Friday, October 24, 2014

Cam Hui — How inequality may evolve in the next decade

Humble Student of the Markets
How inequality may evolve in the next decade
Cam Hui

Ghia Nodia — The Cold War and the Cold Shoulder

The Ukraine crisis has shattered key Western assumptions about Russia, and many analysts and policymakers have fallen back on the belief that Russian President Vladimir Putin must be acting irrationally. But it is Western assumptions that need to be questioned. In particular, what has made Russia so keen to undermine the current international order, first in Georgia in 2008 and in Ukraine now?
Project Syndicate
The Cold War and the Cold Shoulder
Ghia Nodia | President of the Caucasus Institute for Peace, Democracy, and Development in Tbilisi, Georgia

Alana Semuels — The Case for Trailer Parks

Houses made in a factory are a cheap and energy-efficient way for poorer Americans to become homeowners—plus, these days, the mass-produced units can be pretty spiffy.
They are called "modular homes" and "manufactured homes" now, and some can be "pretty spiffy" indeed. Companies generally offer basic units that are quite affordable, and these can be customized and upgraded to make them spiffier.

A big advantage is that they are relatively simple for just about anyone to do. The fist step is to secure a property, such as a vacant lot in a town, but many people prefer some acreage in the country. The next step is to decide on a manufacturer and negotiate a unit. Then the necessary foundation has to be contracted, as well as a driveway and garage, which are usually owner add-ons. The contracting is minimal. The only wait is usually on the foundation and garage if local labor is busy at the time That's often not an issue now, but it was at the height of the housing boom when the waiting lists were jammed.

There are several advantages to going this route. First, it's a way to get affordable housing with a new home of one's choice instead of being limited to inventory on the market. Most contractors don't usually build affordable homes on spec nowadays and they are reluctant to build smaller units to order, too, since profit is directly proportional to the cost. Contractors prefer big. So most affordable housing is older and smaller housing. Since the demand is high for these houses, the prices tend to be dear in terms of value.

Secondly, it gives everyone the opportunity to contract their own home even without construction expertise. This way it is relative simple for most anyone to get into the business, or to "build" one's own place.

The problem is that this type of housing can be difficult to finance since it is "unconventional." This varies by area, however, and it is becoming more acceptable with improvements in the industry. It is even possible to import modular housing at attractive pricing even with the shipping and 6% duty.

This fledgling industry took a big hit along with the rest of housing, but I predict a big comeback. It's an idea whose time has come. And as the article also points out, a lot of this construction is "green."

BTW, the old "trailers," that is, "single-wides," are still produced but they have largely been replaced with double and triple-wides and by RV's and tiny houses. In 2007, the average new single wide was $37, 100, about half of what the average new double wide cost. That's about what a new truck costs. Tiny homes are comparable in cost, but usually quite a bit smaller than single-wides, which can run over 1000 sq. ft. And the tiny house movement is reportedly growing.

Atlantic Business
The Case for Trailer Parks
Alana Semuels

DownWithTyranny! Conservatives Have Never Wanted Poor People To Have The Right To Vote-- And They Still Don't

History of voting rights in the US.

Pew — Political Polarization & Media Habits

Pew Research Journalism Project
Political Polarization & Media Habits
Amy Mitchell, Jeffrey Gottfried, Jocelyn Kiley And Katerina Eva Matsa

J. Barkley Rosser — The Passing of Fred Lee: An(other) Old Wobbly Bites The Dust

Tribute to Fred Lee and a summary of his founding contribution to heterodox economics.

The Passing of Fred Lee: An(other) Old Wobbly Bites The Dust
J. Barkley Rosser

Janet Allon — Krugman Dismantles the Right's Hysterical Fear of Actual Democracy

Krugman concludes: "The truth is that a lot of what’s going on in American politics is, at root, a fight between democracy and plutocracy. And it’s by no means clear which side will win."
Krugman Dismantles the Right's Hysterical Fear of Actual Democracy
Janet Allon

Also, Luke Brinker, Paul Krugman’s fear: “It’s by no means clear” whether democracy or plutocracy will prevail in America, at Salon.

Marshall Auerback — What Would Have Happened Had The UK Been In The Eurozone?

It is interesting to consider what would have befallen the UK had it been part of the Eurozone in 2008. To get a small sense of that, one should consider the period in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when the UK joined the Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM), which was the forerunner to the European Monetary Union. One major reason for the collapse of the UK economy in the early 1990s was the property bubble crashing/bursting, although it was also a product of the UK’s stupid entry into the Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM), which meant that the Bank of England was conducting monetary policy with a view toward sustaining an increasingly overvalued exchange rate (which meant higher and higher prices, which in turn crushed demand and killed the property boom). The existence of the property bubble made the fall that much more calamitous. But in fact, George Soros did the country a huge favour when he led a speculative attack on the pound, forced it to leave the ERM and thereby gave the UK economy the flexibility to grow again through a combination of sterling devaluation (which boosted exports – much like Canada in the early 2000s) and giving debtors a relief from high interest rates, which were abandoned when sterling was allowed to float freely again.
Macrobits by Marshall Auerback
What Would Have Happened Had The UK Been In The Eurozone?
Marshall Auerback

Paul R. Pillar — Neocon Sabotage of Iran-Nuke Deal

Congressional neocons are determined to sink negotiations to constrain but not end Iran’s nuclear program – all the better to get on with bombing Iran at the heart of their agenda. They are now disguising their sabotage as a constitutional argument, as ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar explains.
Regime change is the neocon goal and they won't settle for less in the march toward neoliberal globalization under oligarchic "democracy."

Consortium News
Neocon Sabotage of Iran-Nuke Deal
Paul R. Pillar | Visiting Professor for Security Studies, Georgetown University

Partial transcript of Putin at the Valdai discussion club in Sochi

Here is a partial transcript of Putin at the Valdai discussion club.

President of Russia
Meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club

Is the CIA Running a Defamation Campaign Against Putin? — Russia Insider interviews The Saker

The day before another member of Putin's inner circle, Vyasheslav Volodin, made similar remarks, telling foreign journalists "an attack on Putin is an attack on Russia."

The logic, they argue, is that by defaming the leader of a country, you weaken his power domestically by undermining popular support for him, and internationally, by rallying popular opinion to support policies against that country. The ultimate goal, they argue, is to weaken the country itself. They also talk about regime change.

They argue that if one looks at the facts, that there is evidence of ongoing character assassination which cannot be explained by a vague popular zeitgeist in the West, but is more likely the result of a dedicated effort to introduce this defamation into the news flow.…
The issue of manipulation of news by intelligence services has been in the news recently with revelations that the CIA and German Secret Service (GSS) have long-running programs to influence how media executives and top journalists convey and interpret the news, including direct cash payments.
I came to a similar conclusion about at orchestrated attempt at regime change some time ago. It's either abysmal reporting or an organized campaign or some of both. I suspect some of both, with the planted messaging being picked up by the echo chamber without verifying facts or presenting other views, creating an impression of monolithic truth. What made me particularly suspicious was the obvious attempt to front-run the news and capture the news cycle. This likely explains Putin's strong choice of words in his address at the Valdai discussions.

The Vineyard of the Saker
Is the CIA Running a Defamation Campaign Against Putin?
Russia Insider interviews The Saker

From the comments there:
@Where-Wolf:So long as Putin and You believe Russia can help save the world from fascism I have reason to hope.

I don't think that Russia can save the world, at best Russia can save Russia, but by saving Russia Russia can indeed help others, such as the Ukraine and, frankly, even the USA. At the core, this is not about nations, nationalities or ethnicities, it is about politics: on one side - imperialism, violence, wars, aggression, lies, exploitation, deception, social degeneration, an ideology of profit and greed above all else, injustice, discrimination and hatred, hatred and more hatred. On the other, I see a very diverse constellation of different forces of resistance who in many ways are very different from each other, but who *accept* that diversity and refuse to turn the planet in a mix of a McDonald's and the Gulag in Gitmo. By refusing to be incorporated into the AngloZionist "Borg" Russia can, and does, lead the rest of the countries who dare defy our planetary overlords. And, to be honest, I am absolutely sure that we all will prevail. The question for me is at what costs. That is what keeps me awake at night and fearful for the future of my kids.
Kindest regards,
The Saker

RT — Putin at Valdai - World Order: New Rules or a Game without Rules (FULL VIDEO)

Putin at Valdai - World Order: New Rules or a Game without Rules (FULL VIDEO)
h/t The Saker

The Saker — Ukraine mini-SITREP: very ominous developments (follow up)

This post is a short follow-up to the Ukraine mini-SITREP: very ominous developments post I did a couple of days ago. 
Several of you have noticed what can only be called a declaration of war on Russia by one of the top figures of the AngloZionist international capital, George Soros who has declared that "Russia is an existential threat to Europe". First, Khodorkovsky, now Soros - it is pretty clear who is gunning for Russia and how, and it is equally clear that what these financiers are really admitting by their bellicose statements is that Putin is an existential threat to them. In the latter statement, they are actually 100% correct (proving one more time that those who say that Putin is an oligarchic puppet are just useful and manipulated idiots). 
Nuland, Soros, Khodorkovsky, Hillary, Friedman and the list goes on and on and on. The entire Neocon cabal is out for war and they are putting tremendous pressure on the rest of the planet to join…
The globalizers are getting concerned that things are not playing out as they wish and that some people have other ideas.

The Vineyard of the Saker
Ukraine mini-SITREP: very ominous developments (follow up)

TASS on Putin's address to Valdai international discussions club

Vladimir Putin on Friday addressed a session of the Valdai international discussions club
Putin: new serious conflicts involving world powers possible

Also RT, Politically-motivated sanctions see shift from dollar - Putin

The Super-Rich Are as Miserable as the Rest of Us

Story at Fiscal Times here.

Let’s agree right off the bat that $25 million is a lot of money. 
The number of American households with a net worth of $25 million or more — excluding their home — reached a new record last year, according to a recent report by wealth management research provider Spectrem Group. 
Yet the same survey found that those wealthy Americans still have plenty of financial concerns. Actually, they sound fairly miserable…and that’s in a survey taken well before the stock market took a tumble last week. 
They may travel more, go to ballgames or concerts, or buy nice jewelry, but 70 percent of those surveyed said they get more satisfaction out of saving and investing their money than from spending it. 
More than half said they worry about the next generation wasting the money they inherit.  And almost a quarter (23 percent) said they worry “constantly” — constantly — about their financial situation.

Boy, sounds like if we ever would impose a Picketty Tax, many of these people would probably have to just go get a gun and blow their brains out... but then we who would be remaining would all be more "equal" in financial terms.

Drone footage of Apple's new campus under development

Video below shot by a quad-rotor drone with on-board gimbal mounted GoPro camera of Apple Computer's new corporate property development in Cupertino, CA.

Pretty impressive development in creativity and scale.

It must be nice to work with an institution whose leadership doesn't think its "out of money!".

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Justin Ling — Canada considers 'preventative detention' in wake of Ottawa attack

Details of those new powers have yet to be released, but justice minister Peter MacKay indicated to reporters that they will include measures to allow the preventive detention of suspected would-be terrorists.
“We’re examining all those sections of the criminal code, and all measures under the law that will allow us, in some instances, to take pre-emptive measures,” he said.
The Guardian
Canada considers 'preventative detention' in wake of Ottawa attack
Justin Ling

Michael Sauga — The Zombie System: How Capitalism Has Gone Off the Rails

According to the latest Global Wealth Report by the Boston Consulting Group, worldwide private wealth grew by about 15 percent last year, almost twice as fast as in the 12 months previous. 
The data expose a dangerous malfunction in capitalism's engine room. Banks, mutual funds and investment firms used to ensure that citizens' savings were transformed into technical advances, growth and new jobs. Today they organize the redistribution of social wealth from the bottom to the top. The middle class has also been negatively affected: For years, many average earners have seen their prosperity shrinking instead of growing. 
Harvard economist Larry Katz rails that US society has come to resemble a deformed and unstable apartment building: The penthouse at the top is getting bigger and bigger, the lower levels are overcrowded, the middle levels are full of empty apartments and the elevator has stopped working.
It's no wonder, then, that people can no longer get much out of the system. According to polls by the Allensbach Institute, only one in five Germans believes economic conditions in Germany are "fair." Almost 90 percent feel that the gap between rich and poor is "getting wider and wider." 
In this sense, the crisis of capitalism has turned into a crisis of democracy. Many feel that their countries are no longer being governed by parliaments and legislatures, but by bank lobbyists, which apply the logic of suicide bombers to secure their privileges: Either they are rescued or they drag the entire sector to its death.
Der Spiegel
The Zombie System: How Capitalism Has Gone Off the Rails
Michael Sauga

How About Fiat Currency Operations 101, For 5th Graders? Or "Context-101" For All Citizens?

   (Commentary posted by Roger Erickson)

"Recent accounts of athletes falling into financial distress have spurred some business schools to create specialized MBA programs for [athletes]"

? Business Schools?

Why not start long before that? With citizens? With an ounce of cheap prevention, instead of a MiddleClass flesh-pound of expensive repair? Especially since the repair so far is grossly too little, too late. [Yes, because of the lame fear that we've "run out of fiat."]

And no, an MBA wouldn't save us. They're among the dingbats saying that we're out of fiat. :(

How about mandatory, early Citizen Schools, for all citizens? Wow. Wotta concept! :)

To do something that simple, it seems that we have to STOP doing a lot of dumb stuff - but that list of dumb does NOT include constraining Public Initiative. Just redirecting MORE of it, to exploring more of our constantly emerging new options.

How much? As much as is needed to improve the quality of distributed decision-making ... because that ALWAYS pays for itself, by definition.

We need more - many more - reasonable people with context awareness.

Marriner Eccles types?

Luther Gulick types?

Beardsley Ruml types?

Warren Mosler types?

You know, people with common sense, and the audacity to simply insist on using it.

Jeffrey D. Sachs — A New Macroeconomic Strategy

Public investment, especially in renewable energy.

Project Syndicate
A New Macroeconomic Strategy
Jeffrey D. Sachs, Professor of Sustainable Development, Professor of Health Policy and Management, and Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, is also Special Adviser to the United Nations Secretary-General on the Millennium Development Goals

Mike Bird — George Soros: 'Wake Up, Europe!'

Multibillionaire investor George Soros has issued a warning to Europe's democracies over the threat that a resurgent Russia poses to the continent.

In an essay published Thursday in the New York Review of Books, Soros calls for more economic and military support for Ukraine, as well as the abandonment of the eurozone's current austerity programs.
Business Insider
George Soros: 'Wake Up, Europe!'
Mike Bird

China's man in Hong Kong explains the problem with democracy – It's a threat to capitalism

Unless it's oligarchic "democracy."

Jeff Weintraub — Commentaries and Controversies
China's man in Hong Kong explains the problem with democracy – It's a threat to capitalism
Jeff Weintraub
h/t Brad DeLong

Pankaj Mishra — The western model is broken

Longish but it gives a look into non-Western thinking on the neoliberal and neocon project for globalization that appears to non-Westerners as neo-imperialsim and neocolonialism.

The Guardian
The western model is broken
Pankaj Mishra | Indian writer

John J. Mearsheimer — The US Caused the Ukrainian Crisis by Pushing NATO and the EU to Russia's Borders

Foreign Affairs is published by the Council on Foreign Relations.
In this, the third of the three pieces published by Foreign Affairs, Professor John Mearsheimer responds to the criticisms by former US Ambassadors Michael J. McFaul and Stephen Sestanovich of his original article in Foreign Affairs, which criticised US foreign policy towards Russia from a “realist” position. You can find Professor Mearsheimer’s original article here and those of McFaul and Sestanovichhere and here.
Russia Insider
The US Caused the Ukrainian Crisis by Pushing NATO and the EU to Russia's Borders
John J. Mearsheimer | Professor of Political Science, University of Chicago

Daniele Pozzati — Top German Newspapers Whitewash Leading Ukrainian Neo-Nazis

Lately, Germany has been taking a keen interest in the upcoming October 26 Ukrainian parliamentary elections. Bizarrely, they are full of praise for neo-nazi candidates.

For example, the publication Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung perhaps Germany’s most prestigious daily, recently dedicated a very sympathetic article to Oleh Lyashko. Who is this “Oleh”?

Lyashko was elected to parliament despite having a criminal record and having spent quality prison time for embezzlement. His neo-nazi militia group has been condemned by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International for war crimes. His response to this was the Ukrainian equivalent of “in the fog of war stuff happens”. Ironically, he is also chairman of a subcommittee on - wait for it - “Rules and Ethics”.

Also recently, Die Zeit, Germany’s most prestigious weekly, published a profile interview with Semyon Semenchenko, the commander and founder of a neo-nazi militia referred to as the Donbass Battalion.

On June 29th members of his battalion staged a protest in front of the parliament demanding the immediate cessation of the truce declared on June 21st . A truce is bad news, of course, for bad-boy Nazi wannabes who want to rid Ukraine of communists, jews and Russians.

Not the least problem with giving positive coverage to extremists is that you embolden them. Semenchenko recently openly threatened President Poroshenko, calling “a traitor”, saying he would force Poroshenko to flee for his life from Ukraine unless hostilities against the pro-Russian separatists are resumed.

In a remarkable feat of irrationality Sementchenko even admitted to his battalion wearing Nazi insignia: "Yes, we wear swastikas, but such symbols do not mean much anymore".
Russia Insider
Top German Newspapers Whitewash Leading Ukrainian Neo-Nazis
Daniele Pozzati

Always Remember That Floating Fx Reflects Policy Steps, Not Just Markets Presumed To Function In Isolation

(Commentary posted by Roger Erickson)

Naïveté = uncertainty.

There is no such thing as Free Trade. There are only policies affecting arbitrage opportunities for different people, disciplines and whole classes of citizens. 

Statesmanship means trying to track the long-term implications of policy for national options. Politicians are hired to NOT paint their electorates into corners which the people on the street can't possibly see coming.
Currency Wars: The Next Generation
(hat tip Art Patten)

Gotta Be Honest First, Or Math Is Useless.

   (Commentary posted by Roger Erickson)

Because there's no logic without "lo".

Bill Mitchell: "Still sinning … a German economist who cannot face facts"

Those that just can't - or simply won't - see, never put 2+2 together.

No wonder they don't - or won't - get to 5th grade math. Gotta be honest first, or math is useless.

You do the calculus of honesty.

The residual is that data is always meaningless without context.

You can IMAGINE any context you want, but that doesn't help when it comes to helping fellow citizens survive REAL context.

Weather Service stops receiving satellite data, issues notice about forecast quality

WaPo reporting satellite outages this AM here.

SO reported earlier this week a BIG sunspot group coming around the sun's leading edge here, and associated massive solar flaring off the edge  at that time (see video at link, pretty amazing).

(I have been watching this off and on for probably over a year and this is by far the largest I've seen headed our way, see picture below from a few days ago...)

So this formation could be earth facing today and the EM effects could be the cause of these satellite outages, I hope they are just temporary.

SO is probably monitoring this event and will probably report at the youtube channel here, you have to check back.

Looks like libertarian Ann Coulter (who Mike kicked off his show the one time, LOL!)  is blaming the Obama Administration or the government, go figure (check out the reply tweets over there for a good laugh at the libertarians!):


UPDATE:  Bingo, link here.  Sorry Coulter & Co. it wasn't government ineptitude... btw it was the govt that put the satellites up there in the first place morons....

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

EVERYONE Should Be Aware - & Mad As Hell - That DOJ Refuses To Do 5th Grade Math

   (Commentary posted by Roger Erickson)

"DOJ’s strategy is a legal obscenity and has produced the greatest strategic failure to prosecute elite (and not so elite) white-collar criminals in DOJ’s modern history. DOJ has made it clear to senior (and even middling) bank executives that they can loot with absolute personal impunity. This guarantees future financial crises will be far more severe. But DOJ has reached a new nadir by giving top agency awards to those who lead its abject failures and by claiming that it cannot prosecute bank officers (hilariously rebranded by DOJ as “rocket scientists”) because DOJ attorneys cannot do 5th grade math." 

This is a long article, but well worth sending to everyone you can possibly think of.

"DOJ just gave its lead prosecutor team a 2nd "highest award," for failing to prosecute ANYONE at JPMorgan."
Wow! Maybe we should pay ALL citizens for NOT working! You suppose? :(

I can't even keep up with the volume of obscene news anymore.

What could keep our entire electorate AWARE of context? It will be something quite simple.

They're quite literally asleep at the wheel.

There could be huge signs posted, saying "CRASH AHEAD" ... and these current democracy drivers would still hand the wheel over to some drunk Neo-Cons, out of pure denial.

And disorientation. And lack of context awareness.

Yet somewhere at the bottom of every rabbit hole, including this one, there are some rather simple fixes to trigger. We need some focus, a consensus Desired Outcome, and an organized campaign to achieve it ... by any and all means possible. None of these bozos can be as smart as all of us. We just have to start acting like owners of our own Public Initiative.

What are the opposition - and our Innocent Frauds - doing?
"The top 'quant' at Enron, the honest and brilliant top risk officer, Vincent Kaminski, wrote recently about his regrets that he was unable to spot the fraud, at a firm that was 'rotten to the core,' because he did not understand accounting control fraud techniques."If so, then he should have been relieved of responsibility long before. Which just means that corp/national governance & risk-mgt was totally trashed, and inadequate. That's a good way to lose an adaptive race.
Brilliant? You be the judge. 

And while you're pondering, switch to earlier today.

"Three years ago, in the dark days of the housing crisis, regulators pressed for a controversial rule that aimed to crack down on shoddy and dishonest lending practices. Now they’re rolling back their plans."
What'd Bill Black just document? What on Earth is happening?

Control Frauds are running circles around our current Democracy?

They're inside our aggregate Decision Cycle? (perhaps just for lack of one, on either side ... )

What would John Boyd say about this competition between OODA Loops?

(That we're screwed ... if we don't drastically ramp up our distributed initiative ... and & start inventing & utilizing some "Fast Transients" ? i.e., "short cuts.")

ps: If this level of fraud is aggregate obscenity, surely existing anti-obscenity laws should protect the public from it?
In my mind, that suggests that things that Control Frauds & their servants say are NOT protected speech.

Where's our current Supreme Court? Oh yes, already bought & paid for .. with YOUR diverted Public Initiative, er fiat currency.

Robert Oak — Inflation Deceptive, CPI 0.1% Yet Some Items Off the Charts

Everything you want to know about CPI (almost).

My take is that judging economic performance on figures like per capita GDP for "growth," CPI for "inflation," and U3 for "unemployment" is myopic and misleading. But it's these numbers that make news headlines and dominate "popular economics."

BTW, unleaded was $2.77 today at Costco, Iowa City/Coralville. That's a pretty huge "tax cut."

The Economic Populist
Inflation Deceptive, CPI 0.1% Yet Some Items Off the Charts
Robert Oak