May the source be with you, but remember the KISS principle ;-)
Bigger doesn't imply better. Bigger often is a sign of obesity, of lost control, of overcomplexity, of cancerous
Financial Sector Induced Systemic Instability of Economy
While I believe in usefulness of capital markets, it is clear that they are double edge sword and
that banks "in a long run" tend to behave like
Mr. Capone may have something to say about danger of banks :-).That means that growth of
financial sector represents a direct threat to the stability of the society. Positive feedback loops
creates one financial crisis after another with the increasing magnitude leading up to a collapse of
financial system like happened in 1927 and 2008.
"Minsky's financial instability hypothesis depends critically on what amounts to a sociological
insight. People change their minds about taking risks. They don't make a one-time rational
judgment about debt use and stock market exposure and stick to it. Instead, they change their
minds over time. And history is quite clear about how they change their minds. The
longer the good times endure, the more people begin to see wisdom in risky strategies."
The Cost of Capitalism: Understanding Market Mayhem and Stabilizing our
Economic Future, by Robert Barbera
The flaw with Capitalism is that it creates its own positive feedback loop, snowballing to
the point where the accumulation of wealth and power hurts people — eventually even those at the
top of the food chain. ”
Banks are a clear case of market failure and their employees at the senior level have
basically become the biggest bank robbers of all time. As for basing pay on current revenues
and not profits over extended periods of time, then that is a clear case of market failure --
The banksters have been able to sell the “talent” myth to justify their outsized pay
because they are the only ones able to deliver the type of GDP growth the U.S. economy needs in
the short term, even if that kills the U.S. economy in the long term. You’ll be gone, I’ll be
Unfortunately, many countries go broke pursuing war, if not financially, then morally (are
the two different? – this post suggests otherwise).
I occurs to me that the U.S. is also in
that flock; interventions justified by grand cause built on fallacy, the alpha and omega of failure.
Is the financial apparatchik (or Nomenklatura, a term I like which, as many from the Soviet era,
succinctly describes aspects of our situation today) fated also to the trash heap, despite the
best efforts of the Man of the hour, Ben Bernanke?
Financialization is a Damocles sword hanging over the neoliberal society
While I believe in usefulness of capital markets, it is clear that they are double edge sword and
that banks "in a long run" tend to behave like
Mr. Capone may have something to say about danger of banks :-).That means that growth of financial
sector represents a direct threat to the stability of the society (Keynesianism
and the Great Recession )
Without adult supervision, as it were, a financial sector that was already inherently unstable
went wild. When the subprime assets were found to be toxic since they were based on mortgages on
which borrowers had defaulted, highly indebted or leveraged banks that had bought these now
valueless securities had little equity to repay their creditors or depositors who now came after
them. This quickly led to their bankruptcy, as in the case of Lehman Brothers, or to their being
bailed out by government, as was the case with most of the biggest banks. The finance sector
froze up, resulting in a recession—a big one—in the real economy.
Neoliberal revolution, or, as Simon Johnson called it after "quite coup" (Atlantic),
brought political power to the financial oligarchy deposed after the New Deal. Deregulation
naturally followed, with especially big role played by corrupt Clinton administration. Positive feedback loops creates one financial crisis after another with the
increasing magnitude. "Saving and loans" crisis followed by dot-com crisis of 2000, which in
turn followed by the collapse of financial system in 2008, which looks somewhat similar to what
happened in 1927. No prominent financial honcho, who was instrumental in creating "subprime
crisis" was jailed. Most remained filthy rich.
Unless the society puts severe limits on their actions like was done during New Deal,
financial firms successfully
subvert the regulation mechanisms and take the society hostage. But periodic purges with relocation
of the most active promoters of "freedom for banks" (aka free market fundamentalism) under the smoke
screen of "free market" promotion does not solve the problem of positive feedback loops that banks create
by mere existence. That's difficult to do while neoliberal ideology and related neoclassical economy
dominates the society thinking (via brainwashing), with universities playing especially negative
role -- most of economics departments are captured by neoliberals who censor any heretics. So year
after year brainwashing students enter the society without understanding real dangers that
neoliberalism brought for them. Including lack of meaningful employment opportunities.
Of course, most of high level officers of leading finance institutions which caused the crisis of
2008-2009 as a psychological type are as close to gangsters as one can get. But there is
something in their actions that does not depend on individual traits (although many of them
definitely can be classified as psychopaths), and is more related to their social position.
This situation is somewhat similar to Bolsheviks coup d'état of 1917 which resulted in capturing
Russia by this ideological sect. And in this sense quite coupe of 1980 is also irreversible in
the same sense as Bolsheviks revolution was irreversible: the "occupation" of the country by a
fanatical sect lasts until the population rejects the ideology with its (now apparent) utopian
Bolshevism which lasted
75 years, spend in such zombie state the last two decades (if we assume 1991 as the year of death of
Bolshevism, its ideology was dead much earlier -- the grave flaws in it were visible from late 60th,
if not after the WWII). But only when their ideology was destroyed both by inability to raise the standard of living
of the population and by the growing neoliberal ideology as an alternative (and a new, more powerful then Marxism high-demand
cult) Bolsheviks started to lose the grip on their power in the country. As a result Bolsheviks lost the power
only in 1991, or more correctly switched camps and privatized the country. If not inaptness of their
last General Secretary, they probably could last more. In any case after the ideology collapsed, the
USSR disintegrated (or more correctly turn by national elites, each of which wanted their peace of
The sad truth is that the mere growth of financial sector creates additional positive feedback loops
and increases structural instability within both the financial sector itself and the society at large.
Dynamic systems with strong positive feedback loops not compensated by negative feedback loops are unstable.
As a result banks and other financial institution periodically generate a deep, devastating crisis.
This is the meaning of famous Hyman Minsky phrase "stability is destabilizing".
In other words, financial apparatchiks (or Financial Nomenklatura, a term from the Soviet era, which
succinctly describes aspects of our situation today) drive the country off the cliff because they do
not have any countervailing forces, by the strength of their political influence and unsaturable
greed. Although the following
analogy in weaker then analogy with dynamic systems with positive feedback loops, outsized financial
sector can be viewed in biological terms as cancer.
known medically as a malignantneoplasm, is a broad group of
diseases involving unregulated
cell growth. In cancer,
cells divide and grow
uncontrollably, forming malignant tumors, and invading nearby parts of the body. The cancer may also
spread to more distant parts
of the body through the lymphatic system
or bloodstream. Not all tumors
are cancerous; benign tumors
do not invade neighboring tissues and do not spread throughout the body. There are over 200 different
known cancers that affect humans.
Like certain types of cancer they depend of weakening "tumor suppressor genes" (via "Quiet
coup" mechanism of acquiring dominant political power) which allow then to engage in uncontrolled growth, destroying
healthy cells (and first of all local manufacturing).
The other suspicion is the unchecked financialization always goes too far and the last N
percent of financial activity absorbs much more resources (especially intellectual resources) and
creates more potential instability than its additional efficiency-benefits (often zero or negative) can justify. It is hard
to imagine that a Hedge Fund Operator of the Year does anything that is even remotely socially useful to justify his
enormous (and lightly taxed) compensation. It is pure wealth redistribution up based on political domination
of financial oligarchy. Significant vulnerabilities within the shadow banking system and
derivatives are plain vanilla socially destructive. Yet they persist due to inevitable political power
grab by financial oligarchy (Quiet coup).
Again, I would like to stress that this problem of the oversized financial sector which produces
one devastating crisis after another
is closely related to the problem of a positive feedback loops. And the society in which banks are given
free hand inevitably degrades into "socialism for banks" or "casino
capitalism" -- a type of
neoliberalism with huge
inequality and huge criminality of top banking officers.
Whether we can do without private banks is unclear, but there is sound evidence that unlike growth
of manufacturing, private financial sector growth is dangerous for the society health and perverts society
goals. Like cult groups the financial world does a terrific job of "shunning" the principled individuals
and suppressing dissent (by capturing and cultivating neoliberal stooges in all major university
departments and press),
so self-destructing tendencies after they arise can't be stopped within the framework of
neoliberalism. In a way financial
firm is like sociopath inevitable produces its trail of victims (and sociopaths might be useful in battles exactly due
to the qualities such as ability to remain cool in dangerous situation, that make them dangerous in the normal course of events).
This tendency of society with unregulated or lightly regulated financial sector toward self-destruction
was first formulated as "Minsky instability hypothesis" --
and outstanding intellectual achievement of American economic Hyman Minsky (September 23, 1919 –
October 24, 1996). Who BTW was pretty much underappreciated (if not suppressed) during his lifetime because his views
were different from orthodox (and false) neoclassic economic theory which dominates US universities,
Like flat Earth theory was enforce by Catholic church before, it is fiercely enforced by an army of well paid neoliberal economics, those
Jesuits of modern era. Who prosecute heretics who question flat Earth theory even more efficiently then
their medieval counterparts; the only difference is that they do not burn the literally, only
Former Washington University in St. Louis economics professor Hyman P. Minsky had predicted the
Great Recession decades before it happened. Hyman Minsky was a real student of the Great
Depression, while Bernanke who widely is viewed as a scholar who studied the Great Depression, in
reality was a charlatan, who just tried to explain the Great Depression from the positions of
neo-classical economy. That's a big difference.
Minsky instability hypothesis ("stability is destabilizing" under capitalism) that emerged from
his analysis of the Great Depression was based on intellectual heritage of three great thinkers in
economics (my presentation is partially based on an outstanding lecture by Steve Keen Lecture 6 on Minsky, Financial
Instability, the Great Depression & the Global Financial Crisis). We can talk about
three source of influence, there authors writing of which touched the same subject from similar
positions and were the base of Hyman Minsky great advance in understanding of mechanics of
development of financial crisis under capitalism and the critical role of financial system in it
(neoclassical economics ignores the existence of financial system in its analysis):
Minsky didn't follow the conventional version of Marxism . And it was dangerous for him to
do so due to McCarthysm. Even mentioning of Marx might lead to strakism fromthe academy those years.
McCarthy and his followers in academy did not understand the difference between Marx great analysis
of capitalism and his utopian vision of the future. Impliedly this witch hunt helped to establish
hegemony of neoclassical economy in economic departments in the USA.
While Minsky did not cited Marx in his writings and did use Marx's Labor Theory of Value his
thinking was definitely influenced by Marx’s critique of finance. We now know that he read and
admired the Capital. And that not accidental due to the fact that his parents were Mensheviks -- a
suppressed after Bolshevik revolution more moderate wing of Russian Social Democratic Party that
rejected the idea of launching the socialist revolution in Russia -- in their opinion Russia
needed first to became a capitalist country and get rid of remnants of feudalism. They escaped from
Soviet Russia when Mensheviks started to be prosecuted by Bolsheviks.
And probably the main influence on Minsky was not Marx's discussion of finance in Volume I of Capital
with a "commodity" model of money, but critical remarks scattered in Volumes II & III
(which were not edited by Marx by compiled posthumously by Engels), where he was really critical of
big banks as well as Marx's earlier works (Grundrisse,
Theories of Surplus Value) where Marx was scathing about finance:
"A high rate of interest can also indicate, as it did in 1857, that the country is undermined
by the roving cavaliers of credit who can afford to pay a high interest because they pay it out
of other people's pocket* (whereby, however, they help to determine the rate of interest
for all) and meanwhile they live in grand style on anticipated profits.
The second source on which Minsky based his insights was Irving Fisher. Irving Fisher’s
reputation destroyed by wrong predictions on stock market prices. In aftermath, developed theory to
explain the crash and published it in his book "The Debt Deflation Theory of Great
Depressions". His main points are:
Neoclassical theory assumed equilibrium but any real world equilibrium will be short-lived
"New disturbances are, humanly speaking, sure to occur, so that, in actual fact, any
variable is almost always above or below the ideal equilibrium."
Theoretically... there must be—over-or under-production, over- or under-consumption,..., and
over or under everything else.
It is as absurd to assume that, for any long period of time, the variables in the economic
organization, or any part of them, will "stay put," in perfect equilibrium, as to assume that the
Atlantic Ocean can ever be without a wave." (1933:339)
According to Fisher two key disequilibrium forces that push economic into the next economic
crisis are debt and subsequent deflation
The "two dominant factors" which cause depressions are "over-indebtedness to start with and
deflation following soon after"
"Thus over-investment and over-speculation are often important; but they would have far less
serious results were they not conducted with borrowed money.
That is, over-indebtedness may lend importance to over-investment or to over-speculation. The
same is true as to over-confidence.
I fancy that over-confidence seldom does any great harm except when, as, and if, it beguiles
its victims into debt." (Fisher 1933: 341; emphasis added!)
A chain reaction when overconfidence leads to over-indebtedness: Debt liquidation leads to
Joseph Schumpeter was Joseph Schumpeter has more positive view of capitalism than the other two. He authored the theory
of creative destruction as a path by which capitalism achieves higher and higher productivity.
He capitalism as necessarily unstable, but for him this was a positive feature --
instability of capitalism the source of its creativity. His view of capitalism was highly dynamic
and somewhat resembles the view of Marx (who also thought that capitalism destroys all previous
order and create a new one):
Entrepreneurs profit by disrupting "equilibrium" of system
Finance plays essential role here by enabling entrepreneurs
To Schumpeter, entrepreneurs are people with good ideas but no money
To turn ideas into disruptive products or processes they resort to borrowing from banks
Boom caused by investment phase of entrepreneurs. New entrepreneurs undermine old or rival
products. Successful entrepreneurs repay debt, reducing money supply
In this sense the success (boom) carry the seeds of the subsequet bust because with the
success of "pioneers" draw other into thi same market and banks are more willing to finance them
seeing the success of pioneers. But when too many similar products are financed and hit the
market they create the glut and entrepreneurs who ere late to the party are unable to pay the
debts and go bankrupt desire the fact that might have superiors products (but not superior
enough). Slump caused when excessive products hit the market and there are not enough buyers.
Debt deflation follows.
Unlike Marx, who thought that the periodic crisis of overproduction is the source of
instability (as well as gradual absolute impoverishment of workers), Minsky assumed that the
key source of that instability of capitalist system is connected with the cycles of business
borrowing and fractional bank lending, when "good times" lead to excessive borrowing leading to high
leverage and overproduction and thus to eventual debt crisis (The
Alternative To Neoliberalism ):
Minsky on capitalism:
He followed Marx stating that "capitalism is inherently flawed, being prone to booms, crises
This instability is due to characteristics the financial system must possess and will
inevitably acquire, if it is to be consistent with full-blown capitalism.
Such a financial system will be capable of both generating signals that induce an accelerating
desire to invest and of financing that accelerating investment." (Minsky 1969b: 224)
“The natural starting place for analyzing the relation between debt and income is to take
an economy with a cyclical past that is now doing well.
The inherited debt reflects the history of the economy, which includes a period in the not
too distant past in which the economy did not do well.
Acceptable liability structures are based upon some margin of safety so that expected cash
flows, even in periods when the economy is not doing well, will cover contractual debt payments.
As the period over which the economy does well lengthens, two things become evident in board
rooms. Existing debts are easily validated and units that were heavily in debt prospered; it paid
to lever." (65)
It becomes apparent that the margins of safety built into debt structures were too great.
ans should be reduced...
As a result, over a period in which the economy does well, views about acceptable debt
structure change. In the dealmaking that goes on between banks, investment bankers, and businessmen,
the acceptable amount of debt to use in financing various types of activity and positions increases.
This increase in the weight of debt financing raises the market pnce of capital assets and
increases investment. As this continues the economy is transformed into a boom economy... ” (65)
This transforms a period of tranquil growth into a period of speculative excess
“Stable growth is inconsistent with the manner in which investment is determined in an economy
in which debt-financed ownership of capital assets exists, and the extent to which such debt financing
can be carried is market determined.
It follows that the fundamental instability of a capitalist economy is upward.
The tendency to transform doing well into a speculative investment boom is the basic instability
in a capitalist economy." (65)
The idea of Minsky moment is related to the fact that the fractional reserve banking periodically
causes credit collapse when the leveraged credit expansion goes into reverse. And mainstream economists
do not want to talk about the fact that increasing confidence breeds increased leverage. So financial
stability breeds instability and subsequent financial crisis. All actions to guarantee a market rise,
ultimately guarantee it's destruction because greed will always take advantage of a "sure thing" and
push it beyond reasonable boundaries. In other words, marker players are no rational and assume
that it would be foolish not to maximize leverage in a market which is going up. So the fractional
reserve banking mechanisms ultimately and ironically lead to over lending and guarantee the subsequent
crisis and the market's destruction. Stability breed instability.
That means that fractional reserve banking based economic system with private players (aka capitalism)
is inherently unstable. And first of all because fractional reserve banking is debt based. In
order to have growth it must create debt. Eventually the pyramid of debt crushes and crisis hit. When
the credit expansion fuels asset price bubbles, the dangers for the financial sector and the real economy
are substantial because this way the credit boom bubble is inflated which eventually burst. The damage
done to the economy by the bursting of credit boom bubbles is significant and long lasting.
«When credit growth fuels asset price bubbles, the dangers for the financial sector and
the real economy are much more substantial.»
So M Minsky 50 years ago and M Pettis 15 years ago (in his "The volatility machine") had it
right? Who could have imagined! :-)
«In the past decades, central banks typically have taken a hands-off approach to asset
price bubbles and credit booms.»
If only! They have been feeding credit-based asset price bubbles by at the same time weakening
regulations to push up allowed capital-leverage ratios, and boosting the quantity of credit as
high as possible, but specifically most for leveraged speculation on assets, by allowing vast-overvaluations
on those assets.
Central banks have worked hard in most Anglo-American countries to redistribute income and
wealth from "inflationary" worker incomes to "non-inflationary" rentier incomes via hyper-subsidizing
with endless cheap credit the excesses of financial speculation in driving up asset prices.
John Kay in his January 5 2010 FT column very aptly explained the systemic instability of financial
The credit crunch of 2007-08 was the third phase of a larger and longer financial crisis. The
first phase was the emerging market defaults of the 1990s. The second was the new economy boom and
bust at the turn of the century. The third was the collapse of markets for structured debt products,
which had grown so rapidly in the five years up to 2007.
The manifestation of the problem in each phase was different – first emerging markets, then
stock markets, then debt. But the mechanics were essentially the same. Financial institutions
identified a genuine economic change – the assimilation of some poor countries into the global economy,
the opportunities offered to business by new information technology, and the development of opportunities
to manage risk and maturity mismatch more effectively through markets. Competition to sell
products led to wild exaggeration of the pace and scope of these trends. The resulting herd enthusiasm
led to mispricing – particularly in asset markets, which yielded large, and largely illusory, profits,
of which a substantial fraction was paid to employees.
Eventually, at the end of each phase, reality impinged. The activities that once seemed so profitable
– funding the financial systems of emerging economies, promoting start-up internet businesses, trading
in structured debt products – turned out, in fact, to have been a source of losses. Lenders had to
make write-offs, most of the new economy stocks proved valueless and many structured products became
unmarketable. Governments, and particularly the US government, reacted on each occasion by
pumping money into the financial system in the hope of staving off wider collapse, with some degree
of success. At the end of each phase, regulators and financial institutions declared that
lessons had been learnt. While measures were implemented which, if they had been introduced five
years earlier, might have prevented the most recent crisis from taking the particular form it did,
these responses addressed the particular problem that had just occurred, rather than the underlying
generic problems of skewed incentives and dysfunctional institutional structures.
The public support of markets provided on each occasion the fuel needed to stoke the next crisis.
Each boom and bust is larger than the last. Since the alleviating action is also larger, the pattern
is one of cycles of increasing amplitude.
I do not know what the epicenter of the next crisis will be, except that it is unlikely to involve
structured debt products. I do know that unless human nature changes or there is fundamental change
in the structure of the financial services industry – equally improbable – there will be another
manifestation once again based on naive extrapolation and collective magical thinking. The recent
crisis taxed to the full – the word tax is used deliberately – the resources of world governments
and their citizens. Even if there is will to respond to the next crisis, the capacity to do so may
not be there.
The citizens of that most placid of countries, Iceland, now backed by their president, have found
a characteristically polite and restrained way of disputing an obligation to stump up large sums
of cash to pay for the arrogance and greed of other people. They are right. We should listen to them
before the same message is conveyed in much more violent form, in another place and at another time.
But it seems unlikely that we will.
We made a mistake in the closing decades of the 20th century. We removed restrictions that
had imposed functional separation on financial institutions. This led to businesses riddled
with conflicts of interest and culture, controlled by warring groups of their own senior employees.
The scale of resources such businesses commanded enabled them to wield influence to create a – for
them – virtuous circle of growing economic and political power. That mistake will not be easily remedied,
and that is why I view the new decade with great apprehension. In the name of free markets, we created
a monster that threatens to destroy the very free markets we extol.
While Hyman Minsky was the first clearly formulate the financial instability hypothesis, Keynes
also understood this dynamic pretty well. He postulated that a world with a large financial
sector and an excessive emphasis on the production of investment products creates instability both in
terms of output and prices. In other words it automatically tends to generate credit and asset bubbles.
The key driver is the fact that financial professionals generally risk other people’s money and due
to this fact have asymmetrical incentives:
They get big rewards when bets go right
They don’t have to pay when bets go wrong.
This asymmetry is not a new observation of this systemic problem. Andrew Jackson noted it in much
more polemic way long ago:
“Gentlemen, I have had men watching you for a long time and I am convinced that you have used
the funds of the bank to speculate in the breadstuffs of the country.When you won,
you divided the profits amongst you, and when you lost, you charged it to the bank. You tell
me that if I take the deposits from the bank and annul its charter, I shall ruin ten thousand families.
That may be true, gentlemen, but that is your sin! Should I let you go on, you will ruin fifty thousand
families, and that would be my sin! You are a den of vipers and thieves. I intend to rout you out,
and by the grace of the Eternal God, will rout you out.”
This asymmetrical incentives ensure that the financial system is structurally biased toward
taking on more risk than what should be taken. In other words it naturally tend to slide to
the casino model, the with omnipresent reckless gambling as the primary and the most profitable mode
of operation while an opportunities last. The only way to counter this is to throw sand into the
wheels of financial mechanism: enforce strict regulations, limit money supplies and periodically
jail too enthusiastic bankers. The latter is as important or even more important as the other two because
bankers tend to abuse "limited liability" status like no other sector.
Asset inflation over the past 10 years and the subsequent catastrophe incurred is a way classic behavior
of dynamic system with strong positive feedback loop. Such behavior does not depends of personalities
of bankers or policymakers, but is an immanent property of this class of dynamic systems. And the main
driving force here was deregulation. So its important that new regulation has safety feature which make
removal of it more complicated and requiring bigger majority like is the case with constitutional issues.
Another fact was the fact that due to perverted incentives, accounting in the banks
was fraudulent from the very beginning and it was fraudulent on purpose. Essentially accounting
in banks automatically become as bad as law enforcement permits. This is a classic case of control fraud
and from prevention standpoint is make sense to establish huge penalties for auditors, which might hurt
healthy institutions but help to ensure that the most fraudulent institution lose these bank charter
before affecting the whole system. With the anti-regulatory zeal of Bush II administration the
level of auditing became too superficial, almost non-existent. I remember perverted dances with
Sarbanes–Oxley when it
was clear from the very beginning that the real goal is not to strengthen accounting but to earn fees
and to create as much profitable red tape as possible, in perfect Soviet bureaucracy style.
Deregulation also increases systemic risk by influencing the real goals of financial
organizations. At some point of deregulation process the goal of higher remuneration for the top brass
becomes self-sustainable trend and replaces all other goals of the financial organization. This
is the essence of Martin Taylor’s, the former chief executive of Barclays, article
- Innumerate bankers were ripe for a reckoning in the Financial Times (Dec 15, 2009), which is worth
reading in its entirety:
City people have always been paid well relative to others, but megabonuses are quite new.
From my own experience, in the mid-1990s no more than four or five employees of Barclays’ then
investment bank were paid more than £1m, and no one got near £2m. Around the turn of the
millennium across the market things began to take off, and accelerated rapidly – after a pause in
2001-03 – so that exceptionally high remuneration, not just individually, but in total, was paid
out between 2004 and 2007.
Observers of financial services saw unbelievable prosperity and apparently immense value
added. Yet two years later the whole industry was bankrupt. A simple reason underlies this:
any industry that pays out in cash colossal accounting profits that are largely imaginary will go
bust quickly. Not only has the industry – and by extension societies that depend on it – been
spending money that is no longer there, it has been giving away money that it only imagined it had
in the first place. Worse, it seems to want to do it all again.
What were the sources of this imaginary wealth?
First, spreads on credit that took no account of default probabilities (bankers have been
doing this for centuries, but not on this scale).
Second, unrealised mark-to-market profits on the trading book, especially in illiquid instruments.
Third, profits conjured up by taking the net present value of streams of income stretching
into the future, on derivative issuance for example.
In the last two of these the bank was not receiving any income, merely “booking revenues”.
How could they pay this non-existent wealth out in cash to their employees? Because they had
no measure of cash flow to tell them they were idiots, and because everyone else was doing it.
Paying out 50 per cent of revenues to staff had become the rule, even when the “revenues”
did not actually consist of money.
In the next phase instability is amplified by the way governments and central banks respond to crises
caused by credit bubble: the state has powerful means to end a recession, but the policies it uses give
rise to the next phase of instability, the next bubble…. When money is virtually free – or, at least,
at 0.5 per cent – traders feel stupid if they don’t leverage up to the hilt. Thus previous bubble and
crash become a dress rehearsal for the next.
Resulting self-sustaining "boom-bust" cycle is very close how electronic systems with positive feedback
loop behave and cannot be explained by neo-classical macroeconomic models. Like with electronic
devices the financial institution in this mode are unable to provide the services that are needed.
Modern finance, he argued, was far from the stabilizing force that mainstream economics portrayed:
rather, it was a system that created the illusion of stability while simultaneously creating the
conditions for an inevitable and dramatic collapse.
...our whole financial system contains
the seeds of its own destruction. “Instability,” he wrote, “is an inherent and inescapable flaw of
Minsky’s vision might have been dark, but he was not a fatalist; he believed it was possible to
craft policies that could blunt the collateral damage caused by financial crises. But with a growing
number of economists eager to declare the recession over, and the crisis itself apparently behind
us, these policies may prove as discomforting as the theories that prompted them in the first place.
Indeed, as economists re-embrace Minsky’s prophetic insights, it is far from clear that they’re ready
to reckon with the full implications of what he saw.
And he understood the roots of the current credit bubble much better that neoclassical economists like
As people forget that failure is a possibility, a “euphoric economy” eventually develops, fueled
by the rise of far riskier borrowers - what [Minsky] called speculative borrowers,
those whose income would cover interest payments but not the principal; and those he called
“Ponzi borrowers,” those whose income could cover neither, and could only pay their bills
by borrowing still further.
As these latter categories grew, the overall economy would shift from a conservative but profitable
environment to a much more freewheeling system dominated by players whose survival depended not on
sound business plans, but on borrowed money and freely available credit.
Minsky’s financial instability hypothesis suggests that when optimism is high and ample
funds are available for investment, investors tend to migrate from the safe hedge end of the Minsky
spectrum to the risky speculative and Ponzi end. Indeed, in the current crisis, investors tried to raise
returns by increasing leverage and switching to financing via short-term—sometimes overnight— borrowing
late to learn?):
In the church of Friedman, inflation was the ol' devil tempting the good folk; the 1980s seemed
to prove that, let loose, it would cause untold havoc on the populace. But, as Barbera notes:
The last five major global cyclical events were the early 1990s recession - largely occasioned
by the US Savings & Loan crisis, the collapse of Japan Inc after the stock market crash of 1990,
the Asian crisis of the mid-1990s, the fabulous technology boom/bust cycle at the turn of the
millennium, and the unprecedented rise and then collapse for US residential real estate in 2007-2008.
All five episodes delivered recessions, either global or regional. In no case was there a significant
prior acceleration of wages and general prices. In each case, an investment boom and an associated
asset market ran to improbable heights and then collapsed. From 1945 to 1985, there was no recession
caused by the instability of investment prompted by financial speculation - and since 1985 there
has been no recession that has not been caused by these factors.
Thus, meet the devil in Minsky's paradise - "an investment boom and an associated asset market [that]
ran to improbable heights and then collapsed".
According the Barbera, "Minsky's financial instability hypothesis depends critically on what amounts
to a sociological insight. People change their minds about taking risks. They don't make a one-time
rational judgment about debt use and stock market exposure and stick to it. Instead, they change
their minds over time. And history is quite clear about how they change their minds. The longer the
good times endure, the more people begin to see wisdom in risky strategies."
Current economy state can be called following Paul McCulley a "stable disequilibrium" very similar
to a state a sand pile. All this pile of stocks, debt instruments, derivatives, credit
default swaps and God know corresponds to a pile of sand that is on the verse of losing stability.
Each financial player works hard to maximize their own personal outcome but the "invisible hand" effect
in adding sand to the pile that is increasing systemic instability. According to Minsky, the longer
such situation continues the more likely and violent an "avalanche".
The late Hunt Taylor wrote, in 2006:
"Let us start with what we know. First, these markets look nothing like anything I've ever encountered
before. Their stunning complexity, the staggering number of tradable instruments and their interconnectedness,
the light-speed at which information moves, the degree to which the movement of one instrument triggers
nonlinear reactions along chains of related derivatives, and the requisite level of mathematics necessary
to price them speak to the reality that we are now sailing in uncharted waters.
"... I've had 30-plus years of learning experiences in markets, all of which tell me that
technology and telecommunications will not do away with human greed and ignorance. I think
we will drive the car faster and faster until something bad happens. And I think it will come, like
a comet, from that part of the night sky where we least expect it."
Banking was once a dangerous profession. In Britain, for instance, bankers faced
“unlimited liability”--that is, if you ran a bank, and the bank couldn’t repay depositors or other
creditors, those people had the right to confiscate all your personal assets and income until you
repaid. It wasn’t until the second half of the nineteenth century that Britain established
limited liability for bank owners. From that point on, British bankers no longer assumed
much financial risk themselves.
In the United States, there was great experimentation with banking during the 1800s, but those
involved in the enterprise typically made a substantial commitment of their own capital. For
example, there was a well-established tradition of “double liability,” in which stockholders were
responsible for twice the original value of their shares in a bank. This encouraged stockholders
to carefully monitor bank executives and employees. And, in turn, it placed a lot of pressure on
those who managed banks. If they fared poorly, they typically faced personal and professional ruin.
The idea that a bank executive would retain wealth and social status in the event of a self-induced
calamity would have struck everyone--including bank executives themselves--as ludicrous.
Enter, in the early part of the twentieth century, the Federal Reserve. The Fed was founded in
1913, but discussion about whether to create a central bank had swirled for years. “No one can carefully
study the experience of the other great commercial nations,” argued Republican Senator Nelson Aldrich
in an influential 1909 speech, “without being convinced that disastrous results of recurring financial
crises have been successfully prevented by a proper organization of capital and by the adoption of
wise methods of banking and of currency”--in other words, a central bank. In November 1910, Aldrich
and a small group of top financiers met on an isolated island off the coast of Georgia. There, they
hammered out a draft plan to create a strong central bank that would be owned by banks themselves.
What these bankers essentially wanted was a bailout mechanism for the aftermath of speculative
crashes -- something more durable than J.P. Morgan, who saved the day in the Panic of 1907
but couldn’t be counted on to live forever. While they sought informal government backing and substantial
government financial support for their new venture, the bankers also wanted it to remain free of
government interference, oversight, or control.
Another destabilizing fact is so called myth of invisible hand which is closely related to the myth
about market self-regulation. The misunderstood argument of Adam Smith , the founder of modern
economics, that free markets led to efficient outcomes, “as if by an invisible hand” has played a central
role in these debates: it suggested that we could, by and large, rely on markets without government
intervention. About "invisible hand" deification, see
The Invisible Hand, Trumped by Darwin - NYTimes.com.
The moment in the financial system when the quantity of debt turns into quality and produces yet
another financial crisis is called Minsky moment. In other words the “Minsky moment” is the time
when an unsustainable financial boom turns into uncontrollable collapse of financial markets (aka
financial crash). The existence of Minsky moments is one of the most important counterargument against
financial market self-regulation. It also expose free market fundamentalists such as "former
Maestro" Greenspan as charlatans. Greenspan actually implicitly admitted that he is and that it was
he, who was the "machinist" who helped to bring the USA economic train off the rails in 2008
via deregulation and dismantling the New Deal installed safeguards.
Here how it is explained by Stephen Mihm in
Boston Globe in 2009
in the after math of 2008 financial crisis:
“Minsky” was shorthand for Hyman Minsky, an American macroeconomist who died over a decade
ago. He predicted almost exactly the kind of meltdown that recently hammered the global
economy. He believed in capitalism, but also believed it had almost a genetic weakness.
Modern finance, he argued, was far from the stabilizing force that mainstream economics
portrayed: rather, it was a system that created the illusion of stability while simultaneously
creating the conditions for an inevitable and dramatic collapse.
In other words, the one person who foresaw the crisis also believed that our whole financial system
contains the seeds of its own destruction. “Instability,” he wrote, “is an inherent and inescapable
flaw of capitalism.”
Minsky believed it was possible to craft policies that could blunt the collateral damage caused
by financial crises. As economists re-embrace Minsky’s prophetic insights, it is far from clear that
they’re ready to reckon with the full implications of what he saw.
Minsky theory was not well received due to powerful orthodoxy, born in the years after World War
II, known as the neoclassical synthesis. The older belief in a self-regulating, self-stabilizing
free market had selectively absorbed a few insights from John Maynard Keynes, the great economist
of the 1930s who wrote extensively of the ways that capitalism might fail to maintain full employment.
Most economists still believed that free-market capitalism was a fundamentally stable basis for an
economy, though thanks to Keynes, some now acknowledged that government might under certain circumstances
play a role in keeping the economy - and employment - on an even keel.
Economists like Paul Samuelson became the public face of the new establishment; he and others
at a handful of top universities became deeply influential in Washington. In theory, Minsky could
have been an academic star in this new establishment: Like Samuelson, he earned his doctorate in
economics at Harvard University, where he studied with legendary Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter,
as well as future Nobel laureate Wassily Leontief.
But Minsky was cut from different cloth than many of the other big names. The descendent of immigrants
from Minsk, in modern-day Belarus, Minsky was a red-diaper baby, the son of Menshevik socialists.
While most economists spent the 1950s and 1960s toiling over mathematical models, Minsky pursued
research on poverty, hardly the hottest subfield of economics. With long, wild, white hair, Minsky
was closer to the counterculture than to mainstream economics. He was, recalls the economist L. Randall
Wray, a former student, a “character.”
So while his colleagues from graduate school went on to win Nobel prizes and rise to the top of
academia, Minsky languished. He drifted from Brown to Berkeley and eventually to Washington University.
Indeed, many economists weren’t even aware of his work. One assessment of Minsky published in 1997
simply noted that his “work has not had a major influence in the macroeconomic discussions of the
last thirty years.”
Yet he was busy. In addition to poverty, Minsky began to delve into the field of finance, which
despite its seeming importance had no place in the theories formulated by Samuelson and others. He
also began to ask a simple, if disturbing question: “Can ‘it’ happen again?” - where “it” was, like
Harry Potter’s nemesis Voldemort, the thing that could not be named: the Great Depression.
In his writings, Minsky looked to his intellectual hero, Keynes, arguably the greatest economist
of the 20th century. But where most economists drew a single, simplistic lesson from Keynes - that
government could step in and micromanage the economy, smooth out the business cycle, and keep things
on an even keel - Minsky had no interest in what he and a handful of other dissident economists came
to call “bastard Keynesianism.”
Instead, Minsky drew his own, far darker, lessons from Keynes’s landmark writings, which dealt
not only with the problem of unemployment, but with money and banking. Although Keynes had never
stated this explicitly, Minsky argued that Keynes’s collective work amounted to a powerful argument
that capitalism was by its very nature unstable and prone to collapse. Far from trending toward some
magical state of equilibrium, capitalism would inevitably do the opposite. It would lurch over a
This insight bore the stamp of his advisor Joseph Schumpeter, the noted Austrian economist now
famous for documenting capitalism’s ceaseless process of “creative destruction.” But Minsky spent
more time thinking about destruction than creation. In doing so, he formulated an intriguing theory:
not only was capitalism prone to collapse, he argued, it was precisely its periods of economic stability
that would set the stage for monumental crises.
Minsky called his idea the “Financial Instability Hypothesis.” In the wake of a depression, he
noted, financial institutions are extraordinarily conservative, as are businesses. With the borrowers
and the lenders who fuel the economy all steering clear of high-risk deals, things go smoothly: loans
are almost always paid on time, businesses generally succeed, and everyone does well. That success,
however, inevitably encourages borrowers and lenders to take on more risk in the reasonable hope
of making more money. As Minsky observed, “Success breeds a disregard of the possibility of failure.”
As people forget that failure is a possibility, a “euphoric economy” eventually develops, fueled
by the rise of far riskier borrowers - what he called speculative borrowers, those whose income would
cover interest payments but not the principal; and those he called “Ponzi borrowers,” those whose
income could cover neither, and could only pay their bills by borrowing still further. As these latter
categories grew, the overall economy would shift from a conservative but profitable environment to
a much more freewheeling system dominated by players whose survival depended not on sound business
plans, but on borrowed money and freely available credit.
Once that kind of economy had developed, any panic could wreck the market. The failure of a single
firm, for example, or the revelation of a staggering fraud could trigger fear and a sudden, economy-wide
attempt to shed debt. This watershed moment - what was later dubbed the “Minsky moment” - would create
an environment deeply inhospitable to all borrowers. The speculators and Ponzi borrowers would collapse
first, as they lost access to the credit they needed to survive. Even the more stable players might
find themselves unable to pay their debt without selling off assets; their forced sales would send
asset prices spiraling downward, and inevitably, the entire rickety financial edifice would start
to collapse. Businesses would falter, and the crisis would spill over to the “real” economy that
depended on the now-collapsing financial system.
From the 1960s onward, Minsky elaborated on this hypothesis. At the time he believed that this
shift was already underway: postwar stability, financial innovation, and the receding memory of the
Great Depression were gradually setting the stage for a crisis of epic proportions. Most of what
he had to say fell on deaf ears. The 1960s were an era of solid growth, and although the economic
stagnation of the 1970s was a blow to mainstream neo-Keynesian economics, it did not send policymakers
scurrying to Minsky. Instead, a new free market fundamentalism took root: government was the problem,
not the solution.
Moreover, the new dogma coincided with a remarkable era of stability. The period from the late
1980s onward has been dubbed the “Great Moderation,” a time of shallow recessions and great resilience
among most major industrial economies. Things had never been more stable. The likelihood that “it”
could happen again now seemed laughable.
Yet throughout this period, the financial system - not the economy, but finance as an industry
- was growing by leaps and bounds. Minsky spent the last years of his life, in the early 1990s, warning
of the dangers of securitization and other forms of financial innovation, but few economists listened.
Nor did they pay attention to consumers’ and companies’ growing dependence on debt, and the growing
use of leverage within the financial system.
By the end of the 20th century, the financial system that Minsky had warned about had materialized,
complete with speculative borrowers, Ponzi borrowers, and precious few of the conservative borrowers
who were the bedrock of a truly stable economy. Over decades, we really had forgotten the meaning
of risk. When storied financial firms started to fall, sending shockwaves through the “real” economy,
his predictions started to look a lot like a road map.
“This wasn’t a Minsky moment,” explains Randall Wray. “It was a Minsky half-century.”
Minsky is now all the rage. A year ago, an influential Financial Times columnist confided to readers
that rereading Minsky’s 1986 “masterpiece” - “Stabilizing an Unstable Economy” - “helped clear my
mind on this crisis.” Others joined the chorus. Earlier this year, two economic heavyweights - Paul
Krugman and Brad DeLong - both tipped their hats to him in public forums. Indeed, the Nobel Prize-winning
Krugman titled one of the Robbins lectures at the London School of Economics “The Night They Re-read
Today most economists, it’s safe to say, are probably reading Minsky for the first time, trying
to fit his unconventional insights into the theoretical scaffolding of their profession. If Minsky
were alive today, he would no doubt applaud this belated acknowledgment, even if it has come at a
terrible cost. As he once wryly observed, “There is nothing wrong with macroeconomics that another
depression [won’t] cure.”
But does Minsky’s work offer us any practical help? If capitalism is inherently self-destructive
and unstable - never mind that it produces inequality and unemployment, as Keynes had observed -
After spending his life warning of the perils of the complacency that comes with stability - and
having it fall on deaf ears - Minsky was understandably pessimistic about the ability to short-circuit
the tragic cycle of boom and bust. But he did believe that much could be done to ameliorate the damage.
To prevent the Minsky moment from becoming a national calamity, part of his solution (which was
shared with other economists) was to have the Federal Reserve - what he liked to call the “Big Bank”
- step into the breach and act as a lender of last resort to firms under siege. By throwing lines
of liquidity to foundering firms, the Federal Reserve could break the cycle and stabilize the financial
system. It failed to do so during the Great Depression, when it stood by and let a banking crisis
spiral out of control. This time, under the leadership of Ben Bernanke - like Minsky, a scholar of
the Depression - it took a very different approach, becoming a lender of last resort to everything
from hedge funds to investment banks to money market funds.
Minsky’s other solution, however, was considerably more radical and less palatable politically.
The preferred mainstream tactic for pulling the economy out of a crisis was - and is - based on the
Keynesian notion of “priming the pump” by sending money that will employ lots of high-skilled, unionized
labor - by building a new high-speed train line, for example.
Minsky, however, argued for a “bubble-up” approach, sending money to the poor and unskilled
first. The government - or what he liked to call “Big Government” - should become the “employer of
last resort,” he said, offering a job to anyone who wanted one at a set minimum wage. It
would be paid to workers who would supply child care, clean streets, and provide services that would
give taxpayers a visible return on their dollars. In being available to everyone, it would be even
more ambitious than the New Deal, sharply reducing the welfare rolls by guaranteeing a job for anyone
who was able to work. Such a program would not only help the poor and unskilled, he believed, but
would put a floor beneath everyone else’s wages too, preventing salaries of more skilled workers
from falling too precipitously, and sending benefits up the socioeconomic ladder.
While economists may be acknowledging some of Minsky’s points on financial instability, it’s safe
to say that even liberal policymakers are still a long way from thinking about such an expanded role
for the American government. If nothing else, an expensive full-employment program would veer far
too close to socialism for the comfort of politicians. For his part, Wray thinks that the critics
are apt to misunderstand Minsky. “He saw these ideas as perfectly consistent with capitalism,” says
Wray. “They would make capitalism better.”
But not perfect. Indeed, if there’s anything to be drawn from Minsky’s collected work, it’s that
perfection, like stability and equilibrium, are mirages. Minsky did not share his profession’s quaint
belief that everything could be reduced to a tidy model, or a pat theory. His was a kind of existential
economics: capitalism, like life itself, is difficult, even tragic. “There is no simple answer to
the problems of our capitalism,” wrote Minsky. “There is no solution that can be transformed into
a catchy phrase and carried on banners.”
It’s a sentiment that may limit the extent to which Minsky becomes part of any new orthodoxy.
But that’s probably how he would have preferred it, believes liberal economist James Galbraith. “I
think he would resist being domesticated,” says Galbraith. “He spent his career in professional isolation.”
The positive feedback loop in inherent the environment dominated by large transnationals
which funnel their excess cash into the financial system to speculate on asset appreciation.
As analysis in "The
Endless Crisis" suggests ( updating the classic 1960s analysis of the U.S. economy given by Paul
Sweezy and Paul Baran in "Monopoly Capital.") that the global economy is controlled by large
oligopolistic firms. Which boost their profits by lowering their costs and suppressing wages(on global
scale), using computerization, automation and relocating production to cheap-labor countries such
as China. Wage suppression in turn created permanent weak global demand. Which in turn dry
ups investment opportunities in expansion of existing manufacturing facilities. That forces transnationals
to funnel their excess cash into the financial system to speculate on asset appreciation. As
a result we have "permanent recession" punctuated by boom and bust cycles in financial markets.
Nature of leverage is such that it always represent a positive feedback loop. And leverage
is the essence of
banking operations. In the absence of negative control loops in a form of regulation,
purges, exiles, etc, financial system eventually loses stability which demonstrate itself in financial
crisis. Deep financial crisis often are followed by stagnation and can turn into social crisis.
The economy finds itself in a "stagnation-financialization trap" in which the only way to stimulate
growth is through the financialization process which leads to the next bubble and the next financial
crisis. Policy makers in Western countries are ready and willing to lead the world off this
cliff: "Restoring the conditions for finance-led expansion has now become the immediate object of
economic policy in the face of a persistently stagnation-prone real economy."(Foster and McChesney,
p 47). The authors add, "Not only have financial crises become endemic, they have also been growing
in scale and global impact." (Foster and McChesney, 43)
It is very difficult to gain a greater understanding of the broad social forces at play that
are shaping the financial sector, but self-destructing tendencies of the latter can be established
beyond reasonable doubt. And the problem here is not with people, although, again, I would
like to stress that a lot of financial actors are as close to psychopaths/sociopaths as one
can get. But people are better then institutions as Prince Kropotkin once remarked. The problem
is with reshaping of institutions via weakening of regulations (up to the total absence of thereof).
Regulations represent genome that guides growth and proliferation of organizational entities much
like cells in human organism. Bad genome creates cancer cells that kills the host. This
analogy with financial sector converting into cancer under a weak regulatory regime is less superficial
that one might think from the first sight. Some see the cycle in which financial sector undermines
economy the following way:
Boost Phase of Credit Expansion. Banks became dominant political force and start to
dictate the government policy.
Deregulation. Banks create for the themselves the "most favorable entity" regime including
access to government funds and taxation. Here revolving door greatly helps (see
Corruption of Regulators)
Overextended Credit Expansion and Over Capacity (dot-com bubble)
Growing Malinvestment ( there are no alternatives and one burst bubble is simply replaced
by the next. For example, dot-com bubble with the housing bubble in the case of the USA)
Impaired Debt and Policy Decisions, such as bailout of TBTF at taxpayer expense and
great cost for the economy. Please note that at this point banks have total political control,
so they essentially bail themselves out at the expense of the society.
Stalled Consumption due to shrinking of middle class and high structural unemployment.
The growing bills are passed on plebs. Cheap Money are Offered as the only Panacea Available.
Shrinking Loans and another round of Bank Speculation, this time in natural resources.
Search for Yield from Shrinking Pool of Productive Assets. Increasingly speculative
investments with high risk
Stagnation - Over-indebted economy, massive overcapacity with limited growth.
The growth of nationalism and protectionism (ref. 1920's -> 1930's). Military Keynesianism.
Oligarchy don't hesitate to sacrifice millions of plebeians in the subsequent wars that always
In financial markets, socially-responsible, rational behavior isn’t optimal. That makes
reckless, self and society endangering behavior not a deviation, but a norm. That makes finance a
close relative to organized crime. In this respect Jefferson famous quote "I believe that banking
institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies" is really prophetic.
Instability is an immanent feature of dynamic systems with positive feedback loops. Financial
sector introduces a dangerous positive feedback loop into economy precipitating bubbles and subsequent
crisis. Despite artful packaging, the banking industry game is very simple, namely, they
take outsized, leveraged risks and when they work out, pay themselves handsome rewards, and when
they don’t, dump them on the taxpayer. That's why asJohn Kenneth Galbraith aptly noted "Finance
is the Achilles' heel of capitalism." While there are multiple levels and multiple meaning
on each level of this statement, instability of dynamic systems with positive feedback
loops is a fundamental property of such systems and it cannot be changed by any superficial
measures not related to the strength of feedback loop.The "inherently procyclical"
nature of the financial systemimplies thatthat perceptions of value and risk develop in parallel. Bankers always suffer from a blindness
to future dangers that are intrinsic to the system because that stand in a way of getting outsized
profits. The better the economy is doing, the higher the ratings issued by the rating agencies,
the laxer the guidelines for approving credit, the easier it becomes to borrow money and the greater
the willingness to assume risk.
Wall Street execs have been whining for two years that to reduce pay incentives and bonuses
would cost the firms their best talent. The government’s response should be YES! That’s precisely
the idea. Finance was once a means to an end: the growth of the real economy. Banking once served
industry and services. Now finance has become the end, and the real economy is subservient
to financial services (it’s no surprise that after the crisis, over-the-counter derivatives
trading quickly climbed back up to more than $600 trillion). “At some point in our recent past,
finance lost contact with its raison d’être,” European Central Bank chief Jean Claude Trichet
said earlier this year. “Finance developed a life of its own…Finance became self-referential.”
Computers brought innovations into financial markets, but at the same time greatly strengthened
and enhanced positive feedback loops inherent in financial sector. In other words
they make financial players much more dangerous for society then before. Our present system
could not exist without Web-based brokers, indexes, CDO’s, tranches, MERS, high speed trading. Computers
also have allowed dramatic increase of complexity, which often is used to hide the most dangerous
and the most reckless behavior of financial players. Computers are become an integral part of the
feedback and add gain (amplification) to the loop. The gain from computers is not bad by itself but
the trend to remove all controls or attenuations while adding this gain is bound to cause instability.
HFT seems to me one of the more obvious and stupid examples.
Complexity and luck of transparency are central to financial services firm rent seeking.
Those opportunities dramatically increases with computerization of finance and invention of complex
financial instruments. It is interesting that other industries can be allowed to teeter and
fall - steel, railroads, automobiles - but banks are considered sacrosanct. If they are, then
they should be public utilities, but good luck with this idea in captured Congress.
Megabanks automatically become an instrument for acquiring and keeping political influence
for its management ("silent coup"). Financial sector became viewed by the elite as a
solution to stagnation of industrial production and the way to fend of international competitors
playing of the US role of suppliers of global currency. As a result financial sector became a formidable
political force. Like senator Durbin put it:
And the banks -- hard to believe in a time when we're facing a banking crisis that many of
the banks created -- are still the most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill. And they frankly own the
That compensates their inefficiency in internal market. Investment banks understand pretty well
that the best investment with highest return is an investment in political capital.
Saving oversized banks, however, may ruin a country’s public finances (Gros
and Micossi 2008). Take the example of Ireland; this country provided extensive financial
support to its large banks and subsequently had to seek financial assistance from the EU and the
IMF in 2010. The public finance risks posed by systemically large banks suggest that such banks
should be reduced in size.
Further evidence against big banks can be found from studies on banking technologies. Berger
and Mester (1997) estimate the returns to scale in US banking using data from the 1990s, to find
that a bank’s optimal size, consistent with lowest average costs, would be for a bank with around
$25 billion in assets. Amel et al. (2004) similarly report that commercial banks in North
America with assets in excess of $50 billion have higher operating costs than smaller banks. These
findings together suggest that today’s large banks, with assets in some instances exceeding $
1 trillion, are well beyond the technologically optimal scale.
Flawed incentives. The relationship between the rating agencies and big banks is a perfect
case study of flawed incentives and positive feedback loop within financial sector. Agencies
were unduly influenced (aka "were puppets of") by the institutions whose products they were grading.
Financial markets never play a purely passive role; they seek a political role and always
try to actively affect so-called fundamentals they are supposed to reflect. Their lobbying
efforts and regulatory capture are part of positive feedback loop that increases risks and
instability of the financial system. They tend to convert economy into what is using analogy
with military industrial complex can be called the crony capitalist financial-regulatory complex.That means that the necessary contraction of hypertrophied financial sector requires difficult
political changes which captured political establishment is unable to pursue on their own, so changes
often come packaged with violence. As Soros stated:
"These two functions that financial markets perform work in opposite directions. In
the passive or cognitive function, the fundamentals are supposed to determine market prices. In
the active or manipulative function market, prices find ways of influencing the fundamentals.
When both functions operate at the same time, they interfere with each other. The supposedly independent
variable of one function is the dependent variable of the other, so that neither function has
a truly independent variable. As a result, neither market prices nor the underlying reality is
fully determined. Both suffer from an element of uncertainty that cannot be quantified.
I call the interaction between the two functions reflexivity. Frank Knight recognized
and explicated this element of unquantifiable uncertainty in a book published in 1921,
but the Efficient Market Hypothesis and Rational Expectation Theory have deliberately ignored
it. That is what made them so misleading."
The Fiat-based currencies has additional built-in instability risks in comparison with gold
based currencies. This is not to say that gold based currencies are better. But the
ability of the US to run record current-account deficits over the past several decades is one such
effect, the effect impossible in gold standard currency environment and the US political elite (Republican
and Democrats alike) became increasingly comfortable with overconsumption. (The
World’s Financial System Has Become Unstable):
Leading Bush administration officials used to talk of the US current-account deficit being
a “gift” to the outside world. But, honestly, the US has been overconsuming – living far beyond
its means – for the past decade. The idea that tax cuts would lead to productivity gains and would
pay for themselves (and fix the budget) has proved entirely illusory. ...
[T]he net flow of capital is from emerging markets to the US – this is what it means to have
current-account surpluses in emerging markets and a deficit in the US. But the gross flow of capital
is from emerging market to emerging market, through big banks now implicitly backed by the state
in both the US and Europe. From the perspective of international investors, banks that are “too
big to fail” are the perfect places to park their reserves – as long as the sovereign in question
remains solvent. But what will these banks do with the funds?
When a similar issued emerged in the 1970’s – the so-called “recycling of oil surpluses” –
banks in Western financial centers extended loans to Latin America, communist Poland, and communist
Romania. That was not a good idea, as it led to a massive (for the time) debt crisis in 1982.
We are now heading for something similar, but on a larger scale. The banks and other financial
players have every incentive to load up on risk as we head into the cycle; they get the upside
(Wall Street compensation this year is set to break records again) and the downside goes to taxpayers.
Financial deregulation logically leads to over-trading and under-investment creating bubbles
and converting the economy into casino capitalism. The recent the ‘flash crash’ as a clear example
of the bubble and subsequent fragility such over-trading can create. Excessive trading in securities
increases instability of the economic system and creates perverted incentives for many economic actors.
The effect is similar to how drugs and alcohol chemically alter the personality, increasing the value
of instant gratification. As Hyman Minsky noted:
“In a world of businessmen and financial intermediaries who aggressively seek profit, innovators
will always outpace regulators; the authorities cannot prevent changes in the structure of portfolios
from occurring. What they can do is keep the asset-equity ratio of banks within bounds by setting
equity-absorption ratios for various types of assets. If the authorities constrain banks and are
aware of the activities of fringe banks and other financial institutions, they are in a better
position to attenuate the disruptive expansionary tendencies of our economy.”
-- Hyman Minsky, 1986
Growth of inequality connected with emergence of hypertrophied financial sector is another
positive feedback loop. Outsized pay in financial sector attracts talent and this talent
is used for destructive (or at least non-constructive) purposes. This is the situation similar to
the poor countries problem with mafia. What is so destabilizing isn’t just the high guaranteed pay
if you can break in (even though that is a huge part of it) but the allure of obscene sums of money
if you can make it to the top.
The share of US national income going to the top 1 per cent of the income distribution has risen
from 15 to 25 per cent over the past decade, mostly because of the growth in size and profitability
of the financial sector. This payments to the top percentile is a tax paid by the population (similar
to what population paid to royalty and church in middle ages) as a whole for the questionable
benefits of living in the casino capitalism economy. While the key to growth of inequality was financial
sector it also complemented by several additional trends:
Dramatic increase of renumeration of top management in all types of companies : by
increasing number of sociopath in higher echelons of financial institutions and second by destroying
morale of the firm which makes reckless moves more probable.
Due to regulatory capture. Concentrated wealth makes it easier to buy deregulation
to free itself up even more. At the same time concentrated wealth of financial sector finds fewer
productive investment outlets and naturally migrates into destructive speculation, including creating
huge speculative global capital flows. A positive feedback loop in which increase of income inequality
increase "financization" of the economy looks like:
Increase of income inequality ->
Inadequate effective demand in non-financial economy ->
Inadequate investment opportunities in non-financial economy ->
Investments flowing into parasitic financial “creativity”...
Regulatory capture, especially complete capture of the Fed (with NY Fed widely considered
to be a branch of Goldman Sachs) and SEC nullifies enforcement and creates another positive
feedback loop. "Revolving doors" provide an excellent opportunity to buy influence without overt
corruption. One recent example is Peter Orzag accepting position in Citi (Why
Citigroup) And that means that while on the job ambitious people might try to avoid to aggravate
banks. But without strong regulatory oversight banks very quickly convert themselves into wonder
machines that provides astronomic returns to brass and selected employees, high returns to
creditors, while at the end of each cycle causing huge losses to taxpayers. Banks must keep up
with their competitors, and if one does some wonder trick with somebody else money, they all must
do it to stay in business. That is why regulation is so vital in this highly competitive sector.
One cannot be virtuous as a commercial entity with obligations to shareholders and customers under
brothel rules. That why Greenspan
as an apostle of deregulation was so destructive for the US economy. This is another positive feedback
loop that feeds on itself. In search of profits which became more scares as financization takes life
out of real economy, financial firms are prone to subvert safeguards and endanger the very society
in which they operate ("financial terrorism effect". Wealth permits financial sector
to remove "sand in the wheels": vital for stability negative feedback loops in form of regulation
and, what is actually more important, strict law enforcement of existing regulations. Here
is a quote from Yves Smith post
Should the Fed Be Independent-
But there has been another thread mixed in with this: resentment at the Fed salvaging the banking
industry, with contingent and real costs, in the form of higher inflation, per
Alford’s and Leijonhufvud’s analysis. Now that many of those actions may indeed have been
the best among a set of bad choices (although I suspect economic historians will conclude the
Fed cut rates too far too fast). However, the big issue is that they involved consequences of
such magnitude that they should not have been left to the Fed. I was amazed, and was not alone,
when Congress did not dress down the Fed in its hearings on the Bear rescue for the central bank’s
unauthorized encroachment into fiscal action (ie., if any of the $29 billion in liabilities assumed
by the Fed in that rescue comes a cropper, the cost comes from the public purse). So the frustration
isn’t merely about outcomes, it’s about process, about the sense of disenfranchisement. And that
will only get worse as this crisis grinds along.
The proliferation of speculative side bets in the form of naked credit default swaps and other
derivatives can have significant negative effects on economic fundamentals such as the terms of financing,
the patterns of project selection, and the incidence of corporate and sovereign default. The
existence of zero-sum side bets on default has major economic repercussions. It has strangulating
effect starving real economy of funds as investors who are optimistic about particular company or
state instead of funding it sell protection. This diverts their capital away from potential borrowers
and channels it into collateral to support speculative positions. Naked CDSs are insurance policies
bought against some other persons property. Such as, I buy a policy against your house. Insurance
companies do not write such policies because I might decide to burn your house down. But even if
we assume that there will be no intentional damage to other’s property, we still are encouraging
diverting of funds. See
Guest Post Economic consequences of speculative side bets – The case of naked CDS « naked capitalism.
They also can create artificial demand. Conservative analyses indicates that in the peak years of
2006 and early 2007, Magnetar’s program drove the demand
for roughly 35% of subprime bonds. That fact refutes the claim that all derivatives, futures,
options and swaps are zero sum game: one person loss is another person gain.
By its nature investment banking is constantly tempted to move into grey zone and then slide
into criminal behavior. There is a profound similarity between investment bankers
and hedge funds "Masters of the Universe" and hackers. Investment bankers play a similar role in
financial system as hackers play in computer networks: they are engaged in systemic effort to undermine
existing laws and security controls. But there one important difference: investment bankers are often
obscenely rich and can buy themselves freedom after being caught. That's why criminal law should
consider financial sector crimes similar to the organized crime. "Algorithmic Terrorism”
( HFT) is one example (Nanex
- Market Crop Circle Of The Day). Nobody went to jail (yet). When you see the kind of losses
we have seen on AAA rated securities for example it is almost certainly there was there was some
kind of fraud involved. In fact growth of investment banking tend to be accompanied by large scale
fraud so this would not be unusual.
Tremendous political power that finance sector acquired due to outsized profits is channeled
toward lobbing that is socially and economically disruptive. Externalities produced by
unregulated banking sector are dangerous for society, but at the same time political power of the
financial sector created a lock in which prevents any meaningful correction. Classic Greek Tragedy
necessary follows. Regulators – and their superiors in the legislative and executive branches
– were captured both intellectually and via implicit form of corruption known as revolving doors.
"To a surprising degree, economic misfortune has correlated with low top marginal tax rates. The
top marginal tax rate at the time of the 1929 crash was 24%. After his election, Roosevelt promptly
raised it to 63% and then to 94%, and one could easily make the case that it was this rise, rather
than financial regulation, that played the primary — though certainly not the only — role in curbing
abuses by attacking greed at its source, without, by the way, damaging the economy. Roosevelt essentially
taxed away big money."
Disincentivizing greed - Page 3 - Los Angeles Times
For financial sector stability is destabilizing. Minsky financial instability hypothesis
can be simplified to the general statement that in any economy with large financial sectorstability is destabilizing as financial firms try to exploit the stable regime to extract
additional profit by increasing leverage and making excessively risky bets which serves as a tax
on real economy, strangulating it and creating the necessity for even more risky bets and higher
leverage. In the latter case large firms also implicitly transfer their risks to larger society (via
The cost of financial intermediation is ultimately a tax on commerce.Outsized,
predatory financial services sector poses real danger to viable businesses, to business expansion,
and to general economic productivity. Large part of activity of financial sector, especially
connected with securitized products, futures, options and derivatives is parasitic: "Banks tend to
make profits – or more accurately, extract rents – out of all proportion to any contribution they
make to the wider economy." Excessive rents weaken the real economy similar to cases
when parasite weakens the host (The
Banking Oligarchy Must Be Restrained For a Recovery to Be Sustained ). In addition to the
overhang of unindicted and undeclared fraud which is widespread due to regulatory capture, distorting
the clearing of the markets, an oversized financial sector essentially make the sum of government
tax and Wall street tax a real drag on the economy. The percentage of financial sector profits to
corporate profits recently peaked at 41%. This suggests that the scope of parasitic financial activity
is a real killer for the economy.
Weakly regulated banks tend to become classic cases of market failure and their employees
at the senior level have basically become the biggest bank robbers of all time. This tremendous
transfer of wealth is inherent in growth of financial sector. The best way to rob bank is to own
Academia serves as the Fifth column of the financial sector. The financial system can
brainwash society via control of corrupt academia in classic Lysenkoism scenario. Here is relevant
quote from The Quiet
Wall Street’s seductive power extended even (or especially) to finance and economics
professors, historically confined to the cramped offices of universities and the pursuit of Nobel
Prizes. As mathematical finance became more and more essential to practical finance, professors
increasingly took positions as consultants or partners at financial institutions. Myron Scholes
and Robert Merton, Nobel laureates both, were perhaps the most famous; they took board seats at
the hedge fund Long-Term Capital Management in 1994, before the fund famously flamed out at the
end of the decade. But many others beat similar paths. This migration gave the stamp of academic
legitimacy (and the intimidating aura of intellectual rigor) to the burgeoning world of high finance.
Reaganomics (and later Rubonomics) confused ends with means... As Stiglitz noted,
. ... a financial sector is a means to a more productive economy, not an end in itself. (Financial
a better measure of well-being). Attempt to convert the USA into new Switzerland on the
strength of dollar as a reserve currency was doomed from the beginning due to the country size constrains.
Highly leveraged economies are prone to deep and prolong crisis. "The lesson of history,
then, is that even as institutions and policy makers improve there will always be a temptation to
stretch the limits. ... If there is one common theme to the vast range of crises ... it is that excessive
debt accumulation, whether it be by the government, banks, corporations, or consumers, often poses
greater systemic risks than it seems during a boom. ... Highly indebted governments, banks, or corporations
can seem to be merrily rolling along for an extended period, when bang -- confidence collapses, lenders
disappear and a crisis hits. ... Highly leveraged economies ... seldom survive forever ... history
does point to warnings signs that policy makers can look to access risk -- if only they do not become
too drunk with their credit bubble-fueled success and say, as their predecessors have for centuries,
'This time is different' Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff (cited from
The first thing to understand is that attempt to weaken positive feedback looks via regulation, approach
that can be called “regulation as a Swiss knife” does not work without law enforcement and criminal
liability for bankers, as there is an obvious problem of corruption of regulators. In this sense the
mechanism of purges might be the only one that realistically can work.
In other words it’s unclear who and how can prevents the capture of regulators as financial sector
by definition has means to undermine any such efforts. One way this influence work is via lobbing for
appointment of pro-financial sector people in key positions. If such "finance-sector-selected" Fed chairman
does not like part of Fed mandate related to regulation it can simply ignore it as long as he is sure
that he will be reappointed. That happened with Greenspan. After such process started it became
irreversible and only after a significant, dramatic shock to the system any meaningful changes can be
instituted and as soon as the lessons are forgotten work on undermining them resumes.
In essence, the Fed is a political organization and Fed Chairman is as close to a real vice-president
of the USA as one can get. As such Fed Chairman serves the elite which rules that country, whether
you call them financial oligarchy or some other name. Actually Fed Chairman is the most powerful unelected
official in the USA. If you compare this position to the role of the Chairman of the Politburo
in the USSR you’ll might find some interesting similarities.
In other words it is impossible to prevent appointment of another Greenspan by another Reagan without
changes in political power balance. And the transition to banana republic that follows such appointment
is irreversible even if the next administration water boards former Fed Chairman to help him to write
his memoirs. That means that you need to far-reaching reform of political system to be able to
regulate financial industry and you need to understand that the measures adopted need vigilant protection
as soon as the current crisis is a distant history.
Several other source of financial instability were pointed out by others:
The logic of markets gets extended to “fictitious commodities” – land, labor, and money.Polanyi (1944) famously zeroed in on the way that the logic of markets gets extended to
“fictitious commodities” – land, labor, and money – and the way that society reacts defensively
to that illegitimate extension. Today, arguably, it is the logic of finance that has been so extended,
turning everything it touches into an asset with a speculative price.
Excessive accumulations of financial wealth – “other people’s money” – tend to undermine democratic
political forms.Brandeis (1914) thought that excessive accumulations of financial
wealth – “other people’s money” – tend to undermine democratic political forms (among other
problems). Today, arguably TBTF financial institution threaten democracy.
There are some outstanding lectures and presentation on YouTube on this topic. Among them:
"... Steele also had extensive contacts with DOJ official Bruce Ohr and his wife Nellie, who - along with Steele - was paid by opposition research firm Fusion GPS in the anti-Trump campaign. Trump called for the declassification of FBI notes of interviews with Ohr, which would ostensibly reveal more about his relationship with Steele. Ohr was demoted twice within the Department of Justice for lying about his contacts with Fusion GPS. ..."
"... Perhaps the Brits are also concerned since much of the espionage performed on the Trump campaign was conducted on UK soil throughout 2016 . Recall that Trump aid George Papadopoulos was lured to London in March, 2016, where Maltese professor Joseph Mifsud fed him the rumor that Russia had dirt on Hillary Clinton. It was later at a London bar that Papadopoulos would drunkenly pass the rumor to Australian diplomat Alexander Downer (who Strzok flew to London to meet with). ..."
"... In short, it's understandable that the UK would prefer to hide their involvement in the "witch hunt" of Donald Trump since much of the counterintelligence investigation was conducted on UK soil. And if the Brits had knowledge of the operation, it will bolster claims that they meddled in the 2016 US election by assisting what appears to have been a set-up from the start . ..."
"... Steele's ham-handed dossier is a mere embarrassment, as virtually none of the claims asserted by the former MI6 agent have been proven true. ..."
"... I find it interesting that the Theresa May Govt in UK has the temerity to interfere with US politics (until they got caught out!), yet can't find the spine to stand up to the EU. ..."
"... THE UNITED KINGDOM along with ISRAEL & SAUDI ARABIA have always been the ones behind US Politics making, pulling the strings behind the curtains since the Petrodollar Inception, The Greater Israel project & the NWO initiative - only this time around Trump was not the UK's pick... ..."
"... England dominates the offshore money laundering havens where the super rich hide their money and evade taxes. They need to be brought down. No more African dictators looting their nation's resources and hiding the money first in offshore banks and then in JP Morgan and Brit banks. ..."
"... It is a test. If Trump doesn't go ahead with declassification, we know for sure he is no better than the globalists and neocons whose goal has always been to destroy and depopulate America. ..."
"... 'focusing on the former MI6 agent while ignoring the multitude of events which occurred on UK soil, is curious' ..."
"... Not at all. It's obvious - the problem ISN'T Steele. They're living in fear, as are many in DC and elsewhere, that Trump is going to pry the lid open and reveal at least some of their activities. If killing him would fix the problem, they would. It's too late, considering what Trump is threatening to do. I wonder if he'll back down, at least some? ..."
"... U.S. spies lure you overseas then...compromise you. ..."
"... Duh. This Started In London! Britain is the "foreign country" involved in our elections. Wake up everyone. It's LONDONGATE ..."
"... "t's hard to tell who's telling the truth and who isn't in this whole Russia narrative. Fact is, NOBODY is telling the truth. That is what I've determined after doing my own research.": https://youtu.be/2AA5BIfGj3g ..."
"... trump made promises before being elected, then lied and sold America out, just like every other corrupted assklown politician. he is no different than clinton bush obama, just as arrogant, just as corrupt, and just as much a traitor. ..."
The British government "expressed grave concerns" to the US government over the
declassification and release of material related to the Trump-Russia investigation, according
to the New
York Times . President Trump ordered a wide swath of materials "immediately" declassified
"without redaction" on Monday, only to
change his mind later in the week by allowing the DOJ Inspector General to review the
The Times reports that the UK's concern was over material which "includes direct references
to conversations between American law enforcement officials and Christopher Steele," the former
MI6 agent who compiled the infamous "Steele Dossier." The UK's objection, according to former
US and British officials, was over revealing Steele's identity in an official document,
"regardless of whether he had been named in press reports."
We would note, however, that Steele's name was contained within the Nunes Memo
- the House Intelligence Committee's majority opinion in the Trump-Russia case.
Steele also had
extensive contacts with DOJ official Bruce Ohr and his wife Nellie, who - along with Steele
- was paid by opposition research firm Fusion GPS in the anti-Trump campaign. Trump called for
the declassification of FBI notes of interviews with Ohr, which would ostensibly reveal more
about his relationship with Steele. Ohr was demoted twice within the Department of Justice for
lying about his contacts with Fusion GPS.
Perhaps the Brits are also concerned since much of the espionage performed on the Trump
campaign was conducted on UK soil throughout 2016 . Recall that Trump aid George Papadopoulos
was lured to London in March, 2016, where Maltese professor Joseph Mifsud fed him the rumor
that Russia had dirt on Hillary Clinton. It was later at a London bar that Papadopoulos would
drunkenly pass the rumor to Australian diplomat Alexander Downer (who Strzok flew to London to
Also recall that CIA/FBI "informant" (spy) Stefan Halper met with both Carter Page
and Papadopoulos in
Halper, a veteran of four Republican administrations, reached out to Trump aide George
Papadopoulos in September 2016 with an offer to fly to London to write an academic paper on
energy exploration in the Mediterranean Sea.
Papadopoulos accepted a flight to London and a $3,000 honorarium. He claims that during a
meeting in London, Halper asked him whether he knew anything about Russian hacking of
Papadopoulos had other contacts on British soil that he now believes were part of a
government-sanctioned surveillance operation. - Daily Caller
In total, Halper received over $1 million from the Obama Pentagon for "research," over
$400,000 of which was granted before and during the 2016 election season.
In short, it's understandable that the UK would prefer to hide their involvement in the
"witch hunt" of Donald Trump since much of the counterintelligence investigation was conducted
on UK soil. And if the Brits had knowledge of the operation, it will bolster claims that they
meddled in the 2016 US election by assisting what appears to have been a
set-up from the start .
Steele's ham-handed dossier is a mere embarrassment, as virtually none of the claims
asserted by the former MI6 agent have been proven true.
Steele, a former MI6 agent, is the author of the infamous and unverified anti-Trump
dossier. He worked as a confidential human source for the FBI for years before the
relationship was severed just before the election because of Steele's unauthorized contacts
with the press.
He shared results of his investigation into Trump's links to Russia with the FBI beginning
in early July 2016.
The FBI relied heavily on the unverified Steele dossier to fill out applications for four
FISA warrants against Page. Page has denied the dossier's claims, which include that he was
the Trump campaign's back channel to the Kremlin. - Daily Caller
That said, Steele hasn't worked for the British government since 2009, so for their excuse
focusing on the former MI6 agent while ignoring the multitude of events which occurred on UK
soil, is curious.
StychoKiller , 54 minutes ago
I find it interesting that the Theresa May Govt in UK has the temerity to interfere with
US politics (until they got caught out!), yet can't find the spine to stand up to the EU. If
I were Trump, not only would the shoe be dropping re: UK Govt involvement in US politics, but
said shoe would be making an imprint across her face! (stoopid twat!)
texantim , 1 hour ago
I say release the docs and put sanctions on UK.
BitchesBetterRecognize , 1 hour ago
So the Motherland ******* up with the ex-colony yet again, huh?
THE UNITED KINGDOM along with ISRAEL & SAUDI ARABIA have always been the ones behind
US Politics making, pulling the strings behind the curtains since the Petrodollar Inception,
The Greater Israel project & the NWO initiative - only this time around Trump was not the
Oh, but those "civilized" Allies backstabbing each other for more power grip on the
Baron von Bud , 2 hours ago
England dominates the offshore money laundering havens where the super rich hide their
money and evade taxes. They need to be brought down. No more African dictators looting their
nation's resources and hiding the money first in offshore banks and then in JP Morgan and
Many hedge funds are deep into this game. I'd wager on Carlyle Group and the Bush
clan. Billions of people can't get ahead because the super rich are ******* crooks running
the banks and governments. They don't pay taxes but force a small dry cleaner to pay 45% in
fed/state taxes. These criminals include Hillary Clinton and many members of congress.
Feinstein, Pelosi, Maxine and many more of both parties need to be investigated. How do they
get so rich on a congressman's salary. Deep into tax evasion and payoffs? Release the
documents and let MI6 hang.
Malvern Joe , 3 hours ago
It is a test. If Trump doesn't go ahead with declassification, we know for sure he is no
better than the globalists and neocons whose goal has always been to destroy and depopulate
America. It would represent the biggest sellout of this country since the creation of the Fed
in 1913, He will go down as the biggest fraud ever and his base will deport his *** to the
sums of India where he can defecate in public.
Bricker , 3 hours ago
You dont get to supply a rogue agent, that was probably told to do it in the first place,
and then tell Trump not to do it out of harm, harm is all you BRIT DEEP STATES deserve
Moving and Grooving , 3 hours ago
'focusing on the former MI6 agent while ignoring the multitude of events which occurred on
UK soil, is curious'
Not at all. It's obvious - the problem ISN'T Steele. They're living in fear, as are many
in DC and elsewhere, that Trump is going to pry the lid open and reveal at least some of
their activities. If killing him would fix the problem, they would. It's too late,
considering what Trump is threatening to do. I wonder if he'll back down, at least some?
The sheer corruption of the Global Government is on display here, revealing itself, if you
watch for it. Whether planned or not, the last 6 months or so have been astonishing to watch.
The entire media has been shown to be liars, academia is shown to be an expensive provider of
unprepared students, the corporate world is furiously rent-seeking and finding new ways to
destroy humanity, and government is too busy selling Americans out to write a budget. In all
countries around the world, adjusting for national status. Lawsuits in the west, machetes in
the third world.
Ban KKiller , 4 hours ago
U.K. does not want the jurisdiction. U.S. spies lure you overseas then...compromise you.
John C Durham , 4 hours ago
Duh. This Started In London! Britain is the "foreign country" involved in our elections.
Wake up everyone. It's LONDONGATE .
Anunnaki , 4 hours ago
May gonna owe Vlad an apology when Skripal is revealed to be Steele's source. Steele himself hadn't been to Russian in 15 years. Will he get life in prison for attempted murder?
PeaceForWorld , 4 hours ago
"t's hard to tell who's telling the truth and who isn't in this whole Russia narrative.
Fact is, NOBODY is telling the truth. That is what I've determined after doing my own
I really like this woman "Shut the **** up!". She is a former Bernie supporter just like
me. She has turned against Democrats just like me. She doesn't trust any of the Establishment
Buddha71 , 4 hours ago
trump made promises before being elected, then lied and sold America out, just like every other
corrupted assklown politician. he is no different than clinton bush obama, just as arrogant,
just as corrupt, and just as much a traitor. he has broken the promises upon which he was
elected, just like all the other fkn liars before him. no different. just a pos. he has not
made america great again, just more of the same, unemployment is a lie, it is closer to
"... We've seen it before : a newspaper and individual reporters get a story horribly wrong but instead of correcting it they double down to protect their reputations and credibility - which is all journalists have to go on - and the public suffers. ..."
"... The Times' unsteady conviction is summed up in this paragraph, which the paper itself then contradicts only a few paragraphs later: "What we now know with certainty: The Russians carried out a landmark intervention that will be examined for decades to come. Acting on the personal animus of Mr. Putin, public and private instruments of Russian power moved with daring and skill to harness the currents of American politics. Well-connected Russians worked aggressively to recruit or influence people inside the Trump campaign." ..."
We've seen it before : a newspaper and individual reporters get a story horribly wrong but
instead of correcting it they double down to protect their reputations and credibility - which
is all journalists have to go on - and the public suffers.
Sometimes this maneuver can contribute to a massive loss of life. The most egregious example
was the reporting in the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq. Like nearly all Establishment media,
The New York Times got the story of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction -- the major casus belli
for the invasion -- dead wrong. But the Times , like the others, continued publishing stories
without challenging their sources in authority, mostly unnamed, who were pushing for war.
The result was a disastrous intervention that led to hundreds of thousands of civilian
deaths and continued instability in Iraq, including the formation of the Islamic State.
In a massive Times '
article published on Thursday, entitled, "A Plot to Subvert an Election: Unravelling the
Russia Story So Far," it seems that reporters Scott Shane and Mark Mazzetti have succumbed to
the same thinking that doubled down on Iraq.
They claim to have a "mountain of evidence" but what they offer would be invisible on the
With the mid-terms looming and Special Counsel Robert Mueller unable to so far come up with
any proof of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign to steal the 2016 election -- the
central Russia-gate charge -- the Times does it for him, regurgitating a Russia-gate Round-Up
of every unsubstantiated allegation that has been made -- deceptively presented as though it's
all been proven.
Mueller: No collusion so far.
This is a reaffirmation of the faith, a recitation of what the Russia-gate faithful want to
believe is true. But mere repetition will not make it so.
The Times' unsteady conviction is summed up in this paragraph, which the paper itself then
contradicts only a few paragraphs later: "What we now know with certainty: The Russians carried out a landmark intervention that will
be examined for decades to come. Acting on the personal animus of Mr. Putin, public and private
instruments of Russian power moved with daring and skill to harness the currents of American
politics. Well-connected Russians worked aggressively to recruit or influence people inside the
But this schizoid approach leads to the admission that "no public evidence has emerged
showing that [Trump's] campaign conspired with Russia."
The Times also adds: "There is a plausible case that Mr. Putin succeeded in delivering the
presidency to his admirer, Mr. Trump, though it cannot be proved or disproved."
This is an extraordinary statement. If it cannot be "proved or disproved" what is the point
of this entire exercise: of the Mueller probe, the House and Senate investigations and even of
this very New York Times article?
Attempting to prove this constructed story without proof is the very point of this
A Banner Day
The 10,000-word article opens with a story of a pro-Russian banner that was hung from the
Manhattan Bridge on Putin's birthday, and an anti-Obama banner hung a month later from the
Memorial Bridge in Washington just after the 2016 election.
On public property these are constitutionally-protected acts of free speech. But for the
Times , "The Kremlin, it appeared, had reached onto United States soil in New York and
Washington. The banners may well have been intended as visual victory laps for the most
effective foreign interference in an American election in history."
Kremlin: Guilty, says NYT. (Robert Parry, 2016)
Why? Because the Times tells us that the "earliest promoters" of images of the banners were
from social media accounts linked to a St. Petersburg-based click-bait farm, a company called
the Internet Research Agency. The company is not legally connected to the Kremlin and any
political coordination is pure speculation. IRA has been
explained convincingly as a commercial and not political operation. Its aim is get and sell
For instance the company conducted pro and anti-Trump rallies and social media messages, as
well as pro and anti-Clinton. But the Times , in classic omission mode, only reports on "the
anti-Clinton, pro-Trump messages shared with millions of voters by Russia." Sharing with
"millions" of people on social media does not mean that millions of people have actually seen
those messages. And if they had there is little way to determine whether it affected how they
voted, especially as the messages attacked and praised both candidates.
The Times reporters take much at face value, which they then themselves undermine. Most
prominently, they willfully mistake an indictment for a conviction, as if they do not know the
This is in the category of Journalism 101. An indictment need not include evidence and under
U.S. law an indictment is not evidence. Juries are instructed that an indictment is merely an
accusation. That the Times commits this cardinal sin of journalism to purposely confuse
allegations with a conviction is not only inexcusable but strikes a fatal blow to the
credibility of the entire article.
It actually reports that "Today there is no doubt who hacked the D.N.C. and the Clinton
detailed indictment of 12 officers of Russia's military intelligence agency, filed in July
by Mr. Mueller, documents their every move, including their break-in techniques, their tricks
to hide inside the Democrats' networks and even their Google searches."
Who needs courts when suspects can be tried and convicted in the press?
What the Times is not taking into account is that Mueller knows his indictment will never be
tested in court because the GRU agents will never be arrested, there is no extradition treaty
between the U.S. and Russia and even if it were miraculously to see the inside of a courtroom
Mueller can invoke states secrets privilege to show the "evidence" to a judge with clearance in
his chambers who can then emerge to pronounce "Guilty!" without a jury having seen that
This is what makes Mueller's indictment more a political than a legal document, giving him
wide leeway to put whatever he wants into it. He knew it would never be tested and that once it
was released, a supine press would do the rest to cement it in the public consciousness as a
conviction, just as this Times piece tries to do.
Errors of Commission and Omission
There are a series of erroneous assertions and omissions in the Times piece, omitted because
they would disturb the narrative:
Not mentioning that the FBI was never given access to the DNC server but instead gullibly
believing the assertion of the anti-Russian private company CrowdStrike, paid for by the DNC,
that the name of the first Soviet intelligence chief found in metadata proves Russia was
behind the hack. Only someone wanting to be caught would leave such a clue.
Incredibly believing that Trump would have launched a covert intelligence operation on
live national television by asking Russia to get 30,000 missing emails.
Trump: Sarcastically calls on Russia to get Clinton emails.
Ignoring the possible role of the MI6, the CIA and the FBI setting up Trump
campaign members George Papadopoulos and Carter Page as "colluders" with Russia.
Repeating misleading statements about the infamous Trump Tower meeting, in which Trump's
son did not seek dirt on Clinton but was offered it by a music promoter, not the Russian
government. None was apparently produced. It's never been established that a campaign
receiving opposition research from foreigners is illegal (though the Times has decided that
it is) and only the Clinton campaign was known to have obtained any.
Making no mention at all of the now discredited opposition research dossier paid for by
the Clinton campaign and the DNC from foreign sources and used by the FBI to get a warrant to
spy on Carter Page and potentially other campaign members.
Dismissing the importance
of politicized text messages between FBI agents Peter Strzok and Lisa Page because the pair
were "skewered regularly on Mr. (Sean) Hannity's show as the 'Trump-hating F.B.I.
Putting down to "hyped news stories" the legitimate fear of a new McCarthyism against
anyone who questions the "official" story being peddled here by the Times .
Seeking to get inside Putin's head to portray him as a petulant child seeking personal
revenge against Hillary Clinton, a tale long peddled by Clinton and accepted without
reservation by the Times.
Pretending to get into Julian Assange's head as well, saying he "shared Mr. Putin's
hatred of Mrs. Clinton and had a soft spot for Russia." And that Assange "also obscured the
Russian role by fueling a right-wing conspiracy theory he
knew to be false."
Ignoring findings backed
by the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity that the DNC emails were leaked and not
Erroneously linking the timing of WikiLeaks' Podesta emails to deflect attention from the
"Access Hollywood" tape, as
debunked in Consortium News by Italian journalist Stefania Maurizi, who worked with
WikiLeaks on those emails.
The piece swallows whole the Establishment's geo-strategic Russia narrative, as all
corporate media do. It buys without hesitation the story that the U.S. seeks to spread
democracy around the world, and not pursue its economic and geo-strategic interests as do all
The Times reports that, "The United States had backed democratic, anti-Russian forces in the
so-called color revolutions on Russia's borders, in Georgia in 2003 and Ukraine in 2004." The
Times has also spread the erroneous story of a democratic revolution in Ukraine in 2014,
omitting crucial evidence of
a U.S.-backed coup.
The Times disapprovingly dismisses Trump having said on the campaign trail that "Russia was
not an existential threat, but a potential ally in beating back terrorist groups," when an
objective view of the world would come to this very conclusion.
The story also shoves aside American voters' real concerns that led to Trump's election. For
the Times, economic grievances and rejection of perpetual war played no role in the election of
Trump. Instead it was Russian influence that led Americans to vote for him, an absurd
proposition defied by a Gallup poll in July that
showed Americans' greatest concerns being economic. Their concerns about Russia were
statistically insignificant at less than one percent.
Ignoring Americans' real concerns exposes the class interests of Times staffers and editors
who are evidently above Americans' economic and social suffering. The Times piece blames Russia
for social "divisions" and undermining American democracy, classic projection onto Moscow away
from the real culprits for these problems: bi-partisan American plutocrats. That also insults
average Americans by suggesting they cannot think for themselves and pursue their own interests
without Russia telling them what to do.
Establishment reporters insulate themselves from criticism by retreating into the exclusive
Establishment club they think they inhabit. It is from there that they vicariously draw their
strength from powerful people they cover, which they should instead be scrutinizing. Validated
by being close to power, Establishment reporters don't take seriously anyone outside of the
club, such as a website like Consortium News.
But on rare occasions they are forced to take note of what outsiders are saying. Because of
the role The New York Timesplayed in the catastrophe of Iraq its editors took the highly
unusual move of apologizing
to its readers. Will we one day read a similar apology about the paper's coverage of
Russia-gate? Tags Politics
Russia now awaits possible new sanctions as a result of its involvement in the United
States election and as a result of the potential nerve agent attack in England.
Who the **** writes this ****? Who believes those baldfaced lies?
Hass C. , 49 minutes ago
A little glimpse into how much influence Putin has on his own economy. Which is not much.
He is trying hard to remove Russia's testicles from the vice of US control but this is a slow
process as the economy and capital market are totally open, except for military production
which is under his own control and pretty much protected from the whims of markets.
The steady increase of sanctions has the objective of forcing Putin's hand into lashing
out and trying a dirigistic neo-stalinist approach, but this would cut Russia from foreign
technology and capital, make the best work force fly abroad, resulting in final
Whether Russia survives as an industrial economy till US and the dollar loses its power
over it is anybody's guess. The more Russia is weakened at that time, the more likely China
will flood it with its love.
Ms No , 51 minutes ago
The thing with Putin is that he is a great leader and Patriot. He wishes us no harm and
would like to be our friends (the western population); however, Putin isn't motivated by
saving the world, your nation or you personally. His loyalty is to his people and their
All actions that Putin has taken that ended up saving your *** were simply a benefit
gained by the happenstance of what benefits us benefitting him.
Putin will save his own (hopefully) but you have to save yourself. Remember that.
LaugherNYC , 8 minutes ago
If Putin wants to be friends with the West, then why did he reverse the course of openness
to the EU and NATO, the trend towards normalization, and turn hard right into an
ultra-nationalist despot, starting to spout the diseased philosophy of Ilyin, becoming a
xenophobic tin pot kleptocrat, like some African warlord, funneling funds and assets offshore
through shell companies and his buddies?
It will be interesting to see what happens when/if there is a real global investigation of
Putin's offshored assets, and an expose of how he has plundered his country. He will be the
very last to repatriate - nor should we want him to be forced into it. If you close his
escape hatch, Vlad will be forced to live up to his rhetoric, which is very Rapture-esque,
very nuclear nightmare, very Judgement Day Armageddon
Anonymous IX , 1 hour ago
Where's Billy Browder? What's next on his agenda? Billy, btw, the next time you allow
anyone to film you, have your handlers minimize the obvious drug and/or electronic mind
control over you a little earlier. You seem to "wake up" an awful lot...you know...where your
head snaps up like you didn't realize something...or you're "waking up" from something. Just
a helpful hint. You did so chronically throughout the Magnitsky film. Here's what a mind
looks like on "mind control." Don't look for eggs in a frying pan.
Ms No , 50 minutes ago
So mind control looks something like sleep apnea?
Savvy , 1 hour ago
the desire to keep assets out of the reach of the United States Treasury
Can you say 'capital flight'? I knew you could. Not a country in the world is going to
trust the US with a grain of salt.
Well done Trump and your $864billon/month deficit spending.
Ms No , 49 minutes ago
We really should stop referring to it as the US treasury. Its something else.
opport.knocks , 3 minutes ago
The US Usury?
hooligan2009 , 1 hour ago
according to polls aired by tv station "euro news", putin's ratings are down 10% because
he wants to raise the retirement ages of men to 65 from 60 (male life expectancy is 66) and
womens retirement age from 55 to 60 (womens life expectancy is 71).
i guess this is proof that sanctions are working. putin has to raise the retirement age
and russians die 12-15 years earlier than those in the west.
oh, the humanity!
sanctions work: they hurt the bottom 50%, not those better off.
Balance-Sheet , 58 minutes ago
Good to note this and it appears to be correct. Male life expectancy is 65/66 on average
so many will die reaching for their first tiny pension check. I do not know why Putin simply
does not seek to save money by ordering people to be shot at 65 as a humane measure. Russia
has shot 10s of millions over the past 100 years so this will maintain a tradition.
I am interested in your remark on Putin's popularity- he appears to be slipping into
megalomania also typical of Russian leaders so perhaps he will be removed. Raising the
retirement age in Russia is recklessly stupid from a political perspective in an impoverished
country established as Earth's largest resource treasure house.
Ms No , 44 minutes ago
War and sanctions are expensive. Through this evil the world is impoverished. Zionist fiat
currency is also crushingly expensive. We would be exceedingly wealthy without all of this. A
whole different world could exist.
That probably wont happen until the next age (a golden age) though because people now are
inherently stupid and lack any connection. Sticking their appendenges in everything and
sinking completely in dense materialism is more important.
Hass C. , 39 minutes ago
Can you specify why you say he "appears to be slipping into megalomania"? Been observing
him for years and his megalomania index seems stable to me.
Also, Russian demography makes raising the retirement age necessary, they say. Their birth
rate is increasing but so does life expectancy.
opport.knocks , 1 minute ago
He will not be able to run for re-election so now is the time to implement necessary but
Shemp 4 Victory , 38 minutes ago
according to polls aired by tv station "euro news"
Well, if "euro news" said, then so it is. Free European press can't lie.
hooligan2009 , 28 minutes ago
haha.. yes.. i watched it for ten minutes, so the same four headlines scrolled through in
a cycle three times in those ten minutes. pope, a survivor underneath a boat after two days
in lake victoria, blunt brexit and putins popularity.
nothing approcahing any quality whatsoever. i was just making sure the other side of the
house hadn't got past "stupid"!!!
123dobryden , 1 hour ago
notfeelinthebern , 1 hour ago
Yeah, he's giving the west the proverbial finger. Instead of creating a bridge to trade
and friendship, the west is doing nothing but trying to destroy an imaginary enemy.
Matteo S. , 1 hour ago
It is not imaginary from the anglo-saxon empire's point of view.
The anglo-saxon empire has been playing this game for more than 3 centuries.
It first constantly attacked France until it definitely emasculated it with Napoleon's
Then it immediately went to the jugular of Russia. And on this occasion was formulated
Mackinder's gropolitics principles.
Then it went for Germany.
Then in again against USSR/Russia.
This is not due to imagination. This is a deliberate and structural way to interact with
the rest of the world. The anglo-saxon empire hates competition and tries to destroy any
potential competitor instead of agreeing to cooperate with peers.
Ms No , 42 minutes ago
The Anglo Saxon empire was occupied by Zionist money lending. They controlled the British
empire. A lot of those blueblood royal were theirs to begin with also. They were also the
bankers of Rome.
Matteo S. , 27 minutes ago
Forget your fantasies about the Catholic Church and the pope.
It is Protestants who have always dominated the anglo-saxon empire. Protestants from
Britain but also from Netherlands, Germany, France, who allied with the English and Scot
Protestants to build their mammonite empire.
And for one Rothschild family, you had the Astors, Vanderbilt's, Rockefellers, Carnegie's,
Morgans, Fords, ... etc, none of which were jewish.
The Zionists are just the tail of the anglo-saxon dog.
justdues , 1 hour ago
"Russia now awaits possible new sanctions as a result of it,s ALLEGED involvement in the
United States election and as a result of the ALLEGED nerve agent attack in England .
hooligan2009 , 1 hour ago
quite right. no trial, no evidence and harsh sentences/convictions via trade
russia offered reciprocation so it could try Browder. the west said no, invented crimes
culminating in a Magnitsy act.
if individuals in Europe, the UK or the US were convicted and imprisoned without trial
governments in those places would be thrown out on their ear.
as it is, western governments can bring the entire planet to the brink of war, based on
their political opinions - with no evidence, no trial and no opportunity to argue a case for
a defence of charges.
JibjeResearch , 1 hour ago
lolz ahaha.... a bad choice..., any fiat is a bad choice...
Go phy.gold or cryptos (BTC, ETH, XTZ),
phy.silver is good too...
An Shrubbery , 40 minutes ago
Cryptosporidiosis are no different than fiat, maybe even a little worse. They are NOT
anonymous, and are becoming less and less so and eventually will be co-opted by deep state
operatives such as googoyle, facefuck, Twatter, amazog, etc. for the deep state. There is an
absolute record of your every transaction in the blockchain.
It's just a matter of time. There will be a crypto that we're all forced to use in the
near future, and big brother will have absolute control of it.
my new username , 1 hour ago
This has zero impact on working class Americans. It only affects liberals and rich
DEDA CVETKO , 1 hour ago
Everything has impact on everything else. We are all, in some bizarre ways,
interconnected. Deripaska (pictured above) has a virtual global monopoly on aluminum trade.
Guess who uses aluminum? You guessed it: people like you and I. The airplane industry.
Consumer industry. The military. Medical equipment industry. Construction industry. Food
There is no such thing as isolationism anymore. It wasn't possible even during Warren
Harding's presidency, let alone now. This deranged notion that Donald Trump will somehow
insulate us all from the effects of his aggressive overseas posturing is deranged beyond
By initiating an attack on the Syrian province of Latakia, home to the Russia-operated
Khmeimim Air Base, Israel, France and the United States certainly understood they were flirting
with disaster. Yet they went ahead with the operation anyways.
On the pretext that Iran was preparing to deliver a shipment of weapon production systems to
Hezbollah in Lebanon, Israeli F-16s, backed by French missile launches in the Mediterranean,
destroyed what is alleged to have been a Syrian Army ammunition depot.
What happened next is already well established : a Russian Il-20 reconnaissance aircraft,
which the Israeli fighter jets had reportedly used for cover, was shot down by an S-200
surface-to-air missile system operated by the Syrian Army. Fifteen Russian servicemen perished
in the incident, which could have been avoided had Israel provided more than just one-minute
warning before the attack. As a result, chaos ensued.
Whether or not there is any truth to the claim that Iran was preparing to deliver
weapon-making systems to Hezbollah in Lebanon is practically a moot point based on flawed
logic. Conducting an attack against an ammunition depot in Syria – in the vicinity of
Russia's Khmeimim Air Base – to protect Israel doesn't make much sense when the
consequence of such "protective measures" could have been a conflagration on the scale of World
War III. That would have been an unacceptable price to achieve such a limited objective, which
could have been better accomplished with the assistance of Russia, as opposed to NATO-member
France, for example. In any case, there is a so-called "de-confliction system" in place between
Israel and Russia designed to prevent exactly this sort of episode from occurring.
And then there is the matter of the timing of the French-Israeli incursion.
Just hours before Israeli jets pounded the suspect Syrian ammunition storehouse, Putin and
Turkish President Recep Erdogan were in Sochi
hammering out the details on a plan to reduce civilian casualties as Russian and Syrian
forces plan to retake Idlib province, the last remaining terrorist stronghold in the country.
The plan envisioned the creation of a demilitarized buffer zone between government and rebel
forces, with observatory units to enforce the agreement. In other words, it is designed to
prevent exactly what Western observers have been fretting about, and that is unnecessary
So what do France and Israel do after a relative peace is declared, and an effective measure
for reducing casualties? The cynically attack Syria, thus exposing those same Syrian civilians
to the dangers of military conflict that Western capitals proclaim to be worried
Israel moves to 'damage control'
Although Israel has taken the rare move of acknowledging its involvement in the Syrian
attack, even expressing "sorrow" for the loss of Russian life, it insists that Damascus should
be held responsible for the tragedy. That is a highly debatable argument.
By virtue of the fact that the French and Israeli forces were teaming up to attack the
territory of a sovereign nation, thus forcing Syria to respond in self-defense, it is rather
obvious where ultimate blame for the downed Russian plane lies.
"The blame for the downing of the Russian plane and the deaths of its crew members lies
squarely on the Israeli side," Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said.
"The actions of the Israeli military were not in keeping with the spirit of the
Russian-Israeli partnership, so we reserve the right to respond."
Russian President Vladimir Putin, meanwhile, took admirable efforts to prevent the blame
game from reaching the boiling point, telling reporters that the
downing of the Russian aircraft was the result of "a chain of tragic circumstances, because the
Israeli plane didn't shoot down our jet."
Nevertheless, following this extremely tempered and reserved remark, Putin vowed that Russia
would take extra precautions to protect its troops in Syria, saying these will be "the steps
that everyone will notice."
Now there is much consternation
in Israel that the IDF will soon find its freedom to conduct operations against targets in
Syria greatly impaired. That's because Russia, having just suffered a 'friendly-fire' incident
from its own antiquated S-200 system, may now be more open to the idea of providing Syria with
the more advanced S-300 air-defense system.
Earlier this year, Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reached an agreement
that prevented those advanced defensive weapons from being employed in the Syrian theater. That
deal is now in serious jeopardy. In addition to other defensive measures, Russia could
effectively create the conditions for a veritable no-fly zone across Western Syria in that it
would simply become too risky for foreign aircraft to venture into the zone.
The entire situation, which certainly did not go off as planned, has forced Israel into
damage control as they attempt to prevent their Russian counterparts from effectively shutting
down Syria's western border.
On Thursday, Israeli Major-General Amikam Norkin and Brigadier General Erez Maisel, as well
as officers of the Intelligence and Operations directorates of the Israeli air force will pay
an official visit to Moscow where they are expected to repeat their concerns of "continuous
Iranian attempts to transfer strategic weapons to the Hezbollah terror organization and to
establish an Iranian military presence in Syria."
Moscow will certainly be asking their Israeli partners if it is justifiable to subject
Russian servicemen to unacceptable levels of danger, up to and including death, in order to
defend Israeli interests. It remains to be seen if the two sides can find, through the fog of
war, an honest method for bringing an end to the Syria conflict, which would go far at
relieving Israel's concerns of Iranian influence in the region.
CoCosAB , 1 minute ago
The TERRORISTS keep doing the same **** all the time... And ***** PUTIN keeps cool!
Fecund Stench , 2 minutes ago
'There will, however, be some form of no-fly zone and as Vladimir Putin stated Russia will
take "the steps that everyone will notice."'
Failure to notice bespeaks complicity in the Ziomedia.
toady , 12 minutes ago
"...if it is justifiable to subject Russian servicemen to unacceptable levels of danger,
up to and including death, in order to defend Israeli interests."
Surely a few dozen Russians isn't comparable to all the Jews that died in the
Just as all the Jews that died in the holocaust aren't comparable to all the the Russians
that died in wwII.
isn't religion and the victim mentality a fun game to play?
JoeTurner , 13 minutes ago
Israel must have its lebensraum.....
bh2 , 45 minutes ago
Putin is not going to initiate WWIII over Syria or any military action within it. The
outcome in Syria affects Russian national interests. But unlike Crimea, it does not affect
any of Russia's vital national interests.
rejected , 35 minutes ago
If Syria was to shoot down one (1) American jet with one (1) pilot the US would respond
like it was Pearl Harbor and Syria for sure isn't vital to America's national interests
unless one considers results like Libya a national interest.
rejected , 1 hour ago
I seriously doubt Putin will allow the S-300 to Syria. Like the US, Russia is controlled
by the 5th column Jews inside Russia itself except the control is not as complete as in the
US. The Russian plane is Russia's USS Liberty.... and it is possible, and IMO that it was
France that shot down the plane. The fact that they fired missiles at the same time and that
has disappeared down the memory hole is very suspicious.
The West is out of control They talk International law but consider them selves above it.
Israel, France, UK, US have no 'right' to attack Syria. They have no right to be within
Syrian borders. They are now all allied with the terrorists and provide them with weapons.
Israel actually provides for their wounds at Israeli hospitals.
By the old definition of terrorist, it is the West that fits the description.
As for Mr. Putin,,, He has done what was unthinkable a short time ago. He has allowed the
murder of Russians. Not once,,, not twice,,, but now three times with only a whimper. He
actually defended the aggressors this time. This will only serve to make them double down. If
any more Russians are murdered it will be he who is guilty by lack of action. Even Somalia
fought back when the US tried an attack.
The author here defends Putin as acting with a cool head as the author, like so many
cowards thee days, dismisses those fifteen lives. He will also be responsible when the next
batch of Russians are sacrificed for world peace as the Western marauders, the US especially,
murders their way to world domination like Germany's Hitler and France's Napoleon.
It was Russia that saved the world from those two dictators and is why Russia stands proud
today. It is Russia's history to savagely defend Russians and Russia. Today with thousands of
Russians killed by Ukrainian Nazis supported and armed by the West (MAGA) and now Russians
killed in Syria by the West with little to no response from Russia other than "Its against
international law" and authors like this that nonchalantly discard Russian lives as necessary
for world peace.
Mr. Putin just needs to hand over the keys to Russia,,, for world peace of course.
"... Popularity of National Socialism in capitalist country like Germany was exactly due to that process of corruption of working class who embassy stoped to question system as long as provided them with goods. ..."
"... Henceforth, most goods manufactured for US consumption were to be produced abroad, from Mexico to China. Once US based multinationals started down this road, European and even Japanese ones followed. This did not mean an increase in productive forces but a substitution of one labour force for another. ..."
"... Thus the rise of Chinese industry was as much a part of this process as the deindustrialisation of formerly prosperous parts of the US and the UK. This has nothing to do with the evolution of our species and everything to do with the evolution of capitalism. This is what I mean by globalisation. ..."
"... It has not eradicated national borders but is a major factor in the recent development of far right nationalism in Europe. It is a strong contributor to the restructuring of western economies so that only a minority of British workers have full time permanent jobs. It is also used as leverage to drive down wages in western economies. ..."
"... I do not believe what I mean by globalisation is progressive at all. It has been pushed by the most reactionary political forces in western societies as an integral part of what the WSWS calls a social counter revolution. As the WSWS again points out it makes the preservation of national welfare states or a decent standard of living for working class people impossible. I am not calling for this to be reversed under capitalism. ..."
"... "...globalised production is the exploitation of lower wage rates in developing countries." ..."
"... As if domestic production were not the same thing. The author is essentially arguing for "lesser evil" exploitation in the interests of society as a whole. Reformists always do. ..."
"... "The crisis also exposed in full glare another of the central myths of the capitalist order -- that the state is somehow a neutral or independent organisation committed to regulating social and economic affairs in the interests of society as a whole." - Ten years since the collapse of Lehman Brothers ..."
"... "Keynes was a reformist and capable of formulating policies which, if followed, would make capitalism more amenable to the interests of the majority of people." ..."
"... The most important theoretical source of his thinking is his own work "The General Theory of Employment, Money and Interest" which is available to read or download free online. ..."
"... The US wants to reinforce it's declining global hegemonic position at any cost. Now they started with economic war against countries they see as not cooperating to their demands, but under current conditions this could easily transform into Global war at some point in future. ..."
In the aftermath of the global financial crisis ten years ago, the leaders of the world's
major powers pledged that never again would they go down the road of protectionism which had
such disastrous consequences in the 1930s -- deepening the Great Depression and contributing
to the outbreak of world war in 1939.
Yesterday US President Donald Trump announced tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese
goods in what the Washington Post described as "one of the most severe economic
restrictions ever imposed by a US president."
A levy of 10 percent will be imposed starting from September 24 and will be escalated to
25 percent in 2019 if the US does not receive what it considers to be a satisfactory
agreement. The new tariffs, which will cover more than 1,000 goods, come on top of the 25
percent tariff already imposed on $50 billion worth of industrial products. Trump has
threatened further measures on the remaining Chinese exports to the US totalling more than
China has threatened retaliatory action including tariffs and other, as yet unspecified
measures, against the US, meaning that the world's number one and number two economies are
locked into a rapidly escalating trade war that will have global consequences.
Announcing the decision, Trump called on China to take "swift action" to end what he
called its "unfair trade practices" and expressed the hope that the trade conflict would be
But there is little prospect of such an outcome because, while the US is demanding that
the trade deficit with China be reduced, the conflict does not merely centre on that issue.
China has made offers to increase its imports from the US, all of which have been rejected.
The key US demand is that the Chinese government completely abandon its program of economic
development and remain subservient to the US in high-tech economic sectors.
As the position paper issued by Washington in May put it: "China will cease providing
market-distorting subsidies and other types of government support that can contribute to the
creation or maintenance of excess capacity in industries targeted by the Made in China 2025
In other words, China must completely scrap the foundational structures of its economy so
that it presents no threat to the economic dominance of US capitalism, a dominance which the
US intends to maintain, if it considers necessary, by military means. This was made clear
earlier this year when Washington designated China as a "strategic competitor," that is, a
potential military enemy. This is the inherent, objective, logic of the latest trade war
Their full significance can only be grasped when viewed with the framework of the
historical development of the global capitalist economy.
After the disastrous decade of the 1930s, and as the world plunged into war, leading
figures within the Roosevelt administration recognised that this situation was due in no
small measure to the division of the world into rival trade and economic blocs which tariff
and other trade restrictions had played a major role in creating.
Post-war planning centred on trying to overcome this contradiction between the global
economy and its division into rival great powers and blocs through the development of a
mechanism that ensured the expansion of world trade. This was the basis of the series of
measures set in place in the immediate aftermath of the war: the Bretton Woods monetary
system which tied major currencies to the dollar in fixed exchange rates, the General
Agreement on Tariffs and Trade that sought to bring down tariff barriers and the
establishment of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to ensure international
These measures, however, did not overcome the inherent contradictions of capitalism, above
all between the global economy and the nation-state system. Rather, they sought to contain
and mitigate them within a system based on the overwhelming economic dominance of the US.
But the growth of the world capitalist economy and the strengthening of the other major
powers undermined the very foundations on which they were based -- the absolute dominance of
the US. Within the space of a generation, the weakening of the US position was revealed in
August 1971 when it scrapped the Bretton Woods monetary system declaring that the dollar
would no longer be redeemable for gold.
The period since then has seen the ongoing weakening of the position of the US, which was
graphically revealed in the financial meltdown ten years ago when the US financial system was
shown to be a house of cards based on rampant speculation and outright criminal activity.
This situation has continued in the subsequent decade, threatening, another, even more
disastrous, financial crisis.
The US is now not only confronted with the economic power of its European rivals but a
major new one in the form of China. It is striving to reverse this situation. As Leon Trotsky
explained some eighty years ago, the hegemony of the US would assert itself most powerfully
not in conditions of boom but above all in a crisis when it would use every means -- economic
and military -- against all rivals to maintain its position.
The trade war measures against China are only one expression of this process. The US has
already carried out protectionist measures against Europe and Japan through the imposition of
tariffs on steel and aluminium and has threatened tariffs on cars and auto parts, which will
be invoked unless they join its push on China.
And as the China tariffs are imposed, top officials of the European Union are meeting to
discuss how they might overcome the financial sanctions the US will impose against European
companies if they maintain economic ties with Iran after November 4 following the unilateral
abrogation of the Iran nuclear deal.
The deal was not overturned because Iran had breached the agreement -- international
agencies found that it had fully complied. Rather, the United States unilaterally abrogated
the treaty in order to strengthen the strategic position of the US in the Middle East by
countering the influence of Iran, and because European corporations stood to benefit from the
opening up of new economic opportunities in that country at the expense of their US
Now the State Department has warned that European companies are "on the railroad tracks"
if they defy US sanctions and firms that deal with the "enemy" will be barred from access to
the US financial system.
Writing in the 1930s, Leon Trotsky explained that the interdependence of every country in
the global economy meant that the program of economic nationalism, of the kind now being
practised by the Trump administration, was a reactionary "utopia" insofar as it set itself
the task of harmonious national economic development on the basis of private property.
"But it is a menacing reality insofar as it is a question of concentrating all the
economic forces of the nation for the preparation of a new war," he wrote five years before
the outbreak of World War II.
This "menacing reality" is now once again expressed in the fact that the trade war
measures against China, as well as those against Europe and Japan, have all been invoked on
"national security" grounds. Just as the US prepares for war, so too do all the other major
powers. This drive does not arise from the heads of the capitalist politicians -- their
actions are only the translation into politics of the objective logic and irresolvable
contradictions of the capitalist system over which they preside.
But there is another more powerful logic at work. The very development of globalised
production, which has raised the contradiction of the outmoded nation-state system with its
rival great powers to a new peak of intensity, has laid the foundations for a planned world
socialist economy. And it has created in the international working class, unified at an
unprecedented level, the social force to carry it out.
The latest Trump trade war measures underscore the urgency for the political and
theoretical arming of the working class with the program of world socialist revolution,
fought for by the International Committee of the Fourth International, if civilisation is to
go forward and the plunge into barbarism averted.
Beams excellent piece included:
"As the position paper issued by Washington in May put it: "China will
cease providing market-distorting subsidies and other types of government support that can
contribute to the creation or maintenance of excess capacity in industries targeted by the
Made in China 2025 industrial plan."
This issue of "government support" in China is reflected in the U.S. but in a different
way. Nashville and Tennessee governments alone have given hundreds of millions of dollars
in "tax incentives," payment for worker training and outright "grants" to corporations in
Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) got millions for, of all things, furniture for new
offices which included thousands of dollars for a guitar-shaped table.
Gaylord's Opryland Resort got almost $14 million from the city to build a $90 million hotel
Waterpark that would only be open to hotel guests!
The state and its capitol are prepared to give Amazon more than $1.5 billion to have the
corporation move is second U.S. headquarters here.
Like the Chinese government and oligarchs, neither state nor city will reveal the details
or total amount.
As the WSWS has so correctly observed before, "the hypocrisy is breathtaking."
I should say I do not agree that globalised production is a beneficial or positive economic
development. I accept that as a by product there is a positive political result namely the
creation and expansion of the international working class. But the only reason for
globalised production is the exploitation of lower wage rates in developing countries. If
the cost of labour, taking into account currency exchange rates as well as wage levels,
were the same in every country and region, there would be no advantage in producing most
commodities in Asia for sale in North America or Europe (or vice versa). Also, I do not
accept that free trade is in everyone's interest. The only argument ever advanced in it's
favour by economists, the comparative advantage argument, is spurious. Even its
originators, Adam Smith and David Ricardo, accepted that the benefits would only apply if
capital was immobile across national boundaries, which hardly applies today. The US
economy's industrial growth, though the result of several factors, was only possible
because the US rejected free trade in favour of protective tariffs which protected its
infant industries from foreign competition. What is the central fallacy in the comparative
advantage argument is that the prosperity of the majority of a country's citizens under
capitalism depends on a strong, capital intensive, manufacturing sector, but which also
requires a large labour input. Only those jobs can pay a sufficiently high wage to workers.
Their spending power also invigorates the whole economy.
Thy major point about this issue global or local is often completely missed namely that
this dispute have nothing to do with Workers Socialist Revolution but to perhaps see ways
how to save capitalism in a way of sharing more wealth with working class, how to suppress
class struggle with Bread and Games or War, an old Roman method of divide and conquer.
Hence, capital controls, tarrifs , barriers, subsidies are instruments of having any
possibility of real social policies in capitalism system making it more livable and longer
lasting than in case of intensified pressure on working class and class struggle of
globalism versus nationalism.
Popularity of National Socialism in capitalist country like Germany was exactly due
to that process of corruption of working class who embassy stoped to question system as
long as provided them with goods.
Little did they know, that they were in 1930 confronted with no permanent political
solution to their class issues via improvement of standard of living and importance of
their labor on the propaganda spectrum,but with dead end politics of submission to one
political sellouts or another since their forced unity was just subordinated to capitalist
imperative of ufettered economic and military growth via extreme exploitation.
And that is what's wrong with nationalism namely it is shutting down paths of class
struggle toward class liberation, as it neuters this struggle.
There is a difference between the growth of global productive capacity and globalisation.
Prior to the latter process, manufacturing capacity was increased including by western
investment in developing countries, especially in Latin America. But production in those
countries was for local regional and national markets.
The US accepted competition from the German economy as a price to be paid for avoiding
the postwar threat of socialism. But the Japanese export driven model of growth was
eventually unacceptable. The US demanded the Japanese destroy this model by raising their
own currency to a level which made their exports much less competitive. The Japanese rich
were given financial opportunities in the US as compensation.
However, when the South Koreans and other nations copied the Japanese model, the US
government and US multinationals radically changed their economic policy. A conscious
choice was made by the Reagon administration to export manufacturing jobs en masse to
developing countries as well as attacking the incomes of US workers who had jobs.
Henceforth, most goods manufactured for US consumption were to be produced abroad,
from Mexico to China. Once US based multinationals started down this road, European and
even Japanese ones followed. This did not mean an increase in productive forces but a
substitution of one labour force for another.
Thus the rise of Chinese industry was as much a part of this process as the
deindustrialisation of formerly prosperous parts of the US and the UK. This has nothing to
do with the evolution of our species and everything to do with the evolution of capitalism.
This is what I mean by globalisation.
It has not eradicated national borders but is a major factor in the recent
development of far right nationalism in Europe. It is a strong contributor to the
restructuring of western economies so that only a minority of British workers have full
time permanent jobs. It is also used as leverage to drive down wages in western
Of course in recent years the Chinese and Indian economies have grown under these
policies so that there is now an increase of global capacity. Nor do I believe this process
has led to a genuinely more efficient system of production and distribution. To produce
products in one part of the world for distribution to another part half way around the
world is very inefficient, if the product could be made nearer to the point where it would
be used. It however becomes profitable if the labour used to produce it is much cheaper
than that available where the the object is to be sold.
I do not believe what I mean by globalisation is progressive at all. It has been
pushed by the most reactionary political forces in western societies as an integral part of
what the WSWS calls a social counter revolution. As the WSWS again points out it makes the
preservation of national welfare states or a decent standard of living for working class
people impossible. I am not calling for this to be reversed under capitalism.
That seems impossible. Only the overthrow of capitalism offers the possibility of
positive change. But under international socialism, globalised production chains will
finally be seen for what they are, an unnecessary and inefficient encumbrance on
I think you are largely confusing globalisation with imperialism. I think you are also
misunderstanding the wsws position. The wsws does not call for xenophobic or nationalist
policies to close borders and keep workers imprisoned in their home countries to be used as
a captive labor force by the domestic bourgeoisie. The wsws calls for an internationalist
and proletarian socialist movement in conformity with that advocated by the workers
movement ever since the publication of the communist manifesto.
I really could not care less what you call it. I just want people to start treating each
other better. What makes those with sticky fingers think that they are so G.D. better than
everyone else that they can condemn whole segments to poverty and even death, all for the
sake of their bits of imaginary ego-boosts?
ALL of the "isms" in the world have never worked out a justification for greed and the
lust for power. No matter what the system, crooked people always try to exploit others, and
blamejustify it all on their "good genes". (edited)
Capitalism is no better or worse because it just doesn't matter what the system is, the
crooks will always cheat that system to get more than everyone else.
An interesting theory to describe what is essentially creation of a world customs union
based on the model that created Germany in 1871, the Zollverein. Spreading the customs
union (Zollverein) worldwide was the reason for the two world wars--instead of maintaining
a world federation politically and economically. The United Nations was designed to be a
federation, but under post-1945 changes in the USA and subsequent pressures on the UN and
its member states, it began developing into a union, not a federation. This was accompanied
with creation of a global Zollverein, tariff free borders and free trade.
The difference politically between a union and a federation is that in a federation the
member states award limited operating powers to a central coordinating body which does what
the members want; in a union the central body holds all the powers and tells the members
what to do.
The United Nations "holds all the powers and tells the members what to do" ? That's news to
me. As far as I can tell, the members do what they damn well please. The UN is more like a
fractured federation with a nearly impotent central body - the so-called "Security Council"
- which issues edicts but has no enforcement power. Same with the World Court.
The UN was designed by the victors of WWII to be "crippled", mere window-dressing as a
calming salve for the developing nations. From the start, it was meant to be largely
ineffective as the world's policeman and justice system .
All the nation states with any significant power are still more interested in preserving
as much their own power and hegemonic control as possible.
"...globalised production is the exploitation of lower wage rates in developing
As if domestic production were not the same thing. The author is essentially arguing
for "lesser evil" exploitation in the interests of society as a whole. Reformists always
"The crisis also exposed in full glare another of the central myths of the
capitalist order -- that the state is somehow a neutral or independent organisation
committed to regulating social and economic affairs in the interests of society as a
whole." - Ten years since the collapse of Lehman Brothers
"However my fundamental advocacy of policy would be that of international socialism the
result of which would be the handing of power to the working class to be exercised
The "handing of power" from whom exactly?
As it is now, the minority holds the power. So it's reasonable to think you mean they
would hand the power over to the majority.
Which would be silly. But whether or not that was your meaning, "the handing of power to
the working class to be exercised democratically" besides being exactly backwards, is an
opportunist "understanding" of Marxism. It implies a perspective where the state does not
need to be destroyed.
"The crucial question for Marx was what was the social material force -- the class --
created by capitalist society itself, which would be the agency, the driving force, of this
transformation." - A promotion of the "life-style" politics of the pseudo-left
It's a version of the frequently and historically repeated goal of replacing one petty
bourgeoisie minority with another, betraying the material interests of the working class
and the revolution every time.
It seems like you might have just mentioned that phrase as an aside but it might
indicate the deeper problem.
Before you start analyzing which policies might be recommended (which seems to be mainly
what interests you) you have to understand the class nature of the problem. That doesn't
come down only to understanding that there are two classes in struggle in society
and then applying your everyday petty bourgeois thinking to it.
Have you read David North's Lenin, Trotsky and the Marxism of the October
Revolution ? It was written back in March yet it's still posted on the wsws main
page--for a reason.
It provides a concise explanation of some of the fundamental ideas and way of thinking
you have to understand if you want to have any kind of intelligent conversation
Nick Beams did not say that "globalised production chains employed represent a genuinely
beneficial development in some deep sense." He said that such an outcome is impossible
under capitalism and the system of competing nation-states.
The only "deep sense" is that he said it would be possible for globalization to
have a positive effect for humanity if the international working class were able to abolish
capitalism, the pursuit of private profit, warring nation-states, and institute
Thank you comrade Nick Beams. US's century is 20th and a bygone one. You finely point out
on the basis of Trotskysm the mortal danger that humanity faces resulting from the
inter-imperialist rivalry that is escalating by the day.
Besides, the US's taking up of its rival China, the second biggest economy, in trade war
pose a military confrontation to which Russia could be attracted on to China side.
Also Russia has been taken up by American imperialism independently as a target. Brexit
hard or soft would also confound economic nationalism that is gathering momentum hugely. US
sanctions on Iran is bound to sharpen the conflict between European imperialists. Also
India appears to be in crisis on whether to abide by US dictats as per its Iranian economic
connection especially on oil purchase. US's increasing protectionism has already gone out
of control as per its implications to global polity and military activity. In view of this
critical situation the role of the working class, national and international, should
determine the future of humanity. Role of the revolutionary triumvirate, ICFI/SEP/IYSSE, is
of paramount importance. I appeal to national working classes to build SEP as your national
party of the socialist revolution. I appeal to youth and students to build your national
chapters of the IYSSE in schools, universities etc. as quickly as possible. World war is
haunting. Very existannce of the humanity on this palnet is uncertain, if we unitedly as
workers, youth and students fail to empower the party of the world revolution, ICFI.
Victory to international socialist revolution. Death to protectionism whose major advocate
is US capitalism/imperialism. Down with the psudo left and the trade unions.
Keynes, who designed the Bretton Woods system, also proposed an international banking
system and currency (called the Bancor). The purpose was to prevent the kind of unbalanced
world trade which now dominates the global economy. Under his proposed system, countries
with chronic trade surpluses would be penalised, thus preventing a situation like the
present with some nations being massive exporters and others massive importers. Instead,
all countries would hover around balanced trade where their imports equaled their exports
in value. The US government told Keynes to shut up about this plan or they would cancel
their promised postwar loans to the UK. The reason was that at the time the US planned to
be a net exporter. Incidentally, Keynes warned that if the system of managed currency
exchange rates were abandoned, the financial markets would become a "virtual senate" which
would have the power to dictate economic policies to nation states.
"Keynes, who designed the Bretton Woods system, also proposed an international banking
system and currency (called the Bancor). The purpose was to prevent the kind of
unbalanced world trade which now dominates the global economy."
Perpetually caught in a "lesser evil" loop of some variety or another from which the
reformist never escapes, applying the same failed (ruling class) logic over, and over and
over and over...
"But this solves nothing because, as Marx's analysis showed, the crises of capitalism
cannot be overcome by reforms to the monetary system because, while they necessarily
express themselves there, they were rooted in the very foundations of the capitalist
economy, in its DNA so to speak -- that is, in the social relations based on profit and the
market system." -Ten years after Lehman: New financial crises in the making
Keynes' suggestion would have "solved" or rather prevented one problem, but not every
problem of capitalism. Keynes was a reformist and capable of formulating policies which, if
followed, would make capitalism more amenable to the interests of the majority of people.
He was consciously trying to save capitalism from itself and said so. But you rightly
point out there is a major problem with this thinking, namely that it ignores the self
interest of governments and capitalists alike, who ignore such concepts of "enlightened"
self interest in favour of short term advantage.
Political reality intruded in Keynes' well-intentioned designs immediately as I've
mentioned and the whole Bretton Woods edifice was knocked down as soon as it proved
inconvenient for US interests.
Similarly, I strongly suspect Keynes would have disapproved of financial deregulation,
but the underlying development of US capitalism led to unstoppable political pressure for
"Keynes was a reformist and capable of formulating policies which, if followed, would
make capitalism more amenable to the interests of the majority of people."
For the life of me I can't figure why you'd praise a policy that more effectively
persuades or controls the masses to their own detriment and to the economic benefit of a
minority--other than to conclude that like Keynes and the rest of the petty bourgeoisie,
you're a reformist.