Showing posts from September 3, 2016

Germany election: AfD tests Merkel in eastern region

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[The racism and ultra-nationalism is bubbling up hard to the surface of German politics. *RON*]
By Paul Adams, BBC News, 3 September 2016

In the tranquil, late summer warmth of Germany's north-eastern corner, election billboards scream alarming messages.

The far-right National Democratic Party (NPD) poster is certainly eye-catching - sinister, black-clad "rapefugees" juxtaposed with the rear view of a shapely, nearly naked white woman.

But nearby, in plain black and blue, there is a less visual but equally arresting message.

To those interested in mass immigration, criminality and pension security, it declares, vote AfD on Sunday "so that Germany is not destroyed".

Does Wall Street Do “God’s Work”? Or Even Anything Useful?

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[The Emperor has no clothes. It’s time to challenge the idea that Wall Street trading helps allocate society’s resources more efficiently. A thoroughly excellent rebuttal of "Too Big To Fail." *RON*]

By Lynn Stout, Evonomics, 1 September 2016

Bank executives frequently proclaim that Wall Street is vital to the nation’s economy and performs socially valuable services by raising capital, providing liquidity to investors, and ensuring that securities are priced accurately so that money flows to where it will be most productive. There’s just one problem: the Wall Street mantra isn’t true.

In the wake of the 2008 crisis, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein famously told a reporter that bankers are “doing God’s work.” This is, of course, an important part of the Wall Street mantra: it’s standard operating procedure for bank executives to frequently and loudly proclaim that Wall Street is vital to the nation’s economy and performs socially valu…

For-Profit Pipeline Company Claims "Public Benefit" in Seizing Private Lands in Pennsylvania

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[We would expect this kind of inane antidemocratic tactic in the former Soviet Union, or some (other?) banana republic. *RON*]

By Larry Buhl, DeSmog Blog, 31 August 2016
New and protracted battles in the hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) war are breaking out across Pennsylvania and other states near the Marcellus Shale over pipeline companies’ use of eminent domain.

The fiercest battle pits Philadelphia-based Sunoco Logistics against homeowners in the path of a pipeline that crosses Pennsylvania. In a controversial move invoking eminent domain, Sunoco aims to seize private lands to make room for a pipeline extension that would move highly volatile liquids (HVL) used in the making of plastics from the Marcellus Shale region to eastern Pennsylvania.

With an air of inevitability, opponents say, Sunoco is planning to move ahead with Mariner East II, a retrofit and extension of an existing east-west pipeline that was once used to ship gasoline westwa…

Why the Deeply Held Ideas of the Nation’s Most Elite Economists Were Direct Causes of Extreme Inequality

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[As Americans turned away from government, so did the economics profession. But neoclassical economic thinking has gone off the rails and has simply lost contact with reality. *RON*]

By Jeff Madrick, Evonomics, 26 August 2016

Remember in 2009 when everyone was dodging blame for the financial crisis? Depending on who you asked, it was the bankers, the federal regulators, Fannie Mae, fraudster mortgage companies, the ratings agencies and the sub-prime borrowers themselves. The favorite claim of excuse makers was that no single group was to blame — it was a cluster-f*** as one journalist friend put it.

If everyone did it, no one could be held accountable. But it wasn’t true. Bankers and regulators were the major creators of the crisis, for their neglect and single-minded self-aggrandizement that often involved bending the rules.

But let me single out one group that avoided blame and deserved plenty of it: mainstream economists. The deeply held idea…

The $8 Trillion Fight Over How to Rid America of Fossil Fuel

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[There's currently a one-in-ten chance the world will end because of global warming. Economists agree it can be stopped, but differ on how much it will cost to switch from fossil fuels. At minimum, it looks as though Geoffrey Heal has set out a great, and transparent, analytic framework that people can now tinker with, argue about, but get on with the analytic job. *RON*]

Eric Roston, Bloomberg, 30 August 2016

For every economist, there exists an equal and opposite economist, and they’re both wrong. Like many jokes, this one is funny (to economists, anyway) because it’s true. What isn’t so funny is its application to the biggest challenge of the 21st century: How to shed a fossil-fuel energy infrastructure that seems hell-bent on destroying us. There are several camps trying to decide how much we must spend to avoid environmental disaster. Consensus on a grand total is a matter of degree, with estimates varying by as much as $8 trillion.


Most Welfare Dollars Don’t Go Directly To Poor People Anymore

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[In some states, such as Illinois, only 6% of the money described as going for welfare actually goes to poor people. They get away with this - while, no doubt, complaining about how much money they spend on 'welfare' - because of the law Clinton I signed into effect 20 years ago, which allows states to include all sorts of irrelevant items (e.g., preventing out-of-wedlock pregnancies, encouraging the formation of two-parent families) under the rubric of welfare payments. *RON*]

By Andrew Flowers, Five Thirty Eight, 25 August 2016

Twenty years after President Bill Clinton fulfilled his vow to “end welfare as we know it,” it’s fair to say: mission accomplished. The old U.S. welfare system is dead. Whether the system that replaced it is better for the poorest Americans remains the subject of fierce debate.

The welfare reform bill that Clinton signed into law 20 years ago this month fractured the U.S. welfare system, from one managed mostly …