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Neoliberalism Bulletin, 2018

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[Jun 23, 2019] The Markets Are Signaling Something Awful Ahead Market Recon

Dec 27, 2018 | finance.yahoo.com

The hard reality remains that the financial markets are, in the long term, forward-looking. But in the short-term, they are dominated by high-speed electronic trading.

Anyone who felt Monday's (December's, Q4's) meltdown, or watched Tuesday night's reopening of equity index futures, watched in entertained astonishment, if not anguish.

Clearly, sentient, reasoned thought has now been sacrificed at the altar of short-term profit. The task is to come up with a thesis moving forward, and the challenge is to stick to that conclusion at times when the evils of algorithmic, high-frequency and passive trading styles turn against those core beliefs. Risk Management. Before one might profit with sustained regularity, one must learn to effectively preserve one's capital.

just so 5 hours ago

You can have whatever opinion you want about Yahoo's reporting of the daily ups and downs of the markets, and keep in mind, the exchanges are betting parlors. That said, these types of wild swings over the last 6 weeks or so, are very similar to what took place before housing bubble burst in the late mid-ots, keep an eye on the amount of private uncollateralized debt that mid-cap companies are carrying, if they start defaulting and these private equity houses start running for cover, it create the same type of liquidity situation that Lehman's caused.

[Jun 17, 2019] Student Debt Bondage Becoming More Widespread

Oct 18, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

A fresh story at Bloomberg, which includes new analysis, shows the ugly student debt picture is getting uglier. The driver is that higher education costs keep rising, often in excess of the likely wages for graduates. The article's grim conclusion: "The next generation of graduates will include more borrowers who may never be able to repay."

Student debt is now the second biggest type of consumer debt in the US. At $1.5 trillion, is is second only to the mortgage market, and is also bigger than the subprime market before the crisis, which was generally pegged at $1.3 trillion. 1 Bloomberg also points out that unlike other categories of personal debt, student debt balances has shown consistent, or one might say persistent, growth since the crisis.

From the article:

Student loans are being issued at unprecedented rates as more American students pursue higher education . But the cost of tuition at both private and public institutions is touching all-time highs , while interest rates on student loans are also rising. Students are spending more time working instead of studying . (Some 85 percent of current students now work paid jobs while enrolled.) Experts and analysts worry that the next generation of graduates could default on their loans at even higher rates than in the immediate wake of the financial crisis.

The last sentence is alarming. As graduates of the class of 2009 like UserFriendly can attest, the job market was desperate. And for the next few years, the unemployment rate of new college graduates was higher than that of recent high school graduates. One of the corollaries of that is that more college graduates than before were taking work that didn't require a college degree; this is still a significant trend today. And on top of that, studies have found that early career earnings have a significant impact on lifetime earnings. While there are always exceptions, generally speaking, pay levels key off one's earlier compensation, so starting out at a lower income level is likely to crimp future compensation.

And on top of that, interest costs are rising. The rate for direct undergraduate loans is 5% and for graduate and professional schools, 6.6%. So student debt costs will also go up even before factoring in inflating school costs. So the ugly picture of delinquencies and defaults is destined to get worse.

Students attending for-profit universities and community colleges represented almost half of all borrowers leaving school and beginning to repay loans in 2011. They also accounted for 70 percent of all defaults. As a result, delinquencies skyrocketed in the 2011-12 academic year, reaching 11.73 percent.

Today, the student loan delinquency rate remains almost as high, which Scott-Clayton attributes to social and institutional factors, rather than average debt levels. "Delinquency is at crisis levels for borrowers, particularly for borrowers of color, borrowers who have gone to a for-profit and borrowers who didn't ultimately obtain a degree," she said, highlighting that each cohort is more likely to miss repayments on their loans than other public and private college students.

Those most at risk of delinquency tend to be, counterintuitively, those who've incurred smaller amounts of debt, explained Kali McFadden, senior research analyst at LendingTree. Graduates who leave school with six-figure degrees that are valued in the marketplace -- such as post-graduate law or medical degrees -- usually see a good return on their investment.

I'm a little leery of cheerful generalizations like "big ticket borrowers for professional degrees do better." "Better" may still not be that good. Recall that law school and in the last year, business school enrollments have fallen because candidates question whether the hard costs and loss of income while in school will pay off. And there are some degrees, like veterinary medicine, that are so pricey it's hard to see how they could possibly make economic sense.

What is distressing about this ugly picture is the lack of effective activism by the victims. I am sure some are trying, but in addition to the burden of being so overwhelmed by the debt burden as to lack the time and energy to do anything beyond cope, is the fact that being in debt is stigmatized in our society, and borrowers may not want to deal with condescension and criticism. Another obstacle to organizing is that most of the victims are lower income and/or from minority groups, which means Team Dem can ignore them on the usual assumption that they have nowhere else to go. It is also harder to create an effective coalition across disparate economic, geographic, and age groups

But the experience of the post-Civil War South says things could get a lot worse. From Matt Stoller in 2010:

A lot of people forget that having debt you can't pay back really sucks. Debt is not just a credit instrument, it is an instrument of political and economic control.

It's actually baked into our culture. The phrase 'the man', as in 'fight the man', referred originally to creditors. 'The man' in the 19th century stood for 'furnishing man', the merchant that sold 19th century sharecroppers and Southern farmers their supplies for the year, usually on credit. Farmers, often illiterate and certainly unable to understand the arrangements into which they were entering, were charged interest rates of 80-100 percent a year, with a lien places on their crops. When approaching a furnishing agent, who could grant them credit for seeds, equipment, even food itself, a farmer would meekly look down nervously as his debts were marked down in a notebook. At the end of a year, due to deflation and usury, farmers usually owed more than they started the year owing. Their land was often forfeit, and eventually most of them became tenant farmers.

They were in hock to the man, and eventually became slaves to him. This structure, of sharecropping and usury, held together by political violence, continued into the 1960s in some areas of the South. As late as the 1960s, Kennedy would see rural poverty in Arkansas and pronounce it 'shocking'. These were the fruits of usury, a society built on unsustainable debt peonage.

Sanders has made an issue of student debt, but politicians who want big bucks from financiers and members of the higher education complex pointedly ignore this issue. As we've pointed out, top bankruptcy scholar Elizabeth Warren won't even endorse a basic reform, that of making student debt dischargable in bankruptcy. So it may take student debtors becoming a bigger percentage of voters for this issue to get the political traction it warrants.

______

1 Higher estimates typically included near subprime mortgages then called "Alt A".

Geo , October 18, 2018 at 5:02 am

There are many, many passages in this obscure old book called The Bible speaking of usury as a grave sin. So many it is actually one of the most clear and condemned sins in the entire book. Maybe we could see if any of our Congress persons have ever heard of it? They could learn something from it regarding this topic.
That said, it's passages on gender equality and family structures are pretty outdated and abhorrent so I wouldn't want them to get any bad ideas from this book on those subjects.

https://www.openbible.info/topics/usury

Neujack , October 18, 2018 at 5:56 am

Indeed, all of the old "Iron Age religions" (Judaism, Early Christianity, and Islam) explicitly denounce usury.

The great irony of the Deep South in te USA is that they've been frequently banning Sharia law, even when Sharia law is one of the few types of law in the world which explicitly bans charging interest.

L , October 18, 2018 at 9:57 am

It is always intriguing how many politicians are so eager to endorse a literalist fealty to the social structures of the bible but ignore, or even vehemently rail against, the more balanced social restrictions on things like usury or the old idea of a debt jubilee. But then Jesus himself railed (physically) against embedding money in religion and now we have "entrepreneurial churches" who preach a "doctrine of prosperity" so I guess times have changed.

xformbykr , October 18, 2018 at 11:23 am

Michael Hudson wrote about the history of 'debt jubilees' and debt cancellation today.

https://michael-hudson.com/2018/01/could-should-jubilee-debt-cancellations-be-reintroduced-today/

Pete , October 18, 2018 at 5:46 am

I graduated 10 years ago and the most frustrating part was everyone telling me it would be alright and ignoring thw whole you never recover thing. I am still unable to find worthwhile employment and probably never will be able to.

kurtismayfield , October 18, 2018 at 6:56 am

You really can't listen to many of us over 40.. we really lived in complete my different conditions. When I got out of college in the 90's they were basically hiring everyone with a pulse in tech. From what I have seen from recent graduates it's getting easier, as I am seeing a lot more intershops turn into job offers. But for the generation that you are part of, it's an economic hole that may never be recovered from simply because you were born at the wrong time.

Looking at that graph, notice how the only debt that is backstopped completely by the federal government is growing the fastest. The no default on student loans rules have to be rescinded.

Big River Bandido , October 18, 2018 at 10:05 am

I graduated in the 1990s, and if you were not in tech, the job market was just as lousy as it is now.

The Rev Kev , October 18, 2018 at 6:13 am

Extrapolating from these trends, then in a few years the only young people that would be able to afford higher education in the United States would the the children of the ten per cent – plus a smattering of scholarships to talented individuals found worthy of supporting. It follows then that as these educated people entered the workforce, that over time that the people that would be running the country would be children of the elite in a sort of inbred system. It sounds a lot like 19th century class-based Britain that if you ask me.
As for the country itself it would be disastrous. Going by present population levels, it would mean that instead of recruiting the leaders and thinkers of the country from the present population of 325 million, that at most you would be recruiting them from a base level of about 30-40 million. It is to be hoped that these people are not from the shallow end of the gene pool. You can forget about any idea of an even-handed meritocracy and America would be competing against countries that might employ the idea of a full meritocracy in the recruitment of their leaders. I wonder how that might work out.

Brooklin Bridge , October 18, 2018 at 6:46 am

You could put that whole paragraph in the present tense quite nicely.

Eclair , October 18, 2018 at 6:56 am

"I wonder how that might work out." Ummm . the Monty Pythons had an idea in the 1970's.

The "Upper Class Twit of the Year" competition. Gotta love the "Kick a Beggar" event.

Henry Moon Pie , October 18, 2018 at 5:13 pm

"America would be competing against countries that might employ the idea of a full meritocracy in the recruitment of their leaders. I wonder how that might work out"

Would the performance of U. S. men in international soccer competition be a similar situation?

eg , October 18, 2018 at 6:40 am

Why is America so determined to reconstruct an aristocracy its founders abhorred?

zagonostra , October 18, 2018 at 8:41 am

They only abhorred the British aristocracy, they framed to Constitution to create a home grown one; and, they succeeded beyond their wildest dream.

Matthew , October 18, 2018 at 10:00 am

Because they think it will help them stay rich?

Big River Bandido , October 18, 2018 at 10:06 am

an aristocracy its founders abhorred

Alexander Hamilton liked the idea very much. It's why the musical is SO popular among the neoliberal set.

KYrocky , October 18, 2018 at 11:47 am

The concept of student debt as it exists today would be repulsive to our Founders. Not just for the larger issue of our country being on the trajectory of becoming an economic aristocracy, but specifically because the Federal government is profiting tremendously from this crushing usury being applied to majority and the least among us.
Our Founders had no problem with the conquest and seizure of Native Americans land, and they fully respected the rights and claims of other European countries to do the same. One of their strongest repudiations of the aristocracy was the expansion of private property rights beyond what was known under any monarchy on the planet to that point in history. In the pre-industrial world the vast majority of people lived in an agrarian society and economy. Owning land secured you with your livelihood, your living, and much of your resources; it fully supported most families.

For its founding and for generation after generation the United States government gave land to countless men for military service, government service, homesteds, etc. Expansions by the Louisiana Purchase and war and treaties with other European nations, quickly resulting in making these lands available for settlement to our citizens and to immigrants.

The point is that for well over 100 years the government provided to its citizens a huge amount of what our citizens needed to live their lifetimes through these grants of land. These land grants were then passed from generation to generation and formed the economic foundations for millions of people, their children and their next generations.

Our Government did this.

The United States ceased to be a predominantly agrarian country in the mid 20th century. But they did not stop aiding our people and their economic needs. Our government (Federal and states) did continue to provide to our population through public education (very affordable college), the GI Bill that served millions with income, housing and educational benefits, Social Security, Medicare, etc.

Since our country's very founding our government has recognized the benefit and need to facilitate the support of its citizens. The American economy became the greatest on earth because of our land conquest heritage and our collective investments as a nation. No one did it all on their own, and no one pretended they did.

Reagan killed this legacy. Reagan claimed that our nations success and our heritage was built on our history of rugged individualism and that our government was the obstacle to returning to these roots. It was a lie; nothing could have been further from the truth.

Student debt, as it exists to day, is crippling the economic futures of the millions who have accrued this debt and the millions to come, year after year, who will do the same. The student is debt is robbing our nation of the economic activity that historically matriculated out from those passing from college to the world. That has come almost to an end. Worse yet, our government has positioned itself to also profit off this debt, and to prevent the indebted from escaping this type of debt through the legal means available for virtually all other forms of debt.

Our student debt is un-American. It is a cancer on our economy. It exists for the vast short term profit of the few at the expense of our nations future.

Avalon Sparks , October 18, 2018 at 12:04 pm

Amazing essay, thank you!

zagonostra , October 18, 2018 at 12:49 pm

Admirable and well thought-out post.

I hope people keep in mind it was the Democrats, specifically Joe Biden, who made student debt even more crippling and heartless by changing the bankruptcy laws so that creditors can garnish your Social Security benefits (assuming Mitch McConnell doesn't gut them first).

Republicans are open about what they hope to accomplish, you have to clear the verbal BS that clouds what Democrats are after, but at the end of the day they are both about enslavement and debt bondage over unwashed masses.

Mobee , October 18, 2018 at 7:32 am

I'm sure it's often the parents that end up paying the debt, as my sister is doing. Parents have deep pockets and are desperate to help their loved ones get a good start in life.

In my sister's case, they sent their girls to private high school, where they spent the money that could have paid for college. Not a smart decision. But they love their children and really wanted to do give them the best.

Now the girls are struggling to make a living and my sister cannot afford to retire.

Musicismath , October 18, 2018 at 8:18 am

There are so many feedback loops, multipliers, and perverse incentives driving forward this bubble (and its calamitous social and cultural effects) that it's hard to know where to begin.

As Goldman Sachs have pointed out , student-loan-based securities are increasingly "attractive" investments for speculators:

Although the "bubble" is getting bigger, it's not a risk to overall financial stability, Goldman's Marty Young and Lotfi Karoui said in a recent note. In fact, there's one segment of the market that's emerging as an attractive investment.

It's the $190 billion of outstanding [student] loans that are held within asset-backed securities (ABS) refinanced by private lenders such as SoFi.

With these securities, lenders pool loans that have similar risk profiles and sell them as instruments in the public markets. Investors profit as graduates pay back their principal and interest.

So the more student debt there is, and the higher the interest rates are, the better, from that perspective.

It's undeniable, too, that high student loan burdens mean graduates are slower to form households and will probably have fewer children than they would otherwise. Their diminished spending power, meanwhile, adds to the ongoing erosion of the "real economy," in favour of the financial one. Student loans therefore disrupt the basic means of social reproduction. The resulting declines in fertility then demand high rates of immigration to compensate. A fact cheered on, inevitably, by the open borders crowd (a substantial number of whom, oddly or not, seem to work in or for universities).

So we see yet another instance in which "right" neoliberalism and "left" identitarianism go hand in hand–forming, indeed, two heads of the same beast. Student loans have enabled the enormous inflation in tuition costs that have plagued the Anglosphere over the last couple of decades. This fees income feeds the academic beast (or at least its administrators and senior managers), while driving the one economic and social crisis (mass migration and the resulting populist backlash) that "left neoliberals," centrists, and Clinton/Progress types appear to care about. It's a self-licking ice cream of catastrophic size and reach.

Petunia , October 18, 2018 at 9:09 am

One specific example: hospital chaplains are facing a big retirement crisis. And yet the job requires (to be hoard certified): an undergraduate degree & then a Master's of Divinity degree, plus a year-long residency. For a job that pays around $60,000 to $70,000. At least one school, Princeton, funds almost all of their divinity students. But I don't think it's the norm. And then you throw in the fact that such person ideally would be emotionally & spiritually mature, with enough life experience to meet with a wide range of people, who are often facing financial hardship due to being sick (as well as existential concerns). I don't even know how to begin reframing the job or the qualifications or the salary to fit America in 2020. There are a lot of other angles, such as: what about well-qualified people who can't afford seminary? I know there needs to be a way to screen-out and screen-in the best people (who won't proselytize), but is a Master's degree the right hurdle? But, I must say, the need for access to interfaith Spiritual Care is only increasing, as times get tougher & other hospital staff (RNs) don't have time to sit and listen. People are in pain, not only in their bodies. One thought leader in the field has speculated that the job will just go away due to lack of advocacy & inability to evolve into a profit center.

redleg , October 18, 2018 at 9:23 am

It would be interesting to see that student loan debt chart superimposed over %adjuncts and number of administrators. Its pretty easy to guess what that would look like, but seeing that would be decisive.

Fiddler Hill , October 18, 2018 at 2:39 pm

I think a little delineation is in order. I've been an adjunct professor and believe the increasing use of adjuncts at universities has been very beneficial overall -- in terms of the quality of education students are getting. Unfortunately, as we know, that's not why universities are hiring so many more adjuncts; they're being hired because schools can get away with paying them abysmally.

The situation is so embarrassing that, at the university where I was teaching five years ago, the full-time faculty passed a resolution asking the administration to give the entire projected increase in teaching salaries entirely to the adjuncts, an amazing act of selflessness.

The relevance to our discussion here, of course, is the insupportable increase in the annual cost of attending college even as the schools radically reduce their overall expenditures on faculty salaries.

Di Modica's Dumb Steer , October 18, 2018 at 9:49 am

So how long before this leads to a mass "We Won't Pay" movement? I'm stuck on the dumb treadmill myself, but I wouldn't begrudge an entire generation for just saying no. Sure, they can garnish wages and the like, but if 30 million people simultaneously say 'eff this', it's more than just a wrench in the works it's drastic enough to force action.

DolleyMadison , October 18, 2018 at 10:45 am

Why DO they keep paying? The debts are always bought by debt collectors who don't even have COPIES promissory notes. Let them sue you and show up for the hearing and demand proof. They can still ruin your "credit" but if student loans haven't taught you to eschew credit nothing will. If EVERYONE "walked away" what could they do?

Tangled up in Texas , October 18, 2018 at 11:01 am

Unfortunately that is never going to happen. This society has been trained to worship at the altar of the FICO score, and most job seekers cannot afford to have a low score. Said score will be examined and potentially held against you when pursuing employment.

Also, employers frown upon employees who do not pay their bills and then have their wages garnished – at least the smaller emlpoyers do. This creates extra work for the employer and makes the employee suspect, as in irresponsible.

This problem was created by the political class and is going to require a political solution, i.e. legislation to assist the student loan borrower or a debt jubilee. Unfortunately, there's too much money being made off the student borrower – even if the practice is killing the host. And the "I got mine" crowd will not allow a jubilee even if it is for the greater good of society. Lastly, student loan borrowers coming from a different era (who have paid off their loans) will begrudge the forgiving of the loans and consider them undeserved. In this case, perhaps the best resolution is to give everyone money toward their student loans – whether they are currently paid or unpaid.

I cannot jeopardize my employment by joining in a "eff this" movement as much as I would like to. Instead, I will continue on this treadmill called life, pay my bills and hope to escape as unscathed as possible.

Harrison Bergeron , October 18, 2018 at 1:42 pm

I work for a company that contracts with department of Ed to get student loan borrowers out if default and back into the hands of loan servicers. The amount of money sloshing around is stunning. I'm sure they've got well paid lobbyists telling legislators that people will be unemployed if student loans are reformed. I owe well over six figures so the irony is not lost on me. Hiring one half of the working class to debt collect from the other.

Tomonthebeach , October 18, 2018 at 2:58 pm

Who pays for diploma-mill educations, and why? I have always assumed that people attended cash-n-carry schools because they did not qualify aptitude/grade-wise for entrance to a state school, OR a 3rd party like DOD or VA was footing the tab. Both assumptions appear to be supported by data. Given the far-above-average drop/flunkout rate of diploma mills. I know from my military career that enlisted members sign up for courses (local or online) at diploma mills to get extra points toward promotions – at Navy expense. Personally, I would not pay to send my dog to such institutions to learn how to sit up and beg.

One thing is certain, collich kidz do not appear to spend nearly as much time researching where they go to $chool as they do buying the car they drive.

Democrita , October 18, 2018 at 3:45 pm

Jumping into the conversation a little late, but my alma mater recently embarked on a major rethink of the college business model, and cut tuition from around 50k to around 30k. We even got a writeup from Frank Bruni for it .

College officials (I'm relatively active as a fundraiser for my class) describe it as a shift to a "philanthropy model" of funding. Which worries me for lots of reasons. But at least it's a conversation-starter.

It's also very much a school that is not for people looking to buy a future income flow, but rather an education.

[Jun 05, 2019] Neoliberal mantra: Blessed are the job creators

Notable quotes:
"... You know we can't touch the corporations - they are sacrosanct because they are the supposed "job creators" - this one title gives them carte blanche to act however they like, to make spurious claims about economies faltering, businesses going offshore and unemployment. They also donate heavily to the political parties. ..."
Jun 06, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

Anomander64 -> Davesnothereman , 3 Jun 2018 16:44

Shhhh... whatever you do, don't ever let them hear you criticizing the "job creators" or there will be trouble.

You know we can't touch the corporations - they are sacrosanct because they are the supposed "job creators" - this one title gives them carte blanche to act however they like, to make spurious claims about economies faltering, businesses going offshore and unemployment. They also donate heavily to the political parties.

Repeat after me:

"Blessed are the job creators"
"Blessed are the job creators"
"Blessed are the job creators"
"For THEY shall inherit the wealth"

[Apr 23, 2019] Justin Elliott on Sheldon Adelson by Scott

Notable quotes:
"... This episode of the Scott Horton Show is sponsored by: Kesslyn Runs , by Charles Featherstone; NoDev NoOps NoIT , by Hussein Badakhchani; The War State , by Mike Swanson; WallStreetWindow.com ; Roberts and Roberts Brokerage Inc. ; Zen Cash ; Tom Woods' Liberty Classroom ; ExpandDesigns.com/Scott ; and LibertyStickers.com . ..."
"... To me, it is not so much the lies that major media organizations may broadcast, but the enormous amount of news of major importance that the networks censor that is doing the greatest harm. ..."
Oct 24, 2018 | scotthorton.org
Journalist Justin Elliott comes on the show to talk about casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who has become one of President Trump's biggest donors. Although Trump derided him early in his campaign, the two have formed a close partnership with Adelson providing tens of millions in funding so long as Trump continues the correct policies with respect to Israel, Palestine, and Iran. Elliott and others have also speculated that Trump is trying to get Adelson approval to open a casino in Japan, helping him to expand his gambling empire in Asia.

Discussed on the show:

Justin Elliott is a reporter for ProPublica . He has produced stories for The New York Times and National Public Radio, and his reporting with NPR on the Red Cross' troubled post-earthquake reconstruction efforts in Haiti won a 2015 Investigative Reporters and Editors award. Follow him on Twitter @JustinElliott .

This episode of the Scott Horton Show is sponsored by: Kesslyn Runs , by Charles Featherstone; NoDev NoOps NoIT , by Hussein Badakhchani; The War State , by Mike Swanson; WallStreetWindow.com ; Roberts and Roberts Brokerage Inc. ; Zen Cash ; Tom Woods' Liberty Classroom ; ExpandDesigns.com/Scott ; and LibertyStickers.com .

Check out Scott's Patreon page.

William on October 26, 2018 at 5:46 pm

Whether Adelson or some other plutocrat, American politics is awash in money, and it this money is crippling our democracy. I don't think that I have heard this topic discussed on any news program, and I don't expect to. To me, it is not so much the lies that major media organizations may broadcast, but the enormous amount of news of major importance that the networks censor that is doing the greatest harm.

Americans never get to see what they need to know. Keeping the peasants ignorant is the current mass media program, and they are doing a great job of it.

[Mar 18, 2019] Doublethink and Newspeak Do We Have a Choice by Greg Guma

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... In Orwell's imagination, society was ruled in the future by Big Brother. It wasn't a computer, but rather the collective expression of the Party. But not like the Republicans; this Party was an autonomous bureaucracy and advanced surveillance state interested only in perpetuating itself as a hierarchy. In this dystopia, "the people" had become insignificant, without the power of "grasping that the world could be other than it is." ..."
"... Concepts like freedom were perverted by a ruthless Newspeakperpetuated by the Party through the media. A Goodthinker was someone who followed orders without thinking. Crimestop was the instinctual avoidance of any dangerous thought, and Doublethink was the constant distortion of reality to maintain the Party's image of infallibility. ..."
"... Writing in 1948, Orwell was projecting what could happen in just a few decades. By most measures, even 70 years later we're not quite there yet. But we do face the real danger that freedom and equality will be seriously distorted by a new form of Newspeak, a Trumpian version promoted by the administration and its allies through their media. We already have Trumpian Goodthinkers -- the sychophantic surrogates who follow his lead without thinking, along with Crimestop -- the instinctual avoidance of "disloyal" thought, and Doublethink -- the constant distortion of reality to maintain Trump's insatiable ego and image of infallibility. Orwellian ideas are simply resurfacing in a post-modern/reality TV form. ..."
"... As community life unravels and more institutions fall into disrepute, media have become among of the few remaining that can potentially facilitate some social cohesion. Yet instead they fuel conflict and crisis. It's not quite Crimestop, but does often appeal to some of the basest instincts and produce even more alienation and division. ..."
"... In 1980, Ralph Nader called the race for president at that time -- between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan -- a choice between mediocrity and menace. It was funny then, but now we can see what real menace looks like. Is Trump-ism what Orwell warned us about? Not quite, though there are similarities. Like Trump, you can't talk to Big Brother. And he rarely gives you the truth, only doublespeak. But Trump is no Big Brother. More like a Drunk Uncle with nukes. ..."
"... Security is tight and hard to avoid, on or offline. There are cameras everywhere, and every purchase and move most people make is tracked by the state. Still, there are four bombings in the first week of the Games. There is also another kind of human tragedy. Four runners collapse during preliminary rounds as a result of a toxic mix -- heat and pollution. ..."
"... Greg Guma is the Vermont-based author of Dons of Time, Uneasy Empire, Spirits of Desire, Big Lies, and The People's Republic: Vermont and the Sanders Revolution. ..."
"... This article was originally published by Greg Guma: For Preservation & Change . ..."
Aug 21, 2017 | www.globalresearch.ca
Region: USA Theme: Media Disinformation , Police State & Civil Rights

More people are becoming alienated, cynical, resentful or resigned, while too much of mass and social media reinforces less-than-helpful narratives and tendencies. The frog's in the frying pan and the heat is rising.

On the big screens above us beautiful young people demonstrated their prowess. We were sitting in the communications center, waiting for print outs to tell us what they'd done before organizing the material for mass consumption. Outside, people were freezing in the snow as they waited for buses. Their only choice was to attend another event or attempt to get home.

The area was known as the Competition Zone, a corporate state created for the sole purpose of showcasing these gorgeous competitors. Freedom was a foreign idea here; no one was more free than the laminated identification card hanging around your neck allowed.

Visitors were more restricted than anyone. They saw only what they paid for, and had to wait in long lines for food, transport, or tickets to more events. They were often uncomfortable, yet they felt privileged to be admitted to the Zone. Citizens were categorized by their function within the Organizing Committee's bureaucracy. Those who merely served -- in jobs like cooking, driving and cleaning -- wore green and brown tags. They could travel between their homes and work, but were rarely permitted into events. Their contact with visitors was also limited. To visit them from outside the Zone, their friends and family had to be screened.

Most citizens knew little about how the Zone was actually run, about the "inner community" of diplomats, competitors and corporate officials they served. Yet each night they watched the exploits of this same elite on television.

The Zone, a closed and classified place where most bad news went unreported and a tiny elite called the shots through mass media and computers, was no futuristic fantasy. It was Lake Placid for several weeks in early 1980 -- a full four years before 1984.

In a once sleepy little community covered with artificial snow, the Olympics had brought a temporary society into being. Two thousand athletes and their entourage were its royalty, role models for the throngs of spectators, townspeople and journalists. This convergence resulted in an ad hoc police state, managed by public and private forces and a political elite that combined local business honchos with an international governing committee. They dominated a population all too willing to submit to arbitrary authority.

Even back then, Lake Placid's Olympic "village" felt like a preview of things to come. Not quite George Orwell's dark vision, but uncomfortably close.

In Orwell's imagination, society was ruled in the future by Big Brother. It wasn't a computer, but rather the collective expression of the Party. But not like the Republicans; this Party was an autonomous bureaucracy and advanced surveillance state interested only in perpetuating itself as a hierarchy. In this dystopia, "the people" had become insignificant, without the power of "grasping that the world could be other than it is."

Concepts like freedom were perverted by a ruthless Newspeakperpetuated by the Party through the media. A Goodthinker was someone who followed orders without thinking. Crimestop was the instinctual avoidance of any dangerous thought, and Doublethink was the constant distortion of reality to maintain the Party's image of infallibility.

Writing in 1948, Orwell was projecting what could happen in just a few decades. By most measures, even 70 years later we're not quite there yet. But we do face the real danger that freedom and equality will be seriously distorted by a new form of Newspeak, a Trumpian version promoted by the administration and its allies through their media. We already have Trumpian Goodthinkers -- the sychophantic surrogates who follow his lead without thinking, along with Crimestop -- the instinctual avoidance of "disloyal" thought, and Doublethink -- the constant distortion of reality to maintain Trump's insatiable ego and image of infallibility. Orwellian ideas are simply resurfacing in a post-modern/reality TV form.

Our fast food culture is also taking a long-term toll. More and more people are becoming alienated, cynical, resentful or resigned, while too much of mass and social media reinforces less-than-helpful narratives and tendencies. The frog's in the frying pan and the heat is rising.

Much of what penetrates and goes viral further fragments culture and thought, promoting a cynicism that reinforces both rage and inaction. Rather than true diversity, we have the mass illusion that a choice between polarized opinions, shaped and curated by editors and networks, is the essence of free speech and democracy. In reality, original ideas are so constrained and self-censored that what's left is usually as diverse as brands of peppermint toothpaste.

When the Bill of Rights was ratified, the notion that freedom of speech and the press should be protected meant that the personal right of self-expression should not be repressed by the government. James Madison, author of the First Amendment, warned that the greatest danger to liberty was that a majority would use its power to repress everyone else. Yet the evolution of mass media and the corporate domination of economic life have made these "choicest privileges" almost obsolete.

As community life unravels and more institutions fall into disrepute, media have become among of the few remaining that can potentially facilitate some social cohesion. Yet instead they fuel conflict and crisis. It's not quite Crimestop, but does often appeal to some of the basest instincts and produce even more alienation and division.

In general terms, what most mass media bring the public is a series of images and anecdotes that cumulatively define a way of life. Both news and entertainment contribute to the illusion that competing, consuming and accumulating are at the core of our aspirations. Each day we are repeatedly shown and told that culture and politics are corrupt, that war is imminent or escalating somewhere, that violence is random and pervasive, and yet also that the latest "experts" have the answers. Countless programs meanwhile celebrate youth, violence, frustrated sexuality, and the lives of celebrities.

Between the official program content are a series of intensely packaged sales pitches. These commercial messages wash over us, as if we are wandering in an endless virtual mall, searching in vain for fulfillment as society crumbles.

In 1980, Ralph Nader called the race for president at that time -- between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan -- a choice between mediocrity and menace. It was funny then, but now we can see what real menace looks like. Is Trump-ism what Orwell warned us about? Not quite, though there are similarities. Like Trump, you can't talk to Big Brother. And he rarely gives you the truth, only doublespeak. But Trump is no Big Brother. More like a Drunk Uncle with nukes.

So, is it too late for a rescue? Will menace win this time? Or can we still save the environment, reclaim self-government, restore communities and protect human rights? What does the future hold?

It could be summer in Los Angeles in 2024, the end of Donald Trump's second term. The freeways are slow-moving parking lots for the Olympics. Millions of people hike around in the heat, or use bikes and cycles to get to work. It's difficult with all the checkpoints, not to mention the extra-high security at the airports. Thousands of police, not to mention the military, are on the lookout for terrorists, smugglers, protesters, cultists, gangs, thieves, and anyone who doesn't have money to burn or a ticket to the Games.

Cash isn't much good, and gas has become so expensive that suburban highways are almost empty.

Security is tight and hard to avoid, on or offline. There are cameras everywhere, and every purchase and move most people make is tracked by the state. Still, there are four bombings in the first week of the Games. There is also another kind of human tragedy. Four runners collapse during preliminary rounds as a result of a toxic mix -- heat and pollution.

... ... ...

Greg Guma is the Vermont-based author of Dons of Time, Uneasy Empire, Spirits of Desire, Big Lies, and The People's Republic: Vermont and the Sanders Revolution.

This article was originally published by Greg Guma: For Preservation & Change .

[Feb 03, 2019] Neoliberalism and Christianity

Highly recommended!
Money quote: " neoliberalism is the fight of finance to subdue society at large, and to make the bankers and creditors today in the position that the landlords were under feudalism."
Notable quotes:
"... ... if you take the Bible literally, it's the fight in almost all of the early books of the Old Testament, the Jewish Bible, all about the fight over indebtedness and debt cancellation. ..."
"... neoliberalism is the fight of finance to subdue society at large,and to make the bankers and creditors today in the position that the landlords were under feudalism. ..."
"... They call themselves free marketers, but they realize that you cannot have neoliberalism unless you're willing to murder and assassinate everyone who promotes an alternative ..."
"... Just so long as you remember that most of the strongest and most moving condemnations of greed and money in the ancient and (today) western world are also Jewish--i.e. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Micah, the Gospels, Letter of James, etc. ..."
"... The history of Jewish banking after the fall or Rome is inextricable from cultural anti-judaism of Christian west and east and de facto marginalization/ghettoization of Jews from most aspects of social life. The Jewish lending of money on interest to gentiles was both necessary for early mercantilist trade and yet usury was prohibited by the church. So Jewish money lenders were essential to and yet ostracized within European economies for centuries. ..."
"... Now Christianity has itself long given up on the tradition teaching against usury of course. ..."
"... In John, for instance most of the references to what in English is translated as "the Jews" are in Greek clearly references to "the Judaeans"--and especially to the ruling elite among the southern tribe in bed with the Romans. ..."
May 02, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

karlof1 , May 1, 2018 2:27:06 PM | 13

Just finished reading the fascinating Michael Hudson interview I linked to on previous thread; but since we're discussing Jews and their religion in a tangential manner, I think it appropriate to post here since the history Hudson explains is 100% key to the ongoing pain us humans feel and inflict. My apologies in advance, but it will take this long excerpt to explain what I mean:

"Tribes: When does the concept of a general debt cancellation disappear historically?

"Michael: I guess in about the second or third century AD it was downplayed in the Bible. After Jesus died, you had, first of all, St Paul taking over, and basically Christianity was created by one of the most evil men in history, the anti-Semite Cyril of Alexandria. He gained power by murdering his rivals, the Nestorians, by convening a congress of bishops and killing his enemies. Cyril was really the Stalin figure of Christianity, killing everybody who was an enemy, organizing pogroms against the Jews in Alexandria where he ruled.

"It was Cyril that really introduced into Christianity the idea of the Trinity. That's what the whole fight was about in the third and fourth centuries AD. Was Jesus a human, was he a god? And essentially you had the Isis-Osiris figure from Egypt, put into Christianity. The Christians were still trying to drive the Jews out of Christianity. And Cyril knew the one thing the Jewish population was not going to accept would be the Isis figure and the Mariolatry that the church became. And as soon as the Christian church became the establishment rulership church, the last thing it wanted in the West was debt cancellation.

"You had a continuation of the original Christianity in the Greek Orthodox Church, or the Orthodox Church, all the way through Byzantium. And in my book And Forgive Them Their Debts, the last two chapters are on the Byzantine echo of the original debt cancellations, where one ruler after another would cancel the debts. And they gave very explicit reason for it: if we don't cancel the debts, we're not going to be able to field an army, we're not going to be able to collect taxes, because the oligarchy is going to take over. They were very explicit, with references to the Bible, references to the jubilee year. So you had Christianity survive in the Byzantine Empire. But in the West it ended in Margaret Thatcher. And Father Coughlin.

"Tribes: He was the '30s figure here in the States.

"Michael: Yes: anti-Semite, right-wing, pro-war, anti-labor. So the irony is that you have the people who call themselves fundamentalist Christians being against everything that Jesus was fighting for, and everything that original Christianity was all about."

Hudson says debt forgiveness was one of the central tenets of Judaism: " ... if you take the Bible literally, it's the fight in almost all of the early books of the Old Testament, the Jewish Bible, all about the fight over indebtedness and debt cancellation. "

Looks like I'll be purchasing Hudson's book as he's essentially unveiling a whole new, potentially revolutionary, historical interpretation.

psychohistorian , May 1, 2018 3:31:50 PM | 26
@ karlof1 with the Michale Hudson link....thanks!!

Here is the quote that I really like from that interview
"
Michael: No. You asked what is the fight about? The fight is whether the state will be taken over, essentially to be an extension of Wall Street if you do not have government planning. Every economy is planned. Ever since the Neolithic (era), you've had to have (a form of) planning. If you don't have a public authority doing the planning, then the financial authority becomes the planners. So globalism is in the financial interest –Wall Street and the City of London, doing the planning, not governments. They will do the planning in their own interest. So neoliberalism is the fight of finance to subdue society at large,and to make the bankers and creditors today in the position that the landlords were under feudalism.
"

karlof1, please email me as I would like to read the book as well and maybe we can share a copy.

And yes, it is relevant to Netanyahoo and his ongoing passel of lies because humanity has been told and been living these lives for centuries...it is time to stop this shit and grow up/evolve

james , May 1, 2018 10:30:01 PM | 96
@13 / 78 karlof1... thanks very much for the links to michael hudson, alastair crooke and the bruno maraces articles...

they were all good for different reasons, but although hudson is being criticized for glossing over some of his talking points, i think the main thrust of his article is very worthwhile for others to read! the quote to end his article is quite good "The question is, who do you want to run the economy? The 1% and the financial sector, or the 99% through politics? The fight has to be in the political sphere, because there's no other sphere that the financial interests cannot crush you on."

it seems to me that the usa has worked hard to bad mouth or get rid of government and the concept of government being involved in anything.. of course everything has to be run by a 'private corp' - ie corporations must run everything.. they call them oligarchs when talking about russia, lol - but they are corporations when they are in the usa.. slight rant..

another quote i especially liked from hudson.. " They call themselves free marketers, but they realize that you cannot have neoliberalism unless you're willing to murder and assassinate everyone who promotes an alternative ." that sounds about right...

@ 84 juliania.. aside from your comments on hudsons characterization of st paul "the anti-Semite Cyril of Alexandria" further down hudson basically does the same with father coughlin - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Coughlin.. he gets the anti-semite tag as well.. i don't know much about either characters, so it's mostly greek to me, but i do find some of hudsons views especially appealing - debt forgiveness being central to the whole article as i read it...

it is interesting my own view on how money is so central to the world and how often times I am incapable of avoiding the observation of the disproportionate number of Jewish people in banking.. I guess that makes me anti-semite too, but i don't think of myself that way.. I think the obsession with money is killing the planet.. I don't care who is responsible for keeping it going, it is killing us...

WJ | May 1, 2018 10:48:58 PM | 100

James @96,

Just so long as you remember that most of the strongest and most moving condemnations of greed and money in the ancient and (today) western world are also Jewish--i.e. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Micah, the Gospels, Letter of James, etc.

The history of Jewish banking after the fall or Rome is inextricable from cultural anti-judaism of Christian west and east and de facto marginalization/ghettoization of Jews from most aspects of social life. The Jewish lending of money on interest to gentiles was both necessary for early mercantilist trade and yet usury was prohibited by the church. So Jewish money lenders were essential to and yet ostracized within European economies for centuries.

Now Christianity has itself long given up on the tradition teaching against usury of course.

WJ , May 1, 2018 8:23:40 PM | 88
Juliana @84,

I too greatly admire the work of Hudson but he consistently errs and oversimplifies whenever discussing the beliefs of and the development of beliefs among preNicene followers of the way (as Acts puts is) or Christians (as they came to be known in Antioch within roughly eight or nine decades after Jesus' death.) Palestinian Judaism in the time of Jesus was much more variegated than scholars even twenty years ago had recognized. The gradual reception and interpretation of the Dead Sea Scrolls in tandem with renewed research into Phili of Alexandria, the Essenes, the so-called Sons of Zadok, contemporary Galilean zealot movements styles after the earlier Maccabean resistance, the apocalyptism of post exilic texts like Daniel and (presumably) parts of Enoch--all paint a picture of a highly diverse group of alternatives to the state-Church once known as Second Temple Judaism that has been mistaken as undisputed Jewish "orthodoxy" since the advent of historical criticism.

The Gospel of John, for example, which dates from betweeen 80-120 and is the record of a much earlier oral tradition, is already explicitly binitarian, and possibly already trinitarian depending on how one understands the relationship between the Spirit or Advocate and the Son. (Most ante-Nicene Christians understood the Spirit to be *Christ's* own spirit in distributed form, and they did so by appeal to a well-developed but still largely under recognized strand in Jewish angelology.)

The "theological" development of Christianity occurred much sooner that it has been thought because it emerged from an already highly theologized strand or strands of Jewish teaching that, like Christianity itself, privileged the Abrahamic covenant over the Mosaic Law, the testament of grace over that of works, and the universal scope of revelation and salvation as opposed to any political or ethnic reading of the "Kingdom."

None of these groups were part of the ruling class of Judaean priests and levites and their hangers on the Pharisees.

In John, for instance most of the references to what in English is translated as "the Jews" are in Greek clearly references to "the Judaeans"--and especially to the ruling elite among the southern tribe in bed with the Romans.

So the anti-Judaism/Semiti of John's Gispel largely rests on a mistranslation. In any event, everything is much more complex than Hudson makes it out to be. Christian economic radicalism is alive and well in the thought of Gregory of Nysa and Basil the Great, who also happened to be Cappadocian fathers highly influential in the development of "orthodox" Trinitarianism in the fourth century.

I still think that Hudson's big picture critique of the direction later Christianity took is helpful and necessary, but this doesn't change the fact that he simplifies the origins, development, and arguably devolution of this movement whenever he tries to get specific. It is a worthwhile danger given the quality of his work in historical economics, but still one has to be aware of.

[Dec 31, 2018] My Theory About Gold as Diversification to the Busted "Everything Bubble" by Wolf Richter

Notable quotes:
"... The Junk-Bond Market Just "Puked." I discuss it on ..."
Dec 31, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

My Theory About Gold as Diversification to the Busted "Everything Bubble" Posted on December 30, 2018 by Lambert Strether

Lambert here: There's no way I'm opening up comments for a post about gold, and be very careful not to go crazy over in Links, either. Plus I don't care about shiny substances. However, Wolf's thinking on asset correlation in the "Everything Bubble" is interesting, which is why I'm cross-posting this.

Since October 1, the S&P 500 index has plunged 19.6%, to 2,351 as of Monday's fiasco. Over the same period, the price of gold has risen 7.3% to $1,271/oz. Over this short period, gold was an effective diversification.

For the year so far, the S&P 500 index is down 12.1%, gold is down 1.6%. For the past two years, the S&P 500, despite the huge volatility, is up 4.2%, and gold, also with some volatility, is up 9.7%. Moving in the same direction over these time frames, gold has been somewhat less effective as diversification, than it has been over the past three months. But as the chart below shows, its moves were not in lockstep with the S&P 500, and thus gold has helped counter-balance the erratic gyrations of the S&P 500 with its own erratic but different gyrations. Diversification can be messy:

There are many reasons to trade or own gold. But here I focus on gold as diversification to the Everything Bubble and particularly to stocks – and how that panned out over the longer term.

Nearly all asset classes have risen in parallel for nine years since the onset of global QE, zero-interest-rate policy, and negative-interest-rate policy: Stocks, bonds, leveraged loans, commercial real estate, residential real estate, art, classic cars, emerging market bonds, emerging market stocks . We call it the Everything Bubble. And now they're headed down together.

Diversification is not possible among asset classes that move together. If for nine years all asset classes in your holdings rose together, no matter how good this feels, you're not diversified.

Effective diversification means that some assets rise as others fall. But in the Everything Bubble, most asset classes rose together. And "well-diversified" investors were diversified only in their imagination, as they're now finding out as nearly all asset classes have been falling in parallel.

Effective diversification comes with some costs, and it's not risk free, but it provides some stability and lowers the overall risk of your holdings.

Cash always provides diversification in the sense of stability in addition to providing liquidity. But from 2009 through 2016, the return on cash – such as short-term Treasury bills, FDIC-insured CDs, or FDIC-insured high-yield savings accounts – has been near zero even as inflation ate away at its purchasing power.

But since interest rates started rising, cash generates better returns. This year, the yield on short-term Treasury bills, FDIC-insured CDs, or FDIC-insured high-yield savings accounts has beaten most other assets classes (to find those CDs and savings accounts, you need to shop around). They now yield between 2% and 3%. And when these instruments are held to maturity, there is no risk to the principal since they're redeemed at face value.

Gold doesn't offer a yield. And its price changes constantly. So the only return obtained from gold would be derived from an increase in price. And as long as that price moves in the opposite direction over the longer term from stock-market indices, gold provides effective diversification to stocks – even if it hurts, such as when stocks surge and gold plunges, which is what happened from late 2011 through 2016.

Over the long term, gold and the S&P 500 have moved in lockstep some of the time, and diverged much of the time. This chart goes back to 1995 (both gold in $/oz and the S&P 500 index on the same axis; click to enlarge):

On September 24, which was before the S&P 500 began to plunge, I postulated that gold provided theoretical but not very appealing diversification to stocks . I wrote:

And when asset classes have risen together like this, it becomes very difficult to achieve diversification going forward – because now they're at risk of all going down together.

My thoughts at the time were somewhat speculative since the S&P 500 was still surging. The chart I provided at the time was the long-term chart above, but it lacked the near-20% plunge of the S&P 500 since October 1 that the current chart shows. So in this instance, over those three months since then, gold has turned out to be a very effective diversification to stocks.

But the risk with gold remains: there is no guarantee that gold can't also plunge, right along with the S&P 500. This is a real risk, and diversification might sound good, but when push comes to shove in a sell-off, it might not work. Nevertheless, given the difficulties of finding effective diversification in the Everything Bubble, other than cash, gold has shown it could do the job over the past three months – which largely mirrors its performance as diversification during the 2000-2002 crash and most of the 2008-2009 crash.

The Junk-Bond Market Just "Puked." I discuss it on THE WOLF STREET REPORT

By Wolf Richter, a San Francisco based executive, entrepreneur, start up specialist, and author, with extensive international work experience. Originally published at Wolf Street .

[Dec 31, 2018] Academic bottomfeeders at service of financial oligarchy by George Monbiot

Notable quotes:
"... By abetting the ad industry, universities are leading us into temptation, when they should be enlightening us ..."
Dec 31, 2018 | www.theguardian.com

Originally from: Advertising and academia are controlling our thoughts. Didn't you know- - George Monbiot - Opinion - The Guardian

By abetting the ad industry, universities are leading us into temptation, when they should be enlightening us

... ... ...

I ask because, while considering the frenzy of consumerism that rises beyond its usual planet-trashing levels at this time of year, I recently stumbled across a paper that astonished me . It was written by academics at public universities in the Netherlands and the US. Their purpose seemed to me starkly at odds with the public interest. They sought to identify "the different ways in which consumers resist advertising, and the tactics that can be used to counter or avoid such resistance".

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Among the "neutralising" techniques it highlighted were "disguising the persuasive intent of the message"; distracting our attention by using confusing phrases that make it harder to focus on the advertiser's intentions; and "using cognitive depletion as a tactic for reducing consumers' ability to contest messages". This means hitting us with enough advertisements to exhaust our mental resources, breaking down our capacity to think.

Intrigued, I started looking for other academic papers on the same theme, and found an entire literature. There were articles on every imaginable aspect of resistance, and helpful tips on overcoming it. For example, I came across a paper that counsels advertisers on how to rebuild public trust when the celebrity they work with gets into trouble. Rather than dumping this lucrative asset, the researchers advised that the best means to enhance "the authentic persuasive appeal of a celebrity endorser" whose standing has slipped is to get them to display "a Duchenne smile", otherwise known as "a genuine smile". It precisely anatomised such smiles, showed how to spot them, and discussed the "construction" of sincerity and "genuineness": a magnificent exercise in inauthentic authenticity.

ss="rich-link tone-news--item rich-link--pillar-news"> Facebook told advertisers it can identify teens feeling 'insecure' and 'worthless' Read more

Another paper considered how to persuade sceptical people to accept a company's corporate social responsibility claims, especially when these claims conflict with the company's overall objectives. (An obvious example is ExxonMobil's attempts to convince people that it is environmentally responsible, because it is researching algal fuels that could one day reduce CO2 – even as it continues to pump millions of barrels of fossil oil a day ). I hoped the paper would recommend that the best means of persuading people is for a company to change its practices. Instead, the authors' research showed how images and statements could be cleverly combined to "minimise stakeholder scepticism".

A further paper discussed advertisements that work by stimulating Fomo – fear of missing out . It noted that such ads work through "controlled motivation", which is "anathema to wellbeing". Fomo ads, the paper explained, tend to cause significant discomfort to those who notice them. It then went on to show how an improved understanding of people's responses "provides the opportunity to enhance the effectiveness of Fomo as a purchase trigger". One tactic it proposed is to keep stimulating the fear of missing out, during and after the decision to buy. This, it suggested, will make people more susceptible to further ads on the same lines.

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Yes, I know: I work in an industry that receives most of its income from advertising, so I am complicit in this too. But so are we all. Advertising – with its destructive impacts on the living planet, our peace of mind and our free will – sits at the heart of our growth-based economy. This gives us all the more reason to challenge it. Among the places in which the challenge should begin are universities, and the academic societies that are supposed to set and uphold ethical standards. If they cannot swim against the currents of constructed desire and constructed thought, who can?

• George Monbiot is a Guardian columnist

[Dec 31, 2018] Wolf Richter- Nasdaq, "Tech," IPOs Are in for Gut-Wrencher

Which suckers will invest in companies with no profits? This is really repetition of Dotcom era in tech.
Notable quotes:
"... By Wolf Richter, a San Francisco based executive, entrepreneur, start up specialist, and author, with extensive international work experience. Originally published at Wolf Street ..."
"... Nasdaq down 24% already. Renaissance IPO ETF down 31%. But Uber and other unicorns are planning record IPOs in 2019, à la dotcom-crash-debut in 2000. ..."
Dec 25, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

By Wolf Richter, a San Francisco based executive, entrepreneur, start up specialist, and author, with extensive international work experience. Originally published at Wolf Street

Nasdaq down 24% already. Renaissance IPO ETF down 31%. But Uber and other unicorns are planning record IPOs in 2019, à la dotcom-crash-debut in 2000.

The IPO hype machine has produced some very successful companies and a lot of spectacular wealth transfers from the hapless public to early investors selling their shares. Here are two of the standouts that I covered:

Snap [SNAP] , purveyor of the Snapchat app and must-have sunglasses with a built-in camera: Shares peaked at $29 on the second day after its IPO, given it a market capitalization of $32 billion. Shares closed on Friday at $4.96 and this morning trade at $5.24, down 82% from day two of trading.

Blue Apron [APRN] , the cream of the crop of about 150 VC-funded meal-kit startups founded over the past five years, was valued at $2 billion during its last round of funding in June 2015 when it was one of the most hyped unicorns that would change the world. Then enthusiasm began to sag. By the time the IPO approached, the IPO price was cut from a range of $15-$17 a share to $10 a share. Shares closed on Friday at $0.68 and are trading this morning at $0.71, down 93% from its IPO price.

But not all IPOs are "tech" companies – though there's nothing "tech" about a meal-kit maker other than the least important part, the app. The Renaissance IPO ETF [IPO] holds the shares of companies across the board that went public over the past two years. After two years, the companies are removed from the ETF. Its top five holdings are in real estate, insurance products, music streaming, and cable TV, so not exactly pushing the boundaries of tech invention.

These five IPOs haven't done all that badly, compared to the wholesale destruction of Blue Apron, though they all have dropped sharply from their recent peaks (prices as of this morning):

Vici Properties [VICI], a casino property company, at $18.02, is down 22% from its peak in January 2018 shortly after the IPO. Athene Holding [ATH] – a "retirement services company that issues, reinsures and acquires retirement savings products" – at $38.36, has dropped 29% since September, 2018. Invitation Homes [INVH], Blackstone's buy-to-rent creature that acquired over 48,000 single-family homes out of foreclosure at the end of the housing bust, at $19.40, is down 18% from its peak in September. Spotify [SPOT], the music streaming service, at $107.46, has plunged 46% from its peak on July 26. It went public in April. Altice USA [ATUS], a cable TV operator, at $15.37, is down 39% from the peak on the day after its IPO in July 2017.

Overall, the Renaissance IPO ETF has plunged 31% from its peak in June 2018 (data via Investing.com):

The Nasdaq itself has dropped 24% from its all-time peak at the end of August.

It is in this new reality that some of the biggest startups and some of the biggest money-losers in the startup circus are trying to unload the shares to the public in 2019 before the "window" closes. The enormous hype about these IPOs has already started, with bankers funneling this hype to the Wall Street Journal , which breathlessly reported on the big numbers to be transferred from the public to the selling insiders and the companies. The hyped numbers are truly huge.

The biggest candidates that are that are now being hyped for an IPO in 2019 are:

Uber , with a current "valuation" of $76-billion, could go for an IPO in early 2019 that would value it at "as much as $120 billion," the WSJ reported, based on the hype the bankers are now spreading to maximize their bonuses. Not all shares would be sold in the IPO, so the proceeds in this scenario could reach "as much as $25 billion."

Palantir (data mining), with a current valuation of $20 billion, could see an IPO valuation of $41 billion, according to the WSJ's "people familiar with its plans," who also cautioned that these plans remained in flux, and that, according to the WSJ, "investment bankers often exaggerate projected IPO values to win business."

Lyft , with a current valuation of $15 billion, is also looking for an IPO in early 2019, at "more than $15 billion."

Then there is a gaggle of other big startups that could also head for the IPO window in 2019, according to the WSJ's "people familiar with the matter," but apparently haven't decided on the timing yet. They include:

The all-time high that "tech" IPOs combined raised in a single year was $44.5 billion. If these tech IPOs come to pass in 2019, and if these valuations can be pulled off, with Uber alone hoping to raise $25 billion, the 2000-record would be broken by a large amount.

That would make sense: The year 2000 was when the dotcom bubble began to collapse catastrophically, and everyone tried to get their heroes out the IPO window before it would close for years to come. The Nasdaq, where these IPOs were concentrated, would eventually crash 78% from its peak in March 2000, with catastrophic consequences for those who'd bought the hype.

The WSJ muses about this new generation of record-setting IPOs and Wall Street bankers' hype machine:

For average investors, it could mean they finally will be able to bet on companies like Uber that have become part of their everyday lives but have been out of reach, even as their estimated values ballooned.

When all IPOs are included, and not just "tech" IPOs, 2018 was a banner year, with $54 billion raised. This includes 47 tech companies that raised only about $18 billion – a far cry from the $44.5 billion that tech IPOs raised in 2000. But 2019 is going to fix this shortcoming, assuming that the hype works and that the public is buying.

The WSJ, citing Dealogic, pointed out that tech IPOs this year on average soared 28% on the first day of trading. No word about what happened afterwards. But the Renaissance IPO ETF is down 31% so far this year. Reality starts after the first few days of trading.

Tech companies that had already gone public raised an additional $21 billion in 2018 by selling more shares to the public in follow-on offerings, the most for follow-on offerings since 2000.

Then, the WSJ tucked this reality-infested warning into its last paragraph:

In another sign of exuberance, investors are overlooking lofty valuations and measly -- or zero -- profits to have a shot at outsized returns. In the first three quarters of the year, four-fifths of all U.S.-listed IPOs were of companies that lost money in the 12 prior months . That is the highest proportion on record.

So the last three months of 2018 plus 2019 and perhaps years to come are shaping up to be, by the looks of it, a similarly glorious period for tech stocks, IPOs, and the Nasdaq as the period from March 2000 till late 2002.

[Dec 31, 2018] John Kelly Gives Dramatic Exit Interview

Dec 31, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

DEDA CVETKO , 21 minutes ago

So, the bastard waited until his last day on the job to do a little fake media pay-per-view kiss-and-tell. He couldn't be mensch enough to give his boss a professional courtesy of telling him to take this job and shove it, he just succumbed to the siren's call of money and spilled the beans to the fake media first before anyone in the Administration had a chance to tell him how dangerous and detrimental to the interests of American people his words would become (anyone taking bets that the kiss-and-tell New York Times bestseller memoir is in the works?). Such is the psycho-profile of an average Pentagon brass. No vertebratae there -- just mollusks, tapeworms, snails and amoebas. Throw the money at them, and watch them grovel. Everything is for sale: service record, decorations, rank, faux military and political expertise, integrity, character, valor, heroism, cavalier and valiant battlefield engagement, self-sacrifice, loyalty to the nation...their family...their kids...their asses...everything@!. If it has a rank, it is casually sold on an open market. The winning bidder takes all.

Yes, General, Donald Trump is a deeply flawed human being. To his credit, though. we have been duly forwarned. He never - ever - claimed that he was a saint and cautioned us against turning him into a Mao Zedong-like personality cu;t. We knew all along that we were electing a profoundly imperfect person, and the reason why we elected him nonetheless is that the honesty of his admission was so refreshing that it outweighed all other considerations and was too brilliantly confessional to ignore. When was the last time you heard Hillary Clinton focus on her shortcomings, ethical lapses, judgment failures and mental syncopes instead a litany of her glorious accomplishments/?

Now, I have a question for you, General: what kind of ball-less, dickless and brainless asswipe devoid of any moral scurples and personal values serves his "unfit-for-the-job " (sic) and dangerous-to-the-country Supreme Commander for two consecutive years without uttering a word of criticism and dissent and then, after being fired, unleashes a torrent of hysterical fury and not even minimally credible accusations? In my mother tongue there is a phrase for characters like you: worthless piece of ****. And you can quote me on it, Sir.

PresidentTrump , 24 minutes ago

good riddance kelly

veritas semper vinces , 37 minutes ago

"What difference does it make, at this point?" who is the president? To paraphrase a Soros supported ex candidate, who is still not in jail.

As Ms. No a stutely observed a few days ago : there was a petition to investigate Soros , signed by more than the necessary number for the White House to respond, and this 1 year ago.

And the Donald ignored it, braking the law this way.

Does this count as more or less evidence he is fighting the swamp, trumptards?

Together with the fact Sheldon Adelson , the zionist financed his campaign and Wilbur Ross, Rothschild's man bailed him out of his bankruptcies.

Wilbur Ross , who is now his Commerce Secretary.

Can trumptards put 2+2 together ?

Conscious Reviver , 40 minutes ago

Kelly is just more senior management in the crime syndicate known by the acronym USG. What about the oath he swore to defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic? If he was a true soldier and patriot, he would have arrested the criminals, hiding in broad daylight, who did 9/11.

As it is, he's just another toady. Good riddance to bad trash.

youshallnotkill , 2 hours ago

These kind of threads always make me wonder how many of the commenters here are paid to **** on our US military.

Hans-Zandvliet , 1 hour ago

No need to pay people for shitting on the US military. Even marine corps general Smedly Butler (most decorated marine in US history) wrote it himself ("War is a Racket" [1935]), saying: "[while serving as a marine] I spent most of my time as a high-class muscle-man for Big Bussiness, for Wall St and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism."

Nothing much has changed since then in the US army, or has it?

11b40 , 46 minutes ago

Only gotten worse since eliminating the draft and getting a mercenary army.

Baron von Bud , 2 hours ago

These military generals portray themselves as selfless victims of Trump. These are the same clueless idiots that couldn't or wouldn't grow a spine and tell Obama or Bush they were destroying America with senseless wars. Trump may be a loose cannon but he has great instincts. These generals make me want to puke. Starched uniforms and a high tipped hat but no brain for good policy underneath and behind all those little medals. Good riddance. Trump needs to dump these guys and John Bolton.

terrific , 2 hours ago

The title to this story is a lie. Just because the NYT reported that Kelly told two anonymous sources that Trump is not up to the role of President, doesn't mean that Kelly actually said it. I'm actually surprised that a news site like ZH would use that title for a story, when the story was never even sourced, much less corroborated.

Celotex , 2 hours ago

He'll go to Boeing and will be pulling down eight figures annually.

Moribundus , 2 hours ago

„Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children." -- Dwight D. Eisenhower

" Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.

The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement. We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people. This is, I repeat, the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking. This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron. Is there no other way the world may live?"

GoldRulesPaperDrools , 2 hours ago

That's because this county hasn't fought a REAL war in decades, and by a REAL war I mean one where you can honestly expect if you go and you're in combat you're got no more than an even chance to come back. Military service has become another gubmint job where you wear a uniform and play with expensive hardware paid for by the taxpayer while doing some neocon's bidding overseas.

Moribundus , 2 hours ago

The best amerikan soldier was Smedley Butler.

The best amerikan war is Vietnam war.

I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.

Smedley D. Butler, War is a Racket: The Antiwar Classic by America's Most Decorated Soldier

[Dec 31, 2018] Manifesto for the democratisation of Europe - Le blog de Thomas Piketty

The Democratization Treaty is available on-line at www.tdem.eu
When a state is captured by neoliberals, it is naive to think that they will abandon their power without a fight.
Notable quotes:
"... transnational, political space ..."
Dec 31, 2018 | blog.lemonde.fr

Our proposals are based on the creation of a Budget for democratization which would be debated and voted by a sovereign European Assembly. This will at last enable Europe to equip itself with a public institution which is both capable of dealing with crises in Europe immediately and of producing a set of fundamental public and social goods and services in the framework of a lasting and solidarity-based economy. In this way, the promise made as far back as the Treaty of Rome of 'improving living and working conditions' will finally become meaningful.

This Budget, if the European Assembly so desires, will be financed by four major European taxes, the tangible markers of this European solidarity. These will apply to the profits of major firms, the top incomes (over 200,000 Euros per annum), the highest wealth owners (over 1 million Euros) and the carbon emissions (with a minimum price of 30 Euros per tonne). If it is fixed at 4% of GDP, as we propose, this budget could finance research, training and the European universities, an ambitious investment programme to transform our model of economic growth, the financing of the reception and integration of migrants and the support of those involved in operating the transformation. It could also give some budgetary leeway to member States to reduce the regressive taxation which weighs on salaries or consumption.

The issue here is not one of creating a 'Transfer payments Europe' which would endeavour to take money from the 'virtuous' countries to give it to those who are less so. The project for a Treaty of Democratization ( www.tdem.eu ) states this explicitly by limiting the gap between expenditure deducted and income paid by a country to a threshold of 0.1% of its GDP. This threshold can be raised in case there is a consensus to do so, but the real issue is elsewhere: it is primarily a question of reducing the inequality within the different countries and of investing in the future of all Europeans, beginning of course with the youngest amongst them, with no single country having preference. This computation does exclude spending that benefit equally to all countries, such as policies to curb global warming. Because it will finance European public goods benefiting all countries, the Budget for democratization will de facto also foster convergence between countries.

Because we must act quickly but we must also get Europe out of the present technocratic impasse, we propose the creation of a European Assembly. This will enable these new European taxes to be debated and voted as also the budget for democratization. This European Assembly can be created without changing the existing European treaties.

This European Assembly would of course have to communicate with the present decision-making institutions (in particular the Eurogroup in which the Ministers for Finance in the Euro zone meet informally every month). But, in cases of disagreement, the Assembly would have the final word. If not, its capacity to be a locus for a new transnational, political space where parties, social movements and NGOs would finally be able to express themselves, would be compromised. Equally its actual effectiveness, since the issue is one of finally extricating Europe from the eternal inertia of inter-governmental negotiations, would be at stake. We should bear in mind that the rule of fiscal unanimity in force in the European Union has for years blocked the adoption of any European tax and sustains the eternal evasion into fiscal dumping by the rich and most mobile, a practice which continues to this day despite all the speeches. This will go on if other decision-making rules are not set up.

[Dec 31, 2018] Britain fell for a neoliberal con trick even the IMF says so by Aditya Chakrabortty

Looks like Guardian start turning away from neoliberalism.
Notable quotes:
"... What price is paid when a promise is broken? Because for much of my life, and probably yours, the political class has made this pledge: that the best way to run an economy is to hack back the public realm as far as possible and let the private sector run free. That way, services operate better, businesses get the resources they need, and our national finances are healthier. ..."
"... I don't wish to write about the everyday failings of neoliberalism – that piece would be filed before you could say "east coast mainline". Instead, I want to address the most stubborn belief of all: that running a small state is the soundest financial arrangement for governments and voters alike. Because 40 years on from the Thatcher revolution, more and more evidence is coming in to the contrary. ..."
"... The other big reason for the UK's financial precarity is its privatisation programme, described by the IMF as no less than a "fiscal illusion". British governments have flogged nearly everything in the cupboard, from airports to the Royal Mail – often at giveaway prices – to friends in the City. Such privatisations, judge the fund, "increase revenues and lower deficits but also reduce the government's asset holdings". ..."
"... IMF research shows is that the Westminster classes have been asset-stripping Britain for decades – and storing up financial trouble for future generations ..."
Oct 17, 2018 | www.theguardian.com

The fund reports that Britain's finances are weaker than all other nations except Portugal, and says privatisation is to blame

Columnists usually proffer answers, but today I want to ask a question, a big one. What price is paid when a promise is broken? Because for much of my life, and probably yours, the political class has made this pledge: that the best way to run an economy is to hack back the public realm as far as possible and let the private sector run free. That way, services operate better, businesses get the resources they need, and our national finances are healthier.

It's why your tax credits keep dropping , and your mum has to wait half a year to see a hospital consultant – because David Cameron slashed public spending, to stop it "crowding out" private money. It's why water bills are so high and train services can never be counted on – because both industries have been privatised.

We let finance rip and flogged our assets. Austerity was bound to follow Will Hutton

From the debacle of universal credit to the forced conversion of state schools into corporate-run academies, the ideology of the small state – defined by no less a body than the International Monetary Fund as neoliberalism – is all pervasive. It decides how much money you have left at the end of the week and what kind of future your children will enjoy, and it explains why your elderly relatives can't get a decent carer.

I don't wish to write about the everyday failings of neoliberalism – that piece would be filed before you could say "east coast mainline". Instead, I want to address the most stubborn belief of all: that running a small state is the soundest financial arrangement for governments and voters alike. Because 40 years on from the Thatcher revolution, more and more evidence is coming in to the contrary.

Let's start with the IMF itself. Last week it published a report that barely got a mention from the BBC or in Westminster, yet helps reframe the entire debate over austerity. The fund totted up both the public debt and the publicly owned assets of 31 countries, from the US to Australia, Finland to France, and found that the UK had among the weakest public finances of the lot. With less than £3 trillion of assets against £5tn in pensions and other liabilities, the UK is more than £2tn in the red . Of all the other countries examined by researchers, including the Gambia and Kenya, only Portugal's finances look worse over the long run. So much for fixing the roof.

'British governments have flogged nearly everything in the cupboard from airports to the Royal Mail – often at giveaway prices – to friends in the City.' Photograph: Amer Ghazzal/Rex/Shutterstock

Almost as startling are the IMF's reasons for why Britain is in such a state: one way or another they all come back to neoliberalism. Thatcher loosed finance from its shackles and used our North Sea oil money to pay for swingeing tax cuts. The result is an overfinancialised economy and a government that is £1tn worse off since the banking crash. Norway has similar North Sea wealth and a far smaller population, but also a sovereign wealth fund. Its net worth has soared over the past decade.

The other big reason for the UK's financial precarity is its privatisation programme, described by the IMF as no less than a "fiscal illusion". British governments have flogged nearly everything in the cupboard, from airports to the Royal Mail – often at giveaway prices – to friends in the City. Such privatisations, judge the fund, "increase revenues and lower deficits but also reduce the government's asset holdings".

Throughout the austerity decade, ministers and economists have pushed for spending cuts by pointing to the size of the government's annual overdraft, or budget deficit. Yet there are two sides to a balance sheet, as all accountants know and this IMF work recognises. The same goes for our public realm: if Labour's John McDonnell gets into No 11 and renationalises the railways, that would cost tens of billions – but it would also leave the country with assets worth tens of billions that provided a regular income.

Instead, what this IMF research shows is that the Westminster classes have been asset-stripping Britain for decades – and storing up financial trouble for future generations.

Just look at housing to see the true cost of privatisation Dawn Foster

Privatisation and austerity have not only weakened the country's financial position – they have also handed unearned wealth to a select few. Just look at a new report from the University of Greenwich finding that water companies could have funded all their day-to-day running and their long-term investments out of the bills paid by customers. Instead of which, managers have lumbered the firms with £51bn of debt to pay for shareholders' dividends. Those borrowed billions, and the millions in interest, will be paid by you and me in our water bills. We might as well stuff the cash directly into the pockets of shareholders.

Instead of competitively run utilities, record investment by the private sector and sounder public finances, we have natural monopolies handed over to the wealthy, banks that can dump their liabilities on the public when things get tough, and an outsourcing industry that feasts upon the carcass of the public sector. As if all this weren't enough, neoliberal voices complain that we need to cut taxes and red tape, and further starve our public services.

This is a genuine scandal, but it requires us to recognise what neoliberalism promised and what it has failed to deliver. Some of the loudest critics of the ideology have completely misidentified it. Academics will daub the term "neoliberal" on any passing phenomenon. Fitbits are apparently neoliberal, as is Ben & Jerry's ice-cream and Kanye West. Pundits will say that neoliberalism is about markets and choice – tell that to any commuter wedged on a Southern rail train. And centrist politicians claim that the great failing of neoliberalism is its carelessness about identity and place, which is akin to complaining that the boy on a moped who snatched your smartphone is going too fast.

Let us get it straight. Neoliberalism has ripped you off and robbed you blind. The evidence of that is mounting up – in your bills, in your services and in the finances of your country.

• Aditya Chakrabortty is a Guardian columnist and senior economics commentator

[Dec 30, 2018] Summer- Rerun- Journey into a Libertarian Future- Part I The Vision

You can find original interview at using the lisnk above, or if it disappeared, in Humor section of this site
Notable quotes:
"... I will say that, just as Marxism provides an essential way of examining capitalism, libertarianism provides a filter for examining and criticizing stateist impulses. But a society organized around libertarian principles, just silly. ..."
"... The one thing libertarians want desperately to ignore is that imposing their vision of an utopian society is that while no one is "coerced" and will have equal rights, the inequalities that exist today will be cemented into society. ..."
"... Thus Spake Zarathustra, ..."
Dec 30, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

The interview was skilled for obvious reasons ;-)


Synoia , December 27, 2018 at 3:47 pm

What puzzles me about the Libertarian Dream is their ability to ignore the Dark Ages in Western Europe.

It fulfills all their requirements, and by what accounts survive, was remarkably unsuccessful. Life was poor, nasty, brutish and short.

I've has the discussion of rule of law with libertarians, and it went like this:

Lb: We could have a farming society without rule of law.
Me: How are disputes resolved?
Lb: We all get together and resolve the dispute.
Me: How is the dispute resolution enforced?
Lb: Everybody agrees to the resolution.
Me: What happens if some do not agree? What happens if someone cheats?
Lb: ..
Me: We've used this mechanism before, Hatfields vs McCoy' in the US, and Campbells Vs McDonalds in Scotland.
Lb: ..

Those who don't know their History, are condemned to repeat it.

Winston Churchill in his "History of the English Speaking Peoples" refers to the desire of the People in England to have "The King's Peace," otherwise known as "The Rule of Law" with all it's apparatus, Police, Courts, etc.

The Libertarians appear to want "Rule by the Rich and Powerful" and do not understand that that includes few, if any, of the current libertarians, except perhaps for the Koch Brothers.

Sleeping Dog , December 30, 2018 at 9:05 am

In the 90's when encountering a want-to-be business tycoon spouting Libertarian nonsense, I would encourage them to seek their fortune in Somalia, where no government existed.

I will say that, just as Marxism provides an essential way of examining capitalism, libertarianism provides a filter for examining and criticizing stateist impulses. But a society organized around libertarian principles, just silly.

Synoia , December 27, 2018 at 3:55 pm

Tom DiLorenzo pointed out on the Lew Rockwell website that the crisis was actually the result of the government forcing banks to make risky loans to low-income borrowers.

Oh the poor banks, forced to loan money for houses aka: The Brer Rabbit Loan Origination philosophy.

"Forced "the banks were not. They juiced the bankruptcy laws, and bundle up the loans and sold then to a willing set of buyers, Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac, "Government Corporations", who were re-nationalized when they fell into trouble.

The Bank's happily took the loan origination fees, and survived when they were then "forced" to accept Government bail outs.

Why some senior bank executives even took a cut in Bonuses – the misery of it all! /s

rob , December 27, 2018 at 7:47 pm

That was the first thing that leaped out at me too. Are you kidding? the banks were "forced" by the government where to start with that one? The only thing that fits was said here not to long ago. " arguing with an idiot is like playing chess with a pigeon. They just knock over the pieces, shit on the board, and strut around like they won anyway."

RP , December 27, 2018 at 4:24 pm

The one thing libertarians want desperately to ignore is that imposing their vision of an utopian society is that while no one is "coerced" and will have equal rights, the inequalities that exist today will be cemented into society. Until someone can explain to me what my recourse is when my right to breathe clean air and drink clean water or to speak my mind freely is destroyed by a polluter or someone who doesn't like what I have to say, I will view libertarianism as the worst of all possible worlds.

Amfortas the hippie , December 28, 2018 at 6:54 am

when i was still on faceborg, years ago, I would often be confronted by wandering libertarians.
one way to send them into conniptions was to say, "fine. let's run your experiment of lawlessness and "freedom" but first, in order to adhere to good experimental methodology, shouldn't we first redistribute the wealth?"
a race hardly proves anything if it's between a fighter jet and a rickshaw.
the resulting frothing fits were entertaining. They believe that they are paragons of logical thinking as opposed to us silly lefties.
and , like the neoreactionaries that threaten to take their place in corporate philosophy, they seem to believe that they will naturally be the Lords of the Manor.
Libertarians hate to hear about Rawls' Veil of Ignorance.

JimK , December 27, 2018 at 4:58 pm

Cain's libertarian views have the depth and breadth of a bunch of mutually contradictory bumper stickers. The views lack a grasp of system interactions and impacts, and display a narrow rigid simplicity that neglects scads of important social, economic and environmental factors. The views are so inept it makes me wonder, was this interview satire?

Yves Smith , December 27, 2018 at 5:54 pm

The interview is based on the works of Hans-Hermann Hoppe; the parts in red either links or when they have numbers, direct quotes with page references.

Anarcissie , December 28, 2018 at 10:27 am

In my experience (from Usenet days, mostly) libertarians vary quite a bit in their views. Mr. Hoppe's seem to be of the anarcho-capitalist flavor, similar to David Friedman's, but many libertarians would disagree with them and some would say they are crazy. Libertarianism seems to be a tendency, an attitude, a sensibility, rather than an explicit set of principles cast in the form of propositions and rules. It is more aesthetic than logical, in spite of the way they regard themselves; see Thus Spake Zarathustra, on 'the coldest of all cold monsters' for a taste.

In regard to libertarianism on the ground: as with other marginal ideologies, there have been some experiments; for example, there was a project of getting libertarians to move to some county in New Hampshire where their numbers would enable them to have some influence on the social order and its government. None that I know about have been very successful.

Lambert Strether , December 28, 2018 at 12:55 am

> The views are so inept it makes me wonder, was this interview satire?

The interview is satire, but as you can imagine, libertarianism is extremely hard to satirize; the author faced technical challenges in making the self-ownage even more obvious than it already is.

Karen , December 27, 2018 at 6:03 pm

Is this a joke?

Lambert Strether , December 28, 2018 at 12:57 am

More perhaps a caper, frolic, or prank -- of which are extended in time with no single punchline (except for the running gag of "in a rights-respecting manner"). It's satirical.

rob , December 27, 2018 at 6:49 pm

I have to admit that nowadays when someone says they are a libertarian, my 1st assumption is that they are an idiot, who doesn't realize they are just a tool for the republican/neoliberal overlords/industrialists who just want to go back to pre-regulatory and pre-taxation years as were 120 years ago.Back when snake oil salesmen were free to peddle their wares, any how they saw fit.
Thirty years ago, being a libertarian at least had some logic behind it. they were anti- drug war and anti- police state and things that actually make sense. They realized there had to be SOME laws, and Some civic responsibility.
anyone who has crazy ideas like this today are actual and factual "conspiracy theorists". Talk about crazy. There isn't any substance here to refute . this is all total BS.
Again, we find the "information age" taken up by peoples opinions of "fact" that are pure propaganda.

Telee , December 27, 2018 at 8:00 pm

I've had close contact with libertarians. One is a medical doctor. A primary goal is to eliminate democracy entirely. The people would have no input in determining the conditions under which they live. A market unpreturbed by taxes and regulations would yield the most optimum rusults which benefit the society. People who are lazy and who lack ambition, which is proven by their low economic status, would be isolated and cast aside into favelas because they are undeserving of anything better. The greatest threat is not global warming, or the threat of nuclear war but tyranny. He and his son are armed and expect to be able to defeat the government when the time comes. Based on a discussion where I used the term social justice, the good doctored recoiled and said social justice is communism. He was also against helping ( I suppose via the givernment) victims of natural catastrophies such as floods, hurricanes, fires, earth quakes etc. When asked what kind of society would result from these beliefs, they don't have a clue except to say that when one persues a just and moral cause the outcome is of no consequence. When asked about global warming they emphasized their right to have all the plastic straws they want. A tyrannical government imposing rules is the greatest threat.

All very logical. Yes? Another doctor, my primary care physician welcomes global warming because he thinks we can deal with it very easily and feels that it is most fortunate that we don't have global cooling.

Another retired doctor I talk to expressed the view that all Muslim mosques in the US should be blown up and all Muslims should leave the country or be killed.

And these are the intelligent people!

Lambert Strether , December 28, 2018 at 1:00 am

Do you remember their specialties? (I assume these are specialists.)

Telee , December 28, 2018 at 9:50 am

All doctors to which I referred are primary care physicians.

rob , December 27, 2018 at 8:07 pm

hell no!
But they have a different "schtik" .. like cinton/obama doing the same thing but they use different words . appealing to different people.
for clarity, i suppose I should have used some better punctuation.
"republican/neoliberal" meaning "the deregulation crowd"
""overlords/industrialist" meaning the powers that be who make money in manufacturing and other related industries who have liabilities in relation to their waste/pollution disposal, working conditions,safety standards/practices/costs,etc . who are the funders of this type of propaganda.
I have no illusions that the deregulation gang didn't gain ascension to our gov't as of late; with carter, and has been in EVERY administration since.

eg , December 27, 2018 at 10:38 pm

The absence of a thriving libertarian polity across all human history and geography implies a fundamental incompatibility with human nature.

My guess is that any human group which tries it is simply destroyed and/or absorbed by neighbouring human groups which employ more effective arrangements (whatever defects those particular arrangements may have).

Libertarians aren't much for empiricism, I suppose .

Ape , December 28, 2018 at 4:02 am

Most of the last 10k years are feudal and libertarianism is just feudalism. Even the Roman states were mostly run on a private law basis – aka libertarianism. Mass slavery, citizenship limited to an elite who personally acted as enforcers, courts and legislators.

Libertarianism is the perennial philosophy, horribly compatible with human nature.

eg , December 28, 2018 at 7:06 pm

Perhaps I am guilty of confusing libertarian with anarchist.

Ape , December 29, 2018 at 6:53 am

Anarchism is quite distinct. It worked for about a million years. It's just not compatible with scalable technologies/economies.

kees_popinga , December 28, 2018 at 8:36 am

It's interesting that this post is generating separate comment threads 7 years apart. I started reading the 2011 comments thinking they were current and was immediately struck by the thoroughness and passion of the debate, occurring around the time of the Obamacare rollout and closer to the 2008 crash. Possibly more people had a stake in libertarianism back then and found this interview threatening? In any event, one thing common to both threads is the tendency not to recognize the interview as satire. Compliments to Mr. Dittmer for his enduring dry wit (even though the internet makes irony hard to recognize).

redleg , December 28, 2018 at 5:58 pm

The security GLOs would encounter Gresham's Dynamic, eventually collecting the premiums and never following up on claims.

d , December 29, 2018 at 5:36 pm

so what happens when the GLOs from different customers are pulled into a battle between them? and how does this work when some one who hired them to protect them dies from a business ?

[Dec 30, 2018] Federal Grand Jury to Hear Evidence of World Trade Center Demolition

Dec 30, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

JethroBodien , 9 minutes ago

Spread the word folks. The most important issue of our generation

Federal Grand Jury to Hear Evidence of World Trade Center Demolition
https://www.ae911truth.org/grandjury/

benb , 4 minutes ago

Exposing 9/11 is the key. This whole stinking National Security Police State is fueled by the 9/11 fraud.

[Dec 30, 2018] RussiaGate In Review with Aaron Mate - Unreasoned Fear is Neoliberalism's Response to the Credibility Gap

Highly recommended!
Dec 30, 2018 | jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.com

At the inception of this entire RussiaGate spectacle I suggested that it was a political distraction to take the attention away from the rejection by the people of neoliberalism which has been embraced by the establishments of both political parties.

And that the result of the investigation would be indictments for perjury in the covering up of illicit business deals and money laundering. But that 'collusion to sway the election' was without substance, if not a joke.

Everything that has been revealed to date tends to support that.

One thing that Aaron overlooks is the evidence compiled by William Binney and associates that strongly suggests the DNC hack was no hack at all, but a leak by an insider who was appalled by the lies and double dealing at the DNC.

In general, RussiaGate is a farcical distraction from other issues as they say in the video. And this highlights the utterly Machiavellian streak in the corporate Democrats and the Liberal establishment under the Clintons and their ilk who care more about money and power than the basic principles that historically sustained their party. I have lost all respect for them.

But unfortunately this does open the door for those who use this to approve of the Republican establishment, which is 'at least honest' about being substantially corrupt servants to Big Money who care nothing about democracy, the Constitution, or the public. The best of them are leaving or have already left, and their party is ruined beyond repair.

This all underscores the paucity of the Red v. Blue, monopoly of two parties, 'lesser of two evils' model of political thought which has come to dominate the discussion in the US.

We are heavily propagandized by the owners of the corporate media and influencers of the narrative, and a professional class that has sold its soul for economic advantage and access to money and power.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/2HBA3Zm3dGM

And here is a bit more from Nate Silver --

https://www.youtube.com/embed/SETw5GLF8mU

[Dec 30, 2018] Soros 'person of the year' indeed -- In 2018 globalists pushed peoples' patience to the edge

Notable quotes:
"... stateless superpowers ..."
"... an old-school Christian democracy, rooted in European traditions ..."
"... Beggar-thy-neighbor migration policies, such as building border fences, will not only further fragment the union; they also seriously damage European economies and subvert global human rights standards. ..."
"... at least 300,000 refugees each year ..."
"... surge funding, ..."
"... raising a substantial amount of debt backed by the EU's relatively small budget. ..."
"... To finance it, new European taxes will have to be levied sooner or later, ..."
Dec 30, 2018 | www.rt.com

It is no secret that neoliberalism relentlessly pursues a globalized, borderless world where labor, products, and services obey the hidden hand of the free market. What is less often mentioned, however, is that this system is far more concerned with promoting the well-being of corporations and cowboy capitalists than assisting the average person on the street. Indeed, many of the world's most powerful companies today have mutated into " stateless superpowers ," while consumers are forced to endure crippling austerity measures amid plummeting standards of living. The year 2018 could be seen as the tipping point when the grass-roots movement against these dire conditions took off.

Since 2015, when German Chancellor Angela Merkel allowed hundreds of thousands of undocumented migrants into Germany and the EU, a groundswell of animosity has been steadily building against the European Union, perhaps best exemplified by the Brexit movement. Quite simply, many people are growing weary of the globalist argument that Europe needs migrants and austerity measures to keep the wheels of the economy spinning. At the very least, luring migrants with cash incentives to move to Germany and elsewhere in the EU appears incredibly shortsighted.

Indeed, if the globalist George Soros wants to lend his Midas touch to ameliorating the migrant's plight, why does he think that relocating them to European countries is the solution? As is becoming increasingly apparent in places like Sweden and France, efforts to assimilate people from vastly different cultures, religions and backgrounds is an extremely tricky venture, the success of which is far from guaranteed.

Tear gas fired as Yellow Vests and police clash in French city of Rouen (VIDEOS)

One worrying consequence of Europe's season of open borders has been the rise of far-right political movements. In fact, some of the harshest criticism of the 'Merkel plan' originated in Hungary , where its gutsy president, Viktor Orban, hopes to build " an old-school Christian democracy, rooted in European traditions ." Orban is simply responding to the democratic will of his people, who are fiercely conservative, yet the EU parliament voted to punish him regardless. The move shows that Brussels, aside from being adverse to democratic principles, has very few tools for addressing the rise of far-right sentiment that its own misguided policies created.

Here it is necessary to mention once again that bugbear of the political right, Mr. Soros, who has received no political mandate from European voters, yet who campaigns relentlessly on behalf of globalist initiatives through his Open Society Foundations (OSF) (That campaign just got some serious clout after Soros injected $18bn dollars of his own money into OSF, making it one of the most influential NGOs in the world).

With no small amount of impudence, Soros has condemned EU countries – namely his native Hungary – for attempting to protect their territories by constructing border barriers and fences, which he believes violate the human rights of migrants (rarely if ever does the philanthropist speak about the "human rights" of the native population). In the words of the maestro of mayhem himself: " Beggar-thy-neighbor migration policies, such as building border fences, will not only further fragment the union; they also seriously damage European economies and subvert global human rights standards. "

Through a leaked network of compromised EU parliamentarians who do his bidding, Soros says the EU should spend $30 billion euros ($33bln) to accommodate " at least 300,000 refugees each year ." How will the EU pay for the resettling of migrants from the Middle East? Soros has an answer for that as well. He calls it " surge funding, " which entails " raising a substantial amount of debt backed by the EU's relatively small budget. "

Nigel Farage @Nigel_Farage

George Soros has spent billions in the EU to undermine the nation state. This is where the real international political collusion is.

28.8K 4:35 AM - Nov 14, 2017

Any guesses who will be forced to pay down the debt on this high-risk venture? If you guessed George Soros, guess again. The already heavily taxed people of Europe will be forced to shoulder that heavy burden. " To finance it, new European taxes will have to be levied sooner or later, " Soros admits. That comment is very interesting in light of the recent French protests, which were triggered by Emmanuel Macron's plan to impose a new fuel tax. Was the French leader, a former investment banker, attempting to get back some of the funds being used to support the influx of new arrivals into his country? The question seems like a valid one, and goes far at explaining the ongoing unrest.

Soros & the £400k Question: What constitutes 'foreign interference' in democracy?

At this point, it is worth remembering what triggered the exodus of migrants into Europe in the first place. A large part of the answer comes down to unlawful NATO operations on the ground of sovereign states. Since 2003, the 29-member military bloc, under the direct command of Washington, has conducted illicit military operations in various places around the globe, including in Iraq, Libya and Syria. These actions, which could be best described as globalism on steroids, have opened a Pandora's Box of global scourges, including famine, terrorism and grinding poverty. Is this what the Western states mean by 'humanitarian activism'? If the major EU countries really want to flout their humanitarian credentials, they could have started by demanding the cessation of regime-change operations throughout the Middle East and North Africa, which created such inhumane conditions for millions of innocent people.

This failure on the part of Western capitals to speak out against belligerent US foreign policy helps to explain why a number of other European governments are experiencing major shakeups. Sebastian Kurz, 32, won over the hearts of Austrian voters by promising to tackle unchecked immigration. In super-tolerant Sweden, which has accepted more migrants per capita than any other EU state, the anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats party garnered 17.6 percent of the vote in September elections – up from 12.9 percent in the previous election. And even Angela Merkel, who is seen by many people as the de facto leader of the European Union, is watching her political star crash and burn mostly due to her bungling of the migrant crisis. In October, after her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) suffered a stinging setback in Bavaria elections, which saw CDU voters abandon ship for the anti-immigrant AfD and the Greens, Merkel announced she would resign in 2021 after her current term expires.

Meanwhile, back in the US, the government of President Donald Trump has been shut down as the Democrats refuse to grant the American leader the funds to build a wall on the Mexican border – despite the fact that he essentially made it to the White House on precisely that promise. Personally, I find it very hard to believe that any political party that does not support a strong and viable border can continue to be taken seriously at the polls for very long. Yet that is the very strategy that the Democrats have chosen. But I digress.

Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump

I am all alone (poor me) in the White House waiting for the Democrats to come back and make a deal on desperately needed Border Security. At some point the Democrats not wanting to make a deal will cost our Country more money than the Border Wall we are all talking about. Crazy!

181K 12:32 PM - Dec 24, 2018 Twitter Ads info and privacy

The lesson that Western governments should have learned over the last year from these developments is that there exists a definite red line that the globalists cross at risk not only to the social order, but to their own political fortunes. Eventually the people will demand solutions to their problems – many of which were caused by reckless neoliberal programs and austerity measures. This collective sense of desperation may open the door to any number of right-wing politicians only too happy to meet the demand.

Better to provide fair working conditions for the people while maintaining strong borders than have to face the wrath of the street or some political charlatan later. Whether or not Western leaders will change their neoliberal ways as a populist storm front approaches remains to be seen, but I for one am not betting on it.

[Dec 30, 2018] The essence of neoliberalism by Pierre Bourdieu

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... What is neoliberalism? A programme for destroying collective structures which may impede the pure market logic. ..."
"... The movement toward the neoliberal utopia of a pure and perfect market is made possible by the politics of financial deregulation. And it is achieved through the transformative and, it must be said, destructive action of all of the political measures (of which the most recent is the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI), designed to protect foreign corporations and their investments from national states) that aim to call into question any and all collective structures that could serve as an obstacle to the logic of the pure market: the nation, whose space to manoeuvre continually decreases; work groups, for example through the individualisation of salaries and of careers as a function of individual competences, with the consequent atomisation of workers; collectives for the defence of the rights of workers, unions, associations, cooperatives; even the family, which loses part of its control over consumption through the constitution of markets by age groups. ..."
"... The neoliberal programme draws its social power from the political and economic power of those whose interests it expresses: stockholders, financial operators, industrialists, conservative or social-democratic politicians who have been converted to the reassuring layoffs of laisser-faire, high-level financial officials eager to impose policies advocating their own extinction because, unlike the managers of firms, they run no risk of having eventually to pay the consequences. Neoliberalism tends on the whole to favour severing the economy from social realities and thereby constructing, in reality, an economic system conforming to its description in pure theory, that is a sort of logical machine that presents itself as a chain of constraints regulating economic agents. ..."
"... This structural violence also weighs on what is called the labour contract (wisely rationalised and rendered unreal by the "theory of contracts"). Organisational discourse has never talked as much of trust, co-operation, loyalty, and organisational culture as in an era when adherence to the organisation is obtained at each moment by eliminating all temporal guarantees of employment (three-quarters of hires are for fixed duration, the proportion of temporary employees keeps rising, employment "at will" and the right to fire an individual tend to be freed from any restriction). ..."
"... How could we not make a special place among these collectives, associations, unions, and parties for the state: the nation-state, or better yet the supranational state - a European state on the way toward a world state - capable of effectively controlling and taxing the profits earned in the financial markets and, above of all, of counteracting the destructive impact that the latter have on the labour market. This could be done with the aid of labour unions by organising the elaboration and defence of the public interest . Like it or not, the public interest will never emerge, even at the cost of a few mathematical errors, from the vision of accountants (in an earlier period one would have said of "shopkeepers") that the new belief system presents as the supreme form of human accomplishment. ..."
Dec 30, 1998 | mondediplo.com

Utopia of endless exploitation

The essence of neoliberalism

What is neoliberalism? A programme for destroying collective structures which may impede the pure market logic.

As the dominant discourse would have it, the economic world is a pure and perfect order, implacably unrolling the logic of its predictable consequences, and prompt to repress all violations by the sanctions that it inflicts, either automatically or -- more unusually -- through the intermediary of its armed extensions, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the policies they impose: reducing labour costs, reducing public expenditures and making work more flexible. Is the dominant discourse right? What if, in reality, this economic order were no more than the implementation of a utopia - the utopia of neoliberalism - thus converted into a political problem ? One that, with the aid of the economic theory that it proclaims, succeeds in conceiving of itself as the scientific description of reality?

This tutelary theory is a pure mathematical fiction. From the start it has been founded on a formidable abstraction. For, in the name of a narrow and strict conception of rationality as individual rationality, it brackets the economic and social conditions of rational orientations and the economic and social structures that are the condition of their application.

To give the measure of this omission, it is enough to think just of the educational system. Education is never taken account of as such at a time when it plays a determining role in the production of goods and services as in the production of the producers themselves. From this sort of original sin, inscribed in the Walrasian myth ( 1 ) of "pure theory", flow all of the deficiencies and faults of the discipline of economics and the fatal obstinacy with which it attaches itself to the arbitrary opposition which it induces, through its mere existence, between a properly economic logic, based on competition and efficiency, and social logic, which is subject to the rule of fairness.

That said, this "theory" that is desocialised and dehistoricised at its roots has, today more than ever, the means of making itself true and empirically verifiable. In effect, neoliberal discourse is not just one discourse among many. Rather, it is a "strong discourse" - the way psychiatric discourse is in an asylum, in Erving Goffman's analysis ( 2 ) . It is so strong and so hard to combat only because it has on its side all of the forces of a world of relations of forces, a world that it contributes to making what it is. It does this most notably by orienting the economic choices of those who dominate economic relationships. It thus adds its own symbolic force to these relations of forces. In the name of this scientific programme, converted into a plan of political action, an immense political project is underway, although its status as such is denied because it appears to be purely negative. This project aims to create the conditions under which the "theory" can be realised and can function: a programme of the methodical destruction of collectives .

The movement toward the neoliberal utopia of a pure and perfect market is made possible by the politics of financial deregulation. And it is achieved through the transformative and, it must be said, destructive action of all of the political measures (of which the most recent is the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI), designed to protect foreign corporations and their investments from national states) that aim to call into question any and all collective structures that could serve as an obstacle to the logic of the pure market: the nation, whose space to manoeuvre continually decreases; work groups, for example through the individualisation of salaries and of careers as a function of individual competences, with the consequent atomisation of workers; collectives for the defence of the rights of workers, unions, associations, cooperatives; even the family, which loses part of its control over consumption through the constitution of markets by age groups.

The neoliberal programme draws its social power from the political and economic power of those whose interests it expresses: stockholders, financial operators, industrialists, conservative or social-democratic politicians who have been converted to the reassuring layoffs of laisser-faire, high-level financial officials eager to impose policies advocating their own extinction because, unlike the managers of firms, they run no risk of having eventually to pay the consequences. Neoliberalism tends on the whole to favour severing the economy from social realities and thereby constructing, in reality, an economic system conforming to its description in pure theory, that is a sort of logical machine that presents itself as a chain of constraints regulating economic agents.

The globalisation of financial markets, when joined with the progress of information technology, ensures an unprecedented mobility of capital. It gives investors concerned with the short-term profitability of their investments the possibility of permanently comparing the profitability of the largest corporations and, in consequence, penalising these firms' relative setbacks. Subjected to this permanent threat, the corporations themselves have to adjust more and more rapidly to the exigencies of the markets, under penalty of "losing the market's confidence", as they say, as well as the support of their stockholders. The latter, anxious to obtain short-term profits, are more and more able to impose their will on managers, using financial directorates to establish the rules under which managers operate and to shape their policies regarding hiring, employment, and wages.

Thus the absolute reign of flexibility is established, with employees being hiring on fixed-term contracts or on a temporary basis and repeated corporate restructurings and, within the firm itself, competition among autonomous divisions as well as among teams forced to perform multiple functions. Finally, this competition is extended to individuals themselves, through the individualisation of the wage relationship: establishment of individual performance objectives, individual performance evaluations, permanent evaluation, individual salary increases or granting of bonuses as a function of competence and of individual merit; individualised career paths; strategies of "delegating responsibility" tending to ensure the self-exploitation of staff who, simple wage labourers in relations of strong hierarchical dependence, are at the same time held responsible for their sales, their products, their branch, their store, etc. as though they were independent contractors. This pressure toward "self-control" extends workers' "involvement" according to the techniques of "participative management" considerably beyond management level. All of these are techniques of rational domination that impose over-involvement in work (and not only among management) and work under emergency or high-stress conditions. And they converge to weaken or abolish collective standards or solidarities ( 3 ) .

In this way, a Darwinian world emerges - it is the struggle of all against all at all levels of the hierarchy, which finds support through everyone clinging to their job and organisation under conditions of insecurity, suffering, and stress. Without a doubt, the practical establishment of this world of struggle would not succeed so completely without the complicity of all of the precarious arrangements that produce insecurity and of the existence of a reserve army of employees rendered docile by these social processes that make their situations precarious, as well as by the permanent threat of unemployment. This reserve army exists at all levels of the hierarchy, even at the higher levels, especially among managers. The ultimate foundation of this entire economic order placed under the sign of freedom is in effect the structural violence of unemployment, of the insecurity of job tenure and the menace of layoff that it implies. The condition of the "harmonious" functioning of the individualist micro-economic model is a mass phenomenon, the existence of a reserve army of the unemployed.

This structural violence also weighs on what is called the labour contract (wisely rationalised and rendered unreal by the "theory of contracts"). Organisational discourse has never talked as much of trust, co-operation, loyalty, and organisational culture as in an era when adherence to the organisation is obtained at each moment by eliminating all temporal guarantees of employment (three-quarters of hires are for fixed duration, the proportion of temporary employees keeps rising, employment "at will" and the right to fire an individual tend to be freed from any restriction).

Thus we see how the neoliberal utopia tends to embody itself in the reality of a kind of infernal machine, whose necessity imposes itself even upon the rulers. Like the Marxism of an earlier time, with which, in this regard, it has much in common, this utopia evokes powerful belief - the free trade faith - not only among those who live off it, such as financiers, the owners and managers of large corporations, etc., but also among those, such as high-level government officials and politicians, who derive their justification for existing from it. For they sanctify the power of markets in the name of economic efficiency, which requires the elimination of administrative or political barriers capable of inconveniencing the owners of capital in their individual quest for the maximisation of individual profit, which has been turned into a model of rationality. They want independent central banks. And they preach the subordination of nation-states to the requirements of economic freedom for the masters of the economy, with the suppression of any regulation of any market, beginning with the labour market, the prohibition of deficits and inflation, the general privatisation of public services, and the reduction of public and social expenses.

Economists may not necessarily share the economic and social interests of the true believers and may have a variety of individual psychic states regarding the economic and social effects of the utopia which they cloak with mathematical reason. Nevertheless, they have enough specific interests in the field of economic science to contribute decisively to the production and reproduction of belief in the neoliberal utopia. Separated from the realities of the economic and social world by their existence and above all by their intellectual formation, which is most frequently purely abstract, bookish, and theoretical, they are particularly inclined to confuse the things of logic with the logic of things.

These economists trust models that they almost never have occasion to submit to the test of experimental verification and are led to look down upon the results of the other historical sciences, in which they do not recognise the purity and crystalline transparency of their mathematical games, whose true necessity and profound complexity they are often incapable of understanding. They participate and collaborate in a formidable economic and social change. Even if some of its consequences horrify them (they can join the socialist party and give learned counsel to its representatives in the power structure), it cannot displease them because, at the risk of a few failures, imputable to what they sometimes call "speculative bubbles", it tends to give reality to the ultra-logical utopia (ultra-logical like certain forms of insanity) to which they consecrate their lives.

And yet the world is there, with the immediately visible effects of the implementation of the great neoliberal utopia: not only the poverty of an increasingly large segment of the most economically advanced societies, the extraordinary growth in income differences, the progressive disappearance of autonomous universes of cultural production, such as film, publishing, etc. through the intrusive imposition of commercial values, but also and above all two major trends. First is the destruction of all the collective institutions capable of counteracting the effects of the infernal machine, primarily those of the state, repository of all of the universal values associated with the idea of the public realm . Second is the imposition everywhere, in the upper spheres of the economy and the state as at the heart of corporations, of that sort of moral Darwinism that, with the cult of the winner, schooled in higher mathematics and bungee jumping, institutes the struggle of all against all and cynicism as the norm of all action and behaviour.

Can it be expected that the extraordinary mass of suffering produced by this sort of political-economic regime will one day serve as the starting point of a movement capable of stopping the race to the abyss? Indeed, we are faced here with an extraordinary paradox. The obstacles encountered on the way to realising the new order of the lone, but free individual are held today to be imputable to rigidities and vestiges. All direct and conscious intervention of whatever kind, at least when it comes from the state, is discredited in advance and thus condemned to efface itself for the benefit of a pure and anonymous mechanism, the market, whose nature as a site where interests are exercised is forgotten. But in reality, what keeps the social order from dissolving into chaos, despite the growing volume of the endangered population, is the continuity or survival of those very institutions and representatives of the old order that is in the process of being dismantled, and all the work of all of the categories of social workers, as well as all the forms of social solidarity, familial or otherwise.

The transition to "liberalism" takes place in an imperceptible manner, like continental drift, thus hiding its effects from view. Its most terrible consequences are those of the long term. These effects themselves are concealed, paradoxically, by the resistance to which this transition is currently giving rise among those who defend the old order by drawing on the resources it contained, on old solidarities, on reserves of social capital that protect an entire portion of the present social order from falling into anomie. This social capital is fated to wither away - although not in the short run - if it is not renewed and reproduced.

But these same forces of "conservation", which it is too easy to treat as conservative, are also, from another point of view, forces of resistance to the establishment of the new order and can become subversive forces. If there is still cause for some hope, it is that forces still exist, both in state institutions and in the orientations of social actors (notably individuals and groups most attached to these institutions, those with a tradition of civil and public service) that, under the appearance of simply defending an order that has disappeared and its corresponding "privileges" (which is what they will immediately be accused of), will be able to resist the challenge only by working to invent and construct a new social order. One that will not have as its only law the pursuit of egoistic interests and the individual passion for profit and that will make room for collectives oriented toward the rational pursuit of ends collectively arrived at and collectively ratified .

How could we not make a special place among these collectives, associations, unions, and parties for the state: the nation-state, or better yet the supranational state - a European state on the way toward a world state - capable of effectively controlling and taxing the profits earned in the financial markets and, above of all, of counteracting the destructive impact that the latter have on the labour market. This could be done with the aid of labour unions by organising the elaboration and defence of the public interest . Like it or not, the public interest will never emerge, even at the cost of a few mathematical errors, from the vision of accountants (in an earlier period one would have said of "shopkeepers") that the new belief system presents as the supreme form of human accomplishment.

Pierre Bourdieu. Professor at the Collège de France Translated by Jeremy J. Shapiro

( 1 ) Auguste Walras (1800-66), French economist, author of De la nature de la richesse et de l'origine de la valeur ("On the Nature of Wealth and on the Origin of Value")(1848). He was one of the first to attempt to apply mathematics to economic inquiry.

( 2 ) Erving Goffman. 1961. Asylums: Essays on the Social Situation of Mental Patients and Other Inmates . New York: Aldine de Gruyter.

( 3 ) See the two journal issues devoted to "Nouvelles formes de domination dans le travail" ("New forms of domination in work"), Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales , nos. 114, September 1996, and 115, December 1996, especially the introduction by Gabrielle Balazs and Michel Pialoux, "Crise du travail et crise du politique" & Work crisis and political crisis, no. 114: p.3-4.

[Dec 30, 2018] Neoliberalism, the Free Market, and the Decline of Managerial Capitalism - The European Financial Review - Empowering communications globally

Notable quotes:
"... By Alexander Styhre ..."
"... Management and Neoliberalism: Connecting Policies and Practices ..."
"... Scandinavian Journal of Management. ..."
Dec 30, 2018 | www.europeanfinancialreview.com

Neoliberalism, the Free Market, and the Decline of Managerial Capitalism

April 23, 2014 • EUROPE , WORLD , Economic Thoughts , Commentary , Business & Economy , Politics & Policy , Eurozone Crisis & Debate

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By Alexander Styhre

Neoliberalism is a most troubled term, one that denotes a variety of ideologies, beliefs, policies and practices. This article outlines some of the changes concerning corporate governance, managerial control, and employee relations and points at the interrelations between the scholarly debates and theoretical contributions, macroeconomic conditions, and political agenda all being part of the century-long history of neoliberalism.

The roots of neoliberalism runs deep in Western thinking and the history of the term is more complex than is generally recognized, especially among those who associate the term with laissez-faire policies and what at times has been rejected as "market fundamentalism." Liberalism as a political and economic term is of British origin, but the neoliberal tradition of thinking derives from the continent, and from Austria and Germany in particular. 1 The Austrian School of Economics, represented by Friedrich von Hayek and Joseph Schumpeter and the so-called Ordo-liberals at Freiburg University in Germany represent two distinct branches of economic liberalism. While Hayek early on warned against an expanded role of the state as the central planner of economic activities, the German group of liberal economists was more ready to recognize the role of the state as the legitimate regulator of the economy.

Hayek was a peripheral figure in the economic profession in the interwar period, but the anti-Keynesian sentiments at London School of Economics, best represented by the economist Lionel Robbins, served to advance Hayek as an alternative to the widely endorsed Keynesian economic theory and its application in policy. In 1950, Hayek was offered a position at LSE on the basis of a private donation. A few years earlier, in 1947, Hayek had founded the Mont Pèlerin Society (MPS), a community of intellectuals including economists such as Frank Knight, Milton Friedman, and Lionel Robbins and the philosopher Karl Popper. This group was committed to advancing a liberal economic agenda and to counteracting collectivist solutions to economic problems. For more than two decades, MPS was operating out of the limelight as Keynesianism effectively enabled economic growth and handled the issue of the distribution of economic resources through the use of progressive taxation in the emerging welfare states. In both economics departments and in policy-making quarters, Keynesianism became highly influential, at times hegemonic. However, by the mid-1960s, the profit rates started to decline in American industry and during the first oil crisis in the 1970s, caused by political conflicts, industry's profit rates sharply declined as energy costs soared.

Liberalism as a political and economic term is of British origin, but the neoliberal tradition of thinking derives from the continent, and from Austria and Germany in particular

The remainder of the 1970s were characterized by the new phenomenon of stagflation , high inflation in combination with rising unemployment, and the new monetarist economic theory advocated by Milton Freidman proposed a high interest-rate policy to curb inflation and to promote economic growth. Paul Volcker, the new chairman of the Federal Reserve named by President Carter, announced a high interest rate policy that would last well into the 1980s. By the mid-1970s, the predominant Keynesianist economic policy came under attack and neoliberal intellectuals could advance their positions.

The triumph of neoliberalism in the 1980s was caused by both macroeconomic and political changes in American society. First, the combination of high overseas savings, primarily in Japan reporting significant trade surplus, an overrated dollar, and the high-interests policy of the Fed led to an inflow of capital into the American economy, creating an oversupply of capital in the 1980s. 2 In addition, Ronald Reagan was elected president in 1980 on the basis of a pro-business agenda, and the Reagan Administration recruited economic advisors and co-workers from neoliberal and neoconservative think tanks that were either formed. or significantly increased their budgets, in the 1970s, as private capital owners donated money to advance free market policies. The new administration wanted to promote economic growth by implementing new regulatory policies based on the idea of the virtues of "small governments" as prescribed by Hayek's work published during the war years and thereafter. One of the key targets in this neoliberal framework were the trade unions, which were widely regarded as representing a collectivist solution that poorly fitted with the free-market policy advocated by neoliberal intellectuals. In addition, substantial tax reforms in the 1980s were justified on the basis of what was branded "trickle-down economics" by its critics, the idea that reduced taxes would create their own economic momentum as the supply of capital would "trickle down" the economic system and generate economic growth through increased demand.

By the mid-1980s, a wave of hostile takeovers strongly contributed to the decline in managerial capitalism, the economic regime characterized by large, public corporations run by professional managers representing various functional domains of expertise, and promoted a shift to "investor capitalism.

The tax-reforms reduced the federal income but the inflow of foreign capital into the American economy enabled the Reagan Administration to eat the cake and have it too: while Reagan was fond of speaking of "rolling back the state," he had larger budget deficits than any other post-World War II president, and government bonds served to finance the sharp increase in military spending in the 1980s. In fact, the issuing of government bonds closely followed the budget deficits in the Reagan era. 3


Investor capitalism

The new economic advisors, equipped with the new finance theory, advocated a liberalization of regulatory frameworks enabling new financial operations. By the mid-1980s, a wave of so-called hostile takeovers strongly contributed to the decline in managerial capitalism, the economic regime characterized by large, public corporations run by professional managers representing various functional domains of expertise, and promoted a shift to "investor capitalism," an economic regime closely bound up with the emergence of an increasingly dominant finance industry. As the American economy overflowed with capital, there were opportunities for a new class of professional finance professionals to raise capital, to buy large conglomerate firms being underrated after 1970s bear markets, and to divest them. Permissive regulators endorsed economic theories that regarded hostile takeovers as a legitimate mechanism serving to eliminate poorly managed firms with low-growth opportunities and therefore playing a key role in renewing and invigorating the economy. Such theoretically logical arguments were, however, not supported by empirical evidence as it was primarily sound and well-functioning companies that were subject to hostile takeover bids. 4

Regardless of the legitimacy of the new forms of financial engineering, strongly dependent on the ability to issue junk bonds popular among the new generation of finance industry actors such as Michael Milken, the new threat to corporate survival made CEOs and directors aware of the need to pay close attention to the market valuation of the stock. The popularity of agency theory and its insistence on the creation of shareholder value as the sole legitimate objective of the corporation further underlined the firm's orientation towards the finance market. In the new political and regulatory environment of the 1980s, the focus shifted from long-term survival and economic stability, i.e., virtues of managerial capitalism, to short-term capital accumulation and the ability to live with the turmoil of the ups and downs of the economy. Managers had traditionally been paid to secure long-term and stable growth and to cater to a variety of constituencies, while in the new economic regime, that of investor capitalism, high returns on investment and the one-sided focus of shareholder enrichment were rewarded. Managers started to "think like shareholders."

The popularity of agency theory and its insistence on the creation of shareholder value as the sole legitimate objective of the corporation further underlined the firm's orientation towards the finance market.

The inflow of capital into the U.S. economy had also created a new form of finance industry actor, the fund manager. While fund managers controlled 20% of shares of a stock-listed company in 1970, in 2005, the comparable figure was 60%. 5 In the ideal case of market-based transactions, an investor being unsatisfied with the financial performance of the firm acts through exit rather than voice (in Albert Hirschman's terms), i.e., he or she sells the stock. In the case where one single actor holds large shares of the stock, the selling of the shares would affect the market price, and therefore fund managers started to influence how CEOs and directors were recruited to the firms in which they held stocks, that is, they increasingly turned to voice rather than exit . As a consequence, CEOs and the directors with a background in finance that shared a belief in finance market efficiency and the virtue of shareholder value creation were increasingly recruited. As both fund managers and CEOs were now compensated on the basis of their ability to report a growth in the value of the stock, the interests of CEOs, directors, and owners converged as they were now all serving the same finance market. In an agency theory view, this led to a reduction of the so-called agency costs. Unfortunately, there was evidence of new forms of behavior that were not anticipated by free-market protagonists.

187890299-1

If markets were efficient, why would firms invest their so-called "free cash flow" to manipulate the price of their stock rather than investing the money in productive capital, or transfer the capital to the owners as dividends?

For instance, in the period of 1987-2007, the amount of annual repurchases of stocks by individual firms increased eighteen-fold. 6 Agency theory makes the assumption that finance markets are effectively pricing assets, that is, all publically available information is reflected in a financial asset's market price. Yet, the de-regulation of the finance markets from the 1980s to promote market efficiency coincides with a strong preference of firms to repurchase their own stock. If markets were efficient, why would then firms invest their so-called "free cash flow" to manipulate the price of their stock rather than investing the money in productive capital, or transfer the capital to the owners as dividends? The literature on stock repurchases offers a number of explanations but fails to provide a unified and comprehensive view. 7 Under all conditions, stock repurchases remain a puzzling phenomenon for free-marketeers.

In the new regime of investor capitalism, dominated by neoclassic economic theory favouring market transactions and skeptical of the role of organizations altogether (as they to some extent represent a market failure in terms of offering lower transaction costs vis-à-vis comparable market transactions), managerial authority has been moved to the outside of the corporation. First of all, to repeat, the shareholder value creation policy locates the shareholders who know better than executives inside the firm where to invest the free-cash flow; if there are promising potentials within the focal firm, capital owners will buy more shares, but if there are higher expected returns elsewhere, the capital will be invested accordingly. Second, as a consequence of the suspicion that executives are at risk to act opportunistically, various forms of auditing, accreditations, and credit ratings are widely used in an attempt to move the corporate control outside of the firm. The extensive literature on auditing and the issuing of accreditations and credit ratings unfortunately reveal that it is complicated to maintain the arm's-length distance needed between the auditor and the auditee, 8 and in the case of credit-rating, the so-called "issuer pays" policy leads to a series of governance problems. 9

Third, the orientation towards finance markets and its emphasis on high returns over long–term stability -- there is ample evidence of a sharp growth of recurrent financial crises after 1980 10 -- has led to new human resources and employment practices, wherein a larger proportion of the workforce is hired on short-term contracts and receive lower pay and fewer benefits. In addition, in the U.S., and the U.K., the two epicentra of neoliberal reforms, the level of unionization has been in decline, further reducing the collective bargaining power of workers. 11 The perhaps largest explanatory factor regarding the decline in long-term stability in employment is the loss in manufacturing jobs in the U.S., and the succession of service-industry jobs offering both lower pay and lower demands for technical expertise. In addition, in the attempt to boost shareholder value, downsizing and off-shoring have been popular among finance market-oriented executives. By and large, the shift from the managerial capitalism of the Keynesian, post-World War II period to the neoliberal investor capitalism brought a new theory of the firm, novel corporate governance practices, an accentuated short-term perspective on economic value creation, and not least, a new vocabulary of how to address and speak about managerial practices and firm performance.

The triumph of free-market thinking and neoliberal policy is perhaps not so much to be treated as the ultimate evidence of the superior rationality of the market, as it is indicative of the decline of the U.S. and U.K. economies and the West more broadly speaking on the global scale.
Concluding Remarks

In hindsight, after five decades of consolidation and organization, free-market protagonists managed to move from the periphery of economic policy-making and into its very centres by the end of the 1970s. Those who were initially regarded as outsiders and eccentrics started to claim the Nobel Memorial Prizes in Economic Sciences by the mid-1970s, but this is, skeptics may say, not so much about "being right" (in terms of making adequate predictions or providing policies that regulate the economy effectively) as much as it is indicative of the ability to capitalize on strong political and economic interests being mobilized when, for example, trade unions' influence and demands for economic equality were regarded to be too far advanced by certain groups. In addition to the ability to align capital owners and intellectuals in financing academic departments and think tanks in the post-World War II period and in the crisis-ridden 1970s in particular, 12 macroeconomic conditions were beneficial for the free-market cause. At the same time, it is complicated to predict the outcome from policy-making, and there are significant influences from unforeseen events and unanticipated consequences of purposeful action in the history of neoliberalism and free market reforms. Therefore, the triumph of free-market thinking and neoliberal policy is perhaps not so much to be treated as the ultimate evidence of the superior rationality of the market as economists like Friedrich von Hayek and Milton Friedman would assume, as it is indicative of the decline of the U.S. and U.K. economies and the West more broadly speaking on the global scale as suggested by economic statistics. 13

While finance theory professors are fond of speaking of finance markets as being "the brain of capitalist system," the events of 2008 rendered such statements subject to doubt, to say the least.

The enormous growth of financial markets and the finance industry is also a topic subject to much scholarly and media attention, and while finance theory professors are fond of speaking of finance markets as being "the brain of capitalist system," the events of 2008 rendered such statements subject to doubt, to say the least. In addition, the free-market capitalism being dreamed about by neoliberal intellectuals since the 1930s does by no means imply a diminished state but rather the government and state agencies becoming an ally of capital owners, serving to rearticulate the welfare state into a "neoliberal ownership society state." Whether that is a sustainable role of the state, or if it rewards certain groups at an intolerable level is subject to ongoing discussions.

This article draw on A. Styhre (2014) Management and Neoliberalism: Connecting Policies and Practices (New York & London: Routledge)

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About the Author

Alexander Styhre , Ph.D (Lund University) is Chair of Organization Theory and Management, School of Business, Economics and Law, University of Gothenburg, Sweden. Styhre has published widely in the field of organization studies and is the author of several research monographs and textbooks. Alexander is the Editor-in-Chief of Scandinavian Journal of Management.

[Dec 29, 2018] Fracking in 2018- Another Year of Pretending to Make Money - naked capitalism

Notable quotes:
"... By Justin Mikulka, a freelance writer, audio and video producer living in Trumansburg, NY. Originally published at DeSmog Blog ..."
"... this time will be different. ..."
"... Follow the DeSmog investigative series: ..."
"... regularly conducted by an exempt organization ..."
Dec 29, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Jerri-Lynn here. This is the latest installment in Justin Mikulka's excellent series on the fracking beat, Finances of Fracking: Shale Industry Drills More Debt Than Profit . The industry lacks even the excuse of profit to justify the environmental costs it inflicts – yet the mainstream media continue to swallow industry waffle. I've crossposted other articles in the series, and I encourage interested readers to look at them – the entire series is well worth your time.

By Justin Mikulka, a freelance writer, audio and video producer living in Trumansburg, NY. Originally published at DeSmog Blog

2018 was the year the oil and gas industry promised that its darling, the shale fracking revolution, would stop focusing on endless production and instead turn a profit for its investors. But as the year winds to a close, it's clear that hasn't happened.

Instead, the fracking industry has helped set new records for U.S. oil production while continuing to lose huge amounts of money -- and that was before the recent crash in oil prices.

But plenty of people in the industry and media make it sound like a much different, and more profitable, story.

Broken Promises and Record Production

Going into this year, the fracking industry needed to prove it was a good investment (and not just for its CEOs, who are garnering massive paychecks ).

In January, The Wall Street Journal touted the prospect of frackers finally making "real money for the first time" this year. "Shale drillers are heeding growing calls from investors who have chastened the companies for pumping ever more oil and gas even as they incur losses doing so," oil and energy reporter Bradley Olson wrote.

Olson's story quoted an energy asset manager making the (always) ill-fated prediction about the oil and gas industry that this time will be different.

Is this time going to be different? I think yes, a little bit," said energy asset manager Will Riley. "Companies will look to increase growth a little, but at a more moderate pace."

Despite this early optimism, Bloomberg noted in February that even the Permian Basin -- "America's hottest oilfield" -- faced "hidden pitfalls" that could "hamstring" the industry.

They were right. Those pitfalls turned out to be the ugly reality of the fracking industry's finances.

And this time was not different.

On the edge of the Permian in New Mexico, The Albuquerque Journal reported the industry is "on pace this year to leap past last year's record oil production," according to Ryan Flynn, executive director of the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association. And yet that oil has at times been discounted as much as $20 a barrel compared to world oil prices because New Mexico doesn't have the infrastructure to move all of it.

Who would be foolish enough to produce more oil than the existing infrastructure could handle in a year when the industry promised restraint and a focus on profits? New Mexico, for one. And North Dakota. And Texas.

In North Dakota, record oil production resulted in discounts of $15 per barrel and above due to infrastructure constraints.

Texas is experiencing a similar story. Oilprice.com cites a Goldman Sachs prediction of discounts "around $19-$22 per [barrel]" for the fourth quarter of 2018 and through the first three quarters of next year.

Oil producers in fracking fields across the country seem to have resisted the urge to reign in production and instead produced record volumes of oil in 2018. In the process -- much like the tar sands industry in Canada -- they have created a situation where the market devalues their oil. Unsurprisingly, this is not a recipe for profits.

Shale Oil Industry 'More Profitable Than Ever' -- Or Is It?

However, Reuters recently analyzed 32 fracking companies and declared that "U.S. shale firms are more profitable than ever after a strong third quarter." How is this possible?

Reading a bit further reveals what Reuters considers "profits."

"The group's cash flow deficit has narrowed to $945 million as U.S.benchmark crude hit $70 a barrel and production soared," reported Reuters.

So, "more profitable than ever" means that those 32 companies are running a deficit of nearly $1 billion. That does not meet the accepted definition of profit.

A separate analysis released earlier this month by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis and The Sightline Institute also reviewed 32 companies in the fracking industry and reached the same conclusion: "The 32 mid-size U.S.exploration companies included in this review reported nearly $1 billion in negative cash flows through September."

Carly Woodstock @stopthefrack

NINE-YEAR LOSING STREAK CONTINUES FOR US FRACKING SECTOR

Oil and gas output is rising but cash losses keep flowing. # CSG # Fracking # Shale # Gas # FrackFreeNT # FrackFreeWA # FrackFreeNSW # FederalICAC # Auspol https://www. sightline.org/2018/12/05/nin e-year-losing-streak-continues-for-us-fracking-sector/

5 18:04 - 9 Dec 2018 Twitter Ads information and privacy Nine-year losing streak continues for US fracking sector - Sightline Institute

A look at 32 US fracking-focused companies spent nearly $1 billion more on drilling and related capital outlays than they generated by selling oil and gas.

sightline.org
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The numbers don't lie. Despite the highest oil prices in years and record amounts of oil production, the fracking industry continued to spend more than it made in 2018. And somehow, smaller industry losses can still be interpreted as being "more profitable than ever."

The Fracking Industry's Fuzzy Math

One practice the fracking industry uses to obfuscate its long money-losing streak is to change the goal posts for what it means to be profitable. The Wall Street Journal recently highlighted this practice, writing: "Claims of low 'break-even' prices for shale drilling hardly square with frackers' bottom lines."

The industry likes to talk about low "break-even" numbers and how individual wells are profitable -- but somehow the companies themselves keep losing money. This can lead to statements like this one from Chris Duncan, an energy analyst at Brandes Investment Partners:

"You always scratch your head as to how they can have these well economics that can have double-digit returns on investment, but it never flows through to the total company return."

Head-scratching, indeed.

The explanation is pretty simple: Shale companies are not counting many of their operating expenses in the "break-even" calculations. Convenient for them, but highly misleading about the economics of fracking because factoring in the costs of running one of these companies often leads those so-called profits from the black and into the red.

The Wall Street Journal explains the flaw in the fracking industry's questionable break-even claims: "break-evens generally exclude such key costs as land, overhead and even at times transportation."

Other tricks, The Wall Street Journal notes, include companies only claiming the break-even prices of their most profitable land (known in the industry as "sweet spots") or using artificially low costs for drilling contractors and oil service companies.

While the mystery of fracking industry finances appears to be solved, the mystery of why oil companies are allowed to make such misleading claims remains.

Ryan Popple @rcpopple

The US shale / fracking formula... 1.) borrow billions at low interest rates 2.) lose money forcing oil & gas from marginal fields 3.) leave someone else stuck with the financial losses & environmental destruction https://www. sightline.org/2018/10/17/us- fracking-financial-red-flags/

22 15:12 - 24 Oct 2018 Twitter Ads information and privacy Financial Red Flags for Fracking - Sightline Institute

America's fracking boom has been a world-class bust. Fracking companies have spent far more on drilling than they've earned by selling oil and gas.

sightline.org
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Wall Street Continues to Fund an Unsustainable Business Model

Why does the fracking industry continue to receive more investments from Wall Street despite breaking its "promises" this year?

Because that is how Wall Street makes money . Whether fracking companies are profitable or not doesn't really matter to Wall Street executives who are getting rich making the loans that the fracking industry struggles to repay.

An excellent example of this is the risk that rising interest rates pose to the fracking industry. Even shale companies that have made profits occasionally have done so while also amassing large debts . As interest rates rise, those companies will have to borrow at higher rates, which increases operating costs and decreases the likelihood that shale companies losing cash will ever pay back that debt.

Continental Resources, one of the largest fracking companies, is often touted as an excellent investment. Investor's Business Daily recently noted t hat "[w]ithin the Oil& Gas-U.S.Exploration & Production industry, Continental is the fourth-ranked stock with a strong 98 out of a highest-possible 99 [Investor's Business Daily] Composite Rating."

And yet when Simply Wall St. analyzed the company's ability to pay back its over $6 billion in debt, the stockmarket news site concluded that Continental isn't well positioned to repay that debt. However, it noted "[t]he sheer size of Continental Resources means it is unlikely to default or announce bankruptcy anytime soon." For frackers, being at the top of the industry apparently means being too big to fail.

As interest rates rise, common sense might suggest that Wall Street would rein in its lending to shale companies. But when has common sense applied to Wall Street?

Even the Houston Chronicle, a major paper near the center of the fracking boom, recently asked, "How long can the fracking spending spree last?"

James Osborne @osborneja

For the past decade U.S. fracking firms have been spending more than they're taking in - by about $80 million per year at the 60 largest companies. With investors cracking down and interest rates rising, some are asking how much longer it can go on. https://www. houstonchronicle.com/business/energ y/article/How-long-can-the-fracking-spending-spree-last-13228180.php?utm_campaign=twitter-premium&utm_source=CMS%20Sharing%20Button&utm_medium=social

6 15:04 - 14 Sep 2018 Twitter Ads information and privacy How long can the fracking spending spree last?

After a decade of U.S. oil and gas companies spending beyond their means, a debate is underway in the energy and investment sectors on whether to keep pumping money into oil fields to keep the boom...

houstonchronicle.com
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The Chronicle notes the epic money-losing streak for the industry and how fracking bankruptcies have already ended up "stiffing lenders and investors on more than $70 billion in outstanding loans."

So, is the party over?

Not according to Katherine Spector, a research scholar at Columbia University's Center on Global Energy Policy. She explains how Wall Street will reconcile investing in these fracking firms during a period of higher interest rates: "Banks are going to make more money [through higher interest rates], so they're going to want to get more money out the door."

Follow the DeSmog investigative series: Finances of Fracking: Shale Industry Drills More Debt Than Profit

Harry , December 20, 2018 at 6:12 am

Some points.

1. The Sightline Institute methodology had 33 cos. Not 32. I would bet the Reuters reporter took out one company out from the analysis. Bear in mind XOP has 72 or so companies so there is a lot of scope for cherry picking there too.

2. What bank wants to run an oil company? The banks lent to a sector which conned them. I guess rates were too low for too long. Those loans/bonds are only recoverable if oil prices are high. The oil men know they are long a massive call option, and you can't take it off them. They can't get new money so they won't give back the old.

3. Diamondback and maybe 8 others make money. Infrastructure in the right place and good geologies.

4. The numbers are unfair to Andarko cos the cut off misses a bunch of cash coming back in q3

Still, a well timed piece

TimR , December 20, 2018 at 10:16 am

Wrt 2, are you saying there's a contest between the banks and oil men? How is it likely to play out?

Pym of Nantucket , December 20, 2018 at 10:27 am

Remember Enron? We're clearly not smart enough to understand the genius of how this is profitable. I guess we should just step aside and watch the smart guys spin straw into gold. I'm sure they will share the wealth with the land owners right?

John k , December 20, 2018 at 11:34 am

If they don't pay the lease they're kicked off the land. They'll share until bk.

Harry , December 20, 2018 at 4:38 pm

These oil men are not stupid. They like to get their DUCs in a row – wells drilled but uncompleted. If oil goes up enough they can open the DUCs in less than 2 months. Its the weakly capitalized ones who will pump oil out of a reservoir with low oil prices to service debt. Also by drilling they often validate a lease which would void if they didnt drill. However by not pumping they dont have to pay any royalties – just rents.

Below $50 on WTI a lot of the sector doesn't generate enough cashflow to meet investment plans.

leapfrog , December 20, 2018 at 1:47 pm

Yes, I remember the infamous "Grandma Millie" talk between Enron traders.

rd , December 20, 2018 at 4:27 pm

I think a lot of the funding is with junk bonds. So most of those bonds are sold to investors, including ETFs, mutual funds, and pension funds. Many of the banks are just middlemen and will probably not be left holding too much of the bag if they haven't kept them on their own books or written lots of stupid derivatives on them.

This should be a much smaller sector than the housing sector so a sub-prime mortgage bond-like crash shouldn't have the impact of 2008. But who knows, the main thing aI marvel about with the financial sector is their unerring ability to take something that should be relatively safe, weaponize it, and threaten global financial stability with it.

Wukchumni , December 20, 2018 at 6:56 am

I've watched in horror from a distance in regards to fracking, and then a few days ago, this planning area map for open hydraulic fracking leases has me surrounded in a sea of red

https://eplanning.blm.gov/epl-front-office/projects/nepa/100601/153195/187750/Planning_Area_Map.pdf

We're on a fractured rock aquifer in the foothills here that's separate from the one on the valley floor, and because it gets scant use in Ag, and not many people live here (we're 2.5x as big as Paradise,Ca. in size, with 1/10th of the population and at a similar altitude) nobody's hard rock wells had any issues with going dry during the lengthy drought and having to drill hundreds if not a thousand feet deeper in search of H20, as was occurring to the farmers et al on the fruited plain.

I sure don't like the idea of a fractured rock aquifer and fracking

One thing going against us, is land is cheap here, it's nature acres, nice to look at. but no development potential, as the trees are all in the way, and what sorry sap is going to cut down oaks a couple hundred old and level the hills to put in tiny boxes?

That villain doesn't exist, luckily.

But if you were to dangle large amounts of money at the owners of such low value acres, in oil leases?

And the idea it was all a circle jerk by Wall*Street & Big Oil, to get the money!
.
Makes it even harder to swallow

RBHoughton , December 20, 2018 at 5:32 pm

Its not just the environmental damage. Banks lending to frackers will be precedent creditors. They'll keep loaning until whatever value in the company that can be extracted in extremis has been used up. One can easily imagine the sort of accounting Wall Street uses.

SittingStill , December 20, 2018 at 7:23 am

So when these companies finally go bust, faced with the diminishment of oil production, will US taxpayers be forced to bail out the industry because of the economic/national security implications of the prospects of eviscerated US oil production volumes? If so, Wall Street wins yet again.

Pym of Nantucket , December 20, 2018 at 10:21 am

A gigantic hidden cost is the liabilities associated with the resulting abandoned wells. This is why this fall there was a Supreme Court challenge in Canada to a ruling on who gets paid first in such cases. In Canada the reclamation costs fall to the remaining producers who share costs of the Orphan Well Association. In the US, it is completely off the books, and therefore falls to the government to clean up abandoned plays when companies go bust.

So, taxpayers could be on the hook both if there is a government bailout on bad loans, a al 2008/2009, AND will have to pay to clean this up (it's expensive, by the way, there are thousands and thousands of these sites that need to be remediated). I suspect the reason all this is happening is a strategic effort to use tax payer backstopped risk to punish Russia to daring to exist.

rd , December 20, 2018 at 10:42 am

This is similar to mines and old waste dumps. If the owners were limited partnerships or companies that went bankrupt with no remaining solvent pieces, then there is no money in the kitty to clean them up. The remaining game in town then is Superfund and state programs for inactive hazardous waste sites and orphan wells.

The RCRA Subtitle C and D regulations in the 1980s and early 90s required landfill operators to set aside funds in lock-boxes so that if they went bankrupt, the state could access those funds to close the landfills. The landfills typically charge a fee per ton just to fund these financial assurance accounts and they need to keep them on file with the states. Unfortunately, the resource extraction industry has generally been able to successfully fight against these types of requirements as "job-killers".

jackiebass , December 20, 2018 at 7:39 am

One economic problem with fracked gas wells is they only produce large quantities of gas for a short time. It's usually 2 to 3 years. After that production tanks. I suspect a similar thing happens with fracked oil wells. I I've in NY close to the PA boarder. For about 4 years, fracking was really booming. Now it has almost stopped. You see big lots filled with fracking equipment gathering rust. It didn't take most people long to realize that only a few made money while the rest pay the bill for all of the damage done. I'm glad in NY state they banned fracking. I own 50 acres and refused to buy into a leasing deal before fracking was banned. My biggest concern was my well water becoming contaminated as well as losing control over how my land is used. A big problem is that a company is allowed to drill under your land even if you don't have a lease agreement with them. They have to pay you but they can also pollute your well. If that happens your property becomes of no value and useless.

SimonGirty , December 20, 2018 at 12:45 pm

We'd become curious about folks moving to the NE tip of PA, as it looked like NJT might actually reopen rail service to all those $80-$140K houses, right before Williams/ Transco's Constitution Pipeline finally caused hundreds of new fracked wells? We'd guessed the only effect of the '16 election was who'd be prodding retirees into GasLand Poconos. Seems like a great location for a remake of Green Acres meets Deliverance? https://www.njherald.com/20180410/lackawanna-cutoff-project-may-finally-be-back-on-track
Looks like there's a mess of unwatchable YouTube videos. I wonder if refugees have any idea of what could happen up there?

ape , December 20, 2018 at 7:56 am

Yes, when liquidity has a much smaller time constant then actual production, the rules of liquidity will decouple from the production and actually dominate the process.

This is well-known from physics, and why many economic theories are obviously and fundamentally wrong.

As long as the economy is financialized with almost infinite velocity, nothing in the real world (including profits) will actually drive the system. This is trivially obvious.

peter , December 20, 2018 at 8:01 am

New definition of profit: less of a loss then expected.

diptherio , December 20, 2018 at 8:40 am

Let's add that to GAAP, shall we?

Olga , December 20, 2018 at 8:21 am

And yet, Far West Texas is booming – not sure what to make of it all. And – as in 'irony' – some of that boom is powered by wind.

d , December 20, 2018 at 8:44 am

This kind of thing makes me chuckle. So the CEOs and other suits at the fracking companies are scamming their investors to enrich themselves. Hard to feel bad about it (even though a fair number of the investors are probably "institutional") if it wasn't for the needless environmental destruction that goes along with these two groups of elites ripping each other off.

Phemfrog , December 20, 2018 at 10:04 am

Very broadly speaking, wouldn't this be a good real-world example of MMT? There is a natural resource we want to extract, we have the manpower and machinery to do it, so we just do it? The money to fund it is limitless bound only by the constraints of the resource itself. Wall street is just a rent-extracting intermediary

Am I off base here?

John k , December 20, 2018 at 11:42 am

Mmt cab be used to fund war or any other negative thing. Or build schools and hospitals.
One can be rational or irrational.

a different chris , December 20, 2018 at 10:06 am

It's ironic that, having lived thru the 80's when the financial "geniuses" took over and it was all about ROI – Westinghouse somehow came to the conclusion that you could make 6% on golf courses (they didn't even know, I don't think) instead of 2% on industrials (that was probably correct) so they basically sold the store. Except for the nukes, sigh.

The comments above, apes's for instance, point to the whole slosh of money. And there is some truth to that. But in this case, I'm afraid much of the answer is that people in the oil bidness make oil wells because that's what they know how to do. ROI, Scmoi O I.

Of all the industries that are gone because they weren't allowed to "do what they know" because it was "cheaper to offshore" – read a greater ROI to Wall Street – how come the worst is the only one that keeps its nose to the grindstone and does the actual work it knows how to do?

Seamus Padraig , December 21, 2018 at 6:45 am

Because you have to drill where the oil/gas is actually located. You can't do it in China, where the labor would be cheaper.

a different chris , December 21, 2018 at 10:41 am

No, what I meant was those other ones just "diversified" or whatever the word of the moment was, just did whatever made the people at the top money.

But oil/gas is different. They just "have to go get it". It's like termites and wood. I respect that, even if it's the wrong thing to do. If I must refer to The Terminator again, "it's what they do. It's ALL they do".

PS: there is oil/gas everywhere. I worked in the "bidness,"btw.

Andrew John , December 20, 2018 at 12:52 pm

So frackers can take out billions of unpayable debt and discharge it in bankruptcy, but I get to carry a millstone of student debt around my neck for the rest of my life? Great system we got here. Pretty flipping great.

Ford Prefect , December 21, 2018 at 10:14 am

You should have issued a junk bond on yourself instead of taking a student loan. You could then just default on the junk bond (after having written some derivatives to short it to profit from your financial demise).

Mike R. , December 20, 2018 at 1:40 pm

I have a different take on all this fracking.
I believe it was decided at the highest levels of our government to support it; including financially if necessary. The basis for this support and secrecy would be national security. Easy enough to see how this could have transpired.

All that said, if my theory is correct, the frackers will be bailed in some form or fashion. Probably the next QE will pick up the tab or perhaps the DOD is funding it indirectly already.

Just a theory, no pressure.

steven , December 20, 2018 at 3:50 pm

Your take parallels Pym of Nantucket's. Ever since the end of WWII, the United States has been allowed to just 'print money', first to pay for its contest with the former Soviet Union for global hegemony and then to 'pay for' its energy and the products its industries could no longer profitably produce – at least as profitably as they could by off-shoring those industries. This is all really just an extension of 'petrodollar warfare' – gigantic bluff the US can continue to go it alone if necessary – having salted the central banks of 'developing countries' with all the 'reserve currencies' they realistically need, at least if the depredations of the likes of George Soros are held in check.

In summary, fracked oil is propping up not just Big Oil but the US military industrial complex and ultimately Wall Street and its banks. As long as the US can control the world's access to energy (and possibly retard its transition to renewable sources?), US politicians and bankers can continue to 'print money' (i.e. export debt) and sustain the whole rotten edifice of US and Western 'political economy'.

As usual Michael Hudson has it right:

"Finance is the new form of warfare – without the expense of a military overhead and an occupation against unwilling hosts." It is a competition in credit creation to buy foreign resources, real estate, public and privatized infrastructure, bonds and corporate stock ownership. Who needs an army when you can obtain the usual objective (monetary wealth and asset appropriation) simply by financial means?

Why the U.S. has Launched a New Financial World War -- And How the the Rest of the World Will Fight Back

greg , December 20, 2018 at 11:38 pm

The time will come, as a result of this, that the US will have to go it alone. They are turning your money to shit. Unless our corporate masters sell out the rest of the country to foreigners, like they already have much of our nation's productive capital.We won't be alone, but like Greece, we will no longer be independent or free.

This kind of crap increasingly pervades our economy. Military. Finance. Healthcare. Like money with Gresham's Law, bad investment drives out good. Every cost is also someone's profit opportunity, so costs are magnifying and spinning out of control. More and more the welfare of society depends on 'borrowed' money.

It's like the modern day pyramids. Nicely dressed piles of rocks in the desert. Total waste and destruction of resources. It also destroyed the social capital of Ancient Egypt, and turned them into slaves of Pharoah. It was the people of Egypt who paid for the pyramids, with their labor and their liberties.

So that's what else is going on. Your freedoms are going down those wells. And up the towers of finance. The Egyptians, at least, got something to look at. They already had the barren wastelands.

Cynthia , December 20, 2018 at 1:40 pm

At least these depressed oil prices from over fracking in the US will make Saudi Arabia poorer. Possibly poorer to the point that widespread social unrest ensues there, leading to the dethroning of the House Of Saud, which, in turn, will cause the dethroning of their chief covert friend and ally Israel.

Then in order to stave off social unrest here in the US, we'll have to cut off ties with these two roguish troublemakers in the region. Much needed balance of power will then be restored to the region with Iran and Syria restored to their former glory, sparking peace and prosperity from Pakistan and Afghanistan to Egypt, Somalia and Yemen.

I don't know if the pieces on the chessboard will ever realign this way, but it's rather amusing to speculate that this realignment could possibly be triggered by the stupidity and shortsightedness of the US to over frack!

rd , December 20, 2018 at 4:22 pm

Russia as well.

Nick Stokes , December 20, 2018 at 7:11 pm

You got it backwards. KSA and Russia need lower oil prices to force US producers off the field and get their supply chains back. Your thinking like a 1970's person. Think 2010's.

rd , December 21, 2018 at 10:19 am

This is a non-climate change reason why developing electric vehicles in North America, Europe, and China would be good. It would strip away much of the demand for oil which is a major funding source for Russia and KSA.

Gene Prodersky , December 20, 2018 at 7:13 pm

Your thinking 20th century. KSA and Russia need lower prices to support their supply chain. Everything you said, think the opposite.

whiteylockmandoubled , December 21, 2018 at 12:47 am

Jesus Herbert Walker Christ. Is anyone else getting sick of this stupid series? If you keep writing the same article every year, and Wall Street keeps engaging in the same apparently irrational behavior, you might want to rethink your smug pose and ask yourself whether there might be some additional digging to do to understand what the hell is going on.

The contrast between this series and Hubert Horan's Uber work is striking. Horan not only points out the fact that Uber is unprofitable, but also clearly shows who has an interest in extending the hype, and how and why the bandwagon keeps rolling. This series is the complete opposite.

Fracking "investors" aren't getting ripped off, and they're not stupid. You've just completely missed half the point of the Master LImited Partnership structure. For the limited partners, the losses are a feature, not a bug. Until MLP shares are cashed in, they generate tax losses for the LPs. Those losses are valuable generally, but 501c3s, especially love them because they allow non-profits to offset Unrelated Business Income.

Go to Guidestar or Nonprofit Explorer and pull down the 990T of any nonprofit with a few billion dollars worth of invested assets. Line 5 (usually blank but filled in as a long attachment at the end) is almost invariably a who's who of the fracking industry, with thousands of dollars in losses from each company. In any given year, LPs only liquidate positions in a small number of the companies their holding each year, allowing them to avoid taxes with the annual losses, then cash in (at least sometimes) when the value of the company is high.

The industry's a scam, but just as much of the taxpayers as of the investors.

Yves Smith , December 21, 2018 at 3:10 am

Do you make a habit of putting your foot in your mouth and chewing? Because you did it here, by copping a 'tude while being 100% wrong.

Passive tax exempt investors have no use for losses. Zero. Zip. Nada.

An investor in a limited partnership is a passive investor. Income from a passive investment NEVER generates Unrelated Business Income. If the idiocy you presented was correct, no endowment or public pension fund could ever show a net profit from their investments in private equity and hedge funds without it being taxed as UBI. There would literally be no private equity industry as we know it because most of its money comes from tax exempt investors, namely public pension funds, endowments, foundations, private pension funds.

UBI results from activity conducted by the not for profit. The classic example is an art museum's gift shop. See IRS Publication 598 (emphasis ours):

Unrelated business income is the income from a trade or business regularly conducted by an exempt organization and not substantially related to the performance by the organization of its exempt purpose or function, except that the organization uses the profits derived from this activity.

https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p598.pdf

Limited partners are required to be passive and have nada to do with the operation of the partnership. They typically make double sure that their investment income won't be characterized as business income. As one tax expert confirmed by e-mail:

Endowments/exempts/pension funds can wind up having UBTI when they don't structure their investments through corporations. They rarely fail to do this structuring. They wouldn't put themselves in the position of deliberately incur UBTI and then go hunting for losses to offset it.

So it is possible that you heard of a not-very-competent endowment that wound up seeking tax losses, but that would be highly unusual, when you incorrectly said the opposite.

There are other tells that you don't even remotely understand the how limited partnerships work, such as your comment "In any given year, LPs only liquidate positions in a small number of the companies their holding each year, allowing them to avoid taxes with the annual losses."

Limited partnerships are pass-through entities. LPs receive their pro-rata share of income and loss annually. They do not need to sell to recognize gains or losses resulting from their participation in operations.

The mainstream journalist who first wrote about the pervasiveness of losses in fracking after oil prices started trading in the new normal of $70 a barrel and below, John Dizard of the Financial Times, explained why frackers would keep drilling at losses as long as they could get their hands on funding, so this is entirely consistent with his forecast. And Dizard's column is for wealthy individuals and he is conversant with tax issues, unlike you.

Better trolls, please.

Rajesh K , December 21, 2018 at 1:05 pm

Better than Ghost Cities in China!!!

Why? Not sure, but it's in Murica, has to be better right ;)

[Dec 29, 2018] The problem is in 2008 unlike 1933 large sections of the electorate just wanted more Republican economics to "deal" with the aftermath

Politically Obama was a "despicable coward", or worse, a marionette.
Notable quotes:
"... A 50 state strategy, or no 50 state strategy, it really doesn't matter. Democrats were going to take losses. The key is, making sure the party is unified enough to run public policy courses. ..."
"... Your points make little sense in the face of what people wanted in 2016 that Obama could have delivered without interference from the Republicans. Things like anti-trust enforcement, SEC enforcement aka jailing the banksters, not going into Syria, not supporting the war in Yemen (remember he did both of those on his own without Congress), not making the Bush tax cuts permanent, not staying silent on union issues and actually wearing those oft mentioned comfortable shoes while walking a picket line, the list of what could have been done and that people supported goes on and on. None of which required approval from Congress. ..."
"... And speaking of the ACA, we know that Obama and others did whatever they could to kill single payer and replace it with Romneycare 1.5. The language in the bill and the controversy surrounding it show that no one thought this would give them a short term political advantage. If anything, the run up to the vote finally made enough citizens realize that they didn't hate government insurance, they just hated insurance. And here were the Democrats and Obama, forcing people to buy expensive insurance. ..."
"... He had a mandate for change. He had a majorities in both houses. He had the perfect bully pulpit. He chose not to use any of it. He and others killed the support for local parties. The Democrats needed the JFA with Hillary because Obama had pretty much bankrupted the party in 2012. A commitment to all 50 states would have been huge and would have helped Hillary get on the ground where she needed to shore up support by a few thousand votes. ..."
"... Obama and the Democrats took losses from 2008 on because they promised to do what their constituents voted them in to do and then decided not to do it. ..."
"... People don't have Republican fatigue. They don't have Democrat fatigue. They simply don't see the point in voting for people who won't do what they're voted in to do. ..."
"... The citizens of this country want change. They want higher wages and lower prices. They want less war. They want less government interference. They want their kids to grow up with more opportunities than they did. ..."
Dec 29, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Health Care

"Democratic left playing a long game to get 'Medicare for All'" [Bloomberg Law]. "'We don't have the support that we need,' said Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington, who will co-chair the Progressive Caucus. She said that she'd favor modest expansions of Medicare or Medicaid eligibility as a step toward Medicare for All. 'I am a big bold thinker; I'm also a good practical strategist,' Jayapal said.

'It's why the Medicare for All Caucus was started, because we want to get information to our members so people feel comfortable talking about the attacks we know are going to come.'" • So many Democrat McClellans; so few Democrat Grants.

"Progressives set to push their agenda in Congress and on the campaign trail. The GOP can't wait." [NBC]. "While the party has moved left on health care, many Democrats seem more comfortable offering an option to buy into Medicare or a similar public plan rather than creating one single-payer plan that replaces private insurance and covers everyone. Progressives, led by Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., and her Medicare For All PAC, plan to whip up support for the maximalist version and advance legislation in 2019." • The "maximalist version" is exactly what Jayapal herself, quoted by Bloomberg, says she will not seek. Not sure whether this is Democrat cynicism, sloppy Democrat messaging, or poor reporting. Or all three!


Nick Stokes , December 27, 2018 at 3:45 pm

The problem is unlike 1933 large sections of the electorate just wanted more Republican economics to "deal" with the aftermath. That is the difference between a moderate recession(historically) and a collapse like the early 1930's had when the British Empire and the de Rothschild dynasty finally collapsed.

40% didn't want anything the Obama Administration came up with succeed. 40% wanted more than they could possible politically come up with and that left 20% to actually get something done. You see why the Democrats had to take losses.

Even if Health Care, which was controversial in the party was nixed for more "stimulus", Democrats look weak. Politically, Stimulus wasn't that popular and "fiscal deficit" whiners were going to whine and there are a lot of them.

Naked Capitalism ignores this reality instead, looking for esoteric fantasy. I would argue Democrats in 2009-10 looked for short term political gain by going with Health Care reform instead of slowly explaining the advantage of building public assets via stimulus, because the party was to split on Health Care to create a package that would satisfy enough people.

Similar the Republican party, since Reagan had done the opposite, took short term political gain in 2016, which was a mistake, due to their Clinton hatred.

Which is now backfiring and the business cycle is not in a kind spot going forward, which we knew was likely in 2016.

So not only does "Republican fatigue" hurt in 2018, your on the political defensive for the next cycle. Short-termism in politics is death.

A 50 state strategy, or no 50 state strategy, it really doesn't matter. Democrats were going to take losses. The key is, making sure the party is unified enough to run public policy courses.

Chris , December 27, 2018 at 7:13 pm

Mr. Stokes (or David Brock I presume?),

I truly don't understand your point of view. I also don't understand your claim that NC deals in fantasy.

Your points make little sense in the face of what people wanted in 2016 that Obama could have delivered without interference from the Republicans. Things like anti-trust enforcement, SEC enforcement aka jailing the banksters, not going into Syria, not supporting the war in Yemen (remember he did both of those on his own without Congress), not making the Bush tax cuts permanent, not staying silent on union issues and actually wearing those oft mentioned comfortable shoes while walking a picket line, the list of what could have been done and that people supported goes on and on. None of which required approval from Congress.

There's even the bland procedural tactic of delaying the release of the Obamacare exchange premium price increases until after the election in 2016. He could have delayed that notice several months and saved Hillary a world of hurt at the polls. But he chose not to use the administrative tools at his disposal in that case. He also could have seen the writing on the wall with the multiple shut down threats and gotten ahead of it by asking Congress that if you are deemed an essential employee you will continue to be paid regardless of whether your department is funded during a shutdown. With 80% of Americans living paycheck to paycheck that would have been a huge deal.

And speaking of the ACA, we know that Obama and others did whatever they could to kill single payer and replace it with Romneycare 1.5. The language in the bill and the controversy surrounding it show that no one thought this would give them a short term political advantage. If anything, the run up to the vote finally made enough citizens realize that they didn't hate government insurance, they just hated insurance. And here were the Democrats and Obama, forcing people to buy expensive insurance.

Obama took a huge organization that could have helped him barnstorm the country (OFA) just like what Bernie is doing now and killed it early in his first term. He had a mandate for change. He had a majorities in both houses. He had the perfect bully pulpit. He chose not to use any of it. He and others killed the support for local parties. The Democrats needed the JFA with Hillary because Obama had pretty much bankrupted the party in 2012. A commitment to all 50 states would have been huge and would have helped Hillary get on the ground where she needed to shore up support by a few thousand votes.

Obama and the Democrats took losses from 2008 on because they promised to do what their constituents voted them in to do and then decided not to do it. By the time 2016 rolled around, there were estimates which placed 90% of the counties in the US as not having recovered from the disaster in 2007. Hillary ran on radical incrementalism aka the status quo. Who in their right mind could have supported the status quo in 2016?

The Democrats lost seats at all levels of government because of their own incompetence, because of their cowardice, because of their lazy assumptions that people had nowhere else to go. So when record numbers of people didn't vote they lost by slim margins in states long considered True Blue. There is nothing cyclical about any of that.

People don't have Republican fatigue. They don't have Democrat fatigue. They simply don't see the point in voting for people who won't do what they're voted in to do.

The citizens of this country want change. They want higher wages and lower prices. They want less war. They want less government interference. They want their kids to grow up with more opportunities than they did.

Obama and Hillary and all the rest of the Democrats stalking MSM cameras could have delivered on some of that but chose not to. And here we are. With President Trump. And even his broken clock gets something right twice a day, whereas Team Blue has a 50/50 chance of making the right decision and chooses wrong everytime.

Please provide better examples of your points if you truly want to defend your argument.

Carey , December 27, 2018 at 8:45 pm

What an outstandingly comprehensive recent history of
Our dismal-by-design Democrats.

My hat is off to you, Sir.

Expat2uruguay , December 28, 2018 at 7:44 am

And, that often mentioned reason for voting for Democrats, the Supreme Court. Neither Obama nor the Democrats fought for their opportunity to put their person on the Supreme Court. Because of norms I guess. Which actually makes some sense because it broke norms. Because they simply don't care

WJ , December 28, 2018 at 11:37 am

+100000

Chris , December 27, 2018 at 7:21 pm

I truly don't understand why you think any of that. Most mystifying is your claim that anyone thought ACA would provide short term political benefit?

You know how Obamacare could have given Hillary a short term political gain? If Obama had directed HHS to delay releasing any premium increase notices until after the election.

Otherwise, you'd have to support your argument a lot better. NC has the least fantastical commentary base of any website I've seen.

Yves Smith , December 27, 2018 at 8:09 pm

This is complete and utter nonsense. Your calling depicting NC as "fantasy" is a textbook example of projection on your part.

The country was terrified and demoralized when Obama took office. Go read the press in December 2008 and January 2009, since your memory is poor. He not only had window of opportunity to do an updated 100 days, the country would have welcomed. But he ignored it and the moment passed.

Obama pushed heath care because that was what he had campaigned on and had a personal interest in it. He had no interest in banking and finance and was happy to let Geither run that show.

As for stimulus, bullshit. Trump increased deficit spending with his tax cuts and no one cares much if at all. The concern re deficit spending was due to the fact that the Obama economic team was the Clinton (as in Bob Rubin) economics team, which fetishized balanced budgets or even worse, surpluses. We have explained long form that that stance was directly responsible for the rapid increase in unproductive household debt, most of all mortgage debt, which produced the crisis.

We discussed it long form in 2010:

https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2010/03/the-empire-continues-to-strike-back-team-obama-propaganda-campaign-reaches-fever-pitch.html

Better trolls, please.

[Dec 29, 2018] Two More Spiegel Employees Out After Fake News Scandal Expands -

Is not "Greed is good" a neoliberal slogan
Dec 29, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Relotius, meanwhile, has "gone underground," according to the Guardian, returning several awards for his work while being stripped of others, such as CNN's two Journalist of the Year awards. A German publication also stripped the journalist of a similar accolade.

At least 14 articles by Relotius for Der Spiegel were falsified , according to Steffen Klusmann, its editor-in-chief. They include an award-winning piece about a Syrian boy called Mouwiya who believed his anti-government graffiti had triggered the civil war. Relotius alleged he had interviewed the boy via WhatsApp .

The magazine – a prestigious weekly – is investigating if the interview took place and whether the boy exists. Relotius won his fourth German reporter prize this month with a story headlined "Child's Play".

Klusmann admitted the publication still had no idea how many articles were affected. On Thursday it was revealed that parts of an interview with a 95-year-old Nazi resistance fighter in the US were fabricated. - The Guardian

According to Relotius' Der Spiegel colleague Juan Moreno - who busted Relotius after conducting his own research after his bosses failed to listen to his doubts , released a video in which he attempted to describe how Relotius got away with his fabrications.

"He was the superstar of German journalism if one's honest, and if his stories had been true, that would have been fully justified to say so, but they were not," said Moreno. "At the start it was the small mistakes, things that seemed too hard to believe that made me suspicious."

In addition to having several awards stripped from him, the 33-year-old Relotius now faces embezzlement charges for allegedly soliciting donations for Syrian orphans from readers "with any proceeds going to his personal account," according to the BBC . On Thursday, Relotius denied the accusations.

[Dec 29, 2018] Neoliberalism as Structure and Ideology -

Dec 29, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

5 COMMENTS


Peter Dorman , December 29, 2018 at 2:12 am

Here's a comment I wrote, lifted from the thread at the original post. It's in response to a previous comment that references the postwar reconstruction era.

"I have thought the WWII period is enormously undervalued as a moment of social thought and system-building. The global capitalist class suffered a tremendous loss of power during the 1930s everywhere, even where it was "saved", but there was no immediate plan for how to restructure on the basis of the new dispensation. I think a lot of that planning took place as the war was waged during the early-mid 40s, so that a system could congeal the elements of experimentation already on the books. This took different forms in different countries, but it was progressive overall in a way that would have been impossible a generation earlier -- and was to become impossible two generations later when the class configuration had shifted once more.

"The argument beneath the argument in this post is that the cultural shifts we've gone through, like the rise of neoliberal ideology (or family of ideologies) is incomprehensible without recognition that the power and organizational dynamics of the global system evolved to be incompatible with the previous social democratic regime. I'm fairly sure of that. What I'm less sure of is exactly how that evolution took place and what its main constituents are. Exploring that, it seems to me, is what political economy should be about.

"What I'm not happy with is a political environment in which ideas are regarded as prime movers in and of themselves, where "capitalism" becomes a particular bundle of values and predilections and neoliberalism just a more extreme version of the same. It puts the terrain of politics in struggles over consciousness (and therefore the microregulation of individual thought and behavior) rather than over the power to change the rules we live by. Not that consciousness doesn't matter, of course, but if the most powerful determinant of it is how we live and what constraints we have to adapt to, evangelizing people is not the best way to alter that either."

bruce wilder , December 29, 2018 at 3:32 am

I certainly do not think it was one thing, but if there was one thing above all that mattered, it was the decision of the rich to pay executives, especially ceo's, a whole lot more, and to pay for the ideological rationalization of that policy as a theory of economics and finance. Reducing marginal income tax rates made it practical.

The professional manager, the balancer of many stakeholders, had been at odds with the capitalist, to the end of the 1960's. Soaring CEO compensation, tied to financialization, set in motion the change that changed everything.

JLCG , December 29, 2018 at 5:03 am

There is no need to talk about capitalism or neoliberalism it is Wealth that matters, wealth as a being with its own trajectory around which names of nations and oligarchs are appended as accidents. Wealth is a mysterious being, it has the will to remain to continue existing and changes agents for its survival continuously. The poor and the rich are the material visible aspect of that invisible being that is Wealth. But being invisible does not mean it does not exist. Wealth manipulates all of us in order to exist and the very rich are as much contingent accidents in the life of Wealth as the very poor. All are necessary for its existence.

Carla , December 29, 2018 at 6:49 am

Thanks to Yves for her comments prefacing this post. Nancy MacLean's "Democracy in Chains" covers much of the territory to which Yves refers.

oaf , December 29, 2018 at 7:03 am

perhaps not so much a revolution, as a contagion .

[Dec 29, 2018] How neoliberalism manufactured consent to secure its unlimited power

Dec 29, 2018 | failedevolution.blogspot.com

From David Harvey's A Brief History of Neoliberalism
Part 11 – The Reagan/Thatcher neoliberal legacy: a bizarre form of a sinister political doctrine from which it would be difficult one to escape
But Thatcher had to fight the battle on other fronts. A noble rearguard action against neoliberal policies was mounted in many a municipality –– Sheffield, the Greater London Council (which Thatcher had to abolish in order to achieve her broader goals in the 1980s), and Liverpool (where half the local councillors had to be gaoled) formed active centres of resistance in which the ideals of a new municipal socialism (incorporating many of the new social movements in the London case) were both pursued and acted upon until they were finally crushed in the mid-1980s.
She began by savagely cutting back central government funding to the municipalities, but several of them responded simply by raising property taxes, forcing her to legislate against their right to do so. Denigrating the progressive labour councils as 'loony lefties' (a phrase the Conservative-dominated press picked up with relish), she then sought to impose neoliberal principles through a reform of municipal finance. She proposed a 'poll tax' –– a regressive head tax rather than a property tax –– which would rein in municipal expenditures by making every resident pay. This provoked a huge political fight that played a role in Thatcher's political demise .
Thatcher also set out to privatize all those sectors of the economy that were in public ownership. The sales would boost the public treasury and rid the government of burdensome future obligations towards losing enterprises. These state-run enterprises had to be adequately prepared for privatization, and this meant paring down their debt and improving their efficiency and cost structures, often through shedding labour.
Their valuation was also structured to offer considerable incentives to private capital –– a process that was likened by opponents to 'giving away the family silver'. In several cases subsidies were hidden in the mode of valuation –– water companies, railways, and even state-run enterprises in the automobile and steel industries held high-value land in prime locations that was excluded from the valuation of the enterprise as an ongoing concern.
Privatization and speculative gains on the property released went hand in hand. But the aim here was also to change the political culture by extending the field of personal and corporate responsibility and encouraging greater efficiency, individual/corporate initiative, and innovation. British Aerospace, British Telecom, British Airways, steel, electricity and gas, oil, coal, water, bus services, railways, and a host of smaller state enterprises were sold off in a massive wave of privatizations.
Britain pioneered the way in showing how to do this in a reasonably orderly and, for capital, profitable way. Thatcher was convinced that once these changes had been made they would become irreversible: hence the haste. The legitimacy of this whole movement was successfully underpinned, however, by the extensive selling off of public housing to tenants. This vastly increased the number of homeowners within a decade. It satisfied traditional ideals of individual property ownership as a working-class dream and introduced a new, and often speculative, dynamism into the housing market that was much appreciated by the middle classes, who saw their asset values rise –– at least until the property crash of the early 1990s .
Dismantling the welfare state was, however, quite another thing. Taking on areas such as education, health care, social services, the universities, the state bureaucracy, and the judiciary proved difficult. Here she had to do battle with the entrenched and sometimes traditional upper-middle-class attitudes of her core supporters .
Thatcher desperately sought to extend the ideal of personal responsibility (for example through the privatization of health care) across the board and cut back on state obligations. She failed to make rapid headway. There were, in the view of the British public, limits to the neoliberalization of everything. Not until 2003, for example, did a Labour government, against widespread opposition, succeed in introducing a fee-paying structure into British higher education .
In all these areas it proved difficult to forge an alliance of consent for radical change. On this her Cabinet (and her supporters) were notoriously divided (between 'wets' and 'drys') and it took several years of bruising confrontations within her own party and in the media to win modest neoliberal reforms. The best she could do was to try to force a culture of entrepreneurialism and impose strict rules of surveillance, financial accountability, and productivity on to institutions, such as universities, that were ill suited to them.
Thatcher forged consent through the cultivation of a middle class that relished the joys of home ownership, private property, individualism, and the liberation of entrepreneurial opportunities. With working-class solidarities waning under pressure and job structures radically changing through deindustrialization, middle-class values spread more widely to encompass many of those who had once had a firm working-class identity .
The opening of Britain to freer trade allowed a consumer culture to flourish, and the proliferation of financial institutions brought more and more of a debt culture into the centre of a formerly staid British life. Neoliberalism entailed the transformation of the older British class structure, at both ends of the spectrum.
Moreover, by keeping the City of London as a central player in global finance it increasingly turned the heartland of Britain's economy, London and the south-east, into a dynamic centre of ever-increasing wealth and power. Class power had not so much been restored to any traditional sector but rather had gathered expansively around one of the key global centres of financial operations. Recruits from Oxbridge flooded into London as bond and currency traders, rapidly amassing wealth and power and turning London into one of the most expensive cities in the world.
While the Thatcher revolution was prepared by the organization of consent within the traditional middle classes who bore her to three electoral victories, the whole programme, particularly in her first administration, was far more ideologically driven (thanks largely to Keith Joseph) by neoliberal theory than was ever the case in the US. While from a solid middle-class background herself, she plainly relished the traditionally close contacts between the prime minister's office and the 'captains' of industry and finance. She frequently turned to them for advice and in some instances clearly delivered them favours by undervaluing state assets set for privatization . The project to restore class power –– as opposed to dismantling working-class power –– probably played a more subconscious role in her political evolution.
The success of Reagan and Thatcher can be measured in various ways. But I think it most useful to stress the way in which they took what had hitherto been minority political, ideological, and intellectual positions and made them mainstream. The alliance of forces they helped consolidate and the majorities they led became a legacy that a subsequent generation of political leaders found hard to dislodge.
Perhaps the greatest testimony to their success lies in the fact that both Clinton and Blair found themselves in a situation where their room for manoeuvre was so limited that they could not help but sustain the process of restoration of class power even against their own better instincts. And once neoliberalism became that deeply entrenched in the English-speaking world it was hard to gainsay its considerable relevance to how capitalism in general was working internationally.
This is not to say, as we shall see, that neoliberalism was merely imposed elsewhere by Anglo-American influence and power. For as these two case studies amply demonstrate, the internal circumstances and subsequent nature of the neoliberal turn were quite different in Britain and the US, and by extension we should expect that internal forces as well as external influences and impositions have played a distinctive role elsewhere.
Reagan and Thatcher seized on the clues they had (from Chile and New York City) and placed themselves at the head of a class movement that was determined to restore its power. Their genius was to create a legacy and a tradition that tangled subsequent politicians in a web of constraints from which they could not easily escape . Those who followed, like Clinton and Blair, could do little more than continue the good work of neoliberalization, whether they liked it or not.

[Dec 29, 2018] U.S. retirees try to keep cool as stocks tumble by Tim McLaughlin

Overinvestment in stocks of retires is very common under neoliberalism.
There are several factors here: one is greed cultivated by neoliberal MSM, the second is insufficient retirement funds (gambling with retirement savings) and the last and not least is lack of mathematical skills an inability to use Excel for viewing their portfolio and making informed decisions.
Notable quotes:
"... At the end of 2016, 69 percent of investors in their 60s had at least 40 percent of their 401(k) portfolio invested in stocks, up from 65 percent in 2007, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute in Washington. ..."
"... 19 percent had more than 80 percent of their 401(k) invested in stocks in 2016 ..."
"... "We had lousy forecasts in 2008. The housing market was in a tailspin," said 76-year-old John Bauer, who worked for McDonnell Douglas and Boeing Co for 36 years in St. Louis. "Today, employment is way up. The housing market is steady and corporations are flush." ..."
Dec 29, 2018 | finance.yahoo.com

BOSTON (Reuters) - Nancy Farrington, a retiree who turns 75 next month, admits to being in a constant state of anxiety over the biggest December stock market rout since Herbert Hoover was president.

"I have not looked at my numbers. I'm afraid to do it," said Farrington, who recently moved to Charleston, South Carolina, from Boston. "We've been conditioned to stand pat and not panic. I sure hope my advisers are doing the same."

Retirees are worrying about their nest eggs as this month's sell-off rounds out the worst year for stocks in a decade, and some fear they are headed for a day of reckoning like the 2008 market meltdown or dot-com crash of the early 2000s.

Retirees have less time to recover from bad investment moves than younger workers. If they or their advisers panic and sell during a brief downturn, they may lock in a more meager retirement. But their portfolio could be even more at risk if they hold on too long in a prolonged decline.

"I have no way of riding it out if that happens," said Farrington. "I can feel the anxiety in my stomach all the time."

While many industrialized countries still have generous safety nets for retirees, pensions for U.S. private-sector workers largely have been supplanted by 401(k) accounts and other private saving plans. That means millions of older Americans are effectively their own pension managers.

Workers in countries like Belgium, Canada, Germany, France and Italy receive, on average, about 65 percent of their income replaced by mandatory pensions. In the Netherlands the ratio of benefits to lifetime average earnings is abut 97 percent, according to a 2017 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development report.

The OECD says the comparable U.S. replacement rate from Social Security benefits is about 50 percent.

U.S. retirees had watched their private accounts mushroom during a bull stock market that began in early 2009. Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve kept interest rates near zero for years, enticing retirees deeper into stocks than previous generations as investments like certificates of deposit, government bonds and money-market funds generated paltry income.

At the end of 2016, 69 percent of investors in their 60s had at least 40 percent of their 401(k) portfolio invested in stocks, up from 65 percent in 2007, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute in Washington.

Still, fewer have gone all in on stocks in recent years. Just 19 percent had more than 80 percent of their 401(k) invested in stocks in 2016, down from 30 percent at year-end 2007, according to nonprofit research group EBRI.

"Nothing has gone wrong, but it seems the market is trying to figure out what could go wrong," said Brooke McMurray, a 69-year-old New York retiree who says she became a financial news junkie after the 2007-2009 financial crisis.

"Unlike before, I now know what I own and I constantly read up on my companies," she said.

The three major U.S. stock indexes have tumbled about 10 percent this month, weighed by investor worries including U.S.-China trade tensions, a cooling economy and rising interest rates, and are on track for their worst December since 1931.

The S&P 500 is headed for its worst annual performance since 2008, when Wall Street buckled during the subprime mortgage crisis. But some are not quite ready to draw comparisons.

"We had lousy forecasts in 2008. The housing market was in a tailspin," said 76-year-old John Bauer, who worked for McDonnell Douglas and Boeing Co for 36 years in St. Louis. "Today, employment is way up. The housing market is steady and corporations are flush."

Still, Bauer said he is uneasy about White House leadership. He and several other retirees referenced U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin's recent calls to top bankers, which did more to rattle than assure markets. U.S. stocks tumbled more than 2 percent the day before the Christmas holiday.

Nevertheless, Bauer is prepared to ride out any market turmoil without making dramatic moves to his retirement portfolio. "When it's up, I watch it. When it's down, I don't," he said. And there are some factors helping take the sting out of the market rout, said Larry Glazer, managing partner of Boston-based Mayflower Advisors LLC.

[Dec 29, 2018] Awan Plot Thickens As NY Democrat Yvette Clarke -Quietly- Wrote-Off $120,000 Of Missing Tech Equipment

Aug 21, 2017 | www.zerohedge.com

When we reported last week that Imran Awan and his wife had been indicted by a grand jury on 4 counts, including bank fraud and making false statements related to some home equity loans, we also noted that those charges could simply be placeholders for further developments yet to come. Now, according to a new report from the Daily Caller , the more interesting component of the FBI's investigation could be tied to precisely why New York Democrat Representative Yvette Clarke quietly agreed in early 2016 to simply write-off $120,000 in missing electronics tied to the Awans.

A chief of staff for Democratic Rep. Yvette Clarke quietly agreed in early 2016 to sign away a $120,000 missing electronics problem on behalf of two former IT aides now suspected of stealing equipment from Congress, The Daily Caller News Foundation has learned. Clarke's chief of staff at the time effectively dismissed the loss and prevented it from coming up in future audits by signing a form removing the missing equipment from a House-wide tracking system after one of the Awan brothers alerted the office the equipment was gone. The Pakistani-born brothers are now at the center of an FBI investigation over their IT work with dozens of Congressional offices.

The $120,000 figure amounts to about a tenth of the office's annual budget, or enough to hire four legislative assistants to handle the concerns of constituents in her New York district. Yet when one of the brothers alerted the office to the massive loss, the chief of staff signed a form that quietly reconciled the missing equipment in the office budget, the official told TheDCNF. Abid Awan remained employed by the office for months after the loss of the equipment was flagged.

If true, of course this new information would seem to support previously reported rumors that the Awans orchestrated a long-running fraud scheme in which their office would purchase equipment in a way that avoided tracking by central House-wide administrators and then sell that equipment for a personal gain while simultaneously defrauding taxpayers of $1,000's of dollars.

Meanwhile, according to the Daily Caller, CDW Government could have been in on the scheme.

They're suspected of working with an employee of CDW Government Inc. -- one of the Hill's largest technology providers -- to alter invoices in order to avoid tracking. The result would be that no one outside the office would notice if the equipment disappeared, and investigators think the goal of the scheme was to remove and sell the equipment outside of Congress.

CDW spokeswoman Kelly Caraher told TheDCNF the company is cooperating with investigators, and has assurance from prosecutors its employees are not targets of the investigation. "CDW and its employees have cooperated fully with investigators and will continue to do so," Caraher said. "The prosecutors directing this investigation have informed CDW and its coworkers that they are not subjects or targets of the investigation."

Not surprisingly, Clarke's office apparently felt no need whatsoever to report the $120,000 worth of missing IT equipment to the authorities... it's just taxpayer money afterall...

According to the official who talked to TheDCNF, Clarke's chief of staff did not alert authorities to the huge sum of missing money when it was brought to the attention of the office around February of 2016. A request to sign away that much lost equipment would have been "way outside any realm of normalcy," the official said, but the office did not bring it to the attention of authorities until months later when House administrators told the office they were reviewing finances connected to the Awans.

The administrators informed the office that September they were independently looking into discrepancies surrounding the Awans, including a review of finances connected to the brothers in all the congressional offices that employed them. The House administrators asked Clarke's then-chief of staff, Wendy Anderson, whether she had noticed any anomalies, and at that time she alerted them to the $120,000 write-off, the official told TheDCNF.

Of course, the missing $120,000 covers only Clarke's office. As we've noted before, Imran and his relatives worked for more than 40 current House members when they were banned from the House network in February, and have together worked for dozens more in past years so who know just how deep this particular rabbit hole goes.

Also makes you wonder what else Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and the Awans might be hiding. Certainly the decision by Wasserman-Shultz to keep Awan on her taxpayer funded payroll, right up until he was arrested by the FBI while trying to flee the country, is looking increasingly fishy with each passing day.


highwaytoserfdom , 1 year ago

Trivial write off http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/files/clubbingcomplaint.pdf

The 911 protection swamp is deep, and profiteers and drug, human traffic, NGO, Body part, war mongers runs deep.

Please stop calling it building 7 It was the Solomon building.. While you are at it look at the 1991 Solomon bond scandal which gave the Citi Clinton Mafia all power.... Oh yea Bush/Clinton cabal did get Saudis to buy Citi stocks and GE plastics. Swampy enough?

120k write off ! You are kidding me?

south40_dreams , 1 year ago

Blackmail was where the real money was at

pissantra , 1 year ago

The real problem here is being completely ignored -- and that is this: the Awan bros were likely spies (with Wasserman either forced to allow them to spy or the spymaster selling intel to Pakistan). This would mean that 21+ congress-critters have been completely compromised. THIS is important NOW, after Trumps Afghan speech -- if he plans to lean on Pakistan with an "either you stop helping the Taliban or we will destroy you (economically and/or physically) along with them...."--- these compromised congress-critters will defund Trumps war.

Freddie , 3 weeks ago

No. Pakistan is the smokescreen. Wasserscum, like Scott Israel, are dual shitizens. This is, as is Broward County, a MO$$$$ad op. Broward County for vote theft, fraud, attorney killings, false flags, etc. I would guess a lot more in Congress are owned.

Just watched Congress during Bibi and even ko$$her Porschenko addressing Congrez-zio. They jump up like circus trained animals to give standing ovations for every word.

Awans and Wasserscum will get passes. George Webb on youtube appears to be doing good work but it is probably another smoke screen because George has said he is a zioni$$t.

Ban KKiller , 1 year ago

Gee Michelle....you used the Pakistanis for your IT work? What, you like filthy muslims? Guess so.... When will you confess that you have NO IDEA where your confidential information is? Michelle Lynn Lujan Grisham is an American lawyer and politician who is the U.S. Representative for New Mexico's 1st congressional district, serving since 2013.

mtanimal , 1 year ago

I didn't know espionage and extortion were tax deductible. Who's her accountant?

Cardinal Fang , 1 year ago

I regret that we may never know the extent of the duplicity of our government with this ISI stooge.

pc_babe , 1 year ago

with Jeff Session at the helm, you can rest assured you never will

Loanman26 , 1 year ago

My spidy senses are flaring. It was the Russians who stole the equipment. It was comrade Sergei Awan

Blazing in BC , 1 year ago

To whoever is "in charge"....THE STENCH IS UNBEARABLE

runnymede , 1 year ago

Institutionalized unaccountability is what makes the systemic corruption function. As long as Wasserman's brother is in charge of D.C. prosecutions, nothing will happen. He is the gatekeeper, which is why DWS, the DNC and the Clinton Crime Machine have not only acted with impunity, but with extreme contempt. They know they are untouchable. Honest prosecution would expose D.C. itself as the professional criminal operation that it is, including most Repubs. There will never be allowed a real look into the rabbit hole, George Webb's outstanding efforts notwithstanding.

One of We , 1 year ago

President Not Hillary needs to lock some bitches up and expose the Clinton Crime Family Foundation. Definitely lowering the bar from my lofty hopes but I'd be happy with a partial roto rootering of the swamp if that's all he has to show for his term.

SRV , 1 year ago

The Awans were working for DWS and The Crook... this fruad is the tip of the iceberg...

How about doping Blackberry's for 80 House Dems to sync with servers around the Capital (remember DWS threatening the Capital Police Chief with "consequences" if he didn't give her back her laptop found in a Capitol Hill building. The Awans were selling the access to most of the secrets in congress since 2004... this was a spy ring (he has serious ties to Pakistani ISI).

JiminyCrickets , 1 year ago

As long as Debbie Wasserman Schultz's Brother Steven Wasserman is running the Seth Rich murder investigation this wont go any where.

gregga777 , 1 year ago

Unfortunately, the Anglo-Zionist FAKE NEWS Media won't cover this story, especially the links to Debbie Wasserman Schultz. It's anti-Semitic to discuss her criminality or to criticize her in any other way.

JiminyCrickets , 1 year ago

George Webb's detailed 300+ day investigation indicates the Awans were shipping stolen high end cars to foreign diplomats and depleted uranium weapons using DNC Diplomatic Containers.

https://www.youtube.com/user/georgwebb

hooligan2009 , 1 year ago

no surprise that demonRat politicians throughout all legislatures have been guilty of defrauding the tax payer for decades - in much the same way that demonRat politicians directly legislate for welfare benefits, free insurance and tax cuts for their family and friends - at the expense of tax payers - and who also extract tax payer funds via the gravy train of internships, federal grants etc for their family and friends.

this is how libtard demonRat politicians infect the swamp and then infest it with their filth and cronyism.

aided and abetted by the MSM.

if only iy was just the demonRats, there might be a chance - however, corrupt republicRats have been just as guilty.

one day, all this will be out in the open and perhaps demonRat and republicRat voters will see how they have been voting for corruption all these years.

are we there yet , 1 year ago

Because you are one of the little people.

NoPension , 1 year ago

We are below " little people". We are irrelevant. Just keep paying, slave. Someone correct me if I'm wrong..... This country was founded on the principle that the individual had sovereign rights, imbued from God...and was the vessel of ultimate power. Today...these illegally elected ( it's almost ALL proven a fraud) cocksuckers go in broke and come out the other end multimillionaires with legal immunity from anything, up to and including murder. It's high time to water the ******* tree.

[Dec 28, 2018] Simple equation about the value of anonymous evidence based of digital traces

"Digital realities are malleable; just a probabilistic vapor of electrons at the whimsy of shadowy hands"
Notable quotes:
"... 4 unnamed sources = 0 believable sources ..."
Dec 28, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

MrBoompi , 35 seconds ago

4 unnamed sources = 0 believable sources

CosineCosineCosine , 14 minutes ago

I call complete and total BULL ****

EDIT

SHOW US THE METADATA, YOU LIAR'S BLUFF PIECES OF HUMAN EXCREMENT !###@@@@!!@#@!

I fini. Feel a little bit better now

[Dec 28, 2018] Angela Merkel- Nation States Must -Give Up Sovereignty- To New World Order -

Dec 28, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Submitted by Tapainfo.com

" Nation states must today be prepared to give up their sovereignty ", according to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who told an audience in Berlin that sovereign nation states must not listen to the will of their citizens when it comes to questions of immigration, borders, or even sovereignty.

No this wasn't something Adolf Hitler said many decades ago, this is what German Chancellor Angela Merkel told attendants at an event by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation in Berlin. Merkel has announced she won't seek re-election in 2021 and it is clear she is attempting to push the globalist agenda to its disturbing conclusion before she stands down.

" In an orderly fashion of course, " Merkel joked, attempting to lighten the mood. But Merkel has always had a tin ear for comedy and she soon launched into a dark speech condemning those in her own party who think Germany should have listened to the will of its citizens and refused to sign the controversial UN migration pact:

" There were [politicians] who believed that they could decide when these agreements are no longer valid because they are representing The People ".

" [But] the people are individuals who are living in a country, they are not a group who define themselves as the [German] people ," she stressed.

Merkel has previously accused critics of the UN Global Compact for Safe and Orderly Migration of not being patriotic, saying " That is not patriotism, because patriotism is when you include others in German interests and accept win-win situations ".

Her words echo recent comments by the deeply unpopular French President Emmanuel Macron who stated in a Remembrance Day speech that " patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism [because] nationalism is treason ."

The French president's words were deeply unpopular with the French population and his approval rating nosedived even further after the comments.

Macron, whose lack of leadership is proving unable to deal with growing protests in France, told the Bundestag that France and Germany should be at the center of the emerging New World Order.

" The Franco-German couple [has]the obligation not to let the world slip into chaos and to guide it on the road to peace" .

" Europe must be stronger and win more sovereignty ," he went on to demand, just like Merkel, that EU member states surrender national sovereignty to Brussels over " foreign affairs, migration, and development " as well as giving " an increasing part of our budgets and even fiscal resources".

[Dec 28, 2018] Western propaganda turn: from sucking to alcoholic Yeltsin to the rabit hate of sober Putin in just 20 years

Looks like Western attempts to weaken Russia will never stop.
Dec 28, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

localsavage, 18 minutes ago

Notice that there is no time given. The story would then fall apart in minutes.

Pussy Biscuit , 20 minutes ago

This Russia **** is a never ending nightmare.

I remember when the libtards were constantly sucking Russia's **** in the early 1990s.

[Dec 27, 2018] The Yoda of Silicon Valley by Siobhan Roberts

Highly recommended!
Although he is certainly a giant, Knuth will never be able to complete this monograph - the technology developed too quickly. Three volumes came out in 1963-1968 and then there was a lull. January 10, he will be 81. At this age it is difficult to work in the field of mathematics and system programming. So we will probably never see the complete fourth volume.
This inability to finish the work he devoted a large part of hi life is definitely a tragedy. The key problem here is that now it is simply impossible to cover the whole area of ​​system programming and related algorithms for one person. But the first three volumes played tremendous positive role for sure.
Also he was distracted for several years to create TeX. He needed to create a non-profit and complete this work by attracting the best minds from the outside. But he is by nature a loner, as many great scientists are, and prefer to work this way.
His other mistake is due to the fact that MIX - his emulator was too far from the IBM S/360, which became the standard de-facto in mid-60th. He then realized that this was a blunder and replaced MIX with more modem emulator MIXX, but it was "too little, too late" and it took time and effort. So the first three volumes and fragments of the fourth is all that we have now and probably forever.
Not all volumes fared equally well with time. The third volume suffered most IMHO and as of 2019 is partially obsolete. Also it was written by him in some haste and some parts of it are are far from clearly written ( it was based on earlier lectures of Floyd, so it was oriented of single CPU computers only. Now when multiprocessor machines, huge amount of RAM and SSD hard drives are the norm, the situation is very different from late 60th. It requires different sorting algorithms (the importance of mergesort increased, importance of quicksort decreased). He also got too carried away with sorting random numbers and establishing upper bound and average run time. The real data is almost never random and typically contain sorted fragments. For example, he overestimated the importance of quicksort and thus pushed the discipline in the wrong direction.
Notable quotes:
"... These days, it is 'coding', which is more like 'code-spraying'. Throw code at a problem until it kind of works, then fix the bugs in the post-release, or the next update. ..."
"... AI is a joke. None of the current 'AI' actually is. It is just another new buzz-word to throw around to people that do not understand it at all. ..."
"... One good teacher makes all the difference in life. More than one is a rare blessing. ..."
Dec 17, 2018 | www.nytimes.com

With more than one million copies in print, "The Art of Computer Programming " is the Bible of its field. "Like an actual bible, it is long and comprehensive; no other book is as comprehensive," said Peter Norvig, a director of research at Google. After 652 pages, volume one closes with a blurb on the back cover from Bill Gates: "You should definitely send me a résumé if you can read the whole thing."

The volume opens with an excerpt from " McCall's Cookbook ":

Here is your book, the one your thousands of letters have asked us to publish. It has taken us years to do, checking and rechecking countless recipes to bring you only the best, only the interesting, only the perfect.

Inside are algorithms, the recipes that feed the digital age -- although, as Dr. Knuth likes to point out, algorithms can also be found on Babylonian tablets from 3,800 years ago. He is an esteemed algorithmist; his name is attached to some of the field's most important specimens, such as the Knuth-Morris-Pratt string-searching algorithm. Devised in 1970, it finds all occurrences of a given word or pattern of letters in a text -- for instance, when you hit Command+F to search for a keyword in a document.

... ... ...

During summer vacations, Dr. Knuth made more money than professors earned in a year by writing compilers. A compiler is like a translator, converting a high-level programming language (resembling algebra) to a lower-level one (sometimes arcane binary) and, ideally, improving it in the process. In computer science, "optimization" is truly an art, and this is articulated in another Knuthian proverb: "Premature optimization is the root of all evil."

Eventually Dr. Knuth became a compiler himself, inadvertently founding a new field that he came to call the "analysis of algorithms." A publisher hired him to write a book about compilers, but it evolved into a book collecting everything he knew about how to write for computers -- a book about algorithms.

... ... ...

When Dr. Knuth started out, he intended to write a single work. Soon after, computer science underwent its Big Bang, so he reimagined and recast the project in seven volumes. Now he metes out sub-volumes, called fascicles. The next installation, "Volume 4, Fascicle 5," covering, among other things, "backtracking" and "dancing links," was meant to be published in time for Christmas. It is delayed until next April because he keeps finding more and more irresistible problems that he wants to present.

In order to optimize his chances of getting to the end, Dr. Knuth has long guarded his time. He retired at 55, restricted his public engagements and quit email (officially, at least). Andrei Broder recalled that time management was his professor's defining characteristic even in the early 1980s.

Dr. Knuth typically held student appointments on Friday mornings, until he started spending his nights in the lab of John McCarthy, a founder of artificial intelligence, to get access to the computers when they were free. Horrified by what his beloved book looked like on the page with the advent of digital publishing, Dr. Knuth had gone on a mission to create the TeX computer typesetting system, which remains the gold standard for all forms of scientific communication and publication. Some consider it Dr. Knuth's greatest contribution to the world, and the greatest contribution to typography since Gutenberg.

This decade-long detour took place back in the age when computers were shared among users and ran faster at night while most humans slept. So Dr. Knuth switched day into night, shifted his schedule by 12 hours and mapped his student appointments to Fridays from 8 p.m. to midnight. Dr. Broder recalled, "When I told my girlfriend that we can't do anything Friday night because Friday night at 10 I have to meet with my adviser, she thought, 'This is something that is so stupid it must be true.'"

... ... ...

Lucky, then, Dr. Knuth keeps at it. He figures it will take another 25 years to finish "The Art of Computer Programming," although that time frame has been a constant since about 1980. Might the algorithm-writing algorithms get their own chapter, or maybe a page in the epilogue? "Definitely not," said Dr. Knuth.

"I am worried that algorithms are getting too prominent in the world," he added. "It started out that computer scientists were worried nobody was listening to us. Now I'm worried that too many people are listening."


Scott Kim Burlingame, CA Dec. 18

Thanks Siobhan for your vivid portrait of my friend and mentor. When I came to Stanford as an undergrad in 1973 I asked who in the math dept was interested in puzzles. They pointed me to the computer science dept, where I met Knuth and we hit it off immediately. Not only a great thinker and writer, but as you so well described, always present and warm in person. He was also one of the best teachers I've ever had -- clear, funny, and interested in every student (his elegant policy was each student can only speak twice in class during a period, to give everyone a chance to participate, and he made a point of remembering everyone's names). Some thoughts from Knuth I carry with me: finding the right name for a project is half the work (not literally true, but he labored hard on finding the right names for TeX, Metafont, etc.), always do your best work, half of why the field of computer science exists is because it is a way for mathematically minded people who like to build things can meet each other, and the observation that when the computer science dept began at Stanford one of the standard interview questions was "what instrument do you play" -- there was a deep connection between music and computer science, and indeed the dept had multiple string quartets. But in recent decades that has changed entirely. If you do a book on Knuth (he deserves it), please be in touch.

IMiss America US Dec. 18

I remember when programming was art. I remember when programming was programming. These days, it is 'coding', which is more like 'code-spraying'. Throw code at a problem until it kind of works, then fix the bugs in the post-release, or the next update.

AI is a joke. None of the current 'AI' actually is. It is just another new buzz-word to throw around to people that do not understand it at all. We should be in a golden age of computing. Instead, we are cutting all corners to get something out as fast as possible. The technology exists to do far more. It is the human element that fails us.

Ronald Aaronson Armonk, NY Dec. 18

My particular field of interest has always been compiler writing and have been long awaiting Knuth's volume on that subject. I would just like to point out that among Kunth's many accomplishments is the invention of LR parsers, which are widely used for writing programming language compilers.

Edward Snowden Russia Dec. 18

Yes, \TeX, and its derivative, \LaTeX{} contributed greatly to being able to create elegant documents. It is also available for the web in the form MathJax, and it's about time the New York Times supported MathJax. Many times I want one of my New York Times comments to include math, but there's no way to do so! It comes up equivalent to: $e^{i\pi}+1$.

48 Recommend
henry pick new york Dec. 18

I read it at the time, because what I really wanted to read was volume 7, Compilers. As I understood it at the time, Professor Knuth wrote it in order to make enough money to build an organ. That apparantly happened by 3:Knuth, Searching and Sorting. The most impressive part is the mathemathics in Semi-numerical (2:Knuth). A lot of those problems are research projects over the literature of the last 400 years of mathematics.

Steve Singer Chicago Dec. 18

I own the three volume "Art of Computer Programming", the hardbound boxed set. Luxurious. I don't look at it very often thanks to time constraints, given my workload. But your article motivated me to at least pick it up and carry it from my reserve library to a spot closer to my main desk so I can at least grab Volume 1 and try to read some of it when the mood strikes. I had forgotten just how heavy it is, intellectual content aside. It must weigh more than 25 pounds.

Terry Hayes Los Altos, CA Dec. 18

I too used my copies of The Art of Computer Programming to guide me in several projects in my career, across a variety of topic areas. Now that I'm living in Silicon Valley, I enjoy seeing Knuth at events at the Computer History Museum (where he was a 1998 Fellow Award winner), and at Stanford. Another facet of his teaching is the annual Christmas Lecture, in which he presents something of recent (or not-so-recent) interest. The 2018 lecture is available online - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_cR9zDlvP88

Chris Tong Kelseyville, California Dec. 17

One of the most special treats for first year Ph.D. students in the Stanford University Computer Science Department was to take the Computer Problem-Solving class with Don Knuth. It was small and intimate, and we sat around a table for our meetings. Knuth started the semester by giving us an extremely challenging, previously unsolved problem. We then formed teams of 2 or 3. Each week, each team would report progress (or lack thereof), and Knuth, in the most supportive way, would assess our problem-solving approach and make suggestions for how to improve it. To have a master thinker giving one feedback on how to think better was a rare and extraordinary experience, from which I am still benefiting! Knuth ended the semester (after we had all solved the problem) by having us over to his house for food, drink, and tales from his life. . . And for those like me with a musical interest, he let us play the magnificent pipe organ that was at the center of his music room. Thank you Professor Knuth, for giving me one of the most profound educational experiences I've ever had, with such encouragement and humor!

Been there Boulder, Colorado Dec. 17

I learned about Dr. Knuth as a graduate student in the early 70s from one of my professors and made the financial sacrifice (graduate student assistantships were not lucrative) to buy the first and then the second volume of the Art of Computer Programming. Later, at Bell Labs, when I was a bit richer, I bought the third volume. I have those books still and have used them for reference for years. Thank you Dr, Knuth. Art, indeed!

Gianni New York Dec. 18

@Trerra In the good old days, before Computer Science, anyone could take the Programming Aptitude Test. Pass it and companies would train you. Although there were many mathematicians and scientists, some of the best programmers turned out to be music majors. English, Social Sciences, and History majors were represented as well as scientists and mathematicians. It was a wonderful atmosphere to work in . When I started to look for a job as a programmer, I took Prudential Life Insurance's version of the Aptitude Test. After the test, the interviewer was all bent out of shape because my verbal score was higher than my math score; I was a physics major. Luckily they didn't hire me and I got a job with IBM.

M Martínez Miami Dec. 17

In summary, "May the force be with you" means: Did you read Donald Knuth's "The Art of Computer Programming"? Excellent, we loved this article. We will share it with many young developers we know.

mds USA Dec. 17

Dr. Knuth is a great Computer Scientist. Around 25 years ago, I met Dr. Knuth in a small gathering a day before he was awarded a honorary Doctorate in a university. This is my approximate recollection of a conversation. I said-- " Dr. Knuth, you have dedicated your book to a computer (one with which he had spent a lot of time, perhaps a predecessor to PDP-11). Isn't it unusual?". He said-- "Well, I love my wife as much as anyone." He then turned to his wife and said --"Don't you think so?". It would be nice if scientists with the gift of such great minds tried to address some problems of ordinary people, e.g. a model of economy where everyone can get a job and health insurance, say, like Dr. Paul Krugman.

Nadine NYC Dec. 17

I was in a training program for women in computer systems at CUNY graduate center, and they used his obtuse book. It was one of the reasons I dropped out. He used a fantasy language to describe his algorithms in his book that one could not test on computers. I already had work experience as a programmer with algorithms and I know how valuable real languages are. I might as well have read Animal Farm. It might have been different if he was the instructor.

Doug McKenna Boulder Colorado Dec. 17

Don Knuth's work has been a curious thread weaving in and out of my life. I was first introduced to Knuth and his The Art of Computer Programming back in 1973, when I was tasked with understanding a section of the then-only-two-volume Book well enough to give a lecture explaining it to my college algorithms class. But when I first met him in 1981 at Stanford, he was all-in on thinking about typography and this new-fangled system of his called TeX. Skip a quarter century. One day in 2009, I foolishly decided kind of on a whim to rewrite TeX from scratch (in my copious spare time), as a simple C library, so that its typesetting algorithms could be put to use in other software such as electronic eBook's with high-quality math typesetting and interactive pictures. I asked Knuth for advice. He warned me, prepare yourself, it's going to consume five years of your life. I didn't believe him, so I set off and tried anyway. As usual, he was right.

Baddy Khan San Francisco Dec. 17

I have signed copied of "Fundamental Algorithms" in my library, which I treasure. Knuth was a fine teacher, and is truly a brilliant and inspiring individual. He taught during the same period as Vint Cerf, another wonderful teacher with a great sense of humor who is truly a "father of the internet". One good teacher makes all the difference in life. More than one is a rare blessing.

Indisk Fringe Dec. 17

I am a biologist, specifically a geneticist. I became interested in LaTeX typesetting early in my career and have been either called pompous or vilified by people at all levels for wanting to use. One of my PhD advisors famously told me to forget LaTeX because it was a thing of the past. I have now forgotten him completely. I still use LaTeX almost every day in my work even though I don't generally typeset with equations or algorithms. My students always get trained in using proper typesetting. Unfortunately, the publishing industry has all but largely given up on TeX. Very few journals in my field accept TeX manuscripts, and most of them convert to word before feeding text to their publishing software. Whatever people might argue against TeX, the beauty and elegance of a property typeset document is unparalleled. Long live LaTeX

PaulSFO San Francisco Dec. 17

A few years ago Severo Ornstein (who, incidentally, did the hardware design for the first router, in 1969), and his wife Laura, hosted a concert in their home in the hills above Palo Alto. During a break a friend and I were chatting when a man came over and *asked* if he could chat with us (a high honor, indeed). His name was Don. After a few minutes I grew suspicious and asked "What's your last name?" Friendly, modest, brilliant; a nice addition to our little chat.

Tim Black Wilmington, NC Dec. 17

When I was a physics undergraduate (at Trinity in Hartford), I was hired to re-write professor's papers into TeX. Seeing the beauty of TeX, I wrote a program that re-wrote my lab reports (including graphs!) into TeX. My lab instructors were amazed! How did I do it? I never told them. But I just recognized that Knuth was a genius and rode his coat-tails, as I have continued to do for the last 30 years!

Jack512 Alexandria VA Dec. 17

A famous quote from Knuth: "Beware of bugs in the above code; I have only proved it correct, not tried it." Anyone who has ever programmed a computer will feel the truth of this in their bones.

[Dec 27, 2018] Spending cuts reduce demand in the economy, for every dollar spend by the govt at the lowest levels (welfare and essential services) around five to seven dollars of extra economic activity is generated.

Dec 27, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

Paulare -> NeilofSydney , 3 Jun 2018 23:32

Spending cuts reduce demand in the economy, for every dollar spend by the govt at the lowest levels (welfare and essential services) around five to seven dollars of extra economic activity is generated.

This sustains demand in the economy, and despite what Scott Morrison thinks, demand is actually the thing that drives investment. Investment will not be made by businesses if there is no demand, no matter how low the tax on profits is.

If you continually cut govt spending you will dampen down economic activity and demand.

If you give tax breaks on profit to those who with a low propensity to spend locally (ie foreign investors and super wealthy) and then impose Austerity to "balance the books" then you will do a few things:

Profits in the short term will increase as there is a greater intensive to declare profits as the tax is lower;

The increased profit will be more than likely achieved by reducing investment and and not giving wage rises. Both are costs deducted before profit is calculated;

Investment in productive businesses will stall as demand falls as austerity measures kick in;

Investments in speculative / safe haven investments will increase (shares, Property, artworks etc); This will drive up speculative house prices and price out many ordinary people.

Wages will stagnate and start to fall in real terms; Demand will stagnate and fall.

Businesses will cut back on investment and wages.

Inequality will worsen; and

Social discontent rise.

The cut taxes and impose austerity mantra is the fatuous economic and social thinking we have come to expect from from the neo-cons.

IT MAKES NO SENSE WHATSOEVER

It never was going to work long terms. Only the massive con job by the media and politicians made it seem even plausible.

If you want evidence of a con job by politicians you need look no further than the assumption made that "all government spending is worthless" made by scot Morrison and co. Even with this ridiculous assumption he was only able to get even one of five scenarios to give a 0.5% boost to GDP in ten years time.

If he actually subtracted any negative effect of cutting govt spending, even without any multiplier effect, then there was no scenario where the tax cuts made any sort of economic sense.

And of course the MSM which is owned by the super wealth elite, will only continue to put out pro neo-cons propaganda and ruthlessly degenerate any opposition viewpoint.

This is actually ironic as capitalism actually works best for all, including by the way the super wealthy, when governments continually redistribute wealth downwards.

Economic well-being is something that thrives very well with social well-being.

Capitalism will fail catastrophically if governments continue to redistribute wealth upwards.

Social dislocation is the probable outcome of the current ideological trajectory.

[Dec 27, 2018] Trump Considering Order To Ban Purchases Of Huawei, ZTE Equipment

Dec 27, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

After the US government elicited outrage from the Chinese due to its attempts to convince its allies to bar the use of equipment made by telecoms supplier Huawei, President Trump is apparently weighing whether to take another dramatic antagonistic step that could further complicate trade negotiations less than two weeks before a US delegation is slated to head to Beijing.

According to Reuters , the White House is reportedly considering an executive order that would ban US companies from using equipment made by Huawei and ZTE, claiming that both companies work "at the behest of the US government" and that their equipment could be used to spy on US citizens. The order would invoke the International Emergency Economic Powers Act to order the Department of Commerce to prohibit the purchase of equipment from telecoms manufacturers that could threaten national security. Though it wouldn't explicitly name Huawei or ZTE, the ban would arise from Commerce's interpretation. The IEEA allows the president the authority to regulate commerce in the face of a national emergency. Back in August, Congress passed and Trump signed a bill banning the use of ZTE and Huawei equipment by the US government and government contractors. The executive order has reportedly been under consideration for eight months, since around the time that the US nearly blocked US companies from selling parts to ZTE, which sparked a mini-diplomatic crisis, which ended with a deal allowing ZTE to survive, but pay a large fine.

The feud between the US and Huawei has obviously been escalating in recent months as the US has embarked on an "extraordinary influence campaign" to convince its allies to ban equipment made by both companies, and the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou in Canada has also blossomed into a diplomatic crisis of sorts.

But the real reason issuing a ban on both companies' equipment is seen as a priority is because Huawei's lead in the race to build 5G technology is making its products more appealing to global telecoms providers. Rural telecoms providers in the US - those with fewer than 100,000 subscribers - are particularly reliant on equipment made by both companies. They've expressed concerns that a ban would require them to rip out and scrap their equipment at an immense cost.

Rural operators in the United States are among the biggest customers of Huawei and ZTE, and fear the executive order would also require them to rip out existing Chinese-made equipment without compensation. Industry officials are divided on whether the administration could legally compel operators to do that.

While the big U.S. wireless companies have cut ties with Huawei in particular, small rural carriers have relied on Huawei and ZTE switches and other equipment because they tend to be less expensive.

The company is so central to small carriers that William Levy, vice president for sales of Huawei Tech USA, is on the board of directors of the Rural Wireless Association.

The RWA represents carriers with fewer than 100,000 subscribers. It estimates that 25 percent of its members had Huawei or ZTE equipment in their networks, it said in a filing to the Federal Communications Commission earlier this month.

As Sputnik pointed out, the news of the possible ban followed questions from Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson, who expressed serious concerns over the involvement of Huawei in Britain's 5G network, suggesting that Beijing sometimes acted "in a malign way." But even if it loses access to the US market, Huawei's global expansion and its leadership in the 5G space are expected to continue to bolster profits and growth. Currently, Huawei sells equipment in 170 countries.

According to a statement from the company's rotating chairman, the company's full-year sales are expected to increase 21% to $108.5 billion this year. The company has signed 26 contracts globally to supply 5G equipment for commercial use, leaving it well ahead of its US rivals.

[Dec 27, 2018] 'Trickle down effect' and pub test

Dec 27, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

Phoroneus57 , 3 Jun 2018 23:03

'Trickle down effect' - the favourite buzzword of neoliberal supporters. I'd like to see trickle down effect tried at the local pub on the taps by the local mp. Imagine what would happen. Definitely doesn't pass the pub test.

[Dec 27, 2018] Chart analyst sees a weeks-long relief rally in stocks that could offer selling opportunity

Dec 27, 2018 | finance.yahoo.com

Compare with "That's set to worsen in the new year, experts told CNBC on Monday, pointing to risks including the Federal Reserve likely raising interest rates further and mounting concerns about a global economic slowdown." The problem iether expecting rally or expecting further downturn is that stock prices are so detached from reality that everything is possible.

[Dec 27, 2018] Times change and parties change with them with Dems creating an absurd situation: Nixon now looks to the left of most Dem politicians

Obamacare is like at least the fifth time in over a century to introduce affordable healthcare. Looks like we're going to need at least a sixth attempt to actually do it right. What was Winston Churchill's saying that Americans will always do the right thing but only after doing everything else?
Notable quotes:
"... Nixon is not just to the left of today's reps, he's to the left of the so called centrist dems I would call them right wing corporate lackays that never saw a war they didn't like. ..."
Dec 27, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

John k , December 26, 2018 at 9:11 pm

I do remember this.

Nixon is not just to the left of today's reps, he's to the left of the so called centrist dems I would call them right wing corporate lackays that never saw a war they didn't like.

[Dec 27, 2018] New idols or "St. Mueller candle

It is a funny devotional candle though!
Dec 27, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Nick Decaro @decaro_nick

A devotional gift for Xmas.


Big Tap , December 26, 2018 at 5:11 pm

They are several varieties of the Mueller candle. The vendor below said they sold out the original supply of candles but more will arrive in the future. Pray to St. Mueller!! /s

https://www.cargoinc.com/whimsy/robert-mueller-devotional-candle

Wukchumni , December 26, 2018 at 5:21 pm

Mueller candle: Votive confidence?

polecat , December 26, 2018 at 7:10 pm

How come he's not on a cross ??

ambrit , December 26, 2018 at 7:39 pm

That should be a St. Mueller vigil candle cover. Something appropriate for a saint dedicated to blocking the cleansing power of light.

From "The Legend of Saint Mueller":

"And then the Priest of the Temple named Mueller didst procure screens with which to block out from the sight of the People those necessary sins taken upon themselves by the Priests to protect that same People from the Forces of Evil."

In later days, that Priest named Mueller was elected to the ranks of the anointed as the patron of all who cast shade and do other evils in the service of a Good Cause. His Saint Day is February 29. The prayer to Saint Mueller begins: "Redactio ad absurdum." His sigil is 'A Candle Under a Basket.'

[Dec 27, 2018] Dumping On The Donald

Dec 27, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Dumping On The Donald

by Tyler Durden Tue, 12/25/2018 - 15:00 41 SHARES Authored by Raul Ilargi Meijer via The Automatic Earth,

I still had some things I didn't talk about in Sunday's Trump Derangement International , about how the European press have found out that they, like the US MSM, can get lots of viewers and readers simply by publishing negative stories about Donald Trump. The US president is an attention magnet, as long as you only write things about him designed to make him look bad.

The Guardian is only too happy to comply. They ran a whole series of articles on Sunday to do juts that: try to make Trump look bad. Note that the Guardian editorial team that okayed the articles is the same as the one that allowed the fake Assange/Manafort one , so their credibility is already shot to pieces. It's the magic triangle of today's media profits: spout non-stop allegations against Russia, Trump and Julian Assange, and link them when and where you can. It doesn't matter if what you say is true or not.

Anyway, all the following is from the Guardian, all on December 23. First off, Adam Gabbatt in New York, who has painstakingly researched how Trump's businesses, like Trump Tower and the Trump store, don't appear to have sufficiently (as per him) switched from Happy Holidays to Merry Christmas. Sherlock Holmes would have been proud. A smash hit there Adam, bring out the handcuffs.

Trump's 'Merry Christmas' Pledge Fails To Manifest

During Donald Trump's presidential campaign he talked often about his determination to win one particular war. A war that had been raging for years, he said. Specifically: the war on Christmas. But despite Trump's repeated claims that "people are saying Merry Christmas again" instead of the more inclusive "happy holidays", there are several places where the Christmas greeting is absent: Trump's own businesses.

The Trump Store, for example. Instead of a Christmas gift guide – which surely would be more in keeping with the president's stated desire for the phrase to be used – the store offers a holiday gift guide. "Shop our Holiday Gift Guide and find the perfect present for the enthusiast on your list," the online store urges. "Carefully curated to celebrate the most wonderful time of year with truly unique gifts found only at Trump Store. Add a bow on top with our custom gift wrapping. Happy Holiday's!"

The use of the phrase "Happy Holiday's" [sic] in Trump marketing would seem particularly egregious. The long-standing "War-on-Christmas" complaint from the political right is that stores use the phrase "Happy Holidays", rather than specifically mentioning the Christian celebration. It is offered as both an example of political correctness gone mad, and as an effort to erase Christianity from the US.

It's just, I think that if Trump had personally interfered to make sure there were Merry Christmas messages all around, you would have remarked that as president, he's not allowed to be personally involved in his businesses. But yeah, you know, just to keep the negativity going, it works, no matter how fluffy and hollow.

Second, still on December 23, is Tom McCarthy for the Guardian in New York, who talks about Robert Mueller's phenomenal successes. Mueller charged 34 people so far. In a case that involves "this complexity which has international implications, aspects relying on the intelligence community, complicated cyber components". It really says that.

And yes, that's how many people view this. What do they care that Mueller's original mandate was to prove collusion between the Trump campaign and 'Russians', and that he has not proven any collusion at all so far, not even with 34 people charged? What do they care? It looks like Trump is guilty of something, anything, after all, and that's all the circus wants.

Robert Mueller Has Enjoyed A Year Of Successes 2019 Could Be Even Stronger

One measure of special counsel Robert Mueller's prosecutorial success in 2018 is the list of former top Donald Trump aides brought to justice: Michael Cohen pleaded guilty, a jury convicted Paul Manafort, a judge berated Michael Flynn. Another measure is the tally of new defendants that Mueller's team charged (34), the number of new guilty pleas he netted (five) and the amount of money he clawed back through tax fraud cases ($48m).

Yet another measure might judge Mueller's pace compared with previous independent prosecutors. "I would refer to it as a lightning pace," said Barb McQuade, a University of Michigan law professor and former US attorney. "In a case of this complexity which has international implications, aspects relying on the intelligence community, complicated cyber components – to indict that many people that quickly is really impressive work."

But there's perhaps a more powerful way to measure Mueller's progress in his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US election and links between Moscow and the Trump campaign; that's by noticing how the targets of his investigation have changed their postures over the course of 2018, from defiance to docility – or in the case of Trump himself, from defiance to extreme, hyperventilating defiance.

In reality, you would be at least as correct if you would claim that Robert Mueller's investigation has been an abject failure. Not one iota of collusion has been proven after 20 months and $20 million in funds have been used. And any serious investigation of Washington's culture of fixers and lobbyists would land at least 34 people who have committed acts that border on or over illegality. And in a matter of weeks, for a few hundred bucks.

Third, still on December 23, is Julian Borger in Washington, who's been elected to convey the image of chaos. Trump Unleashed, says our modern day Shakespeare. With Jim Mad Dog Mattis characterized as ".. the last independently minded, globally respected, major figure left in the administration".. . Again, it really says that.

Because woe the man who tries to bring US troops home, or even promises to do so a few days before Christmas. For pulling out America's finest, Donald Trump is being portrayed as something eerily close to the antichrist. That truly is the world on its head. Bringing troops home to their families equals chaos.

Look, guys, if Trump has been guilty of criminal behavior, the US justice system should be able to find that out and convict him for it. But that's not what this is about anymore. A million articles have been written, like these ones in the Guardian, with the sole intention, evidence being scarce to non-existent, of smearing him to the extent that people see every subsequent article in the light of a man having previously been smeared.

Chaos At Home, Fear Abroad: Trump Unleashed Puts Western World On Edge

The US stumbled into the holiday season with a sense of unravelling, as a large chunk of the federal government ground to a halt, the stock market crashed and the last independently minded, globally respected, major figure left in the administration announced he could no longer work with the president. The defense secretary, James Mattis, handed in his resignation on Thursday, over Donald Trump's abrupt decision to pull US troops out of Syria.

On Saturday another senior official joined the White House exodus. Brett McGurk, the special envoy for the global coalition to defeat Isis and the US official closest to America's Kurdish allies in the region, was reported to have handed in his resignation on Friday. That night, senators flew back to Washington from as far away as Hawaii for emergency talks aimed at finding a compromise on Trump's demand for nearly $6bn for a wall on the southern border, a campaign promise which has become an obsession.

Now look at the next headline, December 23, Graeme Wearden, Guardian, and ask yourself if it's really Trump saying he doesn't agree with the rate hikes that fuels the fears, or whether it's the hikes themselves. And also ask yourself: when Trump and Mnuchin both deny reports of Trump firing Powell, why do journalists keep saying the opposite? Because they want to fuel some fears?

From where I'm sitting, it looks perfectly logical that Trump says he doesn't think Powell's decisions are good for the US economy. And it doesn't matter which one of the two turns out to be right: Trump isn't the only person who disagrees with the Fed hikes.

The main suspect for 2019 market turmoil is the inevitable fallout from the Fed's QE under Bernanke and Yellen. And there is something to be said for Powell trying to normalize rates, but there's no doubt that may hasten, if not cause, turmoil. Blaming it on Trump not agreeing with Jay Powell is pretty much as left field as it gets.

White House Attacks On Fed Chair Fuel Fears Of Market Turmoil In 2019

Over the weekend, a flurry of reports claimed Donald Trump had discussed the possibility of firing the Federal Reserve chairman, Jerome Powell. Such an unprecedented move would trigger further instability in the markets, which have already had their worst year since the 2008 crisis. US officials scrambled to deny Trump had suggested ousting Powell, who was appointed by the president barely a year ago.

The Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, tweeted that he had spoken to the president, who insisted he "never suggested firing" Powell, and did not believe he had the right to do this . However, Trump also declared – via Mnuchin – that he "totally disagrees" with the Fed's "absolutely terrible" policy of raising interest rates and unwinding its bond-buying stimulus programme, piling further pressure on the US's independent central bank.

And now, in the only article in the Guardian series that's December 24, not 23, by Victoria Bekiempis and agencies, the plunging numbers in the stock markets are Trump's fault, too.

Trump 'Plunging Us Into Chaos', Democrats Say, As Markets Tank And Shutdown Persists

Top Democrats have accused Donald Trump of "plunging the country into chaos" as top officials met to discuss a growing rout in stock markets caused in part by the president's persistent attacks on the Federal Reserve and a government shutdown. "It's Christmas Eve and President Trump is plunging the country into chaos," the two top Democrats in Congress, House speaker nominee Nancy Pelosi and Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer, wrote in a joint statement on Monday. "The stock market is tanking and the president is waging a personal war on the Federal Reserve – after he just fired the Secretary of Defense."

Trump criticized the Federal Reserve on Monday, describing it as the "only problem" for the US economy, even as top officials convened the "plunge protection team" forged after the 1987 crash to discuss the growing rout in stock markets. The crisis call on Monday between US financial regulators and the US treasury department failed to assure markets, and stocks fell again amid concern about slowing economic growth, the continuing government shutdown, and reports that Trump had discussed firing Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell.

The last one is from one Jonathan Jones, again December 23, again for the Guardian. And it takes the top award in the narrative building contest.

Again, the Guardian editorial team that okayed this article is still the same as the one that allowed the fake Assange/Manafort one, an editorial team that sees no problem in making things up in order to smear people. To portray Trump, Assange and anyone who's had the misfortune of being born in Russia as suspicious if not outright criminal.

But look at what Jones has to say, and what Guardian editor-in-chief Kathy Viner and her ilk allowed and pressured him to say. He wants to have a say in how Trump should dress (seasonal knitwear), he evokes the image of Nazi architect Albert Speer for no reason at all, and then it's a matter of mere inches until you arrive at Trump as a king, an emperor, an inner tyrant.

"He's in a tuxedo!", Like that's a bad thing for Christmas. "She's in white!". Oh dear, call the pope. If both Trumps would have put on Christmas sweaters in front of a fire, the writer would have found something negative in that.

Trump Portrait: You Couldn't Create A Creepier Yuletide Scene If You Tried

The absence of intimacy in the Trumps' official Christmas portrait freezes the heart. Can it be that hard to create a cosy image of the presidential couple, perhaps in front of a roaring hearth, maybe in seasonal knitwear? Or is this quasi-dictatorial image exactly what the president wants to project? Look on my Christmas trees, ye mighty, and despair! If so, it fuels suspicions that it is only the checks and balances of a 230-year-old constitution that are keeping America from the darkest of political fates. You couldn't create a creepier Yuletide scene if you tried. Multiple Christmas trees are currently a status symbol for the wealthy, but this picture shows the risks.

Instead of a homely symbol of midwinter cheer, these disciplined arboreal ranks with their uniform decorations are arrayed like massed soldiers or colossal columns designed by Albert Speer. The setting is the Cross Hall in the White House and, while the incumbent president cannot be held responsible for its architecture, why heighten its severity with such rigid, heartless seasonal trappings? Everything here communicates cold, empty magnificence. Tree lights that are as frigid as icicles are mirrored in a cold polished floor. Equally frosty illuminations are projected on the ceiling. Instead of twinkling fairy magic, this lifeless lighting creates a sterile, inhuman atmosphere.

You can't imagine kids playing among these trees or any conceivable fun being had by anyone. It suggests the micromanaged, corporate Christmas of a Citizen Kane who has long since lost touch with the ordinary, warm pleasures of real life. In the centre of this disturbing piece of conceptual art stand Donald and Melania Trump. He's in a tuxedo, she's wearing white – and not a woolly hat in sight. Their formal smartness adds to the emotional numbness of the scene. Trump's shark-like grin has nothing generous or friendly about it. He seems to want to show off his beautiful wife and his fantastic home rather than any of the cuddly holiday spirit a conventional politician might strive to share at this time.

It begs a question: how can a man who so glaringly lacks anything like a common touch be such a successful "populist"? What can a midwestern voter find in this image to connect with? Perhaps that's the point. After more than two centuries of democracy, Trump is offering the US people a king, or emperor. In this picture, he gives full vent to his inner tyrant. If this portrait contains any truth about the state of America and the world, may Santa help us all.

I realize that you may be tired of the whole story. I realize you may have been caught in the anti-Trump narrative. And I am by no means a Trump fan. But I will keep on dragging you back to this. Because the discussion should not be based on a handful of media moguls not liking Trump. It should not be based on innuendo and smear. If Trump is to be convicted, it must be on evidence.

And there is no such evidence. Robert Mueller has charged 34 people, but none with what his mandate was based on, none with Russia collusion. This means that the American political system, and democracy itself, is under severe threat by the very media that are supposed to be its gate keepers.

None of this is about Trump, or about whether you like him or not, or even if he's a shady character or not. Instead, it's about the influence the media have on how our opinions and ideas about people and events are being shaped on a daily basis.

And once you acknowledge that your opinions of Trump, Putin et al, even without any proof of a connection between them, are actively being molded by the press you expect to inform you about the truth behind what goes on, you will have to acknowledge, too, that you are a captive of forces that use your gullibility to make a profit off you.

If our media need to make up things all the time about who's guilty of what, because our justice systems are incapable of that, then we have a problem so enormous we may not be able to overcome it in our present settings.

Alternatively, if we trust our justice systems to deliver true justice, we don't need a hundred articles a day to tell us how Trump or Putin are such terrible threats to our world. Our judges will tell us, not our journalists or media who are only in it for a profit.

I can say: "let's start off 2019 trying to leave prejudice behind", and as much as that is needed and you may agree with me, it's no use if you don't realize to what extent your views of the world have been shaped by prejudice.

I see people reacting to the star writer at Der Spiegel who wrote a lot about Trump, being exposed as a fraud. I also see people trying to defend Julian Assange from the Guardian article about his alleged meetings with Paul Manafort, that was an obvious big fat lie (the truth is Manafort talked to Ecuador to help them 'sell' Assange to the US).

But reacting to the very obvious stuff is not enough . The echo chamber distorts the truth about Trump every single day, and at least six times on Sunda y, as this essay of mine shows. It's just that after two years of this going on 24/7, it is perceived as the normal.

Everyone makes money dumping on the Donald, it's a proven success formula, so why would the Guardian and Der Spiegel stay behind? They'd only hurt their own bottom line.

It has nothing to do with journalism, though, or news. It's smear and dirt, the business model of the National Enquirer. That's how far our once truthful media have fallen.

dcmbuffy , 18 minutes ago link

"Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown." Shakespeare Henry IV

like trump said- "no-one said it would be easy."

uhland62 , 54 minutes ago link

All these journalists are influenced and manipulated by 'Australian-American Leadership Dialogue', 'Atlantikbrücke', Open Society Foundation money etc. Wars boost the NYSE because many weapons manufacturers are listed there.

If the journalists weren't manipulated all 2018 compilations would not have omitted the World Cup in Russia.

[Dec 27, 2018] The MSM are hardly going to publish this article, nor are they going to reference it, why should they? It goes against everything they have been fighting for and the tin ear of their readership are unwilling to change teir views. The only thing that they understand is money and they work for to further the concentration of wealth.

Notable quotes:
"... Friends of mine who make a living out of dealing both in stock and wealth creating schemes have no loyalty to this country, they are self motivated and libertarian in persuasion. "Government should get out of the way!" This is nothing short of scandalous. ..."
"... Unless we stand up for our rights and a civil society that provides adequate provision for fair and balanced policy making,xwe will continue until we will see an implosion. History is littered with examples of revolution based on the kind of inequality we are seeing happen in this country. Let's hope it doesn't come to that. ..."
Dec 27, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

PossumBilly , 3 Jun 2018 23:25

This message is clear and concise. It is however never going to be heard beyond the 'Guardian'.

The MSM are hardly going to publish this article, nor are they going to reference it, why should they? It goes against everything they have been fighting for and the tin ear of their readership are unwilling to change teir views.

The only thing that they understand is money and the concentration of wealth. This misonception as Dennis So far this has been handed to them on a plate, the taxation system has enabled them to manipulate an multiply their earnings. So much of money the has nothing to do with adding value to this countries economy but is speculative in nature based on financial and overseas instruments.

No is the time for our government to take the lead and start as the Victorian ALP have done and invest in people and jobs on the back of strategic investment. It is a fallacy that governments don't create jobs they, through their policies do just that.

Friends of mine who make a living out of dealing both in stock and wealth creating schemes have no loyalty to this country, they are self motivated and libertarian in persuasion. "Government should get out of the way!" This is nothing short of scandalous.

Unless we stand up for our rights and a civil society that provides adequate provision for fair and balanced policy making,xwe will continue until we will see an implosion. History is littered with examples of revolution based on the kind of inequality we are seeing happen in this country. Let's hope it doesn't come to that.

[Dec 27, 2018] All talk about "small government" and "slashing red tape" it is NeeSpeak for small government and NO red tape for the rich

Dec 27, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

MajorMalaise , 3 Jun 2018 23:44

A couple of thoughts - in no particular order.

When governments like the LNP (driven as it is by its ideology of greed, the IPA manifesto and Gina Rinehart's idea of what Australia should look like [and how little she should pay to pillage "communally owned" assets to enrich herself beyond imagination - she has no greater claim over the Pilbara than any other Australian, but like all who live by the ethos of greed, she thinks she should get it all for nothing]).

When the LNP talk about "small government" and "slashing red tape" it is politician-speak for small government and NO red tape for the rich. What it also means is much more government and red tape for the poor and vulnerable - as we would expect, the rich and powerful, who really dictate economic and social policy in this country enlist willing governments to enact measures that suppress the lower classes. It is not quite calling out the military (as Hawke did during the pilot's strike at the insistence of the corpulent Ables - one act for which I will always despise Hawke), but it has the same result by more surreptitious, lasting and egregious means.

And one of the lasting legacies of the philosophies of neo-liberalism, from which the Hanson's of the world "suck their oxygen" is that the political and corporate dialogue of the last 30 or so years has pushed the notion of self-entitlement and vilification of the poor and vulnerable further down the economic ladder. So now, we have countless Australians on reasonable incomes who, like the rich, are convinced that all of our social and economic ills can be rectified if we stop giving handouts to the bludgers, the malingerers, the disabled and the indigenous - the neo-liberal rhetoric is now so widespread that it is easier than ever for the vulnerable to be attacked and for many, that is seen as absolutely necessary. It is the false US-sourced notion that if you are poor, it is because you deserve to be and if I am rich - it isn't luck or inheritance - it is because I deserve it. This world-view makes it so much easier to attack the vulnerable as receiving way to much to sit at home and bludge.

Want to forget the now disgraced CEO of Australia Post who bought a Sydney mansion for $22 million and now wants to sell it for $40 million - tax free I might add. He is entitled to that wealth enhancement. But someone on the dole smokes a spliff now and then and we think they should lose their entitlements to an income that doesn't even get them up to the poverty line (but they should be grateful for that pittance). Want to forget the CEO's who pretentiously do their "sleeping rough" for a night and proclaim their empathy for the homeless who would shriek at paying more tax to genuinely fund programmes to help the down and outs. No problem - just embrace the selfish and greedy neo-liberalism philosophy.

[Dec 27, 2018] Is it possible to wrench control of MSM out of hand on large corporations and intelligence agencies?

Dec 27, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

RatioDecidend , 4 Jun 2018 01:33

This article is excellent and well overdue. All we need to do now is to wrench control of our mainstream media out of the hands of Corporate (foreign) control. We are being told to vote against ourselves in order for the few corporate elite to accrue massive wealth and power over us.

MEDIA laws need to be very strict with very, very severe financial penalties for bias and propaganda. Certainly remove this concept of self regulation whereby they sit on their own disciplinary boards. Raise the standards of our media and allow us to retrieve some semblance of our democracy.

Without media control, how would corporations be able to manipulate and propagandise the populace with their own vested interests.

That is why governments are doing corporate bidding and getting fascist style surveillance of its people, in order to counteract the ability of the people to gain knowledge through the internet and vote against corporate control of our democracy.... nothing to do with terrorism which was caused mostly by corporate foreign extraction of wealth through weapon sales; resource acquisition, etc.

Oops, got to go, hope that makes sense.

RatioDecidend -> Lawrie Griffith , 4 Jun 2018 00:51
It is back to control of our mainstream media by the very (foreign) corporations that are sucking out our wealth and putting nothing back.

Corporate media ia all powerful. They insidiously permeate the populace with corporate views of Australia's financial and economy; infrastructure and every aspect of social life from birth to euthanasia with racism and religion thrown in for good measure.

Should a politician have the audacity to act against their corporate interests, they do not last long, without exclusions - PMs Whitlam and Rudd being prime examples.

This current mob of gutless underachieving dinosaur neo con nutters in govt, are completely turning over Australia to these Corporate (foreign) parasites and our prospect is not looking good.

Within no time we will be a Corporatocracy (as is the USA) and along with that comes 1% owning 99% of the wealth; third world poverty; crime through the roof; drugs out of control; public health and education a joke; public services non existent; legal system in disarray and entrenched with bias and inequity.

[Dec 27, 2018] Ideas once dismissed as the ravings of the loony left are breaking into the mainstream of economic and intellectual debate by Pankaj Mishra

Notable quotes:
"... Her targets range from pharmaceutical companies, which uphold a heartless version of market rationality, to internet companies with monopoly power such as Google and Facebook. Her most compelling example, however, is the workings of the financial sector, and its Friedman-style obsession with "shareholder value maximization," which has infected the corporate sector as a whole. ..."
"... Reading Mazzucato's book, it is hard not to wonder just how "neoliberal" ideas and values, which uphold the rationality of the market and exclude notions of the common good, came to shape the conduct of individuals and institutions. ..."
"... In these narratives, neoliberalism appears indistinguishable from laissez-faire. In " Globalists : The End of Empire and the Birth of Neoliberalism," Quinn Slobodian briskly overturns this commonplace view. Neoliberals, he argues, are people who believe that "the market does not and cannot take care of itself," and indeed neoliberalism is a form of regulation -- one that insulates the markets from vagaries of mass democracy and economic nationalism. ..."
Dec 24, 2018 | www.bloomberg.com
Ideas once dismissed as the ravings of the loony left are breaking into the mainstream of economic and intellectual debate. We live in an age of political earthquakes: That much, at least, seemed clear from newspaper headlines nearly every day of 2018. But intellectual tectonic plates were also shifting throughout the year, with ideas once dismissed as the ravings of the loony left breaking into the mainstream.

A Western consensus quickly formed after the collapse of communist regimes in 1989. It was widely believed by newspaper editorialists as well as politicians and businessmen that there was no alternative to free markets, which alone could create prosperity.

The government's traditional attempts to regulate corporations and banks and redistribute wealth through taxes were deemed a problem. As the economist Milton Friedman put it , "The world runs on individuals pursuing their separate interests."

Neither individuals nor companies needed to worry much about inequality or social justice. In Friedman's influential view, "There is one and only one social responsibility of business -- to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits."

Political fiascos in the West, following its largest financial crisis -- events accompanied by the emergence of China, a Communist-run nation-state, as a major economic power, as well as an unfolding environmental calamity -- have utterly devastated these post-1989 assumptions about free markets and the role of governments.

Confessions to this effect come routinely from disenchanted believers. Take, for instance, Olivier Blanchard, former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, who recently posed the once-blasphemous question: "What comes after capitalism?"

Blanchard was commenting on the recent demonstrations in France against President Emmanuel Macron. He rightly described a global impasse: "Given the political constraints on redistribution and the constraints from capital mobility, we may just not be able to alleviate inequality and insecurity enough to prevent populism and revolutions."

Nor, for that matter, can we work towards a greener economy. In any case, Blanchard's admission confirms that we inhabit, intellectually and culturally, a radical new reality -- one in which "neoliberalism," a word previously confined to academic seminars, has entered rap lyrics , and stalwarts of the establishment sound like activists of Occupy Wall Street.

Thus, Martin Wolf, respected columnist for the Financial Times, recently concluded , if "reluctantly," that "capitalism is substantially broken." This year, many books with titles such as "The Myth of Capitalism: Monopolies and the Death of Competition" and "Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World" blamed an unjust economic system and its beneficiaries for the rise of demagogues.

It is becoming clear that the perennial conflict between democracy, which promises equality, and capitalism, which generates inequality, has been aggravated by a systemic neglect of some fundamental issues.

In " The Value of Everything : Making and Taking in the Global Economy," Mariana Mazzucato bracingly focuses our attention on them. Mazzucato has previously written about the innovative role of governments in the modern economy. In her new book, she asks us to distinguish between people who create value and those who merely extract it, often destroying it in the process.

Her targets range from pharmaceutical companies, which uphold a heartless version of market rationality, to internet companies with monopoly power such as Google and Facebook. Her most compelling example, however, is the workings of the financial sector, and its Friedman-style obsession with "shareholder value maximization," which has infected the corporate sector as a whole.

Reading Mazzucato's book, it is hard not to wonder just how "neoliberal" ideas and values, which uphold the rationality of the market and exclude notions of the common good, came to shape the conduct of individuals and institutions.

In the conventional account of neoliberalism, Friedman looms large, along with his disciple Ronald Reagan, and Britain's Margaret Thatcher. Much has been written about how the IMF's structural adjustment programs in Asia and Africa, and "shock-therapy" for post-Communist states, entrenched orthodoxies about deregulation and privatization.

In these narratives, neoliberalism appears indistinguishable from laissez-faire. In " Globalists : The End of Empire and the Birth of Neoliberalism," Quinn Slobodian briskly overturns this commonplace view. Neoliberals, he argues, are people who believe that "the market does not and cannot take care of itself," and indeed neoliberalism is a form of regulation -- one that insulates the markets from vagaries of mass democracy and economic nationalism.

Beginning with the breakup of the Hapsburg Empire, Slobodian's lucidly written intellectual history traces the ideas of a group of Western thinkers who sought to create, against a backdrop of anarchy, globally applicable economic rules.

Their attempt, it turns out, succeeded all too well in our own time. We stand in the ruins of their project, confronting political, economic and environmental crises of unprecedented scale and size.

It is imperative to chart our way out of them, steering clear of the diversions offered by political demagogues. One can only hope that the new year will bring more intellectual heresies of the kind Mazzucato's and Slobodian's books embody. We need them urgently to figure out what comes after neoliberalism.

[Dec 27, 2018] The big con how neoliberals convinced us there wasn't enough to go around by Richard Denniss

Notable quotes:
"... The political strategy behind these contradictions is simple: it is difficult to criticise government spending on health and education, or popular regulations like consumer protection and limits on executive pay. So why not just criticise all government spending and all ..."
Jun 03, 2018 | www.theguardian.com

After the mining boom and decades of economic growth, how can Australia be broke?

Gina Rinehart was becoming the world's richest woman those on the minimum wage were falling further and further behind

Australia just experienced one of the biggest mining booms in world history. But even at the peak of that boom, there was no talk of the wonderful opportunity we finally had to invest in world-class mental health or domestic violence crisis services.

Nor was there much talk from either major party about how the wealth of the mining boom gave us a once-in-a-generation opportunity to invest in remote Indigenous communities. Nope, the peak of the mining boom was not the time to help those who had missed out in decades past, but the Howard government thought it was a great time to introduce permanent tax cuts for high-income earners. These, of course, are the tax cuts that caused the budget deficits we have today.

Millions of tonnes of explosives were used during the mining boom to build more than 100 new mines, but it wasn't just prime farmland that was blasted away in the boom, it was access to the middle class. At the same time that Gina Rinehart was becoming the world's richest woman on the back of rising iron ore prices, those on the minimum wage were falling further and further behind their fellow Australians.

https://www.theguardian.com/email/form/plaintone/4148

Like Joe Hockey, Rinehart saw the problem of inequality as having more to do with the character of the poor than with the rules of the game: "If you're jealous of those with more money, don't just sit there and complain. Do something to make more money yourself – spend less time drinking or smoking and socialising, and more time working."

Privatisation is deeply unpopular with voters. Here's how to end it | John Quiggin

Australia isn't poor; it is rich beyond the imagining of anyone living in the 1970s or 80s. But so much of that new wealth has been vacuumed up by a few, and so little of that new wealth has been paid in tax, that the public has been convinced that ours is a country struggling to pay its bills.

Convincing Australians that our nation is poor and that our governments "can't afford" to provide the level of services they provided in the past has not just helped to lower our expectations of our public services and infrastructure, it has helped to lower our expectations of democracy itself. A public school in Sydney has had to ban kids from running in the playground because it was so overcrowded. Trains have become so crowded at peak hours that many people, especially the frail and the disabled, are reluctant to use them. And those who have lost their jobs now wait for hours on the phone when they reach out to Centrelink for help.

Although people with low expectations are easier to con, fomenting cynicism about democracy comes at a long-term cost. Indeed, as the current crop of politicians is beginning to discover, people with low expectations feel they have nothing to lose.

As more and more people live with the poverty and job insecurity that flow directly from neoliberal welfare and industrial relations policies, the scare campaigns run so successfully by the likes of the Business Council of Australia have lost their sting. Scary stories about the economy become like car alarms: once they attracted attention, but now they simply annoy those forced to listen.

'If governments can't make a difference and all politicians are corrupt, why not vote for outsiders?

After decades of hearing conservative politicians say that government is the problem, a growing number of conservative voters no longer care which major party forms government. If governments can't make a difference and all politicians are corrupt, why not vote for outsiders like Jacqui Lambie or Clive Palmer? There is perhaps no clearer evidence of the short-termism of the Liberal and National parties today than their willingness to fan the flames of anti-politician rhetoric without considering that it is their own voters who are most likely to heed the message.

Back when he was leading the campaign against Australia becoming a republic, Tony Abbott famously argued that you couldn't trust politicians to choose our head of state. And more recently, in campaigning against marriage equality, Minister Matt Canavan was featured in a television advertisement laughing at the thought that we could trust politicians.

Neoliberalism: the idea that swallowed the world

Convincing Australians that the country was broke also helped convince us that we have no choice but to sell the family silver. But of course we have a choice. Just as there is no right answer as to whether it's better to rent a home or buy one, there is no right answer to whether it's better for governments to own the electricity supply, the postal service or the water supply, or none of these things.

Different governments in different countries make different decisions at different points in time. While much of neoliberalism's rhetorical power comes from the assertion that "there is no alternative," the simple fact is that the world is full of alternatives. Indeed, even the so-called free marketeers in Australia can see alternatives.

Consider stadiums, for example. The NSW Liberal government has a long track record of being pro-privatisation. It has sold off billions of dollars' worth of electricity, water and health infrastructure. But when it comes to football stadiums, it has no ideological problem with public ownership, nor any fiscal inhibition about spending billions of taxpayers' dollars.

In 2016 the NSW Liberal government spent $220m buying back ANZ Stadium, built in the 1990s with taxpayer funds at a cost of $690m and subsequently sold to Stadium Australia Group. Having bought back the stadium, the NSW government plans to spend hundreds of millions of dollars refurbishing it. That same money could build a lot of school science labs, domestic violence crisis centres or skate parks for the bored kids the shopping malls don't want scratching up their marble stairs. For the past 30 years, Australians have been told that we can't afford high-quality public services, that public ownership of assets is inefficient, and that the pursuit of free markets through deregulation would create wealth and prosperity for all. But none of this is true.

While the policy agenda of neoliberalism has never been broadly applied in Australia, for 30 years the language of neoliberalism has been applied to everything from environmental protection to care of the disabled. The result of the partial application of policy and the broad application of language is not just a yawning gap between those with the greatest wealth and those with the greatest need, but a country that is now riven by demographic, geographic and racial divides.

Cutting the budget deficit is very important – except when it isn't

Australian politics isn't about ideology, it's about interests. The clearest proof of that claim is that neoliberal ideas such as deregulation were never aimed at powerful interest groups like the pharmacists or the gambling industry. And savage spending cuts were never aimed at subsidies for the fossil-fuel industry or private health insurers.

Tony Abbott, who claimed to have a philosophical problem with carbon taxing, once proposed a 20% increase in the tobacco excise

Just as conservative Christian theology provides an excuse for sexism and homophobia, neoliberal language allows powerful groups to package their personal preferences as national interests – systematically cutting spending on their enemies and giving money to their friends. Here are some examples:

John Howard said he was obsessed with deregulating the labour market, but introduced 762 pages of labour-market regulation, which he entitled WorkChoices. He didn't deregulate the labour market; he re-regulated it in his preferred form. He knew that government decisions matter. Similarly, the Abbott government declared it was waging a war on red tape, yet the Turnbull government is determined to pass new laws restricting unions and NGOs. If there is one thing that neoliberals really seem to believe, it is that reducing the budget deficit is very, very important. Except when it isn't. The political and business leaders who said we needed to slash welfare spending because we had a "budget emergency" are currently advocating a $65bn tax cut for business – even though the deficit is bigger now than it was at the time of the alleged emergency. The Productivity Commission and state treasuries spent years advocating the deregulation and privatisation of the electricity industry – and succeeded in creating a "free market" system governed by 5,000 pages of electricity market rules. Electricity is too dangerous and too important to be deregulated, and those pushing for deregulation always knew that. They didn't want a free market; they simply wanted a market, one in which the government played a smaller role and the private sector made large profits selling an essential service for much higher prices than the government ever charged. The NSW government requires NGOs and disability service providers to compete with each other but, when it sold Port Botany and the Port of Newcastle, it structured the sales to ensure that Newcastle could not compete with Port Botany for the landing of the millions of containers that arrive by ship each year. While "competition policy" is applied to the vulnerable, those buying billion-dollar assets are protected from those same forces of competition.

To be clear, there has been no obsession among the political elite with the neoliberal goals of reducing government spending, regulation or tax collection in Australia over the past three decades. None. They didn't mean a word of it. While there may have been economists, commentators and even business leaders who sincerely believed in those goals, it is clear from their actions, as distinct from their words, that John Howard, Tony Abbott and even the former head of the Business Council of Australia Tony Shepherd, the man tasked with running Abbott's National Commission of Audit, had no principled objection to spending large amounts of public money on things they liked spending large amounts of public money on. Indeed, in his speakers' agency profile, Tony Shepherd brags about his ability to get public money for private ventures:

It is no mean feat to convince governments to support private sector proposals, but as former prime minister, the honourable Paul Keating, said, "Tony managed to get more money out of my government than any other person I can recall."

Hundreds of new pages of regulation now govern the conduct of charities. Billions of taxpayers' dollars have been spent by "small government" politicians on everything from television ads for innovation to subsidies for marriage counselling. And Tony Abbott, who claimed to have a philosophical problem with carbon taxing, once proposed a 20% increase in the tobacco excise.

The political strategy behind these contradictions is simple: it is difficult to criticise government spending on health and education, or popular regulations like consumer protection and limits on executive pay. So why not just criticise all government spending and all red tape in general? Once you have convinced the public that all government spending is inefficient, you can set about cutting spending on your enemies and retaining it for your friends. And once you convince people that all regulation is bad, you can set about removing consumer protections while retaining the laws that protect the TV industry, the gambling industry, the pharmaceutical industry and all your other friends.

Cover of Dead Right by Richard Denniss, Quarterly Essay.

When powerful groups want subsidies, we are told they will create jobs. When powerless groups want better funding for domestic violence shelters or after-school reading groups, they are told of the need to reduce the budget deficit. When powerful groups demand new regulations, we are told it will provide business with certainty, but when powerless groups demand new regulations, they are told it will create sovereign risk.

Ideology has a bad name these days, but it simply means a "system of ideas and ideals." By that definition, it is possible to think of neoliberalism as an ideology focused on the idea that market forces are superior to government decision-making. But while large segments of Australian politics and business have draped themselves, and their policy preferences, in the cloak of neoliberal ideas and ideals, in reality to call them "ideologues" is to flatter them. They lack the consistency and strength of principle to warrant the title.

This is an edited extract of Richard Denniss's Quarterly Essay 70, Dead Right: How Neoliberalism Ate Itself and What Comes Next , $22.99

[Dec 27, 2018] Neoliberalism has caused 'misery and division', Bernie Fraser says

Dec 27, 2018 | www.theguardian.com

Former RBA governor says Coalition pursues low-tax road to jobs and growth despite lack of evidence to support it

Paul Karp and Gareth Hutchens

Tue 16 Oct 2018 13.00 EDT Last modified on Tue 16 Oct 2018 19.11 EDT Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share via Email This article is over 2 months old Australian economic growth has been a 'standout' says Bernie Fraser, but too many have missed the benefits. Photograph: Tracey Nearmy/EPA Neoliberalism has caused "misery and social polarisation" yet remains in vogue with the Coalition government, according to the economist Bernie Fraser.

The former Treasury secretary and Reserve Bank governor has made the comments in a presentation circulated to participants of the Australia Institute's revenue summit to be held in Canberra on Wednesday.

Michael Keating, a former secretary to the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, will also use the summit to raise doubts about the Morrison government's budget forecasts.

Australia's housing boom is not heading for a soft landing. How did we get here? | Greg Jericho Read more

In the background notes for Fraser's speech, seen by Guardian Australia, he says that Australia's 27 consecutive years of economic growth is a "standout", "Winx-like" performance.

But the record deserves only "qualified applause" because "too many Australians remain unemployed, under-employed, underskilled, underpaid and lack job security".

Fraser warns that society has become "less fair, less compassionate and more divided" and "more devoid of trust in almost every field of human activity" in the past 20 years.

"As a disinterested player in climate change negotiations and a miserable foreign aid donor, we have slipped well down the list of good global citizens."

Political ideologies appear to have contributed to inequality and disadvantage in Australia in that time, he argues.

Fraser in large part blames "neoliberalism" and its influence on policymaking for the "disconnect between Australia's impressive economic growth story and its failure on so many markers to show progress towards a better, fairer society".

"Favouring the market system ahead of the state system, and individual interests ahead of community interests, can lead to profoundly unfair social outcomes.

More than three million Australians living in poverty, Acoss report reveals Read more

"Those unable to afford access to decent standards of housing, healthcare, and other essential services have to settle for inferior arrangements, or go without."

Fraser says charitable organisations see the effects of "real poverty" that result in "misery, anxiety and loss of self-esteem of mothers unable to put food on the table for their kids, of old and young homeless people, and the victims of domestic violence and drug overdoses".

Fraser summarises the key thrusts of neoliberalism as "the pursuit of the lowest possible rates of income and most other taxes and the maximum restraint on government interventions and spending programs".

Evidence in Australia and overseas shows the influence of neoliberalism on fiscal policy "and the misery and social polarisation that has come with it", he says.

The global financial crisis "should have" marked a tipping point, when the "idealised view of financial markets being self-regulating" was shattered. While Australia "avoided the worst traumas of the GFC" with prompt fiscal and monetary policy responses, in Europe "taxes were increased and spending programs slashed", resulting in a further five or six years of severe recession.

Fraser says that all political ideologies – taken to extremes – can be divisive and cause damage, including an ideology "based on a state system".

But the former Reserve Bank governor focuses on neoliberalism because it "remains in vogue". The Morrison government "continues to reaffirm its over-riding commitment to lower taxation, and to assert that this is the best way to increase investment, jobs and economic growth" - despite the lack of evidence to support the theory .

Although Fraser recognises that politics never can or should be taken out of policymaking, he suggests the best course is to "hammer away" at flaws of particular approaches.

For example, Fraser praises "the avoidance of costly tax cuts accruing to large corporations" as a positive development – referring to the Turnbull government abandoning the big business component of its $50bn 10-year company tax cut plan.

He suggests the "quick done-deal" of Labor signing up to the Coalition's proposed acceleration of the cut to taxes on small and medium business was an example that "political interests are always lurking nearby".

In a separate presentation Keating – who headed PM&C from 1991 to 1996 – warns the government's promise to cap expenditure while simultaneously cutting taxes and returning the budget to surplus is based on overly optimistic assumptions of growth in GDP, wages and productivity.

Why are stock markets falling and how far will they go? Read more

According to Keating, the government must stop assuming there have been no structural changes in the relationship between unemployment and the rate of wage increases.

He notes that predictions of a tightening labour market leading to higher wages are predicated on assumptions of growth averaging 3% or as much as 3.5%.

He will also say a sustained return to past rates of economic growth will be impossible unless we can ensure a reasonably equitable distribution of income, involving a faster rate of wage increases, especially for the low-paid.

[Dec 27, 2018] Nationalism can be a good thing. We have to make the case for it Discussion The Guardian

Dec 27, 2018 | www.theguardian.com

Eric Kaufmann, professor of politics at Birkbeck, has a forthcoming book, Whiteshift: Populism, Immigration and the Future of White Majorities . He argues that what I would call "bad nationalism" – the global surge in rightwing populism – is driven by large-scale immigration, and the threat it poses to the cultural identity of the ethnic majority. Some people fear change; they prefer the monocultural landscape in which they grew up, and visible changes to it threaten their sense of belonging and security. Certain attitudes are, if not hereditary, baked in to the point where they may as well be.

He supports this view with plentiful survey data, a favourite nugget being that the way you answer the question, "Would you prefer your children to be well-mannered, or to be considerate?" is a major predictor of whether you'd vote for or against Trump and Brexit .

The question is a proxy for what the cognitive linguist George Lakoff calls the strict father (well-mannered) versus the nurturant family (considerate) model. These frames are the timeless and elemental organising principles for our political divisions – authoritarian versus pluralist, right versus left – all the way back to Christ the Warrior versus Christ the Saviour.

I believe people respond to authoritarian and pluralist arguments according to who's making them, how trenchantly they are made, and the economic, media and political environment around them. Austerity soil has always been notoriously fertile for authoritarian ideas. Yet Kaufmann dismisses any economic factor, saying that had there been one, 2008 would have seen an upturn in rightwing nationalism, not 2017. My view is that depressions take years, not months, to grind people down.


UnstableGenius -> KingOfNothing , 9 May 2018 15:20

To me the key questions are how are the key decisions made and by whom are they made?

Globalism (not globalization, mind you) is a process whereby decisionmaking gets shifted farther and farther from the people and democratic accountability is continually weakened - ironically often with the rationale that we need this to "compete with China".

As a result, national borders (and therefore cultures) become less and less important and institutions like central banks, the EU, the WTO, etc. become ever more powerful. What you call neoliberalism is an effect - not the cause - of this phenomenon, in my opinion.

By the way, I agree with you that there is hope - in fact I am more optimistic today than I have been for many years - although probably for very different reasons than you.

DavidPavett -> formerlefty , 9 May 2018 15:16
I am quite sure that for the time being the nation state is an essential form of political and economic organisation. So I accept the necessity of nations. I reject nationalist ideologies which at best are confused, like ZW's argument, and at worst are very nasty things indeed.

I was stunned by the modernity of Renan's speech when I read it. Glad to see that it is available online. Hope you read it.

KingOfNothing -> UnstableGenius , 9 May 2018 15:01
No, thats not the case.

Globalisation is the ability to move goods/finance/ideas/culture around the global at speeds unheard of - there is no way to alter this, so your definition is inexact by quite a margin.

What is happening is neoliberalism - the economic sytem which has hijacked Globalisation - is playing havoc across the world.

These are not one and the same thing. Nationalism is a reaction to neoliberailsm, and the way it is concentrating wealth in the hands of the few.

Take a look at places like Finland, Norway and other parts of Europe, where they have restrained neoliberalism and do not have the same levels of inequality as in the USA or the UK. Japan is the most equal developed nation in the world. We need to marry strong democratic structures (at national and global level) with globalisation at the expense of neo-liberalism, not in support of it.

In short, your view is depressing and misguided. There is hope.

UnstableGenius -> KingOfNothing , 9 May 2018 14:15
Globalism is a system where a cosmopolitan class of technocratic elites makes all the decisions after talking among themselves in well-appointed conference rooms to which common people are not given access (think of what goes on in Brussels or in the ECB tower every day).
Democracy is something else.
In my opinion the two are mutually incompatible.
TheVixen -> hflashman , 9 May 2018 09:32
Yes, I'm talking about both British and non-British Muslims. Here's the clarification you're looking for: ICM Research for Channel 4 found that more than 100,000 British Muslims sympathize with suicide bombers and people who commit other terrorist acts. Moreover, only one in three British Muslims (34%) would contact the police if they believed that somebody close to them had become involved with jihadists.

In addition, 23% of British Muslims said Islamic Sharia law should replace British law in areas with large Muslim populations.

On social issues, 52% of the Muslims surveyed said they believe homosexuality should be illegal, compared to 22% of non-Muslim Britons.

39% of Muslims surveyed believe women should always obey their husbands, compared to 5% for non-Muslims. One in three British Muslims refuse completely to condemn the stoning of women accused of adultery.

Admittedly, this ICM survey is from 2016 so the picture may have improved, but I think you'll agree, these attitudes are quite a long way from the enlightenment values mentioned.

DavidPavett -> brexitman , 9 May 2018 07:21
Open borders and nationalism are really different issues. One can recognise the need for borders and border controls without convincing oneself that the people within a given border line are therefore endowed with some common essence about which they can feel pride or shame.

The pity about this is that liberal writers like ZW nearly always start from zero on this issue as if there wasn't a whole mass of discussion of a very detailed kind that has already taken place. Thus I would say that Ernest Renan's speech to the Surbonne in the 1880s published as What is a Nation? (reprinted in Shloma Sand's book On the Nation and the 'Jewish People' ) is well in advance of ZW's musings.

DavidPavett , 9 May 2018 03:37
I am with Einstein on this. He was once asked if he regarded himself as a German or a Jew. He replied: "I look upon myself as a man. Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind".
DavidPavett -> DrDeYoung , 9 May 2018 03:26
I found ZW's suggestion that "you do not need to be proud of Oliver Cromwell in order to be proud of Jessica Ennis-Hill" both revealing and ridiculous. If one is going to pick a figure from English history not to be proud of why on earth would one choose Cromwell? And on what grounds exactly does ZW feel proud of JE-H?

The Cromwell reference leads to a further point. Can the English, on ZW's argument, take pride in the actions of Scots prior to the Act of Union? And can they take pride in the actions of the Irish from Northern but not Southern Ireland?

I would nuance what you say just a little. Our actions contribute to producing not only things but also people. A parent can feel justified pride in the actions of his/her children as can a teacher in the actions of his/her pupils. There can also be a justified sense of collective pride for people who have contributed to that collective. ZW is right about that. She gets into a muddle when she tries to project this collective pride backwards in time to things we could have had no part in.

ponkala , 9 May 2018 02:13
People can be proud of their country , there is nothing wrong with it ,but when a country consists of many ethnic groups and religions, identifying the country only with majority ethno linguistic or religious group can lead to discrimination , alienation and resentment . This has led to civil wars in many regions. Canada and Switzerland are some of the exceptions where federal system and equalities of ethno linguistic groups have strengthened their countries .I would call this good nationalism.
On the other hand, many countries in Asia and Africa are suffering from the conflicts due to persecution or discrimination inflicted upon minorities from the majoritarian governments.
Modi in India is using the nationalistic card, trying to give an impression that the country only belongs to Hindus and Hindi speakers. In reality, India is not even a country , it is a collection of nation states with many ethnic groups , languages and religions which were united during the British rule. It is more diverse than the whole of Europe .However Modi is keen to perpetuate the myth India is homogenous , this natinalistic ideology might risk formenting divisions and conflicts in the future.I would call it 'bad nationalism '
joylessnortherner , 9 May 2018 00:50
Aren't we looking for the word patriotism as opposed to nationalism here Mz. Williams? I've always cleaved to Orwell's definitions of patriotism and nationalism. Predictably, nationalism gets short shrift.....largely because nationalism is dim, divisive and utterly undigestible for the vast majority of a nation at ease with itself. This is why Moggo, Bojo, Foxy and Gove prefer nationalism.

[Dec 27, 2018] Neoliberalism mantra: The dog eat dog economy simply represents our nature, it's who we are, we thrive under libertarianism.

Dec 27, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

Jas636 -> Friarbird , 4 Jun 2018 01:38

Why would I refute points that I agree with?

I'm not the one who has a problem with neo-liberalism, it's provided for me more than adequately. Having spent a lot of time living overseas, it's provided ALL Australians with a far better deal than a few billion others.

If you are too naive to see this, then maybe you need to try an alternative for a while. It's quite ok, i'll be waiting for when the alternative fails (they always do) and I can come back and pick off the assets from the carcus of that little experiment for less than a cent in the dollar.

The dog eat dog economy simply represents our nature, it's who we are, we thrive under libertarianism.

internationalist07 07 -> Jas636 , 4 Jun 2018 01:34
I think you mean Neo liberal utopia
Friarbird -> GoronwyPrice , 4 Jun 2018 01:31
Po-faced, Libertarian BOLLOCKS.
Privatisation is sucker-farming.
Milking the punters, like ants milk aphids.
Farming them, like bellbirds do with leaf-bugs.
And even THAT is only part of the equation.
The fondest goal, the one which gives the management class hard-ons ?
Privatisation de-unionises their workforces.
GreyBags -> Shiner01 , 4 Jun 2018 01:29
It is quite strange that the biggest supporters of neo-liberal economics with its belief that giving money to the rich will solve all our problems call themselves 'Christians'.

I can't remember when Jesus preached trickle down. I don't remember the bit where Jesus said to treat those seeking asylum and fleeing violence like they are the scum of the earth. I don't remember when Jesus said the poor needed a good kick in the guts while they are down to motivate them to work harder. I don't remember when Jesus said we should cut funds from the sick to balance the budget. I don't remember Jesus saying that if you bear false witness often enough then you will fool enough of the people enough to keep power so you can look after your corporate buddy buddies.

In fact, almost all of the politicians in the Coalition who proclaim to be 'Christian' must have their own secret bible because nothing I have heard from the New Testament justifies their actions.

Me, I'm an atheist and I have more care, consideration, ethics and compassion than the entire collection of right wing bible bashers sitting in parliament today.

Friarbird -> RobertJREYNOLDS , 4 Jun 2018 01:20
"......the scam that is neo-liberalism."

No throwaway line.
A 'farming the suckers' scam is all it ever was.
With a view to massive wealth transfer.

Hasn't it worked well ?

Ozponerised , 4 Jun 2018 01:19
Thanks for this. We need more of these articles pointing out the bullshit behind this story that the Coalition has been feeding the gullible peasantry with for over 30 years, sneering, smirking and sniggering as truckloads of public money goes to private corporations. The money received from selling off public assets has been shoved into private businesses who then feel very free to charge like bulls.
It's a shame so many folk still fall for this bullshit meaning that their own families, work colleagues and community get shafted through diminishing public services.