Links 5/30/18

Mystery of Earth’s Missing Nitrogen Solved Scientific American (original).

Plants repeatedly got rid of their ability to obtain their own nitrogen Ars Technica

What One New England Tree Can Tell Us About the Earth’s Future Zócalo Public Square

Global Melting? The Economics of Disintegration of the Greenland Ice Sheet NBER

Liberals to buy Trans Mountain pipeline for $4.5B to ensure expansion is built CBC. Gee, I wonder who’ll get the contract to operate it. Justin Trudeau wears cute socks tho.

Have central banks missed the exit train? World Economic Forum

Core Design Principles for a Central Bank Digital Currency Bank Underground

Facebook’s size no barrier to deals in new areas: executive Reuters. Facebook scooters! Facebook juicers!

ABC took a big risk with ‘Roseanne’ reboot — and it just backfired CNN. What passes for a big story these days….

NFL admits there was no official vote on national anthem policy, instead informal show of hands NY Daily News. Bad governance no matter where you look.

North Korea

Top North Korean envoy boards flight for talks in U.S.: Yonhap Reuters

The North Korea Summit Might Actually Work Slate

Twenty years of Indonesian democracy—how many more? New Mandala

Africa’s Hidden Oil Hub Grows After Traders Make Millions Bloomberg. With handy map of oil chokepoints.


Gaza’s Hamas rulers say cease-fire reached with Israel AP

Alas, poor Bernard Lewis, a fellow of infinite jest Al Jazeera

Italian populist parties rekindle talks to form government FT. Bonds rally. An hour is a long time in Italian politics.

Italy’s Nightmare Has No End In Sight Bloomberg

Championed League Verso

Completing Europe’s banking union means breaking the bank-sovereign vicious circle Bruegel


Soros-backed campaign to push for new Brexit vote within a year Guardian. Yves: “This is just silly. You can’t do a referendum in a year, plus a year is too late.” Soros should regain his mental discipline by taking up betting again instead of issuing pronouncements. And if he’s talking his book, shame on him.

If only Brexit had been run like Ireland’s referendum Guardian

Boost for Jeremy Corbyn as major civil service union throws weight behind Labour Politics Home

New Cold War

What Russia’s New Government Tells Us About Succession After Putin Carnegie Moscow Center

America’s Fifth Column Will Destroy Russia Paul Craig Roberts. With shout-out to Michael Hudson. Well worth a read.

Choose the truth instead of taking sides in the Trump-Mueller drama Jonathan Turley, The Hill

Trump Transition

Here’s what’s really happening with the 1,500 ‘missing’ immigrant children CNN and The Democratic Precedent Jacobin. The latest moral panic.

Department of Homeland Security moves to finally rescind the International Entrepreneur Rule TechCrunch

U.S. Tariff Threat Could Scuttle Planned Trade Talks With China WSJ

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

A trip to the ER with your phone may mean injury lawyer ads for weeks Ars Technica

For Google, all roads lead back to search FT. Great. Maybe they’ll spend some money to decrapify it lol.

Realignment and Legitimacy

Jimmy Carter: U.S. Is an ‘Oligarchy With Unlimited Political Bribery’ Rolling Stone

Fascism is back. Blame the Internet. . Stoller: “It was obvious the invasion of Iraq and the loss of millions of homes would lead to chaos. Now idiots at Yale call themselves scholars of totalitarianism and publish this cr*p?”

Our Constitution Must Be the Battleground Bruce Fein, The American Conservative

Our Famously Free Press

By suing WikiLeaks, DNC could endanger principles of press freedom Committee of Protect Journalists

Here’s a blueprint for a sustainable online state news nonprofit Nieman Labs

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Portland’s gentrification has its roots in racism High Country News (GF). A tour of Portland, well worth a read.

Neoliberal Epidemics

It Saves Lives. It Can Save Money. So Why Aren’t We Spending More on Public Health? NYT. A question that answers itself, once asked.

Guillotine Watch

Maybe She Had So Much Money She Just Lost Track of It The Cut. “‘That’s what they do in the rich culture, is meals,’ said [11 Howard concierge Neffatari Davis].”

Class Warfare

The more valuable your work is to society, the less you’ll be paid for it David Graeber, LinkedIn (!).

The alarming statistics that show the U.S. economy isn’t as good as it seems WaPo

Starbucks, at the Intersection of Race and Class in America NYT. I’ve been mulling intersectionality again, and I’m not sure headlines like this don’t contain a category error.

We’ll See It When We Know It: Recognizing Emergent Solidarity Economy Grassroots Economic Organizing (part two).

My Answer to ‘Thank You For Your Service’ The Progressive

Mortality in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria NEJM. “From the survey data, we estimated a mortality rate of 14.3 deaths (95% confidence interval [CI], 9.8 to 18.9) per 1 persons from September 20 through December 31, 2017. This rate yielded a total of 4645 excess deaths during this period (95% CI, 793 to 8498), equivalent to a 62% increase in the mortality rate as compared with the same period in 2016. However, this number is likely to be an underestimate because of survivor bias. The mortality rate remained high through the end of December 2017, and one third of the deaths were attributed to delayed or interrupted health care.”

The Tower LRB. Grenfell Tower; LRB has devoted its entire issue to this story, rather like The New Yorker did for Hiroshima.

Antidote du jour (via):

Bonus Antidote (DK):

DK: “Oligarch has money, doesn’t really know what to do with it, but won’t give it up.”

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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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. The Rev Kev

    “Fascism is back. Blame the Internet.”

    Methinks that he doth protest too much. OK. There are all sorts of good and bad things on the internet. There are all sorts of good and bad people. Surprise. The internet, made by people, is a reflection of people overall. And I didn’t have to go to Yale to work that one out.
    I was just reflecting on how I would get my news as I have always been a bit of a newshound. I look at what is on TV and can spot what is out and out propaganda – there is no other word for it. I read newspapers occasionally but find that the best bits are often the cartoons which I find have more insight. News from the radio? Don’t make me laugh.
    In reading his article all sorts of objections come up, but mostly the fact that he is supposed to be teaching history at a prestigious (I did not say good) university. I thought it personal prejudice but then I found the following-

    “…(Snyder) warned that the Trump Administration will attempt to subvert democracy by declaring a state of emergency and take full control of the government, similar to Hitler’s Reichstag fire: “it’s pretty much inevitable that they will try.” According to Snyder, “Trump’s campaign for president of the United States was basically a Russian operation.”

    Nope. Wouldn’t want to be taking his history classes.

    1. Wukchumni

      All of the news sources of the old school flavor were strictly one-way streets that had scant interaction as far as readers having any input (remember when you would send a letter to the editor and they could decide to publish it or not, or chop it down as they saw fit?) and that’s the main difference.

      I’m not sure fascism is the right calling card for what’s become of us. The tyranny of distance and unfettered access allows for the worst of our animal instincts to come out for a segment of the population, and we write things often that we’d never say in public, as if you aren’t a Roseanne type, what do you have to lose by being awful online?

    2. Mirdif

      The word Fascism has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies ‘something not desirable’.

      George Orwell, Politics and the English Language (1946)

    3. cocomaan

      I love how he calls out Facebook and social media while completely failing to identify the US Government’s (and other govts other than russia) role in manipulating these social media outlets.

      He also seems to be confusing fascism with demagoguery. They can be related but they aren’t the same thing, not by a mile. We have the terminology to confront this but Snyder seems lacking in crucial vocabulary to have a real discussion.

      It’s hard to believe people pay to watch Snyder lecture.

      1. RMO

        Aren’t they really paying for a diploma from Yale and social connections to make use of in a career? I sometimes wonder when the Ivy leagues will realize they can just eliminate all the actual classes and coursework and make the whole operation much more efficient. Sort of like how one used to purchase a commission to become a military officer.

    4. a different chris

      >will attempt to subvert democracy

      Idiot. His definition of democracy is “Hillary Clinton gets to rule us”.

      What democracy? How do we have a democracy? And we never had much of one. The Constitution is not a very democratic document — initially the Senators weren’t even voted in. Just assigned by the Powers-That-Be. Now we get to vote for Senators, but it’s from a tiny selection that is presented to us by the current Powers-That-Be. And it somehow takes 60 votes to shut down a “fillibuster”. And those 60 votes are badly weighted, where California gets the same input as Wyoming.

      So nothing gets done except for what the 1% wants done.

      1. JTMcPhee

        “The word Democracy has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies ‘something we delude ourselves into believing exists or existed.’”

        And Yves, as we thinkers and talkers who study Empire and power and finance judiciously are wont to do, politely and gently calls “shame on Soros” for possibly talking his book in injecting money into an action to further chaotify the thing we call “Brexit,” ripe with crises to not waste. Soros and the rest of the 0.1 percent kind of incontestably have NO SHAME, as we mopes might understand the word.

        Finance, politics, economics, and power. Those who have them live their sociopathies from cradle to grave (now hoping, of course, that their wealth and the “progress’ of science and technology will relieve them of the inconvenience, the tracasse, of the grave.

      2. bronco

        California gets the same weighting as Wyoming? You are on to something California should have less weighting than Wyoming. The sooner it falls into the ocean the better

      3. Kathryn Bambrick

        Actually as there are 2 senators from each state I don’t believe this is much of an issue in the senate.

    5. Baby Gerald

      As an ex-student of the area of history in which Dr. Snyder specializes, I found his writing quite good- insightful and even-handed. His two books about the struggle of the Ukraine since Czarist times and through the two world wars, Black Earth and Bloodlands are among the best I’ve read on the subject.

      Snyder’s take on the current Ukraine situation is hard to justify, though. He seems pretty anti-Russia and pro-Ukraine in what I’ve read and seen him say, despite his knowledge that the Ukraine Liberation Army or whatever they call themselves derive directly from a Nazi collaborationist outfit and still identify strongly with that history. This, coupled with his newest fear that Trump’s rise is some sign of future fascist and authoritarian systemic tendencies is upsetting, to say the least. I’m not sure if it’s because of his ivory tower situation, but one would suspect that being that close to the heart of the establishment must distort his perspective just a bit.

      1. witters

        I sent this as a possible “New Cold War” link, but either it was too late or there was no space. It is the sound of sanity. Measure it against the sounds of Snyder:

        Nicolai Petro – “Are We Reading Russia Right?”

        As you will see from his bio – he’s a crazyman: Nicolai N. Petro
        currently holds the Silvia-Chandley Professorship of Peace Studies and Nonviolence at the University of Rhode Island. His books include, Ukraine in Crisis (Routledge, 2017), Crafting Democracy (Cornell, 2004), The Rebirth of
        Russian Democracy (Harvard, 1995), and Russian Foreign Policy, co-authored with Alvin Z. Rubinstein (Longman, 1997). A graduate of the University of Virginia, he is the recipient of Fulbright awards to Russia and to Ukraine, as well as fellowships from the Foreign Policy Research Institute, the National Council for Eurasian and East European Research, the Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies in Washington,
        D.C., and the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. As a Council on Foreign Relations Fellow, he served as special assistant for policy toward the Soviet Union in the
        U.S. Department of State from 1989 to 1990. In addition to scholarly publications on Russia and Ukraine, he has written for Asia Times, American Interest, Boston Globe, Christian Science Monitor, The Guardian (UK), The Nation, New York Times, and Wilson Quarterly. His writings have appeared frequently on the web sites of the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs and The National Interest.

        1. economicator

          This is an excellent paper. I read it. Thank you for sharing it.

          I’ve read a couple of books on Putin from European authors that were supposed to be really close to the Russian reality and none of them mentions even in passing any of the serious accomplishments that N. Petro discusses.

          Contrast and compare those with the legislative, governance, and foreign policy accomplishments of the US in the last 18 years…. hmmmmm

  2. Alex morfesis

    Roseanne Barr and Val Jarrett sat down two weeks ago in chicago for lunch at zum deutschen eck on Southport in Chicago rambling on about the highs and lows of fame…

    Roseanne squawking on and on how she forgot how annoying life is when every knucklehead thinks they know you and are your friend and you can’t just walk out the door…

    Jarrett complaining her agent is not getting her the speaking gigs she was expecting after the Whitehouse…

    Roseanne kept rambling how her agent had been drunk during contract negotiations and ignored her instructions… Signing her up to another lousy Hollywood style slave contract with required appearances… Etc…

    Do a tiger Woods, said Jarrett…

    What ??

    Woods had signed contracts when he was too young to know any better and the only way out was the morality clauses…everyone but one foolishly let him out of his contract…

    just say or do something really ugly and stupid and poof…no more contract…

    Then they both looked at each other and smirked…

    And in other news…

      1. ambrit

        You need to know the secret hand signs and passwords to get in. We can’t have just any old deplorables eating there, can we?

      2. alex morfesis

        a mythical meeting for a little mythical place in time…used to be no fun sometimes living across the street from zum and trying to find parking…

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Rolling Stone wishes the TV show Roseanne–in either of its iterations–had never been born. Its scathing “commentary” on the current controversy concludes like this:

      Roseanne played to the far right and argued that it WAS the middle, a feat not even Trump could achieve. It helped make the country a palpably shittier place to live, in just a couple of months. It’s going to keep right on doing so. How much better for our nation if this once-great show had never existed.

      A commenter on the article named Sabin Babb effectively shuts down the inevitable chorus of vitriol and invective thusly:

      Roseanne hanged herself here. Her personal views are extreme and fit no one’s platform as an insane cocktail of extreme leftism, alt-right, libertarian ideas and conspiracy theories. That said, the show I watched this season was hardly a Trumpian alt-right commercial. They are a lower middle class working family with all kinds of different view points that grew and learned through the season. The episode with the middle eastern neighbors didn’t celebrate her bigotry it illuminated it and turned it on its head. They have a mixed race family and it’s never even mentioned as a thing. They have a trans child that they have to come to terms with and they do. They struggle with the need for medical care and no ability to pay for it. They touch on how the lack of ability to pay for medical care can lead to opiod addiction. Just because Roseanne Conner voted for Trump it seems Rolling Stone has skewed their view of the rest of the content and gone through crazy gymnastics to somehow make these things alt-right as opposed to what they are. If you take aside Roseanne’s personal rantings (which of course you can’t) the show has been one of the healthiest most honest things on television. I seriously feel like RS must be on crazy pills to have interpreted the show the way they have.

      There is no doubt that Roseanne Barr stepped in it. She, of all people, should have realized that in Animal Farm america, some “apologies” are more acceptable than others, and having a number 1 network show that normalizes Trump supporters in any way will not be tolerated. Conflating a flawed messenger with an inconvenient message is time-honored.

      And in the never-let-a-good-crisis-go-to-waste department, msnbs is busy being beholden to the iconic american corporations–Disney and Starbucks–for doing for the country what an illegitimate, racist president will not. Please remind me again what “fascism” is, and what it looks like when it creeps.

      1. flora

        “If you take aside Roseanne’s personal rantings (which of course you can’t) the show has been one of the healthiest most honest things on television.”


      2. bronco

        It hit too close to home , thats why it had to go. If this hadn’t happened to give ABC an excuse they would have found another reason.

    2. The Rev Kev

      On the bright side, Charlie Sheen is calling for a ‘Two and a Half Men’ reboot following Roseanne’s cancellation (groan!)

  3. Ignacio

    Re:Plants repeatedly got rid of their ability to obtain their own nitrogen Ars Technica

    Quite interesting article for evolutionary biologists.

    Maybe it was too energetically costly for most plants to keep [certain gene]: maybe housing and feeding the bacteria wasn’t worth it, or non-nitrogen fixing bacteria took advantage and moved in.

    I would favour the hypothesis in bold. Nodulating plants spend a lot of energy feeding their symbiotic bacteria (if I remember well about 20-25% of photosynthetic energy goes back to nitrogen fixing nodules because it is an energy demanding activity).

    1. Darius

      Not very informed speculation on my part but I imagine that mycorrhizae had something to do with the loss of nodules. Undisturbed soil rich in mycorrhizae has plenty of nitrogen, so plants don’t need to make more. This suggests the answer isn’t GMOs, but rather permaculture which maximizes mycorrhizae.

      1. Ignacio

        Not informed? I would say is very good speculation. Ecological relationships with many other soil microorganisms are surely very important.

        1. Carey

          A good point, and I’ve gotten the sneaking feeling, over time, that there will be no way to “scale” or
          “innovate” or otherwise grift off of Nature *over the long term*. I’m hoping that’s so…

      1. Oregoncharles

        Only in certain places. Sedimentary rocks, mainly. Not a lot of those around here.

      1. dcblogger

        That is a GREAT film. My suggestions are mostly to give people a break from the current depressing news. But MIssing is a great film.

        1. ambrit

          Sorry if I ‘harshed’ any ones’ buzz. Sometimes I type first and ask questions later.

  4. cocomaan

    The idiocy of the 1500 refugees mistakes by the media is mind boggling. I read the headline and had my own reaction of disgust and belief that the government really was that stupid. But a failure to respond to a survey? Good lord.

    I thought my trust in popular media couldn’t get any lower but here we are.

    1. ambrit

      I’m with you on this. I have given up on any trust with anything denoted as ‘popular.’
      Popular can now be defined as:
      “Any thing having little or no truth content. A tissue of lies. A distraction from serious matters. Etc.”

  5. blkwhiskey

    Re: My Answer to ‘Thank You For Your Service’

    The comments below the article speak volumes…good on Mr. Henson for writing this.

    It’s almost impossible to have a honest conversation with American veterans as a group, especially one which addresses the factors of class, race, and politics in recruiting or reintegration–and I am one (OIF/OEF). So many of us love “punching down” in order to maintain his or her identity construction, often at the cost of actually organizing into a force to effect some change in either foreign or domestic policy at the national level. This has always saddened me.

    I’ve spoken about this with my uncle, a Vietnam veteran who was drafted, and he says that this has always been the case–whether in my grandfather’s WW2 cohort or his own. It seems that the optics of what a veteran “is” has been always shaped, at a national and state level (NJ), by the loudest fellows with the most bellicose words and whose interests are keenly tied to the establishment of a pseudo American equestrian-class a la the Roman empire of old.

    My worry is, like everything else, the coffers are quickly becoming bare to support this “bad habit”. Back-end war profiteering and neoliberal policies are strip mining our country’s capacities to care, even at a minimum, for its former warfighters. The VA is, by some estimates, underfunded by ~$1.5 trillion…unless Halliburton or Boeing start diverting dividend payments, and start taxing the war profits, I don’t see how we fully fund the institution and its system of care.

    But then again, in 15 years, all the folks who took us into these wars will have died or be retired from office. Funny how that works.

    1. voteforno6

      There is something empowering, I think, about being a veteran that allows them to speak up about these particular issues. It’s a little more difficult to accuse them of “not supporting the troops,” when their rejoinder is, “I served.”

      1. kgw

        My father died in Korea in 1955: I was 8 years old. It wasn’t empowering, but I speak volumes about the class wars…Usually just make enemies of shallow citizens.

    2. rd

      PTSD, concussions, etc. are now finally being well-understood. I think the best thank you for their service for veterans is to ensure that we adequately fund the necessary efforts to re-integrate those who served in combat and give them the support that they need and deserve related to the numerous challenges many of them face as a consequence of their service.

      We need to fund this before we fund increasing the military and sending it out on more un-funded adventures. The true costs of war need to be accounted for and unfortunately, many people seem to react to this only when there is a clear and obvious financial price tag.

      1. The Rev Kev

        I’ll second that comment on re-integration. I read of one Vietnam Vet that was flown straight home and when his mother called him to dinner, she said for him to clean the dirt from under his fingernails. Looking down, he realized that the dirt was from Vietnam.
        Another nearly strangled his mother to death because she wiggled his toe to wake him up like she normally did before he left. The combat reflexes kicked in too fast.

    3. FluffytheObeseCat

      “It seems that the optics of what a veteran “is” has been always shaped, at a national and state level (NJ), by the loudest fellows with the most bellicose words and whose interests are keenly tied to the establishment of a pseudo American equestrian-class”

      As is the case with the one comment. A near-libelous jeremiad from a blustering bully who didn’t appear to have read the article, didn’t address anything said in it, and who insisted the writer was ‘shaming the mission’ by discussing the obvious in clear, honest language.

      Why he thought abusing the veteran author this way would ‘work’ is beyond me. I suspect he lives among people who knuckle under to him so regularly and completely…… that he’s up and forgotten what it’s like to face a guy who doesn’t cower when a bunch of buzz words are tossed at him.

    4. Altandmain

      Interestingly, 1.5 trillion is the estimated cost of the F-35 program.

      Arguably properly funding the VA would be a far better investment than making Lockheed Martin rich.

      1. Wukchumni

        When I see those tv commercials from the wounded warrior project pleading with me to let loose with $19 a month, you wonder why our government hadn’t taken care of them previously?

        Trillions for war, not much for the aftereffects…

  6. disc_writes

    So many things the Bloomberg article gets wrong about Italy. The author is Italian, of course.

    First, President Mattarella’s actions were not “well within his rights”. Constitutional experts are still debating, and a good case can be made for both sides. Previous cases were nothing like this one.

    Second, a Plan B is just good risk management: I am sure the Bank of Italy already has one hidden somewhere. The Germans will have one as well, and a few people in their satellite states (Netherlands, Austria) will be in the know. So where is the run on the Bunds?

    Third, the journalist tries to argue that Lega/M5S want to take Italy out of the Euro surreptitiously, which is highly unlikely.

    And fourth, to say that Mattarella would not object to a party campaigning against the Euro is pure stupidity. The moment a major party promises Italexit, the banking system is toast, regardless of the electoral result. And we would probably never be allowed to get such an election anyway.

    And again, no party (except, I believe, the neo-fascists) ever supported leaving the Euro.

    Also, just to repeat a point made elsewhere:

    – Bloomberg admits there is a Consitutional crisis
    – and Steve Keen did as well.

    1. Ignacio

      So many things the Bloomberg article gets wrong about Italy. The author is Italian, of course.


      And again, no party (except, I believe, the neo-fascists) ever supported leaving the Euro

      I think that when someone critisizes something about the EU or the Euro itself, she or he is called “eurosceptic” or even labelled anti-EU. Kind of TINA thinking. If you are not pro-austerity you are eurosceptic. A particular kind of so-called euroscepicism is that of tipically left-wingers that critisize the architecture of the EU as being antidemocratic by design (as it really is). This is for instance Samuel Hooper’s view.

      So there is this strange proposition in which if you are left leaning, you have to be eurosceptic AND anti-EU.

    2. Yves Smith

      I don’t agree with your opening comment The mechanism of a President blocking the seating of a proposed minister has been used repeatedly, most recently in 2014 and has not been contested. It’s anti-democratic, politically risky, but not unconstitutional.

      Second, regarding Plan B, it is unrealistic. There is no way to introduce a new currency in less than 5 years. All sorts of parties outside Italy’s control need to do coding. Experts have said it would take 3 years assuming everyone cooperates and everything goes perfectly, which is never the case with IT. Go look at TBS before you try handwaving otherwise. Rushing IT guarantees train wrecks. Even creating and distributing new notes would take a year.

      1. ambrit

        “Even creating and distributing new notes would take a year.”
        I’ll play Devils’ Advocate and opt for “hard” currencies.
        So: Cowrie shells, Etruscan pottery shards, Soccer player ‘Sports Cards,’ bottles of beer, etc.
        I wonder how much of the Italian economy was barter based before the present crisis, and how much will be so based in six months.

        1. Wukchumni

          There is some precedence for ‘DIY’ money in Italy…

          “Miniassegni or “mini-checks” are coupons or promissory notes made to replace small-denomination coins during a shortage of 50 and 100 lira coins, which were the approximate equivalent of American nickels and dimes.

          The shortage of 50 and 100 lira coins lasted from 1975 to 1979. Its causes are famously mythologized. Some said the coins were used as buttons in Japan, others that the shortage was caused by trade union strikes. In his book Europe, Europe, Hans Magnus Enzensberger suggests that it was actually caused because the Italian government abandoned their plans for a new mint and the old one simply could not produce enough coins to meet demand.

          When the shortage of small-denomination coins began in 1975, vendors started by giving small items instead of change. Candy, grapes, stamps, phone tokens, and even chicken livers were given to customers when there was no way to make change. One café owner in Rome wrote handwritten notes for his customers as credit for their next order.

          After the shortage stretched on for a while, stores began to issue little coupons or checks of their own that ranged from 50 to 350 lire. Then banks started issuing miniassegni that could be collected and then exchanged for larger bills.”

          1. disc_writes

            Yes, I remember the candy :-)

            Camon also writes of local, sugar-cane backed currencies at the end of WWII.

            And the mini-bots, of course.

        2. David May

          Very little of any economy has ever been barter-based. 5,000 Years of Debt by David Graeber is a great read which takes an anthropological approach to the development of money.

        3. Oregoncharles

          the pottery shards and beer would have commodity value, which complicates a currency. At least beer doesn’t deteriorate quickly, like some edible “money.” Somebody said the Central American Natives used to use cacao beans, which would lose flavor and presumably value over time.

        4. Larry Y

          That would rule out Panini World Cup stickers, as Italy didn’t make it to the 32 in Russia…

      2. disc_writes

        >The mechanism of a President blocking the seating of a proposed minister has been used repeatedly, most recently in 2014 and has not been contested.

        Sure, and no one questions that. What is in question is the scope of that power. Until now, all cases were due to a) conflict of interests and b) police records of the minister. In other words, those potential ministers had, or were likely to have, problems with the law. That would have put the executive power in conflict with the judiciary branch.

        This time, the rejection is political in nature: the President does not agree with the minister. It is not clear whether the President is justified in doing so.

        Constitutional experts will probably agree with the decision, while recognizing that it is exceptional. The President has large discretional powers (i.e. he can make his own rules if necessary).

        But the other side of the debate has some heavy ammo: the President is not elected by the people, while the government, via Parliament, is. He defends the Constitution, not Italians´ savings: he is responsible for the process, not the outcome.

        I would like to point out again that Italy is a fractitious country with authoritarian tendencies even in normal times. Now, after 10 years of recession and many more years of social decay, respect of the Constitution and its embodiement, the President, is pretty much all that keeps the republic together.

        I do not care if a Constitutional judge can provide an abstract justification for the use of article 92: these are not times to see how far you can go interpreting the Constitution. The President has just weakened his own function: one day we will pay for this.

        >Second, regarding Plan B, it is unrealistic

        Yes, I am aware of the IT problems and I remember fondly the series of articles from the Greek crisis.

        To my defense I can also say that I posed that exact same question to another Lega theorist (also considered instead of Savona) of Italexit, without reply.

        But that is not an excuse for not having a plan B. The fact that is difficult does not mean that one should not try. What happens if Italy is kicked out of the Euro?

        And again, neither Savona, nor M5S/Lega want to leave the Euro: they want to negotiate its completion, i.e. a surplus recycling mechanism and/or fiscal transfers from the North.

        And in order to negotiate that, they must be able to threaten with Italexit, otherwise they will get nowhere.

  7. The Rev Kev

    “What One New England Tree Can Tell Us About the Earth’s Future”

    Man. I really envy that guy. Being able to study a single great tree over the course of a year and to see how it inter-relates to its surroundings. Be great if you had a tree like that on your own place to watch over and learn about.

    That fox in tonight’s Antidote du jour – I think that I know what it is saying. It’s saying: “This water is freezing!”

    1. Amfortas the Hippie

      my own relationship with the Big Oak on our place is much less rigorously scientific. She’s(!) more a part of the family. My shop is located more or less under the northern side of the tree, and the east, south and west sides are kept open, and are where we go to hang out…me, most of all. I have spent a lot of time under this particular Post Oak, which I estimate is around 350+ years old:6 foot diameter trunk, about 50 feet tall, and a dripline around 100+ feet in diameter.
      There’s a lot going on up there…birds and squirrels and Texas Rat Snakes and wasps, eating each other, and the other, less visible critters who eat the tree, or eat other things that grow up there–lichen, moss(in this relatively arid place) and even a windblown cactus(Opuntia) that stays small, due to lack of resources, and an occasional specimen of sideoats grama that blew up there during a storm.
      I’m careful with what I do to the ground in the dripline, although I can’t really know what’s going on under there…I assume that it’s just as much as up above.
      More generally, we’ve noticed earlier budding and later leaffall, as well as strange birds and insects that turn out to be from the Rio Grande Valley, or even points further south. With every new bug I find, I worry what new pathogens it carries.
      These are rather robust trees, as a rule, but I often wonder if the distributed “garden” all around it is providing too much water(none of the beds are within the dripline)
      The seedlings that come up have proved impossible to transplant, and I’ve had limited success with planting acorns in pots…while mimicking the under-tree conditions as best I can…so I take buckets of leaves and sticks and acorns out into the rest of the place to allow new trees to grow. This has had a lot more success.
      I figger that if more folks had such a tree in their family, the world would be a better place.

      1. Darius

        Make flowerbeds where you want new oak trees. Rake acorns into the beds. If there are a bunch, the squirrels won’t get them all. They’ll sprout. After two or three years, cull the ones you don’t want. Let the others grow.

    2. nippersdad

      You don’t even have to wait that long to have a great tree! I planted a Shumard red oak in ’93. It was just a whip of about 3/4″ bought for six bucks at K-Mart, and it is now 100″ at chest height and a good eighty feet tall. The willow oaks planted in the last ten years have grown even faster.

      Tree watching is incredibly satisfying. I would recommend it to anyone.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Actually I do have a tree that I can an eye on in our front yard. It is nicknamed a racehorse tree because of the speed that it grows at but I think that the proper name is a Tipuana tree. It started off as a twig but is now huge and is big enough to shade our horse float. Having said that, I do like the trees that I saw in Europe more as they would be bare in winter, blossom with leaves and flowers in spring, go into lush green foliage in summer, turn gold and red and yellow in autumn, and then lose all their leaves for the winter. Autumn was great in France, Germany and Switzerland when the forests would be an explosion of colours.

    3. Wukchumni

      We have about 400 trees on the property, mostly 6 different types with Blue Oaks being the predominant one. I don’t keep tabs on one particular tree, more as to when they leaf out, or in the case of Buckeye trees, when they blossom into what looks like bunches of white bananas, as is the scenario now. Most everything goes dormant with the exception of Live Oaks & Manzanita trees, both of which suffered greatly in the long drought, as they never had any down time.

      Not one acorn in town is eaten by humans anymore, as was the case for a few thousand years here previously.

        1. Wukchumni

          I tried acorns one time, it’s a laborious process to shell them, and leach out the bitterness to make them palatable, and trust me, it wasn’t very.

          1. kareninca

            Trees vary greatly. We have a an oak on our corner (we’re in Silicon Valley) whose acorns are very sweet; they hardly require any leaching. I’ve seen dogs gobble them up. I’ve read that Ohlone family’s laid stake to the better ones.

  8. nyc transplant to south carolina

    My answer to the statement “Thanks for your service” is simply to say “Don’t thank me I was drafted and was a reluctant warrior in the Imperial Army”. So look horrified, confused, and some become angry. But I just smile and go on with what I am doing. As for any activities, I volunteer at the local VA and am an ardent supporter of anyone who wishes to end the “war forever and everywhere” regimes of the US.

    1. whine country

      I get the “Thanks for your service” almost every time I check out at Home Depot. Same as you I quickly clarify that I was drafted and merely chose service over jail or leaving the country. I also get some interesting reactions when I inform the clerks that I have earned more in compensation from Home Depot’s military discount than I was paid for my “service” (a grand total of about $8,000 including combat pay). That would be a very difficult accomplishment for today’s professional all-volunteer soldier. With no disrespect, today’s soldiers would more appropriately be greeted with “thank you for choosing a career in the military so we don’t have to”.

  9. crittermom

    Each of today’s antidotes is great. Love the fox swimming. Great photo!
    I have no desire to pet a fennec fox now, however, no matter how cute they are.

  10. Sid Finster

    Re: NFL vote – voting by informal show of hands was entirely intentional.

    That way, no owner need be held accountable or answer to angry members of the public, one way or.the other.

        1. Synoia

          Silly players, they should have keeled before the owners.
          Then they would still be kneeling. /s

        2. ambrit

          And, knee to where? I can’t find out because, I’m told, it’s a “Knee to know” subject.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            If they wanted to switch from one important topic (police brutality) to another important topic (right to protest before a football), they have succeeded.If

            The first one is more clear cut; the second, possible to debate endlessly.

            To protest against police brutality, at this stage, there are many avenues. They can shut down the anthem approach, but they can’t censor the message.

            To get the job done, it is probably more productive to leap-frog an ineffective obstacle.

    1. Eustache De Saint Pierre

      My initial theory was that he had switched his bank account from TSB.

  11. cocomaan

    David Graeber, as usual, shows that he’s one of the most original thinkers out there.

    Happy to buy his new book, I didn’t know he had a new one coming out!

    I’m of course in complete agreement about Bullshit Jobs and I think I’ve argued with Yves and others on here before about the federal job guarantee and how that works with Graeber’s thesis.

    But as for Bullshit Jobs, I’m leaving one now and taking a paycut to work for an organization doing less harm. Feels good.

    1. ambrit

      Start planning ahead now. As I’ve found out, except for seriously critical functions, ones’ age and experience are given no consideration at all. (Age has an actual negative effect on hiring decisions.)
      I used to get mad when anyone would mention Joseph Campbells admonition to “Follow your bliss.” He did, but he had the means of subsistence, and then some, when he himself took his “retreat” from society to ponder the cosmos. When you have to devote most of your time to providing the necessities for living, little ‘pondering’ of a philosophical nature gets done. You are too busy worrying, or planning your next campaign of acquisition.
      Poverty does not develop character. It merely brings out what is already lurking within. When poverty does its’ work on those who grow up in a society without solid ethical and or moral value systems, Eliots’ “The Hollow Men,” watch out!

  12. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    The more valuable your work is to society, the less you’ll be paid for it David Graeber, LinkedIn (!).

    If you dont get paid for doing your own housework, this demonstrates your long ignored claim that your work is most valuable, at least to yourself.

    The interesting thing is that if you and your neighbor agree to pay each other $100 to clean each other’s house, the GDP is larger by $200, but if you each does your own house and your husbands pay you nothing, the GDP is not changed.

    Of course, it does not happen like this in life. Typically, someone rides bus from South LA to Beverly Hills, and cleans a mansion for $50 and the GDP is $50 bigger.

    1. cocomaan

      This was a hilarious post, thank you. I posted about the graeber right above you but yours is better.

    2. Wukchumni

      We used to have who we called “the queen of clean” come every fortnight and like a whirling dervish, Angie would have our place spotless in about an hour and 42 minutes. She was an undocumented Guatemalan (whoops, there goes my stillborn political career) that did 5 houses a day, driving all over the City of Angles.

      1. ambrit

        “City of Angles.” All sharp no doubt.
        That looks to be a remake of “Wings of Desire” meets “The Bicycle Thieves.”
        Since Peter Falk is now a real spirit, I think maybe Michael Fassbinder for the “Fallen Angle.”
        The centre of the action would be set in a fictional “Scalenes Diner.” The ‘Angles’ would hang out on the shoulder of the Statue of Liberty. The sequel would be, of course, “Knight and the City.” Set in London, naturally. A lot of moral and ethical wrestling would transpire.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I’m trying to work my way through Fassbinder’s 940 minutes long Alexanderplatz.

          1. ambrit

            It is worth the work.
            I’d pair it up with Viscontis’ “The Damned.” And perhaps “Open City” for a ‘how it all worked out’ lesson. “Open City” can segue into “The Bicycle Thieves.” Top it all off with “The Night Porter.”
            Conrad was right in having Kurtz whisper, “The Horror! The Horror!” at the end of “Heart of Darkness.” Conrad correctly referred to it as “The fascination of the abomination.”
            Some one elses’ musings on the subject:

  13. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    U.S. Tariff Threat Could Scuttle Planned Trade Talks With China WSJ

    Is Trump constantly probing his opponents, to see how much more he could get, what his next move would be?

    As of this moment, I haven’t come across any retaliating tariffs from China in the news. Did the negotiators detect China had a weak hand in the initial rounds? Showing that publicly, though, is bad for Beijing. People there will take that as another foreign humiliation, as bad PR as a rosing, strong economic power taking in America’s trash/garbage shipped across the Pacific.

      1. Oregoncharles

        The Natives whose land it crosses (in the Rockies!) have threatened out right war, and there are plenty of whites to back them up. Bringing back the Indian Wars would be quite an achievement.

        I think even the federal government have a long way to go to finish that one. So it’s entirely possible the taxpayers will get severely skinned.

  14. Synoia

    ABC took a big risk with ‘Roseanne’ reboot — and it just backfired

    1. There is no such thing as bad PR
    2. Do a significant number of people agree with Roseanne?
    3. She’s apologized.
    4. Freedom of speech applies.

    Recommendation for Roseanne: Move to utube, or put up your own streaming site.

    1. Tom_Doak

      That’s a great recommendation, but much harder to implement if TPTB don’t like what you’re selling.

  15. fresno dan

    Second, it’s important that conservatives understand that because politics is downstream from culture, we are going to lose in politics, eventually. You only have to look at the polls on what Millennials believe — and don’t believe — to see that.
    Ireland votes to allow abortion…er, freedom of choice.
    It wasn’t so long ago that Obama was ambivalent about gay marriage (BTW, what electable repub wants a constitutional amendment outlawing gay marriage? isn’t gay marriage the one case where repubs actually believe in “federalism”)
    So will this “liberalism” move eventually to economic issues e.g., health care for all, less power for the plutocrats, etc? I will forgo my usual cynicism, and posit that eventually people will eventually understand that without some balance between the POWER of the rich and all others, there can be no social justice.

    1. ambrit

      You assume that “the rich” do not actively oppose social justice. Look at the distribution of wealth in the society, and then wonder why the ‘lower orders’ don’t peacefully shift the public policy. /s
      I really wonder; is revolution the publics’ only feasible recourse?

      1. a different chris

        All revolutions are initiated by the bourgeois. The poor don’t have the time let alone any leftover energy.

        So I think they are trying to make the 90% as poor as possible as quickly as possible for exactly that reason.

        1. ambrit

          What about ‘Peasants’ Revolts’ over the ages?
          I agree that we cannot include ‘coups’ in the list of revolutions.

  16. Mildred Montana

    Re: Canadian government purchase of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Pipeline

    A shrewd Wall Street type once said, “When the government is selling, buy; when it’s buying, sell.” Fortunes have been made following that simple rule. Exhibit A, the defense industry.

    Canadian taxpayers can only hope that they won’t be skinned too badly.

    1. RMO

      Don’t worry about us, we’re monetarily sovereign with a floating fiat currency and it’s the federal government doing the purchasing!

      This is going to be a great deal for Canada. Every bit as good as say clearcutting a rainforest watershed that contains a sacred burial ground to build a trillion dollar state of the art facility to mass produce eight track tapes would have been back in 1983.

  17. ambrit

    I tried to read the NBER paper on Greenland and met with an attempt at extortion in the sum of $5.00 USD.
    So, I read the explanation, wherin it states that people residing in developing countries and some others can get free downloads. How civilized! So, I click through to how that term ‘developing countries’ is defined. It cites a threshold figure of $35,000 USD per capita GDP figure as the cut off point. That leads to an IMF site with national GDP figures. Hoping against hope, I scroll down to the United States. Curses! It lists the U S as having a GDP per capita of $62,150 USD! No free download for this deplorable.
    Thinking about it, I suddenly discovered that: “I want my other $50,000 USD!”
    So, given these figures, where will a Jobs Guarantee or a Guaranteed Basic Income set their thresholds? Where the base lines from which all else is measured are set will tell the tale.
    We could march on Washington and call it the “GDP Army.”
    “Back in the fifties and sixties we worked hard to build an economy that is benefiting the wealthy today. Now we want the share of that wealth we were promised back then!” Etc.

    1. Wukchumni


      I’d settle for fleets of sturdy jetpacks, so common now that people complained when Silicon Valley types thought they’d flood SF with them.

    2. Carolinian

      Or in lieu of the fifty grand the government could at least buy us all subscriptions to NBER. Those are bizarre sign in terms. But good luck with your quest!

    3. economicator

      The Opera browser has a built-in free VPN. The VPNs offered are on a few countries around the world – have not checked if any of them fall below the $35,000 cutoff line – but you can try and I intend to check. So with some luck you can read NBER papers that way, just select a VPN through say, S. Korea (believe it is offered and believe it has under 35K per capita).

      1. ambrit

        Almost like the good old “Black Boxes” for telephony back in the day.
        Was it ever such that; “Identity is fungible?”

  18. Synoia

    Italy’s Nightmare Has No End In Sight

    Why Italy’s nightmare? It is an EU problem, that the sovereign, the EU, has no mechanism to transfer surpluses to defect regions.

    Except the ECB, buying Italy’s Bonds with Euros created for that purpose.

  19. a different chris

    Paul Craig Roberts is very good. One quibble, not with the facts but with the presentation:

    >When I went to Georgia Tech, a premier engineering school, my annual tuition was less than $500.

    He needed to put that in today’s dollars. I don’t know when he went to GTech, for all I know he could by a house for $1000 then. So it isn’t useful w/out a bit of fleshing out.

    1. sleepy

      I attended Loyola Univ. law school in New Orleans in the mid-70s. My tuition was c. $800/semester. Rent for a nice apt was c. $125 or so. I made most of my 1st semester’s tuition by driving an ice cream truck during the summer. Try that nowadays–tuition is closer to $15,000/semester.

      1. Harold

        $800.00 today is $3,799.98 according to website calculator Dollar Times.

        $125.00 rent is $593.75, or rather those 1975 sums in today’s buying power.

        1. LifelongLib

          So the tuition today is about 4 times as much in constant dollars as it was in the mid-70s…wonder if rents have shown a similar trend…stuff is cheap but the basics keep costing more and more…

            1. LifelongLib

              It’s not just overall inflation but the way costs for basics like rent, education, and health care have surged while things like TVs have gotten cheaper. In the 70s I could rent a room (cramped but livable) for $50 a month when a color TV cost like $500. So what, for entertainment I’d read. Nowadays the prices are completely reversed. People have incredible entertainment devices but can’t afford a place to live.

    1. pretzelattack

      but wait, is it legal not to use highly paid consultants in a democratic primary? heads will roll.

      1. HotFlash

        Heavens!! We can only hope that Dem congressional primaries have the same onerous rigorous conditions as Dem presidential primaries, and, of course, still have a tame registrar to ‘lose’ the wrong sort of voters. I remember that Bernie supporters had to have registered many months before the actual vote, and apparently that is still not fixed. Anybody know what the registration date is for the congressional primary?

    1. marym

      He’s 93, but in any case, Carter has accumulated sufficient actual virtue to speak out if he has an opinion on public policy and politics.

      To avoid a conflict of interest as President he put his peanut farm and warehouse into a trust so blind that he didn’t know it was being mismanaged. When he left office he worked to pay off the debts and restore the business. He was also investigated and cleared of charges that money was diverted from the warehouse to his campaign.

      Post-Presidency accomplishments:
      The Carter Center

      A nongovernmental organization, The Carter Center has helped to improve life for people in more than 80 countries by resolving conflicts; advancing democracy and human rights; preventing diseases; and improving mental health care. Carter received the Nobel prize for this work.

      Habitat for Humanity – Carter Work Project

      President and Mrs. Carter have been building with Habitat for Humanity since 1984. See a timeline of the locations for the past Carter Work Projects from 1984 to 2017.


      1. HotFlash

        Thanks, marym, you said it way better than what I was typing. Whatever he did or didn’t do, it’s over to us now. Although, Ms Albright and Dr. Kissinger do, IMO, have huge debts that they should be working off.

      2. marym

        Correcting typo: The sentence re Carter’s Nobel was part of my comment. It should be outside the quote of the Carter Center description from their website.

  20. Oregoncharles

    From the Paul Craig Roberts article on Russia: ” the Russian government’s mistaken belief that Russian economic development is dependent on Russia being included as part of the West ”

    That is not a new development; Russians have yearned to join Europe and the West for a long time, at least since Peter the Great. Western Europe mostly responded by calling them Orientals; ethnically, of course, they’re Indo-European, except for the minorities they’ve conquered, but geographically, Russia is precisely the transition from West to East – as is the Middle East, thought the ethnic differences are greater there. The same is true historically: the Duchy of Moscow developed as a dependency of the Mongol empire. Driving back the Mongols and their heirs was a chief theme of Russia’s early history. And geographically, of course, the country is roughly equal parts Europe and Asia – a completely artificial distinction.

    Russia’s ambition to be part of the West has driven its culture and policy for a long time.

  21. The other Tony

    The High Country News article on Portland gentrification was fascinating. Living in Portland my entire life, I was aware of only some of it, but had never heard the story regarding Emanuel hospital. Shame on me. Don’t get me wrong, there are many things I love about Portland and I know it is not the only place that has these problems, but it seems Portland is either in denial or just plain ignorant about them. For instance in relation to the article’s description of the fallout from the Vanport flood and the Albina neighborhood, the Irving neighborhood right next to it, experienced white flight in the 1950’s. Then in the 1980’s gentrification came to that neighborhood, displacing the minority community that had formed there. Today, when I drive through the neighborhood I see Black Live Matter lawn signs and I marvel at the historical amnesia it takes to put that up without irony. Now the neighborhood has been declared a historical neighborhood and I think they have brought back more of the history than they realized, as it is affluent and predominantly white. To make matters worse, the historical declaration is slowing the building of more housing which could bring down housing prices, so now a house that 20 years ago was selling for 200K is going for over 1 million. (I know there are other factors, but it doesn’t help). I am sure there are African Americans and other minorities that could afford to live there, but like the woman (Nikki Williams) referenced in the article, why would they want to pay that much to do so. Ms. Williams’ comment about feeling “isolated and alienated” is a sentiment shared by many racial minorities in Portland, and both Portland’s history and continued gentrification, do nothing to remedy that. Sorry, this turned into a rant, as said above, I just feel Portland is in denial of this problem. Finally, I want to acknowledge that I am a white male. I do so to make clear that I am aware of how tin eared it can be for a white person to talk about racism. Any harsh tone in this comment is meant for the political establishment of Portland and for myself, for not doing enough to kick them where it counts.

  22. KFritz

    Re: Guardian article on Irish referendum

    There’s nothing to disagree with in the article. The strategy and tactics of the referendum proponents were intelligent and succeeded in the vicinity of perfection.

    BUT. As nearly, as I can tell, issues of class, money, and personal/political/national identity weren’t on the table, or at least weren’t keys to the vote. These factors were central to the other voting disasters listed. The lessons of the referendum need to be used by opponents of irrationality, but with ‘prestige’ issues involved, don’t count on intelligent strategy ‘trumping’ appeals to the ad hominem.

  23. Chauncey Gardiner

    Re article “Have central banks missed the exit train?”: I think so, but also that they are not going to climb aboard another train to the desired destination of their own volition. They will never admit they made a mistake and that their neoliberal markets-monetary policy set isn’t up to the task. That admission is not something a policy elite will ever do willingly, for it means the end of their proprietary grip on power.

    What was Einstein’s definition of insanity again?… It’s far past time to consider policies besides “QE-NIRP” coupled with private debt growth, privatization of publicly owned assets, rigged markets, and austerity. And after a decade of neoliberal economic policies that have devastated many industrial towns and damaged Italian society, isn’t that what the Italian electorate is saying?

    Further, what is the pathway to “normalization”? After fostering an environment that led to the collapse of the financial system in 2008, the central bankers saved the banks ostensibly to save the village. But they had to destroy the village in order to save it, and there were and are other ways to save the payments system besides destroying the village, albeit ideological anathema. It might have required explicit recognition of the TBTFs’ betrayal of capital and the related stock and bond losses of the 1 Percent, for example, perhaps through the banks’ nationalization.

    Btw, I noticed this morning that Deutschebank stock is currently trading well below its low during the financial crisis in 2009. Oh, what to do?… What to do?…

    1. WobblyTelomeres

      betrayal of capital

      Would someone unpack this for me? Is there some honor among thieves presumed here?

      1. Chauncey Gardiner

        “Panics do not destroy capital; they merely reveal the extent to which it has been previously destroyed by its betrayal into hopelessly unproductive works.” —John Stuart Mill

  24. Alex

    Re America’s Fifth Column Will Destroy Russia

    There are things that are definitely true (like that the neoliberal ideology has influenced the economic policy a lot) but there’s a lot of factual errors as well. For example this passage

    As Michael Hudson and I explained to the Russians two years ago, when Russia borrows from the West, the US for example, and in flow the dollars, what happens to the dollars? Russia cannot spend them domestically to finance development projects, so where do the dollars go? They go into Russia’s foreign exchange holdings and accrue interest for the lender. The central bank then creates the ruble equivalent of the borrowed and idle dollars and finances the project. So why borrow the dollars?

    First, Russia has been borrowing very little over the last 15 years. Second, almost any development effort would require imports because the native industry can’t supply all that is needed. Consider the auto industry where it’s either the international companies that produce cars in Russia or Russian companies that are very much integrated with the foreign ones (VAZ-Renault-Nissan).

    The author also suggests that it’s in Russia’s interest to break with the West which is extremely stupid just from a geopolitical/macchiavellian point of view. Then it would have to get all the things it now gets from the West from China, as no one else is producing them, and being dependent on China is definitely worse than balancing between China and the West.

  25. VietnamVet

    I read DK’s antidote above as:

    “Oligarchs stole the money, doesn’t really know what to do with it, but won’t give it back.”

    This explains Italy’s and the West’s Economic Crisis in a nutshell.

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