Apr 252021
 
 April 25, 2021  Posted by at 8:40 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  35 Responses »


Sophia Loren seated by the Parthenon on the Athenian Acropolis during filming for ‘Boy on a Dolphin’, 1957

 

To Friends in the US: Facilitate Global Vaccine Manufacturing (CarnegieIndia)
US Defends Restrictions On Export Of Covid-19 Vaccine Raw Materials (Hindu)
The 2006 Origins of the Lockdown Idea (AIER)
Covid-19 Indoors Infection Risk As Great At 60 Feet As At 6 Feet – MIT (CNBC)
Biden Recognizes Armenian Genocide (Pol.)
Putin Rewrites The Law Of The Geopolitical Jungle (Escobar)
Collective West Is Living In Grim Fantasy Land – Zakharova (RT)
Russian Embassy Trolls Baltic States Over Expulsion Of Diplomats (RT)
Ukraine Says Russian Troop Draw Down Is “Not Enough” (ZH)
Is America Led Today By Anti-Americans? (Buchanan)
Fmr Police Officer Blasts Dems For “Riding The Wave Of Dead Black People” (ZH)
Nassim Taleb Says Bitcoin Is An Open Ponzi Scheme And A Failed Currency (BI)

 

 

Biden’s proposal for top marginal income rate is 39.6%. Here’s what it was in the past:
Now: 37%
2017: 39.6%
1993-2000: 39.6%
1982-1986: 50%
1981: 69.3%
1971-1980: 70%
1954-1963: 91%

 

 

This is doing so much damage to the US. It will reverberate long and deep, and not just in India.

To Friends in the US: Facilitate Global Vaccine Manufacturing (CarnegieIndia)

The current public health crisis in India is devastating. On April 22, 2021, India recorded over 330,000 COVID-19 cases and 2,000 fatalities. It is unlikely that the second wave of the pandemic will level out anytime soon. The desperate need for oxygen, medical supplies, and hospital beds has overwhelmed public and private health facilities. Clearly, the state machinery will need to be mobilized in this war against the fast-spreading disease that appears to mutate in different ways and forms at a shattering speed. To arrest this crisis, there is an equally urgent need to accelerate India’s vaccine drive. India, as is well known, is one of the world’s largest producers of COVID-19 vaccines. “Made-in-India” vaccines have been delivered—by way of aid and under commercial contract—to ninety-five countries across the globe.

From Argentina to Bangladesh and El Salvador to Sierra Leone, India has distributed 66.2 million vaccines to date. However, India is currently facing an acute vaccine shortage at home. On April 19, the Indian government announced that Indians above the age of eighteen will be eligible to get their shots. Making sure that the tens of millions of Indians are able to access vaccines is the only way in which a country as geographically challenging as India will be able to turn the tables on this fast-moving disease. Yet, without the support of Joe Biden’s administration in Washington, this ambition—of delivering vaccines across India—is at risk of remaining just that, an ambition. In April 2020, then U.S. president Donald Trump invoked the Defense Production Act (DPA), a law that grants the U.S. president significant emergency authority to direct domestic industries.

As Trump made clear, the order was meant to “save lives by removing obstacles in the supply chain that threaten the rapid production of ventilators.” In February 2021, Biden announced a set of plans to hasten inoculations. In March 2021, Biden vowed that vaccines will be available for “every adult in America by the end of May.” On the first two working days of the Biden administration, on January 20 and 21, 2021, the president signed Executive Orders 13987 and 14001. The aim of these measures was to ensure “a sustainable public health supply chain.” In effect, this meant that manufacturers in the United States, and those registered in the United States but based in Europe and other parts of the world, needed to prioritize supplies for the domestic market within the United States.

Given the globally connected nature of supply chains, Biden’s vow has had other anticipated effects. It means that products like bags and filters, cell culture medias, single-use tubing assemblies, and other raw materials crucial for the production of vaccines in other parts of the world, and especially in India, may face imminent supply constraints. In practice, this has meant that the largest vaccine manufacturer in the world—the Serum Institute of India—is today hamstrung in its efforts to produce vaccines for both the Indian and global markets. It is crucial to keep in mind that without these ingredients, it is increasingly unlikely that the Serum Institute will be able to prioritize vaccine production under contract—through global vaccine alliances such as Gavi—for countries across the world.


IMHE – Estimated peak 14.1 million infections per day.

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And then the Biden admin is tonedeaf and colorblind enough to try and justify it.

US Defends Restrictions On Export Of Covid-19 Vaccine Raw Materials (Hindu)

Defending U.S.’ restrictions on the export of key raw materials for the manufacture of COVID-19 vaccine that threatens to slow India’s vaccination drive, a senior State Department official has said the Biden administration’s first obligation is to take care of the requirements of the American people. When asked when the Biden administration would decide on India’s request to lift a ban on the export of vaccine raw materials, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said: “…the United States first and foremost is engaged in an ambitious and effective and, so far, successful effort to vaccinate the American people.” “That campaign is well underway, and we’re doing that for a couple of reasons. Number one, we have a special responsibility to the American people.

Number two, the American people, this country has been hit harder than any other country around the world – more than 550,000 deaths, tens of millions of infections in this country alone,” he said on Thursday. It is not only in the U.S. interest to see Americans vaccinated; but it is in the interests of the rest of the world to see Americans vaccinated, he said. “The point the Secretary (of State Antony Blinken) has made repeatedly is that as long as the virus is spreading anywhere, it is a threat to people everywhere. So as long as the virus is spreading uncontrolled in this country, it can mutate and it can travel beyond our borders. That, in turn, poses a threat well beyond the United States,” Mr. Price said in responses to questions.

As for the rest of the world, “We will, of course, always do as much as we can, consistent with our first obligation,” he said. India is currently facing a horrible surge in coronavirus infections. The country on Friday added a record over 3.32 lakh new coronavirus cases in a single day taking the country’s tally to 1,62,63,695, while active cases crossed the 24-lakh mark. The Biden administration recently conveyed to New Delhi that it understands India’s pharmaceutical requirements and promised to give the matter due consideration. It observed that the current difficulty in the export of critical raw materials needed to manufacture COVID-19 vaccines is mainly due to an Act that forces American companies to prioritise domestic consumption.

President Joe Biden and his predecessor Donald Trump had invoked the war-time Defence Production Act (DPA) that leaves U.S. companies with no option but to give priority to the production of COVID-19 vaccines and Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) for domestic production to combat the deadly pandemic in America, the worst-hit nation. The U.S. has ramped up the production of COVID-19 vaccines mostly by Pfizer and Moderna to meet the goal of vaccinating its entire population by July 4. The suppliers of its raw materials, which is in high demand globally and sought after by major Indian manufacturers, are being forced to provide it only for domestic manufacturers in the U.S. The Serum Institute of India is the world’s largest producer of the COVID-19 vaccine.

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From May 2020. We have a 14 year old girl’s high school “science” project to thank for the lockdowns.

The 2006 Origins of the Lockdown Idea (AIER)

How that idea — born out of a request by President George W. Bush to ensure the nation was better prepared for the next contagious disease outbreak — became the heart of the national playbook for responding to a pandemic is one of the untold stories of the coronavirus crisis. It required the key proponents — Dr. Mecher, a Department of Veterans Affairs physician, and Dr. Hatchett, an oncologist turned White House adviser — to overcome intense initial opposition. It brought their work together with that of a Defense Department team assigned to a similar task. And it had some unexpected detours, including a deep dive into the history of the 1918 Spanish flu and an important discovery kicked off by a high school research project pursued by the daughter of a scientist at the Sandia National Laboratories.

The concept of social distancing is now intimately familiar to almost everyone. But as it first made its way through the federal bureaucracy in 2006 and 2007, it was viewed as impractical, unnecessary and politically infeasible. Notice that in the course of this planning, neither legal nor economic experts were brought in to consult and advise. Instead it fell to Mecher (formerly of Chicago and an intensive care doctor with no previous expertise in pandemics) and the oncologist Hatchett. But what is this mention of the high-school daughter of 14? Her name is Laura M. Glass, and she recently declined to be interviewed when the Albuquerque Journal did a deep dive of this history. Laura, with some guidance from her dad, devised a computer simulation that showed how people – family members, co-workers, students in schools, people in social situations – interact.

What she discovered was that school kids come in contact with about 140 people a day, more than any other group. Based on that finding, her program showed that in a hypothetical town of 10,000 people, 5,000 would be infected during a pandemic if no measures were taken, but only 500 would be infected if the schools were closed. Laura’s name appears on the foundational paper arguing for lockdowns and forced human separation. That paper is Targeted Social Distancing Designs for Pandemic Influenza (2006). It set out a model for forced separation and applied it with good results backwards in time to 1957. They conclude with a chilling call for what amounts to a totalitarian lockdown, all stated very matter-of-factly.

[..] In other words, it was a high-school science experiment that eventually became law of the land, and through a circuitous route propelled not by science but politics. The primary author of this paper was Robert J. Glass, a complex-systems analyst with Sandia National Laboratories. He had no medical training, much less an expertise in immunology or epidemiology. That explains why Dr. D.A. Henderson, “who had been the leader of the international effort to eradicate smallpox,” completely rejected the whole scheme. Dr. Henderson was convinced that it made no sense to force schools to close or public gatherings to stop. Teenagers would escape their homes to hang out at the mall. School lunch programs would close, and impoverished children would not have enough to eat. Hospital staffs would have a hard time going to work if their children were at home.

The measures embraced by Drs. Mecher and Hatchett would “result in significant disruption of the social functioning of communities and result in possibly serious economic problems,” Dr. Henderson wrote in his own academic paper responding to their ideas. The answer, he insisted, was to tough it out: Let the pandemic spread, treat people who get sick and work quickly to develop a vaccine to prevent it from coming back.

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Wonder what the response to this will be from the “science” religion.

Covid-19 Indoors Infection Risk As Great At 60 Feet As At 6 Feet – MIT (CNBC)

The risk of being exposed to Covid-19 indoors is as great at 60 feet as it is at 6 feet — even when wearing a mask, according to a new study by Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers who challenge social distancing guidelines adopted across the world. MIT professors Martin Z. Bazant, who teaches chemical engineering and applied mathematics, and John W.M. Bush, who teaches applied mathematics, developed a method of calculating exposure risk to Covid-19 in an indoor setting that factors in a variety of issues that could affect transmission, including the amount of time spent inside, air filtration and circulation, immunization, variant strains, mask use, and even respiratory activity such as breathing, eating, speaking or singing.

Bazant and Bush question long-held Covid-19 guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization in a peer-reviewed study published earlier this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the United States of America. “We argue there really isn’t much of a benefit to the 6-foot rule, especially when people are wearing masks,” Bazant said in an interview. “It really has no physical basis because the air a person is breathing while wearing a mask tends to rise and comes down elsewhere in the room so you’re more exposed to the average background than you are to a person at a distance.” The important variable the CDC and the WHO have overlooked is the amount of time spent indoors, Bazant said.

The longer someone is inside with an infected person, the greater the chance of transmission, he said. Opening windows or installing new fans to keep the air moving could also be just as effective or more effective than spending large amounts of money on a new filtration system, he said. Bazant also says that guidelines enforcing indoor occupancy caps are flawed. He said 20 people gathered inside for 1 minute is probably fine, but not over the course of several hours, he said.

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Biden was in the Senate since 1972. Please point out where and when he spoke out about the Armenian genocide during that whole time.

Biden Recognizes Armenian Genocide (Pol.)

President Joe Biden on Saturday recognized the Armenian genocide, fulfilling a campaign promise and taking a step that his recent predecessors have avoided while in office. Biden’s designation, which coincided with Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day, signals the president’s desire to prioritize human rights despite potential fallout in the U.S. relationship with Turkey. It comes 106 years after the beginning of the mass deportation of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire, which led to the deaths of up to 1.5 million people. “The American people honor all those Armenians who perished in the genocide,” Biden said in a statement Saturday.

“Over the decades Armenian immigrants have enriched the United States in countless ways, but they have never forgotten the tragic history that brought so many of their ancestors to our shores. We honor their story. We see that pain. We affirm the history. We do this not to cast blame but to ensure that what happened is never repeated.” Over decades, lawmakers in Congress have been willing to recognize the genocide but sitting presidents historically have not. In a statement to mark the day of remembrance last year, Biden said he was “proud” of his role in the Senate to recognize the Armenian genocide and his endorsement of 2019 resolutions in both chambers of Congress that did the same.

The United States is now part of a group of 30 countries that have recognized the Armenian genocide, according to the Armenian National Institute. Although Turkey acknowledges the “tragic experience” of Armenians, it maintains the number of those who died between 1915 and 1923 is inflated and denies the characterization of the events as genocide. Turkey’s foreign ministry quickly denounced Biden’s statement Saturday, saying it doesn’t have “a scholarly or legal basis.” “The US President’s statement will not yield any results other than polarizing the nations and hindering peace and stability in our region,” the country’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

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“Putin remarked how to “attack Russia” has become “a sport, a new sport, who makes the loudest statements.”

Putin Rewrites The Law Of The Geopolitical Jungle (Escobar)

First, the essentials. Russia’s policy “is to ensure peace and security for the well-being of our citizens and for the stable development of our country.” Yet if “someone does not want to…engage in dialogue, but chooses an egoistic and arrogant tone, Russia will always find a way to stand up for its position.” He singled out “the practice of politically motivated, illegal economic sanctions” to connect it to “something much more dangerous”, and actually rendered invisible in the Western narrative: “the recent attempt to organize a coup d’etat in Belarus and the assassination of that country’s president.” Putin made sure to stress, “all boundaries have been crossed”. The plot to kill Lukashenko was unveiled by Russian and Belarusian intel – which detained several actors backed, who else, US intel. The US State Department predictably denied any involvement.

Putin: “It is worth pointing to the confessions of the detained participants in the conspiracy that a blockade of Minsk was being prepared, including its city infrastructure and communications, the complete shutdown of the entire power grid of the Belarusian capital. This, incidentally means preparations for a massive cyber-attack.” And that leads to a very uncomfortable truth: “Apparently, it’s not for no reason that our Western colleagues have stubbornly rejected numerous proposals by the Russian side to establish an international dialogue in the field of information and cyber-security.” Putin remarked how to “attack Russia” has become “a sport, a new sport, who makes the loudest statements.” And then he went full Kipling:

“Russia is attacked here and there for no reason. And of course, all sorts of petty Tabaquis [jackals] are running around like Tabaqui ran around Shere Khan [the tiger] – everything is like in Kipling’s book – howling along and ready to serve their sovereign. Kipling was a great writer”. The – layered – metaphor is even more startling as it echoes the late 19th century geopolitical Great Game between the British and Russian empires, of which Kipling was a protagonist. Once again Putin had to stress that “we really don’t want to burn any bridges. But if someone perceives our good intentions as indifference or weakness and intends to burn those bridges completely or even blow them up, he should know that Russia’s response will be asymmetric, swift and harsh”.

So here’s the new law of the geopolitical jungle – backed by Mr. Iskander, Mr. Kalibr, Mr. Avangard, Mr. Peresvet, Mr. Khinzal, Mr. Sarmat, Mr. Zircon and other well-respected gentlemen, hypersonic and otherwise, later complimented on the record. Those who poke the Bear to the point of threatening “the fundamental interests of our security will regret what has been done, as they have regretted nothing for a very long time.”

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“And it turns out that leaders who call themselves leaders of the world aren’t really leaders. They are just chest-puffers.”

Collective West Is Living In Grim Fantasy Land – Zakharova (RT)

Western countries are living in a grim “fantasy land” they’ve created through years of anti-Russian propaganda, the outspoken Maria Zakharova told RT DE, with any initiative by Moscow – even on Covid-19 – becoming politicised. Such behavior on the West’s part is hardly surprising, the Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman explained to Thomas Fasbender in an exclusive interview, given the efforts that Western counties have put into painting Moscow as an “aggressor” over the years. The consistently cold relations between the West and Russia have been heightened by a series of major scandals recently, she outlined, despite these being based on imaginary grounds.

For instance, military drills in Russia’s southeast have prompted hysteria in multiple NATO countries and a fresh wave of doomsday predictions regarding an impending war between Russia and Ukraine – which, again, did not happen. “It seems to me that our Western partners have let their imaginations run wild. They seem to be seeing things when there’s nothing there, and not seeing the obvious. It’s an amazing thing, really, to be able to live in fantasy land,” she said. If you spend years communicating an idea to your own people and to the world at large, using mass media, issuing reports and making alarmist publications that depict Russia as a warmonger nation that’s about to strike – then, sure, even run-of-the-mill military drills would get people scared out of their senses.

The years-long Western campaign to paint Russia as an “aggressor” state has also affected the global response to the coronavirus pandemic, Zakharova believes. Instead of cooperating with Russia and buying its Covid-19 Sputnik V vaccine, the first in the world to be registered, too much effort has been put into trying to deny its very existence and otherwise tarnish its reputation. “There was a major campaign against our vaccine, against what we had to offer the world. We handled it. Unfortunately, many countries, including EU states, wasted time,” Zakharova said. “Many states received this vaccine, some on a trial basis. Many of them began to buy it right away. Unfortunately, the EU is punishing itself again, just as Prague did with our diplomats.”

The ongoing coronavirus crisis has “highlighted massive problems in the EU and the West as a whole,” as they had all the resources to lead the global fight against the disease, but failed to do so. “And it turns out that leaders who call themselves leaders of the world aren’t really leaders. They are just chest-puffers.” A similar lack of ability to act as an independent entity has been demonstrated during another ongoing scandal – the spy affair launched by Prague. The Czech Republic has accused Russian military intelligence of blowing up its ammunition depot back in 2014. While no solid proof of Russia’s alleged involvement has been presented, Prague launched a diplomatic broadside, opting to expel Russian diplomats.

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“There’s no definition of “smalldipenergy” in the dictionary, but it is most likely derived from “small diplomatic energy.”

Russian Embassy Trolls Baltic States Over Expulsion Of Diplomats (RT)

Russia’s embassy in Belarus has asked Twitter users to choose between two hashtags to describe the three Baltic nations expelling up to two Russian diplomats in “solidarity” with the Czechs. Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania issued a joined statement on Friday, announcing that they will ask several Russian embassy staff to leave their countries in a display of solidarity with the Czech Republic. Riga and Tallinn said they’ll expel one diplomat each, while Vilnius declared two Russians personae non gratae. The move was met with a mocking response by the Russian embassy in Belarus – the country that borders Latvia, Lithuania and Russia. “#smalldipenergy or #smalldickenergy — the choice is yours,” the embassy wrote in a tweet, attaching an earlier Twitter post by Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis.

In a post announcing the joint move by the Baltic nations, Landsbergis claimed that the Russian embassy staff were being expelled for “activities incompatible with their diplomatic status.” The phrase “smalldickenergy” is explained in the Urban Dictionary as “cockiness without skill. It is the sexual equivalent of writing a check of $10k to show off knowing you don’t have it in the bank account.” There’s no definition of “smalldipenergy” in the dictionary, but it is most likely derived from “small diplomatic energy.” The move, with which the Russian embassy in Belarus was left unimpressed, is a follow-up to a diplomatic row between Moscow and Prague. A week ago, the Czech Republic announced the expulsion of 18 Russian diplomats over claims that Kremlin intelligence officers were involved in a local munitions depot blast back in 2014.

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You lost. Shut up.

Ukraine Says Russian Troop Draw Down Is “Not Enough” (ZH)

Not satisfied with Russia’s confirmed troop draw down from its southern region which has stoked tensions over the past few weeks, leaders in Kiev on Friday demanded that more must be done to de-escalate tensions and conflict in Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba “welcomed” the Kremlin’s ordering troops that had been engaged in major Crimean and Black Sea military exercises back to the regular bases, but said the violence in the east has continued. Kiev blames Russia for encouraging and supporting an uptick in hostilities with the pro-Russian separatists, which have sought to carve out independent enclaves going back to 2014 and 2015. “If Russia really pulls back from the border with Ukraine the enormous military force it has deployed there, this will already ease tensions.


“But we need to remember that this step would not put an end neither to the current escalation, nor to the conflict between Ukraine and Russia in general,” Kuleba said. The top Ukrainian diplomat also says Moscow still owes “an explanation” for its largest troop build-up on the border since 2014. “Russia still owes an explanation to Ukraine… and international community of why it really needed to bring such numerous forces equipped with some offensive weapons at the border with Ukraine in such excessive number of troops,” he said. In a Thursday statement posted to Twitter, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky appeared to confirm that the Russian draw down was indeed in progress. “The reduction of troops on our border proportionally reduces tension. Ukraine is always vigilant, yet welcomes any steps to decrease the military presence & deescalate the situation in Donbas,” he wrote.

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“Implication: Floyd died to redeem America of her original sin of racism.”

Is America Led Today By Anti-Americans? (Buchanan)

How can America unite again to do great things if we are led by people who believe America suffers from a great sickness of the soul, an original sin that dates back to her birth as a nation? Consider. After his long night of prayer for “the right verdict” to be pronounced — Derek Chauvin was convicted on all three counts — Joe Biden stepped before the White House cameras to tell us what it all meant. George Floyd’s death, said Biden, “was a murder in the full light of day, and it ripped the blinders off for the whole world to see the systemic racism… that is a stain on our nation’s soul — the knee on the neck of justice for Black Americans.” Astonishing. Biden is saying that when Chauvin knelt on the neck of George Floyd for nine minutes as the life drained out of him, the world, for once, was getting a good, close look at the diseased soul of America.

What Chauvin was doing to Floyd, said the president of the United States, is a reflection of the kind of justice America delivers to Black Americans. This is no aberration, Biden was saying. This is the routine reality. Biden was introduced by Kamala Harris, who said much the same: “America has a long history of systemic racism. Black Americans and Black men in particular have been treated throughout the course of our history as less than human.” At Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield delivered what The Wall Street Journal called, “a recitation of America’s sins (that) could have come from China’s Global Times.” Said Thomas-Greenfield: “I have… seen for myself how the original sin of slavery weaved white supremacy into our founding documents and principles. … Racism is the problem of the racist. And it is the problem of the society that produces the racist.”

What our diplomat to the world is saying is that our Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights are interwoven with white supremacy and that America, to this day, continues to breed racists. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, at a Congressional Black Caucus event after the verdict, turned her eyes heavenward in gratitude: “Thank you, George Floyd, for sacrificing your life for justice….For being there to call out to your mom — how heartbreaking was that … And because of you … your name will always be synonymous with justice.” Implication: Floyd died to redeem America of her original sin of racism.

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“Yes, President Biden is an idiot in my personal opinion, and he’s just talkin’ because he’s a politician.”

Fmr Police Officer Blasts Dems For “Riding The Wave Of Dead Black People” (ZH)

Former Arizona police officer-turned conservative political commentator Brandon Tatum unloaded on President Biden and the press for politicizing the Derek Chauvin trial, and insists that so-called ‘systemic racism’ is simply manufactured by politicians and the media to earn votes and make money. “I think we’re living in the twilight zone,” Tatum said of the Chauvin trial. “This conviction, in my personal opinion, did nothing for our country. People are living a lie. I mean this is one police officer, one person in the community, they found him guilty, this was the swiftest justice I’ve ever seen in my life. The day after the film came out he was arrested. He was tried. 10 hours of deliberation, he was convicted. I’m not really sure why people are acting like this is monumental.

“Also, he did not get a fair trial in my personal opinion. There was a lot of obstruction that happened. They paid the family out $27 million before the jury could be selected. I mean, they’re going to have a case in appeal. I don’t know why people are celebrating and I don’t know why this is such a big focal point other than – people are making money off of the pain of people in our country.” The BBC host then asked Tatum if he was upset over this “landmark” case? “This is not a landmark case, this is a political agenda,” Tatum shot back. They’re pushing laws in our country. Policing in America is not inherently racist. We don’t live in a racist country. This was an interaction between a police officer that I thought did the wrong thing, and a black man who was on drugs high, resisting arrest, and ended up being killed by that police officer. That’s as simple as it can be.

The President of the United States got out and made a fool of himself trying to promote racism in a simple police encounter that the officer got convicted on. “So you reject President Biden’s comment about systemic racism and it being a stain on the whole nation?” the host replied. “Yes, President Biden is an idiot in my personal opinion, and he’s just talkin’ because he’s a politician. Systemic racism – I mean if you look at Joe Biden himself, he spoke at a Klu Klux Klan-member’s funeral and did the eulogy of Robert Byrd … We don’t have a problem with racism in our country, we have a problem with people not following the law. We also have a problem with politicians making up things so they can get re-elected. And that’s exactly what has been happening. That’s why you never see anything change. They’re lying to us.

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Making friends.

Nassim Taleb Says Bitcoin Is An Open Ponzi Scheme And A Failed Currency (BI)

The “Black Swan” author Nassim Taleb doubled down on his view that bitcoin is an open Ponzi scheme and a failed currency in a CNBC interview on Friday. “There’s no connection between inflation and bitcoin,” Taleb told CNBC, adding that everyone knows bitcoin is “a Ponzi.” Some analysts view the cryptocurrency, often referred to as digital gold, as a hedge against inflation, highlighting its similarities with the precious metal. “If you want to hedge against inflation, buy a piece of land,” Taleb said. “The best strategy for investors is to own things that produce yields in the future. In other words, you can fall back on real dollars coming out of the company.” He also said bitcoin had failed in its supposed role as a replacement for government-backed money, mainly because of its volatility.


The author said he’d been “fooled” into thinking it could be a viable alternative to fiat currency but realized that a currency not backed by a government is “just speculation” and a “game.” “I was told it was going to be a currency,” he said, but “you don’t replace the currency with something that’s so volatile that you can’t really commit to a transaction in it.” Bitcoin’s price has swung wildly recently. The world’s largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization inched near $65,000 ahead of Coinbase’s listing on April 14. Less than 10 days later, bitcoin slid below the critical $50,000 level, extending losses for the seventh day in a row. The decline below $50,000 has bitcoin testing a new technical support level that could signal continued weakness, especially after its 50-day moving average failed to hold as support. The broader crypto market has come under pressure after reports said this week that US President Joe Biden would look to double the capital-gains tax rate for wealthy investors.

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Sep 072019
 
 September 7, 2019  Posted by at 9:47 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , ,  13 Responses »


Pablo Picasso Portrait of Dora Maar 1942

 

The Financialization of the US Economy (WS)
Fed Chair Powell Repeats Vow To Act ‘As Appropriate’ (R.)
Tariffs Are No Longer China’s Biggest Problem In The Trade War (CNBC)
Boris Johnson Urged To Become A ‘Brexit Martyr’ (DM)
A Trump Brexit Threatens (Wight)
A Crackup Is Inevitable (Kunstler)
CIA, Mossad, “the Epstein Network” and an Orwellian Nightmare (Whitney Webb)
How MIT Concealed Its Relationship with Jeffrey Epstein (Farrow)
Boeing’s Chief Technical Pilot On The 737 MAX Project Pleads The Fifth (ST)
For The First Time In My Life, I’m Frightened To Be Jewish (David Graeber)
Edward Snowden’s Guardian Angels (F24)

 

 

But services don’t make stuff.

The Financialization of the US Economy (WS)

Service-producing industries dominate the US economy, accounting for over 70% of GDP. And this sector is hopping. Revenues in the major services categories rose 5.3% in the second quarter of 2019, compared to the same quarter a year earlier, to $4.05 trillion, not seasonally adjusted, according to the Commerce Department’s Quarterly Selected Services Estimates released today. For the first two quarters of 2019, service revenues rose 5.5% to $8.0 trillion. The pace of growth so far this year is slightly lower than the hot 6.0% growth for the year 2018.


Four biggies dominate the service sector, and the US economy overall. They accounted for $2.92 trillion in revenues in Q1, or about 72% of total service revenues, with the biggest of them all, finance and insurance, accounting for 32%, up from 31% at the end of last year. It is also the fastest-growing segment, even faster than healthcare, as the US economy is getting more and more financialized. The share of each of the big four of overall service revenues: • Finance and insurance: 32% • Healthcare: 17% • Professional, scientific, and technical services: 12% • “Information” services, such as telecommunications, software, and data processing: 11%.

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Only one act is appropriate: go home. Did you know Jay Powell is worth some $100 million? Do you think he’s concerned about Americans living paycheck to paycheck?

Fed Chair Powell Repeats Vow To Act ‘As Appropriate’ (R.)

The U.S. Federal Reserve will continue to act “as appropriate” to sustain the economic expansion in the world’s biggest economy, Fed Chair Jerome Powell said Friday in Zurich, sticking to a phrase that financial markets have read as signaling further interest-rate reductions ahead. “Our obligation is to use our tools to support the economy, and that’s what we’ll continue to do,” Powell said at the University of Zurich. Still, he said, “We are clearly at a time where there is a range of views” among Fed policymakers meeting Sept. 17-18 to decide on rates.


Powell’s careful wording reflects a split within the U.S. central bank about how best to respond to an economy where the job market and consumer spending are strong but rising trade tensions between Beijing and Washington, Britain’s possibly messy exit from the European Union, and a broad global slowdown pose risks. Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren for instance has made the case for leaving rates where they are until those risks are more tangible in the economic data. Others including St. Louis Fed President James Bullard have called for a half-a-percentage point interest-rate cut to get ahead of the trade war risks and bring the Fed’s policy rate more in line with market expectations. Meanwhile, financial markets are betting Fed policymakers will agree to split the difference and follow their quarter-point rate cut in July with another one later this month.

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Decoupling.

Tariffs Are No Longer China’s Biggest Problem In The Trade War (CNBC)

It’s not the new round of tariffs that went into effect; we’ve been playing the tit-for-tat tariff war for more than a year. It’s not the economic reports; they’ve been a little too mixed lately to force any dramatic moves. It’s not even the decision by Hong Kong administrator Carrie Lam to fully withdraw the controversial mainland extradition bill; it’s still not clear that the Hong Kong unrest would be affected in any way by a trade deal. Given the timing of the change in tone, it seems more likely that what’s making the difference is a realization on both sides that there’s another way this trade war could end – and that possible ending is one the U.S. is very unlikely to lose.


That alternate ending is summed up in one word: decoupling. The decoupling push is quite different than any U.S. efforts to get China to open up more of its economy to American companies. Instead, it focuses on reducing America’s extremely heavy reliance on China for so much of its manufacturing needs. Even if China’s economy weren’t so closed off to so many American goods and services, a strong argument has long been made that the U.S. needs to diversify its sources for imports. While finding those new sources wouldn’t necessarily do anything to dent America’s trade imbalances, it would reduce the risks of a major disruption to the U.S. economy based on disputes or other problems connected to a single foreign country.

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As I wrote yesterday, he has little to lose by resigning.

Boris Johnson Urged To Become A ‘Brexit Martyr’ (DM)

Boris Johnson wrote to all Tory members last night to indicate that he would rather defy the law than beg Brussels for a delay in bringing Britain out of the EU. The Prime Minister said he was only bound ‘in theory’ by a law which is expected to receive Royal Assent on Monday, taking a No Deal Brexit off the table. In his letter, he reiterated his determination to stand firm against Remainers, saying: ‘They just passed a law that would force me to beg Brussels for an extension to the Brexit deadline. This is something I will never do.’ Earlier on Friday he told reporters he would not entertain seeking another deadline extension from Brussels, as the incoming law compels him to do if no agreement is in place by October 19.

He was urged last night by Tory grandee Iain Duncan Smith to hold his nerve, saying he would be ‘martyred’ if he chose to break the law and risk a possible prison sentence for contempt of Parliament. Mr Duncan Smith told The Telegraph: ‘This is about Parliament versus the people. Boris Johnson is on the side of the people, who voted to leave the EU. ‘The people are sovereign because they elect Parliament. But Parliament wants to stop the will of the people.’ If Mr Johnson fails to carry out the will of Parliament, he risks being taken to court and, if a judge ordered him to obey Parliament, he could be held in contempt and even jailed for refusing.


Mr Johnson’s latest plans for a snap election appeared to have been scuppered yet again last night by a ’stitch-up’ between Jeremy Corbyn and Remain parties. Labour, the Lib Dems and Scots and Welsh nationalists agreed to block the public going to the polls before October 31. It leaves the Prime Minister in limbo, forced to choose between resigning or defying a law passed by MPs ruling out a No Deal Brexit.

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“This desire for godlike powers of total creation is precisely why free market ideologues are so drawn to crises and disasters.”

A Trump Brexit Threatens (Wight)

Trump’s otherworldly vice president, Mike Pence, has just said more in one short sentence to unravel the complexities of the Brexit crisis that continues to bedevil the UK, than the ocean of column inches that have been devoted to the subject since the referendum was held in 2016. Speaking at a black tie event in London on Thursday night, attended by an array of business executives, Pence proclaimed, “The minute the UK is out, America is in.” Pence, a man who stands as living proof that human evolution is not wedded to an ever upwards path, delivered these words with the bombast of a Roman proconsul addressing the notables of a soon-to-be client state.

Thus let there be no doubt that the hard no-deal Brexit advocated by the UK’s newly installed Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his supporters is to all intents a Trump Brexit – one that will see the UK economy opened up to the tender mercies of U.S. corporations on terms set not by London but Washington. In other words, we’re talking disaster capitalism on steroids, bringing with it the likely prospect of the decimation of what’s left of the UK’s welfare state, including that most revered totem to social solidarity, the National Health Service (NHS), which since the end of WWII, when it was established, has provided generations of British citizens with free healthcare at the point of need, funded out of general taxation, regardless of social class or personal wealth.


The NHS is therefore a socialist institution in all but name, which Johnson and his privileged right wing establishment acolytes in the hard Brexit camp would sooner see broken up and sold off to U.S. insurance companies in sacrifice to their god, the market. This is regardless of any and all assurances given to the contrary. In her classic work, Shock Doctrine, Naomi Klein writes: “Believers in the shock doctrine [of disaster capitalism] are convinced that only a great rupture – a flood, a war, a terrorist attack – can generate the kind of vast, clean canvases they crave,” while earlier in the same passage, warning that “This desire for godlike powers of total creation is precisely why free market ideologues are so drawn to crises and disasters.”

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National sovereignty.

A Crackup Is Inevitable (Kunstler)

What’s at stake behind all the pushing-and-shoving is the question of national sovereignty. Does it matter anymore? I suspect it will matter increasingly for everyone in many nations, and at a smaller and smaller scale of political divisions so that, for instance, Great Britain itself will be faced with surrendering its dominion over Scotland and Northern Ireland. This is churning in the zeitgeist now, actually has been for some time since the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia cracked up. Even the United States finds itself increasingly disunited and it’s not inconceivable that before the century ends some regions may go their own way. Texans have been talking it up for years, and California is already acting like she’s started divorce proceedings.

China, meanwhile, is whipping its quasi-vassal Hong Kong like a dog because Xi Jinping is not in a position to bust Donald Trump upside the head and Xi’s got to take it out on somebody. Everything was looking so rosy for China as it burst out of its medieval cocoon into industrial adulthood, and now Mr. Trump is ruining the global arrangements that turned the sclerotic old outfit into a global super-dragon. They’ve had a blast driving down the capitalist road — even if they’re actually ruled by communists — but a storm of bad debt is coming up on them from behind, and if it catches up, the joyride is over and some kind of dreadful crackup happens.


All the abiding normality of the past seventy years is slipping away into flux. Modernity is finally yielding – to what? Nobody knows. And nowhere is this more obvious than in the realm of money and economy. Beyond all the other quarrels of modern times — democracy versus communism, Islam versus the West, the wealthy north versus the poor south — one thing remained pretty steady: the flow of oil into the engines of economy. Turned out, the world didn’t have to run out of oil for that normality to fray badly; the oil just had to become marginally unaffordable, and voila! It’s hard for people to grok, especially here in the USA with oil production so far above the old 1970 prior peak that the proposition seems absurd.

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Whitney’s latest. Obvious must read.

CIA, Mossad, “the Epstein Network” and an Orwellian Nightmare (Whitney Webb)

Prior to the public scrutiny of Barak’s relationship to Jeffrey Epstein, following the latter’s arrest this past July and subsequent death, Barak had come under fire for his ties to disgraced film mogul Harvey Weinstein. Indeed, it was Ehud Barak who put Weinstein in contact with the Israeli private intelligence outfit Black Cube, which employs former Mossad agents and Israeli military intelligence operatives, as Weinstein sought to intimidate the women who had accused him of sexual assault and sexual harassment. Former Mossad director Meir Dagan led Black Cube’s board until his death in 2016 and Carbyne co-founder Lital Leshem is Black Cube’s former director of marketing.

After Barak put him in contact with Black Cube’s leadership, Weinstein, according to The New Yorker, used the private spy firm to “‘target,’ or collect information on, dozens of individuals, and compile psychological profiles that sometimes focused on their personal or sexual histories.” In addition, The New Yorker noted that “Weinstein monitored the progress of the investigations personally” and “also enlisted former employees from his film enterprises to join in the effort, collecting names and placing calls that, according to some sources who received them, felt intimidating.”


Yet, more recently, it has been Barak’s close relationship to Epstein that has raised eyebrows and opened him up to political attacks from his rivals. Epstein and Barak were first introduced by former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres in 2002, a time when Epstein’s pedophile blackmail and sex trafficking operation was in full swing.

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Pecunia non olet.

How MIT Concealed Its Relationship with Jeffrey Epstein (Farrow)

The M.I.T. Media Lab, which has been embroiled in a scandal over accepting donations from the financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, had a deeper fund-raising relationship with Epstein than it has previously acknowledged, and it attempted to conceal the extent of its contacts with him. Dozens of pages of e-mails and other documents obtained by The New Yorker reveal that, although Epstein was listed as “disqualified” in M.I.T.’s official donor database, the Media Lab continued to accept gifts from him, consulted him about the use of the funds, and, by marking his contributions as anonymous, avoided disclosing their full extent, both publicly and within the university.


Perhaps most notably, Epstein appeared to serve as an intermediary between the lab and other wealthy donors, soliciting millions of dollars in donations from individuals and organizations, including the technologist and philanthropist Bill Gates and the investor Leon Black. According to the records obtained by The New Yorker and accounts from current and former faculty and staff of the media lab, Epstein was credited with securing at least $7.5 million in donations for the lab, including two million dollars from Gates and $5.5 million from Black, gifts the e-mails describe as “directed” by Epstein or made at his behest. The effort to conceal the lab’s contact with Epstein was so widely known that some staff in the office of the lab’s director, Joi Ito, referred to Epstein as Voldemort or “he who must not be named.”

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By refusing to send documents.

Boeing’s Chief Technical Pilot On The 737 MAX Project Pleads The Fifth (ST)

A former Boeing official who played a key role in the development of the 737 MAX has refused to provide documents sought by federal prosecutors investigating two fatal crashes of the jetliner, citing his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, according to a person familiar with the matter. Mark Forkner, Boeing’s chief technical pilot on the MAX project, invoked the privilege in response to a grand jury subpoena issued by U.S. Justice Department prosecutors looking into the design and certification of the plane, the person said.

Invoking the Fifth to avoid testifying, while a legal right, is sometimes interpreted as an admission of guilt. Its use to resist a subpoena for documents is less common and may only imply a dance between prosecutors and defense attorneys, legal experts say. Forkner, now a first officer for Southwest Airlines, referred questions to his attorney when reached by phone. His attorney, David Gerger, of Houston, did not respond to inquiries.


Forkner, who worked at Boeing from 2011 to 2018, according to his LinkedIn profile, was frequently anxious about the deadlines and pressures faced in the MAX program, going to some of his peers in the piloting world for help, a person who worked on the project previously told The Seattle Times, speaking on condition of anonymity. The MCAS system, designed to move a powerful control surface at the tail to push the airplane’s nose down in certain rare situations, played a critical role in the crashes when the planes nose-dived out of the sky. During the certification process, Forkner suggested to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that MCAS not be included in the pilot manual, according to previous Seattle Times reporting.

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The anti-Corbyn campaign fallout.

For The First Time In My Life, I’m Frightened To Be Jewish (David Graeber)

I am 58 years old, and for the first time in my life, I am frightened to be Jewish. We live in a time when racism is being normalized, when Nazis parade in the streets in Europe and America; Jew baiters like Hungary’s Orban are treated as respectable players on the international scene, “white nationalist” propagandist Steve Bannon can openly coordinate scare-mongering tactics with Boris Johnson in London at the same time as in Pittsburg, murderers deluded by white nationalist propaganda are literally mowing Jews down with automatic weapons. How is it, then, that our political class has come to a consensus that the greatest threat to Britain’s Jewish community is a lifelong anti-racist accused of not being assiduous enough in disciplining party members who make offensive comments on the internet?


For almost all my Jewish friends, this is what is currently creating the greatest and most immediate sense of trepidation, even more than the actual Nazis: the apparently endless campaign by politicians like Margaret Hodge, Wes Streeting, and Tom Watson to weaponize antisemitism accusations against the current leadership of the Labour party. It is a campaign – which however it started, has been sustained primarily by people who are not themselves Jewish – so cynical and irresponsible that I genuinely believe it to be a form of antisemitism in itself. And it is a clear and present danger to Jewish people. To any of these politicians who may be reading this, I am begging you: if you really do care about Jews, please, stop this.

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Justin better act.

Edward Snowden’s Guardian Angels (F24)

After he revealed the National Security Agency’s illegal mass surveillance programmes in 2013, Edward Snowden received help from some unlikely accomplices. Four refugees and their lawyer allowed the whistleblower to escape and stay under the radar, at a time when he was the world’s most wanted man. For 13 days, they sheltered him in their tiny apartments located in the poorest area of Hong Kong, home to the marginalised community of asylum seekers. The mastermind behind the idea of hiding the American fugitive in plain sight was Robert Tibbo, a Canadian human rights lawyer, well known for defending asylum seekers in the region.

Snowden told FRANCE 24 he believes he owes his life to these unexpected allies, who could have turned him in at any time: “They could have written an email to the CIA and they could have gotten a big cheque or they could have finally gotten asylum in exchange. But they would have had to do it by selling someone into a grave. And for that, I’ll never be able to repay them.”


But since their identity was revealed, especially with the release of the Oliver Stone film “Snowden” in 2016, these refugees are being persecuted by Hong Kong authorities. Arrested on several occasions, they have been questioned about their ties with Snowden. The little welfare they received from the government has been cut. Today, they all live in constant fear in Hong Kong. If deported to their home country of Sri Lanka, they could face imprisonment, torture and even death. All of them have applied for asylum in Canada.

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May 172016
 
 May 17, 2016  Posted by at 9:22 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , ,  2 Responses »


Charlotte Brooks Tom Corbett, Space Cadet 1952

This is an article by our friend Steve Keen, which was yanked by Forbes yesterday after just a few hours due to, according to Steve, their ‘parody policy’. I did some research and it turns out the Automatic Earth has no such policy. So I offered Steve to repost it here.

Steve Keen: CERN has just announced the discovery of a new particle, called the “FERIR”.

This is not a fundamental particle of matter like the Higgs Boson, but an invention of economists. CERN in this instance stands not for the famous particle accelerator straddling the French and Swiss borders, but for an economic research lab at MIT—whose initials are coincidentally the same as those of its far more famous cousin.

Despite its relative anonymity, MIT’s CERN is far more important than its physical namesake. The latter merely informs us about the fundamental nature of the universe. MIT’s CERN, on the other hand, shapes our lives today, because the discoveries it makes dramatically affect economic policy.

CERN, which in this case stands for “Crazy Economic Rationalizations for aNomalies”, has discovered many important sub-economic particles in the past, with its most famous discovery to date being the NAIRU, or “Non-Accelerating Inflation Rate of Unemployment”. Today’s newly discovered particle, the FERIR, or “Full Employment Real Interest Rate”, is the anti-particle of the NAIRU.

Its existence was first mooted some 30 months ago by Professor Larry Summers at the 2013 IMF Research Conference. The existence of the FERIR was confirmed just this week by CERN’s particle equilibrator, the DSGEin.

Asked why the discovery had occurred now, Professor Krugman explained that ever since the GFC (“Global Financial Crisis”), economists had been attempting to understand not only how the GFC happened, but also why its aftermath has been what Professor Summers characterized as “Secular Stagnation”.

Their attempts to understand the GFC continued to fail, until Professor Summers suggested that perhaps the GFC had destroyed the NAIRU, leaving the ZLB (“Zero Lower Bound”) in its place.

This could have happened only if there was a mysterious second particle, which was generated when a NAIRU equilibrated with a GFC. Rather than remaining in equilibrium, as sub-economic particles do in DSGEin, NAIRU apparently vanished instantly when the GFC appeared. Something else must have taken its place. DSGEin was unable to help here, since it rapidly returned to equilibrium—while the real world that it was supposed to simulate clearly had not.

CERN’s attempts to model this phenomenon in DSGEin were frustrated by the fact that a GFC does not exist inside a DSGEin—in fact, the construction of the DSGEin was predicated on non-existence of GFCs.

The ever-practical Professor Krugman recently suggested a way to overcome this problem. Why not turn to the real world, where GFCs exist in abundance, and feed one of those into the DSGEin?

Unfortunately, the experiment destroyed the DSGEin, since the very existence of a GFC within it put it through an existential crisis. However, before it broke down (while mysteriously singing the first verse of “Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do”), the value for the NAIRU in DSGEin suddenly turned negative.

This led Professor Summers to the conjecture that perhaps there was a negative anti-particle to the NAIRU, which he dubbed the FERIR.

Lacking a functional DSGEin at the time, Summers fed a GFC into the older SLIM equilibrator lovingly maintained by Professor Krugman—and he discovered that the NAIRU took on a negative value there. Since the NAIRU cannot be negative, Professor Summers realised that he had discovered a new particle—the FERIR. When the FERIR interacted with a ZLB, the outcome was Secular Stagnation.

Professor Summers—who expects to receive the Nobel Prize for his discovery—had some harsh words for critics who had rubbished the very attempt to explain the GFC using a sub-economic particle equilibrator.

“They accuse us of adding ‘epicycles’ to our models to make them fit the data. That’s nonsense: that’s so 15th century. We’re way beyond that now,” sneered Professor Summers at length. “These days, we add new fundamental particles to our sub-economic menagerie: that’s way more sophisticated.”

The FERIR may now help economists understand the persistence of the ZLB, which has confounded all predictions to date. Having expected the ZLB to evaporate and be replaced fairly rapidly by an NRI (“Natural Rate of Interest”), economists have been flummoxed by its persistence—eight years now and counting.

“We have shown that the FERIR equilibrates with and maintains the ZLB,” Professor Krugman explained. “So Larry’s discovery is really, really important”.

Now that economists have explained the persistence of the ZLB, they can now turn their attention to understanding its perverse effects. The real problem of the ZLB for economists has been that it inverts the status and behaviour of all other sub-economic particles. In particular:

Growth, which was high, is now low;

Inflation, which was bad & everywhere, is now good & nowhere;

CBs (“Central Banks”) which prevent inflation, now try to cause it; and

HMDs (“Helicopter Money Drops”) which were mad, are now sane

These inversions are causing real problems for economists, who find themselves arguing for policies they used to oppose. Professor Summers hopes that knowledge of the existence of the FERIR will make it easier for economists to argue that night is day and rainbows are grey, as they provide policy advice in these troubled times.

POSTSCRIPT: Written with the inspiration of Axel Leijonhufvud’s brilliant parody “Life Among the Econ” firmly in mind.

POST-POSTSCRIPT: The NAIRU—the “Non-Accelerating Inflation Rate of Unemployment”—was a fiction of Milton Friedman’s imagination, and countless hours were wasted by economists trying to calculate it. I fully expect a new generation of economists to waste their time trying to calculate the FERIR as well.

POST-POST-POSTSCRIPT: The serious intent to this parody is the observation that the approach to economics that failed to anticipate the GFC—and that even believed such events were impossible—is unlikely to be able to advise what to do in the aftermath to the GFC. We need a new theory, not merely a new fictional acronym in the fantasy universe of mainstream economics.