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Casino Capitalism: Neoliberalism in Western countries

"When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done"

John Maynard Keynes

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Financialization is a process whereby financial markets, financial institutions, and financial elites gain greater influence over economic policy and economic outcomes. Financialization transforms the functioning of economic systems at both the macro and micro levels.

Its principal impacts are to (1) elevate the significance of the financial sector relative to the real sector, (2) transfer income from the real sector to the financial sector, and (3) increase income inequality and contribute to wage stagnation. Additionally, there are reasons to believe that financialization may put the economy at risk of debt deflation and prolonged recession.

Financialization operates through three different conduits: changes in the structure and operation of financial markets, changes in the behavior of nonfinancial corporations, and changes in economic policy.

Countering financialization calls for a multifaceted agenda that (1) restores policy control over financial markets, (2) challenges the neoliberal economic policy paradigm encouraged by financialization, (3) makes corporations responsive to interests of stakeholders other than just financial markets, and (4) reforms the political process so as to diminish the influence of corporations and wealthy elites.

Thomas Palley, See

Speculation and gambling were always a part of Wall Street but since the 1930’s they were just a side-show, now they are the show.

Comment to Matt Taibbi article Fannie, Freddie, and the New Red and Blue t


“The sense of responsibility in the financial community
for the community as a whole is not small. It is nearly nil.”

-- John Kenneth Galbraith, The Great Crash of 1929

The term Casino Capitalism as a specific phase of neoliberal transformation of capitalism. Politically it was slow motion corporate coup d'état, which started in 70th and is now accomplished in the USA and other Western countries which buries social-democratic (New Deal style) model of capitalism.  It hypertrophied police functions of state (in the form of national-security state)  while completely avoiding economic sphere in ways other then enforcement of laws (with a notable exclusion from this top 1% -- Masters of the Universe). In this sense it is the opposite of communism (i.e. an entirely state-planned economy) and presupposed a deregulated economy (in a sense of the "law of jungle" as a business environment) , but with extremely strong militarized state, suppressing all the attempts to challenge the new "nomenklatura" (much like was the case in the USSR).  It is also called economic liberalism or neoliberalism

“Liberalism” can refer to political, economic, or even religious ideas. In the U.S. political liberalism has been a strategy to prevent social conflict. It is presented to poor and working people as progressive compared to conservative or Right wing. Economic liberalism is different. Conservative politicians who say they hate “liberals” — meaning the political type — have no real problem with economic liberalism, including neoliberalism.

In other words this is a variant of neoliberal model of corporatism used in wealthy Western countries during the period of "cheap hydrocarbons".  The period that is probably near the end and which by some estimate can last only another 50 years or so.  The major crisis of casino capitalism in 2008 was connected both with financial excesses (caused by moving to semi-criminal ways of extracting return on capital, typical for casino capitalism),  but also with the rise of the price of oil and decrease of  Energy returned on energy invested (EROEI)In this sense the current low oil price period that started in late 2014 can be viewed as the "last hurrah" of the casino capitalism.

In understanding neoliberal transformation of the society since early 80th it is important to understanding of the key role of financialization in this process. When major services are privatized (education, healthcare, pension plans) financial institution insert themselves as intermediaries in this arrangement and make it the main source of their profits.  Also contrary to neoliberal propaganda this process is aided and abetted by state. State is used by neoliberalism as a tool of enforcing market relations even where they are not useless or even harmful (education). All this talk about irresolvable controversy between market and state is for gullible fools. In reality, being Trotskyism for rich, neoliberalism uses power of the state to enforce market relations  by force on reluctant population even in areas where this can do no good. That make really it close to Soviet Communism. As Marx noted "History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce."

A very good discussion of the role of Financialisation in entrenchment of neoliberalism in modern societies can be found in the book by Costas Lapavitsas. Some highlights are provided inhis Guardian article Finance's hold on our everyday life must be broken

This extraordinary public largesse towards private banks was matched by austerity and wage reductions for workers and households. As for restructuring finance, nothing fundamental has taken place. The behemoths that continue to dominate the global financial system operate in the knowledge that they enjoy an unspoken public guarantee. The unpalatable reality is that financialisation will persist, despite its costs for society.

Financialisation represents a historic and deep-seated transformation of mature capitalism. Big businesses have become "financialised" as they have ample profits to finance investment, rely less on banks for loans and play financial games with available funds. Big banks, in turn, have become more distant from big businesses, turning to profits from trading in open financial markets and from lending to households. Households have become "financialised" too, as public provision in housing, education, health, pensions and other vital areas has been partly replaced by private provision, access to which is mediated by the financial system. Not surprisingly, households have accumulated a tremendous volume of financial assets and liabilities over the past four decades.

The penetration of finance into the everyday life of households has not only created a range of dependencies on financial services, but also changed the outlook, mentality and even morality of daily life. Financial calculation evaluates everything in pennies and pounds, transforming the most basic goods – above all, housing – into "investments". Its logic has affected even the young, who have traditionally been idealistic and scornful of pecuniary calculation. Fertile ground has been created for neoliberal ideology to preach the putative merits of the market.

Financialisation has also created new forms of profit associated with financial markets and transactions. Financial profit can be made out of any income, or any sum of money that comes into contact with the financial sphere. Households, for example, generate profits for finance as debtors (mostly by paying interest on mortgages) but also as creditors (mostly by paying fees and charges on pension funds and insurance). Finance is not particular about how and where it makes its profits, and certainly does not limit itself to the sphere of production. It ranges far and wide, transforming every aspect of social life into a profit-making opportunity.

The traditional image of the person earning financial profits is the "rentier", the individual who invests funds in secure financial assets. In the contemporary financialised universe, however, those who earn vast returns are very different. They are often located within a financial institution, presumably work to provide financial services, and receive vast sums in the form of wages, or more often bonuses. Modern financial elites are prominent at the top of the income distribution, set trends in conspicuous consumption, shape the expensive end of the housing market, and transform the core of urban centres according to their own tastes.

Financialised capitalism is, thus, a deeply unequal system, prone to bubbles and crises – none greater than that of 2007-09. What can be done about it? The most important point in this respect is that financialisation does not represent an advance for humanity, and very little of it ought to be preserved. Financial markets are, for instance, able to mobilise advanced technology employing some of the best-trained physicists in the world to rebalance prices across the globe in milliseconds. This "progress" allows financiers to earn vast profits; but where is the commensurate benefit to society from committing such expensive resources to these tasks?

The term "casino capitalism" was coined by Susan Strange who used it as a title of her book Casino Capitalism published in 1986. She was one of the first who realized that

  1. "The roots of the world's economic disorder are monetary and financial";
  2. "The disorder has not come about by accident, but has in fact been nurtured and encouraged by a series of government decisions." (p. 60). In other words its was a counter-revolution of the part of ruling elite which lost its influence in 30th (dismantling New Deal from above in the USA (Reaganomics) or Thatcherism in the GB).

According to Susan Strange transformation of industrial capitalism into neoliberal capitalism ("casino capitalism") involved five trends. All of them increased the systemic instability of the system and the level of political corruption:

  1. Innovations in the way in which financial markets work due to introduction of computers;
  2. The sheer size of markets; (with the introduction of 401K the size of stock market multiplied, etc)
  3. Commercial banks turned into investment banks;
  4. The emergence of Asian nations as large players;
  5. The shift to self-regulation by banks (pp.9-10).

Now it is pretty much established fact that the conversion from "industrial capitalism" to neoliberal, completely financialialized "casino capitalism" is the natural logic of development of capitalism. In early and incomplete matter this trend was noticed at early 1990th by many thinkers. This is just the second iteration of the same trend which was interrupted by the Great Depression and subsequent WWII. So, in a way, replacement of industrial capitalism with financial capitalism in a natural tendency within the capitalism itself and corruption was contributing, but not decisive factor.  The same is true about globalization, especially about globalization of financial flows, typical for casino capitalism.

Also this conversion did not happen due to lack of oversight or as a folly. It was a couscous choice made by the US and GB elite, both of which faced deterioration of rates of return on capital. Also unlike "industrial capitalism" which was more-or-less stable system, able to outcompete the neo-theocratic system of the USSR, the financial capitalism is unstable in the same sense as radioactive elements are unstable.  And this instability tend to increase with time. So there is probably natural half-life period for neoliberalism as a social system. It might be already reached in 2008.  In we assume that global victory of neoliberalism happened in 1990. It is just 18 years.  If we think that it happened in late 60th, then it is closer to 50 years.

The global crisis of neoliberal capitalism which started from bursting the USA subprime housing bubble in 2008 undermined ideological legitimacy of its central claim that "free markets" lead to faster and more uniform economic development of all countries. While the peak of its "ideological" power might be over (much like the peak of attractiveness of "command socialism" was over after WWII), it will exist in a zombie state for a long time due to economic and military power of the USA and G7.  And as we know from Hollywood films, zombies can be especially bloodthirsty. It probably will remain the dominant force for at least the next two decades pursuing the same policy of "forceful" opening of energy rich  and resource countries for western multinationals intact using color revolutions and local wars.  But as Napoleon quipped "You can do anything with bayonets, you just can't sit on them".

Conversion to neoliberal capitalism was a reaction on stagnation of industrial production and as such it was nurtured and encouraged by a series of government decisions for the last 50 years. Stagnation of industrial production made expansion of financial sector of paramount importance for the ruling elite and by extension for Congress which represents this elite. House vote 377:4 for Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000 is pretty telling in this respect.

There were also at least two important parallel developments.

Most respectable authors like Henry Giroux in his article in Counterpunch generally consider the term "casino capitalism" to be an equivalent to the term Neoliberalism. Here is a relevant quote from Henry Giroux's Authoritarian Politics in the Age of Casino Capitalism :

There is more at work here than simply a ramped up version of social Darwinism with its savagely cruel ethic of “reward the rich, penalize the poor, [and] let everyone fend for themselves,” [ii] there is also a full scale attack on the social contract, the welfare state, economic equality, and any viable vestige of moral and social responsibility. The Romney-Ryan appropriation of Ayn Rand’s ode to selfishness and self-interest is of particular importance because it offers a glimpse of a ruthless form of extreme capitalism in which the poor are considered “moochers,” viewed with contempt, and singled out to be punished. But this theocratic economic fundamentalist ideology does more. It destroys any viable notion of the and civic virtue in which the social contract and common good provide the basis for creating meaningful social bonds and instilling in citizens a sense of social and civic responsibility. The idea of public service is viewed with disdain just as the work of individuals, social groups, and institutions that benefit the citizenry at large are held in contempt.

As George Lakoff and Glenn W. Smith point out, casino capitalism creates a culture of cruelty: “its horrific effects on individuals-death, illness, suffering, greater poverty, and loss of opportunity, productive lives, and money.”[iii]

But it does more by crushing any viable notion of the common good and public life by destroying “the bonds that hold us together.”[iv] Under casino capitalism, the spaces, institutions, and values that constitute the public are now surrendered to powerful financial forces and viewed simply as another market to be commodified, privatized and surrendered to the demands of capital. With religious and market-driven zealots in charge, politics becomes an extension of war; greed and self-interest trump any concern for the well-being of others; reason is trumped by emotions rooted in absolutist certainty and militaristic aggression; and skepticism and dissent are viewed as the work of Satan.

If the Republican candidacy race of 2012 is any indication, then political discourse in the United States has not only moved to the right—it has been introducing totalitarian values and ideals into the mainstream of public life. Religious fanaticism, consumer culture, and the warfare state work in tandem with neoliberal economic forces to encourage privatization, corporate tax breaks, growing income and wealth inequality, and the further merging of the financial and military spheres in ways that diminish the authority and power of democratic governance.[v] Neoliberal interests in freeing markets from social constraints, fueling competitiveness, destroying education systems, producing atomized subjects, and loosening individuals from any sense of social responsibility prepare the populace for a slow embrace of social Darwinism, state terrorism, and the mentality of war — not least of all by destroying communal bonds, dehumanizing the other, and pitting individuals against the communities they inhabit.

Totalitarian temptations now saturate the media and larger culture in the language of austerity as political and economic orthodoxy. What we are witnessing in the United States is the normalization of a politics that exterminates not only the welfare state, and the truth, but all those others who bear the sins of the Enlightenment — that is, those who refuse a life free from doubt. Reason and freedom have become enemies not merely to be mocked, but to be destroyed. And this is a war whose totalitarian tendencies are evident in the assault on science, immigrants, women, the elderly, the poor, people of color, and youth.

What too often goes unsaid, particularly with the media’s focus on inflammatory rhetoric, is that those who dominate politics and policymaking, whether Democrats or Republicans, do so largely because of their disproportionate control of the nation’s income and wealth. Increasingly, it appears these political elite choose to act in ways that sustain their dominance through the systemic reproduction of an iniquitous social order. In other words, big money and corporate power rule while electoral politics are rigged. The secrecy of the voting booth becomes the ultimate expression of democracy, reducing politics to an individualized purchase—a crude form of economic action. Any form of politics willing to invest in such ritualistic pageantry only adds to the current dysfunctional nature of our social order, while reinforcing a profound failure of political imagination. The issue should no longer be how to work within the current electoral system, but how to dismantle it and construct a new political landscape that is capable of making a claim on equity, justice, and democracy for all of its inhabitants. Obama’s once inspiring call for hope has degenerated into a flight from responsibility.

The Obama administration has worked to extend the policies of the George W. Bush administration by legitimating a range of foreign and domestic policies that have shredded civil liberties, expanded the permanent warfare state, and increased the domestic reach of the punitive surveillance state. And if Romney and his ideological cohorts, now viewed as the most extremists faction of the Republican Party, come to power, surely the existing totalitarian and anti-democratic tendencies at work in the United States will be dangerously intensified.


Alternatively, we could have spent more time studying the work of Hyman Minsky. We could also have considered the possibility that, just as Keynes’s ideas were tested to destruction in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, Milton Friedman’s ideas might suffer a similar fate in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s. All gods fail, if one believes too much. Keynes said, of course, that "practical men … are usually the slaves of some defunct economist". So, of course, are economists, even if the defunct economists are sometimes still alive.

Martin Wolf




Casino capitalism  is a nickname for nailibelism. Probably more properly nickname would be  financial corporatism. While the key idea of corporatism: that political actors are not individual people, but some associations and first of all corporations (which are officially considered to be "persons" and have rights as well as trade unions and some other associations) remains intact, financial corporatism is different from classic corporatism in several major ways:

Historically corporatism in various modifications became dominant social system after WWII and defeated "command socialism" as was implemented in the USSR. Here is an instructive review of corporatism history (The Economic System of Corporatism):

In the last half of the 19th century people of the working class in Europe were beginning to show interest in the ideas of socialism and syndicalism. Some members of the intelligentsia, particularly the Catholic intelligentsia, decided to formulate an alternative to socialism which would emphasize social justice without the radical solution of the abolition of private property. The result was called Corporatism. The name had nothing to do with the notion of a business corporation except that both words are derived from the Latin word for body, corpus.

The basic idea of corporatism is that the society and economy of a country should be organized into major interest groups (sometimes called corporations) and representatives of those interest groups settle any problems through negotiation and joint agreement. In contrast to a market economy which operates through competition a corporate economic works through collective bargaining. The American president Lyndon Johnson had a favorite phrase that reflected the spirit of corporatism. He would gather the parties to some dispute and say, "Let us reason together."

Under corporatism the labor force and management in an industry belong to an industrial organization. The representatives of labor and management settle wage issues through collective negotiation. While this was the theory in practice the corporatist states were largely ruled according to the dictates of the supreme leader.

One early and important theorist of corporatism was Adam Müller, an advisor to Prince Metternich in what is now eastern Germany and Austria. Müller propounded his views as an antidote to the twin dangers of the egalitarianism of the French Revolution and the laissez faire economics of Adam Smith. In Germany and elsewhere there was a distinct aversion among rulers to allow markets to function without direction or control by the state. The general culture heritage of Europe from the medieval era was opposed to individual self-interest and the free operation of markets. Markets and private property were acceptable only as long as social regulation took precedence over such sinful motivations as greed.

Coupled with the anti-market sentiments of the medieval culture there was the notion that the rulers of the state had a vital role in promoting social justice. Thus corporatism was formulated as a system that emphasized the positive role of the state in guaranteeing social justice and suppressing the moral and social chaos of the population pursuing their own individual self-interests. And above all else, as a political economic philosophy corporatism was flexible. It could tolerate private enterprise within limits and justify major projects of the state. Corporatism has sometimes been labeled as a Third Way or a mixed economy, a synthesis of capitalism and socialism, but it is in fact a separate, distinctive political economic system.

Although rulers have probably operated according to the principles of corporatism from time immemorial it was only in the early twentieth century that regimes began to identify themselves as corporatist. The table below gives some of those explicitly corporatist regimes.

Corporatist Regimes of the Early Twentieth Century
System Name Country Period Leader
National Corporatism Italy 1922-1945 Benito Mussolini
Country, Religion, Monarchy Spain 1923-1930 Miguel Primo de Rivera
National Socialism Germany 1933-1945 Adolph Hitler
National Syndicalism Spain 1936-1973 Francisco Franco
New State Portugal 1932-1968 Antonio Salazar
New State Brazil 1933-1945 Getulio Vargas
New Deal United States 1933-1945 Franklin Roosevelt
Third Hellenic Civilization Greece 1936-1941 Ioannis Metaxas
Justice Party Argentina 1943-1955 Juan Peron

In the above table several of the regimes were brutal, totalitarian dictatorships, usually labeled fascist, but not all the regimes that had a corporatist foundation were fascist. In particular, the Roosevelt New Deal despite its many faults could not be described as fascist. But definitely the New Deal was corporatist. The architect for the initial New Deal program was General Hugh Johnson. Johnson had been the administrator of the military mobilization program for the U.S. under Woodrow Wilson during World War I. It was felt that he did a good job of managing the economy during that period and that is why he was given major responsibility for formulating an economic program to deal with the severe problems of the Depression. But between the end of World War I and 1933 Hugh Johnson had become an admirer of Mussolini's National Corporatist system in Italy and he drew upon the Italian experience in formulating the New Deal.

It should be noted that many elements of the early New Deal were later declared unconstitutional and abandoned, but some elements such as the National Labor Relations Act which promoted unionization of the American labor force are still in effect. One part of the New Deal was the development of the Tennessee River Valley under the public corporation called the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). Some of the New Dealer saw TVA as more than a public power enterprise. They hoped to make TVA a model for the creation of regional political units which would replace state governments. Their goal was not realized. The model for TVA was the river development schemes carried out in Spain in the 1920's under the government of Miguel Primo de Rivera. Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera, the son of Miguel Primo de Rivera, was the founder of Franco's National Syndicalism.

Corporatist regime typically promote large governmental projects such as TVA on the basis that they are too large to be funded by private enterprise. In Brazil the Vargas regime created many public enterprises such as in iron and steel production which it felt were needed but private enterprise declined to create. It also created an organized labor movement that came to control those public enterprises and turned them into overstaffed, inefficient drains on the public budget.

Although the above locates the origin of corporatism in 19th century France it roots can be traced much further back in time. Sylvia Ann Hewlett in her book, The Cruel Dilemmas of Development: Twentieth Century Brazil, says,

Corporatism is based on a body of ideas that can be traced through Aristotle, Roman law, medieval social and legal structures, and into contemporary Catholic social philosophy. These ideas are based on the premise that man's nature can only be fulfilled within a political community.
The central core of the corporatist vision is thus not the individual but the political community whose perfection allows the individual members to fulfill themselves and find happiness.
The state in the corporatist tradition is thus clearly interventionist and powerful.

Corporatism is collectivist; it is a different version of collectivism than socialism but it is definitely collectivist. It places some importance on the fact that private property is not nationalized, but the control through regulation is just as real. It is de facto nationalization without being de jure nationalization.

Although Corporatism is not a familiar concept to the general public, most of the economies of the world are corporatist in nature. The categories of socialist and pure market economy are virtually empty. There are only corporatist economies of various flavors.

These flavors of corporatism include the social democratic regimes of Europe and the Americas, but also the East Asian and Islamic fundamentalist regimes such as Taiwan, Singapore and Iran. The Islamic socialist states such as Syria, Libya and Algeria are more corporatist than socialist, as was Iraq under Saddam Hussain. The formerly communist regimes such as Russia and China are now clearly corporatist in economic philosophy although not in name.

The concept of Quite Coup

Sine ira et studio

Tacitus, see Wikipedia

The term "Quiet coup" which means the hijacking of the political power in the USA by financial oligarchy was introduced by Simon H. Johnson, a British-American economist, who currently is the Ronald A. Kurtz Professor of Entrepreneurship at the MIT Sloan School of Management and a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. From March 2007 through the end of August 2008, he was Chief Economist of the International Monetary Fund. The term was introduced in his article in Atlantic magazine, published in May 2009(The Quiet Coup - Simon Johnson - The Atlantic). Which opens with a revealing paragraph:

The crash has laid bare many unpleasant truths about the United States. One of the most alarming, says a former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, is that the finance industry has effectively captured our government

The wealth of financial sector gave it unprecedented opportunities of simply buying the political power iether directly or indirectly (via revolving door mechanism):

Becoming a Banana Republic

In its depth and suddenness, the U.S. economic and financial crisis is shockingly reminiscent of moments we have recently seen in emerging markets (and only in emerging markets): South Korea (1997), Malaysia (1998), Russia and Argentina (time and again). In each of those cases, global investors, afraid that the country or its financial sector wouldn’t be able to pay off mountainous debt, suddenly stopped lending. And in each case, that fear became self-fulfilling, as banks that couldn’t roll over their debt did, in fact, become unable to pay. This is precisely what drove Lehman Brothers into bankruptcy on September 15, causing all sources of funding to the U.S. financial sector to dry up overnight. Just as in emerging-market crises, the weakness in the banking system has quickly rippled out into the rest of the economy, causing a severe economic contraction and hardship for millions of people.

But there’s a deeper and more disturbing similarity: elite business interests—financiers, in the case of the U.S.—played a central role in creating the crisis, making ever-larger gambles, with the implicit backing of the government, until the inevitable collapse. More alarming, they are now using their influence to prevent precisely the sorts of reforms that are needed, and fast, to pull the economy out of its nosedive. The government seems helpless, or unwilling, to act against them.

Top investment bankers and government officials like to lay the blame for the current crisis on the lowering of U.S. interest rates after the dotcom bust or, even better—in a “buck stops somewhere else” sort of way—on the flow of savings out of China. Some on the right like to complain about Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, or even about longer-standing efforts to promote broader homeownership. And, of course, it is axiomatic to everyone that the regulators responsible for “safety and soundness” were fast asleep at the wheel.

But these various policies — lightweight regulation, cheap money, the unwritten Chinese-American economic alliance, the promotion of homeownership—had something in common. Even though some are traditionally associated with Democrats and some with Republicans, they all benefited the financial sector. Policy changes that might have forestalled the crisis but would have limited the financial sector’s profits — such as Brooksley Born’s now-famous attempts to regulate credit-default swaps at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, in 1998—were ignored or swept aside.

The financial industry has not always enjoyed such favored treatment. But for the past 25 years or so, finance has boomed, becoming ever more powerful. The boom began with the Reagan years, and it only gained strength with the deregulatory policies of the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations. Several other factors helped fuel the financial industry’s ascent. Paul Volcker’s monetary policy in the 1980s, and the increased volatility in interest rates that accompanied it, made bond trading much more lucrative. The invention of securitization, interest-rate swaps, and credit-default swaps greatly increased the volume of transactions that bankers could make money on. And an aging and increasingly wealthy population invested more and more money in securities, helped by the invention of the IRA and the 401(k) plan. Together, these developments vastly increased the profit opportunities in financial services.

Not surprisingly, Wall Street ran with these opportunities. From 1973 to 1985, the financial sector never earned more than 16 percent of domestic corporate profits. In 1986, that figure reached 19 percent. In the 1990s, it oscillated between 21 percent and 30 percent, higher than it had ever been in the postwar period. This decade, it reached 41 percent. Pay rose just as dramatically. From 1948 to 1982, average compensation in the financial sector ranged between 99 percent and 108 percent of the average for all domestic private industries. From 1983, it shot upward, reaching 181 percent in 2007.

The great wealth that the financial sector created and concentrated gave bankers enormous political weight — a weight not seen in the U.S. since the era of J.P. Morgan (the man). In that period, the banking panic of 1907 could be stopped only by coordination among private-sector bankers: no government entity was able to offer an effective response. But that first age of banking oligarchs came to an end with the passage of significant banking regulation in response to the Great Depression; the reemergence of an American financial oligarchy is quite recent.

He further researched this theme in his book 2010 book 13 Bankers The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown  (ISBN 978-0307379054), coauthored with James Kwak. They also founded and regularly contributes to the economics blog The Baseline Scenario. See also History of Casino Capitalism

The net effect of the ideological counter-revolution based on market fundamentalism ideology was that it restored the power of financial oligarchy typical for Gilded Age. As Simon Johnson argues that was partially done by subverting regulators and that oversize institutions always disproportionately influence public policy:

The second problem the U.S. faces—the power of the oligarchy—is just as important as the immediate crisis of lending. And the advice from the IMF on this front would again be simple: break the oligarchy.

Oversize institutions disproportionately influence public policy; the major banks we have today draw much of their power from being too big to fail. Nationalization and re-privatization would not change that; while the replacement of the bank executives who got us into this crisis would be just and sensible, ultimately, the swapping-out of one set of powerful managers for another would change only the names of the oligarchs.

Ideally, big banks should be sold in medium-size pieces, divided regionally or by type of business. Where this proves impractical—since we’ll want to sell the banks quickly—they could be sold whole, but with the requirement of being broken up within a short time. Banks that remain in private hands should also be subject to size limitations.

This may seem like a crude and arbitrary step, but it is the best way to limit the power of individual institutions in a sector that is essential to the economy as a whole. Of course, some people will complain about the "efficiency costs" of a more fragmented banking system, and these costs are real. But so are the costs when a bank that is too big to fail—a financial weapon of mass self-destruction—explodes. Anything that is too big to fail is too big to exist.

To ensure systematic bank breakup, and to prevent the eventual reemergence of dangerous behemoths, we also need to overhaul our antitrust legislation. Laws put in place more than 100years ago to combat industrial monopolies were not designed to address the problem we now face. The problem in the financial sector today is not that a given firm might have enough market share to influence prices; it is that one firm or a small set of interconnected firms, by failing, can bring down the economy. The Obama administration’s fiscal stimulus evokes FDR, but what we need to imitate here is Teddy Roosevelt’s trust-busting.

Caps on executive compensation, while redolent of populism, might help restore the political balance of power and deter the emergence of a new oligarchy. Wall Street’s main attraction—to the people who work there and to the government officials who were only too happy to bask in its reflected glory—has been the astounding amount of money that could be made. Limiting that money would reduce the allure of the financial sector and make it more like any other industry.

Still, outright pay caps are clumsy, especially in the long run. And most money is now made in largely unregulated private hedge funds and private-equity firms, so lowering pay would be complicated. Regulation and taxation should be part of the solution. Over time, though, the largest part may involve more transparency and competition, which would bring financial-industry fees down. To those who say this would drive financial activities to other countries, we can now safely say: fine.

Two Paths

To paraphrase Joseph Schumpeter, the early-20th-century economist, everyone has elites; the important thing is to change them from time to time. If the U.S. were just another country, coming to the IMF with hat in hand, I might be fairly optimistic about its future. Most of the emerging-market crises that I’ve mentioned ended relatively quickly, and gave way, for the most part, to relatively strong recoveries. But this, alas, brings us to the limit of the analogy between the U.S. and emerging markets.

Emerging-market countries have only a precarious hold on wealth, and are weaklings globally. When they get into trouble, they quite literally run out of money—or at least out of foreign currency, without which they cannot survive. They must make difficult decisions; ultimately, aggressive action is baked into the cake. But the U.S., of course, is the world’s most powerful nation, rich beyond measure, and blessed with the exorbitant privilege of paying its foreign debts in its own currency, which it can print. As a result, it could very well stumble along for years—as Japan did during its lost decade—never summoning the courage to do what it needs to do, and never really recovering. A clean break with the past—involving the takeover and cleanup of major banks—hardly looks like a sure thing right now. Certainly no one at the IMF can force it.

In my view, the U.S. faces two plausible scenarios. The first involves complicated bank-by-bank deals and a continual drumbeat of (repeated) bailouts, like the ones we saw in February with Citigroup and AIG. The administration will try to muddle through, and confusion will reign.

Boris Fyodorov, the late finance minister of Russia, struggled for much of the past 20 years against oligarchs, corruption, and abuse of authority in all its forms. He liked to say that confusion and chaos were very much in the interests of the powerful—letting them take things, legally and illegally, with impunity. When inflation is high, who can say what a piece of property is really worth? When the credit system is supported by byzantine government arrangements and backroom deals, how do you know that you aren’t being fleeced?

Our future could be one in which continued tumult feeds the looting of the financial system, and we talk more and more about exactly how our oligarchs became bandits and how the economy just can’t seem to get into gear.

The second scenario begins more bleakly, and might end that way too. But it does provide at least some hope that we’ll be shaken out of our torpor. It goes like this: the global economy continues to deteriorate, the banking system in east-central Europe collapses, and—because eastern Europe’s banks are mostly owned by western European banks—justifiable fears of government insolvency spread throughout the Continent. Creditors take further hits and confidence falls further. The Asian economies that export manufactured goods are devastated, and the commodity producers in Latin America and Africa are not much better off. A dramatic worsening of the global environment forces the U.S. economy, already staggering, down onto both knees. The baseline growth rates used in the administration’s current budget are increasingly seen as unrealistic, and the rosy "stress scenario" that the U.S. Treasury is currently using to evaluate banks’ balance sheets becomes a source of great embarrassment.

Under this kind of pressure, and faced with the prospect of a national and global collapse, minds may become more concentrated.

The conventional wisdom among the elite is still that the current slump "cannot be as bad as the Great Depression." This view is wrong. What we face now could, in fact, be worse than the Great Depression—because the world is now so much more interconnected and because the banking sector is now so big. We face a synchronized downturn in almost all countries, a weakening of confidence among individuals and firms, and major problems for government finances. If our leadership wakes up to the potential consequences, we may yet see dramatic action on the banking system and a breaking of the old elite. Let us hope it is not then too late.

It is pretty interesting to see how financial oligarchy filters information provided to the population to fit their biases. For example, the key facts about repeal of Glass-Steagall law  (BTW Joe Biden voted for it) mostly hidden from the public: 

Commodity Futures Trading Commission — under the leadership of Mr. Gramm’s wife, Wendy — had approved rules in 1989 and 1993 exempting some swaps and derivatives from regulation. In December 2000, the Commodity Futures Modernization Act was passed as part of a larger bill by unanimous consent after Senator Gramm dominated the Senate debate...

"He was the architect, advocate and the most knowledgeable person in Congress on these topics," Mr. Donovan said. "To me, Phil Gramm is the single most important reason for the current financial crisis."

"The virtually unregulated over-the-counter market in credit-default swaps has played a significant role in the credit crisis, including the now $167 billion taxpayer rescue of A.I.G.," Christopher Cox, the chairman of the S.E.C. and a former congressman, said Friday.

But you will never find discussion of flaws and adverse consequences Phil Gram (or Greenspan for a change) initiatives in Heritage Foundation and other right-wing think tanks publications.

Stages of transformation

So what we are experiencing is a the completion of the transformation of one phase of capitalism to another. It happened in stages:

  1. Manufacturing stagnated and can't provide the "decent" rate of growth. Competition from re-built Europe and Asian markets severely stressed the US manufacturing. due to competition return of capital dropped and in several industries became negative.

  2. Computers brought innovations into financial markets. They make possible real time trading of induces like S&P500, complex financial instruments like derivatives, etc. Later they enables superfast trading (HFT). All those instruments dramatically increased the possibilities of extracting the rent by financial institutions from the society.

  3. Globalization kicked in due to new opportunities offered by high speed global communications (Internet). And that is not limited to outsourcing. Due to globalization the sheer size of the financial markets increased to the extent that they started to represent a different, new transnational phenomena allowing new types of redistribution of wealth to be practiced. Integration of Russian elite (oligarchs) is just one example of this process. In case of pro-western oligarchs (fifth column) West went to significant length to protect them and their racket (Mikhail Khodorkovsky - Wikipedia,)

  4. Commercial banks turned into investment banks to exploit this opportunity.

  5. Financial sector completely corrupted academic science converting most economists to pay prostitutes which serve their interests.

  6. Collapse of the USSR provided the financial sector major shoot in the arm and a golden, once in century opportunity to finance new half-billion consumers and stole for a penny on a dollar huge industrial assets and natural resources as well as put most of those countries in the debt (Latin-Americanization of xUSSR space). Harvard Mafia (with some support from London) did the bidding of western banks in xUSSR space. As more becomes known about the laundering of Russian money in Western banks, many in the United States will likely try to hide behind stories of faraway organized crime. But U.S. policy toward Russia has contributed to that country's sorry conditions--with the Harvard Institute for International Development's Russia project (HIID) playing a major role (Harvard's 'Best and Brightest' Aided Russia's Economic Ruin ). Professor Jeffery Sacks provided a bogus idea of "shock therapy" to achieve spectacular for Western banks result. As a result all xUSSR space became new Latin America with typical for Latin America problems like huge level of inequality, prostitution, child poverty, and prominent role of organized crime.

  7. Banks became dominant political force on western societies with no real counterbalance from other parts of the elite. The first president completely subservient to banking elite was elected in the USA in 1992. Bill Clinton regime lasted eight years and along with economic rape of xUSSR space in best colonial powers tradition, it removed what was left of financial regulations after the flurry of deregulation of the early 1980s. And they behaved as an occupying force not only in xUSSR space but in the USA as well. They deprived workers out of their jobs, they abolished the US pension system as it impede playing with population money and replaced in with widely inadequate 401K plans. They deprived municipalities out of their revenues and assets, while municipalities became just a den of bond traders looking for then next mark which give them the ability to put municipalities deeper in debt.

  8. Newly acquired political power of financial elite speeded the shift to bank "self-regulation" created huge shadow banking system which dwarf "official" under the smoke screen of "free-market" propaganda and PR from a coterie of corrupts academics (Chicago Scholl, Harvard Mafia, etc) . It engaged in pursuit of short term profits and self-enrichment of top brass which became new elite by-and-large displacing not only the old one, but also the newly minted IT elite of dot-com boom. Using newly acquired power financial elite remove all regulations that hamper their interests. Glass-Steagall was repealed at the last days of Clinton presidency, financial derivatives became unregulated.

  9. Deindustrialization kicked in. As financial speculation proved to be much more profitable to other activities deindustrialization kicked in the USA as the financial center of the world. Outsourcing which first was limited to manufacturing jobs now extent its reach on IT and decimate previously profitable sector and its export potential.

  10. Externalities can no longer be suppressed and economics became unstable. Growth of inequality, job insecurity, as well as frequency of financial crises were natural consequences of financialization of the economy. They create huge imbalances, like bubble in residential real estate which was blown with the help and full support of the USA government as a way to overcome dot-com crisis consequences.

  11. Debt crisis strikes. Growth of debt became unsustainable and produces the financial crisis of enormous proportions. By their reckless policies and greed financial sector caused huge financial crisis of 2008 and now they are forcing national governments to auction off their cultural heritage to the highest bidder. Everything must go in fire sales at prices rigged by twenty-something largest banks, the most corrupt institutions the world has ever known.

  12. Devastating "local" wars became "new normal". Due to financial crisis, the overconsumption in western economies came under threat. Debt expansion which led to overconsumption within the western economies affected (or infected) by financialization. To sustain the current standard of living financial expansion became the necessity. It took the form of a competition for spheres of influence in the area of energy supplies, which we see in post USSR space, Iraq, Libya and elsewhere. And central banks play critical role in financing wars. After all Banks of England was created with this exact purpose.

I think by 2008 when the second major financial crisis hit the USA, the transformation on the USA economy into casino capitalism, which is essentially implementation of neoliberal doctrine (or more correctly the US brand of corporatism) was by-and-large complete.

In short we are living in a new politico-economic system in which financial capital won victory over both labor and industrial capital. We might not like what we got, but financial elite is now a new ruling class and this fact is difficult to dispute. As a result. instead of the robber barons of the early 20th century (some of whom actually created/consolidated new industries), we have the top executives from investment banks, insurers and mortgage industry who represent a new Rentier class, much like old aristocracy.

They are living off parasitic monopolization of access to any (physical, financial, intellectual, etc.) kind of property and gaining significant amount of profit without contribution to society (see Rentier capitalism which is a very fuzzy term for neoliberal model of capitalism).

Casino Capitalism as a result of stagnation of industrial manufacturing

Stagnation of industrial manufacturing droved up financial speculation as the method to compensate for falling rate on return on capital. This stagnation became prominent during Reagan administration (which started the major shift toward neoliberalism), although signs of it were present from early 60th.

For example Chicago which was a manufacturing center since 1969 lost approximately 400K manufacturing jobs which were replaced mainly by FIRE-related jobs, In 1995 over 22% of those employed by FIRE industries (66K people) were working in executive and managerial positions. Another 17% are in marketing, sales and processional specialty occupations (computer system analysts, PR specialists, writer and editors).

Those changes in the structure of employment had several consequences:

  1. The stagnation of the underlying economy meant that capitalists were increasingly dependent on the growth of finance to preserve and enlarge their money capital.
  2. The financial superstructure of the capitalist economy could not expand independently of its base -- underlying productive economy — hence the bursting of speculative bubbles became a recurrent and growing problem.
  3. Financialization could never overcome stagnation of industrial production. It is just an opium for rich, not a structural adjustment of the stagnation-prone economy. But like addition to narcotics does to human body it does tremendous damage to real economy.
  4. Rapid increase in inequality is necessary to sustain the appetites of the elite in the system with fixed size of the pie. Politico-economic conditions might became even more unfavorable for labor. Stagnation of industrial production mean shrinking pie, which necessitates redistribution of wealth in favor of a new, all-powerful financial Rentier class. This redistribution resulted in partial wipe-out of large swats of middle class. For the past three decades, America has steadily converted itself into a nation of haves (as Bush II quipped "This is an impressive crowd -- the haves and the have mores! Some people call you the elite -- I call you my base". ) and have-nots. The cost of a college education rises rapidly at a time when wages for skilled labor stagnate, so access to college became against discriminated in favor of upper class of the society. Repressive apparatus and ideological brainwashing are too strong to mount effective resistance.

The key to understanding of Casino Capitalism is that it was a series of government decisions (or rather non-decisions) that converted the state into neoliberal model. In other words casino capitalism has distinct "Government property" mark. It was the USA elite, which refused to act responsibly in the face of changing economic conditions resulting from its own actions, and instead chose to try to perpetuate, by whatever means it had at its disposal, the institutional advantages of dollar as a reserve currency which it had vis-à-vis its main economic rivals and grab as large part of the world economic pie as it can. And this power grab was supported first of all by the role of dollar as currency in which oil is traded.

There might be some geo-strategically motives as well as the US elite in late 80th perceived that competitiveness is slipping out of the USA and the danger of deindustrialization is real. Many accuse Reagan with the desire to ride dollar status as a world reserve currency (exorbitant privilege) until the horse is dead. That's what real cowboys do in Hollywood movies... But the collapse of the main rival, the USSR vindicated this strategy and give a strong short in the arm to financialization of the economy. Actually for the next ten years can be called a triumphal ascend of financialization in the USA.

Dominance of FIRE industries clustered up and in recent years reached in the USA quite dramatic proportions. The old Bolsheviks saying "When we say Lenin we mean the Party and when we say the Party we mean Lenin" now can be reworded: "Now it we say US banks, we mean the US government and vise versa if we say US government we mean US banks".

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the FIRE sector was and is the biggest contributor to federal candidates in Washington. Companies cannot give directly, so they leave it to bundlers to solicit maximum contributions from employees and families. They might have been brought down to earth this year, but they’ve given like Gods: Goldman Sachs, $4.8 million; Citigroup, $3.7 million; J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., $3.6 million; Merrill Lynch, $2.3 million; Lehman Brothers, $2.1 million; Bank of America, $2.1 million. Some think the long-term effect of such contributions to individual candidates was clear in the roll-call votes for the bailout.

Take the controversial first House vote on bailout of major banks on Sept. 29, 2008. According to CRP, the "ayes" had received 53 percent more contributions from FIRE since 1989 than those who voted against the bill, which ultimately failed 228 to 205. The 140 House Democrats who voted for the bill got an average of $188,572 in this election cycle, while the 65 Republicans backing it got an average of $185,461 from FIRE—about 23 percent more than the bill’s opponents received. A tinkered bill was passed four days later, 263 to 171.

According to the article Fire Sale (The American Conservative) half of Obama’s top ten contributors, together giving him nearly $2.2 million, are FIREmen. The $13 million contributed by FIRE executives to Obama campaign is probably an undercount. Democratic committee leaders are also dependent of FIRE contributions. The list includes Sen. Dodd ( please look at Senator Dodd's top donors for 2007-8 on ) and Sen. Chuck Schumer ($12 million from FIRE since 1989), Rep. Barney Frank ($2.5 million), and Rep. Charlie Rangel ($4 million, the top recipient in the House). All of them have been accused of taking truckloads of contributions while failing to act on the looming mortgage crisis. Dodd finally pushed mortgage reform last year but by then as his hometown paper, The Hartford Courant stated, "the damage was done."

Casino Capitalism and Financial Instability

At the same time rise of financial capital dramatically increased instability. An oversized financial sector produces instability due to multiple positive feedback loops. In this sense we can talk about Financial Sector Induced Systemic Instability of Economy. The whole society became "House of cards", "Giant Enron" and "extension of Las Vegas". Reckless management, greed and out-right stupidity in playing derivatives games was natural consequence of the oversized financial sector, not just a human folly. In a way it was dramatic manifestation of the oversized financial sector negative influence of the economy. And in 2008 it did brought out economy to the brink of destruction. Peak oil added to suffocating effect on the economy of reckless gambling (and related debts) of financial sector producing the economic calamity that rivals Great Depression. Also, like Socialism, Casino Capitalism demands too much of its elite. And in reality, the financial elite much like Bolsheviks elite, is having its own interests above the interests of the society.

As Kevin Phillips noted "In the United States, political correctness, religious fundamentalism, and other inhibitions sometimes dumb down national debate". And the same statement is true for financial elite that became the center of power under the Casino Capitalism. Due to avalanche of greed the society became one giant Enron as money that are made from value addition in the form of manufacturing fade in significance to the volume of the money that is made from shuffling money around. In other was the Wall Street's locked USA in the situation from which there is no easy exit.

Self-reinforcing ‘positive’ feedback loops prevalent in Casino Capitalism trigger an accelerating creation of various debt instruments, interest of which at some point overwhelm the system carrying capacity. Ability to lend against good collateral is quickly exhausted. At some point apparently there is no good collateral against which lending freely was possible, even at high rates. This means that each new stage of financial innovation involves scam and fraud, on increasing scale. In other words Ponzi economy of "saving and loans" is replaced with Madoff economy.

Whether you shift the resulting huge private debt to public to increase confidence or not, the net result is of this development of events is a crisis and a huge debt that society needs to take. Actually the debt bubble in 2008 can only be compared to the debt bubble of 1933. The liquidation of Bear Sterns and Lehman was only a start of consolidation of finances and we need to find something that replace financial sector dominance in the national economy. It would be nice is some technological breakthrough happened which would lift the country out of this deep hole.

See Financial Sector Induced Systemic Instability of Economy for more details.

Neoliberalism as the Ideology of Casino Capitalism

Like Bolshevism was marked by deification of teaching of Marx and Lenin, converting them into pseudo-religious doctrine, the Casino Capitalism has its own deified ideological doctrine. It is the ideology of Neoliberalism. The latter as an ideology and an agenda seeks to topple democratic capitalism and replace it with a de facto unaccountable autocratic government which serves as channel of a wealth transfer from the public to a rentier elite. In a way it is a spectacular example of a successful (in a very negative sense) pseudo-religious doctrine.

Addiction of the societies to disastrous politico-economical doctrines are similar to addictions to alcohol and drugs in individuals. It is not easy to recover and it takes a long, long time and a lot of misery. As dissolution of the USSR aptly demonstrated not all societies can make it. In this case the USSR elite (nomenklatura) simply shed the old ideology as it understood that it will be better off adopting ideology of neoliberal capitalism; so it was revolution from above.  this abrupt switch created chaos in economics (which was applauded by Washington which under Clinton administration adopted the stance the Carnage needs to be destroyed and facilitated the process), criminal privatization of major industries, and pushed into object poverty the 99% of population of those countries. For some period under "drunk Yeltsyn" Russia sees to exist as an independent country and became a vassal of Washington.

This also means that "society at large" did not had effective brakes to the assent of financial plutocracy (aka financial oligarchy).  I would add to this the computer revolution and internet that made many financial transaction qualitatively different and often dramatically cheaper that in previous history. Computers also enabled creation of new financial players like mutual funds (which created a shadow banking system with their bond funds) , hedge funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), as well as high-frequency trading and derivatives.

From the historical view Reaganomics also can be considered to be the US flavor of Lysenkoism with economics instead of genetics as a target. Here is how Reaganomics is defined in Wikipedia

Reaganomics (a portmanteau of "Reagan" and "economics") refers to the economic policies promoted by United States President Ronald Reagan. The four pillars of Reagan's economic policy were to:[1]
  1. reduce the growth of government spending,
  2. reduce marginal tax rates on income from labor and capital,
  3. reduce government regulation of the economy,
  4. control the money supply to reduce inflation.

In attempting to cut back on domestic spending while lowering taxes, Reagan's approach was a departure from his immediate predecessors.

Reagan became president during a period of high inflation and unemployment (commonly referred to as stagflation), which had largely abated by the time he left office.

Please not that the Number 1 idea ("reduce government spending") was essentially a scam, a smoke screen designed to attract Rednecks as a powerful voting block. In a way this was a trick similar to one played by Bolsheviks in Russia with its "worker and peasants rule" smokescreen which covered brutal dictatorship. In reality all administrations which preached Reagonomics (including Clinton's) expanded the role of state and government spending. The number two was applied by-and-large to top 1%. The number three means deregulation in the interests of financial oligarchy and dismantling all social program that hamper profit of the latter (including privatizing of Social Security). The number fours is a scam, in the same sense as number one. As soon as financial institutions get in trouble, money are printed as if there is no tomorrow.

While the essence of Reagonomics was financial deregulation, the other important element was restoring the Gilded Age level of power of financial oligarchy which influence was diminished by FDR reforms. In this sense we can say that Reagan revolution was essentially a counter-revolution: an attempt to reverse the New Deal restrictions on financial sector and restore its dominance in the society.

Like it was the case in Bolshevism the ideology was developed and forced upon the society by a very small group of players. The key ideas of Casino Capitalism were formulated and implemented by Reagan administration with some contribution by Nixon (the role of rednecks aka "moral majority", "silent majority" as an important part of republican political base, which can be attracted to detrimental to its economic position policies by the smoke screen of false "moral" promises).

It was supported by each president after Reagan (paradoxically with Clinton having the most accomplished record -- he was the best Republican President in a very perverted way). Like in case of Lysenkoism opponents were purged and economic departments of the country were captured by principless careerists ready to tow the party line for personal enrichment. Like in case of Bolshevism, many of those special breed of careerists rotated from Republican Party into Fed and other government structures. A classic example of compulsive careerists that were used by finance sector to promote its interests was Alan Greenspan.

One of the key ideas of Reaganomics was the rejection of the sound approach that there should be a balance between too much government regulation and too little and that government role is important for smooth functioning of the market. In this area Reagan and its followers can be called Anarchists and their idea of 'free market" is a misnomer that masks the idea of "anarchic market" (corporate welfare to be exact -- as it was implemented). Emergence of corporate welfare Queens such as GS, Citi, AIG, are quite natural consequence of Reaganomics.

Reaganomics was a the US flavor of Lysenkoism with economics instead of generics as a target... It can and should be called Economic Lysenkoism.

The most interesting part of Reaganomics was that the power of this ideology made it possible to conditioned "working class" and middle class to act against their own economic interests. It helped to ensure the stagnation of wages during the whole 25 years period, which is close to what Soviets managed to achieve with working class of the USSR, but with much more resentment. This makes it in many ways very similar to Bolshevism as a whole, not just Lysenkoism (extremes meet or in less flattering way: "history repeats, first as a tragedy, then as farce).

Along with the term Reaganimics which implicitly stresses the deregulation, the other close term "market fundamentalism" is often used. Here is how market fundamentalism is defined (Longview Institute):

Market Fundamentalism is the exaggerated faith that when markets are left to operate on their own, they can solve all economic and social problems. Market Fundamentalism has dominated public policy debates in the United States since the 1980's, serving to justify huge Federal tax cuts, dramatic reductions in government regulatory activity, and continued efforts to downsize the government’s civilian programs.

Some level of government coercion (explicit or implicit ) is necessary for proper labeling of any pseudo-scientific theory with the term Lysenkoism. This holds true for both Market Fundamentalism (after all Reagan revolution was "revolution from above" by financial oligarchy and for financial oligarchy and hired guns from academia just do what powers that be expected) and, especially, Supply side economic. The political genius of those ideas is evident. Supply-side economics transformed Republicans from a minority party into a majority party. It allowed them to promise lower taxes, lower deficits and, in effect, unchanged spending. Why should people not like this combination? Who does not like a free lunch?

In this sense the Republican Party played the role very similar to the Communist Party of the USSR.

For example supply side economics was too bizarre and would never survive without explicit government support. This notion is supported by many influential observers. For example, in the following comment for Krugman article (Was the Great Depression a monetary phenomenon):

Market fundamentalism (neoclassical counter-revolution — to be more academic) was more of a political construct than based on sound economic theory. However, it would take a while before its toxic legacy is purged from the economics departments. Indeed, in some universities this might never happen.

Extreme deregulation and extreme regulation (Brezhnev socialism) logically meets and both represent a variant of extremely corrupt society that cannot be sustained for long (using bayonets as in the case of USSR or using reserve currency and increasing leverage as is the case of the USA). In both cases the societies were economically and ideologically bankrupt at the end.

Actually, elements of market fundamentalism looks more like religious doctrine than political philosophy — and that bonds its even closer to Lysenkoism. In both cases critics were silenced with the help of the state. It is interesting to note that Reaganomics was wiped into frenzy after the dissolution of the USSR, the country which gave birth to the term of Lysenkoism. In a way the last act of the USSR was to stick a knife in the back of the USA. As a side note I would like to stress that contrary to critics the USSR was more of a neo-feudal society with elements of slavery under Stalin. Gulag population were essentially state slaves; paradoxically a somewhat similar status is typical for illegal immigrants in industrialized countries. From this point of view this category of "state slaves" is generally more numerous that gulag inmates. Prison population also can be counted along those lines.

It look like either implicitly or explicitly Reagan's bet was on restoration of gilded Age with its dominance of financial oligarchy, an attempt to convert the USA into new Switzerland on the "exorbitant privilege" of dollar status as the global fiat currency.

Casino Capitalism is characterized by political dominance of FIRE industries (finance, insurance, and real estate) and diminished role of other and first of all manufacturing industries. It was also accompanied by the drastic growth of inequality (New Gilded Age). Its defining feature is "the triumph of the trader in assets over the long-term producer" in Martin Wolf's words.

Voodoo economic theories

Attempts of theoretical justification of Economic Lysenkoism fall into several major categories:

Those can be called pillars, cornerstones of Economic Lysenkoism. Each of the deserves as separate article (see links above).

Historically especially important was Chicago school of market fundamentalism promoted pseudo-scientific theories of Milton Freedman (Chicago School) as well as supply side economics.

Collapse of the USSR as ideological justification of Casino Capitalism superiority

The huge boost of Casino Capitalism was given by the collapse of the USSR in 1991. That gave a second life to Reagan era. Collapse of the USSR was used as a vindication of market fundamentalism. After it New Deal regulations were systematically destroyed. Dumped down variants of Nietzsche philosophy like bastardatized variant promoted by Russian emigrant became fashionable with an individual "creative" entrepreneur as a new Übermensch, which stands above morality.

"The word Übermensch [designates] a type of supreme achievement, as opposed to 'modern' men, 'good' men, Christians, and other nihilists ... When I whispered into the ears of some people that they were better off looking for a Cesare Borgia than a Parsifal, they did not believe their ears."[9] Safranski argues that the combination of ruthless warrior pride and artistic brilliance that defined the Italian Renaissance embodied the sense of the Übermensch for Nietzsche. According to Safranski, Nietzsche intended the ultra-aristocratic figure of the Übermensch to serve as a Machiavellian bogeyman of the modern Western middle class and its pseudo-Christian egalitarian value system.[10]


The instability and volatility of active markets can devalue the economic base of real lives, or in more macro-scenarios can lead to the collapse of national and regional economies. In a very interesting and grotesque way it also incorporates the key element of Brezhnev Socialism in everyday life: huge manipulation of reality by mass media to the extend that Pravda and the USSR First TV Channel look pretty objective in comparison with Fox news and Fox controlled newspapers. Complete poisoning of public discourse and relying on the most ignorant part of the population as the political base (pretty much reminiscent of how Bolsheviks played "Working Class Dictatorship" anti-intellectualism card; it can be called "Rednecks Dictatorship").

The "heroes" or transformation of US economy to casino capitalism model

While transformation to casino capitalism was an objective development, there were specific individuals who were instrumental in killing New Deal regulations. We would single out the following twelve figures:

  1. Ronald Reagan (although first steps toward casino capitalism were made under Carter).
  2. Milton Friedman
  3. Alan Greenspan
  4. Phil Gramm
  5. Robert Rubin
  6. Larry Summers
  7. Helicopter Ben
  8. Bush II
  9. Bill Clinton
  10. Sandy Weill
  11. Jeffrey Sachs with his "shock therapy" racket
  12. Martin Feldstein

There is no question that Reagan and most of his followers (Greenspan, Rubin, Phil Gramm, etc) were rabid radicals blinded by ideology. But they were radicals of quite different color then FDR with disastrous consequences for society. Here again the analogy with Bolsheviks looms strong. In a way, they can be called financial terrorists inflicting huge damage on the nation and I wonder if RICO can be use to prosecute at least some of them.

In Bailout Nation (Chapter 19) Barry Ritholtz tried to rank major players that led country into the current abyss:

1. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan
2. The Federal Reserve (in its role of setting monetary policy)
3. Senator Phil Gramm
4-6. Moody’s Investors Service, Standard & Poor’s, and Fitch Ratings (rating agencies)
7. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
8-9. Mortgage originators and lending banks
10. Congress
11. The Federal Reserve again (in its role as bank regulator)
12. Borrowers and home buyers
13-17. The five biggest Wall Street firms (Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch,Morgan Stanley, and Goldman Sachs) and their CEOs
18. President George W. Bush
19. President Bill Clinton
20. President Ronald Reagan
21-22. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson
23-24. Treasury Secretaries Robert Rubin and Lawrence Summers
25. FOMC Chief Ben Bernanke
26. Mortgage brokers
27. Appraisers (the dishonest ones)
28. Collateralized debt obligation (CDO) managers (who produced the junk)
29. Institutional investors (pensions, insurance firms, banks, etc.) for
buying the junk
30-31. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC); Office of Thrift
Supervision (OTS)
32. State regulatory agencies
33. Structured investment vehicles (SIVs)/hedge funds for buying the junk

Early Researchers of Casino Capitalism

Hyman Minsky

Hyman Minsky argued that a key mechanism that pushes an economy towards a crisis is the accumulation of debt and the fact the financial system represents a positive feedback loop that tend to destabilize the system, creating ossilations in the form of boom and bust cycles. . He identified 3 types of borrowers that contribute to the accumulation of insolvent debt: Hedge Borrowers; Speculative Borrowers; and Ponzi Borrowers. That corresponds to three stages of Casino Capitalism of increasing fragility:

Growth of debt and increased levarate at some point create predocition of the crash. The stage of business cycle at which those preconditions are met is called "Minsky moment":

A Minsky moment is the point in a credit cycle or business cycle when investors are starting to have cash flow problems due to spiraling debt they have incurred in order to finance speculative or Ponzy investments.

At this point, a major selloff begins due to the fact that no counterparty can be found to bid at the high asking prices previously quoted, leading to a sudden and precipitous collapse in market clearing asset prices and a sharp drop in market liquidity.[1]

After the collapse of the USSR there were a lot of chest thumping of the status of America as a hyper power (American exceptionalism) and the "end of history" where neoliberalism that displaced Brazhvev socialism (and wiped out the socialist camp) was supposed to reign supreme forever.

But this triumphal march of neoliberalism was short lived. The system proved to be self-destructive due to strong positive feedback look from the unregulated financial sector.

But in 2000 the first moment to pay the piper arrives. It was postponed by Iraq war and housing bubble, but reappeared in much more menacing form in 2008. In 2009 the USA experienced a classic Minsky moment with high unemployment rate and economy suppressed by (and taken hostage) by Ponzi finance institutions which threaten the very survival of the capitalist system and way of life. Huge injection freom the state halped to save the economy from disintration, but the price was very high. And  after 2009 the US economy entered the period prologed stagnation, called  the perios of "secular stagnation".

In events preceding 2008 the shift from speculative toward Ponzi finance was speed up by increased corruption of major players.  The drive to redistribute wealth up destroyed any remnants of the rule of the law in the USA. It became a neo-feudal two casts society with "Masters of the Universe" as the upper cast (top 1% ) and "despicables" (lower 80%) as the lower cast. With some comprador strata of professional in between (top 20% or so), who generally support the upper cast.

Loweer cast experienced deterioration of the standard of living, loss of well paying jobs to outsourcing and offshoring and in 2016 revolted electing Trump, who defeated Hillary Clinton, who became a real symbol of the corruption of neoliberal system. 

"As Minsky observed, capitalism is inherently unstable. As each crisis is successfully contained, it encourages greater speculation and risk taking in borrowing and lending. Financial innovation makes it easier to finance various schemes. To a large extent, borrowers and lenders operate on the basis of trial and error. If a behavior is rewarded, it will be repeated. Thus stable periods naturally lead to optimism, to booms, and to increasing fragility.

A financial crisis can lead to asset price deflation and repudiation of debt. A debt deflation, once started, is very difficult to stop. It may not end until balance sheets are largely purged of bad debts, at great loss in financial wealth to the creditors as well as the economy at large."

For more information see

Susan Strange

For Strange the speed at which computerized financial markets work combined with their much larger size and  near-universal pervasiveness is an important qualitative change, that changes the social system into what he called "casino capitalism".  She actually popularized the term "Casino Capitalism" with her important book Casino Capitalism  published in 1997.

One of the side effects of this change is that volatility extends globally. Approximately $1.5 trillion dollars are invested daily as foreign transactions. It is estimated that 98% of these transactions are speculative. In comparison with this casino Las Vegas looks like a aborigine village in comparison with Manhattan.


Susan Strange (June 9, 1923 - October 25, 1998) was a British academic who was influential in the field of international political economy. Her most important publications include

For a quarter of a century, Susan Strange was the most influential figure in British international studies. She held a number of key academic posts in Britain, Italy and Japan. From 1978 to 1988, she was Montague Burton Professor of International Relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), the first woman to hold this chair and a professorial position in international relations at the LSE. She was a major figure in the professional associations of both Britain and the US: she was an instrumental founding member and first Treasurer of the British International Studies Association (BISA) [1] and the first female President of the International Studies Association (ISA) in 1995.

It was predominantly as a creative scholar and a forceful personality that she exercised her influence. She was almost single-handedly responsible for creating ‘international political economy’ and turning it into one of the two or three central fields within international studies in Britain, and she defended her creation with such robustness, and made such strong claims on its behalf, that her influence was felt—albeit not always welcomed—in most other areas of the discipline. She was one of the earliest and most influential campaigners for the closer integration of the study of international politics and international economics in the English language scholarship.

In the later period of her career, alongside the financial analyses offered in Casino Capitalism (the analysis in which she felt was vindicated by the South-East Asian financial crisis) and Mad Money, Strange's contributions to the field include her characterisation of the four different areas (production, security, finance and knowledge) through which power might be exercised in International Relations. This understanding of what she termed "structural power", formed the basis of her argument against the theory of American Hegemonic Decline in the early eighties.

Her analysis particularly in States and Markets focused on what she called the ‘market-authority nexus’, the see-saw of power between the market and political authority. The overall argument of her work suggested that the global market had gained significant power relative to states since the 1970s.

This led her to dub the Westphalia system Westfailure. She argued that a ‘dangerous gap’ was emerging between territorially-bound nation states and weak or partial intergovernmental cooperation in which markets had a free hand which could be constructive or destructive.

John K. Galbraith

Among important early critiques of casino capitalism was John K. Galbraith. He promoted a pretty novel idea that the major economic function of Governments is to strengthen countervailing powers to achieve some kind of balance between capital and labor.

While unions are far from being perfect and tend to slide into corruption due to "iron law of oligarchy" when thier management stop representing interests of thwe worksers and start to reprreesnt interest of thier own narry strate of fat cats,  there were the only sizable countewailing power that made the New Seal possible.

His prediction proved to be wrong as government actually represent the capitalist class and is not that interested in creating this balance, which was convincingly demonstrated by Thatcher and Reagan.  Both Britain and the USA start sliding into a new form of corporations, called neoliberalism which actually does not allocate any space for uniot at the negotiation table and strive for their complete elimination and "atomization" of work force, when each invididual is up to himself to find employment and group solidarity is suppressed by instilling neoliberal ideology in schools and universitites as well as via MSM (which in the USA surprisingly never were allowed to use the work neoliberlaism, as if it represents some secret Masonic cult)

And it does not look like there is any renewed support of unions right  (including important right to organize) at the  post subprime/derivatives/shadow_banking crisis stage of neoliberalism, when neoliberal ideology became sufficiently discredited to allow rise of populist politicians such as Trump. 

Still John K. Galbraith critique of primitive market fundamentalism of Milton Freedman and the whole pseudoscience of neoclassical economics which like Marxist political economy is one of there pillars of neoliberalism (along with Randism as philosophy and Neoconservatism or "Trotskyism for the rich" in politics), still has its value today. As Joseph Stiglitz noted (CSMonitor, Dec 28, 2006):

...In many ways, Galbraith was a more critical observer of economic reality.

Driven to understand market realities

Galbraith's vivid depictions of the good, bad, and ugly of American capitalism remain a sorely needed reminder that all is not quite as perfect as the perfect market models – with their perfect competition, perfect information, and perfectly rational consumers – upon which so much of Friedman's analysis depended.

Galbraith, who cut his teeth studying agricultural economics, strove to understand the world as it was, with all the problems of unemployment and market power that simplistic models of competitive markets ignore. In those models, unemployment didn't exist. Galbraith knew that made them fatally flawed

... ... ...

In his early research, Galbraith attempted to explain what had brought on the Great Crash of 1929 – including the role of the stock market's speculative greed fed by (what would today be called) irrational exuberance. Friedman ignored speculation and the failure of the labor market as he focused on the failures of the Federal Reserve. To Friedman, government was the problem, not the solution.

What Galbraith understood, and what later researchers (including this author) have proved, is that Adam Smith's "invisible hand" – the notion that the individual pursuit of maximum profit guides capitalist markets to efficiency – is so invisible because, quite often, it's just not there. Unfettered markets often produce too much of some things, such as pollution, and too little of other things, such as basic research. As Bruce Greenwald and I have shown, whenever information is imperfect – that is, always – markets are inefficient; hence the need for government action.

Galbraith reminded us that what made the economy work so well was not an invisible hand but countervailing powers. He had the misfortune of articulating these ideas before the mathematical models of game theory were sufficiently developed to give them expression. The good news is that today, more attention is being devoted to developing models of these bargaining relationships, and to complex, dynamic models of economic fluctuations in which speculation may play a central role.

Government's role

While Friedman never really appreciated the limitations of the market, he was a forceful critic of government. Yet history shows that in every successful country, the government had played an important role. Yes, governments sometimes fail, but unfettered markets are a certain prescription for failure. Galbraith made this case better than most.

Galbraith knew, too, that people aren't just rational economic actors, but consumers, contending with advertising, political persuasion, and social pressures. It was because of his close touch with reality that he had such influence on economic policymaking, especially during the Kennedy-Johnson years.

Galbraith's penetrating insights into the nature of capitalism – as it is lived, not as it is theorized in simplistic models – has enhanced our understanding of the market economy. He has left an intellectual legacy for generations to come. And he has left a gap in our intellectual life: Who will stand up against the economics establishment to articulate an economic vision that is both in touch with reality and comprehensible to ordinary citizens?

Galbraith was vindicated in his belief that the only economics possible is political economics and that government is always an agent of dominant class. As such it always pursue poklitics favorable to this class, just making marginal efforts to prevent the open revolt of lower classes.

In 2008 neoliberal economist such as Krugman and (to a lesse extent) Stiglitz both have eaten humble pie, because according to neoclassical economics the crises should not have happened. Both should now reread Galbraith's The Great Crash: 1929 (see also extracts).  Krugman also need to shred his previous writings with this mathiness execises of using differential equations to justify the dominance of financial oligarchy,  and eat them with borsch ;-)

BTW it is interesting that in 1996 neoliberal stooge Paul Krugman criticized limitations of Galbright vision in the following way:

To be both a liberal and a good economist you must have a certain sense of the tragic--that is, you must understand that not all goals can be attained, that life is a matter of painful tradeoffs. You must want to help the poor, but understand that welfare can encourage dependency. You must want to protect those who lose their jobs, but admit that generous unemployment benefits can raise the long-term rate of unemployment. You must be willing to tax the affluent to help those in need, but accept that too high a rate of taxation can discourage investment and innovation.

To the free-market conservative, these are all arguments for government to do nothing, to accept whatever level of poverty and insecurity the market happens to produce. A serious liberal does not reply to such conservatives by denying that there are any trade-offs at all; he insists, rather, that some trade-offs are worth making, that helping the poor and protecting the unlucky may have costs but will ultimately make for a better society.

The revelation one gets from reading John Kenneth Galbraith's The Good Society is that Galbraith--who is one of the world's most celebrated intellectuals, and whom one would expect to have a deeper appreciation of the complexity of the human condition than a mere technical economist would -- lacks this tragic sense. Galbraith's vision of the economy is one without shadows, in which what is good for social justice always turns out to have no unfavorable side effects. If this vision is typical of liberal intellectuals, the ineffectuality of the tribe is not an accident: It stems from a deep-seated unwillingness to face up to uncomfortable reality.

Similar limited understanding of Galbright is demonstrated in London Times (cited from comment to Economist's View blog) :

Some motifs of Galbraith’s work have entered popular consciousness. Galbraith wrote of private opulence amid public squalor, illustrating it with a memorable metaphor of a family that travels by extravagant private car to picnic by a polluted river.

Yet while arguing for increased public expenditure on welfare, Galbraith gave scant attention to the limits of that approach. His writings perpetuate a debilitating weakness of modern liberalism: a reluctance to acknowledge that resources are scarce.

In Galbraith’s scheme, said Herbert Stein, the former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers: “The American people were only asked whether they wanted cleaner air and water . . . The answers to such questions seemed obvious — but they were not the right questions.”

Soros contribution to the understanding of growth of financial sector as source of new, global economic instability

This idea of "casino capitalism" as a driver of financial instability was developed further in the book The Crisis of Global Capitalism by prominent financial speculator and staunch neoliberal George Soros (1998), who after Minsky highlights the potential for disequilibrium in the financial system, and the inability of non-market sectors to regulate markets.

the latter is a prominant feature of Casino Capitalism, which can be defined as economic system were financial barons run amok.

Although the insights of the Soros critique of global capitalism are scarcely new, they were articulated with such candor and accuracy that the book made a significant impact. The following is a sampling of Soros' insights.
  1. Unregulated financial markets are inherently unstable. There is nothing new in this statement. It is just a repetition of what Keynes and Minsky said much more eloquently. But Soros made in important observation about the source of constant disequilibrium of markets under neoliberalism, the observation which permitted for him to achieve spectacular success as a financial speculator.  Soros observes that, contrary to conventional economic theory, financial markets are not driven toward a relatively stable and rational price by the objective value assessment of such things as the soundness of a company's management, products, or record of profitability. Rather they are constantly driven away from equilibrium by the momentum of self-fulfilling expectations -- a rising stock price attracts buyers who further raise the price-to the point of collapse. The recent massive inflation and subsequent collapse in the price of the shares of unprofitable dot-com companies illustrates Soros' point.

    Bank lending also contributes to the instability, because the price of real and financial assets is set in part by their collateral value. The higher their market price rises the larger the loans banks are willing to make to their buyers to bid up prices. When the bubble bursts, the value of the assets plummets below the amount of the money borrowed against them. This forces banks to call their loans and cut back on the lending, which depresses asset prices and dries up the money supply. The economy then tanks-until credit worthiness is restored and a new boom phase begins.

  2. Financial markets are amoral by definition. Following Napoleon Bonaparte ("Money has no motherland; financiers are without patriotism and without decency; their sole object is gain. "), Soros stressed that there is no meaningful place for individual moral behavior of financial oligarchy in the context of financial markets, because such behavior has no consequences for them other than to reduce the financial return of  a more  ethical actor.  In other words modern finance is breeding ground for ruthless sociopath, which we really observed during 2008.

    When I bought shares in Lockheed and Northrop after the managements were indicted for bribery, I helped sustain the price of their stocks. When I sold sterling short in 1992, the Bank of England was on the other side of my transactions, and I was in effect taking money out of the pockets of British taxpayers. But if I had tried to take social consequences into account, it would have thrown off my risk-reward calculation, and my profits would have been reduced.

    Soros argues that if he had not bought Lockheed and Northrop, then somebody else would have, and Britain would have devalued sterling no matter what he did. "Bringing my social conscience into the decision-making process would make no difference in the real world; but it may adversely affect my own results." One can challenge the Soros claim that such behavior is amoral rather than immoral, but his basic argument is accurate. His understanding that it is futile to look to individual morality as the solution to the excesses of financial markets is all too accurate.

  3. Corporate employees are duty-bound to serve only corporate financial interests. As such financial institution are closely related to organized crime and top layers of managers are essentially institualized criminals. Soros writes:

    Publicly owned companies are single-purpose organizations-their purpose is to make money. The tougher the competition, the less they can afford to deviate. Those in charge may be well-intentioned and upright citizens, but their room for maneuver is strictly circumscribed by the position they occupy.

     They are duty-bound to uphold the interests of the company. If they think that cigarettes are unhealthy or that fostering civil war to obtain mining concessions is unconscionable, they ought to quit their jobs. Their place will be taken by people who are willing to carry on.

    Though not specifically mentioned by Soros, this is why corporations were in the past (at least partially) excluded from the political processes (although it was never complete and it is well known fact that Crusades and Siege of Constantinople (1204) were financed by Genoese bankers upset by lack of access to the Byzantium markets). But at least formally other parts of the society can define their goals and the rules of the marketplace and suppress excessive appetities of banker, if nessesary by brute force.  Financial oligarchy is incapable of distinguishing between private corporate interests and broader public interests. And that situation became even worse with the the global dominance of corporatism in the form of neoliberalism.

  4. Financial markets are oblivious to externalities and are infected by "short-termism". Specifically the fact that a strategy or policy produces economic returns in the short-term does not mean the long-term results will be beneficial. The focus of financial markets is on short-term individual gain to the exclusion of both social and longer-term consequences. The fact that particular policies and strategies are effective in producing short-term financial returns does not mean they are more generally beneficial or desirable. Soros offers the example that running up a budget or trade deficit "feels good while it lasts, but there can be hell to pay later."

  5. The relationship between the center and the periphery of the capitalist system is profoundly unequal. The powerful countries at the center of the capitalist system are both wealthier and more stable than countries at the periphery because control of the financial system and ownership of productive assets allows them to shape economic and political affairs to their benefit.

    "Foreign ownership of capital deprives peripheral countries of autonomy and often hinders the development of democratic institutions. The international flow of capital is subject to catastrophic interruptions."

    In times of uncertainty financial capital tends to return to its country of origin, thus depriving countries at the periphery of the financial liquidity necessary to the function of monetized economies. "The center's most important feature is that it controls its own economic policies and holds in its hands the economic destinies of periphery countries."

  6. In the capitalist system greed (aka "monetary values") tend to displace social values in sectors where this is destructive to important public interests. Soros writes:

    Monetary values [under neoliberalism] have usurped the role of intrinsic values, and markets have come to dominate spheres of existence where they do not properly belong.

    Law and medicine, politics, education, science, the arts, even personal relations-achievements or qualities that ought to be valued for their own sake are converted into monetary terms; they are judged by the money they fetch rather than their intrinsic value."

    Because financial "capital is free to go where most rewarded, countries vie to attract and retain capital, and if they are to succeed they must give precedence to the requirements of international capital over other social objectives.

Ha-Joon Chang

One notable later researcher of casino capitalism, especially "free market" fundamentalism propaganda Cambridge University researcher Ha-Joon Chang. In 2011 he published a fascinating book 23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism. Here is a Youtube lecture at LSE (23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism  ). We will reproduce  two Amazon reviews that shed some light at the key ideas of the book:

William Podmore

Ha-Joon Chang, Reader in the Political Economy of Development at Cambridge University, has written a fascinating book on capitalism's failings. He also wrote the brilliant Bad Samaritans. Martin Wolf of the Financial Times says he is `probably the world's most effective critic of globalization'.

Chang takes on the free-marketers' dogmas and proposes ideas like

He notes that the USA does not have the world's highest living standard. Norway, Luxemburg, Switzerland, Denmark, Iceland, Ireland, Sweden and the USA, in that order, had the highest incomes per head. On income per hours worked, the USA comes eighth, after Luxemburg, Norway, France, Ireland, Belgium, Austria and the Netherlands. Japan, Switzerland, Singapore, Finland and Sweden have the highest industrial output per person.

Free-market politicians, economists and media have pushed policies of de-regulation and pursuit of short-term profits, causing less growth, more inequality, more job insecurity and more frequent crises. Britain's growth rate in income per person per year was 2.4 per cent in the 1960s-70s and 1.7 per cent 1990-2009. Rich countries grew by 3 per cent in the 1960s-70s and 1.4 per cent 1980-2009. Developing countries grew by 3 per cent in the 1960s-70s and 2.6 per cent 1980-2009. Latin America grew by 3.1 per cent in the 1960s-70s and 1.1 per cent 1980-2009, and Sub-Saharan Africa by 1.6 per cent in the 1960s-70s and 0.2 per cent 1990-2009. The world economy grew by 3.2 per cent in the 1960s-70s and 1.4 per cent 1990-2009.

So, across the world, countries did far better before Thatcher and Reagan's `free-market revolution'. Making the rich richer made the rest of us poorer, cutting economies' growth rates, and investment as a share of national output, in all the G7 countries.

Chang shows how free trade is not the way to grow and points out that the USA was the world's most protectionist country during its phase of ascendancy, from the 1830s to the 1940s, and that Britain was one of world's the most protectionist countries during its rise, from the 1720s to the 1850s.

He shows how immigration controls keep First World wages up; they determine wages more than any other factor. Weakening those controls, as the EU demands, lowers wages.

He challenges the conventional wisdom that we must cut spending to cut the deficit. Instead, we need controls capital, on mergers and acquisitions, and on financial products. We need the welfare state, industrial policy, and huge investment in industry, infrastructure, worker training and R&D.

As Chang points out, "Even though financial investments can drive growth for a while, such growth cannot be sustained, as those investments have to be ultimately backed up by viable long-term investments in real sector activities, as so vividly shown by the 2008 financial crisis."

This book is a commonsense, evidence-based approach to economic life, which we should urge all our friends and colleagues to read.

Loyd E. Eskildson

The 2008 'Great Recession' demands re-examination of prevailing economic thought - the dominant paradigm (post 1970's conservative free-market capitalism) not only failed to predict the crisis, but also said it couldn't occur in today's free markets, thanks to Adam Smith's 'invisible hand.' Ha-Joon Chang provides that re-examination in his "23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism." Turns out that the reason Adam Smith's hand was not visible is that it wasn't there. Chang, economics professor at the University of Cambridge, is no enemy of capitalism, though he contends its current conservative version should be made better. Conventional wisdom tells us that left alone, markets produce the most efficient and just outcomes - 'efficient' because businesses and individuals know best how to utilize their resources, and 'just' because they are rewarded according to their productivity. Following this advice, countries have deregulated businesses, reduced taxes and welfare, and adopted free trade. The results, per Chang, has been the opposite of what was promised - slower growth and rising inequality, often masked by rising credit expansion and increased working hours. Alternatively, developing Asian countries that grew fast did so following a different version of capitalism, though to be fair China's version to-date has also produced much greater inequality. The following summarizes some of Chang's points:

  1. "There is no such thing as a free market" - we already have hygiene standards in restaurants, ban child labor, pollution, narcotics, bribery, and dangerous workplaces, require licenses for professions such as doctors, lawyers, and brokers, and limit immigration. In 2008, the U.S. used at least $700 billion of taxpayers' money to buy up toxic assets, justified by President Bush on the grounds that it was a necessary state intervention consistent with free-market capitalism. Chang's conclusion - free-marketers contending that a certain regulation should not be introduced because it would restrict market freedom are simply expressing political opinions, not economic facts or laws.
  2. "Companies should not be run in the interest of their owners." Shareholders are the most mobile of corporate stakeholders, often holding ownership for but a fraction of a second (high-frequency trading represents 70% of today's trading). Shareholders prefer corporate strategies that maximize short-term profits and dividends, usually at the cost of long-term investments. (This often also includes added leverage and risk, and reliance on socializing risk via 'too big to fail' status, and relying on 'the Greenspan put.') Chang adds that corporate limited liability, while a boon to capital accumulation and technological progress, when combined with professional managers instead of entrepreneurs owning a large chunk (e.g.. Ford, Edison, Carnegie) and public shares with smaller voting rights (typically limited to 10%), allows professional managers to maximize their own prestige via sales growth and prestige projects instead of maximizing profits. Another negative long-term outcome driven by shareholders is increased share buybacks (less than 5% of profits until the early 1980s, 90% in 2007, and 280% in 2008) - one economist estimates that had GM not spent $20.4 billion on buybacks between 1986 and 2002 it could have prevented its 2009 bankruptcy. Short-term stockholder perspectives have also brought large-scale layoffs from off-shoring. Governments of other countries encourage longer-term thinking by holding large shares in key enterprises (China Mobile, Renault, Volkswagen), providing greater worker representation (Germany's supervisory boards), and cross-shareholding among friendly companies (Japan's Toyota and its suppliers).
  3. "Free-market policies rarely make poor countries rich." With a few exceptions, all of today's rich countries, including Britain and the U.S., reached that status through protectionism, subsidies, and other policies that they and their IMF, WTO, and World Bank now advise developing nations not to adopt. Free-market economists usually respond that the U.S. succeeded despite, not because of, protectionism. The problem with that explanation is the number of other nations paralleling the early growth strategy of the U.S. and Britain (Austria, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Sweden, Taiwan), and the fact that apparent exceptions (Hong Kong, Switzerland, The Netherlands) did so by ignoring foreign patents (a free-market 'no-no'). Chang believes the 'official historians' of capitalism have been very successful re-writing its history, akin to someone trying to 'kick away the ladder' with which they had climbed to the top. He also points out that developing nations that stick to their Ricardian 'comparative advantage,' per the conservatives prescription, condemn themselves to their economic status quo.
  4. "We do not live in a post-industrial age." Most of the fall in manufacturing's share of total output is not due to a fall in the quantity of manufactured goods, but due to the fall in their prices relative to those for services, caused by their faster productivity growth. A small part of deindustrialization is due to outsourcing of some 'manufacturing' activities that used to be provided in-house - e.g.. catering and cleaning. Those advising the newly developing nations to skip manufacturing and go directly to providing services forget that many services mainly serve manufacturing firms (finance, R&D, design), and that since services are harder to export, such an approach will create balance-of-payment problems. (Chang's preceding points directly contradict David Ricardo's law of comparative advantage - a fundamental free market precept. Chang's example of how Korea built Pohang Steel into a strong economic producer, despite lacking experienced managers and natural resources, is another.)
  5. "The U.S. does not have the highest living standard in the world." True, the average U.S. citizen has greater command over goods and services than his counterpart in almost any other country, but this is due to higher immigration, poorer employment conditions, and working longer hours for many vs. their foreign counterparts. The U.S. also has poorer health indicators and worse crime statistics. We do have the world's second highest income per capita - Luxemburg's higher, but measured in terms of purchasing power parity (PPP) the U.S. ranks eighth. (The U.S. doesn't have the fastest growing economy either - China is predicted to pass the U.S. in PPP this coming decade.) Chang's point here is that we should stop assuming the U.S. provides the best economic model. (This is already occurring - the World Bank's chief economist, Justin Lin, comes from China.)
  6. "Governments can pick winners." Chang cites examples of how the Korean government built world-class producers of steel (POSCO), shipbuilding (Hyundai), and electronics (LG), despite lacking raw materials or experience for those sectors. True, major government failures have occurred - Europe's Concorde, Indonesia's aircraft industry, Korea's promotion of aluminum smelting, and Japan's effort to have Nissan take over Honda; industry, however, has also failed - e.g.. the AOL-Time Warner merger, and the Daimler-Chrysler merger. Austria, China, Finland, France, Japan, Norway, Singapore (in numerous other areas), and Taiwan have also done quite well with government-picked winners. Another problem is that business and national interests sometimes clash - e.g.. American firms' massive outsourcing has undermined the national interest of maintaining full employment. (However, greater unbiased U.S. government involvement would be difficult due to the 10,000+ corporate lobbyists and billions in corporate campaign donations - $500 million alone from big oil in 2009-10.) Also interesting to Chang is how conservative free marketing bankers in the U.S. lined up for mammoth low-cost loans from the Federal Reserve at the beginning of the Great Recession. Government planning allows minimizing excess capacity, maximizing learning-curve economies and economies of scale and scope; operational performance is enhanced by also forcing government-owned or supported firms into international competition. Government intervention (loans, tariffs, subsidies, prohibiting exports of needed raw materials, building infrastructure) are necessary for emerging economies to move into more sophisticated sectors.
  7. "Making rich people richer doesn't make the rest of us richer." 'Trickle-down' economics is based on the belief that the poor maximize current consumption, while the rich, left to themselves, mostly invest. However, the years 1950-1973 saw the highest-ever growth rates in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, despite increased taxation of the rich. Before the 'Golden Age,' per capita income grew at 1-1.5%/year; during the Golden Age it grew at 2-3% in the U.S. Since then, tax cuts for the rich and financial deregulation have allowed greater paychecks for top managers and financiers, and between 1979 and 2006 the top 0.1% increased their share of national income from 3.5% to 11.6%. The result - investment as a ratio of national output has fallen in all rich economies and the pace at which the total economic pie grew decreased.
  8. "U.S. managers are over-priced." First, relative to their predecessors (about 10X those in the 1960s; now 300-400X the average worker), despite the latter having run companies more successfully, in relative terms. Second, compared to counterparts in other rich countries - up to 20X. (Third, compared to counterparts in developing nations - e.g.. JPMorgan Chase, world's 4th largest bank, paid its CEO $19.6 million in 2008, vs. the CEO of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the world's largest, being paid $234,700. Read more ›

Willem Buiter and the idea of long term stagnation

Willem Buiter in his FT article After the Crisis Macro Imbalance, Credibility and Reserve-Currency suggested that after financial crisis of 2008 there might be very long a painful deleveraging period aka secular stagnation.  He was right.

In short each financial crisis make recovery longer and longer. That's why the US will most likely face a long period of stagnation: the digestion of huge excessive debt of the private sector might well take a decade:

Since the excess of debt is relative to income and GDP, the lower the rate of growth, the longer the required period of digestion. This explains for the paradox of trying to stimulate consumption when the economy faces a monumental crisis provoked exactly by excessive debt and excessive consumption. A cartoon line best captured the spirit of it: "country addicted to speculative bubbles desperately searches a new bubble to invest in. "

... ... ...

The roots of the crisis are major international macroeconomic imbalances. Despite the fact that the excesses of the financial system were instrumental to lead these imbalances further than otherwise possible, insufficient regulation should not be viewed as the main factor behind the crisis. The expenditure of central countries, spinned by all sort of financial innovations created by a globalized financial system, was the engine of world growth. When debt became clearly excessive in central countries and the debt-financed expenditure cycle came to an end, the ensuing crisis paralyzed the world economy. With the lesson of 1929 well assimilated, American monetary policy became aggressively expansionist. The Fed inundated the economy with money and credit, in the attempt to avoid a deep depression. Even if successful, the economies of the US and the other central countries, given the burden of excessive debt, are likely to remain stagnant under the threat of deflation for the coming years. The assumption of troubled assets by the public sector, in order to avoid the collapse of the financial system, might succeed, but at the cost of a major increase in public debt. Fiscal policy is not efficient to restart the economy when the private sector remains paralyzed by excessive debt. Even if a coordinated effort to increase public expenditure is successful, the central economies will remain stagnant for as long as the excessive indebtedness of the private sector persists. The period of digestion of excess debt will be longer than the usual recessive cycle. Since imports represent a drain in the effort to reanimate domestic demand through public expenditure, while exports, on the contrary, contribute to the recovery of internal demand, the temptation to central economies to also adopt a protectionist stance will be strong.

Willem Buiter also defined ‘cognitive regulatory capture’ which existed during the Greenspan years and when the Fed were just an arm of Wall Street.

This regulatory capture has resulted in an excess sensitivity of the Fed to financial market and financial sector concerns and fears and in an overestimation of the strength of the link between financial market turmoil and financial sector deleveraging and capital losses on the one hand, and the stability and prosperity of the wider economy on the other hand. The paper gives five examples of recent behavior by the Fed that are most readily rationalized with the assumption of regulatory capture. The abstract of the paper follows next. The latest version of the entire enchilada can be found here. Future revisions will also be found there.

Joseph Stiglitz on 5 steps to Casino Capitalism

Stiglitz is very unene and early Striglist was actually defender of neoliberalism (aka casino capitalism). Later he became a critic. In his 2008 Vanity Fair article Capitalist Fools Stiglitz identifies five key steps in transformation of American capitalism to Casino Capitalism (moments of failure as he called them):

No. 1: Reagan Fires Fed Chairman Volcker and Replaces Him With Greenspan in 1987:

Volcker also understood that financial markets need to be regulated. Reagan wanted someone who did not believe any such thing, and he found him in a devotee of the objectivist philosopher and free-market zealot Ayn Rand.


If you appoint an anti-regulator as your enforcer, you know what kind of enforcement you’ll get. A flood of liquidity combined with the failed levees of regulation proved disastrous.

Greenspan presided over not one but two financial bubbles.

  1. Congress repealed the Glass-Steagall Act in 1999 under Bill Clinton (Glass-Steagall was a depression-era reform that separated commercial and investment banks)

I had opposed repeal of Glass-Steagall. The proponents said, in effect, Trust us: we will create Chinese walls to make sure that the problems of the past do not recur. As an economist, I certainly possessed a healthy degree of trust, trust in the power of economic incentives to bend human behavior toward self-interest—toward short-term self-interest, at any rate, rather than Tocqueville’s "self interest rightly understood."

Stiglitz also refers to a 2004 decision by the SEC "to allow big investment banks to increase their debt-to-capital ratio (from 12:1 to 30:1, or higher) so that they could buy more mortgage-backed securities, inflating the housing bubble in the process."

Once more, it was deregulation run amuck, and few even noticed.

  1. The Bush tax cuts, both on income and capital gains

The Bush administration was providing an open invitation to excessive borrowing and lending—not that American consumers needed any more encouragement.

  1. Faking the Numbers

Here he refers to bad accounting, the failure to address problems with stock options, and the incentive structures of ratings agencies like Moodys that led them to give high ratings to toxic assets.

  1. Paulson and the Flawed Bailout

Valuable time was wasted as Paulson pushed his own plan, "cash for trash," buying up the bad assets and putting the risk onto American taxpayers. When he finally abandoned it, providing banks with money they needed, he did it in a way that not only cheated America’s taxpayers but failed to ensure that the banks would use the money to re-start lending. He even allowed the banks to pour out money to their shareholders as taxpayers were pouring money into the banks.

Stiglitz concludes:

The truth is most of the individual mistakes boil down to just one: a belief that markets are self-adjusting and that the role of government should be minimal. Looking back at that belief during hearings this fall on Capitol Hill, Alan Greenspan said out loud, "I have found a flaw." Congressman Henry Waxman pushed him, responding, "In other words, you found that your view of the world, your ideology, was not right; it was not working." "Absolutely, precisely," Greenspan said. The embrace by America—and much of the rest of the world—of this flawed economic philosophy made it inevitable that we would eventually arrive at the place we are today.

The flawed economic philosophy brought by Reagan, and embraced by so many, brought us to this day. Ideas have consequences, especially when we stop empirically testing them. Republican economics have created great pain to America and harmed our national interest.

The flaw that Greenspan found was always there: self-regulation does not work. As Stiglitz said:

As an economist, I certainly possessed a healthy degree of trust, trust in the power of economic incentives to bend human behavior toward self-interest — toward short-term self-interest

Yes, for all their claims to science, the premise conflicts with tendencies of people.

This is the real legacy of Ronald Reagan and Alan Greenspan:

The whole scheme was kick-started under Ronald Reagan. Between his tax cuts for the rich and the Greenspan Commission’s orchestrated Social Security heist, working Americans lost out in a generational wealth transfer shift now exceeding $1 trillion annually from 90 million working class households to for-profit corporations and the richest 1% of the population. It created an unprecedented wealth disparity that continues to grow, shames the nation and is destroying the bedrock middle class without which democracy can’t survive.

Greenspan helped orchestrate it with economist Ravi Batra calling his economics "Greenomics" in his 2005 book "Greenspan’s Fraud." It "turns out to be Greedomics" advocating anti-trust laws, regulations and social services be ended so "nothing....interfere(s) with business greed and the pursuit of profits."

 Conclusions: From Animal Farm To Animal House

Instead of conclusion I will reproduce the post from Sudden Debt (March 17, 2008):

In Orwell's Animal Farm all animals are equal - except that some are more equal than others. All in the spirit of law, order and the proper functioning of society, of course. Fittingly, the animals that have chosen this role by themselves and for themselves, are the pigs.

Cut to US financial markets today. After years of swinish behavior more reminiscent of Animal House than anything else, the pigs are threatening to destroy the entire farm. As if it wasn't enough that they devoured all the "free market" food available and inundated the world with their excreta, they now wish to be put on the public trough. Truly, some businessmen believe they are more equal than others.

But do not blame the pigs; they are expected to act as swine nature dictates. The fault lies entirely with the farmers, those authorities entrusted by the people to oversee the farm because they supposedly knew better. While the pigs were rampaging and tearing the place apart, they were assuring us all that farms function best when animals are free to do as they please, guided solely by invisible hooves. No regulation, no oversight, no common sense. Oh yes, and pigs fly..

So what is to be done now? Two things:

In other words, the focus from now on should be on adding value by means of work and savings (capital formation), instead of inflating assets and borrowing.

Furthermore, we should realize that in a world already inhabited by close to 7 billion people and beset by resource depletion and environmental degradation, defending growth for growth's sake is a losing proposition. The wheels are already wobbling on the Permagrowth model; pumping harder on the accelerator is not going to make it go any faster and will likely result in a fatal crash.

Debt, and finance in general, should be left to re-size downwards to a level that better reflects the carrying capacity of our world. The Fed's current actions are shortsighted and "conservative" in the worst interpretation of the words: they are designed to artificially maintain debt at levels that myopically projects growth as far as the eye can see.

What level of resizing may be necessary? I hope not as much as at Bear Stearns, which got itself bought by Morgan at buzz-saw prices: $2 per share represents a 98% discount from its $84 book value. What scares me, though, is the statement by Morgan's CFO, who said the price reflected the risk the firm was taking, even though he was comfortable with the valuation of assets in Bear's books. It " us the flexibility and margin of error that's appropriate given the speed at which the transaction came together", he said.

If it takes a 98% discount and the explicit guarantee of the Fed for a large portion of assets to buy one of the largest investment banks in the world, where should all other financial firms be trading at? ....Hello? Anyone? Is that a great big silence I hear, or the sound of credit imploding into a vacuum?

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[Jul 16, 2018] Five Things That Would Make The CIA-CNN Russia Narrative More Believable

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... How much proof would I need to lend my voice to the escalation of tensions between two nuclear superpowers? Mountains. I personally would settle for nothing less than hard proof which can be independently verified by trusted experts like the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity. ..."
"... Is that a big ask? Yes. Yes it is. That's what happens when government institutions completely discredit themselves as they did with the false narratives advanced in the manufacturing of support for the Iraq invasion. You don't get to butcher a million Iraqis in a war based on lies, turn around a few years later and say "We need new cold war escalations with a nuclear superpower but we can't prove it because the evidence is secret." That's not a thing. Copious amounts of hard, verifiable proof or GTFO. So far we have no evidence besides the confident-sounding assertions of government insiders and their mass media mouthpieces, which is the same as no evidence. ..."
Jul 15, 2018 |

Authored by Caitlin Johnstone via,

As we just discussed , some major news stories have recently dropped about what a horrible horrifying menace the Russian Federation is to the world , and as always I have nothing to offer the breathless pundits on CNN and MSNBC but my completely unsatisfied skepticism. My skepticism of the official Russia narrative remains so completely unsatisfied that if mainstream media were my husband I would already be cheating on it with my yoga instructor.

I do not believe the establishment Russia narrative. I do not believe that Donald Trump colluded with the Russian government to rig the 2016 election. I do not believe the Russian government did any election rigging for Trump to collude with. This is not because I believe Vladimir Putin is some kind of blueberry-picking girl scout, and it certainly isn't because I think the Russian government is unwilling or incapable of meddling in the affairs of other nations to some extent when it suits them. It is simply because I am aware that the US intelligence community lies constantly as a matter of policy, and because I understand how the burden of proof works.

At this time, I see no reason to espouse any belief system which embraces as true the assertion that Russia meddled in the 2016 elections in any meaningful way, or that it presents a unique and urgent threat to the world which must be aggressively dealt with. But all the establishment mouthpieces tell me that I must necessarily embrace these assertions as known, irrefutable fact. Here are five things that would have to change in order for that to happen:

1. Proof of a hacking conspiracy to elect Trump.

The first step to getting a heretic like myself aboard the Russia hysteria train would be the existence of publicly available evidence of the claims made about election meddling in 2016, which rises to the level required in a post-Iraq invasion world. So far, that burden of proof for Russian hacking allegations has not come anywhere remotely close to being met.

How much proof would I need to lend my voice to the escalation of tensions between two nuclear superpowers? Mountains. I personally would settle for nothing less than hard proof which can be independently verified by trusted experts like the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.

Is that a big ask? Yes. Yes it is. That's what happens when government institutions completely discredit themselves as they did with the false narratives advanced in the manufacturing of support for the Iraq invasion. You don't get to butcher a million Iraqis in a war based on lies, turn around a few years later and say "We need new cold war escalations with a nuclear superpower but we can't prove it because the evidence is secret." That's not a thing. Copious amounts of hard, verifiable proof or GTFO. So far we have no evidence besides the confident-sounding assertions of government insiders and their mass media mouthpieces, which is the same as no evidence.

2. Proof that election meddling actually influenced the election in a meaningful way.

Even if Russian hackers did exfiltrate Democratic party emails and give them to WikiLeaks, if it didn't affect the election, who cares? That's a single-day, second-page story at best, meriting nothing beyond a "Hmm, interesting, turns out Russia tried and failed to influence the US election," followed by a shrug and moving on to something that actually matters.

After it has been thoroughly proven that Russia meddled in the elections in a meaningful way, it must then be established that that meddling had an actual impact on the election results.

3. Some reason to believe Russian election meddling was unwarranted and unacceptable.

The US government, by a very wide margin , interferes in the elections of other countries far, far more than any other government on earth does. The US government's own data shows that it has deliberately meddled in the elections of 81 foreign governments between 1946 and 2000, including Russia in the nineties. This is public knowledge. A former CIA Director cracked jokes about it on Fox News earlier this year.

If I'm going to abandon my skepticism and accept the Gospel According to Maddow, after meaningful, concrete election interference has been clearly established I'm going to need a very convincing reason to believe that it is somehow wrong or improper for a government to attempt to respond in kind to the undisputed single worst offender of this exact offense. It makes no sense for the United States to actively create an environment in which election interference is something that governments do to one another, and then cry like a spanked child when its election is interfered with by one of the very governments whose elections the US recently meddled in.

This is nonsense. America being far and away the worst election meddler on the planet makes it a fair target for election meddling by not just Russia, but every country in the world. It is very obviously moral and acceptable for any government on earth to interfere in America's elections as long as it remains the world's worst offender in that area. In order for Russia to be in the wrong if it interfered in America's elections, some very convincing argument I've not yet heard will have to be made to support that case.

4. Proof that the election meddling went beyond simply giving Americans access to information about their government.

If all the Russians did was simply show Americans emails of Democratic Party officials talking to one another and circulate some MSM articles as claimed in the ridiculous Russian troll farm allegations , that's nothing to get upset about. If anything, Americans should be upset that they had to hear about Democratic Party corruption through the grapevine instead of having light shed on it by the American officials whose job it is to do so. Complaints about election meddling is only valid if that election meddling isn't comprised of truth and facts.

5. A valid reason to believe escalated tensions between two nuclear superpowers are worthwhile.

After it has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Russia did indeed meddle in the US elections in a meaningful way, and after it has then been proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Russia actually influenced election results in a significant way, and after the case has been clearly made that it was bad and wrong for Russia to do this instead of fair and reasonable, and after it has been clearly proven that the election meddling went beyond simply telling Americans the truth about their government, the question then becomes what, if anything, should be done about it?

If you look at the actions that this administration has taken over the last year and a half, the answer to that question appears to be harsh sanctions, NATO expansionism, selling arms to Ukraine, throwing out diplomats, increasing military presence along Russia's border, a Nuclear Posture Review which is much more aggressive toward Russia, repeatedly bombing Syria, and just generally creating more and more opportunities for something to go catastrophically wrong with one of the two nations' aging, outdated nuclear arsenals, setting off a chain of events from which there is no turning back and no surviving.

And the pundits and politicians keep pushing for more and more escalations, at this very moment braying with one voice that Trump must aggressively confront Putin about Mueller's indictments or withdraw from the peace talks. But is it worth it? Is it worth risking the life of every terrestrial organism to, what? What specifically would be gained that makes increasing the risk of nuclear catastrophe worthwhile? Making sure nobody interferes in America's fake elections? I'd need to see a very clear and specific case made, with a 'pros' and 'cons' list and "THE POTENTIAL DEATH OF LITERALLY EVERYTHING" written in big red letters at the top of the 'cons' column.

Rallying the world to cut off Russia from the world stage and cripple its economy has been been a goal of the US power establishment since the collapse of the Soviet Union, so there's no reason to believe that even the people who are making the claims against Russia actually believe them. The goal is crippling Russia to handicap China , and ultimately to shore up global hegemony for the US-centralized empire by preventing the rise of any rival superpowers. The sociopathic alliance of plutocrats and intelligence/defense agencies who control that empire are willing to threaten nuclear confrontation in order to ensure their continued dominance. All of their actions against Russia since 2016 have had everything to do with establishing long-term planetary dominance and nothing whatsoever to do with election meddling.

Those five things would need to happen before I'd be willing to jump aboard the "Russia! Russia! Russia!" train. Until then I'll just keep pointing to the total lack of evidence and how very, very far the CIA/CNN Russia narrative is from credibility.

* * *

Internet censorship is getting pretty bad, so the best way to keep seeing the stuff I publish is to get on the mailing list for my website , which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. My articles are entirely reader and listener-funded, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook , following my antics on Twitter , checking out my podcast , throwing some money into my hat on Patreon or Paypal , or buying my book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers .

[Jul 16, 2018] 2019 is going to be quite interesting and the events might start at the end of 2018

Jun 20, 2018 |

Energy news, 06/14/2018 at 4:42 am

BENGHAZI, Libya, June 14 (Reuters) – Libya's Es Sider oil port was shut on Thursday due to armed clashes nearby and at least one storage tank in the neighbouring Ras Lanuf terminal was set alight, an engineer in the area said.
Photo on Twitter: Reply

Guym , 06/14/2018 at 8:40 am

Drop in the bucket to what is happening right now. US will be about 500k less than their (IEA's) expectations into 2019 due to transportation constraints.

George thinks Venezuela will approximate zero by 2019, as do others.

Give them the benefit of doubt and say a one million decrease from 1.6 at the beginning of this year.

IEA is still using production vs export capabilities, which has to change. Europe's refineries have largely stopped buying Iran's oil, as has India. That's 1.1 million that has to be sold elsewhere, or not. On shipping, insurance, and financing that is not affected by the restrictions. I count 2.6 million into 2019 that is not on IEA's plate.

Yeah, as said above, 2019 is going to be quite interesting, most of which we will see the end of 2018. None of this takes into consideration any increase in demand for 2019 that is over the US production projection for 2019 (.9). nor any shortage carried over from 2018. Yeah, we should be hunky dory.

In the investment world, we will still be watching EIA weeklies, to determine what is happening in the rest of the world for awhile. So increased cognitive function won't happen soon.

[Jul 16, 2018] US total (oil + products) inventories made a new low (from the high February 2017)

Notable quotes:
"... "Conclusion. No matter what clever US energy independence calculations are out there, the fact remains that the US is physically dependent on around 8 mb/d of crude oil imports, 4.3 mb/d out of which come from countries where oil production has already peaked and/or where there are socio-economic or geopolitical problems. As of April 2018 US net crude imports were about 6 mb/d, far from oil independence." ..."
"... I note also that about 45% of USA imports come from Canada, as well depicted in in your Fig 1. Thus we are 'captives' of Canada (to use the terminology of trump), but don't seem to have much appreciation or respect for their position. ..."
Jul 16, 2018 |

Energy News, 07/11/2018 at 1:14 pm

US total (oil + products) inventories made a new low (from the high February 2017)

US ending stocks July 6th
Crude oil down -12.6 million barrels
Oil products down -0.7
Overall total, down -13.3 (shown on chart)
Natural Gas: Propane & NGPLs up +6.1 (not included in chart)

Weekly change in US total (oil + products) inventories

Mushalik , 07/11/2018 at 3:45 pm
US crude oil imports and exports update April 2018 data
Hickory , 07/12/2018 at 11:12 am
Yes indeed, excellent article as always Matt.

"Conclusion. No matter what clever US energy independence calculations are out there, the fact remains that the US is physically dependent on around 8 mb/d of crude oil imports, 4.3 mb/d out of which come from countries where oil production has already peaked and/or where there are socio-economic or geopolitical problems. As of April 2018 US net crude imports were about 6 mb/d, far from oil independence."

I note also that about 45% of USA imports come from Canada, as well depicted in in your Fig 1. Thus we are 'captives' of Canada (to use the terminology of trump), but don't seem to have much appreciation or respect for their position.

[Jul 16, 2018] The West Is Past

Notable quotes:
"... Two U.S. 'realists', Henry Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski, had always warned that the 'west' must keep China and Russia apart if it wants to keep its leading global position. Nixon went to China to achieve that. ..."
"... Years later the U.S. fell for the myth that it had 'won' the Cold War. It felt invincible, the 'sole superpower' and sought to 'rule them all'. It woke up from that dream after it invaded Iraq. The mighty U.S. military was beaten to pulp by the 'sand niggers' it despised. A few years later U.S. financial markets were in shambles. ..."
"... Crude attempts to further encircle Russia led to the Chinese-Russian alliance that now leads the SCO and soon, one might argue, the world. There will be no photo like the above from the SCO summit. The Chinese President Xi calls Russia's President Putin 'my best friend'. ..."
"... Agreed! But what will the US psychopaths do to maintain their grip when they realize they are really losing it? Nuclear war? ..."
"... Watching the two meetings play out has really been interesting, that the West is dead is not in question. And once it started it seems to be gaining momentum. I don't know how many readers here watch CGTN but it is amazing. My IQ goes up every time I watch. Astonishing how much more valuable information you get from a "heavily censored" Chinese news compared to MSM. The website is a little slow at times but it is well worth the wait. ..."
Jun 10, 2018 |

G-7 summits are supposed to symbolize "the west", its unity and its power. The summits pretended to set policy directions for the world. We are happy to see that they are dead.

Trump was obviously not inclined to compromise.

Before attending the summit Trump trolled his colleagues by inviting Russia to rejoin the G-7/G-8 format without conditions. Russia had been kicked out after Crimea voted to join its motherland. Merkel, who had negotiated the Minsk agreement with Russia, was furious. She wants to use such an invitation as an element of future negotiations. (It is stupid talk. Russia is not interested in rejoining the G-7/G-8 format.)

There are now many fields where the U.S. and its allies disagree: climate change, the Iran deal, trade are only the major ones.

Before leaving the summit Trump again used Mafia language against everyone else:

As he prepared to depart early from the G-7 summit in Charlevoix, Canada, to head to Singapore ahead of his planned meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Trump delivered an ultimatum to foreign leaders, demanding that their countries reduce trade barriers for the U.S. or risk losing market access to the world's largest economy.

"They have no choice. I'll be honest with you, they have no choice," Trump told reporters at a news conference, adding that companies and jobs had left the U.S. to escape trade barriers abroad. "We're going to fix that situation. And if it's not fixed, then we're not going to deal with these countries. "

The row at the G-7 meeting was in stark contrast to the more important other meeting that happened today, the 18th Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Qingdao, China:

Dazzling against the city skyline of Qingdao, fireworks lit up the faces of guests who traveled across the vast Eurasian continent to the coast of the Yellow Sea for the 18th Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit, on Saturday night.

It is the first such summit since the organization's expansion in June 2017 when India and Pakistan joined as full members.


The Shanghai Spirit of mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, consultation, respect for diverse civilizations and pursuit of common development , was stated in the Charter of the SCO, a comprehensive regional organization founded in 2001 by China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan and later expanded to eight member states.

This weekend Xi will chair the summit for the first time as Chinese president, which is attended by leaders of other SCO member states and four observer states, as well as chiefs of various international organizations.


The SCO has grown to be an organization covering over 60 percent of the Eurasian landmass, nearly half the world's population and over 20 percent of global GDP.

Two U.S. 'realists', Henry Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski, had always warned that the 'west' must keep China and Russia apart if it wants to keep its leading global position. Nixon went to China to achieve that.

Years later the U.S. fell for the myth that it had 'won' the Cold War. It felt invincible, the 'sole superpower' and sought to 'rule them all'. It woke up from that dream after it invaded Iraq. The mighty U.S. military was beaten to pulp by the 'sand niggers' it despised. A few years later U.S. financial markets were in shambles.

Crude attempts to further encircle Russia led to the Chinese-Russian alliance that now leads the SCO and soon, one might argue, the world. There will be no photo like the above from the SCO summit. The Chinese President Xi calls Russia's President Putin 'my best friend'.

The 'west' has lost in Eurasia.

The U.S. is reduced to a schoolyard bully who beats up his gang members because their former victims have grown too big. Trump is off to Singapore to meet Kim Yong-un. Unlike Trump North Korea's supreme leader will be well prepared. It is likely that he will run rings around Trump during the negotiations. If Trump tries to bully him like he bullies his 'allies', Kim will pack up and leave. Unlike the U.S. 'allies' he has no need to bow to Trump. China and Russia have his back. They are now the powers that can lead the world.

The 'west' is past. The future is in the east.

Posted by b on June 9, 2018 at 03:14 PM | Permalink

Kelli , Jun 9, 2018 3:37:22 PM | 1

Agreed! But what will the US psychopaths do to maintain their grip when they realize they are really losing it? Nuclear war?
Laguerre , Jun 9, 2018 3:44:17 PM | 2
Yeah, I was just thinking that. Trump is running full-speed into isolation. It's an ancient policy, which recalls the 1920s. What does America need of the outside world? Good question.

I would think we will hear in the not too distant future of a European replacement of the US exchange systems, such as VISA. The Americans have become too unreliable. Obviously the Russians and Chinese do have their own systems, but that won't do for the EU.

Independence is going to be forced, and the consequences will be permanent.

Babyl-on , Jun 9, 2018 3:53:27 PM | 5

Watching the two meetings play out has really been interesting, that the West is dead is not in question. And once it started it seems to be gaining momentum. I don't know how many readers here watch CGTN but it is amazing. My IQ goes up every time I watch. Astonishing how much more valuable information you get from a "heavily censored" Chinese news compared to MSM. The website is a little slow at times but it is well worth the wait.

Last year during the border standoff with India they had on strident Indian voices arguing the Indian position every day. Imagine if CNN had on Mexican reps regarding the wall - never happen.

Harry Law , Jun 9, 2018 3:59:37 PM | 6
Because Iran was under sanctions levied by the United Nations earlier, it was blocked from admission as a new member of the Shanghai Cooperation Council [SCO]. The SCO stated that any country under UN sanctions could not be admitted. After the UN sanctions were lifted, Chinese president Xi Jinping announced its support for Iran's full membership in SCO during a state visit to Iran in January 2016.Iran must join the SCO ASAP it is also a military alliance and should prepare itself for a big effort at regime change by the US and lackeys. The moral of the story unless they hang together, the US will hang them separately.
ashley albanese , Jun 9, 2018 4:01:15 PM | 7
Well, China as the text books say was always ' half the human story' - only eclipsed by Western connivance in the 1860's .I remember my father argueing with high ranking Australian government and commercial figures in 1970.

My father argued Australia needed to find its own voice with China and Chinese policy . They replied sneeringly '' Ralph , their just red communists and will never amount to anything ' . Shortly thereafter Nixon flew to Beijing and my father sat back in his living room with a sardonic look on his face !

Scotch Bingeington , Jun 9, 2018 4:05:14 PM | 8
Interesting picture! Judging by his posture, Japan's Prime Minister Abe seems to back Trump's position.

By the way, Mr. Abe doesn't look Japanese to me, he rather has a striking resemblance to a certain Bavarian actor - one Max Griesser .

Laguerre , Jun 9, 2018 4:13:18 PM | 9
You may like Freedland's article yesterday, which unusually I agreed with, that in fact Trump is a poor negotiator, and gives away tricks he doesn't have to. Why no concession from Israel, over the move of the US embassy to Jerusalem? Why give away the honour to NK of a one-to-one with the US president? I'd be surprised if NK surrenders, when they know what will happen if they do.

Madderhatter67 , Jun 9, 2018 4:18:15 PM | 10
They did win the Cold War. That's how they became the'sole superpower'.
Red Ryder , Jun 9, 2018 4:25:57 PM | 11
"President Putin is the leader of a great country who is influential around the world," Xi said. "He is my best, most intimate friend." Xi promised Russia and China would increase their coordination in the international arena.

Putin expressed his thanks for the honor and said he saw it as an "evaluation" of his nation's efforts to strengthen its relationship with its southern neighbor.

"This is an indication of the special attention and respect on which our mutual national interests are based, the interests of our peoples and, of course, our personal friendship," Putin said.

This is not going missed by the West.

But it is unstoppable. The range of integrating projects the Chinese and Russians are working on is more than strategic.

They are forcing a massive shift in economics that is impossible for the US and EU to maintain as competitors.

The Double Helix is ascending.

Peter AU 1 , Jun 9, 2018 4:34:45 PM | 12
Interesting that Trump has said Russia should be invited back into the west's G7/G8 at this time. In cold war 1.0, Soviet Union was the main enemy of the US and China was split away from the Soviet Union. In this war, Trump sees China's economy as the main threat to the US and is trying but failing to pull Russia away from China.
Lea , Jun 9, 2018 4:45:07 PM | 13
Posted by: Madderhatter67 | Jun 9, 2018 4:18:15 PM | 10
They did win the Cold War. That's how they became the'sole superpower'.

If winning the Cold War is about vanquishing communism, they flat out lost. Because, while they were concentrating on the end of the USSR and celebrating, China was going up and up and up. They never saw her coming, yet to this day and for the foreseeable future, China is a socialist, Marxist country.

So the new, desperate Western spin is to try to argue that China has "succumbed" to capitalism. Yeah, right, a country where all the private companies have to have members of the CPC on their board and hand over enough shares to the state to grant it veto powers, not to mention the Central bank and all its major companies are state-owned... Lol.

les7 , Jun 9, 2018 4:49:57 PM | 14
"The 'west' is past. The future is in the east."

Wow... such grandiose conclusions...

After the collapse of the USSR the consensus - even of the alt-media (what little of it existed) was that a new American century was on the way and the whole world would be better off for it. A decade later in 2003 the consensus (post 'shock & awe' Gulf War 2) was that America had the ability to re-structure the Asian /African world and that it would all be for good.

15 years later we are all sick of the fruit of that delusion. So we look to another power to save us... Do we understand nothing?

Without the accountability of multi-polarity, Western supreme power all became security-obsessed privilege, self-aggrandizement, blatant plunder and total disregard for moral value and life. Power corrupts - it knows no exceptions.

If the West is truly dead, the East will be no different.

Laguerre , Jun 9, 2018 4:55:53 PM | 15
re 12
Interesting that Trump has said Russia should be invited back into the west's G7/G8 at this time.
Thought of a moment to annoy the Europeans. It is obvious that Trump was pissed off about having to attend, and left at the earliest opportunity. The Europeans heard that, and will draw the inevitable conclusions.
Quentin , Jun 9, 2018 4:57:21 PM | 16
Lea @ 13 Socialist, Marxist, Capitalist, what does it matter: it seems to work for China, at least for the time being. It's success makes me think that a bit more government control of corporations might not be such a bad thing.
Grieved , Jun 9, 2018 5:00:44 PM | 17
The summit with Kim will be fascinating to observe. In my view, NK has finessed the US and the Trump administration to a degree I would not have thought possible, even from native US insiders. To do it long range from the other side of the world speaks to me a lot about the power of Asia, and the clarity of view from there.

I agree with Laguerre @9 that Trump is a terrible negotiator (forgive that I didn't read the Guardian piece). I would take this much further and say that all the US institutions themselves are culturally crippled in terms of understanding what's happening in the ascendancy of Asia. All of their negotiation is feeble, because their grasp on their own true position is based on yesterday's view of their power. You cannot go into negotiation without knowing what you hold.

Every day, I become more confident in the ability of the elder nations to put the young western empires to rest without their being triggered into death spasms.

Red Ryder @11 - I see China's full-on drive for the one Road as its way of waging total war, its strategic masterstroke to render the enemy powerless without the enemy's realizing that it is being attacked. Russia as the other half of the Double Helix mesmerizes the west with weaponry while China undercuts the ground. Both countries are fully at war, and winning, while unseeing commenters complain that it's time for them to "do something." How superb the silk rope drawn so softly around the throat.

It's a beautiful play. I very much hope - and truly expect - that we can all survive to be able to sit back and admire it as the years unfold.

psychohistorian , Jun 9, 2018 5:05:30 PM | 18
I have a small quibble with b's wording but thank him for following and reporting on our evolving world.

b's words:"

The U.S. is reduced to a schoolyard bully who beats up his gang members because their former victims have grown too big.


My rewording:

The global elite have their US puppet acting like a schoolyard bully who beat up his gang members because their former victims have grown too big.

The West is trying to consolidate power and control while they still have some ghost of a chance. How they hold countries after this global divorce will be interesting.

At his time the West has little to offer humanistically except its vice grip on most economic interaction and the tools including banking underpinning the "system". The elite have deluded the public in the West for centuries about private finance behind the scenes of all/most conflict......pointing to other religions but never their own.

It sure is getting interesting. IMO, the two Koreas are going to announce a reconciliation that requires the removal of America military forces/bases et al, which fits in with the fake nationalism efforts of Trump.

Jen , Jun 9, 2018 5:09:16 PM | 19
That the US and the EU and their respective camps are at loggerheads over trade and perhaps other economic issues should not (I hope) lead readers to assume that one side has the interests of the public it represents uppermost in mind. As the US and the Anglosphere is dominated by one set of neoliberals, so Germany and the lackey EU nations following Berlin are dominated by another set of neoliberals in thrall to an export-led mercantilist ideology. Just as the elites in charge of US power structures are only interested in enriching themselves, the same can be said for those in charge of power structures in Europe. Whether under the US or the EU, the public suffers.

Notice that Germany benefits from being the major economic power in the EU while its fellow EU nations around the Atlantic and Mediterranean rim flail under a huge debt (and Greece is being punished back into the impoverished colonial status it held under Nazi German occupation) and eastern European EU members are following suit running their economies into the ground and having to beg NATO into setting up bases in their territories to attract money. At the same time German workers are becoming poorer, they are not benefiting from Berlin's economic policies, they are not reproducing fast enough so Berlin needs to bring in more foreign workers in the guise of "refugees" to prop up factories and keep wages low.

@ Madderhatter67: The US did not win the Cold War because the Cold War was only ever a propaganda front for the secret war waged by US / UK elites against Russia and China to dominate and rob these nations and their neighbours of their natural resources.

Grieved , Jun 9, 2018 5:12:25 PM | 20
@5 Babyl-on

Thanks for the nod to CGTN. For any who care, I searched out its YouTube channel and it produces a huge daily output in English:

I've recently added Vesti News to my news for the same reason, a large daily feed of short clips of the Russian view, in English:

I've never been a TV watcher, especially not for news, but I'm enjoying these tastes and flavors of this burgeoning century.

james , Jun 9, 2018 5:20:12 PM | 21
thanks b - and for the laugh with the marjorie and homer pic for comparison!

i think this parallel you draw is a good one.. the west is certainly floundering... i am not sure how global finance responds here... i can't imagine the 1% being on the wrong side of a bet on the direction of things here either..

@6 harry law.. did iran make it into the sco? it sounds like it did.. good!

@14 les7.. regarding your last line - i tend to agree with that viewpoint..

@19 jen... do you think it will be somehow different if the power shifts to russia/china? i guess i am not so sanguine over power, regardless of who holds it.

Wess County , Jun 9, 2018 5:23:01 PM | 22
Very well put, only issue that as to be dealt with is all those Stan Countries, they are a hibernating and breeding ground for Terrorists and Arms dealers , who don't care who they sell arms to and how they get them to rogue regimes.
Zanon , Jun 9, 2018 5:28:02 PM | 23
Its quite funny how Trump wrecked that meeting.

Trump could talk about Russia but who cares, he cant be trusted, hes totally unreliable and hopefully Russia sees that.

Zanon , Jun 9, 2018 5:29:13 PM | 24
at the same time Trump is a king, just look at how the pathetic western states STAND AROUND HIM begging him basically on all kinds of things!
Laguerre , Jun 9, 2018 5:57:10 PM | 25
re Grieved 17
I see China's full-on drive for the one Road as its way of waging total war, its strategic masterstroke to render the enemy powerless without the enemy's realizing that it is being attacked.
I do think you're exaggerating there.

China's past history has been one of a country very contented with itself, much like the US, because defended geographically by vast deserts. A longer history, so some foreigners did traverse the deserts.

The Chinese exported their products by foreign ships (Arabo-Persian) arriving at Canton, and buying cargoes, or camel caravans arriving in the north and buying silk. The Chinese themselves did not travel abroad very much, and so didn't know very much about surrounding countries, or the rest of the world. There was a fleet of Chinese junks which arrived in the Gulf in the 14th century, but it was the only one.

Today's situation is not so different. There are Chinese interventions in Africa, but their diplomacy is pretty ham-fisted. The Belt-and-Road initiative is in fact intended to bring up to speed Central Asian countries like Tajikistan. Fine, Tajikistan needs it, but it's not world-changing.

The rail freight from Beijing to Frankfurt works better as an intermediate between sea and air freight, but essentially it is what has always happened - foreigners export Chinese products. The Chinese don't know how to run a foreign policy.

bjd , Jun 9, 2018 5:58:01 PM | 26
I am surprised nobody here remarked on the pontifically present John Bolton.

This was about Iran, I am pretty sure.

bjd , Jun 9, 2018 6:02:20 PM | 27
I note, by the way, that in the second photo, the two persons holding a paper are not on the same page .

Talk about symbolism.

bjd , Jun 9, 2018 6:07:30 PM | 28
Have a closer look and you'll see that in the first photo, John Bolton is talking (Trump is silent and sitting there like 'Il Duce').

Bolton is talking to Macron, who is looking straight at Bolton.

In the second photo, Merkel is looking at Bolton, who is probably speaking at that moment.

Tell me this is not about Iran.

michaelj72 , Jun 9, 2018 6:26:40 PM | 29
hopehely at @4

"OK, so, is Japan 'east' or 'west'?"

from their body language, I would say that Japan is surely 'with' Trump and the US, but that's only because that arch-reactionary Abe is in power.....and when he goes, and go he will, there will be a big period of adjustment...some day.

Villainesse , Jun 9, 2018 6:26:46 PM | 30
The scambastic Trump could be inclined to make a slightly more fair deal in Singapore just to make a deal, but he is going extra early (no jet lag) and will be controlled by Pompeo with his 'Grim Reaper' CIA-dog/warhawk/translator/born & raised S. Korean with multiple relations in their South KCIA (NIS) and cabinet leadership, Andrew Kim (born Kim Sung-hyun). Kim's purpose will be to control Trump's spontaneaous decision making, inform him on what he reads as N. Korea's intent, and give baseline hawkish color to the translations for his own hawkish viewpoint.
annie , Jun 9, 2018 6:29:13 PM | 31
bjd, bolton is trump's overseer, making sure he doesn't step out of line.

Trump is a poor negotiator, and gives away tricks he doesn't have to. Why no concession from Israel, over the move of the US embassy to Jerusalem?

Laguerre, you have it backwards. the embassy move, the iran deal, and the appointment of bolton are all concessions trump made, as payback for adelson's millions to both the gop and his campaign. possibly also has a little something to do cambridge analytica, honey traps or whatever.

Adelson: the casino mogul driving Trump's Middle East policy

The imprint of the 84-year-old's political passions is seen in an array of Donald Trump's more controversial decisions, including violating the Iran nuclear deal, moving the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, and appointing the ultra-hawkish John Bolton as national security adviser.

......The New York Times reported that Adelson is a member of a "shadow National Security Council" advising Bolton

Jen , Jun 9, 2018 6:36:52 PM | 32
James @ 21: I think one should always be a bit suspicious of those who hold power, especially those who find themselves holding the uppermost hand in power as a result of victory in war (whether in the form of actual military combat, trade war or other wars in soft power).

Russia under Vladimir Putin and China under Xi Jinping may be fine but will their successors know not to abuse the power they may gain from the New Silk Road projects encompassing Eurasia and Africa?

hopehely , Jun 9, 2018 6:38:17 PM | 33
Posted by: bjd | Jun 9, 2018 6:02:20 PM | 27
I note, by the way, that in the second photo, the two persons holding a paper are not on the same page.

Talk about symbolism.

In that pic, is that Miller lurking from behind?

Red Ryder , Jun 9, 2018 6:42:03 PM | 34
@29, bjd,

Of course, it is about Iran. It's the Iranian deal that the EU needs to continue. They benefit as the biggest vendors to Iran. They want to get inside that developing 70 million person market, also.

Bolton wants regime change. The EU knows that will be worse than Iraq. And economically, the EU will be in the dumps for 2 decades if there's another war they are forced to join. And they will be forced to join. They cannot say No to the Hegemon.

The EU 2, Germany and France, are at a historic moment of truth.

They could have a great future with Russia, China, Iran, the BRICS, SCO, OBOR and EAEU or they could be crippled by the Empire.

John Gilberts , Jun 9, 2018 7:01:17 PM | 35
Excellent analysis as always. Here's the muck CBC is reporting on the summit.

Canada Rejects Trump's Call to Let Russia Back Into G-7

"...But Canada, which pushed for Russia to get the boot in 2014, is not onside. 'Russia was invited to be part of this club and I think that was a very wise initiation, and an invitation full of goodwill,'[FM Chrystia Freeland] she told reporters at the summit. 'Russia, however, made clear that it had no interest in behaving according to the rules of Western democracies..."

Glad to hear it...

michaelj72 , Jun 9, 2018 7:15:43 PM | 36
it's kind of wonderful to see all these imperialist and former neo-colonial powers fighting among themselves.

unfortunately, like the old African proverb goes, when the elephants fight it's the grass and small animals that suffer.

I see no reason for optimism for the peoples of europe at this point, as the stranglehold of the Trioka is perhaps as strong as ever, and hundreds of millions of people are suffering; the people simply have to get organized at all levels and take back their sovereignty at least as a start

WorldBLee , Jun 9, 2018 7:17:31 PM | 37
The US still has the power of the dollar in its arsenal. The UK and EU, and any nation that deals with Wall Street, are addicted to US investment in dollars. Since the EU is run by the banks, and western banks can't function with the dollar, any statements by the EU that they're going to avoid US sanctions over Iran are meaningless.

The equation is essentially this: you can have your sovereignty or you can have the benefits of the dollar that make your 1% very rich. You can't have both. Since the EU is ruled by the 1% banker/investor class they will forestall any attempts to regain sovereignty by the people. In a sense, Europe is like Russia 10-15 years ago, thinking that the US is the key to the golden calf. Russia learned the hard way they needed to establish some independence (although to this day Russia doesn't have nearly the financial independence one might hope), and China saw from Russia's example they needed to do so as well. This led them to team up on many economic initiatives while seeking to reduce the dominance of the dollar.

Perhaps someday Europe will learn this lesson. But as long as the EU exists, I kind of doubt it. The EU-crats will cry and criticize Trump but the bankers love US money too much to let them actually do anything serious.

Ghost Ship , Jun 9, 2018 7:20:38 PM | 38
Paul Krugman is tweeting that this is all happening because Trump doesn't understand Value-Added Tax !

This is not an endorsement of Krugman who is trying to blame it on Putin.

rexl , Jun 9, 2018 7:56:05 PM | 39
If the West is dead and the East is the future, then why are so many Chinese buying houses and living part time in Canada, Australia, and the USA? Why is there so much emphasis put on Western education facilities by Asians?
Winston , Jun 9, 2018 8:02:05 PM | 40
I'm sure Trump doesn't understand VAT.

Most Americans don't no matter how much explanation I go into.

They insist its a tariff or duty,which its not.

I've given up trying to explain its a sales tax on all,paying at customs is merely a cash flow issue for the importer.A reclaimable input on his VAT return,did it many times myself.

Sabine , Jun 9, 2018 8:11:53 PM | 41
there is no west nor east.

there is only a bunch of paid of administrators running the countries and the corporations that pay them.

Trumps quid pro quo is deals that benefit his family. I don't thinks he cares one bit about the GOP and how the party fundraises. He cares about advancing his family and keeping the loot.

maybe we should realize that the concepts of east and west, as much as neo liberalism or neo conservatism or any other moniker that we could apply to loot and steal - legally and without shame under the guise of trade - are concepts of the past.

the future is for the strongest, irrespective of their origins or philosophy. we are burning this planet down with a vengeance and we - the people - are to numerous and too expensive to keep.

while we debate and some even chuckle with delight as to how the west is treated by trump, or how much the west deserves to be made redundant and all hail the Russians and the Chinese - the king is dead, long live the king - it is us who dies in the wars, it is our children that are being kidnapped and locked up in prison when arriving on the border seeking asylum, it is us who will watch the women in our live die in childbirth because of lack of medical care, it is us who will die of black lung, hunger, thirst and general malice.

and while we gossip, they laugh all the way to the bank.

NemesisCalling , Jun 9, 2018 8:24:56 PM | 42
b, we have no doubt that the North Korean leadership is ready for the Americans and know the score with a rising Eurasia and a sinking NATO. However, your last assumption of Kim being more than ready to go toe-to-toe with DJT smacks of some of the worst tendencies of many posters here who are ready to venerate Kim without him ever even making formal address of more than a few words to a) his people, 2) his allies, or D) even the world. This is a laughable assumption from you and it would be like having the most beautifully-made garment handy for a long while, desperate for anyone to come along so you could fling it on them to prove they were the most amazing supreme leader in all the world!

This is not to say I do not want the NoKos to succeed in their endeavors of getting a fair deal...hardly: I think they will succeed eventually because they are shrewd. But this is an attempt to squash the unbelievably propagandistic (or naive) attempts to place the mantle of imperviousness, all-knowingness, utterly-innocentness, and insurmountably-cleverousness onto the boy that would be king. DJT could eat a boy like Kim for breakfast if left alone from their advisors.

CE , Jun 9, 2018 8:26:35 PM | 43
Interesting that this happens in June. Because it reminds me of this classic little fun ditty:

Death in June - Death of the West

ben , Jun 9, 2018 8:33:09 PM | 44
Sabine @ 41 said:"there is no west nor east.

"there is only a bunch of paid of administrators running the countries and the corporations that pay them"

And this"and while we gossip, they laugh all the way to the bank."

I would tend to agree, but I'm hoping b's right in his assessment, the empire and her minions very badly need a comeuppance..

dh , Jun 9, 2018 8:45:10 PM | 45
Trump is very dependent on his base. He knows them well. At risk of hitting a discordant note I suspect a lot of his fans are happy seeing him sock it to the goddamn ch*nks and euro faggots.
Daniel , Jun 9, 2018 8:46:57 PM | 46
It's a big weekend. G7, SCO, Bilderberg, NATO Defence Ministers meeting in Brussels and the huge NATO "Drills" including the Baltic States and for the first time, Israel.

Oh, and the US called on NATO to add 30 land battalions, 30 air fighter squadrons, and 30 naval ships to "counter Russian aggression."

The AZW Empire is not giving up its plans.

karlof1 , Jun 9, 2018 8:47:27 PM | 47
I predicted it would become the G6+1 and so it has. Trump told his staffers NOT to sign the Joint Communique, which I believe is a first.

On the issue of power and the BRI , the linked item is a trove of info as it focuses on perhaps the most problematic region of the SCO/BRI.

If Europe is to break free from the Outlaw US Empire, Merkel must be jettisoned and independent-minded leaders must take control of Germany and EU. I'm not at all surprised with how events went in Canada. However, I see the Policy as the Bully, not Trump, the policy still being the attempt to gain Full Spectrum Domination. What's most important, IMO, is this spectacle will not go unnoticed by the rest of the world. The Outlaw US Empire cannot make it any plainer that it's the primary enemy state of all except the Zionist Abomination. I think Abe wonders why he's there and not in Qingdao.

Although this item focuses on Kashmir , it should be read after the longer article linked above. There's little news as of yet coming from Qingdao other than who's cooking what and sideline meets. I expect more coming out beginning Monday. Of course, Kim-Trump begins now, it being the 10th in Singapore already.

bevin , Jun 9, 2018 10:26:24 PM | 48
The difference between the two projects- the western Empire and the Eurasian schemes exemplified by OBOR- is that the former, as 500 years of experience teaches us, relies on ethnic divisions, wars and competition while the latter requires peace and co-operation.

In a sense that answers Jen @ 32. It really doesn't matter who runs the governments of China and Russia, provided that they can prevent the imperialists from distracting them into rivalry. It was that which, thanks to plenty of stupidity on both sides, gave rise to the tensions of which Nixon and Kissinger took advantage.

Had the USSR and China ironed out their small differences on the sixties- and Vietnam gave them a perfect excuse to do so, history would have been very different and probably much less bloody.

The truth is that, as b asserts, the SCO is already much more important than the G7- America and the Six Dwarfs. How much more important is shown by the role of Freeland (the neo-Nazi Ukrainian apologist) in insisting on holding the line against Russia's re-admission to a club that it almost certainly does not want to rejoin.

Trump may not be a 'good negotiator' but he has a position of relative strength vis a vis the rest of the G7 who cannot negotiate because they do as they are told. If they won't do what Trump tells them to do they will be on the lookout for someone else to give them orders-they have no idea of independence or sovereignty. Just watch most of them scuttle back to Brussels for ideas, or set up back channels to Moscow- once a puppet always a puppet.

karlof1 , Jun 9, 2018 11:57:39 PM | 49
The Sino-Soviet Split occurred while Stalin was still alive--he refused to allow the Chinese to develop "Communism with Chinese Characteristics" just like any other European Orientalist. And as the Monthly Review article I linked, the Chinese must beware of becoming/being seen as Imperialistic in their zeal to push BRI--Imperialist behavior will kill the Win-Win concept as it will revert to just another Zero-sum Game.
Hoarsewhisperer , Jun 10, 2018 12:20:55 AM | 50
One of the factors which has been killing the 'Democratic' West is that its bribed & blackmailed leaders have alienated themselves from The People whose views they were elected to represent.

No-one living in a so-called democracy is prepared to tolerate a leader who spends too much time praising, and making excuses for, the crimes of the racist-supremacist Zionist Abomination (h/t karlof1) and its Piece Process in Palestine. It can be persuasively argued that embrace of and fealty to the Z.A. is the only factor which Western Leaders have in common. And it's neither a coincidence nor happenstance.

ben , Jun 10, 2018 12:40:15 AM | 51
Hoarsewhisperer @ 50 said:" Piece Process in Palestine."

Nice word play. I'm assuming the "piece" word is referring to the Israelis taking the Palestinian's lands one piece at a time..

Debsisdead , Jun 10, 2018 12:51:14 AM | 52
Grrr! I still don't get why so many humans believe anything good comes from chucking aside one greedy oppressive arsehole then replacing it with another. Sure the SCO has a founding document laden with flowery words and seemingly wonderful concepts but I say "So what" check out the UN charter or the amerikan constitution and you'll find the same.

These issues of justice & equity cannot be fixed by swapping bosses because every society has its share of pathologically fucked up greedies who have the means and lack of empathy to destroy anything and everyone in their lust for whatever it is they imagine they need.

We have to accept that will never change and that trying to purge the planet of those types just creates more of them from within the structure most successful in effecting the swap.

I know I sound like a scratched disc but the only fix that could hope to work is one that smashes the conglomerations into tiny shards, reducing the world to thousands of small self governing entities; sure some places will still end up being taken over by low self esteem motivated arseholes, but not only will they not be able to do as much damage, arseholes stand out in a small society where more 'normal' humans interact with them - currently all the pr1cks coagulate in spots such as the G7 and few non-pr1cks ever get close enough to see them for what they are. A low count on the old degrees of seperation register makes it much more difficult for the scum to rise. Making sure that no chunk is sufficiently big to force its will on another would also be vital.

That won't fix everything, but who outside some totally screwed up anal regressive would want that anyway? I just want to live in a world where no one cops it like the entire Yemeni population currently is. I see no benefit in moving the horror from Yemen to Uigar-land or whatever place the new bosses decide should be their fun palace of hate, murder and misery.

The Congo and/or Nigeria another coupla sites of misery for money. Timor Leste aka East Timor, now that the Portuguese expats in the form of the man with the Nobel stamp of obeisance to the monied Jose Ramos Horta have done over the locals, something Xanana Gusmão always said could happen. Horta's arseholeness made the wealthiest nation in the world (divide resources by population) riven by poverty, lack of health and education services plus of course old favourite, racist oppression. Check out these kids here untroubled by issues like getting a decent phone signal or their ranking on Twitch - wondering where their next decent feed is coming from is prolly their most pressing issue.

Swapping SCO for G7 will do SFA for them or anyone else unlucky enough to be living on top of whatever the current 'must have' is deemed to be.

Anyone who imagines that it could is delusional.

karlof1 , Jun 10, 2018 12:55:44 AM | 53
Official SCO Conference site .

Humanity either learns how to live with itself on an equal basis or it will perish; it's really that simple. The likes of the Outlaw US Empire, its NATO vassals and the Zionist Abomination are shining examples of what MUST be exorcised for ever more.

[Jul 16, 2018] Donald Trump s Trade Wars Could Lead to the Next Great Depression by Nomi Prins

Jun 22, 2018 |

EDITOR'S NOTE: This article originally appeared at .

Leaders are routinely confronted with philosophical dilemmas. Here's a classic one for our Trumptopian times: If you make enemies out of your friends and friends out of your enemies, where does that leave you? What does winning (or losing) really look like? Is a world in which walls of every sort encircle America's borders a goal worth seeking? And what would be left in a future fragmented international economic system marked by tit-for-tat tariffs, travel restrictions, and hyper-nationalism? Ultimately, how will such a world affect regular people? Let's cut through all of this for the moment and ask one crucial question about our present cult-of-personality era in American politics: Other than accumulating more wealth and influence for himself, his children , and the Trump family empire , what's Donald J. Trump's end game as president? If his goal is to keep this country from being, as he likes to complain, " the world's piggy bank ," then his words, threats, and actions are concerning. However bombastic and disdainful of a history he appears to know little about, he is already making the world a less stable, less affordable, and more fear-driven place. In the end, it's even possible that, despite the upbeat economic news of the moment, he could almost single-handedly smash that piggy bank himself, as he has many of his own business ventures . Still, give him credit for one thing: Donald Trump has lent remarkable new meaning to the old phrase "the imperial presidency." The members of his administration, largely a set of aging white men, either conform to his erratic wishes or get fired. In other words, he's running domestic politics in much the same fashion as he oversaw the boardroom on his reality-TV show The Apprentice . Now, he's begun running the country's foreign policy in the same personalized, take-no-prisoners, you're-fired style. From the moment he hit the Oval Office, he's made it clear at home and abroad that it's his way or the highway. If only, of course, it really was that simple. What he will learn, if "learning process" and "President Trump" can even occupy the same sentence, is that "firing" Canada, the European Union (EU), or for that matter China has a cost. What the American working and the middle classes will see (sooner than anyone imagines) is that actions of his sort have unexpected global consequences. They could cost the United States and the rest of the world big-time. If he were indeed emperor and his subjects (that would be us) grasped where his policies might be leading, they would be preparing a revolt. In the end, they -- again, that's us -- will be the ones paying the price in this global chess match.

The Art of Trump's Deals

So far, President Trump has only taken America out of trade deals or threatened to do so if other countries don't behave in a way that satisfies him. On his third day in the White House, he honored his campaign promise to remove the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a decision that opened space for our allies and competitors, China in particular, to negotiate deals without us. Since that grand exit, there has, in fact, been a boom in side deals involving China and other Pacific Rim countries that has weakened, not strengthened, Washington's global bargaining position. Meanwhile, closer to home, the Trump administration has engaged in a barrage of NAFTA-baiting that is isolating us from our regional partners, Canada and Mexico.

Conversely, the art-of-the-deal aficionado has yet to sign a single new bilateral trade deal. Despite steadfast claims that he would serve up the best deals ever, we have been left with little so far but various tariffs and an onslaught against American trading partners. His one claim to bilateral-trade-deal fame was the renegotiation of a six-year-old deal with South Korea in March that doubled the number of cars each US manufacturer could export to South Korea (without having to pass as many safety standards).

As White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders put it , when speaking of Kim Jong-un's North Korea, "The President is, I think, the ultimate negotiator and dealmaker when it comes to any type of conversation." She left out the obvious footnote, however: any type that doesn't involve international trade.

In the past four months, Trump has imposed tariffs, exempting certain countries, only to reimpose them at his whim. If trust were a coveted commodity, when it came to the present White House, it would now be trading at zero. His supporters undoubtedly see this approach as the fulfillment of his many campaign promises and part of his classic method of keeping both friends and enemies guessing until he's ready to go in for the kill. At the heart of this approach, however, lies a certain global madness, for he now is sparking a set of trade wars that could, in the end, cost millions of American jobs.

The Allies

On May 31st, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross confirmed that Canada, Mexico, and the EU would all be hit with 10 percent aluminum and 25 percent steel tariffs that had first made headlines in March. When it came to those two products, at least, the new tariffs bore no relation to the previous average 3 percent tariff on US-EU traded goods.

In that way, Trump's tariffs, initially supposed to be aimed at China (a country whose president he's praised to the skies and whose trade policies he's lashed out at endlessly), went global. And not surprisingly, America's closest allies weren't taking his maneuver lightly. As the verbal-abuse level rose and what looked like a possible race to the bottom of international etiquette intensified, they threatened to strike back.

In June, President Trump ordered that a promised 25 percent tariff on $50 billion worth of imported goods from China also be imposed. In response, the Chinese, like the Europeans, the Canadians, and the Mexicans, immediately promised a massive response in kind. Trump countered by threatening another $200 billion in tariffs against China. In the meantime, the White House is targeting its initial moves largely against products related to that country's " Made in China 2025 " initiative, the Chinese government's strategic plan aimed at making the country a major competitor in advanced industries and manufacturing.

Meanwhile, Mexico began adopting retaliatory tariffs on American imports. Although it has a far smaller economy than the United States, it's still the second-largest importer of US products, buying a whopping $277 billion of them last year. Only Canada buys more. In a mood of defiance stoked by the president's hostility to its people, Mexico executed its own trade gambit, imposing $3 billion in 15 percent–25 percent tariffs against US exports, including pork, apples, potatoes, bourbon, and cheese.

While those Mexican revenge tariffs still remain limited, covering just 1 percent of all exports from north of the border, they do target particular industries hard, especially ones that seem connected to President Trump's voting "base." Mexico, for instance, is by far the largest buyer of US pork exports, 25 percent of which were sold there last year. What its 20 percent tariff on pork means, then, is that many US producers will now find themselves unable to compete in the Mexican market. Other countries may follow suit. The result: a possible loss of up to 110,000 jobs in the pork industry.

Our second North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) partner (for whose prime minister, Justin Trudeau, there is " a special place in hell ," according to a key Trumpian trade negotiator) plans to invoke tariffs of up to 25 percent on about $13 billion in US products beginning on July 1st. Items impacted range "from ballpoint pens and dishwasher detergent to toilet paper and playing cards sailboats, washing machines, dish washers, and lawn mowers." Across the Atlantic, the EU has similarly announced retaliatory tariffs of 25 percent on 200 US products, including such American-made classics as Harley-Davidson motorcycles, blue jeans, and bourbon.

Trump Disses the Former G7

As the explosive Group of Seven, or G7, summit in Quebec showed, the Trump administration is increasingly isolating itself from its allies in palpable ways and, in the process, significantly impairing the country's negotiating power. If you combine the economies of what might now be thought of as the G6 and add in the rest of the EU, its economic power is collectively larger than that of the United States. Under the circumstances, even a small diversion of trade thanks to Trump-induced tariff wars could have costly consequences.

President Trump did try one "all-in" poker move at that summit. With his game face on, he first suggested the possibility of wiping out all tariffs and trade restrictions between the United States and the rest of the G7, a bluff met with a healthy dose of skepticism. Before he left for his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore, he even suggested that the G7 leaders "consider removing every single tariff or trade barrier on American goods." In return, he claimed he would do the same "for products from their countries." As it turned out, however, that wasn't actually a venture into economic diplomacy, just the carrot before the stick, and even it was tied to lingering threats of severe penalties.

The current incipient trade war was actually launched by the Trump administration in March in the name of American " national security ." What should have been highlighted, however, was the possible "national insecurity" in which it placed the country's (and the world's) future. After all, a similar isolationist stance in the 1920s and the subsequent market crash of 1929 sparked the global Great Depression, opening the way for the utter devastation of World War II.

European Union countries were incredulous when Trump insisted, as he had many times before, that the "U.S. is a victim of unfair trade practices," citing the country's trade deficits, especially with Germany and China. At the G7 summit, European leaders did their best to explain to him that his country isn't actually being treated unfairly. As French President Emmanuel Macron explained , "France runs trade deficits with Germany and the United Kingdom on manufactured goods, even though all three countries are part of the EU single market and have zero tariffs between them."

[Jul 16, 2018] Trump Is Right - NATO Is Obsolete, and if Europe Wants to Fight Imaginary Enemies, It Should Pay Its Own Way

Jul 16, 2018 |

Hysteria is at fever pitch. After the NATO summit in Brussels, the definitive Decline of the West has been declared a done deal as President Trump gets ready to meet President Putin in Helsinki.

It was Trump himself who stipulated that he wants to talk to Putin behind closed doors, face-to-face, without any aides and, in theory, spontaneously, after the preparatory meeting between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was canceled. The summit will take place at the early 19 th century Presidential Palace in Helsinki, a former residence of Russian emperors.

As a preamble to Helsinki, Trump's spectacular NATO blitzkrieg was a show for the ages; assorted "leaders" in Brussels simply didn't know what hit them. Trump didn't even bother to arrive on time for morning sessions dealing with the possible accession of Ukraine and Georgia. Diplomats confirmed to Asia Times that after Trump's stinging "pay up or else" tirade, Ukraine and Georgia were asked to leave the room because what would be discussed was strictly an internal NATO issue.

Previewing the summit, Eurocrats indulged in interminable carping about "illiberalism" taking over, from Viktor Orban in Hungary to Sultan Erdogan in Turkey, as well as mourning the "destruction of European unity" (yes, it's always Putin's fault). Trump though would have none of it. The US President conflates the EU with NATO, interpreting the EU as a rival, just like China, but much weaker. As for the US "deal" with NATO, just like NAFTA, that's a bad deal.

NATO is 'obsolete'

Trump is correct that without the US, NATO is "obsolete" – as in non-existent. So essentially what he did in Brussels laid bare the case for NATO as a protection racket, with Washington fully entitled to up the stakes for the "protection".

But "protection" against what?

Since the dismemberment of Yugoslavia, when NATO was repositioned in its new role as humanitarian imperialist global Robocop, the alliance's record is absolutely dismal.

That features miserably losing an endless war in Afghanistan against a bunch of Pashtun warriors armed with Kalashnikov replicas; turning functional Libya into a militia wasteland and headquarters for Europe-bound refugees; and having the NATO-Gulf Cooperation Council lose its bet on a galaxy of jihadis and crypto-jihadis in Syria spun as "moderate rebels".

NATO has launched a new training, non-combat mission in Iraq; 15 years after Shock and Awe, Sunnis, Shi'ites, Yazidis and even Kurdish factions are not impressed.

Then there's the NATO Readiness Initiative; the capacity of deploying 30 battalions, 30 battleships and 30 aircraft squadrons within 30 days (or less) by 2020. If not to wreak selected havoc across the Global South, this initiative is supposedly set up to deter "Russian aggression".

So after dabbling with the Global War on Terror, NATO is essentially back to the original "threat"; the imminent Russian invasion of Western Europe – a ludicrous notion if there ever was one. The final statement in Brussels spells it out, with special emphasis on item 6 and item 7.

The combined GDP of all NATO members is 12 times that of Russia. And NATO's defense spending is six times larger than Russia's. Contrary to non-stop Polish and Baltic hysteria, Russia does not need to "invade" anything; what worries the Kremlin, in the long term, is the well being of ethnic Russians living in former Soviet republics.

Russia can't be both threat and an energy partner

Then there's Europe's energy policy – and that's a completely different story.

Trump has described the Nord Stream 2 pipeline as "inappropriate", but his claim that Germany gets 70% of its energy (via natural gas imports) from Russia may be easily debunked. Germany gets at best 9% of its energy from Russia. In terms of Germany's sources of energy , only 20% is natural gas. And less than 40% of natural gas in Germany comes from Russia. Germany is fast transitioning towards wind, solar, biomass and hydro energy, which made up 41% of the total in 2018. And the target is 50% by 2030.

Yet Trump does have a sterling point when, stressing that "Germany is a rich country", he wants to know why America should "protect you against Russia" when energy deals are on the table. "Explain that! It can't be explained!" as he reportedly said to Nato Secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg on Wednesday.

In the end, of course, it's all about business. What Trump is really aiming at is for Germany to import US shale gas, three times more expensive than pipeline-delivered Russian gas.

The energy angle is directly linked to the never-ending 2% defense spending soap opera. Germany currently spends 1.2% of GDP on NATO. by 2024, it's supposed to reach at best 1.5%. And that's it. The majority of German voters, in fact, want US troops out .

So Trump's demand for 4% of GDP on defense spending for all NATO members will never fly. The sales pitch should be seen for what it is: a tentative "invitation" for an increased EU and NATO shopping spree on US military hardware.

In a nutshell, the key factor remains that Trump's Brussels blitzkrieg did make his case. Russia cannot be a "threat" and a reliable energy partner at the same time. As much as NATO poodles may be terrified of "Russian aggression", the facts spell out they won't put their money where their rhetorical hysteria is.

Foreign ministers attend a working dinner during the NATO Summit in Brussels on July 11, 2018. They gathered to discuss Russia, Iraq and their mission in Afghanistan. Photo: AFP/ pool/ Yves Herman

Are you listening now?

"Russian aggression" should be one of the top items discussed in Helsinki. In the – remote – possibility that Trump will strike a deal with Putin, NATO's absurd raison d'etre would be even more exposed.

That's not the US "deep-state" agenda, of course, thus the 24/7 demonization of the summit even before it happens. Moreover, for Trump, the transactional gambling man's Make-America-Great-Again point of view, the ideal outcome would always be to get even more European weapons deals for the US industrial-military-intelligence complex.

Terrified by Trump, diplomats in Brussels over these past few days have conveyed to Asia Times fears about the end of NATO, the end of the World Trade Organization, even the end of the EU. But the fact remains that Europe is absolutely peripheral to the Big Picture.

In Losing Military Supremacy , his latest, groundbreaking book, crack Russian military-naval analyst Andrei Martyanov deconstructs in detail how, "the United States faces two nuclear and industrial superpowers, one of which fields a world-class armed forces. If the military-political, as opposed to merely economic, alliance between Russia and China is ever formalized – this will spell the final doom for the United States as a global power."

The US deep state (its influential bureaucrats) may be wallowing in perpetual denial, but Trump – after many a closed-door meeting with Henry Kissinger – may have understood the suicidal "strategy" of Washington simultaneously antagonizing Russia and China.

Putin's landmark March 1 speech , as Martyanov stresses, was an effort to "coerce America's elites, if not into peace, at least into some form of sanity, given that they are currently completely detached from the geopolitical, military and economic realities of the newly emerging power configurations of the world". These elites may not be listening, but Trump seems to indicate he is.

As for the NATO poodles, all they can do is watch.

[Jul 16, 2018] What Will Kill Neoliberalism

Does neoliberalism in crisis has a tendency to slide into neofascism?
Notable quotes:
"... Massive global inequality underlies our era of economic and political unrest. The rise of nationalist, populist movements, and the faltering influence of the Davos class of free-trade advocates, have rendered neoliberalism an ideology without committed ideologues. So what will bring about the end of neoliberalism -- the left? the right? the incompetence of the professional political class? -- and, when it's gone, what will replace it? We asked five of our favorite minds for their views on the direction we urgently need to go next. ..."
"... Take the State ..."
"... Postcapitalism: A Guide to Our Future ..."
"... The Crisis of Care ..."
"... A Revolution of Managers ..."
"... Who Needs the Negro? ..."
"... Universal Base Income ..."
"... The Guardian ..."
"... The Nation ..."
"... The New York Times ..."
"... With Liberty and Dividends for All: How to Save Our Middle Class When Jobs Don't Pay Enough ..."
"... All economic problems, in the neoliberal view, are attributable to sluggish growth, which is in turn the result of insufficient competition. The neoliberal agenda seeks to stimulate competition, suggesting that if countries are allowed to run deficits, the people's work ethic will suffer as a result. ..."
"... Given the neoliberal experiment we've been engaged in since the seventies, we see economic growth is still sluggish and further, global economic inequality continues to increase. Yet if I consider what's likely to prove to be the undoing of moral universe theory, it's the reality that it's very sloppy theology. ..."
"... he doesn't recognize that it is the Oligarchy that is in control and has a stranglehold on both the RNC and DNC to maintain its power. ..."
"... The Right is desperate for change but has really no place to go. Our society has been pulled so far right that there is little to nothing for them to grasp on to display possibilities of improvement for the populous. ..."
"... The Left are the ones who are poised to "Kill Neoliberalism." Joelle Gamble hides the fact that the establishment DNC is almost totally controlled by the Oligarchy and that there are already multiple organizations that are aggressively challenging them. ..."
"... The Progressive Left will be the ones to take down Neoliberalism, what comes next is the real question. Will the Oligarchy be able to implement a fascist regime to maintain its control or will they be cut off at the knees by a socialist government? ..."
Jul 06, 2018 |
Massive global inequality underlies our era of economic and political unrest. The rise of nationalist, populist movements, and the faltering influence of the Davos class of free-trade advocates, have rendered neoliberalism an ideology without committed ideologues. So what will bring about the end of neoliberalism -- the left? the right? the incompetence of the professional political class? -- and, when it's gone, what will replace it? We asked five of our favorite minds for their views on the direction we urgently need to go next.;

Joelle Gamble

The dramatic effects of deindustrialization, automation, globalization, and the growing disparities of wealth and income -- including by race and region -- are undermining political norms in much of the West. 4

Activists and academics alike have linked these trends to the neoliberal ideology that has guided policy-making over the past several decades. This ideology has resulted in pushing the widespread deregulation of key industries, attempting to solve most social and economic problems through market competition, and privatizing public functions like the operation of prisons and institutions of higher education. Neoliberal ideas were considered such common sense during the 1980s and '90s that they were simply never acknowledged as an ideology. Now, even economists at the International Monetary Fund are willing to poke holes in the ideology of neoliberalism. Jonathan Ostry, Prakash Loungani, and Davide Furceri wrote in 2016: "The costs in terms of increased inequality are prominent. Such costs epitomize the trade-off between the growth and equity effects of some aspects of the neoliberal agenda." 5

We know that neoliberalism has now provoked populist responses on the left and the right. But are either of them sufficient to end its rule? 6

The left needs to stop playing defense. This means enacting policies like universal health care, free college, and ending the private-prison industry.

Left populism, if organized, could end the neoliberal order: As espoused by leaders like Pramila Jayapal and Keith Ellison, left populism demands public control as well as redistribution; it is pro-regulation, pro-state, and anti-privatization. These values are inherently at odds with the small-government, anti-regulatory tenets of neoliberalism. If an aggressive left-populist agenda is successfully implemented, neoliberalism would be defeated. The barrier to implementation is the left's inability to be consistent and organized. 7

Populism on both the left and right has proved difficult to organize and suffers from a lack of leadership. On the left, the struggle for organization has been playing out in the Democratic Party's leadership fights. Politicians and activists are attempting to close the ideological gap between the party's base and its leaders. Without enough trust to allow leaders to set and execute a well-resourced strategy -- to say nothing of the resources themselves -- the left faces huge obstacles to actually implementing an agenda that spells the end of neoliberal dominance, despite having an ideology that could usher in a post-neoliberal world. 8

Jimmy Tobias

Left populism can technically end neoliberalism. But can right-wing populism? 9

One should hope that right-wing populism doesn't become organized enough to end the neoliberal order. Public control is not a cogent ideology on the right. That leaves room for privatization -- a main pillar of neoliberalism -- to continue to grow. Only if right-wing nationalism turns into radical authoritarian nationalism (read: fascism) will its relationship with corporate power turn into an end to the neoliberal order. In the United States, this would mean: 1) the delegitimization of Congress and the judicial branch, 2) the increased criminalization of activists and political opponents, and 3) the nationalization of major industries. 10

Right-wing nationalism seems to be crafted to win electoral victories at the intersection of protectionist and xenophobic sentiments. Its current manifestation, designed to win over rural nativist voters, appears to be at odds with the pro-free-trade policies of neoliberalism. However, the lines between far-right nationalism and the mainstream right are blurring, especially when it comes to privatization and the role of government. In the United States, Trump's agenda looks more like crony capitalism than a consistent turn from neoliberal norms. His administration seems either unwilling or incapable of taking a heavy-handed approach to industry. 11

As with many of his business ventures, we've already seen Trump-style nationalism fail in his nascent administration. The White House caved to elite Republican interests with the attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act and with Trump's decision to stack high-level economic-policy roles with members of the financial elite. Trump's proclaimed nationalist ideology seems to be a rhetorical device rather than a consistent governing principle. It's possible that the same might be true for other right-wing nationalists. France's Marine Le Pen has cozied up, though admittedly inconsistently, to business interests; she has also toned down her rhetoric, especially on immigration, over the years in order to win centrist voters. Meanwhile, Dutch nationalist Geert Wilders notably lost to a more mainstream candidate in March's general elections. Yet the radical right is more organized in Europe than in the United States. We may not see the same level of compromise and incompetence as in the Trump administration. Moves toward moderation may only be anomalous and strategic rather than a sign of a failing movement. 12

So what does all of this mean for the future of neoliberalism, particularly in the American context? I believe there are two futures in which neoliberalism's end is possible. In the first, the left decides to stop playing defense and organizes with the resources needed to build sustained power, breaking down the policies that perpetuate American neoliberalism. This means enacting policies like universal health care and free college, and ousting the private-prison industry from the justice system. In the second future, a set of political leaders who have been emboldened by Trump's campaign strategy gain office through mostly republican means. They could concentrate power in the executive in an organized manner, nationalize industries, and criminalize communities who don't support their jingoistic vision. We should hope for the first future, as unlikely as it seems in this political moment. We've already seen the second in 20th-century Europe and Latin America. We cannot live that context again. 13

Paul Mason

Take the State 14

I wrote in Postcapitalism: A Guide to Our Future that if we didn't ditch neoliberalism, globalization would fall apart -- but I had no idea that it would happen so quickly. In hindsight, the problem is that you can put an economy on life support, but not an ideology. 15

After the 2008 financial crisis, quantitative easing and state support for banks kept the patient alive. As the Bank of England governor Mark Carney said last year at the G20 summit in Shanghai, central banks have even more ammunition to draw on should they need it -- for example, the extreme option of "helicopter money," in which they credit every bank account with, say, $20,000. So they can stave off complete stagnation for a long time. But patchwork measures cannot kick-start a new era of dynamism for capitalism, much less faith in its goodness. 16

The human brain demands coherence -- and a certain amount of optimism. The neoliberal story became incoherent the moment the state had to take dramatic steps to support a failing financial market. The form of recovery stimulated by quantitative easing boosted the asset wealth of the rich but not the income of the average worker -- and rising costs for health care, education, and pension provision across the developed world meant that many people experienced the "recovery" as a household recession. 17

The one big cause that needs to animate us in the future is a systemic project of transition beyond capitalism.

So they began looking for answers, and the right had an easy one: Ditch globalization, free trade, and relatively free migration rules, as well as acceptance of the undocumented migrants who keep the economy working. That's how we get to Donald Trump, Marine Le Pen, Geert Wilders, Viktor Orbán, the Law and Justice party in Poland, and UKIP in Britain. Each of them has promised to make their country "great again" -- by diverting growth toward it and migrants and refugees away. 18

For 30 years, neoliberalism taught national elites that they were better off collaborating in the creation of a positive-sum game: Everybody wins, ultimately, even if your factory moves to China. That was the rationale. 19

Economic nationalism is logical if you believe that stagnation will last a long time, creating a zero-sum or even a negative-sum game. But the projects of economic nationalism will fail. This is not because economic nationalism has always been a losing strategy: Adolf Hitler practically abolished German unemployment within five years, and Franklin Roosevelt triggered a spectacular recovery and reindustrialization with the New Deal. But these were programs of another era, in which business models were primarily national and monopolies operated in the sphere of one big nation and its colonies; where the state was heavily enmeshed in the national economy; and where global trade was puny and economic migration low compared to now. 20

To try a repeat of autarky in the 21st century will trigger dislocation on a large scale. Some countries will win: It's even feasible that, although led by an imbecile, the United States could win. However, "winning" in this context means bankrupting other countries. Given the complexity and fragility of the globalized system, the cities of the losing nations would resemble New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. 21

In the long term, for the left, the transition to a system beyond capitalism must be based on the possibility of a low-work, high-abundance society. This is the essence of the postcapitalism project that I proposed: automate work, replace wages with a basic income and heavy state provision of services, and enforce competition among the rent-seeking monopolies in order to force the price of their goods so low that people can survive scarce and precarious work. 22

As Manuel Castells's research group in Barcelona has found, as the market staggers, more and more people actually begin to adopt nonmarket survival tactics, mechanisms, and institutions like informal lending, co-ops, time banks, and alternative currencies. And that's the basis for an economic counterpower to big capital and high finance. 23

But in the short term, a whole generation of the left that reveled in aimlessness and horizontality needs to split the difference between that and effective, organized politics. Call it "diagonality," if you want: Without ceasing to care about the 100 small causes that have animated us in the past, the one big cause that needs to animate us in the future is a systemic project of transition beyond capitalism. For now, that project has to be pursued at the level of big cities, regions, states, and alliances of states -- that is, at scale. 24

The hardest thing for the old left to accept will be that this means using the existing, oppressive, imperfect state while simultaneously trying to democratize it. Street protests, mass resistance, strikes, and the occupation of squares are great ways to assemble the forces. But the arc of the story from 2011 to 2015 -- Occupy, the Indignados, and the Arab Spring -- shows that we have to do more than simply create a counterpower: We need to take power and diffuse it at the same time. 25

Bryce Covert

The Crisis of Care 26

American parents are being crushed between trying to care for their families and working enough hours to survive financially. This problem plagues parents of both genders, up and down the income scale, and it is upending the way Americans view the capitalist system. This crisis of care is fostering solidarity among the millions of Americans who share this challenge, as well as support for solutions that will end the reign of neoliberalism. 27

Among low-income Americans, especially people of color, both parents have often worked outside the home to make ends meet. Nonetheless, the ideal has been, until very recently, a stay-at-home mother and a father working for pay outside the home. World War II undermined this idyll, pushing women into factories as men went to fight abroad. The gauzy 1950s dream of single-earner families masked the reality that women continued to pour into the workforce. 28

Today, women make up about half of the paid labor force in the United States, including more than 70 percent of women with children. This means that in about half of married heterosexual couples, both the husband and wife work. This has given women far more access to the public sphere and, with it, greater status and equality both inside and outside the home. 29

But it's also meant a crunch for families. There is no longer a designated parent to stay home with the kids or care for aging relatives, and the workplace isn't designed to help with that predicament. Instead, work is devouring people's lives. 30

You can see this problem in the rising number of Americans who worry about their work/life balance. About half of parents of both genders say they struggle to reconcile these competing demands. Fathers are particularly freaked out: More than 45 percent feel they don't spend enough time with their children, compared with less than a quarter of mothers (probably because more women reduce their paid work to care for children). As the baby-boomer generation ages, a growing elderly population threatens to trap even more working people in the predicament of caring for aging parents, raising young kids, and trying to make a living. 31

The result has been that more and more people are being forced to reckon with the fact that capitalism's unquenchable thirst for labor makes a balanced life impossible. This, in turn, is fostering a greater sense of solidarity among them as workers struggling against the demands of corporate bosses. This growing crisis has already led to some policy-making. The expansion of overtime coverage by the Obama administration means that workers will either be better compensated for putting in long hours or have their schedules pared back to a more humane 40-hour work week (though it remains to be seen what will happen to the overtime expansion under President Trump). Legislation guaranteeing paid time off has swept city and state governments. These are policies that challenge the idea that we should give everything of ourselves to our jobs. 32

The crisis of care has also revived the notion that the public should deal with these shared problems collectively. While other developed countries have spent money to create government-funded solutions for child care over the past half-century, Americans have insisted child care remain a private crisis that each family has to solve alone. The United States provides all children age 6 to 18 with a public education, but for children under the age of 6, it offers basically nothing. Head Start is available to some low-income parents, and a smattering of places have started experimenting with universal preschool for children ages 3 and 4. Outside of that, parents are left to a pitiful private system that often doesn't even offer them enough slots, let alone quality affordable care. 33

Americans have increasingly come to recognize that this situation is ridiculous and are throwing their support behind a government solution. Huge majorities support spending more money on early-childhood programs. American parents haven't yet gone on strike against capitalism's endless demands on their time or the government's failure to provide public support. But the crisis is reaching a boiling point, and it's transforming our relationship to America's neoliberal system. 34

William Darity Jr.

A Revolution of Managers 35

Marx's classic law of motion for bourgeois society -- the tendency of the rate of profit to fall -- was the foundation for his prediction that capitalism would die under the stress of its own contradictions. But even Marx's left-wing sympathizers, who see the dominant presence of corporate capital in all aspects of their lives, have argued that Marx's prediction was wrong. It has become virtually a reflex to assert that modern societies all fall under the sway of "global capitalism," and that a binary operates with two great social classes standing in fundamental opposition to each other: capital and labor. 36

Suppose, however, that Marx was correct in his expectation that capitalism, like other social modes of production before it, will wind down gradually, but wrong in his expectation that it would be succeeded by a "dictatorship of the proletariat," a civilization without class stratification. Suppose, indeed, that the age of capitalism is actually reaching its conclusion -- but one that doesn't involve the ascension of the working class. Suppose, instead, that we consider the existence of a third great social class vying with the other two for social dominance: what was seen in the work of such disparate thinkers as James Burnham, Alvin Gouldner, Barbara Ehrenreich, and John Ehrenreich as the managerial class. 37

Suppose, indeed, that the age of capitalism is reaching its conclusion -- but one that doesn't involve the ascension of the working class.

The managerial class comprises the intelligentsia and intellectuals, artists and artisans, as well as state bureaucrats -- a credentialed or portfolio-rich cultural aristocracy. While the human agents of global capital are the corporate magnates, and the working class is the productive labor -- labor that is directly utilized to generate profit -- the managerial class engages comprehensively in a social-management function. The rise of the managerial class is the rise to dominance of unproductive labor -- labor that can be socially valuable but is not a direct source of profit. 38

A surplus population under capitalism has a purpose: It exists as a reserve army of the unemployed, which can be mobilized rapidly in periods of economic expansion and as a source of downward pressure on the demands for compensation and safe work conditions made by the employed. Therefore, capital has little incentive to eliminate this surplus population. In contrast, the managerial class will view those identified as surplus people as truly superfluous. The social managers consider population generally as an object of control, reduction, and demographic administration, and whoever is assigned to the "surplus" category bears the weight of the arbitrary. 39

To the extent that identification of the surplus population is racialized, particular groups will be targets for social warehousing and extermination. The disproportionate overincarceration of black people in the United States -- a form of social warehousing -- is a direct expression of the managerial class's preferences regarding who should be deemed of low necessity. The exterminative impulse is evident in the comparative devaluation of black lives that prompted resistance efforts like the Black Lives Matter movement. The potential for black superfluity in the managerial age is evident in prescient works like Sidney Willhelm's Who Needs the Negro? (1970) and Samuel Yette's The Choice (1971), both published almost 50 years ago. 40

The assault on "big" and invasive government constitutes an attack on the managerial class by both capital and the working class. Despite endorsing military spending, receiving lucrative government contracts, and enjoying the benefits of publicly provided infrastructure like roads, highways, and railways, corporate capital calls for small government. This is a strategic route to slashing social-welfare expenditures, with the goal of reducing the wage standard and eliminating all regulations on corporate predations. Despite benefiting from social-welfare expenditures, the working class gravitates to a new brand of populism that blends anticorporatism with anti-elitism (and anti-intellectualism), xenophobia, and a demand for a smaller and less intrusive state. Since "big" government constitutes the avenue for independent action on the part of the managerial class, an offensive of this type directly undermines the "new" class's base of power. 41

Calls for smaller government are a strategic route to slashing social-welfare expenditures, wage standards, and regulations on corporate predation.

But the managerial class also possesses another attribute that is both a strength and a weakness. Unlike capital and labor, whose agendas are driven to a large degree by the struggle over the character of a society structured for the pursuit of profit, the managerial class has no anchor for its ideological stance. In fact, it's a social class that is wholly fluid ideologically. Some of its members align fully with the corporate establishment; indeed, the corporate magnates -- especially investment bankers -- look much the same as members of the managerial class in terms of educational credentials, cultural interests, and style. Other social managers take a more centrist posture harking back to their origins in the "middle class," while still others position themselves as allies of the working class. And there are many variations on these themes. 42

Depending on where the ideological weight centers most heavily, the managerial class can take many directions. During the wars in southern Africa against Portuguese rule, Amílcar Cabral once observed that for the anticolonial revolution to succeed, "the petty bourgeoisie" would need to commit suicide as a social class, ceasing their efforts to pursue their particular interests and positioning themselves fully at the service of the working class. One might anticipate that the global managerial class will one day be confronted with the choice of committing suicide, in Cabral's sense, as a class. But the question is: If such a step is taken, will they place themselves fully at the service of labor or capital? 43

Peter Barnes

Universal Base Income 44

There is no single solution to economic inequality and insecurity in America, but there's one that could go further than any other. It's a universal base income, as distinct from a universal basic income. 45

A universal base income of a few hundred dollars a month is not the same as a universal basic income of, say, $1,000 a month. The latter, at least in some places, is enough to survive on; the former decidedly is not. And while the latter is the dream of many, it is far too expensive -- and threatening to America's work ethic -- to be enacted anytime soon. If a universal basic income ever happens here, it will be because it was preceded for many years by a universal base income, gradually nudged upward like Social Security and the minimum wage. So let's take a look at that. 46

A universal base income is both a springboard and a cushion for every participant in our fast-changing market economy -- like giving everyone $200 for passing "Go" in a game of Monopoly. It supplements, but does not replace, labor income (which for the last 30 years has stagnated or declined), and it does so without judgment or stigma. It is grounded on the principle that, in a prosperous albeit volatile and increasingly unequal economy, everyone has a right to some cash flow they can count on. 47

In practical terms, a universal base income would be simple to administer. Eligible recipients (anyone with a valid Social Security number, which can include legal immigrants) would receive an equal amount of money every month, wired to their bank accounts or debit cards. The system would look and feel like Social Security, or a monthly version of the dividends that all Alaskans receive. People who don't need the extra income would be enabled by a check-off option to donate it to any IRS-approved charity. 48

A universal base income, I should note, has nothing to do with automation, robots, or artificial intelligence. It has a lot to do with enhancing every American's security, reducing their stress, and giving our poor and middle classes a leg to stand on -- the very opposite of what our economy does now. 49

A universal base income would have other benefits as well. It is an answer -- perhaps the answer -- to long-term economic stagnation, a trickle-up form of Keynesianism that would stimulate our economy through increased household spending. Moreover, if funded by fees on unproductive activities like pollution and speculation, it would help solve two other deep problems of 21st-century capitalism: climate change and financial instability. And it wouldn't need to replace or reduce spending on current programs that benefit the poor, a regressive trade-off that conservatives favor but most progressives oppose. 50

There are six large demographic groups (with some overlap) that could form the core of a movement for a universal base income: millennials (the first generation of Americans destined to earn less than their parents), low-wage and on-demand work­ers (the so-called precariat), women (who still earn less than men and aren't paid at all for much of the work they do), African Americans (who suffer from past and present injustices), retired and near-retired workers (who can't live on Social Security alone), and poor people of all colors. Environmentalists might also link arms with the cause if one of the revenue sources is a tax on pollution. It will, of course, be no simple feat to persuade these diverse groups that what they can't achieve separately they may be able to achieve together. But it has happened before, and, in the post-Sanders era, it could happen again. 51

In the political realm, a universal base income would bring our nation together by affirming that we are all in the same economic boat. It would unite our desperate poor and our anxious middle class, young and old, women and men, white people and people of color. It would make millions of Americans less stressed, healthier, and perhaps even happier. And it could make many of us proud to be American. 52

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Fourscore and two years ago, Franklin Roosevelt's Committee on Economic Security produced the classic report that led to passage of the first Social Security Act. The report itself went beyond security for the aged. It proclaimed: "The one almost all-embracing measure of security is an assured income. A program of economic security, as we vision it, must have as its primary aim the assurance of an adequate income to each human being in childhood, youth, middle age, or old age -- in sickness or in health." 53

The committee added that, for reasons of political expediency, it was proposing only an assured income for the elderly, but it hoped that the rest of its vision would be implemented in the not-too-distant future. Much of it has been, but not all. A lifelong base income, along with health insurance for all, are the next pieces. 54

See also

Steven Gurlen says: May 11, 2017 at 9:15 am

All good articles. Darity in particular on "managerial class" who I would say are oligarch wannabees not recognizing their true allegiance. Credit and leases allow this group to live the lifestyle, sold and pushed upon them 401Ks, and stock ownership completes the charade.

Walter Pewen says: May 6, 2017 at 3:22 pm

I appreciate Bryce Cover's analysis. What is happening, in the United States, is life at home is ceasing to exist. In large part due to the dual income requirement. Also a BIG issue on the coasts at least, is people building families (and everyone) simply cannot afford housing. How long can this go on? Here in California capitalism is working people to death on all levels. We used to have enviable lifestyles for the middle and working class both. Not now. It's truly evil.

Wesley Decker says: May 5, 2017 at 12:09 pm

Neoliberalism is Weber's Protestant Work Ethic dressed up by Milton Friedman to do battle with seventies Limits to Growth science. It argues that we inhabit a moral universe where rich and poor deserve what they have and don't have. The challenge posed by Limits to Growth, which has it that outcomes exhibit sensitive dependence to initial conditions, is a seen as a direct affront to such moral ordering.

All economic problems, in the neoliberal view, are attributable to sluggish growth, which is in turn the result of insufficient competition. The neoliberal agenda seeks to stimulate competition, suggesting that if countries are allowed to run deficits, the people's work ethic will suffer as a result.

The science instead considers what's necessary for populations of living organisms to survive and grow. It recognizes that shortages of necessary resources the result of excessive competition. In this view unconstrained competition is naturally at odds with a finite supply of resources, resulting in the economic problems we see.

Given the neoliberal experiment we've been engaged in since the seventies, we see economic growth is still sluggish and further, global economic inequality continues to increase. Yet if I consider what's likely to prove to be the undoing of moral universe theory, it's the reality that it's very sloppy theology.

Doug Barr says: May 4, 2017 at 9:57 pm

Razing our vertical economy will kill all the isms that are killing us.

Robert Andrews says: May 4, 2017 at 12:17 pm

I can see Joelle Gamble's assessment with either the left or the right taking over Neoliberalism. But he doesn't recognize that it is the Oligarchy that is in control and has a stranglehold on both the RNC and DNC to maintain its power.

The Right is desperate for change but has really no place to go. Our society has been pulled so far right that there is little to nothing for them to grasp on to display possibilities of improvement for the populous.

The Left are the ones who are poised to "Kill Neoliberalism." Joelle Gamble hides the fact that the establishment DNC is almost totally controlled by the Oligarchy and that there are already multiple organizations that are aggressively challenging them.

He also doesn't say a word about the most popular leader in country by far, Senator Sanders. Bernie Sanders' presidential primary election has provided a laser for the populous to see who the DNC really serves, by forcing them to reveal its ugly face behind their mask to maintain their power. Sanders has also provided the platform for issues that the populous has been rallying behind and has shown how the establishment squelches their needs with platitudes and deflection.

The Progressive Left will be the ones to take down Neoliberalism, what comes next is the real question. Will the Oligarchy be able to implement a fascist regime to maintain its control or will they be cut off at the knees by a socialist government?

[Jul 16, 2018] Why the Media is Desperate to Reclaim its Gatekeeper Status for News Zero Hedge Zero Hedge

Highly recommended!
Jul 16, 2018 |

Local news differs because it is mixed with first-hand experience, as well as second-hand reports from witnesses–neighbors and friends. Gossip is one way of regulating this local flow of information. It provides details about who can be believed, and who might embellish.

Locally, there is an organic structure of information flow. This alone doesn't make it accurate, but it gets closer by triangulating from where you get your information.

And the further you get from the ability to triangulate from different sources, the faker news gets. I don't mean different sources, as in, different news outlets. I mean first-hand knowledge mixed with historical context, access to first-hand accounts, information about the reliability of witnesses and experts, and so on.

The further away the news gets from you, the harder it is to mix the news with other intelligence. At that point, it is easier to manipulate the truth.

But even if a piece of news about a far-off event is not attempting to misconstrue the truth, it could do so inadvertently. Without the full context of what is happening, events across the world can give the wrong impression.

Were chemical weapons used in Syria? If so, who used them? And who exactly is fighting who ?

The conflict in Syria is the perfect example of fake news. You have a complicated event with many different sides and no clear good guys. There are few first-hand accounts from people we know personally. There are some entities who wish to purposely distort the truth and others which want to hide the full extent of their actions.

All I can do to find out is trust various news sources. And that is what I mean when I say everything is fake news. Just picking which events to report on truthfully can end up presenting a basically fake story.

The Same Old Story

Years ago it was easy to control the spread of information. There were only a handful of television networks and newspapers. All news passed through the channels of official gatekeepers before making its way to the consumer.

But already the government was creating and disseminating fake news through programs like Project Mockingbird. The CIA had thousands of journalists on its payroll to disseminate false news and bury certain real reports.

So the government's problem is not fake news. Governments are concerned that they have lost their monopoly control of fake news. They were the gatekeepers.

Social media "has made things much worse," because it "offers an easy route for non-journalists to bypass journalism's gatekeepers, so that anyone can 'publish' anything, however biased, inaccurate or fabricated," says John Huxford, an Illinois State University journalism professor.

"Journalism's role as the 'gatekeeper' of what is and isn't news has always been controversial, of course. But we're now seeing just how bad things can get when that function breaks down."

Are we seeing how bad things can get? It seems that there was always fake news, but at one time, everyone believed it. Now there is fake news, and no one trusts any news. That is a better situation to be in. It is the rejection of manipulation by the elites, the gatekeepers.

Distrust in unverifiable news is better than blind trust in government propaganda. Better to hold agnostic beliefs about certain national events, versus believing what the government feeds us.

My default position is distrust of the government. So whatever narrative they seem to be pushing, if not outright false, has a purpose behind it. They are trying to shape the behavior of the masses and very rarely is this beneficially to individuals.

Huxford said many internet users are not adept at telling fake news from the real thing, making the role of major news organizations critical.

"This is why Trump falsely labelling the mainstream media as 'fake news' is so toxic," he said.

"It means that, at a time when there is a lot of fabrication and falsehoods swirling through the system, the credibility of the most reliable sources of news is being undermined."

As someone who believes in a grassroots approach to solving problems, starting with individuals, I am naturally averse to the idea of controllers from on high making decisions for me.

And that is why I think it is beneficial to have more distrust in news the further it gets from you, and rather use what you can confirm to live personally as you see fit.

Probably the best example of this is people signing up for the military directly after 9/11 to go kick some al-Qaida ass. They trusted the national news to deliver accurate facts about what happened, and how to stop it from happening again. And they threw themselves into the fight without having an accurate picture of why, or how the war they were signing up for would help.

In the end, they may have ended up supporting a worse regime than the one they were fighting.

Never knowing what you can believe is not ideal. But it beats a false sense of security that the news you get is real. It isn't. And if people are finally waking up to that, perhaps they will stop lining up to fight other people's wars.

You don't have to play by the rules of the corrupt politicians, manipulative media, and brainwashed peers.

[Jul 15, 2018] A New World Order: Brought to You by the Global-Industrial Deep State by John W. Whitehead

While "marriage of governmental and corporate interests is the very definition of fascism" this marriage also occurs under neoliberalism, so the author augment is weak, although some of his observations are astute and have a distinct value. Fascism imply far right nationalism and far right nationalist party in power, often under false pretext of "saving nations from a coming collapse".
Neoliberalism while is also displays high level of merger of corporate and state interests operation of globalist agenda (or at least used to operate before Trump, who invented "national neoliberalism" regime, aka neoliberalism without neoliberal globalization)
Can Trump "national neoliberalism" be called a flavor of neo-fascism? Hillary probably will tell you yes ;-) But it is impossible to deny that the US Deep state launched color revolution against Trump (with CIA under Brennan as a coordinating center and FBI as "muscles") and, essentially emasculated him in just first three month of his Presidency by appointing Mueller as a Special Prosecutor.
So we can talk about gradual sliding into national security state under neoliberalism, but it is not necessary take form of neofascism. Classic neoliberalism, for example, is cosmopolitan ideology and as such is hostile to nationalism.
Notable quotes:
"... Remember, people used to scoff at the notion of a Deep State (a.k.a. Shadow Government), doubt that fascism could ever take hold in America , and sneer at any suggestion that the United States was starting to resemble Nazi Germany in the years leading up to Hitler's rise to power. We're beginning to know better, aren't we? The Deep State (" a national-security apparatus that holds sway even over the elected leaders notionally in charge of it ") is ..."
"... Indeed, to anyone who's been paying attention to the goings-on in the world, it is increasingly obvious that we're already under a new world order, and it is being brought to you by the Global-Industrial Deep State, a powerful cabal made up of international government agencies and corporations. ..."
"... It is as yet unclear whether the American Police State answers to the Global-Industrial Deep State, or whether the Global-Industrial Deep State merely empowers the American Police State. However, there is no denying the extent to which they are intricately and symbiotically enmeshed and interlocked. ..."
"... Consider the extent to which our lives and liberties are impacted by this international convergence of governmental and profit-driven interests in the surveillance state, the military industrial complex, the private prison industry, the intelligence sector, the technology sector, the telecommunications sector, the transportation sector, and the pharmaceutical industry. ..."
"... All of these sectors are dominated by mega-corporations operating on a global scale and working through government channels to increase their profit margins: Walmart, Alphabet (formerly Google), AT&T, Toyota, Apple, Exxon Mobil, Facebook, Lockheed Martin, Berkshire Hathaway, UnitedHealth Group, Samsung, Amazon, Verizon, Nissan, Boeing, Microsoft, Northrop Grumman, Citigroup these are just a few of the global corporate giants whose profit-driven policies influence everything from legislative policies to economics to environmental issues to medical care. ..."
"... The NSA exploits these relationships for surveillance purposes, commandeering AT&T's massive infrastructure and using it as a platform to covertly tap into communications processed by other companies." ..."
"... Now magnify what the U.S. government is doing through AT&T on a global scale, and you have the " 14 Eyes Program ," also referred to as the "SIGINT Seniors." This global spy agency is made up of members from around the world (United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Denmark, France, Netherlands, Norway, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Sweden, Spain, Israel, Singapore, South Korea, Japan, India and all British Overseas Territories). ..."
"... War has become a huge money-making venture, and America, with its vast military empire and its incestuous relationship with a host of international defense contractors, is one of its best buyers and sellers . In fact, as Reuters reports, "[President] Trump has gone further than any of his predecessors to act as a salesman for the U.S. defense industry ." ..."
"... The American military-industrial complex has erected an empire unsurpassed in history in its breadth and scope, one dedicated to conducting perpetual warfare throughout the earth. For example, while erecting a security surveillance state in the U.S., the military-industrial complex has perpetuated a worldwide military empire with American troops stationed in 177 countries (over 70% of the countries worldwide). ..."
"... A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State ..."
Jul 12, 2018 |

"There are no nations. There are no peoples There is only IBM and ITT and AT&T, and DuPont, Dow, Union Carbide and Exxon. Those are the nations of the world today. The world is a college of corporations, inexorably determined by the immutable by-laws of business."

-- Network (1976)

There are those who will tell you that any mention of a New World Order government -- a power elite conspiring to rule the world -- is the stuff of conspiracy theories .

I am not one of those skeptics.

What's more, I wholeheartedly believe that one should always mistrust those in power, take alarm at the first encroachment on one's liberties, and establish powerful constitutional checks against government mischief and abuse.

I can also attest to the fact that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

I have studied enough of this country's history -- and world history -- to know that governments (the U.S. government being no exception) are at times indistinguishable from the evil they claim to be fighting, whether that evil takes the form of terrorism , torture, drug trafficking , sex trafficking , murder, violence, theft, pornography, scientific experimentations or some other diabolical means of inflicting pain, suffering and servitude on humanity.

And I have lived long enough to see many so-called conspiracy theories turn into cold, hard fact.

Remember, people used to scoff at the notion of a Deep State (a.k.a. Shadow Government), doubt that fascism could ever take hold in America , and sneer at any suggestion that the United States was starting to resemble Nazi Germany in the years leading up to Hitler's rise to power. We're beginning to know better, aren't we? The Deep State (" a national-security apparatus that holds sway even over the elected leaders notionally in charge of it ") is real.

... ... ...

Given all that we know about the U.S. government -- that it treats its citizens like faceless statistics and economic units to be bought, sold, bartered, traded, and tracked; that it repeatedly lies, cheats, steals, spies, kills, maims, enslaves, breaks the laws, overreaches its authority, and abuses its power at almost every turn; and that it wages wars for profit, jails its own people for profit, and has no qualms about spreading its reign of terror abroad -- it is not a stretch to suggest that the government has been overtaken by global industrialists, a new world order, that do not have our best interests at heart.

Indeed, to anyone who's been paying attention to the goings-on in the world, it is increasingly obvious that we're already under a new world order, and it is being brought to you by the Global-Industrial Deep State, a powerful cabal made up of international government agencies and corporations.

It is as yet unclear whether the American Police State answers to the Global-Industrial Deep State, or whether the Global-Industrial Deep State merely empowers the American Police State. However, there is no denying the extent to which they are intricately and symbiotically enmeshed and interlocked.

This marriage of governmental and corporate interests is the very definition of fascism. Where we go wrong is in underestimating the threat of fascism: it is no longer a national threat but has instead become a global menace.

Consider the extent to which our lives and liberties are impacted by this international convergence of governmental and profit-driven interests in the surveillance state, the military industrial complex, the private prison industry, the intelligence sector, the technology sector, the telecommunications sector, the transportation sector, and the pharmaceutical industry.

All of these sectors are dominated by mega-corporations operating on a global scale and working through government channels to increase their profit margins: Walmart, Alphabet (formerly Google), AT&T, Toyota, Apple, Exxon Mobil, Facebook, Lockheed Martin, Berkshire Hathaway, UnitedHealth Group, Samsung, Amazon, Verizon, Nissan, Boeing, Microsoft, Northrop Grumman, Citigroup these are just a few of the global corporate giants whose profit-driven policies influence everything from legislative policies to economics to environmental issues to medical care.

The U.S. government's deep-seated and, in many cases, top secret alliances with foreign nations and global corporations are redrawing the boundaries of our world (and our freedoms) and altering the playing field faster than we can keep up.

Global Surveillance

Spearheaded by the National Security Agency (NSA), which has shown itself to care little for constitutional limits or privacy, the surveillance state has come to dominate our government and our lives.

Yet the government does not operate alone. It cannot. It requires an accomplice. Thus, the increasingly complex security needs of our massive federal government, especially in the areas of defense, surveillance and data management, have been met within the corporate sector, which has shown itself to be a powerful ally that both depends on and feeds the growth of governmental bureaucracy.

Take AT&T, for instance. Through its vast telecommunications network that crisscrosses the globe, AT&T provides the U.S. government with the complex infrastructure it needs for its mass surveillance programs. According to The Intercept , "The NSA considers AT&T to be one of its most trusted partners and has lauded the company's 'extreme willingness to help. ' It is a collaboration that dates back decades. Little known, however, is that its scope is not restricted to AT&T's customers. According to the NSA's documents, it values AT&T not only because it 'has access to information that transits the nation,' but also because it maintains unique relationships with other phone and internet providers. The NSA exploits these relationships for surveillance purposes, commandeering AT&T's massive infrastructure and using it as a platform to covertly tap into communications processed by other companies."

Now magnify what the U.S. government is doing through AT&T on a global scale, and you have the " 14 Eyes Program ," also referred to as the "SIGINT Seniors." This global spy agency is made up of members from around the world (United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Denmark, France, Netherlands, Norway, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Sweden, Spain, Israel, Singapore, South Korea, Japan, India and all British Overseas Territories).

Surveillance is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to these global alliances, however.

Global War Profiteering

War has become a huge money-making venture, and America, with its vast military empire and its incestuous relationship with a host of international defense contractors, is one of its best buyers and sellers . In fact, as Reuters reports, "[President] Trump has gone further than any of his predecessors to act as a salesman for the U.S. defense industry ."

The American military-industrial complex has erected an empire unsurpassed in history in its breadth and scope, one dedicated to conducting perpetual warfare throughout the earth. For example, while erecting a security surveillance state in the U.S., the military-industrial complex has perpetuated a worldwide military empire with American troops stationed in 177 countries (over 70% of the countries worldwide).

Although the federal government obscures so much about its defense spending that accurate figures are difficult to procure, we do know that since 2001, the U.S. government has spent more than $1.8 trillion in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq ( that's $8.3 million per hour ). That doesn't include wars and military exercises waged around the globe, which are expected to push the total bill upwards of $12 trillion by 2053 .

The illicit merger of the global armaments industry and the Pentagon that President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned us against more than 50 years ago has come to represent perhaps the greatest threat to the nation's fragile infrastructure today. America's expanding military empire is bleeding the country dry at a rate of more than $15 billion a month (or $20 million an hour) -- and that's just what the government spends on foreign wars. That does not include the cost of maintaining and staffing the 1000-plus U.S. military bases spread around the globe .

Incredibly, although the U.S. constitutes only 5% of the world's population, America boasts almost 50% of the world's total military expenditure , spending more on the military than the next 19 biggest spending nations combined. In fact, the Pentagon spends more on war than all 50 states combined spend on health, education, welfare, and safety. There's a good reason why "bloated," "corrupt" and "inefficient" are among the words most commonly applied to the government , especially the Department of Defense and its contractors. Price gouging has become an accepted form of corruption within the American military empire.

It's not just the American economy that is being gouged, unfortunately.

Driven by a greedy defense sector, the American homeland has been transformed into a battlefield with militarized police and weapons better suited to a war zone. Trump, no different from his predecessors, has continued to expand America's military empire abroad and domestically, calling on Congress to approve billions more to hire cops, build more prisons and wage more profit-driven war-on-drugs/war-on-terrorism/war-on-crime programs that pander to the powerful money interests (military, corporate and security) that run the Deep State and hold the government in its clutches.

Global Policing

Glance at pictures of international police forces and you will have a hard time distinguishing between American police and those belonging to other nations. There's a reason they all look alike, garbed in the militarized, weaponized uniform of a standing army.

There's a reason why they act alike, too, and speak a common language of force.

For example, Israel -- one of America's closest international allies and one of the primary yearly recipients of more than $3 billion in U.S. foreign military aid -- has been at the forefront of a little-publicized exchange program aimed at training American police to act as occupying forces in their communities. As The Intercept sums it up, American police are " essentially taking lessons from agencies that enforce military rule rather than civil law ."

Then you have the Strong Cities Network program . Funded by the State Department , the U.S. government has partnered with the United Nations to fight violent extremism " in all of its forms and manifestations " in cities and communities across the world. Working with the UN, the federal government rolled out programs to train local police agencies across America in how to identify, fight and prevent extremism, as well as address intolerance within their communities, using all of the resources at their disposal. The cities included in the global network include New York City, Atlanta, Denver, Minneapolis, Paris, London, Montreal, Beirut and Oslo. What this program is really all about, however, is community policing on a global scale.

Community policing, which relies on a "broken windows" theory of policing, calls for police to engage with the community in order to prevent local crime by interrupting or preventing minor offenses before they could snowball into bigger, more serious and perhaps violent crime.

It sounds like a good idea on paper, but the problem with the broken windows approach is that it has led to zero tolerance policing and stop-and-frisk practices among other harsh police tactics.

When applied to the Strong Cities Network program, the objective is ostensibly to prevent violent extremism by targeting its source: racism, bigotry, hatred, intolerance, etc. In other words, police -- acting ostensibly as extensions of the United Nations -- will identify, monitor and deter individuals who exhibit, express or engage in anything that could be construed as extremist.

Of course, the concern with the government's anti-extremism program is that it will, in many cases, be utilized to render otherwise lawful, nonviolent activities as potentially extremist. Keep in mind that the government agencies involved in ferreting out American "extremists" will carry out their objectives -- to identify and deter potential extremists -- in concert with fusion centers (of which there are 78 nationwide, with partners in the private sector and globally), data collection agencies, behavioral scientists, corporations, social media, and community organizers and by relying on cutting-edge technology for surveillance, facial recognition, predictive policing , biometrics, and behavioral epigenetics (in which life experiences alter one's genetic makeup).

... ... ...

And then, as I make clear in my book A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State , if there is any means left to us for thwarting the government in its relentless march towards outright dictatorship, it may rest with the power of communities and local governments to invalidate governmental laws, tactics and policies that are illegitimate, egregious or blatantly unconstitutional.

... ... ...

John W. Whitehead is the president of The Rutherford Institute and author of Battlefield America: The War on the American People.

[Jul 15, 2018] Global Energy Dominance is now part of the US National security Strategy

Notable quotes:
"... Global Energy Dominance is now part of the US National security Strategy. Although not labeled as global, when reading through the energy dominance section of the NSS, it can clearly been seen to be global. This is not just about sell oil produced in the US. Trump is going for the Achilles heel of Eurasia - energy. ..."
"... Rather than a creative accounting scam that simply racks up huge amounts of debt, Trump is looking for a monopoly or near monopoly business to take over and rake in the profits. ..."
"... As for oil supremacy. This has been an Anglo-american joint venture for over a century and was one reason for WWI being fought as well as the Balfour Declaration to give the Brits a future pro-British state in the region at some point. ..."
"... As for Saudi oil, this was lockef up well before 1945. It was left untouched by the British after WWI and King Saud handed the concessions to the Americans in 1933 because he felt they had no imperialist designs like the British. He was not a fan of the British due to various skirmishes before he solidified power and Saudi borders. . ..."
Jul 15, 2018 |

Peter AU 1 , Jul 14, 2018 4:55:33 PM | 101

The latest article at the Saker site by Rostislav Ishchenko - Trump's Geopolitical Cruise - I think is the best take on Trump's and his backers mindset. Worth a read and covers what I think was the cause of the split in the US elite.

The petro dollar, kicking off in the late 70s was a piece of creative accounting to give unlimited credit. This should have been ended with the collapse of the Soviet Union, but greed got the better of most. Trump and the people backing him could see that this was now in its terminal stages and US close to collapse itself.

Rostislav Ishchenko, like many thinks that Trump is pulling the US back to a form of isolation from the world, but I don't think this is the case.

Global Energy Dominance is now part of the US National security Strategy. Although not labeled as global, when reading through the energy dominance section of the NSS, it can clearly been seen to be global. This is not just about sell oil produced in the US. Trump is going for the Achilles heel of Eurasia - energy.

Rather than a creative accounting scam that simply racks up huge amounts of debt, Trump is looking for a monopoly or near monopoly business to take over and rake in the profits.

Russia supply energy to Eurasia from the North. The opening for the Trump mob is in the south. The meet with Putin may well be to sound out the possibilities of forming a cartel. Putin/Russia is also the only entity that can prevent Trump's US from simply walking in and taking over the rich energy hub (Mafia style) to the south of Eurasia.

Daniel , Jul 14, 2018 5:35:42 PM | 104
Peter @101

"Global Energy Dominance is now part of the US National security Strategy."

Yes, it absolutely is. But this is not a new "Trump policy." Certainly Zbiginew Brzezenski laid this out quite clearly in his 1997 book, "The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives." It's really all in there, just as you're now identifying. If you can't take the time to read it, please consider at least reading some book reviews. As I've noted before, Ziggy apparently didn't foresee Putin rising to power and restoring the Russian state, which threw the proverbial monkey wrench into the globalists' plans, but really, US foreign policy has continued to follow his plans otherwise.

Kissinger has written much the same, though I don't recall in which books/articles. This page from the US Navy seems a fine reading list, designed as it appears to indoctrinate officers in AZ Empire geopolitics.!

IMO, the US took the lead in the Empire's Global Energy Dominance quest when FDR met with King Saud on Great Bitter Lake in the Suez Canal in 1945 (swinging by after the final post-war world planning meeting with Churchill and Stalin at Yalta). This was when the US largely replaced Great Britain in primacy over Asian/Middle Eastern energy dominance.

Peter AU 1 , Jul 14, 2018 5:42:51 PM | 105
Daniel, I will read through the Grand Chessboard again.
Peter AU 1 , Jul 14, 2018 5:49:29 PM | 106
US setting up more bases. A base in Iraq, and a large airfreight logistics base in Kuwait.

The US is in the Persian Gulf to stay. Trumps face face meet with Putin will be so Trump can try and gauge what Putin will do - if he will run any blocking moves, his reaction to a fait accompli ect. Most likely a few more face to face meetings before any move on Iran.

Daniel , Jul 14, 2018 6:52:45 PM | 108
Peter, thanks for pointing out the new and unwanted US base in Iraq. I just read that the US was building the world's largest Embassy Compound in "Iraqi Kurdistan." I wonder it they're the same thing?

In a quick web search, failing to find an answer, I noticed that besides the "Green Zone" compound we built in Baghdad at the start of the current military occupation, the record holder was the US Embassy Compound in Pakistan.

James and I have discoursed here a bit on the history of US military occupations since WW II. Boils down to the US has never removed its military from any country it's occupied with the exception of Vietnam.

veritas semper vincit @103 linked blogpost notes that the US has 40,000 troops still occupying Germany. His (I presume) post is quite entertaining considering the severe seriousness of the topic.

Dis is a nice little country ya gotz heyah. Id be a shame if sumpin' bad was ta happen to it.

Pft , Jul 14, 2018 7:14:55 PM | 111

Have to disagree on the impact of FDR meeting with Saudi Arabias King Saud. That was more about feeling him out on a future Israeli state in Palestine. His death a couple of months later may have been related because King Saud made an impression on FDR as to what an Israeli state would mean for peace in the region. Also, FDR was close to Uncle Joe and unlikely to back the planned Cold War supported by some of the same folks wanting a destabilized Middle East and preventing a rebirth of the Ottoman Empire which would control much of the worlds oil reserves.

As for oil supremacy. This has been an Anglo-american joint venture for over a century and was one reason for WWI being fought as well as the Balfour Declaration to give the Brits a future pro-British state in the region at some point.

As for Saudi oil, this was lockef up well before 1945. It was left untouched by the British after WWI and King Saud handed the concessions to the Americans in 1933 because he felt they had no imperialist designs like the British. He was not a fan of the British due to various skirmishes before he solidified power and Saudi borders. .

"The 1933 concession agreement between Saudi Arabia and Standard Oil of California (SOCAL) went like this: SOCAL could search for and produce oil in eastern Saudi Arabia -- a region 20 percent larger than the state of Texas -- for 60 years; it also received preferential rights to explore elsewhere in the future. The kingdom received an immediate loan of £30,000 in gold and, 18 months later, another loan of £20,000 in gold -- an amount equivalent to about $250,000 today -- plus yearly rentals of £5000 and royalties of four shillings in gold -- about $1 -- per ton of oil produced. (Only later would oil be measured in barrels.)"

[Jul 15, 2018] If history is any precedent, empires without economic foundations, sooner or later crumble, especially when rising regional powers are capable of replacing them.

Notable quotes:
"... No doubt that the globalized elite want Friedman's "World is Flat" concept – profit maximizing world markets, world production, stateless corporations, free movement of labour and capital (without troublesome national identities) represented by an exclusive and vastly wealthy rootless elite ruling over a global worker hive. The "Empire" is only the military/enforcement side of this, with sanctions/wars against dissidents. ..."
"... Trump is in the strange situation of having been elected to fight the Empire while needing elite Imperial support to stay in his job. ..."
Jul 15, 2018 |

Miro23 , Next New Comment

July 14, 2018 at 1:04 pm GMT

If history is any precedent, empires without economic foundations, sooner or later crumble, especially when rising regional powers are capable of replacing them.

This is worth repeating. Empire and wars are expensive. For example the British world trade network was doing fine until the "Imperial" idea came along with wars and economic failure. The US is doing even worse in trying to fight its Imperial wars on credit.

The result is that Trump faces the real prospects of a decline in exports and popular electoral support – especially from those adversely affected by declining markets and deep cuts in health, education and the environment.

He may well be blindsided by a candidate who actually implements Trump's own election platform 1) no more wars 2) domestic infrastructure spending 3) stopping mass immigration 4) draining the swamp. Trumps electoral weakness is that didn't follow through on his promises.

The electoral oligarchy and the mass media will force him to retreat from the trade wars and surrender to the globalizing elites.

No doubt that the globalized elite want Friedman's "World is Flat" concept – profit maximizing world markets, world production, stateless corporations, free movement of labour and capital (without troublesome national identities) represented by an exclusive and vastly wealthy rootless elite ruling over a global worker hive. The "Empire" is only the military/enforcement side of this, with sanctions/wars against dissidents.

Trump is in the strange situation of having been elected to fight the Empire while needing elite Imperial support to stay in his job.

[Jul 15, 2018] JPM raised its forecast for Brent crude to average $70/bbl in both 2018 and 2019, up from an earlier forecast of $65 in 2018 and $60 in 2019

Jul 15, 2018 |

We expect continued price fluctuations within a wide $50-80/barrel range, with the strip gravitating lower over the medium-term and a wider Brent/WTI crude differential," JPM writes.

[Jul 15, 2018] Election promises are always face in a neoliberal empire. They are always elements of bait and switch game with electorate

Jul 15, 2018 |


This is one of the reasons Americans of all colors and stripes will not receive the the benefits of the powers of economic equality, transparency, literal meanings of the health of the economy and economic freedom.

Because they will remain blinded by partisan worship of the presidents. We agree with Obama's criticism of big banks or of Bush's conducts of the war. We agree with Trump's criticism of the wars raging in the ME . We agree with his take on illegal immigrants. Instead of holding their feet to the fire, we condone, ignore, and then come out in support of them when they fail miserably and intentionally on other vital areas or when they go against the election promises.

We believe he shits about economy coming out of FOX CNN MSNBC NYT NY POST because we worship the candidates they support or don't support , or because the support or don't support our views on other areas .

American economy has been growing without the accompanying growth of the worker's compensation for 45 years . Nothing new . Presidents have no role for the existing condition of the economy . Presidents may claim some success down the line years after presidency is over . Our economic knowledge is doled out by the same psychopaths who dole us out the knowledge and the faith about wars and about other countries from the unclean perches of the media . Yes its a handout Its a dole because we have all along built up our world view and our view of US as told by these guys dictated to us and shoved down us . The folks whose income have suffered and hours have increased don't have the time or the brains to explore and verify . They are just happy to know that they heard this "Trust but verify " and heard this " make America Great Again " . They are happy to go to war because a lesbian was killed in Uganda or in Syria or a girl was raped in Libya or gas was smelt in Dara and Hara , Sara Bara and Laora - just throw some names any name, and these folks will lend their names and sign up .

This is the underlying mindset and the intellectual foundation which explain our deepest attachment to liar like Obama and to Trump. Combined with helplessness ,this experience of reality can be disorienting and can lead to Stockholm Syndrome .

If this president wants no immigration to EU, he should stop supporting France's exploitation and military adventures in Africa, stop adding to war efforts in ME and will pay the restitution for ravaging those countries . He should focus on US and stop talking about EU's immigration.

jilles dykstra , Next New Comment July 14, 2018 at 5:16 pm GMT

" If this president wants no immigration to EU, he should stop supporting France's exploitation and military adventures in Africa, stop adding to war efforts in ME and will pay the restitution for ravaging those countries. He should focus on US and stop talking about EU's immigration. "

THE great cause of migrants coming to Europe is the USA, the wars in and destruction of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria Mali, as far as I know hardly anyone comes from Mali to us. Sudan was split by the USA, oil, the USA is building a drone base in Nigeria, oil again...

Possibly Brussels now understands that an attack on Iran will cause a new flood of migrants, Netanyahu has been warned. A new flood is the deadsure end of the EU.

[Jul 15, 2018] Donald Trump told Theresa May how to do Brexit 'but she wrecked it' and says the US trade deal is off

Jul 15, 2018 |

THERESA May's new soft Brexit blueprint would "kill" any future trade deal with the United States, Donald Trump warns today.

Mounting an extraordinary attack on the PM's exit negotiation, the President also reveals she has ignored his advice on how to toughen up the troubled talks.

Instead he believes Mrs May has gone "the opposite way", and he thinks the results have been "very unfortunate".

His fiercest criticism came over the centrepiece of the PM's new Brexit plan -- which was unveiled in full yesterday.

It would stick to a common ­rulebook with Brussels on goods and agricultural produce in a bid to keep customs borders open with the EU.

But Mr Trump told The Sun: "If they do a deal like that, we would be dealing with the European Union instead of dealing with the UK, so it will probably kill the deal.

[Jul 15, 2018] Rod Rosenstein Impeachment Plans Drawn Up Report

Jul 14, 2018 |
House GOP members led by Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (NC) have drawn up articles of impeachment against Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, according to Politico .

Conservative sources say they could file the impeachment document as soon as Monday , as Meadows and Freedom Caucus founder Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) look to build Republican support in the House. One source cautioned, however, that the timing was still fluid. - Politico

GOP legislators could also try to hold Rosenstein in contempt of Congress prior to actual impeachment.

The knives have been out for Rosenstein for weeks, as Congressional investigators have repeatedly accused the DOJ of "slow walking" documents related to their investigations. Frustrated lawmakers have been given the runaround - while Rosenstein and the rest of the DOJ are hiding behind the argument that the materials requested by various Congressional oversight committees would potentially compromise ongoing investigations.

In late June, Rosenstein along with FBI Director Christopher Wray clashed with House Republicans during a fiery hearing over an internal DOJ report criticizing the FBI's handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation by special agents who harbored extreme animus towards Donald Trump while expressing support for Clinton. Republicans on the panel grilled a defiant Rosenstein on the Trump-Russia investigation which has yet to prove any collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.

"This country is being hurt by it. We are being divided," Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) said of Mueller's investigation. "Whatever you got," Gowdy added, "Finish it the hell up because this country is being torn apart."

Rosenstein pushed back - dodging responsibility for decisions made by subordinates while claiming that Mueller was moving "as expeditiously as possible," and insisting that he was "not trying to hide anything."

"We are not in contempt of this Congress, and we are not going to be in contempt of this Congress," Rosenstein told lawmakers.

Republicans, meanwhile, approved a resolution on the House floor demanding that the DOJ turn over thousands of requested documents by July 6 . And while the DOJ did provide Congressional investigators with access to a trove of documents, House GOP said the document delivery was incomplete , according to Fox News .

That didn't impress Congressional GOP.

" For over eight months, they have had the opportunity to choose transparency. But they've instead chosen to withhold information and impede any effort of Congress to conduct oversight," said Representative Mark Meadows of North Carolina, a sponsor of Thursday's House resolution who raised the possibility of impeachment this week. " If Rod Rosenstein and the Department of Justice have nothing to hide, they certainly haven't acted like it. " - New York Times (6/28/18)

Rep. Meadows, meanwhile, fully admits that the document requests are related to efforts to quash the Mueller investigation.

"Yes, when we get these documents, we believe that it will do away with this whole fiasco of what they call the Russian Trump collusion because there wasn't any ," Meadows said on the House floor.

Meanwhile, following a long day of grilling FBI counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte blamed Rosenstein for hindering Strzok's ability to reveal the details of his work.

"Rosenstein, who has oversight over the FBI and of the Mueller investigation is where the buck stops," he said. "Congress has been blocked today from conducting its constitutional oversight duty."

While Rosenstein's appears to be close to the chopping block, whether or not he will actually be impeached is an entirely different matter.

el buitre -> Ecclesia Militans Sat, 07/14/2018 - 10:24 Permalink

I think this attempt to impeach Rosenstink is ridiculous. First of all, it is bound to failure as it would require a 2/3 majority in the Senate. Second, the impeachment clauses in the constitution were designed for a sitting president who was granted immunity from traditional prosecution for committing crimes. Rosenstink serves at the pleasure of Trump, who apparently, at least in "reality" shows, is quite adept at firing people for incompetence and malfeasance. Let Trump fire him and then impanel a grand jury to indict him. I think upon conviction he should be required to eat the 12 ham sandwiches which fellow conspirator Mueller recently indicted.

IridiumRebel -> TeamDepends Sat, 07/14/2018 - 10:48 Permalink

I love the people that say "Rosenstein is a Republican! Mueller is a Republican!"


Adolfsteinbergovitch -> JimmyJones Sat, 07/14/2018 - 11:22 Permalink

Rosenstein, seth rich murder connection?

[Jul 14, 2018] McMaken The Military Is A Jobs Program... For Immigrants Many Others

Jul 14, 2018 |

by Tyler Durden Fri, 07/13/2018 - 18:45 12 SHARES Authored Ryan McMaken via The Mises Institute,

On the matter of immigration, even many commentators who support ease of migration also oppose the extension of government benefits to immigrants.

The idea, of course, is that free movement of labor is fine, but taxpayers shouldn't have to subsidize it. As a matter of policy, many also find it prudent that immigrants ought to be economically self sufficient before being offered citizenship. Switzerland, for instance, makes it harder to pursue citizenship while receiving social benefits.

This discussion often centers around officially recognized "welfare" and social-benefits programs such as TANF and Medicaid. But it is also recognized that taxpayer-funded benefits exist in the form of public schooling, free clinics, and other in-kind benefits.

But there is another taxpayer-supporter program that subsidizes immigration as well: the US military.

Government Employment for Immigrants

Last week, the AP began reporting that " the US Army is quietly discharging Immigrant recruits ."

Translation: the US government has begun laying off immigrants from taxpayer-funded government jobs.

It's unclear how many of these jobs have been employed, but according to the Department of Homeland security, "[s]ince Oct. 1, 2002, USCIS has naturalized 102,266 members of the military ."

The Military as a Jobs Program

Immigrants, of course, aren't the only people who benefit from government jobs funded through military programs.

The military has long served as a jobs programs helpful in mopping up excess labor and padding employment numbers. As Robert Reich noted in 2011 , as the US was still coming out of the 2009 recession:

And without our military jobs program personal incomes would be dropping faster. The Commerce Department reported Monday the only major metro areas where both net earnings and personal incomes rose last year were San Antonio, Texas, Virginia Beach, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. -- because all three have high concentrations of military and federal jobs.

He's right. While the private sector must cut back and re-arrange labor and capital to deal with the new economic realities post-recession, government jobs rarely go away.

Because of this, Reich concludes "America's biggest -- and only major -- jobs program is the U.S. military."

Reich doesn't think this is a bad thing. He only highlights the military's role as a de facto jobs program in order to call for more de jure jobs programs supported by federal funding.

Given the political popularity of the military, however, it's always easy to protect funding for the military jobs programs than for any other potential jobs programs. All the Pentagon has to do is assure Congress that every single military job is absolutely essential, and Congress will force taxpayers to cough up the funding.

Back during the debate over sequestration, for example, the Pentagon routinely warned Congress that any cutbacks in military funding would lead to major jobs losses, bringing devastation to the economy.

In other words, even the Pentagon treats the military like a jobs program when it's politically useful.

Benefits for enlisted people go well beyond what can be seen in the raw numbers of total employed. As Kelley Vlahos points out at The American Conservative , military personnel receive extra hazard pay "even though they are far from any fighting or real danger." And then there is the "Combat Zone Tax Exclusion (CZTE) program which exempts enlisted and officers from paying federal taxes in these 45 designated countries. Again, they get the tax break -- which accounted for about $3.6 billion in tax savings for personnel in 2009 (the combat pay cost taxpayers $790 million in 2009)– whether they are really in danger or not."

There's also evidence that military personnel receive higher pay in the military than do their private-sector counterparts with similar levels of education and training.

Nor do the benefits of military spending go only to enlisted people. The Pentagon has long pointed to its spending on civilian jobs in many communities, including manufacturing jobs and white-collar technical jobs.

This, of course, has long been politically useful for the Pentagon as well, since as political scientist Rebecca Thorpe has shown in her book The American Warfare State , communities that rely heavily on Pentagon-funded employment are sure to send Congressmen to Washington who will make sure the taxpayer dollars keep flowing to Pentagon programs.

Whether you're talking to Robert Reich or some Pentagon lobbyist on Capitol Hill, the conclusion is clear: the military is both a jobs program and a stimulus program. Cut military spending at your peril!

Military Spending Destroys Private Sector Jobs

The rub, however, is that military spending doesn't actually improve the economy. And much the money spent on military employment would be best spent on the private, voluntary economy.

This has long been recognized by political scientist Seymour Melman who has discussed the need for "economic conversion," or converting military spending into other forms of spending. Melman observes :

Since we know that matter and energy located in Place A cannot be simultaneously located in Place B, we must understand that the resources used up on military account thereby represent a preemption of resources from civilian needs of every conceivable kind.

Here, Melman is simply describing in his own way what Murray Rothbard explained in Man, Economy, and State . Namely, government spending distorts the economy as badly as taxation -- driving up prices for the private sector, and withdrawing resources from private sector use.

Ellen Brown further explains :

The military actually destroys jobs in the civilian economy. The higher profits from cost-plus military manufacturing cause manufacturers to abandon more competitive civilian endeavors; and the permanent war economy takes engineers, capital and resources away from civilian production.

But, as a classic case of "the seen" vs. "the unseen," it's easy to point to jobs created by military spending. How many jobs were lost as a result of that same spending? That remains unseen, and thus politically irrelevant.

Military fan boys will of course assure us that every single military job and every single dollar spent on the military is absolutely essential. It's all the service of "fighting for freedom." For instance, Mitchell Blatt writes , in the context of immigrant recruits, "I'm not worried about the country or origin of those who are fighting to defend us. What matters is that our military is as strong as it can be." The idea at work here is that the US military is a lean machine, doing only what is necessary to get the job done, and as cost effectively as possible. Thus, hiring the "best" labor, from whatever source is absolutely essential.

This, however, rather strains the bounds of credibility. The US military is more expensive than the next eight largest militaries combined . The US's navy is ten times larger than the next largest navy. The US's air force is the largest in the world, and the second largest air force belongs, not to a foreign country, but to the US Navy.

Yet, we're supposed to believe that any cuts will imperil the "readiness" of the US military.

Cut Spending for Citizens and Non-Citizens Alike

My intent here is not to pick on immigrants specifically. The case of military layoffs for immigrants simply helps to illustrate a couple of important points: government jobs with the military constitute of form of taxpayer-funded subsidy for immigrants. And secondly, the US military acts as a job program, not just for immigrants but for many native-born Americans.

In truth, layoffs in the military sector ought to be far more widespread, and hardly limited to immigrants. The Trump Administration is wrong when it suggests that the positions now held by immigrant recruits ought to be filled by American-born recruits. Those positions should be left unfilled. Permanently.

cougar_w Fri, 07/13/2018 - 18:53 Permalink

No you retarded fuck, the military is a taxpayer-funed merc army supporting the overseas hegemonic goals of American-style Corporatism . That the military is full of the sons and daughters of poor people is only because rich whites won't send their trustfund babies to kill brown people for oil.

Smedley Butler, 1935: " War is a Racket "

How anyone still gets this wrong is symptomatic of too much inbreeding.

Expendable Container -> cougar_w Fri, 07/13/2018 - 18:58 Permalink

The military is a taxpayer-funded merc army supporting Isra hell's goals none of which benefit the US.

cougar_w -> Expendable Container Fri, 07/13/2018 - 19:12 Permalink

No, asshole. It's about money. About cash and gold. Profit. Markets. Growth. About cheap or free resources. Access to labor. New customers.

War makes companies rich, it might be the ONLY way they can get rich. War is waged when GM wants to sell trucks to the Pentagon. When Boeing wants to sell jets. When MIT wants money for arms research. When NATO wants a reason to exist. The dogs of war are loosed when oil gets tight. When countries won't "accept our cultural freedoms". When trade agreements aren't enough to open up new markets.

Isreal has fleeting nothing to do with it, except maybe when war aligns with their perceived need for hegemony in their own sphere. But by loading all this on Isreal you encourage others to miss the real fox in the henhouse. You could wipe Isreal off the Earth tomorrow and still have wars for profit for a thousand years to come.

This nation was born in war. It has practiced war since that day and will be at war with the rest of the world until humans are killed to the last and the last ounce of profit from war is had.

TeethVillage88s -> cougar_w Fri, 07/13/2018 - 19:08 Permalink

or from systematic corruption of all US Institutions and the politicization of all US Institutions... you need a job, you want to work here, you say this, and you do this, ... tow the line, no politics, no whistleblowing,... and we won't blackball your ass from the industry... got it... u got debts, keep ur nose clean!

Idiocracy's Not Sure Fri, 07/13/2018 - 18:56 Permalink

the US military has slacking pay.

Quantify -> Idiocracy's Not Sure Fri, 07/13/2018 - 18:58 Permalink

Yes the pay sucks but you get more done before 8am than most people do in a week. But seriously its a pretty good gig in the long run. Medical care a decent retirement system, travel a chance to meet and integrate with different cultures and kill them...its pretty cool.

AudiDoug Fri, 07/13/2018 - 19:17 Permalink

Excluding a small percentage, the military is much like the DMV. We have a cartoon vision of all enlisted being GI Joe, ready to grab a gun and fight evil. This in not the case at all. Most positions are very simple, repetitive bureaucratic positions. Really is a giant Jobs program to keep people busy.

Debt Slave Fri, 07/13/2018 - 19:22 Permalink

"The idea at work here is that the US military is a lean machine, doing only what is necessary to get the job done, and as cost effectively as possible."

Then why are we still in Afghanistan?

No need to answer, the question is rhetorical.

DingleBarryObummer Fri, 07/13/2018 - 18:59 Permalink

Support our B̶a̶n̶k̶s̶t̶e̶r̶s̶ Troops!

[Jul 14, 2018] Today orange fatty called out Germany for being captive to Russia.

The USA is "captive" of Canada (to use the terminology of trump), but don't seem to have much appreciation or respect for their position.
Jul 14, 2018 |


x Ignored says: 07/11/2018 at 11:20 am
Looks like OPEC 14 peaked two years. Can they beat it?, perhaps by a small amount in a world without chaos.

Today orange fatty called out Germany for being captive to Russia. I'm pretty sure he was referring to German dependence on imported fossil energy from Russia.

As of 2015 Germany net energy imports are 64% of total [USA 12% for comparison]. If this means 'captive', then perhaps we should acknowledge that 11 of our top 13 trading partners are highly dependent on imported energy from either Russia or the big OPEC producers.

'Captives' so to speak. Better get used to that idea, and learn how to get along with others. Only Canada and Mexico aren't 'captives', but we don't look to good at being friends with them either.

[Jul 14, 2018] If the Bakken was to get and hold 1.4 million barrels a day the would need to complete around 1500 wells per year

Jul 14, 2018 |

coffeeguyzz x Ignored says: 07/13/2018 at 6:22 pm

Director's Cut out for May North Dakota just released.

New record production for both oil and gas with pretty low – 42 -- well completions reported as preliminary figures.

Guym x Ignored says: 07/13/2018 at 9:17 pm
How much was production?
coffeeguyzz x Ignored says: 07/13/2018 at 9:36 pm
38,583,489 bbl. 1,244,629 bbld. 96% from Bakken TF (1,189,982 bbld).

Gas – 71,881,378 Bcf. 2.3 Bcfd.

Oil increase is about 1.6% above previous month.

phatom x Ignored says: 07/13/2018 at 8:19 pm
The completed around 95 according to my data. The is lag in the data on confidential wells that will show up next month in the final data. Also if the Bakken was to get and hold 1.4 million barrels a day the would need to complete around 1500 wells per year.

[Jul 14, 2018] The only true measurement of market balance for oil going forward is global inventory level. Everything else is perhaps manipulation or guesses.

Jul 14, 2018 |

kolbeinh x Ignored says: 07/11/2018 at 6:11 pm

I managed to erase my own comment on this. And my comment was simple, the only true measurement of market balance for oil going forward is global inventory level. Everything else is perhaps manipulation or guesses.
Guym x Ignored says: 07/11/2018 at 7:31 pm
I agree, with all the intentional and unintentional confusion it stays confused. I stay confused trying to figure out what is confused. Inventory levels will be the only clear measure of what is happening. US inventories should not be dropping fast, as we are about the only country with increased production, but we dropped over 30 million last month. That's really not small potatoes, as commercial stocks are just a little over 400 million. Though, I think the US will be one of the last that would hit the danger zone.
Tita x Ignored says: 07/12/2018 at 3:57 pm
Good point. My intention was not to give more confusion. These are forecasts from eia and, I always like to remind this, they forecasted Brent averaging 105$ for 2015 in the STEO of October 2014. They never forecast big surplus or deficit.

I messed with the numbers of the STEO from 2018 to guess when the are reliable. Inventory levels are accurate for the US from the monthly report, which is 3 months old (april for July STEO). Other inventory levels are less accurate, but stock changes are reliable from 4-5 month data.

Global inventories increased in April (0.74 Mb/d) and May (1.14 Mb/d). This would be quite a change, as April would be a record inventory build since January 2017, and it would be followed by another record. This have to be confirmed later.

So, now I know what I will look for in these STEO.

Guym x Ignored says: 07/12/2018 at 4:35 pm
You gave data that I did not use before, and understand better, now. You did not confuse.
Eulenspiegel x Ignored says: 07/13/2018 at 3:55 am
How does this fit with production and consumption?

I thought we have still increasing consumption of about 1.5 mb/year, and production in April/May didn't jumped thad much – Opec flat and Permian already near it's pipeline bottleneck.

As much as I know, many storages are unknown, especially Opec / China. There are these satellite measurements, but there are additional deep storages.

Gathering all comsumption / raffinery input / production data would give an additional picture. Still not easy.

With 1mb/day surplus we should go soon into the next oil price crash to 30-40.

Permian price is then at 0-10$.

AdamB x Ignored says: 07/11/2018 at 11:14 am
Even if we haven't hit peak yet, the fact that production is likely to be going up by a snail's pace the next 3 years is a problem. If consumption just goes up 0.75% a year we need 600K extra a year. That seems like a big challenge to a layman like myself.
Timthetiny x Ignored says: 07/11/2018 at 12:57 pm
Well what will happen is that the price of oil will hit $150-$200 a barrel to ration demand.

Which will cause much pain and ruction and gnashing of teeth among the voters, but Europe has had those oil equivalent prices owing to taxation for quite some time and they manage high living standards. $200/bbl probably destroys 10 million a day in superfluous 'Becky driving by herself to the mall in a 3 ton SUV for no reason' kind of demand and incentivizes quite a bit of production.

The transition period will be moody for sure, but at $200/bbl, the amount of economic EOR targets in the US is somewhere in excess of 70 BBO from old conventional fields from the industry reports I have seen – its just not economic to do since there isn't enough CO2 available to flood them, so you need to use more expensive techniques which require very high prices (ethane flooding might be useful????). Worldwide its hundreds of billions. High prices that encourage us to use the resource wisely and not waste the goddamn stuff liberally would be a godsend, if we could quit wasting gigatons of plastic bullshit and 40% of our food – i.e. if everything made from oil was more expensive as well.

It would be painful economically, but Mad Max isn't coming our way. After 5 years of pain, we might actually finally get our shit together and research some goddamn alternatives.

Fernando Leanme x Ignored says: 07/11/2018 at 1:51 pm
I believe sugar cane ethanol is very competitive at $120 per barrel. This allows converting grass cattle grazing ground to cane. I believe soy and palm will also become very attractive crops. And I suspect countries like Haiti and Nicaragua will continue having riots.
kolbeinh x Ignored says: 07/11/2018 at 4:32 pm
Yes, I believe you are right. The future energy picture is complex, but authors writing books about this say sugar cane ethanol could have EROEI (energy return on energy invested) of up to 4. Even based on mechanised agriculture. And the big advantage of this crop is that it is not very nitrogen intensive, the biggest fertilizer, currently energy intensive when it comes to natural gas usage. Even when it comes to preindustrial crop rotation, the nitrogen intensive main food crops were often rotated with legume crops which were not nitrogen intesive in the hope to rebuild nitrogen content in the earth. So very long term, sugar cane ethanol is a superb type of renewable energy. (that is what I read, no expert).

Brazil has the biggest potential out there when it comes to size, and it is not inconceivable that they can cover much of domestic fuel demand with this outside aviation and possibly shipping (no need for diesel and gasoline ;-)). It would be in competition with food crops and concerns about deforestation, but still; a big potential there. Brazil is well off in a more renewable future btw, having loads of hydro power, wind power, in addition to biomass power (sugar cane the most promising).

[Jul 14, 2018] "Exxon has been pledg ing to pro duce more oil and gas for years, but its out put of about four mil lion bar rels a day is no higher to day than it was af ter its merger with Mobil Corp. in 1999

Jul 14, 2018 |

Boomer II x Ignored says: 07/13/2018 at 6:11 pm

From the WSJ Exxon story.

"[Exxon's] approach is a gam­ble in a new era of en­ergy break­throughs such as frack­ing and elec­tric ve­hi­cles. Many of Exxon's com­peti-tors are trans­form­ing their busi­nesses to move away from oil ex­plo­ration, and have be­gun to spend care­fully and di­ver­sify into re­new­able energy ."

"'Most in­vestors like Exxon, but they like other com­pa­nies bet­ter,' said Mark Stoeckle, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Adams Funds, which owns about $100 mil­lion in Exxon shares. 'The mar­ket is not will­ing to re­ward Exxon for spend­ing to­day in hopes that it will bring good re­turns to­mor­row.'

"Exxon has been pledg­ing to pro­duce more oil and gas for years, but its out­put of about four mil­lion bar­rels a day is no higher to­day than it was af­ter its merger with Mo­bil Corp. in 1999. Even if Exxon suc­ceeds in dou­bling last year's earn­ings of $15 bil­lion (ex­clud­ing im­pair­ments and tax re­form im­pacts) by 2025, as Mr. Woods vowed in his eight-year spend­ing plan, it would still be mak­ing far less than in 2008, when it set what was then a record for an­nual prof­its by an Amer­i­can cor­po­ra­tion, at $45 bil­lion .

"Exxon's frack­ing prospects in the Per­mian basin in West Texas and New Mex­ico, de­vel­oped by its XTO unit, re­main among its most prof­itable op­por­tu­ni­ties, the com­pany says. Still, its U.S. drilling busi­ness has lost money in 11 of the last 15 quar­ters."

Boomer II x Ignored says: 07/13/2018 at 3:46 pm
The Wall Street Journal has a big article on Exxon. I won't bother with a link because you won't be able to see it if you aren't a subscriber.

Basically it says we've seen peak Exxon.

[Jul 14, 2018] EIA optimism is politically motivated

Notable quotes:
"... If the EIA is intentionally misrepresenting available supply, do they know better and are just trying to postpone some sort of economic panic? ..."
Jul 14, 2018 |

Tita x Ignored says: 07/11/2018 at 1:21 pm

I did a more thorough analysis of the STEO using their excel tables. Just comparing dec 18 production with dec 19 production. I just corrected some inconsistency with UK data, as dec19 had a drop of 300kb/d.

non-OPEC 2018 increase: 2.8 Mb/d
US increase: 2 Mb/d,
of which 1.4Mb/d of crude, 0.6Mb/d of NGL. Offshore increase of 400kb/d (to 1.89 Mb/d). Onshore increase of 1Mb/d.
Canada increase: 130 kb/d
Brazil increase: 176 kb/d
Russia increase: 211kb/d

So, indeed EIA doesn't forecast any constrains in US production. June to december growth for onshore production is forecasted at 430kb/d. The 1.4Mb/d figure comes probably from the monthly data. They are very optimistic, but there is nothing wrong.

Guym x Ignored says: 07/11/2018 at 2:05 pm
When it says "crude" is that crude plus condensate, or is the condensate included in NGLs? The reason I ask that, is that the monthlies include crude plus condensate. 1.4 million increase does not tie into their summary page. 1 million crude per your spreadsheets does not agree to 600 to the Permian, plus 600 from the rest of the US, including the GOM. The summary analysis has 1.2 million. Adding onshore and GOM from the numbers you pulled is 1.4 million. Adding 2 million from the US plus Canada gives 2.13 million, not 2.3 per the summary. Adding 400 to the ending monthly for the GOM for 2017, gives a lot more than 1.89. Nothing jives. They are supposed to be just "optimistic" when the expect 430k to just magically appear in Cushing or Gulf coast without the aid of pipelines, trains, or trucks? No, wait, 400k of that is supposed to come from the Bakken and Eagle Ford, of which little has happened yet, nor will much. So, most of it has already figured out a way to get teleported. Or, is the optimism politically motivated.
Ron Patterson x Ignored says: 07/11/2018 at 2:51 pm
No, the OPEC Monthly Oil Market Report reports crude only. Their data does not include condensate.

The EIA figures are always Crude+Condensate or Total Liquids. The EIA never reports crude only and OPEC never reports C+C.

George Kaplan x Ignored says: 07/12/2018 at 12:22 am
NEB currently has Canada increase at about 250kbpd (for both yearly average and December exit rate), that may come down as they incorporate the upgrader outage and East Coast turn arounds.

The GoM is not going to add 400 kbpd, it's more likely to be negative on average (December may be up slightly as 2017 had three major unplanned outages then (but at the moment EIA are reporting about 30 kbpd which don't come from any reported wells or leases so they may know something else). GoM has to replace about 20 kbpd per month of decline, which it isn't doing at the moment, plus overcome any planned/unplanned outages, which seem to be getting more frequent.

Brazil is going to struggle to get 180 kbpd increase. They were down 20 kbpd in May from December. They have two FPSOs ramping up but are fighting 30+ kbpd decline per month (and increasing). The are other FPSOs due but seem delayed and the ramp ups are slower than in the past, principally because of lack of drilling capacity. Probably they need two new development wells per month to keep level, given the normal delivery rate and that some are for injection, they only have 8 rigs, not all on new developments, but there may be some predrilled wells available.

Russia has more fields coming on stream, but it depends how much the mature fields decline – there must be a limit some time on how much in-fill drilling can be done.

Guym x Ignored says: 07/12/2018 at 8:12 am
So, replacing the EIA estimates with our own, we get for non-OPEC growth:
650. US (550 from the Permian, 100 Bakken)
Eagle Ford may drop
250. Canada
180. Brazil
300. Russia being generous

1380. Total which is 1.42 short of their 2.8 million, or 2.6 (1.180) if you use their summary page. Even adding another 350 to the US still is close to 1 million short. OPEC contribution seems somewhat "optimistic", and does not factor in any Iranian drop. Yeah, should balance out. 🤡Then, we have 2019, which is damn scary. The only potential partial offset is demand. If part of demand is computed based on funky supply numbers, then it is likely to be less than estimated. But not that much lower. Half a million is an overestimation. This much is politically motivated. The latest monthlies that will be posted before November will be August. Only four months to the end of the year. Going to be tough to keep this up. Four more months of inventory drops before November. OMR out, and indicates OPEC is stretched. I still find it easier to plug in my estimates with the OMR report. I get 2 million a day draws through 2019, at a minimum using their June report, and correcting.
Their first page graph pretty much depicts serious draws without adjustment. They have a 2 million a day increase in non-OPEC production for 2018, lowered to 1.97 in this report.

Boomer II x Ignored says: 07/12/2018 at 1:29 pm
If the EIA is intentionally misrepresenting available supply, do they know better and are just trying to postpone some sort of economic panic?
Guym x Ignored says: 07/12/2018 at 1:35 pm
Misrepresenting is too strong a term. That would assume they are reporting the actual numbers wrong, which they do not do. These are projections, and they can be manipulated to serve the best purpose of keeping prices down until the elections. That's pure speculation.
Ron Patterson x Ignored says: 07/12/2018 at 10:44 am
Another Chart.

Guym x Ignored says: 07/12/2018 at 11:07 am
Thanks. Yeah, it's much worse. Looking at that, one could guess 1380- 400 non-OPEC (less US Canada and Russia) for 2018. But, because we were short in 2017, we've gone nowhere.
George Kaplan x Ignored says: 07/12/2018 at 11:16 am
180 for Brazil is a stretch. Fort Hills and Horizon have finished ramping up so 250 for Canada is also probably a stretch. US NGL may be a chunk to include but I wonder what the global decline for NGL on mature gas developments is. North Sea looks not as good as expected. The only place doing better than I thought is Mexico, and I think that could turn the other way any time.
Guym x Ignored says: 07/12/2018 at 11:23 am
EIA reports condensate, so does my estimate. There's about 300k extra in their detail of NGLs that I can't account for.
George Kaplan x Ignored says: 07/12/2018 at 11:47 am
But i think there's a lot of NGPLs (i.e. butane and lighter) in the all liquids numbers, it's not just condensate (C5+).

Are the details of OPEC, IEA and EIA reports getting more and more focussed on short term issues, as if they have no idea how supply can meet demand longer term? Or am I missing something.

Guym x Ignored says: 07/12/2018 at 11:52 am
Unless, EIA is using a double standard in their STEO report for US vs Non-OPEC, I believe it would be crude plus condensate, only. It's crude plus condensate for US, for sure.
Ron Patterson x Ignored says: 07/12/2018 at 12:27 pm
The STEO, table 3b, Non-OPEC, is total liquids. Table 4a, US only, is Crude plus Condensate. Table 3c, OPEC, is crude only.

[Jul 14, 2018] EIA actually acknowledge these constraints, and admit they may be overstimating production, without saying by how much.

Jul 14, 2018 |


x Ignored says: 07/13/2018 at 7:37 am Just saw this looking for the release date of the next DPR report, on the EIA website:

Productivity estimates may overstate actual production which could be limited by logistical constraints."

So, EIA actually acknowledge these constraints, and admit they may be overstimating production, without saying by how much. Reply Guym x Ignored says: 07/13/2018 at 9:35 am

Reliable estimates of takeaway capacity for the Permian. Similar to Genscape, current pipeline capacity is estimated to be about 2.8. Drilling info does not mention total takeaway capacity, but Genscape estimates it at 3.3. Per the article, it was at 3.2 the end of May. The ending production, the end of 2017, was 2.8 from the Permian, making the end of May increase at 400k. I gave the projected increase 550k, because Genscape said 25k of additional trucking, may happen. Note, Drilling info lists some very small additional capacity that should come online this year, and soon, so it will probably wind up to be about 50k higher. Maybe. The gathering terminal gets it from New Mexico and West Texas to the Midland terminal, only, as I understand. The rest of the articles are mostly badly written press, but I think you can rely on Genscape and Drillinginfo.

Sometime soon, there will be an odd mixture of increased production and shut ins.

Also, if I estimate Permian production at 600k (generously), it equals the new EIA estimate. The remaining 600k US C&C production will have to come from other shales and the GOM. Good luck with that, it's July, already, and prices are too up and down, to date. Contrary to the EIA's and other analysts thoughts, $65 to $70 oil is pretty ho hum to producers. Also, there is no allowance here for other declines, of which there are some.

Guym x Ignored says: 07/13/2018 at 10:50 am
So, an updated revision to US increases (liquids) would be:
700 c@c US (600 Permian, 100 Bakken and others, GOM 0)
400 US NGLs ? Seems real high for an increase
250 Canada
180 Brazil
300 Russia
Total 1.83 versus a projection of an increase by EIA in the non-OPEC section of the STEO of 2.6, and I think mine is very "optimistic". And, as Ron points out above, it does not include roughly about 300 to 500k in declines that may happen to non-US, Russia and Canada non-OPEC production. The EIA's STEO report can be found in the local library next to Mother Goose.

According to the EIA, we are pretty much finished with inventory declines. 🤡

[Jul 14, 2018] A New Problem Emerges For Tesla

Jul 14, 2018 |

Some owners are watching hundred of miles of battery range in their Model 3 simply evaporate while the car is parked.

^ Owners' Club ***e

Sunday at 6:02 PM • ©

I left our М3 parked in our driveway at the Jersey
Shore for the last 48 hours. Checked the app and had
only 62 miles of range! When I parked it Friday
afternoon it had about 180. What am I doing wrong!

It's been super hot here. Is this usual? Is there a
setting I need to look at?

©Keubiko ^0


New Jersey now drains batteries, not just souls.

9:29 AM - Jul 7, 2018

Q? 21 See Keubiko's other Tweets

[Jul 14, 2018] Cost of Tesla repars

Jul 14, 2018 |

Tom Skraby


#ElonMusk Proud owner Model 3. Unfortunately, rear ended 2 weeks after delivery, a $700 bumper repair has turned into $9k.

Why are the battery packs not better protected? Barely touched, 5 weeks later, no car still. Steel cage?? It would seem there is a better alternative

1:22 PM-Jun 20, 2018

Q 19 ^ See Tom Skraby's other Tweets

[Jul 14, 2018] Beyond Money

Notable quotes:
"... Kevin Shipp, former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officer, intelligence and counter terrorism expert, held several high-level positions in the CIA. His assignments included protective agent for the Director of the CIA, counterintelligence investigator searching for moles inside the CIA, overseas counter terrorism operations officer, internal security investigator, assistant team leader for the antiterrorism tactical assault team, chief of training for the CIA federal police force and polygraph examiner. Mr. Shipp was the senior program manager for the Department of State, Diplomatic Security, Anti-Terrorism Assistance global police training program. He is the recipient of two CIA Meritorious Unit Citations, three Exceptional Performance Awards and a Medallion for high risk overseas operations. Website/book: ..."
Jul 14, 2018 |

Fake News, Fake Money, How to Tell the Difference Posted on February 21, 2018 | Leave a comment Why is it so hard these days to tell fact from fiction? Who can be trusted to tell us what's really going on? Can the New York Times and Washington Post still be believed? And what about money? Can we still trust the dollar, the euro, the pound sterling? What supports national currencies, anyway? Is this Bitcoin thing real or fake money, and should I buy some?

Here's a compelling presentation by Andreas Antonopoulos, that addresses all of these questions. Antonopoulos is a technologist and entrepreneur and probably the most knowledgeable and insightful expert on bitcoin, blockchain technology and the profound changes that lie just ahead.


Here's the YouTube link:

Now take a deep dive into the political realities of our time by watching this presentation by CIA officer Kevin Shipp, in which he exposes the Shadow Government and the Deep State. If you question his credibility here is a brief bio from Information Clearing House:

Kevin Shipp, former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officer, intelligence and counter terrorism expert, held several high-level positions in the CIA. His assignments included protective agent for the Director of the CIA, counterintelligence investigator searching for moles inside the CIA, overseas counter terrorism operations officer, internal security investigator, assistant team leader for the antiterrorism tactical assault team, chief of training for the CIA federal police force and polygraph examiner. Mr. Shipp was the senior program manager for the Department of State, Diplomatic Security, Anti-Terrorism Assistance global police training program. He is the recipient of two CIA Meritorious Unit Citations, three Exceptional Performance Awards and a Medallion for high risk overseas operations. Website/book:

Here's the YouTube link:

[Jul 14, 2018] The energy cliff approaches: World Oil Gas Discoveries Continue To Decline

Jul 14, 2018 |

shortonoil -> SRSrocco Sun, 07/08/2018 - 16:00 Permalink

Hi Steve, this is exactly what we have been talking about for the last 8 years. To make matters worse there seems to be a completely irrational belief that Shale will save the day. Outside of the fact that shale is not processable without heavier crude, and it is at best energy neutral, and probably negative, it is also long term unaffordable. There are 1.7 million Shale wells in the US. Over the next 5 years 1.4 million of those wells will have to be replaced to just keep production even. That will be $6.2 trillion even if done on the cheap. $6.2 trillion is equal to the total cost of all the finished product that will be consumed by the US for the next 12.8 years (@ $75/barrel). Expending 12.8 years of sales revenue to produce 5 years of oil is just not going to happen!

There seems to be a black out on this terrible situation. Some of that may be just plain ignorance, but I suspect that the main reason is that it is politically unspeakable. For that reason nothing is being spoken. As I have been saying for some time no one should expect big oil, big government, or big anything to come riding to the rescue. The individual is now completely on their own. Chose your options with discretion.


SRSrocco -> shortonoil Sun, 07/08/2018 - 16:55 Permalink


Agreed. The U.S. Shale Oil Ponzi Scheme will likely begin to disintegrate within the next 1-3 years. Already, the Permian oil productivity per well has peaked.

Then when the next Shale Oil ENRON event takes place... watch as the dominos fall.


Zen Xenu -> SRSrocco Sun, 07/08/2018 - 19:48 Permalink

@SRSrocco, U.S. Tight Oil depends on cheap credit. Regardless of oil prices.

Once cheap credit dries up and the previous debts are unable to be paid by drilling new wells, the entire scheme falls apart.

Oil prices do not drive U.S. Tight Oil as much as cheap credit from easy loans.

Eventually, U S. Tight Oil using new credit cards to pay debts on old credit cards will catch up with a vengence. Rising interest rates will be the catalyst. Rising oil prices only prolong the increasing debt.

MrNoItAll -> SRSrocco Sun, 07/08/2018 - 21:21 Permalink

Didn't the EIA publish something not long ago stating their concerns that we could see oil shortages by 2020? And around the same time, I recall that the Saudi Oil Minister came out and stated that without more investment, we would likely see oil shortages by 2020. And then at the recent OPEC meeting, I believe it was the Oil Minister from UAE who stated that we need to find a new North Seas equivalent oil field EVERY YEAR to meet projected demand, which of course is not going to happen. It has been a long slow grind since 2008 to get to this point, but from here on out I anticipate that things will start unraveling at an ever faster pace. Big changes on the way. But one thing that will NEVER happen is that the POTUS or some other world leader comes out and says we are running short on energy. Instead it will be Trade Wars, the damned Russians or some other lame propaganda -- anything but the truth.

Cloud9.5 -> Anonymous_Bene Mon, 07/09/2018 - 07:23 Permalink

This is a synopsis of the German Army study produced in 2010.

If you want the English translation of the study in its entirety, it can be found here:

The mitigation section of the study was most telling. It simply stated that local sustainable economies would replace the modern era. These economies included local food production and energy production. As this process unfolds, I simply do not see how a high rise is going to remain habitable.

EddieLomax -> JamcaicanMeAfraid Mon, 07/09/2018 - 04:33 Permalink

Zero hedge put a news story a while ago where (I think 2016) the US oil industry lost more in that it earned in the previous 7 years (mining in general), so more investment wouldn't have been coming in the US anyway - the price wasn't high enough to justify it.

Worldwide we are going to see some almightly crunch, whether it will arrive after 2020 will be seen. Ironically it might save Trump anyway if the world is seen to be beset by a oil supply crunch since its hard to blame that on him.

Chief Joesph Sun, 07/08/2018 - 13:02 Permalink

The U.S. needs to get off its dead ass and start developing better batteries, solar power, and other alternative energy sources. This was talked about in 1973, during the Oil Embargo days, and its just astonishing the U.S. has done little since to ween itself off of oil. And now we now have a tariff against Chinese made solar panels. DUH!!! How dumb can you get?

El Vaquero -> Chief Joesph Sun, 07/08/2018 - 13:31 Permalink

Look at the energy density of those power sources. You'll never run an industrial civilization off of them. Electric cars may be great for zipping a couple of people around town from day to day, but you're never going to run the large mining and shipping equipment needed for our society. If you want to do that, you're going to have to develop viable breeder reactors and the technology to manufacture liquid fuels with that energy - and this is doable.

bshirley1968 -> El Vaquero Sun, 07/08/2018 - 14:10 Permalink

Right. There is nothing.....NOTHING....that can replace oil and gas as it is used and utilized by the modern industrial society. Nothing......

What needs to happen right now is a steady rise in prices that will condition our population to start learning to do with less cheap, easy energy. We have got to curb usage to give society a chance to begin to learn another way.

The major obstacle to doing this responsible, rational action? The egregious, criminal banking system that has gotten the world awash in debt to feed their greed. Any cut back in the use of energy will destroy the economy and their gravy train.

[Jul 14, 2018] As the Yield Curve Flattens, Threatens to Invert, the Fed Discards it as Recession Indicator naked capitalism

Jul 14, 2018 |

But the doozie in the minutes was about the flattening "yield curve."

The yield curve is formed by Treasury yields of different maturities: normally, the two-year yield is quite a bit lower than the 10-year yield. Over the last several decades, each time the yield curve "inverted" – when the two-year yield ended up higher than the 10-year yield – a recession followed. The last time, the Financial Crisis followed.

So this has become a popular recession indicator that has cropped up a lot in the discussions of various Fed governors since last year. Today, the two-year yield closed at 2.55% and the 10-year yield at 2.84%. The spread between them was just 29 basis points, the lowest since before the Financial Crisis.

The chart below shows the yield curves on December 14, 2016, when the Fed got serious about raising rates (black line); and today (red line). Note how the red line has "flattened" between the two-year and the 10-year markers, and how the spread has narrowed to just 29 basis points:

[Jul 14, 2018] JPMorgan On The Risk Of Military Conflict With China by Michael Cembalest

Jul 14, 2018 |

Authored by Michael Cembalest, JPMorgan Chairman of Market and Investment Strategy, via, While some suggest a US-China war is inevitable , there's also enormous economic pressure on China and the US to find common ground. Compared to adversaries of the past 100 years, economic linkages between the US and China are much larger.

In a prior post, we illustrated how in-country sales of US subsidiaries operating in China are almost as large as Chinese exports to the US, leaving the US highly vulnerable to retaliation by China if trade wars escalate. These trade tensions are just one part of the broader Chinese-US relationship; some observers expect military conflict between the US and China as well :

* In a 2017 survey by C100, 50% of Chinese citizens, 33% of Chinese business leaders and 35% of Chinese policy experts responded that war with the US was "very likely" or "somewhat likely". The percentages were only slightly lower amongst US respondents to the same question

* Harvard's Thucydides's Trap Project found 16 cases over the last 500 years in which a major nation's rise disrupted the dominant state. Twelve of these rivalries ended in war and four did not. The project is directed by political scientist and Presidential advisor Graham Allison, whose recent book is entitled " Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides's Trap? "

* The Chinese state-owned newspaper Global Times wrote in 2015 that "if the United States' bottom line is that China has to halt its activities, then a US-China war is inevitable in the South China Sea"

Perhaps, but there's also enormous economic pressure on China and the US to find common ground. Compared to adversaries of the past 100 years, economic linkages between the US and China are much larger. The chart below is something I've been working on for the last few months. The idea is to measure the economic linkages between adversaries of the past and present. To do this, we add the outstanding stock of bilateral foreign direct investment, the amount of bilateral annual trade, and the amount of government bonds owned by the other country's Central Bank. Compare China/US today to Europe and Asia in the 1930's, to US/Russia in the 1980's and to India/Pakistan.

besnook Mon, 07/09/2018 - 17:58 Permalink

the zionists will stop at nothing to save the empire. they will fail but it is your life that is at stake, not theirs.

[Jul 13, 2018] Godfather Of Payday Lending Stripped Of $64 Million, Sentenced To 14 Years

Jul 10, 2018 |

"In this industry, to build a big book, you have to run afoul of the regulators" -Charles M. Hallinan

A former Main Line investment banker known as the "Godfather of payday lending" for preying on low-income borrowers was sentenced Friday to 14 years in federal prison and stripped of over $64 million in assets, reports .

Lawyers for 77-year-old Charles M. Hallinan argued that the prison term might as well be a "death sentence" given his age and declining health, however District Judge Eduardo Robreno gave no quarter as he rendered his verdict after a jury convicted him of 17 counts, including racketeering, international money laundering and fraud.

"It would be a miscarriage of justice to impose a sentence that would not reflect the seriousness of this case," Robreno said. "The sentence here should send a message that criminal conduct like [this] will not pay."

In all, government lawyers estimate, Hallinan's dozens of companies made $492 million off an estimated 1.4 million low-income borrowers between 2007 and 2013, the period covered by the indictment.

Robreno's forfeiture order will strip Hallinan of many of the fruits of that business, including his $1.8 million Villanova mansion , multiple bank accounts, and a small fleet of luxury cars , including a $142, 000 2014 Bentley Flying Spur. In addition, the judge ordered Hallinan to pay a separate $2.5 million fine. -

When given the opportunity to address the court before his sentence was handed down, Hallinan remained silent.

Hallinan's case calls into question the legality of business tactics engaged in by predatory lenders across the country - such as Mariner Finance , a subsidiary of former Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner 's private equity firm Warburg Pincus.

Many of the loans Hallinan made had exorbitant interest rates which greatly exceeded rate caps mandated by the states in which the borrowers live, such as Pennsylvania's 6% annual cap.

In court Friday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Dubnoff argued that there was little difference between the exorbitant fees charged by money-lending mobsters and the annual interest rates approaching 800 percent that were standard on many of Hallinan's loans. -

"The only difference between Mr. Hallinan and other loan sharks is that he doesn't break the kneecaps of people who don't pay his debts," Dubnoff said. "He was charging more interest than the Mafia."

Hallinan "collect[ed] hundreds of millions of dollars in unlawful debt knowing that these businesses were unlawful, and all the while devising schemes to evade the law," wrote Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sara L. Grieb and Maria M. Carrillo.

Hallinan's attorneys argued that Hallinan should receive house arrest after a recent diagnosis of two forms of aggressive cancer.

"What is just, under the circumstances?" Jacobs asked. "If there is going to be a period of incarceration, one that makes it so that Mr. Hallinan doesn't survive is not just."

Judge Robreno largely ignored the plea, though he did give Hallinan 11 days to get his medical affairs in order before he has to report to prison.

Hallinan's orbit

Many of those whose careers Hallinan helped to launch are now headed to prison alongside the "godfather" of payday lending, " a list that includes professional race car driver Scott Tucker, who was sentenced to more than 16 years in prison in January and ordered to forfeit $3.5 billion in assets," reports Philly .

Hallinan's codefendant and longtime lawyer, Wheeler K. Neff, was sentenced in May to eight years behind bars.

Hallinan got into the predatory lending business in the 1990s with $120 million after selling his landfill company to begin making payday loans over phone and fax. He rapidly grew his empire of dozens of companies which offered quick cash under such names as Instant Cash USA, Your First Payday and Tele-Ca$h.

As more than a dozen states, including Pennsylvania, effectively outlawed payday lending with laws attempting to cap the exorbitant fee rates that are standard across the industry, Hallinan continued to target low-income borrowers over the internet.

He tried to hide his involvement by instituting sham partnerships with licensed banks and American Indian tribes so he could take advantage of looser restrictions on their abilities to lend. But in practice he limited the involvement of those partners and continued to service all the loans from his offices in Bala Cynwyd. -

" He bet his lifestyle on the fact that we would not catch him. He lost that bet ," said U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, William M. McSwain. " Now, it's time for Hallinan to repay his debt with the only currency we will accept: his freedom and his fortune, amassed at his victims' expense ."

1982xls -> HilteryTrumpkin Tue, 07/10/2018 - 14:59 Permalink

EmmittFitzhume -> 1982xls Tue, 07/10/2018 - 15:03 Permalink

Charles Shylock Hallinan

MasterPo -> EmmittFitzhume Tue, 07/10/2018 - 15:06 Permalink

Just some pond scum floating on top of the swamp.

Most people have no clue what is about to be revealed, and it will rock their world. But for those of us that were red-pilled early on, it is heartening to see.


[Just caught the picture of the mansion.

"There was a crooked man, and he walked a crooked mile,

He found a crooked sixpence against a crooked stile;

He bought a crooked cat which caught a crooked mouse,

And they all lived together in a little crooked house." - Mother Goose

That Mom Goose sure called 'em like she saw 'em...]

Mr. Universe -> Four chan Tue, 07/10/2018 - 15:27 Permalink

64 million in stripped assets. I wonder how much of that is going back to those who were fleeced? How much goes to .gov? Oh and inquiring minds want to know, what happened to the other 400 million plus?

charlewar -> Mr. Universe Tue, 07/10/2018 - 15:31 Permalink

All goes to the govt. The small fish need sue what's left.

A Sentinel -> charlewar Tue, 07/10/2018 - 16:56 Permalink

This is an evil business.

finally someone got tagged for ripping off us plebs.

any_mouse -> A Sentinel Tue, 07/10/2018 - 17:19 Permalink

So you think.

Did any peons receive any restitution?

Maybe a buck each from a class action brought on by Saul's Legal Team.

Parasites. Parasites with Political, Financial, and Social control.

Think of the damage a parasite could do, if that parasite could control what the host sees, hears, thinks, feels, and even control the muscles. You would be in pain, but not feel it. You could be poisoning yourself with bitter poison, while believing it is sweet honey.

COSMOS -> CriticalUser Tue, 07/10/2018 - 18:07 Permalink

In all fairness this dude is pocked change compared to the tribe bankers.

None of the schmucks pulling off trillion dollar heists went to jail.

Giant Meteor -> COSMOS Tue, 07/10/2018 - 18:23 Permalink

Sure, sure, point taken. But I don't believe that is a valid defense .. I get it, believe me. But I suspect if some higher profile cases with equilvalent outcomes aren't soon undertaken, some enterprising folks may soon take matters into their own hands .. And one could not blame them really ..

MoreFreedom -> Mr. Universe Tue, 07/10/2018 - 16:27 Permalink

One thing's for sure. There won't be any payday lenders operating in Pennsylvania, and poor people who need short term loans to deal with unexpected bills won't be getting any help, and instead will be suffering from the very high interest effective interest rates of late payment penalties. In defense of Hallinan, he didn't force anyone to sign up for these loans, he didn't break any kneecaps, and I'll bet his customers default on their loans at a high rate. There is also the legal question of from where the loan is made; given he had partners on Indian reservations and operated over the internet on behalf of those partnerships. Seems to me, the government is just grabbing this dying man's money. I'll bet he appeals the conviction to a higher court.

And does anyone believe US attorney Dubnoff who claims (which begs the question how he knows) that Hallinan charges more interest than the Mafia?

My other bet: Timothy Geithner won't be prosecuted for using the same tactics. And the poor will suffer more. While the article makes hay of Hallinan's wealth, he sold a waste management company (and I wouldn't be surprised there was political corruption involved in its growth given he lived in Philly) for $120 million and was already rich.

For a perspective in support of pay-day lenders, read these two Reason articles:

Full disclosure: The only money I ever borrowed was a few thousand for a student loan, and for my home mortgage.

vato poco -> MoreFreedom Tue, 07/10/2018 - 17:11 Permalink

that's a good post on an issue that's too easy to go all knee-jerk on. +1 for you.

I've got a coupla terrific young relatives that I'm schooling in financial knowhow - because their parents are knuckleheads about money - and lesson #2 was 'payday loans are financial crack.'


but the guy's lawyer WAS right to a degree: nobody made those victims/dumbasses sign up for them, and then not pay it back, thus flinging them into the ol' vicious downward spiral. also, there's this little fact: kids, if you find yourself lacking funds for a sudden unexpected financial expense, call it $500, you can 1) bounce a check 2) take a cash advance on your credit card, assuming you have any room left on it or 3) do the payday lender thing. let's say you only need the $ for 10 days, then ... I dunno .... then your tax refund check arrives.

cost of bouncing check (fees, etc), and bear in mind the bank will clear the big check first, thus making several other small checks bounce = $100? more?

cost of credit-card cash advance = $50, plus or minus

cost of payday loan vig = $15, plus or minus

they're kinda like handguns: just a tool. whether that tool saves your butt or ruins your life is entirely up to you, the adult. (the kids do not like this lesson very much - something about trying to avoid responsibility?)

the world is not necessarily all black and white. that said, I do hope that POS dies of treatable rectal cancer botched horribly by prison docs, resulting in a long, drawn-out, horribly agonizing death in a pink diaper

Giant Meteor -> MoreFreedom Tue, 07/10/2018 - 18:00 Permalink

An interesting take. A friend to the poor . Never quite looked at it that way, and now, I have a tear in my eye . The poor fellow, friend to the poor working stiff.

Fucking friends like that . But at at least he wasn't breaking their knee caps and all. A real humanitarian!

[Jul 13, 2018] Trump, like the innocent child in the tale of the naked emperor, has stated the obvious truth that the elite and the experts have refused steadfastly for years to publicly acknowledge. Way to go Trump. You hit a home run.

Notable quotes:
"... Trump seems to enjoy antagonizing the Europeans one way or the other. As to NATO, Trump made the same complaints during his campaign while calling it "obsolete." Sometimes it sounds like he would rather have the US out of NATO. One theory I have is that he is limited in what he can do so he works around TPTBs to get closer to his goals. So he antagonizes and threatens Europe on NATO. The same goes for Syria. He talked about wanting to pull out but kept being drawn back in by the usual suspects. So he's pulled monetary support in certain cases and refused to dig the US in any deeper than it is. And it will be interesting to see what happens with his upcoming meeting with Putin considering how much he had to backtrack on his talk of better relations during his campaign. Those who've wanted him to join the "hate Russia" team may get frustrated. ..."
"... Within this new "mulit-polar" world, only Russia is cutting its military budge. And they still seem to have at least one of the most effective conventional war-fighting capability, and their next generation nuclear deterrence looks nothing short of awesome. They have pipelines to build, and like China, long-term economic contracts to sign. ..."
"... I'm no fan of Angela, but she/Germany have been trying to tamp down this AZ Empire New Cold War against Russia since at least 2013. When she, Putin, Yanukovych (elected President of Ukraine) and the leaders of the Maidan protests got together and signed an agreement in which Yanukovych acquiesced to essentially all of the "peaceful, pro-democracy protesters'" demands, it was the Asst. Secretary of the US State (Vickie Nuland) who said, "F*ck the EU" "We can midwife this thing" and even appointed the new PM "Yats is the guy." ..."
"... The US can't keep funding your crappy little joke of a disintegrating "European Union" for ever. Sooner or later you'll have to put on big-boy pants. ..."
"... USA govt's assessment of China and Russia as "revisionist" should be understood as a determination to remain the hegemonic power. Thus, we have Cold War II. From that perspective, European objections to more "defense" spending are considered naive (or worse) as Europe's fate is views as tied to that of the Empire. ..."
"... I think European elites are much more likely to side with USA than European people. If the Trump's talk with Putin doesn't go well, we are likely to see increased scaremongering to rectify public opinion. ..."
"... Chaos can make doing business harder, but that can also increase profits. As the posters said in the '60s, "War Is Not Good For Children And Other Living Things." But it's great for the psychopaths. ..."
"... Here is an article that explains the relationship between Russian pipelines, USA sanctions on Russia, MH17, Crimea, and Syria. It is an excellent background to comprehend Trump's accusations about Germany's purchase of gas from Russia. Patrick Armstrong and Pat Lang seem to think that Trump is about to cut NATO support, reduce/eliminate sanctions against Russia, and redirect relations with Israel, but I am not persuaded. by Kees van der Pijl He also wrote a book on this topic. ..."
"... Everything the US does works to undermine its old power in the new world. We see this continually. Trump is an accelerator. But whether any of this is intentional and actually desired by a part of US vested interests, is still an open question. ..."
"... Nevertheless, as we watch, we see every action of the US working to cement the bonds of its opposition in the rest of the world. From the Escobar article linked by karlof1 above, we see the pressure on the Middle East to reject the US and turn for safety to the Eurasian institutions of commerce, finance and national security. The same thing is happening to Europe. ..."
"... he equation as it stands now is this: A muscle-bound USA + an anaemic Europe "deterring" a Russian Federation that has no intention of invading. ..."
"... Since Russia is no threat either way then there is no need - none whatsoever - for the Europeans to increase their military expenditure to "defend themselves" against a non-existent Russian threat. ..."
"... Indeed, the only reason the Europeans would feel that they might have to prepare to "defend themselves" would be because that muscle-bound US military is now outside the tent pissing in, not inside the tent pissing out. ..."
"... Since whenever, America has been the proxy front for the current instantiation of empire with the core of control being ongoing private finance with global tools like BIS, IMF, World Bank, etc. Since WWII and even before the goal of empire is to have all of the world under its control. Since the engine of empire is a supra-national matrix of private finance control, the enemy becomes any nations who do not want to be impregnated with the Western model of private Central Bank, an oligarchy , inheritance, private property, etc. ..."
"... The empire model of growth through wars and boom/bust expansion has reached its "logical" limits and the the existential question has become, blow everything all up or agree to a multipolar world. I think that the elite hope Trump's bluster will make it so they do not have to answer that existential question.....yet ..."
"... If Trump's fake argument gambit was intended to inspire people inside and outside the EU to think outside the box then it seems to have worked. ..."
"... I LUV how Trump stomped on all those preaning European elite scumbags. ..."
"... Agree with Patrick. It is surprising to still see so much animosity towards a president who has done more to combat the absurdity of NATO and globalism than I can remember any other President doing. The ball is in the EU elites court, now. Put up or shut up and I believe it makes no difference to Trump. We are about to find out who is REALLY to blame for marching lockstep with the current of hypercentralization (globalism): the Trump admin or the EU elitez. ..."
"... The US has been manipulating NATO ever since it was formed. Most NATO officials are vetted by the US. Trump is an idiot, like the bulk of US politicians. ..."
"... Trump's "reasoning" makes sense in an infantile sort of way, but there's more too it than meets the eye, is there not? Trump doesn't just want to Europe to "pay their fair share" for NATO, which we all know is code for buying more US mil.gear but also to buy their LNG from US too. It's like NATO is some sort of grotesque, evil franchise where the franchisees can only buy goods/services from that single source, even though it's crap & inordinately expensive, and even if you can get it cheaper elsewhere, i.e Russia. ..."
"... Wow! You don't feel that Trump has, by his mere existence and by winning the presidency, been given a platform of which to decry the myriad injustices of globalization and to utter things unspeakable by any Prez in the last fifty years? ..."
"... Europe has an arms industry of their own. I doubt European countries invest their money into US stuff - they buy their own. Most of the money does not go into weapons anyway, but personel and administration. Germany contributes to the maintenance and infrastructure of US bases, but those bases are business, too. This is not Saudi Arabia buying protection. The real news is that Trump has started a trade war negotiating by tantrum. ..."
Jul 13, 2018 |

kgw , Jul 11, 2018 7:37:47 PM |