Links 4/20/15

Lobster restaurant apologizes after its ban on ‘small screaming children’ leads to backlash from parents on social media Daily Mail

Iceland looks at ending boom and bust with radical money plan Independent. Important!

Ex-IMF president Rodrigo Rato arrested on criminal charges Politics in the Zeros

Hot Topics From the Weekend’s IMF Meetings Bloomberg

Fed Crisis-Liquidity Function Reviewed for Potential Use by IMF Bloomberg

The pendulum swings The Economist. IMF World Economic Outlook: “A run of bad form for the world’s biggest economy.”

Crowding In and the Paradox of Thrift Paul Krugman, NYT


World Braces for Taper Tantrum II Even as Yellen Soothes Nerves Bloomberg

Fed Is Expected to Shift on Muni Bonds WSJ. “In a change of heart, the Federal Reserve will allow big U.S. banks to use some municipal bonds to meet new rules aimed at ensuring they have enough cash during a financial-market meltdown.” I am not sufficiently wonky to tease out the implications of this news. Readers?

Rediscovering old economic models Coppola Comment

China makes big cut in bank reserve requirement to fight slowdown Reuters

How Uber surge pricing really works WaPo

Meet the lawyer taking on Uber and the rest of the on-demand economy Fusion (JA)

Brochures for lump-sum pension offers don’t tell all you need to know Reuters. Shocker!

BNP Paribas allowed to manage US retirement funds FT (AF).

The missing MtGox bitcoins Wizsec. “MtGox operated at fractional reserve for years.” Yves: “Prosecution futures.”

Jon Corzine Considers Launching Hedge Fund WSJ. Fitzgerald said “There are no second acts in American lives” but he was wrong. If you’re a C-suite executive on Wall Street, you get a second act, a third act, a fourth act….


Talks with Greece have gained momentum but still long way from target – IMF Reuters

Greek default necessary but Grexit is not Wolfgang Münchau, FT

Greece’s Varoufakis warns of Grexit contagion Reuters

Greece Flashes Warning Signals About Its Debt NYT

Millionaire businessman wins Finland vote, euroskeptics take second place Reuters


As Congress takes on Iran Deal, it should Remember its Iraq Blunder Juan Cole

How Bush Won the War in Iraq – Really! Greg Palast

Five years after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, we are closer than ever to catastrophe Guardian


Bernie Sanders ‘making sure’ of enough money to challenge Clinton Politico. Bernie’s the one who should travel by van!

EXCLUSIVE: Jeb Bush, Nigeria and the FBI – How a business deal soured Naples Daily News. Oppo researchers take note: What’s interesting about both this story, and the Times followup, is that neither mentions that the same company Jebbie was helping out, South Florida’s MWI Pumps, also “knowingly” installed “faulty pumps” in New Orleans, post-Hurricane Katrina. So Katrina was “working very well” for one Bush dynasty member, at least. It’s an ill wind…

Former Lehman Bros executive Kasich eyes 2016 and knocks Wall Street ‘greed’ Guardian. Of course, Jebbie worked for Lehman, too. One big happy!

Granny Get Your Gun NYT. Sheesh, Modo…

Quiet, please. Hillary’s running. Politico

Democratic Differences Slate. Compares U.S. to U.K. elections.

Clinton patches relations with liberals at campaign’s outset AP. Words are wind…

The Ghost of Cornel West The New Republic. I thought TNR was done with the hippie punching?

Just A Snapshot of a Few of the Many Who Brought a Postal Privatization Effort to a Standstill. Daily Kos

Texas Woman Invokes Religious Freedom Argument to Fight $2000 Fine for Feeding Homeless Alternet

Rauner’s dangerous talk of Chicago schools bankruptcy Crains Chicago Business. I don’t understand. What could be “dangerous” about converting CPS entirely to charters?

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Neighbors offer accounts of officer-involved fatal shooting of Thaddeus McCarroll St Louis American

Officers, city officials resign after new mayor elected KFVS

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

A New ‘Wrinkle in Time’ Wall Street Journal. Passage cut from early draft:

“But you don’t love security enough so that you guide your life by it, Meg. … Security is a most seductive thing. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s the greatest evil there is.

Big other: surveillance capitalism and the prospects of an information civilization (PDF) Journal of Information Technology. Creeps me out:

The institutionalizing practices and operational assumptions of Google Inc. are the primary lens for this analysis as they are rendered in two recent articles authored by Google Chief Economist Hal Varian. Varian asserts four uses that follow from computer-mediated transactions: ‘data extraction and analysis’, ‘new contractual forms due to better monitoring’, ‘personalization and customization,’ and ‘continuous experiments.’

“New contractual forms.” Hmm. Sounds intriguing.

FBI admits flaws in hair analysis over decades WaPo. “The cases include those of 32 defendants sentenced to death.” delivering poor Internet to poor people Boing Boing

A bill to fix America’s most dangerous computer law Techdirt

Vulfpeck … the band who made $20,000 from their ‘silent’ Spotify album Guardian. Roll over, John Cage!

Evolutionists Flock To Darwin-Shaped Wall Stain The Onion

Plant this with that: The science and folklore of companion planting Bangor Daily News

Lionel de Rothschild’s horticultural legacy at Exbury Gardens FT

Can You Be a Waitress and a Feminist? NYT

Why You Need Boredom, Distraction, and Procrastination in Your Life Lifehacker

A China Woodworking Story that is Barely Believable… Bridge City Tools

Productivity, Robots, China, Growth Global Economic Analysis

3 Questions on Killer Robots MIT Review

Data Is the New Middle Manager WSJ. The article is about startups. How many startups are industry, as opposed to business? Truly value-creating, as opposed to froth-driven manipulation? And how much of the supposedly flatter hierarchy is really just coded into the software, through, say, access privileges? “All [our employees] have access to the same data we have access to.” Really? I don’t believe that for a minute.

Payday at the mill Portland Press-Herald. How private equity firm Cate Street Capital preyed on people desperate to “save the mill” and looted the state of Maine, with the help of the Pierce Atwood Law firm and the rest of Maine’s political class, including leaders in both parties. Ka-ching.

Antidote du jour:


See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry was posted in Guest Post, Links on by .

About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. Ben Johannson

    Last year the FDIC and Fed had chosen not to classify muni bonds as High Quality Liquid Assets for the purpose of new capital requirements being rolled out. They’ve now decided to let some muni bonds count toward bank capital anyway. The biggest consequence is, I think, likely to be a mini-stampede to pumping out municipal debt with gamed ratings on terms great for investment banks and bad for cities.

    1. Ben Johannson

      I should probably add it will be a selling point for banks that want to load debt on cities: ” Your bonds will be in such demand how can anything go wrong!”

    2. Chauncey Gardiner

      Interesting that the FED is changing their position on Muni’s, particularly in light of Dudley’s remarks last week:

      Appears to me to reflect heightened concern about potential near-term systemic liquidity issues among those with responsibility for the money creation and distribution powers of the state. Long-term solvency of the municipalities themselves?… not so much.

      1. James Levy

        It boggles the mind that the Fed (or even the government) can, in a market economy (not endorsing, just observing) declare certain asset liquid and others not. Isn’t the test of liquidity the ability to go out into the marketplace and sell the bloody things are something like face value? How, in a crisis, is holding municipal bonds going to improve the actual liquidity of the banks in the face of some kind of run (say on their credit default swaps, which is the run that the Fed is really concerned about–they can declare a bank holiday and cut us proles off from access to our money any time, but when big, powerful counterparties demand their swaps be honored and the banks can’t that’s when the shit hits the fan). Who is going to buy them in such a crisis? [yes, I know, Mr. and Mrs. Taxpayer, but they’ll swear on a stack of Bibles that that is not what this pronouncement is all about].

        The whole thing is an exercise in creative bookkeeping and wishful thinking. Like too much else in our culture, it’s a scary example of purportedly intelligent and competent people in authority indulging in meaningless legerdemain.

        1. susan the other

          Just when the ECB is warning all private banks to divest of all sovereign/state debt, not just Greek debt, our Fed lifts the restrictions on Munis. I guess it is because there is no sovereign debt in the EU since there is no sovereignty – and here it makes sense because municipalities, if they are well run, and not already in too much debt, can still tax their way out of debt. How long will that last? Central Banks have an uncanny sense of where the pools of money are, and where they have dried up.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      All I can say is that a little alarm bell in my head went “Ding!” when I read that story. (“Look! Another pile of money!”) Bears watching….

    4. MLS

      I think the Fed allowing munis as part of capital requirement is an implicit admission that there is a severe shortage of collateral in the shadow banking system. Seems like the Fed is desperately trying to reignite the rehypothecation chains to bring back shadow lending (which has only recently stopped receding). Allowing munis frees up Treasuries to be used for that collateral, which means they can be sold and then lent against more freely. Ultimately it allows for interest rates to rise and approach normalization at the longer end of the curve (beyond 2 years), which is absolutely something the Fed wants to see.

  2. Timmy

    I am deeply skeptical of every element of municipal bonds: origination, marketing and sale. However the classiification of muni bonds as High Quality Liquid Assets for bank balance sheet purposes is probably pretty innocuous by itself. The six big household names that control the muni regulator (the MSRB) carry enough muni bonds in inventory as a function of their (ripoff) marketing to individual investors that the crappy market liquidity of muni’s would be hurt if they couldn’t include them in some level of their capital liquidity, and that would be a bad thing for retail investors.. It may also be a bone thrown to them because they are probably going to be forced to disclose their markups when they trade with retail investors, something the SEC has fought the MSRB for forty years.

      1. MLS

        the muni market is largely a retail market, meaning individual investors are the largest buyers of them. Banks that underwrite or hold inventory of munis can take advantage of a huge bid-ask spread from a famously opaque market and scalp mom and pop in the process.

        1. Fool

          Interesting. Could one conject then that the Fed implicitly wants to increase liquidity in muni market in particular?

  3. Swedish Lex

    Not that it matters the slightest:

    Kids who are allowed to run around at home while lunch or dinner is being served/consumed will naturally assume that the same behaviour is OK when eating in restaurants. In such cases, leave the kids at home in order not to spoil the evening for other restaurant goers.

    If you bring the kids to restaurants, do not ignore them when at the table. Kids need to be involved and engaged. If not, sitting at a table for a couple of hours inevitably becomes torture for the kids and the consequential screaming a natural reaction.

    1. Desertmer

      It mentioned ‘screaming children’ specifically.. Not children running around. (Of course running around is unacceptable and the management has ever right to demand the parents keep their children at the table or ask them to leave if they refuse). But those darn children… They tend to cry – often loudly, at the most inconvenient times. No one should be asked to leave a restaurant if a child cries loudly for a few minutes. Sure it’s annoying to others. So what? That’s life. Stay home and order in if you are that easily aggravated.

      1. hunkerdown

        Wrong. You are not entitled to have your children disrupting others. Get your animal under control or don’t bring it into polite society. Also, stop using your child as an all-access pass to include others in your misery.

        1. Praedor

          With you on this Hunker. Same parent likely to take their screaming monster to a movie theater and ruin it for everyone else because…share the pain(?). No thanks. If your kid screams in the restaurant, get it under control quickly. It it persists, take it away and deal with it in your own private misery. I’m not interested in being tortured by out-of-control kids when I’m paying for a relaxing, pleasant dinner/evening.

          Related note: people who get stuck on a plane next to, behind, in front of, a screaming child should be entitled to a partial refund on their fare upon reaching the destination. Pure torture on top of torture (of too little leg room, too narrow seats).

        2. optimader

          +pick a number.
          I wonder when did it became acceptable? Foregoing non “family style” restaurants is just one of those opportunities to spend more time at home w/ the kids teaching them how to be civilized.

        1. Inverness

          Tell me about it! It’s always amazed me that there are not more establishments that establish an adult-only policy for those who’d like to enjoy a grown-up atmosphere. I have entered Williamsburg bars (!) with parents with crying babies who don’t seem aware of other diners. This is a demographic problem with certain parents today, who refuse to accept that they cannot continue their pre-kid lifestyle.

          Furthermore, some of these parents go so far as to take their offspring to noisy establishments which could damage their eardrums. I even saw babies at a PS1 party with noisy drum and bass wailing.

    2. DJG

      The Taste of Heaven here in Chicago still has its sign up that caused a controversy about eight years ago (that even Oprah had to investigate): People of all ages are expected to use their indoor voices. I suspect that the Lobster Pound caved in too quickly. The adults eventually prevailed here.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        I agree. Obviously, I support parents with children: I write a massive check for property taxes, and that goes mostly to schooling children, and I derive no personal benefit from it, being child-free.

        So I’m basically w-a-a-a-y net positive here, in terms of respecting children, helping out parents, etc. And so when it’s OK for me to take over public space by screaming, it will be OK for parents with children.

        1. tim s

          There are many reasons children scream, some of which are understandable and should be acceptable, others not so much. Distinction should be made between the two, understanding that there is much grey area between.

          A young child may scream because they have not yet matured enough to communicate effectively using spoken language. A two-year-old is a person who is between stages of (1) crying for all form of communication and (2) speaking with control and purpose. A tantrum from frustration of not being able to communicate effectively, or perhaps a temporary regression to a familiar mode of communication for whatever reason, is an ever present possibility. This type of behavior in small children is not uncommon or unnatural, although it may be irritating.

          While there are children who do truly act badly and outside the limits of acceptability for their age, it is a difficult line to draw and enforce. Contrast that with an adult that screams and throws a tantrum in the manner of a child, which in a social setting would never would be seen as understandable or acceptable.

          I find it hard to accept an argument by an adult that only when they are allowed to have a fit of screaming will the children be allowed to do so.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            A young child may scream also, I believe, he/she is at the start of ‘fitting into civilization,’ in contrast with, say, living in a hunter-gatherer society.

            He/she needs to learn when to remain silent, when to move or what is allowable for him//her to move, how fast, how much, where (or what space) to occupy, accepting delays (yielding to others who were first temporally*) etc. A lot of that stuff is, to me, not natural.

            *We accept ‘first come, first serve,’ perhaps even in an emergency room – I am here first. Yes, yes, yes, I know you are suffering badly. But I was here first.

            Or, hey, I saw that dress first and it’s in my hand now…you can’t have, even though – and this is puzzling to me – I haven’t paid for it and therefor legally don’t own it, and yet, I can exclude from touching it or grabbing it.

            1. tim s

              Fully agree. It takes time to learn all of these things, and it is difficult if not possible to learn these things in solitude. Adults should understand that this takes time and that empathy and sympathy for their and their parents as they go through this learning process. This is, of course, much easier to bear when it appears that the parents are trying their best to remedy the situation.

              I also fully understand how difficult it is to put up with children who fail to learn these things for whatever reason. Being around a spoiled child is a miserable experience. To banish all children for these is not a good solution in the long run. it is a sad comment on society when it comes to that – because all of the adults who want their screaming-free experience were also children at some point that someone had to put up with to some extent.

  4. ambrit

    The antidote looks suspiciously like a drilling platform. The steel toe with instep protector shoes are the give away. They are mandatory footwear on commercial sites. (Having had many a box, tool, and co-workers foot ‘impact’ upon my tender tootsies, I fully concur with that idea.)
    Could this be, “Help, We’re Being Fracked!” Week?

    1. nowhere

      Those don’t look like FRCs (unless they are the tricky ones that look like jeans), so I doubt it’s a drilling platform.

      There is, however, a little guest near the base of the ladder in the lower platform.

      1. ambrit

        You’re right about the FRC’s. (I have seen wildcat rigs where formal attire was optional. All those being onland, and seldom visited by OSHA.)
        I missed the Nature Conservancy Monitor in my first viewing of the photograph. He or she does look like it’s contemplating Red Tagging the rig.

      1. ambrit

        Yes, they do, but not out to sea.
        (I missed the raccoon. See what focusing on the short term vision thing gets you?)
        It might be an inland drilling rig. Some of them can get quite large. However, the metal in the picture could function well in many Industrial Revolution constructs.)

    2. tim s

      It could also be a platform at any of the many refineries around the country that I’m familiar with.

  5. ambrit

    The antidote looks suspiciously like a drilling platform. The steel toe with instep protector shoes are the give away. They are mandatory footwear on commercial sites. (Having had many a box, tool, and co-workers foot ‘impact’ upon my tender tootsies, I fully concur with that idea.)
    Could this be, “Help, We’re Being Fracked!” Week?

    1. ambrit

      This is curious. I only clicked once on the ‘Post Comment’ box. There is also no ‘Click to Edit’ function either.
      Are we “Doing the Time Warp?”

        1. ambrit

          Oh! I completely forgot! Like, that stuff does mess with your brain cell dude!
          Er, only one pancake? Man, when we’d cruise on down to the IHigh, the first thing we’d ask about was the Family Deal! They knew we were spaced, but, money’s money. Markets and all that.
          Enjoy what you can remember of it!
          Peace and Love.

            1. ambrit

              Yo. Like, it’s called Mile High for a reason, I dig.
              (Our son was born on 4/20, and has turned out, like, a square! Doesn’t even go for shotgunning. Dudes, where did we go right?!)

  6. Carla

    Re: Payday at the mill. — More like Payday Lending to Local Governments, huh?

    “I think the Legislature wasn’t aware, but not through lack of diligence,” said Christopher Roney, [Finance Authority of Maine]’s general counsel and a critic of the use of one-day loans under the program. “I don’t think anyone contemplated this structure when (lawmakers) first approved it.”

    Not through lack of diligence. Couldn’t be that.

  7. Desertmer

    Re the Loster restaurant story: a restaurant where we used to live in AZ did a similar thing. It was a super popular place and packed to the gills most lunch and dinner hours. Within three short months of posting a notice like this is was shuttered….. So…. Do these owners really think that parents taking their kids out for dinner ENJOY or somehow encourage their little ones to have a meltdown???? It’s horrible and embarrassing and exhausting for for them as well you realize. Especially if they have already ordered and will be paying a steep bill for nothing if they are forced to leave. And if you have priced a sitter lately that coupled with the bill means – no eating out… And fewer patrons for businesses…. Are these owners making so much money already they can tolerate a half empty restaurant on a Saturday night? My small kids days are over but grandchildren are arriving soon. I would NEVER patronize a restaurant who posted anything like this – done in any form.

    1. nycTerrierist

      How about in case of meltdown, a parent take the child outside the dining room until it passes? this way people can take kids out to eat while also showing consideration to others.
      I’ve seen this done many times, seems to be a good solution to the problem.

      1. Strangely Enough

        Having done precisely that, it just seems like a no-brainer. They do get over it, whatever it is.

      2. tim s

        fully agree. A parent should remove the child temporarily to try to calm them down if it continues to go on. It is inconsiderate to let those nearby be exposed to an extended tantrum, assuming that there is someplace else to go – may not be an option, but usually it is. .Sometimes the child just needs a change of scenery. It’s a little inconvenient, sure, but any parent should know that raising a child is anything but a convenience. Suck it up, Buttercup.

        It seems that this was more the norm when I was a kid decades ago than it is now. Possibly the more modern idea of ignoring bad behavior in attempts to not acknowlegde it has something to do with this (among many other things, of course).

  8. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    A China Woodworking Story.

    I thought it was a story about hybrid porcelain-lumber manufacturing.

  9. Garrett Pace

    “All [our employees] have access to the same data we have access to,”

    Probably truer than you realize, when you consider how big the IT, Reporting and Analytics groups are. Their headcount disseminate much more data than execs. Think Edward Snowden.

    There’s a difference between the notional ability to access data and the inclination to do so. Even if an exec gets the keys to the data warehouse, how often would they ever drive it? Depends on the person of course, but I’ve met enough of the eager climbers for whom anything as mundane as pulling and parsing data was for the data monkeys to handle.

    Also, once code is doing the managing, if true, it’s the people who write the code that run the company.

    I’ve worked in organizations where I had way way way more visibility into what was actually happening than the people who ran them.

  10. ambrit

    We now have 1200 American troops in Ukraine ‘training’ Poroshenko’s militia. 900 of them are National Guard. Since when were National Guard allowed to be deployed as ‘trainers?’ This is too similar to the build up to the Vietnam War. Now we just sit back and wait for a “Gulf of …” er, “Sea of Azov” Incident to kick things off officially.
    What is really rotten about all this is that there is a large group of responsible people who remember the Vietnam experience and can predict with tolerable accuracy how this latest “adventure” will turn out. It would be funny, in a sick way, if it weren’t for all the innocent people who will be killed as a result.

    1. James Levy

      Contrary to law and Constitution, the National Guard was effectively permanently Federalized post-9/11. Several governors, including the governor of Connecticut (can’t remember the others) intended to sue over this, but were persuaded not to. It looks to me that the National Guard is now under Presidential control and he can order them anywhere for as long as he (or perhaps she?) feels they can get away with it.

      1. susan the other

        A little off topic. I’ve been wondering lately if the push to claim Ukraine for the West might have more to it than gaining a doorway into southern Russian oil resources. There is such blatant determination on our part and on the part of the UK. George Soros put up his billions to get things going. David Cameron sent in special forces last month; Obama sent equipment and the National Guard. I don’t know enough about Ukraine. I know it was heavily populated by Jews who regularly suffered pogroms (Khruschev’s autobio). I know Trotsky was Ukrainian and his family were rich farmers. I know Stalin crushed Ukrainian farmers and forced them to join communes. Now I know there were always serious Nazis in Ukraine who collaborated with the Germans against the Russians. And etc. So politically it’s about as clear as mud. But the only thing I think is a good enough reason to send in the troops is to take, and control, ground. Not politix. So I still think this is just setting up an outpost to continue our drive to control all the oil in the Middle East. But, again, why?

        1. TruthAddict

          Because, there can be only one. At least this is the mindset of the current Western order. Are there dozens or more strategic, political and economic reasons, yep. Ukraine is rich in farmland for one. Monsanto set up shop there about the same time Hunter Biden found himself on the Board of Kolomoiskys Natgas corp. U.S. has built military bases everywhere but Russia’s front door so it seems the logical next step. Even though it is conjecture on my part, I suppose their are many interests that are still pretty pissed about getting booted out of Russia when Putin took over. Not to mention that Fascists hate Russia and vice versa.
          But what it comes down to is supremacy. The West is falling, hard. The consequences of all those poor choices both at home and abroad have built themselves into the towering mess we see before us. The plan for US dominated world have been kicked into overdrive. Time is not on their side. So, it’s constant aggression and saber rattling. That poor Airborne Division is Live Bait. Another iron in the fire so to speak. If WW3 breaks out, the American elites shall joyously and collectively mess themselves as they will be off the hook again.

        2. Steve in Flyover

          Read “Bloodlands-Europe between Hitler and Stalin” for a background.

          Compared to Stalin’s famines and purges, the Germans were initially viewed as “liberators”.

          Why are there so many “ethnic Russians” in Ukraine? I suggest that it has a lot to do with Stalin depopulating the Ukraine via famine, executions, deportations, etc.

          The Russians are running a proven playbook:
          -By force or by policy, export a bunch of your “wretched refuse” to a foreign neighbor you want to annex, then
          -When your deportees start butting heads with the locals, intervene to “protect your relatives”

          For what it’s worth, IMO the USA doesn’t have pure motives in this situation either.

          1. TruthAddict

            I’m not convinced Russia wanted to annex Ukraine, this time, lol. They clearly wanted Crimea and by God, they took it. Very impressed with how that was done.
            Poor Ukraine has been the victors spoils through antiquity. As the breadbasket of the world it’s a tempting prize. Largest exporter of grain globally. So some of what is playing out is just same old story.
            However that does not make it any less dangerous. Fascism, like Third Reich reborn, has reared its ugly head again in Ukraine. Which I believe was intentional. NATO has a long history of creating antagonistic regime/states in countries bordering rivals.
            Pure motives don’t factor into either sides equation. It’s geopolitics and power projection, a dirty and dangerous game. More of the same ultimately.

            1. Jeremy Grimm

              “As the breadbasket of the world it’s a tempting prize. Largest exporter of grain globally.”

              Oil and and gas are one thing — what about grain? Is Cargill or some other of the very small number of giant grain cartels involved in the Ukraine?

        3. VietnamVet

          One could pass off Iraq as Bush’s folly. Or, Libya is Susan Rice’s responsibility to protect. Both have in common that the chaos took oil off the market keeping the petrodollar high for awhile. Directing neo-Nazis to seize Ukraine and sending in the 173rd Airborne Brigade is beyond this rationalization. It is just plain crazy. Unfortunately stealing the grain basket of Europe or re-embarking on Hitler’s quest for Caspian oil isn’t irrational to transnational money holders and their puppets. All that matters to them is more wealth and power not the risk of World War III and a nuclear holocaust.

          1. namguy

            It’s probably for creating a US-friendly regime in the middle of Europe and Russia-China coalition, adding Poland and the baltic states, Left to it own, Ukraine will facilitate an big Euro-Asia area of economic exchange that may not be good for the dollar. And the bonus is the reason for NATO to exist with a clear and present danger that is Russia.

  11. diptherio

    Re: Can You Be a Waitress and a Feminist?

    This is why we need a Universal Basic Income: so no one is ever forced into accepting this kind of BS. It’s going to take a long time to eradicate the disgusting, psychologically violent behavior of men in our societies, but we could ensure that no one has to put up with it just to pay the bills tomorrow with a UBI.

      1. diptherio

        No sarcasm here. The first step in the creation of modern capitalism was to force people into situations where they had do work for someone else to survive, through the enclosure of the commons. A UBI is one conceivable way of undoing that ancient wrong. If anyone is going to do something for pay that turns their stomach, it should at least be voluntary.

        Of course, a Job Guarantee program would also be useful (personally, I think some combination of both is likely to be best).

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Hmm. Surely the re-organization of the workplace through the active participation of workers is a big issue in mitigating or even ending the sort of exploitation the link describes. I fail to see how the bread and circuses approach of BIG can do this. JG, however, does — and democratically through local control, in the plans I have seen. So why — as it were, reflexively — reach for the free money, as opposed to reaching for power?

          1. jrs

            Well first off it’s hard to imagine it happening without a revolution (though maybe not a universal BIG either). So capitalists are supposed to just sit by and see a vastly better working situation than capitalism running in parallel. Why we might decide we don’t need them AT ALL! And yes, didn’t they enclose the commons for this? How are you going to keep them down on the farm after they’ve seen Paris anyway? I do like all attempts at localizing control though.

            But I think for most people it’s impossible to conceive of generally. That work that is the condition of survival period, work or die, would somehow not be a degrading experience in which you put up with anything, absolutely anything, alright maybe not anything morally if you have some scruples, but any amount of stupidity and even abuse, just in order to survive.

            Work pointless? Work alienating? No voice in making anything better even in the sense that they would profit just because noone listens to anyone below them in rank? Put up with it. Work deskilled? Work lonely? Miss being with your loved ones at work? Put up with it. Work environment emotionally abusive and dysfunctional? Work causes physical pain? Work risky or work making you disabled? Put up with it. So it’s hard to conceive of being told “work or die” under non-horrible conditions.

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I suspect the Mish robot piece was written by a robot.

          But it’s not my main point here, which is, that robots are being used, like other technologies*, by the rich to combat workers.

          Now, imagine the alternative – a worker-robot provided by the government for each worker. The worker-robot can go out and get a job, so the worker can get his/her free Basic Income.

          *the Rich are always for technology. The workers, on the other hand, seem to have the Luddite DNA in them. (EOS).

        3. Calgacus

          More-than-chump-change UBIs – are about inflation, force and enslavement of the poor suckers working in exchange for the fantastic quantities of cash created by the UBI, which will force people like that waitress/instructor to work ever harder to stay in place. Otherwise, a UBI, BIG is just “welfare”, which all societies have always had. BIG deal – it is like saying “weeks having 7 days will SOLVE EVERYTHING.” A JG is about the freedom to work and the freedom to be lazy – one is impossible, meaningless without the other. As usual when talking about economics in this unphilosophical (for a little longer) age, people get things exactly backwards.

          All poor or rich people know Basic Income – money for nothing for everyone – cannot work. But remarkably obtuse academics – who manage to understand economics even worse that the mainstream! – sell this fairy tale to credulous adult middles.

          diptherio:to force people into situations where they had do work for someone else to survive
          You- most people, the human race as a whole, whatever – always have to work for someone else – your future self, if nobody else – in order to survive. That is the way the universe was made. There never was nor could be another situation. That is what “life”, “survival”, “work”, “have to” mean. The UBI lie works because it is so damn BIG; nobody can imagine that anybody could say or think something as stupid or empty as a UBI, denying what everyone has always known or proposing nothing at all.

          The things that a UBI would not mega-inflate, things with negligible marginal costs in any sense, that don’t need additional labor when they are scaled up – are precisely the things that should be made free for all, not monetized at all. And they are also precisely the things that plutocrats love to monopolize, to privatize, and have always have enjoyed creating artificial scarcities of to enrich themselves. Plutocrats love the idiot academics’ UBI, for it is child’s play to direct all the “I” to themselves. As Wray says, the upshot would be that the UBI would amount to the entrance fee (for the suckers) into the monetary economy. That is at the unrealistic best, it would do nothing – realistically, it would set off mega-inflation used by the plutocrats to continue strangling everyone else even better after the inevitable end of the UBIverse.
          Again: The JG is essentially about freedom – realistic freedom, positive freedom – the chance to be enslaved to yourself – or not . [Or one can see it as the negative freedom of not having unpayable debts imposed upon you.] It destroys the present system “capitalism”, as people used to know (Marx, Senior, Tocqueville). The UBI BIG is about negative freedom for some / slavery for the rest – it is the same old, same old of the past few centuries, strengthening the present masters leashes. As Samuel Johnson said “How is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of negroes?” That’s the BIG – a loud yelp from those who can’t see the humanity of negroes. To overmodernize Johnson: robots – see Clifford Simak, Isaac Asimov. To bring him up to the present date – the ordinary working stiff, the 99%.

  12. Gareth

    That refundable tax credit in Maine is one hell of a scam. We have a similar law in Wisconsin, recently passed by the Republican Occupation Government as part of their “reform” agenda. I forwarded the article to a friend in the state legislature for further investigation. Scott Walker has already used business development grants to generate significant campaign kickbacks, so I’m expecting the worst.

  13. barrisj

    With a complete absence of irony, Jim Yardley, writing in this morning’s NYT about the latest “boat people” sinking in the Mediterranean, reports that the bulk of those drowned were refugees from Libya, and that “European leaders” were calling for “global action to stabilise Libya”. Wait, weren’t these the same “European leaders”‘ who called for regime change four years ago, and relished the sight of Gaddafi being executed by “pro-democracy” militias? And these same “European leaders” are now wringing their collective hands at the mass anarchy that is now contemporary Libya, and whingeing on about “the humanitarian crisis” that has engulfed that failed country. Reap as ye shall sow, fools.

      1. James Levy

        This is one that defies logic. I don’t see the Euros or the Americans making anything of this chaos, and with Gaddafi in charge you at least had a functioning government to deal with. Now, you have a bloodbath, no external direction, and a humanitarian crisis of mounting proportions. why did Obama and the European political elites let it get to this point? It sure wasn’t (or I can’t imagine should have been) the plan when they blew that country apart. It’s insane.

        1. susan the other

          The Greg Palast post. The war in Iraq wasn’t blood for oil; it was blood for no oil. For control of oil and (at the time) to keep the petrodollar up. Same in Libya. Probably the same in Syria. If control of oil is the goal, and it clearly looks that way, then people are not just collateral damage, they are being systematically separated from the benefits of their old oil-producing governments. And they will never get any of it back. The US might well consider that this little refugee problem is an example of people taking care of their own misfortunes when governments fail them. And why do anything? Just let it happen. That is what it looks like.

          1. Praedor

            No, oil wasn’t the deal with Libya. It was the fact that Gaddafi announced plans to establish an all-Africa development bank free of the US dollar (backed in a billions of dollars worth of gold). The bank would have competed with the IMF and, as mentioned, NOT been based on the US dollar. That was all it took to get the US/NATO to decide on regime change. Can’t have either the dollar or the IMF (a tool of US neoliberal foreign policy) taken out of play in such a strategic part of the world. Shortly after the whole bombing into chaos by NATO, the US/NATO seized all the gold and absconded with it.

            Gaddafi was targeted for same reason Putin/Russia is (and same as they’d LIKE to target China but it’s simply too big): threatening to go off the dollar and creating a development bank independent of the IMF and the USA.

              1. Praedor

                Keep in mind that Libya had been “brought in from the cold” and was being accepted into the world of nations sans pariah status, but as soon as the development bank was announced and prepared, BOOM. Tyrant Gaddafi has to go! He’s killing his own people!

                China is way too big in all ways to receive the same treatment. Russia is currently the target. I also have no doubt the CIA is down in Brazil stoking civil unrest to try and kick another BRICS brick out of the wall.

                All the Libyan gold intended to back the new bank “mysteriously” vanished after Gaddafi was eliminated.

          2. Jeremy Grimm

            Agree — the Palast Post makes the most sense as an explanation of the actions in the Middle East.

    1. Ed S.


      It’s an interesting article, to say the least. Without getting into the specifics of your situation, you can use the annuity calculator mentioned in the article to see what it would cost you to buy your pension benefit. Alternatively, you can plug in the offer and see what it will pay monthly. I suspect you”ll find that the lump sum will not provide an annuity equal to the promised pension benefit.

      OTOH, if you’re worried about the viability of your plan, well that’s another issue entirely. The trustee should be sending you an annual report –the first place to look is to see if the plan is fully funded.

      And as disclosure — I’m no expert in pensions.

  14. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Paradox of Thrift – Krugman.

    If everyone uses less energy, save more, the GDP will fade.

    And that’s bad…using less energy and saving more?

    Because GDP?

    What about the Paradox of Consumption. You consume more and that leads to pollution, environmental degradation, less happiness, global warming and resource depletion.

    Maybe government austerity is OK as long as it takes more from the looters and spends most of that on the needy (budget surpluses!). And spends less on military – gasp, more government austerity.

      1. jrs

        The Paradox of Krugman might be that no matter how liberal you are on 100 other issues, maybe none of it actually matters in setting the rules by which your economic system actually operates compared to trade policy. And I don’t even mean trade in it’s most monstrous form like the TPP, I mean even previous trade agreements.

    1. Praedor

      Makes me crazy and mad. Bemoan the fact that “Americans aren’t saving!” but as soon as they start, bemoan that “Americans aren’t spending!” Fucktard economists. Get into a real area of research and study like biology, physics…REAL sciences with actual objective reality to it and drop the mushy nonsense of economics (a purely social construction).

    2. optimader

      If everyone uses less energy, save more, the GDP will fade.
      And that’s bad…using less energy and saving more?
      Because GDP?

      GDP is a simplistic metric. So if the government decides to progressively double y-on-y “spending” of national treasure digging a hole to China, GDP will have a upward slope, but is it indicative of a healthy economic strategy? Maybe not so much. Wouldn’t NDP Net Domestic Product be closer to being meaningful?
      Which economy is in better shape
      A- the economy that consumes $90BB generating $100BB GDP
      B- the economy that consumes $25BB generating $50BB NDP
      I know which one I would prefer participating in.
      GDP = C + G + I + NX
      “C” is equal to all private consumption, or consumer spending, in a nation’s economy “G” is the sum of government spending “I” is the sum of all the country’s businesses spending on capital “NX” is the nation’s total net exports, calculated as total exports minus total imports. (NX = Exports – Imports)

  15. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Iceland, new money.

    “”Crucially, the power to create money is kept separate from the power to decide how that new money is used,” Mr Sigurjonsson wrote in the proposal.

    As with the state budget, the parliament will debate the government’s proposal for allocation of new money,”

    1. Power to create money (on behalf of the people) or new law, for example
    2. Ownership of that new money, or new law, for example

    I think Mr. Sigurjonsson is making an assumption here.

  16. susan the other

    About Iceland’s Radical Money Plan. It is to take away private banks’ ability to create credit which is a form of money entering the economy which central banks cannot control and leads directly to Minsky bubbles and busts. So taking away this perk then gives central banks total control over the distribution of sovereign money and it is then controllable. Parliaments decide how the money is to be spent into the economy. Sounds very MMT except MMT doesn’t restrict private credit creation, so MMT might not work very effectively, right? In Iceland the central bank’s power to create the money is to be kept separate from decisions on how it is to be used. Back when Kucinich was addressing a money commons, or sovereign control of money creation, he said if private banks were going to create money (credit) then all the gain from these investments should be given back to the treasury. Of course there is no accounting so how does anyone know anyway. The Fed does claim to reimburse Treasury, but there are no clear details on that, and you can’t tell me the abuses of fees and etc. aren’t a direct result of banks being allowed to do credit bubbles. Ann Pettifor said that letting the private banks create credit was like letting some corporation create its own commodity. Like Bitcoin? We live in a weird world.

      1. financial matters

        It seems like Iceland’s ideas resonate well with public banking as well as with Mazzucato’s ideas of an Entrepreneurial State.

        Randy Wray recognizes the problems with private banking and he talks about redirecting finance for the public purpose. Rather than enriching the top 1% getting it into the hands of people who could improve the overall standard of living. (about 15 minutes in in English)

    1. reslez

      The Sigurjonsson proposal would fundamentally change the relationship of lenders and reserves, making banks function more like the tinkertoy version average people think they are — a world in which savings actually are necessary to make loans. Honestly, it all sounds like a complete nonstarter to me. We’ve had hundreds of years to test how well that system works. The most compelling economic growth came from banking systems where loans were not restricted to savings. New ideas are great and I hope Iceland keeps them coming. If they were to openly embrace MMT methodology it would be a welcome breath of sanity in a world gone mad with NIRP and everything else.

      1. financial matters

        I agree if that’s the case. I think we need to keep credit more open to needs we just need to define the right needs. I think China’s idea with the SDR is more on point here. They would like some stability to exchange rates but not a rigid supply of credit.

        “Issuing countries of reserve currencies are constantly confronted with the dilemma between achieving their domestic monetary policy goals and meeting other countries’ demand for reserve currencies.

        On the one hand, the monetary authorities cannot simply focus on domestic goals without carrying out their international responsibilities; on the other hand, they cannot pursue different domestic and international objectives at the same time. They may either fail to adequately meet the demand of a growing global economy for liquidity as they try to ease inflation pressures at home, or create excess liquidity in the global markets by overly stimulating domestic demand. “

    2. spooz

      The Iceland plan is considered radical monetary reform, based on a Sovereign Money Proposal, whose starting point (inpired by Soddy and Fisher) was Huber & Robinson’s book “Creating New Money” from 2000. Here is Huber’s discussion of it, including this about MMT:

      “Even where Postkeynesianism, Circuitism and MMT describe banks’ credit creation in an accurate way under operational aspects, they apparently consider the present money and banking system to be functional rather than dysfunctional. In other words, they do not attribute financial instability and crises to the monetary system of fractional reserve banking. Accordingly, they see no reason to think about monetary reform.”

      As the Iceland proposal states, the plan is outlined in full detail in Jackson and Dyson’s “Modernizing Money” from 2012

  17. susan the other

    Boredom, Distraction and Procrastination. Good link. Good ideas never just pop into your head unless you are relaxed. Like brains can only do one thing at a time, even tho’ they sort through tons of input.

    1. cyclist

      Reminded me of Tom Hodgkinson’s amusing and perceptive book ‘How To Be Idle’. Loaned my copy to a friend too overworked to get together, but I don’t think he ever found time to read it. In retrospect, it might be a good thing.

  18. fresno dan


    It tells me it can’t find that link

  19. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    BNP Paribas allowed to manage US retirement funds.

    Wonder if the Chinese or North Koreans can do it cheaper, if not also better?

  20. ewmayer

    Regarding The Onion finely newsy “Evolutionists Flock To Darwin-Shaped Wall Stain”, I must say the smudge/stain/holy-relic looks more like the profile of “the 5th Marx Brother” – Karl – to me, but then again I always did have heretical tendencies. (And I’m probably biased from spending too much time on econ blogs.)

Comments are closed.