Thursday, May 18, 2017

Today's Links

1--U.S. household debt tops 2008 peak, but this time Americans' finances are better


The recovery from the Great Recession has hit a milestone: Total household debt climbed to $12.73 trillion in the first quarter to top the peak reached in 2008 before the housing market crash and severe economic downturn led to a historic reduction, according to government data released Wednesday...

there are some potential warning signs in the latest data. Auto loan and credit card delinquencies have started trending up in recent months, and student loans delinquency rates “remain stubbornly high.”


2--About The Next Great Crash


Hudson puts it this way:
It is simple enough to show that the mathematics of compound interest lead the volume of debt [both household and commercial debt] to exceed the rate of GDP growth, thereby diverting more and more income to the financial sector as debt service. Keen traces this view back to Irving Fisher’s famous 1933 article on debt deflation – the residue from unpaid debt. Such payments to creditors leave less available to spend on goods and services.
In explaining the mathematical dynamics underlying his “Minsky” model, Keen links financial dynamics to employment. If private debt grows faster than GDP, the debt/GDP ratio will rise. This stifles markets, and hence employment. Wages fall as a share of GDP.
This is precisely what is happening [today].
Mainstream (neoliberal) economics has no way to take this debt-driven boom-bust cycle into account, or even to see it for what it is, since neoliberal economics doesn't see debt as a driver of the economy at all. As Hudson says below, for them it's the old logic that "debt doesn't matter, because 'we' owe the debt to 'ourselves.'"
But mainstream models ignore the overgrowth of debt, as if the economy operates on a barter basis. Keen calls this “the barter illusion,” and reviews his wonderful exchange with Paul Krugman (who plays the role of an intellectual Bambi to Keen’s Godzilla). Krugman insists that banks do not create credit but merely recycle savings – as if they are savings banks, not commercial banks. It is the old logic that debt doesn’t matter because “we” owe the debt to “ourselves.”
[But the] “We” are the 99%, the “ourselves” are the 1%. Krugman calls them “patient” savers vs “impatient” borrowers, blaming the malstructured economy on personal psychology of indebted victims having to work for a living and spend their working lives paying off the debt needed to obtain debt-leveraged homes of their own, debt-leveraged education and other basic living costs....

Keen explains why, mathematically, the Great Moderation leading up to the 2008 crash was not an anomaly, but is inherent in a basic principle: Economies can prolong the debt-financed boom and delay a crash simply by providing more and more credit, Australia-style. The effect is to make the ensuing crash worse, more long-lasting and more difficult to extricate. [...]

3--Washington Elite Opts to Destroy Trump at All Costs by Publius Tacitus


People who should have been fired or moved when Trump took over have been allowed to stay. Well, if you don't kill the rats, don't be shocked when they eat your food and defecate in your kitchen.


4--The working class must intervene with its own program in the political crisis in Washington


With each passing day, it becomes increasingly evident that the political crisis gripping Washington involves a conflict between two reactionary factions of the ruling class and state apparatus.

Trump’s opponents in the media and political establishment, headed up by the Democratic Party, represent another faction of the ruling elite. They are not raising a single progressive or democratic issue in their campaign against Trump. Their appeal is not to the working class, but to the military-intelligence apparatus, particularly the FBI, NSA and CIA. It has an unstated agenda, developed behind the scenes, and centered largely on foreign policy issues.
If their effort to bring Trump into line or remove him from office succeeds, it will only strengthen the position of the corporate-financial elite and the “deep state” of intelligence officials and generals. The main consequence will be to immediately shift foreign policy toward aggression against Russia, escalating the drive to world war and, bound up with this, social counterrevolution ...

Wages are stagnant, growing at barely the official inflation level. A report published earlier this month by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that the typical 27-year-old man’s annual earnings in 2013 were 31 percent less than those of a 27-year old man in 1969, in real terms. Median household incomes have fallen since 1999.
Seven years after the passage of Obamacare, the health care crisis is even more severe. The effect of that law was to shift the burden of costs from corporations and the state to workers, while encouraging employers to slash “overly generous” health benefits. Last month, aviation and defense giant Honeywell became the latest corporation to eliminate health care benefits for retirees.


5--Our Founding Fathers wanted a republic, not a democracy


"Hence it is that democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and in general have been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths … A republic, by which I mean a government in which a scheme of representation takes place, opens a different prospect and promises the cure for which we are seeking." — James Madison, Federalist Papers No. 10.


6--Why Did the Founding Fathers Choose a Republic?


7--Real News Network--Mueller replaces Comey --Same old, Same old


8--More on Seth Rich

of all the possible suspects to have leaked DNC emails to WikiLeaks, thus possibly sidetracking Hillary Clinton's hopes for the White House, it seems that Mr. Rich, who was the Voter Expansion Data Director at the DNC, was far ahead of Russia on that score. 

Yet US media scoffed at any attempt to make a connection between Mr. Rich and the DNC leaks, even after WikiLeaks decided in August to issue a US $20k reward for information leading to conviction for the murder of the young staffer. It's important to note that WikiLeaks never said Rich was the source of the leaked emails. And Washington metropolitan police reported his killing was related to a robbery gone awry.

Nevertheless, Wheeler's recent comments are raising some eyebrows. In fact, The Washington Post would have performed much more of a public service by examining this story rather than seeing a Russian behind every tree.
“My investigation up to this point shows there was some degree of email exchange between Seth Rich and WikiLeaks,” Wheeler said. “I do believe that the answers to who murdered Seth Rich sits on his computer on a shelf at the DC police or FBI headquarters.”

9--Kucinich  Deep state


10--Seth Rich more


email communications with WikiLeaks

11--Trump--Special prosecutor doomsday


12--Comey tries to take down Trump


13--Justice Department appoints special counsel to investigate Trump-Russia claims


14--Macron names government to implement social counterrevolution in France


15--How Trump 'Giving Israeli Secrets to Russia' Will Impact Middle East


The allegation that an espionage agent spying for Israel is in danger of losing his life because President Trump revealed classified information is deeply damaging to him. It is said that he told senior Russian officials that the spy had disclosed details of an Isis plot to blow up planes by placing explosives inside laptops carried on board.
The Israeli spy story is so damaging to Mr Trump because it is simpler and more concrete than vague accusations that his presidential election campaign was aided by Russia. But in both cases the allegations should be treated with caution because they come from US intelligence agencies and mass media that are engaged in a fierce struggle for power and influence with Mr Trump and are hence highly partisan


16--Has Israel joined the "impeach trump" bandwagon?


Then I noticed (thanks to a tweet by Max Blunenthal) that Alan Dershowitz had called the Trump-betrayed-ally’s-secrets-to-Russia story “the most serious charge ever made against a sitting president.” It had been evident to me, in reading the coverage, that there was only one “Middle Eastern ally” (or ally of any region) which has the chutzpah to “warn” the United States “it would cut off access to…sensitive information”—while itself stealing, with impunity, America’s most closely-guarded secrets. As Newsweek reported in 2014: “Israel has been caught carrying out aggressive espionage operations against American targets for decades… They just don’t get arrested very often.” (Also see herehere, and here). There is only one ally about whose “compromise” Republicans and Democrats would be so unanimously concerned, and certainly only one who would have prompted the ridiculous charge by Dershowitz.  And within an hour, the NYT confirmed, again via a “current and former American official,” that Israel was the ally in question, the source of the “secret intelligence...

Now perhaps these “current and former American officials” who are leaking all this ultra-sensitive classified intelligence information are entirely neutral about, or even unsympathetic to, Israel; and perhaps they and the media outlets publicizing their leaks—a few hours after insisting that identifying the secret ally would harm it—put Israel’s name out because they are committed to letting the public know the truth, no matter whom it hurts. Or perhaps these officials and these media outlets are in fact supportive of Israel, and would only publicize information they know that Israel wants revealed (or at least has no objection to revealing). Everyone will have to decide, based on his/her understanding of American-Israeli political and media relations, which of those scenarios is more likely.

I think the latter. I also notice that, in the last week or so, there have been reports in the American and Israeli press that Netanyahu’s “honeymoon with Trump” has “ended abruptly,” that there have been “harsh exchanges” with Trump administration officials who told members of Netanyahu’s team, to their “utter shock,” that the Western Wall was “not your territory but rather part of the West Bank,” and that Netanyahu is now “wary” and increasingly mistrustful of Trump.

I suspect this betrayal-of-an-ally-to-Russia story, and the frantic news cycle it has generated, means that Israel is showing its concern. And that is bad news for Donald Trump. Israel is a very powerful player, with its hooks embedded throughout the Deep State apparatus. The frantic news cycle that followed—with another blaring headline a few hours later about how Trump asked Comey to stop the Flynn investigation,  a spate of articles about how Trump is a criminal president who might have obstructed justice and betrayed his oath, and an announcement that the impeachment clock is running—means that big guns are blazing, and Trump is now in another realm of trouble

Russiagate has not yet gained enough traction with Republican congresscritters, who would face a revolt of their Trump voters against any acquiescence to an impeachment driven by Nancy Pelosi, vagina-hatted protestors, and Steven Colbert. If, however, impeachment becomes driven by concern for our betrayed Middle Eastern ally; if Dershowitz is right that “The demographics are clear. Republicans now support Israel much more strongly than Democrats”; and if Mike Pence, Ted Cruz, and the Congressional Israel Victory Caucus take the outstretched hands of concerned constitution- and FBI-loving liberals, then the prospects improve dramatically

The Democratic Party and the #Resistance are not going to impeach Donald Trump. The Democratic and Republican Parties can and will if they want to.  And, as they never cease proclaiming, what Israel wants, they want.
Fast and furiously, in the course of a single news cycle, the game has changed: Donald Trump has been accused of betraying Israel. Impeachment is possible.


17--The Special Council Inquisition - Bad For Trump - And All of Us







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