Sep 102019
 
 September 10, 2019  Posted by at 9:23 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  5 Responses »


Marc Chagall The painter to the moon 1917

 

 

To everyone used to receiving Automatic Earth posts in their email, I’m sorry but since Saturday they’re suddenly bouncing again en masse. This makes me very tired by now, but I’ll look for a solution. I suspect there may be a connection between this and Google accusing me of violating their rules, without telling me what rules I’m supposed to have violated.

 

 

 

 

Real US Debt Levels Could Be A Shocking 2,000% of GDP (CNBC)
Boris Johnson Loses Second Attempt To Trigger Early General Election (Ind.)
Parliament Suspension Begins As Johnson’s Election Bid Fails (BBC)
MPs Order Boris Johnson To Hand Over Government Communications (Ind.)
Why Europe Remains Unfazed By The UK’s Ongoing Political Drama (MW)
Judge Lets Facebook Privacy Class Action Proceed, Calls Company’s Views ‘So Wrong’ (R.)
And The Word Was God (Kunstler)
How 50 Years Of The ‘Nobel Prize’ In Economics Redrew Our Map Of Society (PEP)
Over 700 Migrants Cross Into Greece Over the Weekend (GR)

 

 

At this stage, what’s the difference between 1,000% and 2,000%?

Real US Debt Levels Could Be A Shocking 2,000% of GDP (CNBC)

Total potential debt for the U.S. by one all-encompassing measure is running close to 2,000% of GDP, according to an analysis that suggests danger but also cautions against reading too much into the level. AB Bernstein came up with the calculation — 1,832%, to be exact — by including not only traditional levels of public debt like bonds but also financial debt and all its complexities as well as future obligations for so-called entitlement programs like Social Security, Medicare and public pensions. Putting all that together paints a daunting picture but one that requires nuance to understand. Paramount is realizing that not all of the debt obligations are set in stone, and it’s important to know where the leeway is, particularly in the government programs that can be changed either by legislation or accounting.


“This conceptual difference is important to acknowledge because this lens is often used by those who wish to paint a dire picture about debt,” Philipp Carlsson-Szlezak, chief U.S. economist at AB Bernstein, said in the report. “While the picture is dire, such numbers don’t prove we are doomed or that a debt crisis is inevitable.” Crisis measures cut both ways — sometimes a seemingly smaller level of debt can cause outsized problems during times of economic stress, such as during the financial crisis. And larger levels of debt can be sustained so long as other conditions, like leverage levels, or debt to capital, are manageable.

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He lost all 6 of his first 6 votes. Unique.

Boris Johnson Loses Second Attempt To Trigger Early General Election (Ind.)

Boris Johnson has lost his second attempt to trigger an early general election in his sixth humiliating Commons defeat since becoming prime minister. Ahead of parliament being suspended by the government for five weeks, MPs opposed to a no-deal Brexit again deprived the prime minister of the required votes for an early poll in the last major showdown of the current session. Less than a week after his first bid to seek an election was scuppered, Mr Johnson again asked the Commons to vote on a motion to bypass a law setting out that the next vote should not take place until 2022.


From Dutch newspaper NRC

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5 whole weeks, But trust me, they won’t be silent weeks.

Parliament Suspension Begins As Johnson’s Election Bid Fails (BBC)

Parliament has officially been suspended for five weeks, with MPs not due back until 14 October. Amid unusual scenes in the House of Commons, some MPs protested against the suspension with signs saying “silenced” while shouting: “Shame on you.” It comes after PM Boris Johnson’s bid to call a snap election in October was defeated for a second time. Opposition MPs refused to back it, insisting a law blocking a no-deal Brexit must be implemented first. In all, 293 MPs voted for the prime minister’s motion for an early election, far short of the two thirds needed. Parliament was suspended – or prorogued – at just before 02:00 BST on Tuesday.


As Speaker John Bercow – who earlier announced his resignation – was due to lead MPs in a procession to the House of Lords to mark the suspension, a group of angry opposition backbenchers appeared to try to block his way. It is normal for new governments to suspend Parliament, but the length and timing of the prorogation in this case has sparked controversy.

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Wonder how they’re going to go about not complying.

MPs Order Boris Johnson To Hand Over Government Communications (Ind.)

Boris Johnson’s government has suffered another humiliating Commons defeat, as MPs ordered the release of internal communications between the prime minister’s top advisers over the decision to suspend parliament. The emergency motion – passed by 311 to 302 votes – means the government will also be forced to publish its no-deal planning documents under Operation Yellowhammer. Put forward by the ex-Tory MP Dominic Grieve, the motion orders ministers to surrender the documents by Wednesday and includes the private communications of Mr Johnson’s chief-of-staff, Dominic Cummings. It demands “all correspondence, whether formal or informal in both written and electronic form” relating to the prorogation sent by officials since the day before Mr Johnson’s arrival in office on 24 July.


And their emergency motion makes clear this should include messages sent via the WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Telegram and Signal apps, by text or iMessage and from “private email accounts both encrypted and unencrypted”. It lists nine individuals in Mr Johnson’s administration, including Mr Cummings, Hugh Bennett, Simon Burton, Dominic Cummings, Nikki da Costa, Tom Irven, Sir Roy Stone, Christopher James, Lee Cain and Beatrice Timpson. Mr Grieve, who is now sitting as an independent MP after losing the Tory whip, said public officials had given him information relating to prorogation that informed him “they believed the handling of this matter smacked of scandal”.

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Europe at least pretends it has bigger fish to fry. Ireland, Holland, Belgium, France will be hit, but many others truly don’t care much.

Why Europe Remains Unfazed By The UK’s Ongoing Political Drama (MW)

Reason No. 1: the economy, and an end to uncertainty. Trust Macron to come back swinging at the next EU council meeting mid-October, when a possible request for an extension might be discussed if U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson abides by the law voted by Parliament. In March, the French president argued that it would be a waste of time. Others were in favor of granting the U.K. a longer extension, of up to a year. The irony is that Macron defends the same line as the hardest Brexiteers — mainly that there is a cost to uncertainty that at some point may exceed the cost of a no-deal Brexit. [..]

Reason No. 2: Diplomacy, and an EU desire to move on. A new European Commission is taking over on Nov. 1 — the day after the Brexit deadline — and Europe has challenges of its own to focus on. The influence of euroskeptic governments and movements on the EU’s deliberations is the first challenge, just as the EU has embarked on the tough discussions over its multiyear budget. Europe also needs to come together on the many challenges it is facing: whether to boost joint defense capabilities or what policy to adopt toward Russia, for example, in addition to optimizing its positioning vis-à-vis U.S. President Donald Trump. [..]


Reason No. 3: Politics, and the fact that Brexit isn’t a European domestic problem. For EU leaders, there is little political capital to lose by playing hardball with London. Brexit has never been a European problem, and it never figured as a topic in the many national electoral campaigns that have taken place since the Brexit referendum in 2016. EU leaders don’t even really care about the possible blame game that would follow a hard Brexit, if they appear to have slammed the door on London.

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Facebook is the opposite of privacy, that’s its business model.

Judge Lets Facebook Privacy Class Action Proceed, Calls Company’s Views ‘So Wrong’ (R.)

A federal judge on Monday ordered Facebook to face most of a nationwide lawsuit seeking damages for letting third parties such as Cambridge Analytica access users’ private data, calling the social media company’s views on privacy “so wrong.” While dismissing some claims, U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria in San Francisco said users could try to hold Facebook liable under various federal and state laws for letting app developers and business partners harvest their personal data without their consent on a “widespread” basis. He rejected Facebook’s arguments that users suffered no “tangible” harm and had no legitimate privacy interest in information they shared with friends on social media.


“Facebook’s motion to dismiss is littered with assumptions about the degree to which social media users can reasonably expect their personal information and communications to remain private,” Chhabria wrote. “Facebook’s view is so wrong.” A Facebook spokeswoman said the company considered protecting people’s information and privacy “extremely important,” but believed its practices were consistent with its disclosures and “do not support any legal claims.” Lesley Weaver and Derek Loeser, two of the plaintiffs’ lawyers, said in a joint statement that they were pleased with the decision, and “especially gratified that the court is respecting Facebook users’ right to privacy.”

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Jim standing up for teaching proper language skills.

And The Word Was God (Kunstler)

Enough about me. Obviously, the racial shuffle has been going on for decades in the New York City school system, but in these times of white privilege and intersectionality, the escape routes of G & T and SP must be plugged. No extra gruel for you! But I have a remedy for the persistent problem of underperformance, one that has not really been tried: intense concentration, starting in preschool and going forward as long as necessary, in spoken English. Language is the foundation of learning, certainly of reading skill, and too many children just can’t speak English. Without it, they’ll be unable to learn anything else, including math. The reasons for their poor language skills are beside the point.


Whether they are newcomers from foreign lands or the descendants of slaves, they need to learn how to speak English and to do it correctly, with all the tenses and correct verbs. They need to be intelligible to others and to themselves to make sense of the world. The resistance to this idea would be mighty and furious, I’m sure. Some people will always be smarter than others, but the disparities at issue are badly aggravated by poverty in language. We don’t even pretend to want to take the obvious steps to correct this, even though it is obviously correctable. Learning anything puts people out of their comfort zone, so that can’t be used as an excuse. Diversity in language is a handicap, and it does not make you specially abled. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

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I used to rant a lot against the Fauxbel, haven’t for a bit. But my friend Steve Keen is involved in this round.

How 50 Years Of The ‘Nobel Prize’ In Economics Redrew Our Map Of Society (PEP)

Who shaped our world more Neil Armstrong, Jimi Hendrix, or the King of Sweden? By any standards, 1969 was a momentous year. Neil Armstrong was the first person to walk on the moon, half a million people came to Woodstock to hear Jimi Hendrix, and the Stonewall riots kicked off the gay liberation movement. The same year, less well remembered, an event in Stockholm arguably shaped our world today even more. And not for the best. Fifty years ago this year, the King of Sweden presented with royal pomp the first ever Nobel medals in economics. The prize has been dogged by controversy ever since. Alfred Nobel the founder of the awards never wanted an economics prize, his descendants want it scrapped and the economist F.A. Hayek said it was dangerous.

That’s not the half. Serious thinkers argue that the prize in ‘economic sciences’, as it’s called, has given economic ideas which favour the rich and powerful the gloss of scientific truth. The prize, still paid for every year by Sweden’s Central Bank, has helped weaken democratic control of money, they argue, and helped one school of economic thought – known as neoclassical – dominate the rest. It has contributed to a crisis of conformity in economics and trouble well beyond the ivory tower. This narrow economic thinking celebrated by the Nobels has often ignored, and exacerbated, the multiple crises staring us in the face: ecological breakdown, financial crashes, and politically toxic inequality.


Take the 2018 winner William Nordhaus: his models may have delayed action on climate change. Or consider the 1997 winners Robert Merton and Myron Scholes: their hedge fund had to be bailed out to the tune of $3.6 billion less than a year after they won the prize. Or wrap your head around the equations of the 1996 winner, James Mirrlees, whose work contributed to plummeting tax on the super-rich around the world. All of these “contributions” are described as economic science: the political values and choices inherent in the models are rarely acknowledged or discussed. Debate is closed down.

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It may have started again. Erdogan is threatening to send over 5.5 million refugees and migrants if a safe area in northern Syria in not funded by the west.

Over 700 Migrants Cross Into Greece Over the Weekend (GR)

At east 207 migrants landed just on the island of Lesvos early on Monday, bringing the total number of illegal migrants landing on all Aegean islands over the weekend to 726. As migrant flows increase, Greek premier Mitsotakis said that Turkey should not try to coerce either Greece or Europe in its attempts to receive support for a plan to resettle Syrian refugees in northern Syria. Turkey is currently proposing to resettle one million refugees there, and it may reopen the route for illegal immigrants to flow into Europe if it does not receive adequate international support for the plan, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday.


“Mr. Erdogan must understand that he cannot threaten Greece and Europe in an attempt to secure more resources to handle the refugee (issue),” Mitsotakis told a news conference in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki. “Europe has given a lot of money, six billion euros in recent years, within the framework of an agreement between Europe and Turkey and which was mutually beneficial,” the Greek PM said.

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Feb 072017
 
 February 7, 2017  Posted by at 2:35 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , ,  9 Responses »


Paul Cézanne Les (Grandes) Baigneuses 1905

 

Two and a half weeks after the inauguration, and yes it’s only been that long, the media still don’t seem to have learned a single thing. They help the Trump campaign on an almost hourly basis by parroting whatever things, invariably judged as crazy, he says. One day it’s that negative polls are all fake news, the next it’s some list of underreported terror events. All of it gets an avalanche of attention provided by the very people who claim to be against Trump, but greatly help his cause by doing so.

Not a single thing learned. If Trump tweets tomorrow that tomatoes are really fruits and he’s going to have someone draw up a law to make them so, or that Lego should be recognized as an official building material in order to have the Danes, too, pay for the wall, it will be on the front page of every paper and the opening item for every TV news show. The crazier he makes them, the more serious they are taken. The echo chamber is so eager to incessantly repeat to itself and all its inhabitants that he’s a crazy dude, it’s beyond embarrassing.

And it takes us ever further away, and rapidly too, from any serious discussion about serious issues, the one very thing that the Trump empire desperately calls for. The press should simply ignore the crazy stuff and focus on what’s real, but they can’t bring themselves to do so for fear of losing ratings and ad revenues. All Trump needs to do, and that’s not a joke, is to fart or burp into their echo chamber and they’ll all be happy and giddy and all excited and self-satisfied. A spectacle to behold if ever there was one.

 

British House of Commons Speaker John Bercow can play that game too. He has loudly advertized his refusal to let Trump address UK politicians in the House of Commons and the House of Lords: “An address by a foreign leader to both houses of Parliament is not an automatic right, it is an earned honor..” It’s an honor recently gifted to the likes of China President Xi Jinping and the Emir of Kuwait. Fine and upstanding gentlemen in the tradition Britain so likes, nothing like the American President whom he accuses of racism and sexism.

The racism part ostensibly is a reaction to Trump’s Muslim ban, which, nutty though it is, is not a Muslim ban because most Muslims are not affected by it, and besides, ‘Muslim’ is not a race. So maybe Bercow would care to explain the ‘racism’ bit. Has anyone seen the British press pressuring him to do so? Or, alternatively, has anyone seen a thorough analysis of the British role, though its military and its weapons manufacturers, in the premature deaths in the Middle East and North Africa of many thousands of men, women and children belonging to the Muslim ‘race’? Not me.

The ‘sexism’ accusation refers to Trump’s utterances on for instance the Billy Bush tape(s), and by all means let’s get the Donald to comment on that. But this comes from a man who speaks as an official representative of the Queen of a country where child sex abuse is a national sport, from politics to churches to football, where literally thousands of children are trying to speak up and testify, after having been silenced, ignored and ridiculed for years, about the unspeakable experiences in their childhood. Surely someone who because of his job description gets to speak in the name of the Queen can be expected to address the behavior of her own subjects before that of strangers.

Yeah, that Trump guy is a real terrible person. And he should not be allowed to speak to a chamber full of people directly responsible for the death of huge numbers of children in far away sandboxes, for or the abuse of them at home. After all, we’re all good Christians and the good book teaches us about “the beam out of thine own eye”. So we’re good to go.

 

What this really tells you is to what extent the political systems in the US and the UK, along with the media that serve them, have turned into a massive void, a vortex, a black hole from which any reflection, criticism or self-awareness can no longer escape. By endlessly and relentlessly pointing to someone, anyone, outside of their own circle of ‘righteousness’ and political correctness, they have all managed to implant one view of reality in their voters and viewers, while at the same time engaging in the very behavior they accuse the people of that they point to. For profit.

Child sex abuse has been a staple of British society for a long time, we’re talking at least decades. Only now is it starting, but only starting, to be recognized as the vile problem it is. But still many Britons feel entirely justified in demonizing a man who once talked about touching the genitals of grown women. If that did happen against their will, it’s repulsive. But still, there’s that beam, guys. Read your bible.

The political/media black hole exists in many other countries too; we are truly entering a whole new phase in both domestic and global affairs. That is what allows for the Trumps and Le Pens of the world to appeal to people; there is nobody else left that people can have any faith in. The system(s) are broken beyond repair, and anyone perceived as belonging to them will be cast aside. Not all at the same time, but all of them nonetheless.

 

Whether you call the menu the people have been fed, fake or false or just plain nonsense, it makes no difference. The British House of Commons Speaker may not be such a bad guy inside, he’s probably just another victim of the falsehoods, denials and deceit spread 24/7. The difference between them and ordinary citizens is that Her Majesty’s representatives in the political field MUST know. They get paid good salaries to represent the Queen’s subjects, and looking the other way as children get assaulted and raped does not fit their job description.

That goes for representatives of the church (i.e. Jesus) just as much of course, and for the execs at the BBC, but about as many of those people are behind bars as there are bankers. For anyone at all at any of these institutions to now speak with great indignation about Trump’s alleged racism and sexism is the very core of all of their problems, the very reason why so many turn their backs on them. It shows that the very core or our societies is rotten, and the rot is spreading.

We are facing a lot of problems, all of us, in many different ways, financially, politically, morally. But our problem is not called Donald Trump. And we need to stop pretending that it is. We are the problem. We allow our governments to tell our armies to bomb and drone innocent people while we watch cooking shows. We have believed, as long as we’ve been alive, whatever the media feed us, without any critical thought, which we reserve for choosing our next holiday destination.

The longer this braindead attitude prevails, the worse things will get, and the more Trumps will surface as leaders of their respective countries. And the longer the attitude prevails, the more anger we will spread in those parts of the world that do not belong to our ‘chosen’ societies. And for that we will have only ourselves to blame. Not Trump.