Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Sputnik — Opinion Scholar Sees ‘Obvious Tendency’ of US Trying to ‘Contain, Oust’ Russia and China

China's Defense Minister Wei Fenghe has called on Shanghai Cooperation Organization member countries to improve cooperation in defense and security. Assistant Director of the Center for Regional Security Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences Dr. Yang Danzhi believes that the Chinese proposal has come at the right time....
Global North and West lining up for WWIII with Global South and East as US stumbles into the Thucydides trap.

Sputnik International — Opinion
Scholar Sees ‘Obvious Tendency’ of US Trying to ‘Contain, Oust’ Russia and China

On Monday April 16, a well-oiled machine of anti-Russian sanctions experienced a major hiccup. This day the US Treasury promised to announce new sanctions against Russia’s companies and persons, if the US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley to be believed. Why would the US Ambassador to the UN do such things as announcing the US Treasury’s plans is everyone’s guess, especially since this Monday, when it was still earlier morning in the US, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov gave an interview to the BBC, during which he said the following words : “obsession with Russophobia which looks like, you know, genocide by sanctions.….
The key here was Lavrov’s remark on the nature of anti-Russian sanctions as being a genocide. This indicated a complete reversal of Russia’s government attitude to sanctions that for the last four years have been mostly positive as in “sanctions help Russia’s economy to develop.”…
Lavrov never exaggerates and always states plainly and clearly of what it is. If the US continues on the path of sanctions it will meet its absolute dead end, because at this point as April sanctions are concerned, the US Treasury moved into territory described in Russia’s new military doctrine as a threat to existence of the nation....
Putting the West on notice. Proceed at your own risk.

The Vineyard of the Saker
On sanctions
Scott Humor

Then there is the wild card in the deck — Israel.

Zero Hedge
Russia To Send Advanced Anti-Aircraft Missiles To Syria, Warns Israel Of "Catastrophic Consequences

Jordan Weissmann — Kirsten Gillibrand Unveils Her Ambitious Plan to Turn the Post Office Into a Bank

Add New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand to the list of big name Democrats who want the U.S. Postal Service to double as a bank. The potential 2020 contender is rolling out legislation today that would require post offices to offer their customers basic financial services, such as checking and savings accounts and small, short-term loans, that many Americans currently can’t access affordably. While the idea of postal banking has been backed by progressives like Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont—both likely presidential candidates—Gillibrand’s bill gives an important policy objective a high-profile, useful boost.
Compare Girobank (UK).

Kirsten Gillibrand Unveils Her Ambitious Plan to Turn the Post Office Into a Bank
Jordan Weissmann

Tim Wallace — UK will not match US sanctions on Russia as Hammond blames EU dissent

Britain and the US will not stand shoulder to shoulder against Putin’s regime as the EU is never likely to agree to tough sanctions, the Chancellor has warned. 
But unified financial sanctions are more difficult to arrange, as the UK only joins actions when they are imposed either at the UN or the EU level....
The Telegraph
UK will not match US sanctions on Russia as Hammond blames EU dissent
Tim Wallace

Harper — Unmasking The White Helmets

British government official agencies are the patrons, managers and funders of the White Helmets, who have been the go-to source for the mainstream Western media reporting on the ongoing Syrian war. For good measure, the U.S. State Department's Agency for International Development (USAID) has kicked in $23 million to finance Mayday Rescue, the cutout between the White Helmets and the British Ministry of Defense, the Home Office, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and 10 Downing Street. This is all a matter of public record, yet no Western major media outlet has bothered to include these "data points" in their lavish coverage of the White Helmets....
US and UK conducting hybrid warfare.

Sic Semper Tyrannis
Harper: Unmasking The White Helmets

See also

Sic Semper Tyrannis
Are the Russians Correct? by W. Patrick Lang
Col. W. Patrick Lang, US Army (ret.)

At the Defense Intelligence Agency, Lang was the Defense Intelligence Officer (DIO) for the Middle East, South Asia and counter-terrorism, and later, the first Director of the Defense Humint Service. At the DIA, he was a member of the Defense Senior Executive Service. He participated in the drafting of National Intelligence Estimates. From 1992 to 1994, all the U.S. military attachés worldwide reported to him. During that period, he also briefed President George H. W. Bush at the White House, as he had during Operation Desert Storm.

He was also the head of intelligence analysis for the Middle East for seven or eight years at that institution. He was the head of all the Middle East and South Asia analysis in DIA for counter-terrorism for seven years. For his service in the DIA, Lang received the Presidential Rank Award of Distinguished Executive. — Wikipedia
105 hits in Syria? Not likely, says Russia & shows fragments of missiles downed in US-led strikes

Innesa S. — Investigation: Russian politicians embezzle billions offshore

The Russian investigation began when Mossack Fonseca (Panamanian law firm) had its “Panama Papers” leaked to journalists in 2016. ...
Fort Russ
Investigation: Russian politicians embezzle billions offshore
Innesa S.

Aimee Lutkin — This Toilet Provides Safe Sanitation Without Plumbing Or Electricity

Effective, efficient, and inexpensive.
Poor sanitation is responsible for 80 percent of world health issues, like infectious disease, and four percent of deaths. That may sound small, but in context, it is about 1,500 children every day. It can also lead to chronic illnesses that plague both children and adults. In areas without plumbing, the options are dumping and hauling sewage, which can be both expensive and dangerous…
Public toilets also mean more women and girls are subject to sexual assault when forced to leave their home for access to a bathroom. As an exampled on their website, change:WATER writes that in Uttar Pradesh, "60% of reported gender-based violence is sanitation-related."...
Green Matters
This Toilet Provides Safe Sanitation Without Plumbing Or Electricity
Aimee Lutkin

David Ruccio — Utopia and macroeconomics

From the beginning, mainstream macroeconomics has been a battleground between the visible and the invisible hand.
Keynesian macroeconomics, represented on the left-hand side of the chart above, has an aggregate supply curve with a long horizontal section at levels of output (Y or real GDP) below full employment (Yfe). What this means is that the aggregate demand determines the actual level of output, which can be and often is at less than full employment (e.g., when AD falls from AD1 to AD2, output to Y1, and prices to P2), with no necessary tendency to return to full employment and price stability. Therefore, according to Keynesian economists, the visible hand of government needs to step in and, through a combination of fiscal and monetary policy, move the economy toward full employment (at Yfe) and stable prices (at P1).
Neoclassical macroeconomists, like their classical predecessors, have a very different view of the macroeconomy, which is represented on the right-hand side of the chart. They start with a vertical aggregate supply curve at a level of output corresponding to full employment. Therefore, according to their theory—often referred to as Say’s Lawor “supply creates its own demand”—aggregate demand does not determine the level of output; instead, it determines only the price level. Thus, for example, if aggregate demand falls (e.g., from AD1 to AD2), output does not change (it remains at Yfe)—only the price level falls (from P1 to P2). On the neoclassical view, the invisible hand of the market maintains full employment (through the labor market) and reverses price deflation (through the so-called real-balance effect) by boosting aggregate demand (back to AD1 from AD2)....
That’s why we need to question the shared utopianism of the two sides of mainstream macroeconomics. What has gone missing from much of the current debate, even outside the mainstream, is that full employment and price stability are consistent with the worst abuses of contemporary capitalism.…

Occasional Links & Commentary
Utopia and macroeconomics
David F. Ruccio | Professor of Economics, University of Notre Dame

Michael Roberts — The value (price and profit) of everything

Mariana Mazzacuto’s new book, The value of everything, seems to have caught the imagination of the liberal wing of mainstream economics. It has even won the accolade of a review in the UK’s Financial Times by top mainstream Keynesian economic journalist, Martin Wolf and was launched at an event at the London School of Economics.
Mazzacuto previously wrote an important book, The Entrepreneurial State, that ‘debunked’ the myth that only the capitalist sector contributes to innovation while the state sector is a burden and cost to growth.…
Since then, Mazzacuto’s powerful arguments in favour of government investment and the role of the state have led to her becoming an adviser to the UK’s Corbyn Labour leadership and also joint winner of the Leontief prize for advancing the frontiers of economic thought, with inequality expert Branco Milanovic, formerly chief economist at the World Bank.
Now in her new book, she takes on a bigger task: trying to define who (what) creates value in our economies, a subject that has been debated by the greatest economists of capitalism from Adam Smith onwards. “Who really creates wealth in our world? And how do we decide the value of what they do?”
Her main line in this new book is that 1) government is not recognised in national accounts as adding to value through its contribution to investment and innovation; 2) finance has sneaked into accounts as productive and value-creating when in reality it ‘extracts’ value for productive sectors and breeds speculation and short-termism etc.; and 3) there has been the growth of a monopoly sector in modern capitalism that is ‘rent-seeking’ rather than ‘value-creating’....
Relevant to comparing countries like the US and China based on GDP rather than PPP or some other metric that better represents actual production — stuff rather than paper — and also distribution, which GDP per capita avoids.

Michael Roberts Blog
The value (price and profit) of everything
Michael Roberts

JG opposed by libertarians

Cato libertarians out against a JG right on cue:


Weisenthal is right here imo...

Washington and Lafayette

Boy, in your face England...

Trump is pissed at the UK for MI6's role in the phony dossier which was used by his political enemies formerly in the US intelligence community.

Don't look for the UK to get any state dinners or any other favors until they start to jail the UK intelligence people who were involved in the phony dossier.

You tell 'em Ivanka:

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Zero Hedge — China Prepares To Mass Produce Hypersonic Vehicles

Interesting article. But Russia is actually in the lead according to the report.

Zero Hedge
China Prepares To Mass Produce Hypersonic Vehicles
Tyler Durden

Paul Antonopoulos — Russia, China to advance defense cooperation to check any foreign aggression

Historical dialectic at work. Driving Russia and China together — the West's worst nightmare. Brilliant strategy, that. Kissinger warned Trump against it.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Tuesday at a meeting with Vice Chairman of China’s Central Military Commission Xu Qiliang that Moscow and Beijing are developing a strategic policy to strengthen cooperation on defense.
“The privileged character of intergovernmental ties is confirmed by regular meetings between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping, Shoigu said.
Fort Russ
Russia, China to advance defense cooperation to check any foreign aggression
Paul Antonopoulos

Jason Smith — The economic way of thinking?

More on the foundations of economics.

Information Transfer Economics
The economic way of thinking?
Jason Smith

Pam and Russ Martens — Why Isn’t the Justice Department Bringing Treasury-Rigging Charges Against Wall Street?

Primary dealers.

Wall Street On Parade
Why Isn’t the Justice Department Bringing Treasury-Rigging Charges Against Wall Street?
Pam Martens and Russ Martens

Paul Grenier — America’s Men Without Chests

America’s way of acting in the world, the violence it often does to the truth while asserting its will, cannot be explained simply through its alleged “interests.” The U.S. acts the way it does because of the peculiar American way of understanding what gives life and action meaning.
At the core of the American philosophy is voluntarism, the justification of action based purely and simply on the will. The distinguishing characteristic of voluntarism is that it gives pride of place to the will as such, to the will as power, the will abstracted from everything else, but especially abstracted from the good. The notion of the good is necessarily inclusive of the whole, of all sides. Concern exclusively for oneself goes by a different name.
The clearest and perhaps the best expression of American voluntarism come of age was expressed by Karl Rove during the George W. Bush administration, as reported by Ron Suskind in New York Times Magazine on October 17, 2004:

We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors… and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.
This oft-quoted statement is naively assumed to have been the expression of a single moment in American politics, rather than a summation of its ethos by one of its shrewder and more self-aware practitioners. The point of the voluntarist order is to act, to impose one’s will on global reality by any means necessary. The truth is not something to be understood, or grasped, still less something that should condition one’s own actions and limit them in any way. Truth is reducible to whatever is useful for imposing one’s will....
The American Conservative
Paul Grenier, founder of the Simone Weil Center for Political Philosophy

Joaquin Flores — ‘Oligarch’? Putin decrees a massive budget-doubling of socialized healthcare

Health care and infrastructure. 

How to pay for it? "We'll figure that out later."

So much for affordability versus the common good and general welfare.

Russia takes a cue from China?

Fort Russ
‘Oligarch’? Putin decrees a massive budget-doubling of socialized healthcare
Joaquin Flores

Caitlin Johnstone — MSM Is Frantically Attacking Dissenting Syria Narratives, And It Looks Really Bad

Many of these recent hit pieces are coming out of the UK, which is interesting given the way a BBC reporter recently admonished her interviewee for questioning the official story about the alleged Douma chemical attacks because his words could hurt the “information war” effort against Russia. If this view is widespread among British journalists (and recent headlines by the Times, the Independent and the Telegraphsuggest that it may be), this means we’re looking at an environment wherein reporters aren’t even pretending it’s their job to be truthful, tell all sides of a story and hold power to account, but rather to manufacture support for escalations against Russia and undermine anyone who resists....

Caitlin Johnstone — Rogue Journalist
MSM Is Frantically Attacking Dissenting Syria Narratives, And It Looks Really Bad
Caitlin Johnston

See also

Ed Schulz, Cenk Uygur, Mika Brzezinski, Phil Donahue, Ashleigh Banfield.
People scoff at state-funded channels like RT, while singing the praises of channels like MSNBC and CNN. Those networks benefit hugely from the myth that because they are not state-funded, they are somehow independent.
These are networks owned by giant parent corporations with plenty of skin in the political game — yet, it is rarely acknowledged that these corporations have a detrimental influence on the quality of journalism produced by their employees. The truth is rarely uttered, that network stars like Rachel Maddow are completely beholden to those corporate and political interests — and that this basic fact massively influences their reporting....
And this is just MSNBC, hardly the worst of the lot of US media.

Former MSNBC journalists expose the channel’s ‘pro-establishment bias’
Danielle Ryan, Irish freelance journalist

ht Naked Capitalism for both links.

Bill Mitchell – Bank of Japan’s QE strategy is failing

On April 20, 1018, the IMF presented its – Asia and Pacfic Department Press Briefing – in conjunction with the release of the April 2018 World Economic Outlook and the upcoming (May 9, 2018) release of its Asia and Pacific Regional Economy Outlook. The Deputy Director of the Asia and Pacific Department, one Odd Per Brekk, told the audience that Japan should continue its Quantitative Easing (QE) program and maintain transparency in its purchase volumes so as to ensure the strategy to accelerate the inflation rate up to the 2 per cent target is achieved. Part of this strategy involves shifting inflationary expectations from their recent low levels. Critics of the program shriek that the asset base of the Bank of Japan is now approaching the nominal GDP level and given that a high proportion of those assets are comprised of Japanese Government Bonds, that reversing the strategy eventually will be difficult and risks involving the Bank is huge losses, which might render it insolvent. Insolvency has no application in the case of a central bank which can never go broke. Further, the Bank never needs to reverse the QE purchases. There is no relevance in the rising assets to GDP ratio. The problem is that QE will not achieve the desired end. The Bank has expanded its QE program significantly yet the inflation rate and inflationary expectations remain well below the 2 per cent target. They will eventually work out that the mainstream theory that predicted otherwise is erroneous.
Bill Mitchell – billy blog
Bank of Japan’s QE strategy is failingBill Mitchell | Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), at University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia

Meagan Day — The Democrats and the Deficit Con

Dick Cheney was right: deficits don’t matter. If only Democrats would learn.…
Attempting to balance a commitment to deficit reduction alongside a theoretical responsibility to protect and expand public programs, Democrats end up imposing false limitations on themselves and neutering their own supposed political agenda. One wonders if the party, increasingly reliant on an elite capitalist donor class, is actually using deficit reduction to weasel out of the responsibility to make life better for the working-class majority of their constituency. The GOP inevitably spends every penny the Democrats save; the difference is that they spend it advancing right-wing policies, not left-wing ones, and lining the pockets of the rich, not the rest of us. The Republicans may be hypocrites, but the Democrats are either suckers or they’re throwing the game. 
Not MMT, but useful.

Deutsche Wirtshaftnachrichten — German press says US kneecapped itself with its sanctions on Russian aluminum

The US sanctions against aluminum producer Rusal seem to be a shot in their own knees: After the US government found that the price of aluminum went up as a result of uncertainty about the future of Rusal, US companies, and the massively hit western allies, the government in Washington backpedaled on Monday.
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement: “Rusal has felt the impact of US sanctions for its involvement with Oleg Deripaska, but the US government is not targeting the hard-working people who depend on Rusal and its affiliates. Rusal approached us to request removal from the list. Given the impact on our partners and allies, we have decided to postpone the resolution and dismantling phase while reviewing the request from Russia.”….
Merkel traveled to the US to clue Trump in about the economic and consequential political effects that sanctions are having on Germany.

Fort Russ
German press says US kneecapped itself with its sanctions on Russian aluminum
English translation posted at Fort Russ
Translated by Tom Winter

See also at Fort Russ

Backgrounder on Armenia, Moldova, and Belarus.

Post-Soviet Standoff: After Armenia, Who’s Next?
Eduard Popov, translated by Jafe Arnold

Kremlin: Ukraine ‘Maidan’ and Armenian ‘Velvet’ not the same
Vedomosti – translated by J. Flores

Christine Lagarde — Shining a Bright Light into the Dark Corners of Weak Governance and Corruption

I am gratified that nine countries—the entire G7 plus Austria and the Czech Republic—have already volunteered for this assessment. This is a major vote of confidence in the new framework.
IMF gets a new club to beat the emerging world that is now challenging the West. What's the likelihood of the IMF dealing with corruption in the West. This looks to be just another tool in the box of neoliberalism.

Most countries are affected by corruption of one form or another. Corruption in so-called capitalism is endemic, starting with state capture, since capitalism is based on law and institutional arrangements.

Neoliberalism is a political theory based on state capture — special interests using government to favor capital as a factor of production because this "promotes growth and efficiency." The same with neocolonial wars to spread late-stage capitalism under the rubric of "spreading democracy and freedom." The IMF is just a tool in the neoliberal toolbox.

The IMF itself is corrupt. Look what it contributed to in the destruction and enslavement of Greece.

IMF Blog
Shining a Bright Light into the Dark Corners of Weak Governance and Corruption
Christine Lagarde | Managing Director

Monday, April 23, 2018

Paul Robinson — ‘Foreign’ Minister

Chrystia Freeland gives a new meaning to the title ‘Foreign Minister’. Normally, it means the person in charge of a state’s dealings with foreign countries. In Canada’s case, however, it sometimes seems to mean something rather different – namely, the minister who represents the interests of a foreign country. For on occasion Ms Freeland appears to be less the foreign minister of Canada and more the foreign minister of Ukraine....
Just why did Justin Trudeau hire this person and why doesn't he fire her?

‘Foreign’ MinisterPaul Robinson | Professor, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa

Douglas Clement — U.S. inequality: It’s worse than we thought

Time spent on home chores increases inequality among American households.…
The idea that income inequality might be tempered by “home production”—with low-income families cooking meals at home rather than eating out; mowing the lawn instead of hiring a service—is both intuitively and emotionally appealing. If families can’t earn big bucks, goes the notion, at least they can provide for themselves and thereby soften the blow of poverty due to low wages and unemployment. The story aligns well with America’s ethic of self-sufficient individualism.
But is that comforting picture a reality, or a myth?
Recent research by Minneapolis Fed economists suggests the latter. In “Inferring Inequality with Home Production” (WP 746, also NBER 24166), Job Boerma and Loukas Karabarbounis find that home production—a factor often ignored by economists—“amplifies … differences among households, meaning that inequality is larger than we thought.” Their mathematical model with both market production (that is, jobs) and household production generates greater inequality than a model that incorporates only market production....
FRB Minneapolis — The Region
U.S. inequality: It’s worse than we thought
Douglas Clement | Editor, The Region
ht Mark Thoma at Economist’s View 

Craig Murray — Condemned By Their Own Words

The Zionists are getting slammed, in case you missed it. And they are not helping their own case.

Craig Murray Blog
Condemned By Their Own Words
Craig Murray, formerly British ambassador to Uzbekistan and Rector of the University of Dundee

Model tractability. Scientific?

More on the raging debate over tractability begun by Beatrice Cherrier, if you are following it.

Lars P. Syll’s Blog
Tractability hoax redux​
Lars P. Syll | Professor, Malmo University

Information Transfer Economics
Tractability for tractability's sake?
Jason Smith

Business Insider — Bernie Sanders is about to roll out a plan to guarantee every single American a job

  • Sen. Bernie Sanders will introduce a plan to guarantee every American a job paying $15 an hour, according to a new report.
  • The plan comes after two other Democratic senators, Cory Booker and Kirsten Gillibrand, also backed job guarantee proposals.
  • Advocates for the plan say it will fight inequality and dampen recession, while opponents say it is an inefficient use of government resources.

Woo hoo.

Thank Stephanie Kelton, especially, and the MMT economists!

Business Insider
Bernie Sanders is about to roll out a plan to guarantee every single American a job
Bob Bryan

Pam and Russ Martens — Why Did a Wall Street Plaintiff’s Law Firm File the DNC RICO Lawsuit Against Trump’s Campaign

If there’s any plaintiff’s law firm in America that should know racketeering when it sees it, it’s Cohen Milstein. It’s sued the major Wall Street banks repeatedly with a solid win rate for colluding to rig pretty much anything that trades. On Friday, in the same Federal District Court where its Wall Street actions are litigated, the Southern District of New York (SDNY), it filed its bombshell RICO lawsuit on behalf of the Democratic National Committee (DNC).
Wall Street On Parade
Why Did a Wall Street Plaintiff’s Law Firm File the DNC RICO Lawsuit Against Trump’s Campaign
Pam Martens and Russ Martens

Sputnik — Lavrov Calls French President Stance on Syria ‘Colonial’

Getting real about motives.


For France and the UK, making their countries great means recapture some of their colonial power.

Macron setting himself up as the new DeGaulle? "A la gloire de la patrie."

Sputnik International
Lavrov Calls French President Stance on Syria ‘Colonial’

Southfront — Another Field Correspondent Finds Out That Douma Chemical Attack Was ‘Staged’

Uli Gack, a correspondent of the German state-run Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen (ZDF) broadcaster has visited the Damascus countryside [Douma is lcoated near it] and has found that refugees from Douma say that the April 7 chemical attack was “staged”.

“People told us in a very convincing manner that this whole story was staged,” he told adding that he visited of the refugee camps near Damascus, where “some 20,000 people from Eastern Ghouta and particularly from Douma” had been placed.
According to Gack quoting witnesses, the scene of the April 7 “chemical attack” was in fact the “command post” of a local militant group.
The corresponded added that, according to the locals, militants brought canisters containing chlorine to the area and “actually waited for the Syrian Air Force to bomb the place, which was of particular interest for them.” The locals added that it had not been the first provocation starged by militants.
According to other local sources quoted by the corresponded, militants deliberately exposed people to chemical agents during what they called “training exercises”. The videos filmed during such “exercises” were later presented as an “evidence” of the alleged chemical attack in Douma.
Gack concluded by saying that he cannot verify the local’s statements and cannot say if they are all true. However, he called them quite “convincing”.
Another Field Correspondent Finds Out That Douma Chemical Attack Was ‘Staged’

See also

Saudi Warplanes Struck Wedding Ceremony In Yemen. More Than 40 Civilians Killed