Friday, December 30, 2011

One chart is all you need...

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Occupy USA Democracy is Coming Lyrics by Leonard Cohen - YouTube

Arnold Kling thinks the best way to autonomy and self rule is to have other people do it for you...

...and you just go buy a play station a nice SUV and turn off your brain.

Ron Paul: My Two Cents, Arnold Kling | EconLog | Library of Economics and Liberty

I doubt that libertarianism will be advanced by any campaign for national office. I suspect that the best way to advance libertarianism is not to compete for government office but to compete against government. Earn a living to support your family. Contribute to institutions, such as private schools, that compete with important government institutions. Vote against incumbents, but otherwise stay aloof from political campaigns.

If you ever wanted an explanation of "how we got here" this is a good one-- "Plug yurrr ears maannn--let the 1% do their thing!"

File under: The Problem with self government is that people want to, you know, get in the way

Economics profession #fail basic history

now that i've read Debt by @davidgraeber I see "money came about because inefficiencies of barter" falsehood all over #economics profession

@JimNichols - yes, it's funny, since when you point it out, economists say "so what, that argument is rare and unimportant"

Occupy Atlanta - Rage Against the Machine- Sleep Now in the Fire

Are you a racist? Bad father?

Ta-Nehisi Coates makes a good point about our race discourse in this nation

 I think there's an essay to be written about why any accusation of a racial offense is so often reduced to "Are you a racist?" It would be as if my wife "You forgot to check Samori's homework" and I responded, "I'm not a bad father." 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Growing wealth widens distance between lawmakers and constituents

Between 1984 and 2009, the median net worth of a member of the House more than doubled, according to the analysis of financial disclosures, from $280,000 to $725,000 in inflation-adjusted 2009 dollars, excluding home ­equity.

Over the same period, the wealth of an American family has declined slightly, with the comparable median figure sliding from $20,600 to $20,500, according to the Panel Study of Income Dynamics from the University of Michigan.

Tyler Cowen on Ron Paul as President — Marginal Revolution

Tyler Cowen writing on Ron Paul back in 2007 thats worth a read:

The Ron Paul phenomenon reminds me of the old America First movement, with Misesian 100 percent reserve banking theory on top.  He is making (one version of) libertarianism much more popular by allying it with nationalist and also states’ rights memes.  That includes his stances on immigration, NAFTA, China, devolution of powers, and "The Constitution."  Even when the policy recommendations stay libertarian, I fear that the wrong emotions will have the staying power.  Evaluating a politician is not just about policy positions; for instance personally I am skeptical of most forms of gun control but I worry when a candidate so emphasizes a pro-gun stance.

Many libertarians see the Paul candidacy as their chance to have an impact and they may well be right.  There is also no one else for them to support.  But, raw milk or not, I am not myself tempted to take a stance this year in favor of any of the candidates, Paul included.  Liberty is lacking in the United States but I’d like to see it more closely bundled with reasonableness, moderation, and yes pragmatism; I am looking to advance on all fronts at the same time.  Call me fussy if you wish.

I fear that Ron Paul is so taken with his own ideas that he is unable to see how or when his views might ever be wrong; it is in that sense I consider him insufficiently intellectual.  (Admittedly all the other candidates are too open to whatever is politically popular at the moment.)  Openness also means ability to improvise, which is a critical leadership quality; many of the challenges of the presidency are the surprises, 9/11 being one example of many.

The America Firsters, by the way, were right about many things, but they were very wrong about a few very big things, such as World War II and the civil rights movement.  They also suffered a virtually total eclipse for decades.  I don’t see nationalist and states’ rights memes as a path toward a future with more human liberty.

Ron Paul is changing the ideological landscape of American politics and the fabric of modern classical liberalism.  No matter what your point of view, I recommend that you take the Ron Paul phenomenon very seriously indeed.

Creative ad - YouTube

C-Span April 19, 2009: Janet Tavakoli on Causes and Culprits of the Financial Crisis

!

The deficit obsession of Davis, Jeffares , Westmoreland, and Deal "is mad, bad, and dangerous"

What we’re looking at is a world of depressed demand, where government securities look like a good buy everywhere except in countries that either don’t have their own currency or have large debts in foreign currency, making them vulnerable to self-fulfilling panic. It’s a world in which deficit obsession is mad, bad, and dangerous.

The fact that niether my State Representative, my State Senator, my Congressman, nor my Governor understand a pretty basic economic state of affairs is worrisome. 

Monday, December 26, 2011

Regulations, Protectionism, and Free Markets

"We see a regulation when we don't endorse the moral values behind it." --Ha-Joon Chang   23 Things they don't tell you about Capitalism

Interview with Dean Baker on Loser Liberalism, Nanny State Doctors, and Right to Work policies...

Dean Baker co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research took some time out of his holiday to talk about his newest book The End of Loser Liberalism which you can download for free online.  

We hit on a number of topics including Right to Work laws, why doctors are paid more than the free market says they should be, and the sustainability of the European Welfare State.   

I asked him, briefly, about a recent article by Kenneth Rogoff, Is Modern Capitalism Sustainable? and his thoughts on the sustinability of European Welfare State.

You can download his most recent book, The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive for free on the CEPR website.  

If you aren't yet reading his blog, Beat the Press, you really should be. Its a great place to keep up with the best and worst of economic reporting as Dean works to keep the media honest with straight-forward commentary.  
Be sure to follow on twitter:  CEPR and Beat the Press.  Also, become a fan of CEPR on Facebook.

Knowledge is power and CEPR has the goods... its up to us to go get it and share it with others. (Not to mention up to us to keep them funded with donations.)

 

Dean Baker on Loser Liberalism, Nanny State Doctors, and Right to Work policies

Dean Baker co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research took some time out of his holiday to talk about his newest book The End of Loser Liberalism which you can download for free online.  

We hit on a number of topics including Right to Work laws, why doctors are paid more than the free market says they should be, and the sustainability of the European Welfare State.   

I asked him, briefly, about a recent article by Kenneth Rogoff, Is Modern Capitalism Sustainable? and his thoughts on the sustinability of European Welfare State.

You can download his most recent book, The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive for free on the CEPR website.  

If you aren't yet reading his blog, Beat the Press, you really should be. Its a great place to keep up with the best and worst of economic reporting as Dean works to keep the media honest with straight-forward commentary.  

Be sure to follow on twitter:  CEPR and Beat the Press.  Also, become a fan of CEPR on Facebook.

Knowledge is power and CEPR has the goods... its up to us to go get it and share it with others. (Not to mention up to us to keep them funded with donations.)

Friday, December 23, 2011

The last thing Republicans want is for their public policy positions to be on the front pages of the papers...

Very telling quote from  Representative Jack Kingston, a Georgia Republican, on Boehner caving in to the Payroll Tax cut:

Though most House Republicans still want a yearlong deal, Kingston said that it was time for the party to move forward. “This takes the whole thing off the front page and that’s a good thing,” he said.

The GOP will always be on the defense when the public is actually tuned in to whats under discussion.  The core conservative position that the lower classes--the poor, minorities, everyday working people--the hoi polloi are to be kept down, and in their place; and only wealth and power are to receive government help is one that in the end doesn't play well on the front pages of the newspapers.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Hole - MTV Awards 1995 (uncensored) - YouTube

weird, I remember where I was for this.... do you? lol probably not.

Ron Paul on Foreign Policy

Just caught this Ron Paul youtube thats actually pretty good... I hope more voters take to his anti-imperialist foreign policy positions...

Choose your online friends wisely, for they may one day determine your APR.

A new wave of startups is working on algorithms gathering data for banks from the web of associations on the internet known as “the social graph,” in which people are “nodes” connected to each other by “edges.” Banks are already using social media to befriend their customers, and increasingly, their customers’ friends. The specifics are still shaking out, but the gist is that eventually, social media will account for at least the tippy-top of the mountain of data banks keep on their customers.

“There is this concept of ‘birds of a feather flock together,’” said Ken Lin, CEO of the San Francisco-based credit scoring startup Credit Karma. “If you are a profitable customer for a bank, it suggests that a lot of your friends are going to be the same credit profile. So they’ll look through the social network and see if they can identify your friends online and then maybe they send more marketing to them. That definitely exists today.”

And in the last year or so, financial institutions have started exploring ways to use data from Facebook, Twitter and other networks to round out an individual borrower’s risk profile—although most entrepreneurs working on the problem say the technology is three to five years away from mainstream adoption.

“Credit score is a lagging indicator,” said Brett King, a tall, puffy Australian with white blond hair who is the founder of the online-only bank Movenbank and author of BANK 2.0: How Customer Behavior and Technology Will Change the Future of Financial Services. “At best, your credit score is about 60 days behind. What we’re trying to do is look for things that reflect the likelihood of a future default, rather than what’s happened in the past.”

Feminist taking on Beyonce....

Friday, December 9, 2011

And we wonder why Fox News views are less informed?

FOX News Caught Using Fake Video Of Riots

And we wonder why Fox News views are less informed?

 A study by Fairleigh Dickenson University researchers has found that frequent viewers of Fox Cable News are worse informed than people who watch no news at all!

It is not that Republicans (more likely to watch Fox) are less informed. The researchers took that possible source of bias into account in their finding. No, it is watching Fox itself that makes people more ignorant.

The discrepancy showed up in a question on whether the Egyptian protests last February managed to unseat Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak. Among respondents over all, 21% said that the movement had failed, and 26% said they just don’t know! I don’t know whether it is more unsettling that a fifth of Americans may think Mubarak is still president of Egypt or that a fourth of Americans has no idea whether he is or not!

A bare majority of 53% gave the correct answer that Mubarak was overthrown.

But Fox Cable News viewers were less likely by a full 18 points to get the right answer than people who said they never watched the news at all!

(I’ll bet some of the latter watch Comedy Central’s Daily Show with Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert’s Colbert Report, which are in fact better at informing the public on news than Fox, since they not only cover issues but also teach audiences to be skeptical of political spin in the news).

Fox viewers were also 6% less likely than others to know that the uprising in Syria has not yet succeeded in unseating president Bashar al-Assad.

The best informed consumers of news media were those who listen to National Public Radio or read a daily newspaper such as the New York Times or USA Today.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Democracy and Islam in the Arab Elections

The Monkey Cage

  “Democratic” does not simply equate to pro-Western. If you tell people:  “We have oppressed proponents of your historical religion for decades to create dictatorships for the sake of better relations with the West and Israel, and now we want you to choose your own government”, what else would people do than repudiate the pattern of the old dictatorships? And wouldn’t that repudiation more likely take the form of voting for well known and established parties that stood against the dictatorships, rather than for new parties with young faces that stand for such vague things as “secularism and liberalism?”

So let us start from the fact that an Islamist majority was always logically to be expected from free elections in Arab countries, and show no disappointment on that score. The crucial issue regarding the new regimes in Tunisia and Egypt is not that they are Islamist, but how will they act? How will they act toward other non-Islamist parties, and non-Islamic groups in society? How oppressive will they be toward women? How effective will they be on economic policy and science and technology? How will they manage popular hostility toward Israel? These are the issues that will determine the risks and success of these regimes.

So what can we realistically expect?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Paul Ryan’s solution to inequality helps the rich, does nothing for poor

Yesterday Paul Ryan released a very serious looking report entitled: “A deeper look at inequality.” Ryan’s effort — a rebuttal to that recent CBO report on growing inequality that got so much attention — was applauded by conservatives as an important contribution to the debate.

Since Ryan has a widespread reputation as a serious fiscal thinker, I thought I’d ask Tim Smeeding, an expert on inequality at the University of Wisconsin, to evaluate his report.

Smeeding’s verdict: Ryan’s effort is only “half serious,” fails to prove its argument about inequality, and doesn’t offer any policy prescriptions that would fix the problem as Ryan himself defines it.

Smeeding focused on several core Ryan arguments that are central to his overall case. First, Ryan claims critics are wrong to push for tax hikes on the rich, arguing the tax system has grown more progressive in recent years. “The share of the federal tax burden borne by the top 1 percent increased dramatically,” Ryan writes.

But Smeeding says this is a typical fallacy committed by those who oppose progressive taxation. Even if it’s true that the tax burden of top earners has gone up, that’s because their incomes have gone up, and have in fact gone up at a faster rate than their tax rate, meaning they now pay a smaller percentage of their overall income in taxes.

“At the very top, income doubled or tripled in the time period he’s talking about. Of course their taxes went up,” Smeeding says. “But their taxes increased by much less than their share of total income. Their after tax income grew by more than their pre-tax income.”

Ryan claims the real problem exacerbating inequality is not income disparity, but the lack of mobility of those at the bottom. Smeeding agrees with Ryan that mobility is key. But Ryan then argues that rather than try to promote equality through redistributive taxation, we should instead “promote upward mobility, increase broadly shared economic growth, and ensure that more and more Americans are able to freely earn their success.”

Smeeding, however, rejects this as a false choice. He says we can simultaneously make the tax system more progressive while also pursuing policies that enhance mobility. Indeed, Smeeding argues that those goals are two sides of the same policy coin — they are linked. The goal of raising taxes on the rich isn’t merely to promote equality by redistributing wealth. Rather, it’s about generating more revenue to invest in policies that enhance the mobility Ryan hopes to achieve.

Smeeding adds that there are no policy prescriptions in Ryan’s report that would actually enhance mobility.

“How do you increase mobility at the bottom? You provide low income families the tools to compete in a 21st Century economy,” Smeeding says. “Create revenue to invest in the mobility of kids from poorer backgrounds — improve early childhood education, improve schools, improve chances of success, lower the cost of college. He misses the whole point about mobility, which is about increasing educational and economic opportunity.”

US Fed Buys Europe Some Time

Rob Johnson: Move by Fed papers over structural issues; austerity policies meant to weaken social safety net and lower workers wages

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

35% of metro ATL homes in negative equity in Q3

About one-third of all homes with mortgages in metro Atlanta stayed upside down in the third quarter, CoreLogic   reported Tuesday.

In metro Atlanta, 34.5 percent, or 420,160, of all residential properties with a mortgage were in negative equity in the third quarter, according to CoreLogic. This compares with 34.7 percent, or 423,130 properties, in the second quarter. Negative equity, often referred to as “underwater” or “upside down,” means borrowers owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth. Negative equity can occur because of a decline in value, an increase in mortgage debt or a combination of both.

In Georgia, 30 percent, or 488,310, of residential properties with mortgages were underwater in the third quarter, compared with 30.2 percent in the second quarter. This was the fifth-highest state negative equity rate in the third quarter.
Nationally, 22.1 percent, or 10.7 million, of all residential properties with a mortgage were underwater at the end of the third quarter. This was down a bit from 22.5 percent, or 10.9 million properties, in the second quarter.

Report Highlights Obama's Broken Environmental Promises

Obama Justifies FEMA imprisonment of civilians

!

Obama, the best Republican President we've had in years....

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Politics and the Sociology of the Economics Profession - James Galbraith

Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life.

via PsycNet  I came across a good reminder this Thanksgiving while reading Marginal Revolution.  To be conscious and focused on your blessings... 

The effect of a grateful outlook on psychological and physical well-being was examined. In Studies 1 and 2, participants were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 experimental conditions (hassles, gratitude listing, and either neutral life events or social comparison); they then kept weekly (Study 1) or daily (Study 2) records of their moods, coping behaviors, health behaviors, physical symptoms, and overall life appraisals. In a 3rd study, persons with neuromuscular disease were randomly assigned to either the gratitude condition or to a control condition. The gratitude-outlook groups exhibited heightened well-being across several, though not all, of the outcome measures across the 3 studies, relative to the comparison groups. The effect on positive affect appeared to be the most robust finding. Results suggest that a conscious focus on blessings may have emotional and interpersonal benefits. 

A land GOP primary voters...

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morning links...

No College Degree Will Buy Your Way Into The Top 1% - BusinessWeek 

The Dwindling Power of a College Degree  

Hubbard in WSJ | The Incidental Economist http://bit.ly/t2eiCp

How to Talk Turkey on Immigration: Redux » Immigration Impact http://bit.ly/scHWDn

UC Davis Pepper-Spray Incident Reveals Weakness Up Top | Matt Taibbi | Rolling Stone http://bit.ly/stOhcQ 

Massachusetts and Hawaii Offer the Most Cost-Effective Health Insurance Coverage | The Health Care Blog http://bit.ly/s5XD6H 

John Kenney: “We Are the One Per Cent” : The New Yorker http://nyr.kr/vqOKAF

A case study in how nonviolence can often defeat violence | Jay Bookman http://bit.ly/tqQdfs 

“The Degree To Which You Resist Is The Degree To Which You Are Free.” | Common Dreams http://bit.ly/tvqJj5

Occupy Wall Street Movement Could Signal US Market Turmoil, Need For Common Currency | Currencies | Minyanville.com http://bit.ly/veetSg

#Occupy Bat Signal for the 99% - YouTube http://bit.ly/ryOqDs

Why our brains make us laugh - Ideas - The Boston Globe http://b.globe.com/uW5CrK 

An Open Letter to University Presidents and Chancellors - New APPS: Art, Politics, Philosophy, Science http://bit.ly/vTbCEE 


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

State University---Whats in a name?

Was struck by this comment:

“To call us state universities is an interesting use of the term,” Cox said, adding that the amount of state funding for UC’s budget is 17 percent and dropping.

Without subsidized education for students not to mention the funds for research and development of technologies our modern economy would be... well not very modern (and we would have lost every war post-WWII).   

At what point is a state school no longer a state school?  How much of a subsidized education is "too socialist" for the tastes of GOP primary voters?  Seeing as how the bulk of those voters are recipients of Nanny State Socialism at its worst(best) should we ask for our money back for all those years of free-riding?   

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Lieberman Wants Google To Let Users Flag ‘Terrorist Content’ On Blogging Platform

Just caught this over at TPM: Joe Lieberman demands that Google implement a system on its Blogger platform for users to flag "terrorist content."

If they do they should include an unAmerican flag which all of us can push any time the name Joe Liberman appears on our computer screen.  

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Martin Wolf on why people should take the #occupy protests seriously

Martin Wolf in the Financial Times:

The response to the crisis among those in the pro-market camp is much on the lines of the 1930s. On one side are those who blame what has gone wrong entirely on government. The Tea Party, in the US, has taken that position, with some success. In the UK, this strand is weaker. But there, too, some argue that the crisis is the result of Gordon Brown’s fiscal incontinence, over-regulated markets or incompetent central banks. In this, they follow the Austrian economists, Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek, in the 1930s. Against them are those who, following John Maynard Keynes, argue for a managed capitalism.

Once again, much of this debate is over use of macroeconomic policy tools: should one tighten or loosen fiscal policy in a recession? Are unconventional monetary policies a path to hyperinflation or effective policies in extreme circumstances? Again, just as radical Keynesians emerged in the 1930s and afterwards, proponents of more intervention in markets are now emerging.

This is a debate we need. In my view, both perspectives are useful. The Tea Party is wrong on the future of government. Even the US is not going back to the 19th-century state. But its more coherent members are right – and even agree with today’s protesters – that we have promoted an insider form of capitalism which exploits and indeed creates subsidies and tax loopholes on which the insiders prosper. The need to rescue banks was horrifying. The role of money in politics is disturbing. The danger is that we are moving from what the Nobel laureate economic historian, Douglass North, calls an “open-access order” to its opposite, a system in which political influence is decisive.

This is not merely inefficient. It is unjust. Few begrudged Steve Jobs his fortune. The view on those who emerged rich from rescued businesses is very different. The era of bail-outs must end. Restructuring finance to make this credible is of huge importance for the future. Yet this is not all. Market capitalism creates inherent difficulties. The two most obvious are macroeconomic instability and extremes of inequality. The tendency of a market-oriented financial system to run away with itself has, again, been demonstrated on a large scale. On the free market right people argue that if only we went back to the gold standard or ended fractional reserve banking, all would be well. I question such claims. Instability is inherent in the game of betting on the future. Humans seem prone to self-fulfilling waves of optimism and pessimism. Ways of mitigating the extent and the consequences of such instability always need to be found.

File under should have saw that coming...

Here were the graphics I brought with me (via CBO) this morning for CNN...

Growth in Real After-Tax Income from 1979 to 2007

CBO finds that between 1979 and 2007:

  • For the 1 percent of the population with the highest income, average real after-tax household income grew by 275 percent (see figure below).
  • For others in the 20 percent of the population with the highest income, average real after-tax household income grew by 65 percent.
  • For the 60 percent of the population in the middle of the income scale, the growth in average real after-tax household income was just under 40 percent.
  • For the 20 percent of the population with the lowest income, the growth in average real after-tax household income was about 18 percent.
-----
I also gave them this graph from The Economist:

They pushed back the segment as it was unclear if another activist was coming as well or not so I figured all was okay.  

Then a little voice in my ear as we are going live says--- "we weren't able to use your graphs" and we go right in to a Kasim Reed vs. OccupyAtlanta.  So I was caught off guard and had to change the game plan of how to introduce economic inequality and the massive transfer of wealth that's been going on in this country into the interview. 

I shouldn't have been thrown off, but nothing about the conversations or the pre-interview questions gave me the impression of going that direction and then I'm told we aren't using the graphics as we go live.  I sort of flubbed my way back to the core issues. Oh well.   Not one of my finer moments of clarity.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

shhhh #occupy activist about to overthrow Capitalism in Henry County... [don't share]

Hey don't let the right wing attack machine know that this #Occupy protester is about to overthrow capitalism and play the victim card via a radical Marxist act of catching up on folding cloths and picking up the living room before he gets the kitchen cleaned up.  

Please no photos of said folding and picking up or my revolution will be exposed across the blogs as an Obama/Union/Move-On plot to blame corporate greed on.... corporate executives breaking laws.

Yes this is my way of saying Herman Cain is embarrassing the educated citizens of Henry County to hang our heads in shame as our neighbor is forced on the good people of this nation.   We aren't all that vapid or bad at math.  America I swear, we aren't.

Thank you again to 32 brave individuals last night in Atlanta.

I was proud to stand on-watch as my brother Ben and so many other true Americans across this country stood up for the 99% of this nation and put their bodies against the wheels of the 1% political power.

Ben said it best about why he broke the law last night:  
Georgia continues to have a higher unemployment rate than the national average, 10.1 percent, and it has the third highest poverty rate.
Our members, like working people throughout the country, are saddled with debt. Their kids are graduating from college without job opportunities. They're also saddled with debt. 

We're seeing these same financial institutions and Wall Street interests bankroll attacks on unions and fundamental workers' rights.

This is absolutely the right time for an economic justice movement behind the Teamsters' call to stop the war on workers.
#occupy Please share Ben's story on your social networks.

I'm signing off to go over throw capitalism don't tell any Republicans---somebody hand me the dish soap...

A Thank You; #occupy

Occupy_atlanta

Last night was quite a night.  Watching one of the TV stories of it I was shocked at how different things are when you are actually on the ground in the midst of all the spectacle that comes when economic and social rot bubbles up to the surface.

I'll have more to say, but for now a thank you to a few courageous people I was privliedge to meet last night who don't let the bullshit; the small men with small minds; the distasteful roar of childish chants; nor the confusion of a moment without a guide book keep them from a task of doing right.  I'm feeling truly humbled this morning.

Gratitude; #occupy  

Throughout history those seldom few are given to us. 

Those few who are willing to put their bodies 
against the grinding machine 
of corrupt 
and broken political systems, those few 
that say no to exploitation 
and extortion of the weakest 
by the strongest. 

They are gifts 
given to us, their actions 
and words 
should be given great weight 
in a world of shallow indulgences, 
petty thrills, 
and cowardly silence. 

A quiet tear, and a softly whispered "thank you" is all I can give back in return.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

An open-letter to my teachers... to #occupy

Here was the interview I was a part of yesterday morning.  We are young.  We represent the faces and voices of a very small part of the 99%.  But its a start...    

And below is an open letter i've written to some of my former teachers and mentors as i've thought about what the #occupy movement is and means.

 

We need mentors... An Open Letter to my Teachers

As someone whom I have learned much from I needed to take a moment this morning to ask again for your time and guidance.

As both a participant in some of the early #occupy events here in Atlanta and someone that's been attacking the rot within the Goldman Sachs center-right Democratic Party from the inside for a number of years now I think there is massive confusion about what #occupy is.  My fear is that many of those whom I've learned from and have inspired me will sit back rather than participate at a time when they are needed most.

Its a demotic- moment in history.  Which means its messy, awkward, and will not manufacture the easy photo-op moments that well meaning Democratic Party/"progressive"/Move-On activists desire.  Massive social and economic inequities are bubbling to the surface. Many of the people getting involved are anti-politic to a fault; distrustful of institutions be they party politics, unions, or any long term institution that could and must be harnessed, maintained, and nurtured for long term reforms to occur. 

U.S. imperialism has rotted the social fabric of our communities.  It has corrupted the internal political process and created an illiterate and irrational citizenry fixated on bread and circus. This is a moment in history where reforms will require long term commitment by individuals to network, develop skill sets, and form new alliances.  This will take nurturing and time.  The media's focus on what "this all this means" in the short term and efforts by well meaning political and labor machine activists to force the moment is short sighted to the the massive long term challenges we face.

Sheldon Wolin noted in his book Democracy Inc. that, "Demotic action is typically triggered by felt grievances--not, initially by a yearning for political participation.  Because of the exhausting demands of making "living," surviving under harsh circumstances, dedication to a political life is hardly a conceivable vocation.  While governing is a full-time, continuous activity, demotic politics is inevitably episodic, born of necessity, improvisational rather than institutionalized." 

If I'm reading him correctly I think that right now is a moment where #occupy is the demos becoming self-conscious of itself and that the challenge for those who see potential in this moment is to act...

to recover lost ground, to "popularize" political institutions and practices that have become severed from popular control.  It involves renewing the meaning and substance of "representative democracy" by affirming the primacy of Congress, curbing the growth of presidential power, disentangling the stranglehold of lobbyists, democratizing the party system by eliminating the barriers to third parties, and enforcing an austere system of campaign finance.

I truly hope that those in the professional class recognize the moment for what it is, get involved sharing their knowledge and perspective, and feed positive energy to the well meaning participants--not to mention some good logical lashings to right-wing talking points being churned out as we speak in well financed think-tanks.

The expertise that comes from the time and training of philosophy and economics as elite professions are a privilege that many on the streets have never been able to enjoy.  Most of these people will never again have an opportunity to cross paths with experts and elites whom they can learn and grow from.  But right at this moment they are organizing events right down the road, down the block, down the hall from you and they merely need you to show up.

A strange mixture of utopianism, institutional naivety, and conspiracy theory is feeding some of the most energetic activists and only engagement and dialogue can address this problem. Be it going to a rally to talk to people in the crowd, volunteering to give teach-ins, or taking a moment to put thoughts to paper so that others can spread them across their social networks to churn up debate--all of these actions help build positive demotic- momentum that is greatly needed.  

The demos is acting and its in great need of mentors and positive energy to push this moment in history forward.  Many of your colleagues will follow your lead in word and action. Please let them know there are many of us participating in #occupy events who are desperate for guidance and engagement and want them to join in this moment as participants. No one can be neutral on a moving train.

regards,
Jim 

 

Is another U.S. recession a 'done deal'?

Michael Dueker, chief economist at Russell Investments, in a guest post at Econbrowser writes:

a U.S. recession is certainly possible, given that a Eurozone recession looks very likely. It is entirely conceivable that European policymakers will fail to gather the necessary resources in time to prevent financial-market contagion to peripheral countries, such as Italy and Spain, or to recapitalize their banks sufficiently quickly in the face of or, better yet, in advance of a Greek default. Such a financial shock, if it occurs, could be transmitted to the United States with sufficient severity to lead to recession here. This would be a new negative shock, however, and does not appear to be built into current early-warning financial indicators in the United States to a sufficient degree to make a U.S. recession the base case at this time. My current reading of the financial market indicators of the U.S. business cycle is that investors are more concerned about Japan-style economic stagnation right now than about a traditional recession.

Friday, October 7, 2011

#occupy Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How?

Got back from #occupyAtlanta General Assembly.  They voted to occupy the park (which I thought was a mistake) and it confusing what the #occupy movement should/shouldn't be.  Anyways I need to sleep.  Appears I may be on TV in the AM to talk about #occupy and need some sleep in case that does pan out.

Much to write about.   For now sleep.  If you need to churn on some more discussion of #occupy go do it here.

Atlanta Fed’s Lockhart Says Regulators Must Work Further to End Bailouts

 Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta President Dennis Lockhart said regulators haven’t yet put in place a system that would allow orderly failures of the largest financial firms without taxpayer rescues.

“ The system we should work toward is one in which no institution is too big to fail,” Lockhart said today in a speech in Atlanta. “Much is being done in the aftermath of the Fed’s and the Treasury’s emergency interventions of 2008 to get to this state of affairs, but, in my view, this is a longer-term aspiration at this moment.”

The Fed and other banking regulators are working to avoid more taxpayer-funded bailouts following the rescues of insurer American International Group Inc. and Citigroup Inc., which stoked public anger against the central bank and Congress. The Dodd-Frank Act passed last year mandated the Fed to monitor emerging risks to financial stability in the wake of the U.S. recession that ended two years ago.

Lockhart said regulators must raise required levels of capital to protect against failure of the biggest banks.

“Maintaining this buffer is especially important for the larger, systemically-important institutions for which government intervention in a crisis might otherwise be the only response to a threat to the entire system,” Lockhart said in the text of remarks at a panel discussion at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School. “We absolutely must get to a state in which private shareholders and creditors bear the risks of failure, not taxpayers.”

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Occupy Atlanta Supplies Needed

Needs list I just got emailed from an Occupy Atlanta activists setting up one of the organizing offices: 

"Looking around, we could use folding tables, white boards, coffee machine/microwave, and a printer(s), preferably wireless and/or big. Shelves or other ways to organize stuff." 

Contact me Jim.Nichols@gmail.com if you have anything to donate I can work on helping get it to them...

The neoliberal era of Reagan/DLC Goldman Sachs Democrats is crashing and burning. Just needs a push...

Occupy Wall Street has obviously been overnight poll-tested by someone in power...

Having attended the last Occupy Atlanta general assembly meeting I can tell you that the #occupy movement has not been built by the base of the Democratic Party.  The fact that Democratic leaders are trying to jump on board means that #occupy movement resonates with everyday Democratic voters.

I mean go figure.  Wall Street greed is coming ahead of people’s needs.  The neoliberal era of Reagan/DLC democrats is crashing and burning.

But still the Party of Goldman Sachs is not exactly radical.  I mean they gave you a center right president.  They are built on Wall Street money and are not natural allies with the #occupy movement:

You don’t have to dig deep to find evidence of that relationship. Former Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee chairman Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has long been “one of the biggest beneficiaries of Wall Street money that Congress [has] ever seen,” and, in turn, Schumer pushed hardto deregulate the financial industry before the 2008 crash and then bailout said financiers afterwards. When Congress debated financial reform last May, House Democratic Chief Deputy Whip Ron Kind (D-Wis.) told a gathering of financial lobbyists, “We’re working hard with you to get the policy right.” And, of course, President Obama chose Larry Summers and Tim Geithner as his chief economic advisers, despite their long records of Wall Street ties and favoritism. The surtax on millionaires that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced on Wednesday replaces Obama’s proposals to tax not only a broader swath of wealthy individuals, but also oil and gas corporations.

Indeed, Democratic support for Wall Street was one of the major motivations behind Occupy Wall Street in the first place. When you read the heartbreaking “We are the 99 percent” Tumblr and you listen to the protesters, you don’t hear frustration with Republicans. The frustration is with Washington. And if Democrats want to work with the Occupy movement (or, indeed, make the “Republicans are the party of the rich” attack really work), they’ll have to undertake root-and-branch reform of their party’s relationship with Wall Street.

This is an interesting moment in history.  

The demos is acting...  buckle up... 

Here's to the crazy ones... (h/t Steve Jobs)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Justice Carley to leave bench next July

Justice George Carley will step down from the Georgia Supreme Court next July, giving Gov. Nathan Deal the chance to appoint Carley's successor.

The justice taking Carley's place will have to run for re-election in 2014, the court said in a statement released Tuesday.

“I am announcing this now to notify potential candidates before the election cycle gets into full swing,” said Carley, who had already announced  that he did not plan to run for re-election.

When he steps down, Carley, 73, will leave the high court as its chief justice. The court voted unanimously last month to have him serve as chief for two months before he leaves the court.

Georgia manufacturing drops to near two-year low

Atlanta Business Chronicle

After an August rebound, Georgia’s manufacturing sector fell to its lowest level in nearly two years in September, according to the Econometric Center at Kennesaw State University’s Coles College of Business.

Georgia’s Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) -- a reading of economic activity in the state’s manufacturing sector -- for September was 49.7, down 9.4 points from August.

A PMI reading above 50 shows manufacturing activity is expanding, while a reading below 50 shows it is contracting.
September was the third month in a four-month period that the PMI dropped, dashing expectation that August’s turnaround was sustainable, KSU said.

“September’s losses more than offset the 7.4 points gained in August,” said Don Sabbarese, professor of economics and director of the Econometric Center at the Coles College of Business. “The latest reading suggests the perceived soft spot in June and July may be more pervasive than we first thought. Manufacturing has been one of the few bright spots in the current recovery, but apparently it’s not immune from the current slowdown in the broader economy.”

Other highlights of the September PMI:

Production plunged 16.3 points to 46.7
New orders dropped 6.9 to 45
Employment fell 5.6 to 50

Joseph Stiglitz endorses #occupyWallStreet movement

!

Yesterday, Nobel prize-winning economist Joe Stiglitz met with the “Occupy Wall Street” protesters to support their cause. Stiglitz noted Wall Street got rich by “socializing losses and privatizing gain… that’s not capitalism… its a distorted economy.”

Goldman Cuts Global GDP Estimate; Sees German, French Recessions

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. cut its global growth forecast for this year and next, predicting recessions in Germany and France as the European economy stalls and the risk of a contraction in the U.S. grows.

The world economy will probably expand 3.8 percent this year and 3.5 percent in 2012, compared with earlier predictions of 3.9 percent for 2011 and 4.2 percent for next year, Goldman Sachs economists Jan Hatzius and Dominic Wilson wrote in an Oct. 3 report. The company lowered its forecast for earnings growth in Asia excluding Japan in a separate report today.

Europe’s worsening sovereign debt woes and the threat of a U.S. recession have roiled global stock markets, erasing about $13 trillion from equities since May. The debt crisis has infected the European banking system, making financial institutions wary of lending to each other and pushing overnight deposits with the European Central Bank last week to the highest in more than a year.

“The further deterioration in the economic and financial situation in the Euro area has led us to downgrade our global GDP forecast significantly,” the economists said. “Over the next few quarters, we now expect a mild recession in Germany and France, and a deeper downturn in the Euro periphery.”

Euro Region

Goldman Sachs predicts the Euro region will expand 0.1 percent in 2012, down from an earlier forecast of 1.3 percent. It expects growth of 1.6 percent for this year.

The ECB has been forced to purchase sovereign bonds to prevent the crisis from spreading to larger euro nations, and is providing banks with unlimited liquidity for up to six months against eligible collateral as governments struggle to restore investor confidence in the 17-member region.

The Frankfurt-based central bank is likely to ease its liquidity policies further this month as a result of an increase in financial risk, Hatzius and Wilson said. The ECB will also probably cut its benchmark interest rate by 50 basis points to 1 percent by December, they said.

“The increase in spillovers from the Euro area, primarily via tighter financial conditions, is the primary reason why we have also downgraded our forecasts for the U.S. further,” the economists said. “We now see the risk of a renewed U.S. recession at around 40 percent.”

Flagging U.S.

The U.S. economy will expand 1.7 percent this year and 1.4 percent in 2012, Goldman Sachs predicts. It had earlier estimated a 2 percent growth rate for the world’s largest economy next year.

The Federal Reserve announced last month that it would replace $400 billion of short-term debt in its portfolio with longer-term Treasuries, a so-called Operation Twist, in an effort to further reduce borrowing costs and strengthen the flagging U.S. economy.

“We expect additional easing of monetary policy beyond the ‘Operation Twist’ announced recently, although this may not come until sometime in the first half of 2012,” Hatzius and Wilson said. “In addition, the market’s focus on changes in the Fed’s guidance on future policies -- including a greater emphasis on the employment part of the ‘dual mandate’ and/or a temporarily higher inflation target -- is likely to intensify.”

Monday, October 3, 2011

Why Occupy Wall Street can't last--You have an employee, you have an employer....

A Tea Party Commentator brings brilliance to the table in his dissection/analysis of Occupy Wall Street movement via Fox...

"I just don't see how it goes anywhere," said Sal Russo, strategist with the Tea Party Express, suggesting the demonstrations have too much of a "Marxist" appeal., "Most Americans understand that to have an employee, you have to have an employer," Russo said.

Anybody have any clue what this means/has to do with anything?  

Occupy Wall Street

We have banking systems in the US and the Eurozone that are too large relative to the real economy and are increasingly extractive in their behavior. Until we have a significant change in the role and posture of the major capital markets players, we are unlikely to see a solid recovery.

As history teaches us, there are no rogue traders; there are only rogue banks.

Here’s a news flash: If you issue credit, your working assumption must be that there are unqualified people who will try to borrow money from you. It is the job of every lending facility each and every day to separate the qualified borrower who has the capacity to service that debt from the unqualified borrowers who do not. This is why there is no such thing as a predatory borrower — banks must assume that all borrowers are predatory and protect themselves. This is why lenders — at least before 2002 – inquire about income, employment history, credit scores, other debt, etc., before making a mortgage loan.

Similarly, if your business involves the use of leveraged capital for speculation by your employees, then it is your job to know which, if any, of your people are not competent. It’s a simple mathematical fact that some of your traders will take losses; in some cases, enormous but manageable losses. Your job is to identify these people and move them to other professions.

There will be a small number who will try to hide their inabilities. Your job is to separate the qualified from the unqualified, to watch over the full lot of traders and speculators in your employ. Toward that end, you will establish trading limitations, leverage constraints, risk parameters. Traders must stay within the limitations you impose on them: money lines, maximum drawdowns, loss limits.

Thus firms that highly leverage their capital to put it into the hands of a few thousand employee speculators have a crucial job: They must ensure that capital is being precisely and properly managed. They must make sure that risk levels are tolerable, that proper controls are in place, that their IT systems and internal technology can track what is happening, in as near to real time as possible.

This is not easy. It is a complex set of processes that requires constant vigilance. It must be reflected in the corporate culture from the top down. And it becomes more and more complex as the size of the organization grows. The assumption must be that every employee is a potential rogue trader.

Banks are supposed to have expertise in preserving capital and managing risk. If they cannot discharge those simple duties, then perhaps they should not be in the business of finance. Most of all, they should not be engaging in behavior that puts taxpayer money at risk.

 I don’t share the antimarket sentiments of many of the protesters. Banks are invaluable institutions that, when functioning properly, move capital to its best use and raise living standards. But it’s also true that soaring leverage not only nurtured soaring bank profits in good years, but also soaring risks for the public in bad years.

In effect, the banks socialized risk and privatized profits. Securitizing mortgages, for example, made many bankers wealthy while ultimately leaving governments indebted and citizens homeless.

We’ve seen that inadequately regulated, too-big-to-fail banks can undermine the public interest rather than serve it — and in the last few years, banks got away with murder. It’s infuriating to see bankers who were rescued by taxpayers now moan about regulations intended to prevent the next bail-out. And it’s important that protesters spotlight rising inequality: does it feel right to anyone that the top 1 percent of Americans now possess a greater collective net worth than the entire bottom 90 percent?

So for those who want to channel their amorphous frustration into practical demands, here are several specific suggestions:

¶Impose a financial transactions tax. This would be a modest tax on financial trades, modeled on the suggestions of James Tobin, an American economist who won a Nobel Prize. The aim is in part to dampen speculative trading that creates dangerous volatility. Europe is moving toward a financial transactions tax, but the Obama administration is resisting — a reflection of its deference to Wall Street.

¶Close the “carried interest” and “founders’ stock” loopholes, which may be the most unconscionable tax breaks in America. They allow our wealthiest citizens to pay very low tax rates by pretending that their labor compensation is a capital gain.

¶Protect big banks from themselves. This means moving ahead with Basel III capital requirements and adopting the Volcker Rule to limit banks’ ability to engage in risky and speculative investments. Another sensible proposal, embraced by President Obama and a number of international experts, is the bank tax. This could be based on an institution’s size and leverage, so that bankers could pay for their cleanups — the finance equivalent of a pollution tax.

Much of the sloganeering at “Occupy Wall Street” is pretty silly — but so is the self-righteous sloganeering of Wall Street itself. And if a ragtag band of youthful protesters can help bring a dose of accountability and equity to our financial system, more power to them.

New York Observer: Exclusive "Occupy Wall Street" Unaired Fox Footage

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Mentally ill inmates languish in local jails

Detention Officer Terroyanne Harris considers the inmates she oversees on 3 North as much patient as prisoner. They suffer from schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress and other mental illnesses. Some walk aimlessly around their cell block. Some are lost in hallucinations.

Most are in the Fulton County jail because they are more of a nuisance than a danger in the free world.

Taken into custody for petty crimes such as trespassing, damaging property or resisting an officer, some end up trapped in a revolving door of arrest and release. Others languish behind bars for years as they wait to be declared competent enough to stand trial.

Fulton County is not an aberration. The same is true in DeKalb, Cobb and Gwinnett counties, as well as some rural counties in the state.

Jails have become the new asylums. In Georgia, more mentally ill people are locked away than are treated in all the state psychiatric hospitals combined.

And it’s costing county taxpayers millions.

Report: Subsidies Fund Junk Food

A new report says federal subsidies pay farmers to grow crops used in junk food that’s linked to high child obesity rates. The U.S. spent $6 billion on these subsidies last year.

Jessica Wilson is with the Georgia Public Interest Research Group. She says through the report, the organization is urging Congress to cut corn syrup, corn starch and soy oil subsidies when it reauthorizes the farm bill next year.

“The fact that we’re spending this much money subsidizing junk food demonstrates the need to reform our subsidies program and cut the wasteful spending,” she said.

Georgia received $142 million in farm subsidies last year, according to the Environmental Working Group. Only a small part goes to crops that produce items targeted in the report. The state’s cotton and peanut industries received the lion’s share of the subsidies. 

Farmers say they need some of the other subsidies because they cover crop loss, damage from natural disasters and other emergencies.

More stimulus now, Operation Twist, and political breakdown of economic policy making...

Nobel prize economist Peter Diamond interview with WSJ’s Kelly Evans about his support of “Operation Twist,” his withdrawl from nomination to the Fed Board, and why more fiscal stimulus is need to fix the U.S. jobs problem.

Two interviews on Yahoo Finance and the Wall Street Journal about a new recession

Wall Street Protesters Speak

 

Here is an OccupyAtlanta website and a Facebook Group.

There is an organizational meeting today at Hurt Park in Atlanta.

General Assembly Atlanta - Sunday 10/2 @ Hurt Park 5pm.

Use #OccupyAtlanta hashtag to spread the word, and #GeneralAssemblyATL as back channel for thought and discussion before, during, and after assembly.