We’ve Lost All Sense of the Common Good

The only way to rebuild a Common Good is to radically decentralize political, financial and media concentrations of ownership and power. The theory of American civics is that the competitive process of every group advocating for its narrow self-interests will magically generate the Common Good, that is, a political and social order that serves everyone’s common/shared interests. Unfortunately, that’s not how civic life functions in real-world America. We have completely lost any sense of a Common Good. All we have now is a cut-throat competition between entrenched special interests for a fatter slice of the pie while the bottom 95% have essentially no political voice and a rapidly diminishing say in the economy. The problem with the theory that competitive advocacy magically generates the common good is advocacy is horrendously asymmetric: corporations and the wealthy have massively well-funded campaign and lobbying industries as their advocates, while the bottom 95% have no equivalent resources or organized efforts to advocate for their interests.

This post was published at Charles Hugh Smith on SUNDAY, JUNE 11, 2017.

Infrastructure ‘Stimulus’ – Chinese Ghost Cities & The Big Money Drain

As President Trump’s “Infrastructure Week” comes to an ignominious end, NIRP Umbrella’s Alex Deluce reminds us that spending money on bridges to nowhere and cities of the future is anything but the stimulating panacea it is talked up to be…
Is a Chinese credit bubble in the cards? Well, it will be interesting to see if China’s authorities can get through the unwind of US $3 trillion worth of excess credit and the distressed debt on banks’ balance sheets.
From 2009 to 2016, more than 10 trillion of Chinese investment was thrown at infrastructure, ghost cities, and corruption thanks to a helping hand from the Chinese banks and foreign lenders eager to participate in the Chinese growth story.
In fact, hundreds of new cities in China are essentially empty. The hope is that rural population someday move in.
Roughly 40% of the 300 million Chinese expected to move into a town by 2030 will mostly be moving to smaller cities in the ‘chengzhenhua’ system.
As OfTwoMinds’ Charles Hugh Smith recently explained, building bridges to nowhere isn’t just a waste of money in the present; it saddles the economy with productivity-draining costs for decades to come.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jun 10, 2017.

The Biggest Tech Stocks Come Unglued

Nasdaq hits record, bounces off, plunges.
Wow, did you see that? That was quick.
Friday morning between 10:15 AM and 11:15 AM, the Nasdaq gallivanted around blissfully for an entire hour in record territory of around 6,340 with not a worry in sight, and then someone must have looked at the valuations or something, and it became infectious, and the sell-orders started pouring out, and by 2:48 PM, the Nasdaq hit a low for the day of 6,160, down 3.1% from peak to trough.
It closed at 6,208, down 114 points, or 1.8%, its biggest daily decline so far this year.
Meanwhile, the Dow rose nearly 90 points or 0.4% to 21,272. And the S&P 500 ended down a minuscule 2 points.
The market is so dependent on the infamous FAANG stocks: Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Alphabet (the Google in the acronym). And here’s how they did:

This post was published at Wolf Street on Jun 9, 2017.

Will the Next Revolution Include the Press and Journalists as Part of the Corruption?

I was standing in line in a phone store and the two women in front of me were talking about the press and how dishonest they are. The interesting thing was one did not like Trump and was starting to like him because the press was so negative. The other had been a Trump supporter and just listening to them made me think just how openly revolting the press has become.
Now a Harvard study published May 18th, 2017 reveals what many Americans are starting to talk about openly just how corrupt the press has become. Trump’s press coverage has set an all-time new historic record for negativity. The Harvard study says President Trump’s early days in office were subjected to almost universally negative news coverage, confirming what he has been complaining about. They reported that Trump presidency is ‘setting a new standard for unfavorable press coverage of a president.’ I personally have done significant research in political-economic history reading the commentaries throughout history to get a sense of the thinking process and its evolution. I have never uncovered such corruption in mainstream media in the entire history of the United States. This is bordering on the corrupt Communist press of the cold war – the new American Pravda.

This post was published at Armstrong Economics on May 31, 2017.

There Ain’t no Economics in Economic Impact Studies

Economic impact studies are everywhere.
Whether it’s to support a new highway project, special tax breaks for solar energy, the building of a civic center or sports complex, or to promote subsidies for Hollywood film producers, you can find an economic impact study, often touting how great the project will be for the state or local economy.
The formula is simple, predictable, and effective. A special interest group that stands to benefit from the project funds an economic impact study that purports to provide hard numbers on the number of jobs, the increase in wages, and the additional output that will be generated by the project or subsidy, and it will do this on an industry-by-industry basis. It makes grandiose claims about how much overall economic growth will be enhanced for the state or region generally. Once the report is completed, the special interest group that paid for the study will tout these results in press releases that will be picked up by the largely uncritical media establishment, ensuring that the political decision makers and others who determine the fate of the project receive political cover.
These studies all have several things in common. First, they typically use proprietary, off-the-shelf models with acronym names like IMPLAN (Impact Analysis for Planning), CUM (Capacity Utilization Model), or REMI (Regional Economic Model, Inc.). Rights to use the models are purchased by professional consulting firms who are hired by the interest groups to do the studies. Furthermore, seldom do those who actually perform the studies have formal training in economics. Instead, their expertise is in using one or more of the aforementioned proprietary models. And finally, all of these studies ignore basic principles of economics and, as a result, do not meaningfully measure what they claim to be measuring – the economic impact of the public policies and projects that they are assessing.

This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on May 29, 2017.

NEW REVELATIONS SHED LIGHT ON EXTENT OF NSA SPYING UNDER OBAMA

In the waning years of the Obama administration, the National Security Agency (NSA) swept up and reviewed the communications of Americans to an extent previously unknown, in direct violation of the Constitution and its own revised guidelines, recently unsealed documents reveal.
The NSA is authorized to collect intelligence on foreigners under section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). With this type of intelligence collection, it is virtually inevitable that Americans’ communications will be incidentally intercepted, however there are procedures in place to keep those communications protected and anonymous.
Typically, when an American citizen is swept up in NSA surveillance, they are supposed to be ‘masked’ to protect their identity, but there are large loopholes in place that allow the NSA to spy on Americans without a warrant or any probable cause whatsoever.
When the NSA conducts what is known as ‘upstream collection’ of internet communications, it is impossible to target a single email, instead sweeping up ‘packets’ of data containing several messages. The NSA is supposed to sift through the data packets and discard all but the targeted email(s).

This post was published at The Daily Sheeple on MAY 26, 2017.

Kim Dotcom Disappoints: Offers Full Seth Rich Testimony But Only To Special Counsel Mueller

#SethRich was a hero#SethRich changed history#SethRich exposed the corrupt
Here is my statement > — Kim Dotcom (@KimDotcom) May 23, 2017

As promised over the weekend, Kim Dotcom has delivered his official ‘statement’ on the Seth Rich murder. Unfortunately, it’s a bit light on the details and more of a teaser along with a promise to disclose full details of his relationship with Seth Rich to Special Counsel Mueller in return for safe passage to and from the United States.
Here is the full statement as posted to Kim Dotcom’s website:
I know that Seth Rich was involved in the DNC leak.
I know this because in late 2014 a person contacted me about helping me to start a branch of the Internet Party in the United States. He called himself Panda. I now know that Panda was Seth Rich.
Panda advised me that he was working on voter analytics tools and other technologies that the Internet Party may find helpful.
I communicated with Panda on a number of topics including corruption and the influence of corporate money in politics.
‘He wanted to change that from the inside.’

This post was published at Zero Hedge on May 23, 2017.

Unprecedented Corruption Among Brazil’s Top Politicians Revealed In Unsealed JBS Plea Bargain

Recall that behind the latest political scandal to grip Brazil, in which president Michel Temer was accused of paying hush money to the jailed former House speaker, Eduardo Cunha (who was responsible for the impeachment of Temer’s predecessor Dilma Rouseff) to keep him from dragging Temer down as well, and which yesterday led to historic losses for the the Bovespa, was a plea bargain by the top executives of Brazil’s meatpacking giant JBS, Joseley Batista and his brother Wesley, which among other things, included an alleged recording of a phone conversation in which Batista told Temer he was paying Cunha to remain silent, to which the president was recorded saying, “You need to keep that up, okay?”

This post was published at Zero Hedge on May 19, 2017.

The Coming Debt Reckoning

Licking the Log
American workers, as a whole, are facing a disagreeable disorder. Their debt burdens are increasing. Their incomes are stagnating.
There are many reasons why. In truth, it would take several large volumes to chronicle all of them. But when you get down to the ‘lick log’ of it all, the disorder stems from decades of technocratic intervention that have stripped away any semblance of a free functioning, self-correcting economy.
The financial system circa 2017, and the economy that supports it, has been stretched to the breaking point. Shortsighted fiscal and monetary policies have propagated it. The result is a failing financial order that has become near intolerable for all but the gravy supping political class and their cronies.
Take consumer spending. This is the primary driver of the U. S. economy. Yet it requires vast amounts of credit. In fact, American consumers presently hold $1 trillion in revolving credit. At the same time, they have nowhere near the income needed to finance these debts, let alone pay them off.
Remember, the flip-side of credit is debt. Obviously, the divergence of increasing debt and stagnating incomes is a condition that cannot go on forever. But it can go on much longer than any sensible person would consider possible.

This post was published at Acting-Man on May 6, 2017.

Su-24 Downing: Ankara, Washington Acting in Unison in Wake of Attack

Ankara knows perfectly well that the Russian Su-24 bomber did not violate Turkish airspace and by no means posed any threat to the country, geopolitical analyst and former World Bank economist Peter Koenig, pointing to the fact that Washington has demonstrated its solidarity with Turkey.
Since the very beginning of the Russian military operation in Syria, Russia’s mission was absolutely clear to the international community: Moscow joined in response to the official request from Damascus to fight against terrorism as well as to protect the sovereignty of the Syrian nation.
“Russia’s mission was clear to all the 19 nations which attended the G20 meeting some 10 days ago in Antalya, Turkey, when the entire group unanimously decided to cooperate in fighting the Islamic State (IS – or Daesh, according to its Arabic acronym),” geopolitical analyst and former World Bank economist Peter Koenig emphasizes in his recent piece for Global Research.

This post was published at Sputnik News