Monday, January 16, 2017

Richard Vague — Rapid Money Supply Growth Does Not Cause Inflation

Rapid Money Supply Growth Does Not Cause Inflation
Richard Vague, currently managing partner of Gabriel Investments and the chairman of The Governor’s Woods Foundation, a non-profit philanthropic organization. Previously, he was co-founder, Chairman and CEO of Energy Plus, and also co-founder and CEO of two consumer banks, First USA and Juniper Financial

Publisher's blurb:
Current debates about economic crises typically focus on the role that public debt and debt-fueled public spending play in economic growth. This illuminating and provocative work shows that it is the rapid expansion of private rather than public debt that constrains growth and sparks economic calamities like the financial crisis of 2008.
Relying on the findings of a team of economists, credit expert Richard Vague argues that the Great Depression of the 1930s, the economic collapse of the past decade, and many other sharp downturns around the world were all preceded by a spike in privately held debt. Vague presents an algorithm for predicting crises and argues that China may soon face disaster. Since American debt levels have not declined significantly since 2008, Vague believes that economic growth in the United States will suffer unless banks embrace a policy of debt restructuring.
All informed citizens, but especially those interested in economic policy and history, will want to contend with Vague's distressing arguments and evidence.

George Eliason — Indict Clinton For the Russian DNC Hack

More on the Ukrainian connection. For previous posts on this, search on "George Eliason" on this blog.

The Ukrainian connection actually extends far beyond the alleged Russian hacking. Ukrainian views including Ukrainian intel services have been stovepiped into US policy making since the Maidan coup d'etat.

Washington's Blog
Indict Clinton For the Russian DNC Hack
George Eliason

RIA Novosti — The Art of No Deal: Putin says 'no' to Trump's nukes for sanctions offer

Moscow will not consider reducing nuclear weapons in exchange for the US lifting sanctions. This has been stated by the Russian president’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov.
Russia has already said previously it will not negotiate over sanctions. Door open for negotiation on nuclear disarmament after inauguration.

Fort Russ
The Art of No Deal: Putin says 'no' to Trump's nukes for sanctions offer
RIA Novosti - translated by J. Arnoldski

Trump's attempt to bring the one China policy and Russian sanctions into negotiations has failed out of the box.


Russia tests an ICBM.
The missile’s operational range is 11,000 kilometers [6,835 miles], its launch weight is 46.5 tonnes, the throw weight is 1.2 tonnes. It has one warhead.

winterspeak — Ruled by experts? Not the Fed

Democracy or technocracy?

Ruled by experts? Not the Fed

Put it on the board

Peterson people at CRFB are down for -21 million from Trumpcare. Game on, let's see how the acquisitors coming in do compared to the intellectuals going out...

Kevin G. Hall And Tim Johnson — Russian tech expert named in Trump report says US intelligence never contacted him

Same with the servers traced to a Russian company in Siberia.

Russian tech expert named in Trump report says US intelligence never contacted him
Kevin G. Hall And Tim Johnson | McClatchy Washington Bureau


Intelligence Panel Chair Asks Why Democrats Denied Fbi Access After Russian Hacking
Anna Douglas | McClatchy

Read more here:

Paul Robinson — Farage, Bannon, Dugin, & Trumputinism

Professor Robinson trashes the BBC's John Sweeney.
Panorama has been running since 1953. It averages a little over 2 million viewers an episode. It pains me that so many Britons would be subjected to analysis like this without having the chance to hear anybody tell them what utter rot it is....
The BBC is state sponsored.

Farage, Bannon, Dugin, & Trumputinism
Paul Robinson | Professor, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa

Richard Kochetov — Chrystia Freeland Is The Body Double – Canada Plays Hillary Clinton Card At Russia; Kremlin Suspects Freeland Putsch Against Justin Trudeau

Meet Chrystia Freeland — the Victoria Nuland of Canada.

Justin Trudeau appears to be somewhat of a Barack Obama, engaging but useless, with high popularity but low performance ratings.

Dances With Bears
Chrystia Freeland Is The Body Double – Canada Plays Hillary Clinton Card At Russia; Kremlin Suspects Freeland Putsch Against Justin Trudeau
Richard Kochetov

Krugman cites CRFB Analysis

Now he is relying on Peterson analysis. This is not a good idea for anybody...

Gilbert Doctorow — Trump’s Remaking of US Foreign Policy

President-elect Trump is outlining a foreign policy that rejects the interventionist tenets of Washington’s neocon/liberal-hawk establishment and puts U.S.-Russia nuclear arms control at the top of his agenda, writes Gilbert Doctorow.
Positive assessment. Liberal interventionism and neocon democracy-spreading is over.

Consortium News
Trump’s Remaking of US Foreign Policy
Gilbert Doctorow | European Coordinator of The American Committee for East West Accord Ltd.

See also
So who are the opponents ranged behind the CIA, yelling encouragement through the ropes? The obvious culprits include the U.S. military-industrial complex, whose corporate bottom line relies on an era of unending war. As justification for extracting billions – even trillions – of dollars from American taxpayers, there was a need for frightening villains, such as Al Qaeda and even more so, the head choppers of ISIS. However, since the Russian intervention in Syria in 2015, those villains no longer packed as scary a punch, so a more enduring villain, like Emmanuel Goldstein, the principal enemy of the state in George Orwell’s 1984, was required. Russia was the obvious new choice, the old favorite from the Cold War playbook.
The Western intelligence agencies have a vested interest in eternal enemies to ensure both eternal funding and eternal power, hence the CIA’s entry into the fight. As former British MP and long-time peace activist George Galloway so eloquently said in a recent interview, an unholy alliance is now being formed between the “war party” in the U.S., the military-industrial-intelligence complex and those who would have previously publicly spurned such accomplices: American progressives and their traditional host, the Democratic Party.
Yet, if the Democratic National Committee had not done its best to rig the primariesin favor of Hillary Clinton, then perhaps we would not be in this position. Bernie Sanders would be the President-elect....
Another positive assessment.

Donald Trump v. the Spooks
Annie Machon | former intelligence officer in the UK’s MI5 Security Service (the U.S. counterpart is the FBI)

The head of MI6 endorses Christopher Steele, the compiler of the Trump dossier, complicating Teresa May's initially promising relationship with Donald Trump.

The Independent
Head of MI6 used information from Trump dossier in first public speech
Kim Sengupta
“NATO is a war-making machine, it’s an American operation. Why is it doing this? I think there is a real strategic extremism in the US.” And the “prize in this operation” is Russia, he concluded, adding that such a prize was almost won in the times of Boris Yeltsin (1991-1999), the first Russian president to serve after the fall of the Soviet Union.
“And what really has been upsetting in the US is that Russia is again independent, and that’s intolerable.”
Pilger called outgoing US leader Barack Obama “one of the most violent presidents.”...
Trump faces American ‘war-making machine’ if he tries to strike deal with Russia
John Pilger

Chris Dillow — Inequality as feudalism

Luck of the draw and fairness. Subtitle: Silver spoons and all that, or the myth of meritocracy.

Stumbling and Mumbling
Inequality as feudalism
Chris Dillow | Investors Chronicle

Matias Vernengo — The “Natural” Interest Rate and Secular Stagnation

Link to a paper by Lance Taylor. Free download.

Naked Keynesianism
The “Natural” Interest Rate and Secular Stagnation
Matias Vernengo | Associate Professor of Economics, Bucknell University

J. W. Mason — What Does Crowding Out Even Mean?

In terms of a model, "crowding out" means that increasing the value of one variable diminishes the value of another or other variables.

This occurs in a model of an idealized or stylized world. If the claim is the the ideal or stylized world corresponds to the real world with respect to the factors involved, then it becomes an empirical question that requires examination of data and measurement.

So the first questions are about the model. What assumptions does it depend on?

The next question is whether the assumptions apply to the real world that the model putatively represents. Do the functions adequately represent actual transmission mechanisms?

The question after than is whether is too simplistic to be useful in assessing the real world situation(s) involved in the debate that are in question, e.g., relating to policy formulation or decision making.

This involves distinguishing between general case and specific cases. A general case model may not hold locally owing to institutional arrangements, for example, voluntary political imposition of a debt ceiling limits the general case based on operational analysis of a general system by limiting fiscal space arbitrarily.
Below, I run through six possible meanings of crowding out, and then ask if any of them gives us a reason, even in principle, to worry about over-expansionary policy today. (Another possibility, suggested by Jared Bernstein, is that while we don’t need to worry about supply constraints for the economy as a whole, tax cuts could crowd out useful spending due to some unspecified financial constraint on the federal government. I don’t address that here.) Needless to say, doubts about the economic case for crowding-out are in no way an argument for the specific deficit-boosting policies favored by the new administration.
This is definitely a should-read for people interested in MMT and policy.

I don't want to provide a spoiler — the points are summarized after the explanation — but it may be easier to grasp the points by knowing them beforehand.
So now we have six forms of crowding out:
1. Government competes with business for fixed saving.
2. Government competes with business for scarce liquidity.
3. Increased spending would lead to higher inflation.
4. Increased spending would cause the central bank to raise interest rates.
5. Overfull employment would lead to overfast wage increases.
6. Increased spending would lead to a higher trade deficit.
The next question is: Is there any reason, even in principle, to worry about any of these outcomes in the US today? We can decisively set aside the first, which is logically incoherent, and confidently set aside the second, which doesn’t fit a credit-money economy in which government liabilities are the most liquid asset. But the other four certainly could, in principle, reflect real limits on expansionary policy. The question is: In the US in 2017, are higher inflation, higher interest rates, higher wages or a weaker balance of payments position problems we need to worry about? Are they even problems at all?
J. W. Mason's Blog
What Does Crowding Out Even Mean?
JW Mason | Assistant Professor of Economics, John Jay College, City University of New York

Yves Smith — More on the Economic Hardship of Young Adults

In the US, the cost of the aftermath of the crisis has fallen heavily on young people, mainly due to bad policy responses to the crisis that we’ve described at length as it was happening: the failure to restructure bad loans (particularly mortgages) and impose costs on banks and investors, not just homeowners; the refusal to engage in enough fiscal spending, not just during the crisis but in deficit fights during the Obama Administration. That isn’t to say that other groups haven’t suffered too. Remember that older, less educated whites have suffered a decline in lifespans, which is unheard in anything other than post-USSR economic collapse. And even though some people in their 50s and 60s are sitting pretty, virtually all the ones I know outside McKinsey and top Wall Street circles are looking at working till they drop.

But young people have suffered in a very large way and don’t have any reason to expect much improvement. And the impact on them of diminished earnings early in their career is more serious than taking a hit for a similarly long period later in one’s working life. Various studies have found that lower earnings at the start of one’s career lead to diminished lifetime earnings....
Naked Capitalism
More on the Economic Hardship of Young Adults
Yves Smith

8 men own half the world's wealth

New report bound to trigger all the "inequality!" people:

Sunday, January 15, 2017

OANN — China should stop intervening in FX market and let yuan float: researcher

China should stop intervening in the foreign exchange market, devalue the yuan and let it float freely to restore stability, a senior researcher at a government-backed think tank said.
Xiao Lisheng, a finance expert with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, made the remarks in an article on Monday in the official China Securities Journal amid a growing debate among the country’s economists on whether authorities should let the closely-managed currency trade more freely.
The yuan lost 6.6 percent against the dollar last year, the biggest annual loss since 1994.
“The more the government delays the release of depreciation pressure, the greater the impact and destructive power of the release of depreciation pressure will be,” Xiao wrote.
The authorities should “let the yuan exchange rate have a one-off adjustment to realize a free float” of the currency, he said.…
Cut it loose.
Reporting by Winni Zhou and John Ruwitch; Editing by Kim Coghill

"I'm a Defeated Man. I Wanted to Illuminate the Whole Earth!" - Tesla's Last Interview Before His Death — John Smith interviews Nikola Tesla

Tesla was subtle conscious. He describes his experience in this interview. He recounts that this was by birth for him.

Organic & Healthy
"I'm a Defeated Man. I Wanted to Illuminate the Whole Earth!" - Tesla's Last Interview Before His Death
John Smith interviews Nikola Tesla
Crossposted at Counter Current News

Reuters — Trump vows 'insurance for everybody' in replacing Obamacare

Another good start. Think big.

Trump vows 'insurance for everybody' in replacing Obamacare

Matthew Harrington — Survey: People’s Trust Has Declined in Business, Media, Government, and NGOs

Despite broad distrust of business, there are high expectations for business to do more — a potential opening to turn the tide of public opinion. Three-quarters of people agreed that “a company can take specific actions that both increase profits and improve the economic and social conditions in the community where it operates.” According to our respondents, the best ways business can build trust in a better future are to pay fair wages, offer better benefits, and create more jobs. The fastest ways businesses can erode trust are to bribe government officials, pay outsize compensation to senior management, and avoid taxes.…
The recent collapse of trust in government and media should serve as a powerful lesson to business of what can happen when institutions become disconnected from the interests and opinions of the people they serve. Executives have been warned — their customers and the population at large will be watching closely....
Harvard Business Review
Survey: People’s Trust Has Declined in Business, Media, Government, and NGOs
Matthew Harrington | global chief operating officer of Edelman, a global communications marketing firm

Reuters — Trump says wants nuclear arsenals cut 'very substantially'

Starting out on the right foot. This alone would be a major achievement.

Trump says wants nuclear arsenals cut 'very substantially'

Doina Chiacu — CIA director warns Trump to watch what he says, be careful on Russia

Talk about stepping out of line. Or did President Obama give him the go ahead to take a parting shot at the incoming president?

Waiting for the tweet(s).

The US intelligence services are in need of a purge of politicized officials and agents.

Scott Ritter — Exposing The Man Behind The Curtain

Fact-free intelligence. Inference without evidence.

The Huffington Post
Exposing The Man Behind The Curtain
Scott Ritter, intelligence officer in the U.S. Marines from 1984-1995, specializing in arms control and disarmament in both the former Soviet Union and Iraq

The Art of Pricing

Some discussion about obtaining price discounting thru placing large orders rather than 'onesey-twosey' retail type orders.

Wholesaling is when a boutique or another reseller approaches you to purchase your items in bulk, usually expecting a discount for the large order. 
The expected discounts are between 30% and 60%, most often settling around 50%. These discounts are large,

Can this type of discounting result be expected in government purchases of healthcare?   Perhaps this is what Trump has in mind.

If he can achieve what is often 50% reduction in price paid through a similar process, then he may be able to operate within the targets in the current budgetary resolutions passed by the "out of money!" morons and still expand government individual subsidies.

Etsy Sellers Handbook
The Art of Pricing: Preparing for Wholesaling

Zero Hedge — Questions Emerge Why Trump Security Advisor Spoke Repeatedly With Russian Ambassador

The Washington Post reports that two people familiar with the issue, who spoke on condition of anonymity, claim that President-elect Trump's choice for national security adviser, Michael Flynn, held multiple phone conversations with Russia's ambassador to Washington on the day the US announced retaliation for Moscow's interference in the election.

The phone calls were first reported by Washington Post columnist David Ignatius.
As Reuters reports, the conversations appear to raise further questions about contacts between Trump's advisers and Russian officials….
The deeper question raised is who obtained and leaked this information to frontman David Ignatius, apparently illegally, and published in the Washington Post. 

Anyone see a pattern unfolding at the Post? That was snark. How could anyone miss it?

Zero Hedge
Tyler Durden

Zero Hedge — Confirmed: "Unknown" Republican, Democrat Paid For Anti-Trump Report

Having learned previously both the identity of the former British intelligence officer who compiled the "Trump dossier", revealed by the WSJ earlier this week as former MI-6 staffer Christopher Steele, currently director of London-based Orbis Business Intelligence, and that John McCain was the person who delivered the report to the FBI, one question remained: who commissioned the original report meant to uncover a material,i.e., campaign-ending, weakness in Donald Trump's past.

We now have an answer, or least a partial one....
Zero Hedge
Confirmed: "Unknown" Republican, Democrat Paid For Anti-Trump Report
Tyler Durden

Xinhua — Xi's world vision: a community of common destiny, a shared home for humanity

The chief value for Western liberalism is personal freedom. The chief value for traditional Chinese culture is harmony. 

President Xi is positioning China to reassert its traditional role as the Middle Kingdom, which can also be rendered as Central Realm or even Center of the World based on harmony among all peoples.

Economically, this pits the market state, in which distribution is based on competition among wants, against the welfare state, in which distribution is based on a constellation of needs.

This is often or usually characterized in the West as the distinction between a free market economy and a command economy, but it is actually different approaches to a managed economy, since government necessarily plays key roles in each. There are many such approaches possible and some of them have already been tried.

The looks like it may be the beginning of a new stage in the historical dialectic as China and other non-Western countries become developed countries capable of competing with the West not only economically and militarily but also in the conflict of ideas that drives the historical dialectic from the Hegelian point of view.

In in the view, different ideas clash in the conflict of ideas and some have their moment as dominant before being replaced by a fresh idea in the succeeding moment. However, the idea that is replaced is also subsumed and continues to influence historically. 

A previously subsumed idea may also reemerge subsequently in a fresh form to do battle in the conflict of ideas that drives history. Chinese traditionalism is reemerging in a fresh form to confront the dominant liberalism of West on the world stage. 

They will both be subsumed in another moment in the series of moments that constitutes the temporal unfolding of the historical dialectic. What that might look like then we can only guess at now.
Xi's world vision: a community of common destiny, a shared home for humanity

Trump counters Lewis attack via material terms

You can see how the focus of Trump is on material systems in his counter; this in response to Lewis attack on non-material terms:

A lot of what we are going to see going forward is going to be your typical misunderstandings between the material people coming in vs. the non-material people going out.

In general, if you want good material system outcomes you should get material oriented people to run them... to the extent you don't do this then you get shitty material systems outcomes.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Paul Robinson — The Russian soul and the toxic West

Fyodor Dostoevsky and Vladimir Putin.

It's ironic how the West criticized Communist Russia as being atheistic, and now that Russians have returned to religion and are criticizing the liberal secular West as godless, the West is criticizing Russia for being nationalistic.

The Russian soul and the toxic West
Paul Robinson | Professor, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa

The Economist —To be relevant, economists need to take politics into account

Like I have been saying.

Some people are now waking up to this. The Economist article is typically lame though — a day late and a dollar short. At least they are acknowledging the relevance of politics to economics.

The Economist
To be relevant, economists need to take politics into account
ht/ Lambert Strether at Naked Capitalism

Lars P. Syll — Statistical inference — a self-imposed limitation

The critique of assuming linearly, homeogeneity, additivity and shift invariance holds not only for statistical inference but also reasoning that is deterministic. Physical processes are not necessarily linear — homogenous, additive and shift invariant.

Assuming linearity concerning agents and their relationships, e.g,  through institutional arrangements, requires justification. This point was made by Keynes and later by Robert Lucas in the Lucas critique about effects of changes in policy. Lucas can be viewed as formalizing an aspect of Keynes' criticism of Tinbergen, in this case assuming shift invariance accompanying change in institutional arrangements.
This essay has been devoted to an exposition and elaboration of a single syllogism: given that the structure of all econometric model consists of optimal decision rules of economic agents, and that optimal decision rules vary systematically with changes in the structure of series relevant to the decision maker, it follows that any change in policy will systematically alter the structure of econometric models. — Robert E. Lucas, Jr., Econometric Policy Evaluation: A Critique 
I would not say that econometric models "fail" as much as they are misapplied, misunderstood, or misrepresented. A theory is a causal explanation. A model is an algorithm that expresses this formally. A formal model is not necessarily mathematical. It can also be expresses using formal logic. 

A formal model articulates the structure of an ideal world, where "ideal" means constructed of ideas. As long as the model obeys the rules of logic and mathematics, it is a "good" model. 

The problem is that anything can be stipulated as an assumption without vitiating the model. As long as the formal rules are followed scrupulously it is a "good" model in this sense.

The question is how useful models are in describing a real world world. Obviously, the model will only be as good as the fit between the ideal world articulated by the model and the real world that the model purports to describe in general terms.

There is nothing "wrong" about assuming ceteris paribus in model construction as a formal process. But if a model that assumes cet. par. is applied as an explanation of real world events, the model is vitiated because it cannot be disconfirmed — it is circular. The defender of the model can claim that all things were not held equal, so the model did not actually apply. Well, that is the point! 

An ideal world is unchanging, while the real world is ever-changing. Unchanging ideal models only apply to the real world in the limited instances where the real world is either unchanging or change is so minimal as not be to relevant to the design problem. 

Regarding human agents, this would likely be a matter of nature versus nurture, which terms out to be difficult to distinguish. For example, optimizing is an assumption that is presumed to be a matter of "human nature," as is Mises' "praxeology. " However, these are asserted as self-evident when they are actually either  empirical claims that require substantiation, or else are based on either circular reasoning or gratuitous stipulation.

There is sometime a temptation to conflate a good model in the former sense of coherent and consistent with a good model in the sense of corresponding to observed data and the pragmatic test of usefulness as an explanation. This is illogical since the meaning of "good" has shifted. This is a type of category error.

The fit of a model is determined by how well hypotheses derived from the general description  are confirmed or disconfirmed by observation and comparison with the model. This is a sine qua non of science versus speculation. 

This makes social science, including economics, somewhat tenuous as science in that this kind of testing is generally difficult, impossible, or unethical. This criterion doesn't rule out social science but limits its scope and requires great care in approach. As a result there is a murky boundary between social and political science and social and political philosophy, and speculation may be passed off as science unless care is taken.

In addition to coherence, correspondence and practicality, simplicity aka economy of explanation is also a criterion. An objective in modeling is to construct as simple a model as possible to accomplish the purpose for which the model is designed, for example, Newton's theory of planetary motion.

In Newton's theory of planetary motion, the planets and sun can be represented by points representing their center of gravity without concern with knowing the details of their chemical composition, since that is not relevant to the task of explaining the invariant principles of motion that govern change in terms of scientific "laws" that apply universally and not only to the local solar system. Because "gravity." Gravity is not observable as a data point like a planet but it is measurable as "force." Gravity is a universal law. 

The so-called economic "law of supply and demand" — actually the law of supply and the law of demand as the basis of familiar supply-demand curves that are based on price and quantity — is not a "law" in the same sense as laws of physics that apply to the real world of phenomena. The "laws" of supply and demand are heuristics used to generate graphs similar to what engineers and designers call a thumbnail. They are useful as gadgets in thinking and teaching, but they are not models articulating a scientific theory that explains real world events in that they do not apply to all markets at all times. The assumptions are too restrictive to be representational.

For example, preference is non-homogenous. There is no representative agent with fixed preferences that corresponds to the modeling assumption. The restrictive assumption used to simplify is simplistic with respect to actual agents. This oversimplification might not make a difference in special cases, but it is not universal in application and therefore does not qualify as a general law on which a general theory can be based.

Owing to the elegance of explanations in natural science, scientists in other disciplines are likely to be tempted to emulate this success. While that is a good thing in the sense of striving to observe the four criteria or coherence, correspondence, practicality and economy, it is not a good thing if scientists doing life or social science become unmindful of the limitations imposed by the subject matter of their discipline. The result will be application of inappropriate methodology and exaggerated claims.

Science is generally divided into natural, life, and social science based on subject matter. Science in general aims at causal understanding of a universe in which natural, life and social sciences are aspects of various phenomena.

Consilience is also a requirement in doing science. Scientific theories are expected to corroborate other and not contradict each other in that science aims at a general explanation of "reality."

As a philosopher looking at economics as an amateur, it appears to me that many economists are careless about applying the above criteria and therefore overstate their claims and likely overestimate their knowledge. as being scientific instead of speculative, and objective rather than interested.

This is even before getting into measurement and historical issues. There really needs to be more attention paid to philosophy of science, philosophy of social science in economics and much more work is needed in philosophy (foundations) of economics, which is underdeveloped since so few people have contributed to it. Indeed, a lot of what passes for philosophy of economics now is mostly ideology. Yet, conventional economists claim that methodological questions are settled. NOT!

It would seem that the pragmatic approach in economics would be using the logic of Adriane's thread rather than matching an ideal world to the real world or, worse, attempting to shape the real world to an ideal world determined by ideology. 

This recognizes that economics is dealing with subject matter that is historical, contingent and dependent on choices under uncertainty that are socially and politically influenced in a context of history, culture, and institutional arrangements.  It is a method for exploring alternatives and evaluating options in terms of tradeoffs so as to find the cheese and not end up in blind alleys. This would involve not only looking out the window but also getting out of the ivory tower.

Lars P. Syll’s Blog
Statistical inference — a self-imposed limitation
Lars P. Syll | Professor, Malmo University