Saturday, January 21, 2017

Patrick Armstrong — Trump Day One

My interest, as a non-American, is, first and foremost, in Washington’s future foreign policy (which really means, these days, war – there hasn’t been much of anything else this century). As I wrote four months ago “To me, the choice in the US election is utterly simple: the most important thing is stopping the perpetual wars of the New American Century.” I believed then and believe more strongly today that US President Trump carries the hope that this will be so....
The theme of his approach to foreign relations is this:
We will seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world – but we do so with the understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first.We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example for everyone to follow.We will reinforce old alliances and form new ones – and unite the civilized world against Radical Islamic Terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the Earth.…
“The understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first“; when did we last hear an American President promise that? Indeed the theme of the Twenty-First Century has been that only “Exceptional America” has important interests. From a former Vice-President: “the most powerful, good and noble country in the history of mankind“; from a former President: “I believe America is exceptional, in part because we have shown a willingness… to stand up, not only for our own interests, but for the interests of all.” What other nation’s puny, erroneous and mundane interest can possibly stand against such glory, righteousness and sanctity?….
Russia Observer
Trump Day One
Patrick Armstrong

Violent Protest

Have to agree with Spencer here.  Trump has to put the wood to these people or he will be perceived as weak.

Trump first visit day 1: CIA

Straightening things out with the career people at that agency as job one, seems like his election was met with relief by those in attendance.

War with the mainstream press continues only now Trump has not to deal with the old political barriers in the Executive Branch.

Video of Trump's short statements made to CIA staff here.

Robert Parry — Selectivity in Trashing Trump

If — in a rush to demonize and impeach President Trump — Democrats and progressives solidify support for wars of choice in the Middle East, a New Cold War with Russia and a Davos-style elitism, they could further alienate many people who might otherwise be their allies.
In other words, selectivity in opposing and criticizing Trump – where he rightly deserves it – rather than opportunism in rejecting everything that Trump says might make more sense. A movement built entirely on destroying Trump could drop Democrats and progressives into some politically destructive traps.
As veteran who served during war time, I am anti-war when it comes to wars of choice rather than national defense. I will oppose the war party no matter what else they embrace politically.

Consortium News
Selectivity in Trashing Trump
Robert Parry

Jon Rappaport — One takeaway from Trump’s inauguration speech: gangs

I could list 10 interesting things Trump said yesterday. And of course, words aren’t actions. Yet. But here is one remark you’re not going to get, and never did get, from any recent president:
Mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities…And the crime and the gangs and the drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential. This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.”
To which Rachel Maddow (MSNBC) replied:
“It was militant and it was dark. The crime, the gangs, the drugs, this ‘American carnage,’ disrepair, decay. You can’t imagine the outgoing president giving a speech like that.”
She’s right, because the outgoing president never did anything to stop the carnage. If she thinks Trump’s language was too militant, she should try talking to mothers who live in those inner cities, who are trapped and held hostage by gangs, who want a nation of laws, and can’t find a way to live safely with their children by eating Obamas’s high-flying empty rhetoric.
Obama somehow managed to spend eight years in the White House and never mention, with any significance, GANGS. Eight years…and nothing. Yet he was The One who was going rescue America’s inner cities.
Find an inauguration speech by any recent president in which the word GANGS appears.
Is the whole point of being presidential an avoidance of stark realities? Is that what all the Rachel Maddows want? They’re not living in those neighborhoods. They’re not up against the gangs and the crime and drugs every day and every night.
The truth is, it’s offensive for a president not to mention these things....
Jon Rappaport's Blog
One takeaway from Trump’s inauguration speech: gangs
Jon Rappaport

David Henderson — Ominous Inaugural Addresses

If Donald Trump understood trade and immigration, that would not be ominous at all. Because if he made every decision on trade and immigration "to benefit American workers and American families," he would decide to move in the direction of lower tariffs and import restrictions and fewer restrictions on immigration. Remember that "American workers and American families" includes pretty much all Americans, including those who gain from buying cheap imports (which, by the way, is all of us) and those who gain from hiring cheaper labor. The fact of gains from trade and immigration is not controversial in the economics literature. What makes this statement ominous is that Trump doesn't understand trade.
What's ominous is that economists like this don't understand ordinary families problems and the effects on politics in a representative democracy. This election was unusual in that the establishment of neither party was able to prevail precisely because they were not paying attention to this. This is the reason for Brexit, too, and it is also the reason for the disintegration of the Eurozone and the rise of the right in Europe.

Why these pundits don't get is that immigration is not an economic issue as much as a political one and the embedded labor in imports is ersatz immigration.

"Build the wall" is symbolic of this. As I recall, Lou Dobbs was the first to pick up on this, although it may have been Pat Buchanan that was first. Both was mocked for it as was Donald Trump, but DJT parlayed it to victory — unless you believe the lame excuse that "Putin did it."

These establishment types are clueless about reality and can only see the world through their models based on restrictive assumptions that make them worthless in application to political economy and policy formulation.

Ominous Inaugural Addresses
David Henderson, research fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution and is also associate professor of economics at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California

Alastair Crooke — What is this ‘Crisis’ of Modernity?

Raúl Ilargi Meijer:
The people at Conflicts Forum, which is directed by former British diplomat and MI6 ‘ranking figure’ Alastair Crooke, sent me an unpublished article by Alastair and asked if the Automatic Earth would publish it. Since I like his work and I (re-)published two of his articles last year already, ‘End of Growth’ Sparks Wide Discontent in October 2016 and Obstacles to Trump’s ‘Growth’ Plans in November 2016, I’m happy to. 
His arguments here are very close to much of what the Automatic Earth has been advocating for years, both when it comes to our financial crisis and to our energy crisis. Our Primerssection is full of articles on these issues written through the years. It’s a good thing other people pick up too on topics like EROEI, and understand you can’t run our modern, complex society on ‘net energy’ as low as what we get from any of our ‘new’ energy sources. It’s just not going to happen. 
Here’s Alastair:
The Automatic Earth
What is this ‘Crisis’ of Modernity?

Joe Concha — MSNBC's Chris Matthews: Trump inauguration speech 'Hitlerian'

MSNBC's Chris Matthews said Friday that President Trump's inaugural address was both "Hitlerian" and meant to mimic Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“When he said today ‘America First,’ * it was not just the racial — I mean, I shouldn’t say racial, the Hitlerian** background to it, but it was the message I kept thinking," Matthews said.

The professional pseudo-left has lost it.


Clueless about what is actually going on and the failure of the left in adopting neoliberal, neoconservative, and liberal interventionist policies that ran counter to the leaning of the electorate.

The Hill
MSNBC's Chris Matthews: Trump inauguration speech 'Hitlerian'
Joe Concha

* Note that "America First" is now generally associated with Pat Buchanan before Donald Trump took it over and ran with it successfully. However, those more historically inclined will associate it with Charles Lindbergh, who advocated for a noninterventionist policy in the lead up to WWII. 

** Lindbergh was denounced as a Nazi sympathizer and Hitlerian.

See Charles Lindberg's Noninterventionist Efforts & America First Committee Involvement

Matthew Allen — The Blame Game Begins: Obama Administration Says Syrian Rebels Encouraged US to 'Work with' Al Qaeda

Smell that? Yes, that's the magnificent aroma of Washington trying to cover its ass now that its brilliant strategy of "arming human scum and shipping them into Syria by the Toyota-load" has failed miserably.
Here is Obama's Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes talking about the horrible moral dilemma Washington faced while arming random (but "moderate"!) weirdos in Syria:

What’s strange is, I met with the Syrian opposition, and often they would argue that we should work with al-Nusra, who we know is Al Qaeda. And I’m sympathetic if you’re in a neighborhood where al-Nusra is defending you against Assad. You want us to work with them. But let’s say a U.S. president does that, and then al-Nusra is using weapons that we gave them against us. That’s something you never recover from, right?

"We didn't want to directly/indirectly aid al-Nusra — and even if we sometimes did, by accident, the 'moderate' rebels made us do it!"
We remember employing a similar line of argument ... in first grade....
"The devil made me do it."

Washington's grand vision for Syria (a failed state that can be used to destabilize Iran and train psychos to send eastward, with their final destination being Russia) has failed. And the ass-covering begins....
Arming terrorists is state sponsorship of terrorism.

The Bush administration will be remembered for officially sanctioning torture and rendition. The Obama administration will be remember for arming terrorists of the same organization that attacked the US on 9/11.

Russia Insider
The Blame Game Begins: Obama Administration Says Syrian Rebels Encouraged US to 'Work with' Al Qaeda
Matthew Allen


What Worries Ben Rhodes About Trump
Michael Crowley

Ellis Winningham — New Series on Income Inequality

Those interested laypersons and members of the general public who are unfamiliar with econometrics will undoubtably find the following passage hard to swallow given the language. Bear with it until the end, and I will translate for you.…

In layperson’s terms, what all of this says is that Milton Friedman and his co-conspirator, Anna Schwartz’s attempt to claim that the velocity of money was constant, was total bullshit.

So, what then does this all mean to you?

Quite frankly, a lot and it is very important information that the public needs to understand.
Therefore, I’m writing a somewhat comprehensive series on income inequality which will begin with a look at post-World War II policies of full employment up to the 1970’s. Next, I will discuss the OPEC cost shock, the Great Inflation, and the rise of Monetarism. From there, I will discuss the end of full employment, union busting, wage suppression to 1992 and the coming of “New Democrats”. I will then finish with a look at private debt expansion.
So, there’s lots to discuss in the coming weeks. 
Ellis Winningham — MMT and Modern Macroeconomics
New Series on Income Inequality
Ellis Winningham

Brian Romanchuk — Misunderestimating MMT

Brian responds to Gerard MacDonell's "The trouble with MMT" (Modern Monetary Theory).

As usual, the criticism doesn't seem to take into account the body of MMT literature and the historical debate within Post Keynesianism surrounding the issues. Moreover, it assumes away recognized issues in conventional theory. Brian deals with this deftly.

Bond Economics
Misunderestimating MMT
Brian Romanchuk

Government just raised the price of US housing

The rote teaching: "its about price not quantity..." in action, about a 1 2/3% increase:

Phil Butler — What’s Wrong in Canada’s Halls of Power?

Justin Trudeau was banking on a Clinton presidency. Now that Trump is POTUS...?

What’s Wrong in Canada’s Halls of Power?
Phil Butler

Dr. Reynaldo Ileto, a leading Filipino historian, is concerned about Duterte’s survival, should he move too quickly with the regional realignment:
“He cannot break up with the United States too abruptly… he’d be killed.”
For a while, in Manila, we were discussing the pattern established; the way the West treats the ‘rebellious’ countries and their governments: Ukraine, Brazil, and even the former President of the Philippines, Gloria Arroyo.
“Arroyo moved closer to China”, explained Dr. Ileto: “They got her indicted for corruption. Only Duterte managed to release her.”
Antagonizing China, even provoking it into a military conflict, has been the mainstay of US foreign policy in Asia, at least during the later years of the Obama administration. This dangerous trend will most likely continue, even accelerate, since Donald Trump has already taken office.
President Duterte’s stubborn determination to reach a peaceful arrangement with China may put him squarely on the hit list of the Western Empire.
Prof. Roland Simbulan from the Department of Social Sciences of the University of the Philippines confirms what Dr. Ileto suggested above:
“If Duterte moves too fast, he will be overthrown, by the military. He is an outsider. Police and army hold grudges against him. Many top military commanders here were trained by the US, and often even corrupted by the US. Duterte’s anti-US and anti-imperialist policy goes beyond rhetoric; it is real. He is confrontational, he is against the US foreign policy towards the Philippines and the world.”
The Philippines in the Center of Asian Realignment
Andre Vlchek

B-52 Strike on Syria yesterday

Bringing out some heavy equipment.  Probably done under Obama yesterday but anything further  will be under Trump of course.

Alexander Douglas —— For Policy Sexy Times, Make it Basic Income Time??

Although UBI proponents speak in monetary terms, their proposal is useless unless it guarantees people real income. You can give people money, but there has to be enough real stuff they can buy with their money in order to live....
Alexander Douglas at Medium
For Policy Sexy Times, Make it Basic Income Time??
Alexander Douglas | Lecturer in Philosophy, University of St. Andrews

Fed's Williams says raise rates now

This monetarist guy cites an aging workforce and lack of productivity capping growth at 2%.   Does not want unemployment to fall any lower than current.

Continuing to set up a policy conflict between the Fed and Trump.

San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank President John Williams on Friday repeated his view that the U.S. central bank needs to reduce monetary stimulus before the economy overshoots the Fed's employment and inflation goals and the Fed has to "slam on the brakes." 
An aging workforce and low productivity growth will keep the United States from growing faster than about 2 percent annually on a sustainable basis, Williams said 
 Donald Trump, sworn in as the 45th U.S. president just hours earlier, has promised his economic policies will boost growth to 4 percent. 
Williams, who does not vote on Fed policy this year, did not directly address the disconnect, but said the Fed does not want to see the unemployment rate, at 4.7 percent, falling lower and lower, and inflation, now at about 1.75 percent, to rise higher and higher. 
Instead, he said, the Fed's goal is stabilize both at near current levels, and to do so, it needs to raise rates further.

Yellen does not seem to be as (to them) hawkish, but these types of comments are becoming more frequent from the non-Yellen cohort among the Fed.

So fiscal help may be on the way sooner from higher rates if this view keeps picking up steam...

Friday, January 20, 2017

Pepe Escobar — Here's How the Trump Presidency Will Play Out

… an influential New York business source, very close to the real, discreet Masters of the Universe, who correctly predicted Trump's victory weeks before the fact, after examining my argument ….
If you like intrigue.…

Sputnik Internaitonal
Here's How the Trump Presidency Will Play Out
Pepe Escobar, Columnist

Ullrich Fichtner — Time for an International Front Against Trump

With the inauguration of Donald Trump as U.S. president, America is set to move into a more isolationist and more self-interested direction. The rest of the West must now stand up to defend our values.

Spiegel Online
Time for an International Front Against Trump
A Commentary by Ullrich Fichtner, Der Spiegel

Also at Spiegel

Donald Trump and the New World Order
Christian Esch, Martin Hesse, Alexander Jung, Peter Müller, Ralf Neukirch, Britta Sandberg, Michael Sauga, Christoph Schult, Holger Stark and Bernhard Zand

Paul Craig Robert — Trump’s Declaration of War

President Trump’s brief inaugural speech was a declaration of war against the entirety of the American Ruling Establishment. All of it.
Trump made it abundantly clear that Americans’ enemies are right here at home: globalists, neoliberal economists, neoconservatives and other unilateralists accustomed to imposing the US on the world and involving us in endless and expensive wars, politicians who serve the Ruling Establishment rather than the American people, indeed, the entire canopy of private interests that have run America into the ground while getting rich in the process.
If truth can be said, President Trump has declared a war far more dangerous to himself than if he had declared war against Russia or China....
Paul Craig Roberts
Trump’s Declaration of War
Paul Craig Roberts | formerly Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy, associate editor of the Wall Street Journal and a columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate

Maram Susli — Western Media Whitewashes Rebel Destruction of Damascus Water Supply

Syria’s capital city Damascus continues to suffer without water. The water which fed four million people, was cut off by insurgents who have occupied the aquifer in Wadi Barada since late December. The insurgents, which include an alliance of US backed groups and Al Qaeda’s Syria branch Jabhat Fateh Al Sham (formally Jabhat al Nusra), uploaded a video of themselves rigging the ancient Ein Al Fijeh spring with explosives. Two days before this upload, the rebels were also accused of tainting the water supply with diesel. As a result of the success of the Syrian military campaign to recapture parts of Wadi Barada, the insurgents were forced to agree to allowing engineers in to fix the aquifer as part of a ceasefire agreement. However after the agreement was reached the insurgents shot and killed the negotiating team overseeing repairs. Previously they had shot at technicians as they attempted to enter Wadi Barada.
Several groups which included the so called “White helmets” NGO released a written statement, that they will not allow engineers to fix the spring until the Syrian government agrees to give them certain concessions. The White Helmets have received tens of millions of dollars from various Western governments. Their signed statement shows that they are complicit with AL Qaeda in what the UN has stated is tantamount to a war crime.
Yet NATO backed media outlets have failed to explicitly state this, tip toeing around the subject of responsibility. Some outlets were even initially suggesting its was the Syrian government that was responsible. The most offending headlines included this one from the Daily Beast, “Assad’s Newest War Tactic: Dehydration”. The Qatar linked Middle East Eye, a newspaper run by a former Guardian and Al Jazeera journalists, headlined with “Water war: Wadi Barada and Assad’s latest weapon”. Australia’s ABC news suggested that, “this was not the first time the Syrian government targeted it’s own facilities”.Perhaps the worst offender was the discredited Bellingcat website, run by Eliot Higgins, which claims to be independent open source analysis while consistently backing up US State Department propaganda. They released an article claiming that the Syrian government was responsible for the damage to the aquifer. Bellingcat did not touch on the fact that it is the insurgents who refuse to allow the aquifer to be fixed.
There is also ample evidence that the insurgents were indeed behind the initial destruction of the spring. The insurgents uploaded a video of themselves on Facebook, rigging the ancient Ein el Fijeh spring with explosives. In the video a rebel is seen walking through the pipes saying, “this is one of the water pipes of Ein el Fijah spring, the revolutionaries are rigging it with explosives right now”. The video was accompanied by the following written statement....
Western Media Whitewashes Rebel Destruction of Damascus Water Supply
Maram Susli  

Noam Chomsky on the Long History of US Meddling in Foreign Elections — C.J. Polychroniou interviews Noam Chomsky

Let me count the ways.

Noam Chomsky on the Long History of US Meddling in Foreign Elections
C.J. Polychroniou interviews Noam Chomsky

Moon of Alabama — The Not-Hillary President

Moon of Alabama analyzes what to expect from the Trump presidency.

Conclusion: "Over all I do not expect anything exceptional from Trump. His time in the White House will probably turn out to be minor remake of Reagan's."
Moon of Alabama
The Not-Hillary President

See also

Uncertainty reigns. This is a longish and deepish analysis by a tech writer.
Whether Trump's rhetoric, tweeting, and appointments thus far add up to gloom and doom or a bonanza likely depends on one's own political beliefs. But up until now, all of this was largely rhetoric under Trump the Candidate and Trump the President-elect. Today is Day One of the nation's 45th presidency, and with it comes a mountain of the unknown. Only one thing seems certain: change of some kind is on the way under President Donald J. Trump.
Are Technica
Donald Trump takes oath of office—what to expect from an unexpected presidency
David Kravets | senior editor for Ars Technica and founder of TYDN fake news site

Graham E. Fuller — An inauguration—into what?

Former CIA official Graham E. Fuller exposes the sacred cows of the military-industrial-intelligence-governmental- financial complex aka the US deep state for what they are. Donald Trump's election puts America at a cross-roads. While some of Trump's rhetoric is promising for addressing this, his appointments are not.
With the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States, it’s hard to know where first to focus attention.

Rage and righteous indignation on all sides are mounting. There is more than enough blame to go around for how the US got itself into this situation. Where it will all go from here is beyond the imagination of the most lurid screenwriters of White House dramas.

Whatever the outrage du jour may be, we must not forget that history didn’t begin with the 2015-2016 presidential campaign/circus. To believe that is analytically lazy, an easy cop-out, even self-serving. Major elements of these deep domestic pathologies trace back at a minimum to America’s fateful actions from the very beginning of this disastrous American twenty-first century....
Graham E. Fuller
An inauguration—into what?
Graham E. Fuller | adjunct professor of history at Simon Fraser University, formerly vice chairman of the National Intelligence Council at the CIA, and a former senior political scientist at RAND

Stratfor — Trump risks a trade war with China that cannot be won

  • Protectionist trade policies toward China would do little to achieve the incoming U.S. administration’s stated goal of reviving U.S. manufacturing.
  • Beijing would use various means — in particular, harassing U.S. companies that operate in China and depend on the country’s growing consumer market — to retaliate against protectionism in the United States.
  • President-elect Donald Trump’s administration will likely focus on curbing Chinese steel imports, a policy that could boost U.S. manufacturing without doing much damage to China’s economy.
Fabius Maximus
Stratfor: Trump risks a trade war with China that cannot be won

Anatole Kaletsky — Trumping Capitalism?

Anatole Kaletsky summarizes some of the key analysis of where we are and likely outcomes of projected Trump policies.

Unfortunately, neither MMT, Post Keynesian, Institutionalist, Marxian or other heterodox views are included.

If the world is indeed at the point of an interregnum between forms of capitalism owing to the failure of the status quo version widely known as neoliberalism, would it not be logical to speculate that views other than  those held in the mainstream might hold relevant answers, especially in light of the impact of Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn's campaigns, the rise of both left and right parties in Europe, and the success of Chinese market socialism as the CCP incorporates capitalism into its Marxian system.

This would suggest that Anglo-American leadership is waning and the dominant worldview is shifting away from neoliberalism post-crisis.

Project Syndicate
Trumping Capitalism?
Anatole Kaletsky | Chief Economist and Co-Chairman of Gavekal Dragonomics, formerly a columnist at the Times of London, the International New York Times and the Financial Times, and author of Capitalism 4.0, The Birth of a New Economy

London Home Presales Slump to Four-Year Low

Continued bearish GBP.

Mall sells for $100

Sheesh effectively now a zero bid for some retail brick and mortar:


back on the continent, its the same-old same-old... what a drag.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

McClatchy — FBI, 5 other agencies probe possible covert Kremlin aid to Trump

Happy Inauguration Day.

Why makes this story so bizarre is that the suspected Russian "interference" in the US election pales against the pattern of documented US interference in foreign elections for decades at least, with a well established structure for doing so and using a variety of agencies and operations. both direct and indirect. 

FBI, 5 other agencies probe possible covert Kremlin aid to Trump
Peter Stone and Greg Gordon, McClatchy Washington Bureau


Scott Ferguson — re: f@ck work (arcade)

James Livingston has responded to my critique of his Aeon essay, “Fuck Work.” His response was published in the Spanish magazine Contexto y Accion. One can find an English translation here.
Arcade has now published my reply.
the unheard of center — critique after modern monetary theory
re: f@ck work (arcade)
Scott Ferguson | Assistant Professor of Film & Media Studies, Department of Humanities & Cultural Studies at the University of South Florida, and a Research Scholar at the Binzagr Institute for Sustainable Prosperity