power to accomplish without going kinetic by, for instance, trying to enforce a naval blockade of China's maritime transport routes. At this point there are no economic measures America can take that will not do vastly more damage to America than to China. Both trade war and bio attack were the best options America had, and America has suffered grievously from those efforts with relatively minimal impact on China. China's economy remains fundamentally strong while America's economy is devastated.

As for disrupting China's international development efforts, America has been trying its hardest for years now with the only impact being minor delays in China's plans. The only way to truly disrupt China's international development efforts would be to offer a better deal, but America no longer has anything to offer that is better. The only option left to America to delay the BRI for longer would be a kinetic one, and the door is closing on that.

juliania , Jul 28 2020 16:23 utc | 161

jack rabbit @ 81,

Your item 1. reads:

from the perspective of the US 'Deep State' or Western power-elite the failure to fight the virus is a net positive if the repercussions are blamed on China (in addition to other 'positives' from their perspective: saving on cost of care to elderly, boosting Big Pharma profits, etc.) -

It will not be possible to blame China, simply because no one believes the US press any longer, and there is no convincing the woman or man on the street that US handling of the virus has been in any way competent. We may not understand its virulence, and we perhaps don't understand yet how to cope with it, but the example of China has been clear from the earliest moments, and that speaks louder than any false rhetoric can claim.

We know what we have been experiencing in comparison with others who acted with celerity, and that basically was what was needed. The US chose to go it alone, at its peril. It stuck by a set of rules it had made for itself in these last years - rules which have not benefited the people at large. It all comes down to that.

foolisholdman , Jul 28 2020 16:38 utc | 165

O | Jul 27 2020 21:33 utc | 49

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2010_Chinese_labour_unrest

Care to comment on that.

I would not quote a Zionist dominated source like Wikipedia on anything politically sensitive and the article you refer to is in any case 10 years out of date. However if you read it it refers to two foreign-owned firms, and it mentions that there are (In 2010)plans to double wages in the next ten years which has happened. The article also states"

Strikes are not new in China. Chinese authorities have long tolerated limited, local protests by workers unhappy over wages or other issues.[40] The Pearl River Delta alone has up to 10,000 labor disputes each year. In the spring of 2008, a local union official described strikes as "as natural as arguments between a husband and wife".[41] The Chinese government sought balance on the issue; while it has recently repeated calls for increased domestic consumption through wage increases and regulations, it is also aware that labour unrest could cause political instability.[42][43]

In response to the string of employee suicides at Foxconn, Guangdong CPC chief Wang Yang called on companies to improve their treatment of workers. Wang said that "economic growth should be people-oriented".[44] As the strikes intensified, Wang went further by calling for more effective negotiations mechanisms, particularly the reform of existing trade unions. At the same time, authorities began shutting down some websites reporting on the labour incidents, and have restricted reporting, particularly on strikes occurring at domestic-owned factories.[46][47] Guangdong province also announced plans to "professionalize union staff" by taking union representatives off of company payroll to ensure their independence from management influence.

Which indicates to me that the suicides alerted the government to the fact that these firms were making the lives of their workers miserable and took steps to improve the control of them. They obviously realized that the Union officials had been bought by the management. I wonder how the British government or the USG would have reacted? What I am certain about is that the MSM would have been much less enthusiastic about reporting it.
uncle tungsten , Jul 29 2020 2:13 utc | 197

karlof1 #86

IMO, taking a good look at Brazil's situation provides close to a mirror image for those within the Outlaw US Empire having trouble seeing clearly. Too often we forget to look South at the great sewer and its misery US Imperialism's created. It may be getting defeated in Eurasia, but it's winning in Latin America.

That sewer of misery was running full flush during Susan Rice's rise through the ranks.

National Security Adviser to Obummer 2013 - 2017,
US Ambassador to the UN 2009 - 2013
Do read the rest:

And well beyond South America.

Now she is close to seizing the prize of VP to Biden. She is a iron war horse of formidable capacity and mendacity given her past roles. She has few redeeming features. She will conform exactly to the dictats of the permanent state and she will easily step right over Joe Biden as he either falls or is taken down at the most opportune time.

What drole sense of humour thought of this - the hapless Trump squeezed between two black American presidents. Seems like something the Clintons dreamed up.

Antonym , Jul 29 2020 5:07 utc | 198

David Dayen's New Book Exposes the Dirty Hands of Wall Street Driving Monopoly Power in U.S. https://wallstreetonparade.com/2020/07/david-dayens-new-book-exposes-the-dirty-hands-of-wall-street-driving-monopoly-power-in-u-s/

New York Times Rewrites the Timeline of the Fed's Wall Street Bailouts, Giving Banks a Free Pass
https://wallstreetonparade.com/2020/07/new-york-times-rewrites-the-timeline-of-the-feds-wall-street-bailouts-giving-banks-a-free-pass/

kiwiklown , Jul 29 2020 5:39 utc | 200

Posted by: karlof1 | Jul 28 2020 22:30 utc | 191

"It was asked upthread if the US citizenry would trade its no-longer existing Superpower status for decent living standards.... There're only two forces keeping the American people from attaining freedom from the above fundamental fear and having lifelong security: The Duopoly and its Donor Class, the Rentier Class of Feudalistic Parasites that are the enemy of virtually all humanity."

The US citizenry will choose decent living standards in a heartbeat, but the present arrangement for eating off the labour of deplorables is just too profitable for the Duopoly & Donor Class to be permitted to change for a couple decades more.

Perhaps they will move on when there is no more meat on the American corpse, or when they have built up a sufficiently large group of useful idiots in China to begin eating off the backs of deplorables with Chinese characteristics.

Anything is possible, with the right amount of moolah, even overcoming Confucian morals. Joshua Wong comes to mind, who not only does idiotic, but actually looks idiotic.

class="posted">

[Jul 29, 2020] Roach is calling for the dollar to soon decline 35% against its major rivals

Jul 29, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

ptb , Jul 27 2020 18:26 utc | 3

On the issue of the USD, Stephen Roach also says that there will be a significant decline in the medium term. And the argument is pretty logical - if the US share in the global economy is declining (and it will be declining at least up to year 2060), and if the level of US debts is reaching all time high levels, then the USD will decline. I agree with that argument. It is fully logical.

Quibble on the significance of US dollar; from the cited article "Roach is calling for the dollar to soon decline 35% against its major rivals". That would take the EURUSD back to its 2008 high. Not something that changes the balance of power.

But I think the rest of the story is true.

Certainly in the US we have everything we need to reverse our decline, build a better life for everyone living here, and stop trying to "compete" by sabotaging everyone else. Sadly zero sign of this being a priority on either side of the mainstream political spectrum.


O , Jul 27 2020 19:25 utc | 20

Are We Heading for a Historic Economic Collapse? Why the U.S. GDP Could Fall by 40%.

"The most horrific number I've seen is J.P. Morgan economists' estimate that U.S. gross domestic product is collapsing at a 40% annual rate, a revision from their previous calculation of 25%. It has been said that economists use decimal points in their forecasts to show they have a sense of humor. These numbers are nothing to joke about."
https://www.barrons.com/articles/is-the-economy-going-to-crash-because-of-coronavirus-how-quickly-will-the-economy-revive-51586560301

If JP Morgan, Gold Sacks and other major asset managers are betting on this 'bear' you can be damn certain that they are doing everything in their power to make it a reality. They will shakedown every gutless, spineless politician/health official/scientist they can find to ensure their profits keep rolling in.

vk , Jul 27 2020 19:35 utc | 21

Yes, the conclusion we must take from this crisis is that the USA (and most of the West, if not all the West) is now declining in absolute terms, not only in relative ones. That's what makes this 2020 crisis special for the time period analyzed.

Relative decline is nothing special for the Americans. During the High Cold War itself (1945-1969), the USA itself declined relatively to Japan, which simply grew even more. You can even talk about a relative decline in relation to Germany during the same period, at least in some areas. The difference lied in the fact that Germany and Japan were minuscule countries under full military control and were fellow capitalist nations. When necessity came, the USA simply ordered both countries to value their currencies in relation to the USD and decades of geopolitical gain evaporated in five years. This is not the case with China.

But what fascinates me more is the flux of History. The USSR was better than China in almost every single relevant aspect in the 1950s-1960s, but it lost the Cold War because it had the bad luck to face the capitalist powers at their historical best. China, being much inferior, is being able to gain terrain over the capitalist powers for more than 40 years and counting for the simple fact they were able to survive and live to see capitalism in its decline.

That's why Putin correctly stated the end of the USSR was the biggest catastrophe of the 20th Century. If it could survive for mere 17 years more, it would've lived to face capitalism on all fours, after the 2008 meltdown, and get a second chance.

O , Jul 27 2020 19:56 utc | 22

China, being much inferior, is being able to gain terrain over the capitalist powers for more than 40 years and counting for the simple fact they were able to survive and live to see capitalism in its decline.
Posted by: vk | Jul 27 2020 19:35 utc | 21

I would say it was that China began opening itself up more to capitalist oligarchs and intergrating itself into the world economy beginning with the Nixon years. In particular the western oligarchs shipping their manufacturing base to china. That cheap Chinese labor was too hard to pass up.

The engine of capitalism is cheap labor, slave labor if possible.

Now China has a decent size consumerist/middle class which gives it the leverage along with the manufacturing. It not magic


Digital Spartacus , Jul 27 2020 20:03 utc | 23

Andrei @ 14

Exactly so. Anyone can massage those data points to say anything they want. And that is precisely what's being done by the USG. Since admitting that they are in decline is a non starter for them, these types of numbers are always trotted out. That isn't to say though, that everybody isn't massaging their numbers as well to cast them in a shining light for whomever the audience for which it is intended.

sad canuck , Jul 27 2020 20:29 utc | 24

I cannot take seriously any analysis that suggests another crippled fiat currency will somehow supplant the USD. The Euro? That is laughable. Cleanest dirty shirt analogy still holds true. Look at Japan over the past 30 years of debt accumulation to see how long this can go on. The yuan is no better given China's own debt frenzy since 2008. The only economy that is structured to weather the next 20 years of decline is Russia with abundant land, ample hydrocarbons, a functioning domestic industrial/agricultural base, effective military deterrence, little debt and ample gold reserves. Putin is is far from perfect but he's done an incredible job preparing his country for what comes next.

All fiat is set for a dramatic decline against real assets. You need only look at all fiat currencies dropping against the price of gold which is a surrogate for all hard asset prices. Dirty fiat shirts one and all.

https://shorturl.at/bizM0

You can also just search for the Kitco Gold-Currency Price page if you do not wish to click on the shortened link (but I confirmed destination on checkshorturl).

Sakineh Bagoom , Jul 27 2020 20:41 utc | 25

It's no longer the grand chess board in Eurasia. It is now a whack-a-mole policy.
The hydra's head (BRI) that is flowing out of the dragon will be popping up here and there. Wherever it does, it has to be whacked like a mole. There is so much whacking (no pun intended) that can be done before the empire exhausts itself. In a logistics game, the empire will always lose, to the local actor with enough resources to devour it.
We've also seen that other local actors /empire lackeys (I'm looking at you India) can't be much help stopping the hydra either.

[Jul 28, 2020] A Significant Decline Is Coming For The U.S-

Jul 28, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

O , Jul 27 2020 18:51 utc | 10

On Roach's comments, when a Yale University senior fellow and former Morgan Stanley Asia chairman tells you that the USD is about to drop precipitously, you can bet he's working behind the scenes to make that exact event happen. Of course it's logical. He's part of the creation of the chain of logic.
Posted by: Anonymous | Jul 27 2020 18:48 utc | 9

Bingo! Engineered collapse under the guise of a fake pandemic.


karlof1 , Jul 27 2020 18:54 utc | 11

Nice review. Recall Global Times reported China's GDP rose 3.2% in 2Q versus a 5-9% drop for Outlaw US Empire. Also recall the need to deal with Real GDP, not the falsified numbers provided by USG that count negatives as positives. The following are Shadowstats "Economic Headlines" :

"Second-quarter 2020 Real New Orders for Durable Goods plunged an annualized 55% (-55%), down 22% (-22%) year-to-year / June Cass Freight Index® continued bottom-bouncing, running counter to the 'recovered' Retail Sales / June Building Permits and Housing Starts saw some rebound in the month having collapsed respectively at annualized rates of 56% (-56%) and 76% (-76%) in the quarter / Not-credible inflation-adjusted headline June Retail Sales recovered pre-Pandemic levels in a stronger than expected real 6.9% monthly gain (nominal sales gain of 7.5% held just shy of recovery) / Contracting for the third consecutive quarter, second-quarter real Retail Sales fell at a 24.2% (-24.2%) annualized pace / On top of downside revisions, June Industrial Production gained 5.4% in the month, fell 10.8% (-10.8%) year-to-year, with Second-Quarter 2020 activity collapsing at a 42.6% (-42.6%) annualized pace, following a first quarter drop of 6.8% (-6.8%)."

From the sidebar comment of 23 July:

"Reporting of Deepest-Ever GDP Decline Looms on July 30th • Annualized 49.1% (-49.1%) Quarterly Plunge in Household Survey Employed Was Consistent With a Real Second-Quarter 2020 GDP Annualized Collapse of 50% (-50%) and Year-to-Year Drop of 16.1% (-16.1%) • Potential Third-Quarter 2020 GDP Annualized 20% Rebound Still Would Be Down 12.7% (-12.7%) Year-to-Year, Rivaling Great Depression Depths and Post-World War II Readjustment."

Although it's yet to be updated for 2Q figures, here's the GDP chart , which in Real Terms is worse than the blue line depicts

So, contrary to JR's assertions, the Outlaw US Empire is in economic freefall. And unless the eviction moratorium is extended nationally, a massive crisis awaits as noted by the article I linked to in the Week in Review thread. Add the fact that most of China's ASEAN trade partners have recovered from COVID while BRI Eurasian projects continue, China's economy will continue to grow, which is where its focus is at as reiterated almost daily by China's media and reported here.

As for the US Dollar, this William Pesek item reviews the many times it was predicted to drown but didn't, although this time may be different:

"More recently, Stephen Roach of Yale University has hit the speaking circuit to argue that the 'TINA defense' – 'there is no alternative' – is no longer operative.

"'If TINA is the dollar's only hope, look out below,' Roach wrote in a recent Bloomberg column . 'America's saving and current-account problems are about to come into play with a vengeance. And the rest of the world is starting to look less bad.

"'Yes, a weaker dollar would boost US competitiveness, but only for a while. Notwithstanding the hubris of American exceptionalism, no leading nation has ever devalued its way to sustained prosperity.""

There're others cited by Pesek who provide decent reasoning for downgrading the dollar which he balances against past history, thus leading to this conclusion:

"Yet the risk of a reckoning is rising along with awareness of how the Trump era is exacerbating all of America's imbalances, and creating new ones few could have predicted."

What's certain--a great many US citizens are going to experience incredible financial pain for a considerable length of time, which may or may not alter the basic political situation within the Outlaw US Empire.

Andrei Martyanov , Jul 27 2020 19:01 utc | 14
2019 China 1,27 times bigger in GDP/PPP

Absolutely false numbers since actual Chinese economy is much larger than American one. With or w/o PPP adjustments. I would go out on a limb here and state that at this stage in 2020 real size of Chinese economy is about 2.5-3 times larger than that of the US. In other words--it already dwarfs US economy.

Military budget (before Covid estimates, Trump budget) 2019 3,2 % of GDP - 2030 2,5 % of GDP (Could drop to 2,3 % of GDP due to Covid)

These are also meaningless numbers since they do not account for actual military capability, especially when based on a fraudulent US GDP numbers. Within last 10 years China built surface fleet which in terms of hulls (and "freshness") rivals that of the US. US economy would have it bottom falling off if it tried to accomplish a similar task.

[Jul 28, 2020] The end of interest -- Crooked Timber

Jul 28, 2020 | crookedtimber.org

Amid all the strange, alarming and exciting things that have happened lately, the fact that real long-term (30-year) interest rates have fallen below zero has been largely overlooked. Yet this is the end of capitalism, at least as it has traditionally been understood. Interest is the pure form of return to capital, excluding any return to monopoly power, corporate control, managerial skills or compensation for risk.

If there is no real return to capital, then then there is no capitalism. In case it isn't obvious, I'll make the point in subsequent posts that there is no reason to expect the system that replaces capitalism (I'll call it plutocracy for the moment) to be an improvement.

But first let's look at the real 30-year bond rate. The US Treasury is currently offering an inflation-protected 30 year bond at a rate of -0.3 per cent. That is, if you buy the bond at say, age 35, you can get your money back, less a 10 per cent reduction in real value, when you are 65. This rate has fallen from 2 per cent, when the bond was introduced in 2010, and started declining sharply in late 2018, before the pandemic, and while the Federal funds rate was rising.

In thinking about the future of the economic system, interest rates on 30-year bonds are much more significant than the 'cash' rates set by central banks, such as the Federal Funds rate, which have been at or near zero ever sinc