Saturday, September 23, 2017

China comes to aid of Cuba

New kid on the block.
Chinese aircraft delivers humanitarian aid in Cuba after Hurricane Irma
Latin America is an important region with a concentration of developing countries, said Wang. The development and revitalization of the region is an important part of the endeavors to revitalize the emerging markets and developing countries as a whole.
China-Latin America comprehensive cooperation is facing new opportunities, he noted.
China, Cuba vow to enhance cooperation

Bryan Logan — JAMES CLAPPER: US intelligence assessment of Russia's election interference 'cast doubt on the legitimacy' of Trump's victory

  • The former director of national intelligence, James Clapper, said an assessment by the US intelligence community on Russia's US election interference "cast doubt" on President Donald Trump's legitimacy.
  • Clapper's comments follow an avalanche of recent news about Russia's efforts to sway American voters in 2016.
  • The Russia investigation has gained significant momentum in recent weeks, with several current and former Trump insiders under scrutiny for their ties to, and contacts with Russian operatives.
Whoa! US Civil War 2.0?

Looks like the deep state is digging in for a fight to the finish.

HRC piles on.

Business Insider
JAMES CLAPPER: US intelligence assessment of Russia's election interference 'cast doubt on the legitimacy' of Trump's victory
Bryan Logan


Crooks and Liars
Clinton: Americans Should Be 'Terrified' Over Russian Interference
Susie Madrak

Michael Roberts — Capital.150 part two: the economic reason for madness

Critique of David Harvey's reading of Das Kapital.

Michael Roberts Blog
Capital.150 part two: the economic reason for madness
Michael Roberts

Lars P. Syll — Seven sins of economics

Pramit Bhattacharya quote. 

Double significant since it is a signal of rising criticism of the profession coming from outside the Anglo-American world that is presently dominant. Hopefully, this is a sign that this domination of ideas and methods will not spread and will be balanced soon.

Lars P. Syll’s Blog
Seven sins of economics
Lars P. Syll | Professor, Malmo University

Douglas Valentine – Lars Schall: The CIA: 70 Years of Organized Crime

The quite a lot of different related topics covered in this article about the CIA drug running operations which they used to gain control of corrupt politicians and their countries. The CIA has its tentacles throughout the world working through the drugs trade and organised crime to build the American empire. The CIA agents get paid extremely well and live in luxury flying in private jets and staying in the best hotels. They advise the military, governments, and the generals. They don't see themselves as criminals, though, despite their criminal activity, they see themselves as patriarchs making America great, but for who?

It is also described here how the CIA helped to pump drugs into black communities to keep black youth from working hard and becoming middleclass and to keep them in and out of prison, in other words, we can blame the CIA for rap and hip hop gun culture.

Here's a few extracts from the article:

LS: Can you tell us please what’s behind a term you like to use, the “Universal Brotherhood of Officers”?

DV: The ruling class in any state views the people it rules as lesser beings to be manipulated, coerced, and exploited. The rulers institute all manner of systems – which function as protection rackets – to assure their class prerogatives. The military is the real power in any state, and the military in every state has a chain of command in which blind obedience to superiors is sacred and inviolable. Officers don’t fraternize with enlisted men because they will at some point send them to their deaths. There is an officer corps in every military, as well as in every bureaucracy and every ruling class in every state, which has more in common with military officers, top bureaucrats, and rulers in other states, than it does with the expendable, exploitable riff raff in its own state.
LS: How important is mainstream media for the public perception of the CIA?

DV: There are two facets to the CIA’s management and control of international drug trafficking, on behalf of the corporate interests that rule America. It’s important to note that the US government’s involvement in drug trafficking began before the CIA existed, as a means of controlling states, as well as the political and social movements within them, including America. Direct involvement started in the 1920s when the US helped Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist regime in China support itself through the narcotics trade.

During World War II, the CIA’ predecessor, the OSS, provided opium to Kachin guerrillas fighting the Japanese. The OSS and the US military also forged ties with the American criminal underworld during the Second World War, and would thereafter secretly provide protection to American drug traffickers whom it hired to do its dirty work at home and abroad.

DV: It’s the most critical feature. Guy Debord said that secrecy dominates the world, foremost as secret of domination. The media prevents you from knowing how you’re being dominated, by keeping the CIA’s secrets. The media and the CIA are same thing.

What FOX and MSNBC have in common is that, in a free-wheeling capitalist society, news is a commodity. News outlets target demographic audience to sell a product. It’s all fake news, in so far as each media outlet skews its presentation of the news to satisfy its customers. But when it comes to the CIA, it’s not just fake, it’s poison. It subverts democratic institutions.

Any domestic Phoenix-style organization or operation depends on double-speak and deniability, as well as official secrecy and media self-censorship. The CIA’s overarching need for total control of information requires media complicity. This was one of the great lesson defeat in Vietnam taught our leaders. The highly indoctrinated and well rewarded managers who run the government and media will never again allow the public to see the carnage they inflict upon foreign civilians. Americans never will see the mutilated Iraqi, Afghani, Libyan, and Syrian children killed by marauding US mercenary forces and cluster bombs.

On the other hand, falsified portrayals of CIA kidnappings, torture, and assassinations are glorified on TV and in movies. Telling the proper story is the key. Thanks to media complicity, Phoenix has already become the template for providing internal political security for America’s leaders.

LS: Is the CIA an enemy of the American people?

DV: Yes. It’s an instrument of the rich political elite, it does their dirty business.
Cops are members of the Universal Brotherhood of Officers. They exist above the law. CIA officers exist near the pinnacle of the Brotherhood. Blessed with fake identities and bodyguards, they fly around in private planes, live in villas, and kill with state-of-the-art technology. They tell army generals what to do. They direct Congressional committees. They assassinate heads of state and murder innocent children with impunity and with indifference. Everyone to them, but their bosses, is expendable.

UMKC MMT Conference

UMKC MMT conference going on now.

Program Schedule

Livestream links

Video uploads coming. TBA later.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Pepe Escobar — Brute isolation: Trump and the art of unraveling the Iran deal

What has happened is that the Trump administration has changed the narrative from being about a technical, nuclear-centered agreement, to one that encompasses Iran’s geopolitical reach in Syria, Iraq and Yemen, as well as its missile program and cyber operations – all non-nuclear issues that Mogherini herself stressed were “outside the scope” of the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action)....

So for all practical purposes, the Trump administration wants a completely different deal, or it will unilaterally pull out. Technically, that means going against a UNSC resolution supported by international law.
More importantly, if the US withdraws from the agreement, it sends a strong signal to the international community that US agreements are worthless and US diplomacy is meaningless.

Asia Times
Brute isolation: Trump and the art of unraveling the Iran deal
Pepe Escobar

Pepe Escobar recommends
International corporate media and governments hostile to Venezuela take up the “humanitarian crisis” fable to consolidate the portrayal of military intervention as an exercise in humanitarian relief rather than as military aggression. But very clearly, every “humanitarian intervention” by Western powers involves territorial occupation and reorganization to serve their geopolitical interests, similar to what happened in Haiti after the January 2010 earthquake.
More Bases, Military Exercises: The (Para)Military Option Against Venezuela in Action

Doug Tsruruoka — ‘N. Korean missiles can reach Chicago, would not be stopped’

US arms control expert: Hwasong-14 could even reach East Coast, but US anti-missile defenses probably couldn't shoot it down. Pyongyang likely has warhead that fits, he adds.
Does NK have a nuclear deterrent?

Asia Times
‘N. Korean missiles can reach Chicago, would not be stopped’
Doug Tsruruoka

Ian Welsh' — Review of “Descartes' Error” by Antonio Damasio

Short summary of the main thrust of cognitive scientist Antonio Damasio's work about the interplay of reason and feeling.

See also

Antonio Damasio: INET Keynote Address entitled Human Decisions

Jeremiah Jones — ‘Whites Only’ Stickers Falsely Attributed To #BLM Appear At St. Louis Restaurants

Don't believe everything you see.
St. Louis restaurant owners were upset when “Whites Only” stickers with the hashtag #BLM began appearing at their businesses. It turns out that BLM had nothing to do with it. A group of young white males was caught on security cameras doing the deed to try to cause problems for BLM.
BLM is apparently Black Lives Matter, not Bureau of Land Management, although that is a right bogeyman, too.

Charles Austin — Want Proof that Corporate Money Influences Politicians? This New Study Has It.

The authors of a recent Roosevelt Institute paper identified a series of high-profile cases in which political contributions influenced members of Congress on key floor votes involving financial reform. 
To examine the influence of big money, the authors of the study focused on five votes in the U.S. House of Representatives relating to the Dodd-Frank financial-reform bill. They isolated specific representatives who initially voted in favor of the bill and subsequently voted to dismantle some of its key provisions. What they found was a direct link between voting behavior and campaign contributions from the financial sector. 
According to the paper, “for every $100,000 that Democratic representatives received from finance, the odds they would break with their party’s majority support for the Dodd-Frank legislation increased by 13.9 percent. Democratic representatives who voted in favor of finance often received $200,000–$300,000 from that sector, which raised the odds of switching by 25–40 percent. 
The authors found similar results with telecommunications legislation. In a 2006 vote on network neutrality, every $1,000 in contributions from an anti-net-neutrality firm equated to a 2.6 percent greater chance of voting in those interests’ favor.
Thomas Ferguson, Professor Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Boston, a Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow and a co-author of the paper, says clearly money doesn’t just influence politics—it drives it....
Calling it what it is — corruption.
Their “spectrum of political money” highlights eight ways outside cash shapes political decision-making. These include payments to lawyers, political figures and foundations; money spent on lobbying and think tanks; formal campaign spending, the value of stock tips to political figures and public relations spending. Money flowing through these avenues is perfectly legal but often difficult to trace, creating countless opportunities for corruption....
Corruption has been institutionalized. This is the most difficult type of corruption to detect, since it is legalized and incorporate into the culture.

In These Times
Want Proof that Corporate Money Influences Politicians? This New Study Has It.
Charles Austin

BBC News — UK's credit rating downgraded by Moody's

Moody's, one of the major ratings agencies, downgraded the UK to an Aa2 rating from Aa1.
It said leaving the European Union was creating economic uncertainty at a time when the UK's debt reduction plans were already off course.
Downing Street said the firm's Brexit assessments were "outdated".
The other major agencies, Fitch and S&P, changed their ratings in 2016, with S&P cutting it two notches from AAA to AA, and Fitch lowering it from AA+ to AA.
Moody's said the government had "yielded to pressure and raised spending in several areas" including health and social care.
It says revenues were unlikely to compensate for the higher spending....
If anyone is outdated it is the credit rating agencies. The US has been a currency sovereign since the demise of the gold standard and floating rates.

Morons. Can't tell the difference between a sovereign currency issuer and currency users.
Credit rating agencies, in essence, rate a country on the strength of its economy - scoring governments or large companies on how likely they are to pay back their debt.
A currency sovereign can always meet its obligations in the currency it issue fully and on time. Default or delay is a voluntary decision taken politically rather than the result of financial constraint.

What is wrong with these people?

BBC News
UK's credit rating downgraded by Moody's

Paul Robinson — Cunning troll


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

See also

Fort Russ
West has spent $80 million to influence Russia's 2018 elections
Vesti - translated by Inessa Sinchougova


For some unknown reasons these FB ads aren't made public so that people can come to their own conclusions about them.

Fort Russ
US President calls Russia's Facebook ad rumours "new mystification"Vesti - translated by Inessa Sinchougova

Vesti is owned by All-Russia State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) is a United States government-funded broadcasting organization that spreads news, information, and analysis to countries in Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Middle East, where it claims "the free flow of information is either banned by government authorities or not fully developed".[3] RFE/RL is a 501(c)(3) corporation that receives U.S. government funding and is supervised by the Broadcasting Board of Governors, an agency overseeing all U.S. federal government international broadcastingservices.[4] Wikipedia

Zero Hedge "This Is Embarrassing": 2 People Show Up For iPhone 8 Launch in Hangzhou, China

Confirming reports that reception for Apple's newly launched iPhone 8 may be "underwhelming" to put it lightly, as the phone provides little if any material improvement over its lower-priced predecessor even as sales for hardcore fans will be cannibalized by the iPhone X, is the following report from Hangzhou, China which shows that all of 2 people were waiting in line for the latest gizmo from Tim Cook....
With the iPhone 8 a dud, at least in China, AAPL longs are hoping that the reception for the iPhone X in a few weeks will be notably more enthusiastic, or else Apple may have a major problem on its hands.
Zero Hedge
"This Is Embarrassing": 2 People Show Up For iPhone 8 Launch in China
Tyler Durden

See also

More depth.

Sputnik International
X Factor: iPhone 8 Greeted With Little Enthusiasm

Robert Parry — The Crazy Imbalance of Russia-gate

If the U.S. government and mainstream media are really concerned about foreign influence in American politics, they might look at Israel and other nations with much more clout than Russia, notes Robert Parry.
Ya think?

Consortium News
The Crazy Imbalance of Russia-gate
Robert Parry

Tim Wallace — Inflation is getting harder to understand, central banker warns

No, inflation is not getting harder to "understand." Central banks are just using models that don't fit the case, for example, confusing special case model with general models, or using models that are mis-specified. 

The message is to review the assumptions, including methodological ones, and revise them as appropriate. Then compare the model with the real world.

What's so difficult to understand about that? This is what scientists do.

Difficult, you say? That's what you are getting paid for. If you don't have the chops, then resign and do something you can handle. 

Maybe others have a better handle on it. Give them a shot.

The Telegraph
Inflation is getting harder to understand, central banker warns
Tim Wallace

Global Times Editorial — Trump’s UN address reduces hope of peace on Korean Peninsula

The Chinese view.

Brad Blankenship — How private corporations will benefit from Kurdish independence

You probably want to take the time to read this.

Rex Tillerson and Exxon up to the neck in it.

Al-Masdar News
How private corporations will benefit from Kurdish independence
Brad Blankenship

Alex Ward — Read: Bernie Sanders's big foreign policy speech

Full transcript.

Preparatory to Bernie running again?

Read: Bernie Sanders's big foreign policy speech
Alex Ward

Graham E. Fuller — The Future of the Kurds


Graham E. Fuller
The Future of the Kurds
Graham E. Fuller | adjunct professor of history at Simon Fraser University, formerly vice chairman of the National Intelligence Council at the CIA, and a former senior political scientist at RAND

Awara — Simple Tips That Will Help You Choose the Best Accounting Company in Russia

While doing business in Russia, you might have already learned the easy or the hard way that local accounting principles significantly differ from Western practices due to requirements of Russian law.
Accounting is institutional and its rules are determined by institutional arrangements that are generally part of the legal structure in modern societies.

This can make comparison of data difficult in different jurisdictions.

Simple Tips That Will Help You Choose the Best Accounting Company in Russia

Asia Unhedged — Steve Bannon held secret meeting with Wang Qishan: report

Ousted White House advisor to Trump Steve Bannon was invited recently to the Chinese leadership compound, Zhongnanhai, to meet with the country’s second-most powerful official, the Financial Times reports, citing sources familiar with the matter.
Wang Qishan has President Xi's ear. Does Steve Bannon still have Trump's ear, or has General Kelly shut him off?

Asia Times
Asia Unhedged

Wang Qishan heads the anti-corruption drive in the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
Wang Qishan (Chinese: 王岐山; born 1 July 1948) is a senior leader of the Communist Party of China. Since 2012 he has been a member of the seven-man Politburo Standing Committee, China's highest decision making body. He concurrently serves as Secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, and has emerged as the public face of General Secretary Xi Jinping's anti-corruption campaign since 2013.
 Wang gained prominence in China's financial sector in the late 1980s. In 1994, Wang became the Governor of the China Construction Bank. Wang then successively served in three regional roles: Vice-Governor of Guangdong, Party Secretary of Hainan, and Mayor of Beijing. Wang then served as Vice-Premier in charge of finance and commercial affairs under premier Wen Jiabao from March 2008 to March 2013, during which he also gained a seat on the party's Politburo. — Wikipedia

Asia Unhedged — Xi stresses integrated military, civilian development

During a meeting of the Central Commission for Integrated Military and Civilian Development (CCIMCD) on Friday, Chinese President Xi Jinping stressed the importance “defense, science and industry” will play in the integration of the private sector and China’s military, according to an official release from Xinhua.…

“Defense science, technology and industry are key areas for integrated military and civilian development, and play a vital role in boosting the country’s innovation-driven development and supply-side structural reform,” read a Xinhua translation from a statement released after the meeting.
The commission adopted a plan for the development of “defense science, technology and industry” (as translated by Xinhua) during the period under the 13th five-year plan (2016-2020), as well as guidelines on advancing integrated military and civilian development in the areas.

Merijn Knibbe — Why, to the detriment of the economics profession, MiltonFriedman ignored Hyman Minsky’s advice

I’m talking about the 1962 Milton Friedman/Anna Schwarz article ‘Money and Business Cycles’ (the Minsky comments can be found in the same document). According to Friedman and Schwarz, the government and only the government indirectly creates money mainly via central bank interest and QE like bank-liquidity policies. Period. Which makes the government, and only the government, responsible for these deep depressions. Period.…
The 64 trillion-dollar question is of course: why do Friedman and Schwarz discard modern monetary measurement and why do they stick to their CCA? Why don’t they mention Copeland and why don’t they even mention the Flow of Funds (which, again, is the cornerstone of modern monetary measurement)? Why didn’t they catch up with the developments in modern economic statistics taking place at the most important central banks of the world? Why did the bend over backwards to avoid any data and each author which hinted at, in the words of Minsky “a commercial loan monetary system … consistent with a debt deflation view of how major recessions are generated: a view in which the historically observed changes in the money supply, particularly those associated with deep depression, are a result of business behavior”?\
The more salient question is why anyone took their work seriously when they were clearly in the weeds considering that even the classical economists realize the key role of private credit?

Real-World Economics Review Blog
Why, to the detriment of the economics profession, MiltonFriedman ignored Hyman Minsky’s advice
Merijn Knibbe

Michael Roberts — Capital.150 part one: measuring the past to gauge the future

Marx on capitalism and the profit rate.

Duncan Green — What does Artificial Intelligence mean for the future of poor countries?


Is global society and the global economy at a turning point and if so, what happens next? It's chiefly about the developing world, but similar challenges face the developed world. 

Technological innovation results in emergence and emergence present fresh challenges along with new opportunities. How those involved in rapid change will react is uncertain. Will they be able to adapt, and, if so, how? While coordination increase the return from coordination, or will competition separate winners from losers? What does this imply for the level of conflict, types of conflict, and reactions to conflict?

From Poverty to Plenty
What does Artificial Intelligence mean for the future of poor countries?
Duncan Green

Will Denayer—The productivity puzzle explained. How right wing policies and neoclassical recipes destroy economic growth

‘America needs its unions more than ever.’ And ‘Labour reform could help restore the bargaining power of US workers.’ Can you believe that these are titles from articles in the Financial Times? 
Mario Draghi, the president of the ECB, recently boasted that since 2015 the euro-zone gained more than 5 million jobs. New cheap jobs yes, and productivity remains historically low. Today’s lacking investment means that technology does not substitute for labour – the normal trajectory in capitalism, instead cheap labour substitute for technology. As a result, productivity stalls and, with it, progress. Britain and the US, with their deregulated labour markets, constitute the best examples of this degenerative trend. Britain’s flat productivity reflects a combination of rapid automation in some sectors and the rapid growth of low-productivity, low-wage jobs. In the United States, eight of the tenfastest-growing job categories are low-wage services such as personal care and home health aides (see here).
The political consequences of this situation cannot be underestimated. After decades of right-wing policies, stripping away protections for workers, the flexibilisation of labour markets, destroying ‘government rigidities’ and waging wars against trade unions, it turns out that these neoclassical recipes decrease productivity.
The problem does seem to be immigrants taking jobs from native workers, as many believe. but rather exporting productive capital to take advantage of lower costs abroad, coupled with neoliberal labor policy that skews the domestic labor market toward capital by reducing the bargaining power of labor. This means that domestic workers are competing with lower cost embedded labor. A result is increasing economic inequality and lagging domestic demand as workers' income remains stagnant or shrinks.

This model is not working for workers (most people) of the developed world, although the emerging world is benefitting, which is different from the classical model of imperial-colonial capitalism in which productive capital investment and technological innovation were chiefly domestic.

Flassbeck Economics International
The productivity puzzle explained. How right wing policies and neoclassical recipes destroy economic growth
Will Denayer

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Jason Smith — My introductory chapter on economics

Short and not wonkish. Worth a read.

Information Transfer Economics
My introductory chapter on economics
Jason Smith

Healthcare Debate

This will be the Sanders crew going full Robin Hood vs. the Graham crew going full libertarian... will be very frustrating to watch.

Natalie Wolchover — New Theory Cracks Open the Black Box of Deep Learning

How learning machines generalize by filtering the specific.

Quanta Magazine