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Neoliberalism Bulletin, 2019

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[Feb 10, 2019] The 2008 crisis failed to displace neoliberalism's core principles

Notable quotes:
"... The hope that the crisis would give rise to a more progressive capitalism, however, proved to be premature. From the competing visions of recovery, the ascendance of austerity as both a political and an economic project paved the way for the construction of a new economically-elite-driven, capital-centric, shrunken welfare state model founded on a non-ideological, pragmatic, economic 'truth'. ..."
"... Contemporary welfare states now exist within a world in which austerity as a broad set of ideas, encompasses the liberal (in a Hayekian sense) desire to shrink the (social welfare) state, deregulate labour and promote private markets as the driver of growth. ..."
"... Nationalism, protectionism, and trade wars are widely reported and international organisations are taking a more obvious interest in inequality . More solid emerging evidence of a possible paradigmatic shift came most recently from none other than the IMF , perhaps the ..."
"... The post-crisis welfare terrain can be characterised as one of 'neo-austerity' – an emboldened set of claims for the residualisation of state welfare combined with spending to safeguard the power of economic elites. ..."
"... Neo-austerity implies not less, but more reliance on the state to enforce, support and compensate for social, political and economic losses. But while a range of discretionary social provisions and services, from public spaces to social care, are erased from the social citizenship balance sheet, demand is increased for state support for private business and pressures for 'social' investment . ..."
"... The rise of the nationalist Right is, in many ways a response to this counter-narrative. It has sought to capitalise on the discontent by promising a cure for the symptoms of austerity. But of course, nationalist politics do little or nothing to change the medicine! ..."
Feb 10, 2019 | lse.ac.uk

IMF speeches do little to confirm hopes that the crisis would give rise to a more progressive capitalism, write Kevin Farnsworth and Zoë Irving .

It is now over ten years since the collapse of Lehman Brothers paved the way for the biggest, most global, and most significant financial crisis in living memory. It brought the global capitalist economy to its knees, it shook belief and faith in the capitalist system itself, and raised serious doubts about neoliberalism.

The hope that the crisis would give rise to a more progressive capitalism, however, proved to be premature. From the competing visions of recovery, the ascendance of austerity as both a political and an economic project paved the way for the construction of a new economically-elite-driven, capital-centric, shrunken welfare state model founded on a non-ideological, pragmatic, economic 'truth'.

Contemporary welfare states now exist within a world in which austerity as a broad set of ideas, encompasses the liberal (in a Hayekian sense) desire to shrink the (social welfare) state, deregulate labour and promote private markets as the driver of growth. This has forced a reconfiguration of the fortunes of the wealthy, the interests of capital, the position of middle-income and poorer citizens, and the state itself. And the biggest losers have been the poorest citizens. Nor is this new politics driven simply by economic austerity. An austere politics has sapped the political imagination and robbed people of hope that things might, one day, get better. At every level austerity restricts the terms of debate.

Whilst the Left rail against the cruelty of austerity, for many on the Right the crisis and the ascendance of austerity politics represents a 'dream come true'. Or does it? Whilst the critical voices are often quiet, there remains a powerful counter-narrative which suggests that in exposing the limitations of neoliberalism, the global crisis and subsequent austerity created a backlash against globalisation and brought the wider costs of unfettered capitalism into public focus.

Nationalism, protectionism, and trade wars are widely reported and international organisations are taking a more obvious interest in inequality . More solid emerging evidence of a possible paradigmatic shift came most recently from none other than the IMF , perhaps the archetypal and unapologetic neoliberal institution , and one with the power to shape and frame the relationship between economies and welfare states.

For welfare state progressives, the possibility that austerity's social harms are gaining purchase in international and public discourse is heartening. However, as our research shows, there is little to feel optimistic about as far as the expansion of social policy is concerned. The post-crisis welfare terrain can be characterised as one of 'neo-austerity' – an emboldened set of claims for the residualisation of state welfare combined with spending to safeguard the power of economic elites.

This contrasts with post-war 'socialised austerity' , the 'permanent austerity' of the 1990s and the simple austerity of public expenditure cuts.

Neo-austerity implies not less, but more reliance on the state to enforce, support and compensate for social, political and economic losses. But while a range of discretionary social provisions and services, from public spaces to social care, are erased from the social citizenship balance sheet, demand is increased for state support for private business and pressures for 'social' investment . This is the key policy problematic that governments and international organisations are currently grappling with – this rather than the morality of inequality is the major contradiction within neoliberalism.

The rise of the nationalist Right is, in many ways a response to this counter-narrative. It has sought to capitalise on the discontent by promising a cure for the symptoms of austerity. But of course, nationalist politics do little or nothing to change the medicine!

The public statements of the IMF are an important discursive window through which to examine the strength of austerity in maintaining neoliberalism. Rather than coding the content of speeches ourselves, our approach let maths categorise the data. Our research utilised quantitative textual analysis (exploiting the capabilities of WordStat) to examine all public speeches by senior IMF representatives between 2004 and 2015.

The contradictions are clear but there is little to indicate that conviction in the economic fundamentals are on the wane. The IMF has at times appeared 'off-message' in its advice during the period of the Great Recession, but economic growth through private market development has remained its key priority. Unlike national governments, the IMF is an organisation playing the long and global game

... ... ...

Kevin Farnsworth – University of York -- is reader in international and comparative social policy at the University of York. His research interests include the political economy of welfare, welfare states and economic crisis and corporate welfare. He is author of Corporate Welfare versus social welfare (2012) and founder of corporate-welfare-watch. With Zoë Irving he is co-editor of the Journal of International and Comparative Social Policy. He tweets at @Dr_K_Farnsworth

Zoë Irving – University of York -- is senior lecturer in international and comparative social policy at the University of York. Her research interests include the international social politics of economic crisis and austerity with a special interest in Iceland. With Kevin Farnsworth she co-edited Social Policy in Challenging Times (2011) and Social Policy in Times of Austerity (2015)

[Feb 10, 2019] Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Exposes the Problem of Dark Money in Politics NowThis - YouTube

Highly recommended!
Feb 10, 2019 | www.youtube.com

Published on Feb 8, 2019

'We have a system that is fundamentally broken.' -- Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is explaining just how f*cked campaign finance laws really are.
" Subscribe to NowThis: http://go.nowth.is/News_Subscribe

In the latest liberal news and political news, New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez made headlines at a recent congressional hearing on money in politics by explaining and inquiring about political corruption. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, aka AOC, went into the issues of lobbyists and Super PACs and how the political establishment, including Donald Trump, uses big money to their advantage, to hide and obfuscate, and push crooked agendas. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez is a rising star in the Democratic Party and House of Representatives.

#AlexandriaOcasioCortez #AOC #DarkMoney #politics

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NowThis is your premier news outlet providing you with all the videos you need to stay up to date on all the latest in trending news. From entertainment to politics, to viral videos and breaking news stories, we're delivering all you need to know straight to your social feeds. We live where you live.

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Patrick NEZ , 2 days ago

Good for her. Unfortunately a number of American citizens aren't intelligent enough to realize this exact scenario is playing out right now!

Avembe , 2 days ago

OMG this lady is just a nuclear weapon by herself.

ATX World , 2 days ago

Love this feisty congresswoman. I can see why AOC is dislike by the right and even many democrats. She's in DC to work for the American ppl and not enrich herself or special interest. Love the 2018 class and hope they make changes and clean up DC.

TrueDaxian , 2 days ago

AOC is amazing, pointing out all the fundamental wrongs in our political system. I hope she stays in Congress as long as possible to spread her influence.

Lani Tuitupou , 2 days ago

True bravery and leadership in the face of corruption ! I love this woman

Michael Zinns , 2 days ago

AOC is speaking out when no one else will about the corruption in Washington. She is disliked because she is actually fighting for people. This makes me want to move to New York just so I can vote for her. Keep it up the pressure.

Aracelis Morales Garcia de Ramos , 2 days ago

She is going to be needing extra security. She's poised to take them down and we know how these things have been handled in the past. I'm loving her fearlessness but worry for her safety. May she be protected and blessed. SMIB

[Feb 10, 2019] Neoliberalism is dead. Now let's repair our democratic institutions by Richard Denniss

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... The opposite of a neoliberal economic agenda isn't a progressive economic agenda, but democratic re-engagement. Neoliberalism taught us that "there is no alternative" to cutting taxes, cutting services and letting the banks treat us as they see fit. But of course not even the Coalition believes that any more. These days they proudly subsidise their friends and regulate their enemies in order to reshape Australia in their preferred form. ..."
"... While the hypocrisy is staggering, at least voters can now see that politics, and elections, matter. Having been told for decades that it was "global markets" that shaped our society, it's now clear that it is actually the likes of Barnaby Joyce and Tony Abbott who decide whether we get new coal mines or power stations. Luckily, millions of voters now realise that if it's OK to subsidise new coal mines, there's no reason we can't subsidise renewables instead. ..."
"... So, what to nationalise? What new machinery of state should we build first? Should we create a national anti-corruption watchdog, replace the productivity commission with a national interest commission, or abolish the failed network of finance sector regulators and build a new one from scratch? ..."
"... The death of neoliberalism means we can finally have a national debate about the size and role of government, and the shape of the economy and society we want to build. ..."
"... class warfare (by the rich against the 99%, though I should not need to say that) is still very much alive. ..."
"... The rise of nationalism is indeed worrying situation.. but its clear that mass discontent is driving a 'shift' away from the status quo and that opportunists of every creed are all trying to get in on the action.. ..."
"... the elephant in the room that no one wants to discuss is population growth and lack of natural resources and meaningful 'employment' .. which self serving politicians are exploiting via playing the fear card and creating further division in society in order to embrace and increase their own power. Further more, no one, it seems, has any valid answers as regards resolving the division and creating a path forward.. thereby making more conflict an inevitability. ..."
"... Like Octopus, the globalists have every one of their eight legs in a different pot of gold. On their arms, suction cups maintain an iron grip. Trying to pull those suckers out, leaves us raw and bleeding. To release their grip, without hurting ourselves, we must aim for the brain. ..."
"... Murdoch's media empire has arms in every Democracy on earth. As his poisonous ink spread across our lands, we wallowed in the dark. ..."
"... The Oil and Coal Tycoons have arms in every black hole on earth. As their suckers pull black gold from the land beneath our feet, we choke on the air we breathe. ..."
"... The Financial Tyrants have arms in our buildings, factories, farms and homes. Their suckers stripped our pockets bare and we ran out of money. ..."
"... The False Prophets spread their arms into our private lives. Their suckers turned our modest, humble faiths into global empires filled with mega-churches, televangelists, jet-setting preachers and evangelical armies Hell bent on disruption and destruction. ..."
"... Neoliberalism may be dead but the former Trotskyites who invented it are still alive and they still have an agenda. ..."
"... Neo Liberalism was a project cooked up back in the late 1970s by the Capital owning classes & enacted by successive govts of "right" or "left" ever since. They feared the growing power of the working & middle classes which they felt threatened their own power & wealth. So they set out to destroy any ability of the working class to organise & to gut the middle class. ..."
"... Key to this was decoupling wages from productivity & forcing us all into debt peonage. Deregulation of the financial markets & the globalization of capital markets, disastorous multilateral trade deals & off shoring jobs, slashing state social programmes, Union busting laws all part of the plan. All covered with a lie that we live in meritocracies & the "best & brightest" are in charge. The result has been evermore riches funneled to the wealthiest few percent & a wealth gap bigger than that of the gilded age ..."
"... The majority press are so organised around the idea that neoliberalism in the sense captured economically and to some extent socially as construed in the article above; ..."
"... Rumours of neoliberalism's death have been somewhat exaggerated. Its been on life support provided by the LNP since John Howard and there are still a few market fundamentalists lurking in the ranks of the ALP, just waiting for their chance to do New Labor MkII in memory of Paul Keating. ..."
"... Neoliberalism's lasting legacy will not be the ludicrous economic programs, privatizations and deregulation, those can all be rolled back if some party would grow a spine. The real damage was caused by the aping of the US and UK's cult of individual responsibility, the atomizing effects of neoliberal anti-social policy and demonization of collective action including unionism. ..."
Oct 31, 2018 | www.theguardian.com

The opposite of a neoliberal economic agenda isn't a progressive economic agenda, but democratic re-engagement. Neoliberalism taught us that "there is no alternative" to cutting taxes, cutting services and letting the banks treat us as they see fit. But of course not even the Coalition believes that any more. These days they proudly subsidise their friends and regulate their enemies in order to reshape Australia in their preferred form.

While the hypocrisy is staggering, at least voters can now see that politics, and elections, matter. Having been told for decades that it was "global markets" that shaped our society, it's now clear that it is actually the likes of Barnaby Joyce and Tony Abbott who decide whether we get new coal mines or power stations. Luckily, millions of voters now realise that if it's OK to subsidise new coal mines, there's no reason we can't subsidise renewables instead.

Neoliberalism: the idea that swallowed the world Read more

The parliament is filling with people of all political persuasions who, if nothing else, decry the neoliberal agenda to shrink our government and our national vision. While there's obviously quite a distance between MPs who want to build the nation, one new coal mine at a time, and those who want to fill our cities with renewable energy, the whole purpose of democracy is to settle such disputes at the ballot box.

The Liberals want to nationalise coal-fired power stations and pour public money into Snowy 2.0 . The ALP want much bigger renewable energy targets and to collect more revenue by closing billions of dollars in tax-loopholes . The Greens want a publicly owned bank and some unions are pushing to nationalise aged care. It's never been a more exciting time to support a bigger role for government.

So, what to nationalise? What new machinery of state should we build first? Should we create a national anti-corruption watchdog, replace the productivity commission with a national interest commission, or abolish the failed network of finance sector regulators and build a new one from scratch?

... ... ...

The death of neoliberalism means we can finally have a national debate about the size and role of government, and the shape of the economy and society we want to build. But we need to do more than talk about tax and regulation. Australia is one of the oldest parliamentary democracies in the world, and we once helped lead the world in the design of democratic institutions and the creation of an open democratic culture. Let's not allow the legacy of neoliberalism to be a cynical belief that there is no point repairing and rebuilding the democratic institutions that ensure not just our economy thrives, but our society as well. A quick look around the world provides clear evidence that there really are a lot of alternatives.

Richard Denniss is chief economist for the Australia Institute


R_Ambrose_Raven , 1 Nov 2018 16:38

Mmmm, well, class warfare (by the rich against the 99%, though I should not need to say that) is still very much alive.

Globalisation-driven financial deregulation was commenced here by Hawke Labor from 1983 as a Laberal facade for the Australian chapter of the transnational ruling class policy of self-enrichment. It was sold to the aspirationals as the ever-popular This Will Make You Rich - as ever-rising house prices did, for home-owners then (paid for now through housing unaffordability for their descendants). Then, transnational capital was able to loot both aspirationals' productivity gains (easily 10% of GDP) plus usurious interest from the borrowings made by the said aspirationals (easily 6% of GDP) to keep up with the Joneses. Now, it loots 90% of all increases in GDP, leaving just 10% in crumbs from the filthy rich man's table for 15 million workers to share.

We don't notice as much as we should, because the mainstream (mainly but not only Murdoch) media is very good at persuading us - then and now - that there is nothing to see. It is a tool of that transnational class, its role being to manufacture our consent to our own exploitation. Thus they play the man because it is politically easier than open demands that the public be robbed. In the case of penalty rates, thus adopting the obvious hypocrisy of which "The Australian" accuses Shorten. Or they play the woman, in the case of the ferocious, relentless media vilification of Julia Gillard and Gillard Labor – five years after the demonization of Gillard Labor's Great Big New (Carbon) Tax, the need for one is now almost universally accepted. Or they play the players, hence a focus on Dutton's challenge that pretends that he has meaningful policies.

Labor's class traitors clearly intended to aggressively apply the standard neoliberal model – look at how it helps their careers after politics (ask Anna Blight)! Shorten is not working to promote some progressive agenda, he is doing as little as possible, and expects to simply be voted into The Lodge as a committed servant of transnational capitalism.

Colinn -> bushranga , 1 Nov 2018 16:14
Wait till the revolution comes and we get the bastards up against the wall.
Colinn , 1 Nov 2018 15:53
I stopped voting 40 years ago because the voting system is mathematically rigged to favor the duopoly. Until a large number of minor parties can share their preferences and beat the majors, which is now starting to happen. This is not just voting for a good representative, but voting against the corrupt parties. A minority government should lead to proper debate in parliament. More women will lead to lower levels of testosterone fuelled sledging and better communication. A "Coalition of Representative Independents" could form government in the future, leading by consensus and constantly listening to the community.
tjt77 -> BlueThird , 1 Nov 2018 11:35
The rise of nationalism is indeed worrying situation.. but its clear that mass discontent is driving a 'shift' away from the status quo and that opportunists of every creed are all trying to get in on the action..

The big nut to crack is HOW do we collectively find sane and honest leadership ? A huge part of the problem is the ongoing trend of disdain for government in favor of embracing private monopolies as the be all and end all for solving the ongoing societal rift. .. which has created a centralization of wealth and the power that that wealth yields.. allied to the fact that huge swaths of the population in EVERY nation were hiding when the brains were allocated.. and hence are very easy to dupe..

the elephant in the room that no one wants to discuss is population growth and lack of natural resources and meaningful 'employment' .. which self serving politicians are exploiting via playing the fear card and creating further division in society in order to embrace and increase their own power. Further more, no one, it seems, has any valid answers as regards resolving the division and creating a path forward.. thereby making more conflict an inevitability.

MeRaffey , 1 Nov 2018 08:05
Like Octopus, the globalists have every one of their eight legs in a different pot of gold. On their arms, suction cups maintain an iron grip. Trying to pull those suckers out, leaves us raw and bleeding. To release their grip, without hurting ourselves, we must aim for the brain.

Murdoch's media empire has arms in every Democracy on earth. As his poisonous ink spread across our lands, we wallowed in the dark.

The Oil and Coal Tycoons have arms in every black hole on earth. As their suckers pull black gold from the land beneath our feet, we choke on the air we breathe.

The Financial Tyrants have arms in our buildings, factories, farms and homes. Their suckers stripped our pockets bare and we ran out of money.

The False Prophets spread their arms into our private lives. Their suckers turned our modest, humble faiths into global empires filled with mega-churches, televangelists, jet-setting preachers and evangelical armies Hell bent on disruption and destruction.

Denniss offers us the cure! Start thinking fresh and new and starve the globalists to death. They fed us BS, we ate BS and now we are mal-nourished. We need good, healthy ideas.

Land. Infrastructure. Time.

Time - "WE" increased productivity and the globalists stole the rewards. Time to increase our FREE time. 32 hours is the NEW full time. Pay us full time wages, give us full time benefits, and reduce our work days by 20% and suddenly we have 20% more jobs. As the incomes of billionaires drop, the money in circulation will increase. We are the job creators - not globalists.

21st Century Infrastructure is about healthy human beings - not the effing economy. Think healthcare, education, senior care and child care. If we find out you have sent your money off-shore, your local taxes will increase by ten. So please, do, send your money off-shore - our cities and towns would love to increase taxes on your stores, offices and real estate by ten.

No more caps on taxes. If you are a citizen, you pay social taxes on every dime you get. In America you will be paying 15.3% of every dollar to social security. That's $153,000.00 a year for every million dollars you take out of our economy.

Land is not something you put in a museum, lock away in a vault, or wear on your neck. Think fresh and new. If you own land, you are responsible for meeting community rules.

No more empty, weed filled lots allowed. If you have empty land, you better put in a nice garden, pretty trees and walkways or we will do it for you and employ "eminent-domain" on your bank accounts to pay for it.

No more empty buildings. If you own an empty building you will put it to good use, or we will do it for you - and keep the profits to fund our local governments, schools, hospitals, and senior/child care centers.

No more slumlords allowed. We have basic standards, for everyone. If we catch you renting a slum to anyone, we will make repairs for you, and if you do not pay the bill, we will put a lien on your building and wait until you sell it to pay ourselves back.

We do not trust you big-box types anymore. If you want to build your mega-store in our cities, towns or communities, you must, first, deposit the entire cost of tearing it down, and landscaping a park, or playground when you leave. While you stay, we will invest your deposit in index funds and assure ourselves enough money down the road.

Sorry you BIG guys and gals, but you will find our countries are very expensive places for you to invest. We put our families, our neighborhoods and our lives first.

Proselytiser -> FarmerDave , 1 Nov 2018 07:30
That would be fantastic.

However - and it's a big however - there is a very real danger that at the next election the libs will again win by default due to the fact that many traditional labour voters are defecting to the greens instead. Sadly, LNP supporters are a lot less likely to vote green. Our best hope is to wipe the LNP out at the next election by voting labour, and then at the election after that establishing the greens in opposition. It is unfortunatly unlikely to happen at the next election....and I just hope that voters in certain seats understand that by voting for the greens they might be in fact unwittingly handing the reins back to the least green party of all: the LNP.

childofmine , 1 Nov 2018 04:04
Neoliberalism may be dead but the former Trotskyites who invented it are still alive and they still have an agenda.
Idiotgods , 1 Nov 2018 03:25
Neo Liberalism was a project cooked up back in the late 1970s by the Capital owning classes & enacted by successive govts of "right" or "left" ever since. They feared the growing power of the working & middle classes which they felt threatened their own power & wealth. So they set out to destroy any ability of the working class to organise & to gut the middle class.

Key to this was decoupling wages from productivity & forcing us all into debt peonage. Deregulation of the financial markets & the globalization of capital markets, disastorous multilateral trade deals & off shoring jobs, slashing state social programmes, Union busting laws all part of the plan. All covered with a lie that we live in meritocracies & the "best & brightest" are in charge. The result has been evermore riches funneled to the wealthiest few percent & a wealth gap bigger than that of the gilded age

Phalaris -> fabfreddy , 1 Nov 2018 03:18
The essential infrastructure to ensure a base level quality of life for all. Really it's not difficult. What are you afraid of?
Phalaris , 1 Nov 2018 03:15
The majority press are so organised around the idea that neoliberalism in the sense captured economically and to some extent socially as construed in the article above; as normal and natural that nothing can be done. As the system folds we see in its place Brexit, neoconservatism, Trump.

This is not new found freedom or Liberatarianism but a post liberal world where decency and open mindedness and open nuanced debate take a a back seat to populism and demagoguery.

Citizen0 , 1 Nov 2018 00:52
The whole purpose of Anglophone liberal democracy has been twofold: 1. to establish and protect private property rights and 2. TO guarantee some individual liberties. Guess who benefits from the enshrinement of private property rights as absolute? Big owners, and you know who they are. ... Individual tights are just not that sacred, summon the latest bogeyman, and they can be shrunken or tossed.
Alan Ritchie , 31 Oct 2018 22:24
Neoliberalism, the economic stablemate of big religion's Prosperity Evangelism cult. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prosperity_theology . Dual streams of bull shit to confuse the citizens while the Country's immense wealth is stolen.
PaulC_Fitzroy -> Bearmuchly , 31 Oct 2018 22:19
I certainly agree with you.

It seems there's been a turning point recently though in the ideas of neoliberalism, as pointed out by Denniss that suddenly it's okay for all and sundry to talk about nationalising industries and infrastructure. It will probably take a couple of decades to turn things around in practical ways. And there are surely plenty of powerful supporters of the ideas of neoliberalism still around.

HonestQuestion , 31 Oct 2018 19:00
Is neo-liberalism really dead or is it wishful thinking?
If neo-liberalism really is on the decline in Australia, all i can say is bravo to Australia, use this opportunity to build a stronger government and regain the terrain that was lost during the TINA (there is no alternative) years.
Here in Canada neo-liberalism is stronger than ever, maybe because of the proximity to the cancerous tumor at the south, so when i read this article, i did it with a bit of skepticism but also with a bit of envy and a bit of hope for the future.
MrTallangatta , 31 Oct 2018 18:58
Neoliberalism is *not* dead, and it is counter-productive to claim that it is. It is clearly the driver of what passes for policy by the LNP government. Just as trickle-down economics remains as the basis of the government's economic actions.
sangela -> mikedow , 31 Oct 2018 18:50
I love it!!
Nintiblue , 31 Oct 2018 18:48
It will look like it's dead when back bone services and infrastructure utilities are returned to public ownership.

Those things are not fit for market style private ownership for a few big reasons:

They are by their nature natural monopolies (so a market private ownership won't work and will rapidly creep up prices of reduced service precisely because they not in a natural market context.

These core services and utilities are mega scale operations beyond a natural market ROI value.

These core sovereign services and utilities, are nation critical to the national economy and political stability. The last thing we want to do is hand that sovereign power over to private control.

PaulMan , 31 Oct 2018 18:47
Australia is a very fortunate country. It enjoys national sovereignty, unshackled by crippling bonds to anything like the neoliberal EU. It is thus able to concentrate on solving its own issues.
StephenO -> ildfluer , 31 Oct 2018 18:47
When The Guardian's editorial staff goes down to Guatamala City, they can stand on a soap box in front of Subway sandwich or McDonalds or Radio Shack.

Europe doesn't do socialism. It's a capitalist system with a high rate of taxes to support a generous social welfare.

sangela -> Matt4720 , 31 Oct 2018 18:46
Jane is too radical and progressive for Warringah...maybe they don't know that?
sangela , 31 Oct 2018 18:45
Great article. Must say that we do have more than one vote per electorate. They're called preference votes. Kerryn Phelps get 23% of the primary PLUS a heap of preferences! But a proportional system would change a whole lot of results
ildfluer -> Matt4720 , 31 Oct 2018 18:41
Yes. But only if she relinquishes her British citizenship in time.
Fred1 -> Alpo88 , 31 Oct 2018 18:38
Firstly we are not in America. America is a basket case and has been since, well, forever.

Secondly the so called "housing crisis" is a simple consequence of a growing population. In the 1950s there were just 8m people in Australia, there 10m in the 1960s and 12m in the 1970s. And, no, neo-liebralism didn't cause the growing population. People having sex and living longer caused the growing population. It is therefore all the more remarkable that we have actually built enough houses to house a population which has doubled in size.

Thirdly, in the last 30 years 1 billion people have been lifted out of poverty. When you talk about huge, unprecedented, un-fucking-believable levels of poverty, super-massive inequality, dissatisfaction (Really? This is now a measure?), unemployment/sub-employment and casualization, collapse (collapse?) of public services, high(er) costs of living.....do you think you're being a little overly dramatic?

Do you really think it all comes to back to one silly economic theory?

Nothing to do with the reality of automation, globalisation, growing populations and the realities of living in 2018 rather than 1978?

Are voters around the world going hard against Neoliberalism? (I note it's now a capitalised term).

In the US they voted for a billionaire who blamed immigrants for people's problems while promising tax and spending cuts.....sounds like an even more extreme version of neo-liberlaism to me.

In Britain they voted for Brexit to....oh that's right....kick out immigrants and burn "red tape".

In Brazil, yep, more neo-liberalism on steroids.

In fact, looking around the world it's actually the far right which are seizing power.

And this is the issue with the obsessive preoccupation with community decline. It feeds directly into the hands of fascism and the far right.

I'm not saying things are perfect. I would prefer to see much more government investment. The only way we'll get that is to educate ourselves about how government finances work so that we're not frightened off by talk of deficits.

However, by laying this all on the door of one rather silly economic theory is to ignore that economics is nothing without human beings. It is human beings who are responsible for all of the good and bad in the world. No theory is going change that. If the world is the way it is it's because humans made it like this.

The "deterioration of the environment"? We did that not neo-liberalism .....

JustInterest , 31 Oct 2018 18:37
In answer to the headline article question, yes WE citizens should collectively strive to think radically, bigger and better than the existing status quo.

PAY CITIZENS TO VOTE!

We must bypass the vested interests and create a new system which encourages active, regular participation in democracy.... lest we wake up one day and realise too late that, by stealth and citizen apathy, the plutocrats and their corporate fascist servants have usurped our nation state, corrupted our law and weakened our institutions, to such a point that our individual rights are permanently crushed.

Change is coming, like it or not. This century - there is great risk to society that advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics and lifespan enhancing genetic engineering will be used by ultra-rich plutocrats to make the vast majority of humanity redundant (within a couple of generations).

Citizens should advocate for DIRECT DEMOCRACY in which citizens are PAID on a per vote per issue basis (subject to verification checks that support the rewarding of effort- citizens should be asked to first demonstrate that they have made effort to obtain sufficient knowledge on a particular topic, prior to being rewarded for their service of voting. Such a process can be opt-in, those who want to be paid, work to do so by learning about the governance issue which is to be voted upon. In this way, a minimum wage can be obtained by direct citizen participation in the governance of communities and our nation). We have the technologies TODAY to undertake open-ledger, smart-phone enabled, digital/postal voting on a per issue basis... which can be funded by EFFECTIVE taxation on large multinational corporations and ultra-wealthy (foreign) shareholders. Citizen will is needed to influence change - the major political parties did not want a Federal ICAC and they certainly will not support paid direct citizen democracy unless voters overwhelming demand it.

Citizens already accept that politicians are paid to vote (and frequently "rewarded" for their "service" to large corporations and wealthy (foreign) shareholders by unethical, corrupt means). Thus, in principle, why can society not collectively accept direct payment to citizens for their individual vote upon an issue? Why do citizens continue to accept archaic systems of democracy which have clearly FAILED to meet the needs of our population in the 21st century?

Citizens are not sufficiently politically engaged in democracy and their civic responsibilities BECAUSE they are not incentivised to do so and because they are economic slaves without the luxury of time to sort through deliberate overload of disinformation, distortion, distraction and deception. Citizens are struggling to obtain objective understanding and to think critically because these crucial functions of democracy are innately discouraged by our existing 20th century economy (that is, slaves are busy support the systems of plutocrats in order that they may live, ants to a queen).

We must advocate for change in the systems of democracy which are failing our communities, our nation, our planet. For too long, plutocrats and their servants have maintained control over economic slaves and the vast majority of the population because citizens have accepted the status quo of being governed by the powerful.

Technology has permanently changed our species. We must all collectively act before innate human greed, lust for power and fear of loss of control (by the wealthy few) lead the majority on an irrational path toward destruction - using the very technologies which helped set us free from the natural world!

JustInterest -> NoSoupforNanna , 31 Oct 2018 18:35
In answer to the headline article question, yes WE citizens should collectively strive to think radically, bigger and better than the existing status quo.
PAY CITIZENS TO VOTE!

We must bypass the vested interests and create a new system which encourages active, regular participation in democracy.... lest we wake up one day and realise too late that, by stealth and citizen apathy, the plutocrats and their corporate fascist servants have usurped our nation state, corrupted our law and weakened our institutions, to such a point that our individual rights are permanently crushed.

Change is coming, like it or not. This century - there is great risk to society that advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics and lifespan enhancing genetic engineering will be used by ultra-rich plutocrats to make the vast majority of humanity redundant (within a couple of generations).

Citizens should advocate for DIRECT DEMOCRACY in which citizens are PAID on a per vote per issue basis (subject to verification checks that support the rewarding of effort- citizens should be asked to first demonstrate that they have made effort to obtain sufficient knowledge on a particular topic, prior to being rewarded for their service of voting. Such a process can be opt-in, those who want to be paid, work to do so by learning about the governance issue which is to be voted upon. In this way, a minimum wage can be obtained by direct citizen participation in the governance of communities and our nation). We have the technologies TODAY to undertake open-ledger, smart-phone enabled, digital/postal voting on a per issue basis... which can be funded by EFFECTIVE taxation on large multinational corporations and ultra-wealthy (foreign) shareholders. Citizen will is needed to influence change - the major political parties did not want a Federal ICAC and they certainly will not support paid direct citizen democracy unless voters overwhelming demand it.

Citizens already accept that politicians are paid to vote (and frequently "rewarded" for their "service" to large corporations and wealthy (foreign) shareholders by unethical, corrupt means). Thus, in principle, why can society not collectively accept direct payment to citizens for their individual vote upon an issue? Why do citizens continue to accept archaic systems of democracy which have clearly FAILED to meet the needs of our population in the 21st century?

Citizens are not sufficiently politically engaged in democracy and their civic responsibilities BECAUSE they are not incentivised to do so and because they are economic slaves without the luxury of time to sort through deliberate overload of disinformation, distortion, distraction and deception. Citizens are struggling to obtain objective understanding and to think critically because these crucial functions of democracy are innately discouraged by our existing 20th century economy (that is, slaves are busy support the systems of plutocrats in order that they may live, ants to a queen).

We must advocate for change in the systems of democracy which are failing our communities, our nation, our planet. For too long, plutocrats and their servants have maintained control over economic slaves and the vast majority of the population because citizens have accepted the status quo of being governed by the powerful.

Technology has permanently changed our species. We must all collectively act before innate human greed, lust for power and fear of loss of control (by the wealthy few) lead the majority on an irrational path toward destruction - using the very technologies which helped set us free from the natural world!

exTen , 31 Oct 2018 17:13
Richard went off the rails in his opening sentence: "The opposite of a neoliberal economic agenda isn't a progressive economic agenda, but democratic re-engagement."

I say this because economically misinformed democratic engagement is a shackle around democracy, at best, if not fatal to democracy. And the biggest and most fundamental misinformation, spouted every bit as much by ALP and Greens as the Libs, is that we must strive for a "sustainable surplus".

As Richard rightly observes, "Neoliberalism taught us that "there is no alternative" to cutting taxes, cutting services and letting the banks treat us as they see fit. But of course not even the Coalition believes that any more." But that doesn't stop them, or Labor, or the Greens from guaranteeing the continuance of the neoliberal cut & privatise mania by insisting that they believe in "budget repair" and "return to surplus" - an insistence which their economically illiterate or misled supporters accept. If you believe in the obviously ridiculous necessity for a currency issuer to run balanced budgets, you are forced into invalid neoliberal thinking, into accepting a false "necessity" for cuts and privatisations, or economy-sedating taxation increases.

Thorlar1 , 31 Oct 2018 08:13
Rumours of neoliberalism's death have been somewhat exaggerated. Its been on life support provided by the LNP since John Howard and there are still a few market fundamentalists lurking in the ranks of the ALP, just waiting for their chance to do New Labor MkII in memory of Paul Keating.

Neoliberalism's lasting legacy will not be the ludicrous economic programs, privatizations and deregulation, those can all be rolled back if some party would grow a spine. The real damage was caused by the aping of the US and UK's cult of individual responsibility, the atomizing effects of neoliberal anti-social policy and demonization of collective action including unionism.

All of which have hastened the atrophy of our democracy.

First things first lets get rid of the neo-liberal national dinosaurs still wallowing in parliament unaware of the mass extinction awaiting them in March next year. At the same time vote in a minority Labor government with enough independent cross benchers, including a preponderance of Greens to keep the bastards honest.

Then just maybe we can start looking at the wider project of repairing Australian society and democracy while we try and reverse the near-decade of damage the LNP have done with their dangerous pro-fossil fuel stance, their insane climate change denial and hypocritical big business friendly economic policies.

Should be a snap!

exTen -> Loco Jack , 31 Oct 2018 08:05
The irony is that it's simple. It's the Heath Robinson contraptions that the economic priesthood for the plutocracy snow us with that are complicated, that turn us off economic thinking because they are impenetrable and make no sense. The simplicity comes from accepting the blinding obvious truth, once you think about it. The federal government is the monopoly issuer of the AUD. The rest of the world are users, not issuers. Its "budgets" are not our budgets. Nothing like them. Kind of the opposite. Its surpluses are the economy's deficits. Its deficits are the economy's surpluses.

[Feb 10, 2019] Neoliberalism's great strength is its ability to divide and rule effectively via its emphasis on individual responsibility and its insistence (as Thatcher cynically thundered) that there is no such thing as society.

Feb 10, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com

KiwiInStraya , 16 Oct 2018 22:14

Neoliberalism is about maintaining success to the successful. As such, the policy has delivered as promised.
Runerunner -> Fred1 , 16 Oct 2018 22:08
No fred but I've seen a lot of places with the 9 billion and there isn't much there now, just ruined deserts.

Just seeing the chaos in Egypt in 2012 was enough and that huge population fighting over fuel, water and food is around 75% under the age of 25.

I don'r believe we do have bigger problems than the population explosion.

CaptainFlacid , 16 Oct 2018 22:06
Neoliberalism has been a spectacular failure that has seen the rich get richer and the poor more indebted to them.
20thcenturycoyote , 16 Oct 2018 21:55
Show me a neoliberal and I'll show you a self-serving prick with an over-inflated sense of self-entitlement.
Mikey70 , 16 Oct 2018 21:36
Former RBA governor says "Coalition pursues low-tax road to jobs and growth despite lack of evidence to support it"

The incumbent political cabal of grifters and leaners aren't interested in evidence, for the self righteous it has always been inconvenient & unnecessary.

Bearmuchly , 16 Oct 2018 21:34
Neo liberal capitalism is based on the premise that the Govt. sector
has a minimal role to play in the economy in a regulatory manner
, in the provision of goods/services and in redistributing wealth
........basically, the less Govt. the better.

As a starting point, it is best to consider what level of services
society expects from Govt. and to cost these, that then gives
you an amount of revenue required to fund these.......in Australia
our figure in 2017 was 28.2% of GDP (which also allowed for a
$6.2b. deficit and for some debt repayment)...the Federal share of this
was 21.6 % of GDP. In the world of wealthy countries (the OECD)
we sit at 27th of 35 ie: we are a low taxing country....the OECD average
is 34.3%.

The next part of any debate is what range and quality of services we expect
...in the US their social services/$'s provided by Govt. has plummeted by 50%
since neo liberalism was introduced (the Reagan era) whilst, for example Defence/
Security has risen by 5% of GDP and is by far the highest proportion in the world.
In Australia our proportions have changed far less......even with Medicare,
PBS, Child care subsidies, Education spending etc. our revenue rate has
dropped from an average of 33.5% of GDP to an average of 26.2% since the
1980's. (NDIS is too recent to be included but will up the ante).

The next step to consider is WHERE will the revenue come from and this
is where we have NOT followed the US in their lunacy.......since Reagan
their tax take from corporate profits and income taxes from the rich have
plummeted (and their deficits risen inexorably).

Putting it simply, Australia has indeed swallowed the neoliberal pill, but
has largely preserved its social amenity and the size of its Govt. sector.
It has privatised much but kept many aspects in public hands eg; much
of our healthcare. The pressures continue to privatise more, however
it still sees the Govt. being the funder but not the provider.....THAT has
been our massive change. Our reality has also been that household
incomes have been stagnant for years for at least 50% of our population
(it is worse in the US) as have been our income support payments ie:
Pensions and benefits (especially the latter that have gone backwards).
and our social mobility ie: the support/opportunity for people to move
from low to higher incomes (mostly via higher educational achievement)
have also stagnated in many cohorts.......in other words neoliberalism
has changed Australia, it has allowed the affluent and rich to improve
their situations but has seen stagnation for everyone else .......not
exactly a success after > 35 years, but at least not as bad as the US !

LovelyDaffodils , 16 Oct 2018 21:32
Neo-liberalism and it's form of capitalism is obviously not working; it's more of a Ponzi scheme, and causes societal division and inequality to an extreme. These intransigent politicians will keep taking us down the road of destruction unless we stop them.

Morrison and his cohort are dangerous, very dangerous, and will become even worse because what they do is transparent, and we let them get away with it. To them, they see their positions of power, and their actions, as being approved by the voting public to keep the unethical behaviour going.

Cosmo_Wilson , 16 Oct 2018 21:32
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Bewareofnazihippies , 16 Oct 2018 21:32
Neo-liberalism = Failed Democracy/Corrupt government/Corporate feudalism.
Really no other way to describe it, and it's consequences.
And more and more people are waking up to this fact.
It's the 'what to do about it' that is the problem.
Overturn the government?
Revolution?
Bring back the tumbrils?
Personally, I'd think an aware, involved, and empowered citizenry would be the best solution.
Runerunner -> happylittledebunkera , 16 Oct 2018 21:30
Capitalism has brought lots of debt to the masses. $4 trillion of it in fact and that will lead to poverty and misery if it can't be paid back readily.
Capitalism is fine until it enters this debt binge stage and then it needs a great big correction to get it back on an even keel.
leon depope -> HellBrokeLuce , 16 Oct 2018 21:29
Since the 1980's and Thatcher and Reagan, the dominant political and economic rational has been neo-liberalism. Even under Blair and Brown (labour PM's in the UK) the thinking was neo-liberalism, as it largely was under Rudd and Gillard in Australia.
It is decades of right wing thinking which has been all pervasive in western societies and it will take decades to correct the faults that have been created in society; starting with changing the perceived accepted idea that govts do not exist to create jobs and that we exist, as individuals, to serve the economy (as is evidenced by the punishing of the unemployed and the drive to get women back into work as soon as possible after having children).
Thorlar1 , 16 Oct 2018 20:24
Its not so much polarisation as atomisation.

Neoliberalism's great strength is its ability to divide and rule effectively via its emphasis on individual responsibility and its insistence (as Thatcher cynically thundered) that there is no such thing as society.

In the absence of any kind of inspirational narrative or indeed hope, the morally bankrupt LNP have actually come to believe their own TINA propaganda. Their impoverished imaginations just can't imagine any other way of maintaining the status quo for their constituency than by keeping as much of the population as possible undereducated but surviving sufficiently to be jealous of what they have and fearful of the state taking it away.

An atomised population is one in which daily life, in the words of Thomas Hobbes, is a 'war of all against all'. How pathetic that conservative governments in 2018 remain intent on driving us back to a 'state of nature' Hobbes was condemning in 1651.

While our governments continue to be run by and for the benefit of big business and the wealthy at the expense of the rest of society, low-taxing neoliberal dogma will remain the order of the day.

Oneron , 16 Oct 2018 20:19
Dear Bernie, when have ideologues of any persuasion ever, ever relied on evidence...

The Neo-liberal project was conceived as an ideology- a way to hollow out the democratic legitimacy, and replace it with a Corporatocracy... This was based less on an economic rationale but more as a reaction to the democratization of voices and the challenges they posed to the 'old world' spheres of authority and power that emerged front he 60's and early 70's.
The Washington Consensus was the ideological product of this reaction- so vigorously championed by Reagan and Thatcher- who could forget her silly remark that there is no such thing as a society...
That's why the electorate in today's democratic countries seem to be only left with "rhetorical" Leaders- windbags, whose pronouncements signify nothing.

Fred1 , 16 Oct 2018 20:08
I'm not a conspiracy theorist but* if was I would say that the lizard people introduced the word "neo-liberalism" to distract people from the real issues......

But seriously, what the hell do people even mean by this term? darkbluedragon bless his/her/their/its cotton socks has done his/her/their/its best to explain what it is. In fact, if in 2019 we no longer identify along the lines of traditional gender roles why does anyone think we can agree on a over-arching economic theory which apparently is responsible for all of the woes in the world?

And actually the premise of all of this is of course how shit everything is today. People love talking about how the world was so much better 40 years ago or whenever. You know when women and minorities were discriminated against and so there were more jobs for white men. Good times I say.

The reality is that the world is the way it is because of people. If neo-liberalism is all about greed and meanness then frankly it's because people are greedy and mean. 100 years ago we were killing each other with bayonets. Bankers screwing vulnerable customers is an improvement compared to that shit.

Many people who talk about "neo-liebralism" in the political sense instead of the economic sense are also terrified of government deficits and think government finances are like a households. So what are you going to do?

If we're all going to become economists overnight (which I would strongly advise against) then we may as well go the whole hog and understand the other side of the coin i.e. the different monetary theories. But no side of the coin is going to be perfect because....because....people, people. People in the shit sense and a people in the glorious sense. People in all senses....

*Why does "I'm not.....but" always mean "I am"? I'm not racist but...I don't mean to be rude but........

JustAnotherPenguin , 16 Oct 2018 20:06
During their undergraduate years future politicians and business people learn about ideas that then form the foundations of their understanding of the world and how it works. Unfortunately, while the scholarship moves on, the politicians and business people don't, having dedicated their lives to their careers. So we end up with governments of people operating on principles some decades out of date, and often discredited. And when they want advice, who do they turn to? Not academia (and if they do they usually ignore it), but to business people, who are working off the same base.
It is often noticed that politicians in the twenty-first century seem to be applying nineteenth century solutions to twentieth century problems. What can be done?
Foxlike , 16 Oct 2018 19:55
Bring on the royal commission into privatisation!

In the absence of an RC, then at least a twenty-year comparative analysis of the economic and social 'benefits' (few) and costs (incalculable) of privatisation to the taxpayers of Australia, and the 'benefits' (massive) and costs (none) to the private sector. Surely someone has his data at their fingertips?

1908kangaroos , 16 Oct 2018 19:48
Neoliberalism is usually just a term to justify selfish arseholes making more money, usually by ripping off workers..
Bho Ghan-Pryde , 16 Oct 2018 19:33
At long freaking last some sanity is creeping back into the discussion of economics amongst those who have run the economy. Neo-liberal capitalism has run its course. It ended ten years ago in the GFC and probably before. Whatever good it has done is being undone in its extremes.


Even the capitalists at capitalist central do not believe in capitalism. When broke during the GFC they declared they were "too big to fail" and so market forces no longer applied to them. The people who own and run the capitalist system have long abandoned it but the Corporate State and its serfs - such as the liberal party - want to foist it on the peasants as a means of control.


The "too big to fail" capitalists park their business risk in the treasuries of the West and pocket the profits and then blame the poor for the lack of public money. It would be funny if it wasn't doing so much damage.

On climate change capitalism has failed. It has no way to deal with such an emergency. Capitalism has always taken such things as clean air, water and land from others without compensation and turned them into massive profit for the few. It can never tackle climate change as it means paying for environmental damage and other public resources and that contradict centuries of capitalist exploitation.
The answer for the right-wing neo-liberal capitalist is what it has always been when confronted with the contradictions of capitalism. Racism and division. Exactly what the IPA-liberal party has been about this last week big time. It is all normal for this system.

Isitruegoodoruseful , 16 Oct 2018 19:21
Because its based on Neo-Classical economics. A universally enforced scam economic dogma designed by and for the rich landowning classes to destroy any attempt at land value taxation.
https://www.prosper.org.au/2007/11/07/the-corruption-of-economics /

[Feb 10, 2019] The future of capitalism in emerging markets

Feb 10, 2019 | www.brookings.edu

Following the twin shocks of 2016 -- the U.K. Brexit vote and the election of Donald Trump in the U.S. -- right-leaning nationalism and populism appear to be gaining steam, buoyed by the public's dissatisfaction with globalization. At the same time, the political left is also growing more ambitious and confident; for instance, according to one recent poll, Americans aged 18-29 have a more positive view of socialism than of capitalism. Overall, the elite consensus surrounding the neoliberal economic model -- which advocated a relatively small role for government, deregulating markets to encourage competition, and liberalized international trade and financial policies -- is teetering.

In emerging markets, meanwhile, a related series of debates are unwinding, and have been for many years. Among these countries, the neoliberal economic model peaked in popularity sometime in the 1990s, in the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union and amidst optimism in an accelerating globalization, epitomized in the creation of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Even at its peak, however, the neoliberal reform program was always implemented unevenly across countries and adapted to local contexts. Since then, a number of alternative models have been proposed in response to a series of economic and political shocks, from the Asian financial crisis to the "Pink Tide" in Latin America to the Arab Spring. These experiences provide a fertile ground for assessing the possible futures of capitalism, across both emerging and developed markets.

Neoclassical economics' focus on individual incentives and utility maximization misses much bigger questions about structural power relations, which play a central role in determining economic outcomes. Similarly, individuals' desires for status, happiness, and identity are first order concerns, and cannot be easily incorporated into neoclassical models based on assumptions of rationality. Alternative, heterodox approaches to economics -- which had flourished in earlier eras but lost ground to neoclassical approaches in recent decades -- are due for a revival. Such approaches could, for example, pay more attention to crises, tipping points, and transitions rather than equilibria outcomes; provide a richer treatment of power and politics; and study how governments create and shape markets, rather than simply respond to market failures.

[Feb 10, 2019] A stake through the heart of neoliberalism

So what's next? The return to New Deal capitalism? But coalition of workers a management that was at the core of the New Deal Capitalism does not exits. Look whom Democratic Party represents today: they represent Wall Street and intelligence agencies.
Notable quotes:
"... Private Wealth or Public Good ..."
Feb 10, 2019 | newsroom.co.nz

The problem is that almost every authority figure - in economics, politics and the media - tells us otherwise. You will hear plenty this week, as the global elite converge on the Swiss mountain resort of Davos to discuss the challenges facing our economies and our world. Yet, I can guarantee that despite all the talk, there will be no substantive questioning of the immoral foundation of our modern economies.

The current inequality crisis is the direct result of this moral failure. Our exclusive, highly unequal society based on extreme wealth for the few may seem sturdy and inevitable right now, but it will collapse. Before long, the pitchforks will come out and the ensuing chaos will benefit no one. Not wealthy people like me - and certainly not the poorest people who have already been left behind.

To avert this existential crisis, we must drive a stake through the heart of the neoliberal religion that instantly rewards greed at the expense of our future. We must replace it with a new economic framework that recognises that justice and inclusion are not the result of economic prosperity, but rather the cause of economic prosperity.

Only a society that seeks to include all its people in the economy can succeed in the long term: no company, and certainly no billionaire is an island. We owe our wealth to society - to the millions working each day for us at home and across the world, often for poverty wages. We owe our fortunes to governments, who provide the education, the infrastructure, and the research investment on which we build our empires. None of the companies I have invested in would have been able to function without this.

A fundamental prerequisite for a more just society is that the wealthiest should pay their fair share of tax. However, as Oxfam's inequality report, Private Wealth or Public Good , demonstrates, this is not happening. Here in the United States, the richest in society – people like me – have just benefited from one of the biggest tax cuts in decades. Meanwhile our public schools are crumbling, and our healthcare system continues to exclude millions, leading to huge pain and suffering. The top rates of tax on the wealthiest people and corporations are lower than they have been for decades. Unprecedented levels of tax avoidance and evasion ensure that the super-rich pay even less.

There can be no moral justification for this behaviour beyond a discredited neoliberal dogma that if everyone maximises their selfishness, the world will somehow be a better place: that ever-lower taxation on the richest will somehow benefit us all; that health and education left to the mercy of the free market, available only to those who have the money to pay for them, is somehow more efficient. It has no economic justification, either. As Henry Ford famously identified, you can't grow a business or an economy if people are impoverished.

I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that the richest in our society can and should pay a lot more tax to help build a more equal society and prosperous economy. As Oxfam shows, a fairer tax system could help ensure that every child gets an education, and that no one lives in fear of getting sick because they can't afford their medical bills.

Ultimately it is our humanity, not the absence of it, that is the true source of economic growth and a flourishing civilisation. This is not just an imperative for activists and academics but for all of us – including every billionaire. It is no longer a question of whether we can afford to do this but rather whether we can afford not to.

[Feb 09, 2019] Government shutdown, Venezuela Donald Trump evolves into the best propagator of neoliberal fascism that tends to become a norm

Notable quotes:
"... Indeed, a year later, Trump built a pro-war team that includes the most bloodthirsty, hawkish neocons. And then, he ordered a second airstrike against Syria, together with his neocolonial friends. ..."
"... Trump conducted the longest experiment on neoliberals' ultimate goal: abolishing the annoying presence of the state. And this was just a taste of what Trump is willing to do in order to satisfy all neoliberals' wet dreams. ..."
"... And perhaps the best proof for that is a statement by one of the most warmongering figures of the neocon/neoliberal cabal, hired by Trump . As John Bolton cynically and openly admitted recently, " It will make a big difference to the United States economically if we could have American oil companies really invest in and produce the oil capabilities in Venezuela. " ..."
"... Donald Trump is the personification of an authoritarian system that increasingly unveils its true nature. The US empire makes the Venezuelan economy 'scream hard', as it did in Chile in 1973. The country then turned into the first laboratory of neoliberalism with the help of the Chicago Boys and a brutal dictatorship. So, as the big fraud is clear now, neoliberalism is losing ground and ideological influence over countries and societies, after decades of complete dominance. ..."
Feb 09, 2019 | failedevolution.blogspot.com

Government shutdown, Venezuela: Donald Trump evolves into the best propagator of neoliberal fascism that tends to become a norm February 07, 2019 by system failure

Even before the 2016 US presidential election, this blog supported that Donald Trump is a pure sample of neoliberal barbarism . Many almost laughed at this perception because Trump was being already promoted, more or less, as the 'terminator' of the neoliberal establishment. And many people, especially in the US, tired from the economic disasters, the growing inequality and the endless wars, were anxious to believe that this was indeed his special mission.

Right after the elections, we supported that the US establishment gave a brilliant performance by putting its reserve, Donald Trump, in power, against the only candidate that the same establishment identified as a real threat: Bernie Sanders.

Then, Trump sent the first shock wave to his supporters by literally hiring the Goldman Sachs banksters to run the economy. And right after that, he signed for more deregulation in favor of the Wall Street mafia that ruined the economy in 2008.

In 2017 , Trump bombed Syria for the first time, resembling the lies that led us to the Iraq war disaster. Despite the fact that the US Tomahawk missile attack had zero value in operational level (the United States allegedly warned Russia and Syria, while the targeted airport was operating normally just hours after the attack), Trump sent a clear message to the US deep state that he is prepared to meet all its demands - and especially the escalation of the confrontation with Russia.

Indeed, a year later, Trump built a pro-war team that includes the most bloodthirsty, hawkish neocons. And then, he ordered a second airstrike against Syria, together with his neocolonial friends.

In the middle of all this 'orgy' of pro-establishment moves, Trump offered a controversial withdrawal of US forces from Syria and Afghanistan to save whatever was possible from his 'anti-interventionist' profile. And it was indeed a highly controversial action with very little value, considering all these US military bases that are still fully operational in the broader Middle East and beyond. Not to mention the various ways through which the US intervenes in the area (training proxies, equip them with heavy weapons, supporting the Saudis and contribute to war crimes in Yemen, etc.)

And then , after this very short break, Trump returned to 'business as usual' to satisfy the neoliberal establishment with a 'glorious' record. He achieved a 35-day government shutdown, which is the "longest shutdown in US history" .

Trump conducted the longest experiment on neoliberals' ultimate goal: abolishing the annoying presence of the state. And this was just a taste of what Trump is willing to do in order to satisfy all neoliberals' wet dreams.

And now, we have the Venezuela issue. Since Hugo Chavez nationalized PDVSA, the central oil and natural gas company, the US empire launched a fierce economic war against the country. Yet, while all previous US administrations were trying to replace legitimate governments with their puppets as much silently as possible through slow-motion coup operations, Trump has no problem to do it in plain sight.

And perhaps the best proof for that is a statement by one of the most warmongering figures of the neocon/neoliberal cabal, hired by Trump . As John Bolton cynically and openly admitted recently, " It will make a big difference to the United States economically if we could have American oil companies really invest in and produce the oil capabilities in Venezuela. "

Therefore, one should be very naive of course to believe that the Western imperialist gang seriously cares about the Venezuelan people and especially the poor. Here are three basic reasons behind the open US intervention in Venezuela:

  1. The imperialists want to grab the rich oil fields for the US big oil cartel, as well as the great untapped natural resources , particularly gold (mostly for the Canadian companies).
  2. Venezuela must not become an example for other countries in the region on social-programs policy, which is mainly funded by the oil production. The imperialists know that they must interrupt the path of Venezuela to real Socialism by force if necessary. Neoliberalism must prevail by all means for the benefit of the big banks and corporations.
  3. Venezuela must not turn to cooperation with rival powers like China and Russia. Such a prospect may give the country the ability to minimize the effects of the economic war. The country may find an alternative to escape the Western sanctions in order to fund its social programs for the benefit of the people. And, of course, the West will never accept the exploitation of the Venezuelan resources by the Sino-Russian bloc.

So, when Trump declared the unelected Juan Guaido as the 'legitimate president' of Venezuela, all the main neoliberal powers of the West rushed to follow the decision.

This is something we have never seen before. The 'liberal democracies' of the West - only by name - immediately, uncritically and without hesitation jumped on the same boat with Trump towards this outrageously undemocratic action. They recognized Washington's puppet as the legitimate president of a third country. A man that was never elected by the Venezuelan people and has very low popularity in the country. Even worse, the EU parliament approved this action , killing any last remnants of democracy in the Union.

Yet, it seems that the US is finding increasingly difficult to force many countries to align with its agenda. Even some European countries took some distance from the attempted constitutional coup, with Italy even trying to veto EU's decision to recognize Guaido.

Donald Trump is the personification of an authoritarian system that increasingly unveils its true nature. The US empire makes the Venezuelan economy 'scream hard', as it did in Chile in 1973. The country then turned into the first laboratory of neoliberalism with the help of the Chicago Boys and a brutal dictatorship. So, as the big fraud is clear now, neoliberalism is losing ground and ideological influence over countries and societies, after decades of complete dominance.

This unprecedented action by the Western neoliberal powers to recognize Guaido is a serious sign that neoliberalism returns to its roots and slips towards fascism. It appears now that this is the only way to maintain some level of power.

[Feb 09, 2019] I understand that you do not like neoliberalism, fine. I understand you do not like nationalism of Trump and Salvini, of Le Pen and BNP, fine. But what do you like?

Notable quotes:
"... The elite thinkers who penned this manifesto need to wake up. Any chance of holding onto Western Civilization and "the legacy of Erasmus, Dante, Goethe and Comenius (Comenius?)" lies with the nationalist right. The academic left no longer gives a shit about the Western Canon, they're all just dead privileged white guys to them. Book burnings to follow. ..."
"... Did Cook and other so called Geniuses ever consider our nations are failing apart because we finance and fight wars for Israel. What would the trillions spent in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Middle East have fixed in our own country. ..."
"... "The first is the status-quo cheerleaders like the European writers of liberalism's latest – last? – manifesto. With every utterance they prove how irrelevant they have become, how incapable they are of supplying answers to the question of where we must head next. They adamantly refuse both to look inwards to see where [neo]liberalism went wrong and to look outwards to consider how we might extricate ourselves." ..."
"... "Action makes propaganda's effect irreversible. He who acts in obedience to propaganda can never go back. He is now obliged to believe in that propaganda because of his past action. He is obliged to receive from it his justification and authority, without which his action will seem to him absurd or unjust, which would be intolerable. He is obliged to continue to advance in the direction indicated by propaganda, for action demands more action." ..."
"... Much the same could have been said about the last days of the USSR, or for that matter the last phase of the 30 Years War or the Napoleonic Wars. As back then, so now: The old elite and new authoritarians actively crushing the new group, well, they are are actively crushing _themselves_ at an even greater rate than they are crushing the new group. ..."
"... Example: Decay of Democratic leadership -- which is now, apparently, two old crazy people, one of which has active dementia. Waiting in the wings we see various groups that hate each other and propose what is pretty clearly a loot and burn approach to governing the US. They vary only in whom they will loot and what they will burn. ..."
"... Example: Decay of the media, which now knows it is as ineffective as Russian propaganda towards the USSR's end, and apparently either doesn't care or is unable to change. ..."
"... If resource scarcity prompts armed response, well, humanity has enough shiny new weapons _and untried weapons technologies_ to produce destruction as surprising in its extent as WW I and WW II were for their times [1] (or as the self supporting tercio was during the 30 Years War). ..."
"... However, that classical liberalism has absolutely nothing to do with what this author labels "liberalism'. The modern so-called "neoliberalism" he talks about is a complete reversal of the original ideals of the classical liberals. ..."
"... In medieval times, the "nobles" could throw peasants who revolted too much off their land, impoverishing them in the process. The monarchies of the time could exert much control on the nobles, and indirectly on the peasants, BUT they had to be careful themselves, as there were a lot more peasants than nobles or royalty. Pushing too hard could initiate revolts, almost all of which would not bode well for the nobles or royalty. ..."
"... They are responsible for the islamization of Europe as well as destruction of the European "social fabric", for the longest time, which was based on ethnicity and commonality of purpose. ..."
"... The EU switched to open external frontiers, Asian outsourcing and the free international flow of capital (i.e. the full Neo-Liberal agenda), and it was when the consequences (de-industrialization, unemployment, mass non-European immigration) became apparent, that the public turned against the EU. ..."
Feb 09, 2019 | www.unz.com

Giuseppe says: February 3, 2019 at 5:42 am GMT 100 Words

Unless the tide can be turned, elections across the European Union will be "the most calamitous that we have ever known: victory for the wreckers; disgrace for those who still believe in the legacy of Erasmus, Dante, Goethe, and Comenius; disdain for intelligence and culture; explosions of xenophobia and antisemitism; disaster".

The elite thinkers who penned this manifesto need to wake up. Any chance of holding onto Western Civilization and "the legacy of Erasmus, Dante, Goethe and Comenius (Comenius?)" lies with the nationalist right. The academic left no longer gives a shit about the Western Canon, they're all just dead privileged white guys to them. Book burnings to follow.

Replies: @anon

niteranger , says: February 3, 2019 at 6:15 am GMT

Thirty Elite ..really how about fucking Communists. Social media is a cancer on society run by Jews for the Deep State. Meanwhile in Israel they murder Palestinians, bulldoze their homes, build a wall and throw blacks out. Did Cook and other so called Geniuses ever consider our nations are failing apart because we finance and fight wars for Israel. What would the trillions spent in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Middle East have fixed in our own country.

To put it bluntly: Does anyone have John Wick's phone number? We can take care of these problems very quickly.

Ilyana_Rozumova , says: February 3, 2019 at 6:29 am GMT
I would omit B.H. Levi and I would add Shakespeare, Virgilius, Cornelius, And most important Hugo for his work of Geniuses also Hegel and Kant.

Also: Carthage must be destroyed plus US system of sanctions must be destroyed.

Wally , says: February 3, 2019 at 7:00 am GMT
"The first is the status-quo cheerleaders like the European writers of liberalism's latest – last? – manifesto. With every utterance they prove how irrelevant they have become, how incapable they are of supplying answers to the question of where we must head next. They adamantly refuse both to look inwards to see where [neo]liberalism went wrong and to look outwards to consider how we might extricate ourselves."

Indeed, once they lie they must continue to lie, even they admit it:

"Action makes propaganda's effect irreversible. He who acts in obedience to propaganda can never go back. He is now obliged to believe in that propaganda because of his past action. He is obliged to receive from it his justification and authority, without which his action will seem to him absurd or unjust, which would be intolerable. He is obliged to continue to advance in the direction indicated by propaganda, for action demands more action."

– from ' Propaganda ', by French communist, Jacques Ellul

eah , says: February 3, 2019 at 9:37 am GMT
@apollonian and ethnic nationalism , which is the only workable nationalism.

A Nation of Widgets: The Wall Street Journal and Open Borders

Henryk Broder (also a Jew) recently spoke (on invitation) before the AfD faction of the Bundestag -- one theme of his talk was: Seit die Menschen nicht mehr an Gott glauben, glauben sie allen möglichen Unsinn -- since people stopped believing in God, they believe in all kinds of nonsense.

sentido kumon , says: February 3, 2019 at 10:17 am GMT
'Liber' in Latin means:
1) free (man)
2) free from tribute
3) independent, outspoken/frank
4) unimpeded
5) void of

The author needs to recheck his definitions. Voluntary exchange, consent, free markets, free will, etc are just some of the concepts at the heart of the true libertarian thought. The ruling class has successfully ruled out any concept of consent. Keep bringing consent up and their philosophies will be shown to be the same as gang rapists.

"The champions of socialism call themselves progressives, but they recommend a system which is characterized by rigid observance of routine and by a resistance to every kind of improvement. They call themselves liberals, but they are intent upon abolishing liberty. They call themselves democrats, but they yearn for dictatorship. They call themselves revolutionaries, but they want to make the government omnipotent. They promise the blessings of the Garden of Eden, but they plan to transform the world into a gigantic post office. Every man but one a subordinate clerk in a bureau. What an alluring utopia! What a noble cause to fight!" – Ludwig Von Mises

Stephen Paul Foster , says: Website February 3, 2019 at 11:08 am GMT
"What is needed to save us is radical change. Not tinkering, not reform, but an entirely new vision that removes the individual and his personal gratification from the centre of our social organisation."

I feel Cook's scorn for the hypocrisy of Levy and his self-infatuated band of scribblers and talkers, but when I hear someone proposing to "save us" with "radical change" my reaction is: I don't want anyone trying to "save" me, particularly someone who wants to do it in a "radical" way, which usually means a lot of coercion and often killing. He never gets to the specifics of what that salvation will look like, but if the past is any indication, being saved by radicals means, learning-to-love the radicals as they coerce you to do what they think is best for you and being happy to see your "personal gratification" eclipsed by theirs.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, one of our "radicals" in Congress wants to put that "new vision" into place. I'll go with reactionaries instead.

http://fosterspeak.blogspot.com/2019/02/lone-ranger-hmm.html

Anon [424] Disclaimer , says: February 3, 2019 at 11:40 am GMT
Bernard Henry Levy is a Sephardic jew born in Algeria , https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernard-Henri_L%C3%A9vy , He lives in France and is always warmongering for Israel , demanding that the " west " intervenes and bombs all the countries that he orders Libia, Syria , Iraq , Ukraine , Russia , Venezuela , Afghanistan , Iran , Yemen , Cuba , you name it .

https://www.stalkerzone.org/vladimir-kornilov-bernard-henri-levy-and-the-correct-mutiny/

Bernard Henry Levi is a bloody prophet of death , he is an enemy of the "West " pretending to be a friend . Very sinister guy .

Counterinsurgency , says: February 3, 2019 at 12:18 pm GMT

The third trend is the only place where hope can reside. This trend – what I have previously ascribed to a group I call the "dissenters" – understands that radical new thinking is required. But given that this group is being actively crushed by the old liberal elite and the new authoritarians, it has little public and political space to explore its ideas, to experiment, to collaborate, as it urgently needs to.

Much the same could have been said about the last days of the USSR, or for that matter the last phase of the 30 Years War or the Napoleonic Wars. As back then, so now: The old elite and new authoritarians actively crushing the new group, well, they are are actively crushing _themselves_ at an even greater rate than they are crushing the new group.

Example: Decay of Democratic leadership -- which is now, apparently, two old crazy people, one of which has active dementia. Waiting in the wings we see various groups that hate each other and propose what is pretty clearly a loot and burn approach to governing the US. They vary only in whom they will loot and what they will burn.

Example: Decay of the media, which now knows it is as ineffective as Russian propaganda towards the USSR's end, and apparently either doesn't care or is unable to change.

Example: Reaction to yellow vests in France, which drew the reactions described in Cook's article (at the root of this comment thread). "Back to your kennels, curs!" isn't effective in situations like this, but it seems to be the only reply the EU has.

New groups take over when the old group has rotted away. At some point, Cook's third alternative will be all that is left. The real question is what will be happening world wide at that point. If resource scarcity prompts armed response, well, humanity has enough shiny new weapons _and untried weapons technologies_ to produce destruction as surprising in its extent as WW I and WW II were for their times [1] (or as the self supporting tercio was during the 30 Years War).

Counterinsurgency

1] To understand contemporary effect of WW I on survivors, think of a the survivors of a group playing paintball who accidentally got hold of grenade launchers but somehow didn't realize that until the game was over. WW II was actually worse -- people worldwide really expected another industrialized war within 20 years (by AD 1965), this one fought with nuclear weapons.

RVBlake , says: February 3, 2019 at 12:42 pm GMT
I fail to see where ethnonattionalists are disingenuous and are "new authoritarians."
onebornfree , says: Website February 3, 2019 at 12:52 pm GMT
"[neo]Liberalism, like most ideologies, has an upside. Its respect for the individual and his freedoms, "

Yes, that was an ideal of the original , 19th century classical liberalism. Other features of the classical liberal ideal were:

1] small governments tightly constrained to particular functions [ defense, courts only]

2]freedom of trade between individuals.

However, that classical liberalism has absolutely nothing to do with what this author labels "liberalism'. The modern so-called "neoliberalism" he talks about is a complete reversal of the original ideals of the classical liberals.

... ... ...

anarchyst , says: February 3, 2019 at 2:24 pm GMT
Many people have an erroneous concept of the relationships between "leaders" and their "subjects".

In medieval times, the "nobles" could throw peasants who revolted too much off their land, impoverishing them in the process. The monarchies of the time could exert much control on the nobles, and indirectly on the peasants, BUT they had to be careful themselves, as there were a lot more peasants than nobles or royalty. Pushing too hard could initiate revolts, almost all of which would not bode well for the nobles or royalty.

It is entirely possible that our "leaders" are fearful of losing control with the proliferation of the internet and social media, and the ability for every person with an internet connection to be a seeker of truth and a "true" journalist, free of the constraints of the "old systems, the "powers that be" are running scared. They no longer control the narrative, as much as they would like to the jewish "brainwashing" of the masses is starting to wear off.

They are responsible for the islamization of Europe as well as destruction of the European "social fabric", for the longest time, which was based on ethnicity and commonality of purpose. That has pretty much been lost, with the introduction of immigrants who don't even know how to read or use flush toilets. Add to that, the prohibition on criticism of many practices of these immigrants, as well as making excuses for their criminality. The debasement of European societies is deliberate. The elites want destruction, period they want their "new world order"

no nationalism before ours. Apparently, only Jewish Identity is real while all others are false identities no better than false idols.

wayfarer , says: February 3, 2019 at 4:26 pm GMT

Cultural Marxism : Its central idea is to soften up and prepare Western Civilization for economic Marxism after a gradual, relentless, sustained attack on every institution of Western culture, including schools, literature, art, film, the Christian religious tradition, the family, sexual mores, national sovereignty, etc. The attacks are usually framed in Marxist terms as a class struggle between oppressors and oppressed; the members of the latter class allegedly include women, minorities, homosexuals, and adherents of non-Western ideologies such as Islam. Cultural Marxism has been described as "the cultural branch of globalism."

source: https://www.conservapedia.com/Cultural_Marxism

Trotskyism : The political, economic, and social principles advocated by Trotsky especially the theory and practice of communism developed by or associated with Trotsky and usually including adherence to the concept of worldwide revolution as opposed to socialism in one country.

source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trotskyism

Who Made the Useful Idiots of the Left?

Anon [424] Disclaimer , says: February 3, 2019 at 5:31 pm GMT
Bernard Henry Levy is like a vulture, he was in the Yugoslavian wars also , in the Georgian invasion of Russia wherever he goes there will be war , blood and misery , soon

The Guardian ( of the British Empire ) like other " prestigious " " liberal " journals has to be read the other way around . If they praise a lot someone , it means that this someone is a servant of the western System , and if they critizise sistematically someone , it means that he probably is a patriot ,that defends his country from western greed .

Colin Wright , says: Website February 3, 2019 at 5:43 pm GMT
'A Liberal Elite Still Luring Us Towards the Abyss'

That'd be the wrong metaphor. I don't feel lured at all. Fish are lured. I feel poked, prodded, and driven. Those'd be cattle.

Asagirian , says: February 3, 2019 at 6:07 pm GMT
If the attitude of the nation's Elites is "You the National Folk are NOT our people and, if anything, we globo-homo elites side with the foreign masses who shall replace you" , then the attitude of the National Folk should be "You the globo-homo pseudo-national elites are not OUR leaders, and if anything, we patriotic folks side with foreign elites who shall subvert you."
Sean , says: February 3, 2019 at 6:09 pm GMT

[neo]Liberalism, like most ideologies, has an upside. Its respect for the individual and his freedoms, its interest in nurturing human creativity, and its promotion of universal values and human rights over tribal attachment have had some positive consequences

Nazi Germany was beaten, so was the USSR. Liberalism wins actual and cold wars, it's stronger because it creates a larger more powerful economy. The only trouble is it sows the seeds of long term future dissolution.

More immediately pertinent, Liberalism, in its current self correcting theory of the free market mutation is not working against China because the entry of a billion Chinese into the globalized labour market is eroding the basis for indigenous labour in Western countries along with their productive capacity.

The problem is that the business class are strongly incentivized to like a hagfish eating up the economic and demographic core of Western countries from the inside.

Commentator Mike , says: February 3, 2019 at 6:43 pm GMT
If the EU were by the Europeans for the Europeans and not promoting anti-European policies like population replacement by non-Europeans then there would be no need to call for the various exits.
Anon [795] Disclaimer , says: February 3, 2019 at 7:03 pm GMT
Bernard-Henri Levy is (((liberal elite)))? Why the unnecessary occlusion? His position precisely reflects the Jewish Tanakh politics of foreign nation destruction. These politics are not vague in their book, nor do they differ in the slightest from his politics. See his simultaneous support of both Jewish nationalism and liberalism for non-Jews that is the marker of Jewish Supremacy.

Re: Dante

Although Guelph by ethnicity, Dante was a Ghibelline imperialist, that is a monarchist, who supported the Holy Roman Empire. The HRE was the nobility or land-owner faction. The Papacy was the supporter of the merchant class. Dante was the opposite of everything that Bernard Levy is espousing, and his most famous work, the Inferno, was an allegory that reflected those politics. Levy's invocation of Dante is strange in that it either reveals a curious lack of knowledge in regard to Dante or a disingenuous co-opting of his illustrious name for political purposes.

http://www.dantemass.org/html/guelphs-and-ghibellines.html

the White Guelphs became disaffected and eventually threw in their lot with the Ghibellines.

israel shamir , says: February 3, 2019 at 7:09 pm GMT
Excellent piece, as always, Jonathan! What is missing is your vision of the doctrine you approve of. I understood you do not like neoliberalism, fine. I understand you do not like nationalism of Trump and Salvini, of Le Pen and BNP, fine. But what do you like? Give us a hint. Is it Corbyn's Labour and Sanders' Dems? Or more radical Communism?
Sollipsist , says: February 3, 2019 at 7:39 pm GMT
I absolutely agree with the necessity of restoring value and focus to the family/tribe/community, but I'm deeply suspicious of any blanket indictment of individualism. Individualism is not inherently destructive selfishness, any more than using the resources of the state to benefit its people is inherently "socialist."

Any plan for moving forward that starts by bad-mouthing individualism is simply riding history's baby-with-the-bathwater pendulum to the opposite extreme – a sad and hollow caricature of communitarianism immediately made suspect by the coercive abuses baked into systems such as communism, theocracy, faceless bureaucracy, homogenizing consumerism, etc

geokat62 , says: February 3, 2019 at 8:06 pm GMT
@Asagirian

According to a book I read, How Sweden Became Multicultural , a man named (((David Schwarz))) almost singlehandedly spearheaded the changes that led to Sweden becoming a multicultural country, one in which they are destined to become a minority.

(((Emanuel Celler))) also made it his lifelong mission to get the restrictionist Immigration Act of 1924 repealed and replaced by the non-restrictionist Immigration Act of 1965.

Thanks to George Soros and the work of his Open Society Foundations, this story has been replicated in almost all Western nations.

As George W Bush once infamously claimed, Mission Accomplished !

buzzwar , says: February 3, 2019 at 8:08 pm GMT
The letter was penned by Bernard Henry Levy a French jew. this guy, an Israeli firster, is a warmonger of the worst kind. he was behind the destruction of Libya. Actively supports the aggression on Syria, Yemen; Calls for aggression on Iran. He opposes the planned US withdrawal from Syria and thinks that trump is a danger to the "Jewish people" . The fact that he is sponsoring the letter speaks volumes. He doesn´t like politicians who favor nationalist policies; he calls them populists. He doesn't like criticism of Israeli racist policies, he calls it anti-Semitism, etc. I wonder how he managed to secure so many signatures.
Colin Wright , says: Website February 3, 2019 at 9:13 pm GMT
@DaveLeeDee ' He's a f+++ing idiot.'

Yes, but he's attacked for other reasons entirely. As matters stand, if you join in the vilification of Jeremy Corbyn, you're helping to establish Zionism as unassailable.

It's a bit like if you were Labour, and this were 1940. You might not like Churchill, but the alternative is to accede to appeasing Hitler. That was in fact the choice Labour faced, and they had to swallow Churchill -- for the time being.

It's no longer a matter of liking Corbyn. It's a matter of who would rather have to put up with: Corbyn or Zionist domination?

Christopher Black , says: February 3, 2019 at 10:44 pm GMT
Excellent article. Here is my take on Brexit and that poseur BHL in support. https://journal-neo.org/2016/07/02/brexit-a-different-democracy-a-different-future/
Seraphim , says: February 4, 2019 at 3:40 am GMT
@Anon Because BHL is himself a multimillionare: "His father, André Lévy, was the founder and manager of a timber company, Becob, and became a multimillionaire from his business In 2004, his fortune amounts to 150 million euros. Owner of seven companies, his fortune comes essentially from the inheritance of his parents, then completed by stock exchange investments (he is in 2000 suspected of insider trading by the Commission des opérations de bourse) "
Miro23 , says: February 6, 2019 at 7:45 am GMT
@Christopher Black ts of European people. The EU switched to open external frontiers, Asian outsourcing and the free international flow of capital (i.e. the full Neo-Liberal agenda), and it was when the consequences (de-industrialization, unemployment, mass non-European immigration) became apparent, that the public turned against the EU.

The ideal solution would be a return to the original EEC (with its closed external frontier and removal of internal barriers to the internal movement of people and goods), but it's probably too late for that, as the whole Europe idea will probably be trashed in the counter reaction with a return to all the inter-European trade hassles of the 1950's and 60's.

[Feb 09, 2019] Facebook The Government's Propaganda Arm

Feb 09, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Jeff Charles via Liberty Nation,

The social media giant has a disturbing number of former Obama officials in key positions of authority over content...

Imagine for a moment what it would look like if the federal government launched its own social media network. Every day, Americans could freely use the platform to express their views on everything from economic theory to the best tips for baking peanut butter cookies. They could even discuss their political views and debate the important issues of the day.

But what if the government were empowered to determine which political views are appropriate and which are too obscene for the American public? Well, it looks like this is already happening. Of course, the state has not created a social media network; they didn't have to. It appears the government is using Facebook – the world's largest social media company – to sway public opinion.

The Government's Fingers In Facebook

The Free Thought Project recently published a report revealing that Facebook has some troubling ties to the federal government and that this connection could be enabling former state officials to influence the content displayed. The social media provider has partnered with various think tanks which receive state funding, while hiring an alarming number of individuals who have held prominent positions in the federal government.

Facebook recently announced their partnership with the Atlantic Council – which is partly funded by tax dollars – to ensure that users are presented with quality news stories. And by "quality," it seems that they mean "progressive." The council is well known for promoting far-left news sources, including the Xinhua News Agency, which was founded by the Communist Party of China. Well, that's reassuring. What red-blooded American capitalist doesn't want to get the news from a communist regime?

But there one aspect of this story is even more troubling: the government-to-Facebook pipeline. The company has employed a significant number of former officials in positions that grant them influence over what content is allowed on the platform.

Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook's Head of Cybersecurity Policy, prosecuted cybercrimes at the Department of Justice under President Obama. Now, he is responsible for determining who gets banned or suspended from the network. But that's not the worst of it. He also spearheaded the company's initiative to scrub anti-war content and "protest" movements. In a blog post, Gleicher wrote: "Some of the Pages frequently posted about topics like anti-NATO sentiment, protest movements, and anti-corruption." He continued, "We are constantly working to detect and stop this type of activity because we don't want our services to be used to manipulate people."

The company has also hired others who served in key positions in the Obama administration. Some of these include:

To make things more interesting, Facebook has also hired neocons to help them determine the type of content that is being published. So if you happen to be a conservative that isn't too crazy about interventionism, your views are not as welcome on the network as others. After all, how many times have you heard of people being banned for posting pro-war or socialist propaganda?

Are Private Companies Truly Private?

The notion that government officials could be using positions of power in the private industry to advance a statist agenda is disturbing, but the fact that most Americans are unaware of this is far worse. It would be inaccurate to argue that the government is controlling Facebook's content, but the level of the state's involvement in the world's biggest social media company is a disturbing development.

This is not the only case of state officials becoming involved with certain industries. This trend is rampant in the certain industries in which individuals move back and forth between private organizations and the FDA. For example, Monsanto, an agricultural and agrochemical company, has been under scrutiny for its ties to the federal government.

It is not clear if there is anything that can be done to counteract inappropriate relations between the government and certain companies – especially organizations with the level of influence enjoyed by the likes of Facebook. But it essential that the public is made aware of these relations, otherwise the state will continue to exert influence over society – with Americans none the wiser.

[Feb 09, 2019] Large Excess Reserves and the Relationship between Money and Prices - FRB Richmond

Notable quotes:
"... But otherwise, quite correct. Raise payments on deposits and get more deposits. Raise charges on loans and get fewer loans. I might note that the Fed has supposedly paused rate hikes, but deposits are still exiting the system faster than loans. This result can be had via Fred. Thus the curve is getting more3 inverted. ..."
Feb 09, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

Joe , February 06, 2019 at 04:54 PM

Large Excess Reserves and the Relationship between Money and Prices - FRB Richmond

At the same time that it has been normalizing its balance sheet, the Fed also has been raising its target for interest rates. The ability to pay interest on reserves has been crucial to allowing the Fed to raise its target rate while there are still significant excess reserves in the banking system. Despite these rate increases, due to various secular reasons, interest rates are expected to remain historically low for a long time.

--------------

I sample the current expectation, and it is a bit more detailed. The expectation is that the curve will remain inverted, generally with a zero near the five yer mark, if I judge from the Treasury curve where the curve has been inverted with a zero near the five yer mark.

The ten year rate will remain historically higher than the five year rate for some time, evidently. If we measure interest rate as the per annum percent of Real GDP devoted to nominal federal interest charges, then the interest rate was higher than it has ever been going back to 1972, briefly (four months ago) , and now occupies the second highest level since just before the 92 recession, at about 3.5% of GDP. These result can be had in Fred by dividing nominal interest payments by real GDP.

But otherwise, quite correct. Raise payments on deposits and get more deposits. Raise charges on loans and get fewer loans. I might note that the Fed has supposedly paused rate hikes, but deposits are still exiting the system faster than loans. This result can be had via Fred. Thus the curve is getting more3 inverted.

Why do we know the curve will invert? It is the law, when the Fed loses deposits, loan charges drop, not rise as would be normal. That is why we all expect the curve to remain inverted, the law. The law is specifically designed so the Fed holds the current low rate as long as possible, then does the sudden regime change. The law, written into the law, a rule requires that we spend time with an inverted yield curve before price adjustment. I emphasis the law because it is actually typed out, signed and enforced publicly.

The law requires the Fed hold the curve as long as possible, mainly so the pres and Congress have time to react to changes in term of trade. So, like under Obama, we hold the line on rates until Obama and the Repubs agree on a tax and spending plan going forward, then the treasury curve gains traction again. Te law, it is not under debate unless you want to be arreswted.

[Feb 09, 2019] An aide to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) reportedly told insurance executives in private not to worry about Democrats' push for "Medicare for All.

Feb 09, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

im1dc , February 06, 2019 at 05:22 PM

Oops, Speaker Pelosi caught paving over Medicare For All

https://theintercept.com/2019/02/05/nancy-pelosi-medicare-for-all/

"An aide to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) reportedly told insurance executives in private not to worry about Democrats' push for "Medicare for All." (The Intercept)"

Ryan Grim...February 5 2019...6:00 a.m.

"Less than a month after Democrats -- many of them running on "Medicare for All" -- won back control of the House of Representatives in November, the top health policy aide to then-prospective House Speaker Nancy Pelosi met with Blue Cross Blue Shield executives and assured them that party leadership had strong reservations about single-payer health care and was more focused on lowering drug prices, according to sources familiar with the meeting.

Pelosi adviser Wendell Primus detailed five objections to Medicare for All and said that Democrats would be allies to the insurance industry in the fight against single-payer health care. Primus pitched the insurers on supporting Democrats on efforts to shrink drug prices, specifically by backing a number of measures that the pharmaceutical lobby is opposing.

Primus, in a slide presentation obtained by The Intercept, criticized single payer on the basis of cost ("Monies are needed for other priorities"), opposition ("Stakeholders are against; Creates winners and losers"), and "implementation challenges." We have recreated the slides for source protection purposes.

Democrats, Primus said, are united around the concept of universal coverage, but see strengthening the Affordable Care Act as the means to that end. He made his presentation to the Blue Cross executives on December 4..."...

Christopher H. said in reply to im1dc... , February 06, 2019 at 07:14 PM
so how do you feel about that?
Mr. Bill -> Christopher H.... , February 06, 2019 at 09:52 PM
Personally, I am aghast. The Congress critters are in bed with the medical monopolies. One example, among many:

The congressional endorsement of the ban on the importation of less expensive drugs, claimed as a matter of safety, is a travesty. In the last several months, I have had two of the drugs I take daily, recalled because the Chinese manufacturers shipped the drugs with a measurable concentration of a known carcinogen in them. Safety, my aching ......

Mr. Bill -> Mr. Bill... , February 06, 2019 at 09:55 PM
It was not the FDA that discovered the contamination, it was the EU.
Mr. Bill -> Mr. Bill... , February 06, 2019 at 10:07 PM
Democrats in action on health care include Max Baucus,Tom Daschle, and most infamously, Billy Tauzin:

"Two months before resigning as chair of the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce, which oversees the drug industry, Tauzin had played a key role in shepherding through Congress the Medicare Prescription Drug Bill. Democrats said that the bill was "a give-away to the drugmakers" because it prohibited the government from negotiating lower drug prices and bans the importation of identical, cheaper, drugs from Canada and elsewhere. The Veterans Affairs agency, which can negotiate drug prices, pays much less than Medicare does. The bill was passed in an unusual congressional session at 3 a.m. under heavy pressure from the drug companies.[4][5]

As head of PhRMA, Tauzin was a key player in 2009 health care reform negotiations that produced pharmaceutical industry support for White House and Senate efforts.[6]

Tauzin received $11.6 million from PhRMA in 2010, making him the highest-paid health-law lobbyist.[7] Tauzin now is on the Board of Directors at Louisiana Healthcare Group. "

Mr. Bill -> Mr. Bill... , February 06, 2019 at 10:15 PM
Baucus in action :

"Advocate groups attended a Senate Finance Committee meeting in May 2009 to protest their exclusion as well as statements by Baucus that "single payer was not an option on the table." Baucus later had eight protesters removed by police who arrested them for disrupting the hearing. Many of the single-payer advocates said it was a "pay to play" event.[44][45][46] A representative of the Business Roundtable, which includes 35 memberships of health maintenance organizations, health insurance and pharmaceutical companies, admitted that other countries, with lower health costs, and higher quality of care, such as those with single-payer systems, have a competitive advantage over the United States with its private system.[47]

At the next meeting on health care reform of the Senate Finance Committee, Baucus had five more doctors and nurses removed and arrested.[48][49][50] Baucus admitted a few weeks later in June 2009 that it was a mistake to rule out a single payer plan[51] because doing so alienated a large, vocal constituency and left President Barack Obama's proposal of a public health plan to compete with private insurers as the most liberal position.[51]

Baucus has used the term "uniquely American solution" to describe the end point of current health reform and has said that he believes America is not ready yet for any form of single payer health care. This is the same term the insurance trade association, America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), is using. AHIP has launched the Campaign for an American Solution, which argues for the use of private health insurance instead of a government backed program"

Mr. Bill -> Mr. Bill... , February 06, 2019 at 10:20 PM
Daschle:

"Daschle co-wrote the 2008 book Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis ISBN 9780312383015.[55] He and his co-authors point out that "most of the world's highest-ranking health-care systems employ some kind of 'single-payer' strategy - that is, the government, directly or through insurers, is responsible for paying doctors, hospitals, and other health-care providers." They argue that a single-payer approach is simple, equitable, provides everyone with the same benefits, and saves billions of dollars through economies of scale and simplified administration. They concede that implementing a single-payer system in the United States would be "politically problematic" even though some polls show more satisfaction with the single-payer Medicare system than private insurance.[56]"

Health care giant Aetna will be the first official client for the former Democratic leader, who's now running his own consulting shop within the law firm Baker Donelson. Daschle will lobby for the health insurer on Obamacare implementation and Medicare and Medicaid rule changes, according to a filing with the Senate Secretary.

Mr. Bill -> Mr. Bill... , February 06, 2019 at 10:38 PM
"For fifteen years, Tauzin was one of the more Conservative Democrats in the United States House of Representatives. Even though he eventually rose to become an assistant majority whip, he felt shut out by some of his more liberal colleagues and sometimes had to ask the Republicans for floor time. When the Democrats lost control of the House after the 1994 elections, Tauzin was one of the cofounders of the House Blue Dog Coalition, a group of moderate-to-conservative Democrats.

.......

However, on August 8, 1995, Tauzin himself became a Republican"

Republicans in action ..... ?

[Feb 09, 2019] Rigged: How Globalization and the Rules of the Modern Economy Were Structured to Make the Rich Richer

Feb 09, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

anne -> anne... , February 07, 2019 at 06:37 AM

http://deanbaker.net/images/stories/documents/Rigged.pdf

October, 2016

Rigged: How Globalization and the Rules of the Modern Economy Were Structured to Make the Rich Richer
By Dean Baker

The Old Technology and Inequality Scam: The Story of Patents and Copyrights

One of the amazing lines often repeated by people in policy debates is that, as a result of technology, we are seeing income redistributed from people who work for a living to the people who own the technology. While the redistribution part of the story may be mostly true, the problem is that the technology does not determine who "owns" the technology. The people who write the laws determine who owns the technology.

Specifically, patents and copyrights give their holders monopolies on technology or creative work for their duration. If we are concerned that money is going from ordinary workers to people who hold patents and copyrights, then one policy we may want to consider is shortening and weakening these monopolies. But policy has gone sharply in the opposite direction over the last four decades, as a wide variety of measures have been put into law that make these protections longer and stronger. Thus, the redistribution from people who work to people who own the technology should not be surprising -- that was the purpose of the policy.

If stronger rules on patents and copyrights produced economic dividends in the form of more innovation and more creative output, then this upward redistribution might be justified. But the evidence doesn't indicate there has been any noticeable growth dividend associated with this upward redistribution. In fact, stronger patent protection seems to be associated with slower growth.

Before directly considering the case, it is worth thinking for a minute about what the world might look like if we had alternative mechanisms to patents and copyrights, so that the items now subject to these monopolies could be sold in a free market just like paper cups and shovels.

The biggest impact would be in prescription drugs. The breakthrough drugs for cancer, hepatitis C, and other diseases, which now sell for tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars annually, would instead sell for a few hundred dollars. No one would have to struggle to get their insurer to pay for drugs or scrape together the money from friends and family. Almost every drug would be well within an affordable price range for a middle-class family, and covering the cost for poorer families could be easily managed by governments and aid agencies.

The same would be the case with various medical tests and treatments. Doctors would not have to struggle with a decision about whether to prescribe an expensive scan, which might be the best way to detect a cancerous growth or other health issue, or to rely on cheaper but less reliable technology. In the absence of patent protection even the most cutting edge scans would be reasonably priced.

Health care is not the only area that would be transformed by a free market in technology and creative work. Imagine that all the textbooks needed by college students could be downloaded at no cost over the web and printed out for the price of the paper. Suppose that a vast amount of new books, recorded music, and movies was freely available on the web.

People or companies who create and innovate deserve to be compensated, but there is little reason to believe that the current system of patent and copyright monopolies is the best way to support their work. It's not surprising that the people who benefit from the current system are reluctant to have the efficiency of patents and copyrights become a topic for public debate, but those who are serious about inequality have no choice. These forms of property claims have been important drivers of inequality in the last four decades.

The explicit assumption behind the steps over the last four decades to increase the strength and duration of patent and copyright protection is that the higher prices resulting from increased protection will be more than offset by an increased incentive for innovation and creative work. Patent and copyright protection should be understood as being like very large tariffs. These protections can often the raise the price of protected items by several multiples of the free market price, making them comparable to tariffs of several hundred or even several thousand percent. The resulting economic distortions are comparable to what they would be if we imposed tariffs of this magnitude.

The justification for granting these monopoly protections is that the increased innovation and creative work that is produced as a result of these incentives exceeds the economic costs from patent and copyright monopolies. However, there is remarkably little evidence to support this assumption. While the cost of patent and copyright protection in higher prices is apparent, even if not well-measured, there is little evidence of a substantial payoff in the form of a more rapid pace of innovation or more and better creative work....

Tom aka Rusty said in reply to anne... , February 07, 2019 at 08:26 AM
Baker is so repetitive he is hardly worth reading.
anne -> anne... , February 07, 2019 at 06:39 AM
http://cepr.net/publications/op-eds-columns/progressive-taxes-only-go-so-far-pre-tax-income-is-the-problem

February 4, 2019

Progressive Taxes Only Go So Far. Pre-Tax Income Is the Problem
By Dean Baker

In recent weeks, there have been several bold calls for large increases in progressive taxation. First we had Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), often referred to as AOC, proposing a top marginal tax rate on income over $10 million. This sent right-wing talking heads into a frenzy, leading many to show they don't know the difference between a marginal tax rate and an average tax rate. (AOC's 70 percent rate would only apply to an individual's income above $10 million.)

More recently, we had Senator Elizabeth Warren propose a wealth tax that would apply to people with assets of more than $50 million. This tax could have Jeff Bezos sending more than $3 billion a year to the Treasury.

Given the enormous increase in inequality over the last four decades, and the reduction in the progressivity of the tax code, it is reasonable to put forward plans to make the system more progressive. But, the bigger source of the rise in inequality has been a growth in the inequality of before-tax income, not the reduction in high–end tax rates. This suggests that it may be best to look at the factors that have led to the rise in inequality in market incomes, rather than just using progressive taxes to take back some of the gains of the very rich.

There have been many changes in rules and institutional structures that have allowed the rich to get so much richer. (This is the topic of my free book Rigged.) Just to take the most obvious -- government-granted patent and copyright monopolies have been made longer and stronger over the last four decades. Many items that were not even patentable 40 years ago, such as life forms and business methods, now bring in tens or hundreds of billions of dollars to their owners.

If the importance of these monopolies for inequality is not clear, ask yourself how rich Bill Gates would be if there were no patents or copyrights on Microsoft software. (Anyone could copy Windows into a computer and not pay him a penny.) Many other billionaires get their fortune from copyrights in software and entertainment or patents in pharmaceuticals, medical equipment and other areas.

The government also has rules for corporate governance that allow CEOs to rip off the companies for which they work. CEO pay typically runs close to $20 million a year, even as returns to shareholders lag. It would be hard to argue that today's CEOs, who get 200 to 300 times the pay of ordinary workers, are doing a better job for their companies than CEOs in the 1960s and 1970s who only got 20 to 30 times the pay of ordinary workers.

Another source of inequality is the financial sector. The government has aided these fortunes in many ways, most obviously with the bailout of the big banks a decade ago. It also has deliberately structured the industry in ways that facilitate massive fortunes in financial engineering.

There is no reason to design an economy in such a way as to ensure that most of the gains from growth flow upward. Unfortunately, that has largely been the direction of policy over the last four decades.

We can ignore the inequities built into the way we have structured the economy and just try to tax the big winners, as is being proposed. However, there are two major problems with this route, one practical and one political.

The practical problem is that the rich are not stupid. They will look to find ways to avoid or evade the various progressive taxes being proposed. Both AOC and Warren have relied on advice from some top economists in describing their tax proposals, but even the best–designed tax can be gamed. (Is it worth $3 billion a year for Jeff Bezos to remain a US citizen? As a non-citizen he wouldn't pay the wealth tax.)

Gaming the tax system will mean that we will collect considerably less revenue than a static projection would imply. It also will lead to the growth of the tax gaming industry. From an economic standpoint, this is a complete waste. We will have people designing clever ways to try to hide income and wealth, and in some cases getting very rich themselves in the process.

The political problem with going the tax route is that people attach a certain legitimacy to the idea that income gained through the market is somehow rightfully gained, as opposed to say, income from a government transfer program, like food stamps. The rich will be able to win support from many non-rich by claiming that the government has taken away what they have fairly earned.

By contrast, it is much harder for a drug company billionaire to cry foul because a drug developed with public funds, and selling at generic prices, has destroyed the market for his $100,000–a–year cancer drug. In the same vein, CEOs might have a hard time getting sympathy for the complaint that new rules of corporate governance make it easier to shareholders to bring their pay down to earth.

It is great that the rise in inequality seems likely to be a major topic in the 2020 presidential campaign. However, it is important that we think carefully about how best to reverse it.

Fred C. Dobbs , February 07, 2019 at 06:36 AM
Ocasio-Cortez to unveil
Green New Deal to address climate change
https://www.bostonglobe.com/news/politics/2019/02/07/democrats-seek-green-new-deal-address-climate-change/Dw5vKODzgZag4T6jIDHAbO/story.html?event=event25 via @BostonGlobe

Matthew Daly - Associated Press - February 7, 2019

WASHINGTON -- Democrats including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York are calling for a Green New Deal intended to transform the U.S. economy to combat climate change and create thousands of jobs in renewable energy.

The freshman lawmaker and veteran Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts are teaming up on the plan, which aims to eliminate the U.S. carbon footprint by 2030.

A joint resolution drafted by Ocasio-Cortez and Markey sets a goal to meet ''100 percent of the power demand in the United States through clean, renewable and zero-emission energy sources,'' including dramatic increases in wind and solar power.

A news conference at the Capitol is set for Thursday, the day they introduce the resolution.

While setting lofty goals, the plan does not explicitly call for eliminating the use of fossil fuels such as oil and natural gas, a nod to pragmatism that may disappoint some of Ocasio-Cortez's strongest supporters.

Even so, their Green New Deal goes far beyond the Clean Power Plan proposed by President Barack Obama. President Donald Trump has scrapped Obama's plan, which imposed emissions limits on coal-fired power plants, as a job-killer.

The Democrats are likely to meet resistance to their proposal in Congress, especially in the Republican-controlled Senate. Trump, who has expressed doubts about climate change, also is likely to oppose it.

The resolution marks the first time Ocasio-Cortez and other lawmakers have attached legislative language onto the Green New Deal, a concept that until now has been largely undefined other than as a call for urgent action to head off catastrophic climate change and create jobs.

Several Democratic presidential hopefuls have embraced the idea of a Green New Deal without saying exactly what it means.

Ocasio-Cortez said in a statement that the plan will create ''unprecedented levels of prosperity and wealth for all while ensuring economic and environmental justice and security.'' She calls for a ''World War II-scale mobilization'' that includes high-quality education and health care, clean air and water and safe, affordable housing.

Answering critics who call the plan unrealistic, Ocasio-Cortez says that when President John F. Kennedy wanted to go to the moon by the end of the 1960s, ''people said it was impossible.'' She also cites Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal, Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society and the interstate highway system begun under Dwight D. Eisenhower as examples of American know-how and capability.

While focusing on renewable energy, Ocasio-Cortez said the plan would include existing nuclear power plants but block new nuclear plants. Nuclear power does not emit greenhouse gases, which contribute to global warming.

The resolution does not include a price tag, but some Republicans predict it would cost in the trillions of dollars. They denounced the plan at House hearings on climate change on Wednesday.

The Green New Deal would be paid for ''the same way we paid for the original New Deal, World War II, the bank bailouts, tax cuts for the rich and decades of war -- with public money appropriated by Congress,'' Ocasio-Cortez said.

Government can take an equity stake in Green New Deal projects ''so the public gets a return on its investment,'' she said.

Joe , February 07, 2019 at 07:16 AM
https://www.wirepoints.com/moodys-to-pritzker-new-taxes-could-threaten-to-increase-the-outflow-of-illinois-residents/

New Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker got a warning of sorts from Moody's ahead of the governor's first budget address. The rating agency's most recent report* highlighted the usual crises Pritzker must tackle: ballooning pension debts and chronic budget deficits. Moody's rates Illinois just one notch above junk largely due to the state's finances and malgovernance.

Moody's says new revenue likely will be required to achieve stability, as you'd expect, because rating agencies love higher taxes. But for the first time, the agency has included outmigration among its top-three credit concerns. That matters because Pritzker's number one prescription to "fix" Illinois is tax hikes, something that's sure to accelerate Illinois' out-migration trend and further erode the state's tax base.

---------------

Moody's is politely explaining that they are 180 deg out of cycle, the negotiation has been finished, in the past.

Is the new gov confused or is he consciously doing the crawl back step? Whatever, the gov will be confused no longer, he is clearly in crawl back stage, the next chapter in bankruptcy.

It is now all about deciding which industry stays and which goes; a re-agglomeration, the second step of the Hicksonian jump, shift expectations operator; you have to move stuff around according to the agreement.

[Feb 09, 2019] Tenth Circle Added To Rapidly Growing Hell

This 20 year old satire looks like it was written yesterday...
Notable quotes:
"... In the past, the underworld was ill-equipped to handle the new breed of sinners flooding our gates -- downsizing CEOs, focus-group coordinators, telemarketing sales representatives, and vast hordes of pony-tailed entertainment-industry executives ..."
"... Among the tortures the Corpadverticus Circle of Total Bastards boasts: the Never-Ending Drive-Thru Bank, the Bottomless Pit of Promotional Tie-In Keychains, and the dreaded Chamber of Emotionally Manipulative Home Shopping Network Products. ..."
"... condemned TV-exercise-show personalities, clad in skin-tight Spandex outfits soaked in flesh-dissolving acid, are forced to exercise for centuries on end ..."
"... In a nearby area, corporate raiders are forced to carry the golf clubs of uneducated Hispanic migrant workers from hole to hole for eternity, withering under a constant barrage of verbal abuse ..."
"... "In life, I was a Salomon Brothers investment banker," one flame-blackened shade told reporters. "When I arrived here, they didn't know what to do with me. They put me in with those condemned to walk backwards with their heads turned all the way around on their necks, for the crime of attempting to see the future. But then I sent a couple of fruit baskets to the right people, and in no time flat, I secured a cushy spot for myself in the first circle of the Virtuous Unbaptized. Now that was a sweet deal. But before long, they caught on to my game and transferred me here to the realm of Total Bastards. I've been shrieking for mercy like a goddamn woman ever since." ..."
Sep 23, 1998 | home.isi.org

CITY OF DIS, NETHER HELL

After nearly four years of construction at an estimated cost of 750 million souls, Corpadverticus, the new 10th circle of Hell, finally opened its doors Monday.

Tenth Circle Added To Rapidly Growing Hell

The Blockbuster Video-sponsored circle, located in Nether Hell between the former eighth and ninth levels of Malebolge and Cocytus, is expected to greatly alleviate the overcrowding problems that have plagued the infernal underworld in recent years. The circle is the first added to Hell in its countless-millennia history.

"A nightmarishly large glut of condemned spirits in recent years necessitated the expansion of Hell," inferno spokesperson Antedeus said. "The traditional nine-tiered system had grown insufficient to accommodate the exponentially rising numbers of Hellbound."

Adding to the need for expansion, Antedeus said, was the fact that a majority of the new arrivals possessed souls far more evil than the original nine circles were equipped to handle. "Demographers, advertising executives, tobacco lobbyists, monopoly-law experts retained by major corporations, and creators of office-based sitcoms–these new arrivals represent a wave of spiritual decay and horror the likes of which Hell has never before seen," Antedeus said.

Despite the need for expansion, the plan faced considerable resistance, largely due to the considerable costs of insuring construction projects within the Kingdom Of Lies. Opposition also came from Hell purists concerned about the detrimental effect a tenth level would have on the intricate numerology of Hell's meticulously arranged allegorical structure. In 1994, however, funding was finally secured in a deal brokered between Blockbuster CEO Wayne Huizenga and Satan himself.

Prior to the construction of the tenth circle, many among the new wave of sinners had been placed in such circles as Hoarders and Squanderers, Sowers of Discord, Flatterers and Seducers, Violent Against Art, and Hypocrites. Hell authorities, however, say that the new level, the Circle of Total Bastards, located at the site of the former Well of Giants just above the Frozen Lake at Hell's center, better suits their insidious brand of evil.

Frigax The Vile, a leading demonic presence, is one of the most vocal supporters of the new circle.

" In the past, the underworld was ill-equipped to handle the new breed of sinners flooding our gates -- downsizing CEOs, focus-group coordinators, telemarketing sales representatives, and vast hordes of pony-tailed entertainment-industry executives rollerblading and talking on miniaturized cell-phones at the same time. But now, we've finally got the sort of top-notch Pits of Doom necessary to give such repellent abominations the quality boilings they deserve."

Pausing to tear off the limbs of an Access Hollywood host, Frigax added, "We're all tremendously excited about the many brand-new forms of torture and eternal pain this new level's state-of-the-art facilities will make possible."

Among the tortures the Corpadverticus Circle of Total Bastards boasts: the Never-Ending Drive-Thru Bank, the Bottomless Pit of Promotional Tie-In Keychains, and the dreaded Chamber of Emotionally Manipulative Home Shopping Network Products.

The Circle also features a Hall of Aerobics, where condemned TV-exercise-show personalities, clad in skin-tight Spandex outfits soaked in flesh-dissolving acid, are forced to exercise for centuries on end , covered in vomit and prodded with the distended ribs of skeletal, anorexic demons, accompanied by an unending, ear-splittingly loud dance-remix version of the 1988 Rick Astley hit "Together Forever."

In a nearby area, corporate raiders are forced to carry the golf clubs of uneducated Hispanic migrant workers from hole to hole for eternity, withering under a constant barrage of verbal abuse from their former subservients as crows descend from trees to peck at their eyes. In one of the deepest and most profane portions of the circle, unspeakable acts are said to be committed with a mail-order Roly-Kit.

"In life, I was a Salomon Brothers investment banker," one flame-blackened shade told reporters. "When I arrived here, they didn't know what to do with me. They put me in with those condemned to walk backwards with their heads turned all the way around on their necks, for the crime of attempting to see the future. But then I sent a couple of fruit baskets to the right people, and in no time flat, I secured a cushy spot for myself in the first circle of the Virtuous Unbaptized. Now that was a sweet deal. But before long, they caught on to my game and transferred me here to the realm of Total Bastards. I've been shrieking for mercy like a goddamn woman ever since."

His face contorted in the Misery of the Damned, a Disney lawyer said: "It's hell here–there are no executive lounges, I can't get any decent risotto, and the suit I have to wear is a cheap Brooks Brothers knock-off. I'm beeped every 30 seconds, and there's no way to return the calls. Plus, I'm being boiled upside down in lard while jackals gnaw at the soles of my feet. If I could just reach the fax machine on that nearby rock, I could contact some well-placed associates and work something out, but it's just out of my grasp, and it's out of ink and constantly blinking the message, 'Replace Toner Cartridge, Replace Toner Cartridge, Replace Toner Cartridge.'"

He then resumed screaming in agony.

Grogar The Malefic, a Captain in Hell's elite Demon Corps and supervisor in charge of admissions for the new circle, said Hell's future looks bright, thanks to the new circle.

"Things are definitely looking up," Grogar said. "We're now far better equipped, and we're ready to take on the most Unholy Atrocities humanity has to offer."

"We're really on the grow down here," Grogar added. "This is an exciting time to be in Hell."

[Feb 09, 2019] Tucker Carlson A Buckley for Our Time Intercollegiate Studies Institute Educating for Liberty

Notable quotes:
"... National Review ..."
"... National Review ..."
"... Justin Raimondo is the author of ..."
Feb 09, 2019 | home.isi.org

The Bill Buckley of the paleoconservatives has arrived, and just in time for the Trump era. While Tucker Carlson's rhetorical reach may not stretch as far and wide as Buckley's, he evokes the same gaily combative spirit that young conservatives of the 1960s admired in the founder of National Review . Both emerged as symbols of a new and rising movement, an insurgency on the right that delighted in confronting and demolishing the mythology of modern liberalism -- "owning the libs" as we say nowadays -- as Buckley regularly did on his PBS-aired TV show Firing Line and as Carlson does five times a week on Fox News.

Yet that is where the resemblance ends. The "fusionism" of Buckley and National Review was a far cry from the unreconstructed America First-ism of an earlier American right, so ably reconfigured by Carlson for the twenty-first century. The original Buckley program brought together the three contending factions of the conservative movement: the anti-communists, the social conservatives, and the nascent libertarian movement. The America First coalition personified by Carlson connects the paleoconservatives, long thought to be the least influential of the right's many factions, with millions of radicalized middle Americans, the inhabitants of "flyover country" -- that is, the least influential people in the nation, the "forgotten people" Trump directly appealed to.

The revolution in conservative thought represented by Carlson sets many of what Buckley would have recognized as the central principles of modern conservatism on their head. Beyond that, however, is the fundamental difference in their respective positions: Buckley came to be part of the political class, the coastal elite that has ruled the nation since its earliest days: Carlson targets those people as the hapless captains of a "ship of fools," the title of his new book.

A decadent and self-isolated elite elected Donald Trump, says Carlson. Yes, somewhat tiresomely, Carlson launches his polemic with the eternal search for whom to "blame" for the victory of the "unappealing," "vulgar and ignorant" Trump. Once we get past this boilerplate, however, Carlson homes in on the real problem: the bicoastal oligarchy that dominates the rest of the country and is determined to hold on to power no matter what the cost.

They invaded Iraq on a pretext, bailed out Wall Street, lowered interest rates to zero, unleashed an unprecedented tide of immigration, and stood by while the country's manufacturing foundation was eaten away and the middle class collapsed. Yet still, the oligarchs felt entitled to rule, and they certainly expected to continue their rule beyond that November night in 2016, despite the fact that they were lording it over a population with which they had almost nothing in common.

In a phrase that will surely earn him howls of outrage from the guardians of political correctness, Carlson describes the "Latin Americanization" of the U.S. economy, where the income distribution curve is coming to resemble what one might find under a new form of feudalism. The Democrats, once the party of the working class, now advance the interests of the progressive bourgeoisie in D.C., New York, and Silicon Valley.

This Latin Americanization process is not defined merely by the isolation of the ruling class, its arrogance and indifference to the fate of its own people, but also by a major demographic project: the wholesale substitution of more pliable subjects for the voting population. When the East Germans of the German Democratic Republic rose up in rebellion and the communists solicited ideas to get back in the workers' good graces, the Stalinist poet/playwright Bertolt Brecht opined, "Would it not be easier in that case for the government to dissolve the people and elect another?" That is precisely what is happening. The American people never voted for it. Indeed, at every chance they have been given to express their opinion on mass immigration and open borders, the result has been an overwhelming and unmitigated rejection of both.

Carlson raises a question that no one else dares ask, for fear of the answer: Are we a country anymore? Or are we a sprawling borderless empire that simply expands and spreads, unbidden, like some mindless amoeba? "Again and again, we are told that these changes are entirely good," Carlson writes. "Change itself is inherently virtuous, our leaders explain. Those who oppose it are bigots." We have no common language, culture, history -- so why should we remain a country?

Our rulers cannot and will not answer this question. It violates everything they believe, everything they hold sacred: it strikes at the very heart of their worldview. Carlson points out that this country is in the midst of a disorienting, alienating, and potentially dangerous transformation that is changing the kind of country we were into something that may not be a country at all. If you oppose this, you're an enemy of diversity -- which is now our highest value.

We are not allowed to debate this: like all religious dogmas, it is beyond dispute, and any questioning of its wisdom is apt to get you run out of town on a rail. The penalty is so high because the policy is so unpopular, except with the bicoastal oligarchy, which imports cheap computer nerds from India to run their companies and Guatemalan nannies to raise their children. Mexican gardeners order their landscapes, while robbers, rapists, and drug dealers in this country illegally spread disorder in the neighborhoods on the other side of the railroad tracks. Not that the elites care: it isn't happening in the leafy suburbs they inhabit, which haven't changed since 1956.

And they wonder why the peasants with pitchforks are on the march. Not even the Bourbons were this indifferent to reality. How could they not have seen Trump and the upsurge of right-wing populism coming? How could they not have realized that, as Carlson puts it, "virtually none of their core beliefs had majority support from the population they governed. It was a strange arrangement for a democracy. In the end, it was unsustainable."

Right down the line, from immigration to foreign policy to the economic policies that enriched Silicon Valley and impoverished Middle America, the Davos crowd's agenda is the polar opposite of what most Americans want. Indeed, if a single phrase embodies the new conservative dispensation's view of the elite's policy agenda, and its conservative doppelgänger, Trump's supporters on the right often repeat it with ill-concealed contempt: Invade the world, invite the world.

This was the policy of the George W. Bush administration, and, with only slight rhetorical modifications, the mind-set that animated the Obama administration, not to mention most of the 2016 would-be Republican aspirants. Yet Americans of both parties were sick and tired of being lied to about the most disastrous war in their history, so they ignored the establishment outcries when Trump denounced the Iraq War as based on a lie. Trump was supposed to lose the South Carolina primary due to this "faux pas," but as usual the conventional wisdom was wrong: he won overwhelmingly.

Carlson's chapter on our "Foolish Wars" does something I have seen no other conservative work do: it documents the betrayal of the neoconservatives and their attempted reentry into the legions of the left. Max Boot, formerly a minor neocon known for advocating an "American empire," has now become one of many competing gurus of the NeverTrumpers and is busily trying to convince his newfound leftist comrades that he's really one of them. Carlson's mere listing of all the countries Boot has demanded we hit underscores the sheer craziness and lack of accountability that has dominated our discourse for years.

One almost feels sorry for Bill Kristol -- almost! -- as Carlson documents the trail of failed predictions ("They'll greet us as liberators!") and disastrous policies initiated by the little Lenin of the neocons. It's a virtually unbroken record of failed bets, miscalculations, and outright lies spelled out over decades -- a record that would doom any other pundit to irrelevance, instead of gifting him a prime spot on the cable networks and the op-ed pages.

Buckley made room for the neoconservatives when they defected from a pacifistic Democratic Party in the 1960s. Now Carlson is formalizing their unceremonious exit from the right by giving them a good shove. They'll land on their feet: they always do, like a hobo jumping off a boxcar. Let Tucker's book serve as a warning to the next train they try to hitch a ride on. ♦

Justin Raimondo is the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement (ISI Books).

[Feb 09, 2019] Hungary Shows the West the Path to Survival

Notable quotes:
"... It is clear that on immigration, Eastern Europe differs from the rest of the continent -- attitudes represented politically only through the populist right in the west are thoroughly mainstream in the east. ..."
Feb 09, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

For starters, he talks about demography. Like many countries in Europe, Hungary's birthrates have plummeted. Orbán has commenced a campaign to raise them, with measures including generous maternity and paternity leave stipends, subsidies of up to 50 euros a month per child, tax write-offs, and housing assistance for couples that have three or more children. The government has also sent out questionnaires asking Hungarians whether they think the solution to Hungary's demographic crisis is stronger support for families or higher immigration. Katalin Novak, Orbán's minister of family and youth, explained unabashedly that the purpose of this was "to send a clear message to Brussels: the renovation of Europe is impossible without support for families and Hungary wants neither immigration nor a modification of its population." This sort of frankness from leaders in the wealthier West is inconceivable. At a press gathering I recently attended, a Macron minister holding a comparable post focused most of the conversation on the expansion of gay rights.

Of course, the other half of the demography subject is immigration. In an address during the fall of 2016 that still resonates, Orbán proclaimed that Europe is "in mortal danger":

The danger is "not attacking us the way wars and natural disasters do mass migration is a slow stream of water persistently eroding the shores. It is masquerading as a humanitarian cause, but its true nature is the occupation of territory. And what is gaining territory for them is losing territory for us. Flocks of obsessed human rights defenders feel the overwhelming urge to reprimand us . [A]llegedly we are hostile xenophobes but the truth is that the history of our nation is also one of inclusion, of the intertwining of cultures. Those who have sought to come here as new family members, as allies, or as displaced persons fearing for their lives have been let in to make a new home for themselves. But those who have come here with the intention of changing our country, of shaping our nation in their own image, have been met with resistance."

Faced with the Merkel Million Man Migration, Orbán ordered Hungary's army to build a fence.

Bernard-Henri Lévy: Poster Boy For the False Europe How Brexit Burst the West's Immigration Taboos

Slovakia similarly refused to take in a quota of migrants dictated by Brussels and Berlin. The former president of the Czech Republic, Vaclav Klaus, wrote a short but excellent book, Europe All Inclusive , about the migration crisis in which he charged that Europe's western elites were supporting mass immigration explicitly to smash the remaining power of nation states so full European unification could be achieved. Poland has likewise refused EU demands to resettle refugees from the Mideast and North Africa.

It is clear that on immigration, Eastern Europe differs from the rest of the continent -- attitudes represented politically only through the populist right in the west are thoroughly mainstream in the east. This difference in political culture is so vast, it can be traced to many sources. A similar divergence surfaced before, during the Cold War, when Eastern Europeans stubbornly refused to allow Western European intellectuals to forget or ignore that communism was a malign and murderous system. Today, Eastern Europeans note that they have been already been the subjects of utopian projects to remake society according to a progressive vision -- and they have no desire for a repeat.

Encountering Eastern European resistance to progressive dogma for the first time is a bracing experience. I first had it during the mid-'70s, in a grad school lecture class at Columbia. A charming and generally well-liked democratic socialist professor would take admiring students through various sophisticated Marxist readings, leading inexorably to the conclusion that the collapse of "late capitalism" was inevitable and to be welcomed. This semester, there happened to be two Poles taking the class, one of whom was a woman who had been an imprisoned dissident. They seemed to know their Marx as well as the prof did: they were smart, they were vocal, and they were having absolutely none of it. It made for an exciting several months, and for me a memorable demonstration that Eastern Europeans were more or less immune to the guilt and self-hatred permeating much of the West.

Perhaps we are in for a reprise, when the people of the west learn once again from the east what is true and essential about their own societies. Of course, there are parallels between the communists' aspirations and the open borders diversity project. Both are genuinely revolutionary in their desire to destroy and remake Western societies according to models that have little viable precedent in human experience. Under this logic, the '60s and '70s can be seen as a kind of transitional phase, during which Western socialists looked longingly towards various Third World models -- China, Cuba, Vietnam, Nicaragua -- after they gave up on the Soviet Union and their own proletariats as viable revolutionary agents. Now progressives hope that social justice will bloom from the political chaos generated by demographic shifts.

Without the voices of Eastern Europe, the West might not have successfully resisted the first progressive onslaught. Once again, it needs the voices of the east to illuminate its path to survival.

Scott McConnell is a founding editor of and the author of Ex-Neocon: Dispatches From the Post-9/11 Ideological Wars.

[Feb 09, 2019] The reality of neoliberal dominatin is not pretty: What we are experiencing today is the worst and most extreme form of predatory and parasitic financialised monopoly crony capitalism (crapitalism), allied with blatant aggressive jingoistic militarism and the crudest form of imperialist exploitation

Feb 09, 2019 | off-guardian.org

mark says Feb, 7, 2019

What we are experiencing today is the worst and most extreme form of predatory and parasitic financialised monopoly crony capitalism (crapitalism), allied with blatant aggressive jingoistic militarism and the crudest form of imperialist exploitation.

I'm not sure even Marx envisaged anything this corrupt and degraded. This must be the terminal stage of crapitalism's death throes. It can only end in war and complete collapse.

It comes as no surprise to see the Faux Left Blairite Backstabbers and the Oh-So-Right-On-Politically-Correct Trudeau Regime leading the charge for a bog standard Pinochet style US coup behind the likes of Trump, Bolton, Pompeo and recycled neocon war criminal and death squad queen Abrams.

They have taken off the mask and showed their true colours. The final outcome is uncertain but the fall out will extend way beyond Venezuela. It may well sound the death knell of our current system.

Archie1954 says Feb, 7, 2019
Isn't it amazing how the scum of the Earth arrange to get into high places? I am totally outraged that Canada had anything to do with fostering a coup in Venezuela! It disturbs my sense of national sovereignty and I rue the day that Trudeau made this apostosy a member of his cabinet. What a poor choice for a Minister of Foreign Affairs! Just consider Canada's recent problems with Saudi Arabia, the Meng problem with /China, the chastising of Russia because it protected its sole military base on the Black Sea and now this foolish interference in Venezuela's internal affairs brought on by US sanctions. Canada's stupidity in all these matters makes me bilious.
Michael says Feb, 7, 2019
Trudeau made Soros' protege Chrystia Freeland part of his cabinet because it was on that condition that Soros generously funded and otherwise caused Trudeau's election bid to be well supported. Billionaires make "democratic" politics so very easy. Canadians, naive, unquestioning, insouciant, swayed by very well rewarded PR & media and with the transacted aquiesence of the other two warmongering neoliberal parties (Conservative & NDP) voted their hopes and Justin Trudeau to PM. But positioning Chrystia Freeland on the global stage and creating a neoliberal path to imperious fascist globalization is the assigned purpose of the swish disposable Canadian Dauphin. Harper played his Soros assigned role, Trudeau will play his and Chrystia hers and they, as quislings all, will exit rewarded as pet functionaries of Soros and his overly entitled ilk. We authorize Soros by wishing & believing this coup is at worst simply a flawed democracy. Ukraine was a Soros coup, Canada is a Soros coup and Venezuela is a Soros coup. All very, very profitable. Don't look, this is how omelettes are made. Our political parties are always for rent by billionaires –that is the main function of political parties. Being corrupt is a design characteristic not a flaw. Buying political parties in supposed democracies is easier, less risky and much more profitable than stealing candy from babies. Canada is undefended against billionaires, invest here, concentrated public assets and resources are available and the quaint people are professionally deactivated. m\\

[Feb 09, 2019] No trade deal can dictate our relationship with China

Feb 09, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

anne , February 06, 2019 at 01:32 PM

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/no-trade-deal-can-dictate-our-relationship-with-china/2019/02/04/ff5ea754-28c4-11e9-8eef-0d74f4bf0295_story.html

February 4, 2019

No trade deal can dictate our relationship with China
By Lawrence H. Summers - Washington Post

As the United States and China continue to joust over trade and technology, the U.S. policy debate contrasts two views of the primary problem.

A first view expressed often in President Trump's tweets locates the key issue in the bilateral trade deficit that the United States chronically runs with China. On this theory of the problem, a solution is relatively easy: The Chinese could rearrange their imports of soybeans, fossil fuels and other products so more of them come from the United States, while countries now supplying China could export instead to nations now importing from the United States. This is what the Chinese keep offering since it means almost no real change in their economy. Neither levels of employment, output or total trade deficits and surpluses are likely to change much in either the United States or China.

A second view, held by more serious alarmists about the U.S.-China relationship, such as U.S. Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer, emphasizes problematic Chinese practices in key technological sectors. These range from theft of U.S. technologies to requirements that U.S. firms wishing to do business in China -- chiefly in the development of key technologies, such as artificial intelligence -- must form joint ventures with Chinese firms, especially those with connections to the Chinese government.

Such technological alarmists in and out of the administration hold that we can wall off U.S. technologies with sufficiently aggressive policies so China cannot steal them, or that we can pressure China to the point where it will give up government efforts at industrial leadership. Neither of these prospects is realistic.

In many ways, U.S. concerns over China and technology parallel concerns over the Soviet Union in the post-Sputnik missile gap period just before President John F. Kennedy's election in 1960. Or over Japan in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when it was often joked that "the Cold War is over and Japan won."

When atomic weapons were our most sensitive military secret, their creation required extensive sophisticated infrastructure. Yet the United States and Russia essentially had no normal interchange, so we were able to maintain a lead of three or four years with respect to both fission and fusion weapons.

Technology for artificial intelligence in development today, however, can be operated on widely available equipment. And there are hundreds of thousands of Chinese citizens studying in the United States or working for U.S. companies that develop such technology. Keeping U.S. knowledge out of Chinese hands for substantial lengths of time is impracticable short of a massive breaking of economic ties.

Nor is it likely for the Chinese government to halt its support of technology development. How would the United States react if other countries demanded that we close down DARPA, the Defense Department's advanced research agency, because it represented unfair competition? Or if trading partners argued that U.S. support for private clean-energy companies, such as the subsidies provided by the Obama administration, was an unfair trade practice? Much of our current information technology and communications infrastructure comes directly or indirectly out of Bell Labs, which was financed out of the profits of a government-regulated and -protected monopoly. Would the United States have responded constructively to demands from other countries to dismantle the Bell system?

A focus on resisting the Chinese economic threat will likely not only be ineffective but may also be counterproductive if it diverts private and public energy from more productive pursuits. I remember well from the early Clinton administration that the great symbol of efforts to constrain unfair Japanese practices was Kodak's case against Fuji, the Japanese photographic film company that attracted massive attention from Kodak's senior management and U.S. policymakers. Perhaps if Kodak had instead focused on the digital photography ideas its scientists had developed, it would still be a significant company.

Where we can mobilize international support, we should, of course, push China to live up to its trade obligations and seek to modify rules in the World Trade Organization where they do not cover problematic practices. But in reality, our competitive success over the next generation will depend much more on what happens in our economy and society than at any international negotiating table.

Will our national investment in applied scientific research continue to languish to the point where even the most brilliant young scientists cannot get their first research grants until they are in their 40s? Will public officials who surely know better continue to allow creationism to be taught as serious science in U.S. public schools in a century with so much progress in life sciences? Will public policy concern itself with the strength and competitiveness of U.S. information technology companies as well as with their marketing practices? Will a national effort be made to improve the dismal performance of U.S. students at every level in international comparisons of mathematical and scientific achievement?

These questions and others like them, much more than any trade negotiation, will determine how the United States competes over the next generation. The Russian and the Japanese challenges pushed us forward as a nation in very constructive ways. So can the Chinese challenge if we seize the opportunity it represents.


Lawrence Summers is a professor at and past president of Harvard University.

[Feb 09, 2019] Neoliberalism's collapse is probably inevitable but what will come next is completely unclear

Notable quotes:
"... Unfettered individual creativity may have fostered some great – if fetishised – art, as well as rapid mechanical and technological developments. But it has also encouraged unbridled competition in every sphere of life, whether beneficial to humankind or not, and however wasteful of resources. ..."
"... At its worst, it has unleashed quite literally an arms race, one that – because of a mix of our unconstrained creativity, our godlessness and the economic logic of the military-industrial complex – culminated in the development of nuclear weapons. We have now devised the most complete and horrific ways imaginable to kill each other. We can commit genocide on a global scale ..."
"... Those among the elites who understand that neoliberalism has had its day are exploiting the old ideology of grab-it-for-yourself capitalism while deflecting attention from their greed and the maintenance of their privilege by sowing discord and insinuating dark threats. ..."
"... The criticisms of the neoliberal elite made by the ethnic nationalists sound persuasive because they are rooted in truths about neoliberalism's failure. But as critics, they are disingenuous. They have no solutions apart from their own personal advancement in the existing, failed, self-sabotaging system. ..."
"... This trend – what I have previously ascribed to a group I call the "dissenters" – understands that radical new thinking is required. But given that this group is being actively crushed by the old neoliberal elite and the new authoritarians, it has little public and political space to explore its ideas, to experiment, to collaborate, as it urgently needs to. ..."
Feb 09, 2019 | www.unz.com

Ok neoliberalism is bad and is collapsing. We all understadn that. The different in opinions here is only in timeframe of the collapse and the main reason (end of cheap oil, WWIII, etc). But so far no plausible alternative exists. Canwe return to the New Deal, if top management betrayed the working class and allied with capital owners in a hope later to became such capital owners themselves (and many did).

The experience of the USSR tells as that each Nomenklatura (technocratic elite with the goal of "betterment" of people) degrade very quickly (two generations were enough for Bolshevik's elite for complete degradation) and often is ready switch sides for the place in neoliberal elite.

So while after 2008 neoliberalism exist in zombie states (which is more bloodthirsty then previous) they issue of successor to neoliberalism is widely open.

In one sense, their diagnosis is correct: Europe and the [neo]neoliberal tradition are coming apart at the seams. But not because, as they strongly imply, European politicians are pandering to the basest instincts of a mindless rabble – the ordinary people they have so little faith in.

Rather, it is because a long experiment in Neoliberalism has finally run its course. Neoliberalism has patently failed – and failed catastrophically.

... ... ...

Neoliberalism, like most ideologies, has an upside. Its respect for the individual and his freedoms, its interest in nurturing human creativity, and its promotion of "universal values" over tribal attachment have had some positive consequences.

But neoliberal ideology has been very effective at hiding its dark side – or more accurately, at persuading us that this dark side is the consequence of neoliberalism's abandonment rather than inherent to the neoliberal's political project.

The loss of traditional social bonds – tribal, sectarian, geographic – has left people today more lonely, more isolated than was true of any previous human society. We may pay lip service to universal values, but in our atomised communities, we feel adrift, abandoned and angry.

Humanitarian resource grabs

The neoliberal's professed concern for others' welfare and their rights has, in reality, provided cynical cover for a series of ever-more transparent resource grabs. The parading of neoliberalism's humanitarian credentials has entitled our elites to leave a trail of carnage and wreckage in their wake in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and soon, it seems, in Venezuela. We have killed with our kindness and then stolen our victims' inheritance.

Unfettered individual creativity may have fostered some great – if fetishised – art, as well as rapid mechanical and technological developments. But it has also encouraged unbridled competition in every sphere of life, whether beneficial to humankind or not, and however wasteful of resources.

At its worst, it has unleashed quite literally an arms race, one that – because of a mix of our unconstrained creativity, our godlessness and the economic logic of the military-industrial complex – culminated in the development of nuclear weapons. We have now devised the most complete and horrific ways imaginable to kill each other. We can commit genocide on a global scale .

Meanwhile, the absolute prioritising of the individual has sanctioned a pathological self-absorption, a selfishness that has provided fertile ground not only for capitalism, materialism and consumerism but for the fusing of all of them into a turbo-charged neoliberalism. That has entitled a tiny elite to amass and squirrel away most of the planet's wealth out of reach of the rest of humanity.

Worst of all, our rampant creativity, our self-regard and our competitiveness have blinded us to all things bigger and smaller than ourselves. We lack an emotional and spiritual connection to our planet, to other animals, to future generations, to the chaotic harmony of our universe. What we cannot understand or control, we ignore or mock.

And so the neoliberal impulse has driven us to the brink of extinguishing our species and possibly all life on our planet. Our drive to asset-strip, to hoard resources for personal gain, to plunder nature's riches without respect to the consequences is so overwhelming, so compulsive that the planet will have to find a way to rebalance itself. And if we carry on, that new balance – what we limply term "climate change" – will necessitate that we are stripped from the planet.

Nadir of a dangerous arrogance

One can plausibly argue that humans have been on this suicidal path for some time. Competition, creativity, selfishness predate neoliberalism, after all. But neoliberalism removed the last restraints, it crushed any opposing sentiment as irrational, as uncivilised, as primitive.

Neoliberalism isn't the cause of our predicament. It is the nadir of a dangerous arrogance we as a species have been indulging for too long, where the individual's good trumps any collective good, defined in the widest possible sense.

The neoliberal reveres his small, partial field of knowledge and expertise, eclipsing ancient and future wisdoms, those rooted in natural cycles, the seasons and a wonder at the ineffable and unknowable. The neoliberal's relentless and exclusive focus is on "progress", growth, accumulation.

What is needed to save us is radical change. Not tinkering, not reform, but an entirely new vision that removes the individual and his personal gratification from the centre of our social organisation.

This is impossible to contemplate for the elites who think more neoliberalism, not less, is the solution. Anyone departing from their prescriptions, anyone who aspires to be more than a technocrat correcting minor defects in the status quo, is presented as a menace. Despite the modesty of their proposals, Jeremy Corbyn in the UK and Bernie Sanders in the US have been reviled by a media, political and intellectual elite heavily invested in blindly pursuing the path to self-destruction.

Status-quo cheerleaders

As a result, we now have three clear political trends.

The first is the status-quo cheerleaders like the European writers of neoliberalism's latest – last? – manifesto . With every utterance they prove how irrelevant they have become, how incapable they are of supplying answers to the question of where we must head next. They adamantly refuse both to look inwards to see where neoliberalism went wrong and to look outwards to consider how we might extricate ourselves.

Irresponsibly, these guardians of the status quo lump together the second and third trends in the futile hope of preserving their grip on power. Both trends are derided indiscriminately as "populism", as the politics of envy, the politics of the mob. These two fundamentally opposed, alternative trends are treated as indistinguishable.

This will not save neoliberalism, but it will assist in promoting the much worse of the two alternatives.

Those among the elites who understand that neoliberalism has had its day are exploiting the old ideology of grab-it-for-yourself capitalism while deflecting attention from their greed and the maintenance of their privilege by sowing discord and insinuating dark threats.

The criticisms of the neoliberal elite made by the ethnic nationalists sound persuasive because they are rooted in truths about neoliberalism's failure. But as critics, they are disingenuous. They have no solutions apart from their own personal advancement in the existing, failed, self-sabotaging system.

The new authoritarians are reverting to old, trusted models of xenophobic nationalism, scapegoating others to shore up their own power. They are ditching the ostentatious, conscience-salving sensitivities of the neoliberal so that they can continue plundering with heady abandon. If the ship is going down, then they will be gorging on the buffet till the waters reach the dining-hall ceiling.

Where hope can reside

The third trend is the only place where hope can reside. This trend – what I have previously ascribed to a group I call the "dissenters" – understands that radical new thinking is required. But given that this group is being actively crushed by the old neoliberal elite and the new authoritarians, it has little public and political space to explore its ideas, to experiment, to collaborate, as it urgently needs to.

Social media provides a potentially vital platform to begin critiquing the old, failed system, to raise awareness of what has gone wrong, to contemplate and share radical new ideas, and to mobilise. But the neoliberals and authoritarians understand this as a threat to their own privilege. Under a confected hysteria about "fake news", they are rapidly working to snuff out even this small space.

We have so little time, but still the old guard wants to block any possible path to salvation – even as seas filled with plastic start to rise, as insect populations disappear across the globe, and as the planet prepares to cough us out like a lump of infected mucus.

We must not be hoodwinked by these posturing, manifesto-spouting liberals: the philosophers, historians and writers – the public relations wing – of our suicidal status quo. They did not warn us of the beast lying cradled in our midst. They failed to see the danger looming, and their narcissism blinds them still.

We should have no use for the guardians of the old, those who held our hands, who shone a light along a path that has led to the brink of our own extinction. We need to discard them, to close our ears to their siren song.

There are small voices struggling to be heard above the roar of the dying neoliberal elites and the trumpeting of the new authoritarians. They need to be listened to, to be helped to share and collaborate, to offer us their visions of a different world. One where the individual is no longer king. Where we learn some modesty and humility – and how to love in our infinitely small corner of the universe.

Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His books include "Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East" (Pluto Press) and "Disappearing Palestine: Israel's Experiments in Human Despair" (Zed Books). His website is www.jonathan-cook.net .


Rational , says: January 31, 2019 at 7:34 pm GMT

SAVAGES IN SUITS.

Democracy = populism = nationalism and patriotism are the pinnacles of a civilized society. We evolved towards these.

These people are just savages in suits, asking us to back into the gutter.

We refuse. They are refuse.

peter mcloughlin , says: February 1, 2019 at 4:02 pm GMT
'We can commit genocide on a global scale.'

With the growing movement towards nuclear war, we have indeed reached the nadir. It is important to see how humanity got here, for the signs are ominous.

The pattern of history is clear. Power (manifested as interest) has been present in every conflict of the past – no exception. It is the underlying motivation for war.

Other cultural factors might change, but not power. Interest cuts across all apparently unifying principles: family, kin, nation, religion, ideology, politics – everything. We unite with the enemies of our principles, because that is what serves our interest. It is power, not any of the above concepts, that is the cause of war.

https://www.ghostsofhistory.wordpress.com/

AWM , says: February 1, 2019 at 6:08 pm GMT
We are predators.
But Christ gave us an option.
Some people need to think about it.
MarkinLA , says: February 2, 2019 at 7:03 pm GMT
Maybe it is just me but I didn't see any actual solution or much of anything in his third group. You know, the one with all the "correct" answers. All I saw was that it was a glorious vision without all the failings of the other two while rejecting all the badthink.

Every major tragedy in human history starts out with people thinking they have a system better than all the previous that ever occurred. It too soon becomes a religion that needs to defend itself by executing all the blasphemers.

peterAUS , says: February 2, 2019 at 7:22 pm GMT

Maybe it is just me but I didn't see any actual solution or much of anything in his third group. You know, the one with all the "correct" answers. All I saw was that it was a glorious vision without all the failings of the other two while rejecting all the badthink.

Exactly.

I've been waiting for the author, or some from his "group", to post here at least a LINK to that solution, even a suggestion, of theirs. Hell, even the proper analysis of what's not right. A foundation of sort.

So far, as you said, nothing.

Anon[248], February 3, 2019 at 5:29 am GMT

Levy another Jewish "intellectual" shilling for globalization and open borders - for Western nations only, to hasten their demise. What else is new?

[Feb 09, 2019] Have you ever been to Kansas? Might as well move to Mexico, or Puerto Rico: Cost cutting means living costs are less because the standard of living is less.

Notable quotes:
"... Living standards are more than a house with indoor plumbing automatic heat, and lights at the flip of a switch. Its being able to talk with interested people about interesting topics. About being able to see interesting things when looking at the window, or walking, or riding. ..."
Feb 09, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

mulp -> Cudgel Carrot... February 08, 2019 at 03:38 AM

Have you ever been to Kansas? Might as well move to Mexico, or Puerto Rico. Kansas has gotten worse because of cost cutting. Cost cutting means living costs are less because the standard of living is less.

Living standards are more than a house with indoor plumbing automatic heat, and lights at the flip of a switch. Its being able to talk with interested people about interesting topics. About being able to see interesting things when looking at the window, or walking, or riding.

It tried to be connected to the world. If the politics were say 1870, they would want 600kph high speed train service so a day trip to a city like St Louis or Chicago was reasonable.

[Feb 08, 2019] To see how the US tries to put loopholes in its international legal commitments, you have to look at the reservations

Feb 08, 2019 | www.unz.com

hubba hubba Jon-Benet , says: Next New Comment

[Feb 08, 2019] Endless growth isn't a feature of a fiat monetary system; it is what is needed for capitalism to function well, it is a feature of capitalism

Feb 08, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Grant , February 8, 2019 at 12:04 pm

Endless growth isn't a feature of a fiat monetary system; it is what is needed for capitalism to function well, it is a feature of capitalism. As Herman Daly has pointed out, a no-growth, sustainable economic system is different than an economic system based on endless growth that has reached limits in throughput and pollution generation. We need radically different institutions and policies to deal with a no-growth situation, I don't see how a commodity based money makes an ounce of logical sense in the world coming for us.

Maybe I am missing something. We should factor in ecological impacts, deal with limits to markets all together.

Markets and national income and product accounts don't presently do this. I also don't think we can realistically deal with the environmental crisis without some form of economic planning at the national level. Financialization is a given if we hold on to capitalism as we know it, since the financial part of the economy doesn't face resource and pollution limitations, whereas there are limits in regards to the real economy in that regard. A gold standard does what in regards to private banks creating credit money? We are reaching limits to growth in throughput and pollution generation (resource consumption and pollution generation is also highly inequitable), but the gold standard led us here too.

But, if we were to have a commodity based monetary system, and we wanted the underlying commodity to be something of actual worth, instead of a shiny metal, shouldn't we have something like a water standard? Seems that clean, drinkable water is far more valuable to us all than gold, regardless as to what Mr. Market says. Mr. Market is missing lots of ecological and social information.

Wukchumni , February 8, 2019 at 12:20 pm

Water* is too common to make money of, although generally fungible.

*not always: watching the price of an acre foot of water going from around $100 to a few thousand in the 5 year drought, was quite the education

Grant , February 8, 2019 at 1:21 pm

That was the view of classical economists like Ricardo. Water and environmental services were so abundant that we don't really place monetary values on the "gifts of nature". He did claim things that weren't true. Ricardian rent, for example, was based on his claim that soil couldn't be destroyed. It is not abundant in many parts of the world though, and will be less so in decades ahead. Many parts of the Mideast will very likely not be habitable by the end of the century. Would it make logical sense for gold to be worth more than water there? Even if it was, it would just say to me that using market information alone doesn't make tons of logical sense. And water is essential to life, agriculture, healthy human outcomes and healthy ecosystems. I know that neoclassical economists claim that they solved what is called Adam Smith's "diamond water paradox", but I don't think they did at all. I don't think that the monetary value of water captures its actual value, since we don't and can't price a wide range of environmental and social factors. We certainly can't get the value of water by a bunch of subjective valuations. Gold may have this or that market value, but if the price of gold is worth a thousand times as much as water, that doesn't mean it is a thousand times more important for us, the environment or human civilization. You and I aren't forced to take these things into account when we buy stuff, since this information is missing in markets, and our capacity to take non-market impacts into account is based upon our knowledge of those impacts, which is almost always limited. Like I said, if we are to address the environmental crisis, we have to deal with the limitations to markets themselves, and the realistic limits of pricing non-market impacts. Water is clearly much more valuable and fundamentally important to life, our species and ecosystems than gold. A century from now, no one will be debating that, and hopefully people are around then to debate.

Wukchumni , February 8, 2019 at 1:38 pm

If you monetized water, the Great Lakes would soon be Great Ponds, as market forces had their way.

Grant , February 8, 2019 at 3:23 pm

I don't think markets are appropriate for valuing things like water at all, we need more than market information to think about how much something is actually worth. That was Otto Neurath's and Karl William Kapp's argument in the socialist calculation debate in the early 20th century. I also don't see the logic of basing any currency on a commodity in the times we are in. But, if we were going to base it on a commodity with actual value; water, forests and soils that sequester carbon, why not base it on stuff like that? Far more important than gold, silver or any other single commodity like that. I realize such a thing would be hard to do, if not impossible, but I also think that expanding or contracting the monetary base because of the availability of a single commodity like gold doesn't make logical sense. If we are going to expand the monetary base, effective demand and if we are going to expand production, the consumption of resources and if that all leads to more pollution, then gold or some commodity should play no role in that determination. We should expand or contract based upon environmental and social information. The human economy is a subsystem of the larger system, which is the environment. Seems that it is too large relative to the larger system, so I don't think we should determine how large the subsystem is based upon a single commodity. That is a 19th and 20th century thing that doesn't seem to make sense. Daly, again, talks about the economics of a full world versus an empty world. We are in a full world, and the gold standard is a remnant of the empty world. To me, gold is just something that has a market value and something that you can invest in and make a profit on, potentially

[Feb 07, 2019] The Global Con Hidden in Trump's Tax Reform Law, Revealed

Notable quotes:
"... Last night, President Trump reserved a few minutes of his State of the Union address to praise his tax reform law, which turned a year old last month. To promote its passage, Mr. Trump and his congressional allies promised Americans that drastically lowered corporate tax rates would bring home large sums of capital that had been stashed overseas and finance a surge of domestic investment. ..."
"... Why would any multinational corporation pay America's 21 percent tax rate when it could pay the new "global minimum" rate of 10.5 percent on profits shifted to tax havens, particularly when there are few restrictions on how money can be moved around a company and its foreign subsidiaries? ..."
"... For starters, the law's repatriation deal did prompt a brief surge in offshore profits returning to the United States. But the total sum returned so far is well below the trillions many proponents predicted, and a large chunk of the returned funds have been used for record-breaking stock buybacks, which don't help workers and generate little real economic activity. ..."
"... Bottom line: the Trump tax cut is a giveaway to corporations that doesn't promote investment here ..."
Feb 07, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

anne , February 06, 2019 at 04:05 PM

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/06/opinion/business-economics/trump-tax-reform-state-of-the-union-2019.html

February 6, 2019

The Global Con Hidden in Trump's Tax Reform Law, Revealed
Why would any multinational corporation pay the new 21 percent rate when it could use the new "global minimum" loophole to pay half of that?
By Brad Setser

Last night, President Trump reserved a few minutes of his State of the Union address to praise his tax reform law, which turned a year old last month. To promote its passage, Mr. Trump and his congressional allies promised Americans that drastically lowered corporate tax rates would bring home large sums of capital that had been stashed overseas and finance a surge of domestic investment.

"For too long, our tax code has incentivized companies to leave our country in search of lower tax rates," he said, pitching voters in the fall of 2017. "My administration rejects the offshoring model, and we have embraced a brand-new model. It's called the American model."

The White House argued they wanted a system that "encourages companies to stay in America, grow in America, spend in America, and hire in America." Yet the bill he signed into law includes a sweetheart deal that allows companies that shift their profits abroad to pay tax at a rate well below the already-reduced corporate income tax -- an incentive shift that completely contradicts his stated goal.

Why would any multinational corporation pay America's 21 percent tax rate when it could pay the new "global minimum" rate of 10.5 percent on profits shifted to tax havens, particularly when there are few restrictions on how money can be moved around a company and its foreign subsidiaries?

These wonky concerns were largely brushed aside amid the political brawl. But now that a full year has passed since the tax bill became law, we have hard numbers we can evaluate.

For starters, the law's repatriation deal did prompt a brief surge in offshore profits returning to the United States. But the total sum returned so far is well below the trillions many proponents predicted, and a large chunk of the returned funds have been used for record-breaking stock buybacks, which don't help workers and generate little real economic activity.

And despite Mr. Trump's proud rhetoric regarding tax reform during his State of the Union address, there is no wide pattern of companies bringing back jobs or profits from abroad. The global distribution of corporations' offshore profits -- our best measure of their tax avoidance gymnastics -- hasn't budged from the prevailing trend.

Well over half the profits that American companies report earning abroad are still booked in only a few low-tax nations -- places that, of course, are not actually home to the customers, workers and taxpayers facilitating most of their business. A multinational corporation can route its global sales through Ireland, pay royalties to its Dutch subsidiary and then funnel income to its Bermudian subsidiary -- taking advantage of Bermuda's corporate tax rate of zero.

Where American Profits Hide

[Graph]

No major technology company has jettisoned the finely tuned tax structures that allow a large share of its global profits to be booked offshore. Nor have major pharmaceutical companies stopped producing many of their most profitable drugs in Ireland. And Pepsi, to name just one major manufacturer, still makes the concentrate for its soda in Singapore, also a haven.

Eliminating the complex series of loopholes that encourage offshoring was a major talking point in the run-up to the 2017 tax bill, but most of them are still in place. The craftiest and largest corporations can still legally whittle down their effective tax rate into the single digits. (In fact, the new law encourages firms to move "tangible assets" -- like factories -- offshore).

Overall, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act amounted to a technocratic sleight of hand -- a scheme set to shift an even greater share of the federal tax burden onto the shoulders of American families. According to the Treasury Department's tally for fiscal year 2018, corporate income tax receipts fell by 31 percent, an unprecedented year-over-year drop in a time of economic growth (presumably a time when profits and government revenue should rise in tandem).

These damning results, to be sure, don't make for a good defense of what came before the new law. In theory under the old system, American-based firms still owed the government a cut of their global profits. In practice, large firms could indefinitely defer paying this tax until the funds could be repatriated -- usually when granted a tax holiday by a friendly administration.

Over a generation, this political dance was paired with rules that made it relatively easy for firms to transfer their most prized intellectual property -- say, the rights to popular software or the particular mix of ingredients for a hot new drug -- to their offshore subsidiaries. Taken together, they created a tax nirvana of sorts for multinational corporations, particularly in intellectual-property-intensive industries like tech and pharmaceuticals. But it wasn't enough.

For their next trick, the companies worked with their political allies to favorably frame the 2017 tax debate. When he was the House speaker, Paul Ryan was fond of talking about $3 trillion in "trapped" profits abroad. But those profits weren't actually, physically, sitting in a few tax havens.

Dwarf Economies, Giant American Profits

[Graph]

They were largely invested in United States bank accounts, securities and bonds issued by the Treasury or other companies headquartered in the States. As Adam Looney -- a Brookings Institution fellow and former Treasury Department official -- has explained, companies that needed to finance a new domestic investment could simply issue a bond effectively backed by its offshore cash. (For instance, Apple could bring its "trapped" funds onshore by selling a bond to Pfizer's offshore account, or vice versa.)

Put plainly, they got the best of both worlds: Uncle Sam could tax only a small slice of their books while they traded with one another based on the size of the entire pie.

The scale of the tax shifting has become so immense that some economists believe curbing it could raise reported G.D.P. by well over a percentage point -- something Mr. Trump, who's been absorbed by opportunities to brag about the economy, should notionally welcome.

President Trump's economic advisers and the key architects of the bill on Capitol Hill must have known their reform wasn't going to end business incentives that hurt American workers. Honest reform would have meant closing corporate loopholes -- a move they originally promised to make.

Should the opportunity present itself, perhaps to the next president, there are a couple of viable options for a fundamental tax overhaul that wouldn't require reinstating the 35 percent corporate tax rate.

One of several possibilities is to return to a system of global taxation without the deferrals that enabled empty repatriations. That would mean profits sneakily booked tax-free in Bermuda would be taxed every year at 21 percent. Profits booked in Ireland -- or other low-tax nations -- would be taxed at the difference between Ireland's rate and America's rate.

It's an approach that would protect small and midsize American companies while cracking down on bad corporate actors with enough fancy accountants and lawyers to rig the game to their advantage. And it would be far better than the fake tax reform passed a year ago.

anne -> anne... , February 07, 2019 at 06:16 AM
https://twitter.com/paulkrugman/status/1093271623212457985

Paul Krugman‏ @paulkrugman

This is very good from the essential Brad Setser, our leading expert on international trade and money flows. Bottom line: the Trump tax cut is a giveaway to corporations that doesn't promote investment here 1/

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/06/opinion/business-economics/trump-tax-reform-state-of-the-union-2019.html

The Global Con Hidden in Trump's Tax Reform Law, Revealed

Why would any multinational corporation pay the new 21 percent rate when it could use the new "global minimum" loophole to pay half of that?

2:14 PM - 6 Feb 2019

@Brad_Setser also gets at something I've been trying to explain: corporate cash "overseas" isn't really a stash of money that can be brought home, it's an accounting fiction that lets them avoid taxes, with no real consequences for investment 2/

And this chart, showing the predominance of tax avoidance in overseas "investment", is a classic 3/

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DywVXVvWsAAUvrh.jpg

[Feb 07, 2019] Government shutdown, Venezuela Donald Trump evolves into the best propagator of neoliberal fascism that tends to become a norm

Notable quotes:
"... The imperialists want to grab the rich oil fields for the US big oil cartel ..."
"... Venezuela must not become an example for other countries in the region on social-programs policy ..."
"... Venezuela must not turn to cooperation with rival powers like China and Russia. Such a prospect may give the country the ability to minimize the effects of the economic war ..."
"... So, when Trump declared the unelected Juan Guaido as the 'legitimate president' of Venezuela, all the main neoliberal powers of the West rushed to follow the decision. ..."
"... Donald Trump is the personification of an authoritarian system that increasingly unveils its true nature. The US empire makes the Venezuelan economy 'scream hard', as it did in Chile in 1973. The country then turned into the first laboratory of neoliberalism with the help of the Chicago Boys and a brutal dictatorship. So, as the big fraud is clear now, neoliberalism is losing ground and ideological influence over countries and societies, after decades of complete dominance. ..."
Feb 07, 2019 | failedevolution.blogspot.com

Even before the 2016 US presidential election, this blog supported that Donald Trump is a pure sample of neoliberal barbarism . Many almost laughed at this perception because Trump was being already promoted, more or less, as the 'terminator' of the neoliberal establishment. And many people, especially in the US, tired from the economic disasters, the growing inequality and the endless wars, were anxious to believe that this was indeed his special mission.

Right after the elections, we supported that the US establishment gave a brilliant performance by putting its reserve, Donald Trump, in power, against the only candidate that the same establishment identified as a real threat: Bernie Sanders.

Then, Trump sent the first shock wave to his supporters by literally hiring the Goldman Sachs banksters to run the economy. And right after that, he signed for more deregulation in favor of the Wall Street mafia that ruined the economy in 2008.

In 2017 , Trump bombed Syria for the first time, resembling the lies that led us to the Iraq war disaster. Despite the fact that the US Tomahawk missile attack had zero value in operational level (the United States allegedly warned Russia and Syria, while the targeted airport was operating normally just hours after the attack), Trump sent a clear message to the US deep state that he is prepared to meet all its demands - and especially the escalation of the confrontation with Russia.

Indeed, a year later, Trump built a pro-war team that includes the most bloodthirsty, hawkish neocons. And then, he ordered a second airstrike against Syria, together with his neocolonial friends.

In the middle of all this 'orgy' of pro-establishment moves, Trump offered a controversial withdrawal of US forces from Syria and Afghanistan to save whatever was possible from his 'anti-interventionist' profile. And it was indeed a highly controversial action with very little value, considering all these US military bases that are still fully operational in the broader Middle East and beyond. Not to mention the various ways through which the US intervenes in the area (training proxies, equip them with heavy weapons, supporting the Saudis and contribute to war crimes in Yemen, etc.)

And then , after this very short break, Trump returned to 'business as usual' to satisfy the neoliberal establishment with a 'glorious' record. He achieved a 35-day government shutdown, which is the "longest shutdown in US history" .

Trump conducted the longest experiment on neoliberals' ultimate goal: abolishing the annoying presence of the state. And this was just a taste of what Trump is willing to do in order to satisfy all neoliberals' wet dreams.

And now, we have the Venezuela issue. Since Hugo Chavez nationalized PDVSA, the central oil and natural gas company, the US empire launched a fierce economic war against the country. Yet, while all previous US administrations were trying to replace legitimate governments with their puppets as much silently as possible through slow-motion coup operations, Trump has no problem to do it in plain sight.

And perhaps the best proof for that is a statement by one of the most warmongering figures of the neocon/neoliberal cabal, hired by Trump . As John Bolton cynically and openly admitted recently, " It will make a big difference to the United States economically if we could have American oil companies really invest in and produce the oil capabilities in Venezuela. "

Therefore, one should be very naive of course to believe that the Western imperialist gang seriously cares about the Venezuelan people and especially the poor. Here are three basic reasons behind the open US intervention in Venezuela:

  1. The imperialists want to grab the rich oil fields for the US big oil cartel, as well as the great untapped natural resources , particularly gold (mostly for the Canadian companies).
  2. Venezuela must not become an example for other countries in the region on social-programs policy, which is mainly funded by the oil production. The imperialists know that they must interrupt the path of Venezuela to real Socialism by force if necessary. Neoliberalism must prevail by all means for the benefit of the big banks and corporations.
  3. Venezuela must not turn to cooperation with rival powers like China and Russia. Such a prospect may give the country the ability to minimize the effects of the economic war. The country may find an alternative to escape the Western sanctions in order to fund its social programs for the benefit of the people. And, of course, the West will never accept the exploitation of the Venezuelan resources by the Sino-Russian bloc.

So, when Trump declared the unelected Juan Guaido as the 'legitimate president' of Venezuela, all the main neoliberal powers of the West rushed to follow the decision.

This is something we have never seen before. The 'liberal democracies' of the West - only by name - immediately, uncritically and without hesitation jumped on the same boat with Trump towards this outrageously undemocratic action. They recognized Washington's puppet as the legitimate president of a third country. A man that was never elected by the Venezuelan people and has very low popularity in the country. Even worse, the EU parliament approved this action , killing any last remnants of democracy in the Union.

Yet, it seems that the US is finding increasingly difficult to force many countries to align with its agenda. Even some European countries took some distance from the attempted constitutional coup, with Italy even trying to veto EU's decision to recognize Guaido.

Donald Trump is the personification of an authoritarian system that increasingly unveils its true nature. The US empire makes the Venezuelan economy 'scream hard', as it did in Chile in 1973. The country then turned into the first laboratory of neoliberalism with the help of the Chicago Boys and a brutal dictatorship. So, as the big fraud is clear now, neoliberalism is losing ground and ideological influence over countries and societies, after decades of complete dominance.

This unprecedented action by the Western neoliberal powers to recognize Guaido is a serious sign that neoliberalism returns to its roots and slips towards fascism. It appears now that this is the only way to maintain some level of power.

[Feb 07, 2019] I am 70 and am thinking that when I was growing up the US Democrats represented the concepts of socialism and the Republicans that of capitalism. Today I see the Democrats as representing capitalism and Republicans representing fascism.

Feb 07, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

psychohistorian , Feb 7, 2019 9:29:56 PM | link

I just had this insight and wanted to share it here.

I am 70 and am thinking that when I was growing up the US Democrats represented the concepts of socialism and the Republicans that of capitalism. Today I see the Democrats as representing capitalism and Republicans representing fascism.

A commenter on another thread asked me about my China socialism focus and referred to the US Interstate highway system initiated in the Eisenhower era when the marginal tax rate was in the low 90 percent range. America has and continues to embrace aspects of socialism they refuse to believe exists in America.......the effects of MSM brainwashing and propaganda. China is attempting a mixed economy favoring socialism AFAICT

[Feb 07, 2019] Bernie arrived on the scene like a time traveler from an era before the unbreakable stranglehold of neoliberalism

If Trump runs of the defense of neoliberalism platform he will lose. But Trump proved to be a bad, superficial politician, Republican Obama so to speak, so he may take this advice from his entourage. Trump proved to be a puppet of MIC and Israel, his tax cuts had shown that he is a regular "trickle down" neoliberal. So he attraction to voters is down substantially. Now
Polling is unambiguous here. If you define the "center" as a position somewhere between those of the two parties, when it comes to economic issues the public is overwhelmingly left of center; if anything, it's to the left of the Democrats. Tax cuts for the rich are the G.O.P.'s defining policy, but two-thirds of voters believe that taxes on the rich are actually too low, while only 7 percent believe that they're too high. Voters support Elizabeth Warren's proposed tax on large fortunes by a three-to-one majority. Only a small minority want to see cuts in Medicaid, even though such cuts have been central to every G.O.P. health care proposal in recent years.
Notable quotes:
"... Insiders have suggested that Trump plans to explicitly run against socialism in 2020. In fact, in playing up the dangers of socialism, he may be positioning himself to run against Bernie Sanders in 2020. ..."
"... Sanders's rebuttal to Trump's address gave us a preview of how he plans to respond to the mounting attacks on socialism from the Right. President Trump said tonight, quote, "We are born free, and we will stay free," end of quote. Well I say to President Trump, people are not truly free when they can't afford to go to the doctor when they are sick. People are not truly free when they cannot afford to buy the prescription drugs they desperately need. People are not truly free when they are unable to retire with dignity. People are not truly free when they are exhausted because they are working longer and longer hours for lower wages. People are not truly free when they cannot afford a decent place in which to live. People certainly are not free when they cannot afford to feed their families. ..."
"... As Dr Martin Luther King Jr said in 1968, and I quote, "This country has socialism for the rich, and rugged individualism for the poor." What Dr. King said then was true, and it is true today, and it remains absolutely unacceptable. ..."
"... In essence what we're seeing here is Bernie Sanders challenging the popular equation of capitalism with democracy and freedom. This is the same point Bernie has been making for decades. "People have been brainwashed into thinking socialism automatically means slave-labor camps, dictatorship and lack of freedom of speech," he said in 1976. This Cold War dogma swept the pervasive reality of capitalist unfreedom - from the bondage of poverty to the perversions of formal democracy under the pressure of a dominant economic class - under the rug. In a 1986 interview, Bernie elaborated: ..."
"... All that socialism means to me, to be very frank with you, is democracy with a small "d." I believe in democracy, and by democracy I mean that, to as great an extent as possible, human beings have the right to control their own lives. And that means that you cannot separate the political structure from the economic structure. One has to be an idiot to believe that the average working person who's making $10,000 or $12,000 a year is equal in political power to somebody who is the head of a large bank or corporation. So, if you believe in political democracy, if you believe in equality, you have to believe in economic democracy as well. ..."
"... The rise of neoliberalism and the fall of the Soviet Union relieved the capitalist state's elite of the need to keep shoring up the equation between capitalism and freedom. Capitalists and their ideology had triumphed, hegemony was theirs, and socialism was no real threat, a foggy memory of a distant era. But forty years of stagnating wages, rising living costs, and intermittent chaos caused by capitalist economic crisis remade the world - slowly, and then all at once. When Bernie Sanders finally took socialist class politics to the national stage three years ago, people were willing to listen. ..."
Feb 06, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

Christopher H. , February 06, 2019 at 01:36 PM

https://jacobinmag.com/2019/02/trump-state-of-union-socialism

02.06.2019

Trump Is Right to Be Afraid of Socialism
BY MEAGAN DAY

... I think he's scared," said Ocasio-Cortez of Trump's socialism remarks. "He sees that everything is closing in on him. And he knows he's losing the battle of public opinion when it comes to the actual substantive proposals that we're advancing to the public." Given the remarkable popularity of proposals like Bernie's Medicare for All and tuition-free college and Ocasio-Cortez's 70 percent top marginal tax rate, she's probably onto something.

Insiders have suggested that Trump plans to explicitly run against socialism in 2020. In fact, in playing up the dangers of socialism, he may be positioning himself to run against Bernie Sanders in 2020. That would be a smart move, since Bernie is the most popular politician in America and could very well be Trump's direct contender in the general election, if he can successfully dodge attacks from the establishment wing of the Democratic Party in the primary.

Sanders's rebuttal to Trump's address gave us a preview of how he plans to respond to the mounting attacks on socialism from the Right. President Trump said tonight, quote, "We are born free, and we will stay free," end of quote. Well I say to President Trump, people are not truly free when they can't afford to go to the doctor when they are sick. People are not truly free when they cannot afford to buy the prescription drugs they desperately need. People are not truly free when they are unable to retire with dignity. People are not truly free when they are exhausted because they are working longer and longer hours for lower wages. People are not truly free when they cannot afford a decent place in which to live. People certainly are not free when they cannot afford to feed their families.

As Dr Martin Luther King Jr said in 1968, and I quote, "This country has socialism for the rich, and rugged individualism for the poor." What Dr. King said then was true, and it is true today, and it remains absolutely unacceptable.

In essence what we're seeing here is Bernie Sanders challenging the popular equation of capitalism with democracy and freedom. This is the same point Bernie has been making for decades. "People have been brainwashed into thinking socialism automatically means slave-labor camps, dictatorship and lack of freedom of speech," he said in 1976. This Cold War dogma swept the pervasive reality of capitalist unfreedom - from the bondage of poverty to the perversions of formal democracy under the pressure of a dominant economic class - under the rug. In a 1986 interview, Bernie elaborated:

All that socialism means to me, to be very frank with you, is democracy with a small "d." I believe in democracy, and by democracy I mean that, to as great an extent as possible, human beings have the right to control their own lives. And that means that you cannot separate the political structure from the economic structure. One has to be an idiot to believe that the average working person who's making $10,000 or $12,000 a year is equal in political power to somebody who is the head of a large bank or corporation. So, if you believe in political democracy, if you believe in equality, you have to believe in economic democracy as well.

For more than four decades, Bernie made these points to relatively small audiences. In 2016, everything changed, and he now makes them to an audience of millions.

The rise of neoliberalism and the fall of the Soviet Union relieved the capitalist state's elite of the need to keep shoring up the equation between capitalism and freedom. Capitalists and their ideology had triumphed, hegemony was theirs, and socialism was no real threat, a foggy memory of a distant era. But forty years of stagnating wages, rising living costs, and intermittent chaos caused by capitalist economic crisis remade the world - slowly, and then all at once. When Bernie Sanders finally took socialist class politics to the national stage three years ago, people were willing to listen.

Bernie has been so successful at changing the conversation that the President now feels obligated to regurgitate Cold War nostrums about socialism and unfreedom to a new generation.

Good, let him. Each apocalyptic admonition is an opportunity for Bernie, and the rest of us socialists, to articulate a different perspective, one in which freedom and democracy are elusive at present but achievable through a society-wide commitment to economic and social equality. We will only escape "coercion, domination, and control" when we structure society to prioritize the well-being of the many over the desires of the greedy few.

Mr. Bill said in reply to anne... February 06, 2019 at 03:29 PM

A lot of the opinion part of what Paul Krugman says, in this article, maybe, doesn't ring quite true, although I don't dispute the facts.

Poll after poll show that 75% of us agree on 80% of the issues, regardless of which political tribe we identify with.

I tend to think that the real problem is that neither the GOP, which represents the top 1% of the economically comfortable, nor the Democrats who represent the top 10%, are representative of the majority of Americans.

Frantically trying to slice and dice the electorate into questionably accurate tranches, ignores the elephant in the room, Paul.

[Feb 07, 2019] Does the European Union generate external instability? by Branko Milanovic

As neocolonial empire of it s own (albeit the one that is vassal of the USA) yes it does, especially in xUSSR state where EU wants to capture the makets. Ukraine is a nice example here.
Feb 07, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

https://www.socialeurope.eu/external-instability

February 5, 2019

Does the European Union generate external instability?
The historic achievement of peace within a Europe of universal norms is belied by the external instability engendered by violent and incoherent interventions.
By Branko Milanovic

The European Union is justly admired for making war among its members impossible. This is no small achievement in a continent which was in a state of semi-permanent warfare for the past two millennia.

It is not only that we cannot even imagine the usual 19th and 20th century antagonists, such as France and Germany, going to war ever again. The same is true of other, lesser-known animosities which have led periodically to bloodlettings: between Poles and Germans, Hungarians and Romanians, Greeks and Bulgarians. Unthinkable is also the idea that the United Kingdom and Spain could end up, regarding Gibraltar, in a reprise of the Falklands/Malvinas war.

Destabilised

But creating geopolitical stability internally has not, during the last two decades, been followed by external geopolitical stability along the fringes of the union. Most of the big EU member states (UK, Poland, Italy, Spain) participated, often eagerly, in Operation Iraqi Freedom, which led to the deaths of some half a million people, destabilised the middle east even further and produced Islamic State.

Then, seemingly not having learned from this fiasco, France and Italy spearheaded another regime change, this time in Libya. It ended in anarchy, another civil war, two competing governments and a UN Security Council deadlocked for years to come -- since it is clear that China and Russia will not in the foreseeable future vote to allow another western military intervention.

The wars along the long arc from Libya to Afghanistan, in which EU powers participated, were the proximate cause of large refugee flows a few years ago, which continue even now. (As I have written elsewhere, the underlying cause of migration is the large gap in incomes between Europe, on the one hand, and Africa and the 'greater middle east', on the other, but the sudden outbursts were caused by wars.)

The next example of generating instability was Ukraine, where the then government of Viktor Yanukovych, having only postponed the signing of an EU agreement, was driven out of power in 2014 in a coup-like movement supported by the union. It is sure that a reasonable counterfactual, with the same EU-Ukraine agreements being signed and without a war in eastern Ukraine and with Crimea still part of Ukraine, would have been much preferable to the current situation, which threatens to precipitate a war of even much greater dimensions.

Finally, consider Turkey, in an association agreement with the European Economic Community since 1963, and thus in a membership-awaiting antechamber for more than half a century. The initial period in power of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was marked by pro-European policies, a desire to create an 'Islamic democracy', in the mould of the Christian democracies of Italy and Germany, and civilian control over the army. But realisation that, because of its size and probably because of its dominant religion, Turkey would never be recognised as part of Europe led Erdoğan, gradually, to move in an altogether different direction -- with an almost zero chance that he would come back to his original pro-European stance.

The endless waiting period, with similarly protracted negotiations over what are now 35 chapters which need to be agreed between candidate countries and all 28 (or soon 27) members, is what lies behind the frustration with the EU in the Balkans. Long gone are the days when Greece could become a member after a couple of months (if that) of negotiations and an agreement between the French president, Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, and the German chancellor, Helmut Schmidt. The European bluff -- it neither has the stick nor the carrot -- albeit long hidden behind the veil of negotiations, was recently called by the Kosovo leadership, when it engaged in a trade war with Serbia. The EU could express its 'regrets' but it was squarely ignored. In the past, nether Kosovo nor any other Balkan state would have dared to defy Europe so openly.

Slow and hesitant

It all means that Europe needs a much better thought-out external policy with respect to its neighbours. There are already some signs that it is moving in that direction but it is doing so too slowly and hesitantly. A multilateral compact with Africa is needed to regulate migration from a continent with the fastest rising population and lowest incomes. Much more European investment -- in hard stuff, not conferences -- is needed. Rather than complaining about China's Belt and Road initiative, Europe should imitate it -- and, if it desires to counteract Chinese political influence, invest its own money to make more African friends. A similar set of much more proactive policies is required within the framework of the Mediterranean initiative, while military options in the region should be forsworn no less clearly than they are within the union.

When it comes to the potential members, as in the Balkans or the western republics of the former Soviet Union, interminable talks should be replaced by either special association with no expectation of EU membership or clearer, time-limited negotiations leading to membership. Both would manage expectations better and avoid the build-up of resentment and frustration.

The most important challenge is the relationship with Turkey. The EU does not have a blueprint for a Turkey after Erdoğan; nor can it offer anything to the Turkish secular opposition, as it is not clear within itself whether it wants Turkey in or out. It should be rather obvious that a European Turkey, with its vast economic potential and influence in the middle east, would be a huge economic and strategic asset. Such a Turkey would also behave differently in Syria and in Anatolia, because it would have an incentive to follow European rules.

This rethinking of the EU's neighbourhood policy thus calls, in short, for three things: greater economic aid to Africa, no support for wars or regime change, and much clearer rules and time-limits for membership talks.


Branko Milanovic is Visiting Presidential Professor at the Graduate Center of City University of New York (CUNY). Reply Wednesday, February 06, 2019 at 01:39 PM

Mr. Bill -> anne... , February 06, 2019 at 05:11 PM

Perhaps, you ascribe to the EU successes that it did not create.

The formation of the EU is not the vehicle that created, nor sustained, the uneasy peace. I suggest it was the resolution of WW2 that has determined the current state of tolerance.

I fear that the formation of the EU, in the end, will be the cause of a re-instigation of the age old skirmishes that have plagued the world, as you say, for two millennia.

The destruction of the Middle East by the West, not just the EU but the US, is a foolishness of biblical proportions.

The EU's disposition of Greece and Brexit are red flags that the EU is an unsustainable contrivance that will eventually, come undone. The mercantilist wars between France, England, Spain, Germany, Italy, etc, may rise again. Hopefully, I'm wrong.

[Feb 07, 2019] Venezuela's central bankers were persuaded to pledge their oil reserves and all assets of the state oil sector (including Citgo) as collateral for its foreign debt

Feb 07, 2019 | www.unz.com

kauchai, February 7, 2019 at 1:51 am GMT

" Second, Venezuela's central bankers were persuaded to pledge their oil reserves and all assets of the state oil sector (including Citgo) as collateral for its foreign debt. This meant that if Venezuela defaulted (or was forced into default by U.S. banks refusing to make timely payment on its foreign debt), bondholders and U.S. oil majors would be in a legal position to take possession of Venezuelan oil assets."

Solid proof that it was the empire who invented the practice of "debt trap" and is still flourishing with it.

hunor, February 7, 2019 at 6:24 am GMT

Thank you ! Made it very clear. Perfect reflection of the " Values of Western Civilization ".

Reaching to grab the whole universe, with no holds barred . And never show of any interest for the " truth". They are not even pretending anymore , awakening will be very painful for some.

Reuben Kaspate, February 7, 2019 at 2:38 pm GMT • 100 Words

Why would the U. S. based White-Protestant aristocracy care a hoot about the Brown-Catholic elites in the far off land? They don't! The comprador aristocracy in question isn't what it seems It's the same group that plagues the Americans.

The rootless louts, whose only raison d'ê·tre is to milk everything in sight and then retire to coastal cities, i.e. San Francisco, if you are a homosexual or New York City and State, if you are somewhat religious.

Poor Venezuelans don't stand a chance against the shysters!

[Feb 06, 2019] What about Sergei Millian?

Notable quotes:
"... Who provided former British spy Christopher Steele with the salacious and unverified information in the dossier? That's one question I'd like clarity on ..."
"... And it would also be interesting to hear from Sergei Millian, who is widely reported to be an unwitting source of information contained in the dossier, which was compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele. ..."
"... There is a reason why Republicans did not do so when they controlled the house. Think Uniparty! The Dems and Reps are two faces of the same party! The Uniparty did not want this to happen! Now that the Reps are minority, they can act like Reps because majority Dems won't grant their request! See how that works!!!! ..."
"... Think Uniparty! Then everything will suddenly start to make sense to you! ..."
"... Democrat politicians are lying to the people who care about MUH RUSSIA. These politicians don't care about it. They never did. From the start it was nothing more than a way to keep a certain powerful faction of their party in line by dangling MUH RUSSIA keys in front of them. ..."
"... They can't stop because the mindless rage monsters they whipped up (aka the shrieking base of the ever-growing left wing of the Party that lives on Cuntbook and Twatter) will turn on them if they do ..."
Feb 06, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Originally from: Adam Schiff Showboats, Republicans Call His Bluff On Russia Probe

The Witnesses

Making matters more interesting, Republicans today also put forward a motion to subpoena around a dozen witnesses. Those people, including officials involved in the FBI's Russia investigation as well as people likely to be familiar with the compilation of the Steele dossier. Of course, those people may not say what the Democrats want to hear so the Democrats rejected the motion.

It's actually a brilliant idea – we need more interviews. I think the Republicans should pounce on this opportunity to question these witnesses. Hopefully, they will ask some poignant questions we still don't have answers to.

Who provided former British spy Christopher Steele with the salacious and unverified information in the dossier? That's one question I'd like clarity on.

"Since the Democrats previously sought testimony from these individuals, such as James Baker and Sergei Millian, we assume they still want to speak to them," said Jack Langer, spokesman for committee Republican Rep. Devin Nunes.

"It's even possible some witnesses can help explain the 'more than circumstantial evidence' of Trump-Russia collusion that the Democrats claimed to have found two years ago but, inexplicably, never revealed to Committee Republicans or anyone else."

James Baker is the former FBI General Counsel who was close friends with former FBI Director James Comey. Baker is now the subject of a leak investigation. He reportedly accepted documents from Perkins Coie, the law firm used by the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign to pay for the unverified dossier.

What about Sergei Millian?

And it would also be interesting to hear from Sergei Millian, who is widely reported to be an unwitting source of information contained in the dossier, which was compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele.

These witnesses would surely have some interesting information to share if they were under questioned by the committee. I'm not sure it's information that would benefit Schiff's claim that there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. But I'm certain it would shed light on what really happened with the dossier and the internal machinations of the FBI's probe into the campaign.

Read the press release below from the House Intelligence Committee:

Republicans on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence issued the following statement today on sending the transcripts of interviews from the committee's Russia investigation to the Special Counsel's office.

artichoke , 39 minutes ago link

... Republicans today also put forward a motion to subpoena around a dozen witnesses. Those people, including officials involved in the FBI's Russia investigation as well as people likely to be familiar with the compilation of the Steele dossier. ...

It's a damn shame they didn't make that motion a month ago when they were in the majority on the committee.

Burnt To A Crisp , 23 minutes ago link

There is a reason why Republicans did not do so when they controlled the house. Think Uniparty! The Dems and Reps are two faces of the same party! The Uniparty did not want this to happen! Now that the Reps are minority, they can act like Reps because majority Dems won't grant their request! See how that works!!!!

This is how deep state protects it crime family members Rep and Dems! Think Uniparty! Then everything will suddenly start to make sense to you!

freedommusic

Attorney General and Secretary of Homeland Security Submit Joint Report on Impact of Foreign Interference on Election and Political/Campaign Infrastructure in 2018 Elections

https://www.dhs.gov/news/2019/02/05/acting-attorney-general-and-secretary-homeland-security-submit-joint-report-impact

Although the specific conclusions within the joint report must remain classified, the Departments have concluded there is no evidence to date that any identified activities of a foreign government or foreign agent had a material impact on the integrity or security of election infrastructure or political/campaign infrastructure used in the 2018 midterm elections for the United States Congress.

So no Russian interference in the 2018 election. What about any domestic interference? I don't see that mentioned...

deepelemblues

MUH RUSSIA has been a never-ending chain of diminishing returns for two and three quarter years

Democrat politicians are lying to the people who care about MUH RUSSIA. These politicians don't care about it. They never did. From the start it was nothing more than a way to keep a certain powerful faction of their party in line by dangling MUH RUSSIA keys in front of them. Jingle-jangle, jingle-jangle...

They can't stop because the mindless rage monsters they whipped up (aka the shrieking base of the ever-growing left wing of the Party that lives on Cuntbook and Twatter) will turn on them if they do with a tantrum of historic proportions

Only the hyperpoliticized REEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE machines whose entire lives are wrapped up in DUH STRUGGLE care about this MUH RUSSIA ********

TeraByte

I can only refer to history
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proscription
In the Roman Empire enemies of the state were blacklisted and they simply vanished.

[Feb 06, 2019] The modern Republican Party is all about cutting taxes on the rich and benefits for the poor and the middle class. And Trump, despite his campaign posturing, has turned out to be no different.

Feb 06, 2019 | www.unz.com

Meanwhile, the modern Republican Party is all about cutting taxes on the rich and benefits for the poor and the middle class. And Trump, despite his campaign posturing, has turned out to be no different.

Hence the failure of our political system to serve socially conservative/racist voters who also want to tax the rich and preserve Social Security. Democrats won't ratify their racism; Republicans, who have no such compunctions, will -- remember, the party establishment solidly backed Roy Moore's Senate bid -- but won't protect the programs they depend on.


Charles Pewitt , says: February 6, 2019 at 7:51 pm GMT

Paul Krugman is a baby boomer, pissant globalizer bastard, but he has made reasonable comments about immigration in the past.

Paul Krugman is a high IQ moron who has occasional bouts of clarity on the anti-worker aspects of mass legal immigration and illegal immigration. Krugman had it right in 2006 when he said that mass immigration lowers wages for workers in the USA.

Krugman in NY Times 2006:

First, the benefits of immigration to the population already here are small. The reason is that immigrant workers are, at least roughly speaking, paid their "marginal product": an immigrant worker is paid roughly the value of the additional goods and services he or she enables the U.S. economy to produce. That means that there isn't anything left over to increase the income of the people already here.

My second negative point is that immigration reduces the wages of domestic workers who compete with immigrants. That's just supply and demand: we're talking about large increases in the number of low-skill workers relative to other inputs into production, so it's inevitable that this means a fall in wages. Mr. Borjas and Mr. Katz have to go through a lot of number-crunching to turn that general proposition into specific estimates of the wage impact, but the general point seems impossible to deny.

Hypnotoad666 , says: February 6, 2019 at 11:05 pm GMT
@Charles Pewitt I agree Paul Krugman is a high IQ moron.

However, Krugman is also a relentless partisan hack. So his expert analysis always ends up supporting the current Democrat talking points -- whatever they may be.

Here, Krugman is disparaging any move to the center as the DNC wants to keep the Dems unified on the left and keep Schultz (or anyone like him) out of the race. Of course, the real reason Schultz has massively negative polling is because the Democrat establishment has been savaging him for precisely this reason.

Likewise, to Krugman a "Racist" politician is anyone who holds the same immigration position as Krugman did in 2006, which is now anathema to the Dem's new Open Borders electoral strategy.

It's only a matter of time until Krugman starts talking up Kamala Harris as the best thing that could happen for the economy.

TG , says: February 7, 2019 at 12:16 am GMT
Bottom line: Krugman – like any economist who was gifted with a fake Nobel Prize in Economics by his wealthy patrons (the Nobel Prize in Economics does not exist – check out wikipedia!) – is a whore whose only function is to protect the left flank of our corrupt and rapacious elite.

He's not a moron, and he's certainly not a liberal. His job – which pays very well mind you – is to pretend to be a sorta-kinda Keynesian New Dealer, but in reality, anything that the rich wants, he will end up defending. And even if he sorta kinda claims to be opposing something that the rich want which will impoverish the rest of us, when it comes to the bottom line, he will ruthlessly attack any opposition to these policies.

[Feb 06, 2019] The best guess is that the next downturn will similarly involve a mix of troubles, rather than one big thing. And over the past few months we've started to see how it could happen. It's by no means certain that a recession is looming, but some of our fears are beginning to come true.

Feb 06, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/24/opinion/global-recession.html

January 24, 2019

The Sum of Some Global Fears
Setting the table for a smorgasbord recession.
By Paul Krugman

The last global economic crisis, for all its complex detail, had one big, simple cause: A huge housing and debt bubble had emerged in both the United States and Europe, and it took the world economy down when it deflated.

The previous, milder recession, in 2001, also had a single cause: the bursting of a bubble in technology stocks and investment (remember Pets.com?).

But the slump before that, in 1990-91, was a messier story. It was a smorgasbord recession -- a downturn with multiple causes, ranging from the troubles of savings and loan institutions, to a glut of office buildings, to falling military spending at the end of the Cold War.

The best guess is that the next downturn will similarly involve a mix of troubles, rather than one big thing. And over the past few months we've started to see how it could happen. It's by no means certain that a recession is looming, but some of our fears are beginning to come true.

Right now, I see four distinct threats to the world economy. (I may be missing others.)

China: Many people, myself included, have been predicting a Chinese crisis for a long time -- but it has kept not happening. China's economy is deeply unbalanced, with too much investment and too little consumer spending; but time and again the government has been able to steer away from the cliff by ramping up construction and ordering banks to make credit ultra-easy.

But has the day of reckoning finally arrived? Given China's past resilience, it's hard to feel confident. Still, recent data on Chinese manufacturing look grim.

And trouble in China would have worldwide repercussions. We tend to think of China only as an export juggernaut, but it's also a huge buyer of goods, especially commodities like soybeans and oil; U.S. farmers and energy producers will be very unhappy if the Chinese economy stalls.

Europe: For some years Europe's underlying economic weakness, due to an aging population and Germany's obsession with running budget surpluses, was masked by recovery from the euro crisis. But the run of good luck seems to be coming to an end, with the uncertainty surrounding Brexit and Italy's slow-motion crisis undermining confidence; as with China, recent data are ugly.

And like China, Europe is a big player in the world economy, so its stumbles will spill over to everyone, the U.S. very much included.

Trade war: Over the past few decades, businesses around the world invested vast sums based on the belief that old-fashioned protectionism was a thing of the past. But Donald Trump hasn't just imposed high tariffs, he's demonstrated a willingness to violate the spirit, if not the letter, of existing trade agreements. You don't have to be a doctrinaire free-trader to believe that this must have a depressing economic effect.

For now, corporate leaders reportedly believe that things won't get out of hand, that the U.S. and China in particular will reach a deal. But this sentiment could turn suddenly if and when business realizes that the hard-liners still seem to be calling the shots.

The shutdown: It's not just the federal workers not getting paid. It's also the contractors, who will never get reimbursed for their losses, the food stamp recipients who will be cut off if the stalemate goes on, and more. Conventional estimates of the cost of the shutdown are almost surely too low, because they don't take account of the disruption a nonfunctioning government will impose on every aspect of life.

As in the case of a trade war, business leaders reportedly believe that the shutdown will soon be resolved. But what will happen to investment and hiring if and when corporate America concludes that Trump has boxed himself in, and that this could go on for many months?

So there are multiple things going wrong, all of which threaten the economy. How bad will it be?

The good news is that even taking all these negatives together, they don't come close to the body blow the world economy took from the 2008 financial crisis. The bad news is that it's not clear what policymakers can or will do to respond when things go wrong.

Monetary policy ­ -- that is, interest rate cuts by the Federal Reserve and its counterparts abroad -- is normally the first line of defense against recession. But the Fed has very limited room to cut, because interest rates are already low, and in Europe, where rates are negative, there's no room at all.

Fiscal policy -- temporary hikes in government spending and aid to vulnerable workers -- is the usual backup to monetary easing. But would a president who's holding federal workers hostage in pursuit of a pointless wall be willing to enact a sensible stimulus? And in Europe, any proposal for fiscal action would probably encounter the usual German nein.

Finally, dealing effectively with any kind of global slump requires a lot of international cooperation. How plausible is that given who's currently in charge?

Again, I'm not saying that a global recession is necessarily about to happen. But the risks are clearly rising: The conditions for such a slump are now in place, in a way they weren't even a few months ago. Reply Tuesday, January 29, 2019 at 11:07 AM


RC AKA Darryl, Ron said in reply to anne... , January 29, 2019 at 11:34 AM

Besides that, "Trump Slump" has a kind of a tantalizing ring to it.
Mr. Bill -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron... , February 03, 2019 at 08:29 PM
Perhaps. More than that, the economy seems to be synthetic, rather than organic.

If the predilection of our world toward the adulation of wealth accumulation is a disequilibrium, then it cannot be sustained.

anne -> anne... , January 29, 2019 at 02:12 PM
https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/01/eg-opinion-will-chinas-economy-hit-a-great-wall-the-new-york-times.html

January 26, 2019

As Karl Marx wrote in the middle of the nineteenth century: Imbalances in pre-capitalist economies do not produce aggregate demand crises and collapses. Why don't they? Because Pharaoh can always command that another pyramid be built, the king can always set out on another crusade, and the bishop can always build another cathedral. The expenditures that provide employment for those not producing the consumption-goods-in-demand only have to make profit-and-loss sense under the capitalist mode of production. Capitalist economies suffer Hayek-Minsky crises when deluded financial markets suddenly recognize that they have been over optimistic, have over invested, and need to shift investment-goods production back down not to normal but way below normal. And the collapse comes as near-universal bankruptcy and financial disruption prevents any such smooth expenditure-shifting. That Hayek-Minsky overinvestment crisis is what Paul Krugman, I, and other China-pessimists have been fearing for two decades now. But perhaps socialism with Chinese characteristics is insufficiently capitalist for that Hayek-Minsky logic to apply, and Paul and I and others should have been paying more attention to Uncle Karl. * **

* https://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/19/opinion/krugman-will-china-break.html

** https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/15/opinion/will-chinas-economy-hit-a-great-wall.html

-- Brad DeLong

JF -> anne... , January 30, 2019 at 11:25 AM
Thanks for sharing Delong's commentary.

Let us get Delong to write about a public banking system, not-for-profit, that provides basic banking services to account holders and has the credit-creating privilege to fund mortgages, durable goods lending, educational support lending with the goal of supporting medium term basic consumption needs of the population while even offering to pay a good interest on the monies held in these personal accounts.

He needs to think more about why credit creation by the public's government cant supplement the private wielding of this privilege (held by banks now, which he ponts out is a source of instability of great risk) as done in the US type countries.

The Chinese have moved to a mixed view, coming from one pole; we can have a mix too?

I'd suspect we would do it better because of our form of government and freedoms. We need more people like him thinking about this mix. And more people like Bernie Sanders who mobilizes such discussions into public discourse.

Thanks.

anne -> JF... , January 30, 2019 at 08:30 PM
The Chinese have moved to a mixed view, coming from one pole; we can have a mix too?

[ I would hope so. ]

Plp -> anne... , January 31, 2019 at 07:53 AM
The re inyroduction of markets does not prempt the greater refinement of s comm9n social development plan

Go's plan plus NEP

The Soviet republics did this the corporate capitalist way

And we could move toward more plan
The corporate capitalist way too

Look at Germany

Pro corporate social markets

Or the present Russian system
The mix can .CAN....
be worse then either pole

Plp -> JF... , January 31, 2019 at 07:49 AM
Yes

The state must control the commanding heights of the credit system

And use that control for the common good

Btw

The citizenry needs a place to store money form
Wealth against devaluation
Nothing more nothing less

A rate of real interest equal to the rate of change in labor productivity should be.limited to stored income directly from labor earnings
Not earning on earnings

Plp -> Plp... , January 31, 2019 at 07:56 AM
The tip- c

Treasury inflation protected console

Mr. Bill -> JF... , February 03, 2019 at 08:35 PM
Or the Pharoah can increase military spending. Like Rome. A corruption of the human conscience that lasted for over one thousand years, compared to our puny 250 years.
Mr. Bill -> Mr. Bill... , February 03, 2019 at 08:53 PM
I am a critic of Dr. De Long, with a memory of his ambition exceeding his reasoning. In his former life, he was a China dove, selling the neoliberal nostrum of free trade at the pinnacle of power.

A Walmartian apologist without the requisite wisdom.

Julio -> anne... , January 30, 2019 at 01:35 PM
Part of their criticism of China was its alleged overinvestment in "pyramids" in the form of ghost cities, empty buildings, and fast trains without passengers.

Turns out that even if true, that was a pretty clever economic plan.

As I understand it, the Chinese government has kept a tight rein on their financial system and its allocation of investments. You can have considerable private property and enrichment under that "insufficiently capitalistic" umbrella.

anne -> Julio ... , January 30, 2019 at 03:39 PM
As I understand it, the Chinese government has kept a tight rein on their financial system and its allocation of investments. You can have considerable private property and enrichment under that "insufficiently capitalistic" umbrella.

[ Chinese monetary and fiscal policy are primarily directed rather than general. So that a region, urban or rural, or class of companies or class of households will be the focus. China is presently building entire cities...

As for building pyramids, building usually anticipates use so that a project may take time to be well "occupied" or "utilized" but as I track projects the use comes and comes. The Chinese are just now completing a global positioning system and while the system adds to that of the United States use is increasing dramatically in China and beyond. This year there will be between 2 and 3 satellite launches weekly on average, but the Chinese anticipate need. ]

Plp -> anne... , January 31, 2019 at 08:06 AM
Yes
Building for future use that will come in time

The discount in the delay only applies if superior sides of finds are passed over

Ie if there's slack the opportunity cost is
Not a real cost


Every development system faces an unknowable path of innovation and pattern development

Vieeeing development at the firm level is never optimal.

Yes full best use utilization earlier is
Improving outcomes and clearly a constant goal of development
But real cost is measured by alternative projects not actual built because the chosen project crowds it out

With slack this can be avoided by increasing use of existing but unde utlized productive factors

Notice the causal circle here

Better utilization all the way around

In a a system with unknown unknowns
And real time planning constraints
We just do the best we can 24/7/365

anne -> Plp... , January 31, 2019 at 08:13 AM
Viewing development at the firm level is never optimal...

[ Paul Krugman made precisely this point today:

https://twitter.com/paulkrugman/status/1090973283753824259

An important lesson, industrial policy is not company policy. ]

Mr. Bill -> anne... , February 03, 2019 at 08:59 PM
An important lesson for whom ? Correct me if I'm wrong but firm development is today's industrial policy and has been for the past 50 years.

Are you saying that was wrong ?

Mr. Bill -> Mr. Bill... , February 03, 2019 at 09:02 PM
Company policy is clearly the industrial policy of the US of A.
anne -> Plp... , January 31, 2019 at 08:26 AM
Were Chinese planners to work according to demonstrated present need alone, most of Chinese infrastructure would not be built. Planning means anticipation for the Chinese and I can assure any reader who has not been to, say, Shanghai that the supposed pyramids that have been built are repeatedly proven useful to essential.

I remember an especially fierce typhoon approaching the southern coast of China west of Hong Kong not long after new rail lines had been completed. The Chinese emergency authorities evacuated some 4 million people in 24 hours to avoid the storm and there was no difficulty. The return was also smooth and fast.

Mr. Bill -> anne... , February 03, 2019 at 08:39 PM
Make no mistake, China has discovered the magic of military spending as the primary vehicle for regime security. Just like America.

Whether or not their public face is coy.

anne -> Julio ... , January 30, 2019 at 04:01 PM
Article after article in the Western press about China will argue that projects are "pyramids," and far too expensive, in the building and in use, even for pyramids, and Chinese planners seldom respond, but later a high-speed rail system extending from Hong Kong to Beijing will come to be so well traveled that there will be complaints in the Hong Kong press about all those bustling "mainland" commuters (880,000 passengers in the opening 2 weeks).

The bridge-tunnel system extending across the bay from Hong Kong to Macao? Well, the Chinese want an urban area extending from Hong Kong to Macao...

JF -> anne... , January 31, 2019 at 05:46 AM
Keynes used the narrative about burying stuff and paying people to dig it up as a way to support demand and physical distributions of flow where needed.

I wonder what he might have said if he faced a population of this size. I think he would understand what the chinese officials have done.

anne -> JF... , January 31, 2019 at 06:43 AM
Keynes used the narrative about burying stuff and paying people to dig it up as a way to support demand and physical distributions of flow where needed.

I wonder what he might have said if he faced a population of this size. I think he would understand what the Chinese officials have done.

[ What the Chinese have done is create moderately prosperous lives for hundred of millions of people, so in a sense stuff has been buried and dug up but this was wildly productive stuff. Forty-two years of real GDP growth at 9.5% yearly and per capita GDP growth at 8.4% yearly with the "slow" GDP growth of 2018 at 6.6%.

Life expectancy increased by 11 years from 1977 through 2016, and was 7.7 years higher than that in India in 2016 and within 2.4 years of that in the United States. ]

Mr. Bill -> anne... , February 03, 2019 at 09:13 PM
I think what you meant to say that American capitalists made a deal with a communist dictatorship to undermine the labor movement in the Western economies, resulting in a transfer of wealth from the Western middle class to the Chinese peasantry and the capitalists. Labor arbitrage.

You always claim that the pittance to the peasants justifies the destruction of American labor. You are a neoliberal apologist of the worst kind. You must have tenure.

JF -> Mr. Bill... , February 04, 2019 at 06:00 AM
Yes, a thoughtful US might have instead used a treaty of convergence agreement with the chinese people instead of what you aptly described.
Plp -> JF... , January 31, 2019 at 08:10 AM
China has a billion souls racing to build their way to the global technical frontier

So for them
Build it and they will come
is a certainty
Frontier systems no longer have

But why has speed been reduced by a third

Prior to full arrival at the frontier

Plp -> Plp... , January 31, 2019 at 08:11 AM
Conjecture China should still be developing at 9 percent
anne -> Plp... , January 31, 2019 at 09:41 AM
Conjecture China should still be developing at 9 percent...

[ This must be explained. After all, what about India or Brazil or South Africa or Indonesia or Mexico or Nigeria...?

Chinese planners projected yearly growth at 6.5% through this current 5 year period. The gains that are being aimed for take more application of technology, more advanced technology, and specific programs for the poorer regions. ]

anne -> Plp... , January 31, 2019 at 08:29 AM
China has a billion souls racing to build their way to the global technical frontier

So for them
Build it and they will come
is a certainty
Frontier systems no longer have

But why has speed been reduced by a third

Prior to full arrival at the frontier ?

[ Interesting, interesting and important argument. ]

JF -> anne... , January 31, 2019 at 10:29 AM
And the chinese may have acknowleged the need to move a bit more slowly, urbanization brings environmental issues that ought to be balanced and rapid change threatens a much needed balance.

And perhaps they are getting more stable, so to speak, in anticipation of inroducing a retirement earning system, like our social security system. I assume they will do this as it is one way to boost consumerism and reconcile the ageing society pressures (fewer next generation people to take care of the elderly as they ply their urban lives means the old needs an income stream to buy services). So they need to take care more not to dissipate resources wastefully or public sentiments until they are ready - so going a but more slowly might help.

anne -> anne... , January 31, 2019 at 11:14 AM
Also, in thinking about the rate of Chinese growth slowing from a 42 year average of 9.5% to 6.5%, the emphasis that is being placed in China on clean or green growth might slow the rate at least in transition years. I think that Dean Baker wrote on this growth characteristic a few years ago and I will find the paper.

Make no mistake however, green growth is being emphasized through China.

Plp -> anne... , January 31, 2019 at 11:52 AM
Simply accelerate the green transition in as much as its about new and different machines
anne -> Plp... , January 31, 2019 at 12:25 PM
Simply accelerate the green transition in as much as its about new and different machines.

[ Agreed, which is just what China is now doing in regard to electric vehicles. This year will be a fine test of how fast China and grow as a greening economy, for President Xi is going to publish a paper this week focusing on just how necessary green growth is for China.

I have the paper from Dean Baker, but an unconvinced that a green transition for an economy means slower growth:

http://www.cepr.net/documents/publications/military_spending_2007_05.pdf

May, 2007

The Economic Impact of the Iraq War and Higher Military Spending
By Dean Baker

I think Baker is incorrect here on a green transition. ]

Julio -> anne... , January 31, 2019 at 12:56 PM
They way our economists measure the value of these "pyramids" is hopelessly inadequate. E.g. where is the accounting that measures the opportunities opened to young people from remote villages engaged in small-scale agriculture.

And to your other point, they measure each project at a firm level (would a private company be making a profit from this?) and miss the projects effect on the larger economy.

And to make them (our economists) look even worse, even by their own measures most of these projects are quite successful.

Maybe they should be looking at China and trying to learn something. Wait, hasn't someone been saying that?

anne -> Julio ... , January 31, 2019 at 01:37 PM
They way our economists measure the value of these "pyramids" is hopelessly inadequate. E.g. where is the accounting that measures the opportunities opened to young people from remote villages engaged in small-scale agriculture....

[ Really, really important. ]

Mr. Bill -> Julio ... , February 03, 2019 at 09:24 PM
Oh they are looking at China and learning plenty about how a dictatorship can control the population and repress opposition. I cannot believe the ignorant, glowing discussion of Chinese fascism on this site in defense of disproven economic principles, actually quoting Marx, the disprover.
anne -> Julio ... , January 30, 2019 at 04:07 PM
A sense of what green infrastructure development has meant in urban China comes from American company 3M recording a revenue decline because the sales of masks to protect against smog in Chinese cities has fallen so steeply. Turning coal use to natural gas, makes lots and lots of difference...
Plp -> anne... , January 31, 2019 at 11:53 AM
The stats should put a value on pollution reduction
anne -> Plp... , January 31, 2019 at 12:28 PM
The stats should put a value on pollution reduction

[ That has been a thought for years and years, but has gone nowhere. I am interested in what is counted in GDP, with a green emphasis being reflected by other data. Weighing turtles against shovels is of no consequence. ]

Mr. Bill -> anne... , February 03, 2019 at 09:28 PM
China has destroyed its environment. They have no choice. It is not altruism. Your little girl on a pony machinations are idiotic.
Mr. Bill -> Mr. Bill... , February 03, 2019 at 09:35 PM
An article by Steven Roach may cool off the China bot, Anne, a bit:

https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/world-economy-without-china-by-stephen-s--roach-2016-10?barrier=accesspaylog

anne -> Julio ... , January 30, 2019 at 05:29 PM
As I understand it, the Chinese government has kept a tight rein on their financial system and its allocation of investments....

[ Not company by company control, but control of investment direction coupled with monitoring of company performance. China has been increasingly emphasizing the importance of advanced technology investment (research and development).

The United States years ago blocked China from participation in the International Space Station program. China then began to develop a space station of its own and is already offering access internationally. China just sent a satellite and rocket and lander and rover to explore the far side of the moon. The intent late this year is to land again on the moon and this time to retrieve samples of the crust and return them to earth. ]

anne -> Julio ... , January 30, 2019 at 05:39 PM
Returning to earth, there is scarcely a day when the Chinese leadership does not call attention to the severe poverty ending programs that will hopefully have set an economic floor for Chinese through the entire country. That means infrastructure through the poorer regions of the country or those regions that are considered economically viable with assistance. As for pyramids, that means building houses and all that is necessary for housing to be viable from roads and power and communications to schools and health care facilities and investing in jobs.
Plp -> anne... , January 30, 2019 at 05:39 PM
Yes simply expanding payments to households will increase GDP
How much real how much just nominal is a good question

Tra Dr could go put of wack of course
But so what
China is a developing nation
Short run
Trade deficits are not a problem at full tilt domestic production

The increase in urban dwellers is too slow now

[Feb 05, 2019] Trump and His Golfing Buddies Continue Neoliberalism s Assault on the Veteran s Administration by Lambert Strether

Notable quotes:
"... By Lambert Strether of Corrente . ..."
"... It's almost like there's a neo-liberal playbook, isn't there? No underpants gnomes , they! (1) Defund or sabotage, (2) Claim crisis, (3) Call for privatization (4) Profit! [ka-ching]. Congress underfunds the VA, then overloads it with Section 8 patients, a crisis occurs, and Obama's first response is send patients to the private system . ..."
"... Assuming that wait time is a function of resources, you can easily see how the playbook would work: (1) Reduce resources, (2) whinge about wait time, and (3) drain patients from the VA system, for profit! (Note that while Democrats are ostensibly jumping on board the #MedicareForAll train, they are, in the main, silent -- Warren and Sanders being the only notable exceptions -- about the destruction of an existing ..."
"... "This is nothing short of a steady march toward the privatization [1] of the VA," Sanders said. "It's going to happen piece by piece by piece until over a period of time there's not much in the VA to provide the quality care that our veterans deserve." ..."
"... Now, just because privatizing the Veterans Administration is a project of the political class as a whole doesn't mean that the Trump Administration hasn't brought its own special mix of corruption and buffoonery to the table. Indeed it has! Who, we might ask, were the actual factions in the Republican administration pushing for VA Mission? Three of Trump's squillionaire golfing buddies at Mar-a-Lago[2], as it all-too-believably turns out. From Pro Publica, " The Shadow Rulers of the VA ": ..."
"... The wretched excess of Trump's policy-by-golfing buddies aside, I don't see why privatiizing the Veterans Administration shouldn't become a major campaign issue, especially given Sanders' presence on the relevant committee. We send our children off to die in wars for regime change where the only winners are military contractors. ..."
Feb 03, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

February 3, 2019 By Lambert Strether of Corrente .

With the release of new proposed eligibility rules under the VA Mission Act, we see that privatization at the Veterans Administration (VA) continues to unfold, as outlined in the neoliberal playbook , to which we have alluded before:

The stories intertwine because they look like they're part of the neoliberal privatization playbook , here described in a post about America's universities:

It's almost like there's a neo-liberal playbook, isn't there? No underpants gnomes , they! (1) Defund or sabotage, (2) Claim crisis, (3) Call for privatization (4) Profit! [ka-ching]. Congress underfunds the VA, then overloads it with Section 8 patients, a crisis occurs, and Obama's first response is send patients to the private system .

Congress imposes huge unheard-of, pension requirements on the Post Office, such that it operates at a loss, and it's gradually cannibalized by private entities, whether for services or property. And charters are justified by a similar process.

(I've helpfully numbered the steps, and added 'sabotage' alongside defunding, although defunding is neoliberalism's main play, based on the ideology of austerity.)

We can see this process play out not only in public universities, public schools, the Post Office, and the TSA , but in Britain's NHS, a national treasure that the Tories are systematically and brutally dismantling .)

The political class has been trying to privatize the VA across several administrations -- " Veterans groups are angry after President Obama told them Monday that he is still considering a proposal to have treatment for service-connected injuries charged to veterans' private insurance plan" -- although it is true that the Trump administration has brought its own special brand of crassness to the project, as we shall see. As we might expect , the project has nothing to do with the wishes of veterans :

Nearly two-thirds of veterans oppose "privatizing VA hospitals and services," according to a poll released Tuesday by the Vet Voice Foundation. And some 80 percent of the veterans surveyed believe veterans "deserve their health care to be fully paid for, not vouchers which may not cover all the costs."

A plurality of veterans, or 42 percent of those surveyed, agreed with the statement that the VA "needs more doctors," according to the poll, indicating they believe the VA's problems are at least partly due to a personnel shortage [Step (1)].

Although Vet Voice is a progressive organization, the poll of 800 veterans was jointly conducted by a Democratic polling firm and a Republican one.

And the Veterans are right, because VA hospitals provide better care. Besides many anecdotes , we have this in Stars and Stripes, " Dartmouth study finds VA hospitals outperform others in same regions ":

A new study by Dartmouth College that compares Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals with other hospitals in the same regions found VA facilities often outperform others when it comes to mortality rates and patient safety.

Researchers compared performance data at VA hospitals against non-VA facilities in 121 regions. In 14 out of 15 measures, the VA performed "significantly better" than other hospitals, according to results from the study.

"We found a surprisingly high, to me, number of cases where the VA was the best hospital in the region," said Dr. William Weeks, who led the study. "Pretty rarely was it the worst hospital." "One has to wonder whether outsourcing care is the right choice if we care about veterans' outcomes," Weeks said. "The VA is, for the most part, doing at least as well as the private sector in a local setting, and pretty often are the best performers in that setting."

"One has to wonder" indeed! Be that it may, the new VA eligibility rules accelerate privatization. USA Today :

Nearly four times as many veterans could be eligible for private health care paid for by the Department of Veterans Affairs under sweeping rules the agency proposed Wednesday.

VA officials estimated the plan could increase the number of veterans eligible for private care to as many as 2.1 million – up from roughly 560,000 .

And here are the rules (apparently modeled after TriCare Prime , the military's insurance plan):

Assuming that wait time is a function of resources, you can easily see how the playbook would work: (1) Reduce resources, (2) whinge about wait time, and (3) drain patients from the VA system, for profit! (Note that while Democrats are ostensibly jumping on board the #MedicareForAll train, they are, in the main, silent -- Warren and Sanders being the only notable exceptions -- about the destruction of an existing , and highly functional, single payer system. So how do we get to this point? A previous iteration of the neoliberal playbook, of course!

* * *

Our story begins with the " hastily enacted " Veterans Choice Program of 2014 :

The program, which began in 2014, was supposed to give veterans a way around long waits in the VA. But veterans using the Choice Program still had to wait longer than allowed by law. And according to ProPublica and PolitiFact's analysis of VA data, the two companies hired to run the program [TriWest and Health Net] took almost $2 billion in fees, or about 24 percent of the companies' total program expenses .

More on those fees from Pacific Standard :

According to the agency's inspector general, the VA was paying the contractors at least $295 every time it authorized private care for a veteran. The fee was so high because the VA hurriedly launched the Choice Program as a short-term response to a crisis. Four years later, the fee never subsided -- it went up to as much as $318 per referral .. In many cases, the contractors' $295-plus processing fee for every referral was bigger than the doctor's bill for services rendered, the analysis of agency data showed.

Ka-ching! So, step (3) -- profit! -- worked out very well for TriWest and Health Net, piling up $2 billion in loot. ( Step (2) was a scandal of "35 veterans who had died while waiting for care in the Phoenix VHA system," step (1) being the usual denial of resources/sabotage). The VA Mission Act was the legislative response to Veterans Choice debacle. Naturally, it moved the privatization ball down the field. The American Prospect :

Only two of the 42 members on the House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committee opposed Mission last year , when it came up for a vote.

In other words, privatizing the Veterans Administration has strong bipartisan support. But:

One of those lawmakers, Bernie Sanders, the Vermont Democrat, reiterated his opposition to Mission in December.

"This is nothing short of a steady march toward the privatization [1] of the VA," Sanders said. "It's going to happen piece by piece by piece until over a period of time there's not much in the VA to provide the quality care that our veterans deserve."

Now, just because privatizing the Veterans Administration is a project of the political class as a whole doesn't mean that the Trump Administration hasn't brought its own special mix of corruption and buffoonery to the table. Indeed it has! Who, we might ask, were the actual factions in the Republican administration pushing for VA Mission? Three of Trump's squillionaire golfing buddies at Mar-a-Lago[2], as it all-too-believably turns out. From Pro Publica, " The Shadow Rulers of the VA ":

[Bruce Moskowitz, is a Palm Beach doctor who helps wealthy people obtain high-service "concierge" medical care] is one-third of an informal council that is exerting sweeping influence on the VA from Mar-a-Lago, President Donald Trump's private club in Palm Beach, Florida. The troika is led by Ike Perlmutter, the reclusive chairman of Marvel Entertainment, who is a longtime acquaintance of President Trump's. The third member is a lawyer named Marc Sherman. None of them has ever served in the U.S. military or government .

The arrangement is without parallel in modern presidential history.

Everything is like CalPERS.

The Federal Advisory Committee Act of 1972 provides a mechanism for agencies to consult panels of outside advisers, but such committees are subject to cost controls, public disclosure and government oversight. Other presidents have relied on unofficial "kitchen cabinets," but never before have outside advisers been so specifically assigned to one agency. During the transition, Trump handed out advisory roles to several rich associates, but they've all since faded away. The Mar-a-Lago Crowd, however, has deepened its involvement in the VA.

In September 2017, the Mar-a-Lago Crowd weighed in on the side of expanding the use of the private sector. "We think that some of the VA hospitals are delivering some specialty healthcare when they shouldn't and when referrals to private facilities or other VA centers would be a better option," Perlmutter wrote in an email to Shulkin and other officials. "Our solution is to make use of academic medical centers and medical trade groups, both of whom have offered to send review teams to the VA hospitals to help this effort."

In other words, they proposed inviting private health care executives to tell the VA which services they should outsource to private providers like themselves. It was precisely the kind of fox-in-the-henhouse scenario that the VA's defenders had warned against for years.

While it is true that the ideological ground for privatization was laid by the Koch Brothers , among others, the actual vector of tranmission, as it were, seems to have been the Mar-a-Lago crowd. There has been pushback against them, in the form of a Congressional request for a GAO investigation , and a lawsuit by veterans , but as we have seen, the neoliberal play continues to run.

* * *

The wretched excess of Trump's policy-by-golfing buddies aside, I don't see why privatiizing the Veterans Administration shouldn't become a major campaign issue, especially given Sanders' presence on the relevant committee. We send our children off to die in wars for regime change where the only winners are military contractors.

Then, when our children come home, we're going to send them into a health care system that's been as crapified as everybody else's (and that's before we get to PTSD, homelessness, and suicide). Surely a pitch along those lines would play in the heartland? If Sanders doesn't pick up the ball and run with it, Gabbard should.

NOTES

[1] More from Sanders. Common Dreams :

[SANDERS:] No one disagrees that veterans should be able to seek private care in cases where the VA cannot provide the specialized care they require, or when wait times for appointments are too long or when veterans might have to travel long distances for that care. The way to reduce wait times is to make sure that the VA is able to fill the more than 30,000 vacancies it currently has. This bill provides $5 billion for the Choice program. It provides nothing to fill the vacancies at the VA. That is wrong . My fear is that this bill will open the door to the draining, year after year, of much needed resources from the VA.

In other words, the way to solve the problem is not to take Step 1: Give the VA the resources that it needs.

[2] I continue to believe that golf play, or knowledge of golf play, should be a disqualification for high office.

[Feb 05, 2019] Dad Heartbreakingly Thinks His Connections Can Help Son Find Job

Feb 05, 2019 | local.theonion.com

CLEVELAND -- In a devastatingly sad overestimation of his influence in the professional world, local father Bruce Tenety, 54, expressed the heartbreaking belief Monday that his connections could help his son Justin, a recent college graduate, find a job. "You know, I actually have a friend in the media business, and if you shoot him an email and meet up for coffee, he just might be able to hook you up with something," said Tenety, who depressingly appeared to be under the impression that this tenuous contact from a conference he attended three years ago would not only remember his name, but would also be willing to extend an offer of employment to a 23-year-old he knows nothing about.

"I also know a guy who works at a PR firm in Mayfield Heights. Old Gary definitely owes me one from back in the day.

Hell, you could probably call him up right now and get an interview this week. Just tell him you're Bruce's kid."

At press time, sources confirmed Tenety had noticed his name was suspiciously absent from the references section on his son's most recent job application.

[Feb 05, 2019] Fed's Dudley Explains How I Learned To Stop Worrying Love The Fed's Balance Sheet

Feb 05, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

"Stocks have reached a permanently high plateau", "subprime is contained", "there's no icebergs this far south" and now "The Fed's balance sheet is not the threat that people seem to think it is."

Man's ability to willfully ignore 'downside possibilities' and remain cognitively dissonant far longer than logic (or their pocketbook) should allow seems to know no bound and none other than The Federal Reserve's Bill Dudley just unleashed what could be the piece de resistance of "nothing to see here, move along" agitprop.

fersur , 19 minutes ago link

Great Picture' Cowboying a Nuke while discussing confidence in the FED, quite appropo' !

TRUTH @ 9:00; Plus this week, Friday will be Huge !

Should a seated President jail someone that attempted his Assassination, or a Former President that planned to Nuke the Yellowstone Super Volcano Caldera, or someone that sold email password to China and CC copied all 'to and from' messages including those highly Confidential, or blame a former President for planning 911 False Flag attack, or expose Planned Parenthoods first Amputating tongues for silently shipping in bulk, or expose Democrat history of Decades of Projecting blame while committing War Crimes, or end 19 Year War in Afghanistan ( Longest War ) then Syria against Last Night's Congressional Vote to keep status quo, or 'take a knee' and quit being President !

costa ludus , 42 minutes ago link

Is this from The Onion?

[Feb 05, 2019] The Real Reason Stock Buybacks Are a Problem

Notable quotes:
"... By Steve Roth, publisher of Evonomics. He is a Seattle-based serial entrepreneur, and a student of economics and evolution. He blogs at Asymptosis, Angry Bear, and Seeking Alpha. Twitter: @asymptosis. Originally published at Evonomics ..."
"... And they're dead wrong that there's no difference between the two. Buybacks steal money not so much from corporate wages, but much more obviously and explicitly: from taxes that contribute to our common public purse. ..."
"... noblesse oblige ..."
"... Given the legal ability of corporate managers to use corporate funds to actively manipulate stock prices for their private benefit, how many of those corporate managers use their 'omniscience' to goose their private benefits and just how closely has the SEC been watching for insider trading? Martha Stewart learned her lesson in a show trial for our entertainment, but are we really supposed to believe she is the only person making use of inside knowledge to do a little private stock dealing? ..."
"... Our Society gives a special place to business enterprise on the theory that it benefits us all through innovation in products, their production, and distribution, and that business provides a livelihood for our people. Corporations receive disproportionate benefits protecting them from risk in their ventures. Stock buybacks and financial manipulations undermine the creative impetus [such as there were] that once drove corporate management, or more accurately they redirect that 'creative impetus' toward schemes for most efficiently looting what past managers built. ..."
Feb 05, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

The Real Reason Stock Buybacks Are a Problem Posted on February 5, 2019 by Yves Smith Yves here. Even though this article on stock buybacks by Steve Roth, cross posted below after this lenghty introduction, makes an important central point, I believe it is missing the forest for the trees. Roth acts as if stock buybacks are merely an alternative to dividends (or investing or paying workers more). It's far worse than that. Since the crisis, many companies have been borrowing to buy back stock. And why is that? Duh, because executives have big time incentives to goose the stock price, and stock buybacks have become a socially acceptable way to manipulate share prices.

We have from time to time published the work of William Lazonick, who has made a much more comprehensive critique of stock buybacks, with considerable underlying data. It's great to see his ideas finally going mainstream with the publication of an op-ed in the New York Times by Chuck Schumer and Bernie Sanders (odd couples like that tell you the tectonic plates are moving), and more important, their plan to introduce legislation to curb buybacks. As they sketched out:

Our bill will prohibit a corporation from buying back its own stock unless it invests in workers and communities first, including things like paying all workers at least $15 an hour, providing seven days of paid sick leave, and offering decent pensions and more reliable health benefits.

In other words, our legislation would set minimum requirements for corporate investment in workers and the long-term strength of the company as a precondition for a corporation entering into a share buyback plan. The goal is to curtail the overreliance on buybacks while also incentivizing the productive investment of corporate capital.

As you'll see, this is actually a modest proposal, although forcing companies to take care of workers before they engage in share price manipulation is an important reordering of priorities.

By way of contrast, here is the key section of a 2018 post by Lazonick, who also gives credit to the Congresscritters who have been dogging this abuse for some time:

For the Republican corporate tax cut to result in job creation, Congress must follow it up with legislation to rein in these distributions to shareholders. There is a straightforward and practical way to accomplish this objective: Congress should ban corporations from doing stock buybacks, more formally known as open-market stock repurchases. As if more evidence were needed, here are three reasons to expect that corporations will use the Republican tax break to do stock buybacks.

First, the stock-based compensation of senior executives incentivizes them to do distributions to shareholders. Annual mean remuneration of CEOs of the same 475 companies listed on the S&P 500 from 2007 through 2016 ranged from $9.4 million in 2009, when the stock market was in the dumps, to $20.1 million in 2015, when the stock market was booming. The vast majority of this total remuneration, ranging from 53 percent in 2009 to 77 percent in 2015, was in the form of realized gains from stock-based options and awards.

Second, for more than three decades, executives of major U.S. corporations have preached, conveniently masking their self-interest, that the paramount responsibility of their companies is to " create value " for shareholders. Most recently, from 2007 through 2016, stock repurchases by 461 companies on listed on the S&P 500 totaled $4 trillion, equal to 54 percent of profits. In addition, these companies declared $2.9 trillion in dividends, which were 39 percent of profits. Indeed, top corporate executives are often willing to incur debt, lay off employees, cut wages, sell assets, and eat into cash reserves to "maximize shareholder value."

Third, in recent years hedge fund activists have ramped up the pressure on companies to do buybacks. With their immense war chests of billions of dollars of assets under management, these corporate predators have used the proxy voting system, " wolfpack " collaboration among hedge funds, and direct engagement with management, which was once illegal, to participate in the looting of the U.S. business corporation.

Repurchases done on the open market, which constitute the vast majority of all buybacks, are nothing but manipulation of the stock market. So why are companies allowed to do them? Because of the 1980 election of Ronald Reagan as president on a platform of market deregulation. In November 1982, after Reagan had appointed Wall Street banker John Shad as chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the agency adopted Rule 10b-18 , which permits a company to do buybacks that can amount to hundreds of millions of dollars per day, trading day after trading day, without fear of being charged with stock-price manipulation. Rule 10b-18, which remains in force 35 years later, is a license to loot the U.S. business corporation.

The argument for rescinding Rule 10b-18 is overwhelming. As research I've done with the Institute for New Economic Thinking documents, buybacks wreak immense damage on households, companies, and the economy. The profits that major corporations reinvest in productive capabilities form the foundation for a prosperous middle class. Buybacks deprive companies of that investment capital, instead serving as a prime mode of making the richest households richer while eroding middle-class employment opportunities.

Moreover, the justification for buybacks rests on the faulty ideology that, for the sake of economic efficiency, companies should be run to "maximize shareholder value." Agency theory, the academic thinking that underpins this ideology, assumes that only shareholders take the risk of investing in the productive capabilities of companies. In fact, public shareholders do not as a rule provide financial capital to companies. They simply buy and sell outstanding shares. The true investors in productive capabilities are "households as workers," whose skills and efforts generate the company's innovative products, and "households as taxpayers," who devote a portion of their incomes to fund public investments in infrastructure and knowledge that companies need to be competitive.

Finally, the insidious Rule 10b-18 that for more than three decades has encouraged massive stock-market manipulation is just an ill-considered SEC regulation, adopted as part of Reagan "voodoo economics." The justification for Rule 10b-18 has never been debated, nor have its provisions been legislated, by Congress. That may, however, finally be changing. A number of U.S. senators, including Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), and Cory Booker (D-N.J.), have voiced criticisms of buybacks, as has former Vice President Joseph Biden .

The most persistent challenge to this corrupt practice has come from Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), who in 2015 wrote two highly critical letters to former SEC Chairman Mary Jo White, and who has recently challenged the prescription drug lobby group PhRMA to reconcile its claim that the pharmaceutical companies need high drug prices to fund research and development with the fact that the major companies spend virtually all their profits on buybacks and dividends.

It has hit the point where the biggest buyers of US stocks in aggregate are the companies that once issued them. This is not how a well functioning economy operates.

By Steve Roth, publisher of Evonomics. He is a Seattle-based serial entrepreneur, and a student of economics and evolution. He blogs at Asymptosis, Angry Bear, and Seeking Alpha. Twitter: @asymptosis. Originally published at Evonomics

Bernie Sanders and Chuck Schumer's New York Times op-ed, " Limit Corporate Stock Buybacks ," has thrown internet gasoline on the buyback debate. The left is waving the flag, and the right is trying to tear it down.

The core Sanders/Schumer argument: buybacks extract money from firms, money that could be used to pay workers more, and fund productive investment (including worker training and upskilling).

The counterargument: how are buybacks any different from dividend distributions that way? Both transfer cash from firms to households. We don't hear people complaining about dividend distributions stealing money from workers and investment.

That counterargument is absolutely right, even while it's completely wrong. Because both sides miss the overwhelming effect of stock buybacks (vs dividends). Buybacks are a massive tax dodge for shareholders.

Imagine Megacorp wants to transfer a billion dollars to its shareholders (notably including the huge shareholders in its C suite and on its corporate board). Whether they distribute dividends or buy back shares, either way Megacorp has a billion dollars less on its balance sheet. Its book value drops by $1B.

But what happens on the household, shareholder side? With a dividend distribution it's simple; households get $1B in taxable dividend income. With a buyback, households that sell shares also receive $1B in cash, but they give up their shares, which obviously have value.

That's where the (perfectly legal) tax avoidance lies -- perhaps best explained by example:

Suppose the average shareholder's shares were purchased for $20 each. That's the shareholders' tax basis. If Megacorp pays $25 a share (for 40M shares), the shareholders who sell have cap gains of $5 a share -- $200M in taxable income -- versus $1B if the same cash is paid out via dividends.

Dividends and long-term cap gains in the U.S. are currently taxed using the same rates and brackets: 15% if your income is above $38K, 20% if it's above $425K. If Megacorp chooses a $1B stock buyback, our imagined shareholders pay $40M in taxes (at the 20% rate), versus $200M in taxes on a dividend distribution.

Neither of these has any effect on corporate taxes, by the way. C-corporation profits (as opposed to S corporations and other "pass-throughs") are taxed at the corporate level, whether they get distributed or not, and no matter which distribution method is used.

There are other important problems with buybacks, mainly having to do with boards' and C suites' greater discretion over the timing and amounts of buybacks, and the potential for self-dealing price manipulation. (Contra Schumer and Sanders' odd bank-shot approach to this problem, we could just repeal Rule 10B-18 .)

But the right is right: Buybacks are no more pernicious than dividends in "stealing money" from firms, that could otherwise be used for worker pay and productive investment.

And they're dead wrong that there's no difference between the two. Buybacks steal money not so much from corporate wages, but much more obviously and explicitly: from taxes that contribute to our common public purse.


Altandmain , February 5, 2019 at 2:38 am

There is another consideration – back when marginal taxes at the highest bracket were much higher, one of the limits of executive compensation was the fact that even if they engaged in such behvaiour, most of this would be taxed away.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/oct/24/1percent-pay-tax-rate-80percent

It seems then that the solution is:

1. A straight up ban on stock buybacks, as they seem to be mainly an instrument for maximizing executive compensation by boosting EPS and share price, which are common metrics used to pay executives. They also result in debt from buybacks and less capital for actually meaningful investments.

2. The "Carried Interest" loophole should be immediately eliminated. This will also discourage "vulture private equity" as well, a social drain on society.

3. Taxes should be steeply progressive. This is to act as a deterrence against rent seeking. Perhaps the standard deduction could be increased even for ordinary working class citizens. Capital gains should be taxed at a comparable rate to labour or even higher (as the top 10% control 85% of stocks anyways).

4. A special high net worth enforcement unit should be set up in tax collection agencies around the world. This is to identify and catch high net worth individuals who engage in tax evasion and possibly aggressive tax planning as well.

5. Tax incentives should encourage corporations to invest in things that are actually productive, such as R&D, capital expenditures, and employee training. One key issue is that company executives know that share buybacks are the easiest way to maximize executive compensation and that they will often only be there for a few years. Competing through a superior product/service, developing R&D, good corporate culture, etc, is "hard" for executives and may not lead to a return. Plus it is often short term pain, long term gain.

6. Corporate governance clearly needs reform and I think that we may need something far more independent on boards than what is currently there. Often executives have a bias towards voting for high compensation knowing that they will someday face similar boards. They also tend to support management or be appointed to be "yes people" as opposed to be independent.

The biggest issue though is that our society's rich have no sense of noblesse oblige anymore. Their goal is to maximize their own compensation at society's expense. Tools like shareholder buybacks and private equity are just a cover for those objectives.

Jeremy Grimm , February 5, 2019 at 10:02 am

If we want to get fussed over taxes and tax evasion, domestic stock buybacks, capital gains taxes, and dividend taxes seem like small potatoes compared to the games international corporations play to realize their profits in countries that don't tax them.

Andrew Foland , February 5, 2019 at 3:03 am

I fail to see the monstrous tax dodge because the analysis fails to consider the integral of tax payments over the life of the stock.

Whomever sold the current shareholders their stock at $20 must have paid capital gains on that sale , unless it IPO'd at 20.

So there are effectively two cases. The first is that it IPO'd at 20. In this case, the shareholders put in the first 800M, and it doesn't seem unfair to tax them only on the additional 200M the company made.

The second is that it IPO'd at zero. Then the total amount of capital gains tax as it changed hands up to $20 (where current shareholders bought it) is on $800M. So again, taxing only $200M doesn't seem unfair.

For ipo prices between 0 and 20 you just have a combination of the two arguments.

One might conclude that the dividend tax double-taxes early share gains.

Why capital gains tax should be less than income tax makes no sense or obvious fairness. You might want to argue that dividend double-taxation isn't such a bad thing and effectively compensates for a low capital gains rate.

But the buyback isn't per se a tax dodge any more than the capital gains tax in the first place. And it would probably be conceptually cleaner just to raise the capital gains rate.

Yves Smith Post author , February 5, 2019 at 3:52 am

I didn't address this, and should have. He really is making a mountain out of a molehill.

Only about 1/4 of US stocks are held by taxable investors (the households he mentions). Retirement accounts including public and private pension funds, foundations, endowments, and foreign investors are all tax exempt. So any of them could have been the seller to the taxable household back in the day.

https://www.taxpolicycenter.org/taxvox/only-about-one-quarter-corporate-stock-owned-taxable-shareholders

PKMKII , February 5, 2019 at 9:51 am

You could argue that dividends get taxed at current rate, whereas capital gains from selling shares taxes at the rate at the time of the sale. Ergo, shareholders can wait for a decrease in capital gains taxes to sell and functionally dodge the taxes they would have paid if they received a dividend. However, it's still a weak argument as the capital gains rate could easily go up, and/or the value of the stock itself could fall for some other, unrelated reason. Yves' and Lazonick's critiques are much more relevant.

Mark , February 5, 2019 at 7:54 am

It's laudable and important to force companies to properly compensate workers before initiating stock buybacks. This won't solve he problem of using funds for buybacks instead of capital investments, R&D etc. To accomplish that we also need to un-Bork anti-trust law and actually have companies that are honestly competing with each other.

Colonel Smithers , February 5, 2019 at 7:54 am

Thank you, Yves.

It won't surprise you and the NC community that there's a debate on this side of the pond, too, as per https://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/aug/05/legal-and-general-boss-backs-andy-haldane-city-short-termism-shareholders , although the debate has gone quiet, perhaps due to the person sparking the debate going a bit quiet and not wanting to further diminish his chances of succeeding the matinee idol from the colonies.

Jeremy Grimm , February 5, 2019 at 9:56 am

To what extent have stock buybacks enabled corporate managers to leverage income streams in the corporations they 'manage' to increase corporate debt through bond issues? What happens to a corporation when it's revenue streams are impacted by ups-and-downs of the economy? Hasn't Professor Hudson gone on at length describing the instability such debt creates for a business? Dividends can move up-and-down with revenue streams, but bonds must be paid or there is a corporate cash flow problem. For a small business that means bankruptcy while for large corporate players I think that means takeover and merger further consolidating our monopoly and monopsony bloated Corporations. After all these years of stock buybacks and consolidation how much cash flow remains to leverage?

Given the legal ability of corporate managers to use corporate funds to actively manipulate stock prices for their private benefit, how many of those corporate managers use their 'omniscience' to goose their private benefits and just how closely has the SEC been watching for insider trading? Martha Stewart learned her lesson in a show trial for our entertainment, but are we really supposed to believe she is the only person making use of inside knowledge to do a little private stock dealing?

Worry about stock buybacks now? Too little and I fear much too late. How many of our great corporations are little more than Potemkin fronts for hollowed out shells of debt feeding a massive transfer of the wealth our country built over many generations into the hands of the obscenely wealthy?

Jeremy Grimm , February 5, 2019 at 10:20 am

Our Society gives a special place to business enterprise on the theory that it benefits us all through innovation in products, their production, and distribution, and that business provides a livelihood for our people. Corporations receive disproportionate benefits protecting them from risk in their ventures. Stock buybacks and financial manipulations undermine the creative impetus [such as there were] that once drove corporate management, or more accurately they redirect that 'creative impetus' toward schemes for most efficiently looting what past managers built.

[Feb 05, 2019] The bottom line is that this preoccupation with the 'headline number' for the current month as a single datapoint that is promoted by Wall Street and the Government for official economic data is a nasty neoliberal propaganda trick. You need to analise the whole time serioes to get an objective picture

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... And as for the median wage and income -- it is still too weak to sustain an economic recovery. ..."
Feb 05, 2019 | jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.com

The bottom line is that this preoccupation with the 'headline number' for the current month as a single datapoint that is promoted by Wall Street and the Government for official economic data is misleading.

The effective method of considering a heavily adjusted and revised data series like this is with a trend analysis of at least seven to twelve observations, and more if you can get them.

But, that makes for a much less interesting and convenient narrative.

And as for the median wage and income -- it is still too weak to sustain an economic recovery.

Stocks were a bit weak today, despite all this fabulous economic data, having exhausted the sugar rush that was spoonfed to them by their friendly neighborhood Federal Reserve.

[Feb 05, 2019] Astrology plus Fedomania

Feb 05, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Follows the excerpt from his latest Gartman letter.

We remain positive of equities because of what we have said time and time again each morning for the past several weeks and which needs to be re-said here this morning yet again for nothing has changed: the Fed has indeed "changed" its monetary policies and this change was made clear by Mr. Powell's comments of now more than a month ago and made clearer midweek last week following the FOMC meeting .

[Feb 05, 2019] Italy Guns For Glass-Steagall-Type Law to Break Up Banks, Cut Bailout Costs for Taxpayers

Looks like pendulum moved in opposite direction and neoliberals (and first of all financial oligarchy) might be crashed by the return of the New Deal style regulations as well as higher taxes on incomes. the latter measure is popular even in the USA.
Notable quotes:
"... By Don Quijones of Spain, Mexico, and the UK, and an editor at Wolf Street. Originally published at Wolf Street ..."
"... The bill will face stiff opposition from the domestic banking sector as well as the European Commission, which in 2017, under pressure from Europe's banking lobbies, abandoned its own pledge to break-up too-big-to-fail lenders. ..."
"... Since the global financial crisis, big banks on both sides of the Atlantic have been fighting tooth and nail all regulatory attempts to split their deposit-taking commercial units from their riskier investment banking units. ..."
Feb 05, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
By Don Quijones of Spain, Mexico, and the UK, and an editor at Wolf Street. Originally published at Wolf Street

On Friday, Italy's coalition government unveiled new banking regulations that it hopes to pass in the coming months, including a rule that would separate banks' commercial and investment arms. It would be the Italian equivalent of the Glass-Steagall Act, the 1933 U.S. law that separated commercial banks that took deposits, made loans, and processed transaction, from riskier investment banking activities. The law was designed to protect deposits. Its repeal in 1999 led to the consolidation of the U.S. banking sector, unfettered risk-taking by deposit-taking banks, and arguably the Financial Crisis just eight years later.

... ... ...

The bill will face stiff opposition from the domestic banking sector as well as the European Commission, which in 2017, under pressure from Europe's banking lobbies, abandoned its own pledge to break-up too-big-to-fail lenders.

Since the global financial crisis, big banks on both sides of the Atlantic have been fighting tooth and nail all regulatory attempts to split their deposit-taking commercial units from their riskier investment banking units. Such legislation would would make each entity smaller. And that is not in the interests of the big banks, nor the ECB, which hopes to breathe life into a new generation of trans-European super-banks by serving as matchmaker to Europe's largest domestic lenders.

[Feb 05, 2019] Capitalists need their options regulated and their markets ripped from their control by the state. Profits must be subject to use it to a social purpose or heavily taxed. Dividends executive comp and interest payments included

Feb 05, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

Mr. Bill -> Mr. Bill... , January 31, 2019 at 08:22 PM

Is anyone else tired of the longest, least productive waste of war in American history ? What have we achieved, where are we going with this ? More war.
Mr. Bill -> Mr. Bill... , January 31, 2019 at 08:31 PM
We are being fed a fairy tale of war about what men, long dead, did. And the reason they did it. America is being strangled by the burden of belief that now is like then.
Mr. Bill -> Mr. Bill... , January 31, 2019 at 08:46 PM
By the patrician men and women administrators, posturing as soldiers like the WW2 army, lie for self profit. Why does anyone believe them ? Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, each an economic decision, rather than a security issue.
Mr. Bill -> Mr. Bill... , January 31, 2019 at 08:48 PM
America is dying on the same sword as Rome, for the same reason.
Plp -> JF... , January 31, 2019 at 07:28 AM
Capitalists need their options regulated and their markets ripped from their control by the state. Profits must be subject to use it to a social purpose or heavily taxed. Dividends executive comp and interest payments included
Julio -> mulp ... , January 31, 2019 at 08:58 AM
Well done! Much clearer than your usual. There are several distinct motivations for taxes. We have been far enough from fairness to workers, for so long, that we need to use the tax system to redistribute the accumulated wealth of the plutocrats.

So I would say high marginal rates are a priority, which matches both objectives. Wealth tax is needed until we reverse the massive inequality supported by the policies of the last 40 years.

Carbon tax and the like are a different thing, use of the tax code to promote a particular policy and reduce damage to the commons.

Gerald -> Julio ... , January 31, 2019 at 04:14 PM
"...we need to use the tax system to redistribute the accumulated wealth of the plutocrats. So I would say high marginal rates are a priority..."

Forgive me, but high marginal rates (which I hugely favor) don't "redistribute the accumulated wealth" of the plutocrats. If such high marginal rates are ever enacted, they'll apply only to the current income of such plutocrats.

Julio -> Gerald... , January 31, 2019 at 06:22 PM
You merged paragraphs, and elided the next one. The way I see it, high rates are a prerequisite to prevent the reaccumulation of obscene wealth, and its diversion into financial gambling.

But yes that would be a very slow way to redistribute what has already accumulated.

Gerald -> Julio ... , February 01, 2019 at 04:48 AM
Didn't mean to misinterpret what you were saying, sorry. High rates are not only "a prerequisite to prevent the reaccumulation of obscene wealth," they are also a reimposition of fair taxation on current income (if it ever happens, of course).
Global Groundhog -> Julio ... , February 02, 2019 at 01:39 PM
Wealth tax is needed until we reverse the massive inequality supported by the policies of the last 40 years. Carbon tax and the like are a different thing, use of the tax code to promote a particular policy and reduce damage to the commons.
"

more wisdom as usual!

Although wealth tax will be unlikely, it could be a stopgap; could also be a guideline to other taxes as well. for example, Elizabeth points out that billionaires pay about 3% of their net worth into their annual tax bill whereas workers pay about 7% of their net worth into their annual tax bill. Do you see how that works?

it doesn't? this Warren argument gives us a guideline. it shows us where other taxes should be adjusted to even out this percentage of net worth that people are taxed for. Ceu, during the last meltdown 10 years or so ago, We were collecting more tax from the payroll than we were from the income tax. this phenomenon was a heavy burden on those of low net worth. All this needs be resorted. we've got to sort this out.

and the carbon tax? may never be; but it indicates to us what needs to be done to make this country more efficient. for example some folks, are spending half a million dollars on the Maybach automobile, about the same amount on a Ferrari or a Alfa Romeo Julia quadrifoglio, but the roads are built for a mere 40 miles an hour, full of potholes.

What good is it to own a fast car like that when you can't drive but 40 -- 50 miles an hour? and full of traffic jams. something is wrong with taxation incentives. we need to get a better grid-work of roads that will get people there faster.

Meanwhile most of those sports cars just sitting in the garage. we need a comprehensive integrated grid-work of one way streets, roads, highways, and interstates with no traffic lights, no stop signs; merely freeflow ramp-off overpass interchanges.

thanks, Julio! thanks
again
.!

JF -> Global Groundhog... , February 04, 2019 at 05:42 AM
Wonderful to see the discussion about public finance shifting to use net worth proportions as the focus and metric.

Wonderful. Let us see if press/media stories and opinion pieces use this same way of talking about the financing of self-government.

Mr. Bill -> anne... , February 03, 2019 at 08:15 PM
Jesus Christ said, in so many words, that a man's worth will be judged by his generosity and his avarice.

" 24And the disciples were amazed at His words. But Jesus said to them again, "Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." 26They were even more astonished and said to one another, "Who then can be saved?"

[Feb 05, 2019] Refusal to hand over Venezuelan gold means end of Britain as a financial center Prof. Wolff -- RT Business News

Feb 05, 2019 | www.rt.com

The freezing of Venezuelan gold by the Bank of England is a signal to all countries out of step with US interests to withdraw their money, according to economist and co-founder of Democracy at Work, Professor Richard Wolff. He told RT America that Britain and its central bank have shown themselves to be "under the thumb of the United States."

"That is a signal to every country that has or may have difficulties with the US, [that they had] better get their money out of England and out of London because it's not the safe place as it once was," he said.

[Feb 04, 2019] Cuomo Blames Trump Tax Plan for Reduced New York Tax Collections

Feb 04, 2019 | finance.yahoo.com

New York collected $2.3 billion less income-tax revenue than predicted for December and January, a development that Governor Andrew Cuomo blamed on wealthy residents leaving for second homes in Florida and other states that received more favorable treatment in the tax law enacted by President Donald Trump and the Republican Congress.

The shortfall will require a new look at the $175 billion budget Cuomo submitted to the legislature last month, he said. If the trend continues, the governor said it would affect spending on high-expense items such as health, education, infrastructure and a planned middle-class tax cut.

"There is no doubt that the budget we put forward is not supported by the revenue," the Democratic governor said during a news conference in Albany. "If even a small number of high-income taxpayers leave, it has a great effect on this tax base. You are relying on a very small number of people for the vast amount of your tax dollars."

While acknowledging that stock market volatility is among several factors that may have suppressed income-tax revenue in the past two months, the governor placed most of the blame on Trump and the Republican-dominated Congress of 2017, which enacted a tax plan limiting federal deductions on real estate and other local taxes.

Related: New York's Income-Tax Revenue Falls 'Abruptly' Under Forecast

"It was politically diabolical and also highly effective," Cuomo said. "And if your goal is to help Republican states and hurt Democratic states this is the way to do it."

[Feb 04, 2019] "I Have Never Experienced This Kind Of Immoral Behavior From A Bank In My Entire Life Goldman Slammed In Latest CDS Scandal

If you are dealing with Goldman Sachs that last thing is to expect moral behaviour from them. They are financial preduitors and generally dealing with them for smaller clients is a very dangerous undertaking, if you ask me.
Notable quotes:
"... Three months ago, when the loan market was freezing up, Goldman struck an unusual deal with a group of hedge funds to offload a buyout loan from its books, saving the bank and the funds from potential losses. What was odd, is that Goldman was also serving as the underwriter to the company issuing the loans...while at the same time arrenging a "kicker" to loan buyers by having them bet on the potential insolvency of its own client. ..."
"... Now, this bizarre arrangement is at the center of a lawsuit accusing the Wall Street giant of gorging on fees while also exposing the acquirer in the buyout, United Natural Foods, to hedge-fund sharks who stand to reap major profits if the company collapses as a result of the incremental debt: according to Bloomberg , United Natural had hired Goldman Sachs for the takeover and is now demanding at least $52 million - and potentially much more - from the bank. ..."
"... "I have never experienced this kind of egregious and immoral behavior from a bank in my entire life," United Natural Chief Executive Officer Steve Spinner told Bloomberg in an interview after his company filed the suit Wednesday in a state court in New York. Goldman, which until that moment had been retained by United Natural , vowed to vigorously fight the case, calling it "entirely without merit." ..."
"... Indeed, as Bloomberg notes, " again and again, the contracts have played strange roles in debt transactions, sometimes straining allies or encouraging unlikely alliances. " ..."
"... According to the lawsuit, Goldman adjusted the terms on a $2 billion financing deal in a way that allowed hedge funds to reap a windfall from their CDS bets, as first reported by Bloomberg in October . United Natural said it initially heeded Goldman's advice, agreeing to the changes so it could complete the takeover of grocery chain Supervalu. ..."
"... Where things got complicated, is that Goldman enlisted the help of hedge funds that had been betting on Supervalu's demise. Those funds now stand to benefit if United Natural struggles to repay. That was just the beginning: United Natural also alleges that the bank unfairly withheld fees, burdened it with additional interest expenses and relied on "scare tactics" by a senior banker to back it into a corner ..."
Feb 03, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

"I Have Never Experienced This Kind Of Immoral Behavior From A Bank In My Entire Life": Goldman Slammed In Latest CDS Scandal

Not a month seems to pass any more without a major bank or hedge fund getting in hot water for using CDS in a way that was never intended, and now it's Goldman's turn, again.

Three months ago, when the loan market was freezing up, Goldman struck an unusual deal with a group of hedge funds to offload a buyout loan from its books, saving the bank and the funds from potential losses. What was odd, is that Goldman was also serving as the underwriter to the company issuing the loans...while at the same time arrenging a "kicker" to loan buyers by having them bet on the potential insolvency of its own client.

Now, this bizarre arrangement is at the center of a lawsuit accusing the Wall Street giant of gorging on fees while also exposing the acquirer in the buyout, United Natural Foods, to hedge-fund sharks who stand to reap major profits if the company collapses as a result of the incremental debt: according to Bloomberg , United Natural had hired Goldman Sachs for the takeover and is now demanding at least $52 million - and potentially much more - from the bank.

Worse, the distributor of natural and organic foods, specialty foods is absolutely furious at the bank that until recently was its strategic advisor:

"I have never experienced this kind of egregious and immoral behavior from a bank in my entire life," United Natural Chief Executive Officer Steve Spinner told Bloomberg in an interview after his company filed the suit Wednesday in a state court in New York. Goldman, which until that moment had been retained by United Natural , vowed to vigorously fight the case, calling it "entirely without merit."

As hinted above, Wall Street's latest drama once again revolves around the increasingly dysfunctional credit-default swaps market, where hedge funds and others wager on the ability of companies to keep up with their borrowings, only the traditional role of CDS as bankruptcy hedges has long ago given way to more "creative" applications. Indeed, as Bloomberg notes, " again and again, the contracts have played strange roles in debt transactions, sometimes straining allies or encouraging unlikely alliances. "

According to the lawsuit, Goldman adjusted the terms on a $2 billion financing deal in a way that allowed hedge funds to reap a windfall from their CDS bets, as first reported by Bloomberg in October . United Natural said it initially heeded Goldman's advice, agreeing to the changes so it could complete the takeover of grocery chain Supervalu.

Where things got complicated, is that Goldman enlisted the help of hedge funds that had been betting on Supervalu's demise. Those funds now stand to benefit if United Natural struggles to repay. That was just the beginning: United Natural also alleges that the bank unfairly withheld fees, burdened it with additional interest expenses and relied on "scare tactics" by a senior banker to back it into a corner.

In the beginning it was nothing but rainbows and roses: United Natural, which is a supplier to Whole Foods, announced the $2.9 billion Supervalu acquisition in July, and with the market soaring and credit and loan spreads near all time tights, not a cloud appeared on the horizon. And, as so often happens, the company announced that Goldman Sachs would act as lead underwriter to sell the billions in debt needed to fund the deal. But just a few months later, as equities first tumbled and shortly thereafter credit markets - especially in the leveraged loan market - froze up, the investment bank faced the prospect of being saddled with millions in losses unless it found a way to offload the loan from its books.

Meanwhile, hedge funds were facing major losses too after having bet against Supervalu's debt by loading up on CDS, but the company's sale threatened to create a situation known as an orphaned CDS contract, a situation similar to the infamous McClatchy fiasco (one which we profiled extensively in " Orphan CDS, Manufactured Credit Events, Insufficient Deliverables: What The Hell Is Going On In The CDS Market ?"). Because new debt being issued to purchase Supervalu would have paid down the grocer's obligations, it could have made swaps linked to Supervalu effectively worthless - referencing an entity with no significant borrowings - even as the default risk of the purchaser, United Natural, soared. However, due to the specific nature of the CDS contract, there was no continuity in tracking the referenced entity, as such those who were betting on a Supervalu default would end up with nothing, even if the successor company did eventually file for bankruptcy.

It is here that Goldman had an "epiphany", one which would kill two birds with one stone.

The key was to restore the value of the roughly $470 million of net CDS wagers linked to Supervalu's debt. While the cost of the Supervalu derivatives had plunged through most of last year, by tweaking the loan docs to make Supervalu a co-borrower on the new financing, Goldman sparked a surge in the value of the swaps.

That, along with several other concessions, not only rescued hedge funds from getting wiped out on their SVU CDS, but more importantly, helped Goldman fill its order book for the loan and eliminate its exposure risk.

And while Goldman was the clear winner here, helping a couple of millionaire credit PMs avoid major losses for 2018 while avoiding taking a loss on its buyout loan exposure, United Natural claims that Goldman left it exposed to a group of lenders whose interests are at odds with its own and who are motivated to create roadblocks aimed at forcing a default so that they can notch further gains in the CDS market.

That may be difficult to prove, especially since Goldman can claim that without the contract fudge, the deal may never have been funded. Still, United Natural alleges that it never received a final list of funds participating in the loans and, had it known, would've raised concerns, even though without making the concessions to hedge funds, Goldman would have struggled to place the deal.

United Natural meanwhile claims that it went along with the changes after warnings from Stephan Feldgoise, who helps oversee Goldman's mergers business in the Americas. The bank allegedly warned that if the company didn't adjust the terms, it might "scare off" investors, trigger "blowback" from its own shareholders and "things would get ugly."

What Goldman apparently did not explain is that the one entity most on the hook - in terms of both P&L and reputation - was Goldman. Which is why Feldgoise and Bank of America, to co-lead arranger on the loan, are also named as defendants.

As Bloomberg concludes, it's another twist in Feldgoise's time at Goldman Sachs, which ironically, included a stint as chairman of the firm's global fairness committee. Curiously, in mid-2017, division chiefs announced he would be departing the bank, stepping down from his post in senior management to become an advisory director. Yet he's still at the bank, now in a heated battle with a client for whom he's handled various deals. That said, with the millions in fees from the United Natural-Supervalu deal, at least Feldgoise's tenure at Goldman is secure. Worst case, he can always get a job at one of the many hedge funds that made a killing on SVU CDS thanks to the Goldman fudge.

e_goldstein , 3 hours ago link

"I have never experienced this kind of egregious and immoral behavior from a bank in my entire life," United Natural Chief Executive Officer Steve Spinner

Well, Steve, perhaps you should have been paying more attention for the last 11 years.

[Feb 04, 2019] Trump the State of the Union story will be how fabulous the US economy is becasue he performed miracles comparable with those of Moses in Egyptland

Feb 04, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

The manufacturing economy that made America great in the 1950s is back (not). Unemployment has been vanquished (not). We are "energy independent" (not). The once-again rising stock market is proof-of-life for US business prospects (not). We have the best medical care and higher ed in the world (cough cough). It would all come as a surprise to the people dining on dog food with ketchup out in the flyover precincts - but they are not exactly the types to sit around and listen to Don Lemon and Jeffrey Toobin dissect the speech post-game.

Following the new-ish tradition of a designated opposition respondent to the SOTU, Democratic sore loser Stacy Abrams (Georgia Governor's race, 2018), will virtue-signal her party's dedication to identity politics, concealing its dark connection to the Wall Street / K Street grift machine, and to the Neocon war hawks so eager to manufacture failed states in parts of the world that are too bothersome to try to get along with. I suppose she will try to revive the Russian collusion angle, with a spin on how the Georgia election of 2018 was also rigged by malign forces to prevent her victory.

Mostly though, Ms. Abrams will extol the wonders and marvels of free health care and free college for all under the coming 2020 Democratic Party landslide, a comfy-cozy future of women-led caring-and-sharing, plus the promise of punishing taxes-to-come on super-rich toffs like Mr. Trump. The media will eat it up. Ms. Abrams will then be promoted as the next vice-president. The party's strategy is to get every female voter in America on-board along with its supplemental People-of-Color-and-LBGTQ army for a surefire electoral victory. I can see that possibly working, but is it a good fate for the country to be literally divvied up between a women's party and a men's party?

[Feb 04, 2019] Jim Kunstler's 'State Of The Union'

Feb 04, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by James Howard Kunstler via Kunstler.com,

It's conceivable, in a nation that absolutely can't make sense of itself , that Mr. Trump's annual report to congress will be as incomprehensible as this year's Superbowl halftime show .

Even the weather in Atlanta was a complete mystery with Maroon 5's front man, Adam Levine, capering half-naked in tattoo drag amid artificial fires-of-hell, and then local hero rapper Big Boi's triumphal entry in a limo, nearly lost inside what looked like the pelt of a giant ground sloth - an eight-year-old's idea of what it means to be important. Or maybe it was just all code for two sides of the climate change debate.

You can be sure the atmosphere will be frosty to the max when the Golden Golem of Greatness lumbers down the aisle of congress's house on Tuesday night. I wouldn't be surprised if the Democratic majority turns its backs on him during the always excruciating preliminaries and then just walks out of the chamber. Don't expect the usual excessive rounds of applause from the president's own party this time, either, in the big, half-empty room. They don't know what to do about him at this point... or what to do with themselves, for that matter.

The running theme for State of the Union (SOTU) messages going back to Ronald Reagan is American Wonderfulness , so expect at least forty minutes of national self-esteem therapy, which nobody will believe. Throw in another ten minutes of elevating sob stories about "special guests" up in the galleries. But leave a little time for Mr. Trump to roll a few cherry bombs down the aisles. He must be good and goddam sick of all the guff shoveled at him for two years.

[Feb 04, 2019] Orwell, in his book, 1984 wrote that the government had two terms: Oldspeak and Newspeak. One was not permitted to use old speak

Feb 04, 2019 | www.unz.com

Sowhat , says: February 4, 2019 at 3:47 am GMT

Orwell, in his book, 1984 wrote that the government had two terms: Oldspeak and Newspeak. One was not permitted to use old speak.

" This was done partly by the invention of new words, but chiefly by eliminating undesirable words and by stripping such words as remained of unorthodox meanings, and so far as possible of all secondary meanings whatever.

To give a single example. The word free still existed in Newspeak, but it could only be used in such statements as "This dog is free from lice" or "This field is free from weeds."

It could not be used in its old sense of "politically free" or "intellectually free," since political and intellectual freedom no longer existed even as concepts, and were therefore of necessity nameless."

Were sliding down a slippery, ever-darkening slope. When I step back and try to examine the whole picture, it's very concerning. Take, for instance, [MORE]

I just read an article elsewhere discussing Roger Stone's arrest at his Florida home, before dawn
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/51017-c.htm .

The article had a link to a WordPress article, penned by John Whitehead, The Rutherford Institute about what has crept into America, via the Militarization of the Police Force.

I subscribed to his newsletter, years ago when Bush and, then, Obama gave Military Armament to Civilian Police forces. When the "FBI raids Stone's Home" story hit, complete with CNN presence, I realized that we do, in fact have policing by fear in the U.S., advertised by Cable News. I'm not an alarmist but, I am taking this all in and it doesn't look good for us. I've also read that millions of Americans are leaving this country, yes, in droves. I've thought about it, before but, don't know if I can convince Wifey this is what we need to do since were in our 70s.

Whiteheads sight has an ongoing ledger of Police incompetence, armed to the teeth just to deliver a warrant, often going to the wrong house, creating chaos, shooting people and their animals and then finding out that they raided the wrong house and killed the wrong person. A flash-band grenade was launched into the wrong residence, landed on a toddler in a crib and burned a hole in its stomach. The scales are tipped in the favor of cops and, if a homeowner attempts to defend himself, he's prosecuted to the full extent of the "law."

Our 4th amendment is gone. Our First and Second Amendment Rights are under heavy attack. There's a call for a Constitutional Convention with almost all of the States sign on for an Article Five Convention.

Were all in deep shit. It doesn't matter if you are guilty of a crime or not. If they'll go after an unarmed Roger Stone, guns pointed, in front of his family, terrorizing them for National TV, what do YOU think is their intent? With 10 Zillion Super-Cop shows on TV for the last forty years, where they always get their man, never make errors and show how violent they are, legally, what do you think is the intent?

Nothing happens on the government level by accident NOTHING

First, Myspace sucked in all of the youngsters and they learned how easy it was to communicate, online. Then, Twitter and Facebook arrived as beacons of free speech. Then, other commentary friendly web site pop up everywhere, allowing you to spew your agitated heart out and argue with each other and call each other names and then opposite ideologies manifested in separate sites on the net with "moderators" that throw registrants off (banning/banishing) them for defending their positions echo chambers for the "alt" Right or the politically correct Left Trump bashers. Sometime, I suggest you go to these and read the commenters' remarks. They're literally insane. I was even banned from a DISCUSS site for suggesting some civil discourse, identifying myself as a Trump Voter.

Do you really believe that all of these issues simply morphed to lock out Conservatives? No way. This was all planned, possibly to I.D. individuals who are "potential" adversaries of a different ideology or possible "problem people" that get put on a watch list. If the DNA Ancestry sights are GIVING your DNA results to the Government, what good can come of it?

[Feb 04, 2019] Absolute control over people and resources is the ultimate goal of financial oligarchy

Financial industry has inherent trend toward parasitism and gangsterism and as such should be as tightly regulated as gambling. Probably even more. But under neoliberalism where financial oligarchy a the ruling class this is a pipe dream. I do not see any significant countervailing force other the far right nationalism. Far right nationalism has power to brake bankers spine, but usually they allied with them (fascism)
Feb 04, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com
Authored by Tom Chatham via Project Chesapeake blog,

Those that have been following events for several years know they are under attack by an enemy that has no face and means to do them great harm. Nothing less than their sovereignty and freedom is at stake.

Absolute control over people and resources is the ultimate goal.

Davidduke2000 , 9 minutes ago link

On his deathbed, Andrew Jackson said " I beat the bank".

Davidduke2000 , 9 minutes ago link

On his deathbed, Andrew Jackson said " I beat the bank".

freedommusic , 2 hours ago link

...the bankers want to show up after the population has lost everything in a collapse, to be their savior and gain control of everyone by offering resources in exchange for compliance.

In the end these bankers are just people . They yield NO power other than a cheap magi c trick called money. They are simply losers pulling levers behind the curtain . They are terrified of real people. They are terrified of being exposed. They are worthless conjurers of useless paper. Their power is a cheap spell. They always have known that once people are aware of the trick, they are done. They are afraid of elevated souls. They are afraid of the awakened. They are terrified of the big red pill that is coming for the masses. Game over.

SickDollar , 2 hours ago link

Uncle Shmuel (the Neocon's version of Uncle Sam)

new term BITCHEZ

Uncle Sam is dead

[Feb 04, 2019] A banal case of highway robbery triggered by two very crude considerations

Notable quotes:
"... pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business ..."
Feb 04, 2019 | www.unz.com

Seriously, Ron Paul or Tulsi Gabbard speaking of democracy is one thing, but having gangsters and psychopathic thugs like Pompeo, Bolton or Abrams in charge really sends a message and that message is that we are dealing with a banal case of highway robbery triggered by two very crude considerations:

First, to re-take control of Venezuela's immense natural resources. Second, to prove to the world that Uncle Shmuel can still, quote , " pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business ", unquote.

President Macrobama ?

The obvious problem is that 1) nobody takes the US seriously because 2) the US has not been capable of defeating any country capable of resistance since many decades already. The various US special forces, which would typically spearhead any invasion, have an especially appalling record of abject failures every time they stop posing for cameras and have to engage in real combat. I assure you that nobody in the Venezuelan military cares about movies like "Rambo" or "Delta Force" while they carefully studied US FUBARs in Somalia, Grenada, Iran and elsewhere. You can also bet that the Cubans, who have had many years of experience dealing with the (very competent) South African special forces in Angola and elsewhere will share their experience with their Venezuelan colleagues.

[Feb 04, 2019] I think the US is at most 20 years away from severe dysfunction at every level of society, and possibly even civil war and break up

Neoliberalism like Bolshevism is sticky, so the collapse "USSR-style" is a real possibility if nationalist sentiments explode in the USA. But I would give it 40 years instead of 20. This forecast has a distinct advantage that nobody will remember it in 40 years ;-)
Feb 04, 2019 | peakoilbarrel.com

dolph x Ignored says: 02/01/2019 at 11:52 am

I think the U.S. is at most 20 years away from severe dysfunction at every level of society, and possibly even civil war and break up.

I mention this only because I can sense a certain desperation in your post and why not counter it with pessimistic reality? The U.S. is not the only country in the world. 95% of the world's population, and 80% of it's economy, is outside the U.S.

The unipolar moment of American dominance is over, finished, never to return. Still possible to have a decent life for awhile, but we'll see. Just remember, Europeans believed in the early 20th century that they would rule the world for centuries to come, if not millenia. They had no reason to believe otherwise. Look how that turned out.

[Feb 04, 2019] US Sanctions as a Tool To Perpetuate Neocolonialism

Feb 04, 2019 | original.antiwar.com

US Sanctions as a Tool To Perpetuate Neocolonialism

by Nauman Sadiq Posted on February 02, 2019 January 31, 2019 It's an evident fact that neocolonial powers are ruled by behemoth corporations whose wealth is measured in hundreds of billions of dollars, far more than the total GDP of many developing nations. The status of these multinational corporations as dominant players in international politics gets official imprimatur when the Western governments endorse the congressional lobbying practice of so-called "special interest" groups, which is a euphemism for corporate interests.

Since the Western governments are nothing but the mouthpiece of business interests on international political and economic forums, therefore any national or international entity which hinders or opposes the agenda of corporate interests is either coerced into accepting their demands or gets sidelined.

In 2013, the Manmohan Singh's government of India had certain objections to further opening up to the Western businesses. The Business Roundtable, which is an informal congregation of major US businesses and together holds a net wealth of $6 trillion, held a meeting with the representatives of the Indian government and literally coerced it into accepting unfair demands of the Western corporations.

The developing economies, such as India and Pakistan, are always hungry for foreign direct investment (FDI) to sustain economic growth, and this investment mostly comes from the Western corporations. When the Business Roundtables or the Paris-based International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) form pressure groups and engage in "collective bargaining" activities, the nascent and fragile developing economies don't have a choice but to toe their line.

State sovereignty, that sovereign nation states are at liberty to pursue independent policies, particularly economic and trade policies, is a myth. Just like the ruling elites of the developing countries which maintain a stranglehold and monopoly over domestic politics; similarly, the neocolonial powers and multinational corporations control international politics and the global economic order.

Any state in the international arena which dares to transgress the trade and economic policies laid down by neocolonial powers and multinational corporations becomes an international pariah like Castro's Cuba, Mugabe's Zimbabwe; or more recently, Maduro's Venezuela.

Venezuela has one of the largest known oil reserves in the world. Even though the mainstream media's pundits hold the socialist policies of President Nicolas Maduro responsible for economic mismanagement in Venezuela, fact of the matter is that hyperinflation in its economy is the effect of US sanctions against Venezuela which have been put in place since the time of late President Hugo Chavez.

Another case in point is Iran which was cut off from the global economic system from 2006 to 2015, and then again after May last year when President Donald Trump annulled the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), because of Iran's supposed nuclear ambitions. Good for Iran that it also has one of the largest oil and gas resources, otherwise it would have been insolvent by now.

Such is the power of Washington-led global financial system, especially the banking sector, and the significance of petrodollar, because the global oil transactions are pegged in the US dollars all over the world, and all the major oil bourses are also located in the Western financial districts.

The crippling "third party" economic sanctions on Iran from 2006 to 2015 have brought to the fore the enormous power that the Western financial institutions and the petrodollar as a global reserve currency wields over the global financial system.

It bears mentioning that the Iranian nuclear negotiations were as much about Iran's nuclear program as they were about its ballistic missile program, which is an equally dangerous conventional threat to Israel and the Gulf's petro-monarchies, just across the Persian Gulf.

Despite the sanctions being unfair, Iran felt the heat so much that it remained engaged in negotiations throughout the nearly decade-long period of sanctions, and such was the crippling effect of those "third party" sanctions on Iran's economy that had it not been for its massive oil and gas reserves, and some Russian, Chinese and Turkish help in illicitly buying Iranian oil, it could have defaulted due to the sanctions.

Notwithstanding, after the brutal assassination of Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, and the clear hand of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman in the murder, certain naïve political commentators of the mainstream media came up with a ludicrous suggestion that Washington should impose sanctions on Saudi Arabia.

As in the case of aforementioned Iran sanctions, sanctioning Saudi Arabia also seems plausible; however, there is a caveat: Iran is only a single oil-rich state which has 160 billion barrels of proven oil reserves and has the capacity to produce 5 million barrels per day (mbpd) of crude oil.

On the other hand, the Persian Gulf's petro-monarchies are actually three oil-rich states. Saudi Arabia with its 266 billion barrels of proven oil reserves and 10 mbpd of daily crude oil production, and UAE and Kuwait with 100 billion barrels of proven reserves, each, and 3 mbpd of daily crude oil production, each. Together, the share of the Gulf Cooperation Countries (GCC) amounts to 466 billion barrels, almost one-third of the world's 1477 billion barrels of total proven oil reserves.

Therefore, although imposing economic sanctions on the Gulf states might sound like a good idea on paper, the relationship between the Gulf's petro-monarchies and the industrialized world is that of a consumer-supplier relationship. The Gulf states are the suppliers of energy and the industrialized world is its consumer, hence the Western powers cannot sanction their energy suppliers and largest investors.

If anything, the Gulf's petro-monarchies had "sanctioned" the Western powers in the past by imposing the oil embargo in 1973 after the Arab-Israel War. The 1973 Arab oil embargo against the West lasted only for a short span of six months during which the price of oil quadrupled, but Washington became so paranoid after the embargo that it put in place a ban on the export of crude oil outside the US borders, and began keeping sixty-day stock of reserve fuel for strategic and military needs.

Recently, some very upbeat rumors about the shale revolution have been circulating in the media. However, the shale revolution is primarily a natural gas revolution. It has increased the probable recoverable resources of natural gas by 30%. The shale oil, on the other hand, refers to two starkly different kinds of energy resources: firstly, the solid kerogen – though substantial resources of kerogen have been found in the US Green River formations, the cost of extracting liquid crude from solid kerogen is so high that it is economically unviable for at least a hundred years; secondly, the tight oil which is blocked by shale – it is a viable energy resource but the reserves are so limited, roughly 4 billion barrels in Texas and North Dakota, that it will run out in a few years.

More than the size of oil reserves, it is about per barrel extraction cost, which determines the profits for the multinational oil companies. And in this regard, the Persian Gulf's crude oil is the most profitable. Further, regarding the supposed US energy independence after the purported shale revolution, the US produced 11 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil in the first quarter of 2014, which was more than the output of Saudi Arabia and Russia, each of which produces around 10 million bpd. But the US still imported 7.5 million bpd during the same period, which was more than the oil imports of France and Britain put together. More than the total volume of oil production, the volume which an oil-producing country exports determines its place in the hierarchy of petroleum and the Gulf's petro-monarchies constitute the top tier of that pyramid.

Nauman Sadiq is an Islamabad-based attorney, columnist and geopolitical analyst focused on the politics of Af-Pak and Middle East regions, neocolonialism and petro-imperialism.

[Feb 04, 2019] Trump s Revised and Rereleased Foreign Policy: The World Policeman is Back

Highly recommended!
This article from 2017 looks like it was written yesterday. Trump betrayal of his elctorate on multiple levels, essentially on all key poin of his election program mkes him "Republican Obama".
What is interesting about Trump foreign policy is his version of neoliberal "gangster capitalism" on foreign arena: might is right principle applied like universal opener. Previous administrations tried to put a lipstick on the pig. Trump does not even bother.
In terms of foreign policy, and even during the transition before Trump's inauguration, there were other, more disturbing signs of where Trump would be heading soon. When Fidel Castro died on November 25, 2016, Trump seemed jubilant as if he had somehow been vindicated, and took the opportunity to slander Castro as a "brutal dictator" who "oppressed his own people" and turned Cuba into a "totalitarian island".
Notable quotes:
"... However, when he delivered his inaugural address on January 20, 2017, Trump appeared to reaffirm his campaign themes of anti-interventionism. In particular he seemed to turn the government's back on a long-standing policy of cultural imperialism , stating: "We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone". In addition he said his government would "seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world," and he understood the importance of national sovereignty when he added, "it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first". ..."
"... Yet when it came to Russia, Trump could have instantly removed sanctions that were imposed by Obama in his last weeks in office -- an irresponsible and dangerous act by Obama, where foreign policy was used as a partisan tool in the service of shoring up a crummy conspiracy theory about "Russian hacking" in order to deny the Democrats any culpability in their much deserved defeat. ..."
"... The entire conflict with Russia that has developed in recent years, on the US side, was totally unnecessary, illogical, and quite preventable. ..."
"... Just two weeks after violating his promise to end the US role as the world's policeman and his vow to extricate the US from wars for regime change, Trump sold out again. "I love WikiLeaks -- " -- this is what Trump exclaimed in a speech on October 10, 2016. Trump's about-face on WikiLeaks is thus truly astounding. ..."
"... AP: If I could fit a couple of more topics. Jeff Sessions, your attorney general, is taking a tougher line suddenly on Julian Assange, saying that arresting him is a priority. You were supportive of what WikiLeaks was doing during the campaign with the release of the Clinton emails. Do you think that arresting Assange is a priority for the United States? ..."
"... AP: But that didn't mean that you supported what Assange is doing? ..."
"... AP: Can I just ask you, though -- do you believe it is a priority for the United States, or it should be a priority, to arrest Julian Assange? ..."
"... While there is no denying the extensive data about the severe impacts of NAFTA on select states and industries in the US, witnessed by the closure of tens of thousands of factories and the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs, there is little support for the claim that Canada and Mexico, as wholes, have instead fared well and that the US as a whole has been the loser thanks to them. ..."
"... Since NAFTA was implemented, migration from Mexico to the US skyrocketed dramatically. US agricultural industries sent millions of Mexican farmers into food poverty, and ultimately drove them away from agriculture ..."
"... As for per capita GDP, so treasured by economists, NAFTA had no positive impact on Mexico -- in fact, per capita GDP is nearly a flat line for the entire period since 1994. Finally, Trump does not mention that in terms of the number of actual protectionist measures that have been implemented, the US leads the world . ..."
"... To put Trump's position on NAFTA in bold relief, it is not that he is decidedly against free trade. In fact, he often claims he supports free trade, as long as it is "fair". However, his notion of fairness is very lopsided -- a trade agreement is fair only when the US reaps the greater share of benefits. ..."
"... As argued in the previous section, if Trump is to be the newfound champion of this imperialism -- empire's prodigal son -- then what an abysmally poor choice he is ..."
"... On the one hand, he helped to unleash US anti-interventionism (usually called "isolationism" not to call it anti-imperialism, which would then admit to imperialism which is still denied by most of the dominant elites). On the other hand, in trying to now contain such popular sentiment, he loses credibility -- after having lost credibility with the groups his campaign displaced. ..."
"... As for Trump's domestic opposition, what should be most pertinent are issues of conflict of interest and nepotism . Here members of Trump's base are more on target yet again, when they reject the presence of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner in the White House ("we didn't elect Ivanka or Jared"), than are those distracted by identity politics. ..."
"... As Trump leverages the presidency to upgrade the Trump family to the transnational capitalist class, and reinforces the power of US imperialism which that class has purchased, conflict of interest and nepotism will be the main political signposts of the transformation of the Trump presidency, but they could also be the targets for a refined strategy of opposition. ..."
Aug 09, 2017 | zeroanthropology.net

Trump could have kept quiet, and lost nothing. Instead what he was attacking -- and the irony was missed on his fervently right wing supporters -- was someone who was a leader in the anti-globalist movement, from long before it was ever called that. Fidel Castro was a radical pioneer of independence, self-reliance, and self-determination.

Castro turned Cuba from an American-owned sugar plantation and brothel, a lurid backwater in the Caribbean, into a serious international actor opposed to globalizing capitalism. There was no sign of any acknowledgment of this by Trump, who instead chose to parrot the same people who would vilify him using similar terms (evil, authoritarian, etc.). Of course, Trump respects only corporate executives and billionaires, not what he would see as some rag-tag Third World revolutionary. Here Trump's supporters generally failed, using Castro's death as an opportunity for tribal partisanship, another opportunity to attack "weak liberals" like Obama who made minor overtures to Cuba (too little, too late).

Their distrust of "the establishment" was nowhere to be found this time: their ignorance of Cuba and their resort to stock clichés and slogans had all been furnished to them by the same establishment they otherwise claimed to oppose.

Just to be clear, the above is not meant to indicate any reversal on Trump's part regarding Cuba. He has been consistently anti-communist, and fairly consistent in his denunciations of Fidel Castro. What is significant is that -- far from overcoming the left-right divide -- Trump shores up the barriers, even at the cost of denouncing others who have a proven track record of fighting against neoliberal globalization and US interventionism. In these regards, Trump has no track record. Even among his rivals in the Republican primaries, senators Ted Cruz and Rand Paul had more of an anti-interventionist track record.

However, when he delivered his inaugural address on January 20, 2017, Trump appeared to reaffirm his campaign themes of anti-interventionism. In particular he seemed to turn the government's back on a long-standing policy of cultural imperialism , stating: "We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone". In addition he said his government would "seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world," and he understood the importance of national sovereignty when he added, "it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first".

Russia

Yet when it came to Russia, Trump could have instantly removed sanctions that were imposed by Obama in his last weeks in office -- an irresponsible and dangerous act by Obama, where foreign policy was used as a partisan tool in the service of shoring up a crummy conspiracy theory about "Russian hacking" in order to deny the Democrats any culpability in their much deserved defeat.

Instead, Trump continued the sanctions, as if out of meek deference to Obama's policy, one founded on lies and antagonism toward Trump himself. Rather than repair the foul attempt to sabotage the US-Russian relationship in preparation for his presidency, Trump simply abided and thus became an accomplice. To be clear, Trump has done precisely nothing to dampen the near mass hysteria that has been manufactured in the US about alleged -- indeed imaginary -- "Russian intervention".

His comments, both during the electoral campaign and even early into his presidency, about wanting good relations with Russia, have been replaced by Trump's admissions that US relations with Russia are at a low point (Putin agreed: "I would say the level of trust [between Russia and the US] is at a workable level, especially in the military dimension, but it hasn't improved. On the contrary, it has degraded " and his spokesman called the relations " deplorable ".)

Rather than use the power of his office to calm fears, to build better ties with Russia, and to make meeting with Vladimir Putin a top priority, Trump has again done nothing , except escalating tensions. The entire conflict with Russia that has developed in recent years, on the US side, was totally unnecessary, illogical, and quite preventable. Russia had actively facilitated the US' war in Afghanistan for over a decade, and was a consistent collaborator on numerous levels. It is up to thinking American officials to honestly explain what motivated them to tilt relations with Russia, because it is certainly not Russia's doing. The only explanation that makes any sense is that the US leadership grew concerned that Russia was no longer teetering on the edge of total socio-economic breakdown, as it was under the neoliberal Boris Yeltsin, but has instead resurfaced as a major actor in international affairs, and one that champions anti-neoliberal objectives of enhanced state sovereignty and self-determination.

WikiLeaks

Just two weeks after violating his promise to end the US role as the world's policeman and his vow to extricate the US from wars for regime change, Trump sold out again. "I love WikiLeaks -- " -- this is what Trump exclaimed in a speech on October 10, 2016. Trump's about-face on WikiLeaks is thus truly astounding.

After finding so much use for WikiLeaks' publication of the Podesta emails, which became incorporated into his campaign speeches, and which fuelled the writing and speaking of journalists and bloggers sympathetic to Trump -- he was now effectively declaring WikiLeaks to be both an enemy and a likely target of US government action, in even more blunt terms than we heard during the past eight years under Obama. This is not mere continuity with the past, but a dramatic escalation. Rather than praise Julian Assange for his work, call for an end to the illegal impediments to his seeking asylum, swear off any US calls for extraditing and prosecuting Assange, and perhaps meeting with him in person, Trump has done all of the opposite. Instead we learn that Trump's administration may file arrest charges against Assange . Mike Pompeo , chosen by Trump to head the CIA, who had himself cited WikiLeaks as a reliable source of proof about how the Democratic National Committee had rigged its campaign, now declared WikiLeaks to be a " non-state hostile intelligence service ," along with vicious personal slander against Assange.

Trump's about-face on WikiLeaks was one that he defended in terms that were not just a deceptive rewriting of history, but one that was also fearful -- "I don't support or unsupport" WikiLeaks, was what Trump was now saying in his dash for the nearest exit. The backtracking is so obvious in this interview Trump gave to the AP , that his shoes must have left skid marks on the floor:

AP: If I could fit a couple of more topics. Jeff Sessions, your attorney general, is taking a tougher line suddenly on Julian Assange, saying that arresting him is a priority. You were supportive of what WikiLeaks was doing during the campaign with the release of the Clinton emails. Do you think that arresting Assange is a priority for the United States?

TRUMP: When Wikileaks came out never heard of Wikileaks, never heard of it. When Wikileaks came out, all I was just saying is, "Well, look at all this information here, this is pretty good stuff." You know, they tried to hack the Republican, the RNC, but we had good defenses. They didn't have defenses, which is pretty bad management. But we had good defenses, they tried to hack both of them. They weren't able to get through to Republicans. No, I found it very interesting when I read this stuff and I said, "Wow." It was just a figure of speech. I said, "Well, look at this. It's good reading."

AP: But that didn't mean that you supported what Assange is doing?

TRUMP: No, I don't support or unsupport. It was just information .

AP: Can I just ask you, though -- do you believe it is a priority for the United States, or it should be a priority, to arrest Julian Assange?

TRUMP: I am not involved in that decision, but if Jeff Sessions wants to do it, it's OK with me. I didn't know about that decision, but if they want to do it, it's OK with me.

First, Trump invents the fictitious claim that WikiLeaks was responsible for hacking the DNC, and that WikiLeaks also tried to hack the Republicans. Second, he pretends to be an innocent bystander, a spectator, in his own administration -- whatever others decide, is "OK" with him, not that he knows about their decisions, but it's all up to others. He has no power, all of a sudden.

Again, what Trump is displaying in this episode is his ultimate attachment to his class, with all of its anxieties and its contempt for rebellious, marginal upstarts. Trump shuns any sort of "loyalty" to WikiLeaks (not that they ever had a working relationship) or any form of gratitude, because then that would imply a debt and therefore a transfer of value -- whereas Trump's core ethics are those of expedience and greed (he admits that much). This move has come with a cost , with members of Trump's support base openly denouncing the betrayal. 6

NAFTA

On NAFTA , Trump claims he has not changed his position -- yet, from openly denouncing the free trade agreement and promising to terminate it, he now vows only to seek modifications and amendments, which means supporting NAFTA. He appeared to be awfully quick to obey the diplomatic pressure of Canada's Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, and Mexico's President, Enrique Peña Nieto. Trump's entire position on NAFTA now comes into question.

While there is no denying the extensive data about the severe impacts of NAFTA on select states and industries in the US, witnessed by the closure of tens of thousands of factories and the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs, there is little support for the claim that Canada and Mexico, as wholes, have instead fared well and that the US as a whole has been the loser thanks to them.

This really deserves to be treated at length, separately from this article. However, for now, let's keep in mind that when Trump complains about Canadian softwood lumber and dairy exports to the US, his argument about NAFTA is without merit. Neither commodity is part of the NAFTA agreement.

Moreover, where dairy is concerned, the problem is US overproduction. Wisconsin alone has more dairy cows than all of Canada . There is a net surplus , in the US' favour, with respect to US dairy exports to Canada. Overall, the US has a net surplus in the trade in goods and services with Canada. Regarding Mexico, the irony of Trump's denunciations of imaginary Mexican victories is that he weakens his own criticisms of immigration.

Since NAFTA was implemented, migration from Mexico to the US skyrocketed dramatically. US agricultural industries sent millions of Mexican farmers into food poverty, and ultimately drove them away from agriculture.

As for per capita GDP, so treasured by economists, NAFTA had no positive impact on Mexico -- in fact, per capita GDP is nearly a flat line for the entire period since 1994. Finally, Trump does not mention that in terms of the number of actual protectionist measures that have been implemented, the US leads the world .

To put Trump's position on NAFTA in bold relief, it is not that he is decidedly against free trade. In fact, he often claims he supports free trade, as long as it is "fair". However, his notion of fairness is very lopsided -- a trade agreement is fair only when the US reaps the greater share of benefits.

His arguments with respect to Canada are akin to those of a looter or raider. He wants to block lumber imports from Canada, at the same time as he wants to break the Canadian dairy market wide open to absorb US excess production. That approach is at the core of what defined the US as a "new empire" in the 1800s. In addition, while Trump was quick to tear up the TPP, he has said nothing about TISA and TTIP.

Mexico

Trump's argument with Mexico is also disturbing for what it implies. It would seem that any evidence of production in Mexico causes Trump concern. Mexico should not only keep its people -- however many are displaced by US imports -- but it should also be as dependent as possible on the US for everything except oil. Since Trump has consistently declared his antagonism to OPEC, ideally Mexico's oil would be sold for a few dollars per barrel.

China

Trump's turn on China almost provoked laughter from his many domestic critics. Absurdly, what figures prominently in most renditions of the story of Trump's change on China (including his own), is a big piece of chocolate cake. The missile strike on Syria was, according to Wilbur Ross, the " after-dinner entertainment ". Here, Trump's loud condemnations of China on trade issues were suddenly quelled -- and it is not because chocolate has magical properties. Instead it seems Trump has been willing to settle on selling out citizens' interests , and particularly those who voted for him, in return for China's assistance on North Korea. Let's be clear: countering and dominating North Korea is an established favourite among neoconservatives. Trump's priority here is fully "neocon," and the submergence of trade issues in favour of militaristic preferences is the one case where neoconservatives might be distinguished from the otherwise identical neoliberals.

North Korea

Where North Korea is concerned, Trump chose to manufacture a " crisis ". North Korea has actually done nothing to warrant a sudden outbreak of panic over it being supposedly aggressive and threatening. North Korea is no more aggressive than any person defending their survival can be called belligerent. The constant series of US military exercises in South Korea, or near North Korean waters, is instead a deliberate provocation to a state whose existence the US nearly extinguished. Even last year the US Air Force publicly boasted of having "nearly destroyed" North Korea -- language one would have expected from the Luftwaffe in WWII. The US continues to maintain roughly 60,000 troops on the border between North and South Korea, and continues to refuse to formally declare an end to the Korean War and sign a peace treaty . Trump then announced he was sending an "armada" to the Korean peninsula, and boasted of how "very powerful" it was. This was in addition to the US deploying the THAAD missile system in South Korea. Several of his messages in Twitter were written using highly provocative and threatening language. When asked if he would start a war, Trump glibly replied: " I don't know. I mean, we'll see ". On another occasion Trump stated, "There is a chance that we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea. Absolutely". When the world's leading military superpower declares its intention to destroy you, then there is nothing you can do in your defense which anyone could justly label as "over the top". Otherwise, once again Trump posed as a parental figure, the world's chief babysitter -- picture Trump, surrounded by children taking part in the "Easter egg roll" at the White House, being asked about North Korea and responding "they gotta behave". Trump would presume to teach manners to North Korea, using the only tools of instruction that seem to be the first and last resort of US foreign policy (and the "defense" industry): bombs.

Syria

Attacking Syria , on purportedly humanitarian grounds, is for many (including vocal supporters) one of the most glaring contradictions of Trump's campaign statements about not embroiling the US in failed wars of regime change and world policing. During the campaign, he was in favour of Russia's collaboration with Syria in the fight against ISIS. For years he had condemned Obama for involving the US in Syria, and consistently opposed military intervention there. All that was consigned to the archive of positions Trump declared to now be worthless. That there had been a change in Trump's position is not a matter of dispute -- Trump made the point himself :

"I like to think of myself as a very flexible person. I don't have to have one specific way, and if the world changes, I go the same way, I don't change. Well, I do change and I am flexible, and I'm proud of that flexibility. And I will tell you, that attack on children yesterday had a big impact on me -- big impact. That was a horrible, horrible thing. And I've been watching it and seeing it, and it doesn't get any worse than that. And I have that flexibility, and it's very, very possible -- and I will tell you, it's already happened that my attitude toward Syria and Assad has changed very much. And if you look back over the last few weeks, there were other attacks using gas. You're now talking about a whole different level".

Bending to the will of the prevailing Cold War and neo-McCarthyist atmosphere in the US, rife with anti-Russian conspiracy theories, Trump found an easy opportunity to score points with the hostile media, ever so mindful as he is about approval ratings, polls, and media coverage. Some explain Trump's reversals as arising from his pursuit of public adulation -- and while the media play the key role in purveying celebrity status, they are also a stiff bastion of imperialist culture. Given his many years as a the host of a popular TV show, and as the owner of the Miss Universe Pageant, there is some logical merit to the argument. But I think even more is at work, as explained in paragraphs above. According to Eric Trump it was at the urging of Ivanka that Donald Trump decided to strike a humanitarian-militarist pose. He would play the part of the Victorian parent, only he would use missiles to teach unruly children lessons about violence. Using language typically used against him by the mainstream media, Trump now felt entitled to pontificate that Assad is "evil," an " animal ," who would have to go . When did he supposedly come to this realization? Did Assad become evil at the same time Trump was inaugurated? Why would Trump have kept so silent about "evil" on the campaign trail? Trump of course is wrong: it's not that the world changed and he changed with it; rather, he invented a new fiction to suit his masked intentions. Trump's supposed opponents and critics, like the Soros-funded organizer of the women's march Linda Sarsour, showed her approval of even more drastic action by endorsing messages by what sounded like a stern school mistress who thought that 59 cruise missiles were just a mere "slap on the wrist". Virtually every neocon who is publicly active applauded Trump, as did most senior Democrats. The loudest opposition , however, came from Trump's own base , with a number of articles featuring criticism from Trump's supporters , and one conservative publication calling him outright a " weakling and a political ingrate ".

Members of the Trump administration have played various word games with the public on intervention in Syria. From unnamed officials saying the missile strike was a "one off," to named officials promising more if there were any other suspected chemical attacks (or use of barrel bombs -- and this while the US dropped the biggest non-nuclear bomb in existence on Afghanistan); some said that regime change was not the goal, and then others made it clear that was the ultimate goal ; and then Trump saying, "Our policy is the same, it hasn't changed. We're not going into Syria " -- even though Trump himself greatly increased the number of US troops he deployed to Syria , illegally, in an escalation of the least protested invasion in recent history. Now we should know enough not to count this as mere ambiguity, but as deliberate obfuscation that offers momentary (thinly veiled) cover for a renewal of neocon policy .

We can draw an outline of Trump's liberal imperialism when it comes to Syria, which is likely to be applied elsewhere. First, Trump's interventionist policy regarding Syria is one that continues to treat that country as if it were terra nullius , a mere playground for superpower politics. Second, Trump is clearly continuing with the neoconservative agenda and its hit list of states to be terminated by US military action, as famously confirmed by Gen. Wesley Clark. Even Trump's strategy for justifying the attack on Syria echoed the two prior Bush presidential administrations -- selling war with the infamous "incubator babies" myth and the myth of "weapons of mass destruction" (WMDs). In many ways, Trump's presidency is thus shaping up to be either the seventh term of the George H.W. Bush regime, or the fifth straight term of the George W. Bush regime. Third, Trump is taking ownership of an extremely dangerous conflict, with costs that could surpass anything witnessed by the war on Iraq (which also continues). Fourth, by highlighting the importance of photographs in allegedly changing his mind, Trump has placed a high market value on propaganda featuring dead babies. His actions in Syria will now create an effective demand for the pornographic trade in pictures of atrocities. These are matters of great importance to the transnational capitalist class, which demands full global penetrability, diminished state power (unless in the service of this class' goals), a uniformity of expectations and conformity in behaviour, and an emphasis on individual civil liberties which are the basis for defending private property and consumerism.

Venezuela

It is very disturbing to see how Venezuela is being framed as ripe for US intervention, in ways that distinctly echo the lead up to the US war on Libya. Just as disturbing is that Trump's Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, has a clear conflict of interest regarding Venezuela, from his recent role as CEO of Exxon and its conflict with the government of Venezuela over its nationalization of oil. Tillerson is, by any definition, a clear-cut member of the transnational capitalist class. The Twitter account of the State Department has a battery of messages sternly lecturing Venezuela about the treatment of protesters, while also pontificating on the Venezuelan Constitution as if the US State Department had become a global supreme court. What is impressive is the seamless continuity in the nature of the messages on Venezuela from that account, as if no change of government happened between Obama's time and Trump's. Nikki Haley, Trump's neocon ambassador to the UN, issued a statement that read like it had been written by her predecessors, Samantha Power and Susan Rice, a statement which in itself is an unacceptable intervention in Venezuelan internal affairs. For Trump's part, from just days before the election, to a couple of weeks after his inauguration, he has sent explicit messages of support for anti-government forces in Venezuela. In February, Trump imposed sanctions on Venezuela's Vice President. After Syria and North Korea, Venezuela is seeming the likely focus of US interventionism under Trump.

NATO

Rounding out the picture, at least for now (this was just the first hundred days of Trump's presidency), was Trump's outstanding reversal on NATO -- in fact, once again he stated the reversal himself, and without explanation either: " I said it was obsolete. It's no longer obsolete ". This came just days after the US missile strike against Syria, and just as Ivanka Trump was about to represent his government at a meeting of globalist women, the W20 . NATO has served as the transnational military alliance at the service of the transnational capitalist class, and particularly the military and political members of the TCC. 7

Saving Neoliberalism?

Has Trump saved neoliberal capitalism from its ongoing demise? Has he sustained popular faith in liberal political ideals? Are we still in the dying days of liberalism ? If there had been a centrally coordinated plan to plant an operative among the ranks of populist conservatives and independents, to channel their support for nationalism into support for the persona of the plant, and to then have that plant steer a course straight back to shoring up neoliberal globalism -- then we might have had a wonderful story of a masterful conspiracy, the biggest heist in the history of elections anywhere. A truly "rigged system" could be expected to behave that way. Was Trump designated to take the fall in a rigged game, only his huge ego got in the way when he realized he could realistically win the election and he decided to really tilt hard against his partner, Hillary Clinton? It could be the basis for a novel, or a Hollywood political comedy. I have no way of knowing if it could be true.

Framed within the terms of what we do know, there was relief by the ousted group of political elites and the liberal globalist media at the sight of Trump's reversals, and a sense that their vision had been vindicated. However, if they are hoping that the likes of Trump will serve as a reliable flag bearer, then theirs is a misguided wishful thinking. If someone so demonized and ridiculed, tarnished as an evil thug and racist fascist, the subject of mass demonstrations in the US and abroad, is the latest champion of (neo)liberalism, then we are certainly witnessing its dying days.

Is Trump Beneficial for Anti-Imperialism?

Once one is informed enough and thus prepared to understand that anti-imperialism is not the exclusive preserve of the left (a left which anyway has mostly shunned it over the last two decades), that it did not originate with the left , and that it has a long and distinguished history in the US itself , then we can move toward some interesting realizations. The facts, borne out by surveys and my own online immersion among pro-Trump social media users, is that one of the significant reasons why Trump won is due to the growth in popularity of basic anti-imperialist principles (even if not recognized under that name): for example, no more world policing, no transnational militarization, no more interventions abroad, no more regime change, no war, and no globalism. Nationalists in Europe, as in Russia, have also pushed forward a basic anti-imperialist vision. Whereas in Latin America anti-imperialism is largely still leftist, in Europe and North America the left-right divide has become blurred, but the crucial thing is that at least now we can speak of anti-imperialism gaining strength in these three major continents. Resistance against globalization has been the primary objective, along with strengthening national sovereignty, protecting local cultural identity, and opposing free trade and transnational capital. Unfortunately, some anti-imperialist writers (on the left in fact) have tended to restrict their field of vision to military matters primarily, while almost completely neglecting the economic and cultural, and especially domestic dimensions of imperialism. (I am grossly generalizing of course, but I think it is largely accurate.) Where structures such as NAFTA are concerned, many of these same leftist anti-imperialists, few as they are, have had virtually nothing to say. It could be that they have yet to fully recognize that the transnational capitalist class has, gradually over the last seven decades, essentially purchased the power of US imperialism. Therefore the TCC's imperialism includes NAFTA, just as it includes open borders, neoliberal identity politics, and drone strikes. They are all different parts of the same whole.

As argued in the previous section, if Trump is to be the newfound champion of this imperialism -- empire's prodigal son -- then what an abysmally poor choice he is. 8

On the one hand, he helped to unleash US anti-interventionism (usually called "isolationism" not to call it anti-imperialism, which would then admit to imperialism which is still denied by most of the dominant elites). On the other hand, in trying to now contain such popular sentiment, he loses credibility -- after having lost credibility with the groups his campaign displaced. In addition to that, given that his candidacy aggravated internal divisions in the US, which have not subsided with his assumption of office, these domestic social and cultural conflicts cause a serious deficit of legitimacy, a loss of political capital. A declining economy will also deprive him of capital in the strict sense. Moreover, given the kind of persona the media have crafted, the daily caricaturing of Trump will significantly spur anti-Americanism around the world. If suddenly even Canadian academics are talking about boycotting the US, then the worm has truly turned. Trump can only rely on "hard power" (military violence), because "soft power" is almost out of the question now that Trump has been constructed as a barbarian. Incompetent and/or undermined governance will also render Trump a deficient upholder of the status quo. The fact that nationalist movements around the world are not centrally coordinated, and their fortunes are not pinned to those of Trump, establishes a well-defined limit to his influence. Trump's antagonism toward various countries -- as wholes -- has already helped to stir up a deep sediment of anti-Americanism. If Americanism is at the heart of Trump's nationalist globalism, then it is doing all the things that are needed to induce a major heart attack.

As for Trump's domestic opposition, what should be most pertinent are issues of conflict of interest and nepotism . Here members of Trump's base are more on target yet again, when they reject the presence of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner in the White House ("we didn't elect Ivanka or Jared"), than are those distracted by identity politics.

As Trump leverages the presidency to upgrade the Trump family to the transnational capitalist class, and reinforces the power of US imperialism which that class has purchased, conflict of interest and nepotism will be the main political signposts of the transformation of the Trump presidency, but they could also be the targets for a refined strategy of opposition.

[Feb 03, 2019] Ever hear of the "Hague Invasion Act" passed under Bush?

Feb 03, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

The Rev Kev , , February 1, 2019 at 7:24 pm

Ever hear of the "Hague Invasion Act" passed under Bush? In short, if you are an American or an American ally (e.g. Israeli) and you find yourself in Hague charged with war crimes or crimes against humanity, the Pentagon is authorized to go into the Hague, if necessary, and break them out-

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Service-Members%27_Protection_Act

Andrew Thomas , , February 1, 2019 at 11:00 am

I remember being utterly amazed about 10 years ago when the Germans wanted to just look at their gold in the vaults at the New York Fed, and were told by the US authorities "NO!" , and the Germans backed down. And another moment of gob-smacking arrogance during the Reagan years when the US refused to recognize the World Court's jurisdiction when Nicaragua sued the US for mining it's harbors. The US refused to participate, lost the case and was able to get away with not paying the judgment. Is my memory faulty on any of this?

David , , February 1, 2019 at 10:11 am

I'm sympathetic to the argument, but coming from an academic the presentation is a bit sloppy. Not only does he invent the meaningless phrase "quo bono" (as has been pointed out, it's "cui bono") he's wrong about World Bank Presidents being former Defence Secretaries (the current incumbent is Korean, anyway). He's completely confused about the legal side, and has invented an entirely mythical organisation -- the "United Nations International Court." He seems to be mixing up two organisations: the International Court of Justice in The Hague, which is nothing to do with the UN, and settles international law questions where the countries agree to accept its judgements, and the International Criminal Court also in The Hague which deals with violations of international humanitarian law, and is a treaty-based organisation of which the US is not a member anyway.

Five minutes checking in Wikipedia could have avoided all these errors. I wonder how many others there are? As I say, I'm not unsympathetic to the argument, but you expect better from a distinguished academic.

Watt4Bob , , February 1, 2019 at 11:05 am

Who is confused?

International Court of Justice ;

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations (UN). It was established in June 1945 by the Charter of the United Nations and began work in April 1946.

The seat of the Court is at the Peace

Palace in The Hague (Netherlands). Of the six principal organs of the United Nations, it is the only one not located in New York (United States of America).

The Court's role is to settle, in accordance with international law, legal disputes submitted to it by States and to give advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it by authorized United Nations organs and specialized agencies.

The Court is composed of 15 judges, who are elected for terms of office of nine years by the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council. It is assisted by a Registry, its administrative organ. Its official languages are English and French

W4B;

Making stuff up is against this sites rules.

David , , February 1, 2019 at 12:17 pm

It predates the United Nations as the Permanent Court of International Justice, although it has a link to the UN now, as practically all global organisations do. The UN is obviously the right place to elect the judges, for example. It is not a "UN Court" and has jurisdiction only over international law questions where both sides agree in advance to accept the verdict. The article is conflating and confusing two organisations in the Hague, quite different, which in each case have a link to the UN, but are not, individually or collectively, a "UN Court."

Alex Cox , , February 1, 2019 at 2:21 pm

I second David's remarks. The author should get his terms right and be clear what court he's referring to -- he does seem to conflate the ICC and the ICJ.

One other correction: I believe it was FDR, not LBJ, who famously remarked "He may be a son of a [family blog] but he's our son of a [family blog]," in reference to the Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza.

[Feb 03, 2019] As US Freezes, This Is Where Europeans Can't Afford To Heat Their Homes

Feb 03, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

radbug , 2 hours ago link

How come Poland's at 6% & Lithuania is at 29%? Don't they both import American LNG? And how come Estonia is at 3%? Sounds like the Estonians import Russian gas. Bulgaria's at 37%. Now what were the assurances John McCain gave Sofia regarding alternative gas options to Southstream? Please spell them out for me again, I'm pretty slow, you know!

Banjo , 2 hours ago link

Where is Ukraine since the friendly western backed guys moved in?

Probably less than 1% now that but you're off Putin and Russia and the. US had your back.

Moribundus , 7 hours ago link

Bulgarians are happi like that so they rejected South Stream. They jumped into american trap, idiots.

Mustahattu , 7 hours ago link

There's many stupid countries in Europe falling into the US LNG trap. The americunts are laughing.

zeroboris , 7 hours ago link

They also rejected a nuclear power plant, which Russians were building for them, after a call from American embassy. They're hopeless.

IronForge , 8 hours ago link

What is so ridiculously ClusterFrack-Failed about this, is that BGR nixed a CNG Pipeline Deal with RUS under pressure from the EU_EXECUTIVES.

Instead of Jobs and Transit Fee Income, BGR will have to stand in line and pay more for CNG since TRK picked up the Pipeline. The Southeastern EUROZONE are STILL going to Import that same RUS_CNG.

The Stupidity and RUSSIA_HATE have no bounds...

10LBS_SHIT_5LB_BAG , 8 hours ago link

Among member states , the largest share of people who could not afford to properly heat their home was recorded in Bulgaria at 36.5 percent.

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

South Stream was a pipeline project to transport natural gas of the Russian Federation through the Black Sea to Bulgaria and through Serbia , Hungary and Slovenia further to Austria .

The project created controversy due to non-compliance with European Union competition and energy legislation, in particular the Third Energy Package , which stipulates the separation of companies' generation and sale operations from their transmission networks.

It was seen as rival to the Nabucco pipeline project. Construction of the Russian onshore facilities for the pipeline started in December 2012. The project was cancelled by Russia in December 2014 following obstacles from Bulgaria and the EU, the 2014 Crimean crisis , and the imposition of European sanctions on Russia. The project has been replaced by proposals of Turkish Stream and Tesla pipeline .

I wonder if they ever regretted that decision?

Volkodav , 7 hours ago link

Decision was Bulgarian govt, not the people.

Most Euro leaders are compromised.

Since the govt has crawled back beg Russia,

as strength shifts East.

[Feb 03, 2019] Saudis didn't want our Dollars initially all that much, for what it's worth.

Feb 03, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Wukchumni , , February 1, 2019 at 2:25 pm

The Saudis didn't want our Dollars initially all that much, for what it's worth.

The Coins that Weren't

"In Saudi Arabia, gold coins have always been important in the monetary system. For years, in fact, paper money was unacceptable, and to pay royalties to the government, Aramco once flew kegs of both gold and silver coins to jiddah. In 1952, when the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) was formed, the first coin issued was a Saudi sovereign -- a gold coin equal in weight and value to the British sovereign -- that was later demonetized and today sells for about $124

To collectors, however, the most interesting Saudi gold coins weren't coins at all; they were "gold discs" Similar to coins, they were minted by the Philadelphia Mint in the 1940's for Aramco, and bore, on one side, the U. S. Eagle and the legend "U. S. Mint, Philadelphia, USA" and, on the other side, three lines on the fineness and weight. They looked like coins, they were used as coins, but, technically, they weren't coins.

The coins were struck in Philadelphia by the United States Mint in 1945 and 1947 to satisfy the obligations of the Arabian American Oil Company, or Aramco, which had been set up in Saudi Arabia by four American oil companies. The company was obliged to pay the Saudi Government $3 million a year in oil royalties and its contract specified that the payment be made in gold.

The United States dollar at the time was governed by a gold standard that, at least officially, made the dollar worth one thirty-fifth of an ounce of gold. But the price of gold on the open market had skyrocketed during World War II.

For a time the Saudis accepted payment in United States currency, but by 1945 they were insisting that the payments in gold be resumed. Aramco sought help from the United States Government. Faced with the prospect of either a cutoff of substantial amounts of Middle Eastern oil or a huge increase in the price of Saudi crude, the Government minted 91,120 large gold disks adorned with the American eagle and the words "U.S. Mint -- Philadelphia."

https://coinweek.com/coins/news/unusual-items-us-mint-gold-disks-made-for-oil-payments-to-saudi-arabia/

[Feb 03, 2019] The post 1933 law: Americans weren't allowed to own gold bullion in ingot form, or any coins dated after 1933, which allowed for any citizen to own any US or foreign gold coin minted in 1932 or earlier

Notable quotes:
"... Currency regime change can take decades, and small percentage differences are enormous because of the flows involved. USD as reserve for 61% of global sovereigns versus 64% 15 years ago is a massive move. ..."
Feb 03, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Jim A. , , February 1, 2019 at 9:29 am

Quibble. Although "Nixon took us off the gold standard," is an idea popular with goldbugs, I don't think that we can regard a time when it was ILLEGAL for US citizens to own gold bullion as one when we were on the gold standard. Only central banks could exchange their dollars for gold. And they were discouraged from doing so.

Wukchumni , , February 1, 2019 at 9:39 am

A quibble with your quibble. Americans weren't allowed to own gold bullion in ingot form, or any coins dated after 1933, which allowed for any citizen to own any US or foreign gold coin minted in 1932 or earlier. This also created a cottage industry among foreign mints, which restruck coins dated much earlier, such as all of the various 1915 Austrian gold coins, Swiss 20 Franc gold coins, etc.

As far as discouragement by our government in regards to central banks wanting to trade their greenbacks for gold, i'd like to see some documentation on that, as i've never heard of such a thing prior to 1971.

Wukchumni , , February 1, 2019 at 9:59 am

p.s.

Of all the efforts by foreign mints to get around the post 1933 law, the Turks were very ingenious, in that their gold coins were struck with a frozen date of 1923, and you had to add the number below that date to get the year of issuance.

This one was dated 1923 and had 47 below it, so the coin was struck in 1970.

https://www.ma-shops.com/eidler/item.php?id=1199&lang=en

OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL , , February 1, 2019 at 1:41 pm

Currency regime change can take decades, and small percentage differences are enormous because of the flows involved. USD as reserve for 61% of global sovereigns versus 64% 15 years ago is a massive move. World bond market flows are 10X the size of world stock market flows even though the price of the Dow and Facebook shares etc get all of the headlines.

And foreign exchange flows are 10-50X the flows of bond markets, they're currently on the order of $5 *trillion* per day. And since forex is almost completely unregulated it's quite difficult to get the data and spot reserve currency trends. Oh, and buy gold. It's the only currency that requires no counterparty and is no one's debt obligation.

Tom Bradford , , February 1, 2019 at 5:44 pm

Oh, and buy gold

I 'sacked' my financial managers and took my portfolio off them when they put a couple of % of its value into 'gold' against my express instructions.

Gold pays no dividends, and I have to pay someone to keep it for me. It's only value is the gamble of a capital gain, but as the Jews of Europe discovered in the period 1939-1944, when your back is to the wall gold's value is suddenly very low even when you're offering the real thing. If push came to shove what would be the value of a piece of paper purporting to be a right to a chunk of a gold ingot in a basement half a world away which you can't legally take possession of anyway?

Even if the ingot exists, which I doubt. I've a suspicion that if everyone with a such a piece of paper turned up outside the fund's door wanting their chunk of ingot it would be quickly be discovered that there was a lot more gold on paper than there was in the vault.

Yes, the same applies to my deposits at the bank. But at least that is supposedly regulated by third party authorities and even to some extent guaranteed by the state.

[Feb 03, 2019] I guess when you really can't compete because you subsidize the military and FIRE sectors and don't invest in your society, you resort to government interference in the market or "regime change", and then criticize anyone for doing the same thing. Hypocrisy at its finest.

Feb 03, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Steve , , February 1, 2019 at 10:24 am

Its interesting that in Asia, the USG also says it wants to help build infrastructure for LNG use (as an element of its anti China strategy) but then also wants Asian nations like Vietnam to buy American LNG (to reduce America's trade deficits, etc.) once the infrastructure is in place.

Except it would be economically stupid for anyone in Asia to buy more expensive US LNG, when adequate supplies of LNG at lower costs are available from nations like Australia, Malaysia and Indonesia and of course Qatar.

I guess when you really can't compete because you subsidize the military and FIRE sectors and don't invest in your society, you resort to government interference in the market or "regime change", and then criticize anyone for doing the same thing. Hypocrisy at its finest.

Oregoncharles , , February 1, 2019 at 2:07 pm

" it has offered to sell high-priced LNG from the United States (via port facilities that do not yet exist in anywhere near the volume required)." -- facilities that are themselves dangerous and highly controversial. Oregon is in the midst of one of those controversies, trying to stop construction of an LNG export "facility" at Coos Bay, a scenic but impoverished port on the southern Oregon coast. It would come with a pipeline across the state, which is also highly unwelcome. LNG facilities are a fuel-air bomb waiting to happen, if it should leak -- the Oregon coast is subject to Magnitude 9 subduction quakes and tsunamis. The project would also involve massive dredging that would threaten the local seafood industry. And gas pipelines are subject to their own threats, doubly so in earthquake country. Maybe they can be built uncontested in Europe -- but I doubt it.

[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.

[Feb 03, 2019] Pope Francis denounces trickle-down economics by Aaron Blake

Highly recommended!
This "apostolic exhortation" is probably the most sharp critique of neoliberalism by a church leader.
Notable quotes:
"... "In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world," the pope wrote. "This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting." ..."
"... In his exhortation, the pope also attacked economic inequality, suggesting Christians have a duty to combat it to comply with the Ten Commandments -- specifically the prohibition on killing. ..."
Nov 26, 2013 | www.washingtonpost.com

Pope Francis delivers a speech March 15, 2013, during a meeting of the world's cardinals. (Osservatore Romano/EPA)

Pope Francis has released a sharply worded take on capitalism and the world's treatment of its poor, criticizing "trickle-down" economic policies in no uncertain terms.

In the first lengthy writing of his papacy -- also known as an "apostolic exhortation" -- Francis says such economic theories naively rely on the goodness of those in charge and create a "tyranny" of the markets.

"In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world," the pope wrote. "This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting."

While popes have often warned against the negative impact of the markets, Francis's verbiage is note-worthy because of its use of the phrase "trickle-down" -- a term that came into popular usage as a description for former president Ronald Reagan's economic policies. While the term is often used pejoratively, it describes an economic theory that remains popular with conservatives in the United States today.

The theory holds that policies benefiting the wealthiest segment of society will also help the poor, by allowing money to "trickle down" from the top income levels into the lower ones. Critics, including President Obama, say the policies, usually focused on tax cuts and credits that primarily benefit upper-income Americans, concentrate wealth in the highest income levels and that the benefits rarely trickle down to the extent proponents suggest.

In his exhortation, the pope also attacked economic inequality, suggesting Christians have a duty to combat it to comply with the Ten Commandments -- specifically the prohibition on killing.

"Just as the commandment 'Thou shalt not kill' sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say 'thou shalt not' to an economy of exclusion and inequality," the pope wrote. "Such an economy kills."

The pope also likened the worship of money to the biblical golden calf .

"We have created new idols," Francis wrote. "The worship of the ancient golden calf ... has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose."

The pope also attacks "consumerism": "It is evident that unbridled consumerism combined with inequality proves doubly damaging to the social fabric."

Here is the entire passage:

I. SOME CHALLENGES OF TODAY'S WORLD

52. In our time humanity is experiencing a turning-point in its history, as we can see from the advances being made in so many fields. We can only praise the steps being taken to improve people's welfare in areas such as health care, education and communications. At the same time we have to remember that the majority of our contemporaries are barely living from day to day, with dire consequences. A number of diseases are spreading. The hearts of many people are gripped by fear and desperation, even in the so-called rich countries. The joy of living frequently fades, lack of respect for others and violence are on the rise, and inequality is increasingly evident. It is a struggle to live and, often, to live with precious little dignity. This epochal change has been set in motion by the enormous qualitative, quantitative, rapid and cumulative advances occuring in the sciences and in technology, and by their instant application in different areas of nature and of life. We are in an age of knowledge and information, which has led to new and often anonymous kinds of power.

No to an economy of exclusion

53. Just as the commandment "Thou shalt not kill" sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say "thou shalt not" to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills. How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points? This is a case of exclusion. Can we continue to stand by when food is thrown away while people are starving? This is a case of inequality. Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.

Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded. We have created a "disposable" culture which is now spreading. It is no longer simply about exploitation and oppression, but something new. Exclusion ultimately has to do with what it means to be a part of the society in which we live; those excluded are no longer society's underside or its fringes or its disenfranchised – they are no longer even a part of it. The excluded are not the "exploited" but the outcast, the "leftovers".

54. In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting. To sustain a lifestyle which excludes others, or to sustain enthusiasm for that selfish ideal, a globalization of indifference has developed. Almost without being aware of it, we end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people's pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else's responsibility and not our own. The culture of prosperity deadens us; we are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase; and in the meantime all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us.

No to the new idolatry of money

55. One cause of this situation is found in our relationship with money, since we calmly accept its dominion over ourselves and our societies. The current financial crisis can make us overlook the fact that it originated in a profound human crisis: the denial of the primacy of the human person! We have created new idols. The worship of the ancient golden calf (cf. Ex 32:1-35) has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose. The worldwide crisis affecting finance and the economy lays bare their imbalances and, above all, their lack of real concern for human beings; man is reduced to one of his needs alone: consumption.

56. While the earnings of a minority are growing exponentially, so too is the gap separating the majority from the prosperity enjoyed by those happy few. This imbalance is the result of ideologies which defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation. Consequently, they reject the right of states, charged with vigilance for the common good, to exercise any form of control. A new tyranny is thus born, invisible and often virtual, which unilaterally and relentlessly imposes its own laws and rules. Debt and the accumulation of interest also make it difficult for countries to realize the potential of their own economies and keep citizens from enjoying their real purchasing power. To all this we can add widespread corruption and self-serving tax evasion, which have taken on worldwide dimensions. The thirst for power and possessions knows no limits. In this system, which tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits, whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of a deified market, which become the only rule.

No to a financial system which rules rather than serves

57. Behind this attitude lurks a rejection of ethics and a rejection of God. Ethics has come to be viewed with a certain scornful derision. It is seen as counterproductive, too human, because it makes money and power relative. It is felt to be a threat, since it condemns the manipulation and debasement of the person. In effect, ethics leads to a God who calls for a committed response which is outside of the categories of the marketplace. When these latter are absolutized, God can only be seen as uncontrollable, unmanageable, even dangerous, since he calls human beings to their full realization and to freedom from all forms of enslavement. Ethics – a non-ideological ethics – would make it possible to bring about balance and a more humane social order. With this in mind, I encourage financial experts and political leaders to ponder the words of one of the sages of antiquity: "Not to share one's wealth with the poor is to steal from them and to take away their livelihood. It is not our own goods which we hold, but theirs". [55]

58. A financial reform open to such ethical considerations would require a vigorous change of approach on the part of political leaders. I urge them to face this challenge with determination and an eye to the future, while not ignoring, of course, the specifics of each case. Money must serve, not rule! The Pope loves everyone, rich and poor alike, but he is obliged in the name of Christ to remind all that the rich must help, respect and promote the poor. I exhort you to generous solidarity and a return of economics and finance to an ethical approach which favours human beings.

No to the inequality which spawns violence

59. Today in many places we hear a call for greater security. But until exclusion and inequality in society and between peoples is reversed, it will be impossible to eliminate violence. The poor and the poorer peoples are accused of violence, yet without equal opportunities the different forms of aggression and conflict will find a fertile terrain for growth and eventually explode. When a society – whether local, national or global – is willing to leave a part of itself on the fringes, no political programmes or resources spent on law enforcement or surveillance systems can indefinitely guarantee tranquility. This is not the case simply because inequality provokes a violent reaction from those excluded from the system, but because the socioeconomic system is unjust at its root. Just as goodness tends to spread, the toleration of evil, which is injustice, tends to expand its baneful influence and quietly to undermine any political and social system, no matter how solid it may appear. If every action has its consequences, an evil embedded in the structures of a society has a constant potential for disintegration and death. It is evil crystallized in unjust social structures, which cannot be the basis of hope for a better future. We are far from the so-called "end of history", since the conditions for a sustainable and peaceful development have not yet been adequately articulated and realized.

60. Today's economic mechanisms promote inordinate consumption, yet it is evident that unbridled consumerism combined with inequality proves doubly damaging to the social fabric. Inequality eventually engenders a violence which recourse to arms cannot and never will be able to resolve. This serves only to offer false hopes to those clamouring for heightened security, even though nowadays we know that weapons and violence, rather than providing solutions, create new and more serious conflicts. Some simply content themselves with blaming the poor and the poorer countries themselves for their troubles; indulging in unwarranted generalizations, they claim that the solution is an "education" that would tranquilize them, making them tame and harmless. All this becomes even more exasperating for the marginalized in the light of the widespread and deeply rooted corruption found in many countries – in their governments, businesses and institutions – whatever the political ideology of their leaders.

[Feb 03, 2019] Evangelii Gaudium Apostolic Exhortation on the Proclamation of the Gospel in Today's World (24 November 2013)

Highly recommended!
Nov 23, 2013 | w2.vatican.va

... ... ...

CHAPTER TWO: AMID THE CRISIS OF COMMUNAL COMMITMENT

50. Before taking up some basic questions related to the work of evangelization, it may be helpful to mention briefly the context in which we all have to live and work. Today, we frequently hear of a "diagnostic overload" which is not always accompanied by improved and actually applicable methods of treatment. Nor would we be well served by a purely sociological analysis which would aim to embrace all of reality by employing an allegedly neutral and clinical method. What I would like to propose is something much more in the line of an evangelical discernment. It is the approach of a missionary disciple, an approach "nourished by the light and strength of the Holy Spirit". [53]

51. It is not the task of the Pope to offer a detailed and complete analysis of contemporary reality, but I do exhort all the communities to an "ever watchful scrutiny of the signs of the times". [54] This is in fact a grave responsibility, since certain present realities, unless effectively dealt with, are capable of setting off processes of dehumanization which would then be hard to reverse. We need to distinguish clearly what might be a fruit of the kingdom from what runs counter to God's plan. This involves not only recognizing and discerning spirits, but also – and this is decisive – choosing movements of the spirit of good and rejecting those of the spirit of evil. I take for granted the different analyses which other documents of the universal magisterium have offered, as well as those proposed by the regional and national conferences of bishops. In this Exhortation I claim only to consider briefly, and from a pastoral perspective, certain factors which can restrain or weaken the impulse of missionary renewal in the Church, either because they threaten the life and dignity of God's people or because they affect those who are directly involved in the Church's institutions and in her work of evangelization.

I. Some challenges of today's world

52. In our time humanity is experiencing a turning-point in its history, as we can see from the advances being made in so many fields. We can only praise the steps being taken to improve people's welfare in areas such as health care, education and communications. At the same time we have to remember that the majority of our contemporaries are barely living from day to day, with dire consequences. A number of diseases are spreading. The hearts of many people are gripped by fear and desperation, even in the so-called rich countries. The joy of living frequently fades, lack of respect for others and violence are on the rise, and inequality is increasingly evident. It is a struggle to live and, often, to live with precious little dignity. This epochal change has been set in motion by the enormous qualitative, quantitative, rapid and cumulative advances occuring in the sciences and in technology, and by their instant application in different areas of nature and of life. We are in an age of knowledge and information, which has led to new and often anonymous kinds of power.

No to an economy of exclusion

53. Just as the commandment "Thou shalt not kill" sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say "thou shalt not" to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills. How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points? This is a case of exclusion. Can we continue to stand by when food is thrown away while people are starving? This is a case of inequality. Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.

Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded. We have created a "throw away" culture which is now spreading. It is no longer simply about exploitation and oppression, but something new. Exclusion ultimately has to do with what it means to be a part of the society in which we live; those excluded are no longer society's underside or its fringes or its disenfranchised – they are no longer even a part of it. The excluded are not the "exploited" but the outcast, the "leftovers".

54. In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting. To sustain a lifestyle which excludes others, or to sustain enthusiasm for that selfish ideal, a globalization of indifference has developed. Almost without being aware of it, we end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people's pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else's responsibility and not our own. The culture of prosperity deadens us; we are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase. In the meantime all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us.

No to the new idolatry of money

55. One cause of this situation is found in our relationship with money, since we calmly accept its dominion over ourselves and our societies. The current financial crisis can make us overlook the fact that it originated in a profound human crisis: the denial of the primacy of the human person! We have created new idols. The worship of the ancient golden calf (cf. Ex 32:1-35) has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose. The worldwide crisis affecting finance and the economy lays bare their imbalances and, above all, their lack of real concern for human beings; man is reduced to one of his needs alone: consumption.

56. While the earnings of a minority are growing exponentially, so too is the gap separating the majority from the prosperity enjoyed by those happy few. This imbalance is the result of ideologies which defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation. Consequently, they reject the right of states, charged with vigilance for the common good, to exercise any form of control. A new tyranny is thus born, invisible and often virtual, which unilaterally and relentlessly imposes its own laws and rules. Debt and the accumulation of interest also make it difficult for countries to realize the potential of their own economies and keep citizens from enjoying their real purchasing power. To all this we can add widespread corruption and self-serving tax evasion, which have taken on worldwide dimensions. The thirst for power and possessions knows no limits. In this system, which tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits, whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of a deified market, which become the only rule.

No to a financial system which rules rather than serves

57. Behind this attitude lurks a rejection of ethics and a rejection of God. Ethics has come to be viewed with a certain scornful derision. It is seen as counterproductive, too human, because it makes money and power relative. It is felt to be a threat, since it condemns the manipulation and debasement of the person. In effect, ethics leads to a God who calls for a committed response which is outside the categories of the marketplace. When these latter are absolutized, God can only be seen as uncontrollable, unmanageable, even dangerous, since he calls human beings to their full realization and to freedom from all forms of enslavement. Ethics – a non-ideological ethics – would make it possible to bring about balance and a more humane social order. With this in mind, I encourage financial experts and political leaders to ponder the words of one of the sages of antiquity: "Not to share one's wealth with the poor is to steal from them and to take away their livelihood. It is not our own goods which we hold, but theirs". [55]

58. A financial reform open to such ethical considerations would require a vigorous change of approach on the part of political leaders. I urge them to face this challenge with determination and an eye to the future, while not ignoring, of course, the specifics of each case. Money must serve, not rule! The Pope loves everyone, rich and poor alike, but he is obliged in the name of Christ to remind all that the rich must help, respect and promote the poor. I exhort you to generous solidarity and to the return of economics and finance to an ethical approach which favours human beings.

No to the inequality which spawns violence

59. Today in many places we hear a call for greater security. But until exclusion and inequality in society and between peoples are reversed, it will be impossible to eliminate violence. The poor and the poorer peoples are accused of violence, yet without equal opportunities the different forms of aggression and conflict will find a fertile terrain for growth and eventually explode. When a society – whether local, national or global – is willing to leave a part of itself on the fringes, no political programmes or resources spent on law enforcement or surveillance systems can indefinitely guarantee tranquility. This is not the case simply because inequality provokes a violent reaction from those excluded from the system, but because the socioeconomic system is unjust at its root. Just as goodness tends to spread, the toleration of evil, which is injustice, tends to expand its baneful influence and quietly to undermine any political and social system, no matter how solid it may appear. If every action has its consequences, an evil embedded in the structures of a society has a constant potential for disintegration and death. It is evil crystallized in unjust social structures, which cannot be the basis of hope for a better future. We are far from the so-called "end of history", since the conditions for a sustainable and peaceful development have not yet been adequately articulated and realized.

60. Today's economic mechanisms promote inordinate consumption, yet it is evident that unbridled consumerism combined with inequality proves doubly damaging to the social fabric. Inequality eventually engenders a violence which recourse to arms cannot and never will be able to resolve. It serves only to offer false hopes to those clamouring for heightened security, even though nowadays we know that weapons and violence, rather than providing solutions, create new and more serious conflicts. Some simply content themselves with blaming the poor and the poorer countries themselves for their troubles; indulging in unwarranted generalizations, they claim that the solution is an "education" that would tranquilize them, making them tame and harmless. All this becomes even more exasperating for the marginalized in the light of the widespread and deeply rooted corruption found in many countries – in their governments, businesses and institutions – whatever the political ideology of their leaders.

Some cultural challenges

61. We also evangelize when we attempt to confront the various challenges which can arise. [56] On occasion these may take the form of veritable attacks on religious freedom or new persecutions directed against Christians; in some countries these have reached alarming levels of hatred and violence. In many places, the problem is more that of widespread indifference and relativism, linked to disillusionment and the crisis of ideologies which has come about as a reaction to any-thing which might appear totalitarian. This not only harms the Church but the fabric of society as a whole. We should recognize how in a culture where each person wants to be bearer of his or her own subjective truth, it becomes difficult for citizens to devise a common plan which transcends individual gain and personal ambitions.

62. In the prevailing culture, priority is given to the outward, the immediate, the visible, the quick, the superficial and the provisional. What is real gives way to appearances. In many countries globalization has meant a hastened deterioration of their own cultural roots and the invasion of ways of thinking and acting proper to other cultures which are economically advanced but ethically debilitated. This fact has been brought up by bishops from various continents in different Synods. The African bishops, for example, taking up the Encyclical Sollicitudo Rei Socialis , pointed out years ago that there have been frequent attempts to make the African countries "parts of a machine, cogs on a gigantic wheel. This is often true also in the field of social communications which, being run by centres mostly in the northern hemisphere, do not always give due consideration to the priorities and problems of such countries or respect their cultural make-up". [57] By the same token, the bishops of Asia "underlined the external influences being brought to bear on Asian cultures. New patterns of behaviour are emerging as a result of over-exposure to the mass media As a result, the negative aspects of the media and entertainment industries are threatening traditional values, and in particular the sacredness of marriage and the stability of the family". [58]

63. The Catholic faith of many peoples is nowadays being challenged by the proliferation of new religious movements, some of which tend to fundamentalism while others seem to propose a spirituality without God. This is, on the one hand, a human reaction to a materialistic, consumerist and individualistic society, but it is also a means of exploiting the weaknesses of people living in poverty and on the fringes of society, people who make ends meet amid great human suffering and are looking for immediate solutions to their needs. These religious movements, not without a certain shrewdness, come to fill, within a predominantly individualistic culture, a vacuum left by secularist rationalism. We must recognize that if part of our baptized people lack a sense of belonging to the Church, this is also due to certain structures and the occasionally unwelcoming atmosphere of some of our parishes and communities, or to a bureaucratic way of dealing with problems, be they simple or complex, in the lives of our people. In many places an administrative approach prevails over a pastoral approach, as does a concentration on administering the sacraments apart from other forms of evangelization.

64. The process of secularization tends to reduce the faith and the Church to the sphere of the private and personal. Furthermore, by completely rejecting the transcendent, it has produced a growing deterioration of ethics, a weakening of the sense of personal and collective sin, and a steady increase in relativism. These have led to a general sense of disorientation, especially in the periods of adolescence and young adulthood which are so vulnerable to change. As the bishops of the United States of America have rightly pointed out, while the Church insists on the existence of objective moral norms which are valid for everyone, "there are those in our culture who portray this teaching as unjust, that is, as opposed to basic human rights. Such claims usually follow from a form of moral relativism that is joined, not without inconsistency, to a belief in the absolute rights of individuals. In this view, the Church is perceived as promoting a particular prejudice and as interfering with individual freedom". [59] We are living in an information-driven society which bombards us indiscriminately with data – all treated as being of equal importance – and which leads to remarkable superficiality in the area of moral discernment. In response, we need to provide an education which teaches critical thinking and encourages the development of mature moral values.

65. Despite the tide of secularism which has swept our societies, in many countries – even those where Christians are a minority – the Catholic Church is considered a credible institution by public opinion, and trusted for her solidarity and concern for those in greatest need. Again and again, the Church has acted as a mediator in finding solutions to problems affecting peace, social harmony, the land, the defence of life, human and civil rights, and so forth. And how much good has been done by Catholic schools and universities around the world! This is a good thing. Yet, we find it difficult to make people see that when we raise other questions less palatable to public opinion, we are doing so out of fidelity to precisely the same convictions about human dignity and the common good.

66. The family is experiencing a profound cultural crisis, as are all communities and social bonds. In the case of the family, the weakening of these bonds is particularly serious because the family is the fundamental cell of society, where we learn to live with others despite our differences and to belong to one another; it is also the place where parents pass on the faith to their children. Marriage now tends to be viewed as a form of mere emotional satisfaction that can be constructed in any way or modified at will. But the indispensible contribution of marriage to society transcends the feelings and momentary needs of the couple. As the French bishops have taught, it is not born "of loving sentiment, ephemeral by definition, but from the depth of the obligation assumed by the spouses who accept to enter a total communion of life". [60]

67. The individualism of our postmodern and globalized era favours a lifestyle which weakens the development and stability of personal relationships and distorts family bonds. Pastoral activity needs to bring out more clearly the fact that our relationship with the Father demands and encourages a communion which heals, promotes and reinforces interpersonal bonds. In our world, especially in some countries, different forms of war and conflict are re-emerging, yet we Christians remain steadfast in our intention to respect others, to heal wounds, to build bridges, to strengthen relationships and to "bear one another's burdens" ( Gal 6:2). Today too, various associations for the defence of rights and the pursuit of noble goals are being founded. This is a sign of the desire of many people to contribute to social and cultural progress.

[Feb 02, 2019] The US has a secret weapon in the trade war

Technological superiority is a weapon and the USA know how to use it.
Notable quotes:
"... Made in China 2025 is the Chinese government's 10-year plan to update the country's 10 high-tech manufacturing industries, which include information technology, robotics, aerospace, rail transport, and new-energy vehicles, among others. ..."
"... Without U.S. semis, China will not be able to process the technology necessary to push forward the Made in China 2025 program. "American chips in many ways form the backbone of China's tech economy," Shah said. ..."
"... The Trump Administration's tariffs on Chinese goods were intended to severely disrupt the Chinese tech-advancement initiative. But Shah says that making U.S. chips more expensive for China could have consequences for the U.S. as well. ..."
"... "Over 50% of Chinese semiconductor consumption is supplied by U.S. firms In 2017, China consumed $138bn in integrated circuits (ICs), of which it only produced $18.5bn domestically, implying China imported $120bn of semis in 2017, up from $98bn in 2016 and $73bn in 2012." ..."
"... If the two leaders are unable to come to some sort of trade resolution at the meeting, U.S. tariffs on over $200 billion worth of Chinese goods will increase from 10% to 25% on January 1, 2019. ..."
"... While US has the upper hand on semis, a trade embargo on semis will (1) slows down China's move towards achieving Made in China 2025, (2) at the same time give China the impetus to rush ahead will all resources available to achieve the originally omitted goal of being self-sufficient in tech skills and technology, and (3) seriously hurt companies like Intel, AMD, Micron, and Qualcom as a huge percentage of their businesses are with China, and with that portion of their business gone, all these companies will end up in a loss and without the needed financial resources to invest into new technology in the near future. ..."
Nov 30, 2018 | www.yahoo.com

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets/follow_button.html?screen_name=heidi_chung&show_screen_name=false&show_count=false

Heidi Chung Reporter , Yahoo Finance November 28, 2018

As trade tensions run hot between the U.S. and China, President Trump might have one key advantage in the trade war, according to Nomura.

Analyst Romit Shah explained that China's dependence on U.S.-made advanced microchips could give Trump the upper hand.

"We believe that as China-U.S. tensions escalate, U.S. semiconductors give Washington a strong hand because the core components of Made in China 2025 (AI, smart factories, 5G, bigdata and full self-driving electric vehicles) can't happen without advanced microchips from the U.S.," Shah said in a note to clients.

BEIJING, CHINA – NOVEMBER 9, 2017: US President Donald Trump (L) and China's President Xi Jinping shake hands at a press conference following their meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. Artyom Ivanov/TASS (Photo by Artyom Ivanov\TASS via Getty Images)

Made in China 2025 is the Chinese government's 10-year plan to update the country's 10 high-tech manufacturing industries, which include information technology, robotics, aerospace, rail transport, and new-energy vehicles, among others.

One of Made in China 2025's main goals is to become semiconductor self sufficient. China hopes that at least 40% of the semiconductors used in China will be made locally by 2020, and at least 70% by 2025. "Made in China 2025 made abundantly clear China's commitment to semiconductor self-sufficiency. Made in China 2025 will upgrade multiple facets of the Chinese economy," Shah said.

According to Nomura's estimates, China is currently about 3 to 5 years behind the U.S. in dynamic random-access memory (DRAM) chip production. However, Shah explained that if the trade war persists, the consequences could set Chinese chip production behind by 5 to 15 years.

Without U.S. semis, China will not be able to process the technology necessary to push forward the Made in China 2025 program. "American chips in many ways form the backbone of China's tech economy," Shah said.

Consequences for U.S.

The Trump Administration's tariffs on Chinese goods were intended to severely disrupt the Chinese tech-advancement initiative. But Shah says that making U.S. chips more expensive for China could have consequences for the U.S. as well.

One concern centers around intellectual property theft. The Department of Justice (DOJ) has been working hard to punish China for allegedly attempting to commit espionage. For example, the DOJ believes China was attempting to spy on the U.S. through Huawei and asked U.S. allies to drop the Chinese tech equipment maker.

However, while many U.S. chipmakers, such as Advanced Micro Devices ( AMD ), Qualcomm ( QCOM ) and Micron ( MU ), expressed gratitude that the DOJ was intervening to prevent intellectual property theft, the companies are also concerned that it could spark retaliation from their Chinese business partners and result in loss of access to the Chinese market. "Joint ventures, IP sharing agreements and manufacturing partnerships are the price of admission into China, and thus far, companies are playing ball," Shah explained.

Shah essentially calls the Chinese tariffs a double-edged sword. While tariffs will hurt the Chinese if they can't have access to freely source U.S. chips, it could also hurt U.S. chipmakers if they lose their business in China. According to Shah's research, "Over 50% of Chinese semiconductor consumption is supplied by U.S. firms In 2017, China consumed $138bn in integrated circuits (ICs), of which it only produced $18.5bn domestically, implying China imported $120bn of semis in 2017, up from $98bn in 2016 and $73bn in 2012."

Trump and China's President Xi Jinping are scheduled to meet at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Thursday for a two-day meeting. If the two leaders are unable to come to some sort of trade resolution at the meeting, U.S. tariffs on over $200 billion worth of Chinese goods will increase from 10% to 25% on January 1, 2019.

"China could source equipment from Europe and Japan; however, we believe there are certain mission-critical tools that can only be purchased from the U.S. We believe that U.S.-China trade is the biggest theme for U.S. semis and equipment stocks in 2019. Made in China 2025 can't happen without U.S. semis, and U.S. semis can't grow without China. We hope this backdrop drives resolution," Shah said.

Heidi Chung is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @heidi_chung .

R

[Feb 02, 2019] Pope Francis has some sensible things to say

Notable quotes:
"... Politics must not be subject to the economy, nor should the economy be subject to the dictates of an efficiency-driven paradigm of technocracy. Today, in view of the common good, there is urgent need for politics and economics to enter into a frank dialogue in the service of life, especially human life. ..."
"... Production is not always rational, and is usually tied to economic variables which assign to products a value that does not necessarily correspond to their real worth. This frequently leads to an overproduction of some commodities, with unnecessary impact on the environment and with negative results on regional economies.[133] The financial bubble also tends to be a productive bubble. The problem of the real economy is not confronted with vigour, yet it is the real economy which makes diversification and improvement in production possible, helps companies to function well, and enables small and medium businesses to develop and create employment. ..."
"... Whenever these questions are raised, some react by accusing others of irrationally attempting to stand in the way of progress and human development. But we need to grow in the conviction that a decrease in the pace of production and consumption can at times give rise to another form of progress and development. ..."
"... The principle of the maximization of profits, frequently isolated from other considerations, reflects a misunderstanding of the very concept of the economy. As long as production is increased, little concern is given to whether it is at the cost of future resources or the health of the environment; as long as the clearing of a forest increases production, no one calculates the losses entailed in the desertification of the land, the harm done to biodiversity or the increased pollution. In a word, businesses profit by calculating and paying only a fraction of the costs involved. Yet only when "the economic and social costs of using up shared environmental resources are recognized with transparency and fully borne by those who incur them, not by other peoples or future generations",[138] can those actions be considered ethical. An instrumental way of reasoning, which provides a purely static analysis of realities in the service of present needs, is at work whether resources are allocated by the market or by state central planning. ..."
Dec 16, 2016 | economistsview.typepad.com
December 16, 2016 at 07:48 AM
I'm an environmental scientist, not an economist, but it seems to me that Pope Francis has some sensible things to say, as in the following from Laudato si:

IV. POLITICS AND ECONOMY IN DIALOGUE FOR HUMAN FULFILMENT

189. Politics must not be subject to the economy, nor should the economy be subject to the dictates of an efficiency-driven paradigm of technocracy. Today, in view of the common good, there is urgent need for politics and economics to enter into a frank dialogue in the service of life, especially human life. Saving banks at any cost, making the public pay the price, foregoing a firm commitment to reviewing and reforming the entire system, only reaffirms the absolute power of a financial system, a power which has no future and will only give rise to new crises after a slow, costly and only apparent recovery. The financial crisis of 2007-08 provided an opportunity to develop a new economy, more attentive to ethical principles, and new ways of regulating speculative financial practices and virtual wealth. But the response to the crisis did not include rethinking the outdated criteria which continue to rule the world. Production is not always rational, and is usually tied to economic variables which assign to products a value that does not necessarily correspond to their real worth. This frequently leads to an overproduction of some commodities, with unnecessary impact on the environment and with negative results on regional economies.[133] The financial bubble also tends to be a productive bubble. The problem of the real economy is not confronted with vigour, yet it is the real economy which makes diversification and improvement in production possible, helps companies to function well, and enables small and medium businesses to develop and create employment.

190. Here too, it should always be kept in mind that "environmental protection cannot be assured solely on the basis of financial calculations of costs and benefits. The environment is one of those goods that cannot be adequately safeguarded or promoted by market forces".[134] Once more, we need to reject a magical conception of the market, which would suggest that problems can be solved simply by an increase in the profits of companies or individuals. Is it realistic to hope that those who are obsessed with maximizing profits will stop to reflect on the environmental damage which they will leave behind for future generations? Where profits alone count, there can be no thinking about the rhythms of nature, its phases of decay and regeneration, or the complexity of ecosystems which may be gravely upset by human intervention. Moreover, biodiversity is considered at most a deposit of economic resources available for exploitation, with no serious thought for the real value of things, their significance for persons and cultures, or the concerns and needs of the poor.

191. Whenever these questions are raised, some react by accusing others of irrationally attempting to stand in the way of progress and human development. But we need to grow in the conviction that a decrease in the pace of production and consumption can at times give rise to another form of progress and development. Efforts to promote a sustainable use of natural resources are not a waste of money, but rather an investment capable of providing other economic benefits in the medium term. If we look at the larger picture, we can see that more diversified and innovative forms of production which impact less on the environment can prove very profitable. It is a matter of openness to different possibilities which do not involve stifling human creativity and its ideals of progress, but rather directing that energy along new channels.

192. For example, a path of productive development, which is more creative and better directed, could correct the present disparity between excessive technological investment in consumption and insufficient investment in resolving urgent problems facing the human family. It could generate intelligent and profitable ways of reusing, revamping and recycling, and it could also improve the energy efficiency of cities. Productive diversification offers the fullest possibilities to human ingenuity to create and innovate, while at the same time protecting the environment and creating more sources of employment. Such creativity would be a worthy expression of our most noble human qualities, for we would be striving intelligently, boldly and responsibly to promote a sustainable and equitable development within the context of a broader concept of quality of life. On the other hand, to find ever new ways of despoiling nature, purely for the sake of new consumer items and quick profit, would be, in human terms, less worthy and creative, and more superficial.

193. In any event, if in some cases sustainable development were to involve new forms of growth, then in other cases, given the insatiable and irresponsible growth produced over many decades, we need also to think of containing growth by setting some reasonable limits and even retracing our steps before it is too late. We know how unsustainable is the behaviour of those who constantly consume and destroy, while others are not yet able to live in a way worthy of their human dignity. That is why the time has come to accept decreased growth in some parts of the world, in order to provide resources for other places to experience healthy growth. Benedict XVI has said that "technologically advanced societies must be prepared to encourage more sober lifestyles, while reducing their energy consumption and improving its efficiency".[135]
194. For new models of progress to arise, there is a need to change "models of global development";[136] this will entail a responsible reflection on "the meaning of the economy and its goals with an eye to correcting its malfunctions and misapplications".[137] It is not enough to balance, in the medium term, the protection of nature with financial gain, or the preservation of the environment with progress. Halfway measures simply delay the inevitable disaster. Put simply, it is a matter of redefining our notion of progress. A technological and economic development which does not leave in its wake a better world and an integrally higher quality of life cannot be considered progress. Frequently, in fact, people's quality of life actually diminishes – by the deterioration of the environment, the low quality of food or the depletion of resources – in the midst of economic growth. In this context, talk of sustainable growth usually becomes a way of distracting attention and offering excuses. It absorbs the language and values of ecology into the categories of finance and technocracy, and the social and environmental responsibility of businesses often gets reduced to a series of marketing and image-enhancing measures.

195. The principle of the maximization of profits, frequently isolated from other considerations, reflects a misunderstanding of the very concept of the economy. As long as production is increased, little concern is given to whether it is at the cost of future resources or the health of the environment; as long as the clearing of a forest increases production, no one calculates the losses entailed in the desertification of the land, the harm done to biodiversity or the increased pollution. In a word, businesses profit by calculating and paying only a fraction of the costs involved. Yet only when "the economic and social costs of using up shared environmental resources are recognized with transparency and fully borne by those who incur them, not by other peoples or future generations",[138] can those actions be considered ethical. An instrumental way of reasoning, which provides a purely static analysis of realities in the service of present needs, is at work whether resources are allocated by the market or by state central planning.

196. What happens with politics? Let us keep in mind the principle of subsidiarity, which grants freedom to develop the capabilities present at every level of society, while also demanding a greater sense of responsibility for the common good from those who wield greater power. Today, it is the case that some economic sectors exercise more power than states themselves. But economics without politics cannot be justified, since this would make it impossible to favour other ways of handling the various aspects of the present crisis. The mindset which leaves no room for sincere concern for the environment is the same mindset which lacks concern for the inclusion of the most vulnerable members of society. For "the current model, with its emphasis on success and self-reliance, does not appear to favour an investment in efforts to help the slow, the weak or the less talented to find opportunities in life".[139]

197. What is needed is a politics which is far-sighted and capable of a new, integral and interdisciplinary approach to handling the different aspects of the crisis. Often, politics itself is responsible for the disrepute in which it is held, on account of corruption and the failure to enact sound public policies. If in a given region the state does not carry out its responsibilities, some business groups can come forward in the guise of benefactors, wield real power, and consider themselves exempt from certain rules, to the point of tolerating different forms of organized crime, human trafficking, the drug trade and violence, all of which become very difficult to eradicate. If politics shows itself incapable of breaking such a perverse logic, and remains caught up in inconsequential discussions, we will continue to avoid facing the major problems of humanity. A strategy for real change calls for rethinking processes in their entirety, for it is not enough to include a few superficial ecological considerations while failing to question the logic which underlies present-day culture. A healthy politics needs to be able to take up this challenge.

198. Politics and the economy tend to blame each other when it comes to poverty and environmental degradation. It is to be hoped that they can acknowledge their own mistakes and find forms of interaction directed to the common good. While some are concerned only with financial gain, and others with holding on to or increasing their power, what we are left with are conflicts or spurious agreements where the last thing either party is concerned about is caring for the environment and protecting those who are most vulnerable. Here too, we see how true it is that "unity is greater than conflict".[140]

[Feb 02, 2019] In Fiery Speeches, Francis Excoriates Global Capitalism

The French economist Thomas Piketty argued last year in a surprising best-seller, "Capital in the Twenty-First Century," that rising wealth inequality was a natural result of free-market policies, a direct challenge to the conventional view that economic inequalities shrink over time. The controversial implication drawn by Mr. Piketty is that governments should raise taxes on the wealthy.
Notable quotes:
"... His speeches can blend biblical fury with apocalyptic doom. Pope Francis does not just criticize the excesses of global capitalism. He compares them to the "dung of the devil." He does not simply argue that systemic "greed for money" is a bad thing. He calls it a "subtle dictatorship" that "condemns and enslaves men and women." ..."
"... The Argentine pope seemed to be asking for a social revolution. "This is not theology as usual; this is him shouting from the mountaintop," said Stephen F. Schneck, the director of the Institute for Policy Research and Catholic studies at Catholic University of America in Washington. ..."
"... Left-wing populism is surging in countries immersed in economic turmoil, such as Spain, and, most notably, Greece . But even in the United States, where the economy has rebounded, widespread concern about inequality and corporate power are propelling the rise of liberals like Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who, in turn, have pushed the Democratic Party presidential front-runner, Hillary Rodham Clinton, to the left. ..."
"... Even some free-market champions are now reassessing the shortcomings of unfettered capitalism. George Soros, who made billions in the markets, and then spent a good part of it promoting the spread of free markets in Eastern Europe, now argues that the pendulum has swung too far the other way. ..."
"... Many Catholic scholars would argue that Francis is merely continuing a line of Catholic social teaching that has existed for more than a century and was embraced even by his two conservative predecessors, John Paul II and Benedict XVI. Pope Leo XIII first called for economic justice on behalf of workers in 1891, with his encyclical "Rerum Novarum" - or, "On Condition of Labor." ..."
"... Francis has such a strong sense of urgency "because he has been on the front lines with real people, not just numbers and abstract ideas," Mr. Schneck said. "That real-life experience of working with the most marginalized in Argentina has been the source of his inspiration as pontiff." ..."
"... In Bolivia, Francis praised cooperatives and other localized organizations that he said provide productive economies for the poor. "How different this is than the situation that results when those left behind by the formal market are exploited like slaves!" he said on Wednesday night. ..."
"... It is this Old Testament-like rhetoric that some finding jarring, perhaps especially so in the United States, where Francis will visit in September. His environmental encyclical, "Laudato Si'," released last month, drew loud criticism from some American conservatives and from others who found his language deeply pessimistic. His right-leaning critics also argued that he was overreaching and straying dangerously beyond religion - while condemning capitalism with too broad a brush. ..."
"... The French economist Thomas Piketty argued last year in a surprising best-seller, "Capital in the Twenty-First Century," that rising wealth inequality was a natural result of free-market policies, a direct challenge to the conventional view that economic inequalities shrink over time. The controversial implication drawn by Mr. Piketty is that governments should raise taxes on the wealthy. ..."
"... "Working for a just distribution of the fruits of the earth and human labor is not mere philanthropy," he said on Wednesday. "It is a moral obligation. For Christians, the responsibility is even greater: It is a commandment." ..."
"... "I'm a believer in capitalism but it comes in as many flavors as pie, and we have a choice about the kind of capitalist system that we have," said Mr. Hanauer, now an outspoken proponent of redistributive government ..."
"... "What can be done by those students, those young people, those activists, those missionaries who come to my neighborhood with the hearts full of hopes and dreams but without any real solution for my problems?" he asked. "A lot! They can do a lot. ..."
Jul 11, 2015 | msn.com

ASUNCIÓN, Paraguay - His speeches can blend biblical fury with apocalyptic doom. Pope Francis does not just criticize the excesses of global capitalism. He compares them to the "dung of the devil." He does not simply argue that systemic "greed for money" is a bad thing. He calls it a "subtle dictatorship" that "condemns and enslaves men and women."

Having returned to his native Latin America, Francis has renewed his left-leaning critiques on the inequalities of capitalism, describing it as an underlying cause of global injustice, and a prime cause of climate change. Francis escalated that line last week when he made a historic apology for the crimes of the Roman Catholic Church during the period of Spanish colonialism - even as he called for a global movement against a "new colonialism" rooted in an inequitable economic order.

The Argentine pope seemed to be asking for a social revolution. "This is not theology as usual; this is him shouting from the mountaintop," said Stephen F. Schneck, the director of the Institute for Policy Research and Catholic studies at Catholic University of America in Washington.

The last pope who so boldly placed himself at the center of the global moment was John Paul II, who during the 1980s pushed the church to confront what many saw as the challenge of that era, communism. John Paul II's anti-Communist messaging dovetailed with the agenda of political conservatives eager for a tougher line against the Soviets and, in turn, aligned part of the church hierarchy with the political right.

Francis has defined the economic challenge of this era as the failure of global capitalism to create fairness, equity and dignified livelihoods for the poor - a social and religious agenda that coincides with a resurgence of the leftist thinking marginalized in the days of John Paul II. Francis' increasingly sharp critique comes as much of humanity has never been so wealthy or well fed - yet rising inequality and repeated financial crises have unsettled voters, policy makers and economists.

Left-wing populism is surging in countries immersed in economic turmoil, such as Spain, and, most notably, Greece. But even in the United States, where the economy has rebounded, widespread concern about inequality and corporate power are propelling the rise of liberals like Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who, in turn, have pushed the Democratic Party presidential front-runner, Hillary Rodham Clinton, to the left.

Even some free-market champions are now reassessing the shortcomings of unfettered capitalism. George Soros, who made billions in the markets, and then spent a good part of it promoting the spread of free markets in Eastern Europe, now argues that the pendulum has swung too far the other way.

"I think the pope is singing to the music that's already in the air," said Robert A. Johnson, executive director of the Institute for New Economic Thinking, which was financed with $50 million from Mr. Soros. "And that's a good thing. That's what artists do, and I think the pope is sensitive to the lack of legitimacy of the system."

Many Catholic scholars would argue that Francis is merely continuing a line of Catholic social teaching that has existed for more than a century and was embraced even by his two conservative predecessors, John Paul II and Benedict XVI. Pope Leo XIII first called for economic justice on behalf of workers in 1891, with his encyclical "Rerum Novarum" - or, "On Condition of Labor."

Mr. Schneck, of Catholic University, said it was as if Francis were saying, "We've been talking about these things for more than one hundred years, and nobody is listening."

Francis has such a strong sense of urgency "because he has been on the front lines with real people, not just numbers and abstract ideas," Mr. Schneck said. "That real-life experience of working with the most marginalized in Argentina has been the source of his inspiration as pontiff."

Francis made his speech on Wednesday night, in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, before nearly 2,000 social advocates, farmers, trash workers and neighborhood activists. Even as he meets regularly with heads of state, Francis has often said that change must come from the grass roots, whether from poor people or the community organizers who work with them. To Francis, the poor have earned knowledge that is useful and redeeming, even as a "throwaway culture" tosses them aside. He sees them as being at the front edge of economic and environmental crises around the world.

In Bolivia, Francis praised cooperatives and other localized organizations that he said provide productive economies for the poor. "How different this is than the situation that results when those left behind by the formal market are exploited like slaves!" he said on Wednesday night.

It is this Old Testament-like rhetoric that some finding jarring, perhaps especially so in the United States, where Francis will visit in September. His environmental encyclical, "Laudato Si'," released last month, drew loud criticism from some American conservatives and from others who found his language deeply pessimistic. His right-leaning critics also argued that he was overreaching and straying dangerously beyond religion - while condemning capitalism with too broad a brush.

"I wish Francis would focus on positives, on how a free-market economy guided by an ethical framework, and the rule of law, can be a part of the solution for the poor - rather than just jumping from the reality of people's misery to the analysis that a market economy is the problem," said the Rev. Robert A. Sirico, president of the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty, which advocates free-market economics.

Francis' sharpest critics have accused him of being a Marxist or a Latin American Communist, even as he opposed communism during his time in Argentina. His tour last week of Latin America began in Ecuador and Bolivia, two countries with far-left governments. President Evo Morales of Bolivia, who wore a Che Guevara patch on his jacket during Francis' speech, claimed the pope as a kindred spirit - even as Francis seemed startled and caught off guard when Mr. Morales gave him a wooden crucifix shaped like a hammer and sickle as a gift.

Francis' primary agenda last week was to begin renewing Catholicism in Latin America and reposition it as the church of the poor. His apology for the church's complicity in the colonialist era received an immediate roar from the crowd. In various parts of Latin America, the association between the church and economic power elites remains intact. In Chile, a socially conservative country, some members of the country's corporate elite are also members of Opus Dei, the traditionalist Catholic organization founded in Spain in 1928.

Inevitably, Francis' critique can be read as a broadside against Pax Americana, the period of capitalism regulated by global institutions created largely by the United States. But even pillars of that system are shifting. The World Bank, which long promoted economic growth as an end in itself, is now increasingly focused on the distribution of gains, after the Arab Spring revolts in some countries that the bank had held up as models. The latest generation of international trade agreements includes efforts to increase protections for workers and the environment.

The French economist Thomas Piketty argued last year in a surprising best-seller, "Capital in the Twenty-First Century," that rising wealth inequality was a natural result of free-market policies, a direct challenge to the conventional view that economic inequalities shrink over time. The controversial implication drawn by Mr. Piketty is that governments should raise taxes on the wealthy.

Mr. Piketty roiled the debate among mainstream economists, yet Francis' critique is more unnerving to some because he is not reframing inequality and poverty around a new economic theory but instead defining it in moral terms. "Working for a just distribution of the fruits of the earth and human labor is not mere philanthropy," he said on Wednesday. "It is a moral obligation. For Christians, the responsibility is even greater: It is a commandment."

Nick Hanauer, a Seattle venture capitalist, said that he saw Francis as making a nuanced point about capitalism, embodied by his coinage of a "social mortgage" on accumulated wealth - a debt to the society that made its accumulation possible. Mr. Hanauer said that economic elites should embrace the need for reforms both for moral and pragmatic reasons. "I'm a believer in capitalism but it comes in as many flavors as pie, and we have a choice about the kind of capitalist system that we have," said Mr. Hanauer, now an outspoken proponent of redistributive government policies like a higher minimum wage.

Yet what remains unclear is whether Francis has a clear vision for a systemic alternative to the status quo that he and others criticize. "All these critiques point toward the incoherence of the simple idea of free market economics, but they don't prescribe a remedy," said Mr. Johnson, of the Institute for New Economic Thinking.

Francis acknowledged as much, conceding on Wednesday that he had no new "recipe" to quickly change the world. Instead, he spoke about a "process of change" undertaken at the grass-roots level.

"What can be done by those students, those young people, those activists, those missionaries who come to my neighborhood with the hearts full of hopes and dreams but without any real solution for my problems?" he asked. "A lot! They can do a lot. "You, the lowly, the exploited, the poor and underprivileged, can do, and are doing, a lot. I would even say that the future of humanity is in great measure in your own hands."

[Feb 02, 2019] Alliance of Vladimir Putin and The Russian Orthodox Church Against Neoliberalism

Religion is definitely a useful tool fight neoliberalism. Actually outside of far right and religious fundamentalists almost any tool that is useful for fighting neoliberalism should be viewed positively. Currently Catholicism opposes neoliberalism more actively and probably somewhat more successfully due to the statute of Pope Francis then Orthodox Church.
Notable quotes:
"... The conflict between Russia and the West, therefore, is portrayed by both the ROC and by Vladimir Putin and his cohorts as nothing less than a spiritual/civilizational conflict. ..."
May 21, 2015 | Forbes

Amidst the geopolitical confrontation between Vladimir Putin's Russia and the US and its allies, little attention has been paid to the role played by religion either as a shaper of Russian domestic politics or as a means of understanding Putin's international actions. The role of religion has long tended to get short thrift in the study of statecraft (although it has been experiencing a bit of a renaissance of late), yet nowhere has it played a more prominent role – and perhaps nowhere has its importance been more unrecognized – than in its role in supporting the Russian state and Russia's current place in world affairs.

And while much attention has been paid to the growing authoritarianism of the Kremlin and on the support for Putin's regime on the part of the Russian oligarchs whom Putin has enriched through his crony capitalism, little has been paid to the equally critical role of the Russian Orthodox Church in helping to shape Russia's current system, and in supporting Putin's regime and publicly conflating the mission of the Russian state under Vladimir Putin's leadership with the mission of the Church. Putin's move in close coordination with the Russian Orthodox Church to sacralize the Russian national identity has been a key factor shaping the increasingly authoritarian bent of the Russian government under Putin, and strengthening his public support, and must be understood in order to understand Russia's international behavior.

The close relationship between the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) and the Russian state based upon a shared, theologically-informed vision of Russian exceptionalism is not a new phenomenon. During the days of the Czar, the Russian ruler was seen as God's chosen ruler of a Russian nation tasked with representing a unique set of value embodied by Russian Orthodoxy, and was revered as "the Holy Orthodox Czar". Today, a not dissimilar vision of Russian exceptionalism is once again shared by the ROC and the Kremlin, and many Russians are beginning to see Vladimir Putin in a similar vein – a perception encouraged both by Putin and by the Church, each of which sees the other as a valuable political ally and sees their respective missions as being interrelated.

... ... ...

When Putin came to power he shrewdly noted the ROC's useful role in boosting nationalism and the fact that it shared his view of Russia's role in the world, and began to work toward strengthening the Church's role in Russian society. Early in his presidency the Russian Duma passed a law returning all church property seized during the Soviet era (which act alone made the ROC one of the largest landholders in Russia). Over the past decade and a half, Putin has ordered state-owned energy firms to contribute billions to the rebuilding of thousands of churches destroyed under the Soviets, and many of those rich oligarchs surrounding him are dedicated supporters of the ROC who have contributed to the growing influence of the church in myriad ways. Around 25,000 ROC churches have been built or rebuilt since the early 1990′s, the vast majority of which have been built during Putin's rule and largely due to his backing and that of those in his close circle of supporters. Additionally, the ROC has been given rights that have vastly increased its role in public life, including the right to teach religion in Russia's public schools and the right to review any legislation before the Russian Duma.

The glue that holds together the alliance between Vladimir Putin and the ROC, and the one that more than any other explains their mutually-supporting actions, is their shared, sacralized vision of Russian national identity and exceptionalism. Russia, according to this vision, is neither Western nor Asian, but rather a unique society representing a unique set of values which are believed to be divinely inspired. The Kremlin's chief ideologue in this regard is Alexander Dugin (see a good summary of the historical roots of Dugin's philosophy and of his impact on the Russian government here.) According to this vision of the relationship between church, state, and society, the state dominates, the ROC partnering with the state, and individuals and private organizations supporting both church and state. This has provided the ideological justification for Putin's crackdown on dissent, and the rationale behind the Church's cooperation with the Kremlin in the repression of civil society groups or other religious groups which have dissenting political views. And the ROC's hostility toward the activities in Russia of other religious groups have dovetailed with that of Putin, who views independent religious activity as a potential threat to his regime.

Internationally, Russia's mission is to expand its influence and authority until it dominates the Eurasian landmass, by means of a strong central Russian state controlling this vast territory and aligned with the ROC as the arm of the Russian nation exercising its cultural influence. This vision of Russian exceptionalism has met with broad resonance within Russia, which goes a long way to explaining Putin's sky high polling numbers. Putin has successfully been able both to transfer to himself the social trust placed by most Russians in the ROC and has also to wrap himself in the trappings of almost a patron saint of Russia. The conflict between Russia and the West, therefore, is portrayed by both the ROC and by Vladimir Putin and his cohorts as nothing less than a spiritual/civilizational conflict. If anyone thought Europe's wars over religion were finished in 1648, the current standoff with Russia illustrates that that is not the case.

[Feb 02, 2019] The globalization of the technocratic paradigm

Notable quotes:
"... The technocratic paradigm also tends to dominate economic and political life. The economy accepts every advance in technology with a view to profit, without concern for its potentially negative impact on human beings. Finance overwhelms the real economy. The lessons of the global financial crisis have not been assimilated, and we are learning all too slowly the lessons of environmental deterioration. Some circles maintain that current economics and technology will solve all environmental problems, and argue, in popular and non-technical terms, that the problems of global hunger and poverty will be resolved simply by market growth. ..."
Jun 23, 2015 | EconoSpeak

From Encyclical Letter Laudato Si' of the Holy Father Francis, On Care For Our Common Home:

The basic problem goes even deeper: it is the way that humanity has taken up technology and its development according to an undifferentiated and one-dimensional paradigm. This paradigm exalts the concept of a subject who, using logical and rational procedures, progressively approaches and gains control over an external object. This subject makes every effort to establish the scientific and experimental method, which in itself is already a technique of possession, mastery and transformation. It is as if the subject were to find itself in the presence of something formless, completely open to manipulation. Men and women have constantly intervened in nature, but for a long time this meant being in tune with and respecting the possibilities offered by the things themselves. It was a matter of receiving what nature itself allowed, as if from its own hand. Now, by contrast, we are the ones to lay our hands on things, attempting to extract everything possible from them while frequently ignoring or forgetting the reality in front of us. Human beings and material objects no longer extend a friendly hand to one another; the relationship has become confrontational. This has made it easy to accept the idea of infinite or unlimited growth, which proves so attractive to economists, financiers and experts in technology. It is based on the lie that there is an infinite supply of the earth's goods, and this leads to the planet being squeezed dry beyond every limit. It is the false notion that "an infinite quantity of energy and resources are available, that it is possible to renew them quickly, and that the negative effects of the exploitation of the natural order can be easily absorbed"

"The technocratic paradigm also tends to dominate economic and political life. The economy accepts every advance in technology with a view to profit, without concern for its potentially negative impact on human beings. Finance overwhelms the real economy. The lessons of the global financial crisis have not been assimilated, and we are learning all too slowly the lessons of environmental deterioration. Some circles maintain that current economics and technology will solve all environmental problems, and argue, in popular and non-technical terms, that the problems of global hunger and poverty will be resolved simply by market growth.

They are less concerned with certain economic theories which today scarcely anybody dares defend, than with their actual operation in the functioning of the economy. They may not affirm such theories with words, but nonetheless support them with their deeds by showing no interest in more balanced levels of production, a better distribution of wealth, concern for the environment and the rights of future generations. Their behavior shows that for them maximizing profits is enough. Yet by itself the market cannot guarantee integral human development and social inclusion. At the same time, we have "a sort of 'superdevelopment' of a wasteful and consumerist kind which forms an unacceptable contrast with the ongoing situations of dehumanizing deprivation", while we are all too slow in developing economic institutions and social initiatives which can give the poor regular access to basic resources. We fail to see the deepest roots of our present failures, which have to do with the direction, goals, meaning and social implications of technological and economic growth."

[Feb 02, 2019] N.J. governor signs LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum bill into law

Feb 02, 2019 | www.nbcnews.com

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation on Thursday mandating that every school in the state teach students about "the political, economic, and social contributions" of LGBTQ people and people with disabilities.

The legislation, which will apply starting in the 2020-21 school year, requires that the boards of education for middle and high schools ensure that instructional materials, such as text books, include accurate portrayals of the contributions made by LGBTQ people and those with disabilities.

[Feb 02, 2019] Google Employees Are Fighting With Executives Over Pay

Notable quotes:
"... In July, Bloomberg reported that, for the first time, more than 50 percent of Google's workforce were temps, contractors, and vendors. ..."
Feb 02, 2019 | www.wired.com

... ... ...

Asked whether they have confidence in CEO Sundar Pichai and his management team to "effectively lead in the future," 74 percent of employees responded "positive," as opposed to "neutral" or "negative," in late 2018, down from 92 percent "positive" the year before. The 18-point drop left employee confidence at its lowest point in at least six years. The results of the survey, known internally as Googlegeist, also showed a decline in employees' satisfaction with their compensation, with 54 percent saying they were satisfied, compared with 64 percent the prior year.

The drop in employee sentiment helps explain why internal debate around compensation, pay equity, and trust in executives has heated up in recent weeks -- and why an HR presentation from 2016 went viral inside the company three years later.

The presentation, first reported by Bloomberg and reviewed by WIRED, dates from July 2016, about a year after Google started an internal effort to curb spending . In the slide deck, Google's human-resources department presents potential ways to cut the company's $20 billion compensation budget. Ideas include: promoting fewer people, hiring proportionately more low-level employees, and conducting an audit to make sure Google is paying benefits "(only) for the right people." In some cases, HR suggested ways to implement changes while drawing little attention, or tips on how to sell the changes to Google employees. Some of the suggestions were implemented, like eliminating the annual employee holiday gift; most were not.

Another, more radical proposal floated inside the company around the same time didn't appear in the deck. That suggested converting some full-time employees to contractors to save money. A person familiar with the situation said this proposal was not implemented. In July, Bloomberg reported that, for the first time, more than 50 percent of Google's workforce were temps, contractors, and vendors.

[Feb 02, 2019] Michael Hudson Trump s Brilliant Strategy to Dismember US Dollar Hegemony by Michael Hudson

Highly recommended!
Looks like the world order established after WWIII crumbed with the USSR and now it is again the law if jungles with the US as the biggest predator.
Notable quotes:
"... The root cause is clear: After the crescendo of pretenses and deceptions over Iraq, Libya and Syria, along with our absolution of the lawless regime of Saudi Arabia, foreign political leaders are coming to recognize what world-wide public opinion polls reported even before the Iraq/Iran-Contra boys turned their attention to the world's largest oil reserves in Venezuela: The United States is now the greatest threat to peace on the planet. ..."
"... Calling the U.S. coup being sponsored in Venezuela a defense of democracy reveals the Doublethink underlying U.S. foreign policy. It defines "democracy" to mean supporting U.S. foreign policy, pursuing neoliberal privatization of public infrastructure, dismantling government regulation and following the direction of U.S.-dominated global institutions, from the IMF and World Bank to NATO. For decades, the resulting foreign wars, domestic austerity programs and military interventions have brought more violence, not democracy ..."
"... A point had to come where this policy collided with the self-interest of other nations, finally breaking through the public relations rhetoric of empire. Other countries are proceeding to de-dollarize and replace what U.S. diplomacy calls "internationalism" (meaning U.S. nationalism imposed on the rest of the world) with their own national self-interest. ..."
"... For the past half-century, U.S. strategists, the State Department and National Endowment for Democracy (NED) worried that opposition to U.S. financial imperialism would come from left-wing parties. It therefore spent enormous resources manipulating parties that called themselves socialist (Tony Blair's British Labour Party, France's Socialist Party, Germany's Social Democrats, etc.) to adopt neoliberal policies that were the diametric opposite to what social democracy meant a century ago. But U.S. political planners and Great Wurlitzer organists neglected the right wing, imagining that it would instinctively support U.S. thuggishness. ..."
"... Perhaps the problem had to erupt as a result of the inner dynamics of U.S.-sponsored globalism becoming impossible to impose when the result is financial austerity, waves of population flight from U.S.-sponsored wars, and most of all, U.S. refusal to adhere to the rules and international laws that it itself sponsored seventy years ago in the wake of World War II. ..."
"... Here's the first legal contradiction in U.S. global diplomacy: The United States always has resisted letting any other country have any voice in U.S. domestic policies, law-making or diplomacy. That is what makes America "the exceptional nation." But for seventy years its diplomats have pretended that its superior judgment promoted a peaceful world (as the Roman Empire claimed to be), which let other countries share in prosperity and rising living standards. ..."
"... Inevitably, U.S. nationalism had to break up the mirage of One World internationalism, and with it any thought of an international court. Without veto power over the judges, the U.S. never accepted the authority of any court, in particular the United Nations' International Court in The Hague. Recently that court undertook an investigation into U.S. war crimes in Afghanistan, from its torture policies to bombing of civilian targets such as hospitals, weddings and infrastructure. "That investigation ultimately found 'a reasonable basis to believe that war crimes and crimes against humanity." ..."
"... This showed that international finance was an arm of the U.S. State Department and Pentagon. But that was a generation ago, and only recently did foreign countries begin to feel queasy about leaving their gold holdings in the United States, where they might be grabbed at will to punish any country that might act in ways that U.S. diplomacy found offensive. So last year, Germany finally got up the courage to ask that some of its gold be flown back to Germany. U.S. officials pretended to feel shocked at the insult that it might do to a civilized Christian country what it had done to Iran, and Germany agreed to slow down the transfer. ..."
"... England refused to honor the official request, following the direction of Bolton and U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo. As Bloomberg reported: "The U.S. officials are trying to steer Venezuela's overseas assets to [Chicago Boy Juan] Guaido to help bolster his chances of effectively taking control of the government. The $1.2 billion of gold is a big chunk of the $8 billion in foreign reserves held by the Venezuelan central bank." ..."
"... But now, cyber warfare has become a way of pulling out the connections of any economy. And the major cyber connections are financial money-transfer ones, headed by SWIFT, the acronym for the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, which is centered in Belgium. ..."
"... On January 31 the dam broke with the announcement that Europe had created its own bypass payments system for use with Iran and other countries targeted by U.S. diplomats. Germany, France and even the U.S. poodle Britain joined to create INSTEX -- Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges. The promise is that this will be used only for "humanitarian" aid to save Iran from a U.S.-sponsored Venezuela-type devastation. But in view of increasingly passionate U.S. opposition to the Nord Stream pipeline to carry Russian gas, this alternative bank clearing system will be ready and able to become operative if the United States tries to direct a sanctions attack on Europe ..."
"... The U.S. overplaying its position is leading to the Mackinder-Kissinger-Brzezinski Eurasian nightmare that I mentioned above. In addition to driving Russia and China together, U.S. diplomacy is adding Europe to the heartland, independent of U.S. ability to bully into the state of dependency toward which American diplomacy has aimed to achieve since 1945. ..."
"... By following U.S. advice, countries have left themselves open to food blackmail – sanctions against providing them with grain and other food, in case they step out of line with U.S. diplomatic demands. ..."
"... It is worthwhile to note that our global imposition of the mythical "efficiencies" of forcing Latin American countries to become plantations for export crops like coffee and bananas rather than growing their own wheat and corn has failed catastrophically to deliver better lives, especially for those living in Central America. The "spread" between the export crops and cheaper food imports from the U.S. that was supposed to materialize for countries following our playbook failed miserably – witness the caravans and refugees across Mexico. Of course, our backing of the most brutal military dictators and crime lords has not helped either. ..."
"... But a few years ago Ukraine defaulted on $3 billion owed to Russia. The IMF said, in effect, that Ukraine and other countries did not have to pay Russia or any other country deemed to be acting too independently of the United States. The IMF has been extending credit to the bottomless it of Ukrainian corruption to encourage its anti-Russian policy rather than standing up for the principle that inter-government debts must be paid. ..."
"... It is as if the IMF now operates out of a small room in the basement of the Pentagon in Washington. ..."
"... Anticipating just such a double-cross, President Chavez acted already in 2011 to repatriate 160 tons of gold to Caracas from the United States and Europe. ..."
"... It would be good for Americans, but the wrong kind of Americans. For the Americans that would populate the Global Executive Suite, a strong US$ means that the stipends they would pay would be worth more to the lackeys, and command more influence. ..."
"... Dumping the industrial base really ruined things. America is now in a position where it can shout orders, and drop bombs, but doesn't have the capacity to do anything helpful. They have to give up being what Toynbee called a creative minority, and settle for being a dominant minority. ..."
"... Having watched the 2016 election closely from afar, I was left with the impression that many of the swing voters who cast their vote for Trump did so under the assumption that he would act as a catalyst for systemic change. ..."
"... Now we know. He has ripped the already transparent mask of altruism off what is referred to as the U.S.-led liberal international order and revealed its true nature for all to see, and has managed to do it in spite of the liberal international establishment desperately trying to hold it in place in the hope of effecting a seamless post-Trump return to what they refer to as "norms". Interesting times. ..."
"... Exactly. He hasn't exactly lived up to advanced billing so far in all respects, but I suspect there's great deal of skulduggery going on behind the scenes that has prevented that. ..."
"... To paraphrase the infamous Rummy, you don't go to war with the change agent and policies you wished you had, you go to war with the ones you have. That might be the best thing we can say about Trump after the historic dust of his administration finally settles. ..."
"... Yet we find out that Venezuela didn't managed to do what they wanted to do, the Europeans, the Turks, etc bent over yet again. Nothing to see here, actually. ..."
"... So what I'm saying is he didn't make his point. I wish it were true. But a bit of grumbling and (a tiny amount of) foot-dragging by some pygmy leaders (Merkel) does not signal a global change. ..."
"... Currency regime change can take decades, and small percentage differences are enormous because of the flows involved. USD as reserve for 61% of global sovereigns versus 64% 15 years ago is a massive move. ..."
"... I discovered his Super Imperialism while looking for an explanation for the pending 2003 US invasion of Iraq. If you haven't read it yet, move it to the top of your queue if you want to have any idea of how the world really works. ..."
"... If it isn't clear to the rest of the world by now, it never will be. The US is incapable of changing on its own a corrupt status quo dominated by a coalition of its military industrial complex, Wall Street bankers and fossil fuels industries. As long as the world continues to chase the debt created on the keyboards of Wall Street banks and 'deficits don't matter' Washington neocons – as long as the world's 1% think they are getting 'richer' by adding more "debts that can't be repaid (and) won't be" to their portfolios, the global economy can never be put on a sustainable footing. ..."
"... In other words, after 2 World Wars that produced the current world order, it is still in a state of insanity with the same pretensions to superiority by the same people, to get number 3. ..."
"... Few among Washington's foreign policy elite seem to fully grasp the complex system that made U.S. global power what it now is, particularly its all-important geopolitical foundations. As Trump travels the globe, tweeting and trashing away, he's inadvertently showing us the essential structure of that power, the same way a devastating wildfire leaves the steel beams of a ruined building standing starkly above the smoking rubble." ..."
"... He's draining the swamp in an unpredicted way, a swamp that's founded on the money interest. I don't care what NYT and WaPo have to say, they are not reporting events but promoting agendas. ..."
"... The financial elites are only concerned about shaping society as they see fit, side of self serving is just a historical foot note, Trumps past indicates a strong preference for even more of the same through authoritarian memes or have some missed the OT WH reference to dawg both choosing and then compelling him to run. ..."
"... Highly doubt Trump is a "witting agent", most likely is that he is just as ignorant as he almost daily shows on twitter. On US role in global affairs he says the same today as he did as a media celebrity in the late 80s. Simplistic household "logics" on macroeconomics. If US have trade deficit it loses. Countries with surplus are the winners. ..."
"... Anyhow frightening, the US hegemony have its severe dark sides. But there is absolutely nothing better on the horizon, a crash will throw the world in turmoil for decades or even a century. A lot of bad forces will see their chance to elevate their influence. There will be fierce competition to fill the gap. ..."
"... On could the insane economic model of EU/Germany being on top of global affairs, a horribly frightening thought. Misery and austerity for all globally, a permanent recession. Probably not much better with the Chinese on top. I'll take the USD hegemony any day compared to that prospect. ..."
"... Former US ambassador, Chas Freeman, gets to the nub of the problem. "The US preference for governance by elected and appointed officials, uncontaminated by experience in statecraft and diplomacy, or knowledge of geography, history and foreign affairs" https://www.youtube.com/watch?annotation_id=annotation_882041135&feature=iv&src_vid=Ge1ozuXN7iI&v=gkf2MQdqz-o ..."
"... Michael Hudson, in Super Imperialism, went into how the US could just create the money to run a large trade deficit with the rest of the world. It would get all these imports effectively for nothing, the US's exorbitant privilege. I tied this in with this graph from MMT. ..."
"... The Government was running a surplus as the economy blew up in the early 1990s. It's the positive and negative, zero sum, nature of the monetary system. A big trade deficit needs a big Government deficit to cover it. A big trade deficit, with a balanced budget, drives the private sector into debt and blows up the economy. ..."
Feb 01, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

The end of America's unchallenged global economic dominance has arrived sooner than expected, thanks to the very same Neocons who gave the world the Iraq, Syria and the dirty wars in Latin America. Just as the Vietnam War drove the United States off gold by 1971, its sponsorship and funding of violent regime change wars against Venezuela and Syria – and threatening other countries with sanctions if they do not join this crusade – is now driving European and other nations to create their alternative financial institutions.

This break has been building for quite some time, and was bound to occur. But who would have thought that Donald Trump would become the catalytic agent? No left-wing party, no socialist, anarchist or foreign nationalist leader anywhere in the world could have achieved what he is doing to break up the American Empire. The Deep State is reacting with shock at how this right-wing real estate grifter has been able to drive other countries to defend themselves by dismantling the U.S.-centered world order. To rub it in, he is using Bush and Reagan-era Neocon arsonists, John Bolton and now Elliott Abrams, to fan the flames in Venezuela. It is almost like a black political comedy. The world of international diplomacy is being turned inside-out. A world where there is no longer even a pretense that we might adhere to international norms, let alone laws or treaties.

The Neocons who Trump has appointed are accomplishing what seemed unthinkable not long ago: Driving China and Russia together – the great nightmare of Henry Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski. They also are driving Germany and other European countries into the Eurasian orbit, the "Heartland" nightmare of Halford Mackinder a century ago.

The root cause is clear: After the crescendo of pretenses and deceptions over Iraq, Libya and Syria, along with our absolution of the lawless regime of Saudi Arabia, foreign political leaders are coming to recognize what world-wide public opinion polls reported even before the Iraq/Iran-Contra boys turned their attention to the world's largest oil reserves in Venezuela: The United States is now the greatest threat to peace on the planet.

Calling the U.S. coup being sponsored in Venezuela a defense of democracy reveals the Doublethink underlying U.S. foreign policy. It defines "democracy" to mean supporting U.S. foreign policy, pursuing neoliberal privatization of public infrastructure, dismantling government regulation and following the direction of U.S.-dominated global institutions, from the IMF and World Bank to NATO. For decades, the resulting foreign wars, domestic austerity programs and military interventions have brought more violence, not democracy.

In the Devil's Dictionary that U.S. diplomats are taught to use as their "Elements of Style" guidelines for Doublethink, a "democratic" country is one that follows U.S. leadership and opens its economy to U.S. investment, and IMF- and World Bank-sponsored privatization. The Ukraine is deemed democratic, along with Saudi Arabia, Israel and other countries that act as U.S. financial and military protectorates and are willing to treat America's enemies are theirs too.

A point had to come where this policy collided with the self-interest of other nations, finally breaking through the public relations rhetoric of empire. Other countries are proceeding to de-dollarize and replace what U.S. diplomacy calls "internationalism" (meaning U.S. nationalism imposed on the rest of the world) with their own national self-interest.

This trajectory could be seen 50 years ago (I described it in Super Imperialism [1972] and Global Fracture [1978].) It had to happen. But nobody thought that the end would come in quite the way that is happening. History has turned into comedy, or at least irony as its dialectical path unfolds.

For the past half-century, U.S. strategists, the State Department and National Endowment for Democracy (NED) worried that opposition to U.S. financial imperialism would come from left-wing parties. It therefore spent enormous resources manipulating parties that called themselves socialist (Tony Blair's British Labour Party, France's Socialist Party, Germany's Social Democrats, etc.) to adopt neoliberal policies that were the diametric opposite to what social democracy meant a century ago. But U.S. political planners and Great Wurlitzer organists neglected the right wing, imagining that it would instinctively support U.S. thuggishness.

The reality is that right-wing parties want to get elected, and a populist nationalism is today's road to election victory in Europe and other countries just as it was for Donald Trump in 2016.

Trump's agenda may really be to break up the American Empire, using the old Uncle Sucker isolationist rhetoric of half a century ago. He certainly is going for the Empire's most vital organs. But it he a witting anti-American agent? He might as well be – but it would be a false mental leap to use "quo bono" to assume that he is a witting agent.

After all, if no U.S. contractor, supplier, labor union or bank will deal with him, would Vladimir Putin, China or Iran be any more naïve? Perhaps the problem had to erupt as a result of the inner dynamics of U.S.-sponsored globalism becoming impossible to impose when the result is financial austerity, waves of population flight from U.S.-sponsored wars, and most of all, U.S. refusal to adhere to the rules and international laws that it itself sponsored seventy years ago in the wake of World War II.

Dismantling International Law and Its Courts

Any international system of control requires the rule of law. It may be a morally lawless exercise of ruthless power imposing predatory exploitation, but it is still The Law. And it needs courts to apply it (backed by police power to enforce it and punish violators).

Here's the first legal contradiction in U.S. global diplomacy: The United States always has resisted letting any other country have any voice in U.S. domestic policies, law-making or diplomacy. That is what makes America "the exceptional nation." But for seventy years its diplomats have pretended that its superior judgment promoted a peaceful world (as the Roman Empire claimed to be), which let other countries share in prosperity and rising living standards.

At the United Nations, U.S. diplomats insisted on veto power. At the World Bank and IMF they also made sure that their equity share was large enough to give them veto power over any loan or other policy. Without such power, the United States would not join any international organization. Yet at the same time, it depicted its nationalism as protecting globalization and internationalism. It was all a euphemism for what really was unilateral U.S. decision-making.

Inevitably, U.S. nationalism had to break up the mirage of One World internationalism, and with it any thought of an international court. Without veto power over the judges, the U.S. never accepted the authority of any court, in particular the United Nations' International Court in The Hague. Recently that court undertook an investigation into U.S. war crimes in Afghanistan, from its torture policies to bombing of civilian targets such as hospitals, weddings and infrastructure. "That investigation ultimately found 'a reasonable basis to believe that war crimes and crimes against humanity." [1]

Donald Trump's National Security Adviser John Bolton erupted in fury, warning in September that: "The United States will use any means necessary to protect our citizens and those of our allies from unjust prosecution by this illegitimate court," adding that the UN International Court must not be so bold as to investigate "Israel or other U.S. allies."

That prompted a senior judge, Christoph Flügge from Germany, to resign in protest. Indeed, Bolton told the court to keep out of any affairs involving the United States, promising to ban the Court's "judges and prosecutors from entering the United States." As Bolton spelled out the U.S. threat: "We will sanction their funds in the U.S. financial system, and we will prosecute them in the U.S. criminal system. We will not cooperate with the ICC. We will provide no assistance to the ICC. We will not join the ICC. We will let the ICC die on its own. After all, for all intents and purposes, the ICC is already dead to us."

What this meant, the German judge spelled out was that: "If these judges ever interfere in the domestic concerns of the U.S. or investigate an American citizen, [Bolton] said the American government would do all it could to ensure that these judges would no longer be allowed to travel to the United States – and that they would perhaps even be criminally prosecuted."

The original inspiration of the Court – to use the Nuremburg laws that were applied against German Nazis to bring similar prosecution against any country or officials found guilty of committing war crimes – had already fallen into disuse with the failure to indict the authors of the Chilean coup, Iran-Contra or the U.S. invasion of Iraq for war crimes.

Dismantling Dollar Hegemony from the IMF to SWIFT

Of all areas of global power politics today, international finance and foreign investment have become the key flashpoint. International monetary reserves were supposed to be the most sacrosanct, and international debt enforcement closely associated.

Central banks have long held their gold and other monetary reserves in the United States and London. Back in 1945 this seemed reasonable, because the New York Federal Reserve Bank (in whose basement foreign central bank gold was kept) was militarily safe, and because the London Gold Pool was the vehicle by which the U.S. Treasury kept the dollar "as good as gold" at $35 an ounce. Foreign reserves over and above gold were kept in the form of U.S. Treasury securities, to be bought and sold on the New York and London foreign-exchange markets to stabilize exchange rates. Most foreign loans to governments were denominated in U.S. dollars, so Wall Street banks were normally name as paying agents.

That was the case with Iran under the Shah, whom the United States had installed after sponsoring the 1953 coup against Mohammed Mosaddegh when he sought to nationalize Anglo-Iranian Oil (now British Petroleum) or at least tax it. After the Shah was overthrown, the Khomeini regime asked its paying agent, the Chase Manhattan bank, to use its deposits to pay its bondholders. At the direction of the U.S. Government Chase refused to do so. U.S. courts then declared Iran to be in default, and froze all its assets in the United States and anywhere else they were able.

This showed that international finance was an arm of the U.S. State Department and Pentagon. But that was a generation ago, and only recently did foreign countries begin to feel queasy about leaving their gold holdings in the United States, where they might be grabbed at will to punish any country that might act in ways that U.S. diplomacy found offensive. So last year, Germany finally got up the courage to ask that some of its gold be flown back to Germany. U.S. officials pretended to feel shocked at the insult that it might do to a civilized Christian country what it had done to Iran, and Germany agreed to slow down the transfer.

But then came Venezuela. Desperate to spend its gold reserves to provide imports for its economy devastated by U.S. sanctions – a crisis that U.S. diplomats blame on "socialism," not on U.S. political attempts to "make the economy scream" (as Nixon officials said of Chile under Salvador Allende) – Venezuela directed the Bank of England to transfer some of its $11 billion in gold held in its vaults and those of other central banks in December 2018. This was just like a bank depositor would expect a bank to pay a check that the depositor had written.

England refused to honor the official request, following the direction of Bolton and U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo. As Bloomberg reported: "The U.S. officials are trying to steer Venezuela's overseas assets to [Chicago Boy Juan] Guaido to help bolster his chances of effectively taking control of the government. The $1.2 billion of gold is a big chunk of the $8 billion in foreign reserves held by the Venezuelan central bank."

Turkey seemed to be a likely destination, prompting Bolton and Pompeo to warn it to desist from helping Venezuela, threatening sanctions against it or any other country helping Venezuela cope with its economic crisis. As for the Bank of England and other European countries, the Bloomberg report concluded: "Central bank officials in Caracas have been ordered to no longer try contacting the Bank of England. These central bankers have been told that Bank of England staffers will not respond to them."

This led to rumors that Venezuela was selling 20 tons of gold via a Russian Boeing 777 – some $840 million. The money probably would have ended up paying Russian and Chinese bondholders as well as buying food to relieve the local famine. [4] Russia denied this report, but Reuters has confirmed is that Venezuela has sold 3 tons of a planned 29 tones of gold to the United Arab Emirates, with another 15 tones are to be shipped on Friday, February 1. [5] The U.S. Senate's Batista-Cuban hardliner Rubio accused this of being "theft," as if feeding the people to alleviate the U.S.-sponsored crisis was a crime against U.S. diplomatic leverage.

If there is any country that U.S. diplomats hate more than a recalcitrant Latin American country, it is Iran. President Trump's breaking of the 2015 nuclear agreements negotiated by European and Obama Administration diplomats has escalated to the point of threatening Germany and other European countries with punitive sanctions if they do not also break the agreements they have signed. Coming on top of U.S. opposition to German and other European importing of Russian gas, the U.S. threat finally prompted Europe to find a way to defend itself.

Imperial threats are no longer military. No country (including Russia or China) can mount a military invasion of another major country. Since the Vietnam Era, the only kind of war a democratically elected country can wage is atomic, or at least heavy bombing such as the United States has inflicted on Iraq, Libya and Syria. But now, cyber warfare has become a way of pulling out the connections of any economy. And the major cyber connections are financial money-transfer ones, headed by SWIFT, the acronym for the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, which is centered in Belgium.

Russia and China have already moved to create a shadow bank-transfer system in case the United States unplugs them from SWIFT. But now, European countries have come to realize that threats by Bolton and Pompeo may lead to heavy fines and asset grabs if they seek to continue trading with Iran as called for in the treaties they have negotiated.

On January 31 the dam broke with the announcement that Europe had created its own bypass payments system for use with Iran and other countries targeted by U.S. diplomats. Germany, France and even the U.S. poodle Britain joined to create INSTEX -- Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges. The promise is that this will be used only for "humanitarian" aid to save Iran from a U.S.-sponsored Venezuela-type devastation. But in view of increasingly passionate U.S. opposition to the Nord Stream pipeline to carry Russian gas, this alternative bank clearing system will be ready and able to become operative if the United States tries to direct a sanctions attack on Europe.

I have just returned from Germany and seen a remarkable split between that nation's industrialists and their political leadership. For years, major companies have seen Russia as a natural market, a complementary economy needing to modernize its manufacturing and able to supply Europe with natural gas and other raw materials. America's New Cold War stance is trying to block this commercial complementarity. Warning Europe against "dependence" on low-price Russian gas, it has offered to sell high-priced LNG from the United States (via port facilities that do not yet exist in anywhere near the volume required). President Trump also is insisting that NATO members spend a full 2 percent of their GDP on arms – preferably bought from the United States, not from German or French merchants of death.

The U.S. overplaying its position is leading to the Mackinder-Kissinger-Brzezinski Eurasian nightmare that I mentioned above. In addition to driving Russia and China together, U.S. diplomacy is adding Europe to the heartland, independent of U.S. ability to bully into the state of dependency toward which American diplomacy has aimed to achieve since 1945.

The World Bank, for instance, traditionally has been headed by a U.S. Secretary of Defense. Its steady policy since its inception is to provide loans for countries to devote their land to export crops instead of giving priority to feeding themselves. That is why its loans are only in foreign currency, not in the domestic currency needed to provide price supports and agricultural extension services such as have made U.S. agriculture so productive. By following U.S. advice, countries have left themselves open to food blackmail – sanctions against providing them with grain and other food, in case they step out of line with U.S. diplomatic demands.

It is worthwhile to note that our global imposition of the mythical "efficiencies" of forcing Latin American countries to become plantations for export crops like coffee and bananas rather than growing their own wheat and corn has failed catastrophically to deliver better lives, especially for those living in Central America. The "spread" between the export crops and cheaper food imports from the U.S. that was supposed to materialize for countries following our playbook failed miserably – witness the caravans and refugees across Mexico. Of course, our backing of the most brutal military dictators and crime lords has not helped either.

Likewise, the IMF has been forced to admit that its basic guidelines were fictitious from the beginning. A central core has been to enforce payment of official inter-government debt by withholding IMF credit from countries under default. This rule was instituted at a time when most official inter-government debt was owed to the United States. But a few years ago Ukraine defaulted on $3 billion owed to Russia. The IMF said, in effect, that Ukraine and other countries did not have to pay Russia or any other country deemed to be acting too independently of the United States. The IMF has been extending credit to the bottomless it of Ukrainian corruption to encourage its anti-Russian policy rather than standing up for the principle that inter-government debts must be paid.

It is as if the IMF now operates out of a small room in the basement of the Pentagon in Washington. Europe has taken notice that its own international monetary trade and financial linkages are in danger of attracting U.S. anger. This became clear last autumn at the funeral for George H. W. Bush, when the EU's diplomat found himself downgraded to the end of the list to be called to his seat. He was told that the U.S. no longer considers the EU an entity in good standing. In December, "Mike Pompeo gave a speech on Europe in Brussels -- his first, and eagerly awaited -- in which he extolled the virtues of nationalism, criticised multilateralism and the EU, and said that "international bodies" which constrain national sovereignty "must be reformed or eliminated." [5]

Most of the above events have made the news in just one day, January 31, 2019. The conjunction of U.S. moves on so many fronts, against Venezuela, Iran and Europe (not to mention China and the trade threats and moves against Huawei also erupting today) looks like this will be a year of global fracture.

It is not all President Trump's doing, of course. We see the Democratic Party showing the same colors. Instead of applauding democracy when foreign countries do not elect a leader approved by U.S. diplomats (whether it is Allende or Maduro), they've let the mask fall and shown themselves to be the leading New Cold War imperialists. It's now out in the open. They would make Venezuela the new Pinochet-era Chile. Trump is not alone in supporting Saudi Arabia and its Wahabi terrorists acting, as Lyndon Johnson put it, "Bastards, but they're our bastards."

Where is the left in all this? That is the question with which I opened this article. How remarkable it is that it is only right-wing parties, Alternative for Deutschland (AFD), or Marine le Pen's French nationalists and those of other countries that are opposing NATO militarization and seeking to revive trade and economic links with the rest of Eurasia.

The end of our monetary imperialism, about which I first wrote in 1972 in Super Imperialism, stuns even an informed observer like me. It took a colossal level of arrogance, short-sightedness and lawlessness to hasten its decline -- something that only crazed Neocons like John Bolton, Elliot Abrams and Mike Pompeo could deliver for Donald Trump.

Footnotes

[1] "It Can't be Fixed: Senior ICC Judge Quits in Protest of US, Turkish Meddling," January 31, 2019.

[2] Patricia Laya, Ethan Bronner and Tim Ross, "Maduro Stymied in Bid to Pull $1.2 Billion of Gold From U.K.," Bloomberg, January 25, 2019. Anticipating just such a double-cross, President Chavez acted already in 2011 to repatriate 160 tons of gold to Caracas from the United States and Europe.

[3] ibid

[4] Corina Pons, Mayela Armas, "Exclusive: Venezuela plans to fly central bank gold reserves to UAE – source," Reuters, January 31, 2019.

[5] Constanze Stelzenmüller, "America's policy on Europe takes a nationalist turn," Financial Times, January 31, 2019.

By Michael Hudson, a research professor of Economics at University of Missouri, Kansas City, and a research associate at the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College. His latest book is "and forgive them their debts": Lending, Foreclosure and Redemption from Bronze Age Finance to the Jubilee Year< Jointly posted with Hudson's website


doug , February 1, 2019 at 8:03 am

We see the Democratic Party showing the same colors. Yes we do. no escape? that I see

drumlin woodchuckles , February 1, 2019 at 9:43 am

Well, if the StormTrumpers can tear down all the levers and institutions of international US dollar strength, perhaps they can also tear down all the institutions of Corporate Globalonial Forced Free Trade. That itself may BE our escape . . . if there are enough millions of Americans who have turned their regionalocal zones of habitation into economically and politically armor-plated Transition Towns, Power-Down Zones, etc. People and places like that may be able to crawl up out of the rubble and grow and defend little zones of semi-subsistence survival-economics.

If enough millions of Americans have created enough such zones, they might be able to link up with eachother to offer hope of a movement to make America in general a semi-autarchik, semi-secluded and isolated National Survival Economy . . . . much smaller than today, perhaps likelier to survive the various coming ecosystemic crash-cramdowns, and no longer interested in leading or dominating a world that we would no longer have the power to lead or dominate.

We could put an end to American Exceptionalism. We could lay this burden down. We could become American Okayness Ordinarians. Make America an okay place for ordinary Americans to live in.

drumlin woodchuckles , February 1, 2019 at 2:27 pm

I read somewhere that the Czarist Imperial Army had a saying . . . "Quantity has a Quality all its own".

... ... ...

Cal2 , February 1, 2019 at 2:54 pm

Drumlin,

If Populists, I assume that's what you mean by "Storm Troopers", offer me M4A and revitalized local economies, and deliver them, they have my support and more power to them.

That's why Trump was elected, his promises, not yet delivered, were closer to that then the Democrats' promises. If the Democrats promised those things and delivered, then they would have my support.

If the Democrats run a candidate, who has a no track record of delivering such things, we stay home on election day. Trump can have it, because it won't be any worse.

I don't give a damn about "social issues." Economics, health care and avoiding WWIII are what motivates my votes, and I think more and more people are going to vote the same way.

drumlin woodchuckles , February 1, 2019 at 8:56 pm

Good point about Populist versus StormTrumper. ( And by the way, I said StormTRUMper, not StormTROOper). I wasn't thinking of the Populists. I was thinking of the neo-etc. vandals and arsonists who want us to invade Venezuela, leave the JCPOA with Iran, etc. Those are the people who will finally drive the other-country governments into creating their own parallel payment systems, etc.

And the midpoint of those efforts will leave wreckage and rubble for us to crawl up out of. But we will have a chance to crawl up out of it.

My reason for voting for Trump was mainly to stop the Evil Clinton from getting elected and to reduce the chance of near immediate thermonuclear war with Russia and to save the Assad regime in Syria from Clintonian overthrow and replacement with an Islamic Emirate of Jihadistan.

Much of what will be attempted " in Trump's name" will be de-regulationism of all kinds delivered by the sorts of basic Republicans selected for the various agencies and departments by Pence and Moore and the Koch Brothers. I doubt the Populist Voters wanted the Koch-Pence agenda. But that was a risky tradeoff in return for keeping Clinton out of office.

The only Dems who would seek what you want are Sanders or maybe Gabbard or just barely Warren. The others would all be Clinton or Obama all over again.

Quanka , February 1, 2019 at 8:29 am

I couldn't really find any details about the new INSTEX system – have you got any good links to brush up on? I know they made an announcement yesterday but how long until the new payment system is operational?

The Rev Kev , February 1, 2019 at 8:43 am

Here is a bit more info on it but Trump is already threatening Europe if they use it. That should cause them to respect him more:

https://www.dw.com/en/instex-europe-sets-up-transactions-channel-with-iran/a-47303580

LP , February 1, 2019 at 9:14 am

The NYT and other have coverage.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.nytimes.com/2019/01/31/world/europe/europe-trade-iran-nuclear-deal.amp.html

Louis Fyne , February 1, 2019 at 8:37 am

arguably wouldn't it be better if for USD hegemony to be dismantled? A strong USD hurts US exports, subsidizes American consumption (by making commodities cheaper in relative terms), makes international trade (aka a 8,000-mile+ supply chain) easier.

For the sake of the environment, you want less of all three. Though obviously I don't like the idea of expensive gasoline, natural gas or tube socks either.

Mel , February 1, 2019 at 9:18 am

It would be good for Americans, but the wrong kind of Americans. For the Americans that would populate the Global Executive Suite, a strong US$ means that the stipends they would pay would be worth more to the lackeys, and command more influence.

Dumping the industrial base really ruined things. America is now in a position where it can shout orders, and drop bombs, but doesn't have the capacity to do anything helpful. They have to give up being what Toynbee called a creative minority, and settle for being a dominant minority.

integer , February 1, 2019 at 8:43 am

Having watched the 2016 election closely from afar, I was left with the impression that many of the swing voters who cast their vote for Trump did so under the assumption that he would act as a catalyst for systemic change.

What this change would consist of, and how it would manifest, remained an open question. Would he pursue rapprochement with Russia and pull troops out of the Middle East as he claimed to want to do during his 2016 campaign, would he doggedly pursue corruption charges against Clinton and attempt to reform the FBI and CIA, or would he do both, neither, or something else entirely?

Now we know. He has ripped the already transparent mask of altruism off what is referred to as the U.S.-led liberal international order and revealed its true nature for all to see, and has managed to do it in spite of the liberal international establishment desperately trying to hold it in place in the hope of effecting a seamless post-Trump return to what they refer to as "norms". Interesting times.

James , February 1, 2019 at 10:34 am

Exactly. He hasn't exactly lived up to advanced billing so far in all respects, but I suspect there's great deal of skulduggery going on behind the scenes that has prevented that. Whether or not he ever had or has a coherent plan for the havoc he has wrought, he has certainly been the agent for change many of us hoped he would be, in stark contrast to the criminal duopoly parties who continue to oppose him, where the daily no news is always bad news all the same. To paraphrase the infamous Rummy, you don't go to war with the change agent and policies you wished you had, you go to war with the ones you have. That might be the best thing we can say about Trump after the historic dust of his administration finally settles.

drumlin woodchuckles , February 1, 2019 at 2:39 pm

Look on some bright sides. Here is just one bright side to look on. President Trump has delayed and denied the Clinton Plan to topple Assad just long enough that Russia has been able to help Assad preserve legitimate government in most of Syria and defeat the Clinton's-choice jihadis.

That is a positive good. Unless you are pro-jihadi.

integer , February 1, 2019 at 8:09 pm

Clinton wasn't going to "benefit the greater good" either, and a very strong argument, based on her past behavior, can be made that she represented the greater threat. Given that the choice was between her and Trump, I think voters made the right decision.

Stephen Gardner , February 1, 2019 at 9:02 am

Excellent article but I believe the expression is "cui bono": who benefits.

hemeantwell , February 1, 2019 at 9:09 am

Hudson's done us a service in pulling these threads together. I'd missed the threats against the ICC judges. One question: is it possible for INSTEX-like arrangements to function secretly? What is to be gained by announcing them publicly and drawing the expected attacks? Does that help sharpen conflicts, and to what end?

Oregoncharles , February 1, 2019 at 3:23 pm

Maybe they're done in secret already – who knows? The point of doing it publicly is to make a foreign-policy impact, in this case withdrawing power from the US. It's a Declaration of Independence.

whine country , February 1, 2019 at 9:15 am

It certainly seems as though the 90 percent (plus) are an afterthought in this journey to who knows where? Like George C.Scott said while playing Patton, "The whole world at economic war and I'm not part of it. God will not let this happen." Looks like we're on the Brexit track (without the vote). The elite argue with themselves and we just sit and watch. It appears to me that the elite just do not have the ability to contemplate things beyond their own narrow self interest. We are all deplorables now.

a different chris , February 1, 2019 at 9:30 am

Unfortunately this

The end of America's unchallenged global economic dominance has arrived sooner than expected

Is not supported by this (or really the rest of the article). The past tense here, for example, is unwarranted:

At the United Nations, U.S. diplomats insisted on veto power. At the World Bank and IMF they also made sure that their equity share was large enough to give them veto power over any loan or other policy.

And this

So last year, Germany finally got up the courage to ask that some of its gold be flown back to Germany. Germany agreed to slow down the transfer.

Doesn't show Germany as breaking free at all, and worse it is followed by the pregnant

But then came Venezuela.

Yet we find out that Venezuela didn't managed to do what they wanted to do, the Europeans, the Turks, etc bent over yet again. Nothing to see here, actually.

So what I'm saying is he didn't make his point. I wish it were true. But a bit of grumbling and (a tiny amount of) foot-dragging by some pygmy leaders (Merkel) does not signal a global change.

orange cats , February 1, 2019 at 11:22 am

"So what I'm saying is he didn't make his point. I wish it were true. But a bit of grumbling and (a tiny amount of) foot-dragging by some pygmy leaders (Merkel) does not signal a global change."

I'm surprised more people aren't recognizing this. I read the article waiting in vain for some evidence of "the end of our monetary imperialism" besides some 'grumbling and foot dragging' as you aptly put it. There was some glimmer of a buried lede with INTEX, created to get around U.S. sanctions against Iran ─ hardly a 'dam-breaking'. Washington is on record as being annoyed.

OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL , February 1, 2019 at 1:41 pm

Currency regime change can take decades, and small percentage differences are enormous because of the flows involved. USD as reserve for 61% of global sovereigns versus 64% 15 years ago is a massive move. World bond market flows are 10X the size of world stock market flows even though the price of the Dow and Facebook shares etc get all of the headlines.

And foreign exchange flows are 10-50X the flows of bond markets, they're currently on the order of $5 *trillion* per day. And since forex is almost completely unregulated it's quite difficult to get the data and spot reserve currency trends. Oh, and buy gold. It's the only currency that requires no counterparty and is no one's debt obligation.

orange cats , February 1, 2019 at 3:47 pm

That's not what Hudson claims in his swaggering final sentence:

"The end of our monetary imperialism, about which I first wrote in 1972 in Super Imperialism, stuns even an informed observer like me."

Which is risible as not only did he fail to show anything of the kind, his opening sentence stated a completely different reality: "The end of America's unchallenged global economic dominance has arrived sooner than expected" So if we hold him to his first declaration, his evidence is feeble, as I mentioned. As a scholar, his hyperbole is untrustworthy.

No, gold is pretty enough lying on the bosom of a lady-friend but that's about its only usefulness in the real world.

skippy , February 1, 2019 at 8:09 pm

Always bemusing that gold bugs never talk about gold being in a bubble . yet when it goes south of its purchase price speak in tongues about ev'bal forces.

timbers , February 1, 2019 at 12:26 pm

I don't agree, and do agree. The distinction is this:

If you fix a few of Hudson's errors, and take him as making the point that USD is losing it's hegemony, IMO he is basically correct.

Brian (another one they call) , February 1, 2019 at 9:56 am

thanks Mr. Hudson. One has to wonder what has happened when the government (for decades) has been shown to be morally and otherwise corrupt and self serving. It doesn't seem to bother anyone but the people, and precious few of them. Was it our financial and legal bankruptcy that sent us over the cliff?

Steven , February 1, 2019 at 10:23 am

Great stuff!

Indeed! It is to say the least encouraging to see Dr. Hudson return so forcefully to the theme of 'monetary imperialism'. I discovered his Super Imperialism while looking for an explanation for the pending 2003 US invasion of Iraq. If you haven't read it yet, move it to the top of your queue if you want to have any idea of how the world really works. You can find any number of articles on his web site that return periodically to the theme of monetary imperialism. I remember one in particular that described how the rest of the world was brought on board to help pay for its good old-fashioned military imperialism.

If it isn't clear to the rest of the world by now, it never will be. The US is incapable of changing on its own a corrupt status quo dominated by a coalition of its military industrial complex, Wall Street bankers and fossil fuels industries. As long as the world continues to chase the debt created on the keyboards of Wall Street banks and 'deficits don't matter' Washington neocons – as long as the world's 1% think they are getting 'richer' by adding more "debts that can't be repaid (and) won't be" to their portfolios, the global economy can never be put on a sustainable footing.

Until the US returns to the path of genuine wealth creation, it is past time for the rest of the world to go its own way with its banking and financial institutions.

Oh , February 1, 2019 at 3:52 pm

The use of the stick will only go so far. What's the USG going to do if they refuse?

Summer , February 1, 2019 at 10:46 am

In other words, after 2 World Wars that produced the current world order, it is still in a state of insanity with the same pretensions to superiority by the same people, to get number 3.

Yikes , February 1, 2019 at 12:07 pm

UK withholding Gold may start another Brexit? IE: funds/gold held by BOE for other countries in Africa, Asian, South America, and the "stans" with start to depart, slowly at first, perhaps for Switzerland?

Ian Perkins , February 1, 2019 at 12:21 pm

Where is the left in all this? Pretty much the same place as Michael Hudson, I'd say. Where is the US Democratic Party in all this? Quite a different question, and quite a different answer. So far as I can see, the Democrats for years have bombed, invaded and plundered other countries 'for their own good'. Republicans do it 'for the good of America', by which the ignoramuses mean the USA. If you're on the receiving end, it doesn't make much difference.

Michael A Gualario , February 1, 2019 at 12:49 pm

Agreed! South America intervention and regime change, Syria ( Trump is pulling out), Iraq, Middle East meddling, all predate Trump. Bush, Clinton and Obama have nothing to do with any of this.

Oregoncharles , February 1, 2019 at 2:12 pm

" So last year, Germany finally got up the courage to ask that some of its gold be flown back to Germany. "

What proof is there that the gold is still there? Chances are it's notional. All Germany, Venezuela, or the others have is an IOU – and gold cannot be printed. Incidentally, this whole discussion means that gold is still money and the gold standard still exists.

Oregoncharles , February 1, 2019 at 3:41 pm

Wukchumni beat me to the suspicion that the gold isn't there.

The Rev Kev , February 1, 2019 at 7:40 pm

What makes you think that the gold in Fort Knox is still there? If I remember right, there was a Potemkin visit back in the 70s to assure everyone that the gold was still there but not since then. Wait, I tell a lie. There was another visit about two years ago but look who was involved in that visit-

https://www.whas11.com/article/news/local/after-40-years-fort-knox-opens-vault-to-civilians/466441331

And I should mention that it was in the 90s that between 1.3 and 1.5 million 400 oz tungsten blanks were manufactured in the US under Clinton. Since then gold-coated tungsten bars have turned up in places like Germany, China, Ethiopia, the UK, etc so who is to say if those gold bars in Fort Knox are gold all the way through either. More on this at -- http://viewzone2.com/fakegoldx.html

Summer , February 1, 2019 at 5:44 pm

A non-accountable standard. It's more obvious BS than what is going on now.

jochen , February 2, 2019 at 6:46 am

It wasn't last year that Germany brought back its Gold. It has been ongoing since 2013, after some political and popular pressure build up. They finished the transaction in 2017. According to an article in Handelblatt (but it was widely reported back then) they brought back pretty much everything they had in Paris (347t), left what they had in London (perhaps they should have done it in reverse) and took home another 300t from the NY Fed. That still leaves 1236t in NY. But half of their Gold (1710t) is now in Frankfurt. That is 50% of the Bundesbanks holdings.

They made a point in saying that every bar was checked and weighed and presented some bars in Frankfurt. I guess they didn't melt them for assaying, but I'd expect them to be smart enough to check the density.

Their reason to keep Gold in NY and London is to quickly buy USD in case of a crisis. That's pretty much a cold war plan, but that's what they do right now.

Regarding Michal Hudsons piece, I enjoyed reading through this one. He tends to write ridiculously long articles and in the last few years with less time and motivation at hand I've skipped most of his texts on NC as they just drag on.

When I'm truly fascinated I like well written, long articles but somehow he lost me at some point. But I noticed that some long original articles in US magazines, probably research for a long time by the journalist, can just drag on for ever as well I just tune out.

Susan the Other , February 1, 2019 at 2:19 pm

This is making sense. I would guess that tearing up the old system is totally deliberate. It wasn't working so well for us because we had to practice too much social austerity, which we have tried to impose on the EU as well, just to stabilize "king dollar" – otherwise spread so thin it was a pending catastrophe.

Now we can get out from under being the reserve currency – the currency that maintains its value by financial manipulation and military bullying domestic deprivation. To replace this old power trip we are now going to mainline oil. The dollar will become a true petro dollar because we are going to commandeer every oil resource not already nailed down.

When we partnered with SA in Aramco and the then petro dollar the dollar was only backed by our military. If we start monopolizing oil, the actual commodity, the dollar will be an apex competitor currency without all the foreign military obligations which will allow greater competitive advantages.

No? I'm looking at PdVSA, PEMEX and the new "Energy Hub for the Eastern Mediterranean" and other places not yet made public. It looks like a power play to me, not a hapless goofball president at all.

skippy , February 2, 2019 at 2:44 am

So sand people with sociological attachment to the OT is a compelling argument based on antiquarian preferences with authoritarian patriarchal tendencies for their non renewable resource . after I might add it was deemed a strategic concern after WWII .

Considering the broader geopolitical realities I would drain all the gold reserves to zero if it was on offer . here natives have some shiny beads for allowing us to resource extract we call this a good trade you maximize your utility as I do mine .

Hay its like not having to run C-corp compounds with western 60s – 70s esthetics and letting the locals play serf, blow back pay back, and now the installed local chiefs can own the risk and refocus the attention away from the real antagonists.

ChrisAtRU , February 1, 2019 at 6:02 pm

Indeed. Thanks so much for this. Maybe the RICS will get serious now – can no longer include Brazil with Bolsonaro. There needs to be an alternate system or systems in place, and to see US Imperialism so so blatantly and bluntly by Trump admin – "US gives Juan Guaido control over some Venezuelan assets" – should sound sirens on every continent and especially in the developing world. I too hope there will be fracture to the point of breakage. Countries of the world outside the US/EU/UK/Canada/Australia confraternity must now unite to provide a permanent framework outside the control of imperial interests. The be clear, this must not default to alternative forms of imperialism germinating by the likes of China.

mikef , February 1, 2019 at 6:07 pm

" such criticism can't begin to take in the full scope of the damage the Trump White House is inflicting on the system of global power Washington built and carefully maintained over those 70 years. Indeed, American leaders have been on top of the world for so long that they no longer remember how they got there.

Few among Washington's foreign policy elite seem to fully grasp the complex system that made U.S. global power what it now is, particularly its all-important geopolitical foundations. As Trump travels the globe, tweeting and trashing away, he's inadvertently showing us the essential structure of that power, the same way a devastating wildfire leaves the steel beams of a ruined building standing starkly above the smoking rubble."

http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/176373/tomgram%3A_alfred_mccoy%2C_tweeting_while_rome_burns

Rajesh K , February 1, 2019 at 7:23 pm

I read something like this and I am like, some of these statements need to be qualified. Like: "Driving China and Russia together". Like where's the proof? Is Xi playing telephone games more often now with Putin? I look at those two and all I see are two egocentric people who might sometimes say the right things but in general do not like the share the spotlight. Let's say they get together to face America and for some reason the later gets "defeated", it's not as if they'll kumbaya together into the night.

This website often points out the difficulties in implementing new banking IT initiatives. Ok, so Europe has a new "payment system". Has it been tested thoroughly? I would expect a couple of weeks or even months of chaos if it's not been tested, and if it's thorough that probably just means that it's in use right i.e. all the kinks have been worked out. In that case the transition is already happening anyway. But then the next crisis arrives and then everyone would need their dollar swap lines again which probably needs to cleared through SWIFT or something.

Anyway, does this all mean that one day we'll wake up and a slice of bacon is 50 bucks as opposed to the usual 1 dollar?

Keith Newman , February 2, 2019 at 1:12 am

Driving Russia and China together is correct. I recall them signing a variety of economic and military agreement a few years ago. It was covered in the media. You should at least google an issue before making silly comments. You might start with the report of Russia and China signing 30 cooperation agreements three years ago. See https://www.rbth.com/international/2016/06/27/russia-china-sign-30-cooperation-agreements_606505 . There are lots and lots of others.

RBHoughton , February 1, 2019 at 9:16 pm

He's draining the swamp in an unpredicted way, a swamp that's founded on the money interest. I don't care what NYT and WaPo have to say, they are not reporting events but promoting agendas.

skippy , February 2, 2019 at 1:11 am

The financial elites are only concerned about shaping society as they see fit, side of self serving is just a historical foot note, Trumps past indicates a strong preference for even more of the same through authoritarian memes or have some missed the OT WH reference to dawg both choosing and then compelling him to run.

Whilst the far right factions fight over the rudder the only new game in town is AOC, Sanders, Warren, et al which Trumps supporters hate with Ideological purity.

/lasse , February 2, 2019 at 7:50 am

Highly doubt Trump is a "witting agent", most likely is that he is just as ignorant as he almost daily shows on twitter. On US role in global affairs he says the same today as he did as a media celebrity in the late 80s. Simplistic household "logics" on macroeconomics. If US have trade deficit it loses. Countries with surplus are the winners.

On a household level it fits, but there no "loser" household that in infinity can print money that the "winners" can accumulate in exchange for their resources and fruits of labor.

One wonder what are Trumps idea of US being a winner in trade (surplus)? I.e. sending away their resources and fruits of labor overseas in exchange for what? A pile of USD? That US in the first place created out of thin air. Or Chinese Yuan, Euros, Turkish liras? Also fiat-money. Or does he think US trade surplus should be paid in gold?

When the US political and economic hegemony will unravel it will come "unexpected". Trump for sure are undermining it with his megalomaniac ignorance. But not sure it's imminent.

Anyhow frightening, the US hegemony have its severe dark sides. But there is absolutely nothing better on the horizon, a crash will throw the world in turmoil for decades or even a century. A lot of bad forces will see their chance to elevate their influence. There will be fierce competition to fill the gap.

On could the insane economic model of EU/Germany being on top of global affairs, a horribly frightening thought. Misery and austerity for all globally, a permanent recession. Probably not much better with the Chinese on top. I'll take the USD hegemony any day compared to that prospect.

Sound of the Suburbs , February 2, 2019 at 10:26 am

Former US ambassador, Chas Freeman, gets to the nub of the problem. "The US preference for governance by elected and appointed officials, uncontaminated by experience in statecraft and diplomacy, or knowledge of geography, history and foreign affairs" https://www.youtube.com/watch?annotation_id=annotation_882041135&feature=iv&src_vid=Ge1ozuXN7iI&v=gkf2MQdqz-o

Sound of the Suburbs , February 2, 2019 at 10:29 am

When the delusion takes hold, it is the beginning of the end.

The British Empire will last forever
The thousand year Reich
American exceptionalism

As soon as the bankers thought they thought they were "Master of the Universe" you knew 2008 was coming. The delusion had taken hold.

Sound of the Suburbs , February 2, 2019 at 10:45 am

Michael Hudson, in Super Imperialism, went into how the US could just create the money to run a large trade deficit with the rest of the world. It would get all these imports effectively for nothing, the US's exorbitant privilege. I tied this in with this graph from MMT.

This is the US (46.30 mins.) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ba8XdDqZ-Jg

The trade deficit required a large Government deficit to cover it and the US government could just create the money to cover it.

Then ideological neoliberals came in wanting balanced budgets and not realising the Government deficit covered the trade deficit.

The US has been destabilising its own economy by reducing the Government deficit. Bill Clinton didn't realize a Government surplus is an indicator a financial crisis is about to hit. The last US Government surplus occurred in 1927 – 1930, they go hand-in-hand with financial crises.

Richard Koo shows the graph central bankers use and it's the flow of funds within the economy, which sums to zero (32-34 mins.).

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

The Government was running a surplus as the economy blew up in the early 1990s. It's the positive and negative, zero sum, nature of the monetary system. A big trade deficit needs a big Government deficit to cover it. A big trade deficit, with a balanced budget, drives the private sector into debt and blows up the economy.

skippy , February 2, 2019 at 5:28 pm

It should be remembered Bill Clinton's early meeting with Rubin, where in he was informed that wages and productivity had diverged – Rubin did not blink an eye.

[Feb 02, 2019] Brazil, Fascism and the Left Wing of Neoliberalism

Huge external debt plus high unemployment represents two vital preconditions of rise far right nationalism and fascism in all its multiple incarnations. In this sence Ulrain, Argentina and Brasil are different links of the common chain of events.
In a way fascism is a way of reaction of nation deeply in crisis. In essence this is introduction of war time restrictions on political speech and freedoms of the population. The Catch 22 is that often this is done not so much to fight external threat, but top preserve the power of existing financial oligarchy. Which fascist after coming to power quickly include in government and and desire of which are disproportionally obeyed by fascist state.
What in new in XXI century is the huge growth of power on intelligence agencies which is way represent crippling fascism or neofascism. In a way, then intelligence agencies became political kingmakers (as was the case with the assassination of JFK, impeachment of Nixon, elections of Clinton, Bush II, and Obama, as well as establishing Mueller commission after Trump victory), we can speak about sliding the county of the county toward fascism.
Notable quotes:
"... In Italy in the 1920s, repayment of war debts from WWI led to austerity and recession that preceded the rise of fascist leader Benito Mussolini. In Germany, payment of war reparations and repayment of industrial loans limited the ability of the Weimar government to respond to the Great Depression. Liberal governments that facilitated the financialization of industrial economies in the 1920s were left to serve as debt collectors in the capitalist crisis that followed. ..."
"... The practical problem with doing this is the power of creditors. Debtors that repudiate their debts are closed out of capital markets. The power to create money that is accepted in payment is a privilege of the center countries that also happen to be creditors. Capitalist expansion creates interdependencies that produce immediate, deep shortages if debts aren't serviced. Debt is a weapon whose proceeds can be delivered to one group and the obligation to repay it to another. The U.S. position was expressed when the IMF knowingly made unpayable loans to Ukraine to support a U.S. sponsored coup there in 2015 ..."
"... Propaganda was developed and refined by Edward Bernays in the 1910s to help the Wilson administration sell WWI to a skeptical public. It has been used by the American government and in capitalist advertising since that time. The idea was to integrate psychology with words and images to get people to act according to the desires and wishes of those putting it forward. ..."
"... The operational frame of propaganda is instrumental: to use people to achieve ends they had no part in conceiving. The political perspective is dictatorial, benevolent or otherwise. Propaganda has been used by the American government ever since. Similar methods were used by the Italian and German fascists in their to rise to power. ..."
"... Following WWII, the U.S. brought 1,600 Nazi scientists and engineers (and their families) to the U.S. to work for the Department of Defense and American industry through a program called Operation Paperclip . Many were dedicated and enthusiastic Nazis. Some were reported to have been bona fide war criminals. In contrast to liberal / neoliberal assertions that Nazism was irrational politics, the Nazi scientists fit seamlessly into American military production. There was no apparent contradiction between being a Nazi and being a scientist. ..."
"... A dimensional tension of Nazism lay between romantic myths of an ancient and glorious past and the bourgeois task of moving industrialization and modernity forward. The focus of liberal and neoliberal analysis has been on this mythology as an irrational mode of reason. Missing is that Nazism wouldn't have moved past the German borders if it hadn't had bourgeois basis in the science and technology needed for industrial might. This keeps the broad project within the ontological and administrative premises of liberalism. ..."
"... The way to fight fascists is to end the threat of fascism. This means taking on Wall Street and the major institutions of Western capitalism ..."
Feb 02, 2019 | www.counterpunch.org

Missing from explanations of the rise of Mr. Bolsonaro is that for the last decade Brazil has experienced the worst economic recession in the country's history (graph below). Fourteen million formerly employed, working age Brazilians are now unemployed. As was true in the U.S. and peripheral Europe from 2008 forward, the liberal response has been austerity as the Brazilian ruling class was made richer and more politically powerful.

Since 2014, Brazil's public debt/GDP ratio has climbed from 20% to 75% proclaims a worried IMF. That some fair portion of that climb came from falling GDP due to economic austerity mandated by the IMF and Wall Street is left unmentioned. A decade of austerity got liberal President Dilma Rousseff removed from office in 2016 in what can only be called a Wall Street putsch. Perhaps Bolsonaro will tell Wall Street where to stick its loans (not).

Back in the U.S., everyone knows that the liberalization of finance and trade in the 1990s was the result of political calculations. That this liberalization was/is bipartisan suggests that maybe the political calculations served certain economic interests. Never mind that these interests were given what they asked for and crashed the economy with it. If economic problems result from political calculations, the solution is political -- elect better leaders. If they are driven by economic interests, the solution is to change the way that economic relationships are organized.

Between 1928 and 1932 German industrial production fell by 58%. By 1933, six million formerly employed German workers were begging in the streets and digging through garbage looking for items to sell. The liberal (Socialist Party) response was half-measures and austerity. Within the liberal frame, the Depression was a political problem to be addressed in the realm of the political. Centrist accommodation defined the existing realm. Adolf Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany in 1933, the pit of the Great Depression.

In Brazil in the early-mid 2000s, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, better known as Lula, implemented a Left program that pulled twenty million Brazilians out of poverty. The Brazilian economy briefly recovered after Wall Street crashed it in 2008 before Brazilian public debt was used to force the implementation of austerity. Dilma Rousseff capitulated and Brazil re-entered recession. Rousseff was removed from power in 2016. Hemmed in by Wall Street and IMF mandated austerity , any liberal government that might be elected would meet the same fate as Rousseff.

In Italy in the 1920s, repayment of war debts from WWI led to austerity and recession that preceded the rise of fascist leader Benito Mussolini. In Germany, payment of war reparations and repayment of industrial loans limited the ability of the Weimar government to respond to the Great Depression. Liberal governments that facilitated the financialization of industrial economies in the 1920s were left to serve as debt collectors in the capitalist crisis that followed.

Since 2008, the fiscal structure of the EU (European Union) combined with wildly unbalanced trade relationships led to a decade of austerity, recession and depression for the European periphery. In the U.S., by 2009 Wall Street was pushing austerity and cuts to Social Security and Medicare as necessary to fiscal stability. The consequences of four decades of financialized neoliberal trade policies were by no means equally shared. Internal and external class relations were made evident through narrowly distributed booms followed by widely distributed busts.

With the presumed shared goal of ending the threat of fascism:

The ideological premises behind the logic that claims fascists as the explanation of fascism emerge from liberalism. The term here is meant as description. Liberalism proceeds from specific ontological assumptions. Within this temporal frame, a bit of social logic: If fascists already existed, why didn't fascism? The question of whether to fight fascists or fascism depends on the answer. The essentialist view is that characteristics intrinsic to fascists make them fascists. This is the basis of scientific racism. And it underlies fascist race theory.

The theory of a strongman who exploits people who have a predisposition towards fascism is essentialist as well if receptivity is intrinsic, e.g. due to psychology, genetics, etc. Liberal-Left commentary in recent years has tended toward the essentialist view -- that fascists are born or otherwise predisposed toward fascism. Unconsidered is that non-fascists are equally determined in this frame. If 'deplorables' were born that way, four decades of neoliberalism is absolved.

The problem of analogy, the question of what fascism is and how European fascism of the twentieth century bears relation to the present, can't be answered in the liberal frame. The rise and fall of a global radical right have been episodic. It has tied in history to the development of global capitalism in a center-and-periphery model of asymmetrical economic power. Finance from the center facilitates economic expansion until financial crisis interrupts the process. Peripheral governments are left to manage debt repayment with collapsed economies.

Globally, debt has forced policy convergence between political parties of differing ideologies. European center-left parties have pushed austerity even when ideology would suggest the opposite. In 2015, self-identified Marxists in Greece's SYRIZA party capitulated to the austerity and privatization demands from EU creditors led by Germany. Even Lenin negotiated with Wall Street creditors (on behalf of Russia) in the months after the October Revolution. In a political frame, the solution from below is to elect leaders and parties who will act on their rhetoric.

The practical problem with doing this is the power of creditors. Debtors that repudiate their debts are closed out of capital markets. The power to create money that is accepted in payment is a privilege of the center countries that also happen to be creditors. Capitalist expansion creates interdependencies that produce immediate, deep shortages if debts aren't serviced. Debt is a weapon whose proceeds can be delivered to one group and the obligation to repay it to another. The U.S. position was expressed when the IMF knowingly made unpayable loans to Ukraine to support a U.S. sponsored coup there in 2015.

Fascist racialization has analog in existing capitalist class relations. Immigration status, race and gender define a social taxonomy of economic exploitation. Race was invented decades into the Anglo-American manifestation of slavery to naturalize exploitation of Blacks. Gender difference represents the evolution of unpaid to paid labor for women in the capitalist West. Claiming these as causing exploitation gets the temporal sequence wrong. These were / are exploitable classes before explanations of their special status were created.

This isn't to suggest that capitalist class relations form a complete explanation of fascist racialization. But the ontological premise that 'freezes,' and thereby reifies racialization, is fundamental to capitalism. This relates to the point argued below that the educated German bourgeois, in the form of the Nazi scientists and engineers brought to the U.S. following WWII, found Nazi racialization plausible through what has long been put forward as an antithetical mode of understanding. Put differently, it wasn't just the rabble that found grotesque racial caricatures plausible. The question is why?

Propaganda was developed and refined by Edward Bernays in the 1910s to help the Wilson administration sell WWI to a skeptical public. It has been used by the American government and in capitalist advertising since that time. The idea was to integrate psychology with words and images to get people to act according to the desires and wishes of those putting it forward.

The operational frame of propaganda is instrumental: to use people to achieve ends they had no part in conceiving. The political perspective is dictatorial, benevolent or otherwise. Propaganda has been used by the American government ever since. Similar methods were used by the Italian and German fascists in their to rise to power.

Since WWI, commercial propaganda has become ubiquitous in the U.S. Advertising firms hire psychologists to craft advertising campaigns with no regard for the concern that psychological coercion removes free choice from capitalism. The distinction between political and commercial propaganda is based on intent, not method. Its use by Woodrow Wilson (above) is instructive: a large and vocal anti-war movement had legitimate reasons for opposing the U.S. entry into WWI. The goal of Bernays and Wilson was to stifle political opposition.

Following WWII, the U.S. brought 1,600 Nazi scientists and engineers (and their families) to the U.S. to work for the Department of Defense and American industry through a program called Operation Paperclip . Many were dedicated and enthusiastic Nazis. Some were reported to have been bona fide war criminals. In contrast to liberal / neoliberal assertions that Nazism was irrational politics, the Nazi scientists fit seamlessly into American military production. There was no apparent contradiction between being a Nazi and being a scientist.

The problem isn't just that many committed Nazis were scientists. Science and technology created the Nazi war machine. Science and technology were fully integrated into the creation and running of the Nazi concentration camps. American race 'science,' eugenics, formed the basis of Nazi race theory. Science and technology formed the functional core of Nazism. And the Nazi scientists and engineers of Operation Paperclip were major contributors to American post-war military dominance.

A dimensional tension of Nazism lay between romantic myths of an ancient and glorious past and the bourgeois task of moving industrialization and modernity forward. The focus of liberal and neoliberal analysis has been on this mythology as an irrational mode of reason. Missing is that Nazism wouldn't have moved past the German borders if it hadn't had bourgeois basis in the science and technology needed for industrial might. This keeps the broad project within the ontological and administrative premises of liberalism.

This is no doubt disconcerting to theorists of great difference. If Bolsonaro can impose austerity while maintaining an unjust peace, Wall Street and the IMF will smile and ask for more. American business interests are already circling Brazil, knowing that captive consumers combined with enforceable property rights and a pliable workforce means profits. Where were liberals when the Wall Street that Barack Obama saved was squeezing the people of Brazil, Spain, Greece and Portugal to repay debts incurred by the oligarchs? Liberalism is the link between capitalism and fascism, not its antithesis.

Having long ago abandoned Marx, the American Left is lost in the temporal logic of liberalism. The way to fight fascists is to end the threat of fascism. This means taking on Wall Street and the major institutions of Western capitalism

Rob Urie is an artist and political economist. His book Zen Economics is published by CounterPunch Books.

[Feb 02, 2019] Pope Francis Calls for a 'Christian Populism' that Hears the People

Feb 02, 2019 | www.breitbart.com

Leaving aside his frequent criticisms of populism, Pope Francis called for a "Christian populism" during a visit to Sicily this weekend, insisting that true populism must listen to and serve the people.

"Be afraid of the deafness that fails to hear the people," Francis said during his homily at Mass in Palermo Saturday. "This is the only possible populism: listening to your people, the only Christian populism: listening to and serving the people, without shouting, accusing, or stirring up contentions."

Seeming to channel John F. Kennedy, the pope invited his hearers to take initiative rather than asking what the Church and society can do for them.

https://player.powr.com/iframe.html?account=100010177&player=743&domain=breitbart.com&terms=christian%20populism%20pope%20people%20francis%20calls%20for%20hears&uri=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.breitbart.com%2Fnational-security%2F2018%2F09%2F17%2Fpope-francis-calls-for-a-christian-populism-that-hears-and-serves-the-people%2F&c=1549146645895

"Wait not for the Church to do something for you, but begin yourself," Francis said. "Wait not for society to do it, do it yourself."

The pope's apparent openness to populism -- or at least a version of it -- marks a significant change from earlier discourses, in which Francis condemned populism, tying its rise to selfishness and egotism.

Last year, the pontiff warned of the perils of populism in western democracies, telling the German newspaper Die Zeit that "populism is evil and ends badly, as the past century showed."

In an anti-nationalist speech in March 2017, the pope told European heads of state that there is a need "to start thinking once again as Europeans so as to avert the opposite dangers of a dreary uniformity or the triumph of particularisms."

The European Union will only be lasting and successful if the common will of Europe "proves more powerful than the will of individual nations," Francis said, advocating for a stronger, consolidated Europe against the rising tide of populist movements.

Solidarity is "the most effective antidote to modern forms of populism," Pope Francis told the European Union leaders, Francis said, while denouncing nationalism as a modern form of selfishness.

The pontiff contrasted solidarity, which draw us "closer to our neighbors," with populism, which is "the fruit of an egotism that hems people in and prevents them from overcoming and 'looking beyond' their own narrow vision."

This past June, Pope Francis went further still, insisting that populism was not the solution to Europe's immigration crisis, just as Italy's new populist government was beginning to enact measures to curb illegal immigration.

In an interview with Reuters, the pope was asked what he thought the solution is to the immigration crisis that seems to be causing Europe to crumble.

"Populism is not the solution," Francis said emphatically, adding that Europe would disappear without migrants because no one is having children.

Summing up, the pope said that "populism does not solve the problem; what solves it is welcoming, studying, settling, and prudence, because prudence is a virtue of government and the government must reach an agreement. I can receive a certain number and settle them."

On Tuesday, the Vatican and the World Council of Churches (WCC) will begin a two-day joint conference in Rome on "Migration, Xenophobia and politically motivated Populism."

The WCC is partnering with the Vatican department for Promoting Integral Human Development in organizing the conference as part of ongoing work toward "peace-building and migration."

The secretary general of the WCC, Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit, said the meeting would be a "very useful and significant workshop to dig a bit deeper" into the problems of xenophobia as an expression of populism, as well as its links to racism, conflict, and violence in countries around the world.

[Feb 02, 2019] The Immorality and Brutal Violence of Extreme Greed

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... By #SlayTheSmaugs, an elected Bernie delegate in Philly. ..."
"... #STS believes that the billionaire class are Smaugs (the greed incarnate dragon of The Hobbit), immorally hoarding wealth for no reason beyond ego gratification. To "Slay" the Smaugs, we need a confiscatory wealth tax, stronger democratic institutions to impose it, and a shared moral agreement that #GreedIsEvil to justify it. ..."
"... More; charitable foundations are not the same thing, in many cases, as true charity. Instead foundations often function as hoard preservers as well, and enrich their leadership too. ..."
"... After a certain level of accumulation money is simply ego gratifying points, it's not money any more. ..."
"... Wealth on this scale has nothing to do with financial security or luxurious living. For the trivial, it is (as per D. Trump) a game and money is how you keep score. For the serious, it has to do with power, with the ability to affect other people's lives without their consent. That is why the Smaugs' wealth is absolutely our business. It should be understood that we're talking about taking very large amounts of money and power away from very rich people, people for whom money and power are pretty much the only things they value. It will not be pretty. ..."
"... If we fail to prevent the imposition of this transnational regime there will only be three classes of humans left: kleptocrats, their favored minions, and slaves. ..."
"... A more modern similarity of the US is Rome. Vassals have been going full retard for several years now, traitors sell international competitors military secrets while the biggest merchants buy off the Senate. ..."
"... Isn't there an idiom about cutting off the head of the snake? Once you deal with the strongest opponents, it's easier to go after the others. Too big to fail is nothing short of feeding the beast. ..."
"... I disagree strongly with your premise that some sort of pure and natural meritocracy has ever existed, or could ever exist in human society. Corrupt and oppressive people will always define as "meritorious" those qualities that they themselves possess– whether wealth, "gentle birth," "technical skills," or whatever. We all possess the same merit of being human. ..."
"... Meritocracy is not the same as recognizing greater and lesser degrees of competence in various activities. It is absurd to deny that some are more skillful at some things than others. Assigning the relative "merit" to various competencies is what I find objectionable. ..."
"... Encouraging ethical behavior has nothing to do with ranking the "merit" levels of different occupations. While some occupations are inherently unethical, like that of an assassin, most can be performed in such a way as to do no harm to others, and some are nearly always beneficial to society at large. ..."
Jul 22, 2016 | Naked Capitalism

... ... ...

By #SlayTheSmaugs, an elected Bernie delegate in Philly.

#STS believes that the billionaire class are Smaugs (the greed incarnate dragon of The Hobbit), immorally hoarding wealth for no reason beyond ego gratification. To "Slay" the Smaugs, we need a confiscatory wealth tax, stronger democratic institutions to impose it, and a shared moral agreement that #GreedIsEvil to justify it.

Worshiping Wealth

When Gordon Gekko proclaimed that 'Greed is Good' in 1987, it was an obvious rejection of several millennia of teachings by traditional prophets and priests. Yet when Gekko preached greed, he was merely reinforcing the current cultural norm; greed had already been rebranded a virtue. (Still, the speech was to remind us Gekko was a bad guy). Consider that Madonna had proclaimed herself a Material Girl three years earlier, and "Living Large" was cool. Conspicuous consumption is walking the talk that greed is good.

Why had greed become good? I blame the creation of a credit-fueled culture of constant consumption that necessarily praises coveting stuff, plus the dismantling of the regulatory state that had kept Wall Street and wannabe oligarchs in check.

Our healthy cultural adoration of the self-made man, of respect for success, warped into worship of the rich. They are not the same. Wealth can be inherited, stolen through fraud and other illegal activities, or harvested from bubbles; none of these or myriad other paths to riches is due respect, much less worship. Paired with another 80's definition-government is the problem-worshiping wealth facilitates all the dysfunction in our government.

Remembering Greed is Evil

Thirty years later, the old social norm-the one that protected the many from the few, the one that demonized greed as a deadly sin-is resurgent. We have a Pope who preaches against greed, and who walks his talk . We had a Presidential candidate of a major party-Bernie Sanders-who railed against those living embodiments of greed, the Billionaire Class, and walked his talk by rejecting their money. At the convention, he has invited delegates to four workshops, one of which is "One Nation Now: Winning the Fight Against Racism and Greed". We have a late night comedian-John Oliver- ridiculing the prosperity gospel and taking on the debt industry . We have mass consciousness rising, reflected in Occupy, the label "the 99%", BLM and more.

But we need more voices insisting #GreedIsEvil. We need to teach that basic message at home, in school, and in houses of worship. We need to send the right signals in our social interactions. We need to stop coveting stuff, and start buying with a purpose: Shopping locally, buying American, buying green and clean, and buying less. We need to waste less, share more and build community. We need to re-norm-alize greed as evil, make it shameful again. Then we will have redefined ourselves as citizens, not consumers.

But make no mistake: America cannot become a just nation simply by the 99% becoming more virtuous. The cultural shift is necessary but not sufficient, for norms alone do not deliver social and economic justice. Shame will not slay the Smaugs; we need structural change in the political economy.

Extreme greed, the greed of Smaugs, is categorically different than the petit greed underlying the irrational, constant consumption and the worship of wealth. Extreme greed manifests as a hoard of wealth so great that "purchasing power" is an irrelevant concept; a hoard so great it lacks any utility other than to be sat upon as a throne, gratifying the Smaug's ego and symbolizing his power. That greed must be understood as an intolerable evil, something so base and malevolent that the full power of the state must be used against it.

This essay is my contribution to the cause of returning extreme greed to its rightful place in the pantheon of ultimate evils. Here is the thesis: extreme greed must be 'slain' by the state because extreme greed is brutally violent.

The Stealth Violence of False Scarcity and "Cutting Corners"

Greed's violence is quiet and deadly: The violence of false scarcity and of "corner cutting". Scarcity is not having enough because there just isn't enough to go round, like the nearly 50 million people who don't reliably have food during the year, including 15 million kids. False scarcity is when actually, there's plenty to go around, but people generally don't have enough because of hoarders.

It's a concentrated version of what happened to pennies in 1999. People keeping pennies in piggy banks created a shortage felt throughout New York City . If only people had broken open their piggy banks, and used their pennies, there would have been plenty of pennies in circulation, and shopkeepers wouldn't lose money by rounding purchases down. In this piece, I'm focusing on false scarcity of dollars, not pennies, and the maiming and premature death that results from false dollar scarcity. But the idea is essentially the same; there's just far fewer relevant piggy banks.

By the quiet violence of 'corner cutting', I'm referring to unsafe, even deadly, workplaces that could be safe if the employers invested in safety.

Sporadically, greed also drives overt, and sometimes profoundly bloody violence to protect the hoard. Think of employer violence against unions and union organizers, a la Henry Ford , or John D. Rockefeller . Nonetheless in this country now, the violence of greed tends to be more covert. It is that quiet violence, in both forms, I want you to hear now.

As Sanders often reminds us, in this, the richest nation in the world, nearly 50 million people are living in poverty; roughly one in seven Americans. And as Sanders explained, in a speech in West Virginia , 130,000 people die each and every year as a result of poverty. I have not read the study Sanders referred to, so I don't know how much it overlaps with the rise of suicide that accelerated after 2006 and which appears to be correlated with financial stress. Nor do I know how it overlaps with the documented increase in white mortality that also appears to correlate with financial stress. Regardless of overlap, however, each of these studies reflects the quiet violence of false scarcity. Naked Capitalism has featured many posts documenting the damage of greed; this is a recent one .

Chronic and acute financial stress from false scarcity maims, and kills. And Smaugs create false scarcity to feed money to their egos and maintain their oligarchic power.

As Lambert often says, they don't call it class warfare for nothing.

But wait, you might insist, how false is the scarcity, really? How much do a few billionaires matter? Ranting that greed is evil is all well and good, but really, can a relative handful of people be manufacturing scarcity where there is none, shortening and taking millions of lives in the process? Aren't you making your target too narrow in going after the Smaugs?

In order: Very false, a lot, yes and no.

The Falsity of Dollar Scarcity

In 2015 the Institute for Policy Studies determined that the richest 20 American billionaires had hoarded as much wealth as 152 million people had managed to scrape together combined. Think on that.

Twenty people had hoarded $732,000,000,000. America is a nation of about 300,000,000 people. That means 20 people could give a combined $2,370 to every American, and still hoard $1 billion each. I'm not suggesting that's how the redistribution should be done, but it's notable that in an era when some 200 million Americans haven't been able to save $1000 for an emergency, twenty people could give everyone over two grand while remaining fabulously wealthy.

Now, these 20 monstrous people, these full grown Smaugs, are not alone in their extreme greed. Adding in the assets of the next 380 richest Americans brings the total wealth hoarded to $2.34 trillion. That number is so large it's hard to process , so let's think this through.

First, imagine that we took all of that money with a confiscatory tax, except we again left each of the 400 people with $1 billion. They would still be obscenely rich, so don't pity them.* Our tax thus netted $1.94 trillion. Since that's still an unimaginable number, let's compare it to some recent government spending.

In December 2015, Congress funded five years' worth of infrastructure construction. Congress and President Obama were very self-congratulatory because our infrastructure is a mess, and building things involves good paying jobs. So, how much did five years of infrastructure building and job creation cost? $305 billion . That's less than the $400 billion we let the 400 Smaugs keep at the start of this thought experiment. With the $1.94 trillion we imagine confiscating, we could keep building at the 2015 pace for 32 years. Or we could spend it much faster, and create an economic boom the like of which this nation hasn't seen in generations.

Even Bernie Sanders, he of the supposedly overly ambitious, unable-to-be-paid for initiatives, only proposed spending $1 trillion on infrastructure over five years -a bit more than half what our tax would net. (Nor did this supposed radical call for a confiscatory wealth tax to fund his plan.) Sanders estimated his proposal would create 13 million good paying jobs. With nearly double the money, surely we get nearly double the jobs? Let's be conservative and say 22 million.

In sum, we could confiscate most of the wealth of 400 people-still leaving them obscenely rich with $1 billion each-and create 22 million good paying jobs over five years. But we don't; we let the Smaugs keep their hoards intact. Now consider this is only taxing 400 people; what if we taxed the richest 2,000 people more justly? What if we taxed corporations effectively? What if we stopped giving corporate welfare? A confiscatory wealth tax, however, simply isn't discussed in polite company, any more than a truly progressive income tax is, or even serious proposals to end corporate welfare. The best we can do is agree that really, someday soon, we should end the obscenity that is the carried interest loophole.

False scarcity isn't simply a failure of charity, a hoarding of wealth that should be alms for the poor. False scarcity is created through the billionaires' control of the state, of public policy. But the quiet violence of greed isn't visited on the 99% only through the failure to pay adequate taxes. Not even through the Smaugs' failure to have their corporations pay adequate wages, or benefits. Predatory lending, predatory servicing, fraudulent foreclosure, municipal bond rigging, and pension fund fleecing are just some of the many other ways immoral greed creates false scarcity.

While false scarcity has the broadest impact, it is not the only form of stealth violence used by the billionaires in their class war against the rest of us. The Ford and Rockefeller style violence of fists and guns may be rare in the U.S. these days, but a variant of it remains much too common: Unsafe workplaces, the quiet violence of "cutting corners". Whether it's the coal industry , the poultry industry , or the fracking and