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

British Election Update

by Zwackus Sun May 28th, 2017 at 02:18:09 AM EST

It seems that yet another election campaign built on inevitability is sputtering and gasping in the home stretch. Just a few weeks ago, pundits were wondering whether Labour would lose as badly as it did in 1983 ... or worse. The polls around then suggested that Labour would be lucky to do as well as in that epic defeat. Oh, what a difference a few weeks can make.

Front paged - Frank Schnittger

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Labour's leaked manifesto

by Zwackus Fri May 12th, 2017 at 04:39:41 AM EST

A document, which is claimed to be the election manifesto for the (perhaps doomed) Labour party, has been leaked to the media at least a week early. Let's take a look.

Front paged - Frank Schnittger

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The Macron Leak

by Zwackus Sat May 6th, 2017 at 04:27:08 AM EST

So, this is all over the news. No links, for reasons I will explain below.

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Trump calls out Germany over the Euro

by Zwackus Thu Feb 2nd, 2017 at 12:29:12 AM EST

This is interesting.

Trump's trade advis​​er says Germany uses euro to 'exploit' US and EU

The relationship between Germany and the Euro has long been one of interest here. Let's discuss.

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

Read more... (58 comments, 686 words in story)

German Election Early News Roundup

by Zwackus Thu Jan 19th, 2017 at 03:51:23 AM EST

I know next to nothing about German politics, but I can paste links with the best of them. Here is what I have found. Please add context and content as interested and available.

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

Read more... (11 comments, 920 words in story)

Macron Surges in the Polls

by Zwackus Wed Jan 18th, 2017 at 01:28:13 AM EST

According to the press narrative, a "vibrant" and "enthusiastic" and "energetic" Emmanuel Macron is rising in the polls and challenging the nationalist and nativist mood.

What have we here?

Promoted - Frank Schnittger

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Destroying Democracy to Save It

by Zwackus Fri Dec 16th, 2016 at 12:29:50 AM EST

Post-election events in the US have been as depressing as expected. Two developments, in particular, suggest that American democracy is really and truly in its death throes.

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LQD - Water rights in California and Australia

by Zwackus Sat Mar 29th, 2014 at 01:47:14 AM EST

An interesting Op-Ed in the LA Times argued for comprehensive water-rights reform, based on the Australian model.  It seemed like something the good readers here at ET would find interesting.

The Water Revolution California Needs

This year's drought has thrown California into a sudden tizzy, a crisis of snowpack measurements, fish-versus-people arguments and controversial cuts in water deliveries. But in reality, crisis is the permanent state of water affairs in the Golden State -- by design, because our institutions keep it that way.


Even with the gargantuan re-engineering of nature, there is never enough water. How could there be, when according to the calculations of fishing and environmental advocates, the state has granted more than five times as many water rights claims as there is water in our main rivers, even in a good year? When our Gold Rush-era laws all but compel water-rights holders to use as much water as they can, as fast as possible, lest they lose their entitlements?


Instead, California ought to learn from the experience of Australia, the driest continent on Earth, with a broadly similar economy, climate and, until recently, a similarly balkanized and economically irrational water management system. Faced with a 12-year-long drought, which brought fatal brush fires to its cities and devastation to its agricultural communities, Australia's state and federal governments agreed in 2007 to manage their water "in the national interest rather than on jurisdictional or sectoral based views," in the words of the federal environment minister.


So far, Australia's new water market has performed as economists predicted: Even in the worst year of the drought, with delivery cuts of two-thirds, the value of agricultural production remained 70% of normal, according to Mike Young, professor at the University of Adelaide. Initially, water prices soared, but they have since fallen back as farmers and urban users have learned to do more with less. Australia's cities, already relatively frugal, cut their use by 35% to 50%. Fear of hoarding by outside investors and market manipulation proved overblown, but California ought to take these potential pitfalls into account in designing its own water markets.

Comments >> (10 comments)

LQD - New Blood for the Fed

by Zwackus Fri Jan 10th, 2014 at 09:18:28 PM EST

Obama to nominate Stanley Fischer, 2 others to Fed seats.

WASHINGTON -- President Obama will nominate Stanley Fischer, the former head of the Bank of Israel, to be vice chair of the Federal Reserve, and also tapped two other people for seats on the central bank's Board of Governors, the White House said Friday.

Lael Brainard, who recently stepped down as Treasury undersecretary for international affairs, was chosen to fill one of the vacant seats on the seven-member Fed board.

And Jerome H. Powell, a former Treasury official and investment banker who has served on the Fed board since 2012, will be renominated. Powell was confirmed to an unexpired term that expires on Jan. 31.


Comments >> (5 comments)

Class War

by Zwackus Thu Aug 22nd, 2013 at 09:25:27 AM EST

A familiar idea here on ET is that the 1% crowd is pushing for the creation of a neo-feudal order, waging a class war of the very richest versus everyone else in which they progressively destroy every ounce of economic and social security and independence held by those outside their circle, and neuter the ability of the state to step in and protect individuals from economic exploitation.  This is simply the end result of a push to maximize relative status.

front-paged by afew

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Utopian Ideas - Digital Infrastructure

by Zwackus Tue Jun 11th, 2013 at 05:03:18 AM EST

Here on ET, it's generally acknowledged that infrastructure is something that is best done by the government, and preferably during recessions via deficit spending.  Infrastructure is commonly thought of as things that provide for the public good, and that are most useful when provided to all.

Lots of things count as infrastructure.  Roads and bridges are the obvious examples, but power generation and distribution, mail and package delivery, rail and air transport, phone and data networks, medical services, security and disaster relief, and a whole variety of other things could also be considered infrastructure.

How about software?

front-paged by afew

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Austrians finally discover hyperinflation - in Diablo III

by Zwackus Mon May 27th, 2013 at 11:53:52 PM EST

I ran across an interesting link at one of my favorite gaming review and discussion sites, Rock Paper Shotgun, that I thought the community at Eurotrib might find amusing.

Peter C. Earle, a scholar <cough> at the Von Mieses institute, has found what hard-money Austrians have always feared was just around the corner - hyperinflation.  Unfortunately, for them at any rate, its not in a real world economy, but in a video game's virtual economy, Diablo 3.  A Virtual Weimar

Read more... (1 comment, 600 words in story)

LQD - 32 Trillion in Offshore Tax Havens?

by Zwackus Thu Apr 4th, 2013 at 04:52:52 AM EST

This is interesting.

Leaks reveal secrets of the rich who hide cash offshore

Read more... (12 comments, 277 words in story)

MMT, full employment, and the limits of power

by Zwackus Wed Nov 28th, 2012 at 04:34:36 AM EST

In my previous diary, Once more into the fray, taxes, deficits, and MMT, an interesting discussion developed on the social and economic limits to the ability of the government to create full employment.  That is a really interesting topic which was only partly addressed in the discussion, and I'd like to invite the ET community to return to that topic for a more focused examination of the topic.

front-paged by afew

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Once more into the fray - taxes, deficits, and MMT

by Zwackus Mon Nov 12th, 2012 at 03:57:24 AM EST

I posted a diary a while ago on my understanding of what exactly taxes, deficits, and the national debt are, and it provoked a wonderful discussion.  I've been busy lately, and there was an election or something recently, so I never returned to the topic as I'd planned.

But a couple of days ago, I got a burst of inspiration, and wrote a long diary on the topic on Kos,  Why deficits don't matter

Thinking about it, I should have posted this here first, to get expert commentary and criticism before preaching to the unwashed masses.  Nonetheless, the reception was reasonable.  So take a look and let me know what you think.

As should be clear from the start, I was going for persuasive and readable over detailed and wonky, and got a bit over the top towards the end.  Next time.

front-paged by afew

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A Journey to the West . . . China! With Photos

by Zwackus Sat Aug 11th, 2012 at 11:45:37 PM EST

I just got back from an 11 day tour of central China.  I started off in Hangzhou, continued to Suzhou, then flew inland to Zhangjiajie, drove up to Fenghuang, and finally flew to Chengdu and did sightseeing in the nearby area.  Here are some observations I made during the trip that I thought the readers of ET might find interesting.

I apologize ahead of time that there are no photos.  I don't have pictures of many of the things I discuss in this diary.  Also, I have yet to figure out how to put pictures into ET diaries. [update] See photos in my Flickr gallery here

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LQD - Economists Agree ... that Republicans are crazy?

by Zwackus Wed Jul 25th, 2012 at 06:26:55 AM EST

This was linked on the front page of Daily Kos, and I thought it might be of particular interest over here - especially since I haven't seen a LQD in a while.

The US Economic Policy Debate is a Sham

Read more... (4 comments, 398 words in story)

Japan's new Feed-in Tariff

by Zwackus Tue Jun 26th, 2012 at 05:27:16 AM EST

Courtesy of Sustainable Business News, hat tip to Daily Kos diarist Lawrence's diary, Japan about to experience Huge Renewable Energy Boom!

This weekend, Japan approved re-starting two nuclear reactors despite mass public opposition at the same time as announcing pricing for the country's landmark renewable energy feed-in tariff (FiT).

Solar stocks rallied on the premium price that will be paid for solar, which many think will boost Japan to the world's largest solar market.

The FiT could spur at least $9.6 billion in new solar installations with 3.2 gigawatts (GW) of capacity, around the output of three nuclear plants, forecasts Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Japan's FiT will no doubt shore up the world's solar manufacturing industry, but Japanese business groups worry it will raise utility bills and slow economic recovery.

The FiT requires utilities to pay $0.53 cents per kilowatt-hour for 20 years for solar, triple that of China's and almost double that of Germany.

Greenwashing, better than nothing, or a real step in the right direction?

front-paged with edit by afew

Comments >> (69 comments)

Socratic Economics XII: Utopian Government Finance

by Zwackus Fri May 25th, 2012 at 04:29:20 AM EST

Reading here on ET has given me a few ideas as to how government finance and the money supply work.  I'm curious to see what people think, and to have my thinking corrected by the infinite font of wisdom that is ET.

  1. Money is created by government spending and bank lending.
  2. Money is destroyed by taxation.
  3. The purpose of taxation is not to fund government, but to manage the money supply, and to penalize or support certain activities in the economy.
  4. There is no special connection between government spending and inflation - government spending is an inflation driver only in the circumstances in which the same spending by private entities would be inflationary.
  5. Maintaining a connection between government spending and taxation is completely pointless.

If these are reasonably correct, then what exactly are the outer boundaries for a workable system of government finance?

front-paged with minor edits by afew

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Media Reform Ideas

by Zwackus Sat Feb 11th, 2012 at 11:02:21 PM EST

Every so often I get big, utopian ideas that are probably totally unworkable and undesirable, but nonetheless interesting to think about.  ET is a great place for reasoned and rational discussion of policy ideas, and there hasn't been much talk along these lines outside of finance and energy of late.  So, here are some big ideas to think about.  Tear me to pieces, and in the process let's have an interesting discussion.

Up for discussion today is an old idea, the abolition of advertising, and a new one, the radical dissolution of media conglomerates.

When possible, I'd like to ask people to think about, "is this a good idea?" and "would this work as intended?", rather than "The powers that be would never allow this."  I'm fully aware of the utterly impossible nature of ridiculous Utopian ideas - but I do find it fun to think about them.

Read more... (53 comments, 735 words in story)
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