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Neoliberalism

The ideology that dare not speak it's name is actually a New, More Dangerous, Form of Corporatism. This "religion of freedom" (redefinition of the meaning of the word "freedom" and sophisticated speculation on it is at the center of neoliberal religion)  is a coercive cult enforced by corrupt, deceitful elite with the explicit goal of milking the adherents

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Skepticism and Pseudoscience > Who Rules America > Neoliberal Brainwashing

News An introduction to Neoliberalism Recommended books Recommended Links Neoliberalism war on organized labor Neoliberalism as Trotskyism for the rich Globalization of Financial Flows
Brexit as the start of the reversal of neoliberal globalization Neoliberal rationality Neoliberal "New Class" as variant of Soviet Nomenklatura Neoliberalism and Christianity Key Myths of Neoliberalism Ayn Rand and her Objectivism Cult Anti-globalization movement
Zombie state of neoliberalism and coming collapse of neoliberalism Pope Francis on danger of neoliberalism Over-consumption of Luxury Goods as Market Failure Definitions of neoliberalism Neoliberal Brainwashing Neoclassical Pseudo Theories US Presidential Elections of 2016 as a referendum on neoliberal globalization
Neocon stooge formerly known as Anti-Globalist and Trump betrayal of his voters Is national security state in the USA gone rogue ? The problem of control of intelligence services in democratic societies Casino Capitalism Neocolonialism as Financial Imperialism War is Racket Inverted Totalitarism
Financial Crisis of 2008 as the Crisis of Neoliberalism and shift to neo-fascism Neoliberal corruption Financial Sector Induced Systemic Instability of Economy Corruption of Regulators "Fight with Corruption" as a smoke screen for neoliberal penetration into host countries Deconstructing neoliberalism's definition of 'freedom' Resurgence of neofascism as reaction on crisis of neoliberalism and neoliberal globalization
Alternatives to Neo-liberalism Elite Theory Compradors Fifth column Color revolutions Key Myths of Neoliberalism Audacious Oligarchy and "Democracy for Winners"
If Corporations Are People, They Are Psychopaths IMF as the key institution for neoliberal debt enslavement Gangster Capitalism Neoliberalism as a Cause of Structural Unemployment in the USA Neoliberalism and inequality Blaming poor and neoliberalism laziness dogma Corporatist Corruption: Systemic Fraud under Clinton-Bush-Obama Regime
Peak Cheap Energy and Oil Price Slump The Deep State Predator state Disaster capitalism Harvard Mafia Small government smoke screen Super Capitalism as Imperialism
The Great Transformation Monetarism fiasco Neoliberalism and Christianity Republican Economic Policy In Goldman Sachs we trust: classic example of regulatory capture by financial system hackers Ronald Reagan: modern prophet of profligacy Milton Friedman -- the hired gun for Deification of Market
Media-Military-Industrial Complex Neocons New American Militarism Media domination strategy Libertarian Philosophy Frederick Von Hayek Friedman --founder of Chicago school of deification of market
Neoliberal Brainwashing -- Journalism in the Service of the Powerful Few YouTube on neoliberalism History of neoliberalism PseudoScience Related Humor Politically Incorrect Humor Humor Etc


Even though I agreed with him, I warned that whenever someone tried to raise the issue, he or she was accused of fomenting class warfare. “There’s class warfare, all right, "Mr. Buffett said, “but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning."

- New York Times

Make no mistake, the neo-Liberal fuckers are just as bad as the Stalinists

May '68 and its Afterlives [Review]

Neoliberal ideology acted as a smokescreen that enabled the financially powerful to rewrite the rules and place themselves beyond the law.

disorderedworld , 10 Jun 2013 17:21

The terms Neoliberalism and Casino Capitalism are used interchangeably. They define the same phenomenon. The term "Casino Capitalism" stresses that neoliberalism glorifies stock market, promotes "financialization" and creates powerful incentives for financial speculation and excessive risk-taking on the part of the public (mass ownership of stocks via 401K plans), financial institutions (derivatives, currency speculations, "naked" commodity futures, intentional blowing of bubbles), and even Main Street entrepreneurs (dot-com crisis on 2000).  That's why neoliberalism is also called "market fundamentalism."  Like feudalism neoliberalism stipulate existence of two classes: "inner party" members of whom the law protects but does not apply, and  "deplorables" to whom the law applies, but does not protect...  "Inner party" members are above the law under neoliberalism.  The elite under neoliberalism is dominated by financial oligarchs. Several new groups are added to the elite such as intelligence agencies brass (with intelligence agencies becoming the real political force, the core of the Deep State) and Silicon Valley moguls (with top firms became interconnected with surveillance apparatus of the state).  The key social goal of neoliberalism is redistribution of wealth up at the expense of the working class and lower middle class. It is political project designed to curb the power of labor (see Neoliberalism war on labor). So stagnation of wages is not an aberration, but a key feature of neoliberalism.

Neoliberalism positions itself first of all as a secular religion (which in its core is hostile to Christianity, and much like Bolshevism) with the compliance enforced by the state. Somewhat similar to  God-Building  trend in Marxism. For example, the prominent member of Bolsheviks Party Lunacharsky "saw Marxism as having religious components, including its faith in the inevitable victory of socialism."; according to  Trotsky(1923) in some of the southern republics around 15% percent of party members were believers in Islam. Developing this insight Erich Voegelin’s on his controversial Political Religions (1938, see discussion at Stalinist Ritual and Belief System- Reflections on ‘Political Religion’) suggested that ideologies can function as secular religions. For example, both national socialism and Bolshevism were deficient in terms of empirical evidence and had to be accepted on faith. The same is true for neoliberalism . The difference is that most of those movements generated a sense of devotion and mass mobilization with the emphasis of personal sacrifice,  reminiscent of religious zeal.

Neoliberalism operates differently and does not require, or support mobilization of population. That's why it is viewed by some political scientists as a new mutation of corporatism called "inverted totalitarism" (the term introduced by Sheldon Wolin in his magnificent book and further  developed by Wendy Brown in her essay Neoliberalism and the end of liberal democracy and the book Undoing the Demos- Neoliberalism's Stealth Revolution  (2017).  Internet as a distributed and democratic system supports mobilization of population. It also makes more difficult to control information flow and free flow of information and existence of critical to neoliberalism websites which summarize and presents in readable form the available  information is a threat to neoliberalism. Which flourished on ignorance and brainwashing. That's why there is systematic propaganda campaign to associate critics of neoliberalism with Russians (which were chosen as a very convenient scapegoat due to Cold War past). That's why neo-McCarthyism witch hunt was lunched after Trump elections.

At the center of this civic religion is the redefinition of the word  "freedom" as freedom from any kind of coercion (compare with  FDR four freedoms). That sophistry resonated very well within Americans and British people and became a "universal opener" using which neoliberal elite opens the door for any harmful for population actions/legislation, including but not limited to the restoration of the power of financial oligarchy. All in the name of freedom ;-). Dirty, but a very effective trick. Those guys are real masters of deception and elevated it into the art form.  In a way neoliberalism can be called the "religion of freedom," a coercive cult enforced by corrupt, deceitful elite with the explicit goal of milking the adherents. Neoliberal ideology is offering a closed, coherent belief system explaining the whole world via unverifiable and unsubstantiated by scientific testing system of dogmas, beliefs and rituals. Deification of markets is just slightly less fantastic then the idea of Paradise. Obviously, neoclassical economics is far removed from what is ordinarily regarded as valid scientific procedure. It is, essentially, a pseudo theory, a flavor of Lysenkoism, if you wish.

As core dogmas of neoliberalism are indefensible from scientific point of view if stated openly, neoliberalism has always been surrounded by an aura of  secrecy and "esoteric teaching" (for elite only) which reminds Scientology. Even the name is suppressed in neoliberal MSM (US neoliberal MSMs rarely, if at all, mention this term "neoliberalism"; In UK the only exception is probably Guardian). To protect deplorables from discovering the ugly truth, elaborate pseudo theoretical smoke screen including mathiness was created.  Exactly like in Marx famous quote "Religion is the opium of the people." This is actually the first instance when ideology conceived as a secular religion uses perverted mathematics (mathiness, Number racket) to justifies itself (I think Ancient Egypt priests might be the only analogy). As such this is a blatantly dishonest ideology. Like Bolshevism in the past, it also plays dirty tricks with the language in best 1994 style, creating neoliberal NewSpeak: compare for example how "economic freedom" is defined  by  neoliberals ("freedom of entrepreneurs and financial speculators from coercion and regulation") and how it was defined by FDR ("freedom [of working people and lower middle class] from want").  Indoctrination into "neoliberal newspeak" is done at the Universities using for brainwashing neoclassical economy  and "business courses." Much like Soviet students were brainwashed with Marxism-Leninism and Marxist political economy. In both cases you can't graduate without passing mark for those courses.  Again like Marxism neoliberalism is  hostile to Christianity; some postulates of neoliberalism are closer to Judaism (entrepreneurs and financiers as a higher caste of the society, the inner party), some to Satanism. 

Like Bolsheviks neoliberals are statists par excellence, using state to enforce and support the neoliberal dogma. In other words, neoliberals believe that "the market does not and cannot take care of itself"  In this sense we can view neoliberalism is a form of state enforced regulation -- one that insulates the markets from challenges of democratic forces (with the ideological smoke screen of neoclassical economy, which is pure sophistry) as well as  from economic nationalism.  The recent Deep State attack on Trump is typical, classic neoliberal reaction on such a challenge from economic nationalism.

While hypocritically shouting "free market", "free market"...  neoliberals like Bolsheviks in the past conspire to achieve power via iether regular election mechanism (which after they came to power is neutered ) or by stealth coup d'état (or regime change via color revolution in weaker countries, especially LA(Chile, Brasil, Argentina) and post Soviet republics (Baltic republics, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia) as well as infiltrating and subverting key institutions of the state via IMF and World Bank ("debt slavery"). After that they openly and blatantly use government as an enforcer of their ideology. That includes bailing out financial oligarchy to prevent of meltdown of financial system during Minsky moments. Which are inevitable under neoliberalism as decimation of regulation (especially for financial sector) eliminated the negative feedback loop introduced by the New Deal, while financial institutions create a strong positive feedback loop in economics sliding to more and more reckless behaviour until the financial crash ("stability is destabilizing" as quipped Minsky).

Systems with a strong positive feedback loop are known to be unstable. So bailing out private institutions using public money (like happened in the US and Europe in 2008-2010) is not an aberration. but a quintessential feature of neoliberalism.  And the crisis of 2008 which caused the regime of "secular stagnation" in Western societies will probably be repeated on a new level in  2020th (we can only guess about possible triggers; might the price of oil, or the size of derivatives market). Simplifying, we can call neoliberalism  "Banks uber alles" regime.

Neoliberalism redistributes wealth up, justifying it with another key neoliberal myth -- the so called "trickle down economics" voodoo: the idea is that if the State directly helps the rich by redistributing wealth up, enforcing "market discipline", opening markets were they never existed (healthcare, education),  as well as privatizing state assets, the poor will be better off as a by-product. Or as John Kenneth Galbraith  quipped: “Trickle-down theory - the less than elegant metaphor that if one feeds the horse enough oats, some will pass through to the road for the sparrows.” In other words, neoliberalism is welfare for the top 1% or 0.1% of entrepreneurs and parasitic financial oligarchy (which state protects), and, at the same time, the "free market" jungle for the rest ("socialism for rich"). 

It is both an ideological assault, but also an economic assault on the power of labor (and especially organized labor) a political project to squash labor wages. On intuitive level neoliberalism emerged as the result of thinking like “We gotta crush labor, how do we do it?” And they found that neoliberalism can be a legitimizing theory for such a squash.  Which again makes it similar to Bolshevism, which despite noble slogans kept working class wages at a very low level (which was noted by Orwell in his Animal Farm parable, and famous John Kenneth Galbraith quote "Under capitalism, man exploits man. Under communism, it's just the opposite")

And, again, like Bolshevism, this is a self-reassuring, self-gratifying and self-explanatory myth -- a pretty sophisticated and very deceptive ideological rosy glasses, which creates (and then enforces on lemmings) a distorted image of reality. Important part of "reproduction" mechanism if this ideology is that it is deliberately propagated by neoliberal MSM and in neoliberal universities And neoliberal MSM (which are the only game in town in many countries now) as neoliberalism eliminated other forms of press via monopolization mechanism. In the USA lion share of MSM is owned by just six corporations. Along with domination in MSM, neoliberalism creates sophisticated and effective system of indoctrination of population which rivals the same under Bolsheviks in the USSR.  

Recent spy scandals demonstrated that neoliberal elite (like financial oligarchy in general) does not fully believe in the power brainwashing of population (at least after 2008) and gradually is switching to relying on intelligence agencies as an enforcement squad of neoliberal agenda -- another  (and pretty alarming) commonality with Bolshevism (historically Cheka/OGPU/NKVD played prominent role in defending and ensuring the survival of Bolsheviks' regime.) This trend is amplified by appointment, "not so bright", deeply conformist "ladder climbers" as the heads of intelligence agencies. For example, Brennan and Clapper represent the same category of people as a typical Soviet bureaucrat -- a ruthless (and often corrupt) careerist with limited intellectual capacities, but devoted to ideology the defense of the ruling oligarchy. Such people understand very well from which side his bread is buttered. 

Exaggerating threats to the USA sovereignty to cement the cracks in the neoliberal regime is also a page borrowed from the Stalinist period of the USSR. In the USSR people were accused being British spies. Now in the USA dissidents from neoliberal ideology (even such highly placed as Trump ;-) are, by  definition, Russian intelligence service collaborators, or assets. This very useful for defenders of the neoliberal regime paranoia now extends even to contacts with the Ambassador of Russia by any US official which bring us to the set of behaviors at the peak of the USSR Great Terror.  In a sense Mueller looks exactly like one of Stalin henchmen -- he tried to justify the view that is almost totally misguided, for the sake of defense of declining neoliberal ideology.  Performing functions that are not that different from functions performed by  the head of Gestapo or Stasi -- suppression of the political dissent to neoliberalism.

Like in the USSR for intelligence officials it is safer to flow with the neo-McCarthyism trend: the current atmosphere of paranoia makes it difficult for intelligence agencies to present the evidence that contradicts Russian spymania vision. The essence of which is identical to the vision of Stalinist Russia: that the USA is surrounded by two hostile powers (Russia and China)  hell-bent on creating political crisis in the country  and/or "regime change" and salivating to steal or dismantle the US global neoliberal empire. Which are engaged in stealing technological and military secrets.

Like Soviets, neoliberal policymakers are deeply troubled by the specter of the enemy at the gate, not realizing that the current social crisis in the USA is ultimately connected with the crisis of neoliberalism both as an ideology and the system of governance. Add to this faulty, ideologically distorted system of intelligence gathering and ruthless but  intellectually second-rate careerists at the agencies (just look at Strzok, Brennan and Clapper).  Like with the discovery of British spies in the USSR, the most obvious motive for Russiagate witch hunt is to cement cracks in neoliberal faced which appeared after 2008 by using for this purpose the external threat.

While many think about neoliberalism as "Ubercapitalism" or return to "Robber Barons" era on a new level, ideologically Neoliberalism is closer to Trotskyism ( and thus can be called Neo-Trotskyism ). It stresses the role of state as the enforcement power, the solidarity of neoliberal elite across the countries, with the dominant role of Anglo-Saxon elite. As well as the role of subversive methods and intelligence agencies in instituting the "regime change" (Trotskyite idea of permanent revolution mutated under neoliberalism into the idea of "permanent color revolution") .  In the famous slogan "Proletarians of all countries, Unite!" neoliberalism substituted the word "proletarians" with the word "elites" (as in "Transnational elites, Unite!" ). 

The slogan "All Power to [Workers] Councils" is replaced with "All power to  financial oligarchy councils", and such clubs  as Bilderberg Group, US Chamber of CommerceBusiness Roundtable  and similar organization  are playing the role of hidden centers of power of the neoliberal regime.

Like Trotskyism neoliberalism in the ideology of "permanent expansion", ideology of neo-colonialism. The idea of "Permanent Revolution" was substituted with the idea of permanent "Color revolutions." Methods used remain a variation and enhancement of methods used by Trotskyites for destabilizing the government, with a special emphasis on use of the students, acquiring the control of mass media, implanting NGO (especially in the area various polls and "control over the legitimacy of elections". ) The latter is pretty nasty trick as people tend to believe the rumors that elections were hijacked.  Stalin dictum: it does not matter how they vote, what matters is who is counting the votes is used here in a pretty innovative way. The neoliberal version sounds like:  It does not matter how that vote, if elections are close all that matter is who is performing exit polls and cries louder about "irregularities" in the elections in the MSM.

Add to this various financial injection to "dissidents" via network of NGO and you get the picture.  Caste of "professional revolutionaries"  now consists of  well-paid functionaries sitting in comfortable chairs in various, lavishly financed think tanks and NGO. In the USA they constitute the core of both parties which cares very little about the interest of rank-and-file members with "bait and switch" maneuver as the major tool for election success (Clinton, Bush, Obama, Trump). Marx is probably rolling in his grave.

Despite being a flavor of Trotskyism, Neoliberalism is still a very interesting, unique social system which by-and-large defeated and replaced both New Deal capitalism and socialism (and facilitated the dissolution of the USSR by buying out Soviet nomenklatura, including KGB brass). It is the only social system in which the name of the system is somehow prohibited by MSM to mention. In this system, like under Stalin's version of socialism, the state play the leading role in enforcing the social system upon the people, brainwashing them with wall-to-wall 24 x 7 USSR-style propaganda an, if necessary, by state violence (As Sheldon Wolin mentioned neoliberalism tries to use violence selectively, as overuse of state violence undermines the social system, see Inverted Totalitarism).

Essentially neoliberalism lifted intelligence services into full fledged political player (which means that later stage of neoliberal state  always is some flavor of the national security state) as we can see in color revolution launched by them against Trump (Trump is the proponent of a renegade version of neoliberalism, which can be called "national neoliberalism" or "neoliberalism without globalization"). And  the color revolution against Trump is not the isolated case when the USA intelligence agencies have gone rogue,  it is just a step in natural evolution of neoliberalism and is a "new normal".

Instead of regulating predatory tendencies of capitalism like under New Deal, state under neoliberalism became just a corrupt policeman that serve interests of the large corporations and  financial institutions (especially the latter) and, in most cases, at the expense of the standard of living  of the common people. Standard of living of working class and lower middle class typically slides under neoliberalism (this fact is never accepted by neoliberals and hotly disputed).  

In this sense any neoliberal country is to a certain extent is an "occupied country", and the neoliberal regime is the occupying regime, much like Bolsheviks (with their theocratic state) were in USSR space. Or like the return on the new level to the Robber Barons era, when the state helped to squash West Virginia miner upraising in 1912-21.

Foreign policy under neoliberalism is marked by rampant militarism and constant wars for expanding of the global, USA-led neoliberal empire. Neocons dominate the USA foreign policy since late 70th (Carter administration).

The neoliberal state justifies its decisions, policies, and rules by deification of the markets and by perversion of the meaning of the term the "freedom". In this Hayek inspired sophistry the negative definition is used as in  "freedom from coercion" and interpreted mainly in  economic space ( as the freedom of unlimited enrichment of talented and/or ruthless entrepreneurs.)  Compare with "Four Freedoms" definition used Roosevelt administration during the New Deal: "freedom from want" and "freedom from fear" are not included in neoliberal definition. Those freedoms are simply denied under neoliberalism for everybody but the top1%. 

Neoliberalism might therefore be defined as the elevation of market-based principles. Or more correctly the techniques of elevation of market principles to the level of state-endorsed norms and state-sponsored secular religion which displaces Christianity (aka neoliberal rationality).  This theological dimension of neoliberalism is very important (some researchers called neoliberalism "perverted Buddhism" in institualized suffering of lower classes ) and like in Marxism,  the economics (in the form of neoclassical economics) is used for indoctrination on university students into this ideology.  Neoliberals (in a form of adherents to neoclassical economics)  dominate economics departments of major universities and not by some chance -- this is result of deliberate policy (borrowed from Trotskyism) of acquiring and maintaining the political power ("Quite coup").

The level of a secular religion in which "market" and "competition" are new deities ("market fundamentalism") is especially visible in university education, were alternative approaches were mercilessly crushed. It is not an exaggeration to say that the main goal of teaching of economics in universities is the indoctrination, and it has very little in common with teaching economic as a complex and contradictory science. Mathematics serves as powerful smoke screen for hiding the neoliberal ideological core (mathiness)

Like neofascism, neoliberalism radically transforms the "welfare state" which was created by the New Deal,  prioritizing big corporations over common people. The idea of welfare that was the core of New Deal Capitalism is not completely abolished. But under neoliberalism only corporations are desirable welfare recipients and the bigger they are, the more handouts they suck up.  But at the same time neoliberalism and neofascism are mortal enemies: neofascism is at its core a flavor of far right nationalism (cultural or ethnic), while neoliberalism is based on globalism. Only in imperial nations like the USA they can partially merge and intervene (Trump's national neoliberalism is one example). 

In labor relations neoliberal pursue a staunch anti-union stance. Labor is atomized, unions suppressed and individuals put on the market "naked" on conditions dictated by employees. Which means squeezing goo paying job in favor of terms and contractors, outsourcing and other anti--labor measure designed to preserve falling profitability in the market condition characterized by falling consumer demand (due to lower standard of living for the majority of population). And this is done at any cost. Even at the cost of human life. That situation gave rise to the term "naked capitalism".

The idea of welfare is not abolished. But under neoliberalism only corporations are desirable welfare recipients and the bigger they are, the more handouts they suck up.

Neoliberalism sees competition as the defining characteristic of human relations. that gave a rise of various (often stupid) "performance metrics" and cult of "performance reviews". It redefines citizens as consumers, who exercise they political power mainly buying and selling, the process which supposedly rewards merit (producing market winners) and punishes inefficiency. It postulates a primitive (and wrong) dogma that “the market” always delivers benefits that are superior and could never be achieved by planning. Which is definitely untrue for military contractors. In a way the "market" under neoliberalism is a kind of "all powerful deity". Which makes neoliberalism a variation of a secular religion (compare with "God building" faction of Bolsheviks Party which included such prominent figures as Lynacharsky). As such neoliberalism, like Marxism before, is hostile to Christianity. And while Marxism absolutize the power of human compassion and redefines paradise as a social system that supposedly can be built on Earth (communism), neoliberalism denigrates the power of human compassion and enforces "greed is good" and "homo homini lupus est" morale. Which turns into law of jungle for lower and middle class. In this sense it is more like a branch of Satanism, with greed as a virtue ("Greed is good"), speculation as a noble activity (while according to Chris Hedges "Speculation in the 17th century was a crime. Speculators were hanged." ) and the slogan "Homo homini lupus est" as one of the key Commandments. See Neoliberalism and Christianity

Neoliberalism sees competition as the defining characteristic of human relations, and greed as a virtue

This social system can be viewed as dialectical denial of socialism and represents the other extreme in classic triad "Thesis, antithesis, synthesis". We do not know yet what the synthesis will be like, but neoliberalism as a social system after 2008 shows definite cracks. Much like the USSR after the WWII when people serving in Red Army discovered what the standard of living in Central and Eastern Europe for workers was far superior that existed in the USSR and start to understand that "state socialism" as practiced in the USSR can't deliver promised higher standard of living for ordinary citizens and that Soviet "nomenklatura" is not that different from the capitalist class in appropriation in Marx terms of "surplus value of labor".

The economic inefficiency of the USSR "state capitalism" model (one state -- one giant corporation) helped to undermine the validity and effectiveness of communist propaganda. And once the ideology is undermined, the elite can't restore the trust of population, which start viewing it with suspicion and contempt. The process of irreversible deterioration started and proceed rather slowly. After WWII Bolshevism survived for another 40 years or so, but eventually failed as the elite (aka Soviet nomenklatura) changed sides and joined neoliberal camp.

Like Bolshevism before it, neoliberalism proved to be unstable social system and the collapse of neoliberalism is not question of "if", but "when".  A utopian system which is unable to deliver promised benefits to the common people, and which destabilizes capitalism in comparison with New Deal capitalism, producing periodic financial crisis with increasing severity.   The first of such crisis was "savings and loans" crisis, followed by dot com bubble burst, and the financial crisis in 2008. The latter led to the Great Recession from which the USA never fully recovered.

In 2008 the large banks, which are the core of neoliberal economics, were saved from facing consequences of their "transgressions" only by massive state intervention. All powerful market was unable to save those sick puppies. The consequences of 2008 crisis did buried neoliberal ideology which from this point looks like cruel and primitive hypocrisy designed to restore the power of financial oligarchy to the level the latter enjoyed in 1930th. That did not mean that neoliberalism became completely toothless. It managed to stage comeback in several Latin American countries (the USA backyard). But in 2016 it led to the election of Trump who managed to defeat establishment candidate, neocon warmonger Hillary Clinton despite all the efforts of the neoliberal/neocon establishment to derail him. Trump pursues the version of neoliberalism which can be called "national neoliberalism" -- neoliberalism limited to the USA with implicit rejection of globalization (or at least large part of it). Which makes Trumpism somewhat similar to Stalinism. Unlike Trotsky, Stalin did not believe in the "World Revolution" mantra.

In the absence of alternatives neoliberalism managed somewhat recover after 2008 debacle, and even successfully counterattacked in some Latin American and European countries (Argentina, Brazil, Greece), but the Great Recession still left of huge and ugly scar on the neoliberal face. In any case glory days of triumphal march of neoliberalism all over globe are over. Crisis of neoliberalism also logically led to increase of share of "guard labor" in economics. On state level this resulted in hypertrophied growth of repressive apparatus including intelligence agencies. So when in 2016 neoliberalism in the USA experienced its first political crisis (when electorate rejected Hillary Clinton and elected Trump, creating the legitimacy crisis of the USA ruling neoliberal elite) the Deep State (the core of which consists of intelligence  agencies and "Wall Street" ) launched a "color revolution" to depose him. Fake changes of falling under Russian control concocted by intelligence agencies in order to depose Trump  which collectively are called "Russiagate" (which properly should be called Intelligence-gate) is the defining feature of this "color revolution".

With lower standard of living of the middle class is no longer possible to hide that "it 's not enough cookies for everybody" under neoliberal and the myth that rising tide lifts all boats"(Trickle-down economics )  is not applicable.

The economist John Kenneth Galbraith noted that "trickle-down economics" had been tried before in the United States in the 1890s under the name "horse and sparrow theory", writing:

Mr. David Stockman has said that supply-side economics was merely a cover for the trickle-down approach to economic policy—what an older and less elegant generation called the horse-and-sparrow theory: 'If you feed the horse enough oats, some will pass through to the road for the sparrows.'

Resentment of working class and lower middle class reached in 2016 unprecedented level, creating a real political crisis in the USA. Which was not unexpected.  As Pope Francis aptly noted:

... Such an [neoliberal] 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”.

Outsourcing and offshoring of manufacturing in the USA -- the citadel of neoliberalism led to epidemic of opiod abuse similar to epidemic of alcoholism among workers in the late USSR.  Among the more than 72,000 drug overdose deaths estimated in 2017, the sharpest increase occurred among deaths related to fentanyl and fentanyl analogs (synthetic opioids) with nearly 30,000 overdose deaths ( Overdose Death Rates National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) (

Impoverishment of lower 20% of the society (those who have so called McJobs) reached the level when we can talk about a third world country within the USA.

All those factors created pre-conditions for a sharp rise of far right nationalism. In a way neoliberalism naturally generated far right nationalism splash much like Gilded Age and the market crash of Sept 4, 1929 capitalism created precondition for the rise of national socialism. Reading NDSAP 25 points program (adopted in 1920) we can instantly feel that many problem that existed then are now replayed on the new level. After approximately 40 years of global dominance neoliberalism facade shows cracks. Backlash against neoliberal globalization became strong enough to provide upsets, albeit temporary, which demonstrated itself in Brexit, and election of Trump. Who, despite his election-time claims to be a fighter against neoliberal globalization, for restoration of local jobs, and against the wars for expanding neoliberal empire, he essentially folded in two-or three months after the inauguration.

Like Soviet version of Communism before it, Neoliberalism failed to meet its promises of rising standard of living (and the key idea of justifying of raising of inequality and redistribution of wealth up under neoliberalism was "rising water lifts all boats" mantra, or as Kenneth Galbraith famously defined it “Trickle-down theory - the less than elegant metaphor that if one feeds the horse enough oats, some will pass through to the road for the sparrows.” ). We can stress again, that the current opiod epidemics in the USA is not that different from epidemics of alcoholism in the USSR under Brezhnev's "well developed socialism" and has the same social roots.

It is important to understand that under neoliberalism the key priority is the maintenance of global neoliberal empire for the benefits of multinationals (with the associated idea of Global Neoliberal Revolution which, as we mentioned before, makes is similar to Trotskyism). Opening new markets is vital for the interests of transnational corporations and that means that the USA government supports the war for the expansion of the USA-led global neoliberal empire at the expense of interests of regular US citizens. Outsourcing and atomization of the US workforce (squeezing unions) means that neoliberal government has an adversarial attitude towards its common citizenry. They are, by definition, the second class citizens (Undermensch, or as Hillary Clinton elegantly coined it "basket of deplorables" ) . While neoliberal themselves ("creative class") are new Ubermench and like old aristocracy are above the law. So the idea of the "nomenklatura" as a ruling class in the USSR is now replayed on a new level. The fact the Ann Rand was a Soviet émigré tells you something ;-)

As it evolved with time, neoliberalism is a somewhat fuzzy concept ( much like Bolshevism evolved from Leninism to Stalinism, then to Brezhnev's socialism and at last to Gorbachov "perestroika" ). In various countries it can morph into quite different "regimes", despite the common "market fundamentalism" core. The simplest and pretty precise way to define is to view it as "socialism for the rich, feudalism for the poor" or, more correctly "Trotskyism for the rich" ("Elites of all countries unite !" instead of “Proletarians of all countries, Unite! ...). It is "socialism for the upper strata of population and corporations, especially transnationals".

In this sense neoliberals are as "internationalists" as communists were at their time, and may be even more (the term "globalism" is commonly used instead of "internationalism".) And like "Communist International", the "Neoliberal International" accepts the elite from any country, but only a very narrow strata of the elite and only on a certain conditions, with the leading role reserved for the USA elite and a part of G7 elite. Much like in Comintern the role of Moscow as a leader was something that can't be even discussed. Only taken for granted. Although spying capabilities of "Neoliberal International" via "five eyes" are tremendously more powerful then the rudimentary capabilities of Comintern. And the technology of staging "color revolutions" is more polished then Trotskyite approach to staging proletarian revolutions. As a proverb say "One is a bad student, if he can't exceed the level of his teacher". Or "The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires."(William Arthur Ward). Neoliberals proved to be a very good students of Trotskyite method of subversion of elected governments, as many of them were actually former Trotskyites.

Neoliberals also have more money and that matters. This fact alone allows them to create a powerful "fifth column" in countries other then G7 who are on the receiving end of neoliberal expropriation of wealth to the top countries of Neoliberal International. Like in Comintern, "all pigs are created equal, but some pigs are more equal then others."

The key idea of obtaining power by training the cadre of "professional revolutionaries" introduced by social-democratic parties and, especially, Bolsheviks are replaced with no less effective the network of neoliberal think tanks. In other words neoliberalism borrowed and perverted almost all major ideas of social-democratic parties. Including the existence of a paid "party core" typical for Bolsheviks, and instrumental to the success of their coup d'état in October 1917 against Provisional government by Kerensky. Under neoliberalism this idea transformed into the network of think tanks that Koch and other billionaires have sponsored.

Monte Perelin society (the initial neoliberal think tank) explicitly tried to adapt successful idea of western social democratic parties and Bolsheviks to neoliberal doctrine. One such "appropriations" is the level of secrecy and existence of "underground" part of the party along with "legal" parliamentary faction, a set of figureheads who are controlled by "invisible hand" (honorable politician is the one who after he was bought stays bought). Some important theoretical work in this direction was done USA renegade Trotskyites (aka neoconservatives, especially by James Burnham as well as staunch neoliberals like James Buchanan (The Guardian)

The papers Nancy MacLean discovered show that Buchanan saw stealth as crucial. He told his collaborators that “conspiratorial secrecy is at all times essential”. Instead of revealing their ultimate destination, they would proceed by incremental steps. For example, in seeking to destroy the social security system, they would claim to be saving it, arguing that it would fail without a series of radical “reforms”... Gradually they would build a [well-paid] “counter-intelligentsia”, allied to a “vast network of political power” that would become the new establishment.

The control of MSM is another idea borrowed from Bolsheviks. Like Bolshevism, neoliberalism created it's own Neoliberal newspeak and a set of myths ("greed is good", "invisible hand", "the efficient markets hypothesis", "rational expectations scam", Shareholder value scam, supply side voodoo aka "rising tide lifts all boats", etc). In "neoliberal newspeak" the term "freedom" is used as the excuse for ripping down public protections on behalf of the very rich. For example, "free market" means the market free from any coercion by the state (read "free from regulations") which makes it the corporate jungle where the most powerful corporation dictate the rules of the game and eat alive small fish with complete impunity. In no way neoliberal "free market" is fair. Actually neoliberals try to avoid to discuss the issue of farness of the market. This is anathema for them. As such neoliberalism has distinct Social Darwinism flavor and enforces scapegoating and victimization of poor and unemployed

In no way neoliberal "free market" is fair. Actually neoliberals try to avoid to discuss the issue of farness of the market. This is anathema for them. As such neoliberalism has distinct Social Darwinism flavor and enforces scapegoating and victimization of poor and unemployed

As neoliberalism inherited consumerism of the New Deal Capitalism, it adapted it for it own purposes. One distinct feature is trying to get into dent the majority of the population of the country as well as "lesser" countries (neo-colonialism)/

On the individual workers levels neoliberalism has sophisticated mechanisms of enforcing excessive debt on unsuspecting population with such mechanisms as credit card companies, mortgages, student debt, etc. And a worker with a large debt is, essentially, a debt-slave. Atomization (neoliberalism is openly and forcefully anti-union) and enslavement of the workforce is exactly what neoliberalism is about: recreation of the plantation economy on a new technological and social levels. Not that unions are without problems in their own right, but crushing the union is the goal of every neoliberal government starting with Thatcher and Reagan. The same model that is depicted in famous song Sixteen Tons. With replacement of the company store debt and private corporate currencies with credit card debt.

On "lesser" countries level IMF and World banks does the heavy lifting of converting countries into debt-slaves. Sometimes with the help of Wall Street firms like Goldman Sachs.

Like Trotskyism, neoliberalism is a militaristic creed, the only different is that dream of global Communist empire led from Moscow was replaced by the dream of global neoliberal empire led by Washington. Neocons in this sense is just a specific flavor of neoliberals --" neoliberals with the gun" as in Al Capone maxim "You Can Get Much Further with a Kind Word and a Gun than with a Kind Word Alone" ;-). This "institualized gangsterism" of the US neocons represents probably the greatest threat to the survival of modern civilization.

Neoliberalism elevates of market-based principles and techniques of evaluation to the level of state-endorsed norms. The authority of the neoliberal state is heavily dependent on the authority of neoliberal economics (and economists). When this authority collapses the eventual collapse of neoliberalism is imminent. This is a classic "the castle built of sand story. "

Due to the size the introduction was moved to a separate page -- Neoliberalism: an Introduction


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[Jan 24, 2019] The Trump Tax Cut Is Even Worse Than They Say by Dean Baker

Notable quotes:
"... To this point, there is essentially zero evidence of the promised investment boom. There was respectable growth in investment in the first two quarters of 2018, but growth slowed to just 1.1 percent in the third quarter. ..."
"... In any case, there is zero evidence that the tax cut is leading to the sort of investment boom that will qualitatively boost the rate of productivity and GDP growth and provide workers with substantially higher pay. ..."
"... (irrational) confidence level is an important economic factor. ..."
"... What has been destructive in major recessions has not been "misdirected investment", it has been the leveraged and/or fraudulent financial manipulations which maximize profit but which cause rapid collapse when conditions turn bad. Again, interest rates have in practice not been a main factor in this. ..."
"... Keynes was adamantly against high interest rates and he favored usury laws: "the rate of interest is not self-adjusting at a level best suited to the social advantage but constantly tends to rise too high, so that a wise Government is concerned to curb it by statute and custom and even by invoking the sanctions of the moral law." The General Theory, p. 351. ..."
"... "The evidence is not consistent with the idea that central banks can control economies with interest rates." ..."
"... A much larger threat to world economies (than interest rates) is the huge capital investments in petroleum assets. At some point, those investments will need to be unwound in an orderly fashion but it doesn't seem that anyone is considering how to do that. ..."
Jan 18, 2019 | cepr.net
Details
Published: 18 January 2019

(This piece was originally posted on my Patreon page .)

Jim Tankersley had a nice piece in the New York Times last week pointing out that the tax cut pushed through by the Republicans in 2017 is leading to a sharp drop in tax revenue. While this was widely predicted by most analysts, it goes against the Trump administration's claims that the tax cut would pay for itself.

Looking at full-year data for calendar year 2018, Tankersley points out that revenue was $183 billion (5.6 percent) below what the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) had projected for the year before the tax cut was passed into law. This is a substantial falloff in revenue by any standard, but there are two reasons the picture is even worse than this falloff implies.

The first is that we actually did see a jump in growth in 2018 pretty much in line with what the Trump administration predicted. The tax cut really did stimulate the economy. It put a lot of money in the economy (mostly going to those at the top) and people spent much of this money. The result was that the growth rate accelerated from around 2.0 percent the prior three years to over 3.0 percent in 2018. (We don't have 4 th quarter data yet, which may be delayed by the shutdown, but growth should be over 3.0 percent.)

The jump in growth in 2018 means that the drop in revenue was not due to the economy being weaker than expected, it was due to the fact that the tax rate had fallen by a larger amount than the boost to growth. In fairness to the Trump administration, they had also projected a falloff in revenue due to the tax cut in 2018, but not one that was as large as what we saw.

... ... ...

To this point, there is essentially zero evidence of the promised investment boom. There was respectable growth in investment in the first two quarters of 2018, but growth slowed to just 1.1 percent in the third quarter. It is likely to be even weaker in the fourth quarter due to the drop in world oil prices (less oil drilling), although we won't get these data until the shutdown is over. In any case, there is zero evidence that the tax cut is leading to the sort of investment boom that will qualitatively boost the rate of productivity and GDP growth and provide workers with substantially higher pay.

In this context, the deficits from the Trump tax cut are a problem. If the economy is bumping up against its limits and the labor market is close to full employment, it means a much larger share of output is going to the consumption of the wealthy. That both means less private consumption for everyone else, and it makes it more difficult to have major initiatives that involve substantial spending, such as a Green New Deal or Medicare for All.

The long and short is that the revenue data for 2018 looks pretty bad on its face. It looks even worse on a closer examination.

pieceofcake4 days ago ,

...and perhaps this funny (American?) idea - that economics only exist in order to have some ''Boom'' going -- forever -- and ever - (which everybody knows is NOT possible) - is the root of US problem??!

Paul6 days ago ,

Deficits are not a problem, period. They are a benefit because they keep the boom going, just as lower interest rates forestall a recession. Keynes pointed this out 80 years ago: "Thus the remedy for the boom is not a higher rate of interest but a lower rate of interest! For that may enable the so-called boom to last. The right remedy for the trade cycle is not to be found in abolishing booms and thus keeping us permanently in a semi-slump; but in abolishing slumps and thus keeping us permanently in a quasi-boom." The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, p. 322.

Keeping us out of a recession/slump ought to be the focus of economic policy, not hypothetical questions about the economy "bumping up against its limits" which anti-Keynesians have been obsessed with for years.

skeptonomist Paul 6 days ago ,

Keeping out of bubbles is what keeps us out of slumps (in most cases). The usual pattern is that as conditions improve people put confidence where it does not belong and extend leverage, then financial collapse makes things look bad for everyone - the general (irrational) confidence level is an important economic factor.

Interest rates have an effect on speculation - when rates are low people have to turn to riskier things to make money, and leverage is cheap. Stock prices were very low in 1981 because interest rates were very high and they are very high now partly because interest rates have been very low. The effect on speculation may be a valid reason to raise rates - of course the imaginary threat of inflation is not.

But history indicates it is not a huge effect. The Fed did raise discount rate through 1928 and 1929 up to 6% and this did not seem to slow the development of the stock-market bubble. It is unlikely that the Fed can kill a bubble or boom now by raising at much lower levels. The housing bubble of 2006 was a matter of bad regulation. The Fed was involved in encouraging and then disregarding the bubble, but not by manipulating interest rates. Greenspan was always a cheerleader of deregulation.

Paul skeptonomist 5 days ago ,

"Bubblenomics" was discredited by Keynes:

"Moreover, even if over-investment in this sense was a normal characteristic of the boom, the remedy would not lie in clapping on a high rate of interest which would probably deter some useful investments and might further diminish the propensity to consume, but in taking drastic steps, by redistributing incomes or otherwise, to stimulate the propensity to consume.

"It may, of course, be the case -- indeed it is likely to be -- that the illusions of the boom cause particular types of capital-assets to be produced in such excessive abundance that some part of the output is, on any criterion, a waste of resources; -- which sometimes happens, we may add, even when there is no boom. It leads, that is to say, to misdirected investment." The General Theory p.321

"Thus an increase in the rate of interest, as a remedy for the state of affairs arising out of a prolonged period of abnormally heavy new investment, belongs to the species of remedy which cures the disease by killing the patient." The General Theory p.323.

Causing a recession in order to kill a bubble is madness.

skeptonomist Paul 5 days ago ,

I am not recommending killing a boom or bubble with interest rates. On the contrary I am always recommending against relying on manipulating interest rates to regulate the economy, whether it is to prevent inflation, real or imaginary, or to stimulate the economy in case of recession. While Keynes conjectured that interest rates could have effects, he certainly was very clear in not expecting that they would be sufficient to control the business cycle - see pp. 319-320, the end of Ch. 12 and ch. 24.

What has been destructive in major recessions has not been "misdirected investment", it has been the leveraged and/or fraudulent financial manipulations which maximize profit but which cause rapid collapse when conditions turn bad. Again, interest rates have in practice not been a main factor in this.

Paul skeptonomist 5 days ago ,

"While Keynes conjectured that interest rates could have effects, he certainly was very clear in not expecting that they would be sufficient to control the business cycle"

Really? Then why did he include "Interest" in the title of his magnum opus?

Keynes was adamantly against high interest rates and he favored usury laws: "the rate of interest is not self-adjusting at a level best suited to the social advantage but constantly tends to rise too high, so that a wise Government is concerned to curb it by statute and custom and even by invoking the sanctions of the moral law." The General Theory, p. 351.

Further, he railed against using high interest rates to limit the boom: "The austere view, which would employ a high rate of interest to check at once any tendency in the level of employment to rise appreciably above the average of, say, the previous decade, is, however, more usually supported by arguments which have no foundation at all apart from confusion of mind." The General Theory, p. 327-8.

The rate of interest is critical to economic growth which is why the Fed's role is so important.

skeptonomist Paul 5 days ago ,

The evidence is consistent with what Keynes said about high interest rates - the high rates in the 70's to 80's failed to prevent inflation but caused unemployment to go to 10.8%. The Fed failed utterly in both of its two objectives during that time. Since 2008 record low rates have not produced the claimed boost in investment and growth. This is especially obvious in Europe and Japan where conditions are worse than in the US despite negative interest rates. This is also consistent with Keynes' expectation that interest rates would not be sufficient to overcome variations in the perceived marginal efficiency of capital. The evidence is not consistent with the idea that central banks can control economies with interest rates, or even that their actions are always constructive. That idea was not Keynes'.

Paul skeptonomist 5 days ago ,

"The evidence is not consistent with the idea that central banks can control economies with interest rates."

That is a bridge too far, and Keynes disagrees:

"There is, indeed, force in the argument that a high rate of interest is much more effective against a boom than a low rate of interest against a slump." The General Theory, p. 320.

Slowing a boom with higher interest rates is indeed feasible and that has been Fed doctrine for decades. Obviously, higher interest rates reduce consumption and investment so growth must slow. The high inflation of the 1970s was due to the OPEC oil shocks, not excessively rapid growth of the economy. In fact, growth had been faster in the 1960s with much lower inflation.

RAP77 Paul a day ago ,

I understand why this economic discussion focuses only on interest rates but it leaves out a larger issue. That fact that, on CNBC and elsewhere, financial analysts obsess over interest rates, taxes, and the price of oil in relation to the market illustrates the cluelessness of the financial community. They all applaud "deregulation" without ever specifying which regulations. Do they mean all regulations?

Trump's deregulation of methane emissions, for example, will create future costs that are exponentially larger than any immediate savings to frackers and oil companies. That's just one example. Trump's environmental deregulatory agenda is stupidity writ large.

A much larger threat to world economies (than interest rates) is the huge capital investments in petroleum assets. At some point, those investments will need to be unwound in an orderly fashion but it doesn't seem that anyone is considering how to do that. Eventually, probably sooner than expected, a tipping point will be reached when mass realization of the threat climate change poses to our survival generates a mass panicked exit from petroleum assets which will create a financial crash that dwarfs what we saw in 2008.

Paul RAP77 a day ago ,

Do you remember "Limits to Growth"? Doomsday scenarios have been around for a long time especially in regard to the national debt which supposedly will cause the collapse of our economy sometime soon. I am skeptical about that.

[Jan 24, 2019] Robert Shiller interviewed by Andy Serwer at Davos 2019

[Video] He views housing prices as a leading indicator, but he is not ready to forecast slowdown yet. Yes Home Sales Sank 6.4% in December . No, a recession isn't about to hit. The International Monetary Fund still thinks the global economy will grow a respectable 3.5% this year . By with the recent downgrade risks are higher and probably highest since 2010.
As for 2019 he said we are always at risk entering the recession. He thinks that as in June there will be the longest recession, that might be time for a recession including in housing market. Inverted curve is a sign of such comes are coming.
Housing market is closing down and that can lead to recession, but he is not giving it probability higher that 50 for this year. He also mentions that real interest rate of short end there are not much above inflation.
Jan 24, 2019 | finance.yahoo.com

Yale Economics Professor and Nobel Laureate Robert Shiller spoke with Yahoo Finance at Davos, telling Editor-in-Chief Andy Serwer: "People are starting to think housing is expensive, and that could lead to a turnaround and a drop in home prices. But I'm not ready to forecast that yet."

[Jan 24, 2019] Rubenstein predicts near-term resolutions on U.S.-China trade 'dispute' govt. shutdown

[Video]
Interesting discussion... He said tariff might not work as expected. He does not think recession in probable in 2018 but later it might became inveitable
14% are functionally illiterate. Those people are at he bottom and will stay at the bottom.
Jan 23, 2019 | finance.yahoo.com

David Rubenstein, Co-Founder and Co-Executive Chairman of The Carlyle Group, sits down for a one on one with Yahoo Finance editor-in-chief Andy Serwer at the World Economic Forum's annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland. They discuss U.S.-China relations, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, income inequality, the government shutdown, and more.

[Jan 24, 2019] Davos 2019 the thing that scares hedge fund titan Ray Dalio the most

Jan 24, 2019 | finance.yahoo.com

Speaking at a panel discussion on the first day of the World Economic Forum (WEF) , Dalio said: "The US, Europe, China – all of those will experience a greater level of slowing, probably a greater level of disappointment.

"I think there's a reasonable chance that by end of that, monetary policy and fiscal policy will have to become easier relative to what is now discounted in the markets.

He added: " What scares me the most longer-term is that we have limitations to monetary policy, which is our most valuable tool, at the same time as we have greater political and social antagonism.

"So the next downturn worries me the most. There are a lot of parallels with the late 1930s.

READ MORE: Ray Dalio's three-step formula for anyone to start investing

"In 1929-1932 we had a debt crisis, and interest rates hit zero. Then there was a lot of printing of money and purchases of financial assets which drives financial assets higher.

"It creates also a polarity, a populism and an antagonism. We also had at that time the phenomenon of a rising power, like China, dealing with conflict with an existing power.

"These types of political issues are now very connected to economic issues in policy."

Asked at the summit in Switzerland about increasing debt levels and signs of a global slowdown, Dalio said the world economy was in the later stages of a short-term debt cycle.

READ MORE: What is Davos? The 2019 World Economic Forum explained

He said there had been an "inappropriate, mistaken desire to tighten monetary policy at a level that was faster than what the capital markets could handle."

The renowned 69-year-old investor, who authored a free book called ' Principles for Navigating Big Debt Crises', also offered his take on corporate debt levels.

He said: "W hen we cut corporate taxes and made interest rates low enough that it was attractive enough to buy financial assets, particularly by companies having mergers and acquisitions, that caused a lot of growth in corporate debt. And that growth in corporate debt was used to finance the purchases. That is going to be less."

He suggested a slowdown could increase the link between politics and economic policy, and predicted increased debate over a 70% income tax rate next year.

[Jan 24, 2019] Stockman about Vichy left

Jan 24, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

mauisurfer , Jan 23, 2019 11:02:14 AM | link

best ever from Stockman

Trump Derangement Syndrome and the NATO Fetish of the Progressive Left
by David Stockman Posted on January 23, 2019

https://original.antiwar.com/David_Stockman/2019/01/22/trump-derangement-syndrome-and-the-nato-fetish-of-the-progressive-left/

[Jan 24, 2019] No One Said Rich People Were Very Sharp Davos Tries to Combat Populism by Dean Baker

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... the Davos crew is trying to combat populism, according to The Washington Post . It is kind of amazing that the rich people at Davos would not understand how absurd this is. ..."
"... The real incredible aspect of Davos is that so many political leaders and news organizations would go to a meeting that is quite explicitly about rich people trying to set an agenda for the world. ..."
"... It is important to remember, the World Economic Forum is not some sort of international organization like the United Nations, the OECD, or even the International Monetary Fund. It is a for-profit organization that makes money by entertaining extremely rich people. The real outrage of the story is that top political leaders, academics, and new outlets feel obligated to entertain them. ..."
"... Davos ought to be treated as a conspiracy against labor, representative government, environmental regulation and decent living standards, but of course our admiring national press corps doesn't see it that way -- their bosses attend, after all. ..."
"... It may be best to avoid the term "populist" because it tends to be applied indiscriminately to the likes of Trump and to leftist reformers. Or if it is used for Trump it should be "fake populist". Opposition to corporatist globalization can be populistic, but Trump's version so far has been mostly fake. ..."
"... Two kinds of populism: rightwing populism (which often looks like fascism) and leftwing populism. They are quite different critters and they don't have a lot to do with each other though they agree on a few things. ..."
"... People REALLY need to re-read 1984 & refresh their memories of Orwellian good-is-bad brainwashing ..."
"... Trump is a rightwing populist, but it is very confusing. In the US anyway and often in general, rightwing populists are NOT the enemies of the rich. Note Mussolini and Hitler. Fascism really is a type of rightwing populism. ..."
"... Rightwing populism pretends to be for the people and is to some extent (protectionism, isolationalism, nationalism) but in a lot of other ways, it's just fake and it's always a cover for class rule and rule by the rich. ..."
"... The rich will go to fascism or rightwing populism if they get a threat from the Left (read Trotsky), but they don't really like them very much, think they are classless brutes, barbarians, racists, bigots, etc. ..."
"... They're not worried about Donnie. He's no class traitor. They're worried about the populism of the Left and possibly about rightwing populism in Europe. Bolzonaro and Trump are hardly threats to capital. ..."
"... He pretends to be a populist because it helps him. For example, he doesn't care about illegal immigration. He's been happy to hire undocumented workers his whole life, even now in office. But it gets his base fired up so he rails about immigration. He has no ideology, he will use whatever helps him. ..."
"... Rightwing populism is NOT cool in my boat. Rightwing populism is Bolsonaro. It's Duterte too, but that's a bit different, he's a bit more pro-people. Erdogan is a rightwing populist too, but he's rather socialist. Marie Le Pen is out and out socialist and she gets called rightwing populist. Orban is 5X more socialist than Venezuela and he gets called rightwing populist. It's all very confusing. ..."
"... But in the US and Latin America, rightwing populism is ugly stuff all right, and it tends to be associated with fascism! ..."
Jan 22, 2019 | cepr.net
Let's see, cattle ranchers are against vegetarianism, coal companies are against restricting CO2 emissions, and the Davos crew is trying to combat populism, according to The Washington Post . It is kind of amazing that the rich people at Davos would not understand how absurd this is.

Yeah, we get that rich people don't like the idea of movements that would leave them much less rich, but is it helpful to their cause to tell us that they are devoting their rich people's conference to combating them? The real incredible aspect of Davos is that so many political leaders and news organizations would go to a meeting that is quite explicitly about rich people trying to set an agenda for the world.

It is important to remember, the World Economic Forum is not some sort of international organization like the United Nations, the OECD, or even the International Monetary Fund. It is a for-profit organization that makes money by entertaining extremely rich people. The real outrage of the story is that top political leaders, academics, and new outlets feel obligated to entertain them.


pieceofcake pieceofcake a day ago ,

And the fact that so many Americans -(and especially American workers) still mistake Von Clownstick as a so called ''Populist'' - and being on their side - is... unbearable!

Robert Lindsay pieceofcake 12 hours ago ,

He IS in fact a rigthwing populist of a sort. That's what rightwing populism in the US looks like, and what it's always looked like. Bunch of crap huh? Gimme Marie Le Pen any day.

Woodshedding a day ago ,

"The real incredible aspect of Davos is that so many political leaders and news organizations would go to a meeting that is quite explicitly about rich people trying to set an agenda for the world." \

Agreed - like how people almost worship British Royals.. or American celebrities... and yet, unfortunately, isn't it true that the greedmongers at Davos are not "trying," but rather "largely succeeding" at setting said world agenda?

Robert Lindsay pieceofcake 12 hours ago ,

Trump is a rightwing populist in fact. Nasty critters, aren't they?

pieceofcake Robert Lindsay 7 hours ago ,

''Nasty critters, aren't they''?

Yes!

Dwight Cramer 2 days ago ,

Nothing to see here, folks, move right along . . .

Davos and TED Talks. One entertains the rich, the other the smart. The skiing is better at Davos, the ideas are better at a TED Talk. Just remember, most of the rich aren't smart and most of the smart aren't rich. So it's all rather silly, 'though it's easier to get rich if you're smart than it is to get smart if you're rich. Don't ask me how I know that, but I'll tell you, if you have an ounce of human kindness in you, learning the second half of that lesson is more painful than the first.

None of this would be half as much fun outside the glare of publicity, or if not heavily spiced with the envy of the excluded.

Ishi Crew Dwight Cramer 19 hours ago ,

in my view half of ted talks are extremely stupid; the other half are basic 101 (eg j Hari).

Dwight Cramer Ishi Crew 17 hours ago ,

Ishi--I don't disagree with you. Just not as stupid as the Davos drivel. Perhaps I should have said 'less bad' ideas, but I liked the cadence of 'better' and 'better.' Gotta have cadence if you want to get the People Marching.

jake • 2 days ago ,

Davos ought to be treated as a conspiracy against labor, representative government, environmental regulation and decent living standards, but of course our admiring national press corps doesn't see it that way -- their bosses attend, after all.

pieceofcake jake 2 days ago ,

Firstly we have to treat the so called ''Populists'' as a conspiracy against labor - because they pretended in the utmost conspirational way to be on labors side.

While It always was as clear as mud that Davos was a Party of the Rich!

skeptonomist pieceofcake 2 days ago ,

It may be best to avoid the term "populist" because it tends to be applied indiscriminately to the likes of Trump and to leftist reformers. Or if it is used for Trump it should be "fake populist". Opposition to corporatist globalization can be populistic, but Trump's version so far has been mostly fake.

Robert Lindsay skeptonomist 12 hours ago ,

You guys need to read up. Two kinds of populism: rightwing populism (which often looks like fascism) and leftwing populism. They are quite different critters and they don't have a lot to do with each other though they agree on a few things.

Woodshedding skeptonomist a day ago ,

That's basically my take, too. The term is purposely misused by the propagandists to get normal people thinking "Populism" must be something they don't like. People REALLY need to re-read 1984 & refresh their memories of Orwellian good-is-bad brainwashing. [and even "brainwashing" is an orwellian term! Brain-NUMBING, maybe... but nothing's getting cleaned, that's for sure]

Robert Lindsay Woodshedding 12 hours ago ,

Nope US rightwing populism has often looked a lot like Trump's crap. I mean some of it was better. I have a soft spot for Huey Long. But in the US, rightwing populism just helps the rich mostly and it tends to be fascist.

pieceofcake Woodshedding a day ago ,

''The term is purposely misused by the propagandists to get normal people thinking "Populism" must be something they don't like'' You mean some con-artists have conned people who liked the term ''Populism'' into liking idiocy - racism and nationalism?.

Robert Lindsay pieceofcake 12 hours ago ,

Rightwing populism is indeed often nationalism + racism. That's how it works.

pieceofcake skeptonomist 2 days ago ,

- ''it tends to be applied indiscriminately to the likes of Trump and to leftist reformers''.

Only some very Confused (Americans?) confuse Idiotic (''Rightwing) ''Populists'' with Social (Leftwing) ''Socialists''.

Robert Lindsay pieceofcake 12 hours ago ,

Rightwing populists are indeed a thing. Wikipedia is your friend. Just because they suck ass doesn't mean they don't exist, comrade.

It's very common to get mixed up about the types of populism and jumble them all together though.

Robert Lindsay pieceofcake 3 hours ago ,

Trump is a rightwing populist, but it is very confusing. In the US anyway and often in general, rightwing populists are NOT the enemies of the rich. Note Mussolini and Hitler. Fascism really is a type of rightwing populism.

Rightwing populism pretends to be for the people and is to some extent (protectionism, isolationalism, nationalism) but in a lot of other ways, it's just fake and it's always a cover for class rule and rule by the rich.

The rich will go to fascism or rightwing populism if they get a threat from the Left (read Trotsky), but they don't really like them very much, think they are classless brutes, barbarians, racists, bigots, etc.

But the rich allow them because they think they can control them and not let them get out of hand. This is what happened in Germany. This is what often happens actually.

In a sense, rightwing populism IS fake populism because it pretends to be for the people while often fucking them over with rightwing class rule via fascism. It's still populism, it's just not for the people. It's fraudulent, iike most rightwing bullshit.

pieceofcake 2 days ago ,

- AND! -
to suggest - or imply? - that the type of ''Populism'' Trump -(and other so called ''Populists) represent - IS to ''leave the Davos Crowd much less rich'' -
could be the funniest thing ever written on this blog?

Robert Lindsay pieceofcake 12 hours ago ,

They're not worried about Donnie. He's no class traitor. They're worried about the populism of the Left and possibly about rightwing populism in Europe. Bolzonaro and Trump are hardly threats to capital.

Lord Koos pieceofcake 2 days ago ,

Trump is not a populist, even if he appeals to them. He's a very wealthy man who looks out for his rich friends.

DAS Lord Koos 8 hours ago ,

He pretends to be a populist because it helps him. For example, he doesn't care about illegal immigration. He's been happy to hire undocumented workers his whole life, even now in office. But it gets his base fired up so he rails about immigration. He has no ideology, he will use whatever helps him.

Robert Lindsay Lord Koos 12 hours ago ,

He actually has a lot of traits of a rightwing populist, US style, but then that's always been a suckhole anyway.

pieceofcake Lord Koos 2 days ago ,

''Trump is not a populist, even if he appeals to them. He's a very wealthy man who looks out for his rich friends''.

How true - but as most of the current so called ''Populists'' are just as ''non-populist'' as Trump - it might be time to find a new ''expression''.

Robert Lindsay pieceofcake 3 hours ago ,

Typical rightwing populism, which isn't really pro-people anyway, just another rightwing fraud.

pieceofcake pieceofcake 2 days ago ,

and to makes sure not to be misunderstood - I also think Davos is ''pathetic'' and ''hypocritical'' - and everything else one wants to throw at it -
BUT as one of my favorite American Philosophers said:

"Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity."

And I think he meant the current ''Populists'' of this planet! -(and lets include especially the Brazilian one too)

pieceofcake 2 days ago ,

But isn't it GREAT- that also ''the rich'' are starting to battle morons and a...holes like Baron von Clownsticks -(or the nationalistic idiots in the UK - or the Neo Nazis in Germany?) -

For I while I thought I was left ALL alone in order to battle the type of ''Populism''- which is nothing else than the sick racist phantasies of some nationalistic a...holes?

Robert Lindsay pieceofcake 12 hours ago ,

Rightwing populism is NOT cool in my boat. Rightwing populism is Bolsonaro. It's Duterte too, but that's a bit different, he's a bit more pro-people. Erdogan is a rightwing populist too, but he's rather socialist. Marie Le Pen is out and out socialist and she gets called rightwing populist. Orban is 5X more socialist than Venezuela and he gets called rightwing populist. It's all very confusing.

But in the US and Latin America, rightwing populism is ugly stuff all right, and it tends to be associated with fascism!

[Jan 23, 2019] Another sign of collapse of neoliberal ideology: discussion of 70% tax rate on income over 10 million is no longer viewed as anathema; it is discussed

Jan 23, 2019 | finance.yahoo.com

Billionaire Michael Dell, chief executive officer of the eponymous technology giant, rejected a suggestion by U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of a 70-percent marginal tax rate on the wealthiest Americans.

"No, I'm not supportive of that," Dell said at a Davos panel on making digital globalization inclusive. "And I don't think it will help the growth of the U.S. economy. Name a country where that's worked."

She may not be in Davos, but the New York representative's influence is being felt on the slopes of the Swiss Alps. Three weeks after Ocasio-Cortez floated the idea in an interview on "60 Minutes" to raise the top marginal tax rate on Americans' income of more than $10 million to 70 percent, it was a hot topic at the gathering of the global financial and political elite.

... ... ...

"My wife and I set up a foundation about 20 years ago and we would've contributed quite a bit more than a 70 percent tax rate on my annual income," Dell said. "I feel much more comfortable with our ability as a private foundation to allocate those funds than I do giving them to the government."

Erik Brynjolfsson, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who was on the panel with Dell, said such a rate worked in the U.S. after World War II. But other executives were opposed, including Salesforce.com Inc. Co-Chief Executive Officer Keith Block.

... ... ...

Billionaire investor Ray Dalio suggested that the idea may have legs in the run-up to the U.S. presidential election. Discussing the outlook for a slowing world economy Tuesday, Dalio said that next year will see "the beginning of thinking about politics and how that might affect economic policy beyond. Something like the talk of the 70 percent income tax, for example, will play a bigger role." He didn't mention Ocasio-Cortez by name.

Currently in the U.S., the top marginal tax rate is 37 percent, which takes effect on income of more than $510,300 for individuals and $612,350 for married couples, according to the Tax Foundation.

The fortunes of a dozen attendees at the World Economic Forum in 2009 have soared by a combined $175 billion, a Bloomberg analysis found. The same cannot be said for people on the other end of the social spectrum: A report from Oxfam on Monday revealed that the poorest half of the world saw their wealth fall by 11 percent last year.

[Jan 23, 2019] Under neoliberalism stock market is a casino that might well hurt ordinary people, not help them to create sizable funds for retirement

Under neoliberalism 301K investors are overinvested in stock market essentially feeding Wall Street sharks. The net result even in case of investing strictly in S&P500 are not that great. From 2000 to 2019 S&P rose from approximately 1400 to 2600 or 1200 points in 18 years. That's around 4.7% per year. Adding dividends that's around 6%. As you add money each year for this 18 years period you will realize only half of this return or 3% a year which is close to 30 years bond return (they are tax free, unlike S&P500) and barely beats inflation.
401K was an ingenious design to enrich Wall Street the staple on neoliberal attack on middle class
Notable quotes:
"... Samuelson was responding to my recent publications advocating expanded insurance, futures, and options markets to mitigate the financial risks – for example, those related to housing prices and occupational incomes – that ordinary people face. He said that these markets could, if pitched to the general population, turn into "casino markets," with people using them to gamble, rather than to protect themselves. ..."
Jan 23, 2019 | www.project-syndicate.org

Morality and Money Management by Robert J. Shiller - Project Syndicate

Advising people simply to hold the market is advising them to free-ride on the wisdom of others who do not follow such a strategy. If everyone followed Bogle's advice, market prices would turn into nonsense and would provide no direction to economic activity. 3

I remember exactly when I began to appreciate the complexity of the moral issues money management entails: October 8, 2009. I received a phone call from the eminent MIT economist Paul Samuelson, who had been my teacher when I was a graduate student in the early 1970s. He was 94 years old at the time, and two months later he died. I was so impressed by the call that I took notes on it in my diary.

Samuelson was responding to my recent publications advocating expanded insurance, futures, and options markets to mitigate the financial risks – for example, those related to housing prices and occupational incomes – that ordinary people face. He said that these markets could, if pitched to the general population, turn into "casino markets," with people using them to gamble, rather than to protect themselves.

He then brought up the example of Bogle, who "gave up a billion dollars for a concept," Samuelson said. "He could easily have cashed this in," but he didn't. "The miracle that was Vanguard came from Bogle's principles."

I thought he was right. In the long run, markets reward principled people. But there is still need for an expanded set of risk markets, because these markets can – and do – carry out useful functions, including risk management, incentivization, and orienting business.

The problem is that attention to these markets requires intelligent and hard-working people to help others in their investing. Theirs is not a zero-sum game, for they help direct resources to better uses. And these people must be paid. Even Vanguard, which now has a number of different index funds, hires investment managers and charges a management fee, albeit a low one.

Not every fund needs a low fee. We live in a world where constant and rapid change and innovation require more attention, and attention is costly. While many financial managers are at times unscrupulous, a higher management fee is not always a sign that something is wrong.

But Bogle is still a hero of mine, because he provided an honest product and was motivated by a sincere desire to help people. And he should be a hero to all, because he showed that markets eventually recognize integrity.

[Jan 23, 2019] Trump is Russian asset memo is really neolicon propgaranda overkill

Highly recommended!
Jan 23, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

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

<picture deleted>

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

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

Like His Predecessors

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

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

Used to be that the U.S. mass media only killed people indirectly, by facilitating establishment war agendas in repeating government agency propaganda as objective fact and promulgating narratives that manufacture support for a status quo which won't even give Americans health insurance or safe drinking water. Now they're skipping the middle man and killing them directly by psychologically brutalizing them so aggressively that it ruins their health, all to ensure that Democrats support war and adore the U.S. intelligence community .

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

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

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

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

[Jan 23, 2019] Mainstream Media Is Literally Making People Sick

Jan 23, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Caitlin Johnstone via ConsortiumNews.com,

A new, updated data set is now available on a psychological phenomenon that has been labeled "Trump Anxiety Disorder" or "Trump Hypersensitive Unexplained Disorder," and it says that the phenomenon only got worse in 2018. The disorder is described as a specific type of anxiety in which symptoms "were specific to the election of Trump and the resultant unpredictable sociopolitical climate," and according to the 2018 surveys Americans are feeling significantly more stressed by the future of their country and the current political environment than they were last year.

Pacific Standard reports as follows:

"As the possibility of a Hillary Clinton victory began to slip away -- and the possibility of a Donald Trump presidency became more and more certain -- the contours of the new age of American anxiety began to take shape . In a 2017 column, Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank described this phenomenon as "Trump Hypertensive Unexplained Disorder": Overeating. Headaches. Fainting. Irregular heartbeat. Chronic neck pain. Depression. Irritable bowel syndrome. Tightness in the chest. Shortness of breath. Teeth grinding. Stomach ulcer. Indigestion. Shingles. Eye twitching. Nausea. Irritability. High blood sugar. Tinnitus. Reduced immunity. Racing pulse. Shaking limbs. Hair loss. Acid reflux. Deteriorating vision. Stroke. Heart attack. It was a veritable organ recital.

Two years later, the physiological effects of the Trump administration aren't going away. A growing body of research has tracked the detrimental impacts of Trump-related stress on broad segments of the American population, from young adults to women , to racial and LGBT communities .

The results aren't good."

[Jan 23, 2019] Getting on beneath the vaulted sky by Chris Bertram

January 22, 2019
Early last year, I began to experience some pains in my hands. I associated them with bringing a large turkey back from the butchers. Hadn't taken the car, because parking, but it was heavier than I appreciated and I struggled with the bird as the handles of the plastic bad tore on my fingers. I went to the doctor. Tendons, probably, he said. Most likely be better in a few months.

Then in September, back from a touring holiday in France which had involved a lot of lugging of boxes and cases up and down stairs, the pain was back, worse. I lacked the strength to open cans and bottles. Some movements were fine but turning a knob or using a key sometimes -- ouch!

That's where I am, basically. A few trips to the doctor and the physio later, osteoarthritis it seems. Injections in the thumb joint helped one hand, but less the other. Typing is ok, mostly, but my handwriting is worse. On public transport I steady myself by wrapping my arm around things, since gripping with a hand might hurt. I squeeze a rubber ball from time to time, as building up the muscles supposedly compensates a bit for the damage to the joints.

Not much fun, but could be worse. And only one of many things that comes past your mid fifties (I'm sixty now). I've had more blood tests in the past three years than in the previous thirty put together. Diabetes? No, thank goodness, not yet. Blood pressure is high, if not really dangerously so yet. Swallowing statins every morning, when I remember, to keep the choresterol down.

My father died in the summer of 2017. He was in good form until a week before the end though he'd had his share of health problems over the quarter-century before and a walk to the shops and back would see him needing a rest. We shared conversations to the end. He was lively, still learning German, discussing Edith Wharton. Though we all know that death is coming, a parent going is concrete. You know that will be you soon enough, so better make the best of it and concentrate on what matters.

As I've thought more about the loss of capacity. The aches and pains. The knowledge that there are things you could do but now can't. When you really ought to take more exercise because it is good for your heart and lungs, but when there's every chance that back, knee or hip won't play nicely enough to let you.

I keep returning to an image from a TV programme about John Clare. The picture was of a man on his back with

The grass below -- above the vaulted sky.

When young the vaulting is infinitely distant, and if lucky and not disabled you can vault over obstacles yourself. But age makes the sky close in. In your forties you can see the roof even if you can't touch it. Then, later, if you stretch, your fingers graze the surface. Time comes when you have to be careful not to bang your head. Some while after you stoop and then crouch. The tunnel gets narrower too. There is less space to move and perhaps, eventually, there will be no space at all.

Share this: { 12 comments read them below or add one }

Don A in Pennsyltucky 01.22.19 at 12:02 pm ( 1 )

Statins with dinner. Ask the pharmacist.
Hoping that the pain/stiffness in knuckles since the bicycle accident (2 months ago) continues to self-resolve with OTC anti-inflammatories
Matt 01.22.19 at 12:46 pm ( 2 )
I'm sorry to hear about the hand pain. It's especially bad for people who write for a living. When I was in college, I worked part time in a hospital pharmacy. We used hundreds of bottles of normal saline solution a day. The way that billing worked, each bottle had to have a sticker on it. I'd spend my slow time taking little bottles from a box, pulling a sticker from a strip, putting it on the bottle, and returning it to the box. Within a few months, I could no longer hold a pen or a pencil in my right hand. This was before lap tops, so it was a pretty big problem for a student! I had to refuse to do that task anymore. My hands, which had been strong, still give me trouble from time to time, and get sore easily. It's not fun. I hope yours won't be a persistent problem.
JimV 01.22.19 at 12:52 pm ( 3 )
It sounds like the tennis elbow I had after a long, hard-fought tennis session in my late forties. At the end I noticed I had a death grip on the racket handle which was difficult to loosen. The next day I was trying to leave a conference room at work which had a spring-loaded door knob. I couldn't turn the knob with my right hand, and had to awkwardly use my left hand. It lasted for several months, to the point where I didn't think it would ever heal, but it did eventually. When I did finally dare to play tennis again, I used a compression band around my right forearm, which seemed to help a lot. I never hit the ball as well as I had that day, though.

On the aging thing, I never needed a doctor (that I knew of) until about the age of 67. It has been one darn thing after another since then. (I'll spare the gory details.) I might make 75 but don't expect to see 80 (which of course isn't unusual and more than I deserve). My arm-chair philosophy about it it is that if death (by aging) didn't exist, evolution would have had to invent it, which it did. Otherwise, how can a species adapt to changes in the environment by trying new gene tweaks and combinations, without drastic over-population? For new things to succeed you have to get rid of the old things.

Cervantes 01.22.19 at 2:36 pm ( 4 )
It sounds like the arthritis at the base of the thumb is the biggest problem. It was for me. I couldn't even pick up a piece of paper with my left hand without pain, and it ached constantly. There is surgery available for that, which I got, and it worked. It was quite an ordeal, and it took a year to fully recover, but I got the use of my hand back and the pain is gone. I have arthritis in the distal joints of several fingers, but that is much less of a problem.

The surgery is kind of gross -- they remove the trapezium bone and, in my case, stuff the cavity with a rolled up tendon harvested from the forearm, which eventually ossifies. You will never miss the tendons. Some surgeons use a prosthesis, either a cadaver bone or an artificial product. It's quite painful at first and you have to wear a cast for six weeks, and then undergo rehab, but in the end, for me at least, it was a complete cure. Worth considering.

Omega Centauri 01.22.19 at 3:03 pm ( 5 )
I have chronic several overuse injuries that I used to be able work around athletics wise. But now I'm 67 and they seriously limit the amount of exercise I can get. You adapt and go on. And find other ways to spend your time and energy.

JimV @67. Well if evolution was kind to us we would remain healthy and vigorous then at some random time, boom its over. If the probability of boom was not age dependent, then there would be no difference in one's prospects whether 20 or 90.

Lee A. Arnold 01.22.19 at 4:00 pm ( 6 )
Mild continuous exercise helps including muscle strengthening over your whole body but never overdo, just daily. I walk about 3.5 miles a day, hit a gym in the middle of the walk and work about 20 weight machines, very light weights.

"We used to talk about girls. Now we talk about doctors."

-- Mel Brooks, on gathering with his friends.

Birdie 01.22.19 at 5:07 pm ( 7 )
It appears that sacrificing the body is an essential to join in civilized society in any meaningful way. Nobody else thinks overwork/stress injuries/industrial accidents are a big deal, so what's the matter with you, Bub? A serious "life of the mind" demands serious couch-potatoism. We're all playing in the NFL these days, but it doesn't have to be like that.
DILBERT DOGBERT 01.22.19 at 5:19 pm ( 8 )
Getting old is not for sissies!!!
My mental image of aging comes in two forms. One, is where you start life living in a large mansion of many rooms. Then in middle age you notice that a room is missing. As you age rooms keep disappearing. The next thing you know you are living in a one room hut.
The other is when young you see a clear horizon that seems very very distant. Then you see clouds on the horizon and it seems closer. At my age, 83, I can reach out and touch the fog.
The legs are shot and the pain in my feet is increasing. This time next year I could be in a wheelchair. Other than that life is good.
I encourage my young wife, 72, to keep on keeping on. She has taken that to heart and is riding her horse, skiing, scuba diving and renewing her pilots license. I am keeping on keeping on riding my horse and electric assist bike and living vicariously through my wife's adventures.
otpup 01.22.19 at 7:29 pm ( 9 )
There are probably nutritional approaches (though your doctor will be unbelieving and vegans will be offended). But osteo-a does give indications of being both immune related and a disease of modernity. Anyway ensure adequate fat soluble vitamins (and related minerals) This may require you to eat more saturated fat than is fashionable. Also glycine, and omega 3's. Eliminate any unnecessary PUFA's.
peter 01.22.19 at 9:50 pm ( 10 )
Don A @1:

Statins with dinner + alcohol = indigestion, heart burn and vomiting.

Statins with breakfast + no alcohol = no illness and Cholesterol levels normal.

Alan White 01.22.19 at 10:56 pm ( 11 )
Thanks Chris–this certainly hit home. Since you're only 60 and still working, allow me the presumption of my own data point as one of hope. I'm 65 and just finishing my first year of retirement after nearly 40 years of teaching at a 4/4 branch of the U of Wisconsin. Like you I've experienced some health concerns over the past 15 years including mild hypertension. Since I loved my career (down to the last day in the classroom), I didn't know what to expect when I was gently pushed out of it with a generous buy-out and threats of commuting to teach part of my load (I'd done that for 10 years and detested it). What I discovered is that I had no idea how stressful even a career that one enjoys can be! Within months I had lost 15 pounds and my BP went down, even a bit below normal, with no medication. I've been active my whole life, but clearly being out of the day-to-day grind of academic prep and research made the whole difference. My hope is that when you do retire, you find these same benefits.

One exercise that I've become devoted to is the elliptical machine on my campus, which I still may use as emeritus. It does a great job putting my heart to the test without straining my knees, which feel the effects of 40 years of running.

Chip Daniels 01.23.19 at 1:38 am ( 12 )
It is a turning point of sorts, that moment when you can actually grasp the length of time ahead of you.

I'm 58 and remember how even into my 30s, the remaining time in my life seemed to stretch away into inconceivable distance. Then somewhere in my 40s, I realized that even if I lived to a ripe old age, I could actually grasp how long that remaining time was.

I could remember forty odd years ago, I could suddenly understand that forty odd years into the future, my memories of midlife would be as fresh and sharp as my memories of kindergarten were.

[Jan 23, 2019] Kamala Harris, Opportunist to the Core Launches Prez Bid on MLK Day, Since She Has to Remind People She's Black After Criminal

Gonna be brutal primary.
Notable quotes:
"... most will not be eligible to work as firefighters in the future due to their records ..."
Jan 23, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

How is it legal , January 22, 2019 at 9:32 pm

Thank you.

I'm Glad Kamala's California Attorney General Office's: what about the lost California revenues from the – in for years – non violent petty theft and petty drug (opioid prescriptions, weed, DUIs, et al) prisoners if we let them out, made it into your piece. Referenced on the ShadowProof link (only):

In 2014, lawyers for Kamala Harris argued in court that if minimum-custody inmates were released early, the state of California would "lose an important labor pool." These inmates included firefighters, who are paid $1 an hour to confront some of the deadliest blazes in California history. Harris later argued that she was unaware her own office argued in favor of keeping parolees in jail so they could serve as the state's on-call cheap labor.

So many recent Kamala Harris critiques leave it out, even though those 'news' sites are (or should be) aware of it. It was a very big deal at the time, since California had (still has) a huge over incarceration issue, which was even noted by the over incarcerating US Federal Government, which took Jerry Brown to task about his huge prison overload. Kamala blamed the revolting argument to maintain inhuman California prisoner revenues – versus releasing non violent prisoners who more than served their time – on her underlings. She claimed to be totally unaware of their actions. Who, in their right mind, believes that Kamala was utterly unaware of how her employees portrayed her objectives?

WheresOurTeddy , January 23, 2019 at 12:00 am

oh it gets even better – once those $1-a-day not-firefighters are paroled, most will not be eligible to work as firefighters in the future due to their records

Never forget:

KAMALA HARRIS IS A COP

Scoaliera , January 22, 2019 at 9:42 pm

Weirdly, she seems to be doubling down on the I'm A Cop thing.

"For the People" is what every prosecutor tells the judge and jury when she introduces herself at the beginning of a case in court, and given the endless stream of tv shows about cops and prosecutors, a lot of voters in America will have seen a prosecutor (well, an actor playing a prosecutor) standing and saying, "Jane Doe for the People, your honor!" approximately one hundred thousand times. She's never going to leave the issue of prosecutorial misconduct behind her; her slogan reminds people on every ad and every piece of campaign literature.

I suppose her people may think Democratic voters like that sort of thing. If they're right, we're doomed, but I have some hope that maybe we're not that far gone yet.

[Jan 23, 2019] The wall, barrier system or whatever you want to call it presently exists on a number of sections of the border

A lot of grandstanding over a minor issue.
Jan 23, 2019 | turcopolier.typepad.com
Concerning the partial shutdown and and the border barriers 1 - The banks, credit unions and any other financial institutions that can lend money are missing a chance to build a lot of good will in this situation. Good will is an item that any good business plan must take into account even of it is impossible to quantify on paper. Good will leads to more customers. Businesses want to acquire more customers. The 800k federal employees now on furlough have legislated assurance that their back pay will be quickly forthcoming when the pause ends. Sooo! Make them no interest loans in the amount of their postponed pay. You will not be sorry if you do that. I don't know if that could be extended to contract employees since the contract that includes their services may not insure back pay.

2 - The wall, barrier system or whatever you want to call it presently exists on a number of sections of the border. Pelosi, Schumer and the other Democrats who prattle about the "immorality" and uselessness of physical border defenses should be asked each and every day if they want the present border barriers demolished so that anyone can cross the border whenever they want and anywhere they want. California is the destination of choice of these economic migrants. If the border barriers are taken down, there will be IMO a mass migration into what is now the United States and especially into California from Latin American and then inevitably from all over the world. Ask the Democrats, every day if they want the existing border barriers taken down, Ask them! pl


TTG , 4 hours ago

The current fight over "the wall" and funding for that wall is pure politics on both sides. We are under a partial government shutdown for the sake of a symbol. Some kind of border barrier has been in existence since the 90s and the "Secure Border Act" of 2006 called for close to 700 miles of double fence barriers. Both Republican and Democratic legislatures and presidencies have maintained and added to this fencing as well as doubling the size of the CBP. According to a December 2016 GAO report on securing the SW border, the CBP spent $2.4 billion between 2007 and 2015 to deploy tactical infrastructure (TI) - fencing, gates, roads, bridges, lighting and drainage infrastructure distributed along the entire SW border area. That includes 654 miles of fencing and 5,000 miles of roads.

A total of $1.7 billion was appropriated in FY17 and FY18 for new and replacement barriers and fences. Most of those funds have been obligated to the Corp of Engineers and much of that has been awarded to contractors. Only a small percentage (6%) has been paid out for completed contracts. The following projects account for close to half of those funds:

- In New Mexico to replace 20 miles of fencing with bollard wall for $73 million. Contract was awarded in February 2018. Construction started in April 2018 and was completed in September 2018.

- In the Rio Grande Valley to build 8 miles of 18 foot bollard wall and replace existing levee wall for $167 million to begin in February 2019.

- In Arizona to build/replace 32 miles of "primary pedestrian wall" for $324 million to begin in April 2019.

- Near San Diego to replace 14 miles of 8-10 foot metal wall/fence with 18-30 foot tall bollard wall system for $287 million to begin in July 2019.

Trump's current demand for $5.7 billion covers an additional 243 miles of fencing mostly in the Rio Grande Valley. It'll probably be 2020 before a single bollard is set from that $5.7 billion and several years after that to issue the contracts and complete the construction. Given the shortcoming in the present border fences, that $5.7 billion would be better spent on replacing the present barriers in the most needed areas rather constructing new fence in less vulnerable areas. Just to maintain and replace what we have should require close to a billion dollars a year. I say again, this current battle over $5.7 billion for "the wall" is political posturing by both sides.

The more important demand made by Trump was the $800 million to address the humanitarian crisis on the border. These funds would provide for improved care/processing of refugees/asylum seekers, 2,750 more border agents and 75 more immigration judges. In my opinion, that would be a wise expense. I think there ought to be ten times that number of new border agents/officers to better address the refugee problem (humanitarian crisis) which will probably remain for many years. Climate change is making drought, hurricanes, floods and mudslides the new normal in Central America. The farming economy in this region, which includes southern Mexico is collapsing. Local governments are dysfunctional and impotent. These people are going to migrate or die in place.

If you want to declare a national emergency, we could use eminent domain to condemn and buy a lot of farmland at cost from corporate agribusinesses and start a "40 acres and a mule" program for refugee farm families and any native American family who desire a new start.

Mark Logan -> TTG , 2 hours ago
Have to agree. Trump only asked for $1.6 billion for his wall in his 2019 budget...and got it. He then decided to have a fight, one that he was loath to have when the Republicans held the majority in the House.

IMO Pelosi and co have also decided this is a good place to have a Waterloo. This isn't a struggle for a wall it's a struggle for dominance. They await a tide of public opinion to decide it.

Eugene Owens -> TTG , 3 hours ago
A pox on both their houses!
John P. Teschke , 9 hours ago
They should shut down the whole regime. The first things to be shut down should be the myriad of bases occupying foreign soil, particularly the bases that support the destabilization of middle eastern countries. ReplyShare › Twitter Facebook
James Thomas , 9 hours ago
I am on the left and I don't have a problem with the wall. That said, if you really want to reduce illegal immigration exit controls would be more effective (and much more cost effective). I went through a whole lot of trouble to get a work visa to work legally in Poland in the late 90s - and I wouldn't have bothered if Poland didn't have exit controls. Almost every country in the world has exit controls ... except for Canada and the US.
Pat Lang Mod -> James Thomas , 7 hours ago
You need a wide variety of techniques. This will of necessity include border barriers.
EdwardAmame -> Pat Lang , 6 hours ago
Oh cut it out. The wall is bullshit. If Trump was actually serious about illegal immigration he'd be pushing E-Verify for all US businesses to determine the eligibility of employees. But the GOP business lobby would never allow that so we get dog and pony shows like this so that Trump can act like he really means business.
Pat Lang Mod -> EdwardAmame , 14 minutes ago
Well, at last you have made a logical point. E-verify should be made mandatory. You would probably loose a lot of friends if it were. BTW, your many insulting comments today have caused me after many years to ban you.
ex-PFC Chuck , a day ago
With regard to #1 I'm not holding my breath. Fundamental to the financial sector's business model is opportunistic predation. As Michael Hudson relentlessly documents in his recently published and forgive them their debts: Lending, Foreclosure and Redemption from Bronze Age Finance to the Jubilee Year , it has been this way since money was invented in the ancient Near East over five thousand years ago. In today's world few banksters can be expected to forego invoking the fine print terms regarding the late fees and interest rate hikes, especially considering the fact the careers of the CEOs and CFOs of publicly traded companies live or die by the next quarterly earnings report.
https://amzn.to/2TfN2ht
Sadly Hudson's important book is getting little traction. He could only get this published on a print-to-order basis in spite of the fact he has about a dozen prior books to his credit. As a PtO book it will not be stocked by chain book stores.
MP98 , a day ago
They would never admit it, but of courser the Democrats want all the barriers gone and an open border.
There are approx. 22 mil. illegal aliens in this country and the Democrats want more and more.
Then they can push for amnesty (which the swamp Republicans, in their gross stupidity, will go along with) and PRESTO: 22 mil. plus entitled Democrat voters.
Who needs those redneck goober
MP98 , a day ago
They would never admit it, but of courser the Democrats want all the barriers gone and an open border.
There are approx. 22 mil. illegal aliens in this country and the Democrats want more and more.
Then they can push for amnesty (which the swamp Republicans, in their gross stupidity, will go along with) and PRESTO: 22 mil. plus entitled Democrat voters.
Who needs those redneck goober (white male)Trump voters, anyway?
Eugene Owens , 4 hours ago
http://www.hurriyetdailynew...
ex-PFC Chuck , 6 hours ago
As Philip Giraldi points out in a post a The Unz Review today, the Democratic establishment isn't opposed to walls per se. It depends on who's building it and for what purpose.

http://www.unz.com/pgiraldi...

RaisingMac , 7 hours ago
Pelosi, Schumer and the other Democrats who prattle about the immorality and uselessness of physical border defenses should be asked each and every day if they want the present border barriers demolished so that anyone can cross the border whenever they want and anywhere they want The wall, barrier system or whatever you want to call it presently exists on a number of sections of the border.

In honor of Sen. Chuck 'Shomer', I vote that we call our border barrier a fence , just as Israel does:

Play Hide
Pat Lang Mod -> RaisingMac , 5 hours ago
You are repeating what I wrote? Tell the Dems, not me.
Lewis.Ballard , 10 hours ago
Sir: While not directly on point, I knuckled under and signed up with Disqus simply to say how much I have appreciated this committee of correspondence over the years. Seeing your post recently about conversing with Glubb Pasha was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back.
Eric Newhill , 13 hours ago
IMO, we should sell coastal California to Mexico for $100 billion. Then use that money to build a wall from Oregon to Brownsville, TX. Solves two problems in one fell swoop.
It sure does seem like the lenders are missing an excellent opportunity for a nearly risk free public relations campaign as well as sales opportunities. Get these furloughed workers in the door and give them a furlough loan and then get them interested in home loans, auto loans...whatever they're qualified for. Should be a no-brainer.
Pat Lang Mod -> Eric Newhill , 11 hours ago
I would rather buy Baja California from Mexico.
peter hodges -> Pat Lang , 3 hours ago
We would still be stuck with LA and the Bay Area.
Pat Lang Mod -> peter hodges , 11 minutes ago
Why?
Stuart Wood , 16 hours ago
Trump, his wall, and the shutdown

Trump is our chief executive charged with the day to day running of the government and the proverbial "making the trains run on time" for government functions. All these functions work for him, not the legislative branch. His partial shutdown of the government reminds me of the classic film Blazing Saddles where the black sheriff, played by Cleavon Little, takes himself hostage by holding a gun to his own head to hold off a mob angry at having a black appointed sheriff for their town. It worked in the film. Let's hope it does not work in Washington.

Fred -> Stuart Wood , 14 hours ago
"This, I believe, is what the majority of the populace want." ... " his wall"
I believe that is why he won the election.
Harlan Easley -> Fred , 12 hours ago
Fred, just finished the book you recommended "A Disease in the Public Mind - Why We Fought the Civil War" by Thomas Flemming. The most balanced and fair nonfiction historical book I have read on this subject.

Also depressing because History is repeating itself. Not rhyming but repeating itself. The modern day abolitionist is convinced of their morale superiority over the deplorables. Just look at the Fake News regarding the Catholic School boys. One abolitionist said on Twitter that he wish they were dead along with their parents.

I hate the agenda of the Paul Ryan wing of the Republican Party but I hate these modern day abolitionist more since they desire to kill people just because they don't agree with their transgender, open borders anarchy, and taxes on the little guy for a Climate Change problem that doesn't exist. The Yellow Vest movement is a push back against this madness.

Instead of talking Medicare for All, jobs for everyone, prosperity, taking care of your countryman the political narrative is on bizarre subjects due to the Elite knowing Globalization is destroying huge sections of Western Civilization. The Yellow Vest have destroyed 60% of the Speed Cameras deployed to catch the little guy going 5 m.p.h. over the speed limit or running a red light that is timed to get you. It has nothing to do with safety and everything to do with raising money off the individuals who are already struggling to survive.

For the top 26 billionaires in the world to have as much wealth as the bottom 3.8 billion people in the world is barbaric. Globalization has led to drastic income inequality and the fuse is burning.

Fred -> Harlan Easley , 9 hours ago
Harlan,

Glad you read the book. I agree when you say " The modern day abolitionist is convinced of their morale superiority over the deplorables." I wrote an early piece about that existential angst of this newest generation. (Hard to believe it has already been two years.) https://turcopolier.typepad...

I think this generation is waking up to having 'been played' by the politicians. What is being missed in this latest effort to control the narrative is 1) Anti-Semitism in the Women's march which led many groups, inluding the DNC, to withdraw support. 2) A turnout that's roughly 90% lower than two years ago and a far, far cry from what was promoted. Others in random order: Unempolyment is way down. The stock market is up almost 10% since the shutdown began. Turmp is directing that the armed forces leave Syria (Afghanistan is probably next) and North Korea is making further move gestures towards actual denuclearization.

Eric Newhill -> Fred , 8 hours ago
What will be interesting to see, in the long run, is if the Democrats can keep the Hispanic vote. Being godless sodomites, the new age abolitionists are making war on Catholics and, it just so happens, that Hispanics, by and large, are serious about their Catholicism.
Pat Lang Mod -> Eric Newhill , 8 hours ago
Yes. It seems likely that the Hispanics will gradually gravitate to the GOP.
EdwardAmame -> Pat Lang , 6 hours ago
Maybe, but not the GOP that currently exists.
Harlan Easley -> Pat Lang , 6 hours ago
I don't see it. California proves otherwise. Texas and Georgia have become competitive because of illegal immigrants having American born kids. The abolitionist say demography is destiny and I tend to agree. Shows how racist they are. And how much they hate white people.

I see the Republican Party becoming noncompetitive to extinct over the next 20 years. And the Democrat Party separating into 2 parties. The Progressive Wing versus the Moderate Wing. Of course it could just all burned down before then and I wouldn't be surprised. I plan to read your book next and have no doubt I will enjoy it. I've read the free excerpts you provided and enjoyed them.

In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if future white generations in America do not emigrate to Russia. I hate to be pessimistic but the monkey brain of man is incurable and hate runs rampant. The modern day white abolitionist will be sideline to the trailer park but they are too stupid to see it.

We need a new party in America that is for all colors of citizens and an economic populist platform along with a social justice system that is vibrant.

The Democrat Party is the most vile/racist/bigoted party in the world right now. This modern abolitionist attitude that killed many innocent Iraqi's due to no fault of their own and believes they can dictate to countries such as Afghanistan, Syria, and Russia on how to live because they are gender neutral is going to come back and destroy them. Either through a home grown movement such as the Yellow Vest or worse to all of our detriment.

Eric Newhill -> Pat Lang , 5 hours ago
Sir, It may already be happening. An NPR/PBS/Marist January poll (that's not Fox/Breitbart) shows approval of the performance of Trump among Hispanics rising from 31% to 50% since the same poll was performed just prior to the shutdown. I can't figure out if Trump is a 10th level Jedi master or if it's a case of the one eyed man being king in the land of the blind.
Pat Lang Mod -> Stuart Wood , 15 hours ago
Ah, the hostage taking meme.
EdwardAmame -> Pat Lang , 6 hours ago
Trump says give me X number of $$s for my border wall (thought balloon over his head says "so I can get re-elected") or I shut down the gov't. What's to keep him from doing it again if the Dems cave this time?

On a side note: it's pretty appalling that you and your mostly Cuckoo bird commenters think this is the way the republic should be run. So sad what happened to this blog.

Greco , a day ago
We have Democrats like Sandy Ocasio-Cortez demanding the abolition of ICE. Is that one of so-called improvements to border security the Democrats are seeking with popular backing?

If left to their devices, the Democrats would happily do away with the border altogether. Don't take my word for it. Take the words of the two-time failed Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. She gave a paid, private speech in Brazil where she claimed, "My dream is a hemispheric common market, with open trade and open borders, some time in the future with energy that is as green and sustainable as we can get it, powering growth and opportunity for every person in the hemisphere." That's all fine and dandy, I'm sure, but oddly she didn't make that proclamation publicly on the campaign trail.

EdwardAmame -> Greco , 6 hours ago
You are so full of shit. Dems want borders and they want border security based on real experience, not a mnemonic device dreamed up by Roger Stone to focus candidate Trump on immigration issues.
Stuart Wood , a day ago
I think you are putting words in Pelosi's and the democrats mouths. I have heard of none of them espousing getting rid of the border barriers. I believe they view a wall as a dumb idea but are for other improvements for border security. This, I believe, is what the majority of the populace want.
Pat Lang Mod -> Stuart Wood , 15 hours ago
Pelosi and any number of other leading Dems have said that border barriers are immoral. The logical conclusion from those statements is that ALL border barriers are immoral. If that is their position then they should advocate removal of existing barriers. If they do not, then they are politically self serving liars.
EdwardAmame -> Pat Lang , 6 hours ago
Bullshit. She said Trump's wall is immoral. My take is that what is immoral referred to using a gov't shutdown to get it.
Stuart Wood -> Pat Lang , 13 hours ago
No. Pelosi said the wall was immoral.
Pat Lang Mod -> Stuart Wood , 11 hours ago
She made it clear that she thinks all barriers are immoral and does not differetiate between the two. Ask her.
mike2000917 -> Stuart Wood , a day ago
The walls in place currently are highly effective. Five billion would put more walls in areas focusing illegal crossers into smaller zones.

The Democrats are all but endorsing open borders. Whether it's just to thwart Trump or if they actually want no borders, the affect is the same.

EdwardAmame -> mike2000917 , 6 hours ago
Tell that to the angry ranchers along the southern Texas borders who think trump's wall is a political stunt that will ruin them economically.

There is no illegal alien southern border crisis in 2019 -- and the migrant caravan that had so many republicans freaked out ultimately wound up in Tijuana, across the wall from San Diego. Because that's where migrant families wind up, at official points of entry so they can apply for asylum.

Pat Lang Mod -> mike2000917 , 15 hours ago
Thank you for your support. Now, tell the Democrat leaders that!
Pat Lang Mod -> Stuart Wood , a day ago
They should be asked.
Britam -> Pat Lang , a day ago
Sir;
The problem with the idea of banks building 'good will' is that the financial sector, by and large, has moved on from old fashioned business models to an 'enrich the insiders at everyone else's expense' model.
My local bank that I use has signs in the lobby directing workers discommoded by the shutdown to apply at the small loan desk. I do not know what incentives are on offer, but my unpleasant experience with the bank once before does not give me much hope of the bank acting altruistically.
William K Black, who headed part of the Federal response to the 'Savings and Loan' crisis in the 1980's has called this trend the building of a "criminogenic environment."
As for the wall fiasco, I would ask Chuck and Nancy; "Who do you consider as being Americans?" Then tell them to serve that group, no one else. The last time I looked, no one had abolished the Nation State.
Thank you for your indulgence.
Barbara Ann -> Britam , 14 hours ago
But that is exactly the problem; global corporations and their lobbyists are doing their utmost to abolish the Nation State. Nation states are a PITA, from the Globalist POV. They make regulations, have borders impeding the rampant denuding of talent pools and worst of all occasionally erect trade barriers to favor their domestic industries. All of this is harmful to the corporate profits of a global business. What we are witnessing in the US and elsewhere is the push back against this drive to maximize profits at the cost of huge sections of national populations.

Trump may be a billionaire businessman with worldwide interests, but real estate is different. It employs largely local labor and is not vulnerable to 'protectionist' government policies in the same way. This is key to understanding how a billionaire like Trump can think and act so differently to the Davos club and billionaires like Bezos.

Mrm Penumathy -> Barbara Ann , 13 hours ago
Totally agree with you. What I can't understand about these politicians from the democratic party or for that matter the main stream media is if we are so internationalized then why all the this drum beating about Russia Russia since we a re all a part of the nice international group of people. Don't they have as much stake who governs in this international brotherhood?
Pat Lang Mod -> Britam , 15 hours ago
My comment on the good will issue means that I am telling them what they would be wise to do.
Bill H -> Stuart Wood , a day ago
Then that is what they should say, rather than the prattle they are currently issuing. Apparently, unlike me, you completed the mind reading class in high school.
Pat Lang Mod -> Bill H , 15 hours ago
Yes, my mind reading skills are legendary.
Bill H -> Pat Lang , 12 hours ago
My mind reading comment was actually addressed to Stuart Wood for his remark about Pelosi and company that despite their words to the contrary, "I believe they view a wall as a dumb idea but are for other improvements for border security."

[Jan 23, 2019] When neoliberalism became the object of jokes, it is clear that its time has passed

Highly recommended!
Jan 23, 2019 | crookedtimber.org

Likbez, Jan 22, 2019

I would also say ideas like people age and gradually become irrelevant no matter how strongly they are propelled by the power of the state and MSM. When neoliberalism became the object of jokes, it is clear that its time has passed.

Neoliberal ideology experienced a severe crisis in 2007 and was by-and-large discredited.

But Neoliberalism as a social system is resilient and can continue to exist for some time even after ideology itself was discredited. Probably 30-50 years, if we think that neoliberalism is a perverted flavor of Trotskyism (Financial elite of all countries unite; Permanent neoliberal revolution until the global victory of neoliberalism) and Bolshevism lasted 50 years after the crisis of its ideology in early 60th.

So I think that neoliberalism entered its "zombie phase." It became more bloodthirsty, aggressive (look at Trump) and even managed to stage revenge in Argentina and Brasil deposing less neoliberal governments with hardcore neoliberal.

But ideas age and die like people and in 2019 the ideas of neoliberalism are essentially dead. So now it is clinging by the pure power of propaganda and coercion. That is the road to nowhere, and I expect this neoliberalism position in the USA will be further undermined by-elections of 2020. Maybe tax regime will start to change to byte top 1%, and maybe there is be local and quickly suppressed insurrections/strikes, like in France; I do not know. But with the level of inequality intact, the cracks might widen.

Degeneration of the neoliberal elite (Trump, Pelosi, Schumer, Pompeo, etc.) is another obvious problem. Filters work in such a way that capable (and this potentially dangerous to the system) people are eliminated at early stages of political selection. That might s danger for the USA is not so distant future as a viable, cohesive society and currently, the Congress really reminds Soviet Politburo. Bunch on Mayberry Machiavelli.

At least in Australia politicians started openly discuss alternatives. Here in the USA, there is dead silence. That means that the Congress is a part of the problem, not a part of the solution.

Another problem is with the level of militarism in the USA society. The size of MIC is a huge problem and like cancer is curable only by surgical means. The fact is that politicians are arguing about 5 billion wall which is something like one percent of F35 program cost ( https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-07-10/f-35-program-costs-jump-to-406-billion-in-new-pentagon-estimate )

At this point, people stop to trust both politicians and MSM re-defining them as "fake news" which means the crisis of legitimacy of the neoliberal elite. And I think that the USA either reached this point or is very close.

That's why the US neoliberal elite decided to cement the cracks in the neoliberal ideological façade via Russophobia in best neo-McCarthyism fashion. The idea is to define the common enemy and mobilizing the society against it, leaving internal frictions on the "day after." But it looks like neoliberalism which Sheldon Wolin defined as "inverted totalities" is bad on mass mobilization. It no longer can produce slogans or politician who can ignite passion of common people. Obama was a fake. So is Trump.

And Russiagate gambit produced some unwanted to neoliberals externalities like the society attention to intelligence-driven machinations and their role as a political force under neoliberalism. Including the role of British intelligence services.

[Jan 23, 2019] We need political mobilization to fight neoliberalism

Highly recommended!
Jan 23, 2019 | crookedtimber.org

For the last couple of weeks, I've been wanting to write a response to Aaron Major's (paywalled) article on ideas and economic power for Catalyst.

Major argues that they don't matter nearly as much as you might think. This means that a lot of recent work focusing on economic ideas leads us in the wrong direction.
And yet, though motivated by a genuine concern for the damage that neoliberalism has done, building a critique of neoliberalism through an idea-centered framework is both politically disarming and reinforces pernicious aspects of the neoliberal project. One of the recurring points that emerges from a close reading of idea-centered accounts of political and economic change is that the materialist social context -- the structure of social divisions formed along economic lines and the way power is distributed across those divisions -- exerts a great deal of influence over both the content of ideas as well as their relative influence. The neoliberal political-economic agenda, like others before it, advances through a favorable balance of social forces while simultaneously trying to obscure the role that power and material advantage plays in its success. If the strength and resilience of the elitist, pro-capital, and dehumanizing policies and practices that are often summarized as "neoliberal" is reduced to, or primarily explained as, the impact of ideas, and those ideas are not grounded in the balance of material forces that gives them shape and influence, then one can easily walk away with the impression that the solution to neoliberalism is found in intellectual debate and critique, and not what is really needed: political mobilization.
Here, in particular, he focuses on the work of Mark Blyth:


Mark Blyth's Great Transformations helped spur the recent surge in idea-centered political economy and so serves as a useful starting point for this discussion. Like other political economists, Blyth argues that transitions from one political-economic era to another are caused by deep, punctuated crisis. However, whereas realist political science imagines perfectly rational actors approaching a crisis like any other problem to be solved, Blyth questions this basic premise. Political actors are not rational, he argues, but rather rely on prevailing norms and ideas to serve as a kind of "instruction sheet" that they follow. During moments of crisis, dominant models of economic management fail, leaving political actors grasping for some way of understanding the nature of the problems that they face and means to address them. This opens the door to once-sidelined experts and intellectuals to chart a new path forward by writing a new, workable instruction sheet.

Major respects what Blyth is doing – but thinks it is nonetheless misconceived.

To make a strong ideational argument stick, it is not enough to show that some ideas mattered for some social or policy change. Rather, one has to be able to support two additional claims. First, that the formation, circulation, and debate over different policy ideas can be explained independent of other material forces. Materialist political economy, from which Blyth is trying to break, does not deny that economic policymaking has an important ideational component of the sort that Blyth describes, but it also insists that material social factors play a powerful agenda-setting role, limiting the scope of policy debate. Second, a strong ideational argument needs to be able to explain why one set of ideas beat out other, competing ideas in purely ideational terms. A strong ideational argument suggests that the victory of one idea over another can be explained by the character of the idea itself, not by the power or position of the actors who champion it. Great Transformations falters on both counts. What Blyth's account reveals, though he never addresses it explicitly, is that the ideas that framed early New Deal policy innovations were themselves shaped by the structures of US industry and agriculture and the strength of competing economic classes. It is because US labor was organized and militant that the Roosevelt administration sought an economic program that would forge an alliance with the working class. The political capacity of social classes not only affected which policies worked, and which policies failed -- it also affected how policies were crafted and which ones were advanced. Blyth's more recent Austerity: History of a Dangerous Idea is marred by the same analytical unevenness the book is hamstrung by the insistence that the story of austerity can be told as a history of ideas. Taken as a whole, Blyth's work points to a critical challenge that scholars have faced in trying to make idea-centered arguments for political and economic change stick, and that is explainingidea selection. Rarely does anything of historical significance happen without heated debate, and the turn to neoliberalism is no exception. Margaret Thatcher may have successfully exported her pithy, dismissive "There Is No Alternative," but her numerous opponents begged to differ. Sides are formed, measures are proposed, and rationalizations are given. But who wins? Blyth's own accounts of major policy change highlights critical moments in times of crisis when state elites were grappling with competing ideas, but neither Great Transformations nor Austerity can really explain why some ideas went on to shape policy and others found their way into the dustbin of history.

[Jan 22, 2019] The elite at Davos may have just destroyed the 2019 stock market rally

Jan 22, 2019 | finance.yahoo.com

Meanwhile, the International Monetary Fund slashed its global growth outlook for 2019 and 2020 the day before the WEF kicked off. Its growth forecasts for China in 2019 and 2020 -- 6.2% -- is lower than most top minds on Wall Street have modeled.

Credit Suisse came out today with a doozy of a 90-page "study" looking at global debt levels. A shout out like this in the report does nothing to engender confidence in risk assets: "Defaults are likely to rise in segments of the corporate debt markets once economic growth weakens more markedly or if monetary policy tightens further; in such a situation, an unwinding of positions could generate significant market stress due to illiquidity."

Credit Suisse Chairman Urs Rohner suggests on the first page of the report that a full-scale global debt blowup is unlikely. But the overall scope of the report is bearish to stocks, trust this writer who read the study in its entirety.

[Jan 22, 2019] Questions We Hear A Lot...

Jan 22, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Questions We Hear A Lot...

by Tyler Durden Tue, 01/22/2019 - 16:27 6 SHARES Via HussmanFunds.com,

"While we don't presently observe conditions to look for a 'buying opportunity' or a 'bottom' from a full-cycle standpoint, we do observe conditions that are permissive of a scorching market rebound, even if it only turns out to be the 'fast, furious, prone to failure' variety. We wouldn't dream of removing our safety nets against a market decline that I continue to expect to draw the S&P 500 toward the 1000 level by the completion of this cycle. Still, we've prepared for the possibility of unusual volatility here, most likely including one or more daily moves in the range of 4-6%, potentially to the upside. Yes, that means one or more daily moves on the order of 100-150 points on the S&P 500 and 900-1300 points on the Dow. You think I'm kidding."

– John P. Hussman, Ph.D., Interim comment, Pre-open, 12/26/18

In recent days, we've heard a number of analysts gushing that the S&P 500 is vastly cheaper than it was only a few months ago. It's worth noting that they're actually referring to an index that is now less than 10% below the steepest speculative extreme in history. The chart below puts current valuations into perspective, using our Margin-Adjusted P/E, which is better correlated with actual subsequent 10-12 year market returns than the price/forward operating earnings ratio, the Shiller CAPE, the Fed Model, and a wide range of alternative valuation measures that Wall Street uses to reassure investors that valuations are anything less than obscene.

As market conditions currently stand, valuations remain extreme and market internals remain negative. So aside from the likelihood of a knee-jerk market spike on any variant of the word "deal," we continue to be in a trap-door situation with respect to market risk. Though we did take the edge off of our negative outlook to allow for a scorching relief rally, my present view is that the overall function of that relief rally has been served.

...

One of the more cringe-worthy features of the behavior of investment professionals here is the spectacle of Wall Street analysts touting the "reasonableness" of valuations on the basis of year-ahead earnings expectations that they themselves are responsible for fabricating. Just as in 2000 and 2007, instead of the investment profession acting as a historically-informed buffer to defend investors against reckless speculation, extrapolative projections like these are actually endorsed and encouraged by the very people who should know better. The chart below is thanks to TopDownCharts .

...though we're inclined to wait for more data, and to look for greater deterioration before identifying a recession, it's important to remember how quickly the data can shift. The amount of time between the peak in economic confidence and the beginning of a recession is usually very short. In general, a uniform deterioration in financial, employment and economic confidence measures, even compared with 6 months earlier, strongly amplifies the risk of a recession, and there's not much lead time at all. Put simply, we want to have a reliable set of confirming evidence, but it's also important to remember how quickly that evidence can emerge .

Questions we hear a lot

Given the volatility of the financial markets in recent months, my sense is that the best comments to offer are those that relate to these questions:

Bull market or bear market?

My impression is that the recent bull market peaked on September 20, 2018, which is also when we observed the largest preponderance of historically useful top signals we've ever seen. As I noted at the time, the only other point that came close was March 24, 2000, the date of the 2000 bubble peak. Still, the primary usefulness of a bull/bear label is to emphasize the potential for steep market losses over the completion of the cycle. As long as one recognizes that risk, there's no need for labels.

It's probably better to recognize that the market remains hypervalued and that market internals remain unfavorable. If internals improve at high valuations, our outlook is likely to shift to something that might be described as "constructive with a safety net." If they improve at substantially lower valuations, we're likely to move to an unhedged or aggressive stance. For now, there's so much downside risk that we'd view an improvement in internals as a "bear market rally," but whatever one might call it, we'd likely be constructive with a safety net. Even that, I suspect, is likely to emerge from lower levels.

Buy stocks or buy bonds?

My impression is that neither provides much prospect for meaningful returns, and 10% off the most obscene valuations in U.S. history isn't what I'd call a "bargain." With the yield curve as flat as we currently observe, the main reason to own bonds is based on the likelihood of a decline in yields in the event of economic weakness. There's some potential for that, but I'd lean toward a mix of Treasury bills, modest bond market durations, high credit-quality, and hedged equity. Our estimated return/risk profile for precious metals shares is also fairly strong here, but given the volatility of those shares, I'd characterize that as a constructive situation rather than an aggressive one. None of these is without risk.

Recession or continued expansion?

We're seeing a good deal of weakness in our leading measures, and a lot of the regional purchasing managers indices and Fed surveys are deteriorating as well, but we don't have a sufficient basis for an outright recession warning. This expansion is very long in the tooth, unemployment is quite low, and the underlying structural growth factors are dismal. So my sense is we're far closer to a recession than to 4% real GDP growth "as far as the eye can see." Given the other factors already in place, be particularly watchful for an ISM Purchasing Managers Index below 50, a move above 4% in unemployment, and a slowdown in employment growth below about 1.4% year-over-year. A decline in aggregate hours worked versus 3-months earlier along with a steep drop in consumer confidence, particularly about 20 points below its 12-month average, would all be strong confirming evidence of an economic downturn.

More rate hikes or a new round of QE?

On December 19, Fed Chair Jerome Powell observed "We've reached the bottom end of the range of what the Committee believes might be neutral." I think that is exactly right. As I observed in the December comment, the combination of low structural economic growth and modest inflation pressure is fairly consistent with the current level of short-term interest rates. Long-term rates would normally be higher in the context of current data, but given the deterioration in leading economic measures (remember, payroll employment and the unemployment rate are two of the most lagging economic measures available), there's little compelling upward pressure.

Don't take hope in Fed intervention to support the market, other than knee-jerk reactions. First, remember that the Fed eased persistently throughout the 2000-2002 and 2007-2009 collapses with no effect. When investors are inclined toward risk-aversion, safe liquidity is a desirable asset, not an inferior one. My view is that it's essential to monitor market internals directly. We don't disclose the details of our own measures, but I've discussed uniformity, divergence, breadth, leadership, price-volume sponsorship, credit spreads, and other factors often enough that the central concept should be clear: when investors are inclined toward speculation, they tend to be indiscriminate about it.

If and when internals improve, virtually anything the Fed does will likely be associated with market gains. If internals continue to indicate risk-aversion among investors, then those knee-jerk "clearing rallies" would best be used as opportunities to sell marginal stock holdings and tighten up hedges.

My impression is that Jerome Powell is highly aware of how loose the cause-and-effect links are between monetary policy and the real economy. But apart from noting that the Fed's workhorse economic model estimates only a 0.2% change in the unemployment rate after 3 years in response to each $500 billion in asset purchases, there's nothing in his past speeches that indicates an intellectual opposition to QE. It's not at all clear that the Fed recognizes its role in creating repeated cycles of bubble and collapse. So we have to allow for another round of QE in response to the next recession. Again, the appropriate response on our part will be to align ourselves with market internals. A favorable shift would likely encourage a constructive or aggressive investment outlook, particularly if valuations have retreated substantially at that point.

Inflation or deflation?

One of the key features of the recent speculative episode has been yield-seeking speculation by investors starved for safe yields. In response, Wall Street and corporate America provided more "product" in the form of low-grade covenant-lite debt. Indeed, the median rating on U.S. corporate debt now stands just one notch above junk. In an economic decline, one should expect a disruptive wave of defaults, with far lower recovery rates than in previous economic cycles.

Now, defaults tend to be deflationary, so what you tend to see is an upward spike in the yields on junk bonds and corporate debt but a downward trend in the yields of securities viewed as being without credit risk, which has historically included Treasury securities. The question is what happens when we begin to run trillion dollar deficits.

In the event of a deflationary economic decline, even one where defaults are higher as a result of all the yield-seeking and low-grade debt issuance of recent years, another round of QE seems likely. Our response to that prospect is simple – we'll take our cue from market internals, particularly given that the entire net total return of the S&P 500 since 2007 occurred when our measures of internals have been favorable, and most of the 2007-2009 collapse occurred when they were not. As I've regularly noted, our problem during the recent half-cycle had nothing to do with valuations or market internals, but with our bearish response to "overvalued, overbought, overbullish" syndromes.

Meanwhile, it's also important to allow for an inflationary economic decline, which would result from a public loss of faith in the ability of the government to run a stable debt/GDP relationship. In that event, all bets on QE are off, and the country will just face a difficult situation, as it has periodically faced before.

The best indicator of inflation is inflation. It's difficult to forecast inflation with macroeconomic variables, because large shifts in inflation are typically linked to discrete events that provoke a loss of confidence in price stability itself, like the trifecta of Great Society deficits, Nixon closing the gold window, and an oil embargo, or the combination of money printing and a supply shock, like using deficit finance to pay striking workers in the Ruhr. Not surprisingly, we'll infer that shift in confidence from uniformity in the behavior of inflation-sensitive asset prices.

There's no economic factor that predicts the rate of inflation better than the rate of inflation itself (and related uniformity in the behavior of inflation-sensitive securities including precious metals, exchange rates, bond prices, commodities, TIPS, and related securities). Just like a shift in market internals, it may be difficult to predict, but it's fairly easy to align yourself with it.

I know that many observers are quietly repeating Milton Friedman's phrase that "inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon." The problem is, you won't reliably see that in the data. As a former economics professor, I get it. The quiet job of the economics profession is to indoctrinate teenagers with purely theoretical models by showing them line-drawings. Nobody ever asks them to spend time staring at actual numbers.

So they become adults – and sometimes even Fed governors – who take theoretical diagrams as reality, for example, the notion that the Phillips curve is a relationship between unemployment and general price inflation, when there's utterly no evidence for it. In fact, as I've regularly argued, when you actually look at A.W. Phillips' data (a century of British unemployment and wage data during a period of stable general prices under the gold standard), the Phillips Curve is actually a relationship between unemployment and real wage inflation.

Of course, money creation and general price inflation are undoubtedly linked when money creation hits the pace of the Weimar Republic or Zimbabwe. But for the U.S., there's no economic factor that predicts the rate of inflation better than the rate of inflation itself (and related uniformity in the behavior of inflation-sensitive securities including precious metals, exchange rates, bond prices, commodities, TIPS, and related securities). Just like a shift in market internals, it may be difficult to predict, but it's fairly easy to align yourself with it.

Rise Of The Machines , 1 hour ago link

Somebody explain to me why you pay 2 x sales for the S&P 500 when the risks on economic growth are on the downside. Please explain Wall Street. Please explain how this is cheap when the price to sales ratio is in bubble territory.

[Jan 22, 2019] Food Cart Lady At Women's March Denies Service To Man... Because He's A Man

The last comment belongs to "grapes are too green" variety ;-)
Jan 22, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Mac Slavo via SHTFplan.com,

In the America of today social justice warriors virtue signaling their tolerance for others have been repeatedly and quite often exposed for the bigots, sexists, and racists that they really are.

DFGTC

"Those whom the gods are about to destroy, they first make mad ..."

MaF , 4 minutes ago link

Why even bother going? These "Women's Marches" are a joke and half the time forces an area of a city to shutdown and "accomodate" then.

[Jan 22, 2019] At this point the Collusion Narrative is like the Pee Tape

And Mueller probably called called Pee Taper.
Jan 22, 2019 | www.theglobeandmail.com

DW1 , 1 week ago

while we are waiting for the final FINAL report of the endless interminable Mueller investigation, perhaps best to review the Mueller report of Feb. 16 2018, and the conclusions it drew: it identified 13 Russian nationals who were part of an organized effort based in the Internet Research Agency. Those 13 Russians were named and indicted; if they step foot in any Western space, they will be arrested and charged.

Oh, and the Americans? none named, none charged, none involved, concludes the Mueller team. This likely presages the wet firecracker of the Mueller final report, and its look into the media echo chamber's bottomless rumour mill.

just as good as you , 1 week ago

You seem to have forgotten the 33 indictments of 'Americans'. You seem to have forgotten the 4 guilty pleas, and the 7 jail terms.

Yada yada yada.

Moseby1 , 1 week ago

Who do you think you're kidding?

Paul Manafort
Rick Gates
George Papadopoulos
Michael Flynn
Michael Cohen
Richard Pinedo
Alex Van Der Zwaan
Konstantin Killmnik

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/2/20/17031772/mueller-indictments-grand-jury

just as good as you , 1 week ago

Kudos. I was just getting tired of typing the list, hence the "Yada yada yada".

Thanks.

Andy_Waxman1 , 1 week ago

Some of it happened pre-campaign, some of it is seriously dumb (Manafort not reporting that he had a contract with the Ukraine), but much is Crimes of the Investigation - that is, a crime caused by investigation. 'You told us you met with him Tuesday, but you met with him Friday, you lied to the FBI, federal crime!' Like John Kelly. The actual meeting wasn't a crime, though. Someone else tried to dangle a poll, "most of which was public," said the NYT. Double dumb.

At this point the Collusion Narrative is like the Pee Tape, waaaaay more Liberal Wishful Fantasy than proof. So far, there's no there there. Just endless breathless NYT CNN and Globe headlines. 'Nuclear war this weekend with NK!' Remember that one? Right wing Birthers were fringe. Left wing Haters are MSM. Big hat, no cattle. Waiting for Bob M.

[Jan 22, 2019] No longer a wild conspiracy theory: The possibility of Trump as Russian agent by Jared Yates Sexton

A nice exa,ple of checkbook journalism... Previously there were a difference between a Professor and a prostitute. No it completely disappeared.
Notable quotes:
"... I canceled my subscription to the Globalist and Mail it'll expire at the end of this month but I must say, I'm going to miss reading all the comedy I finded in this paper, particularly in its comment sections. ..."
"... At this point I think it would be much worse if Trump isn't a Russian agent. At least being a Russian agent would make the ruination of the US a valid goal. If he truly isn't an agent, he's just ruining the US for the fun of it? ..."
"... Trump is not an enemy of America. He is America at its strongest and most sinister form, just the way Wall Street likes it. If Americans want a better society, they'd better stop asking to be led by grifters and take the lead themselves. ..."
Jan 22, 2019 | www.theglobeandmail.com

Jared Yates Sexton is an associate professor at Georgia Southern University. He is the author of The People Are Going to Rise Like the Waters Upon Your Shore: A Story of American Rage.

This is, above all, a very real and very dangerous crisis. The time to wring our hands and hide behind faith and disbelief are over. To fully counter this possible betrayal we must look it dead in the face and begin to change our perception of what is feasible. Mr. Trump has capitalized on the good faith of the American people. In order to start healing, we must accept that, with this administration, with this group, with this movement that Mr. Trump embodies, almost anything is possible.

Opiedog , 3 days ago

What you are witnessing is the decline in American influence and might. This is very similar to the decline of the Roman Empire. Slow degradation of social norms. Donald is not the cause of this but we are in real time witnessing the decline of America.

Ramsey0 , 6 days ago

I canceled my subscription to the Globalist and Mail it'll expire at the end of this month but I must say, I'm going to miss reading all the comedy I finded in this paper, particularly in its comment sections.

dbns , 1 week ago

At this point I think it would be much worse if Trump isn't a Russian agent. At least being a Russian agent would make the ruination of the US a valid goal. If he truly isn't an agent, he's just ruining the US for the fun of it?

MG-TD , 1 week ago

Where is James Bond when you need him?

Unlimited reader , 6 days ago

I'm waiting eagerly for Bruce Willis to show up and save the USA

Globu , 1 week ago

Why the surprise? Mr. Trump is the very embodiment of the same cutthroat capitalism that has defined America since colonization, slavery and the Trail of Tears.

Trump is not an enemy of America. He is America at its strongest and most sinister form, just the way Wall Street likes it. If Americans want a better society, they'd better stop asking to be led by grifters and take the lead themselves.

M. Gavin , 1 week ago

One can see why this is in the Opinion section. It's melodramatic, devoid of facts, offers no reliable sources, fails to demonstrate motives, etc., etc. It's less obvious why the Globe would publish it at all, because "news" like this we can get listening to the barber.

tinman1957 , 1 week ago

This guy isn't offering any news or opinion of concern he is just venting his hatred.

Andrew Smith , 1 week ago

The author is an associate professor of creative writing at a community college and it shows.

Globu , 1 week ago

"Special to the Globe" always translates to chequebook journalism.

wellworn , 6 days ago

He is an associate professor of Writing and Linguistics; there is nothing in the profile to suggest "creative" writing. I suspect that you creatively included the word to discredit the very plausible premise that trump is an agent working for Russia; he certainly is not working for the United States of America.

Personally I believe trump should be thoroughly investigated by the House committee to look at his tax returns and banking records to determine how much money trump and company have earned from Russian sources.

wglenm , 1 week ago

Who chooses the opinion pieces for this newspaper? This article is a completely one sided joke.

just as good as you , 1 week ago

It IS - as you admit - an OPINION.

bdtaylor , 1 week ago

if Trump is such a boob, m_oron, rube and nitwitt that CNN and MSNBC make him out to be, then how has he managed to fool the most sophisticated surveillance network in the world: namely the CIA and NSA. if Trump was a Russian "Manchurian" candidate, does anyone actually think the CIA and NSA wouldn't have figured that out 2 years ago?

All we have are platitudes and no real evidence. Is their a bunch of corrupt people and dealing around Trump, yup (Michael Cohen, Maniford and probably others) is their actual Russian "conspiracy" NOPE.

This entire RussiaGate conspiracy was started by Robby Mook and John Podesta of the DNC (with the support of Clinton) to justify the embarrassment of losing to Trump in 2016. Imagine losing to Trump a complete political novice that Hillary outspent 2.5x (she spent almost $1Bil USD and still LOST).
Turn on your critical thinking and this entire RussiaGate is one big joke.

[Jan 22, 2019] BlackRock CEO Larry Fink Tells Corporate CEOs to Engage in Better Eyewash

Notable quotes:
"... The best approach to retirement would be a more generous Social Security system plus single payer, so that older people don't have to worry about Medicaid crapification like joining a HMO or drug plans and so everyone gets the benefit of limiting drug price increases and getting rid of costly middlemen. You'll notice that Fink said squat about companies needing to do their bit to help with retirement by halting discrimination against older workers. Creating more opportunities for those who want to work to keep working would do a good deal to reduce retirement insecurity. ..."
Jan 22, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

BlackRock CEO Larry Fink Tells Corporate CEOs to Engage in Better Eyewash Posted on January 21, 2019 by Yves Smith One of the sorry spectacles of modern life is having prominent individuals who profit from and serve as prime exemplars of major social ills trying to depict themselves as part of the solution, when they haven't gone through any sort of Damascene conversion o give their virtue-signalling even a thin veneer of legitimacy.

Today's object lesson is Larry Fink, the Chairman and CEO of the ginormous fund manager BlackRock (not to be confused with the private equity/alternative asset manager Blackstone). BlackRock, with $6.2 trillion under management as of October, 2018, is the largest asset manager in the world,.

Fink became a big cheerleader of sustainability in early 2018, which makes him awfully late to this party; "environment, social, and governance" has been an investment fad for well over a decade. We've embedded his 2019 letter letter to CEOs at this end of this post.

One imagines that Fink thinks his missive is forthright, but it doesn't even register as either a "dare to be great" exhortation or an incisive analysis. Instead, it comes off as a rehash of Davos Man worries, with it all too evident that Fink and his fellow travelers are in comfortable denial about the rot in the foundations of the political and social order.

Fink Is the Last to Lecture; He's Patient Zero of the Problem

Nowhere does Fink mention the elephant in the room: high levels of income and wealth inequality. Heavens no. All that populist revolt and decline in faith in globalization is due to the great unwashed masses wanting companies to step in because governments haven't responded adequately. No, I am not making that up. Fink never acknowledges that the sustained war on New Deal safety nets and labor protections, and the resulting rise in insecurity and lack of class mobility are fueling this legitimacy crisis.

Fink can't afford to acknowledge that he exemplifies the problem. Supersized finance sectors have played a big, direct role in the rise in inequality in advanced economies. These studies have also found that the growth in secondary market trading is particularly unproductive in economic terms. And not to belabor the obvious, but rising levels of pay in finance since the early 1980s have also led to a brain drain, particularly of mathematics and physicians who became "quants"

As Dr. Asbhy Monk pointed out in talk at CalPERS, you are twice as likely to become a billionaire in asset management as you are in tech. While the 1% consists largely of CEOs and their top retainers (such as partners at the toniest law and consulting firms), the top 0.1% consists mainly of private equity and hedge fund heavyweights. Fink, a billionaire is a member of the 0.1% club .

Nor is Fink a credible party to tell other CEOs how to behave. He's been one of the 25 most overpaid CEOs . It should come as no surprise that BlackRock is also less likely than other large fund managers to vote against CEO pay packages. Can't risk alienating prospects for 401(k) mandates, now can we?

The New Corporate Salvation: "Purpose"

The big theme of Fink's letter is that companies need to put "purpose" first. He's very late to this party too. We wrote back in 2007 of Financial Times writer John Kay's discussion of the idea of obliquity, that in complex systems, it is actually counterproductive to try to pursue goals directly, because the environment is too complicated to be able to map a straight path. One of the implications is that companies that focus on profits don't wind up being the most profitable in their industry: the one with loftier goals do better.

The wee problem with Fink's exhortation for those businesses that fetishized maximizing shareholder value to start focusing on nobler aims is that it is very hard to change the culture of large organizations, short of a replacing lots of people at the top. And that sort of shakeup pretty much never happens save as a result of a major crisis.

Fink contends that companies will have to take the demand of millennials that companies put improving society over generating profit. However, given that these same millennials are perfectly happy to work for elite (Google and Facebook) and not-so-elite companies that are putting more and more surveillance technology in place, and are all too happy to give personal data away (DNA???? What are you thinking?), the days of millennial uppity-ness are likely to be short lived.

A Bit Too Obvious that Fink Is Talking His Book

Larry, a pro tip: if you are going to pretend to offer advice, it has to be credible. This isn't:

Unnerved by fundamental economic changes and the failure of government to provide lasting solutions, society is increasingly looking to companies, both public and private, to address pressing social and economic issues.

This is true only by by "society" he means the old money 400 families sort. Everyone else who has been paying attention has noticed that the compensation for CEOs and top executives has kept rising relentlessly, while they pay of ordinary people has languished and their jobs have become less secure. And no one on the wrong side of this trade is going as a supplicant to "companies" and plead with them to do better. Laborers got safer working conditions and eventually shorter workweeks and better pay only after years of struggle that included killing of labor leaders, and even then, those gains were solidified for a few decades primarily to hold Communism at bay.

The reason that Bernie Sanders is the most popular politician in the US and that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has caught on like a house on fire is that they have put economic inequality and injustice at the center of their agendas, and American are hungry for the types of change they are advocating. More female and minority board members means squat to American who are living paycheck to paycheck.

A plausible pitch would have gone more like: "The pitchforks are coming,. You can either remain a target or figure out what you need to do to have your leadership group look less like out-of-touch greedheads." But I doubt that Fink will be in the vanguard of business leaders arguing for the need to give up excesses like corporate jets.

Another tell that the times that the word "sustainable" appears in Fink's letter, it refers to financial performance, not to sustainability as it is usually used in the wider world, for needing to work within planetary resource limits. But if Fink were to be at all candid on this front, he'd have to admit that huge swathe of investee companies should be radically downsized or liquidated, such as oil and gas exploration and development companies, airlines, fast fashion companies, and plastics makers like Dow Chemical. And then we have other companies that are negative value added societally, such as health insurers and banks. Recall that the Bank of England's Andrew Haldane, in a 2010 back of the envelope estimate of the GDP cost of the crisis that proved to be accurate, ascertained that banks could not begin to pay for the damage they did . In other words, a banking industry that creates global crises is negative value added from a societal standpoint. It is purely extractive.

But a more obvious howler is Fink's discussion of how companies have to help with retirement:

Retirement, in particular, is an area where companies must reestablish their traditional leadership role. For much of the 20th Century, it was an element of the social compact in many countries that employers had a responsibility to help workers navigate retirement. In some countries, particularly the United States, the shift to defined contribution plans changed the structure of that responsibility, leaving too many workers unprepared. And nearly all countries are confronting greater longevity and how to pay for it. This lack of preparedness for retirement is fueling enormous anxiety and fear, undermining productivity in the workplace and amplifying populism in the political sphere.

In response, companies must embrace a greater responsibility to help workers navigate retirement, lending their expertise and capacity for innovation to solve this immense global challenge. In doing so, companies will create not just a more stable and engaged workforce, but also a more economically secure population in the places where they operate.

Fink can't possibly admit that the "save in financial assets" model for retirement cannot possibly work, particularly in a backdrop where advanced economies desperately need to reduce their populations as part of a program to curb resource demands. The old model the US had for saving for retirement was the 30 year mortgage. Men (it was then almost entirely men) got jobs that would last 20+ years. Paying down the mortgage was forced savings. The house would become mortgage-free around the time of retirement, lowering household costs when income dropped.

The compound interest magic that made Warren Buffett rich depends on corporate profit growth and/or falling interest rates. In aggregate corporate profit growth depends on population growth and productivity growth. Labor is the biggest input cost for goods and obviously for services, so productivity growth generally speaking will reduce the amount of labor. When workers had more bargaining power, the benefits of productivity gains were once split between profits and wage increases, but those days ended in the mid-1970s.

Or to put it another way, trees can't grow to the sky. The US is already at a record high level of profit share to GDP. Corporations have been the biggest buyers of stocks in the US for years and that has to slow down due to debt levels and rising interest rates making that game less attractive than it used to be.

You don't have to look hard to see that valuation of financial assets are attenuated, and with central banks determined over time to get back to more normal interest rates, it's not as if there's good reason to expect the financial markets to be a friendly setting for the next few years.

Michael Hudson has documented how in Bronze Age societies that excessive financial burdens, in the form of debt, were periodically wiped clean in jubilees. We don't have such enlightened approaches for pro-actively cancelling or cutting dysfunctional financial claims. We instead have financial crises or wars or revolutions do the trick.

The best approach to retirement would be a more generous Social Security system plus single payer, so that older people don't have to worry about Medicaid crapification like joining a HMO or drug plans and so everyone gets the benefit of limiting drug price increases and getting rid of costly middlemen. You'll notice that Fink said squat about companies needing to do their bit to help with retirement by halting discrimination against older workers. Creating more opportunities for those who want to work to keep working would do a good deal to reduce retirement insecurity.

So Fink is yet another one of those squillionaires who doesn't get that his patter has a Versailles circa 1788 feel to it. But at least his version is bland and conventional. He could be trying to pitch some technology snake oil instead.


Colonel Smithers , January 21, 2019 at 6:39 am

Thank you, Yves.

My former boss, as per https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/markets/article-3262718/Investment-industry-war-fund-groups-Investment-Association-boss-Daniel-Godfrey-firing-line.html , and I will have a good chuckle about Fink's intervention. BlackRock played a leading role in his defenestration, but was not tarred with the blame as BlackRock owns many people in the media and politics, e.g. George Osborne and Philip Hildebrand. I was at the blue eagle by then, but the arguments had begun in 2013, not long after Daniel and I arrived.

tegnost , January 21, 2019 at 10:25 am

what is this guy, some kind of criminal? /s

FTA "The fund groups were particularly irked by a 'Statement of Principles' drawn up by Godfrey signing them up to put clients first. Their objection was to the extra bureaucracy involved.

Another bone of contention is the IA's stance on bosses' pay. It set up a working group to look at excessive rewards – which could embarrass some fund managers."

Stealing from the rich like that, he should be ashamed /sx2

shinola , January 21, 2019 at 2:37 pm

Dear Mr. Fink;

A proposal for for a government solution:

Return to the tax rates in effect during the Eisenhower administration (with adjustments to the table to reflect inflation, of course). Then the government could use the extra income to pay for additional benefits.

(Note to NC readers – that last sentence should really be "..to pretend to pay for " but perhaps it's better to let them hold onto some of their fantasies)

Susan the Other , January 21, 2019 at 3:19 pm

my god. what a masterpiece. I'm gonna read this one twice. First thoughts: I love it; I almost passed it by because shiney objects; 6.2 trillion is a punchline; the Finkster as patient zero is a new Marvel Comic Evil Hero for Real; I'm getting a front-row seat on history, past and future; human rationalization is the great twister; defined contribution plans is greed on steroids; I even took notes on the inside of the envelope; "sustainability" as a financial performance legitimizer – my god it's just the opposite – it's a financial performance control; the Finkster is in the .1% club of delusional gods on the Cystine (sp?)Chapel; profit IS inequality bec. growth is secondary and therefore finance is Un-f'ing-productive but masquerades as productive; a few objections: I like the Millenials (most of them, but not the quants); Rupert Sheldrake rules: knowledge (per this post) goes around the world at mach speed and then exponentiates! – thank you god for small favors like Yves; and we will survive because we will come together.

[Jan 22, 2019] Tucker Carlson Calls Out Famous Liberals Who Urged Doxing, Assault, Murder Of Covington MAGA Kids

Notable quotes:
"... Checking facts and adding context is what journalists are paid to do. It's in the first line of the job description. Yet, amazingly, almost nobody in the American media did that. ..."
"... That's a shame, because there was a lot to check. The full video of what happened on Friday in Washington is well over an hour long. The four minutes that made Twitter don't tell the story, but instead distorted the story. A longer look shows that the boys from Covington Catholic in Kentucky weren't a roving mob looking for a fight. They were, in fact -- and it shows it on the tape -- standing in place waiting to be picked up by a bus. ..."
"... As they waited there, members of a group called the Black Hebrew Israelites, a black supremacist organization, began taunting them with racial epithets. Nathan Phillips, the now-famous American Indian activist, also approached them, pounding his drum. The footage seems to suggest the boys were unsure whether Phillips was hostile or taking their side against the Black Hebrew Israelites. But in any case, there is no evidence at all that anyone said, "build a wall." ..."
"... So, what really happened on Friday? Watch and decide for yourself. There's plenty of video out there, and some of it is fascinating. What we know for certain at this point is that our cultural leaders are, in fact, bigots. They understand reality on the basis of stereotypes. When the facts don't conform to what they think they know, they ignore the facts. They see America not as a group of people or of citizens, but as a collection of groups. Some of these groups, they are convinced, are morally inferior to other groups. They know that's true. They say it out loud. That belief shapes almost all of their perceptions of the world. ..."
Jan 22, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Once footage emerged of the entire incident, however, it became clear that the left had gotten it completely wrong ; Phillips had approached the teens - many wearing MAGA hats, while a group of Black Israelites considered to be a hate group by the Anti-Defamation League hurled racial insults at the students.

After the truth emerged, famous liberals who were previously frothing at the mouth went on a mad scramble to delete their tweets full of hate, slander and disinformation . The internet never forgets, however, and neither does Tucker Carlson:

https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/tucker-carlson-covington-story-was-not-about-race-but-about-people-in-power-attacking-people-theyve-failed

If you were on social media over the weekend, you probably saw the video. It was shot Friday afternoon , on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. It seemed to show a group of teenage boys taunting an elderly American Indian man who was holding a drum.

The young men had come to Washington from a Catholic school in Kentucky to demonstrate in the March for Life . Some of them wore "Make America Great Again" hats. They seemed menacing. Within hours, the video was being replayed by virtually every news outlet in America. The American Indian man with the drum in the video is called Nathan Phillips. He described the young men he encountered, the ones in the hats, as aggressive and threatening -- essentially shock troops for Donald Trump.

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM TUCKER CARLSON.

"I heard them saying, 'Build that wall. Build that wall,'" Phillips said. "This is indigenous land. We're not supposed to have walls here."

It's hard to remember the last time the great American meme machine produced a clearer contrast between good and evil -- it was essentially an entire morality play shrunk down to four minutes for Facebook.

On one side, a noble tribal elder, weather-beaten, calm and wise. He looks like a living icon. You could imagine a single tear sliding slowly down his cheek at the senselessness of it all.

On the other side, you had a pack of heedless, sneering young men from the south, drunk on racism and white privilege. The irony is overwhelming: The indigenous man's land had been stolen by the very ancestors of these boys in MAGA hats. Yet they dare to lecture him about walls designed to keep people who look very much like him out what they were calling "their" country.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE ENTIRE EPISODE.

It was infuriating to a lot of people. At the same time, it was also strangely comforting to the people who watched it from Brooklyn and L.A. The people who run this country have long suspected that middle America is a hive of nativist bigotry. And now they had proof of that. It was cause for a celebration of outrage. There's nothing quite as satisfying as having your own biases confirmed.

But did the video really describe what happened? That should have been the first question journalists asked. Checking facts and adding context is what journalists are paid to do. It's in the first line of the job description. Yet, amazingly, almost nobody in the American media did that.

That's a shame, because there was a lot to check. The full video of what happened on Friday in Washington is well over an hour long. The four minutes that made Twitter don't tell the story, but instead distorted the story. A longer look shows that the boys from Covington Catholic in Kentucky weren't a roving mob looking for a fight. They were, in fact -- and it shows it on the tape -- standing in place waiting to be picked up by a bus.

As they waited there, members of a group called the Black Hebrew Israelites, a black supremacist organization, began taunting them with racial epithets. Nathan Phillips, the now-famous American Indian activist, also approached them, pounding his drum. The footage seems to suggest the boys were unsure whether Phillips was hostile or taking their side against the Black Hebrew Israelites. But in any case, there is no evidence at all that anyone said, "build a wall."

So, what really happened on Friday? Watch and decide for yourself. There's plenty of video out there, and some of it is fascinating. What we know for certain at this point is that our cultural leaders are, in fact, bigots. They understand reality on the basis of stereotypes. When the facts don't conform to what they think they know, they ignore the facts. They see America not as a group of people or of citizens, but as a collection of groups. Some of these groups, they are convinced, are morally inferior to other groups. They know that's true. They say it out loud. That belief shapes almost all of their perceptions of the world.

It's not surprising, then, that when a group of pro-life Catholic kids who look like lacrosse players and live in Kentucky are accused of wrongdoing, the media don't pause for a moment before casting judgment. Maggie Haberman of the New York Times suggested the boys needed to be expelled from school. Ana Navarro of CNN called the boys racists and "asswipes" and then went after their teachers and parents.

Others called for violence against them . CNN legal analyst Bakari Sellers suggested one of the boys should be, "punched in the face." Former CNN contributor Reza Aslan agreed. Aslan asked on Twitter, "Have you ever seen a more punchable face than this kid's?" Longtime CNN contributor Kathy Griffin seemed to encourage a mob to rouse up and hurt these boys, tweeting, "Name these kids. I want names. Shame them. If you think these effers wouldn't dox you in a heartbeat. Think again." She repeated her demand again later: "Names please. And stories from people who can identify them and vouch for their identity. Thank you."

Hollywood film producer Jack Morrissey tweeted that he wanted the boys killed: "MAGA kids go screaming, hats first, into the woodchipper." He paired that with a graphic photo. Actor Patton Oswalt linked to personal information about one of the boys, in case anyone wanted to get started on that project. Meanwhile, Twitter, which claims to have a policy against encouraging violence, stood by silently as all this happened.

But in case you think the response was entirely from the left, you should know that the abuse was bipartisan. This wasn't just left versus right. It was the people in power attacking those below them as a group. Plenty of Republicans in Washington were happy to savage the Covington kids, probably to inoculate themselves from charges of improper thought. Bill Kristol asked his Twitter followers to consider "the contrast between the calm dignity and quiet strength of Mr. Phillips and the behavior of MAGA brats who have absorbed the spirit of Trumpism."

So what's actually going on here? Well, it's not really about race. In fact, most of the stories about race really aren't about race. And this is no different. This story is about the people in power protecting their power, and justifying their power, by destroying and mocking those weaker than they are.

And then when the actual facts emerged, Kristol quietly deleted his tweet. He never apologized, of course. He hasn't apologized for the Iraq war, either. There's no need. People keep giving him money.

The National Review, meanwhile, ran a story entitled, "The Covington Students Might As Well Have Just Spit on the Cross." That story has since been pulled too, but not before the author admitted he never even bothered to watch all the videos. He knew what he knew. That was enough.

What was so interesting about the coverage of Friday's video was how much of it mentioned something called "privilege." Alex Cranz, an editor at Gizmodo, for example, wrote, "From elementary school through college, I went to school with sheltered upper middle-class white boys who could devastate with a smirk. A facial gesture that weaponized their privilege. Infuriatingly you can't fight that effing smirk with a punch or words. We saw that as Trump smirked his way through the election and we'll see it as that boy from Kentucky's friends, family, and school protect him. I effing hate that smirk. It says 'I'm richer, I'm white, and I'm a guy.'"

What's so fascinating about all these attacks is how inverted they are. These are high school kids from Kentucky. Do they really have more privilege than Alex Cranz from Gizmodo? Probably not. In fact, probably much less. They're far less privileged than virtually everyone who called for them to be destroyed, based on the fact that they have too much privilege.

Consider Kara Swisher, for example, an opinion columnist at the New York Times. Swisher went to Princeton Day School and then Georgetown, then got a graduate degree at Columbia. She's become rich and famous, in the meantime, by toadying for billionaire tech CEOs. She's their handmaiden. Nobody considers her very talented. And yet she's somehow highly influential in our society. Is she more privileged than the boys of Covington Catholic in Kentucky? Of course she is. Maybe that's why she feels the need to call them Nazis, which she did, repeatedly.

Video

So what's actually going on here? Well, it's not really about race. In fact, most of the stories about race really aren't about race. And this is no different. This story is about the people in power protecting their power, and justifying their power, by destroying and mocking those weaker than they are.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

Why? It's simple. Our leaders haven't improved the lives of most people in America. They can't admit that because it would discredit them. So, instead they attack the very people they've failed. The problem, they'll tell us, with Kentucky, isn't that bad policies have hurt the people who live there. It's that the people who live there are immoral because they're bigots. They deserve their poverty and opioid addiction. They deserve to die young.

That's what our leaders tell themselves. And now, that's what they're telling us. Just remember: they're lying.

[Jan 22, 2019] Kamala Harris, Opportunist to the Core Launches Prez Bid on MLK Day, Since She Has to Remind People She's Black After Criminal

Notable quotes:
"... porcine maquillage ..."
Jan 22, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Kamala Harris' presidential campaign has barely made its official start, and she's continuing to show her unfitness for the job. Martin Luther King would be rolling in his grave if he were to learn that a former big city and then state prosecutor, with no known history of protesting but an anti-minorities rap sheet that includes criminalizing truancy, enthusiastically prosecuting drug-related activity, and pushed to keep nonviolent "second-strike" convicts in prison to assure California a continued supply of cheap labor, was misusing his name to try to burnish her sorry record.

If you missed them, these reviews of Harris' record as a prosecutor should disabuse you of the notion that she's a friend of the downtrodden:

Kamala Harris Was Not a 'Progressive Prosecutor' Lara Bazelon, New York Times

A Problem for Kamala Harris: Can a Prosecutor Become President in the Age of Black Lives Matter? Intercept

Reckoning With The Neoliberal Record Of Kamala Harris ShadowProof

The Two Faces of Kamala Harris Jacobin

Readers may recall that last week, we addressed one Harris Big Lie about her record, that she was a big defender of abused homeowners by virtue of having gotten a less terrible deal than 48 other states in the 2012 National Mortgage Settlement, which we've regularly described as a "get out of liability almost free card" for the big mortgage servicers. Her lack of a commitment to homeowners, and her pliancy to big money interests, was confirmed by her failure to investigate One West Bank, ignoring a 2013 memo from attorneys in her office flagging the appearance of "widespread misconduct." Her complacency was rewarded via One West's former CEO, Steve Mnuchin, making Harris the recipient of his lone donation to a Democratic party Senate candidate.

Needless to say, if Harris had prosecuted Mnuchin, it's hard to imagine he'd be Treasury Secretary now.

Harris' book, The Truths We Hold, published earlier this month to help grease campaign skids, shows Harris applying lots of porcine maquillage to her record. It doesn't work very well. As Teodrose Fikre writes in Black Agenda Report on one of the more measured reviews, by Hannah Giorgis in the Atlantic :

Kamala Harris's memoir reads nothing like her actual record of locking up the poor and giving impunity to the rich

Checking off identity boxes and getting jiggy with it is not enough, we must demand more from politicians than soundbites and feigned indignation. Instead of addressing income inequalities and systematic imbalances that are the sources of most social ills, Harris tries to hide behind anecdotes and outlier stories in an attempt to minimize the disproportionate impact her decisions had on the poor and working class. After making a name for herself by aggressively locking up Californians and enhancing the inmate supply for the prison-industrial complex, she is now attempting an image makeover by using social justice and diversity hustles as launching pads .

Harris's take every prisoner temperament was nowhere to be found when the time came for her to take on robber barons. She famously chose to look the other way when she had the chance to prosecute Steve Mnuchin and make an example of unscrupulous bankers.Her "progressive prosecution" reserved progress for the rich and doled out draconian measures for the poor and marginalized. It is worth repeating, Harris's administration effectively argued for slave labor in order to enrich penal plantations.

Kamala Harris is no activist, she is Hillary Clinton in a black face.This is precisely the reason why the corporate donor class are licking their chops and pushing Harris as a viable presidential candidate. She has proven her loyalty to Wall Street; when push comes to shove, CEOs know that they have an ally in Kamala. What Harris is banking on is an electorate that is so deranged by Trump's puerility that we don't inspect her positions and just accept her optics and rhetoric as a suitable alternative to the incumbent president.

The one bit of good news is that Harris' campaign is so hopelessly tone deaf and narcissistic that Harris will do herself in as a serious contender in no time fast on current trajectories. A reader sent a copy of the "Day 1" fundraiser, which if done properly, should set the tone for the campaign.

What do we learn from this sorry missive? That Harris apparently regards herself as such an Oprah-level celebrity that her mere presence is enough to get citizens to want to vote for her. However, she can't resist remind us of her top 10% bona fides, that she is able to find a "healthy snack" in Penn Station vending machines. God forbid we catch a Ruler of the Free World wannabe enjoying some potato chips. Might be mistaken for Trump!

Another revealing-in-not-a-good-way bit is the last photo, of Harris supposedly getting down to "hard work". As you can see from the image, "hard work" is standing up while staff applauds. It's bad enough to see this sort of thing at CalPERS; we need to keep that pathology from going national.

So Harris presents absolutely nothing in the way of policy stances. Apparently the reasons to want her as President is that she's photogenic by the not-too-high standards of politics and she gets bonus points for not being a white man.

And this sorry e-mail really is representative of her campaign pitch. Her site is every bit as narcissistic as the fundraising appeal. It admittedly has a centrist dog-whistle in the form of a long-ish bio which is an attempt to position Harris on policy while punting on taking any positions. But otherwise, it's long on pretty pix and thin on much else.

It's stating the obvious that Harris is yet another variant on the Obama formula: take an attractive, well-educated, mixed-race centrist and encourage the press and public to project that their "minority" background means that they'll be staunch defenders of the downtrodden.

But the public isn't so easily fooled. 9 million foreclosures, many of which could have been prevented, bailouts for banksters, a two-tier recovery with smug elites preaching "Let them eat training" to people stuck outside big cities or too old to be employable, and sky-high Obamacare deductibles mean a lot of voters are not going to fall for idpol packaging as easily a second time. Plus Obama had so little in the way of a political track record that it was easy for him to be a shape-shifter; he made his stint as a community organizer go a long way. Even now, hardly anyone knows that Obama, along with his wife Michelle and Valerie Jarret, as described by Robert Fitch , built their early career success by lending an appearance of legitimacy to moving black South Chicago further south on behalf of local real estate and finance interests.

Further complicating the foolhardy effort to cast Harris in the Obama mold is that she's got way too much political baggage to fool all that many people as to what she is really about.

So it's telling that self-absorbed Harris campaign imagery clashes with her slogan, "For the people". Even more so than for most politicians, Harris' team has to stick with the surface because that's all they have to sell.

Page 4 / 4 Zoom 100%

The Rev Kev , January 22, 2019 at 4:41 am

Saw this on the news earlier where she announced her Presidential candidacy on Martin Luther King Jr.'s day which I thought as a class act that. Hijacking a national celebration for her own political ambitions? Yeah, real good judgement that. With this being so, I am going to predict that Hillary Clinton will announce her candidacy for President on Friday, March 8th of this year. Why then? Because that is this year's date for International Women's Day that. It would be in keeping with the times. Personally I think that both of them should hold back their announcements to a better date. Say, February 30th?

[Jan 22, 2019] Death Of Russiagate Mueller Team Tied To Mifsud's Network

Looks like all of them were Brennan men. CIA used FBI counterintelligence and counter-terrorism personnel to kick start the investigation/scandal.
Notable quotes:
"... They quote anonymous officials who believe that their intelligence agencies used counter-terrorism personnel to kick start the investigation/scandal. ..."
Jan 22, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com
Tyler Durden Tue, 01/22/2019 - 10:22 2.3K SHARES

Via Disobedient Media ,

In April last year, Disobedient Media broke coverage of the British involvement in the Trump-Russia collusion narrative, asking why All Russiagate Roads Lead To London , via the quasi-scholar Joseph Mifsud and others.

The issue was also raised by WikiLeaks's Julian Assange , just days before the Ecuadorian government silenced him last March. Assange's Twitter thread cited research by Chris Blackburn , who spoke with Disobedient Media on multiple occasions covering Joseph Mifsud's ties to British intelligence figures and organizations, as well as his links to Hillary Clinton's Presidential campaign, the FBI, CIA and the private cyber-security firm Crowdstrike.

We return, now, to this issue and specifically the research of Chris Blackburn, to place the final nail in the coffin of the Trump-Russia collusion charade. Blackburn's insights are incredible not only because they return us to the earliest reporting on the role of British intelligence figures in manufacturing the Trump-Russia collusion narrative, but because they also implicate members of Mueller's investigation. What we are left with is an indication of collusion between factions of the US and UK intelligence community in fabricating evidence of Trump-Russia collusion: a scandal that would have rocked the legacy press to its core, if Western establishment-backed media had a spine.

In Disobedient Media's previous coverage of Blackburn's work, he described his experience in intelligence:

"I've been involved in numerous investigations that involve counter-intelligence techniques in the past. I used to work for the 9/11 Families United to Bankrupt Terrorism , one of the biggest tort actions in American history. I helped build a profile of Osama bin Laden's financial and political network, which was slightly different to the one that had been built by the CIA's Alec Station , a dedicated task force which was focused on Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda. Alec Station designed its profile to hunt Osama bin Laden and disrupt his network. I thought it was flawed. It had failed to take into account Osama's historical links to Pakistan's main political parties or that he was the figurehead for a couple of organizations, not just Al-Qaeda."

"I also ran a few conferences for US intelligence leaders during the Bush administration. After the 9/11 Commission published its report into the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon it created a public outreach program. The US National Intelligence Conference and Exposition ( Intelcon ) was one of the avenues it used. I was responsible for creating the 'View from Abroad' track. We had guidance from former Senator Slade Gorton and Jamie Gorelick, who both sat on the 9/11 Commission. We got leaders such as Sir John Chilcot and Baroness Pauline Neville Jones to come and help share their experiences on how the US would be able to heal the rifts after 9/11."

"The US intelligence community was suffering from severe turf wars and firewalls, which were hampering counter-terrorism efforts. They were concentrating on undermining each other rather than tackling terrorism. I had mainly concentrated on the Middle East, but in 2003 I switched my focus to terrorism in South Asia."

Counter Terrorism, Not Counter Intelligence, Sparked Probe

In an article published by The Telegraph last November, the paper acknowledged the following:

"It forces the spotlight on whether the UK played a role in the FBI's investigation launched before the 2016 presidential election into Trump campaign ties to the Kremlin... Mr. Trump's allies and former advisers are raising questions about the UK's role in the start of the probe, given many of the key figures and meetings were located in Britain... One former top White House adviser to Mr. Trump made similar insinuations, telling this newspaper: "You know the Brits are up to their neck." The source added on the Page wiretap application: "I think that stuff is going to implicate MI5 and MI6 in a bunch of activities they don't want to be implicated in, along with FBI, counter-terrorism and the CIA. " [Emphasis Added]

The article cites George Papadopoulos, who asked why the "British intelligence apparatus was weaponized against Trump and his advisers." Papadopoulos has also addressed the issue at length via Twitter. In response to the Telegraph's coverage of the issue, Chris Blackburn wrote via Twitter :

"The Telegraph story on Trump Russia acknowledges that activities involving counter-terrorism are at the heart of the scandal...not counter-intelligence. If the [London Centre for International Law Practice] was British state, not private, some Commonwealth countries are going to be seriously pissed off."

Blackburn spoke with Disobedient Media, saying:

" If you factor in the dreadful reporting to discredit Joseph Mifsud and leaks, it is pretty clear something rather strange happened to George Papadopoulos during the campaign while he was shuttling around Europe and the Middle East. He was working with people who have intelligence links at the London Centre of International Law Practice. A recent article in The Telegraph also alludes to MI5, MI6, and CIA using counter-terrorism assets which would tie into the London Centre of International Law Practice (LCILP), and its sister organizations, doing counter-terrorism work for the Australian, UK and US governments. They quote anonymous officials who believe that their intelligence agencies used counter-terrorism personnel to kick start the investigation/scandal." [Emphasis Added]

Blackburn discussed this differentiation with Disobedient Media:

"Counter-terrorism is obviously involved in more kinetic, violent political actions-concerning mass casualty events, bombings, assassinations, poisonings, and hacking. But, the lines are blurring between them. Counter-intelligence cases have been known to stretch for decades- often relying on nothing more than paranoia and suspicion to fuel investigations. Counter-terrorism is also a broader discipline as it involves tactical elements like hostage rescue, crime scene investigations, and explosive specialists. Counter-Terrorism is a collaborative effort with counter-terrorism officers working closely with local and regional police forces and civic organizations. There is also a wider academic field around countering violent, and radical ideology which promotes terrorism and insurgencies. Cybersecurity has become the third major discipline in intelligence. The London Center of International Law Practice, the mysterious intelligence company that employed both Papadopoulos and Mifsud , had also been working in that area."

Continuing, Blackburn pinpointed the significance of defining counter-terrorism as the starting point of the investigation, saying: "It shows that there is a high probability that intelligence was deliberately abused to make Papadopoulos' activities look like they were something else. As counter-terrorism and counterintelligence are close in tactics and methods, it would seem that they were used because they share the same skill sets - covert evidence gathering and deception. It's basically sleight of hand. A piece of theatre would be more precise. However, we don't know if the FBI knew it was real or make-believe. It's more likely that the CIA played the FBI with the help of close allies who were suspicious and frightened of a Trump presidency."

Mueller's Team And Joseph Mifsud

Zainab Ahmad , a member of Mueller's legal team, is the former Assistant United States Attorney in the Eastern District of New York. As pointed out by Blackburn , Ahmad attended a Global Center on Cooperative Security event in 2017. In recent days, Blackburn wrote via Twitter :

"Zainab Ahmad is a major player in the Russiagate scandal at the DOJ. Does she work for SC Mueller? She was at a GCCS event in May 2017. Arvinder Sambei, a co-director of the [London Centre of International Law Practice], worked with Joseph Mifsud, [George Papadopoulos] and [Simona Mangiante]. She's a GCCS consultant."

Blackburn told this author:

"Zainab Ahmad was one of the first DOJ prosecutors to have seen the Steele dossier. In May 2017, she attended a counter-terrorism conference in New York with the Global Center on Cooperative Security (GCCS), an organization which Joseph Mifsud, the alleged Russian spy, had been working within London and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia."

Zainab Ahmad (AHMAD). Image via the Combatting Terrorism Center, West Point

"Richard Barrett, the Former Chief of Counter-Terrorism at MI6, Britain's foreign intelligence department traveled with Mifsud to Saudi Arabia to give a talk on terrorism in 2017. Ex-CIA officers, US Defense, and US Treasury officials were also there. The London Centre of International Law Practice's relationship to the Global Center had been established in 2014. The Global Center on Cooperative Security made Martin Polaine and Arvinder Sambei consultants, they then became directors at the London Centre of International Law Practice."

"The Global Center on Cooperative Security's first major UK conference was at Joseph Mifsud's London Academy of Diplomacy (LAD). Mifsud then followed Arvinder Sambei and Nagi Idris over to the London Centre of International Law Practice. Sources have told me that Mifsud was moonlighting as a specialist on counter-terrorism and Islamism while working at LAD which explains why he went to work in counter-terrorism after LAD folded."

"I don't think it's a coincidence that Global Center on Cooperative Security is connected to various elements that popped up in the Papadopoulos case. The fact that a prosecutor on Mueller's team was at Global Center before Mueller was appointed as special counsel is also troubling."

Days ago, The Hill reported on Congressional testimony by Bruce Ohr, revealing that when served as a DOJ official, he warned FBI and DOJ figures that the Steele dossier was problematic and linked to the Clintons. Critically, The Hill writes:

"Those he briefed included Andrew Weissmann, then the head of DOJ's fraud section; Bruce Swartz, longtime head of DOJ's international operations, and Zainab Ahmad , an accomplished terrorism prosecutor who, at the time, was assigned to work with Lynch as a senior counselor. Ahmad and Weissmann would go on to work for Mueller, the special prosecutor overseeing the Russia probe." [Emphasis Added]

This point is essential, as it not only describes Ahmad's role in Mueller's team but places her at a crucial pre-investigation meeting.

Last year, Blackburn noted the connection between Mifsud and Arvinder Sambei , writing: "LCILP director and FBI counsel, works with Mike Smith at the Global Center. They ran joint counter-terrorism conferences and training with Mifsud's London Academy. Sambei then brought Mifsud over to the [London Centre of International Law Practice]. [Global Center works with Aussies, UK and US State too."

Sambei has been described elsewhere as a "Former practising barrister, Senior Crown Prosecutor with the Crown Prosecution Service of England & Wales, and Legal Adviser at the Permanent Joint Headquarters (PJHQ), Ministry of Defence." [British spelling has been retained]

Arvinder Sambei. Image via the Public International Law Advisory Group

That Sambei has been so thoroughly linked to organizations where Mifsud was a central figure is yet another cause of suspicion regarding allegations that Joseph Mifsud was a shadowy, unknown Russian agent until the summer of 2016 . She is also a direct link between Robert Mueller and Mifsud.

Blackburn wrote via Twitter : "Arvinder Sambei helped to organize LCILP's counter-terrorism and corruption events. She used her contacts in the US to bring in Middle Eastern government officials that were seen to be vulnerable to graft. Lisa Osofsky, former FBI Deputy General Counsel, was working with her." Below, Arvinder is pictured at a London Centre of International Law Practice (LCILP) event.

Arvinder Sambei, pictured at an LCILP event. Image via Chris Blackburn, Twitter

As Chris Blackburn told this author:

" Mifsud and Papadopoulos's co-director Arvinder Sambei was also the former FBI British counsel working 9/11 cases for Robert Mueller. She also runs a consultancy which deals with Special Investigative Measure (SIMs) which is just a posh description for covert espionage and evidence gathering. She has worked for major intelligence and national law agencies in the past. She wore two hats as a director of London Centre and a consultant for the Global Center on Cooperative Security (GCCS), a counter-terrorism think tank which is sponsored by the Australia, Canada, UK and US governments. Alexander Downer's former Chief of Staff while at the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade now works for the Global Center. Mifsud was also due to meet with Australian private intelligence figures in Adelaide in March 2016. So. Australia is certainly a major focus for the investigation." [Emphasis Added]

Below, former FBI Deputy General Counsel Lisa Osofsky is pictured at a London Centre for International Law Practice event . Osofsky also served as the Money Laundering Reporting Officer with Goldman Sachs International. Since 2018, she has served as the Director of the UK's Serious Fraud Office (SFO).

Lisa Osofsky, pictured at an LCILP event. Image via Chris Blackburn, Twitter

An Embarrassment For John Brennan?

Disobedient Media previously reported that Robert Hannigan, then head of British spy agency GCHQ, flew to Washington DC to share 'director-to-director' level intelligence with then-CIA Chief John Brennan in the summer of 2016. This writer noted that " The Guardian reported Hannigan's announcement that he would step down from his leadership position with the agency just three days after the inauguration of President Trump, on 23 January 2017. Jane Mayer, in her profile of Christopher Steele published in the New Yorker, also noted that Hannigan had flown to Washington D.C. to personally brief the then-CIA Director John Brennan on alleged communications between the Trump campaign and Moscow. What is so curious about this briefing "deemed so sensitive it was handled at director-level" is why Hannigan was talking director-to-director to the CIA and not Mike Rogers at the NSA, GCHQ's Five Eyes intelligence-sharing partner."

Blackburn told Disobedient Media:

"Former Congressman Trey Gowdy, who has seen most of the information gathered by Congress from the intelligence community concerning the Russia investigation, said that if President Trump were to declassify files and present the truth to the American public, it would " embarrass John Brennan ." I think that is pretty concrete for me, but it's not definitive. I know the polarization and spin in Washington has become perverse, but that statement is pretty specific for me. If Brennan is involved, it is most probably through Papadopoulos who sparked off the 'official' investigation at the FBI. He also made sure the Steele dossier was spread through the US government."

Blackburn added: "Chris Steele was also working on FIFA projects, and a source has told me that he was working to investigate the Russian and Qatari World Cup bids. The London Centre of International Law Practice has been working with Majed Garoub, the former Saudi legal representative of FIFA, the world governing body for soccer. He's also been working against the Qatari bid. Steele likes to get paid twice for his investigations."

"Mifsud has also been associated with Prince Turki the former Saudi intelligence chief, Mifsud and the London Academy of Diplomacy used to train Saudi diplomats and intelligence figures while Turki was the Saudi Ambassador to London. Turki is a close friend of Bill Clinton and John Brennan. Nawaf Obaid was also courting Mifsud and tried to get him a cushy job working with CNN's Freedom Project at Link Campus in Rome. He also knows John Brennan. Intelligence agencies like to give out professional gifts like this plum academic position for completing missions. In the US, it is widely known that intelligence agencies gift the children of assets to get them into prestigious Ivy League schools."

At minimum, we can surmise that Mifsud was not a Russian agent, but was an asset of Western intelligence agencies. We are left with the impression that the Mifsud saga served as a ploy, whether he participated knowingly or not. It seems reasonable to conclude that the gambit was initially developed with participation of John Brennan and UK intelligence. Following this, Mueller inherited and developed the Mifsud narrative thread into the collusion soap opera we know today.

Ultimately, we are faced with the reality that British and US interests worked together to fabricate a collusion scandal to subvert a US Presidency, and in doing so, intentionally raised tensions between the West and a nuclear-armed power.


snodgrass , 2 hours ago link

What ********. Britain was part of the group pulling of 911 along with the American and Jewish establishment. Blackburn was the inside guy, posing as an outsider, to deflect attention from the real perpetrators. These people always have agents on both sides of every issue in the same way they fund two "opposing" political parties and fund two "opposing" sides in the media.

freedommusic , 3 hours ago link

Ultimately, we are faced with the reality that British and US interests worked together to fabricate a collusion scandal to subvert a US Presidency , and in doing so, intentionally raised tensions between the West and a nuclear-armed power .

It's called TREASON .

Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies , giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere , is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years

Jung , 3 hours ago link

SteeleGate---his mate Skripal, boss Pablo Miller----novichok---Porton Down---anything to blame Russia in the end. After 30 dys of shutdown personnel of CIA, FBI and DOJ can be changed legally: draining of the swamp and DECLAS can begin with proper Military Tribunals in place. This according to Q who shared all of this, so it was not a conspiracy theory that the Q team exposed, but just MSM and Deep State in their last panic mode. Justice will now be able to follow: maybe rel end of endless wars too!

boooyaaaah , 3 hours ago link

There are more and more articles saying that the FBI, CIA, M14 15,16 yada yada, were overly concerned about Trump. Their sin...caring too much for the USA.

They attempted a coup de'etat for "our" own good...we... being "we the people".

To quote A Lincoln

"You will find that all the arguments in favour of kingcraft were of this class; they always bestrode the necks of the people,

-- not that they wanted to do it, but because the people were better off for being ridden."

Lincoln did not mince words

So now we have an international conspiracy of care. Not one power grubber in the group. A syndicate of misunderstood do gooders.

But not having the consent of the people, but rather trying to undo, and foil the consent of the people.

This part of the Declaration applies

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, -- That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Last of the Middle Class , 4 hours ago link

Ultimately, we are faced with the reality that British and US interests worked together to fabricate a collusion scandal to subvert a US Presidency, and in doing so, intentionally raised tensions between the West and a nuclear-armed power..."

Why do you not call it a coup d'etat? That is what it is, nothing less. If it were about something Trump did you would use the harshest possible language. Why not tell the truth here. Let the American people know what happened.

[Jan 22, 2019] The International Monetary Fund serves up depressing new outlook on the world for investors to ponder

Notable quotes:
"... Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter ..."
Jan 22, 2019 | finance.yahoo.com

The International Monetary Fund just uncorked a sobering outlook on the global economy and asset markets for the elite billionaires huddled up in Davos, Switzerland for the World Economic Forum to ponder.

In its latest World Economic Update report, the IMF said Monday the global economy is projected to grow at a meager 3.5% this year and only accelerate to 3.6% in 2020. The outlooks for 2019 and 2020 are 0.2 percentage point and 0.1 percentage point below the IMF's projections issued in October.

Hat tips to the ongoing U.S. trade war with China, tightening financial conditions globally and more volatile risk asset markets.

The finer points: The IMF pretty much had nothing good to say on the outlooks for developed and emerging markets. Although that is nothing unusual for the IMF -- who often takes a cautious stance on its outlooks for economies and financial markets -- it may give many investors a wake up call amid a somewhat hot start to the stock market in 2019.

Of note, U.S. growth is seen slowing to 2.5% in 2019 and dipping to 1.9% in 2020 at the hands of the unwinding of fiscal stimulus (see Trump tax cuts), higher interest rates and the U.S. trade war with China. The IMF tossed the U.S. a bone by noting the pace of expansion is above the country's estimated potential growth in both years.

As for Europe, the IMF is now more bearish on growth compared to its October outlook. Growth for emerging and developing Europe in 2019 is forecast to cool to 0.7% (from 3.8% in 2018) and then bounce to 2.4% in 2020. Previously, the IMF was looking for growth of 2% and 2.8% in 2019 and 2020, respectively. Lackluster growth in Italy, France and Germany as well as policy tightening in Turkey are the main culprits for the IMF's European growth downgrade.

Growth in emerging and developing Asia is expected to drop from 6.5% in 2018 to 6.3% in 2019 and reach 6.4% in 2020, said the IMF. The IMF expects growth in China to be 6.2% both in 2019 and 2020 versus 6.6% in 2018.

Interestingly, the IMF incorporates the impact of continued tariffs by the U.S. on China and vice versa in its baseline forecast. In other words, the organization does not expect there to be a trade truce between the countries on their self-imposed March 1 deadline.

For the investors out there: For those bulls that have returned to beaten up stocks in January, the IMF does its best to squash the hopium infiltrating your brains. "A range of catalyzing events in key systemic economies could spark a broader deterioration in investor sentiment and a sudden, sharp repricing of assets amid elevated debt burdens. Global growth would likely fall short of the baseline projection if any such events were to materialize and trigger a generalized risk-off episode," cautioned the IMF.

China's growth slowdown is also a risk that the IMF suggests investors don't fully appreciate.

"As seen in 2015–16, concerns about the health of China's economy can trigger abrupt, wide reaching sell-offs in financial and commodity markets that place its trading partners, commodity exporters, and other emerging markets under pressure," the IMF pointed out.

The bottom line: The IMF isn't exactly super plugged into global asset markets in the same vein as forecasters at Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. But their latest assessment of the global economy and risk markets offers up a good counterbalance to the enthusiasm that has begun to creep back into financial markets after the October 2017 through December 2018 rout.

Happy trading, folks.

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter

[Jan 22, 2019] The French Anti-Neoliberal Revolution. On the conditions for its success by Dimitris Konstantakopoulos

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... The French bourgeoisie is the politically most experienced ruling class in Europe. It has no illusions about the challenge it faces. Le Point put its file on the revolt of the vests under the self-telling title "What is waiting us". ..."
"... But it's not only the king who is naked. The whole system is naked. In the many pages devoted by the magazine to demonstrate that what the Vests want is unfeasible, not even a single serious word is written about what needs to be done to deal with the deep causes which led the French to revolt. Today's capitalism of Macron, Merkel and Trump does not produce a Roosevelt and New Deal or Popular Fronts – and we have to wait to see if it will produce a Hitler as some are trying to achieve. For the time being, it only produces Yellow Vests! ..."
"... In Oscar Wilde's masterpiece "The Picture of Dorian Gray", the main character looks every night at his horrible real self in the mirror. But he looks at it alone. ..."
"... This is where Macron made his most fatal mistake, being arrogant and markedly cut off from reality – with the confidence given to him by the mighty elite forces, which elected him and by his contempt of the common people which characterizes him. ..."
"... Observing Macron, the people understood what lied ahead for them. They felt their backs against the wall – they felt that they had only themselves to rely on, that they had to take themselves action to save themselves and their country. ..."
"... This was the decisive moment, the moment the historical mission of Macron was achieved . By establishing the most absolute control of Finance over Politics, he himself invited Revolution. His triumph and his tragedy came together. ..."
"... Many established "leftists" or "radical" intellectuals, who used to feverishly haul capitalism over the coals – although the last thing they really wanted was to experience a real revolution during their lifetime – they too, stand now frightened, looking at an angry Bucephalus running ahead of them. They prefer a stable capitalism, of which they can constitute its "consciousness", writing books, appearing on shows and giving lectures, analyzing its crises and explaining its tribulations. They idea that the People could at some point take seriously what they themselves said, never crossed their minds either! ..."
"... Today, four out of five French people disapprove of Macron's policies and one in two demands that he resigns immediately. We assume that this percentage is greater than the percentage of Russians who wanted the ousting of Tsar Nicholas II in February 1917. ..."
"... France is currently almost in a state of Power Vacuum . The president and the government cannot in essence govern and the people cannot tolerate them. It is not a situation of dual power, but a situation of dual legitimacy , in Mélenchon 's accurate description. ..."
"... This is a typical definition of a revolutionary situation . As history teaches us, the emergence of such a situation is necessary but not sufficient condition for a victorious Revolution. What is required in or order to turn a rebellion into a potentially victorious Revolution, is a capable and decided leadership and an adequate strategy, program and vision. These elements do not seem to exist, at last not for now, in today's France, as they did not exist in May 1968 or during the Russian Revolution of February 1917. Therefore, the present situation remains open to all possible eventualities; there must be no doubt however, that this is the beginning of a period of intense political and class conflicts in Europe, and that the Europe, as we know it, is already history. ..."
"... Or at least, for the people to be given the opportunity to develop an effective way of controlling state power. ..."
"... By reversing Marx's famous formula in German Ideology , the ideas of the dominant class do not dominate society. This is why the situation can be described as revolutionary. ..."
"... Although it is difficult to form an opinion from afar about how the situation may unfold, the formation of a such a United Front from grassroots could perhaps offer a way out with regards to the need for a political leadership for the movement, or even of the need to work out a transitional economic program for France, which must also serve as a transitional program for Europe . ..."
"... Contrary to how things were a century ago, certain factors such as the educational level of the lower social classes, the existence of a number of critical, radical thinkers with the necessary intellectual skills and the Internet, render such a possibility a much more realistic scenario today, than in the past. ..."
Jan 14, 2019 | www.defenddemocracy.press

The magazine Le Point is one of the main media outlets of the French conservative "centre-right". One of its December issues carries the cover title France Faces its History. 1648, 1789, 1830, 1848, 1871 four centuries of revolutions.

The cover features also a painting by Pierre-Jérôme Lordon, showing people clashing with the army at Rue de Babylone , in Paris, during the Revolution of 1830. Perhaps this is where Luc Ferry, Chirac's former minister, got his idea from, when, two days ago, he asked the Army to intervene and the police to start shooting and killing Yellow Vests.

Do not be surprised if you haven't heard this from your TV or if you don't know that the level of police repression and violence in France, measured in people dead, injured and arrested, has exceeded everything the country has experienced since 1968. Nor should you wonder why you don't know anything about some Yellow Vest's new campaign calling for a massive run on French banks. Or why you have been lead you to believe that the whole thing is to do with fuel taxes or increasing minimum wage.

The vast majority of European media didn't even bother to communicate to their readers or viewers the main political demands of the Yellow Vests ; and certainly, there hasn't been any meaningful attempt to offer an insightful interpretation of what's happening in France and there is just very little serious on-the-ground reporting, in the villages and motorways of France.

Totalitarianism

Following Napoleon's defeat in Waterloo, European Powers formed the Holy Alliance banning Revolutions.

Nowadays, Revolutions have just been declared inconceivable (Soros – though not just him – has been giving a relentless fight to take them out of history textbooks or, as a minimum, to erase their significance and meaning). Since they are unthinkable they cannot happen. Since they cannot happen they do not happen.

In the same vein, European media sent their journalists out to the streets in Paris on Christmas and New Year's days, counted the protesters and found that they weren't too many after all. Of course they didn't count the 150,000 police and soldiers lined up by Macron on New Year's Eve. Then they made sure that they remain "impartial" and by just comparing numbers of protesters, led viewers to think that we are almost done with it – it was just a storm, it will pass.

The other day I read a whole page article about Europe in one of the most "serious" Greek newspapers, on 30.12. The author devoted just one single meaningless phrase about the Vests. Instead, the paper still found the way to include in the article the utterly stupid statement of a European Right-Wing politician who attributed the European crisis to the existence of Russia Today and Sputnik! And when I finally found a somewhat more serious article online about the developments in France, I realized that its only purpose was to convince us that what is happening in France surely has nothing to do with 1789 or 1968!

It is only a pity that the people concerned, the French themselves, cannot read in Greek. If they could, they would have realized that it does not make any sense to have "Revolution" written on their vests or to sing the 1789 song in their demonstrations or to organize symbolic ceremonies of the public "decapitation" of Macron, like Louis XV. And the French bourgeois press would not waste time everyday comparing what happens in the country now with what happened in 1968 and 1789.

Totalitarianism is not just a threat. It's already here. Simply it has omitted to announce its arrival. We have to deduce its precence from its results.

A terrified ruling class

The French bourgeoisie is the politically most experienced ruling class in Europe. It has no illusions about the challenge it faces. Le Point put its file on the revolt of the vests under the self-telling title "What is waiting us".

A few months ago, all we had about Macron in the papers was praise, inside and outside of France – he was the "rising star" of European politics, the man who managed to pass the "reforms" one after the other, no resistance could stop him, he would be the one to save and rebuild Europe. Varoufakis admired and supported him, as early as of the first round of the 2017 elections.

Now, the "chosen one" became a burden for those who put him in office. Some of them probably want to get rid of him as fast as they can, to replace him with someone else, but it's not easy – and even more so, it is not easy given the monarchical powers conferred by the French constitution to the President. The constitution is tailored to the needs of a President who wants to safeguard power from the people. Those who drafted it could not probably imagine it would make difficult for the Oligarchy also to fire him!

Read also: Scandaleux : le fondateur du parti fasciste ukrainien Svoboda reçu à l'Assemblée et au Sénat !

And who would dare to hold a parliamentary or presidential election in such a situation, as in France today? No one knows what could come out of it. Moreover, Macron does not have a party in the sense of political power. He has a federation of friends who benefit as long as he stays in power and they are damaged when he collapses.

The King is naked

"The King is naked", points out Le Point's editorial, before, with almost sadistic callousness, posing the question: "What can a government do when a remarkable section of the people vomits it?"

But it's not only the king who is naked. The whole system is naked. In the many pages devoted by the magazine to demonstrate that what the Vests want is unfeasible, not even a single serious word is written about what needs to be done to deal with the deep causes which led the French to revolt. Today's capitalism of Macron, Merkel and Trump does not produce a Roosevelt and New Deal or Popular Fronts – and we have to wait to see if it will produce a Hitler as some are trying to achieve. For the time being, it only produces Yellow Vests!

They predicted it, they saw it coming, but they didn't believe it!

Yet they could have predicted all that. It would have sufficed, had they only taken seriously and studied a book published in France in late 2016, six months before the presidential election, highlighting the explosive nature of the social situation and warning of the danger of revolution and civil war.

The title of the book was "Revolution". Its author was none other than Emmanuel Macron himself. Six months later, he would become the President of France, to eventually verify, and indeed rather spectacularly, his predictions. But the truth is probably, that not even he himself gave much credit to what he wrote just to win the election.

By constantly lying, politicians, journalists and intellectuals reasonably came to believe that even their own words are of no importance. That they can say and do anything they want, without any consequence.

In Oscar Wilde's masterpiece "The Picture of Dorian Gray", the main character looks every night at his horrible real self in the mirror. But he looks at it alone.

This is where Macron made his most fatal mistake, being arrogant and markedly cut off from reality – with the confidence given to him by the mighty elite forces, which elected him and by his contempt of the common people which characterizes him.

Unwise and Arrogant, he made no effort to hide – this is how sure he felt of himself, this is how convinced his environment was that he could infinitely go on doing anything he wanted without any consequences (same as our Tsipras). Thus, acting foolishly and arrogantly, he left a few million eyes to see his real face. This was the last straw that made the French people realize in a definite way what they had already started figuring out during Sarkozy's and Hollande's, administration, or even earlier. Observing Macron, the people understood what lied ahead for them. They felt their backs against the wall – they felt that they had only themselves to rely on, that they had to take themselves action to save themselves and their country.

There was nobody else to make it in their place.

Macron as a Provocateur. Terror in Pompeii

This was the decisive moment, the moment the historical mission of Macron was achieved . By establishing the most absolute control of Finance over Politics, he himself invited Revolution. His triumph and his tragedy came together.

It was just then, that Bucephalus (*) sprang from the depths of historical Memory, galloping without a rider, ready to sweep away everything in his path.

Now those in power look at him with fear, but fearful too are both the "radical right" and the "radical left". Le Pen has already called on protesters to return to their homes and give her names to include in her list for the European election!

Mélenchon supports the Vests – 70% of their demands coincide with the program of his party, La France Insoumise – but so far he hasn't dared to join the people in demanding Macron's resignation, by adopting the immense, but orphan, cry of the people heard all over France: "Macron resign". Perhaps he feels that he hasn't got the steely strength and willpower required for attempting to lead such a movement.

The unions' leadership is doing everything it can to keep the working class away from the Vests, but this stand started causing increasing unrest at its base.

Read also: Macron Prepares a Social War

Many established "leftists" or "radical" intellectuals, who used to feverishly haul capitalism over the coals – although the last thing they really wanted was to experience a real revolution during their lifetime – they too, stand now frightened, looking at an angry Bucephalus running ahead of them. They prefer a stable capitalism, of which they can constitute its "consciousness", writing books, appearing on shows and giving lectures, analyzing its crises and explaining its tribulations. They idea that the People could at some point take seriously what they themselves said, never crossed their minds either!

In fact, this is also a further confirmation of the depth of the movement. Lenin , who, in any event knew something about revolutions, wrote in 1917: "In a revolutionary situation, the Party is a hundred times farther to the left than the Central Committee and the workers a hundred times farther to the left than the Party."

"Revolutionary Situation" and Power Vacuum

Today, four out of five French people disapprove of Macron's policies and one in two demands that he resigns immediately. We assume that this percentage is greater than the percentage of Russians who wanted the ousting of Tsar Nicholas II in February 1917.

France is currently almost in a state of Power Vacuum . The president and the government cannot in essence govern and the people cannot tolerate them. It is not a situation of dual power, but a situation of dual legitimacy , in Mélenchon 's accurate description.

This is a typical definition of a revolutionary situation . As history teaches us, the emergence of such a situation is necessary but not sufficient condition for a victorious Revolution. What is required in or order to turn a rebellion into a potentially victorious Revolution, is a capable and decided leadership and an adequate strategy, program and vision. These elements do not seem to exist, at last not for now, in today's France, as they did not exist in May 1968 or during the Russian Revolution of February 1917. Therefore, the present situation remains open to all possible eventualities; there must be no doubt however, that this is the beginning of a period of intense political and class conflicts in Europe, and that the Europe, as we know it, is already history.

People's Sovereignty at the center of demands

Starting from fuel tax the revolting French have now put at the centre of their demands, in addition to Macron's resignation, the following:

In other words, they demand a profound and radical " transformation " of the Western bourgeois-democratic regime, as we know it, towards a form of direct democracy in order to take back the state, which has gradually and in a totalitarian manner – but while keeping up democratic appearances – passed under direct and full control of the Financial Capital and its employees. Or at least, for the people to be given the opportunity to develop an effective way of controlling state power.

These are not the demands of a fun-club of Protagoras or of some left-wing or right-wing groupuscule propagating Self-Management or of some club of intellectuals. Nor are they the demands of only the lowest social strata of the French nation.

They are supported, according to the polls and put forward by at least three quarters of French citizens, including a sizeable portion of the less poor. In such circumstances, these demands constitute in effect the Will of the People, the Will of the Nation.

The Vests are nothing more than its fighting pioneers. And precisely because it is the absolute majority of people who align with these demands, even if numbers have somewhat gone down since the beginning of December, the Vests are still wanted out on the streets.

By reversing Marx's famous formula in German Ideology , the ideas of the dominant class do not dominate society. This is why the situation can be described as revolutionary.

And also because it is not only the President and the Government, who have been debunked or at least de-legitimized, but it's also the whole range of state and political institutions, the parties, the unions, the "information" media and the "ideologists" of the regime.

The questioning of the establishment is so profound that any arguments about violence and the protesters do not weaken society's support for them. Many, but not all, condemn violence, but there are not many who don't go on immediately to add a reminder of the regime's social violence against the people. When a famous ex-boxer lost his temper and reacted by punching a number of violent police officers, protesters set up a fundraising website for his legal fees. In just two hours they managed to raise around 120.000 euro, before removing the page over officials' complaints and threats about keeping a file on anyone who contributes money to support such causes.

Read also: Greece: Creditors out to crush any trace of Syriza disobedience

Until now, an overwhelming majority of the French people supports the demands while an absolute majority shows supports for the demonstrations; but of course, it is difficult to keep such a deadlock and power-void situation going for long. They will sooner or later demand a solution, and in situations such as these it is often the case that public opinion shifts rapidly from the one end of the political spectrum to the other and vice versa, depending on which force appears to be more decisive and capable of driving society out of the crisis.

The organization of the Movement

Because the protesters have no confidence in the parties, the trade unions, or anyone else for that matter, they are driven out of necessity into self-organization, as they already do with the Citizens' Assemblies that are now emerging in villages, cities and motorway camps. Indeed, by the end of the month, if everything goes well, they will hold the first " Assembly of Assemblies ".

Similar developments have also been observed in many revolutionary movements of this kind in various countries. A classic example is the spontaneous formation of the councils ( Soviets ) during the Russian revolutions of 1905 and 1917.

Although it is difficult to form an opinion from afar about how the situation may unfold, the formation of a such a United Front from grassroots could perhaps offer a way out with regards to the need for a political leadership for the movement, or even of the need to work out a transitional economic program for France, which must also serve as a transitional program for Europe .

Contrary to how things were a century ago, certain factors such as the educational level of the lower social classes, the existence of a number of critical, radical thinkers with the necessary intellectual skills and the Internet, render such a possibility a much more realistic scenario today, than in the past.

Because the movement's Achilles' Heel is that, while it is already in the process of forming a political proposition, it still, at least for now, does not offer any economic alternative or a politically structured, democratically controlled leadership.

Effective Democracy is an absolute requirement in such a front, because it is the only way to synthesize the inevitably different levels of consciousness within the People and to avoid a split of the movement between "left" and "right", between those who are ready to resort to violence to achieve their ends and those who have a preference for more peaceful, gradual processes.

Such a " front " could perhaps also serve as a platform for solidifying a program and vision, to which the various parties and political organizations could contribute.

In her Critique of the Russian Revolution Rosa Luxemburg , the leader of the German Social Democracy was overly critical of the Bolsheviks , even if, I think, a bit too severe in some points. But she closes her critique with the phrase: " They at least dared "

Driven by absolute Need, guided by the specific way its historical experience has formed its consciousness, possessing a Surplus of Consciousness, that is able to feel the unavoidable conclusions coming out of the synthesis of the information we all possess, about both the "quality" of the forces governing our world and the enormous dangers threatening our countries and mankind, the French People, the French Nation has already crossed the Rubicon.

By moving practically to achieve their goals at a massive scale, and regardless of what is to come next, the French people has already made a giant leap up and forward and, once more in its history, it became the world's forerunner in tackling the terrible economic, ecological, nuclear and technological threats against human civilization and its survival.

Without the conscious entry of large masses into the historical scene, with all the dangers and uncertainties that such a thing surely implies, one can hardly imagine how humanity will survive.

Note

(*) Bucephalus was the horse of Alexander the Great, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bucephalus

[Jan 22, 2019] Latin America Here's how neoliberal economists wreak havoc on the global poor while protecting the financial elite by Vijay Prashad

Notable quotes:
"... November 14, 2018 ..."
"... This article was produced by Globetrotter , a project of the Independent Media Institute. ..."
www.defenddemocracy.press
Thanks to the IMF, the pockets of the forgotten from Argentina to Mexico will suffer so that finance is left intact.

November 14, 2018

On December 1, Mexico will have a new president -- Andrés Manuel López Obrador. He will take over the presidency from the lackluster Enrique Peña Nieto, whose administration is marinated in corruption. Peña Nieto's legal office has already asked the Supreme Court to shield his officials from prosecution for corruption. The elite will protect itself. López Obrador will not be able to properly exorcize the corrupt from the Mexican state, let alone from Mexican society. Corrupt weeds grow on the soil of capitalism, the loam of profit and greed as well as of rents from government contracts.

López Obrador comes to the presidency as a man of the left, but the space for maneuvering that he has for a left agenda is minimal. Mexico's economy, through geography and trade agreements, is fused with that of the United States. More than 80 percent of Mexico's exports go to its neighbor to the north, while Mexico's financial sector is almost entirely at the mercy of Northern banks.

Already, López Obrador has had to deal with the leash from Northern banks that sits tightly around Mexico's throat. On October 28, after the election, López Obrador canceled the project to build a new airport for Mexico City. This new airport -- at a cost of US$13.4 billion -- is seen as far too expensive (Istanbul has just inaugurated a new airport, far bigger, for almost US$2 billion less). The peso fell, the Mexican stock market fell, Fitch downgraded Mexico to "negative," and international investors frowned.

Then, in early November, legislators from López Obrador's party -- Morena -- proposed laws to limit bank fees. Mexico's stock market collapsed. It was the worst single-day loss of the BMV stock index in seven years. The bankers sent López Obrador a message: don't rock the boat.

Hastily, López Obrador's choice for the finance ministry -- Carlos Urzúa -- scolded the legislators and winked to the banks. Urzúa, an economist, has spent years consulting for the World Bank and other such agencies. It is hard to find an economist these days who has not put his fingers into a consultancy for either the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The economics profession has slid almost wholesale into the pocket of international agencies that are committed to a very asphyxiating version of public policy -- one that goes by the name of neoliberalism. It is a policy framework that favors multinational corporations over workers, one that seeks to control inflation rather than find ways to improve the livelihood of people. Finance is the religion, while Money is God.

Read also: Trump's Plan Makes Nuclear War More Likely

López Obrador and Urzúa do not have the political power to challenge the order of things.

IMF Comes to Mexico City

Just a month before López Obrador takes office, the IMF sent a team to Mexico. This team came to do a study based on the IMF charter's Article IV. Its report set limits on what López Obrador's government can do. There is the usual verbal concern expressed for inequality and poverty, but this is just window-dressing. Nothing in the IMF staff statement indicated a policy that would tackle Mexico's grave problems of poverty and inequality.

What the report details instead is a caution that López Obrador must not try to invest funds in infrastructure that benefits the Mexican people -- investment, for instance, in the sclerotic oil industry (Pemex). Mexico, an oil exporting state, imports oil because it has limited refining capacity. López Obrador has said he wants Mexico to properly develop the state-run oil firm Pemex. But the IMF staff statement says that "further improvements of Pemex's financial situation are a prerequisite before new investments in refining can be contemplated." López Obrador will be forced to make drastic cuts in Pemex and to continue to drain the exchequer to import oil. No structural change is going to be possible here without a negative IMF report, which would further encourage an investment strike into Mexico.

Someone should encourage the IMF to stop sending staff teams into countries like Mexico. Each report is identical to the previous one. Nothing seems to be learned by these teams. Years ago, a senior IMF economist told me that when he arrived in a Central Asian country he knew nothing of that country, he got to see nothing of it when he was there and he knew virtually nothing when he drafted the Article IV review. All he did in the country was sit in one air-conditioned room after another, listen to canned reports from nervous finance ministry officials and then develop the report based on the IMF's same old recipe -- make cuts, target welfare, privatize and make sure that the banks are happy.

Read also: Brexit: Here's how top economists are reacting to Britain's shocking vote

Latitude for creative policy making is simply not available. The IMF comes to town to tell new governments to behave. López Obrador and his cabinet will have to listen. Any deviation from the IMF recipe will make investors flee and foreign investment dry up. It is so easy these days to suffocate a country.

IMF Comes to Buenos Aires

For the past two decades, the IMF had found it difficult to dictate terms in Latin America. From 2002 to 2007, left-leaning governments governed most of the region, where economic activity was helped along by high commodity prices (including oil prices) and high remittance payments.

Even Mexico's conservative President Felipe Calderón (2006-2012) had to lean into the prevailing winds of Bolivarianism. In 2011, at the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, Calderón championed integration of Latin America -- something that is least to be expected from a Mexican head of government, because Mexico is firmly integrated into the United States.

The world financial crisis from 2007 hit Latin America hard. Calderón went to Davos the next year and said that Latin America would be insulated from the crisis. Far from it, Mexico had already begun to suffer job loss as the economy of its main trade partner -- the United States -- contracted. An IMF study found that Latin America lost 40 percent of its wealth in 2008. Public finances contracted, and public investments declined. Inflation led to higher poverty rates and to social instability.

A quick summary: Why did Latin America's economies suffer a crisis after 2007? It was not because of the left-leaning governments and their policies. It was because of the over-leveraged financial system, only one of whose asset bubbles -- U.S. housing prices -- collapsed. Deep integration into and reliance upon the U.S.-dominated financial system, and poor diversification of their economies from the U.S. market, meant that as the U.S. banks contracted, Latin America felt the pain. Over 80 percent of Argentina's private debt was in dollars in 2002, while only a quarter of Argentina's economy was geared toward exports. This was the fuel that was fated to burst into flame. It is this dollar reliance that could not be corrected.

Read also: BRICS: Superpowers in Traditional Medicine

The exported economic problem had a political impact. It weakened the left-leaning governments, even as these governments tried to ameliorate the crisis. Many of these governments -- from Argentina to Brazil -- lost elections, while social turmoil struck others -- from Venezuela to Nicaragua. It is in this context that the International Monetary Fund returned to Latin America with a vengeance.

After two decades of relative absence, the IMF has now returned to Argentina (on which please see this dossier from Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research). Its Article IV staff statement from December last year pointed to the problems of high borrowing in foreign currency, a problem that was recognized in 2001-2002. But the power of international finance -- centered at Wall Street and the City of London -- prevented any easy pivot out of this problem. It was easier to demand cuts from the already meager incomes of ordinary people.

In 1994, Mexico suffered from what became known as the "tequila crisis," as the peso collapsed when international capital fled the country. The government would not place capital controls to protect the peso against currency speculators. The "tequila effect" then spread to South America. No one was prepared to stand up to the dollar and the speculators. From the forests of Chiapas, Subcomandante Marcos of the Zapatistas spoke out in favor of the pockets of the forgotten, the people who did not cause the crisis but who would bear the cost of these financial shenanigans. Once more, with help from the IMF, the pockets of the forgotten from Argentina to Mexico will suffer so that finance is left intact.

This article was produced by Globetrotter , a project of the Independent Media Institute.

Published at https://www.alternet.org/2018/11/international-monetary-fund-flexes-its-muscles-latin-america/

[Jan 21, 2019] Sound financial advice

Jan 21, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

BandGap , 2 hours ago link

Retirement? Hahahahahahahahahaha! Whatever.

in 2008 I switched everything into bonds, didn't lose anything in the market. In 2011 I got divorced and lost 55%. My advice, stay married.

[Jan 21, 2019] Should Retirees Worry About Bear Markets

Notable quotes:
"... Currently, the S&P 500 (as of 1/18/19) is trading at 2,670 with Q4-2018 trailing reported earnings estimated to be $139.50. ( S&P Data ) This puts the 10-year average trailing P/E ratio of the S&P at a rather lofty 28.86x. ..."
Jan 21, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Should Retirees Worry About Bear Markets?

by Tyler Durden Mon, 01/21/2019 - 12:55 31 SHARES Authored by Lance Roberts via RealInvestmentAdvice.com,

Mark Hulbert recently wrote a piece suggesting "Retirees Should Not Fear A Bear Market." To Wit:

"Don't give up hope.

I'm referring to what many retirees are most afraid of: Running out of money before they die. An Allianz Life survey found that far more retirees are afraid of outliving their money than they are of dying -- 61% to 39%. This ever-present background fear is especially rearing its ugly head right now, given the bear market that too many came out of nowhere.

Retirement planning projections made at the end of the third quarter, right as the stock market was registering its all-time highs, now need to be revised.

The reason not to give up hope is that the stock market typically recovers from bear markets in a far shorter period of time than most doom and gloomers think. Consider what I found when measuring how long it took, after each of the 36 bear markets since 1900 on the bear market calendar maintained by Ned Davis Research Believe it or not, the average recovery time was 'just' 3.2 years."

Mark correctly used total return numbers in his calculations, however, while his data is correct the conclusion is not.

Here is why.

While Mark is discussing the recovery of bear markets (getting back to even) it is based on a "buy and hold" investing approach.

However, Mark's error is that he is specifically discussing "retirees" which are systematically withdrawing capital from their portfolios, paying tax on those withdrawals (from retirement accounts) and compensating for adjustments to the cost of living (not to mention spiraling "health care" costs.)

These are the same problems which plague most of the "off the shelf" financial plans today:

  1. Faulty assumptions based on average historic rates of returns rather than variable rates of return, and;
  2. Not accounting for the current level of market valuations at the outset of the planning process.

To explain the problems with both Mark's assumptions, and the vast majority of financial plans spit out of computer programs today, let's turn to some previous comments from Michael Kitces.

"Given the impact of inflation, it's problematic to start digging into retirement principal immediately at the start of retirement, given that inflation-adjusted spending needs could quadruple by the end of retirement (at a 5% inflation rate). Accordingly, the reality is that to sustain a multi-decade retirement with rising spending needs due to inflation, it's necessary to spend less than the growth/income in the early years, just to build enough of a cushion to handle the necessary higher withdrawals later!

For instance, imagine a retiree who has a $1,000,000 balanced portfolio, and wants to plan for a 30-year retirement, where inflation averages 3% and the balanced portfolio averages 8% in the long run. To make the money last for the entire time horizon, the retiree would start out by spending $61,000 initially, and then adjust each subsequent year for inflation, spending down the retirement account balance by the end of the 30th year."

Michael's assumptions on expanding inflationary pressures later in retirement is correct, however, they don't take into account the issue of taxation. So, let's adjust Kitces' chart and include not only the impact of inflation-adjusted returns but also taxation. The chart below adjusts the 8% return structure for inflation at 3% and also adjusts the withdrawal rate up for taxation at 25%. By adjusting the annualized rate of return for the impact of inflation and taxes, the life expectancy of a portfolio grows considerably shorter. While inflation and taxes are indeed important to consider, those are not the biggest threat to retiree's portfolios.

There is a massive difference between 8% "average" rates of return and 8% "actual" returns.

The Impact Of Variability

Currently, the S&P 500 (as of 1/18/19) is trading at 2,670 with Q4-2018 trailing reported earnings estimated to be $139.50. ( S&P Data ) This puts the 10-year average trailing P/E ratio of the S&P at a rather lofty 28.86x.

We also know that forward returns from varying valuation levels are significantly varied depending on when you start your investing. As shown in the chart below, from current valuation levels, forward returns from the market have been much closer to 2% rather than 8%.

As evidenced by the graph, as valuations rise future rates of annualized returns fall. This should not be a surprise as simple logic states that if you overpay today for an asset, future returns must, and will, be lower.

Math also proves the same. Capital gains from markets are primarily a function of market capitalization, nominal economic growth plus the dividend yield. Using the Dr. John Hussman's formula we can mathematically calculate returns over the next 10-year period as follows:

(1+nominal GDP growth)*(normal market cap to GDP ratio / actual market cap to GDP ratio)^(1/10)-1

Therefore, IF we assume that

We would get forward returns of:

(1.04)*(.8/1.25)^(1/30)-1+.02 = 4.5%

But there's a "whole lotta ifs" in that assumption.

More importantly, if we assume that inflation remains stagnant at 2%, as the Fed hopes, this would mean a real rate of return of just 2.5%.

This is far less than the 8-10% rates of return currently promised by the Wall Street community. It is also why starting valuations are critical for individuals to understand when planning for the accumulation phase of the investment life-cycle.

Let's take this a step further. For the purpose of this article, we went back through history and pulled the 4-periods where trailing 10-year average valuations (Shiller's CAPE) were either above 20x earnings or below 10x earnings. We then ran a $1000 investment going forward for 30-years on a total-return, inflation-adjusted, basis.

At 10x earnings, the worst performing period started in 1918 and only saw $1000 grow to a bit more than $6000. The best performing period was actually not the screaming bull market that started in 1980 because the last 10-years of that particular cycle caught the "dot.com" crash. It was the post-WWII bull market that ran from 1942 through 1972 that was the winner. Of course, the crash of 1974, just two years later, extracted a good bit of those returns.

Conversely, at 20x earnings, the best performing period started in 1900 which caught the rise of the market to its peak in 1929. Unfortunately, the next 4-years wiped out roughly 85% of those gains . However, outside of that one period, all of the other periods fared worse than investing at lower valuations. (Note: 1993 is still currently running as its 30-year period will end in 2023.)

The point to be made here is simple and was precisely summed up by Warren Buffett:

"Price is what you pay. Value is what you get."

This idea becomes much clearer by showing the value of $1000 invested in the markets at both valuations BELOW 10x trailing earnings and ABOVE 20x. I have averaged each of the 4-periods above into a single total return, inflation-adjusted, index, Clearly, investing at 10x earnings yields substantially better results.

Not surprisingly, the starting level of valuations has the greatest impact on your future results.

But, most importantly, starting valuations are critical to withdrawal rates

When we adjust the spend down structure for elevated starting valuation levels, and include inflation and taxation, a much different, and far less favorable, financial outcome emerges – the retiree runs out of money not in year 30, but in year 18.

As John Coumarionos previously wrote:

"And, if you're retired and withdrawing from your portfolio, the 'sequence-of-return' risk – the problem of the early years of withdrawals coinciding with a declining portfolio – can upend your entire retirement. That's because a portfolio in distribution that experiences severe declines at the beginning of the distribution phase, cannot recover when the stock market finally rebounds. Because of the distributions, there is less money in the portfolio to benefit from stock gains when they eventually materialize again.

I showed that risk in a previous article where I created the following chart representing three hypothetical portfolios using the '4% rule' (withdrawing 4% of the portfolio the first year of retirement and increasing that withdrawal dollar value by 4% every year thereafter). I cherry-picked the initial year of retirement, of course (2000), so that my graphic represents a kind of worst case, or at least a very bad case, scenario. But investors close to retirement should keep that in mind because current stock prices are historically high and bond yields are historically low. That means the prospects for big investment returns over the next decade are dim and that increasing stock exposure could be detrimental to retirement plans once again. In my example, decreasing stock exposure benefits the portfolio in distribution phase, and that could be the case for retirees now."

As John correctly notes, there is a case for owning stocks in a retirement portfolio, just maybe not as much as your "run of the mill" financial plan suggests. To wit:

"Returns from cash and bonds may not keep up with inflation, after all. But stock returns might fall short too. And if stocks do lag, they probably won't do so with the limited volatility that bonds tend to deliver, barring a serious bout of inflation. So, if you're within a decade of retirement, it may be time to think hard about how much stock exposure is enough. The answer might be less than you think for a portfolio in distribution phase."

Questions Retirees Need To Ask About Plans

Importantly, what this analysis reveals, is that "retirees" SHOULD be worried about bear markets. Taking the correct view of your portfolio, and the risk being undertaken, is critical when entering the retirement and distribution phase of the portfolio life cycle.

More importantly, when building and/or reviewing your financial plan – these are the questions you must ask and have concrete answers for:

If the answer is "no" to the majority of these questions then feel free to contact one of the CFP's in our office who take all of these issues into account.

With debt levels rising globally, economic growth on the long-end of the cycle, interest rates rising, valuations high, and a potential risk of a recession, the uncertainty of retirement plans has risen markedly. This lends itself to the problem of individuals having to spend a bulk of their "retirement" continuing to work.

Two previous bear markets have devastated the retirement plans of millions of individuals in the economy today which partly explains why a large number of jobs in the monthly BLS employment report go to individuals over the age of 55.

So, not only should retirees worry about bear markets, they should worry about them a lot.


WileyCoyote , 10 minutes ago link

The insidious and hidden tax - inflation. Retirement is mostly fantasy - it is always being one step away from poverty. Even after decades of sacrifice and saving.

buzzsaw99 , 32 minutes ago link

the nikkei topped out in 1989 and still hasn't recovered nearly 30 years later. most old farts, including family members, aren't balanced, they are almost totally in stocks because they believe that the fed guarantees the s&p only goes up. if someday it doesn't, too bad for them.

boo frikkedy hoo. [/dr. evil]

brushhog , 35 minutes ago link

The only way to retire [ unless you are very wealthy ] from the system is to adopt a self-reliant lifestyle where your cost of living is way down. A single adult, in fair condition, living a self reliant lifestyle can live comfortably on 15k per year. Thats assuming no debt. To do that privately, you'll need about 400-600k, the right piece of land [ paid for ], and a whole mess of specific skills.

You wont be laying on your ***. This isnt your father's retirement of leisure. This is a shifting of focus away from contribution / compensation through the system and towards independence and literal "Self" reliance.

Big Fat Bastard , 5 minutes ago link

What is the$600k for?

All Risk No Reward , 37 minutes ago link

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

ZD1 , 38 minutes ago link

Retirees should just avoid the rigged markets.

zob2020 , 1 hour ago link

bull, bear who gives a ****? Only an idiot eats up the seed capital in pensions. All that does is set down a death date you better follow thru with- With a bullet if neccesary.

Big Fat Bastard , 1 hour ago link

Answer: NO

Why: Because most retirees are dead broke swimming in a sea of mortgage debt on a depreciating asset called a house.

saldulilem , 1 hour ago link

Did they pick only companies that existed and survived the 30-year duration, in which case they may not be representative of the market? Or did they use index, in which case there is no complementary aggregate P/E ratio to account for dividends - or did they ignore dividends altogether?

This exercise doesn't seem to arrive anywhere.

Blankfuck , 1 hour ago link

Huh? Just print more ponzi! I didnt get mine the last few recessions!

RICKYBIRD , 1 hour ago link

Very easy to calculate amortization of a retirement boodle. Just go online to a mortgage amortization calculator. 1) Put in the initial amount of the retirement stake (= the amount of a mortgage to be paid off, e.g. $1 million) 2) Punch in the projected interest rate (= the interest on the mortgage). This will be the amount the retirement boodle pays in interest/dividends over time as it's being drawn upon 3) Punch in the number of years the retirement principle will have to pay out (= the number of years the mortgage is for). Crunch these with the calculator provided and you'll get the amount the account will pay out each month (= monthly payment of a mortgage with interest). Simple and free. The only uncertain thing is the interest/dividend rate of the account. But one can be conservative (Say 2-3%) and still get a very accurate monthly payout figure.

dead hobo , 1 hour ago link

Also, nothing personal, but why should I take investment advice from someone who is still working or paid to give it? I could never figure that one out.

If I were an investment genius, I would be rich, retired long before reaching age 65, and avoiding people who need investment advice.

admin user , 1 hour ago link

Does a wild bear market **** in the portfolio?

Fahq Yuhaad , 1 hour ago link

Lolz... No, the pope does.

GotAFriendInBen , 1 hour ago link

No Lance, they need not worry

Bear markets don't exist anymore

Hero Zedge , 22 minutes ago link

They exist, according to MarketWatch, they are just over before anyone knows we are in one (yes, they said that).

Batman11 , 1 hour ago link

How much have they skimmed out of my pension with HFT?

When Wall Street has finished there will be **** all left.

Get used to it.

ZENDOG , 1 hour ago link

Is Ruthy Bader dead yet????

dead hobo , 1 hour ago link

Who knows? She's going to make Trump pull a nomination for a new justice from her cold dead, possibly long refrigerated, hands.

dead hobo , 2 hours ago link

Retirees shouldn't worry about bear markets because retirees should never be in the equity market in the first place. Especially during the times of rate normalization, where sell-siders view every utterance by the Fed as 'dovish', and algos need ultra-volatility to keep in business.

Assume $1 million in savings and Social Security of $25,000/yr based on a life of very decent wages. At 4%, very easy to earn during normalized rates from fixed income, that's $65,000/yr with NO principal reduction. Paltry for NYC or CA, but very decent for a comfortable life almost everywhere else for an old person with no debts.

ZENDOG , 2 hours ago link

""Overall, between bank accounts and retirement savings, the median American household currently holds about $11,700 , according to MagnifyMoney. Almost 30 percent of households have less than $1,000 saved, MagnifyMoney finds, though the amount varies drastically by age.Aug 28, 2018""

itstippy , 53 minutes ago link

The article says, " For instance, imagine a retiree who has a $1,000,000 balanced portfolio, and wants to plan for a 30-year retirement . . . "

It's not aimed at the median American household. The median American household doesn't have a financial advisor, portfolio, or any hope for a retirement that goes beyond a $1,800 a month Social Security check.

dead hobo , 14 minutes ago link

People dig their own holes.

BandGap , 2 hours ago link

I could easily live on 35K right now. Social security? Hahahahahahaha, not in the cards for anyone.

hoffstetter , 45 minutes ago link

Here's why:

https://www.macrotrends.net/1333/historical-gold-prices-100-year-chart

http://www.multpl.com/inflation-adjusted-s-p-500/table/by-year

booboo , 2 hours ago link

and to make matters worse it is becoming more and more difficult to find a reasonably priced canned cat food that can substituted as a Decent Liver Pate. We have a high net worth Bridge Owners party next week and the stuff we tried last month pulled the bridges right out of their mouths.

CoCosAB , 2 hours ago link

retirees MUST worry about TERRORIST FINANCIAL MARKETS. But since they are dumb as a PoS they just do nothing.

All Risk No Reward , 28 minutes ago link

You proved his point. You would be very concerned if you knew the true Money Power Monopolist Game of Thrones.

===============

All Risk No Reward , 26 minutes ago link

It won't go to zero.

The debts will persist, only the fiat required to pay the debts will vaporize - at least for Main Street.

The people who believe that FRN's are based solely on faith are complete monetary illiterates.

No, their value is based upon the trillions in physical collateral backing the debt used to create them!

This is so simple, but the programming is too strong for most people, even otherwise smart people, to escape.

costa ludus , 2 hours ago link

"Retirement" is a fairly new fad- prior to the 1950s it was unheard of - expect that fad to end some point soon. The whole concept resembles a Pyramid Scheme- as long as there are enough people at the bottom supporting those at the top everything is OK- the problem occurs when there are not enough at the bottom contributing to support those above them - which we have now.

spastic_colon , 2 hours ago link

the answer is simple; the math of a distribution portfolio is vastly different than that of a portfolio NOT making withdrawals.....depending on the amount being withdrawn the recovery point will take longer if at all.

Sorry_about_Dresden , 2 hours ago link

just keep dry powder ready for when FERAL Reserve jacks discount rate up in the teens, the geezers will make it back fast. I do not doubt I will see rates in CDs at 10%. They have to drain 4.4 trillion of gravy from the system to protect what they stole in 2008 or inflation will get it fast.

All Risk No Reward , 18 minutes ago link

"If you must fight a war, end it quickly, or you will bankrupt the country." ~Sun Tzu, Art of War

The unstated corollary is, "Engineer a never ending war (on terror) if you goal is to bankrupt the country."

What makes you think the GOAL isn't to bankrupt USA, Inc. and then seize the tax payer collateral on the national debt?

You do know your property taxed home is contractually collateral for government debt, right?

You do KNOW that, right?

They aren't dumb, WE ARE GULLIBLE CHUMPS!

Dragon HAwk , 2 hours ago link

Retirement gives you time and a chance to work a few angles that your wisdom from living so long should be pointing out to you.

Die with your boots on and stick it to the man if you can, on the way out.

[Jan 21, 2019] Anti-Trump Frenzy Threatens to End Superpower Diplomacy by Stephen F. Cohen

The problem is not Russia; the problem is the crisis of neoliberalism in the USA. And related legitimization of neoliberal elite, which now Deep State is trying ot patch with anti-Russian hysteria
Notable quotes:
"... That is, in the modern history of US-Russian summits, we are told by a former American ambassador who knows, the "secrecy of presidential private meetings has been the rule, not the exception." He continues, "There's nothing unusual about withholding information from the bureaucracy about the president's private meetings with foreign leaders . Sometimes they would dictate a memo afterward, sometimes not." Indeed, President Richard Nixon, distrustful of the US "bureaucracy," sometimes met privately with Kremlin leader Leonid Brezhnev while only Brezhnev's translator was present. ..."
Jan 16, 2019 | www.thenation.com

Baseless Russiagate allegations continue to risk war with Russia. Anti-Trump Frenzy Threatens to End Superpower Diplomacy | The Nation The New Year has brought a torrent of ever-more-frenzied allegations that President Donald Trump has long had a conspiratorial relationship -- why mince words and call it "collusion"? -- with Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin.

Why the frenzy now? Perhaps because Russiagate promoters in high places are concerned that special counsel Robert Mueller will not produce the hoped-for "bombshell" to end Trump's presidency. Certainly, New York Times columnist David Leonhardt seems worried, demanding, "The president must go," his drop line exhorting, "What are we waiting for?" (In some countries, articles like his, and there are very many, would be read as calling for a coup.) Perhaps to incite Democrats who have now taken control of House investigative committees. Perhaps simply because Russiagate has become a political-media cult that no facts, or any lack of evidence, can dissuade or diminish.

And there is no new credible evidence, preposterous claims notwithstanding. One of The New York Times ' own recent "bombshells," published on January 12, reported, for example, that in spring 2017, FBI officials "began investigating whether [President Trump] had been working on behalf of Russia against American interests." None of the three reporters bothered to point out that those "agents and officials" almost certainly included ones later reprimanded and retired by the FBI itself for their political biases. (As usual, the Times buried its self-protective disclaimer deep in the story: "No evidence has emerged publicly that Mr. Trump was secretly in contact with or took direction from Russian government officials.")

Whatever the explanation, the heightened frenzy is unmistakable, leading the "news" almost daily in the synergistic print and cable media outlets that have zealously promoted Russiagate for more than two years, in particular the Times , The Washington Post , MSNBC, CNN, and their kindred outlets. They have plenty of eager enablers, including the once-distinguished Strobe Talbott, President Bill Clinton's top adviser on Russia and until recently president of the Brookings Institution. According to Talbott , "We already know that the Kremlin helped put Trump into the White House and played him for a sucker . Trump has been colluding with a hostile Russia throughout his presidency." In fact, we do not "know" any of this. These remain merely widely disseminated suspicions and allegations.

In this cult-like commentary, the "threat" of "a hostile Russia" must be inflated along with charges against Trump. (In truth, Russia represents no threat to the United States that Washington itself did not provoke since the end of the Soviet Union in 1991.) For its own threat inflation, the Times featured not an expert with any plausible credentials but Lisa Page, the former FBI lawyer with no known Russia expertise, and who was one of those reprimanded by the agency for anti-Trump political bias. Nonetheless, the Times quotes Page at length : "In the Russian Federation and in President Putin himself you have an individual whose aim is to disrupt the Western alliance and whose aim is to make Western democracy more fractious in order to weaken our ability to spread our democratic ideals." Perhaps we should have guessed that the democracy-promotion genes of J. Edgar Hoover were still alive and breeding in the FBI, though for the Times , in its exploitation of the hapless and legally endangered Page, it seems not to matter.

Which brings us, or rather Russiagate zealots, to the heightened "threat" represented by "Putin's Russia." If true, we would expect the US president to negotiate with the Kremlin leader, including at summit meetings, as every president since Dwight Eisenhower has done. But, we are told, we cannot trust Trump to do so, because, according to The Washington Post , he has repeatedly met with Putin alone, with only translators present, and concealed the records of their private talks, sure signs of "treasonous" behavior, as the Russiagate media first insisted following the Trump-Putin summit in Helsinki in July 2018.

It's hard to know whether this is historical ignorance or Russiagate malice, though it is probably both. In any event, the truth is very different. In preparing US-Russian (Soviet and post-Soviet) summits since the 1950s, aides on both sides have arranged "private time" for their bosses for two essential reasons: so they can develop sufficient personal rapport to sustain any policy partnership they decide on; and so they can alert one another to constraints on their policy powers at home, to foes of such détente policies often centered in their respective intelligence agencies. (The KGB ran operations against Nikita Khrushchev's détente policies with Eisenhower, and, as is well established, US intelligence agencies have run operations against Trump's proclaimed goal of "cooperation with Russia.")

That is, in the modern history of US-Russian summits, we are told by a former American ambassador who knows, the "secrecy of presidential private meetings has been the rule, not the exception." He continues, "There's nothing unusual about withholding information from the bureaucracy about the president's private meetings with foreign leaders . Sometimes they would dictate a memo afterward, sometimes not." Indeed, President Richard Nixon, distrustful of the US "bureaucracy," sometimes met privately with Kremlin leader Leonid Brezhnev while only Brezhnev's translator was present.

Nor should we forget the national-security benefits that have come from private meetings between US and Kremlin leaders. In October 1986, President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev met alone with their translators and an American official who took notes -- the two leaders, despite their disagreements, agreed in principle that nuclear weapons should be abolished. The result, in 1987, was the first and still only treaty abolishing an entire category of such weapons, the exceedingly dangerous intermediate-range ones. (This is the historic treaty Trump has said he may abrogate.)

And yet, congressional zealots are now threatening to subpoena the American translator who was present during Trump's meetings with Putin. If this recklessness prevails, it will be the end of the nuclear-superpower summit diplomacy that has helped to keep America and the world safe from catastrophic war for nearly 70 years -- and as a new, more perilous nuclear arms race between the two countries is unfolding. It will amply confirm a thesis set out in my book War with Russia? -- that anti-Trump Russiagate allegations have become the gravest threat to our security.

The following correction and clarification were made to the original version of this article on January 17: Reagan and Gorbachev met privately with translators during their summit in Reykjavik, Iceland, in October 1986, not February, and Reagan was also accompanied by an American official who took notes. And it would be more precise to say that the two leaders, despite their disagreements, agreed in principle that nuclear weapons should be abolished.

Stephen F. Cohen is professor emeritus of politics and Russian studies at Princeton and NYU and author of the new book War with Russia? From Putin and Ukraine to Trump and Russiagate . This commentary is based on the most recent of his weekly discussions of the new US-Russian Cold War with the host of the John Batchelor radio show. (The podcast is here . Previous installments, now in their fifth year, are at TheNation.com . )

[Jan 21, 2019] Skripal Story Just Got Weirder; First Responder Revealed As Chief Army Nurse; Steele Link Blamed On Russia

Notable quotes:
"... The whole affair is psyop, we know that already ..."
"... Stranger and stranger British press is saying that they did CPR on both victims at the scene of their collapse; being a trained nurse one of the first things they would have done is to have taken their pulse and other vitals and miraculously managed to do this and not become contaminated. Methinks something doth stink! ..."
"... Before any free-trade agreement can be reached with the United States, the Queen must issue a written apology to President Trump for attempting to overthrow his government. ..."
Jan 21, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

The case of poisoned double-agent Sergei Skripal just got weirder after it was revealed that the first responder to the scene was the Chief Nursing Officer for the British Army after he daughter spotted Skripal and his daughter collapsed on a bench at the Maltings shopping center in Salisbury on March 5 of last year.

According to Spire FM , 16-year-old Abigail McCourt spotted the poisoned Russians while "out celebrating her brother's birthday," and then quickly alerted her mother - Alison McCourt. The two McCourts gave first aid to the Skripals until paramedics arrived.

Colonel McCourt - who was decorated for her efforts to fight Ebola in Sierra Leone, proposed her daughter as a candidate for the Lifesaver Award at Spire FM's Local Hero Awards.

"As a qualified nurse it was a fairly routine situation for me but my daughter was amazing. Her prompt actions, spotting them in difficulty, and the way she assisted me to put Yulia Skripal in the recovery position had a significant impact on the outcome of the two victims , " said Alison of her daughter.

The coincidence - kept under wraps for nearly a year , is sure to give skeptics plenty of new ammunition to refute the official narrative that Russia attempted to kill Skripal 10 years after the voluntarily gave him up in a spy exchange with the UK.

... ... ...

Christopher Steele connection walked back

In an embarrassing walkback of a story from March 2018, The Telegraph now says that the Kremlin laid a "false trail" linking Sergei Skripal to Christopher Steele - the former MI6 spy who crafted the infamous anti-Trump "Steele Dossier" paid for by Hillary Clinton's campaign.

In March, The Telegraph wrote:

The Telegraph understands that Col Skripal moved to Salisbury in 2010 in a spy swap and became close to a security consultant employed by Christopher Steele, who compiled the Trump dossier.

The British security consultant, according to a LinkedIn social network account that was removed from the internet in the past few days, is also based in Salisbury.

On the same LinkedIn account, the man listed consultancy work with Orbis Business Intelligence, according to reports. - Telegraph

On Sunday that entire connection - which implied that Skripal was somehow involved with the Steele Dossier, was blamed on Russia .

Russian intelligence created a false trail linking the double agent Sergei Skripal to the former MI6 officer behind the Trump dossier before carrying out the Salisbury nerve agent attack, the Telegraph has been told.

Well-placed sources now believe that the plot to kill Col Skripal may have included a 'black ops' attempt to sow doubt on the veracity of the explosive dossier that claims Donald Trump received Kremlin backing.

The year before the attempted assassination of Col Skripal, a mysterious post on LinkedIn suggested his MI6 handler, who is not being named, worked as a "senior analyst" at Orbis Business Intelligence, the firm that produced the Trump dossier.

...

But a number of sources have told The Telegraph that the LinkedIn profile is false - if it ever properly existed at all - and that Skripal's MI6 handler never worked for Orbis.

It is now suspected that the LinkedIn profile was created by the GRU, the Russian military intelligence unit which tried to kill Col Skripal with novichok nerve agent. - Telegraph

"By creating this link, they are suggesting that MI6 are involved with the dossier or Skripal or both. It adds to the confusion and acts as a wedge between the White House and Downing Street. It is exactly the kind of operation the Russians would order to sow confusion," said the Telegraph 's "well placed source."

"An internet hyperlink to the LinkedIn page appeared in an obscure blog posting in January 2017 - more than a year before the Salisbury attack - but the actual LinkedIn page itself has never been visible ," the Telegraph writes.

In other words, The Telegraph wrote an entire story in March of last year based on nothing more than "an internet hyperlink to the LinkedIn page" without actually having viewed the profile now blamed on a Russian black op.

But there was another possibility - one that is utterly ludicrous and now disproved - that was none the less championed by conspiracy theorists. Namely, that the death of Col Skripal was not ordered by the Kremlin at all - but carried out by British agents to silence the former Russian intelligence officer.

The reason was simple. Col Skripal - so the theory went - had helped provide information to Christopher Steele, a former senior MI6 officer, who authored an extraordinary dossier on Donald Trump, alleging that the soon-to-be president was effectively a puppet of Putin. The dossier claimed that the Kremlin had been "cultivating, supporting and assisting Trump for at least five years".

Oddly, however, a British spy named Pablo Miller was claimed by Russian media in 2007 as the MI6 agent who recruited Skripal in 1995. Miller apparently works (or worked) for Orbis - though it is unclear whether he is the same person noted in the original Telegraph report.

So - the British Army's head nurse was the first one to provide assistance to the dying Russians, while Skripal's link to Christopher Steele is now thought to be part of a Russian plot to discredit the Steele Dossier. Fascinating.


Leguran , 1 minute ago link

Fascinating??? Too much fantasy in this piece of fiction. The author seems uninterested in going beyond trying to make it look like a fantasy James Bond. Surely someone can give the 'patient in difficulty' symptoms. Good grief, to categorize this fantasy story cooked up by British Intel and hard-sell journalists, as NEWS. Is this the drivel we have to expect from journalism schools?

The_God_Particle , 22 minutes ago link

M eye 6 is complicit in the Steele Dossier on Fake Russian collusion, Trying to cover a big black eye from a so called British ally to USA that tried to run a coup on a sitting president...

keep the bastards honest , 12 minutes ago link

We always knew Pablo Miller worked for Orbis, Steele's consultancy, and was skripals handler,

the article brings out the the nurses daughter sad Yulia Skripal was not breathing, was dead, neither suffered any contact problems, unlike the policeman who was first on the scene on the old story.

FurgetStHEkatZ , 26 minutes ago link

The 'actor based reality,' which has always been a tool for TPTB to use the fair and balanced press to divide the public at large, utilizes much more than vast corps of characters, writers, producers and directors as the psyops event coordinators executing preplanned large scale operations to steer our perception with proven mind control tactics. But, they're tactics have become so simple to spot by researchers as the templates are basically similar and the plots of they're fake large scale events have become mind numbingly ridiculous for any body paying attention to even the smallest amount of detail exposed in these hoaxed

hxc , 32 minutes ago link

Wow, (((THEY))) sure LOVE gaslighting us. This mess of an attempt at an article shows how ******* stupid they really think we are. Even their warped version of one alternate theory fits their ******** narrative. ******* absurd.

rogermorris , 33 minutes ago link

Could be. but.

Porton Down is 8 miles...10 miles away? .. staff live in Salisbury...numbers of medical staff deployed at PD and area will be large...Interesting is all.

The whole affair is psyop, we know that already

Wrascaly Wabbit , 37 minutes ago link

Stranger and stranger British press is saying that they did CPR on both victims at the scene of their collapse; being a trained nurse one of the first things they would have done is to have taken their pulse and other vitals and miraculously managed to do this and not become contaminated. Methinks something doth stink!

Norfry , 43 minutes ago link

British authorities have refined to a whole new level offering bald faced lies and patent absurdities with a dignified stiff upper lip. I have it from a highly placed source that envious American and Israeli official and unofficial liars have been practicing posturing as dignified and putting glue on their upper lips.

indaknow , 44 minutes ago link

Chief nursing officer of the british army/first responder. I'm not supposed to question that right?

AutoLode , 45 minutes ago link

Remember novichok was believed to have never been achieved by the Soviets but the lab and all contents in Uzbekistan was captured by western forces

hxc , 31 minutes ago link

Invented in the USA but named in Russian.

CRITICAL THINKING

Pussy Biscuit , 46 minutes ago link

The brits are the deep statists of the deep state scum.

indaknow , 49 minutes ago link

It's all a coincidence. In fact the word coincidence is an exaggeration. Because the coincidences are happening more and more. Which makes them no longer a coincidence.

See how that works.

dunroamin , 54 minutes ago link

The previous alleged first responder was a policeman who became dangerously ill because the novichok was so potent but strangely, this woman and her daughter suffered no ill effects. I can only guess that due to her work with the British Army, she and her daughter had fortunately and coincidentally been innoculated with a novichok antidote.

hxc , 28 minutes ago link

Yeah somehow an old fat **** survived being dosed with enough nerve gas to kill a herd of elephants. Give me a ******* break.

AutoLode , 59 minutes ago link

And the only plane authorized to land on 9-12 2001 carried MI5 and MI6 chiefs

mog , 1 hour ago link

From John Helmer

Further points and questions.

http://johnhelmer.net/british-government-demolishes-skripal-house-because-sergei-skripal-poisoned-himself-roof-falls-in-on-theresa-may/

Helena Bonham-Carter , 1 hour ago link

"after he daughter spotted Skripal and his daughter"

What?

BT , 1 hour ago link

Not weirder, just the lies keep getting more obsene.

Zappalives , 1 hour ago link

Assume anything out of london is a bald face lie.

Karl Malden's Nose , 1 hour ago link

While a Mossad Agent and CIA station chief were flying kites they too noticed the Skripals and called the ambulance....

DEDA CVETKO , 1 hour ago link

And the MI-6 ambulance just happened to be passing by...

hannah , 1 hour ago link

what exactly did these 2 women do that 'saved the lives' except call 911 for help. they somehow cured a biological weapon on a park bench....?!....LOL

pablozz , 1 hour ago link

Did they use baby wipes to protect themselves?

insanelysane , 43 minutes ago link

+Infinity

The house was on lockdown forever. Even if you are a trained nurse, doctor, emt, you are out in a park with your family. What equipment are you carrying to defeat the effects of a biological weapon??? And they weren't affected. Simply amazing.

DEDA CVETKO , 1 hour ago link

Like a poorly-scripted Benny Hill show.

hooligan2009 , 1 hour ago link

a tangled web indeed. Smacks of editing completed by mr smith at the "Ministry of Truth"

let's just call it "manufactured, retrospective, plausible deniability" just so we can fit in with what other people might simply call "********".

Herodotus , 1 hour ago link

Before any free-trade agreement can be reached with the United States, the Queen must issue a written apology to President Trump for attempting to overthrow his government.

[Jan 21, 2019] Neoliberalism does not work well for the mojority of working people by Chris Becker

Notable quotes:
"... By Chris Becker. Originally published at MacroBusiness ..."
"... The problem with capitalism is when it is wedded to an ideology that has limited or perverted checks and balances. Inequality being the most dire and neglected outcome of perverting a system that does not punish the risk takers who fail. Witness the banking industry in the aftermath of the GFC. A properly tuned capitalistic system would have seen the majority of bankers incarcerated, there wealth confiscated by legal and just reparations and an overhaul of the financial sector. ..."
"... Make a system where the actors benefit by cheating and they will cheat – good people included. ..."
"... Sal si puedes. ..."
"... "This general irregularity must be placed within the irregular cycle of the working week (and indeed of the working year) which provoked so much lament from moralists and mercantilists in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. ..."
"... A rhyme printed in 1639 gives us a satirical version: ..."
"... You know that Munday is Sundayes brother; Tuesday is such another; Wednesday you must go to Church and pray; Thursday is half-holiday; On Friday it is too late to begin to spin; The Saturday is half-holiday agen. John Houghton, in 1681, gives us the indignant version: ..."
"... "When the framework knitters or makers of silk stockings had a great price for their work, they have been observed seldom to work on Mondays and Tuesdays but to spend most of their time at the ale-house or nine-pins . . . The weavers, 'tis common with them to be drunk on Monday, have their head-ache on Tuesday, and their tools out of order on Wednesday. As for the shoemakers, they'll rather be hanged than not remember St. Crispin on Monday . . . and it commonly holds as long as they have a penny of money or pennyworth of credit." ..."
"... "If you're not willing to kill everybody who has a different idea than yourself, you cannot have Frederick Hayek's free market. You cannot have Alan Greenspan or the Chicago School, you cannot have the economic freedom that is freedom for the rentiers and the FIRE (finance, insurance, real estate) sector to reduce the rest of the economy to serfdom." ..."
"... "In a libertarian society, there is no commons or public space. There are property lines, not borders. When it comes to real property and physical movement across such real property, there are owners, guests, licensees, business invitees and trespassers – not legal and illegal immigrants." ..."
"... "This is an outrageous betrayal of public trust -- but only what can be expected when private bankers are given a governing role in American monetary policy. In a sane world, private bankers would have no more voice than any other citizen in making that decision . It's time to throw these turkeys out of American monetary policy." ..."
"... "The "nation-state" as a fundamental unit of man's organized life has ceased to be the principal creative force: International banks and multinational corporations are acting and planning in terms that are far in advance of the political concepts of the nation-state." ..."
"... "The Trilateralist Commission is international (and) is intended to be the vehicle for multinational consolidation of the commercial and banking interests BY SEIZING CONTROL OF THE POLITICAL GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED STATES. The Trilateralist Commission represents a skillful, coordinated effort to seize control and consolidate the four centers of power – political, monetary, intellectual, and ecclesiastical." ..."
Jan 18, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

By Chris Becker. Originally published at MacroBusiness

It's always interesting to hear mega-capitalists complain about the very system that provides them opportunity to turn their talents into Scrooge McDuck size piles of cash. Furthermore, it's usually the most successful that have the most liberal of views and Ray Dalio, head of hedge fund Bridgewater, has weighed in again.

From CNBC :

"Capitalism basically is not working for the majority of people. That's just the reality," Dalio said at the 2018 Summit conference in Los Angeles in November. Monday, Dalio tweeted a video of his Summit talk.

"Today, the top one-tenth of 1 percent of the population's net worth is equal to the bottom 90 percent combined. In other words, a big giant wealth gap. That was the same -- last time that happened was the late '30s," Dalio said. (Indeed, research from Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman of the National Bureau of Economic Research of wealth inequality throughout the 20th century, covered by The Guardian , bears this out.)

Further, Dalio points to a survey by the Federal Reserve showing that 40 percent of adults can't come up with $400 in the case of an emergency. "It gives you an idea of what the polarity is," Dalio said. "That's a real world. That's an issue."

"We're in a situation when the economy is at a peak, we still have this very big tension. That's where we are today," he said in November. "We're in a situation where, if you have a downturn, and we will have a downturn, I believe that -- I worry that that polarity will become greater."

Here's the full talk:

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/3kUQlAUoDPw

There is no actual problem with capitalism in and of itself. As a system, compared to other systems in the past, it has provided the greatest gains to the greatest number of people in the last two centuries of human development. To borrow a catchphrase, it's settled science, and in fact maybe one of the only theories of economics that actually holds water, given that communism, socialism and other market structures have failed time and time again.

The problem with capitalism is when it is wedded to an ideology that has limited or perverted checks and balances. Inequality being the most dire and neglected outcome of perverting a system that does not punish the risk takers who fail. Witness the banking industry in the aftermath of the GFC. A properly tuned capitalistic system would have seen the majority of bankers incarcerated, there wealth confiscated by legal and just reparations and an overhaul of the financial sector.

Captured regulatory authorities and legislative assemblies overturned the fundamental cornerstone of capitalism – if you fail, you take a loss – and turned it into an even more perverse form of socialism where the losers become winners and society bears the entire burden of their mistakes.

Dalio, like Buffet and Gates before him are pointing out the problems of extreme wealth, but this is not a new phenomenon. History shows that when income and wealth inequality become widely disparate, the forces of populism rise to shake the foundations. And inequality in the US and in the Western world is again reaching those heady heights where "unbridled" (read:captured) capitalism resulted in the Great Depression:

The concentration of wealth by capturing the full yield of capitalism without distributing any seeds is worse than ever as The Economist explains:

The 16,000 families making up the richest 0.01%, with an average net worth of $371m, now control 11.2% of total wealth -- back to the 1916 share, which is the highest on record. Those down the distribution have not done quite so well: the top 0.1% (consisting of 160,000 families worth $73m on average) hold 22% of America's wealth, just shy of the 1929 peak -- and exactly the same share as the bottom 90% of the population.

Dalio is right to point out that an unworkable capitalist system, where the majority of the gains are kept by the few, creating an oligarchy that is inflexible to change, or risk, has not benefited the majority.

Lost in the amazing advances in the developing world which has embraced versions of capitalism over the last thirty years is that the average Westerner has gone nowhere in terms of wage growth and real wealth:


Similar forces have been in play in Australia:

Creating these instabilities, where it's extremely hard for someone to rise above the average wage, let alone no wage, is going to cost the whole system eventually if it is not reformed and brought back to the center where it belongs.


kimsarah , January 18, 2019 at 1:45 am

Here's a good example of today's capitalism:
https://wolfstreet.com/2019/01/17/another-retail-chain-owned-stripped-bare-by-sun-capital-goes-bankrupt/#comment-169787

james wordsworth , January 18, 2019 at 6:41 am

Capitalism "works" because it is a flawed system that steals from society. Limited liability corporations protect profits and socialize losses.

Companies get society provided benefits for well well below cost, but spend zillions avoiding contributing to their improvement (think infrastructure, public education, legal system). Consumers over consume because they are not charged the full cost of their consumption. So we get pollution, resource depletion and worker exploitation.

Capitalism is a wild stallion that can take you to places you would never get to on your own, but unharnessd it will likely also take you into a ditch. Capitalism needs to be harnessed by society. It needs to serve society. Society should not be serving capitalism.

The actions of the actors in a system can be predictable. Make a system where the actors benefit by cheating and they will cheat – good people included. Make a system that encourages good behaviour and people will be better.

The planet can not handle much more of capitalism's "success".

vidimi , January 18, 2019 at 7:36 am

capitalism works because those who benefit from it get to decide whether it works or not

Carla , January 18, 2019 at 8:13 am

YES!

WheresOurTeddy , January 18, 2019 at 12:41 pm

"To borrow a catchphrase, it's settled science, and in fact maybe one of the only theories of economics that actually holds water, given that communism, socialism and other market structures have failed time and time again."

Remember when capitalism started in earnest in the early Renaissance and the already established, competing ideology tried to strangle it in its crib and destabilize any state, no matter how small, that didn't hew to the orthodox economic and political hegemony? Oh right, me neither.

"Socialism didn't work" without acknowledging the entire resources of the European and American "first world" attempted to put down the USSR from 1917-1921, and undeclared covert war on any state with a constitution to the left of Harry Truman ever since is kind of a mitigating circumstance of "capitalism > socialism"

Ape , January 19, 2019 at 4:46 am

Not true. See the uk revolution, the dutch revolution, and the French. Each one was an attempt by capitalism to revolutionize a region and the feudal lords tried to strangle it.

But it slowly built basic accounting methods and legal social frameworks that ended up dominating the world.

Just like socialism has created legal structures that have changed basic sense with 2 steps forwards and 1 back. Who knows where it may go after a few more centuries of revolutions?

James , January 18, 2019 at 7:58 am

Make a system where the actors benefit by cheating and they will cheat – good people included.

That's the basic question in a nutshell. Can Capitalism ever be configured in such a way in which that doesn't happen? The historical record says no, not for long, "cheating" being a relative term anyway. Good capitalists will tell you they don't cheat, they simply redefine the legal meaning of the word to benefit their own interests, the law and its makers being simply another commodity to be bought and sold like any other.

notabanker , January 18, 2019 at 8:23 am

This debate on "capitalism" feels like the black mirror discussion of MMT.
MMT = Good because it is a theory that runs contrary to norms that have produced bad results.
Capitalism = Bad because it is the widely accepted theory that has led to bad results.

Reality is they are both amoral concepts that need to be applied appropriately to produce the desired results. Coming to consensus on what those results need to be is the issue.

Dalio is an interesting character. If he went public with this in November, you can bet he's been modeling it for years, made piles of money on it and he sees it at the end of its cycle. What he's not saying is how they've modeled it out for the next 5-10 years and what those outcomes entail, which is unfortunate.

Wandering Mind , January 18, 2019 at 9:54 am

I disagree with the characterization of both MMT and capitalism. MMT is mostly not theoretical, but descriptive. The system is operated as economists like Stephanie Kelton describe. What is not the "norm" is the open acknowledgement of the way in which the monetary system operates. That particular self-delusion is about 300 years old.

Capitalism is driven by the need to always expand. But what seems possible on the micro level is not possible on the macro level, at least not forever.

Grebo , January 18, 2019 at 1:25 pm

Capitalism is based on two kinds of theft. Private ownership of the gifts of nature is theft from the community. Appropriation of the surplus is theft from the workers.

I would not call that amoral.

KPL , January 18, 2019 at 8:35 am

This is the kind of lectures you will get when you bail out scoundrels. Scoundrels will blame capitalism when in reality these scoundrels define capitalism as "privatize profits and socialize losses". The temerity of these scoundrels is galling. These arsonists talk of capitalism. If capitalism had been allowed to do its job, many of these scoundrels would have been languishing in jails and the companies they run would have been dead and buried.

James , January 18, 2019 at 2:57 pm

Capitalism doesn't prescribe right or wrong in moral terms, only profits. The idea that markets could ever be self-policing is laughably misguided. We're living with that truth as we speak. Profits buy power and influence, which are then used to change the rules of the game to enable even more profits in a classic vicious cycle. Rinse and repeat until a clear winner emerges or the entire system collapses in a mass of warring factions. Looks like we've got the latter to me.

KPL , January 20, 2019 at 1:21 am

It is the bailouts (in the guise of saving the common man from something unimaginably worse, mind you) and the lack of accountability (no one going to jail, arsonists being asked to put out the fire etc.) that is simply covering capitalism with the moral hazard muck to an extent that capitalism is now unrecognizable. The rottenness of the system has been in the works since 1987 (Greenspan put) and has taken this long to germinate into a monster. Let us see how it ends!

The Rev Kev , January 18, 2019 at 8:37 am

Gotta be real specific in our terminology here. When you say Capitalism it is like saying Religion. Just as with Religion you have different flavours of it such as Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, etc. you have also different types of Capitalism as well. I suppose that you can best describe the type of Capitalism that we have in place now as 'Crony Capitalism' though others may disagree. Another aspect of the type of capitalism that has evolved is that it is built on the premise of expansion as it came of age during the past two centuries when expansion was just the way it was.
Not only has this caused problems in a world of finite resources which we are pushing the envelope off but I have no idea what would happen when the Age of Expansion ends and we instead go into the Age of Contraction which will maybe last just as long. Another problem with our brand of Capitalism is that it never captures all the costs associated with a venture. An example? All those toxic sites that fracking will leave behind? The companies will never pay to clean that mess up but it will be done – maybe – by the taxpayer so of course those companies never add those costs into their accounts. A more sustainable form of Capitalism would be forced to calculate those costs into their accounts. Just because Capitalism is the way that it is does not mean that that is the way that it has to be.

MyLessThanPrimeBeef , January 18, 2019 at 11:20 am

A little bit of every -ism.

Looking back, it appears that when humans came out of Africa, they intermixed with Neaderthals, acquiring some of the local immunity DNA, among others, and that gave them survival advantages.

And the hybridization has enabled them to overpopulate the planet, with commentators of all kinds, including those wiser ones who are aware of the over-popluation problem and climate change.

So, in the same way, we should look to combining ideas and -isms.

Not just socialism all good, capitalism all bad, etc.

John steinbach , January 18, 2019 at 8:41 am

Wrong question. Capitalism isn't designed to "work", it's designed to exploit & destroy- individuals, communities, societies, and ecosystems.

The results are overwhelmingly obvious except to elites.

WheresOurTeddy , January 18, 2019 at 12:43 pm

oh it's obvious to them too, but as Upton Sinclair said, it's impossible to get someone to understand something when their paycheck depends on them not understanding it.

sierra7 , January 18, 2019 at 5:34 pm

Correct. Without "restraint", unbridled capitalism cannot be sustained; it will eventually devour the planet and render it uninhabitable. Unbridled capitalism is an animal uncaged. That uncaged animal today, globally is devouring the commons. "Capitalism" is now, "off the rails".

prodigalson , January 18, 2019 at 8:51 am

"There is no actual problem with capitalism in and of itself. As a system, compared to other systems in the past, it has provided the greatest gains to the greatest number of people in the last two centuries of human development. To borrow a catchphrase, it's settled science, and in fact maybe one of the only theories of economics that actually holds water, given that communism, socialism and other market structures have failed time and time again."

Precisely wrong. Capitalism is a donut machine, doing its job, and spitting out donuts, it's working exactly as it's supposed to. The externalities and corruption are part and parcel of the system. Saying that "pure" capitalism wouldn't have the impurities we see in the system is the exact same arguement socialists and communists could argue for their own systems. "Communism (or capitalism) (or socialism) failed because it wasn't pure enough", essentially. Capitalism takes the worst aspects of human nature, promotes them as virtues, then acts surprised when everyone starts acting like pirates and vampire squid.

cnchal , January 18, 2019 at 9:12 am

I know. That paragraph left me laughing.

What is funny is that the post author didn't get his or her own irony.

Tom Doak , January 19, 2019 at 5:11 pm

He probably gets it, he just put it in there as a disclaimer to keep himself from being shunned by his peers in the professional class.

tegnost , January 18, 2019 at 10:06 am

capitalism assumes rational actors will balance out its flaws. He claims socialism fails but the new deal had some elements of socialism which assuaged the winner take all nature of capitalism. Deregulation basically is unmaking the rules and the result is global casino capitalism, and that's a disease just as it would be in vegas or atlantic city. I am unsurprisingly not optimistic, we had a great chance to rein it all in, twice with obama (i say twice because I was cajoled into voting for him a second time because he was supposedly going to do something good in his second term when the poor man became unshackled from the need to be re elected [irony alert: if obama had made any effort to help regular "folks" he wouldn't have had any problem getting re elected and the dnc wouldn't have needed to cheat the voters and shove her republican leaning highness down our collective throats]) and a third time with b sanders, so that's 12 years of active enrichment of the worst fackers in the world, and now this article makes it seem like maybe they are worried but they won't do anything to rein in bezos, or fix student loans, or any of the other crises facing the population. Self driving tech is going to increase traffic and consumption, who here thinks waymo and uber will give up on the fantasy because they're worried about global warming? They're worried about patents. They're worried someone else will get the mountainous payoff. It's all about the self and there is no sign that hand wringing of the nature Mr Dalio is engaging in, as sensible and reasoned as it may be, is going to lead to any changes that result in concrete material benefits going to people who the upper class, for lack of a better word, hates. The only good mope is one with a catalog of unpayable debts, who works to survive all the while paying into their social security account so the worst fackers in the world can garnish it and put a bottom tranche on their greedy securitization schemes.

diptherio , January 18, 2019 at 10:43 am

My first thought was: climate change. If your system of producing goods and services leads to environmental destruction that interferes with the ability of the planet to harbor human life, well .I'd say that's a major problem with your system.

Massinissa , January 18, 2019 at 5:00 pm

To follow on Prodigalson's analogy, Its a machine that destroys the environment to creates donuts until there is no-one left alive to eat the donuts.

lyman alpha blob , January 18, 2019 at 11:06 am

+1

What you said, plus capitalism requires constant growth with finite resources which is frankly an insane expectation.

PKMKII , January 18, 2019 at 1:20 pm

The one difference with the purity argument is that the communist apologists are pointing to the impurity of the system. The tried systems were either too capitalist or too despotic or not despotic enough or too reformist or etc.They posit that the solution is just that the system needs to have the purity of the way their political theory describes a communist system.

The capitalist apologists, apropos, point to the impurity of the individual instead. The system cannot fail, as they don't even see it as a system, it is simply "human nature." The morality of the individuals at the top of the hierarchy determines all. If capitalism is failing, it is because of the bad choices of those individuals.

Massinissa , January 18, 2019 at 5:04 pm

"The morality of the individuals at the top of the hierarchy determines all. If capitalism is failing, it is because of the bad choices of those individuals."

That's incorrect, though. The system favors those willing to exploit others and the system as structured puts those people at the top of the pyramid. Anyone with morality cannot have outstanding success in rising to the top of the economic hierarchy in this system due to their morality being a major limitation, with the possible exception of being born into wealth.

Glen , January 18, 2019 at 3:06 pm

From my background as an engineer, I have come to the conclusion that economics is not a science and should be renamed as political economics as that is a much more descriptive.

All of the "isms" are constructs of the governing rules established by governing bodies (mostly national governments) and agreements between governing bodies. All of the "isms" depend on a means to enforce the rules. I know this is all obvious to anybody who has studied this stuff. It was not to me until I started paying attention in the late 90's, and ignored all the BS we get bombarded with on a daily basis.

The current set of rules (including the unwritten class rules where the rich and poor have different rules) guarantees the end of a human inhabitable world. It seems to me that we need to re-write the rules very quickly before we are overtaken by events.

Massinissa , January 18, 2019 at 5:05 pm

Perhaps we should just go back to what Economics used to be called: Political Economy.

That name got nixed because its not fancy sounding enough.

a different chris , January 18, 2019 at 8:55 am

>As a system, compared to other systems in the past, it has provided the greatest gains to the greatest number of people in the last two centuries of human development.

How do we actually know that? What was, during the peak years, an "average" Aztec's quality of life, for example? Let alone knowing what work/remuneration system he/she existed under. And in truth, the measurement itself is capitalism's measurement. It's like ranking everybody in the country by how hard they can throw a baseball. It's useful for winning at baseball, doesn't say anything about the country's metallurgical capabilities. Capitalism is best at Capitalism! Yea!

I actually think the biggest contributor to what they claim as "the greatest gains to the greatest number of people" is sewage treatment. Which I believe has been a government initiative, yes?

Now, I'm actually not comfortable kicking over the table. Universal Health Care and really high marginal tax rates would, in my model of the world (which may be completely wrong) work well enough. We would have to study not-so-Great Britain's problems when they tried the same thing, to be sure.

JCC , January 18, 2019 at 9:01 am

The embedded youtube video doesn't seem to match the theme of the article. Is this the one you meant to link to?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5C43i3yclec

(Not that the embedded video wasn't worth taking the time to watch)

Jörgen in Germany , January 18, 2019 at 9:21 am

For me, the question is:
once capitalism is established, is it possible to rein it in? Will it not allways turn out to get out of control, to become the „real existing" capitalism. Is a capitalism „with a human face" a stable possibilty. Communism „with a human face" doesn't seem to be possible. Sytems have their own dynamics and tend to find a stable equlibrium, and for each there are only a finite number of stable states, probably defined by human nature. Power tends to concentrate.
In short: Is a capitalist system, in which the TBTF are allowed to fail, a realistic possibility?

Jack , January 18, 2019 at 9:26 am

"To borrow a catchphrase, it's settled science, and in fact maybe one of the only theories of economics that actually holds water, given that communism, socialism and other market structures have failed time and time again." Seems like the author is ignoring those successful socialistic countries like Denmark, Sweden, etc.

Massinissa , January 18, 2019 at 5:06 pm

They're social democracies, which aren't exactly socialist. They're democratic capitalist societies with some basic socialist elements.

Kurtismayfield , January 18, 2019 at 5:25 pm

Sorry, but the USA's biggest trading partner is a self declared Communist state. Anytime someone brings up the Communist boogeyman this needs to be given right back to them. Vietnam isn't doing so bad either. Of course what the Corporatists love is not the Communism but the Totalitarianism. You can still be Communist and be involved in a market economy, and China has plenty of state involvement in it's industry

greg kaiser , January 18, 2019 at 9:29 am

The FIRE sector makes money from money. Their interest and profits compound and concentrate wealth. That is the only possible outcome of capitalism.

Ex Nihilo Nihil Fit! That is the only possible outcome for the rest of the human race as a result of capitalist extractions.

Anarcissie , January 18, 2019 at 9:32 am

Seemingly a significant portion of the folk desire more stuff, regardless of the consequences. Capitalism provides more stuff for many of them, or can pretend to. Therefore they will continue to support it until it collapses. Sal si puedes.

NotTimothyGeithner , January 18, 2019 at 10:18 am

I'm pretty certain this is a case of the dopamine hit in lieu of economic security on the lower side of the income scale.

Sound of the Suburbs , January 18, 2019 at 9:39 am

Where did it all go wrong?

Economics, the time line:

Classical economics – observations and deductions from the world of small state, unregulated capitalism around them

Neoclassical economics – Where did that come from?

Keynesian economics – observations, deductions and fixes for the problems of neoclassical economics

Neoclassical economics – Why is that back?

We thought small state, unregulated capitalism was something that it wasn't as our ideas came from neoclassical economics, which has little connection with classical economics.

On bringing it back again, we had lost everything that had been learned in the 1930s, by which time it had already demonstrated its flaws.

Let's find out what capitalism really is again by going back to the classical economists.

We really need to get the cost of living back into economics.

Disposable income = wages – (taxes + the cost of living)

Cutting taxes but letting the cost of living soar has been a pointless neoliberal exercise.

Let's find out what real wealth creation is again as they worked out in the 1930s.

It's measured by GDP that excludes the transfer of existing assets like stocks and real estate as inflating asset prices isn't creating real wealth. That fictitious financial wealth has a habit of disappearing as they realised after 1929.

We need to remember the problem with the markets they discovered in the 1930s.

https://cdn.opendemocracy.net/neweconomics/wp-content/uploads/sites/5/2017/04/Screen-Shot-2017-04-21-at-13.52.41.png

1929 – Inflating the US stock market with debt (margin lending)
2008 – Inflating the US real estate market with debt (mortgage lending)

Bankers inflating asset prices with the money they create from loans.

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

Sound of the Suburbs , January 19, 2019 at 3:02 am

Michael Hudson has enlightened me as to the history of economics and I have added the other parts that were lost from the 1930s.

Sound of the Suburbs , January 18, 2019 at 9:49 am

What was that terrible existence like before capitalism?

https://libcom.org/files/timeworkandindustrialcapitalism.pdf

"This general irregularity must be placed within the irregular cycle of the working week (and indeed of the working year) which provoked so much lament from moralists and mercantilists in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

A rhyme printed in 1639 gives us a satirical version:

You know that Munday is Sundayes brother;
Tuesday is such another;
Wednesday you must go to Church and pray;
Thursday is half-holiday;
On Friday it is too late to begin to spin;
The Saturday is half-holiday agen.

John Houghton, in 1681, gives us the indignant version:

"When the framework knitters or makers of silk stockings had a great price for their work, they have been observed seldom to work on Mondays and Tuesdays but to spend most of their time at the ale-house or nine-pins . . .
The weavers, 'tis common with them to be drunk on Monday, have their head-ache on Tuesday, and their tools out of order on Wednesday. As for the shoemakers, they'll rather be hanged than not remember St. Crispin on Monday . . . and it commonly holds as long as they have a penny of money or pennyworth of credit."

Merrie England gave way to the dark satanic mills.

Capitalism is progress?

The Rev Kev , January 18, 2019 at 8:04 pm

Maybe because they had plenty of time to think while they were weaving but historically, if you had an active politically minded group, it was guaranteed that the weavers would be part of them. Until they got industrialized that is. Certainly that was true in Scotland in the 19th century.

DJG , January 18, 2019 at 9:58 am

The article is interesting, but do we truly have to be lectured by Becker?:

To borrow a catchphrase, it's settled science, and in fact maybe one of the only theories of economics that actually holds water, given that communism, socialism and other market structures have failed time and time again.

In other words, capitalism is dogma that has defeated the Arians. Try going to Wikipedia, put in "Panic of," and you will get fifteen major crashes in the U.S. economy from 1792 to 1930. That's fifteen crashes in 150 years. And this is a system that hasn't failed time and time again?

Mixed economies with strong government intervention and subsidies to the citizenry (the welfare state) have done quite well. The Venetian republic used that economic model for some 1100 years. There are alternatives to U.S. buccaneer capitalism and its endless slogans about its bestness.

whine country , January 18, 2019 at 10:15 am

Only in America:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0AFDhxk97Xg

abynormal , January 18, 2019 at 2:17 pm

https://youtu.be/gAyWvNXLn0g

TroyMcClure , January 18, 2019 at 10:27 am

Nearly dropped my phone as I desperately texted Denmark to let them know their country had failed.

Jonathan Holland Becnel , January 18, 2019 at 11:50 am

Haha

jrs , January 18, 2019 at 1:58 pm

some might agree and then probably blame immigrants *eye roll*

But there are degrees of perceived "failure" and in the U.S. these are getting pretty extreme.

Partyless Poster , January 18, 2019 at 10:28 am

They are never honest about socialism, "its been tried and it failed"
Never mention that any country that dares go socialist will immediately be economically attacked by capitalist countries. Has it ever been given a chance where it wasn't?
I always thought it funny that capitalists always say socialism doesn't work but then why are they so desperately afraid of it.

monday1929 , January 18, 2019 at 1:45 pm

And why try to spread capitalism to your main enemies, China and Russia, instead of letting them languish with their inferior systems?

jrs , January 18, 2019 at 1:53 pm

it's not clear that China's present system isn't also capitalism. Russia neither only it's also particularly corrupt. It's a raw power contest with them and the U.S. government, not an ideological one,

Massinissa , January 18, 2019 at 5:09 pm

Russia has been capitalist since the wall fell, China since Deng Xiaopings reforms. Russia is just a regular capitalist country at this point, whereas China is State Capitalism (in fact, the only major extant example of such).

diptherio , January 18, 2019 at 10:57 am

What I find so frustrating about this kind of analysis is that it takes as given that "capitalism" is a thing, something actually existing in the real world. In reality, it's a sound we make with our mouths, and nothing more. At most it's a rather vague concept whose definition there does not seem to be any real agreement on. It's a shibboleth with no actual referent in the physical world.

I think words like "capitalism" and "socialism" get used as mental shorthand because most of us can't be bothered with the nuance of reality. The policies, norms, and systems we have in place now are there because they serve (or served) the interests of some person or group of people who had enough influence/power to get them put in place. Sheldon Adelson demanding the Feds regulate on-line gambling is a perfect example. Adelson doesn't give a rip whether having the gov't remove his competitors is "capitalism" or not. It's in his interests, and if he can flex enough muscle to get the Feds to go along, he'll get his way. What label you put on the outcome is irrelevant.

The strong take what they can and the weak suffer what they must. Seems like that's been true in every large-scale society I'm familiar with, regardless of how they labled themselves.

Grebo , January 18, 2019 at 2:11 pm

A clear definition of capitalism is not to the advantage of capitalists, so we never hear one, except "private ownership of the means of production" which is not it.

People have been taught to think of capitalism simply as "the source of all good things" so by definition any alternative must be worse. No need to think about the details.

Ape , January 19, 2019 at 5:04 am

Capitalism is stock markets. The separation of labor and management from ownership by turning ownership into a financial commodity.

The difference between piracy and the dutch east india company? Capitalism.

jrs , January 18, 2019 at 2:33 pm

for leftists it seems it's often shorthand for the status quo, and the status quo economics and power relationships. So sure that's a catch all for the water us fishes hardly know we swim in.

They aren't wrong on the fact that any system that uses more resources than the earth produces WILL NOT and CAN NOT end well and that the only hope, if hope there is, is in reigning this in. And that probably, or at least probably if it is to be humane in any sense and not just be mass extermination, requires an economy geared toward human needs, not consumerism, not excess for anyone beyond what the world can produce.

Sometimes this system we live in produces more or less inequality, how much depends on how much the powerful are able to take, how much power they have to direct all wealth to themselves. Always it produces wage slavery, deprived as wage slaves are of their own subsistence other than by selling their labor. They might have more of less of a voice in the workplace, in the U.S. they have pretty much none. So the U.S. status quo is a powerless vast mass of people that must work for a living whose lives are dictated by economic powers beyond their control. And then there are the rentiers taking their cut from everyone working for a living as well. The returns just from owning property etc. – almost all real property being owned by a few large players.

Knute Rife , January 18, 2019 at 11:37 am

So capitalism is bad only because it has been wedded to perverse ideologies, but all other economic systems are bad inherently. Seems legit.

Susan the Other , January 18, 2019 at 11:46 am

What a blabbering rambling pointless airhead.

elissa3 , January 18, 2019 at 11:49 am

No, no, no NO!
https://americanaffairsjournal.org/2018/11/principles-for-dummies/

AdamK , January 18, 2019 at 12:22 pm

The biggest failure of capitalism is environmental. In a system which everything is privatized except the externalities which are dumped on public plate with no way to pursue public interest and which will bring us down sooner than later. Inequality is at the core of the system, but it isn't the worst outcome. A system that produces much more than needed and pollutes the environment, we find ourselves sitting on piles of garbage and killing ourselves in the name of production efficiency. In a socialist system the public has potentially control over resources and could potentially divert resources to less destructive production, or make a conscious decision to stop altogether. Even if we, in this stage, distribute wealth equaly we won't be able to avert the environmental catastrophe that awaits us.

Kevin R LaPointe , January 18, 2019 at 12:34 pm

Capitalism has been historically a system of exploitation of the Masses, and remains so today, even after decades of attempts to reform it. Talk regarding the system has largely been of a circular and utopian nature since the collapse of the U.S.S.R.. The Center-Left coalition has been searching for a way to make Capitalism "work," i.e. make it palpable enough for the majority of people so as to keep the Owner Classes feeling secure. You can't fix what something is by its very nature, though. Capitalism is a socio-economic model for a Class based organizing of society; it's chief claim to progress was that it operated as a universal (neither religiously or ethnically demarcated) organizational structure outside of the hereditary based systems of feudalism that preceded it–though given projected trends for Wealth concentration one might find the later claim to be somewhat specious.

The Keynesian economists tried to make Capitalism work and they were axed back in the 70's, along with the older generations of the CED, the moment the owner classes felt secure again after the Great Crash. Unions, Regulatory Bodies, and the promises of a Great Society where undermined and attacked, dismantled, and largely turned into empty talking points. The triumph of Right Wing politics, aka the last four to five decades, should be observed as nothing short of absolute failure on the part of the Center-Left, Triangulationists (Neo-Liberals), and the Soft-Politics of Identity in providing substantive answers to systemic questions of exploitation of the Many by the Few. The Liberal Theory of Reform has ultimately proved to be very divergent from Reality, which has largely demonstrated that it takes both large scale emergent catastrophes (Great Depression), a militant population (Socialists, Fascists, Organized Labor, and/or Disgruntled Peasantry), and the acceptance or acquiescence of the Power Elites in order for Change to place. The gradualism of reformist policy has largely been debunked thanks to over a century of sloppy and mostly reactive implementation and subsequent repeal.

In the Western context, however, Capitalism is the softest form of Power enforcement, in that it is largely an idea that most in the society at least tentatively accept as the deterministic apparatus for "success" and "failure." Even intellectual debate is referred to as, "the Marketplace of Ideas." Once it is gone as viable option, the Elites have one of two options: submit to egalitarianism or resort to older forms of control.

To be more frank, we also need to start talking about actual material breaking points, rather than pretending that abstract "polarization" will continue on.

Ignacio , January 18, 2019 at 3:09 pm

For me the question is if the "system", broken as it is, is or isn't already repairable, and whether guys like this are really ready for the necessary steps.

PrairieRose , January 18, 2019 at 8:48 pm

Capitalism cannot survive without slave labor.

/lasse , January 19, 2019 at 6:29 am

Capitalism works! The problem are all those brainwashed by neoliberal propaganda nonsense, that capitalism is a system that will deliver to all and sundry, sort of market socialism.

Only a child could believe that?
That the minority of the elite that owns and control the means of production and not least the financial institutions would have identical interests with common people?

Some people still not get that neoliberalism is and was a counter revolution, by the capitalist class, on the postwar mixed economy that did spread economic growth to all and sundry. That it should generate welfare to everybody was just a propaganda ploy. Everyone who didn't engage in self-deception did see that from the beginning.

It have worked beyond any expectations, a total success for the few that owns this world. Some counter counter revolution on this aren't even remotely visible on the horizon. And if it would come the few will defend their progress with whatever it takes, if a bloodbath are required they won't hesitate.

Norb , January 19, 2019 at 12:55 pm

A Benevolent Dictator will be needed to displace capitalism as the means for supplying the goods and services needed for a survivable and sustainable society. A new enlightened elite conscious of rational needs instead of marketers and self-promoters.

Millions of individuals are beginning to extricate themselves, the best way they can, from this corrupt system. The die hard capitalists will be the last to notice that the world has changed around them. Climate change will make this a necessity. People not working together to ensure their common survival will be dead.

Capitalism depends on various forms of exploitation to persist. When the world has been ground down to such an extent that growth and exploitation cannot continue, those practiced in radical conservation have the best chance for survival. I just don't see slave societies meeting that requirement. Slaves can always sabotage the system if they don't fear for their lives. An elite spending their time and energies focused on preventing slave revolts won't have the luxury of abundance to pursue their follies- they will be too busy trying to survive themselves.

Maybe this has a silver lining. The future elite will be members of the community, not some sequestered and pampered minority granted the privilege to live in this seclusion- it just won't be possible any more.

Until then, learn practical skills and be kind.

templar555510 , January 19, 2019 at 5:22 pm

" .is going to cost the system eventually. " This is the reality .. Systems DO NOT reform themselves; they can't because they don't know how to. Something new has to emerge to fill the vacumm they create when they collapse.No one knows what that will be. So just be prepared . Hold to what you know to be true.

Kilgore Trout , January 19, 2019 at 6:27 pm

"Capitalism is the extraordinary belief that the nastiest of men for the nastiest of motives will somehow work for the benefit of us all." –J. M. Keynes

Govt Sachs , January 19, 2019 at 10:14 pm

"If you're not willing to kill everybody who has a different idea than yourself, you cannot have Frederick Hayek's free market. You cannot have Alan Greenspan or the Chicago School, you cannot have the economic freedom that is freedom for the rentiers and the FIRE (finance, insurance, real estate) sector to reduce the rest of the economy to serfdom." ~ Michael Hudson

Neoliberalism is extreme capitalism, the libertarian purists' dream that, if left unabated, would eliminate human rights, safety regulations and environmental protections. That's why they've taken Civics out of the educational curriculum. Why should people learn about rights in a future world of no citizenship?

And forget about freedom to roam. There would be restricted zones, less car ownership, more mass transit, less private property ownership. Why do you think the housing prices are so out of reach today?

"In a libertarian society, there is no commons or public space. There are property lines, not borders. When it comes to real property and physical movement across such real property, there are owners, guests, licensees, business invitees and trespassers – not legal and illegal immigrants." ~ Jeff Deist, president of the Mises Institute

They've already tried their experiment of replacing nations with privately owned "charter cities" in Honduras, but it didn't work, unsurprisingly. Co-ops must be restored in that region, which were very successful.

Private bankers can't control BOTH forms of money creation – government issuance of new currency and credit creation, but they do and have been in the US for the past 40 years now.

Gov't finance is being intentionally mismanaged because banks make money on loans (and deficits cut into their profits), so they suppressed wages and shut off fiscal policy gov't investment in order to force the nation to borrow credit. This has caused a massive private debt over the past 40 years, all dishonorably accrued because it never had to have happened in the first place. It should all be cancelled.

"This is an outrageous betrayal of public trust -- but only what can be expected when private bankers are given a governing role in American monetary policy. In a sane world, private bankers would have no more voice than any other citizen in making that decision . It's time to throw these turkeys out of American monetary policy."

We need to reclaim the State from the money lenders.

"The "nation-state" as a fundamental unit of man's organized life has ceased to be the principal creative force: International banks and multinational corporations are acting and planning in terms that are far in advance of the political concepts of the nation-state."
~ Zbigniew Brzezinski, Between Two Ages, 1970

"The Trilateralist Commission is international (and) is intended to be the vehicle for multinational consolidation of the commercial and banking interests BY SEIZING CONTROL OF THE POLITICAL GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED STATES. The Trilateralist Commission represents a skillful, coordinated effort to seize control and consolidate the four centers of power – political, monetary, intellectual, and ecclesiastical."
~ Barry Goldwater, With No Apologies, 1979

[Jan 21, 2019] Recent Market Dynamics Would Be Consistent With The Economy Already In A Recession

Jan 21, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

One week ago, when we discussed why the Fed now finds itself trapped by the slowing economy on one hand, and the market's response to the Fed's reaction to the slowing economy (namely the market's subsequent sharp rebound, only the third time since 1938 that we've seen a V-shape recovery of this magnitude when the market dropped down more than ~10% and spiked +10% in the subsequent period), we said that the "obvious problem" is that the Fed is cutting because the economy is indeed entering a recession, even as market have already rebounded by over 10% from the recent "bear market" low factoring in a the economic response to an easier Fed, effectively cutting the drop in half expecting the Fed to react precisely to this drop, while ignoring the potential underlying economic reality (the one confirmed by the bizarrely low neutral rate, suggesting that the US economy is far weaker than most expect).

Ultimately, what this all boils down to as Bank of America explained yesterday , is whether the economy is entering a recession, or - somewhat reflexively - whether the suddenly dovish Fed, trapped by the market, has started a chain of events that inevitably ends with a recession. The historical record is ambivalent: as Bloomberg notes, similar to 1998 and 1987, the S&P fell into a bear market last month (from which it immediately rebounded) following a Fed rate hike. The difference is that in the previous two periods, the Fed cut rates in response to market crises - the collapse of Long-Term Capital Management in 1998 and the Black Monday stock crash in 1987 - without the economy slipping into a recession. In comparison, the meltdown in December occurred without a similar market event.

And yet, a meltdown did occur, and it has a lot to do with confusing messaging by the Fed, which did a 180-degree U-Turn when in the span of just two weeks, the Fed chair went from unexpectedly hawkish during the December FOMC press conference (which unleashed fire and brimstone in the market), to blissfully dovish when he conceded at the start of January that the Fed will be "patient" and the balance sheet unwind is not on "autopilot."

But it wasn't just the Fed's messaging in a vacuum that prompted the sharp December drop: it is also the fact that the Fed and the market continue to co-exist in a world of perilous reflexivity, a point made - in his typical post-modernist, James Joyceian, Jacque Lacanian fashion - by Deutsche Bank's credit strategist Aleksandar Kocic, who writes that

"the underlying ambiguities of the market's interpretation of economic conditions are an example of financial parallax – the apparent disorientation due to displacement caused by the change in point of view that provides a new line of sight" (or, said much more simply, the Market reacts to the Fed, and the Fed reacts to the market in circular, co-dependant fashion).

Yet while there is nothing new in the reflexive nature of the coexistence between the Fed and market, this process appeared to short-circuit in Q4. So "where is the problem and what are the sources of misunderstanding" asks Kocic, and answer by taking "the timeline from November of last year as the onset of the subverted perspective and the beginning of the self-referential circularity" (as we have said before, Kocic takes a certain delight in using just a few extra words than is necessary for the attention spans of most traders, even if liberal majors find a particular delight in his narrative). Anyway, continuing the Kocic narrative of where the reflexivity between the Fed and market broke down, in the chart below the Deutsche Bank strategist shows two snapshots of the swaps curve from November and January.

As we noted repeatedly over the past 4 weeks, while the long end has largely experienced a parallel shift lower, Kocic correctly points out that "the biggest drama has occurred in the belly of the curve which has inverted through the five-year horizon", yet where Kocic's view differs is that according to him, this is not indicative of a risk off trade but is instead "a radical repricing of the Fed." Meanwhile, according to the DB strategist, the inversion of the front end is the main source of the reinforcing loop "as it brings in the uncomfortable mode of what we think is a misidentified alarm and incorrect interpretation of its economic significance."

To make his point, Kocic looks at the previous episodes of curve flattening during the past two tightening cycles.

As DB notes, unlike the past two episodes of Fed tightening, when rate hikes were responsible for bear inversions, the last three months represent a bull inversion. In other words, "the recent flattening and inversion of some sectors of the curve has been driven by a decline in long rates that outpaced the decline in short rates."

As others have observed, this departure from history highlights a potential flaw in the logic behind the connection between inversion and recession, Kocic writes, and explains:

If excessive Fed tightening is the likely trigger of the next recession, then the underlying logic and causality must go as follows. The Fed continues to hike until it becomes restrictive and the economy begins to contract which eventually forces the Fed to reverse its direction. The former causes curve inversion and a tightening of financial conditions through a decline in the stock market and wider credit spreads together with an economic slowdown. The Fed then begins to cut rates in order to counter the effect of excessive tightening and the curve re-steepens.

Simple enough, and also extremely problematic, because as we explained last weekend , it's not the Fed tightening that is the recession catalyst: it is when the Fed begins cutting rates that one should be worried as all three prior recessions followed within 3 months of the first rate cut after a hiking cycle:

... while many analysts will caution that it is the Fed's rate hikes that ultimately catalyze the next recession and the every Fed tightening ends with a financial "event", the truth is that there is one step missing from this analysis, and it may come as a surprise to many that the last three recessions all took place with 3 months of the first rate cut after a hiking cycle !

If that wasn't bad enough, Kocic notes that if " this were how things work, the recent market dynamics would be consistent with the US economy already being in a recession" and explains that "with rates already rallying, the implication is that the Fed deliberately and mistakenly continued to hike. This is the territory of a serious policy mistake."

In other words, bull inversion and rate hikes would indicate that the Fed was totally detached from the realities of the market.

Yet after laying out this scenario, one which the market was obsessed with for much of December, Kocic counters that a closer look at the recent repricing "suggests that this narrative of a policy mistake may be misleading and market dynamics reveal something very different from a recessionary market mode" and further claims that what happened fits with the Fed sticking to the script of market normalization as a priority to wit:

this interpretation runs contrary to the recent response from the Fed, in which they have shown an unmistakable attention to detail with a thorough understanding of the complexity of the situation with all the risks associated with the stimulus unwind. The Fed has also gone to great lengths throughout this normalization process to prepare the markets for its exit and take care not to generate additional problems along the way. The well-telegraphed unwind of the balance sheet, which has come under increasing scrutiny over the past month is just one example of the Fed understanding the potential pitfalls of providing too little guidance.

Kocic then goes on to further claim that the market reaction is "a clear demonstration that the Fed is on track with the normalization of the rates market", and thatr "by sticking to its script, the Fed has forced another leg of normalization. The two aspects of this are shown both in the decline of the correlations back into negative territory as well as the migration of volatility to the front end of the curve, both corresponding to the pre-2008 curve functioning."

Why does Kocic take such a contrarian view, at least relative to the broader market? Because, as he explains, "if bear steepeners and bull flatteners were to continue to be the dominant curve modes, monetary policy shocks are at risk of being amplified, and the potential for a disruptive unanchoring of the back end of the curve, with its hazardous ramifications for risk assets and credit in particular, is heightened."

This is why normalization requires front-loading monetary policy shocks and focusing on the front end with the fed funds rate remaining the primary policy tool, while – despite some calls to the contrary – the balance sheet unwind should remain predictable and controlled.

Whether Kocic is correct or not we will know shortly, perhaps as soon as March, when the Fed - which as we discussed previously remains a hostage to markets - will be pressed to halt its balance sheet reduction, and which would immediately crush Kocic's theory that the Fed is purposefully normalizing instead of simply being forced to react to the market's every whim.

In any case - accuracy of the DB strategist notwithstanding - the bigger problem, and this goes back to our point from last week, is that no matter what the Fed does at this point, its actions will almost certainly precipitate the very recession it hopes to avoid.

Why? The following chart from SocGen answers that question in grandiose simplicity: because it is not the curve flattening that is the recession catalyst - it is sharp curve steepening, whether bull or bear-driven, that precedes the immediate onset of the recession.

And once the steepener trade finally takes off, Kocic's variant perception that " recent market dynamics would be consistent with the US economy already being in a recession" would be spot on: at that point, the bond market would finally admit that everything that happened ever since the Fed though it could normalize has been one massive mistake.... just as Ben Bernanke predicted admitted in May 2014, when he said that there would be " no rate normalization during my lifetime ." Tags Business Finance


crypt007 , 8 minutes ago link

The FED and Donald Trump have literally ****-up the economy !! [and i've already explained the intelligence-rational before]

1. Raise the interest rates.

2. Shrink the FED's balance sheet. [50 Billion a month]

3. Tariffs

4. Trade-Wars

zzzz88 , 5 minutes ago link

it is not a problem to raise rate and shrink sheet. they pumped trillons of dollar into market is the problem. they pumped the biggest bubble in human history. they are evils

2thepeople , 10 minutes ago link

Ive seen more commercial and industrial RE vacated in the past several months than ever before. A bit anicdotal but something seems to be rolling over

zzzz88 , 12 minutes ago link

all blame the fed and trump. they pump the biggest fat ugly bubble. it will burst, just matter of time

[Jan 21, 2019] The Money Mafia,

Jan 21, 2019 | www.unz.com

Robert Snefjella says: January 20, 2019 at 4:21 pm GMT 200 Words @Erebus Going from memory, in Hellyer's book The Money Mafia, his impression was that Bouey's decision was taken without real political understanding or guidance. Noteworthy was an attempt in recent years to restore that Bank of Canada fund-emission function via the court system. The attempt failed. The lawyer representing the group making the effort, Rocco Galati, indicated that the media in Canada had received pressure not to cover the story. The government of Canada at the time the court case was initiated was under Harper Conservative rule.

As to how astute Trudeau was, or how much practical influence he had when it came to national financial matters, I don't know. There was a lot of economic flux at the time involving the US dollar, oil, high inflation and gold. There was a big jump in Canadian interest rates around 1974. In any case, the emission of funds directly for productive purpose, without taxation and borrowing, is a beneficent unacknowledged elephant in the economic policy-options room.

[Jan 21, 2019] Is The Violent Dismemberment Of Russia Official US Policy

Jan 19, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Erik D'Amato via The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity,

If there's one thing everyone in today's Washington can agree on, it's that whenever an official or someone being paid by the government says something truly outrageous or dangerous, there should be consequences, if only a fleeting moment of media fury.

With one notable exception: Arguing that the US should be quietly working to promote the violent disintegration and carving up of the largest country on Earth.

Because so much of the discussion around US-Russian affairs is marked by hysteria and hyperbole, you are forgiven for assuming this is an exaggeration. Unfortunately it isn't. Published in the Hill under the dispassionate title "Managing Russia's dissolution," author Janusz Bugajski makes the case that the West should not only seek to contain "Moscow's imperial ambitions" but to actively seek the dismemberment of Russia as a whole.

Engagement, criticism and limited sanctions have simply reinforced Kremlin perceptions that the West is weak and predictable. To curtail Moscow's neo-imperialism a new strategy is needed, one that nourishes Russia's decline and manages the international consequences of its dissolution.

Like many contemporary cold warriors, Bugajski toggles back and forth between overhyping Russia's might and its weaknesses, notably a lack of economic dynamism and a rise in ethnic and regional fragmentation. But his primary argument is unambiguous: That the West should actively stoke longstanding regional and ethnic tensions with the ultimate aim of a dissolution of the Russian Federation, which Bugajski dismisses as an "imperial construct."

The rationale for dissolution should be logically framed: In order to survive, Russia needs a federal democracy and a robust economy; with no democratization on the horizon and economic conditions deteriorating, the federal structure will become increasingly ungovernable...

To manage the process of dissolution and lessen the likelihood of conflict that spills over state borders, the West needs to establish links with Russia's diverse regions and promote their peaceful transition toward statehood.

Even more alarming is Bugajski's argument that the goal should not be self-determination for breakaway Russian territories, but the annexing of these lands to other countries . "Some regions could join countries such as Finland, Ukraine, China and Japan, from whom Moscow has forcefully appropriated territories in the past."

It is, needless to say, impossible to imagine anything like this happening without sparking a series of conflicts that could mirror the Yugoslav Wars. Except in this version the US would directly culpable in the ignition of the hostilities, and in range of 6,800 Serbian nuclear warheads.

So who is Janusz Bugajski, and who is he speaking for?

The author bio on the Hill's piece identifies him as a senior fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis, a Washington, D.C. think-tank. But CEPA is no ordinary talk shop: Instead of the usual foundations and well-heeled individuals, its financial backers seem to be mostly arms of the US government, including the Department of State, the Department of Defense, the US Mission to NATO, the US-government-sponsored National Endowment for Democracy, as well as as veritable who's who of defense contractors, including Raytheon, Bell Helicopter, BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin and Textron. Meanwhile, Bugajski chairs the South-Central Europe area studies program at the Foreign Service Institute of the US Department of State.

To put it in perspective, it is akin to a Russian with deep ties to the Kremlin and arms-makers arguing that the Kremlin needed to find ways to break up the United States and, if possible, have these breakaway regions absorbed by Mexico and Canada. (A scenario which alas is not as far-fetched as it might have been a few years ago; many thousands in California now openly talk of a "Calexit," and many more in Mexico of a reconquista .)

Meanwhile, it's hard to imagine a quasi-official voice like Bugajski's coming out in favor of a similar policy vis-a-vis China, which has its own restive regions, and which in geopolitical terms is no more or less of a threat to the US than Russia. One reason may be that China would consider an American call for secession by the Tibetans or Uyghurs to be a serious intrusion into their internal affairs, unlike Russia, which doesn't appear to have noticed or been ruffled by Bugajski's immodest proposal.

Indeed, just as the real scandal in Washington is what's legal rather than illegal, the real outrage in this case is that few or none in DC finds Bugajski's virtual declaration of war notable.

But it is. It is the sort of provocation that international incidents are made of, and if you are a US taxpayer, it is being made in your name, and it should be among your outrages of the month.


Urban Roman , 8 minutes ago link

There is an official US policy? Would that be a Trump policy, or a Pentagram policy, or some TLA policy, or State Dept. policy?

It's looking more and more like a CF of shapeshifting space lizards. Inspires nostalgia for the Fixin' to Die Rag , . .

BrownTiger , 1 hour ago link

Putin knows that if he ignores the West and provides strong path for Russia growth, re-building economy, manufacturing and military; building international relationships - it will strengthen the country in a horror of it's enemies.

While others panicked over drop in oil prices - Putin was making adjustments to weather out the storm. While many nations were taking out massive development loans [advised by city, chase, goldman, etc] - Russia balanced the budget. While US government is in mayhem over protecting the border [seems like no brainer] - Putin continues with strong central policy. And the US sanction that crushed so many countries - appears to have limited effect [slowing down some growth].

This author, Bugajski, [MI5 agent] wrote countless self-promoting books. Russia will never want to fight a war with NATO [their customers]. Britain and France already lost that war. Russia is just waiting for EU and NATO to collapse over money disagreement. Because they were all happy as long as US was paying for all of it. Not anymore. Standby for Collapse of EU and NATO show coming soon.

falconflight , 1 hour ago link

...

Russia Raises Retirement Age Above Life Expectancy For 40% Of ...

The Russian Confederation of Labour (KTR) says that the average life expectancy for men is actually less than 65-years-old in over 60 regions in Russia. "KTR does not support such decisions and declares its intention to launch a broad public campaign against their implementation," the organization said in a statement .

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-06-19/russia-raises-retirement-age-above-life-expectan

booboo , 1 hour ago link

You start off with "Putin is a cuck" which may or may not be a fact but if you actually read the article it clearly states "President Medvedev" and raising the retirement age from...wait for it... 60 to 63?? Really??

Rutalkingtome , 1 hour ago link

Most west european countries have a retirment age of around 65 years. In scandinavic countries they are going to increase to 67. They realized that importing rapefugees is not going to solve the demographic crisis.

[Jan 21, 2019] How neoliberalism manufactured consent to secure its unlimited power

Dec 23, 2018 | failedevolution.blogspot.com
From David Harvey's A Brief History of Neoliberalism

Part 10 – How Margaret Thatcher systematically destroyed the British industry along with the trade unions

While there were many elements out of which consent for a neoliberal turn could be constructed, the Thatcher phenomenon would surely not have arisen, let alone succeeded, if it had not been for the serious crisis of capital accumulation during the 1970s. Stagflation was hurting everyone. In 1975 inflation surged to 26 per cent and unemployment topped one million. The nationalized industries were draining resources from the Treasury.

This set up a confrontation between the state and the unions. In 1972, and then again in 1974, the British miners (a nationalized industry) went on strike for the first time since 1926.

The miners had always been in the forefront of British labour struggles. Their wages were not keeping pace with accelerating inflation, and the public sympathized. The Conservative government, in the midst of power blackouts, declared a state of emergency, mandated a three-day working week, and sought public backing against the miners. In 1974 it called an election seeking public support for its stand. It lost, and the Labour government that returned to power settled the strike on terms favourable to the miners.

The victory was, however, pyrrhic. The Labour government could not afford the terms of the settlement and its fiscal difficulties mounted. A balance of payments crisis paralleled huge budget deficits. Turning for credits to the IMF in 1975–6, it faced the choice of either submitting to IMF-mandated budgetary restraint and austerity or declaring bankruptcy and sacrificing the integrity of sterling, thus mortally wounding financial interests in the City of London. It chose the former path, and draconian budgetary cutbacks in welfare state expenditures were implemented . The Labour government went against the material interests of its traditional supporters. But it still had no solution to the crises of accumulation and stagflation. It sought, unsuccessfully, to mask the difficulties by appealing to corporatist ideals, in which everyone was supposed to sacrifice something for the benefit of the polity.

Its supporters were in open revolt, and public sector workers initiated a series of crippling strikes in the ' winter of discontent ' of 1978. ' Hospital workers went out, and medical care had to be severely rationed. Striking gravediggers refused to bury the dead. The truck drivers were on strike too. Only shop stewards had the right to let trucks bearing "essential supplies" cross picket lines. British Rail put out a terse notice "There are no trains today" . . . striking unions seemed about to bring the whole nation to a halt. '

The mainstream press was in full cry against greedy and disruptive unions, and public support fell away. The Labour government fell, and in the election that followed Margaret Thatcher won a significant majority with a clear mandate from her middle-class supporters to tame public sector trade union power .

The commonality between the US and the UK cases most obviously lies in the fields of labour relations and the fight against inflation. With respect to the latter, Thatcher made monetarism and strict budgetary control the order of the day. High interest rates meant high unemployment (averaging more than 10 per cent in 1979–84, and the Trades Union Congress lost 17 per cent of its membership in five years ). The bargaining power of labour was weakened.

Alan Budd, an economic adviser to Thatcher, later suggested that ' the 1980s policies of attacking inflation by squeezing the economy and public spending were a cover to bash the workers ' . Britain created what Marx called ' an industrial reserve army ', he went on to observe, the effect of which was to undermine the power of labour and permit capitalists to make easy profits thereafter. And in an action that paralleled Reagan's provocation of PATCO in 1981, Thatcher provoked a miners' strike in 1984 by announcing a wave of redundancies and pit closures (imported coal was cheaper).

The strike lasted for almost a year, and, in spite of a great deal of public sympathy and support, the miners lost. The back of a core element of the British labour movement had been broken. Thatcher further reduced union power by opening up the UK to foreign competition and foreign investment. Foreign competition demolished much of traditional British industry in the 1980s –– the steel industry (Sheffield) and shipbuilding (Glasgow) more or less totally disappeared within a few years, and with them a good deal of trade union power.

Thatcher effectively destroyed the indigenous nationalized UK automobile industry, with its strong unions and militant labour traditions, instead offering the UK as an offshore platform for Japanese automobile companies seeking access to Europe. These built on greenfield sites and recruited non-union workers who would submit to Japanese-style labour relations.

The overall effect was to transform the UK into a country of relatively low wages and a largely compliant labour force (relative to the rest of Europe) within ten years. By the time Thatcher left office, strike activity had fallen to one-tenth of its former levels. She had eradicated inflation, curbed union power, tamed the labour force, and built middle-class consent for her policies in the process .

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[Jan 21, 2019] Liberal Critics of neoliberalism by Gerald J. Russello

Notable quotes:
"... Identity politics are no help here either. Indeed, to Scialabba, they are part of the problem because they are too easily coopted by capital: "Identity politics are an essential component of neoliberalism, the extension of market relations across borders and into all spheres of life. When rewards are assigned efficiently in proportion to merit, then not only is total output maximized, but the winners feel no qualms about the plight of the losers." Corporate power sees no distinction between funding diversity efforts and pursuing profit, becoming "woke" through advertising. ..."
"... vigorous self-assertion of working classes and small proprietors, which I think as close to mass democracy as the world has come, was transformed, largely by the advent of mass production, into a mass society of passive, apathetic, ignorant, deskilled consumers ..."
Jan 21, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

The Right can learn from George Scialabba's critiques of individual autonomy and markets.

Slouching Towards Utopia: Essays & Reviews, George Scialabba, Pressed Wafer Press, August 2018, 224 pages

George Scialabba continues to work in a political-literary vein almost forgotten in our partisan times. Along with Todd Gitlin, Thomas Frank perhaps, Jedediah Purdy (who introduces this volume), and a few others, Scialabba is a liberal without being progressive, in solidarity with workers against the capitalists rather than "woke" activists aligned with corporate interests, and respectful of tradition while also criticizing the past's faults.

The last two years have seen a drastic realignment of conservatives, where the stranglehold free-market and interventionist conservatives had has been loosened. Arguments from traditionalists such as Russell Kirk are being heard once again, and new voices are rising against Conservatism, Inc.

But the debate among liberals is just as interesting, if not more so, because of [neo]liberalism's own dominance over the media, academia, and entertainment. They are fighting in public, whereas conservatives mostly argue in the corners of the internet. A new generation of activists and progressives disdain the liberalism espoused by their once-radical elders. A world where Angela Davis gets awards rescinded for being insufficiently progressive and prominent liberals are protested at commencements is very different indeed from the heady 1960s and 1970s.

This new progressivism is sincere, but largely performative. It is too often in service to an individualistic view of the self and lacks the solidarity Scialabba sees as one of the strongest points of the Left. Resistance is a workers' collective, not a world in which choice -- mediated by corporations and advertising -- is king.

Identity politics are no help here either. Indeed, to Scialabba, they are part of the problem because they are too easily coopted by capital: "Identity politics are an essential component of neoliberalism, the extension of market relations across borders and into all spheres of life. When rewards are assigned efficiently in proportion to merit, then not only is total output maximized, but the winners feel no qualms about the plight of the losers." Corporate power sees no distinction between funding diversity efforts and pursuing profit, becoming "woke" through advertising.

This collection covers what may broadly be called questions of political culture. Like the best philosophical critics, Scialabba wants to know how we can live our common life with dignity and justice. He considers writers like Ronald Dworkin, Christopher Lasch, Yuval Levin, Michael Sandel, and others to probe how best to achieve public goods. The goods Scialabba advocates, it should be obvious, are not aligned with mainstream conservative goals. And one can argue with Scialabba's romance with a non-market economy in which redistributive justice has pride of place. The "utopia" toward which we are slouching is remote indeed.

But perhaps not that remote. In an interview republished here, "America Pro and Con," Scialabba praises the " vigorous self-assertion of working classes and small proprietors, which I think as close to mass democracy as the world has come, was transformed, largely by the advent of mass production, into a mass society of passive, apathetic, ignorant, deskilled consumers ." That vision would attract not a few Benedict Optioners, and not only them.

Scialabba has harsh words for Republicans -- the free market Paul Ryan types and the later MAGA incarnations. These comments are less interesting, and not just because they are unsurprising. It is more because Scialabba realizes the problem is more nuanced than just bad Republicans. Most of the elite Left and Right is in thrall to capital, and he can be as harsh on liberal autonomy as any conservative. In an essay titled "Ecology of Attention," which discusses Simon Head's Mindless: Why Smarter Machines are Making Dumber Humans and Matthew Crawford's The World Beyond Your Head , he writes: "Seeing past this liberal model of individual autonomy might also mean recognizing that consumerism can have civic consequences. Just as atmospheric fine particles can clog our lungs and impair our society's physical health, an unending stream of commercial messages can clog our minds, fragment our attention, and, in the long run, impair our society's mental and civic health."

The Critic as Radical The Radical Lasch

Drawing on a long left-wing tradition, he disputes the liberal capitalist view of people as those who simply seek to maximize their own individual gain (in wealth, pleasure, or status, for example). Rather, he says we are "situated beings" with our own pasts. In a perceptive, sympathetic piece on Leszek Kolakowski, the "Conservative-Liberal Socialist," Scialabba catalogs the failings of "existing socialism" that the Polish philosopher so ably described. However, Scialabba cannot find much in that critique today. Soviet socialism may have been rotten, but the liberal capitalism that has been triumphant since the 1980s in the West "has seen the rampant financialization of the economy, the pulverizing of organized labor, a drastic increase in economic inequality, the capture by business of the regulatory system, and the growth of the national security state." Scialabba instead reaches for the anti-capitalist and anti-Stalinist Left as a possible source of solutions for these ills. But the problem with this resort is the same as the neoconservatives' attachment to an abstract capitalism. The dominance or liberation of private life by the state is no longer the most pressing issue: media (especially social media) and the supremacy of the "self" against all forms of community are the new challenges.

As Shadi Hamid has written recently , "It is difficult to think of a time less suited to Marxist economism than the current one."

But back to Kolakowski. Scialabba nevertheless praises him for his willingness to be a debunker of the debunkers, rejoicing in his affliction of "the comfortable unbeliever." Although Scialabba cannot ultimately follow Kolakowski either in his political or religious beliefs, nonetheless he praises Kolakowski for two things: the skepticism that allowed him to break free -- and break others free -- of the illusions of totalitarianism, and a recognition of the limits of that skepticism. Scialabba concludes that "as he continually reminded rationalists, the skeptical impulse can't be sustained indefinitely or directed toward everything simultaneously. We need traditions too."

It is premises like these that make Scialabba interesting to conservatives. Because beginning from those premises Scialabba goes in directions conservatives typically do not follow. Because he opposes [neo]liberal capitalism, he is fond of unions. Because he believes we cannot completely extract ourselves from our cultural, ethnic, and religious inheritances, ingrained injustices must be recognized and remedied. Because he believes we are situated beings with traditions, we must construct an economic system that serves our nature rather than invent abstractions that we then serve. A defender of America's middle-class (described here, in reviewing a book by Alan Wolfe, as on the whole "generous, trusting, and optimistic"), nevertheless he faults them for being too gullible in responding to the call of capital and the military-industrial complex. But he also faults the Left for failing to understand that their fellow Americans are, in fact, decent, and, for the most part, tolerant people.

Scialabba might be surprised that he has sympathetic readers on the Right, or even that a form of nationalism might work with his premises. This possible compatibility isn't to ignore that American nationalism can and has been racist and inhospitable to minorities. But the conclusion that there is an "America" that has meaning beyond being simply a machine to generate GDP (on the backs of workers, perhaps, here or elsewhere) could fit, even if not fully comfortably, within Scialabba's generous intellectual world.

While not quite a utopia, it would be a start.

Gerald J. Russello is editor of The University Bookman .

[Jan 20, 2019] The USA LGBT political correctness bites Tulsi

Notable quotes:
"... I venture to guess, since Anne goes here several times. The 'militarists', unrelated to LGBT, faction of the DNC will use LGBT comments from Gabbard's past...... to show she is not liberal enough to defend the party's permanent war profiteering plank! ..."
Jan 20, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

Fred C. Dobbs , January 18, 2019 at 01:52 PM

Tulsi Gabbard, Democratic Presidential Candidate,
Apologizes for Anti-Gay Past https://nyti.ms/2HhUDev
NYT - Liam Stack - Jan. 17, 2019

Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, who last week announced she was running for president, apologized Thursday for her history of anti-gay statements and her past work for an anti-gay advocacy group -- issues that have emerged as an early obstacle as she pursues a long-shot bid for the Democratic Party's nomination.

... ... ...

ilsm -> EMichael... , January 19, 2019 at 06:24 AM
read!

I venture to guess, since Anne goes here several times. The 'militarists', unrelated to LGBT, faction of the DNC will use LGBT comments from Gabbard's past...... to show she is not liberal enough to defend the party's permanent war profiteering plank!

[Jan 20, 2019] Note on students debt peonage

Jan 20, 2019 | www.truthdig.com

RW: Well at this point I think it really depends on what indexes you're looking at. The biggest thing that's kept this economy going in the last few years should make everybody tremble. It's called debt, let me give you just a couple of examples. Ten years ago, at the height of the crash, the total debt carried by students in the United States was in the neighborhood of $700 billion, an enormous sum. What is it today? Over twice that, one-and-a-half trillion dollars. The reason part of our economy hasn't collapsed is that students have taken up an enormous amount of debt that they cannot afford, in order to get degrees which will let them get jobs whose incomes will not allow them to pay back the debts. And forget about getting married, forget about having a family.

We have paid an enormous price in hobbling the generation of people who would have otherwise lifted this economy and made us more productive. It is a disastrous mistake historically, and if you face that, and if you add to it the increased debt of our businesses, and the increased debt of our government, you see an economy that is held up by a monstrous increase in debt, not in underlying productivity, not in more jobs that really produce anything, but in debt.

That should frighten us because it was the debt bubble that burst in 2008 and brought us the crash. It is as if we cannot learn in our system to do other than we've always done and that's taking us into another crash coming now.

LC: Yeah. This is the land of the free, but it seems like most of us are chained down by debt peonage.

[Jan 20, 2019] The breakup of the USSR was planned also. It was followed by the formation of oligarchs, IMF loans, and asset stripping. The economic advice and help Russia received from the west almost accomplished the goal of breaking up Russia.

Integrity Initiative infiltration ?
The breakup of the USSR was due to confluence of factors such as rise of neoliberalism, stagnation of oversentlised USSR economy, emergence of internat communications and personal computers which weakened official propaganda power, creation of fifth column within the USSR due to bad timing and execution of Gorbachev's reforms (Presetoyka was essentially the idea of repeating NEP on a new level), and extremely weak abilities of Gorbachov as a politician, growth of nationalism (well financed from theWest), degeneration of Bolshevik's elute and emergence of multiple neoliberal turncoats (Yeltsin, Gaidar, Yakovlev, etc). but dissolution of the USSR probably case as a surporse.
But after the dissolution CIA-Mossad-MI6 jumped into the dame with the explicit goal to destruction of Russian economy, asset stripping (Browder probably is connected to MI6), Harvard mafia probably also was somehow connected to CIA, and disintegration of the country (Chechnya insurrection was supported by the USA, Britain and their vassals in Persian gulf).
This is an interesting lesson for future reformers: the presence of CIA-Mossad-MI6 on the world scene changes the result of almost any forceful overthrow of the government, especially if it was done with the goal of neoliberalization, imposing a huge cost on the population. Ukraine is one recent example (the standard of living dropped probably 300 or so). Libya is another.
This particular neocon writing in his official capacity of a MIC lobbyist (that is what all neocons are), so his views are interesting only as an example of a dangerous trend.
Jan 20, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com
Like many contemporary cold warriors, Bugajski toggles back and forth between overhyping Russia's might and its weaknesses, notably a lack of economic dynamism and a rise in ethnic and regional fragmentation. But his primary argument is unambiguous: That the West should actively stoke longstanding regional and ethnic tensions with the ultimate aim of a dissolution of the Russian Federation, which Bugajski dismisses as an "imperial construct."
Even more alarming is Bugajski's argument that the goal should not be self-determination for breakaway Russian territories, but the annexing of these lands to other countries . "Some regions could join countries such as Finland, Ukraine, China and Japan, from whom Moscow has forcefully appropriated territories in the past."

It is, needless to say, impossible to imagine anything like this happening without sparking a series of conflicts that could mirror the Yugoslav Wars. Except in this version the US would directly culpable in the ignition of the hostilities, and in range of 6,800 Serbian nuclear warheads.

So who is Janusz Bugajski, and who is he speaking for?

The author bio on the Hill's piece identifies him as a senior fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis, a Washington, D.C. think-tank. But CEPA is no ordinary talk shop: Instead of the usual foundations and well-heeled individuals, its financial backers seem to be mostly arms of the US government, including the Department of State, the Department of Defense, the US Mission to NATO, the US-government-sponsored National Endowment for Democracy, as well as as veritable who's who of defense contractors, including Raytheon, Bell Helicopter, BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin and Textron. Meanwhile, Bugajski chairs the South-Central Europe area studies program at the Foreign Service Institute of the US Department of State.

To put it in perspective, it is akin to a Russian with deep ties to the Kremlin and arms-makers arguing that the Kremlin needed to find ways to break up the United States and, if possible, have these breakaway regions absorbed by Mexico and Canada. (A scenario which alas is not as far-fetched as it might have been a few years ago; many thousands in California now openly talk of a "Calexit," and many more in Mexico of a reconquista .)

green dragon , 2 hours ago link

The breakup of the USSR was planned also. It was followed by the formation of oligarchs, IMF loans, and asset stripping. The economic advice and help Russia received from the west almost accomplished the goal of breaking up Russia.

Russia is well aware that war with NATO cannot be avoided in the long run. One only has to talk to Russians to see that they understand they are in a Cold war that they have to survive. From their view they did not seek this confrontation. They truly thought they would be embraced by the West after the fall and a new relationship benefiting both sides could have emerged. So now Russia has to turn to China and prepare for a future war within a decade with NATO!

CatInTheHat , 3 hours ago link

Disgusting projection of US imperialism. The elite never forgave Putin for throwing US Rothschild elites out of Russia so they could no longer plunder Russias extensive wealth under Yeltsin..

Let's see what happens when neocunts start that hot war, how Americans then feel about Russia

We truly have dumbfucks in this country who love the thought of other as enemy other than THEMSELVES. They never ONCE consider that in demonizing another countries leader, they are demonizing a whole nation of peoples too. I wonder how Americans would feel if constant demonizing and threats coming their way, with also say regime change in Mexico to provoke them?

US neocons are psychopaths that care nothing for Americans. What they do to others in regime change they will do to us. Oh, wait. They already have #9/11

August , 1 hour ago link

Poles actively pushing for the dismembering of Russia have been around for a long time.

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

Fluff The Cat , 4 hours ago link

Published in the Hill under the dispassionate title "Managing Russia's dissolution," author Janusz Bugajski makes the case that the West should not only seek to contain "Moscow's imperial ambitions" but to actively seek the dismemberment of Russia as a whole.

If that is the intended goal then wouldn't it be accurate to state that America, or at least its government, has imperial ambitions?

The rationale for dissolution should be logically framed: In order to survive, Russia needs a federal democracy and a robust economy; with no democratization on the horizon and economic conditions deteriorating, the federal structure will become increasingly ungovernable...

Russia already tried "democracy" and the end result spelled disaster for their country. Minorities were put on a pedestal while their economy was in shambles, all the while the oligarchs, who were mostly Jewish, made a fortune plundering their natural resources. Sound familiar?

Some regions could join countries such as Finland, Ukraine, China and Japan, from whom Moscow has forcefully appropriated territories in the past."

The hypocrisy in this statement is breathless. Is America going to return Alaska to Russia? Allow Hawaii to once again be an autonomous entity? Cease the illegal occupation of countries throughout the Middle East? Remove their Neo-Nazi stooges from Ukraine?

It is, needless to say, impossible to imagine anything like this happening without sparking a series of conflicts that could mirror the Yugoslav Wars. Except in this version the US would directly culpable in the ignition of the hostilities, and in range of 6,800 Serbian nuclear warheads.

The idea seems to be to stoke regional tensions in order to provoke Russia and start a conflict where the surrounding countries are put on the front lines while being provided with logistics from the outside, meaning the US. Washington could then play up the plausible deniability angle, even while technology from Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and other Western contractors is primarily being used against the Russians.

Russia is not a direct threat to Western nations, only to their (((governments))), because during any attempted implementation of a JWO (as in the EU for example), Russia will serve as a reminder to all Western peoples - especially white people - as to what their nations once were: independent, sovereign and self-determined. Russia prevented ISISrael from taking over Syria, thwarted their Oded Yinon plan and threw out their oligarchs, so World Judaism is using America as their bludgeon against the Russian Federation while preventing us from forming an alliance.

CatInTheHat , 3 hours ago link

Browder a ******* fraud who owes Russia hundreds of millions in back taxes.

And along with **** Cardin, DEMOCRAT, helped to fraudulently create the Magnistky Act

back to basics , 5 hours ago link

74 years after Nazi Germany miscalculated Russian resolve some idiot dreams of carving Russia up like it's a Thanksgiving turkey and some people actually take him seriously. Yeah, good luck with that.

6 hours ago Bug-aj-ski - neocon shrill writing for and paid by the MIC it looks like from the sponsors of this think tank

let;s have a look see at their website

https://www.cepa.org

https://www.cepa.org/international-advisory-council - more neocons

oh yah Brzezinski - deceased tho - oops -

Albright - not dead yet

https://www.cepa.org/experts - and more "expert" neocons

https://www.cepa.org/strategy-and-statecraft

"Cultivating new sources of competitive advantage for U.S. strategy."

no list of sponsors tho I can see from the website - real MIC platform it sounds like from the article

6 hours ago Yep, it's a Zbigniew Brzezinski memorial. The money seems to come mostly from the MIC and the usual Cold War think tanks, like the Harry and Lynde Bradley Foundation. 5 hours ago These necons need to remember that chess is the national passtime of Russians, while making mudpies is the what they do in the West. These "think-tanks" are very childish. 3 hours ago 9 hours ago here's where some of it started/got turbocharged:

https://www.lrb.co.uk/v41/n02/seymour-m-hersh/the-vice-presidents-men LA_Goldbug 10 hours ago The only way I can understand this twat is to think that he is just earning his shekels. He knows what the Party Line is in DC requires and is writing accordingly. I just checked a bit of his BS and this one is definitely written for the uninformed or deeply indoctrinated Western sheep.

"Taking Stock of Ukraine's Achievements Amidst Russia's Aggression

Five years ago, the Ukrainian people staged a peaceful "revolution of dignity" against a corrupt regime sponsored by the Kremlin. They stood firm even under gunfire and it was the discredited President Viktor Yanukovych who eventually retreated and took refuge in Russia. With Moscow engaging in renewed attacks against Ukraine in the Sea of Azov it is important to take stock of Ukraine's achievements since those fateful days in Kyiv's Independence Square."

You need to be brain dead to think it was peaceful !!!!

[Jan 20, 2019] Bubblicious Disregard for Risks

Notable quotes:
"... Mispricing risk is the new normal, apparently. The assumption is that the stock market is now in hand and will be fine -- unless something startles it. ..."
Jan 20, 2019 | jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.com

We will be getting more individual company financial results now that we are in the reporting period again. These may help to sway the markets in some direction, or not.

The market seemed to be shrugging off the results being shown by the financials thus far.

Mispricing risk is the new normal, apparently. The assumption is that the stock market is now in hand and will be fine -- unless something startles it.

Have a pleasant evening.

[Jan 20, 2019] Who Could See It Coming - Dead Reckoning the Minsky Moment

Jan 20, 2019 | jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.com

Stocks and Precious Metals Charts - Who Could See It Coming? - Dead Reckoning the Minsky Moment

"

In particular, over a protracted period of good times, capitalist economies tend to move from a financial structure dominated by hedge finance units to a structure in which there is large weight to units engaged in speculative and Ponzi finance."

Hyman Minsky, The Financial Instability Hypothesis

"Twenty-five years ago, when most economists were extolling the virtues of financial deregulation and innovation, a maverick named Hyman P. Minsky maintained a more negative view of Wall Street; in fact, he noted that bankers, traders, and other financiers periodically played the role of arsonists, setting the entire economy ablaze. Wall Street encouraged businesses and individuals to take on too much risk, he believed, generating ruinous boom-and-bust cycles. The only way to break this pattern was for the government to step in and regulate the moneymen.

Many of Minsky's colleagues regarded his 'financial-instability hypothesis,' which he first developed in the nineteen-sixties, as radical, if not crackpot. Today, with the subprime crisis seemingly on the verge of metamorphosing into a recession, references to it have become commonplace on financial web sites and in the reports of Wall Street analysts. Minsky's hypothesis is well worth revisiting."

John Cassidy, The Minsky Moment , The New Yorker, 4 February 2008.

"The period of financial distress is a gradual decline after the peak of a speculative bubble that precedes the final and massive panic and crash, driven by the insiders having exited but the sucker outsiders hanging on hoping for a revival, but finally giving up in the final collapse."

Charles Kindelberger, Manias, Panics, and Crashes: A History of Financial Crises

"The sense of responsibility in the financial community for the community as a whole is not small. It is nearly nil. Perhaps this is inherent. In a community where the primary concern is making money, one of the necessary rules is to live and let live. To speak out against madness may be to ruin those who have succumbed to it. So the wise in Wall Street [and in the professional and credentialed class] are nearly always silent."

John Kenneth Galbraith, The Great Crash of 1929

"People who lost jobs -- and those are in the millions in 2008, 2009, and 2010 -- have now gotten jobs, that's true, but the jobs they've gotten have lower wages, have less security and fewer benefits than the ones they lost, which means they can't spend money like we might have hoped they would if they had got the kinds of jobs they lost, but they didn't...

The big tax cut last December, 2017, gave an awful lot of money to the richest Americans and to big corporations. They had no incentive to plow that into their businesses, because Americans can't buy any more than they already do. They're up to their necks in debt and all the rest.

So what they did was to take the money they saved from taxes and speculate in the stock market, driving up the shares and so forth. Naive people thought that was a sign of economic health. It wasn't. It was money bidding up the price of stock until the underlying economy was so far out of whack with the stock market that now everybody realizes that and there's a rush to get out and boom, the thing goes down."

Richard Wolff, The Next Economic Crisis Is Coming


Bubbles most often resolve their imbalances irresponsibly and jarringly, with a correction that is sharp and destructive. It is often triggered by some seemingly trivial event, especially if its predatory mispricing of risk has been allowed to fester for an extended period of time.. How can this be?

Credit cycles explain bubbles in modern finance, but the elite protect themselves and their banks from the effects. Hence, only the middle and working class loses. And this has been the case for many years now. Hence the growing unrest abroad, and the decisions by the electorate at home that seem to puzzle and provoke the very comfortable 'credentialed' class.

The reason for this is quite easy to understand. Those who benefit the most from the bubble both actively and passively help sustain it. They are reluctant to surrender any potion of their enormous advantage and personal gains, even if it might be better for them in the long term.

They do not consider the damage that may be done to the underlying social fabric that supports and protects their wealth. Contrary to all of the familiar assumptions, they are not acting rationally or prudently, even for themselves. Their focus is short term and short-sighted. They are drunk on their own success.

The interpreters and creators of the prevailing narrative are themselves beneficiaries of the bubble economy, and will go to great lengths to misdirect the public discussion from any root causes, and often from its very existence. They will distract the public with inflammatory issues, economic fear, stage-managed spectacles, and manufactured complexity. And finally, in the extremes of their shamelessness, they will seek to blame the victims for their lack of sophistication and the government for its efforts to restrain their predatory frauds.

This enables the cycle of boom and bust to repeat and worsen beyond all reasonable expectations.

The lesson from history is that a system based on the ascendant greed of powerful insiders is rarely rational and self-correcting, and is often spectacularly self-destructive. And those with the most power, in their wonderful self-delusion, simply do not care until it is too late. They are blinded by the moment, in their competition with each other, and the insatiable nature of greed itself. 'Enough' is not in their reckoning.

To this end governments are fashioned, and people organize themselves from the damage that can be done to society as a whole by a few. Unfortunately people forget, and it seems that at least once every generation or so the madness slips loose its restraints, and this sad lesson from history repeats.

And so once again the world must face its rendezvous with destiny.

The box scores for today's market action are shown in the graphs below.

Apparently rough weather is heading towards the east coast. The local grocery store was a nuthouse even in the early afternoon. I am making some chicken soup for myself and Dolly. Even if I could coax her out of her fuzzy blanket and pillows, Dolly would offer limited assistance. She is clearly just in it for the chicken.

Have a pleasant evening.

[Jan 20, 2019] NATO Expansion: What Gorbachev Heard

Jan 20, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

B-Bond 13 hours ago

NATO Expansion: What Gorbachev Heard

Declassified documents show security assurances against NATO expansion to Soviet leaders from Baker, Bush, Genscher, Kohl, Gates, Mitterrand, Thatcher, Hurd, Major, and Woerner

U.S. Secretary of State James Baker's famous "not one inch eastward" assurance about NATO expansion in his meeting with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev on February 9, 1990, was part of a cascade of assurances about Soviet security given by Western leaders to Gorbachev and other Soviet officials throughout the process of German unification in 1990 and on into 1991 , according to declassified U.S., Soviet, German, British and French documents posted today by the National Security Archive at George Washington University ( http://nsarchive.gwu.edu ).

The documents show that multiple national leaders were considering and rejecting Central and Eastern European membership in NATO as of early 1990 and through 1991 , that discussions of NATO in the context of German unification negotiations in 1990 were not at all narrowly limited to the status of East German territory, and that subsequent Soviet and Russian complaints about being misled about NATO expansion were founded in written contemporaneous memcons and telcons at the highest levels.

The documents reinforce former CIA Director Robert Gates's criticism of "pressing ahead with expansion of NATO eastward [in the 1990s], when Gorbachev and others were led to believe that wouldn't happen. " [1] The key phrase, buttressed by the documents, is "led to believe."

President George H.W. Bush had assured Gorbachev during the Malta summit in December 1989 that the U.S. would not take advantage ("I have not jumped up and down on the Berlin Wall") of the revolutions in Eastern Europe to harm Soviet interests; but neither Bush nor Gorbachev at that point (or for that matter, West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl) expected so soon the collapse of East Germany or the speed of German unification. [2]

The first concrete assurances by Western leaders on NATO began on January 31, 1990 , when West German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher opened the bidding with a major public speech at Tutzing, in Bavaria, on German unification. The U.S. Embassy in Bonn (see Document 1) informed Washington that Genscher made clear "that the changes in Eastern Europe and the German unification process must not lead to an 'impairment of Soviet security interests.' Therefore, NATO should rule out an 'expansion of its territory towards the east , i.e. moving it closer to the Soviet borders.'" The Bonn cable also noted Genscher's proposal to leave the East German territory out of NATO military structures even in a unified Germany in NATO. [3]

https://nsarchive.gwu.edu/briefing-book/russia-programs/2017-12-12/nato-expansion-what-gorbachev-heard-western-leaders-early falconflight 13 hours ago It was a horrible betrayal of a promise that should have been greatly enhanced by promoting free enterprise concepts, and personal freedoms propaganda (Not lies), and even economic assistance where reasonable. A historical opportunity lost. Those powerful Kremlinologists couldn't pivot, it was easier to continue to treat Russia as an existential adversary and in certain circumstances, purposely attempt to humiliate them, such as in Serbia.

[Jan 20, 2019] >MSM Begs For Trust After Buzzfeed Debacle

Jan 20, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

by Tyler Durden Sun, 01/20/2019 - 19:10 356 SHARES Authored by Caitlin Johnstone via Medium.com,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The mainstream media absolutely is the enemy of the people; just because Trump says it doesn't mean it's not true. The only reason people don't rise up and use the power of their numbers to force the much-needed changes that need to happen in our world is because they are being propagandized to accept the status quo day in and day out by the mass media's endless cultural engineering project . They are the reason why wars go unopposed, why third parties never gain traction, why people consent to money hemorrhaging upward to the wealthiest of the wealthy while everyone else struggles to survive. The sooner people wake up from the perverse narrative matrix of the plutocratic media, the better.

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