Monday, May 21, 2018

CGTN — The most downloaded IOS APP - why the obsession with Tik Tok videos?

...Douyin in China boasts of billions of hits each day. Its international edition has recently topped off Whatsapp, becoming the most downloaded IOS application on the market in the first quarter of 2018.…
Tik Tok videos are typically 15 seconds long, tuned to repurposed, hit music and featured special effects....
Zhi [Ying, senior Director with Tik Tok] said the app's popularity builds on what users, typically under 35, made and submitted themselves, as they've taken the format to be an essential way of expression.
Zhi told CGTN that short-video is the new way of expression and communication now, just as important as texts and photos….
The most downloaded IOS APP - why the obsession with Tik Tok videos?

Steve Keen — Some Preliminary Questions for MMT

I had an impromptu debate with Warren Mosler, the founder and still one of the leading figures of "Modern Monetary Theory" recently. We disagreed on the role of trade deficits, and this has led another MMT luminary, Bill Mitchell, to write two commentaries critiquing my position (see "Trade and external finance mysteries – Part 1" and "Trade and finance mysteries – Part 2".
This is my partial reply to Mitchell—there are more issues that I want to take up when I have time to do so....
Some Preliminary Questions for MMT
Steve Keen | Professor and Head Of School Of Economics, History & Politics, Kingston University, London

Marx links — 21 May 2018

MR Online
Meeting Marx: Chinese youth dig Marxism’s appeal

Radical Political Economy
Das Kapital after 150 years – a lecture by Riccardo Bellofiore

Immanuel Wallerstein: The Contemporary Relevance of Marx
Posted by David Fields

Links — May 21, 2018

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs: GUARANTEED! -- May 20 update

Is the Job Guarantee a Ponzi Scheme?

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

Oxfam Blogs — From Poverty to Power
Links I Liked
Duncan Green

WCEG — The Equitablog
Galbraithian economics: Countervailing power edition
Brad DeLong

Zero Hedge
Supreme Court Crushes Unions By Limiting Collective Action Bargaining
Tyler Durden

Caitlin Johnstone — Rogue Journalist
The Skripal Case Is Being Pushed Down The Memory Hole With Libya And Aleppo
Caitlin Johnstone

Zero Hedge
Scientists Revise Understanding Of Novichok After It Fails To Produce Expected Lethal Effects
Tyler Durden

Niskanen Center
Three More Reasons to be Cautious About a National Job Guarantee
Ed Dolan


Craig Murray on "Philip Cross" — Parts 1-3

Examination of a fake news disinformation campaign and psyop.

Craig Murray Blog
The Philip Cross Affair

The “Philip Cross” MSM Promotion Operation Part 3
Craig Murray, formerly British ambassador to Uzbekistan and Rector of the University of Dundee

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Zach Carter — Stephanie Kelton Has The Biggest Idea In Washington


Its' a very positive article, but unfortunately, the job guarantee is not presented in terms of the basic issue — the choice between a buffer stock of employed or buffer stock of unemployed, and how the former is superior using efficiency and effectiveness as criteria.

The other key issue is how the JG is an integral aspect of policy formulation that promises to reconcile the trifecta of growth, employment and price stability, previous thought to be impossible without using one as a tool to target the others.

Adoption of policy based on MMT analysis should keep the economy operating a close to optimal output and employment along with moderate inflation, with the JG playing the dual role of providing a price anchor, on one hand, and on the other, mopping up residual unemployment after the application of function finance to fiscal policy based on stock-flow consistent macro modeling.

Huffington Post
Stephanie Kelton Has The Biggest Idea In Washington
Zach Carter

'Chinese Were Prepared, EU Companies Were Not’ for US' Iran Sanctions - Analyst — Sputnik interviews Tom McGregor

China’s state-owned energy giant CNPC is ready to replace French energy company Total’s stake in the Iranian South Pars gas project. In 2017, Total and CNPC signed a 20-year contract worth 4.8 billion dollars to develop Phase 11 of Iran’s South Pars field. Sputnik spoke with political analyst Tom McGregor about CNPC’s acquisition plan.

Sputnik: How serious is CNPC about acquiring Total’s stake in the South Pars gas project in your opinion? 
McGregor: Definitely if it’s available to them they will certainly look at the deal and the way the Chinese do business is that they don’t make an announcement unless they are going to do something. They are very secretive about this kind of stuff, so unless there is some weird bluff, there’s no reason for them to make an announcement unless they are very serious. Chances are they are already taking action and they have already moved forward on it and they are just waiting to sign the deal to see what Total does. The Total energy giant in France and you do have these sanctions and then Trump has promised on campaign trail that he was going to create problems for Iran, so there should be no surprise. The European companies should have been prepared for this, years ago and I don’t know why they are overreacting. They knew what was going to happen after Trump was elected. So I think what happened was that the Chinese were prepared already and the European companies were not. ...
Sputnik International — Opinion
'Chinese Were Prepared, EU Companies Were Not’ for US' Iran Sanctions - Analyst
Sputnik interviews Tom McGregor, a political analyst and Asia-Pacific commentator for China's national TV broadcaster CNTV

Also from Sputnik

As French Total Warns It Could Leave Iran, British Pergas Enters the Game

EU States, Russia, China to Discuss New Iran Deal, Leaving US Sidelined - Report

Caitlin Johnstone — Wikipedia Is An Establishment Psyop

As we discussed last time, the only real power in this world is the ability to control the dominant narrative about what’s going on. The only reason government works the way it works, money operates the way it operates, and authority rests where it rests is because everyone has agreed to pretend that that’s how things are. In actuality, government, money and authority are all man-made conceptual constructs and the collective can choose to change them whenever it wants. The only reason this hasn’t happened in our deeply dysfunctional society yet is because the plutocrats who rule us have been successful in controlling the narrative.
Whoever controls the narrative controls the world. This has always been the case....
Push is coming to shove.

Caitlin Johnstone — Rogue Journalist
Wikipedia Is An Establishment Psyop
Caitlin Johnstone

Brian Romanchuk — Principles Of Canadian Municipal Finance (And Why A Land Value Tax Is Inferior)

The fundamental question involves addressing economic rent. 

The first step is determine whether and to what degree economic rents are involved in changes in land valuation. 

Secondly, if so, how to deal with this is a manner that is socially, politically, financially, and economically feasible. 

Thirdly, how to optimize this, given the tradeoffs.
The funding of Canadian municipal governments is not normally thought of as interesting topic; even Canadian fixed income investors are not particularly excited about it. However, there are two side issues that are of general interest. The first question is: what happens to Canadian municipalities if the housing bubble pops? (As a spoiler, not very much.) The second question is the feasibility of a Land Value Tax (LVT) which is a concept that gets some people on the internet very excited. I will then outline why a LVT is inferior to the Canadian property tax system (which is not that different than the American system for that discussion)...
Bond Economics
Principles Of Canadian Municipal Finance (And Why A Land Value Tax Is Inferior)
Brian Romanchuk

Jonathon Pie - Wedding of the year

I'm fed up with being politically correct, here Jonathon Pie just comes straight out with it.  KV

Even in Australia, Pie can't avoid the "celebrations"

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Sandwichman — Jobs, Jobs, Jobs -- GUARANTEED!

Some useful history as background, but still no addressing the basic issue directly — buffer stock of employed or buffer stock of unemployed.

Absent a truly socialistic system, this is the key issue to address. The rest is detail.

Based on efficiency and effectiveness, a full employment economy is optimal. Redefinition of "full employment" to include millions of people out of work or not working full time when they desire a full time job is a lame excuse for a buffer stock of unemployed or underemployed.

Once it is admitted that idling works as a tool to target inflation based on NAIRU is bad idea, then the question becomes how to craft a bill to address this successfully

Actually, it was already addressed and passed in Humphrey-Hawkins, but that bill was ineffective.

The US needs an effective law to address chronic unemployment and underemployment.

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs -- GUARANTEED!

Glenn Greenwald — The FBI Informant Who Monitored the Trump Campaign, Stefan Halper, Oversaw a CIA Spying Operation in the 1980 Presidential Election

An extremely strange episode that has engulfed official Washington over the last two weeks came to a truly bizarre conclusion on Friday night. And it revolves around a long-time, highly sketchy CIA operative, Stefan Halper.
Four decades ago, Halper was responsible for a long-forgotten spying scandal involving the 1980 election, in which the Reagan campaign – using CIA officials managed by Halper, reportedly under the direction of former CIA Director and then-Vice-Presidential candidate George H.W. Bush – got caught running a spying operation from inside the Carter administration. The plot involved CIA operatives passing classified information about Carter’s foreign policy to Reagan campaign officials in order to ensure the Reagan campaign knew of any foreign policy decisions that Carter was considering....
But now, as a result of some very odd choices by the nation’s largest media outlets, everyone knows the name of the FBI’s informant: Stefan Halper. And Halper’s history is quite troubling, particularly his central role in the scandal in the 1980 election. Equally troubling are the DOJ and FBI’s highly inflammatory and, at best, misleading claims that they made to try to prevent Halper’s identity from being reported.
To begin with, it’s obviously notable that the person the FBI used to monitor the Trump campaign is the same person who worked as a CIA operative running that 1980 Presidential election spying campaign.…
In 1980, the Washington Post published an article reporting on the extremely unusual and quite aggressive involvement of the CIA in the 1980 presidential campaign. “Simply put, no presidential campaign in recent memory — perhaps ever — has attracted as much support from the intelligence community as the campaign of former CIA director Bush,” the article said.…
So as it turns out, the informant used by the FBI in 2016 to gather information on the Trump campaign was not some previously unknown, top-secret asset whose exposure as an operative could jeopardize lives. Quite the contrary: his decades of work for the CIA – including his role in an obviously unethical if not criminal spying operation during the 1980 presidential campaign – is quite publicly known.…
Whatever else is true, the CIA operative and FBI informant used to gather information on the Trump campaign in the 2016 campaign has, for weeks, been falsely depicted as a sensitive intelligence asset rather than what he actually is: a long-time CIA operative with extensive links to the Bush family who was responsible for a dirty and likely illegal spying operation in the 1980 presidential election. For that reason, it’s easy to understand why many people in Washington were so desperate to conceal his identity, but that desperation had nothing to do with the lofty and noble concerns for national security they claimed were motivating them. 
Intel has been politicized for a long time. And as Greenwald observes, it is not illegal under US law.

The Intercept
The FBI Informant Who Monitored the Trump Campaign, Stefan Halper, Oversaw a CIA Spying Operation in the 1980 Presidential Election
Glenn Greenwald

Also at The Intercept

The Untold Story of Japan’s Secret Spy Agency
Ray Gallagher

See also

It's even worse than Greenwald reports. This is big, and you can bet that Donald Trump is going to magnify it bigly.

Zero Hedge
FBI Spy-Op Exposed, Trump Campaign Infiltrated By Longtime CIA And MI6 Asset
Tyler Durden

Alex Gorka — Brussels Rises in Revolt Against Washington: a Turning Point in the US-European Relationship

There you have it. But let's wait and see if actions back the words. So I would put a question mark at the end of the post title.

Strategic Culture Foundation
Brussels Rises in Revolt Against Washington: a Turning Point in the US-European Relationship
Alex Gorka

See also
  • The left-wing Five Star Movement and the far-right Lega released their plans for the next executive Friday morning.
  • The plan would potentially end more than two months of political instability in the third largest euro zone economy.
  • The agreement, revealed Friday, also called for an end to EU sanctions on Russia.
Italy’s incoming government wants to lift Russia sanctions and rewrite EU rules
Silvia Amaro

Intel Today — CIA Director Mike Pompeo: “War on Terror as a Cosmic Divine Battle”

Another nut case.

The Bible according to Tim LaHaye

Intel Today
CIA Director Mike Pompeo: “War on Terror as a Cosmic Divine Battle”

More Marx, socialism, and ecology

MR Online
Marx and Metabolism: lost in translation?
Ian Angus | editor of Climate and Capitalism

MR Online
On the eve of Venezuela’s elections, the U.S. empire isn’t sitting idly by

MR Online
Ten Marxist ideas that define the 21st century
Sergio Alejandro Gómez

The So-called Labour Fund

Radical Political Economy
Capitalism and the Expropriation of Nature: The Strategic Discourse of Ecosocialism
John Bellamy Foster

Naked Capitalism
Frank Block | Research Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Davis

Friday, May 18, 2018

TASS — Russia to notify WTO of plans for retaliation against US for steel, aluminum duties

The United States has refused to hold consultations with Russia on the WTO platform over the introduction of restrictions on steel and aluminum import, saying such measures were not special protectionist ones, the Ministry of Economic Development told TASS on Friday. With this in mind Russia is going to notify the WTO of its intention to take retaliatory measures to limit the import of steel and aluminum.
"In response to Russia’s request for consultations the United States said that it did not regard its restrictions as special protectionist ones and was unprepared for consultations with Russia within the framework of WTO procedures on special protectionist measures. All other WTO members that had requested such consultations received the same reply," the ministry told TASS.
"In this connection we plan to notify the WTO Council on Trade in Goods of our intention to take such steps. Thirty days after such notification Russia will have the right to take retaliatory measures proportionate to the damage from US restrictions on the Russian export of steel and aluminum," the ministry said....
Following the rules.

Caitlin Johnstone — The Friendly Mask Of The Orwellian Oligarchy Is Slipping Off

Another good rant.

Caitlin Johnstone — Rogue Journalist
The Friendly Mask Of The Orwellian Oligarchy Is Slipping Off
Caitlin Johnstone

Bloomberg — Leading Democrats Are Backing One of the Most Radical Economic Plans in Years

About what one would expect from Bloomberg.

Leading Democrats Are Backing One of the Most Radical Economic Plans in Years 
Katia Dmitrieva with assistance by Sahil Kapur, and Jordan Yadoo

Mike Whitney — Foreign Policy Insiders Try to Scuttle Trump-Kim Nukes Deal

Good points. The best part is in the final several paragraphs.

The Unz Review

Matthew Stewart — The 9.9 Percent Is the New American Aristocracy

The class divide is already toxic, and is fast becoming unbridgeable. You’re [readers of the Atlantic] probably part of the problem.
Well-written article. Long.

The term "aristocracy" implies feudalism, and America is in a neo-feudal era similar to the Gilded Age.

The Atlantic
The 9.9 Percent Is the New American Aristocracy
Matthew Stewart

The Vatican — Considerations for an Ethical Discernment Regarding Some Aspects of the Present Economic-Financial System

The latest in Catholic social teaching. 
Pope Leo XIII's 1891 encyclical letter Rerum novarum*, which advocated economic distributism while criticizing both socialism and capitalism (though not market economics per se). Its roots can be traced to the writings of Catholic thinkers such as Thomas Aquinas and Augustine of Hippo, and is also derived from concepts present in the Bible and the cultures of the ancient Near East.— Wikipedia 
While not well-known in economic circles, Catholic social teaching is a "third way" between capitalism and socialism that attempts to integrate freedom with reason in a way that recognizes the value of the individuals along with their social embeddedness, viewing economic liberalism as exaggerating the former and the socialism as overvaluing the collective.

This is the latest iteration.

The Vatican
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
Dicastery For Promoting Integral Human Development
Oeconomicae et pecuniariae quaestiones

* "Rerum novarum" is Latin, phrase meaning "new things." Idiomatically, it signifies "revolution."

Pepe Escobar — The other art of the deal, Tehran-style

The art of the deal, when practiced for 2,500 years, does lead to the palace of wisdom. I had hardly set foot in Tehran when a diplomat broke the news: “Trump? We’re not worried. He’s a bazaari (merchant trader)” – implying a political compromise will eventually be reached.
Asia Times
The other art of the deal, Tehran-style
Pepe Escobar

Reuters — U.S. targets four individuals, three companies in Venezuela sanctions move — Reuters U.S. targets four individuals, three companies in Venezuela sanctions move

Ratcheting up economic warfare.
The U.S. Treasury imposed sanctions on four Venezuelans and three Florida-based companies under a program meant to pressure Caracas over what the United States sees as its heavy-handed tactics to suppress political opposition....
U.S. targets four individuals, three companies in Venezuela sanctions move


U.S. sanctions No. 2 official in Venezuela's Socialist party

Nicole Gaudiano — Sen. Bernie Sanders says this one issue keeps progressive policies from advancing

Sen. Bernie Sanders, speaking at a policy forum here Tuesday, identified a singular roadblock to achieving success on a host of progressive policies — and it wasn’t the Trump administration.
It’s American oligarchy.

Jason Smith — A list of macro meta-narratives

In my macro critique, I mentioned "meta-narratives" — what did I mean by that? Noah Smith has a nice concise description of one of them today in Bloomberg that helps illustrate what I mean: the wage-price spiral. The narrative of the 1960s and 70s was that the government fiscal and monetary policy started pushing unemployment below the "Non-Accelerating Inflation Rate of Unemployment" (NAIRU), causing inflation to explode. The meta-narrative is the wage-price spiral: unemployment that is "too low" causes wages to rise (because of scarce labor), which causes prices to rise (because of scarce goods for all the employed people to buy). In a sense, the meta-narrative is the mechanism behind specific stories (narratives). But given that these stories are often just-so stories, the "mechanism" behind them (despite often being mathematically precise) is frequently a one-off model that doesn't really deserve the moniker "mechanism". That's why I called it a "meta-narrative" (it's the generalization of a just-so story for a specific macro event).

Now just because I call them meta-narratives doesn't mean they are wrong. Eventually some meta-narratives become a true models. In a sense, the "non-equilibrium shock causality" (i.e macro seismographs) is a meta-narrative I've developed to capture the narrative of women entering the workforce and 70s inflation simultaneously with the lack of inflation today.

Below, I will give a (non-exhaustive) list of meta-narratives and example narratives that are instances of them. I will also list some problems with each of them. This is not to say these problems can't be overcome in some way (and usually are via additional just-so story elements). None have yielded a theory that describes macro observables with any degree of empirical accuracy, so that's a common problem I'll just state here at the top.
The difference among just-so stories, handwaving, modeling for effect, and data-based modeling....

Worth looking at for the weekend — and thinking about.

Information Transfer Economics
A list of macro meta-narratives
Jason Smith

Craig Murray — The Philip Cross Affair

The ever-vigilant Craig Murray catches out "Philip Cross." And exposes how how fake news is insidiously created on Wikipedia and why you need to be aware when you use it that it is not an objective source by any means.

This doesn't mean that Wikipedia is worthless or a waste of time consulting. Rather, it is subject to manipulation and controversial areas and subjects are likely to be infected.

But you probably knew that already.

Craig Murray Blog
The Philip Cross Affair
Craig Murray, formerly British ambassador to Uzbekistan and Rector of the University of Dundee

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Moon of Alabama — Syria - Inconsistent, Incomplete And Implausible - The OPCW Report On Saraqib Is Another Disgrace

Another false flag? Fits the pattern.

Moon of Alabama
Syria - Inconsistent, Incomplete And Implausible - The OPCW Report On Saraqib Is Another Disgrace

Robert Stevens — British Army against Corbyn! Imperialism needs to Destroy Democracy in the West

Forget the Deep State. There's talk of a military coup in the case of  a leftist leader being elected. No, we are not talking about Venezuela. Rather Britain.

This is not a joke either. It's actually being floated seriously. This is the way that the unthinkable gets normalized. It's a tactic.
Written by Paul Carter for the de facto house organ of the Conservative Party, the article makes clear that discussions on such a course of action in the event of a Labour victory under Corbyn are ongoing.
The article begins by noting, “Only one week after Jeremy Corbyn’s election as Labour leader, a serving general of the Army warned of a direct and public challenge if a future Prime Minister Corbyn jeopardised the country’s security: ‘The army wouldn’t stand for it … people would use whatever means possible, fair or foul, to prevent that.’”…
Carter refers to an article published by the Sunday Times in September 2015, after Corbyn had routed his Blairite leadership opponent with the backing of hundreds of thousands of Labour members and supporters. The newspaper cited an anonymous “senior serving general” that in the event of Corbyn becoming prime minister, there would be “the very real prospect” of “a mutiny.” Elements within the military would be prepared to use “whatever means possible, fair or foul,” the officer declared. He warned,  You would see a major break in convention with senior generals directly and publicly challenging Corbyn over vital important policy decisions such as Trident , pulling out of NATO and any plans to emasculate and shrink the size of the armed forces.”...
At the time, a Ministry of Defence source said that it was unacceptable for a serving officer to make political comments about a potential “future government,” but rejected mounting any investigation, claiming there were too many generals to investigate....
Makes the US look good. There may be a soft coup in the works, but at least no one has floated the ideal of a hard coup — yet anyway.

Robert Stevens shows that this is not a aberration in British history and cites evidence from the 1960-170's labor unrest and rise of Harold Wilson to power.

The Minskys - Austerity in the UK: Senseless and Cruel

Austerity in the UK is being portrayed as a success, but for whom?   KV

As the UK recorded its first current budget surplus in 16 years, the IMF was quick to use this development as sufficient proof to declare the austerity measures, imposed by the UK government in the aftermath of the financial crisis, a success. To the IMF, the UK case of eliminating its budget deficit, while avoiding a prolonged recession, and faring better than other European countries, supports the case for further austerity.
However, this overly simplistic interpretation disregards the long-term structural problems that the UK economy is facing, does not acknowledge the active role played by the Bank of England (BoE) in mitigating the crisis, nor does it attempt to understand what is behind the growing voter discontent that led to the Brexit vote. Furthermore, given that the austerity measures have been linked to 120,000 deaths, it seems rather odd to celebrate this approach.
While at a first glance, one might think the UK economy is in pretty good shape, with low unemployment levels and continuous growth for the last 8 and a half years, a closer look at the data reveals a less optimistic picture. As outlined in this report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) that I co-authored with Mark Weisbrot, the UK economy is facing some serious challenges.

The Minskys - Austerity in the UK: Senseless and Cruel

World Economic Forum - Renewable energy is getting cheaper and it's going to change everything

A renewable energy revolution is on the way although they still haven't found a cost effective way to store the captured energy yet. KV

The cost of solar power is decreasing so rapidly, it's now cheaper than coal, based on a new analysis.

A recent report from Lazard shows how the costs of producing electricity from various sources are changing. Energy from utility-scale solar plants — plants that produce electricity that feeds into the grid — has seen the biggest price drop: an 86% decrease since 2009.

The cost of producing one megawatt-hour of electricity — a standard way to measure electricity production — is now around $50 for solar power, according to Lazard's math. The cost of producing one megawatt-hour of electricity from coal, by comparison, is $102 — more than double the cost of solar.