Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

Introducing the Berwick Brown Bear

by ChrisCook Sun Nov 20th, 2016 at 06:39:01 PM EST

This Diary introduces the Berwick Brown Bear pub project currently gathering pace in historic Berwick-upon-Tweed with its unique Corporation and Guild of Freemen

The aim is for Berwick's emblematic Brown Bear

to illustrate and prove the concept of a new breed of community Pub - the People's Pub Partnership - first conceived a few years ago by Mark Dodds.

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Party and Policy in a Time of Monsters

by ChrisCook Sun Jul 24th, 2016 at 12:36:47 PM EST

The old world is dying and the new world struggles to be born. Now is the time of monsters. Gramsci

This Diary grew out of a response to AR Geezer's LQD: Labour's Civil War Is Due To A Paradigm Shift.

As I have been saying on European Tribune since I first turned up here (which is longer ago than I care to remember) I think we are seeing the emergence of Society (Paradigm) 3.0.

Society 1.0 (which still exists everywhere but most evidently in the developing world) is decentralised/local but disconnected with physical market presence and interaction based on personal trust/credit.

Society 2.0 is centralised but connected, but with presence in the market and in decision making via trusted intermediaries/middlemen, being corporates and nation states respectively.

I see the emerging Society 3.0 as being decentralised but connected, with network presence replacing both physical presence and presence through intermediaries.

The institutions and instruments necessary for such a Society 3.0 have intrigued me and been the subject of my work for well over fifteen years.

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

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Iran's Oil Strategy: Interview in Iranian Magazine "Ayandenegar"

by ChrisCook Mon Nov 2nd, 2015 at 06:05:23 AM EST

From time to time the thoughts of Chairman Cook are published in all sorts of Iranian publications,and this interview on Page 57 of the Iranian energy/finance magazine "Ayandenegar" is my latest.

Since my Farsi is poor, I'm not sure how much of the interview was printed, and to what extent it was edited but the original English text follows.

With your permission I would like firstly to outline my view of the dynamics of modern commodity markets. The market in fossil fuels has exhibited the same cyclical 'Boom and Bust' behaviour historically as any other commodity market. In my analysis there are essentially two price levels or boundaries in commodity markets, and where the commodity is limited in supply both of these boundary levels trend upwards over time.

Firstly, there is a lower boundary level or 'buyer's market' at which supply exceeds demand. The cheapness of the commodity attracts new buyers while producers with high costs shut down production when losses become too great to bear. Meanwhile banks and investors are reluctant to finance new development.

Over time, demand for consumption begins to exceed supply - a 'seller's market' - until the market price eventually reaches the upper boundary level. At this point the combination of new higher cost supply, and demand destruction through substitution or efficiency measures leads to an excess of supply over demand and the price falls to the lower boundary again.

In the case of the oil market this cycle has been amplified by the presence in the market of massive financial buying of commodities supported by debt, derivatives such as futures contracts, and more recently, by passive investment by risk averse investors fearful of price inflation, and investing in commodities in an attempt to preserve the $ value of their capital.

So much for the history, but I must add at this point that I believe that this historic paradigm of boom and bust is now over for good. Due to exclusion by sanctions from both physical and financial markets Iran has a historic opportunity to refuse to rejoin the failed Western oil market paradigm and to lead the transition to a new paradigm.

So with that introduction I will now turn to your questions.

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Oil Market: Follow the Money

by ChrisCook Mon Apr 20th, 2015 at 06:52:34 PM EST

On 13th January the US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) and North Sea (Brent/BFOE) benchmark prices both reached lows and the WTI-Brent spread (differential) closed completely and was temporarily reversed. Since then Brent staged a much stronger recovery than WTI, the former rising $14.7 (32.6%) to 23rd Feb,the latter just $3.64 (7.9%).

So the Spread between the two crude oil qualities - historically within a dollar or so - only briefly regained reality.  

I predicted in early 2012 that the crude oil price would collapse to $45 to $55 per barrel after Quantitative Easing (QE) ended....which it did, but took a lot longer than I thought it would. Moreover, I have long said that the departure of crude oil prices from their historic relationship with natural gas, and the massive blow-outs in the Brent/WTI spread to as high as $27/barrel in 2012 were prima facie evidence of 'macro' oil market manipulation on an almost unimaginable scale.

It is self evident that this $11 increase in the Brent/WTI spread in six weeks had precisely nothing to do with a physical oil market where supply and demand changes relatively slowly and where if anything oversupply has increased to the extent that the US - which is flooded with oil - is increasingly likely to lift its decades long embargo on oil exports.

So what on earth is going on?  

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Oil Market: A Picture Tells A Thousand Words

by ChrisCook Thu Jan 1st, 2015 at 07:56:52 PM EST

I recently posted the second of two stories in 'Tehran Times' on the subject of the recent collapse in oil market prices, which I have been publicly forecasting consistently for over three years, initially at a major conference in Tehran in late 2011, and most recently on November 2nd when the oil price was still over $80/barrel.

Since it seems to have disappeared, I thought I might republish it at European Tribune.

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My Call is Scotland to Vote Yes By A Good Margin

by ChrisCook Sun Sep 14th, 2014 at 01:41:41 AM EST

Here from my Eagle's Nest in Linlithgow, in Scotland's Central Belt, I thought it would be rude not to chip in my thoughts as to next Thursday's referendum vote.

My first data points are historic election turnout figures in Scotland covering both UK & Scottish Parliament Elections.

Election Turnouts 1997 to 2011

Then there's the 2011 Scottish Parliament Election outright win for the SNP which the voting system had pretty much been gerrymandered to prevent. I assume that very few of those voting SNP in 2011 will either abstain or vote No.

frontpaged by afew

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Welcome to the Pornocracy (Part One): the UK Economic Miracle

by ChrisCook Fri Jun 20th, 2014 at 11:07:19 AM EST

I am coming to the irresistible conclusion that the Coalition government is a modern day version of the late Byzantine Pornocracy - government by harlots. This facebook quote was the final straw.

You might not know that job centres and work programme providers are encouraging claimants to take up self-employed status on the basis they can pretend they're working, claim Working Tax Credit and get the same money as they would on Job Seekers Allowance but with no hassle or fear of sanction.

That's where all the new 'jobs' are coming from Cameron crows about, that's why there's a boom in so-called self-employment, and that's why productivity's so low per capita, these people aren't working at all. I assume this is why Ian Duncan-Smith still has a job despite the ongoing absolute chaos at the Dept of Work & Pensions as he's set this all up.

So as automation and austerity do for the UK middle class what Thatcher did for the working class we see an exponentially growing class of intellectual value flowing to a shrinking number of skilled workers (who are next in line for automation) and the holders of the relevant intellectual property.

This charade is of course fine to carry the Pornocracy through to the next election. After which, another crackdown on workshy shirkers while Serco, G4S or whoever is Blame-Taker of the Week.

Comments >> (27 comments)

Three Dimensional Accounting - Chiralkine Redux

by ChrisCook Sun Dec 29th, 2013 at 01:50:44 PM EST

I think that the previous Chiralkine Accounting thread which I kicked off back in April must have generated more comments, heat and acrimony than almost any in ET's history.

But I thought then, and continue to think, that Martin Hay is on to something important, and I promised at some point to post my own thinking on the subject.

I've been pondering the discussion and assimilating Martin's work ever since within my own analysis and world view, and I understand from him that he and his collaborators gained a great deal from the ET experience.

My instinct was that the problem was that Martin's foundational assumptions were mistaken as to the basis of our modern financial system, and this instinct was reinforced by the discussion that took place.

A seasonal update from Martin today gave rise to an 'Aha!' moment when the penny dropped and I was finally able to pull my thoughts together, as follows. This is the responsible extract from Martin's e-mail.

I have realised that if you "resolve" account balances into right and left components, then you can in effect keep a complete history of all currency created, exchanged and redeemed by a person in just a left and a right balance.

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Obama's Conversion

by ChrisCook Sun Oct 13th, 2013 at 06:10:32 AM EST

Joseph Firestone is publishing a series of articles at New Economic Perspectives by way of a response to President Obama' cavalier treatment of suggested options for resolving the US debt ceiling crisis.

Part Two: Coins, the 14th and Consols

Apparently a commenter called Beowulf came up with the idea of Consols, so I thought I would weigh in with a comment, as this is a subject I aired on ET as long ago as August 2009 in the context of Iceland

I'm being a bit more radical by proposing a debt/equity swap on a US scale: Obama's Conversion.

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Energy Standard Redux

by ChrisCook Thu Sep 12th, 2013 at 02:13:02 PM EST

A hat tip here to my friend John Rogers, who has spent a great many years in the trenches working on community currencies.

HG Wells wrote A Modern Utopia in 1905 in which he imagined an economic system that preserved gold as the medium of exchange but NOT as the standard of value, which instead would be based on energy units. Entertaining and interesting!

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Credit, Currency and Other Animals

by ChrisCook Wed Sep 4th, 2013 at 05:09:26 AM EST

Brett Scott, of the excellent Suitpossum blog recently wrote a long and thoughtful article on currency. So you want to invent your own currency?

Since Brett frequents a facebook group in which I participate, I thought I would respond, and the response grew quite a bit to the extent that I thought I would post it here as a Diary.

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Bullshit Markets or Markets in Bullshit?

by ChrisCook Sat Aug 24th, 2013 at 08:02:56 AM EST

David Graeber has just come up with a great meme on the subject of bullshit jobs.

I've been saying for eight years that emissions trading (invented by Enron) is a (bullshit) market invented by middlemen for middlemen.

One of the analogies I have found useful in critiquing this by reference to system inputs and outputs, has been a joking reference to animal inputs and outputs. To wit, if you wish to keep a bull healthy, you don't regulate what comes out of it, you regulate what goes in.

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Introducing Chiralkine Contracts

by ChrisCook Fri Aug 16th, 2013 at 04:06:55 AM EST

I suspect some ET'ers will be interested in the work that Martin Hay is doing on what he describes as Chiralkine contracts, the Resolution of Zero and  
Chiralkine Logic

My instinct is (I am still attempting to entirely grok it, because I don't do abstract) that this is very important work.

It very much seems to tie in with my analysis (Reality-based Economics and the Last Big Thing ) in relation to pervasive confusion and misrepresentation at the heart of modern economics - thanks to two dimensional double-entry book-keeping - between the credit/equity (ownership) and debt relationship

The single entry tally stick is 1-Dimensional: current double-entry accounting is 2-Dimensional: and Martin Hay posits 3-Dimensional (triple entry) accounting.

Ian Grigg - who is pre-eminent in the field of e-payments, crypto and so on - was writing 8 years ago about Triple Entry Book-Keeping. Todd Boyle's netledger was in the same space five years before that, and Satoshi's Bitcoin architecture is very much in this zone.

But I digress.

Martin is essentially pointing out that there are in fact four economic states:

Mine: Not Yours (10);
Yours: Not Mine (01);
Both Mine And Yours (11);
Neither Mine Nor Yours (00).

It's really quite deep: by 'resolving zero' we see that there are two aspects of the Zero state, not a million miles away from two different directions to particle 'spin'.

Anyway, I thought I would introduce Chiralkine concepts to ET'ers for consideration and discussion since I think that 3-D accounting is an important concept. Particularly when we consider the architecture for an emergent next-generation, subject-oriented and people-centric Web 3.0 which may have security and personal control hard-wired into it.

I will invite Martin - whom I recently met at Cumbria University in Lancaster at a conference on community currency - to respond, expand upon and hopefully discuss his ideas.

Comments >> (708 comments)

Post-Modern Fiscal Theory Again

by ChrisCook Sun Jul 21st, 2013 at 05:41:59 AM EST

There was an interesting facebook post in a group I frequent by a thinker on Economics - Kimball Corson.

Thinking Is About as I Expected on the Problem of Monopoly Rents

My post on several economic related websites challenging the sufficiency of of a single tax on land, in addition to getting me kicked off the LVT (Land Value Tax) website, has brought to the fore a very serious point: there is little coherency and agreement on how to attack the monopoly rents problem in the American economic system. There is even disagreement on what and where they are. If such groups members were to the given equal power correct matters tomorrow, they very clearly would not know how to proceed. That is how diffuse, confused and dispersed their thinking is on these matters which we all agree are serious. Why this result?

My view is that economic literacy among members is not what it could be. There are myriad disparate views on too much. Economic misunderstandings abound. While that is not surprising given the level of economic training and thinking among most members, it is nonetheless distressing. The pinnacle of irony is for one well trained in economics to be told by one who is not that he doesn't understand much economics. That is bizarre, but so it goes. The economics of too many is simply "home brew" with too little reading and study to back it up. This deficiency does not however, mitigate the strong economic views held or how erstwhiledly they are vocalized.

The reason I posted the article contending that a single tax on land is not sufficient to attack the monopoly rent problem was to flush out the disparate views in the area. I knew everyone would run to the fore with their own thoughts and we would see how disparate and confused many are. I was proved correct and, of course, attacked along the way. I expected as much, although not to be booted off the LTV site. I think that is more than a bit extreme, but so is some of the thinking there. I have no interest in remaining an LTV member for multiple reasons, so nothing is lost to me.

It has been an interesting exercise but it shows what the chances are Americans will rise up united and force a solution to the problem. They are approaching zero. This has to delight the oligarchs because the economic thinking, poor as it is on these FB sites, is clearly much better on average than among the American populace at large.

My response follows.

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Personal Operating Systems and a Subject-oriented Web

by ChrisCook Fri Mar 29th, 2013 at 11:55:11 AM EST

Saving data donkeys in quicksand is an interesting BBC article in relation to the phenomenon of data tagging.

A friend of mine worked out the importance of generic subjective tagging for messaging (of all types) about 10 years ago, but could never engage with anyone to develop the resulting applications he also developed. Among other things, these would essentially finish off what's left of the existing business model of advertisers, and in turn mean that the likes of Google and Facebook would have to move on from their existing business models.

But because of the voracious and ruthless nature of the corporate players involved and the pernicious regime of IP rights and law, the concepts were not implemented, although the elements which he had far-sightedly analysed are now beginning to emerge.

From that perspective and experience, I think that where tagging will lead is to a simple 'personal operating system' resident on personal devices, and which will connect - with the minimum of complex code - directly to decentralised/distributed data-bases.

The only central assets would be servers which resolve:

(a) basic personal identity to a market/enterprise/group identity ; and

(b) machine identity to market identity ie what I have for years termed a 'Dot Market' model with a market-specific domain such as Dot Oil, or Dot Gas.

This raises the Big Brother issue of who can be trusted with such servers, and maybe the former might be domiciled in (say) Iceland, and the latter in (say) Switzerland.

Individuals only have one basic personal ID, but they may potentially have thousands of market-specific, enterprise-specific and group-specific IDs.

Their basic personal ID is only physically located in one place at one time, which adds in the possibility of generic geo-authentication of transactions - ie mapping mobile device locations to static machine locations.  This brings another Big Brother issue of who can be trusted with that data.

Attempting to create a Semantic Web on an object-oriented machine-centric basis has always seemed to me to be a dead end, where increasingly sophisticated algorithms have attempted to derive meaning from data objects by reference to experience. But tagging is different and subjective or subject-oriented, because only you know what you mean, and will tag using language as you see fit.

I believe that we are in a transition from a complex, centralised, fragile, machine-centric Web 2.0 to a simple, decentralised, resilient, people-centric Web 3.0.

Comments >> (8 comments)

The Case for Cypriot National Equity

by ChrisCook Wed Mar 27th, 2013 at 06:30:22 PM EST

Yesterday I had a guest post on the FT Alphaville Blog

Cyprus - the Case for Cypriot National Equity
The second attempt to resolve the unsustainable debt burden of Cyprus's over-leveraged banks spreads the pain differently to the disastrous initial attempt, but looks likely to leave Cyprus as an economic wasteland for generations. Frances Coppola outlined brilliantly yesterday the sort of financial disaster zone which Cypriots can expect.

Cyprus, in common with many other countries, but far more urgently, requires resolution and transition: Resolution of existing debt; and transition to a sustainable and low carbon economy. Surely there must be a better way of achieving this?

Well, my research leads me to conclude that there was; there is; and there will be again; if Cyprus ceases to attempt to resolve 21st century problems with 20th century solutions and instead uses an updated version of a financial instrument which pre-dates modern debt and equity finance capital.

In this post I will suggest how the Cyprus National Debt may be resolved into a Cyprus National Equity... but not equity as we know it.

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Value, Utility and an Energy Economy

by ChrisCook Sat Feb 16th, 2013 at 10:34:23 AM EST

The following quote on a thread piqued my interest and the response which follows below the line.

Value is always subjective, utility objective. Utility acquires value only if by becoming scarce, someone will pay for its provision.

In my analysis, Value - like Beauty, Quality and many other concepts - is an aspect of Reality and may be defined only in relative terms by reference to a standard unit of measure of Value or 'unit of account'.

NB: one can no more have a scarcity of units of account than one can have a scarcity of kilogrammes (standard unit of measure for weight) or metres (standard unit of measure for length).

A scarcity of currency, on the other hand is necessary - we are told by most economists - for that currency to maintain its value.

My somewhat sprawling response builds upon my metaphysical assumptions that the three sources of Value, through their utility over time, are:

(a) Location - immaterial 3D Space;

(b) Energy - material (static) and dynamic forms;

(c) Intellect - (subjective - which dies with us) and objective (data patterns).

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Clash of the Titans

by ChrisCook Wed Jan 30th, 2013 at 03:09:12 AM EST

There is an interesting BBC article today [26-01-2013] on the subject of Bank of England £1m ('Giant') and £100m ('Titan') notes.

front-paged by afew

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LQD: Radical Abundance - Cold Fusion Time

by ChrisCook Sat Jan 12th, 2013 at 05:38:36 AM EST

I am posting this Youtube clip of a lecture by one Dr Iwamura with the following comment from someone with a nom de plume of 'Dlight Sky'.

Talk about Radical Abundance! Thanks for finding this, it's the best talk by Iwamura I've seen so far. It's obvious that this is very mature technology. It's cool to see that they are now able to create platinum from tungsten (almost like creating gold from lead). Since tungsten costs about $50 per kilo and platinum about $3000 per kilo there is potential to make money with this technology, if significant quantities could be produced.

Interestingly Mitusubishi Heavy Industries is primarily interested in the technology for transmutation of radioactive waste from conventional nuclear reactors into non-radioactive elements

Because of this focus they haven't done much work on turning this into an energy-producing technology which it clearly has the potential to be. This is a clean fusion reaction which produces very little radiation.

This looks like an ordinary talk, but it's describing a massive paradigm shift showing a technology that has the potential to solve the world's energy problems. It has clearly proven that nuclear fusion can take place inside of a metal lattice at very low energy states. Most of his experiments don't require any input power at all.

Unfortunately his experiments have been associated with "cold fusion" (which it is) and are relatively unknown outside of a small circle. Also if the military grabs on to this, which they probably have, they likely keep any successes to themselves.

However one can see from the talk that this is quite mature technology, and they have used many sophisticated setups with an array of different sensors to verify the results.

Once commercialized, when we buy a new car it will come pre-loaded with a bit of cesium and heavy water and we will be able to run the car for its whole life without ever needing to re-fuel.

This mature technology is already here. No pollution, no mess, no fuss. It should have spawned a gigantic wave of research, but for some reason hasn't yet. There is a apparently a deep obstacle operating here, whether it's conceptual, spiritual or emotional--mankind simply isn't ready to receive this incredible gift yet.

I'd be interested in what our resident physicists and cynics have to say.

Comments >> (66 comments)

What is the Point of a Bitcoin?

by ChrisCook Wed Jan 9th, 2013 at 06:01:23 AM EST

I've never been able to understand why anyone would regard a Bitcoin as having any value, since it is evidence of past (useless) work and energy expenditure with no value other than the creation of a Bitcoin.

Mind you, it is generally accepted that a Bitcoin is made valuable purely by its acceptability to Bitcoin participants as currency. ie it is completely 'faith-based'.

Do Not Throw Stones At This Notice comes to mind in terms of pointless circularity.

In respect of faith-based value - rather than value which derives from use value over time - a Bitcoin as a value token is not dissimilar to gold, of course, but at least gold has amenity value, being nice to look at for a few million years, and possessing some specialised uses.

There's an interesting fork of Bitcoin as well - Freicoin - which introduces Gesell's concept of 'money that rusts' (demurrage) in order to discourage hoarding and encourage spending.

Bitcoin's P2P architecture on the other hand? Now that is valuable: and I haven't even mentioned anonymity and Big Government.

For me, the challenge is to create a unit of account, platform, framework/protocol and generally acceptable instruments (currency) which combine credit, utility and trust.

I think that to do so is both completely necessary and achievable, and moreover represents what is now an implementable Adjacent Possible.

frontpaged by afew

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