Friday, August 26, 2016

Bill McBride — Comments on Home Sales in July

CR Note: When the New and Existing home sales reports were released this week, I was out of town and didn't post any graphs. Here are a few graphs and comments on the reports.
Calculated Risk
Bill McBride

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

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 ideas of the nation’s most elite economists from the Right and the Left were direct causes of the crisis, justifying perverse behavior on Wall Street and in Washington, and careless and ignorant behavior at the Federal Open Market Committee of the nation’s central bank, the Federal Reserve.

These ideas did a lot of harm along the way — in particular, they were responsible for slower than necessary economic growth that resulted in higher unemployment and inequality.…

Bill McBride — Fed policy and NGDP

Fed caught between a rock and hard place. They want to begin tightening, but NGDP won't cooperate. The "inflation" continues to be in asset prices rather than good price level or wages.

Calculated Risk
Yellen: "Case for an increase in the federal funds rate has strengthened"

Q2 GDP Revised Down to 1.1% Annual Rat
Bill McBride

Zero Hedge — "Things Are Worse" - Dollar Stores' Startling Admission: Half Of US Consumers Are In Dire Straits

But the biggest factor by far impacting the performance of both dollar stores was the sharp, adverse turn in the purchasing power of the lower half of US consumers.
Both Dollar General and Dollar Tree said pressures on their core lower-income shoppers contributed to the same-store sales misses that both retailers reported. On today's conference call, Dollar General CEO Todd Vasos said that he was surprised to admit that while on the surface things are supposed to be getting better, the reality is vastly different for low-income US consumers:
I know that when we look at globally the overall U.S. population, it seems like things are getting better. But when you really start breaking it down and you look at that core consumer that we serve on the lower economic scale that's out there, that demographic, things have not gotten any better for her, and arguably, they're worse. And they're worse, because rents are accelerating, healthcare is accelerating on her at a very, very rapid clip.
Making matters worse, he added that the company's core consumers base, 65% of which is comprised of lower-income shoppers, has been impacted by the recent reduction or elimination in foodstamps: "now couple that in upwards of 20 states where they have reduced or eliminated the SNAP benefit, and it has really put a toll on [the core consumer]."
He elaborated that the reduction in foodstamps benefits promptly filtered through the entire business model, and culminated with Dollar General being forced to cut prices to remain competitive.…
"Those people" are likely voters for Donald Trump and they are less likely to show up in polling. Trump may be correct in assuming that the polls are not reflecting some of his key constituency.

Zero Hedge
"Things Are Worse" - Dollar Stores' Startling Admission: Half Of US Consumers Are In Dire Straits
Submitted by Tyler Durden

Joe Mellor — The beginning of the end? Huge NHS cuts across England

Looks like Theresa May is all talk and plans to pursue Thatcherism.
The NHS has been thrown into even more turmoil, after plans have been revealed to conduct huge cuts across England’s NHS.
According to the BBC, who have been able to access a draft planning document, the NHS will see ward closures, cuts in bed numbers and alterations to GP and A&E care across the country.
Many will see these cuts as the end of free health care as we know it, as services are cut and shortfalls may well be picked up by private sector care providers.
These plans are supposedly required to achieve efficiency savings of around £22 billion by 2020-21.…
Apparently the Her Majesty's government is running out of money (snark).

But there is apparently also a lack of real resources. The UK is not training enough medical personnel for the size of the population. But that is arguably a function of not creating enough financial incentive to recruit, against because of a funding shortage.
Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, which represents hospitals, believes “we are at breaking point: he said: “We’ve got this absolutely massive financial deficit which is the biggest in NHS history and then at the same time … we’ve got major shortages in key areas like nurses and doctors which effectively are meaning people are having to shut services.
“We are seeing more and more pressures on staff trying to run harder and harder.”
The idea is apparently to privatize NHS so that private companies can raise rates, increase financial incentives for recruitment, and meet the demand, preventing market failure while providing substantially better care for the country. Good luck with that.

Joe Mellor

Bill Allison — Millions From Maxed-Out Clinton Donors Flowed Through Loophole

When the Democratic National Committee announced its $32 million fundraising haul last month, it touted the result as evidence of “energy and excitement” for Hillary Clinton’s nomination for the White House and other races down the ballot. The influx of money, however, also owes in part to an unprecedented workaround of political spending limits that lets the party tap into millions of dollars more from Clinton’s wealthiest donors.

At least $7.3 million of the DNC’s July total originated with payments from hundreds of major donors who had already contributed the maximum $33,400 to the national committee, a review of Federal Election Commission filings shows. The contributions, many of which were made months earlier, were first bundled by the Hillary Victory Fund and then transferred to the state Democratic parties, which effectively stripped the donors’ names and sent the money to the DNC as a lump sum.

Of the transfers that state parties made to the DNC for which donor information was available, an overwhelming proportion came from contributions from maxed-out donors:
Millions From Maxed-Out Clinton Donors Flowed Through Loophole
Bill Allison
ht Ryan Harris in the comments

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Eliza Newline Carney — Controversy Versus Corruption

This summer’s never-ending Democratic email disclosures have shed an increasingly unflattering light on the privileged relationship that big donors enjoy with Hillary Clinton and with party officials.
Major Clinton Foundation contributors sought and in some cases received expedited meetings with Clinton when she served as secretary of state, according to the latest batch of emails released by the conservative group Judicial Watch. The July WikiLeaks release of Democratic National Committee emails also detailed the special rewards, such as VIP roundtables and receptions, that party officials showered on top-tier contributors.
The disclosures have been jarring on several fronts. The DNC emails enraged backers of Bernie Sanders not only because they revealed how top party officials sought to sabotage his primary challenge to Clinton, but because of the ugly glimpse of the perks offered to wealthy donors. Clinton’s claim that she wants to fight inequality and help working Americans clashes with her close ties to deep-pocketed CEOs and Wall Street billionaires.
Clinton’s pledges to overhaul the campaign finance system, which watchdogs have urged her to spotlight as an antidote to her unpopularity, also are undercut by the email and Clinton Foundation controversies. Yes, Bill Clinton has said that if Clinton becomes president the foundation will no longer accept foreign or corporate contributions, and that he will step down from its board. But these moves come too late and do not go far enough. Politicians should simply not be in the business of raising money for nonprofits, which operate outside both campaign-finance limits and disclosure rules. If the Clintons want the good work of their foundation to continue, they should turn it over to trusted allies and immediately sever ties with the organization.…
American Prospect
Controversy Versus Corruption
Eliza Newlin Carney

Peter Koenig: The Brewing Collapse of the Western Monetary System


It is hard to believe that Washington would risk a war with Russia, being well aware of Russia’s superiority in the air, as well as on and under the sea with latest generation technology and nuclear war heads. But the exceptional nation on a declining course, knows no scruples pulling the entire humanity into her self-made abyss.

What the West wants to ignore is that there is an alternative to the fraudulent western monetary system – a Russia-China based monetary scheme, totally delinked from the dollar-euro and the western privately owned FED-BIS-Wall Street manipulated system; a monetary structure built according to the value and strength of the member countries’ economies. Instead of illegal sanctions, blackmail, threats and outright financial wars for those ‘unwilling’ to submit to Washington, the eastern perspective offers a potential of equitable economic development, fairness in trade to a federation of sovereign nations.

It is high time for the freedom loving world to move out from under the boots of the empire; that we return to a multi-polar world of equals, that the international agencies we created to serve humanity are freed from the claws of their hijackers in Washington and those who command Washington, that the UN and its specialized agencies, as well as the International Criminal Court – even the Olympic Committee – may operate according to their peoples’ given mandates, that they may operate without the oppressive fist of Washington dictating them their terms. ‘Economics of Peace’ under a new egalitarian monetary system may lead humanity to freedom and prosperity for all.

Israeli Think Tank: Don’t Destroy ISIS - It’s a “Useful Tool” Against Iran, Hezbollah, Syria

Head of a right-wing think tank says the existence of ISIS serves a "strategic purpose" in the West's interests                     


According to a think tank that does contract work for NATO and the Israeli government, the West should not destroy ISIS, the fascist Islamist extremist group that is committing genocide and ethnically cleansing minority groups in Syria and Iraq.

Why? The so-called Islamic State “can be a useful tool in undermining” Iran, Hezbollah, Syria and Russia, argues the think tank’s director.

“The continuing existence of IS serves a strategic purpose,” wrote Efraim Inbar in “The Destruction of Islamic State Is a Strategic Mistake,” a paper published on Aug. 2.

By cooperating with Russia to fight the genocidal extremist group, the United States is committing a “strategic folly” that will “enhance the power of the Moscow-Tehran-Damascus axis,” Inbar argued, implying that Russia, Iran and Syria are forming a strategic alliance to dominate the Middle East.

“The West should seek the further weakening of Islamic State, but not its destruction,” he added. “A weak IS is, counterintuitively, preferable to a destroyed IS.”

Inbar, an influential Israeli scholar, is the director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, a think tank that says its mission is to advance “a realist, conservative, and Zionist agenda in the search for security and peace for Israel.”

The think tank, known by its acronym BESA, is affiliated with Israel’s Bar Ilan University and has been supported by the Israeli government, the NATO Mediterranean Initiative, the U.S. embassy in Israel and the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs.

BESA also says it “conducts specialized research on contract to the Israeli foreign affairs and defense establishment, and for NATO.”

In his paper, Inbar suggested that it would be a good idea to prolong the war in Syria, which has destroyed the country, killing hundreds of thousands of people and displacing more than half the population.

As for the argument that defeating ISIS would make the Middle East more stable, Inbar maintained: “Stability is not a value in and of itself. It is desirable only if it serves our interests.”

Steve Keen 2016 Laughs At Childish Austerity Economics & Gold Buggism

Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert do a fantastic interview of Steve Keen. It covers a lot of ground here, and clears up a lot of things about Steve Keen's theories.

I have not studied economics, but I have always wondered that if banks create the money out of nothing then why is it they are so bothered if they don't always get their money back when no one has actually lost anything. Well, Steve Keen says exactly the same thing - so wow, would you believe it? And that they should write off debts at regular interviews to get the economy going again. Micheal Hudson says that debt destroyed The Holy Roman Empire and it could do the same thing to our civilization.

Book Discussion on Confronting Capitalism: Professor Philip Kotler [Video]

Here Professor Philip Kotler talked about his book, Confronting Capitalism: Real Solutions for a Troubled Economic System. He has taught economics and marketing at the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois for 50 years, and has written 50 books. He is considered to be America's leading marketing guru, so you would tend to think that he has no time for socialism.

Philip Kotler was inspired by Milton Friedman and believed free markets was the answer to improving the conditions for mankind. But he can see now that some government regulation is needed to help the economy to work better.

I almost switched off this video at the beginning thinking that Philip Kotler was just going to go on about trickle down and come out with the same old right wing propaganda while throwing in a few crumbs for the poor, but I persevered, mainly because the intro to his book was so good, and I'm glad I did.

Philip Kotler is a moderate who can see that present day capitalism has got out of hand where the One Percent have taken all the wealth. He says that we need some Keynesianism now to stimulate the economy, and that wages should be increased to improve demand to help the economy.  He says how the One percent have outsourced all the work abroad and have forced wages and conditions right down, and that billions around the world don't get a living wage. He also says that products should have the true cost attached to them with externalities taken into consideration - you can't just pollute the environment.

Philip Kotler also believes that general happiness should be taken into consideration and not just the GDP.  Being happy at work is important, says Philip Kotler, as well as having sufficient leisure time. He says that Sweden is a good example of how to run an economy.

Philip Kotler says that education and university should be free and is an investment for society. When the interviewer asks him how that was going to be paid for, he said $trillions go missing from the military budget and the money can be found there.  

Well, what a great interview, and what a decent guy, so I bought his book, which was very inexpensive in Kindle.

Mike Whitney — The Broken Chessboard: Brzezinski Gives up on Empire

The main architect of Washington’s plan to rule the world has abandoned the scheme and called for the forging of ties with Russia and China. While Zbigniew Brzezinski’s article in The American Interest titled “Towards a Global Realignment” has largely been ignored by the media, it shows that powerful members of the policymaking establishment no longer believe that Washington will prevail in its quest to extent US hegemony across the Middle East and Asia. Brzezinski, who was the main proponent of this idea and who drew up the blueprint for imperial expansion in his 1997 book The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives, has done an about-face and called for a dramatic revising of the strategy.…
The neocons, liberal interventionists and war hawks haven't gotten the message yet.
Unfortunately, Brzezinski’s more cautious approach is not likely to be followed by presidential-favorite Hillary Clinton who is a firm believer in imperial expansion through force of arms.…

The Saker — Assessing the Russian military as an instrument of power

Fairly detailed out on Russian military policy and military capabilities. "No, the Russians are not coming." Russia's military is defensive in nature, including MAD as a deterrent.

The Unz Review
Assessing the Russian military as an instrument of power
The Saker
Crossposted at The Vineyard of the Saker

Glenn Greenwald — Why Did the Saudi Regime and Other Gulf Tyrannies Donate Millions to the Clinton Foundation?

As the numerous and obvious ethical conflicts surrounding the Clinton Foundation receive more media scrutiny, the tactic of Clinton-loyal journalists is to highlight the charitable work done by the foundation, and then insinuate — or even outright state — that anyone raising these questions is opposed to its charity. James Carville announced that those who criticize the foundation are “going to hell.” Other Clinton loyalists insinuated that Clinton Foundation critics are indifferent to the lives of HIV-positive babies or are anti-gay bigots.
That the Clinton Foundation has done some good work is beyond dispute. But that fact has exactly nothing to do with the profound ethical problems and corruption threats raised by the way its funds have been raised. Hillary Clinton was America’s chief diplomat, and tyrannical regimes such as the Saudis and Qataris jointly donated tens of millions of dollars to an organization run by her family and operated in its name, one whose works has been a prominent feature of her public persona. That extremely valuable opportunity to curry favor with the Clintons, and to secure access to them, continues as she runs for president.
The claim that this is all just about trying to help people in need should not even pass a laugh test, let alone rational scrutiny. To see how true that is, just look at who some of the biggest donors are. Although it did not give while she was secretary of state, the Saudi regime by itself has donated between $10 million and $25 million to the Clinton Foundation, with donations coming as late as 2014, as she prepared her presidential run. A group called “Friends of Saudi Arabia,” co-founded “by a Saudi Prince,” gave an additional amount between $1 million and $5 million. The Clinton Foundation says that between $1 million and $5 million was also donated by “the State of Qatar,” the United Arab Emirates, and the government of Brunei. “The State of Kuwait” has donated between $5 million and $10 million.
Theoretically, one could say that these regimes — among the most repressive and regressive in the world — are donating because they deeply believe in the charitable work of the Clinton Foundation and want to help those in need. Is there a single person on the planet who actually believes this? Is Clinton loyalty really so strong that people are going to argue with a straight face that the reason the Saudi, Qatari, Kuwaiti and Emirates regimes donated large amounts of money to the Clinton Foundation is because those regimes simply want to help the foundation achieve its magnanimous goals?….
The Intercept
Why Did the Saudi Regime and Other Gulf Tyrannies Donate Millions to the Clinton Foundation?
Glenn Greenwald

Philip Kotler — Why Behavioral Economics Is Really Marketing Science

The greatest irony is that traditional economics is now facing a new competitor, namely behavioral economics. Behavioral economics attacks the crucial assumption that consumers engage in maximizing behavior. Aiming to maximize utility or profits is the key to building economic decision models. Otherwise, economists would have to work with another assumption, that consumers are basically “satisficing,” stopping short of spending time to maximize and being happy enough to achieve enough of what they want. But the mathematics aren’t there for this behavior and hence the claim of economics to be a science is also weakened.
Behavioral economists, instead of assuming that consumers and producers are maximizers, have to study how different marketing actors actually behave. This involves collecting empirical data. This will lead to recognizing many instances of non-rational or even irrational behavior. How do we explain people paying so much more for coffee at Starbucks or ice cream from Haagen Dazs? How do we explain some low income people voting for Republican candidates when the empirical evidence shows that poor people have done better during Democratic administrations than Republican administrations?
If economists now have to study and explain how consumers actually make their choices, they need to turn to marketing. For a hundred years, marketers have collected data on what, how and why consumers buy what they buy. The data is there. The only conclusion we can draw is that behavioral economics is, ironically, another word for marketing. Marketers have been the behavioral economists!
Why Behavioral Economics Is Really Marketing Science
Philip Kotler |  S.C. Johnson & Son Distinguished Professor of International Marketing at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University

Investor's Business Daily — The Bizarre Media Blackout Of Hacked George Soros Documents

Another news blackout.
Leaked documents released a few days ago provide juicy insider details of how a fabulously rich businessman has been using his money to influence elections in Europe, underwrite an extremist group, target U.S. citizens who disagreed with him, dictate foreign policy, and try to sway a Supreme Court ruling, among other things. Pretty compelling stuff, right?
Not if it involves leftist billionaire George Soros. In this case, the mainstream press couldn't care less
On Saturday, a group called DC Leaks posted more than 2,500 documents going back to 2008 that it pilfered from Soros' Open Society Foundations' servers. Since then, the mainstream media have shown zero interest in this gold mine of information.
We couldn't find a single story on the New York Times, CNN, Washington Post, CBS News or other major news sites that even noted the existence of these leaked documents, let alone reported on what's in them.…
Anyone with this much power and influence demands close media scrutiny. Particularly when he has extremely close ties to the would-be next president of the United States.
This year alone, Soros has given $7 million to the Clinton-supporting Priorities USA super-PAC, and a total of $25 million to support Democrats and their causes, according to Politico.…
Why the media backout. Are they afraid of Soros? Not exactly. The odds on chances are that HRC will win the presidency and she is known to be very vindictive. Those that crossed her or her cronies will pay a price — denial of access and exclusion.

Investor's Business Daily — Editorial
The Bizarre Media Blackout Of Hacked George Soros Documents

Bill Mitchell — Modern Monetary Theory – what is new about it? – Part 3 (long)

I noted in Monday’s blog – Modern Monetary Theory – what is new about it? – that I am working on a paper (with my colleague Martin Watts) that will form the basis of a a keynote talk I will give at the – International Post Keynesian Conference – which will be held at the University of Missouri – Kansas City between September 15-18, 2016. That talk will now be held at 15:30 on Saturday, September. 17, 2016. I also listed four areas where we would discuss the novel contribution that Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) has made to macroeconomics, despite the claims of both mainstream economists and some Post Keynesians that there is nothing new in MMT. The first two blogs on this topic covered the juxtaposition of employment versus unemployment buffer stocks and the implications of that for how we view the Phillips curve, a central framework in macroeconomics linking inflation to developments in the real sector (unemployment etc). Today’s blog considers another section of the paper – the dynamics of fiscal deficits and public debt. We consider the difference between deficit doves, who consider fiscal deficits are appropriate under some conditions but should be balanced over some definable economic cycle, which we argue has been the standard Post Keynesian position, and the MMT approach to deficits, which considers the desirable deficit outcome at any point in time to be a function of the state of non-government spending and the utilisation of the productive capacity of the economy. We argue that fiscal rules expressed in terms of some rigid balance to GDP target are not only meaningless but dangerous. Fiscal rules in MMT are only meaningful if related to the state of non-government spending and the utilisation of the productive capacity of the economy. This body of MMT work is clearly novel and improves on the extant Post Keynesian literature in the subject which was either silent or lame on these topics.
Bill Mitchell – billy blog
Modern Monetary Theory – what is new about it? – Part 3 (long)
Bill Mitchell | Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), at University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia

Dean Baker — If Uber Succeeds in Monopolizing the Market Then Obama is Supposed to Regulate His Former Political Adviser

The Washington Post reported that Uber is deliberately trying to drive Lyft, its major competitor out of the market, by having temporarily low rates and subsidies to drivers. If the Post's reporting is accurate, and barriers to entry prevent new companies from effectively competing with Uber, then the company is engaging in classic anti-competitive tactics. This is the sort of activity that is supposed bring intervention from the Justice Department, since Uber will be charging higher prices if it succeeds in eliminating Lyft.
The management of Uber is either not aware of the law or counting on its political power to ensure that the law is not enforced. Uber hired David Plouffe, President Obama's top political strategist, to a top position in 2008.
Beat the Press
If Uber Succeeds in Monopolizing the Market Then Obama is Supposed to Regulate His Former Political Adviser
Dean Baker | Co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C

UK Savings Rates being reduced

Some evidence of savers being negatively impacted due to the Aug. 4 rate cut.  Interest income being reduced in August.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

George Lakoff — Understanding Trump’s Use of Language

Note: This is a follow-up to my previous piece, ‘Understanding Trump’. Please read that piece first.…
Some in the media (Washington Post, Salon, Slate, Think Progress, etc.) have called Trump’s speeches “word salad.” Some commentators have even attributed his language use to “early Alzheimer’s,” citing “erratic behavior” and “little regards for social conventions.” I don’t believe it.

I have been repeatedly asked in media interviews about such use of language by Trump. So far as I can tell, he is simply using effective discourse mechanisms to communicate what his wants to communicate to his audience. I have found that he is very careful and very strategic in his use of language. The only way I know to show this is to function as a linguist and cognitive scientist and go through details.
Complementary to Scot Adams' analysis of Trump based on persuasion.

George Lakoff's Blog
Understanding Trump’s Use of Language
George Lakoff | Richard and Rhoda Goldman Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley

Sputnik International — New Arms Race: China, US Prepare for Missile Warfare

As these tensions simmer, an op-ed for Asia Times by Bill Gertz points out that China has been stockpiling its missile arsenal for years, over concerns of US aggression.
"Beijing’s arsenal of ballistic and cruise missiles has been growing steadily for decades as new systems were fielded in an array of ranges – short, medium and intercontinental," Gertz writes. "Several long-range cruise missiles, capable of carrying nuclear or conventional payloads also are deployed."
In addition, Beijing has secretly developed a hypersonic missile, the DF-ZF glide vehicle, which ascends to the Earth’s upper atmosphere in order to bypass anti-missile defense systems.
As the United States plans to deploy a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system on the Korean peninsula, ostensibly aimed at deterring North Korean aggression, Beijing has been forced to beef up its own missile defenses.
"To develop suitable capabilities of missile defense is necessary for China to maintain national security and improve defense capabilities. It is not targeting any other country or target, nor is it jeopardizing the international strategic equilibrium," Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Sr. Col. Yang Yujun told reporters last month.…
According to a report in China Military Online, escalations between the two superpowers will lead to the inevitable.
"The problem is not whether the war will break out, but when," the report said. "Our task is to develop the 'trump card' weapon for China before the war."
How's that pivot to Asia working' for ya?

Sputnik International
New Arms Race: China, US Prepare for Missile Warfare

The Empire Files: 'This Ship is Sinking' Says Former Bush Official

Abby Martin interviews retired U.S. Army Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, former national security adviser to the Reagan administration, who spent years as an assistant to Secretary of State Colin Powell during both Bush administrations. Today, he is honest about the unfixable corruption inside the establishment and the corporate interests driving foreign policy.

Hear a rare insider's view of what interests are behind U.S. wars, the manipulation of intelligence, the intertwining of the military and corporate world, and why the U.S. Empire is doomed.

Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson resigned from the army when he found out that the top officials of the US government had sanctioned torture in Iraq. He was a republican and an adviser to Colin Powell.   H says that war is no big business in the US and the expansion of NATO is just to get more members to sell armaments to.

Lawrence Wilkerson talks about the revolving door where generals leave the army and then become six figure paid experts for the defense industry. You will see them being interviewed on television as security experts advising for more war spending and ever more military build up.

Lawrence Wilkerson says that Russia had 80% of it tanks and military equipment manufactured in the Ukraine and Washington must have been crazed to think that they would give that up easily. He says American citizens must wake up and end this madness, and that we might need a color revolution here too.    

Moon of Alabama — Kurds Lose Out As Neo-Ottoman Turks Steal Syria's Jarablus

Early this morning Turkey invaded Syria. A contingent of 1,500 Turkish sponsored "Syrian rebels", aka Islamist from all over the world, were accompanied by some Turkish special forces and twenty tanks to capture the city Jarablus at the Turkish-Syrian border. The move followed a night of artillery warm-ups and bombing raids. Shortly after noon the "Syrian revolution" flag and the Turkish banner(!) were raised over the city.…

The real plan behind the Turkish invasions is way beyond ISIS or the Kurdish issue. As Turkish papers were eager to point out, the invasion happened to the day 500 years after the battle of Marj Dabiq north of Aleppo:
The battle was part of the Ottoman–Mamluk War (1516–17) between the Ottoman Empire and the Mamluk Sultanate, which ended in an Ottoman victory and conquest of much of the Middle East, ...
The choosing of this date points to Erdogan's real ambition: To recreate an Ottoman empire which would include at least north Syria and north Iraq.

Italy Quake, Tropical Update, Severe Weather

Suspicious0bservers with their daily update that addresses the Italy quake and the latest on some emerging Atlantic storms that may threaten southeast US...

Tsarev: Is the US done with Poroshenko? War favors Clinton — News Front interviews Oleg Tsarev

Insider reports on what's really happening in Ukraine.

Fort Russ
Tsarev: Is the US done with Poroshenko? War favors Clinton
News Front interviews Oleg Tsarev
Translated by I. Sinchougova and J. Flores

Sebastian Mallaby — The dirty little secret of central banking

Despite the brilliance of its practitioners, monetary policy is not a settled science. It is an improvised experiment.
And the experiment is on us.

The Washington Post
The dirty little secret of central banking
Sebastian Mallaby

John Pilger — The Bogus ‘Humanitarian’ War on Serbia

NATO’s war on Serbia in 1999 was the template for other “humanitarian” wars – in Iraq, Libya and now Syria – but it wasn’t “news” when the Serbian leader was cleared, notes John Pilger.
The exoneration of a man accused of the worst of crimes, genocide, made no headlines. Neither the BBC nor CNN covered it. The Guardian allowed a brief commentary. Such a rare official admission was buried or suppressed, understandably. It would explain too much about how the rulers of the world rule.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague has quietly cleared the late Serbian president, Slobodan Milosevic, of war crimes committed during the 1992-95 Bosnian war, including the massacre at Srebrenica.
Far from conspiring with the convicted Bosnian-Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, Milosevic actually “condemned ethnic cleansing,” opposed Karadzic and tried to stop the war that dismembered Yugoslavia. Buried near the end of a 2,590-page judgment on Karadzic last February, this truth further demolishes the propaganda that justified NATO’s illegal onslaught on Serbia in 1999.
Milosevic died of a heart attack in 2006, alone in his cell in The Hague, during what amounted to a bogus trial by an American-invented “international tribunal.” Denied heart surgery that might have saved his life, his condition worsened and was monitored and kept secret by U.S. officials, as WikiLeaks has since revealed.
Milosevic was the victim of war propaganda that today runs like a torrent across our screens and newspapers and beckons great danger for us all. He was the prototype demon, vilified by the Western media as the “butcher of the Balkans” who was responsible for “genocide,” especially in the secessionist Yugoslav province of Kosovo. Prime Minister Tony Blair said so, invoked the Holocaust and demanded action against “this new Hitler.”…
It was blatantly ideological; at a notorious “peace conference” in Rambouillet in France, Milosevic was confronted by Madeleine Albright, the U.S. Secretary of State, who was to achieve infamy with her remark that the deaths of half a million Iraqi children were “worth it.”
Albright delivered an “offer” to Milosevic that no national leader could accept. Unless he agreed to the foreign military occupation of his country, with the occupying forces “outside the legal process,” and to the imposition of a neo-liberal “free market,” Serbia would be bombed.
This was contained in an “Appendix B,” which the media failed to read or suppressed. The aim was to crush Europe’s last independent “socialist” state.'…
All but a fraction of America’s vaunted “precision guided” missiles hit not military but civilian targets, including the news studios of Radio Television Serbia in Belgrade. Sixteen people were killed, including cameramen, producers and a make-up artist. Blair described the dead, profanely, as part of Serbia’s “command and control.”
In 2008, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, Carla Del Ponte, revealed that she had been pressured not to investigate NATO’s crimes.…
This obeisance to the United States and its collaborators as a benign force “bringing good” runs deep in Western establishment journalism. It ensures that the present-day catastrophe in Syria is blamed exclusively on Bashar al-Assad, whom the West and Israel have long conspired to overthrow, not for any humanitarian concerns, but to consolidate Israel’s aggressive power in the region.…
The city of Aleppo is in the news. Most readers and viewers will be unaware that the majority of the population of Aleppo lives in the government-controlled western part of the city. That they suffer daily artillery bombardment from Western-sponsored Al Qaeda is not news. On 21 July, French and American bombers attacked a government village in Aleppo province, killing up to 125 civilians. This was reported on page 22 of the Guardian; there were no photographs.
Having created and underwritten jihadism in Afghanistan in the 1980s as Operation Cyclone – a weapon to destroy the Soviet Union – the U.S. is doing something similar in Syria. Like the Afghan Mujahedeen, the Syrian “rebels” are America’s and Britain’s foot soldiers. Many fight for Al Qaeda and its variants; some, like the Nusra Front, have rebranded themselves to comply with American sensitivities over 9/11. The CIA runs them, with difficulty, as it runs jihadists all over the world.
The immediate aim is to destroy the government in Damascus, which, according to the most credible poll (YouGov Siraj), the majority of Syrians support, or at least look to for protection, regardless of the barbarism in its shadows. The long-term aim is to deny Russia a key Middle Eastern ally as part of a NATO war of attrition against the Russian Federation that eventually destroys it.
Joseph Goebbels would be proud of the propaganda that convinces the American and British publics to support this travesty in the name of "freedom and democracy" wrapped in the respective flags, beginning with Vietnam.

Consortium News
The Bogus ‘Humanitarian’ War on Serbia
John Pilger

Andrew Batson — Stalin and Mao are not making a comeback, but nationalism sure is

Good article on Russian and Chinese history relative to the administrations of Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping. Rather than rehabilitating Stalin and Mao, what is happening in the construction of a nationalist version of history much the same as America has made heroic figures of the leader responsible for Native American genocide and African slavery. Russia, China and America are not much different in this regard.

JKH — Helicopter Money Policy Formulation

An important aspect of helicopter money is just how a central bank would obtain the authority to undertake such a policy. Eric Lonergan is a leading proponent of HM. As he points out, the resolution of this issue could depend on the institutional regime for the central bank in question. For example, it may be quite different in the case of the ECB than for the Fed, the Bank of Canada, or the Bank of England.
In all cases, however, the delegated authority should be clear in delineating how helicopter money relates to standard fiscal and monetary policy responsibilities. I left the following comment along these lines at Eric’s post on the institutional perspective:
Monetary Realism
Helicopter Money Policy Formulation

Bill Mitchell — Mayday! Mayday! The skies were meant to fall in … what happened?

The British Office for National Statistics, which although recently revamped continues to have the most user-unfriendly home page and dissemination service of all the national statistical agencies, published the latest – Retail Sales in Great Britain: July 2016 – data last week (August 18, 2016). It looked good to me. In the past week or so there has been a stream of data coming out of Britain or about Britain, which also looks good to me. What the hell is going on? The skies over Britain were meant to have fallen in by now.…
Bill Mitchell – billy blog
Mayday! Mayday! The skies were meant to fall in … what happened?
Bill Mitchell | Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), at University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia

See also
That requires some explanation. There are two problems, one minor, and one major.

The minor one is that most economists have come to rely too much on confidence and survey data and not on real numbers. It was always quite hard to figure out why Brexit would lead to an immediate recession, except for the argument that confidence would take such a pounding that businesses wouldn’t invest and shoppers wouldn’t spend.

That turned out to be wrong — and it would have been far better to wait until the actual numbers came in before making any forecasts one way or the other.

The major problem is that most economists within the banks, fund managers and policy institutes were so personally committed to staying within the EU that they couldn’t imagine anything other than a catastrophic outcome if the U.K. left. But that surely is not acceptable. Economics is not a hard science like physics. But it should be capable of more objectivity than that.

No one expects economists to make perfect predictions. It is not that kind of science. But to get such a major event so completely wrong calls into question its relevance and effectiveness. At the very least, next time there is a major vote with global implications, we’ll know who not to listen to — the economists.
Matthew Lynn