Showing posts from February 28, 2014

Will Ukraine's Revolution Be Good for Its Jews?

See the original article here.
[The are many opinion pieces springing up about US support for neo-Nazis in Ukraine, so I thought I would post this story from a Jewish newspaper. *RON*]
With Foot in Both Camps, Community Looks Beyond Protests
By David E. Fishman, The Jewish Daily FORWARD, February 26, 2014.

I teach modern Jewish history. Usually, when I mention Ukraine in class, my students’ eyes glaze over. But lately that hasn’t been the case. The eyes of the world have been turned to Kiev, the city that was home to Sholem Aleichem, and the birthplace of Golda Meir. People are now wondering whether this revolution is good or bad for the approximately 100,000 Jews who live in Ukraine.

The political parties that led the protest movement, and that have now assumed power, represent a wide spectrum of Ukrainian society. Anyone who was fed up with the corrupt, kleptocratic and dictatorial regime joined the protests. This included many good guys, and not a few anti-Semites.

Nothing Left: The long, slow surrender of American Liberals

Original article is here, behind a pay wall.

[An excellent overview of what has been happening to the political left. *RON*]

Adolph Reed Jr., March 2014, Harper's

For nearly all the twentieth century there was a dynamic left in the United States grounded in the belief that unrestrained capitalism generated unacceptable social costs. That left crested in influence between 1935 and 1945, when it anchored a coalition centered in the labor movement, most significantly within the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO). It was a prominent voice in the Democratic Party of the era, and at the federal level its high point may have come in 1944, when FDR propounded what he called “a second Bill of Rights.” Among these rights, Roosevelt proclaimed, were the right to a “useful and remunerative job,” “adequate medical care,” and “adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment.”

The labor-left alliance remained a meaningful presence in American poli…

SEC Employees Are Freakishly Good Stock Traders

See the original article here.
[Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? *RON*]
LINETTE LOPEZ, FEB. 28, 2014, Business Insider

Two academics from the University of Virgina got a hold of the trading records of SEC employees — then they built a mock hedge fund to see how it would do. The results are all in a paper presetned at UVA's Darden School of Business.

The academics, Emory University professor Shivaram Rajgopal and Georgia State University accounting PhD candidate Roger M. White found that SEC employees tend to sell a company's stock before the SEC takes enforcement action against the company.

The result, they wrote, were abnormal returns of about 4% for the market in general, and about 8.5% for the U.S. stock market.

That's significant.

While an SEC employees' stock purchases are normal, their stock "sales appear to systematically dodge the revelation of bad news in the future," according to the paper's findings.

In One Chart, Here's How Government Austerity Is Still Crushing GDP

See the original article here.

[Anything above zero contributes to GDP; anything below it takes away. I wish it was as easy to find similar Canadian statistics, but Harper has really taken care of all that! *RON*]

STEVEN PERLBERG, FEB. 28, 2014, Business Insider

This morning, Q4 GDP growth was revised down to 2.4% at an annualized pace from the BEA's initial 3.2% call.

This chart from Bloomberg LP chief economist Michael McDonough shows what is adding and subtracting to changes in GDP.

Anything above the x-axis is adding to GDP and anything below is taking away.

As you can see, government spending is still a large drag.

Here's the chart:

The Worst Unemployment Chart In The World

See the original article here.

[When the economy reached a state of stag-flation in the 1970s it was all over for Keynesian economics. Now we have a new phenomenon - a flat-lined economy with permanently high unemployment (stag-ployment?). Is it all over for neoliberalism and austerity? The Financial Times today also reports that European inflation is less than 1% - yippee for the wealthy. *RON*]
JOE WEISENTHAL, FEB. 28, 2014, Business Insider

We've said it before, and we'll say it again. This chart of Eurozone unemployment is the worst in the world.

It's not that it's getting worse (it's not) it's that in the midst of what should be a "recovery" for the Eurozone, it's just going nowhere.

Once again, according to Eurostat, unemployment refuses to budge at 12.0%. So the economy is flatlining — marginally improved from its worst levels, but really not showing any traction at all. There's an ECB meeting next week. Will they do anything?

Vermont Citizens Push to Form a State Bank, But Will Ratings Agencies Kill the Idea?

Read the original article here.
[One thing guaranteed to bring down the full wrath of the Too Big To Fail free marketers is competition. *RON*]
Posted on February 28, 2014 by Yves Smith at

Martha R wrote to tell me that a serious effort is underway in Vermont to launch a state bank. 20 towns will be voting on town meeting resolutions to establish a home-grown, public bank. The objective is not to set up a retail bank (say along the lines of a Post Office bank) but to save the fees that are now paid to large financial institutions and to fund public projects. She writes:
Town meetings cannot make it happen but they serve as a litmus test of existing political will and they send a message to state government that is heeded. There’s already a bill in the state senate. As readers may know, the one state bank in existence, that of North Dakota, has been a success. As we wrote in 2011:
The Bank of North Dakota has an enviable track record, having remained profitable during…

Canada Job Grants: Provinces, Ottawa Reach Deal On Funding

Read the original article here.

[This deal results in less money overall for people who need training; it still specifically diverts funding away from marginalized groups. But that, clearly, is fine by the Provinces as long as it doesn't increase Provincial debt. Thus, taking money away from the Provinces, but not forcing them to also pay extra for that privilege is what Kenney calls "a win-win for both sides." Incidentally, why don't the corporations who are uselessly sitting on billions of dollars of profits pay for the missing one-third of dollars from the original proposal? *RON*]

By Lee-Anne Goodman, The Canadian Press, 02/28/2014

OTTAWA - Ottawa has reached a deal on the Canada Job Grant with all the provinces and territories except Quebec, Employment Minister Jason Kenney said Friday.

"At the end of the day, this will be a win-win for both sides," Kenney told a news conference at the Manning convention, an annual networking conference of conservatives…

LNG's threat to water sustainability in B.C.

Read the original article here.
["Currently, the industry pays nothing or virtually nothing for that water, while taxpayers foot all downstream environmental and human health costs." We're talking about at least a half-billion litres of water permanently eliminated for use by any living being. *RON*]

One glaring problem with the provincial government's strategy to turn British Columbia into a liquefied natural gas exporting juggernaut is that it scuttles any chance B.C. has to be a climate-change leader.

But equally problematic is how our government's economically dubious fixation with gas exports jeopardizes our irreplaceable water resources.

In Alberta as well as numerous U.S. states where natural gas companies operate, there is a growing public backlash against industry operations. Gas-drilling and hydraulic fracturing or "fracking" -- a process where immense quantities of water, chemicals and sa…

Kinder Morgan's letter to potential NEB hearing intervenors criticized as undemocratic

Read the original article here.

[Of course, it's not really Kinder-Morgan's letter that is undemocratic, it's the Harper legislation that made it possible in the first place. Mind you, it wouldn't surprise me in the slightest to find that the relevant portions of Bill C-38 were written by K-M lawyers; Harper has a history of passing legislation written by the industry that it's meant to control. *RON*]

Some experts fear the 15-page letter will intimidate people unfamiliar with the process into withdrawing their applications.
Erin Flegg, Posted: Feb 27th, 2014, Vancouver Observer

In what some call a preemptive strike, Kinder Morgan's legal counsel sent a letter suggesting that some experts and community members who signed up as intervenors for Trans Mountain pipeline hearings may be considered ineligible. The 15-page letter outlines the key changes in the NEB Act -- brought about by the controversial Bill C-38 in 2012 -- and emphasizes why being an expert or having…