On my reading-list

22 Sep, 2019 at 17:17 | Posted in Politics & Society | Comments Off on On my reading-list

snowden
 
My friend – you bow to no one!
 

Bab’Aziz

22 Sep, 2019 at 15:14 | Posted in Varia | Comments Off on Bab’Aziz

 

Donald Trump is a criminal

22 Sep, 2019 at 14:45 | Posted in Politics & Society | 5 Comments

Trump-in-PrisonDavid Frum: Dann kam der berauschende Moment des Jahres 1990, und plötzlich schien die Zukunft des ganzen Planeten so auszusehen. Alles würde nur besser und besser und besser werden. Die Sphäre des Friedens, der Freiheit und des Wohlstands würde sich endlos ausdehnen, auch China und Indien würden dazugehören … Diese Hoffnung ist Anfang des 21. Jahrhunderts verschwunden. Und dann wurden die Vereinigten Staaten langsam unberechenbar.

ZEIT ONLINE: Mit der Wahl Donald Trumps?

Frum: Nein. Man kann das zurückdatieren auf den Irakkrieg. Oder auf Obamas Unbehagen, die Rolle der USA als führende Weltmacht fortzusetzen. Doch auch die schärfsten Kritiker von George W. Bush oder Barack Obama würden diesen Präsidenten nicht unterstellen, dass diese aus persönlicher Böswilligkeit heraus gehandelt haben. Donald Trump hingegen hat etwas Heimtückisches. Ein solcher Mann sollte nicht Präsident sein, er hätte nicht einmal in die Nähe des Weißen Hauses kommen dürfen. Die Tatsache, dass es anders kam, ist Ausdruck eines Versagens des politischen Systems der USA. Doch es ist nicht nur ein systemisches Versagen. Es hat auch mit diesem Mann zu tun. Und eben das verleiht dem Moment gerade seine emotionale Wucht …

Ich habe mein aktuelles Buch nicht zufälligerweise Trumpocracy genannt. Es gibt viele Bücher über Trump, und deren Fokus liegt auf seiner Person. Ich hingegen interessiere mich für sein System der Machtausübung. Das Folgende ist eine schlichte Meinungsäußerung von mir: Donald Trump ist ein Krimineller. Die Menschen in seiner Nähe, die ihm zuarbeiten, wissen das besser als alle anderen. Sie ermöglichen dennoch das System Trump …

Der Präsident hat ein besseres Verständnis dafür entwickelt, wie er sein Amt nutzen kann. Er ist gewandter geworden. Er ist wie einer dieser Dinosaurier in Jurassic Park, die irgendwann verstehen, wie man einen Türgriff benutzt. Trump ist besser in seinem Job geworden. Sein Verhalten ist extremer geworden. Er lügt mehr.

Die Zeit

La Fed e il controllo della politica monetaria

21 Sep, 2019 at 12:50 | Posted in Economics | Comments Off on La Fed e il controllo della politica monetaria

Alla Casa Bianca non è piaciuta la decisione della Federal Reserve di tagliare soltanto di un quarto di punto il tasso di riferimento. Ma l’attacco furioso via Twitter cela il fatto che a Donald Trump sia piaciuto ancor meno il modo in cui Jay Powell, in conferenza stampa, ha spiegato la decisione. È un rimedio, ha detto il presidente della Fed, all’incertezza prodotta dalla politica commerciale, in particolare dagli effetti della guerra tariffaria sull’economia globale, che ha un impatto negativo su due componenti della domanda americana: esportazioni e investimenti. Si tratta, ha aggiunto, di decisioni che non cadono sotto la responsabilità della Fed, la quale non può fare altro che perseguire al meglio delle sue possibilità il mandato che il Congresso le ha assegnato.

IPEImage_16Non è stata tuttavia la decisione di politica monetaria, peraltro largamente prevista, a fare notizia sui mercati monetari statunitensi. È stata invece l’operazione con la quale la Fed ha immesso liquidità nel sistema bancario per 203,2 miliardi di dollari in tre operazioni condotte tra martedì 17 e giovedì 19 settembre. L’immissione di liquidità è avvenuta con operazioni di pronti contro termine, ovvero di acquisto con patto di rivendita di titoli, soprattutto federali e mutui cartolarizzati (Mbs).

La notizia sta nel fatto che erano più di dieci anni che la banca centrale americana non faceva ricorso a operazioni di questo genere. Ed è piuttosto curioso che abbia dovuto immettere liquidità in un sistema bancario nel quale le banche hanno in mano circa 1.400 miliardi di dollari di riserve in eccesso …

Nulla, tuttavia, che la Fed non potesse prevedere, o che non potesse controllare in via automatica con strumenti simili alle aste a tasso fisso a piena aggiudicazione che la Banca centrale europea offre settimanalmente alle banche europee. Si è dunque trattato di un problema operativo, che tuttavia mette in luce il fatto che la Fed dovrà mettere a punto i propri strumenti per minimizzare la volatilità dei tassi. E fa prevedere qualche prossimo provvedimento di tecnica di politica monetaria da parte della banca centrale americana.

Andrea Terzi

Ist Libra besser als Euro und Dollar?

21 Sep, 2019 at 11:57 | Posted in Economics | Comments Off on Ist Libra besser als Euro und Dollar?

Notenbanker und Finanzminister sind nicht glücklich über die Ankündigung mehrerer Firmen, darunter Facebook, PayPal und Mastercard, eine eigene elektronische Währung namens Libra schaffen zu wollen …

libra_undermines_euroDas ist wenig überraschend, denn Libra ist nichts anderes als ein Angriff auf das Währungsmonopol des Staates … Am Montag wurden die Libra-Macher deshalb einbestellt: zum Treffen in der so verschwiegenen wie mächtigen Bank der Notenbanken, der Bank für internationalen Zahlungsausgleich (BIZ), in Basel. Nachher war zu hören, dass es den Notenbankern vor allem um eines ging: dem Umgang mit der sogenannten Reserve, das ist das Geld, mit dem die Libra gedeckt sein soll. Eingezahlt wird es von den Menschen, die Libra kaufen. Und das Geld in der Reserve ist der Grund, dass Libra überhaupt eine Währung ist …

Werden die Notenbanken also bald mit ihrem eigenen elektronischen Bargeld herauskommen? Es ist ihnen zu raten. Auch aus Sicht der Kunden wäre mehr Wettbewerb auf dem Feld begrüßenswert. Damit das E-Geld besser wird. Vorab müssen allerdings grundsätzliche Fragen geklärt werden. Denn mit dem E-Euro gäbe es ein Zweiklassensystem des elektronischen Gelds: das der Banken und das der Notenbank. Wie soll man das abgrenzen? Wie sorgt man dafür, dass das Geld der Banken nicht von dem der Notenbank verdrängt wird?

Es könnte sein, dass die EZB sich aus diesen Gründen am Ende gegen eine eigene elektronische Währung entscheidet. Dann allerdings werden die Herausforderungen noch größer. Denn die EZB muss dafür sorgen, dass Libra trotzdem Konkurrenz bekommt.

Lisa Nienhaus / Die Zeit

Joy Ride Bicycle

21 Sep, 2019 at 11:33 | Posted in Varia | Comments Off on Joy Ride Bicycle

 

Your time is limited. So don’t waste it!

20 Sep, 2019 at 07:39 | Posted in Varia | 2 Comments

 

This one is for my sons and daughters — David, Tora, Linnea, Sebastian, Amanda.
Never give in.
Never give up.

Black Rock — The Wall Street Monster

19 Sep, 2019 at 13:19 | Posted in Economics | Comments Off on Black Rock — The Wall Street Monster

 

Den svenska budgetpropositionen — fullständig idioti!

18 Sep, 2019 at 20:03 | Posted in Politics & Society | 3 Comments

pannaI den idag presenterade budgetpropositionen ligger prognosen för statsskulden på 15% av BNP fram till år 2022.

Och den offentliga sektorns skuld beräknas falla till under 30% år 2022.

Och detta samtidigt som tillväxten faller, arbetslösheten ökar och behovet av offentliga investeringar i infrastruktur, vård och utbildning är skriande.

Man kan inte annat än ta sig för pannan!

Och som om det inte var nog med denna idioti avskaffar man värnskatten.

Och detta när alla — både i forskarvärlden och bland folk i allmänhet — diskuterar hur förödande den ökande ojämlikheten är.

Ett sista glas (personal)

18 Sep, 2019 at 08:33 | Posted in Varia | Comments Off on Ett sista glas (personal)

20181019_203409-12144170962.jpgÅr 2018 var — precis som de flesta år — ett år med både glädje och sorg.

För mig kommer året ändå alltid att främst förknipppas med att det var året då min bäste vän sedan mer än trettio år  — Bengt Nilsson — gick ur tiden.

Inga ord kan riktigt beskriva vad man känner när en människa man älskat inte längre finns där. Man minns skratten, glädjen, omtanken, den mäktiga intelligensen, den drastiska humorn, och det starka sociala patoset.

I dag är det ett år sedan du gick bort, min vän. Livet går vidare — men kommer alltid att vara lite gråare, lite tristare, utan dig.

Med värme och kärlek tillägnad Ingrid, Anton och Iskra.

Nordhaus dangerous gamble for humanity’s future

17 Sep, 2019 at 07:33 | Posted in Economics | 2 Comments

Nordhaus’s transgressions are immense. His ‘damage function’ which he uses to estimate global warming damage is incorrect and uses data that has nothing to do with climate change. Despite this, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) uses his model to advise governments about the economic impact of global warming.

Thermometer graphicsNordhaus and other mainstream climate economists certainly have a lot to answer for. Their thinking has seriously delayed action to avert damage done from climate change.

The central problem with Nordhaus’s model is the “damage function”, which is a mathematical fiction that has little to do the real world. Using a spurious method, he calculates that 2°C of warming will only reduce global economic output – GDP – by 0.9 percent, and 4°C would cut GDP by 3.6 percent.

These are trivial changes. If it were true, there would be little to worry about. This is the reason that Nordhaus has repeatedly argued that from the point of view of economic rationality an “optimal” path would be 3.5°C of warming above preindustrial levels.

Climate scientists, meanwhile, are truly panicked about a 2°C increase. They assert that global warming must be kept to 2°C or below, or risk tipping us into a “domino-like cascade that could take the Earth’s system to even higher temperatures”.

Nordhaus’s damage, however, function projects a smooth transition. So it is like describing a canoe trip along a river with a waterfall by saying you will descend seven metres for every kilometre paddled. That would describe the river section of the journey very well, but not the part where you plummet over the waterfall …

Nordhaus it seems has completely failed to understand climate science.  The only changes he has made to his research over the years have made it less able to handle tipping points.

Steve Keen

Elmar Altvater In Memoriam

16 Sep, 2019 at 17:37 | Posted in Economics | Comments Off on Elmar Altvater In Memoriam

elmarElmar Altvater was a renowned political economist and professor at the Otto-Suhr-Institute of Freie Universität Berlin from 1970 until 2006. Until his death in 2018 he was a point of reference for several generations of students, left-wing academics and politicians, trade union activists, representatives of civil society organizations in Germany, across Europe and in Latin America. He became one of the few academics in Germany who based the analysis of contemporary economic and political developments on a critical reading of Marxian approaches to understand the historical cycles of growth, recession and crisis in modern capitalism. The following text attempts to sketch some elements of a remarkable leftist intellectual history of the Federal Republic of Germany through the prism of Elmar Altvater while referring to some of the political initiatives Elmar Altvater was involved in and touching on some of the most important topics he has dealt with: the causes and consequences of the numerous debt crisis; the role of neoliberalism which emerged in the course of crisis of world finance since the late 1970s; the impact of “finanzialization” on social cohesion and politics at national, European and international level and, most importantly, his attempt to analyze the degradation of nature as the “price of progress” – on the basis of an ecologically expanded critique of political economy.

Birgit Mahnkopf

Les marionnettes de Milton Friedman

16 Sep, 2019 at 13:35 | Posted in Economics | Comments Off on Les marionnettes de Milton Friedman

UnknownAlors le capitalisme est-il curable ? La primauté à l’actionnaire (shareholder primacy) n’est pas inscrite dans ses gènes. Elle a prospéré dans les années 1980, quand la mort annoncée du communisme a donné des ailes aux partisans d’une économie de marché débridée. « Cela a causé tant de tort au capitalisme que même Lénine n’aurait pas fait mieux », ironisait Felix Rohatyn, figure historique de la banque Lazard …

Plus les discours sont forts, plus l’écart avec la réalité apparaît béant. Et plus les thérapies proposées sont agressives. On imagine la consternation de Friedman devant le succès de celui qu’il considérerait à coup sûr comme le plus redoutable des « marionnettistes », Thomas Piketty. Avec son Capital et idéologie (Seuil, 1 232 p., 25 euros), l’économiste jette un pavé dans la vitrine du capitalisme ; et non content de vouloir le « dépasser » au profit d’un « socialisme participatif », il a su trouver l’oreille de candidats démocrates à la Maison Blanche, au moins sur les hausses d’impôts. Mais entre ses solutions radicales et le nouveau mantra social-vert des grands patrons, on cherche toujours le chemin vers un capitalisme durable.

Jean-Michel Bezat / Le Monde

Why policy design without theory is useless

16 Sep, 2019 at 13:00 | Posted in Economics | 2 Comments

Taking into account the methodologies that support some policy practices that favour inductive reasoning and randomized control trials of impact evaluation (RCTs), there is a controversy around the utilization of these attempts to build experimental programmes or policy intervention …

so youAs the decision-making policy process in the real world relies on institutional factors that may be different elsewhere, the methodology based on RCTs does not provide a credible basis for policy making. In short, the outcomes of inductive investigation can never be completely transported across time and space …

In fact, the methodology of RCTs runs the risk of considering worthless casual relationships as relevant causalities in the attempt to develop policy recommendations. In short, the use of the outcomes of RCTs as normative orientations for policy making should be put in question.

“What works” in the “sterile” environment of a laboratory does not necessarily work in a real-world where social interactions and the dynamics of institutions are overwhelmed by power relations. Therefore, ethical considerations should be considered in any attemp to build policy proposals.

Indeed, the transformation of the economic policy approach has evidently been a remarkable one. It is worth recalling the words of Lars Syll about the current sad state of economics as a science,

“A science that doesn’t self-reflect and asks important methodological and science-theoretical questions about the own activity, is a science in dire straits. The main reason why mainstream economics has increasingly become more and more useless as a public policy instrument is to be found in its perverted view on the value of methodology.”

Maria Alejandra Madi / WEA Pedagogy Blog

Evidence-based theories and policies are highly valued nowadays. Randomization is supposed to control for bias from unknown confounders. The received opinion is that evidence-based on randomized experiments, therefore, is the best.

More and more economists have also lately come to advocate randomization as the principal method for ensuring being able to make valid causal inferences.

I would however rather argue that randomization, just as econometrics, promises more than it can deliver, basically because it requires assumptions that in practice are not possible to maintain.

Especially when it comes to questions of causality, randomization is nowadays considered some kind of ‘gold standard.’ Everything has to be evidence-based, and the evidence has to come from randomized experiments.

But just as econometrics, randomization is basically a deductive method. Given the assumptions (such as manipulability, transitivity, separability, additivity, linearity, etc.) these methods deliver deductive inferences. The problem, of course, is that we will never completely know when the assumptions are right. And although randomization may contribute to controlling for confounding, it does not guarantee it, since genuine randomness presupposes infinite experimentation and we know all real experimentation is finite. And even if randomization may help to establish average causal effects, it says nothing of individual effects unless homogeneity is added to the list of assumptions. Real target systems are seldom epistemically isomorphic to our axiomatic-deductive models/systems, and even if they were, we still have to argue for the external validity of the conclusions reached from within these epistemically convenient models/systems. Causal evidence generated by randomization procedures may be valid in ‘closed’ models, but what we usually are interested in, is causal evidence in the real target system we happen to live in.

When does a conclusion established in population X hold for target population Y? Only under very restrictive conditions!

Ideally controlled experiments (still the benchmark even for natural and quasi experiments) tell us with certainty what causes what effects – but only given the right ‘closures.’ Making appropriate extrapolations from (ideal, accidental, natural or quasi) experiments to different settings, populations or target systems, is not easy. ‘It works there’ is no evidence for ‘it will work here.’ Causes deduced in an experimental setting still have to show that they come with an export-warrant to the target population/system. The causal background assumptions made have to be justified, and without licenses to export, the value of ‘rigorous’ and ‘precise’ methods is despairingly small.

Facebook’s digital currency Libra — just for suckers or a global economic revolution?

14 Sep, 2019 at 19:04 | Posted in Economics | 1 Comment

zuckMit 20 Partnern hat Facebook die digitale Weltwährung “Libra” angekündigt … Mit einem Schlag kann das Konsortium alle nur denkbaren Netzwerkeffekte im digitalen Zahlungsbereich ausschöpfen. Damit ist Libra unmittelbar und überall präsent. Eine globale ökonomische Revolution.

Die Digitalökonomie folgt der Regel “The winner takes it all”. Wer die Netzwerkeffekte auf seiner Seite hat, schafft ein Quasi-Monopol. Facebook ist außerdem ein Meister nutzerfreundlicher Interfaces. Gleich mehrere Libra-Partner beherrschen die hier notwendige Massendatenverarbeitung. Es gibt hinreichend Erfahrung mit digitalen Währungen wie Bitcoin und der Nutzung von Blockchains und Messengerdiensten zur Geldübertragung. Erfahrung, Technologiekompetenz, weltweite Nutzerbasis, Lobby- und Kapitalmacht machen das Libra-Konsortium also außergewöhnlich stark.

Sarah Spiekermann

Interesting view. But obviously not all economists are convinced that Libra would be a blessing:

Every currency is based on confidence that the hard-earned dollars “deposited” into it will be redeemable on demand. The private banking sector has long shown that it is untrustworthy in this respect, which is why new prudential regulations have been necessary.

Speech bubble on blue background, Thumbs DownBut, in just a few short years, Facebook has earned a level of distrust that took the banking sector much longer to achieve. Time and again, Facebook’s leaders, faced with a choice between money and honoring their promises, have grabbed the money. And nothing could be more about money than creating a new currency. Only a fool would trust Facebook with his or her financial wellbeing. But maybe that’s the point: with so much personal data on some 2.4 billion monthly active users, who knows better than Facebook just how many suckers are born every minute?

Joseph Stiglitz

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