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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Balancing Budgets As Financial Warfare on Ordinary People

An actual country is an economic unit with a government. Balancing a countries "budget" should not be about the countries money supply primarily, but about the resources, capabilities and production necessary to the health of that country and its relations with its neighbors and trading partners. Money measures economic wealth and enables trade, taxes and sales of production. A country's budget is not solely about its bank account but about the people living in that country and their bank accounts. And in the modern world, no single country stands alone, rather we all must work together. Thus as Henry George prescribed 120 years ago and James Galbraith has demonstrated in his writings:

“In a successful financial system, there must be a state larger than any market. That state must have monetary control – as the Federal Reserve does, without question, in the United States.” [Review of The Poisoned Challice]

Friday, November 25, 2016

EMAD Trump -- why the wheels won't come off in Time

An article in The Globe by Thomas Homer Dixon tries to find a rainbow in all the storm clouds. But I'm afraid it doesn't work for me. He describes the Trumpenführer as a Social Dominator:

"like a bizarre hybrid of an idiot savant and a Mafia don." Who is "scarily brilliant when it comes to understanding and manipulating a crowd’s emotions, especially its anger and fear."

Problem is that he could be describing Hitler or Mussolini. In fact Thomas Dixon is describing the classic dictator personality of what Altemeyer describes as the "Socially Dominant" Demagogue! He is describing Trump's epitomizing the EMAD Scale:

E: Trump is Exploitive!
M: Trump is Manipulative!
A: Trump is Amoral
D: Trump is Deeply Dishonest
E.M.A.D!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Trump's Infrastructure plan is Dreck

Giving Sovereignty over the Economy to Pirates

When Hillary talked about balancing the budget without adding to the national debt, I wanted to cheer, and about investing in infrastructure. wanted to cheer largely and disagree in part. But when Trump talks about infrastructure investment I want to jeer his privateering plans. She and her advisors are still under the sway of certain myths about money and economy that are deeply entrenched in American Academia, Business & Finance. But, thanks to the influence of the Post Keynesians, less so than before. Her plans were reasons for guarded optimism. His are pure Dreck

Trump's Plan is a Scam

It will:

  1. Will enrich the already wealthy
  2. Loot the Treasury immediately through bonds &
  3. Loot the treasury long term by transferring ownership to private persons
  4. Be funded by Tax cuts, tax breaks and tolls/rents

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Good Bye Aunt Patty

My Aunt Patty died last week. The service was 11/19/2016 (yesterday). And I wanted to memorialize her because in addition to being my mom's only Sister she was a great person; very caring, loving and dedicated to helping others. She loved most the house she lived in Lusby. A lot of stories were told yesterday. Some were too private to share here right now. But I wanted to share this poem dedicated to her. Maybe I'll write about some of them later, before I forget them and they float on the wind.
Let the children run and play here!
Love, don't send them away, my dears.
I am mother to them all, son.
Don't drive them away from where I sleep.
For their happiness is in our keep.
 
I sleep restfully, knowing
their footsteps are overhead
Their running comforts my dreams
They cannot disturb my sleep.
 
Let the children play dear,
Tell them they're always welcome here
For my time among the living is over, it is clear
And it was so they could dance near
And enjoy life beneath the sun.
 
Christopher Hartly Holte

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The Fallacy of the Final Answer

History presents us with a lot of lessons. Some of those lessons are about our fallacious reasoning. One of our primary fallacies is the "fallacy of the final answer." Throughout history, mankind, and individuals have made this mistake. Chariots, close in formation legionaries, Armored Cavalry, Maginot lines, etc.... each, in turn, found itself countered and bested. In military thinking, in strategic thinking, in Science, in the Soft Sciences, in all of these endeavors; theories rise and fall, get revised, lost and reborn. And we humans still grope, fruitlessly, to put a final framework on the truth. History doesn't end. Theories tend to display weaknesses that beg revisions. One generation's certainties are the next's subject for refutations. The fallacy of the final answer is the hubris of mankind.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Hannah Arendt, Donald Trump and the Stateless

Nativists Versus the Stateless

Around the world nativism is raising it's ugly head again. Some People in nations all over the world are rising in rejection of immigrants, refugees and minorities among their own people. This phenomena is not new. It is not trivial or benign either. It was a feature of totalitarianism in the 30s and since. It is also a feature of totalitarian groups.

Demagoguing Immigrants

Unfortunately, we just elected a Nativist President in the United States. His premier appointments are the open nativist Bannon and the racist Reince Prebius. The "alt right" is just an updated fascism. They are folks who openly admire Hitler as a hero and want to continue his work. People who proudly wear KKK robes and talk about race war and their own identity. They are openly fascist. And their target are people who are minorities, "mixed races" and the stateless. Nativism is as ugly now as it has ever been. And nativists are set to direct the country from the White House. Trump himself talks openly about his racialist beliefs, but mainly he is demagogueing the subject.

Von Mises and Tony Wikrent

Economic Sophism

Sophism in economics and politics is like the Hydra. As soon as you cut off one head, new ones grow. Fascism never really goes away.

After we defeated the Nazis their fascism simply morphed into new forms. The same tropes that animated Mediterranean fascist states soon animated Latin American, Greek, Indonesian and other movements. What works for bomb throwing lefties works for bomb throwing righties. And it gets hard to tell them apart as they radicalize.

Similarly, the economic theories that support both monarchism and fascism never really went away. They are too convenient to the patroons to fund them to be allowed to go away. They serve the needs of the ambitious, to social climbers, grifters, swindlers and those with the perverse ambition and power to preserve and extend their personal power using them to bamboozle followers. So the shills for such ideas, don't disappear, they adapt.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Are Central Bankers Pirates with a Conscience or simply Clueless?

I get feeds from conservative websites. This lets me see "what the other side" of arguments are. Usually I find that whatever they are saying reflects a point of view I disagree with. But they have to argue based on facts, and any argument based on facts is subject to debate. No article reflects this more than the article I'm reviewing here:

"Do Central Bankers Know What They're Doing Anymore?" by Kevin Dowd

Review

If you accept his central premise, then his arguments are on point. However I cannot accept his central Premise, and indeed I think anyone in the Modern Money Theory (movement) or who is a Post Keynesian would argue that his central premise is really what is wrong with Banking. Moreover it is why the Bankers are caught in no-win situations. They have no clue because the industry they regulate is self-destructive and all that they do as long as they accept that central premise will fail.

Separation of Money and State

He tries to put it in government principles:

"Separating Money and State" [Dowd]

The Tory Revolt

For the Pirates, Kevin Dowd describes how the "Tories" wanted the Bank of England to "be operationally independent of governments":

"We [the Tory “survivors”] decided not to demur. In private, we had considered doing the same thing ourselves. The idea that central banks should be free of political pressures and the electoral cycle as they set interest rates had become a prevailing one across the world — with good reason after the many wild swings in inflation and interest rates over previous decades." [Dowd]

The problem is that the Tory Bankers don't really want the bank to be free of politics, they want it free of "popular considerations" and to serve their "private, separate interest" first. That this is the definition of Tyranny according to Locke Doesn't occur to them. Of course John Locke was a Whig and these are Tories, a word that derives from a word for highwaymen and pirates ("toraidhe"). So this should be no surprise. But Tories dominate Banking and Finance world-wide and they especially dominate Central Banking, which has roots in pirateering and colonialism.

So separating the central banks from "political concerns" is really letting the central banks govern money for, by and of the interests of the banking system, without considering concepts of commonwealth, common-weal, or common sense. With pretty much inevitable results.

Inevitable results

Dowd rightly notes that PM Brown and the Tories got what they wanted. And seem to be misusing it. Referencing William Hague he notes how:

"Hague goes on to suggest that central bankers have badly misused the powers that were granted them and are “now in deep trouble,” continuing to pursue “emergency policies” that are “becoming steadily more unpopular and counter-productive.” Unless a course correction comes soon, central bankers “will find their independence increasingly under attack.” [Dowd]

He continues by noting that:

"In 2008 the central banks reacted to a massive crisis they had completely failed to foresee by cutting rates to record lows and embarking on “quantitative easing” … The trouble is that eight years later they are, to varying degrees, still doing it. Like doctors keeping their patients on a drip many years after an operation, they are losing credibility and producing very dangerous side effects." [Dowd]

Clearly quantitative easing isn't removing liquidity traps, freeing investment, putting workers back to work or much of anything except slowing a slide to misery for just about everyone, including the Tory Class. Therefor the question becomes;

"why are these “emergency policies” counter-productive?"

Wrong Diagnosis, Wrong Prescription

I think we can agree with Dowd and Hague that they aren't working. Indeed and naturally Tories like Dowd and Martin Hutchinson would use the failures to justify doubling down on destructive policies. Indeed they claim the "Overton Window" is moving in their direction, which is code for the willingness of the general public to swallow painful "medicines." They might be right. The Tories have done this before. It doesn't work, but it appears to improve things when Central Bank policy is failing. Dowd is right that "central banks are facing a legitimation crisis." But while he borrows Marxian language (actually term coined by Jürgen Habermas) but his prescription is anything but Marxist!

He rightly points out:

"He then outlines no less than 10 serious drawbacks from ZIRP and QE that could be “politically explosive or economically unwise if continued indefinitely”:

  1. Savers find they can’t earn a worthwhile return and are driven into riskier assets whose prices rise further.
  2. Asset holders get much richer, but others are left out, seriously exacerbating social and political divides and fueling the anger behind populist campaigns.
  3. Pension funds have poor returns and therefore suffer huge deficits, causing businesses to have to put more money into them rather than finance expansion.
  4. Banks find it harder to run a viable business, a problem very evident now in Germany and Italy.
  5. Those who are able to save more do so, because they need a bigger pot of savings to get an equivalent return, i.e., low-interest rates cause those people to spend less, not more.
  6. Companies have an incentive to use borrowed money to buy back shares rather than spend the money on new productive investments. Central banks are buying up corporate bonds, not just government bonds, so they are acquiring risky assets themselves and giving preference to some companies over others.
  7. Zombie companies are allowed to stay in business only because they can borrow so cheaply, which drags down productivity. Pumping up the prices of stock markets and houses without an underlying improvement in economic performance becomes ever more difficult to unwind and ultimately threatens an almighty crash when it does come to an end.
  8. When people see emergency measures going on for nearly a decade it undermines their confidence in central bankers, whom they think have lost the plot.

[Dowd]

A Classic Liquidity Trap

All of these are caused by the inability of the banking system to move investment into actual capital spending and out of reserves. My friend Kimbal Corson ties this to hoarding of liquidity. This creates a classic and persistent overall liquidity trap as described by John Maynard Keynes, but not amenable to using the banking system to fix under current rules. It requires fiscal measures, but those are constrained by the need for governments to borrow to pay for those measures. Around the world entire nations are trapped by bad central banking policies. Why?

Well for Dowd, Hague and Hutchinson the solution requires pain. hard choices:

"I am not an economist but I have come to the conclusion that central banks collectively have now indeed lost the plot. The whole point of their independence was that they could be brave enough to make people confront reality. Yet in reality, they are blowing up a bubble of make-believe money to avoid immediate pain, except for penalizing the poor and the prudent." [Dowd]

Reality for Tories = Pain

Make people confront reality == foreclosures, layoffs, business closures. Yet QE just draws out that same process into a slow torture. The solution they want is for a condominium of Central Banks to

"no single central bank could reverse these policies without causing a recession for their own country, unless there was a coordinated move by all central bankers to gradually raise interest rates." [Dowd]

Doing it in Concert might cause World Wide Depression

Not only are the central bankers clueless, but so are Dowd, Hague and Hutchinson. Their "solution" would benefit the financial sector but not necessarily do anything for workers, small business or others. But they face a situation where the money supply is not sovereign anywhere! And this is the result of not having liquidity in the system. Bankers don't lend because they know they won't get returns. People can't borrow because they don't have the credit. They don't have the credit because they don't have the money. They don't have the money because those who have it won't invest. That is a Keynesian liquidity trap on a world scale. He notes:

"The policies of any one central bank may well be perfectly rational ... But so is a decision by any one sheep to run with the flock when in danger. The trouble is that the whole flock might be heading for a cliff." [Dowd]

And if they act in concert their is no guarantee that raising interest rates will not send the whole world off that cliff. To the Tories of banking not raising interest rates is the disaster. But the real disaster is that bankers are being forced to deal with Governing issues they are incompetent to fix. Everyone in the Post Keynesian/MMT movement knows that this trap requires Fiscal spending and money going to the right hands for the right purposes. QE just goes to the wrong hands for the wrong reasons.

Wrong Hands for Wrong Reasons

"I have bad news for them. The accumulating effects of loose monetary policy globally are intensely political. When pension funds renege on promises, or inequality widens further, or savers become desperate, huge public and political anger is gong to burst over the heads of the world’s central banks."" [Dowd]

The real problem is that the "loose money" is in the hands of people not prepared to spend on actual capital or things that will break the worldwide liquidity trap. QE puts printed money in the hands of privateers, speculators and lenders with no one to lend to. Without a means to dry out excess reserves it just adds to the reserves of banks and lets them concentrate their businesses even more.

Dowd quotes Hague's prescription:

"The only way out is for the US Fed to summon the courage to lead the way to higher interest rates, and others to follow slowly but surely. If they fail to do so, the era of their much-vaunted independence will come, possibly quite dramatically, to its end." [Dowd]

One of my friends demonstrated mathematically that such increases in interest rates drive inequality and commodity inflation (though they depress wages). However if interest rates in the commercial sector go up while Governments have the resources to spend money into existence and invest in needed services and infrastructure, then that is no longer such an issue. Using MMT principles; farmers are fronted the money for seed and tools rather than having to borrow in such a way that they get no benefit from a mediocre harvest. Cities fix roads and highways without running out of money because the money lent is paid for with tax collections at the end of the seasons. The Tories consider such "funny money" but I'm sure they'll pay their taxes with it if it is actual legal tender.

Recession as a "Cure" for QE that is worse than the disease

To the wealthy Tories of banking, the only solution that is acceptable is for the USA to raise its interest rates so that other countries will be forced to follow suit and bankers can begin loaning at usury again. Raising interest rates will not work. It will simply start to hurt folks who need to borrow money and depress the ability of local government to spend on local needs. Which just drives the centralization and impoverisment cycle.

But they are right that all the countries need to work in concert. What they need to do is to:

  1. raise taxes uniformly and progressively on unearned incomes from rent and speculation while protecting basic income.
  2. Issue notes at zero interest to local and general government backed by expected tax collections or for productive projects.
  3. Use MMT principles to invest in infrastructure, markets and tax back unearned profits from the money privilege.
  4. Tax monopolies out of existence or into management as public utilities for the general good.
  5. Protect resources put back into the economy from taxation so that there is incentive not to hoard liquid wealth.
  6. Enable governments to engage in fiscal policy without usurious burden on their citizens.
  7. Give countries credit for their exports at zero interest and let them spend that on imports.

This is in draft form -- I have a couple of related pieces to write before it will be a finished product.

Tories and Whigs
"Word Tory derived from the Irish toraidhe ‘outlaw, highwayman,’ from tóir ‘pursue.’ The word was used of Irish peasants dispossessed by English settlers and living as robbers, and extended to other marauders especially in the Scottish Highlands. It was then adopted circa 1679 as an abusive nickname for supporters of the Catholic James II." Also describes pirates, including legal pirates (privateers).
http://holtesthoughts.blogspot.com/2015/09/tories-and-whigs.html
"Do Central Bankers Know What They're Doing Anymore?" by Kevin Dowd
https://fee.org/articles/do-central-bankers-know-what-theyre-doing-anymore

Draft published 11/3/2016

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Front Money First then tax the Money Privilege

Sustaining an Economy that has the feature of Commonwealth Via MMT principles

Source: [Levy]

When Hillary talks about balancing the budget without adding to the national debt, I disagree a bit with her. She and her advisors are still under the sway of certain myths about money and economy that are deeply entrenched in American Academia, Business & Finance. Although thanks to the influence of the Post Keynesians and Modern Money Theory (MMT), less so than before. This is a reason for guarded optimism. I hope she'll listen to what he has to say. If Trump wins, heaven help us. If we can develop an economy with sovereign powers over our money we can do everything we want to, within reason, well. This is because most of what we've been taught about balancing budgets is false.