Yearly Archives: 2016

Two Simple Suggestions for George Soros

Naked Capitalism has the article Two Simple Suggestions for George Soros.

Soros is not my least favorite billionaire — he does not, to my knowlege, own a super-yacht (Financial Times, “Superyachts magnify billionaires’ worst traits”) — and he’s funded the Institute for New Economic Thinking, which is certainly a worthier cause than, say, the economics department of Florida State University. So today is my day to be nice! Rather than go through Soros’s essay in detail, I’m going to make two very very simple suggestions:

1. Soros Should Simply Stop Funding Democrats
2. Soros Should Simply Stop Funding Neoliberal Projects

I would certainly agree that Soros is not my least favorite billionaire. In fact I have read some of his writings, and I like them. This article quotes some that I had not read that are also reasonably likeable.


I think philanthropy even on the Nineteenth Century Robber Baron model — Carnegie Libraries, the Frick Museum, or genuine scholarship[1] — would be preferable to continuing to fund Democrats, or neoliberal projects generally. Soros should consider those alternatives. Short neoliberalism[2].

I agree with the idea of not funding the Democratic Party anymore. There are other suggestions and insights in the article that I like alot.

US Govt Data Shows “Russia” Used Outdated Ukrainian PHP Malware 1

Wordfence has the the oddly title article US Govt Data Shows Russia Used Outdated Ukrainian PHP Malware.

I say oddly titled because their conclusion is the opposite of the title. Upon rereading the title, I see that there is sarcasm in it that I did not notice at first.

The IP addresses that DHS provided may have been used for an attack by a state actor like Russia. But they don’t appear to provide any association with Russia. They are probably used by a wide range of other malicious actors, especially the 15% of IP addresses that are Tor exit nodes.

The malware sample is old, widely used and appears to be Ukrainian. It has no apparent relationship with Russian intelligence and it would be an indicator of compromise for any website.

Our “intelligence” agencies or the political hacks that oversee them may not be aware of how many computer security experts there are in the world who can analyze this data that they released. They probably figure that most people will take them at their word and believe their claim that this data proves Russia is behind it all. In fact the data shows that they have no reason to believe the Russians did it, other than the fact that they want us to believe that the Russians did it.

When You Sling Mud, You Dirty Yourself

CBS “News” has the story Russia responds to U.S. sanctions.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Friday that his country would not expel U.S. diplomats in response to a new round of U.S. sanctions.

Why does Obama think it appropriate to retaliate against Russia for the DNC meddling in our election? Reminds one of our retaliation against Iraq for the Saudi Arabian attack on 9/11. By claiming the leaks came from Russian cyber attacks, Obama is confirming that the leaked information was true. Yet there are no consequences for Americans’ corrupting the primary elections. This casts serious doubts on Obama’s integrity. Makes you wonder if 9/11 could have been a false flag operation.

It sure does not add credibility to our claims against Assad in Syria.

It was the strongest action the Obama administration has taken to date to retaliate for a cyberattack, and more comprehensive than last year’s sanctions on North Korea after it hacked Sony Pictures Entertainment.

Was this attack just as phony as the claims against Russia? If our government comes away from these repeated claims with a shred of credibility, it will be a miracle.

The Craziest Story Ever Told

The Washington Post has the story Obama administration announces measures to punish Russia for 2016 election interference.

Taken together, the sanctions and expulsions announced Thursday were the most far-reaching U.S. response to Russian activities since the end of the Cold War, and the most specific related to Russian hacking. The administration also released a listing of addresses of computers linked to the Russian cyberattacks and samples of malware inserted into U.S. systems.

There is no way that these accusations against the Russians can be true. If they were really as good as our “intelligence” community says they are, they would not have left traceable tracks. The WikiLeaks people who know where the material came from say it isn’t the Russians who leaked the information. They claim it was a Washington insider who leaked the emails. So, who are you going to believe?

Let us suppose that Obama is correct in his accusations that the Russians leaked information that was so damaging to Hillary Clinton that it caused her to lose the election. Then he is admitting that the leaked emails are absolutely true, that they are, in fact, a true representation of what the Democratic National Committee actually did.

Why would Obama go to such extreme lengths to corroborate what is in the leaked emails? Can it be that the Russians have even worse information that they could leak, and he needs to discredit it before they leak it? However, if he is confirming that what they have leaked so far is true, then how will this cast doubts on what they leak next?

I hate it when people come out with some preposterous explanation and then say that this is the only possibility they can imagine. I always retort that this is no proof of what they are proposing, but it is only a proof of their inability to imagine something else. So please, won’t somebody rescue me and come out with an imagined counter story to the one I am proposing here?

David Autor: Why are there still so many jobs?

There is a TED talk David Autor: Why are there still so many jobs?.

Here’s a paradox you don’t hear about: Though machines and computers are constantly being created to do human jobs, the proportion of adults in the US with a job has consistently gone up for the past 125 years. Which begs the question: Why hasn’t human labor become redundant and our skills obsolete? In this talk about the future of work, economist David Autor takes on the question of why there are still so many jobs — and comes up with a surprising, hopeful answer.

Now this is an example of a TED Talk that goes seriously off the rails.

I agree that there can be work to do in a future economy, but it won’t be nearly as certain as he makes out. In the teller case, the work that he outlines for today’s tellers is not necessarily good. They may sell more product in our over financialized economy, but they aren’t necessarily products that are good for the economy. All you have to do to understand the problem is to read up on the Wells Fargo scandal of how they found work for their employees by getting them to “sell” products to customers who weren’t even aware that they were “buying” something. OK, so he picked a bad example.

He mentions the importance of education in solving our problems in the past. In today’s world where other countries with lower wage levels are already out educating their citizens compared to ours, pushing more education on us is necessary to stave off collapse, but it isn’t enough to make progress for our citizens.

A large part of the problem is who gets to benefit from the wealth created by increased productivity. If all the wealth goes to a few at the top, we won’t need that many workers to supply what the wealthy need. If the non-wealthy get a fair share of the benefits of increased productivity, then the work needed to fill the needs of everybody and the declining number of work hours needed to be middle class (because of the fair share) will keep this country on the road to better lives for all.

This is the political work we need to do. We need to be working on, trying out, and voting for ways to make the wealth shared in a reasonably equitable way. We need to develop better ways to measure the success of the “economy”. The measure of how much GDP we produce without considering who is getting the increase and who is not, is a very poor measure that we need to stop using.

If you read the comments that others made about this talk, they also raise serious issues with it that aren’t even covered by what I had to say.

Wolf Richter: New Census Data Shows Why the Job Market is Still “Terrible” (as Trump said)

Naked Capitalism has the article Wolf Richter: New Census Data Shows Why the Job Market is Still “Terrible” (as Trump said).

So the number of jobs since 2010 has risen by 13.8 million – which the economists are endlessly touting, along with the even better sounding 14.8 million since 2011. But the population has increased by 16 million since 2010. Most of them are people of working age, jostling for position to grab one of these jobs that would put them on the nonfarm payrolls. And this is why the job market for many individuals is “terrible,” as Trump said.

Read this article to be armed with the numbers when any neo-liberal tries to tell you how many wonderful jobs have been created under President Obama. Many of us, especially Bernie Sanders supporters, have been saying this for over a year. The neo-liberals who thought they could win elections by pretending we were not experiencing what we could plainly see happening include Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Warren, and Barrack Obama.

Since Elizabeth Warren is my Senator, I can make an effort to see that she has to pay a political price for endorsing Hillary Clinton when she could have and should have endorsed Bernie Sanders. It is the only way that these people will get the message. And if they still don’t get the message, at least we will have pushed them out of the way to where they can do no harm.

Elizabeth Warren The Phony

Elizabeth Warren sent me a solicitation to support the Economic Policy Institute.

Elizabeth Warren is a traitor to the cause of the 99%. She is just another politician who will say anything. I don’t think she believes a word she says given that she could endorse Hillary Clinton and pretend that Clinton was a champion for the 99%. She had a chance to endorse the true representative, Bernie Sanders, but she muffed it.

I have unsubscribed from the email list of the Economic Policy Institute.

Chanos: Is a Big Change Underway in Global Capitalism?

Naked Capitalism has this very important article Chanos: Is a Big Change Underway in Global Capitalism?.

Events conspire to derail our perceptions of presidents. When we look at their platforms, we think we know where things are headed. But in modern times, the only two presidents that I can think of who really got their ideas and platforms enacted wholesale were FDR and Reagan. Everybody else has gotten compromised, or has had events overwhelm them.

This is an interview with a very perceptive investor and academic who seems uniquely able to look at reality without letting his biases interfere. He sees things quite differently (and more wisely) from most of today’s pundits.

What is particularly enlightening about this interview is both how much he knows and also how much he is aware of what he does not know.

One thing to learn here is to avoid getting all worked up about what you imagine Donald Trump will do because there is too much uncertainty about what he might do. We are just going to have to hang loose and wait for events to transpire before we will know what to do.

Why Central Bank Models Failed and How to Repair Them

Naked Capitalism has the article Why Central Bank Models Failed and How to Repair Them.

Here is what Yves Smith, who posted the article, had to say to try to make the ensuing paper more understandable to a lay audience.

This is a layperson-friendly description of why the most widely used macroeconomic model, the dynamic stochastic general equilibrium model, is lousy. Most macroeconomists will acknowledge privately that these models are reliable only over a six month horizon, when they are used over much longer time frames. Note that while each central bank has it own version, they all have the same structure and underlying assumptions.

My experience with computer simulation of differential equations helped me understand some of the points of the article. Admittedly, my understanding is hardly complete, but each little piece I can add to my understanding eventually builds into a more complete picture. If you pick up anything out of this article, have faith that it adds to what you know.