Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Peter Cooper — Short & Simple 17 – A Notion of Macroeconomic Equilibrium

At the macro level, equilibrium requires that total demand in product markets equals total supply. This could occur at high or low levels of output and employment. For this reason, equality of supply and demand in product markets does not imply full employment.
Short & Simple 17 – A Notion of Macroeconomic Equilibrium
Peter Cooper

Hazel Marsh — Venezuela’s long history of racism is coming back to haunt it

The back story. 

Similar in Brazil and other Latin American countries. In Brazil the Carnival queen was deposed for being too black.

Defend Democracy
Venezuela’s long history of racism is coming back to haunt it
Hazel Marsh

M.K. Bhadrakumar — Russia Warns the US Over Afghanistan

The more one looks at it, President Donald Trump’s real challenge is not about winning the war against the Taliban, but the high risk he’ll be incurring, by taking his generals’ advice, to put his imprimatur on a full-fledged proxy war in Afghanistan against Russia, Iran and China.
Russia Insider
Russia Warns the US Over Afghanistan
M.K. Bhadrakumar

Pat Lang — The generals rolled him, as they rolled Obama ...

The difference between Trump and Obama is that under Trump generals are in key civilian positions that are supposed to put a civilian check on the military. Now there is in effect a military junta running military policy with State under the control of a former Exxon CEO and treasury under the control of a Goldman Sachs alumnus. This is even worse that could be expected if HRC had been elected instead, and it is what a lot people that voted for DJT were voting to prevent.

Sic Semper Tyrannis
The generals rolled him, as they rolled Obama ...
Col. W. Patrick Lang, US Army (ret.), former military intelligence officer at the US Defense Intelligence Agency

Former Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai said in a statement on Tuesday that US President Donald Trump's new strategy toward Afghanistan is against Afghanistan's national interest.
Sputnik International
Karzai Slams New US' Afghan Strategy as 'Trump More Focused on War & Rivalries'

Also for consideration:

Voltaire Network
The anti-imperialist camp: splintered in thought

Thierry Meyssan


No plan, no strategy.

Reinforcing failure
Paul Robinson | Professor, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa

Pam and Russ Martens — Wall Street Banks Sued Again for Conspiring to Control a Market

As summer draws to a close and the Wall Street titans enjoy the last of their lazy long weekends in the Hamptons, summering next door to the army of lawyers that keep them out of jail, it’s a curious time to be reading about a major new lawsuit that has the potential to shake Wall Streeters right down to their Gucci loafers. The charges include conspiracy to restrain trade in violation of the Sherman Act and unjust enrichment in a $1.7 trillion market.
Since the Senate hearings of the early 1930s, which examined the Wall Street practices and conspiracies that led to the 1929-1932 stock market collapse and Great Depression, there have been rumblings that Wall Street’s system for lending stock for traders to short is a viper’s nest of ripoffs. Now two major law firms, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan and Cohen Milstein are suing six of the largest Wall Street banks, alleging that they illegally colluded in this market. The defendants are the usual suspects: JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse, UBS and their stock lending units. (The only surprise here is that Citigroup is not named.)...
Wall Street On Parade
Wall Street Banks Sued Again for Conspiring to Control a Market
Pam Martens and Russ Martens

Robert Vienneau — The Concept Of Totality

Georg Lukács quote.

Thoughts On Economics
The Concept Of Totality
Robert Vienneau

Graham E. Fuller — Global Disorder- What Are the Options?

Global disorder is on the rise. What can the US do about it? There are two fundamentally different approaches one can take—it all depends on your philosophy of how the world works.

The first school thinks primarily in terms of law, order and authority: it accepts the need for a global policeman. The second school is more willing to let regional nations take the initiative to eventually work things out among themselves. Both schools possess advantages and disadvantages. Something called Balance of Power politics lies halfway between the two....
Graham E. Fuller
Global Disorder- What Are the Options?
Graham E. Fuller | adjunct professor of history at Simon Fraser University, formerly vice chairman of the National Intelligence Council at the CIA, and a former senior political scientist at RAND

With words unprecedented for a US president, Trump called out Pakistan for harboring and supporting terrorist groups that target and kill US citizens and said there would be a radical change in policy toward the South Asian nation. Trump indicated the US would work to increase ties with India, Pakistan's neighbor and greatest enemy, a move sure to both enrage as well as frighten Pakistani elites.…
Trump said the US will work to increase ties with India, Pakistan’s neighbor and greatest enemy, as part of the “change in approach in how to deal with Pakistan.”
Pushing Pakistan into China's arms.
In what must have sent shockwaves all the way to Islamabad and Rawalpindi – the home of Pakistan’s military and intelligence service – Trump followed up his harsh words for Pakistan with a call for greater American cooperation with India.
Trump said the US will seek to “develop its strategic partnership with India” and described the country as “a key security and economic harbor of the United States.” He called for India to play a greater role in Afghanistan “especially in the area of economic assistance and development.”….
FDD's Long War Journal
Trump takes hard line on Pakistan for supporting terrorist groups
Bill Roggio | Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal


Russian expert says Trump’s new Afghanistan policy aimed at China`


The Duran
China tells Trump not to allow India to interfere in regional interests
Adam Garrie

Baltnews — Greek Minister refuses to attend anti-communist conference in Tallinn, and tells why

In a letter sent to the organizers of the event, Kontonis explained that such an initiative revives the climate of the Cold War, contradicts the values of the EU and equates Communism with Nazism, which is unacceptable.
"History can not be faked. Historical data and events declare the Soviet Army as the liberator of Europe and of the Nazi concentration camps, as a savior from the horrors of the Holocaust. In our thoughts and in our minds, the Nazi regime is a political system whose ideology is based on racism, hatred, intolerance and mass murder, and under no circumstances can it be compared with communism, with the political ideology that it represents, or comparable to something else, Or simply because humanity has not experienced anything like Nazism and I hope that in the future it never will again" his letter states.
According to him, communism has spawned dozens of ideological currents, including Eurocommunism, which influenced all of Western Europe.
"We believe that the initiative to organize a conference with a specific content and title sends an incorrect and dangerous political signal, reviving the climate of the Cold War, which has caused much suffering to Europe, contradicts the values of the EU and, of course, does not reflect the point of view of the Greek government and the Greek people.
And nazism and communism can not be two sides of the same equation. It is clear that the General Secretariat for Human Rights of the Greek Ministry of Justice will not participate in a conference with such a theme," said Kontonis.... 
Fort Russ
Greek Minister refuses to attend anti-communist conference in Tallinn, and tells why
Baltnews.ee, translated by Tom Winter -

David Lazare — Israel’s Alarm over Syrian Debacle

Backgrounder on the Middle East.

Consortium News
Israel’s Alarm over Syrian Debacle
David Lazare

Will Denayer — The Great Repeal Bill: the neoliberal assault on democracy and human rights

The Great Repeal Bill grants May’s ministers the power to rewrite reams of British law without democratic oversight. Not only will there be no longer an equivalent to the Francovich ruling. The Great Repeal Bill will also diminish human, civic, social and environmental rights. It will considerably strengthen the position of the executive. A British Bill of Rights and “free” trade deals will replace the Human Rights Act and the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. Agreements will empower global corporations to sue the government in secret courts any time ‘state regulation’ stands in the way of corporate profit. It is the neoliberal assault on democracy and human rights in full action....

Bill Mitchell — Europe – the deliberate wastage of its youth continues

Earlier this month (August 11, 2017), Eurostat published the latest European Union data for – Young people in the EU: education and employment. This data now allows us to track the fortunes of three age cohorts – 15-19, 20-24 and 25-29 years since before the crisis to the end of 2016. So a teenager prior to the crisis (2007) would be transiting into the 25-29 years cohort in 2016. One of the disturbing trends shown in the data is the increasing number of young people in the older ‘youth’ categories that in 2016 we classified as being Neither in Employment, nor in Education or Training (NEET). Some will have been in that category for the entire duration of the crisis – that is, they dropped out of school early, are not receiving any skills development and are unemployed. Whereas in 2007, the proportion of NEETs in the 25-29 years cohort was 17.2 per cent, that figure has risen to 18.8 per cent by 2016 (although the peak of 20.7 per cent was reached in 2012). This suggests that the systems which provide transitions between education and employment are not working effectively because the demand-side of the labour market is deficient. That is, there is a lack of jobs available overall and the most disadvantaged youth workers are at the back of the queue along with the disabled and other stigmatised cohorts (for example, Roma people in the European context). There is an urgent need for a true Youth Job Guarantee, to replace the faux Youth Guarantee that was introduced in 2012. But then that would require abandoning the obsession with austerity and dysfunctional fiscal rules. The European Commission’s answer to the problem will be to have another ‘summit’ or two and issue plenty of statements replete with motherhood statements.

A recurring theme among mainstream economic commentators is that the ageing societies that the Western nations are experiencing will eventually impose massive health and pension costs, which governments will be unable to afford. The claims of financial incapacity are, of course, fallacious....
Bill Mitchell – billy blog
Europe – the deliberate wastage of its youth continues
Bill Mitchell | Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), at University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia

Monday, August 21, 2017

Mark Perry — How Generals Talked Another President into Losing Strategy

Another Pentagon observer had a much different take. “This is Joe Biden’s plan, all the way,” he said, referring to the then-Vice President’s recommendation to Obama back in 2009. “Biden said that we should increase counterterrorism operations, draw down U.S. forces in the provinces, increase pressure on Pakistan and make a deal with India. Obama said ‘no’ to the idea, but you can bet Mattis was listening. This is his plan all the way.”
Almost everyone at the Pentagon agrees, though key senior military officers who have been privy to James Mattis’s thinking over the last weeks (but who remain unconvinced by it) provide a cautionary, and nearly fatalistic, note. “This Trump plan, at least so far as I understand it, sounds a lot like the kind of plan we’ve come up with again and again since the end of World War Two,” a senior Pentagon officer says. “We’re going to surge troops, reform the government we support and put pressure on our allies. In this building [the Pentagon] there’s a hell of a lot of skepticism. And that’s because we all know what this new strategy really means – and what it means that the only way we can get out of Afghanistan is to get further in. You know, it seems to me that if there’s one thing we’ve learned, it’s that that doesn’t work.”
The American Conservative
How Generals Talked Another President into Losing Strategy
Mark Perry

Edward Harrison — The limits of monetary policy in today’s fiat currency world

First, let me say that two primary goals of macro policy everywhere and always should be full employment and stable prices. Why? I am looking at this purely through the lens of the political economy – thinking about how our fellow citizens live and breathe the economy and how government should be designed to respond to their needs. On the jobs side, we have seen that high unemployment leads to political instability, economic turmoil and conflict. When you have masses of people unemployed or unable to earn enough money to sustain the lifestyle they aspire to – especially young males – you have the makings of discontent that leads to political instability, electoral desperation, fringe voting, and even revolt and insurrection.
On the inflation side of things, high deflation and inflation are equally problematic. When you have, say, families with mortgages or businesses trying to expand, doing the things we see as ‘normal’ to get ahead, deflation makes their task harder by unexpectedly increasing the real burden of that debt. That leads to a downward spiral as fire sales force prices even lower, what we now called debt deflation. Now I know the Austrians say just let this play out. But politically, that’s never going to happen. Think about the housing busts of this last crisis. Just as with joblessness, you have the same makings of political discontent that leads to chaos. And as bad as deflation is, we know inflation is difficult too – not just Weimar or Zimbabwe-style inflation but even the moderately high levels of the 1970s....
Credit Writedowns
The limits of monetary policy in today’s fiat currency world
Edward Harrison

Sputnik — Russia's Nuclear Shield: From World's First ICBM to 'Dead Hand' System

The Russian "doomsday machine" continues to safeguard the country's sovereignty and national interests, RIA Novosti contributor Alexander Khrolenko writes, shedding light on how Perimeter, an automatic nuclear-control system dubbed 'Dead Hand,' actually works.…
After the end of the Cold War, the Russian "doomsday machine" was removed from combat duty in 1995.
However, "the United States and its allies did not appreciate this gesture of goodwill of the leadership of the Russian Federation, and began to actively create the world of 'American exceptionalism', with NATO proceeding to move closer to Russian borders," Khrolenko pointed out.
Thus, in December 2011 the commander of the Russian Strategic Missile Forces, Sergei Karakaev, announced in an interview with Komsomolskaya Pravda that the Perimeter system was up and running again....
Sputnik International
Russia's Nuclear Shield: From World's First ICBM to 'Dead Hand' System

CIA Dr Richards J. Heuer — “Information Collection vs Analytical Methods”

Information overload.

Intel Today
CIA Dr Richards J. Heuer: “Information Collection vs Analytical Methods”

Nafeez Ahmed — Inside the new economic science of capitalism’s slow-burn energy collapse


INSURGE intelligence - Medium
Inside the new economic science of capitalism’s slow-burn energy collapse
Nafeez Ahmed

Pam and Russ Martens — Wall Street’s Latest Plot: Blame the Financial Crash on the French

Wall Street appears to have a plan to get the deregulation it wants by pinning the start of the epic financial crash of 2007-2010 on (wait for it) the French, rather than its own unbridled greed, corruption and toxic manufacture of junk bonds known as subprime debt that it paid to have rated AAA by ethically-challenged and deeply conflicted rating agencies. (The same rating agencies that are getting paid by Wall Street to rate its debt issues today.)...
Wall Street On Parade
Wall Street’s Latest Plot: Blame the Financial Crash on the French
Pam Martens and Russ Martens

John McKenna — This alarming chart shows the reality of global warming over 100 years

Graphics and video.

Big social, political and economic consequences in store.

World Economic Forum
This alarming chart shows the reality of global warming over 100 years
John McKenna

Roberta A. Modugno — The Levellers: The First Libertarians

Some interesting history.

The Levellers were one of the inspirations for classical liberalism and laissez-faire. Libertarianism is a contemporary manifestation of classical liberalism, in contrast to neoliberalism, which incorporates a role for the state in promoting commerce and capital formation.

Mises Institute — Mises Wire
The Levellers: The First Libertarians
Roberta A. Modugno

Kevin Erdmann — Leverage is not a sign of risk seeking, a continuing series

A contrarian view.

Idiosyncratic Whisk
Leverage is not a sign of risk seeking, a continuing series
Kevin Erdmann

Andrew Gelman — Publish your raw data and your speculations, then let other people do the analysis: track and field edition

There seems to be an expectation in science that the people who gather a dataset should also be the ones who analyze it. But often that doesn’t make sense: what it takes to gather relevant data has little to do with what it takes to perform a reasonable analysis. Indeed, the imperatives of analysis can even impede data-gathering, if people have confused ideas of what they can and can’t do with their data.
I’d like us to move to a world in which gathering and analysis of data are separated, in which researchers can get full credit for putting together a useful dataset, without the expectation that they perform a serious analyses. I think that could get around some research bottlenecks.
It’s my impression that this is already done in many areas of science—for example, there are public datasets on genes, and climate, and astronomy, and all sorts of areas in which many teams of researchers are studying common datasets. And in social science we have the NES, GSS, NLSY, etc. Even silly things like the Electoral Integrity Project—I don’t think these data are so great, but I appreciate the open spirit under which these data are shared....
Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science
Publish your raw data and your speculations, then let other people do the analysis: track and field edition
Andrew Gelman | Professor of Statistics and Political Science and Director of the Applied Statistics Center, Columbia University

Mark S. Weiner — Trumpism and the Philosophy of History

This is a summary distinction between liberalism and traditionalism, although Weiner doesn't use the term traditionalism specifically. The distinction in the Western intellectual tradition begins with Plato and Aristotle's different political theories, with Plato's theory developing into traditionalism and Aristotle's into liberalism. In modern times, this would be reflected in the dichotomy between Hegel and Locke, and Continental versus Anglo-American thought. 

The main protagonists presently in the US are Steve Bannon representing traditionalism and conservatism and George Soros representing Karl Popper's Open Society view of liberalism. Weiner is aligning with the Soros "school" or liberal internationalism, neoconservatism, and interventionism here against classical conservatism and political conservatism.

The way the debate is now being framed publicly by both sides is in terms of American values and what  being "a real American" involves. Each side is attempting to lay claim to the mantle of "real American."

The conflict of over the future course of America and neither side is about to compromise in any way.

Project Syndicate
Trumpism and the Philosophy of History
Mark S. Weiner | Professor of Law at Rutgers University School of Law—Newark and former Fulbright Scholar in the Department of Legal Philosophy of the University of Salzburg

Sunday, August 20, 2017

He Yafei — New world order is the inevitable trend

After decades of turbulence, the world order led by the United States has begun to change, with the 2008 global financial crisis possibly being the turning point and this year signaling a new beginning....

The changing world order is not about the decline of the U.S. but about the rise of other countries, as Fareed Zakaria, a CNN journalist and author of The Post-American World, said. Nevertheless, global governance is set to change from West-led governance to co-governance by the West and East, as the democratization of international relations is a wish shared by all countries.
A multipolar world order and globalization will be the highlights of the new era. Countries across the world are willing to compete and cooperate on the basis of fairness and justice, yet the deadlock between emerging powers and the established ones will continue for some time....
China Daily
New world order is the inevitable trend
He Yafei, is former Chinese vice-foreign minister and co-chairman of the Center for China and Globalization

Bill Mitchell — When neo-liberal masquerades as anti-establishment

I am more positive and optimistic about the TOP (The Opportunities Party) critique of MMT than Bill is. It seems to me that it makes the major concessions that are most significant to reversing the status quo mindset about government finance. The objections are easily met, and Bill does in the post. So I would say that the ball has been advanced toward the goal in New Zealand. MMT got some free publicity, too. 

I don't see a problem with people bringing up questions or making objections, especially when they admit that the government as household or firm analogy doesn't hold. MMT proponents need to be ready with answers, and Bill's post provides some to the specific issues raised by TOP.

Bill Mitchell – billy blog
When neo-liberal masquerades as anti-establishment
Bill Mitchell | Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), at University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia

Sputnik — Society Should 'Filter' Information Based on Moral Principles - Putin

Putin puts his finger on a key issue without naming explicitly.

This is the classical question about what it means to be a good person in a good society.

Under Anglo-American liberalism, this question is not to be asked because the market is the arbiter of truth and value equates to prices. In this view, culture is based on utilitarianism, with its stimulus-response model of human behavior, and law exists chiefly to provide security and protect private property.

Traditionalism disagrees. In this view, human behavior involves moral responsibility and genuine freedom is impossible without moral responsibility.

Morality is about how people should behave, and law is about how people must and must not behave.

Morality and ethics are evolved culturally, and law is decided institutionally.

Classical conservatism is traditionalist. It looks to tradition for guidance in such matters.

Classical liberalism is rationally based. It looks to reason and evidence for justification.

Classical conservatives generally favor government taking a moral role and exerting moral authority where the need arises owing to conflict of views.

Classical liberals generally hold that this is is not a question for government to answer, although law makers must deal with it in legislating. Reason and evidence should be the guide rather than tradition and custom.

Putin is taking a liberal position for Russia, albeit traditionalist in Western liberal eyes. However, traditionalism and classical conservatism predominate strongly in Russian culture and politics.

Sputnik International
Society Should 'Filter' Information Based on Moral Principles - Putin

It’s up to the creative community to filter tele-and internet content as the government’s influence in this sphere should be reduced to minimum, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Sunday at a meeting with participants in the Tavrida educational youth forum, commenting on an idea of establishing a kind of a filter for television and internet content to reduce aggressive and crime-related information that is adversely impacting the younger generation.
"What is prohibited by law must be outlawed everywhere - both in the internet and in television, and in other mass media," he stressed. "But everything else must be done only by one way - through filtering by the creative community. If the community elaborates a system of moral and ethical filters it would be right. The government’s say in this process should be if not excluded, then minimized. But better excluded."
The president called to "think together on the establishment of such mechanisms." He said he is in contacts with the CEOs of Russia’s leading television channels and with those "who influence this or that way what is going on in the internet" and these people, in his words, understand the situation and "are trying to change it for the better." "It is difficult to do it - to filter information torrents - in the present-day world. There are grounds to fear that such filtration could be ideologized and society would be stripped of the possibility to receive reliable, open and direct information," Putin added.
Putin says government’s say in filtering info content should be reduced to minimum

Robert W. Merry — Stop poking the Russian bear

New sanctions are coming, whether he wants them or not. NATO expansion and the West’s Ukraine meddling will continue. Encirclement is firmly in place.
It’s difficult to envision where this could lead, short of actual hostilities. Russia’s fundamental national interests, the ones Trump was prepared to accept, will almost certainly render such hostilities inevitable.
The National Interest
Stop poking the Russian bear
Robert W. Merry | Editor of the American Conservative

Kenneth L. Pearce — George Berkeley and the power of words

John Locke's epistemological realism versus George Berkeley's linguistic constructivism. Subsequent findings favor Berkeley's view. Human's participate in the construct of their reality through the way they express themselves about it and their relationship to it.

Short and worth a read.

OUPblog — Oxford University Press's Academic Insights for the Thinking World
George Berkeley and the power of words
Kenneth L. Pearce | Ussher Assistant Professor in Berkeley Studies (Early Modern Philosophy) in Trinity College Dublin

Sam Kriss — The Myth of the Alt-Left

After Trump announced the existence of the alt-left on live TV, media outlets scurried to tell the world exactly where the term emerged from. CBS explains that it “came out of the conservative media.” CNN, quoting a director at the Anti-Defamation League, describes it as a “made-up term used by people on the right.” Heavy.com writes that “the term ‘alt-left’ began being used by the online conservative media in 2016 before it slowly migrated to more mainstream conservative voices, like Fox News’ Sean Hannity.” (Hannity, who repeatedly uses the term on his TV show, seems to be getting widespread credit.) The British Telegraph newspaper, meanwhile, flatters the president with a power of logodaedaly he definitely doesn’t have, claiming the phrase was “coined by Mr Trump” himself.

None of these explanations is really true. The term “alt-left” was probably simultaneously invented hundreds or thousands of times, always bearing a slightly different meaning depending on its inventor. But up until now, the people who most forcefully pushed the idea of an alt-left weren’t Nazis or 4chan posters or anyone else in the orbit of Trump and pro-Trump Republicans trying to invent a mythical opposite to the alt-right. The alt-left is, first and foremost, a figment of centrist Democrats....
The invention of the alt-left allowed centrist liberals to pretend that something entirely different was going on: They were sandwiched between two sets of frothing fanatics who secretly had a lot in common with each other. It established their particular brand of liberalism, possibly encompassing a few “moderate Republicans,” as the only reasonable ground, besieged by alts....
The Myth of the Alt-Left
Sam Kriss

Adam Garrie — Trump and American Left

Donald Trump’s rhetoric, promises and even at times his policies (when they see the light of day) are as far from the neo-con/neo-liberal status quo of contemporary American policies as one could have deemed imaginable for a US President, not long ago.
When one analyses his policy rhetoric, Donald Trump remains something of a Robert Taft style conservative. The defining characteristics of such an ethos is an opposition to foreign interventions and the bloated ‘moral’ (aka immoral) justifications for such wars, a strong sense of tradition and patriotism, a robust defence of both free speech and the American conception of low-church Christianity and perhaps most interestingly “a touch of socialism”....
When asked, “What do you think needs to be done to overcome the racial divides in this country?”, Trump replied,
“Well I really think jobs can have a big impact. I think if we continue to create jobs — over a million, substantially more than a million — and you can see just the other day, the car companies coming in with fox- you know, FoxConn. I think if we continue to create jobs at levels that I'm- that I'm creating jobs, I think that's going to have a tremendous impact, positive impact on race relations”.
Trump continued, adding,
“And the other thing, very important, I believe wages will start going up. They haven't gone up for a long time. I believe wages now, because the economy is doing so well with respect to employment and unemployment, I believe wages will start to go up. I think that will have a tremendously positive impact on race relations. Thank you”.
The very notion that relations between social sects can be improved by material gain is a classic tenant of socialism, one which contrasted itself against the determinism of so-called reactionaries as well as against the utilitarianism of classical liberalism....
Trump and American Left
Adam Garrie

Sabena Siddiqui — Could the road from Charlottesville lead America toward civil war?

Considering all this information, it seems unlikely that the United States can remain a liberal country much longer.
The paradoxes of liberalism are coming to a head.