Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Thu May 6th, 2021 at 04:29:04 PM EST
Yanis Varoufakis has an interesting take on the current situation in Europe and the USA. He was the virtual keynote speaker at a conference in Israel apparently sponsored by the Israeli Labor Party. He asserts that, since 2008, we have been in a Post Capitalist environment.
Thu Apr 29th, 2021 at 03:21:10 AM EST
Depressions usually start with a contraction of the money supply. In 1929 that contraction occurred in the fall, just when money needed to come out of the stock market so it could be used to transport crops to market. But the stock market was in a speculative bubble and this demand to sell stocks for cash caused the bubble to collapse.
In 2008 there was a massive bubble in securities backed by real estate. When it was discovered that the assets backing most of these securities was only worth 60% of their face value, and that most banks and financial institutions had lots of these securities on their books all confidence in the financial system collapsed. Banks would not lend to other banks. Money Market funds 'broke the buck', letters of credit needed for the export market ceased to be honored and the entire payment clearance system in the USA and the world froze.
Frontpaged with minor edit - Frank Schnittger
Sun Apr 4th, 2021 at 11:08:32 AM EST
One of my thoughtful conservative FB friends thinks the election results in 2020 are a bit of a fluke and that the Republicans will come back strong in '22 and '24. I beg to differ.
The problem for the GOP is that their base remains loyal to Trump, while four years of Trump soured enough voters to cost the GOP the presidency. Under Trump the GOP SHRUNK its base. Meanwhile Trump keeps being Trump and his core support, older white voters, predominantly male, remains strong. That base will deliver him victories in most of the states of the old confederacy along with the plains states from Oklahoma to N. Dakota. Not enough to win the Electoral College.
Worse, Georgia can no longer be counted as solid Republican and Texas is coming into play, both for the Presidency and the House and Senate. If Beto O'Rourke runs against Gregg Abbot for Governor of Texas in '22 he could well win after Abbot's conduct during the blizzard, and Texas could vote Democratic in '24. If that happens and O'Rourke carries at least one house of the legislature with him, and Texas turns blue, not just purple, it is much more likely that Texas would vote for the Democrat for President in '24 and it is game over for the GOP as a national party.
Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger
Mon Mar 29th, 2021 at 05:39:41 PM EST
Ponzis Go Boom!!!
The SPAC market is in the process of detonating and it will take the Ponzi Sector with it.
(SPAC = Special Purpose Acquisition Company. All the cool guys and gals have one.)
By Harris "Kuppy" Kupperman, founder of Praetorian Capital, Adventures in Capitalism:
For the past few years, I have been critical of the Ponzi Sector. To me, these are businesses that sell a dollar for 80 cents and hope to make it up in volume. Just because Amazon (AMZN - USA) ran at a loss early on, doesn't mean that all businesses will inflect at scale. In fact, many of the Ponzi Sector companies seem to have declining economics at scale--largely the result of intense competition with other Ponzi companies who also have negligible costs of capital.
I recently wrote about how interest rates are on the rise. If capital will have a cost to it, I suspect that the funding shuts off to the Ponzi Sector--buying unprofitable revenue growth becomes less attractive if you have other options. Besides, when you can no longer use presumed negative interest rates in your DCF, these businesses have no value. I believe the top is now finally in for the Ponzi Sector and a multi-year sector rotation is starting. However, interest rates are only a small piece of the puzzle.
Conventional wisdom says that the internet bubble blew up due to increasing interest rates. This may partly be true, but bubbles are irrational--rates shouldn't matter--it is the psychology that matters.
Sat Dec 12th, 2020 at 02:45:44 AM EST
All of the newly elected Republican Members of the House of Representatives who endorsed the meretricious Texas lawsuit to throw out the results of four states who voted for Biden should be charged with sedition and barred taking their seats and from again running for Congress. This nonsense has to stop and such action would be a strong signal that it will not be tolerated.
To that end Bill Pascrell, Jr., Democrat from New Jersey tweeted the following and wrote a letter to House leadership recommending such action:
Section 3 of the 14th Amendment was written after the Civil War to bar from government any traitors who would seek to destroy the Union.
Today I'm calling on House leaders to refuse to seat any Members trying to overturn the election and make donald trump an unelected dictator.
It is clearly within the power of the House to refuse to seat members for cause. Sedition should qualify as a cause. Perhaps the House could conduct an investigation to determine if sedition has occurred. If so it could at least attempt to bar them from running again. But just having to run again for their seats would be a quite considerable punishment. Pelosi strongly condemned their action. Further pressure from House Members is in order.
Sat Oct 24th, 2020 at 08:49:18 PM EST
Economists on the Run - Michael Hirsh, Foreign Policy
Frontpaged with minor edit - Bernard
Paul Krugman has never suffered fools gladly.... In a series of books and articles beginning in the 1990s, Krugman branded just about everybody who questioned the rapid pace of globalization a fool who didn't understand economics very well. "Silly" was a word Krugman used a lot to describe pundits who raised fears of economic competition from other nations, especially China. Don't worry about it, he said: Free trade will have only minor impact on your prosperity.
Thu Oct 22nd, 2020 at 12:47:21 AM EST
The Democrats should increase their control - National Conference of State Legislatures
Control of legislative chambers is vital to influence over redistricting and other legislation. Without control of at least one chamber or the Governorship a party is out of luck and influence. State legislatures have been a stronghold for Republicans.
On average, 12 chambers change party in each general election cycle--that includes changes in both directions. Democrats need to net nine chambers to reach parity this year, or 10 to pass Republicans in chamber control. Democrats have opportunities for gains, yet it will be a steep climb, particularly given that, as previously noted, this is a year unlike any other. The GOP primarily will be playing defense, with Dems on defense in just a few states.
Dems hope to take control of either or both chambers in Arizona, the Florida Senate, the Iowa House, the Michigan House, the Minnesota Senate, either or both chambers in North Carolina and the Wisconsin Senate. Further reaches include the Michigan House, Texas House and both chambers in Pennsylvania. And yet, this being an unprecedented year, making guesses is dangerous indeed
Mon Sep 7th, 2020 at 02:45:44 AM EST
As of Sept. 7, Sunday of the Labor Day Weekend some things have clarified a bit. The Trump campaign has pulled its TV adverts in Arizona and Biden is up on Trump there by 9 points. Three solid polls in Wisconsin show Biden up by 7+ points. Minnesota seems likely to hold for the Democrats. Pennsylvania is the biggest weakness for Biden in the 'Blue Wall', with Michigan next. Democrats hold the west coast, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado and Hawaii by reasonable margins. And Democrats hold the east coast north of Virginia up to Maine.
Frontpaged with minor edit - Frank Schnittger
Sun May 10th, 2020 at 03:24:27 PM EST
The Plan Is to Save Capital and Let the People Die Common Dreams
Whether Americans know it or not, their government is not working for them. Their government is working on behalf of capital. Humans are now a mere second-order, instrumental factor to be considered based on how it affects capital.
This is particularly tragic considering that, for countries with their own fiat currency such as the USA and the UK, capital can be created at will by the treasury/central bank of that country. Granted the USA has more leeway in this regard due to the weight of its currency in the international market. But the government of such a country can always purchase any good or service that is produced in their country without inflationary effect provided such purchases do not produce shortages of resources.
Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger
Sat Apr 11th, 2020 at 05:25:16 PM EST
Since it became front page news I have believed that the only way to properly control COVID-19 was through wide spread testing of a large percentage of the population. From recent data it appears that both the USA and Korea have tested about 1% of their population: ~500,000 tests in Korea out of ~ 50 million people and ~ 3 million tests in the USA out of 327 million people. Yet the percent of the population infected is dramatically different between the two countries.
The difference is that Korea mobilized nationally at an early date and was able to develop and deploy tests towards the beginning of the outbreak. This strategy allowed Korea to CONTAIN the infection.
In the USA Trump refuses to put the federal government in charge in any meaningful or useful way and leaves the governors of the states in charge, making a coordinated national approach impossible. The one thing that the USA DID attempt to federalize was the production of a virus test, and that was a tragedy/fiasco that needlessly prevented other labs from deploying other tests. I have yet to see an adequate explanation of this failure.
Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger
Mon Mar 16th, 2020 at 12:52:57 AM EST
This diary was inspired by Frank's "Corona Virus gets Real' diary and Number 6's "Flattening the Cruve" comment.
Using figures from Wiki for numbers of infections reported by states it appears that the doubling rate is a little more than two days. As of March 13 there had been 2,160 cases reported by US states. Rounding down to 2000 for that date and using two days as the doubling time interval, by March 31 there should be over 1,024,000 reported cases. By April 18 at a two day doubling interval 262,144,000 cases, or ~ 80% of the population could have been infected.
The cases by March 31 are unlikely to be affected by new 'social isolation' measures, as the incubation period is as much as 14 days, and most of these future patients are already infected. And these numbers are surely an undercount, as they are restricted to only those cases that have come to the attention of the medical profession and we rounded the first number down to 2000 from 2,160 for ease of presentation.
Continuing with this sequence through April, but assuming that on April 1 the social distancing has increased to doubling time to four days, so there are seven doubling times until April 28, when the number of infections are projected to be 131,072,000 - over a third of the US population.
Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger
Sat Feb 1st, 2020 at 04:59:25 AM EST
The House impeaches, the Senate tries the case, per the US Constitution. If only it were that simple. At the moment all hangs in uncertainty. Tonight it appears certain that at least 51 Republican senators will vote not hear additional witnesses and to acquit Donald J. Trump of the charges in the House Articles of Impeachment: Abuse of Power and Obstruction of Congress. This is despite the fact that retiring Senator Lamar Alexander conceded that the House Impeachment Managers had proven their case.
WASHINGTON -- As he weighed the evidence against President Trump, Senator Lamar Alexander reached an unavoidable conclusion: Mr. Trump had done what he was accused of, pressuring a foreign power to investigate his political rival. But however inappropriate his conduct, another conviction overrode the first: Americans would not tolerate the Senate stepping in to substitute its own judgment for that of the voters fewer than 10 months before the next election.
"The Senate reflects the country, and the country is as divided as it has been for a long time," Mr. Alexander said Friday during an interview in his Capitol office. "For the Senate to tear up the ballots in this election and say President Trump couldn't be on it, the country probably wouldn't accept that. It would just pour gasoline on cultural fires that are burning out there."
With that logic, Mr. Alexander delivered a victory to Mr. Trump -- and to Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, with whom Mr. Alexander has been friends for more than a half-century. In announcing he would vote to block witnesses at Mr. Trump's impeachment trial, he set Mr. Trump on a quick course to his inevitable acquittal.
But this national crisis will not be resolved with the acquittal of Trump. In effect, for reasons listed below, this trial was a mistrial.
Great summary of the state of play - Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger
Fri Jan 17th, 2020 at 08:46:26 AM EST
Until yesterday it seemed likely that the best possible outcome of Trump's impeachment would be that the evidence would be presented and widely known and that this might make his reelection less likely. That the Senate would convict seemed very unlikely. The question was whether the Senate would even hear from witnesses, other than those already deposed by the House Intelligence Commitee.
The two part interview of Lev Parnas by Rachael Maddow, aired Wednesday and Thursday night has had impact. Parnas revealed that Jay Sekulow from the White House Office of Counsel, who was presented as one of President Trump's Trump's defenders in the Senate proceeding, had reluctantly directed Parnas in some of his endeavors for Rudy Guiliani in Ukraine. This likely presents a conflict of interest for Sekulow. This is likely a problem for Trump, as he wants an attorney he can trust - a mouthpiece.
Parnas also stated that John Dowd, formerly a legal adviser to Trump in the Mueller probe, had tried to convince him to be a fall guy when he came to 'help' Parnas after Parnas was arrested in the fall. Parnas fired him on the spot. Parnas claimed that his motive for going public while under federal indictment was that he feared what William Barr, Attorney General, and Barr's Justice Department might do to him more than he feared conviction under existing charges. Parnas also implicated Barr in the Ukraine affair.
Already, three Republican Senators, Mitt Romney, Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins, have indicated that they favor calling additional witnesses. Even if there are no more Republican Senators forthcoming, this might result in a tie vote which Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts could break, possibly in favor of additional witnesses. John Cornyn of Texas has noted that the Senate is the jury and should not be deciding how the trial is conducted. Michael Bennett of Colorado has been critical of Trump over withholding funds illegally, per the General Accounting Office memo, and in violation of his oath to faithfully execute the laws of the nation.
I suspect that the dam has broken and that many more may sign on to having a full and fair impeachment trial. This inherently brings into play the ambitions of some Senators to be the next Republican Presidential Nominee. First Trump has to go. In situations like this Senators find safety in numbers - herd instinct. It looks like the herd is getting spooked.
Interesting times. Stay tuned.
Sun Jan 5th, 2020 at 02:46:40 AM EST
We have seen Qassem Soleimani refered to here and in the US media as a 'revered martyr'. It is understandable that he might be revered and seen as a martyr in Iran and by Shia Iraqis, but there is no reason for US media to repeat that framing for US audiences. Soleimani was a brilliant strategist but no more to be revered than any pedophile prelate, prostitute politician or US general. I am struck by the smirk that is so often on his face, especially when basking in the approval of the Supreme Leader. He is more aptly compared to the IRA strategists behind the London bombings in the 20th century. Repeating the characterization of 'revered martyr' both reinforces Iranian propaganda and simultaneously makes US journalists using it look ridiculous and/or or suspect to a good portion of the US population.
The claim that Soleimani almost single-handedly saved Shia Islam is surely hyperbolie. Shia have been persecuted by Suni since the death of Ali, but yet they survive and flourish. They have well earned their reputation for being a persecuted minority. But now they are the ones doing the persecuting in Iran. Shia are in control there and have dealt harshly with many of the ethnic minorities that had served the Persian Empire. They won't even allow Baha'i children in Iran to attend school. Many Iranian ex-pats I knew in LA were minorities, Jews, Baha'i, Kurds, etc. The Persian empire under the Shahs was a much friendlier place for ethnic and religious minorities. Now Iran 'enjoys' Shia triumphalism.
None of this is intended to justify the sorry way in which Western powers from the Crusades to British and French Imperialism, the legacy of which was assumed by the US, has treated Suni and Shia alike nor to pick sides between them. Saudi Whabi and Salafi in general are a match in fanaticism for anything Shia Islam has to offer. It is still the Middle Ages in the Middle East.
Ironically, Soliemani in death may accomplish what he could not in life - the removal of the USA from the Middle East. But that will be mostly attributable to Trump. Trump acted without thinking through the situation and mostly out of his sense of needing to look good. But he has no long term plan other than to leave the Mid East. It is almost fitting that the foolish misadventure of Bush 43 and of Trump will likely be bookends to the period of intense involvement in Iraq and Syria. This will be a sad development for all those in the region who hoped for a more secular government, but Republicans and Trump in particular do not believe in 'nation building'.
Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger
Fri Oct 25th, 2019 at 05:56:09 PM EST
Paul Krugman -- finally -- admits he was wrong! Lars Syll RWER Blog
Paul Krugman has never suffered fools gladly. The Nobel Prize-winning economist rose to international fame--and a coveted space on the New York Times op-ed page--by lacerating his intellectual opponents in the most withering way. In a series of books and articles beginning in the 1990s, Krugman branded just about everybody who questioned the rapid pace of globalization a fool who didn't understand economics very well. "Silly" was a word Krugman used a lot to describe pundits who raised fears of economic competition from other nations, especially China. Don't worry about it, he said: Free trade will have only minor impact on your prosperity.
Now Krugman has come out and admitted, offhandedly, that his own understanding of economics has been seriously deficient as well. In a recent essay titled "What Economists (Including Me) Got Wrong About Globalization," adapted from a forthcoming book on inequality, Krugman writes that he and other mainstream economists "missed a crucial part of the story" in failing to realize that globalization would lead to "hyperglobalization" and huge economic and social upheaval, particularly of the industrial middle class in America. And many of these working-class communities have been hit hard by Chinese competition, which economists made a "major mistake" in underestimating, Krugman says.
Michael Hirsh - The Economist
It was quite a "whoops" moment, considering all the ruined American communities and displaced millions of workers we've seen in the interim. And a newly humbled Krugman must consider an even more disturbing idea: Did he and other mainstream economists help put a protectionist populist, Donald Trump, in the White House with a lot of bad advice about free markets?
Too important not to frontpage - Frank Schnittger
Thu Oct 17th, 2019 at 05:30:12 PM EST
"With you all roads lead to Putin" Nancy Pelosi to Donald Trump in White House meeting on 10/16/18
The context for this confrontation was a meeting between Congress and The White House so that Congress could be briefed on the effects on national security, military activity and foreign policy of Trump's green lighting of Ergodan's invasion of that portion of north east Syria occupied by the US Kurdish allies.
The FBI has been conducting a counterintelligence investigation of Rudy Guilaini's activities in Ukraine. It appears that Guliani's 'associates', Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, formerly small time operators, began dealing with matters of international political significance and using talking points that appear to have originated in Russia. Parnas and Furman are alleged to have funneled money from Dmitry Firtash, a Russian businessman formerly operating in Ukraine, into US campaigns and of a conspiracy to skirt campaign finance requirements as they pushed Ukrainian political interests in the US.
Two other Guilanni Ukrainian associates, David Correia and Andrey Kukushkin, have now also been arrested, and a subpoena has been issued to former Texas Republican Rep. Pete Sessions, who wrote a letter to Sec. State Pompeo to raise concerns about the then-US ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, who was later removed by Trump following complaints by Giuliani and others.
Firtash has established close ties to the former mayor of New York City in part by recruiting several of Giuliani's associates. In July the oligarch hired two lawyers who have been helping Giuliani in his campaign to discredit Trump's critics: Victoria Toensing and Joseph DiGenova, a married couple Trump considered hiring in 2018 as part of his private legal team. Best known as diehard defenders of Trump on Fox News, the couple has combed through the oligarch's case files and used some of them in the effort to defend Trump on television and in the press.
Toensing and DiGenova then hired another Giuliani associate, Lev Parnas, to serve as their interpreter in communications with Firtash in Vienna, according to a statement the lawyers sent TIME on Oct. 11. While on his way to Vienna on Oct. 9, Parnas was arrested at Dulles Airport in Washington and charged with violating campaign finance laws. The indictment against him alleges that Parnas and his business partners secretly channeled money from an unidentified Russian donor to various political causes and candidates. Parnas has not entered a plea. His colleagues in the Firtash legal team declined to comment on the arrest.
Fri Oct 11th, 2019 at 12:54:08 AM EST
2 Giuliani Associates Tied to Ukraine Scandal Arrested on Campaign Finance Charges NYT
WASHINGTON -- Federal prosecutors unsealed charges on Thursday against two men who have aided President Trump's efforts to gather damaging information in Ukraine about his political opponents, a criminal case that signaled growing legal exposure for the president's allies as Mr. Trump tries to blunt an impeachment inquiry in Congress.
The indictment of the two men, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, sketched a complex scheme to violate campaign finance laws and did not accuse Mr. Trump of wrongdoing. But it revealed new details about the push to pressure Ukraine: a campaign encouraged by Mr. Trump, led by his private lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani and assisted by obscure figures like Mr. Parnas and Mr. Fruman.
Mr. Trump continues to defend the effort, which is the focus of the impeachment inquiry that House Democrats opened last month. The new indictment, however, suggests the first criminal implications of the shadow foreign policy that Mr. Giuliani pushed on behalf of the president.
The whole saga just came to a rolling boil. The two men were arrested at Dulles International Airport with one way tickets to Vienna. Coincedently Rudy Guiliani was also scheduled to fly to Vienna.
Unlike Watergate this scandal STARTED with a confession by Donald Trump in the summary of his infamous telephone call with Ukranian PM Zelenski. Now we are starting to fill in the details.
Mr. Giuliani has been public about his hunt for damaging information about Democrats, and the indictment gives a more complete picture about how he seems to have subcontracted part of the work to Mr. Parnas and Mr. Fruman, two of his longtime associates.
(The indictment directly connected the two men to a key element of the pressure campaign, an effort to recall the United States ambassador to Ukraine, Marie L. Yovanovitch, after she became a focus of criticism from many of Mr. Trump's allies. Mr. Parnas and Mr. Fruman donated money and pledged to raise additional funds in 2018 -- some violating legal limits -- for a congressman who was then enlisted in the campaign to oust her, court papers showed.
Ms. Yovanovitch, a career diplomat who appears tho have been removed from her post because she wouldn't 'play ball', is due to be deposed tomorrow by a House Committee.
Meanwhile, Nancy Pelosi is having a telephone conference tomorrow with House Democrats to get a sense of their positions on the impeachment investigation.
This story has long legs.
Fri Sep 27th, 2019 at 03:59:44 AM EST
Boris Johnson could bypass key law blocking no-deal Brexit by issuing order to suspend it, John Major warns Independent
Boris Johnson may be planning to bypass a law blocking a no-deal Brexit by issuing an order to suspend it until after the scheduled date of Britain's EU withdrawal on 31 October, former prime minister Sir John Major has warned.
The order could be passed by ministers acting in the Privy Council without the involvement of parliament or the Queen, said Sir John, who denounced the tactic as "a piece of political chicanery that no one should ever forgive or forget".
In a speech to the Centre for European Reform, the former PM said he suspects that Mr Johnson is eager for an early election because he has seen the unedited version of government impact assessments and wants the vote out of the way before the public is aware of the full scale of the damage no deal will do to the country.
Never underestimate the ingenuity of a sociopathic maniac.
Tue Sep 24th, 2019 at 10:26:02 AM EST
In a unanimous decision the Supreme Court of the UK has ruled that the prorogation of Parliament by the Prime Minister is null and void. The Speaker of the House, the leaders of the Liberal Democrats, SNP and Labour have called for Parliament to be reconvened as soon as possible.
This prolonged suspension of Parliamentary democracy took place in quite exceptional circumstances: the fundamental change which was due to take place in the Constitution of the United Kingdom on 31st October. Parliament, and in particular the House of Commons as the elected representatives of the people, has a right to a voice in how that change comes about. The effect upon the fundamentals of our democracy was extreme.
No justification for taking action with such an extreme effect has been put before the court....It does not discuss the impact of prorogation on the special procedures for scrutinising the delegated legislation necessary to achieve an orderly withdrawal from the European Union, with or without a withdrawal agreement, on 31st October. It does not discuss what Parliamentary time would be needed to secure Parliamentary approval for any new withdrawal agreement, as required by section 13 of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018.
The Court is bound to conclude, therefore, that the decision to advise Her Majesty to prorogue Parliament was unlawful because it had the effect of frustrating or preventing the ability of Parliament to carry out its constitutional functions without reasonable justification.
Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger
Wed Sep 4th, 2019 at 01:31:20 AM EST
Austerity-obsessed Europe could combat climate change without raising taxes Lars Syll Real World Economic Review
Just to be clear, the European countries have been far better global citizens in this area than the United States. Their per-person emissions are roughly half as much as the United States. Furthermore, many European countries have already taken aggressive measures to promote clean energy and encourage conservation.
But in the battle to slow global warming, simply doing better than the United States is not good enough. The European Union can and must do more to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.
This is where the continent's mindless push for austerity comes into the picture. European governments, led by Germany, have become obsessed with keeping deficits low and balancing budgets. Most have small deficits or even budget surpluses.
This means that there are underutilized resources in the Eurozone that can be tapped without producing additional inflation. The result of additional government spending on a Green New Deal would simply be a higher growth rate for the GNPs of constituent member states, perhaps even positive interest rates and a healthier environment.
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