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This, my friends, is why we can't have nice things

by Migeru Wed Nov 26th, 2014 at 04:59:44 PM EST

Earlier today in the European Parliament, Jean Claude-Juncker introduced his much-touted €300bn investment plan with these words:

I often hear that we need 'fresh' money. What I believe we really need is a fresh start and fresh investment. Others say we need more debt. We do not. National budgets are already stretched. The EU operates on balanced budgets and the abundant liquidity can allow Europe to grow without creating new debt. We will not betray our children and grandchildren and write more checks that they will ultimately have to pay off. We will not betray the rules of the Stability and Growth Pact that we have agreed jointly - this is a matter of credibility.

cross-posted on The Court Astrologer

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Bail-In? Will The Chute Open?

by ARGeezer 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.

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Austrian groundhog decade

by Cyrille Mon Nov 24th, 2014 at 05:22:27 AM EST

Via Paul Krugman, I see that Peter Schiff had this to say:

"The truth is that high levels of unemployment are historically correlated with higher inflation and low levels of unemployment with lower inflation. That is because an economy that more fully utilizes labor resources is more productive. More production brings down prices."

What??? Leave aside that pretty much everything in the Austrian worldview has been thoroughly refuted by evidence over the past 7 years -actually they will force you to leave it aside as they claim that Austrian economics is pure logic that is not refutable by evidence (handy, isn't it). Just look at the statement and... what???

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MSM Corruption and Capture Illustrated!

by ARGeezer 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.

Thrive Solar®

by gmoke Wed Nov 19th, 2014 at 01:27:02 PM EST

On Friday 11/14/14, Ranganayakulu Bodavula Ph D, Chairman and Managing Director of Thrive® Solar Energy Pvt Ltd (http://www.thriveenergy.co.in), spoke at Harvard's Center for Population Studies (http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/population-development/).  On Monday 11/17/14, he spoke to the MIT student group, e4Dev [Energy for Development] (http://e4dev.tumblr.com).  

Thrive Solar Energy Pvt Ltd is a leading solar powered LED lighting solutions provider from India, offering

"14 types of solar powered LED lights that cater to the lighting needs of children, women, households and villages. Its lights are used by tea estate workers, farmers, weavers, vendors, dairy and any other village level vocation that is in need of a clean, safe and reliable light. Thrive Solar partners with NGOs, women Self Help Groups (SHGs), Micro Finance Institutions (MFIs), funding agencies, banks, donors, educational institutions and businesses to promote and distribute its lighting products to bottom of the pyramid (BOP) communities, located in off-grid and intermittently grid connected geographies."

Thrive is making 2 million lights per year at a price as low as $2 per lamp and are projecting 4 million per year production soon.  They do not sell directly to consumers but through the different agencies with which they work.  Nearly half of India still uses 12 lumen candles and 40 lumen kerosene lamps which can be replaced with 60 lumen solar lights.  Currently, the Indian government subsidizes kerosene and paraffin prices by $6 billion per year.  Thrive says it can provide solar lights to every Indian family now for about $1 billion.  

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Joschka Fischer on Vision

by Migeru Fri Nov 7th, 2014 at 01:42:54 AM EST

Tageszeitung has an interview with Joschka Fischer this [Nov 1st..Ed] weekend: ,,Der erste Schritt ist eine Vision" (the first step is a vision, 31 October 2014) on the occasion of his new book advocating a United States of Europe. To the charge that he's being unrealistic in that, he answers with

Woran die EU gegenwärtig krankt, sieht man in allen drei großen aktuellen Krisen: Sowohl in den Sicherheitskrisen in Osteuropa, im Nahen und Mittleren Osten als auch in der Finanzkrise fehlt Europa die politische Kraft, der feste politische Rahmen. Die EU als Staatenverbund reicht dafür nicht mehr aus! Und wie immer in Europa ist der erste Schritt der Realpolitik eine Vision. Wenn ich Frau Merkel etwas vorwerfen muss, ist das ihre visionslose Kleine-Schritte-Politik. Ich habe nichts gegen kleine Schritte, im Gegenteil. Aber man muss wissen, wo das Ziel ist.
We see the present sickness of the EU in all three major current crises: in the security crises in Eastern Europe and the Middle East as well as in the financial crisis, Europe lacks political power or a strong political framework. The EU as a union of states no longer suffices! And as always in Europe, the first step of Realpolitik is a vision. If I have to accuse Mrs. Merkel of something it is her visionless baby-step politics. I have nothing against baby steps, on the contrary. But you have to know what the goal is.
More below the fold

promoted by afew

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Transatlantic Solidarity Deals a Blow to US Right Wing Group ALEC

by ManfromMiddletown Thu Nov 6th, 2014 at 02:14:09 PM EST

There is some rare good news today in American politics. ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, a right wing organization dedicated to bringing neoliberal policies, and worse to US state governments, has lost a major donor.  

SAP, a German-based firm with regional offices in the U.S., said Thursday that it will "immediately disassociate itself" from ALEC, the conservative coalition of state legislators and corporations that has come under fire in recent months for its opposition to environmental regulations.

"SAP has decided to immediately disassociate itself from ALEC," a company representative said in a statement given to the left-leaning Center for Media and Democracy and obtained by National Journal. "The membership had been under review for some time and is now being canceled."

When asked if the decision was because of ALEC's conservative stance on climate change, the representative replied, "Not only [that] position, on gun control and voter rights as well." ALEC has historically been tied to pushing looser gun control and stricter voter identification laws, but says it no longer works on social policies.

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How right the Keynesians are gonna be?

by das monde Mon Nov 3rd, 2014 at 11:28:53 AM EST

I was writing a comment to the diary "LQD: How Depressingly Right We Have Been", but the quotation became substantially long even abbreviated. Hence this diary.

There was another recent diary, on Krugman's argument about GDP growth and limiting carbon emissions. A couple of Krugman's posts sparked steady reaction from the Post Carbon Institute and such. I noticed an ongoing series of articles from one blog, particularly. It mixed edgy enmity towards Krugman and liberals with eventually some relevant line of thought.

Sufficient Liberal Stories -- The Krugman Function Part 4 -- Transition Milwaukee

On the face of it, Paul Krugman appears entirely confident in the future of the American way of life and the growth of a globally inclusive economy. He is similarly confident in our ability to address climate change by running that economy on renewable energy.

This needs two significant qualifications. First, it is unclear whether this is what Krugman hopes, or what he expects [...] Second, Krugman's optimism is clearly dependent on the ability of political liberals to get wrong-headed, fuzzy-thinking conservatives out of the way [...]

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Whatever happened to Ukraine's treasury?

by Luis de Sousa Sat Nov 1st, 2014 at 01:20:45 PM EST

The story of the Ukraine crisis can be told in many ways, but the gas supply is perhaps the most important starting point. Half of the gas that transits from Russia to the European Union flows through multiple pipelines striping Ukraine. The over-dependence of the country on this fuel is above all a convenience, from it obtaining a large share of its heating and electricity.

The government of Viktor Yanukovich, facing a gripping economic crisis, managed to get from Russia a reduction of the gas price to about half of that paid by costumers in the European Union. But this timely aid had a price: the definitive absorption of Ukraine into the sphere of influence of Russia and the BRICS. Reacting to this re-approximation towards Russia, various nationalist groups united against the government, paralysing the capital, boycotting negotiations with opposition parties and finally taking power in February.

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LQD: How Depressingly Right We Have Been

by afew Fri Oct 31st, 2014 at 09:15:10 AM EST

Anatole Kaletsky blogs on Reuters:

The takeaway from six years of economic troubles? Keynes was right.

Now that the Federal Reserve has brought its program of quantitative easing to a successful conclusion, while the French and German governments have ended their shadow-boxing over European budget "rules," macroeconomic policy all over the world is entering a period of unusual stability and predictability. Rightly or wrongly, the main advanced economies have reached a settled view on their economic policy choices and are very unlikely to change these in the year or two ahead, whether they succeed or fail. It therefore seems appropriate to consider what we can learn from all the policy experiments conducted around the world since the 2008 crisis.

The main lesson is that government decisions on taxes and public spending have turned out to be more important as drivers of economic activity than the monetary experiments with zero interest rates and quantitative easing that have dominated media and market attention. Fiscal decisions on budget deficits, taxes and public spending have mostly been debated as if they were largely political choices, with much less influence than monetary policy on macroeconomic outcomes such as inflation, growth and employment. Yet the reality has turned out to be the opposite.

Read and discuss.

Comments >> (65 comments)

GOP Male Rep. says female Democratic candidate Ann Kuster is "UGLY As SIN" & can't win

by Democrats Ramshield Fri Oct 31st, 2014 at 08:11:17 AM EST

(Written by an American expat living in the European Union)

Edited and republished at the request of readers.

In New Hampshire, a GOP state Rep. Steve Vaillancourt poses as the dapper don turned self appointed defacto beauty pageant judge. Pronounces Democratic incumbent Ann McLane Kuster "as ugly as sin" and therefore too ugly to win!! But in saying so, he says he hopes he hasn't offended sin!! So it is the GOP tries to WIN UGLY AGAIN. By turning this congressional race into his own private circus where in he hoists his ageism and sexist pronouncements on us in a orgy bordering on a misogynistic theater of the absurd!!
Steve Vaillancourt, a Republican state representative for New Hampshire attempts to turn the New Hampshire's 2nd district congressional race into his own personal defacto beauty pageant wherein he acts as the self-appointed judge, wherein he pronounces in his judgement that the determining factor in the race will come down to the matter of his judgement that incumbent Democratic state Rep. Ann McLane Kuster is "as ugly as sin" and cannot win. In a continuation of his sexist remarks, he goes on to shockingly say that drag queens even look better than her and in doing so tries to create what may only be seen as a circus-like beauty pageant atmosphere to grab headlines in yet another desperate Republican bid to win ugly.

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Restoring Ecosystems to Reverse Global Warming

by gmoke Tue Oct 28th, 2014 at 12:00:11 AM EST

Just wanted to make sure people know about this upcoming conference which may be the start of something really exciting.  I know from my monitoring of Harvard, MIT, and other universities that ecosystem solutions to climate change are not only not on their radar but met with antagonism when brought up.  The conference organizers can use your help (and mine) in getting the word out.

Restoring Ecosystems to Reverse Global Warming

We have solutions!
More of our man-made carbon emissions to date have come from land mismanagement and the resulting loss of soil carbon than from burning fossil fuels. The good news is that we know how to remove that atmospheric carbon and store it back into the soils where it belongs, by harnessing the power of nature.

The Conference
Restoring Ecosystems to Reverse Global Warming is a 3-day conference with the goal to bring the power of biology front and center in the climate conversation. We are bringing together a stellar roster of speakers--scientists, land managers and activists--and participants from around the world to learn from one another and to devise strategies to expand vast natural soil carbon sinks around the world. To learn more about the speakers: http://bio4climate.org/conference-2014/speakers/

Register here:
http://bit.ly/1qOBfAo

Help us support the conference!
http://www.razoo.com/story/Conference-2014-1
Donations will keep tickets affordable, provide scholarships, pay for materials, assist with major outreach efforts before and after the conference, and help support our hard-working and dedicated staff. Any contribution is greatly appreciated!

Restoring Ecosystems to Reverse Global Warming is hosted by the Tufts Institute of the Environment and the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts.

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The Center has Fallen: Polarized Pluralism and Catalan Elections

by ManfromMiddletown Mon Oct 20th, 2014 at 08:46:21 AM EST

Color the staff at The Economist confused. Writing on the current situation in Catalonia, they note:

A three-way game of brinkmanship between Mr Rajoy, Mr Mas and the separatist Catalan Republican Left (ERC) party that props up his government in Catalonia is creating uncertainty. Mr Rajoy has used the constitutional court to block the referendum, though it may take another five months to rule definitively that it is illegal. He offers little else beyond a readiness to talk. ERC proposes civil disobedience, an illegal referendum and, eventually, a unilateral declaration of independence. If it cannot have these, it wants an election that it is likely to win.

While the results are uncertain, the probability of a snap election is increasing daily.  As is the collapse of CiU dominance of the Catalan regional politics, and the emergence of a form of polarized pluralism in the region as the political center flattens out, and the fringes rise.  The term postmodern 1930s certainly springs to mind. Stage set.

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Carbon Farming: Organic Agriculture Saves the World [Geotherapy]

by gmoke Tue Oct 7th, 2014 at 10:58:42 PM EST

Something is happening in the organic farming community. This year the Northeast Organic Farming Association has been exploring carbon farming, "regenerative organic agricultural techniques for sequestering atmospheric carbon in stable soil aggregates." The NOFA Summer Conference at the beginning of August (http://www.nofasummerconference.org) had a Soil Carbon and Climate Track with eight presenters, including the keynoter, Dr. Elaine Ingham, who gave workshops about farming methods that take carbon from the air and add it to the soil while improving fertility and tilth.

The sessions are available at
https:/www.dropbox.com/sh/9j2m9wm49z2l1dg/AAAz8Uc3Ve8Rp2zuEKeZ5zrya?dl=0

In September, the MA chapter of NOFA (NOFAMASS) (http://www.nofamass.org) held two seminars in Amherst and Newton with the Australian soil scientist, Christine Jones explaining the science of soil systems and talking about practical ways to sequester carbon in soil:
https:
/www.dropbox.com/sh/lvpd3pqb4z3vs7j/AADPwUQDJrbnkqEZY0Lr-UKVa?dl=0 
My notes from the Newton workshop
http://hubeventsnotes.blogspot.com/2014/10/christine-jones-on-soil-carbon.html

On Monday, November 3, 2014, NOFAMASS will have an all-day workshop on Succeeding with Grass-Fed Beef: Human Health, Carbon Sequestration, and Farm Viability at Heifer International, 216 Wachusett Street, Rutland, MA led by Ridge Shinn, an expert in grass-fed and grass-finished beef with experience in all parts of the industry.

http://www.nofamass.org/events/succeeding-grass-fed-beef
Registration questions: Christine Rainville, 508-572-0816, registrationma@nofamass.org
Event information: Ben Grosscup, 413-658-5374, ben.grosscup@nofamass.org

"What we are learning from the presenters recorded above is that not only is the world in enormous danger from climate disruption, but also the regenerative organic agricultural practices that NOFA promotes offer genuine promise for a livable future on this planet."

Organic farming saves the world. Rebuild soils while producing more and more nutritious food all while taking carbon out of the atmosphere. Sounds to me like ecological systems design or geotherapy.

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Balanced Budget Amendment Task Force B.S.

by ARGeezer 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.

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The Barons, the Empire Builder and the Czar

by DoDo Fri Oct 3rd, 2014 at 02:12:25 PM EST

When the expanding transcontinental railroads completed the conquest of Native American lands in the Western USA from the 1860s, the owners of these exclusively private companies weren't exactly popular. The public's view was that they are selfish money-men seeking to cash out fast while they provide a crap service on shoddily-built infrastructure, seek monopolistic power and blackmail farmers, and buy politicians: the perfect example of the excesses of unfettered capitalism. The public backlash against the railroad Robber Barons led to anti-trust laws (Sherman Act, 1890).

More than half a century later, philosopher and cult leader Ayn Rand sought to re-interpret the Robber Baron era of US railroads by blaming those excesses of capitalism on state meddling, in the form of land grants. Her counter-example was one of the most successful railroad barons in the West: James J. Hill, nicknamed "The Empire Builder", who built his empire without any land grants.

Reading up on the history of the transcontinental railroads another half a century after, I drew the conclusion that neither of the two views was entirely correct, and see the importance of a different key factor: a general shortage of capital of these private companies. In this respect, the railroad baron I see as most noteworthy and significant is one of the last: E. H. Harriman, nicknamed the "The Railroad Czar", whose legacy lasts to this day.

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Vampire Squid and the Fed

by Crazy Horse Mon Sep 29th, 2014 at 02:13:21 PM EST

I haven't read through (or listened to) a story Michael Lewis is pushing regarding the  NY Fed's "Regulation" of Big Banks ; with a transaction between Goldman and Santander as a highlight.

I don't know if this story appears elsewhere on ET in the past days, but immediately felt I should post it here.

front-paged by afew

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Explaining the EU to outsiders

by Frank Schnittger Mon Sep 29th, 2014 at 10:48:55 AM EST

In Booman's continuing absence through illness, I have written another diary primarily for a US audience at the Frog Pond. However it deals with a complex subject which I really need help in elucidating.  I would appreciate if readers here would point out any errors of fact, or needlessly contentious interpretations, in the comments, as I do not wish to mislead our US readers.

-----------

Having written a piece on American Exceptionalism I thought it might be appropriate to turn my attention to the EU, and to try to define what makes it a unique constellation of notionally independent states today. There are many misconceptions about what the EU is and is not, so perhaps some clarification from a citizen of a relatively enthusiastic member state (Ireland) may be helpful in understanding the phenomenon.

The first thing to be said about the EU is that it is in a state of continuous evolution, with different member states pushing that process along at somewhat different speeds and in sometimes quite different directions. That it hasn't all fallen apart (yet) may be regarded as quite an achievement in itself, especially given the the European propensity for fractious nationalism leading to regional and world wars.

But what, positively does the EU stand for?

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A European perspective on Booman

by Frank Schnittger Sat Sep 27th, 2014 at 08:45:00 AM EST

Crossposted from the Booman Tribune

Given Steven D's impassioned pleas for content in Booman's continued absence through illness I thought I'd break my vow of Omertà on all things USA which normally applies between Presidential election cycles.  You see I have a certain resistance to writing about things I know little about and also have a strong sense that a countries own citizens have the primary right and responsibility to determine its policies free of interference from outsiders - well meaning or otherwise.

I make the exception of Presidential elections and some global issues like human rights and climate change because the election of "the leader of the free world" effects us all dramatically and often traumatically and because the USA state, whatever about its own citizenry, makes no bones about the fact that it regards the whole world as its back yard when it comes to dumping its externalities on others.

I also want to pay tribute to the extent to which Booman has informed my thinking on all matters of US politics. He's up there with Paul Krugman as perhaps the most influential blogger and thinker shaping my world view on key issues of economics (Krugman) and US politics (Booman).  Just as I sometimes take issue with Krugman's politics (his recent ham-fisted interventions on Ukraine and Scotland in particular), I sometimes take issue with Booman's take on economics which sometimes seems more influenced by the Chicago School of economics than by Keynes, Krugman, Stiglitz or Piketty.

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The economics of saving the world

by Cyrille Wed Sep 24th, 2014 at 02:11:24 AM EST

In his New York Times column, Paul Krugman reports on two new studies, both of which indicate that limiting carbon emissions would be much cheaper than initially thought, and may actually increase economic growth. This would be in part because fossil fuels have negative side effects over and above global warming, in particular health effects that "drive up medical costs and reduce productivity".

Further in his column, he takes a swipe at those on the left who claim that "saving the planet requires an end to growth" (a position he calls "climate despair", such as groups like the degrowth movement and the Post-Carbon Institute. This, he reckons, is in large part due to a misunderstanding of what growth is, where those making such claims probably see it as a "crude, physical thing, a matter simply of producing more stuff, [not taking] into account the many choices -- about what to consume, about which technologies to use -- that go into producing a dollar's worth of G.D.P."

front-paged by afew

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News and Views

 28 November 2014

by In Wales - Nov 27, 44 comments

Your take on today's news media

 27 November 2014

by dvx - Nov 26, 60 comments

Your take on today's news media

 Weekend Open Thread

by afew - Nov 28,

Here comes the weekend

 Move Into Midweek OT

by afew - Nov 26, 11 comments

The worst is over

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