Good short summary of how central banks manage interest rates within a corridor with a floor rate and a ceiling rate. Hamilton compares and contrasts ECB and Fed operations.
How the Federal Reserve controls interest rates
“We’re also going to prime the pump,” President Trump told Robert Draper of The New York Times Magazine. “You know what I mean by ‘prime the pump’? In order to get this [the economy] going, and going big league, and having the jobs coming in and the taxes that will be cut very substantially and the regulations that’ll be going, we’re going to have to prime the pump to some extent. In other words: Spend money to make a lot more money in the future. And that’ll happen.”Pulling a Nixon.
U.S. #cybersecurity firm #CrowdStrike has revised and retracted statements it used to buttress claims of #Russian #hacking during last year’s American presidential election campaign. The shift followed a VOA report that the company misrepresented data published by an influential British think tank.
In December, CrowdStrike said it found evidence that Russians hacked into a Ukrainian artillery app, contributing to heavy losses of howitzers in Ukraine’s war with pro-Russian separatists.
VOA reported Tuesday that the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), which publishes an annual reference estimating the strength of world armed forces, disavowed the CrowdStrike report and said it had never been contacted by the company.
Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense also has stated that the combat losses and hacking never happened.
CrowdStrike was first to link hacks of Democratic Party computers to Russian actors last year, but some cybersecurity experts have questioned its evidence. The company has come under fire from some Republicans who say charges of Kremlin meddling in the election are overblown.
After CrowdStrike released its Ukraine report, company co-founder Dmitri Alperovitch claimed it provided added evidence of Russian election interference. In both hacks, he said, the company found malware used by “Fancy Bear,” a group with ties to Russian intelligence agencies.
CrowdStrike’s claims of heavy Ukrainian artillery losses were widely circulated in U.S. media.
On Thursday, CrowdStrike walked back key parts of its Ukraine report.
The company removed language that said Ukraine’s artillery lost 80 percent of the Soviet-era D-30 howitzers, which used aiming software that purportedly was hacked. Instead, the revised report cites figures of 15 to 20 percent losses in combat operations, attributing the figures to IISS.
The original CrowdStrike report was dated Dec. 22, 2016, and the updated report was dated March 23, 2017.
The company also removed language saying Ukraine’s howitzers suffered “the highest percentage of loss of any … artillery pieces in Ukraine’s arsenal.”
Finally, CrowdStrike deleted a statement saying “deployment of this malware-infected application may have contributed to the high-loss nature of this platform” – meaning the howitzers – and excised a link sourcing its IISS data to a blogger in Russia-occupied Crimea.
In an email, CrowdStrike spokeswoman Ilina Dmitrova said the new estimates of Ukrainian artillery losses resulted from conversations with Henry Boyd, an IISS research associate for defense and military analysis. She declined to say what prompted the contact.
“This update does not in any way impact the core premise of the report that the FANCY BEAR threat actor implanted malware into a D-30 targeting application developed by a Ukrainian military officer,” Dmitrova wrote.This is apparently a false claim:
Reached by VOA, the IISS confirmed providing CrowdStrike with new information about combat losses, but declined to comment on CrowdStrike’s hacking assertions.
“We don’t think the current version of the [CrowdStrike] report draws conclusions with regard to our data, other than quoting the clarification we provided to them,” IISS told VOA.
Dmitrova noted that the FBI and the U.S. intelligence community have also concluded that Russia was behind the hacks of the Democratic National Committee, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the email account of John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager.Note: The FBI and US Intelligence community has said that it relied on the Crowdstrike report without investigating and that they were also denied access to the DNC server that was allegedly hacked. In addition, there is reason to think that the incident was the result of an insider leak rather than a cyber hack.
The release of embarrassing Democratic emails during last year’s U.S. political campaign, and the subsequent finding by intelligence agencies that the hacks were meant to help then-candidate Donald Trump, have led to investigations by the FBI and intelligence committees in both the House and Senate.
Trump and White House officials have denied colluding with Russians.See also
Here a question also rises about the nature and the extent of objectives the US is pursuing in Syria. Clearly, there are no “short term” objectives and corollary to this is the fact there is no short term presence either.
Deployment of forces in Syria means that the US is certainly not looking at restroing Syria to its pre-war political situation. While the question of removing Assad from power doesn’t seem to be on the cards, what is very much on the cards is a division of Syria into zones and thus render Assad as the president in name only.
The plan, as some reports of the western media have suggested, should be the “creation of several autonomous zones within an otherwise still-centralized state.” These zones, according to this plan, will directly engage with, and be dependent upon, the international community for all types of “aid”, leaving potentially nothing in Assad’s hands and instead forcing him into quitting his role.
The plan also places the onus of responsibility of maintaining peace and conducting terror operations in Syria on the US/NATO forces which, by any means, have no legitimate and justifiable presence in Syria in the first place. Accordingly, Russia and Syrian forces are reduced to playing a second fiddle to the US and Iranian forces are completely removed from the Syrian territory.
The plan, in simple words, is to pave the way for a deep entrenchment of the US forces in Syria. The creation of “zones” in Syria thus makes perfect sense when seen against this background.
It only then that the US can reverse the setbacks it had to suffer in Syria during the Obama administration. It is only then that the US can prevent Russia and Iran from having an overwhelming presence and thus stabilize Syria under President Assad. On the contrary, creation of long-term “zones” in Syria means Iran will always remain vulnerable to its Arab rivals’ plans of defeating and destabilizing the Islamic Republic and establish their own hegemony fully backed by the US and Israel.NEO
In my previous post that looked at policies to reduce inequality in the 21st century, I mentioned that I will next discuss the welfare state. Here it is...Global Inequality
The cycle of global quantitative easing is coming to an end and policymakers should rely more on fiscal policy to stimulate growth, Zhou Xiaochuan, China's central bank governor, said on Sunday.
Zhou warned about the overreliance on monetary easing and said that policy is not "a panacea that can cure all kinds of illness".
"The direction is to see the limit (of monetary policy) and to consider very carefully how to get out of the period of monetary easing," Zhou said at a panel discussion at the Boao Forum for Asia.
In addition, governments should improve balance sheets and fiscal positions to create more room for fiscal policy, he said....
The central bank governor said China has the flexibility in fiscal policy, as the debt level of the central government is not very high, and added the country needs to streamline the relationship between the central and local governments to ensure fiscal policy fits the local conditions.
Zhou saw inflation and asset bubbles as the "unintended consequence" of the monetary easing....
The central bank launched mortgage rules to cool the property market. Among them, raising the down payment requirement for buyers of a second home in Beijing to 60 percent of the price.
China will be more open to foreign investment in its financial sectors, but the level of openness depends on compromises of all parties concerned during bilateral investment treaty (BIT) negotiations, said People's Bank of China governor Zhou Xiaochuan on Sunday.
Speaking during the Boao Forum for Asia, Zhou stated China has prepared, in its BIT negotiations with the US and its trade talks with European and ASEAN countries, to take even more significant steps to open up its banking, insurance, investment banking, securities and payments sectors.
However, he noted that China hopes Chinese investors, particularly those in private sectors, can gain fair treatment overseas after it opens up its financial sectors. The governor added that China's attempts to import high-technology in at least civilian sectors should be allowed.
"Each party should make some compromises. Only then can globalization move forward and all benefit from it," said Zhou.
China will substantially cut the number of sectors on the negative list which are not open to foreign investment and offer foreign investors fair treatment in its 11 free trade zones, according to Zhou.
The governor also mentioned U.S. President Donald Trump's call for a "big border tax" on imports or the Border Adjustment Tax (BAT), which has been a topic of much discussion around the world. It is believed that BAT will lead to the appreciation of the U.S. dollar by 20 to 25 percent.
Bai Chongen, a Tsinghua University professor and member of the central bank monetary policy committee, suggested further openness in foreign direct investment be considered to reduce the negative impact of the U.S. tax reform on China.
Zhou indicated that it remains to be seen whether or not the U.S. will implement BAT in its tax reform. He said China has prepared for further openness in recent years, but its openness is not directly connected with the foreign exchange rate.
The governor noted that China is waiting to see how the Trump administration approaches trade and investment negotiations. Meanwhile, China is actively negotiating with Japan, European and ASEAN countries to achieve positive results as early as possible.
From a broadly Keynesian viewpoint, output is demand determined. This suggests that fiscal policy, by affecting demand, can affect output and employment. At the same time, however, many Keynesians emphasize fundamental uncertainty. Firms’ output decisions depend upon expectations of future demand, and these expectations must be formulated under conditions of uncertainty. It can be wondered how the efficacy of fiscal policy squares with the presence of uncertainty....heteconomist
Crowd chants "You can't run, you can't hide, you get a helicopter ride"😂👌pic.twitter.com/Nr8N3sTBmn— mike thernobich (@mikethernobich) March 25, 2017
To begin with, Crowdstrike initially gauged its certainty as to the identity of the hackers with “medium confidence.” However, a later development, announced in late December and touted by the Washington Post, boosted this to “high confidence.” The reason for this newfound near-certainty was their discovery that “Fancy Bear” had also infected an application used by the Ukrainian military to target separatist artillery in the Ukrainian civil war.…
The definitive “evidence” cited by Alperovitch is now effectively debunked: indeed, it was debunked by Carr late last year, but that was ignored in the media’s rush to “prove” the Russians hacked the DNC in order to further Trump’s presidential ambitions. The exposure by the Voice of America of Crowdstrike’s falsification of Ukrainian battlefield losses – the supposedly solid “proof” of attributing the hack to the GRU – is the final nail in Crowdstrike’s coffin. They didn’t bother to verify their analysis of IISS’s data with IISS – they simply took as gospel the allegations of a pro-Russian blogger. They didn’t contact the Ukrainian military, either: instead, their confirmation bias dictated that they shaped the “facts” to fit their predetermined conclusion.
Now why do you suppose that is? Why were they married so early – after a single day – to the conclusion that it was the Russians who were behind the hacking of the DNC?...
Crowdstrike founder Alperovitch is a Nonresident Senior Fellow of the Atlantic Council, and head honcho of its “Cyber Statecraft Initiative” – of which his role in promoting the “Putin did it” scenario is a Exhibit A. James Carden, writing in The Nation, makes the trenchant point that “The connection between Alperovitch and the Atlantic Council has gone largely unremarked upon, but it is relevant given that the Atlantic Council – which is funded in part by the US State Department, NATO, the governments of Latvia and Lithuania, the Ukrainian World Congress, and the Ukrainian oligarch Victor Pinchuk – has been among the loudest voices calling for a new Cold War with Russia.” Adam Johnson, writing on the FAIR blog, adds to our knowledge by noting that the Council’s budget is also supplemented by “a consortium of Western corporations (Qualcomm, Coca-Cola, The Blackstone Group), including weapons manufacturers (Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman) and oil companies (ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron, BP).”
Johnson also notes that CrowdStrike currently has a $150,000 / year, no-bid contract with the FBI for “systems analysis.”...
The protests were called by the Russian neoliberal ‘non-system’ activist and ‘anti-corruption’ campaigner Alexey Navalny, purportedly in order to protest against the alleged corruption of Russia’s Prime Minister and former President Dmitry Medvedev.
Medvedev seems an unlikely target for these protests. His time as President from 2008 to 2012 is sometimes seen as a sort of liberal heyday, and it is indeed a fact that in the last weeks of his Presidency he rushed through a series of liberalisation measures in response to the protests which took place in Moscow and elsewhere following the 2011 Duma elections. The fact that the very same liberals who whilst he was President hailed Medvedev as their hero and who are the main beneficiaries of his liberalisation of the political system should now turn on him does rather seem like a case of of them biting the hand that fed them.….
As I discussed recently in an article written immediately after last autumn’s parliamentary elections in Russia, Parnas – the party with which Navalny is most closely associated – only won 0.70% of the vote in that election, whilst the combined vote of all the anti-government liberal parties in that election came to no more than 2.56%. That this is a totally insufficient electoral base from which to launch a serious bid for the Presidency should not need explaining.
It is in fact highly doubtful that Navalny genuinely believes that he can win the Presidential election next year, or that he seriously aims to. However he has to show to his supporters and funders – both those in Russia, and more importantly, those in the West – that he is an active force in Russian politics and that he is providing some value for all the backing they are giving him. That leads him to make wild allegations against people like Medvedev, to announce a bid to stand in an election he cannot win, and to call a protest in Moscow and across Russia which on any objection assessment simply highlights the absence of widespread support for him.
It is this need to retain attention which explains why Navalny not only called the protest today but insisted on holding it in the form of an unsanctioned march along Tverskaya in central Moscow rather than in the various locations offered him. Through this act of seeming ‘defiance’ Navalny is able to strike a heroic (though fake) pose (since he knows nothing will actually be done to him), provoke conflict – including his own arrest – and disguise the fact that only a few thousand people turned up to support him (the police in Moscow put the number between 7,000 to 8,000) by mixing his supporters up with ordinary pedestrian traffic and the large number of onlookers who might normally be expected on a Sunday in what is Moscow’s main and busiest thoroughfare....
Trump reportedly gave Merkel a bill for unpaid NATO "dues"https://t.co/xFex2Dmj06— Axios (@axios) March 26, 2017
President Trump reportedly gave German Chancellor Angela Merkel an invoice for over £300 billion in what he deems to be owed contributions to NATO, per The Times of London.
Using 2002 as a starting point — the year Merkel's predecessor Gerhard Schröder pledged to increase defense spending — U.S. officials allegedly calculated the extent to which German defense spending had fallen short of the 2% of GDP target that NATO requires, added the amount together, and then charged interest.
Trump has also reportedly asked his staff to prepare similar calculations for all other NATO members below the 2% target.
In the wake of the Republican failure to repeal the Affordable Care Act on Friday, leading figures in the progressive wing of the Democratic Party are rallying behind a single-payer health insurance and a raft of other bold reforms.The Huffington Post
These lawmakers and grassroots leaders have long believed that the problems plaguing the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, are rooted in the original health care law’s attempt to accommodate, rather than gradually replace, the private, for-profit health insurance system.
Now that efforts to eliminate the law wholesale are effectively dead, they are again arguing that the best way to improve the country’s health care system is to confront the power of corporate health care provider more directly.…
The Chinese government has rolled out a revitalization plan for traditional craftsmanship amid efforts to protect intangible cultural heritage and meet needs such as employment and poverty alleviation.
By 2020, China will have seen a "significant enhancement" of the ability to carry on traditional crafts with better industry management and market compatibility, according to the plan issued by the ministries of culture, industry and information technology and finance.
The incomes of those involved will be increased and employment promoted significantly, according to the plan posted on the website of China's cabinet, the State Council.
Among 1,372 items on the national list of intangible cultural heritage, more than 300 are traditional crafts, mainly concerning fine arts, traditional Chinese medicine and ethnic clothing.
The government will formulate a revitalization list to support key projects which have great development potential and will help employment.
Young people will be encouraged to participate. Universities, enterprises and other organizations will step up training and research.
International exchange and cooperation will also be promoted, according to the plan.China.org.cn
Some enterprises have set up workshops in areas with rich resources of traditional crafts to help local craftsmen improve product quality. As sales are expanding, more people have found jobs and shaken off poverty, said an official with the Ministry of Culture.
A Chinese court has ruled in favor of Apple Inc. in design patent disputes between it and a domestic phone-maker, overturning a ban on selling iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus phones in China.
Last May, a Beijing patent regulator ordered Apple's Chinese subsidiary and a local retailer Zoomflight to stop selling the said phones after Shenzhen Baili Marketing services Co. (Shenzhen Baili) lodged a complaint to it, claiming that the patent for the design of its mobile phone 100c was being infringed upon by the iPhone sales.
Apple and Zoomflight took the Beijing Intellectual Property Office's banning order to court.
The Beijing Intellectual Property Court on Friday revoked the ban, saying Apple and Zoomflight did not violate Shenzhen Baili's design patent for 100c phones.
The court ruled that the regulator did not follow due procedures in ordering the ban while there is no sufficient proof to claim the designs constitute violation of intellectual property rights.
Representatives of Beijing Intellectual Property Office and Shenzhen Baili said they would take time to decide whether to appeal the ruling.
In another related ruling, the same court denied a request by Apple to demand stripping Shenzhen Baili of its design patent for 100c phones. Apple first filed the request to the Patent Reexamination Board of State Intellectual Property Office. The board rejected the request, but Apple lodged a lawsuit against the rejection to court.
The Beijing Intellectual Property Court on Friday ruled to maintain the board's decision. It remains not immediately clear if Apple will appeal....China.org.cn
It is hard to say exactly who was in each group because no vote was taken to put members on record, but this appears to be generally how things fell apart:
1) By far the largest group would have consisted of the house’s largest conservative faction (172 members), known as the Republican Study Committee, probably joined by members of the House Republican Conference who do not identify with any particular faction. I’m talking here about the group that solidly supported President Trump and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan on the AHCA as originally drafted.
The Republican Study Committee — formed in 1973 to keep an eye on the party’s moderate leadership during the Nixon-Ford years — is the House’s oldest active faction....
2) The smallest, rewest, and most conservative faction of the House Republican Conference, called the “Freedom Caucus,” was established in 2015 to battle then Speaker John Boehner, particularly to fight his approval of Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act). These members of congress can be seen as the present rabble rousers because this is the faction that was willing to shut down the government in the original fight against Obamacare. ...
3) A larger faction of the House Republican Conference consists of about fifty people, who are the left-most Republicans in the House of Representatives (meaning only that they are moderates since no one in the Republican party is a leftist). This group was established in 1994 as the “Tuesday Group” when Republicans took control of the House under the more conservative leadership of Newt Gingrich. Gingrich rallied Republicans around his Contract with America. The Tuesday Group formed to resist Gingrich’s more conservative positioning of the Republican party.
The actual battle went like this: Unquestionably, those aligned with the Freedom Caucus felt the original AHCA bill, as proposed by Paul Ryan, did not go far enough in repealing Obamacare. Therefore, the group of Republicans who were with Trump and Ryan modified the bill to strip out more of Obamacare by taking down some of its Medicaid provisions and other benefits in order go gain some of the more conservative votes. That resulted in those aligned with the Tuesday Group (the most moderate Republicans) feeling the bill now went further right than they could tolerate. As a result, the Republicans lost some moderate votes when they compromised to pick up more conservative votes, and they never gained all of the conservative votes. So, they could not find a majority that could agree on any bill, and they had already thumbed their noses at Democrats completely, so they certainly wouldn’t get any help there....
Historically, corporations were understood to be responsible to a complex web of constituencies, including employees, communities, society at large, suppliers, and shareholders. But in the era of deregulation, the interests of shareholders began to trump all the others. How can we get corporations to recognize their responsibilities beyond this narrow focus? It begins in remembering that the philosophy of putting shareholder profits over all else is a matter of ideology which is not grounded in American law or tradition. In fact, it is no more than a dangerous fad.AlterNet
In liberal thought, legitimacy derives from elections, the state’s respect for its citizens’ human rights, open and transparent government, a free press and so on. According to these criteria, the provisional government ought to have been more legitimate than the unpopular monarchy it replaced. But it wasn’t. The legitimacy of the state proved to be inseparable from the person of the czar.
To understand why, one must look to an alternative concept of legitimacy. This sees legitimacy as deriving from history, tradition, nationalism and religion, as well as from force rather than from popularity and individual freedoms. Russians had regarded the czar as legitimate because the monarchy embodied centuries of Russian history, a sense of the Russian nation, and the idea of Orthodoxy. The monarchy was also feared. When it was gone, all that was left was an abstract commitment to liberal values. This was not sufficient. The result was the eventual triumph of Bolshevism.
This story continues to be repeated in countries across the globe today: Again and again, regime change leads not to liberal democracy but instead to civil war.
Despite this, many in the West continue to believe in the value of overthrowing what they consider to be corrupt or autocratic regimes, without in many cases taking due regard of the ways in which existing regimes have a form of legitimacy which is not easily replaced.
Too often, a mere public commitment to Western values proves to be an insufficient replacement for power, tradition, religion or nationalism. Unless we can redefine our understanding of legitimacy in order to take such factors into consideration, our efforts to reshape the world are all too likely to continue to end up creating only chaos.
An open letter to members of Congress
So there you are: continued high levels of employment with weak growth in wages and productivity is not evidence of disappointing technological progress; it is what you’d expect to see if technological progress were occurring rapidly in a world where thin safety nets mean that dropping out of the labour force leads to a life of poverty.Technological innovation that increases productivity provides the opportunity for increased leisure but this doesn't mean that this opportunity will be distributed, especially when the benefits accrue chiefly to owners, top management, and highly skilled workers associate with the technology.