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by A swedish kind of death
Mon Sep 15th, 2014 at 09:20:30 AM EST
This did not end well.
Looked good half a year ago with the left in the lead, but now my facebook flow is filled with grief.
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.
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by Frank Schnittger
Thu Sep 11th, 2014 at 04:18:10 AM EST
Luis de Sousa's excellent diary has provoked a long comment by me saying a lot of things I've been meaning to say for some time, but which are not all a direct response to his thoughts. So I think a separate diary is merited analyzing what has changed in the Scottish Independence debate.
What I think has shifted the debate in Scotland is the realization that institutions and assets which they had always been told were British, were in fact English.
Thus the Pound Sterling belongs to England (the central bank name: Bank of England should have been a giveaway). The military bases and manufacturing facilities in Scotland will be moved south - proving that the Army and associated industries belong to England not all of Britain. And the general sense that the Scots will have to develop all institutions and skills of Governance from scratch - as if Scots have had no hand act or part of the Departments of State in Whitehall.
In other words the implied blackmail of taking all these things away has only confirmed that Scotland was being ruled not just from, but by, England in the first place. Parties to a divorce normally split their joint assets and one party cannot claim virtually all the house and contents as their own: and yet this is partly what the No campaign have been claiming.
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by Luis de Sousa
Tue Sep 9th, 2014 at 04:28:55 AM EST
Thursday the 18th Scotland is going to vote what may well be the most important political decision in several centuries for itself and the UK. The reasons that prompted this process are many: the perception of a slow derision of Scottish identity and culture, the crystallisation of the UK's democracy (where non elected individuals still retain important powers), natural resources, budget sharing, NATO, just to name a few.
I am not Scottish, nor do I live in Scotland, thus I can not possibly fathom everything driving the vote. But one exercise I can make: assess the economic risks associated with the decision. And by doing so the complexity of this question becomes apparent, as so how uncertain is the outcome.
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by Crazy Horse
Sat Sep 6th, 2014 at 08:23:01 AM EST
A US judge has ruled that BP is guilty of gross negligence in the Deepwater oil catastrophe. If upheld (of course BP will appeal) it will increase the fine from $1100/barrel to $4300/barrel, totaling an estimated $18 Billion.
BP had already plead guilty to 14 felonies, with a fine of $4.5B in a plea bargain with the US Gov! (Yes, felonies.)
So how does one count the number of barrels already spilled, especially when BP publicly stated it was leaking 5000 barrels/day, while internal reports stated the leak could be between 62,000 and 146,000 barrels per day?
A colleague of mine has now reported for the first time the effects of using as "dispersant" Corexit, both on the health of some 47,000 cleanup workers, and how the amount of oil spilled was camouflaged.
Read on to discover why I continue to use the word poison in describing fossil fuels.
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Thu Sep 4th, 2014 at 08:46:17 AM EST
If you thought the ECB setting its deposit rate at negative 0.10% was the end of the road for interest-rate policy, you got another think coming:
4 September 2014 - Monetary policy decisions
At today's meeting the Governing Council of the ECB took the following monetary policy decisions:
The President of the ECB will comment on the considerations underlying these decisions at a press conference starting at 2.30 p.m. CET today.
- The interest rate on the main refinancing operations of the Eurosystem will be decreased by 10 basis points to 0.05%, starting from the operation to be settled on 10 September 2014.
- The interest rate on the marginal lending facility will be decreased by 10 basis points to 0.30%, with effect from 10 September 2014.
- The interest rate on the deposit facility will be decreased by 10 basis points to -0.20%, with effect from 10 September 2014.
How deep does the rabbit hole go?
Sat Aug 30th, 2014 at 04:09:42 AM EST
Posted by Frances Coppola on Aug 27th 2014, 2 Comments
This is the first of several posts covering topics discussed at the recent Lindau Meeting for Economic Sciences.
Several economists at the Lindau meeting were severely critical of central banks' conduct of monetary policy in the light of continuing depression in the US, Japan and much of Europe, and called for greater use of fiscal policy to bring about recovery. Among the most critical was Christopher Sims, who gave a trenchant presentation on "Inflation, Fear of Inflation and Public Debt".
He started by announcing the death of the quantity theory of money, MV=PY. Due to interest on reserves and near-zero interest rates, "money" can no longer be clearly distinguished from other financial assets. This is a fundamental point which requires some explanation.
These days, nearly all forms of money bear interest, which makes them indistinguishable from interest-bearing assets. For Sims, the paying of interest on bank reserves, coupled with the decline of physical currency, all but eliminates the distinction between interest-bearing safe assets such as Treasury bills and what we traditionally call "money". All assets can be regarded as "money" to a greater or lesser extent: the extent to which assets have "moneyness" is really a matter of liquidity.
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by Xavier in Paris
Fri Aug 29th, 2014 at 06:49:49 AM EST
In english books:
In french books:
To follow on my comment in a previous thread: Hollande has been at economical scholl in the 70s, which corresponds in both graphs to a minimum in Keynes hype vs a maximum in Friedman's. And yes, France seems to be be much more keynesianite than the US/UK...
note: if somebody manages to insert an iframe in a comment thread, I'd be glad to transfer this "diary" to the thread it belongs.
Tue Aug 26th, 2014 at 04:38:23 PM EST
The Tricorder XPrize (http://www.qualcommtricorderxprize.org) is a $10 million contest
"to bring healthcare to the palm of your hand.
Imagine a portable, wireless device in the palm of your hand that monitors and diagnoses your health conditions. That's the technology envisioned by this competition, and it will allow unprecedented access to personal health metrics."
22 teams have paid the $5000 entry fee, 10 finalists will be chosen, up to 10 models will be tested by consumers May-October 2015, and the winning entry will be announced by December 2015.
One of the entries is Scanadu which seems to have a "$150 tricorder" already on the market
"The Scanadu SCOUT is incredibly easy to use--just raise the handheld device (connected by Bluetooth to a smartphone) to your temple, and wait 10 seconds for it to scan your vital signs, including temperature, ECG, SPO2, heart rate, breathing rate, and pulse transit time (that helps measure blood pressure). 'It lets the consumer explore all the diagnostic possibilities of an emergency room,' explains co-founder Walter De Brouwer, a Belgian futurist and entrepreneur who first prototyped a backpack-sized tricorder-like device in the late 1990s."
University of Florida's wireless and remote vital signs monitoring system may be available (for pets) as early as 2016:
Fri Aug 22nd, 2014 at 04:42:03 PM EST
For those who notice, the bad pun is intentional...
From Pieria - an alarming piece that suggests Italian is basically doomed:
Anyone with an interest in government finances and public spending must, by now, have developed a morbid fascination with Italy.
The country slid into recession again this month, wiping out not only its post-recession growth but much of its growth since it joined the Euro.
Chart via Matt O'Brien at the Washington Post.
The pattern of Italy's GDP growth has become detached from that of the rest of the G7. Since the crash, all the other major economies have grown, albeit at different rates. Italy, though, is on a severe downward slide.
Chart via Ben Chu.
Some people blame the Euro for this but Italy was in trouble before it joined the single currency. Both Italy and the UK crashed out of the ERM in 1992. For the UK, this was the start of a decade of high growth but Italy's economy stalled in the years after and grew much more slowly for the rest of the decade. Briefly, in 1991, Italy overtook Britain and France to become the world's 4th largest economy. Since then, though, it has been a tale of slow decline.
The Italian government had borrowed heavily during the boom years and the slowdown saw its debt-to-GDP levels steadily rise.
Chart via Paul Krugman
This excellent piece by Economics Help explains the story in detail. The upshot, though, was that by the start of the recession, Italy's debt was way ahead of most of the other major economies.
Source: IMF World Economic Outlook 2014
But here's the twist. Italy reduced its deficits drastically in the 1990s. For many years now, it has run a primary surplus. This means that, before debt interest, its government revenue is higher than its public spending. Unlike many other countries, including Britain and the USA, it is not borrowing to fund public services and social security.
Chart via Igor Di Giovanni
It is, however, having to borrow to fund the debt repayments on its historic borrowing which is why, despite its primary surplus, it is still running a deficit and its debt is still going up.
Thu Aug 21st, 2014 at 09:52:49 AM EST
Continuing my review of Wolfgang Streeck's Buying Time : The delayed crisis of democratic capitalism. (The first installment is here)
I want to strongly recommend reading the book. Streeck is a philosopher and sociologist, and his take on economics is a refreshing re-injection of the social element that orthodox economics so rigorously excludes and ignores. My feeling is that, in the fightback against neoliberalism, "Buying Time" is as important as, and convergent with, Thomas Piketty's "Capital".
Chapter 2 : Neoliberal reform : from tax state to debt state
Streeck documents the progressive disenfranchising of actual electors, as each nation's creditors gain the whip hand after the transformation of our "tax states" into "debt states", and aggressively counters the neo-liberal meme that the slide into debt has been the product of demagogic profligacy.
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Tue Aug 19th, 2014 at 08:04:19 AM EST
European Commissioner for Employment Laszlo Andor gave an interview to German conservative newspaper Die Welt (behind subs wall, and not much available in Eng-lang media as of posting):
Luxemburger Wort - Brussels pleads with Germany to let wages rise
AFP) Germany must increase workers' salaries to help its neighbours out of the economic slump, the European Union's employment commissioner Laszlo Andor said Saturday.
The Hungarian said Berlin's big foreign trade surplus was hurting its European partners, and urged it to stimulate domestic demand by increasing wages and public expenditure.
"The rise in salaries has fallen behind the rise in productivity in Germany" for more than a decade, Andor told the German conservative daily Die Welt, in an interview due to be published on Sunday.
Brussels was now urging Germany, the EU's economic powerhouse, to relax its iron grip on wages, which he said was "indispensible" for the recovery of the rest of the region.
"It would be better if salaries rise in parallel with productivity," Andor added.
His comments come amid signs of stalling growth in the 18-member eurozone, particularly its largest economies Germany and France, as the bloc struggles to recover from years of financial crisis.
Brussels now appears to be taking a view long championed by France that a rise in German salaries would give the struggling eurozone a much-needed stimulus.
France's President Francois Hollande this month called on Berlin to boost spending as "the best favour Germany could do for France and for Europe" to help growth.
"It's very important that Germany increases public spending, stimulates demand and reduces its excessive trade surplus, which is hurting its European neighbours," Andor said.
Hollande (as reported) made feeble noises in this sense at the beginning of the month. Official communications in France, echoed by the MSM, say that Hollande's policy is to bring together European social democrats to militate for a change of direction on austerity. But Andor is particularly clear... and a Commissioner.
The ball is in Angie's court. Will she smash it? Ignore it? Send back a spin shot? Place your bets.
Fri Aug 15th, 2014 at 12:53:53 PM EST
Wolfgang Streeck, leading figure of the Frankfurt school of philosophy, has published an incisive and compelling analysis of the interplay between capitalism and democracy in the developed world over the past forty years or so : Buying Time : The delayed crisis of democratic capitalism.
Eurotrib having been offered a copy, I have undertaken to review it. I feel suited to the task because I have nothing but an autodidact's random smattering of economics, sociology and philosophy, and will mostly restrict myself to a naïve synthesis of Streeck's theses, leaving my far more erudite and insightful readers to do the serious work. I will resist quoting directly from the text because I wouldn't know where to stop; everything is eminently quotable, written with admirable clarity and humour, nicely translated, a constant pleasure to read.
The book, based on the 2012 Adorno lectures, was published last year in Germany, and the English translation (by Patrick Camiller) has just been published by Verso, an imprint of New Left Books. It can be ordered in physical form from the publisher, or electronically from Amazon, iTunes, or Nook. (Yes, it's buying "Buying time" time).
The three chapters correspond to the three lectures on which they are based. Despite the book's relative brevity (less than 200 pages, excluding the extensive bibliography and index) I propose to do a diary on each chapter; each one is of sufficient density to merit discussion.
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by Frank Schnittger
Thu Aug 7th, 2014 at 12:59:00 PM EST
Usually when I write a diary it is because I want to present a thesis and make an argument; one I have not seen expressed elsewhere, but one which I think has at least some evidence pointing in its favour. My hope is that commentators here will either debunk the thesis or present further supporting facts/arguments.
Thus in Time for Europe to get real I presented the argument that if the EU has a problem with Russian actions in Ukraine, the appropriate response is not sanctions, but a strategic plan to reduce European energy dependence on Russian gas.
In An Irish perspective on Scottish Independence, I expressed surprise at the lack of debate on the case for and against Scottish indepence both here and elsewhere outside the UK, and tried to fill some of that gap by providing a perspective based on the Irish historical experience of independence.
And in Merkel, Putin & Obama: The changing balance of power I tried to present a thesis that the USA has engaged in imperial over-reach and has alienated many potential allies in the process, so much so that Merkel and Putin may even be driven to reach an historic rapprochement in an effort to restore some sanity and balance to world affairs.
I am very grateful to the many commentators here and elsewhere who have added to our collective knowledge of these topics, but also a bit non-plussed that two of the last three diary discussion threads have been largely taken over by a discussion of the causes of the MH17 tragedy, especially after Colman had already published a front page story on that subject.
Wed Aug 6th, 2014 at 02:39:31 PM EST
Most likely the Dutch government has received intelligence of increased violence in the Donetsk region. Ukranian warplanes straved the city of Donetsk last night. Ukraine has used ballistic missiles in their attack on the anti-Kiev rebels in eastern Ukraine. Russia has advanced 20,000 troops along the border with Ukraine. There is a chance Putin will decide to intervene on the U.N. principle of R2P, the Right to Protect.
Russia has asked for the U.N. Security Council to meet about the worsening humanitarian situation for the Russian-speaking population.
○ NOS: Recovery Mission Stopped and NRC news blog
○ Transcript PM Rutte: 'Repatriëringsmissie in huidige vorm gestaakt' [Dutch]
○ Dutch Safety Board OvV - report of flight recorders delayed by weeks, does not meet official deadline
My earlier report today ...
Nieuwsuur August 5, 2014
Airlift cargo from Eindhoven, The Netherlands to Kharkiv, Ukraine in joint Dutch/Australian MH-17 Recovery Mission.
Australian cargo planes 24/7 continu flights from Eindhoven to Kharkiv loaded with 100 ton goods. Presumably for medical facilities, six ambulances, a humvee armored vehicle. Two planes are in use. Any idea if more than medical/rescue goods are involved?
Facebook RAAF: Operation Bring Them Home
The Royal Australia Air Force contribution to Operation Bring Them Home has continued, with a C-17A Globemaster transporting medical equipment and supplies into the Ukraine on August 1st, 2014. The Australian Government continues to work alongside Dutch and Ukrainian authorities to ensure the swift identification and repatriation of victims of the MH17 tragedy. (See photos}
Two Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) C-17A Globemasters and a KC-30A Multi Role Tanker Transport, all from RAAF Base Amberley near Brisbane, sit on the tarmac at Eindhoven Airfield.
NATO/European Strategic Airlift Capability (SAC). Heavy Airlift C-17 supports MH17 ops
NATO says Russian invasion is imminent
Further updates below the fold …
by Frank Schnittger
Wed Aug 6th, 2014 at 04:11:13 AM EST
The USA has been the undisputed Global superpower since the collapse of the Soviet Union; dominating the world militarily, politically, economically and culturally. In recent times China has begun to make some inroads into that economic dominance, Russia has begun to become more assertive again, and Merkel has consolidated her position as undisputed leader of the Eurozone. But the most significant changes have possibly been within the USA itself.
First came 9/11 which punctured the sense of American invincibility: that the US could do what it liked abroad without it having much in the way of repercussions at home. In military terms the event wasn't all that significant: 3,000 deaths is all in a weeks work in some of the bloodier conflicts around the world. But what was significant was the reaction: America went collectively mad.
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Tue Aug 5th, 2014 at 01:41:22 PM EST
I can hardly believe how Frans Timmermans has changed from a PvdA (Labor party) parlementarian to an establishment Foreign Minister and placing all blame on Hamas in the Gaza conflict. He even suggests to let the Palestinian Authority rule over all Gazans as a first step towards security for Israel. It's a sad, sad day for Dutch politics and the Partij van de Arbeid, Dutch Labor Party of Drees and Den Uyl. Dutch society has changed and has adapted to the presence of Geert Wilders and the default position of anti-Islam. The FM of the Dutch cabinet toeing the narritive line of conservative politics in Europe and the United States on Israel.
An astonishing fact in his writing, in the article Jews are written with capital letter J, for the muslims that would be just too much of equality, he used a lower case letter. Link via Facebook page Frans Timmermans.
"Palestinian Authority must lead in an unity coalition in Gaza," according to minister Frans Timmermans in today's NRC newspaper.
Tuesday, 5 August 2014
The images of the suffering in Gaza are branded on our retina. The number of civilian casualties is difficult to comprehend, as well as the apparent inability make it end. This unacceptable tragedy repeats itself every few years, without the result, pursued by Hamas with the rain of missiles, or by Israel with the bombardments, getting any closer. The fate of the Gazans is not improved, Israel's security cannot be guaranteed as durable. Only the hatred, the fear and the hopelessness is fueled by it.
Without the Iron Dome missile shield, the rain of rockets coming from Gaza would have claimed many lives. [FALSE] Israel has the right to defend itself and uses the principle that civilian casualties should be avoided wherever possible. Despite this, and despite the most modern weapons, a very high number of civilian casualties is the result. The consequences of the attacks on Gaza are that UN schools and even hospitals are hit. That is unacceptable and contrary to the careful conduct which the Israeli army said to pursue. In all these incidents, independent investigation must be done. Israel should be held to the standard that it itself says to pursue.
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Dutch Prime Minister Opposes Water Boycott [he says] Reality is quite harsh for Netanyahu!
Timmermans and the PvdA used to be solidair with the suffering of the Palestinian people under occupation
Continued below the fold ...
Sat Aug 2nd, 2014 at 05:34:46 AM EST
Where is U.S. Foreign policy drafted? In think-tanks, billionaires, political friends and business alliances? WTF
U.S. Anti-Iran Lobby Group Accused of Mossad Ties
(Tikun Olam) - The New York Times reports a blockbuster story about the anti-Iran lobby group, United Against a Nuclear Iran (UANI). It's an especially perfidious group supporting regime change, though it couches its approach in terms of opposing Iran' nuclear program. Curiously, this is precisely the same way Israel's far-right government disguises its own support for the violent overthrow of the Iranian government. Knowing that such a plan is not supported by the west including the Obama administration, they believe that they can paint Iran as enough of a threat to the world through it's alleged plans to create nuclear weapons, that this will get them half-way to regime change.
UANI specializes in "outing" companies which allegedly violate UN sanctions against Iran. The Times article revealed that the companies are usually approached by an Israeli "fixer" with close ties to the Mossad. He's Rami Ungar, owner of an Israeli company, Ray Shipping, who's worth $500-million.
Ungar gives them an opportunity to renounce their supposed trade with Iran. Sometimes they're extorted for a donation to UANI as well. Though the article doesn't mention it, I'm certain that the Mossad intermediary probes for companies that will serve Israel's interests in its fight against Iran. Companies doing business with Iran who are willing to become Mossad assets are worth their weight in gold, since the Iranians trust them and Israel can use such trust to sabotage whatever aspect of the Iranian military or commercial interests the sanctions-buster participates in.
U.S. Justice Dept. Moves to Shield Anti-Iran Group's Files United Against a Nuclear Iran
Continued below the fold ...
by Frank Schnittger
Wed Jul 30th, 2014 at 08:51:50 PM EST
Scotland votes in an independence referendum on 18 September.
Whilst the debate on independence is hotting up in Scotland, I have been surprised at the lack of discussion both here and in Ireland. Indeed Irish Government Ministers have been briefed to avoid commenting on the issue one way or the other. So far the major "external" interventions have been by the British Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, saying that an independent Scotland can't have the "British pound", and outgoing EC President Barosso saying that Scotland can't take continued EU membership for granted. Both have been seen as somewhat maladroit attempts to bully Scotland into remaining within the UK.
For those interested in following the debate in Scotland more closely, a good summary can be found here. I am interested in discussing the issue primarily from an Irish perspective, but hope this diary will provoke a broader discussion here.
On the face of it, you would expect Ireland to be exhibit A in any discussion on the feasibility of an independent Scotland: after all Ireland and Scotland are close neighbours, share a somewhat similar Celtic cultural background and language, and are of remarkably similar size in terms of GDP, area and population (Ireland 162 Billion, 84,421 km², 4.6 M; Scotland 161 Billion, 78,387 km², 5.3M).
However from what I can see, Ireland has barely featured in the discussion. I suspect that the demise of the Celtic Tiger and the embarrassing bank bail-out has reduced Ireland to the rather wayward cousin no one mentions to avoid embarrassment all round. Indeed the referendum could not have been timed better from the point of view of advocates of the Union, what with Ireland having fallen from grace, and the EU and Euro generally seen as being in something of a mess.
But if you were trying to articulate a view on Scottish independence based on the Irish experience, what would it be?
Mon Jul 28th, 2014 at 06:22:17 PM EST
Israel was undertaking an "appropriate and legitimate effort" to defend itself but the consequences were of deep concern, Kerry said. President Obama made it clear: "Israel has a right to defend itself."
US fuming over Israeli criticism of Kerry
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Obama administration pushed back strongly at a torrent of Israeli criticism over Secretary of State John Kerry's latest bid to secure a cease-fire with Hamas, accusing some in Israel of launching a "misinformation campaign" against the top American diplomat.
"It's simply not the way partners and allies treat each other," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.
Her comments were echoed by the White House, where National Security Adviser Susan Rice said the U.S. was "dismayed" by mischaracterizations of Kerry's efforts. Israeli media reports have cast Kerry as seeking a cease-fire that is more favorable to Hamas and being dismissive of key Israeli concerns.
« click for more info
Rice Attempts to Quell Concerns Over US-Israel Relations (Arutz Sheva)
Kerry himself, in a speech to the Center for American Progress, noted the criticism but did not give ground.
Poll: 86.5% of Israelis oppose cease-fire
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