Links 5/30/14

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Growl From Ipanema Lures Purina to Largest Dog Population Bloomberg

The world’s spookiest underground cities – in pictures Guardian

Throwback Thursday: The 95th Anniversary of Relativity’s Confirmation Medium

‘Why did God make me like this?’: Parents share incredibly moving film about having a transgender son and why they decided to let her change gender and become a boy at age five Daily Mail

China’s property bust deepens MacroBusiness

Stumbling Thai economy lends urgency to junta’s revival efforts Reuters

Realty Investors Flock to Spain New York Times (furzy mouse). I said in passing last year I’d buy in Barcelona in a heartbeat if I had the dough.

Tsipras Calls Farage Monstrosity Created by Austerity Bloomberg

Egypt Vote Is More a Warning Than a Victory Bloomberg

Abbas Seeks a New Government That Would Seal Alliance With Hamas New York Times


US highlights ‘outside’ help to Ukraine rebels DW

Paramilitaries seize Donetsk rebels’ HQ Financial Times

Ukraine leader vows to crush rebels BBC

Russia’s economic decline looms large over Central Asia Open Democracy

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

NSA releases email in Snowden dispute Guardian. This is remarkably defensive.

Google bows to EU privacy ruling Financial Times

Big Money, the Koch Brothers and Me Politico. Take with a grain of salt. Prominently features the Obama canard that his 2008 election depended on small donors. Wrong wrong wrong. The overwhelming majority of his funding came from the usual suspects.

Former Counterterrorism Czar Richard Clarke: Bush, Cheney Committed War Crimes Huffington Post. This should not be news…but I gather it is.

Doctor Shortage Is Cited in Delays at V.A. Hospitals New York Times. Lambert points out that a critical part of this story is being badly underplayed. The VA allowed for outsiders (I assume non-vetrans) to buy into the system. That put more demands on resources when no more funding was provided. So no surprise more queuing and service degradation would result. So was this problem by accident or design?

Ford recalls nearly 1.4m US vehicles Financial Times


U.S. Said to Seek More Than $10 Billion Penalty From BNP Bloomberg. Notice the US gets tough only 1. When the target is a foreign bank and 2. The big crime is defying the security state (evading sanctions on Iran, among others).

How huge banks are born (Richard Smith)

Big investors top banks in repo market Financial Times

The New Normal is Negative Ilargi

Tranquil markets are enjoying too much of a good thing Gillian Tett, Financial Times

Is a College Education Worth a Skinned Eel? Bloomberg. One of the best courses I took in college (mainly because the prof was great and handed out a tough reading list to keep the class size small) was The Politics of Popular Education. I was naive enough then to think it would not be relevant to the US, that all these questions of the value of education and what sort of society we wanted to create were well settled. Silly me.

Bloomberg tells Harvard grads to “embrace a free exchange of ideas”… like he didn’t David Sirota, Pando

FT v. Piketty

Piketty Strikes Back WSJ Economics

Piketty Responds Mark Thoma

Not Another Piketty Symposium Jacobin

AMERICAN INEQUALITY WITH SENATOR ELIZABETH WARREN and ECONOMIST THOMAS PIKETTY Angry Bear (furzy mouse). This trips my cynicism meter. Warren does not need Piketty to sell this message.

Why Green Capitalism Will Fail CounterPunch

Antidote du jour:


See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Carolinian

    Thanks for Counterpunch link. The NY Times this morning has a big article on “cap and trade,” another example of trying to solve the disasters of capitalism with still more capitalism.

    The article says that while cap and trade has been blocked in the U.S., the European version has had flaky results because the assumption of good faith by all parties turned out to be untrue.

    1. taunger

      The problem with the Counterpunch link is that is it premised on a falsehood:

      The structural necessity of continual expansion is expressed in the mandate of corporations with stock traded on exchanges to maximize profits on behalf of their shareholders above all other considerations.

      There is much to deride about “green capitalism.” But I believe that this article creates more obstacles out of the current situation than need to exist.

  2. rusti

    The Guardian article on whether Snowden went through the proper whistle-blowing channels is one of the most bizarre things I’ve read yet. Who exactly was he supposed to blow the whistle to up the food chain that wasn’t already aware of what was happening? It would be like me working for Ford and blowing the whistle to management that we were developing a new F-150.

    1. Banger

      Indeed–going “through channels” is ridiculous on the face of it. If you go through channels in the government as a consultant to report some kind of wrongdoing odds are that you’ll never work again in the industry. How do I know this? I was an IT consultant to the government. Now, mind you, if you found something relatively low-status individuals were doing then ok, you could say something–but generally speaking if you are a consultant you do your job and keep your mouth shut–that’s the norm. I saw things I did not report because the people I would have reported to were doing the stuff….

        1. James Levy

          Just imagine this: all air traffic in the US is grounded, but the country that sent 15 of 19 terrorists to attack the United States gets to round up key nationals related to the terrorists and whisk them away, without being interrogated, on the only airplane sanctioned to fly. If Obama allowed that, he wouldn’t get a chance to be impeached–he’d have been assassinated as a Moslem Manchurian Candidate. The most unbelievable events post-9/11 are the ways in which Saudi Arabia was given a free pass by a nation out for blood. Saudis planned, financed, and executed the 9/11 attacks, but not a bomb, not a missile, not a spitball was thrown in their direction. Future historians, I hope, are flabbergasted by that fact. They can only assume that we were so hooked on oil that we’d allow our dealer to rape our sister in order to get our fix.

          1. Working Class Nero

            I have been preaching exactly this point for a long time. And if take into account that we not only let the Saudis get away scot-free with this crime, we actually used it to justify attacking another country (Iraq). It would be as if in retaliation for Pearl Harbor we declared war on Korea instead of Japan.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              I think we did…at that time, Korea was part of the Dai Nippon Empire.

              Still, I get your point.

          2. gepay

            I doubt that ” Saudis planned, financed, and executed the 9/11 attacks…”. I do think they were a junior partner below who benefited the most , the US national security-military- industrial complex. Also below who benefited the 2nd most – Israel – Asked tonight what the attack meant for relations between the United States and Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, the former prime minister, replied, “It’s very good.” – Haaretz
            Or later at Bar Ilan University, “We are benefiting from one thing, and that is the attack on the Twin Towers and Pentagon, and the American struggle in Iraq,” Ma’ariv quoted the former prime minister as saying. He reportedly added that these events “swung American public opinion in our favor.”
            It is obvious that the Saudis played a part probably through Prince “Bandar Bush whose wife sent money to 2 of the FBI identified hijackers in California as one instance.
            (Interestingly those hijackers spent some time with an FBI informant who was not allowed to be questioned in the 911 Commission Inquiry. IIf a limited hangout was called for, Pakistan ISI was going to be blamed but by waving the wand of conspiracy theorists yada dada dada at skeptics of the official fairy tale like
            Andreas Von Bulow who served as secretary of state in the German Federal Ministry of Defense and Minister for Research and Technology, both during the Chancellor Helmut Schmidt administration. He served for 25 years as an SPD member of the German parliament (1969-1994). In the late eighties and early nineties, he served on the parliamentary committee on intelligence services. This committee supervises German intelligence agencies and has access to classified information.
            “The official story (of 911) is so farfetched and inadequate…there must be a different one.”
            But conspiracy theory labeling worked fine so no limited hangout fall guys were necessary. So now the President can authorize the killing of US citizens – the CIA killed a 16 year old American citizen in Yemen because he had the wrong father – or maybe he was in the wrong car at the time. The President can now tell the military to take you away and secure you in a military prison and you don’t get to call a lawyer or anybody.

            1. Banger

              Thanks for bringing this up. The fact is that 9/11 is one of those subjects that progressives won’t discuss. They accept, except for a miniscule minority (Michael Parenti and a few others), the government/media account of the 9/11 story which, btw, makes no sense at all other than offer a fantastic conspiracy theory wherein the government did not even attempt to prove let alone present any forensic evidence for. If this were a one of a kind event then the gov’t deserves a benefit of the doubt but because 9/11 resembles other public catastrophes including three major assassinations in the 1960s which forensic evidence directly contradicts the government/media assertions (check the RFK autopsy report).

              As long as the left persists in taking part in the deliberate suppression of debate on Deep Politics it will never have influence or power. I really don’t know what happened on 9/11 but I am 100% sure that the official story is false.

              1. gepay

                Why people like Chomsky or Amy Goodman or Counterpunch or ….avoid any investigation of conspiracy theory contentions is complicated. The main fact is – if you say you don’t believe the government story you will be locked out of the mainstream. You certainly won’t be the main person on an NPR TV show. Even though he had won a Pullitzer Prize Gary Webb who just said the CIA let the Nicarauguan contras bring in cocaine to finance themselves ended up dying with 2 bullets to the head.
                These people are reformers who believe the system could work if it was changed and the best way to change it is take part. The farthest Michael Moore would go was to suggest they ‘Let It Happen on Purpose’ (LIHOP). Even people like John Pilgar just don’t go there – he does good work exposing other malignancies. The system actually works fine for Chomsky – he has a good day job at MIT and gets to criticize the system internationally. I imagine they also believe they can find more than enough problems and lunacies of the system that they can document like William Blum does. I like him because he actually criticizes Israel and if you read him you will notice that he doesn’t just parrot the official line about 911. Trying to get documented proof that 911 was an inside job would be like falling down the rabbit hole. I can say I wasted a lot of time sorting out 911 that I could have better spent making my life work better.

          3. Banger

            James, I don’t agree with the story that the Saudis, by themselves, were responsible for 9/11. This was a much bigger operation involving Saudi, Pakistani, and U.S. intel. What I do know for sure is that the official narrative is demonstrably false–it’s utter nonsense. The sad part is that there is so little curiosity about the subject that has literally destroyed forever the U.S. Republic and the Constitution. Little has been said about PNACs call for a “new Pearl Harbor.” And there has been no investigation into the events using forensic evidence–no normal procedure was followed for a plane crash or to examine the collapse of three buildings two of which were designed to withstand plane crashes–in fact, if as some believe, the WTC towers were built with inferior materials then there should have been a look at that. Instead the crime scene was quickly mopped up and evidence destroyed.

            One of the reasons I am a short-term pessimist is that the left in the U.S. will not tolerate any debate on the subject of what happened and who was responsible for 9/11. That’s why, mainly to myself, I view the American left with a handful of exceptions, the Stasi Left. And I’m not even speaking about the phony Democratic Party “left” I’m talking Chomsky and his followers. No one will touch these things on the left other than write hysterical denunciations like Alex Cockburn and Matthew Rothschild wrote around the same time when there was a buzz developing around the issue. Cockburn’s piece is especially worth looking at because it is almost humorous in its childishness.

            1. James Levy

              I respect your position, and think that Atta was at least in the pay of the Germans, the Israelis, and was also a free agent in cahoots with the bin Laden organization. But I think 9/11 was executed by those 19 guys, and 15 of them were Saudis, and that’s were the money has been coming from for radical Islamist militants since they and the CIA started funding the Mujihadeen in Afghanistan over 30 years ago.

              I think an honest examination of 9/11 would reveal tons of imbecility, lots of people being played for suckers, many right hands not talking to left hands, and a manic desire to protect sources and cover up who was getting money from whom (the Saudis, the CIA, Mossad, the Pakistanis, the Germans, perhaps one or two more). You see this in the charade around the missing Indonesian jet liner. The Americans at least have signals intel working 24/7 that would, if you look back at the data, reveal where the plane was and where it went–ditto optical satellites and even more importantly, SOSUS, the vast array of underwater listening devices the US uses to monitor Russian, Chinese, and everyone else’s submarines. If that black box pinged even once, the US listening posts got a fix on it (they can detect a sub that uses only one active sonar ping just about anywhere under the seven seas). These capabilities are well know to our “competitors”. But the US government hides what happened because they don’t want to confirm any capability they have (even if Russian and Chinese spies found out years ago, and even if we KNOW they found out years ago). This kind of security mania, plus a desire to shield “allies” who were paying off the hijackers, and to hide incompetence, is, in my opinion, behind most of the bullshit surrounding what really happened on 9/11.

          1. sd

            Google “Iron man” and Joint Forces Intelligence Command. Congress never spoke with the intelligence officers who were actually tracking Al Qaeda prior to 9/11

            The big question, why?

  3. Kevin Snow

    V.A. Problems, To understand the problems I would suggest a Movie “Article 99 1992”
    Towards the end of the movie the director of the V.A. says “Crap does float to the top”.

    Waiting list scandal is just skimming the top of the barrel.

    Vet. U.S. Navy 83-93

  4. ambrit

    After reading Ilargis piece, I side clicked over and ended up on Peak Oil reading about the coming decline in Saudi Arabian oil production , focusing on the Gwahar field. The decline evidently has already begun, and future production will rely on increasingly expensive extraction methods. If you do get to Oil Price, do read down the comments section. Some of the technical comments are eye opening. I may be looking at raising GMO horses for a living. (You know, the ones crossed with goats so they can eat anything you give them.)

  5. diptherio

    Re: Egypt Vote Is More a Warning Than a Victory–Bloomberg

    The cognitive dissonance on display here is quite stunning (all emphasis added):

    It’s not surprising that so many Egyptians would find no reason to vote. Apart from the lack of suspense in the race, they want their basic security and economic needs addressed, and nothing El-Sisi has done since seizing power has made them confident he will deliver. In the past three years, two Egyptian presidents who failed to create jobs and prosperity have fallen after popular protests (the coup against Mursi followed a wave of demonstrations), and this week’s ambivalent result shows the same can happen again. [snip]

    To become an effective leader, El-Sisi needs to lay out a clear economic vision — something Mursi never did. This will have to involve some painful measures, including a reduction in unaffordable energy subsidies, tax reform and a strategy to shrink the country’s budget deficit, which last year hit 14 percent of economic output. In order to tolerate the pain such reforms will bring, Egyptians must trust that the president will deliver jobs, and not dismiss a third of the population as “terrorists.”

    How should El-Sisi go about addressing his populations economic security needs? By making fuel and electricity more expensive and reducing public spending (i.e. reducing income to the domestic economy). Genius! Right? It must be, because it’s so f*cking counter-intuitive that I can’t for the life of me figure out how increasing domestic costs while lowering domestic income is going to do much to create jobs or to reassure the populace that their dictator really does have their best interests at heart.

    And check out how Bloomberg tries hard to conflate political freedom with de-regulation:

    This is a moment for El-Sisi to change course. To demonstrate that he plans to serve all Egyptians, including the many who didn’t vote for him, he should reopen the country’s political space to all nonviolent parties, including the Muslim Brotherhood; dismantle those parts of the old-regime bureaucracy that hinder investment and growth; and create the kind of economic and legal climate in which companies will invest and create jobs.

    He should re-open public spaces to non-violent parties…right–because it would be a shame for the Gov’t to have competition in the violent political party category (“Since last year’s coup, when security forces killed more than 1,000 pro-Mursi protesters, at least 20,000 people have been jailed and hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood leaders and supporters have been sentenced to death in mass show trials. “)

    And also de-reg! It’s worked out so freakin’ well in the US, you Egyptians need to get you some too!

    The Arab world’s most populous nation may not yet be ready for a functioning democracy. But El-Sisi should not expect Egyptians to go back to passively accepting the kind of visionless authoritarian rule they tolerated before the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak, in 2011. He should focus less on destroying his political opponents and more on fixing the economy.

    The editors at Bloomberg View wouldn’t know a functioning democracy if it buggered them with a day-old baguette. I’d say that a populace who has recently overthrown a long-running military dictatorship through mass protest is probably the most ready for democracy that you’re likely to find. BV’s editors are so committed to democracy that they gently critique the tyrant for his tyrannical ways, and encourage him to open his country wider for foreign plunder.

    One has to wonder if they actually believe this tripe while their writing it, or if they’re LOLing and ROFLing the whole time…

    1. ewmayer

      Nice post, diphtherio – but one of your quoted snips contains a key phrase whose importance in understanding the huge economic challenges faced by Egypt and other countries following its particular variant of the “exponential groaf 4ever” [EG4E] delusion, namely “The Arab world’s most populous nation”. Here’s a recent piece from The Guardian on this subject:

      Egyptian population explosion worsens social unrest

      The toxic effects of “spreading the truth of Islam by outbreeding the infidels” religio-economics. It is of course as un-PC to speak of such things in plain terms in most of the MSM as it is to question other manifestations of the EG4E groaf-worshipping cargo-cultishness, such as “is more GDP really the cure for what ails us?”

      1. hunkerdown

        If they can’t get their entitled 3% annual groaf forevar by productivity gains, they gotta get it from population gains. (Are the USA’s ever-shifting reproductive self-determination policies correlated with economic performance indicators? Would that a copy of Mathematica and a few nice data sets would just magic themselves into being before me.)

  6. craazyman

    oh man all you MMTers are getting the hammer over on Jesse’s blog. holy smokes what a pounding for you guys. It’s almost like the raised arm of Michaelangelo’s Christ with all you MMTers falling headlong into the infinitely lightless pit of delusional-mind-bedlam like pieces of candy from a smashed piñata, filmed and played in slow motion with a Wagner symphony musically illustrating the implacable and relentlessly resolute force of thanatic gravitation. That’s what it looks like to me anyway, in a mind flash. I have to say, he has a point! Try it in Memphis first and see if it works. If it does, roll it out on the river, but only boat by boat, and with a close eye on the Captain and the wheel. This isn’t “Pirates of the Carribean” here, this is real.

        1. craazyboy

          Creedence Clearwater Revival preceded John Fogerty, but John Fogerty and Suzy Q both existed simultaneously on Creedence Clearwater Revival’s first album.

          It’s an enigma.

          1. Reader

            I beg to differ. And as I could lean out my back door in El Cerrito in the 60’s and hear them tuning up in the garage before I jumped the fence and sat on the concrete listening to them practice I’ll tell ya that Tom, Doug and Stu more than carried their weight in that band. That was back when they called themselves The Golliwogs before changing the name of the band to Creedence Clearwater Revival. Creedence was all four of them, not just John, no matter how much he wanted it to be true. BTW, Tom, Doug and Stu were all nice easy-going guys. John was a prick. Every day. All day. Good musician though.

            1. craazyboy

              Ok, you got me with the Golliwogs thing.

              But you reminded me of a youtube vid when CCR was live on Ed Sullivan, I think. The original band did Down On The Corner (Willi and the Poor Boys) all playing homemade “poor boy” instruments like washboards and garbage cans for drums. And it sounded great!

              Just tried searching youtube for it again, but unfortunately couldn’t find it.

    1. Jim Haygood

      If you’re sufficiently blissed out in MMT’s stately pleasure dome of E-Z money, free beer and hot milfs, you don’t even feel the brickbats of real-world censure raining down on your head and shoulders.

      But through the dense hookah smoke at UMKC, a nightmarish apparition is heaving into view. Remember Greenspan’s swan song, when in mid-2004 he started hiking rates from 1% in quarter-point baby steps — a job which he handed off to Bernanke in early 2006? It took two years to halt the real estate bubble, but braking stocks took another year still (Oct. 2007), and crude oil’s rampage didn’t stop till July 2008.

      The horrid scenario we face is that not only will Bubble III ignore the entire taper, but also it may shrug off the first couple of years of ‘baby step’ rate hikes which don’t even start till next year. Give Bubble III two or three more years, and house prices could be back to their 2006 record, with the S&P closing in on 2,700.

      Long before then, poor Dr. Hussman will be carted off to a comfortable private asylum, gibbering about ‘full cycle returns’ and ’99th percentile CAPE ratios.’ He’ll be just one particle of the mass of human wreckage left in the wake of J-Yel’s ‘MMT on acid’ experiment with infinite credit expansion.

      1. craazyman

        I know. I know. It’s hard as a nail in the head to get rich quick going short these days. The Doctor had me going short last year. I think he’ll be right eventually but God knows when, maybe never. Now I’m tired. Now I need to drown myself in free beer and hot milfs, but not if they’re expensive!

        1. craazyboy

          I suspect that hot milfs in NYC ARE expensive, but if worst comes to worst, I think soon J-Yel will be on the cover of People Mag, perhaps with a centerfold too!

          That would make lots and lots and lots of free beer necessary, however.

          1. inode_buddha

            Its still better than that menage a trois with Janet Reno and Margaret Thatcher a few yrs ago….

      2. Chauncey Gardiner

        @ Jim Haygood,

        Respectfully disagree with your “J-Yel’s ‘MMT on acid’ spin. Wasn’t it Ben who implemented the quadrupling of the Fed’s balance sheet under successive QE-ZIRP programs?

        In any event, the candy boyz @FRB-Treasury and their allies at the Primary Dealer(s) have IMO again placed the markets on the precipice of negative yield terrain that could last for several years. Will be interesting to see if they pursue that last 15%-20% of manic buying… the testosterone-endorphin phase of the greed rush. I rather suspect they can taste it.

        QE-ZIRP rocket fuel, massive stock repurchases, leveraged Junk bond ETFs, huge orchestrated short squeezes, HFT algos, etc. Golly, what could possibly go wrong?

        I agree with Gillian Tett at the Financial Times in her linked post regarding her second possible reason for low volatility: … “markets have been so distorted by heavy government interference since 2008 that investors are frozen.” … “Far from being a sign of sunny confidence in the future, ultra-low volatility may show that investors have lost faith that markets work.”

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          It’s funny, but perhaps not surprising, that, of all the gin joints in the world, MMT money had to walk into the bubbling markets.

          But nothing surprises anymore when it comes to Big Brother Murphy…

          1. Chauncey Gardiner

            Thanks, Prime.

            Does MMT money HAVE to walk (or run) into the bubbling markets?…

            Of course not. In fact, that is one of the charms of MMT: There need be no nexus between MMT, the Fed and bubbling markets.

            Intentionally conflating?… You be the judge.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              MMT Money walks, runs and jumps, looking at how much an NBA basketball team can fetch these days.

              The interesting thing is, if you try to wean the public off the professional sports addiction, there will be real ‘change’ in a hurry.

        2. craazyboy

          We have a serious timing issue. So hard to tell how long it lasts. I remember pre-crash, around ’06 maybe, some people were talking about “sandpile theory”. It’s like Minsky for Arabs or something. Their explanation is things pile up like a sand pile, then one grain of sand comes along and starts the landslide.

          Obviously there is a problem collecting data to make this model useful.

        3. Jim Haygood

          Wasn’t it Ben who implemented the quadrupling of the Fed’s balance sheet under successive QE-ZIRP programs?

          It was indeed. Where J-Yel is about to repeat Ben’s mistake (and Greenspan’s) is with the ‘baby steps’ routine. They’re going to take most of 2014 to finish the taper, and then maybe (if we don’t get another weak GDP report) actually start gently clicking the Fed Funds rate up by a quarter point per meeting in 2015.

          Bubble III can eat these milquetoast pinpricks for breakfast, and keep on roaring.

          If policy needs to be tightened, the Fed should just issue an explanation and crank rates up a couple of points to where they belong. But this isn’t about responsible policy; it’s about winking at bubbles as Big Finance engorges itself again (and the next anencephalic TBTF bank loads up on junk credits that will blow it sky high).

          What did that Santayana dude say about remembering the past? Hell, I forget …

    2. Paul Niemi

      I saw that MMT stuff. OK, maybe take it kinda seriously, but here’s a history lesson: In the old days, money was scarce, a man might get paid once a year, if ever. People had charge accounts then. The economy still grew. Later, economists were invented, and they made money plentiful and easy to get, so the ‘20s roared, but then there was a Great Depression because something was missing. Obviously it was economic stimulus. This is where economists literally shove money down your throat, like fattening a goose. Can you sign your name? Good, here is a million dollar mortgage, a granite countertop and an SUV, all at zero interest! But something went wrong. People didn’t have enough economic “confidence” and that obviously caused a Great Recession. What was needed was guaranteed jobs for everyone, obviously. This is where MMT comes in, and it’s what they are doing in China to produce the economic miracle. Just go $25 Trillion into debt over 14 years to provide full-employment with a GNP over half from fixed-asset investment while creating two million billionaires from every party member, or something like that. Got to take that seriously. What could possibly go wrong?

    3. Benedict@Large

      MMT is double-entry bookkeeping. That’s all it is. 100%. If you have a problem with MMT, you have a problem with double-entry bookkeeping. Take it up with a CPA. Tell him he doesn’t know what he’s doing.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Is that like breaking in and entering is just a matter of physics about body movements, pocket-picking just some hand placements?

      2. yenwoda

        Every other school of macroeconomics invokes the same accounting identity, i.e. tautology, as MMT. That is not special. And it doesn’t prove any of them right or wrong, just sets the limits of the debate, which is broadly about which bits of the equation go up when other bits go down and vice versa… And certainly claims about currency deriving most (all?) of its value from its usefulness as a tax payment medium is more philosophy than accounting.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I would also add that being internally consistent doesn’t imply validity, though inconsistency tends to undermines it (though life itself is full of contradictions that we meekly try to cope with).

      3. F. Beard

        Government privileges means the liabilities of the banking system as a WHOLE are almost entirely VIRTUAL. Does the MMT gang intend to correct that or just continue the masquerade of hiding the truth behind balance sheet sophistry?

  7. Andrew Watts

    RE: NSA releases email in Snowden dispute

    There is no evidence that he tried to go through official channels and now they managed to produce one email. Hallelujah! It’s a miracle.

    “The denial was repeated by the White House, which went further than it normally does when asked by an NBC reporter about the possibility of Snowden’s return to the US and stated: “Clemency is not on the table.”“
    What I’d like to know is why people in the US government who think he absconded with over a million documents want to keep him in Russia? In the NBC interview Snowden seemed confident for a man with little to no control over his destiny.

    RE: Former Counterterrorism Czar Richard Clarke: Bush, Cheney Committed War Crimes

    The full interview of Richard Clarke should be interesting.

    1. hunkerdown

      You won’t know for decades, if ever, so you’ll just have to work it out with the rest of us. My first thought is that, while neoliberal elites intend to stomp the dignity of any and every public office or effect into the ground, they are at the same time *very* interested in preserving the prestige and power of the office for as long as it has utility value. Take Holder’s comment in that light: chest-puffery.

      As to the other game of why they would keep him there, I see planes being painted by ground radar to guide the SAM to its target. In other words, a demoralized IC perhaps needs an Emmanuel Goldstein “licensed character” to focus their minds.

      1. Andrew Watts

        Not sure about the Goldstein scenario. The audacious actions undertaken by Snowden are wholly unprecedented. There was probably a worst case scenario for what a serious network breach would look like but compared to what he actually did it is likely far worse.

        They’re running out of time to contain any more of this. I’ve been operating under the assumption that the Russians wouldn’t press too hard while media attention has been focused on him. When the music stops that game is going to change quickly. It’s time to start worrying now.

        If the Obama Administration’s statements can be taken at face value than they will dither until it is too late. Then the Russian government will find out how much Snowden knows as it is painfully extracted from him one piece at a time. Amnesty is really a small price to pay when you consider the possible damage that will be inflicted on the US intelligence community in the future. It’d also spare Snowden from what’s not going to be an awesome experience.

        1. hunkerdown

          They are unprecedented, in degree at the very least. Sure, it’s a “500-year tsunami” situation, and all one can really do in that case is to retain or reclaim operational capabilities to the extent possible and keep serving intelligence customers and objectives. But America does love its St. Augustine, and St. Augustine did love his vengeance stories, and vengeance stories are good at motivating those who feel they’re wronged. (for clarity, I’m responding to “why does the USA keep him there?” In short, a picture for the dartboard.)

          Thinking about it, if his visa doesn’t expire for another year at least, and the grand finale story we’re all waiting for is only a month or two away, and FSB does have any reason to believe he knows something interesting, well, I hope he can prove otherwise to their satisfaction, quickly. For the USA’s part, it’s better business to let him be seen suffering whatever consequences others wish to visit upon him — mercy is for the Owners. If there were imminent danger of him relaying something really important, I imagine any current plan to get him home and dressed in a turtle suit for a no-slumber party and a game of Truth or Consequences gets scuttled in favor of a (regrettable) freak gardening accident. But to let disloyalty go unpunished would not fit into the political class’s supreme narrative of group loyalty and market Providence. Our Precious Essence. Not Yours!

          1. Andrew Watts

            Oops! I didn’t see this earlier. Undoubtedly the organs of the national security state want vengeance. In any case they’re not likely to get it. Part of the reason why they’ve hidden the extent of their surveillance programs is because they do in fact care what people think. As long as a majority of people believe Snowden is a hero they won’t harm him.

            “FSB does have any reason to believe he knows something interesting, well, I hope he can prove otherwise to their satisfaction, quickly. ”

            That’s not going to happen. In a lot of ways Snowden has been his own worst enemy. In the initial Guardian interview there was the ill-advised disclosure over the existence of a… life insurance policy. The latest NBC interview featured Snowden gloating over the fact he was a highly trained spy and he’s also a horrible liar. So you can probably see why I think amnesty is the best possible outcome for every American concerned.

            Whether that’s possible (or even realistic) at this point I don’t know. I usually anticipate Washington to do the wrong thing in any given situation. This time won’t be any different.

  8. DRR

    “Realty Investors Flock to Spain”
    2 Thoughts:

    The same banks that were bailed by their sovereigns because of risky real estate are now buying their stuff back at reduce prices why the countries real economy lingers..

    Spain’s 159 billion euros of distressed real estate is small potatoes in the global hunt for yield and those assets should be over bid in no time…

    1. McMike

      The “crisis” is right out of shock doctrine, a deliberate/opportunistic policy of crashing widely held asset values, and severely restricting public purchasing power, then providing the elite with free cash and carte blanche to buy up the now-“impaired” prime assets at fire sale prices.

      It’s a nifty legal version of the window repairman who throws rocks through windows and night to drive up business.

      And the end result is concentrated ownership of prime assets. aka Officially sanctioned and subsidized property theft.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I’ve always dreamed about tending sheep and making Iraty cheese in the Pyrenees.

      I wonder if sheep are on discount as well.

      Some cheap transhumance hut for the summer and maybe an apartment in San Sebastian during the winter months.

      I just hope they are not too violently angry about carpetbaggering Norte Americanos.

      1. ambrit

        It might depend on whether you reside in Aragon, Catalonia, Navarre, the Basque Republic, Andorra, Provence, or Aquitaine.
        Maybe you’ll get lucky and find the Horn of Roland!

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          To make the pilgrimage to Santiago Compostela, one would have to go through most, if not all, of those places, with a stop at Pamplona.

          I understand, for those less brave, instead of Running of the Bulls, one can participate in the less dangerous Running of the Chickens…or, rumor has it, Running of the Amazing Amazon Chicks, only cuckolds are eligible.

          1. ambrit

            Dear MLTPB;
            Since the Running of the Bulls is, I believe, a late version of a very old fertility rite, added to the old visual cues for cuckoldry, “Look, look! Hanging up there over the fireplace! Is that, are those? No, no, it can’t be!” you have just enlightened us with the mythographers definition of Horny.
            I feel like the old Year King on the day before winter solstice. Where did the time go?

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Is that Peter O’Tool singing ‘Dreaming the Impossible Dream’ about being a shepherd in the shadow of Picos de Europa?

  9. Charles LeSeau

    The best courses I took in college were piano lessons and a course on piano literature with world renowned pianist Yvar Mikhashoff (RiP).
    Were they worth a skinned eel?

    Yes, to me – worth tons of skinned eels; innumerable skinned eels. You can’t count how many skinned eels it was worth to me. Would do again.
    No, to the trash who think it has anything to do with being employable or with my net worth. People look at me like I’m an alien when I tell them I went to college to learn things I didn’t know, and not to get a career. This culture sucks eggs.

    1. optimader

      … I went to college to learn things I didn’t know, and not to get a career….

      I went to college to do both

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        With the commercialization of academic degrees, more and more young people assume college is for getting a career.

        We need people like you and Charles to remind the rest of us that college can be for learning (only) as well.

        1. optimader

          Peter O’Tool was a pretty cool … Very much a salt of the earth self-made Irish guy.
          “When did I realize I was God? Well, I was praying and I suddenly realized I was talking to myself.”

          Some friends and I back in the early 90’s rented a place called Casa Kimberly in Puerto Vallarta that had just been sold, previously acquired and owned by his pal Richard Burton when filming “Night of the Iguana” in the early 1960’s. When it was sold it was left like an abandoned witness protection program safe house, kinda creepy w/ all their stuff left intact. O’Tool, until his death last December had a casa around the corner.
          Burton and O’Tool were high functionality codependent alcoholics. So I have read, just uncanny amounts of booze. Volumetrically, far more a day than I can even drink of water. Amazing how people fall into that. Must have been made of pretty solid genetic stock that he lasted into his 80’s.

          1. optimader

            interesting, my comment parked itself one thread down..

            college, for me at least was more for learning how to learn. Yeah, obviously if you take advantage of it, you get ~four years of head packing, but the real deal is that for average or even above average intelligence people it should be considered the Express Ticket for learning how to think. Brilliant people, it’s maybe irrelevant because they will get there anyway. For 50% of the population that is below average, it’s probably mostly just a waste of time and money.

    2. inode_buddha

      I majored in art. And yes some of my instructors made 6-figures with their art at the time (corporate clients). I support bacteria because its the only culture some people have.

  10. mk

    Big Money, the Koch Brothers and Me Politico. Take with a grain of salt. Prominently features the Obama canard that his 2008 election depended on small donors. Wrong wrong wrong. The overwhelming majority of his funding came from the usual suspects.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ this reminds me that in 2008 at an Obama for America meeting I pointed out to everyone that Goldman SACKS-USA gave Obama almost $1 million in campaign contributions, that it could be a sign that he’s not going to do anything about the banks. Boy did the folks in that meeting get defensive, I got shouted down, just like the guy who kept pushing for single payer….

    1. ambrit

      Thanks rjs. I got to there in a very roundabout way and had to backtrack something fierce to get back to it. It may be old news to ‘insiders,’ but average joes haven’t a clue. I was more impressed with the tutorial in the comments section on various ways of ‘enhancing’ oil recovery from various fields. The implied threat that places like China will ‘have to’ increase the burning of coal for energy production was a cautionary tale in and of itself.

  11. Johann Sebastian Schminson

    Doctor Shortage Is Cited in Delays at V.A. Hospitals

    Once again, Bernie Sanders nails it, with this:

    “If you listen to the remarks made by the Republican senators, what they were saying is this is an expensive piece of legislation, and the answer is to some degree, it is. And my response has been, and always will be, if you are not prepared to take care of the men and women who put their lives on the line to defend this country, who came back wounded in body wounded in spirit. If you’re not prepared to help those people, then don’t send them to war in the first place.”

    The only flaw in Sander’s statement is the idea that these wounded soldiers were in any sense, “defending” our country.

  12. Lambert Strether

    On the Veterans Administration: I’m told that the current state of affairs was prepared for when policy was changed to allow the “Section 8” population into the system. I’d welcome more information and especially links; there is certainly another crapification post to be had here. Thank you!

    1. VietnamVet

      By section 8 I think you mean low income vets. I guess you don’t think they deserve medical care? Just service connected vets? 50% of the Gulf War I Vets have a service connected disability. The percentage will be even higher for Veterans of the Forever Wars after four or five combat tours. Politicians of both parties are doing their damndest not to raise taxes on the rich to pay for the wars and the aftermath. If you are overwhelmed by too many patients and not enough staff, things fall apart.

      Underfund, Scandalize, then privatization. This is Neo-Liberal takeover plan in operation.

      The real scandal is the globalization of war, now on Europe’s doorstep and American Government and NGOs support of jihadists and neo-nazi mercenaries to fight our wars in Syria and Ukraine. More Bang for your Bucks if there is no jihadist blowback like before and especially no WWIII.

      1. run75441


        You got that right: but, I always thought they could get VA healthcare “if” they were below a certain state income.

        For Geographic-Based financial assessment (means test) information refer to

        Lambert. If a Veteran is below a certain income they qualify also.

        USMC Sgt E-5 68-71

        There has “always” been a shortage of primary care doctors and to make matters worse, the VA pays them less than private healthcare does.
        The PPACA has within it a skewing of increased $ to primary care doctors at the expense of specialists.

        I do not go to the VA for healthcare as others need it more than I do who can not afford to go elsewhere. I use private insurance and soon Medicare. I can always come back later.

  13. craazyboy

    “U.S. Said to Seek More Than $10 Billion Penalty From BNP Bloomberg. Notice the US gets tough only 1. When the target is a foreign bank and 2. The big crime is defying the security state (evading sanctions on Iran, among others). ”

    Yes, certainly a clear signal from WDC to Wall Street that they are on the same side. I’ve wondered a bit why we don’t get retaliatory enforcement on our banks by the EU?? They must be afraid to piss off the USG for some reason or another.

  14. Benedict@Large

    Re: “the Obama canard that his 2008 election depended on small donors”

    What actually happened is that Obama raked in as much from small donors as Bush collected in total four years earlier. Both however had identical breakouts between small and large donors; large donors gave three times as much as small donors did.

  15. Ulysses

    Something rotten in Denmark? Charlie Skelton reports from Kobenhavn:

    “The Bilderberg Group says the conference has no desired outcome. But for private equity giants, and the heads of banks, arms manufacturers and oil companies, there’s always a desired outcome. Try telling the shareholders of Shell that there’s “no desired outcome” of their chairman and chief executive spending three days in conference with politicians and policy makers.

    Try telling that to the lobbyists who have been working so hard to push the Transatlantic Trade Investment Partnership (TTIP) deal that is being negotiated. Bilderberg is packed to the gills with senior members of powerful lobby groups. Will members of BritishAmerican Business’s international advisory board, such as Douglas Flint and Peter Sutherland, express BAB’s fervent support of TTIP when discussing “Is the economic recovery sustainable?” Or will they leave their lobbying hats at the door?

    MP Michael Meacher describes Bilderberg as “the cabal of the rich and powerful” who are working “to consolidate and extend the grip of the markets”. And they’re doing so “beyond the reach of the media or the public”. That said, every year, the press probes a little further behind the security fencing. Every year the questions for the politicians who attend, but remain silent, get harder.

    They can try to laugh it off as a “talking shop” or a glorified knees-up, but these people haven’t come to Bilderberg to drink fizzy wine and pull party poppers. It’s possible that Reid Hoffman, the head of LinkedIn, has turned up for the birthday cake. But I doubt it. This is big business. And big politics. And big lobbying.”

    At least we know that Alex Karp is only there for the caviar, lol. At least David Petraeus will lend a tone of high moral seriousness to the whole occasion!

    1. James Levy

      I remember my mother listening to Long John Nebel’s radio show when I was a kid and hearing about the Trilateral Commission. People at the time swore that the Trilateral Commission didn’t exist. I mean it was dogma in the MSM that there was no Trilateral Commission. Today, it is just barely, but only just barely, respectable to admit that the Bilderberg Group actually exists. But like Bohemian Grove, the official line seems to be Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Pursue. What most mainstream critics of conspiracies never get is that many of these conspiratorial groups are right out in the open. What protects them is their opacity and the fact that nobody will ask probing questions about them, not that they are in any way secret.

      1. craazyboy

        At least nowadays we get a Wiki on the tri-lats:

        It even quotes one of our media talking heads……but it sounds like Charles didn’t get invited – sour grapes.

        Conservative pundit Charles Krauthammer sardonically alluded to the conspiracy theories when he was asked in 2012 who makes up the “Republican establishment”, saying, “Karl Rove is the president. We meet every month on the full moon… [at] the Masonic Temple. We have the ritual: Karl brings the incense, I bring the live lamb and the long knife, and we began… with a pledge of allegiance to the Trilateral Commission.”[13]

  16. MarcoPolo

    “I said in passing last year I’d buy in Barcelona in a heartbeat if I had the dough.”
    I always wanted a place down the coast but now that I could have it I don’t want it anymore.

    1. optimader

      I agree Marco Polo..I love Spain, a great place to rent an apartment w/ friends for a vacation, high value, fantastic history –The Prado, Goya, the food, the people,… But buying real estate there?? Maybe not so much..

    2. RanDomino

      Barcelona seems like the one place in the world where civilization not only survives but thrives. Witness last week’s mass civil defense of the Can Vies social center.

  17. alex morfesis

    beware of greeks bearing drinks

    captain tsipouras is drunk with stupidity. Acting like a typical greek slacker on Fokionos Negri in Athens, screaming at his mother (merkel) to send him money so he can buy a new outfit and no he is not coming back to the island to make money picking olives from the trees, even if he can make 30 grand doing it…its just beneath him…go clean more houses and send money…

    seriously, he has no sustainable plan, other than to act like some small village waiting for a USAID handout.

    Greece has no ESOP legislation, no decent bankruptcy regiment you can count on, and an unstable tax system that changes three times a year. Yes the germans never paid a dime towards the gold they stole from the central bank during ww2 and no, they never signed any agreements with greece, except that any settlement would have to wait until the germanies were unified…and when that happened, the greeks were told to wait for the east german side to stop being a burden…

    although, if tsipouras wanted to be cute, he would just say he wants to be like the germans, who have twice ignored the money they owed and defaulted. It worked out for them pretty good. The government of Berlin was insolvent ten years ago (as in bankrupt, not on paper, actually bankrupt), but no one makes any hay about it…

    it must be nice to start a couple of wars, never pay your bills, get the conqueror to spend trillions protecting you from the russians and than fart at anyone who suggests you are not being clever…

    tsipouro is the real heavy stuff greeks drink, ouzo is for wimps…

    drink up hellas if you are going to vote for economic suicide

    1. OIFVet

      I think I would pick suicide over being murdered… The samurai were very honorable in giving the vanquished opponent the dignity of committing seppuku rather than offing him outright.

        1. OIFVet

          I was thinking more along the line of a Bushido code for the modern age, where one stands for one’s principles to the end even if doing so is ultimately suicidal. Suicide by executioner, if you will. Much better than meek submission to the slow, perverted, and painful murder modern day sociopaths delight in.

      1. Gerard Pierce

        I’m not absolutely sure about this one, but my recollection is that “allowing” the defeated enemy to commit seppuku was not exactly how it worked. The only literary reference I can recall is a brief passage in Clavel’s “Shogun”. The defeated killed themselves to keep the victors from getting their hands on them. Capture or surrender led to an exceptionally nasty death.

  18. JTFaraday

    re: Antidote du jour

    Whereupon we begin to suspect that one cat’s little piggy is another cat’s bacon…

  19. OIFVet

    Re: Purina. What a load of focus group driven stinky stool. “The result is six varieties of dog food that Purina’s Merce says “captures the essence” of Brazil.” How about pet food that captures the essence of what the pet’s physiology requires? Just like the food corporations have crapified human food, so have they crapified pet food. Purina is responsible for its fair share of obese and diabetic pets. Feeding grains and other additives to carnivores whose digestive system is not geared to process them is just another form of corporate focus grouped cruelty.

    1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

      My cat already rejects any food not served tapas-style. Pretty soon, he’ll be insisting on fresh tuna belly.

  20. Roland

    @ diptherio 10:15 AM,

    re: Egypt. Capitalists are still upset that their boy, Gamal Mubarak (Hosni’s son), whom they had groomed for years to follow a strict neoliberal line, has been denied the succession.

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