Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Dmitry Orlov — How to start a war and lose an empire

Dmitiry Orlov parses the US-Russian relationship.
It's a new, mixed-mode sort of war. It's not a total war to the death, although the US is being rather incautious by the old Cold War standards in avoiding a nuclear confrontation. It's an information war—based on lies and unjust vilification; it's a financial and economic war—using sanctions; it's a political war—featuring violent overthrow of elected governments and support for hostile regimes on Russia's borders; and it's a military war—using ineffectual but nevertheless insulting moves such as stationing a handful of US troops in Estonia. And the goals of this war are clear: it is to undermine Russia economically, destroy it politically, dismember it geographically, and turn it into a pliant vassal state that furnishes natural resources to the West practically free of charge (with a few hand-outs to a handful of Russian oligarchs and criminal thugs who play ball). But it doesn't look like any of that is going to happen because, you see, a lot of Russians actually get all that, and will choose leaders who will not win any popularity contests in the West but who will lead them to victory.…
Club Orlov
How to start a war and lose an empire
Dmitry Orlov

China Hand — C.Y. Leung Harshing On the Poors Maybe Not as Dumb as You Think

Neoliberalism rules. The elite know that neoliberalism and democracy are incompatible.

China Matters
C.Y. Leung Harshing On the Poors Maybe Not as Dumb as You Think
China Hand

Vladimir Golstein — Ukraine's Descent into Fascism and How the West Turns a Blind Eye

Vladimir Golstein is Associate Professor of Slavic Languages at Brown University, an American Ivy League university. 
We have decided to publish this article in full, since it is by far the best description we know of the rise of fascism in Ukraine.

The author, who is a top US scholar, shows that Ukrainian fascism is not the fringe phenomenon that western governments and media say it is, but that is central to Ukrainian politics and is the key to understanding Ukraine’s political crisis and the way that crisis is evolving as the situation in the country worsens.

He shows by drawing on the latest academic scholarship that the fascism currently loose in Ukraine is fascism in its classic form, identical to the fascism of that existed in Europe in the 1930s and 1940s, and that like that fascism it disguises its racist and genocidal agenda behind slogans of anti-communism. He describes how the racist hatred that drives Ukrainian fascism is focused on Russia and Russians and expresses itself with the same genocidal language against Russians that fascists of the 1930s and 1940s used against Slavs and Jews.
The author shows that western governments and media, their judgement already clouded by their hostility to Russia, have allowed themselves to be beguiled by Ukrainian fascism’s anti-communist slogans and insincere “Europeanism” so that they turn a blind eye both to its reality and to its actions, with potentially disastrous results as the situation in Ukraine worsens.
Russia Insider
Ukraine's Descent into Fascism and How the West Turns a Blind Eye
Vladimir Golstein | Associate Professor of Slavic Languages at Brown University

Monday, October 20, 2014

Vivian Belik — A Town Without Poverty?

Canada's only experiment in guaranteed income finally gets reckoning
The Dominion
A Town Without Poverty?
Vivian Belik
h/t Jan Milch

David F. Ruccio — Piketty and the principle of taxation

As it turns out, while working on a new research project (on “Utopia and the Marxian Critique of Political Economy,” for aconference in November), I chanced upon a much earlier discussion of wealth taxes: a speech given by Friedrich Engelson 8 February 1845 in Elberfeld. 
Engels argued that communists had no intention of introducing “common ownership overnight and against the will of the nation.” Still, it was possible to move in the direction of “practical communism” by adopting certain measures—such as “general education of all children without exception at the expense of the state” and “a complete reorganisation of the Poor Relief System.”
"Both these measures require money. In order to raise it and at the same time replace all the present, unjustly distributed taxes, the present reform plan proposes a general, progressive tax on capital, at a rate increasing with the size of the capital. In this way, the burden of public administration would be shared by everyone according to his ability and would no longer fall mainly on the shoulders of those least able to bear it, as has hitherto been the case in all countries. For the principle of taxation is, after all, a purely communist one, since the right to levy taxes is derived in all countries from so-called national property. For either private property is sacrosanct, in which case there is no such thing as national property and the state has no right to levy taxes, or the state has this right, in which case private property is not sacrosanct, national property stands above private property, and the state is the true owner. This latter principle is the one generally accepted — well then, gentlemen; for the present we demand only that this principle be taken seriously, that the state proclaim itself the common owner and, as such, administer public property for the public good, and that as the first step, it introduce a system of taxation based solely on each individual’s ability to pay taxes and on the real public good."
Occasional Links & Commentary
Piketty and the principle of taxation
David F. Ruccio | Professor of Economics University of Notre Dame Notre Dame

Daniel W. Drezner — Five known unknowns about the future of the global economy

  1. The Summers/Gordon Question about growth rate
  2. The Eichengreen/Rodrik Question about global convergence
  3. The Angell/Gartzke Question about the future of trade in globalization
  4. The Fukuyama/Kirshner Question about the superiority of economic liberalism
  5. The Piketty/Freeland question about inequality
The Washington Post
Five known unknowns about the future of the global economy
Daniel W. Drezner | Professor of International Politics, a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, and a contributing editor at the Washington Post
h/t Brad DeLong

Wolf Richter — What NCR just Said about the American Retail Quagmire

Retail demand tanking.
NCR, a thermometer into the retail industry beyond the latest sales statistics, has noticed that brick-and-mortar retailers are cutting back. And they’re not just cutting back buying point-of-sale devices; they’re cutting back, period. “Ongoing retail consolidation,” Nuti called it. And some are using bankruptcy courts to do it.
Wolf Street
What NCR just Said about the American Retail Quagmire
Wolf Richter

Shannon Tiezzi — Hong Kong's Leader: Univeral Suffrage Threatens Business Interests

Chief Executive CY Leung said that universal suffrage could turn Hong Kong into a welfare state.
Channeling Michael Bloomberg and Occupy Wall Street.

The Diplomat
Hong Kong's Leader: Univeral Suffrage Threatens Business Interests
Shannon Tiezzi

Igor Strelkov replies to Mikhail Khodorkovsky

Today I am submitting to your attention two interesting documents. A speech by "ex-oligarch and mobster now turned democratic activist" Mikhail Khodorkovsky and a reply to that speech by Igor Strelkov. 
Make no mistake, there is a war going on. True, it has not yet turned into a shooting war with armies on both sides unleashing their power, but this is a war nevertheless. This war opposes, on one hand, the 1% ruling elites of the AngloZionist Empire and their allies in Russia - we can call them the "5th column" or the "Atlantic Integrationists" - and on the other hand, the Russian "Eurasian Sovereignists" and their allies in the rest of the world, including the many supporters of a sovereign and independent Russia in the West. This war has many "fronts" including, of course, the one between in Novorussia and Banderastan, but there are many more. There is one in Syria, Iran and Iraq. There is another one right inside the EU. There is another front in Far East Asia, along the Taiwan Strait, and yet another one in Latin America. In the recent past, these fronts could also be found running across the Serbian Krajina in Croatia, the border between Israel and Lebanon and in Chechnia. In fact, this is the first truly a *planetary war* and there are "fronts" everywhere. Even the Muslim "umma" is deeply split between those who support (US backed) Saudi Wahabism and those who oppose it (lead by Iran).

Right now, the most important one of these fronts runs across the Donbass, but this can change tomorrow.
One of these fronts runs across the Russian society. Khodorkovsky is the iconic symbol and spokesman for the "Atlantic Integrationist" camp while Strelkov is the iconic symbol and spoksman for the "Eurasian Sovereignist" camp. Please read both of their manifestos and compare them - you will see that the differences between these two worldviews are not only deep, they are mutually irreconcilable.

MK: "A return to the European values that lie at the foundation of the Euro-Atlantic civilization, – a mental and political return – is the starting point for the new political course that could help Russia work its way out of the historical snare it is now in. Russia has just two ways it can go – forward into the post-industrial era together with Europe, or back into the Middle Ages , and after that into outright non-existence.…

"The ruling regime is turning Russia into a Chinese protectorate. This is not even a question of the annexation of Siberia,. Today it would be enough just for Siberia to be completely locked in on China, which for all intents and purposes is going to be sucking resources out of it for free, like from a colony."

IS: " Speaking about "the European values", you, Mr. Khodorkovsky, either don't understand or just pretend that you don't understand) that they have no relation to the real Values, traditional for Europe. They are revived today in Russia by the President Putin. And those "values" which are imposed by world financial oligarchy as "European", today are causing hundred thousand-strong protest actions in Europe. When last time, more than 20 years ago, the management of the USSR decided "to turn" to these so-called "values", the country was split, as a result, plundered and humiliated, and the Russian people suddenly appeared to be the largest divided nation in the world. From the moment of coming to power Putin started correcting catastrophe of the 90th: to subdue absolute power of oligarchy, to nationalize elite, to restore the destroyed economy.…

"Your hatred to Putin brought you into a camp of enemies not only personally of the President, but into a camp of enemies of the Russian state and all Russian people. How can you dare to reproach Putin that he stood up to defense of the people of the Crimea and Novorossiya, didn't allow the Ukrainian nazis supported by the West to establish over the Crimea and Donbass a bloody dictatorship? After all Russians protecting themselves and their lifes. You accuse the victims that they allegedly have the nerve to defend themselves. The third world war is excluded while Russia is strong and rather powerful to guarantee, hence asymmetric, but strategic parity and while there are people in charge, who are not ready to trade off their country and the people for promises to be part of supranational financial elite.…

"Such things which you talking about, as "the European values and the euroatlantic civilization", not only has no relation to Russia, but directly contradicts our national history, psychology, destiny. Europe departed from its own Christian values long ago, having plunged into the abyss of the most vile defects, and eulogized "euroatlanticism" is no more than the geopolitical doctrine of USA global domination, directed against the people of the whole world still keeping own religion, the sovereignty and national traditions. Russia was twice affected already in recent times with leprosy of "the progressive European ideas" and was heavy injured by mad hobbies of its own elites and intellectuals,has two roads today : either to return to itself, anew to find the Faith, the tradition, the values, the sovereignty or be dissolved in the global West, get into slavery and to disappear as a civilization, having lost everything. I will emphasize again, what outstanding hypocrisy Mr. Khodorkovsky, you possess when you regret about lost art, literature, science, space and other achievements of imperial and Soviet "totalitarian past". Truly, "the wolf feel sorry for a horse – left tail and mane"! But even if we assume that something told by you is remotely true, I ask you to learn history a little: Russia received Christian Faith not from the Catholic West, but from the orthodox East – directly from East Roman Empire Byzantium, which remained the keeper of true Christianity throughout the whole millennium . However, how can you argue about Christian Faith?

"The values spread by world financial oligarchy ("European", "euroatlantic", "universal", etc.) – these are values of the national states elimination and radical cancellation of anything that bears a faint resemblance of social justice. Here, Mr. Khodorkovsky, you are either ignorant or conscious liar. Well about "ignorance" I'm saying "for the sake of a witty remark", as I have no illusions concerning defects in your education. Liberalism which you defend, has as the ultimate goal total globalization, leveling of all people and religious communities under one consumer "comb" and the statement of the power of world financial oligarchy in process of abolition of all historically developed states (the project of the European Union – the first step in this direction). In the sphere of economic policy liberalism not only in practice, but in the theory rigidly denies social justice. Freedom of the market about which liberals go on, is incompatible with redistribution of profit as supporters of social justice insist. More Russia will be involved in globalization processes, the quicker will lose the sovereignty and opportunity to pursue social policy. Now on "mobilization". We, of course, need powerful national mobilization against aggression of the "evroatlantist" aimed at the accelerated and final plunder of Russia under the pretext of "integration into the world community" and "global economy…

"Today is not Europe that matters, but Russia. Our way is a return to itself. It is necessary to return to Russia, to our history, to our culture, to our mission. This mission always was and remains in bearing Christ's light of belief, ideals of good and social justice to people of the world, to be "keepers" against the evil, as the Apostle Pavel told. We had very heavy past. Russia was shook all 20th century in fevers of bloody revolutions and destructive wars. But thanks to the passed heavy tests, Russia managed to save a lot of things which Europe lost almost irrevocably. If Europe wishes to return to own traditions and the Christian principles, its on the way with us, but not with the financial oligarchy of the USA bearing to people of the world a godless civilization of moral decay, ideological zombiing, spiritual and physical death.…

"Liberalism as you understand it, Mr. Khodorkovsky, is absolute delusion. This flase doctrine which is completely ignoring God, spirit, culture, mankind, society and regarding an individual, his material private interests and the sphere of finance, as of paramount importance. Liberalism, understood in such manner, is absolutely incompatible with original freedom: how can be a person free, if society in which he lives, is a slavery of interest rate, a debt bondage of the international financial oligarchy and its local supervisors? If all human life is subordinated to search and enhancement of material benefits and the bank account statement is a criterion only? Today liberalism is totalitarian ideology on which distribution the USA build the world hegemony. It is unacceptable for Russia in no shape or form – neither in political, nor in economic, in legal. This is most important: for you, Mr. Khodorkovsky, liberalism is the ultimate truth and national development and social justice is good for populism. But in Russia liberalism is doomed, it is acceptable neither by right, nor left. It is the colonial ideology going against our Russian identity. Trying to destroy this identity for the sake of a celebration of liberal ideology you are destroying Russia too.…

"The USA and the American hegemony is a war. We see it in Libya, in Syria, in Iraq, and Afghanistan, in Ukraine. Everywhere, USA helps to carry out "color revolutions", fascists, extremists, fundamentalists come to the power. To be the supporter of the USA, the West and NATO – means to be the fascist helper, the lawyer of war. This war is waged against the whole Mankind, which is not interested to live by the American rules and to serve obediently and servilely interests of world financial oligarchy.…

"Acting authorities brought Russia to the threshold of decisive breakthrough towards independence, power and freedom which is capable to bring her out from zone of direct influence by the American hegemony. Unfortunately, at my private judgment, the specified breakthrough obviously it is slow down (suspected, by your secret and obvious adherents who still have huge influence, thanks to the stolen riches and high internal political influence, bought with that). Hesitations regarding the need to move forward are visible also. But people of the country are quite ready to it and it frightens you. The hysterics concerning threat of "the Chinese protectorate" also occurs from here. "The Chinese threat" is in the theory, so far. But open protectorate of the USA established over Russia as a result of Gorbachev and Yeltsin treason is a fact of life. The main threat to the sovereignty of Russia is an aggressive impact of the world financial oligarchy frightened by possibility of losing Russia from a slop trough of "colonial economy". And in its fifth column, where you are one of ideologists.
"The world financial oligarchy desperately and frenzy struggles against revival of Russia. If Russia withstands, it has a future; she will return to history and will win. But if the sales agent of world financial oligarchy hating all Russian (such as you), comes to the power in Russia, we will fail in a chasm in comparison with gangster era of 90th would seem as a children's game . Disintegration of the country with all that implies in the form of wars, general poverty, hunger, epidemics and large-scale technogenic catastrophes, here that waits for us in this box.…

"Probably, you believe that future happiness of the Russian people is in a slave labor for a skilly bowl for the benefit of world financial oligarchy which you represent. And for the low-standard "shows" offered in addition to a skilly, which guarantee returning the person to a condition of the an animal, following the simplest instincts. Well, then "only over our dead bodies"! The Russian people have absolutely other horizons and the purposes, than dumb submission to the corrupted western elites. Here I will distract from your theses and I will briefly formulate our Russian answer which is expressed by a simple formula "For Faith, the Tsar and Fatherland". For these sacred concepts the Russian people from time immemorial went to die, perfectly understanding that battling for them is a battle for themselves and for the future. Today it means quite concrete loyalty: to the Russian Orthodox Church, to the Russian state and Supreme Commander V. V. Putin.…"
The issue is whether Atlanticist neoliberal globalization under will prevail, as Khodorkovsky advocates, to which Strelkov responds, "only over our dead bodies"! As the Saker says, "the differences between these two worldviews are not only deep, they are mutually irreconcilable." 

It's interesting to note, too, that a fundamental cultural divide is between Catholic-Protestant Christianity and Eastern Orthodox Christianity, a political divide that resulted from a religious divide when Constantine moved his capital to Constantinople in 324 CE. The Roman West and Byzantine East vied until the Great Schism in 1054 CE, and the effects still persist.

The Vineyard of the Saker
Igor Strelkov replies to Mikhail Khodorkovsky

Vladimir P. Kozin — Cold War 2.0: How It Started and How to End It

Vladimir P. Kozin is Chief Adviser and Head of the Group of Advisers to the Director of RISS and is a Member of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences and a Professor at the Russian Academy of Military Sciences. He has written this piece specifically for Russia Insider.…
VPK: The Cold War 2.0 was intentionally initiated by President Barack Obama for obvious reasons: to undermine Russia’s military and economic potential, to increase NATO military expenditures, to create more pro-Western states along the perimeter with Russian territory. Unfortunately, all 28 NATO member-states have seconded his option. Currently such a new war is in full swing. It has deteriorated the global political, military, economic and financial climate.
Russia Insider
Cold War 2.0: How It Started and How to End It
Tom Mitchell and Stefan Wagstyl (The Financial Times)
Amid slowdown in German economy, Merkel struggles to bring economic relations with China to higher level and seeks stabilising relations with Russia with Beijing's help
The Washington Post
The myth of Russian humiliationAnne Applebaum
In 1991, Russia was no longer a great power in either population or economic terms. So why didn’t we recognize reality, reform the United Nations and give a Security Council seat to India, Japan or others? Russia did not transform itself along European lines. Why did we keep pretending that it had?

Elliott Auckland — Ukrainian Economy Collapses In Third Quarter

Set to shrink by a painful 14% this year. In excess of $100 billion in grants, not loans, needed to make country solvent. Russian participation in financial rescue unavoidable.
Russia Insider
Ukrainian Economy Collapses In Third Quarter
Elliott Auckland

The Conversation
Ukraine steels itself for winter as Novorossiya forges ahead
Stefan Wolff, Professor of International Security at University of Birmingham, and Tatyana Malyarenko, Professor of Public Administration at Donetsk State Management University

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Sharmini Peries interviews Michael Hudson — IMF Meeting Review – Austerity to Cost

Sharmini Peries, Exec. Producer, TRNN interviews Michael Hudson. Video and transcript.

IMF Meeting Review – Austerity to Cost
Michael Hudson | President of The Institute for the Study of Long-Term Economic Trends (ISLET), a Wall Street Financial Analyst, and Distinguished Research Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri, Kansas City

Henry Giroux on the Rise of Neoliberalism — Interview by Michael Nevradakis

Henry Giroux discusses the increasingly negative impact of neoliberalism across the world, politically, socially, economically and in terms of education, and he offers some suggestions for what we must do now.
HG: We're talking about an ideology marked by the selling off of public goods to private interests; the attack on social provisions; the rise of the corporate state organized around privatization, free trade, and deregulation; the celebration of self interests over social needs; the celebration of profit-making as the essence of democracy coupled with the utterly reductionist notion that consumption is the only applicable form of citizenship. But even more than that, it upholds the notion that the market serves as a model for structuring all social relations: not just the economy, but the governing of all of social life.

I think that as a mode of governance, it is really quite dreadful because it tends to produce identities, subjects and ways of life driven by a kind of "survival of the fittest" ethic, grounded in the notion of the free, possessive individual and committed to the right of individual and ruling groups to accrue wealth removed from matters of ethics and social cost.

That's a key issue. I mean, this is a particular political and economic and social project that not only consolidates class power in the hands of the one percent, but operates off the assumption that economics can divorce itself from social costs, that it doesn't have to deal with matters of ethical and social responsibility, that these things get in the way. And I think the consequences of these policies across the globe have caused massive suffering, misery, and the spread of a massive inequalities in wealth, power, and income.   And I think the consequences of these policies across the globe have caused massive suffering, misery, and the spread of a massive inequalities in wealth, power, and income. Moreover, increasingly, we are witnessing a number of people who are committing suicide because they have lost their pensions, jobs and dignity. We see the attack on the welfare state; we see the privatization of public services, the dismantling of the connection between private issues and public problems, the selling off of state functions, deregulations, an unchecked emphasis on self-interest, the refusal to tax the rich, and really the redistribution of wealth from the middle and working classes to the ruling class, the elite class, what the Occupy movement called the one percent. It really has created a very bleak emotional and economic landscape for the 99 percent of the population throughout the world.…
In neoliberal cost-benefit analysis social costs (externalties) are ignored. Indeed, the not so hidden neoliberal agenda is to capitalize benefits and socialize costs insofar as possible with the ownership calls and its cronies pocketing the difference.

Giroux goes on to show how neoliberalism regards participatory rights-based democracy as its enemy and works to institute oligarchic "democracy" based on class privilege based on wealth and influence in its place.
This tactic is really pathological…
Henry Giroux on the Rise of Neoliberalism
Interview by Michael Nevradakis

Gareth Porter — When the Ayatollah Said No to Nukes

Iran's WMD-is-against-Islam policy began with Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and has been reiterated under Khomeini's successor, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

When the Ayatollah Said No to Nukes
Gareth Porter, Foreign Policy | Report

BTW, WMD were found in Iraq but they were the chemical and biological weapons that the West had provided to Saddam during his war with Iran when it looked as if Iran would win the war against the greatly outnumbered Iraqis. But that news was suppressed for political reasons. Saddam did use them against the Iranians and also against the Iraqi Kurds.

Der Spiegel — Deadly Ukraine Crash: German Intelligence Claims Pro-Russian Separatists Downed MH17

After completing a detailed analysis, Germany's foreign intelligence service, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), has concluded that pro-Russian rebels were responsible for the crash of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 on July 19 in eastern Ukraine while on route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. 
In an Oct. 8 presentation given to members of the parliamentary control committee, the Bundestag body responsible for monitoring the work of German intelligence, BND President Gerhard Schindler provided ample evidence to back up his case, including satellite images and diverse photo evidence. The BND has intelligence indicating that pro-Russian separatists captured a BUK air defense missile system at a Ukrainian military base and fired a missile on July 17 that exploded in direct proximity to the Malaysian aircraft, which had been carrying 298 people.…
Der Spiegel Online International English
Deadly Ukraine Crash: German Intelligence Claims Pro-Russian Separatists Downed MH17

JP Koning — Fedcoin

…. I rank the importance of bitcoin-as-product above bitcoin-as-philosophy. And at the moment, bitcoin is not a great product. While bitcoin has many useful features, these are all overshadowed by the fact that its price is too damn volatile for it to be be taken seriously as an exchange medium. This volatility arises because bitcoin lacks a fundamental value, or anchor, a point that I've written about many times in the past. However, there is one way to fix the crypto volatility problem... 
Enter Fedcoin….
JP Koning

Merijn Knibbe — Rogoff on Wolf. Some comments or: empowering households made all the difference

In a very readable and insightful review of the new Martin Wolf book (which I haven’t read yet) Kenneth Rogoff plays the revolutionary card:’Let’s get rid of these debts, we’ve got nothing to lose than a deflationary chain of events’. This puts him, in a Eurozone perspective, in the radical left corner of politics (and it’s kind of ironic that he accuses text-book economists like Krugman of being ´hard-left´…).
Real-World Economics Review Blog
Rogoff on Wolf. Some comments or: empowering households made all the difference
Merijn Knibbe

Diane Coyle — The Enlightened Economist Prize, 2014

A month ago I announced the shortlist for the Enlightened Economist Prize this year – as a reminder, the rules are that any book I happened to read during the previous 12 months is eligible, and the choice is entirely mine. The prize is the offer of dinner to the winner.
Look at the shortlist first.

The Enlightened Economist

Dean Baker — The Post Tells Us the Economy is SO Complicated

"We can't fix the economy as long as we oversimplify." 
Nope, that is 180 degrees wrong. We can't fix the economy until more people are clear that the rich have rigged the rules to give themselves all the money. Then a political reaction may turn the tide. Obviously the Post doesn't want to see that sort of political reaction, hence the effort at obfuscation.
Beat the Press
The Post Tells Us the Economy is SO Complicated
Dean Baker | co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Noah Smith — U.S. vs. China+Russia - the Tale of the Tape

Adding up some raw numbers.

U.S. vs. China+Russia - the Tale of the Tape
Noah Smith | Assistant Professor of Finance, Stony Brook University

Robert Parry — The Neocons — Masters of Chaos

Robert Parry, wrongly I believe, attributes a good deal of the economic malaise and even chaos in some places like Greece to UN neocon foreign policy. He may have a handle geopolicy, but he doesn't understand monetary economics. But his analysis of neocon influence on foreign policy and its consequences is worth reading anyway, and some of his observations about economic consequences are correct, especially in Europe.
…But the neocons and the “liberal interventionists” seemed oblivious to that danger. They had their hearts set on Syrian “regime change,” so were furious when their dreams were dashed by Obama’s supposed “weakness,” i.e. his failure to do what they wanted. They also blamed Russian President Vladimir Putin who brokered a compromise with Assad in which he agreed to surrender all of Syria’s chemical weapons while still denying a role in the Sarin attack. 
By late September 2013, the disappointed neocons were acting out their anger by taking aim at Putin. They recognized that a particular vulnerability for the Russian president was Ukraine and the possibility that it could be pulled out of Russia’s sphere of influence and into the West’s orbit. 
So, Carl Gershman, the neocon president of the U.S.-funded National Endowment for Democracy, took to the op-ed page of the neocon-flagship Washington Post to sound the trumpet about Ukraine, which he called “the biggest prize.” 
But Gershman added that Ukraine was really only an interim step to an even bigger prize, the removal of the strong-willed and independent-minded Putin, who, Gershman added, “may find himself on the losing end not just in the near abroad [i.e. Ukraine] but within Russia itself.” In other words, the new neocon hope was for “regime change” in Kiev and Moscow.…
Beyond the recklessness of plotting to destabilize nuclear-armed Russia, the neocon strategy threatened to shake Europe’s fragile economic recovery from a painful recession, six years of jobless stress that had strained the cohesion of the European Union and the euro zone.
Across the Continent, populist parties from the Right and Left have been challenging establishment politicians over their inability to reverse the widespread unemployment and the growing poverty. Important to Europe’s economy was its relationship with Russia, a major market for agriculture and manufactured goods and a key source of natural gas to keep Europe’s industries humming and its houses warm.
The last thing Europe needed was more chaos, but that’s what the neocons do best and they were determined to punish Putin for disrupting their plans for Syrian “regime change,” an item long near the top of their agenda along with their desire to “bomb, bomb, bomb Iran.”
Consortium News
The Neocons — Masters of Chaos
Robert Parry

Dirk Ehnts — Piketty: “There is no economic science” (but there could be!)

I am writing a grant application which would allow me to teach a MOOC (massive open online course) on the bread & butter of (monetary) economics: how does the monetary system function? It is all quite basic stuff, but I am very much afraid that not many colleagues in Germany could explain to their students how money is created, how banks clear their accounts at the end of the day, how the government spends or how the fiscal is related to the monetary.
econoblog 101
Piketty: “There is no economic science” (but there could be!)
Dirk Ehnts | Berlin School for Economics and Law

Janet Yellen — Perspectives on Inequality and Opportunity from the Survey of Consumer Finances

Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System

Chair Janet L. Yellen

At the Conference on Economic Opportunity and Inequality, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, Boston, MassachusettsOctober 17, 2014

Video and transcript
The distribution of income and wealth in the United States has been widening more or less steadily for several decades, to a greater extent than in most advanced countries.1 This trend paused during the Great Recession because of larger wealth losses for those at the top of the distribution and because increased safety-net spending helped offset some income losses for those below the top. 
But widening inequality resumed in the recovery, as the stock market rebounded, wage growth and the healing of the labor market have been slow, and the increase in home prices has not fully restored the housing wealth lost by the large majority of households for which it is their primary asset.
The extent of and continuing increase in inequality in the United States greatly concern me. The past several decades have seen the most sustained rise in inequality since the 19th century after more than 40 years of narrowing inequality following the Great Depression. By some estimates, income and wealth inequality are near their highest levels in the past hundred years, much higher than the average during that time span and probably higher than for much of American history before then.2 It is no secret that the past few decades of widening inequality can be summed up as significant income and wealth gains for those at the very top and stagnant living standards for the majority. I think it is appropriate to ask whether this trend is compatible with values rooted in our nation's history, among them the high value Americans have traditionally placed on equality of opportunity.…
In my remarks, I will review trends in income and wealth inequality over the past several decades, then identify and discuss four sources of economic opportunity in America--think of them as "building blocks" for the gains in income and wealth that most Americans hope are within reach of those who strive for them. The first two are widely recognized as important sources of opportunity: resources available for children and affordable higher education. The second two may come as more of a surprise: business ownership and inheritances. Like most sources of wealth, family ownership of businesses and inheritances are concentrated among households at the top of the distribution. But both of these are less concentrated and more broadly distributed than other forms of wealth, and there is some basis for thinking that they may also play a role in providing economic opportunities to a considerable number of families below the top.
In focusing on these four building blocks, I do not mean to suggest that they account for all economic opportunity, but I do believe they are all significant sources of opportunity for individuals and their families to improve their economic circumstances.…
Project Syndicate

The Inequality Trifecta
Mohamed A. El-Erian | Chief Economic Adviser at Allianz and a member of its International Executive Committee, and Chairman of President Barack Obama’s Global Development Council

There were quite a few disconnects at the recently concluded Annual Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. Among the most striking was the disparity between participants’ interest in discussions of inequality and the ongoing lack of a formal action plan for governments to address it. This represents a profound failure of policy imagination – one that must urgently be addressed.…
As a result, most countries face a trio of inequalities – of income, wealth, and opportunity – which, left unchecked, reinforce one another, with far-reaching consequences. Indeed, beyond this trio’s moral, social, and political implications lies a serious economic concern: instead of creating incentives for hard work and innovation, inequality begins to undermine economic dynamism, investment, employment, and prosperity.

Kenneth Thomas — U.S. Median Wealth Up from 27th to 25th

Median wealth per adult, mid-2014
1. Australia 225,337
2. Belgium 172,947
3. Iceland 164,193
4. Luxembourg 156,267
5. Italy 142,296
6. France 140,638
7. United Kingdom 130,590
8. Japan 112,998
9. Singapore 109.250
10. Switzerland 106,887
11. Canada 98,756
12. Netherlands 93,116
13. Finland 88,130
14. Norway 86,953
15. New Zealand 82,610
16. Ireland 79,346
17. Spain 66,752
18. Taiwan 65,375
19. Austria 63,741
20. Sweden 63,376
21. Malta 63,271
22. Qatar 56,969
23. Germany 54,090
24. Greece 53,375
25. United States 53,352
26. Israel 51,346
27. Slovenia 50,329

Source: Credit Suisse Global Wealth Databook 2014, Table 2-4Middle Class Political Economist

U.S. Median Wealth Up from 27th to 25th
Kenneth Thomas | Professor and Research Fellow, Center for International Studies, University of Missouri at St. Louis

Russia Insider — Wow, Hillary Clinton Really Can't Stand Vladimir Putin. It's Personal.

More than anyone else, Clinton is the author of the confrontational US approach to Russia, and the current debacle in Ukraine.

Under her watch as Secretary of State, from 2009 to 2013, the US steadily increased its anti-Russian line, and pushed for Ukraine to choose between Europe and Russia, plowing $5 billion into anti-Russian civil society groups in the Ukraine.

The disastrous previous US ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, was her man in Moscow. Victoria Nuland, whom she made State Dept spokesman, was and remains one of her closest advisors on Russia. She promoted the career of US ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt, who is also very close to her. He also pushed very hard for the tragic split of the Ukraine.
Here are some choice quotes:

  • "I think (Putin) is at heart, a bully ... you have to stand up, and you have to encircle, and you have to try to choke off his ability to be so aggressive.”
  • "I see a very cold-blooded, calculating former KGB agent who is determined to ... enrich himself and his closest colleagues..."
  • "Aside (from) his personality, ... his agenda is one that threatens American interests."
She went on to lecture Europe on how it should deal with Putin echoing US Vice President Biden's gaffe of last week:
  • Some Europeans “just don’t want to confront Putin in any way,” ... “I think that’s a mistake."
  • “I think there was an unwillingness on the part of the Europeans to commit to (energy independence from Russia),” ... “Each country was pretty much looking out for its own energy needs. Now, of course, they’re scrambling to figure out how to get out from under Russian intimidation..."
Russia Insider
Wow, Hillary Clinton Really Can't Stand Vladimir Putin. It's Personal.

Also John Helmer, The American Genius For Hands-Free Flying at Dances With Bears
It has generally been assumed in Washington, and no less in Moscow, that CIA Director John Brennan (lead image, front left) was one of the proponents of the Kiev putsch and the subsequent war against Russia. However, one clue that the CIA opposes the Clinton politburo has come from Senator Dianne Feinstein. Speaking as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee – and notwithstanding the conflicts she and her staff have had with Brennan – Feinstein has declared that escalating the Ukraine conflict into a war for regime change in Russia is going to fail.
“I think there ought to be direct discussions with Vladimir Putin. I think he is the singular figure in Russia. The Crimea is gone. I think there ought to be steps taken to send people, to talk with him, to have our Secretary of State talk with him personally. I think this is deeply personal with him. I really do. And he’s enjoying intensely high favourability in his country. People say, ‘Well, just wait till the sanctions bite and the economy slips.’ I don’t think so. I think if Russians follow him, and up to date, they are following him, the Russians are very brave and very long-suffering. And they will tough out any economic difficulty.”

Wren-Lewis and Portes fall for the time travel canard

At Ralphonomics here.

Ralph exposes a couple of dopes who watched the "Back to the Future" movies one too many times.

If a bridge is built in 2014, the LABOUR REQUIRED to build it must be expended in 2014. 
Put that another way, if a bridge is built in 2014, there is just no way that labour expended on bridge building in 2015 or 2016 can contribute to the bridge built in 2014. 
That would involve time travel.

Memories are made of this

Russia Insider
Does this Chilling Neo-Nazi Torch-lit March through Kiev Remind You of Something?
Damir Marinovic

Russian Lawmakers Outraged as Kiev Declares Pro-Nazi Force Creation Date as National Holiday
Many Russian legislators are deeply angered by Kiev’s decision to declare October 14, the day when the pro-Nazi Ukrainian Insurgent Army was created during World War II in 1942, as Defender of the Nation Day and a public holiday. The UIA gained notoriety as an active collaborator with the Nazi force of occupation and participant in many WW II massacres of civilian population. Members of both houses of the Russian parliament interpreted this move as Kiev’s official confirmation of its commitment to Nazi ideas....
“Certainly, each country has the right to introduce its own memorable dates, but the fact that October 14 was selected to cater to the tastes of the followers of Stepan Bandera (UIA founder) regrettably shows once again that Kiev is officially supportive of Nazi ideology,” said State Duma Deputy Speaker Sergey Zheleznyak. “It also confirms the dependence of the Ukrainian authorities in their decision-making on radical nationalists and the attempt to trample underfoot the common history of our countries and peoples, and ridicule World War II veterans and the memory of millions of people who gave their lives for the sake of our great victory in those awesome battles.” 
“Mr. Poroshenko has instituted a special holiday honouring Ukraine’s number one Nazi henchman. He did that in a very cynical way by abolishing the existing holiday, revered by many millions of officers and men, both retired and still in active service,” Zheleznyak said.
Meanwhile, in Japan…

Abe Sends Offering to Tokyo War Shrine as Lawmakers Visit
Takashi Hirokawa
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sent an offering to a Tokyo war shrine in lieu of a visit, which may have provoked the ire of China and South Korea and undermined his push for summits with both nations’ leaders. 
A cross-party group of 110 lawmakers visited Yasukuni Shrine today, upper house lawmaker Toshiei Mizuochi told reporters. Abe’s offering of a traditional “masakaki,” a leafy branch on a stand swathed in colorful cloth, was confirmed by a shrine spokesman. At least one cabinet minister is expected to pay their respects today, at the start of the shrine’s autumn festival. 
Abe’s donation to a shrine seen by many as a symbol of Japan’s past aggression in Asia comes as he pushes for meetings with Chinese Premier Xi Jinping and South Korean Park Geun Hye at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Beijing next month. Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso may hold talks with Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang on the sidelines of a meeting of finance ministers in Beijing next week, the Nikkei newspaper reported today, citing people it did not identify. 
“As long as Abe and any of the key ministers don’t go, Yasukuni will not be a roadblock to summit meetings,” Jeff Kingston, Director of Asian Studies at Temple University in Tokyo, said by e-mail. “Abe doesn’t want to be seen to be kowtowing to Beijing to get a meeting, but also doesn’t want to derail that possibility given that it seems to be a done deal.”
Internal Affairs Minister Sanae Takaichi said this week she would visit the shrine for the autumn festival. Yasukuni honors millions of Japanese war dead, including 14 wartime leaders convicted as Class A War criminals after the war. 
The US is OK is all this.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Joshua Holland — Rising income inequality makes us want to bomb the crap out of everyone: study

MIT political scientist Jonathan Caverley, author of Democratic Militarism Voting, Wealth, and War, and himself a US Navy veteran, argues that increasingly high-tech militaries, with all-volunteer armies that sustain fewer casualties in smaller conflicts, combine with rising economic inequality to create perverse incentives that turn the conventional view of war on its head. His research looks at public opinion and military aggressiveness, and concludes that it’s the working class and poor who are more likely to favor military action today. And that bottom-up pressure makes wealthy democracies more aggressive.

BillMoyers.com spoke with Caverley about his research. The transcript below has been edited for length and clarity.
Rational behavior actually, in terms of cost/benefit. But the headline overstates the case.

EU leaders to confront Putin over gas threats

Story here at AFP via Yahoo.
Milan (AFP) - Vladimir Putin meets his Ukrainian counterpart and EU leaders here on Friday fresh from warning he could pull the plug on crucial Russian gas supplies to Western Europe this winter. 
The Russian president has also played his gas trump card, effectively reminding Europe that it gets about a third of its supplies from Russia. 
Putin insisted he did not want to see a repeat of 2006 and 2009 when interruptions of supplies to Ukraine disrupted onward deliveries to Europe which gets about a third of its gas from Russia. 
"I am very much hoping that it will not come to that," Putin said.
These types of misguided hijinks are how you go from getting the nickname "Pootie Poot" to a pariah, I guess some people just have to learn the hard way.

Matt Bruenig — How much do economists understand Piketty?

Matt Bruenig shows why economics is the dismal something or other. Many economists are abysmal.

Matt Bruenig | Politics
How much do economists understand Piketty?
Matt Bruenig