Saturday, July 11, 2020

brief overview of Michael Hudson’s political economy analysis

Killing the Host: How Financial Parasites and Debt Destroy the Global Economy (2015) by Michael Hudson

In these times we need to shine the light in the right place. The problem is not just the virus but the underlying economic crisis that many were predicting before the virus and which obviously is further greatly exacerbated by the virus. Who understands those underlying economic issues?

The twelve themes of this book:
1) Tangible, productive or real economy v. FIRE (Finance, Insurance and Real Estate), not productive
2) Banks don’t finance tangible investments, they do finance the FIRE sector
3) Asset price inflation (prices of home, office buildings, companies increase in the growth phase)
4) Debt deflation (at the point when debts can't be paid, the economy shrinks)
5) Austerity makes things worse
6) Debts grow exponentially (compound interest)
7) Debts are not paid, individuals, companies, governments sell off or forfeit their assets
8) Bubble economy sustained for a while by easier credit but led to 2007 crash
9) Banks and bondholders oppose debt write downs to bring debt in line with earnings and historical asset valuation
10) Financial sector, the One Percent and IMF, backs creditor friendly oligarchies and military dictatorships
11) Financial sector, not governments plan the economy, since 2007 they have seized political power
12) Support the Classical economic policy of taxing and de-privatising economic rent and asset-price (“capital”) gains

I'm part way through reading this book. The above is a thumb nail sketch of the contents. I'm struck by the straightforward, relative simplicity of Michael Hudson's analysis. The non productive FIRE sector took over the American economy after the 2008 Great Recession, the One Percent seized political power. Obama went along with it and bailed out the Financial sector with trillions of dollars. Since then the real economy has continued to stagnate even though the stock market appeared to recover that was just another bubble.

Hudson argues that if the mortgages of the 10 million or so victims of the fraudulent loans (subprime mortgage crisis) had been written down and instead the perpetrators of those loans punished then the economy would be in much better shape today. He taps into the inside story of the 2008 power brokers (Bull by the Horns: Fighting to Save Main Street from Wall Street and Wall Street from Itself (2012) by Sheila Bair) to illustrate that part of his argument.

Even though 2008 is a flashpoint, the book provides a historical overview of the centuries old struggle between the productive sector and financial sector for political control. I think Hudson would say that Marx volume 3 is more relevant to the current situation than Marx volume 1. It is both a relatively simple yet powerful analysis. I can't fault it.

Good review by John Repp here

Killing the Host chapter names here (scroll down)

Michael Hudson's blog

in April Roubini predicted a Greater Depression

Wednesday, July 08, 2020

the contrarian black and white voices matter

Update (July 15):
More shocks:
Bari Weiss resignation letter from the New York Times.

James Flynn's (known for the 'Flynn effect') book on free speech has been pulled by the publisher.

My poor imitation of a Dylan line goes like this: How many contrarians need to speak out before their voices are heard?

In the wake of a just cause (anti racism) we witness the cancer of anti racism religion, the woke cancel culture.

Now they are trying to cancel Steven Pinker. I'm shocked by the depths of their stupidity. As Jim said, "How childish ... Wittgenstein doesn’t have enough middle fingers for them."

The cancel attempt is here.

There is a great rebuttal here.

I say that the contrarian black voices matter because when I did not understand what was happening in America I searched and found coherent analysis from them.

I'm referring to Glen Loury (twitter), John McWhorter (twitter), Coleman Hughes (twitter) as well as Killer Mike (video) and rapper Lupe Fiasco (video). Read and listen to these guys if you really want to understand what is happening in America with regard to race.

So, which slogan should I support. "Black Lives Matter" or "All Lives Matter". I think Steven Pinker has explained this better than anyone:
Linguists, of all people, should understand the difference between a trope or collocation, such as the slogan “All lives matter,” and the proposition that all lives matter. (Is someone prepared to argue that some lives don’t matter?) And linguists, of all people, should understand the difference between a turn in the context of a conversational exchange and a sentence that expresses an idea. It’s true that if someone were to retort “All lives matter” in direct response to “Black lives matter,’ they’d be making a statement that downplays the racism and other harms suffered by African Americans. But that is different from asking questions about whom police kill, being open to evidence on the answer, and seeking to reduce the number of innocent people killed by the police of all races. The fact is that Mullainathan and four other research reports have found the same thing: while there’s strong evidence that African Americans are disproportionately harassed, frisked, and manhandled by the police (so racism among the police is a genuine problem), there’s no evidence that they are killed more, holding rates of dangerous encounters constant. (References below.) As Mullainathan notes, this doesn’t downplay racism, but it pinpoints its effects: in drug laws, poverty, housing segregation, and other contributors to being in dangerous situations, but not on in the behavior of police in lethal encounters. And it has implications for how to reduce police killings, which is what we should all care about: it explains the finding that race-specific like training police in implicit bias and hiring more minority police have no effect, while across-the-board measures such as de-escalation training, demilitarization, changing police culture, and increasing accountability do have an effect.
(follow the link to The Purity Posse pursues Pinker to see the 6 references listed)
So, yes, the contrarian white voices matter too.

A Letter on Justice and Open Debate A statement signed by 150 people incl. Noam Chomsky, J.K. Rowling, Margaret Atwood, Garry Kasparov, Steven Pinker, Gloria Steinem, John McWhorter, Coleman Hughes and Salman Rushdie expresses concern over the illiberal trend intensified by our national reckoning

My Enlightenment fanaticism by Scott Aaronson

covid-19 Inspiring Black Rights Matter Protest Long discussion thread in which I became involved, attempting to assess the true nature of the Black Lives Matter protests.

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

were you sprayed by the Extinction Rebellion's fake blood?

The Extinction Rebellion activists then opened up a fire hose and sprayed fake blood, which they had made from beet juice, onto the building. But they immediately lost control of the hose and ended up drenching the sidewalks and least one bystander.
It has reached the point where many, including myself, are reluctant to speak out. Who wants to be labelled a climate change denier = right winger = doesn't listen to the science, etc. etc.?

Ten years ago I read The Climate Fix by Roger Pielke jr which confirmed my belief that we were being told less than half the truth.

More recently, when people said to me things like, "Even after the (Australian) bushfires, Scott Morrison doesn't believe in climate change". The next sentence, "How dumb is that?" didn't even have to be said. I held my tongue. The Earth is not flat.

Hence, it's important that you follow this link, read the reviews and then read this book: Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All by Michael Shellenberger

How Badly Have Environmentalists Misled and Frightened the Public!
the ecomodernist manifesto
the environment, capitalism, modernity and marx
environmental talking points and references