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IMF is not the agency to help other countries with the economic development. Under neoliberalism (and that means since 80th) it became the major instrument for redistributing wealth up and enslaving countries with debt that can't be repaid. As a tool for the redistribution it works extremely efficiently both on local level (producing local oligarchs) and on international level -- ensuring prosperity of G7 and USA in particular.
The U.S. economy has benefited immensely from its ability to extract tribute from other nations, including the U.S. financial community's probable engineering of crises in developing nations in order to scoop up devalued assets on the cheap. One of the most important instruments of this extraction, plunder of weaker nations, is IMF.
The standard IMF policy is to approach countries in financial crises with the same rather crude recipies that favour large Wall Street banks. In this case IMF staff acts like like vulture fund managers rather than economists. They try to force a country with a fiscal deficit to reduce government spending, privatage industries and take on additional debt. Reducing government spending reduces aggregate demand, which in turn reduces government income, and make the deficit worse. So the country need to take more loads, inflicting more pain on the population. The reason that the IMF does this, is that it is meant to "restore confidence in the markets". But once a crisis starts, foreign investors tend to bail out anyway, so all it buys the country is a small breathing space before default. Country is better off introducing strict capital controls and accepting the fact that speculative foreign investors are gone. It should not allow them to enter the market in the first place and focus on growth.
The other thing is the immense level of hypocrisy of the US administrations that control IMF, which forced policies on emerging markets, which it would never accept itself.
In fact, the IMF more or less took instructions from the US Treasury during the 1990s, and certainly my sense at the time was that some IMF staffers were very frustrated at the policies that the US government forced them to follow. The point though, is that while the US government was battling the balanced budget amendment at home, on the reasonable grounds that it limited their freedom to manage demand, they were essentially enforcing a balanced budgets on the emerging markets via IMF condition for loans. They are forcing central banks to focus only on inflation. They are forcing emerging markets to open their markets, while protecting US farmers from imports.
The economic restructuring programs imposed on poor countries has benefited U.S. and other foreign investors while creating a small but powerful class of wealthy individuals (fifth column of neoliberalisation) in China, Mexico, South Korea, Ukraine, Russia, etc.
Unsustainable level of debt creates the potentially catastrophic financial situation for those countries that take IMF loads.
Debt that can't be paid back, won't be paid back. That simple idea is the key to debt enslavement of people and nations. One of the key mechanisms is ensuring that loads to state were looted by local oligarchy, turning being eye to money laundering or, as was the case in post 1991 Russia, actively supporting money laundering as the way to decimate former opponent and drive it into vassal status.
There is a strong alliance of Western governments and local oligarchs in this dirty game with IMF serving as an enforcer of debt slavery enabling buying countries assets by transnational for penny on a dollar. Corrupt officials burden taxpayers with unsustainable amounts of debt for unproductive, grossly overpriced projects.The TPP and TTIP are integral initiatives in this effort of extending financial obligations, debt, and control.
This is why these corporatists and statists hate gold and silver, by the way. And why it is at the focal point of a currency war. It provides a counterweight to their monetary power. It speaks unpleasant truths. It is a safe haven and alternative, along with other attempts to supplant the IMF and the World Bank, for the rest of the world. So when you say, the Philippines deserved it, Iceland deserved it, Ireland deserved it, Africa deserves it, Jefferson County deserved it, Detroit deserved it, and now Greece deserves it, just keep in mind that some day soon they will be saying that you deserve it, because you stood by and did nothing.
Because when they are done with all the others, for whom do you think they come next? If you wish to see injustice stopped, if you wish to live up to the pledge of 'never again,' then you must stand for your fellows who are vulnerable. The economic hitmen have honed their skills among the poor and relatively defenseless, and have been coming closer to home in search of new hunting grounds and fatter spoils.
You may also find some information about the contemporary applications of these methods in The IMF's 'Tough Choices' On Greece by Jamie Galbraith.
The whole mechanism of debt enslavement is polished to perfection on developing countries.
Here are some relevant Amazon reviews of the book Confessions of an Economic Hit Man that discusses IMF policies since 1980th.
gordon macgregoron May 2, 2015
IMF forced lending to poor countries of sums far in excess of their needs ...
Absolutely fascinating, pulling back the veil of the inner workings of the IMF as it does. Confirms a lot of things people have long suspected and been shouted down for voicing.
Shows the IMF as an organization bent on capturing the resources of countries around the world via various highly unethical means. e.g forced lending to poor countries of sums far in excess of their needs or means, for inappropriate purposes, leading to big profits for Western firms, the beggaring of the recipient nations, and forced capture of natural resources by large corporations. Surprising that the IMF has not been subject to deep investigation by the UN after this expose.
johnnyjohnnyon April 25, 2015
learn what's going on. read this book. gives a clue to MONSANTO's model of world domination
truly a remarkable book that has been proven with events and facts that have come out since the book was written back in the day.
the model of economic control, back in the good ole days when the International Monetary Fund & U.S. congressionally funded loans to third world countries was the way to pull the strings, and get our largest corporations huge projects that third worlders didn't need and couldn't pay for...but brought the bucks home.
if you ever had a suspicion about recent wars, the billion$ they brought to large contractors, and the reason for those interventions, go back to the early days of this model of international control from someone who was there. and yes, halliburton (aka Kellogg Brown and Root back then) was involved.
James Kenney on April 1, 2015
Should I simply take him at his own word, that he is a liar?
This is a very believable book on a topic of vital importance to the world today: the extent to which "economic development aid" is designed not to benefit the target country, but to ensnare it into the global culture as a debtor nation with assets never designed to be profitable, but merely to serve as an "economic gateway drug".
Somehow, though, while the book is eminently readable, and a bit unnerving, I just couldn't shake off a feeling that I was being "had", by Mr. John Perkins. Look at the number of reviews here! Clearly, this book touched a nerve...but if the author is as unscrupulous as he claims to be (or to have been, since he also claims to have experienced a remarkable conversion, like Paul on the road to Damascus), a fundamental question arises: why should we believe him?
This question is even more essential, since many of us who would even read such a book believe in our hearts that, yes, American capitalism, aided by the IMF, and the World Bank, is seeking to enslave the world. Of course! It's almost a given, an article of faith. No wonder the rest of the world hates us!
I too felt the lure of Perkins' mesmerizing description of an unspoken conspiracy to take over the world by bankrupting it. Certainly, the events of 2008 and 2009 showed the moral bankruptcy of the Big Banks and those who cynically packaged sliced and diced debt into impossible to understand financial instruments, then peddled them to school boards and public pension plans.
Now that I come to review the book, though, I almost feel as if I should wash my hands first. Just picking it up, seeing its jaunty cover, remembering its schmaltzy "spy coming in from the cold" ending, I feel...taken in. I don't know why I feel that way, but the feeling is definitely there. There is something exploitive about this book, as if the author had not changed his skin, only his target: as if now, instead of ensnaring struggling nations, he is ensnaring readers all too willing to believe the worst about ourselves and the economic system in which we too are ensnared.
Even the title sounds phony. Perkins may well be right, he may well be telling it like it is, he may have become a champion bravely taking on a system he helped create, a modern David fighting an economic Goliath. Heavens knows, after stories of regulators sniffing cocaine off a toaster oven with those they are supposed to be regulating, nothing seems unbelievable, and in a sense this book sounds almost inevitable, natural, and important.
It may be. But one of the things I was taught as a historian, is to consider your sources, and the chief question is, how credible are they? When a self-proclaimed liar, swindler and cheat tells me the "system is rigged", should I believe him? Or should I simply take him at his own word, that he is a liar?
I gave this ugly tale 4 stars simply for readability. Fact or fiction, it is certainly that: readable.
DH Koester on March 24, 2015
Well, well, well---another piece to the puzzle as to what constitutes the United States of America!
Besides the curse of blood-stained hands from endless wars of aggression there is another sinister side to this country's quest for empire and world domination--the enslavement of countries and peoples through cleverly devised debt imposition--the same method our government uses on its own people. This debt imposition on foreign countries serves to enrich foreign rulers and US corporations while impoverishing the common people.
Perkins was one of the people--a cog in the wheel --that made it all possible and when his conscience finally got the better of him he wrote a book about it.
Students will not read about these economic hit men ion any American textbook. Nor will they, as adults, read about it in any periodical or hear about it on any newscast. Politicians will not tell them about it nor will their religious leaders. Yet there is this book by John Perkins describing the process in detail. But those in power--those responsible for this immoral conduct--will allow it to be published and made available to the public without fear of reprisal or consequences--just as they have the countless other books that have spoken truth to power detailing corruption, war-making and deceit by those in the highest offices.
Why?? Because the average citizen in this country doesn't care one iota about anything that he perceives as not directly affecting the welfare of himself or his family. That plus the fact that very few people will ever hear of or read this book. People don't read any more--they are plugged into their machines of instant gratification and get the bulk of what they think is news from inane sources such as the Letterman show. Even if some do read it, they will soon forget and move on--continuing with their mundane lives completely oblivious to the world that is suffering and burning outside their doors.
And me?? I know the truth--but even those who know the truth, they are powerless. There is nothing that can be done to stop the insanity. It is like death---Death eventually smiles at us all and the best a man can do is smile back.
I give this book 5 Stars not because it was particularly well written but because it informs in a world desperately in need of being informed. Read it if you will but with the understanding and full knowledge that the truth shall not set you free.
"And There I Was" by DH Koester
David Lupo "David Lupo" on February 21, 2015
Do you wonder why the world hates us? Read this book.
When I was in college, I took another course after Sociology 101, called Social Issues. It was a great course, eye-opening, but sad, because I learned about how skewed the world really is today. There were discussions on the Ford Pinto death-trap story, and stories about how grocery stores sell third-rate products at high prices, to keep the poor poor. There were other stories about how the corporation wields great power over the average citizen. I went to college in the 80s, long after we were told lies about the Great Oil Shortage in the 70s, when oil companies made a killing.
The book by John Perkins gives the historical background of how our government, working with the corporation has done some nasty things in recent decades to places around the globe. Economic Hit Men, and those in league with them have played national leaders against their people for the great financial gain that the US reaps. The corporation not only wields great power over the US citizen; it seeks this same control in the world. John Perkins highlights how this has played out in his corporate life, to the people that he knew.
I also notice that despite the harm he caused as an EHM, he escapes any sort of punishment, since he is spilling the beans on how the game is played, and has been played across the globe. That was a drawback. But today he is trying to do better things for the good of humanity, and that has to count for something.
White Rabbiton January 7, 2015
soft-minded lola granola platitudes
This book can be summarized in one sentence: America "forces" loans on third world countries based on inflated projections of resulting economic growth, that we know the recipient country will never be able to repay.
we then leverage their debt to strong-arm collateral benefits such as construction and service contracts (for the industry they got loans to build) or use their land for military bases, thereby increasing and securing our growing empire.
Perkins says this on every page of his 220 page book.
there is NO analysis or explanation of why development is automatically bad, and preserving rain forests and shaman lifestyles is automatically good, and even if it is good, why it is our problem, as a sovereign nation, to devote our resources to preserving other peoples' lifestyles. i am not asserting that industrial development is automatically "good," but there is simply no thoughtful analysis of the issues at all. Nor is there any nuts-and-bolts explanations of how he structured the economic deals that are supposedly so wicked.
There is just a lot of soft-minded liberal clap-trap about "using less oil; reading a book instead of going shopping; "dreaming" the world into existence; and -- you guessed it -- "shapeshifting." While I doubt any reader of a non-fiction book without pictures with "economic" in the title thinks that industrial development is an unmitigated boon, there have always been significant discrepancies in wealth throughout history, in every culture, country, and time, and there has always been tension (& disruption) in "progress" in any form.
Perhaps there are reasons for this besides the greed and evil of white european males, especially since the "haves" have not always been white or European (and sometimes not even male). Even (or especially) in underdeveloped countries, there are LOTS of people who would prefer medicine and basic sanitation to relying on shamanistic rain dances when their children are sick.
There are compelling and undeniable reasons why manual workers get paid less than highly specialized ones, and simply reiterating Marx's Communist Manifesto is not convincing to any thinking person, or to anyone who clawed their way out of those countries that tried to implement his pipe dream. Reminds me of the rebels' kvetching in Monty Python's Life of Brian: "Well, except for the roads, and the aqueducts, and education, and bread, and medicine, and peace, and security, what else have the Romans done for us?"
A. Kumaron January 1, 2015
Read it to get a general idea of aid programs but discard personal anecdotes as fiction
The book is clearly a combination of fact and fiction. The facts are based on the well known criticisms of the IMF and World Bank and how they have destroyed various countries. The fiction part is where the author speaks of personal experiences.
Two points give away the fact that the book is semi-fiction. The first is that the author has only used criticisms that were already made on the internet at the time of publication of the book. The second is that the author subconsciously projects his political biases based on his country's Republican vs. Democrat politics and selectively attacks Republicans while letting off the Democrats. Thus, Nixon, Reagan and the Bushes are villains while Jimmy Carter is a hero and American interference in foreign economies during the Clinton era is completely missing from the book. This despite the fact that the era of globalization and the creation of WTO and foisting the American agenda through WTO happened during the Clinton regime and Jimmy Carter started the Iran-Iraq war. Clinton was also responsible for the war on Yugoslavia which lasted all through the 1990s.
The author's list of heroes is also selective and are Communists from Latin America. He is also selective in his list of villains. Bechtel and Halliburton come in for criticism just like on the internet. And just like on the internet, there is no criticism of defense contractors whose executives support the Democratic Party. So you won't see much criticism of Raytheon or Northrop Grumman.
Most of the criticism of the aid programs was well known especially in Latin America and India. In 2000, the combination of the Seattle protests against WTO and the fact that the internet was new made the information become popular. The author seems to have picked up on that data and written a book. There is also a touch of self-delusion that it is the White man's burden to save the world. Whether it is Indonesia or Panama, there is always a character in the book who appeals to the White hero and says he will show him a side of the country that only the locals have access to and that the Whites must somehow fix it. In no country do the locals lack self-respect that they will actually indulge in such behavior.
That said, writing a first person account is an innovative idea and the author is not wrong in highlighting the true nature of aid programs. The book is successful in conveying the general idea that aid programs exist to help the American corporations. The public needs to know this sort of information and the author has done a good job at it.
Margaret M. Pratton December 14, 2014
It's amazing he's still alive to tell his tale
It's amazing he's still alive to tell his tale! John Perkins is quite frank about how he became an 'economic hit man', producing inflated optimistic economic data to persuade leaders in foreign countries to invest in building up their infrastructure (think dams, etc.) through loans they will never be able to pay back, how US industries profit through this, and his own complicity for quite a few years.
And then his slow change of heart when he began to face the actual effect of his contribution to the downward spiral of these countries. It's a real eye-opener. And yes, it does matter who's President.
Malcolm McIntyre, on October 16, 2014
Groundbreaking, although naive on the role of conspiracy
BOOK REVIEW: Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, by John Perkins
“Economic hit men are highly paid professionals who cheat countries around the globe out of trillions of dollars [through the perversion of foreign aid funds … using] fraudulent financial reports, rigged elections, payoffs, extortion, sex, and murder. They play a game as old as empire, but one that has taken on new and terrifying dimensions during this time of globalisation.”
This book is a decade old and the activities that Perkins exposes have become widely known since 2004, for which his work shares much of the credit. It remains a valuable primer for anyone seeking to understand current international events; and will reward greatly even those already aware of the casual criminality of the U.S.’s political, financial and business elites.
Perkins’ career as an economic hit man (EHM) began in 1971 and ended in 1980, after his conscience prevailed. It was sandwiched between a Peace Corps stint in the jungles of South America and a post-EHM career which included establishing a successful alternative energy company. He wrote the passage at the head of this review in 1982, but was persuaded not to go ahead with the book at that time. Four more delays were occasioned by threats or bribes.
So, how does an Economic Hit Man operate? “We are an elite group of men and women who utilize international financial organisations to foment conditions that make other nations subservient to the corporatocracy running our biggest corporations, our government, and our banks. Like our counterparts in the Mafia, EHMs provide favors. These take the form of loans to develop infrastructure – electric generating plants, highways, ports, airports, or industrial parks.
“A condition of such loans is that engineering and construction companies from our own country must build all these projects. In essence, most of the money never leaves the United States; it is simply transferred from banking offices in Washington to engineering offices in New York, Houston, or San Francisco.
“Despite the fact that the money is returned almost immediately to corporations that are members of the corporatocracy (the creditor), the recipient country is required to pay it all back, principal plus interest. If an EHM is completely successful, the loans are so large that the debtor is forced to default on its payments after a few years. When this happens, then like the Mafia we demand our pound of flesh.
“This often includes one or more of the following: control over United Nations votes, the installation of military bases, or access to precious resources such as oil or the Panama Canal. Of course, the debtor still owes us the money – and another country is added to our global empire.”
Perkins is not anti-American, but rather one of the diminishing remnant of Americans who believe the U.S. Constitution still means something. “The longer version [of why he finally wrote the book] relates to my dedication to the country where I was raised, to my love of the ideals expressed by our Founding Fathers, to my deep commitment to the American republic that today promises ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness’ for all people, everywhere, and to my determination after 9/11 not to sit idly by any longer while EHMs turn that republic into a global empire.”
Having finally got around to reading Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, I will certainly be following up with his 2008 The Secret History of the American Empire: The Truth About Economic Hit Men, Jackals, and How to Change the World and 2011’s Hoodwinked: An Economic Hit Man reveals why the global economy imploded – and how to fix it. One area of interest will be whether his understanding of conspiracy – or, more accurately in terms of Confessions, lack of conspiracy – has changed.
“Some would blame our current problems on an organised conspiracy. I wish it were so simple. Members of a conspiracy can be rooted out and brought to justice,” he says in the preface. “This system, however, is fuelled by something far more dangerous than conspiracy. It is driven not by a small band of men but by a concept that has become accepted as gospel: the idea that all economic growth benefits humankind and that the greater the growth, the more widespread the benefits.”
This idea of the concept of benefit for humankind driving the agenda is a somewhat naïve construction. The reality is that there is a relatively small band of psychopathic men (more women in the gang these days and they are no prettier) driving the agenda. The “benefit for mankind” schtick is merely one of the concepts used in their propaganda.
“The corporatocracy is not a conspiracy, but its members do endorse common values and goals,” Perkins says, adding shortly after: “People like me are paid outrageously high salaries to do the system’s bidding. If we falter, a more malicious form of hit man, the jackal, steps to the plate. And if the jackal fails, then the job falls to the military.”
The United States has 40,000 troops in Germany and 50,000 in Japan – they are still occupied countries, more than half a century after World War 2. The U.S. has more than 600 overseas bases. Wikipedia can usually be relied upon in simple matters such as this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_military_deployments although not in more sensitive matters which attract hasbara and intelligence operatives to the editing function. Also worth a read are http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-worldwide-network-of-us-military-bases/5564 and http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2011/sep/14/ron-paul/ron-paul-says-us-has-military-personnel-130-nation/
Other than the EHM books mentioned so far, Perkins has written several about spiritual/indigenous matters, based on his experiences before and after his Hit Man service. They are listed at his web site http://www.johnperkins.org/books/
I found out more than I really wanted to know.
CWOK: Ex-Navy, on October 15, 2014
Dubious " Confessions "...
I just finished reading, " Confessions of an Economic Hit Man ", by John Perkins, in which the author recounts his alleged career as an ` Economic Hit Man ` (He uses the abbreviation ` EHM `) for a major corporation, exploiting the resources and people of under-developed countries for the financial gain of his company, with the support, or at least acquiescence, of the US Government, from the early 1970's until after the SEP 11 2001, when he finally wrote a book which includes descriptions about alleged ' black 'operations that occurred all over the world, including: Iran, Iraq, Indonesia, Panama, Ecuador, Saudi Arabia, & Colombia.
To be clear, I am NOT making a judgment as to the ultimate truth regarding all of the historical events referenced in Perkins's book, or all the allegations surrounding them.
However, I myself have experience in Investigative and Intelligence Work, and so my focus is Perkins's representation that he has First-Hand Knowledge of these historical events himself, and how this representation affects his own credibility:
* Perkins asserts that the Central Intelligence Agency was responsible for the deaths of at least two Latin-American leaders, " ...in a series of CIA Assassinations... (p. 161), during the Reagan-Bush Administrations of the 1980's.
Yet his source for this claim is John Dean's 1973 Watergate testimony, despite the fact that this testimony occurred BEFORE either Reagan or Bush took office (George H.W. Bush did serve under then President Nixon, but did not become head of the CIA until after Nixon left office, and Perkins presents ZERO evidence that Bush himself was ever involved in any such plot.)
Moreover, Perkins does not state anywhere in " Confessions " that he ever had any direct contact with the CIA at any time at all, & so what First-Hand Knowledge of the CIA's activities could Perkins possibly have?
* Perkins repeatedly-and frustratingly-makes vague, unattributed, & unverifiable statements such as:
" ...The EHM presence was very strong in Baghdad during the 1980's... "
* Yet despite both the gravity, and the number, of Perkins's claims, he still provides ZERO documentation of his own to corroborate any of them (merely a copy of his professional resume from the 1970's).
Of the MANY books and accounts that I have read involving the topic of international intrigue, this is the ONLY one with such a glaring omission.
Perkins instead lists his sources as previously written books and articles from news magazines, which he appears to have had no personal involvement with himself.
* Perhaps most telling of all, Perkins states how early on in his career as an EHM, he felt guilty about the ` Corrupt ` system that he was a part of.
Yet despite this supposed guilt, he STAYED in that ` Corrupt ` system, AND accepted all the benefits that came with it; Money, Women, Perks, Etc., AND stayed silent about it, for 30 years!
Perkins states his reasons/justifications/rationalizations/excuses as to why he STAYED in that ` Corrupt ` system, AND accepted all the benefits that came with it; Money, Women, Perks, Etc., AND stayed silent about it, for 30 years.
But, regardless, he nevertheless STAYED in that ` Corrupt ` system, AND accepted all the benefits that came with it; Money, Women, Perks, Etc., AND stayed silent about it, for 30 years!
This becomes all the more troubling because, according to Perkins's own statistics, 24,000 people die each day due to hunger (P. 192)!
IF this is true, then Perkins himself took all that blood-money, for all those years, while knowingly and silently acquiescing to the deaths of BILLIONS of people!!!
Therefore, based on my own professional experience in Investigative and Intelligence Work, it is my opinion that Perkins has NOT established that he is credible.
Until he does so, I regard Perkins's book not as a true autobiography, but rather an historical novel, in which Perkins uses some actual events as the bare bones, on which he adds a LOT of fiction.
Amazon Customer, on September 11, 2014
Americorp and the dictatorship kept us illiterate and very poor. We also lost many young lives fighting this ...
I am from Nicaragua and breathed and lived the consequences of the acts of these Economic Hit Men. We had a dictatorship put in place by the US, Inc.on my country for more than 40 years.
'Americorp" had the full access to our resources, one of them gold, we never saw the benefits of this gold. Americorp and the dictatorship kept us illiterate and very poor. We also lost many young lives fighting this dictatorship because it refused to give us the choice of electing who we wanted to lead us. It was until 1979 when the USA finally gave up supporting the dictatorship, not because of our lost of lives but because the dictator became an embarrassment to US, Inc. just like Noriega, Saddam, etc.
Very true though is the fact that the opposition was mostly supported by the USSR and Cuba.
Also very true is that the Sandinistas did not believe in property rights and believe everything belongs to the State. we went from Satan's arms to the Devil's bed.
Sucks being a poor underdeveloped nation with vultures waiting to pounce around you and tear out your eyes. Love the American People, hate its foreign policy which they are mostly kept blinded by propaganda.
Prissyon July 7, 2014
The Ugly Truth of Corporate America and Government's incestuous plan for Globalization
I've meant to read this book for years...the irony is I downloaded on Kindle while in Latin America and read it all the way through. I always suspected (from my own experience spending time on the Hill, knowing journalists, bankers, etc) this stuff went on. But Perkins fills in all the missing pieces.
I'm literally sick that I have a degree in American criminal justice and this book goes against everything I was taught of how "this country" operates. It may have come as a shock to have the dirty details to me, but my Latin American friends have known these empire building ways all along, because they've lived with it all of their lives.
I hope one thing people take away from this book are Perkins suggestions to begin at the grass roots level (school boards, county commissioners, etc) to change the way we do business and speak out when you know the truth. This is the raw, ugly truth, dear readers. I'm still attempting to digest what I know in my heart of hearts is that I have been fighting corruption of those who sugar coat it and when its pointed out, will do everything they can to disparage your credibility, no matter how impeccable it is or how well you present it. Hiring a private company to get around government checks and balances (not that there are that many) only makes sense from a globalists point of view.
Don't sit there-DO something, anything...I know- I sat out of the fray for a long time, it IS easier. But that's the coward's way out and the founding father's were anything but that. Remember, we are supposed to be the home of the brave. Are you right or left? I'd rather be active, accurate and correct...
Greece story is another classic of neoliberal debt enslavement: first corrupt neoliberal government (in case of Greece successive governments) got loans that were partially stolen, partially wasted, enriching top 1% of the country and improving living conditions of the top 20%. Then those loans from private banks were converted into public debt by attempt to save insolvent banks. And when the next wave of crisis occurred due to Greece inability to service those (now state) loans without drastic reduction of standard of living of most of the population IMF acts as enforcer. It now essentially dictates what should be done in Greece economy. No matter if previous recommendation led to disastrous consequences.
European neoliberal elite headed by Merkel is threatening to expel Greece from the Euro zone, scaring voters. It is very important to understand that anti-crisis policies have two main approaches – cyclical and counter-cyclical. The neo-liberals response is always "only wellbeing of banks matters"
Neoliberals key postulate is that the "invisible hand" of the market works better than government regulation, then the government should allow the market to work independently. The only think government should do is to balance the budget by slashing spending synchronously with falling revenues. Which led in cas of Greece to 60% unemployment among young people.
In other word "the invisible hand" does not work and instead country is sliding in real debt slavery when load became permagreen and interest will be paid forever. Forecasts of neoliberal institutions such as IMF that austerity will allow Greece to pay debts, were not justified.
Countercyclical stabilization policy is based on the opposite basis: with the reduction of budget revenues not need to cut spending in order to reduce the current deficit, but rather to increase them, thereby increasing the tax base, and along with receiving political support from the population. This should be done considering all the risks carefully assessing the consequences. The trouble is that in specific Greek terms it also doesn't work very well.
Even of part of the debt was written off by the creditors, if you can't grow the real economy, the budget crisis will be renewed. But the Greek industry was killed by accession to the EU. It was decided by EU brass that the specialization of southern Europe within Europe United should be the services sector. If this was somehow forgotten that in services industries (primarily tourism) tax collection is much lower than in industry and agriculture. Demands of the "Troika" to increase taxes on the tourism industry will lead to the withdrawal of this sector into the shadows, or to the ruin of a vast number of small and medium enterprises. If you go with the demands of Brussels and reduce subsidies to agriculture (and this was one of the main requirements of the latest Memorandum of the Troika) the destruction of the economy will be complete.
And while the entire Greek economy is suffering from a terrible level of unemployment, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that the borders are open, so Greeks can compete for low paid jobs in Germany. In other words, Greece has to spend money on the education of engineers, scientists and other high-demand in the EU professionals, but to find word they need have to go to Germany and most end working as janitors and other low paid jobs. Greece which spend a lot of public money to train those professionals will be left our, and all the benefits from this get more developed countries. This is actually explicit policy of the EU, which consider Southern countries to be EU "village".
Increase of exports in the current circumstances is a very difficult undertaking. It is impossible to increase export to Russia where there is some space for Greek products, as the EU has declared sanctions. That means that he crisis is expanding, and within the framework imposed on Greece anti-crisis policy there is no light at the end of the tunnel.
Cuts in public expenditure will inevitably lead to a reduction in domestic demand for the products of national industry and national agriculture. Besides falling living standards, the reduction of pensions and salaries in the public sector will be a big hit for the most vulnerable part of the population: two-thirds of Greek pensioners are already living below the poverty line.
Five months of fruitless negotiations, a new government understood that Greek people will not forgive the capitulation to EU demands. Another "cannibalistic" austerity program. So it announced the referendum on the adoption of the requirements of the Troika, shifting the responsibility for making decisions to ordinary Greeks. Still not very clear whether the Cabinet is really to declare a default, or this is only a means of pressure on the Troika. In the end, in politics the most important things is to remain in power and if Greeks vote Yes to EU demands that the end of the current government. What will happen to the country next is unclear. Probably the parties that brought the country to the current collapse (PASOK and New democracy) will return to power helped by Brussels neoliberals, who can throw a bone to them in a form of some minor compromises, compromise to which they would never agree with the current government, which is considered to be "hostile" by neoliberal stooges which now want the regime change in Greece.
But the mere decision to go the referendum caused in shakeup and hysteria in all centers of neoliberal power such as Brussels, Berlin and Washington. However, we cannot exclude that such a reaction is a mean to increase the pressure on Tsipras.As Neil Irwin's in his at The Upshot column (NYT, June 28, 2015) noted
Greek leaders think the offer on the table from European governments and the International Monetary Fund is lousy, requiring still more pension cuts and tax increases in a depressed economy, and intend to throw to voters the question of whether to accept it.
spartacus, July 1, 2015 at 1:26 pm
I think things are a little more complicated than that. According to the preliminary report of the commission set up by the Greek government to look into the origins of this debt, it appears that a big chunk of it is a consequence of the government stepping in to recapitalize troubled banks. Then the report also mentions excessive and unjustified military spending, loss of tax revenues due to illicit capital outflows. The report can be accessed via this link:
The problem is that after so much austerity the debt now stands at 177% of GDP, higher than ever, because GDP took a little bit of a nosedive. The Troika recipe for success was crap.
The “lazy Greek” line is just that. A line peddled by the MSM in order to demonize the Greek people, as opposed to the “hard working” Germans. If you look at the OECD statistic provided by the following link, you will see that, in reality, the exact opposite is true.
This is not about lavish lifestyle. Is about starvation, homelessness and suicide.
July 1, 2015 at 2:28 pm
Greece was screwed over by foremost the Germans. The whole German shtick of pretending to have “fed Greece” is grotesque obscenity.
Greek government-debt crisis - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Charges of hypocrisy
Hypocrisy has been alleged on multiple bases. "Germany is coming across like a know-it-all in the debate over aid for Greece", commented Der Spiegel, while its own government did not achieve a budget surplus during the era of 1970 to 2011, although a budget surplus indeed was achieved by Germany in all three subsequent years (2012–2014). A Bloomberg editorial, which also concluded that "Europe's taxpayers have provided as much financial support to Germany as they have to Greece", described the German role and posture in the Greek crisis thus:
In the millions of words written about Europe's debt crisis, Germany is typically cast as the responsible adult and Greece as the profligate child. Prudent Germany, the narrative goes, is loath to bail out freeloading Greece, which borrowed more than it could afford and now must suffer the consequences. [… But] irresponsible borrowers can't exist without irresponsible lenders. Germany's banks were Greece's enablers.
German economic historian Albrecht Ritschl describes his country as "king when it comes to debt. Calculated based on the amount of losses compared to economic performance, Germany was the biggest debt transgressor of the 20th century." Despite calling for the Greeks to adhere to fiscal responsibility, and although Germany's tax revenues are at a record high, with the interest it has to pay on new debt at close to zero, Germany still missed its own cost-cutting targets in 2011, and also fell behind on its goals for 2012.
There have been widespread accusations that Greeks are lazy, but analysis of OECD data shows that the average Greek worker puts in 50% more hours per year than a typical German counterpart, and the average retirement age of a Greek is, at 61.7 years, older than that of a German.
US economist Mark Weisbrot has also noted that while the eurozone giant's post-crisis recovery has been touted as an example of an economy of a country that "made the short-term sacrifices necessary for long-term success", Germany did not apply to its economy the harsh pro-cyclical austerity measures that are being imposed on countries like Greece, In addition, he noted that Germany did not lay off hundreds of thousands of its workers despite a decline in output in its economy but reduced the number of working hours to keep them employed, at the same time as Greece and other countries were pressured to adopt measures to make it easier for employers to lay off workers. Weisbrot concludes that the German recovery provides no evidence that the problems created by the use of a single currency in the eurozone can be solved by imposing "self-destructive" pro-cyclical policies as has been done in Greece and elsewhere.
Arms sales are another fountainhead for allegations of hypocrisy. Dimitris Papadimoulis, a Greek MP with the Coalition of the Radical Left party:
If there is one country that has benefited from the huge amounts Greece spends on defence it is Germany. Just under 15% of Germany's total arms exports are made to Greece, its biggest market in Europe. Greece has paid over €2bn for submarines that proved to be faulty and which it doesn't even need. It owes another €1bn as part of the deal. That's three times the amount Athens was asked to make in additional pension cuts to secure its latest EU aid package. […] Well after the economic crisis had begun, Germany and France were trying to seal lucrative weapons deals even as they were pushing us to make deep cuts in areas like health. […] There's a level of hypocrisy here that is hard to miss. Corruption in Greece is frequently singled out as a cause for waste but at the same time companies like Ferrostaal and Siemens are pioneers in the practice. A big part of our defence spending is bound up with bribes, black money that funds the [mainstream] political class in a nation where governments have got away with it by long playing on peoples' fears.
Thus allegations of hypocrisy could be made towards both sides: Germany complains of Greek corruption, yet the arms sales meant that the trade with Greece became synonymous with high-level bribery and corruption; former defence minister Akis Tsochadzopoulos was gaoled in April 2012 ahead of his trial on charges of accepting an €8m bribe from Germany company Ferrostaal. In 2000, the current German finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, was forced to resign after personally accepting a "donation" (100,000 Deutsche Mark, in cash) from a fugitive weapons dealer, Karlheinz Schreiber.
Another is German complaints about tax evasion by moneyed Greeks. "Germans stashing cash in Switzerland to avoid tax could sleep easy" after summer 2011, when "the German government […] initialled a beggar-thy-neighbour deal that undermine[d] years of diplomatic work to penetrate Switzerland's globally corrosive banking secrecy." Nevertheless, Germans with Swiss bank accounts were so worried, so intent on avoiding paying tax, that some took to cross-dressing, wearing incontinence diapers, and other ruses to try and smuggle their money over the Swiss–German border and so avoid paying their dues to the German taxman. Aside from these unusual tax-evasion techniques, Germany has a history of massive tax evasion: a 1993 ZEW estimate of levels of income-tax avoidance in West Germany in the early 1980s was forced to conclude that "tax loss [in the FDR] exceeds estimates for other countries by orders of magnitude." (The study even excluded the wealthiest 2% of the population, where tax evasion is at its worst). A 2011 study noted that, since the 1990s, the "effective average tax rates for the German super rich have fallen by about a third, with major reductions occurring in the wake of the personal income tax reform of 2001–2005."
Alleged pursuit of national self-interestListen to many European leaders—especially, but by no means only, the Germans—and you'd think that their continent's troubles are a simple morality tale of debt and punishment: Governments borrowed too much, now they're paying the price, and fiscal austerity is the only answer.
"An Impeccable Disaster"
Paul Krugman, 5 November 2013
Since the euro came into circulation in 2002—a time when the country was suffering slow growth and high unemployment—Germany's export performance, coupled with sustained pressure for moderate wage increases (German wages increased more slowly than those of any other eurozone nation) and rapidly rising wage increases elsewhere, provided its exporters with a competitive advantage that resulted in German domination of trade and capital flows within the currency bloc. As noted by Paul De Grauwe in his leading text on monetary union, however, one must "hav[e] homogenous preferences about inflation in order to have a smoothly functioning monetary union." Thus Germany broke what the Levy Economics Institute has called "the golden rule of a monetary union" when it jettisoned a common inflation rate.
The violation of this golden rule led to dire imbalances within the eurozone, though they suited Germany well: the country's total export trade value nearly tripled between 2000 and 2007, and though a significant proportion of this is accounted for by trade with China, Germany's trade surplus with the rest of the EU grew from €46.4 bn to €126.5 bn during those seven years. Germany's bilateral trade surpluses with the peripheral countries are especially revealing: between 2000 and 2007, Greece's annual trade deficit with Germany nearly doubled, from €3 bn to €5.5 bn; Italy's more than doubled, from €9.6 bn to €19.6 bn; Spain's well over doubled, from €11 bn to €27.2 bn; and Portugal's more than quadrupled, from €1 bn to €4.2 bn. German banks played an important role in supplying the credit that drove wage increases in peripheral eurozone countries like Greece, which in turn produced this divergence in competitiveness and trade surpluses between Germany and these same eurozone members.
Germans see their government finances and trade competitiveness as an example to be followed by Greece, Portugal and other troubled countries in Europe, but the problem is more than simply a question of southern European countries emulating Germany. Dealing with debt via domestic austerity and a move toward trade surpluses is very difficult without the option of devaluing your currency, and Greece cannot devalue because it is chained to the euro. Roberto Perotti of Bocconi University has also shown that on the rare occasions when austerity and expansion coincide, the coincidence is almost always attributable to rising exports associated with currency depreciation. As can be seen from the case of China and the US, however, where China has had the yuan pegged to the dollar, it is possible to have an effective devaluation in situations where formal devaluation cannot occur, and that is by having the inflation rates of two countries diverge. If inflation in Germany is higher than in Greece and other struggling countries, then the real effective exchange rate will move in the strugglers' favour despite the shared currency. Trade between the two can then rebalance, aiding recovery, as Greek products become cheaper. Paul Krugman estimated that Spain and other peripherals would need to reduce their 2012 price-levels relative to Germany by around 20 percent to become competitive again:
If Germany had 4 percent inflation, they could do that over 5 years with stable prices in the periphery—which would imply an overall eurozone inflation rate of something like 3 percent. But if Germany is going to have only 1 percent inflation, we're talking about massive deflation in the periphery, which is both hard (probably impossible) as a macroeconomic proposition, and would greatly magnify the debt burden. This is a recipe for failure, and collapse.
This view, that German deficits are a crucial factor in assisting eurozone recovery, is shared by leading economics commentators, by the OECD, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse, Standard & Poor's, the European Commission, and the IMF. The Americans, too, asked Germany, repeatedly and heatedly, to loosen fiscal policy, though without success. This failure led to the US taking a more high-powered tack: for the first time, the Treasury Department, in its semi-annual currency report for October 2013, singled out Germany as the leading obstacle to economic recovery in Europe.
Therefore, it is argued, the problem is Germany continuing to shut off this adjustment mechanism. "The counterpart to Germany living within its means is that others are living beyond their means", agreed Philip Whyte, senior research fellow at the Centre for European Reform. "So if Germany is worried about the fact that other countries are sinking further into debt, it should be worried about the size of its trade surpluses, but it isn't."
This chorus of criticism, however, germinates in the very poorest of soil because, in October 2012, Germany chose to legislate against the very possibility of stimulus spending, "by passing a balanced budget law that requires the government to run near-zero structural deficits indefinitely." OECD projections of relative export prices—a measure of competitiveness—showed Germany beating all euro zone members except for crisis-hit Spain and Ireland for 2012, with the lead only widening in subsequent years.
Even with such policies, Greece and other countries would have faced years of hard times, but at least there would be some hope of recovery. During 2012, it seemed as though the status quo was beginning to change as France began to challenge German policy, and even Christine Lagarde called for Greece to at least be given more time to meet bailout targets. Further criticism mounted in 2013: a leaked version of a text from French president Francois Hollande's Socialist Party openly attacked "German austerity" and the "egoistic intransigence of Mrs Merkel"; Manuel Barroso warned that austerity had "reached its limits"; EU employment chief Laszlo Andor called for a radical change in EU crisis strategy—"If there is no growth, I don't see how countries can cut their debt levels"—and criticised what he described as the German practice of "wage dumping" within the eurozone to gain larger export surpluses; and Heiner Flassbeck (a former German vice finance minister) and economist Costas Lapavitsas charged that the euro had "allowed Germany to 'beggar its neighbours', while also providing the mechanisms and the ideology for imposing austerity on the continent".
Battered by criticism, the European Commission finally decided that "something more" was needed in addition to austerity policies for peripheral countries like Greece. "Something more" was announced to be structural reforms—things like making it easier for companies to sack workers—but such reforms have been there from the very beginning, leading Dani Rodrik to dismiss the EC's idea as "merely old wine in a new bottle." Indeed, Rodrik noted that with demand gutted by austerity, all structural reforms have achieved, and would continue to achieve, is pumping up unemployment (further reducing demand), since fired workers are not going to be re-employed elsewhere. Rodrik suggested the ECB might like to try out a higher inflation target, and that Germany might like to allow increased demand, higher inflation, and to accept its banks taking losses on their reckless lending to Greece. That, however, "assumes that Germans can embrace a different narrative about the nature of the crisis. And that means that German leaders must portray the crisis not as a morality play pitting lazy, profligate southerners against hard-working, frugal northerners, but as a crisis of interdependence in an economic (and nascent political) union. Germans must play as big a role in resolving the crisis as they did in instigating it." Paul Krugman described talk of structural reform as "an excuse for not facing up to the reality of macroeconomic disaster, and a way to avoid discussing the responsibility of Germany and the ECB, in particular, to help end this disaster." Furthermore, as Financial Times analyst Wolfgang Munchau observed, "Austerity and reform are the opposite of each other. If you are serious about structural reform, it will cost you upfront money." Claims that Germany had, by mid-2012, given Greece the equivalent of 29 times the aid given to West Germany under the Marshall Plan after World War II completely ignores the fact that aid was just a small part of Marshall Plan assistance to Germany, with another crucial part of the assistance being the writing off of a majority of Germany's debt.
Artificially low exchange rate
Though Germany claims its public finances are "the envy of the world", the country is merely continuing what has been called its "free-riding" of the euro crisis, which "consists in using the euro as a mechanism for maintaining a weak exchange rate while shifting the costs of doing so to its neighbors." With eurozone adjustment locked out by Germany, economic hardship elsewhere in the currency block actually suited its export-oriented economy for an extended period, because it caused the euro to depreciate, making German exports cheaper and so more competitive. The weakness of the euro, caused by the economy misery of peripheral countries, has been providing Germany with a large and artificial export advantage to the extent that, if Germany left the euro, the concomitant surge in the value of the reintroduced Deutsche Mark, which would produce "disastrous" effects on German exports as they suddenly became dramatically more expensive, would play the lead role in imposing a cost on Germany of perhaps 20–25% GDP during the first year alone after its euro exit. November 2013 saw the European Commission open an in-depth inquiry into German's surplus, which hit a new record in spring 2015. As the German current accounts surplus looked set to smash all previous records again in Spring 2015, one commentator noted that Germany was "now the biggest single violator of the eurozone stability rules. It would face punitive sanctions if EU treaty law was enforced." 2015 is "the fifth consecutive year that Germany's surplus has been above 6pc of GDP," it was pointed out. "The EU's Macroeconomic Imbalance Procedure states that the Commission should launch infringement proceedings if this occurs for three years in a row, unless there is a clear reason not to."
Advocacy of internal devaluation for peripheral economies
The version of adjustment offered by Germany and its allies is that austerity will lead to an internal devaluation, i.e. deflation, which would enable Greece gradually to regain competitiveness. "Yet this proposed solution is a complete non-starter", in the opinion of one UK economist. "If austerity succeeds in delivering deflation, then the growth of nominal GDP will be depressed; most likely it will turn negative. In that case, the burden of debt will increase." A February 2013 research note by the Economics Research team at Goldman Sachs again noted that the years of recession being endured by Greece "exacerbate the fiscal difficulties as the denominator of the debt-to-GDP ratio diminishes", i.e. reducing the debt burden by imposing austerity is, aside from anything else, utterly futile. "Higher growth has always been the best way out the debt (absolute and relative) burden. However, growth prospects for the near and medium-term future are quite weak. During the Great Depression, Heinrich Brüning, the German Chancellor (1930–32), thought that a strong currency and a balanced budget were the ways out of crisis. Cruel austerity measures such as cuts in wages, pensions and social benefits followed. Over the years crises deepened". The austerity program applied to Greece has been "self-defeating", with the country's debt now expected to balloon to 192% of GDP by 2014. After years of the situation being pointed out, in June 2013, with the Greek debt burden galloping towards the "staggering" heights previously predicted by anyone who knew what they were talking about, and with her own organization admitting its program for Greece had failed seriously on multiple primary objectives and that it had bent its rules when "rescuing" Greece; and having claimed in the past that Greece's debt was sustainable—Christine Lagarde felt able to admit publicly that perhaps Greece just might, after all, need to have its debt written off in a meaningful way. In its Global Economic Outlook and Strategy of September 2013, Citi pointed out that Greece "lack[s] the ability to stabilise […] debt/GDP ratios in coming years by fiscal policy alone",:7 and that "large debt relief" is probably "the only viable option" if Greek fiscal sustainability is to re-materialise;:18 predicted no return to growth until 2016;:8 and predicted that the debt burden would soar to over 200% of GDP by 2015 and carry on rising through at least 2017.:9 Unfortunately, German Chancellor Merkel and Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle had just a few months prior already spoken out again against any debt relief for Greece, claiming that "structural reforms" (i.e. "old wine in a new bottle", see Rodrik et al. above) were the way to go and—astonishingly—that "debt sustainability will continue to be assured".
Strictly in terms of reducing wages relative to Germany, Greece had been making 'progress': private-sector wages fell 5.4% in the third quarter of 2011 from a year earlier and 12% since their peak in the first quarter of 2010. The second economic adjustment programme for Greece called for a further labour cost reduction in the private sector of 15% during 2012–2014.
German views on inflation as a solution
The question then is whether Germany would accept the price of inflation for the benefit of keeping the eurozone together. On the upside, inflation, at least to start with, would make Germans happy as their wages rose in keeping with inflation. Regardless of these positives, as soon as the monetary policy of the ECB—which has been catering to German desires for low inflation so doggedly that Martin Wolf describes it as "a reincarnated Bundesbank"—began to look like it might stoke inflation in Germany, Merkel moved to counteract, cementing the impossibility of a recovery for struggling countries.
All of this has resulted in increased anti-German sentiment within peripheral countries like Greece and Spain. German historian Arnulf Baring, who opposed the euro, wrote in his 1997 book Scheitert Deutschland? (Does Germany fail?): "They (populistic media and politicians) will say that we finance lazy slackers, sitting in coffee shops on southern beaches", and "[t]he fiscal union will end in a giant blackmail manoeuvre […] When we Germans will demand fiscal discipline, other countries will blame this fiscal discipline and therefore us for their financial difficulties. Besides, although they initially agreed on the terms, they will consider us as some kind of economic police. Consequently, we risk again becoming the most hated people in Europe." Anti-German animus is perhaps inflamed by the fact that, as one German historian noted, "during much of the 20th century, the situation was radically different: after the first world war and again after the second world war, Germany was the world's largest debtor, and in both cases owed its economic recovery to large-scale debt relief." When Horst Reichenbach arrived in Athens towards the end of 2011 to head a new European Union task force, the Greek media instantly dubbed him "Third Reichenbach"; in Spain in May 2012, businessmen made unflattering comparisons with Berlin's domination of Europe in WWII, and top officials "mutter about how today's European Union consists of a 'German Union plus the rest'". Almost four million German tourists—more than any other EU country—visit Greece annually, but they comprised most of the 50,000 cancelled bookings in the ten days after the 6 May 2012 Greek elections, a figure The Observer called "extraordinary". The Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises estimates that German visits for 2012 will decrease by about 25%. Such is the ill-feeling, historic claims on Germany from WWII have been reopened, including "a huge, never-repaid loan the nation was forced to make under Nazi occupation from 1941 to 1945."
Analysis of the Greek rescue
The neutrality of this section is disputed. Relevant discussion may be found on the talk page. Please do not remove this message until the dispute is resolved. (June 2015)
One estimate is that Greece actually subscribed to €156bn worth of new debt in order to get €206bn worth of old debt to be written off, meaning the write-down of €110bn by the banks and others is more than double the true figure of €50bn that was truly written off. Taxpayers are now liable for more than 80% of Greece's debt. One journalist for Der Spiegel noted that the second bailout was not "geared to the requirements of the people of Greece but to the needs of the international financial markets, meaning the banks. How else can one explain the fact that around a quarter of the package won't even arrive in Athens but will flow directly to the country's international creditors?" He accused the banks of "cleverly manipulating the fear that a Greek bankruptcy would trigger a fatal chain reaction" in order to get paid. According to Robert Reich, in the background of the Greek bailouts and debt restructuring lurks Wall Street. While US banks are owed only about €5bn by Greece, they have more significant exposure to the situation via German and French banks, who were significantly exposed to Greek debt. Massively reducing the liabilities of German and French banks with regards to Greece thus also serves to protect US banks.
Creditors of Greece 2011 and 2015
According to Der Spiegel "more than 80 percent of the rescue package is going to creditors—that is to say, to banks outside of Greece and to the ECB. The billions of taxpayer euros are not saving Greece. They're saving the banks." One study found that the public debt of Greece to foreign governments, including debt to the EU/IMF loan facility and debt through the eurosystem, increased by €130 bn, from €47.8 bn to €180.5 billion, between January 2010 and September 2011. The combined exposure of foreign banks to Greek entities—public and private—was around 80bn euros by mid-February 2012. In 2009 they were in for well over 200bn. The Economist noted that, during 2012 alone, "private-sector bondholders reduced their nominal claims by more than 50%. But the deal did not include the hefty holdings of Greek bonds at the European Central Bank (ECB), and it was sweetened with funds borrowed from official rescuers. For two years those rescuers had pretended Greece was solvent, and provided official loans to pay off bondholders in full. So more than 70% of the debts are now owed to 'official' creditors", i.e. European taxpayers and the IMF. With regard to Germany in particular, a Bloomberg editorial noted that, before its banks reduced its exposure to Greece, "they stood to lose a ton of money if Greece left the euro. Now any losses will be shared with the taxpayers of the entire euro area."
Mar 20, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com
As usual, Trump made the announcement of recognizing Israel's claim to the Golan Heights without any consultation with any of the relevant administration officials:
President Donald Trump's tweet on Thursday recognizing the Golan Heights as Israeli territory surprised members of his own Middle East peace team, the State Department, and Israeli officials.
U.S. diplomats and White House aides had believed the Golan Heights issue would be front and center at next week's meetings between Trump and Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House. But they were unprepared for any presidential announcement this week.
No formal U.S. process or executive committees were initiated to review the policy before Trump's decision, and the diplomats responsible for implementing the policy were left in the dark.
Even the Israelis, who have advocated for this move for years, were stunned at the timing of Trump's message.
After more than two years of watching Trump's impulsive and reckless "governing" style, it doesn't come as a surprise to anyone that he makes these decisions without advance warning. There is no evidence that Trump ever thinks anything through, and so he probably sees no reason to tell anyone in advance what he is going to do.
Trump almost never bothers consulting with the people who will be responsible for carrying out his policies and dealing with the international fallout, and that is probably why so many of his policy decisions end up being exceptionally poor ones. The substance of most of Trump's foreign policy decisions was never likely to be good, but the lack of an organized policy process on major decisions makes those decisions even more haphazard and chaotic than they would otherwise be.
There is absolutely no upside for the United States in endorsing illegal Israeli claims to the Golan Heights. It is a cynical political stunt intended to boost Netanyahu and Likud's fortunes in the upcoming election, and it is also a cynical stunt aimed at shoring up Trump's support from Republican "pro-Israel" voters and donors.
Whatever short-term benefit Israel gains from it, the U.S. gains nothing and stands to lose quite a bit in terms of our international standing.
There has been no consideration of the costs and problems this will create for the U.S. in its relations with other regional states and beyond because Trump couldn't care less about the long-term effects that his decisions have on the country.
Once again, Trump has put narrow political ambitions and the interests of a foreign government ahead of the interests of the United States. That seems to be the inevitable result of electing a narcissist who conducts foreign policy based on which leaders flatter and praise him.
Trump's bad decision can be traced back to Bolton's visit to Israel earlier this year:
Administration officials said that National Security Advisor John Bolton was instrumental to the decision, after visiting Israel in January to assure officials there that the United States would not abandon them in Syria despite Trump's sudden withdrawal of troops from the battlefield.
Nervous Israeli officials saw an opportunity. "It was an ask," one Israeli source said, "because of the timing -- it suddenly became a relevant issue about Iran."
Bolton is usually the culprit responsible any destructive and foolish policy decision over the last year, and his baleful influence continues to grow. We can also see the harmful effects of the administration's Iran obsession at work. In the end, the Syria "withdrawal" hasn't happened and apparently isn't going to, but Trump nonetheless gives Israel whatever it wants in exchange for nothing so that they will be "reassured" of our unthinking support.
SF Bay March 21, 2019 at 10:28 pmWell, of course Trump puts America last. There is one and only one person he is interested in -- himself. As you say this is his narcissistic personality at work.Kouros , , March 21, 2019 at 11:39 pm
My never ending question is always, "Why does any Republican with a conscience remain silent? Are they really all this shallow and self absorbed? Is there nothing Trump does that will finally force them to put country before party and their own ambition?"
It's a really sad state of events that has put this country on the road to ruin.I wonder what Mr. Kagan has to say now about "authoritarian" regimes?!Trump 2016 , , March 22, 2019 at 1:45 amTrump is making one hell of a mess for the next president to clean up. Straightening out all this stupidity will take years. Here's hoping that Trump gets to watch his foreign policy decisions tossed out and reversed from federal prison.Grumpy Old Man , , March 22, 2019 at 3:29 amHe ought to recognize Russia's seizure of Crimea. Why not? Кто кого?Tony , , March 22, 2019 at 8:50 amThe decision to leave the INF treaty was taken in a similar way and with a total disregard for the consequences. The leaders of the European NATO countries have shown utter spinelessness in going along with it.Some Perspective , , March 22, 2019 at 9:08 am
The administration says that a Russian missile violates the treaty but it will not tell us what the range of the missile is. Nor will it allow its weapons inspectors to go and look at it.
The reason is clear: Fear that the weapons inspectors' findings would contradict the administration's claims.I voted Republican ever since I started voting. I voted for Bush I, Dole, Dubya, and McCain. I couldn't vote for either Obama or Romney, but I voted for Trump because of Hillary Clinton.Sid Finster , , March 22, 2019 at 10:22 am
I am shocked and horrified by what I've seen under Trump. I am deeply disappointed that so few Republicans (or Democrats, for that matter) have stood up to him on foreign policy, and I will never vote Republican again. This GOP/Israel connection stinks to high heaven. Anyone who studied or remembers our problem with Communist spies back in the '50s has got to be hearing alarm bells ringing in their ears. Worries about Soviet spying and Russian meddling pale in comparison to what's now going on in plain sight with Israel.
We're losing our country. We're losing America.To be fair, it ain't just Team R that has the sloppy crush on Israel. Team D is just as bad, even if they don't gush quite so publicly. In fact, episodes such as this one are useful in a way, as they make it hard to pretend that this is just a one-off, a misguided decision that we have to go along with to appease a powerful friend.G-Pol , , March 22, 2019 at 11:15 am
Europoliticians tell that last one a lot. "We really don't want to but the Americans twisted our arms ZOMG Special Relationship so sorry ZOMG!" Only with a lot more Eurobureaucratese.I agree with the article's premise, but not because of this move regarding Israel.
Personally, I believe this move will have little impact on the outcome of the crisis in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia and the other Arab monarchies are too focused on containing Iran and Turkey to give a crap about what Israel does. The only Arab states that I can see objecting to this move are Syria (obviously) and the others who were already allied with Iran and/or Turkey to begin with.
Right now, the REAL center of attention in the region should be Northern Syria. THAT's where the next major war likely will begin. In that area, Saudi Arabia and to a lesser extent Turkey and the United Arab Emirates are the ones doing the major escalations, while Israel has virtually no role at all aside from sideline cheer-leading. And of course, Trump is doing nothing to stop what could become the next July Crisis. What's "America First" about that?
Nevertheless, Israel should be very concerned about Northern Syria. If war breaks out and the US is forced to go to war with its own NATO ally as a result, Israel should prepare to kiss its alliance with the US goodbye.
There is no way our international reputation will come out of this war unscathed, and odds are we'll be in a far worse position diplomatically than we were at any point in our history, even during the Iraq war. When that happens, the American people will be out to assign blame. Many (rightfully or not) will blame Israel due to its connections to neoconservatism and Saudi jingoism, and consequently we may end up seeing BOTH parties becoming unfriendly to Israel over the subsequent generation.
All of this could be prevented if President Trump would just tell Saudi Arabia to STOP the nonsense. But no. He's too focused on MIC profits. He's not America First. And quite frankly, I'm starting to think Benjamin Netanyahu is not Israel-first either, because if he were he'd be warning Trump about the mess he's going to end up getting America, Israel, and much of Europe and the Middle East into.
Apr 11, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
April 11, 2019 by Yves Smith By Servaas Storm, a Dutch economist and author who works on macroeconomics, technological progress, income distribution & economic growth, finance, development and structural change, and climate change. Originally published at the Institute for New Economic Thinking website
While Brexit and Trump have been making the headlines, the Italian economy has been sliding into a technical recession (again). Both the OECD and the European Central Bank (ECB) have lowered the growth forecasts for Italy to negative numbers, and in what analysts see as a precautionary move, the ECB is reviving its sovereign bond buying programme, which it had started to unwind just five months earlier.
"Don't underestimate the impact of the Italian recession," is what French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire told Bloomberg News (Horobin 2019). "We talk a lot about Brexit, but we don't talk much about an Italian recession that will have a significant impact on growth in Europe and can impact France, because it's one of our most important trading partners." More important than trade, however, and what Le Maire is not stating, is that French banks are holding around €385 billion of Italian debt, derivatives, credit commitments and guarantees on their balance sheets, while German banks are holding €126 billion of Italian debt (as of the third quarter of 2018, according to the Bank for International Settlements).
In light of these exposures to Italian debt, it is no wonder that Le Maire, along with the European Commission, is worried by Italy's third recession in a decade -- as well as by the growing anti-euro rhetoric and posturing of Italy's coalition government, comprised by the Five-Star Movement (M5S) and the Lega. The knowledge that Italy is too big to fail is fuelling the audacity of Italy's coalition government in its attempt to reclaim fiscal policy space by openly flouting the budgetary rules of the E.U.'s Economic and Monetary Union (EMU).
The result is a catch-22. The more the European Commission tries to bring the Italian government into line, the more it will feed the anti-establishment and anti-euro forces in Italy. On the other hand, the more the European Commission gives in to the demands of the Italian government, the more it will fritter away its credibility as the guardian of the EMU's Stability and Growth Pact. This stalemate is not going away as long as Italy's economy remains paralyzed.
A Crisis of the Post-Maastricht Treaty Order of Italian Capitalism
It is therefore vital to understand the true origins of Italy's economic crisis in order to find pathways out of Italy's permanent stagnation. In a new paper , I provide an evidence-based pathology of Italy's recession -- which, I argue, must be regarded as a crisis of the post-Maastricht Treaty order of Italian capitalism, as Thomas Fazi (2018) calls it. Until the early 1990s, Italy enjoyed decades of relatively robust economic growth, during which it managed to catch up with other Eurozone nations in income (per person) (Figure 1). In 1960, Italy's per capita GDP (at constant 2010 prices) was 85% of French per capita GDP and 74% of (weighted average) per capita GDP in Belgium, France, Germany and the Netherlands (the Euro-4 economies). By the mid-1990s, Italy had almost caught up with France (Italian GDP per person equalled 97% of French per capita income) and also with the Euro-4 (Italian GDP per capita was 94% of per capita GDP in the Euro-4).
Figure 1Three decades of catching up, 25 years of falling behind: real GDP per person in Italy relative to France/Euro-4, 1960-2018
Source : author's calculation based on AMECO data.
But then a very steady decline began (see Figure 1), erasing decades of (income) convergence. The income gap between Italy and France is now (as of 2018) 18 percentage points, which is more than what it was in 1960; Italian GDP per capita is 76% of per capita GDP in the Euro-4 economies. Beginning in the early to mid-1990s, Italy's economy began to stumble and then fall behind, as all major indicators -- income per person, labour productivity, investment, export market shares, etc. -- began a very steady decline.
It is not a coincidence that the sudden reversal of Italy's economic fortunes occurred after Italy's adoption of the "legal and policy superstructure" imposed by the Maastricht Treaty of 1992, which cleared the road for the establishment of the EMU in 1999 and the introduction of the common currency in 2002. Italy, as I show in the paper, has been the star pupil in the Eurozone class -- the one economy that committed itself most strongly and consistently to the fiscal austerity and structural reforms that form the essence of the EMU macroeconomic rulebook (Costantini 2017, 2018). Italy kept closer to the rules than France and Germany and paid heavily for this: The permanent fiscal consolidation, the persistent wage restraint and the overvalued exchange rate killed Italian aggregate demand -- and the demand shortage asphyxiated the growth of output, productivity, jobs and incomes. Italy's stasis is an object lesson for all Eurozone economies, but -- paraphrasing G.B. Shaw -- as a warning, not as an example.
Perpetual Fiscal Austerity
Italy did more than most other Eurozone members in terms of self-imposed austerity and structural reform in order to satisfy the conditions of EMU (Halevi 2019). This is clear when comparing Italy's fiscal policy post-1992 to that of France and Germany. Various Italian governments ran continuous primary budget surpluses (defined as public expenditure excluding interest payments on public debt, minus public revenue), averaging 3% of GDP per year during 1995-2008. French governments, in contrast, ran primary deficits of 0.1% of GDP each year on average during the same period, while German governments managed to generate a primary surplus of 0.7% on average per year during those same 14 years. Italy's permanent primary surpluses during 1995-2008 would have reduced its public debt-to-GDP ratio by around 40 percentage points -- from 117% in 1994 to 77% in 2008 (while keeping all other factors constant). But slow (nominal) growth relative to high (nominal) interest rates pushed up the debt ratio by 23 percentage points and washed away more than half of the public debt-to-GDP reductions of 40 percentage points achieved by austerity. Could it be true that Italy's permanent austerity, intended to lower the debt ratio by running permanent primary surpluses, backfired because it slowed down economic growth?
Italy's governments (including the left-of-centre Renzi coalition) continued to run significant primary budget surpluses (of more than 1.3% of GDP on average per year) during the crisis period of 2008-2018. Showing permanent fiscal discipline was a top priority, as Prime Minister Mario Monti admitted in a 2012 interview with CNN, even if that meant "destroying domestic demand" and pushing the economy into decline. Italy's almost "Swabian" commitment to fiscal discipline stands in some contrast to the French (" laissez aller ") attitudes: The French government ran primary deficits at an average of 2% of GDP during 2008-2018 and allowed its public debt-to-GDP ratio to rise to almost 100% in 2018. The cumulative fiscal stimulus thus provided by the French state amounted to €461 billion (in constant 2010 prices), whereas the cumulative fiscal drain on Italian domestic demand was €227 billion. The Italian budget cuts show up in non-trivial declines in its public expenditure on social expenditure per person, which is now (as of 2018) around 70% of public social spending per capita in Germany and France. One doesn't dare speculate what the "Gilets Jaunes" (yellow vest) protests in France would have looked like if France had put through an Italian-style fiscal consolidation post-2008.
Permanent Real Wage Restraint
When Italy signed the Maastricht Treaty, its high rates of inflation and unemployment were regarded as major problems. Inflation was blamed on the "excessive" power of labour unions and an "excessively" centralized wage bargaining system, which resulted in strong wage-push inflation and a profit squeeze -- as wage growth tended to exceed labour productivity growth, which lowered the profit share. Seen this way, the blame for Italy's high unemployment could be shifted onto its "rigid" labour markets and too strongly protected "worker aristocracy." Bringing down inflation and restoring profitability required wage moderation, which in turn could only be achieved by a radical deregulation of labour markets, or what is euphemistically called, "structural reforms."
Italy does not have a statutory minimum wage (unlike France) and also does not have a generous unemployment benefit system (in terms of unemployment insurance replacement rates and duration, and entitlement conditions) compared with the E.U. average. Employment protection for regular employees in Italy is roughly at the same level as job protection in France and Germany. Italy's structural labour market reforms involved drastically reducing employment protection for temporary workers, and as a result, the share of temporary workers in total Italian employment increased from 10% during 1991-1993 to 18.5% in 2017. Between 1992 and 2008, total (net) employment in Italy increased by 2.4 million new jobs, of which almost three-quarters (73%) were fixed-term jobs. In France, by comparison, (net) employment grew by 3.6 million jobs during 1992-2008, of which 84% were regular (permanent) jobs and only 16% were temporary positions.
In addition, the bargaining power of unions was reduced by the abandoning of the target of full employment in favour of public debt reduction (Costantini 2017) and by a much more restrictive (anti-inflation) central bank policy and the fixed exchange rate. As a result, real wage growth per employee, which averaged 3.2% per year during 1960-1992, was lowered to a mere 0.1% per year during the period 1992-1999 and to 0.6% per annum during 1999-2008. Within the E.U., Italy's turnaround was remarkable: From 1992 through 2008, the growth of Italian real wages per worker (0.35% per year) was only half the real wage growth in the Euro-4 (0.7% per annum) and it was even lower compared to real wage growth in France (0.9% per year). Interestingly, from 1992 through2008, Italian real wage growth per employee was slightly lower than (already stingy) German real wage growth (0.4% per year). To see the long-run picture, Figure 2 plots the ratio of the real wage of an Italian worker to the real wage of the average French, German and Euro-4 worker from 1960 through2018. In the early 1960s, the average wage of Italian workers was about 85% of the French wage, and this ratio increased to 92% in 1990-1991. Starting in 1992, the Italian real wage began a steady decline in terms of the average French wage -- and in 2018, the average Italian employee earned only 75% of the wage earned by her/his French comrade. The wage gap between Italy and France is bigger today than it was in the 1960s. The same pattern holds when one compares Italian wages to German and/or Euro-4 wages.
Figure 2Three decades of catching up, 25 years of falling behind: real wage per employee in Italy relative to France / Germany / Euro-4, 1960-2018
Source : author's calculation based on AMECO data.
Italy's wage moderation proved an effective strategy to kill three (not just two) birds with only one stone. First, wage restraint helped to bring down inflation -- to 3.4% on average per year from 1992 through 1999 (from 9.6% on average per annum from 1960-1992) and further down to 2.5% per year from 1999 through 2008 and 1.1% from 2008 through 2018. Italy is no longer prone, in a structural sense, to high and accelerating inflation. Second, wage restraint increased the labour intensity of Italy's GDP growth -- and thus reduced unemployment. Italy's unemployment rate peaked in the mid-1990s at more than 11%, but labour market deregulation and wage restraint successfully brought down unemployment to 6.1% in 2007 and 6.7% in 2008 -- which was lower than the unemployment rates of France (which equaled 8% in 2007 and 7.4% in 2008) and Germany (where unemployment was 8.5% in 2007 and 7.4% in 2008). Finally, as intended, wage moderation led to a substantial increase in the profit share of Italy's GDP: The profit share rose by more than 5.5 percentage points, from 36% in 1991 to about 41.5% from 2000 through 2002, after which it stabilized around 40% until 2008. During the 1990s, the recovery of the profit share was considerably stronger in Italy than in France, and comparable to what happened in Germany -- notwithstanding the fact that Italy's profit share was already relatively high to begin with.
Italy's structural reforms of the 1990s paid off handsomely in terms of a higher profit share, in other words, and Italy's profit share remained substantially higher than that of France and Germany. With lowered inflation, effective wage restraint, declining unemployment, public indebtedness on the decline and the profit share considerably raised, Italy appeared to be set for a long period of strong growth. It did not happen. The operation was carried out successfully, but the patient died. According to the coroner's post-mortem, the cause of death was a structural lack of aggregate demand.
The Suffocation of Italian Aggregate Demand after 1992
By keeping close to the EMU rulebook, Italian economic policy created a chronic shortage of (domestic) demand. Domestic demand growth per Italian averaged 0.25% per year from 1992 through2018 -- a sharp decline compared to the domestic demand growth (of 3.3% per year) recorded from 1960 through1992 and also much below domestic demand growth (of 1.1% per person per year) in the Euro-4 countries. Italy's real export growth (per person) also declined, from 6.6% on average per year from 1960 through 1992 to 3% per year from 1992 through 2018. Average annual export growth (per person) was 4.4% in the Euro-4 countries from 1992 through 2018. Italy's chronic demand shortage reduced capacity utilization (especially in manufacturing) and this, in turn, lowered the profit rate. According to my estimates, capacity utilization in Italian manufacturing declined by a staggering 30 percentage points relative to capacity utilization in French manufacturing between 1992 and 2015.
The utilization rate of Italian manufacturing relative to German manufacturing declined from 110% in 1995 to 76% in 2008, and sunk further to 63% in 2015 -- a decline by a stunning 47 percentage points. Lower capacity utilization reduced the rate of profit in Italian manufacturing by 3 to 4 percentage points relative to French and German profit rates. This must have considerably depressed Italian manufacturing investment and growth. Let me emphasize the fact that Italy's profit rate declined even when the share of profits in income increased. This means that Italy's strategy of fiscal austerity and wage restraint proved to be counterproductive, because it failed to improve the profit rate: The drop in demand and capacity utilization had a bigger (negative) impact on firm profitability than the increase in the profit share.
As I argue in the paper, this condition of chronic demand shortage was created, in particular, by ( a ) perpetual fiscal austerity, ( b ) permanent real wage restraint, and ( c ) a lack of technological competitiveness which, in combination with an unfavourable (euro) exchange rate, reduces the ability of Italian firms to maintain their export market shares in the face of increasing competition of low-wage countries (China in particular). These three factors are depressing demand; reducing capacity utilization and lowering firm profitability; and hurting investment, innovation, and productivity growth. They are hence locking the country into a state of permanent decline, characterized by the impoverishment of the productive matrix of the Italian economy and the quality composition of its trade flows (Simonazzi et al. 2013).
Italy's manufacturing sector is not "technology intensive" and suffers from stagnating productivity. As Figures 3 and 4 illustrate, the cost competitiveness of Italian manufacturers vis-à-vis the Euro-4 countries depends on low wages and not on superior productivity performance. Whereas industrial workers in France and Germany were earning €35 per hour (in constant 2010 prices) in 2015, and their colleagues in Belgium and the Netherlands earned even more, Italian workers in manufacturing were bringing home only €23 per hour (in constant 2010 prices) -- or one-third less (see Figure 3). But at the same time, industrial labour productivity per hour of work is considerably higher in France and Germany (at €53 per hour in constant 2010 prices) than in Italy, where it is around €33 per hour (Figure 4). Italian manufacturers are thus taking the low road, while firms in the Euro-4 countries are travelling on the high road. Or in other words, compared with German and French manufacturers, Italian firms suffer from a lack of technological strength, which in Germany is based on high productivity, innovative efforts and high product quality. True, Italian firms do stand out for their high relative quality in more traditional, lower-tech export products such as footwear, textiles, and other non-metallic mineral products. But they have been steadily losing ground in export markets of more dynamic products characterized by higher levels of R&D and technology intensity, such as chemicals, pharmaceuticals and communications equipment (Bugamelli et al. 2018).
Locked into a Position of Structural Weakness
For two reasons, this specialization in low- and low-medium technology activities locks the country into a quasi-permanent position of structural weakness. The first is that the exchange-rate elasticity of export demand is larger for traditional exports than for medium- and high-tech exports. As a result, the appreciation of the euro did hurt Italian exporters of traditional products harder than German and French firms exporting more "dynamic" goods and services. Thus, the overvalued euro penalizes Italian export growth more than it damages export growth in the Euro-4 economies.
The second factor is that Italian firms are operating in global markets which are more strongly exposed to the growing competition of low-wage countries and China in particular. In 1999, 67% of Italy's exports consisted of (traditional) products exposed to medium to high competition from Chinese firms -- compared to a similar exposure to Chinese competition of 45% of exports in France and 50% of exports in Germany (Bugamelli et al . 2018). The share of Italy's exports in world imports declined from 4.5% in 1999 to 2.9% in 2016 -- and the market share loss was heavily concentrated in more traditional market segments characterized by high exposure to Chinese competition (Bugamelli et al. 2018). As Chinese and other developing economy firms continue to expand their production capabilities and to upscale, competitive pressures will mount in medium- and medium-high tech segments as well. Italian firms have difficulties facing competition from low-wage countries: They are generally too small to wield any pricing power, too often single-product producers unable to diversify market risks, and too dependent on foreign markets, because their home market is in the doldrums.
Figure 3Real wage per hour of work in manufacturing: Italy versus the Euro-4 countries, 1970-2015 (euro's, constant 2010 prices)
Source : author's calculation based on EU-KLEMS (Jäger 2017).
Figure 4 Manufacturing labour productivity per hour of work: Italy versus the Euro-4 countries, 1970-2015 (euro's, constant 2010 prices)
Source : author's calculation based on EU-KLEMS (Jäger 2017).
Italy's Permanent Crisis Is a Warning for the Eurozone
There are rational ways to get the Italian economy out of the current paralysis -- none of them easy, and all of them founded on a long-term strategy of "walking on two legs": (a) reviving domestic (and export) demand, and (b) diversifying and upgrading the productive structure and innovative capabilities and strengthening the technological competitiveness of Italy's exports (to get away from direct wage-cost competition with China). This means that both austerity and real wage growth suppression must stop. Instead, the Italian government should gear up for providing unambiguous directional thrust to the economy by means of higher public investment (in public infrastructure and "greening" and decarbonizing energy and transportation systems) and novel industrial policies to promote innovation, entrepreneurship and stronger technological competitiveness.
There is no dearth of constructive proposals by Italian economists to help their economy out of the current mess -- including Guarascio and Simonazzi (2016), Lucchese et al. (2016), Pianta et al. (2016), Mazzucato (2013), Dosi (2016), and Celi et al. (2018). These proposals all centre on creating a self-reinforcing process of investment-led and innovation-driven growth, orchestrated by an "entrepreneurial state" and founded on relatively regulated and co-ordinated firm-worker relationships, rather than on deregulated labour markets and hyper-flexible employment relations. These proposals might work well.
The same cannot be said, however, of the "one-leg" fiscal stimulus proposed by the M5S-Lega coalition government, the aim of which is a short-run revival of domestic demand by means of higher public (consumption) spending. None of the proposed spending will help solving Italy's structural problems. What is completely lacking is any longer-term directional thrust, or the second leg of a viable strategy -- which the neoliberal Lega will be unwilling to provide and the "progressive-in-name-only" M5S seems incapable of devising (Fazio 2018). Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.
More importantly, any rational "two-leg" developmental strategy will be incompatible with sticking to the EMU macroeconomic rulebook and keeping financial markets calm, which are supposed to act as the disciplinarian of Eurozone sovereigns (Costantini 2018; Halevi 2019). This is clear from what happened when the M5S-Lega government came up with an expansionary Draft Budgetary Plan (DBP) for 2019. The total impact of the one-leg fiscal stimulus initially proposed in the 2019 DBP amounted to an estimated 1.2% of GDP in 2019, 1.4% in 2020 and 1.3% in 2021 -- and even this minute budgetary expansion triggered strong negative responses from the European Commission and increases in Italian bond yields.
Blanchard et al. (2018, p. 2) formalize this status quo in a mechanical debt-dynamics model and conclude that the 2019 DBP risks triggering "unmanageable spreads and serious crisis, including involuntary exit from the Eurozone." Blanchard et al . (2018, p. 16) argue for a fiscally neutral budget, which they think would lead to lower interest rates and "probably" (in their words) to higher growth and employment. Equations, graphs and technocratic econospeak are competently used to turn what in fact constitutes a very modest transgression of the EMU rulebook into a low-probability- catastrophic event -- which everyone would want to avoid (see Costantini 2018). What is tragic is that the 2019 DBP does not come close to what would be needed for a rational strategy. All the sound and fury is for nothing.
Worse still is the fact that maintaining Italy's status quo, which is what a fiscally neutral budget would mean, carries a real, but unrecognized low-probability, high-impact risk: a breakdown of political and social stability in the country. Continued stagnation will feed the resentment and anti-establishment, anti-euro forces in Italy. This will destabilize not just Italy, but the entire Eurozone. Italy's crisis thus constitutes a warning to the Eurozone as a whole: Continued austerity and real wage restraint, in combination with the de-democratization of macroeconomic policymaking, make for a "dangerous game" (Costantini 2018) -- a game which risks further empowering anti-establishment forces elsewhere in the Eurozone as well.
This is like opening Pandora's box. No one can tell where this will end. Economists (including Italians) carry an enormous responsibility in all this, both because they are much to blame for the chaos and because they fail to continue to unite behind rational strategic solutions to resolve the Italian crisis. "Perhaps," John Maynard Keynes wrote, "it is historically true that no order of society ever perishes save by its own hand" (Keynes 1919). Rational economists have to prove Keynes' verdict wrong, starting in Italy -- if only because the Brexit mess appears to be beyond redemption.
Yikes , April 11, 2019 at 10:15 am
Article seems to ignore why Germany is holding so much Italian Debt, which to my reading is Germany wanted to create a captured market and kill off export competition with the foundation of a currency union at the exchange rates set and provision of easy credit for German goods, with the long term goal of creating a 4th Reich by means of capital slavery. Like climate change, many Italian intellectual elite knew this was going to happen, but that it would enrich them at the cost to both the old capital elite and working classes, with the bill falling due long after they had passed away.
DJG , April 11, 2019 at 11:55 am
When people talk about Italy being unstable: From the post, which describes the stability of austerity >
Italy kept closer to the rules than France and Germany and paid heavily for this: The permanent fiscal consolidation, the persistent wage restraint and the overvalued exchange rate killed Italian aggregate demand -- and the demand shortage asphyxiated the growth of output, productivity, jobs and incomes. Italy's stasis is an object lesson for all Eurozone economies, but -- paraphrasing G.B. Shaw -- as a warning, not as an example.
And people wonder why the Movimento Cinque Stelle arose? Or why Matteo Salvini, Trump imitator, now has so much influence?
All of the graphs show that the average person in Italy has been made poorer because of EU policies and the euro. The remarkable thing is that Italians still want to remain in the EU and in the euro because these supranational structures keep the Italian state in line. Yet job creation is stalled. There is a considerable brain drain. The Mezzogiorno is gradually losing population–emptying out because the economic prospects are so dire.
And the left is in collapse because of years of Renzi's Blairism / Clintonism.
This is all according to plan.
Apr 08, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
hemeantwell , April 5, 2019 at 9:44 am
Money-love [φιλοχρηματία, philochrêmatia] has always been extreme because wealth is addictive
From what I've been able to glean regarding Roman society, wealth acquisition was strongly driven by the demands of a political order that was relatively unstructured and unstable, depending on imperial whims, favoritism, influence purchasing. In the eyes of a pleb it might look like elites were just whooping it up -- and that was certainly true -- but their fun had a systemic driver to it. To be sure you're in favor, or that your coalition is holding up, you need sesterces.
That's what the Romans told their provinces. Everything they did was always to preserve "good order," meaning open opportunities for their own wealth grabbing. They never said they were out to destroy and loot other societies.
This is largely true, but I was gobsmacked to find Caesar, in his Commentary on the Gallic Wars, serving up an extended quote of a Gallic "state" leader exhorting his followers to fight Caesar in order to escape slavery. Caesar even allows the guy to distinguish between earlier conflicts, in which another state would invade, plunder, and then leave, from conflicts with the Romans, in which the state would be occupied forever and its people enslaved. Brunt cites Caesar as boasting the wars gained 1,000,000 slaves, a figure he regards as inflated, but he also notes that other writers of the time didn't strongly dispute it.
hemeantwell , April 5, 2019 at 3:05 pm
I've got it on Kindle, so why not let Caesar report Critognatus' speech:
The Cimbri, after laying Gaul waste, and inflicting great calamities, at length departed from our country, and sought other lands; they left us our rights, laws, lands, and liberty.
But what other motive or wish have the Romans, than, induced by envy, to settle in the lands and states of those whom they have learned by fame to be noble and powerful in war, and impose on them perpetual slavery?
For they never have carried on wars on any other terms.
Carolinian , April 5, 2019 at 9:45 am
There's little logic for neoliberalism beyond a faith that short-term greed is the best way to optimize long-term growth.
Or as George H.W. Bush said: Voodoo economics. But he didn't stick to that position very long once Reagan took him on board.
Thanks again to NC for the great series. However this non economics person will very humbly repeat my objection that while money equals power, power doesn't necessarily have to be about money. I recently read a book about the history of the Plains indians and for them power was represented by horses–a kind of wealth to be sure–but also by bravery and skill at violence. So perhaps what we are really talking about is not economic systems and theories but this will to dominate that causes power to corrupt and creates the mindset that "too much is never enough." In other words the problem is really all about psychology with economics as a subbranch. A future era of better psychologists may produce better economists. Or here's hoping.
rod , April 5, 2019 at 11:29 am
"They're only up in arms if they believe that there is an alternative."
"Evil essentially is predatory and destructive behavior. Socrates said that it ultimately is ignorance, because nobody would set out intentionally to do it. But in that case, evil would be an educational system that imposes ignorance and tunnel vision, distracting attention from understanding how economic society actually works in destructive ways."
"If we don't go for it then somebody will and we'll lose out" was the frustrating bottom line for an iron worker I was speaking with about the proposal to drop a new NFL tax payer subsidized practice facility into our already development gridlocked area. Every point I made to him circled right back to this justification.
He just couldn't conceive of an alternative and I wasn't prepared enough to offer him others.
Because nowadays we must consider the economic tradeoff on everything–just like we are told.
which brings up that sweet definition of evil by MH–within the context of JS's question about enabling Climate Change
Watt4Bob , April 5, 2019 at 11:40 am
As soon as that guy becomes more concerned about feeding his kids, and less concerned about football stadiums, it's possible he'll be much more focused, more understanding, and willing to listen to your opinion.
georgieboy , April 5, 2019 at 11:47 am
MH: It's becoming a second Gilded Age. An abrupt change of direction in economic trends occurred after Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher were elected in 1979/80. The result has been to invert what the 19th-century economists understood to be a free market -- that is, a market free from a privileged hereditary class living on unearned income in the form of land rent, monopoly rent and financial extraction.
JS: I was in my first few years of college when Thatcher came in in 1979, and when Reagan was elected in 1980. I asked my economics professors what was going on, but I could not find a single professor to coherently describe the U-turn that was occurring. It certainly wasn't in Paul Samuelson's textbook that we were given.
This interview with Mr. Hudson has been a fascinating education. Thank you, Yves.
That said, there is a tendency, at least in the tone of the interview, to ascribe a kind of insuperable power to top-down manipulation and control by the oligarchies of which Hudson speaks. My sense is that, instead, sometimes the mass of people want to be so free of one perceived set of problems that they support stepping into another -- as in the early 1980s.
MMT and "intelligent jubilee" (i.e., the opposite of what Geithner/Obama/Benanke did) supporters -- of which I am one -- might do well to consider what preceded the so-called Reagan revolution:
Rising inflation and unemployment in the 1970s were perceived to becoming inescapable in the US political landscape of the time.
The bad news about life in the Soviet Union was leaking out faster and faster in the late 1970s, once the American media lionized the cause of refuseniks like Natan Sharansky during the Carter years. (Remember Peter Jennings covering the trials and persecution of sweet, innocent, Natan Sharansky -- the wolf who dropped his sheep's clothing once he arrived in Israel?) Sometimes bad guys provoke important news about other, more powerful, bad guys.
Thousands of American workers came home from Moscow after Carter cancelled US participation in the 1980 Olympics -- with shocking tales of just how crappy the Russians had it.
Reagan beat Carter and Anderson 51-41-7 in 1980, and Reagan then whooped Mondale 59-41 in the 1984 popular vote. Job growth had picked up, the American media was generally happy to lead cheers for the US while pummeling the nasty Soviets. It felt like the Bear that is misfortune had been satisfied with catching the Russkis.
The old joke points out that we humans instinctively know we can't outrun the Bear; the natural tendency is to therefore sometimes focus on outrunning our neighbors, so the Bear is satisfied to get them. Our ancestors were selected for that feature.
As 'hemeantwell' noted, the fact that Caesar brought home lots of slaves casts a broader light (than Mr. Hudson's interview) on for whom Caesar's revolution was intended. How might MMT advocates wrestle with the push and pull of similar 'social identity' competitions when the Bear is seen to be coming?
JEHR , April 5, 2019 at 12:16 pm
Is it possible that the bear is just as frightened of the eagle as the eagle is of the bear?
deplorado , April 5, 2019 at 6:30 pm
The bear was frightened, I can tell you, I lived behind the Iron Curtain.
But there was a lot of talk about peace. A lot. Like – everywhere. And it was not fake. People looked on Americans with genuine interest and a bit of trepidation, and of course (what proved unhealthful) desire to emulate. And they wanted to be friends and learn from them. Look at C-SPAN videos of 1989, 1990 – for example one of Soviet banking officials at a seminar with US bankers – and you will see genuine, practically childlike belief that what the US experts and and banking practitioners were saying was gospel.
Btw I don't know whether the same talk of peace was present in the US at the time. What continually strikes me is how talk of peace is utterly absent in MSM now, has been for the last 20 years that I have observed.
Lots of common sense things are absent from MSM.
JEHR , April 5, 2019 at 12:13 pm
It's so beneficial to have Mr. Hudson and others who have studied ancient history from the point of view of how money and indebtedness works to share all this learning with us. How little is the difference between ancient oligarchs and modern ones! We think our civilization is so wonderful and enlightened when it is just another part of the old system of inequality playing itself out over and over again. I too wonder how long the wheel of fortune will take to complete this particular circuit, but with climate change skulking so near, it may not be long.
Roger Boyd , April 5, 2019 at 12:31 pm
Neoliberalism actually started with Carter in the late 1970's, and it was Volcker's monetary assault that helped lose him the election (and of course the Iran hostage crisis). The same in the UK, with the Labour government bringing in the IMF and fighting with the unions in the later 1970s to cause the "winter of discontent" that brought in Thatcher (and without the Falklands War Thatcher would have been out after one term). Labour could have called an earlier election and probably won, but decided not to in a huge tactical mistake.
The outcomes were not so predetermined and could have been Carter-Callaghan rather than the Reagan-Thatcher duo that did so much to force the world along the neoliberal path, and bring us "New" Neoliberal Labour (that Thatcher actually stated was her greatest achievement)
eg , April 5, 2019 at 4:17 pm
My only quibble would be to point out that you are referring to the neoliberal implementation -- it's tenets are rather older, dating back at least to the 1938 Walter Lippmann Colloquium.
icancho , April 6, 2019 at 2:20 pm
And well before that, as demonstrated clearly in Quinn Slobodian's recent "Globalists".
This stimulating book considers the historical development of the nexus of ideas and policy initiatives that fall under the umbrella term 'neoliberalism' -- the political-economic structures and processes that have given us expanding 'globalizing financialization', legal trade agreements that constrain national sovereignty, massively increasing asset and income disparities, and the consequent precariousness and stress -- even misery -- afflicting most of us.
Though neoliberalism's origin is commonly associated with the Mont Pèlerin Society, founded in 1947, and prominently with the figures of Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich von Hayek, and more recently with Milton Friedman and the "Chicago Boys", Slobodian demonstrates that neoliberalism's roots reach much deeper -- into the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire -- indeed of all traditional off-shore empires -- following WW1, and in subsequent decolonization and the rise of new nations with aspirations of their own. In large part, neoliberal order, with its international trade deals, was a response to the "problem" posed by the demands of these diverse new nations to join the 'developed' world on an equal footing with their erstwhile colonial overlords, and to take sovereign control of their own resources.
So, contrary to conventional understanding, neoliberalism did not spring fully-formed, post-WW2, from the foreheads of Walter Lippman, von Mises, or Hayek; indeed, the cast of characters playing their parts in this developing drama is a rather large one, and their origins, interconnections, and contributions are many and diverse, and often surprising.
Scott1 , April 5, 2019 at 2:42 pm
Mankind survived the collapse of Rome. Barbarism was ascendent in the West. Civilization rose again. This time the collapse will result in barbarism at the best.
The world problem is Climate Change. Climate change is a product of overpopulation & portable energy as that which creates Climate change.
The US Treasury creates currency when Congress Votes a Bill that requires it. What is required is an MMT principled Fund that pays for renewables, energy capture, nuclear power and those new machines that suck CO2 out of the air & turn it into clean hydrocarbon fuels. The machine has been invented by Carbon Engineering. Takes up 30 acres. Hundreds of thousands are needed to stabilize CO2 levels in the atmosphere.
Methane was never factored in very well into the 1970s understanding of what was then called Ecology. Now we know that the Methane being released by fracking and permafrost melting is already happening and will keep happening and accelerating so that there will be a Methane Bubble Melt. 10 to 15 years and all the Methane will melt.
I see what was expected to happen to earth with a population of 9 billion as happening at 7.5 billon or exactly where we are now. The expectation was that 9 billion was sustainable. 13 billion was said to be sustainable for 3 weeks.
Coral reefs are dying. Insects are dying. Diatoms are the bottom of the food chain in the oceans. They are dependent on coral reefs. Birds depend on insects and their populations are dwindling.
I consider MMT, the work of conceptual art that allows currency to be generated by bills passed by governments, or a World government, as a Last Chance Concept.
"The civilized work for what they want, while the barbarians steal what they want." In my civilization I am paid to do work. Concepts are made real as money is given out for what is not yet real. The young want to have families and the old want the world they helped build and make safe survive. Such compulsions are innate and often ethical. It is simply unethical to leave the world worse than you found it.
Idea to idea to real & Ideal is ideal. The American philosophy is ethical eclectic pragmatism. Climate Change is not just to be fought because it will get hotter but because the food chain will collapse. Other than from the MMT Funding for what it will take to possibly protect the food chain, what have we?
Susan the other` , April 5, 2019 at 3:00 pm
I think evil takes on a life of its own. Over the course of civilization it gets standardized. But what I see happening right now is a bunch of apoplectic, frantic "oligarchs" with egg on their face begging us all to help them change.
And none of us feel much warmth toward them. Somehow in the late 70s we the people, the laborers, small farmers, and mom & pops and small business got blamed for everything that went wrong. And austerity was force-fed to us. What went wrong was actually military hubris. Now there's an example of non-productive interest inflating away the empire. If the money had been used rationally we'd have created an equal, balanced society and encouraged others by our example. Humans have always chosen the things that work best. Somewhere, mid-century we freaked out and decided that we needed to control oil and growth but we were literally overtaken by our own successes – big agriculture, population growth and ponzi economics. The thing we have to do now is bring this mess back down to Earth. Requiring a fundamental change.
To change everything and turn it around. No more little tweaks of denial. Instead of the once successful "industrial" capitalism, what we must have now is environmental capitalism. Value and share the gains of preserving the planet. It sounds like a full reversion to a time before money, which is the symbol of material exploitation.
And it just so happens we still have the instinct for cooperation. The gains can be distributed to everyone. We just must find ways that preserve rather than destroy the planet. Same idea, different god. There are plenty of jobs to go around. We have good science and technology. We're not total idiots, yet. It only takes a minority of people to see the light and everything will change. I do think we are already there, except for the shouting, as they say.
Summer , April 5, 2019 at 4:59 pm
But those holding and near the levers of power are really sick and deluded individuals. And we have to understand this about the nukes (post 1945): They exist in case the USA loses a big war or doesn't get its way. Yes, that is the level of depravity that has developed.
flora , April 5, 2019 at 5:41 pm
Thanks so much for this series of posts on the ancient world and its comparison to today. I once read Seneca's "Letters from a Stoic" and was surprised to see/realize the considerable apparent overlap between stoicism – which was itself the continuation of an earlier tradition – and the early Christian church.
There is much in this series of posts to ponder.
The Rev Kev , April 6, 2019 at 12:00 am
A great article this with lots to chew on. What he says rings true from what I have read. After the second Punic war, Roman veterans found that the wealthy had seized their small farm holdings while they were gone and incorporated them into their own estates. These were to become the great Latifundium. Meanwhile, the dispossessed Romans veterans made their way to Rome and joined the plebs there. Over time, as the Roman army could not recruit these same type of landed men as the smaller holdings were being eliminated, the Romans had to resort to a professional standing body which no longer owed their allegiance to Rome but to whatever Roman general paid them – with disastrous results. Caesar was not the first here and the name Sulla also comes to mind. By the end of the empire the Romans were resorting to paying barbarian tribes to fight for them which worked, until it didn't. So in short, the greed of the wealthy in Rome destroyed the very thing that had made Rome so successful and resilient.
animalogic , April 6, 2019 at 8:09 am
I don't wish to mount a defense of the Republican Elite; the system did pressure towards money-love. However, there were counter balancing features. Money was vital, but so was virtue. Honour, courage, dignity were required.
A Roman aristocrat had to perform the minimum set required military campaigns. Only intellectual freaks such as Cicero could climb the hierarchy without making somekind of significant military achievement.
Caesar won the Laural crown (?) through genuine acts of bravery. Roman aristocrats risked their lives & died in war. And their troops knew it.
Other factors also tended to mitigate against the oligarchic instinct. For instance, Senators were legally barred from trade or money lending (& yes, they often got around such bans. ) Sumptuary laws were tried (& failed).
It should also be remembered that for all the economic polarisation, Roman citizenship was highly valued. The Roman's won the 2nd Punic , essentially because Hannibal fundamentally miscalculated -- Roman allies, Latins etc did not go over to Hannibal in hordes. They stayed loyal.
Mel , April 6, 2019 at 10:19 am
In Systems of Survival , Jane Jacobs meditated on different power structures. Some required virtus , steadfastness, etc., others, notably money power didn't.
Somebody, somewhere, wrote about alchemy's response to money, in seeking the Philosopher's Stone. That would be a chemical that could be transformed into anything in a chemical reaction, rather as money could in the market. I thought it was in Graeber's Debt , but it's not showing up there.
Amfortas the hippie , April 7, 2019 at 8:16 am
Philosopher's Stone= the Replicator Tech in Star Trek. costless production of basic needs. add in warp drive(=unlimited expansion, limited time-cost), and the inherent human traits that cause all the problems(ie: greed, etc) are overcome without having to fix/eliminate them just give them somewhere to go.(this is why i'm all for asteroid mining)
Mel , April 7, 2019 at 9:00 am
Boz Scaggs explained how money's unlimited shape-shifting power makes it infinitely attractive:
If you can be
Anyone you want to be,
Why'd you want to be
Jeremy Grimm , April 6, 2019 at 1:42 am
Several things trouble me about this post. People believe there is no alternative -- I disagree with that view. I'd restate the assertion as great efforts are and have been made to convince people there is no alternative. You don't need to be my age to learn a little about tax rates in the Eisenhower years. The economy did all right then. My impression talking with young people isn't that they believe there is no alternative, instead they have no idea how to make things change for the better, and neither do us old farts. Our democracy is broken. It no longer cares for the public good.
Money addiction -- I have trouble reconciling that concept with the short-term biases of the wealthy and their seeming lack of interest in economic growth. They aren't happy with a bigger slice of pie from a bigger pie. They want grow their slice from the pie relative to everyone else -- even if the pie grows smaller. Money as power, and an insatiable lust for power is more consistent with the actions of the oligarchs.
I think the concept of growth which shows up in several parts of the post needs some adjustment. Growth is tied to the consumption of fossil fuels as is increased CO2 in the atmosphere. Fossil fuels are nearing points of declining and unstable production. Unless growth can be decoupled from fossil fuels all the imperial control of what fossil fuels remain will do little but extend our time at the expense of others as we all race toward a point of collapse.
Some of the discussion of Neoliberalism confuses me. -- Neoliberalism is not the same as laissez-faire or neoclassical economics.
"That leaves the question facing us today: Is the American oligarchy and state as rapacious as that of Rome?" -- I'm not sure this post really answered that opening question. I believe the American oligarchy, while continuing in the long tradition of oligarchic depredation, is much more rapacious than that of Rome and much more dangerous as the world rushes toward collapse. After the fossil fuels are gone there are no more. The Climate is already lurching into chaos and may have already crossed a point of no near-term return to the relatively mild and stable climate immediately preceding the Anthropocene.
Thermonuclear weapons scattered in many hands adds existential danger to the threats posed by the American oligarchy and Power Elite structures and their insane lust for power.
Other than these quibbles, this is a remarkable series of posts presenting what to me is a very new view of the ancient world. It offers a much better understanding of the ancient world and some of its key literature and early writings. Time to order some books [I still haven't ordered a copy of "Forgive Them Their Debts" and now have to add a copy of this most recent book.]
McWatt , April 6, 2019 at 7:18 am
Had lunch with one of the "Chicago Boys" that Hudson describes as the source of economics current woes.
After that lunch, which was a discussion of many of Michael's themes, I completely agree with his assessment of what they have wrought. While the Chicago Boys may profess to have Mill and Ricardo as hero's, as Hudson does, Mills and Ricardo's theories are obliterated by the way the Chicago Boys have completely fallen in love with Ayn Rand's philosophy. Everyone is on their own. The rich are rich because they are naturally better at stuff than those who are not. They hate government regulation, they view government as the creator of problems, they have no compunction for watching the population sink into debt and penury. After all "it's their own look out".
Funny, when you read things abstractly on a wonderful site like Naked Capitalism, but then witness this terrible philosophy first hand, suddenly things are not so abstract. Michael's right.
Apr 09, 2019 | failedevolution.blogspot.com
The start of current decade revealed the most ruthless face of a global neo-colonialism. From Syria and Libya to Europe and Latin America, the old colonial powers of the West tried to rebound against an oncoming rival bloc led by Russia and China, which starts to threaten their global domination.
Inside a multi-polar, complex terrain of geopolitical games, the big players start to abandon the old-fashioned, inefficient direct wars. They use today other, various methods like brutal proxy wars , economic wars, financial and constitutional coups, provocative operations, 'color revolutions', etc. In this highly complex and unstable situation, when even traditional allies turn against each other as the global balances change rapidly, the forces unleashed are absolutely destructive. Inevitably, the results are more than evident.
Proxy Wars - Syria/Libya
After the US invasion in Iraq, the gates of hell had opened in the Middle East. Obama continued the Bush legacy of US endless interventions, but he had to change tactics because a direct war would be inefficient, costly and extremely unpopular to the American people and the rest of the world.
The result, however, appeared to be equally (if not more) devastating with the failed US invasions in Iraq and Afghanistan. The US had lost total control of the armed groups directly linked with the ISIS terrorists, failed to topple Assad, and, moreover, instead of eliminating the Russian and Iranian influence in the region, actually managed to increase it. As a result, the US and its allies failed to secure their geopolitical interests around the various pipeline games.
In addition, the US sees Turkey, one of its most important ally, changing direction dangerously, away from the Western bloc. Probably the strongest indication for this, is that Turkey, Iran and Russia decided very recently to proceed in an agreement on Syria without the presence of the US.
Yet, the list of US failures does not end here. The destruction of Syria and Libya created massive refugee flows which have proved that the European Union was totally unprepared to deal with such a major issue. On top of that, the latest years, we have witnessed a rapid rise of various terrorist attacks in Western soil, also as a result of the devastating wars in Syria and Libya.
Evidence from WikiLeaks has shown that the old colonial powers have started a new round of ruthless competition on Libya's resources. The usual story propagated by the Western media, about another tyrant who had to be removed, has now completely collapsed. They don't care neither to topple an 'authoritarian' regime, nor to spread Democracy. All they care about is to secure each country's resources for their big companies.
The Gaddafi case is quite interesting because it shows that the Western hypocrites were using him according to their interests .
Whenever they wanted to blame someone for some serious terrorist attacks, they had a scapegoat ready for them, even if they had evidence that Libya was not behind these attacks. When Gaddafi falsely admitted that he had weapons of mass destruction in order to gain some relief from the Western sanctions, they presented him as a responsible leader who, was ready to cooperate. Of course, his last role was to play again the 'bad guy' who had to be removed.
Economic Wars, Financial Coups – Greece/Eurozone
It would be unthinkable for the neo-colonialists to conduct proxy wars inside European soil, especially against countries which belong to Western institutions like NATO, EU, eurozone, etc. The wave of the US-made major economic crisis hit Greece and Europe at the start of the decade, almost simultaneously with the eruption of the Arab Spring revolutionary wave and the subsequent disaster in Middle East and Libya.
Greece was the easy victim for the global neoliberal dictatorship to impose catastrophic measures in favor of the plutocracy. The Greek experiment enters its seventh year and the plan is to be used as a model for the whole eurozone. Greece has become also the model for the looting of public property, as happened in the past with the East Germany and the Treuhand Operation after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
While Greece was the major victim of an economic war, Germany used its economic power and control of the European Central Bank to impose unprecedented austerity, sado-monetarism and neoliberal destruction through silent financial coups in Ireland , Italy and Cyprus . The Greek political establishment collapsed with the rise of SYRIZA in power, and the ECB was forced to proceed in an open financial coup against Greece when the current PM, Alexis Tsipras, decided to conduct a referendum on the catastrophic measures imposed by the ECB, IMF and the European Commission, through which the Greek people clearly rejected these measures, despite the propaganda of terror inside and outside Greece. Due to the direct threat from Mario Draghi and the ECB, who actually threatened to cut liquidity sinking Greece into a financial chaos, Tsipras finally forced to retreat, signing another catastrophic memorandum.
Through similar financial and political pressure, the Brussels bureaufascists and the German sado-monetarists along with the IMF economic hitmen, imposed neoliberal disaster to other eurozone countries like Portugal, Spain etc. It is remarkable that even the second eurozone economy, France, rushed to impose anti-labor measures midst terrorist attacks, succumbing to a - pre-designed by the elites - neo-Feudalism, under the 'Socialist' François Hollande, despite the intense protests in many French cities.
Germany would never let the United States to lead the neo-colonization in Europe, as it tries (again) to become a major power with its own sphere of influence, expanding throughout eurozone and beyond. As the situation in Europe becomes more and more critical with the ongoing economic and refugee crisis and the rise of the Far-Right and the nationalists, the economic war mostly between the US and the German big capital, creates an even more complicated situation.
The decline of the US-German relations has been exposed initially with the NSA interceptions scandal , yet, progressively, the big picture came on surface, revealing a transatlantic economic war between banking and corporate giants. In times of huge multilevel crises, the big capital always intensifies its efforts to eliminate competitors too. As a consequence, the US has seen another key ally, Germany, trying to gain a certain degree of independence in order to form its own agenda, separate from the US interests.
Note that, both Germany and Turkey are medium powers that, historically, always trying to expand and create their own spheres of influence, seeking independence from the traditional big powers.
Economic Wars, Constitutional Coups, Provocative Operations – Argentina/Brazil/Venezuela
A wave of neoliberal onslaught shakes currently Latin America. While in Argentina, Mauricio Macri allegedly took the power normally, the constitutional coup against Dilma Rousseff in Brazil, as well as, the usual actions of the Right opposition in Venezuela against Nicolás Maduro with the help of the US finger, are far more obvious.
The special weight of these three countries in Latin America is extremely important for the US imperialism to regain ground in the global geopolitical arena. Especially the last ten to fifteen years, each of them developed increasingly autonomous policies away from the US close custody, under Leftist governments, and this was something that alarmed the US imperialism components.
Brazil appears to be the most important among the three, not only due to its size, but also as a member of the BRICS, the team of fast growing economies who threaten the US and generally the Western global dominance. The constitutional coup against Rousseff was rather a sloppy action and reveals the anxiety of the US establishment to regain control through puppet regimes. This is a well-known situation from the past through which the establishment attempts to secure absolute dominance in the US backyard.
The importance of Venezuela due to its oil reserves is also significant. When Maduro tried to approach Russia in order to strengthen the economic cooperation between the two countries, he must had set the alarm for the neocons in the US. Venezuela could find an alternative in Russia and BRICS, in order to breathe from the multiple economic war that was set off by the US. It is characteristic that the economic war against Russia by the US and the Saudis, by keeping the oil prices in historically low levels, had significant impact on the Venezuelan economy too. It is also known that the US organizations are funding the opposition since Chávez era, in order to proceed in provocative operations that could overthrow the Leftist governments.
The case of Venezuela is really interesting. The US imperialists were fiercely trying to overthrow the Leftist governments since Chávez administration. They found now a weaker president, Nicolás Maduro - who certainly does not have the strength and personality of Hugo Chávez - to achieve their goal.
The Western media mouthpieces are doing their job, which is propaganda as usual. The recipe is known. You present the half truth, with a big overdose of exaggeration. The establishment parrots are demonizing Socialism , but they won't ever tell you about the money that the US is spending, feeding the Right-Wing groups and opposition to proceed in provocative operations, in order to create instability. They won't tell you about the financial war conducted through the oil prices, manipulated by the Saudis, the close US ally.
Regarding Argentina, former president, Cristina Kirchner, had also made some important moves towards the stronger cooperation with Russia, which was something unacceptable for Washington's hawks. Not only for geopolitical reasons, but also because Argentina could escape from the vulture funds that sucking its blood since its default. This would give the country an alternative to the neoliberal monopoly of destruction. The US big banks and corporations would never accept such a perspective because the debt-enslaved Argentina is a golden opportunity for a new round of huge profits. It's happening right now in eurozone's debt colony, Greece.
'Color Revolutions' - Ukraine
The events in Ukraine have shown that, the big capital has no hesitation to ally even with the neo-nazis, in order to impose the new world order. This is not something new of course. The connection of Hitler with the German economic oligarchs, but also with other major Western companies, before and during the WWII, is well known.
The most terrifying of all however, is not that the West has silenced in front of the decrees of the new Ukrainian leadership, through which is targeting the minorities, but the fact that the West allied with the neo-nazis, while according to some information has also funded their actions as well as other extreme nationalist groups during the riots in Kiev.
Plenty of indications show that US organizations have 'put their finger' on Ukraine. A video , for example, concerning the situation in Ukraine has been directed by Ben Moses (creator of the movie "Good Morning, Vietnam"), who is connected with American government executives and organizations like National Endowment for Democracy, funded by the US Congress. This video shows a beautiful young female Ukrainian who characterizes the government of the country as "dictatorship" and praise some protesters with the neo-nazi symbols of the fascist Ukranian party Svoboda on them.
The same organizations are behind 'color revolutions' elsewhere, as well as, provocative operations against Leftist governments in Venezuela and other countries.
Ukraine is the perfect place to provoke Putin and tight the noose around Russia. Of course the huge hypocrisy of the West can also be identified in the case of Crimea. While in other cases, the Western officials were 'screaming' for the right of self-determination (like Kosovo, for example), after they destroyed Yugoslavia in a bloodbath, they can't recognize the will of the majority of Crimeans to join Russia.
The war will become wilder
The Western neo-colonial powers are trying to counterattack against the geopolitical upgrade of Russia and the Chinese economic expansionism.
Despite the rise of Donald Trump in power, the neoliberal forces will push further for the expansion of the neoliberal doctrine in the rival field of the Sino-Russian alliance. Besides, Trump has already shown his hostile feelings against China, despite his friendly approach to Russia and Putin.
We see, however, that the Western alliances are entering a period of severe crisis. The US has failed to control the situation in Middle East and Libya. The ruthless neo-colonialists will not hesitate to confront Russia and China directly, if they see that they continue to lose control in the global geopolitical arena. The accumulation of military presence of NATO next to the Russian borders, as well as, the accumulation of military presence of the US in Asia-Pacific, show that this is an undeniable fact.
Apr 09, 2019 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com
For its part, the United States insists on running Ukraine, appointing a special envoy – Kurt Volker – to preserve its feeling of international importance after it was pointedly left out of the Normandy Format; Meddlers R Us; we don't need no steenking invitations.
A glance over trade statistics suggests this was a wise choice for the Exceptional Nation – the year before the Glorious Maidan, Revolution of Dignity, the USA did around $3 Billion worth of trade with Ukraine, selling it $1.92 Billion worth of goods and services, and buying $1.03 Billion worth of goods and services from it, posting an American trade surplus of $888 Million. Last year the USA did around $4 Billion worth of trade with Ukraine, selling it $2.46 Billion in goods and services, and buying $1.35 Billion worth of goods and services from it, handsomely increasing the American trade surplus to $1.13 Billion. Considering Ukraine is impoverished and living on handouts, while the per-capita GDP has fallen by more than 6% despite the country having lost about 3 million people (Ukraine's population today is almost exactly what it was in 1960), that's quite an achievement.
Apr 08, 2019 | www.unz.com
Note: Michael Hudson published and forgive them their debts: Lending, Foreclosure, and Redemption From Bronze Age Finance to the Jubilee Year in November of last year. It is the first volume in what will be a trilogy on the long history of the tyranny of debt. I have interviewed him extensively as he writes the second volume, The Collapse of Antiquity.
John Siman : Michael, in the first volume of your history of debt -- "
ORDER IT NOW
and forgive them their debts , dealing with the Bronze Age Near East, Judaism and early Christianity -- you showed how over thousands of years, going back to the invention of interest-bearing loans in Mesopotamia in the third millennium BC, many kings from a variety of Mesopotamian civilizations proclaimed Clean Slate debt cancellations on a more or less regular basis. And you showed that these royal proclamations of debt amnesty rescued the lower classes from debt bondage, maintaining a workable economic balance over many centuries. Because these kings were so powerful -- and, let's say, enlightened -- they were able to prevent the social and economic polarization that is inevitable when there is no check on an oligarchic creditor class extracting exponentially increasing interest from debtors.
But now, as you write the second volume, your theme gets turned upside down. You are showing how the Greeks and the Romans learned about interest-bearing debt from their contacts with Middle Eastern civilizations, but tragically failed to institute programs of Clean Slate debt amnesty. Their failure has been a kind of albatross around the neck of Western economies ever since.
So I'd like to start this conversation in the late 500s BC, because we can see at that time the beginnings of both the Athenian democracy and the Roman Republic, plus of two more important civilizations. First was the Athens of Cleisthenes, who had led the overthrow the "tyrant" Hippias and became the father of Athenian democracy. Second, there was the Roman Republic of Lucius Junius Brutus, who overthrew the last of Rome's legendary kings, the "tyrant" Tarquinius Superbus.Third was the Persian civilization of Cyrus the Great. He was a "divine king," in many ways in the ancient tradition of Hammurabi. Fourth were the post-exilic Jews of Ezra and Nehemiah, who returned to Jerusalem, rebuilt the Temple and redacted the Bible. They were the inventors of the Jubilee years of Clean Slate debt forgiveness, even though they depicted the teaching as coming from Moses.
So, beginning with the late 500s BC, to what extent was the notion of Clean Slate debt amnesty remembered, and to what extent was it rejected?
Michael Hudson : Every kind of reform, from Mesopotamia to Greece, was put forth as if it simply restored the way things were in the beginning. There was no concept of linear progress in Antiquity. They thought that there was only one way to do things, so any reform must be the way the world was meant to be in the very beginning. All reformers would say that in the beginning everybody must have been equal. Their reform was aimed at restoring this state of affairs.
That's why, when Plutarch and even the Spartan kings in the third century BC talked about canceling debts and promoting equality, they said that they were simply restoring the original system that Lycurgus had created. But there was no sign that Lycurgus had really done these things. It was made up. Lycurgus was a legendary figure. So was Moses in the Jewish tradition. When the Bible was redacted and put together after the return from Babylon, they put debt cancellation and land redistribution -- the Jubilee Year -- right in the center of Mosaic Law. So it seemed that this was not an innovation, but what Moses said in the beginning. They created a Moses figure much like the Greeks created a Lycurgus figure. They said that this is how things were meant to be. This is how it was in the beginning -- and it just happened to be their own program.
This was a projection backwards: a retrojection. Felix Jacoby wrote that Athenian history was that way, basically party pamphleteering projecting their ideal program back to Solon or to whomever one might choose as a good guy to model. Writers would then say that this original good guy supported the program that they were proposing in their epoch. This was the ancient analogy to "Constitutional Originalism" in the United States as a frame for right-wing policies.
JS : So, ever since the 500s BC, the surefire way to critique the status quo has been to say you are trying to go back to the Garden of Eden or to some other pristine Saturnian Golden Age.
MH : Yes, you want to say that the unfair world around you isn't what was meant, so this couldn't have been the original plan, because the past had to be a successful takeoff. So the program that reformers always turned out to be what the Founding Fathers meant.
JS : That's veryinspirational!
MH : The key is to appear as a conservative, not a radical. You accuse the existing status quo as being the beneficiaries of the radicals who have distorted the original Fair Plan that you're trying to restore.
JS : So in the 500s BC we have Cyrus -- and his inscription on the Cyrus Cylinder -- boasting that he freed the Babylonians from their tax debt and bonds, and we have the post-exilic Jews proclaiming d'ror [דְּרֹ֛ור] in Leviticus 25, proclaiming "liberty throughout the land." We also have the reforms of Cleisthenes in Athens, isonomia [ἰσονομία, literally, equality under the law], a genuine attempt at democracy. But let's start with Rome. What do you want to say about the nova libertas , the "new liberty" proclaimed in Rome after the last king was expelled and the Republic was founded? Didn't Brutus and his wellborn friends boast that they were the institutors of true liberty?
MH : Liberty for them was the liberty to destroy that of the population at large. Instead of cancelling debts and restoring land tenure to the population, the oligarchy created the Senate that protected the right of creditors to enslave labor and seize public as well as private lands (just as had occurred in Athens before Solon). Instead of restoring a status quo ante of free cultivators -- free of debt and tax obligations, as Sumerian amargi and Babylonian misharum and andurarum meant -- the Roman oligarchy accused anyone of supporting debtor rights and opposing its land grabs of "seeking kingship." Such men were murdered, century after century.
Rome was turned into an oligarchy, an autocracy of the senatorial families. Their "liberty" was an early example of Orwellian Doublethink. It was to destroy everybody else's liberty so they could grab whatever they could, enslave the debtors and create the polarized society that Rome became.
JS : OK, but this program worked. The Republic grew and grew and conquered everyone else for century after century. Then the Principate became the supreme power in the Western world for several more centuries.
MH : It worked by looting and stripping other societies. That can only continue as long as there is some society to loot and destroy. Once there were no more kingdoms for Rome to destroy, it collapsed from within. It was basically a looting economy. And it didn't do more than the British colonialists did: It only scratched the surface. It didn't put in place the means of production that would create enough money for them to grow productively. Essentially, Rome was a financial rentier state .
Rentiers don't create production. They live off existing production, they don't create it. That's why the classical economists said they were supporting industrial capitalists, not British landlords, not monopolists and not predatory banks.
JS : This has all been forgotten, both in the United States and in England --
MH : Let's say, expurgated from the curriculum.
JS : Worse than forgotten!
MH : That's why you don't have any history of economic thought taught anymore in the United States. Because then you'd see that Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill and the "Ricardian socialists" and indeed most of the 19th century had a completely opposite idea of what constituted a free market.
JS : Opposite? How so?
MH : Opposite from the neoliberal idea that freedom means freedom for the wealthy to indebt and destroy the economy. Opposite from the liberty of Brutus to overthrow the Roman kings and establish an autocratic oligarchy.
JS : So do we want to see the Roman kings as defenders of the people -- defending them from predatory oligarchs?
MH : Yes, especially Servius Tullius. There was a great flowering of Rome, making it attractive to immigrants by making the city livable for newcomers. They did this because at that time, in the 6th century BC, all societies had a shortage of labor. Labor was the factor of production in short supply, not land. Not even in Athens was land in short supply in the 6th and 5th centuries. You needed labor, and so you had to make it attractive for immigrants to join your society instead of having your people run away, as they would in a society run by creditors reducing clients to bondage.
JS : So you are writing about how Roman liberty was actually the liberty of oligarchic creditors from populist pressures for debt forgiveness. What of the d'ror of Leviticus 25 -- the liberty of the postexilic Jews? Did they actually proclaim years of Jubilee in which debts were forgiven and bondservants were returned to their families?
MH : After the Babylonian Jews returned to Jerusalem, I'm sure that they said that it was time for the land to be returned to its original owners -- and their families, by the way, were the original owners who were exiled in the Babylonian Captivity. I rely largely on Baruch Levine for this idea of the ge'ullah [גְּאֻלָּה], saying give us back our ancestral lands. [See thecolloquium Levine and Hudson co-edited on Land and Urbanization in the Ancient Near East , and their preceding volume on ancient privatization.] There must have been some kind of settlement along those lines. Unfortunately, the Judaic lands did not keep their records on on clay tablets that could be thrown out and recovered thousands of years later. We don't have any record of their economic history after the Return.
JS : Now I've brought along the transcriptions of several Egyptian papyri for you to look at. I also want to show you a papyrus in Aramaic from Judæa. It's not direct evidence that the post-exilic Jews were having Jubilee years, but it's indirect evidence, because it says that a particular debt has to be paid, even during a time of general debt amnesty, even if it falls due in a shmita [שמיטה], a sabbath year. So it sounds like the Jews were finding loopholes --
MH : It certainly sounds like it! Babylonian creditors tried a similar ploy, but this was disallowed. (We have court records confirming the realm's misharum acts.)
JS : In the Mosaic commandments to forgive debt, can we infer that there was some sort of program of debt forgiveness in place already in place in postexilic Jerusalem?
MH : Yes, but it ended with Rabbi Hillel and the Prozbul clause. Debtors had to sign this clause at the end of their debt contracts saying that they waived their rights under the Jubilee year in order to get a loan. That was why Jesus fought against the Pharisees and the rabbinical leadership. That's what Luke 4 is all about [ And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord" = the Jubilee year.] Luke also pointed out that the Pharisees loved money!
JS : Let me ask you about Egypt here. Unfortunately, as you said, the postexilic Jews did not leave us any clay tablets and almost no papyri, but we do have loads of papyri concerning the Ptolemaic kings of Egypt. So from, say, 300 B.C. to the death of Cleopatra, we have official evidence that the Egyptian kings proclaimed debt amnesties. Maybe one of the reasons, or perhaps the main reason for this, is because they were so powerful, like the Mesopotamian kings. So even though the Ptolemaic kings were biologically and genetically Macedonian Greek -- married to their sisters, too -- they aspired to rule in the ancient Egyptian pharaonic tradition of We Are God-Kings and We Own Everything in the Kingdom.
MH : Certainly the Hellenistic kings had the ancient pharaonic Sed festivals, which go back thousands of years and were a kind of jubilee. The Egyptians had regular debt cancellations, because under the pharaohs the debts that would have been cancelled were basically tax debts. They were owed to the crown, so he was cancelling debts owed to himself ultimately. And we see this thousands of years later in the trilingual stone, the Rosetta Stone, which the priests wrote for that young boy who was Ptolemy V. They explained to him that this is how Egypt always had done it, and to act as a pharaoh, he had to do the same.
JS : And I think it is worth pointing out here that the same verb-plus-noun combination for forgiving debts that the priests used in Greek on the Rosetta Stone is also used by Matthew in the Lord's Prayer [ἀφῆκεν/ἄφες ὀφειλήματα, aphēken/aphes opheilēmata]. It shows up in lots of papyri. The same Greek verb and noun, again and again and again.
But let's go back to the Greeks of the 500s BC. They are a couple of hundred years out of their Dark Age, so their society has been reconstituted after the demographic wipeout. It's been reconstituted, but without Near Eastern-style "divine kingship" and its Clean Slate proclamations. Just the opposite. Socrates had conversations with the rhapsodes who had memorized and recited the Iliad . Even in their great epic, the Greeks' legendary king of kings Agamemnon comes across as a kind of narcissistic loser. How would you describe Greek kingship, especially the so-called tyrants?
MH : There never really were Greek kings of the type found throughout the Bronze Age Near East and surviving into the first millennium in Assyria and even in Persia. The Greek polities that emerged from their Dark Age were run by what shrewd Classicists call mafiosi , something like the post-Soviet kleptocrats. They formed closed political monopolies reducing local populations to clientage and dependency. In one polity after another they were overthrown and exiled, mainly by aristocratic reformers from the elite families (often secondary branches, as was Solon). Later oligarchic writers called them "tyrants" as an invective, much as the word rex -- king -- became an invective in oligarchic Rome.
These tyrant-reformers consolidated their power by redistributing land from the leading families (or in Sparta, land conquered from Messenia, along with its population reduced to helotage) to the citizen-army at large all over Greece – except in Athens. That was one of the most reactionary cities in the 7th century, as shown by what is known about the laws of Draco. After some abortive coups in the seventh century, Solon was appointed in 594 to avoid the kind of revolution that had led reformer "tyrants" to overthrow narrow aristocracies in neighboring Megara and Corinth. Solon decreed a half-way reform, abolishing debt slavery (but not the debtor's obligation to work off debts with his own labor), and did not redistribute Athenian land from the city's elites.
Athens was one of the last to reform but then because it was such a badly polarized autocratic society, it swung -- like Newton's Third Law of Motion: every action has an equal and opposite reaction -- it swung to become the most democratic of all the Greek polities.
Some historians in the past speculated that Solon might somehow have been influenced by Judaic law or other Near Eastern practice, but this is not realistic. I think Solon was simply a pragmatist responding to widespread demands that he do what the reformers -- the so-called tyrants -- were doing throughout Greece. He didn't redistribute the land like they did, but he at least ended outright debt slavery. Free debtors (mainly cultivators on the land) were being seized and sold outside of Athens to slave dealers. Solon also tried to recover some of the land that wealthy families had grabbed. At least, that's what he wrote in his poems describing his actions.
So to answer your question, I think debt cancellations were not a diffusionist policy from the East, but a spontaneous pragmatic response such as was being widely advocated as far west as Rome with its Secession of the Plebs a century later -- followed by much of Greece in the 4th century BC, and Sparta's kings in the late 3rd century BC.
Poorer Athenians were so angry with Solon for being not revolutionary enough that he went into exile for 10 years. The real creators of Athenian democracy were Peisistratos [died 528/7 BC], his sons, also called tyrants, and then Cleisthenes in 507. He was a member of the wealthy but outcast family, the Alcmaeonidae, who had been expelled in the 7th century. Solon had allowed them to return, and they were backed by Delphi (to which the family contributed heavily). Cleisthenes fought against the other oligarchic families and restructured Athenian politics on the basis of locality instead of clan membership. Servius Tullius is credited for enacting much the same reform in Rome. Lewis Henry Morgan's Ancient Society  described this restructuring of voting districts as the great watershed creation of western-style democracy.
JS : Let me go back now to the way Athens and the other poleis emerged from the Dark Age.
MH : Judging from the art and pottery, Greece didn't begin to recover until the 8th century BC.
JS : So we're talking about the 700s BC. As Greece was learning from the Near Eastern civilizations, everything from mythology to the alphabet to weights and measures --
MH : And commercial practices, credit practices.
JS : Yes, all this came from the Near East, including the practice of charging interest. But what about Clean Slate debt amnesty? I want to argue logically here -- not from any hard historical evidence, but only deductively -- that the Greeks would have wanted the concept of Clean Slate debt forgiveness, they would have wanted to learn this too from the Near East, but they could not do it because they were always going to lack a Hammurabi-style "divine king."
MH : I think you miss the whole point of how Western civilization evolved here. First of all, who "wanted" Near Eastern kingship? Certainly not the emerging oligarchies. The ruling elites wanted to use interest-bearing debt to enrich themselves – by obtaining control over the labor power of debtors.
Second, I don't think the Greeks and Italians knew about Near Eastern royal proclamations, except as an alien practice much further East than Asia Minor. Falling into debt was a disaster for the poor, but a means for their Western patrons to gain power, land and wealth. There is no record of anyone suggesting that they should be in the Near East. The connection between the Near East and Greece or Italy was via traders. If you're a Phoenician or Syrian merchant with the Aegean or Italy, you're going to set up a temple as an intermediary, typically on an island. Such temples became the cosmopolitan meeting places where you had the oligarchs of the leading families of Greek cities visiting each other as part of a Pan-Hellenic group. You could say that Delphi was the "Davos" of its day.
It was through these trading centers that culture diffused – via the wealthiest families who travelled and established relationships with other leading families. Finance and trade have always been cosmopolitan. These families learned about debt obligations and contracts from the Near East, and ended up reducing much of their local populations to clientage, without kings to overrule them. That would have been the last thing they wanted.
JS : So absent Hammurabi-style "divine kingship," is debt bondage and brutal polarization almost inevitably going to happen in any society that adopts interest-bearing debt?
MH : We see a balance of forces in the ancient Near East, thanks to the fact that its rulers had authority to cancel debt and restore land that wealthy individuals had taken from smallholders. These kings were powerful enough to prevent the rise of oligarchies that would reduce the population to debt peonage and bondage (and in the process, deprive the palace of revenue and corvée labor, and even the military service of debtors owing their labor to their private creditors). We don't have any similar protection in today's Western Civilization. That's what separates Western Civilization from the earlier Near Eastern stage. Modern financialized civilization has stripped away the power to prevent a land-grabbing creditor oligarchy from controlling society and its laws.
So you could characterize Western Civilization is being decadent. It's reducing populations to austerity on a road to debt peonage. Today's new oligarchy calls this a "free market," but it is the opposite of freedom. You can think of the Greek and Roman decontextualization of Near Eastern economic regulations as if the IMF had been put in charge of Greece and Rome, poisoning its legal and political philosophy at the outset. So Western Civilization may be just a vast detour. That's what my forthcoming book, The Collapse of Antiquity, is all about. That will be the second volume in my trilogy on the history of debt.
JS : So are we just a vast detour?
MH : We have to restore a balanced economy where the oligarchy is controlled, so as to prevent the financial sector from impoverishing society, imposing austerity and reducing the population to clientage and debt serfdom.
JS : How do you do that without a Hammurabi-style "divine kingship"?
MH : You need civil law to do what Near Eastern kings once did. You need a body of civil law with a strong democratic government acting to shape markets in society's overall long-term interest, not that of the One Percent obtaining wealth by impoverishing the 99 Percent. You need civil law that protects the population from an oligarchy whose business plan is to accumulate wealth in ways that impoverish the economy at large. This requires a body of civil law that would cancel debts when they grow too large for the population to pay. That probably requires public banking and credit – in other words, deprivatization of banking that has become dysfunctional.
All this requires a mixed economy, such as the Bronze Age Near Eastern economies were. The palace, temples, private sector and entrepreneurs acted as checks and balances on each other. Western Civilization isn't a mixed economy. Socialism was an attempt to create a mixed economy, but the oligarchs fought back. What they call a "free market" is an unmixed monolithic, centrally planned financialized economy with freedom for the oligarchy to impoverish the rest of society. That was achieved by landlordism monopolizing the land in feudal Europe, and it is done by finance today.Part 2: Mixed Economies Today, Compared to Those of Antiquity
John Siman : Could you define what you mean by a mixed economy ?
Michael Hudson : There are many degrees of how "mixed" an economy will be -- meaning in practice, how active its government sector will be in regulating markets, prices and credit, and investing in public infrastructure.
In the 20 th century's Progressive Era a century ago, a "mixed economy" meant keeping natural monopolies in the public sector: transportation, the post office, education, health care, and so forth. The aim was to save the economy from monopoly rent by a either direct public ownership or government regulation to prevent price gouging by monopolies.
The kind of "mixed economy" envisioned by Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill and other classical 19 th century free market economists aimed at saving the economy from land rent paid to Europe's hereditary landlord class. Either the government would tax away the land's rent, or would nationalize it by taking land out of the hands of landlords. The idea was to free markets from economic rent ("unearned income") in general, including monopoly rents, and also to subsidize basic needs to create a price-competitive national economy.
Long before that, in the Bronze Age -- which I describe in and forgive them their debts -- the palace reversed the buildup of personal and agrarian debts by annulling them on a more or less regular basis. This freed the economy from the overgrowth of debt that tended to build up chronically from the mathematical dynamics of compound interest, and from crop failures or other normal "market" phenomenon.
In all these cases a mixed economy was designed to maintain stability and avoid exploitation that otherwise would lead to economic polarization.
JS: So a mixed economy is still a market economy?
MH : Yes. All these degrees of "mixed economy" were market economies. But their markets were regulated and subordinated to broad social and political objectives rather than to personal rent-seeking or creditor gains. Their economic philosophy was long-term, not short-term, and aimed at preventing economic imbalance from debt and land monopoly.
Today's "mixed economy" usually means an active public sector undertaking investment in infrastructure and controlling money and credit, and shaping the context of laws within which the economy operates. This is best understood by contrasting it to what neoliberals call a "pure" or "market" economy – including what the Trump administration accuses China of when it proposes countervailing tariffs to shape the U.S. and international market in a way that favors American corporations and banks.
So it is necessary to clear the terminological slate before going into more detail. Every economy is a "market economy" of some sort or another. What is at issue is how large a role governments will play -- specifically, how much it will regulate, how much it will tax, how much it will invest directly into the economy's infrastructure and other means of production or act as a creditor and regulator of the monetary and banking system.
JS: What can we learn from the mixed economies of the Ancient Near East? Why were they so prosperous and also stable for so long?
MH : The Bronze Age mixed economies of Sumer, Babylonia, Egypt and their Near Eastern neighbors were subject to "divine kingship," that is, the ability of kings to intervene to keep restoring an economy free of personal and rural debt, so as to maintain a situation where the citizenry on the land was able to serve in the military, provide corvée labor to create basic infrastructure, and pay fees or taxes to the palace and temples.
Mesopotamian rulers proclaimed Clean Slates to keep restoring an idealized status quo ante of free labor (free from debt bondage). Babylonian rulers had a more realistic view of the economy than today's mainstream economists. They recognized that economies tended to polarize between wealthy creditors and debtors if what today are called "market forces" are not overridden -- especially the "market forces" of debt, personal liberty or bondage, and land rent. The task of Bronze Age rulers in their kind of mixed economy was to act from "above" the market so as to prevent creditors from reducing the king's subjects (who were their military defense force) to bondage from appropriating their land tenure rights. By protecting debtors, strong rulers also prevented creditors from becoming an oligarchic power in opposition to themselves.
JS: What kind of economic theories and economic models are the critics of mixed economies trying to advance?
MH : Opponents of a mixed economy have developed an "equilibrium theory" claiming to show that markets come to a natural, fair and stable balance without any government "interference." Their promise is that if governments will refrain from regulating prices and credit, from investing and from providing public services, economies will settle naturally at a highly efficient level. This level will be stable, unless "destabilized" by government "interference." Instead of viewing public investment as saving the economy from monopoly rent and debt peonage, the government itself is described as a "rent seeker" exploiting and impoverishing the economy.
JS: But is this sort of economic theory legitimate, or just a libertarian-sounding camouflage for neoliberal pillage?
MH : It's Orwellian Doublethink. Today's neoliberal theory justifies oligarchies breaking free of public control to appropriate the economic surplus by indebting economies to skim off the economic surplus as interest and then foreclose on personal landholdings and public property, overthrowing "mixed economies" to create a "pure oligarchy." Their idea of a free market is one free for creditors and monopolists to deny economic freedom to the rest of the population. The political extension of this approach in antiquity was to unseat kings and civic regimes, to concentrate power in the hands of an increasingly predatory class reducing the economy to bondage, impoverishing it, and ultimately leaving it to be conquered by outsiders. That is what happened to Rome in Late Antiquity.
Advocates of strong government have a diametrically opposite mathematical model. Ever since the Bronze Age, they recognized that the "natural" tendency of economies is to polarize between a wealthy creditor and land-owning class and the rest of society. Bronze Age rulers recognized that debts tend to grow faster than the ability to pay (that is, faster than the economy). Babylonian rulers recognized that if rulers did not intervene to cancel personal debts (mainly agrarian debts by cultivators) when crops failed, when military action interfered, or simply when debts built up over time, then creditors would end up taking the crop surplus and even the labor services of debtors as interest, and finally foreclosing on the land. This would have deprived the palatial economy of land and labor contributions. And by enriching an independent class of creditors (on their way to becoming large landowners) outside of the palace, financial wealth would express itself in economic and even military power. An incipient financial and landholding oligarchy would mount its own military and political campaign to unseat rulers and dismantle the mixed palatial/private economy to create one that was owned and controlled by oligarchies.
The result in Classical Antiquity was economic polarization leading to austerity and bondage, grinding the economy to a halt. That is the tendency of economies in "unmixed" economies where the public sector is privatized and economic regulation is dismantled. Land and credit was monopolized and smallholders became dependent clients and ultimately were replaced by slaves.
Mixed economies by the late 19 th century aimed at minimizing market prices for real estate and monopoly goods, and for credit. The economic aim was to minimize the cost of living and doing business so as to make economies more productive. This was called "socialism" as the natural outgrowth of industrial capitalism protecting itself from the most burdensome legacies of feudalism: an absentee landlord class, and a banking class whose money-lending was not productive but predatory.
JS: So mixed economies require strong and ultimately good governments.
MH : Any "mixed" economy has some basic economic theory of what the proper role of government is. At the very least, as in the 20 th century, this included the limitation of monopoly rents. The neoclassical (that is, anti-classical) reaction was to formulate a euphemistic theory of consumer "demand" -- as if American consumers "demand" to pay high prices for pharmaceuticals and health care. Likewise in the case of housing prices for renters or, for owner-occupied housing, mortgage charges: Do renters and home buyers really "demand" to pay higher and higher rents and larger and larger mortgages? Or are they compelled to pay out of need, paying whatever their suppliers demand ( e.g ., as in "Your money or your life/health").
So to answer your question, a mixed economy is one in which governments and society at large realize that economies need to be regulated and monopolies (headed by credit and land ownership) kept out of the hands of private rent-seekers in order to keep the economy free and efficient.
JS : Has there ever been a civil society that effectively implemented a mixed economy since, say, 500 BC?
MH : All successful economies have been mixed economies. And the more "mixed" they are, the more successful, stable and long-lasting they have been as a result of their mutual public/private checks and balances.
America was a mixed economy in the late 19th century. It became the world's most successful industrial economy because it didn't have an absentee landlord class like Europe did (except for the railroad octopus), and it enacted protective tariffs to endow a domestic manufacturing class to catch up with and overtake England.
JS : Other countries?
MH : Germany began to be a mixed economy in the decades leading up to World War I. But it had a mentally retarded king whom they didn't know how to restrain, given their cultural faith in royalty. China is of course the most successful recent mixed economy.
JS : Isn't it pretty brutal in China for most of the population?
MH : Most of the population does not find it brutal there. It was brutal under colonialism and later still, under Mao's Cultural Revolution. But now, most people in China seem to want to get rich. That's why you're having a consolidation period of trying to get rid of the local corruption, especially in the rural areas. You're seeing a consolidation period that requires clamping down on a lot of people who became successful through shady operations.
JS : So how would you describe an ideal society without a Hammurabi-style "divine kingship"? An ideal mixed economy?
MH : The credit system would be public. That way, public banks could create credit for socially productive purposes -- and could cancel the occasional overgrowth of debts without causing private creditors to lose and protest. The public sector also would own and operate the natural infrastructure monopolies. That was the basic principle of classical economics from Adam Smith to Marx, even for erstwhile libertarians such as Henry George. Everybody in the 19th century expected a mixed economy with governments playing a growing role, replacing absentee landlords, bankers and monopolists with public collection of economic rent, public control of the credit system and provider of basic needs.
JS : How extensive should the public sector be?
MH : A classical public sector would include the natural monopolies that otherwise would engage in price gouging, especially the credit and banking system. These sectors should be public in character. For one thing, only a public bank can write down the debts -- like student debts today -- without hurting an independent oligarchic financial class. If student debts and mortgage debts were owed to public banks, they could be written down in keeping with the reasonable ability to be paid. Also, public banks wouldn't make junk mortgage loans to NINJA borrowers, as did Citibank and the other crooked banks. A public bank wouldn't make predatory corporate raiding and takeover loans, or finance and speculate in derivative gambles.
Most of all, when the debt overhead becomes too large -- when a large corporation that is essential to the economy can't pay its debts -- public banks can write down the debt so that the company isn't forced into bankruptcy and sold to an American vulture fund or other vulture fund. It can keep operating. In China the government provides this essential service of public banks.
The key public concern throughout history has been to prevent debt from crippling society. That aim is what Babylonian and other third-millennium and second-millennium Near Eastern rulers recognized clearly enough, with their mathematical models. To make an ideal society you need the government to control the basic utilities -- land, finance, mineral wealth, natural resources and infrastructure monopolies (including the Internet today), pharmaceuticals and health care so their basic services can be supplied at the lowest price.
All this was spelled out in the 19 th century by business school analysts in the United States. Simon Patten [1852-1922] who said that public investment is the "fourth factor of production." But its aim isn't to make a profit for itself. Rather, it's to lower the cost of living and of doing business, by providing basic needs either on a subsidized basis or for free. The aim was to create a low-cost society without a rentier class siphoning off unearned income and making this economic rent a hereditary burden on the economy at large. You want to prevent unearned income.
To do that, you need a concept to define economic rent as unearned and hence unnecessary income. A well-managed economy would do what Adam Smith, David Ricardo, John Stuart Mill, Marx and Veblen recommended: It would prevent a hereditary rentier class living off unearned income and increasing society's economic overhead. It's okay to make a profit, but not to make extractive monopoly rent, land rent or financial usury rent.
JS : Will human beings ever create such a society?
MH : If they don't, we're going to have a new Dark Age.
JS : That's one thing that especially surprises me about the United States. Is it not clear to educated people here that our ruling class is fundamentally extractive and exploitative?
MH : A lot of these educated people are part of the ruling class, and simply taking their money and running. They are disinvesting, not investing in industry. They're saying, "The financial rentier game is ending, so let's sell everything and maybe buy a farm in New Zealand to go to when there is a big war." So the financial elite is quite aware that they are getting rich by running the economy into the ground, and that this must end at the point where they've taken everything and left a debt-ridden shell behind.
JS : I guess this gets back to what you were saying: The history of economics has been expurgated from the curriculum.
MH : Once you strip away economic history and the history of economic thought, you wipe out memory of the vocabulary that people have used to criticize rent seeking and other unproductive activity. You then are in a position to redefine words and ideals along the lines that euphemize predatory and parasitic activities as if they are productive and desirable, even natural. You can rewrite history to suppress the idea that all this is the opposite of what Adam Smith and the classicaleconomists down through Marx advocated.
Today's neoliberal wasteland is basically a reaction against the 19 th century reformers, against the logic of classical British political economy. The hatred of Marx is ultimately the hatred of Adam Smith and John Stuart Mill, because neoliberals realize that Smith and Mill and Ricardo were all leading to Marx. He was the culmination of their free market views -- a market free from rentiers and monopolists.
That was the immediate aim of socialism in the late 19 th century. The logic of classical political economy was leading to a socialist mixed economy. In order to fight Marxism, you have to fight classical economics and erase memory of how civilization has dealt with (or failed to deal with) the debt and rent-extracting problems through the ages. The history of economic thought and the original free-market economics has to be suppressed. Today's choice is therefore between socialism or barbarism, as Rosa Luxemburg said.
JS : Let's consider barbarism: When I observe the neoliberal ruling class -- the people who control the finance sector and the managerial class on Wall Street -- I often wonder if they're historically exceptional because they've gone beyond simple greed and lust for wealth. They now seek above all some barbaric and sadistic pleasure in the financial destruction and humiliation of other people. Or is this historically normal?
MH : The financial class has always lived in the short run, and you can make short-term money much quicker by asset stripping and being predatory can by being productive. Moses Finley wrote that there was not a single productive loan in all of Antiquity. That was quite an overstatement, but he was making the point that there were no productive financial markets in Antiquity. Almost all manufacturing, industry, and agriculture was self-financed. So the reader of Finley likely infers that we modern people have progressed in a fundamental way beyond Antiquity. They were characterized by the homo politicus , greedy for status. We have evolved into homo œconomicus , savvy enough to live in stable safety and comfort.
We are supposedly the beneficiaries of the revolution of industrial capitalism, as if all the predatory, polarizing, usurious lending that you had from feudal times (and before that, from Antiquity), was replaced by productive lending that finances means of production and actual economic growth.
But in reality, modern banks don't lend money for production. They say, "That's the job of the stock market." Banks only lend if there's collateral to grab. They lend against assets in place. So the result of more bank lending is to increase the price of the assets that banks lend against -- on credit! This way of "wealth creation" via asset-price inflation is the opposite of real substantive progress. It enriches the narrow class of asset holders at the top of the economic pyramid.
JS : What about the stock market?
MH : The stock market no longer primarily provides money for capital investment. It has become a vehicle for bondholders and corporate raiders to borrow from banks and private funds to buy corporate stockholders, take the companies private, downsize them, break them up or strip their assets, and borrow more to buy back their stocks to create asset-price gains without increasing the economy's tangible real asset base. So the financial sector, except for a brief period in the late 19th century, especially in Germany, has rarely financed productive growth. Financial engineering has replaced industrial engineering, just as in Antiquity creditors were asset strippers.
The one productive activity that the financial sector engaged in from the Bronze Age onward was to finance foreign trade. The original interest-bearing debt was owed by merchants to reimburse their silent partners, typically the palace or the temples, and in time wealthy individuals. But apart from financing trade – in products that were already produced – you've rarely had finance increase the means of production or economic growth. It's almost always been to extract income. The income that finance extracts is at the expense of the rest of society. So the richer the financial sector is, the more austerity is imposed on the non-financial sector.
JS : That's pretty depressing.
MH : When I did the show with Jimmy Dore [ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PSvcB55R8jM ], he saw that the most important dynamic to understand is that debts grow more rapidly than the economy at large. The rate of interest is higher than the rate of growth. It may not be higher than the profit rate, but it's higher than the rate of growth. So every society that has interest-bearing debt is going to end up deeper and deeper in debt. At a certain point the creditors are paid at the expense of production and investment -- and soon enough they foreclose.
JS : And then?
MH : Then you have debt deflation. That is the norm. Austerity. It is not an anomaly, but the essence. The Babylonians knew this, and they tried to avoid debt deflation by wiping out the predatory personal debts, not the business debts that were commercial and productive. Only the non-commercial debts were wiped out.
JS : How could Modern Monetary Theory be used now, effectively?
MH : The main way is to say that governments don't have to borrow at interest from existing financial "savers," mainly the One Percent. The government can do what America did during the Civil War: print greenbacks. (The MMT version is the Trillion-dollar platinum coin.) The Treasury can provide the money needed by the economy. It does that by running a budget deficit and spending money into the economy. If you don't do that, if you do what Bill Clinton did in the last years of his presidency and run a budget surplus, then you force the economy to depend on banks for credit.
The problem is that bank credit is essentially predatory and extractive. The same thing happens in Europe. The Eurozone governments cannot run a budget deficit of more than 3 percent, so the government is unable to spend enough money to invest in public infrastructure or anything else. As a result, the Eurozone economy is subject to debt deflation, which is exacerbated by people having to borrow from the banks at high interest rates that far exceeds the rate of growth. So Europe is suffering an even more serious debt deflation than the United States.
JS : Is any of this going to change, either in Europe or here?
MH : Not until there's a crash. Not until it gets serious enough that people realize that there has to be an alternative. Right now Margaret Thatcher and the neoliberals have won. She said there was no alternative, and as long as people believe There Is No Alternative, they're not going to realize that it doesn't have to be this way, and that you don't need a private banking sector. A public banking sector would be much more efficient.
JS : How would you sum up Wall Street right now? Is it entirely predatory? Entirely parasitical? What are Wall Street's essential functions now?
MH : Number one, to run a casino. By far the largest volume at stake is betting on whether interest rates, foreign exchange rates or stock prices will go up or down. So the financial system has turned into a gambling casino. Its second aim is to load the economy down with as much debt as possible. Debt is the banking system's "product," and the GDP counts its "carried interest" penalties and late fees, its short-term trading gains as "financial services" counted as part of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
The aim is to get as much of these financial returns as possible, and finally to foreclose on as much property of defaulting debtors as possible. The business plan -- as I learned at Chase Manhattan years ago -- is to transfer all economic growth into the hands of financial investors, the One Percent. The financial business plan is to create a set of laws and mount a campaign of regulatory capture so that all the growth in the economy accrues to the One Percent, not the 99 Percent. That means that as the One Percent's rentier income grows, the 99 Percent gets less and less each year, until finally it emigrates or dies off, or is put into a for-profit prison, which looks like a growth industry today.
JS : Is there a single good thing that Wall Street does? Is there anything good that comes out of Wall Street?
MH: You have to look at it as a system. You can't segregate a particular action from the overall economy. If the overall system aims at making money in predatory ways at somebody else's expense, then it is a zero-sum game. That is essentially a short-run business model. And politically, it involves opposing a mixed economy. At least, the "old fashioned" socialist mixed economy in which governments subordinate short-term gain-seeking to long-term objectives uplifting the entire economy.
As the Greek philosophers recognized, wealthy people define their power by their ability to injure the rest of society, so as to lord it over them. That was the Greek philosophy of money-lust [πλεονεξία, pleonexia ] and hubris [ὕβρις] -- not merely arrogance, but behavior that was injurious to others.
Rentier income is injurious to society at large. Rentiers define a "free market" as one in which they are free to deny economic freedom to their customers, employees and other victims. The rentier model is to enrich the oligarchy to a point where it is able to capture the government.Part 3: The Inherent Financial Instability in Western Civilization's DNA
John Siman : It seems that unless there's a Hammurabi-style "divine king" or some elected civic regulatory authority, oligarchies will arise and exploit their societies as much as they can, while trying to prevent the victimized economy from defending itself.
Michael Hudson : Near Eastern rulers kept credit and land ownership subordinate to the aim of maintaining overall growth and balance. They prevented creditors from turning citizens into indebted clients obliged to work off their debts instead of serving in the military, providing corvée labor and paying crop rents or other fees to the palatial sector.
JS : So looking at history going back to 2000 or 3000 BC, once we no longer have the powerful Near Eastern "divine kings," there seems not to have been a stable and free economy. Debts kept mounting up to cause political revolts. In Rome, this started with the Secession of the Plebs in 494 BC, a century after Solon's debt cancellation resolved a similar Athenian crisis.
MH : Near Eastern debt cancellations continued into the Neo-Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian Empires in the first millennium BC, and also into the Persian Empire. Debt amnesties and laws protecting debtors prevented the debt slavery that is found in Greece and Rome. What modern language would call the Near Eastern "economic model" recognized that economies tended to become unbalanced, largely as a result of buildup of debt and various arrears on payments. Economic survival in fact required an ethic of growth and rights for the citizenry (who manned the army) to be self-supporting without running into debt and losing their economic liberty and personal freedom. Instead of the West's ultimate drastic solution of banning interest, rulers cancelled the buildup of personal debts to restore an idealized order "as it was in the beginning."
This ideology has always needed to be sanctified by religion or at least by democratic ideology in order to prevent the predatory privatization of land, credit, and ultimately the government. Greek philosophy warned against monetary greed [πλεονεξία, pleonexia ] and money-love [φιλοχρηματία, philochrêmatia ] from Sparta's mythical lawgiver Lycurgus to Solon's poems describing his debt cancellation in 594 and the subsequent philosophy of Plato and Socrates, as well as the plays of Aristophanes. The Delphic Oracle warned that money-love was the only thing that could destroy Sparta [Diodorus Siculus 7.5]. That indeed happened after 404 BC when the war with Athens ended and foreign tribute poured into Sparta's almost un-monetized regulated economy.
The problem, as famously described in The Republic and handed down in Stoic philosophy, was how to prevent a wealthy class from becoming wealth-addicted, hubristic and injurious to society. The 7 th -century "tyrants" were followed by Solon in Athens in banning luxuries and public shows of wealth, most notoriously at funerals for one's ancestors. Socrates went barefoot [ἀνυπόδητος, anupodêtos ] to show his contempt for wealth, and hence his freedom from its inherent personality defects. Yet despite this universal ideal of avoiding extremes, oligarchic rule became economically polarizing and destructive, writing laws to make its creditor claims and the loss of land by smallholders irreversible. That was the opposite of Near Eastern Clean Slates and their offshoot, Judaism's Jubilee Year.
JS : So despite the ideals of their philosophy, Greek political systems had no function like that of Hammurabi-like kings -- or philosopher-kings for that matter -- empowered to hold financial oligarchies in check. This state of affairs led philosophers to develop an economic tradition of lamentation instead. Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, Livy and Plutarch bemoaned the behavior of the money-loving oligarchy. But they did not develop a program to rectify matters. The best they could do was to inspire and educate individuals -- most of whom were their wealthy students and readers. As you said, they bequeathed a legacy of Stoicism. Seeing that the problem was not going to be solved in their lifetimes, they produced a beautiful body of literature praising philosophical virtue.
MH : The University of Chicago, where I was an undergraduate in the 1950s, focused on Greek philosophy. We read Plato's Republic , but they skipped over the discussion of wealth-addiction. They talked about philosopher-kings without explaining that Socrates' point was that rulers must not own land and other wealth, so as not to have the egotistical tunnel vision that characterized creditors monopolizing control over land and labor.
JS : In Book 8 of the Republic , Socrates condemns oligarchies as being characterized by an insatiable greed [ἀπληστία, aplêstia ] for money and specifically criticizes them for allowing polarization between the super-rich [ὑπέρπλουτοι, hyper-ploutoi ] and the poor [πένητες, penêtes ], who are made utterly resourceless [ἄποροι, aporoi ].
MH : One needs to know the context of Greek economic history in order to understand The Republic 's main concern. Popular demands for land redistribution and debt cancellation were resisted with increasing violence. Yet few histories of Classical Antiquity focus on this financial dimension of the distribution of land, money and wealth.
Socrates said that if you let the wealthiest landowners and creditors become the government, they're probably going to be wealth-addicted and turn the government into a vehicle to help them exploit the rest of society. There was no idea at Chicago of this central argument made by Socrates about rulers falling subject to wealth-addiction. The word "oligarchy" never came up in my undergraduate training, and the "free market" business school's Ayn Rand philosophy of selfishness is as opposite from Greek philosophy as it is from Judeo-Christian religion.
JS : The word "oligarchy" comes up a lot in book 8 of Plato's Republic . Here are 3 passages:
1. At Stephanus page 550c "And what kind of a regime," said he, "do you understand by oligarchy [ὀλιγαρχία]?" "That based on a property qualification," said I, "wherein the rich [πλούσιοι] hold office [550d] and the poor man [πένης, penês ] is excluded.
2. at 552a "Consider now whether this polity [ i.e . oligarchy] is not the first that admits that which is the greatest of all such evils." "What?" "The allowing a man to sell all his possessions, which another is permitted to acquire, and after selling them to go on living in the city, but as no part of it, neither a money-maker, nor a craftsman, nor a knight, nor a foot-soldier, but classified only as a pauper [πένης, penês ] and a dependent [ἄπορος, aporos ]." [552b] "This is the first," he said. "There certainly is no prohibition of that sort of thing in oligarchical states. Otherwise some of their citizens would not be excessively rich [ὑπέρπλουτοι, hyper-ploutoi ], and others out and out paupers [πένητες, penêtes ]."
3 at 555b: "Then," said I, "is not the transition from oligarchy to democracy effected in some such way as this -- by the insatiate greed [ἀπληστία, aplêstia ] for that which oligarchy set before itself as the good, the attainment of the greatest possible wealth?"
MH : By contrast, look where Antiquity ended up by the 2 nd century BC. Rome physically devastated Athens, Sparta, Corinth and the rest of Greece. By the Mithridatic Wars (88-63 BC) their temples were looted and their cities driven into unpayably high debt to Roman tax collectors and Italian moneylenders. Subsequent Western civilization developed not from the democracy in Athens but from oligarchies supported by Rome. Democratic states were physically destroyed, blocking civic regulatory power and imposing pro-creditor legal principles making foreclosures and forced land sales irreversible.
JS: It seems that Greek and Roman Antiquity could not solve the problem of economic polarization. That makes me want to ask about our own country: To what extent does America resemble Rome under the emperors?
MH: Wealthy families have always tried to break "free" from central political power -- free to destroy the freedom of people they get into debt and take their land and property. Successful societies maintain balance. That requires public power to check and reverse the excesses of personal wealth seeking, especially debt secured by the debtor's labor and land or other means of self-support. Balanced societies need the power to reverse the tendency of debts to grow faster than the ability to be paid. That tendency runs like a red thread through Greek and Roman history.
This overgrowth of debt is also destabilizing today's U.S. and other financialized economies. Banking and financial interests have broken free of tax liability since 1980, and are enriching themselves not by helping the overall economy grow and raising living standards, but just the opposite: by getting the bulk of society into debt to themselves.
This financial class is also indebting governments and taking payment in the form of privatizing the public domain. (Greece is a conspicuous recent example.) This road to privatization, deregulation and un-taxing of wealth really took off with Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan cheerleading the anti-classical philosophy of Frederick von Hayek and the anti-classical economics of Milton Friedman and the Chicago Boys.
Something much like this happened in Rome. Arnold Toynbee described its oligarchic land grab that endowed its ruling aristocracy with unprecedented wealth as Hannibal's Revenge. That was the main legacy of Rome's Punic Wars with Carthage ending around 200 BC. Rome's wealthy families who had contributed their jewelry and money to the war effort, made their power grab and said that what originally appeared to be patriotic contributions should be viewed as having been a loan. The Roman treasury was bare, so the government (controlled by these wealthy families) gave them public land, the ager publicus that otherwise would have been used to settle war veterans and other needy.
Once you inherit wealth, you tend to think that it's naturally yours, not part of society's patrimony for mutual aid. You see society in terms of yourself, not yourself as part of society. You become selfish and increasingly predatory as the economy shrinks as a result of your indebting it and monopolizing its land and property. You see yourself as exceptional, and justify this by thinking of yourself as what Donald Trump would call "a winner," not subject to the rules of "losers," that is, the rest of society. That's a major theme in Greek philosophy from Socrates andPlato and Aristotle through the Stoics. They saw an inherent danger posed by an increasingly wealthy landholding and creditor ruling class atop an indebted population at large. If you let such a class emerge independently of social regulation and checks on personal egotism and hubris, the economic and political system becomes predatory. Yet that has been the history of Western civilization.
Lacking a tradition of subordinating debt and land foreclosure from smallholders, the Greek and Italian states that emerged in the 7 th century BC took a different political course from the Near East. Subsequent Western civilization lacked a regime of oversight to alleviate debt problems and keep the means of self-support broadly distributed.
The social democratic movements that flowered from the late 19 th century until the 1980s sought to re-create such regulatory mechanisms, as in Teddy Roosevelt's trust busting, the income tax, Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal, postwar British social democracy. But these moves to reverse economic inequality and polarization are now being rolled back, causing austerity, debt deflation and the concentration of wealth at the top of the economic pyramid. As oligarchies take over government, they lorded it over the rest of society much like feudal lords who emerged from the wreckage of the Roman Empire in the West.
The tendency is for political power to reflect wealth. Rome's constitution weighted voting power in proportion to one's landholdings, minimizing the voting power of the non-wealthy. Today's private funding of political campaigns in the United States is more indirect in shifting political power to the Donor Class, away from the Voting Class. The effect is to turn governments to serve a financial and property-owning class instead of prosperity for the economy at large. We thus are in a position much like that of Rome in 509 BC, when the kings were overthrown by an oligarchy claiming to "free" their society from any power able to control the wealthy. The call for "free markets" today is for deregulation of rentier wealth, turning the economy into a free-for-all.
Classical Greece and Italy had a fatal flaw: From their inception they had no tradition of a mixed public/private economy such as characterized in the Near East, whose palatial economy and temples produced the main economic surplus and infrastructure. Lacking royal overrides, the West never developed policies to prevent a creditor oligarchy from reducing the indebted population to debt bondage, and foreclosing on the land of smallholders. Advocates of debt amnesties were accused of "seeking kingship" in Rome, or aspiring to "tyranny"(in Greece).
JS: It seems to me that you're saying this economic failure is Antiquity's original sin as well as fatal flaw. We have inherited a great philosophic and literary tradition from them analyzing and lamenting this failure, but without a viable program to set it right.
MH: That insight unfortunately has been stripped out of the curriculum of classical studies, just as the economics discipline sidesteps the phenomenon of wealth addiction. If you take an economics course, the first thing you're taught in price theory is diminishing marginal utility: The more of anything you have, the less you need it or enjoy it. You can't enjoy consuming it beyond a point. But Socrates and Aristophanes emphasized, accumulating money is not like eating bananas, chocolate or any other consumable commodity. Money is different because, as Socrates said, it is addictive, and soon becomes an insatiable desire [ἀπληστία, aplêstia ].
JS: Yes, I understand! Bananas are fundamentally different from money because you can get sick of bananas, but you can never have too much money! In your forthcoming book, The Collapse of Antiquity , you quote what Aristophanes says in his play Plutus (the god of wealth and money). The old man Chremylus -- his name is based on the Greek word for money, chrêmata [χρήματα] -- Chremylus and his slave perform a duet in praise of Plutus as the prime cause of everything in the world, reciting a long list. The point is that money is a singular special thing: "O Money-god, people never get sick of your gifts. They get tired of everything else; they get tired of love and bread, of music and honors, of treats and military advancement, of lentil soup, etc., etc. But they never get tired of money. If a man has thirteen talents of silver -- 13 million dollars, say -- he wants sixteen; and if he gets sixteen, he will want forty, and so forth, and he will complain of being short of cash the whole time."
MH: Socrates's problem was to figure out a way to have government that did not serve the wealthy acting in socially destructive ways. Given that his student Platowas an aristocrat and that Plato's students in the Academy werearistocratsas well, how can you have a government run by philosopher-kings? Socrates's solution was not practical at that time: Rulers should not have money or property. But all governments were based on the property qualification, so his proposal for philosopher-kings lacking wealth was utopian. And like Plato and other Greek aristocrats, they disapproved of debt cancellations, accusing these of being promoted by populist leaders seeking to become tyrants.
JS: Looking over the broad sweep of Roman history, your book describes how, century after century, oligarchs were whacking every energetic popular advocate whose policies threatened their monopoly of political power, and their economic power as creditors and privatizers of the public domain, Rome's ager publicus , for themselves.
I brought with me on the train Cæsar's Gallic War . What do you think of Cæsar and how historians have interpreted his role?
MH: The late 1 st century BC was a bloodbath for two generations before Cæsar was killed by oligarchic senators. I think his career exemplifies what Aristotle said of aristocracies turning into democracies: He sought to take the majority of citizens into their own camp to oppose the aristocratic monopolies of landholding, the courts and political power.
Cæsar sought to ameliorate the oligarchic Senate's worst abuses that were stifling Rome's economy and even much of the aristocracy. Mommsen is the most famous historian describing how rigidly and unyieldingly the Senate opposed democratic attempts to achieve a role in policy-making for the population at large, or to defend the debtors losing their land to creditors, who were running the government for their own personal benefit. He described how Sulla strengthened the oligarchy against Marius, and Pompey backed the Senate against Caesar. But competition for the consulship and other offices was basically just a personal struggle among rival individuals, not rival concrete political programs. Roman politics was autocratic from the very start of the Republic when the aristocracy overthrew the kings in 509 BC. Roman politics during the entire Republic was a fight by the oligarchy against democracy and the populace as a whole.
The patricians used violence to "free" themselves from any public authority able to check their own monopoly of power, money and land acquisition by expropriating smallholders and grabbing the public domain being captured from neighboring peoples. Roman history from one century to the next is a narrative of killing advocates of redistributing public land to the people instead of letting it be grabbed by the patricians, or who called for a debt cancellation or even just an amelioration of the cruel debts laws.
On the one hand, Mommsen idolized Cæsar as if he were a kind of revolutionary democrat. But given the oligarchy's total monopoly on political power and force, Mommsen recognized that under these conditions there could not be any political solution to Rome's economic polarization and impoverishment. There could only be anarchy or a dictatorship. So Caesar's role was that of a Dictator -- vastly outnumbered by his opposition.
A generation before Caesar, Sulla seized power militarily, bringing his army to conquer Rome and making himself Dictator in 82 BC. He drew up a list of his populist opponents to be murdered and their estates confiscated by their killers. He was followed by Pompey, who could have become a dictator but didn't have much political sense, so Caesar emerged victorious. Unlike Sulla or Pompey, he sought a more reformist policy to check the senatorial corruption and self-dealing.
The oligarchic Senate's only "political program" was opposition to "kingship" or any such power able to check its land grabbing and corruption. The oligarchs assassinated him, as they had killed Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus in 133 and 121, the praetor Asellio who sought to alleviate the population's debt burden in 88 by trying to enforce pro-creditor laws, and of course the populist advocates of debt cancellation such as Catiline and his supporters. Would-be reformers were assassinated from the very start of the Republic after the aristocracy overthrew Rome's kings.
JS: If Caesar had been successful, what kind of ruler might he have been?
MH: In many ways he was like the reformer-tyrants of the 7 th and 6 th centuries in Corinth, Megara and other Greek cities. They all were members of the ruling elite. He tried to check the oligarchy's worst excesses and land grabs, and like Catiline, Marius and the Gracchi brothers before him, to ameliorate the problems faced by debtors. But by his time the poorer Romans already had lost their land, so the major debts were owed by wealthier landowners. His bankruptcy law only benefited the well-to-do who had bought land on credit and could not pay their moneylenders as Rome's long Civil War disrupted the economy. The poor already had been ground down. They supported him mainly for his moves toward democratizing politics at the expense of the Senate.
JS: After his assassination we get Caesar's heir Octavian, who becomes Augustus. So we have the official end of the Republic and the beginning of a long line of emperors, the Principate. Yet despite the Senate's authority being permanently diminished, there is continued widening of economic polarization. Why couldn't the Emperors save Rome?
MH: Here's an analogy for you: Just as nineteenth-century industrial reformers thought that capitalism's political role was to reform the economy by stripping away the legacy of feudalism -- a hereditary landed aristocracy and predatory financial system based mainly on usury -- what occurred was not an evolution of industrial capitalism into socialism. Instead, industrial capitalism turned into finance capitalism. In Rome you had the end of the senatorial oligarchy followed not by a powerful, debt-forgiving central authority (as Mommsen believed that Caesar was moving toward, and as many Romans hoped that he was moving towards), but to an even more polarized imperial garrison state.
JS: That's indeed what happened. The emperors who ruled in the centuries after Cæsar insisted on being deified -- they were officially "divine," according to their own propaganda. Didn't any of them have the potential power to reverse the Roman economy's ever-widening polarization of the, like the Near Eastern "divine kings" from the third millennium BC into the Neo-Assyrian, Neo-Babylonian and even the Persian Empire in the first millennium?
MH: The inertia of Rome's status quo and vested interests among patrician nobility was so strong that emperors didn't have that much power. Most of all, they didn't have a conceptual intellectual framework for changing the economy's basic structure as economic life became de-urbanized and shifted to self-sufficient quasi-feudal manor estates. Debt amnesties and protection of small self-sufficient tax-paying landholders as the military base was achieved only in the Eastern Roman Empire, in Byzantium under the 9 th – and 10 th -century emperors (as I've described in my history of debt cancellations in and forgive them their debts ).
The Byzantine emperors were able to do what Western Roman emperors could not. They reversed the expropriation of smallholders and annulled their debts in order to keep a free tax-paying citizenry able to serve in the army and provide public labor duties. But by the 11 th and 12 th centuries, Byzantium's prosperity enabled its oligarchy to create private armies of their own to fight against centralized authority able to prevent their grabbing of land and labor.
It seems that Rome's late kings did something like this. That is what attracted immigrants to Rome and fueled its takeoff. But with prosperity came rising power of patrician families, who moved to unseat the kings. Their rule was followed by a depression and walkouts by the bulk of the population to try and force better policy. But that could no be achieved without democratic voting power, so faith was put in personal leader -- subject to patrician violence to abort any real economic democracy.
In Byzantium's case, the tax-avoiding oligarchy weakened the imperial economy to the point where the Crusaders were able to loot and destroy Constantinople. Islamic invaders were then able to pick up the pieces.
The most relevant point of studying history today should be how the economic conflict between creditors and debtors affected the distribution of land and money. Indeed, the tendency of a wealthy overclass to pursue self-destructive policies that impoverish society should be what economic theory is all about. We'll discuss this in Part 4.Part 4: A New "Reality Economics" Curriculum is Needed
John Siman: I want to spell out the implications of the points that Socrates brought up, and with which you and I agree. That leaves the question facing us today: Is the American oligarchy and state as rapacious as that of Rome? Or is it universally the nature of oligarchy in any historical setting to be rapacious? And if so, where is it all leading?
Michael Hudson : If Antiquity had followed the "free market" policies of modern neoliberal economics, the Near East, Greece and Rome would never have gained momentum. Any such "free market" avoiding mutual aid and permitting a wealthy class to emerge and enslave the bulk of the population by getting it into debt and taking its land would have shrunk, or been conquered from without or by revolution from within. That's why the revolutions of the 7 th century BC, led to reformers subsequently called "tyrants" in Greece (and "kings" in Rome) were necessary to attract populations rather than reduce them to bondage.
So of course it is hard for mainstream economists to acknowledge that Classical Antiquity fell because it failed to regulate and tax the wealthy financial and landowning classes, and failed to respond to popular demands to cancel personal debts and redistribute the land that had been monopolized by the wealthy.
The wealth of the Greek and Roman oligarchies was the ancient counterpart to today's Finance, Insurance and Real Estate (FIRE) sector, and their extractive and predatory behavior is what destroyed Antiquity. The perpetuation of this problem even today, two thousand years later, should establish that the debt/credit dynamic and polarization of wealth is a central problem of Western civilization.
JS : So what were -- and are -- the political and social dynamic at work?
MH : The key is the concept of wealth addiction and how it leads to hubris -- arrogance that seeks to increase power in ways that hurt other people. Hubris is not merely over-reaching; it is socially injurious. The wealthy or power injure other people knowingly, to establish their power and status.
That is what Aristophanes meant when his characters say that wealth is not like bananas or lentil soup. Wealth has no object but itself . Wealth is status -- and also political control. The creditor's wealth is the debtor's liability. The key to its dynamic is not production and consumption, but assets and liabilities -- the economy's balance sheet. Wealth and status in the sense of who/whom. It seeks to increase without limit, and Socrates and Aristotle found the major example to be creditors charging interest for lending "barren" money. Interest had to be paid out of the debtor's own product, income or finally, forfeiture of property; creditors did not provide means of making interest to pay off the loan.
This is the opposite of Austrian School theories that interest is a bargain to share the gains to be made from the loan "fairly" between creditor and debtor. It also is the opposite of neoclassical price theory. The economics taught in universities today is based on a price theory that does not even touch on this point. The liberty that oligarchs claim is the right to indebt the rest of society and then demand full payment or forfeiture of the debtor's collateral. This leads to massive expropriations, as did the Junk Mortgage foreclosures after 2008 when President Obama failed to write down debts to realistic market values for real estate financed on loans far beyond the buyer's ability to pay. The result was 10 million foreclosures.
Yet today's mainstream economics treats the normal tendency to polarize between creditors and debtors, the wealthy and the have-nots, as an anomaly. It has been the norm for the last five thousand years, but economics sidesteps actual empirical history as if it is an anomaly in the fictional parallel universe created by the mainstream's unrealistic assumptions. Instead of being a science, such economics is science fiction.It trains students in cognitive dissonance that distracts them from understanding Classical Antiquity and the driving dynamics of Western civilization.
JS: This gets us back to the question of whether universities should just be shut down and started up all over again.
MH: You don't shut them down, you create a new group of universities with a different curriculum. The path of least resistance is to house this more functional curriculum in new institutions. That's what America's Republican and pro-industrial leaders recognized after the Civil War ended in 1865. They didn't shut down Harvard and Yale and Princeton and the Christian free-trade Anglophile colleges. They created state colleges funded by land grants, such as Cornell in upstate New York, and business schools such as the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, endowed by industrialists to providing an economic logic for the state's steel-making and related industrial protectionism. The result was an alternative economics to describe how America should develop as what they saw as a new civilization, free of the vestiges of Europe's feudal privileges, absentee ownership and colonialist mentality.
The Republicans and industrialists saw that America's prestige colleges had been founded long before the Civil War, basically as religious colleges to train the clergy. They taught British free trade theory, serving the New England commercial and banking interests and Southern plantation owners. But free trade kept the United States dependent on England. My book America's Protectionist Takeoff describes how the American School of Political Economy, led by Henry Carey and E. Peshine Smith (William Seward's law partner), developed an alternative to what was being taught in the religious colleges.
This led to a new view of the history of Western civilization and America's role in fighting against entrenched privilege. William Draper's Intellectual Development of Europe , and Andrew Dixon White's History of the Warfare of Science with Theology saw the United States as breaking free from the feudal aristocracies that were a product of the way in which antiquity collapsed, economically and culturally.
JS : So business schools were originally progressive!
MH : Surprising as it may seem, the answer is Yes, to the extent that they described the global economy as tending to polarize under free trade and an absence of government protectionism, not to become more equal. They incorporated technology, energy-use and the environmental consequences of trade patterns into economic theory, such as soil depletion resulting from plantation monocultures. Mainstream economics fought against such analysis because it advocated markets "free" for polluters, "free" for nations to pursue policies that made them poorer and dependent on foreign credit.
JS : So this is how the Wharton School's first professor of economics, Simon Patten, one of the founders of American sociology, fits into this anti- rentier tradition! That is such a revelation to me! They developed an analysis of technology's effects on the economy, of monopoly pricing and economic rent as unearned income that increases the cost of living and cost of production. They explained the benefits of public infrastructure investment. Today that is called "socialism," but it was industrial capitalists who took the lead in urging such public investment, so as to lower their cost of doing business.
MH : The first U.S. business schools in the late 19 th century described rentiers as unproductive. That is why today's neoliberals are trying to rewrite the history of Institutionalism in a way that expurgates the Americans who wanted the government to provide public infrastructure to make America a low-cost economy, undersell England and other countries, and evolve into the industrial giant it became by the 1920s.
JS : That was Simon Patten's teaching at the Wharton School -- government-subsidized public infrastructure as the fourth factor of production.
MH : Yes. America's ruling political class tried to make the United States a dominant economy instead of a rentier economy of landlords and financial manipulators.
JS : How did the robber barons fit into this story?
MH : Not as industrialists or manufacturers, but as monopolists opposed by the industrial interests. It was Teddy Roosevelt's trust-busting and the Republicans that enacted the Sherman antitrust act. Its spirit was continued by Franklin Roosevelt.
JS :Is today's economy a second age of robber barons?
MH : It's becoming a second Gilded Age. An abrupt change of direction in economic trends occurred after Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher were elected in 1979/80. The result has been to invert what the 19 th -century economists understood to be a free market -- that is, a market free from a privileged hereditary class living on unearned income in the form of land rent, monopoly rent and financial extraction.
JS : I was in my first few years of college when Thatcher came in in 1979, and when Reagan was elected in 1980. I asked my economics professors what was going on, but I could not find a single professor to coherently describe the U-turn that was occurring. It certainly wasn't in Paul Samuelson's textbook that we were given.
MH : There's little logic for neoliberalism beyond a faith that short-term greed is the best way to optimize long-term growth. It is natural for the wealthiest classes to have this faith. Neoliberalism doesn't look at the economy as a social system, and it excludes as "externalities" concerns with the environment, debt dependency and economic polarization. It only asks how to make a short-term hit-and-run gain, regardless of whether this is done in a way that has a positive or negative overall social effect. Realistic economic logic is social in scope, and distinguishes between earned and unearned income. That is why economists such as Simon Patten and Thorstein Veblen decided to start afresh and create the discipline of sociology, to go beyond narrow individualistic economics being taught.
Today's mathematical economics is based on circular reasoning that treats all that has happened as having been inevitable. It is all survival of the fittest, so it seems that there is no alternative. This policy conclusion is built into economic methodology. If we weren't the fittest, we wouldn't have survived, so by definition (that is, circular reasoning), any alternative is less than fit.
Regarding the fact that you had to read Samuelson when you were in college, he was famous for his Factor Price Equalization Theorem claiming to prove mathematically that everybody and every nation tends naturally to become more and more equal (if government stands aside). He denied that the tendency of the global economy is to polarize, not equalize. The political essence of this equilibrium theory is its claim that economies tend to settle in a stable balance. In reality they polarize and then collapse if they do not reverse their polarizing financial and productivity and wealth dynamics are.
The starting point of economic theorizing should explain the dynamic that lead economics to polarize and collapse. That is the lesson of studying antiquity that we have discussed in our earlier talks. Writers in classical antiquity, like Bronze Age Near Eastern rulers before them and the Biblical prophets, recognized that a rentier economy tends to destroy the economy's productivity and widespread prosperity, and ultimately its survival. In today's world the Finance, Insurance,and Real Estate [FIRE] sector and monopolies are destroying the rest of the economy, using financial wealth to take over the government and disable its ability to prevent their operating in corrosive and predatory ways.
JS : Why aren't more people up in arms?
MH : They're only up in arms if they believe that there is an alternative. As long as the vested interests can suppress any idea that there is an alternative, that matters don't have to be this way, people just get depressed. In our third interview you spoke about Socrates and the Stoics producing a philosophy of lamentation and resignation. By his day there seemed no solution except to denounce wealth. When matters got much worse in the Roman Empire, wealth was abhorred. That became the message of Christianity.
What is needed is to define the scope of the alternative that you want. How can the economy grow when households, business, and government have to pay more and more of their revenue to the financial sector, which then turns around and lends its interest and related income out to indebt the economy even more? The effect is to extract even more income. Rising government debt and tax cuts for the rentiers lead to the privatization of public infrastructure and natural monopolies. Higher prices are charged for tolls to pay for public healthcare, education, roads and other services that were expected to be provided for free a century ago. Financialized privatization thus creates a high-rent, high-cost economy -- the opposite of industrial capitalism evolving into socialism to finally free society from rentier income.
JS: Wouldn't that be based on the insatiable desire [ἀπληστία, aplêstia ] for money and the super-rich [ὑπέρπλουτοι, hyper-ploutoi ] oligarchs in Book 8 of Plato's Republic ? So we get back to my question: Is the behavior of the super-rich a constant in human nature?
MH: Money-love [φιλοχρηματία, philochrêmatia ] has always been extreme because wealth is addictive. But their dynamic of credit -- other peoples' debts -- increasing at compound interest is mathematized and the economy is put on automatic pilot to self-destruct. Its business plan to "create wealth" by making financial gains at somebody else's expense, without limit. This kind of financial wealth is a zero-sum activity. The wealth of the creditor class, the One Percent, is achieved by indebting the 99 Percent.
JS: Why is it a zero-sum activity?
MH: A zero-sum activity is when one party's gain is another's loss. Instead of income paid to creditors being reinvested in means of production to help the economy grow, it's spent on buying more assets. The most wasteful examples are corporate stock buyback programs and financial raids. And the largest effect of financialization occurs as loans and Quantitative Easing simply bid up the price of real estate, stocks, bonds and other assets. The effect is to put housing and a retirement income further out of range of people who have to live by working for wages and salaries instead of living off absentee ownership, interest and financial asset-price gains.
JS: Why is this being done instead of investing in the economy to help the population live a better and more prosperous life?
MH: The tax and regulatory system is set up to make financial gains or create monopoly privileges. That is quicker and more certain, especially in an economy shrinking as a result of financialization and the austerity it imposes. It's hard to make profits by investing in a shrinking economy suffering from debt deflation and a squeeze on family budgets to pay for health care, education and other basic needs.
JS: So it becomes more about extraction. Let's come back to Global Climate Change and rising sea levels as a foundation of American foreign policy.
MH: Since the 19th century, American policy has been based on the recognition that GDP growth reflects rising energy use per capita. Rising productivity is almost identical with the curve of energy use per worker. That was the basic premise of E. Peshine Smith in 1853, and subsequent writers, whom I describe in America's Protectionist Takeoff: 1918-1914 . The policy conclusion is that if you can control the source of energy -- which remains mainly oil and coal -- then you can control global GDP growth. That is why Dick Cheney invaded Iraq: to grab its oil. It is why Trump announced his intention to topple Venezuela and take its oil.
If other nations are obliged to buy their oil from the United States or its companies, then it's in a monopoly position to turn off their electricity (like the United States did to Venezuela) and hurt their economies if they don't acquiesce in a world system that lets American financial firms come in and buy out their most productive monopolies and privatize theirpublic domain. That's why America's foreign policy is to monopolize the world's oil, gas and coal in order to have a stranglehold on the rate of growth of other countries by being able to deny them energy. It's like denying countries food in order to starve them out. The aim isto exploit Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America what Rome exploited its Empire.
JS: Would you be comfortable using words like evil to describe what's going on now?
MH : Evil essentially is predatory and destructive behavior. Socrates said that it ultimately is ignorance, because nobody would set out intentionally to do it. But in that case, evil would be an educational system that imposes ignorance and tunnel vision, distracting attention from understanding how economic society actually works in destructive ways. On that logic, post-classical neoliberal economics and the Chicago Boys are evil because their ideology breeds ignorance and leads its believers to act in ways that are injurious to society, preventing personal fulfillment through economic growth. Evil is a policy that makes most of society poorer, simply in order to enrich an increasingly wealth-addictive rentier layer at the top. Werner Sombart described the bourgeoisie as floating like a globules of fat on top of a soup.
JS: This is now happening on a path that follows an exponential extreme. I guess global warming makes it particularly evil. We're not simply talking about taking advantage of other people within a society, we're talking about destruction of the planet and its environment.
MH: Economists dismiss this as an "externality," that is, outside the scope of their models. So these models are deliberately ignorant. You could say that this makes them evil.
JS: That is what I've suspected since we started the Iraq War in 2003.
MH: America's military buildup, its anti-environmental policy and global wars are part of the same symbiotic strategy. The reason why America will not be part of a real effort to mitigate global warming is that its policy is still based on grabbing the oil resources of the Near East, Venezuela, and everywhere else that it can. Also, the oil industry is the most tax-exempt and politically powerful sector. If it also happens to be the primary cause of global warming, that is viewed as just collateral damage to America's attempt to control the world by controlling the oil supply. In that sense the environmental impasse is a byproduct of American imperialism.
JS: What's hopeful in the United States right now? What is a possible good outcome?
MH: T he precondition would be for people to realize that there is an alternative. Starting with wiping out of student debts, they can realize that the overall debt overhead can be wiped out without hurting the economy -- and indeed, rescuing it from the financial rentier class inasmuch as all debts on the liabilities side of the balance sheet have their counterpart on the asset side as the savings of today's financial oligarchy, which is doing to the U.S. economy what Rome's Senate did to the ancient world.
JS: How can people proceed from here?
MH: Understanding must come first. Once you have to have a sense of history, you realize that there is an alternative. You also see what happens when a creditor oligarchy gets strong enough to prevent any public power from writing down debts and to prevent attempts to tax it.
You have to do to America today what the Republicans did after the Civil War: You have to have a new university curriculum dealing with economic history, the history of economic thought and the real world's long-term development.
JS: And what would be the premise for such economic history?
MH: T he starting point is to realize that civilization began in the ancient Near East, and made a turn to oppose a strong public regulatory sector in Classical Greece and Rome. The long-term tension is the eternal fight by the oligarchy of creditors and large land owners to reduce the rest of society to serfdom, and to oppose strong rulers empowered to act in the economy's long-term interest by creating checks against this polarization.
JS : So how much longer does this go on -- for months, for years, for decades?
MH : It always goes on longer than you think it will. Inertia has a great elastic self-reinforcing power. Polarization will widen until people believe that there is an alternative and decide to fight for it. Two things are required for this to happen: First, a large proportion of people need to see that the economy is impoverishing them, and that the existing picture of what is happening is misleading. Instead of wealth trickling down, it is defying gravity and sucking income up from the base of the economic pyramid. People are having to work harder just to stay in place, until their life style breaks down.
Second, people must realize that it doesn't have to be this way. There is an alternative
JS : Right now most people think that government regulation and progressive taxation will make things worse, and that the wealthy are job creators, not job destroyers. They think that the system needs to be bolstered, not replaced, because the alternative is "socialism" -- that is, what the Soviets did, not what Franklin Roosevelt was doing. But today bailing out the banks and giving subsidies to new employers is said to be for our own good.
MH : That's what the Romans told their provinces. Everything they did was always to preserve "good order," meaning open opportunities for their own wealth grabbing. They never said they were out to destroy and loot other societies. Madeline Albright followed this rhetorical pattern in describing as being, like the Romans and France's brutal mission civilisatrice , a program to uplift the world free-market efficiency. For performing this service, the imperial power takes all the money that its colonies, provinces and allies can generate. That's why the U.S. meddles in foreign politics, as we have just seen in Ukraine, Libya and Syria.
JS : You've described the greatest meddling as distorting the narrative of history to depict creditor and rentier drives toward oligarchy as being democratic and helping to raise living standards and culture. Your books show just the opposite.
MH : Thank you. (Republished from Naked Capitalism by permission of author or representative)
Dutch Boy , says: April 6, 2019 at 7:07 pm GMTQuestions for Dr. Hudson: Why should a public banking system charge interest at all on loans? Could they not merely charge a one-time service fee to cover the cost of loan administration and a one-time insurance fee to cover the costs of defaulting on the loan? After all, they are not actually loaning money – they are creating money at minimal risk to the bank. Charging interest to create money strikes me as mere theft.obwandiyag , says: April 7, 2019 at 2:37 am GMTBut, you see, Michael Hudson is a liberal, and so you can't listen to him. Even if you understood what he was saying.wayfarer , says: April 7, 2019 at 4:58 am GMTAbrahamism, the red herring du jour, for humanity.MEFOBILLS , says: April 7, 2019 at 7:14 am GMT
source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abrahamic_religions@Dutch BoyMax , says: April 7, 2019 at 8:42 am GMT
Charging interest to create money strikes me as mere theft.
The school of Salamanca is where this idea of interest on money was codified, where the Jesuit priests proclaimed it as a loss of wants. That is, since people loaned out their money, they didn't get use of it, so they should be paid for their loss.
If you examine how banking works, banks hypothecate new money the moment you sign a debt instrument. Both the new bank credit and debt instrument pop into being simultaneously.
To ask for compounding interest on this simple legerdemain is an outrageous abuse, so you are right it is theft.
There are situations where it is not usurious. For example, Schacht's MefoBills scheme, the interest fluxed outward from Reichsbank to the bill holder. A bill would be presented to industry, and said industry would then start work making goods. Bill would then be presented for discount, which is fancy way of saying paid for, or paid off. Upon discount, bill would be examined to see if goods were produced. Then the bill would be paid its full face value AND the interest it accrued.
Reichsmarks flowed from Reichsbank to the bill holder, who was paid interest. The bill holder then spent his new Reichsmarks into the money supply.
Benjamin Franklin's public bank spent into the commons the extra money necessary for debtors to pay interest on their loans. The commons were improved, so one could view this as non usurious, even though it was positive interest. For the most part, FEES are all that should accompany new loans, not compounding interest.
Canada had a quasi sovereign economy 1938 to 1974 and spent debt free into the commons and on public infrastructure, their economy did not polarize toward creditors. The Ministry of Finance owned all the common shares of Bank of Canada. BOC was a crown bank.
Note in all the "good" examples, interest flowed outward from an exogenous creator toward the population. In bad examples of interest, it drains purchasing power from the population.
By the way, a MEFOBILL scheme today could be used to release debts. The bill is created exogenously by Treasury or even a shell company. The bill has a drawer, payee and drawee. It is like a check. It channels toward a specific goal. For example, if you wanted to pay off student debts, then the bill would aim at the student, who then presents bill to bank holding student's debt instrument. Bill would eventually make its way to the FED through bank reserve loops, and FED would expand their ledger. FED would use their keyboard to make new dollars, which flow back into private bank system to pay off the students debt instrument. So double entry mechanic laws are not abrogated. Student's debt disappeared, and Mefobill stays on FED ledger forever, not accruing interest. Or, you could specify a small amount of interest to the bank as a fee for their operations.
U.S. could use Mefobill scheme to lure industry back to the U.S. as it specifically channels toward a goal.
The money system is something we humans created, it can be used for good or ill. To paraphrase Michael, we need good civil law that codes for morality.That was a soul-transforming read. It put into words what I could never put into words, but on an instinctive level I have always felt these things. I have always had this irrational hatred of bankers, landlords, capitalists, and any one else who dances to that faggy Gordon Gekko tune. But I could never figure out why, let alone explain it clearly. This article has done that for me right here and right now today. I am so grateful. This one is a keeper, now I finally understand my hate. And I am proud of it. This is why Hitler was a good person, he made these little bitch finance fags squeal and screech like the untermenschen they really are.Sean , says: April 7, 2019 at 8:49 am GMT
It is interesting to note that the facts explored in this article corroborate and synchronize with the facts explored in an amateur work titled "The Sumerian Swindle: How the Jews Betrayed Mankind." If you look you can print the book free off the internet somewhere.
From now on I only see humans in two distinct groups: productive people who work for a living, and parasitic leeches who exploit the former. Twas ever thus. Let us successfully genocide the latter in the near future.
Heil Hitler!The book sounds extremely interesting. I will probably get it, but that thing about the Kaiser is a bad mistake. The German nation had been subjected to France and its proxies marching across it for centuries. As always happens it unified in the face of threat, but financially the structure was still harking back to the Holy Roman Empire. Being decentralised as far as raising revenues was concerned, the Kaiser was unable to exert the full strength of Germany. The Weimar government instituted reforms were intended to remedy that for defensive purposes, but unfortunately Hitler inherited those reforms and that extra wherewithal was a major reason for the early military successes in WW2 that set the world agog.G. Poulin , says: April 7, 2019 at 11:01 am GMT
Germany began to be a mixed economy in the decades leading up to World War I. But it had a mentally retarded king whom they didn't know how to restrain, given their cultural faith in royalty. China is of course the most successful recent mixed economy.
Dubious.France had financed massive military preparation by Russia, and Poincaire (cousin of the brilliant physicist) was fixated with recovering Alsace and Lorraine (where he was born). The military situation was gravely deteriorating for Germany partly because Germany. The Kaiser did not attack France in 1905 when Britain had a tiny army and Russia was in chaos. That was the craziest thing he did as leader.Mr. Hudson thinks we can get the desirable results of Divine Kingship without having Divine Kings, simply by enacting "laws" that promote a broad distribution of wealth. But he also says that the oligarchy makes the laws and appoints the "elected" lawmakers. So he's engaged in an exercise in wishful thinking. There is no democratic path to his desired result.jacques sheete , says: April 7, 2019 at 12:16 pm GMTAn excellent tour de force completely relevant to the major problems we face today, so thank you , Ron Unz!onebornfree , says: Website April 7, 2019 at 12:39 pm GMT
and turn the government into a vehicle to help them exploit the rest of society.
It's extremely obvious that's is exactly what our "constitution" was designed to do. Hudson's insistence that debt must be government controlled runs into the problem consistently, which both he and the interviewer discuss.
Essentially, the problem is that whoever gets the power will abuse it. "The government" is no more a disinterested group of parties than the oligarchs or the plutocrats. The best answer is to have a noble ruling class, but good luck with that; it will never happen at least on a permanent basis.
So what's the answer? I wish I knew
The best [the Greek philosophers] could do was to inspire and educate individuals
I highly doubt anyone can do much more, but the last thing to do is to hope for some Messiah, especially a rich one. Are you tRumpeteers listening?
PS: I liked the mention of Aristophanes. All of his plays are as instructive as they are amusing and should be read by all. Same with Lucian of Samosata and Juvenal to mention just a few.JS said: "Right now most people think that government regulation and progressive taxation will make things worse,"Externality Combustion , says: April 7, 2019 at 12:46 pm GMT
Er, no, most people do not "think" that [ if they "think" at all].
They mostly "think" the exact opposite.
Due to their public [ie government funded] er,"education" [ie brainwashing], they are actually dumb enough to believe that more government, and more regulations will make things better for them, despite the fact that more than any other factor, it is the size and scope of government that has directly caused the financial problems most of them are now experiencing. "Stupid is a stupid does".
In fact, more, bigger government and more regulations will only further increase poverty and make things even worse for them all than they are today.
This just in:
"Because they are all ultimately funded via both direct and indirect theft [taxes], and counterfeiting [central bank monopolies], all governments are essentially, at their very cores, 100% corrupt criminal scams which cannot be "reformed","improved", nor "limited" in scope, simply because of their innate criminal nature." onebornfree
Government doesn't work" Harry Browne
"Taking the State wherever found, striking into its history at any point, one sees no way to differentiate the activities of its founders, administrators and beneficiaries from those of a professional-criminal class." Albert J. Nock
"Everything government touches turns to crap" Ringo Starr
"The kind of man who wants the government to adopt and enforce his ideas is always the kind of man whose ideas are idiotic" H.L.Mencken
Regards, onebornfreeRegarding global warming: Given that " just five to six degrees in average global warming would be enough to wipe out most life on the planet ," and realizing that the Trump Administration's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has already acquiesced to 4°C by 2100 , it is apparent that by 2125 to 2150 or soon thereafter, humanity will be over, guaranteed. Probably much sooner. Even completely destroying industrial civilization right now won't stop the 6th Mass Extinction, because of McPherson's Paradox .David , says: April 7, 2019 at 12:52 pm GMT
jacques sheete , says: April 7, 2019 at 1:09 pm GMT
There was no concept of linear progress in Antiquity. They thought that there was only one way to do things, so any reform must be the way the world was meant to be in the very beginning.
The Hebrews had their liberation from captivity, Hesiod had his three prior ages "before there was iron," Odysseus travels the world observing the various ways of men, Plato envisions a radical transformation of human society, Aristotle compares the constitutions of various Greek city-states, Thucydides resorts to archaeology to show that the Athenians were not the original inhabitants of the Attic Peninsula.
It's not difficult to come up with what seem to be counter examples to Hudson's assertion that there was no "linear progress" and no vision of other ways of doing things in Antiquity. Ancient Mediterranean societies did see humanity as moving in a direction, evolving by discovery and by making new institutions to address novel problems.@SeanDESERT FOX , says: April 7, 2019 at 1:15 pm GMT
but that thing about the Kaiser is a bad mistake.
I found that peculiar as well. Another thing that was out of place was the "deification" of Teddy Roosevelt and his so called trust busting as well as FDR's continuously "evolving" New Deals. Both Roosevelts and their programs were tRump-like frauds whose main interest was self aggrandizement at whatever cost.
Like tRump, the rhetoric was grand but the motive and execution left much to be desired. While I get what Hudson is saying when he sez "there oughta be a law," I think history has proven, repeatedly, that while there's a possibility that there ought to be one, it's not likely it'll do much good, and certainly no permanent good.
Great article nevertheless.The greatest debt creator in the history of America is the zionists privately owned FED and the zionist owned central banks in every country in the world that create money out of thin air and charge the goyim/proles for the use of this zionist created charade, which started in 1913 here in the zio/US with the diabolical draconian demonic FED.onebornfree , says: Website April 7, 2019 at 1:22 pm GMT
Free America, abolish the FED and return to government created , debt free money as was the case prior to December 23, 1913!@Externality Combustion Externality Combustion says: "it is apparent that by 2125 to 2150 or soon thereafter, humanity will be over, guaranteed."onebornfree , says: Website April 7, 2019 at 2:39 pm GMT
Hmm .Unless we all vote for . who exactly[who promises to do what, exactly]?
Who's gonna be our saviour, according to you, pray tell ?
Regards, onebornfree@G. Poulin G. Poulin says: "Mr. Hudson thinks we can get the desirable results of Divine Kingship without having Divine Kings, simply by enacting "laws" that promote a broad distribution of wealth. "jacques sheete , says: April 7, 2019 at 3:00 pm GMT
Yup. The whole, as per usual, "benevolent dictator" fantasy writ large, yet once again. It never stops.
You'd think that by now, this late in the game, and given history, that most people would have finally figured out that government "solutions" never worked , and never can, or will.
But no, luckily for governments, there's always a plentiful supply of new, brainwashed dreamer/fantasists [or "suckers" as P.T Barnum reportedly called them], who are ever more eager for a government that does what they think it should do, and who "think" that it/they actually will, despite all the historical evidence directly contradicting their inane fantasies.
See: "Why Government Doesn't Work" by Harry Browne:
Regards, onebornfreeMEFOBILLS , says: April 7, 2019 at 3:24 pm GMT
"Sometimes it is said that man cannot be trusted with the
government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the
government of others? Or have we found angels in the form of
kings to govern him? Let history answer this question."
–Thomas Jefferson: 1st Inaugural, 1801.
" idealists and realists begin to get on each other's nerves. But the real difference is in the capacity for appreciating the immense gap of blue inane which separates earth from heaven, and in the realist's unwillingness to assume that men have angels' wings. "
– Walter Lippman, Angels to the Rescue, The New Republic, January 1, 1916, p. 221 –
Human nature is still human nature. The angels haven't started breeding yet.
– William Allen White, Graft and Human Nature, review of Public Plunder, by David G. Loth, The Saturday Review, October 1, 1938, p. 6@onebornfree oneborn free, your screed is you projecting fears about abusive government.Wally , says: April 7, 2019 at 3:44 pm GMT
Hudson just explained in historical terms that it is only properly constructed government that can reign in Oligarchy. It is clear that society WILL polarize toward creditors if certain safeguards are not put in place.
So, you will have to come to grips with your cognitive dissonance.
Hudson also sets the framework for governments "proper role." Anything outside of that role is government overstepping its bounds.
By providing the framework, Hudson is doing the world a tremendous service, and as such he will go down as one of the great men of history.
New glasses are being put on your nose, but you prefer to wear your old glasses that make you see improperly?
It reminds me of all the wishful thinking about China, how their ghost cities are going to do them in, and their economy cannot keep doing so well, and so on. It is people not believing what is right in front of their eyes, or their inability to see outside of their brainwashed mentality.@obwandiyag No, Hudson is a Communist.MEFOBILLS , says: April 7, 2019 at 3:49 pm GMTHudson says that public banks are an option for erasing debts.Externality Combustion , says: April 7, 2019 at 3:56 pm GMT
China does this now with their state banks, which is one of their secret weapons.
In the mid 90's China swept all of their old communist era debt into the trash can. This then made their "books" look good to Western Finance standards, and China was essentially given MFN status.
Then it was game on! Wall Street soon greenmailed American industry to leave for China, to then get some of that wage arbitrage. We are living in the aftermath of this civilization destroying decision making by our ruling finance class.
China has helped the wall street finance class loot America, as China creates new Yuans from their state banks to match their countries growth rate. These new Yuans have to be there in order to swap for dollars won in trade. The dollars end up in China's state banks, and are recycled back to the U.S. to buy TBills instead of buying goods from mainstreet.
Today and reality is staring you in the face. Look at it. America's finance class did indeed export jobs and our patrimony, and china did indeed use their public banking system. China is working for their people's benefit, while a traitor class of finance oligarchy is working against the public interest in America.
Those of you who are against Public banks need to get real and look at actual data. For example, the bank of North Dakota is a public bank and has a good track record. Please, use data and think for yourself rather than being a brainwashed dupe.
Another way is to continue to use PRIVATE BANKS, and have public money. The money supply is nationalized, not the bank. All new money comes into being from a monetary authority or Treasury as per the constitution. Banks then become gyro, which is a fancy word for inter-mediation. Banks stop making money with a new debt instrument, but instead only match up new creditors and debtors with existing money.
Within each private bank are two piles of numbers: 1) Pile A is people's savings, which preferably was debt free at inception 2) Pile B is government credit, or national credit.
National Credit can be channeled toward specific goals that the country has agreed is in its interests.
You as a debtor can borrow from either pile. The national credit creates a debt instrument that can be easily jubileed in the same easy way as could a debt instrument hypothecated at a public bank.
Public banks to my mind are a little too close to government even though they have a good history. Nationalizing the money supply instead is better. Why? A good percentage of supply becomes floating money (debt free) and this component becomes a permanent inheritance to the people, giving them freedom to do commerce. An economically free people are also politically free.@onebornfree Savior? Nothing can stop what has been set in motion, namely, Earth's Sixth Mass Extinction, as the climate shifts rapidly to a New Cretaceous "hothouse" climate. Neither voting nor your anarchism can invalidate scientific evidence. Apparently, you can't read, because McPherson's Paradox explains humanity's conundrum in plain terms: (a) continuing to evaporate Earth's coal beds and oil fields into the atmosphere ensures our quick extinction from global warming, and (b) stopping fossil fuel use only hastens our demise, because of "global masking effect" or " global dimming ." Do you really think that evaporating coal beds and oil fields into the atmosphere has no consequences?Biff , says: April 7, 2019 at 4:15 pm GMT
"[T]heir complete extinction (in the co-extinction scenario) was abrupt, and happened far from their tolerance limits, and close to global diversity collapse ( around 5 °C of heating )"
Co-extinctions annihilate planetary life during extreme environmental change (Scientific Reports volume 8, Article number: 16724, published 13 November 2018) http://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-35068-1
Remember, Trump has already promised 4 °C of heating is baked into the cake, and stopping fossil fuel use would remove the "global dimming" effect of air pollution and lead to a near instantaneous rise of 2°C. A true paradox has no solution.@onebornfree You're a broken record that needs to be tossed up in the air in front of a twelve gauge.flashlight joe , says: April 7, 2019 at 4:15 pm GMT@MEFOBILLS @MEFOBILLSanonymous  Disclaimer , says: April 7, 2019 at 6:07 pm GMT
Very good and well thought out reply.@onebornfree Young man (I'm guessing):Stern , says: Website April 7, 2019 at 6:23 pm GMT
1. Please use your commenting privilege to address the substance of the articles. The sentence that you first quote is ancillary to this one, but you've plucked it out as a wedge for your umpteenth anarchic strut.
2. Why so frequently insulting? I happen to share your general perspective, but if you're prosletyzing your style stinks.
3. If nothing else, please realize that you only need to piss once on each hydrant to leave your mark.Sorry for my English. Could anyone write about whether or not there is a consolidated influence of the Zionist Jewish community within China?strikelawyer , says: Website April 7, 2019 at 7:03 pm GMTCan't we just solve our problems with a constitutional amendment?niteranger , says: April 7, 2019 at 7:17 pm GMT
https://strikelawyer.wordpress.com/2019/02/13/homestead-amendment-just-the-text/@Dutch Boy Unfortunately, Dr. Hudson never attacks the "Elephant in the Room -- –The Control of Economies by the Magic Jews." The Jews control all pathways including media, social and economic which they will never relinquish because with the money they make they control the world's politicians by using the greed of mankind against them.tz1 , says: April 7, 2019 at 7:20 pm GMT
The Jews use the Holocaust to intimidate stupid whites in Western Civilization with guilt and control everything including our foreign policy to immigration. Civilization will not survive as long as the power of the Jews continue to rule mankind.@Dutch Boy Consider that a 10 year loan at 4% now would then have a fee (simple, not even compound interest) of 40% of the principle.tz1 , says: April 7, 2019 at 7:22 pm GMT
It defeats the purpose of a loan paying over time. Even the 20% down is for equity, not prepayment of interest.
Or you could simply roll the fees in. There is a House for sale for $200,000. The bank buys it but then to get ownership with lein, and you have to pay the bank $300,000 to cover everything (do you get any equity before going positive?).
How about just saving money including gold in your mattress until you can afford something?@MEFOBILLS Federal Reserve, TARP, and QE – the debts of the banksters were erased and they paid themselves bonuses, and it took more cash that would pay off every mortgage of those who lost their homesjacques sheete , says: April 7, 2019 at 7:55 pm GMT@SternMEFOBILLS , says: April 7, 2019 at 8:28 pm GMT
Sorry for my English. Could anyone write about whether or not there is a consolidated influence of the Zionist Jewish community within China?
Your English is fine, and your question excellent.@niterangerSean , says: April 7, 2019 at 8:33 pm GMT
Unfortunately, Dr. Hudson never attacks the "Elephant in the Room -- –The Control of Economies by the Magic Jews."
Hudson does but in a peripheral way. See below. Our (((friends))) like to use their capital rather than labor. They use usury as a weapon, and tend to be among the Oligarch class. Why? Because their religion gives cover and sanction for predatory behavior. Note that our friends adore Hillel. Jewish religion went off the rails after Hillel, and is now an apologist for the creditor class, and hence against a balanced logos type world.
Hudson cannot go after the Jews, but I can and so can you. It is ok to point out where Jewish ideology becomes "Crime Inc." In fact, I find the most moral people to be anti-semites, so Hudson who obviously has a strong moral basis, is smart enough to NOT touch the Jewish third rail, or he would become persona non-grata.
There is no question Hudson possesses a first class mind, and by not touching the third rail he is preserving his career. It is up to us to decode what he is saying and we can be more blunt about things.
You don't have to be Jewish to be a predator, and by association most of us can decode what he is saying.
MH: Yes, but it ended with Rabbi Hillel and the Prozbul clause. Debtors had to sign this clause at the end of their debt contracts saying that they waived their rights under the Jubilee year in order to get a loan. That was why Jesus fought against the Pharisees and the rabbinical leadership. That's what Luke 4 is all about@jacques sheete He also seems very keen on China's policy. From what I can make out this is because the government loans the money and can cancel the debt. So China being locked into growth by massively Keynesian policies that cannot be haltet for fear of global economic collapse is a good thing it seems. Hmmm.jacques sheete , says: April 7, 2019 at 8:34 pm GMT@flashlight joe Yes it is. I prefer his second option.MEFOBILLS , says: April 7, 2019 at 8:38 pm GMT@tz1 Federal Reserve, TARP, and QE – the debts of the banksters were erased and they paid themselves bonuses, and it took more cash that would pay off every mortgage of those who lost their homesonebornfree , says: Website April 7, 2019 at 8:49 pm GMT
Yes of course. It would have been much better to take over the banks and give the "bond holders" a haircut.
What the haircut means is that the debt instrument cannot make claims on the future. The amount it can claim is written down to what the real economy can pay.
Our financial oligarchy did not want to take a haircut, and since they own the government, they made their politician puppets dance.
We cannot see what is in the bill till we pass the bill.
Some here have pointed out that democracy is a joke. Yes it is. Universal Suffrage democracy, where any rube can vote is especially bad.
You do need a ruling class which looks like the people it rules over. This ruling class also has to be servants of their people.
China's ruling class is constantly polling their people to get data on how they are doing. If a politician is found to be corrupt, they are killed or ejected. Think of it like your body, bad elements and parasites are attacked by the immune system, otherwise you (the host) will die.@Biff "You're a broken record that needs to be tossed up in the air in front of a twelve gauge."onebornfree , says: Website April 7, 2019 at 8:52 pm GMT
Seem like a lot of trouble to go to – especially as I might be carrying a 12 gauge, or similar, myself
This just in: there's an "ignore" button – I suggest you learn how to use it.
No regards, onebornfree@anonymous anonymous • Disclaimer says: " your style stinks. "onebornfree , says: Website April 7, 2019 at 8:58 pm GMT
I happen to like to "stink". Get used to it, get over it, or use the "ignore" button.
No regards, onebornfree@Wally Wally says: "No, Hudson is a Communist."MEFOBILLS , says: April 7, 2019 at 8:59 pm GMT
Yes, that appears to be the case.
But regardless of whether the "commniunist" label is completely accurate or not, he's just yet another in a long line of naive intellectuals who thinks that the government can solve problems, problems it alone created.
"The kind of man who wants the government to adopt and enforce his ideas is always the kind of man whose ideas are idiotic" H.L.Mencken
Regards, onebornfree@tz1 Fee's on a loan should cover the bank's cost, which is a tiny fraction of what they take now in the form of usury.onebornfree , says: April 7, 2019 at 9:18 pm GMT
Think closely on this, the bank makes a loan, and it is only a matter of typing of a debt instrument. Today with computers that amounts to a few minutes of work. They then on-sale the debt instrument to another, usually TBTF bank, and get rid of any risk.
The better way is for people to pool their savings, and the bank is gyro. Debtor then buys a house borrowing your savings. The old savings and loan system worked like this.
In Canada, when they had a sovereign banking system (1938 to 1974) they used trusts. Banks were not allowed to hypothecate new housing loans. Trusts and savings and loans both pool existing money and loan it out.
It was a beneficial cycle where the young borrowed from the old, and the old benefited from some interest income, to then buy goods and services produced by the young.
Interest isn't always bad, but you have to look at it in context. About 70% of debt instruments resident at banks are hypothecated against land. This is so finance oligarchy can GRAB THE LAND in a depression via swaps or other schemes. Depressions are inevitable when M2 is always draining to pay debts at interest.
In the case of Canada's trust system, the interest was cycling back to the young (interest was pointing outward to the population) to buy goods and services they produced.@MEFOBILLS MEFOBILLS says: "Hudson just explained in historical terms that it is only properly constructed government that can reign in Oligarchy. It is clear that society WILL polarize toward creditors if certain safeguards are not put in place.So, you will have to come to grips with your cognitive dissonance. Hudson also sets the framework for governments "proper role." Anything outside of that role is government overstepping its bounds."onebornfree , says: Website April 7, 2019 at 9:23 pm GMT
Short answer: "The kind of man who wants the government to adopt and enforce his ideas is always the kind of man whose ideas are idiotic" H.L.Mencken
MEFOBILLS says: "Hudson also sets the framework for governments "proper role.""
This just in: it's "proper role" [ in the US] was already [supposedly ]"set" via the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and more famously via a coup d'etat which resulted in the scam called "The Constitution and Bill of Rights" .
Although the Constitution remains a scam to this day, a return to its supposed limits would, at least temporarily, drastically downsize the federal government, which would be step in the right direction.
For government is the problem, never the solution.
But of course, yourself [and most others here] remain too brainwashed [by the government, and with your money] to ever understand that
regards, onebornfree@onebornfree Correction: "communist" , not "commniunist". My bad.Sollipsist , says: April 7, 2019 at 9:37 pm GMTYa gotta watch out when someone takes Marx's economic observations (which were impressive) as an automatic pass for his social prescriptions (which were a gateway to hell on earth).Wizard of Oz , says: April 7, 2019 at 9:38 pm GMT@Dutch Boy As a matter of logic aren't those creators of money reducing the value of the money held by those who have saved to get it? So doesn't fairness require that they use interest rates to maimtain the stability of the currency's value?Wizard of Oz , says: April 7, 2019 at 9:49 pm GMT@Max So you advocate euthanasia (when you are feeling nice rather than cruel and vengeful) of the rapidly increasing retired population? Understood that you need to support the infant generation but Hitler had the answer for that one didn't he: euthanasia of those who wouldn't be able to contribute. How long do we indulge people with an unemployment benefit?Wizard of Oz , says: April 7, 2019 at 9:54 pm GMT@Sean Thank you. Even if I conclude the BS component is high, you have given me thoughts to follow upWizard of Oz , says: April 7, 2019 at 10:03 pm GMT@jacques sheete Which US subsidy programs might be regarded as proleptic jubilees? And writeoffs like that massive solar energy disaster under Obama are surely equivalent to the jubilees. And welfare payments are surely jubilees in advance.anon  Disclaimer , says: April 7, 2019 at 10:06 pm GMT@niteranger The Control of Economies by the Magic Jews? But do we Gentiles not owe our material wealth to the Jews for the blessing they've provided us ? Whites are utterly incapable of providing their own salvation .Ilyana_Rozumova , says: April 7, 2019 at 10:32 pm GMTYup! kings forgave debts.onebornfree , says: Website April 7, 2019 at 10:34 pm GMT
When they needed suckers to fight and die for them.@Sollipsist Sollipsist says: "Ya gotta watch out when someone takes Marx's economic observations (which were impressive) as an automatic pass for his social prescriptions (which were a gateway to hell on earth)."republic , says: April 7, 2019 at 10:43 pm GMT
Wrongo. Marx's economic theories were as as idiotic as his social prescriptions- in fact, his "social prescriptions" were directly derived from his idiotic economic theories, which is exactly why such "social prescriptions" are, as you say, "a gateway to hell on earth".
As for the author of this article , pure Marxist or not, his own "social prescriptions" are, like Marx's , the mere pontifications of a pseudo-intellectual statist, fantasizing about solving social problems via that which he worships and adores , that is , yet more government [of the "right" kind, mind you, and despite its obvious failure to do any such thing to date].
Another case of "the blind leading the blind", I'm afraid, just more of the same old hackneyed "government should do this- government can solve this " claptrap .
.and so it goes.
Regards, onebornfree@Max https://archive.org/details/TheSumerianSwindle/page/n1MEFOBILLS , says: April 7, 2019 at 10:50 pm GMT@WallyMEFOBILLS , says: April 7, 2019 at 10:57 pm GMT
No, Hudson is a Communist.
Hudson spent half the article talking about mixed economies being the best and only type to work.
Also, it was the JEWISH CREDITOR CLASS, that funded Bolshevism. Wall Street Jews and some London money funded the Bolsheviks.
Bolshevism in turn was not what Marx had intended.
Marx thought that industrial capitalism, especially that of the type he witnessed in Germany, would evolve into an advanced form of socialism mixed economy. It would evolve after industrial capitalism failed, or industrial capitalism would have evolved.
Instead, finance capitalism, that of the rentier credit class won out .
When Marx died, he said "I am a most unhappy man."
Instead of getting caught up in labels, look at the data or what they actually believe in. It takes a little bit more energy and effort, rather than falling for simple platitudes.
Hudson's childhood background was Bolshevik, but he didn't pick his parents. If you look at his actual body of work, he is analyzing where all economic systems fail.
Russian and Chinese communism failed because markets are not purely inelastic. You cannot pretend that every market type needs government control, especially when pricing signals will work. Systems that are predicated on lies, will not survive in the long term.@onebornfreeAnonymous  Disclaimer , says: April 7, 2019 at 11:08 pm GMT
For government is the problem, never the solution.
Simple minded platitudes.
ALL COMPLEX SYSTEMS HAVE HIERARCHY!
All advanced civilizations have hierarchy.
There has to be a "brain" for any complex organization, it will not self organize.
This whole market is your god, or gold is your god is the rentier class duping you with hypnosis.
Funny thing about Libertarian-tards and their junk economics, the very thing they want they cannot have because their ideology brings about what they don't want – economic slavery.
Free markets are free for the rentier to take his gains on your life energy and turn you into his debt slave.
OH BUT MY FREE-DUMB.@onebornfree Your LoLbertarianism has the same stupid goal as Marxism, i.e., achieving glorious stateless society.Sam J. , says: April 7, 2019 at 11:08 pm GMT
• "Withering away of the state" is a Marxist concept
• Both anarchists and Marxists seek a stateless society
• This is the "anarchy" of the future stateless society which Marx and Engels had accepted in 1872. Man becomes "his own master – free". The first condition for this full-fledged freedom is: freedom from the state, not of the state, nor merely in the state. As far as Marx's eye could see, the state is not the guarantor of freedom
You and Marx are cut from the same cloth.This is one the most brilliant things I've ever read here. I've read a great deal about the various facts and events Mr. Hudson talks about but I've never been able to put them together like Mr. Hudson. He's provided a framework for realizing how all these seemingly disparate events fit together. I'm very grateful.Anon  Disclaimer , says: April 7, 2019 at 11:26 pm GMT@Wizard of Oz Retirees weren't regarded as parasites by National Socialism, Schlomo. Your parasitic ilk, however, were.Alfred , says: April 7, 2019 at 11:32 pm GMT
"The Nazi social welfare provisions included old age insurance , rent supplements, unemployment and disability benefits, old-age homes the NSV often refused to provide aid to Jews " – National Socialist People's Welfarereturn from Babylonlysias , says: April 8, 2019 at 12:06 am GMT
This is fake history. Mythology becoming history. A Jewish speciality.
1- The Jews were never in Ancient Egypt – or the Egyptians would have documented it.
2- There is absolutely no archeological artifact from the Palestine region that show that they were there before their exile. Plenty of proof that the Egyptians had been there earlier on.
3- Palestine was desert at that time and had been abandoned by the Egyptians as it was infertile – not a land of milk and honey. Yemen was agricultural and prosperous.
4- The Jews were exiled from Yemen – because they and non-Jewish Arabs (the Jews and Arabs were the same people at that time), continued to raid the caravans bringing goods from Yemen to Petra. The Babylonians punished them by taking them back to Babylon. After the Persians liberated them, some went back to Yemen and some went to Palestine.
5- Locations in the Old Testament correspond to places in Yemen and Hejaz. Even their names.The best counter to Robert Michels's iron law of oligarchy (whatever the ostensible form of government, it turns out in practice to be oligarchic rule by the group that has the real power) was devised by Cleisthenes in Athens shortly before 500 B.C.: give power to average citizens by appointing to offices ordinary citizens randomly chosen. It worked, as is shown by how deeply resented it was by oligarchs like Plato.lysias , says: April 8, 2019 at 12:08 am GMT@Alfred Mythical history can have a profound effect on the people who believe in the myth.lysias , says: April 8, 2019 at 12:13 am GMT@MEFOBILLS Doctrinaire idolators of the laissez-faire mythology have a habit of calling anyone who disagrees with their dogmas Communist.wayfarer , says: April 8, 2019 at 12:46 am GMTonebornfree , says: Website April 8, 2019 at 1:38 am GMT
Executive Order 6102
Is a U.S. Presidential Executive Order signed on April 5, 1933 , by President Franklin D. Roosevelt forbidding the hoarding of gold within the continental United States .
It required all persons to deliver on or before May 1, 1933, all but a small amount of gold coin, gold bullion, and gold certificates owned by them to the Federal Reserve , in exchange for $20.67 (consumer price index, adjusted value of $400 today) per troy ounce. Under the Trading with the Enemy Act of 1917, as amended by the recently passed Emergency Banking Act of March 9, 1933, violation of the order was punishable by fine up to $10,000 (equivalent to $193,548 today) or up to ten years in prison, or both .
Order 6102 specifically exempted "customary use in industry, profession or art", a provision that covered artists, jewelers, dentists, and sign makers among others. The order further permitted any person to own up to $100 in gold coins (a face value equivalent to 5 troy ounces (160 g) of gold valued at about $6,339 in 2016).
source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Executive_Order_6102@MEFOBILLS MEFOBILLS says: "All advanced civilizations have hierarchy.There has to be a "brain" for any complex organization, it will not self organize. "mcohen , says: April 8, 2019 at 1:41 am GMT
So presumably, a half wit such as yourself knows exactly what that hierarchy should be, who the "brain" "should" be and exactly what and where everyone's "correct" place within it "should" be, because people cannot self organize.
Sieg Heil, mein fuhrer! You're an even dumber sheep than I had initially suspected!
"Because they are all ultimately funded via both direct and indirect theft [taxes], and counterfeiting [central bank monopolies], all governments are essentially, at their very cores, 100% corrupt criminal scams which cannot be "reformed","improved", nor "limited" in scope, simply because of their innate criminal nature." onebornfree
"Taking the State wherever found, striking into its history at any point, one sees no way to differentiate the activities of its founders, administrators and beneficiaries from those of a professional-criminal class." Albert J. Nock
"Everything government touches turns to crap" Ringo Starr
"The kind of man who wants the government to adopt and enforce his ideas is always the kind of man whose ideas are idiotic" H.L.Mencken
No regards, onebornfree@Alfred Alfie.EliteCommInc. , says: April 8, 2019 at 1:45 am GMT
5th century bc jewish settlement.Common knowledge amongst the Chosen.This where we learnt the secrets of the gateways to the soul.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/ElephantineThere are several problems with Dr. Hudson's views here. Some have referenced some. I would point out that we already have laws and practices to restrict the use of wealth from impoverishing the population. But you have to have a leadership willing to enforce or apply them. We have had no less than three major financial bailouts of the financial class in the US. And at no time was the bailout extended to the industries consumers. I am unclear what the prescription is to divorce the political class from the financial class.EliteCommInc. , says: April 8, 2019 at 1:53 am GMT
The only new law that would make sense are laws that bar legislators from owning, stocks, sitting on the boards of stocks or any financial institution they manage. And that would have to extend to all immediate family members. Further, one has to completely cut off funds from lobbyists, activists and the corporate class entities.
The economy is already comprised of mixed practices: private ownership and wealth creation, government employment, non-profit entities and taxation and other programs that assist citizens, i.e. welfareThe one over riding observation I would make about the economy is that we continue to have a trade imbalance, which according to an old rule of thumb suggests that economy is not really growing.annamaria , says: April 8, 2019 at 2:08 am GMT@G. Poulin Mr. Hudson makes his contribution towards the greater good by educating the populace. What's your problem? -- He is not a fairy. He is a knowledgeable and honest person; the former requires a lot of willpower, the second requires courage.utu , says: April 8, 2019 at 2:45 am GMT@MEFOBILLS Libertarians were invented and constructed on purpose to serve as the useful idiots of oligarchs whom they worship and do everything to protect their right to be oligarchs while at the same time being sodomized by them.Anonymous  Disclaimer , says: April 8, 2019 at 3:56 am GMT@onebornfree The Government of the State is people self-organizing. Who else organized it, the dogs?restless94110 , says: April 8, 2019 at 4:24 am GMTI am very happy to read this interview, because for me, this is the first time that I have completely understood Michael Hudson's work. And I say this after watching countless of his interviews over the past 8 years.
Before this interview here, I had always wanted to ask him if the Clean Slate policies disappeared over 3000 years ago, then what was he saying in his books and lectures? If the entirety of Western Civilization is based on oligarchy, rentiers, then what hope is there for anything? I mean the Romans lasted a thousand years doing this rentier stuff. That's a long time for misery.
Now, with this interview I understand more fully the period after the Civil War and into the FDR Presidency as a partially-successful attempt to make things in the country different, more egalitarian, more correct. And after this interview, I understand Hudson's main point: the road to change lies in understanding the failures of antiquity.
Looking at things through the rentier oligarchy lens has been the revelation in my life in the past 10 years. I never undeststood Chile & Allende until then. Likewise with antiquity and likewise with the history of the United States. But those of us who do understand these things, thanks in great part to Michael Hudson, are few.
As part of a very late stage college degree I earned 4 years ago, I took an Econ class in my last semester. The class featured certain films as it related to economics and that was indeed very interesting (I had never seen Coppola's "Tucker: The Man And His Dream" before so that was "entertaining"), but the text book for the class was Friedman. I read it and could not believe how dunderheaded, how wrong it was. And I realized from communication with the professor that he believed all of it. His attitude seemed to be: who are you to question economics orthodoxy, you uppity undergrad.
This interview above was both enlightening and depressing. How many decades longer do we have to go before things change?
Apr 08, 2019 | angrybearblog.com
likbez , April 8, 2019 2:43 am
I would say that the opioid addition epidemics reveals not only greed of Big Pharma, but also strongly resembles the epidemics of alcoholism in the USSR in late 70th and 1980th.
It probably might be viewed as yet another sign of the despair of people with the current economic and social conditions. And also sign of crisis of neoliberalism as an ideology much like Marxism before it
Only a complete idiot now believe in "shareholder value" mantra, or "free market" hype ( "free" for whom, why" free" and nor "fair" ), or the USA "democracy promotion" policies abroad (which for some reason always accompanied by looting of the target country)
A large percentage of students at universities laugh about the content of their "neo-classical" economics courses behind the professor back and view them as just an exercise in hypocrisy necessary to get the diploma.
Milton Friedman now is viewed not as a respectable scholar but as a criminal who supported Pinochet and despicable intellectual prostitute of the financial oligarchy.
What is interesting is that the current economic conditions as dismal as they are still much better in the USA than in other societies in which people were converted into debt slaves and country are mercilessly looted by the local neoliberal oligarchy and international financial institutions.
So it might be that not the absolute level that matters, but the level of and the speed of deterioration of the standard of living and social security. As well as the general understanding that "the train left the station" and the situation will only deteriorate.
A couple of relevant quotes from Pope Francis Evangelii Gaudium (2013):
55. One cause of this situation is found in our relationship with money, since we calmly accept its dominion over ourselves and our societies. The current financial crisis can make us overlook the fact that it originated in a profound human crisis: the denial of the primacy of the human person! We have created new idols. The worship of the ancient golden calf (cf. Ex 32:1-35) has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose. The worldwide crisis affecting finance and the economy lays bare their imbalances and, above all, their lack of real concern for human beings; man is reduced to one of his needs alone: consumption.
Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded. We have created a "disposable" culture which is now spreading. It is no longer simply about exploitation and oppression, but something new.
Exclusion ultimately has to do with what it means to be a part of the society in which we live; those excluded are no longer society's underside or its fringes or it's disenfranchised – they are no longer even a part of it.
The excluded are not the "exploited" but the outcast, the "leftovers".
In any case, it is indisputable that in the USA under neoliberalism in 40 years or so the standard of living of middle class deteriorated and good job disappeared. In this sense, the opioids epidemics is just the tip of the iceberg.
Trump election is another manifestation of the same -- rejection by people of the neoliberal establishment -- the middle finger to the ruling elite.
The USA is not an exception. In most countries, far-right is gaining strength politically, like in 1920th. And that's a dangerous development which in the USA is strengthened by imperial thinking of the elite (aka "Full Spectrum Dominance") that decimates the standard of living of the middle class due to the current level of military expenditures needed to maintain absolute military superiority and the cost of permanent neo-colonial wars.
So the "Full Spectrum Dominance" might be a mousetrap from which the USA can't escape without major damage.
Still, as corrupt and despicable as the current neoliberal elite is (Biden, Hillary, Pelosi, Trump, and so on and forth), they are preferable to neo-fascists.
Apr 04, 2019 | www.unz.com
Wally , says: April 4, 2019 at 4:43 pm GMT@JR ssaid:
If one recognizes that Brzezinski's "The Grand Chessboard, American Primacy & Its Geostrategic Imperatives (1997)" in replacing "Lebensraum" with "control over Eurasia", "Tausendjähriges Reich" with "American Primacy" and providing our 'elite' with an "realist" and "amoral" excuse to act completely and consistently immoral one has to recognize too that this "Grand Chessboard" is an amalgamation of 'Mein Kampf' and 'Il Principe".
Except that Germany did not send Germans into the conquered territories during WWII, though they wanted to do so.
Mar 31, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com... ... ...
Running in the background, though, was a new, darker theme: That the post-2008 reforms had gone too far in restricting policymakers' discretion in crises. The trio most responsible for making the post-Lehman bailout revolution -- Ben Bernanke, Timothy Geithner, and Henry Paulson -- expressed their misgivings in a joint op-ed :
But in its post-crisis reforms, Congress also took away some of the most powerful tools used by the FDIC, the Fed and the Treasury the FDIC can no longer issue blanket guarantees of bank debt as it did in the crisis, the Fed's emergency lending powers have been constrained, and the Treasury would not be able to repeat its guarantee of the money market funds.
These powers were critical in stopping the 2008 panic The paradox of any financial crisis is that the policies necessary to stop it are always politically unpopular. But if that unpopularity delays or prevents a strong response, the costs to the economy become greater.
We need to make sure that future generations of financial firefighters have the emergency powers they need to prevent the next fire from becoming a conflagration.
Sotto voce fears of this sort go back to the earliest reform discussions. But the question surfaced dramatically in Timothy Geithner's 2016 Per Jacobsson Lecture, " Are We Safer? The Case for Strengthening the Bagehot Arsenal ." More recently, the Group of Thirty has advanced similar suggestions -- not too surprisingly, since Geithner was co-project manager of the report, along with Guillermo Ortiz, the former Governor of the Mexican Central Bank, who introduced the former Treasury Secretary at the Per Jacobson lecture.
Aside from the financial collapse itself, probably nothing has so shaken public confidence in democratic institutions as the wave of bailouts in the aftermath of the collapse. The redistribution of wealth and opportunity that the bailouts wrought surely helped fuel the populist surges that have swept over Europe and the United States in the last decade. The spectacle of policymakers rubber stamping literally unlimited sums for financial institutions while preaching the importance of austerity for everyone else has been unbearable to millions of people.
Especially in money-driven political systems, affording policymakers unlimited discretion also plainly courts serious risks. Put simply, too big to fail banks enjoy a uniquely splendid situation of "heads I win, tails you lose" when they take risks. Scholars whose research INET has supported, notably Edward Kane , have shown how the certainty of government bailouts advantages large financial institutions, directly affecting prices of their bonds and stocks.
For these reasons INET convened a panel at a G20 preparatory meeting in Berlin on " Moral Hazard Issues in Extended Financial Safety Nets ." The Power Point presentations of the three panelists are presented in the order in which they gave them, since the latter ones sometimes comment on Edward Kane 's analysis of the European banks. Kane, who coined the term "zombie bank" and who famously raised early alarms about American savings and loans, analyzed European banks and how regulators, including the U.S. Federal Reserve, backstop them.
Peter Bofinger , Professor of International and Monetary Economics at the University of Würzburg and an outgoing member of the German Economic Council, followed with a discussion of how the system has changed since 2008. Helene Schuberth , Head of the Foreign Research Division of the Austrian National Bank, analyzed changes in the global financial governance system since the collapse.
The panel took place as public discussion of a proposed merger between two giant German banks, the Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank, reached fever pitch. The panelists explored issues directly relevant to such fusions, without necessarily agreeing among themselves or with anyone at INET.
But the point Robert Johnson, INET's President, and I made some years back , amid an earlier wave of talk about using public money to bail out European banks, remains on target:
We are only interested observers of the arm wrestling between the various EU countries over the costs of bank rescues, state expenditures, and such. But we do think there is a clear lesson from the long history of how governments have dealt with bank failures . [If] the European Union needs to step in to save banks, there is no reason why they have to do it for free best practice in banking rescues is to save banks, but not bankers. That is, prevent the system from melting down with all the many years of broad economic losses that would bring, but force out those responsible and make sure the public gets paid back for rescuing the financial system.
The simplest way to do that is to have the state take equity in the banks it rescues and write down the equity of bank shareholders in proportion. This can be done in several ways -- direct equity as a condition for bailout, requiring warrants that can be exercised later, etc. The key points are for the state to take over the banks, get the bad loans rapidly out of those and into a "bad bank," and hold the junk for a decent interval so the rest of the market does not crater. When the banks come back to profitability, you can cash in the warrants and sell the stock if you don't like state ownership. That way the public gets its money back .at times states have even made a profit.
In 2019, another question, alas, is also piercing. In country after country, Social Democratic center-left parties have shrunk, in many instances almost to nothingness. In Germany the SPD gives every sign of following the French Socialist Party into oblivion. Would a government coalition in which the SPD holds the Finance Ministry even consider anything but guaranteeing the public a huge piece of any upside if they rescue two failing institutions?
The full article of Edward Kane
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WheresOurTeddy , March 29, 2019 at 11:49 am
Enforcement of financial laws is not our thing. Just ask Chuck Schumer of the #Non-Resistance:
Synoia , March 29, 2019 at 12:13 pm
It waz the Russians wot did it!
The ones Russing around the WasNeBos corridor.
Louis Fyne , March 29, 2019 at 12:17 pm
there needs to be an asset tax on/break up of the megas. End the hyper-agglomeration of deposits at the tail end.
not holding my breath though. (see NY state congressional delegation)
to be generous, tax starts at $300 billion. Even then it affects only a dozen or so US banks. But would be enough to clamp down on the hyper-scale of the largest US/world banks.
The world would be better off with lot more mid-sized regional players.
thesaucymugwump , March 29, 2019 at 12:17 pm
Anyone who mentions Timmy Geithner without spitting did not pay attention during the Obama reign of terror. He and Obama crowed about the Making Home Affordable Act, implying that it would save all homeowners in mortgage trouble, but conveniently neglected to mention that less than 100 banks had signed up. The thousands of non-signatories simply continued to foreclose. Not to mention Eric Holder's intentional non-prosecution of banksters. For these and many other reasons, especially his "Islamic State is only the JV team" crack, Obama was one of our worst presidents.
chuck roast , March 29, 2019 at 12:21 pm
Thank you Yves and Tom Ferguson.
Fergusons graph on DBK's default probabilities coincides with the ECB's ending its asset purchase programme and entering the "reinvestment phase of the asset purchase programme".
The worst of the euro zombie banks appear to be getting tense and nervous.
Maybe that is why Jerome Powell did his volte-face last month on gradually raising interest rates. Note that the Fed also reduced its automatic asset roll-off. I'm curious if the other euro-zombies in the "peers" return on equity chart are are experiencing volatility also.
Craig H. , March 29, 2019 at 1:04 pm
Apparently the worst fate you can suffer as long as you don't go Madoff is Fuld. According to wikipedia his company manages a hundred million which must be humiliating. It's not as humiliating as locking the guy up in prison would be by a very long stretch.
Greenspan famously lamented that there isn't anything the regulators can really do except make empty threats. This is dishonest. The regulations are not carved in stone like the ten commandments. In China they execute incorrigible financiers all the time.
John Wright , March 30, 2019 at 10:31 am
Greenspan was never willing to counter any problem that might irritate powerful financial constituencies.
For example, during the internet stock bubble of the late 1990's, Greenspan decried the "irrational exuberance" of the stock market.
The Greenspan Fed could have raised the margin requirement for stocks to buttress this view, but did not.
As I remembered reading, Greenspan was in poor financial shape when he got his Fed job.
His subsequent performance at the Fed apparently left him a wealthy man.
Real regulation by Greenspan may have adversely affected his wealth.
It may explain why Alan Greenspan would much rather let a financial bubble grow until it pops and then "fix it".
Procopius , March 31, 2019 at 12:30 am
Everybody forgets (or at least does not mention) that Greenspan was a member of the Class of '43, the (mostly Canadian) earliest members of the Objectivist Cult with guru Ayn Rand. Expecting him to act rationally is foolish. It may happen accidentally (we do not know why he chose to let the economy expand unhindered in 1999), but you cannot count on it. In a world with information asymmetry expecting markets to be concerned about reputation is ridiculous. To expect them to police themselves for long term benefit is even more ridiculous.
rd , March 29, 2019 at 3:06 pm
I think Finance is currently about 13% of the S&P 500, down from the peak of about 18% or so in 2007. I think we will have a healthy economy and improved political climate when Finance is about 8-10% of the S&P 500 which is about where I think finance plays a healthy, but not overwhelming rentier role in the economy.
Inode_buddha , March 29, 2019 at 4:51 pm
I think things will be much better when finance is about ~3% of the S&P 500, but no more than that.
Mar 27, 2019 | www.theguardian.com
No country in the world recognizes Israel's rule over the Golan Heights, occupied by Israel in 1967 and unilaterally annexed in 1981 – no country, that is, until now.
Donald Trump signed a presidential proclamation on Monday formally recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, still considered Syrian territory under international law. Standing by President Trump's side during an address by the two heads of state in Washington DC, the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, reportedly called Trump's decision " historic justice " and gifted the president a box of wine from the occupied territory. As they embraced, Israeli forces began an aerial bombardment of the besieged Gaza Strip after rockets launched from Gaza hit a house in a community north of Tel Aviv earlier that day.
Trump's announcement is unmistakably an election-time favor for Netanyahu. Saddled with multiple corruption charges, including one for bribery, Netanyahu and his Likud party have been flagging in the polls. Likud increasingly appears threatened by the center-right Blue and White party, jointly headed by the taciturn retired general Benny Gantz and former TV personality Yair Lapid. Netanyahu's desperation can be measured by the extremity of his rhetoric. He and his surrogates have spent the past several weeks waging a hateful, vicious campaign, accusing the Arab political parties of supporting terrorism and explicitly warning that a Gantz and Lapid victory would lead to dead Israelis.
Many in Israel, however, view Netanyahu, despite his flaws, as a talented statesman and skilled advocate for the country's interests on the international stage, and Netanyahu has campaigned on achievements such as normalizing relations with the Gulf states and the US embassy's move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The Golan Heights declaration – which initially took even the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, who was in Israel at the time, by surprise – is likely meant to bolster this image.
Trump's recognition of the Golan Heights marks the total capture of US policymaking in the Middle East by pro-Israel right
But Trump's Golan Heights proclamation is not just a cynical political gambit. It is a dramatic change in US policy in the Middle East that could have serious consequences. Trump, unlike his predecessors, has never even pretended to abide by international norms and conventions. And yet the decision to recognize Israeli sovereignty over territory that the international community nearly unanimously considers occupied, or at the very least disputed, is unprecedented.
It gives a formal US stamp of approval to Israel's violation of international law, and, in particular of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits an occupying power from transferring its civilians into occupied territory. Roughly 20,000 Israeli settlers live in the occupied Golan Heights today – now with the unambiguous backing of the US government.
This potentially paves the way for Israel's annexation, in part or whole, of the West Bank. It has long been a talking point on the Israeli hard right that, despite the international community's protestations, there would be few consequences for extending Israeli sovereignty over the West Bank . Trump's declaration, it seems, has not only proven them right, but given them an added boost: unlike during the Obama years, they can be confident that the global hegemon will take their side.
If Netanyahu's Likud wins enough seats on 9 April to form a government, it is very like that annexation, at the very least, will be on the table for discussion. The Likud's central committee unanimously voted in 2017 in favor of annexing the West Bank. Naftali Bennett, co-chair of the New Right party, has proposed a plan to annex parts of Area C of the West Bank. And the other rightwing parties – the extremist Union of Parties of the Right and Moshe Feiglin's Identity party, both of which would almost certainly sit in a future Likud government – have only more extreme proposals for dealing with "the Palestinian question", including the forced transfer of Palestinians out of the West Bank and into Jordan.
Trump's recognition of the Golan Heights marks the total capture of US policymaking in the Middle East by pro-Israel right. US ambassador to Israel David Friedman is an opponent of the two-state solution who previously operated the charitable arm of a rightwing orthodox religious seminary in the West Bank settlement of Beit El. Jared Kusher's family is so close Netanyahu that the prime minister once slept in Kushner's childhood bedroom . Between the Trump administration's personnel and rightward lurch in Israeli politics, the pieces that would make the current one-state reality permanent are rapidly falling into place.
It is important to remember this in light of the glitz and pablum of the AIPAC policy conference taking place this week in Washington DC, where the PR hacks and policy flacks are working hard to launder Israel's image, to obscure the fact that there is one sovereign state between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea that determines the lives of roughly 13 million people; that of those 13 million, only half – Israeli Jews – have full citizenship and social rights; and that the other half, the Palestinians, live under a range of discriminatory systems, from codified discrimination but legal citizenship within Israel, to residency without the right to vote in East Jerusalem, to military dictatorship in the West Bank. Donald Trump , his administration, the pro-Israel lobby, and Netanyahu all intend to keep it that way.Joshua Leifer is an associate editor at Dissent. Previously, he worked at +972 Magazine and was based in Jerusalem
Oct 07, 2015 | The Guardian
goatrider 7 Oct 2015 17:12
I wonder if everyone on the Guardian staff has the same "man crush" on Putin? Could explain all these obsessive articles. I also wonder if he spent any time in the penalty box?
laticsfanfromeurope -> Extracrispy 7 Oct 2015 17:06
You prefer ISIS and Al-Nusra then the legitimate Syrian gov. and the legitimate help of Russia...not a surprise from stupid western supporters!
pfox33 7 Oct 2015 17:05
There isn't one of our western politicians that wouldn't sell his fucking mother to be getting the attention that Putin's getting. I thought he was supposed to be isolated.
So to keep the hockey thing going, Putin's stolen the puck in the neutral zone, split the Nato defensemen who were too far forward and is on a breakaway.
I feel sorry for Obama because I think he's a good leader but when it comes to trying to maneuver in a geopolitical situation like Syria he's fucked before he leaves the house. Putin can just act without trying to herd cats like Obama has to do with his Nato minions. He doesn't have a bunch of recalcitrant GOP senators calling him everything but a white man and running their mouths about what they would do.
... ... ...
filin led -> Braminski 7 Oct 2015 16:55
It's you who are a troll, sir. By what you say, anything can be dismissed as paid propaganda. That means, you are as likely to be a paid agent yourself. So, if you can't come up with a constructive argument, stop commenting please.
Mordantdude -> Poppy757 7 Oct 2015 16:40
As Russians say: "Envy silently".
giacinto101 7 Oct 2015 15:59
We could all use a real leader like Putin who takes no b.s. from anybody and is quick to adapt to any situation in a calm assertive way. He earns our admiration every day, the way he steers across an ever changing minefield and not because of his mucho image. We do not need leaders who deceit people by spewing relentless propaganda and no clarity. They fail as individuals and as a group because they are spineless. If multiple people repeat the same lie it does not make it true. It must be a club membership requirement to play the politics game and keep quiet about wrong things you see.
SilkverBlogger 7 Oct 2015 15:54
Action man outwitting the Neocons in the international chess game. More surprises to come
CIAbot007 -> Poppy757 7 Oct 2015 15:39
Most of Aussies have a bit of common sense which says that you can't blame anyone before it is prooved. With Western MSM propaganda machine blaming Russia and Putin even before anything happens you bet there's no such thing as balanced and unskewed reporting and even will for any kind of such thing. Don't get fooled, use your brain or your brain will be used by someone else.
SilkverBlogger 7 Oct 2015 14:48
Karl Rove said "Empire creates its own reality". No wonder the mantra "Assad must go" is now enshrined in international politics by the Neocon alliance. They didnt figure on Putin obviously.
PekkaRoivanen MTavernier 7 Oct 2015 14:30
In the West, we don't have a sycophantic press kissing the leader's backside:
Guardian: Barack Obama scores just 2 out of 22 basketball hoops - video
You wrote that Obama plays basketball and you prove it with this video where Obama wears dress shirt (tie removed :-D) and scores badly.
Are you sure Obama plays basketball? Or is it just press kissing his backside?
Kev Kev Hektor Uranga 7 Oct 2015 14:28
the USA persecutes and kills people who speak out against it. Only difference is the USA does it in ways that nobody sees.. In other words the USA is the same as Russia only they do their work in the dark. When nobody is looking.
Abiesalba MTavernier 7 Oct 2015 14:26
That's the guy who is wishing Putin a happy birthday.
The US/UK duo have caused with their insane illegal wars more than a million deaths in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and counting.
I recommend you look up a little the complex history and present situation in Chechnya and the North Caucasus region.
ISIS (which the insanely aggressive US/UK duo have in effect created) is already spreading its influence INSIDE the Russian Federation. So Putin has direct interests to defeat ISIS and stabilise Syria (and Iraq). In addition, the south of the Russian Federation is on the map of territories which ISIS plans to conquer.
See for example:
8 ISIS supporters killed in N. Caucasus special op
(2 August 2015)
Russian security forces have foiled a terrorist group that recently pledged allegiance to ISIS in Ingushetia, in the Northern Caucasus, according to the National Anti-Terror Committee (NAC). Security forces seized explosives, weapons and over 2,000 rounds of ammunition.
How Russian Militants Declared A New ISIS 'State' In Russia's North Caucasus
(26 June 2015)
The Islamic State group announced the creation of its northernmost province this week, after accepting a formal pledge of allegiance from former al Qaeda militants in the North Caucasus region of Russia.
It is true that at present, the Chechens are begging Putin to let them strike in Syria (and this is also closely linked to the complicated history of North Caucasus), but Putin has not unleashed them. See for example here:
Kadyrov asks Putin to allow Chechen infantry to fight in Syria (RT, 2 October 2015)
The head of the Chechen Republic has asked the Russian president to send Chechen units to fight Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) in Syria, adding that his fighters have sworn to fight terrorists till the end.
"Being a Muslim, a Chechen and a Russian patriot I want to say that in 1999 when our republic was overrun with these devils we swore on the Koran that we would fight them wherever they are," the Chechen leader said. "But we need the Commander-in-Chief's decision to do this," he emphasized. According to the Russian Constitution, the president [Putin] is also the commander-in-chief of the military forces.
BMWAlbert clanview46 7 Oct 2015 14:26
It happens regardless, take the example in Volgograd (Vauxhall) two years ago. I am afraid that KSA and the Gulf States will be funding the usual mix of 'moderately terroristic shenanigans" in reprisal, but they did this before anyways.
Julian1972 MTavernier 7 Oct 2015 14:21
That was last year...also it was authored by a combination of the CIA and their right-wing 'Operation Stay Behind' cohorts...though, if you don't know that by now you doubtless never will.
Abiesalba MTavernier 7 Oct 2015 14:16
Murderers, thieves and embezzlers stroking each other's egos.
Putin has a long way to go to match the US/UK.
Here is a recent report about 'collateral damage' compiled by Physicians for Social Responsibility, Physicians for Global Survival and the Nobel Prize-winning International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War:
Body Count: Casualty Figures After 10 Years of the 'War on Terror' (Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan)
This investigation comes to the conclusion that the war has, directly or indirectly, killed around 1 million people in Iraq, 220,000 in Afghanistan and 80,000 in Pakistan, i.e. a total of around 1.3 million.
NOT included in this figure are further war zones such as Yemen.
The figure is approximately 10 times greater than that of which the public, experts and decision makers are aware of and propagated by the media and major NGOs.
And this is only a conservative estimate. The total number of deaths in the three countries named above could also be in excess of 2 million, whereas a figure below 1 million is extremely unlikely.
For more about civilian casualties due to the US-led coalition strikes in Syria and Iraq, see the Airwars website:
584 – 1,720 civilians killed:
To date, the international coalition has only conceded two "likely" deaths, from an event in early November 2014. It is also presently investigating seven further incidents of concern; is carrying out credibility assessments on a further 13; and has concluded three more investigations – having found no 'preponderance of evidence' to support civilian casualty claims.
More Power -> MTavernier 7 Oct 2015 14:13
He making the US looked like whiny bitches. Good job; you alienate Russia and manage to strengthen the China-Russo relationrelationship. Sanctions that don't work, secret economic wars and multiple failed coup d'etat in Georgia and Ukraine [also do not work]. Just look at the World Bank, BRICS is on the door step. Happy birth day Putin. A badass mofo
blueskis -> MTavernier 7 Oct 2015 14:06
The vats majority of the 5500 killed have been civilians in East Ukraine killed by airstrikes ordered by kiev/washington, fully justifying Russian intervention.
ooTToo -> MTavernier 7 Oct 2015 13:40
Like US - Hospital - Afganistain. anyway ISIS are paid money by the CIA and don't care who they work for it's money that they are motivated by not ideology, that ideology stuff is made-up. Google it and dig, get yourself informed.
geedeesee -> MTavernier 7 Oct 2015 13:19
Russia is attacking what they said they'd attack, Tavernier. ISIS, al-Nusrah, and other terrorist organisations.
inconvenienttruth13 -> MTavernier 7 Oct 2015 13:18
No he isn't. Anybody with a functioning brain knows he had nothing to do with that. Unlike the US genocide in the Middle East - over 2 million dead and counting - not to mention the deliberate and sustained attack on a hospital. Maybe you don' get to see the news in your ward?
inconvenienttruth13 -> MTavernier 7 Oct 2015 13:13
The US created, funds, trains and arms ISIS - they are only supporting terrorists in their campaign to effect regime change. Russia is responding to a request fro the Syrian government, so its actions are entirely legal. The faces that the USA and the KSA are the biggest sponsors of terrorism in the world.
monteverdi1610 7 Oct 2015 12:22
Not quite sure why Mr Putin playing ice-hockey on his birthday is worthy of a story to open up for comments unless the Guardian is ' trawling ' to encourage some new anti-Putin Cold War rhetoric in the comments section.
PS / Don't forget that nice Israeli Prime Minister Mr Netanyahu's birthday and how he celebrates it. Ensure you open it up for comment as I'm sure also that many will wish to voice an opinion. Will this now be a standard ' Birthday Feature ' for all world leaders in the Guardian, or has this newspaper just granted an exception for Mr Putin's birthday ?
Mar 18, 2015 | Russia Insider
Washington is betraying the best interests of the American people through its current foreign policy... European democracy is threatened by US, not Russian, foreign policy
The avalanche of commentary since the Ukrainian crisis erupted a year ago has overshadowed any reflections on the immense forgone benefits (technically speaking, the "opportunity cost") of what might have been if Washington had been working for peace and stability instead of war and chaos.
Imagine the following: After the unraveling of the Communist bloc, Europe, in partnership with the US, had forged a new security system in which Russia was treated as a valued and equal partner – one whose interests were respected. Russia, decimated by a century of wars and Communist imperialism, would doubtless have eagerly reciprocated in kind. Most countries of the former Soviet Union would have then proceeded to build a new Eurasian structure of which Russia would have served as the natural umbrella, given its long-standing interaction with the region's diverse nations and cultures.
Indeed, as Putin himself had proposed in his visionary October 2011 article, the Eurasian Union could have become one of the pillars of a huge harmonized economic area stretching from Lisbon to Vladivostok and based on the EU's single-market rules (acquis communautaire).
The rising Far Eastern economic powerhouse, with the world's most populous country, China, at its centre, would have linked up with the world's largest economy (the EU). An enormous Eurasian production and financial bloc would have been created – one that drew primarily on secure supplies of Russian energy and other natural resources. Untold investment opportunities would have opened up in Siberia and Russia's Far East as well as in Central Asia. Hundreds of millions of people in Eurasia and elsewhere would have been lifted out of poverty. And, not least, the EU would have been refashioned as an integral part of the dynamic trans-Eurasian economy (rather than as a German-centred empire, as appears to be the case today), thereby making a major contribution to overcoming the ongoing global economic depression.
All of this was not to be, however. Why not? First and foremost, because the self-proclaimed "exceptional" power (actually, a mere "outlying island" in the Atlantic, according to the founder of geopolitics, Halford Mackinder) and its dysfunctional "deep-state" officialdom did not want it to be. How could they have permitted such a thing? How could they have allowed other countries to get on with improving the lives of their citizens without being obliged to seek Washington's approval every step of the way?
European democracy is threatened by US, not Russian, foreign policy
In order to make sure that they were not side-lined, the US elites had to intervene. The Western propaganda machine started churning out all sorts of nonsense that Putin is a new Hitler who is bent on restoring the Soviet empire and who is bullying Europe, while continuing to bang on about his "increasingly autocratic rule".
Deadly attacks by chauvinistic proxies were launched on the Russophone people in South Ossetia, Georgia in 2008 and more recently in Ukraine.
And in what is eerily reminiscent of Stalinist "bloc discipline", the EU/NATO nomenclature was ordered to implement the absurd strategy of severing the Russian economy from the EU. For their part, the cowering Eurocrats willingly obliged by imposing sanctions on Russia that, perversely, have had a negative impact on their own economies (but, let it be stressed, not that of the US). No questions raised and no public debate on the wisdom of such a strategy permitted.
Stuck in an Orwellian nightmare, Europe has to demonstrate its unfailing loyalty to Big Brother and go along with the view that Russia, an intrinsic and valuable part of the European mainstream both historically and culturally, represents universal evil and that the Earth will not be safe until the Federation has been dismembered and Putinism wiped out once and for all.
This abuse and humiliation of Europe is unparalleled. The continent that gave the world the wonders of the Antiquity, modern democracy, the industrial revolution and what is arguably the greatest tradition of philosophy, fine arts and classical music is being bullied by its oversized offspring. Having self-destructed in two world wars, it has become an easy and even willing prey to an arrogant, ignorant and power-drunk predator that has never experienced the hardships and horrors that Europe has. War and extermination camps are etched into the European DNA. America "knows" about them only from afar – and, not least, from the Hollywood entertainment industry.
Even more terrifying, intellectually third-rate Washington viceroys such as Victoria Nuland and the freelancing armchair warrior Senator McCain are allowed to play God with our continent. The so-called European "leaders" are colluding with them in plunging Europe into the abyss and thereby risking nuclear confrontation.
America, too, is a loser
But this is not just a tragedy for Europe and Eurasia. We are also witnessing the wilful misrule of America and, by default, of the entire West. Indeed, Washington is betraying the best interests of the American people through its current foreign policy. The "democracy-promoters" running Washington's foreign-policy apparatus apparently do not understand that America has nothing to lose and a lot to gain from the Eurasian economic project: the rising tide of global economic welfare would lift everyone's boats, including its own. Why should it matter to Washington if the rising tide comes from other quarters beyond its control?
Indeed, the damage extends beyond the economy. By aligning with the forces of chaos – such as chauvinistic extremists in Ukraine – Washington and its Euro-vassals are corrupting the moral (and intellectual) core of the West. If it continues to support such forces against Russia, united Europe will lose not only its backbone but its very soul. The moral consequences of this loss will be enormous and could lead to the precipitous erosion of Western democracy.
The 'autocrats' want to work with the West, not against it
US and EU leaders believe that the Russian and Chinese "autocrats" are out to destroy the West because the latter hate freedom (as George W. Bush might have put it). And hence, they argue, the autocrats must be stopped in their tracks. The simple truth is that Western leaders are too blinkered to understand that far from desiring to destroy the West, Russia and China want it to prosper so that they can work with it to everyone's benefit. Having enjoyed a privileged position over several centuries and having attained unprecedented prosperity in recent decades, the West simply cannot understand that the rest of humanity has no interest in fomenting the "clash of civilizations" but rather craves peace and stability so that it can finally improve its economic lot.
Perhaps, however, all is not yet lost. It is still possible that reason – and economic forces – will prevail and force the West to correct the errors of its ways. What we need, perhaps, more than ever is the ability to step out of the box, question our fundamental assumptions (not least about Russia and China) and find the courage to change policies that have proved disastrous. After all, critical thought, dispassionate analysis and the ability to be open to new ideas is what made the West so successful in the past. If we are to thrive once again in the future, we must resurrect these most valuable and unsurpassed assets.
Vlad Sobell teaches political economy in Prague and Berlin Europeans Look On as US Sows Discord on the Continent Wed, Nov 2
What I cannot understand is the naive belief that elected politicians would act in the interests of those whom they represent. Under what other circumstances do we see human beings act with disinterested altruism? So why would a bunch of people who have been ruthlessly selected for selfishness, arrogance, and callousness - a bunch of carefully chosen psychopaths, if you will - behave in that way?
'My Ph.D. dissertation chairman, who became a high Pentagon official assigned to wind down the Vietnam war, in answer to my question about how Washington gets Europeans to always do what Washington wants replied: "Money, we give them money." "Foreign aid?" I asked. "No, we give the European political leaders bagfuls of money. They are for sale. We bought them. They report to us." Perhaps this explains Tony Blair's $50 million fortune one year out of office'.
- Paul Craig Roberts
"Washington is betraying the best interests of the American people through its current foreign policy".
Not only it's foreign policy but it's domestic policy as well. Let's call it for what it really is. The Wall Street/Corporate policy which is the driving force behind behind everything the US does
"We, the [CENSORED] people, control America and the Americans know it." -- Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of [CENSORED]
"When we're done with the U.S. it will shrivel up and blow away." -- Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of [CENSORED]
The welfare or future of the American people are not part of the equation.
Mar 15, 2019 | medium.com
How the Boeing 737 Max grounding and the Genoa bridge collapse show us that allowing companies to self-certify the safety of their products can be deadly
On Wednesday the United States joined 42 other countries in grounding Boeing's 737 Max 8 jets, days after a crash in Ethiopia of a 737 Max 8 jet left 157 people dead. The United States was a holdout, taking days longer to ground the planes than most of Europe. Our Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said, in those days between, that they weren't grounding the planes because " the agency's own reviews of the aircraft show no 'systematic performance issues.' "
There were some conflicting accounts of exactly how the US came to ground the 737 Max 8. A statement from Boeing on Wednesday read that "Boeing has determined -- out of an abundance of caution and in order to reassure the flying public of the aircraft's safety -- to recommend to the FAA the temporary suspension of operations of the entire global fleet of 371 737 MAX aircraft."
In other words, Boeing claimed it was their idea / recommendation that the FAA ground the aircraft. Meanwhile, Donald Trump declared that he grounded the aircraft by executive order, forcing the FAA's hand.
Which begs the question -- why did it take a presidential decree and/or the company itself to get the FAA, the main agency responsible for overseeing airplane transit in the United States, to ground potentially dangerous aircraft?
As James Hall, the former National Transportation Safety Board chairman, explained in the Times , in 2005 the FAA turned its safety certification responsibilities over to the manufacturers themselves (if manufacturers met some requirements). In plain speak, this means that Boeing got to decide if Boeing's airplanes were safe enough to fly -- with no additional third-party checks.
The FAA said the purpose of this change was to save the aviation industry roughly $25 billion between 2006 to 2015.
Given this, it makes you wonder if the statement on Tuesday by Acting FAA Administrator Daniel K. Elwell -- that the agency had conducted its own review -- was factual, or if the agency had simply reviewed the safety review that Boeing had conducted on itself. It also clarifies why Boeing came to recommend to the FAA that their planes be grounded, rather than the FAA taking any decisive action on their own.
The term for this maze, where a government safety agency allows an industry to regulate itself so the industry can save some money , and where the industry itself has to be the one to recommend to government that their product shouldn't be in operation pending investigation, is regulatory capture .
From Wikipedia : "Regulatory capture is a form of government failure which occurs when a regulatory agency, created to act in the public interest, instead advances the commercial or political concerns of special interest groups that dominate the industry or sector it is charged with regulating."
The issue, in short, is that it is rarely in a business' self-interest to ensure the absolute safety of their products. Safety testing takes time, money, and if inspections reveal problems that need fixing, more money. Corporations are profit maximizers and pursue whatever method they need to minimize cost (including minimizing fixing flaws in their products) and maximize profit.
Without the threat of outside inspection or serious repercussions, there are few incentives to fix potential problems. Insurance covers accidents, and most mega-corporations have funds set aside in their operating budgets to pay the (generally small, relative to their operating budgets) fines governments may impose if and when a problem is discovered.
This is why it is unlikely that industry will ever sufficiently regulate itself on safety issues. Remember Edward Norton's job in "Fight Club"? "The car crashes and burns with everyone trapped inside. Now, should we initiate a recall? Take the number of vehicles in the field, A. Multiply it by the probable rate of failure, B. Multiply the result by the average out-of-court settlement, C. A x B x C equals X. If X is less than the cost of a recall, we don't do one."
The United States isn't alone in turning over self-certification of its transportation and infrastructure to industry. The Genoa Bridge Collapse in Italy last year, in which 43 people died, is another case.
The Morandi Bridge is a privately-owned toll bridge, publicly built but later sold off to Autostrade, a company majority owned by the Benetton clothing family. As a private infrastructure company, Autostrade has a profit maximization goal of keeping bridge maintenance costs low and toll profits high. Thanks to further privatization efforts of the Italian government, the safety and inspection of bridges is also conducted by private companies. In the case of the Morandi Bridge, the inspection company responsible for safety checks and certification of the bridge was owned by Autostrade's parent company, leaving the company that owns the bridge to self-certify its safety. The result, as the world saw, was a bridge that collapsed.
As Texas engineer Linwood Howell said in the Times, "the engineers inspecting the bridge would have their own professional liabilities to worry about, including the profits of the company that was paying them," i.e. a clear conflict of interest between maintaining basic safety and ensuring their own jobs.
Meanwhile, as Italian law professor Giuliano Fonderico noted , "the government behaved more like its first priority was cooperating with Autostrade, rather than regulating it."
These current examples of regulatory capture are the latest in a series of examples from recent times; others have pointed to regulatory capture in the Federal Reserve during the economic crisis , and the Mineral Management Service during the BP Oil Spill , to name two. Unfortunately it is only when a tragedy occurs that the public expresses concern.
George Stigler, who received the Nobel Peace Prize in Economics in part for his work around regulatory capture in 1982, believed that it was likely that industry would come to dictate the regulatory issues within their industries because of personal connections, a greater understanding of issues facing industry than the general public, but mostly, a public ignorance around what their regulators are up to.
Perhaps it is time for people to pay a little more attention to what our regulators, who we pay to protect us from bridge collapses and plane crashes, are up to. There are some people with big ideas on fixes for regulatory capture, but public demand will also need to exist for real reform efforts to take place.
Mar 17, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.comBrookings Senior Fellow and author Robert Kagan in March 2018. (Brookings Institution/Paul Morigi) Robert Kagan warns us about global authoritarianism:
Of all the geopolitical transformations confronting the liberal democratic world these days, the one for which we are least prepared is the ideological and strategic resurgence of authoritarianism. We are not used to thinking of authoritarianism as a distinct worldview that offers a real alternative to liberalism.
We are not used to thinking of authoritarianism as a distinct worldview because it isn't one. All authoritarian states share certain things in common, and they may see some of the same things as threats, but there isn't a single worldview that all authoritarian governments subscribe to. There is no one ideology that binds them together. Most of them are nationalistic to one degree or another, but because of that they usually have competing and opposing goals. Treating all authoritarian regimes as part of the same global threat lumps illiberal and majoritarian democracies together with kleptocracies, communist dictatorships, and absolute monarchies. That exaggerates the danger that these regimes pose, and it tries to invent a Cold War-like division between rival camps that doesn't really exist. If the U.S. treats these states as if they are all in league with one another, it will tend to drive together states that would otherwise remain at odds and keep each other at arm's length.
Kagan's preferred foreign policy requires that there is some global "ideological confrontation" for the U.S. to be engaged in. If there isn't one, it has to be invented. His account of the history of the 20th century shows how determined he is to see international politics in terms of grand ideological battles even when there wasn't one. He takes seriously the idea that WWI is one of these struggles: "But for those who fought it, on both sides, it was very much a war between liberalism and authoritarianism." Kagan makes the mistake of treating wartime propaganda descriptions of the war as the real motivation for the war, and he relies on stereotypes of the nations on the other side of the war as well. The world's largest colonial empires were not fighting for "the liberties of Europe" and they certainly weren't fighting for the rights of small nations, as wartime British propaganda would have it, and that became abundantly clear in the post-war settlement. It was primarily a war among empires for supremacy in Europe, and the surviving Allied empires consolidated their hold on their own colonial possessions and gained more. To the extent that Americans genuinely believed that joining the war had something to do with vindicating the cause of democracy, they were quickly disabused of that notion when they saw the fruits of the vindictive settlement that their allies imposed on the losing side.
Kagan admits that there are many differences of regime type that he is trying to collapse into one group:
We have become lost in endless categorizations, viewing each type of non-liberal government as unique and unrelated to the others -- the illiberal democracy, the "liberal" or "liberalizing" autocracy, the "competitive" and "hybrid" authoritarianism. These different categories certainly describe the myriad ways non-liberal societies may be governed. But in the most fundamental way, all of this is beside the point.
In other words, Kagan isn't all that interested in details or accuracy. Those are "beside the point." What matters is dividing up the world into two opposing camps: "Nations are either liberal, meaning that there are permanent institutions and unchanging norms that protect the "unalienable" rights of individuals against all who would infringe on those rights, whether the state or the majority; or they are not liberal." The criteria for qualifying as a liberal nation are extremely demanding. What institutions can honestly be called "permanent" and what norms are ever truly "unchanging"? Judged against this extreme and unreasonable standard, there won't ever be many nations that qualify as liberal, including quite a few that we would normally consider liberal democracies in good standing. That makes it a lot easier for Kagan to exaggerate the power of "resurgent authoritarianism."
Kagan doesn't make it explicit in this essay, but his larger goal in all of this is to advocate for a more confrontational foreign policy mobilized against the authoritarian enemies that he has described. He hints at this when he disparages contemporary "realists" whom he doesn't name or cite:
Just as during the 1930s, when realists such as Robert Taft assured Americans that their lives would be undisturbed by the collapse of democracy in Europe and the triumph of authoritarianism in Asia, so we have realists today insisting that we pull back from confronting the great authoritarian powers rising in Eurasia.
To be much more accurate, there are realists, non-interventionists, and progressives that see no compelling reason for the U.S. to engage in destructive rivalries with major authoritarian powers in their own backyards. Except for a lame, overused comparison to the 1930s, Kagan doesn't even try to explain why we are wrong to think this. Kagan assumes that such destructive rivalries are both necessary and desirable, and this essay is the latest part of his effort to lay the groundwork for the ideological justification for those rivalries.
Kagan's analysis suffers from the problem of mirror-imaging that always plagues ideologues. He assumes that everyone sees the world in starkly ideological categories just as he does, and he thinks that other actors are just as determined to export their ideology as he is. His entire worldview depends on linking great power competition with larger ideological causes, and for almost thirty years there has been no such "ideological confrontation" for Kagan to theorize about. Despite Kagan's insistence to the contrary, there still isn't. He wants the U.S. to take a more confrontational approach to dealing with Russia and China, and in order to sell that today he has to dress it up as something more than the destructive and costly pursuit of hegemony that he has been pushing for decades. The U.S. has spent the last twenty years fighting wars that Kagan and other like-minded interventionists advocated for and endorsed. We shouldn't make the same mistake again when the stakes are even higher.
Minnesota Mary March 17, 2019 at 1:56 pmA recent WSJ article (03/11/19) titled "Russian Gas Plan Divides U.S., Allies" with the subtitle "Washington fears undersea project would make Germany too reliant on Moscow" tells the tale of what the real reasons for America to demonize Russia and Putin. The U.S. leaders fear that the German-Russian pipeline project, Nord Stream 2, will make Europe reliant on Russian energy instead of Europe purchasing it energy from the United States. What gives the U.S. the right to stop one nation from doing commerce with other nations? The answer is "Greed."Kouros , says: March 17, 2019 at 3:41 pm
All wars are predicated on lies, and all wars are fought for economic reasons and not the so called humanitarian reasons that are fed to the people.Always insightful indeed: Kagan is and will until the bitter end defend American hegemony and the ideological mantle will be used as a cover (Mel Gibson screaming "Freedom!" in Bravehart; killing the babies and stealing the incubators!).JR , says: March 17, 2019 at 3:57 pm
People also forget that US is not a democracy, but a managed Republic, and according to all indicators, it is not even that liberal
So better save this post because you are still young and in 30 years from now you will be able to re-post it and just change a couple of namesIronically he seems in the same (lack of) weight class (intellectually) as Pompeo.Stephen J. , says: March 17, 2019 at 5:22 pmYou write:Taras 77 , says: March 17, 2019 at 7:15 pm
"The U.S. has spent the last twenty years fighting wars that Kagan and other like-minded interventionists advocated for and endorsed."
Right on the mark. The fallout from the actions of these "interventionists" is millions are dead in a number of countries. Millions are refugees and thousands of soldiers are dead or maimed. More facts on these war criminals at link below.
https://graysinfo.blogspot.com/2019/01/the-facts-on-crimes-of-war-criminals.htmlThanks much for this, Mr Larison.prolegomenon to any future foreign policy , says: March 18, 2019 at 2:27 am
Anytime, anywhere, anyone comes out and destroys kagan's Zionist globalist babble as you have done, it is a very commendable exercise for the good of mankind and America.
This Kagan family, with Robert now the lead figure, has done a great deal towards furthering conflicts and violence in the world. It is long past time that they be put in their place, whatever that is, but it will not happen because their Zionist mindset is very well funded.
Your article does a public service."The U.S. has spent the last twenty years fighting wars that Kagan and other like-minded interventionists advocated for and endorsed. We shouldn't make the same mistake again when the stakes are even higher."
We ought to do more than that. He should be muzzled and sent to live in a cave somewhere to repent the consequences of the terrible damage he and other incompetents have done to America. That people like this still have access to the media is almost beyond belief.
Mar 15, 2019 | nationalinterest.org
Nick Klaus Mr Russian • 2 days ago ,milo Mr Russian • 2 days ago ,
You are a little wrong when you call this system "colonial". Today it is neo-colonialism. When the United States subordinates the country, they do not bear any responsibility for the fate of this country, since the formally subordinate country remains independent and all its actions are performed "voluntarily."
Ukraine is a good example. Now this country commits ritual suicide "completely voluntarily."Mr Russian milo • 2 days ago ,
They've thought of that. That's why they tell us "The US has no colonies". Because you have to support them if you admit to owning them. That's why by 1960, every colonial nation on earth was giving its own colonies independence. They were costing more than they were worth.
What we do now is to groom some local fellow, like Guaido, to take over the government and run it the way we would like him to. We pay generously for this favor, in the form of loans and direct investments. The fortunate ones near the seat of power come out fabulously well. But neither we nor the country's rulers take on any responsibility for the welfare of their people.
One of the dictators we backed was the director of the Brazilian military, who seized power back in 1964... a fellow named Castelo Branco. And he was asked once at a press conference how the economy was doing.
He replied "The economy, it is doing marvelously! The people, on the other hand-- not so good."milo Mr Russian • 2 days ago ,
If you don't offer protection to your puppet eventually some other power might try the same trick and overthrow him. But if you do provide protection that area becomes a colony.
So what you describing can only work when there is only one major power on the planet. The US enjoyed it for some time but it can't have it anymore, that's reality.
The system is predicted to work some time into the future, for the reason that it is based on subterfuge and military force. And we have a military as large as that of the entire rest of the planet put together. So to us it doesn't matter what you call it. They control the media, so they can just not report a word you say about them.
What will undo it will be a collapse of the dollar-based economy. And that will be kind of hard to achieve, as every rich person on earth keeps his wealth denominated in dollars. So there is little pressure to kill it. That's why we always used to call it The Almighty Dollar.
However there are limits. Our main weapon now being used to enforce behavior is financial sanctions. So it's pretty much assured that at some point in the near future the sanctioned nations (Russia, China, Iran, Venezuela...) will be getting together to set up an alternate financial system. Probably based on the yuan.
That's the thing about offensive weapons systems. As a Mexican wit put it "Let them build a twenty foot wall. We will build a 21 foot ladder."
Mar 14, 2019 | jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.com
"But the impotence one feels today -- an impotence we should never consider permanent -- does not excuse one from remaining true to oneself, nor does it excuse capitulation to the enemy, what ever mask he may wear. Not the one facing us across the frontier or the battle lines, which is not so much our enemy as our brothers' enemy, but the one that calls itself our protector and makes us its slaves. The worst betrayal will always be to subordinate ourselves to this Apparatus, and to trample underfoot, in its service, all human values in ourselves and in others."
"And in some ways, it creates this false illusion that there are people out there looking out for the interest of taxpayers, the checks and balances that are built into the system are operational, when in fact they're not. And what you're going to see and what we are seeing is it'll be a breakdown of those governmental institutions. And you'll see governments that continue to have policies that feed the interests of -- and I don't want to get clichéd, but the one percent or the .1 percent -- to the detriment of everyone else...
If TARP saved our financial system from driving off a cliff back in 2008, absent meaningful reform, we are still driving on the same winding mountain road, but this time in a faster car... I think it's inevitable. I mean, I don't think how you can look at all the incentives that were in place going up to 2008 and see that in many ways they've only gotten worse and come to any other conclusion."
"Written by Carmen Segarra, the petite lawyer turned bank examiner turned whistleblower turned one-woman swat team, the 340-page tome takes the reader along on her gut-wrenching workdays for an entire seven months inside one of the most powerful and corrupted watchdogs of the powerful and corrupted players on Wall Street – the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
The days were literally gut-wrenching. Segarra reports that after months of being alternately gas-lighted and bullied at the New York Fed to whip her into the ranks of the corrupted, she had to go to a gastroenterologist and learned her stomach lining was gone.
She soldiered through her painful stomach ailments and secretly tape-recorded 46 hours of conversations between New York Fed officials and Goldman Sachs. After being fired for refusing to soften her examination opinion on Goldman Sachs, Segarra released the tapes to ProPublica and the radio program This American Life and the story went viral from there...
In a nutshell, the whoring works like this. There are huge financial incentives to go along, get along, and keep your mouth shut about fraud. The financial incentives encompass both the salary, pension and benefits at the New York Fed as well as the high-paying job waiting for you at a Wall Street bank or Wall Street law firm if you show you are a team player .
If the Democratic leadership of the House Financial Services Committee is smart, it will reopen the Senate's aborted inquiry into the New York Fed's labyrinthine conflicts of interest in supervising Wall Street and make removing that supervisory role a core component of the Democrat's 2020 platform. Senator Bernie Sanders' platform can certainly be expected to continue the accurate battle cry that 'the business model of Wall Street is fraud.'"
Pam Martens, Wall Street on Parade
Mar 11, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org
David , Mar 10, 2019 2:18:10 PM | linkAnyone remember Mullah Omar, the deceased leader of the Taliban? The U.S. military and intelligence services claimed over and over again that he was hiding in Pakistan. Bette Dam finds (pdf) that he wasn't:The fact that Mullah Omar's death was suppressed for two years even from high-level official sources, indicates to me that the theory bin Laden died in 2001 is very plausible. We even have a similar progression of statements regarding their respective health, doubts of whether they were alive at the respective time, etc.After 2001, Mullah Omar never stepped foot in Pakistan, instead opting to hide in his native land -- and for eight years, lived just a few miles from a major U.S. Forward Operating Base that housed thousands of soldiers.
In late 2001, after the U.S. invasion, Mullah Omar resigned as leader of the Taliban and the movement officially surrendered to Hamid Karzai who promised them reconciliation. The U.S. did not like that and launched a vengeful campaign against all former Taliban member. Eighteen years later the U.S. is suing for peace.
Mullah Omar lived quietly, meditated and studied religious text. Allah remarked on his death:On April 23, 2013, Mullah Omar passed away. That day, Jabbar Omari told me, the hot, dry lands of southern Afghanistan experienced something he'd never seen before: a hail storm. I assumed it was hagiographic bluster, but later I found a U.S. army publication referring to that day: "More than 80 Task Force Falcon helicopters were damaged when a sudden unprecedented hailstorm hit Kandahar Airfield April 23, where nearly half of the brigade's helicopters were parked."
Of course, both terror leaders were kept "alive" for geopolitical reasons. Once ISIS (and later Russia/China) took over as a serious threat in the corporate media narrative, they no longer had to cling to those old phantoms.
Jose Garcia , Mar 10, 2019 2:38:46 PM | linkThe story on Omar is astonishing, but to me not surprising. If the US spends billions on finding one guy, and at the end of the day, he is literally just down the road, it shows how incompetent and useless our intelligence gathering has become.
That 93% of all personnel that are employed by the CIA are paper pushers in Langley and just 7% are in the field, of which I read sometime ago, has a ring of truth to me.
Stupidity has a firm grip on our rulers, and they are getting, not only us but many others, killed for absolutely no reason. And the dunces called the American voter, keep re-electing them. It leaves me breathless.
Mar 10, 2019 | finance.yahoo.com
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is launching a review of the main set of rules governing stock trading, opening the door to the biggest potential changes in a decade-and-a-half, the head of the agency said on Friday.
The possible changes are aimed at making it easier to trade illiquid stocks, making more trading information available to investors, and improving the speed and quality of public data feeds needed for trading.
The SEC in 2005 adopted a broad framework called Regulation National Market System that was largely aimed at ensuring retail investors get the best price possible and preventing trades from being executed at prices that are inferior to bids and offers displayed on other trading venues.
Since then, faster, more sophisticated technology has put a bigger focus on rapid-fire, high-speed trading. There has also been an influx of new electronic stock exchanges, fragmenting liquidity and increasing costs for brokers around exchange connectivity and market data needed to fuel algorithmic trading.
"It is clear that the market challenges we faced in the early 2000s are not the same as the issues that we confront over a decade later," Jay Clayton, chairman of the SEC, said at an event in New York.
To get a better grasp of current market issues, the SEC held a series of roundtable discussions with industry experts last year that led to potential rule-making recommendations around thinly-traded securities, combating retail fraud, and market data and market access, Clayton said.
Some areas the SEC is looking at include:
- - Increasing the speed of, and adding more stock price information to, public data feeds to help make them more competitive against the more expensive, private data feeds sold by most stock exchanges.
- - Allowing thinly-traded securities to trade only on their listing market, rather than on all 13 U.S. stock exchanges.
- - Improving disclosure around reverse mergers.
- - Adjusting the quote size of some high-priced stocks.
The 2019 review follows an active 2018 for the SEC.
The regulator adopted rules to increase transparency around broker-dealer stock order routing and private off-exchange trading venues. It also ordered a pilot program to test banning lucrative rebate payments that exchanges make to brokers for liquidity-adding stock orders.
(Reporting by John McCrank; Editing by Tom Brown)
https://s.yimg.com/rq/darla/3-6-3/html/r-sf.htmlSign in to post a message. 17 viewing1 person reacting
judi 1 hour ago What about Naked Shorting? It is out of control and no one including the SEC is doing anything to stop it??
Tara 41 minutes ago The rules implemented in 2005 did nothing to help retail traders with accounts under 25K.
When are you going to address the real issue of stock price manipulation? Also, bring back the uptick rule. And while you are at it, we need rules to punish dishonest analysts who publish opinions of price that are so far off the charts, they never reflect actual earnings often announced days later.
Rob 38 minutes ago They are going to make it more in favor of big boys aka the banks
Mar 07, 2019 | paul.senate.gov
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE :
March 5, 2019
Contact: Press@paul.senate.gov, 202-224-4343
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee members Rand Paul (R-KY) and Tom Udall (D-NM) introduced the 2019 American Forces Going Home After Noble (AFGHAN) Service Act to end America's longest war, honor the volunteers who bravely serve our nation by providing bonuses to those who have deployed in support of the Global War on Terrorism, and redirect the savings from ending nation-building in Afghanistan to America's needs at home.
Though American troops achieved what they were sent to carry out in October 2001, the mission shift to nation-building has kept our forces in Afghanistan over 17 years later. Over 2,300 military members have sacrificed their lives in the war, with another 20,000 wounded in action. In addition, the Afghanistan war has cost the United States $2 trillion, with the war currently costing over $51 billion a year.
"Endless war weakens our national security, robs this and future generations through skyrocketing debt, and creates more enemies to threaten us. For over 17 years, our soldiers have gone above and beyond what has been asked of them in Afghanistan. It is time to declare the victory we achieved long ago, bring them home, and put America's needs first," said Sen. Paul .
"Soon, U.S. service members will begin deploying to Afghanistan to fight in a war that began before they were born. As we face this watershed moment, it's past time to change our approach to the longest war in our country's history," said Sen. Udall . "Our armed forces in Afghanistan, including many from New Mexico, have served with exceptional valor and effectiveness in the face of extraordinary challenges. After expelling the Taliban from power and dismantling Al Qaeda's base of power in Afghanistan, they enabled a new Afghan government to be formed while also eliminating Osama Bin Laden. But it is Congress that has failed to conduct the proper oversight of this nearly 18-year war. Now, we must step up, and listen to the American people -- who rightly question the wisdom of such endless wars. This bipartisan resolution would bring our troops home at long last, while implementing a framework for reconciliation."
The 2019 AFGHAN Service Act
• Declares victory in Afghanistan. The masterminds of the 9/11 attack are no longer capable of carrying out such an attack from Afghanistan. Osama bin Laden was killed in 2011, and Al Qaeda has been all but eliminated from Afghanistan.
• Pays, within one year, a $2,500 bonus to all members of the military who have served in the Global War on Terrorism. Since 2001, more than 3,002,635 men and women have deployed overseas in support of this effort. This would be a one-time cost of approximately $7 billion and an immediate savings of over 83% when compared to the current yearly costs. The $51 billion a year can be redirected to domestic priorities.
• Additionally, there is precedent for service bonuses going back to the Revolutionary War.
• Sets guidelines for withdrawal. Within 45 days, a plan will be formulated for an orderly withdrawal and turnover of facilities to the Afghan Government, while also setting a framework for political reconciliation to be implemented by Afghans in accordance with the Afghan Constitution. Within a year, all U.S. forces will be withdrawn from Afghanistan.
• At the completion of withdrawal, the 2001 AUMF will be repealed.
You can read the entire 2019 AFGHAN Service Act below:
Feb 23, 2018 | turcopolier.typepad.com
The ideological fissures that are growing in the United States are beginning to resemble the warring camps that characterize the Ukrainian political world. The divide in Ukraine pits groups who are described as "right wing" and many are ideological descendants of real Nazis and Nazi sympathizers against groups with a strong affinity to Russia. This kind of gap cannot be bridged through conventional negotiations.
Who is the United States government and media supporting? The Nazis . You think I'm joking. Here are the facts, but we must go back to World War II :
When World War II began a large part of western Ukraine welcomed the German soldiers as liberators from the recently enforced Soviet rule and openly collaborated with the Germans. The Soviet leader, Stalin, imposed policies that caused the deaths of almost 7 million Ukrainians in the 1930s--an era known as the Holomodor).
Ukrainian divisions, regiments and battalions were formed, such as SS Galizien, Nachtigal and Roland, and served under German leadership. In the first few weeks of the war, more than 80 thousand people from the Galizien region volunteered for the SS Galizien, which later known for its extreme cruelty towards Polish, Jewish and Russian people on the territory of Ukraine.
Members of these military groups came mostly from the organization of Ukrainian nationalists aka the OUN, which was founded in 1929. It's leader was Stepan Bandera, known then and today for his extreme anti-semitic and anti-communist views.
CIA documents just recently declassified show strong ties between US intelligence and Ukrainian nationalists since 1946.
Jump ahead now to the April 2014 "uprising" of anti-Russian forces in the Ukraine (Maidan 2). The US was firmly on the side of the protesters, who ultimately succeeded in ousting the elected President. And who were helping lead this effort?
Secretary of the Ukrainian National Security and Defence Council is Andriy Parubiy. Parubiy was the founder of the Social National Party of Ukraine, a fascist party styled on Hitler's Nazis, with membership restricted to ethnic Ukrainians.
The Social National Party would go on to become Svoboda, the far-right nationalist party whose leader, Oleh Tyahnybok was one of the three most high profile leaders of the Euromaidan protests. . . .
Overseeing the armed forces alongside Parubiy as the Deputy Secretary of National Security is Dmytro Yarosh , the leader of the Right Sector – a group of hardline nationalist streetfighters, who previously boasted they were ready for armed struggle to free Ukraine.
The US support, both overt and covert, for Ukrainian politicians is grounded in an anti-Soviet (now anti-Russian) ideology. We have convinced ourselves that Russia is hell bent on world domination. Therefore we must do whatever is necessary to stop Russia, which includes uncritical, blind support for elements in Ukraine that also detest the Russians. But in doing so we have closed our eyes to the filthy underbelly of the virulent anti-Semitism that lurks in western Ukraine.
US meddling in the Ukraine is astonishing in its breadth. It ranges from the fact that the wife of former President Viktor Yuschenko was an American citizen and former senior official in the US State Department. Do you think there would be no complaints if Melania Trump was born in Russia and had served in the Russian Foreign Ministry? Yet, most Americans are happily ignorant of such facts.
But Viktor Yushchenko is not an American who speaks a foreign language. He is very much a Ukrainian nationalist and steeped in the anti-Semitism that dominates the ideology of western Ukraine. During the final months of his Presidency, Yushchenko made the following declaration:
In conclusion I would like to say something that is long awaited by the Ukrainian patriots for many years I have signed a decree for the unbroken spirit and standing for the idea of fighting for independent Ukraine. I declare Stepan Bandera a national hero of Ukraine.
Without hesitation or shame, Yushchenko endorsed the legacy of Bandera, who had happily aligned with the Nazis in pursuit of his own nationalist goals. Those goals, however, did not include Jews. And here is the ultimate irony--Bandera was born in Austria, not the Ukraine. So much for ideological consistency.
US interference was not confined to serendipitous relationships, such as the Yushchenko marriage. It also included the open and active funding of certain political groups and media outlets. The US State Department sent money through a variety of outlets. One of these was the Consortium for Elections and Political Process Strengthening aka CEPPS.
This is : a USAID program with other National Endowment for Democracy-affiliated groups: the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, the International Republican Institute and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems. In 2010, the reported disbursement for CEPPS in Ukraine was nearly $5 million.
The program's efforts are described on the USAID website as providing "training for political party activists and locally elected officials to improve communication with civic groups and citizens, and the development of NGO-led advocacy campaigns on electoral and political process issues."
Anyone prepared to argue that it would be okay for Russia, through its Foreign Ministry, to contribute several million dollars for training party activists in the United States?
What we do not know is how much money was being spent on covert activities directed and managed by the CIA. During the political upheaval in April 2014 (Maidan 2), there was this news item:
Over the weekend, CIA director John Brennan travelled to Kiev, nobody knows exactly why, but some speculate that he intends to open US intelligence resources to Ukrainian leaders about real-time Russian military maneuvers. The US has, thus far, refrained from sharing such knowledge because Moscow is believed to have penetrated much of Ukraine's communications systems – and Washington isn't about to hand over its surveillance secrets to the Russians.
Do you think Americans would be outraged if the head of Russia's version of the CIA, the SVR or FSB, traveled quietly to the United States to meet with Donald Trump prior to his election? I think that would qualify as meddling.
Count me as one of the people who is outraged by the hypocrisy and stupidity now on display in the United States. I am not talking about Trump. I am referring to the Republicans and Democrats and pundits and media mouthpieces who are fuming about Russian citizens writing on Facebook as one of the worst catastrophes since Pearl Harbor or 9-11.
There clearly is meddling going on in America's political landscape. But it isn't the Russian Government. No. There are foreign and domestic forces aligned who are keen on portraying Russia as a threat to world order that must be opposed by more defense spending and tougher sanctions. That is the propaganda that dominates the media in the United States these days. And that is truly dangerous to our nation's safety and freedom.
Posted at 01:24 PM in Publius Tacitus , Russiagate | Permalink
james , 23 February 2018 at 02:11 PMGood post pt.. thanks... i never knew ''the wife of former President Viktor Yushchenko was an American citizen and former senior official in the US State Department.'' That is informative.. i recall following this closely back in 2014.. the hypocrisy on display in the usa at present is truly amazing and frightening at the same time.. it appears that the public can be cowed very easily..Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg , 23 February 2018 at 02:29 PMgood points well made.Adrestia , 23 February 2018 at 02:39 PM
On the twitters, you would be accused of "whatabouttism" - which is the crime of excusing Putin's diabolism by pointing out American interference with the internal politics an elections of other nations. A CIA guy recently said the US only interferes to 'promote democracy' - tell that to Australia, Vietnam, Mexico, Chile, Congo, Russia, Ukraine...it's a long long list.
An independent Ukraine was also a project of German foreign policy after the Brest-Litowsk Treaty (the equivalent of the Versailles Treaty, only aimed at Russia) SO I have o wonder how much of the enthusiasm for Vicky Nuland's Israel friendly Nazi state-let (oh what irony!) is a product of Germany wanting to reassert itself in the east, using NATO solidarity as a fig leaf. Maybe they will make Ukraine import a lot o Africans "refugees" so that Soros' project of creating a brown Europe will be advanced in the Slavic sphere as well as the west.It's not only the US. The EU borg are also meddling. In my country we had a referendum about Ukraine. The population voted "Against" on the question: "Are you for or against the Approval Act of the Association Agreement between the European Union and Ukraine?"Tom , 23 February 2018 at 03:22 PM
This was the only referendum that was done since it was implemented in 2015. A second one is being organized on the Intelligence and Security Services which has controversial parts with regard to access to internet traffic.
This referendum will take place on March 21, 2018 and will probably be voted against because of the controversial elements (in part because there is still living memory of our Eastern neighbors in the second world war)
These 2 will probably be the last. Our house of representatives have voted yesterday to end the referendum law (with a majority vote of 76 out of 150 representatives!)
So much for democracy. The reason stated that the referendum was controversial (probably because they voted against the EU borg). Interesting is that the proposal was done by the party that wanted the referendum as a principal point. This will almost certainly ensure that the little respect left for traditional parties is gone and they will not be able to get a majority next elections.
The liberal party - who provides the prime-minister - EU leader Hans van Baalen and Belgian ex-prime minister Guy Verhostad held a controversial speech on the Maidan square in support of the protesters that the EU will support them.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cIL1FWCIlu8Jony Kanuck , 23 February 2018 at 03:27 PM
I wouldn't put to much stress on Bandera having been a bad guy. His enemies were no better. They just won the war and the victors write history. The deeper problem of Ukraine is the fact that in the East of the country (and maybe even the majority of the country) Bandera is indeed regarded as a villain. But in the West he is a hero to this day. Even in Soviet times people from Western Ukraine were regarded as "fascists" by much of the rest of the country. No wonder as there were anti soviet partisans until late in the fifties.
Even in the nineties anybody who travelled in Ukraine could feel the tension between East and West. The Russians were certainly aware of it and mindful not to rip the country apart they cut the Ukrainians an enormous amount of slack. Of course they supported "their" candidates and shoveled money into their insatiable throats. Only to be disappointed time and again. "Prorussian" Kutshma turned into a Ukrainian "patriot" (such is the logic of statehood) and the same thing happened with Yanukovich. People forget that he would have signed an association agreement with Europe had Europe not refused because he was insufficiently "democratic". Really the West should have been content with things as they were.
But the West wanted it all. They wanted Ukraine firmly in the "Western" camp. Thereby they ripped the country apart. As a good friend of mine who has studied in Kiev in Soviet times remarked: to ask Ukraine to choose between East and West is like asking a child in divorce proceedings who it liked more: daddy or mummy?
Really the West (not only the US -the Eu is also guilty) is to blame. It is long past time to get down from the high horse and stop spreading chaos and mayhem in the name of democracy,
Publius,bluetonga , 23 February 2018 at 03:28 PM
An informative column. The coup & later developments soured me on the MSMedia. I'm an initiate into modern Russian history: NATO in the Ukraine = WW3!
Some additional history:
A Ukrainian nation did not exist until after WW1; one piece was Russian, another Polish and another Austrian. The Holodomor is exaggerated for political purposes; the actual number dead from famine appears to be 'only' 2M. It wasn't Soviet bloody mindedness, it was Soviet agricultural mismanagement; collectivizing agriculture drops production.
They did this right before the great drought of the 1930s - remember the dustbowl. There was a famine in Kazakestan at the same time; 1.5M died.
The Nazis raised 5 SS divisions out of the Ukraine. As the Germans were pushed back they ran night drops of ordnance into the Ukraine as long as they could. The Soviets had to carry on divisional level counter insurgency until 1956. After the war, Gehlen, Nazi intelligence czar, kept himself out of jail by turning over his files, routes & agents to the US. He also stoked anti Soviet paranoia.
The Brits ended up with a whole Ukr SS division that they didn't want, so they gave it to Canada. Which is why Canada has such cranky policy around the Ukraine!A very interesting conversation between Victoria Nulland and ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt, caught at picking the future rulers of liberated Ukraine : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2QxZ8t3V_bk This is not meddling. This is a defensive (preemptive?) action against Russian agression.Publius Tacitus -> Tom... , 23 February 2018 at 03:31 PMTom,Publius Tacitus -> bluetonga... , 23 February 2018 at 03:36 PM
I'm sure you'd like us to ignore Bandera. I bet he liked children and dogs. Just like Hitler. Bandera was a genuine bad guy. There is no rehabilitating that scourge on society. Nice try though.I am giving you the benefit of the doubt that your final comment is sarcasm. When you have two senior US Government officials who will and will not constitute a foreign government, you have gone beyond meddling. It is worse.VietnamVet , 23 February 2018 at 03:57 PMPTThe Twisted Genius , 23 February 2018 at 03:59 PM
The media is hysterical. Today, Putin's Facebook Bot Collaborator contacted the Kremlin before his mercenaries attacked Americans in Syria.
I've never seen such an intense barrage of propaganda before in my life. America is fracturing apart like Ukraine. This is no coincidence. In both countries, oligarchs have seized power, the rule of law abandoned and there is a rush of corruption.
A World War is near. The realists are gone. The Moguls are pushing Donald Trump pull the trigger. Either in Syria with an assault to destroy Hezbollah (Iran) for good or American trainers going over the top of trenches in Donbass in a centennial attack of the dead.Publius Tacitus,TimmyB , 23 February 2018 at 04:08 PM
Hallelujah and jubilation! We're in full agreement on this subject. What we did to Ukraine is shameful in every way. A remember a video of a pallet of money being unloaded from a USG place at Kiev during Maidan 2. That's in addition to Nuland's bag of cookies. I always thought that one of the objectives of our meddling in Ukraine was to make Sevastopol into a NATO naval base.
I would definitely want to see a full account of what support we provided to the nazi thugs of Svoboda and Pravy Sektor. We have a long history of meddling, at least twice as long as the Soviet Union/Russia. But that does not mean we should stop investigating the Russian interference in our 2016 election. Just stop hyperventilating over it. It no more deserves risking a war than our continuing mutual espionage.Our leaders are the biggest hypocrites on the planet. The Ukraine was almost evenly divided between pro-Western and pro-Russian sides. Our government, rather than waiting for an election, assisted an armed rebellion against the elected pro-Russian government. Among the groups our government allied with in this endeavor were out and out Nazis.
As a result of this rebellion, the Russian majority in Crimea overwhelming voted to leave the Ukraine and rejoin Russia, which they had been part of for over 150-years. While our government continues to provide military aid to Israel, which used force of arms take over the West Bank, it imposed sanctions against Russia when the people of Crimea voted to join their former countrymen. Mind boggling.
Mar 05, 2019 | www.unz.com
FB , says: November 24, 2018 at 5:18 pm GMT@Felix Keverich You're full of shit what the heck do you know about industry you useless little fart ? are you an industrial engineer do you have any technical qualifications whatsoever or do you just pull buzzwords like 'marketable skills' out your wazoo, as needed ?Felix Keverich , says: November 24, 2018 at 5:38 pm GMT
The Ukraine certainly had all kinds of 'entrepreneurs' they're called OLIGARCHS who very capably enriched themselves unfortunately 'entrepreneurs' are what normal people would call parasites, flim-flam men and hucksters
As for Ukrainian workers lacking 'marketable skills' I guess that would be 'skills' like TROLLING, your specialty and making retarded statements on discussion fora
Ukraine had more very qualified engineers per capita than any country in Europe a huge amount of intellectual capacity, and a very good industrial base especially in high tech areas like aerospace and propulsion their problem was that they chose to play games with the rotten west, instead of friendship with Russia, with which their industry was integrated
You're a complete wanker in the A. Karlin mold. Get lost you have nothing to contribute@Big Bill They fought that it was Russia, that was holding them back, and by separating they could quickly achieve Western European standard of living. The first guy to become president of independent Ukraine promised people that they were going to "live like France" .in 5 years (!). lolFelix Keverich , says: November 24, 2018 at 5:53 pm GMT
So their plan was something like this:
Lately, they began to think that the Ukraine's path to prosperity goes through EU membership, hence popular support for Euromaidan, and you know the results@FB
You're full of shit what the heck do you know about industry you useless little fart ? are you an industrial engineer do you have any technical qualifications whatsoever or do you just pull buzzwords like 'marketable skills' out your wazoo, as needed ?
Your industries are worth ZERO, if you're unable to sell your products, and the Ukraine struggled to sell its manufactured goods after 1991. Its traditional customer – Russia began to import Western goods.
You sound like Martyanov. lol It doesn't take any "special qualification" to figure out that Soviet-era factories were churning out worthless crap – there is a reason why that system fell apart, you know.
Now, off to ignore list with you.
Mar 04, 2019 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com
Mark Chapman March 1, 2019 at 7:48 pmMy, Ukraine's American Minister of Health – Yuliana Suprun – is doing an outstanding job. Ukraine was the locus of the world's biggest rise in measles cases in 2018, from about 5,000 cases the year before to 35,120 the year just past. Moreover, 24,042 new cases were reported in the first 2 months of this year.Moscow Exile March 1, 2019 at 10:46 pm
https://www.rferl.org/a/ukraine-suffers-largest-rise-measles-cases-worldwide/29797314.htmlBut it was the Moskali who caused the epidemic by trolling social network sites with false information as regards the efficacy of vaccination against measles.Cortes March 2, 2019 at 12:47 am
Russian-backed attempts to sabotage Ukraine's economic, political, and health developments have left the country fighting a measles outbreak and continuing a bloody, undeclared war. The situation is emblematic of increasing tension between the ideologies of President Vladimir Putin and countries of the pro-democratic, neoliberal west.
The measles outbreak -- affecting other countries including Serbia, Georgia, Greece, and Italy -- has hit Ukraine hardest, with the country's 23 000 cases accounting for more than half the European regional total. Kremlin-supported social media accounts spreading discredited theories about the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine, combined with shortages and underfunding, have been blamed for the outbreak. Research published on Aug 23 concluded Russian trolls promoted discord and, masquerading as legitimate users, created a false impression that arguments for and against vaccination were equipoised. The result has been an erosion of public consensus on the value of vaccine programmes. The precipitous fall in vaccination level began after 2008, when 95% of eligible children in Ukraine received their second (and final) recommended dose of the MMR vaccine. By 2016, the rate was 31%, among the lowest in the world.
Although now rising again, the latest 85% measles vaccination rate recorded by WHO remains below that needed for herd immunity. Records in 2016 show poor vaccination rates for other diseases: only 19% of children received the third recommended dose of the diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine and 56% received the third recommended dose of oral polio vaccine.
Hepatitis B vaccination was low, with coverage with hepatitis B birth-dose and third-dose vaccines at 37% and 26%, respectively. WHO estimates between 3% and 5% of the Ukraine's 45 million population has been infected with hepatitis C.
Ukraine bears the second largest HIV epidemic in eastern Europe and central Asia.
The above was printed in the much respected "The Lancet" . Who wrote it, I know not -- but I can hazard a guess.
It begins with the outrageous statement that "Russia" is resposible for the epidemic, specifically, the"ideology" of the Russian president is the cause of the epidemic.
No proof given: no data: sweet fuck all. Just an assertion that "Pyutin" is responsible.Well, "Pyutin" plus A.N. Otheryalensis March 2, 2019 at 2:54 am
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1366121/Blair-hints-that-Leo-had-MMR-jab-as-vaccine-rebellion-mounts.htmlSo, Suprun and her half-baked medical policies are off the hook?Mark Chapman March 2, 2019 at 9:30 amYou know, it's a shame Ukrainians are so gullible, and believe Russia's lies without checking any other sources of information – don't they know how to use The Microsoft and The Google? Not to mention gullible Americans, who also fell for it.
Oh, and the Australians, who were so gobsmacked by Russia's campaign to discredit vaccinations that being a 'vaccine skeptic' is now punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
Mind you, the 'anti-vaxxers' in those instances are reportedly Australian nurses and midwives – but I daresay they. too, were taken in by clever Russian trolls posing as legitimate users on social media.
Some of you will probably be asking "At what point, for the love of Christ, are people expected to take responsibility for their own decisions, instead of hiding behind the feebleminded excuse that they were tricked by the Russians?" For my part, I am convinced that Russia is going to take over the world, because Russian trolls are so much smarter than the public in any country you care to name. With a few cat pictures and a sprinkling of Black Lives Matter stories, many of them generated after the American election was actually over, the Russians tricked the American electoral college into making Donald Trump president of the United States instead of Mrs. Clinton, but in such a way that more of the public actually voted for Clinton than for Trump. And the electoral college is supposed to be made up of America's leaders. Brilliant, you must admit.
Watch out for the Kremlin campaign against photography – because having your picture taken steals your soul – due to open in The Ukraine this summer. Then there will not even be a photographic record of all the Ukrainians who died from measles, conniption fits, brain fever and the fantods, as the Kremlin wipes them out with their own gullibility. Survival of the fittest, baby.
Mar 02, 2019 | consortiumnews.com
Brian James , February 21, 2019 at 5:03 pm
Never believe the CIA. Ever! January 26, 2019 CIA Was Aiding Jihadists Before Soviets Invaded Afghanistan
According to recently declassified documents of the White House, CIA and State Department as reported by Tim Weiner for The Washington Post, the CIA was aiding Afghan jihadists before the Soviets invaded in 1979. The then American President Jimmy Carter signed the CIA directive to arm the Afghan jihadists in July 1979, whereas the former Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in December the same year.
Author Originally, there were four parties involved in the Afghan conflict which are mainly responsible for the debacle in the Af-Pak region. Firstly, the former Soviet Union which invaded Afghanistan in December 1979. Secondly, Pakistan's security agencies which nurtured the Afghan so-called "mujahideen" (freedom fighters) on the behest of Washington.
tina , February 21, 2019 at 10:01 pm
what you say is true and correct. Fast forward to 2019. I never thought I would have to believe those "authorities" or organizations to stop our own president. How far down the rabbit hole we are. Keep it up . I should mention that consortium news was one of the sites that was hit by a barrage of not true things. Do you remember KIllary Shillary, world war 3 on this website? That is when I stopped. No defence of Ms Clinton, but the attacks were relentless. I do believe consortium news was hijacked by some really partisan people.
OlyaPola , February 22, 2019 at 3:12 am
"Before Soviets Invaded Afghanistan"
The Soviet forces were invited to Afghanistan by the Afghani Government – they never invaded Afghanistan or Syria.
Feb 11, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Beware Proposed E-Commerce Rules Posted on February 10, 2019 by Jerri-Lynn Scofield By Chakravarthi Raghavan, Editor-emeritus of South-North Development Monitor SUNS, is based in Geneva and has been monitoring and reporting on the WTO and its predecessor GATT since 1978; he is author of several books on trade issues; and Jomo Kwame Sundaram, is Senior Adviser with the Khazanah Research Institute, and was . an economics professor and United Nations Assistant Secretary General for Economic Development. Originally published at Inter Press Service
In Davos in late January, several powerful governments and their allies announced their intention to launch new negotiations on e-commerce. Unusually, the intention is to launch the plurilateral negotiations in the World Trade Organization (WTO), an ostensibly multilateral organization, setting problematic precedents for the future of multilateral negotiations.
Any resulting WTO agreement, especially one to make e-commerce tax- and tariff-free, will require amendments to its existing goods agreements, the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) and the Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreements. If it is not an unconditional agreement in the WTO, it will violate WTO 'most favoured nation' (MFN) principles.
This will be worse than the old, and ostensibly extinct 'Green Room' processes -- of a few major powers negotiating among themselves, and then imposing their deal on the rest of the membership. Thus, the proposed e-commerce rules may be 'WTO illegal' -- unless legitimized by the amendment processes and procedures in Article X of the WTO treaty.
Any effort to 'smuggle' it into the WTO, e.g., by including it in Annex IV to the WTO treaty (Plurilateral Trade Agreements), will need, after requisite notice, a consensus decision at Ministerial Conference (Art X:9 of treaty) . It may still be illegal since the subjects are already covered by agreements in Annexes 1A, 1B and 1C of the WTO treaty.
Consolidating Power of the Giants
Powerful technology transnational corporations (TNCs) are trying to rewrite international rules to advance their business interests by: gaining access to new foreign markets, securing free access to others' data, accelerating deregulation, casualizing labour markets, and minimizing tax liabilities.
While digital technology and trade, including electronic or e-commerce, can accelerate development and create jobs, if appropriate policies and arrangements are in place, e-commerce rhetoric exaggerates opportunities for developing country, especially small and medium enterprises. Instead, the negotiations are intended to diminish the right of national authorities to require 'local presence', a prerequisite for the consumer and public to sue a supplier.
The e-commerce proposals are expected to strengthen the dominant TNCs, enabling them to further dominate digital trade as the reform proposals are likely to strengthen their discretionary powers while limiting public oversight over corporate behaviour in the digital economy.
Developing Countries Must Be Vigilant
If digital commerce grows without developing countries first increasing value captured from production -- by improving productive capacities in developing countries, closing the digital divide by improving infrastructure and interconnectivity, and protecting privacy and data -- they will have to open their economies even more to foreign imports.
Further digital liberalization without needed investments to improve productive capacities, will destroy some jobs, casualize others, squeeze existing enterprises and limit future development. Such threats, due to accelerated digital liberalization, will increase if the fast-changing digital economic space is shaped by new regulations influenced by TNCs.
Diverting business through e-commerce platforms will not only reduce domestic market shares, as existing digital trade is currently dominated by a few TNCs from the United States and China, but also reduce sales tax revenue which governments increasingly rely upon with the earlier shift from direct to indirect taxation.
Developing countries must quickly organize themselves to advance their own agenda for developmental digitization. Meanwhile, concerned civil society organizations and others are proposing new approaches to issues such as data governance, anti-trust regulation, smaller enterprises, jobs, taxation, consumer protection, and trade facilitation.
New Approach Needed
A development-focused and jobs-enhancing digitization strategy is needed instead. Effective national policies require sufficient policy space, stakeholder participation and regional consultation, but the initiative seeks to limit that space. Developing countries should have the policy space to drive their developmental digitization agendas. Development partners, especially donors, should support, not drive this agenda.
Developmental digitization will require investment in countries' technical, legal and economic infrastructure, and policies to: bridge the digital divide; develop domestic digital platforms, businesses and capacities to use data in the public interest; strategically promote national enterprises, e.g., through national data use frameworks; ensure digitization conducive to full employment policies; advance the public interest, consumer protection, healthy competition and sustainable development.
Pro-active Measures Needed
Following decades of economic liberalization and growing inequality, and the increasing clout of digital platforms, international institutions should support developmental digitization for national progress, rather than digital liberalization. Developing country governments must be vigilant about such e-commerce negotiations, and instead undertake pro-active measures such as:
Data governance infrastructure : Developing countries must be vigilant of the dangers of digital colonialism and the digital divide. Most people do not properly value data, while governments too easily allow data transfers to big data corporations without adequate protection for their citizens. TNC rights to free data flows should be challenged.
Enterprise competition : Developing countries still need to promote national enterprises, including through pro-active policies. International rules have enabled wealth transfers from the global South to TNCs holding well protected patents. National systems of innovation can only succeed if intellectual property monopolies are weakened. Strengthening property rights enhances TNC powers at the expense of developing country enterprises.
Employment : Developmental digitization must create decent jobs and livelihoods. Labour's share of value created has declining in favour of capital, which has influenced rule-making to its advantage.
Taxation: The new e-commerce proposals seek to ban not only appropriate taxation, but also national presence requirements where they operate to avoid taxes at the expense of competitors paying taxes in compliance with the law. Tax rules allowing digital TNCs to reduce taxable income or shift profits to low-tax jurisdictions should be addressed.
Consumer protection : Strong policies for consumer protection are needed as the proposals would put privacy and data protection at risk. Besides citizens' rights to privacy, consumers must have rights to data protection and against TNC and other abuse of human rights.
Competition : Digital platforms must be better regulated at both national and international level. Policies are needed to weaken digital economic monopolies and to support citizens, consumers and workers in relating to major digital TNCs.
Trade facilitation : Recent trade facilitation in developing countries, largely funded by donors, has focused on facilitating imports, rather than supply side constraints. Recent support for digital liberalization similarly encourages developing countries to import more instead of developing needed new infrastructure to close digital divides.
Urgent Measures Needed
'E-commerce' has become the new front for further economic liberalization and extension of property rights by removing tariffs (on IT products), liberalizing imports of various services, stronger IP protection, ending technology transfer requirements, and liberalizing government procurement.
Developing countries must instead develop their own developmental digitization agendas, let alone simply copy, or worse, promote e-commerce rules developed by TNCs to open markets, secure data, as well as constrain regulatory and developmental governments.
Thuto , February 10, 2019 at 6:13 am
Describing what these TNCs are trying to push through as "digital colonialism" seems apt. In contrast to traditional colonialism, characterized as it was by massive investments in manpower and other resources required to conquer far-flung overseas territories, the marginal cost of adding one more overseas territory to a digital colonizers empire is miniscule compared to what old-school colonizers had to pony up to expand their list of colonies.
Add to this weak regulatory firewalls in developing countries and market saturation in developed nations, it's obvious why these TNCs are determined to push through an international policy framework that advances their drive to uncover new pockets of growth in the developing world. It's also telling that they're aggressively pursuing this end before developing countries can mount a cohesive defense of their digital sovereignty. "Beware Proposed E-commerce Rules" indeed
jfleni , February 10, 2019 at 9:23 am
It is still cold in davos, all the more reason to feel carefully, and be very sure that the P-crats are not slipping you "a mickey" in the butt, because they always repeat always do it!
Synoia , February 10, 2019 at 1:23 pm
In Davos in late January, several powerful governments and their allies announced their intention to launch new negotiations on e-commerce.
Why the complete lack of agency? Who are these countries?
If it is not an unconditional agreement in the WTO, it will violate WTO 'most favoured nation' (MFN) principles.
Will it be an Exceptional agreement, by Exceptional Countries?
It may still be illegal since the subjects are already covered by agreements in Annexes 1A, 1B and 1C of the WTO treaty.
Ah, a process of meticulous and unbinding legality, but of law-abidingness, not a trace.
C.Raghavan , February 11, 2019 at 11:42 am
The comment, and questions posed aren't clear. The announcement (widely reported in media) was made to media at Davos after a breakfast meeting, and almost immediately it appeared on WTO website as a "communication" from the members at the breakfast meeting. Beyond "intention" to negotiate, everything else was vague – whether it be issues to be negotiated, where and how etc.
Rory , February 10, 2019 at 2:16 pm
Why does this make me think of MERS and how the finance industry diverted at least hundreds of thousands of dollars in transaction recording fees away from local government real estate offices? If popular government is to remain meaningful it had better have in place effective means of enforcing its tax entitlements and the will to do it.
Feb 09, 2019 | wsws.org
An editorial published by the New York Times on February 4 titled "End the War in Afghanistan" has provoked a backlash from prominent supporters of the decades-long US "war on terrorism" and the fraud of "humanitarian intervention."
The Times editorial was a damning self-indictment by the US political establishment's newspaper of record, which has supported every US act of military aggression, from the invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001, to the invasion of Iraq in March 2003 and the US wars for regime change in Libya and Syria beginning in 2011.
The editorial presents the "war on terror" as an unmitigated fiasco, dating it from September 14, 2001, when "Congress wrote what would prove to be one of the largest blank checks in the country's history," i.e., the Authorization for Use of Military Force against Al Qaeda and its affiliates, which is still invoked to legitimize US interventions from Syria to Somalia, Yemen and, of course, Afghanistan.
On the day that this "blank check" was written, the Times published a column titled "No Middle Ground," which stated "the Bush administration today gave the nations of the world a stark choice: stand with us against terrorism, deny safe havens to terrorists or face the certain prospect of death and destruction. The marble halls of Washington resounded with talk of war."
It continued, "The nation is rallying around its young, largely untried leader-as his rising approval ratings and the proliferation of flags across the country vividly demonstrate "
This war propaganda was sustained by the Times, which sold the invasion of Afghanistan as retribution for 9/11 and then promoted the illegal and unprovoked war against Iraq by legitimizing and embellishing the lies about "weapons of mass destruction."
With the first deployment of US ground troops in Afghanistan, the Times editorialized on October 20, 2001: "Now the nation's soldiers are going into battle in a distant and treacherous land, facing a determined and resourceful enemy. As they go, they should know that the nation supports their cause and yearns for their success."
Now the Times acknowledges: "The price tag, which includes the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and increased spending on veterans' care, will reach $5.9 trillion by the end of fiscal year 2019, according to the Costs of War project at Brown University. Since nearly all of that money has been borrowed, the total cost with interest will be substantially higher More than 2.7 million Americans have fought in the war since 2001. Nearly 7,000 service members-and nearly 8,000 private contractors-have been killed. More than 53,700 people returned home bearing physical wounds, and numberless more carry psychological injuries. More than one million Americans who served in a theater of the war on terror receive some level of disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs."
The massive loss of life, destruction of social infrastructure and vast human suffering inflicted by these wars on civilian populations are at best an afterthought for the Times. Conservative estimates place the number killed by the US war in Afghanistan at 175,000. With the number of indirect fatalities caused by the war, the toll likely rises to a million. In Iraq, the death toll was even higher.
What does the Times conclude from this bloody record? "The failure of American leaders-civilians and generals through three administrations, from the Pentagon to the State Department to Congress and the White House-to develop and pursue a strategy to end the war ought to be studied for generations. Likewise, all Americans-the news media included-need to be prepared to examine the national credulity or passivity that's led to the longest conflict in modern American history."
What a cowardly and cynical evasion! Three administrations, those of Bush, Obama and Trump, have committed war crimes over the course of more than 17 years, including launching wars of aggression-the principal charge leveled against the Nazis at Nuremberg-the slaughter of civilians and torture. These crimes should not be "studied for generations," but punished.
As for the attempt to lump the news media together with "all Americans" as being guilty of "credulity" and "passivity," this is a slander against the American people and a deliberate cover-up of the crimes carried out by the corporate media, with the Times at their head, in disseminating outright lies and war propaganda. The Times editors should be "prepared to examine" the fact that journalistic agents of the Nazi regime who carried out a similar function in Germany were tried and punished at Nuremberg.
The Times editorial supporting a US withdrawal reflects the conclusions being drawn by increasing sections of the ruling establishment, including the Trump administration, which has opened up negotiations with the Taliban. It is bound up with the shift in strategy by US imperialism and the Pentagon toward the preparation for "great power" confrontations with nuclear-armed Russia and China.
The Times ' call for an Afghanistan withdrawal has provoked a heated rebuke by defenders of the "war on terrorism" and "humanitarian intervention," who have denounced the newspaper for defeatism. Such a withdrawal, a letter published by the Times on February 8 argued, would "accelerate and expand the war," "allow another extremist-terrorist phenomenon to emerge," and "result in the deaths and abuse of thousands of women."
The signatories of the letter include Frederick Kagan, David Sedney and Eleanor Smeal.
Kagan has a great deal invested in the Afghanistan war. He and his wife Kimberly served as civilian advisers to top generals who directed the war and elaborated the failed strategies of counterinsurgency (COIN). He has been a vociferous supporter of every US war and every escalation, arguing most recently for the US military to confront Russian- and Iranian-backed forces in Syria.
Likewise Sedney, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense responsible for Afghanistan, Pakistan and Central Asia, now working at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). Married to a top lobbyist for Chevron who worked extensively in Central Asia, he has his own interests in the continuation of US military operations in the region.
Smeal is the president of the Feminist Majority Foundation (FMD) and a former president of the National Organization for Women (NOW), who is widely described as one of "the major leaders of the modern-day American feminist movement."
A leading figure in the Democratic Party, Smeal is no Jane-come-lately to the filthy campaign to promote the war in Afghanistan as a "humanitarian" exercise in promoting the rights of women. In 2001, Smeal and her FMD circulated a petition thanking the Bush administration for its commitment to promoting the rights of women in Afghanistan. After the bombing began on October 7, she declared, "We have real momentum now in the drive to restore the rights of women." A few days later, she and representatives of other feminist organizations showed up at the White House to solidarize themselves with the US war.
Urging on the conquest of Afghanistan, she wrote, "I should hope our government doesn't retreat. We'll help rip those burqas off, I hope. This is a unique time in history. If you're going to end terrorism, you've got to end the ideology of gender apartheid."
Aside from costing the lives of hundreds of thousands of Afghan women, the US war has left women, like the entire population, under worse conditions than when it began. Two-thirds of Afghan girls do not attend school, 87 percent of Afghan women are illiterate, and 70-80 percent face forced marriage, many before the age of 16.
Recent reports suggest that the maternal death rate may be higher than it was before the war began, surpassed only by South Sudan. While USAID has poured some $280 million into its Promote program, supposedly to advance the conditions of Afghan women, it has done nothing but line the pockets of corrupt officials of the US-backed puppet regime in Kabul.
The attempt by the likes of Smeal and leading elements within the Democratic Party to cloak the bloodbath in Afghanistan as a crusade to "liberate" women and promote "democracy" is itself a criminal act.
On October 9, two days after Washington launched its now 17-year-long war on Afghanistan and amid a furor of jingoistic and militarist propaganda from the US government and the corporate media, the World Socialist Web Site editorial board posted a column titled "Why we oppose the war in Afghanistan." It rejected the claim that this was a "war for justice and the security of the American people against terrorism" and insisted that "the present action by the United States is an imperialist war" in which Washington aimed to "establish a new political framework within which it will exert hegemonic control" over not only Afghanistan, but over the broader region of Central Asia, "home to the second largest deposit of proven reserves of petroleum and natural gas in the world."
The WSWS stated at the time: "Despite a relentless media campaign to whip up chauvinism and militarism, the mood of the American people is not one of gung-ho support for the war. At most, it is a passive acceptance that war is the only means to fight terrorism, a mood that owes a great deal to the efforts of a thoroughly dishonest media which serves as an arm of the state. Beneath the reluctant endorsement of military action is a profound sense of unease and skepticism. Tens of millions sense that nothing good can come of this latest eruption of American militarism.
"The United States stands at a turning point. The government admits it has embarked on a war of indefinite scale and duration. What is taking place is the militarization of American society under conditions of a deepening social crisis.
"The war will profoundly affect the conditions of the American and international working class. Imperialism threatens mankind at the beginning of the twenty-first century with a repetition on a more horrific scale of the tragedies of the twentieth. More than ever, imperialism and its depredations raise the necessity for the international unity of the working class and the struggle for socialism."
These warnings and this perspective have been borne out entirely by the criminal and tragic events of the last 17 years, even as the likes of the New York Times find themselves compelled to admit the bankruptcy of their entire record on Afghanistan, and their erstwhile "liberal" allies struggle to salvage some shred of the filthy banner of "human rights imperialism."
Charlotte Ruse • 12 hours ago"The failure of American leaders -- civilians and generals through three administrations, from the Pentagon to the State Department to Congress and the White House -- to develop and pursue a strategy to end the war ought to be studied for generations. Likewise, all Americans -- the news media included -- need to be prepared to examine the national credulity or passivity that's led to the longest conflict in modern American history."Serenity Charlotte Ruse • 3 hours ago
What the New York Times should propose is a Nuremberg-style trial for the war criminals responsible for the genocide of millions, the devastation of of the Middle East and Africa, and the looting of the US Treasury by war profiteers and the political duopoly.
If these criminals are NOT held accountable for their actions NOTHING will be learned and the violence, death and destruction will continue.
"The fact that a person who committed an act which constitutes a crime under international law, acted as Head of State or responsible government official, does not relieve him from responsibility under international law."Gore Vidal rightly named America as the United States of Amnesia. They NEVER learn from their own history and they are never told about what their terrorist government does in their name.Pete LaPlace • 13 hours agoEleanor Smeal's comment about "ripping off those burqas" in Afghanistan reminds me of Louisiana congressman John Cooksey's post-9/11 suggestion that police should pull over and question anyone with ''a diaper on his head''. Both use religious intolerance to increase the power of the state.solerso • 15 hours ago"A leading figure in the Democratic Party, Smeal is no Jane-come-lately to the filthy campaign to promote the war in Afghanistan as a "humanitarian" exercise in promoting the rights of women."ben franklin [pre death] solerso • 2 hours ago
wouldn't it be more correctly "Janey comes lately" ..as in "Johnny come lately"..?
The completely insane fraud of waging imperialist war for "women rights" has been , unfortunately, extensively documented..the US occupation has strengthened not weakened the Taliban
"The WSWS stated at the time: "Despite a relentless media campaign to whip up chauvinism and militarism, the mood of the American people is not one of gung-ho support for the war. "
Not really in agreement with this statement although, everything has changed in almost 20 years.....There are always elements that are gung ho for war. And I'll agree that the number was abnormally high for Afghanistan. But I do think the majority still reluctantly agreed to the war as a necessary measure to fight "terrorism" as the more-than-likely-to-be-a-false-flag 9/11 event was very fresh in everyone's mind.Master Oroko • 16 hours agoAfghanistan is a shitshow due to elite meddling. This editorial was nothing more than virtue-signaling to those that still hate war. But the anti-war movement is effectively dead anyway. There are anti-war people, but no anti-war movement. That's the crowd that the New York Times was appealing to. This is a stunt; nothing more.Carolyn Zaremba Master Oroko • an hour ago
What's more interesting is that the liberal elites will probably do their best to continue on with the war. But either way, the USA will likely lose. In fact, it's already lost the war. The Taliban have won this one. That the elitists can't see that shows just how far gone they are.The British failed in Afghanistan, too, remember.лидия • 20 hours agoProf Bomb Libya Cole started his career of "progressive" imperialist by backing USA aggression against Afghanistan.лидия • 20 hours agoIt was USA imperialism (under Carter and Brzezinski) which first had made Afghanistan a hell for women, but colonial feminists do not care for the facts.konnections лидия • 3 hours agoThat is very true. "Death by a thousand cuts" was Brzezinski's scheme to destroy the Soviet Union in Central Asia. A few years ago, he was interviewed by a journalist from PRC who asked if he had any regrets with all the destruction and death it caused. Brzezinski said, "None".Robert Montgomery лидия • 9 hours agoExactly. I believe the current term is "post-colonial feminists." Kinda takes the edge off the "colonialism."Charlotte Ruse лидия • 9 hours agoGood point!!
Feb 09, 2019 | www.unz.com
From: Lost in TrumpWorld by Andrew J. Bacevich
I don't wish to imply that political leaders and media outlets ignore our wars altogether. That would be unfair. Yet in TrumpWorld, while the president's performance in office receives intensive and persistent coverage day in, day out, the attention given to America's wars has been sparse and perfunctory, when not positively bizarre.
As a case in point, consider the op-ed that recently appeared in the New York Times (just as actual peace talks between the U.S. and the Taliban seemed to be progressing ), making the case for prolonging the U.S. war in Afghanistan, while chiding President Trump for considering a reduction in the number of U.S. troops currently stationed there. Any such move, warned Michael O'Hanlon of the Brookings Institution, would be a "mistake" of the first order.
The ongoing Afghan War dates from a time when some of today's recruits were still in diapers. Yet O'Hanlon counsels patience: a bit more time and things just might work out. This is more or less comparable to those who suggested back in the 1950s that African Americans might show a bit more patience in their struggle for equality: Hey, what's the rush?
I don't pretend to know what persuaded the editors of the Times that O'Hanlon's call to make America's longest war even longer qualifies as something readers of the nation's most influential newspaper just now need to ponder. Yet I do know this: the dearth of critical attention to the costs and consequences of our various post-9/11 wars is nothing short of shameful, a charge to which politicians and journalists alike should plead equally guilty.
I take it as a given that President Trump is an incompetent nitwit, precisely as his critics charge. Yet his oft-repeated characterization of those wars as profoundly misguided has more than a little merit. Even more striking than Trump's critique is the fact that so few members of the national security establishment are willing to examine it seriously. As a consequence, the wars persist, devoid of purpose.
Still, I find myself wondering: If a proposed troop drawdown in Afghanistan qualifies as a "mistake," as O'Hanlon contends, then what term best describes a war that has cost something like a trillion dollars, killed and maimed tens of thousands, and produced a protracted stalemate?
Disaster? Debacle? Catastrophe? Humiliation?
And, if recent press reports prove true, with U.S. government officials accepting Taliban promises of good behavior as a basis for calling it quits, then this longest war in our history will not have provided much of a return on investment. Given the disparity between the U.S. aims announced back in 2001 and the results actually achieved, defeat might be an apt characterization.
Yet the fault is not Trump's. The fault belongs to those who have allowed their immersion in the dank precincts of TrumpWorld to preclude serious reexamination of misguided and reckless policies that predate the president by at least 15 years.
fnn , says: February 5, 2019 at 8:05 pm GMTYou have to compare Trump with the alternative. The D's /progs make war on free speech, attack the presumption of innocence, want essentially uncontrolled mass immigration and relentlessly push in the direction of war with Russia. Add their cynical Russiagate hoax-witch hunt for further illustrationCassander , says: February 7, 2019 at 2:46 am GMT
of the danger they present. As many have said, Trump is the symptom, not the disease."I take it as a given that President Trump is an incompetent nitwit, precisely as his critics charge. Yet his oft-repeated characterization of those wars as profoundly misguided has more than a little merit."Al Moanee , says: February 7, 2019 at 3:31 am GMT
I'm with Bacevich on the insanity of Endless War, but I question why he has to denigrate Trump in his lead in. The cynical side of me believes that Bacevich thinks he has to be a Trump-hater if he is to be listened to.
Hey Andrew sir Democracy is messy. But DJT is on your team and the MSM/Liberal progs/Neocons aren't. Worth reflecting on@fnn "As many have said, Trump is the symptom, not the disease"
Actually, Trump is the microbe not the virus. He's the opportunistic microbe that attaches itself to a sick and diseased body-politic. As to symptoms, they are borne by society at-large and now manifest themselves in the majority of Americans who one way or the other are "Lost in TrumpWorld"
Feb 09, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com
anne -> anne... , February 07, 2019 at 06:37 AMhttp://deanbaker.net/images/stories/documents/Rigged.pdfTom aka Rusty said in reply to anne... , February 07, 2019 at 08:26 AM
Rigged: How Globalization and the Rules of the Modern Economy Were Structured to Make the Rich Richer
By Dean Baker
The Old Technology and Inequality Scam: The Story of Patents and Copyrights
One of the amazing lines often repeated by people in policy debates is that, as a result of technology, we are seeing income redistributed from people who work for a living to the people who own the technology. While the redistribution part of the story may be mostly true, the problem is that the technology does not determine who "owns" the technology. The people who write the laws determine who owns the technology.
Specifically, patents and copyrights give their holders monopolies on technology or creative work for their duration. If we are concerned that money is going from ordinary workers to people who hold patents and copyrights, then one policy we may want to consider is shortening and weakening these monopolies. But policy has gone sharply in the opposite direction over the last four decades, as a wide variety of measures have been put into law that make these protections longer and stronger. Thus, the redistribution from people who work to people who own the technology should not be surprising -- that was the purpose of the policy.
If stronger rules on patents and copyrights produced economic dividends in the form of more innovation and more creative output, then this upward redistribution might be justified. But the evidence doesn't indicate there has been any noticeable growth dividend associated with this upward redistribution. In fact, stronger patent protection seems to be associated with slower growth.
Before directly considering the case, it is worth thinking for a minute about what the world might look like if we had alternative mechanisms to patents and copyrights, so that the items now subject to these monopolies could be sold in a free market just like paper cups and shovels.
The biggest impact would be in prescription drugs. The breakthrough drugs for cancer, hepatitis C, and other diseases, which now sell for tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars annually, would instead sell for a few hundred dollars. No one would have to struggle to get their insurer to pay for drugs or scrape together the money from friends and family. Almost every drug would be well within an affordable price range for a middle-class family, and covering the cost for poorer families could be easily managed by governments and aid agencies.
The same would be the case with various medical tests and treatments. Doctors would not have to struggle with a decision about whether to prescribe an expensive scan, which might be the best way to detect a cancerous growth or other health issue, or to rely on cheaper but less reliable technology. In the absence of patent protection even the most cutting edge scans would be reasonably priced.
Health care is not the only area that would be transformed by a free market in technology and creative work. Imagine that all the textbooks needed by college students could be downloaded at no cost over the web and printed out for the price of the paper. Suppose that a vast amount of new books, recorded music, and movies was freely available on the web.
People or companies who create and innovate deserve to be compensated, but there is little reason to believe that the current system of patent and copyright monopolies is the best way to support their work. It's not surprising that the people who benefit from the current system are reluctant to have the efficiency of patents and copyrights become a topic for public debate, but those who are serious about inequality have no choice. These forms of property claims have been important drivers of inequality in the last four decades.
The explicit assumption behind the steps over the last four decades to increase the strength and duration of patent and copyright protection is that the higher prices resulting from increased protection will be more than offset by an increased incentive for innovation and creative work. Patent and copyright protection should be understood as being like very large tariffs. These protections can often the raise the price of protected items by several multiples of the free market price, making them comparable to tariffs of several hundred or even several thousand percent. The resulting economic distortions are comparable to what they would be if we imposed tariffs of this magnitude.
The justification for granting these monopoly protections is that the increased innovation and creative work that is produced as a result of these incentives exceeds the economic costs from patent and copyright monopolies. However, there is remarkably little evidence to support this assumption. While the cost of patent and copyright protection in higher prices is apparent, even if not well-measured, there is little evidence of a substantial payoff in the form of a more rapid pace of innovation or more and better creative work....Baker is so repetitive he is hardly worth reading.anne -> anne... , February 07, 2019 at 06:39 AMhttp://cepr.net/publications/op-eds-columns/progressive-taxes-only-go-so-far-pre-tax-income-is-the-problemFred C. Dobbs , February 07, 2019 at 06:36 AM
February 4, 2019
Progressive Taxes Only Go So Far. Pre-Tax Income Is the Problem
By Dean Baker
In recent weeks, there have been several bold calls for large increases in progressive taxation. First we had Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), often referred to as AOC, proposing a top marginal tax rate on income over $10 million. This sent right-wing talking heads into a frenzy, leading many to show they don't know the difference between a marginal tax rate and an average tax rate. (AOC's 70 percent rate would only apply to an individual's income above $10 million.)
More recently, we had Senator Elizabeth Warren propose a wealth tax that would apply to people with assets of more than $50 million. This tax could have Jeff Bezos sending more than $3 billion a year to the Treasury.
Given the enormous increase in inequality over the last four decades, and the reduction in the progressivity of the tax code, it is reasonable to put forward plans to make the system more progressive. But, the bigger source of the rise in inequality has been a growth in the inequality of before-tax income, not the reduction in high–end tax rates. This suggests that it may be best to look at the factors that have led to the rise in inequality in market incomes, rather than just using progressive taxes to take back some of the gains of the very rich.
There have been many changes in rules and institutional structures that have allowed the rich to get so much richer. (This is the topic of my free book Rigged.) Just to take the most obvious -- government-granted patent and copyright monopolies have been made longer and stronger over the last four decades. Many items that were not even patentable 40 years ago, such as life forms and business methods, now bring in tens or hundreds of billions of dollars to their owners.
If the importance of these monopolies for inequality is not clear, ask yourself how rich Bill Gates would be if there were no patents or copyrights on Microsoft software. (Anyone could copy Windows into a computer and not pay him a penny.) Many other billionaires get their fortune from copyrights in software and entertainment or patents in pharmaceuticals, medical equipment and other areas.
The government also has rules for corporate governance that allow CEOs to rip off the companies for which they work. CEO pay typically runs close to $20 million a year, even as returns to shareholders lag. It would be hard to argue that today's CEOs, who get 200 to 300 times the pay of ordinary workers, are doing a better job for their companies than CEOs in the 1960s and 1970s who only got 20 to 30 times the pay of ordinary workers.
Another source of inequality is the financial sector. The government has aided these fortunes in many ways, most obviously with the bailout of the big banks a decade ago. It also has deliberately structured the industry in ways that facilitate massive fortunes in financial engineering.
There is no reason to design an economy in such a way as to ensure that most of the gains from growth flow upward. Unfortunately, that has largely been the direction of policy over the last four decades.
We can ignore the inequities built into the way we have structured the economy and just try to tax the big winners, as is being proposed. However, there are two major problems with this route, one practical and one political.
The practical problem is that the rich are not stupid. They will look to find ways to avoid or evade the various progressive taxes being proposed. Both AOC and Warren have relied on advice from some top economists in describing their tax proposals, but even the best–designed tax can be gamed. (Is it worth $3 billion a year for Jeff Bezos to remain a US citizen? As a non-citizen he wouldn't pay the wealth tax.)
Gaming the tax system will mean that we will collect considerably less revenue than a static projection would imply. It also will lead to the growth of the tax gaming industry. From an economic standpoint, this is a complete waste. We will have people designing clever ways to try to hide income and wealth, and in some cases getting very rich themselves in the process.
The political problem with going the tax route is that people attach a certain legitimacy to the idea that income gained through the market is somehow rightfully gained, as opposed to say, income from a government transfer program, like food stamps. The rich will be able to win support from many non-rich by claiming that the government has taken away what they have fairly earned.
By contrast, it is much harder for a drug company billionaire to cry foul because a drug developed with public funds, and selling at generic prices, has destroyed the market for his $100,000–a–year cancer drug. In the same vein, CEOs might have a hard time getting sympathy for the complaint that new rules of corporate governance make it easier to shareholders to bring their pay down to earth.
It is great that the rise in inequality seems likely to be a major topic in the 2020 presidential campaign. However, it is important that we think carefully about how best to reverse it.Ocasio-Cortez to unveilJoe , February 07, 2019 at 07:16 AM
Green New Deal to address climate change
https://www.bostonglobe.com/news/politics/2019/02/07/democrats-seek-green-new-deal-address-climate-change/Dw5vKODzgZag4T6jIDHAbO/story.html?event=event25 via @BostonGlobe
Matthew Daly - Associated Press - February 7, 2019
WASHINGTON -- Democrats including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York are calling for a Green New Deal intended to transform the U.S. economy to combat climate change and create thousands of jobs in renewable energy.
The freshman lawmaker and veteran Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts are teaming up on the plan, which aims to eliminate the U.S. carbon footprint by 2030.
A joint resolution drafted by Ocasio-Cortez and Markey sets a goal to meet ''100 percent of the power demand in the United States through clean, renewable and zero-emission energy sources,'' including dramatic increases in wind and solar power.
A news conference at the Capitol is set for Thursday, the day they introduce the resolution.
While setting lofty goals, the plan does not explicitly call for eliminating the use of fossil fuels such as oil and natural gas, a nod to pragmatism that may disappoint some of Ocasio-Cortez's strongest supporters.
Even so, their Green New Deal goes far beyond the Clean Power Plan proposed by President Barack Obama. President Donald Trump has scrapped Obama's plan, which imposed emissions limits on coal-fired power plants, as a job-killer.
The Democrats are likely to meet resistance to their proposal in Congress, especially in the Republican-controlled Senate. Trump, who has expressed doubts about climate change, also is likely to oppose it.
The resolution marks the first time Ocasio-Cortez and other lawmakers have attached legislative language onto the Green New Deal, a concept that until now has been largely undefined other than as a call for urgent action to head off catastrophic climate change and create jobs.
Several Democratic presidential hopefuls have embraced the idea of a Green New Deal without saying exactly what it means.
Ocasio-Cortez said in a statement that the plan will create ''unprecedented levels of prosperity and wealth for all while ensuring economic and environmental justice and security.'' She calls for a ''World War II-scale mobilization'' that includes high-quality education and health care, clean air and water and safe, affordable housing.
Answering critics who call the plan unrealistic, Ocasio-Cortez says that when President John F. Kennedy wanted to go to the moon by the end of the 1960s, ''people said it was impossible.'' She also cites Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal, Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society and the interstate highway system begun under Dwight D. Eisenhower as examples of American know-how and capability.
While focusing on renewable energy, Ocasio-Cortez said the plan would include existing nuclear power plants but block new nuclear plants. Nuclear power does not emit greenhouse gases, which contribute to global warming.
The resolution does not include a price tag, but some Republicans predict it would cost in the trillions of dollars. They denounced the plan at House hearings on climate change on Wednesday.
The Green New Deal would be paid for ''the same way we paid for the original New Deal, World War II, the bank bailouts, tax cuts for the rich and decades of war -- with public money appropriated by Congress,'' Ocasio-Cortez said.
Government can take an equity stake in Green New Deal projects ''so the public gets a return on its investment,'' she said.https://www.wirepoints.com/moodys-to-pritzker-new-taxes-could-threaten-to-increase-the-outflow-of-illinois-residents/
New Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker got a warning of sorts from Moody's ahead of the governor's first budget address. The rating agency's most recent report* highlighted the usual crises Pritzker must tackle: ballooning pension debts and chronic budget deficits. Moody's rates Illinois just one notch above junk largely due to the state's finances and malgovernance.
Moody's says new revenue likely will be required to achieve stability, as you'd expect, because rating agencies love higher taxes. But for the first time, the agency has included outmigration among its top-three credit concerns. That matters because Pritzker's number one prescription to "fix" Illinois is tax hikes, something that's sure to accelerate Illinois' out-migration trend and further erode the state's tax base.
Moody's is politely explaining that they are 180 deg out of cycle, the negotiation has been finished, in the past.
Is the new gov confused or is he consciously doing the crawl back step? Whatever, the gov will be confused no longer, he is clearly in crawl back stage, the next chapter in bankruptcy.
It is now all about deciding which industry stays and which goes; a re-agglomeration, the second step of the Hicksonian jump, shift expectations operator; you have to move stuff around according to the agreement.
Feb 07, 2019 | www.unz.com
kauchai, February 7, 2019 at 1:51 am GMT" Second, Venezuela's central bankers were persuaded to pledge their oil reserves and all assets of the state oil sector (including Citgo) as collateral for its foreign debt. This meant that if Venezuela defaulted (or was forced into default by U.S. banks refusing to make timely payment on its foreign debt), bondholders and U.S. oil majors would be in a legal position to take possession of Venezuelan oil assets."
Solid proof that it was the empire who invented the practice of "debt trap" and is still flourishing with it.
hunor, February 7, 2019 at 6:24 am GMT
Thank you ! Made it very clear. Perfect reflection of the " Values of Western Civilization ".
Reaching to grab the whole universe, with no holds barred . And never show of any interest for the " truth". They are not even pretending anymore , awakening will be very painful for some.
Reuben Kaspate, February 7, 2019 at 2:38 pm GMT • 100 Words
Why would the U. S. based White-Protestant aristocracy care a hoot about the Brown-Catholic elites in the far off land? They don't! The comprador aristocracy in question isn't what it seems It's the same group that plagues the Americans.
The rootless louts, whose only raison d'ê·tre is to milk everything in sight and then retire to coastal cities, i.e. San Francisco, if you are a homosexual or New York City and State, if you are somewhat religious.
Poor Venezuelans don't stand a chance against the shysters!
Feb 05, 2019 | original.antiwar.com
CIA Was Aiding Afghan Jihadists Before the Soviet Invasion
by Nauman Sadiq Posted on February 05, 2019 February 1, 2019 Originally, there were four parties involved in the Afghan conflict which are mainly responsible for the debacle in the Af-Pak region. Firstly, the former Soviet Union which invaded Afghanistan in December 1979. Secondly, Pakistan's security agencies which nurtured the Afghan jihadists on the behest of Washington.
Thirdly, Saudi Arabia and the rest of oil-rich Gulf states which generously funded the jihadists to promote their Wahhabi-Salafi ideology. And last but not the least, the Western capitals which funded, provided weapons and internationally legitimized the erstwhile "freedom fighters" to use them against a competing ideology, global communism, which posed a threat to the Western corporate interests all over the world.
Regarding the objectives of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979, the then American envoy to Kabul, Adolph "Spike" Dubs, was assassinated on Feb. 14, 1979, the same day that Iranian revolutionaries stormed the US embassy in Tehran.
According to recently declassified documents of the White House, CIA and State Department, as reported by Tim Weiner for The Washington Post , the CIA was aiding Afghan jihadists before the Soviets invaded in 1979.
President Jimmy Carter signed the CIA directive to arm the Afghan jihadists in July 1979, whereas the former Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in December the same year. That the CIA was arming the Afghan jihadists six months before the Soviets invaded Afghanistan has been proven by the State Department's declassified documents; fact of the matter, however, is that the nexus between the CIA, Pakistan's security agencies and the Gulf states to train and arm the Afghan jihadists against the former Soviet Union was formed several years before the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
Historically, Pakistan's military first used the Islamists of Jamaat-e-Islami during the Bangladesh war of liberation in the late 1960s against the Bangladeshi nationalist Mukti Bahini liberation movement of Sheikh Mujib-ur-Rahman – the father of current prime minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina Wajed, and the founder of Bangladesh, which was then a province of Pakistan and known as East Pakistan before the independence of Bangladesh in 1971.
Jamaat-e-Islami is a far-right Islamist movement in Pakistan, India and Bangladesh – analogous to the Muslim Brotherhood political party in Egypt and Turkey – several of whose leaders have recently been hanged by the Bangladeshi nationalist government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed for committing massacres of Bangladeshi civilians on behalf of Pakistan's military during the late 1960s.
Then, during the 1970s, Pakistan's then-Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto began aiding the Afghan Islamists against Sardar Daud's government, who had toppled his first cousin King Zahir Shah in a palace coup in 1973 and had proclaimed himself the president of Afghanistan.
Sardar Daud was a Pashtun nationalist and laid claim to Pakistan's northwestern Pashtun-majority province. Pakistan's security establishment was wary of his irredentist claims and used Islamists to weaken his rule in Afghanistan. He was eventually assassinated in 1978 as a result of the Saur Revolution led by the Afghan communists.
Pakistan's support to the Islamists with the Saudi petrodollars and Washington's blessings, however, kindled the fires of Islamic insurgencies in the entire region comprising Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Soviet Central Asian States.
The former Soviet Union was wary that its forty-million Muslims were susceptible to radicalism, because Islamic radicalism was infiltrating across the border into the Central Asian States from Afghanistan. Therefore, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in December 1979 in support of the Afghan communists to forestall the likelihood of Islamic insurgencies spreading to the Central Asian States bordering Afghanistan.
Even the American President Donald Trump recently admitted : "The reason Russia invaded Afghanistan was because terrorists were going into Russia; they were right to be there." Incidentally, Trump also implied the reason why Soviet Union collapsed was due to the economic burden of the Soviet-Afghan War, as he was making a point about the withdrawal of American forces from Syria and Afghanistan.
Notwithstanding, in the Soviet-Afghan War between the capitalist and communist blocs, Saudi Arabia and the rest of Gulf's petro-monarchies took the side of the capitalist bloc because the former Soviet Union and Central Asian states produce more energy and consume less. Thus, the Soviet-led bloc was a net exporter of energy whereas the Western capitalist bloc was a net importer.
It suited the economic interests of the oil-rich Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries to maintain and strengthen a supplier-consumer relationship with the Western capitalist bloc. Now, the BRICS countries are equally hungry for the Middle East's energy, but it's a recent development. During the Cold War, an alliance with the industrialized Western nations suited the economic interests of the Gulf countries.
Regarding the motives of the belligerents involved, the Americans wanted to take revenge for their defeat at the hands of communists in Vietnam, the Gulf countries had forged close economic ties with the Western bloc and Pakistan was dependent on the Western military aid, hence it didn't have a choice but to toe Washington's policy in Afghanistan.
In the end, the Soviet-Afghan War proved to be a "bear trap" and the former Soviet Union was eventually defeated and was subsequently dissolved in December 1991. It did not collapse because of the Afghan Jihad but that was an important factor contributing to the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
Regardless, more than twenty years before the declassification of the State Department documents as mentioned in the aforementioned Washington Post report, in the 1998 interview to the alternative news outlet The CounterPunch Magazine , former National Security Advisor to President Jimmy Carter, Zbigniew Brzezinski, confessed that the president signed the directive to provide secret aid to the Afghan jihadists in July 1979, whereas the Soviet Army invaded Afghanistan six months later in December 1979.
Here is a poignant excerpt from the interview: The interviewer puts the question: "And neither do you regret having supported the Islamic jihadists, having given arms and advice to future terrorists?" Brzezinski replies: "What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the Cold War?"
Despite the crass insensitivity, one must give credit to Zbigniew Brzezinski that at least he had the courage to speak the unembellished truth. It's worth noting, however, that the aforementioned interview was recorded in 1998. After the 9/11 terror attack, no Western policymaker can now dare to be as blunt and forthright as Brzezinski.
Nauman Sadiq is an Islamabad-based attorney, columnist and geopolitical analyst focused on the politics of Af-Pak and Middle East regions, neocolonialism and petro-imperialism.Read more by Nauman Sadiq
- US Sanctions as a Tool To Perpetuate Neocolonialism – February 1st, 2019
Feb 05, 2019 | www.rt.com
The freezing of Venezuelan gold by the Bank of England is a signal to all countries out of step with US interests to withdraw their money, according to economist and co-founder of Democracy at Work, Professor Richard Wolff. He told RT America that Britain and its central bank have shown themselves to be "under the thumb of the United States."
"That is a signal to every country that has or may have difficulties with the US, [that they had] better get their money out of England and out of London because it's not the safe place as it once was," he said.
Feb 04, 2019 | original.antiwar.com
US Sanctions as a Tool To Perpetuate Neocolonialism
by Nauman Sadiq Posted on February 02, 2019 January 31, 2019 It's an evident fact that neocolonial powers are ruled by behemoth corporations whose wealth is measured in hundreds of billions of dollars, far more than the total GDP of many developing nations. The status of these multinational corporations as dominant players in international politics gets official imprimatur when the Western governments endorse the congressional lobbying practice of so-called "special interest" groups, which is a euphemism for corporate interests.
Since the Western governments are nothing but the mouthpiece of business interests on international political and economic forums, therefore any national or international entity which hinders or opposes the agenda of corporate interests is either coerced into accepting their demands or gets sidelined.
In 2013, the Manmohan Singh's government of India had certain objections to further opening up to the Western businesses. The Business Roundtable, which is an informal congregation of major US businesses and together holds a net wealth of $6 trillion, held a meeting with the representatives of the Indian government and literally coerced it into accepting unfair demands of the Western corporations.
The developing economies, such as India and Pakistan, are always hungry for foreign direct investment (FDI) to sustain economic growth, and this investment mostly comes from the Western corporations. When the Business Roundtables or the Paris-based International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) form pressure groups and engage in "collective bargaining" activities, the nascent and fragile developing economies don't have a choice but to toe their line.
State sovereignty, that sovereign nation states are at liberty to pursue independent policies, particularly economic and trade policies, is a myth. Just like the ruling elites of the developing countries which maintain a stranglehold and monopoly over domestic politics; similarly, the neocolonial powers and multinational corporations control international politics and the global economic order.
Any state in the international arena which dares to transgress the trade and economic policies laid down by neocolonial powers and multinational corporations becomes an international pariah like Castro's Cuba, Mugabe's Zimbabwe; or more recently, Maduro's Venezuela.
Venezuela has one of the largest known oil reserves in the world. Even though the mainstream media's pundits hold the socialist policies of President Nicolas Maduro responsible for economic mismanagement in Venezuela, fact of the matter is that hyperinflation in its economy is the effect of US sanctions against Venezuela which have been put in place since the time of late President Hugo Chavez.
Another case in point is Iran which was cut off from the global economic system from 2006 to 2015, and then again after May last year when President Donald Trump annulled the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), because of Iran's supposed nuclear ambitions. Good for Iran that it also has one of the largest oil and gas resources, otherwise it would have been insolvent by now.
Such is the power of Washington-led global financial system, especially the banking sector, and the significance of petrodollar, because the global oil transactions are pegged in the US dollars all over the world, and all the major oil bourses are also located in the Western financial districts.
The crippling "third party" economic sanctions on Iran from 2006 to 2015 have brought to the fore the enormous power that the Western financial institutions and the petrodollar as a global reserve currency wields over the global financial system.
It bears mentioning that the Iranian nuclear negotiations were as much about Iran's nuclear program as they were about its ballistic missile program, which is an equally dangerous conventional threat to Israel and the Gulf's petro-monarchies, just across the Persian Gulf.
Despite the sanctions being unfair, Iran felt the heat so much that it remained engaged in negotiations throughout the nearly decade-long period of sanctions, and such was the crippling effect of those "third party" sanctions on Iran's economy that had it not been for its massive oil and gas reserves, and some Russian, Chinese and Turkish help in illicitly buying Iranian oil, it could have defaulted due to the sanctions.
Notwithstanding, after the brutal assassination of Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, and the clear hand of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman in the murder, certain naïve political commentators of the mainstream media came up with a ludicrous suggestion that Washington should impose sanctions on Saudi Arabia.
As in the case of aforementioned Iran sanctions, sanctioning Saudi Arabia also seems plausible; however, there is a caveat: Iran is only a single oil-rich state which has 160 billion barrels of proven oil reserves and has the capacity to produce 5 million barrels per day (mbpd) of crude oil.
On the other hand, the Persian Gulf's petro-monarchies are actually three oil-rich states. Saudi Arabia with its 266 billion barrels of proven oil reserves and 10 mbpd of daily crude oil production, and UAE and Kuwait with 100 billion barrels of proven reserves, each, and 3 mbpd of daily crude oil production, each. Together, the share of the Gulf Cooperation Countries (GCC) amounts to 466 billion barrels, almost one-third of the world's 1477 billion barrels of total proven oil reserves.
Therefore, although imposing economic sanctions on the Gulf states might sound like a good idea on paper, the relationship between the Gulf's petro-monarchies and the industrialized world is that of a consumer-supplier relationship. The Gulf states are the suppliers of energy and the industrialized world is its consumer, hence the Western powers cannot sanction their energy suppliers and largest investors.
If anything, the Gulf's petro-monarchies had "sanctioned" the Western powers in the past by imposing the oil embargo in 1973 after the Arab-Israel War. The 1973 Arab oil embargo against the West lasted only for a short span of six months during which the price of oil quadrupled, but Washington became so paranoid after the embargo that it put in place a ban on the export of crude oil outside the US borders, and began keeping sixty-day stock of reserve fuel for strategic and military needs.
Recently, some very upbeat rumors about the shale revolution have been circulating in the media. However, the shale revolution is primarily a natural gas revolution. It has increased the probable recoverable resources of natural gas by 30%. The shale oil, on the other hand, refers to two starkly different kinds of energy resources: firstly, the solid kerogen – though substantial resources of kerogen have been found in the US Green River formations, the cost of extracting liquid crude from solid kerogen is so high that it is economically unviable for at least a hundred years; secondly, the tight oil which is blocked by shale – it is a viable energy resource but the reserves are so limited, roughly 4 billion barrels in Texas and North Dakota, that it will run out in a few years.
More than the size of oil reserves, it is about per barrel extraction cost, which determines the profits for the multinational oil companies. And in this regard, the Persian Gulf's crude oil is the most profitable. Further, regarding the supposed US energy independence after the purported shale revolution, the US produced 11 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil in the first quarter of 2014, which was more than the output of Saudi Arabia and Russia, each of which produces around 10 million bpd. But the US still imported 7.5 million bpd during the same period, which was more than the oil imports of France and Britain put together. More than the total volume of oil production, the volume which an oil-producing country exports determines its place in the hierarchy of petroleum and the Gulf's petro-monarchies constitute the top tier of that pyramid.
Nauman Sadiq is an Islamabad-based attorney, columnist and geopolitical analyst focused on the politics of Af-Pak and Middle East regions, neocolonialism and petro-imperialism.
Feb 03, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com
While the US Midwest suffers with Arctic temperatures, winter tightens its icy stranglehold on Europe, where a considerable number of people are struggling to keep their homes warm.
Statista's Niall McCarthy reports that, according to new data released by Eurostat , eight percent of the EU population couldn't afford to adequately heat their homes in 2017. That still represents an improvement on recent years, particularly 2012 when it peaked at 11 percent.
You will find more infographics at Statista
Among member states , the largest share of people who could not afford to properly heat their home was recorded in Bulgaria at 36.5 percent. It was followed by Lithuania (28.9 percent) and Greece (25.7 percent). The lowest figures were recorded in Luxembourg (1.9 percent), Finland (2.0 percent) and Sweden (2.1 percent).
Nov 30, 2018 | www.yahoo.com
https://platform.twitter.com/widgets/follow_button.html?screen_name=heidi_chung&show_screen_name=false&show_count=falseHeidi Chung Reporter , Yahoo Finance • November 28, 2018
As trade tensions run hot between the U.S. and China, President Trump might have one key advantage in the trade war, according to Nomura.
Analyst Romit Shah explained that China's dependence on U.S.-made advanced microchips could give Trump the upper hand.
"We believe that as China-U.S. tensions escalate, U.S. semiconductors give Washington a strong hand because the core components of Made in China 2025 (AI, smart factories, 5G, bigdata and full self-driving electric vehicles) can't happen without advanced microchips from the U.S.," Shah said in a note to clients.BEIJING, CHINA – NOVEMBER 9, 2017: US President Donald Trump (L) and China's President Xi Jinping shake hands at a press conference following their meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. Artyom Ivanov/TASS (Photo by Artyom Ivanov\TASS via Getty Images)
Made in China 2025 is the Chinese government's 10-year plan to update the country's 10 high-tech manufacturing industries, which include information technology, robotics, aerospace, rail transport, and new-energy vehicles, among others.
One of Made in China 2025's main goals is to become semiconductor self sufficient. China hopes that at least 40% of the semiconductors used in China will be made locally by 2020, and at least 70% by 2025. "Made in China 2025 made abundantly clear China's commitment to semiconductor self-sufficiency. Made in China 2025 will upgrade multiple facets of the Chinese economy," Shah said.
According to Nomura's estimates, China is currently about 3 to 5 years behind the U.S. in dynamic random-access memory (DRAM) chip production. However, Shah explained that if the trade war persists, the consequences could set Chinese chip production behind by 5 to 15 years.
Without U.S. semis, China will not be able to process the technology necessary to push forward the Made in China 2025 program. "American chips in many ways form the backbone of China's tech economy," Shah said.Consequences for U.S.
The Trump Administration's tariffs on Chinese goods were intended to severely disrupt the Chinese tech-advancement initiative. But Shah says that making U.S. chips more expensive for China could have consequences for the U.S. as well.
One concern centers around intellectual property theft. The Department of Justice (DOJ) has been working hard to punish China for allegedly attempting to commit espionage. For example, the DOJ believes China was attempting to spy on the U.S. through Huawei and asked U.S. allies to drop the Chinese tech equipment maker.
However, while many U.S. chipmakers, such as Advanced Micro Devices ( AMD ), Qualcomm ( QCOM ) and Micron ( MU ), expressed gratitude that the DOJ was intervening to prevent intellectual property theft, the companies are also concerned that it could spark retaliation from their Chinese business partners and result in loss of access to the Chinese market. "Joint ventures, IP sharing agreements and manufacturing partnerships are the price of admission into China, and thus far, companies are playing ball," Shah explained.
Shah essentially calls the Chinese tariffs a double-edged sword. While tariffs will hurt the Chinese if they can't have access to freely source U.S. chips, it could also hurt U.S. chipmakers if they lose their business in China. According to Shah's research, "Over 50% of Chinese semiconductor consumption is supplied by U.S. firms In 2017, China consumed $138bn in integrated circuits (ICs), of which it only produced $18.5bn domestically, implying China imported $120bn of semis in 2017, up from $98bn in 2016 and $73bn in 2012."
Trump and China's President Xi Jinping are scheduled to meet at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Thursday for a two-day meeting. If the two leaders are unable to come to some sort of trade resolution at the meeting, U.S. tariffs on over $200 billion worth of Chinese goods will increase from 10% to 25% on January 1, 2019.
"China could source equipment from Europe and Japan; however, we believe there are certain mission-critical tools that can only be purchased from the U.S. We believe that U.S.-China trade is the biggest theme for U.S. semis and equipment stocks in 2019. Made in China 2025 can't happen without U.S. semis, and U.S. semis can't grow without China. We hope this backdrop drives resolution," Shah said.
Heidi Chung is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @heidi_chung .
While US has the upper hand on semis, a trade embargo on semis will (1) slows down China's move towards achieving Made in China 2025, (2) at the same time give China the impetus to rush ahead will all resources available to achieve the originally omitted goal of being self-sufficient in tech skills and technology, and (3) seriously hurt companies like Intel, AMD, Micron, and Qualcom as a huge percentage of their businesses are with China, and with that portion of their business gone, all these companies will end up in a loss and without the needed financial resources to invest into new technology in the near future.
Apart from semis, China holds the throat of the US in the supply of rare earth (used in semis, military weaponry, ans astronomical), as well as antibiotics..
This is a war that no one wins.
Article from the newspaper: weekly "Arguments and Facts" № 1-2 09/01/2019
Is the scenario of suffocation of the USSR, carried out by the US 30 years ago, similar to the events that are happening now, and what Russia needs to fear most? "AiF" asked these questions to the Director of the Institute of new society, economist Vasily Koltashov.
How the world has changed
Alexey Makurin," AIF": Looking at the events taking place in recent years, you catch yourself thinking that all this has already happened. The current strategy of suffocation of Russia by America one in one copies the same strategy of times of Reagan. In the eighties, the United States also hampered the construction of a gas pipeline from Siberia to Europe. The fall in oil prices also drained our budget, and defense spending grew. And the army was involved in the conflict in the southern country: Afghanistan. The West deliberately repeats the plan that brought him victory in the cold war?
Vasily Koltashov: it's more of a coincidence. But even if there is some scenario, the game this time is some stupid. In the days of Reagan and Bush senior Americans were more rational, thinner. And now, in everything they do, there is an element of hysteria caused by the need to respond to the complex state of their own Affairs. Compared with the eighties in the us huge public debt and huge bubbles in the stock market, threatening investors ruin. The imbalances that have accumulated in the economy are blocking the development of industrial production. Much other than agriculture and raw material extraction is often expensive and uncompetitive. These problems provoke a conflict not only with Russia, but also with China, with other Eurasian centers of capitalism, which took shape in recent decades.
30 years ago, Western countries revived and developed after the crisis of the seventies. The orbit of influence of the USA included Pakistan, Turkey, China. Now Trump has stopped financing Pakistan. In Turkey, there was an attempt of a coup d'état in which Ankara accused Washington. The Americans are waging a trade war against the Chinese. These and other countries that do not find a common language with the United States, are increasingly trading among themselves. The American press writes about the" Eastern Entente", implying the Eurasian powers.
Increasingly, there are disputes and conflicts between Americans and their European allies, which was unthinkable before. In such a situation, a plan to weaken Russia, similar to the scenario of Reagan advisors, can no longer work.
-- What did the West want, putting pressure on the USSR in the eighties?
- I think the West did not seek to destroy the Soviet Union, but just tried to solved a more utilitarian problem: acquiring new markets for their products. At that time, neoliberal globalization became the main mechanism of economic growth, it was important for the West to draw countries into its orbit, which were previously somehow isolated from the world market. They bought the Russian nomenklatura like they buy local elites in Latin America and tried to concert Russia into Latin American country. They almost succeeded.
How did Ronald Reagan scare the USSR by joking on August 11, 1984?
-- What about Reagan's "evil Empire"statement?
-- It was preparation for the beginning of negotiations from a position of strength. Behind this ideological rhetoric was another meaning: if you continue to maintain its planned economy, closed to free trade, we will begin to destroy it, and if you agree to our terms, we will offer you a deal.
As a result, the Soviet and post-Soviet elites adopted the rules established by Washington: they became intermediaries between Western corporations and the wealth of their countries. Russia paid for this deal with the destruction of its industry and the emergence of oligarchs, enriched by mediation. But there were wins. The country has developed large national corporations that have become prominent players on the global map. The same "Gazprom". Over time, Russia has its own ambitions to expand the volume and list of exported goods.
In response, 5 years ago, the US led an attack on it, declaring sanctions.
- What is their purpose in the current situation?
- Full and unconditional surrender of Russia in the economy. The West wants through its representatives to manage Russian companies, without intermediaries to enter the Russian domestic market and get the fattest pieces.
How Russia has changed
- This time Russia does not give up and attacks itself, as is happening in the same Syria. What changed?
- The country and enterprises are now run by people with a market view of the world who know the value of the wealth they dispose of. It was for Gorbachev that Soviet factories were an abstraction, he did not understand their true value. His concessions to the US and Europe were completely irrational from a commercial point of view. It's impossible now.
In addition, in the eighties the USSR lost to the West ideologically. Our society has accumulated a great fatigue from ascetic "socialism" and international expansion with ideological background. The Western model of life and economy began to seem more attractive. The war in Afghanistan was declared meaningless. And now the Syrian conflict, Russia does not solve a particular ideological goals. The military plays the role of guards of its economic interests. Without any doubt, it would be more difficult for our government to agree with OPEC on limiting oil production, if not for the successes in Syria. This agreement in 2017-2018 allowed to raise oil prices and helped to resume economic growth in Russia.
-- Was it possible for the Soviet leadership to influence world oil prices?
- The USSR, too, nothing prevented to sit down at the negotiating table with OPEC. But that wouldn't change the situation. Saudi Arabia and other oil exporters were then loyal allies of the United States. The West then concentrated all the world's capital, he put the OPEC countries conditions: create comfortable prices for us, and we will invest in your economy.
And today, Saudi capital seeks to play an independent role, Riyadh's relations with Washington have become cooler, and with Moscow, on the contrary, warmer. And the US itself is increasingly supplying hydrocarbons for export: it is predicted that in 2019 they will come out on top in the world for oil production. But this leadership is provided to Americans by expensive shale oil, the extraction of which becomes unprofitable at prices below $ 40 per barrel. So, for the US, very low oil prices are now also unprofitable.
On the other hand, the dependence of the Russian budget on oil and gas today is also higher than 30-35 years ago, when the country had a more powerful industry. This is an additional risk.
-- What new qualities acquired by the Russian economy allow it to successfully withstand Western pressure?
-- In the late eighties the Soviet Union accumulated external debts, in full working printing press in order to Supplement the budget and ensure the salary of the people. The planned economy was unable to provide the country with basic goods. And today, private business is able to buy anything and anywhere. Agriculture not only feeds the country on its own, but also has become a major exporter of grain, poultry and pork. The financial system is arranged very rationally: the state debt is minimized and plays a purely technical role, budget revenues exceed expenditures.
Where the main threats
-- But aren't the military expenditures, which have to be made in the conditions of confrontation with the United States, too high? Will it not be possible that the new arms race will be too much for the country?
- Financing of the defense industry to the detriment of consumer and other civil industries usually occurs in the planned mobilization system, where all the resources of the country are concentrated by the state. And in a market economy, such imbalances appear only during the war, when budget distortions arise and private companies begin to focus more on military orders than on grass-roots demand. There is no such thing in Russia now, although the government's attention to defense capability is growing along with the pressure of the US and its allies.
- Where does the main danger come from in such a situation?
-- Not exactly from the USA. The main threat to Russia is low effective demand within the country. The weakness of the ruble, the low rate of economic growth -- all this is a consequence of the poverty of the mass buyer.
And from this point of view, the country is again at a crossroads. In 2019, we can see a new wave of the global economic crisis. The first signs of this were already evident at the end of last year, when commodity prices fell sharply and the shares of American companies fell in price. If these trends continue, Russia will not receive easing of sanctions. So, we need to act and strongly non-trivial.
With whom will trade? Expert on how Russia can live under sanctions
It is already clear with whom we can develop further: with the leading Asian countries. At the same time, expanding commodity expansion in foreign markets, it is important to move to a new mercantilism: sell excess, buy only the most necessary, and produce everything else within the country. This is a traditional trade on the "method of cat Matroskin", which existed for thousands of years: "To buy something you need, you must first sell something unnecessary." All need to produce themselves.
And it is important to support the Russian buyer. This may be a preferential mortgage loan at 3-5% per annum, which will stimulate demand for housing and the sectors of the economy that are associated with construction. This may be an increase in the number of school teachers, doctors and kindergarten workers. We need an hourly wage to let people know what their time is worth. It is extremely important to have a tax-free minimum income (at least 50 thousand rubles per month). It is necessary to interest migrant workers to live in Russia and leave money in our country, which will help to create new jobs. We need to directly give people money and encourage all kinds of entrepreneurship, release the economic energy of society.
Feb 02, 2019 | finance.yahoo.com
Big tech companies have bullied competitors and outrun ethical standards in an effort to "own the world," Jean Case, the CEO of the Case Foundation and a former senior executive at AOL, told Yahoo Finance this week. "Many of those big companies are crowding out new innovations of young upstarts. That's not healthy," she said, in response to a question about Google and Facebook.
"On the technology side, look, things have changed so fast," Case said. "I think we just haven't kept pace with some of the ethics policies and frameworks that we need to put around this stuff...used by millions of millions before thought is given to implications."
Case made the comments in a conversation that aired on Yahoo Finance on Thursday at 5 p.m. EST in an episode of " Influencers with Andy Serwer ," a weekly interview series with leaders in business, politics, and entertainment. In addition to her comments on big tech, Case explained why a woman can be elected president, what National Geographic has done to thrive amid media industry tumult, and how it felt at AOL in the heady early days of the internet.
... ... ...
Jan 25, 2019 | failedevolution.blogspot.com
January 25, 2019 For Thierry Meyssan, one of the consequences of the successive ends of the bipolar and unipolar world is the re-establishment of colonial projects. One after the other, the French, Turkish and English have publicly declared the return of their colonial ambitions. We still need to know what form they will adopt in the 21st century.
by Thierry Meyssan
Part 3 - The British Empire
As for the United Kingdom, it has been hesitating for two years about its future after the Brexit.
A little after the arrival of Donald Trump at the White House, Prime Minister Theresa May went to the United States. Speaking to the representatives of the Republican Party, she proposed re-establishing the Anglo-Saxon leadership of the rest of the world. But President Trump has been elected to liquidate these imperial dreams, not to share them.
Disappointed, Theresa May then travelled to China in order to propose that President Xi Jinping share control of international exchanges. The City, she said, was ready to ensure the convertibility of Western currencies into Yuan. But President Xi had not been elected to do business with an heiress of the power which had dismantled his country and imposed on the Chinese their opium war.
Theresa May tried a third version with the Commonwealth. Some of the ex-colonies of the Crown, like India, are today enjoying powerful growth and could become precious commercial partners. Symbolically, the heir to the throne, Crown Prince Charles, was raised to the Presidency of this association. Mrs. May announced that we are on our way to a Global Britain.
In an interview with the Sunday Telegraph on 30 December 2018, the British Minister for Defence, Gavin Williamson, published his analysis of the situation. Since the fiasco of the Suez Canal in 1956, the United Kingdom has implemented a policy of decolonisation, and has withdrawn its troops from the rest of the world. Today, it conserves permanent military bases only in Gibraltar, Cyprus, Diego Garcia and the "Falklands", to give these islands their imperial title.
For the last 63 years, London has been oriented towards the European Union, invented by Winston Churchill, but to which, initially, he never imagined that England would belong. The Brexit "tears this policy to shreds". From now on, "the United Kingdom is back as a global power".
London is planning to open two permanent military bases. The first will probably be in Asia (Singapore or Brunei), and the second in Latin America - most likely in Guyana, in order to participate in the new stage of the Rumsfeld-Cebrowski strategy of the destruction of those regions of the world which are not connected to globalisation. After the "African Great Lakes", the "Greater Middle East", it's time for the "Caribbean Basin". The war will probably start with an invasion of Venezuela by Colombia (pro-US), Brazil (pro-Israëli) and Guyana (pro-British).
Jan 22, 2019 | www.amazon.com
P. Philips 5.0 out of 5 stars December 6, 2018
"In a Time of Universal Deceit -- Telling the Truth Is a Revolutionary Act""In a Time of Universal Deceit -- Telling the Truth Is a Revolutionary Act" is a well known quotation (but probably not of George Orwell). And in telling the truth about Russia and that the current "war of nerves" is not in the interests of either the American People or national security, Professor Cohen in this book has in fact done a revolutionary act.
Like a denizen of Plato's cave, or being in the film the Matrix, most people have no idea what the truth is. And the questions raised by Professor Cohen are a great service in the cause of the truth. As Professor Cohen writes in his introduction To His Readers:
"My scholarly work -- my biography of Nikolai Bukharin and essays collected in Rethinking the Soviet Experience and Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives, for example -- has always been controversial because it has been what scholars term "revisionist" -- reconsiderations, based on new research and perspectives, of prevailing interpretations of Soviet and post-Soviet Russian history. But the "controversy" surrounding me since 2014, mostly in reaction to the contents of this book, has been different -- inspired by usually vacuous, defamatory assaults on me as "Putin's No. 1 American Apologist," "Best Friend," and the like. I never respond specifically to these slurs because they offer no truly substantive criticism of my arguments, only ad hominem attacks. Instead, I argue, as readers will see in the first section, that I am a patriot of American national security, that the orthodox policies my assailants promote are gravely endangering our security, and that therefore we -- I and others they assail -- are patriotic heretics. Here too readers can judge."
Cohen, Stephen F.. War with Russia (Kindle Locations 131-139). Hot Books. Kindle Edition.
Professor Cohen is indeed a patriot of the highest order. The American and "Globalists" elites, particularly the dysfunctional United Kingdom, are engaging in a war of nerves with Russia. This war, which could turn nuclear for reasons discussed in this important book, is of no benefit to any person or nation.
Indeed, with the hysteria on "climate change" isn't it odd that other than Professor Cohen's voice, there are no prominent figures warning of the devastation that nuclear war would bring?
If you are a viewer of one of the legacy media outlets, be it Cable Television networks, with the exception of Tucker Carlson on Fox who has Professor Cohen as a frequent guest, or newspapers such as The New York Times, you have been exposed to falsehoods by remarkably ignorant individuals; ignorant of history, of the true nature of Russia (which defeated the Nazis in Europe at a loss of millions of lives) and most important, of actual military experience. America is neither an invincible or exceptional nation. And for those familiar with terminology of ancient history, it appears the so-called elites are suffering from hubris.
I cannot recommend Professor Cohen's work with sufficient superlatives; his arguments are erudite, clearly stated, supported by the facts and ultimately irrefutable. If enough people find Professor Cohen's work and raise their voices to their oblivious politicians and profiteers from war to stop further confrontation between Russia and America, then this book has served a noble purpose.
If nothing else, educate yourself by reading this work to discover what the *truth* is. And the truth is something sacred.
America and the world owe Professor Cohen a great debt. "Blessed are the peace makers..."
jn 5.0 out of 5 stars January 18, 2019This book examines the senseless and dangerous demonizing of Russia and Putin
This is a compelling book that documents and examines the senseless and dangerous demonizing of Russia and Putin. Unfortunately, the elites in Washington and mass media are not likely to read this book. Their minds are closed. I read this book because I was hoping for an explanation about the cause of the new cold war with Russia. Although the root cause of the new cold war is beyond the scope of this book, the book documents baseless accusations that grew in frequency and intensity until all opposition was silenced. The book documents the dangerous triumph of group think.
"On my planet, the evidence linking Putin to the assassination of Litvinecko, Nemtsov, and Politkovskaya and the attempt on the Skripals is strong and consistent with spending his formative years in the KGB. The naive view from Cohen's planet is presented on p 6 and 170."
Ukrainian history. That's evident to any attentive reader. I just want to state that Ukrainian EuroMaydan was a color revolution which exploited the anger of population against the corrupt neoliberal government of Yanukovich (with Biden as the best friend, and Paul Manafort as the election advisor) to install even more neoliberal and more corrupt government of Poroshenko and cut Ukraine from Russia. The process that was probably inevitable in the long run (so called Baltic path), but that was forcefully accelerated. Everything was taken from the Gene Sharp textbook. And Ukrainians suffered greatly as a result, with the standard of living dropping to around $2 a day level -- essentially Central Africa level.
The fact is that the EU acted as a predator trying to get into Ukraine markets and displace Russia. While the USA neocons (Nuland and Co) staged the coup using Ukrainian nationalists as a ram, ignoring the fact that Yanukovich would be voted out in six months anyway (his popularity was in single digits, like popularity of Poroshenko those days ;-). The fact that Obama administration desperately wanted to weaken Russia at the expense of Ukrainians eludes you. I would blame Nuland for the loss of Crimea and the civil war in Donbass.
Poor Ukrainians again became the victim of geopolitical games by big powers. No that they are completely blameless, but still...
It looks like you inhabit a very cold populated exclusively with neocons planet called "Russiagate." So Professor Cohen really lives on another planet. And probably you should drink less American exceptionalism Kool-Aid.
Jan 22, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org
Don Bacon , Jan 21, 2019 8:21:20 PM | link
ISLAMABAD -- U.S. peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said on Saturday that Washington was ready to "address legitimate concerns" of all Afghan sides in order to restore peace in Afghanistan. Since being appointed in September, Khalilzad has met with all sides, including the Taliban, Afghan officials and Pakistan's political and military leadership in efforts aimed at finding a negotiated end to America's longest war in neighboring Afghanistan.//
The US managed the overthrow of the Afghanistan government seventeen years ago, then creating a puppet government with a feckless army to fight the Afghan resistance while assassinating many of the Afghan leaders who fought to regain their country, and now the US is ready to "address legitimate concerns" of all Afghan sides?
Well the Afghan officials are US puppets, so rule them out of legitimate concerns (as the Taliban has done). Pakistan? They fully support the Taliban's return to government, so that's a "legitimate concern" as is the Taliban's return to power.
Anything less ain't gonna work, that's obvious. Khalilzad was appointed in September to achieve results in six months, which is soon. So get with it, Zalmay. Get the US troops out of there as the Taliban demands in your "peace" talks.
Zachary Smith , Jan 21, 2019 9:15:51 PM | linkDon Bacon , Jan 21, 2019 9:16:09 PM | link[T]he units have also operated unconstrained by battlefield rules designed to protect civilians, conducting night raids, torture and killings with near impunity, in a covert campaign that some Afghan and American officials say is undermining the wider American effort to strengthen Afghan institutions.
The "special forces" and the people trained by them don't follow rules. This has been going on for a long time.
FREE OF OVERSIGHT, U.S. MILITARY TRAINS FOREIGN TROOPS By Dana Priest July 12, 1998The Clinton administration has enforced a near-total ban on the supply and sale of U.S. military equipment and training for the Colombian military because of its deep involvement in drug-related corruption and its record of killing politicians, human rights activists and civilians living in areas controlled by guerrilla groups.
The piece goes on to say that Special Forces were immune from this ban on training a foreign military to kill politicians, human rights activists and civilians" . It names dozens of nations where this was happening.
Of course not all US Special Forces are wild and lawless. Unfortunately the ones who do behave are at risk of being killed themselves.
Green Beret killed by strangulation reportedly turned down illegal money from Navy SEALs
The Green Beret was murdered because he was NOT dishonest.
The Pentagon is belatedly cracking down. Or at least pretending to.
Pentagon ready to 'admit problem' of rampant Special Forces crimes – report
Whenever you have a combination of lousy leadership and "Special Forces", there is going to be a problem. Australia has recently made the news in that regard.
The Abuse Scandal Rocking Australia's Special Operations ForcesIndividually, each claim is staggering: apparent execution of detainees; reported use of so-called drop weapons, planted to cover up unlawful killings; confirmed reports of commandos flying a Nazi flag on a combat patrol; alleged "blooding" of rookies, initiation rites in which newcomers were pressured to execute unarmed men. In one particularly sadistic case, a prosthetic limb was allegedly pilfered from the corpse of a dead Afghan, only to be repatriated and repurposed as a novelty binge-drinking implement.
At some point a Special Forces person is going to shrug and say "so what?" He or she knows they can double or triple their pay with Blackwater-type mercenary forces. So except for taking minimal precautions against going on trial, they can do as they please.The base attack took place in Maidan Wardak Province, where US Special Forces troops were evicted five years ago for atrocities.Glenn Brown , Jan 21, 2019 9:27:10 PM | link
In 2013 President Hamid Karzai demanded the withdrawal of all U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF) from Wardak province after charges that U.S. special forces stationed in Wardak province engaged in harassing, annoying, torturing and even murdering innocent people.
A Memorandum of Understanding signed May 12, 2012 between the U.S. military and the Afghan Defence Ministry was trumpeted by the Obama administration as giving the Afghan government control over such operations.
But a little-noticed provision of the agreement defined the "special operations" covered by the agreement as those operations that are "approved by the Afghan Operational Coordination Group (OCG) and conducted by Afghan Forces with support from U.S. Forces in accordance with Afghan laws."
That meant that the SOF was still free to carry out other raids without consultation with the Afghan government, until Karzai threw them out. But not the CIA.@ 30 Pft
The idea that the US isn't REALLY trying to win wars strikes me as more of a rationalization of failure than a real explanation. The US is an economically declining power that is trying to use its military dominance to maintain, and ideally increase its power. So wouldn't it be in the US's best interests if Afghanistan or Iraq (for example) were completely controlled by US controlled puppet governments, and US controlled corporations were making huge profits by exploiting those countries mineral and human resources? Wouldn't that be far more profitable than the mere creation of chaos?
Part of the reason I tend to find your ideas less than plausible, Pft, is that you always seem to vastly exaggerate the competence and power of the US or transnational elites you suspect are controlling everything. So I don't think the US's wars are either "fake" or "forever". Instead they are failures. And they can't last forever, because the corrupt system that generates them needs some successes, and soon, in order to continue to survive.
www.defenddemocracy.pressThanks to the IMF, the pockets of the forgotten from Argentina to Mexico will suffer so that finance is left intact.
November 14, 2018
On December 1, Mexico will have a new president -- AndrÃ©s Manuel LÃ³pez Obrador. He will take over the presidency from the lackluster Enrique PeÃ±a Nieto, whose administration is marinated in corruption. PeÃ±a Nieto's legal office has already asked the Supreme Court to shield his officials from prosecution for corruption. The elite will protect itself. LÃ³pez Obrador will not be able to properly exorcize the corrupt from the Mexican state, let alone from Mexican society. Corrupt weeds grow on the soil of capitalism, the loam of profit and greed as well as of rents from government contracts.
LÃ³pez Obrador comes to the presidency as a man of the left, but the space for maneuvering that he has for a left agenda is minimal. Mexico's economy, through geography and trade agreements, is fused with that of the United States. More than 80 percent of Mexico's exports go to its neighbor to the north, while Mexico's financial sector is almost entirely at the mercy of Northern banks.
Already, LÃ³pez Obrador has had to deal with the leash from Northern banks that sits tightly around Mexico's throat. On October 28, after the election, LÃ³pez Obrador canceled the project to build a new airport for Mexico City. This new airport -- at a cost of US$13.4 billion -- is seen as far too expensive (Istanbul has just inaugurated a new airport, far bigger, for almost US$2 billion less). The peso fell, the Mexican stock market fell, Fitch downgraded Mexico to "negative," and international investors frowned.
Then, in early November, legislators from LÃ³pez Obrador's party -- Morena -- proposed laws to limit bank fees. Mexico's stock market collapsed. It was the worst single-day loss of the BMV stock index in seven years. The bankers sent LÃ³pez Obrador a message: don't rock the boat.
Hastily, LÃ³pez Obrador's choice for the finance ministry -- Carlos UrzÃºa -- scolded the legislators and winked to the banks. UrzÃºa, an economist, has spent years consulting for the World Bank and other such agencies. It is hard to find an economist these days who has not put his fingers into a consultancy for either the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The economics profession has slid almost wholesale into the pocket of international agencies that are committed to a very asphyxiating version of public policy -- one that goes by the name of neoliberalism. It is a policy framework that favors multinational corporations over workers, one that seeks to control inflation rather than find ways to improve the livelihood of people. Finance is the religion, while Money is God.Read also: Trump's Plan Makes Nuclear War More Likely
LÃ³pez Obrador and UrzÃºa do not have the political power to challenge the order of things.
IMF Comes to Mexico City
Just a month before LÃ³pez Obrador takes office, the IMF sent a team to Mexico. This team came to do a study based on the IMF charter's Article IV. Its report set limits on what LÃ³pez Obrador's government can do. There is the usual verbal concern expressed for inequality and poverty, but this is just window-dressing. Nothing in the IMF staff statement indicated a policy that would tackle Mexico's grave problems of poverty and inequality.
What the report details instead is a caution that LÃ³pez Obrador must not try to invest funds in infrastructure that benefits the Mexican people -- investment, for instance, in the sclerotic oil industry (Pemex). Mexico, an oil exporting state, imports oil because it has limited refining capacity. LÃ³pez Obrador has said he wants Mexico to properly develop the state-run oil firm Pemex. But the IMF staff statement says that "further improvements of Pemex's financial situation are a prerequisite before new investments in refining can be contemplated." LÃ³pez Obrador will be forced to make drastic cuts in Pemex and to continue to drain the exchequer to import oil. No structural change is going to be possible here without a negative IMF report, which would further encourage an investment strike into Mexico.
Someone should encourage the IMF to stop sending staff teams into countries like Mexico. Each report is identical to the previous one. Nothing seems to be learned by these teams. Years ago, a senior IMF economist told me that when he arrived in a Central Asian country he knew nothing of that country, he got to see nothing of it when he was there and he knew virtually nothing when he drafted the Article IV review. All he did in the country was sit in one air-conditioned room after another, listen to canned reports from nervous finance ministry officials and then develop the report based on the IMF's same old recipe -- make cuts, target welfare, privatize and make sure that the banks are happy.Read also: Brexit: Here's how top economists are reacting to Britain's shocking vote
Latitude for creative policy making is simply not available. The IMF comes to town to tell new governments to behave. LÃ³pez Obrador and his cabinet will have to listen. Any deviation from the IMF recipe will make investors flee and foreign investment dry up. It is so easy these days to suffocate a country.
IMF Comes to Buenos Aires
For the past two decades, the IMF had found it difficult to dictate terms in Latin America. From 2002 to 2007, left-leaning governments governed most of the region, where economic activity was helped along by high commodity prices (including oil prices) and high remittance payments.
Even Mexico's conservative President Felipe CalderÃ³n (2006-2012) had to lean into the prevailing winds of Bolivarianism. In 2011, at the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, CalderÃ³n championed integration of Latin America -- something that is least to be expected from a Mexican head of government, because Mexico is firmly integrated into the United States.
The world financial crisis from 2007 hit Latin America hard. CalderÃ³n went to Davos the next year and said that Latin America would be insulated from the crisis. Far from it, Mexico had already begun to suffer job loss as the economy of its main trade partner -- the United States -- contracted. An IMF study found that Latin America lost 40 percent of its wealth in 2008. Public finances contracted, and public investments declined. Inflation led to higher poverty rates and to social instability.
A quick summary: Why did Latin America's economies suffer a crisis after 2007? It was not because of the left-leaning governments and their policies. It was because of the over-leveraged financial system, only one of whose asset bubbles -- U.S. housing prices -- collapsed. Deep integration into and reliance upon the U.S.-dominated financial system, and poor diversification of their economies from the U.S. market, meant that as the U.S. banks contracted, Latin America felt the pain. Over 80 percent of Argentina's private debt was in dollars in 2002, while only a quarter of Argentina's economy was geared toward exports. This was the fuel that was fated to burst into flame. It is this dollar reliance that could not be corrected.Read also: BRICS: Superpowers in Traditional Medicine
The exported economic problem had a political impact. It weakened the left-leaning governments, even as these governments tried to ameliorate the crisis. Many of these governments -- from Argentina to Brazil -- lost elections, while social turmoil struck others -- from Venezuela to Nicaragua. It is in this context that the International Monetary Fund returned to Latin America with a vengeance.
After two decades of relative absence, the IMF has now returned to Argentina (on which please see this dossier from Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research). Its Article IV staff statement from December last year pointed to the problems of high borrowing in foreign currency, a problem that was recognized in 2001-2002. But the power of international finance -- centered at Wall Street and the City of London -- prevented any easy pivot out of this problem. It was easier to demand cuts from the already meager incomes of ordinary people.
In 1994, Mexico suffered from what became known as the "tequila crisis," as the peso collapsed when international capital fled the country. The government would not place capital controls to protect the peso against currency speculators. The "tequila effect" then spread to South America. No one was prepared to stand up to the dollar and the speculators. From the forests of Chiapas, Subcomandante Marcos of the Zapatistas spoke out in favor of the pockets of the forgotten, the people who did not cause the crisis but who would bear the cost of these financial shenanigans. Once more, with help from the IMF, the pockets of the forgotten from Argentina to Mexico will suffer so that finance is left intact.
This article was produced by Globetrotter , a project of the Independent Media Institute.
Published at https://www.alternet.org/2018/11/international-monetary-fund-flexes-its-muscles-latin-america/
Jan 21, 2019 | www.unz.com
Robert Snefjella , says: January 18, 2019 at 4:57 pm GMTThe MSM and its allies in the controlled alternative media, and the global private-interest financial, investment and banking system, are a tag-team, indispensable to each other. Control of money and control of information. The first narrowly concentrates wealth and thus power and influence. The second through agenda-driven selection, lies, censorship, spin, misdirection and so on – disinformation – controls people's sense of what is real and possible, thus dis-empowering them.
The American military and CIA have provided most of the overt and covert 'muscle' for that control system.
The combined effort of narrowly controlled and narrowly advantaging globe straddling finance, media, and muscle has facilitated the development of a near global Empire. In common with traditional Empires this new Empire had totalitarian ambitions: but since its reach was global, this is really a first attempt at global totalitarian control.
Russia under Putin – leaving aside China – has developed enough strength to attempt alternative modes of communication and finance and development, not as adjuncts or subordinates to the Empire's efforts in those regards. And their military is antidote and opposition to the totalitarian project.
The forgoing is pretty obvious stuff, but I think that the Saker's concluding paragraph provides a limiting summary of how the issue can play out.
"But fundamentally the Russian people need to decide. Do they really want to live in a
western-style capitalist society (with all the russophobic politics and the adoption
of the terminally degenerate "culture" such a choice implies), or do they want a
"social society" (to use Putin's own words) – meaning a society in which social and economic
justice and the good of the country are placed above corporate and personal profits.
You could say that this is a battle of greed vs ethics."
This is a simplistic way of looking at the choices available. We are all caught up in transitional culture processes, no matter where we live. The conjunction of the cornucopia of new technology and unprecedented environmental and social challenges is everywhere at play, leading who knows where?
What the Russian people have been given, and this is near singular on Earth, is a protected and enhanced opportunity of developing a culture in which honest national discourse is a predominant feature. This is in complete contrast to the predominant 'fake news' system of discourse control that is in place in so many countries. And full and honest discourse will create its own original cultural developments.
The Russian adoption of more honest discourse is already having global influence. An example is Russia Today, which far from perfect and all that, still provides an enormous advance over the extremely controlled western mass media, and a powerful foe to 'fake news'.
Perhaps the most visible exemplar of rationale discourse has been Putin himself, with for example his marathon annual Q and A with the Russian people, or his articulate well considered sallies on many issues
And with that – if Russia can use unfettered reason writ large as a prime ingredient of cultural and political development, as a basic developmental 'steering tool' – then the simple dichotomy of "western-style capitalist society" vs "a society in which social and economic justice and the good of the country are placed above corporate and personal profits" , as much as I'm sympathetic to the latter, seems to me to be a limiting way of expressing the range of potential beneficent possibilities.
Jan 21, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.orgADKC , Jan 21, 2019 2:57:44 PM | link< large U.S. surges.>
The Soviet war in Afghanistan lasted nine years. But it was largely successful in building a stable government and the Soviets left a mostly competent Afghan military behind. Three years later Russia ended its financial support for the Afghan government. Only that gave the guerrilla the chance to destroy the state.
After 18 years in Afghanistan the U.S. military seems still unable to create and train competent local forces.
The $8 billion spent on the Afghan airforce have resulted in a mostly incapable force that depends on U.S. contractors to keep its birds flying. This was the result of unreasonable decisions:Aviation experts have criticized a decision to phase out the old workhorses of the Afghan forces -- Russian-made Mi-17 helicopters -- for American-made UH-60 Black Hawks.
Mr. Michel, the retired general, said the Mi-17 was "the perfect helicopter" for Afghanistan because it can carry more troops and supplies than the Black Hawk and is less complicated to fly.
"Let's be candid," he said of the switch. "That was largely done for political reasons."
The U.S. military built an Afghan force in its own image:American trainers have built an Afghan Army that relies heavily on air power that the air force might not be able to provide for years, said John F. Sopko, the special inspector general for Afghan reconstruction.
Why the U.S. military, which since Vietnam proved inept at fighting local guerrilla, believed that its ways of fighting suits an Afghan force is inexplicable. If the Taliban manage to win without an airforce why should the Afghan military need one?
The only 'effective' Afghan units are the CIA controlled brigades which are known for the very worst atrocities on the civilian population:As Mr. Khan was driven away for questioning, he watched his home go up in flames. Within were the bodies of two of his brothers and of his sister-in-law Khanzari, who was shot three times in the head. Villagers who rushed to the home found the burned body of her 3-year-old daughter, Marina, in a corner of a torched bedroom.
The men who raided the family's home that March night, in the district of Nader Shah Kot, were members of an Afghan strike force trained and overseen by the Central Intelligence Agency in a parallel mission to the United States military's, but with looser rules of engagement.
... ... ...that the two most effective and ruthless forces, in Khost and Nangarhar Provinces, are still sponsored mainly by the C.I.A.
This conflict between militarized CIA proxy forces and forces trained by the U.S. military played out in every recent war the U.S. waged. In Iraq CIA sponsored Shia units clashed with Pentagon sponsored Sunni militia. In Syria this CIA trained 'rebels' ended up shooting at U.S. military trained 'rebels' and vice versa. In Afghanistan the rogue force under CIA control is some 3.000 to 10,000 strong. It large alienates the same population the Afghan military tries to protect.
Unity of command is an important condition for successful military campaigns. As the military works in one direction while the CIA pulls in another one, the campaign in Afghanistan continues to fail.
A similar split can be seen in Afghanistan's political field. The CIA is notorious for bribing Afghan politicians, while the military launches anti-corruption campaigns. The political system installed by such competing forces is unsustainable.
The last Afghan election with the top candidates being the Pashto Ashraf Ghani and the Tajik Abdullah Abdullah, was marred in irregularities. The uncertain outcome led the U.S. to fudge the results by making Ghani president and Abudullah his 'chief executive'. Both are now again competing against each other in the elections that are to be held later this year. They will be as irregular as all elections in Afghanistan are. The disputed outcome might well lead to new clashes between ethnic groups.
This upcoming conflict will further weaken the Afghan state. Why hasn't anything be done to prevent it?
While appearing weak, incompetent and clueless the US implements chaos exactly as intended. It works in Congo, it works in Libya, it works in South America and it works in Afghanistan. Chaos is very profitable for extracting resources and supplying and controlling the world narcotic business.
Eugene , Jan 21, 2019 3:00:07 PM | linkuncle tungsten , Jan 21, 2019 3:02:50 PM | linkThe USA goal is an incompetent state, a permanent war and the destruction of any stable Afghan government that could make relations with neighboring states. Permanent conflict prevents unity and transnational trade through the region. Same goes for the Baluchistan rebels in the south.
Isolate Iran is all and no strategic care or thinking about anything else.
The USA will fight until the last Afghani civilian is killed.
Jan 11, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
The argument largely seems to hold for the original poster boy example in Chile with the Pinochet coup against the socialist Allende regime. A military coup replaced a democratically government. Whiole Chlle was experiencing a serious inflation, it was not in a full-blown economic collapse. The coup was supported by US leaders Nixon and Kissinger, who saw themselves preventing the emergence of pro-Soviet regime resembling Castro's Cuba. Thousands were killed, and a sweeping set of laisssez faire policies were imposed with the active participation of "Chicago Boys" associated with Milton Friedman. In fact, aside from bringing down inflation these rreforms did not initially improve economic performance, even as foreign capital flowed in, especially into the copper industry, although the core of that industry remained nationalized. After several years the Chicago Boys were sent away and more moderate policies, including a reimposition of controls on foreign capital flows, the economy did grow quite rapidly. But this left a deeply unequal income distribution in place, which would largely remain the case even after Pinochet was removed from power and parliamentary democracy returned.
This scenario was argued to happen in many other narions, especially those in the former Sovit bloc as the soviet Union disintegrated and its successor states and the former members of the Soviet bloc in the CMEA and Warsaw Pact also moved to some sort of market capitalism imposed from outside with policies funded by the IMF and following the Washington Consensus. Although he has since expressed regret for this role in this, a key player linking what was done in several Latin American nations and what went down after 1989 in Eastern and Central Europe was Jeffrey Sachs. Klein's discussion especially of what went down in Russia also looks pretty sound by and large, wtthout dragging through the details, although in these cases the political shift was from dictatorships run by Communist parties dominated out of Moscow to at least somewhat more democratic governments, although not in all of the former Soviet republics such as in Central Asia and with many of these later backsliding towards more authoritarian governments later. In Russia and in many oothers large numbers of people were thrown into poverty from which they have not recovered. Klein has also extended this argument to other nations, including South Africa after the end of apartheid.
The level of the naivety of Barkley Rosser is astounding.
Poland was a political project, the showcase for the neoliberal project in Eastern Europe and the USSR. EU was pressed to provide large subsidies, and that marionette complied. The commenter ilpalazzo (above) is right that there has been " a tremendous development in real estate and infrastructure mostly funded by the EU that has been a serious engine of growth." Like in Baltics and Ukraine, German, French, Swedish and other Western buyers were most interested in opening market for their products and getting rid of local and xUSSR competitors (and this supported and promoted Russophobia). With very few exceptions. University education system also was partially destroyed, but still fared better than most manufacturing industries.
I remember talking to one of the Polish professors of economics when I was in Poland around 1992. He said that no matter how things will develop, the Polish economy will never be allowed to fail as the USA is interested in propelling it at all costs. That means that there was no CIA activity to undermine the financial system, deindustrialize the country, and possibly to partition the county like it was in Russia with Harvard mafia (Summers, Shleifer, etc.)
Still, they lost quite a bit of manufacturing: for example all shipbuilding, which is ironic as Lech Wałęsa and Solidarity emerged in this industry.
Eventually, Poland emerged as the major US agent of influence within the EU (along with GB) with the adamant anti-Russian stance. Which taking into account the real state of Polish manufacturing deprived of the major market is very questionable. Later by joining sanctions, they lost Russian agricultural market (including all apple market in which they have a prominent position).
But they have a large gas pipeline on their territory, so I suspect that like Ukraine they make a lot of money via transit fees simply due to geographic. So they parochially live off rent -- that why they bark so much at North Stream 2.
Polish elite is a real horror show, almost beyond redemption, and not only in economics. I do not remember, but I think it was Churchill who said " Poland is a greedy hyena of Europe." This is as true now as it was before WWII.
Now they are propelled by cheap labor from Ukraine, which they helped to destroy (along with Sweden and Germany)
ilpalazzo , , January 10, 2019 at 3:04 pm
My post seem to have vanished into oblivion so I'm pasting from the clipboard.
I am a Pole and have been a daily reader here since 2008. I hope a better versed compatriot will come out of the closet and give a better picture (I know there are a few).
Let's just say the shock was pretty bad. In terms of amount of human suffering the worst was dissolving state owned farms. Hundreds of thousands of people were just let go without any help, although many farms were profitable and others could be restructured or converted into collectives etc. I live in a small town where there was a huge state farm and I can see former employees started to recover and get by just recently judging by the looks of their dwellings.
Most of the manufacturing and heavy industry was sold off and extinguished. We used to have pretty decent capital producing capabilities like tooling etc. Not a trace of that now. There is a lot being manufactured now here but mostly simple components for german industry to assemble.
Pension system was thoroughly looted by you know who and is a ticking time bomb. Most of it was quasi privatized – that is managed by western companies but still part of the state system. There were supposed to be individual saving accounts managed by sophisticated investment specialists but the money ended up invested in state bonds, issued to subsidize it. Managing fee 7 – 10 percent charge on every payment into the system, regardless of performance, anyone? It was a heist of the century.
The ticking time bomb is because a large part of young people working now are working on non – permanent contracts that don't pay benefits. These people won't have any pension at all and there are a lot of them.
Healthcare is single payer fund but heavily underfunded. Private practice and hospitals are allowed and skim most profitable procedures leaving the rest to public fund. There are unrealistic limits on number of procedures so if you need to see a specialist in July or later prepare to pay cash or wait till January.
Municipal service companies, at least the most lucrative ones have ben sold off to foreign investment funds. A few of our cities' municipal companies, like central heating or energy have been sold off to german municipal companies (!). State telecom has been sold off to french state telecom (and one of the biggest and most famous fortunes made).
Local printed press is 90% german corps owned.
This is a map of state rail company railways in 1988 and 2009 . It has been a meme here for some time. It is true. Cancelled lines are the subsidized ones workers relied on to get to job. I closely know a thousand years old town that had rail built in 1860 by germans and liquidated right in 1990. The populace is now halved, all young emigrated, businesses dead. There have been a huge investment in freeways and other kind of roads so every one has to own a car to get to her job. Most cars are used 10+ year old german imports. Polish car mechanic and body shops are the best in the world specialists of german automotive produce.
I live in a small contry town that was a home to a wealthy aristocrat. There is a beautiful baroque palace and huge park, the complex is literally a third part of town. After the war it was nationalized, there were sporting facilities built in the park for locals and school pupils to use. The palace was re-purposed as medical facility and office complex for state farm management. In the nineties the whole thing was given back to aristocrat descendants – a shady bunch hiding in Argentina AFAIR. They couldn't afford to keep it so they sold it to a nouveau – riche real estate developer. He fenced the whole thing off and refurbished into a sort of conference complex – it is underway and still not clear what's gonna happen with it. The effect is that a third of my town that used to be public space is fenced off and off limits now.
To conclude, there has been a tremendous development in real estate and infrastructure mostly funded by the EU that has been a serious engine of growth. Lot of people got mortgage and financed homes or flats and there has been a whole industry created around it. A few crown jewel companies (copper mining, petroleum and other chemistry) are state owned. But most of the sophisticated furnishings used in real estate are german made (there is german made nat gas furnace in 95% of newly built homes) etc. Two million young people emigrated to work mostly to UK and Ireland. I'd lived in Dublin for a year in 2003 and there were Chinese people as salespersons in groceries and seven – elevens everywhere, now there are Poles instead.
Recommended reading about the transformation years dealing is this book:
The author is Kalecki's pupil.
Darthbobber , , January 10, 2019 at 5:21 pm
Thanks for this. Gowan's book, Global Gamble, is also good on the details of shock therapy in the former Warsaw Pact nations. One key problem was that shock therapy partly rested on he assumption that western European buyers would want to invest in modernizing plant and equipment in industries they acquired, but it quickly turned out that the German and other western buyers were really interested only in acquiring new MARKETS for their own products.
And in agriculture, they both insisted on the elimination of subsidies within the eastern nations, and proceeded to use the area as a dumping ground for their own (often subsidized) agricultural surpluses.
JTMcPhee , , January 10, 2019 at 6:51 pm
All this gets back, in my minuscule view, to failure to have a decent answer to one little question:
What kind of political economy do "we, the mopes" want to live within?
And related to that, what steps can and must "we, the mopes" take to get to that hopefully wiser, more decent, more homeostatic and sustainable, political economy?
And it likely doesn't matter for us old folks (obligatory blast at Boomers as cause of all problems and distresses, dismissing the roots and branches of "civilization," current patterns of consumption, and millennia of Progress), given what is "baked in" and the current distribution of weatlhandpower. But maybe "we, the mopes" can at least go down fighting. Gilets Jaunes, 150 million Indians, all that
But without an answer to the first question, though, not much chance of "better," is there? Except maybe locally, for the tiny set of us mopes who know how to do community and commensalism and some other "C" words
"We, the mopes" could make some important and effective changes. Enough of us, and soon enough, to avoid or mitigate the Jackpot?
Unna , , January 10, 2019 at 4:09 pm
Thanks very much for this. Very graphic. So, if you would, could you explain who the Law and Justice Party is, and why they won the election, and what exactly are they doing to make themselves popular? Are they in fact enacting certain social programs that we can read about or are they primarily relying on something else, like mainly Catholic traditionalism, for their political power?
disc_writes , , January 10, 2019 at 4:33 pm
I remember a couple of paragraphs about Poland in my Economics 101 course, some 20 years ago. Was it in in Mankiw's book? or Lipsey-Chrystal? I do not remember anymore. One of those vicious neoliberal propaganda mouthpieces, anyway. The textbook pitched Poland's success story against Russia's abject failure, claiming that the former had dismantled and shut down all its inefficient state-run companies, while the latter still kept its unprofitable heavy industry on life support.
It is unsurprising to read that Poland followed a more nuanced approach. Somehow neoclassical economists always distort history into a cartoonish parody that confirms their models.
That was in the early 2000s. The university was then brand new and was still filling the shelves of the library. If you looked carefully, you could still find older books, barely touched, that touted Albania as a neoliberal success story along the same lines as Poland. Albania almost collapsed in civil war in 1998.
todde , , January 10, 2019 at 5:08 pm
Yellow Vests knock out 60% of traffic cameras
smart move. Or at least I would say so.
Darthbobber , , January 10, 2019 at 5:08 pm
Klein at least provided footnotes, and sources for her claims. Which are conspicuously absent from this piece.
The World Bank, (World Development Indicators, 2006), one of Klein's sources, has a nationwide poverty rate only for 1993, and has it at 23% at that point, or between 2.3 times and more than 4 time the most common estimate he cites under the ancient regime.
The same source has unemployment averaging 19.9% in 1990-92, and 19% in 2000-2004.
As to the later poverty rate, Klein's source is Przemyslaw Wielgosz, then editor of the Polish edition of le Monde Diplomatique, who gives this: " Poles living below the 'social minimum' (defined as a living standard of £130 (192,4 EUR) per person and £297 (440,4 EUR) for a three person family per month) affecting 15% of the population in 1989 to 47% in 1996, and 59% in 2003." but whence he obtains these figures he does not say. Given that it falls in a period when unemployment was pushing 20% for a prolonged period, and that both the EU's subsidies and outmigration to the EU as an escape valve only start to kick in in 2003, the figure seems not wildly implausible.
The author's criticism doesn't really address Klein's central points at all, which would be that the crisis was used as leverage to ram through otherwise politically unpalatable change, and that a great deal of the constraint forcing that was provided by actors both undemocratic and external. He seems to be of the school that regards such niceties as beside the point, as long as various macroaggregates eventually rose.
The contrast between what was done, and what Solidarnosc had claimed to be all about when in opposition is incredibly striking, basically the difference between libertarian Communism and uber Dirigisme style capitalism.
Darthbobber , January 10, 2019 at 10:27 am
Any discussion of the Polish economy that completely ignores this massive level of economic outmigration, and it's continued rise among the young, misses a great deal. In a vibrant economy, it seems unlikely that so many educated Poles would find, for example, lower tier jobs in Britain to be their best path forward.
Yes, your unemployment and poverty rates are lower if a significant fraction of the population works elsewhere in the EU, and reatriates the money. Though the pattern may cause a few other problems. (while many nations like to export their unemployment, not everybody wants to import it.)
upstater , January 10, 2019 at 11:28 am
You beat me to the punch
Out-migration is a huge factor in eastern and central Europe and without it, the picture would look entirely different. The Baltics, Bulgaria and Romania are even more affected.
vlade , January 10, 2019 at 2:01 pm
The migration from Poland does not have only economic reasons. A lot of Poles migrate because they find the polish society (especially small towns and rural) very stiffling.
A friend of mine left Poland the moment she got her MSc – literally, the same day she was on a bus to Germany. She's now a sucessfull woman, director level at a large consultancy. Yet her father calls her "old spinster" (this is the polite version), as she wasn't maried by 30, and she basically avoids going to Poland.
She says she could never be as sucessfull in Poland, being a woman, and not being keen on marrying. I've heard similar stories from young Poles, not just women.
Inter-war Poland is celebrated a lot in Poland these days, conveniently ignoring the facts it was really a totalitarian state – when Czechoslovakia was Muniched in 1938, Poles (and Hugarians) were quick to grab bits of territory right after that.
Kasia, January 10, 2019 at 5:17 pm
Poland has taken around a million Ukrainians over the past ten years so while many Poles are emigrating to Europe, they are being replaced by Ukrainians, who are ethnically and linguistically fairly similar to Poles.
So Poland is proof that nationalist, populist policies can indeed work. Poland has had to taken rough measures with our judicial system and media to ensure globalist forces do not undermine our successes. No one, I mean no one, in Poland mouths the words, "diversity is our strength". Internationalist, liberal minded people who are so susceptible to globalist propaganda, are generally the ones leaving the nation. Indigenous Western Europeans who are suffering the joys of cultural enrichment and vibrant diversity are starting to buy property in Eastern Europe - more Hungary than Poland - but as the globalists push even more multiculturalism and continue to impoverish indigenous Europeans, Eastern Europe will become a shining beacon on the hill free of many of the evils of globalisation.
Jan 04, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com
anne , January 02, 2019 at 07:05 AMhttps://twitter.com/ggreenwald/status/1080434469167906816
Glenn Greenwald @ggreenwald
There's only one thing necessary to maintain the respect and affection of DC's ruling political and media class: affirm standard precepts of US imperialism & militarism. You can work for Trump, or cheer menacing authoritarians, and you'll still be revered as long as you do that:
Nikki Haley @NikkiHaley
Congratulations to Brazil's new President Bolsonaro. It's great to have another U.S.-friendly leader in South America, who will join the fight against dictatorships in Venezuela and Cuba, and who clearly understands the danger of China's expanding influence in the region.
4:03 AM - 2 Jan 2019
Dec 14, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.comBy Bill Black, the author of The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One, an associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and co-founder of Bank Whistleblowers United. Jointly published with New Economic Perspectives
The Wall Street Journal published an article on December 12, 2018 that should warn us of coming disaster: "Banks Get Kinder, Gentler Treatment Under Trump." The last time a regulatory head lamented that regulators were not "kinder and gentler" promptly ushered in the Enron-era fraud epidemic. President Bush made Harvey Pitt his Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chair in August 2001 and, in one of his early major addresses, he spoke on October 22, 2001 to a group of accounting leaders.
Pitt, as a private counsel, represented all the top tier audit firms, and they had successfully pushed Bush to appoint him to run the SEC. The second sentence of Pitt's speech bemoaned the fact that the SEC had not been "a kinder and gentler place for accountants." He concluded his first paragraph with the statement that the SEC and the auditors needed to work "in partnership." He soon reiterated that point: "We view the accounting profession as our partner" and amped it up by calling accountants the SEC's "critical partner."
Pitt expanded on that point: "I am committed to the principle that government is and must be a service industry." That, of course, would not be controversial if he meant a service agency (not "industry") for the public. Pitt, however, meant that the SEC should be a "service industry" for the auditors and corporations.
Pitt then turned to pronouncing the SEC to be the guilty party in the "partnership." He claimed that the SEC had terrorized accountants. He then stated that he had ordered the SEC to end this fictional terror campaign.
[A]ccountants became afraid to talk to the SEC, and the SEC appeared to be unwilling to listen to the profession. Those days are ended.
This prompted Pitt to ratchet even higher his "partnership" language.
I speak for the entire Commission when I say that we want to have a continuing dialogue, and partnership, with the accounting profession,
Recall that Pitt spoke on October 22, 2001. Here are the relevant excerpts from the NY Times' Enron timeline :
Oct. 16 – Enron announces $638 million in third-quarter losses and a $1.2 billion reduction in shareholder equity stemming from writeoffs related to failed broadband and water trading ventures as well as unwinding of so-called Raptors, or fragile entities backed by falling Enron stock created to hedge inflated asset values and keep hundreds of millions of dollars in debt off the energy company's books.
Oct. 19 – Securities and Exchange Commission launches inquiry into Enron finances.
Oct. 22 – Enron acknowledges SEC inquiry into a possible conflict of interest related to the company's dealings with Fastow's partnerships.
Oct. 23 – Lay professes confidence in Fastow to analysts.
Oct. 24 – Fastow ousted.
The key fact is that even as Enron was obviously spiraling toward imminent collapse (it filed for bankruptcy on December 2) – and the SEC knew it – Pitt offered no warning in his speech. The auditors and the corporate CEOs and CFOs were not the SEC's 'partners.' Thousands of CEOs and CFOs were filing false financial statements – with 'clean' opinions from the then 'Big 5' auditors. Pitt was blind to the 'accounting control fraud' epidemic that was raging at the time he spoke to the accountants. Thousands of his putative auditor 'partners' were getting rich by blessing fraudulent financial statements and harming the investors that the SEC is actually supposed to serve.
Tom Frank aptly characterized the Bush appointees that completed the destruction of effective financial regulation as "The Wrecking Crew." It is important, however, to understand that Bush largely adopted and intensified Clinton's war against effective regulation. Clinton and Bush led the unremitting bipartisan assault on regulation for 16 years. That produced the criminogenic environment that produced the three largest financial fraud epidemics in history that hyper-inflated the real estate bubble and drove the Great Financial Crisis (GFC). President Trump has renewed the Clinton/Bush war on regulation and he has appointed banking regulatory leaders that have consciously modeled their assault on regulation on Bush and Clinton's 'Wrecking Crews.'
Bill Clinton's euphemism for his war on effective regulation was "Reinventing Government." Clinton appointed VP Al Gore to lead the assault. (Clinton and Gore are "New Democrat" leaders – the Wall Street wing of the Democratic Party.) Gore decided he needed to choose an anti-regulator to conduct the day-to-day leadership. We know from Bob Stone's memoir the sole substantive advice he gave Gore in their first meeting that caused Gore to appoint him as that leader. "Do not 'waste one second going after waste, fraud, and abuse.'" Elite insider fraud is, historically, the leading cause of bank losses and failures, so Stone's advice was sure to lead to devastating financial crises. It is telling that it was the fact that Stone gave obviously idiotic advice to Gore that led him to select Stone as the field commander of Clinton and Gore's war on effective regulation.
Stone convinced the Clinton-Gore administration to embrace the defining element of crony capitalism as its signature mantra for its war on effective regulation. Stone and his troops ordered us to refer to the banks, not the American people, as our "customers." Peters' foreword to Stone's book admits the action, but is clueless about the impact.
Bob Stone's insistence on using the word "customer" was mocked by some -- but made an enormous difference over the course of time. In general, he changed the vocabulary of public service from 'procedure first' to 'service first.'"
That is a lie. We did not 'mock' the demand that we treat the banks rather than the American people as our "customer" – we openly protested the outrageous order that we embrace and encourage crony capitalism. Crony capitalism's core principle – which is unprincipled – is that the government should treat elite CEOs as their 'customers' or 'partners.' A number of us publicly expressed our rage at the corrupt order to treat CEOs as our customers. The corrupt order caused me to leave the government.
Our purpose as regulators is to serve the people of the United States – not bank CEOs. It was disgusting and dishonest for Peters to claim that our objection to crony capitalism represented our (fictional) disdain for serving the public. Many S&L regulators risked their careers by taking on elite S&L frauds and their powerful political fixers. Many of us paid a heavy personal price because we acted to protect the public from these elite frauds. Our efforts prevented the S&L debacle from causing a GFC – precisely because we recognized the critical need to spend most of our time preventing and prosecuting the elite frauds that Stone wanted us to ignore..
Trump's wrecking crew is devoted to recreating Clinton and Bush's disastrous crony capitalism war on regulation that produced the GFC. In a June 8, 2018 article , the Wall Street Journal mocked Trump's appointment of Joseph Otting as Comptroller of the Currency (OCC). The illustration that introduces the article bears the motto: "IN BANKS WE TRUST."
Otting, channeling his inner Pitt, declared his employees guilty of systematic misconduct and embraced crony capitalism through Pitt's favorite phrase – "partnership."
I think it is more of a partnership with the banks as opposed to a dictatorial perspective under the prior administration.
Otting, while he was in the industry, compared the OCC under President Obama to a fictional interstellar terrorist. Obama appointed federal banking regulators that were pale imitation of Ed Gray, Joe Selby, and Mike Patriarca – the leaders of the S&L reregulation. The idea that Obama's banking regulators were akin to 'terrorists' is farcical.
The WSJ's December 12, 2018 article reported that Otting had also used Bob Stone's favorite term to embrace crony capitalism.
Comptroller of the Currency Joseph Otting has also changed the tone from the top at his agency, calling banks his "customers."
There are many terrible role models Trump could copy as his model of how to destroy banking regulation and produce the next GFC, but Otting descended into unintentional self-parody when he channeled word-for-word the most incompetent and dishonest members of Clinton and Bush's wrecking crews.
The same article reported a trade association's statement that demonstrates the type of outrageous reaction that crony capitalism inevitably breeds within industry.
Banks are suffering from "examiner criticisms that do not deal with any violation of law," said Greg Baer, CEO of the Bank Policy Institute ."
The article presented no response to this statement so I will explain why it is absurd. First, "banks" do not "suffer" from "examiner criticism." Banks gain from examiner criticism. Effective regulators (and whistleblowers) are the only people who routinely 'speak truth to power.' Auditors, credit rating agencies, and attorneys routinely 'bless' the worst CEO abuses that harm banks while enriching the CEO. The bank CEO cannot fire the examiner, so the examiners' expert advice is the only truly "independent" advice the bank's board of directors receives. That makes the examiners' criticisms invaluable to the bank. CEOs hate our advice because we are the only 'control' (other than the episodic whistleblower) that is willing and competent to criticize the CEO.
The idea that examiners should not criticize any bank misconduct, predation, or 'unsafe and unsound practice' that does not constitute a felony is obviously insane. While "violations of law" (felonies) are obviously of importance to us in almost all cases, our greatest expertise is in identifying – and stopping – "unsafe and unsound practices" because such practices, like fraud, are leading causes of bank losses and failures.
Third, repeated "unsafe and unsound practices" are a leading indicator of likely elite insider bank fraud and other "violations of law."
The trade association complaint that examiners dare to criticize non-felonious bank conduct – and the WSJ reporters' failure to point out the absurdity of that complaint – demonstrate that the banking industry's goal remains the destruction of effective banking regulation. Trump's wrecking crew is using the Clinton and Bush playbook to restore fully crony capitalism. He has greatly accelerated the onset of the next GFC.
Chauncey Gardiner , December 14, 2018 at 2:01 pm
Thank you for this, Bill Black. IMO the long-term de-regulatory policies under successive administrations cited here, together with their neutering the rule of law by overturning the Glass-Steagall Act; de-funding and failing to enforce antitrust, fraud and securities laws; financial repression of the majority; hidden financial markets subsidies; and other policies are just part of an organized, long-term systemic effort to enable, organize and subsidize massive control and securities fraud; theft of and disinvestment in publicly owned resources and services; environmental damage; and transfers of social costs that enable the organizers to in turn gain a hugely disproportionate share of the nation's wealth and nearly absolute political control under their "Citizens United" political framework.
Not to diminish, but among other things the current president provides nearly daily entertainment, diversion and spectacle in our Brave New World that serves to obfuscate what has occurred and is happening.
RBHoughton , December 14, 2018 at 9:41 pm
I'm with you Chauncey. I believe the rot really got started with creative accounting in early 1970s. That's when accountants of every flavor lost themselves and were soon followed by the lawyers. Sauce for the goose.
Banks and Insurers and many industrial concerns have become too big. We could avoid all the regulatory problems by placing a maximum size on commercial endeavour.
chuck roast , December 14, 2018 at 4:28 pm
A number of years ago I did both the primary capital program and environmental (NEPA) review for major capital projects in a Federal Region. Hundreds of millions of dollars were at stake. A local agency wanted us (the Feds) to approve pushing up many of their projects using a so-called Public Private Partnership (PPP). This required the local agency to borrow many millions from Wall Street while at the same time privatizing many of their here-to-fore public operations. And of course there was an added benefit of instituting a non-union shop.
To this end I was required to sit down with the local agency head (he actually wore white shoes), his staff and several representatives of Goldman-Sachs. After the meeting ended, I opined to the agency staff that Goldman-Sachs was "bullshit" and so were their projects.
Shortly thereafter I was removed to a less high-profile Region with projects that were not all that griftable, and there was no danger of me having to review a PPP.
Oh, and I denied, denied, denied saying "bullshit."
flora , December 14, 2018 at 10:08 pm
Thank you, NC, for featuring these posts by Bill Black.
I have more than a passing acquaintance with banking, banking regulation, and banking's rectitude (such an old fashioned word) in the importance for Main Street's survival, and for the country's as a whole survival as a trusted pivot point in world finance , or for the survival of the whole American project. I know this sounds like an over-the-top assertion on my part, however I believe it true.
Main Street also knows the importance of sound banking. Sound banking is not a 'poker chip' to be used for games. Sound banking is key to the American experiment in self-determination, as it has been called.
Politicians who 'don't get this" have lost touch with the entire American enterprise, imo. And, no, the neoliberal promise that nation-states no longer matter doesn't make this point moot.
flora , December 14, 2018 at 10:47 pm
adding: US founding father Alexander Hambleton did understand the importance of sound banking, and so Obama et al confusing "banking" with sound banking is too ironic, imo.
Tim , December 15, 2018 at 8:29 am
It was actually worse than this. The very deliberate strategy was to indoctrinate employees of federal regulatory agencies to see the companies they regulated not as "partners" but as "customers" to be served. This theme is repeated again and again in Bush era agency reports. Elizabeth Warren was viciously attacked early in the Obama Administration for calling for a new "watchdog" agency to protect consumers. The idea that a federal agency would dedicate itself to protecting citizens first was portrayed as dangerously radical by industry.
John k , December 15, 2018 at 12:14 pm
Models on Clinton and Bush. What's not to like? Why isn't msm and dem elites showing him the love when he's following their long term policies?
And we might assume these would be hills policies if she had been pushed over the line. A little thought realizes that in spite of the pearl clutching they far prefer him to Bernie.
Dec 16, 2018 | www.wsws.org
After the Soviet-backed People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) took power in 1978, the Pentagon began arming the Islamist opposition to the PDPA. US officials, reeling from their defeat in Vietnam, devised a policy of "sucking the Soviets into a Vietnamese quagmire" in Afghanistan, as CIA official Robert Gates wrote in his 1996 memoir From the Shadows . When the Kremlin invaded Afghanistan in December 1979, in a reactionary attempt to strengthen the PDPA regime in Kabul and stabilize the PDPA's relations with the Afghan rural elites, Washington used Afghanistan as a battleground to bleed the Soviet army.
One of the CIA's main allies in carrying out this policy, recruiting tens of thousands of Islamist fighters worldwide to go and fight the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, was a young Saudi billionaire, Osama bin Laden, the future leader of Al Qaeda. Hensman endorses the US policy in Afghanistan, while remaining silent on the CIA-Al Qaeda alliance, and presents it as part of a liberation struggle against Soviet imperialism.
She writes, "A PDPA coup in 1978 faced tribal revolts that developed into a full-scale uprising by December 1979, when the Russians invaded and occupied Afghanistan. The military campaign that followed resembled the US campaign in Vietnam in its brutality to civilians The war had reached a stalemate in the mid-1980s when Reagan, who was already supporting the mujahideen, agreed to supply them with Stinger anti-aircraft missiles. These weapons turned the tide against the Russians..."
Hensman's defense of the US role in the Soviet-Afghan war, and her silence on CIA-backed Islamist terror networks, are reactionary. She hides the bloody character of the CIA-backed Islamist proxy wars, both in 1979–1992 in Afghanistan and in 1979–1982 in Syria. It is the descendants of these same forces, who are fighting today's Syrian war, that Hensman hails as a "democratic revolution."
nurmin • a day agoAnd then there's Brzezinski, with his murderous legacy that contains a curious thread linking the Mujahideen "freedom fighters" to 9/11. As was written in the recently republished article on the Bush family fortune and the Holocaust, "the only constant is the defense of the power and privilege of the ruling oligarchy by whatever means are required."
Brzezinski acknowledged in an interview with the French news magazine Le Nouvel Observateur in January 1998 that he initiated a policy in which the CIA covertly began arming the mujahedeen in July 1978 -- six months before Soviet troops intervened in Afghanistan -- with the explicit aim of dragging the Soviet Union into a debilitating war.
Asked, given the catastrophe unleashed upon Afghanistan and the subsequent growth of Islamist terrorist groups like Al Qaeda, whether he regretted the policy he championed in Afghanistan, Brzezinski replied:
"Regret what? That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter: We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam War. Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war unsupportable by the government, a conflict that brought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire."
Asked specifically whether he regretted the CIA's collaboration with and arming of Islamist extremists, including Al Qaeda, in fomenting the war in Afghanistan, Brzezinski responded contemptuously: "What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?"
Kind of a funny aside: to find the Z-bigz quote I wanted, I put "Brzezinski on Afghanistan" into duckduckgo, and the wsws obituary was third from the top.
Dec 08, 2018 | www.unz.com
jilles dykstra , says: December 4, 2018 at 12:30 pm GMT@Bill Jones Interesting to read how these idealists agree with Christian Gerondeau, 'Le CO2 est bon pour la planete, Climat, la grande manipulation', Paris 2017
Gerondeau explains how many deaths reducing CO2 emissions will cause in poor countries, simply as an example how electricity for cooking will remain too expensive for them, so cooking is done on smoky fires in confined spaces.
" to intentionally transform the economic development model for the first time in human history." " To intentionally impoverish the world. To what end, I wonder ?
Anyone who knows anything about history is that the rich were always better off than the poor, in fact the very definition of rich and poor.
In this respect it never mattered if a society was capitalistic, communistic, or a theocracy, as Tibet was.
These idealistic idiots do not understand how they created the problem they now intend to solve with creating an even bigger problem, their example is the EU, the EU is following this policy for more than twelve years now, since 2005, when the EU grabbed power through the rejected EU 'consitution'.
Capitalism is no more than deciding between consumption and investment, Robinson Crusoë invested in a fishing net by temporarily reducing consumption, he did not go fishing, but made a fishing net, expecting that his investment would make it possible to eat more fish.
Capitalism never was benign, Chrustjow worked as a miner in a commercially exploited mine, where there was little regard for safety, he abhorred capitalism.
Dutch 17th century capitalistic commerce to the far Indies, east and west, was not benign. Typically a ship left Amsterdam, near the Schreierstoren, trans 'the tower for the crying', wives, mothers and girl friends, with 300 men aboard, and returned with 100. Most of those who died were common sailors, captain and officers had a far lower mortality, mainly better food.
Our East Indies commerce also was not much fun for the people in the East, in the Banda Sea Islands massacre some 30.000 people were killed, for a monopoly on pepper, if I remember correctly.
But, as the earth developed economically, there came room for also poor people getting lives beginning to look as worth living. Engels in 1844, hope the year is right, described the conditions of working people in GB, this resulted in Das Kapital.
This room for a better life for also the poor was not given by the capitalistic system
In their struggle for a better world for anyone the idealists wanted globalisation, level playing field, anyone should be welcome anywhere, slogans like this.
Globaliation, however, is the end of the nation state, the very institution in which it was possible to provide a better life. Anyone following me until here now can see the dilemma, the end of the nation state was also the end of protection by that state against unbridled capitalism.
As the idealists cannot give up their globalisation religion they must, as those who cannot give up the biblical creation story, find an ideological way out of their dilemma. My conclusion now is 'in order to save our globalisation religion we try to destroy economic growth, by making energy very expensive, in the hope of destroying capitalism'.
Alas, better, luckily, capitalism cannot be destroyed, those who invented the first furnaces for more or less mass producing iron, they were capitalists. They saw clearly how cheap iron would bring economic growth, the plow.
In the country where the CO2 madness has struck most, my country, the Netherlands, the realisation of the poverty that drastically reducing CO2 emissions will cause, has begun. If there really is madness, I wonder.
I indeed see madness, green leftists unable to make a simple multipiclation calculations about costs, but maybe mainly political opportunism. Our dictator, Rutte, is now so hated that he needs a job outside the Netherlands, in order to qualify, either at Brussels or in New York, with the UN, has to howl with the wolves.
At the same time, we have a gas production problem,, earthquakes in the NE, houses damaged, never any decision made to solve the problem, either stop gas production, or strenghten the houses, both expensive solutions.
So, in my suspicious ideas, Rutte now tries to improve himself, at the same time solving a problem: within, say ten years, the Netherlands functions without gas, and remains prosperous; the idea he tries to sell to us. In a few years time it will emerge that we cannot have both, prosperous, and zero emission, but the time horizon for a politician is said to be five years.
Dec 08, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org
Richard , Dec 7, 2018 2:50:07 PM | linkCame across this book which gives some excellent background to where we're at today:
There may be a pdf available if you search.
"The game motif is useful as a metaphor for the broader rivalry between nations and economic systems with the rise of imperialism and the pursuit of world power. This game has gone through two major transformations since the days of Russian-British rivalry, with the rise first of Communism and then of Islam as world forces opposing imperialism. The main themes of Postmodern Imperialism: Geopolitics and the Great Games include:
- US imperial strategy as an outgrowth of British imperialism, and its transformation following the collapse of the Soviet Union;
- the significance of the creation of Israel with respect to the imperial project;
- the repositioning of Russia in world politics after the collapse of the Soviet Union;
- the emerging role of China and Iran in Eurasia;
- the emerging opposition to the US and NATO.
This work brings these elements together in historical perspective with an understanding from the Arab/ Muslim world's point of view, as it is the main focus of all the "Great Games"."
Jay Dyer discusses the book here, its strengths and weaknesses:
Dec 03, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.comOneCommentator -> petercs , 8 Jun 2013 11:46@petercs -OneCommentator , 8 Jun 2013 10:49Wrong. Traditional liberalism supported both social and economic freedoms. That included support for most of the civil rights and freedoms we enjoy today AND free trade and free investments. It used to be that liberals were practically unpopular with right wing (traditional conservative for example) parties but more or less on the same side as left wing parties, mainly because of their social positions. More recently the left wing parties became more and more unhappy with the economic freedoms promoted by liberals while the right wing parties embraced both the economic and social freedoms to a certain degree.
..."neoliberal", concept behind the word, has nothing to do with liberal or liberty or freedom..
So, the leftists found themselves in a bind practically having reversed roles which the the conservatives as far as support for liberalism goes. So, typically, they're using propaganda to cover their current reactionary tendencies and coins a new name for liberals: neoliberals which, they say, are not the same as liberals (who are their friends since liberal means freedom lover and they like to use that word a lot).Austerity is caused by incompetent governments unable to balance their budgets. They had 60 years to do it properly after ww2 and the reconstruction that followed but many of them never did it. So now it is very simple: governments ran out of money and nobody wants to lend them more. That's it, they hit the wall and there is nothing left on the bottom if the purse.
"austerity" is the financial sectors' solution to its survival after it sucked most the value out of the economy and broke it.It is a bit more complicated than that. Developed countries like Greece are supposed to run more or less balanced budgets over longer periods. Sure, they need to borrow money on a regular basis and may that is supposed to be done by issuing bonds or other forms of government debt that investors buy on the open market. For such governments the IMF is supposed to just fill in in a minor way not to provide the bulk of all the loans needed on a temporary basis. Because of incompetent governments Greece is practically bankrupt hence it is not going to be able to pay back most of the existing debts and definitely not newer debts. So practically the IMF is not, ending money to them, it is giving them the money. So, I would say that they have a good reason to wag its finger.
The IMF exists to lend money to governments, so it's comic that it wags its finger at governments that run up debt.
Malakia123 , 8 Jun 2013 11:15LOGIC 101: Introductory Course of Studypetercs , 8 Jun 2013 10:44
If private, stockholder-held central banks such as the FED and the FED-backed ECB were not orchestrating this depression, and anybody who believed they were was a "wacko-nutcase conspiracy theorist", then why do they keep repeating the same mistakes of forcing un-payable bailout loans, collapsing banks, wiping out people's savings and then imposing austerity on those nations year after year – when it is clearly a failed policy?
Possible Answers :
1. Bank presidents are all ex-hippies who got hooked on LSD in the 70's and have not yet recovered fully as their brains are still fried!
2. Central bankers have been recruited from insane asylums in both Europe and America in government-sponsored programs to see whether blithering idiots are capable of running large, international financial institutions.
3. All catastrophic events in the banking/business world, such as the derivative and housing crash of 2008, the Stock Market Crash of 1929 and The Great Depression of 1929-40 were totally random events that just occurred out of nowhere and central banks were caught off guard – leaving them no option but to play with their willies for years on end until a major war suddenly happened to pull the whole world out of "bad times"!
4. As central banks such as the FED and the ECB operate with insatiable greed and cannot be audited or regulated by any government body anywhere in the world, due to their charters having been set up that way, then bankers are free to meet secretly and plot depressions so as to gain full control over sovereign nations and manipulate markets so that their "chums and agents" in business can buy up assets and land in depressed economies – while possible wars could also make corporations and banks more money as well!
Please choose one of the possible answers from above and write a short 500 word essay on whether it may or may not true – using well-defined logical arguments. I expect your answers in by Friday of this week as I would like to get pissed out of my mind at the pub on Saturday night!..."neoliberal", concept behind the word, has nothing to do with liberal or liberty or freedom...it is a PR spin concept that names slavery with a a word that sounds like the opposite...if "they" called it neoslavery it just wouldn't sell in the market for political concepts.
The neoliberal idea is that the cultivation itself should be conducted privately as well. They see "austerity" as a way of forcing that agenda.
..."austerity" is the financial sectors' solution to its survival after it sucked most the value out of the economy and broke it. To mend it was a case of preservation of the elite and the devil take the hindmost, that's most of us.
...and even Labour, the party of trade unionism, has adopted austerity to drive its policy.
...we need a Peoples' Party to stand for the revaluation of labour so we get paid for our effort rather than the distortion, the rich xxx poor divide, of neoslavery austerity.