Softpanorama
May the source be with you, but remember the KISS principle ;-)

Contents Bulletin Scripting in shell and Perl Network troubleshooting History Humor

Financial skeptic

Notes on "neoliberalism enforced" cruise to Frugality Island for 401K Lemmings

News Neoliberalism as a New Form of Corporatism Recommended Links Peak cheap Energy and Oil Price Slump Secular Stagnation under Neoliberalism Rational Fools vs. Efficient Crooks: The efficient m hypothesis Casino Capitalism
Insufficient Retirement Funds as Immanent Problem of Neoliberal Regime Neoliberal Attacks on Social Security Unemployment Inflation vs. Deflation Coming Bond Squeeze Notes on 401K plans Vanguard
401K Investing Webliography Retirement scams Stock Market as a Ponzy scheme Financial Sector Induced Systemic Instability Neoclassical Pseudo Theories The Great Stagnation Investing in Vanguard Mutual Funds and ETFs
OIL ETNs Peak Cheap Energy and Oil Price Slump Notes on 100-your age investment strategy behavior in rigged markets Chasing a trade The Possibility Of No Mean Reversion Junk Bonds For 401K Investors Tax policies
John Kenneth Galbraith The Roads We Take Economics Bookshelf Who Rules America Financial Quotes Financial Humor Etc

“When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product
of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done.”

John Maynard Keynes

"Life is a school of probabilities."

Walter Bagehot

Neoliberal economics (aka casino capitalism) function from one crash to another. Risk is pervasively underpriced under neoliberal system, resulting in bubbles small and large which hit the economy periodically. The problem are not strictly economical or political. They are ideological. Like a country which adopted a certain religion follows a certain path, The USA behaviour after adoption of neoliberalism somewhat correlate with the behaviour of alcoholic who decided to booze himself to death. The difference is that debt is used instead of booze.

Hypertrophied role of financial sector under neoliberalism introduces strong positive feedback look into the economic system making the whole system unstable. Any attempts to put some sand into the wheels in the form of increasing transaction costs or jailing some overzealous bankers or hedge fund managers are blocked by political power of financial oligarchy, which is the actual ruling class under neoliberalism for ordinary investor (who are dragged into stock market by his/her 401K) this in for a very bumpy ride. I managed to observe just two two financial crashed under liberalism (in 2000 and 2008) out of probably four (Savings and loan crisis was probably the first neoliberal crisis). The next crash is given, taking into account that hypertrophied role of financial sector did not changes neither after dot-com crisis of 200-2002 not after 2008 crisis (it is unclear when and if it ended; in any case it was long getting the name of "Great Recession").

Timing of the next crisis is anybody's guess but it might well be closer then we assume. As Mark Twain aptly observed: "A thing long expected takes the form of the unexpected when at last it comes" ;-):

This morning that meant a stream of thoughts triggered by Paul Krugman’s most recent op-ed, particularly this:

Most of all, the vast riches being earned — or maybe that should be “earned” — in our bloated financial industry undermined our sense of reality and degraded our judgment.

Think of the way almost everyone important missed the warning signs of an impending crisis. How was that possible? How, for example, could Alan Greenspan have declared, just a few years ago, that “the financial system as a whole has become more resilient” — thanks to derivatives, no less? The answer, I believe, is that there’s an innate tendency on the part of even the elite to idolize men who are making a lot of money, and assume that they know what they’re doing.

As most 401K investors are brainwashing into being "over bullish", this page is strongly bearish in "perma-bear" fashion in order to serve as an antidote to "Barrons" style cheerleading. Funny, but this page is accessed mostly during periods of economic uncertainty. At least this was the case during the last two financial crisis(2000 and 2008). No so much during good times: the number of visits drops to below 1K a month.

Still I hope it plays a small but important role: to warn about excessive risk taking by 401K investors in neoliberal economic system. It designed to serve as a warning sign and inject a skeptical note into MSM coverage. There are not many such sites, so a warning about danger of taking excessive risk in 401K accounts under neoliberalism has definite value. The following cartoon from 2008 illustrated this point nicely

As far as I know lot of 401K investors are 100% or almost 100% invested at stocks. Including many of my friends. I came across a very relevant to this situation joke which nicely illustrated the ideas of this page:

Seven habits that help produce the anything-but-efficient markets that rule the world by Paul Krugman in Fortune.

1. Think short term.
2. Be greedy.
3. Believe in the greater fool
4. Run with the herd.
5. Overgeneralize
6. Be trendy
7. Play with other people's money

I would like to stress again that it is very difficult to "guess" when the next wave of crisis stikes us: "A thing long expected takes the form of the unexpected when at last it comes".

But mispricing of risk in 401K accounts is systemic for "overbullish" 401 investors, who expect that they will be able to jusp of the train in time, before the crash. Usually such expectations are false. And to sell in the market that can lose 10% in one day is not easy psychologically. I remember my feelings in 2001-2002 and again 2008-2009. That's why many people who planned to "jump" stay put and can temporarily lose 30 to 50% of value of their 401k account in a very short period of time (and if you think that S&P500 can't return to 1000, think again; its all depends on FED). At this point some freak out and sell their holdings making paper losses permanent.

Even for those who weathered the storm and held to their stock holdings, it is important to understand that paper losses were eliminated mostly by Fed money printing. As such risks remains as at one point FED might find itself out of ammunition. The fact that S&P500 recovered very nicely it does not diminish the risk of such behavior. There is no guarantee that the third crisis will behave like previous two.

Next crash will have a new key determinant: the attitude toward the US government (and here I mean the current government of Barack Obama) and Wall Street after 2008 is the lack of trust. That means that you need to hope for the best but prepare for the worst. Injection on so much money into financial system was a novel experiment which is not ended yet. So how it will end is anybody's guess. We are now in uncharted waters. I think when Putin called Bernanke a hooligan, he meant exactly this. Since Bernanke was printing money out of thin air to buy financial paper, his action were tantamount to shoplifting. In some way this probably is more similar to running meth labs inside Fed building. The system was injected with narcotics. Everybody felt better, but the mechanism behind it was not healthy.

The complexity of modern financial system is tremendous and how all those new financial instruments will behave under a new stress is unknown. At the same time in the Internet age we, the great unwashed masses, can't be keep in complete obscurity like in good old time. Many now know ( or at least suspect ) that the neoliberal "show must goes on" after 2008 is actually going strongly at their expense. And while open rebellion is impossible, that results in lack of trust which represents a problem for financial oligarchy which rules the country. The poor working slobs are told be grateful for Walmart's low (poverty-subsidized) prices. Middle class is told that their declining standard of living is a natural result of their lack of competitiveness in the market place. Classic "bread and circuses" policy still works but for how long it will continue to work it is unclear.

But nothing is really new under the sun. To more and more people it is now clear that today the US is trying to stave off the inevitable decline by resorting to all kinds of financial manipulations like previous empires; yesterday, it was the British Empire and if you go further back, you get the USSR, Hapsburg empire, Imperial Russia, Spanish empire, Venetian empire, Byzantium and Roman empire. The current "Secretary of Imperial Wars" (aka Secretary of Defense) Ashton Baldwin Carter is pretty open about this:

“We already see countries in the region trying to carve up these markets…forging many separate trade agreements in recent years, some based on pressure and special arrangements…. Agreements that…..leave us on the sidelines. That risks America’s access to these growing markets. We must all decide if we are going to let that happen. If we’re going to help boost our exports and our economy…and cement our influence and leadership in the fastest-growing region in the world; or if, instead, we’re going to take ourselves out of the game.”

For the US elite it might be a time to rethink its neocon stance due to which the US is exposing ourselves to the enmity of the rising economic powers, and blowing serious cash to maintain it hegemony via maintaining huge military budget, financing wars and color revolutions in distant countries. In a way the US foreign policy became a financial racket, and racket can't last forever because it incite strong opposition from other countries.

Neoliberalism (aka casino capitalism) as a social system entered the state of decline after 2008. Like communism before it stopped to be attractive to people. But unlike communism it proved to have greater staying power, surviving in zombie state as finanfial institutions preserved political power and in some cases even enhanced it. It is unclear how long it will say in this state. Much depends on the availability of "cheap oil" on which neoliberal globalization is based.

But the plausible hypothesis is that this social system like socialism in xUSSR space before entered down slope and might well be on its way to the cliff. Attempts to neo-colonize other states by the West became less successful and more costly (Compare Ukraine, Libya and Iraq with previous instances of color revolutions). Some became close to XIX century colonial conquests with a lot of bloodshed (from half million to over a million of Iraqis, by different estimates, died ). As always this is mainly the blood of locals, which is cheap.

Libya and Ukraine are two recent examples. Both countries are now destroyed (which might be the plan). In Ukraine population is thrown in object poverty with income of less that $5 a day for the majority of population. And there is no other way to expand markets but to try to "neo-colonize" new countries by putting them into ominous level of debt while exporting goods to the population on credit. That is not a long term strategy as Greece, Bulgaria, and now Spain and Portugal had shown. With shrinking markets stability of capitalism in general and neoliberalism in particular might decrease.

Several researchers points to increased importance Central banks now play in maintaining of the stability of the banking system. That's already a reversal of neoliberal dogma about free (read "unregulated") markets. Actually the tale about "free markets", as far as the USA is concerned, actually was from the very beginning mainly the product designed for export (read about Washington consensus).

See also


Top updates

Softpanorama Switchboard
Softpanorama Search


NEWS CONTENTS

Old News ;-)

2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008

[Jul 20, 2016] Bill Black: Mankiws Mythical Ten Commandments of Theoclassical Economics

Notable quotes:
"... Democrats: Please Renounce Mankiw's Myths ..."
"... Mankiw is a propagandist. ..."
"... The values and ideology represented in the Economics textbook Bill Black analyzed didn't arise in a vacuum. The points Black lists reflect the ideology, values, ethics and interests of a narrow segment of our society who have accumulated enormous personal wealth through a variety of extra-legal and illegal mechanisms, and who use a small portion of that wealth to fund "Economics Chairs" in our public and private universities; economics "think tanks"; and speeches, books, consulting engagements, and board memberships for "prominent economists". ..."
"... Mankiw is a shill/useful idiot for his oligarchs patrons. #11 explains the idiocy of the previous 10. ..."
"... Did the banks which loaned billions to the gas frackers of North Dakota know that production would exceed demand and cause a crash? Perhaps the loan officer might have such concern, but would more likely be most concerned with his/her own bottom line – a meme Yves explores in Econned. ..."
"... Newly-printed money CAN cause inflation, but WHERE the price rises happen depends greatly on the pockets in which the money lands. ..."
"... stocks, real estate, luxury goods, premium educations, etc. ..."
"... This kind of ignorant cluelessness is pretty prevalent among the oligarchy and its supporters like Mankiw. Just like that guy in Davos who simply couldn't understand why there's so much social unrest in the world today. They live in a completely different world. ..."
"... My first exposure to Mankiw's principles was actually an early version of the talk by Yoram Bauman in this video. It hits several of the points Mr. Black makes and is also pretty funny. It definitely demonstrates how Mankiw attempts to cloak his biases in supposedly neutral terms. ..."
"... I doubt Mankiw will accept 100% estate tax on the justification that the cost of bequests is zero to the recipient. (and thus a 100% estate tax doesn't incur large costs on the recipient) ..."
"... My paper lists four principles claimed to be at the core of modern economics by Mankiw and then shows how all four principles are false: Amir-ud-Din, Rafi and Zaman, Asad, Failures of the 'Invisible Hand' (July 15, 2013). Forum for Social Economics, Vol. 45, Iss. 1, 2016. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2293940 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2293940 ..."
May 17, 2016 | nakedcapitalism.com

By Bill Black, the author of The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One and an associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Jointly published with New Economic Perspectives

This is the second column in a series on the N. Gregory Mankiw's myths and dogmas that he spreads in his economic textbooks. The first column exposed the two (contradictory) meta-myths that begin his preface. This column de-mythologizes Mankiw's unprincipled " principles " of economics – the ten commandments of theoclassical economics' priestly caste. Some of these principles, correctly hedged, could be unobjectionable, but in each case Mankiw dogmatically insists on pushing them to such extremes that they become Mankiw myths.

To understand Mankiw's mythical 10 commandments, one must understand "Mankiw morality" – a morality that remains hidden in each of his textbooks. Few people understand how radically theoclassical economics has moved in the last thirty years. Milton Friedman famously argued that CEOs should operate exclusively in the interest of shareholders. Mankiw, however, is a strong supporter of the view that CEOs will not only defraud customers, but also shareholders and creditors by looting the firm. "[I]t would be irrational for savings and loans [CEOs] not to loot." "Mankiw morality" decrees that if you have an incentive as CEO to loot, and fail to do so, you are not moral – you are insane. Mankiw morality was born in Mankiw's response as discussant to George Akerlof and Paul Romer's famous 1993 article "Looting: The Economic Underworld of Bankruptcy for Profit."

Mankiw's textbooks preach the wonders of the indefensible a system he has helped design to allow elite CEOs to loot the shareholders with impunity – the antithesis of Friedman's stated goal. Mankiw morality helps create the "criminogenic environments" that produce the epidemics of "control fraud" that drive our recurrent, intensifying financial crises. It is essential to interpret Mankiw's ten myths in light of his unacknowledged immoral views about how CEOs will and should respond to incentives to rig the system against the firm's consumers, employees, creditors, and shareholders. His textbooks religiously avoid any disclosure of Mankiw morality or its implications for perverting his ten commandments into an unethical and criminogenic dogma that optimizes the design of a criminogenic environment.

Mankiw's myths

  1. People Face Tradeoffs. To get one thing, you have to give up something else. Making decisions requires trading off one goal against another.

    This can be true, but Mankiw pushes his principle to the point that it becomes a myth. Life is filled with positive synergies and externalities. If you study logic or white-collar criminology you will make yourself a far better economist. You may trade off hours of study, but not "goals." If your "goal" is to become a great economist you will not be "trading off one goal against another" if you become a multidisciplinary scholar – you will strongly advance your goal. If you study diverse research methods you will be a far better economist than if you study only econometrics.

  2. The Cost of Something is What You Give Up to Get It. Decision-makers have to consider both the obvious and implicit costs of their actions.

    "Opportunity costs" are an important and useful economic concept, but Mankiw's definition sneaks ideological baggage into both sentences that turns his principle into multiple myths. Mankiw implicitly assumes fraud and other forms of theft out of existence in the first sentence. "Cost" is often not measured in economics by "what you give up to get it." If your inherit a home that lacks fire insurance and immediately burns down there is a cost to you (and society) even though you gave up nothing to inherit the home. If the CEO loots "his" firm he gave up nothing to get the millions, but if he loses those millions he will consider it to have a "cost." Theoclassical economists have a primitive tribal taboo against even using the "f" word (fraud).

    Decision-makers frequently ignore the "costs of their actions." There is nothing in economic theory or experience that supports the claim that the "decision-makers" "have" to consider costs. It is rare that decision-makers must do – or not do – anything.

    It is likely that Mankiw means that optimization requires decision-makers to "consider" all "costs of their actions," but that too is a myth. Theoclassical optimization requires perfect, cost-free information, pure "rationality," and no externalities. None of these conditions exist. Car buyers have no means of knowing the costs of buying a particular car. If they bought a GM car the ignition mechanism defect could cause the driver to lose the ability to control the car – turning it into an unguided missile hurtling down (or off) a highway at 70 mph. The car buyer does not know of the defect, does not know who will be driving when the defect becomes manifest, does not know who the passengers will be, and does not know who and what else could be injured or damaged as a result of the defect. The theoclassical view is that the buyer who "considers" the costs of buying his defective car to others (negative externalities) and pays more money to buy a car that minimizes those negative externalities is not acting ethically, but irrationally.

    It is typically cheaper (for the producer, not society) to produce goods of inferior (but difficult to observe) quality. The inability of the consumer to "consider" even the true costs to the consumer and the consumer's loved ones of these hidden defects means that economists began warning 46 years ago that "market forces" could become criminogenic. George Akerlof's 1970 article on markets for "lemons" even coined the term "Gresham's" dynamic to describe the process. A Gresham's dynamic is a leading form of a criminogenic environment.

    [D]ishonest dealings tend to drive honest dealings out of the market. The cost of dishonesty, therefore, lies not only in the amount by which the purchaser is cheated; the cost also must include the loss incurred from driving legitimate business out of existence.

    Akerlof was made a Nobel laureate in economics in 2001 for this body of work. Economics is the only field in which someone would write a textbook ignoring a Nobel laureate whose work has proven unusually accurate on such a critical point. There is only one reason to exclude this reality from Mankiw's myths – Akerlof's work falsifies Mankiw's myths, so Akerlof's work disappears from Mankiw's principles, as does the entire concept of fraud.

  3. Rational People Think at the Margin . A rational decision-maker takes action if and only if the marginal benefit of the action exceeds the marginal cost.

    The mythical nature of this principle flows from the multiple errors I have described. Mankiw is being deliberately disingenuous. Theoclassical economics does not claim, for example, that a firm produces a product "only if the marginal benefit of the action exceeds the marginal cost." Theoclassical economists claim that a firm sells a product "only if the marginal benefit of the action to the seller exceeds the marginal cost to the seller." The seller ignores social costs and benefits.

    For the sake of brevity, I will summarize that Mankiw's third principle is a myth for five reasons known to every economist. First, it implicitly assumes out of existence positive and negative externalities, which means that supposedly rational, self-interested decision-makers he postulates, even if they had perfect, cost-free information, would not contract to maximize social welfare.

    Second, as Mankiw morality implicitly admits, the actual optimization principle under theoclassical economics would be determined by the marginal benefits and costs of an action to the decision-maker – the CEO – not the firm, and certainly not society. Theoclassical economists, however, refuse to admit that explicitly, so it disappears from Mankiw's 10 commandments.

    Third, the information provided by CEOs is often not simply incomplete and costly, but deliberately deceptive. Where information is merely incomplete, consumers may pay far more for a product than they will benefit from the purchase. Where the seller provides deceptive information about quality, the buyer and members of the public may be harmed or even killed. The CEO may also be looting "his" firm as well as the customers. Mankiw has implicitly assumed perfect, cost-free information and implicitly assumed that fraud does not exist.

    Fourth, conflating rationality with optimization of personal costs and benefits is wrong on multiple grounds. It defines ethical behavior as "irrational" where the consumer or CEO takes into account social costs and benefits and protects the interests of others in an altruistic manner. Everything we know from behavioral economics also makes clear that humans are not "rational" in the manner predicted by theoclassical economics. Mankiw has implicitly assumed out of existence thirty years of economic research on how people actually behave and make decisions.

    Fifth, firms with monopoly power, according to theoclassical economics, maximize their profits by deliberately reducing production to a point that the social cost of producing the marginal unit is less than the marginal benefit to the consumer. Mankiw has implicitly assumed away monopolies.

  4. People Respond to Incentives. Behavior changes when costs or benefits change.

    I have responded to this myth in a prior article . The implications of his fourth principle in conjunction with Mankiw morality are devastating for theoclassical economics. CEOs create the incentives and understand how "behavior changes" among their agents, employees, and subordinate officers in response to those incentives. Under theoclassical principles this will unambiguously lead "rational" CEOs to set incentives to rig the system in favor of the CEO. Because fraud and abuse creates a "sure thing" that is certain to enrich the CEO, Mankiw's fourth commandment predicts that control frauds led by CEOs will be ubiquitous. Fortunately, many CEOs are ethical and remain ethical unless they are subjected to a severe Gresham's dynamic. As a result, Mankiw's commandments over-predict the incidence of fraud and abuse by CEOs. Similarly, experiments demonstrate that humans frequently act in altruistic manners despite financial incentives to act unfairly.

  5. Trade Can Make Everyone Better Off .
    Trade allows each person to specialize in the activities he or she does best. By trading with others, people can buy a greater variety of goods or services.

    See my article on faux "trade deals" that exposes this myth.

  6. Markets Are Usually a Good Way to Organize Economic Activity .
    Households and firms that interact in market economies act as if they are guided by an "invisible hand" that leads the market to allocate resources efficiently. The opposite of this is economic activity that is organized by a central planner within the government.

    Again, the key interaction under theoclassical theory is between CEO and consumers, employees, creditors, shareholders, and the general public. "Markets" are vague constructs and they work best when ethical and legal provisions reduce fraud to minor levels. When these ethical and legal institutions are not extremely effective against fraud, the incentives created by the market can be so perverse that they create a criminogenic environment that produces epidemic levels of fraud. Mankiw's myth is to describe only one possible incentive and treat it as the sole possibility other than what he falsely describes as "the opposite" – a government planner. The opposite incentive to the so-called "invisible hand" is the Gresham's dynamic. Mankiw mythically presents the government as the threat to an effective economy rather than an institution that is essential to producing and enforcing the rule of law that prevents a Gresham's dynamic.

  7. Governments Can Sometimes Improve Market Outcomes .
    When a market fails to allocate resources efficiently, the government can change the outcome through public policy. Examples are regulations against monopolies and pollution.

    The myth here is that government only has a desirable role where there is a "market fail[ure]." Mankiw treats "markets" as the norm and implicitly assumes that the government normally has nothing to do with making markets succeed. Even conservative classical economists admitted that the rule of law was essential to an effective economy and required an effective government. Well-functioning governments always improve "market outcomes." Indeed, they are typically essential to making possible well-functioning "markets."

    Mankiw also fails to explain that "markets" will be fictional and massively distort resource allocation (that is what a hyper-inflated bubble does) when there is an epidemic of control fraud. As I have explained, Mankiw's own principles predict (indeed, over-predict) that deregulated "markets" will frequently prove so criminogenic that they will produce epidemics of control fraud.

  8. A Country's Standard of Living Depends on Its Ability to Produce Goods and Services. Countries whose workers produce a large quantity of goods and services per unit of time enjoy a high standard of living. Similarly, as a nation's productivity grows, so does its average income.

    First, the CEOs of sectors such as finance that are immensely unproductive – so unproductive that they cause enormous losses rather than growth, and receive exceptional income because they loot. Income is often based not on productivity, but on the CEOs' wealth and economic and political power that allows them to rig the economy. A nation's standard of living also depends on its employment levels, which can be crushed by economic policies such as austerity.

    The issue is not what happens to "average income," but what happens to median income, wealth, the income and wealth of the lowest quartile or particular minorities, and to income and wealth inequality. A nation can have high average productivity, yet have poor performance for decades in these other critical measures.

    Consider what has happened to the folks who tried to do everything right to boost their productivity according to the theoclassical economic "experts'" advice. This is what has happened to Latino and black households where a head of the household has at least a college degree. The source is economists at the extremely conservative St. Louis Fed .

    Hispanic and black families headed by someone with a four-year college degree, on the other hand, typically fared significantly worse than Hispanic and black families without college degrees. This was true both during the recent turbulent period (2007-2013) as well as during a two-decade span ending in 2013 (the most recent data available).

    White and Asian college-headed families generally fared much better than their less-educated counterparts. The typical Hispanic and black college-headed family, on the other hand, lost much more wealth than its less-educated counterpart. Median wealth declined by about 72 percent among Hispanic college-grad families versus a decline of only 41 percent among Hispanic families without a college degree. Among blacks, the declines were 60 percent versus 37 percent.

    One of the reasons that college-educated Latino and black families lost so much wealth compared to their white and Asian-American counterparts is that they were more likely to get their degrees from the for-profit colleges that theoclassical economists touted – colleges that frequently provided a very expensive and very poor education, often involving defrauding the students. Another reason that college-educated Latino and black families lost so much wealth compared to their white and Asian-American counterparts is that they were far more likely to be the victims of predatory home lending – an activity for which theoclassical economists served as the primary apologists.

    Mankiw also ignores critical factors that determine "a country's standard of living." Yes, China reports higher growth, but it is also operating in an unsustainable fashion that has destroyed much of its environment and threatens to be a major contributor to the global suicide strategy of causing severe climate change.

  9. Prices Rise When the Government Prints Too Much Money . When a government creates large quantities of the nation's money, the value of the money falls. As a result, prices increase, requiring more of the same money to buy goods and services.

    No, and Mankiw knew this was a myth when he wrote it. First, "prices rise" for many reasons. Pharmaceutical prices rise because hedge fund managers take over pharma firms or encourage others to do so in order to increase prices on existing drugs by hundreds, sometimes thousands of percent. Prices rise because accounting control fraud recipes hyper-inflated the largest bubble in history in U.S. real estate. Prices rise because of cartels. Prices rise because oil cartels cause oil shocks. Prices rise due to real bottlenecks, e.g., shortages of a skill or material.

    Inflation has not risen, indeed general price levels have often fallen (deflation) despite record creation of money by central banks and private banks. Theoclassical economists have regularly predicted hyper-inflation. As Paul Krugman emphasizes, virtually none of them even admits their serial prediction failures.

  10. Society Faces a Short-Run Tradeoff Between Inflation and Unemployment . Reducing inflation often causes a temporary rise in unemployment. This tradeoff is crucial for understanding the short-run effects of changes in taxes, government spending and monetary policy.

    Mankiw ends his ten myths with a series of myths. Foolish, counterproductive austerity often causes inflation to fall to harmfully low – even negative (deflation) – levels that can lead to prolonged recessions that cause severe damage to people and economies. Stimulus provides a win-win that improves economic growth and reduces human suffering without causing harmful inflation.

    A nation is able to operate at extremely high levels of employment without producing harmful inflation. Mankiw is a partisan Republican. When Republican presidents in the modern era are faced with recessions they junk their theoclassical dogmas and adopt stimulus programs, though they generally do so largely through the economically inefficient and less effective means of slashing tax rates for the wealthy.

Democrats: Please Renounce Mankiw's Myths

Unlike the Republicans, who always rise above their theoclassical principles when their president is in office and faces a recession, the "New Democrats" are the ones who seem to have drunk the theoclassical Kool-Aid and strive endlessly to create the self-inflicted wound of austerity when they are in power. New Democrats also love to bash Republican presidents for running deficits even when those deficits produced no harmful inflation and helped produce recovery. It is sensible and honest to point out that tax cuts for the wealthy are a far less effective form of stimulus and to present and support superior alternatives such as job guarantee and infrastructure programs. It would be superb if Democrats were to point out that by far the most effective, prompt means of cutting taxes to stimulate the economy in response to a recession is to cease collecting the Social Security taxes for several years. It is not fine to praise Bill Clinton for taking the harmful step of running a budget surplus or to bash Republicans because they – correctly – increased fiscal stimulus (and therefore the short-term deficit) in response to a recession.

Democrats also need to stop spreading the myth that Bill Clinton was an economic marvel. He was the luckiest president in history in terms of timing. His economic "success" was the product of two of the largest bubbles in history (the dot.com and real estate bubbles). The real estate bubble is the only thing that prevented his dot.com bubble from causing an economic collapse during his term. The real estate bubble was so enormous that it made it easy for the fraudulent CEOs to "roll" (refinance) the fraudulent loans they made, which helped cause the bubble to hyper-inflate. The saying in the trade is "a rolling loan gathers no loss." This meant that the bubble was Bill Clinton and George Bush's bubble, but it collapsed on George Bush's watch so Clinton gets the credit for the high employment produced by the twin bubbles and Bush gets the blame for the massive unemployment that a massive bubble will create when it collapses (if it is not replaced by an even larger bubble).

Selected Skeptical Comments
ke , May 17, 2016 at 1:10pm

The pots are calling the kettles black; standard politics, redundancy easily replaced by automation.

You do know that Bernie isn't going after Hillary because he has his skeletons, especially in the medical university complex, don't you. Ever live in Vermont. You did notice that Hillary just threatened him, to the core of his argument.

Jef ,
May 17, 2016 at 11:2am

Ke – Very insightful!

This… "Energy is information, most of which humans ignore."…and this… "Public Education policies are disgusting to anyone who really wants to learn…" are the important elements although I would add that humans don't ignore so much as don't know/are not taught, and I would say Public education has been purposefully corroded to the point of disgusting.

Left in Wisconsin , May 17, 2016 at 11:5am

Democrats: Please Renounce Mankiw's Myths

Good one.

Jim Haygood , May 17, 2016 at 12:14pm

"Prices rise" for many reasons.

Pharmaceutical prices rise because hedge fund managers take over pharma firms or encourage others to do so in order to increase prices on existing drugs by hundreds, sometimes thousands of percent. Prices rise because accounting control fraud recipes hyper-inflated the largest bubble in history in U.S. real estate. Prices rise because of cartels. Prices rise because oil cartels cause oil shocks. Prices rise due to real bottlenecks, e.g., shortages of a skill or material.

- Bill Black

----–

All of these examples treat relative price rises in the affected sector, not the general inflation which saw the U.S. CPI increase by a factor of ten (10) since 1950. Hedge funds and cartels couldn't do that, no matter how successful they were in increasing their share of the pie.

The same logic is used by union busters to claim that "greedy labor unions" cause inflation - an equally false notion. Labor can increase its share of national income at the expense of corporate profit, but it cannot cause a general inflation.

This unprecedented secular inflation did, however, coincide with government bonds surpassing gold as the Federal Reserve's largest holding in 1945, and with the dollar's gold link being severed in 1971.

Bill Black evidently hews to the scholarly tradition of the eminent Argentine economist and former central banker Mercedes Marcó del Pont:

"It is totally false to say that the printing more money generates inflation; price increases are generated by other phenomena like supply and external sector's behaviour," said Marcó del Pont.

http://tinyurl.com/jk5d64w

This from a country that lopped thirteen (13) zeros off its currency in the past century.

*takes another bong hit and blows a fat smoke ring*

ChrisPacific , May 17, 2016 at 6:35pm

I would argue that the real estate bubble caused genuine inflation because it was a credit bubble, but I agree on your other points. Intuitively I think of inflation as a rise in prices without a corresponding rise in (average) affordability. It's why a Big Mac today can cost multiple times what it did 30 years ago without being any less affordable for the average customer.

Mankiw's definition isn't precisely wrong but it's oversimplified. He doesn't address the role of banks in money creation, he doesn't define money (what about credit?) he doesn't discuss the factors that might cause government to print more or less money, and he doesn't say how much is too much. Without more rigor than he provides, it's only useful as a plausibility argument after the fact.

Regarding Black's comment:

Inflation has not risen, indeed general price levels have often fallen (deflation) despite record creation of money by central banks and private banks.

I would say this was because they were doing it during the deflation of a credit bubble on a large enough scale that money creation by the government was a drop in the bucket by comparison, and that was what caused deflation. Which again points to the importance of defining terms and operating constraints (why couldn't the government print money on a massive scale to compensate? What are the drawbacks and limitations on that approach?)

Economists do love to make doomsday hyperinflation predictions that never seem to pan out. As far as I can tell, that's because they think that the economy is inherently unstable and will lapse naturally into massive inflation (see: wage-price spiral) or some other disastrous state without the wise guiding hand of a central banker to prevent it. There seems to be very little evidence of this actually happening in reality, and the few genuine examples of hyperinflation (Weimar, Zimbabwe) have typically resulted from a collapse in production coupled with debts denominated in other currencies that (a) considerably exceed the country's ability to pay and (b) require the attempt to be made anyway.

Nathanael ,
May 21, 2016 at 8:0am

Notice that Mankiw managed to say nothing about "Economic instability or deflation, and eventually economic depression, is caused when the government prints TOO LITTLE money", which is actually true and happens quite reliably.

Mankiw is a propagandist.

TG , May 17, 2016 at 12:59pm

The true laws of economics:

  1. If it is physically impossible for something to occur, it won't, and finance be damned. Economics is first and foremost a branch of the physical sciences, though most economists have forgotten this.
  2. Supply and demand.
  3. Unintended consequences.
  4. High productivity does not create high wages. High wages create high productivity. If you spend a lot of money on water-conservation technology at the base of Niagara Falls, will it increase the economic value of water there?
  5. The physical utility of a commodity (including labor) is not related to its economic value. Adam Smith did get something right.
  6. Nothing in this universe can grow exponentially for very long. Societies with sustained high fertility rates will always be miserably poor, and only societies that have first reduced their fertility rate can hope to become rich.
  7. A (more-or-less) free market is indeed a powerful and essential optimization mechanism ("the invisible hand") but it is nonlinear. Like all such nonlinear optimization mechanisms, it can and does get stuck in local minima and require external directed efforts to move to a more optimal solution. This is basic math.
  8. Inflation occurs when prices go up. That's it.
  9. "Capitalism" guarantees neither poverty nor prosperity. The market is neutral. Even as the laws of physics are obeyed equally well by a building that stands tall as by one that collapses into a heap of rubble, the laws of the market are also obeyed in miserably poor Bangladesh as well as in prosperous Switzerland. With 100 desperate people competing for every job, wages for the many will be low and profits for the few will be high. And vice versa. Blaming "capitalism" for poverty is silly, as if I threw someone off a cliff and then blamed the law of gravity for their death. Trying to deny market forces is equally silly, like trying to legislate gravity out of existence. It simply must be worked with.
  10. "Free to choose to own or employ slaves", "Free trade includes the ability of big corporations to restrict trade to maximize their profits", "Free to buy politicians and have them loot the public treasury in your interest" … Strict libertarianism is logically incoherent and ethically vile.
bdy ,
May 18, 2016 at 12:3am

Nice.

I quibble with 6 & 8. "A more or less free market" is a well regulated market. How much "more free" or "less free" a market needs to be to best distribute its product depends entirely on its particular conditions and vagaries. The insinuation that a market should be "stuck in a local minima" before oversight can improve its performance echoes Mankiw's 7th misconstruction, that (in Bill Black's words) "government only has a desirable role when there is a market failure."

I especially disagree that markets are neutral. Markets exist at the pleasure of the Capitalists who create and smother them for profit. Capitalists are forever cajoling "market opportunities" out from under every rock they can turn over. They invent, shape, split, combine, dissect, analyze, produce, reproduce, abandon, corner and strangle markets in pursuit of lucre. There is no market for Ford electric cars in California beyond the handful required by statute, despite ample demand, because individuals at Ford have determined that creating that particular market will eat into the personal profit they might extract from other markets. "Efficient" markets, that only return a gazilionth of a point on investment because of optimal competition, cease to be because the margin is too low to justify the hassle or the capital risk. Switching gears, labor markets in Bangladesh & Switzerland exist when Capitalists decide to hire workers. Hirees agree to be paid what Capitalists choose to pay, whether "freely" or under the duress of the State.

There is no market equivalent to gravity or the law of planetary motion. The model of supply and demand is a hypothetical post rationalization of a shifting negotiation – while it's helpful to a degree, supply/demand doesn't make "lawfull" (or useful) predictions until demand nears infinity (see health care: "how much will that be, doc?" – "how much have you got?", or housing: "how much can you borrow from a fractional reserve player who lends without risk and won't verify your income?")

As the local monopolists of violence, States can engage markets as they see fit. They can supply (Volkswagon & the post office), demand (food stamps, R&D grants), regulate, open (ACA) or close them (pharmaceutical imports) to their hearts desire. Good or bad outcomes depend entirely on the wisdom of the policy.

Whoa. Exhale. To be sure, I inhaled. Too many words when I should just say:

Nice.

Its good we agree that policy should be just and compassionate.

Chauncey Gardiner , May 17, 2016 at 1:12pm

The values and ideology represented in the Economics textbook Bill Black analyzed didn't arise in a vacuum. The points Black lists reflect the ideology, values, ethics and interests of a narrow segment of our society who have accumulated enormous personal wealth through a variety of extra-legal and illegal mechanisms, and who use a small portion of that wealth to fund "Economics Chairs" in our public and private universities; economics "think tanks"; and speeches, books, consulting engagements, and board memberships for "prominent economists".

This matter is really about whose values will control government economic policy and law.

Excellent analysis. Thank you, Bill Black, for all you do and have done.

Lumpenproletariat ,
May 17, 2016 at 1:16pm

#11

Mankiw is a shill/useful idiot for his oligarchs patrons. #11 explains the idiocy of the previous 10.

steelhead23 ,
May 17, 2016 at 2:45pm

I see much of the underlying theory of classical economics as simplifications that make the math easier. One of my favorite examples of misallocation of resources was the market for Burbank Russet potatoes in 2001. Basically, producers wanted $6.50 per hundredweight for spuds. The big buyer, Simplot offered farmers $4.50 pre-season. Many farmers decided to wait until harvest, hoping the spot market would give them a better price. I should also mention that in Idaho, farmers not wishing to plant in a given year, could sell their water to other farmers, or to the federal government which uses the water to help salmon and to produce hydropower. Thus, producing potatoes carried the opportunity cost of water leasing. But leasing water leasing to the federal government is culturally taboo in the ag. community. 2001 was a dry year and most of the ag. water was consumed growing spuds.

The outcome was a banner year in production, driving the spot market price to $0.50 per hundredweight, far less than the cost of production. Many acres of potatoes were plowed under – a total loss – to everyone.

My point is – there is no way to know, in advance, what the price of a commodity will be in the future unless you know, or can limit, the rate of production and control demand.

Did the banks which loaned billions to the gas frackers of North Dakota know that production would exceed demand and cause a crash? Perhaps the loan officer might have such concern, but would more likely be most concerned with his/her own bottom line – a meme Yves explores in Econned.

I suppose I am a bit defensive of classical microeconomics because it is elegant. But I am also terribly suspicious of its answers because one never has either the information or the control to be anywhere near as certain as the calculus would suggest.

Mike Thorne ,
May 17, 2016 at 4:01pm

On point #9: "Prices Rise When the Government Prints Too Much Money". Recent inflation data suggests it's a myth. But if restated as "When government prints money, prices rise on the goods and services that the people who receive the money tend to buy", then it's NOT a myth.

That was the whole problem with the Federal Reserve's damned QE efforts. They printed gobs of money, and it all landed in the pockets of the wealthy. The stuff they buy (stocks, real estate, luxury goods, premium educations, etc.) has seen prices rise MUCH faster than nominal inflation. And the people who didn't get any of the newly printed money (i.e., most of us)… Well, these sad folks couldn't afford to spend any more than before, so anybody who attempted to impose prices hikes on low-end consumer goods saw a loss of sales volume.

Newly-printed money CAN cause inflation, but WHERE the price rises happen depends greatly on the pockets in which the money lands.

Jeff Z ,
May 17, 2016 at 6:24pm

Excellent Point!

TK421 ,
May 17, 2016 at 6:32pm

stocks, real estate, luxury goods, premium educations, etc.

But it's hard to produce more of those, so with an increase in money chasing them their prices will rise. If the government handed money to poor people, they would buy food, clothes, cars, televisions, etc. In other words, things that society can produce more of. That's my read, anyway.

Mike Thorne ,
May 18, 2016 at 8:2am

Partially. Prices for good where quantities are truly fixed (like acres of land in San Francisco) can rise sharply when extra money pours in.

But even when there is opportunity to increase production, manufacturers must purchase equipment (like farm equipment for more food) or hire more workers (thereby tightening the labor market and pushing wages up). These result in price hikes. More modest price hikes than San Francisco real estate, but still real hikes. It's the classic supply vs. demand curve from classic microeconomics.

That said, "QE to the people" is certainly less objectionable than the "QE to the bankers and the 1%" that we've seen over the past five years. Prices would go up, but people would get to buy more things they want or need, and hiring would likely go up as well. [And at a minimum, there needs to be at least *some* growth in the money supply to keep up with population growth. Otherwise we see deflation and the ability to become wealthier by hoarding cash.]

dao , May 17, 2016 at 5:07pm

This was Mankiw's "response" to OWS back in 2011:

"Here is a fact that you might not have heard from the Occupy Wall Street crowd: The incomes at the top of the income distribution have fallen substantially over the past few years.

"According to the most recent IRS data, between 2007 and 2009, the 99th percentile income (AGI, not inflation-adjusted) fell from $410,096 to $343,927. The 99.9th percentile income fell from $2,155,365 to $1,432,890. During the same period, median income fell from $32,879 to $32,396."

This kind of ignorant cluelessness is pretty prevalent among the oligarchy and its supporters like Mankiw. Just like that guy in Davos who simply couldn't understand why there's so much social unrest in the world today. They live in a completely different world.

TK421 ,
May 17, 2016 at 6:33pm

And since then, nearly every penny of income gains has gone to the 1%.

Expat ,
May 18, 2016 at 2:3am

The big difference being that $70k to the 99th percentile means the difference between a new Beemer this year or next while $500 for the median family means choosing which child goes hungry for the second half of December.

And of course, Anonymous's excellent point. You are cherry picking old data based on a stock market and real estate bubble crash. Median income families don't "own" real estate and certainly don't own stocks.

Mankiw is either psychotic or was gleefully obfuscating when he presenting that out-dated analysis.

I say Kill the Rich and feed their bodies to the poor. It's not a solution at all (and I am rich myself) but it would be deeply, deeply satisfying!

Jayinbmore , May 18, 2016 at 8:5am

My first exposure to Mankiw's principles was actually an early version of the talk by Yoram Bauman in this video. It hits several of the points Mr. Black makes and is also pretty funny. It definitely demonstrates how Mankiw attempts to cloak his biases in supposedly neutral terms.

Erwin Gordon , May 18, 2016 at 10:2am

As for number 6, I couldn't disagree with you more. Organisational power is dependent on it being enforced BY THE GOVERNMENT. Without that coercion, individuals would find other solutions for the want provided for by that particular organisation. I would suggest that you look at the history of Pennsylvania circa 1681-1690 or Moresnet (in what is now Aachen) circa 1816 until the end of WWI to understand what is possible when the free market really operates.

Nontraditional Student , May 19, 2016 at 6:2am

I am actually a returning undergrad student and starting an econ course next week. I just looked at the text book… and its Mankiw. Should be a fun semester.

Yves Smith , May 19, 2016 at 8:2am

Don't argue with the PR. You need to be strategic. Regurgitate the BS but be sure to read enough corrective material that the toxins don't infect your brain.

Patrick , May 20, 2016 at 5:19pm

I doubt Mankiw will accept 100% estate tax on the justification that the cost of bequests is zero to the recipient. (and thus a 100% estate tax doesn't incur large costs on the recipient)

Asad Zaman ,
July 13, 2016 at 10:1am

My paper lists four principles claimed to be at the core of modern economics by Mankiw and then shows how all four principles are false: Amir-ud-Din, Rafi and Zaman, Asad, Failures of the 'Invisible Hand' (July 15, 2013). Forum for Social Economics, Vol. 45, Iss. 1, 2016. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2293940 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2293940

[Jul 20, 2016] Global elites must heed the warning of populist rage

Notable quotes:
"... Poorer than their Parents? ..."
July 19, 2016 | ft.com

Real income stagnation over a longer period than any since the war is a fundamental political fact

For every complex problem, there is an answer that is clear, simple and wrong." HL Mencken could have been thinking of today's politics. The western world undoubtedly confronts complex problems, notably, the dissatisfaction of so many citizens. Equally, aspirants to power, such as Donald Trump in the US and Marine Le Pen in France, offer clear, simple and wrong solutions - notably, nationalism, nativism and protectionism.

The remedies they offer are bogus. But the illnesses are real. If governing elites continue to fail to offer convincing cures, they might soon be swept away and, with them, the effort to marry democratic self-government with an open and co-operative world order.

What is the explanation for this backlash? A large part of the answer must be economic. Rising prosperity is a good in itself. But it also creates the possibility of positive-sum politics. This underpins democracy because it is then feasible for everybody to become better off at the same time. Rising prosperity reconciles people to economic and social disruption. Its absence foments rage.

The McKinsey Global Institute sheds powerful light on what has been happening in a report entitled, tellingly, Poorer than their Parents?, which demonstrates how many households have been suffering from stagnant or falling real incomes. On average between 65 and 70 per cent of households in 25 high-income economies experienced this between 2005 and 2014. In the period between 1993 and 2005, however, only 2 per cent of households suffered stagnant or declining real incomes. This applies to market income. Because of fiscal redistribution, the proportion suffering from stagnant real disposable incomes was between 20 and 25 per cent. (See charts.)

McKinsey has examined personal satisfaction through a survey of 6,000 French, British and Americans. The consultants found that satisfaction depended more on whether people were advancing relative to others like them in the past than whether they were improving relative to those better off than themselves today. Thus people preferred becoming better off, even if they were not catching up with contemporaries better off still. Stagnant incomes bother people more than rising inequality.

The main explanation for the prolonged stagnation in real incomes is the financial crises and subsequent weak recovery. These experiences have destroyed popular confidence in the competence and probity of business, administrative and political elites. But other shifts have also been adverse. Among these are ageing (particularly important in Italy) and declining shares of wages in national income (particularly important in the US, UK and Netherlands).

Real income stagnation over a far longer period than any since the second world war is a fundamental political fact. But it cannot be the only driver of discontent. For many of those in the middle of the income distribution, cultural changes also appear threatening. So, too, does immigration - globalisation made flesh. Citizenship of their nations is the most valuable asset owned by most people in wealthy countries. They will resent sharing this with outsiders. Britain's vote to leave the EU was a warning.

So what is to be done? If Mr Trump were to become president of the US, it might already be too late. But suppose that this does not happen or, if it does, that the result is not as dire as I fear. What then might be done?

First, understand that we depend on one another for our prosperity. It is essential to balance assertions of sovereignty with the requirements of global co-operation. Global governance, while essential, must be oriented towards doing things countries cannot do for themselves. It must focus on providing the essential global public goods. Today this means climate change is a higher priority than further opening of world trade or capital flows.

Second, reform capitalism. The role of finance is excessive. The stability of the financial system has improved. But it remains riddled with perverse incentives. The interests of shareholders are given excessive weight over those of other stakeholders in corporations.

Third, focus international co-operation where it will help governments achieve significant domestic objectives. Perhaps the most important is taxation. Wealth owners, who depend on the security created by legitimate democracies, should not escape taxation.

Fourth, accelerate economic growth and improve opportunities. Part of the answer is stronger support for aggregate demand, particularly in the eurozone. But it is also essential to promote investment and innovation. It may be impossible to transform economic prospects. But higher minimum wages and generous tax credits for working people are effective tools for raising incomes at the bottom of the distribution.

Fifth, fight the quacks. It is impossible to resist pressure to control flows of un­skilled workers into advanced economies. But this will not transform wages. Equally, protection against imports is costly and will also fail to raise the share of manufacturing in employment significantly. True, that share is far higher in Germany than in the US or UK. But Germany runs a huge trade surplus and has a strong comparative ad­vantage in manufactures. This is not a generalisable state of affairs. (See chart.)

Above all, recognise the challenge. Prolonged stagnation, cultural upheavals and policy failures are combining to shake the balance between democratic legitimacy and global order. The candidacy of Mr Trump is a result. Those who reject the chauvinist response must come forward with imaginative and ambitious ideas aimed at re-establishing that balance. It is not going to be easy. But failure must not be accepted. Our civilisation itself is at stake.

martin.wolf@ft.com

More on this topic

[Jul 16, 2016] Paul Krugman Bull Market Blues

Economist's View

High stock prices are "not evidence of a healthy economy":

Bull Market Blues, by Paul Krugman, NY Times : Like most economists, I don't usually have much to say about stocks. Stocks ... have a lot less to do with the state of the economy or its future prospects than many people believe. ...
Still, we shouldn't completely ignore stock prices. The fact that the major averages have lately been hitting new highs ... is newsworthy and noteworthy. What are those Wall Street indexes telling us?
The answer, I'd suggest, isn't entirely positive..., in some ways the stock market's gains reflect economic weaknesses, not strengths. ...
We measure the economy's success by the extent to which it generates rising incomes for the population. But stocks ... only reflect the part of income that shows up as profits.
This wouldn't matter if the share of profits in overall income were stable; but it isn't. The share of profits ... has been a lot higher in recent years than it was during the great stock surge of the late 1990s ... making the relationship between profits and prosperity weak at best. ...
When investors buy stocks, they're buying a share of future profits. What that's worth to them depends on what other options they have for converting money today into income tomorrow. And these days those options are pretty poor... So investors are willing to pay a lot for future income, hence high stock prices for any given level of profits. ...
This may seem, however, to present a paradox. If the private sector doesn't see itself as having a lot of good investment opportunities, how can profits be so high? The answer, I'd suggest, is that these days profits often seem to bear little relationship to investment in new capacity. Instead, profits come from some kind of market power... And companies making profits from such power can simultaneously have high stock prices and little reason to spend.
Consider the fact that the three most valuable companies in America are Apple, Google and Microsoft. None of the three spends large sums on bricks and mortar. ...
In other words, while record stock prices do put the lie to claims that the Obama administration has been anti-business, they're not evidence of a healthy economy. If anything, they're a sign of an economy with too few opportunities for productive investment and too much monopoly power.
So when you read headlines about stock prices, remember: What's good for the Dow isn't necessarily good for America, or vice versa.
anne : , Friday, July 15, 2016 at 09:16 AM
http://cepr.net/blogs/beat-the-press/paul-krugman-s-stock-market-advice

July 15, 2016

Paul Krugman's Stock Market Advice

Paul Krugman actually did not make any predictions on the stock market, so those looking to get investment advice from everyone's favorite Nobel Prize winning economist will be disappointed. But he did make some interesting comments * on the market's new high. Some of these are on the mark, but some could use some further elaboration.

I'll start with what is right. First, Krugman points out that the market is horrible as a predictor of the future of the economy. The market was also at a record high in the fall of 2007. This was more than a full year after the housing bubble's peak. At the time, house prices were falling at a rate of more than 1 percent a month, eliminating more than $200 billion of homeowner's equity every month. Somehow the wizards of Wall Street did not realize this would cause problems for the economy. The idea that the Wall Street gang has some unique insight into the economy is more than a bit far-fetched.

The second point where Krugman is right on the money (yes, pun intended) is that the market is supposed to be giving us the value of future profits, not an assessment of the economy. This is the story if we think of the stock market acting in textbook form where all investors have perfect foresight. The news that the economy will boom over the next decade, but the profit share will plummet as workers get huge pay increases, would be expected to give us a plunging stock market. Conversely, weak growth coupled with a rising profit share should mean a rising market. Even in principle the stock market is not telling us about the future of the economy, it is telling us about the future of corporate profits.

Okay, now for a few points where Krugman's comments could use a bit deeper analysis. Krugman notes the rise in profit shares in recent years and argues that this is a large part of the story of the market's record high, along with extremely low interest rates. Actually, the profit story is a bit different than Krugman suggests.

The profit share had soared in the early days of the recovery. The before tax share of net corporate income went from a recession low of 16.9 percent of net income to 27.0 percent in the second quarter of 2014. The after-tax share peaked at 20.4 percent in the first quarter of 2012. However since then the profit share has trended downward. In the most recent quarter the before-tax profit share was 23.9 percent, while the after-tax share was 17.5 percent. This is most of the way back to the mid-1990s shares when before-tax profits were around 21.0 percent of net corporate income and after-tax shares were around 15.5 percent.

So, while profits had soared, the current market high cannot be explained by a soaring profit share. We are substantially below the peak shares from earlier in the recovery. One caution here is that the quarterly data are erratic and subject to large revisions. It is possible that this picture will look very different when the Commerce Department releases revised data later in the month.

The next issue is how we should think about a market high. If the stock market moves in step with corporate profits (i.e. the price to earnings ratio remains constant), and the profit share of GDP remains constant, then we should expect the stock market to continually reach new highs. In other words, market peaks are not like a new world record time in the mile, they are more like the tree in the backyard growing each year. They should not come as a surprise, nor be any cause for celebration.

The third point is that the stock market highs of the late 1990s were definitely not cause for celebration. The stock market was in a gigantic bubble. This was serious bad news for the economy and millions of 401(k) holders who saw their savings plummet in the crash of 2000-2002. (Yes, they should have sat tight, but a lot of people didn't realize this and it's not their job to be professional investors.) From the standpoint of the economy it was bad news because the crash led to a serious downturn in the labor market.

The strong wage growth of the late 1990s quickly dissipated as the labor market weakened. While the recession officially ended in December of 2001, we didn't begin to create jobs again until the fall of 2003. We didn't get back the jobs lost in the downturn until January of 2005. At the time, this was the longest period without net job growth since the Great Depression.

For what it's worth, the Clinton crew was clueless on the bubble. They wanted to put Social Security money in the stock market assuming that the real returns would average 7.0 percent annually. The actual average has been about half of this rate.

Finally, Krugman notes that the most highly valued companies in today's market are Apple, Google, and Microsoft. Krugman points out that none of these companies "spends large sums on bricks and mortar" and all three are sitting on large cash hoards.

Both points are well taken. Investment in plant and equipment has actually been falling in recent quarters. This would be fine if the decline was offset by a boom in research and development spending, but it hasn't been. Our great idea companies don't have many good ideas about what to do with all of their money.

But there is another point worth noting about the Big Three. All three are companies that depend to a large extent on government-granted monopolies in the form of patent and copyright protection. We have made these protections much stronger and longer over the last four decades through a variety of laws and trade agreements.

Of course the point of these protections is to give an incentive for innovation and creative work. But in a period where we are supposedly troubled by an upward redistribution from people who work for a living to people who "own" the technology, perhaps we should not be giving those people ever stronger claims to ownership of technology. (Yes, this involves the Trans-Pacific Partnership, among other policies.)

Anyhow, perhaps our leading economists will one day take note of this issue. It took a long time to notice that we had an $8 trillion housing bubble and that yes, it could be a problem. But let's hope our economists is learning.

* http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/15/opinion/bull-market-blues.html

-- Dean Baker

anne -> anne... , Friday, July 15, 2016 at 09:19 AM
http://www.multpl.com/shiller-pe/

Ten Year Cyclically Adjusted Price Earnings Ratio, 1881-2016

(Standard and Poors Composite Stock Index)

July 14, 2016 PE Ratio ( 26.92)

Annual Mean ( 16.68)
Annual Median ( 16.04)

-- Robert Shiller

anne -> anne... , Friday, July 15, 2016 at 09:20 AM
http://www.multpl.com/s-p-500-dividend-yield/

Dividend Yield, 1881-2016

(Standard and Poors Composite Stock Index)

July 14, 2016 Div Yield ( 2.03)

Annual Mean ( 4.39)
Annual Median ( 4.33)

-- Robert Shiller

RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> anne... , Friday, July 15, 2016 at 09:51 AM
THANKS! Dean's the best - as usual.
anne -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron... , Friday, July 15, 2016 at 04:16 PM
Dean Baker's response to Paul Krugman is excellent, and we might consider arguing the matter further along both lines with the need for increased domestic investment the focus.
anne -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron... , Friday, July 15, 2016 at 04:31 PM
https://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/graph/?g=4D9o

January 15, 2016

Shares of Gross Domestic Product for Private Fixed Nonresidential & Residential Investment Spending, Government Consumption & Gross Investment and Exports of Goods & Services, 2007-2016


https://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/graph/?g=4D9t

January 15, 2016

Shares of Gross Domestic Product for Private Fixed Nonresidential & Residential Investment Spending, Government Consumption & Gross Investment and Exports of Goods & Services, 2007-2016

(Indexed to 2007)

anne -> anne... , Friday, July 15, 2016 at 04:36 PM
The problem in fostering growth comes to either increasing nonresidential investment or government spending (hopefully for infrastructure formation). There is no reason to think exports will increase significantly given the relatively strong dollar and weak international growth and slower population growth should not allow for significant residential investment increases for some time.

Either nonresidential investment or government spending is the answer then.

sanjait -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron... , Friday, July 15, 2016 at 04:
Yeah, DB calls out Krugman for not mentioning monopoly rents right after Krugman explicitly mentions them, and the Bernista crowd trumpets how great Baker is.

*rolls eyes heavily*

JohnH -> anne... , Friday, July 15, 2016 at 11:27 AM
It's not just Apple, Google and Microsoft. The whole economy is increasingly dominated by monopolies and oligopolies who can raise prices irrespective of demand.

Think about phone companies (Verizon, AT&T), cable TV (Comcast, TimeWarner), Wall Street banks, soft drinks (Coke, Pepsi), consumer goods (Procter and Gamble, Unilever), airplanes (Boeing, Airbus), oil refineries, pharmaceuticals, etc. etc.

Krugman is right that "profits come from some kind of market power... And companies making profits from such power can simultaneously have high stock prices and little reason to spend."

For many of these companies, it is not about intellectual property monopoly. Rather, it is about lack of aggressive anti-trust enforcement over the last 30 years, the Obama years being about the worst on record.

pgl -> JohnH... , Friday, July 15, 2016 at 01:26 PM
Wow - liberal economist Paul Krugman got something right. As far as your last fact free claim, I'll leave this issue to those who actually know what they are talking about:


http://www.natlawreview.com/article/has-antitrust-enforcement-been-reinvigorated-under-obama

JohnH -> pgl... , Friday, July 15, 2016 at 02:09 PM
The article takes a circuitous route to show that Obama has been more aggressive than Bush was...hardly a resounding endorsement of Obama, given Bush's lax enforcement.

I stand corrected--Obama wasn't the worst...thanks only to Bush 43's dismal record.

pgl -> JohnH... , Friday, July 15, 2016 at 03:17 PM
Wow - a first for everything! You finally admit one of your fact free rants is not reality. Progress!
JohnH -> pgl... , Friday, July 15, 2016 at 04:05 PM
Classic 'lesser of two evils' thinking: Obama was not as bad as Bush, therefore Obama was great!

Kind of like declaring that Franklin Pierce was better that Millard Fillmore, both lousy presidents...or that Miller is better than Budweiser.

This is exactly the kind of logic you get from partisan hacks like pgl...a committed Obamabot and Wall Street Democrat.

anne -> anne... , Friday, July 15, 2016 at 01:06 PM
https://investor.vanguard.com/mutual-funds/list#/mutual-funds/asset-class/month-end-returns

July 15, 2016

The 3 month Treasury interest rate is at 0.27%, the 2 year Treasury rate is 0.70%, the 5 year rate is 1.14%, while the 10 year is 1.59%.

The Vanguard Aa rated short-term investment grade bond fund, with a maturity of 3.3 years and a duration of 2.6 years, has a yield of 1.57%. The Vanguard Aa rated intermediate-term investment grade bond fund, with a maturity of 6.4 years and a duration of 5.4 years, is yielding 2.29%. The Vanguard Aa rated long-term investment grade bond fund, with a maturity of 22.0 years and a duration of 13.2 years, is yielding 3.35%. *

The Vanguard Ba rated high yield corporate bond fund, with a maturity of 5.7 years and a duration of 4.5 years, is yielding 5.28%.

The Vanguard unrated convertible corporate bond fund, with an indefinite maturity and a duration of 5.4 years, is yielding 2.07%.

The Vanguard A rated high yield tax exempt bond fund, with a maturity of 17.0 years and a duration of 6.3 years, is yielding 2.13%.

The Vanguard Aa rated intermediate-term tax exempt bond fund, with a maturity of 8.7 years and a duration of 4.8 years, is yielding 1.22%.

The Vanguard Government National Mortgage Association bond fund, with a maturity of 5.7 years and a duration of 3.4 years, is yielding 1.89%.

The Vanguard inflation protected Treasury bond fund, with a maturity of 8.7 years and a duration of 8.2 years, is yielding - 0.26%.

* Vanguard yields are after cost. Federal Funds rates are no more than 0.50%.

sanjait -> anne... , Friday, July 15, 2016 at 04:41 PM
Nit picking Dean Baker, favorite of the disaffected Bernistas who still haven't forgiven Paul Krugman, sarcastically calls for Krugman to talk about monopolistic rents for the big three tech companies but doesn't seem to notice that Krugman explicitly mentioned monopolistic rents for the big three tech companies in his blog post.
anne -> sanjait... , Friday, July 15, 2016 at 04:47 PM
Nitpicking Dean Baker, favorite of the ----------- --------- ...

[ Creepy language is where I immediately stop reading... ]

anne : , Friday, July 15, 2016 at 01:22 PM
Possibly an aside, though I would argue this is related and is surely important:

There has long been a steady refrain from most Western economists that China is doomed. Lately the refrain has been that we will soon find Chinese growth if continuing still slowing dramatically. Today, it turns out that Chinese growth which was 6.7% on a yearly basis in the first quarter was 6.7% in the second quarter. For the New York Times and Wall Street Journal however...

anne -> anne... , Friday, July 15, 2016 at 01:22 PM
http://www.wsj.com/articles/massive-stimulus-keeps-china-gdp-steady-in-second-quarter-1468549521

July 15, 2016

China GDP Sends Troubling Signal on Economic Reform
Slower growth rate would have indicated country was tackling excess industrial production, rising corporate debt
By MARK MAGNIER - Wall Street Journal

BEIJING-China maintained its growth pace of 6.7% in the second quarter-a bad sign to those who were looking for indications of economic restructuring.

Economists say a slower growth rate in the second quarter over the first quarter's 6.7% pace would have sent a welcome signal that China was tackling excess industrial production, rising corporate debt and state-owned enterprise reform.

Instead, by ramping up government spending and opening the credit taps, Beijing is likely to fuel overcapacity and see private companies crowded out by risk-averse state banks and bloated state companies.

This comes despite repeated calls by Prime Minister Li Keqiang and other senior officials to foster innovation, entrepreneurship and structural reform in order to shift the economy from credit-fueled infrastructure to high-tech industry and services....

pgl -> anne... , Friday, July 15, 2016 at 01:28 PM
China is doomed? I don't think so. Talk to any multinational and China is the new future. Although they complain that the Chinese SAT is really tough on transfer pricing enforcement. Our tax authority should take lessons from their Chinese counterparts.
anne -> pgl... , Friday, July 15, 2016 at 01:36 PM
Talk to any multinational and China is the new future. Although they complain that the Chinese State Administration Of Taxation is really tough on transfer pricing enforcement....

[ Really interesting. ]

anne -> pgl... , Friday, July 15, 2016 at 03:06 PM
Talk to any multinational and China is the new future. Although they complain that the Chinese State Administration Of Taxation is really tough on transfer pricing enforcement....

[ Again, critical for China and just what Stephen Roach of Yale has noticed and several times argued when interviewed on Bloomberg. ]

anne -> anne... , Friday, July 15, 2016 at 01:30 PM
So Chinese growth less than 6.7% would mean China was nearing doom, while growth at 6.7% means China is doomed, because growth less than 6.7% would mean that even though China slowing growth means doom for China at least slowing growth would show that the advice to restructure the economy of so many Western economists was being listened to, but 6.7% growth shows China is not listening to the advice of so many Western economists and that means, well, you know...

I think I understand.

anne -> anne... , Friday, July 15, 2016 at 01:33 PM
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/16/business/international/china-gdp-growth-stimulus.html

July 15, 2016

As China's Economy Slows, Beijing's Growth Push Loses Punch
By NEIL GOUGH and OWEN GUO

High debt and a glut of unneeded factories are hindering the government's usual method of using spending and lending to create more activity.

sanjait -> anne... , Friday, July 15, 2016 at 04:52 PM
Chinese growth is 6.7% with massive and unsustainable government interventions, and potentially some book cooking.

Meanwhile, people like Anne self-righteously accuse anyone who points to China's poor econ fundamentals and trends as being Western Imperialists, or something.

But if you feel so confident, go ahead and invest your money in China. The opportunity cost is low, given low rates in the devloped world, and they would certainly welcome the cash influx.

JohnH : , Friday, July 15, 2016 at 01:33 PM
IOW the real interest rate (CPI now @ 1.0%) is negative for 3 month and two year treasuries, 0.14% for 5 years, .57% for 10 years. If you invest in anything longer, a saver runs the risk of losing your shirt if a) rates unexpectedly go up or b) inflation rises forcing interest rates up.

It seems that economists enamored with inflation are oblivious (willfully?) to the consequences of saddling peopling with as much poor yielding secure debt as possible. Sure it will cheapen the real value of government debt, their primary goal, but only by screwing savers.

Unfortunately, higher inflation will make a lot of long term lenders bankrupt (think mortgage companies) as interest rates on borrowing short term exceed the interest rates on mortgages, which are currently at historical lows. To make matters worse, mark-to-market accounting will decimate the value of their holdings.

IMO anyone who lends long term, institutions or individuals buying 30 year bonds, is completely nuts. Without long term lending to support economic growth, how can the economy possibly grow?

anne -> JohnH... , Friday, July 15, 2016 at 03:14 PM
Unfortunately, higher inflation will make a lot of long term lenders bankrupt (think mortgage companies) as interest rates on borrowing short term exceed the interest rates on mortgages, which are currently at historical lows. To make matters worse, mark-to-market accounting will decimate the value of their holdings....

[ The question to ask is how can and will a mortgage company such as a Wells Fargo handle an increase in long term interest rates. There is a reason Warren Buffett has Well as a key Berkshire Hathaway holding and has recently been buying more of the company. Wells will be fine, but how?

"How" is an important question. ]

pgl -> JohnH... , Friday, July 15, 2016 at 03:19 PM
"t seems that economists enamored with inflation are oblivious"

More dishonest intellectual garbage. Economist are not for high inflation. We are for full employment. OK, OK - we know you are against full employment but hey!

JohnH -> pgl... , Friday, July 15, 2016 at 03:53 PM
Oh, puleez! If 'liberal' economists were for full employment, they would obsess about the Fed's employment target. But they don't...they obsess about not enough inflation, witout being very fussy about how to get more of it.

Do 'liberal' economists have such difficulty with the English language that they constantly substitute the word ' inflation' for 'employment?' Reading economic papers or Yellen's statements, one might think so. it's easy to see how much they struggle expressing their ideas. But constantly substituting 'inflation' for 'employment' is a bit over the top, even for tongue tied economists.

sanjait -> JohnH... , Friday, July 15, 2016 at 04:49 PM
Raising rates creates jobs ... if it were opposite day.
sanjait : , Friday, July 15, 2016 at 04:47 PM
Technical but important point: it's not the *current* profit share that matters for stock prices but rather the way current share reflects on expectations of the future that really matter.

So while Dean Baker, in his quest to nit pick everything Paul Krugman says in order to bring cheer to butt hurt Sandernistas everywhere (Who still haven't forgiven PK for daring to criticize their Beloved), does correctly note that profit share has declined, he fails to realize that a cyclical factor moving cyclically doesn't mean expectations of future profit share haven't also risen.

kaleberg : , -1
The real weakness in investment is the lack of wage growth which has limited consumer demand. Flat, or even shrinking, consumer demand means flat or shrinking demand for investment. When there is nothing to invest in, your best bet is the stock market.

[Jul 16, 2016] Stats Watch

Notable quotes:
"... Game Players of Titan ..."
www.nakedcapitalism.com

naked capitalism

Stats Watch

Industrial Production, June 2016: "Vehicles held down industrial production in May but not in June, making for a big 0.6 percent gain that is just outside Econoday's high-end estimate" [ Econoday ]. "Looking at details deeper in the report, the output of business equipment rose a solid 0.7 percent but the year-on-year rate, in what is definitive evidence of weakness in business investment, is in the negative column at minus 0.6 percent. The output of consumer goods, up 1.6 percent on the year, rose 1.1 percent in the month in what is another good showing in this report." However: "The headlines say seasonally adjusted Industrial Production (IP) improved. The year-over-year data remains in contraction but the trend lines are now pointing towards improvement" [ Econintersect ]. "Economic downturns have been signaled by only watching the manufacturing portion of Industrial Production. Historically manufacturing year-over-year growth has been negative when a recession is imminent. This index is nearing the warning area for a recession."

Empire State Mfg Survey, July 2016: "The first anecdotal report on the factory sector for the month of July is not very promising as the Empire State index barely held in the plus column" [ Econoday ]

Business Inventories, May 2016: " Businesses are keeping their inventories in check amid slow sales. Inventories rose only 0.2 percent in May following April's even leaner 0.1 percent rise. Sales in May also rose 0.2 percent keeping the inventory-to-sales ratio unchanged at 1.40, which is a little less lean than this time last year when the ratio was at 1.37″ [ Econoday ]. "Retail inventories did rise an outsized 0.5 percent in May in a build, however, that looks to be drawn down by what proved to be very strong retail sales in June. Manufacturing inventories fell 0.1 percent in May with wholesalers up 0.1 percent." But: "Econintersect's analysis of final business sales data (retail plus wholesale plus manufacturing) shows unadjusted sales improved compared to the previous month – but due to backward revisions the rolling averages declined. Inventory growth was moderate. The inventory-to-sales ratios remain at recessionary levels" [ Econintersect ].

Retail Sales, June 2016: "June proved a fabulous month for the consumer though May, after revisions, proved only so so." Above consensus [ Econoday ]. "Ex-auto ex-gas offers a gauge on underlying trends in consumer spending, a dominant one of which is ecommerce as nonstore retailers popped a 1.1 percent surge in the month which follows even stronger gains in prior months. Department stores, up 0.9 percent, show a big comeback in the month with sporting goods & hobbies strong for a second month. An outsized gain, one that hints at adjustment issues and the risk of a downward revision, is a 3.9 percent surge in building materials & garden equipment, a component that had been lagging…. This report is a major plus for the second-half economic outlook not to mention coming data on the second quarter (sales for April, after the second revision, are at a standout plus 1.2 percent). The job market is healthy and the consumer is alive and spending." A little cold water: "Retail sales improved according to US Census headline data. Our view of this month's data is similar but there was a decline in the rolling averages – and downward revision to last month's data" [ Econintersect ]. This Maine bear sunk more money into shelter and did a lot of gardening. I hate to think I'm an ideal type.

Consumer Price Index, June 2016: "Price pressures evident the last two months down the supply chain are not yet appearing in consumer prices" [ Econoday ]. Caveat: "[I]nflation does not correlate well to the economy – and cannot be used as a economic indicator" [ Econintersect ].

Consumer Sentiment: "In perhaps an early indication of a U.S. Brexit effect, the consumer sentiment flash for July is down a sharp 4.0 points to 89.5. Weakness is centered in the expectations component which fell 5.3 points to 77.1 for one of the very weakest readings of the last two years. Weakness in expectations ultimately points to doubts over the jobs outlook" [ Econoday ]. But: ""Prior to the Brexit vote, virtually no consumer thought the issue would have the slightest impact on the U.S. economy. Following the Brexit vote, it was mentioned by record numbers of consumers, especially high income consumers," [Richard Curtin, the survey of consumers chief economist] said."

Shipping: "[T]he National Retail Federation is forecasting only a modest pickup at U.S. ports, with container volume that would hardly amount to a peak at all" [ Wall Street Journal ].

Shipping: "Transportation-sector analysts believe that rail volumes, which have declined over the past year, may be bottoming out. Things are looking brighter for the second half of the year, as natural gas and oil prices recover, driving more energy-related shipments. Seasonal grain exports should also provide a boost" [ Wall Street Journal , "Has U.S. Rail Traffic Found Its Rebound?"].

Supply Chain: "By creating a permanent record that can't be altered, blockchain is well-suited for tracking diamonds and other goods where buyers want to know the origins and previous owners, said Bill Fearnley Jr., a research director at International Data Corp" [ Wall Street Journal ].

Shipping: "UPS and FedEx expand pharmaceutical shipping channels to global market" [ DC Velocity ]. Seems to be optimized for clinical trials and testing, however. "The international drug market is swelling rapidly to accommodate the 20 to 30 million new Americans who have recently become insured under the Affordable Care Act and, more broadly, the "silvering" of an aging global population with growing medical needs." Because I don't get how the ACA spurs demands for international pharma shipments to patients.

Housing: "Big Wall Street investors stopped buying real estate in large quantities back in late 2014. In many cases big investors had front row seats at banks and were able to buy in bulk and for incredibly low prices not offered to the public. This crowding out of course has caused two major things to unfold: inventory to dwindle and a push up in prices for regular families looking to buy. For the first time in history many things happened in the housing market including nationally falling prices but also a large interest from Wall Street in single family homes. Now with prices near previous peak levels many of these large investors are making the full exit by offering to sell the homes to current tenants, for of course a modest increase. Those bailouts that were geared to helping the public actually created a system that has slammed the homeownership rate lower and has now jacked home prices up once again. Large investors are now making their final play by cashing out" [ Dr Housing Bubble ]. I'd want Yve's views on this, but selling to the little guy at the peak of the market sure looks like a PE scam to me. Readers, do any of you have direct experience with this?

Helicopter Money: "Monetary financing of public sector spending isn't a giant leap from where Japan is today – it could get there in a series of small steps. It would be more a case of 'drone money' than 'helicopter money' if the BOJ were to go from buying longer and longer-dated debt with lower and lower coupons to something indistinguishable from zero-coupon perpetuals. But away from such idle speculation, with monetary and fiscal policy working hand-in-hand to drive inflation expectations up, and to drive investors out of domestic assets, there's room for the yen to weaken (quite a lot) further; all the more so as the US economy stabilises" [SocGen, Across the Curve ]. You can borrow money for free and there's no government infrastructure program. Speaking of cashing out, is that what the elites are doing globally? Not that I'm foily. The best science fiction novel with autonomous vehicles that I can recall is Philip K. Dick's Game Players of Titan , and that was a depopulated world…

The Bezzle: "[F]or Google, the ultimate outcome does not look bright. A new EU competition chief is overseeing this barrage of cases, as European corporate giants line up against the Silicon Valley behemoth. Meanwhile, as Google relies more on artificial intelligence to automate a range of tasks that run its services behind the scenes, it could face a whole new round of conflict with Europe. In the end, Google in Europe could wind up as a very different thing than Google at home" [ Wired ].

The Bezzle: "BP announced on Thursday it believes the final pre-tax cost of its Deepwater Horizon spill will be $61.6bn or $44bn after tax" [ Splash247 ]. But no jail time for executives, since they have elite impunity, say for ecocide. I say let's look forward and not back.

Political Risk: "[S]hipping companies fear the [Hague Tribunal's] ruling [on the "Nine-Dash Line"] could embolden the Philippines and other smaller nations to assert their rights to the waters more aggressively and that any conflict would disrupt ship-borne trade in the waters between Hong Kong and Indonesia. Thousands of ships transit those waters daily, and a third of the world's liquefied natural gas passes through the Straits of Malacca to the South China Sea" [ Wall Street Journal ]. " Even if shipping isn't disrupted, companies say they face higher costs if the standoff escalates since insurance companies are likely to drive up rates."

[Jul 03, 2016] Men Exiting Workforce as Low-Wage Jobs Vanish

Notable quotes:
"... The report dismisses the myths that access to Social Security disability or that men are not choosing to work as culprits. More than a third were in poverty. Fewer that 25% of the men not working have a spouse supporting them and that percentage has dropped in the last 50 years. The CEA's analysis find that Social Security disability explains at most 0.5% of the reduction. ..."
"... Similarly, the problem with European-style job training programs is that US employers do not want to hire people with general training, even in a particular skill area. Their strong preference is to hire someone who is doing the exact same job for a similar company, so as to minimize their effort (in theory; in practice, the extra time spent on the search probably offsets the theoretical savings). The cure for that is a much more robust job market, where employers realize they are not going to find the perfect candidate and take someone approximate and give them the training and other guidance they need to become productive. ..."
"... Friends of mine visited Germany last year, noticed that for curb, pothole repair where in the US you see 2-3 guys and a bunch of equipment, there he would see 8 guys with shovels and little to no equipment. ..."
"... Yes, when I was working at UT-Austin, they cut the janitorial staff so that offices were only vacuumed once a month. ..."
"... The reality of what is happening is on the economic/political level. It involves a small number of people, living in a rich, opulent high tower, who for years acted and enacted without the slightest bit of empathy or selflessness. These same people have literally no depth to their thought and are ruled by the very gluttony/ego so valued in todays consumerist society. This type used to live in Rome during Diocletian's rule, in Egypt during the Hyskos invasion, in the Mayan Empire during the Postclassic period, etc ad infinitum. The overall picture has repeated itself, as an empire is a microcosm of any living organism; it gets old and becomes very susceptible to change, that is, the ruling class become so removed from reality that their decision making begins to deviate further and further from the actuality of the current situation. The Housing Crisis is a prime example. The banks saw fit to literally scam their own customers with no government intervention! Twice! This type of thinking quickly affects the entire nation. People begin to see a futility in living morally and truthfully, and start to wonder if the entire system is a scam. ..."
"... I've visited enough towns in the Mid West where everyone is on some pharmaceutical, usually Percocet or valium, yet have no money for a proper house with heating and cooling. ..."
"... So entire industries now eschew people older than 30 in favor of being staffed entirely by 20 something's. This will surely end well. ..."
"... They are bring these workers from India where starting IT salaries are $10,000/year. Check early in the morning and late at night and you will see the buses delivering the workers who lived crammed in surrounding apartments. One told me his Indian outsourcers had eight of them living in a two-bedroom apartment with one bathroom - while working 80-100 hours per week. They are threatened with deportation if they complain, and in some cases, their families back home are physically threatened. ..."
"... granting automatic work authorization to all H-1B spouses. ..."
"... expanding Bush's "Optional Practical Training" now allowing stem graduates to work for three years ..."
"... lowered qualifying requirements for L-1B visas. L-1b visas allow corporations to import their foreign employee to work in the US at the home nation salaries. And has lead to widespread abuse such as foreign employees being paid $1.73/hour. ..."
"... modified the B-1 visa, used attended training and meetings, to incorporate the "B-1 in lieu of H-1B" which now allows some foreign workers to work in the US on the B-1 visa ..."
"... There are now well over a million foreign guest workers in the US and the numbers are growing. Curiously (ha ha!), DHS does not even keep count of the above admissions. ..."
"... Wow, didn't know they expanded the student work permission to three years. Used to be one year. Essentially if you go to college here you have bought yourself a ticket to live in America and take a job from an American. ..."
"... I was replaced by a 20-something. Actually, at my last job (3 years ago) both the older employees, myself and another employee, were replaced. One employee who had worked there for 15 years and was 60, so TWO years away from retirement, was let go. (I hope he sued the pants off that horrible firm!) ..."
"... Yes indeed, there's a reason big business doesn't want medicare for all – it would result in the ultimate 'flexible workforce'. Workers immediately bailing out of every shit show employment situation they manage to fall into at the drop of the hat with no COBRA or insurance dead zones. But on the other side of the coin, it would ramp up the Uber jitney economy of on-demand disposable workers lined up holding signs displaying their skill sets for a day's pay at the highway on-ramps at 6:30 AM (or, as the neo-liberal mindset would frame it – the entrepreneurs). ..."
"... Thats pretty much how the movie/tv industry operates in Hollywood. ..."
"... History of Work Comp as I remember it - speaking of how "the company" counts its beans: Johns Manville had a problem with people getting slowly sicker on the job (handling asbestos) starting late in the 1800s paid doctors to do studies that proved the asbestos-asbestosis-mesothelioma connection, and gave some rates of worsening of the diseases and hence points at which workers could no longer work. The researchers and doctors were paid for and threatened into silence on the findings, and required to ignore their Hippocratic obligations. Workers had to go to company doctors, who would nurse them along until they were fired for inability. ..."
"... All labor reform policies put forth by Republicans and their policy activation arm (Dems) have been to make life easier and richer for CEO's, not to help workers. So now economists are surprised by the results? What a useful profession they are. ..."
"... The 40 hour work week was established under Roosevelt. If you wish to reverse or stave off the declining Participation Rate, then decrease the required number of hours work to 32. We have agreed before that Labor is the lowest cost when compared to Overhead or Materials. In the end, the difference in cost would be made up by higher productivity. ..."
June 21, 2016 | nakedcapitalism.com

A new Council of Economic Advisers study released by the White House on the fall in labor force participation among men of prime working age (25 to 54) should be subtitled, "It's the Neoliberal Economy, Stupid."

The report does a useful job in documenting where the level and nature of the decline in male workforce participation, which peaked at 98% in 1954 and is now at 88%, the third lowest among OECD countries. The decline is concentrated among less educated:

Screen shot 2016-06-21 at 4.20.59 AM

Blacks have been hit harder than other groups:

Screen shot 2016-06-21 at 4.22.31 AM

And the general outlook for employment has been deteriorating over time. However, bear in mind that this decay somewhat overlaps with the story that less educated groups have been harder hit. US educational attainment has fallen over time.

Screen shot 2016-06-21 at 4.09.30 AM

The report dismisses the myths that access to Social Security disability or that men are not choosing to work as culprits. More than a third were in poverty. Fewer that 25% of the men not working have a spouse supporting them and that percentage has dropped in the last 50 years. The CEA's analysis find that Social Security disability explains at most 0.5% of the reduction.

The cause is the state of the job market:

• Participation has fallen particularly steeply for less-educated men at the same time as their wages have dropped relative to more-educated men, consistent with a decline in demand.

o In recent decades, less-educated Americans have suffered a reduction in their wages relative to other groups. From 1975 until 2014, relative wages for those with a high school degree fell from over 80 percent of the amount earned by workers with at least a college degree to less than 60 percent

While doing a fine job dimensioning profile of the groups that have been hit the worst, the authors, after invoking hoary neoliberal defenses, as in these workers are the losers in a globalized market, the paper gives a coded acknowledgment that policies that are hostile to workers have produced the expected result:

This reduction in demand, as reflected in lower wages, could reflect the broader evolution of technology, automation, and globalization in the U.S. economy.

Conventional economic theory posits that more "flexible" labor markets-where it is easier to hire and fire workers-facilitate matches between employers and individuals who want to work. Yet despite having among the most flexible labor markets in the OECD-with low levels of labor market regulation and employment protections, a low minimum cost of labor, and low rates of collective bargaining coverage-the United States has one of the lowest prime-age male labor force participation rates of OECD member countries.

It is remarkably cheeky to see the authors attempt to depict "flexible" labor markets, where workers can be tossed on the trash heap, as beneficial to laborers.

The recommendations are tepid, and the authors assert "A number of policies proposed by the Administration would help to boost prime-age male labor force participation." In other words, we are to believe the problem is those Republican meanies in Congress, as opposed to Obama not pushing hard for these measures in his first term, when he had the opportunity to pass wide-ranging reforms.

One proposal is the new conventional wisdom of more infrastructure spending to create more jobs for unskilled workers directly, improving community colleges and other training so workers will have skills that line up with hot job markets. The problem with the latter idea is that demand can shift quickly (look at how the oil patch was robust a few years back and is now just starting to get back on its feet). Moreover, employers are extremely prejudiced against both older people and people who've been out of the workforce, and the age which is deemed to be "older" has collapsed. Per Wolf Richter (emphasis original):

Now I've come across a fascinating piece on MarketWatch, an article on what to do to get into the cross hairs of a recruiter whose algos are combing through millions of profiles on LinkedIn.

No recruiter in his right might is personally clicking through LinkedIn profiles. They're all scanned by algos by the millions in nanoseconds. And so the trick is structuring your profile to get the algos to pay attention. This isn't a human-to-human scenario, but a human-to-algo scenario. You're trying to second-guess an algo that's going to decide your future….

But apparently the lifespan of a degree has been shortened from 20 or 25 years to just 10 years! Then it rots, and it has to be swept under the rug. The article put it this way (emphasis added):

Older job-seekers….

I mean, I'm already seething.

Older job-seekers need to walk a fine line. Unless you made the cover of "Time" or discovered a solar galaxy, experience has a shelf life on LinkedIn, says Scott Dobroski, career trends analyst at Glassdoor. There's no need to wax lyrical about a job that's more than 10 years old, he says. And those who g raduated from college a decade ago may want to exclude the date they graduated. "Your college graduation date will age you," he says, "and although ageism is illegal, it's happening all the time." On the other hand, if you're applying for a job as CEO of a Fortune 500 company and you graduated in 1986, it's okay to leave the date, Dobroski says.

Note the word "older job seekers" in connection with a college degree from 10 years ago. Those older job seekers are early Millennials!

Yves here. Admittedly, candidates on LinkedIn are more educated than the group this study is most concerned about, but consider the message: even among the educated, the shelf life of a degree has diminished greatly due to ageism. Why would it be less bad among the less well educated?

Similarly, the problem with European-style job training programs is that US employers do not want to hire people with general training, even in a particular skill area. Their strong preference is to hire someone who is doing the exact same job for a similar company, so as to minimize their effort (in theory; in practice, the extra time spent on the search probably offsets the theoretical savings). The cure for that is a much more robust job market, where employers realize they are not going to find the perfect candidate and take someone approximate and give them the training and other guidance they need to become productive.

And finally, the report claims that Obama has been pumping for one of the most needed remedies:

Increasing wages for workers by raising the minimum wage, supporting collective bargaining, and ensuring that workers have a strong voice in the labor market.

Help me.

So I'm at a loss to understand the political purpose of this report. It's useless as a policy driver given that this is an election year when Obama is a lame duck. Perhaps it is a weak effort at legacy-bolstering by showing that even though the decline in labor force participation among men was marked in the Obama Administration, it started long before he took office. But it still ignores some elephants in the room, like the fact that employers stopped sharing the benefits of productivity gains with workers starting in the mid-1970s and lack of sufficient demand in the economy. What it does reveal is one of the many time-bombs that Obama has left for the next President.

Marco , June 21, 2016 at 7:27 am

Time to start blaming those darn "stay-at-home" dads!! (PEW via CalculatedRisk) How much more evidence will it take for orthodox economists to stop manufacturing silly excuses for a crappy job market.

Benedict@Large , June 21, 2016 at 8:52 am

Economists since the 1970s have been primarily involved with explaining away unemployment; that is, saying it doesn't exist. This is because their theory of inflation (printing money = inflation) breaks the rules of elementary algebra if unemployment does exist. To normal people (non-economists) confronted with such a situation, the theory would quickly be abandoned as nonsense, but to economists this is not an option, because this theory also says that big government is bad, a truism that in the economics profession needs no explanation.

So you see, Marco, there is no crappy jobs market because there's no such thing as unemployment. Ask any economist. They'll tell you.

Simon , June 22, 2016 at 9:08 am

Here are some nice nuggets from the CEA study on the stay-at-home dad myth:

"Participation rates have fallen for both parents and nonparents alike, but prime-age males without children saw a larger decline of 9.4 percentage points since 1968 compared to 4.9 percentage points among prime-age males with children. This suggests that men dropping out of the labor force to be stay-at-home fathers is likely not an important factor in the overall decline; moreover, only around a quarter of prime-age men who are not in the labor force are parents (down from around 40 percent in 1968)."

and

"Based on [American Time Use Survey] data, there is little evidence that men are staying home to care for children or to do house work. "

Of course, I am preaching to the choir here!

ambrit , June 21, 2016 at 7:34 am

"Blame the victim."

av av , June 21, 2016 at 10:20 am

Blame technology. Low skilled workers are easiest to replace. Example, you used to have people sweeping and washing floors in shopping centers or subway stations.
Now you have one person on a sweeper or washer.

Pat , June 21, 2016 at 11:50 am

And how well is that working out? I'm serious. Perhaps they need a couple of more people ALONG with the washers and sweepers. Sorry to use Disney, but part of the reason the parks are pristine is because they have a whole lot of people going along picking up the trash and sweeping up.

It is not just technology, it is a management that doesn't understand how much labor they really need and ignore the signs they do not have enough, because then their numbers might be down. And this is even when their numbers are already down.

jsn , June 21, 2016 at 3:06 pm

It's really about how the priorities are set and by whom.

In a sane society, the issuer of the currency would pay people to do things people like to do or benefit from doing themselves and pay for equipment/robots to do things people don't like.

We live a long way from there.

collins , June 21, 2016 at 4:26 pm

Friends of mine visited Germany last year, noticed that for curb, pothole repair where in the US you see 2-3 guys and a bunch of equipment, there he would see 8 guys with shovels and little to no equipment.

SpringTexan , June 21, 2016 at 4:27 pm

Yes, when I was working at UT-Austin, they cut the janitorial staff so that offices were only vacuumed once a month.

There is work to do. But not willingness to have people do it.

Steve Gunderson , June 21, 2016 at 5:08 pm

Maybe teaching people to pickup after themselves should be a Freshman level course?

Michael , June 21, 2016 at 8:19 pm

Carpets need to be vacuumed.

inhibi , June 22, 2016 at 4:26 pm

It is not as simple as "technology". I often find that those who say lines like "robots are going to take away all the jobs!" are those without actual degrees in those subjects. Technology simply moves the plane of thought, processing, manufacturing, etc to the next level. The invention of the computer spawned an entire multi-TRILLION dollar industry with millions of jobs. Robotics will be/is the same.

The reality of what is happening is on the economic/political level. It involves a small number of people, living in a rich, opulent high tower, who for years acted and enacted without the slightest bit of empathy or selflessness. These same people have literally no depth to their thought and are ruled by the very gluttony/ego so valued in todays consumerist society. This type used to live in Rome during Diocletian's rule, in Egypt during the Hyskos invasion, in the Mayan Empire during the Postclassic period, etc ad infinitum. The overall picture has repeated itself, as an empire is a microcosm of any living organism; it gets old and becomes very susceptible to change, that is, the ruling class become so removed from reality that their decision making begins to deviate further and further from the actuality of the current situation. The Housing Crisis is a prime example. The banks saw fit to literally scam their own customers with no government intervention! Twice! This type of thinking quickly affects the entire nation. People begin to see a futility in living morally and truthfully, and start to wonder if the entire system is a scam.

Now imagine the modern US economy as a sinking ship. The top level execs, elites, are busy pillaging as much as they can, because they all see that US supremacy isn't going to last. Manufacturing all moved to China, now Mexico, retail is dead in the water, the US consumer is getting weaker and weaker. Only healthcare is staying afloat, due more to political reasons than anything else.

The easiest and most common method to increase your salary as a corporate exec is to get rid of overhead: sell off portions of the business, layoffs, etc. They are all doing it regularly with no impunity. US manufacturing is all but GONE. Its all been sold to PE firms that install a puppet as the CEO, who then begins the extraction process of selling off parts of the business, instating capital controls, and layoffs. Now it moved to retail. Eventually, America will be a literal husk. Every place will just have the same options of a few fast food and retail chains. The entire Midwest is already there, hence "Rust Belt". The only places that will be spared in America will be the bubble of wealth concentrated on the coasts, but even these will begin to whither as wealth starts to move to other, happier countries.

So in this milieu, put yourself in the place of a average HS educated American. You have two options for your career: work your ass off and make next to nothing, or go to college and graduate a debt-slave, also making next to nothing. However, a third option presents itself, complements of the Welfare State: collect unemployment and have all the free time in the world. Then imagine what you see and hear everyday. Banks illegally foreclosing on homes, executives getting away with fraud in the hundreds of millions, a militarized police, potent pharmaceuticals given away like candy, a plant that causes mild decrease in heart pressure illegalized, politicians lying again and again, the wealthy talking on TV about how "easy" it is to open a business and selling books about it, etc. It all concentrates down to the worst of all emotions: depression, self-loathing, and envy.

The depression comes from the hopelessness of most American's situation: poorly educated with no future career, not even a path to take which will ensure a brighter future. The self-loathing comes from the media, as most people get an HOURLY reminder of how shitty they look, how poor they are. Even shows like Shameless don't touch on the reality of being poor in America. It isn't a day to day struggle to pay bills. Its a day to day struggle to even feel worth something. To feel part of society.

Then there's envy. You feel envious of the wealth, the attractiveness of others you see in the media, which you misplace as being the vast majority of people in America because you see them everyday and everywhere: online, on billboards, in movies, commercials, etc. You begin to feel like SOMETHING should be given to you. The Government, fearing rebellion, realized this during the last Great Depression when they began to expand the Welfare State. Welfare is a form of suppression. It keeps people on the lowest rung just happy enough to forget about rebelling. Big Pharma is a BIG factor in this as well. I've visited enough towns in the Mid West where everyone is on some pharmaceutical, usually Percocet or valium, yet have no money for a proper house with heating and cooling.

So in summary, the extraction of wealth by the upper class, (through "global" trade agreements, stock market manipulation, tax evasion, offshoring, etc) along with lax regulation & prosecution by the political body (they are very much one and the same these days) caused immense physical (monetary) and mental depression/suppression of the masses, which are steadily moving toward Welfare as it becomes the only of options with a glimmer of stability & free time.

FedUpPleb , June 21, 2016 at 8:10 am

So entire industries now eschew people older than 30 in favor of being staffed entirely by 20 something's. This will surely end well.

Arizona Slim , June 21, 2016 at 8:55 am

I would like to see where all of these highly skilled and motivated 20-somethings are coming from. Because I am not seeing them around here.

NoGig , June 21, 2016 at 11:06 am

They are bring these workers from India where starting IT salaries are $10,000/year. Check early in the morning and late at night and you will see the buses delivering the workers who lived crammed in surrounding apartments. One told me his Indian outsourcers had eight of them living in a two-bedroom apartment with one bathroom - while working 80-100 hours per week. They are threatened with deportation if they complain, and in some cases, their families back home are physically threatened.

With the defeat of H-1B expansion, Obama has now vastly increased foreign guest workers through executive actions that include:

  1. granting automatic work authorization to all H-1B spouses.
  2. expanding Bush's "Optional Practical Training" now allowing stem graduates to work for three years in the US on a student visa. The OPT has no caps, little labor protections, and no salary requirement.
  3. lowered qualifying requirements for L-1B visas. L-1b visas allow corporations to import their foreign employee to work in the US at the home nation salaries. And has lead to widespread abuse such as foreign employees being paid $1.73/hour.
  4. modified the B-1 visa, used attended training and meetings, to incorporate the "B-1 in lieu of H-1B" which now allows some foreign workers to work in the US on the B-1 visa

There are now well over a million foreign guest workers in the US and the numbers are growing. Curiously (ha ha!), DHS does not even keep count of the above admissions.

America, this is not YOUR government.

John , June 21, 2016 at 11:00 pm

Wow, didn't know they expanded the student work permission to three years. Used to be one year. Essentially if you go to college here you have bought yourself a ticket
to live in America and take a job from an American.

perpetualWAR , June 21, 2016 at 11:25 am

I was replaced by a 20-something. Actually, at my last job (3 years ago) both the older employees, myself and another employee, were replaced. One employee who had worked there for 15 years and was 60, so TWO years away from retirement, was let go. (I hope he sued the pants off that horrible firm!)

weinerdog43 , June 21, 2016 at 11:51 am

Oh, they're all out beating down the door over in Philadelphia to work as substitute teachers for $75 per day. Just google 'substitute teacher shortage' and you'll see plenty of job opportunities.

snark

inhibi , June 22, 2016 at 4:36 pm

Its called "turnover" and companies use it nowadays to suppress wages. Why pay a 30 yr old 85K when you can pay a 20 yr old 50k?

Most of the work is simple anyways, unless you work in the STEM field. And unfortunately, in the STEM field, the largest industry (software) takes this approach to the next level.

flora , June 21, 2016 at 8:14 am

Great post. Thanks.

mark , June 21, 2016 at 9:08 am

Yes it is.

"supporting collective bargaining"

Guffaw.

fresno dan , June 21, 2016 at 8:17 am

Incentives matter – if the end all and be all is GDP, you get GDP. TPP is an "industrial" policy, or more accurately a re-distribution policy – yeah – re-distribution – the fact that it is re-distribution from the poorer to the richer is a novel use of the concept, but we should never under estimate the cleverness of Davos man.

The fact that it is espoused by those who incessantly yammer about how government policy should be "neutral" exposes that these people are just making the rules for their own benefit. The fact that so many laws ("reforms") must be instituted to advance this agenda just exposes the intellectual dishonesty. Or would they have us believe that the advent of neoliberalism and the increase in inequality is just a happy (sarc) coincidence? The idea that this is some unstoppable force of nature just wants to make me puke.

If you think that work matters, that participation in society is important, and that a nation is more than airbnb beds for Davos man conference attendees, you can have policies that punish outsourcing, decide that limiting H4B workers increases demand for workers here with commensurate increases in wages. There are a zillion ways the tax code as well as other laws are inimical to US workers. It STARTS with the idea that paying labor more does NOT harm society….

These policies are not a function of physics or of God's will – they are made by men at the behest of the few to reward the few. It can be changed if we choose to change it – although I fear we are rapidly reaching a point, and may have already reached it, where we are a defacto plutocracy and any "reform" is mere window dressing.

Linda , June 21, 2016 at 8:41 am

I agree with you wholeheartedly. We are on a straight path to plutocracy and I too fear we have already passed the point of no return. I hear (read) daily the awful word, redistribution; always in the context of taking a small amount away from the rich and powerful to give to those not as fortunate; but never in the context of what is actually happening on a grand scale; the taking from the lower classes and giving it to the upper 1% and above. When will it stop? I don't know; I do know that unless we continue to try and make the masses actually understand what is happening to them and to get them off their apathetic arses and involved in the political process, thereby voting out of office the scrads of politicians devoted to and enamored of neoliberalism, we will continue down this prophetic road of self destruction. It is our choice. It will be hard. It may, in fact, already be too late. But, we have to try. We have to keep working; working to explain the awful policies of neoliberalism.

templar555510 , June 21, 2016 at 9:20 am

Agreed. So what MUST the demand be ? Let the capitalist go after FULL AUTOMATION and balance that with UNIVERSAL BASIC INCOME . Everything to do with money can be defined as a balance sheet so this should be the balance sheet for the 21st Century . The demand should come from all . And it's coming. I know the Swiss just rejected it , but the fact that they just called a referendum to decide it ( for now ) tells us it's there in the ether and the Swiss are not alone ; the Dutch, the Finns are all working on this . It's the genuine great leap forward.

tegnost , June 21, 2016 at 9:52 am

sorry but basic income guarantee is simply creating demand for the plutocrats, and is exactly why food stamps are in the agriculture budget. This is why the 13,000/yr BIG floated a week or two ago already, at it's inception, takes 3,000 and puts it towards medical care-oops, i mean insurance- you won't get care unless you pay extra, don't kid yourself. And this gravy train will have as many cars attached to it as it can carry, how much will your BIG be in the form of food stamps? rent subsidy? by the time it's implemented the person at the root of the issue won't get a thin dime, but the cronies will have a basic income guarantee, the true purpose of this terrible idea, I and others like me want things to do, not a snap card (more likely digital wallet brought generously to you by apple and jp morgan, which of course will charge a fee, and conveniently keep track of where you are at all times) that allows me to buy gmo food (yes, there will be foods that are for the poor and foods for the rich, want organic? what's your net worth?) The silicon valley parlors where these moronic ideas are hatched are filled with people who are trying to cement their presence in the upper class which is funny on the meritocrat side because many of my tech friends didn't go to college, they were good at video games and now it's robots robots robots because that's their gravy train and the BIG is their lame ass apology, while getting some demand into the economy to pay for their craptastic junk toys.

TheCatSaid , June 21, 2016 at 11:59 am

Great observations about BIG. I never thought of it that way, and you make it very obvious. Thank you.

lightningclap , June 21, 2016 at 1:21 pm

++ I have long been in favor of BIG but you point to the obvious strings that would be attached if formulated by our Valley "disruptors".

jrs , June 21, 2016 at 4:03 pm

then instead provide the basics of life to people, like healthcare and shelter, rather than money? That completely solves that problem doesn't it?

samhill , June 21, 2016 at 8:10 pm

Excellent, my vote post of the week. The best answer is to pay people to actually work, the work would be to pay them to undo the damage of the last 300 years of industrial revolution. We had created a large middle middle class and secure working class destroying the planet, we can create the same wealth cleaning it up. Instill hope on a dying planet, and for the first time in its history give humanity a reason to get up in the morning other than just exploiting each other in a rat race.

Norb , June 22, 2016 at 2:35 am

One way of looking at how a BIG can be manipulated by owners is considering slavery. It seems we are entering a new phase in the never ending capitalist struggle to secure cheep labor. Cheep labor and resources are the driving force of the current system. The logical end result is to have a self-sustaining labor force. One that makes just enough to survive and work- with little room for anything else. That is where we are headed.

Advancing technology and the desire to shed costs related to slave upkeep can be argued as important factors in slavery's demise in it's original social form as one individual owning another as property. Why bother taking on the responsibility for slave upkeep when you can rig the system in ways that require workers to enslave themselves to businesses and the system as a whole. You need the labor power, not the person.

A BIG will be sold for all the typical humanitarian half-truths, but in reality is a natural development to maintain the capitalist system. The powers that be have demonstrated no interest in maintaining a middle class workforce. Debt bondage and BIG coercion are on the horizon.

As Goethe observed: None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.

lin1 , June 22, 2016 at 1:47 pm

Your using an abstract moral excuse to argue against fulfilling a real actual need.Until the revolution comes, BIG is a solution I will support.

Fred Rucker , June 21, 2016 at 10:52 am

How wonderfully well stated, thank you

Bill Smith , June 21, 2016 at 8:34 am

Why does there have to be a political purpose for the release of the report? I would guess that the end of a presidency works a little like late Friday afternoon when stuff get dumped to the public at their point of lowest interest.

Raising the minimum wage works at cross purposes. It helps in the short run but in the longer run – other things held constant – it makes automation more likely.

When the small company I worked for years ago was faced with replacing a piece of equipment, at some point after the minimum wage had been raised, the company replaced it with one that was more automated and took few people to operate. The cost of labor had moved up and cost of capital was lower due the interest rates. The numbers were close enough that it could have gone either way but the feeling was that the cost of labor would continue to go up. Going with the more automated equipment locked in more of our costs.

a different chris , June 21, 2016 at 9:02 am

It's weird how people can pretend to conflate technology assisting labor with replacing labor with cheaper labor, in order to derail the subject.

As far as your "point", they invented the nail and hammer and now we don't have to drill holes and put pegs in. Fine. Nobody is talking about going technologically backwards, in fact just the opposite. We are talking about the race to the bottom in labor itself. I suspect a bit of looking around can find a lot of places where 1 American + 1 machine is slightly more expensive than 4 third-worlders + shipping + no machine. Sometimes the machines have progressed so fast that work has moved back onshore (and funny that all the moaning about "helping people that live on 2cents/day" isn't heard when that happens), which is cool but it still is the exception.

But: how limited is the number of "capitalists" that are going to bother to invest in bringing down the cost of that machine when you can drive the cost of humans down in almost unlimited fashion? - there are actually limits, and we will eventually hit them but it will get a lot uglier if we do it that way.

Cry Shop , June 21, 2016 at 9:32 am

And the whole issue is treating fellow human beings as less deserving, less worthy of employment just because of their nationality.

There will always be that other half of the working class that can be used to kill the other half when pushed hard enough, any definition will do for separating the class in to us vs them, so that the war can start. Unions blew it when in the 1970s when their leadership sold out, refused to go international with trade agreements, and focused on protecting an indefensible position, indefensible from both an economics view and from an ethics view.

Jay M , June 21, 2016 at 3:48 pm

During the cold war the American Labor union movement was thoroughly anti-communist and in bed with the CIA as far coordinating with international labor. See wiki on Jay Lovestone for a bit of the flavor of the times.

Bill Smith , June 21, 2016 at 11:41 am

My point was that we ended up with one less minimum wage job because the cost of labor made it better for the company to buy the more automated piece of equipment.

That example had nothing to do with off-shoring – though I now work in a company of about two dozen people who has off-shored some work. I am going to guess about the equivalent of two full time jobs.

I was quite surprised when that decision was made given our small size but it has worked as explained to us when it started.

Steve Gunderson , June 21, 2016 at 5:12 pm

How many things does the new machine buy?

cnchal , June 21, 2016 at 11:40 pm

Looked at that way, the machine buys it's consumables and raw material used in the process. It would have done that anyway, were Bill's company to decide to buy a simpler machine and employ one more person, but because of the automation, and as long as sales justify it, the more advanced machine will process more raw material and use more consumables because it has the potential to run 24 hours per day, whereas an employee would be seeing stars after an eight hour shift, due to repetitious boring work.

Felix_47 , June 21, 2016 at 9:26 am

Good point. Also consider litigation costs which to most employers in Ca at least is a huge financial and management burder. A couple of worker's comp sore backs or knees combined with chiropractor, "pain management doctors," surgeons, secondary psychic stress etc. makes a lot of employers including me realize that every employee is a ticking liability time bomb just waiting to call that 1-800-hurt at work number. No business can hire Americans in this legal environment unless they are very well paid well beyond their value so they have no option but to do the job. In fact, in my business litigation/medical/disability costs are far more significant than hourly wages. We just can't take the risk and we outsource everything and hire as few as possible and I am not alone.. We do everything possible to avoid hiring low level workers and when we do we want young recent immigrants who are not "Americanized" and lawyer prone. Even then we get burned more often than not with claims for age related conditions. Then it is simply 1-800-Lastimado en Trabajo and you can see the ads all over the busses in TJ before they come over….ads for Ca worker's comp attorneys!!!! Lawyers, since they control the democratic party are a huge part of our unemployment problem. No employer can take the worker's comp risk of an older employee. If they feel back ache or knee ache or neck ache on the job…it is "aggravated" and the employer is often out hundreds of thousands….thanks to the lawyers who write the laws. Don't count on this lawyer in chief or the next one to do anything about it. Age discrimination and automation and outsourcing are survival tactics for most of the businesses I work with, including my own.

tegnost , June 21, 2016 at 9:58 am

medicare for all

JohnnySacks , June 21, 2016 at 10:41 am

Yes indeed, there's a reason big business doesn't want medicare for all – it would result in the ultimate 'flexible workforce'. Workers immediately bailing out of every shit show employment situation they manage to fall into at the drop of the hat with no COBRA or insurance dead zones. But on the other side of the coin, it would ramp up the Uber jitney economy of on-demand disposable workers lined up holding signs displaying their skill sets for a day's pay at the highway on-ramps at 6:30 AM (or, as the neo-liberal mindset would frame it – the entrepreneurs).

Steve Gunderson , June 21, 2016 at 5:13 pm

Thats pretty much how the movie/tv industry operates in Hollywood.

armchair , June 21, 2016 at 10:17 am

Damn it, we could unleash potent forces if we just got rid of the lawyers. When a person's knee gets torn up on the job, give em' a couple grand, an aspirin and tell them to get over it. That's all you need to do.

Think about this. If the states weren't so desperate for money, they wouldn't have to run the system on the cheap. If health costs were lowered, then the system wouldn't be so expensive. A worker's comp agency has to balance its objectives between not bankrupting the state and not screwing over hurt people. A hurt worker without an advocate is a sitting duck. One way to make lawyers go away is to abolish worker's rights. Alternatively the worker's comp system would be cheaper if health costs were cheaper, and realistic settlements without the assistance of a lawyer might be possible if states had more revenue to pay bills.

JTMcPhee , June 21, 2016 at 12:41 pm

History of Work Comp as I remember it - speaking of how "the company" counts its beans: Johns Manville had a problem with people getting slowly sicker on the job (handling asbestos) starting late in the 1800s paid doctors to do studies that proved the asbestos-asbestosis-mesothelioma connection, and gave some rates of worsening of the diseases and hence points at which workers could no longer work. The researchers and doctors were paid for and threatened into silence on the findings, and required to ignore their Hippocratic obligations. Workers had to go to company doctors, who would nurse them along until they were fired for inability.

At first, the court system's tort law provided the persistent with some compensation and support commensurate with the harm. Many cases settled, but all contained non-disclosure mousetraps (tell anyone and you lose everything.) And of course the "experts" who testified for both sides were sworn to secrecy too, for money or from fear. But Manville and other corporate creatures got inspired, starting around the 1890s I think, to pitch and successfully write (lobby) into law that "workers comp" system that persists - places an administratively determined value on the "injury," percent of disability, and the rest, bars tort litigation for WC-"covered" injuries. Even with all that, a lawyer is often needed because the fokking corporate swine do everything in their considerable power and corrupting reach to avoid even paying out the pittance WC provides, especially long-term treatments and care for the many horrific injuries. Once again, the hope is that the injured worker will GO DIE. And yes, there are cheaters, but gee, how surprising that the profits from fokking over the workers so far outweigh the little bits that a few people scam from the other side. Many of the patients I tried to help when I worked as a nurse were WC, and the treatment they got from the insurers, and the "employee advocates" and "nurse case managers" and defense lawyers acting on screw-the-worker policies of long standing, was amazingly cruel.

"Bankrupting the state?" WC is paid, far as I know, at least in FL, out of an insurance pool that is funded by employers. Subject to the same kinds of actuarial calculations that any other large-pool insurance game undertakes in underwriting. And yes, universal health care (not Obamacare) would, if it could be managed without the full usual apparently inescapable corruption by neoliberal interests and thinking, reduce EVERYONE's costs. And states are "desperate for money" largely because the Chamber of Commerce and other neoliberal fokkers like the Kochs have strangled the public general-welfare income stream and diverted most of what is left to various kinds of "white man's welfare" and corporate gifts.

Here in FL, "worker's rights" are already largely abolished, and the mopping up continues. Just so's you know. There are still lawyers who will (for a cut of the limited amounts that WC will pay out if they finally prevail, to the worker's and family's detriment, "take cases." What I learned in law school, first week in Contracts and Torts and Constitutional Law, is that "There are no rights without effective remedies." What remedies do workers have?

And for those who want to shoot at the VA, on "inefficiency" grounds and the other neoliberal overt and covert assaults, VA disability is a Workers Comp program too. Max payout for a GI who is 100% permanently and totally disabled is around $30,000 a year. There is no component as with other kinds of insurance structures for enhanced damages for "bad faith" on the part of the government and the privatized functions that make up the disability administration. "Thank you for your service, Sucker!!" And that "award" usually only comes after a decade or more of fighting with a well documented opposition from the people who administer the "system" and requires persistence, luck, and occasionally benefits (not so much any more) from intervention by the injured GI's elected representative…

animalogic , June 21, 2016 at 8:57 pm

All this talk of workplace injury, lawyers and workers comp misses the obvious point that some of these workplaces must be UNSAFE. (It's always the other workplace that's unsafe–"our" worker comp payouts are always rorts).

The answer to all worker comp issues is the same: universal mandatory insurance run by the state and work that minimises physical/psychological injury.
Naturally it won't occur as its a cost to business….

reslez , June 21, 2016 at 1:03 pm

Heaven forbid employers pay for the body parts they use up and destroy in their workers.

I agree with Anon, universal health care would resolve a lot of these issues. When the cost is spread out employers whine less when their workers are hurt.

allan , June 21, 2016 at 8:36 am

Yet despite having among the most flexible labor markets in the OECD-with low levels of labor market regulation and employment protections, a low minimum cost of labor, and low rates of collective bargaining coverage-the United States has one of the lowest prime-age male labor force participation rates of OECD member countries.

Francois Hollande to the white courtesy phone.

Larry , June 21, 2016 at 9:56 am

This song was made in 1983…and the same crap that Run-DMC mention in the lyrics still exists today:

Unemployment at a record highs
People coming, people going, people born to die
Don't ask me, because I don't know why
But it's like that, and that's the way it is
People in the world tryin to make ends meet
You try to ride car, train, bus, or feet
I said you got to work hard, you want to compete
It's like that, and that's the way it is
Huh!
Money is the key to end all your woes
Your ups, your downs, your highs and your lows
Won't you tell me the last time that love bought you clothes?
It's like that, and that's the way it is
Bills rise higher every day
We receive much lower pay
I'd rather stay young, go out and play
It's like that, and that's the way it is
Huh!
Wars going on across the sea
Street soldiers killing the elderly
Whatever happened to unity?
It's like that, and that's the way it is

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_hN1SKVx31s

tony , June 21, 2016 at 3:36 pm

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yUoiFH6Aw7o

I like old Ice-T.

The thing about being a man near the bottom in a country with low social mobility means it is extremely hard to get girls. Jordan B Peterson said in The Age of Unequals discussion that the primary motivation for men to become criminals is because it is the only way to have a chance at attractive women. That has been my personal experience with crime too.

Enquiring Mind , June 21, 2016 at 9:56 am

Ageism takes many forms, some more subtle than others. When your friendly local HR department makes a few tweaks to benefits, the newer employees don't notice, but the wizened veterans take notice. They see the handwriting earlier, and brace themselves for the next steps.

The HR folks are acting rationally in their supply-side worldview as they look out for shareholders first and consider employees well down the list, if not at the bottom. That treatment of personnel represents a policy of a very high effective discount rate on human capital in the aggregate. When parsed out, there are a few nuances that make the picture clearer. When the top handful get outsized payouts, they are incentivized to reinforce that high human capital discount rate, to the detriment of those down range.

The graphics showed an acceleration in the ominous trends in the early and mid 1990s. That coincided with the great outsourcing, re-engineeing, re-euphemising of jobs and the economy. In that era, Fortune magazine published a series of articles about the changing nature of the social contract at work.

One takeaway reflected the new bargain: companies needed to provide interesting work to retain employees, and the latter had to continue to make themselves employable. Those veteran employees referenced above discerned that there wasn't a bargain but a mandate to become more efficient, all presented with the window dressing of so-called interesting work.

A more honest presentation would have said work that meets the interest or discount rate, as part of the increasing financialization of the world. The decline in trust also accelerated during that period, whether in companies or the media. We continue to reap the results of that widespread mistrust and discontent during the current election cycle.

wobblie , June 21, 2016 at 10:08 am

A result of blind Liberal/Conservative policies.

https://therulingclassobserver.wordpress.com/2016/06/15/ruling-class-axioms/

Winston , June 21, 2016 at 10:16 am

a different Chris , please listen (see below) and read what Clayton Christensen has been saying. Big companies are mostly brands now. Have offshored main parts of company. Last stage in that development is decline of company, as in case of steel. IBM is presently also classic case as on road to failure as well for same reason. It started at IBM with Gerstner.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/stevedenning/2011/11/18/clayton-christensen-how-pursuit-of-profits-kills-innovation-and-the-us-economy/#3e737b19992a

Clayton Christensen: How Pursuit of Profits Kills Innovation and the U.S. Economy

Christensen at Gartner Symposium:
http://gartner.mediasite.com/mediasite/play/9cfe6bba5c7941e09bee95eb63f769421d?t=1320659595

Gartner Symposium ITExpo

Oh and state/local gopvts favor large companies over small companies!

http://www.forbes.com/sites/stevedenning/2014/05/30/why-ibm-is-in-decline/#5aaa6e284c53

Why IBM Is In Decline

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/no-end-in-sight-for-ibm-decline-as-shares-near-six-year-low-141729837.html
No end in sight for IBM decline as shares near six-year low

http://www.goodjobsfirst.org/shortchanging
Shortchanging Small Business: How Big Businesses Dominate State Economic Development Incentives

Denis Drew , June 21, 2016 at 10:59 am

In a labor market that contains for the sake of argument 50% rich country workers (e.g., American raised) and 50% poor country workers (anywhere else raised) - must be something like Chicago which is 40% white, 40% black, 20% Hispanic …

… where pay is set by what I call "subsistence-plus"; meaning set STARTING at the absolute minimum pay workers will tolerate (e.g., $800/wk for American born taxi drivers, me; $400 for foreign born) and then PLUS some more for each additional level of skill (bottom for McDonald's, more for better English in Starbucks, more for college English and more competent organizing in Whole foods?) …
instead of pay set by the highest price the consumer is willing to pay - by collective bargaining or a minimum wage …

… a huge dropout of low skilled, rich country workers will occur as low skilled work pays much below what rich country workers look at as "minimum subsistence" (the labor market will not clear). E.g., American born taxi drivers (me again) and the Crips and the Bloods. How else explain that 100,000 out of my guesstimate 200,000 Chicago, gang-age males are in street gangs?

To make the psychological point about "minimum subsistence", today's rich county labor would gladly work for half of today's poor country minimum - if it were 100 years ago and that's the best a much less productive economy could pay. It's psychological, but a lot of psychological if DNA immutable.

Now here's the wind-up - that should implant permanently the unquestionable need for collective bargaining in all labor transactions: A what I call subsistence-plus labor market with 100% rich country workers will have lower pay levels than a collective bargaining labor market with 50% rich/50% poor country workers.

That's the whole law and the profits about the need to make union busting a felony (starting in progressive states) as far as I'm concerned.

PS. This is not an endorsement of Donald Trump's anti-immigration bender - that would kick down the pillars that our whole civilization is built on (sorry Native Americans) - that could mean 250 million Americans by 2050 instead of the anticipated 500 million. This IS an endorsement or rebuilding high labor union density - the missing balance-of-power pillars of our civilization. (Don't forget centralized bargaining - the "compleat" balance-of-power pillar of a unionized labor market.

Charger01 , June 22, 2016 at 2:48 pm

David Simon covered this in "The Wire" and "Show me a Hero", you have entire sections of the population that are forced to leave or participate in crime as a viable form of employment. We have a surplus population now- and going forward that are not supporter by their labor or any other resource other than transfer payments.
Please pause a moment and consider that concept. We have a paucity of credible jobs that people can cobble together a living, let alone increase their opportunities going forward.

nothing but the truth , June 21, 2016 at 11:33 am

when everyone is trying to game the system no one has the right to cry morality.

i have some small businesses that i am selling off. Too many overhead, insurance and legal costs. The line of business is becoming a slave to govt mandated costs and regulations. Customers more interested in injury lawsuits. IQ and attitude of younger employees noticeably poor.

not looking good.

Sandwichman , June 21, 2016 at 11:44 am

"THE LONG-TERM DECLINE IN PRIME-AGE MALE LABOR FORCE PARTICIPATION" report states:

"Conventional economic theory posits that more 'flexible' labor markets-where it is easier to hire and fire workers-facilitate matches between employers and individuals who want to work. Yet despite having among the most flexible labor markets in the OECD-with low levels of labor market regulation and employment protections, a low minimum cost of labor, and low rates of collective bargaining coverage-the United States has one of the lowest prime-age male labor force participation rates of OECD member countries."

I have been following this so-called "conventional economic theory" closely for nearly 20 years now and can attest that it is not a theory but a hollow assertion. Empirical "evidence" for this assertion is based on "strong priors": models containing assumptions that generate outcomes consistent with the assertions. GIGO!

At the core of the flexible labour markets dogma is obeisance to the great god NAIRU, which Jamie Galbraith exposed in all its Emperor's New Clothes nakedness 20 long years ago: "Time to Ditch the NAIRU"

https://www.aeaweb.org/articles?id=10.1257/jep.11.1.93

"The concept of a natural rate of unemployment, or non-accelerating inflation rate of unemployment (NAIRU), remains controversial after twenty-five years. This essay presents a brief for no-confidence, in four parts. First, the theoretical case for the natural rate is not compelling. Second, the evidence for a vertical Phillips curve and the associated accelerationist hypothesis that lowering unemployment past the NAIRU leads to unacceptable acceleration of inflation is weak. Third, economists have failed to reach professional consensus on estimating the NAIRU. Fourth, adherence to the concept as a guide to policy has major social costs but negligible benefits."

In "Unemployment: Macroeconomic Performance and the Labour Market" Richard Layard, Stephen Nickell and Richard Jackman grafted the dubious NAIRU concept onto the anachronistic lump-of-labor fallacy claim to create the hybrid chimera "LUMP-OF-OUTPUT FALLACY" in which central banks enforcing NAIRU anti-inflation policy would ensure that you couldn't redistribute working time. You can't make this stuff up. But Layard, Nickell and Jackman did. Nonsense on stilts.

"To many people, shorter working hours and early retirement appear to be common-sense solutions for unemployment. But they are not, because they are not based on any coherent theory of what determines unemployment. The only theory behind them is the lump-of-output theory: output is a given. In this section we have shown that output is unlikely to remain constant."

This is simply not true. Shorter working hours is based on the same theory as the theory of full employment fiscal policy. Keynes's theory. But don't take my word for it. In an April 1945 letter to T.S. Eliot, Keynes wrote:

"The full employment policy by means of investment is only one particular application of an intellectual theorem. You can produce the result just as well by consuming more or working less. Personally I regard the investment policy as first aid. In U.S. it almost certainly will not do the trick. Less work is the ultimate solution."

Galbraith's "Time to Ditch NAIRU" has 293 citations on Google Scholar. Layard et al's "Unemployment" has 5824. Economists flock to dogma like flies to shit.

Jefe , June 21, 2016 at 12:01 pm

Old and in the way….

dc , June 21, 2016 at 12:30 pm

The Oxycontin Report

Ishmael , June 21, 2016 at 2:00 pm

Some strong starting points without requiring additional govt interference:

Shut down both legal and illegal immigration. When you can not employ the ones who are here why let more in.

Inforce the borders and deport people who are here illegally.

Get rid of anchor babies

Put tariffs on imports and I mean substantial tariffs. Worrying about Smoot Hawley is a canard. At that time the US was the biggest exporter now we are the biggest importer. I would also have a sliding scale depending upon labor rights. Some would scream we need to worry about the poor in these countries. How about worrying about the poor in this country. It has reached the point that you need to look around at your family and friends and say what would you do so that these people prosper. If you are not willing to say practically anything legally then you will probably not prosper.

Cut back govt at all levels. This is a major misallocation of resources. This is especially true of the military industrial security area. Come up with new health care laws. Focus resources to generate more doctors in the US and less people with unproductive degrees.

Close down overseas bases. Stop wars.

Ishmael , June 21, 2016 at 2:10 pm

One other thing, if you look at a lot of the jobs that men use to take and make a good living it was construction, plumbing, gardening, janitorial, cooks and etc. All of these jobs have been filled by illegal aliens who live 25 to a house, pay no taxes, get free health care and suppress wages.

I know, I am a racist!

tony , June 21, 2016 at 3:23 pm

Assuming there are enough natural resources, it is quite possible to arrange an economy in a way that benefits the population of the recipient country. Think about it. The immigrants are healthy, hardworking adults. So you get their labour without investing in twenty years of raising them and then taking on the burden of those who are unhealthy or anti-social.

The US is an immigrant country with a weak safety net so an intelligent policy could easily benefit both parties.

hunkerdown , June 21, 2016 at 4:10 pm

With respect, if your givens were in the least interesting or useful to the greater good, rather than articles of faith (which is just a polite term for self-delusion that benefits the power structure) designed to benefit your imaginary friends, satisfy your need to dominate and abuse others, and give your poor lonely misery some company, you might have something worth a detailed, thoughtful response. As it is, I think you need to explain yourself a bit better.

Ishmael , June 21, 2016 at 4:52 pm

Seems very clear to me. You must have a low IQ if you need someone to explain it to you.

Illegal aliens generally do not pay taxes because they get paid with cash! Sorry, if they have to pay such taxes like sales tax that everyone else needs to pay.

hunkerdown , June 21, 2016 at 5:52 pm

"Stupid" is typical American conformist speak for "would offend my bosses".

You had two points that sounded reasonable: "Shut down both legal and illegal immigration. When you can not employ the ones who are here why let more in." Because markets. Those who own a government that was designed to be bought want to drive down the price and increase the availability ("flexibility") of all labor, of course. Plenty of Americans would be happy to work off the books for a less demeaning wage under less demeaning conditions and less demeaning people. (As if Social Security isn't going to be looted by the oligarchs by the time I'm of age to retire) They wouldn't risk death and torture to come here if EMPLOYERS weren't withdrawing the benefits of employment from those already here and offering those benefits to others. While stopping the influx would be a fine idea, until you get control over those who are paying them to come here - making EMPLOYERS into felons for any support of immigration violations would be a far, far more effective use of enforcement power than beating down brown people at arm's length to satisfy your cultural conceits - supply and demand works both ways.

And "Put tariffs on imports and I mean substantial tariffs" is in the right spirit, but fails to acknowledge, with the usual hostility to self-awareness and past actions that defines the USAmerican "mind", that other nations have just as much right to respond any way they feel like, and the "trade agreements" the USA has signed grant them contractual grounds (pacta sunt servandum, remember?) to respond disproportionately with their own tariffs, penalties against the USG, and other demerits in the international sphere which are not constrained by your triumphalism in any way. Those means would not be as effective as simply repudiating every multilateral "trade"-related agreement the USA has ever signed and not, quite literally, pawning the USA for a mess of bourgeois pottage.

It's ridiculous that you should be depending on the US government to evaluate human rights conditions, when human authorities are never bound by evidence unless they want to be. Malaysia's admission into the TPP, and the politically-driven mulligan they received on their human rights conditions, shows the utter folly of letting ambitious bourgeois careerists hide behind corporate veils of any sort.

If you only believe that people who pay taxes should have rights, you support the very definition of plutocracy, and that makes you a disease vector.

ProNewerDeal , June 21, 2016 at 4:25 pm

"illegal aliens…pay no taxes, get free health care"

You have it back-a*ward. Undocumented workers pay taxes (FICA, SS, etc deductions), that they will not receive when they reach old/SS age, even if they are in the US at that future time. There is no "free health care" for undocumented workers, not eligible for Medicaid or ACA. Emergency room service does not qualify as health care.

Even US citizens have to go through a bureaucratic nightmare to get & maintain Medicaid or ACA, which is CRAPPY INSURANCE, not ACTUAL HEALTH CARE. At the point of needing actual health care, USians are often denied the service or the insurance refuses to pay after the service is done & face another bureaucratic nightmare in fighting the payment refusal. Undocumented workers lack access to even this crapified level of "health coverage".

I do agree that increasing supply (H1-B for STEM pros, undocumented for HS-degreed workers) lowers wages. Also, restricting supply (AMA restricting physician graduates such that US physicians per capita lower than OECD levels) increases wages. Econ101 supply & demand, perhaps neoliberal economists need "retraining" & should enroll in Econ101 at the local community college.

If there was an actual desire to limit undocumented immigration, the solution is large fines on Illegal Employers. How about $100K per undocumented worker found. In addition, end the Drug War, which causes violence & refugees, especially in Mexico & Central America. Revoke or at least amend NAFTA to un-decimate the MEX agricultural industry.

Ishmael , June 21, 2016 at 4:53 pm

Generally I have no problem with large fines for companies which employ illegal aliens.

marym , June 21, 2016 at 4:39 pm

People who work "off the books" don't pay income taxes regardless of their immigration status. They do pay many other types of taxes, often regressive – sales tax, excise tax, property tax (or their landlord's property tax.

DarkMatters , June 21, 2016 at 11:58 pm

1. "When you can not employ the ones who are here why let more in."
Cui bono? Because EMPLOYERS love it, from large corporations to my neighbors who hire low-paid gardeners. Maybe this class-ifies me, but that would have considered to be an extravagance when I was growing up. I wonder how many people who complain about illegal immigrants actually rely on their services?

2. "Inforce the borders and deport people who are here illegally. Get rid of anchor babies"
Bit late for that. I do agree we really have made a mess that needs attention and an intelligent cleanup. Even so, do you think we could competently amend the Constitution at this point, which is what it would take? Practically, I do think that better border security coupled with (really) improved labor conditions, both here and in Mexico (Imagine! An international labor effort!) could improve things. But TTIP and TTP are pushing the other way.

3. "Put tariffs on imports and I mean substantial tariffs."
I like the idea, but only sovereign nations can do this, and we're not. We're subject to international courts. In this case, specifically, expect corporate lawsuits against the USA, arguing that the US should compensate corporations for loss of profits caused by said tariffs. These will be arbitrated by Investor-State Dispute Resolution panels, courtesy of said TTIP and TTP, where the no-appeal panels are staffed by international trade lawyers, who otherwise work for international corporations. Yes, by all means, worry about the poor in this country, but don't leave out anyone else.

4. "Cut back government at all levels."
Down with traffic lights! (This statement of yours hooked me into writing this entire reply). Strict libertarians strike me as being more than a little Pollyann-ish. The only historical example that comes close are now called the dark ages. In those idyllic times, a bunch of French Norman good-ol' boys could hie themselves over to Italy and wreak havoc, I mean make their fortune. Governments are necessary to contain dispute resolution, and so require power superior to all other factions, but, for the sake of equal justice, should be accountable in some way to all. I could go on, but "no government" advocacy in our times leaves a power vacuum just at a time when corporations and financiers are doing their best to take over. As the Federalists argued, we do need a strong government, to ensure that the will of the people can be vigorously asserted. Not to say that it's working out so great right now, but it would be nice if we could in some way place competent people at the helm to right the ship. Speaking of Pollyanna….

RD , June 21, 2016 at 4:33 pm

All labor reform policies put forth by Republicans and their policy activation arm (Dems) have been to make life easier and richer for CEO's, not to help workers. So now economists are surprised by the results? What a useful profession they are.

run75441 , June 21, 2016 at 7:59 pm

Yves:

You already have him on your thread. The 40 hour work week was established under Roosevelt. If you wish to reverse or stave off the declining Participation Rate, then decrease the required number of hours work to 32. We have agreed before that Labor is the lowest cost when compared to Overhead or Materials. In the end, the difference in cost would be made up by higher productivity.

Sandwichman is a proponent of this and I agree with his analysis.

[Jun 21, 2016] Depressing Similarities Between 1938 And The Present

www.benzinga.com

Benzinga

By the late 1930s, the worst of the Depression had passed after the U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt jolted the economy through the "New Deal," which focused on the "three Rs" - relief, recovery and reform.

At the same time, private investment was at poor levels, as individuals chose to pay down their debts rather than spend. Inflation was also on the low side, and the government started to back off its fiscal stimulus programs and implement a tightening of financial policy.

Sounds a bit like 2016 doesn't it?

Business Insider, citing a research report by analysts at Morgan Stanley, made the case that 2016 is no different from 1938.

"The critical similarity between the 1930s and the 2008 cycle is that the financial shock and the relatively high levels of indebtedness changed the risk attitudes of the private sector and triggered them to repair their balance sheets," Business Insider quoted the analysts as saying. "During the deleveraging process, the private sector becomes risk-averse and shifts its attention towards restoring health to its balance sheets."

[Jun 19, 2016] US economy just 'doesn't want to grow up' BofA's Contopoulos

www.cnbc.com

The United States, along with the European Central Bank and Bank of Japan , are stuck overseeing 'Peter Pan' economies that refuse to wean themselves off cheap money policies.

... ... ...

"A Peter Pan economy is an economy that just doesn't want to grow up," Michael Contopoulos recently told " Futures Now ." The central bankers of the U.S., Japan and Europe "are like three nannies managing the economies. And, that's what they're supposed to be doing.

[Jun 18, 2016] Whats Really Happening to the Humanities Under Neoliberalism?

What's happening is the same what happed with them in the USSR. Only Party (in case of neoliberalism replace the Party with "financial oligarchy") sanctioned content can be taught and the stress is on neoclassical economics as this is one of the foundation of neoliberalism (along with liberalism, Ann Rand, and similar psudo theories).
Notable quotes:
"... Chipping away at the humanities in schools jeopardizes the issues of social justice in education. Arguably, it is safe to say that the humanities and any liberal arts program are undervalued specifically because they involve knowledges, practices and traditions that usually cannot adhere to immediate short-term use ..."
www.truth-out.org

The number of college students majoring in English, according to some contested reports, has plummeted. In general, the humanities are taking a back seat to more "pragmatic" majors in college. Students, apparently, are thinking more about jobs than about general learning. Given this trend, should schools be scaling back on the humanities?

... ... ...

Some might say that since top universities like MIT have decided to focus on management, business analytics, finance and mathematical economics (or trading), secondary schools should follow suit. It would be a mistake, however, for secondary schools to cave to this argument and scale back on the humanities.

... ... ...

The Chronicle of Higher Education has noted the reason for this prevailing wisdom about the myth regarding the humanities plummet: It's largely due to mainstream publications. For instance, in 2013, The New York Times featured an essay titled "The Decline and Fall of the English Major." In 2009, The American Scholar featured an essay, titled "The Decline of the English Department." Authors cited spirals in the humanities. Even The Chronicle's Mark Bauerlein wrote, "English has gone from a major unit in the university to a minor one."

The piece goes on to explain how, back in 2010, MSNBC anchor Tamron Hall said, "Students wanting to take up majors like art history and literature are now making the jump to more-specialized fields like business and economics, and it's getting worse." This comment was juxtaposed with a chart that indicated a spiral. Prominent New York Times journalist David Brooks also jumped on the bandwagon when he remarked, "The humanities [have] turned from an inward to an outward focus." The "sky is falling" myth then led to serious underfunding, becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Bérubé argues that mainstream accounts of the decline of the humanities in undergraduate education are "factually, stubbornly, determinedly wrong." He says there was a plummet, but it was between 1970 and 1980.

In reality, English isn't dying; it's just that at one time, it was unprecedentedly popular. English majors rose from 17,000 to 64,000 over a span of 30 years, from 1940 to 1970, and then declined to 34,000 by the 1990s. This does not mark a death to the humanities.

Are fields like art history and literature really "elite, niche-market affairs that will render students unemployable," as Bérubé argues? Are students abandoning the humanities because they are "callow, market-driven careerists?" No, this is not true. Bérubé states that "undergraduate enrollment in the humanities have held steady since 1980 (in relation to all degree holders, and in relation to the larger age cohort), and undergraduate enrollments in the arts and humanities combined are almost precisely where they were in 1970."

... ... ...

Chipping away at the humanities in schools jeopardizes the issues of social justice in education. Arguably, it is safe to say that the humanities and any liberal arts program are undervalued specifically because they involve knowledges, practices and traditions that usually cannot adhere to immediate short-term use by preservation seeking administrations and teachers.

... .,. ...

Dan Falcone has a master's degree in modern US history from LaSalle University in Philadelphia and currently teaches secondary education. He has interviewed Noam Chomsky, Edward Herman, Richard Falk, William Blum, Medea Benjamin and Lawrence Davidson. He resides in Washington, DC.

[Jun 18, 2016] Greenspan Shocked Disbelief

Greenspan phony "Shocked disbelief" reminds classic "...I am shocked - shocked, there is gambling going on in this establishment...." "...here are your winnings..." exchange between Humphrey Bogart & Claude Rains in Casablanca. Compare with "... "Those of us who have looked to the self-interest of lending institutions to protect shareholders' equity, myself included, are in a state of shocked disbelief," he said. ..."
Notable quotes:
"... "Those of us who have looked to the self-interest of lending institutions to protect shareholders' equity, myself included, are in a state of shocked disbelief," ..."
"... Greenspan spurned the Republican acolytes trying desperately to defend the faith and blame the crisis on the Community Reinvestment Act and the powerful lobby of poor people who forced powerless banks to do reckless things. ..."
"... Private greed, not public good, caused this catastrophe: "The evidence now suggests, but only in retrospect, that this market evolved in a manner which if there were no securitization, it would have been a much smaller problem and, indeed, very unlikely to have taken on the dimensions that it did. It wasn't until the securitization became a significant factor, which doesn't occur until 2005, that you got this huge increase in demand for subprime loans, because remember that without securitization, there would not have been a single subprime mortgage held outside of the United States, that it's the opening up of this market which created a huge demand from abroad for subprime mortgages as embodied in mortgage-backed securities. ..."
"... But having admitted the failure of his faith, Greenspan could not abandon it. Credit default swaps had to be "restrained," he admitted. Those who create mortgages should be mandated to retain a piece of them to insure responsible lending. Otherwise, the old faith still applied. No new regulations were needed, because the markets "for the indefinite future will be far more restrained than would any currently contemplated new regulatory regime." ..."
"... The only Guantanamo that the United States has any business running is a concentration camp for the hundreds of wall street executives and their cronies in Bushland that conspired to defraud the American people from their hard earned dollar. ..."
"... There are no free markets in America, any more than there is free lunch. ..."
"... So it wasn't the military-industrial complex that did us in after all . . . ..."
"... It's clear from comments on this contribution that few readers of Truthout believe Alan Greenspan's sorry testimony before Congress. What has faith in something to do with enforcing the policies of fiduciary responsibility already on the books? All these so-called "experts" on capitalism are now coming out to say "I'm sorry." Well, I won't be sorry for them until they are held monetarily and criminally responsible for their actions, inept or not. ..."
"... If it looks like class warfare, as David Harvey, author of Neoliberalism, has stated, call it class warfare and act accordingly. ..."
"... it doesn't take a genius to understand that when financial instruments are created based on crap (subprime mortgages), that eventually problems will occur with those instruments. In fact, Greenspan and his cronies knew that, which is why they resisted these instruments being regulated by the SEC or even the CFTC. ..."
"... Sounds like the "maestro" hit a flat note in his orchestra of greed and deregulation. ..."
"... Did anybody even bother to consult the Math PhDs who created these instruments to run possible scenarios -- just in case? why bother when you know you can scare congress, the president and the treasury and ultimately the people into bailing your ass out of worldwide collapse? ..."
"... Shocked Disbelief is a ploy. When they were all riding high, they didn't give a crap. They were going to come out richer than hell anyway. ..."
"... Where's Ayn Rand when you need her? Give me a break Mr Greenspan. Never let history and reality get in the way of the big unregulated celebration of greed like we have had since "Saint Ronald Wilson Reagan", and the other "Free Market" "government is the problem" ideologues ..."
"... What about the 1994 Act of Congress that required the Fed to monitor and regulate derivatives? The Act Greenspan ignored? ..."
"... "...I am shocked - shocked, there is gambling going on in this establishment...." "...here are your winnings..." exchange between Humphrey Bogart & Claude Rains in Casablanca ..."
October 24, 2008 | truthout.org

by: Robert Borosage, The Campaign for America's Future

On October 23, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan testified before a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on the role of federal regulators in the current financial crisis.

It marks the end of an era. Alan Greenspan, the maestro, defender of the market fundamentalist faith, champion of deregulation, celebrator of exotic banking inventions, admitted Thursday in a hearing before Rep. Henry Waxman's House Committee and Oversight and Government Reform that he got it wrong.

"Those of us who have looked to the self-interest of lending institutions to protect shareholders' equity, myself included, are in a state of shocked disbelief," he said.

As to the fantasy that banks could regulate themselves, that markets self-correct, that modern risk management enforced prudence: "The whole intellectual edifice, however, collapsed in the summer of last year."

Greenspan spurned the Republican acolytes trying desperately to defend the faith and blame the crisis on the Community Reinvestment Act and the powerful lobby of poor people who forced powerless banks to do reckless things. Greenspan dismissed that goofiness in response to a question from one of its right-wing purveyors, Rep. Todd Platts, R-Pa., noting that subprime loans grew to a crisis only as the unregulated shadow financial system securitized mortgages, marketed them across the world, and pressured brokers to lower standards to generate a larger supply to meet the demand. Private greed, not public good, caused this catastrophe:

"The evidence now suggests, but only in retrospect, that this market evolved in a manner which if there were no securitization, it would have been a much smaller problem and, indeed, very unlikely to have taken on the dimensions that it did. It wasn't until the securitization became a significant factor, which doesn't occur until 2005, that you got this huge increase in demand for subprime loans, because remember that without securitization, there would not have been a single subprime mortgage held outside of the United States, that it's the opening up of this market which created a huge demand from abroad for subprime mortgages as embodied in mortgage-backed securities.

But having admitted the failure of his faith, Greenspan could not abandon it. Credit default swaps had to be "restrained," he admitted. Those who create mortgages should be mandated to retain a piece of them to insure responsible lending. Otherwise, the old faith still applied. No new regulations were needed, because the markets "for the indefinite future will be far more restrained than would any currently contemplated new regulatory regime."

Now hung over from their bender, the banks could be depended upon to remain sober "for the indefinite future." Or until taxpayers' money relieves their headaches, and they are free to party once more.


IN ACCORDANCE WITH TITLE 17 U.S.C. SECTION 107, THIS MATERIAL IS DISTRIBUTED WITHOUT PROFIT TO THOSE WHO HAVE EXPRESSED A PRIOR INTEREST IN RECEIVING THE INCLUDED INFORMATION FOR RESEARCH AND EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES. TRUTHOUT HAS NO AFFILIATION WHATSOEVER WITH THE ORIGINATOR OF THIS ARTICLE NOR IS TRUTHOUT ENDORSED OR SPONSORED BY THE ORIGINATOR.

"VIEW SOURCE ARTICLE" LINKS ARE PROVIDED AS A CONVENIENCE TO OUR READERS AND ALLOW FOR VERIFICATION OF AUTHENTICITY. HOWEVER, AS ORIGINATING PAGES ARE OFTEN UPDATED BY THEIR ORIGINATING HOST SITES, THE VERSIONS POSTED ON TO MAY NOT MATCH THE VERSIONS OUR READERS VIEW WHEN CLICKING THE "VIEW SOURCE ARTICLE" LINKS.

Comments

This is a moderated forum. It may take a little while for comments to go live.

The only Guantanamo that the

Sun, 10/26/2008 - 23:37 - Captain America (not verified)

The only Guantanamo that the United States has any business running is a concentration camp for the hundreds of wall street executives and their cronies in Bushland that conspired to defraud the American people from their hard earned dollar.

What they did dwarfs the damage caused to this country by 911, (no disrespect for the many innocents who died). However, here, every single citizen is a victim of fraud and corruption on a scale that was heretofore inconceivable. Greenspan, Bush and now Paulson have done more than Bin Laden and his hordes could do in a 100 years.

By the way, if you protest YOU wind up locked up for being un-American. What happened America ?

There are no free markets in

Sun, 10/26/2008 - 19:27 - pink elephant (not verified)

There are no free markets in America, any more than there is free lunch. The game was always fixed and Greenspan was the ultimate shill for the fixers. The past thirty years have been an orgy of greed with common sense shoved aside for the sake of uncommon expediency. Americans became infatuated by arcane formulas and dense incomprehensible mathematics to the point that they forget simple arithmetic. America wake up it was only a dream, and a bad one at that.

So it wasn't the

Sun, 10/26/2008 - 19:07 - Anonymous (not verified)

So it wasn't the military-industrial complex that did us in after all . . .

It's clear from comments on

Sun, 10/26/2008 - 15:40 - afrothethics (not verified)

It's clear from comments on this contribution that few readers of Truthout believe Alan Greenspan's sorry testimony before Congress. What has faith in something to do with enforcing the policies of fiduciary responsibility already on the books? All these so-called "experts" on capitalism are now coming out to say "I'm sorry." Well, I won't be sorry for them until they are held monetarily and criminally responsible for their actions, inept or not. The truth is as plain as the nose on your face: Greenspan, the Federal Reserve, the investment banks, the Bush administration and several members of Congress unobtrusively acted to consciously and knowingly to rob the national treasury for the sake of capitalism's sacred cow: capital accumulation on behalf of the nation's political and economic elite. If it looks like class warfare, as David Harvey, author of Neoliberalism, has stated, call it class warfare and act accordingly.

We have heard statements

Sun, 10/26/2008 - 10:11 - DJK (not verified)

We have heard statements like "the mathematical models used for knowing the behavior of derivatives based on subprime mortgages were too difficult to understand", etc. But it doesn't take a genius to understand that when financial instruments are created based on crap (subprime mortgages), that eventually problems will occur with those instruments. In fact, Greenspan and his cronies knew that, which is why they resisted these instruments being regulated by the SEC or even the CFTC. And this is why they turned a blind eye to many of the rating agencies giving many of these instruments AAA ratings. I am sure that a real investigation will reveal numerous instances of fraudulent activity in conjunction with this debacle. Those perpetrators must be identified and brought to justice. While this will not fix our current problem, it hopefully should serve as a deterrent to those who would in the future attempt to again engage in such activities.

Well here you have it a

Sun, 10/26/2008 - 08:13 - Robert Iserbyt (not verified)

Well here you have it a confessional lie from the biggest fraud perpetrator in the history of American finance Why the markets ever listened to this criminal in the first place is evidence that our entire nation should be required to take a full year of real unfettered economics just in case they don't understand what is going on now. All the pundits on MSNBC and all the talking heads should be removed from the airwaves. The Bailout what will that do? the answer lies before you.

Sounds like the "maestro"

Sun, 10/26/2008 - 02:02 - Anonymous (not verified)

Sounds like the "maestro" hit a flat note in his orchestra of greed and deregulation. Come on, do you really think we are all so stupid to buy into the story that you couldn't predict a melt down knowing that those writing the subprimes held no responsibility for their actions? That's like giving a "get out of jail card" to someone who just created a felony! Did anybody even bother to consult the Math PhDs who created these instruments to run possible scenarios -- just in case? why bother when you know you can scare congress, the president and the treasury and ultimately the people into bailing your ass out of worldwide collapse?

I'm a former real estate

Sun, 10/26/2008 - 00:24 - two7five7one (not verified)

I'm a former real estate broker and my son is a mortgage broker. From about 2004 through the beginning of this "greatest financial crisis since '29", we frequently talked on the phone about the disaster which would ensue when the real estate value appreciation stopped, and people were no longer fueling the economy with money borrowed against their equity, and the sub-prime loan fiasco would end. We knew it would be disastrous, and both of us were astonished that neither the FED nor congress was willing to say or do anything about it. Anyone who has witnessed over the years the cycle of boom/bust/boom/bust in the real estate market knew that after eleven years of unprecedented "boom" -- '96 through '2007 -- the "bust" would be like an earthquake. Paulson and Greenspan and their ilk now denying that they suspected this is just is just their lying to protect the GOP which was benefitting from the booming economy. They should both end up in prison, with all of the GOP members of congress who have had their hands in the cash register.

Dance clown, dance. First

Sat, 10/25/2008 - 23:48 - mysterioso (not verified)

Dance clown, dance. First you were against the FED until you became head of the FED. Then you were for trickle down economics and letting the "system" regulate itself until you saw the inevitable destruction it caused. Dance clown, dance. You should be the first one sent to prison under the "Un-American activities act". The arrogance of your testimony before the committee was appalling. You honestly couldn't believe you were wrong !!!

Shocked disbelief, my foot.

Sat, 10/25/2008 - 23:35 - slw (not verified)

Shocked disbelief, my foot. Many of us predicted EXACTLY this outcome.

This is like telling the Fox

Sat, 10/25/2008 - 22:43 - topview (not verified)

This is like telling the Fox to watch the Hens and then walking away and trusting him to do the right thing. Government has to return to regulation and see that there is no hanky, Banky going on anymore. Monopolies have to be busted up, like the Communication industry's, the Drug industries and any other Corporations that control to much of the way the Country operates. No more Outsourcing any Government duties.

Shocked Disbelief is a ploy.

Sat, 10/25/2008 - 22:00 - radline9 (not verified)

Shocked Disbelief is a ploy. When they were all riding high, they didn't give a crap. They were going to come out richer than hell anyway.

Where's Ayn Rand when you

Sat, 10/25/2008 - 20:53 - anglohistorian (not verified)

Where's Ayn Rand when you need her? Give me a break Mr Greenspan. Never let history and reality get in the way of the big unregulated celebration of greed like we have had since "Saint Ronald Wilson Reagan", and the other "Free Market" "government is the problem" ideologues. We can spend trillions on war and corporate bailouts, but we can't have a single payer health system? We can't rebuild our infrastructure? Say it again- give me a break!

What about the 1994 Act of

Sat, 10/25/2008 - 20:41 - Jtmonrow (not verified)

What about the 1994 Act of Congress that required the Fed to monitor and regulate derivatives? The Act Greenspan ignored?

"...I am shocked - shocked,

Sat, 10/25/2008 - 20:29 - Anonymous (not verified)

"...I am shocked - shocked, there is gambling going on in this establishment...." "...here are your winnings..." exchange between Humphrey Bogart & Claude Rains in Casablanca

This would be the same

Sat, 10/25/2008 - 19:50 - dtroutma (not verified)

This would be the same "shocked disbelief" expressed by Willie Sutton's mother?

shouldn't Greenspan give his

Sat, 10/25/2008 - 18:06 - Anonymous (not verified)

shouldn't Greenspan give his salary and bonus back to taxpayers?

[Jun 03, 2016] A 'tsunami' is about to overwhelm the debt market

Notable quotes:
"... Increased regulation, the holding of high-yield debt by "less stable" investors such as mutual funds, which are likely to unload the bonds quickly in the event of a drop, and the increased size of the low-quality leveraged loan market could all make the tidal wave even worse than in the past. ..."
finance.yahoo.com

Boys crouch behind a wall as they play in the massive surf at Sydney's Narrabeen Beach in February 2004.

A tidal wave may be coming to the bond market, and it's not going to be pretty.

At least that's the view of Matthew Mish, credit strategist at UBS. To Mish, the elevated rates of default in the commodity sector and high risk bonds are a harbinger of things to come for the broader debt market.

"First, our quantitative framework is signaling a broader deterioration in the default outlook, with our model projecting default rates of 4.3% over the next 12 months (versus 2.6% one year prior)," Mish wrote in a note to clients on Thursday.

Mish's research asks whether the recent uptick in default rates is simply a "rogue wave" that will dissipate or the "start of a tsunami" that will bring the rate of defaults much higher over the long term.

Mish is in the latter camp. He cites three short-term reasons for a coming increase in the number of firms unable to pay back their debt. They are:

  1. Decreasing profits: Mish notes that corporate profits fell 7.6% in the first quarter against the same period a year ago. In order to pay back loans, companies need to continue to make more, and with less cash coming in, there will be less to allocate to debt.
  2. Lending standards are getting tighter: Firms also have the ability to pay down debt that is coming to maturity by issuing new debt, effectively kicking the can down the road. Lending conditions for new debt, however, are getting tighter as banks focus on higher quality borrowers. In turn, this makes it tougher for companies to pay for debt with more debt.
  3. Debt is getting more expensive: Loan spreads, or the difference between what banks have to pay to borrow money and what they charge companies in interest on loans they then give out, are starting to widen. In other words, new debt is getting more expensive.

This trouble is not just limited to the commodity space. Mish estimates that the default rate for nonenergy firms will creep up to 3.5% in 2016, up from 1.5% currently.

"Higher frequency data suggest default stress is rising specifically in the media/entertainment, consumer/service, retail and aerospace/industrial sectors (as well as the non-bank financials)," Mish wrote.

As these defaults start to pile up, Mish said, long-term shifts in the credit markets could snowball and make the situation even worse.

Increased regulation, the holding of high-yield debt by "less stable" investors such as mutual funds, which are likely to unload the bonds quickly in the event of a drop, and the increased size of the low-quality leveraged loan market could all make the tidal wave even worse than in the past.

More


Michael

Soon the US government will start bailing out states like California and Illinois. The precedent has already been set with the bailing out of GM and others. Their excuse will be the States are too big to fail. Taxpayers and the heirs across the nation will be footing the bill for corruption, mismanagement and just plain stupidity of these states and others that will soon follow. Of course, eventually the financial strain will overpower the producers who fund the non producers and all hell will break loose. One just has to witness current events like Venezuela's economic collapse to see our future. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but someday.

Kim

No surprise, the economy has been creeping on borrowed money without interest. The Fed kept pumping money to keep the economy afloat while Obama borrowed $10 trillion to put into the economy and regulated into the economic collapse. That borrowed money will have to be paid. When the interest goes up, we will have to pay the interest and less money for anything else. Obama has been destroying our economy without consequences just like Bill Clinton did in 1996 with the expansion of the subprime lending rate, except it is gravely worse now with our massive debt.

[Jun 03, 2016] US gains just 38K jobs, fewest in 5 years; rate at 4.7 pct.

Notable quotes:
"... Nearly a half-million jobless Americans stopped looking for work and so were no longer officially counted as unemployed. ..."
finance.yahoo.com

At the same time, the unemployment rate tumbled to 4.7 percent from 5 percent, the Labor Department said Friday, its lowest point since November 2007. The rate fell for a problematic reason: Nearly a half-million jobless Americans stopped looking for work and so were no longer officially counted as unemployed.

Susan

The unemployment rate is just a bunch of #$%$. The only jobs avail are low paying PT with no benefits. I spent so much time and money on my education and now finding it's worthless. I use to make $50k a year with benefits and another $20k freelancing from home. I've been unemployed now for a while and even went back and got my masters degree. Still no work. So now I'm suppose to work for min wage? This is my reality. This is the reality for many people. Do they really expect us to pretend everything is sunshine and smiles. Our economy is collapsing people. Don't be fooled.

[Jun 03, 2016] Jamie Dimon just sounded the alarm on auto loans

Notable quotes:
"... At more than $30,000, the average auto loan for a new car is also at an all-time high, according to Experian. Also, at more than $500, the average monthly auto loan payment is at a record. ..."
www.cnbc.com
In May, the total amount of auto loans cracked the $1 trillion mark for the first time, marking a 10 percent increase. It comes as auto sales have hovered around record highs.

At more than $30,000, the average auto loan for a new car is also at an all-time high, according to Experian. Also, at more than $500, the average monthly auto loan payment is at a record.

The Experian research also noted that more subprime borrowers are borrowing for new auto purchases.

"The continued rise in new vehicle costs have kept many consumers exploring options to keep their monthly payments affordable," said Melinda Zabritski, Experian's senior director of automotive finance, in a statement that accompanied Thursday's research. "As long as vehicle prices continue to rise, we can expect leasing rates to grow along with them. However, consumers need to understand the nuances of their lease agreements and make sure that leasing fits their lifestyle."

Read More Auto loans roar to trillion-dollar level

[Jun 03, 2016] Bill Gross Get ready for an entirely different market

www.cnbc.com

Bill Gross has some bad news for investors.

In his June investment outlook released Thursday, the widely followed bond fund manager contended that bond and stock returns realized in the last 40 years are "a grey if not black swan event that cannot be repeated." Investors should not expect 7 percent returns on bonds or returns in the high single digits or double digits on stocks, Gross told CNBC on Thursday.

"The markets are entirely different and it would pay to travel to Mars as opposed to stay on Earth, because the returns here are very, very low," the manager of the Janus Capital Unconstrained Bond Fund, said on CNBC's "Power Lunch".
Gross said easy central bank policy could hold down bond returns. Central banks in Europe and Japan have adopted negative interest rates, while the U.S. Federal Reserve's target rate is at 0.25 to 0.50 percent.

German and Japanese 10-year bonds currently have negative yields, while their 30-year bonds yield less than 1 percent. The U.S. 10-year Treasury note yield sat around 1.8 percent Thursday.

Gross contended those rate trends can hurt not only savers but also the broader economy. He said Fed policymakers, who have signaled they could hike rates at least once this year, realize they need to normalize policy.

"Ultimately, they have to move back up and I think a certain number of Fed governors realize that the normalization process is necessary in order to save business models and to save capitalism basically because capitalism doesn't work at 0 percent and it doesn't work at negative interest rates," he said.

Gross added that investors should "basically go the other way" by holding liquid cash. He said they should not buy corporate bonds and resist buying high-yield bonds or riskier stocks.

See also

Here's why oil will move higher: Energy analyst

'Sizable' stock market sell-off may lie ahead, warns oil bear

Marc 'Dr. Doom' Faber: Why stocks are 'very vulnerable'

Philips Lighting shares rise as CEO hails 'historic' market debut


[Jun 02, 2016] The shameful roles played by Americas torchbearing universities – Harvard, Yale, Stanford etc – in utterly abandoning their historic responsibility as educators to maintaining the health of the nations public school system

Notable quotes:
"... we are now feeding the growth of the "underclass" by lifting ever higher and out of reach the upward mobility ladder, once the banner of opportunity now fallen behind the supposedly sclerotic welfare states of Europe. ..."
"... The reason Trump and Sanders are doing well in the US while fascists are doing well in Europe is the same reason: neoliberalism has gutted, or is in the process of gutting, societies. Workers and other formerly "safe" white collar workers are seeing their job security, income security, retirement security all go up in smoke. Neoliberals are trying to snip and cut labor protections, healthcare, environmental regulations all for corporate profit. In Europe this is all in addition to a massive refugee crisis itself brought on by neoliberalism (neocon foreign policy is required for neoliberal social policy, they go hand-in-hand). The US and NATO destabilize countries with the intent of stealing their resources and protecting their markets, cause massive refugee flows which strain social structures in Europe (which falls right into the hands of the gutters and cutters of neoliberalism). Of course the people will lean fascist. ..."
"... Selected Skeptical Comments ..."
"... seanseamour asks "What does that have to do with education?" and answers "Everything if one considers the elitist trend…" This question & answer all but brings tears to my eyes. It is so utterly on point. My own experience of it, if I may say so, comes from inside the belly of the beast. As a child and a product of America's elite universities (I have degrees from Harvard and Yale, and my dad, Richard B. Sewall, was a beloved English prof at Yale for 42 years), I could spend all morning detailing the shameful roles played by America's torchbearing universities – Harvard, Yale, Stanford etc – in utterly abandoning their historic responsibility as educators to maintaining the health of the nation's public school system.* ..."
"... And as I suspect seanseymour would agree, when a nation loses public education, it loses everything. ..."
"... accountable ..."
"... And I hear a few others saying that Americans are too dumbed down, too busy, too polarized or too just plain stupid to make intelligent, constructive use of a non-partisan, problem-solving Civic Media. But I would not underestimate the intelligence of Americans when they can give their considered input – by vote, by comment or by active participation – in public forums that are as exciting and well managed as an NFL game or a Word Series final. ..."
www.nakedcapitalism.com
Posted on June 2, 2016 by Yves Smith Yves here. The first comment came in on a post that had gone cold, and I thought it was so revealing that it needed to be seen widely. The second is a synchronistic complement.

As much as I carry on about the isolation of the Acela-riding classes from the acute distress in much of the US, I only have a very distant feel for it. For instance, I grew up moving through many small towns where a paper mill was a major, and in some cases, the biggest local employer. Those mill jobs were well paid and the workers could buy houses, cars, and had pensions. One of my brothers works for a paper mill that should have been world competitive through his retirement, but it's been wrecked by a series of private equity owners, starting with Cerberus, and in now in bankruptcy. The town in which he lives, Escanaba, Michigan, has lost over 20% of its population since the mid 1980s. Similarly, my uncle lived below the poverty line in Maine, lobstering until his knees gave out. But he had a fully paid for house he had inherited, and access to VA hospitals and doctors, so it could have been a lot worse. But Maine is a poor state, so even visiting there as a tourist in the summers, it's not hard to see the signs of struggle even in those who are getting by.

The first comment gives a window into the hidden desperation in America that is showing up in statistics like increasing opioid addiction and suicides, rather than in accounts of how and why so many people are suffering. I hope readers will add their own observations in comments.

seanseamour, June 1, 2016 at 3:26 am

We recently took three months to travel the southern US from coast to coast. As an expat for the past twenty years, beyond the eye opening experience it left us in a state of shock. From a homeless man convulsing in the last throes of hypothermia (been there) behind a fuel station in Houston (the couldn't care less attendant's only preoccupation getting our RV off his premises), to the general squalor of near-homelessness such as the emergence of "American favelas" a block away from gated communities or affluent ran areas, to transformation of RV parks into permanent residencies for the foreclosed who have but their trailer or RV left, to social study one can engage while queuing at the cash registers of a Walmart before beneficiaries of SNAP.

Stopping to take the time to talk and attempt to understand their predicament and their beliefs as to the cause of their plight is a dizzying experience in and of itself. For a moment I felt transposed to the times of the Cold War, when the Iron Curtain dialectics fuzzed the perception of that other world to the west with a structured set of beliefs designed to blacken that horizon as well as establish a righteous belief in their own existential paradigm.

What does that have to do with education? Everything if one considers the elitist trend that is slowly setting the framework of tomorrow's society. For years I have felt there is a silent "un-avowed conspiracy", why the seeming redundancy, because it is empirically driven as a by-product of capitalism's surge and like a self-redeeming discount on a store shelf crystalizes a group identity of think-alike know-little or nothing frustrated citizens easily corralled by a Fox or Trump piper. We have re-rcreated the conditions or rather the reality of "Poverty In America" barely half a century after its first diagnostic with one major difference : we are now feeding the growth of the "underclass" by lifting ever higher and out of reach the upward mobility ladder, once the banner of opportunity now fallen behind the supposedly sclerotic welfare states of Europe.

Praedor, June 1, 2016 at 5:37 pm

So Richard Cohen now fears American voters because of Trump. Well, on Diane Reem today (NPR) was a discussion on why fascist parties are growing in Europe. Both Cohen and the clowns on NPR missed the forest for the trees. The reason Trump and Sanders are doing well in the US while fascists are doing well in Europe is the same reason: neoliberalism has gutted, or is in the process of gutting, societies. Workers and other formerly "safe" white collar workers are seeing their job security, income security, retirement security all go up in smoke. Neoliberals are trying to snip and cut labor protections, healthcare, environmental regulations all for corporate profit. In Europe this is all in addition to a massive refugee crisis itself brought on by neoliberalism (neocon foreign policy is required for neoliberal social policy, they go hand-in-hand). The US and NATO destabilize countries with the intent of stealing their resources and protecting their markets, cause massive refugee flows which strain social structures in Europe (which falls right into the hands of the gutters and cutters of neoliberalism). Of course the people will lean fascist.

In the US we don't have the refugees, but the neoliberalism is further along and more damaging. There's no mystery here or in Europe, just the natural effects of governments failing to represent real people in favor of useless eater rich.

Make the people into commodities, endanger their washes and job security, impose austerity, and tale in floods of refugees. Of COURSE Europeans stay leaning fascist.

Selected Skeptical Comments
Steve Sewall , June 2, 2016 at 12:07 pm

What a comment from seanseamour. And the "hoisting" of it to high visibility at the site is a testament to the worth of Naked Capitalism.

seanseamour asks "What does that have to do with education?" and answers "Everything if one considers the elitist trend…" This question & answer all but brings tears to my eyes. It is so utterly on point. My own experience of it, if I may say so, comes from inside the belly of the beast. As a child and a product of America's elite universities (I have degrees from Harvard and Yale, and my dad, Richard B. Sewall, was a beloved English prof at Yale for 42 years), I could spend all morning detailing the shameful roles played by America's torchbearing universities – Harvard, Yale, Stanford etc – in utterly abandoning their historic responsibility as educators to maintaining the health of the nation's public school system.*

And as I suspect seanseymour would agree, when a nation loses public education, it loses everything.

But I don't want to spend all morning doing that because I'm convinced that it's not too late for America to rescue itself from maelstrom in which it finds itself today. (Poe's "Maelstrom" story, cherished by Marshall McLuhan, is supremely relevant today.)

To turn America around, I don't look to education – that system is too far gone to save itself, let alone the rest of the country – but rather to the nation's media: to the all-powerful public communication system that certainly has the interactive technical capabilities to put citizens and governments in touch with each other on the government decisions that shape the futures of communities large and small.

For this to happen, however, people like the us – readers of Naked Capitalism – need to stop moaning and groaning about the damage done by the neoliberals and start building an issue-centered, citizen-participatory, non-partisan, prime-time Civic Media strong enough to give all Americans an informed voice in the government decisions that affect their lives. This Civic media would exist to make citizens and governments responsive and accountable to each other in shaping futures of all three communities – local, state and national – of which every one of us is a member.

Pie in the sky? Not when you think hard about it. A huge majority of Americans would welcome this Civic Media. Many yearn for it. This means that a market exists for it: a Market of the Whole of all members of any community, local, state and national. This audience is large enough to rival those generated by media coverage of pro sports teams, and believe it or not much of the growth of this Civic media could be productively modeled on the growth of media coverage of pro sports teams. This Civic Media would attract the interest of major advertisers, especially those who see value in non-partisan programming dedicated to getting America moving forward again. Dynamic, issue-centered, problem-solving public forums, some modeled on voter-driven reality TV contests like The Voice or Dancing with the Stars, could be underwritten by a "rainbow" spectrum of funders, commercial, public, personal and even government sources.

So people take hope! Be positive! Love is all we need, etc. The need for for a saving alternative to the money-driven personality contests into which our politics has descended this election year is literally staring us all in the face from our TV, cellphone and computer screens. This is no time to sit back and complain, it's a time to start working to build a new way of connecting ourselves so we can reverse America's rapid decline.

OK, so I hear some of you saying, corporate America will never let this Civic Media get off the ground. My short answer to this is that corporations do what makes money for them, and in today's despairing political climate there's money to be made in sponsoring something truly positive, patriotic and constructive. And I hear a few others saying that Americans are too dumbed down, too busy, too polarized or too just plain stupid to make intelligent, constructive use of a non-partisan, problem-solving Civic Media. But I would not underestimate the intelligence of Americans when they can give their considered input – by vote, by comment or by active participation – in public forums that are as exciting and well managed as an NFL game or a Word Series final.

seanseymour, thanks for your insights and thanks, Yves, for putting them where we can see them.

* For any Yalies out there, I documented these roles in this 30-page historical memorial to my dad.

[Jun 02, 2016] Trump University playbooks offer glimpse of ruthless business practices

Notable quotes:
"... In the USA, those at the bottom collaborate based on the 'promise' that the American Dream offers them a shot at the top, if they hold the party line. ..."
"... What they do not realize is that the "party" counts on the weight of their mass to hold that line for THEMSELVES ALONE. The people who back it all are thrown under the bus with great regularity. They never see it until the wheel roll over them and by that time they have sucked millions of others into the illusion that they are the "one" special one who will make it from the bottom and be welcomed as a peer into the 1%. ..."
"... It is not so surprising. Hope is a hard thing to kill and an easy thing to exploit. ..."
"... He is being sued for "deceptive business practices" which is to do with the content of his so-called University courses. You can be a snake oil salesman and pressure people into buying more expensive stuff, but you can't sell them lemons. There are consumer protection laws to prevent that, and that's what these lawsuits are doing. ..."
"... 'Just following orders', which is basically what you are trying to justify, in a business context, has been discredited as a modus operandi and is not a legal defence (hence the lawsuit, with which I wish them the very best of luck). ..."
"... Meanwhile, the more one learns about the judge and the more this judge is in conflict of interest (IMO). This judge is for open borders and illegal immigration, is a strong advocate for La Raza (yes, that anti-White and pro-illegal Mexican hate group), has links to the Clintons (Hillary) and appointed two prosecutors to the case who are extremely generous donators towards Hillary, including paying her significant $ for speeches. ..."
"... Though, I think, not everybody who attends boarding school becomes a sociopath. But sociopathy runs in families. And sociopathic parents tend to put kids into boarding school or reformatory for that matter. Just to get rid off them. ..."
"... In such a naked, dog-eat-dog society, there should also be no personal bankruptcy protection or ring-fencing for those who fail in business. All their assets siezed to pay off creditors. Not sure Trump would be so keen on that. ..."
"... Shamelessness is not a crime in the USA, but crime (fraud) is still a crime. ..."
"... Nothing will come out of this, that will effect the election. The practices documented in the papers released is a high pressure sales tactic which are used by many. The focus should be on what Trump stands for and bring the fight to him. Hillary Clinton is the wrong person in the wrong year to be able to take on Trump. She is flawed beyond repair, and is fighting not to lose, so careful with her words that they don't resonate. ..."
"... He's being sued, so it's a civil case. Documents can be made public if it's in the public interest to know about them. And when it looks very much like a con man is on his way to the Whitehouse, I'd call that a big yes for public interest. ..."
"... Killary attacks the MANY women who accuse her husband of rape, lies to the grand jury over White Water, to congress and the people about Benghazi, runs guns to ISIS, takes money from Saudi Arabia the worst women's rights violator, lies about being shot at landing in Bosnia, approves uranium mining deal to Russian concerns while SOS and receives millions to her foundation at the same time, starts an unregistered hedge find in Columbia of all places, takes millions from banks and you fault Trump for greed and making his own way without influence peddling while in public office. ..."
"... A snake oil salesman, a 'boiler room' operator, a phishing scammer, that's all Trump is. Honestly, is there any lie this sociopath could not tell? Is there any con game too crooked and despicable for even him? ..."
"... Sounds like a third world country with no social contract other than the "opportunity" to exploit one another. ..."
"... HRC was paid $385,000 for 3 speeches given to Goldman Sachs, nearly 10 times what the Trump 3 day course costs per person. Based on the speeches we hear from HRC, what could have been in these speeches that made them so valuable? Afterward there may have been the same buyer's remorse felt by Trump-course attendees. The comments that say that the U.S. is full of scams like this are on target, starting with the $1 lottery ticket. It is the dream that brought and brings people to the U.S., and if it turns out to be an expensive nightmare, the answer is "caveat emptor." ..."
www.theguardian.com

More than 400 pages of released Trump University files describe how staff should target financial weaknesses to sell high-priced real estate courses

A federal judge has given the world an unprecedented glimpse into the ruthless business practices Donald Trump used to build his business empire.


US district court judge Gonzalo Curiel on Tuesday made public more than 400 pages of Trump University "playbooks" describing how Trump staff should target prospective students' weaknesses to encourage them to sign up for a $34,995 Gold Elite three-day package.

Trump University staff were instructed to get people to pile on credit card debt and to target their financial weaknesses in an attempt to sell them the high-priced real estate courses.

The documents contained an undated "personal message" from Trump to new enrollees at the school: "Only doers get rich. I know that in these three packed days, you will learn everything to make a million dollars within the next 12 months."

The courses are now subject to legal proceedings from unhappy clients.

This shows someone who was absolutely shameless in his willingness to lie to people - Eric Schneiderman

Judge Curiel released the documents, which are central to a class-action lawsuit against Trump University in California, despite sustaining repeated public attacks from Trump, who had fought to keep the details secret.

Curiel ruled that the documents were in the public interest now that Trump is "the front-runner in the Republican nomination in the 2016 presidential race, and has placed the integrity of these court proceedings at issue".

... ... ...

The playbook contains long sections telling Trump U team members how to identify buyers and push them to sign up for the most expensive package, and to put the cost on their credit cards.

"If they can afford the gold elite don't allow them to think about doing anything besides the gold elite," the document states.

If potential students hesitate, teachers are told to read this script.

As one of your mentors for the last three days, it's time for me to push you out of your comfort zone. It's time for you to be 100% honest with yourself. You've had your entire adult life to accomplish your financial goals. I'm looking at your profile and you're not even close to where you need to be, much less where you want to be. It's time you fix your broken plan, bring in Mr. Trump's top instructors and certified millionaire mentors and allow us to put you and keep you on the right track. Your plan is BROKEN and WE WILL help you fix it. Remember you have to be 100% honest with yourself!

Trump University staff are instructed in how to persuade students to put the cost of the course on their credit cards, even if they have just battled to pay off debts.

Do you like living paycheck to paycheck? ... Do you enjoy seeing everyone else but yourself in their dream houses and driving their dreams cars with huge checking accounts? Those people saw an opportunity, and didn't make excuses, like what you're doing now.

Trump staff are told to spend lunch breaks in sign-up seminars "planting seeds" in potential students minds about how their lives won't improve unless they join the programme. They are also told to ask students personal questions to discover weaknesses that could be exploited to help seal the deal.

Collect personalized information that you can utilize during closing time. (For example: are they a single parent of three children that may need money for food? Or are they a middle-aged commuter that is tired of traveling for 2 hours to work each day?)

New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman, who has also sued Trump University , renewed his attacks on Trump on Tuesday. "You are not allowed to protect the trade secrets of a three-card Monte game," Schneiderman said ahead of the document's release. "If you look at the facts of this case, this shows someone who was absolutely shameless in his willingness to lie to people, to say whatever it took to induce them into his phony seminars," Schneiderman said.

Urban2 -> Karlyn Isaak Lotney 1 Jun 2016 09:17

This is no more of a fraud then lotion for baldness or pills for losing weight. Or anything else being sold for that matter. And it's district attorney that is using terms like shamelessness and lying. Those are defamatory terms, not legal.
Jonathan Shearer -> Susan Victoria 1 Jun 2016 09:14
Could you please name the prosecutors, giving dates and amounts of these donations? Can I have verified quote from Curiel where he expresses his STRONG support for La Raza? Exactly what are these "links" to Hillary?

No judge is in favor of illegal immigration, though he may be in favor of changes to law to change the status of illegal immigrant and/or to make legal immigration easier. Judges are not in favor of illegal activity.

Let's make America honest and verifiable (again).

Urban2 -> CaptainRogers 1 Jun 2016 09:13
If it were a civil case, they wouldn't have been in possession of Trump's internal documents. Besides nothing would stop the plaintiffs from disclosing documents themselves. Public interest would therefor not even be an issue. Now of course I'm not aware of all the intricacies, but it does look sinister. At least to me.
Sanibel -> Paul Freeman 1 Jun 2016 09:10
"And I think that they want a president who is not afraid of making tough, ruthless decisions (in America's interests)." The US already does that with poor defenseless countries. Problem is if Trump tries that with powerful countries( with nukes like China) it may not end so well...
SakkiSelznick Susan Victoria 1 Jun 2016 09:10
"Collect personalized information that you can utilize during closing time. (For example: are they a single parent of three children that may need money for food?" The judge didn't write that. Mr. Trump's university did.
Debra Smith -> J Nagarya 1 Jun 2016 09:10
In the USA, those at the bottom collaborate based on the 'promise' that the American Dream offers them a shot at the top, if they hold the party line.

What they do not realize is that the "party" counts on the weight of their mass to hold that line for THEMSELVES ALONE. The people who back it all are thrown under the bus with great regularity. They never see it until the wheel roll over them and by that time they have sucked millions of others into the illusion that they are the "one" special one who will make it from the bottom and be welcomed as a peer into the 1%.

It is not so surprising. Hope is a hard thing to kill and an easy thing to exploit.

SakkiSelznick -> RogerColin 1 Jun 2016 09:07
A sales playbook that teaches seeking out "a single parent with three kids who struggles to buy food" and targeting them for credit card debt" is not only cruel but illegal. And it's far from buying low and selling high.
tonichicago -> Wordblind 1 Jun 2016 09:07
He appeals to those who hate "big government". Ironically, they don't seem to realise that his threats to curtail the "nasty and dishonest" press simply mean that we will end up with unfettered government. There will be no accounting to anyone.
tonichicago -> Aaron Rosier 1 Jun 2016 09:04
He is being sued for "deceptive business practices" which is to do with the content of his so-called University courses. You can be a snake oil salesman and pressure people into buying more expensive stuff, but you can't sell them lemons. There are consumer protection laws to prevent that, and that's what these lawsuits are doing. He sold them all a bill of goods.
Debra Smith -> downhillracer117 1 Jun 2016 09:01
You have hit at the crux of the matter.

This is TEAM BASED. Americans are indoctrinated to TEAM from very early in life. Every sport event, the high school team, the prom and everything in college life is TEAM BASED. You are "in" or you are "out" (meaning human or not human) by the colour of your jersey. Truth, justice, facts, are all dismissed based on what team you belong to.

ID446302 1 Jun 2016 09:00
An American success story? Exceptionalism to its core. Hidden in the shadows of our IRS and our exceptional judicial, until you threaten the political establishment by running for president.
J Nagarya -> bobkolker 1 Jun 2016 09:00
He is being sued NOW, and he is attacking the judge because he KNOWS he is being exposed for the crook he is.

Stop defending criminality: he is being sued for his tactics because they are NOT legal.

Pay attention to the news reports on his methods, as exposed in the Trump "University" materials he DIDN'T WANT released, but which now the court has released as result of his baseless slanders against the judge presiding over the case because HE KNOWS they expose his criminality.

keepsmiling -> Echocell 1 Jun 2016 09:00
Hate to tell you this, but what was written in the playbook is called "sales techniques." It's used by every company on the planet that has a product to sell. Don't hate the player, hate the game (capitalism).
'Just following orders', which is basically what you are trying to justify, in a business context, has been discredited as a modus operandi and is not a legal defence (hence the lawsuit, with which I wish them the very best of luck).

You have to fight the players - 'capitalism' is too nebulous a concept to 'fight', so you end up not seeing the wood for the trees. Exposing them one at a time is fine - it's all part of the big picture and is educational. There's a lot of educating to be done with regard to Trump's followers.

Susan Victoria 1 Jun 2016 08:56
Here we go again... the public will be fed a series of quotes, almost all taken out of context, designed to bash Trump and spread even more hate.

Meanwhile, the more one learns about the judge and the more this judge is in conflict of interest (IMO). This judge is for open borders and illegal immigration, is a strong advocate for La Raza (yes, that anti-White and pro-illegal Mexican hate group), has links to the Clintons (Hillary) and appointed two prosecutors to the case who are extremely generous donators towards Hillary, including paying her significant $ for speeches.

Very interesting testimony coming out of Clinton's deposed staff re her email server, including she didn't have a password... the mysterious fire... and more. But who cares? Trump-bashing is the order of the day.

youssou -> Ortho 1 Jun 2016 08:53
Lol interesting theory ... ;-)

I had to google it ... and yes: http://www.businessinsider.com/new-york-military-academy-closes-2015-9?IR=T

Though, I think, not everybody who attends boarding school becomes a sociopath. But sociopathy runs in families. And sociopathic parents tend to put kids into boarding school or reformatory for that matter. Just to get rid off them.

Guthrum -> MartinMckay 1 Jun 2016 08:49
In such a naked, dog-eat-dog society, there should also be no personal bankruptcy protection or ring-fencing for those who fail in business. All their assets siezed to pay off creditors. Not sure Trump would be so keen on that.

To do otherwise would be rewarding failure, using the state to prop up losers.

AntonZ1 -> BiggyZ 1 Jun 2016 08:49
Donald Trump University is not a religion. Drumpf is more cult leader than religious scholar.
Karlyn Isaak Lotney Urban2 1 Jun 2016 08:47
Shamelessness is not a crime in the USA, but crime (fraud) is still a crime.
ClearItUp 1 Jun 2016 08:45
Nothing will come out of this, that will effect the election. The practices documented in the papers released is a high pressure sales tactic which are used by many. The focus should be on what Trump stands for and bring the fight to him. Hillary Clinton is the wrong person in the wrong year to be able to take on Trump. She is flawed beyond repair, and is fighting not to lose, so careful with her words that they don't resonate.
CaptainRogers -> Urban2 1 Jun 2016 08:44
He's being sued, so it's a civil case. Documents can be made public if it's in the public interest to know about them. And when it looks very much like a con man is on his way to the Whitehouse, I'd call that a big yes for public interest.
Tom Voloshen 1 Jun 2016 08:42
Killary attacks the MANY women who accuse her husband of rape, lies to the grand jury over White Water, to congress and the people about Benghazi, runs guns to ISIS, takes money from Saudi Arabia the worst women's rights violator, lies about being shot at landing in Bosnia, approves uranium mining deal to Russian concerns while SOS and receives millions to her foundation at the same time, starts an unregistered hedge find in Columbia of all places, takes millions from banks and you fault Trump for greed and making his own way without influence peddling while in public office.
OpineOpiner 1 Jun 2016 08:40
A snake oil salesman, a 'boiler room' operator, a phishing scammer, that's all Trump is. Honestly, is there any lie this sociopath could not tell? Is there any con game too crooked and despicable for even him?
PostTrotskyite -> MartinMckay 1 Jun 2016 08:36
Sounds like a third world country with no social contract other than the "opportunity" to exploit one another.

Btw, supplanting content with the cheer leading, rhetoric, hate, and cheap one liners is the creed of the Trumpeteers.

AntonZ1 -> Aaron Rosier 1 Jun 2016 08:34
A 'predatory capitalist' is a thief, no matter how "biased" or "naive" you are.
Aaron Rosier -> ElfenLied2 1 Jun 2016 08:28
Clinton is already tirelessly working to drive voters away with her beams of blind arrogance, pretentiousness, divisiveness, unwillingness to accept/acknowledge consequence of her glaring failures of judgement, the naked pandering, the belligerent "campaign theme", and of course all of the old hits (Slick Billy and the Slimers, NAFTA, welfare reform, KXL, TPP, Fracking, Wall Street Transcripts, etc).

Donald Trump will feast on Clinton's garbage, while slowly moderating his platform positions, and steering his rhetoric slowly back to professional (from simpleton).

karmarama -> elemenohpee 1 Jun 2016 08:21
You seem to misunderstand me. Like several other posters on this thread, I am suggesting that Trump's practices are part of the wider world of business, and not so far from normal (not, in my view the same as 'acceptable') practices. The use of the name 'University' was certainly fraud, but why was it not caught right away by whoever is in charge of that in the US? His sales pitch, while pretty sleazy, is not far away from normal practice in brokerage, real-estate, holiday sales and many other areas of business, including the bottom of the education industry - indeed, doesn't every university 'oversell' itself to students, hence the need for independent surveys, and aren't there a host of 'degree for sale' schools in the US?

As a socialist I consider it all to be 'unacceptable', and I hope you don't take me for a Trump supporter, which I suspect you do. He is even more unacceptable than the Bush clan was! However those who are using this to smear Trump are walking a tightrope between 'normal' and 'fraud' when I think that the distinction is not at all clear.

ID673139 -> Carl123 1 Jun 2016 08:18
Clinton has a pretty shady past as well, like covering up potential rape allegations for Bill.

I'm not saying it is a defence at all, but as soon as Trump becomes a presidential candidate suddenly its front page news. He not done anything illegal, and if your so upset over these business practices why not look at the industry as a whole and people who do skin people with these practices. I said it before with Clinton or Trump either of them is a bad choice for president.

bbqtv -> ConnecticutNutmeg 1 Jun 2016 08:18
Student loans are encouraged even for courses & "degrees" that have no future earning potential. Colleges & universities increase non teaching & non research "staff" using these funds because they have money to spend for which there is NO accounting. [Why do you need to hire two assistants? So I don't have to teach!"
ConnecticutNutmeg 1 Jun 2016 08:10
Trump U. apparently targeted adults-not teenagers.

If only all the millions of students who were coerced by high school guidance counselors and campus administrators to sign contracts for government student loans, and are now on the hook for hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt without any good job prospects in this Obama economy, could sue the government for failing them as these students are suing Trump. Many of these students had no business going on to college and many drop out without getting the degree-but they still owe the money.

By having the students sign these loan agreements (not their parents) , government considers college students adults . But when it comes time to repay these loans, all of a sudden all the Democrats whine about these poor kids and their debt. Make up your mind. Are they old enough to take on the responsibility of signing a contract or not? If not, perhaps they should not be given the ballot either.

Muz Murray -> c0n0r 1 Jun 2016 08:03
Just about everything, if past presidents and their cronies are anything to go by. They are in it for the business of making money and feathering their own nests, while blithely blabbering about doing it 'for America.'
Martin Cohen 1 Jun 2016 07:55
I just don't understand how the US has wound up with a Clinton or Trump choice. Can the electorate be so politically disengaged as to allow one of these two into the most powerful job in the Western world? If Trump is simply the anti-establishment protest vote, that is all very well but someone as divisive and offensive as him can never unite a country. There are already protests on the streets that thankfully haven't turned too violent yet but it won't take much for heavily armed riot police to trigger something unthinkable. Being President always seemed to be a unifying job that commanded loyalty and respect even from staunch opponents. I always admired that about the Presidency. I don't see much evidence of it these days. Has respect for politics and politicians reached at an all time low in The States too? Trump isn't the answer, nor is a shady Clinton. We need politics and our politicians to once again embrace the concept of public service, morality and the precise rule of law. It would have been tremendous if more principled candidates had emerged victorious and given a much needed shot of public confidence in such a maligned vocation. I fear for the future. We may have stopped the cycle of European wars but globally it's more dangerous than ever. A competent steady hand on the tiller is what's needed now, especially in America.
Paul Freeman 1 Jun 2016 07:47
Unfortunately, american's tend to believe that businesses should be ruthless - except, of course, if it is them who has been the victim of a ruthless scam. And I think that they want a president who is not afraid of making tough, ruthless decisions (in America's interests). So it would not surprise me if these revelation actually boost Trump's popularity.
Tommo68 -> HardboiledChicken 1 Jun 2016 07:39
anyone who can stump up 35 grand for a three day course doesn't need the course in the first place...


HiramsMaxim -> garth25 1 Jun 2016 07:11

I'm not going to analyse all 50 States. US elections come down to a very few swing States. Those three are the most important.

The "Latino" vote in Florida is primarily not Mexican. Assuming legal immigrants will automatically support illegals from a different country is probably not wise. The real power in Florida is the retirees, although as Florida's population continues to grow, that is diminishing.

I very much doubt bill Clinton can capture white rural voters from Trump.

Clinton has nowhere near the support that Obama had among black voters. And, it doesn't do any good to win California with a bigger margin, the electoral votes remain the same.

I have no idea what the outcome will be, but I can say that Mrs. Clinton's huge lead has evaporated in about a month.


Tom Voloshen -> Maharaja Brovinda Singh 1 Jun 2016 07:09

We came we saw he died...the human Killary.....


Tom Voloshen 1 Jun 2016 07:09

The US keeps the the piece around the world using 720 military bases in foreign countries under the direction of people like Killary and the result is 15 years of war, death, destruction, millions dead, countries dissolved, missile batteries ringing Russia, our economy debt/GDP equal to Greece with NO END INSIGHT.....and you speak about Trump's lack of success? Lets talk of Killary's, Obama's, Bush's, Billy's....vote for anyone but Killary.


RussZimm 1 Jun 2016 07:07

HRC was paid $385,000 for 3 speeches given to Goldman Sachs, nearly 10 times what the Trump 3 day course costs per person. Based on the speeches we hear from HRC, what could have been in these speeches that made them so valuable? Afterward there may have been the same buyer's remorse felt by Trump-course attendees. The comments that say that the U.S. is full of scams like this are on target, starting with the $1 lottery ticket. It is the dream that brought and brings people to the U.S., and if it turns out to be an expensive nightmare, the answer is "caveat emptor."


Karen Poyser -> HardboiledChicken 1 Jun 2016 07:06

What a horrible way to see the world! These are vulnerable people being prayed upon, desperation can make people do stupid things. Considering all the ''american dream'' capitalist propaganda thrust on people from the minute they are old enough to comprehend, its surprising more don't fall for this sort of thing.


tempestteacup 1 Jun 2016 07:27

Am I alone in finding the steady drip of tidbits regarding Trump's business practices interminable? It is not news and it is not even particularly illuminating. This is all known grown that merely lends him greater exposure and entrenches his supporters in their view that he is the victim of an establishment conspiracy to smear, discredit and misunderstand.

Meanwhile, we have next to nothing on the devastating IG report on Clinton's e-mail server. We have almost no analysis on how the Republican Party is quietly, begrudgingly, rallying around Trump at exactly the moment that the Democrats are doing the opposite and degenerating into a fractious mess because they meretriciously anointing a terrible candidate 18 months ago.

Trump has received millions of votes. He has decimated a crowded Republican field, most of them smooth political operators with huge financial backing. This did not happen because there are millions of racists in America. It is because we are entering a potentially bloody phase in America's Culture Wars, with an increasingly mindless adherence to identity politics pitted against the historic grievances of a working class that now feels abandoned by the left (Bernie notwithstanding).

Anything about that, instead of fanning the flames of Trump's Plot Against America-style campaign?

*tumbleweed*


edithamy -> ljonesjr 1 Jun 2016 06:48

Salesman uses corrupt and illegal sales techniques to generate sales would be even more of a shock headline.


Kris Penny 1 Jun 2016 06:41

Not as ruthless as other ventures he's been involved in....
http://www.alternet.org/labor/donald-trumps-hiding-something-those-unreleased-tax-returns


Rita Hoeffner -> SEADADDY 1 Jun 2016 06:38

The real problem here is that Obama got elected, who had such a checkered past yet the media have him a pass. The media is still giving Hillary a pass.

At least with Trump, by the time he gets in office, I have a feeling he will be thoroughly vetted. What a nice change from having no clue about the man in the White House for the last 8 years!

Was he born in Kenya as a book jacket reported? Was he born in Hawaii as a dubious birth certificate stated? Who was his mom? Who was is dad? Who were his mentors? Where did he go to school? What were his grades? Lots of questions that we were told several answers to, but he was NEVER really vetted by the press, only anointed.

I'd rather know for sure what I'm getting! I think I know how ruthless Trump is...even before this article....that's why I'm voting for him.

[May 29, 2016] Goldman raised their price target (causing a rally in the stock) hours before underwriting a capital raise that cause a decline in Tesla's stock

peakoilbarrel.com
Brian Rose, 05/18/2016 at 6:34 pm
Toolpush,

I found it amusing that Goldman raised their price target (causing a rally in the stock) hours before underwriting a capital raise that cause a decline in Tesla's stock.

Although, to be fair there are SEC rules that are very explicit, with severe consequences, if Goldman Sachs' underwriting dept talked or leaked anything to their analysts.

Goldman Sachs does plenty of shady things to make a profit – like selling Mortgage Backed Securities as AAA investments, and simultaneously, knowing they're crap, betting on them going bad (covered in the critically acclaimed documentary "Inside Job"), or helping Greece hide their budget deficit with accounting magic… so they can sell them debt… that they know will go bad.

However, as odd as it is, none of those actions were illegal. THIS would actually be illegal, and Goldman Sachs is smarter than that. I'd guess it is a genuine coincidence.

On a separate note, I find it important to note that Tesla FIRST scouted out battery suppliers to supplement their battery supply 1 DAY before announcing the amount of their capital raise.

My hypothesis, Tesla's accelerated Model 3 ramp-up meant that they will need a large supply of additional batteries as the Gigafactory will not be able to accelerate it's schedule enough to match the accelerated vehicle production ramp.

This also tells me that Tesla is confident enough in their accelerated Model 3 production schedule that they needed to arrange a multi-million dollar contract with battery suppliers to supplement their capacity until the Gigafactory can meet demand.

likbez, 05/18/2016 at 11:00 pm
Although, to be fair there are SEC rules that are very explicit, with severe consequences, if Goldman Sachs' underwriting dept talked or leaked anything to their analysts.

This is all about corruption of regulators and impunity of TBTF financial institutions under neoliberalism - which is an immanent feature of neoliberalism aka "casino capitalism"…

Goldman's role in the growth of casino capitalism in the USA is similar to that of other players, except for one thing: Goldman didn't believe its own hype. The now famous Rolling Stone magazine article in 2009 by Matt Taibbi unforgettably referred to Goldman Sachs, the world's most powerful investment bank, as a "great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money." ( http://www.forbes.com/sites/jakezamansky/2013/08/08/the-great-vampire-squid-keeps-on-sucking/ )

https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2016/05/12/the-age-impunity/LHBxamqFENCs3W6lvWnCIJ/story.html

Impunity is epidemic in America. The rich and powerful get away with their heists in broad daylight. When a politician like Bernie Sanders calls out the corruption, the New York Times and Wall Street Journal double down with their mockery over such a foolish "dreamer." The Journal recently opposed the corruption sentence of former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell for taking large gifts and bestowing official favors - because everybody does it. And one of its columnists praised Panama for facilitating the ability of wealthy individuals to hide their income from "predatory governments" trying to collect taxes. No kidding.

Our major institutions, the ones that should know better, are often gross enablers of impunity. Consider my alma mater, Harvard University, and its recent nuptial with hedge-fund manager John Paulson. Paulson was the co-conspirator with Goldman Sachs of one of the most notorious scams of the recent financial bubble.

http://www.softpanorama.org/Skeptics/Financial_skeptic/Casino_capitalism/Systemic_instability_of_financial_sector/TBTF/Goldman_Sachs/index.shtml

Professional financial hackers have a lot of common with the organized crime. And not only in respect to common addictions to cocaine and prostitutes. But there is a subtle difference: financial hackers make it daily (and very lucrative) business to figure out ways to abide by the letter of the law while violating its spirit. Although the claim that they do not break the law has very little credibility. They do break the law, but at the same time their political influence is big enough to keep them out of jail. In 2012 Lanny Breuer, then the head of the Justice Department's criminal division openly admitted that. In a speech at the New York City Bar Association he said that he felt that it was his duty to consider the health of the company, the industry, and the markets in deciding whether or not to file charges. Which in case of Goldman represents insurmountable obstacle to criminal prosecution.
In any case GS converted itself into a special type of TBTF company, the company that specialized in hacking financial system. And in a large company internal politic can turn really destructive both to the firm and society at large. In fact, in large companies there are people with very high IQ at the top with personal traits that makes them more dangerous in comparison with bosses of Mexican gangs. It also makes internal political battles more vicious. BTW, a lot of psychopaths have above average IQ.

In a way the USA never had a subprime crisis. What we had was systemic, neoliberalism-induced crisis that involves FED, government, congress, banking, ratings, insurance, investment and financial industries (the banks were at the center of this crime syndicate and they were the largest beneficiaries of the crimes committed), one manifestation of which was 2008 subprime crisis. Large banks became huge, dominant political force and based on their political weight, they hacked the financial system in the same way computer hackers hack computers systems to suit their short term needs and first of all for enrichment of the brass (appetite for "make money fast" schemes was greatly raised during dot-com crisis).
As Simon Johnson wrote in May 2009 the USA had a The Quiet Coup with banks becoming the most favored and the most protected industry of the Congress. Financial system is essentially a system of rules. If a rich and powerful organization is directed toward hacking the rules: finding weaknesses and exploiting them it is undistinguishable from mafia in a very precise meaning of the term (organize crime syndicate with strong ethnic component), only more sophisticated. Again they are not gangsters in traditional meaning of this word, they are of a hackers, and as such they are much more difficult to prosecute. As a comment to blog post at EconomistView by "Eric" (Paul Krugman The Unwisdom of Elites) aptly stated:
Villains….who exactly? The principle reason that there have been few prosecutions of high level bankers is that not so much that got done was illegal. Reckless, maybe. But even here is it really reckless behavior if you have a belief - which turns out to be true - that public finances will bear the downside risks on your behalf?
In hindsight it feels like these things should have been illegal, but the available serious punishments, such as not bailing out AIG, not allowing various investment firms to become bank holding entites, not backstopping the GSEs (read their debt issues and you'll see that nowhere is a claim made for public backing), not taking first loss positions on Bear Stearn assets, etc., etc., were foregone by voluntary actions by public officials.
Make peace with the truth that there will be no sweeping prosecutions, least of all by the federal government of the USA.

[May 24, 2016] The CEO of Goldman Sachs accidentally explained why everyone hates Wall Street

Notable quotes:
"... want to follow the rules ..."
"... The only thing you can trust is that Goldman Sach's values don't include giving a damned about average Americans even if in Blankfein's delusional mind he is doing "Gods work. It would go a way toward restoring trust in the system if these rip off artists would consent to paying more taxes on their ill deserved gains in order to help bring down some of the nations debt and relieve the misery their unethical behavior created. But that will never happen voluntarily. Basically they are immoral creeps killing the golden goose that is our country. ..."
"... Run corruption out of DC and there will be much more trust of big business. Do not buy the garbage that politicians are critical of the Wall Street crowd. Has Hillary released her speeches yet? NO. Don't expect she ever will. (aside: I do not find this article informative, and I'm dismayed by the comments I've read here.) ..."
"... "I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. …corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed." ..."
"... The mass of Americans are too powerless to fight back against the reign of the money powers. As Lincoln predicted, our Republic is destroyed. What awaits us now is dictatorship or even worse ... theocracy. ..."
finance.yahoo.com

Brilliance is often accidental, and so it was at Goldman Sachs' annual meeting on Friday.

In an attempt to pinpoint exactly what's wrong with the global economy - why demand is weak, why growth is anemic, why jitters on one side of the planet can turn into panic all over - CEO Lloyd Blankfein happened upon why Wall Street is so hated.

It was, as I said, an accident.

Blankfein said that what the world needs now is confidence. In investment banking, when people are confident t here are "more financings, more equity raises, because people invest more money in their own businesses when they're confident," he said, according to Business Insider's Portia Crowe , who was on the scene.

This explanation sounds right. When people think they can make money they put their money to work.

The problem is that "confidence" doesn't go far enough. More than confidence, for people to invest in the world they have to trust in it - in the systems and people that make it work.

The fact that Blankfein missed that mark, though, explains exactly why people hate Wall Street.

The financial crisis, the scandals and the fraud and the dark headlines, have all helped erode that trust. And that lack of trust is what is holding the world back right now.

This is not a drill

Think of a simple trust-building exercise, the fall game. When you're the fall guy, you can be confident that everyone is going to catch you. That, after all, is how the game is completed. You have to believe that everyone understands the rules.

What's better than knowing that everyone understands the rules, though? Trusting that everyone around you is going to catch you - believing beyond a shadow of a doubt that they want to follow the rules .

That's the difference between trust and conviction. Trust is something you can rely on, beyond certainty.

Now one can operate in markets without trust, with only conviction.

Conviction doesn't demand that you, or anyone else, play by the rules, though. It just demands that you understand what's going on (and what motivates everyone around you) at all times. It's a daunting task that neither the common person nor Wall Street's all-seeing CEOs were able to accomplish before the financial crisis. It is, however, part of the latter's full-time job - mitigating risk, seeing the unforeseen.

Of course, some of that burden would be lifted if we operated on more trust and less conviction.

Your correspondent is hardly the only person thinking this way. This week, Andrew G. Haldane, chief economist of the Bank of England, gave an incredibly compelling speech on what's wrong with global economy. Unlike Blankfein, though, he got it right. The speech was called The Great Divide, and he argued that the only way to close that divide is with trust.

"Evidence has emerged, both micro and macro, to suggest trust may play a crucial role in value creation. At the micro level, there is now ample evidence the degree of trust or social capital within a company contributes positively to its value creation capacity," said Haldane.

"At the macro level, there is now a strong body of evidence, looking across a large range of countries and over long periods of time, that high levels of trust and co-operation are associated with higher economic growth. Put differently, a lack of trust jeopardizes one of finance's key societal functions - higher growth."

Watchers on the wall

Back in 2014, when the market was roaring and everyone thought we were on the road to recovery, Dylan Grice, a portfolio manager at Aeris Capital, put forth the same idea. He saw in declining relations between the US and China, between Russia and the world, and between citizens and corporations what could only be perceived as our descent into the trough of a cycle of trust.

And, as he pointed out, credit - one of the main forces for moving money from place to place - comes from the Latin word for trust.

Over at HSBC, economist Stephen King wrote a note called Unhappy Families: The Case for International Policy Coordination in which he argued that the global economy could actually be saved quite easily if we trusted each other. If the countries that could save us - the US, China, and Germany - acted unselfishly and in coordination and simply did.

But they won't, because there is no trust.

"Yet it would be easy, too easy, to point the finger at finance alone," Haldane said in his speech. "For this Great Divide exists not just between the financial elites, but between elites generally and wider society. It is not just bankers who have suffered a loss of public trust. In varying degrees, this is also true of big business, government and, yes, politicians and central banks."

Man, see this mirror

This brings us back to Goldman Sachs, which happened to have had a very embarrassing little incident last week when one of its analysts recommended buying Tesla just before the bank announced that it would be helping the automaker with an equity offering.

Business Insider's Myles Udland described why that looks shady:

The stock upgrade is a detailed argument for why you, the investors, should buy the shares. As a result, investors buy.

This report is delivered just as Goldman's sales force is about to hit the phones to push $1.4 billion of those very shares for a nice fat fee for Goldman and a dilutive hit to the shareholders.

So then there are investors who, based on Archambault's note, bought the shares in the morning only to learn by that afternoon that Goldman would have a hand in diluting their newly acquired ownership stake.

And the popular view says Goldman knew this was going to happen the whole time.

If you're thinking the worst, this snafu was a breach of Wall Street's famous Chinese Wall between research and investment banking. What's more, because of this trust deficit, most people were thinking the worst because that's what they do when they think of Goldman Sachs.

View gallery

. Goldman Vampire Squid
Lloyd on a vampire squid. Sorry bro, too easy.

And because of that some people don't trust, or put their money in, the market.

And because of that the market doesn't move.

Haldane sees this fear as a loss of social capital arising from the crisis.

"Social capital is inextricably linked to trust," he said in his speech. "And banking is quintessentially a trust business. At root, it involves swapping promises to pay. These promises rely on trust."

It's the belief that these promises will be kept that the market is lacking, not necessarily that they can be kept. This is the difference between trust and confidence. And with every scandal and fraud, every dark headline telling of financial ruin that comes from the financial sector, some of that trust is lost.

Haldane thinks that recreating the local bank, a bank with the kind of accountability that comes from knowing someone by name and looking them in the eye, is part of the solution. But banking isn't moving that way. Every day we hear about how it's becoming more automated.

He acknowledges this, recognizing that banking must "seek new ways to nurture generalized, or anonymous, trust on the part of the public. Technology may be a great enabler here."

But in the end it doesn't matter how we fix this. We just have to fix it.

"Whatever business model is adopted, success will hinge on whether the public have faith in banks pursuing a purpose aligned with their needs, that they are fulfilling their fiduciary function. There is a mountain to climb on this front, not just for banking but for business generally," he said.

"If not at an all-time low, public trust in big business is plumbing the depths. And the chorus of criticism of business is not confined to the general public. It is shared by politicians, academics, investors and indeed sometimes by companies themselves."

Everyone is holding on to their money. Everyone is trying to look someone the eye and finding their counterparties' gaze shifting to wherever self-interest guides them. The counterparties are confident they'll find money there, sure, but the trust that makes the market go around is being lost in the process.

It takes so much more to build it up than to break it down.

NOW WATCH: THE STORY OF GOLDMAN SACHS: From foot peddlers to a powerhouse

rey Q 25 minutes ago
GS, Chase ,BofA,Wells Fargo.....,and some others big banks created the crisis past 2008-09.

Any one of the executives pass a day in prison, they pay cents on the dollars and happy cumballa until the next scam. Gov it's corrupt with a "revolving door" infiltrating the key position, every official working in White House or with the executive branch did work for a big bank first or going to work after!!!

They want trust, trust they themselves self smash, hundreds of case in courts from US citizens right now vs Government Why?

Because Gov. trying to steal ,expropriating private property without compensation and ignoring constitution. The rest of the population are worring about what wearing Kardashian!!! Our next election will be a show top level globally!!! Our founding fathers will be revolting in their tombs for now

PhilOSophocle

What the world needs now --- is love, sweet love. It's the only thing that there's just too little of, or so Burt Bacharach, Hal David & Jackie DeShannon said. But seriously folks . . . people hate Wall Street because of the unbridled greed everywhere. The Great Recession wasn't caused by real estate speculation --- it was caused by easy money from Wall Street when they packaged together risky mortgages & investment bankers sold them to banks as great investments, and then betting on them to fail on the side using Credit Default Swaps. It's very similar to what Joe Kennedy and his cronies did in the 1920's using market manipulation by cornering stocks & then doing a bear raid on it, which is illegal now. What the Wall Streeters did in 2000-2007 is still not illegal.

ey02kdv98

I agree. Trust needs to be restored. This requires Wall Street firms to be honest, and to weed out the greedy, psychopathic and sociopathic brokers, bankers, CEOs and chiefs, and assorted other criminals. By running firms honestly to a fault, investors would at first shy away because they'd think it was some kind of trick. Over a short period, good experiences will increase business to the point that it would exceed current sales many times over, even beyond your wildest imagination. There is a lot of $$$$$$$$$$$$ to be made in honestly run business. It's never to late to start.

Mark14

The only thing you can trust is that Goldman Sach's values don't include giving a damned about average Americans even if in Blankfein's delusional mind he is doing "Gods work. It would go a way toward restoring trust in the system if these rip off artists would consent to paying more taxes on their ill deserved gains in order to help bring down some of the nations debt and relieve the misery their unethical behavior created. But that will never happen voluntarily. Basically they are immoral creeps killing the golden goose that is our country.

DavBG

The repeal of Glass Stegal (which Roosevelt put in place after the last great depression) which prevented banks from investing depositors money in the stock market, is the root cause here. Banks were only allowed to make loans on real property, like businesses and mortgages. This put the money in savings back to work. Money placed in the house of cards, ponzi scheme, stock market, just sits there. Like a giant sponge sucking up the spare capital so that a 1% few can reap the benefit. Then insiders can cause booms and busts which slowly siphon the life out of a country and enslave it. The mortgage rate is now the lowest it has ever been in the US. Now with everyone's money in the stock market the next crash will bankrupt us since all the banks will have is worthless paper stock certificates.

Rp

Trust is not created through slick marketing and strategic press releases about speeches made by banking insiders, to other insiders, intended to convince those outside their cozy system, that they get it now, no more underhanded dealings, really this time, partners 50-50. We promise, no fingers crossed, everything above board from now on, you can trust us, really this time. That bs is played out, to ask for trust, is to confirm the fact that they should not, can not, be trusted. Trust, if it ever returns, to any degree, in any form, will be created by the numbers. The real numbers. The ones written under our names. The ones that stick. Trust is not a marketing concept, it can't be put where it doesn't belong, it can't grow where it isn't planted, protected, and nurtured.

Pat

Wall Street manipulators could not succeed without the complicity of Government. STOP REGULATING WALL STREET AND START DEMANDING THAT POLITICIANS CANNOT BE CONTROLLED BY LOBBYISTS. There should be a law that politicians bought by lobbyists WILL be prosecuted. It is Government that is guilty of capitulation. GOVERNMENT WRITES THE LAWS AND THE TAX CODES.

Run corruption out of DC and there will be much more trust of big business. Do not buy the garbage that politicians are critical of the Wall Street crowd. Has Hillary released her speeches yet? NO. Don't expect she ever will. (aside: I do not find this article informative, and I'm dismayed by the comments I've read here.)

Freethinker

It's so simple: the bank robbers have been given (or have taken) the combination to the bank vault and looted it. Then they were given raises and bonuses for this heist.

Doubt me? That canny corporate lawyer Abraham Lincoln anticipate our modern condition as far back as 1864, when he wrote:

"I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. …corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed."

The mass of Americans are too powerless to fight back against the reign of the money powers. As Lincoln predicted, our Republic is destroyed. What awaits us now is dictatorship or even worse ... theocracy.


[May 20, 2016] Three-quarters of people in households making less than 50K a year and two-thirds of those making between 50K and 100K would have difficulty coming up with 1K to cover an unexpected bill

Notable quotes:
"... Three-quarters of people in households making less than $50,000 a year and two-thirds of those making between $50,000 and $100,000 would have difficulty coming up with $1,000 to cover an unexpected bill. ..."
"... I have known personally some of those types; they tend to be all about winning at all costs, and then act all surprised when the game is ruined for everyone else. Generally they call it "sour grapes" instead of considering their own behavior. ..."
"... Class Warfare – http://www.reuters.com/article/us-pope-slavery-idUSKCN0YA1GQ ..."
www.nakedcapitalism.com
allan , May 19, 2016 at 3:24 pm

Two-thirds of US would struggle to cover $1,000 crisis [AP]

Two-thirds of Americans would have difficulty coming up with the money to cover a $1,000 emergency, according to an exclusive poll released Thursday, a signal that despite years after the Great Recession, Americans' finances remain precarious as ever.

These difficulties span all incomes, according to the poll conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Three-quarters of people in households making less than $50,000 a year and two-thirds of those making between $50,000 and $100,000 would have difficulty coming up with $1,000 to cover an unexpected bill.

Even for the country's wealthiest 20 percent - households making more than $100,000 a year - 38 percent say they would have at least some difficulty coming up with $1,000. …

Surely there must be a fintech solution.

inode_buddha , May 19, 2016 at 10:45 pm

I think the real issue isn't so much about being able to come up with $1000 as it is the reasons why: the lower and working classes never had that much to begin with, any increase was swiped by the upper class. And the upper class is in a Death-race 2000 to out do each other, keeping up with the Joneses via corporate methods.

I have known personally some of those types; they tend to be all about winning at all costs, and then act all surprised when the game is ruined for everyone else. Generally they call it "sour grapes" instead of considering their own behavior.

Gretchen Outre , May 19, 2016 at 6:27 pm

Class Warfare – http://www.reuters.com/article/us-pope-slavery-idUSKCN0YA1GQ

[May 20, 2016] Worlds of Inequality

Notable quotes:
"... Also claims as such do a slight of hand and imply that the world economy is a zero sum. So for the people living on $2/day to improve their lot the people in the wealthy countries need to give up wealth. IE, the current system is working for everyone but you which means you're a loser who needs to STFU. ..."
"... It really is a "zero sum game" to some extent, given that the economy, local or global, is finite at any point in time. However, the "winners" (can you really call bandits winners?) are the global plutocracy, who have sucked up almost all economic gains for more than 30 years. ..."
economistsview.typepad.com
Travel day -- will post more later if and when I can.

This is a review of Branko Milanovic's "Global Inequality: A New Approach for the Age of Globalization" by Miles Corak:

Worlds of Inequality, The American Prospect : This book begins by posing a question: "Who has gained from globalization?" Many thoughtful Americans have the confidence to answer in a sentence. The gains have been captured by the top 1 percent. And the book ends with another question: "Will inequality disappear as globalization continues?" Many might be just as quick to answer: Of course not, the rich will get richer! But life is not so simple. Between these two questions Branko Milanovic offers us not just a plethora of facts about income inequality that will surely make his readers think twice. More importantly, he shows us the power of bringing the facts into focus by putting a new lens over these pressing issues-a global perspective. ...
The most striking fact that motivates his book is a graph that the Twittersphere has already termed "the elephant curve." This is the one-sentence, or rather one-picture, answer to the first question: "The gains from globalization are not evenly distributed." ...
Clearly evident are the rise of a global middle class, in some important measure reflecting the great march out of poverty in China, and the equally amazing rise in the incomes of the top 1 percent globally. The winners of globalization were many people who three decades ago were dirt-poor, and though a big percentage increase in a very low income still amounts to a rather low income by the standards of the average person in the rich countries, it is a major movement in the right direction. But the great winners of globalization were also a relatively few people in the already-rich countries, a global plutocracy who also experienced income gains of over 50 percent, but from a much higher starting point. Both of these changes are without precedent in the history of humanity.

But the elephant curve also shows that even though some have gained, others have not seen their prospects improve at all-indeed, probably leading lives of more insecurity and more worry, not just about their prospects but also the prospects of their children. The big losers in these global income sweepstakes have been middle- and lower-income people of the rich countries...

DrDick : , Wednesday, May 18, 2016 at 06:27 AM

That book is on my shelf for my summer reading. I would add, as implied in the review, that most of the decline in global inequality (between countries) has come from the decrease in the number of people living on $2/day or less, though their incomes remain very low. In contrast, within country inequality has increased globally.
Gibbon -> DrDick... , Wednesday, May 18, 2016 at 09:56 PM
That average poorness is decreasing while people in the first world lose ground reminds me of the Simpson's paradox.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simpson's_paradox

Also claims as such do a slight of hand and imply that the world economy is a zero sum. So for the people living on $2/day to improve their lot the people in the wealthy countries need to give up wealth. IE, the current system is working for everyone but you which means you're a loser who needs to STFU.

DrDick -> Gibbon ... , -1
It really is a "zero sum game" to some extent, given that the economy, local or global, is finite at any point in time. However, the "winners" (can you really call bandits winners?) are the global plutocracy, who have sucked up almost all economic gains for more than 30 years.

[May 20, 2016] Gerald Friedman: How the Dogmatic Despair of Mainstream Economists Brought You Donald Trump

Notable quotes:
"... By Gerald Friedman, Professor of Economics, University of Massachusetts, Amherst. A version of this post first appeared at the Institute for New Economic Thinking website ..."
"... Lesser Depression ..."
"... The reason why elite economists and politicians were so angry at my analysis of Sanders' proposals was that it disrupted a consensus that nothing can be done by government to improve the performance of the economy. After all, if things are already as good as they can be, it is irresponsible pie-in-the-sky to even suggest to the general public that we can do better. Instead, the task of economists and other policy elites becomes to explain to the general public why they should accept stagnant incomes and rising inequality, and applaud the anemic growth of recent years as the best possible outcome. But the real danger of such thinking is that it leaves liberals like Hillary Clinton with few policy options to offer in response to the siren song of demagogues like Donald Trump. The self-proclaimed "responsible" elite economists see their role as to persuade the public that nothing can be done, in the hope of heading off the challenge of those who would capitalize on the electorate's appetite for change. They have to slap down critics. "Responsible" elite economists have to keep the party of "good arithmetic" from overpromising at all costs. It should not surprise us, though, that those whose living standards have suffered most from stagnant growth are more inclined to believe politicians promising change. ..."
"... John Maynard Keynes showed how active government policy can raise employment and output; his followers, including Joan Robinson and Nicholas Kaldor, showed how full employment encourages further investments and leads businesses to find ways to raise labor productivity to match increasing product demand. New Deal American economists, such as Rexford Tugwell and John Maurice Clark, showed how active government policy can raise growth rates with investments in infrastructure, in public services, in human capital development, and in research and development. By listening to these ideas, economists associated with liberal American politics helped produce 25 years of relatively rapid and egalitarian growth after World War II. Abandoning these ideas, we have suffered 30 years of relatively slow growth and rising inequality, culminating in the current Lesser Depression. ..."
"... I had dinner last night with two excellent people who happen to be doing well at this time. They could not comprehend why anyone would be voting for Trump, whom they saw as a dangerous lunatic. They have supported Sanders and voted for him in the NY primary, but are absolutely going to vote for Clinton in the Fall. What I view as the credible case against Clinton has not reached them with any strength or registered at all. I was asked (because I had said nothing while they talked–I hate this kind of confrontation) what problem people could have with Hillary? I said: Libya, Ukraine, and Nicaragua. They really didn't know what I was talking about and although I spoke up for why I thought this made her a neocon like the ones that surrounded Dubya, they simply didn't know any of the details and we left it at that. ..."
"... HRC's recap of Reaganite Latin America policy is her most vile achievement. If anything demonstrates a continuity of imperialist strategy across administrations, that's it. ..."
"... " I said: Libya, Ukraine, and Nicaragua. They really didn't know what I was talking about and although I spoke up for why I thought this made her a neocon like the ones that surrounded Dubya, they simply didn't know any of the details and we left it at that." ..."
"... I run into this all the time. Utter and complete foreign policy illiteracy, particularly from otherwise politically correct millennials who know so little that Hillary gets a complete pass. ..."
"... This is a common story and illustrates that our current detachment from the world around us and our fellow citizens is coming to an end. We are being forced out of our individual bubbles. Modern corporations have supplied the populations of the world with abundance of goods, but in order to accomplish this feat, have destroyed and are destroying the cultural glue, if you will, that holds society together. ..."
"... TINA will be maintained by propaganda and physical force. We see that the propaganda is starting to weaken because the contradictions of the message can no longer be hidden. The destruction is too widespread and the inequality can no longer be hidden. You can hollow out a social system only so much before it collapses. The collapses we are witnessing is the promise of democracy. A collapse of the ideals of moderation and compromise. ..."
"... We are entering a phase of civil war. It is still carried out in a polite manner and intellectually, the discussion is still couched in Orwellian doublespeak. However, criticisms of the ruling elite are becoming more straightforward and more people are waking up to the fact that the system is rigged against them. ..."
"... This civil war is a battle over leadership. It is a battle to demand good government instead of no government. It is a battle to demand a government for and by the people. A battle for the common good. Evaluated not in some abstract terms like "trickle down" economics, but direct support and action. The hearts and minds of the population was won over long ago to wholeheartedly support capitalism and private ownership of the world's resources. This is proving to be a disaster. ..."
"... Supporters of unfettered capitalism know only one way. Privatization of ALL the worlds resources and potential. They showed their hand in 2008 with the bailouts and implementation of austerity policies. In their minds, there is no turning back. To compromise means failure. For them, TINA is real and logical. This is the perspective of owners of capital. They gain strength and advantage from seeming to compromise, but in the end know they can always reverse course and regain private control. Subterfuge and force allows the resilience of capitalism as the reigning social order. ..."
"... Jonathan Haidt is a psychologist, sometimes featured in the New York Times, who apparently believes the capability of people to be convinced by reasoned argument is not strong. From my limited reading of his work, he suggests that humans are instinctive beings who, when they have strong beliefs, their reasoning powers are used to justify these beliefs, not to cast doubt about these beliefs. ..."
"... For example, I believe HRC is little more than a well-connected and well traveled mediocrity, with a record of few positives and many egregious negatives that justifies this assessment. I view her as potentially more damaging to the USA, as President, than Trump. ..."
"... Successful big ideas and big projects require cheap abundant energy, resources and intelligent design. It'll be mighty funny when the Keynesians finally implement their plan to overhaul the national highway infrastructure, creating tons of high paying jobs and speeding up the economy–right when our access to cheap oil collapses. That's dumb design at its finest, yet this sort of thing is almost certainly the best that the lobotomized Keynesian planners will be able to think up and do. ..."
"... A truly innovative program to get the economy moving in a positive direction would be to outlaw personal vehicles and rebuild the nation's railway network. ..."
"... I share your antipathy toward freeways. I remember the big Freeway they built in Fresno when I was a child, destroying hundreds, if not thousands of modest homes (we had to move from a grand rental to a dilapidated house that cost more – were the landlords behind getting rid of a surplus of houses????) – to save maybe – maybe at the most 3 minutes in transit time over driving an existing surface street. Jobs were part of the rationale. ..."
"... "Sorry, nothing more can be done for you." TINA. ..."
"... "How can I help you today?" ..."
May 19, 2016 | nakedcapitalism.com

By Gerald Friedman, Professor of Economics, University of Massachusetts, Amherst. A version of this post first appeared at the Institute for New Economic Thinking website

The ferocious reaction to my assessment that Senator Bernie Sanders' economic and health care proposals could create long-term economic growth shows how mainstream economists who view themselves as politically liberal in America have abandoned progressive politics to embrace a political economy of despair. Rationalizing personal disappointment and embracing market-centric economic theories according to which government can do little more than fuss around the edges, their conclusions - and the political leadership that embraces them - have little to offer millions of angry ordinary people for whom the economy simply isn't working.

It has certainly been a rough seven years for the economists in the Obama Administration. While avoiding a Great Depression, the Administration has presided over what Paul Krugman and Brad DeLong call a " Lesser Depression ." One might almost forgive them for a certain defeatism after seven years of painfully slow economic recovery, and the dismay of seeing urgently needed programs blocked by the Republican congressional majority. After so many compromises and let-downs, perhaps it is easier to tell those who expect more that it just can't happen. There is comfort in the Thatcherite phrase, "There Is No Alternative" (TINA).

Combined with orthodox neoclassical microeconomics, however, rationalization has produced a toxic political economy that abandons progressive ideals and surrenders political space to xenophobes and the populist rightwing (see: Donald Trump). The mainstream economists who have attacked my embrace of Keynesian economics have abandoned, in practice, the notion that government can effectively intervene in the economy to raise levels of employment, and to promote economic growth and equity. Instead, they have returned to pre-Keynesian Classical thinking, where the very suggestion that government action can raise growth rates or wages is taken to be obviously wrong. Criticisms of the orthodox model and its conservative policies are deemed worthy of scorn, to be dismissed tout court because they are obviously at variance not only with textbook economics, but with what we need to believe in order to accept failure .

The mechanism of economic policy paralysis among the liberals who espouse market-centric economics works like this: If we accept the (flawed) premise that the total supply of goods and services equals total demand, then we can agree with the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) that potential output is best measured by observing actual output. And, with that - presto! - unemployment magically disappears, and we no longer suffer from slow growth. Conveniently align growth projections with the otherwise-disappointing performance during the Lesser Depression, and, as the CBO has done, estimates of potential growth now equal actual growth: Instead of the 3 percent average annual growth of the 1959-2007 period, not to mention the 4 percent growth 1947-73, we are now told to accept 2 percent growth not as a disappointment, but as recognition of an unfortunate necessity. Such reevaluations say to policy elites, "Hey, we are doing as well as can be expected." To the general public, the message is: "Sorry, nothing more can be done for you." TINA.

The reason why elite economists and politicians were so angry at my analysis of Sanders' proposals was that it disrupted a consensus that nothing can be done by government to improve the performance of the economy. After all, if things are already as good as they can be, it is irresponsible pie-in-the-sky to even suggest to the general public that we can do better. Instead, the task of economists and other policy elites becomes to explain to the general public why they should accept stagnant incomes and rising inequality, and applaud the anemic growth of recent years as the best possible outcome. But the real danger of such thinking is that it leaves liberals like Hillary Clinton with few policy options to offer in response to the siren song of demagogues like Donald Trump. The self-proclaimed "responsible" elite economists see their role as to persuade the public that nothing can be done, in the hope of heading off the challenge of those who would capitalize on the electorate's appetite for change. They have to slap down critics. "Responsible" elite economists have to keep the party of "good arithmetic" from overpromising at all costs. It should not surprise us, though, that those whose living standards have suffered most from stagnant growth are more inclined to believe politicians promising change.

It was only by rejecting classical economics that Franklin Roosevelt was able to save the American economy and bring about a revolution in social policy. And only by rejecting the new classical economics and the policy of so-called responsible elite economists can Clinton meet our current economic crisis.

John Maynard Keynes showed how active government policy can raise employment and output; his followers, including Joan Robinson and Nicholas Kaldor, showed how full employment encourages further investments and leads businesses to find ways to raise labor productivity to match increasing product demand. New Deal American economists, such as Rexford Tugwell and John Maurice Clark, showed how active government policy can raise growth rates with investments in infrastructure, in public services, in human capital development, and in research and development. By listening to these ideas, economists associated with liberal American politics helped produce 25 years of relatively rapid and egalitarian growth after World War II. Abandoning these ideas, we have suffered 30 years of relatively slow growth and rising inequality, culminating in the current Lesser Depression.

The debate over my little report showed how mainstream economics has left us with a smugly certain macroeconomics lacking in imagination, and offering no effective policies to move beyond economic stagnation and escalating inequality. If these economists cannot do better, then we risk more than personal disappointment; we gamble our liberal political economy against the likes of Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. Hillary Clinton can do better. And Americans deserve better.

James Levy , May 19, 2016 at 6:31 am

A very bold thing for a man like this to say. I know he will be criticized (vilified?) for his misplaced belief that Clinton can "do better", but considering who this man is and where he is coming from, condemning him at this stage of the game would be churlish. He's taken on The Bigs and the stifling orthodoxy they embody and for that we owe him.

I had dinner last night with two excellent people who happen to be doing well at this time. They could not comprehend why anyone would be voting for Trump, whom they saw as a dangerous lunatic. They have supported Sanders and voted for him in the NY primary, but are absolutely going to vote for Clinton in the Fall. What I view as the credible case against Clinton has not reached them with any strength or registered at all. I was asked (because I had said nothing while they talked–I hate this kind of confrontation) what problem people could have with Hillary? I said: Libya, Ukraine, and Nicaragua. They really didn't know what I was talking about and although I spoke up for why I thought this made her a neocon like the ones that surrounded Dubya, they simply didn't know any of the details and we left it at that.

so , May 19, 2016 at 7:10 am

Sad. There is them and there are us. Empathy. Hard to have when your busy all the time.

jsn , May 19, 2016 at 7:16 am

I've had many similar recent encounters. I find that if I ask for a positive reason to vote Clinton, the first three or four reasons they raise can be dismissed by single phrase references to past betrayals, Sister Solja, End of Welfare, Nafta etc. and the next few by scandals, Lewensky or what should be scandals as you mentioned. As a rule after four or five tries I get to watch them self censor before each subsequent try and don't have to make any negative claims myself.

I doubt I've changed minds, but they no longer doubt mine.

Torsten , May 19, 2016 at 7:54 am

I would have first pointed to Honduras. And Haiti:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-partisan/wp/2016/03/10/hillary-clinton-needs-to-answer-for-her-actions-in-honduras-and-haiti/

What did she do in Nicaragua?

hemeantwell , May 19, 2016 at 8:01 am

I think that was a slip, but an historically correct one I can completely sympathize with.

HRC's recap of Reaganite Latin America policy is her most vile achievement. If anything demonstrates a continuity of imperialist strategy across administrations, that's it.

bowserhead , May 19, 2016 at 8:46 am

" I said: Libya, Ukraine, and Nicaragua. They really didn't know what I was talking about and although I spoke up for why I thought this made her a neocon like the ones that surrounded Dubya, they simply didn't know any of the details and we left it at that."

I run into this all the time. Utter and complete foreign policy illiteracy, particularly from otherwise politically correct millennials who know so little that Hillary gets a complete pass.

Norb , May 19, 2016 at 9:01 am

This is a common story and illustrates that our current detachment from the world around us and our fellow citizens is coming to an end. We are being forced out of our individual bubbles. Modern corporations have supplied the populations of the world with abundance of goods, but in order to accomplish this feat, have destroyed and are destroying the cultural glue, if you will, that holds society together.

TINA will be maintained by propaganda and physical force. We see that the propaganda is starting to weaken because the contradictions of the message can no longer be hidden. The destruction is too widespread and the inequality can no longer be hidden. You can hollow out a social system only so much before it collapses. The collapses we are witnessing is the promise of democracy. A collapse of the ideals of moderation and compromise.

We are entering a phase of civil war. It is still carried out in a polite manner and intellectually, the discussion is still couched in Orwellian doublespeak. However, criticisms of the ruling elite are becoming more straightforward and more people are waking up to the fact that the system is rigged against them.

This civil war is a battle over leadership. It is a battle to demand good government instead of no government. It is a battle to demand a government for and by the people. A battle for the common good. Evaluated not in some abstract terms like "trickle down" economics, but direct support and action. The hearts and minds of the population was won over long ago to wholeheartedly support capitalism and private ownership of the world's resources. This is proving to be a disaster.

Supporters of unfettered capitalism know only one way. Privatization of ALL the worlds resources and potential. They showed their hand in 2008 with the bailouts and implementation of austerity policies. In their minds, there is no turning back. To compromise means failure. For them, TINA is real and logical. This is the perspective of owners of capital. They gain strength and advantage from seeming to compromise, but in the end know they can always reverse course and regain private control. Subterfuge and force allows the resilience of capitalism as the reigning social order.

I bring up the notion of a civil war because these ideas are too important to be left to chance. In America, the citizenry has been complacent with their lot in life and so have lost control over their fate. As the world changes around them, they desperately attempt to hold onto their position while not realizing they are supporting their own impoverishment. Speaking ideas of the common good -for ALL- and notions of public ownership of land, natural resources, citizens natural rights to jobs, basic income, and healthcare divide family and friends. Those who are comfortable don't want to cause trouble and those feeling the pressures brought down upon them by an unrelenting system are too weak and fearful to act.

In a sense, the revolution has already begun. It is the revolution to convince people that there is a better and different way to live our lives.

John Wright , May 19, 2016 at 10:11 am

Jonathan Haidt is a psychologist, sometimes featured in the New York Times, who apparently believes the capability of people to be convinced by reasoned argument is not strong. From my limited reading of his work, he suggests that humans are instinctive beings who, when they have strong beliefs, their reasoning powers are used to justify these beliefs, not to cast doubt about these beliefs.

This can explain why attempting to convince someone to change their political/religious beliefs is fated to be largely futile.

For example, I believe HRC is little more than a well-connected and well traveled mediocrity, with a record of few positives and many egregious negatives that justifies this assessment. I view her as potentially more damaging to the USA, as President, than Trump.

Per Haidt, maybe my beliefs are instinctive and I am willfully blind to all of Clinton's accomplishments over the last 40 years.

human , May 19, 2016 at 10:48 am

ROTFLMAO

david s , May 19, 2016 at 6:51 am

I think that if there are to be any Keynesian big ideas and projects that will help lift us out of this stagnation, they will much more likely come from a Trump Administration than a Clinton one.

jgordon , May 19, 2016 at 7:47 am

Successful big ideas and big projects require cheap abundant energy, resources and intelligent design. It'll be mighty funny when the Keynesians finally implement their plan to overhaul the national highway infrastructure, creating tons of high paying jobs and speeding up the economy–right when our access to cheap oil collapses. That's dumb design at its finest, yet this sort of thing is almost certainly the best that the lobotomized Keynesian planners will be able to think up and do.

A truly innovative program to get the economy moving in a positive direction would be to outlaw personal vehicles and rebuild the nation's railway network. But this society isn't even anywhere close to having something so useful on its agenda. So we'll do some Keynesian program, funnel the few remaining resources we have left down into some stupid dead end rathole, and then in a couple of years we'll be envious here in America of the extravagant lifestyles that the Mexicans are leading. Hell Trump's wall will be a lot more useful keeping the Mexicans in who are trying to flee. That is the end result of Keynesian programs in a delusional society with bass-ackward priorities. Way more harm than good.

fresno dan , May 19, 2016 at 10:11 am

I share your antipathy toward freeways. I remember the big Freeway they built in Fresno when I was a child, destroying hundreds, if not thousands of modest homes (we had to move from a grand rental to a dilapidated house that cost more – were the landlords behind getting rid of a surplus of houses????) – to save maybe – maybe at the most 3 minutes in transit time over driving an existing surface street. Jobs were part of the rationale.

I have been gone 20 years, and they had gone on a real freeway building tear while I was gone. The whole city crisscrossed with freeways laid out as if someone had thrown a bowl of spaghetti on a map – apparently so every neighborhood can enjoy the sound of traffic.

Really, Fresno is just not that physically big to justify all these freeways. And with its high unemployment and no real "center" there aren't any places with traffic congestion anyway – but you get these dubious justifications that millions of dollars are wasted because an implausible auto trip is 4 minutes longer without the freeway….

david s , May 19, 2016 at 6:55 am

There seems to be a developing narrative that the Obama Administration has just been brimming with big ideas that have been thwarted by evil Republicans.

I don't remember it this way. I do remember an Obama Administration that turned to austerity shortly after the 2009 stimulus, and one that has been patting itself on the back all along about what a great job it has done.

"All across America, families are tightening their belts and making hard choices. Now, Washington must show that same sense of responsibility."
President Obama, April 2009(!)

Akronite , May 19, 2016 at 7:56 am

Now that the pictures we snapped of Obama are finally beginning to develop, where we thought we had photographed his lush jungle, we're now seeing just a single thin sapling planted for "the future." And Clinton will soon have a picture of her snapped at this sad tree, with her big lying smile.

hemeantwell , May 19, 2016 at 8:09 am

I don't think Friedman is saying this, unless Rex Tugwell has been secretly disinterred and is serving under Obama. The capitalist ideological counteroffensive that got going in the 70s has been hegemonically successful. Friedman doesn't acknowledge that enough, he instead focuses on what sounds more like disciplinary politics.

flora , May 19, 2016 at 8:22 am

Great post. Thanks.

JLCG , May 19, 2016 at 8:26 am

This type of article or perhaps, all articles about the Economy, deal with the Economy as a substance to which people are appended as accidents. The economy is the sum total of the effort of the people and if the people think that enjoying this very present is preferable to an effort to build a future nothing can be done about it. It is the mind of the people that has to be changed. Wars are very good mechanisms for that.

Carla , May 19, 2016 at 9:14 am

I can't remember if I got this link from an NC comment, or elsewhere. In any case, it's a scary read: "The 14 Defining Characteristics of Facism," augmented by a selection from "They Thought They Were Free." http://rense.com/general37/fascism.htm

Brings Obama and HRC to mind just as much as Trump, if not more.

sinbad66 , May 19, 2016 at 10:05 am

Read "Democracy, Incorporated" by Sheldon Wolin: http://www.amazon.com/Democracy-Incorporated-Managed-Inverted-Totalitarianism/dp/069114589X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1463666525&sr=8-1&keywords=democracy+incorporated

Explains it all….

fresno dan , May 19, 2016 at 9:57 am

"The ferocious reaction to my assessment that Senator Bernie Sanders' economic and health care proposals could create long-term economic growth shows how mainstream economists who view themselves as politically liberal in America have abandoned progressive politics to embrace a political economy of despair."
==========================

Here is the problem: "a political economy of despair" – accepting that economists are a real objective academic discipline is a BIG mistake – the idea that these technocrats, who never seem to recognize how much fraud, rent seeking, and capture of the political system
((because the people paying them don't WANT THEM TO)),
decides things like how much inequality there is, which than decides how much demand there is, and NOT knowing, and apparently NOT WANTING TO KNOW, that it is a POLITICAL economy, and politics decides how resources are often allocated.
We can have single payer heath care if we choose it and free college education (it wasn't all that long ago that I went to a CA college essentially for free). HOW is it college used to be free when GDP was less than 1/6 of what it is now??????
It just doesn't make sense that we used to be able to afford free college and we can't now. It is a POLITICAL decision – when Krugman says Sanders plan is "too expensive" Krugman is making a political decision – not some objective scientific assessment. And if he is not even smart enough to ponder why it used to be free and it is not free now – well, theres your problem right there!

Punxsutawney , May 19, 2016 at 10:22 am

Nice to see this article. When I talk about economics, most people who know anything, only know what someone on TV tells them, so they often question, well who agrees with you? Nice to have another name to list.

And then…

"Sorry, nothing more can be done for you." TINA.

Of course for those at the tippy-top, "How can I help you today?"

[May 20, 2016] Goldman Responds To Goldman's Stock Offering of A Goldman-Upgraded Tesla Zero Hedge

www.zerohedge.com

Goldman Responds To Goldman's Stock Offering of A Goldman-Upgraded Tesla

Submitted by Tyler Durden on 05/19/2016 09:59 -0400

  • Chinese Wall
  • Investor Sentiment
  • Restricted Stock
  • Twitter
  • Twitter
  • In what many considered to be a flagrantly criminal abuse of investment bank "restricted lists", yesterday Goldman underwrote a $2 billion equity offering for Tesla (to find its amusing expansion strategy) just hours after Goldman upgraded the stock to a Buy.

    We have done our best to alert the regulators...

    Hey @SEC_News here it is in terms even you can understand pic.twitter.com/Yprw3GZDMm

    - zerohedge (@zerohedge) May 18, 2016

    Hey @GoldmanSachs do you use restricted lists and was Tesla on it?

    - zerohedge (@zerohedge) May 18, 2016

    ... however we are confident the regulators are paid far better to remain unalerted.

    So for those curious what Goldman's research analyst who upgraded Tesla, Patrick Archambault, had to say about this "odd, very odd coincidence", here it is straight from the mouth of the horse which obviously remains stabled safely on the other side of the Chinese wall located at 200 West.

    Commentary: Tesla announces equity offering and provides further details on Model 3 reservations

    News

    After the close on May 18, Tesla announced a 6.8mn primary share offering. The offering includes a greenshoe option which, if exercised, would increase the number of shares sold to approximately 8.2mn. Based on the May 18 closing price of $211.17, this would result in a total value of $1.4bn for the offering, or $1.7bn if the greenshoe option is exercised. In addition, Elon Musk, CEO, will sell 2.8mn shares to satisfy tax implications from exercising 5.5mn in stock options that expire at year-end. The company noted that Mr. Musk also plans to donate 1.2mn shares to charity and that the net result of these actions will be to increase his holdings to 31.1mn shares from 29.6mn. All said, based on the latest closing share price and including the primary offering, greenshoe, and Mr. Musk's sale, the total size of the transactions would be $2.3bn.

    In the preliminary prospectus, the company also provided an update on Model 3 reservations and announced that it had 373k deposits as of May 15, 2016. This is net of 8k (approx. 2% of total) in customer cancelations and 4.2k (approx. 1% of total) reservations deemed to be duplicates.

    Implications

    Adjusting for the announced transaction and the supplemental stock options outstanding, and for restricted stock units (RSU) information, our EPS estimates would be unchanged for 2016-2017. Including the greenshoe, our 2016-2017 EPS estimates would decline by less than 1% on average.

    Our take

    We maintain our Buy rating and EPS estimates following the announcement . Additionally, our 6-month price target of $250 remains unchanged, derived from five probability-weighted automotive scenarios plus stationary storage optionality , all of which embed a 20% cost of capital. While the announced capital raise of $1.4bn (or $1.7bn with the greenshoe) is ultimately higher than our $1bn estimate, after factoring in the updated supplemental RSU and option information, dilution to our estimates would be immaterial. Consistent with our previously published research (see Putting in our reservation for the Model 3; upgrading TSLA to Buy, May 18) we believe the funding level is adequate for the Tesla Model 3 roll-out. The reservations of 373k are in line with the company's recent comments of "approaching 400k", though they imply slowing growth (even adding back the cancellation and duplicates) as reservations had already hit 325k one week after the Model 3 unveil.

    Risks: Decline in overall investor sentiment impacting the appetite for concept stocks, further delays in the Model X production ramp which could force a guidance reduction as well as exacerbate FCF burn, and higher-than-forecast operating expenses and/or capex investments.

    Actually the biggest risk factor, and what is most hilarious about this whole incident is that in the Goldman upgrade, which was clearly rushed, and in which Goldman itself admitted there is a two-thirds likelihood the stock will plunge to $125 or lower and the only upside is due to a "key man provision" and a ridiculous thesis that Musk alone is worth tens of billions in market cap (somehow excluding tens of billions in taxpayer grants)...

    ... is that all those who bought TSLA on the Goldman report (and/or Goldman stock offering) will actually read it.

    A Pimp's love i...

    God's Work

    greenskeeper carl , Thu, 05/19/2016 - 10:04

    Would it really be that surprising if it did hit 250? I wouldn't be the least bit surprised. It makes no sense where it is now, another 20% up would be par for the course for this "market". It's probably just more muppet slaying by Goldman, but I could see them releasing those cars that will of course get stellar reviews and have a full retard price spike. Dumber shit has happened.

    ParkAveFlasher , Thu, 05/19/2016 - 10:04

    "It feels good, doesn't it Muppet? You want more, don't you?!"

    Stackers , Thu, 05/19/2016 - 10:11

    ZH is dead on. This is CFA Level 1 stuff.

    http://www.investopedia.com/exam-guide/cfa-level-1/ethics-standards/stan...

    How to Comply
    The Standards of Practice Handbook provides a number of operational suggestions that one should recommend for adoption by the compliance department.

    Establish a restricted list - This is to limit research on those firms that have a business relationship with that company. If an adverse opinion would hurt this business relationship, the company stock should be restricted from the research universe, and only factual information on the company should be disseminated.

    TradingIsLifeBrah , Thu, 05/19/2016 - 10:14

    I bet Goldman believes its valuation is "factual" lol

    OrangeJews , Thu, 05/19/2016 - 11:22

    The worst part in my opinion is that by keeping Musk going makes him look like a God to all of the sheeple when in reality he's just using other people's money and other people's ideas to become famous. Basically the definition of the current United States.

    JamaicaJim , Thu, 05/19/2016 - 10:23

    Ah yes...Pacino.....in one of his finest works....plus excellent writing....

    His God speech;

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RGR4SFOimlk

    asteroids , Thu, 05/19/2016 - 10:23

    Obviously something is broken. It's up to the SEC to act. If it doesn't then the SEC is broken. If the SEC is broken then it's up to .....

    ShorTed , Thu, 05/19/2016 - 10:24

    Yes something is broken... must be the porn filters at the SEC again. Don't expect people who's future (once they pass thru the revolving door) depends on them not finding any malfeasance, to do the right thing.

    JamaicaJim , Thu, 05/19/2016 - 10:10

    Goldman Sucks Ass should be Lehman-nized

    Shut Down

    Arrests made

    Convictions

    Lengthy prison senten.....

    ...wha.....huh.....I was having a dream?

    FUCK!

    quadraspleen , Thu, 05/19/2016 - 11:09

    Yeah. Dreaming. I actually spat water at "arrests made"

    Dream on

    nibiru , Thu, 05/19/2016 - 10:10

    Everything i in order guys, don't worry it's temporary technical glitches... carry on, nothing to see here. Oh and sell gold! Listen to Gartman!

    TradingIsLifeBrah , Thu, 05/19/2016 - 10:11

    They should have added in a 1% chance that TSLA goes to $1,000,000,000 per share to pull the target price up a little higher.

    Farmer Joe in B... , Thu, 05/19/2016 - 10:24

    Having worked in a mid-sized IB, I can tell you there is no such thing as a fucking Chinese wall. Cheesecloth at best.

    This cocksucker absolutely knew that a deal was cooking...

    ptoemmes , Thu, 05/19/2016 - 10:24

    Who are these "many" you speak of? Clearly does not include the financial and regualtory elite.

    Similar to politicians and one D Trump claiming they could shoot someone on the Senate floor - or Times Square - and not get arrested I think that CNBC should have a reality hour where finanial elites and regulators carry out obvious fraud on live TV. You know, just to see what happens...

    The Daily Fraud

    Fraudish

    Spungo , Thu, 05/19/2016 - 10:25

    Should I even care about this? The people who own Tesla shares are functionally retarded. If it wasn't Tesla stealing their money for the sake raising capital, some other questionablle enterprise would get their money just as quickly. I'm thinking horse racing and lottery tickets.

    bamawatson , Thu, 05/19/2016 - 11:03

    oh man, please don't equate seasoned pari-mutual investors with the "functionally retarded" tesla shareholders

    Dadburnitpa , Thu, 05/19/2016 - 10:28

    Anyone can be "brilliant" if they're festooned with enough free government money. But once the tit dries up, you're no better than the rest.

    rosiescenario , Thu, 05/19/2016 - 10:33

    While Tesla's cars may be a rare sight for others in the U.S. if you drive around the SF Bay Area they are as common as anyother make of car. While the stock is at a nutty value, I'd bet you'd find that 80% of individual owners of it reside around Silicon Valley and are convinced this is the next Apple.

    Personally I see no appeal to a car which has such a limited driving range....you really cannot take a trip with it.

    [May 20, 2016] Economic Models Must Account for Power Relationships

    economistsview.typepad.com
    I have a new column:
    Economic Models Must Account for Who Has the Power'' : Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz recently highlighted two schools of thought on how income is distributed to different groups of people in the economy. Which school is correct has important implications for our understanding of the forces that have caused the rise in inequality, and for the policies needed to reverse this trend. It also relates to another controversy that has flamed up recently, how economics should be taught in principles of economics courses. ...

    Posted by Mark Thoma on Tuesday, May 17, 2016 at 06:09 AM in Economics , Market Failure | Permalink Comments (22)

    !-- View blog reactions

    --> !-- -->

    Comments

    Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post. anne : , Tuesday, May 17, 2016 at 06:27 AM
    Excellent approach, incisive writing.
    kthomas -> anne... , Tuesday, May 17, 2016 at 10:55 AM
    Im suprised you are so enamoured of Stiglitz. He does not put up with BS.

    Still, you are right. As usual.

    DrDick : , Tuesday, May 17, 2016 at 06:50 AM
    Awesome. Thanks for this.
    Adamski : , Tuesday, May 17, 2016 at 07:22 AM
    Good one from the Stig, also.

    And according to Sraffa's side in the Cambridge capital controversy labour and capital do not receive their marginal products, which leaves the distribution of income to some extent socially or politically determined.

    Now please make a donation to Project Syndicate, and check out Robert Skidelsky at the same site.

    New Deal democrat : , Tuesday, May 17, 2016 at 08:21 AM
    Excellent. It will be taught in graduate school, long after the little ones have been indoctrinated in reactionary thought be Econ 101.

    P.S. The school of thought that accepts inequality as a Teh Awesome result of merit cannot explain why inherited wealth should be allowed to accumulate - another aspect of how power writes the economic rules.

    pgl -> New Deal democrat... , Tuesday, May 17, 2016 at 09:33 AM
    "It will be taught in graduate school, long after the little ones have been indoctrinated in reactionary thought be Econ 101."

    Joan Robinson's writing on market power was required reading when I was in graduate school. My undergrad profs touched on this issue but not as much. I wonder if Greg Mankiw teaches market imperfections to his undergrad students at Harvard.

    two beers -> pgl... , Tuesday, May 17, 2016 at 09:42 AM
    "I wonder if Greg Mankiw teaches market imperfections to his "undergrad students at Harvard."

    According to theoclassical doctrine, all market imperfections are the result of gummint innerference. Left to themselves, markets hum with music of the perfect spheres.

    pgl -> two beers... , Tuesday, May 17, 2016 at 11:52 AM
    "theoclassical doctrine". My new favorite term. Excellent and thanks.
    RC AKA Darryl, Ron : , Tuesday, May 17, 2016 at 08:25 AM
    We are way past just one or the other of those explanations being true. Opportunities come in many forms, but just not for many people. Competition becomes limited in the womb and then they go from there. Better schools across all zip codes and public day care with universal pre-K would be a start. Even that is doomed to the catch-22 of making a better informed public requires a better informed public to demand being better informed. Down east they say "You can't get thar from here."

    I was fortunate enough to grow up in Prince William County VA in the late sixties just as it was beginning to boom from growth proximate to the DC Beltway. We had a new and progressive school system even relative to NoVA. Still by the 7th grade it was evident to me that the pedagogy related to reality in dogmatic POVs that were only relevant to the next generation of yuppie kids that had gotten a half step advantage in some various way from their parents.

    My half step came from an unusual source though. My dad was illiterate and my mom only finished the 8th grade, but they were stoics with exceedingly powerful work ethics transferred more by their example of excellence in every menial thing that they did rather than by belittling and cajoling me. My dad was the best hunter, the most successful fisherman, grew the most beautiful and bountiful garden, and was self-sufficient in caring for his car and home. His position with the state highway department was limited by his illiteracy to maintenance superintendent, but due to his ability he still got to supervise the construction of roads and bridges without the benefit of commensurate pay.

    My mom was the best cook, kept the cleanest house, and as at home day care for a few friends was the best a dealing with troubled children from potty training to outbursts of anger. It was a tough act to follow. Furthermore it did not fit the status quo mold that public schools were designed to reinforce. My half step freed me to reject the intellectual authority of my instructors even though their administrative authority was still sacrosanct in my home. I did well in school and even better on tests eking by to enter the Honor Society and passing the SAT test well enough to qualify for Mensa, but I dropped out of college first semester mostly just to relocate away from home to find a job in the city. So, I got drafted and went to Viet Name, but was lucky enough to survive and develop a successful career in IT systems management large systems capacity planning and performance management. The best break that I got was being laid off in June 2015 with a severance package good enough to afford me a retirement income equal after the change in expenses from leaving the professional world behind to what I had been making while working.

    The moral to my story is that one can despise our education system and still do very well by themselves with it. One can reject our higher education and still do very well by themselves without it. One can despise our corporate "meritocracy" system and still have a successful career and maybe even a comfortable retirement, but the ladder has been raised for the latter. How anyone can be successful in school and/or in career without recognizing their own half step advantage or recognizing the intellectually and morally vacant institutions that they traversed in their journey is deeply puzzling to me.

    RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron... , Tuesday, May 17, 2016 at 08:35 AM
    P.S. I had the good fortune to relocate from Prince William County to Orange County VA in summer 1966 before my senior year in high school when my dad cashed out his state retirement fund saving to start an electric motor/ john boat livery and concession stand at Lake Orange, a VA Game and Fisheries Commission state fishing lake.
    The high school teachers were probably just as intelligent as in Manassas Park, but far more socially challenged at least in the academic curriculum. Still, the kids with that half step from their successful parents did well enough to attend decent colleges, but academic performance overall was much lower than it had been in Manassas Park back in Prince William County. The kids in Orange with really successful parents all attended private prep schools.
    RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron... , Tuesday, May 17, 2016 at 08:47 AM
    P.P.S. Relative to the thread topic then we have a fairly rigid establishment that favors the haves and keeps the have-nots at bay. Monopoly rents are just one of the luxurious rent extracting tools of an aristocracy of social exclusion. Bankers, proto-industrialists, and slave owners established the meme of republicanism as the conservative power that protects us all from tyranny of the majority, but perhaps a little too well. More importantly they established the US Constitution as a nearly inviolable foundation for preserving their world view of well-deserved elite privilege. And they did it all in the name of democracy while showing Thomas Paine the door.
    anne -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron... , Tuesday, May 17, 2016 at 08:54 AM
    Interesting and really nicely described.
    RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> anne... , Tuesday, May 17, 2016 at 10:06 AM
    It's a cool rainy day in central VA. Being retired and primarily a person of outdoor interests then today I have an abundance of time to waste. And commenting on the EV blog sure beats a colonoscopy, which is what I will be getting this time next week :<)

    TMI? Yeah, tell me about it.

    BigBozat -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron... , Tuesday, May 17, 2016 at 12:00 PM
    "Down east they say "You can't get thar from here."

    Actually, they say "Ya cain't get thay-uh frum he-yah." And they usually pre-pend a big, fullsome "Ayuh".

    RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> BigBozat... , Thursday, May 19, 2016 at 05:09 AM
    THANKS! In any case, they are often correct :<)
    Dan Kervick : , Tuesday, May 17, 2016 at 08:50 AM
    Jonathan Nitzan and Shimshon Bichler have developed an account of capitalism over sever years summarized by the slogan "Capital as Power."

    http://www.capitalaspower.com/

    two beers : , Tuesday, May 17, 2016 at 09:58 AM
    There is no Nobel Prize in economics.
    JohnH : , Tuesday, May 17, 2016 at 10:16 AM
    John Kenneth Galbraith used to write about countervailing power. Unfortunately Galbraith has been pretty much consigned to the dustbin. Even when he was writing, economics courses did not talk about his ideas much...I guess he did not use enough math symbols.

    Business has long understood the concept of what I'll call leverage points...critical intellectual property, experience, and know how. Control of these critical factors is a key to pricing power and profitability. As one example, Symbol Technologies dominated the handheld bar code scanner market for years, not because they had superior technology or marketing, but because they held the patent on the trigger, which was critical to activating the scanner for reading. Their market power affected not only competitors but suppliers and customers as well.

    Leverage points like this are commonplace in business today. Yet I'm not aware that economics, with its orientation towards competitive markets, has ever tried to model this common behavior or even dealt with it.

    Likewise, businesses have also understood the importance of market and marketing channel domination to their long term survival and profitability. Firms who fail to dominate must specialize. These concepts are considered elementary in business schools. Yet I don't know that economists have ever managed (or even tried) to incorporate them into their models.

    It might help if more economists took business courses to understand how the game is played...

    Denis Drew : , Tuesday, May 17, 2016 at 11:16 AM
    Re-organize labor -- make union busting a MARKET WARPING (not job firing) felony ...

    ... re-make America into one big Costco.

    Longtooth : , Tuesday, May 17, 2016 at 12:36 PM
    I still say that until economists can reach consensus on the objective of an economy, they remain divided on the objective. Simply defining it as "for the general good" is a cop-out --- and economists and everybody else know this full well. Define what "general good means"....then see if consensus can be reached. I seriously conclude this cannot be done, since only by compromises can they reach consensus, and this means defining the objective in subjective, vague terms... just like "the general good" is vague and subjective.

    The cop-out used by economists is at the heart of what Thomas' blog subject is about: Policy makers .. i.e. gov't decides the objectives of an economy, which is to say that economic power defines it. And of course economic power will define it to maintain and extend their economic power.... and at the very least to minimize any erosion thereof.

    So one must wonder how, if gov't is controlled by economic power, that gov't will NOT insure the maintenance and extension of that economic power? Is it possible in a democracy defined by the U.S. constitution to significantly reduce the economic power of those who have it? The constitution in fact makes it impossible.

    Even when congress occasionally finds a large enough majority to make law to erode or reduce economic power in gov't, the constitution enables 5 people in robes to deem it unconstitutional OR the next congress, or the next will make law that erode or reduce the effect of prior congress's law(s) that reduced or eroded economic power.

    If this were not the case we'd long since have had universal single payer health care, strong labor unions, tax policies that don't give unearned income a huge break, and don't give offshore income an out by not taxing it until its "repatriated", welfare systems that don't keep people in poverty, and an educational system that provide free & equal education to all (not one that gives communities, county's, and States with the highest incomes & property values the best education and everybody else with a lesser one.

    Nor, will I add would it be possible to rape the nation's environment by contaminating the nation's rivers, soils, and the air with green-house gases .. not just "paying" fines after the fact for doing so or putting low cost "caps" on green-house gas emissions.

    So what does "the general good" actually mean? Economists can't agree on it, nor the means of achieving it of course nor can policy makers.... and this is the fundamental problem not being addressed.

    Denis Drew : , Tuesday, May 17, 2016 at 02:32 PM
    Make America one big Costco -- re-unionize.
    Chris G : , -1
    Nice column.

    One comment: You wrote "...individuals are rewarded according to their contributions to the economic well being of society. Those who contribute the most to the production of the goods and services we all enjoy receive the highest rewards and climb to the top of the income distribution." I would add that having power includes being able to dictate that rewards are allotted according to economic contributions as opposed to other contributions. Cue my go-to Chris Lasch quote: "... individuals cannot learn to speak for themselves at all, much less come to an intelligent understanding of their happiness and well-being, in a world in which there are no values except those of the market.... the market tends to universalize itself. It does not easily coexist with institutions that operate according to principles that are antithetical to itself: schools and universities, newspapers and magazines, charities, families. Sooner or later the market tends to absorb them all. It puts an almost irresistible pressure on every activity to justify itself in the only terms it recognizes: to become a business proposition, to pay its own way, to show black ink on the bottom line. It turns news into entertainment, scholarship into professional careerism, social work into the scientific management of poverty. Inexorably it remodels every institution in its own image."

    [May 18, 2016] Thomas Frank: What Happened To the Party of the People

    jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.com
    17 May 2016
    "Inequality is a euphemism, a kind of shorthand, for all of the things that have gone to make the lives of the rich so much more delicious, year on year, for the last three decades. And also for the things that have made the lives of working people so wretched and so precarious in that same time.

    This word inequality. It's visible in the ever rising costs of healthcare and college, in the coronation of Wall Street, and the slow blighting of wherever it is that you happen to live. And you catch a glimpse of inequality every time you hear about someone that had to declare bankruptcy because a child got sick, or you read about the lobbying industry that drives Washington DC, or the new political requirement, the new constitutional requirement that every presidential candidate has to be a billionaire's favorite, or a billionaire themselves.

    Inequality is about the way in which speculators, and even criminals, get a helping hand from Uncle Sam, while the Vietnam Vet down the street from you loses his house. Inequality is the reason that some people find such incredible significance in the ceiling height of an entrance foyer, or the hop content of a beer, while other people will never believe in anything again."

    Thomas Frank

    Change is coming. It must come, because the status quo is unsustainable, and has been so for some time.

    How many times will our 'very serious people' with access to the public information channels continue to miss the obvious dissonance of the common reality from the official story that they tell each other about everything from the economy to politics?

    At the root of this inequality, hidden as it is in the fog of fine sounding theories and economic models, is simple injustice.

    The longer that change is delayed, the longer that the professional class continues to insulate itself, looking down on the broader public with smug contempt from privileged perches, blinding themselves with hypocritical arguments that deny what is happening all around them, the more disruptive that change will finally be.

    And, as always, 'no one,' or at least no one who matters in their world, will have ever been able to see it coming. Because by definition no one who is an insider can ever publicly admit that the insiders have blown it completely, once again.

    "People of privilege will always risk their complete destruction rather than surrender any material part of their advantage. Intellectual myopia, often called stupidity, is no doubt a reason. But the privileged also feel that their privileges, however egregious they may seem to others, are a solemn, basic, God-given right. The sensitivity of the poor to injustice is a trivial thing compared with that of the rich."

    John Kenneth Galbraith

    [May 18, 2016] Two-thirds of the directors at the New York Fed are hand-picked by the same bankers that the Fed is in charge of regulating

    jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.com
    "Two-thirds of the directors at the New York Fed are hand-picked by the same bankers that the Fed is in charge of regulating.

    Today, the United States is No. 1 in corporate profits, No. 1 in CEO salaries, No. 1 in childhood poverty, and No. 1 in income and wealth inequality in the industrialized world.

    Today, the top one-tenth of 1% owns nearly as much wealth as the bottom 90%. The economic game is rigged, and this level of inequality is unsustainable. We need an economy that works for all, not just the powerful.

    I think what the American people are saying is enough is enough. This country, this great country, belongs to all of us. It cannot continue to be controlled by a handful of billionaires who apparently want it all."

    Bernie Sanders

    The Banks must be restrained, and the financial system reformed, with balance restored to the economy, before there can be any sustainable recovery.

    [May 07, 2016] apolitical_paddy

    profile.theguardian.com
    apolitical_paddy 4 May 2016 16:26 1 2 I decided to look up an answer to my question and found this http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2012-03-18/princeton-reaps-tax-breaks-as-state-colleges-beg which suggests an effective subsidy of " $54,000 per student " at Princeton.

    The author goes on to write which I find a bit odd " To me, income inequality is an overrated problem in American life, and has even propelled the American entrepreneurial spirit. "

    He then seems to imply that maybe there is an emergent, de facto bad outcome: Yet it remains true that, considering all federal government policies, including tax exemptions, the rich schools have benefited more than the poor ones -- a regressive social policy that many would argue is inconsistent with using higher education as a tool in promoting the American Dream.

    Anyway, direct funding of third-level education by federal and state subsidies seems like a great idea and something that I would be very happy for my tax dollars to be used towards and -- moreover -- I would be happy paying more taxes if they were put to such purposes. !-- Kevin P Brown , 2016-05-04 21:19:27

    Ammunition : considerations that can be used to support one's case in debate

    There is a constant whining from the Clinton side about Fox news smears etc. One would believe that with all her supposed experience, she lacked the imagination to see the consequences of her actions with the email. Myself, this is just one indicator among many that she has learned nothing, her experience is flawed as her judgement is time and time again flawed.

    She has handed the FBI and Trump AMMUNITION. Not me, not you. She created this mess. Her supporters have 100% certainty that this particular issue is not an issue. They hand wave away the FBI. They shut down any discussion as just another smear manufactured out of thin air.

    Probity : the quality of having strong moral principles; honesty and decency

    We all get to decide each candidates probity. That I find her lacking is based on her actions alone, not on some lens provided by Fox news. If she were honest, she would admit that there is a risk. She states there is no risk. If her chickens come home to roost, we get Trump. Can I get odds from a bookie on the outcome of the FBI investigation? A genuine question as so many here revel in quoting the odds quoted by bookies.

    So lets gamble. Let's get to the race track and study form and history and see if the bookies have fully transparent info on all the factors leading to a win or loss. How have we come to be here? That we are is a sign of the dysfunction we live in politically. Clinton is now immune to all present and future critical thinking because ...... because she was smeared in the pass. Free pass. Sometimes ..... sometimes the King is actually naked and no one cares to call attention to that reality. !--

    TeeJayzed Addy Kevin P Brown , 2016-05-04 21:16:18
    It was not simply an "entanglement". The Kochs helped finance the Democratic Leadership Committee with Bill, Hill, McAuliffe, Tony Coelho (remember him?) and the rest of the "Third Way" Democrats who whored themselves to the first wave of christian-jihadist-wacko GOP congressmen swept into power in 1994, and it was all downhill from there, with the Republicans writing draconian legislation, the Dems rolling over, and Dirty Little Billy claiming it as a Great Leap Forward. !--
    list12345 , 2016-05-04 21:14:04
    "Shock victory" is another example of lazy, factually incorrect mass media journalism. Bernie ran an on the ground campaign in Indiana for 2 moths prior to yesterday's primary win. I should know, as our family did volunteer door-to-door canvasing for the first time over a couple weekends. We also attended the rally on Monday and it was great!

    Don't give up Bernie supporters, as we have momentum! Bernie's an honest man with fair and just principles. Our country needs such a leader and not another paid-off crony or deranged man-child.

    !--
    Kevin P Brown hillbillyzombie , 2016-05-04 21:01:18
    "Haven't you pissed off minority voters enough?"

    Again as always a deflection from the real point, documented over and over as to the long tanking DLC led strategy of leading with Southern States. Nothing to do with blacks, everything to do with Southern Conservatives. But yes, as always intellectually "honest". Innuendo. You choose to ignore the systems and structures put in place for reasons. I choose to see them. People like you choose to ignore the DLC history and the entanglement with the Koch Brothers who were so so happy Bill Clinton pushed the DNC into Republican territory, while we are all supposed to pretend that because the GOP is so bad bad bad, it gives a free pass to the DNC for the right wards ever rightwards shifting and the bandying of progressiveness on social issues that cost nothing, and the true position of the modern DLC as a money machine, with a purpose of existing to garner power.

    All you "progressives" love to talk about angry white man yet have zero answer to :

    ""In 2010, the median wealth, or net worth, for black families was $4,900, compared to median wealth for whites of $97,000. Blacks are nearly twice as likely as whites to have zero or negative net worth-33.9 percent compared to 18.6 percent."

    The fact that the above enrages me matters not to you, as you have your BernieBro Angry White man meme to deflect from real discussion about solutions. The real solution starts with getting the politicians beholden to the voters alone, not to corporate interests. That is Job One. Once that blockade is removed, then we can move on to poverty and violence as immutable links and solving them. 85% ...... 85% of the American people agree with this action. is it difficult? Yes. Wont happen however if we demand on smug entitled people throwing deflections and memes all over the place. "I am all right Jack, fuck you" should be the bumper-sticker of the Clinton supporters. !--

    Eugene Harvey Palomina , 2016-05-04 20:54:08
    Much as I despise Drumpf it worked for him, he openly railed against the GOP establishment which fort him to the bitter end with their last champions pulling out of the race. The people had spoken (most of it crazy talk), but the Democrats can't ignore the anti-Clinton sentiment. Bernie was a nobody at the beginning because all the focus was on Clinton, but more coverage was given to Bernie and people got to know what he stood for things have changed.
    The question for the Democrats is who is more likely to win the General against Drumpf? Who is more likely to win over the swing votes of those not affiliated to a party?
    The message is load and clear there is a lot of anti-establishment sentiment out there and Clinton is firmly seen as part of it.
    Drumpf having won his first leg of the race will no doubt moderate his rhetoric to appeal to a broader audience and look to grab a larger portion of the swing votes.
    In the bigger picture, Sanders is more likely to succeed against Drumof than the institutional Clinton. !--
    Janet Conard bashh1 , 2016-05-04 20:31:47
    53 year old Bernie Supporter and if Bernie doesn't win the nomination. Jesse Ventura has vowed to run as an independant and continue our grass roots movement. Jesse shares many of Sanders policies but he has an advantage over all the candidates when it comes to military experience. Navy Seal is pretty impressive. !--
    nnedjo , 2016-05-04 20:28:06
    If you ask, what is the purpose of the election, the answer is, elections should be used for two things:
    First, that some politicians will be rewarded by the voters, who will entrust the government to them.
    And second, but no less important, that some politicians will be punished by the voters for their past mistakes, in a way that will refuse to give them their votes. So, this second function of the elections is perhaps even more important because it ensures that politicians are held accountable for their previous actions.

    Now, if you look at these elections, you will notice that this is totally turned upside down in the case of Hillary Clinton.
    Her husband has created mass incarceration, and she, as the first lady, was the main promoter of it. And now she says, "Oops, that was an 'unintended consequence'! That is to say, over two million people in prison, many of which serve a sentence for minor offenses is an 'unintended consequence'''
    OK, fine, but what about the fact that she has got the money from the prison lobby?
    If the first was an 'unintended consequence', the latter is certainly not. So these are the things for which in every country on earth some politician would lose any chance to enter the next government. Provided that the politicians are held accountable for their previous actions, which is obviously not the case in the US.

    And, this is just one of the things for which Clinton can be held accountable.
    For example, what about the deregulation of Wall Street by President Clinton and the economic crisis eight years later, that after the next eight years Hillary Clinton took over half a million dollars from Goldman Sachs for three speeches? - Unintended consequence!

    What about voting for the Iraq war at a time when Hillary Clinton was the leader of the Democrats in the US Congress and the loss of people and money that followed after that, not to mention the rise of terrorism as a consequence? - Unintended consequences, too!

    What about turning Libya into a failed state, and exclamation, "We came, we saw, he [Gaddafi] died!", after which four US embassy staff, including Ambassador Stevens died, and after which Clinton lied to the American public about events that led to their deaths? - Unintended consequences!

    And, last but not least, what about NAFTA and other international trade agreements, all of them supported by Clinton to this day, although deprived and still depriving millions of American workers from their jobs? - Unintended consequence!

    So, as you can see, this is quite a long list, but probably there's more of it that is not listed here, yet. And it will be even more of such "unintended consequences" if Hillary Clinton will be elected for the US president. !--

    Sandypaws RobInTN , 2016-05-04 20:27:29
    Hence why I said 'some form of revolt' instead of 'burn the party down rawr'. The party establishment firmly put themselves behind Clinton early on. This is indisputable. 40+ percent of primary voters went against this in some form. Some will still welcome Clinton, some will tolerate her, some will walk, but the act of voting against establishment preference is already some form of revolt. !--
    Kevin P Brown hillbillyzombie , 2016-05-04 20:05:19
    You: "self-righteous crap"

    You:"his acolytes will just come up with another dumb ass reason "
    You: "Why didn't you just give it directly to Trump? "
    You: "Bernie, when all's said and done, is a fraud."
    You: "I never did trust politicians who hold mass rallies." ( Nice Nazi smear)
    You: " are already starting to misquote Bernie, and talk about how it's all the fault of "Jewish bankers" Smearing Sanders for your relatives jewish Smears
    You: "She doesn't pretend she's a damn rock star" Smear
    You: " I take it you are a Trump supporter now" Personal smear to me.
    You: "nihilistic" over and over again
    You: deleted reference ot Pope as child molester
    You: "His trip to kiss the Pope's ass was disgusting pandering" So their shared stance on global warming is irrelevant?
    You: "the ass of the world's most powerful homophobe"
    You: "But Bernie has always been a fraud" ( multiple repetitions of this)


    On and on....How self righteous are you?

    "personal insults from you"

    Really? What insults? Intellectually lazy? That is my assessment of you. Not intended as an insult but an assessment of who you are and how you think. Based on reading all of your posts. I pay attention. I find it interesting to figure out motivations.

    " I've got a right to my views"

    Indeed you do. Never ever asked you to to post. !--

    DebraBrown Bronxite , 2016-05-04 19:59:33
    I agree, Hillary is worse, and scarier than Trump. Hillary will justify her interventionist wars and terrible trade deals with slick, plastic, professional language which will fool some people into thinking she knows what she is doing.

    Hillary would be 8 more years of the Corporate Oligarchy cementing its hold on our process. Trump might last 4 years... then we can elect a real progressive. !--

    Sandypaws newageblues , 2016-05-04 19:51:46
    SoS is more extrapolation, based off the weakness of her credentials heading into the position. It should be remembered that her lack of experience in foreign policy was one of Obama's attack points in 2008, so to have him suddenly turn around and name her SoS is a bit odd. Specifically:
    The choice of Mrs. Clinton pleased many in the Democratic establishment who admire her strength and skills, and they praised Mr. Obama for putting the rancor of the campaign behind him. "Senator Clinton is a naturally gifted diplomat and would be an inspired choice if she is chosen by President-elect Obama as secretary of state," said Warren Christopher, who held that job under her husband.

    But it could also disappoint many of Mr. Obama's supporters, who worked hard to have him elected instead of Mrs. Clinton and saw him as a vehicle for changing Washington. Mr. Obama argued during the primaries that it was time to move beyond the Clinton era and in particular belittled her claims to foreign policy experience as a first lady who circled the globe."

    Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/22/us/politics/22obama.html?_r=0

    So read into that what you will.

    What -is- clear is that she got $17.5 million in personal cash out of the deal (Obama agreed to cover campaign debts, she lent her campaign 17.5 million).

    Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/06/02/clinton-in-negotiations-f_n_104823.html !--

    Bob Zavoda , 2016-05-04 19:32:29
    Don't be lulled into a false "horse race" depiction of an especially HISTORICALLY IMPORTANT, planetary-civilization-survival moment. A predominantly, establishment, bankster-owned media, are pushing this epic election of "Main Street vrs wall street", as just another election. Wrong! A fictiion! Lies!

    Over 60% of us didn't vote last election, BECAUSE, only liars and apologists for "empire" oligarchs were running. Today, we see Bernie and perhaps Dr. Stein of the Greens. Only "The Bern" gets media minimal coverage, because he is running as an "Democrat". Indiana and other "open" primaries show, time and time again, the rigged nature of a duopoly electoral fraud. The establishment, wall street banksters and their allies DO NOT, WILL NOT let Bernie win. Do the math and ONLY BERNIE CAN BEAT TRUMP! SO QUIT THE HORSE RACE BS and see the BERN! And jut maybe we will have an inhabitable planet for our grandchildren that is fun to live upon. !--

    DebraBrown Kevin P Brown , 2016-05-04 19:31:40
    Putting it another way... Bernie has made them all look like chumps. They say they cannot get elected without big corporate dollars. Bernie did not sell out, and he raised money easily. He makes the rest of the lousy corrupt bunch look like fools.

    !--

    DebraBrown macktan894 , 2016-05-04 19:28:51
    Hillary did not concede in 2008 until after ALL the states had voted. Even then, she waited 4 days. What happened between the last primary and 4 days later, when she finally conceded? NEGOTIATIONS. She laid down the terms under which she would support Obama -- all goodies for Hillary, because Hillary Is For Hillary, period.

    Bernie will use the clout we give him to negotiate on behalf of THE PEOPLE at the Democratic Convention. That's the difference between him and self-serving Hillary.

    Looking forward to voting for Bernie in California on June 7. Meanwhile, praying for the FBI to indict Hillary. !--

    Kevin P Brown hillbillyzombie , 2016-05-04 19:27:01
    Yet for all her long name recognition, her second national presidential campaign, the superdelegates lined up before Sanders announced, with the cunning long term strategy of the DNC "southern firewall" designed to favour conservative candidates, despite all the power players endorsements, despite all the Superpac's, she still is not going to arrive at the convention with the required delegate count for victory. What does that tell us? I know what it tells me. It tells me that there are a lot of people who want more of a continuation of Obama Change. They want real change.

    So sure, she is "winning" a battle in a longer running war of ideas. Let's see how this plays out over the next 8 years.

    Kicking his ass by the way would have been if she reached the required pledged delegates months ago. She could not. Complacency is not a great stance in these times. !--

    Kevin P Brown hillbillyzombie , 2016-05-04 19:18:45
    "he'd spend it helping progressive candidates"

    Like Hillary has done since 2008? Helping the same old hack politicians, using her cash and her name and yet the people refused to come out and reverse the largest loss of Democratic seats in modern history? Yeah, blame the voters, you have them all pegged. it's never the fault of the politicians is it, it is the lazy voters. Well there is another theory that explains Trump and Sanders: They are sick of the same bullshit put out by the DNC and the GOP. Taking Ted Kennedys seat as an example the safest DNC seat in the nation, decades it sat with the DNC and as soon as he dies, the DNC selects one of your hack ersatz progressives, throws Bill Clinton and Hillary and bags of cash and STILL loses the seat. Was there a message there worth listening to? Not to you, you blame the voters. No no no never blame the DNC. Blame the voters.

    The voters perhaps is tired of what is presented to them as a voting solution. So in the end, your way of doing things has led to voter frustration and here we have Trump. There is a lesson there. Listen or dot listen, but the people are venting there frustration. Trump is a populist disaster, but he is a symptom of a dysfunctional system that needs revision and revision now. But nah! Lets just throw cash into a cesspit of dysfunction.

    Also you sit smugly ignoring the FACTS of Clinton laundering State contributions back into her campaign, leaving little or nothing for State DNC budgets. Ah, you say, this is a smear from Fox news. Um. No. Do you think we are idiots? You must. I assure you we are not idiots. Good luck in November. You will need it. !--

    Kiara Kiki Jenkins hillbillyzombie , 2016-05-04 19:16:30
    Bernie hasn't attacked Hillary directly since New York, and he had every right to go after her then, because she was on full offense against Bernie at that time, too, so enough with the innocent victim garbage. !--
    HJWatermelon , 2016-05-04 19:13:12
    Bernie always does better in open primaries because of the Independent voters. They are more likely to vote Trump in the general election in my opinion. He is going to start hammering Clinton now he is the nominee.
    Bernie should stay in right 'til the end in case anything ever happens with one of the two Clinton investigations. I don't see anything happening now though as the private server investigation appears to have stalled.
    Regarding the second (the Clinton Foundation) the Supreme Court is about to legalise political corruption with the McDonnell case. If that happens democracy is effectively suspended anyway and this is a pointless reality show farce. Policies will be decided by the highest bidder. How can she have broken any laws if there aren't any?

    Good news for women's rights under Clinton though - whilst her Syria no-fly-zone might start WW3, women will probably get to be drafted as well as men... !--

    RobInTN Martin Thompson , 2016-05-04 19:10:49
    Couple of things about this statement

    'Lawyer Hillary who is trained in well being a lawyer she even was a defense lawyer helping someone she believed was guilty of rapeing a 13 year old girl who has said Hillary "put her thru hell"."

    "someone she believed was guilty of rapeing a 13 year old girl"

    Interesting. Clinton discussed what she was thinking at the time with you?

    Or are you suggesting that some accused people should not get legal representation?

    I'm intrigued by the "put her through hell" portion of it. Especially as the case was plea bargained out and never went to trial.

    !--
    Freedom54 , 2016-05-04 19:06:41
    It is effortless to identify the ardent obtuse "Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump Supporters". Their verbiage and responses are always predicated on emotion and fiction versus an intellectual discourse based on factual information – Quite Like the Superficial Candidates that they blindly support. The 1% Billionaire Oligarchy Ruling Classes Owned Mass Media Outlets is intentionally protecting the Outed Racists Donald Trump and his female Clone Hillary Clinton from Public Scrutiny. They are salivating Like Pavlov's Dog for their "Ultimate Political Reality Show – The Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton Presidential Race" waiting to cash-in and profit as they stage and promote their "False Democracy".
    Knowledge = Power = Real Freedom..!
    1. This is why "Anonymous" Noble, Righteous, True American Heroes and Freedom Fighters are stepping in to fill the Fourth Estate void abdicated by America's Billionaire Owned Media to provide the 99% the Truth.
    Anonymous – Message to Hillary Clinton:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTMaIX_JPE4
    Anonymous – Message to Donald Trump:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ciavyc6bE7A
    2. CBS CEO and Chief Leslie Moonves: Comments he made at an investor conference last month when he said, "The money is rolling in, and this is fun." Added Moonves: "They're not even talking about issues; they're throwing bombs at each other, and I think the advertising (revenue $) reflects that. This is going to be a very good year for us (CBS). Sorry, it's a terrible thing to say, but bring it on, Donald."
    http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/daily-show-host-trevor-noah-877273
    3. Why isn't the Media asking Hillary Clinton about the Podesta group in the Panama papers working with the corrupt, Kremlin-run Sberbank, and the two shell companies setup by Bill Clinton (WJC, LLC) and Hillary Clinton (ZFS Holdings, LLC) at a Delaware address (1209 North Orange Street Wilmington, Delaware) that are the same address as 285,000 other companies, many of which were in the Panama papers and linked to laundering and tax avoidance schemes?.
    http://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/apr/25/delaware-tax-loophole-1209-north-orange-trump-clinton?CMP=share_btn_fb
    4. Why isn't the Media asking Hillary Clinton to Release the Transcripts from her numerous $275,000.00 Speeches to Goldman Sachs and the Other Wall Street Banks?
    https://youtu.be/3UkfsEeHUcg
    5. Why don't they ask Hillary Clinton if she would Prosecute her and her husband Bill Clinton's former "Trusted Deputy" Rahm Emanuel the current Mayor of Chicago for establishing a "Gulag" on American soil which allowed the Chicago police to covertly detain and torture more than 7000 people at the Secret Interrogation Center that completely ignored the American "Constitution" and the Bill of Rights at Homan Square?
    http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2015/02/behind-the-disappeared-of-chicagos-homan-square/385964 /
    6. Hillary Clinton lying for 13 minutes straight- Hillary, the inevitable liar:
    https://youtu.be/-dY77j6uBHI
    7. Hillary Clinton: A Career Criminal:
    https://youtu.be/kypl1MYuKDY
    8. Secretary Clinton Comments on the Passing of Robert Byrd her friend and mentor who is a documented Racist and KKK member:
    https://youtu.be/ryweuBVJMEA
    9. Bill Clinton ATTEMPTS to Justify Robert Byrd's KKK Membership:
    https://youtu.be/8Fg3XNTMzNo
    10. Hillary Clinton & NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio Make Awkward RACIST Joke About CP TIME Colored People Time
    https://youtu.be/pP3syBu4ZDM
    11. Black Lives Matter protesters repeatedly interrupt Bill Clinton in Philadelphia: https://youtu.be/xRrVI5gHVyo
    Can You Say Hypocrisy?
    The only Authentic and Honest Candidate is Bernie Sanders who wants to return America back into a Transparent Citizen Accountable Democracy for the 100%. This is why the Bernie Sanders Army of Noble and Righteous Citizens-the 99% will never Vote or Support either of the Illegitimate 1% Billionaire Anointed Candidates Like Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, Who Represent the Retention of a False Oligarchy Democracy and Everything That the Decent Noble and Righteous Citizens Despise, Compulsive Pathological Lying, Narcissism, and Insatiable Greed. !--
    Kevin P Brown hillbillyzombie , 2016-05-04 19:03:07
    "So your plan is for Bernie's opponent to get arrested? "

    Not my plan. Each citizen in this country has a set of was that rule what they can and cannot do. Even Clinton. I have spent a long time explaining my logic of why I believe she has broken various laws. I as a citizen appreciate the FOIA. If you cannot handle the facts of her actions, then what can I say? To me it does not bode well how Clinton comports herself. To you it is not an issue. You choose to ignore the reality of a real and extended FBI investigation. Obama rules the DoJ and the FBI. If it were indeed only a political smear, then he has the power to force Comey to resign. It is not a function of me, it is a function of laws. The investigation not some fevered Fox News plot as much as you with it to be. I understand completely what she has done. I understand why she did what she did.

    Regarding the bolstering the party, it seems it does not bother you the games her suprpac has done with bending the rules just up to the breaking point.

    Frankly, sanders on the back of this, and his supporters need to build an organisation that can put up true progressives. Your opinion is team based, you accept year after year the shift of the DNC orphaning in to centrist republicans. Your choice. I choose not to support this. So that he refused to fund more the same old hack politicians is fine by me. He has over his career supported the DNC with vote after vote after vote. He had the courage to offer "democrats" a real choice in the primaries.

    You again ignore with your blather about mid term motivations the fact that the people would not support the DNC in 2010, 2012, and 2014. People are not stupid, and they see that the change Obama promised is never coming. We can distill into a simple slogan then rich are getting richer even as the American worker gets more and more productive, yet their share of the capitalist pie shrinks and shrinks. The common man sees that Obama care still is not the solution for him and his family when the average deductions are over 5000 a year on top of his premiums and the average coverage is 60% of costs when he gets sat the deductible. He is told about Gold Standard trade agreement negotiated in absolute secrecy, and that cause him discomfort. Some black families see : ""In 2010, the median wealth, or net worth, for black families was $4,900, compared to median wealth for whites of $97,000. Blacks are nearly twice as likely as whites to have zero or negative net worth-33.9 percent compared to 18.6 percent."" and understand for all of Clinton's triangulation there is nothing palpable to change that. He sees she is great at trotting up mothers of dead people and Black people as props to gain votes, and he see that perhaps Sanders Class based solutions will help him more, as maybe he is tired of racial divides and knows intuitively Clinton has no real solution to gun crime, spurred on by poverty, nor solutions to poverty itself.

    So get all huffy about the FBI investigation. I lived though the turmoil of Nixon and before his reelection I predicted that he would suffer, as my gut feeling led me to believe he was involved, that he had dirty hands. Continue to believe that genuine logical conclusions and issues are only a rehash of Fix news when they are not. Cheap and nasty way to deflect any and all valid criticism. Is Sanders perfect? far from it, but I believe I know what he stands for and how he thinks.

    "Bernie, when all's said and done, is a fraud."

    Funny but I have concluded that Clinton is a fraud. But you are welcome to vote as you wish. In the end, your fear of Trump? The risk is real and palpable that she will cause disarray to the party if the FBI fins what I believe is obvious, and the risk is her handing the election to Trump. To you? You don't care. You cannot and will not see the risk, preferring to hide like a gormless child behind tortured smear theories rather than standing up as an adult and properly assessing the real risks to the Democratic.

    All the pieces of what she did are there if you care to look. But nah! You are lazy intellectually and it is easier to blame Fox news than to actually look and ponder and conclude the evidence. As are most of the vociferous Clinton fans here. Intellectually lazy. !--

    DebraBrown , 2016-05-04 18:28:32
    Hillary wins closed primaries, where only the tribalized party faithful participate (and voter suppression and other shenanigans run rampant). Bernie wins open primaries and brings in millions of new voters. Democrats like me, Independents, even Republicans vote for Bernie.

    Newsflash: November will not be a closed primary. !--

    shepdavis PATROKLUS00 , 2016-05-04 18:21:37
    Got that right...

    She loses on the Big 3 Issues, war, Trade & "corruption" to Trumps words and Bernie's life walk. Dems are falling into dreamlala math- Hillary will get women (50%), Blacks (10%) & Hispanics "another 10%). How can she lose.

    Start with GOP women at the end will not vote her way. That BLack and Hispanic percentages are already baked in, and Trump will cater to men, not just white, on the basis avg men have been getting shafted for 40 years now.

    If there is a terror attack, Trump wins big. If the economy goes down he wins too.

    The tea leaves and tarot readers have been all wrong this election.

    & Hill is likely to lose most of the last primaries. Embarassing

    "Hillary Clinton will say anything to get elected, and nothing will change." Barack Obama, 2008

    !--
    Bronxite ID7731327 , 2016-05-04 18:14:50
    Is that HRC new slogan, "Hillary is shit, but at least she's not as shitty as Trump"
    Actually I think she's worse. The DNC turns a blind eye every time she breaks the law, and tries to change the rules for her, but both the RNC and DNC will keep Trump on a short lease. !--
    scrjim , 2016-05-04 18:14:20
    The Guardian's anti-Bernie agenda is really quite off-putting. Even the article summary is patronising :

    "Despite trailing behind Hillary Clinton in polls, Sanders once again proved his appeal to disaffected midwest voters by pulling off his 18th victory of 2016"

    The translation is that the Bernie Sanders constituency is backwards and centred around white males who have lost blue collar jobs to globalisation; in other words he appeals to people who want to turn back time. The inference is that Clinton's group is far broader, more cultured and more progressive. This is patently false. Sanders is popular with young people and with people who are passionate about politics. Clinton's constituency tends to be older and more conservative. Clinton is the establishment candidate Sanders is the beacon of hope. !--

    talenttruth RobertHickson2014 , 2016-05-04 18:11:03
    No surprise there. As is it no surprise that ABC is a "subsidiary" of The Walt Disney Company, which has been to the right of Attila-the-Hun since "sweet grandfatherly Walt" himself, who was practically a neo-Nazi politically. Need proof? Walt's cheerful cooperation with McCarthy's House Un American Activities persecution of anyone not sharing Adolph Hitler's political persuasion).

    Disney's movies have always exhibited that nauseating, fake, treacle "sweetness" which all fascists use as "cover" for their actual addiction to fear, hatred, tribalism and Orwellian manipulation.

    So we can hardly be "shocked, shocked, shocked" by ABC's gross "news" bias.

    How about NBC? It's been a corporate "investment football," recently boosted by Comcast from former owner General Electric. You KNOW they're both dedicated to impartial news reporting, right? HA HA HA

    How about CBS? Oh it's owned by Viacom, an "entertainment conglomerate," of course dedicated never to sensationalism or deliberate distraction of the public, but rather, to honest news reporting. Right.

    MSNBC? GE + Microsoft. That of course equals total devotion to unbiased and complete news reporting, even if the news WERE "bad for the Shareholders." Uh huh. (See the pigs flying by).

    CNN? Oh its "daddy" is Time Warner, another paragon of public-spirited democracy.

    Even PBS has fallen. Think that's a "radical statement?" The super right did a twofer on PBS: (1) cut its government funding so as to make it terrified and desperate and then (2) gradually brainwashed PBS into actually being another Corporate PR outlet.

    Non-commercial? PBS? IT LIVES ON CORPORATE ADS. And under those deliberately created survival pressures, even PBS news has collapsed into reporting all news like it's a trivial sports event - Never Delving Deeper, because its Corporate Overlords wouldn't like that.

    So, welcome to the reality of well-entrenched corporate fascism. For that, in part, we can thank Ronnie Puppet Reagan's reversal of a former 50-year policy which did not allow non-media corporations to "buy" the news. May that SOB continue to roast, whereever.

    Bernie Sanders would be all of these Corporate Overlord's worst nightmare. They would have to work "even harder" (yawn, pass the caviar), to blacklist, cover up, lie about the truth he would tell through his bully pulpit. Thus all of THEIR media outlets have worked like little beavers to Cancel the Cancer of Bernie, before he could cause real damage to The Entitled Domain. Ugh. !--

    PATROKLUS00 , 2016-05-04 18:10:21
    The Democrats, just as blind and foolish in their own way as the GOP, will make a tremendous mistake in nominating HRC. Anyone with an ounce of political insight can see the coming election is going to be about the revolt of the middle class against the Establishment and megacorporations that have been exploiting that class for at least two score years. The politically dimwitted and somnolent American middle class has finally come to realize how they have been used and abused and they aren't taking it anymore. They don't give a damn about foreign policy, single payer or anything else. They are furious at having been used and hoodwinked and they are in full revolt. The stupidity of the Democrats, in not seeing this and running an Avatar of the Establishment, HRC, will make the election very close with a good chance she will lose. Sanders can out Trump Trump on the anti-Establishment issue as polls clearly show, but the Dems are going to shoot themselves in the foot by coronating HRC. With Sanders they could probably sweep Congress also, but with HRC they will at best keep the White House and possibly a very narrow majority in the Senate. HRC is a poor campaigner with an unlikable personality, unlike Elizabeth Warren, and Trump will really mangle Hillary. With Sanders he will not be able to do that because Sanders easily can out anti-establishment Trump for, obviously, Trump too is of the 1% like HRC. There is the slim hope, forlorn as it may be, that the Democrat super-delegates, most of whom are political pros and thus focused on winning, will see the light and nominate Sanders. But the Democrats are usually reliably stupid so look forward to a cliff-hanger in November and very possibly a President Trump.
    DebraBrown , 2016-05-04 18:10:20
    Hillary did not concede in 2008 until after the last state finished voting. The counting was done, and Obama had more delegates. Even then, she waited 4 days before conceding. What went on during those 4 days? Negotiations. No way a super-predator politician like Hillary Clinton was just going to give in, without getting something for herself.

    Here's what Hillary got out of the deal: a cabinet post, Obama's promise of support for her next bid in 2016, and Obama's help paying off her 2008 campaign debt.

    The difference with Bernie is that he is not in this for himself. Bernie stepped up to the plate because America deserves better than another Corporate Tool Politician. When Bernie goes to the convention, he will not be negotiating for himself. He will be fighting for ALL OF US. Bernie fights for The People.

    This is why we need to give him as many delegates as possible. I look forward to voting for Bernie in California on June 7. Furthermore, speaking as a middle aged feminist who has been a registered Dem for 35 years -- I will NEVER vote for Hillary. !--

    sbabcock LanaCvi , 2016-05-04 18:04:13
    A Shillary in denial... Do you need the NYT or Guardian to report it to make it true? Many of the biggest companies in the US-the biggest polluters, the biggest pharmaceutical companies, the biggest insurance companies, the biggest financial companies-gave to the Clinton foundation while she was Secretary of State and then they lobbied Secretary Clinton and the state department for "favors." Even foreign governments have given to the foundation, including that stalwart of democratic principles Saudi Arabia, who gave at least $10 million… Then magically they had a $26 billion plane deal with Boeing.

    Is that what you're voting for? Does that sound like someone with integrity? hate to break it to you that this information isn't found only on right wing websites. Inform yourself. Can't you see why she'd play games with email? It's all right there, in your face. !--

    WhiteMale cliffstep , 2016-05-04 17:48:28
    Alleged pragmatist, but more likely Hillary will actually be a pushover on social and economic issues and a hawk on foreign policy. She is more of a Republican than Trump. !--
    WhiteMale cliffstep , 2016-05-04 17:48:28
    Alleged pragmatist, but more likely Hillary will actually be a pushover on social and economic issues and a hawk on foreign policy. She is more of a Republican than Trump. !--
    Manami , 2016-05-04 17:33:14
    Shock?!!!! How could the American Queen lose right?!!!

    The main point is, Hillary has no chance of winning against Trump. She is already trying to get a cadre of neocon Republicans to support her, thinking she could get swing a portion of Republicans to support her, forgetting why she is so despised by a large segment of Democrats and majority of independents. It is her default cling to neocon interventionist, and corporate base of support that causes it. She is tone deaf, ignorant and arrogant. Unless, we Democrats stop her now Trump will beat her handily. I have no doubt about it. !--

    Manami , 2016-05-04 17:33:14
    Shock?!!!! How could the American Queen lose right?!!!

    The main point is, Hillary has no chance of winning against Trump. She is already trying to get a cadre of neocon Republicans to support her, thinking she could get swing a portion of Republicans to support her, forgetting why she is so despised by a large segment of Democrats and majority of independents. It is her default cling to neocon interventionist, and corporate base of support that causes it. She is tone deaf, ignorant and arrogant. Unless, we Democrats stop her now Trump will beat her handily. I have no doubt about it.

    [May 06, 2016] apolitical_paddy

    profile.theguardian.com
    apolitical_paddy 4 May 2016 16:26 1 2 I decided to look up an answer to my question and found this http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2012-03-18/princeton-reaps-tax-breaks-as-state-colleges-beg which suggests an effective subsidy of " $54,000 per student " at Princeton.

    The author goes on to write which I find a bit odd " To me, income inequality is an overrated problem in American life, and has even propelled the American entrepreneurial spirit. "

    He then seems to imply that maybe there is an emergent, de facto bad outcome: Yet it remains true that, considering all federal government policies, including tax exemptions, the rich schools have benefited more than the poor ones -- a regressive social policy that many would argue is inconsistent with using higher education as a tool in promoting the American Dream.

    Anyway, direct funding of third-level education by federal and state subsidies seems like a great idea and something that I would be very happy for my tax dollars to be used towards and -- moreover -- I would be happy paying more taxes if they were put to such purposes.

    [May 05, 2016] How European Union Fiscal Rules Subverted Democracy and Institutionalized Neoliberalism

    Notable quotes:
    "... By John Weeks, a member of the Union for Radical Political Economics (URPE) in London, one of the founders of the UK-based Economists for Rational Economic Policies, and part of the European Research Network on Social and Economic Policy. Receive podcasts of his weekly radio program by Twitter, @johnweeks41. Originally published at Triple Crisis ..."
    "... I have dear friends from H to VI, but sleep walking through life, while natural resources are needlessly strip mined for the sake of maintaining artificial scarcity, is a good way to put it. ..."
    "... The dual mandate is a fiction. There's nothing the Fed can do to lower unemployment (though it can raise it by mistake.) The unemployment rate is set by the fiscal policies of Congress and the Executive. The unemployment rate, should they desire, can even be set to zero. That it is not should be sufficient cause for the guillotines. ..."
    "... primum non nocere ..."
    "... I think the process of corporate control of the EU was so slow and gradual plenty of left wingers in Europe still haven't really grasped what has happened. From the beginning, there was always a tension within Europe between pressure from corporations for more business friendly policies and the generally social democrat lite views of the original founders. I think though to call it 'neoliberal' is not quite correct – for me 'neoliberal' implies a specific set of policies associated with the Anglosphere – I think in Germany what we've seen is the takeover by a more German flavoured right of centre view – it is similar, but is more generally corporatist and mercantilist in nature with a strong dash of Austrian economics. ..."
    "... Well of course the 'competition' is a myth. As anyone who has witnessed what has happened in electricity markets can see, it has, if anything, raised prices of electricity for consumers. But various powerful interests have done very well indeed. you can see the same process in water and waste services and pretty much anything that has been directly regulated and privatised. The only areas where I think it can be shown that consumers have benefited from competition are in telecommunications and in air travel. And in the former, I suspect the consolidation of the telecom industry will reverse those gains. ..."
    "... "To render the rule Kafkaesque, after the EC bureaucracy calculates that a government will not meet the hypothetical target, it then mandates contractionary policies that guarantee that the target cannot be achieved. The problem is imaginary and the solution contradictory." ..."
    "... "The "independent institutions" include the European Commission itself, which adds a distinctly Orwellian character to the already Kafkaesque Treaty." ..."
    "... "Thus, not restricting surpluses carries an implicit mercantilist message." EU guidelines fix trade surplus at 6%, Germany is, I believe, in its seventh year of violation and should be fined. That it doesn't happen maybe shows that the elite ruling the EU is German. ..."
    naked capitalism
    Yves here. Anyone who has paid attention to how the various sovereign debt crises have played out in Europe can't help noticing that a bureaucratic elite is calling the shots and riding roughshod over popular will. But what are the mechanisms which allow these perverse outcomes to come to pass? This post describes the major steps that enabled neoliberalism to become the ruling doctrine.

    By John Weeks, a member of the Union for Radical Political Economics (URPE) in London, one of the founders of the UK-based Economists for Rational Economic Policies, and part of the European Research Network on Social and Economic Policy. Receive podcasts of his weekly radio program by Twitter, @johnweeks41. Originally published at Triple Crisis

    The EU: Hold Your Nose and Vote "Stay"

    Most Americans and many U.S. progressives hold a favorable view the European Union. This positive assessment persists despite the crushing of the Greek challenge to austerity conditionalities set by the European Commission and European Central Bank aided and abetted by the International Monetary Fund.

    The primary basis for pro-EU sentiments may be that Americans consider the European Union a bastion of social democracy in contrast to the neoliberal ideology of the Republican and Democratic parties, which Bernie Sanders has so eloquently attacked. However, the institutions of the European Union, especially its executive the European Commission practice a neoliberal ideology and pro-business policies as aggressive as counterparts in the United States.

    This is not a recent change, but a long-maturing trend going back at least to when Helmut Kohl of the right-wing Christian Democratic Union replaced the Social Democrat Helmut, Schmidt, as chancellor of Germany. The misplaced belief that Jacques Delors , EC president for ten years, was committed to social democracy perpetuated the illusion of a progressive EU. While no reactionary like Kohl, the French socialist politician supported market oriented "reform" of the European Union's economic policies.

    By the 2000s neoliberals had taken firm control of the European Commission, manifested most obviously in the 1992 Maastricht Treaty. The step-by-step legal codification of EU reactionary economic policies goes far beyond legislation enacted in the United States. As a result, it should surprise no one that in Britain and on the continent support for membership in the European Union splits progressives. In Britain the issues looms large, with a referendum on continued membership scheduled for 23 June.

    The progressive case of membership is a hard row to hoe.

    Loss of Democracy in the European Union

    History provides many examples of authoritarian rule achieved through formally democratic procedures. To these we should add the 2012 EU Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance ( TSCG ), adopted by 25 democratically elected EU governments (the Czech Republic and the United Kingdom took opt-outs ). On an EU website we find the overall purpose of the TSCG boldly highlighted :

    The European Union's economic governance framework aims to detect, prevent, and correct problematical economic trends such as excessive government deficits or public debt levels, which can stunt growth and put economies at risk.

    This bureaucratically bland sentence asserts the power of the unelected European Commission, as the executive of the European Union, to monitor ("detect") whether the public budget of an elected member government conforms to EU fiscal rules. If it does not, the Commission claims the power to prevent the implementation of that budget and to specify the changes ("corrections") required.

    No one can miss the ideological asymmetry of the "governance framework" – deficits can be excessive, but not surpluses. In practice a budget surplus usually goes along with a trade surplus, so that the contractionary effect of the former will be offset the expansionary impact of the latter. Thus, not restricting surpluses carries an implicit mercantilist message.

    The EU website goes on to explain "detection" or "monitoring" as follows ,
    Each year, the EU countries that share the euro as their currency submit draft budgetary plans to the European Commission. The Commission assesses the plans to ensure that economic policy among the countries sharing the euro is coordinated and that they all respect the EU's economic governance rules. The draft budgetary plans are graded as either compliant, partially compliant, or at risk of non-compliance.

    When the EC implements this paragraph literally as it did in Greece, the role national legislatures is to endorse what the Commission judges as "compliant." The TSCG de facto makes member governments formulate their budgets for the Commission not their legislatures, because there would be little point and considerable embarrassment by submitting to parliament a budget that the EC would reject. After the Commission judges the budget as satisfactory the national legislature goes through a pro forma approval process. It will be a small step to require, as in Greece , approval by the EC before revealing the budget to the public.

    The TSCG transfers sovereignty from democratic institutions to an unelected bureaucracy. Were it the case that the EU parliament possessed substantial control over the Commission (which it does not), the TSCG would still be profoundly authoritarian because of the power of the EC bureaucracy over what should be decided democratically.

    Treaty-Protected Mismanagement

    EU fiscal rules, from the Maastricht Treaty to the TSCG are anti-democratic, as well as inflexible to change. The Treaty specifically commits the adopting government to embed the fiscal rules in law in a manner ensuring their "permanent character, preferably constitutional." Embodied in treaties, they can only change through repeal or adoption of additional treaties. Both involve extremely cumbersome and time consuming processes.

    Were the fiscal rules theoretically and practically sound their anti-democratic and inflexible nature would still discredit them. Far from sound, they are technically flawed, mandating macroeconomic mismanagement. The Treaty mandates specific limits to fiscal policy.

    [The Treaty] requires contracting parties to respect/ensure convergence towards the country-specific medium-term…with a lower limit of a structural deficit (cyclical effects and one-off measures are not taken into account) of 0.5% of GDP; (1.0% of GDP for Member States with a debt ratio significantly below 60% of GDP).

    Before considering the wisdom of the 0.5% deficit target, two major technical mistakes standout, 1) the Treaty uses an unsound measure of the fiscal deficit; and 2) the key concept, "structural deficit," is theoretical nonsense.

    The TSCG adopts the Maastricht deficit specification, total revenue minus total expenditure, which is the overall deficit. As the IMF explains in its guidelines for fiscal management , the appropriate measure for sound fiscal management is the primary deficit, which excludes interest payments on the public debt (which if reduced would imply partial default).

    When the TSCG specifies the 0.5% as a "structural deficit" we go from the inappropriate to the absurd. The Commission as well as the usually competent OECD defines "structural deficit" as the deficit that would appear by eliminating cyclical effects; i.e., the deficit when an economy operates at normal capacity.

    Making this concept operational requires an analytically sound method of eliminating cyclical effects, then a clear and consistent measure of normal capacity. The EU structural deficit fails on both criteria. In practice the EC bean-counters make no attempt to eliminate cyclical effects. The method of calculation of normal capacity ignores the cycle altogether by defining normal capacity to the level of output at which the rate of unemployment implies stable inflation (the "non-accelerating inflation rate of unemployment," NAIRU ). Again, the EC bureaucrats reveal their ideology by taking inflation not output or unemployment as measure of economic health.

    The NAIRU would be sufficiently problematical were attempt made to adapt it to the specific institutional characteristics of each country at specific time periods. For example, if the concept has operational validity, it is extremely unlikely that it would assume the same value before and after the 2008-10 global recession. An inspection of the eurostat tables for the actual and "structural" deficits shows no evidence of estimations with country specific adjustments.

    The decidedly dubious nature of the NAIRU is indicated by its nom de guerre , "the natural rate of unemployment." This phrase betrays an underlying ideology that 1) unemployment is a natural phenomenon to which all economies automatically adjust; and 2) inflation always results from excess demand. If the first were true the global recession would not have occurred. The second ignores price pressures arising from traded goods and services, petroleum being the most obvious and price-volatile.

    The possibility of calculating country and time specific normal capacity would not save the 0.5% rule the realm of ideological nonsense. First and foremost, it represents static analysis applied to a dynamic process. The formal statement of the 0.5% would be as follows:

    Economy A operates below normal capacity with a fiscal deficit of 2.5% (for example). Other things unchanged, were economy A at normal capacity the deficit would be 1.5% (for example), above the 0.5% requirement. Therefore, the government of country A must now take steps to reduce expenditure or raise taxes, so if the economy were at full capacity the hypothetical deficit would be 0.5%.

    The 0.5% rule is a hypothetical outcome based on analytically unsound calculations. This "what if" calculation by statisticians is used by an undemocratic bureaucracy to force elected governments to implement contractionary economic policies. The technically unsound, hypothetical 0.5% target mandates a pro-cyclical macroeconomic policy. To render the rule Kafkaesque, after the EC bureaucracy calculates that a government will not meet the hypothetical target, it then mandates contractionary policies that guarantee that the target cannot be achieved. The problem is imaginary and the solution contradictory.

    The wording of the TSCG makes it clear that deviant fiscal behavior by a member country will not be tolerated,
    Correction mechanisms should ensure automatic action to be undertaken in case of deviation from the [structural deficit target] or the adjustment path towards it, with escape clauses for exceptional circumstances. Compliance with the rule should be monitored by independent institutions.

    The "independent institutions" include the European Commission itself, which adds a distinctly Orwellian character to the already Kafkaesque Treaty.

    Painted into a Recessionary Corner

    Market economies pass through cycles of recession and expansion. They suffer from fiscal deficits in recessions, because falling or slow-growing output results in falling or slow-growing revenue. Such circumstances typically result from a drop in private investment or exports. Economies most effectively overcome recessions by the public sector using its spending powers to compensate for the inadequate private demand.

    The TSCG legally prohibits the implementation of this effective countercyclical fiscal policy. It forces member governments to apply policies analogous to the practice 200 years ago of bloodletting to restore health to the ill. It is a Treaty designed to maintain perpetual stagnation across the European continent.

    The term "Six-Pack", the secondary legislation linked to the treaty, is frequently used as synonymous with the TSCG. This is a singularly appropriate nickname for the enabling legislation. The Six-Pack contains the economic equivalent of a pernicious snake oil, a witch's brew to turn minor fiscal problems into recessionary downturns. For those dedicated to a prosperous and harmonious European Union, repeal or replacement of the TSCG stands out as an urgent priority. Fiscal integration on the basis of the TSCG would be disastrous.

    ke , April 20, 2016 at 11:03 am

    What most Americans know about Europe is on a postcard, or the propaganda they were taught in school. The vast majority on this planet is dependent on a MAD money laundering scheme built by Wall Street, copied globally, and automated by WS of the West, silly valley, now strip mining the planet, on auto pilot, with a belief in political discourse, among completely insulated, puppet politicians.

    Back in the day, before joining, Robert R actually said some intelligent things about labor. The crashing actuarial ponzi has been in operation so long it is an assumption. On the one hand money enslaves future generations to the present, and on the other we are all supposed to seek a feudal pension. The casino wins in both directions.

    I have dear friends from H to VI, but sleep walking through life, while natural resources are needlessly strip mined for the sake of maintaining artificial scarcity, is a good way to put it.

    We don't even need oil, but the economy is leveraged on that contract price, to maintain subservient populations. We are choking on excess oil, storing it all over the ocean, and preventing iran/iraq from putting its product on the market, all to confirm a psychology of dependence, like an ant farm, assuming that individual humans can only wander randomly without the benefit of the collective, serving the sociopathic psychologist writing the scripts.

    Funny, there is a shortage of private demand for more incompetent government.

    RabidGandhi , April 20, 2016 at 11:53 am

    Another fundamental difference between the US and EU is the difference in central bank mandates, with the Fed having its dual inflation/employment mandate in its bylaws, but under Maastricht the ECB only has a mandate for low inflation.

    That said, the Fed has a dual way for getting around the dual mandate: playing fast and loose with what is defined as unemployment, and just straight out ignoring it (eg, raising interest rates at the first whiff of possibility that there might be a rumour that someone's uncle's cousin's best-friend's roommate thinks there could eventually be a slight uptick in the CPI). This means, yes there are differences in the founding documents, but is there anywhere in US economic governance that NAIRU is not assumed either?

    Benedict@Large , April 20, 2016 at 3:00 pm

    The dual mandate is a fiction. There's nothing the Fed can do to lower unemployment (though it can raise it by mistake.) The unemployment rate is set by the fiscal policies of Congress and the Executive. The unemployment rate, should they desire, can even be set to zero. That it is not should be sufficient cause for the guillotines.

    RabidGandhi , April 20, 2016 at 4:13 pm

    I definitely agree w/r/t fiscal policy, but I think the point is that at least in the US there is a nominal (but ignored) primum non nocere written into the Fed's by-laws. It is supposed to take actions that will "promote effectively the goals of maximum employment, stable prices and moderate long-term interest rates." What this means is that raising interest rates at the mere rumour of inflation is going against the Fed's mandate– not that anyone in power cares. Meanwhile in Europe they just dispense with the whole fiction of not having a monetary policy that kills employment.

    PlutoniumKun , April 20, 2016 at 12:10 pm

    I think the process of corporate control of the EU was so slow and gradual plenty of left wingers in Europe still haven't really grasped what has happened. From the beginning, there was always a tension within Europe between pressure from corporations for more business friendly policies and the generally social democrat lite views of the original founders. I think though to call it 'neoliberal' is not quite correct – for me 'neoliberal' implies a specific set of policies associated with the Anglosphere – I think in Germany what we've seen is the takeover by a more German flavoured right of centre view – it is similar, but is more generally corporatist and mercantilist in nature with a strong dash of Austrian economics.

    I see the results every day when I step outside my apartment in Dublin. Thats to a focus on privatisation and 'competition', what was once a fully functioning waste collection service in my city has now become a chaotic privatised service, with competing companies driving down the quality. No more proper wheelie bins collected on the same day, instead there are plastic bin bags everywhere, there to be torn apart by seagulls and foxes, scattering rubbish everywhere. All in the name of 'competition', driven by EU Directives. The focus on 'internal competition' is gradually eroding sensible regulation in energy, waste and telecommunications. Supposedly in the interest of the consumer, but we all know who really benefits.

    Fajensen , April 20, 2016 at 5:09 pm

    I don't think all this "competition" really benefits anyone, I believe it's just there for the principle.

    PlutoniumKun , April 21, 2016 at 5:55 am

    Well of course the 'competition' is a myth. As anyone who has witnessed what has happened in electricity markets can see, it has, if anything, raised prices of electricity for consumers. But various powerful interests have done very well indeed. you can see the same process in water and waste services and pretty much anything that has been directly regulated and privatised. The only areas where I think it can be shown that consumers have benefited from competition are in telecommunications and in air travel. And in the former, I suspect the consolidation of the telecom industry will reverse those gains.

    Barry Fay , April 21, 2016 at 10:15 am

    The airlines are a terrible example – in fact, there was a great article treating the airlines as a classic example of "crapification". The seating has become ridiculously cramped (as a way to then "sell" seats that someone can actually sit in!), the service has been basically reduced to the bare minimum, luggage charges are outrageous and ticket prices continue to climb even though one of the major expenses (i.e. fuel!) has become cheaper by 50 per cent. No, the airlines were a bad example.

    financial matters , April 20, 2016 at 1:14 pm

    Nice to read such an excellent analysis. And with very appropriate metaphors.

    "To render the rule Kafkaesque, after the EC bureaucracy calculates that a government will not meet the hypothetical target, it then mandates contractionary policies that guarantee that the target cannot be achieved. The problem is imaginary and the solution contradictory."

    "The "independent institutions" include the European Commission itself, which adds a distinctly Orwellian character to the already Kafkaesque Treaty."

    JEHR , April 20, 2016 at 2:56 pm

    The World is really messed up!

    rfam , April 20, 2016 at 6:34 pm

    I would suggest that any country that doesn't like these rules failed to read the agreement and should exit the EU and start issuing worthless currency. In doing so they can feel free to devalue, run large deficits, borrow all they want and then leave the "neo-liberals" to it. When the banks and hedge funds that over-lend to fund these deficits fail or demand collateral ( http://www.npr.org/sections/money/2012/10/22/163384810/why-a-hedge-fund-seized-an-argentine-navy-ship-in-ghana ) you will discuss their predatory nature.

    Hansrudolf Suter , April 21, 2016 at 6:46 am

    "Thus, not restricting surpluses carries an implicit mercantilist message." EU guidelines fix trade surplus at 6%, Germany is, I believe, in its seventh year of violation and should be fined. That it doesn't happen maybe shows that the elite ruling the EU is German.

    Schofield , April 21, 2016 at 4:43 pm

    Given half a chance some human beings who never got much loving as a child will seek to correct the imbalance by "weaponizing" money and using it against the interests of the majority. For those who've read the psychoanalyst Alice Miller books they will recognize her argument that resentment builds up in the child and needs expression in the form of subconsciously motivated vengeance as an adult!

    [May 05, 2016] Robert Reich Why Is One of Sanders Most Important Proposals Being Ignored

    Notable quotes:
    "... By Robert Reich. Originally published at his website ..."
    "... "it would cost me $500-$1000 maybe more a year" ..."
    April 20, 2016 | naked capitalism
    Yves here. I want to clarify one key issue about a transaction tax. Its purpose is not to raise revenue. Its purpose is to discourage excessive trading, which is socially unproductive. Recently, many studies have found that an outsized financial sector is as drag on growth. The finer-grained ones have identified too many resources devoted to secondary market trading as the cause. "Secondary market trading" is all the buying and selling that happens after a company raises money, as in among investors, not sales of newly-issued securities from a company to investors to raise money. A certain level of secondary market trading is necessary and desirable so that an investor can sell if he wants to (as in he needs liquidity). But overly cheap liquidity makes it attractive to trade for purely speculative purposes, as the collapse in average holding times of NYSE stocks attests.

    Now a transaction tax may indeed raise a lot of revenue. But the intent is to discourage undesirable activity, and it's hard to estimate in advance how much trading volumes would fall with a well-designed transaction tax.

    By Robert Reich. Originally published at his website

    Why is there so little discussion about one of Bernie Sanders's most important proposals – to tax financial speculation?

    Buying and selling stocks and bonds in order to beat others who are buying and selling stocks and bonds is a giant zero-sum game that wastes countless resources, uses up the talents of some of the nation's best and brightest, and subjects financial market to unnecessary risk.

    High-speed traders who employ advanced technologies in order to get information a millisecond before other traders get it don't make financial markets more efficient. They make them more vulnerable to debacles like the "Flash Crash" of May 2010.

    Wall Street Insiders who trade on confidential information unavailable to small investors don't improve the productivity of financial markets. They just rig the game for themselves.

    Bankers who trade in ever more complex derivatives – making bets on bets – don't add real value. They only make the system more vulnerable to big losses, as occurred in the financial crisis of 2008.

    All of which makes Bernie Sanders's proposal for a speculation tax right on the mark.

    He wants to tax stock trades at a rate of 0.5 percent (a trade of $1,000 would cost of $5), and bond trades at 0.1 percent.

    The tax would reduce incentives for high-speed trading, insider deal-making, and short-term financial betting. (Hillary Clinton also favors a financial transactions tax but only on high-speed trading.)

    Another big plus: Given the gargantuan size of the financial market and the huge volume of trading occurring within it every day, this tiny tax would generate lots of revenue.

    Even a 0.01 percent transaction tax (a basis point is one-hundredth of a percentage point, or 0.01 percent) would raise $185 billion over 10 years, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.

    Sanders's 0.5 percent tax could thereby finance public investments that enlarge the economic pie rather than merely rearrange its slices – like tuition-free public education.

    After all, Americans pay sales taxes on all sorts of goods and services yet Wall Street traders pay no sales taxes on the stocks and bonds they buy.

    Which helps explain why the financial industry generates about 30 percent of America's corporate profits but pays only about 18 percent of corporate taxes .

    Naysayers led by the financial industry's lobbyists (the Financial Services Roundtable and Financial Markets Association) warn that even a small tax on financial transactions would drive trading overseas, since financial trades can easily be done anywhere.

    Baloney. The U.K. has had a tax on stock trades for decades yet remains one of the world's financial powerhouses. Incidentally, that tax raises about 3 billion pounds yearly (the equivalent of $30 billion in an economy the size of the U.S.), which is pure gravy for Britain's budget.

    At least 28 other countries also have such a tax, and the European Union is well on the way to implementing one.

    Industry lobbyists also claim the costs of the tax will burden small investors such as retirees, business owners, and average savers.

    Wrong again. The tax wouldn't be a burden if it reduces the volume and frequency of trading – which is the whole point.

    In fact, the tax is highly progressive. The Tax Policy Center estimates that 75 percent of it would be paid by the richest fifth of taxpayers, and 40 percent by the top 1 percent.

    It's hardly a radical idea.

    Between 1914 and 1966, the United States itself taxed financial transactions. During the Great Depression, John Maynard Keynes urged wider use of such a tax to reduce excessive speculation by financial traders. After the Wall Street crash of October 1987, even the first President George Bush endorsed the idea.

    Americans are fed up with Wall Street's financial games. Excessive speculation contributed to the near meltdown of 2008 – which cost millions of people their jobs, savings, and homes.

    So why is it only Bernie Sanders who's calling for a financial transactions tax? Why aren't politicians of all stripes supporting it? And why isn't it a major issue in the 2016 election?

    Because a financial transactions tax directly threatens a major source of Wall Street's revenue. And, if you hadn't noticed, the Street uses a portion of its vast revenues to gain political clout.

    So even though it's an excellent idea championed by a major candidate, a financial transactions tax isn't being discussed this election year because Wall Street won't abide it.

    Which maybe one of the best reasons for enacting it.

    vlade , April 20, 2016 at 5:58 am

    important point – UK has FTT on stocks, it's called stamp duty. despite that, footsie is considered one of the most important non us markets worldwide… so cries of how it would kill the sector are a bit overdone..

    mind you, the rise of cfds and similar to bypass sd led to issues of its own

    Anonymous , April 20, 2016 at 6:06 am

    Need a tax on the derivatives market.

    Yves Smith Post author , April 20, 2016 at 6:36 am

    I would think that would be part of the plan, particularly given the volumes. Sanders tends to do himself a disservice by staying at the 30,000 foot level, which is where execs generally are anyhow. But he doesn't have enough surrogates going into the weeds on his behalf.

    JeffC , April 21, 2016 at 12:13 pm

    Sanders' plan includes a smaller tax on bond trades-0.1%? unreliable memory here-and a smaller one yet on derivatives trades.

    Teddy , April 20, 2016 at 6:42 am

    I'm more of a right winger, but this is one Sanders proposal I can fully support. There's something seriously wrong with an economy that spends gigantic sums on building tunnels for optic cables so transactions can be processed two miliseconds faster. This automated flash trading is against everything financial markets are supposed to be about, it's even against everything that speculation is supposed to be about. I also agree with Yves's assessment that this isn't about revenue extraction, but about curtailing harmful activities. However, given high levels of corruption in US politics and huge profits this new industry enjoys, is such an idea even feasible?

    hemeantwell , April 20, 2016 at 10:49 am

    an idea even feasible?

    I believe I can appreciate why your statement took that discouraged turn. But the next move would be to say that, if such a good idea is made infeasible by a corrupt political order, doesn't that then contribute to its indictment? That's one reason why the current political situation is so changed from ten years ago.

    Paul Jurczak , April 20, 2016 at 7:25 am

    I would add underclocking the stock exchange to augment the effect of transaction tax. It is perfectly sufficient for healthy economic activity to settle the transactions only in equal discrete time intervals, say once every minute. This would starve all HFT parasites, reduce the size of financial sector and its rent extraction from productive economic activity.

    EndOfTheWorld , April 20, 2016 at 7:52 am

    Why is this important proposal being ignored? Bribery.

    RUKidding , April 20, 2016 at 11:25 am

    Possible.

    Sanders' campaign has been mostly kept dark by the M$M (which includes National Propaganda Radio). If one hears/reads much about Sanders in the usual sources, it's usually to patiently explain why he simply cannot win.

    It's exceedingly rare to hear/read much of what the substance of Sanders' campaign compromises, and mostly then, what you'll hear is fatuous twaddle about Sanders' proposal (which isn't fatuous but is presented that way) about free college.

    So one has to come to blogs, such as this one, to learn more. Too bad most citizens don't do that, but that's the way it is. And there's a reason for it. Clearly Sanders, at least, annoys the .01%. They don't want his message getting out. There's a reason for that, as well.

    HotFlash , April 20, 2016 at 8:07 am

    Hmm, I took this as another mark of Bernie's genius. I figure that the 'free public college education' was not only a demonstrable and desirable social good but also a nice carrot to sell the FTT.

    Agree w/Teddy and others about the unfairness of a market that permits nano-second trading for the suitably connected. Secondary market trading beyond basic liquidity does not benefit the real economy. The beneficiaries are speculators and managers whose remuneration is tied to share prices - that is, useless eaters.

    Melk39 , April 20, 2016 at 8:54 am

    The reason it is being ignored is because Bernie touted the tax as way to pay for college for all. The tax on financial transactions makes most people's eyes glaze over, but they are very interested in the idea of free college. So I get the hook, but this means the the tax debate never occurs, all the discussion is about free college. Now both ideas have merit, but each should have its own debate. It would be also a way to build a consensus around a broader policy of finally reigning in Wall Street, including bring back the best parts of Glass Stegall. That's how you get the discussion going. Decouple and debate.

    gadawson , April 20, 2016 at 9:09 am

    The benefits of free academic tuitions are so large they are inestimable due to the myriad of benefits that would cascade throughout the economy. Why would anyone oppose such and how is such a plan pushed aside? Only through the greatest imbalance of invisible intransigent power the world has ever known.

    Doctor Duck , April 20, 2016 at 9:33 am

    This is an important idea, but I don't think I've ever heard at what point such a tax would be imposed. If a large majority of high-speed automated trading results in cancelled trades, it would be of little use in curbing that if it were only applied to completed transactions.

    HotFlash , April 20, 2016 at 12:23 pm

    The point is not necessarily to raise revenue (please, MMT anyone?) but to control behaviour. Putting a drag on HST would in itself be a public good. As I have said before, free tuition is a way to sell a tax on financial transactions. Debate all you like, but decoupling will lose the tax.

    Doctor Duck , April 20, 2016 at 12:59 pm

    I concur that a drag on HFT would be a public good. But my question doesn't imply raising revenue, rather how such a tax would be a drag on HFT in particular. A tax on transactions would (by definition it seems) not apply to cancelled transactions. So how would it impact the behavior of HFT, which relies heavily on cancelled trades, any more than it would any trading?

    Probably "quantized" settling as proposed in another comment would have a greater effect.

    steelhead23 , April 20, 2016 at 1:59 pm

    You are right. If the purpose of the tax is to discourage HFT, the tax should be levied on each and every bid, not just completed transactions. According to Eric Hunsader HFT traders pay big bucks so they can have millisecond faster access to the market – which they use to place multiple bids they never intend to complete, thereby manipulating price, creating volume interest where little exists, etc. To end HFT you would have to tax each bid (at an very small rate, say .01%).

    JSR , April 20, 2016 at 9:52 am

    Are things like ETF's included in this? I understand the need to curb many of the dangerous games of all the value detracting speculation and trading etc,. What I'm struggling with is I may make a few trades a year simply to rebalance my portfolio (amount of trades depends on whether markets are volatile or steady) once certain levels of over/under are reached. My rough calculation of this .05% tax, is it would cost me $500-$1000 maybe more a year. Not outrageous but a sizable enough increase for an infrequent trader/investor and I'm pretty sure, not part of the problem that is trying to be solved here. Plus, as if I'm not angry enough at Wall Street (I used to work in the industry, left of my own volition) it makes me wonder if I'm not being financially penalized for their greed and criminality. I want to support this but I hope there will be a little nuance (not too much though to ruin the whole purpose) to not ensnare everyone who makes a trade once in awhile.

    FluffytheObeseCat , April 20, 2016 at 3:16 pm

    "it would cost me $500-$1000 maybe more a year"

    Unlikely. I suspect the 0.5% mark is an initial bargaining position. What everyone seems to be anxious to forget (or have forgotten) is that Sen. Bernie "amendment king" Sanders has been in Congress for a loonnng time. If he's floating 0.5% in position papers, policy proposals, etc., it's because he's aiming to get 0.1 – 0.2% enacted. 200 bucks a year won't injure anyone who can manage to maintain a brokerage account.

    If the guy were truly the absent-minded, flyaway-haired nutty old dodderer the MSM wants him to be, he'd never have made it this far in life.

    Pat , April 20, 2016 at 9:57 am

    I realize that probably most of the objection to this is being fueled by the large houses own high frequency trading. I mean when you finance your own algorithms to figure out how to micro trade at high volume…you are talking about a lot of money. But I would also bet that some of it is the mutual fund and individual trader sector of the market. It isn't really about hurting the small investor, it is about discouraging the small investor from trading as frequently. They are seeing their commissions get cut, because Mom and Pop don't like the tax and put the brakes on. The stability of our economy and of our markets be damned, not to mention customer service.

    Jim A. , April 20, 2016 at 10:23 am

    My worry is that the financial giants would put enough lawyers on this to try and try to create a way to avoid paying this financial tax in pretty much the same way that they figured out how to not pay title recording fees. They would create an exchange (no doubt called something different) that would own large numbers of shares and trade some sort of "future" or agreement to transfer amongst each other. Can you have a 1 second future contract? .01 second?

    RUKidding , April 20, 2016 at 11:19 am

    You echo a concern I have about this as well. These parasites and their shyster lawyers are very good at finding or creating loopholes that benefits them, alone.

    That said, it's worth investigating and attempting to implement. It's equally worth more wide-spread discussion about why it's needed and what's happening, but I won't hold my breath on that score.

    There have been one or two programs highlighting these high speed transactions on NPR, fwiw, albeit I don't believe – no surprise – that any solution was suggested.

    RN , April 20, 2016 at 10:24 am

    More practical solutions will be (1) to delink capital gains tax from income tax and (2) to collect capital gains tax at source.

    Benedict@Large , April 20, 2016 at 11:14 am

    Correct. No tax by the sovereign issuer of the currency has as it's purpose the raising of revenue, of which the sovereign issuer already has an infinite supply. Taxes by the sovereign issuer merely serve to regulate demand.

    Of course, try to explain to anyone inside the beltway how their currency actually works, and they'll think you are crazy. They've been told incorrectly for 40 years, and DAMMIT! That's enough to make it right.

    Beniaminio , April 20, 2016 at 11:21 am

    Forgive my ignorance, but I don't see why a blanket transaction tax of 0.5% or whatever would be preferable to a transaction tax of 5-10% applicable to the actual bad actors, i.e., the high-frequency traders. It seems like it would be easy enough to assess a genuinely punitive tax against the actual "speculators" who are flipping shares over the course of single trading session, i.e., to tax both HFT and day-trading out of existence. I also fail to see how a transaction tax of general application would significantly inhibit insider trading.

    I think Reich is being a bit tone-deaf here. In a ZIRP environment, conservative investors are effectively foisted into the stock market, and are then reviled as speculators. Is it no longer politically acceptable for the little people to invest accumulated capital? We can't all live off of political consulting and paid speeches like former Clinton-era cabinet ministers.

    FluffytheObeseCat , April 20, 2016 at 3:30 pm

    Oh, please. I've been "in the market" in mutual funds and lesser amounts of directly held stock for 20 years. If I traded enough to generate +$200 in transaction taxes, it would be a sign that I was getting bad advice, & was stupid enough to take it. If Bernie's transaction tax were enacted, it would eradicate most institutional HFT efforts in under a year. Over a decade, it's greatest benefit may be in slowing the erosion of middle class wealth by reducing excessive trading and associated fee skimming.

    The guys in dress shirts in your local MSSB office in flyover are not actually your friends, and their service fees are much, much larger than they need to be in this era of electronic trading.

    Beniamino , April 20, 2016 at 11:07 pm

    Guys in dress shirts in flyover country? Uh …. what? I'm not sure I'm following but you appear to be saying that you've conducted less than $40,000 in stock & mutual fund trades over the course of twenty years; in other words you don't care about the actual merits of this transaction-tax proposal because you don't have any money to invest anyway. Not a particularly compelling argument. At any rate, I thought the point of the proposal was to curb rank speculation, not to discourage old ladies from buying utility stocks. So why not target the actual speculators?

    Chauncey Gardiner , April 20, 2016 at 11:30 am

    Sanders' proposal of a securities transaction tax is being ignored for the same underlying reason proposals to tax accumulated wealth have been ignored.

    "Behind every great fortune there is a great crime." -Balzac

    Carly , April 20, 2016 at 2:11 pm

    The bottom line of why this tax is ignored is the majority of people who vote doesn't understand how the markets work. So they don't understand how this would work and help. They keep voting for people who won't make any significant changes to our society. Hillary won't be any different she is going to be the same old horse leading the way. Sheeple !

    F. Korning , April 20, 2016 at 2:31 pm

    Cancelled and no-op trades wielded with impunity are the root of the HFT problem. I'm not sure why many here are claiming a tax wouldn't affect cancellations. The tax should be punitive especially for order cancellations under a reasonable holding period. It should also be much higher for non-listed OTC derivatives, repos, and all manner of exotic structured products, special vehicles, and dark pool (un)liquidity. The point is to force skin in the game.

    The Infamous Oregon Lawhobbit , April 20, 2016 at 2:43 pm

    Our gentle host wrote, "I want to clarify one key issue about a transaction tax. Its purpose is not to raise revenue. Its purpose is to discourage excessive trading, which is socially unproductive."

    Makes perfect sense – it's the old adage, "If you tax something, you get less of it. The more you tax, the less you get."

    And if the revenue generated covers enforcement costs, that's weevils in the porridge!

    Angry Panda , April 20, 2016 at 3:25 pm

    The bond part puzzles me to some extent. At least as applied to below investment grade stuff, because obviously Treasuries and IG are different animals.

    First, the whole "high speed, high frequency" thing. Much of the time, it really isn't. I mean, these are instruments that still trade through humans (via the phone or Bloomberg chat), and many of even $500 million plus issues don't trade very often, period. In many bonds probably the most volume you see is immediately after issuance, and that's more a matter of people either flipping a small allocation or topping up to get to their target, with the dealer often pretty much setting up the trades with their allocation strategy. So that's a different animal than straight-up speculation (high frequency or otherwise).

    Second, ok, you're "taxing" bonds effectively 1/8 (0.1%, but I'm rounding as bonds are actually quoted in eighths, maybe sixteenths sometimes), presumably paid by one or both counterparties (split equally between buyer and seller?). I…don't see how that is going to alter much of the trading that goes on. The bid-ask is effectively a bit wider, your mark when you buy something is a little lower (if you use bid-side), people complain more than usual. But High Yield is generally not something where paying up 1/8 is going to make or break your trading strategy, unlike with equities (where the high frequency guys play on fractions of fractions). At most you're looking at trades in "on the margin" issues having a tougher time getting done in stable markets (because in a hot market everyone pays up anyway, while in a rout there is often no bid, period).

    All a long way of saying, bonds – fine. Define the word "bonds". Treasuries? IG? HY? Structured? And you want to realize how much in revenues from that?

    Equities, on the other hand – no brainer. Tax away. If anything, tax them more than is currently proposed, because the point – to me – is not to raise revenue, but to severely disincentivize speculation (of either the high frequency or the regular kinds). Imagine, for example, if the tax was at 10% of the pre-commission trade value (i.e. just shares times price), payable by both buyer and seller. "But Panda, you'll destroy secondary equity trading!" Precisely, children, because at the end of the day most of such contributes absolutely nothing productive to either the society or the economy. Now, maybe I'm much more extreme than the consensus, but my point is that what Sanders is currently proposing is well within what the industry can "eat" without changing its behaviour too much, in my opinion.

    Lyle , April 20, 2016 at 3:55 pm

    Of course before deregulation of commissions the US had a private version of the financial transaction tax in terms of the fixed commissions. One way to compare is to look at commissions compared to the modern commission+ ftt. If the commissions were greater than unless you believe the market 30 years ago was defective it won't make a lot of difference.

    [May 01, 2016] Why I (Belatedly) Blew the Whistle on the SECs Failure to Properly Investigate Goldman Sachs

    Notable quotes:
    "... By James A. Kidney, former SEC attorney. Originally published at Watch the Circus ..."
    "... Pro Publica ..."
    "... Pro Publica's ..."
    "... The New York Times ..."
    "... The New York Times ..."
    "... The New York Times ..."
    "... The New York Times ..."
    "... Dodd-Frank at best imposes generalized rules about bank size and other generic issues, rather than addressing the kinds of fraudulent actions that actually occurred. It is appropriate for the SEC or Federal Reserve to impose narrower changes in corporate practice to address specific kinds of fraud. They are called "undertakings" and are often imposed by civil settlements with the SEC or in litigated relief. It did not happen with the Big Bank frauds. ..."
    "... The only reason to keep the information secret is to prevent embarrassment to the SEC or to those people who made decisions for the agency. Most of them left the SEC years ago. For public consumption, I have tried to redact all names of the non-supervisory personnel in the Division of Enforcement who worked on Goldman. I also must add that, as the emails show, for a period of time those dedicated investigators were excited about the notion of bringing at least a slightly broader action than their supervisors wanted. As is the case with much of the Division of Enforcement, the worker bees try hard and usually are fearless. It is their bosses who frequently suppress their enthusiasm for policy, political, or personal reasons. ..."
    "... The author is trying very hard to be nice to the point of being delusional. This is criminality and corruption through and through, and it didn't end in '08. Don't be sad… get mad. ..."
    "... This man has risked a lot to do what he did. He's lost more than many of you will realize. If he can't just crap on the old life and the old profession, please, cut the man a little slack. You don't want to be him. ..."
    "... James A. Kidney, former trial attorney with the Securities and Exchange Commission, retired from the SEC in 2014 at the age of 66 after 24 years working there. Looks like he had a full career, although had to put up with a lot of bullshit, and possibly soured some relationships on his way out. ..."
    "... Very similar situation here. Going on 50, unemployed in my chosen field, etc. And yes, its hard to just walk away sometimes… I have to keep my mind focused ahead instead of looking back. ..."
    "... I know other whistleblowers and internal dissenters who wound up losing their jobs who initially blame themselves, than come to accept that the system in which they operated was fundamentally corrupt, that even if some people locally really were trying to do the right thing, it was bound to either 1. go nowhere, 2. be allowed to proceed to a more meaningful level if it was cosmetic or served some larger political purpose or 3. got elevated because the organization was suddenly in trouble and they needed to burnish their cred in a big way (a variant of 2, except with 3, you might have a something serious take place by happenstance of timing). ..."
    "... (other whistleblowers) ..."
    "... (other whistleblowers) ..."
    "... (other whistleblowers) ..."
    "... (other whistleblowers) ..."
    "... the system in which they operated ..."
    "... (some employees) ..."
    "... 'investigating fraud' ..."
    April 24, 2016

    Yves here. Two things struck me about Jim Kidney's article below. One is that he still wants to think well of his former SEC colleagues. I know other whistleblowers and internal dissenters who wound up losing their jobs who initially blame themselves, than come to accept that the system in which they operated was fundamentally corrupt, that even if some people locally really were trying to do the right thing, it was bound to either 1. go nowhere, 2. be allowed to proceed to a more meaningful level if it was cosmetic or served some larger political purpose or 3. got elevated because the organization was suddenly in trouble and they needed to burnish their cred in a big way (a variant of 2, except with 3, you might have a something serious take place by happenstance of timing). Kidney does criticize corrosive practices, particularly the SEC stopping developing its own lawyers and becoming dependent on the revolving door, but his criticisms seem muted relative to the severity of the problems.

    Number two, and related, are the class assumptions at work. The SEC does not want to see securities professionals at anything other than bucket shops as bad people. At SEC conferences, agency officials are virtually apologetic and regularly say, "We know you are honest people who want to do the right thing." Please tell me where else in law enforcement is that the underlying belief.

    By James A. Kidney, former SEC attorney. Originally published at Watch the Circus

    The New Yorker and Pro Publica websites today posted an article by Pro Publica's Jesse Eisinger about the de minimis investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission into the conduct of Goldman Sachs in the sale of derivatives based on mortgage-backed securities during the run-up to the Great Recession of 2008. The details of the SEC's failure to aggressively pursue Goldman in the particular investigation, Abacus, and its refusal to investigate fully misconduct by Goldman and other "Too Big to Fail" banks, stands not only as a historic misstep by the SEC and its Division of Enforcement, but undermines the claim that the Obama Administration has been "tough on Wall Street." The Pro Publica version contains links to a few of the documents I provided.

    No one in authority who was involved in the Goldman investigation ever gave me an explanation for why the effort was so slight. Mr. Eisinger's article doesn't offer any explanation from the one investigation participant brave enough to comment. The details of the investigation into Abacus at my level as trial counsel, which I provided to Pro Publica earlier this year, compels the conclusion that the SEC, its chairman at the time, Mary Schapiro, and the leadership of the Division of Enforcement were more interested in a quick public relations hit than in pursuing a thorough investigation of Goldman, Bank of America, Citibank, JP Morgan and other large Wall Street firms.

    Although the emails and documents I produced to Pro Publica stemming from my role as the designated (later replaced) trial attorney for the Division of Enforcement are excruciatingly boring to all but the most dedicated securities lawyer, even a lay person can observe that the Division of Enforcement was more anxious to publicize a quick lawsuit than to follow the trail of clues as far up the chain-of-command at Goldman as the evidence warranted. Serious consideration also never was given to fraud theories in any of the Big Bank cases stemming from the Great Recession that would better tell the story of how investors were defrauded and who was responsible, due either to dereliction or design.

    Instead, the SEC restricted its investigation to the narrowest theory of liability, had to be pressed (by me) to go even one short rung above the lowest level Goldman supervisor in its investigation (which took months to push through, though investigative subpoenas are frequently issued on far less in far smaller cases) and finally dropped other investigations of Goldman in return for a $550 million settlement announced July 15, 2010. To my knowledge (I retired in March 2014), the SEC never again pursued Goldman for its mortgage securities fraud or other major fraud. There is no evidence on the SEC website that it did so.

    Nearly six years later, long after the statute of limitations for securities fraud expired and individuals, pension funds and corporate entities are no longer able to bring private actions against the Big Banks, the Department of Justice announced another settlement with Goldman for its deceptive conduct in the sale of mortgage-backed securities. In this one, Goldman agreed to pay more than $5 billion "in connection with its sale of residential mortgage-backed securities."

    At a minimum, it can be said that the SEC left 90 percent of the money on the table at a time when a more aggressive investigation of the company, as well as others, could have counted for something by disclosing, in a detailed court complaint, Wall Street wrongs that might have helped policy makers better address the subject and allow damaged individuals and entities to bring their own lawsuits.

    It is very important to emphasize emphatically several points. First, I have zero evidence, and would be very surprised, if any of the individuals at the Division of Enforcement, including senior supervisors or the SEC chairman or associate commissioners, acted unlawfully or were motivated principally to protect Goldman and other big banks. All of these people appeared well-intentioned from their point of view, even they never really explained, to me, or to many others at the Commission, their motives in limiting investigations. The most senior level supervisors left more lucrative jobs in the private sector to head the Division of Enforcement, taking plum jobs but at significant personal sacrifice. (They then returned to even more lucrative employment or even more high-profile public positions.) All of them were gentlemen. These factors make it all the more surprising that I never got a clear answer as to why the investigation was so constipated, as it obviously was. Its range was clearly limited from the outset: we will sue the bank and not look hard for evidence of individual participation beyond the lowest levels.

    By the same token, it is unfair to assume as a fact that any of the individuals at Goldman not sued, or anyone at Paulson & Co., violated the securities laws, civilly or criminally. Like any citizen, they are entitled to a day in court. Absent such opportunity, they are innocent of any wrongdoing. Arguments in my internal correspondence that evidence was sufficient to sue should be viewed only as that - arguments.

    So my point in releasing these documents to Pro Publica is not to chastise or hold up to public criticism those involved at the SEC, Paulson & Co. or Goldman, though criticism of the process and of the underlying financial conduct certainly is inevitable. All of these institutions have substantial influence in the investment industry. Rather, it is to bring to light the actual conduct of one of several SEC investigations into Big Bank fraud leading up to the 2008 financial crisis.

    As I told Mr. Eisinger when I met him, I hoped he would go to the individuals in charge of the SEC investigation at the time and find out why the investigation was so limited. I have spent six years wondering what is the true answer to that question. Perhaps there were sound reasons, other than the urge to get out a quick press release, which led experienced criminal prosecutors with histories in Wall Street to smother a major investigation by limiting it to the lowest level employee possible, to express total resistance to even investigating further up the chain of command, and ignoring without serious explanation and analysis what I and others, including my own immediate supervisors, viewed as the more appropriate theory for civil prosecution. I hope there are such reasons. As a trial attorney at the SEC for over 20 years, I bled SEC blue. I believed that the agency usually tried to do the best it could, using analog era procedures and processes to combat fraud in a digital age. I am saddened to release this information. But the notion that "the Administration was tough on Wall Street" must be addressed by facts, not press releases and self-serving interviews, else the system's problems cannot be adequately addressed and repaired to deal with the next financial crisis.

    Not only is the issue of how the financial sector enforcement agencies handled the wrongs of the Great Recession an important political issue, but it is important to history. It is important that the facts not be shielded from the public so that we can all learn for the future. And it is a melancholy thought that, presented with the opportunity for a rigorous investigation and airing of facts in civil or criminal proceedings gone, history will be denied a fairer story of both the financial crisis itself and how the government responded.

    As many news organizations have noted , the taxpayer and Goldman shareholders will pay the combination of penalties and repayments in the DOJ settlement. No individual was named as liable in the civil settlement with Goldman nor in any of the other similar, and even larger, financial settlements entered into with the Department of Justice, all of which are vastly greater than what the SEC obtained in its "quick hit, one and done" enforcement actions. DOJ must be credited with what appears to have been a far more thorough investigation of wrongdoing than the SEC performed, but the public is properly mystified that no individuals were charged, criminally or civilly, although the DOJ press releases contains the usual caveat that "the investigation continues."

    The settlements with Goldman and other Big Banks were resolved under the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act (FIRREA), which allows the Feds to ignore the normal five-year statute of limitations for fraud, but does not permit suit by private party victims. As has been the practice with DOJ when dealing with Wall Street, no criminal charge was brought. In fact, no complaint was filed in any of these cases. Instead, DOJ entered into contractual arrangements with the banks. Failing to fulfill their obligations under the contract would subject them to civil enforcement as a breach of contract matter, not a contempt charge in federal District Court.

    Contrary to claims by politicians, it is clear that the Obama Administration has not been hard-hitting on Wall Street fraudsters. The large fines obtained by the Department of Justice, while a short-term pinch, are simply a cost of doing business. Relying on fines to penalize rich Wall Street banks, which, after all, specialize in making money and do it well, if not always honestly, is like fining Campbell Soup in chicken broth. It costs something, but doesn't change anything in the way of operations or personnel.

    Despite billions in fines representing many more billions in fraud, the enforcement agencies of the United States have been unable to find anyone responsible criminally or civilly for this huge business misconduct other than a janitor or two at the lowest rung of the companies. Nor have they sought to impose systemic changes to these banks to prevent similar frauds from happening again.

    Yessir, according to the Obama administration, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Bank of America, Citibank and other institutions made their contributions to tearing down the economy, but no one was responsible. They are ghost companies. And nothing needs to be done to prevent such intent or dereliction in the future.

    Law enforcement by contract? Clearly, the banks made it a condition of settlement that no complaint, civil or criminal, be filed. That might gum up the works by requiring state regulators to take action under their own rules, or cause other collateral consequences.

    Ah, say the defenders of the status quo, don't forget about Dodd-Frank, the unwieldy legislation passed by feckless Democrats influenced by big money contributors and their own fear of appearing too aggressive (a particular Democratic Party contagion). Dodd-Frank was and is a virtual chum pool for Wall Street lawyers and lobbyists, leaving most of the substance to regulatory agencies such as the SEC and the Federal Reserve, who for years have been significantly captured by those they are supposed to regulate. The private sector lawyers and lobbyists have open doors to these places to "help" write the rules and add complexity, which they later complain about in court, challenging those same rules as too complex.

    Dear citizen, just remember this: complexity favors fraud, and certainly favors Wall Street and corporate America. You can't understand the rules and neither can Congress or all but the most dedicated experts. That's a lot of room to disguise misdeeds. To take a current example, which came to my attention just before completing this post, Congress is trying to use sentencing reform, generally thought of as intending to remove inequities from the criminal justice system, to also make it even tougher to prosecute and punish white-collar crime. Is this why the Koch Brothers suddenly show such public attention to the poor and needy by favoring such legislation? See this discussion of adding the "mens rea" requirement to such legislation. Burying an important but legalistic issue in otherwise liberal leaning legislation is a current example of disguising lax enforcement of white-collar crime in a complicated package. As one Democratic congressman suggested, how can a liberal vote against sentencing reform? The explanation of the badger buried in the woodpile is too complicated for the average voter.

    Not coincidentally, adding a requirement to the law that it is a defense to either the crime itself or to sentencing that "I didn't know my acts were against the law" is a get out of jail free card as the complexity of laws addressed to ever more sophisticated business misconduct grows. Wall Street clearly has shown no shame in using the defense that "no one knew". Can't blame them. It has worked so far. Maybe they don't even need new legislation.

    I was told repeatedly when I entered the Goldman investigation that synthetic CDOs were just too complex for me to understand. Of course, it appeared to be plain vanilla fraud selling a product designed to fail but nicely packaged for chumps to buy. Claims of complexity hide many easily understood sins.

    At least for the major sins, we don't need even more complex regulations. Instead, put leadership in place who will aggressively enforce the laws we have already. That would raise plenty of eyebrows and put some bums in prison, or at least make them pay civil and criminal penalties personally. As many have noted, prison or, at least, personal financial liability, beats corporate concessions every time and pays back in future reluctance to break the law. The country should try it sometime.

    So back to little me, a small and ineffective cog in the larger system. Why is this release of documents so long after the investigation?

    My friends know that I have been upset since 2010 about the way the SEC handled the Goldman case and, in my view (confirmed by other trial lawyers), that it became a template for other SEC civil suits against the Big Banks. In 2011 I wrote an anonymous letter to The New York Times complaining about the lack of investigative effort by the Division of Enforcement and the impact of the "revolving door" bringing Wall Street defense lawyers into the highest reaches of the SEC. This is a practice that Obama has continued at most departments and agencies having to do with the financial system, following in Bill Clinton's footsteps. The New York Times letter was based entirely on publicly available information.

    I was dismayed to not find any follow-up to my letter in The New York Times . I gave up trying to bring attention to the investigative lassitude of the agency. Interest appeared to be over.

    A year after I retired, I sent a copy of the letter to The Times , under a cover letter identifying myself. One of the addressees on the original letter called and told me the original letter never was received. The caller suggested that was because I misaddressed it to the old location of The New York Times . I felt foolish, of course, but I guess that in 2014, when the letter was finally received, The Times didn't see fit to follow-up the information even knowing its source. This was another indication to me that the time for debate over the law enforcement treatment of wrong doers on Wall Street had passed.

    Once, years earlier and only for a brief time, the SEC was an agency that was at least sometimes fearless of Wall Street institutions. In those days, the directors of the Division of Enforcement were home-grown, not imported from Wall Street law firms. After 1996, that ended. Every director since has been nurtured as a Wall Street defense lawyer. The decline in performance has followed an expected arc. No one has seemed bothered by this. It seems the phrase "lawyers represent client interests" is sufficient explanation to insulate this practice from critics. In this view (pushed by lawyers), lawyers are the only people in America who are not influenced by their work experience, including friendships and defense of client practices. They are SO exceptional! So give it up, Jim, I finally told myself. It's the nature of Washington to put foxes in hen houses and claim they are protecting the fowl.

    But in April 2015, Sen. Bernie Sanders announced his presidential candidacy, based principally on anger over how Wall Street has escaped being held seriously responsible for its misdeeds. If you credit Sanders with nothing else, praise him for not letting go of the notion of justice for those who suffered and those who caused pain and anger for millions. Yes, the banks are not solely responsible for the Great Recession, but they contributed more than their fair share and leveraged immensely the damage initially caused by others.

    Sanders was not treated seriously. The publications I read made it clear that Sanders was, like Donald Trump, a flash in the pan. Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton would be nominated. Anger against Wall Street and inequality were issues, but not worthy vehicles for a political campaign. Nothing here. Move on.

    It turns out that the ravages caused by Wall Street are the gift that keeps on giving. As Sanders campaigned with far more success than predicted, and Secretary of State Clinton defended President Obama as "tough on Wall Street," it was evident that my small contribution to correcting the record might be timely.

    So here it is.

    Do I think Obama is responsible for the ineffective and embarrassing lay downs at the SEC and DOJ? Yes, I do. I have no idea if the President communicated to his law enforcement appointees that they should "go easy on Wall Street." Rarely is such overt instruction necessary in Washington. But it is not hard to believe that in some fashion he did send such signals, since he came into office with a mantra of letting bygones be bygones, including in the far more important arena of the false narratives for invading Iraq.

    In any event, the chairman of the SEC and the attorney general are appointed by the President. At a minimum, we can say with certainty that Obama was satisfied with their performance. It is difficult to conceive that, as a Harvard educated lawyer who also taught law at the University of Chicago, it never crossed his mind how massive civil or criminal misconduct could go on without the supervision or knowledge of at least mid-level executives. Certainly, the public criticism was brought to his attention. His response was to create a joint task force on the subject of fraud in general. Its main visible public function is to collect all the press releases on fraud prosecutions, including small-time fraud, on one website . It also offers advice to "elders" on how to avoid fraudulent scams. The pro forma mention of the task force in DOJ's announcement of the Goldman settlement signals that the Task Force doesn't do much. Again, law enforcement by press release.

    The alternative possibility, never mentioned because it is preposterous, is that big Wall Street firms so lack supervision of their lower level employees that fraud on a huge scale can be conducted without the knowledge of even mid-level executives. At the SEC, at least, such a conclusion should call for application of its "regulatory" function to impose supervisory conditions on the banks. No such action was ever undertaken. Instead, it was "pay up some money and nevermind."

    Dodd-Frank at best imposes generalized rules about bank size and other generic issues, rather than addressing the kinds of fraudulent actions that actually occurred. It is appropriate for the SEC or Federal Reserve to impose narrower changes in corporate practice to address specific kinds of fraud. They are called "undertakings" and are often imposed by civil settlements with the SEC or in litigated relief. It did not happen with the Big Bank frauds.

    I believe that the American public is entitled to accurate information about how their government works, including the important regulatory agencies. One way to do this is to fully disclose how the sausage is made, especially when the process is defective. Self-promoting press releases swallowed by a fawning business press is not sufficient. I knew I would not disclose any non-public information about the Goldman investigation while the lawsuit against Fabrice Tourre was pending. He was the one guy at Goldman the SEC sued personally. In fact, I think he was the only guy employed by any of the big banks sued personally. (Another fellow who worked with the banks - not for the banks - was sued in another case. He was found not liable, with the jury asking how come higher-ups were not in the dock and urging the investigation to continue. It wasn't.) The Tourre case concluded a few years ago with a verdict against the defendant. All appeals are exhausted. The statute of limitations has expired for private actions. Disclosure of the information I had can do no harm to the public or to pending litigation.

    The only reason to keep the information secret is to prevent embarrassment to the SEC or to those people who made decisions for the agency. Most of them left the SEC years ago. For public consumption, I have tried to redact all names of the non-supervisory personnel in the Division of Enforcement who worked on Goldman. I also must add that, as the emails show, for a period of time those dedicated investigators were excited about the notion of bringing at least a slightly broader action than their supervisors wanted. As is the case with much of the Division of Enforcement, the worker bees try hard and usually are fearless. It is their bosses who frequently suppress their enthusiasm for policy, political, or personal reasons.

    As final egotistical end note, I must say that, despite all of my personal reservations about his dedication to effective law enforcement in the financial sector, I voted for the President twice. I will vote for whoever is the Democratic nominee. But I ask myself: Is this the best that two political parties given de facto monopoly over selection of presidential candidates can do?

    Whoever is nominated and elected, Republican or Democrat, I hope that he or she will recognize the need to end the practice of hiring Wall Street personnel to run our financial enforcement agencies. They should begin by looking to home-trained personnel to lead the major departments and agencies, such as Treasury, the SEC and the Department of Justice, including the chief of the Antitrust Division. These are the people who are responsible for these institutions on a daily basis and also understand the nature and importance of their mission. They have a career stake in doing an effective job. Outsiders are, in general, more interested in resume polishing for the next private job. Additionally, much great talent leaves these agencies for their own more lucrative private careers when they see their own chances for advancement blocked by outsiders or their energies trying to fairly but aggressively enforce the law sapped by timid leadership.

    One party has chastised our government on every occasion for nearly 40 years and shows no intention of reining in Big Business or Wall Street. Directly or by implication, these attacks tarnish government employees in general, making a public service career less attractive to our most talented citizens. The other party has been indifferent or ineffective in its defense of civil service and has addressed financial sector wrongs by adding to the complexity of the system rather than cutting through it. As a result, some of our businesses are above the law.

    Something has got to change. It will. The question is, will it be for the better?

    Gaylord , April 24, 2016 at 4:40 am

    The author is trying very hard to be nice to the point of being delusional. This is criminality and corruption through and through, and it didn't end in '08. Don't be sad… get mad.

    James Levy , April 24, 2016 at 6:24 am

    When it's your career, you get sad.

    A little history: I was hired, first as an adjunct, then a tenure-track professor, by the interdisciplinary Freshman teaching unit at my old university. Two years before I would have come up for tenure (and gotten it) they axed the program and switched me, against its will, to the History Department. And they reset my tenure clock to zero. Long story short, they were never going to tenure me. So I slogged on and earned my pay and got my two kids through high school. By then, my wife wanted out of the suburbs and said she was leaving, preferably with me, but leaving. So we moved to the country. This cut me off from the academic life (and nice $72,000 a year paycheck) that I had struggled for years to enter and excel in.

    So what? So, It's gone. I'm cut off. My intended life's work is ruined. At 51 I'm an unemployed naval historian with two books and seven refereed journal articles and I can't get an interview for a full-time job at a community college. How painful is this? It's murder. Hurts all the time. No more exciting lectures to give. No more university library at my beck and call. No more access to journals. No more conferences. It's an occasional one-off course and driving a delivery van.

    This man has risked a lot to do what he did. He's lost more than many of you will realize. If he can't just crap on the old life and the old profession, please, cut the man a little slack. You don't want to be him.

    H. Alexander Ivey , April 24, 2016 at 6:58 am

    Mr Levy, I am very sympathetic to your situation – long story short, I was in the forefront of the late 70s to the present, layoffs in various industries where I found myself game-fully employed. I too, no longer believe I will ever be employed full time at any job.

    But I argue that it is not that the gods do not favour us; it is that we are the outcome of bad gov't policies and unregulated (regulated for the consumer) businesses practices. Hence, my lack of sympathy or willingness to tolerate breast beating (see my April 24, 2016 at 6:44 am posting) by those who put us here.

    ahimsa , April 24, 2016 at 7:48 am

    @James Leavy

    Not sure I follow you?

    James A. Kidney, former trial attorney with the Securities and Exchange Commission, retired from the SEC in 2014 at the age of 66 after 24 years working there. Looks like he had a full career, although had to put up with a lot of bullshit, and possibly soured some relationships on his way out.

    From Bloomberg: SEC Goldman Lawyer Says Agency Too Timid on Wall Street Misdeeds

    inode_buddha , April 24, 2016 at 7:57 am

    Very similar situation here. Going on 50, unemployed in my chosen field, etc. And yes, its hard to just walk away sometimes… I have to keep my mind focused ahead instead of looking back.

    Are there any yacht clubs nearby you? There is like 4 of them within 10 minutes of me (I'm on the Great Lakes) You could teach sailing and rigging no doubt. Bonus: Union crane operators are required to know their rigging – they may need teachers too.

    Norb , April 24, 2016 at 10:54 am

    More than ever, I am convinced the capitalist system needs to be rejected as the means determining how goods and services are delivered. The injustice and inequality generated are too great. Finding a positive expressive outlet for this dissatisfaction will require leadership- and a new vision for the future.

    The amount of social damage being inflicted by the elite is almost beyond comprehension. Since they have successfully insulated themselves form the consequences of their actions, they remain aloof and uncaring for the plight of ordinary people, not to mention the health of the planet. This system will continue to cut more and more people off from the benefits of collective social action and effort. The work of the many, supporting the desires of the few cannot stand.

    We all have to decide the level of inequality we are willing to live with. How people answer this question will naturally sort them into common communities. Leave the isolated gated communities to the elite. Careerism, like capitalism, is a dead end if your position cannot be guaranteed. The amount of talent and passion for work wasted under the current system is another undercounted fact. Sustainability and democracy are not compatible with capitalism.

    Getting mad is only the beginning. The anger must be directed in some productive fashion. Any resistance to the current order must have broad social support and that support only has strength if self-reliant. Building these self-reliant structures is what the future will hold. If the plutocrats can build a world for themselves, why can't the common man. It only takes work,discipline, and control over the means of production.

    Workers without power, influence, and the means to obtain life necessities are slaves. Is the best the human mind can conceive a life of benevolent serfdom?

    By the way, I believe I would enjoy sitting in on one of your lectures. I'm sure I would learn much- and be a better man for it.

    local to oakland , April 24, 2016 at 11:43 am

    @James Levy … sorry to hear. I know a few who have been chewed up by the academic meat grinder. I hope you can find a productive outlet for your scholarship. Exile is hard.

    I have been helped by the stoics, and Dante.

    Ben , April 24, 2016 at 10:01 am

    And now GS is caught in the middle of 1MDB bond issue scandal using fraudulent and information.

    H. Alexander Ivey , April 24, 2016 at 6:44 am

    "The explanation of the badger buried in the woodpile is too complicated for the average voter."

    That's it! Stop right there! I will not let you (speaking to the author) BS your guilty conscience over my internet link. The average voter clearly knows they are getting screwed, that Wall Street and the voter's own bank is ripping the voter off, and most clearly, that the justice department, from state and local to federal, is enabling this injustice.

    You sir, are swimming with sharks. Your morality is "is it legal?", your justification is "for the shareholder". Therefore, you refuse to see the mendacity and instead excuse it for ignorance.

    JACK SKWAT , April 24, 2016 at 7:39 am

    I know other whistleblowers and internal dissenters who wound up losing their jobs who initially blame themselves, than come to accept that the system in which they operated was fundamentally corrupt, that even if some people locally really were trying to do the right thing, it was bound to either 1. go nowhere, 2. be allowed to proceed to a more meaningful level if it was cosmetic or served some larger political purpose or 3. got elevated because the organization was suddenly in trouble and they needed to burnish their cred in a big way (a variant of 2, except with 3, you might have a something serious take place by happenstance of timing).

    Wow, that's a mouthful – and it's only one sentence. Whilst I love your pieces, I've noticed that many of the articles – at least the run up summation to the articles – tend to be written in a stream-of-consciousness style that, frankly, is hard to digest. This seems to be the case more now than in the past. I don't know if you're harried or on an impossible schedule, but could you please make your syntax easier to read? Thanks from a long-time reader and donator.

    readerOfTeaLeaves , April 24, 2016 at 3:18 pm

    Because it's a Sunday and I have time to goof off, one potential revision - b/c I believe what Mr Kidney has to say is important enough for me to spend a few minutes on one potential suggestion. I've amended and added what I hope are accurate meanings:

    ----
    Focusing on these as the key subject /verb pairs:
    I know (other whistleblowers)
    (other whistleblowers) [lost their jobs]
    (other whistleblowers) [blamed themselves – initially]

    (other whistleblowers) [finally… accept]
    the system in which they operated … [was corrupt]
    … even if… (some employees) tried to [be competent]

    (It - there's a problem with 'it' as the subject, because we are unclear what 'it' refers back to - I'll interpret 'it' as 'investigating fraud' ) was bound to…
    -------------–

    I know other whistleblowers and internal dissenters. They wound up losing their jobs.
    Initially, they blamed themselves, until they finally came to accept that the system in which they operated was so fundamentally corrupt that they could not retain a sense of their own integrity while working within the organization.

    Despite the fact that some people really were trying to do the right thing, for reasons that I will explain, investigating fraud was bound to go in one of only three directions:
    1. fraud would not be investigated at all,
    2. fraud investigation would serve the agency's need for better public relations - in other words, the appearance of fraud investigation would be allowed to proceed, but only if it was merely cosmetic (or served some larger political purpose), or else
    3. fraud investigation became temporarily elevated, but only because the organization* was suddenly in trouble – and consequently, needed to burnish its credibility by actually investigating fraud.

    (Although 3 is a variant of 2, in the third option, credible fraud investigation could occur if, and only if, political necessity enabled competent SEC employees to actually investigate fraud in order to maintain the reputation of the SEC).

    [NOTE: *It's not entirely clear here whether 'the organization' is the target business, or whether it is the SEC (which would need to burnish it's cred in the face of bad publicity)]
    ------------

    Not sure how close I came to the author's intended meanings, but I thought that I'd give it a shot.

    Yves Smith Post author , April 24, 2016 at 4:25 pm

    The sentence parses correctly even though it is long. Stream of consciousness often does not parse correctly, plus another characteristic is the jumbling of ideas or observations. The point is to try to recreate the internal state of the character.

    For instance, from David Lodge's novel "The British Museum Is Falling Down":

    It partook, he thought, shifting his weight in the saddle, of metempsychosis, the way his humble life fell into moulds prepared by literature. Or was it, he wondered, picking his nose, the result of closely studying the sentence structure of the English novelists? One had resigned oneself to having no private language any more, but one had clung wistfully to the illusion of a personal property of events. A find and fruitless illusion, it seemed, for here, inevitably came the limousine, with its Very Important Personage, or Personages, dimly visible in the interior. The policeman saluted, and the crowd pressed forward, murmuring 'Philip', 'Tony', 'Margaret', 'Prince Andrew'.

    More generally:

    The Stream of Consciousness style of writing is marked by the sudden rise of thoughts and lack of punctuations.

    The sentence may be longer than you like but this is not stream of consciousness. A clear logical structure ("first, second, third") is the antithesis of stream of consciousness.

    fiscalliberal , April 24, 2016 at 8:13 am

    I fail to see why fraud is not prosecuted. We can get cute with fancy words but fraud is clear and simple. Also – Enron results in SARBOX which seems to be clearly ignored. Yves – do we know of any SARBOX prosecutions? Clinton started deregulation, Bush implemented deregulation and Obama maintains it. No wonder the kids are mad. The financial industry makes the Koch brothers look like pikers.

    Yves Smith Post author , April 24, 2016 at 4:30 pm

    There is actually a high legal bar to prosecuting fraud.

    I have written at length re Sarbox and the answer is no. And under Sarbox, you don't need to prosecute, you can start with a civil case and flip it to criminal if you get strong enough evidence in discovery. There was only one case (IIRC, with Angelo Mozilo) where the SEC filed Sarbox claims, one in which it also filed securities law claims. The judge threw out the Sarbox claims with no explanation. I assume it was because the judge regarded that as doubling up: you can do Sarbox or securities law (the claims to have some similarity) but not both. But the SEC as it so often does seems to have lost its nerve after that one.

    afisher , April 24, 2016 at 9:22 am

    Interestingly, the SEC has been warned about more of the same type of fraud: https://www.sec.gov/comments/s7-16-15/s71615-60.pdf

    I don't know if an election would have consequences and if a new administration headed by Sanders would make it the SEC more responsible to the taxpayers and not the investors / banks.

    It only took a decade for Markopolos to have his ponzi scheme information read by SEC.

    diptherio , April 24, 2016 at 9:48 am

    I want to like this guy, I really do. But then he goes and says stuff like this:

    The most senior level supervisors left more lucrative jobs in the private sector to head the Division of Enforcement, taking plum jobs but at significant personal sacrifice. (They then returned to even more lucrative employment or even more high-profile public positions.) All of them were gentlemen. These factors make it all the more surprising that I never got a clear answer as to why the investigation was so constipated, as it obviously was.

    So he doesn't understand how the revolving door works…or he does but he's being purposefully obtuse about it. Sacrifice my ass! Gentleman my heiny! And claiming that there's no proof of criminality when, as is pointed out above, Sarbanes-Oxley was obviously violated isn't helping things either.

    Listen dude, pick a side. It's either the American people or Wall Street crooks and their abettors in government. You don't get to have it both ways. This kind of minimization and wishy-washyness is only helping the crooks. More disappointing than I exepected.

    diptherio , April 24, 2016 at 9:59 am

    I mean, at least he lays blame at Obama's feet, and calls the fraud what it is: fraud. Good on him!

    …But then he pulls out the "vote for Dems no matter what they do!" line and I just shake my head….

    polecat , April 24, 2016 at 1:37 pm

    diptherio……. excuse me for a momen--BARFFFF!!!!!!-- Whew ……… that felt better !! ……….

    yes …I agree….these kinds of articles are nothing more than defensive measures against a growing public rage !!!

    bu…bu…but Just Us !!

    diptherio , April 24, 2016 at 5:18 pm

    these kinds of articles are nothing more than defensive measures against a growing public rage !!!

    I don't actually agree. I think the guy feels a little guilty for not doing more, now he's trying to salve his conscience. Still, he can't quite bring himself to admit that the people he was working for may well have been criminals. They were just so nice!

    Self-reflection is not comfortable, and most people don't have much tolerance for it. I think this guy's legitimately trying to do the right thing (not cover up for criminality) it's just that it's really psychologically difficult to admit certain aspects of reality. It's not like he's the only one.

    polecat , April 24, 2016 at 6:07 pm

    I find it telling that suddenly now (within the last year or so) that all these people ( people in high finance, their underlings, traders, hedge funders, and other assorted enablers of massive fraud upon the general public, are suddenly having a 'come to hayzeus' epiphany! I'm not buying whatever faux sincerity they're trying to project…….

    They've screwed millions of trusting people with their fraudulent grifting!

    reslez , April 24, 2016 at 7:09 pm

    > I find it telling that suddenly now (within the last year or so) that all these people […], are suddenly having a 'come to hayzeus' epiphany!

    Especially when it comes after a fat retirement and a lengthy career of going along. I have much more respect for people who really did put their daily bread on the line, and there are plenty of those people, a lot of whom Obama sent to jail. So, yeah, great, you finally told the truth… but where were you when the country needed you to speak out?

    perpetualWAR , April 24, 2016 at 11:32 am

    How about where the guy said "until proven guilty, they are innocent." Hahahahahahaha

    Crooks, the lot of them.

    diptherio , April 24, 2016 at 12:59 pm

    Couldn't we use civil forfeiture to go after them regardless of whether we can prove any actual crime? What's good for the average citizen is surely good for the elite banker…

    polecat , April 24, 2016 at 1:42 pm

    …but you just might need some of those 'Yehadis' to back you up ;-)

    reslez , April 24, 2016 at 7:06 pm

    It's a good thing they're gentlemen. I don't know if I could handle all the looting and self-dealing if it came from common ruffians. Truly we are fortunate to be in such hands, my fellow countrymen!

    ChrisPacific , April 26, 2016 at 12:36 am

    Yes, I had trouble getting past that line as well. Either he is being ironic or he has a massive blind spot on that point.

    Lars Jorgensen , April 24, 2016 at 10:00 am

    According to Bill Black in a ted talk 2014. After the Savings and loans debacle, where the regulators went after the worst of the worst criminals, they made 30.000 criminal referrals and 1000 procecutions with a 90% succes rate.

    Now after the 2008 crisis, which was 70 times bigger causing 10 million job losses and costing 11 trillion dolllars, the Obama administration has not made one single criminal referral. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-JBYPcgtnGE

    Today I fell over some information about the IMF, that the organization is exempt from legal prosecutions and taxes. Can this be true?

    From the article: "The employees who bare the IMF badge are pretty much exempt from all forms of government intervention. And, according to LisaHavenNews, the IMF "law book," the Articles of Agreement lists the reasons and requirements for exclusion from government mandate."

    http://www.truthandaction.org/revealed-imf-granted-complete-immunity-form-legal-prosecution-taxation/

    polecat , April 24, 2016 at 1:45 pm

    …..criminals are, as criminals do, as criminals take…..

    Steve in Dallas , April 24, 2016 at 2:35 pm

    Thank you, I was hoping someone would mention Bill Black.

    I'm a software/hardware product/business development engineer. In 2008, after 20 years of reading the WSJ and stunned by the sellout to Murdoch, I went to the internet independent media (IM) to follow the 'economic crisis'. Within a few months it was clear to me 1) I had learned nothing of substance reading the WSJ, 2) the U.S. MSM, education system, and government are thoroughly captured/corrupt.

    Being a 'reader' (note: I don't know anyone who reads non-fiction) for me this 'worldview transition' was quite natural, nothing really surprised me, and it was a big relief to discover such good information/analysis so easily available on the internet. However, eight years later, I have yet to meet a single person who has rejected the MSM or tuned in to what's happening, via the IM or otherwise. In fact, after leaving the university in 1990, I have yet to meet a single person with any basic understanding of (or the slightest interest in, or concern about) the extreme institutional criminality of the the Savings & Loan Crisis, Asian Economic Crisis, Technology Bubble, the 2008 crisis, or the many economic/military wars-of-aggression methodically destroying one government/economy/country after another.

    To me, nothing made the global/economic/organized/mafia criminality more clear than the 2008/2009 articles by Bill Black. Back then I again foolishly assumed people would rally behind Dr. Black to reestablish basic law enforcement against yet another obvious largest-ever "epidemic" of organized crime. Looking back, the highly organized (and very successful) criminality of the Paulson/Obama/Geithner/Bernanke/etc. cabal was truly an amazing operation to behold. Perhaps the most shocking news came in 2010 when numerous studies confirmed that the top 7% of Americans had already "profited" from the economic crisis, that the criminally organized upper class had not only increased their net wealth but, more importantly, had increased their rate of wealth accumulation relative to the bottom 93%. Still, to me, infinitely more amazing, the bottom 93% didn't, and still don't, seem to care, or if they do, they've done absolutely nothing to even start to fight back.

    Today, when reading these articles, I'm astounded how completely meek and 'unorganized' the bottom 93% are compared to the extremely vicious and organized top 7%. Year after year the wealthy elite, who's core organizing philosophy is "take or be taken, kill or be killed", increasingly wallow in dangerously high and unprecedented levels of wealth accumulated by blatant/purposeful/methodical/criminal/vicious looting while their victims, the bottom 93% 'working class', do absolutely nothing (what are they doing?…. other than playing with their phone-toys, facebook, video games, movies?). At this point, the main (only?) reason I continue to 'read' is to perhaps someday 'behold' the working class 93% attempting to educate themselves and consequently 'organize' to defend themselves.

    lightningclap , April 24, 2016 at 4:48 pm

    +1

    diptherio , April 24, 2016 at 5:21 pm

    Dude, you need to move to Austin, stat!

    lyman alpha blob , April 24, 2016 at 10:11 am

    I sympathize with Mr. Kidney and applaud him for doing what he can to try to rectify this abhorrent situation. I also applaud him for placing the blame squarely on Obama and his reasons for doing so are solid.

    What I find much harder to understand is why he would vote for Obama even in 2012 after it became apparent that Obama was ultimately responsible for stonewalling his investigation, and his complete willingness to vote for the corrupt Democrat party no matter what going forward.

    As long as enough people continue to have that attitude things will never change until the whole system comes crashing down. I'd much rather see an FDR-type overhaul of the system rather than a complete collapse as I'm rather fond of civilization. But I've come to expect the latter rather than the former so I'll be reading my weekly Archdruid report for the foreseeable future.

    Carolinian , April 24, 2016 at 10:25 am

    The most senior level supervisors left more lucrative jobs in the private sector to head the Division of Enforcement, taking plum jobs but at significant personal sacrifice. (They then returned to even more lucrative employment or even more high-profile public positions.) All of them were gentlemen. These factors make it all the more surprising that I never got a clear answer as to why the investigation was so constipated, as it obviously was.

    Yes poor babies for that "significant personal sacrifice" that resulted in "even more lucrative" private employment. The author explains the problem then scratches his head over what it might be.

    In a rational world there would be a strict separation between the regulated and the regulators. The government would hire professional experts at decent salaries and they never ever would be allowed to then move on to jobs with the regulated. Clearly the assumption underlying our current–irrational–system is that these high status technocrats are "gentlemen" with a code of honor. Welcome to the 19th century. Those long ago plutocrats in their stately English mansions were all gentlemen and therefore entitled to their privileges by their superior breeding. They were the better sort.

    Meanwhile for lesser mortals it seems totally unsurprising when laws are ignored because you hire your police from the ranks of the criminal gangs. No head scratching needed.

    Alex morfesis , April 24, 2016 at 12:31 pm

    Reid Muoio (boss of kidney @ $EC) has a brother at a major tall bldg law firm whose job is to help fortune 500 companies deal with D & O insurance issues…so when in the article Muoio says "He" did not go thru the revolving door…it was fraud by omission…his brother sits on the opposite side of these private settlement agreements…

    so is Kidney unaware…leaving us to maybe accept he was never much of an investigator…or just forgot to point it out for us…

    The world is full of govt types who tell us TINA…

    The wealthy Elliott Spitzer told us he would have loved to help "the little people" but the OCC and then scotus with waters v wachovia…except scotus ruled only direct subsidiaries get protection and the OCC specifically said the trustee operations of OCC regulated entities are also not covered/protected…

    A really big shoe
    as Ed used to remind us….

    susan the other , April 24, 2016 at 1:25 pm

    Does anyone else think this was insider demolition – not just the failure to prosecute, but the whole financial implosion in the first place? Who writes up nothing but "shitty deals" – all the while saying to each other: IBGYBG and survives to slink away? They must have had a heads up that the financial system as we had known it in the 20th c. was done. They had a heads up and then they got free passes. My only question is, Wasn't there a better way to bring down the system, an honest way that protected us all? By the end of the cold war money itself had become an inconvenience because of diminishing returns. And now the stuff is just plain dangerous because everyone who got screwed (99%) wants their fair share still. It is paralyzing our thinking. Obama maintains he personally "prevented another depression". I honestly think he might be insane. What we need is a recognition that the old system was completely irrational and it isn't coming back. And most of us are SOL. Somebody is going to figure out how to maintain both the value and usefulness of money very soon, because we've got work to do.

    cnchal , April 24, 2016 at 2:03 pm

    The GFC was the first great financial crime of this millenium, and Goldman Sachs was at the epicenter. A heist of gargantuan proportions, they didn't even need a safecracker after Bernanke spun the dials and opened the door wide.

    Imagine if the FBI and the Mafia exchanged their top leaders every few months. That's what we have here with the SEC and Wall Street.

    Bernie Sanders: The business of Wall Street is fraud and greed.
    We can add to that. The business of the SEC is to provide cover.

    polecat , April 24, 2016 at 2:10 pm

    It's all about 'their protection'….not ours!

    and Obama………..

    He's a f#cking psychopathic peacock!

    KYrocky , April 24, 2016 at 2:17 pm

    In Yves intro she shares her views, first, that Kidney still wants to think well of his former SEC colleagues and his criticisms seem muted relative to the severity of the problems, and second, that there are class assumptions at work.

    The first is obvious, as the SEC is an utter failure in its responsibility to investigate and prosecute financial criminals. While Mr. Kidney devotes a fair amount of his passages pondering how it can be that no individuals within these financial institutions bear personal responsibility, Mr. Kidney fails to see the SEC through that same lens. To say Kidney's criticism of his coworkers is muted is an understatement. The individuals at the SEC are corrupt. The individuals at the Justice Department are corrupt. Probably all nice people: husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, friends, etc. Just like those folks at the financial institutions. Mr. Kidney cuts them slack because of his personal relationships with them. Mr. Kidney chooses to give them the benefit of doubt when the totality of their professional performance at the SEC make clear this cannot be true.

    With respect to class assumptions at work, Yves illustrates with the deference shown by SEC officials and investigators toward these financial criminals and their presumption that these individuals are honest. Mr. Kidney does share some of his disappointment in President Obama and Obama's administration but fails to properly connect the dots. In short, the lack of financial crime prosecutions is the result of a deliberate, planned and orchestrated effort.

    Mr. Kindney's investigations were prevented in going forward by his superiors. He was never given an explanation for this despite his asking. But Kidney believes his superiors are all good people.

    No, they are not. They are compromised people who have placed their career employment above their sworn duty. The fact that their bosses have done the same, as have those in the Justice Department as well as President Obama, should not diminish this fact. The phrase "class assumptions" is too euphemistic when describing a system where there is no justice for the victims of financial crimes, a system where the Justice Department and Administration coordinate to shield financial criminals based on where they work.

    This is America. In today's America the fact is certain individuals are above the law because our elected officials at all levels accept that this is okay. Victims of these individuals will be prevented access to their legal recourse, and that these criminals are protected from the highest level of our government down. This goes way, way beyond class assumptions.

    readerOfTeaLeaves , April 24, 2016 at 3:31 pm

    Yves has written extensively about how corporate interests have funded academic sinecures, as well as continuing legal education seminars attended by attorneys and judges. This is part of the fallout; if you want more, check out her section of ECONned where she explains how legal thinking was perverted by business interests.

    flora , April 24, 2016 at 2:37 pm

    Thanks for this post. Glad to see the SEC story is still alive. I'm sure the SEC and Obama would prefer it quietly go away.

    dk , April 24, 2016 at 2:55 pm

    As someone who has fallen on their sword more than once (and again recently), I just want to say that "placed their career employment above their sworn duty" is accurate but also oversimplifies the situation.

    People with families tell themselves that they balance performance of most (some?) of those duties, while shirking the balance in order to protect their families (a "good" (as in, expensive) college for the kids)… this actually comes down to sustaining their social status, in a culture (political as well as corporate) where loyalty is valued equal to and above performance, and honorable action is diminished, trivialized, even ridiculed; and not just within the context of the financial industry.

    This is not at all a defense of the choice, but the choice is made in a very class-stratified social context, and arises in that general context. People take out loans to buy cars and houses, they squirrel earnings away into investments (to avoid taxes) which they are reluctant to draw from… they feel less ready to abandon their addictive income streams for honor, and fudge their responsibilities. It's not isolated to regulators, or government, or even finance. It occurs so constantly and on so many fronts that addressing specific cases doesn't make a dent in the compromise of the entire culture. And that compromise is fueled and maintained by a very twisted set of ideas about money, and career, and social status (not to mention compromises in journalism, education, science, you name it).

    Synoia , April 24, 2016 at 3:37 pm

    I read Mr kidney as being very sarcastic. I could not write this with a serious sarcastic (Lawsuit Avoiding) view:

    The most senior level supervisors left more lucrative jobs in the private sector to head the Division of Enforcement, taking plum jobs but at significant personal sacrifice. (They then returned to even more lucrative employment or even more high-profile public positions.)

    taking plum jobs but at significant personal sacrifice

    Oh really? Must have hurt. And from a legal point of view does not appear libelous.

    polecat , April 24, 2016 at 6:12 pm

    Yeah…stubbed toes only…….

    [Apr 30, 2016] Michael Hudson The Wall Street Economy is Draining the Real Economy naked capitalism

    Notable quotes:
    "... An interview by Gordon T. Long of the Financial Repression Authority. Originally published at his website ..."
    "... Treasury Bulletin ..."
    "... Federal Reserve Bulletin ..."
    "... Business Cycles ..."
    "... Canada In the New Monetary Order ..."
    "... "secular stagnation" means it's all a cycle ..."
    "... One of the most important distinctions that investors have to understand is the difference between secular and cyclical trends…Let us begin with definitions from the Encarta® World English Dictionary: ..."
    "... Secular – occurring only once in the course of an age or century; taking place over an extremely or indefinitely long period of time ..."
    "... Cycle – a sequence of events that is repeated again and again, especially a causal sequence; a period of time between repetitions of an event or phenomenon that occurs regularly ..."
    "... Secular stagnation is when the predators of finance have eaten too many sheeple. ..."
    "... Real estate rents in this latest asset bubble, whether commercial or residential, appear to have been going up in many markets even if the increases are slowing. That rent inflation will likely turn into rent deflation, but that doesn't appear to have happened yet consistently. ..."
    "... Barter has always existed and always will. Debt money expands and contracts the middle class, acting as a feedback signal, which never works over the long term, because the so encapsulated system can only implode, when natural resource liquidation cannot be accelerated. The whole point is to eliminate the initial requirement for capital, work. Debt fails because both sides of the same coin assume that labor can be replaced. The machines driven by dc technology are not replacing labor; neither the elites nor the middle class can fix the machines, which is why they keep accelerating debt, to replace one failed technology only to be followed by the next, netting extortion by whoever currently controls the debt machine, which the majority is always fighting over, expending more energy to avoid work, like the objective is to avoid sweating, unless you are dumb enough to run on asphalt with Nike gear. ..."
    www.nakedcapitalism.com
    April 29, 2016 by Yves Smith An interview by Gordon T. Long of the Financial Repression Authority. Originally published at his website

    GORDON LONG: Thank you for joining us. I'm Gordon Long with the Financial Repression Authority. It's my pleasure to have with me today Dr. Michael Hudson Professor Hudson's very well known in terms of the FIRE economy to-I think, to a lot of our listeners, or at least he's recognized by many as fostering that concept. A well known author, he has published many, many books. Welcome, Professor Hudson.

    MICHAEL HUDSON: Yes.

    LONG: Let's just jump into the subject. I mentioned the FIRE economy cause I know that I have always heard it coming from yourself-or, indirectly, not directly, from yourself. Could you explain to our listeners what's meant by that terminology?

    HUDSON: Well it's more than just people getting fired. FIRE is an acronym for Finance, Insurance and Real Estate. Basically that sector is about assets, not production and consumption. And most people think of the economy as being producers making goods and services and paying labor to produce them – and then, labour is going to buy these goods and services. But this production and consumption economy is surrounded by the asset economy: the web of Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate of who owns assets, and who owes the debts, and to whom.

    LONG: How would you differentiate it (or would you) with what's often referred to as financialization, or the financialization of our economy? Are they one and the same?

    HUDSON: Pretty much. The Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate sector is dominated by finance. 70 to 80% of bank loans in North America and Europe are mortgage loans against real estate. So instead of a landowner class owning property clean and clear, as they did in the 19 th century, now you have a democratization of real estate. 2/3 or more of the population owns their own home. But the only way to buy a home, or commercial real estate, is on credit. So the loan-to-value ratio goes up steadily. Banks lend more and more money to the real estate sector. A home or piece of real estate, or a stock or bond, is worth whatever banks are willing to lend against it

    As banks loosen their credit terms, as they lower their interest rates, take lower down payments, and lower amortization rates – by making interest-only loans – they are going to lend more and more against property. So real estate is bid up on credit. All this rise in price is debt leverage. So a financialized economy is a debt-leveraged economy, whether it's real estate or insurance, or buying an education, or just living. And debt leveraging means that a larger proportion of assets are represented by debt. So debt equity ratios rise. But financialization also means that more and more of people's income and corporate and government tax revenue is paid to creditors. There's a flow of revenue from the production-and-consumption economy to the financial sector.

    LONG: I don't know if you know Richard Duncan. He was with the IMF, etc, and lives in Thailand. He argues right now that capitalism is no longer functioning, and really what he refers to what we have now is "creditism." Because in capitalism we have savings that are reinvested into productive assets that create productivity, which leads to a higher level of living. We're not doing that. We have no savings and investments. Credit is high in the financial sector, but it's not being applied to productive assets. Is he valid in that thinking?

    HUDSON: Not as in your statement. It's confused.

    LONG: Okay.

    HUDSON: There's an enormous amount of savings. Gross savings. The savings we have that are mounting up are just about as large as they've ever been – about, 18-19% of the US economy. They're counterpart is debt. Most savings are lent out to borrowers se debt. Basically, you have savers at the top of the pyramid, the 1% lending out their savings to the 99%. The overall net savings may be zero, and that's what your stupid person from the IMF meant. But gross savings are much higher. Now, the person, Mr. Duncan, obviously-I don't know what to say when I hear this nonsense. Every economy is a credit economy.

    Let's start in Ancient Mesopotamia. The group that I organized out of Harvard has done a 20-study of the origins of economic structuring in the Bronze Age, even the Neolithic, and the Bronze Age economy – 3200 BC going back to about 1200 BC. Suppose you're a Babylonian in the time of Hammurabi, about 1750 BC, and you're a cultivator. How do you buy things during the year? Well, if you go to the bar, to an ale woman, what she'd do is write down the debt that you owe. It was to be paid on the threshing floor. The debts were basically paid basically once a year when the income was there, on the threshing floor when the harvest was in. If the palace or the temples would advance animals or inputs or other public services, this would be as a debt. It was all paid in grain, which was monetized for paying debts to the palace, temples and other creditors.

    The IMF has this Austrian theory that pretends that money began as barter and that capitalism basically operates on barter. This always is a disinformation campaign. Nobody believed this in times past, and it is a very modern theory that basically is used to say, "Oh, debt is bad." What they really mean is that public debt is bad. The government shouldn't create money, the government shouldn't run budget deficits but should leave the economy to rely on the banks. So the banks should run and indebt the economy.

    You're dealing with a public relations mythology that's used as a means of deception for most people. You can usually ignore just about everything the IMF says. If you understand money you're not going to be hired by the IMF. The precondition for being hired by the IMF is not to understand finance. If you do understand finance, you're fired and blacklisted. That's why they impose austerity programs that they call "stabilization programs" that actually are destabilization programs almost wherever they're imposed.

    LONG: Is this a lack of understanding and adherence to the wrong philosophy, or how did we get into this trap?

    HUDSON: We have an actively erroneous view, not just a lack of understanding. This is not by accident. When you have an error repeated year after year after year, decade after decade after decade, it's not really insanity doing the same thing thinking it'll be different. It's sanity. It's doing the same thing thinking the result will be the same again and again and again. The result will indeed be austerity programs, making budget deficits even worse, driving governments further into debt, further into reliance on the IMF. So then the IMF turns them to the knuckle breakers of the World Bank and says, "Oh, now you have to pay your debts by privatization". It's the success. The successful error of monetarism is to force countries to have such self-defeating policies that they end up having to privatize their natural resources, their public domain, their public enterprises, their communications and transportation, like you're seeing in Greece's selloffs. So when you find an error that is repeated, it's deliberate. It's not insane. It's part of the program, not a bug.

    LONG: Where does this lead us? What's the roadmap ahead of us here?

    HUDSON: A thousand years ago, if you were a marauding gang and you wanted to take over a country's land and its natural resources and public sector, you'd have to invade it with military troops. Now you use finance to take over countries. So it leads us into a realm where everything that the classical economists saw and argued for – public investment, bringing costs in line with the actual cost of production – that's all rejected in favor of a rentier class evolving into an oligarchy. Basically, financiers – the 1% – are going to pry away the public domain from the government. Pry away and privatize the public enterprises, land, natural resources, so that bondholders and privatizers get all of the revenue for themselves. It's all sucked up to the top of the pyramid, impoverishing the 99%.

    LONG: Well I think most people, without understanding economics, would instinctively tell you they think that's what's happening right now, in some way.

    HUDSON: Right. As long as you can avoid studying economics you know what's happened. Once you take an economics course you step into brainwashing. It's an Orwellian world.

    LONG: I think you said it perfectly well there. Exactly. It gets you locked into the wrong way of thinking as opposed to just basic common sense. Your book is Killing the Host . What was the essence of its message? Was it describing exactly what we're talking about here?

    HUDSON: Finance has taken over the industrial economy, so that instead of finance becoming what it was expected to be in the 19 th century, instead of the banks evolving from usurious organizations that leant to governments, mainly to wage war, finance was going to be industrialized. They were going to mobilize savings and recycle it to finance the means of production, starting with heavy industry. This was actually happening in Germany in the late 19 th century. You had the big banks working with government and industry in a triangular process. But that's not what's happening now. After WW1 and especially after WW2, finance reverted to its pre-industrial form. Instead of allying themselves with industry, as banks were expected to do, banks allied themselves with real estate and monopolies, realizing that they can make more money off real estate.

    The bank spokesman David Ricardo argued against the landed interest in 1817, against land rent. Now the banks are all in favor of supporting land rent, knowing that today, when people buy and sell property, they need credit and pay interest for it. The banks are going to get all the rent. So you have the banks merge with real estate against industry, against the economy as a whole. The result is that they're part of the overhead process, not part of the production process.

    LONG: There's a sense that there's a crisis lying ahead in the next year, two years, or three years. The mainstream economy's so disconnected from Wall Street economy. What's your view on that?

    HUDSON: It's not disconnected at all. The Wall Street economy has taken over the economy and is draining it. Under what economics students are taught as Say's Law, the economy's workers are supposed to use their income to buy what they produce. That's why Henry Ford paid them $5 a day, so that they could afford to buy the automobiles they were producing.

    LONG: Exactly.

    HUDSON: But Wall Street is interjecting itself into the economy, so that instead of the circular flow between producers and consumers, you have more and more of the flow diverted to pay interest, insurance and rent. In other words, to pay the FIRE sector. It all ends up with the financial sector, most of which is owned by the 1%. So, their way of formulating it is to distract attention from today's debt quandary by saying it's just a cycle, or it's "secular stagnation." That removes the element of agency – active politicking by the financial interests and Wall Street lobbyists to obtain all the growth of income and wealth for themselves. That's what happened in America and Canada since the late 1970s.

    LONG: What does an investor do today, or somebody who's looking for retirement, trying to save for the future, and they see some of these things occurring. What should they be thinking about? Or how should they be protecting themselves?

    HUDSON: What all the billionaires and the heavy investors do is simply try to preserve their wealth. They're not trying to make money, they're not trying to speculate. If you're an investor, you're not going to outsmart Wall Street billionaires, because the markets are basically fixed. It's the George Soros principle. If you have so much money, billions of dollars, you can break the Bank of England. You don't follow the market, you don't anticipate it, you actually make the market and push it up, like the Plunge Protection Team is doing with the stock market these days. You have to be able to control the prices. Insiders make money, but small investors are not going to make money.

    Since you're in Canada, I remember the beginning of the 1960s. I used to look at the Treasury Bulletin and Federal Reserve Bulletin figures on foreign investment in the US stock market. We all used to laugh at Canada especially. The Canadians don't buy stocks until they're up to the very top, and then they lose all the money by holding these stocks on the downturn. Finally, when the market's all the way at the bottom, Canadians decide to begin selling because they finally can see a trend. So they miss the upswing until they decide to buy at the top once again. It's hilarious to look at how Canada has performed in the US bond market, and they did the same in the silver market. I remember when silver was going up to $50. The Canadians said, "Yes, we can see the trend now!" and they began to buy it. They lost their shirts. So, basically, if you're a Canadian investor, move.

    LONG: So the Canadian investors are a better contrarian indicator than the front page cover, you're saying.

    HUDSON: I'd think so. Once they get in, you know the bubble's over.

    LONG: Absolutely on that one. What are you currently writing? What is your current focus now?

    HUDSON: Well, I just finished a book. You mentioned Killing the Host . My next book will be out in about three months: J is for Junk Economics . It began as a dictionary of terms, so I can provide people with a vocabulary. As we got in the argument at the beginning of your program today, our argument is about the vocabulary we're using and the words you're using. The vocabulary taught to students today in economics – and used by the mass media and by government spokesmen – is basically a set of euphemisms. If you look at the television reports on the market, they say that any loss in the stock market isn't a loss, it's "profit taking". And when they talk about money. the stock market rises – "Oh that's good news." But it's awful news for the short sellers it wipes out. Almost all the words we get are kind of euphemisms to conceal the actual dynamics that are happening. For instance, "secular stagnation" means it's all a cycle. Even the idea of "business cycles": Nobody in the 19 th century used the word "business cycle". They spoke about "crashes". They knew that things go up slowly and then they plunge very quickly. It was a crash. It's not the sine curve that you have in Josef Schumpeter's book on Business Cycles . It's a ratchet effect: slow up, quick down. A cycle is something that is automatic, and if it's a cycle and you have leading and lagging indicators as the National Bureau of Economic Research has. Then you'd think "Oh, okay, everything that goes up will come down, and everything that goes down will come up, just wait your turn." And that means governments should be passive.

    Well, that is the opposite of everything that's said in classical economics and the Progressive Era, when they realized that economies don't recover by themselves. You need a-the government to step in, you need something "exogenous," as economist say. You need something from outside the system to revive it. The covert idea of this business cycle analysis is to leave out the role of government. If you look at neoliberal and Austrian theory, there's no role for government spending, and no role of public investment. The whole argument for privatization, for instance, is the opposite of what was taught in American business schools in the 19 th century. The first professor of economics at the Wharton School of Business, which was the first business school, was Simon Patten. He said that public infrastructure is a fourth factor of production. But its role isn't to make a profit. It's to lower the cost of public services and basic inputs to lower the cost of living and lower the cost of doing business to make the economy more competitive. But privatization adds interest payments, dividends, managerial payments, stock buybacks, and merges and acquisitions. Obviously these financialized charges are factored into the price system and raise the cost of living and doing business.

    LONG: Well, Michael, we're-I thank you for the time, and we're up against our hard line. I know we didn't have as much time as we always like, so we have to break. Any overall comments you'd like to leave with our listeners who might be interested this school of economics?

    HUDSON: Regarding the downturn we're in, we're going into a debt deflation. The key of understanding the economy is to look at debt. The economy has to spend more and more money on debt service. The reason the economy is not recovering isn't simply because this is a normal cycle. And It's not because labour is paid too much. It's because people are diverting more and more of their income to paying their debts, so they can't afford to buy goods. Markets are shrinking – and if markets are shrinking, then real estate rents are shrinking, profits are shrinking. Instead of using their earnings to reinvest and hire more labour to increase production, companies are using their earnings for stock buybacks and dividend payouts to raise the share price so that the managers can take their revenue in the form of bonuses and stocks and live in the short run. They're leaving their companies as bankrupt shells, which is pretty much what hedge funds do when they take over companies.

    So the financialization of companies is the reverse of everything Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill, and everyone you think of as a classical economist was saying. Banks wrap themselves in a cloak of classical economics by dropping history of economic thought from the curriculum, which is pretty much what's happened. And Canada-I know since you're from Canada, my experience there was that the banks have a huge lobbying power over government. In 1979, I wrote for the IRPP Institute there on Canada In the New Monetary Order . At that time the provinces of Canada were borrowing money from Switzerland and Germany because they could borrow it at much lower interest rates. I said that this was going to be a disaster, and one that was completely unnecessary. If Canadian provinces borrow in Francs or any other foreign currency, this money goes into the central bank, which then creates Canadian dollars to spend. Why not have the central bank simply create these dollars without having Swiss francs, without having German marks? It's unnecessary to have an intermediary. But the more thuggish banks, like the Bank of Nova Scotia, said, "Oh, that way's the road to serfdom." It's not. Following the banks and the Austrian School of the banks' philosophy, that's the road to serfdom. That's the road to debt serfdom. It should not be taken now. It lets universities and the government be run by neoliberals. They're a travesty of what real economics is all about.

    LONG: Michael, thank you very much. I learned a lot, appreciate it; certainly appreciate how important it is for us to use the right words on the right subject when we're talking about economics. Absolutely agree with you. Talk to you again?

    HUDSON: Going to be here.

    LONG: Thank you for the time.

    Donald , April 29, 2016 at 7:33 am

    Interesting, but after insulting Duncan, Hudson says the banks stopped partnering with industry and went into real estate, which sounded like what Duncan said.

    I mention this because for a non- expert like myself it is sometimes difficult to tell when an expert is disagreeing with someone for good reasons or just going off half- cocked. I followed what Hudson said about the evils of the IMF, but didn't see where Duncan had defended any of that, unless it was implicit in saying that capitalism used to function better.

    Alejandro , April 29, 2016 at 9:06 am

    Michael Hudson from the interview;

    "As we got in the argument at the beginning of your program today, our argument is about the vocabulary we're using and the words you're using. The vocabulary taught to students today in economics – and used by the mass media and by government spokesmen – is basically a set of euphemisms…."Almost all the words we get are kind of euphemisms to conceal the actual dynamics that are happening."

    May consider it's about recognizing and deciphering the "doublespeak", "newspeak", "fedspeak", "greenspeak" etc, whether willing or unwitting…using words for understanding and clarifying as opposed to misleading and confusing…dialectic as opposed to sophistry.

    Michael Hudson , April 29, 2016 at 9:54 am

    What I objected to was the characterization of today's situation as "financialization." I explained that financialization is the FIRST stage - when finance WORKS. We are now in the BREAKDOWN of financialization - toward the "barter" stage.
    Treating "finance" as an end stage rather than as a beginning stage overlooks the dynamics of breakdown. It is debt deflation. First profits fall, and as that occurs, rents on commercial property decline. This is already widespread here in New York, from Manhattan (8th St. near NYU is half empty) to Queens (Austin St. in Forest Hills.).

    Leonard C.Tekaat , April 29, 2016 at 12:19 pm

    I wrote an article you might be interested in reading. It outlines a tax policy which would help prevent what you are discussing in your article. The abuse of credit to receive rents and long term capital gains.

    The title is "Congress Financialized Our Economy And Created Financial Crisis & More Poverty" Go to http://www.taxpolicyusa.wordpress.com

    SomeCallMeTim , April 29, 2016 at 5:23 pm

    Thank you for another eye-opening exposition. My political economy education was negative (counting a year of Monetarism and Austrian Economics around 1980), so I appreciate your interviews as correctives.

    From your interview answer to the question about what we, the 99+% should do,I gathered only that we should not try to beat the market. Anything more than that?

    Skippy , April 29, 2016 at 8:33 pm

    From my understanding, post Plaza banking lost most of its traditional market to the shadow sector, as a result, expanded off into C/RE and increasingly to Financialization of everything sundry.

    Disheveled Marsupial… interesting to note Mr. Hudson's statement about barter, risk factors – ?????

    Eduardo Quince , April 29, 2016 at 7:41 am

    "secular stagnation" means it's all a cycle

    Actually not.

    One of the most important distinctions that investors have to understand is the difference between secular and cyclical trends…Let us begin with definitions from the Encarta® World English Dictionary:

    Secular – occurring only once in the course of an age or century; taking place over an extremely or indefinitely long period of time

    Cycle – a sequence of events that is repeated again and again, especially a causal sequence; a period of time between repetitions of an event or phenomenon that occurs regularly

    Excerpted from: http://contrarianinvestorsjournal.com/?p=405#

    cnchal , April 29, 2016 at 8:30 am

    Secular stagnation from http://lexicon.ft.com/Term?term=secular-stagnation

    Secular stagnation is a condition of negligible or no economic growth in a market-based economy . When per capita income stays at relatively high levels, the percentage of savings is likely to start exceeding the percentage of longer-term investments in, for example, infrastructure and education, that are necessary to sustain future economic growth. The absence of such investments (and consequently of the economic growth) leads to declining levels of per capita income (and consequently of per capita savings). With the reduced percentage savings rate converging with the reduced investment rate, economic growth comes to a standstill – ie, it stagnates. In a free economy, consumers anticipating secular stagnation, might transfer their savings to more attractive-looking foreign countries. This would lead to a devaluation of their domestic currency, which would potentially boost their exports, assuming that the country did have goods or services that could be exported.

    Persistent low growth, especially in Europe, has been attributed by some to secular stagnation initiated by stronger European economies, such as Germany, in the past few years.

    Words. What they mean depends on who's talking.

    Secular stagnation is when the predators of finance have eaten too many sheeple.

    MikeNY , April 29, 2016 at 9:57 am

    Secular stagnation is when the predators of finance have eaten too many sheeple.

    This.

    digi_owl , April 29, 2016 at 7:44 am

    Sad to see Hudson parroting the line about banks lending out savings…

    Alejandro , April 29, 2016 at 9:18 am

    That's not what he said. Re-read or re-listen, please.

    Enquiring Mind , April 29, 2016 at 9:02 am

    Hudson says

    Markets are shrinking – and if markets are shrinking, then real estate rents are shrinking, profits are shrinking.

    Real estate rents in this latest asset bubble, whether commercial or residential, appear to have been going up in many markets even if the increases are slowing. That rent inflation will likely turn into rent deflation, but that doesn't appear to have happened yet consistently.

    Perhaps he meant to say that markets are going to shrink as the debt deflation becomes more evident?

    tegnost , April 29, 2016 at 9:52 am

    I think what it means is it's getting harder to squeeze the blood out of the turnip

    Synoia , April 29, 2016 at 10:06 am

    What Turnip? Its become a stone, fossilized..

    rfdawn , April 29, 2016 at 10:52 am

    Yes, I think we are into turnip country now. Figure 1 in this prior article looks clear enough – even if you don't like the analysis that went with it. Wealth inequality still climbs but income inequality has plateaued since Clinton I. Whatever the reasons for that, the 1% should be concerned – where is the ROI?

    ke , April 29, 2016 at 10:22 am

    Barter has always existed and always will. Debt money expands and contracts the middle class, acting as a feedback signal, which never works over the long term, because the so encapsulated system can only implode, when natural resource liquidation cannot be accelerated. The whole point is to eliminate the initial requirement for capital, work. Debt fails because both sides of the same coin assume that labor can be replaced. The machines driven by dc technology are not replacing labor; neither the elites nor the middle class can fix the machines, which is why they keep accelerating debt, to replace one failed technology only to be followed by the next, netting extortion by whoever currently controls the debt machine, which the majority is always fighting over, expending more energy to avoid work, like the objective is to avoid sweating, unless you are dumb enough to run on asphalt with Nike gear.

    ke , April 29, 2016 at 12:49 pm

    Labor has no problem with multiwhatever presidents, geneticists, psychologists, or economists, trying to hunt down and replace labor, in or out of turn, but none are going to be any more successful than the others. Trump is being employed to bypass the middle class and cut a deal. There is no deal. Labor is always going to pay males to work and their wives to raise children. Obviously, the majority will vote for a competing economy, and it is welcome to do so, but if debt works so well, why is the majority voting to kidnap our kids with public healthcare and education policies.

    meeps , April 29, 2016 at 5:36 pm

    I'm not sure I heard an answer to the question of what people, who might be trying to save for the future or plan for retirement, can do? Is the point that there isn't anything? Because I'm definitely between rocks and hard places…

    Robert Coutinho , April 29, 2016 at 9:29 pm

    Yeah, he basically said there is no good savings plan. Big-money interests have rigged the rules and are now manipulating the market (this used to be the definition of what was NOT allowed). Thus, they use computer algorithms to squeeze small amounts out of the market millions of times. This means that the "investments" are nothing of the sort. You don't "invest" in something for milliseconds. He said that the 1% are mostly just trying to hold on to what they have. Very few trust the rigged markets.

    ke , April 29, 2016 at 7:22 pm

    If Big G can print to infinity, print, but then why book it as debt to future generations?

    The future is already becoming the present, because the millenials aren't paying.

    Russell , April 29, 2016 at 10:00 pm

    Low rent & cheap energy are key to the arts & innovations. My model has to work for airports, starts at the fuel farm as the CIA & MI6 Front Page Avjet did. Well before that was Air America. I wonder if now American Airlines itself is a Front.

    All of America is a Front far as I can about tell. Hadn't heard that Manhattan rents were coming down. Come in from out of town, how you going to know? Not supposed to I guess.

    I got that textbook and I liked that guy John Commons. He says capitalism is great, but it always leads to Socialism because of unbridled greed.

    The frenzy to find another stable cash currency showing in Bit Coin and the discussion of Future Tax Credits while the Euro is controlled by the rent takers demands change on both sides of the Atlantic.

    We got shot dead protesting the war, and civil rights backlash is the gift that keeps giving to the Southerners looking up every day in every courthouse town, County seat is all about spreading fear and desperation.

    How to change it all without violence is going to be really tricky.

    cnchal , April 30, 2016 at 4:36 am

    Many thanks for the shout out to Canada.

    . . . So, basically, if you're a Canadian investor, move.

    LONG: So the Canadian investors are a better contrarian indicator than the front page cover, you're saying.

    HUDSON: I'd think so. Once they get in, you know the bubble's over.

    When one reads the financial press in Canada, every dollar extracted by the lords of finance is a glorious taking by brilliant people at the top of the financial food chain from the stupid little people at the bottom, but when it counts, there was silence, in cooperation with Canada's one percent.

    The story starts about five years ago, with smart meters. Everyone knows what they are, a method by which electrical power use can be priced depending on the time of day, and day of the week.

    To make this tasty, Ontario's local utilities at first kept the price the same for all the time, and then after all the meters were installed, came the changes, phased in over time. Prices were increased substantially, but there was an out. If you changed your living arrangements to live like a nocturnal rodent and washed your clothes in the middle of the night, had supper later in the evening or waited for weekend power rates you could still get low power rates, from the three tier price structure.

    The local utilities bought the power from the government of Ontario power generation utility, renamed to Hydro One, and this is where Michael Hudson's talk becomes relevant.

    The successful error of monetarism is to force countries to have such self-defeating policies that they end up having to privatize their natural resources, their public domain, their public enterprises, their communications and transportation, like you're seeing in Greece's selloffs. So when you find an error that is repeated, it's deliberate. It's not insane. It's part of the program, not a bug .

    LONG: Where does this lead us? What's the roadmap ahead of us here?

    HUDSON: A thousand years ago, if you were a marauding gang and you wanted to take over a country's land and its natural resources and public sector, you'd have to invade it with military troops. Now you use finance to take over countries. So it leads us into a realm where everything that the classical economists saw and argued for – public investment, bringing costs in line with the actual cost of production – that's all rejected in favor of a rentier class evolving into an oligarchy. Basically, financiers – the 1% – are going to pry away the public domain from the government. Pry away and privatize the public enterprises, land, natural resources, so that bondholders and privatizers get all of the revenue for themselves. It's all sucked up to the top of the pyramid, impoverishing the 99% .

    Eighteen months ago, there was an election in Ontario, and the press was on radio silence during the whole time leading up to the election about the plans to "privatize" Hydro One. I cannot recall one instance of any mention that the new Premier, Kathleen Wynne was planning on selling Hydro One to "investors".

    Where did this come from? Did the little people rise up and say to the politicians "you should privatize Hydro One" for whatever reason? No. This push came from the 1% and Hydro One was sold so fast it made my head spin, and is now trading on the Toronto Stock exchange.

    At first I though the premier was an economic ignoramus, because Hydro One was generating income for the province and there was no other power supplier, so one couldn't even fire them if they raised their prices too high.

    One of the arguments put forward by the 1% to privatize Hydro One was a classic divide and conquer strategy. They argued that too many people at Hydro One were making too much money, and by privatizing, the employees wages would be beat down, and the resultant savings would be passed on to customers.

    Back to Michael Hudson

    . . . The whole argument for privatization, for instance, is the opposite of what was taught in American business schools in the 19th century. The first professor of economics at the Wharton School of Business, which was the first business school, was Simon Patten. He said that public infrastructure is a fourth factor of production. But its role isn't to make a profit . It's to lower the cost of public services and basic inputs to lower the cost of living and lower the cost of doing business to make the economy more competitive. But privatization adds interest payments, dividends, managerial payments, stock buybacks, and merges and acquisitions . Obviously these financialized charges are factored into the price system and raise the cost of living and doing business .

    Power prices have increased yet again in Ontario since privatization, and Canada's 1% are "making a killing" on it. There has been another change as well. Instead of a three tier price structure, there are now two, really expensive and super expensive. There is no longer a price break to living like a nocturnal rodent. The 1% took that for themselves.

    Procopius , April 30, 2016 at 8:10 am

    I am so tired of seeing that old lie about Old Henry and the $5 a day. I realize it was just a tossed off reference to something most people believe for the purpose of describing a discarded policy, but the fact is very, very few of Old Henry's employees ever got that pay. See, there were strings attached.

    Old Henry hired a lot of spies, too. He sent them around to the neighborhoods where his workers lived (it was convenient having them all in Detroit). If the neighbors saw your kid bringing a bucket of beer home from the corner tavern for the family, you didn't get the $5.

    If your lawn wasn't mowed to their satisfaction, you didn't get the $5. If you were thought not to bathe as often as they liked, you didn't get the $5. If you didn't go to a church on Sundays, you didn't get the $5. If you were an immigrant and not taking English classes at night school, you didn't get the $5. There were quite a lot of strings attached. The whole story was a public relations stunt, and Old Henry never intended to live up to it; he hated his workers.

    [Apr 29, 2016] A Conversation With Joseph Stiglitz

    Notable quotes:
    "... Alternative theories would have led to very different policies. For instance, the tax cut in 2001 and 2003 under President Bush. Economists that are very widely respected were cutting taxes at the top, increasing inequality in our society when what we needed was just the opposite. Most of the models used by economists ignored inequality. They pretended that macroeconomy was unaffected by inequality. I think that was totally wrong. The strange thing about the economics profession over the last 35 year is that there has been two strands: One very strongly focusing on the limitations of the market, and then another saying how wonderful markets were. Unfortunately too much attention was being paid to that second strand. ..."
    "... ditto...everyone from Tyler Cohen to Mark Perry of the AEI does daily posts about the markets working for everything...a daily "Market Failure in Everything" would provide a useful alternative to that point of view... ..."
    "... Nobel-prize winner Joseph Stiglitz said monetary policies have exacerbated inequality and need to be redirected to better target getting money flowing into economies and helping small and medium-size businesses. ..."
    "... policies such as quantitative easing were a "version of trickle-down economics" and the subsequent increase in asset prices only affected the wealthiest in society ..."
    "... "The key problem is the access of credit to small and medium-size enterprises, is getting that flow of money into the real economy," Stiglitz said. It's "nice to have a stock market bubble if you have a lot of stock. But if you are in the bottom 80 percent of America, you have a little stock and you can feel a little good about the stock going up. But let's face it, the overwhelming bulk of our stock market is owned by the 1 percent." ..."
    "... Oh my god. He lumps in Bernanke with Greenspan. What are the Fed worshippers going to do now? Their deity is under attack from Stiglitz. Of course it is nothing but fact that bernanke denied that bubbles in real estate were possible OR that a bubble could become s problem for the economy. Hats off to Stiglitz. ..."
    "... How much more evidence do we need that the current trickle down monetary policy has failed? "The weak growth for the quarter puts this recovery even further behind any prior recovery at the same stage. After eight and a quarter years, the economy is only 10.1 percent larger than its pre-recession level of output. A more typical recovery would have seen at least twice as much growth." ..."
    April 28, 2016 | economistsview.typepad.com
    From an interview of Joe Stiglitz :
    ...White: ... To what extent do you feel economist and economic theory is culpable for the crisis? What is the role of an economist going forward?
    Stiglitz: The prevalent ideology-when I say prevalent it's not all economists- held that markets were basically efficient, that they were stable. You had people like Greenspan and Bernanke saying things like "markets don't generate bubbles." They had precise models that were precisely wrong and gave them confidence in theories that led to the policies that were responsible for the crisis, and responsible for the growth in inequality. Alternative theories would have led to very different policies. For instance, the tax cut in 2001 and 2003 under President Bush. Economists that are very widely respected were cutting taxes at the top, increasing inequality in our society when what we needed was just the opposite. Most of the models used by economists ignored inequality. They pretended that macroeconomy was unaffected by inequality. I think that was totally wrong. The strange thing about the economics profession over the last 35 year is that there has been two strands: One very strongly focusing on the limitations of the market, and then another saying how wonderful markets were. Unfortunately too much attention was being paid to that second strand.
    What can we do about it? We've had this very strong strand that is focused on the limitations and market imperfections. A very large fraction of the younger people, this is what they want to work on. It's very hard to persuade a young person who has seen the Great Recession, who has seen all the problems with inequality, to tell them inequality is not important and that markets are always efficient. They'd think you're crazy. ...

    When I first started blogging, I used to do posts with the title "Market Failure in Everything." as a counter to "the prevalent ideology." Maybe I should revive something similar.

    teve Bannister : , Thursday, April 28, 2016 at 07:03 AM

    Agreed.
    rjs -> Steve Bannister... , Thursday, April 28, 2016 at 02:14 PM
    ditto...everyone from Tyler Cohen to Mark Perry of the AEI does daily posts about the markets working for everything...a daily "Market Failure in Everything" would provide a useful alternative to that point of view...
    Paul Mathis, Thursday, April 28, 2016 at 07:11 AM
    Nothing about Ricardian Equivalence or RBC fallacies.

    While inequality is certainly important for consumption demand, PCE has not been a significant problem in the recovery. OTOH, reduction of the federal budget deficit explains virtually all of the deficient demand we have experienced. Obama and the Dems bought into RE and are paying the price now.

    JohnH, Thursday, April 28, 2016 at 07:31 AM
    Another interview with Stiglitz:

    "Nobel-prize winner Joseph Stiglitz said monetary policies have exacerbated inequality and need to be redirected to better target getting money flowing into economies and helping small and medium-size businesses.

    In a Bloomberg Television interview Tuesday with Francine Lacqua and Michael McKee in New York, he said policies such as quantitative easing were a "version of trickle-down economics" and the subsequent increase in asset prices only affected the wealthiest in society.

    "The key problem is the access of credit to small and medium-size enterprises, is getting that flow of money into the real economy," Stiglitz said. It's "nice to have a stock market bubble if you have a lot of stock. But if you are in the bottom 80 percent of America, you have a little stock and you can feel a little good about the stock going up. But let's face it, the overwhelming bulk of our stock market is owned by the 1 percent."

    Stiglitz's comments come as some central banks around the world are being forced to delve deeper into their policy tools to help support their economies. As policy makers struggle to find a way out of the economic malaise, some have even raised the idea of helicopter money, which aims to direct cash straight to consumers.

    The Columbia University professor, who said the Federal Reserve can do more to "channel" money to small companies and the economy, was also critical of negative rates. This is partly because of their potential impact on lending.

    "The dangers of negative interest rates -- if you don't manage it extraordinarily well; some countries are doing it reasonably well, some are not -- is that it actually weakens the banking system," he said. "If it weakens the banking system, the banks are going to provide even less credit. While it might have some effect on financial markets, in terms of what we really should be concerned about, which is the flow of credit to businesses, that's not working."
    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-04-26/stiglitz-says-misdirected-monetary-policies-increased-inequality

    What's the point of low interest rates, if they only serve the interests of Wall Street banks and their wealthy clientele? Oh, right! That IS the point. And most economists are just fine with that.

    BenIsNotYoda, Thursday, April 28, 2016 at 07:59 AM
    Oh my god. He lumps in Bernanke with Greenspan. What are the Fed worshippers going to do now? Their deity is under attack from Stiglitz. Of course it is nothing but fact that bernanke denied that bubbles in real estate were possible OR that a bubble could become s problem for the economy. Hats off to Stiglitz.
    anne, Thursday, April 28, 2016 at 08:17 AM
    http://cepr.net/data-bytes/gdp-bytes/gdp-2016-04

    April 28, 2016

    Falling Investment and Rising Trade Deficit Lead to Weak First Quarter
    By Dean Baker

    Health care costs remain well-contained, barely growing as a share of GDP.

    GDP grew at just a 0.5 percent annual rate in the first quarter. This weak quarter, combined with the 1.4 percent growth rate in the 4th quarter, gave the weakest two quarter performance since the 3rd and 4th quarters of 2012 when the economy grew at just a 0.3 percent annual rate.

    Growth was held down by both a sharp drop in non-residential investment and a further rise in the trade deficit. Equipment investment fell at an 8.6 percent annual rate, while construction investment dropped at a 10.7 percent annual rate. The latter is not a surprise, given the overbuilding in many areas of the country. The drop in equipment investment was undoubtedly in part driven by the worsening trade situation, as many factories curtailed investment plans as U.S.-made products lost out to foreign competition, weakening demand growth. There was also a drop in information processing equipment, indicating that those who are expecting that robots will replace us all will have to wait a bit longer.

    The rise in the trade deficit was due to a 2.6 percent drop in exports, as imports were nearly flat for the quarter. Trade subtracted 0.34 percentage points from growth for the quarter.

    Consumption continued to grow at a modest 1.9 percent annual rate, adding 1.27 percentage points to growth. Consumption growth was held down in part by weaker demand for new cars, which subtracted 0.33 percentage points from growth for the quarter. This was the second consecutive decline in the sector. It is likely that car purchases will be up somewhat in future quarters.

    The savings rate for the quarter was 5.2 percent, which is up slightly from the 5.0 percent from the prior three quarters and the 4.8 percent rates from 2013 and 2014, before people started saving their oil dividends. But seriously, there may be some modest room for this rate to decline, but for the most part consumption growth will depend on income growth going forward.

    Health care services added 0.26 percentage points to growth, its smallest contribution since a reported decline in the first quarter of 2014. Spending in the sector remains well contained, growing at just a 3.8 percent annual rate over the last quarter and by 4.4 percent over the last year in nominal spending.

    Housing grew at a 14.8 percent annual rate, adding 0.49 percentage points to growth. Housing has being growing at a double digit rate since the fourth quarter of 2014. While the sector is likely to continue to grow in subsequent quarters, the pace is almost certain to slow.

    The government sector was a modest positive in the quarter, growing at a 1.2 percent rate. State and local spending increased at a 2.9 percent annual rate, more than offsetting a 1.6 percent drop in federal spending, all of it on the military side. Future quarters are likely to show comparable growth, although the composition may be somewhat different.

    A slower rate of inventory accumulation reduced growth by 0.33 percentage points, as final sales of domestic product grew at a 0.9 percent rate. This is the third consecutive quarter in which the pace of inventory accumulation slowed, although the current pace is not especially low. It is likely that inventories will grow somewhat more quickly in the rest of the year, being at least a small positive in the growth story.

    The weak growth for the quarter puts this recovery even further behind any prior recovery at the same stage. After eight and a quarter years, the economy is only 10.1 percent larger than its pre-recession level of output. A more typical recovery would have seen at least twice as much growth.

    [Graph]

    On the whole this is a weak report. The headline 0.5 percent figure probably overstates the weakness somewhat, but it is not a good sign when two consecutive quarters have an average growth rate of less than 1.0 percent. Inflation remains well under control, although there was a modest uptick in the rate of inflation shown by the core personal consumption expenditure deflator to 1.7 percent over the last year. Nonetheless, with an economy barely growing and an inflation rate that remains below target, it is difficult to envision the Federal Reserve raising interest rates further any time soon.

    JohnH, Thursday, April 28, 2016 at 08:48 AM
    How much more evidence do we need that the current trickle down monetary policy has failed? "The weak growth for the quarter puts this recovery even further behind any prior recovery at the same stage. After eight and a quarter years, the economy is only 10.1 percent larger than its pre-recession level of output. A more typical recovery would have seen at least twice as much growth."
    rayward, Thursday, April 28, 2016 at 09:11 AM
    Market failures aren't really market failures but market responses to market conditions. They are failures only in the sense that something deemed bad (e.g., falling home prices) is the market response. An extreme example is what's being called secular stagnation, which is just the market response to the shift of an enormous volume of production and income from the U.S. and Europe to China and other like places with much higher levels of inequality and savings. It's a market failure only in the sense that something bad (wage stagnation, slow economic growth) happened in the U.S. and Europe. Those responsible for the shift in production and income to China et al. (i.e., U.S. and European business executives) were either ignorant of the likely market response or didn't care as long as it increased profits (via lower costs). But that's not a market failure, it's an executive failure.
    Peter, -1
    "I think almost surely both Hillary and Bernie Sanders are very very committed to a pro-equality agenda, and the differences are more in details, more in one's confidence in their ability to execute this in a political context."

    Disappointing. I guess we'll find out if he's right. Also his suggestion that the economy would have done just as well with no QEs is very disappointing.

    "Stiglitz: I think they were right. They originally said, "When we hit 6 percent that's full employment." Now they know that 4.9 isn't full employment, there's weak labor market. They should have focused more on improving the channel of credit to make sure that money was going to small and medium-sized enterprises They should have said to the bank-like some other countries have done-if you want access to the Fed window you have to be lending to SMEs. "

    Which was Bernie's suggestion. Hillary has said nothing.

    [Apr 17, 2016] Towards a Theory of Shadow Money

    Notable quotes:
    "... Minsky famously quipped that everyone can create new money; the problem is to get it accepted as such by others. ..."
    "... But even money-proper is not the same for everyone. Central banks create the money in which banks pay each other, while private banks create money for households and firms. Money is hierarchical , and moneyness is a question of immediate convertibility without loss of value (at par exchange, on demand). ..."
    "... To convert shadow money into settlement money in case of default, repo lenders sell collateral. An intricate collateral valuation regime, consisting of haircuts, mark-to-market, and margin calls, maintains collateral's exchange rate into (central) bank money. ..."
    "... What makes repos money – at par exchange between "cash" and collateral – is what makes finance more fragile in a Minskyan sense. ..."
    "... Liquid markets become more fragile, he argued, by giving investors the "illusion" that they can exit before prices turn against them. This is a crucial insight for crises of shadow money. ..."
    "... Criminality and corruption is embedded at the top of the financial food chain, by law. ..."
    "... Motion seconded: Government sanctioned counterfeiting. ..."
    "... …and does anyone remember the triumph of the desk slaves of the Crimson Permanent Assurance? Monty Python understood something about political economies and how one might achieve more fairness in outcomes… https://vimeo.com/111458975 ..."
    "... Shadow money sounds to me like fictional capital by another name. And contractual based deposits sounds like counterfeiting. With the distinction that the man with counterfeit printing press robs the train, while the man who runs the Wall St Investment bank repo trading desk robs the whole railroad. ..."
    "... Therefore, Money becomes a victim of the ontological argument for God by St Anselm. If God does not exist, an all powerful, all knowing, all present infinitely great in all categories of Supreme Being could not be written or spoken about, lacking the quality of existence. The fact that we CAN speak about an Omnipotent Supreme Deity means that one in fact exists, due to existence is part and parcel of Omnipotence. But of course, because we can talk or write about something, does not make it real. ..."
    "... It can become socially acceptable as in the case of shadow money, but it is fictional capital, a shadow of the real thing. Time to get out of the cave of finance with its shadows dancing from the light of the fires and walk eyes wide open in the bright light of sunshine! ..."
    "... Money is actually the easiest thing to write about, because it's formless energy. It's not that the phenomenon is shadow money, it's shadow assets. ..."
    "... You have to be able to separate in your mind the ideas of 1) Quantity and 2) Form. That's why economics is a mental disorder, because it doesn't separate quantity and form. If you can't or don't, then yes, it's diabolically hard to write about because you're writing about two different things simultaneously without realizing it. Money is a quantity that is infinite and continuous, but form is an idea that is discontinuous and finite. People do what the forms tell them to do. The money is just like electricity that powers the animation of the forms. Repo is a form it's not money. It's existence results in a certain ordering of social relations, that's also a form. But money is just the energy that makes the forms potent. ..."
    "... I guess that's why they used to call it "political economy" before the mental disorder fully usurped the power of perception and reasoning. ..."
    "... Marx failed to acknowledge that supposedly hard-headed Capitalism is actually all about living beyond your means and mortgaging the future. ..."
    "... It was designed from the Fuggars' and the Medici's to be about debt and fractional reserves and interest. A system based on a finite supply of money is going to grow not much faster, at best, than the money available allows. ..."
    "... Capitalism allows explosive growth by supplying explosive amounts of credit. All this shadow banking activity is designed to get around reserve requirements; nothing else I can see calls all this complexity into existence. The banks always need more, because lending is how they make their money, so they want an infinite amount to lend in order to drive their profits towards the infinite. ..."
    "... This article I think defines shadow money alright as starting where bank deposits leave off but as the above comments suggest seems to miss some key points. I think a major problem with the article is seeing central banks as separate from the state rather than seeing the central bank along with the Treasury as the state itself. ..."
    "... The article gets Treasury debt wrong by seeing it as the central bank funding the state rather than as actually coming from the state. This leads to wrong policy choices such as this state money being used to bail out useless financial transactions and asset appreciation rather than the public purpose. I think crazyman has it right. We left behind the power of perception and reasoning by not realizing the importance of political economy . ..."
    "... This is reminscent of Gramsci's idea that the state and civil society are to be distinguished only for purposes of exposition. ..."
    April 16, 2016 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

    By Daniela Gabor, associate professor in economics at the University of the West of England, Bristol, and Jakob Vestergaard, senior researcher at the Danish Institute for International Studies. Originally published at the Institute for New Economic Thinking website

    Struggles over shadow money today echo 19th century struggles over bank deposits.

    Money, James Buchan once noted , "is diabolically hard to write about." It has been described as a promise to pay, a social relation, frozen desire , memory, and fiction. Less daunted, Hyman Minsky was interested by promises of unknown and changing properties . "Shadow" promises would have fascinated him. Indeed, Perry Mehrling, Zoltan Pozsar , and others argue that in shadow banking, money begins where bank deposits end. Their insights are the starting point for the first paper of our Institute for New Economic Thinking project on shadow money. The footprint of shadow money, we argue,* extends well beyond opaque shadow banking, reaching into government bond markets and regulated banks. It radically changes central banking and the state's relationship to money-issuing institutions.

    Minsky famously quipped that everyone can create new money; the problem is to get it accepted as such by others. General acceptability relies on the strength of promises to exchange for proper money, money that settles debts. Banks' special role in money creation, Victoria Chick reminds us, was sealed by states' commitment that bank deposits would convert into state money (cash) at par. This social contract of convertibility materialized in bank regulation, lender of last resort, and deposit guarantees.

    But even money-proper is not the same for everyone. Central banks create the money in which banks pay each other, while private banks create money for households and firms. Money is hierarchical , and moneyness is a question of immediate convertibility without loss of value (at par exchange, on demand).

    Using a money hierarchy lens, we define shadow money as repurchase agreements (repos), promises to pay backed by tradable collateral. It is the presence of collateral that confers shadow money its distinctiveness. Our approach advances the debate in several ways.

    First, it allows us to establish a clear picture of modern money hierarchies. Repos are nearest to money-proper, stronger in their moneyness claims than other short-term shadow liabilities . Repos rose in money hierarchies as finance sidestepped the state, developing its own convertibility rules over the past 20 years. To convert shadow money into settlement money in case of default, repo lenders sell collateral. An intricate collateral valuation regime, consisting of haircuts, mark-to-market, and margin calls, maintains collateral's exchange rate into (central) bank money.

    Second, we put banks at the center of shadow-money creation. The growing shadow-money literature, however original in its insights, downplays banks' activities in the shadows because its empirical terrain is U.S. shadow banking with its institutional peculiarities. There, hedge funds issue shadow money to institutional cash pools via the balance sheet of securities dealers. In Europe or China , it's also banks issuing shadow money to other banks to fund capital market activities. LCH Clearnet SA, a pure shadow bank, offers a glimpse into this world. Like a bank, it backs money issuance with central bank (Banque de France) money. Unlike a bank, LCH Clearnet only issues shadow money.

    Third, we explore the critical role of the state beyond simple guarantor of convertibility. Like bank money, shadow money relies on sovereign structures of authority and credit worthiness. Shadow money is mostly issued against government bond collateral, because liquid securities make repo convertibility easier and cheaper. The legal right to re-use (re-hypothecate) collateral allows various (shadow) banks to issue shadow money against the same government bond, which becomes akin to a base asset with "velocity." Limits to velocity place demands on the state to issue debt, not because it needs cash but because shadow money issuers need collateral.

    With finance ministries unresponsive to such demands, we note two points in the historical development of shadow money in the early 2000s. In the United States, persuasive lobbying exploited concerns that U.S. Treasury debt would fall to dangerously low levels to relax regulation on repos collateralized with asset and mortgage-backed securities . In Europe, the ECB used the mechanics of monetary policy implementation to the same end. When it lent reserves to banks via repos, the ECB used its collateral valuation practices to generate base-asset privileges for "periphery" government bonds, treating these as perfect substitutes for German government bonds, with the explicit intention of powering market liquidity.

    Fourth, we introduce fundamental uncertainty in modern money creation. What makes repos money – at par exchange between "cash" and collateral – is what makes finance more fragile in a Minskyan sense. Knightian uncertainty bites harder and faster because convertibility depends on collateral-market liquidity.

    The collateral valuation regime that makes repos increasingly acceptable ties securities-market liquidity into appetite for leverage. Here, Keynes' concerns with the social benefits of private liquidity become relevant. Keynes voiced strong doubts about the idea of "the more liquidity the better" in stock markets (concerns now routinely voiced by central banks for securities markets). Liquid markets become more fragile, he argued, by giving investors the "illusion" that they can exit before prices turn against them. This is a crucial insight for crises of shadow money.

    A promise backed by tradable collateral remains acceptable as long as lenders trust that collateral can be converted into settlement money at the agreed exchange rate. The need for liquidity may become systemic once collateral falls in market value, as repo issuers must provide additional collateral or cash to maintain at par. If forced to sell assets, collateral prices sink lower, creating a liquidity spiral . Converting shadow money is akin to climbing a ladder that is gradually sinking: The faster one climbs, the more it sinks.

    Note that sovereign collateral does not always stop the sinking, outside the liquid world of U.S. Treasuries. Rather, states can be dragged down with their shadow-money issuing institutions. As Bank of England showed , when LCH Clearnet tightened the terms on which it would hold shadow money backed with Irish and Portuguese sovereign collateral, it made the sovereign debt crisis worse. Europe had its crisis of shadow money, less visible than the Lehman Brothers demise, but no less painful. "Whatever it takes" was a promise to save the "shadow" euro with a credible commitment to support sovereign collateral values.

    Shadow money also constrains the macroeconomic policy options available to the state. That's because what makes shadow liabilities money also greatly complicates its stabilization: it requires a radical re-think of many powerful ideas about money and central banking. The first point, persuasively made by Perry Mehrling , and more recently by Bank of England , is that central banks need a (well-designed) framework to backstop markets , not only institutions . Collateralized debt relationships can withstand a systemic need for liquidity if holders of shadow money are confident that collateral values will not drop sharply, forcing margin calls and fire sales. Yet such overt interventions raise serious moral hazard issues.

    Less well understood is that central banks need to rethink lender of last resort. Their collateral framework can perversely destabilize shadow money. Central banks cannot mitigate convertibility risk for shadow money when they use the same fragile convertibility practices. Rather, central banks should lend unsecured or without seeking to preserve collateral parity.

    We suggest that the state, as base-asset issuer, becomes a de facto shadow central bank. Its fiscal policy stance and debt management matter for the pace of (shadow) credit expansion and for financial stability. Yet, unlike the central bank, the state has no means to stabilize shadow money or protect itself from its fragility. It has to rely on its central bank, caught in turn between independence and shadow money (in)stability, which may require direct interventions in government bond markets.

    The bigger task that follows from our analysis, is to define the social contract between the three key institutions involved in shadow money: the state as base collateral issuer, the central bank, and private finance. In the new FSB or Basel III provisions, we are witnessing a struggle over shadow money with many echoes from the long struggle over bank money. The more radical options, such as disentangling sovereign collateral from shadow money, were never contemplated in regulatory circles. Even a partial disentanglement has proven difficult because states depend on repo markets to support liquidity in government bond markets. Our next step, then, will be to map how the crisis has altered the contours of the state's relation to the shadow money supply, comparing the cases of the U.S., the Eurozone, and China.

    cnchal , April 16, 2016 at 4:10 am

    Financial anarchy is my interpretation of shadow banking.

    . . . The legal right to re-use (re-hypothecate) collateral allows various (shadow) banks to issue shadow money against the same government bond , which becomes akin to a base asset with "velocity." Limits to velocity place demands on the state to issue debt, not because it needs cash but because shadow money issuers need collateral .
    ----
    The bigger task that follows from our analysis, is to define the social contract between the three key institutions involved in shadow money: the state as base collateral issuer, the central bank, and private finance .

    Who does shadow banking serve? It is so far from capitalism, it should be illegal.

    Bernie Sanders: The business of Wall Street is fraud and greed.

    Robert Coutinho , April 16, 2016 at 7:32 am

    Well…yes and no. There is real "need" for some shadow banking services. However, the idea of having Central Banks (issuers of money, or whatever) loaning based on … nothing?

    Less well understood is that central banks need to rethink lender of last resort. Their collateral framework can perversely destabilize shadow money. Central banks cannot mitigate convertibility risk for shadow money when they use the same fragile convertibility practices. Rather, central banks should lend unsecured or without seeking to preserve collateral parity.

    "Europe had its crisis of shadow money, less visible than the Lehman Brothers demise, but no less painful. "Whatever it takes" was a promise to save the "shadow" euro with a credible commitment to support sovereign collateral values."

    Yes, but Lehman was not a taxing authority (although to be fair, Ireland et.al. were not money-issuing sources).

    I am having a hard time understanding all of this–but as far as I can tell, the authors are basically suggesting that sovereign governments should be backing up the shadow banking system. However, I have not seen them suggest any reason for it except that the entire house of cards could come falling down. Boo hoo for the banksters–tell them to do things out of the "shadows".

    Jujeb , April 16, 2016 at 4:20 am

    Why is there a need for 'shadow money' in the first place?
    Afaik, banks create money when they loan and central banks(especially the Fed) issues the most secure assets, their securities, which are used as collateral.

    abynormal , April 16, 2016 at 7:44 am

    Thanks Yves for sharing Gabor…what a Mess! towards the end of 2012 the US shadow banking was said to be around 67 Trillion …did something get baked-in? 2014 the IMF has a much smaller 'account'…(Japan being the worst laughing stock). the gaps are no small detail:

    The IMF's latest Global Financial Stability Report analyzes the growth in shadow banking in recent years in both advanced and emerging market economies and the risks involved.

    According to the report, shadow banking amounts to between 15 and 25 trillion dollars in the United States, between 13.5 and 22.5 trillion in the euro area, and between 2.5 and 6 trillion in Japan-depending on the measure- and around 7 trillion in emerging markets. In emerging markets, its growth is outpacing that of the traditional banking system. https://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/survey/so/2014/pol100114a.htm

    Stephen Verchinski , April 16, 2016 at 9:34 am

    That sure seems a Rx for destabilizing the world currencies to precipitate a collapse. Track and publicize the visits of Congressmen and Senators to the BIS and COL to start. Why are they making these visits under cover? Who are they meeting with? Are they being prepared as to what to expect a deliberate world currency crash? . Our political elite are so beholden to the bankers to allow for the theft of the wealth of nations for unattainable expanding growth and skimming of millions. Is it possible in regard the corporate banks to have the strings attached on the use of shadow money at time of chartering or in the case of the do over at time of bankruptcy?. How is this done? I'd also like to know a good proposal for the private investment boutique banks. Have any bills at state and federal levels been proposed and if not, why not? What would the main sections of such a bill look like. Thanks.

    ke, April 16, 2016 at 8:04 am

    A derivative promise made by a Wall Street prostitute, ultimately contingent upon the ability to liquidate the very users of the instrument, with currency debasement, and war to restock.

    Paying people to buy stuff from others being paid to buy stuff, with the full faith and credit of dependent seniors in a collapsing actuarial ponzi, with nothing more than made for TV mercenaries, isn't likely to end well.

    Craps, the bank moves to the next suckers, with nothing more than the promise of an exotic vacation, billed to someone else.

    Steve H. , April 16, 2016 at 9:27 am

    – Limits to velocity place demands on the state to issue debt, not because it needs cash but because shadow money issuers need collateral.

    There's a dirty linchpin. Even if the diabolical multiplier from cnchal's quote were removed, and the dollar was hard-pinned to a pound of silver to pay the sheriff with, infinite debt issuance can step in to the feed the hungry beast.

    Promises to pay kept mercenaries in line during the city-states. If you didn't win you didn't get paid. Unless you turned around and took your employers gold instead. Which is a bit like capturing the central banks.

    Still, debt can be put to good uses. Infrastructure, maybe. Basic necessities and health. 'When the people are strong, the nation is strong.' Instead, the gearing seem like the machine in Princess Bride, sucking time from peoples lives.

    Watt4Bob , April 16, 2016 at 10:06 am

    With regard to velocity;

    Ask any highway patrolman, the faster the speed limit, the worse the accidents.

    On the famed autobahns of Europe, the no speed limit means that when an accident occurs, the results are likely to be catastrophic.

    And I really love the observation that central banks need a mechanism to backstop the market.

    Reminds me of the main problem with the famous Vincent Black Shadow motorcycle, it could attain speeds close to 200 mph, but brake designs at the time didn't work at those speeds, so as Hunter S. Thompson remarked;

    "If you rode the Black Shadow at top speed for any length of time, you would almost certainly die."

    Wall $treet wants to go fast, the faster the better, but they haven't got any brakes, and worse than that, we're all along for the ride whether we like it or not.

    Jim Haygood , April 16, 2016 at 2:04 pm

    Richard Thompson got it too:

    Oh, says Red Molly to James, "That's a fine motorbike
    A girl could feel special on any such like"
    Says James to Red Molly, "My hat's off to you
    It's a Vincent Black Lightning, 1952"

    [James gets shot in a robbery]

    When she came to the hospital, there wasn't much left
    He was running out of road, he was running out of breath
    But he smiled to see her cry
    And said I'll give you my Vincent to ride

    Oh, he reached for her hand then he slipped her the keys
    He said, "I've got no further use for these
    I see angels on Ariels, in leather and chrome
    Swooping down from heaven to carry me home"

    And he gave her one last kiss and died
    And he gave her his Vincent to ride

    It was sorta like that when Bernanke handed J-Yel the keys to his QE penny farthing bike.

    Watt4Bob , April 17, 2016 at 9:09 am

    I'd flesh out that analogy a bit;

    The Bernanke and J-Yel witnessed the header that Greenspan took on that bike, and decided to leave it standing against the wall. When you consider the fact that neither of them could reach the pedals, let alone mount the thing and ride, that was probably a good idea.

    Chauncey Gardiner , April 16, 2016 at 10:53 am

    When did the central banks' framework to backstop markets morph into an organized effort to push the value of repo collateral relentlessly upward forever?…

    What about increasing the relentless decline in the Velocity of Money by gradually increasing interest rates? Yes, that might be a catalyst to trigger a "liquidity spiral". So what? We now have moral hazard in spades and at some point will have to cross the Rubicon, whether willingly or not.

    washunate , April 16, 2016 at 11:38 am

    Here's a simple theory: Shadow banking is government approved fraud.

    cnchal, April 16, 2016 at 12:07 pm

    i am reading one of the links from the post titled "Regulating money creation after the crisis", and it's even worse than government approved fraud. I am only part way through it, but here is a gem.

    On page 10

    . . . Instead, OLA was designed to preserve the value of the assets of failed financial firms until they are liquidated, a worthy aim, but a very different one. At the same time, the Dodd-Frank Act has imposed significant new limitations on the government's freestanding panic-fighting tools . These limitations, absent future congressional action, would render next to impossible the kind of aggressive government rescue operation that was staged during the recent crisis.

    Criminality and corruption is embedded at the top of the financial food chain, by law.

    Paul Tioxon , April 16, 2016 at 2:20 pm

    Motion seconded: Government sanctioned counterfeiting.

    Keith , April 16, 2016 at 11:54 am

    Before we complicate the issue, it is fairly obvious no one understands conventional money and it is one of the best kept secrets on the planet.

    Learn how normal money works and how its mismanagement has led to many of today's problems.

    Banks create money out of nothing to allow you to buy things with loans and mortgages (fractional reserve banking).

    After years of lobbying the reserve required is often as good as nothing. Mortgages can be obtained with the reserve contained in the fee.

    After the financial crisis there were found to be £1.25 in reserves for every £100 issued on credit in the UK.

    Having no reserve shouldn't be a problem with prudent lending.

    Creating money out of nothing is the service they really provide to let you spend your own future income now.

    They charge interest to cover their costs, for the risk involved and the service they provide.
    Your repayments in the future, pay back the money they created out of nothing.

    The asset bought covers them if you default, they will repossess it and sell it to recover the rest of the debt unpaid.

    At the end all is back to square one.

    The bank has received the interest for its service.

    You have paid for the asset you have bought plus the interest to the bank for its service of letting you use your own money from the future.

    Today's massive debt load is all money borrowed from the future for things already bought.

    It can also go wrong another way, when banks lend into asset bubbles that collapse very quickly. The repossessed asset doesn't cover the outstanding debt and money gets destroyed on the banks balance sheets.

    When banks lend in large amounts, on margin, into stock markets, the bust shreds their balance sheets (1929).

    When banks lend in large amounts on mortgages into housing markets, the bust shreds their balance sheets (2008).

    If banks don't lend prudently you are in trouble.

    Then they developed securitisation …… oh dear (no need to lend prudently now).

    Housing booms and busts around the world …… oh dear.

    All that money borrowed from the future and already spent …… oh dear.

    susan the other , April 16, 2016 at 12:16 pm

    This is so interesting. It seems to be approaching the subject that Wray speculated about a while back – that we should give central banks fiscal responsibility. Because otherwise a sovereign state has no control over its sovereign money? It seems to me that money itself becomes a rehypothecated asset by virtue of being invested over and over again – if it is well allocated and under good fiscal control all is well. If not we get the Great Recession.

    So let the state become the defacto shadow central bank so it had direct control of its own money. Instead of hanging on to the old gold standard mindset of top down management, why not think of people, not collateral, as the root of the system – the grass roots. How much money does a system – a sovereign country – need per person. And then establish a sovereign central bank to deal directly, bringing the shadows into the sunlight of fiscal control.

    JTHcPhee , April 16, 2016 at 12:35 pm

    …and does anyone remember the triumph of the desk slaves of the Crimson Permanent Assurance? Monty Python understood something about political economies and how one might achieve more fairness in outcomes… https://vimeo.com/111458975

    Paul Tioxon , April 16, 2016 at 12:38 pm

    Moneyness, like doggitas, you just can't scratch behind its ears. If shadow money is distinguished by its relationship to collateral, as opposed to money issued by the state, with the entire human enterprise of civilization as its basis, it still seems to me that at the top of the money hierarchy is fiat money, the real money by the real social order empowered by the social forms of power that sustain human life in all of its aspects, not just the financial conveniences. Shadow money sounds to me like fictional capital by another name. And contractual based deposits sounds like counterfeiting. With the distinction that the man with counterfeit printing press robs the train, while the man who runs the Wall St Investment bank repo trading desk robs the whole railroad. Am I right or Am I right. What a bunch of Losers!!!

    And if there is any doubt about the fictional quality of $Trillions and $ Trillions of dollars, physicists can not find anything naturally occurring in the universe beyond billions and billions. Money, simply a numbered record, a counting or cardinal number, transforms into money in name only, MINO, when it refers to fictional amount that can only appear contractually as words, and do not count how much economic activity or output has been produced.

    Therefore, Money becomes a victim of the ontological argument for God by St Anselm. If God does not exist, an all powerful, all knowing, all present infinitely great in all categories of Supreme Being could not be written or spoken about, lacking the quality of existence. The fact that we CAN speak about an Omnipotent Supreme Deity means that one in fact exists, due to existence is part and parcel of Omnipotence. But of course, because we can talk or write about something, does not make it real.

    It can become socially acceptable as in the case of shadow money, but it is fictional capital, a shadow of the real thing. Time to get out of the cave of finance with its shadows dancing from the light of the fires and walk eyes wide open in the bright light of sunshine!

    craazyman , April 16, 2016 at 12:43 pm

    I don't know about this one. It seems to me to be some pretty queasy thinking. It kind of wanders around in circles of confusion. "my existence led by confusion boats, mutiny from stern to bow".

    That's pretty funny somebody would say that money is diabolically hard to write about. That's pretty funny.

    Money is actually the easiest thing to write about, because it's formless energy. It's not that the phenomenon is shadow money, it's shadow assets.

    You have to be able to separate in your mind the ideas of 1) Quantity and 2) Form. That's why economics is a mental disorder, because it doesn't separate quantity and form. If you can't or don't, then yes, it's diabolically hard to write about because you're writing about two different things simultaneously without realizing it. Money is a quantity that is infinite and continuous, but form is an idea that is discontinuous and finite. People do what the forms tell them to do. The money is just like electricity that powers the animation of the forms. Repo is a form it's not money. It's existence results in a certain ordering of social relations, that's also a form. But money is just the energy that makes the forms potent.

    The primary challenge is to come up with an ordered way of thinking about the forms themselves. That's frankly not easy. The ideal would be to understand them in the manner in which Euclid understood geometrical ideas. If you can get the vision, then you can see all the possibilities for structure and ordered relationships. there's really no triangle in reality and there's no point and there's no line and there's no plane. They just made them up to approximate physical reality. Then they thought to themselves "Holy shit! These ideas interrelated in an astounding range of symmetries and causations." Then they became a lens or a framework through which physical reality was interpreted. But they didn't confuse the idea of "number" with the idea of "triangle" or "circle".

    Certainly in math the algebraic interpretation doesn't rely completely on the geometrical interpretation. But if there is no geometrical interpretation and it's only algebra, then so much is missing, so much is lost. I guess that's why they used to call it "political economy" before the mental disorder fully usurped the power of perception and reasoning.

    susan the other , April 16, 2016 at 2:18 pm

    lovely to read you

    Watt4Bob , April 17, 2016 at 8:58 am

    Certainly in math the algebraic interpretation doesn't rely completely on the geometrical interpretation. But if there is no geometrical interpretation and it's only algebra, then so much is missing, so much is lost.

    With that firmly in mind, I think it's necessary to mention the fact that the " study " of "economics" relies on calculus, wherein we are introduced to the notion of change over time, volume, motion, acceleration, rates of change, vectors, etc.

    Algebra and geometry are, as you point out, obvious abstractions, but once you add volume motion, and rates of change, the models become very seductive, and it's easy to see how one can be convinced that they are approaching an understanding of 'reality'.

    The trouble is of course, that the egg-heads busy trying to describe economic "reality" with calculus, are, for the most part in the employ of savages who will forever cling to a simple arithmetic where their only interest is in "having it all".

    Genius employed to make excuses for demented indifference.

    Jim Haygood , April 16, 2016 at 1:27 pm

    'Central banks should lend unsecured … we suggest that the state, as base-asset issuer, becomes a de facto shadow central bank.' - Daniela "Zsa Zsa" Gabor

    This statement desperately needs Walter Bagehot's qualifications: "to solvent institutions" and "at a penalty rate."

    Otherwise, we're just talking about another squalid round of "TARP for Jamie," as we peasants reach for our pitchforks.

    cnchal , April 16, 2016 at 2:07 pm

    Bagehot, eh.

    It should however be pointed out that the idea of shadow banking is not remotely new. The concept was presaged well over a century ago by Walter Bagehot, the legendary English banker, essayist, and theorist. In 1873, Bagehot wrote Lombard Street: A Description of the Money Market, his canonical work on the money market and central banking. In it, he observed that the great London banks were accompanied by a parallel set of financial firms, known as "bill brokers," which in many ways resembled modern-day securities dealers. Like today's dealers, these bill-brokers financed themselves with borrowings that, Bagehot informs us, were "repayable at demand, or at very short notice."

    Formally speaking these firms were not banks but to Bagehot they might as well be. "The London bill brokers," he observes, "do much the same [as banks]. Indeed, they are only a special sort of bankers who allow daily interest on deposits, and who for most of their money give security [i.e., collateral]. But we have no concern now with these differences of detail." At times, Bagehot is careful to note that the short-term obligations of bill-brokers were not technically deposits; he observes that the maturing of these liabilities "is not indeed a direct withdrawal of money on deposit," although "its principal effect is identical."

    Other times, however, Bagehot dispenses even with this distinction: "It was also most natural that the bill-brokers should become, more or less, bankers too, and should receive money on deposit without giving any security for it." Here we have an unambiguous identification of the shadow banking phenomenon about 140 years ago .

    Bas , April 16, 2016 at 1:30 pm

    it's all been reduced to gambling with no meaningful value in "The House" to back it up. Money will disappear, like in Star Trek.

    fresno dan , April 16, 2016 at 1:36 pm

    I would posit that there are two types of money
    A – money of the 0.001% – if they walk into a casino, real estate transaction, or any asset for that matter they can NOMINALLY lose money – in fact the 0.001% NEVER lose any of THEIR money, they just lose your money. All winnings, of anybody doing anything anywhere, belong to them.
    B – money of everybody else – this money nominally is yours to do with as you see fit, but it ALL belongs to the 0.001%. The collateral that backs it up is everything you earn and own and when necessary your, and your family's, internal organs…

    Jamie , April 16, 2016 at 4:46 pm

    "The nation [England] was not a penny poorer by the bursting of these soap bubbles of nominal money capital. All these securities actually represent nothing but accumulated claims, legal titles to future production. Their money or capital value either does not represent capital at all … or is determined independently of the real capital value they represent."

    – Marx
    Banking Capital's Component Parts
    Capital: Volume Three

    James Levy , April 17, 2016 at 6:07 am

    Marx failed to acknowledge that supposedly hard-headed Capitalism is actually all about living beyond your means and mortgaging the future.

    It was designed from the Fuggars' and the Medici's to be about debt and fractional reserves and interest. A system based on a finite supply of money is going to grow not much faster, at best, than the money available allows.

    Capitalism allows explosive growth by supplying explosive amounts of credit. All this shadow banking activity is designed to get around reserve requirements; nothing else I can see calls all this complexity into existence. The banks always need more, because lending is how they make their money, so they want an infinite amount to lend in order to drive their profits towards the infinite.

    Sy Krass , April 16, 2016 at 10:41 pm

    A sovereign can create its own currency, but theoretically couldn't it create any currency? Couldn't Greece for example click a few key boards put some ones and zeros in and say, "oh our account with $1,000,000 US is actually $10,000,000,000 US?

    HAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!

    financial matters , April 17, 2016 at 5:49 am

    This article I think defines shadow money alright as starting where bank deposits leave off but as the above comments suggest seems to miss some key points. I think a major problem with the article is seeing central banks as separate from the state rather than seeing the central bank along with the Treasury as the state itself.

    The article gets Treasury debt wrong by seeing it as the central bank funding the state rather than as actually coming from the state. This leads to wrong policy choices such as this state money being used to bail out useless financial transactions and asset appreciation rather than the public purpose. I think crazyman has it right. We left behind the power of perception and reasoning by not realizing the importance of political economy.

    Lambert Strether, April 17, 2016 at 7:22 am

    This is reminscent of Gramsci's idea that the state and civil society are to be distinguished only for purposes of exposition.

    ewmayer, April 17, 2016 at 4:45 pm

    Some issues with the piece and questions for the authors (and fellow NCers):

    I really wish such analyses would use the more-precise term "credit-money" in reference to money creation by banks, to distinguish it from government money creation, which similarly may have repayment requirements attached (bonds), but need not be so. The "need not be so" may occur via outright fiat emission, but more commonly appears in form of a public debt stock which continually increases with time, at least in nominal terms.

    The legal right to re-use (re-hypothecate) collateral allows various (shadow) banks to issue shadow money against the same government bond, which becomes akin to a base asset with "velocity."

    Fine, but what about that other crucial element of modern bank credit-money creation, leverage? Are there any practical limits on shadow banks' issuance of multiple units of shadow money against the same government-bond money unit? If so, how are they enforced (if at all)? Note also the key concept of "implied leverage" inherent in such schemes, where the leverage ratio may fluctuate drastically with the mark-to-market valuation of the collateral. Banks play endless games with "fictional reserves"; it would be naive to imagine that non-bank shadow lenders don't do similarly with their alleged collateral.

    The first point, persuasively made by Perry Mehrling, and more recently by Bank of England, is that central banks need a (well-designed) framework to backstop markets, not only institutions.

    Erm, markets are the *only* thing the government should be committed to ensuring functioning of - we have overwhelming evidences from multiple boom-bust-crisis episodes over the last 3 decades of the toxic results of governments backstopping hyperleveraged fraud-riddled institutions and the crooks running same.

    [Apr 13, 2016] The dead end of neoliberal transformation of the USA society

    economistsview.typepad.com

    Economist's View

    New Deal democrat : , Monday, April 11, 2016 at 03:07 PM
    "consensus in support of global economic integration as a force for peace and prosperity "

    "The Great Illusion" ( https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Great_Illusion )
    That increased trade is a bulwark against war rears its ugly head again.

    The above book which so ironically delivered the message was published in 1910.

    Alas, the Kaiser, the Tsar, and the Emperor did not act in accord with its tenets. Either increased global trade is irrelevant to war and peace, or World War I didn't happen. Your pick which to believe.

    RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> New Deal democrat... , Tuesday, April 12, 2016 at 03:06 AM
    Awesome, Dude!
    George H. Blackford : , Monday, April 11, 2016 at 03:20 PM
    Our problems began back in the 1970s when we abandoned the Bretton Woods international capital controls and then broke the unions, cut taxes on corporations and upper income groups, and deregulated the financial system. This eventually led a stagnation of wages in the US and an increase in the concentration of income at the top of the income distribution throughout the world: http://www.rwEconomics.com/Ch_1.htm

    The export-led growth model that began in the 1990s seriously exacerbated this problem as it proved to be unsustainable: http://www.rwEconomics.com/htm/WDCh_2.htm

    When combined with tax cuts and financial deregulation it led to increasing debt relative to income in the importing countries that caused the financial catastrophe we went through in 2008, the economic stagnation that followed, and the social unrest we see throughout the world today. This, in turn, created a situation in which the full utilization of our economic resources can only be maintained through an unsustainable increase in debt relative to income: http://www.rwEconomics.com/htm/WDCh3e.htm

    This is what has to be overcome if we are to get out of the mess the world is in today, and it's not going to be overcome by pretending that it's just going to go away if people can just become educated about the benefits of trade. At least that's not the way it worked out in the 1930s: http://www.rwEconomics.com/LTLGAD.htm

    RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> George H. Blackford ... , Tuesday, April 12, 2016 at 03:13 AM
    Totally excellent, Dude!
    Dan Kervick : , Monday, April 11, 2016 at 06:26 PM
    Global integration and the liberalization of capital flows outside of national boundaries, and outside of the constraints of national solidarity, has pushed Americans further into a ruthless capitalist struggle for strictly individual measures of "success", and intensified economic insecurity and the gaps between winners and losers. Economists find the resistance to these trends mysterious; others not so much.
    RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> Dan Kervick... , Tuesday, April 12, 2016 at 03:14 AM
    Priceless!
    Adamski : , Tuesday, April 12, 2016 at 07:10 AM
    The prospect of an international recession has me feeling down but then I read this sniping timewasting comments section and it doesn't seem so bad
    Ashok Hegde : , Tuesday, April 12, 2016 at 02:07 PM
    Economic leaders after WW2 had a Colonialist attitude entrenched within. They made a plan for global economic integration, which only considered the economic needs and realities of developed western nations. China/India/Indonesia/etc...were never at the conceptual table.

    Now, the tides have turned. The China-India nexus historically accounted for roughly 40% of the global economy. That 'normal' state was eclipsed for 1.5 centuries, and we may regress to that norm. If so, a ton of jobs, and economic activity, may shift from the West, to Asia. If so, the western middle classes are screwed.

    BILL ELLIS -> Ashok Hegde ... , Tuesday, April 12, 2016 at 03:02 PM
    It's not a zero sum problem
    BILL ELLIS : , Tuesday, April 12, 2016 at 02:56 PM
    Up till now globalism has mostly been conducted by laissez faire neo liberal elite...for the needs of the elite.
    That's not entirely a bad thing. Wars are started over the needs and desires of our elites. Common folks left to their own, won't find reason to go off and kill their counterparts... it only after "the other" has been dehumanized and demonized by the elite that common people will allow themselves to be organized to kill one another.

    By allowing and encouraging the world's elite to operate within a system of mutual dependence, we decrease the incentive for the elite to marshal and deploy their captive populations against one another.

    But once that international system has been solidified...as it has now... The objective should be to tear it down...it should be to make it democratized, unionised, and transparent .

    We need to move from laissez faire neo liberalism to social democratic neo liberalism.

    BILL ELLIS -> BILL ELLIS... , -1
    Should " not" be torn down...

    [Apr 11, 2016] Paul Krugman: Snoopy the Destroyer

    Notable quotes:
    "... "Judge Collyer repeatedly complained that the regulators had failed to do a cost-benefit analysis." What Professor Krugman omits here is that so-called "cost-benefit analysis" has been corrupted by the fallacious Kaldor-Hicks compensation principle. The house cleaning has a lot further to go than "Republicans." ..."
    economistsview.typepad.com
    Systemically important presidential elections:
    Snoopy the Destroyer, by Paul Krugman, NY Times : Has Snoopy just doomed us to another severe financial crisis? Unfortunately, that's a real possibility, thanks to a bad judicial ruling that threatens a key part of financial reform. ...
    At the end of 2014 the regulators designated MetLife , whose business extends far beyond individual life insurance, a systemically important financial institution. Other firms faced with this designation have tried to get out by changing their business models. For example, General Electric ... sold off much of its finance business. But MetLife went to court. And it has won a favorable ruling from Rosemary Collyer , a Federal District Court judge.
    It was a peculiar ruling. Judge Collyer repeatedly complained that the regulators had failed to do a cost-benefit analysis, which the law doesn't say they should do, and for good reason. Financial crises are, after all, rare but drastic events; it's unreasonable to expect regulators to game out in advance just how likely the next crisis is, or how it might play out, before imposing prudential standards. To demand that officials quantify the unquantifiable would, in effect, establish a strong presumption against any kind of protective measures.
    Of course, that's what financial firms want. Conservatives like to pretend that the "systemically important" designation is actually a privilege, a guarantee that firms will be bailed out. Back in 2012 Mitt Romney described this part of reform as "a kiss that's been given to New York banks"..., an "enormous boon for them." Strange to say, however, firms are doing all they can to dodge this "boon" - and MetLife's stock rose sharply when the ruling came down.
    The federal government will appeal..., but even if it wins the ruling may open the floodgates to a wave of challenges to financial reform. And that's the sense in which Snoopy may be setting us up for future disaster.
    It doesn't have to happen. As with so much else, this year's election is crucial. A Democrat in the White House would enforce the spirit as well as the letter of reform - and would also appoint judges sympathetic to that endeavor. A Republican, any Republican, would make every effort to undermine reform, even if he didn't manage an explicit repeal.
    Just to be clear, I'm not saying that the 2010 financial reform was enough. The next crisis might come even if it remains intact. But the odds of crisis will be a lot higher if it falls apart.

    jonny bakho : Monday, April 11, 2016 at 06:54 AM

    The free market needs government intervention to save the market from itself.
    pgl said in reply to jonny bakho... , Monday, April 11, 2016 at 07:25 AM
    Yes - and we need to get the corporate lawyers out of the way.
    Sandwichman -> pgl... , Monday, April 11, 2016 at 07:47 AM
    10,000 at the bottom of the ocean would be a good start.
    DrDick -> jonny bakho... , Monday, April 11, 2016 at 07:36 AM
    Markets cannot even exist without government regulation.
    anne : , Monday, April 11, 2016 at 07:02 AM
    http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/04/11/a-victory-against-the-shadows/

    April 11, 2015

    A Victory Against the Shadows
    By Paul Krugman

    There are two big lessons from GE's announcement * that it is planning to get out of the finance business. First, the much maligned Dodd-Frank financial reform is doing some real good. Second, Republicans have been talking nonsense on the subject. OK, maybe point #2 isn't really news, but it's important to understand just what kind of nonsense they've been talking.

    GE Capital was a quintessential example of the rise of shadow banking. In most important respects it acted like a bank; it created systemic risks very much like a bank; but it was effectively unregulated, and had to be bailed out through ad hoc arrangements that understandably had many people furious about putting taxpayers on the hook for private irresponsibility.

    Most economists, I think, believe that the rise of shadow banking had less to do with real advantages of such nonbank banks than it did with regulatory arbitrage - that is, institutions like GE Capital were all about exploiting the lack of adequate oversight. And the general view is that the 2008 crisis came about largely because regulatory evasion had reached the point where an old-fashioned wave of bank runs, albeit wearing somewhat different clothes, was once again possible.

    So Dodd-Frank tries to fix the bad incentives by subjecting systemically important financial institutions - SIFIs - to greater oversight, higher capital and liquidity requirements, etc. And sure enough, what GE is in effect saying is that if we have to compete on a level playing field, if we can't play the moral hazard game, it's not worth being in this business. That's a clear demonstration that reform is having a real effect.

    Now, the more or less official GOP line is that the crisis had nothing to do with runaway banks - it was all about Barney Frank somehow forcing poor innocent bankers to make loans to Those People. And the line on the right also asserts that the SIFI designation is actually an invitation to behave badly, that institutions so designated know that they are too big to fail and can start living high on the moral hazard hog.

    But as Mike Konczal notes, ** GE - following in the footsteps of others, notably MetLife *** - is clearly desperate to get out from under the SIFI designation. It sure looks as if being named a SIFI is indeed what it's supposed to be, a burden rather than a bonus.

    A good day for the reformers.

    * http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/11/business/dealbook/the-lessons-for-finance-in-the-ge-capital-retreat.html

    ** http://www.nextnewdeal.net/rortybomb/how-end-ge-capital-also-kills-core-conservative-talking-point-about-dodd-frank

    *** http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2015/01/13/metlife-to-fight-too-big-to-fail-status-in-court/

    Sandwichman : , Monday, April 11, 2016 at 07:14 AM
    "Judge Collyer repeatedly complained that the regulators had failed to do a cost-benefit analysis." What Professor Krugman omits here is that so-called "cost-benefit analysis" has been corrupted by the fallacious Kaldor-Hicks compensation principle. The house cleaning has a lot further to go than "Republicans."
    anne said in reply to Sandwichman ... , Monday, April 11, 2016 at 07:23 AM
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaldor%E2%80%93Hicks_efficiency

    A Kaldor–Hicks improvement, named for Nicholas Kaldor and John Hicks, also known as the Kaldor–Hicks criterion, is a way of judging economic re-allocations of resources among people that captures some of the intuitive appeal of Pareto improvements, but has less stringent criteria and is hence applicable to more circumstances.

    A re-allocation is a Kaldor–Hicks improvement if those that are made better off could hypothetically compensate those that are made worse off and lead to a Pareto-improving outcome. The compensation does not actually have to occur (there is no presumption in favor of status-quo) and thus, a Kaldor–Hicks improvement can in fact leave some people worse off.

    Sandwichman -> anne... , Monday, April 11, 2016 at 07:31 AM
    There are no stable "units" in which compensation could be paid.

    http://econospeak.blogspot.ca/2014/11/numeraire-shmoo-meraire-nature-doesnt.html

    David Ellerman:

    "Consider a transfer of an apple from Mary to John and a transfer of $0.75 from John to Mary. Use Kaldor-Hicks to evaluate each part as a "project" with the other part as the "compensation". Using money as the numeraire and the apple transfer as the "project", we see under the assumptions that the transfer of the apple increases social wealth measured in dollars so that is the recommendation based on "efficiency", and the payment of the "compensation" of $0.75 is a matter of "equity" of concern to politician, theologians, and philosophers but not to the professional economist. Now reverse the numeraire taking apples as the numeraire and the transfer of the $0.75 as the "project". Then the transfer of the apple (= "compensation") does not change social wealth = size of the apple pie, but the transfer of the $0.75 increases the size of the social apple pie by 3/4 of an apple so it is the transfer of the $0.75 that is recommended on efficiency grounds by hard-nosed economists while the transfer of the apple is left to politicians, theologians, and the like as a matter of "equity." Thus the outcome of the KH analysis is reversed by a change in the numeraire used to describe the exact same pair of transfers."

    anne said in reply to Sandwichman ... , Monday, April 11, 2016 at 07:50 AM
    November 22, 2014

    #NUM!éraire, Shmoo-méraire: Nature doesn't truck and barter

    The commodity in terms of which the prices of all the others are expressed is the numéraire. -- Leon Walras, Elements of Pure Economics.

    But the numéraire is a purely technical device, introduced simply for the purpose of making exchange values explicit. In no way does the introduction of a standard of value alter the fundamental nature of the economy in question. It remains a barter economy, since goods are exchanged solely for other goods. -- André Orléan, The Empire of