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Sat Oct 2nd, 2010 at 12:36:56 AM EST
Right wingers and liberal Democrats both love to say that I advocate for some kind of nebulous utopian dream.
from The Progressive Dilemma
by Nick Egnatz in the Diary What to do now?
by tahoebasha3 at Docudharma
Polanyi, the history of economic thought and the economists
The terms Utopia and utopian are often used as terms of disparagement, and not without reason. Massive social experiments based excessively on theory or reason have wreaked social havoc from The Terror during the French Revolution to the Maoist Great Leap Forward in the 1960s and 1970s. Yet one of the most dramatic Utopian experiments was never so labeled. The fact is that both Classical Economics and Neo-Classical Economics were/are utopian systems. In this sense Adam Smith predates Classical Economics. He was more practical and descriptive. Bentham, James Mill and Ricardo were prescriptive and axiomatic. And the economic system they created was, in fact, utopian, but of the dystopian flavor for all but the very wealthy. The 20th Century extension of Classical Economics -- Neo-Classical Economics -- retains all of the original utopian features despite the problems it has been shown to exhibit. Between them, Classical and Neo-Classical Economics as applied in the UK and the USA constitute the longest running Utopian experiment of which I know. We need to understand this history, which has been actively shunned, in order to understand where we are and where we are headed, unless we can change direction.
Update [2010-10-2 9:36:11 by ARGeezer]: Spelling, syntax, added link and edits for clarity.
Sun Sep 26th, 2010 at 03:20:11 PM EST
Britain's Broken Economy - and how to mend it by The new political economy network. An e-book published by Soundings.
This is an attempt to construct a compelling alternative to the current Neo-Classical Economic which has been taught to almost all now alive who have formally studied economics. Sadly, more than 90% of those accept that framework as reality. The popular attitude is that, while there may be some problems, there is really no alternative to this existing approach. This e-book is an attempt to provide just such a compelling alternative. This is a difficult task and I believe this could become a valuable contribution. The authors are generally on point, at least in their conception, though I do find some aspects with which to quibble:
The economic crisis should herald a new progressive moment for the centre left, but instead there is a lack of a sense of purpose, and a difficulty in defining a new radical politics. Nowhere is this problem more acute than in the realm of political economy, where the discrediting of neoclassical economics has left an intellectual void in policy making.
The revival of a progressive politics requires a new political economy that will enable Britain's transition from casino capitalism to a balanced, low carbon, equitable form of economic development. We need an economics whose principles are ecologically sustainable wealth creation, cultural inventiveness, equality and human flourishing.
I must dispute one of the above statements:
Wed Sep 15th, 2010 at 08:39:50 PM EST
In Sven's Paris diary Fran asked, regarding ET goals:
What would a good alternative, to the current system, look like? and, later:So what and where should our society move towards? Once this is defined, we can start brainstorming how this can be done.
I responded, in part with the following assertion:
The core of our current problems lies in the capture of governmental power by economic elites. The style and method might vary from country to country, but that is the essence of the problem.
It follows that the solution is to break the money link between economic power and political governance any way we can!
I identified spreading awareness of this problem and goal as The first step and then noted:
The second step is to publicly critique what currently passes for the official economic theory. None of the theories commonly taught in universities acceptably explain the functioning of the existing system. There are better approaches available. They are not being pursued because the existing theory has been found to be useful as propaganda for the existing economic elites. This has to be drilled into the popular mind.
To which Fran responded:
What are these better approaches? I think that would be also important to spread - if they know and understand more about these other/better approaches the more they will demand them and also vote for those people who will most likely implement them.
I responded and Fran suggested that response be turned into a diary so others could more easily find it. See below:
Update [2010-9-17 1:39:24 by ARGeezer]: To include diaries by Migeru on Keynes.
Update [2010-9-18 11:58:50 by ARGeezer]: To include a diary by Migeru about and on-line text of works by Thorstein Veblen.
Update [2010-9-18 23:7:49 by ARGeezer]:: To include posts by Bill Mitchell per the recommendation of Bruce McF.
Update [2010-9-19 15:16:58 by ARGeezer]:: To add Propaganda by Bernays.
Update [2010-9-22 0:27:18 by ARGeezer]::: To add THE LOST TRADITION OF BIBLICAL DEBT CANCELLATIONS by Michael Hudson and Our Best Economic Minds are Failing Us by Michael Hirsh.
Update [2010-12-30 10:16:20 by ARGeezer]: To include links to Rob Parenteau and 3 Sector Financial Balance analysis.
Sat Sep 11th, 2010 at 03:34:23 PM EST
From The Gulf Stream To The Bloodstream H/T to pinche tejano at Docudharma
When Is Enough, Enough?
For nearly five months, the BP oil disaster has consumed the minds of millions of people worldwide. In addition to the horrific impacts that the crude oil and chemical dispersants have daily on the environment and the economy, a fatal threat has quietly slipped by the public's proverbial radar. The harm dealt by this silent enemy is beginning to creep into the lives of those living and working in the Gulf. The problem has been lurking in the Gulf since the first days of the BP oil spill and now has the potential ignite a disaster unlike any this country has ever seen.
Sun Aug 15th, 2010 at 01:40:18 AM EST
If it is "a barbarous relic", as has been claimed, why do central banks care about the price of gold and silver? Well, it is a "barbarous relic" with a history of several thousand years. But does it continue to have relevance in an era of fiat currency and floating exchange rates?
In 1923 British economist Alfred Herbert Gibson noted that the rate of interest and the general level of prices were observed to be correlated. Irving Fisher's theory had predicted that the interest rate would be correlated to the change in the rate of inflation. In his 1930 work A Treatise on Money Keynes noted the difference between observation and theory, noted that Gibson's observation was "one of the most completely established empirical facts in the whole field of quantitative economics" and coined the term Gibson's Paradox.
Looking into this paradox takes us back over economic history from the 19th Century to the present. It also involves looking at some of the dissenters from the mainstream of monetary theory. Note well! Here there be gold bugs!
Mon Jul 26th, 2010 at 12:21:10 AM EST
Systemic Fear, Modern Finance and the Future of Capitalism by Shimshon Bichler and Jonathan Nitzan
Jerusalem and Montreal, July 2010
Existing theories of political economy, liberal as well as Marxist, see capital as a dual entity. According to these theories, the "real" essence of capital consists of material/productive commodities, while the "financial" appearance of capital either accurately mirrors or fictitiously distorts this underlying reality. We reject this duality. Capital, we argue, is finance, and only finance. In its modern incarnation, capital exists as forward-looking capitalization, a universal financial ritual that discounts expected future earnings to a singular present value. emphasis added.
The part in bold is the essence of modern finance. And the times when that forward looking principle is violated is fundamental to understanding the present situation.
Thu Jul 22nd, 2010 at 09:04:24 PM EST
The two party system in the USA is not well serving 90% of the electorate:
Many people, myself included, believe it is time for a political realignment. At least one, if not both, of the existing parties needs to go. Could it be the Democrats turn first. A significant political development?
Richard Trumka Accepts Labor Party Nod Corrente john.halle's blog
Chicago-To the cheers of thousands of rank and file activists, AFL CIO head Richard Trumka accepted the nomination of the newly formed US Labor Party for the Presidency of the United States. Trumka will make his run as the standard bearer of a party fielding a full slate of candidates from the local and state to federal levels, running with the support of all major national and international unions, many peace and environmental organizations, and millions of economically and politically disenfranchised Americans.
Addressing a packed convention center a stone's throw from Chicago's haymarket, Trumka's remarks evoked labor's fallen heros and rekindled themes of radical trade unionism long thought vanquished after generations of hostility to organized labor fomented by right wing think tanks, mainstream media outlets and an army of pro-business lobbyists in Washington.
"For years the working people of this country have seen our hopes and dreams placed on the auction block and sold off to corporate criminals and Wall Street bankers," the Pennsylvania native said. "It is time to take back this country from the organized money controlling both parties which, as President Roosevelt reminded us during the last depression, is no better than an organized mob."
Sun Jul 11th, 2010 at 05:23:10 PM EST
I discovered Charles Hugh Smith and his blog, oftwominds.com last night at Zero Hedge. His 12 point account of how we got in the mess we are in and where it is going is the best succinct description I have found, so I e-mailed him for permission to cross-post, which he graciously gave and he suggested posting both parts. Herewith:
Fri Jul 9th, 2010 at 05:36:11 AM EST
Andy Grove, the third employee of Intel and former CEO, directly challenges conventional wisdom and current policy on the need for US manufacturing and industrial policy - in Bloomberg! H/T Naked Capitalism
The underlying problem isn't simply lower Asian costs. It's our own misplaced faith in the power of startups to create U.S. jobs. Americans love the idea of the guys in the garage inventing something that changes the world. New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman recently encapsulated this view in a piece called "Start-Ups, Not Bailouts." His argument: Let tired old companies that do commodity manufacturing die if they have to. If Washington really wants to create jobs, he wrote, it should back startups.
Friedman is wrong. Startups are a wonderful thing, but they cannot by themselves increase tech employment. Equally important is what comes after that mythical moment of creation in the garage, as technology goes from prototype to mass production. This is the phase where companies scale up. They work out design details, figure out how to make things affordably, build factories, and hire people by the thousands. Scaling is hard work but necessary to make innovation matter.
The scaling process is no longer happening in the U.S. And as long as that's the case, plowing capital into young companies that build their factories elsewhere will continue to yield a bad return in terms of American jobs.
front-paged by afew
Thu Jun 17th, 2010 at 01:36:04 AM EST
Empirical and theoretical reasons why the GFC is not behind us Steve Keen
If you think Bernanke understands the Great Depression, as he has studied it so thoroughly, here is some striking evidence that he has failed to grasp its essence completely, and has summarily dismissed one of the best guides to the depression, Irving Fisher's The Debt-Deflation Theory of Great Depressions. (21p. PDF) I do not know if he has as brusquely dismissed Minsky's Financial Instability Hypothesis (10p PDF) or just ignores his work. Both appear to be "outside the Mainstream of US Economics".
From Keen's paper:
A majority of the 16 individuals identified in Bezemer (2009) and (Fullbrook (2010)) as having anticipated the Global Financial Crisis followed non-mainstream approaches to economics, with most of them identifying as Post-Keynesian (Dean Baker, Wynne Godley, Michael Hudson, Steve Keen, Ann Pettifor) or Austrian (Kurt Richelbacher, Peter Schiff). The theoretical foundations of these authors therefore differ substantially from those of more mainstream neoclassical economists. In this paper I will restrict my attention to the Post-Keynesian subset, which I will hereinafter refer to as the Bezemer-Fullbrook Group. Bezemer identified the factors that these authors have in common as:
the distinction between financial wealth and real assets... A concern with debt as the counterpart of financial wealth... a further concern, that growth in financial wealth and the attendant growth in debt can become a determinant (instead of an outcome) of economic growth ...[the] recessionary impact of the bursting of asset bubbles... [and] Finally, emphasis on the role of credit cycles in the business cycle... (Bezemer (2009))
Mon Jun 7th, 2010 at 01:13:47 AM EST
AN EFFORT TO PUSH BACK AGAINST THE MADNESS WAS PROPOSED
Montereyan's diary A Funny Thing Happened At The G20 discusses the new emphasis on austerity at the G-20, with some surprising dissenters. Mig provided the first comment:
The subject is the G20 statement that fiscal stimulus is out, and austerity is in. As reported by the FT:So, the whole point of the G20 these past 18 months has been to shore up the financial sector by transferring the insolvency problem from the private to the public accounts and now that will be used to destroy whatever social safety net there is.
Finance ministers from the world's leading economies ripped up their support for fiscal stimulus on Saturday, recognising that financial market concerns over sovereign debt had forced a much greater focus on deficit reduction.In itself this is a rather important, if totally unsurprising, shift.
Sat May 8th, 2010 at 02:48:43 AM EST
Simon Johnson and Peter Boone address some of the financial problems facing Europe and propose an agenda:
The Agenda For Emergency Economic Strategy Discussions This Weekend
Europe needs a new recovery plan, bigger and broader than anything put together so far. This weekend is the perfect time to put such a plan together. But be wary of committing official resources too early in this market downdraft - smart policymakers will calmly let the markets fall further, in order to benefit from the rebound potential.
In the last few days, bond markets have decided that the deflationary adjustments - cutting wages and prices -- needed in large parts of the eurozone are not politically feasible. The deflationary spiral that will come with fiscal cuts causes political turmoil and reduces revenues - that in turn makes it ever harder to service debt; see Greece this week. Eurozone countries running large budget deficits with substantial outstanding public debt are finding they are cut off from credit markets as a result. This is a solvency issue, not a liquidity issue.
So this is how the efficient bond market works? First, from fear of the bond market, the political leaders of the creditor nations stampede the leaders of debtor nations to agree to jump through their own anuses; only then, when they have sacrificed their dignity and agreed to put their countries into a debt-deflation sprial straight out of Irving Fisher
, will the bond geniuses conclude what was already sadly obvious--this won't work, it's an impossibility! This will surely increase the confidence of all in the existing institutions.
Now that the bond market has concluded that the solution towards which the European leaders have worked is unworkable will these same leaders come up with something that might work? Not very likely. It would involve going against the basest and most destructive impulses of too many people, which impulses must be obeyed, no matter how disastrous, in times of great fear. Worse, the leaders, even if they understood what is needed, would likely be afraid to state it publicly. HERESY! I can only hope I am wrong.
Wed Apr 14th, 2010 at 04:38:12 AM EST
There is a very insightful, very long guest post in Naked Capitalism:
The Origins of the Next Crisis Edward Harrison Naked Capitalism
William White, the former chief economist at the Bank of International Settlements (BIS) gave an important speech at George Soros' Inaugural Institute of New Economic Thinking (INET) conference in Cambridge. While everyone is casting about for the one magic bullet solution which would have prevented this and future crises, he placed the blame for the credit crisis on short-termism, pointing the finger most notably at economists and their models. White said that the models almost all economists use are `flow' models which leave no room for 'stocks' and thus completely miss unsustainable secular trends.
Video of Wm. White here. (18 minutes.)
In essence, White was saying: "it's the debt, stupid." When aggregate debt levels build up across business cycles, economists focused on managing within business cycles miss the key ingredient that leads to systemic crisis. It should be expected that politicians or private sector participants worried about the day-to-day exhibit short-termism. But White says it is particularly troubling that economists and their models exhibit the same tendency because it means there is no long-term oriented systemic counterweight guiding the economy.
This short-termism that White refers to is what I call the asset-based economic model. And, quite frankly, it works - especially when interest rates are declining as they have over the past quarter century. The problem, however, is that you reach a critical state when the accumulation of debt and the misallocation of resources is so large that the same old policies just don't work anymore. And that's when the next crisis occurs.
Thu Dec 3rd, 2009 at 09:54:05 PM EST
With the Copenhagen Climate Conference rapidly approaching and with the emphasis on CO2 emissions, it seems timely to review the potential impact of the other major greenhouse gas, methane.
Katey Walter Anthony, an aquatic ecologist and a biogeochemist with a list of academic publications going back to 2005, is a research professor working with the Water and Environmental Research Center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. She studies the permafrost in Alaska, Canada and Russia. She is also involved in "Outreach & Education" appearing on programs and in articles on NPR, the BBC, National Geographic, Nature and Scientific American.
I encountered her in the December 2009 issue of Scientific American, to which, unfortunately, I do not have on line access. From the various descriptions of her work and activities it seems that the lady is fearless. May she remain so. This diary is comprised of quotes and summaries of various of these above links and other articles.
- Methane has more than 20 times the potency of CO2 as a greenhouse gas.
- Close to a trillion tons of carbon are currently stored in the top several tens of meters of the 20% of the earth's surface that is permafrost.
- As permafrost thaws microbes decompose organic remains producing methane that can be released into the atmosphere.
- One third to one half of permafrost is now within 1 to 1.5C of thawing.
- At currently predicted rates of thaw 20 to 40% more methane will be released into the atmosphere than from all other natural and man-made sources.
- This could produce a further 0.32C increase of the earth's mean annual temperature compared with current projections.
- More than one trillion tons of methane hydrates are estimated to lie at depths of hundreds of meters below the ground or sea floor. 10% of that released into the atmosphere would be twice the estimated 50 billion tons of methane that is estimated to potentially be released by permafrost thaw. There is no evidence that hydrates are being released at present.
Sat Nov 28th, 2009 at 11:22:50 PM EST
DOES ANY OF YOUR ESTATE CONSIST OF US ASSETS? ARE YOU OR ANY OF YOUR HEIRS "US PERSONS" PER IRS DEFINITIONS?
Following links from a post on Jesse's Café Américain when what should I find but Investment Commentary No. 265 August 24, 2009 by WEGELIN & CO. PRIVATE BANKERS SINCE 1741 domiciled in Switzerland:
American inheritance tax is levied on the "estate"; that is, the physical goods, such as property, goods and chattels, and securities. If they are US securities, then they are liable to tax, regardless of the final domicile or main place of residence of the deceased. US securities are basically defined as securities issued in the United States, such as the stock of American companies like Apple, General Electric or Pfizer and US funds and US bonds, in particular Treasury bills. American inheritance tax law makes specific reference to both US citizens (including, particularly, US citizens resident abroad) and "non-resident aliens". These latter are foreigners with no permanent residence in the United States; in other words, all non-Americans in possession of US securities.
Well, this certainly adds an additional layer of meaning to the term "toxic assets"!! Here I was thinking I was looking at matters that are normally only discussed by the wealthy among theselves, only to realize that the reason I am seeing this is that the IRS will be there too. I am not a fan of tax evasion or avoidance by the wealthy but neither am I a fan of grotesque, grasping governmental overreach.
Investment Commentary #265 is titled "Farewell, America" and arises from WEGELIN & CO's current role as a "Qualified Intermediary" per a 2001 agreement between the USA and Switzerland and the terms of the agreement for the settlement of the recent claims against, as Wegelin puts it, the "accident prone" UBS by the US Government, which included the release of "certain client names" to the US IRS. For the USA, UBS and the Swiss Government, this agreement was a "success." (My emphasis.)
Wed Sep 23rd, 2009 at 01:18:09 AM EST
I infamously, if unintentionally, hijacked a Chris Cook diary back in April and turned it into a diary on economic modeling. Mig subsequently turned the hijacked portion into a separate diary. Then I turned a comment by Marco on Phillips' Moniac Machine into a diary and there have been several previous modeling diaries.
There has been lots of discussion about the uses and benefits of a computer simulation of the economy that could run on a P.C. Meanwhile, Steve Keen has actually created a dynamic model for an economy and has used it to critique Krugman and the NCE mainstream for remaining tied to equalibrium analysis and to critique Obama's approach to the GFC and the TBTF banks:
I've recently developed a genuinely monetary, credit-driven model of the economy, and one of its first insights is that Obama has been sold a pup on the right way to stimulate the economy: he would have got far more bang for his buck by giving the stimulus to the debtors rather than the creditors.
The following figure shows three simulations of this model in which a change in the willingness of lenders to lend and borrowers to borrow causes a "credit crunch" in year 25. In year 26, the government injects $100 billion into the economy--which at that stage has output of about $1,000 billion, so it's a pretty huge injection, in two different ways: it injects $100 billion into bank reserves, or it puts $100 billion into the bank accounts of firms, who are the debtors in this model.
Tue Sep 22nd, 2009 at 01:12:35 AM EST
When finance is forward looking, when it ain't, (like now), and why. With a video afterword by Steve Keen on why we need a Jubilee.
Setting the Table.
Systemic Fear and Forward-Looking Finance by Shimshon Bichler and Jonathan Nitzan
The current news may be good or bad, revealing or misleading--but, then, investors aren't supposed to take their cue from the current news in the first place. To trade assets on the basis of today's statistics is to be backward looking. It is to be retrospective rather than predictive, to react rather than initiate, to trail rather than lead. It puts investors at the tail end of social dynamics.
Needless to say, such behavior is entirely improper.
According to the sacred annals of modern finance, formalized a century ago by Irving Fisher and popularized during the Great Depression by Benjamin Graham and David Dodd, asset prices are forward looking: "The value of a common stock," dictate Graham and Dodd in their 1934 immortal doorstopper, "depends entirely upon what it will earn in the future." [Graham and Dodd, Security AnalysisSecurity Analysis, 1st ed. 1934,]
Wed Aug 26th, 2009 at 04:53:08 AM EST
Zero Hedge's White Paper, The End Of The Recession?
By Tyler Durden
With Special Thanks To David Rosenberg, Chief Economist and Strategist,
Gluskin Sheff + Associates, Inc.
Have trouble believing all of that "The Recession is Over hype? Tyler Durden does and has prepared a White Paper detailing why it is not. He has sought to have this disseminated widely. The white paper itself is accessible from the link above. It is 72 Power Point style pages with lots of graphs. An extended summary follows below. The graphs won't copy from the PDF.
My short take: The Recession is Over. It's turning into a Depression! The patient, our world economy, has come down with a serious illness that could result in permanent damage or death. Instead of seeking medical attention, those with authority are instead fervently and publicly praying for a remission. ~80% of the population thinks this is the correct course of action.
Diary rescue by Migeru
Mon Aug 10th, 2009 at 04:25:25 AM EST
Rolfe Winkler's blog on Reuters, Option ARMaggedon, is one of the sources of light in the Main Stream Media regarding the present Great Financial Collapse. His August 6 entry, Buffett's Betrayal, is an example. Turns out Buffett was the teenage idol of the precocious fourteen year old Mr. Winkler, an idol that now stands revealed to have feet of clay. But that clay appears to have been well baked into solid bricks upon which Mr. Buffett continues to remain standing. (H/T to CounterPunch. This was their Website of the Weekend for Aug. 7-9.)
In Winkler's words:
Buffett remains famous for investing The Right Way. He even has a television cartoon in the works, which will groom the next generation of acolytes. But it turns out much of the story is fiction. A good chunk of his fortune is dependent on taxpayer largess. Were it not for government bailouts, for which Buffett lobbied hard, many of his company's stock holdings would have been wiped out.
Berkshire Hathaway, in which Buffett owns 27 percent, according to a recent proxy filing, has more than $26 billion invested in eight financial companies that have received bailout money. The TARP at one point had nearly $100 billion invested in these companies and, according to new data released by Thomson Reuters, FDIC backs more than $130 billion of their debt.
promoted by whataboutbob
Mon Jul 27th, 2009 at 05:06:54 AM EST
At the beginning of last week it seemed that the Main Stream Media was determined to ignore the ongoing scandal of how the financial markets were being run. But The New York Times is starting to run articles on the High Frequency Trading Scandal and other aspect of gross manipulation of the markets and looting of the economy by Wall Street and, especially, by Goldman Sachs.
The NYT ran an article by Charles Duhigg earlier in the week, Stock Traders Find Speed Pays, in Milliseconds, (see below for link and quote) and followed up on Saturday with a guest editorial by Tobin Harshaw in the Weekend Opinionator entitled Is Wall Street Picking Our Pockets?
"It is the hot new thing on Wall Street," according to The Times's Charles Duhigg, "a way for a handful of traders to master the stock market, peek at investors' orders and, critics say, even subtly manipulate share prices. It is called high-frequency trading -- and it is suddenly one of the most talked-about and mysterious forces in the markets."
Well,...it's nice to have a clear villain back in our sights. But is it fair to say the wizards of Wall Street (Goldman Sachs, this means you) are picking our pockets, or are they really the smartest guys in the room after all?
The rest of Harshaw's article is a mine of references and links and a general survey of blog and press coverage of this subject. But instead of quoting Harshaw quoting Duhigg, we will go to the source, as that is where Harshaw starts.
promoted by whataboutbob
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