Posts Tagged ‘Government’

The Central Bank Cannot Be The Government

July 12, 2021

Pretending otherwise has been a pretext to plutocracy, because, intrinsically, the Fed is all about making the wealthy, wealthier.

The central bank, known in the USA as the Federal Reserve bank (“Fed”), centralizes banking policy. Banks provide financial capital which they typically charge with interest. The big banks are for profit, and on the board of the Fed. That’s it. Banks are not in charge of health, education, defense, energy policy, welfare, children, agricultural production, food distribution, empathy, etc.

As private financiers are strongly represented on the Fed board, individuals such as Jamie Dimon, JP Morgan-Chase CEO since 2005, one may suspect that the Fed is by the financially wealthy, for the  financially wealthy. Actually the rescue plan of the wealthy implemented starting in late November 2008, was elaborated by the ex-head of Goldman Sachs, then Bush’s Treasury Secretary… with the approval of president-elect Obama (a lawyer and senator, novice in financial matters).

The fundamental error in recent decades has been to delegate many governmental functions to a purely financial organization the composition of which is, at least in part, for profit… Although the Fed’s mandate is not for profit, its operators are mostly individuals whose modus operandi is to give others the means (financial capital) to work. Those individuals don’t work themselves: they make others work. Sociologically, they interact with the world’s wealthiest individuals, those who need gigantic amounts of capital. Small earners are not in their sociological or visual domain. It’s systemic class separation in decision and influence making.

In contradiction with the preceding, the Fed charter mandates that the crocodiles shall raise hens. That’s not how the universe works.

Patrice Ayme

***

Thank you Obama, you deserve the 100 million dollars we the wealthy gave to you to reward you for your work on our behalf. Notice that Trump helped a bit the wealth of the 50% lower half, demonstrating once again that he is, indeed, a hateful, despicable populist. (Graph from NYT using Fed data.)

P/S: Except for the first, and last two sentences, the preceding was a comment to the NYT. It was published within one second, and I am grateful… That’s the way my cogent comments should be published (instead of being blocked, or delayed three days… As the NYT generally does, especially in opinion pieces which are full of lies, dissembling and distortions)

Only the Rich Could Love This Economic Recovery

By Karen Petrou. July 12, 2021

Ms. Petrou is the managing partner of Federal Financial Analytics and the author of “Engine of Inequality: The Fed and the Future of Wealth in America.”

Conventional wisdom has it that the lower a central bank sets interest rates, the faster the economy grows. But the longer rates stay ultra-low, it’s not the economy that grows — it’s inequality.

There are signs of worsening inequality across the U.S. economy. But recent surges trace back to a major change after 2008, which transformed how America fights economic recessions.

The Fed, which controls America’s monetary policy, is mired in conventional thinking, even though its policy since 2008 has been unconventional in scale, scope and omnipotence. Adhering to its “lower rates are better” axiom, the Fed has kept “real” U.S. short-term interest rates at — or even below — zero, after taking inflation into account. The Fed now plans to keep rates ultra, ultra low until about 2023, even if inflation ticks up.

This results in even wider wealth inequalities as the gap between rich and everyone else grows.

Is the stunning growth in U.S. inequality all the Fed’s fault? Of course not. Tax policy has favored the wealthy and corporations for decades, to name one other cause. But income and wealth inequality result from who gets the money. And the Fed has unrivaled power over who gets the money across markets, communities and even families.

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I have been saying this for a very long time, and when I say it, or roll out numbers, critters come and contradict reality (the facts) in the guise of criticizing yours truly… But here are the facts and their numbers:

***

Karen Petrou:

The Fed controls the flow of money, and it flows to the wealthy

The Fed’s main tools for fighting recessions are twofold: those ultra-low interest rates and a policy known as quantitative easing, or Q.E. Q.E is what happens when the Fed buys up assets, like bonds, which keeps money flowing and gives banks lots of liquidity that is supposed to make lending easier.

To get an idea of the magnitude of the Fed’s role, take a look at its portfolio. Assets the Fed has taken out of the economy as part of Q.E. now stand at $8.1 trillion, or about one-third of gross domestic product.

A growing portfolio: To stimulate the economy after 2008, the Federal Reserve increased its balance sheet and slashed interest rates. The current coronavirus pandemic sent that strategy into overdrive, creating the largest balance sheet on record and the lowest interest rates in modern U.S. history.

No one else could own that much, meaning no one but the Fed has so much power over the economy’s winners and losers.

The Fed’s approach is premised on trickle-down expectations adopted, following Reagan and his advisers, by the… Democrats, starting in the 1980s…

***

Karen Petrou:

U.S. central bankers believe the higher that markets fly and the more that the wealthy spend, the better that everyone else will be.

In truth, this policy works only for the wealthy.

Although the Fed’s huge Q.E.-based portfolio initially prevented still worse economic mayhem when the 2008 and 2020 financial crises struck, its benefits over time were 10 times greater for stock-market prices than for overall economic prosperity.

Ultra-low interest rates are meant to spur growth. But they stop having a beneficial effect when they dip so low that they distort savings incentives and instead drive speculative investing, like in Bitcoin or GameStop, to cite two current examples.

Savings, home values and stocks are up — but these also favor the rich

Many Americans own stock, but most stocks – 54 percent – are owned by the 1 percent and much of the rest by the next 9 percent.

The same can be said of real estate. Low interest rates set by the Fed spur lending, creating more demand to purchase homes and forcing prices higher. Rising equity is great for existing homeowners, but richer Americans who own property are the ones who benefit most.

***

Karen Petrou concludes, observing that the Fed charter mandates that the crocodiles shall raise hens:

“What is the Fed for?

The Fed’s role is spelled out under its statutory charter, which establishes the road map for unraveling the inequality it helped create.

The charter’s first goal is “full employment,” meaning pretty much everyone who wants a job has one. This would get a meaningful, immediate boost if the Fed reversed its cheap-debt policies that lead companies to take out debt to fund investor profits, instead of funding new plants or products.

Another goal is “price stability,” best measured by what it costs for a middle-class household to make ends meet. The measure the Fed uses misses the cost increases obscuring a household-to-debt build-up for all but the wealthiest. The Fed thus misses the long-term risks this debt poses to financial security, home ownership, and a secure retirement.

The law has a third Fed goal: “moderate” interest rates. Rates below zero after taking inflation into account are anything but moderate, so they must be gradually raised, starting now.

The current recovery is being driven not by the Fed but by the stimulus bills passed by Congress. After that spending fades, we will be a nation in which at least a quarter of middle-class households still can’t even afford the medical treatment they require, lower-income millennials have student debt equal to at least 372 percent of income, and still more won’t be able to handle even a $400 unexpected expense.

This is wealth without prosperity, a violation of every tenet in the Fed’s statutory mandate. Instead of regretting inequality even as it makes inequality worse, the Fed can and must quickly rewrite policy with a new goal in mind: shared prosperity, measured by how most of us do, not by how high the market flies.”

So why is it that officials and opinion makers believe that the Fed’s crocodiles can should, and do raise hens? Plutocratic information and opinion making control, in an awesome colluding conspiracy is the answer. Roman emperors ruled, because they had made the people ignorant, stupid and gullible.

Feynman Renormalized

December 20, 2015

In quantum field theory, the statistical mechanics of fundamental fields, and the theory of self-similar geometric structures, renormalization is a collection of techniques used to correct computations which otherwise blow up infinitely. Feynman was one of the pioneers of renormalization, and got the Nobel Prize for it.

That work was definitively made possible by a (philosophical) understanding of the “infinite” processes at hand, so Feynman was just not an “accidental philosopher”. Feynman made brutal, but amusing remarks about the uselessness of (some) philosophers in fundamental physics, something which made connoisseurs such as yours truly smile (I knew Feynman, he was complimentary, and kind, not at all putting philosophy down, differently from some recordings out there. Feynman accepted questioning the foundations maximally. His son became a philosophy major.)

The World Is Not As Simple As That, Nor Should It Be So Rough

The World Is Not As Simple As That, Nor Should It Be So Rough

I agree with the mood behind Feynman’s uttering, the spirit of what he wanted to say. However, the context of Feynman’s remarks needs to be… renormalized. (This is an example where the mood behind a precise theory in physics, namely Quantum Field Theory, can be carried over to bring the perspective of a new method to philosophy.)

As a physicist, I admire Feynman who wrote great lectures on physics, and is mostly famous for “Feynman Diagrams” a splendid, and perhaps deep way (Feynman himself was not too sure), to denote terms in the sort of power series expansion one has to consider in Quantum Field Theories.

Feynman’s statement  depends upon what one means by “government“, the type of government one is talking about. For clarity, I will consider that “government” here SHOULD mean “Direct Democracy“, the most perfect form of democracy, what democracy really means, where the People (Demos) exert Power (Kratos). That means, in particular, that We the People rules and legislates.

Feynman, who contributed to the Manhattan Project (the making of nuclear bombs crowned, for want of a better concept, with Hiroshima and Nagasaki) seems to naturally expect the sort of fascist war government he took part in.

If one expects something too much, to the point of forgetting about possible alternatives, or how grotesque and cruel that thing is, one condones it. Feynman expects government to be tyrannical. But tyranny is not ethologically human: it’s not natural, just natural in case of war. Feynman should have realized that the government he knew was not the one we should have looking forward.

Revolution begs for distanciation. Lack of distanciation is how too much tolerance can become a crime.

Thus Feynman’s statement was to some extent self-referential, and self-condemning. Indeed, in the government Feynman was used to, there was an abyss between government and citizens. Feynman witnessed the McCarthyism witch hunt (when his own career was fully launched; Feynman saw his Manhattan project superior, Robert Oppenheimer, go down in flames, just because Oppenheimer was “not trusted”).

In Direct Democracy, a government by the citizens, for the citizens, the distinction between government and citizens disappear. Abusive “representatives” (such as Richard Nixon,a Congressman, and Senator MacCarthy) altogether disappear, as We the People represents itself.

By expecting such aa abysmal distinction, between government and citizens, Feynman seems to expect that government will have to be, forever, the sort of government he played a role in. That government Feynman was involved in was a dictatorship of some sort, out there, and up there.

Government, in the most general sense, includes the legislative, judicial, and police processes and even the army, and the laws they built, enforce, and which created them. As such, the government is deeply involved in finding out what is true, and which philosophies are valid, and which are not, supported by a rather rigorous view of history.

So Feynman’s statement should be not just be reinterpreted as a warning to the citizenry to govern with an open mind. It also indicates a sort of naivety, a sort of Manichean view of the world out of physics.

Unfortunately, just as Quantum Field Theories themselves, our interpretation of the real world is self-referential, and non-linear. Our view of reality is constantly renormalized (in a way similar to what Quantum Field Theories do). We cannot separate government from truth, and especially not perfect government. And when truth is found, it has to be enforced.

No government nowadays tolerate a religion conducive to human sacrifices (wait…) Because it was found such religions were not optimal, in the context of more advanced socio-economies guided by more evolved philosophies. And that is so much the truth, it’s legislated that way, all over.

The more powerful we humans become, the more perfect our government has to be. Thus, the more We the Citizens have to be perfect. Thus, the keener we will have to be to find the truth, and impose it, when lives, or the future, are at stake.

Truth is obtained by debate, and by making mistakes. So the fact that “We The People” can err should not be condemned: after all, dictatorships and oligarchies (what we have) also err. Erring, if done in good faith, is part of the learning process. Tyrannies, oligarchies, plutocracies are, by definition, not in good faith: as they feel that the few should overlord the many, they are by definition vicious and idiotic.

So the Slovenian People, consulted in a referendum, just rejected same-sex marriage.  The vote was 63.4% against. Interestingly, the Slovenian Parliament had passed such a law, but a rather sad group appealed to the Slovenian top court, forcing the referendum. In Europe, Britain, France and Spain recognize same-sex marriages. But this is all part of the learning process: propose, reject, debate, accept. Better let the Slovenian gay inside come out of the closet willingly, after reflection. Instead of staying stuck inside in Putin’s all too warm loudly anti-homosexual embrace.

Truth, and the lack thereof, are not an innocent bystanders. If lies are allowed to grow too big, just one citizen, in a future soon to be, could condemn the “human race”.

Some truths, or lack thereof, cannot just be considered matters of state. A Cult of Death cannot be authorized as a legal religion, for example.

In Direct Democracy, truth will not just have to be a way of life, but the only way to have government, and that includes imposing it on We The People. This is exactly the main effect of the Climate Conference, COP 21, which happened in Paris. All the nations of the world united with one voice, one truth, and declared:”Earth, We have a problem!

We have to redefine “normal”. The best renormalization of society implies much more truth than ever before.

Earth is our home, but a home is something small, thus fragile.  A home cannot be inhabited by violent, potentially lethal lies.

Patrice Ayme’

Singing Praises Of Great Leaders Is Not Progress

November 18, 2014

Six years ago, We The People in the USA were expecting change that was not going to happen. OK, it could be worse: Bush’s behavior in 2003 was nearly in the same category as Putin: ”I invade, therefore I am.”

Fortunately, in the meantime, Americans and the British came to see the error of their ways. Cameron gave a hard time to Putin in Brisbane, Harper (whom I don’t like) told Putin to “get out of Ukraine” (this, I like).

Hollande of France, meeting with Putin, just sat down in a hurry, as if he could not stomach to stand next to Putin. Putin stayed up, brandishing his hand below Hollande’s nose. Then Putin waved his hand up and down. Hollande finally got up, and shook the hand of the Russian dictator. Maybe some Australian suggested that Putin ought to be extended some protocol.

Change You Can't Believe: Research Go Down Under "Democrats"

Change You Can’t Believe: Research Go Down Under “Democrats”

[It’s actually worse than it looks, see below.]

In general, Putin ought not to be extended common courtesy. He is an uncommon dictator, a very dangerous one. Even the Soviet dictators, all of them, did not dare violate International Law as grossly as Putin did.

Just like the dictator of Sudan, or the president of Kenya, Putin ought to see himself prosecuted by the International Court of Justice. Meanwhile I strongly not rising to one’s feet when he shows up, except to hiss.

If Hitler had been treated as the rabid dog he was by the first part of 1939, by the USA and Britain (and not just by France), he would not just have been more careful. That, anyway, would have been no solution.

The solution was regime change, and Hitler’s top generals were willing. Now, of course, Putin knows this, so, differently from Hitler’s, Putin’s top generals are also plutocrats in their own right (only Goering was in that position, rotten and satanic, in Hitler’s armed forces; the chief of the army, Beck, and his main collaborators, were clean, strict Prussians, and they could see Hitler had put Germany on a collision course with reality).

It’s time to make Russian generals feel that Putin is threatening Russia, as Hitler did, with Germany. Better a coup than total democracy, Putin style.

Meanwhile, Paul Krugman, the most read (pseudo-)progressive in the world, went back to his habit toof praising all things “Obama”. Yet, because the simplest evocation of “Obama” makes We The People stay at home, or vote “Republican”, Krugman praises “government” in “When Government Succeeds”.

Karen Garcia, perhaps the best commenter at the New York Times, disagreed with Krugman-the-Sycophant. OK, OK, I know, there is more money in being a sycophant for the mighty. Karen wrote, contradicting Krugman where it should hurt:

It’s not “health reform” — it’s a piecemeal reining-in of the predatory insurance cartel. And although the premiums may be holding steady, the Affordable Care Act is anything but for many people. Deductibles and co-pays are through the roof.

Health care in America is just like the lottery. It’s the luck of living in the right state and picking the right plan at the right time. You’re not a patient who gets treated. You’re a consumer who goes shopping. Some people will be “covered” and others will still go bankrupt when they get sick and can’t afford a $5,000 annual deductible on a $20,000 income.

That “fake scandal” that Paul Krugman refers is, of course, being used for nefarious political purposes by the GOP. But the fact remains that MIT economist and ACA consultant (to the tune of $400,000) Michael Gruber not only called people stupid — he admitted that the law was made deliberately opaque. Politicians were more interested in making this delayed “reform” seem deficit-neutral than in ensuring that everybody got covered. Politics trumped the public good. And that IS a scandal, no matter which side of the neoliberal duopoly you’re on.

The fact remains that least 40 million Americans remain uninsured, and will continue to needlessly sicken and die in the richest country on earth. We have the most expensive medical care in the world and still rank a shameful 51st in life expectancy.

That is the scandal.

Government will succeed when we get Single Payer.”

I support what Karen Garcia wrote: I basically said for years that it was exactly what was going on, and what would happen. And it did. Singing the praises of Obamacare is self-defeating for progressives.

Fifty-first in life expectancy, but first in bombing capability. What could go wrong?

Obama was partly undone by self-satisfaction for the little that had been already done, and the sycophants all around. Remember the Nobel Peace Prize? For what? Talking the talk? A pre-payment for future service to the reigning plutocracy?

It is true that economic activity organized by the government has its place, because not everything responds to the profit motive. An excellent example is health CARE. Care responds to care, not profit. That’s why it’s called health care, not health profit.

https://patriceayme.wordpress.com/2013/08/13/synthesis-found-governmentalism/

Only wild dogs and hyenas ought to profit from the sick. It’s a long tradition among wild humans, too, thus demonstrating health plutocrats are akin to wild beasts.

The greatest flaw of Obamacare is that it did not even try to start the transition from health profit to health care.

In general, the Obama presidency is turning into a rout for the Democratic Party. People will judge by themselves the very high deductibles of Obamacare. There is a pattern to all this, a common logic: https://patriceayme.wordpress.com/2014/11/16/obamacare-to-police-state-same-logic/

A fundamental conceptual mistake greedsters and the economists supporting them (Chicago school, Harvard) have been making is not to realize that much of the economy does not respond to the profit motive. Yet, Darius and Themistocles (heads of Persia and Athens, respectively) had understood this absolutely, and put it to tremendous use.

Darius built, Eisenhower style, a freeway system so that news from all over the continent sized Persian Empire, spread on three continents, could reach the center in a week, thanks to the (Persian) Pony Express.

Themistocles built a giant Navy, thanks to a public-private set-up, wasting Attica’s forests in the process.

All this was more than 25 centuries ago.

The government can do two very important things: support education, fundamental research, and set-up giant, important, free utilities (like Darius’ freeways, and the Internet). The fundament of the foundations of all this is to pass laws: thus the Franks forced the Church to teach secularly, around 750 CE. All states have now followed, and make education mandatory.

The Obama administration has reduced government support for fundamental research. Fundamental research on basic science is where governmental support is irreplaceable. Instead many others have been financed, such as the for-profit industrial corporation Space X, while NASA is drifting aimlessly.

Krugman sang also the praises of government about Ebola. Indeed, well organized governments stopped the epidemic in its tracks: Senegal had one Ebola case, a Guinean student who had lied, when he got into Senegal. However, he was cured, and there was no other case, although Guinea and Senegal share a long border.

Speaking of borders, the main frontline organization for Ebola was the non-profit, high risk, Doctors Without Borders (initially the French Medecins Sans Frontieres, which was attributed, the Nobel Peace Prize, and rightly so!). Although, in this case, Obama acted well, although belatedly.

Speaking of Ebola, a vaccine, or two, exist (the disease was discover by the French in 1993; the vaccines use pieces of the cover of the virus).

However, those vaccines have not been fabricated, from lack of government financing. Austerity you know, so that the plutocrats can become ever richer!

Ah, but not all is bleak. Fundamental research on nuclear weapons is in the process of passing the all-time peak (established under Reagan), thanks to the Obama administration.

Patrice Ayme’

Future Economics Was Seen Before

December 1, 2013

Paul Krugman says in “New Thinking…”: “We’ve had a couple of centuries of economic thought at this point, and quite a few smart people doing the thinking.”

Excuse me: economics was named and conceptualized by Xenophon, 24 centuries ago. Differently from physics, that was practiced only partly and primitively, economics was already highly advanced, 25 centuries ago.

For example, the 200 trireme Athenian Navy that later defeated the monster Persian plutocracy was built, at huge ecological cost, with a public-private partnership system.

Adam Smith himself went to learn his stuff at the feet of French “physiocrats” who flourished 240 years ago (the head of that school was the top surgeon in France).

As I have argued, the sort of public-private government sponsored technologically progressing economy we need today was fully, and self-consciously, in command of France in 1600. Hence Henri IV’s slogan “workers ought to have a chicken in every pot”. A cursory inspection of history show that, from dams in Yemen, thousands of years ago, to the Roman army building roads, to Caesar’ draining the swamps to the construction of China or Europe’s canal systems in the Middle Ages, the biggest picture, in economics, is from the government.

At this point there is plenty of evidence that, in the USA, government disfunctionality is bringing the real economy down.

The main actors and agents in today’s economics originated in government. Look at, say lasers. They were made possible by Kastler’s discovery of Optical Pumping in the Normale Sup lab 100% financed by the French government.

More recently, the same lab, still funded 100% by the French government, found how to count photons, without destroying them (that was also rewarded with a Nobel). Nothing that interests private, for profit entrepreneurs, today, but, no doubt, one of the pillars of the future sci-fi economy.

Economics will continue to be dismal as long as we don’t focus on the scientific understanding of growth and innovation.

Imperial Rome went down because of a deliberate effort against elite innovation; leaving the field to be dominated by simple generals such as Diocletian… Instead of the top-notch intellectuals the best regimes throughout history surrounded themselves with.

In physics one studies, to start with, friction-less trains of mass zero, to teach basic dynamics. Similarly fans of economic theory as taught in USA schools say that economics is like other sciences: economics starts with simplified, basic formulas.

They opine that basic market theory assumes that goods are available as needed to be purchased by consumers with “perfect knowledge.” As one advances to higher-level classes, one learns the corrections for effect of advertising, imperfect knowledge, and externalities such as polluting air and water.

Nice. And that’s indeed what is taught as “economics” in the USA and all and any organization that advocates the economic system thriving in the USA (complete with a for-profit, “marketplace“, Obamacare).

But this is all wrong.

Reducing economics to the market’s inner guts, assumes a plutophile vision of economics. It assumes that economics is all about, and only about, the “free market”. But there is no such a thing. A market is never “free”. What looks “free” is actually government regulated. Even ‘deregulation’ is government regulated.

What looked like financial deregulation under Clinton was actually the regulation of providing the largest financial actors with a number of advantages on smaller actors and over the rest of the socioeconomy.  

Even more fundamentally, giant economies, such as the Inca empire, or (a large part of) Late Rome did without free market, and thrived. Economically (that Rome thrive economically until overrun by savages is a recent and surprising discovery in 21 C archeology).

Stalin’s “free-market”-free economy thrived enough to vanquish Hitler. Nazi economists were so sure of the superiority of their free market, they thought there was no way it would not take more than a few months to destroy the “command and control” USSR. That illusion did not survive contact with Soviet made and conceived T34 tanks. To add injury to insult, the Soviets were then able to out-produce the Nazi style free market.

The UK and the USA used a command and control economic model similar to the one used by the Soviets to out-produce the Nazis. Mass production concentrated on very few types, decided from above. The USA effort was headed by a young Canadian economist, Galbraith.

Nowadays, the People’s Republic of China’s economy, which uses a lot of command and control of the economy, has been persistently doing much better economically than the “free market” West.

So “economics” is a much larger subject than just what American economists call the “free market”.

That the biggest picture, in economics, is from the government is the perspective that eludes persistently American economists. In economy, God is not the market. God is the (hopefully democratic) government.

If the government is democratic, most people will profit from the economy beyond mere subsistence, and so more minds will partake in the society, making the civilization smarter. A virtuous circle of involvement.

And what economic science ought to guide the government? Not the free market, assuredly, as this is the creature of the government. The government needs to be guided by real, all-encompassing economic science.

What could be a proper foundation for the whole science of economics? Energy. Just as in physics. Just as what is desperately in need of regulation now. See fracking, and the just uncovered fact it’s about 50% of USA greenhouse emissions right now.

Of course that will tell Obama nothing: he is not really the guy governing right now. It’s rather the creature down below that is governing, a magma of a few thousands plutocrats with crocodilian aspirations. They govern the jungle that feed them, complete with economists perched on the highest branches, eying the scraps left by the kills they gorge on. 

***

Patrice Ayme

***

Henri IV used the word “laboureurs” (from the Roman word, laborare, to work). That, of course gave the English “laborers”, and “labor”. So, three centuries before Henry Ford, Henri argued that workers ought to be paid enough to be well fed. Something denied to 50 million citizens of the USA (many of them working, see preceding essay). Today.


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Smile! You’re at the best WordPress.com site ever

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Smile! You’re at the best WordPress.com site ever

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