Jun 012021
 June 1, 2021  Posted by at 8:47 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  30 Responses »

Pablo Picasso La lecture 1932


3 Leaks that Sink the Covid Narrative (OffG)
Thanks For The Labels (Denninger)
After COVID-19 Successes, Push For mRNA Vaccines For Other Diseases (Nature)
Former National Security Advisor: ‘I Think We Can’ Find Covid-19 Origin (Hill)
Peru Surges To Highest Covid Death Toll Per Capita (Axios)
EU Plans To Lift Covid Quarantine Rules For Vaccinated From 1 July (G.)
The Three Rivers of Angst (Kunstler)
US Caught Spying On EU ‘Allies’ Again…What Is Europe Going To Do About It? (RT)
Russia May Be Cut Off From SWIFT Banking Payment System (RT)
EU Set To Unveil Plans For Bloc-Wide Digital Wallet (R.)
Just 7% of UK Shop Payments Predicted To Be In Cash By 2024 (G.)





German department of the interior report: “The danger is obviously no greater than that of many other viruses.”

3 Leaks that Sink the Covid Narrative (OffG)

The science of the coronavirus is not disputed. It is well documented and openly admitted: Most people won’t get the virus. Most of the people who get it won’t display symptoms. Most of the people who display symptoms will only be mildly sick. Most of the people with severe symptoms will never be critically ill. And most of the people who get critically ill will survive. This is borne out by the numerous serological studies which show, again and again, that the infection fatality ratio is on par with flu. There is no science – and increasingly little rational discussion – to justify the lockdown measures and overall sense of global panic. Nevertheless, it’s always good to get official acknowledgement of the truth, even if it has to be leaked. Here are three leaks showing that those in power know that the coronavirus poses no threat, and in no way justifies the lockdown that is going to destroy the livelihoods of so many.

1. “IT’S ALL BULLSHIT!” On May 26th Dr Alexander Myasnikov, Russia’s head of coronavirus information, gave an interview to former-Presidential candidate Ksenia Sobchak in which he apparently let slip his true feelings. Believing the interview over, and the camera turned off, Myasnikov said: “It’s all bullshit […] It’s all exaggerated. It’s an acute respiratory disease with minimal mortality […] Why has the whole world been destroyed? That I don’t know,”

2. “COVID-19 CANNOT BE DESCRIBED AS A GENERALLY DANGEROUS DISEASE” According to an e-mail leaked to Danish newspaper Politiken, the Danish Health Authority disagree with their government’s approach to the coronavirus. They cover it in two articles. There’s a lot of interesting information there, not least of which is the clear implication that politicians appear to be pressing the scientific advisors to overstate the danger (they did the same thing in the UK), along with the decision of some civil servants to withhold data from the public until after the lockdown had been extended. But by far the most important quote is from a March 15th e-mail: The Danish Health Authority continues to consider that covid-19 cannot be described as a generally dangerous disease, as it does not have either a usually serious course or a high mortality rate,” On March 12th the Danish parliament passed an emergency law which – among many other things – decreased the power of the Danish Health Authority, demoting it from a “regulatory authority” to just an “advisory” one.

3. “A GLOBAL FALSE ALARM” Earlier this month, on May 9th, a report was leaked to the German alternate media magazine Tichys Einblick titled “Analysis of the Crisis Management”. The report was commissioned by the German department of the interior, but then its findings were ignored, prompting one of the authors to release it through non-official channels. The fall out of that, including attacks on the authors and minimising of the report’s findings, is all very fascinating and we highly recommend this detailed report on Strategic Culture. We’re going to focus on just the reports conclusions, including [our emphasis]:

The dangerousness of Covid-19 was overestimated: probably at no point did the danger posed by the new virus go beyond the normal level. The danger is obviously no greater than that of many other viruses. There is no evidence that this was more than a false alarm. During the Corona crisis the State has proved itself as one of the biggest producers of Fake News. After being attacked in the press, and suspended from his job, the leaker and other authors of the report released a joint statement, calling on the government to respond to their findings.

Read more …

“Took the stab? You’re off the marriage-potential list permanently. Why? Potential life-long medical complications, that’s why.”

Thanks For The Labels (Denninger)

One of the latest bits of insanity: Dating apps are allegedly asking if you’ve taken the Covid stab and displaying a “badge” if you have. I haven’t verified this personally since I have no use for such things, but it’s allegedly either there or being rolled out. To which, if I was single and younger, especially of potential child-siring age, I’d say “thanks for the warning.” Indeed, the malicious (or shall we say, “predatory”) men out there just got fair warning of who is a **** ’em and leave “fun” date. Took the stab? You’re off the marriage-potential list permanently. Why? Potential life-long medical complications, that’s why. Do I want to marry someone who may have given themselves an auto-immune disease three or five years down the road? Oh Hell No. But if she’s cute, well, the bed awaits — for now.

When Lupus or similar “screw you” lifetime medical issues make their appearance she can enjoy the company of her cats — that wasn’t a random chance thing we all are forced to face as adults and is always part of the deal it was self-inflicted stupidity and her other half didn’t get a vote. Never mind the rather clear problem that is presented to anyone (of either sex) contemplating a permanent relationship with someone who is willing to stab themselves with an experimental drug. There’s a legitimate reason to do it, by the way: You already know you’re at very high risk of a respiratory virus killing you, so despite the unknowns the math pencils out. Ok, thanks for the warning again; you aren’t in good health and don’t expect to remain that way. Is that person marriage and child-raising material? Naw, but a **** is all good.

Then there’s those who can be bribed cheap — you know, with a donut, or a lottery ticket? That’s great marriage material too, right? I mean, let’s face facts: A healthy 20-something person has a statistical zero risk of being killed by Covid and half of them probably already had it and may not even know so they didn’t take the shot to protect their own health after careful deliberation and an antibody test first, right? How does this relate to long-term relationships? Simple: There’s always some ******* who is richer, no matter how much you have and she just branded herself as willing to sell her future cheap. VERY cheap. Thanks for the warning; it’s a hell of a lot better for a guy to conclusively find this out before he needs a divorce lawyer! Make sure the rubbers stay in your wallet so she can’t “pin” them before use and for the love of God flush the damn thing after you’re done so she can’t fish it out of the trash can!

It’s even worse from the male future family evaluation side. Some guys do want families. Was there permanent damage done to that capability in terms of bearing kids? We know that those nice mRNA shots show up in the ovaries. Oh, chick-a-dee didn’t know that before rolling up her sleeve? Well, that’s what haste gets you — not bothering to wait for the science to figure it out. I have no idea and neither does she if that’s a problem but she took the stab voluntarily. So about that willingness to have said family and put your relationship in front of preening around virtue-signaling on Instabitch and Facesucker, eh? Maybe that will all work out ok, but it seems to me that by the time we will know with reasonable certainty the window will be closed on the baby factory as only high-risk (for both woman and child) and maybe even IVF, if any, pregnancies will be possible. Again: No thanks; I’ll take the woman who didn’t deliberately risk permanent compromise of her reproductive capacity so she could get into Lollapalooza.

Read more …

21st century Frankenstein?

After COVID-19 Successes, Push For mRNA Vaccines For Other Diseases (Nature)

When the broad range of vaccines against COVID-19 were being tested in clinical trials, only a few experts expected the unproven technology of mRNA to be the star. Within 10 months, mRNA vaccines were both the first to be approved and the most effective. Although these are the first mRNA vaccines to be approved, the story of mRNA vaccines starts more than 30 years ago, with many bumps in the road along the way. In 1990, the late physician-scientist Jon Wolff and his University of Wisconsin colleagues injected mRNA into mice, which caused cells in the mice to produce the encoded proteins. In many ways, that work served as the first step toward making a vaccine from mRNA, but there was a long way to go—and there still is, for many applications.

Traditional vaccines use a weak or inactive form of a microorganism to turn the immune system against the disease. After a person is given injection of an mRNA vaccine, their cells make part or all of a protein that causes an immune response, including the production of antibodies. Although the most widely known examples are the mRNA-based vaccines from BioNTech–Pfizer and Moderna directed against the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that causes COVID-19, that is just one small part of this field—and those vaccines were not the first efforts that used mRNA. Despite the many benefits of using this molecule as the basis of a vaccine, it comes with fundamental challenges: it is not very stable inside cells, and mRNA is not efficiently translated into proteins when used as a gene-delivery tool. Today, mRNA can be engineered to battle many diseases, but it will not work with all of them.

German biotechnology company BioNTech’s chief medical officer Özlem Türeci—physician, immunologist and entrepreneur—says that “mRNA has a couple of interesting features that make it attractive for vaccines.” Adaptability serves as this molecule’s key feature in this application and beyond. mRNA can be engineered not only to make antigens for vaccines but also to encode antibodies, cytokines and other proteins related to the immune system. “The versatility of mRNA creates a huge design space,” she explains. The scientists at BioNTech spent years researching and developing techniques to get full command over mRNA, including optimizing its non-coding parts, designing specific sequences, developing manufacturing processes and more.

Türeci describes the results of those efforts by saying, “We have a diversified toolbox and by mixing and matching the modules in this toolbox, we can design mRNA with the features that we need for a particular purpose.” She adds that “it is a bit like writing code—by mastering a programming language [that] is rich in terms, one can give any instruction one wants.” With the BioNTech toolbox, the scientists can control how much protein is produced and for how long, the route of administration of the mRNA, which cells express the protein and if the mRNA creates a precise activation or suppression of the immune system.

Read more …

Does Biden really want to find out?

Former National Security Advisor: ‘I Think We Can’ Find Covid-19 Origin (Hill)

Former Deputy National Security Advisor Matthew Pottinger said that he believes it is possible to ascertain the origins of COVID-19 during a discussion of the Wuhan lab origin theory on Sunday. “I think there’s a lot that can be learned in 90 days,” Pottinger told “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd on NBC, referring to President Biden’s recent call for a 90-day report on the origins of COVID-19 from the U.S. intelligence community. “It’s conceivable that we’ll have an answer and even if we come up short with a definitive answer, what we’re gonna have is a foundation for additional revelations to come out from scientists around the world who are now going to be emboldened because they know that this is a priority of the United States,” Pottinger added.

Todd asked Pottinger if he believed a “definitive answer” about the origins of COVID-19 could be found even if the Chinese government is uncooperative. “I think we can. It might take more than 90 days, but look, … China has incredible and ethical scientists, many of whom in the early stages of the pandemic came out to say that they suspected that this was a lab leak,” Pottinger said. “So those people have been systematically silenced by their government,” he added, saying a U.S.-led global effort to find the origins of COVID-19 may embolden these scientists to come forward.

Read more …

With or from Covid?

Peru Surges To Highest Covid Death Toll Per Capita (Axios)

Peru officials revised the country’s COVID-19 death toll Monday from 69,342 to 180,764 after a review. The almost tripling of the number listed Sunday means the country has the worst pandemic death rate per capita, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Per Johns Hopkins, Hungary previously had the highest coronavirus death toll per capita —about 300 per 100,000 people. With its revised toll, Peru stands at over 500 COVID-19 deaths per 100,000 people. Officials said that the undercounting was partially down to “a lack of testing that made it difficult to confirm whether a person had died due to the virus or some other cause,” Reuters reports. Experts had long raised concerns that the official death toll had been undercounted, as hospitals packed out with coronavirus patients and oxygen ran short, the news agency notes.

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It will get dangerous once they claim enough people have bee jabbed. We’re not there yet.

EU Plans To Lift Covid Quarantine Rules For Vaccinated From 1 July (G.)

The starting pistol has been fired on a “relaxing” summer holiday season for people living in the EU from 1 July, as Brussels proposed lifting all quarantine obligations on those who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19. From Tuesday, a system will be ready to allow member states to issue a digital Covid passport to citizens proving their status and freeing them up to travel. With infection rates on a downward trajectory across the bloc, a deadline has been set for 1 July for all 27 EU countries to accept the documentation as sufficient proof of vaccination for restrictions to be lifted. A negative test or proof of having recovered from infection will confer the same rights on the holder of a certificate.

The European Commission has proposed a standard validity period for tests: 72 hours before travel for PCR tests and 48 hours for rapid antigen tests. The children of those who are fully vaccinated will also be exempt from quarantine under the proposal and as a minimum no one under six years of age will need to take a test. Many countries are likely to set a higher age threshold for the testing of minors. The intention is that fully vaccinated UK travellers will benefit from the Covid passport system but, in light of the emerging variant first identified in India, EU governments may still impose restrictions on people arriving from the UK including testing and quarantine obligations.

From Monday, entry to France has been limited to EU nationals, French residents, and those travelling for essential purposes. People arriving from the UK must have tested negative and quarantine for seven days. While a sudden deterioration in the Covid infection rates in the EU could lead to the use of an “emergency brake” on the lifting of restrictions within the bloc, the intention is to reintroduce free movement as the summer tourism season begins.

Read more …

“..the whole sorry episode looks like an act-of-war but carried out with America’s foolish willing collaboration..”

The Three Rivers of Angst (Kunstler)

Three rivers of angst flow out of Memorial Day 2021, and it is possible to imagine how they will meet later this year and join in a mighty flood of woe over the country. The first is the toxic stream of Wokery saturating just about every institution in the USA from the armed services, to the DOJ, to education both public and private, to organized sports, to the corporate C suites and, of course, to the transmission of current events in news and social media. Despite the torrents of mendacious narratives and fogs of gaslight deployed in this campaign, a substantial chunk of the public resists suffocation and has finally begun to fight back, especially at the grass roots local level against the dogma-driven school boards out to cancel Western Civ.

Expect this to ramp up as the spring semester closes out and the schools must set the terms for resuming classes in the fall. The kids themselves are bucking the mask mandates while the parents tangle with the more vexing problems of Woke racist curricula and insane sexual propaganda. It’s going to get ugly. Another stream of angst is the River of Covid-19. The tide has just turned on the question of where it came from, namely, the Wuhan Lab, but it’s hard to game-out both what we might do about that concerning the CCP’s role in it – plus, the roles of Dr. Fauci and our own National Institutes of Health – and whether the depraved administration of China Joe Biden can even acknowledge the facts. That is to say: the whole sorry episode looks like an act-of-war but carried out with America’s foolish willing collaboration.

But then a whole raft of really deadly additional questions overrides even the quandary of who’s responsible, and I refer to the future course of the disease itself, whether another wave comes back, what new variants might emerge, and the extremely spooky issue of what the long-term effects of the experimental vaccines might be. Since the news media is so untrustworthy, and these are such troubling threats, it will be very hard to locate the truth about the medical concerns.

Read more …

They’ll throw some big words at it, that’s it.

US Caught Spying On EU ‘Allies’ Again…What Is Europe Going To Do About It? (RT)

The espionage dynamic ultimately ties into the same mindset: The United States sees the European Union more as an economic competitor than as a friend and does not in any respect want it to get ahead of them or gain “advantage” in any specific area. The F-16 story above reveals how US intelligence in fact serves the interests of the military industrial complex, seeking out the secrets of Europe’s own defence industry and ensuring America always has the competitive edge, even to the point of making national intelligence agencies betray their own countries. As Edward Snowden stated in an interview in 2014, the US engages in constant industrial espionage against big German companies such as Siemens, stating: “If there’s information at Siemens that’s beneficial to US national interests – even if it doesn’t have anything to do with national security – then they’ll take that information nevertheless.”

In line with this, Angela Merkel, as a very Eurocentric leader who has a maverick approach to foreign policy and Germany’s place in the world, is unsurprisingly a frequent target of American intelligence activities. Washington is constantly wondering what she is thinking, intending and doing, not least regarding China and Russia where they do not see eye to eye. She is perhaps a “frenemy” to the US, a de facto ally and enemy simultaneously. But this all boils down to the big question as stated above, what is Europe going to do about it? Or can they do anything about it? The EU’s response to such unending controversies seems to be to make a small protest in the heat of the moment, but otherwise forget it and do nothing, passively tolerating American infiltration designed to undermine European interests and competitiveness across the board.

If Europe is serious about upholding its own “strategic clout” it has to be prepared to take bigger risks and stop being pressed into line under the obligation of “transatlaticism” and get tougher on the “American problem.” The bloc should take a leaf out of its rhetoric toward China and demand “reciprocity” in its relations with the United States, that it ceases espionage against them, seeks to curtail excessive “American influence” operations undermining their foreign policy and strategic independence and that it treats the continent as an equal and fair partner. Surely one would think ‘enough is enough’ but of course there is little reason to think anything will change. In a world where US surveillance is intrusive and rampant, America still surprisingly gets away with accusing everyone else of “spying.”

Read more …

By now, Russia is well prepared.

Russia May Be Cut Off From SWIFT Banking Payment System (RT)

Russian banks may be blocked from using SWIFT, a payment system that enables reliable and secure financial transactions, as part of restrictions against Moscow, in what one official has called a potential “spiral of sanctions.” “It’s no secret that there are threats, primarily from the United States, to disconnect Russia from the SWIFT system,” said Dmitry Birichevsky, director of the Economic Cooperation Department of the Russian Foreign Ministry. Speaking on RIA Novosti on Monday, the diplomat noted that Russia has concerns that SWIFT could get caught up in a “spiral of sanctions,” led by Washington. However, the senior official doesn’t think America will act on this threat any time soon.

“I’m actually confident that we won’t be disconnected from SWIFT anytime soon, and maybe never,” he said, noting that Russia would be able to come to payment agreements with their trading partners anyway. “Since 2014, Russia has been working on its own payment system. This system already exists,” he explained. “We all use the MIR card. It is also accepted in a number of neighboring countries and in Turkey. Negotiations are also underway with other partners.” Last month, politicians from the European Parliament voted in favor of a resolution to condemn what they called Russia’s “military posturing close to the country’s border with Ukraine.” The MEPs agreed that, “should military build-up lead to an invasion,” Moscow should be excluded from SWIFT, along with other economic measures.

Proposals to cut Moscow off from the world’s leading international payment system are not new. After seven years of threats, Russia is now in a position where losing access to SWIFT would no longer be a disastrous blow. The country has created its own alternative, called SPFS, which works domestically, and Moscow is looking to expand the system internationally.

Read more …


EU Set To Unveil Plans For Bloc-Wide Digital Wallet (R.)

The European Union (EU) is set to unveil plans for a bloc-wide digital wallet on Wednesday, following requests from member states to find a safe way for citizens to access public and private services online, the Financial Times reported. The app will allow citizens across the EU to securely access a range of private and public services with a single online ID, according to the FT report on Tuesday. The digital wallet will securely store payment details and passwords and allow citizens from all 27 countries to log onto local government websites or pay utility bills using a single recognized identity, the newspaper said, citing people with direct knowledge of the plans.

The EU-wide app can be accessed via fingerprint or retina scanning among other methods, and will also serve as a vault where users can store official documents like the driver’s licence, the newspaper reported. EU officials will enforce a structural separation to prevent companies that access user data from using the wallet for any other commercial activity such as marketing new products. Brussels is engaged in talks with member states to provide guidelines on technical standards for rollout of the digital wallet, which is expected to be fully operational in about a year, according to the newspaper.

Read more …

Cash is freedom.

Just 7% of UK Shop Payments Predicted To Be In Cash By 2024 (G.)

Just 7% of in-store purchases in the UK could be made in cash by 2024, a report has forecast, after the coronavirus pandemic fuelled the switch to cards and mobile payments. While cash accounted for 27% of in-store transactions in 2019, the latest global payments report from processing company Worldpay found that had fallen to 13% last year. The report predicts usage will continue to drop over the next three years. International figures showed that in several other countries, including Sweden, Canada and Australia, already less than one in 10 shop payments are made in cash. It predicted Sweden would be “almost cashless” by 2024, with 0.4% of transactions paid for with money, down from 15.2% in 2019 and 8.8% last year.

Consumers and businesses were already moving away from cash payments before the pandemic hit, but early concerns that Covid-19 could spread via surfaces led some companies to switch to contactless methods. The increase in the contactless limit on cards, and mobile payment services with no cap on spending have accelerated the switch away from cash. Worldpay said that by 2024 it expected mobile to make up a third of payments. Pete Wickes of Worldpay said: “This research shows the speed and scale of the transformation in consumer behaviour in just 12 months. “The decline in the use of cash in the UK has accelerated, and while this opens up new opportunities for businesses to optimise and drive efficiencies, we need to be mindful that important parts of the economy continue to rely on cash, such as charity donations and restaurant tip jars, while there are many in society who remain underbanked.”

Read more …


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Aug 272017
 August 27, 2017  Posted by at 12:27 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  9 Responses »

Henri Cartier-Bresson Trafalgar Square on the Day of the Coronation of George VI 1937


The Jackson Hole gathering of central bankers and other economics big shots is on again. They all still like themselves very much. Apart from a pesky inflation problem that none of them can get a grip on, they publicly maintain that they’re doing great, and they’re saving the planet (doing God’s work is already taken).

But the inflation problem lies in the fact that they don’t know what inflation is, and they’re just as knowledgeable when it comes to all other issues. They get sent tons of numbers and stats, and then compare these to their economic models. They don’t understand economics, and they’re not interested in trying to understand it. All they want is for the numbers to fit the models, and if they don’t, get different numbers.

Meanwhile they continue to make the most outrageous claims. Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said in early July that “We have fixed the issues that caused the last crisis.” What do you say to that? Do you take him on a tour of Britain? Or do you just let him rot?

Fed head Janet Yellen a few days earlier had proclaimed that “[US] Banks are ‘very much stronger’, and another financial crisis is not likely ‘in our lifetime’. “ While we wish her a long and healthy life for many years to come, we must realize that we have to pick one: it has to be either a long life, or no crisis in her lifetime.

Just a few days ago, ECB President Mario Draghi somehow managed to squeeze through his windpipe that “QE has made economies more resilient”. Even though everybody -well, everybody who’s not in Jackson Hole- knows that QE has blown huge bubbles in lots of asset classes and caused severe damage to savings and pensions, problems that will reverberate through economies for a long time and rip entire societies apart.

But they really seem to believe what they say, all of them. Which is perhaps the biggest problem of all. That is, either they know better and lie straight-faced or they are blind to what they’re doing. Which might be caused by the fact that they are completely blind to what goes on in their countries and societies, and focus exclusively on banking systems. But that’s not where financial crises reside, or at least not only there.

How do we know? Easy. Try this on for size.

78% of Americans Live Paycheck To Paycheck

No matter how much you earn, getting by is still a struggle for most people these days. 78% of full-time workers said they live paycheck to paycheck, up from 75% last year, according to a recent report from CareerBuilder. Overall, 71% of all U.S. workers said they’re now in debt, up from 68% a year ago, CareerBuilder said. While 46% said their debt is manageable, 56% said they were in over their heads. About 56% also save $100 or less each month, according to CareerBuilder.

Haven’t seen anything as ironic in a long time as having a company called CareerBuilder report on this. But more importantly, when almost 4 out of 5 people live paycheck to paycheck, that is a financial crisis right there. Just perhaps not according to the models popular in Jackson Hole. What do they know about that kind of life, anyway? So why would they care to model it?

Yellen’s Fed proudly report almost full employment -even if they felt forced to abandon their own models of it. But what does full employment constitute, what does it mean, when all those jobs don’t allow for people to live without fear of the next repair bill, the next hospital visit, their children’s education?

What does it mean when banks are profitable again and pay out huge bonuses while at the same time millions work two jobs and still can’t make ends meet? How is that not a -financial- crisis? In the economists’ models, all those jobs must lead to scarcity in the labor market, and thus rising wages. And then inflation, by which they mean rising prices. But the models fail, time and time again.

Moreover, talking about inflation without consumer spending, i.e. velocity of money, is empty rhetoric. 78% of Americans will not be able to raise their spending levels, they’re already maxed out at the end of each week, and 71% have debts on top of that. So where will the inflation, rising wages, etc., come from? When nobody has money to spend? Nobody can put that Humpty Dumpty together again.

An actual -as opposed to theoretical- recovery of wages and inflation will certainly not come from QE for banks, that much should be clear after a decade. And that is exactly where the problem is. That is why so many people work such shitty jobs. The banks may be more resilient (and that comes with a big question mark), but it has come at the cost of the economies. And no, banks are not the same as economies. Moreover, ‘saving’ the banks through asset purchases and ultra low rates has made ‘real economies’ much more prone to the next downturn.

The asset purchases serve to keep zombie firms -including banks- alive, which will come back to haunt economies -and central banks- when things start falling. The ultra low rates have driven individuals and institutions into ‘investments’ for which there has been no price discovery for a decade or more. Homes, stocks, you name it. Everyone and their pet hamster overborrowed and overpaid thanks to Bernanke, Yellen and Draghi, and their ‘policies’.

QE for banks didn’t just not work as advertized, it has dug a mile deep hole in real economies. No economy can properly function unless most people can afford to spend money. It’s lifeblood. QE for banks is not, if anything it’s the opposite.


Another -joined at the hip- example of what’s really happening in -and to- America, long term and deep down, and which will not be a discussion topic in Jackson Hole, is the following from the Atlantic on marriage in America. And I can hear the disagreements coming already, but bear with me.

Both the above 78% paycheck to paycheck number and the Atlantic piece on marriage make me think back of Joe Bageant. Because that is the world he came from and returned to, and described in Deer Hunting with Jesus: Dispatches from America’s Class War. The Appalachians. I don’t believe for a moment that Joe, if he were still with us, would have been one bit surprised about Trump. And reading this stuff, neither should you.

This is not something that is new, or that can be easily turned around anymore. This is the proverbial oceanliner which requires a huge distance to change course. Victor Tan Chen’s piece is a worthwhile read; here are a few bits:

America, Home of the Transactional Marriage

Over the last several decades, the proportion of Americans who get married has greatly diminished—a development known as well to those who lament marriage’s decline as those who take issue with it as an institution. But a development that’s much newer is that the demographic now leading the shift away from tradition is Americans without college degrees—who just a few decades ago were much more likely to be married by the age of 30 than college graduates were.

Today, though, just over half of women in their early 40s with a high-school degree or less education are married, compared to three-quarters of women with a bachelor’s degree; in the 1970s, there was barely a difference. [..] Fewer than one in 10 mothers with a bachelor’s degree are unmarried at the time of their child’s birth, compared to six out of 10 mothers with a high-school degree.

The share of such births has risen dramatically in recent decades among less educated mothers, even as it has barely budged for those who finished college. (There are noticeable differences between races, but among those with less education, out-of-wedlock births have become much more common among white and nonwhite people alike.)

And then you make education so expensive it’s out of reach for a growing number of people… Insult and injury.

Plummeting rates of marriage and rising rates of out-of-wedlock births among the less educated have been linked to growing levels of income inequality. [..] Why are those with less education—the working class—entering into, and staying in, traditional family arrangements in smaller and smaller numbers? Some tend to stress that the cultural values of the less educated have changed, and there is some truth to that.

But what’s at the core of those changes is a larger shift: The disappearance of good jobs for people with less education has made it harder for them to start, and sustain, relationships. What’s more, the U.S.’s relatively meager safety net makes the cost of being unemployed even steeper than it is in other industrialized countries—which prompts many Americans to view the decision to stay married with a jobless partner in more transactional, economic terms.

And this isn’t only because of the financial ramifications of losing a job, but, in a country that puts such a premium on individual achievement, the emotional and psychological consequences as well. Even when it comes to private matters of love and lifestyle, the broader social structure—the state of the economy, the availability of good jobs, and so on—matters a great deal.

This is the erosion of social cohesion. And there is nothing there to fill that void.

Earlier this year, the economists David Autor, David Dorn, and Gordon Hanson analyzed labor markets during the 1990s and 2000s—a period when America’s manufacturing sector was losing jobs, as companies steadily moved production overseas or automated it with computers and robots. Because the manufacturing sector has historically paid high wages to people with little education, the disappearance of these sorts of jobs has been devastating to working-class families, especially the men among them, who still outnumber women on assembly lines.

Autor, Dorn, and Hanson found that in places where the number of factory jobs shrank, women were less likely to get married. They also tended to have fewer children, though the share of children born to unmarried parents, and living in poverty, grew. What was producing these trends, the researchers argue, was the rising number of men who could no longer provide in the ways they once did, making them less attractive as partners.

The perks of globalization. Opioids, anyone?

[..] In doing research for a book about workers’ experiences of being unemployed for long periods, I saw how people who once had good jobs became, over time, “unmarriageable.” I talked to many people without jobs, men in particular, who said that dating, much less marrying or moving in with someone, was no longer a viable option: Who would take a chance on them if they couldn’t provide anything?

It’s not only Joe Bageant. These are also the people Bruce Springsteen talked about when he was still the Boss.

[..] The theory that a lack of job opportunities makes marriageable men harder to find was first posed by the sociologist William Julius Wilson in regard to a specific population: poor, city-dwelling African Americans. [..] In later decades of the last century, rates of crime, joblessness, poverty, and single parenthood soared in cities across the country.

[..] In a 1987 book, Wilson put forward a compelling alternative explanation: Low-income black men were not marrying because they could no longer find good jobs. Manufacturers had fled cities, taking with them the jobs that workers with less in the way of education—disproportionately, in this case, African Americans—had relied on to support their families. The result was predictable. When work disappeared, people coped as best they could, but many families and communities frayed.

By now it’s all Springsteen, Darkness on the Edge of Town. That album is some 40 years old. That’s -at least- how long this has been going on. And why it’ll be so hard to correct.

Decades later, the same storyline is playing out across the country, in both white and nonwhite communities, the research of Autor, Dorn, and Hanson (as well as others) suggests. The factory jobs that retreated from American cities, moving to suburbs and then the even lower-cost South, have now left the country altogether or been automated away.

[..] “The kinds of jobs a man could hold for a career have diminished,” the sociologists wrote, “and more of the remaining jobs have a temporary ‘stopgap’ character—casual, short-term, and not part of a career strategy.” The result: As many men’s jobs have disappeared or worsened in quality, women see those men as a riskier investment.

This next bit is painful: life ain’t gonna get any better, so we might as well have kids.

At the same time, they are not necessarily postponing when they have kids. As the sociologists Kathryn Edin and Maria Kefalas have found in interviews with low-income mothers, many see having children as an essential part of life, and one that they aren’t willing to put off until they’re older, when the probability of complications in pregnancy can increase.

For mothers-to-be from more financially stable backgrounds, the calculation is different: They often wait longer to have children, since their career prospects and earnings are likely to improve during the period when they might otherwise have been raising a child. For less-educated women, such an improvement is much rarer.

Tan Chen follows up with a comparison of European and American safety nets, and suggests that “It’s not a matter of destiny, but policy”, but I don’t find that too relevant to why I found his piece so touching.

It describes a dying society. America is slowly dying, and not all that slowly for that matter. The Fed is comfortably holed up in Jackson Hole after having handed out trillions to bankers and lured millions of Americans into buying -or increasingly renting- properties that have become grossly overpriced due to its ZIRP policies, and congratulating itself on achieving “full employment”.

Why that ever became part of its mandate, g-d knows. I know, ML King et al. But. Thing is, when full employment means 78% of people have such a hard time making ends meet that they can’t afford to keep each other in a job by spending their money in stores etc., you’re effectively looking at a dying economy. Maybe we should not call it ‘full’, but ’empty employment’ instead.

Yeah, I know, trickle down. But instead of wealth miraculously trickling down, it’s debt that miraculously trickles up. How many Americans have mortgages or rents to pay every month that gobble up 40-50% or more from their incomes? That’d be a useful stat. Model that, Janet!

The article on marriage makes clear that by now this is no longer about money. The 40+ year crisis has ‘transcended’ all that. If and when money becomes too scarce, it starts to erode quality of life, first in individuals and then also in societies. It erodes the fabric of society. And you don’t simply replace that once it’s gone, not even if there were a real economic recovery.

But there will be no such recovery. As bad as things are for Americans today, they will get a whole lot worse. That is an inevitable consequence of the market distortion that QE has wrought: a gigantic financial crisis is coming. And the crowd gathered at Jackson Hole will be calling the shots once more, and bail out banks, not people. What’s that definition of insanity again?