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Thu Sep 7th, 2017 at 05:19:10 PM EST
Tropical Depressions Sam Kriss, Ellie Mae O'Hagan The Baffler
On a wretched December afternoon in 2015, as raindrops pattered a planetary threnody on grayed-out streets, five thousand activists gathered around Paris's Arc de Triomphe, hoping to force world leaders to do something, anything, that would save the future. Ellie was there. But what she remembers most from that afternoon during the UN's Climate Change Conference wasn't what happened in the open, in front of cameras and under the sky. As they took the Metro together, activists commiserated, briefly, before the moment of struggle and the need to be brave, over just how hopeless it could sometimes feel. People talked about bafflement, rage, despair; the sense of having discovered a huge government conspiracy to wipe out the human race--but one that everybody knows about and nobody seems willing to stop.
Twenty meters beneath the Paris streets, the Metro became a cocoon, tight and terrified, in which a brief moment of honest release was possible. Eventually someone expressed the psychic toll in words that have stuck with Ellie since. It was a chance remark: "I don't know how to be human any more."
Fri Mar 17th, 2017 at 02:37:16 PM EST
Kulturkampf Of The Left? Extremes, Be Gone! Ľubo Blaha Social Europe
A culture war has erupted in Europe, and it's happening even amongst left-wingers. On the one hand, we have the liberal cosmopolitans who "welcome" refugees, advocate supra-national identities, consider borders obsolete, and have an inclination to label working-class people with some conservative prejudices as pure fascists. On the other hand, there are the traditional socialists who distrust globalisation, supra-national projects and individualistic liberal values. They consider the post-material "New Left" ridiculous and they blame it for the fact that working-class voters are leaving the Left and beginning to vote for the far-right. In their extreme, both these attitudes are dangerous - one leads to neoliberalism, the other to nationalism.
The ultra-liberal part of the Left is gradually changing to a more social version of liberal globalism, and it fights hand-in-hand with right-wing neoliberals for a world without borders. In this kind of world, transnational capital can exploit people all over the planet without any constraints from the nation states, but the social globalists add to this grim neoliberal picture a promise of a brighter tomorrow in the form of a global welfare state and transnational regulatory bodies.
The problem is that, in reality, even the strongest one of these transnational bodies - the European Union - sometimes behaves like a neoliberal tank that crushes the social achievements of the post-war era. Look at the neoliberal rape of Tsipras´s Greece or the Americanization threat of TTIP. And there is nothing else besides the EU that would even begin to look like a more progressive and cosmopolitan order. Whether we like it or not, the cosmopolitan "brighter tomorrow" is nowhere in sight. In the meantime, we live in a cruel neoliberal reality, in which the cosmopolitan Left loses out, and transnational capital takes all. That is why liberal cosmopolitanism is not just a utopian concept, but also a dangerous one. It is useful for transnational capital, which wants to get rid of the socially protective measures of nation states.
Tue Dec 20th, 2016 at 05:00:54 PM EST
What Those Who Studied Nazis Can Teach Us About The Strange Reaction To Donald Trump HuPo
On election night, MSNBC's Chris Matthews had a revelation. Matthews, with a pained expression, began to piece together the basis for Hillary Clinton's pending defeat. She had failed to communicate a tough position on illegal immigration. She had supported bad trade deals. She had not renounced all of the "stupid wars."
Her presidential rival, Donald Trump, on the other hand, had waged what Matthews called a "legitimate" campaign on these issues, a claim that seemed to stretch the bounds of legitimacy, but Matthews was not alone. In the following days and weeks, others would make similar claims implying a victory that, weeks before, had been impossible was actually inevitable ― and liberalism was largely to blame
In a New York Times op-ed, "The End of Identity Liberalism," Mark Lilla argued that "moral panic about racial, gender and sexual identity" had "distorted liberalism's message and prevented it from becoming a unifying force capable of governing." Trump's popularity, Lilla argued, was not a consequence of a white backlash (whitelash) but rather a reaction to "the omnipresent rhetoric of identity or `political correctness.'"
And the problem with 'identity politics' is that everyone can play. All of the minority identity political agendas were blown out of the water by the simple expedient of mobilizing the now largest minority in a 'no majority' population - by a right winger. It was a disaster waiting to happen.
For more lasting success campaigns have to address the needs of all, but have to repudiate the bigotry and hate of any. Universalism is the concrete foundation for governing.
Fri Aug 5th, 2016 at 02:53:40 AM EST
It is not often that we get such frank discussions of the practicalities of recent realpolitik diplomacy as in this e-mail that Sidney Blumenthal sent to Hillary Clinton, then US Secretary of State: (via Wikileaks)
For: Hillary From: Sid
Re: France's client & Qaddafi's gold
1. A high ranking official on the National Libyan Council states that factions have developed within it. In part this reflects the cultivation by France in particular of clients among the rebels. General Abdelfateh Younis is the leading figure closest to the French, who are believed to have made payments of an unknown amount to him. Younis has told others on the NLC that the French have promised they will provide military trainers and arms. So far the men and materiel have not made an appearance. Instead, a few "risk assessment analysts" wielding clipboards have come and gone. Jabril, Jalil and others are impatient. It is understood that France has clear economic interests at stake. Sarkozy's occasional emissary, the intellectual self-promoter Bernard Henri-Levy, is considered by those in the NLC who have dealt with him as a semi-useful, semi joke figure. 2. Rumors swept the NLC upper echelon this week that Qaddafi may be dead or maybe not. 3. Qaddafi has nearly bottomless financial resources to continue indefinitely, according to the latest report we have received:
Fri Jul 29th, 2016 at 02:32:17 AM EST
IMF admits disastrous love affair with the euro, apologises for the immolation of Greece Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
The International Monetary Fund's top staff misled their own board, made a series of calamitous misjudgments in Greece, became euphoric cheerleaders for the euro project, ignored warning signs of impending crisis, and collectively failed to grasp an elemental concept of currency theory. This is the lacerating verdict of the IMF's top watchdog on the Fund's tangled political role in the eurozone debt crisis, the most damaging episode in the history of the Bretton Woods institutions.
It describes a "culture of complacency", prone to "superficial and mechanistic" analysis, and traces a shocking break-down in the governance of the IMF, leaving it unclear who is ultimately in charge of this extremely powerful organisation. The report by the IMF's Independent Evaluation Office (IEO) goes above the head of the managing director, Christine Lagarde. It answers solely to the board of executive directors, and those from Asia and Latin America are clearly incensed at the way EU insiders used the Fund to rescue their own rich currency union and banking system.
Fri Jul 22nd, 2016 at 06:32:29 PM EST
Why Corbyn so terrifies the Guardian Jonathan Cook
The parliamentary Labour party is in open revolt against a leader recently elected with the biggest mandate in the party's history. Most Labour MPs call Jeremy Corbyn "unelectable", even though they have worked tirelessly to undermine him from the moment he became leader, never giving him a chance to prove whether he could win over the wider British public.
Meanwhile, the Guardian, the house paper of the British left - long the preferred choice of teachers, social workers and Labour activists - has been savaging Corbyn too, all while it haemorrhages readers and sales revenue. Online, the Guardian's reports and commentaries about the Labour leader - usually little more than character assassination or the reheating of gossip and innuendo - are ridiculed below the line by its own readers. And yet it ploughs on regardless.
The Labour party ignores its members' views, just as the Guardian ignores its readers' views. What is going on?
Tue Jul 12th, 2016 at 10:07:28 PM EST
Is "Helicopter Money" About to Rain Upon the World? Guest Post by David Llewellyn-Smith in Naked Capitalism
Ever since the BOJ announced a new negative interest rate policy earlier this year (NIRP) the yen has stopped falling and reversed upwards. That is, despite weak Japanese growth, despite an inverted yield curve and deeply negative long bond, and despite still weak inflation, markets have bet on spectacularly easy monetary policy generating even more of all four. This is what is know as "quantitative failure", the notion that negative interest rates will not expand the monetary base owing to such phenomenon as crushed bank margins and the hoarding of cash under mattresses, so the currency is therefore going to rise.
Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger
Meanwhile, in an effort to calm potential concerns about the integrity of the fiscal budget central bankers implementing such a future monetisation of infrastructure spending will doubtless be at pains to describe the process as a "one off" though, as the ever theoretical Bernanke stated in his blog: "To have its full effect, the increase in the money supply must be perceived as permanent by the public."
...a policy of "helicopter money" is only likely to work if it is done on an ongoing basis and in continuing and growing amounts. But at that point the risk of a policy mistake grows exponentially, in terms of a potentially destabilising pickup in inflation expectations and a related pickup in velocity.
Tue Jul 12th, 2016 at 12:29:48 PM EST
Questions and Answers:
1. It seems clear that it is in the interests of the current government to hold onto power as long as possible. But how long is that likely to be?
2. It seems clear that the City is opposed to leaving the EU. A. But will they settle for a massive 'shock doctrine' roll back of social and labor protections? B. Will they be divided in their response, and, if so, what will be the majority response? C. And how effective will their response be?
3. It seems likely that Corbyn can hold on to the leadership of Labour. But will Labour be able to bring forth a program that is able to attract or bring back enough supporters to win by-elections and a new General Election.
4. How will legal challenges and issues impact the course of events?
Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger
Mon Jun 6th, 2016 at 02:21:18 PM EST
I recently has a discussion with a FB friend about 'kicking out' members of the Labor Party such as Blair. I wondered if that were possible. The same question arises in other counties. In the USA I am certain that the leaders of the Republican Party and the RNC would have kicked Donald Trump out of the party had they been able.
It seems to me that parties are not able and should not be able to prevent people from registering to vote as members of their party. That would infringe on their right to vote. Exclude from leadership - unequivocally yes. But no matter how odious or notorious an individual might be and regardless of the possibility of their only wanting to join a party to discredit it by their very presence can they still join?
Thu Jun 2nd, 2016 at 02:43:40 PM EST
Why Some of the Smartest Progressives I Know Will Vote for Trump over Hillary Yves Smith in Politico Magazine
Why do progressives reject Hillary Clinton? The highly educated, high-income, finance-literate readers of my website, Naked Capitalism, don't just overwhelmingly favor Bernie Sanders. They also say "Hell no!" to Hillary Clinton to the degree that many say they would even vote for Donald Trump over her.
And they don't come by these views casually. Their conclusions are the result of careful study of her record and her policy proposals. They believe the country can no longer endure the status quo that Clinton represents--one of crushing inequality, and an economy that is literally killing off the less fortunate--and any change will be better. One reader writes:
"If Clinton is the nominee 9 out of 10 friends I polled will [do one of three things]:
A. Not vote for president in November.
B. Vote for Trump.
C. Write in Bernie as a protest vote.
"We are all fifty-somethings with money and college educations. Oh, and we are all registered Democrats."
Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger
Wed May 25th, 2016 at 12:57:58 PM EST
I could never bring myself to read more than excerpts from Edmond Burke's "Notes On The Revolution in France" This was likely due to him being presented almost exclusively as a cudgel against the French Revolution while I could not but identify with the revolutionaries. Had I been more aware of his position on the American Revolution I might have been more sympathetic. But, as I can now see, my professors were, at best, social liberals or libertarians. But Burke was a defender of the value of tradition and of the wisdom of evolved and lived practical experience. Another take on Burke:
A Few Notes on Burkean Conservatism John Michael Greer aka The (former) Archdruid
The foundation of Burkean conservatism is the recognition that human beings aren't half as smart as they like to think they are. One implication of this recognition is that when human beings insist that the tangled realities of politics and history can be reduced to some set of abstract principles simple enough for the human mind to understand, they're wrong. Another is that when human beings try to set up a system of government based on abstract principles, rather than allowing it to take shape organically out of historical experience, the results will pretty reliably be disastrous.
Wed Mar 9th, 2016 at 01:10:46 PM EST
SO WHAT WENT WRONG?
538 has been had the best record and, often, the most insightful commentary on politics with regard to public opinion in the USA. Yet today it posted the following:
What The Stunning Bernie Sanders Win In Michigan Means By Harry Enten 538
Bernie Sanders made folks like me eat a stack of humble pie on Tuesday night. He won the Michigan primary over Hillary Clinton, 50 percent to 48 percent, when not a single poll taken over the last month had Clinton leading by less than 5 percentage points. In fact, many had her lead at 20 percentage points or higher. Sanders's win in Michigan was one of the greatest upsets in modern political history. (My bold)
I believed Sanders was going to do better than the polsters were predicting, but then I AM a Sanders partisan and make no bones about it. I could be the proverbial stopped clock and it was just that time of day for once. But what happened with them? And even I had been beaten down and was surprised at the outcome. I expected it to be close, but for Hillary to win, if only by a point.
Wed Feb 10th, 2016 at 11:23:28 PM EST
What could the USA do if there is another, more serious global financial collapse? This has been a subject of discussion on several economic, financial and political blogs. The question also applies to any country. But the answer below will be restricted to countires with their own currency.
Tue Feb 2nd, 2016 at 01:05:00 AM EST
Iowa Caucus: Cruz Victory Deals Setback to Donald Trump
Clinton and Sanders Locked in Tight Race
NYT 98% reporting Last updated 11:59 PM ET
Republicans . . . . . . . . . . . Democrats . . . . . . .
Ted Cruz 27.7% Hillary Clinton 49.9%
Donald J. Trump 24.3 Bernie Sanders 49.6
Marco Rubio 23.1 Martin O'Malley 0.6
Mon Dec 15th, 2014 at 01:51:18 AM EST
Will the Oil Collapse Kill Energy Junk Bonds? (Yves Smith on Illari's post from Automatic Earth)
(The PBS News Hour Friday, December 12, noted that US oil prices dropped below $60/bbl Friday, causing the lagest drop in US stock markets in three years.)
Some context, (via Ed Harrison):
front-paged by afew
Mon Dec 8th, 2014 at 01:34:25 AM EST
I want to note that I have been dealing with health issues lately. I was hospitalized in mid September and then again on the 2nd of December. All of this arises from an exquisitely ridiculous bit of prat-fall. I have been using a mobility cart at large stores for several years due to my knees. In early August I drove one out to my car, started to get off by placing my left foot off the cart, then decided to reposition the cart further left and proceeded to do so without putting my foot back on the cart - thus running the cart over the foot with my 270lbs and the cart's ~ 100 lbs resting on the side of my left ankle. Then I had to reverse the procedure.
Mon Nov 24th, 2014 at 12:20:30 PM EST
Vicious Circle(s) 2.0 While trying to sever the sovereign-banking link, we may be disregarding vulnerabilities from banks' mutual interconnectedness Silvia Merler Breugel H/T NC
Since the beginning of the crisis - and more so since 2010 - Europeans have been looking at the sovereign-banking "vicious circle", tying the dismal fates of States and banks together. This has emerged as a characteristic disease during the euro crisis, and one of the stated objective of the European Banking Union project was precisely to remedy it. The idea was basically to achieve this goal in a twofold way, ex ante and ex post. On one hand, by imposing stronger and harmonised supervisory requirements (e.g. on capital) and by empowering a third-party, independent and hopefully high-quality, supervisor to oversee their fulfillment, thus rebuilding trust in supervision and in the financial sector's health. On the other hand, if a crisis turned out to be unavoidable, the second principle consisted in limiting recourse to taxpayers' money as much as possible therefore preventing doubts about the damage that bank rescue would inflict to the state of public finances.
The first principle was translated into practice by the creation of a Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM) under which, on the 4th of November, the ECB took over supervisory responsibility for banks in the euro area. The second principle concretized by the introduction of the Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive (BRRD) which gives a framework for resolution of troubled banks, and by the creation of a Single Resolution Mechanism (SRM), who should ensure consistent and homogeneous application of it. Among the other provision, the BRRD contains a set of rules for the application of bail-in in bank resolution, strengthening the involvement of private creditor that de facto is already introduced by the amended State Aid framework.
Hence, there has been a remarkable shift in the European mindset about banking crisis, from a first phase in which bail-in was a taboo, to a second one in which it is considered as a new normal and welcome practice. And there is in principle nothing bad about this idea, but the question is whether in rapidly overturning the approach, European policymakers have not overlooked important weaknesses that still exists in the system and could have important consequences in the perspective of applying these new rules.
Twenty percent of EU banks' capital has as counterparties other EU banks and in Italy and others much of the state debt is held by its private banks.
Thu Nov 20th, 2014 at 04:15:28 PM EST
New York Fed, Goldman in Criminal Investigation for Sharing Confidential Information Yves Smith Naked Capitalism
A New York Times story manages to bury the lead, even given the salacious material, in an important story that provides more evidence of the overly-cozy relationship between the New York Fed and its favored large banks, particularly Goldman. The issue is sensitive in the wake of former New York Fed staffer Carmen Segarra releasing hours of tape recordings that show undue deference by the Fed employees towards Goldman....What is striking about the New York Times expose is how tortuous the writing is, and how it takes (and I am not exaggerating) three times as many words as necessary to finally describe what happened. For instance, it isn't until the 9th paragraph that the article mentions that this sharing of confidential information can be a crime and the authorities are giving a serious look into that very question.
The overview: a former New York Fed employee who had been assigned to work with banks obtained confidential information about a bank client that amounted to impermissible sharing of privileged regulatory information. As the Times states at the very end of the story:
Goldman determined that the spreadsheet contained confidential bank supervisory information. Federal and state rules classify certain records, including those generated during bank exams, as confidential. Unless the Federal Reserve provides special approval, it can be a federal crime to share them outside the Fed.
But proving that someone "willfully" violated the rules, as is required for a criminal prosecution, could be difficult. The rules are vague and even contradictory about which documents must remain confidential -- and when regulators are allowed to share them.
Some of [Goldman employee] Mr. [Rohit] Bansal's information, the lawyers said, may have come from Jason Gross, who worked at the New York Fed at the time.
Mr. Gross's lawyer, Bruce Barket, said, "We are cooperating with the federal investigation to the best we can."
They put the worst nine paragraphs down, beneath the copy from three reporters, apparently hoping that few readers will get that far. At least they published the story. It gets better.
It would seem time to change the status of The New York Federal Reserve Bank by abolishing it board and making it directly responsible to the Federal Reserve Board of Governors and the Chairman. That would obviate the possibility for Jamie Dimon or another powerful Wall Street Banker to have an inside position as a member of the New York Fed's board. Most Open Market Operations by the Fed are implemented by the NY Fed. Determing what to do about the New York Times and other MSM publications is more difficult.
Tue Oct 7th, 2014 at 02:12:55 AM EST
Since those with great wealth hold most of the debt issued by the US Government in the form of bonds, and since they have disproportionate influence on Congress via large campaign contributions they could insist that the government buy back their bonds and retire them. But they don't because that is not what they really want. The main reason they hold this debt is that there are no alternative investments they find attractive. The USA desperately needs to build a renewable energy and transportation infrastructure before the cost of fossil fuels makes such an investment much more expensive, and building that infrastructure now would cap the cost of electricity, as there is no fuel cost for renewables, so renewables come on line first, per the Merit Order Effect. But this would cut into the profits from their fossil fuel holdings. The real reason they are pushing this faux debt crisis is to provide a reason to cut program they despise - namely anything that benefits the average citizen: food stamps, long term unemployment, Social Security and Medicare.
Sat Apr 26th, 2014 at 01:13:40 PM EST
Putin, Petrodollars and Canada's Useful Idiot Counterpunch
by MURRAY DOBBIN (H/T melo for the original post in the weekend newsroom.)
Stephen Harper's embarrassing behaviour regarding the crisis in Ukraine -- demonizing Vladimir Putin and upping the rhetoric -- must be welcomed in the U.S. which created the crisis in the first place and apparently believes it still has something to gain by isolating Russia. But it is not clear that Harper even realizes -- or cares -- what the larger game is. And that game may include a Russia-driven shift in global currency allegiance that could devastate the economies of the U.S. and Canada.
It is arguable that push for the petroruble is a global issue many times more important to the U.S. than anything that happens in the Ukraine, but American efforts to isolate Russia is actually accelerating the process. The desire is also driving Russia to look to the east instead of Europe for its future prosperity -- aligning with China as both a market for its gas and a partner in undermining the petrodollar. China is already headed there. Its yuan is the second most used currency, ahead of the euro, in international trade settlements. China recently "opened two centers to process yuan-denominated trade flows, one in London and one in Frankfurt."
The emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa are grouped under the acronym BRICS. According to journalist Peter Koenig: "Other countries, especially the BRICS and BRICS-associates (BRICSA), may soon follow suit and join forces with Russia, abandoning the `petrodollar' as trading unit for oil and gas. This could amount to tens of trillions in loss for demand of petrodollars per year." In which case, "leaving an important dent in the U.S. economy would be an understatement," says Koenig. "Along with the new BRICS(A) currency will come a new international payment settlement system, replacing the SWIFT and IBAN exchanges, thereby breaking the hegemony of... the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) in Basle.
by Cat - Nov 3
by gmoke - Oct 31