Où va le monde

31 Jul, 2019 at 19:20 | Posted in Varia | Comments Off on Où va le monde

 

Timbuktu

31 Jul, 2019 at 14:51 | Posted in Varia | Comments Off on Timbuktu

 

I sat the other day and read my newspaper
A day like so many others before
And I thought about all those dreams
You dream that one after another have come to an end

Then I saw a picture of a girl
With a wounded crow in her arms
She runs through the forest
As fast as she possibly can

And I started to tremble in agony and distress
I shook with fear and terror
Because I knew for sure
That it was a picture of me that I saw

Because my hope is a wounded crow
And I’m a running child
That thinks there’s still someone to help me
That thinks there’s someone who has the answer

Warren vs Matthews: 10-0

31 Jul, 2019 at 13:44 | Posted in Politics & Society | Comments Off on Warren vs Matthews: 10-0

 

MMT — the key insights

31 Jul, 2019 at 10:25 | Posted in Economics | 20 Comments

As has become abundantly clear during the last couple of years, it is obvious that most mainstream economists seem to think that Modern Monetary Theory is something new that some wild heterodox economic cranks have come up with. That is actually very telling about the total lack of knowledge of their own discipline’s history these modern mainstream guys like Summers, Rogoff and Krugman have.

New? Cranks? Reading one of the founders of neoclassical economics, Knut Wicksell, and what he writes in 1898 on ‘pure credit systems’ in Interest and Prices (Geldzins und Güterpreise) soon makes the delusion go away:

It is possible to go even further. There is no real need for any money at all if a payment between two customers can be accomplished by simply transferring the appropriate sum of money in the books of the bank

A pure credit system has not yet … been completely developed in this form. But here and there it is to be found in the somewhat different guise of the banknote system

We intend therefore​, as a basis for the following discussion, to imagine a state of affairs in which money does not actually circulate at all, neither in the form of coin … nor in the form of notes, but where all domestic payments are effected by means of the Giro system and bookkeeping transfers. A thorough analysis of this purely imaginary case seems to me to beworthwhile​e, for it provides a precise antithesis to the equally imaginary​ case of a pure cash system, in which credit plays no part whatever [the exact equivalent of the often used neoclassical model assumption of ‘cash in advance’ – LPS] …

For the sake of simplicity, let us then assume that the whole monetary system of a country is in the hands of a single credit institution, provided with an adequate number of branches, at which each independent economic individual keeps an account on which he can draw cheques.

What Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) basically does is exactly what Wicksell tried to do more than a hundred years ago. The difference is that today the ‘pure credit economy’ is a reality and not just a theoretical curiosity — MMT describes a fiat currency system that almost every country in the world is operating under.

In modern times legal currencies are totally based on fiat. Currencies no longer have intrinsic value (as gold and silver). What gives them value is basically the simple fact that you have to pay your taxes with them. That also enables governments to run a kind of monopoly business where it never can run out of money. A fortiori, spending becomes the prime mover and taxing and borrowing is degraded to following acts. If we have a depression, the solution, then, is not austerity. It is spending. Budget deficits are not a major problem since fiat money means that governments can always make more of them.​

In the mainstream economist’s world, we don’t need fiscal policy other than when interest rates hit their lower bound (ZLB). In normal times monetary policy suffices. The central banks simply adjust the interest rate to achieve full employment without inflation. If governments in that situation take on larger budget deficits, these tend to crowd out private spending and the interest rates get higher.

What mainstream economists have in mind when they argue this way, is nothing but a version of Say’s law, basically saying that savings have to equal investments and that if the state increases investments, then private investments have to come down (‘crowding out’). As an accounting identity, there is, of course, nothing to say about the law, but as such, it is also totally uninteresting from an economic point of view. What happens when ex-ante savings and investments differ, is that we basically get output adjustments. GDP changes and so makes saving and investments equal ex-post. And this, nota bene, says nothing at all about the success or failure of fiscal policies!

For the benefit of our latter-day​ ‘New Keynesian’ mainstream economists, let’s see what a real Keynesian economist has to say about crowding out and government deficits:

Fallacy 3
Government borrowing is supposed to “crowd out” private investment.

The current reality is that on the contrary, the expenditure of the borrowed funds (unlike the expenditure of tax revenues) will generate added disposable income, enhance the demand for the products of private industry, and make private investment more profitable. As long as there are plenty of idle resources lying around, and monetary authorities behave sensibly, (instead of trying to counter the supposedly inflationary effect of the deficit) those with a prospect for profitable investment can be enabled to obtain financing. Under these circumstances, each additional dollar of deficit will in the medium long run induce two or more additional dollars of private investment. The capital created is an increment to someone’s wealth and ipso facto someone’s saving. “Supply creates its own demand” fails as soon as some of the income generated by the supply is saved, but investment does create its own saving, and more. Any crowding out that may occur is the result, not of underlying economic reality, but of inappropriate restrictive reactions on the part of a monetary authority in response to the deficit.

William Vickrey Fifteen Fatal Fallacies of Financial Fundamentalism

It is true that MMT rejects the traditional Phillips curve inflation-unemployment trade-off and has a less positive evaluation of traditional policy measures to reach full employment. Instead of a general increase in aggregate demand, it usually prefers more ‘structural’ and directed demand measures with less risk of producing increased inflation. At full employment deficit spendings will often be inflationary, but that is not what should decide the fiscal position of the government. The size of public debt and deficits is not — as already Abba Lerner argued with his ‘functional finance’ theory in the 1940s — a policy objective. The size of public debt and deficits are what they are when we try to fulfil our basic economic objectives — full employment and price stability.

That governments can spend whatever amount of money they want is a fact. That does not mean that MMT says they ought to — that’s something our politicians have to decide. No MMTer denies that too much of government spendings can be inflationary. What is questioned is that government deficits necessarily is inflationary.

‘Har du modet att lyssna’

30 Jul, 2019 at 14:29 | Posted in Varia | Comments Off on ‘Har du modet att lyssna’

 

Poesi och musik i vacker förening.
Hansson de Wolfe United — ett fenomen i svensk popmusik utan motstycke.

Identity politics is bullshit

29 Jul, 2019 at 18:17 | Posted in Politics & Society | 2 Comments

Identität ist alles. Ich. Meine Werte und meine Rechte. Das, was (zu) mir gehört. Was ich bin oder sein will. Wovon ich überzeugt bin, weil ich es einfach weiß. Wofür ich anerkannt und entschädigt werden muss. altIdentität ist eine riesige Sprechblase, die immer größer wird, je mehr Leute sich am Spiel beteiligen: Identität ist Heimat ist Hautfarbe ist Geschlecht ist sexuelle Orientierung ist Kultur ist Herkunft ist Familie ist Nation ist Tradition ist Integration. Was ist Identität? Die Antwort kann nur tautologisch sein (“Identität ist Identität”). Identität ist, wie der italienische Literaturwissenschaftler Daniele Giglioli konstatiert, entsprechend ihrer lateinischen Wortwurzel idem “die Permanenz desselben”. Identität ist auch etwas, das Immanuel Kant ens rationis nannte, einen “leeren Begriff ohne Gegenstand” …

Nicht Identitäten fordern Anerkennung von anderen, sondern konkrete Menschen. Nicht über Identitäten kann und soll man streiten, sondern darüber, welche Ansprüche berechtigt sind und welche nicht, welche Lebensformen mit anderen kollidieren, was im Zusammenleben “geht” und was nicht. Es sollte darum gehen, wie Menschen in all ihrer Unterschiedlichkeit miteinander zurechtkommen. Was wir brauchen, das ist eine Sensibilität für Situationen und Kontexte, die Bereitschaft zu lernen und zu experimentieren.

“Identität” aber ist Bullshit. Wir sollten den nutzlosen Identitätsbegriff also entsorgen. Theoretiker wie Praktikerinnen sollten nach pragmatistischer Art neue Begriffe finden, die sich als konkret zweckmäßig erweisen, politisch und gesellschaftlich, im Zusammenleben der Menschen – und nicht bloß als Bälle in einem Sprachspiel, das am Ende höchstens dem Distinktionsgewinn einiger Intellektueller dient.

Rebekka Reinhard & Thomas Vašek / Die Zeit

Facebook’s role in Brexit

29 Jul, 2019 at 14:29 | Posted in Politics & Society | Comments Off on Facebook’s role in Brexit

 

The Great Hack

29 Jul, 2019 at 12:34 | Posted in Politics & Society | 4 Comments

 

Just watch it!

Everything you want to now about MMT

29 Jul, 2019 at 08:36 | Posted in Economics | 2 Comments


One of the positive contributions of MMT, especially from a european point of view, is that it makes it transparently clear why the euro-experiment has been such a monumental disaster. The neoliberal dream of having over-national currencies just doesn’t fit well with reality. When an economy is in a crisis, it must be possible for the state to manage and spend its own money to stabilize the economy.

When the euro was created twenty years ago, it was celebrated with fireworks at the European Central Bank headquarters in Frankfurt. Today we know better. There are no reasons to celebrate the 20-year anniversary. On the contrary.

euroAlready since its start, the euro has been in crisis. And the crisis is far from over. The tough austerity measures imposed in the eurozone has made economy after economy contract. And it has not only made things worse in the periphery countries, but also in countries like France and Germany. Alarming facts that should be taken seriously.

The problems — created to a large extent by the euro — may not only endanger our economies, but also our democracy itself. How much whipping can democracy take? How many more are going to get seriously hurt and ruined before we end this madness and scrap the euro?

The euro has taken away the possibility for national governments to manage their economies in a meaningful way — and in country after country, the people have had to pay the true costs of its concomitant misguided austerity policies.

The unfolding of the repeated economic crises in euroland during the last decade has shown beyond any doubts that the euro is not only an economic project but just as much a political one. What the neoliberal revolution during the 1980s and 1990s didn’t manage to accomplish, the euro shall now force on us.

But do the peoples of Europe really want to deprive themselves of economic autonomy, enforce lower wages and slash social welfare at the slightest sign of economic distress? Are​ increasing income inequality and a federal überstate really the stuff that our dreams are made of? I doubt it.

Warum das deutsche Schulsystem so schlecht ist

28 Jul, 2019 at 23:02 | Posted in Education & School | Comments Off on Warum das deutsche Schulsystem so schlecht ist

 

Solow kicking Lucas and Sargent in the pants

28 Jul, 2019 at 13:25 | Posted in Economics | 2 Comments

robert_solow4Professors Lucas and Sargent … have a proposal for constructive research that I find hard to talk about sympathetically. They call it equilibrium business cycle theory, and they say very firmly that it is based on two terribly important postulates — optimizing behavior and perpetual market clearing. When you read closely, they seem to regard the postulate of optimizing behavior as self-evident and the postulate of market-clearing behavior as essentially meaningless. I think they are too optimistic, since the one that they think is self-evident I regard as meaningless and the one that they think is meaningless, I regard as false. The assumption that everyone optimizes implies only weak and uninteresting consistency conditions on their behavior …

It is plain as the nose on my face that the labor market and many markets for produced goods do not clear in any meaningful sense. Professors Lucas and Sargent say after all there is no evidence that labor markets do not clear, just the unemployment survey. That seems to me to be evidence. Suppose an unemployed worker says to you “Yes, I would be glad to take a job like the one I have already proved I can do because I had it six months ago or three or four months ago. And I will be glad to work at exactly the same wage that is being paid to those exactly like myself who used to be working at that job and happen to be lucky enough still to be working at it.” Then I’m inclined to label that a case of excess supply of labor and I’m not inclined to make up an elaborate story of search or misinformation or anything of the sort … Why doesn’t the unemployed worker who told me “Yes, I would like to work, at the going wage, at the old job that my brother-in-law or my brother-in-law’s brother-in-law is still holding”, why doesn’t that person offer to work at that job for less? Indeed why doesn’t the employer try to encourage wage reduction? That doesn’t happen either … Those are questions that I think an adult person might spend a lifetime studying. They are important and serious questions, but the notion that the excess supply is not there strikes me as utterly implausible.

Robert Solow

No unnecessary beating around the bush here.

The always eminently quotable Solow says it all.

The purported strength of New Classical macroeconomics is that it has firm anchorage in preference-based microeconomics, and especially the decisions taken by inter-temporal utility-maximizing “forward-looking” individuals.

To some of us, however, this has come at too high a price. The almost quasi-religious insistence that macroeconomics has to have microfoundations — without ever presenting neither ontological nor epistemological justifications for this claim — has put a blind eye to the weakness of the whole enterprise of trying to depict a complex economy based on an all-embracing representative actor equipped with superhuman knowledge, forecasting abilities and forward-looking rational expectations. It is as if — after having swallowed the sour grapes of the Sonnenschein-Mantel-Debreu-theorem — these economists want to resurrect the omniscient Walrasian auctioneer in the form of all-knowing representative actors equipped with rational expectations and assumed to somehow know the true structure of our model of the world.

Solow once again shows us how totally and unbelievably ridiculous Chicago economics is.

On August 23 this great economist will be 95. Congratulations Robert!

Bachman-Turner Overdrive

28 Jul, 2019 at 13:01 | Posted in Varia | Comments Off on Bachman-Turner Overdrive

 

Chants Magnetiques

28 Jul, 2019 at 12:31 | Posted in Varia | Comments Off on Chants Magnetiques

 

An absolute classic. My favourite Autobahn music.

Non-normal normality

28 Jul, 2019 at 11:38 | Posted in Economics | 1 Comment

Asset price distributions are of great practical significance for portfolio managers. Standard finance theory assumes that asset price changes follow a normal distribution—the well-known bell curve. That this assumption is roughly accurate most of the time allows analysts to use very robust probability statistics. For example, for a sample that follows a normal distribution, you can identify the population average and characterize the likelihood of variance from that average.

33331However, much of nature—including the man-made stock market—is not normal. Many natural systems have two defining characteristics: an ever-larger number of smaller pieces and similar-looking pieces across the different size scales. For example, a tree has a large trunk and a number of ever-smaller branches, and the small branches resemble the big branches. These systems are fractal. Unlike a normal distribution, no average value adequately characterizes a fractal system. Fractal systems follow a power law.

Using the statistics of normal distributions to characterize a fractal system like financial markets is potentially very hazardous. Yet theoreticians and practitioners do it daily. The distinction between the two systems boils down to probabilities and payoffs. Fractal systems have few, very large observations that fall outside the normal distribution. The classic example is the crash of 1987. The probability (assuming a normal distribution) of the market’s 20%-plus plunge in one day was so infinitesimally low it was practically zero. And still the losses were a staggering $2 trillion-plus.

‘C’est comme toute l’histoire du peuple noir qui se balance entre l’amour et l’désespoir.’

28 Jul, 2019 at 11:32 | Posted in Varia | Comments Off on ‘C’est comme toute l’histoire du peuple noir qui se balance entre l’amour et l’désespoir.’

 

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