Friday, August 1, 2014

Is the Committee To Neuter Fiat In League With Kotlikoff?

   (Commentary posted by Roger Erickson.)

Is the CNF smart enough to co-hatch a feeble conspiracy? This particular fixation on nominal threats may be just brain-dead enough to be within their reach. :(

If you restate their words with accurate, context-relevant semantics, their entire panic is deflated:

"On Highways and VA, Congress Continues Piling up [Real Assets] and [Private Financial Savings]."
That doesn't sound so bad. Other people call that "Nation Building."

"Congress has passed and the President is about to sign two bills that increase the national debt for no other reason than lawmakers seem utterly unwilling to pay the nation's bills. The highway bill pays for 60 percent of its $11 billion trust fund deposit through a budget gimmick known as pension smoothing, which temporarily reduces companies' pension obligations. It raises revenue in the first six years but costs money after that. While the Senate originally wisely rejected this gimmick, the final bill falls back on it.

Congress dawdled for months knowing that a deadline was approaching and instead of addressing the chronic highway funding shortfall, it waited until the last minute, rejected the responsible gimmick-free approach suggested in the Senate, and passed an easy fix so it could leave town.

On top of that, Congress passed a VA reform bill that would add an additional $10 billion to the national debt. Taking care of our veterans should be a top national priority, and the recently passed legislation is a tremendous improvement over the hugely expensive blank-check approach previously supported. But there is no good reason Congress could not have identified the pay-fors to make sure the legislation was fiscally responsible.

Things that are worth doing, are worth paying for. Unfortunately, Congress seems more comfortable making dumb decisions on a deadline - so they can go home and campaign - than smart decisions in a timely fashion."


Wouldn't it be easier & shorter to simply say that Congress is deciding what the country needs to, and appropriating the currency that allows everyone to contribute their part ... with adequate tempo and agility?

Maybe Maya ought to look up the definition of dumb, and relate it to the context she's speaking within? Can someone ask her how a democracy able to invent and create things ... also manages to invent & create the currency notation that denominates all the endless static and dynamic assets that all its citizens exchange? If necessary, break that up into small, "Dick & Jane" sentences, and give her 8 years to work through them.

Walter Shewhart is probably turning over in his grave. Not to mention Ben Franklin, Marriner Eccles & Beardsley Ruml.

Capitalism and Slavery — Alex Gourevitch interviews Greg Grandin

Interesting article of the evolution of liberalism as a social, political, and economic theory out of slavery, including wage slavery. Liberalism is work in progress. Humanity has come a long way, and still has a long way to go before realizing the ideal of liberalism, if that is even possible practically.
Capitalism is, among other things, a massive process of ego formation, the creation of modern selves, the illusion of individual autonomy, the cultivation of distinction and preference, the idea that individuals had their own moral conscience, based on individual reason and virtue. The wealth created by slavery generalized these ideals, allowing more and more people, mostly men, to imagine themselves as autonomous and integral beings, with inherent rights and self-interests not subject to the jurisdiction of others. Slavery was central to this process not just for the wealth the system created but because slaves were physical and emotional examples of what free men were not.
But there is more. That process of individuation creates a schism between inner and outer, in which self-interest, self-cultivation, and personal moral authority drive a wedge between seeming and being. Hence you have the emergence of metaphysicians like Melville, Emerson, and of course Marx, along with others, trying to figure out the relationship between depth and surface.
Enslaved peoples multiplied the fetish power of capital at least fivefold: they were labor, they were commodities, they were capital, collateral, and investment, they were consumers (since in many parts of South America, they were paid wages), and, in some areas, they were money, the standard on which the value of other goods was determined. They were also items of conspicuous consumption.…
There are numerous figures who affirm the value of freedom, the right of self-government, and at least some of whom will go on to engage in republican revolution against colonial domination. Yet these same individuals show little to no sympathy for the slaves, or even participate in their re-enslavement.…
That contradiction was the structuring contradiction of the day (and still is, no?). Spanish-American merchants wanted “more liberty,” and they defined liberty as their right to buy and sell humans as they would. In the United States, Kentucky’s 1850 “bill of rights” stated that the “right of an owner of a slave to such a slave, and its increase, is the same, and as inviolable as the right of the owner of any property whatever.”…
Others have made this point, including David Brion Davis, that the struggle over slavery, both for and against, had the effect of reifying slavery as the supreme evil, and reifying freedom — defined as the absence of formal slavery — as the supreme good. The issue is complex, obviously, since for enslaved peoples slavery was indeed the absolute evil, and they valued political freedom as a supreme good. And there were many abolitionists who viewed chattel slavery within a broader spectrum of exploitation, including wage slavery, that needed to be abolished. And I know that scholars of the US have shown that conceptions of US citizenship, and freedom, are layered, complex, and contradictory.
Still, as someone who has worked primarily on Latin America, I can’t help but compare that region’s deep tradition of social rights to the US’s antipathy to those rights, at least among a mobilized and consequential sector of the US public.
Take, for instance, Rand Paul’s recent comment that to believe in the right to health care is to believe in the right to slavery. It seems fairly clear to me that the Right’s inability to escape the rhetoric of slavery, its insistence on framing all political debate within the absolutist antinomy of freedom and slavery, and to assail not even social rights but even the idea of public policy as a form of enslavement, has something to do with the history of slavery in America. 
The cult of white supremacy that grew out of that history evolved into today’s cult of individual supremacy. Paul’s statement would be totally incomprehensible to most people in Latin America, indeed the world, as silly as anything that came out of Alice’s mouth: “If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is because everything would be what it isn’t. And contrary-wise; what is it wouldn’t be, and what it wouldn’t be, it would. You see?” The problem is that the US has had a world of its own, so the idiocy of white supremacy, and its progeny, individual supremacy, is perpetuated.

Capitalism and Slavery: An Interview with Greg Grandin
Alex Gourevitch, assistant professor of political science in the Department of Political Science, Brown University interviews Greg Grandin, professor of history at New York University

David Dayen — GOP hypocrites neglect poor — while drafting secret pro-military loophole

No surprise here.
With one relatively insignificant clause buried on Page 364 of a massive budget bill thatwill get voted on today, Congress told us everything we need to know about federal spending priorities, the empty rhetoric of “budget discipline” and the power of the military-industrial complex. We learned that Congress can’t fund anything — like food stamps or unemployment insurance — without a spending cut to offset it … unless the item in question has something to do with the military.
GOP hypocrites neglect poor — while drafting secret pro-military loopholeDavid Dayen

Rebecca Valla — Something we can all get behind: Subsidized Jobs

“How can we get more low-income adults into jobs, so they can better support their families and move up the economic ladder? … One approach to achieving this goal is through supporting subsidized jobs.” – Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA)
Something we can all get behind: Subsidized Jobs
Rebecca Valla

Max Sawicky — MaxSpeak vs. VoxSpeak: the reckoning

More on UBI.
I’ve said that the Universal Basic Income (UBI) proposal should be read not as a proposal, but as a critique of the really-existing U.S. welfare state. My contention is that it is not a well-founded critique.
MaxSpeak vs. VoxSpeak: the reckoning
Max Sawicky

Rubin-Horton Who’s A Conscience

(Commentary posted by Roger Erickson)

How ignoring climate change could sink the US economy

That's all true. But coming from Robert Rubin, of all people? Yes. He recently posted a claim that he really does have a conscience. Oddly, rather than apologizing for having Brooksley Borne muzzled, repealing the Glass-Steagall act and robbing the US Middle Class on a massive scale, Rubin chose to distract his growing critics with a morality claim about global warming.


Maybe this fulfills a childhood duty, to someday, somewhere disorient all the victims with a nominal act of ritual penance. Has Rubin-Horton picked a ritual WHO to pretend to hear? Something to indicate that he does have at least of some sort conscience? Or is this just a standard "look over there!" ploy to divert our attention?

One can almost picture Robby as a child, discussing dynasty plans with a relative.

Rubin-relative: “Listen, Robby. Your #1 responsibility is to grow up and sequester more demand-leakages for the family.”
Robert Rubin: “From where?” 
Rubin-relative: “From your neighbors, others, the country … who cares? The important thing is to hoard huge amounts of demand-leakages.”
Robert Rubin: “What’s a demand-leakage?” 
Rubin-relative: “Anything they got, son. Anything they got. If you take what’s theirs, then you have power over them. That’s what we want.”
Robert Rubin: “What for?” 
Rubin-relative: “What for? Don’t be some Mack stuck at the bottom, Robbie. You wanna be a Yertle, someone who’s better than others, and gets lots of nice toys. We either stick together as a family and screw this country first, or they might remain strong enough to survive us. Capiche? There’s no room for a conscience.”
Robert Rubin: “I guess. But at school we’re told that having a conscience is good, and necessary if we want this country to maintain a social conscience! Why can’t both the neighbors and us all become better off?” 
Rubin-relative: “Conscience, smoncience! You listen to me. We came here to get ahead of others, not to build no damn democracy. You start talking conscience & you’ll end up like those fools who wrote the US Constitution. Most of them died poor!!!”
Robert Rubin: “But I LIKE having a conscience!” 
Rubin-relative: “Fine. Once you get rich, you can BUY some token conscience. Just don’t overspend. You wouldn’t wanna let YOUR family down, now would you?”
Robert Rubin: “I get it! Okay, I promise. When I grow up, I’ll get so rich that I’ll buy the whole Congress! Then I can show people I have a conscience, and can buy as much of it as I want, no matter how much stuff we sequester from others.” 
Rubin-relative: “That’s my boy! Now you’re talking big stuff.”

Robert Rubin? Conscience? SOCIAL CONSCIENCE? Is any combo of Rubin & conscience an oxymoron?

Perhaps it’s just Robert Rubin’s way of saying that he’s gonna go into the global warming insurance business.

After that pond’s all fished out, what’s next?

Will Rubin, et al try to sell derivatives on Solar System insurance? Who’ll be left to buy that policy ... and get screwed on an even bigger scale? God? And does little Robbie really think he’ll be able to collect? Maybe he should go back to that childish inner voice, and see if it’s still asking “why” - before it’s too late.

No fun in being Yertle once there's no Mack left.

Emma Roller — Does the state have a place in nature?

Burning Man relies on a "giving economy" where attendees are encouraged to give goods and services free of charge—a system that Harvey has called "old-fashioned capitalism." And this is hardly the first instance of capitalists like Norquist being drawn to Burning Man. In recent years, Silicon Valley's elite, including Google CEO Eric Schmidt, have flocked to the event.
Norquist says the festival is a good example of the theory of spontaneous order. The theory, which was promoted by Austrian economists like Friedrich Hayek, holds that a natural structure will emerge out of a seemingly chaotic environment without need for outside intervention.
"There's no government that organizes this," Norquist said. "That's what happens when nobody tells you what to do. You just figure it out. So Burning Man is a refutation of the argument that the state has a place in nature."
"This is a fun, exciting, cheerful collection of people being free of state control and doing stuff they want to do," he continued. "If somebody wants to sit in a corner and read Hayek, I think that that's allowed. If people want to run around with not as much clothes as they normally do, I think that's allowed as well."
Once he gets to Black Rock, he doesn't have an objective. "I'm going to chat with people who have done it before and who are there, and go with the flow," he said.
Grover Norquist flouts his anarchism.

National Journal
Does the state have a place in nature?
Emma Roller

Laurence Kotlikoff Tries To Screw His Country Again ... On Behalf Of Whomever's Paying Him. The NY Times Jumps Onboard As Willing Accomplice

   (Commentary posted by Roger Erickson)

Add Laurence Kotlikoff to that list of identified traitors to the USA.
"HOUSEHOLDS can’t spend, on a continuing basis, more than they earn. Countries can’t either, at least not over the long run."
Kotlikoff is spewing words that fail the most fundamental rule of discourse: Define your terms - or accept nonsensical semantics masquerading as discourse. Was Kotlikoff raised on Erble Logic?

Just restate his statements accurately, in the following way.

"CURRENCY USERS can’t spend, on a continuing basis, more than the currency they earn.

CURRENCY ISSUERS can, obviously, since they create, on-demand, the currency that their users need, to denominate existing transactions - no matter how fast they increase."

See? That wasn't so hard.

Kotlikoff is inventing a fiat mountain out of fiat nonsense, by misusing the semantics. Why? He should go into the magicians business, where it actually pays to distract and fool audiences. That strategy does NOT benefit a democracy.

How do YOU spell "Benedict Arnold?"

Few, if any, perform this kind of treason without a willing sponsor. Does anyone know who is paying Kotlikoff to spew such nonsense? Neither Marriner Eccles nor Beardsley Ruml would approve. Not even Benjamin Franklin

Who ya gonna believe? People that SERVED their country? Or those who undermine it, for personal gain?

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Greg Hannsgen — Another Eccles at the Fed?

Nicholas Lemann profiles the new Fed chair in the July 21 issue of The New Yorker. One of the key themes of the newer article is that Yellen is “the most liberal [Fed chair] since Marriner Eccles,” and an “unrepentant Keynesian.” 
The article usefully contrasts Yellen’s policy views with those of orthodox macroeconomics. Yellen identifies as an adherent of the philosophy that government is capable of greatly improving on the outcomes of a modern capitalist system. (For many, this is the essence of what is known as the liberal view in the US political realm. Yellen’s liberalism will matter (1) in financial regulation, and (2) in macro policy, where the Fed is influential.)
Multiplier Effect
Another Eccles at the Fed?
Greg Hannsgen

Brian Romanchuk — Book Review - Money: The Unauthorized Biography

The book "Money: The Unauthorized Biography" by Felix Martin is a comprehensive popular history of money. Money and banking are topics of considerable interest since the end of the financial crisis, and they are also areas of great confusion. In this book, Felix Martin offers a clear history of the subject.
Bond Economics
Book Review - Money: The Unauthorized Biography
Brian Romanchuk

Dan Froomkin — It’s About the Lying

Figuring out how to right the constitutional imbalance between the branches of government, as exposed by this CIA assault on Congress, is very complicated. 
But doing something about lying isn’t. You need to hold people accountable for it.
The Intercept
It’s About the Lying
Dan Froomkin

David F. Ruccio — Maximum wage—or, even better, no wages

The time is ripe to open up the debate about proposals like establishing a maximum wage, guaranteeing a basic income, and prohibiting any and all forms of wage-labor. The only price of admission is to listen to the howling of mainstream economists.
Real-World Economics Review Blog
Maximum wage—or, even better, no wages
David F. Ruccio | Professor of Economics, University of Notre Dame

Scientific American — Cause of Mysterious Siberian Holes Possibly Found

Global warming?

Scientific American
Cause of Mysterious Siberian Holes Possibly Found
Tanya Lewis and LiveScience

Neil Wilson — Don't bind your hands Argentina

Drop the peg and never, ever borrow in a foreign currency.

Don't bind your hands Argentina
Neil Wilson

Sam Biddle — Why Does Google Employ a Pro-Slavery Lunatic?

I hope this  is satire.
In 2011, Justine Tunney was an anti-establishment organizer within Occupy Wall Street, exhorting class warfare on the sidewalk. Today, it appears that Tunney spends her time ranting against the poor, advocating for the overthrow of American democracy, and not least notably, working at Google's New York branch.
What exactly happened between now and then is unclear. Remnants of the Occupy movement have worked to distance themselves from Tunney, whose views are increasingly of the neo-techno-fascist variety, rather than inclusionary leftism. In February, Tunney seized control of the @OccupyWallStreet Twitter account, which she claims to have created, proclaiming herself the rightful founder of the entire movement. The resulting backlash wasn't the first she's faced from people of all political alignments.
Why Does Google Employ a Pro-Slavery Lunatic?
Sam Biddle
(h/t Lambert Strether at Naked Capitalism)

WaPo Runs Review of Way-Out-Of-Paradigm Book

Charles Lane reviews Eugene Steuerle's new completely out of paradigm, deficit terrorism book. Lane is not stupid, he should know better than to write this garbage:

"This near-total loss of “fiscal freedom” is the theme of “Dead Men Ruling,” a short, superb new book by C. Eugene Steuerle, from which the above statistics derive; the title nicely expresses the fact that today’s lawmakers are tightly constrained by the accumulated, and seemingly unalterable, decisions of their predecessors. Government is not just out of their control; it’s beyond their control. 
Steuerle persuasively argues that the nation’s budget challenge is not simply a matter of deficits and debt, important as they are. 
Rather, the point is to restore a long-term balance between spending and revenue so that the federal government can invest in new priorities without further indebting an already dangerously indebted country. 
 Steuerle’s book is an effective riposte to those who would argue that fiscal concerns are overblown in light of recent progress against the deficit or that “deficit hawks” are just rationalizing mean-spirited “austerity” to punish the poor and elderly.
To the contrary, what Steuerle shows is that the issue is long-term fiscal sustainability, which would provide flexibility.  
A government that lives within its means would be freer to stimulate the economy during recessions or to devote more resources to the needs of poor children — as opposed to maintaining the current consumption of older middle- and upper-middle-class voters, which is the unstated but actual purpose of the status quo."
Blah, blah, blah. Complete garbage. I know WaPo doesn't exactly have the highest standards for economics reporting (H/T Dean Baker!), but this is just pathetic.  I often seriously wonder how some men can go through their entire careers working in fiscal policy and still be so damn ignorant. It is a lack of intellectual curiosity, capacity, or mixture of both? Unfortunately, all we can be sure of is it will be the poor and vulnerable, not the pundits, that will pay for this ignorance.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Steve Keen — The revolt of (part of) the top 1% of the top 1%

What are your preconceptions about the author of a book with the title The Next Economic Disaster: Why It’s Coming and How to Avoid It? Academic? Leftist? Anti-capitalist? Anti-banker certainly?

Prepare to drop them all, because the author is none of the above. Taking the last first, the majority of his career has been in banking — and as a founder and CEO.…
So what is someone who established banks, initiated credit card companies, and is clearly in the top 1 per cent of the top 1 per cent of America doing writing a book that warns of the dangers of private debt?… 

When the poor and the dispossessed complain about inequality, it’s only to be expected. But when part of the top 1 per cent of the top 1 per cent complain about it, it is truly time to worry — and preferably to act.
Real-World Economics Review Blog
The revolt of (part of) the top 1% of the top 1%
Steve Keen

See also US median wealth is down by 20 percent since 1984

Kelly Evans — 'Outversions': They're the new corporate tax trick

Shares of Windstream Holdings surged more than 12 percent Tuesday when the Little Rock, Arkansas-based telecom company said it was going to spin out some of its fiber and copper cable and other real-estate assets into a real-estate investment trust, or REIT. The move will allow Windstream to cut down its debt load and save millions every year in taxes—and the company said it has the blessing in the form of a 'favorable private letter ruling' from the Internal Revenue Service.
You can see where this is going.

Pavlina Tcherneva — 16 Reasons Matt Yglesias is Wrong about the Job Guarantee vs. Basic Income

After straw manning the JG, Yglesias expresses his enthusiasm for a Basic Income Guarantee (BIG). He prefers simply handing out money to the jobless because it’s not as “messy” as the JG. (I’ve already argued why such objections should not be taken seriously). But more importantly, like many BIG advocates, he assumes that the BIG will magically solve the fundamental problem of economic insecurity.
Here are sixteen reasons why this assumption is wrong.
New Economic Perspectives

Timothy Taylor — Universal Basic Income: A Thought Experiment

Pretty much all current public programs to assist households with low incomes suffer from the same seemingly unavoidable problem: As the household's income rises, the amount of assistance provided by the public program is phased out. For example, a person who earns an extra $100 might find that eligibility for public assistance has been reduced by $50. Economists call this reduction in benefits as income rises a "negative income tax," and it is not unusual for studies to find that certain working poor families face negative income tax rates in the range of 50% of the marginal dollar earned, 60%, or even higher (for examples, see here and here). These high negative income tax rates diminish work incentives for those with low incomes.
There's a way out called "universal basic income." Ed Dolan explores "The Pragmatic Case for a Universal Basic Income" in the Third Quarter 2014 issue of the Milken Institute Review (free registration may be required for access).
The idea of a universal basic income is that every U.S. citizen would be entitled to a chunk of money each year. This amount would not vary based on income level, or employment, or disability, or age, or any other reason. Specifically, when a low-income person works and earns income, the universal basic income check would not be reduced in any way. The "negative income tax" rate is zero percent.
The idea of a universal basic income raises obvious questions. How much would it be per person? How would it be financed? Are the politics of such a program conceivable? Let's tackle these in turn.
Conversable Economist
Universal Basic Income: A Thought Experiment
Timothy Taylor

PhysOrg — Worldwide water shortage by 2040

Corporations like CocaCola have been buying up available private water supplies for decades.
Two new reports that focus on the global electricity water nexus have just been published. Three years of research show that by the year 2040 there will not be enough water in the world to quench the thirst of the world population and keep the current energy and power solutions going if we continue doing what we are doing today. It is a clash of competing necessities, between drinking water and energy demand. Behind the research is a group of researchers from Aarhus University in Denmark, Vermont Law School and CNA Corporation in the US.
Worldwide water shortage by 2040
(h/t David Dayan at Naked Capitalism)

Bill McBride — GDP: A Few Graphs

Overall this was a solid report. Private investment rebounded in Q2, and that is the key to more growth going forward.
Calculated Risk
GDP: A Few Graphs
Bill McBride

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Dr Michael Hudson interview with RT International

"It's all about oil and gas."

Dr Michael Hudson interview with RT International

Jack Rasmus — On the Causes of Investment Decline in the US Economy

Sustained recovery requires direct investment, not just a rise in consumption income that hopefully might convince capitalists to again reinvest in the US (or not convince). So the problem is not merely a lack of income growth to stimulate investment. US capitalists are investing–just not in real asset investment and not in the US. They are investing in emerging markets, and even more so in financial asset markets globally (which are now more numerous, liquid, and available than ever before due to the creation of an unregulated global shadow banking system).… 
The more fundamental problem is that finance capital has changed. Raising incomes of workers and middle class Americans will help somewhat, but not all that much. It will not result in sustained economic recovery any longer. It is therefore not the main solution to the long term economic stagnation that the US has been experiencing since 2009. Capitalist profit opportunities are simply greater offshore in EMs, and in financial asset markets, than they are from making goods and services in the US, even if US workers were able to buy those real goods and services if they had more income.…

To argue simply for wage and income growth as the solution to a chronic stagnant US economic recovery—as Krugman and colleagues do for example—is to assume that capitalist enterprise will redirect itself from more lucrative profit opportunities from financial speculation and in offshore markets, back to less profitable real production of goods and services in the US. They won’t to any significant extent, since rates of return in the latter are significantly less than in the former.
The only real solution to a sustained US recovery is for massive public government investment, that then subsequently creates income. Investment precedes income creation, it does not necessarily follow it any longer in a world of 21sts century global finance capital. Just calling for income growth (via minimum wage hikes, more contingent job creation, tax cuts, or whatever) will not necessarily result in US-based investment if Capitalists continue to shift to more profitable financial speculation offshore; public investment must therefore occur prior to income growth in order to generate a sustained recovery.… 
In today’s world of 21st Century Global Finance Capital, don’t expect capitalists to invest in real production and thus jobs and income in the US economy as they did decades ago. They are too busy making greater profits offshore and in financial asset speculation, leveraging the trillions of dollars of free money and credit created for them by the Federal Reserve. If real investment in the US economy is ever to return, it will have to come via major public investment initiatives. And if not, expect chronic economic stagnation to continue, as has been the case since 2010.
On the Causes of Investment Decline in the US Economy — A Reply to Thom Hartmann’s Interview of Richard Wolff
Jack Rasmus

Filip Spagnoli — Let’s Get Rid of Wage Labor


Actually, as Daniel Ellerman addresses this in Does Classical Liberalism Imply Democracy? If life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are inalienable rights, ruling out selling oneself in to slavery, for example, how is it not a violation of an inalienable right to sell one's a portion of one's life for a wage since this is an alienation of one's liberty?

In other words, what the inalienable rights of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness means legally is that these are not property, which is a right that is alienable in that the right to exclusive or partial use of property can be exchanged, thereby alienating (excluding) the original owner from use and conferring exclusive or partial use to another through transfer of ownership.

Spagnoli's post may seem far-fetched but read in terms of Ellerman, who is a proponent of social democracy, it makes a lot more sense. No surprise there, since Ellerman is one of the smartest guys around. If you haven't yet read that article, I strongly suggest doing so as a counter to neoliberalism.

Incidentally, the irony of the phrase. "inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," as a partial enumeration of human rights, and which are also asserted as divinely endowed, is the hypocrisy of its author, a slave holder.

Let’s Get Rid of Wage Labor
Filip Spagnoli
(h/t Mark Thoma at Economist's View)

Mike the Mad Biologist — Republican Rep. Paul Ryan Wants to Create Massive Government Bureaucracy

Essentially, what Paul Ryan wants to do is create a government bureaucracy to monitor these ‘contracts’ (or, maybe monitor the Social Contract?). Conservatives have spent the last forty years railing against this very thing. Of course, people will disagree about whether they hit these ‘benchmarks’, so we’ll need to hire people to adjudicate that process. More ‘big government.’ It also opens people up to the predations and whims of ‘petty government bureaucrats.’
Republican Rep. Paul Ryan Wants to Create Massive Government Bureaucracy
Mike the Mad Biologist
(h/t Mark Thoma at Economist's View)

What Mike the Mad Biologist overlooks is what's in the back of Paul Ryan's mind. He clearly has no intention of creating a new government bureaucracy, which is against everything he stands for. What he wants would be a quasi-judicial system, privatized and run by business to discipline workers and teach them how to work.

Bill Mitchell — No fundamental shift of policy at the Bundesbank

Last week, the Chief economist at the Deutsche Bundesbank, Dr. Jens Ulbrich gave a rather extraordinary interview to the German magazine Der Spiegel. The interview was recorded in the article – Breaking a German Taboo: Bundesbank Prepared to Accept Higher Inflation. The sub-heading said that this marks a “major shift away from the Bundesbank’s hardline approach on price stability” and my profession apparently “hailed the decision as a ‘breakthrough’”. I wouldn’t be so sure. The Bank has a long track record of ignoring the plight of German workers and the workers elsewhere in Europe. The imposition of its ‘culture’ with its disdainful disregard for responsible economic policy on Eurozone political elites has created so much slack in Europe that even it cannot deny the mounting evidence that there is a deflationary problem. But this support for workers’ wage rises won’t last. As soon as the inflation rate exhibits the first uptick – the Bundesbank will be out there berating all and sundry about the dangers of profligacy! Leopards don’t change their spots. 
The Bundesbank has a long history of being willing to sacrifice economic growth and live with persistent mass unemployment in return for low inflation.
Bill Mitchell – billy blog
No fundamental shift of policy at the Bundesbank
Bill Mitchell | Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), at the Charles Darwin University, Northern Territory, Australia

Marshall Auerback — Central Banks Are Trying To Do Too Much, Not Too Little

As the Fed winds down its asset buying program in the form of QE, it is worth considering this recent comment by economist Michael Woodford at the St Louis Fed:
“It’s obviously a very complex situation. In general, I wish the Fed were speaking more about the need for fiscal policy to take on more of the burden of trying to get the economy moving. 
I’m afraid that, to some extent, the Fed’s desire to stress the fact that we still have tools, we haven’t used all of our ammunition, has had unfortunate effects. Of course, the intention of that is to reassure the public. The feeling is that letting people be scared that maybe we’re out of ideas would itself create uncertainty about the future that would be undesirable for the economy. And that’s understandable. 
But I worry that it’s had the undesirable effect of letting Congress off the hook a little too easily by letting them say, “The Fed still has lots of things they can do to take care of the situation, so we can play other games.” 
And I think maybe the Fed would have helped the public debate if it had pushed back a little more on the view that everybody should be assuming the Fed will save everything.”
Classic case of using the wrong tool for the job.

Macrobits by Marshall Auerback
Central Banks Are Trying To Do Too Much, Not Too Little
Marshall Auerback

Is another generational "silly season" reaching its peak? The two contestants are the GOP & DEM parties. That's the bad part.

   (Commentary posted by Roger Erickson)

The good part? There's another generation coming, which grew up watching this one self destruct. Let me know if you find evidence that our next crop will be less silly.

In the meantime, here's some commentary by Chuck Spinney, and an opinion piece by Pat Buchanan - who finally sounds more pragmatic and less knee-jerk conservative.

Which of the following would logic dictate you employ, in different contexts? Say, Domestic Politics vs International Relations? The only thing riding on this is how our electorate will spend the fiat it's told we're low on and running out of.  Of course there are other options to explore, but few seem to be able to see them, and certainly not fast enough.

(Note that feedback significance includes tempo!)

From: Chuck Spinney (by permission)

"A nation’s foreign policy is a reflection of its domestic politics.

Today, it is an undeniable fact that US foreign policy is now, like its domestic politics, a shambles of non-cooperative centers of gravity.

One need only consider Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Palestine, Egypt, Libya, Africa, Yeman, spying on our closest allies (esp. Germany), the perpetual drone war, Ukraine, etc. US leaders flit from one crisis to another in what has become a Whack-a-Mole game. The chaos abroad mirrors the chaos and reactiveness in our broken domestic politics at home, where special interests are running amok.
Lest you think the chaos cannot get worse, think again. Patrick Buchanan's powerfully argued essay will get you started in this direction. Among other things, Pat shows how the foreign policy shambles is directly linked to 2014 election politics via fueling the rise of anti-Russian right-wing militarism (and, while unstated, the 'requirement' to protect the MICC from the mild budgetary implications of the now forgotten Sequester).

Lest you think this desire to protect the MICC during an election is a right-wing Republican phenomenon, President Obama is fighting back in a last minute effort to buy off the defense contractor wing of the MICC with a doubling down of foreign sales of high tech US weapons, as part of a larger Clintonesqe triangulation strategy that includes privatizing infrastructure to keep the senate from going Republican. (H/T Pierre Sprey for this observation).

And of course, looming in the offing, is the inevitable ‘bipartisan' competition to see who can take the most political credit for increasing the weapons and aid flowing to the Israel’s to compensate Israelis using up US-provided weapons to massacre Palestinians in Gaza — an operation that is clearly inimical to the long-term national interest and security, not to mention what little is left of our moral stature in the world."

A GOP Ultimatum to Vlad

Mark Gongloff — 'Patriotic' Big Banks Profit Helping U.S. Companies Dodge Taxes

Goldman in the lead doing more of God's work.

The Huffington Post
'Patriotic' Big Banks Profit Helping U.S. Companies Dodge Taxes
Mark Gongloff